Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Next Five Minutes

“I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” (Acts 3:6)


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Jewish Archaeologist Finds Proof the Bible is True

Matti Friedman, Associated Press Writer, Feb 22, 8:07 PM EST

Archaeologist sees proof for Bible in ancient wall
JERUSALEM (AP) -- An Israeli archaeologist said Monday that ancient fortifications recently excavated in Jerusalem date back 3,000 years to the time of King Solomon and support the biblical narrative about the era.

If the age of the wall is correct, the finding would be an indication that Jerusalem was home to a strong central government that had the resources and manpower needed to build massive fortifications in the 10th century B.C.

That's a key point of dispute among scholars, because it would match the Bible's account that the Hebrew kings David and Solomon ruled from Jerusalem around that time.

While some Holy Land archaeologists support that version of history - including the archaeologist behind the dig, Eilat Mazar - others posit that David's monarchy was largely mythical and that there was no strong government to speak of in that era.

Speaking to reporters at the site Monday, Mazar, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, called her find "the most significant construction we have from First Temple days in Israel."

"It means that at that time, the 10th century, in Jerusalem there was a regime capable of carrying out such construction," she said.

Based on what she believes to be the age of the fortifications and their location, she suggested it was built by Solomon, David's son, and mentioned in the Book of Kings.

The fortifications, including a monumental gatehouse and a 77-yard (70-meter) long section of an ancient wall, are located just outside the present-day walls of Jerusalem's Old City, next to the holy compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. According to the Old Testament, it was Solomon who built the first Jewish Temple on the site.

That temple was destroyed by Babylonians, rebuilt, renovated by King Herod 2,000 years ago and then destroyed again by Roman legions in 70 A.D. The compound now houses two important Islamic buildings, the golden-capped Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque.

Archaeologists have excavated the fortifications in the past, first in the 1860s and most recently in the 1980s. But Mazar claimed her dig was the first complete excavation and the first to turn up strong evidence for the wall's age: a large number of pottery shards, which archaeologists often use to figure out the age of findings.

How to Build a God - Isaiah 44


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Tiger Woods - The Chosen One?

God opposes the proud . . . (James 4:6)

In reflecting on Tiger Woods' apology to the world for his adultery yesterday, I was reminded of an interview some years ago with his father. In 1996, when Tiger was named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, Earl Woods told the magazine's Gary Smith the following (to read the whole article, click here):

"Tiger will do more than any other man in history to change the course of humanity ... he's qualified through his ethnicity to accomplish miracles. He's the bridge between the East and the West. There is no limit because he has the guidance. I don't know yet exactly what form this will take. But he is the Chosen One. He'll have the power to impact nations. Not people. Nations. The world is just getting a taste of his power."
"If anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. . . . But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand." (Mark 13:21, 23)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

From the Same Mouth Come Blessing and Cursing

From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. (James 3:10)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

God's Gracious Sovereignty in Our Desperation

"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)

Not long ago someone came into my office and shared how the first three verses of the 23rd Psalm reveal how desperate in our human depravity we are for God's gracious intervention in our lives. His statement brought to mind a quote from Paul Miller in his book A Praying Life:

"Learned desperation is at the heart of a praying life." (pg 114)
Psalm 23:1-3

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me besides still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How Can I Know I'm Saved?

Pastor J.D. Grear:

Over the years I have found that an astonishing number of Christians do not possess an assurance of their salvation. They are hopeful, and fairly sure, but still—in times of struggle and doubt, they cannot find that absolute certainty that they belong to God and are safe with Him. This doubt cripples your ability to grow in your love for God, as assurance of salvation is the basis of the security that produces radical obedience and the gratefulness that produces radical generosity.

Many believers are troubled because they can't “remember” the moment when they first made the decision to trust Jesus. That doesn’t really matter at all. All that matters is that you’re trusting Him as Lord and Savior right now. Think of it like this: I walk into a classroom and sit down in a chair. About halfway through the class you ask me if I ever made a decision to sit in the chair. I say “yes,” and you ask me how I know that I made that decision. I don’t walk you through the decision making process that led me to sit in the chair, reviving the logic and emotions that caused me to take seat. I simply show you that I am currently seated.

The fact that I am seated means that at some point I made a decision to sit down, even if I can’t remember making that decision. This is what John 3:36, 1 John 5:13, Romans 4:5, Romans 10:9-10 say clearly... there are only two categories. Those currently believing, submissively, the testimony God has given about His Son, and those in defiant disbelief.

