And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:3-6)

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Greatest Sandwich I Ever Ate

I love it when God brings forgotten memories of His faithfulness to mind. The other day I was pondering such things. Being a list maker my heart was fixed upon a time in life where there was great loneliness, and yet God was showing His care in several ways.

Near the seminary where I attended was also a church that had taken pity on me and hired me as a custodian. I say pity because I was immature and not very good at my job. My efforts never seemed to measure up, and yet the folks there were gracious and patient with me.

On Monday nights they conducted visitation. I would take care of the church cleaning, especially the sanctuary. Here I would privately preach to an empty room with my thoughts running deep into the glories of God. One particular Monday had been exasperating. My loneliness was washing over me as a storm, wondering what God had in store for my future. I was tired, and lacking hope.

As I rounded the hall while dwelling on these thoughts a man stopped me. I recall his name as Rick Martinez. He was the director of visitation. In his hand was a napkin covered plate. Handing it to me he expressed that the family had thought of me while eating dinner and wanted to share with me.

Even now I fail to draw the bucket up from the depths of what God was working in my heart at that moment. It became a spiritual marker to me. Under that napkin was a handful of potato chips and a very simple sandwich. The sandwich was white bread, ham, and cheese. There were no condiments. But its simplicity represented the God would be my daily bread. It was like eating manna that night.

That one act of kindness, that Christian love, set a renewal of strength and faith in me that has its workings even now.

Martinez family, where ever you are, may God be blessing you.

Monday, April 26, 2010

In Memorium

E Earle Ellis has passed.

While in Seminary Dr. Ellis was one of the two most influential professors I had. I will never forget the final exam night of The Theology of Jesus class he instructed. Before the exam he had us bow for prayer. The he unleashed one of the most moving prayers I have ever heard. That prayer alone made the course worthwhile.

We had the joy of entertaining him for dinner once. It gave me an entirely different perspective on the man. I began to see past the dress shirts and bow ties. He was quite jovial and captivating in general conversation as well as in theology.

He shared of how growing up his home town had a tomato festival.. It was complete with a parade, a queen, and a tomato fight. He grinned with delight at the recollection of getting in a few good pitches in those days.

We often would see him exercising in the gym. Always polite and always in thought, he exemplified a life of putting Christ first in everything.

I will miss him.

The obituary is from

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)--Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's E. Earle Ellis, a New Testament professor who 25 years ago held conservative views on the Bible when many of his colleagues didn't, died March 2. He was 83.

Ellis, research professor of theology emeritus, served at the seminar from 1985 until his death, which came only two weeks before his 84th birthday. Flags around the seminary campus have been lowered to half-staff in Ellis' honor.

Ellis' conservative views stood out at a time when the Southern Baptist Convention's conservative resurgence -- which returned the denomination to its orthodox roots -- had just begun.

"Dr. Earle Ellis distinguished himself as a classroom teacher, scholar, author and true friend to thousands," Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Seminary, said. "Until the last 30 days of his life, he worked diligently to complete a commentary on First Corinthians. He drove his chariot like Jehu and did everything that he did with a flourish. He is more a part of Southwestern than Fort Worth Hall -- the venerable, original building on campus. We will all miss him profoundly."

"Dr. Ellis was also a courageous man," Patterson said. " stood with conservative students who were attempting to have a pro-life group on a campus when, before 1979, such was not popular. Dr. Ellis demonstrated his courage by volunteering to be the faculty sponsor for the group contrary to the will of the administration."

Ellis' contributions to New Testament scholarship reflect the same courage. According to Sang-Won "Aaron" Son, professor of New Testament at Southwestern and one of Ellis' former doctoral students, Ellis challenged the skepticism of modern scholars and stood for the truths of Christianity throughout his career. Son, in a 2009 interview, testified that Ellis was known throughout the world as an "evangelical scholar" who trusted God's Word without yielding "his faith commitment to anyone, even to the most eminent of scholars or to the most vocal of power-groups."

Having studied under Ellis, Son said his mentor stood "as a great model for and encouragement to me and to many other young evangelical scholars. He has successfully demonstrated to us how we should compete with the best, yet without yielding our evangelical faith."

