Wednesday, December 31, 2008

10 Reasons to Pray the Scriptures – John Piper

John Piper lists ten reasons why we should pray and meditate over biblical truth.

1. Biblical truth saves.
Take heed to yourself and to your doctrine; hold to that, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. (
1 Timothy 4:16)

2. Biblical truth frees from Satan.
You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. (
John 8:32)

3. Biblical truth imparts grace and peace.
May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. (
2 Peter 1:2)

4. Biblical truth sanctifies.
Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth. (
John 17:17)

5. Biblical truth serves love.
It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment.
(
Philippians 1:9)

6. Biblical truth protects from error.
Attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God...so that we may no longer be...carried to and fro by every wind of doctrine. (
Ephesians 4:13-14)

7. Biblical truth is the hope of heaven.
Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. (
1 Corinthians 13:12)

8. Biblical truth will be resisted by some.
The time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings. (
2 Timothy 4:3)

9. Biblical truth, rightly handled, is approved by God.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (
2 Timothy 2:15)

10. Biblical truth: Continue to grow in it!
Grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (
2 Peter 3:18)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

How Deep the Father's Love for Us - Fernando Ortega

My Favorite Bible Verse - Tim Hawkins

The other day I was talking with someone about memorizing Scripture and they asked me what my favorite Bible verse was. Like most people I do have a "life" verse which was central to my coming to faith in Christ, but when it comes to a favorite verse I am finding that the more I memorize God's Word the more I am finding more "favorites."

When asked about my favorite Bible verse I was reminded of this Tim Hawkins video.

Morning



















Compassionate Lord,
Thy mercies have brought me to the dawn
of another day,
Vain will be its gift unless I grow in grace,
increase in knowledge,
ripen for spiritual harvest.
Let me this day know thee as thou art,
love thee supremely,
serve thee wholly,
admire thee fully.
Through grace let my will respond to thee,
Knowing that power to obey is not in me,
but that thy free love alone enables me to serve thee.
Here then is my empty heart,
overflow it with thy choicest gifts;
Here is my blind understanding,
chase away its mists of ignorance.
O ever watchful Shepherd,
lead, guide, tend me this day;
Without thy restraining rod I err and stray;
Hedge up my path lest I wander into
unwholesome pleasure,
and drinks its poisonous streams;
Direct my feet that I be not entangled
in Satans’s secret snares,
nor fall into his hidden traps.
Defend me from assailing foes,
from evil circumstances,
from myself.
My adversaries are part and parcel of my nature;
They cling to me as my very skin;
I cannot escape their contact.
In my rising up and sitting down they barnacle me;
They entice with constant baits;
My enemy is within the citadel;
Come with might power and cast him out,
pierce him to death,
and abolish in my every particle
of carnal life this day.

from
"The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotion"
edited by Arthur Bennett

Monday, December 29, 2008

Marble Island and New Life in Christ




















I recently read an article in British Columbia Magazine (Winter 2008 – “Return to Marble Island”) where Larry Pynn wrote of visiting Marble Island, one of the Queen Charlotte Islands, where his father served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II.

Most soldiers faced bullets and shrapnel during the Second World War. But the Royal Canadian Air Force men who served on Marble Island, off Haida Gwaii, fought a relentless battle against the elements. . . .

Marble Island was the base for one of 11 radar stations the Canadian government built in 1943. Established to protect the nation from a potential Japanese invasion, this Pacific Coast air defence radar system operated until the end of the war in 1945. Of all the stations, Marble Island was perhaps the most vulnerable, a 0.5-square-kilometre outcrop exposed to the lashings of the Pacific Ocean in Cartwright Sound, off the western entrance to Skidegate Channel. . . .

At any given time, a complement of 48 to 79 men of all ranks kept the place patched up and operational. One of these was my father, Corporal James Arthur Pynn, who served at Marble Island between October 1944 and January 1945 as a carpenter with the construction and maintenance unit. . . .

My research into Marble Island so far has left me with one answered question: what remains today of the short lived radar station? To find out, I chartered a six-metre aluminum boat in the Village of Queen Charlotte . . .

What do we find? The camp that once stood on a slim margin of land has been flattened and ravaged by storms, the site overgrown with young spruce. . . . As for the radar station, I encounter no evidence of it during a brutal bushwhack to the top of the island. I do find a large fuel tank and sections of the incline railway; wooden ties, steel rails, and rusting spikes.

These, too, will corrode and disappear in time, as nature patiently washes away all evidence of three years of military occupation, and the memories of lives lived and lost are immortalized in the wind and rain and waves that continue to shape Marble
Island.

This story came to mind this past Sunday when I baptized Darcy at Arrowsmith Baptist Church. Having spend quite a bit of time over the past few months with him in his walk towards Christ, I was reminded of the dramatic changes that occur over time in ones heart when they come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Surrendering our hearts and lives to Christ is an act of abandoning the old and embracing the new. One of the great benefits of witnessing a baptism is that it helps us remember how far we've come; as sinners living in a fallen world, it's often easy to forget. In Christ we could paraphrase Larry Pynn’s last sentence to say:

Our old way of life will corrode and disappear in time, as Jesus patiently washes away all evidence of many years of sinful occupation, and the memories of lives lived and lost are immortalized in the wind and rain and waves of Christ's power and presence that continue to shape our hearts and souls.


Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)





Saturday, December 27, 2008

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Divine Intervention of God

Glory of God 1

Not long ago I watched an episode of “Intervention” on television that documented the life of Asa, a 30 year old man who struggled much of his life with bulimia nervosa and chronic alcoholism. Ultimately his family and friends recognized Asa had reached the point in his struggles with these addictions that he was about to die, and so they set up an intentional intervention for the purpose of getting him checked into a treatment center. Though initially aggressively resistant, Asa did surrender to the process and though he did experience a couple of relapses afterward, the treatment did have a transformational effect on his life.

In watching the program I found myself feeling both irritation and sympathy for Asa; irritation in that he refused to take responsibility for his behavior by blaming much of his struggles on others, and sympathy in that realized at times I struggle with that very same issue in my own life. Reflecting on all of this afterward, I also recognized this is also true for all of us. The Bible tells us that we have been “brought forth in iniquity” (Psalm 51:5) and are “by nature children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3). Because we are all born into this fallen world as sinners we have all grown up in families who are sinners, and thus are to some degree dysfunctional. "Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned" (Romans 5:12).


Asa’s struggle with his addictions is no different that our struggle with sin. We can deny our sin and blame our sin on someone else and refuse help with our sin but the reality is – "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. . . . If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us" (1 John 1:8,10). And even though the verse between these two tells us there is help with our sin struggle when we seek it: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9) - like Asa, even when we do seek help (confession, forgiveness, cleansing) - there will be times, just like Asa after treatment, when we will have relapses because sin will continue to be an ongoing problem for us while we live on this earth.

