Sunday, February 28, 2010

John MacArthur - Commenting on the Emerging Church (Part II)

The Sunday Sound-Bite...

Gospel Driven Disciples introduces a new component: The Sunday Sound-Bite.

 These "selections" will be from various men of God commenting on various topics 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 second selection is from Dr. John MacArthur, Pastor of Grace Community Church in Panarama City, CA. MacArthur is discussing the critical issues involving the Emergent church movement.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Glorious Doctrine of Redemption!

"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 “The Wisdom of God Displayed in Salvation", in the Soli Deo Gloria title, Our Great and Glorious God.

“To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.” (Ephesians 3:10)

The glorious doctrine of the redemption of sinners by Jesus Christ was in a great measure hidden in the past ages of the world. It was a mystery that before they did not understand, but now it was in a glorious manner brought to light (vs. 3-5, 8-9).

What Christ had accomplished towards His church in the work of redemption had not only in a great measure unveiled the mystery to the church in this world, But God had more clearly and fully opened it to the understanding even of the angels themselves.

One end of revealing God’s counsels concerning the work of redemption is making know His wisdom. It is called “manifold wisdom” because of the manifold glorious ends that are attainted by it. Those to whom God would manifest His wisdom are called “principalities and powers in heavenly places,” distinguishing them form those who are in places of earthly power and dignity.

The display of the wisdom of God was especially made to the angels when Christ introduced the gospel dispensation, implied in those words, “to the intent that now…” When Christ died and performed the work of redemption – when He had revealed the counsels of God, and accordingly introduced the evangelical dispensation and erected the gospel church – then the angels understood more of the mystery of man’s redemption, and the manifold designs and counsels of divine wisdom, than every they had one before.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Leavened or Unleavened?

As unbelievable as it sounds, I am privileged to preach Sunday, March 7th, 2010 in the morning service of our fellowship. Our teaching Elder is privileged to go to the Shepherd’s Conference at Grace Church in Panorama City, CA.

March the 7th happens to be the first Sunday of the month which is when our fellowship chooses to celebrate the Lord’s Table. Not only will I give the morning exhortation following the reading of an apostle’s memoirs, (II Peter 3:14-18), I am privileged to lead in the obserance and celebration of the Lord’s Table.

Having studied the Lord’s Table numerous times and in depth, I have come to the conviction that the bread does not have to be leavened. It can be leavened or unleavened as we Gentiles participate and celebrate this memorial ordinance.

I am curious as to what you think about this idea. Should the bread, which represents the body of our Lord Jesus Christ which was offered as the propitiatory sacrifice be leavened or unleavened? Why? Please share a sentence or two for your reasoning, rationale, conviction, or belief. Thanks, I always love to learn new things!

What Say Ye?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wine or Grape Juice?

Did You Know…?

…that wine was served in the communion service in almost every service? Regardless of denomination and beliefs concerning alcohol, wine was utilized in almost all of the denominational church services. There were some crude methods to prepare unfermented wine (juice) for use at any time during the year, e.g. to reconstitute concentrated grape juice, or to boil raisins, or to add preservatives that prevent juice from fermenting and souring.

What changed that? Why do most churches service grape juice as the element that represents the blood of Jesus which He willingly shed for the forgiveness of sins?

A Methodist Deacon who strongly opposed the "manufacturing, buying, selling, or using intoxicating liquors" as part of his commitment to the Wesleyan Methodist Connexion discovered a process to “perfect” the unfermenting process of wine.

In 1869, this Methodist Deacon turned Dentist, discovered a process of pasteurizing grape juice so that fermentation was stopped, and the drink was non-alcoholic. He persuaded local churches to adopt this non-alcoholic "wine" for communion services.

Who was this inventor who introduced grape juice in the communion services of the local church? What did he originally call his newly discovered pasturized grape juice? What do we call it now?

Well his name was Dr. Thomas Bramwell Welch. He called his new concoction, Dr. Welch’s Unfermented Wine. We know it today as Welch’s Grape Juice.

Now you know!

Does your church serve wine or grape juice?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Beauty of Faithfulness!

What Is Your Favorite Hymn?

As part of my devotion, I have a list of attributes of God that I praise and thank God for. King David once remarked that among the things he truly desired was to behold, to see and perceive from experience, the beauty of the LORD. (Psalms 27:4) I desire in the same manner to see the beauty of my God in order to value him more, in order to appreciate him more, in order to adore him more, and in order to worship him as he deserves.

We know that the LORD, our God is a Spirit. The body parts that are said to belong to God are anthropomorphic imagery to help us understand. We also know that God dwells in the incarnate Christ. So, if God is a Spirit and we can not see God, how can we see his beauty?

