Sunday, January 31, 2010

Occupy Till I Come (Part II)

The Sunday Sermon...

Gospel Driven Disciples introduces a new component: The Sunday Sermon. These sermons will be from various men of God from various time periods with the goal of provoking a deeper appreciation of our Lord Jesus Christ and to facilitate obedience to the admonition given in II Peter 3:18 – “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Savior Jesus Christ.”

This Sermon is by J. C. Ryle, (1816-1900) First published by Drummond's Tract Depot, Stirling, Scotland

Occupy Till I Come (Part II)

II. The second question I wish to consider is this, what is the present position of our Lord Jesus Christ?

The parable appears to me to answer that question distinctly in the twelfth verse. "A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return." This nobleman represents the Lord Jesus Christ, and that in two respects.

Like the nobleman, the Lord Jesus is gone into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom. He has not received it yet in possession, though He has it in promise. He has a spiritual kingdom unquestionably: He is king over the hearts of His believing people, and they are all His faithful subjects. He has a controlling power over the world, without controversy: He is King of kings and Lord of lords. "By Him all things consist," and nothing can happen without His permission. But His real, literal, visible, complete kingdom the Lord Jesus has not yet received. To use the words of Heb. ii. 8, "We see not yet all things put under Him." To use the words of Psalm cx. 1, "He sits on the right hand of the Father till His enemies are made His footstool."

The devil is the prince of this world during the present dispensation. (John xiv. 30.) The vast majority of the inhabitants of the earth choose the things that please the devil far more than the things that please God. Little as they may think it, they are doing the devil's will, behaving as the devil's subjects, and serving the devil far more than Christ. This is the actual condition of Christendom as well as of heathen countries. After 1900 years of Bibles and Gospel preaching, there is not a nation, or a country, or a parish, or a long established congregation, where the devil has not more subjects than Christ. So fearfully true is it that the world is not yet the kingdom of Christ.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Of the Spirit and of Power

The Power of True Godliness

Your Weekly Exposure to Edwards

Gospel Driven Disciples posts some highlights from the prolific works of Jonathan Edwards. The following excerpt is taken from “The Religious Affections”

“…in demonstration of the Spirit and of power…” (I Corinthians 2:4)

The inward principle is a communication of God, a participation of the divine nature, Christ living in the heart, the Holy Spirit dwelling there in union with the faculties of the soul as an internal vital principle, exerting His own proper nature in the exercise of these faculties. This is sufficient to show us why true grace should have such activity, power, and efficacy. No wonder that which is divine is powerful and effectual; for it has omnipotence on its side.

If God dwells in the heart, and is vitally united to it, He will show that He is God by the efficacy of His operation. Christ is not in the heart of a saint as in a sepulcher, or as a dead Savior, who does nothing, but as in His temple, and as one who is alive from the dead. For in the heart where Christ savingly is, there He lives, and exerts Himself after the power of that endless life that He received at His resurrection.

Thus every saint is subject to the benefit of Christ’s sufferings, and is made to know and experience the power of his resurrection. The Spirit of Christ, which is the immediate spring of grace in the heart, is all life, all power, all act. Hence saving affections, though oftentimes they do not make so great a noise and show as others, yet have in them a secret solidity, life, and strength, whereby they take hold of an carry away the heart, leading it into a kind of captivity, gaining a full and steadfast determination of the will of God and holiness.

(Taken from The Religious Affections)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Five Things You Don’t Want to Hear At the Pearly Gates!

5. Your Mansion is right this way. It is next to Jonah’s place. Don’t worry you will get use to the fishy smell.

4. Since the economic turndown has affected us we are using asphalt instead of gold to pave the Streets.

3. Your wings are still at the tailors and your harp has been on back order for three months. You aren’t early are you?

2. Yes, your earthly irritating and obnoxious neighbor made it after all. The skin of his teeth did come in handy.

1. Oh, its you. We weren’t expecting you. We don’t seem to have a reservation under that name

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Stop this chalk from breaking!

“If you believe in Jesus you are a fool! If there is a God, let him stop this piece of chalk from breaking into smithereens when it hits the floor”

I see from a Facebook post that another “warm & fuzzy – feel good – silliness over substance – there I forwarded it on” emotional video is making its rounds. The video plays tear jerking music in the background while it tells the story of a “bully” professor from USC who tormented believers for twenty years by calling them fools for believing in God. He then proceeds to prove his point by telling God, “If you exist then stop this chalk from breaking as it hits the floor. The object apparently is to have 1 million viewers watch the video.

Usually these types of arguments that God does not exist center on, “If God strikes me dead in the next five minutes, or let lightening strike me dead if God is real.” Naturally when neither phenomenon happens the idea is, “Well, I told you God didn’t exist!”

These stories, including, this latest one about a professor at USC are both so silly and so beneath our God that they honestly don’t need a response. However, I am compelled, not to defend our God because He certainly doesn’t need any defense, but to hopefully help somebody understand the foolishness of these types of arguments.

First, of all, I dare say that this is an urban myth. I really question that this story has taken place as it is presented in the video. No doubt there are colleges, universities, and higher learning institutions all over our land who have challenged the existence of God, Faith, and the Lord Jesus Christ. We have allowed our higher learning institutions to be high-jacked years ago by agnostics, atheists, shamans, spiritualists, and anyone else who gives us the “heebee jeebees.”

Second of all, even if a professor has challenged a class to prove the existence of God by dropping a piece of chalk, do you really think that no one in over twenty years ever stood up? Over the last thirty-eight years of having been a Christian I have known scores of individuals who love “combat”, especially “Christian Combat” so much that they would have enrolled in his course just to stand up.

Thirdly, let’s face it; you cannot prove the existence of God by hoping to sucker God into a cheap display of supernatural ability. Come on, think about it – God spoke and the universe came into existence in full maturity and functionality. God is not going to (from what we know about Him) in the majority, heck, the super-majority of these cases strike someone with lightening on the courthouse steps or stop a piece of chalk from breaking.

Why? You can’t prove God exists to a spiritually dead man. He cannot respond to your arguments and logic. He is immune to your reasoning. Spiritual things, such as God, scripture, faith, and Jesus Christ are spiritually discerned.

The only thing that this professor or any other atheist will ever respond to is the work of the Holy Spirit as He opens their heart and regenerates them by His power and the effective working of the Word of God. Illustrations about throwing up the parts of a watch and having them fall to the ground as an intricate and working timepiece are lost on spiritually dead people.

They need the gospel, the scripture coupled with our prayer for the working and moving of the Holy Spirit. Didn’t Paul say that “faith comes by hearing?”

Fourthly, my heart breaks because we think we are doing God a favor. We think we are striking a blow against atheism. We think we can forward these types of emails, videos, and what have you with the idea that we actually did something. May I suggest to you that most of our witnessing and testifying is not done in the venue it was designed. We spend a lot of time witnessing to the choir, to those who already may be believers and who for the most part agree with us.