According to Berry Driver Jr., dean of libraries and Ellis' long-time friend and colleague, Ellis not only excelled in scholarship, but he was also a devoted churchman and apologist for the Baptist faith. Ellis' concern for the church was reflected in his works, as can be seen in the last sentence in the preface to his book, "The Making of the New Testament Documents:" "In this Easter season, it is my prayer that the volume will glorify God and further illumine his Word to his church."

"Ellis lived within the Scriptures," Driver said. "One day a professor came by his office with an oblique theological question in an obscure New Testament text. Dr. Ellis entered into the relevant text with aplomb and was soon moved to tears by its devotional application to his own life."

According to Driver, Ellis' "fidelity to God's Word is his greatest legacy" to the seminary: "His deep reverence to verbal plenary inspiration, biblical authority and the sufficiency of Scripture continue as powerful foundations among his students, imparted richly in his lectures and through his large body of writings."

Throughout his career, Ellis produced, alongside numerous articles, several books that have made a significant impact in the field of biblical studies: "Paul's Use of the Old Testament;" "Paul and His Recent Interpreters;" "Eschatology in Luke;" "Prophecy and Hermeneutic in Early Christianity;" "The Gospel of Luke;" "The World of St. John;" "Pauline Theology: Ministry and Society;" "The Old Testament in Early Christianity;" "Christ and the Future in New Testament History;" and "The Sovereignty of God in Salvation: Biblical Essays." Before his death, Ellis was laboring to complete a commentary of 1 Corinthians for the New International Critical Commentary series.

The impact of Ellis' scholarship is portrayed by the two festschrifts that have been written in his honor. The first, published in 1987, is titled "Tradition and Interpretation in the New Testament: Essays in Honor of E. Earle Ellis for his 60th Birthday." A more recent festschrift, titled "History and Exegesis: New Testament essays in honor of Dr. E. Earle Ellis for his 80th Birthday," was edited by Southwestern professor Sang-Won "Aaron" Son. High-profile New Testament scholars from across the world, including F.F. Bruce, I.H. Marshall, Seyoon Kim, N.T. Wright, Richard Bauckham and Gordon Fee, also contributed to these volumes.

Ellis was born to Lindsey Thornton and Lois Belle McBride Ellis on March 18, 1926, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and was raised in the nearby town of Dania. After serving in the United States Army from 1944 to 1946, he began to show his academic capabilities as he completed his pre-law Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Virginia in 1950, with concentrations in law, economics, political science and history.

Although Ellis spent a year in the University of Virginia School of Law and intended to enter into a career in law, he began to develop a God-given thirst for Scripture that supplanted his desire to study law. He then studied for a time at Faith Seminary in Wilmington, Del., but soon moved to the Wheaton Graduate School in Wheaton, Ill., where he received his M.A and B.D. degrees by 1953. Two years later, he was awarded with a Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh.

After his graduation, Ellis served in universities and seminaries throughout the United States, including Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Southwestern Seminary. He also founded the Institute for Biblical Research and the International Reference Library for Biblical Research.

Ellis is survived by his sister, Mary Lou Ellis Wilburn of South Carolina, and her three children: David Norman Wilburn III, Carol Lindsey Wilburn Franken and Timothy Ellis Wilburn.

Southwestern Seminary will host the funeral for Ellis at the Truett Auditorium during chapel time, 10:50 a.m.-noon (Central), on Wednesday, March 10. Patterson and Paul Wolfe, headmaster of The Cambridge School of Dallas, will officiate the funeral. Afterward, a graveside service will be held at 2:30 p.m. at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery in Dallas. Visitation will occur on Tuesday, March 9, from 4-6 p.m. in the Rose Room of the seminary's Naylor Student Center.

A fund honoring the work of Ellis has been established in the School of Theology. Gifts honoring the life and ministry of Ellis may be made to the School of Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, P.O. Box 22596, Fort Worth, Texas, 76122.

Based on reporting by Benjamin Hawkins, a writer for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (

Copyright (c) 2010 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press

Friday, April 16, 2010

T4G Free Books Value

Saints and friends,
Here is a list of the free books that were given away at T4G this week. I have calculated the values as if they were all purchased at Amazon.