We see his beauty in his attributes. In those inherent characteristics and qualities of God we are able to see and to worship His beauty. As we learn more and more about God's character and nature the more we are able to understand him. The more that we understand those characteristics the more we come to adore, admire, and appreciate him!

As I was saying, part of my morning devotion is to see and savor those beautiful inherent characteristics of God. I take my list and look at Scripture that highlights a particular attribute. I then give thanks for God for that attribute and I praise him for it as I contemplate it. Then I look to my hymnal for a hymn that characterizes that attribute and I sing it to the Lord as worship and praise.

This morning’s attribute was God’s faithfulness. Among many scriptures that reflect this attribute I was led to Psalms 25:10; “All the paths of the LORD are steadfast and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.” (ESV)

The hymn that I was led to has become my favorite hymn, “How Firm a Foundation.” Can you see how beautiful the faithfulness of God is in the words of this hymn?

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in his excellent word!
What more can he say than to you he hath said,
to you that for refuge to Jesus have fled?

"Fear not, I am with thee; O be not dismayed!
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

"When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
the rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
for I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

"When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
my grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
the flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

"The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
that soul, though all hell shall endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no, never, no, never forsake."

What is your favorite hymn?

Why is it your favorite hymn?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What Would You Like To Have Taught?

Can you help a brother out?

I am in the process of putting together both a preaching plan and a small group bible study plan for next year. I like to determine, by God’s grace and leading of the Holy Spirit what I am going to teach in order to plan and prepare properly.

Knowing what I will be studying enables me to listen to folks around me to see how I can draw application and benefit to them. It helps me to collect illustrations, read reference material and dig deep into helpful material. Then when the time comes I do the “trench work” of Greek study, historical study, and the contextual study.

So, an idea hit me. No, it wasn’t that I needed a V8 fruit drink, but close. I thought I would ask you what you would like to have taught in a small group study. What subject, topic, book, or theological concept would you pick to be taught if you had the opportunity? Are there theological concepts that you are still grappling with? Are there passages that you haven’t made sense of yet? Or, this is always tricky, what do you think people need to hear?

If you would be so kind, share with us what you would choose if you could and then a couple of sentences as to why. There has been too many times in the past where I have thought I knew what was needed and in reality something else might have been closer to what the doctor ordered.

So, don’t be shy, step right up!

Monday, February 22, 2010

What is on Your Nightstand?

I was reading a post from Lisa’s blog called Lisa Writes…confessions and conundrums of an ordinary wife and mom. Her post asked this question, what is on your nightstand?

Unfortunately my nightstand is a little messy; it is full of books and papers I need to read or in the process of reading. Let’s see what is there:

The Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin

The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul

Living for God’s Glory by Joel Beeke

ESV Thin line Bible

At least twelve (12) multi-page studies on John 3:16 (for when I get to John 3 next month)

Bottle of Tums

Printed pages of yesterday’s post from Expository Thoughts entitled, "Preaching NT Narrative: Don't Flatten Out the Gospels!

Fudge Bar wrapper and empty stick (Yes, I will throw it away before the wife gets home)

Half-full plastic bottle of water

I guess that is it.

So, your turn, what is on your nightstand, coffee table, or end table?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Take From Old Abe...

Courtesy of Eddie Eddings and Calvinistic Cartoons. Thank you Eddie Eddings!

John MacArthur - Commenting on the Emerging Church (Part I)

The Sunday Sound-Bite...

Gospel Driven Disciples introduces a new component: The Sunday Sound-Bite.

These "selections" will be from various men of God commenting on various topics 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 first selection is from Dr. John MacArthur, Pastor of Grace Community Church in Panarama City, CA. MacArthur is discussing the critical issues involving the Emergent church movement, as he comments on sound bites from Brian McLaren.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Beloved!

"Wonderful Things Done by Which Salvation is Procured"

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 Wisdom of God Displayed in Salvation", in the Soli Deo Gloria title, Our Great and Glorious God.

“…accepted in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6)

Consider the choice of the person to be our Redeemer. God’s 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 (Isaiah 42:1). The wisdom of choosing this person appears in His being in every way a fit person for this undertaking. It was necessary that He should be a divine person. It was requisite that the Redeemer of sinners should Himself be infinitely holy. None could take away the infinite evil of sin, but one who was infinitely far from and contrary to sin Himself. Christ is a fit person upon that account.