Let’s forget about heart tugging stories and videos and preach the gospel. Let’s let the chalk hit the floor and proclaim that you sir, are under the condemnation and judgment of an angry God. However, before you leave this place, breathe an earnest prayer to God, saying, "God be merciful to me a sinner. Lord, I need to be saved. Save me. I call upon thy name." Join with me in prayer at this moment, I entreat you. Join with me while I put words into your mouths, and speak them on your behalf-"Lord, I am guilty. I deserve thy wrath. Lord I cannot save myself. Lord, I would have a new heart and a right spirit, but what can I do? Lord, I can do nothing, come and work in me to will and to do of thy good pleasure."

 (From the sermon “A Free Grace Promise delivered 10/11/1888 by Charles Haddon Spurgeon from the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit.)

How do I know there is a God?

1. By faith, creation shouts to me that the universe, stars, moons, earth, sun, and all that is in the universe was the work of God.

2. By faith, God through His Holy Spirit and His Word has opened my eyes and made a lasting impact and change in my life

3. By faith, I have seen, observed, heard, read, or otherwise been made aware of the impact and change that God has made in the lives of millions of people around this world today and throughout history

4. By faith, the Word of God, energized by the Holy Spirit as a living, powerful and sharp-two edged sword has convinced me that God exists

5. By faith, the Holy Spirit of God who has taken up residency in my life bears witness with my Spirit that God exists

6. By faith, I have observed for almost 39 years the extreme lengths that the enemy of God has gone to convince me and the rest of this world that God does not exist.

7. By faith, you sir are standing there demanding that God strike you dead, that lightening strike you, or that piece of chalk not hit the floor because as predicted you have said in your heart, that God does not exist.

You, beloved, it is by faith that we believe God exists. Not by argument, tangible proof or theater. Wait until the seven year tribulation when God unleashes the vials and bowls, you will see divine theatric proof then.

So, Mr. “Chalk dropping” atheist, let me say, unless you give me $40,000.00 in the next seven days, I do not believe that you exist. Better than that, I told George Jones to come to my house for dinner and he did not. Does that mean that some 50 years of being the greatest country singer ever born is a myth?

I leave you with this quote from Gregory Koukl: “These kinds of questions give a bad name to atheists. There are atheists who are careful and who would never be caught dead making this kind of statement. When you hear an atheist saying something like this, you know that he's silly and small-minded. He doesn't care about being careful about his point of view and he is just saying silly things. He doesn't even take his own atheism seriously. If he did, he'd be a lot more careful than to say a stupid thing like that. Because, obviously, the existence of any conscious being is not contingent upon their obedience to my frivolous commands.”

(From a transcript of a commentary from the radio show "Stand to Reason," with Gregory Koukl)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Equipping Others...A Novel Idea!

"Pastors should be free for theological reflection"

Munich, November 26 (idea) A leading management consultant advises clergy to concentrate on their commission to preach and counsel. Ministers should be relieved of management activities, says Peter F. Barrenstein, German director of McKinsey & Company. He recommends that local churches hire an executive to take care of managerial and administrative tasks. Pastors should be free for theological reflection and evangelism.

What a novel idea. Why does it take a leading management consultant to advise pastors to do what they are suppose to do? The challenge is that in many cases, pastors are not doing what they are to do.

Paul makes it clear in Ephesians that God gave pastors and teachers to equip the members of the flock to do the work of the ministry. When such equipping takes place then pastors are freed up to study the Word of God and to pray. Such study and prayer leads to both power in their preaching and rich content for the members of the flock.

Churches have to be taught that pastors are not hirelings hired to do everything they first, think that they should do, and second, all the things that they as the flock don’t want to do. Pastors are to equip and train individuals in order for them to utilize their God given gifts.

Instead of an executive being hired to handle administrative and managerial duties, how about this idea? Why not disciple, train, and equip men in the church who also desire to shepherd the flock. What could a multiplicity of Godly men do? Why not train men who do not desire to shepherd, but who obviously have the gift of serving and wish to be deacons? Why don’t we free pastors from everyday service, counsel, visitation, and etc., by allowing Godly men and women to serve in the functions God seemingly has designed?

Not a rocket scientist here, just someone who wonders what the average evangelical church is thinking. It is a shame that the churches in Germany need a consultant to help them relieve overburdened pastors of tasks never designed to be done by pastors. It is clearly spelled out in God's Word. He thinks of everything, doesn't He?

Monday, January 25, 2010

“The Wedding, Wine, Woman, and Wonder” Part I

On Mondays after my morning devotion and breakfast, I begin my exegesis on my text for the next Lord’s Day bible lesson for my adult class called the Sojourners. God has given me a great opportunity with a group of wonderful people who love the Lord and love His Word. More importantly, they love the word explained expositorily built from solid exegesis.

I normally begin reading the text numerous times in at least seven English translations until I can grasp the overall proposition of the text. Then of course begins the real “work” and that is translating the Greek into the English and developing a working text. Then arduous work follows developing the subject, proposition, and skeletal outline in order to eventually come to a finished lesson for Sunday.

I mention this because we finally come to the second chapter in the gospel of John. In particular we will be dealing with verses one through eleven. This is the first of seven “signs” or miracles that Jesus performs to reveal Himself to His disciples and the nation of Israel that He is the Messiah, the Promised Coming One of whom Moses spoke in the law and the prophets wrote about.

It is a heart breaking shame that often times the real meaning of this passage is lost due to being “drowned” in the controversy of the sign itself, the creation of wine. This is an extremely important event and has magnificent ramifactions. It's meaning and place cannot be missed. As you can imagine, as much as I am looking forward to dealing with this passage in conjunction with John’s purpose of writing this gospel (John 20:30-31) and the gospel’s place within the New Testament, I approach this “assignment” with some fear and trepidation.

This amuses our pastor. He asked me at lunch yesterday if I had reached John, chapter two yet? I informed him that we will be teaching it this coming Lord’s Day. He laughed. First of all, it is comforting to know that he and I are on the same page when it comes to this passage and every other passage that deals with wine and “strong drink.” It amuses him because he is secondly, aware that our church has had a “fundamental” background with certain “pre-conceived” notions about this subject. The majority of our class is going to have some “heartburn” over the actual product that Christ did in fact create.

Stay tune, next Monday, we will share how the class reacted. Don’t you just love the Word!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Occupy Till I Come

The Sunday Sermon...

Gospel Driven Disciples introduces a new component: The Sunday Sermon. These sermons will be from various men of God from various time periods with the goal of provoking a deeper appreciation of our Lord Jesus Christ and to facilitate obedience to the admonition given in II Peter 3:18 – “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Savior Jesus Christ.”

This Sermon is by J. C. Ryle, (1816-1900) First published by Drummond's Tract Depot, Stirling, Scotland

Occupy Till I Come (Part I)

"And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come." -Luke 19:11-13
The words before your eyes form an introduction to the parable, which is commonly called the "Parable of the Pounds." They contain matter which deserves the prayerful consideration of every true Christian in the present day.

There are some parables of which Matthew Henry says, with equal quaintness and truth, "The key hangs beside the door." The Holy Ghost himself interprets them. There is no room left for doubt as to the purpose for which they were spoken. Of such parables the parable of the Pounds is an example.