What is important is not that you can remember the moment of your salvation, or that you made the decision “correctly,” but simply that you are seated in Christ’s righteousness and in His authority right now. To press the analogy a bit further, either you are standing in your own righteousness and your own lordship, or you are seated in His salvation and His Lordship. There is no third option.

Often times we look for assurance by re-examining what happened to us at the moment of our salvation, be that 2 years, 5 years, or 25 years ago. If we feel good about that moment, we feel secure. If we don’t, we doubt our salvation.

The Bible never talks about assurance as remembering what happened 5 years ago. “Believing” is always a present tense, not past tense verb. Assurance comes from reflecting on our present reality, not from remembering past decisions. The Bible tells us not to find assurance by resting in what happened 2 years ago, but by resting, in this moment, in what happened 2000 years ago. If you are doing that at this moment, then (if never before) you are saved right now.
. . . work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)

Joy in Jesus Smites Human Morality

A few weeks ago I was struck by a quote written by Marvin Olasky:

Moralism apart from Christ is idolatry; Priests used hyssop to spray the blood of sacrifices on the people in Moses' time, and authenticity today is bound up in the realization that payment for sin required the shedding of Christ's blood. (from "2010 Vision" in World Magazine - January 16, 2010)
As I pondered over these words since that time, I recently found the depths of what I believe Olasky meant as I watched John Piper's message from the recent Bethlehem Pastor's Conference (see clip below).

How Long Must We Listen to Our Parents?

"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you." (Exodus 20:12)

After my weekly phone call to my mother to check on her, I ran across a recent posting by Russell Moore where he spoke about honoring our parents. Here is a partial quote; to read the whole posting, Click Here.

The command to honor father and mother never ends. It is part of the holy will of God, and is applicable to every person, regardless of age. When you’re ninety, you’ll still have an obligation to honor your parents, even if only in memory and in speech. The way one honors one’s parents changes, though, throughout the span of life. Jesus lived this life before you. His honoring of his father Joseph and his blessed mother Mary was of obedience in all things in childhood (Luke 2:51), of listening to pleas for help in adulthood (John 2:1-5), and of caring for weakness at the end of life (John 19:26-27). All of this was an honoring of father and mother.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Friday, February 5, 2010

Is the Super Bowl Really Super?

“If it’s the ultimate game how come they’re playing it again next year?”
Duane Thomas - running back, Dallas Cowboys, interviewed the day before the 1972 Super Bowl

“Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there’s something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, ‘Hey man, this is what is.’ I reached my goal, my dream, my life. I think, ‘God, it’s got to be more than this.’ I mean this isn’t, this can’t be what it’s all cracked up to be.”
Tom Brady - quarterback, New England Patriots, interviewed on 60 Minutes, 2009

“You made us for yourself, and our hearts find no peace till they rest in you.”
Augustine - Bishop of Hippo

"Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
Asaph - Psalm 73:25-26, in the Holy Bible

Thursday, February 4, 2010

With One Voice Glorify the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6).

Last Sunday I finished my sermon series on "The Pursuit of God's Vision for the Church" – and played a recording of "One Voice" by the Wailin' Jennys as a song of response after the message. I have posted this song before (August 5, 2008) when we were going through the "one another" texts in Scripture together. This song came to mind again throughout this past month of January as we went through Paul’s prayers regarding God’s vision for the church; he always emphasized the one-hearted unity we would share someday in glory, when the “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. . . . so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God" (Philippians 1:6,10-11).

Again, the spirit of the words and the music reflect a mood and texture of what I imagine the apostle Paul was thinking of when he wrote: I am posting this again for the number of new people in the church, and also as requested by those who have been with us who wanted to hear it again.

This is the sound of one voice
One spirit, one voice
The sound of one who makes a choice
This is the sound of one voice

This is the sound of voices two
The sound of me singing with you
Helping each other to make it through
This is the sound of voices two

This is the sound of voices three
Singing together in harmony
Surrendering to the mystery
This is the sound of voices three

This is the sound of all of us
Singing with love and the will to trust
Leave the rest behind it will turn to dust
This is the sound of all of us

This is the sound of one voice
One people, one voice
A song for every one of us
This is the sound of one voice
This is the sound of one voice

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Unpardonable Sin – Ed Welch

"Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come." (Matthew 12:32)

For those of us who struggle as to whether we have committed the unpardonable sin, Dr. Ed Welch tells us what “the unpardonable sin” really is:

A heart that holds Christ in contempt in both word and deed. . . . It is unwavering defiance. If you waver in your faith and are not actively turning people away from Christ, this passage is not speaking to you.
To read the whole article, click here.