Yet because God intervened through Jesus Christ, there is hope: "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5). In this season of celebrating the divine intervention of God through the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – may we reflect both on our great need and the even greater provision by our most sovereign God who continually shows us mercy and grace.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . and from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. (John 1: 14; 16)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

D. A. Carson on Technology

After posting “The Distraction of Computers” this morning on this blog, I ran across an article on Justin Taylor's blog by D. A. Carson on modern technology that reflected some of my own thinking on this issue. Below are a few quotes from the article; to read the whole thing Click Here.

Scarcely less important than speed of access is the Internet's sheer intoxicating addictiveness–or, more broadly, we might be better to think of the intoxicating addictiveness of the entire digital world. Many are those who are never quiet, alone, and reflective, who never read material that demands reflection and imagination. . . . This is not to demonize tools that are so very useful. Rather, it is to point out the obvious: information does not necessarily spell knowledge, and knowledge does not necessarily spell wisdom, and the incessant demand for unending sensory input from the digital world (says he, as he writes this on a computer for an electronic theological journal) does not guarantee we make good choices. . . .

. . . . If we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, then we must be reading the Scriptures perennially, seeking to think God's thoughts after him, focusing on the gospel of God and pondering its implications in every domain of life. We need to hear competing voices of information from the world around us, use our time in the digital world wisely, and learn to shut that world down when it becomes more important to get up in the morning and answer emails than it does to get up and read the Bible and pray. . . . The gospel is the power of God issuing in salvation. Empowered by the Holy Spirit and living in the shadow of the cross and resurrection, we find ourselves wanting to be conformed to the Lord Jesus, wanting to be as holy and as wise as pardoned sinners can be this side of the consummation.

Snow for Christmas in Port Alberni!




The Distraction of Computers

I have not posted for almost a week because I have been experiencing computer/software issues. Trying to resolve this has not only affected my blogging but also my ability to write and communicate – along with taking time away from my family and my devotional time with the Lord. Living in the age of computers is a mixed bag of both blessings and curses. Our modern technology allows us to do things we never could before – yet the same technology distracts us more than ever also.

As I worked through resolving my computer problems, I thought about how this was adversely affecting my spiritual walk with Christ – and I wished that instead I might be so “distracted” by resolving the problems in my relationship with Jesus that it would adversely affect the distraction I was feeling over this computer problem. The computer has become so essential to many of the things that we do in life that it can distract us from is truly essential.

In this season when we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, we need to remember that Jesus was born into a world that was vastly different than ours today. There was no technology as we know it - no computers, iPods, cell phones, video cameras, televisions, airplanes, cars, movies, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners or light bulbs. Yet Hebrews 13:8 tell us: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."

Yesterday my computer problem was solved. I am grateful that my problem with God was solved through Jesus Christ at Calvary.

Friday, December 12, 2008

God's Position on Abortion

This is from the November 29, 2008 issue of World Magazine.
"He began to have nightmares."

A Spanish newspaper account of the pro-life conversion of Stojan Adasevic, who as Serbia's most renowned abortion doctor performed over 48,000 abortions, he said. That changed after he began having recurring dreams of a field full of children, 4-24 years old, and "a man dressed in a black and white habit" who said he was Thomas Aquinas and the children "are the ones you killed with your abortions." Adasevic is now a pro-life activist and returned to the Orthodox faith of his childhood, despite being ostracized from medical practice in the former Yugoslavia.

The Voyage


















O Lord of the Oceans,
My little bark on a restless sea,
Grant that Jesus may sit at the helm and steer me safely;
Suffer no adverse currents to divert my heavenward course;
Let not my faith be wrecked amid storms and shoals;
Bring me to harbour with flying pennants,
hull unbreached, cargo unspoiled.
I ask great things, expect great things, shall receive great things.
I venture on thee wholly,
fully, my wind, sunshine, anchor, defence.
The voyage is long, the waves high, the storms pitiless,
but my helm is held steady, thy Word secures safe passage,
Thy grace wafts me onward, my haven is guaranteed.
This day will bring me nearer home.
Grant me holy consistency in every transaction,
my peace flowing as a running tide,
my righteousness as every chasing wave.
Help me to live circumspectly,
with skill to convert every care into prayer,
Halo my path with gentleness and love,
smooth every asperity of temper,
let me not forget how easy it is to occasion grief;
May I strive to bind up every wound,
and pour oil on all troubled waters.
May the world this day be happier and better because I live,
Let my mast before me be the Saviour’s cross,
and every oncoming wave the fountain in his side.
Help me, protect me in the moving sea,
until I reach the shore of unceasing praise.

from
"The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotion"
edited by Arthur Bennett

ESV Study Bible 2 Pack Offer

Westminster Bookstore is offering two-packs of hardcover ESV Study Bibles for $52.98--which is 47% off of the retail price of $99.98. This is one of the best study Bibles I have ever seen, and all of those I know who have purchased one have been overwhelmingly positive about getting one. While most seem to want leather covers, I’ve also heard many talk about a desire to purchase an additional decorative/protective cover for their Bible – which works better with a hardcover than a leather cover. To access this offer at the Westminster Bookstore Click Here. An informational video is below.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Joy of the Lord - "The Quad Squad"

I ran across this video tonight - just after preaching on "The Promise of Joy" this past Sunday.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas Banquet Message - “Rejoicing in Hope”

(Here is the message I shared at the annual Christmas Banquet at Arrowsmith Baptist Church on December 5, 2008. If you would like to listen/download the audio of this message, Click Here).

Young John Blanchard stood up from the bench, straightened his Army uniform, and studied the crowd of people making their way through the train station. He was looking for the girl whose heart he knew, but whose face he didn’t - the girl with the rose. His interest in her had begun a months before in a Florida library. Taking a book off the shelf he found himself intrigued, not with the words of the book, but with the notes penciled inside the margin. The soft handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind. In the front of the book, was the previous owner’s name, Miss Hollis Maynell. With time and effort he located her address. She now lived in New York City. He wrote her a letter introducing himself and inviting her to correspond. The very next day he was shipped overseas for service in the midst of World War II. In the months that followed the two grew to know each other intimately through the mail. As the romance blossomed, Blanchard requested a photograph, but she refused. If he really cared, she said, it wouldn’t matter what she looked like. When the day finally came for him to return from Europe, they scheduled their first meeting- at 7PM at the Grand Central Station in New York. “You’ll recognize me,” she wrote, “by the red rose I’ll be wearing on my lapel.”

So at 7 PM John Blanchard stood in the station looking for the girl whose heart he loved, but whose face he’d never seen- the girl with the rose. Blanchard writes – “Suddenly a young woman came towards me, her figure long and slim. Her blond hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears; her eyes were blue as flowers. Her lips and chin had a gentle firmness; in her pale green suit she seemed like springtime come alive. But as I started toward her, I suddenly realized that she was not wearing a rose. She looked into my disappointed eyes, smiled, and walked on. It was then that I saw Miss Hollis Maynell; she was standing almost directly behind the beautiful woman I had just seen.”

“She was well past 40, and possessed graying hair tucked under a worn hat. She was more than plump, her thick-ankled feet thrust into low-heeled shoes. And she was wearing a single red rose. At that moment I felt as though I was split in two: my heart and mind sought to follow the beauty of the first women, yet my soul was embraced with a deep longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned me and held me up during the war. And there she stood. Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible; her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle. And so with my fingers gripping the small leather copy of the book that had brought us together, I squared my shoulders and saluted and held out the book to the woman, and spoke with words choked back by my disappointment.”