St. Luke tells us that our Lord Jesus Christ added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear."

These words reveal to us the secret thoughts of our Lord's disciples at this period of His ministry. They were drawing nigh to Jerusalem. They gathered from many of their Master's sayings, that something remarkable was about to happen; they had a strong impression that one great end of His coming into the world was about to be accomplished: so far they were quite right. As to the precise nature of the event about to happen they were quite wrong.

Reader, there are three subjects opened up in the passage of Scripture, which appear to me to be of the deepest importance. Upon each of these I wish to offer a few thoughts for your private meditation. I purposely abstain from touching any part of the parable except the beginning. I want to direct your attention to the three following points.

I. I will speak of the mistake of the disciples, referred to in the verses before us.

 II. I will speak of the present position of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 III. I will speak of the present duty of all who profess to be Jesus Christ's disciples.

May God bless the reading of this tract to every one into whose hands it may fall. May every reader be taught to pray that the Spirit will guide him into all truth.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Love and Joy!

The Importance of Religious Affections

Your Weekly Exposure to Edwards

 Gospel Driven Disciples posts some highlights from the prolific works of Jonathan Edwards. The following excerpt is taken from “The Religious Affections”

“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory.” (I Peter 1:8)

In these words, the apostle represents the state of the minds of the Christians he wrote to, under the persecutions they were then the subjects of. And there were two kinds of operation or exercise of true religion in them under their sufferings that the apostle takes notice of in the text, wherein these benefits appeared.

Love to Christ. “Whom having not seen, ye love.” The world was ready to wonder what strange principle it was that influenced them to expose themselves to so great sufferings, to forsake the things that were seen, and renounce all that was dear and pleasant which was the object of sense. They had a principle of love to something unseen; they loved Jesus Christ, for they saw Him spiritually whom the world saw not, and whom they themselves had never seen with bodily eyes.

Joy in Christ. Their joy was full of glory. Although the joy was unspeakable, no words were more fit to represent its excellency than these, that it was full of glory; or, as it is in the original, glorified joy. In rejoicing with this joy, their minds were filled, as it were, with a glorious brightness, and their natures exalted and perfected. It was a prelibation of the joy of heaven; it filled their minds with the light of God’s glory and made them to shine with some communication of that glory.

(Taken from Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections)

Friday, January 22, 2010

And I thought I was a conservative...

I took the Nolan Chart Survey and discovered I am a libertarian. However, my little yellow "star" put me very close to the conservative camp. I always thought I was a conservative. Now I have to spend the rest of my morning researching what a "libertarian" is.

My mark on the star falls about where the Face of Ronald Regan is. For some reason I couldn't copy my actual results and somehow I ended up with Ralph Peterson's from "Alwasys Right - Sometimes Wrong" So, disregard the star. (But never disregard Ralph!)

You can find the survey at this site:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Prescription: Prayer & Perseverance

Who among you is currently experiencing a trial, hardship, persecution, or suffering? It is obvious that Christ Jesus has “delayed” His public return. During this period of waiting the elect are subjected to any number of injustices, hardships, and suffering.

What is the solution? What are the elect to do? The answer is given by Christ himself in Luke 18:1. Christ instructs His disciples; “…they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” When you are on the receiving end of an injustice or hardship for the sole reason of being a child of God, the prescription is communicate with God and do not be wearied or worn out by it.

As I await relief through and by the blessings of God I am to pray. The first question that comes to my mind is why? I can think of three reasons:

• Prayer is commanded by God. Truth be told, this should be enough.

• Prayer demonstrates my utter dependence upon God. I am not sufficient for the task.

• Prayer demonstrates my absolute confidence in the wisdom and motivation of God.

In times of hardship, trials, and suffering the question often comes down to: do I have confidence in God? This is a yes or no question. There is no room to say yes, but. But what? Is God the fountain of all wisdom? Is God the fountain of all good? Absolutely!

Therefore, I am to communicate constantly my fears, feelings, and facts about my suffering or injustice. It is amazing what almost always occurs when I do this. First, in almost every case God does not immediately or instantly remove the trial, hardship, or the cause of my suffering. Secondly, it is during this time of persistent prayer that God renews or strengthens my faith and trust in Him.

God responds to the prayers of His children, especially the prayers for justice or vindication. As I learn and struggle with the fact God doesn’t always provide the answer I want, when I want it. So, God tells me to not grow weary; to not faint or become exhausted as I wait for relief. As a matter of fact, I am to continually pray for the righteous ways of God to be revealed in order for His glorious character to be displayed in the midst of my trial, suffering, injustice, or circumstance.

God’s plan for my suffering many times includes delay. Delay today when I am would desire immediate relief. Delay tomorrow as I await His glorious return and the ultimate means of relief. What are we to do? We are to always pray and prevent growing weary.

I am feeling renewed and better already! What say ye?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Prince Theophilus and Princess Coco?

“London, January 20: Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered a 2,000-year-old temple in Alexandria dedicated to a cat goddess.
According to a report by BBC News, the temple is the first trace of the royal quarters of the Ptolemaic dynasty to be revealed in Alexandria.

The temple, discovered in the Kom el-Dekkah neighborhood of the city, is believed to belong to Queen Berenike II, wife of Ptolemy III who ruled Egypt in the third century BC, according to Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.

The temple is the first part of the royal palace to be unearthed, and it is 60m (200ft) high and 15m (50ft) wide.
The find confirms the Greek dynasty of Egyptians continued the worship of ancient animal deities” (Big News Network.Com)

Now it all makes sense! Now it is so obvious that my two cats are descendants of this cat goddess. The signs were all there how could I have missed them?

Let me explain; we have two cats, a six year old calico named Theophilus (for the Roman official Luke wrote his two part series to) and a 3 month old mixed bag named Coco. Since having been introduced to our humble homestead they have taken up permanent abode, one on each of our two living room side chairs. They sit perched on those chairs as if they were thrones. They continue sit there and expect to be waited on hand and foot, excuse me front paw and rear paws. There they sit; staring at Lord knows what with their feet tucked up under them, tail slowly swishing back and forth and a look that says, “We don’t get any respect.”

They are royalty! Descended all the way down from this Alexandrian cat goddess. Who knew? (Don’t worry, we love them both and treat them as if they really were royalty!)

Seriously, what a shame that man has been plunged into darkness so deep and deceptive that worshipping animals rather than the one, true, and living God brings satisfaction. Some eighteen centuries later do you think Queen Berenike II, wife of Ptolemy III, believes her cat to be a goddess?

“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” (Romans 1:24-25 ESV)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Not by My Strength!

“If I might read only one book beside the Bible, I would choose “The Christian in Complete Armour.” (John Newton, converted slave-trader who became a pastor and penned Amazing Grace.