ESV Study Bible Hardback $31.49
He is Not Silent, Al Mohler $15.63
The Church and the Surprising Offense of God's Love Jonathan Leeman $13.59
Proclaiming a Cross Centered Theology, Dever, Duncan, Mohler, Mahaney $7.99
The Unquenchable Flame $10.19
Scandalous, D A Carson $10.87
The Trellis and the Vine $21.00
Finally Alive, John Piper $10.19
It is Well, Mark Dever & Michael Lawrence $12.14
Marks of the Messenger, Mack Stiles $9.99
Fear Not, J. Ligon Duncan $9.34
The Priority of Preaching, Christopher Ash $11.04
Jonathan Edwards on Beauty, Owen Strachen & Doug Sweeney $9.99
The Gospel for Muslims, Thabiti Anyabwhile $9.35
Dug Down Deep, Joshua Harris $9.99
The Jesus You Can't Ignore, John MacArthur $15.63
What is the Gospel, Greg Gilbert $9.35
The Holiness of GOd, R C Sproul $10.07
Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, J I Packer $8.00
Discovering God, Phillip Ryken $10.19

All for a grand total of $246.03!

Thank you Sovereign Grace Ministries and all the book sellers who contributed.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Most Important T4G Message

All the T4G messages were outstanding. I especially gleaned from Thabiti Anyabwhile, and R C Sproul. But John Piper's message is one we all need to ponder upon in order to get the Gospel right.
Here is the link.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Job Seeks God in Suffering


Here again are my rough notes from the Sunday sermon. I apologize for not having them as a more detailed expression of what was preached. Prayerfully, we will begin putting the sermon MP3 on iTunes.

Job Seeks God in Suffering
Job 2:11-13 & 3:1-26

The Three Friends Arrive
They had planned to meet and show sympathy and comfort.
They had not recognized him from a distance by his disfigurement.
How did they know to come?
How long of time had passed since the disasters till their arrival?
Common courtesy was that the guests would not speak till spoken to. So for seven days and seven nights they silently waited. Mourning the dead 7 days was a common practice.

Job Wishes He had Never Been Born
The expression of grief and pain
Job breaks forth is an emotional Lament
3:3-10 are rhetorical in nature, and often a curse. They call in the “fairness” of life. Her we get a glimpse of the despondency and depression that is now setting in. He did not just want to hold onto his life as satan had accused, but he was looking at the purposelessness of continuing on.
3:11-16 Job wonders his reason for having been born.
3:26 The lack of rest from affliction is a problem that many of us face. The failure to have hope in future grace bewilders us. Note that Job had no idea of the coming Savior or the richness of God’s kingdom. This is where the Christian turns for truth to set them free despite circumstances.

The silence is a customary way of morning and grieving with a friend.

The three friends represent 3 geographical and thus cultural perspectives. We often get a variety of “Advisements” when we have problems. Job contains 3 cycles of speech looking at suffering. Like a great play, this story has passion and drama, Job however is very real.
This is an apologetic on suffering. The pain we can relate to, but moso we need to relate to know God.

3 tests in Job
• Disaster test, sudden loss both material and biological
• Emotional and physical
• Theological test
Here Job will be tested in his discernment of the experience. This is his most detailed challenge.

Read Verses here
The sudden burst of communication is the rending of Job’s heart.
It is not a pity party
He is finding that he is falling into the foolish talk his wife had advised him.

See the pain involved. Satan had started the first two tests, material and emotional. Now the natural course takes its course.

God is not ignoring Job’s Pain. He is building up in Job a time of learning, of character, and of discernment. These can only come through the pain of waiting and meditation on the issues at hand rather than rushing through them. We must take time to meditate and explore the word. What led the Pharisees to their missing the mark was their failure to think the Gospel through, they stopped at their first and most self serving conclusions.

Job has not been having his times of worship. (In the end he will return to worship)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

How to Listen to a Sermon

Thomas Watson’s advice on preparation for hearing a sermon

1. Prepare to hear the Word by bathing your soul in prayer.
2. Come to the Word with a holy appetite and a tender, teachable heart.
3. Be attentive to the preached Word.
4. Receive with meekness the engrafted Word.
5. Mingle the preached Word with faith.
6. Strive to retain what has been preached and pray about the Word Proclaimed.
7. Put the Word into practice, be doers of it.
8. Beg the Spirit to accompany the Word with effectual blessing.
9. Familiarize yourself with the Word by sharing it with others.