“I’m Lieutenant John Blanchard, and you must be Miss Maynell. I am so glad you could meet me; may I take you to dinner?” The woman’s face broadened into a tolerant smile. “I don’t know what this is about, son,” she answered, “but the young lady in the green suit who just walked in front of me begged me to wear this rose. She said if you were to ask me out to dinner, that I should tell you that she is waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She said this is some kind of test!”

We all face such tests in life on a regular basis. While there are times when our hopes and dreams and desires are satisfied beyond our grandest expectations – it seems more often than not that we see our greatest hopes dissolve in the face of reality. We are entering at time of year when we’ve all had such experiences. The Christmas season brings with it high expectations for “good will and great tidings with joy” - yet the reality is that often children are disappointed with their presents, spouses can be frustrated with one another, and families become disillusioned by their relationships with each other.

I remember as a young child growing up in a home without a father where money was hard to come by - and facing the reality that often my hopes for a particular Christmas present rarely came true. I also remember the excitement and expectation I felt when as an older child when my mother told she would soon be married – and the disappointment I came know afterwards once I experienced both the anger and distance of a step-father who was deeply embittered about life and had no time for me.

A few years ago at a Bible study I was leading in a prison an inmate told me that every Christmas season he experiences severe headache, a remnant of a severe beating and fractured skull he received from a drunken father on Christmas morning. At times it is hard to see the hope of this season beyond the scars we’ve received in life. The truth is we do live in a fallen and broken world - in the midst of the season where we proclaim “good will among all men” we can feel the tension of a government that is falling apart as our leaders attack one another for political gain. We try to “rejoice” as we watch the price of fuel go down, yet we wonder if we’ll have the funds to even buy gas. As we Christmas shop for the best prices - we also consider that we might need the money we spend for something more important later on. As the air becomes filled with the songs of holiday tradition - at the same time our ears hear reports of terrorism and war and genocidal atrocities and wide spread violence abroad.

It was because of such things that Jesus came into the world 2000 years ago. The times and place into which Christ was born were oppressive, violent and bloody. Life was hard, food was scarce, sickness and disease was rampant, death was in the air. There was fear and pain and terror and uncertainty everywhere. The prophets of God had spoken of a savior, a deliverer to come, yet the promise of that hope had gone fulfilled for over 400 years – and the dark days of life continued to get ever darker.

It was into this darkness that the light of was Jesus born. The world had grown hard and cynical, yet there was a breath of hope blowing through the hearts of the people of God. In the midst of the misery and oppression there rose up a sense that God was about to do something great and awesome and wonderful. In the midst of the darkness a light of hope dawned on God’s people; in the midst of the despair the promise of joy began to flicker in the shadows of life. The savior, the deliverer had come!

Yet many who had wanted that hope - missed it. On June 6, 1981, Doug Whitt and his new bride, Sylvia, were escorted into their hotel’s fancy bridal suite in the wee hours of the morning. In the room they saw a sofa, chairs, and table, but no bed. Then they discovered the sofa was a hide-a-bed, with a lumpy mattress and sagging springs. After a fitful night’s sleep they woke up in the morning with sore backs. The new husband went to the hotel desk and gave the management a tongue-lashing. "Did you open the door in the room?" asked the clerk. Doug went back to the room. He opened the door they had thought was a closet. There, complete with fruit baskets and chocolates, was a beautiful bedroom.

We most often miss out on the true joy God has for us - because we are looking for it in the wrong places. An old Chinese proverb that says: “If you wish to be happy for one hour, get intoxicated. If you wish to be happy for three days, get married. If you wish to be happy for a week kill your pig and eat it. If you wish to be happy forever, learn to fish.” I know of a few men that would agree with that. But the point is we often confuse happiness with joy. You see while happiness is a feeling, joy is something else. Joy is much deeper than happiness and more than an attitude. Joy is a person. Joy is Jesus.

D.L Moody once said: “Happiness is caused by things that happen around me, and circumstances will mar it; but joy flows right on through trouble; joy flows on through the dark; joy flows in the night as well as in the day; joy flows all through persecution and opposition. Joy is an unceasing fountain bubbling up in the heart; joy is a secret spring the world can’t see and doesn’t know anything about.” What Moody is saying is this - happiness is about our expectations, but joy is about our hope in Jesus.

In his book In A Pit with A Lion on A Snowy Day Mark Batterson writes: "Too often our prayers revolve around asking God to reduce the odds in our lives. We want everything in our favor. But maybe God wants to stack the odds against us so we can experience a miracle of divine proportions. Maybe faith is trusting God no matter how impossible the odds are. Maybe our impossible situations are opportunities to experience a new dimension of God's glory." This is something we all know deep in our hearts by experience. When the heavy waves of struggle wash into our lives and hope begins to drift from the shore – feeling happy has no meaning or effect. There is something – or rather Someone - deeper at work that causes us to joyfully rise above the struggle of situations and circumstances.

We’ve seen that within our own church family. In the first week of August, Alvin Schulz had a mountain bike accident which broke his neck which left him paralyzed from the neck down. One week after the accident his wife Judi sent us an email that said: “I have great hope in God and rejoice in the day He has given us. There will be many things that will come our way and hurdles that will seem like mountains, but our trust is in the Lord. God did not say it would be an easy road. We will only be able to do this through His strength. I wanted you to know that I am taking joy in . . . proclaiming God.”

Jesus said we will have trouble in this world. The Christian life can often seem like a bad bed; good around the outside but pretty lumpy in the middle. Yet we are told to rejoice in our struggles and not lose hope. When the world gets turned upside down, when our sense of security and safety is broken, and when we are worn out and tired and standing out on the edge of life – it is then we are finally ready for God to turn things right-side up again, ready to let Him be our security and safety, ready to be strengthened and saved and delivered - from our struggles with life, our struggles with others, and our struggles with ourselves. It is then we are ready to put our hope in God by finding our joy in Jesus.

Hope in God comes from knowing joy in Jesus. Joy in Jesus causes us to know hope in God. Joyful hope is central to our existence. The Bible says: “Through him (Jesus) we have . . . obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2).

A Persian legend tells us that there was a certain king who needed a faithful servant and had to choose between two candidates. He paid them both the same wage and told them to fill a basket with water from a nearby well, saying that he would come in the evening to inspect their work. After dumping one or two buckets of water into the basket, one of the men said, "What is the good of doing this useless work? As soon as we pour the water in, it runs out the sides." The other answered, "But we have been paid our wages. Our work is the master's business, not ours." "I'm not going to do such fool's work," replied the complainer. Throwing down his bucket, he went away. The other man continued until he had drained the well. Looking down into it, he saw something shiny at the bottom that proved to be a diamond. It was then he realized the purpose of the struggle of pouring water into a leaky basket. Had the well not been emptied dry to the bottom, he never would have found the treasure waiting for him.