The apostle Paul had a discerning heart. In writing to the early Christians at Ephesus, he knew he had to prepare them for unprecedented hardship. But first he longed to encourage and comfort them, so he reminded them of the Lord’s strength:

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might…” (Eph 6:10)

It is as if he were thinking, “Some of my dear friends must be quaking in their boots to see their enemies so strong and themselves so weak, so numerous while they are so few, so well equipped and expert at arms while they are just raw recruits.” He must have known a fear-wracked soul is too occupied with its present distress to listen to advice from anyone, even a well-meaning friend.

He tells us, ‘Don’t let your fears overwhelm you. March on with undaunted courage and be strong in the Lord…” And here is the greatest consolation: “The outcome of the battle rests on God’s performance, not on your skill or strength!”

Great words to remember! Words I post to myself this morning as a reminder to fear not.

William Gurnall (1616-1679)

Taken from The Christian in Complete Armour, Vol. 1, The Banner of Truth Trust, p.17

Monday, January 18, 2010

Some Good News…

Last year my second oldest daughter Sonja went on a short mission’s trip sponsored by her local church, the Beaverton Christian Church to Haiti. She described her trip as a life changing experience. She went down with a group and provided manual labor to help build a much needed retaining wall for a local church project.

This year a group of ladies (photo upper left) in conjunction with Lifeline Christian Mission went to Grand Goave, a town 40 miles southwest of Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince. For months, they have been collecting shoes and socks, baby supplies and gift boxes to take to Haiti. The group was there when the devastating earthquake hit the country.

Fortunately after what seemed to be an eternity, Beaverton Christian Church learned that the entire group was safe. Some had to sleep outside after their residence buildings collapsed. For quite some time the roads to the airport were unsafe. Thank God they were safe even though their departure was delayed and they were unable to come home.

Thank God yesterday, the entire group arrived safe and sound at the Portland International Airport. The community, the church, and my daughter were relieved. Their reports were: “It is as bad as you have seen on TV or worse.”

We also learned yesterday while attending services at our local church, Calvary Baptist Church, that our own missionaries, Herode & Edline Guillomnettre with Mission Door were alive and safe. Their residence was leveled in the earthquake and Edline received minor cuts and bruises as they made their escape from their collapsed home. We were unable to learn any more news than this.

I am sure that many of you have missionaries on the field also in Haiti. It is our prayer that they too were spared. We hope to have more good news to share about those who have left home and hearth to take the good news of the gospel around the world including Haiti.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Holding Fast the Word of Life in 2010

The Sunday Sermon...

Gospel Driven Disciples introduces a new component: The Sunday Sermon. These sermons will be from various men of God from various time periods with the goal of provoking a deeper appreciation of our Lord Jesus Christ and to facilitate obedience to the admonition given in II Peter 3:18 – “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Savior Jesus Christ.”
This sermon is by the Pastor John Piper of the Bethlehem Baptist Church, in Minneapolis, MN.

Philippians 2:14-16

"Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain."

As always, in the second message of Prayer Week, I am seeking with all my heart to call you, plead with you, inspire you, motivate you, encourage you, persuade you, lead you to give yourself to the word of God in 2010. To give yourself to the word of God in 2010. To give yourself to the word of God in 2010.

I mean something more than a few-minute snatch at it every few days. I mean give yourself to it every day. Every day. Every day.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

What Can Money Buy?

It used to be that once your reputation was damaged very little could ever fix it. Men have spent most of their life building a reputation of dependability, honesty, reliability, loyalty and at times transparency. Men lived with the realization that a life time of reputation could be destroyed in a single moment of thoughtlessness, indiscretion, or criminality. Money can buy a good many things but can it buy back a reputation?

We fast forward to today where we see that in some cases, tearful apologies, tell all books (where the blame is fixed on others), or the donation of large sums of money can buy public forgiveness. In keeping with my convictions based on biblical principles I am not going to judge the motives of Tiger Woods. I will not enter the ring of accusations that this is just a ploy to purchase good will. I will leave that to Tiger Woods and his maker.

It is reported that he is considering donating $3 million to send doctors and medical supplies to Haiti. One online report states:

"Tiger Woods is working on sending a mobile hospital with 50 EMTs to go set up a triage," Simmons said Wednesday night, according to the Daily News.

Giving of money and resources to help others less fortunate is one of the reasons that God gives and allows each of us to make or earn money. Money is not to be hoarded nor is it used simply to satisfy our lusts, coveting, or to obtain what we envy.

Tiger Woods, as a reported billionaire, is certainly in the position where he can take some of the fortune that God has permitted him to accumulate and share his fortune in this horrific event. It is my hope that his decision is motivated by deep compassion, grief, and horror of those who have been so unbelievably devastated.

The backlash of this seemingly angelic gesture is that it can also buy a load of public forgiveness prematurely. There is no doubt Tiger Woods has suffered tremendously since his adulteries have surfaced. It seems his wife has moved out of their home, his public imagine is in shambles, and sponsors have been dropping him like flies.

It does not take a rocket scientist to know that Tiger Woods would love to either, rewind the clock and undo all the damage or to just have it go away. He has a “long row to hoe.” There is much work ahead of him in order to “earn” private and public forgiveness.

The steps of forgiveness and reconciliation are extremely difficult. They are taken by very few who realize that humility, confession, restoration , and accountability is possible and these pave the pathway back to integrity.

Tiger Woods needs to take this next year off from golf. He needs to expend the same determination, concentration, and dedication to reconciling with his family. It is my prayer that he doesn’t not rely on this monumental gesture to short-cut the process and buy back his reputation.

The Gift that No Man Can Give

The Peace Which Christ Gives
Your Weekly Exposure to Edwards

Gospel Driven Disciples posts some highlights from the prolific works of Jonathan Edwards. The following excerpt is taken from “The Peace Which Christ Gives His True Followers”

“Peace I live with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.” (John 14:27 ESV)

This legacy of Christ to His true disciples is very diverse from all that the men of this world ever leave to their children when they die. The men of this world have great estates to bequeath, an abundance of the good things of this world, and they leave them to make a great show among men. But none of these things are to be compared to that blessed peace which Christ has bequeathed to His true followers. The peace which Christ gives vastly differs in the following respects:

Christ’s peace is a reasonable peace and rest of soul; it is what has its foundation in light and knowledge, in the proper exercise of reason, and a right view of things; whereas the peace of the word is founded in blindness and delusion.

Christ’s peace is a virtuous and holy peace. The peace that the saints enjoy in Christ is not only their comfort, but is part of their beauty and dignity. They are virtues and graces of God’s Spirit, wherein the image of God in them partly consists.

Christ’s peace greatly differs from that which is enjoyed by the men of the world, with regard to its exquisite sweetness. It is sweet because it arises from holy and divine principles, the fountain of all good.
Christ’s peace is unfailing and eternal peace. It is everlasting; it is what no time or change can destroy. The fountain of His comfort shall never be diminished. His comfort and joy is a living spring in the soul.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Why I Blog?

John over at “While We Sojourn” asked an interesting question yesterday – why do I blog? I appreciate the question due to the fact that I enjoy evaluating what I do. The evaluation process makes me question my motives, my goals, and my process of achieving those goals.