“The Puritans relished good sermons. They attended church faithfully, took careful notes, and often talked and prayed through the sermon afterward with their children. These practices were the fruit of Puritan pastors teaching their people how to listen to sermons.”

“Point 7 is key, …If it does not make your heart better it will make your chains heavier”

This was adapted from Joel Beeke’s book Living for God’s Glory.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Discernment part 5

Not an alarmist

You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. Galatians 5:7-9

It is my hope that you do not perceive this as an over reaction to a simple question. I am only following suit with what the apostle Paul did when he too faced a church that lacked discernment. When you think about it, many of the epistles were written with a correction of false doctrine in mind, and in encouragement not to give in to poor discernment.

Consider what Paul was writing to the Galatians. They were falling into a false doctrine regarding circumcision. They had begun very well, but now a “new teaching” came along and ensnared them. In verse nine we have a clear understanding, a little leaven leavens the whole lump. Christ Himself gave warning to beware of the leaven of the scribes and Pharisees. So I now must ask, not on my authority, but upon that of the bible, the word of God, be discerning.

What are the results of failure to be discerning? It seems that as we continue to read Galatians five we find them, it is a falling captive to the works of the flesh. Discernment follow the Holy Spirit and leads to spiritual fruit, evidence of God in you. Otherwise we walk in the flesh, can not please God, and remain in our sin.

What is going on in the church?

For the LORD spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: "Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken." Isaiah 8:11-15

And when they say to you, "Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter," should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. They will pass through the land, greatly distressed and hungry. And when they are hungry, they will be enraged and will speak contemptuously against their king and their God, and turn their faces upward. And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness. Isaiah 8:19-22

These verses bring to mind what we see happening in the church. The church (and I use the term loosely here) has rejected the fear and word of God and has become like the world. They listen to Oprah, Phil, and others. The distressed and hungry and enraged can often be a description of the church. Their ears are dull of hearing; they can not perceive the word of God. We are not to fear what the world fears. (Some need to read 1 Peter when it comes to fear and politics) God is to be our sanctuary.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Let us return to the word of God. It is here we gain competence. Competence comes however with the experience of using the word of God, by applying it in all types of situations. God again calls us to listen to His wisdom and search the word of God for answers. True the Bible may not help you with Algebra II. But, He is the maker of Algebra II and when we study this mathematical discipline in awe of God it give us a greater appreciation for Him and therefore becomes an act of glorifying worship. The essence is this, God’s word does pertain to every aspect of life, He seeks to give us the right fitting desires of our heart, when we acknowledge Him, even abilities in Algebra II.

So what makes a good book or teacher?

A good book is one that upholds the sovereignty and holiness of God and in the end brings me a sense of awe in His majesty.


Websites for book reviews and The Shack

Books on Discernment

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, Gordon Fee

The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, Tim Challies

A Call For Discernment, Jay Adams

Christianity and Liberalism, J Gresham Machen.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Discernment part 4

Is there a “comfort” to just be human or a stark contrasting teaching that we need the cross of Christ?
We should wonder, how is God’s person treated? What about His holiness and sovereignty, his justice and wrath, His grace and at what cost?

Once the above questions are asked and answered, we can simply ask these more simplistic ones before making a final decision:
Does this teaching require us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him?

If the world accepts it, should we? If the sages of the world are not offended by it does it then fit with scripture that the world will oppose the things of Christ?

If a teaching or book passes these tests, is there a better book or teaching that has gone on before that better glorifies God thus nullifying the use of this book?

How does this promote sanctification, and is it like eating meat that has been offered before idols?

A question of discernment.
As a pastor I regularly get all sorts of e-mail forwards. These range from stories, jokes, and heart rending photos. But if you have email you have almost certainly have received a forward that tells a long story only to be concluded with “Email this forwards if you truly love Jesus, otherwise you don’t”. It has all the love of a snail mail chain letter. Folks, let me say that our salvation is based on faith through the grace of the cross. Sending that e-mail amounts to a works righteousness, and that itself is wrong. You will not lose your salvation for deleting it.
Now, I say all this as an example of the use of discernment? Some will fear and pass it along. It will only accomplish a work of entrapment for the person sending it, and give the world fodder for calling us fools. The world mocks us when we fall prey to such easily discerned snares. Let us not be so quick to accept a teaching that “We have never heard before”. This is especially true when it comes from a source that has yet to gain credibility.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Discernment part 3

Are there any prohibitive commandments pertaining to the teaching at hand?
We need to know our Bible. People who have brought me such books like The Shack are often legitimately looking for answers, but fiction is a shortcut. I love the Chronicles of Narnia series, and Pilgrims Progress. Their allegorical tales help us to remember to be God focuses. But even these are not a substitute for scripture, especially when it comes to doctrine.