Wherever you might be tonight in your walk in this life, know that regardless of how desperate or overwhelming or discouraging your circumstance or situation might be - a joyful hope awaits you in God through Jesus Christ. You may have to bail a lot of water to get there, and it may seem there’s a pretty big hole in your basket - but there is treasure at the bottom of it all waiting for you. Romans 5:5 tells us that: “hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts.” On the night Jesus was born we read that the angels said: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people" (Luke 2:10). Jesus has come. He has come to be our hope and our joy!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Defining the Current Political Crises in Canada

Democracy - rule of the majority; a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.

Politics - the art or science concerned with guiding or influencing governmental policy; the art or science concerned with winning and holding control over a government; competition between competing interest groups or individuals for power and leadership; political activities characterized by artful and often dishonest practices.

Coalition - a body formed by the coalescing of originally distinct elements; a temporary alliance of distinct parties, persons, or states for joint action.

Coup - a sudden decisive exercise of force in politics; the violent overthrow or alteration of an existing government by a small group.

Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, you and your son and your grandson also, for you have saved us from the hand of Midian.” Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you.” (Judges 8:22-23)

And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them." (1 Samuel 8:7)

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting." (John 18:36)

"Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (Matthew 6:33-34)


Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 2:10-12)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Don't Waste Your Money - Mike Bullmore

(Here are Andy Naselli’s notes on Mike Bullmore’s recent sermon from 1 Corinthians 16, entitled, “What We Should Do with Our Money.” To listen to the whole sermon Click Here).

Our giving should be a planned priority.

  1. Our giving should be proportional to our income. Give obediently, generously, and sacrificially. Cf. C. S. Lewis: “I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusement, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little.

  2. If our giving does not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say it is too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot because our commitment to giving excludes them.”

  3. Our giving should be marked by prudence. It should be transparent, above board, and marked by integrity. For example, a church’s giving should have public accountability.

  4. Our giving and our teaching about giving should be simple and straightforward. No pressure, no gimmicks, no excessive emotion. Simply put: don’t waste your money; rather, use it for God’s purposes and for his glory.

JT

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Light of the World - Chris Tomlin

I am preaching this coming Sunday on "The Promise of Light" from Isaiah 9:1-2.

The Greatest Defect of “Present-day” Christianity

A recent conversation brought to mind a quote I had once read by E.M. Bounds. Though he wrote this almost 150 years ago, I believe it is still relevant today in a Christian culture that often claims faith in Jesus is more about being happy than it is about being holy.

It cannot be stated too frequently that the life of a Christian is a warfare, an intense conflict, a lifelong contest. It is a battle, moreover, waged against invisible foes, who are ever alert, and ever seeking to entrap, deceive, and ruin the souls of men. The life to which Holy Scripture calls men is no picnic, or holiday junketing. It is no pastime, no pleasure jaunt. It entails effort, wrestling, struggling; it demands the putting forth of the full energy of the spirit in order to frustrate the foe and to come off, at the last, more than conqueror. It is no primrose path, no rose-scented dalliance. From start to finish, it is war. From the hour in which he first draws sword, to that in which he doffs his harness, the Christian warrior is compelled to "endure hardness like a good soldier.”

It is just at this point in much present-day Christian profession, that one may find its greatest defect. There is little, or nothing, of the soldier element in it. The discipline, self-denial, spirit of hardship, determination, so prominent in and belonging to the military life, are, one and all, largely wanting. Yet the Christian life is warfare, all the way.
(From “Prayer and Vigilance” in The Necessity of Prayer by E.M. Bounds)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

My Favorite Music

In response to the number of people who have commented on how much they enjoy listening to the music on the playlists on this blogsite - I have also now set up a link page of some of my favorite music that not only includes the playlists but also a number of music videos of songs I cannot find titles for on the playlist website. You can access the link page by clicking on the picture below "My Favorite Music" on the right hand side of this site - or simply by Clicking Here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

God is able to make all grace abound in all things at all times

(This past Sunday morning God truly touched the hearts and blessed the lives of those who were with us during our worship time together. As a pastor I am always deeply humbled and overwhelmed with joy how our Lord sovereignly and intimately moves among His people. The same spirit was with us during our business meeting the same evening - yes, at a business meeting! Here is the devotion that I shared with them that evening in opening our time together.)

God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

It’s somewhat hard to make sense of all that is going on in the world. At times it seems we are in a time of unprecedented chaos – the world is at war, economic uncertainty and financial instability abound, there is great political division in North America and much unrest in the lives of people, in our communities, in our countries and throughout the world. Yet I remember those same things were going on 40 years ago.

Historically 1968 is now seen the watershed year during the second half of the century. The summer of discontent ultimately became a year of chaos. And we lived through it. God proved He was still God. As the world and Canada and the United States is going through turmoil in these days, we will too. Port Alberni and the communities around us will feel the effects of what is going on. But you have seen hard times here before. And though it wasn’t easy, you lived through it. God proved He was still God.

Watching CTV news the other night I found myself discouraged. They didn’t have much good to say about anything. But I did hear something which caused me to laugh – one of the reporters said we are “living in times of uncertainty.” Well, maybe for some people. But not for me. And not for you. God is still God.

God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

During the political season, it was good to know that the world would not fall apart or hold together because of who won or lost. The Lord gives and takes away. God will always remain. As we watch the price of gas plunge and the value of our dollar do the same, what a blessing to know that our treasure is not on this earth but in heaven. We are not here to possess the world – but to show the world that Jesus possesses us.

As we gather together at times such as these, our decisions must be based on God’s truth and the assurance of God’s character. We must not use caution to hide our fear or wisdom as a cover for our weakness, but rather stand with the psalmist who writes: "Though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling . . . God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear" (Psalm 46:1-3).

As we face the uncertainty of what will happen in regards to our employment and our health and our families and our future, we can stand on the assurance that we intimately know the One who knows the certainty of “all things.” Our God, in His sovereignty, is working out “all things” - for our good and for His glory.

God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

Yes, we have to live in this world and work through the struggles and trials that will be constantly before us. But brothers and sisters, for those of us in Jesus Christ there are a great many unseen things at work - that are vastly more precious than what we see in this world. God is at work “in all things at all times.”

In the days before us, we need to remember that our hearts are attached to something greater. We were created for God and His purposes. Someday we will inherit both the Kingdom of God and this world. For now we must deal with both the blessings and the struggles that God gives us. He gives both so that “in all things” we would show that Christ is our treasure, not the things of this world. And so we need not fear. We must not retreat. These things will pass. God is still, and always will be God. Jesus is, and always will be Lord and Savior.

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)

The Vetting of God and The Deal Killer

"Vetting" - to subject to expert appraisal or correction; to evaluate for possible approval or acceptance. (Webster’s Online Dictionary)

Obama's vetting could chase away candidates
CNN November 22, 2008

In addition to the already invasive FBI background check, the Obama team is requiring prospective candidates to complete a seven-page questionnaire that requires the disclosure of nearly every last private detail. In addition to the obvious questions involving past criminal history, candidates are asked about personal diaries, past blog posts, and the financial entanglements of extended family members.