I find in many cases my process is working to accomplish the specific goals that I have set for either myself or for certain tasks. Naturally, there are those times when an extensive evaluation enables me to tighten up or refine my steps or my processes. There have been times when entire projects have been scrapped or revamped. The evaluation process determined that they were not working or were not effective in achieving my goals. I am not afraid of “killing” processes or programs that are not working or effective.

Initially, it was Abraham Piper who started me blogging. One day while perusing around “Desiring God” I found an article that gave six reasons why pastors should blog. Those reasons seemed valid and beneficial. I thought, what they hey – I can do this!

Now that John has asked this question I can re-evaluate my motives and re-think why I blog. Let me share the following reasons why I blog. Perhaps some of you would be so kind as to evaluate me and let me know if I hit any of these marks from time to time.

1. First and foremost I blog for the glory of God. I desire to reflect, demonstrate, and magnify telescopically the glorious, magnificent, marvelous, manifold, majestic, and massive character of our God. To “steal” from Eddie Eddings blog “Facets of Grace”, we could never fully unfold and portray every facet of the grace of God in this life-time. I am having fun trying.

2. I blog to teach and instruct. Colossians 1:28-29 is what I have dedicated myself to. “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”

This is my life’s work. Teaching, exhorting, sharing, and ministering is what makes me tick. Honestly, it doesn’t just make me tick; it gives validity and value to my life. Blogging is just one more avenue to do these things.

3. I blog to expose as many people possible to as many great resources that perhaps they might not have ever been exposed to. I enjoy sharing writers, pastors, quotes, books, sermons, ideas, and even songs that could possibly be a blessing to someone.

Not everyone is going to like, need, or even appreciate everything I share. That is ok, I know it going in. However, if one person periodically is blessed, or moved to praise God, or is encouraged then praise be to our living God!

4. I blog to develop my writing skills. I want to be a blessing in every venue, including writing. I realize I am new at this. Blogging gives me a chance to practice and hopefully get better. I know that my writing needs improvement. I didn’t utilize the opportunities in high school or college which would have helped me as a writer. I hope to fine-tune my “skill” each time that I write. Hopefully, my writing will be better next near than it is now.

5. I blog to develop new friendships with other brothers and sisters in Christ. There are so many family members in the body of Christ I will never meet until we are in heaven. What a shame! There are so many of you who have been a blessing to me already. I think of you, I pray for you, I laugh with you, and have cried with some of you. I have been deeply moved by some of you and you probably don’t even know it.

I would love to correspond with some of you. Exchange brief emails or what not. It is fun having friends in Texas, Virginia, Kuwait, Colorado, and wherever.

6. I blog to sharpen my thoughts. You all know that as you begin to think on a topic or rethink a topic committing it to the blogosphere makes you fine-tune your thoughts. Blogging makes you define your thoughts and to clarify your thoughts. At times it makes you defend your thoughts. Not necessarily in a hostile questioning environment, but just so that they can be understood.

7. I blog to have fun. I enjoy this immensely! I try to have fun even when being serious or attempting to teach an important point. My sense of humor is warped and dry. Sometimes just writing on a serious subject is fun or sometimes including humor or jokes is fun.

Well, there you have it John – seven reasons why I blog. Thank you for causing me to evaluate my reasons. They are somewhat different than when I began back in February 2009. I wonder what they will be in 2011?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Really Pat, A Pact With the Devil?

Pat Robertson’s explanation for this devastating earthquake in Haiti is a 200 year old pact with the devil. He states that Haiti was under the heel of the French government. In order to escape the control of the French government over Haiti, officials got together with the devil and agreed to serve the devil if he arranged their liberation. At about that point in his reporting Robertson interjects with a “true story!” The scary thing is that he believes this to be true. He believes this to be the reason for this devastating earthquake.

First of all, make no mistake, I believe that the Devil, Satan, Lucifer, or whatever other name he is called is real and exists. I do not underestimate the power and the program of Satan one iota. He is real, powerful, and hates God.

Second, there is no doubt in my mind that Satan when given permission can utilize elements that exist in this universe to create terrible disasters. For example, when Satan wanted to prove to God that Job only worshipped God because of God’s blessings, Satan received permission to use the lighting and fire to fall from heaven and burn up the sheep and the servants who were caring for them.

Satan also obtained permission from God to use the wind to strike Job’s oldest son’s house and destroy it. This resulted in the house collapsing and killing all ten of Job’s children. Satan when given permission can cause disease, deformity, disaster, devastation, and even death.

Third, let me say that God is in absolute control of everything in this universe including Satan. Satan can do nothing that God does not allow him to do. The problem with men like Pat Robertson is that they see a devil behind every rock, tree, bush, or disaster. This is very dangerous theology.

When every disaster, devastation, trial, tribulation is attributed to Satan, demons, or the power of evil it alleviates any and all personal responsibility and it negates the design of our sovereign God. Case in point, in Luke 13 when someone asked Jesus about the Galileans who had been murdered while offering sacrifices how did Jesus answer? He asked them if they thought those Galileans were worse sinners than other people? He also asked if they thought the 18 men who had died when the tower in Siloam fell? It is obvious that these were rhetorical questions.

However the answer was no! They weren’t worse sinners and they may not have even died because of any specific sin. The lesson to be learned was, take note of their death. Take note of their premature or early death. Why? Because if you don’t learn from their “untimely” death and repent of your sin, you will die like those men.

The bible predicts that prior to the second coming of the Lord there will be earthquakes. Matthew 24 predicts earthquakes in many places. These earthquakes are a reminder that there is a God with whom we have must give an account to. They are mercy moments calling our attention to the fact that we will die, we are mortal and that we need to repent of our sins.

When we make such an outlandish statement with no evidence or support other than rumor, hearsay, superstition involving an urban myth, we divert people’s attention from seeing the glorious hand of our God in a merciful means of reminding us that we must do business with Him.

The following is extracted from the Thursday, January 14, 2010 post from The Contemporary Calvinist blog site:

Jean R. Gelin, Ph.D., born and raised in Haiti and now serving as assistant pastor at a church in the U.S., covers the legend of the pact in an article entitled "God, Satan, and the Birth of Haiti" (part 1, part 2, part 3). In short, he hasn't found any evidence to support it.

He does, however, offer a reasonable explanation for Haiti's extreme poverty:

Haiti's emergence as a free nation in the New World was similar to the birth of an unwanted child. After winning its liberty through the literal destruction of the entire colonial structure, the new country was simply not welcome in the community of nations. ... Haiti was forced to pay a large compensation to France before its independence could finally be accepted. Many historians believe that this huge financial burden, in the order of several millions and lasting one century, plays a critical role in the country's slow but steady descent into poverty.

Along with France, the United States and even the Vatican initially refused to recognize the new nation. For reasons known only to them, the leaders of the Catholic Church in Europe, who were very much involved in Saint-Domingue, declined to have diplomatic relations with Haiti, even after repeated attempts by several heads of state, and despite the fact that Catholicism was made the official religion of the new country.

To suggest that what we are seeing in Haiti is the result of a 200-year-old pact with the devil is to underestimate the sinful depravity of man. Since when did we humans need any help in being evil?