It was requisite that the person, in order to be sufficient for this undertaking, should be one of infinite dignity and worthiness so that He might be capable of meriting infinite blessings. It was necessary that He should be a person of infinite wisdom and power; for this work is so difficult that it requires such a one. 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 Fathers love to Him might balance the offense and provocation by our sins. Therefore He is called “the Beloved.”

Friday, February 19, 2010

Happy First Birthday!

The Gospel Driven Disciples celebrates its first birthday!

Gospel Driven Disciples turns one year old today!

I can not believe that I have been blogging for one year.

I had been assigned to complete a week as manager relief in a branch in Bend, Oregon. It was late in the evening after a fast food dinner in my motel room that I started surfing the net. I made a decision to surf the Desiring God website. I came across what turned out to be a blog by Andy Piper listing six (6) reasons why pastors should blog.

Up until that moment I had barely heard the terms blog, blogging, or blogosphere. I really didn’t know what a blog was or what it was all about. However, as I read his reasons, I thought to myself, “I am a pastor and these are great reasons, so what the hey, why not.” At that moment, on a cold and gray February evening in a Motel Six motel room another little baby blog was born, in the ghetto. Oops that is another story.

The name The Gospel Driven Disciples was chosen as a reaction against Rick Warren and The Purpose Driven Life mania that swept the world. Theologically there was a lot to be desired with his "premise" and its ramifications. As I thought on this I realized we are not purpose driven, since any purpose is secondary to our original purpose of magnifying the glory of God and enjoying Him forever - which is the essence of the gospel, hence we are to be Gospel Driven Disciples.

It has taken some time to baby this blog along. I am still figuring out gadgets and accessories to my site. I have tried to make it attractive, easy to use and read, and beneficial. The goal of this blog is three fold, to magnify the character and nature of our sovereign God; to fulfill my life’s commitment found in Colossians 1:28-29; and to be a blessing to you.

 Eternity will one day reveal whether I have succeeded at the first two and only your much desired, welcomed, and needed comments will reveal if I have succeeded at the third goal.

To those who have become followersthank you so very, very much!

To those who leave comments, I am greatly encouraged!

To those who read this blog, I am greatly humbled and moved that you would do so.

Happy Birthday Gospel Driven Disciplesall the glory goes to the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Where Is Your Storm?

"He made the storm be still, and
  the waves of the sea were hushed."
(Psalms 107:29 ESV)

I can't imagine what it must have been like for the disciples as they fought to keep their boat upright and heading into the wind when that great storm overtook them. The Scriptures record for us that the boat was being "swamped." The Greek means the water had "covered" or "hidden" the boat. I can't imagine the amount of water that would have to come over the sides of that boat to "hide" it from view. Needless, to say, the boat was in danger of sinking and the disciples believed that they were in the process of dieing.

In their fear and panic the disciples turned to Jesus. Jesus rebuked, or he censured sharply, the winds and the sea. Then the Bible says, "there arose a great calm." Of course, the disciples marveled at such a man that could command the winds and the seas.

I would love to tell you when a storm begins to swamp your boat and that after a call to Jesus the storm turns to a great calm. In some cases that very well may happen. There is no doubt that our Lord can make the storm be still and the waves of the sea be hushed. He is after all the same today as He was yesterday!

More often than not, rather than calm the storm outside of your boat, He will calm the storm inside the boat. You are not to be anxious or worried about anything. In every situation, every need, every storm you are to make your needs known to Him. You are to pray, with thanksgiving, and let Him know your requests. Then the peace of God - the stilling of the storm, the hushing of the waves will by His peace guard or protect your hearts and minds. He will ride the raging storm out with you while giving you absolute peace.

The layoff will still be real, the foreclosure won't go away, or the cancer may still be eating away at your physical life, but God's peace rules your minds and your hearts. Someone once said, "Why pray when you can worry?" Dear one, where is your storm? Outside of the boat or inside the boat? Trust Him - He created the storm, it must obey Him.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What Made Such a lasting Impact?

Ron, from the Old Geezer’s Blogsite left a wonderful comment on one of my posts recently. He also asked a couple of questions and asked me to respond by email, which I did. He expressed his pleasure at the extent of my answer and suggested that I turn my response into a blog to benefit others. Since it was a great idea and suggestion, I acquiesce to my brother and here goes.

His question was:

Why do I think so many of the great preachers and teachers from the past made such a lasting impact on Christianity?

I think that there are a number of reasons and I would like to share at least three (3) that I feel may have contributed to their impact on Christianity.

First – the sovereignty of God.

This is in no way designed to be tongue-in-cheek or flippant. God is sovereign over all things at all times. The early church knew this and it was a great comfort to them. The church as a whole knew this and believed it largely through the early to mid-1800s. God in His sovereignty raised up men in each generation to be heralds of His redemptive plan.