"This questionnaire they've been giving to people who are thinking about signing up for a government job is extremely invasive," said David Gergen, a CNN senior political analyst and adviser to four past presidents. "I've never seen anything like this at the presidential level before -- the FBI asks these kind of questions, but to have the presidential transition team asking these questions requires ... great volumes of records that have to be checked out."

But political analysts say the Obama team's unprecedented degree of scrutiny could result in several qualified individuals deciding to forgo consideration for a top post. "There is no question about the fact that the burdensome nature and the probing nature and the disclosure required for people coming into the administration is a deal killer for them," said Kenneth Gross, a political law and ethics lawyer in Washington.

This article caused me to reflect on who would be “qualified” for the position of being a born-again Christian if we were “vetted” by God like people are so often “vetted” by others in the world. Of course the answer is – no one. The sins of our past - along with our present sins and those sins to come - would be the "deal killer."

You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:1-7

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Don't Waste Your Pulpit

This coming Sunday I will be preaching on the last commandment from series of messages we have been going through at Arrowsmith Baptist Church on the Ten Commandments from Exodus 20:1-17. When preaching through the Ten Commandments one is always challenged to speak truth in love without sliding off into either legalism or liberalism. And so I was encouraged this past week to run across this video from John Piper.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Wings of Joy

(This is by A. W. Pink, from Profiting from the Word; reprinted in the 2008 fall issue of Heartcry.)

Joy is to the soul what wings are to the bird, enabling us to soar above the things of earth. This is brought out plainly in Nehemiah 8:10: “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Confession of sin and mourning over the same have their place, and communion with God cannot be maintained without them. Nevertheless, when true repentance has been exercised and things put right with God, we must leave those things behind and press on to the things which are before us.

Where there is despair, there is no longer power for obedience. If there be no joy, there can be no worship.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Please Help Us, Preachers!

(This letter to the editor was included in the 2005 Fall issue of Heartcry, A Journal on Revival and Spiritual Awakening. Thank you David Nelson for bringing this to my attention.)

Dear Pastors,

The other day I heard a pastor (not my pastor) preach a lifeless, passionless, pointless sermon with no power and no fire. I am not referring to animated “aerobic exercise class” preaching. (Vance Havner, a great man of God, preached with power and passion and fire, yet he was not animated but monotone and motionless in his preaching style) The message I heard the other day was a waste of my time, and that provokes me to say the following to preachers:

We are thirsty and we are hungry. We are hurting and we need help. We need the fire of God and we need the power of God. And preacher, we need you. You have a special calling on your life, and God has chosen you to be His voice.

But what we don’t need are more “cute,” alliterated sermons, as helpful as alliteration can be in communicating a message. What we don’t need are more sermons that have three points, six sub-points, and a cute, closing story or poem, as helpful as that may be in communicating a message. What we don’t need are more funny, silly jokes in sermons. What we don’t need is for you to keep referring to yourself when you preach. And what we don’t need is to hear more sermons from the Internet or from some book that was purchased at the latest Christian bookstore sale.

What we need is for our preachers to have the fire of God. What we need is for our preachers to have the power of God. What we need is for our preachers to have a passion for the messages that are proclaimed. What we need is for our preachers to feed us from the written Word of God. What we need is for our preachers to be consumed by fire from heaven so that we ourselves may join you in being consumed by God. What we need is for our preachers to be consumed by their passion for the Word of God.

Please help us, preachers. We know that we have a personal responsibility for our own walk with God. But we need help. We are weak, we are frail, we are forgetful. We need to hear from heaven. We don’t need to hear about fishing trips or cruises in sermons. We don’t need more covered dish suppers at the church. We don’t need to hear about the local football team in messages that are preached. We don’t need to hear of accomplishments and awards and degrees. What we want to hear is that you have been approved by God to proclaim His Word to us.

We are perishing in the pews, and we perish because there is little or no vision of God in some of our pulpits. We are tired of hearing Proverbs 29:18 misinterpreted and applied to long-range planning. We, the people, are perishing because there is no vision of God.

Rise up! Stand up! And don’t settle for mediocrity! Don’t settle for less! Get all you can from God, give it to us, and then go back and get some more. Pursue God with passion. Don’t go into the pulpit until you have a message from Him to proclaim to us. Don’t preach until you know that you are right with God. Don’t go into the pulpit until you know you are anointed by God and have the fire of God.

Sincerely,

Kenny

Why Get Out of Bed in the Morning?

"For behold, your enemies, O Lord, for behold, your enemies shall perish; all evildoers shall be scattered." (Psalm 92:9)

Here is true story I ran across the other day while I was studying for this coming Sunday’s sermon on Exodus 20: 16 - “The Commitment to Truth.” The context of my reading at this point was on the ultimate victory we have in the truth of the gospel through Jesus Christ, which gives us ultimate victory over all evil and even death.

Andrew Melville dared scorn the Earl of Morton’s threat to hang the Scottish reforming ministers.

“Tush, sir,” said Melville, “threaten your courtiers after that manner. It is the same to me whether I rot in the air or in the ground. The earth is the Lord’s. . . . Let God be glorified; it will not be in your power to hang or to exile His truth.”
Of this Dale Ralph Davis writes:

Knowing that Yahweh’s enemies will perish breeds a holy defiance in God’s people against all threats of the enemy. If not, why get out of bed in the morning?

Friday, November 14, 2008

The five-word antidote to grumbling

Here is a blog posting by Tony Payne from the Sola Panel which is true not only for the church but for all of life.

The five-word antidote to grumbling

by Tony Payne

This story has been passed onto me second- or third- or possibly fifth-hand. Who knows how accurate the details are, or whether the words were spoken exactly in this way? But from my knowledge of the man in question, it is entirely believable. In fact, if it isn't true, it's the kind of story that would almost be necessary to invent.

An eminent and well-known English preacher was approached by a congregation member who complained about some aspect of church life. It may have been that he didn't feel welcomed, or that he was finding it hard to make friends and fit in; it could have been that he was finding the service dissatisfying or the preaching too long; it could have been that the music was not to his taste or that his family was not being catered for to his satisfaction. The details of the complaint have been lost in the telling and re-telling of the story.

The preacher listened to the complaint, paused, and then replied with five words that cut straight to the heart of not only the man's problem, but the problem with all grumbling and complaining in church. He simply said, “It's not about you, stupid!” and walked off.

It was a stunningly rude response—the kind that this preacher seemed uniquely capable of getting away with in his very English way. But doesn't it exactly express what is wrong with grumbling and complaining in church?

It really is the height of idiocy to think that church is about me and my needs and my family and my satisfaction. It completely overturns the teaching of the Bible—that church is about God and Christ and loving other people. In fact, if we wanted to summarize Paul's rebuke to the dysfunctional Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 11-14, a pretty reasonable slogan would be “It's not about you, stupid!”.

So the next time you're feeling grumpy about church, and are complaining that this or that aspect leaves you cold, remind yourself of the five-word answer to grumbling. And if you're really game, when someone starts grumbling to you about how they don't like the music or how they're sick of the preacher's jokes, just give them a slightly incredulous look, shake your head, and say, “It's not about you, stupid!”.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Slightest Degree - Andree Seu

A great thought column by Andree Seu from the November 1st edition of World Magazine.