I quote from the conclusion drawn on the Contemporary Calvinist website:

“Yes, there are dark spiritual forces at work in Haiti, just as there are everywhere else in the world, but let's not give the devil more credit than he's due. Satan may be "the god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4), but the God of all eternity is still in control.”

So, really Pat, a 200 year old pact with the devil?

A Thought About Suffering Part III

As promised in our last post, I want to share with you seven more reasons that God not only allows suffering, but why he has graciously given suffering to us as a gift. This is certainly not the type of gift that we would naturally desire, yet it is sometimes the best gift that we could receive.

There certainly is nothing new in this post that most of us have not already considered or experienced. It is good as Peter said:

“…I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have, I think it right, as; as long as I am in this body to stir you up by way of reminder…I will make every effort so that…you may be able at any time to recall these things.” (II Peter 1:12-15 ESV)

Once again let me say that the following reasons are not original with me. They are taken from notes of sermons I have heard, from research in sermons and series I have both preached and taught. These suggestions come from various pastors, authors, books, and even from internet articles. I give the ultimate credit to God for His glory and truly give credit to the many pastors, authors, bible teachers who have over the years added these viable hints of why our glorious, loving, omnipotent, and merciful God allows us to experience the most physical, emotional and spiritual pain possible.

We are called to and given the gracious gift of suffering in order….

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Thought about Suffering Part II

Almost all of us have at one time or another filled the slot of “Monday morning quarterback.” It is so easy to watch our favorite quarterback on Sunday afternoons make a multitude of mistakes and then Monday morning around the water cooler explain what we would have done different.

Equally troubling is listening to those Monday morning quarterbacks tell us why we are suffering, or undergoing our current trials. Many people are merely trying to help us, and they even think they might even be encouraging us. We just want to yell back at them things like, “How do you know how I feel?” “How can you even come close to feeling the pain or hurt that I am experiencing?” How dare you think I might be guilty of sin which in turn has brought down on my poor wicked head the trouble that now is surrounding me?

I want to share with you several possibilities for the pain that we often experience in our Christian life. As far as I can deduce from the Scriptures pain, suffering, trials, tribulations, and even testings do not come upon us but for a reason or reasons known to God. There is a biblical perspective for suffering. We may not know at the time or for quite some time the reasons why we are experiencing the pain that we suffer. Quite frankly, we may never know this side of heaven why we are undergoing the difficulties that may be pounding us mercilessly.

At best James, the brother of Jesus and former pastor of the Jerusalem Christian Fellowship in Jerusalem, circa AD 33, gives us the best piece of advice that anyone could ever give us. In the very context of trials of various kinds, including the testing of your faith, James encourages us to pray and ask God for wisdom to respond properly and wisely to what we are experiencing. Listen to him:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith with no doubting…”

The following reasons are suggested as to why you, someone you know, or even me may be suffering or undergoing trials or tribulations. These reasons are not original with me. They are taken from notes of sermons I have heard, from research in sermons and series I have both preached and taught. These suggestions come from various pastors, authors, books, and even from internet articles. I give the ultimate credit to God for His glory and truly give credit to the many pastors, authors, bible teachers who have over the years added these viable hints of why our glorious, loving, omnipotent, and merciful God allows us to experience the most physical, emotional and spiritual pain possible.

We are called to and given the gracious gift of suffering in order….

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Thought about Suffering Part I

Philippians 1:29“For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.” (ESV)

This verse has always been somewhat of an anomaly for me. I dare say for many others also. I have heard the first half of this verse quoted frequently in my Christian experience; however, I do not often hear the second portion quoted as well.

The average American evangelical avoids the topic of suffering, excuse me, like the plague. We don’t even like to talk about it publically since it risks the chance of suffering to attach itself to us. We think if we talk about trials, tribulations, or testings we will “catch it.” I have actually had believers tell me to be very careful with books of the bible like James or Job otherwise I will enter into some form of suffering by the virtue of simply reading them or handling them.

As much as we avoid suffering, it is the one thing we need the most. Suffering is the vehicle by which we are made more into the image of Christ than any other means. C. S. Lewis once wrote:

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience,
 but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Monday, January 11, 2010

Metcalf’s Musings

Today is Monday. The alarm went off at 4:30 AM but it was so cold I just didn’t want to get up. I grabbed my favorite comforter, big, thick, and warm and set up camp on the couch and put on my all time favorite TV series, Frasier. It took awhile but I collected the whole 11 seasons and when I need to just decompress and mark time I watch a couple of episodes.

The coffee was magnificent! Butter Rum! The rain pelting against the living room window and the roof sounds like tiny marbles falling on the floor. However, with a warm comforter, the sound of rain, butter rum coffee and my favorite episode from season six, “How to Bury a Millionaire” it was a splendid morning.

Breakfast was next, 8 oz of OJ, two strips of thick cut peppered bacon, two links of country sausage, and two over easy eggs – that is “heaven on a table.” No, I didn’t wake the sleeping wife; I can cook a mean breakfast. Come over some time for either, omelets, over easy, sunny side up, or scrambled with secret spices.

January 3 my second oldest grand-child and oldest grandson turned 13. That is the second teen-age grandchild I now have. As “traumatic” as it is for me, better my two daughters than me! I love them to death but where did the energy go?

Tomorrow our youngest grandchild turns 9. He is in Illinois buried under “tons” of snow having a blast so we won’t get to have cake and ice cream with him. He certainly is in our thoughts and prayers. No wonder April was so quiet.

I continue to teach the gospel of John to our adult Sunday school class called the Sojourners. Yesterday’s passage was John 1:24-29. We were talking about The Testimony of John the Baptist – The Words of John first, to the Commission sent to him by the Sanhedrin and then secondly, to the Crowd who came to hear him preach. Yesterday’s lesson centered on the reasons for His Words to the Crowd – they were The Arrival of Jesus and The Announcement of John. John announced Jesus as the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of both the Jews and the Gentiles. (Emphasis mine)

No word yet on a ministry. Last time in our Musings, I shared with you in the Musings that we were being considered for a church on the Kitsap Peninsula. Their view on leadership and the bible's were different and they considered that a deal breaker, so we didn't get the church.

 In case you aren’t familiar with the Kitsap Peninsula think of this way, God began creation in the Northwest, but particularly with the Peninsula and then he worked out from there. Come up some time and see His best work!

No word of a job yet either. I do appreciate your prayers. Yesterday, even after worshipping with God’s people our marvelous God, I found myself by late afternoon falling into a fear that I was afraid I might not get out of. My head tells my heart God is sovereign, in control, knows my every need, but sometimes the heart still fears.

Well, as the rain still beats against the house, the wind blows, and the butter rum coffee needs to be replenished, I need to bring this issue of the Metcalf Musings to a close and prepare to have a meaningful devotion with my God. I need his forgiveness, encouragement, and grace today!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Absolved Only Through the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ

The Sunday Sermon...