Are there any endorsements in the scriptures to this matter?
Again we need to know our bibles, and their contextual settings. If we do not know our bible, why should we look for meaning in other things? If a child can not do multiplication why set her about the work of calculus? Eve was tempted by Satan as he twisted what God had said. When Satan tempted Christ he again used scripture, but scripture in the wrong context. We must be aware of this pattern and flee.

What are the implications if you continue to follow this trail of reasoning?
When you read Why Bad Things Happen To Good People you get the idea that God can not do everything due to limitations. The implications then run that He is weak, therefore His promises are not but allegories, and thus they are not a true help or hope, then we are really on our own, and thus have no need of God. It further implies that God is not God by the fact that He can not keep what He has promised, it compromises holiness and righteousness. The whole of Christianity then falls.
So when we read, what the author says has greater impact than just the topic that may be at hand. A good book bases itself on the supremacy of God.

Are there any secondary or implied teachings in scripture as to this thought or teaching?
This can find a good example in the next question I ask. But let us also recon to understand this question but looking at Why would God kill Achan in the Old Testament, or Annanias and Saphariah in the New? The implication is that their situation taught much about interfering with the work of God. We do not have a direct black and white or red letter explanation of the text, but enough is there around the story to settle the issue. When a teacher teaches something that is not directly addressed, they must have a clear support for what they are stating. I once heard a sermon where the speaker said the storm against the disciples on the Sea of Galilee was caused by Satan. I questioned him on what scripture supports that, and all he could remark was that “If I knew as much as him about Satan I would understand”. The argument here fails not just on proof texts but on shifting blame. We must be aware of this same response or support in teachings that are not clearly proved.

Is there any scriptural precedent at all to this?
For example, I have been asked about the book 90 Minutes in Heaven. Here we have Don Piper giving us a revelation or interpretation of what he says he saw in Heaven. Now scripturally we find two persons who saw heaven, Paul and John. As you read the bible, you will see their not being allowed to speak of what they saw. Thus I ask the question, why should Don Piper be any different?

Does it properly identify God in spirit and in truth? Or is it man’s interpersonalization, making God in man’s image as described in the second commandment?

Is this a new teaching? Is it an old teaching that has been controversial or rebutted?
If it is it must be approached with caution. Two thousand years of church history has a precident for anything “New”. For that matter, if we hear a new teaching it behooves us to research similar teachings in the past and how it was treated doctrinally. This is precisely why we have things such as the Apostles Creed and the Westminster Catechism.

Is the teaching man centered or God centered?
To answer this we should ask “Who gets the glory”? Is God and man seen more equally or in greater contrast? Is man sharing God’s glory? Herein we may be able to save ourselves a lot of time and research on a teaching. If it is man centered we should disregard it, for it will never be gospel driven.

Does God seem limited or more humanistic? Or Is it fiction that takes an artistic license to stress an author’s point while negating others?
Here is my biggest problem with the shack. Mr. Young, tries to give his viewpoint while negating all precedent of God as represented in the scriptures. He tries to illustrate a point, but in his taking artistic license to the points as he does he fails miserably at upholding the redemptive nature of God. The very tenants of the Christian fait are held in question, God is presented and a doting mother rather than the Almighty Holy Holy Holy God. I found Michael Youseff’s article as noted in the appendix to answer this question with great justice.

Does the author have any other teachings that are controversial or biblical?
We should always consider the source. It also must be noted that many good authors will have a bad book, but they will overarchingly have good books the give them credibility above a bad one.

If you go back to the early church fathers and their teachings, is this an issue that is in contrast to the things they themselves taught?
As stated above, new teachings have already been handled, there is no new teaching. Take time to enrich yourself in church history before accepting anything new. Consider the teachings of Athanasis and Pelagius, their stories give a great background as to how the church ought to handle heresy.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

We Have a Winner

Sunday night my daughter selected a name from a hat for our win the pen contest. So we do have a winner. Please check your e-mail to see if you have won.
Once the winner has been notified, with permission I will feature their web blog and announce their name.
The prize pen is a blue and silver with gold hardware modle, similar to the blue and green one above.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Discernment Part 2

Here is part two of Discernment.