The slightest degree
by Andrée Seu

In 1914 Ernest Henry Shackleton, with 27 men, led the British Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition with the intention of crossing the continent from Weddell Sea to McMurdo Sound, 2,000 miles. In 1915 their ship Enterprise was crushed by pack ice after drifting for 10 months, forcing the band of explorers to camp on floes for more than a year.

When no safe footing remained, they took to three lifeboats, finally reaching the uninhabited Elephant Island. There Shackleton left 22 men behind and took five to attempt to row the tiny James Caird across 850 miles of choppy seas to the South Georgia Island whaling station. Gray skies rendered the sextant nearly useless. A mere half of one degree off and the expedition would miss the island by hundreds of miles. They made it.

Regarding another adventure, Alexander Solzhenitsyn ponders how the 13 American colonies could in 200 years have veered so far off course, finding themselves bogged down in "the calamity of an autonomous, irreligious humanistic consciousness." He traces the problem to a small "sextant error" unnoticed at the ship of state's first sailing:

"How did the West decline from its triumphal march to its present debility? Have there been fatal turns and losses of direction in its development? It does not seem so. . . . This means that the mistake must be at the root, at the very foundation of thought in modern times. . . . We are paying now for the mistakes which were not properly appraised at the beginning of the journey. On the way from the Renaissance to our days we have enriched our experience, but we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility. We have placed too much hope in politics and social reforms" (Harvard, 1978).

Small mistakes at the start of a voyage translate into great wide misses of destinations. What is true of polar expeditions and nation building is true in individual lives. We may have yards and yards of good doctrine, but to no avail if there be one rotten link of unbelief.

But let us speak of better stories, like the one I learned from a Christian counselor, and pass on to you with permission: A woman counselee writes:

I was listening to Elisabeth Elliot one day.

"Is your husband an enemy?" Elisabeth said. My ears grew large to listen.

"Does your husband feel like your enemy?"

"Yes."

"What does the Bible say about how to treat your enemies? . . . Love them. Do good for them. Pray for them."

"Do good," I thought. Could it really be that simple?

I set my mind to do one good thing for George every day. In the name of the Lord. I couldn't do it for George, but I could do it in obedience to God. George is my husband, and this is the Lord's command to me.

I started with a spice cake, George's favorite dessert. Simple enough. But as I did these things, I just became so broken. Had I really been so, so selfish, and thoughtless all these years, that these little things could mean so much? Gradually, I saw my true heart as George had seen it all these years—so cold and bitter and awful. Was I really as bad as this? Yes. Yes.

Finally I was broken. Over time, compassion for George replaced bitterness. And dare I say it, even love begins to grow. Glimpses of delight? Yes, even that. God began to show me how He loves George too, and just how foolish I have been. I feel like Isaiah 61 is coming to pass: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me: beauty for ashes; gladness for mourning; a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."

A woman on a hazardous journey. The seas are choppy and the way is narrow. God commands, "You shall be careful therefore to do as the Lord your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left" (Deuteronomy 5:32). The slightest degree off in either direction, and the woman would have missed her joy. Let the Captain be Christ and the sextant be faith.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Suffering - Joni Eareckson Tada

Here is the link to the video that we watched together at Arrowsmith Baptist last Sunday evening. It was a message from Joni Erickson Tada who spoke at the 2005 Desiring God National Conference "Suffering and the Sovereignty of God" on October 8, 2005.

Click Here to watch or listen to the message.

In The Palm Of Your Hand - Alison Krauss

In the midst of the fall colors, I was reminded of this song/video:



If I could have the world and all it owns
A thousand kingdoms, a thousand thrones
If all the earth were mine to hold
With wealth my only goal

I'd spend my gold on selfish things
Without the love that Your life brings
Just a little bit more is all I'd need
'Til life was torn from me

I'd rather be in the palm of Your hand
Though rich or poor I may be
Faith can see right through the circumstance
Sees the forest in spite of the trees
Your grace provides for me

If I should walk the streets no place to sleep
No faith in promises You keep
I'd have no way to buy my bread
With a bottle for my bed

But if I trust the One who died for me
Who shed His blood to set me free
If I live my life to trust in You
Your grace will see me through

I'd rather be in the palm of Your hand
Though rich or poor I may be
Faith can see right through the circumstance
Sees the forest in spite of the trees

If I could have the world
If I could have the world and all it owns

Living Soli Deo Gloria Under Obama - Eric Redmond

Eric C. Redmond is an African-American who most recently served as the 2007-2008 Second Vice-President of the Southern Baptist Convention. Here are a few quotes from his response on Justin Taylor's blog in regards to Barack Obama being elected President of the United States:

The question for me at this time is this: Can I continue to live Soli Deo Gloria under a President whose moral judgment already is questionable before he takes the oath of office? Yes I can, for I can be obedient to Scripture, praying for the one in authority (I Tim. 2:1-8), honoring the one in authority (1 Pet. 2:13-18), submitting to the one in authority (Rom. 13:1-7; Tit. 3:1), and seeking righteousness for the entire citizenry (Prov. 14:34). These I will seek to do by grace. I will "honor the good appointment of God." . . .

My humble proposal of an attempt to be Christocentric rather than Afrocentric will not be received with approval by many African Americans that I know. I hope to live long enough to witness another African American become a candidate for President of the United States of America—a candidate who is pro-life and pro-righteousness. Yet my hope may ring hollow to many other African Americans who are celebrating a Democratic victory that happens to seem pro-African American. To the celebrants, I might be labeled as sore loser seeking to justify his reasons for siding with conservative white America rather than with Black America. . . .

If you cannot stand against your own culture where it does not square with the Scriptures, you are the one who is ashamed of Christ, and such shame has nothing to with philosophical or ontological Blackness; it only has to do with your view of the majesty of the God who calls you to deny yourself in order to follow Christ.

To read the full blog posting, Click Here.

Thoughts on the Election - Francis Beckwith

Francis J. Beckwith is Professor of Philosophy & Church-Studies at Baylor University. Here are a few quotes from his response on Justin Taylor's blog in regards to Barack Obama being elected President of the United States.

For conservatives, there is much work to be done. We not only have to be the loyal opposition when bad policies are proposed, we have to present our views respectfully and intelligently. For those of us who are Christians, we have to remember that the City of God is not the City of Man, that the Kingdom of God is established from the inside out and not from the top down. In other words, we cannot immanentize the eschaton.

Having said that, we have a responsibility to love our neighbors as ourselves, which may require that we support and defend policies and positions that we believe advance the common good, and with which some of our fellow citizens surely disagree. For this reason, especially on issues such as marriage and the sanctity of life, we must be artful and thoughtful in our public advocacy, assertive while not being abrasive.

Like so much of life on this side of eternity, politics must be put in perspective. It is not everything, but it is not nothing either. It has its place. For this reason, it is the better part of wisdom to end my brief comments with the oft-quoted, but not often reflected upon, words from the Book of Ecclesiastes:


For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

To read the full blog posting, Click Here.