Absolved Only Through the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ
by John Calvin

Gospel Driven Disciples introduces a new component: The Sunday Sermon.  These sermons will be from various men of God from various time periods with the goal of provoking a deeper appreciation of our Lord Jesus Christ and to facilitate obedience to the admonition given in II Peter 3:18 – “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Savior Jesus Christ.”

 This sermon is by the great Reformer John Calvin.

Calvin's forty-three sermons on Galatians, preached in French between 14 November 1557 and 8 May 1558, were taken down in shorthand by Denis Raguentier, the professional scribe hired for this purpose by the French emigrants in Geneva. They were later published and sold, but – in a decision which typified the remarkable practical Christianity which Genevan believers had learned from Calvin's preaching – the proceeds were used to provide relief for poor French-speaking refugees.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. (Gal. 5:1-3)

There are many who claim to be children of God who have never been born again through that good seed which enlightens, and brings acceptance with God, who then acknowledges us as his children. We must hold fast to the pure doctrine of the gospel if we desire to be truly united to the Lord Jesus Christ. He, as our Head and our Mediator, unites us to God the Father. We have already spoken about the reason why Paul mentions both the servile and the free offspring. He tells us that those who seek justification through their own good deeds are severing themselves from the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. For they are binding themselves to perform that which is impossible, that is, to satisfy God by keeping his commandments. Whereas, we are so full of weaknesses that we cannot possibly fulfill the least article of the law, let alone reach the perfection which the law requires. This is why Paul concludes that we must maintain the liberty that was purchased for us by our Lord Jesus Christ.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Wisdom of God
Your Weekly Exposure to Edwards

Gospel Driven Disciples posts some highlights from the prolific works of Jonathan Edwards. The following excerpt is taken from his discourse entitled The Wisdom of God displayed in Salvation.

Ephesians 3:10“…So that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” (ESV)

I. We will consider the choice of the person to be our redeemer. When God designed the redemption of mankind, his great wisdom appears in that he pitched upon his own, his only-begotten, Son, to be the person to perform the work. He was a redeemer of God’s own choosing, and therefore he is called in Scripture, God’s elect (Isa. 42:1). The wisdom of choosing this person to be the redeemer appears in his being every way a fit person for this undertaking. It was necessary that the person that is the redeemer should be a divine person. — None but a divine person was sufficient for this great work. The work is infinitely unequal to any creature. It was requisite that the redeemer of sinners should be himself infinitely holy. None could take away the infinite evil of sin, but one that infinitely far from and contrary to sin himself. Christ is a fit person upon this account.

It was requisite that the person, in order to be sufficient for this undertaking, should be one of infinite dignity and worthiness, that he might be capable of meriting infinite blessings. The Son of God is a fit person on this account. It was necessary, that he should be a person of infinite power and wisdom. For this work is so difficult that it requires such a one. Christ is a fit person also upon this account. It was requisite that he should be a person infinitely dear to God the father, in order to give an infinite value to his transactions in the Father’s esteem, and that the Father’s love to him might balance the offense and provocation by our sins. Christ is a fit person upon this account. Therefore called the beloved (Eph. 1:6), He has made us accepted in the beloved.

It was requisite, that the person should be one that could act in this as of his own absolute right: one that, in himself, is not a servant or subject. Because, if he is one that cannot act of his own right, he cannot merit anything. He that is a servant, and that can do no more than he is bound to do, cannot merit. And then he that has nothing that is absolutely his own, cannot pay any price to redeem another. Upon this account Christ is a fit person. And none but a divine person can be fit. — And he must be a person also of infinite mercy and love. For no other person but such a one would undertake a work so difficult, for a creature so unworthy as man. Upon this account also Christ is a fit person. — It was requisite that he should be a person of unchangeable perfect truth and faithfulness. Otherwise he would not be fit to be depended on by us in so great an affair. Christ is also a fit person upon this account.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Where Is God? by Dr. John Townsend

Where Is God attempts to answer the question that the majority of people ask when they come face to face with hard times. Townsend answers this question by assuring his readers that God desires to be right alongside of you in a powerful manner. As a matter of fact, Townsend makes it quite clear that God is for you and with you regardless of your circumstances.

Where is God is a 212 page book containing fourteen chapters and an appendix. Quite frankly, Townsend didn’t hit the mark until chapter thirteen. The last two chapters are the real meat of this book and the most helpful. The book does contain scripture; however it is quoted from the New Living Translation which is a paraphrase. One would want to compare the scripture used with a literal translation.

I was excited to read this book for Thomas Nelson to see what an evangelical psychologist had to say about suffering from a biblical viewpoint. Townsend’s book was what I had expected: light, airy, fluffy, and a catalog of his successes and experiences. It said nothing new or anything that I had not already known or even experienced.

At times I was concerned that his view of God was like that of much of the evangelical world; God is omnipotent but limited to our cooperation. His appendix on additional books about suffering was confusing; it was a mixture of some good books and some bad books on suffering.

This was a good attempt at trying to explain the age old question of where is God when I hurt. Unfortunately, it did not get the job done. It would be a good primer and a starting place for anyone with little or no knowledge of the Scriptures on this topic.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Devotional Prayers for Gospel Driven Disciples

This morning I thought I would share some prayer topics that can be prayed as part of a daily devotion. Since this blog is dedicated to the maturing of God’s people I want each and every reader to grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Talking with a good number of people it seems that two things happen during our personal prayer time; the first thing that can happen is that we honestly don’t know what to pray for. The second thing that can happen is that we have a tendency to pray for the physical or material needs in our lives. Some believers have told me that their prayer time consists almost wholly of physical needs to the exclusion of spiritual needs.

I have made it a practice to keep a “prayer-journal.” When I read books, whether that book be Holiness by Grace or A Body of Divinity, as I come across biblical principles that draw me closer to God or aid in my spiritual development I write them in my journal and then pray them during my devotions. Allow me to share a dozen with you this morning. You may already be praying most of them, however if you add just one to your prayer time then this blog will have been worthwhile.

Father, I pray that you would…

1. …cause me to love you, your word, and your ways in an even greater way

2. …cause me to live and move in light of your ways rather than my ways

3. …cause me to serve you with all of my heart and not any less

4. …give me a whole-hearted passion for holiness and for God’s good pleasure

5. … conform my life to the will of God

6. …give me so much life that vanity would have no power or hold on me

7. …allow me to perceive the beauty of God’s character in such a manner that I would desire it to be reproduced in my life

8. …teach me to truly fear God

9. …teach me to truly obey God

10. …teach me to truly delight in God

11. …teach me to reflect God’s character as a light for others to see in hopes that they too would desire you

12. …enlarge my heart for God

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Burgers, Behavior, & the Bible

We certainly have come a long way, baby! We have come all the way to where we can leave self-control, maturity, and manners at home when the local burger bar apparently screws up on our hamburger order.

The scene in Kansas City, Missouri got a little "burned" when the local McDonald's couldn't get this woman's  burger made to her liking. Employees estimate that she caused some $1,500 - $1,700 dollars in damage when she threw a bucket of water, wet floor signs, and cash registers at the counter clerk.