How to Read a Book and Other Needs of Discernment

When we are instructed we should ask ourselves “Is a teaching good, bad, a faithful use of our limited time”? Why are there Christian books that come out annually that become the rage? Pundits and friends alike tell us “you have to read it”, and they are even supported by the secularists. That alone should be caution one according to these verses:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4

"If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. "If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. John 15:18-19

If a nonChristian falls in love with a book that purposes a Christian theme, it is most likely either for money, for a false teaching, or both.

Let us consider what was written by the writer to the Hebrews,
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. Hebrews 5:12-14

My fear is that too many settle for milk. The church today is at a loss for lack of discernment. We are given over to fads, trends, schemes, marketing, and kitsch. The book of Acts had none of this. So why are we trying to do things with man’s methods? I think the answer lies in the lack of discernment. We fail to pray (Which is a form of seeking discernment) and to wait upon God. Thus I believe than many pastors, professors, and parishioners have settled for whatever means work for Coke a Cola must work for the church. The worlds methods creeping into the worship of God is what plagued the Hebrews of the Old Testament, can we not see it happening to us today?

Renewing your mind in Romans 12 and the text of Philippians 4:8 do not give room for The Shack. These verses were given for our sanctification. They are given for us to look to the glory of God in Spirit and in truth rather than the syncretism we find now.

Here are a few questions we ought to ask ourselves about the things we are taught by pastors, books, TV Preachers (and radio for that matter), teachers, websites, and well meaning persons. And as an aside, what do we discern of the hymns and praise choruses we sing with at church or on the radio?

What is the author saying?
In The Shack, the author is trying to deal with God and grief. In his artistic license is he really portraying God in a way that is in the image of God or in a man made image of God? This is crucial. The 3rd commandment is that we not make any graven image. But the context is that we not make God out to be of our own design and limitations. This robs God of His glory. I believe that this is only part of what William Young has done.

In the authors methods portraying God in Spirit and in truth? (John 4)
Remember, God is jealous for His name. He commands that we fear Him. To play fast and loose with the reverence we ought to have for God is serious ground to tread.

Do not ask “Not what is wrong with it, but does it glorify God”?
Had Eve asked this question, she might not find herself in the trap of sin.

Discernment part 1


For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Philippians 1:8-11

Every year it seems there comes a flood of pseudo-Christian books to bookstores everywhere. I had been asked my opinion and review on one of these tomes, The Shack by William P Young. Honestly, when it comes to The Shack most of my opinion has been influenced by friends who have read it, and by reading book reviews from reliable sources. When I tried to share what I have found with inquirers, some found it difficult to hear what I had to say from my sources. This has left me with the impression that they had a hard time grasping what understanding had to accompany the book. It appears they did not want a critique, just for me to join together in their reading. I find reading a spectrum of books to be good for growth, we all need to read books. But what alarms me is how often people read without discernment. Some books must be read, others should be feared, and still some need to be read with the understanding that they require discernment. The only redeeming factor in reading some of the “bad” books suggested to me may be that many read and instantly forget what they have read. The alarm remains though, that although we may not remember what we have read, we are subtly influenced by everything. That being said, I again emphasize, we must read with discernment.

Think of these books, The Shack, The Purpose Driven Life, Your Best Life Now, Christless Christianity, 90 Minutes in Heaven, 28 Minutes in Hell, Experiencing God, The Prayer of Jabez, Desiring God, Knowing God, The Left Behind Series, and The Pursuit of Holiness. Now, which ones are overtly Christian? Which have Heresy? Which ones do you question? Which are man centered and which are God centered? All of them have sold thousands if not millions. Which ones give you a sense that something is just not right? Which ones are using scripture? Which ones use scripture correctly and not in the authors bent of context?