In God We Do Not Trust - Mark Driscoll

In my years of pastoral ministry I have worked very hard to not be political. I believe that my job as a pastor is to preach and teach the Bible well so that my people make their decisions, including their voting decisions, out of their faith convictions.

This election season which has dominated the cultural conversation for many months has been particularly insightful regarding the incessant gospel thirst that abides deep in the heart of the men and women who bear God’s image. Without endorsing or maligning either political party or their respective presidential candidates, I am hopeful that a few insights from the recent election season are of help, particularly to younger evangelicals.

First, people are longing for a savior who will atone for their sins. In this election, people thirst for a savior who will atone for their economic sins of buying things they did not need with money they did not have. The result is a mountain of credit debt they cannot pay and a desperate yearning that somehow a new president will save them from economic hell.

Second, people are longing for a king who will keep them safe from terror in his kingdom. In the Old Testament the concept of a peaceable kingdom is marked by the word shalom. In shalom there is not only the absence of sin, war, strife, and suffering but also the presence of love, peace, harmony, and health. And, this thirst for shalom is so parched that every election people cannot help but naively believe that if their candidate simply wins shalom is sure to come despite sin and the curse.

The bottom line is obvious to those with gospel eyes. People are longing for Jesus, and tragically left voting for mere presidential candidates. For those whose candidate wins today there will be some months of groundless euphoric faith in that candidate and the atoning salvation that their kingdom will bring. But, in time, their supporters will see that no matter who wins the presidency, they are mere mortals prone to sin, folly, and self-interest just like all the other sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. To help extend naïve false hope as long as possible, a great enemy will be named and demonized as the one who is hindering all of the progress to atone for our sins and usher in our kingdom. If the Democrats win it will be the rich, and if the Republicans win it will be the terrorists. This diversionary trick is as old as Eve who blamed her sin on Satan rather than repenting. The lie is that it’s always someone else’s fault and we’re always the victim of sinners and never the sinner.

Speaking of repentance, sadly, no matter who wins there will be no call to personal repentance of our own personal sins which contributes to cultural suffering and decline such as our pride, gluttony, covetousness, greed, indebtedness, self-righteousness, perversion, and laziness. And, in four years we’ll do it all again and pretend that this time things will be different. Four years after that, we’ll do it yet again. And, we’ll continue driving around this cul de sac until Jesus returns, sets up his throne, and puts an end to folly once and for all.

In the meantime, I would encourage all preachers to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and repentance of personal sin. He alone can truly atone for our sins. He alone can deliver us from a real hell. He alone is our sinless and great King. And, he alone has a Shalom kingdom to offer.

Lastly, for those preachers who have gotten sidetracked for the cause of a false king and a false kingdom by making too much of the election and too little of Jesus, today is a good day to practice repentance in preparation to preach it on Sunday. Just give it some time. The thirst will remain that only Jesus can quench. So, we’ve still got work to do….until we see King Jesus and voting is done once and for all.


from TheResurgence

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Law No President Can Escape


Here is a thoughtful and insightful editorial by Mindy Belz from the November 1st issue of World Magazine. A few quotes here:

Unintended Consequences: It’s a law no president can escape
by Mindy Belz

I know of a woman from Iraq who cried so much when her husband was kidnapped that her right eye no longer tracks. It came loose, unhinged itself with grief. A lot of Iraqis like her feel to their very joint and marrow that their world came unglued when the United States went to war in Iraq. Her family is together again—mother, father, and four children—but they can never go back home. . . .

Tens of thousands of Muslim families have suffered kidnappings, bombings, death, and destruction. But for minority Christians the demographics of war have been crippling: Since 2003 their numbers in Iraq have been halved by violence and persecution. Before the war most church leaders say the Christian population was 750,000 to 800,000. Now it is at or below 400,000. . . .

This is one of the most glaring examples of the law of unintended consequences, the plague of presidential politics no one wants to talk about. Who knew that a war in Iraq by a president globally known for his personal faith would fall so heavy on his fellow believers? Who knew that the financial heyday launched by banking deregulation would be mortgaged on the backs of those designed to benefit most from it? Who knew that one administration making little of a truck bomb driven into the bowels of the World Trade Center in 1993 would leave open a door for a future strike that would consume the next presidency? . . .

All historians will agree that the single most important event of the Bush administration—and perhaps many more—is 9/11. It was the largest attack on U.S. soil in a century. It was unprecedented in nature. It forced the largest reorganization of the U.S. government in history. It led to the federal takeover of airport security. It sent our army and many others to war. . . .

McCain has pointed out that there is no economic security without military security. In hindsight we know some warned of homeland terror and financial doom. The big question now is, will the next president be listening?
If you want to read the whole editorial online, Click Here.

The Idol of the Nations: The Economy

The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears,
but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths.
Those who make them become like them,
so do all who trust in them!
(Psalm 135:15-18)

"One of the issues at centre stage in Canada’s 2008 election campaign is the economy.".
September 14, 2008
2008 Canadian Election Issues and Events
Mapleleafweb (mapleleafweb.com)

"The collapse of Wall Street has reinforced voters' concerns about the economy ahead of the Nov. 4 vote."
October 29, 2008 ·
McCain, Obama Offer Two Paths To Save Economy
National Public Radio (npr.org)

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? . . . For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (Matthew 6:25-27, 32-34)

12 Ways to Love Your Wayward Child

Abraham Piper is the son of Dr. John Piper, the preaching pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Abraham lived far from the Lord (drugs, alcohol, sex) until when he was 23 years old, he surrendered his heart and life to Jesus Christ. Last year he wrote this article to encourage those who are struggling with wayward children. It was recently reprinted in the BGC World magazine. I am just quoting a small part of his opening and the points that he made.

12 Ways to Love Your Wayward Child
by Abraham Piper

The best way I know to describe what happened to me that morning is that God made it possible for me to love Jesus. When he makes this possible and at the same time gives you a glimpse of the true wonder of Jesus, it is impossible to resist his call. Looking back on my years of rejecting Christ, I offer these suggestions to help you reach out to your wayward child so that he or she, too, would wake up to Christ’s amazing power to save even the worst of us.

1. Point them to Christ.
2. Pray.
3. Acknowledge that something is wrong.
4. Don’t expect them to be Christ-like.
5. Welcome them home.
6. Plead with them more than you rebuke them.
7. Connect them to believers who have better access to them.
8. Respect their friends.
9. Email them.
10. Take them to lunch.
11. Take an interest in their pursuits.
12. Point them to Christ.


To read the entire article and his explanation of each point, Click Here.

What’s God Got to Do With It?