We as a society continue to downplay the teaching and expectation of self-control. Children are continually coddled and their behavior, no matter how damaging or destructive, is often thought of as "cute." We don't need studies or surveys to show that we are growing more violent as a society.

A December 1998 USA Today article stated: "News reports across the country reflect a growing trend among America's children--a willingness to commit violent acts. Teenagers and even younger kids are the perpetrators of an increasing number of vicious crimes, including incidents in which parents, classmates, and teachers have been murdered. The rest of the population find themselves shaking their heads and wondering, "What went wrong?"

"Growing up in America is risky business today," maintains Hill M. Walker, professor of special education, University of Oregon, Eugene, and co-director of the San Diego (Calif.) Center for Children's Tom and Julie Arnold Institute for Developmental Research. "It seems we've lost the ability to safely and effectively raise our children."

Angry people usually justify their anger, by blaming someone else. We constantly hear someone say, "You made me mad!" The truth of the matter is that no one can "make you mad", we choose to be angry because it makes us feel good. The Bible is replete with warnings about giving into anger when other people's behavior, words, or actions lead to our becoming angry. When we become angry, we are often focusing on our own welfare, comfort or happiness.

There is such a thing as righteous anger. And sometimes we need to talk about problems or deal with dangerous situations. (Even at these times, we must exercise self-control.) Yet most of the time, our anger is not righteous. As James wrote, "Man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires" (James 1:20).

Most of society rejects the bible as any kind of binding guideline for living. Apart from the working of the Holy Spirit most people will be unable to control themselves or even consider biblical admonitions as valid or viable. However, as believers we certainly need to be aware of our ability to become violently angry and our responsibility to maintain self control. We cannot turn the clock back on this Missouri woman who chose to ignore self-control and vent her anger over a botched burger. Allow me however, to share with you a few scriptural references on anger in order for each of us to chew on periodically:

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret-it leads only to evil (Psalm 37:8).

A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult (Proverbs 12:16).

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18).

A wise man fears the Lord and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless (Proverbs 14:16)

A quick-tempered man does foolish things, and a crafty man is hated (Proverbs 14:17).

A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly (Proverbs 14:29).

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Proverbs 15:1).

A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel (Proverbs 15:18).

Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city (Proverbs 16:32).

A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered (Proverbs 17:27).

It is to a man's honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel (Proverbs 20:3).

Do not say, "I'll pay you back for this wrong!" Wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you (Proverbs 20:22).

Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control (Proverbs 25:28).

Mockers stir up a city, but wise men turn away anger (Proverbs 29:8).

A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control (Proverbs 29:11).

An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins (Proverbs 29:22).

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, "Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment." But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment ... first go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift (Matthew 5:21-24).

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions (Galatians 5:19-20).

"In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:26-7).

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:29-32).

Let your gentleness be evident to all (Philippians 4:5).

But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips (Colossians 3:8).

And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful (2 Timothy 2:24).
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires (James 1:19-20).

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing (1 Peter 3:9).

Scripture passages taken from an article entilted "What God Says about Anger in the Bible"
(c) 2001 Doug Britton (Permission granted to print for personal use)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

5 Things to Avoid in 2010

If you feel like 2009 was a rough year, you are not alone. A good number of believers have experienced trials, tribulations, and testings this past 12 months. Much of what tried our fellow brothers and sisters could have been avoided by watching our heart more carefully. Please, I am not discounting the will of our sovereign God. Understanding and holding to the sovereignty of God does not relieve us of the responsibility that falls to us to do or not to do various things.

So, the first thing one would think of in order not repeat some of these tribulations, trials, and/or testings is make sure we avoid making our situation worse by making some common mistakes. In particular it might make a better year if we avoid the following:

1. Thinking more highly of ourselves than we should (Romans 12:3)

2. Setting our affections on things below (Colossians 3:2)

3. Bad company (I Corinthians 15:33)

4. Satisfying the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16-26)

5. Failing to vigilantly guarding the heart (Proverbs 4:23)

What say ye? What would you add to this list?

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Closed Door

“When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’” (Luke 13:25 ESV)

These are very disturbing words. I read these words this morning and they disturbed me. They are word of absoluteness and finality. We are only too aware of how short the time is before that great and final judgment of humanity. We who are believers know that our lives and sin have already been judged in Christ at Calvary. Yet, there are so many who will be shut out when that door is finally closed.

As patient as God has been, there is coming a day when His long-suffering will end. The “door” of mercy shall be closed forever. The throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16) will one day be replaced by the throne of judgment (Revelation 20:11) and multitudes will stand outside of grace.

We need to work while the day is yet day. The night is coming. It will soon be too dark to work the work of Christ. The banquet hall is being filled as we speak, but we cannot forget that one day, the master will close the door. This passage serves to remind us to have a right evaluation of the time – we need to constantly redeem the time.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”

I have been thinking of a theme for 2010 and had yet to settle on one. As I thought on this last night and this morning during my devotional time with the Lord, it came to me:

Holiness! Holiness will be my theme for 2010.

It is my prayer that during 2010 that by God’s grace and His effective working in my life that I would be made more holy in my practical daily living. I know that God looks at me through His unique and one-of-a-kind Son and sees me as He sees Him. In other words I am already convinced of my positional holiness in Christ. I simply know that my daily living can be further tuned for the glory of God and the good of His people.

2009 was a year of grace for me. I love grace. I thank God for grace. However, even I know that grace no matter how undeserved and no matter how freely given does not alleviate me from my responsibility to grow in holiness. “Be Holy for I am holy” is a command and not a suggestion.

The amazing thing is that as I respond to Christ’s command to be holy as He is holy, I am still swimming in the pool that is filled with grace. I have the unfathomable privilege of delighting in God. Psalms 37 even commands me to delight in God. I want to delight in the things that God delights in – and one of those things God delights in His holiness.

I am already convinced this will be an impossible journey through this new year if I depend upon my own resources to “be holy.” I am equally convinced that I need the endless supply of God’s grace to enable me to consistently be motivated to serve Him.

What is my plan? Well I have begun to assemble my “tools,” to re-read and meditate through again this year. For starters I am going to re-read:

Bryan Chappell’s Holiness by Grace

Jerry Bridges’ The Pursuit of Holiness

R. C. Sroul’s The Holiness of God

J. C. Ryle’s Holiness

I am also planning on conducting a bible-wide study during my devotions on the subject of holiness. If you have further suggestions of some good books on this subject please let me know what they are.
I don’t know what to expect as I prepare for this journey this year. I know that there is not a vaccine, formula, kit, liquid, gas, or any components that will automatically make me holy. Remember, I have read Bridge’s book before and I already know three areas that I will have to revisit and allow the Lord to take to my hear - the sharp edged sword of his Word deftly maneuvered by the hand of His Holy Spirit:

1. My attitude toward sin can be more self-centered than God-centered

2. At times I can misunderstand what it really means to “live by faith”

3. I fail at times to take some sin as seriously as I need to

So my prayer for 2010 will be:

“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus..” (Romans 6:11 ESV)