I run us through this dialog to suggest and espouse, we need discernment. Discernment runs the same course as common sense and intersects at many points with pure wisdom. The problem is that many do not consider these needs before reading. They read based on suggestion, opinion, and top ten lists. I find this to be a lack of discernment. Paul in writing to the Philippians (1:8-11) Prayed that the church would have two things, Love and discernment. Discernment is key to holding fast and not being swayed by pop culture pseudo-Christianity. We must be like the Berean brethren who held even Paul accountable. We need to see if something is excellent, not just good. We need sincerity and be without blame, that is being pure and without fault. We are at fault if we believe lies that we should have known better, just ask Eve.

That being said, I am still going to peruse The Shack. But rather than a full fledged book review, I believe it is more prudent that we take time to discuss and explore spiritual discernment. At the end of this article I will note some great websites for reviews of The Shack and other books, as well as giving a short bibliography on qualified books regarding discernment.

Pastor's Heart

>I am asking you all to begin taking the next fifty days, till Pentecost, to pray about the things listed below. Many of them I have direction on, some are quite vague. As a matter of prayer I ask that you seek God to speak to you clearly and with scripture as reinforcement. Let us see where God is working and wisely choose what He would have us do by faith.

At the end of the fifty days, I will be asking you all for feedback. In the mean time, please feel free to inquire as to anything that may be presently unclear.

Prayer Ministry

  • Thursday Prayer- should it continue and in what context
  • Wednesday Nights- How can we do effective ministry with limited resources.
  • Youth- I believe we need to get our youth to make a habit of prayer in all things.
  • Active prayer walking-
  • Prayer partners-assigned, I have long seen the benefit of people praying together on a regular basis.

Building and Grounds

  • Parking Lot & Covered entry way- needs planning and direction
  • General upkeep- There are several things that need care. We are praying that God will call someone to be in charge of these things.
  • Roof needs- Our roof is starting to come apart in the high winds. We need God to provide the funds for upkeep and upgrades.
  • Remodel foyer- I is time for a few changes here, but what would best honor God?


  • Leadership- I believe we are missing out because we do not have a regular leader
  • Discipleship- What avenue should we pursue for our summer retreat
  • Reaching others- We need to look at reaching out not looking in.

Working with Arms of Love

  • Why Marriage Class- I have been asked to lead young couples.
  • Pre-Marital counseling- The above would lead to strengthening their families.
  • Free Wedding- AOL would be seeking churches would take on those who chose to marry and keep their baby rather than aborting them.

Men’s Ministry

  • Paul & Steve heading this up
  • Discipleship and Friendship

Women’s Ministry

  • TBD- being proactive in ministry and outreach.
  • Events designed to reach unchurched
  • Hearts at home
  • True Woman Conference?


  • Prayer Walking
  • Training- We need to see how this is properly done, with the full gospel presented and not salesmanship.
  • GROW
  • Proactive
  • Gift and Go
  • Pastor’s Class
  • In home bible study
  • Ad on Facebook?

Sermon’s on Itunes

Team Kid

  • Parent outreach- We are not reaching the parents
  • Focus on doctrine- Let us keep training the kids in the basics, preparing the next generation.
  • Focus on returning on Sunday- encouragement to come again.
  • Summer ministry?


  • Mission trip in August- Planning
  • Future Missions- What would God have us do in the future?
  • Missions education- We are severely lacking here. And this is our point of obedience.


  • Annual summit? Should we look to having an annual time of the body seeking God?
  • Life Action return? Should they be invited to return, or is their some other avenue?


  • Fall/Summer camp out retreat
  • Winter classics Classes at a college level on particular disciplines


  • Church covenant
  • New Deacons?

Budget Considerations

  • Stewardship Campaign? We have several financial needs, how do we address them?
  • Doing more, moving ahead by faith?

Planting a Church- My heart is to reach the world that God brings to us in our county.

  • International Students
  • International Residents
  • Adopt Students
  • Minister to Students
  • International Market in Edwardsville

Praying over the next 50 days, till Pentecost.

Looking for God’s activity, scripture, and co-incidence happenings

Sunday, April 4, 2010

One Moment Please

I may have to announce the winner of the pen tomorrow. I am waiting on my daughter to pull a number from a hat to find out who has won.

In the mean time, it seems Easter is both full of energy and draining. I am personally exhausted from the past few days. In another few days I will be attending the Together For The Gospel Conference. We need times away to be fed, and I am greatly looking for food.

As this blog has been sparse on postings lately, be expecting a flood of things over the next few days.