In the October 20, 2008 issue of Newsweek Magazine society editor Lisa Miller wrote an article about Joel and Victoria Osteen. The following is a quote:

Prosperity preachers are neither new nor unique in America, but the Osteens' version seems especially self-serving. Victoria's book betrays her interest in the kind of small gratifications that rarely extend to other people, let alone to the larger world. She recommends that women take "me time" every day, and indulge occasionally in a (fat-free!) ice cream. She writes repeatedly about her love for the gym. Her relationship advice is retrograde dross: submit to your man, or at least pretend you're submitting, and then do what you want anyway. "I know if I just wait long enough," she writes, "eventually my idea will become Joel's idea, and it will come to pass." When I asked her how she kept her two children interested in church, she answered that even though they were a broccoli and lean-meats household, she gave them doughnuts as a special treat on Sundays. All this is fine, in the pages of a women's magazine or a self-help book. But what has God got to do with it?

J.T.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Down in the River to Pray - Alison Krauss



Chorus
As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good ol' way
And who shall wear the starry crown?
Good Lord show me the way!

O sisters let's go down
Let's go down, come on down
O sisters let's go down
Down in the river to pray

O brothers let's go down
Let's go down, come on down
Come on brothers, let's go down
Down in the river to pray

O fathers let's go down
Let's go down, come on down
O fathers let's go down
Down in the river to pray

O mothers let's go down
Come on down, don't you wanna go down?
Come on mothers, let's go down
Down in the river to pray

O sinners, let's go down
Let's go down, come on down
O sinners, let's go down
Down in the river to pray

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fishing with the Bears

Today Doug Faust and I went fishing for salmon. We began on the Somass River and it was one of most picturesque and idyllic mornings imaginable: the sun was shining, the rushing of the rapids, trees in full fall color, a blue heron on a rock nearby watching fish, and a bald eagle soaring high overhead. Yet in spite of our peaceful setting, we were somewhat unnerved by the constant presence of bears – bear prints everywhere, numerous piles of fresh bear scat on the trail, the strong smell of bears in the air, and a black bear across the river from where we were fishing, looking for a place to join us on our side. The entire time we fished there, we were on constant alert.

As I reflected on the duality of my feelings (peace and apprehension) I thought about how we are so often lulled into spiritual numbness by the good things in life without being aware of the evil that is also all around us. The apostle Peter writes: "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world" (1 Peter 5:8-9).

My constant prayer is that God, in the midst of the goodness of life, would continuously make me aware of both the depth the sin that is within me and also of the constant evil that is all around me, who “prowls around . . . to devour.” In the words of the old Puritan prayer:

Wean me from all evil, mortify me to the world,
and make me ready for my departure hence
animated by the humiliations of penitential love.
My soul is often a chariot without wheels,
clogged and hindered in sin’s miry clay;
Mount it on eagle’s wings,
and cause it to soar upward to thyself.

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
(1 Peter 5:10-11).

How Important is Church Membership?

At the end of my sermon last week I spoke about, among other things, membership in the church. Since then I have had a few questions then asking about where in the Bible it speaks about membership. As a help to those who have asked – and for those who haven’t – a few quotes from a sermon John Piper preached this past summer on membership.

How Important is Church Membership?
by Dr. John Piper

I will point to five strands in the New Testament of evidence for church membership. Each of these reveals something in the New Testament which would be minimized or denied if there were no definable local church membership.

1) The Church Is to Discipline Its Members
Church membership is implied by the way the church is supposed to discipline its members. Consider the implication of Matthew 18:15-17 where “the church” appears to be the final court of appeal in matters of church authority as it relates to membership: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

2) Excommunication Exists
Church membership is implied by the simple fact that excommunication even exists. Paul implies this in 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 where he deals with the necessity of putting someone out of the church. He says, “What have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you.’”

3) Christians Required to Submit to Their Leaders
Church membership is implied in the biblical requirement of Christians to be submitted to a group of church leaders, elders, or pastors. . . . Consider the way the New Testament talks about the relationship of the church to her leaders: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account” (Hebrews 13:17); “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).

4) Shepherds Required to Care for Their Flock
Church membership is implied in the way the New Testament requires elders to care for the flock in their charge. . . . Consider Acts 20:28 where Paul tells the elders how to care for their flock: “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.”

5) The Metaphor of the Body
Church membership is implied in the metaphor of the body in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. The original meaning of the word member is member of a body, like hand and foot and eye and ear. That’s the imagery behind the word "member" in the text. Verse 12: “Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.”

I close by urging you to pray and to think this through for your own life. The New Testament knows of no Christians who are not accountable members of local churches in the sense that we have just seen. “Lone-Ranger Christians” are a contradiction because becoming a Christian means being united to Christ, and union with Christ expresses itself in union with a local body of believers. It seems to us that in the New Testament, to be excluded from the local church was to be excluded from Christ. This is why the issue of membership is so important.

Church membership is a blood-bought gift of God’s grace. More than most of us realize, it is a life-sustaining, faith-strengthening, joy-preserving means of God’s mercy to us. I urge you not to cut yourself off from this blessing.

To read/hear my sermon from 2008-10-19, Click Here.
To read/hear/watch Dr. Piper’s sermon from 2008-07-13, Click Here.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Muslims Defending Christians in Iraq

From World Magazine online:

It's the Muslim day of prayer, and not surprisingly the clerics in Baghdad led prayer services with political rhetoric. But at least one cleric has come to the defense of Christians in the northern city of Mosul.

Shiite cleric Sadralddin al-Qubanji told followers Friday that the recent killings of Christians in Mosul are a "malicious scheme against Christians and all Iraqis," and he said he disapproved of the attacks in "letter and spirit."

Contacts in Mosul have told WORLD that anywhere from 25 to 40 Christians have been killed at gunpoint in the city since Oct. 4, and that approximately 3,750 Iraqi Christians have fled the city. “We left everything behind us. We took only our souls,” said Nima Noail, 50, a civil servant who left his home in Mosul and is now living in a church, according to Barnabas Fund. On Oct. 16 WORLD received a list of nine Christians confirmed dead in Mosul, including a 15-year-old boy gunned down in the street while playing with Muslim friends on Oct. 4, and a man in a wheelchair killed while working in the shop where he sold spare parts on Oct. 6.

To read the full story Click Here.

Fishers of Men - Rhonda Vincent



Chorus
Rise and follow me
I'll make you worthy
Rise and follow me
I'll make you fishers of men.

Peter, John, and James
Could never be the same
After they heard him say
I'll make you fishers of men.

Cast your nets aside
And join the battle tide
He will be your guide
To make you fishers of men.

Jesus bore the cross
To gather in the lost
Oh what a mighty cost
To set us free from sin.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

An Update on Nancy – and Thank You!

Just a quick note to let you know that Nancy is home from the hospital and doing well after her surgery. Dr. Umran has ordered her to “lay low” for a week or two, and she will need to visit him the first week of November for follow up and to discuss test results. God has been so good to us; we can see His sovereign hand at work throughout this whole process.

We are deeply grateful to those in our family of God at Arrowsmith for their love and concern, and for their prayers, flowers, and meals. We are truly blessed to know you as brothers and sisters, and blessed to partner with you in serving the Kingdom of our most gloriouis God of all grace and mercy.

A special thanks to Hermann, Lienkie, and Owen for their guidance; to Daniel for his smile and humble service to Nancy at the hospital, and to Jack for taking time from his day to visit Nancy and have coffee with me.

Thank you Arrowsmith Baptist Church - We love you!