These men were driven by the Holy Spirit to understand sin, holiness, purity, and the sovereignty of God. God raised up men like John Calvin, Martin Luther, William Gurnall, Jeremiah Burroughs, Thomas Watson, Thomas Manton and others to preach God’s sovereign plan in the redemption of His elect. They understood sin and its sinfulness. They understood the enmity and hostility that existed between God and man and the need for reconciliation. God purposed to use these men to “purify” and to “reform” the church that had become “lost” in humanism, mysticism, and confusion.

God continued in His sovereign plan and raised up men like Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, and John Wesley. As the church drifted and lost focus from the time of the Puritans through 1700’s, God worked a great awakening through the afore mentioned men.

Since each generation needs to be “shaken”, in the 1800’s God raised up men like Charles Spurgeon to once again sound the trumpet of warning against those who would forget God. Spurgeon preached as no man had preached pleading with men to renounced their sin, to repent, and to be reconciled to a sovereign God who would cast men into hell.

So, the sovereignty of God was worked out through God’s timing and purpose which worked a great impact on Christianity through various men God chose to bless and to use.

Second – their impact was greater than today due to the on going and final consummation of God’s plans.

Jesus asked a most haunting and riveting question in Luke 18:8; “…when the son of Man comes, (returns) will He find faith on earth?”

What a question! Why would He ask such a question? Unfortunately, each generation buys into the deluding lie of Satan due to being spiritually dead in sin and blind to any means of spiritual light.

Paul reminded the Corinthian believers that that natural or the unsaved man does not receive, or actually welcome spiritual things because they are spiritually discerned. (I Corinthians 2:12)

Romans 1 makes it clear that there is no one seeking God. Those who want to believe that sensitive seekers and develop seeker sensitive movements are merely and sadly deluded. Paul wrote very clearly, “…no one understands, no one seeks for God. All have turned aside (they have deviated, turned to the wrong way). John makes an equally poignant point when he wrote in John 3:19, “…men love darkness rather than light…”

Apart from God opening the heart as He did for Lydia (Acts 16:14) and God actively drawing a man (John 6:44) no one will desire to come to the Lord. As God works His plan to a consummation, there seems to be fewer and fewer of the elect to be saved.

Men will continue to decrease in holiness. The sovereignty of God including His sovereignty in salvation will be rejected. Satan has changed tactics and as men become more and more “enlightened” men will grow increasingly as haters of God. Read Paul’s warning to Timothy in his second letter to Timothy, chapter 3.

Godless messages and methods have developed to give men just enough truth to hook them while mixing that truth with the poison of lies and deception. The majority of the church no longer looks to God as the Redeemer through Jesus Christ alone. The church has grown bored with John 14:6 and its inclusiveness. The Emergent Church which is only a church in the since that it is a gathering of hellish ideas and doctrines, ideologies from liberalism, and Pelagius are wrecking havoc in the church, jarring it from its moorings in the sovereign holiness of God.

Since the mid 1800’s, Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism has ruled the day. The church began to teach that men could exercise “faith” and could choose to be saved or not. Satan introduced easy believism into the church where repentance from sin was redefined as merely changing your mind about intellectual facts rather than meaning a broken, humbled, grieving attitude over violating the standards of a holy, righteous, and sovereign God. Faith was redefined as a “sinner’s prayer” that once prayed was a good as "gold",  fire insurance escape plan from hell.

Becoming a disciple was redefined as no longer meaning one who, dies to self, picks up the cross as an instrument of death, and follows Christ to one who merely added “Jesus” to a selfish, narcistic and ego-centric lifestyle.

So, as the times work down to the end of this age, and as men wax even worse in their evil and wickedness their will be less and less of an impact in spiritual things. We are seeing the godless generation that Paul spoke of coming about. I think we will see more and more godlessness and less of a spiritual impact as Christ’s return draws near. Don’t get me wrong, God will save His elect, He made it clear through Peter that He is patient, not willing that any of the elect should perish, but that all of the elect will be saved. God is just as powerful and sovereign today as He was in the days of Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, Knox, Edwards, Whitfield, Wesley, and Spurgeon.

Third – I think the lessening of spiritual impact is due to ever increasing loss of bible expositors.

The Word of God is a holy and sacred thing. It is not to be handled carelessly nor is it to be trifled with. We have made the sacred mundane by racing toward a casualness of spiritual things. We have become too familiar with holy things.

The word of God (in the pulpit) is to be handled only by those who first, love it dearly, and second, who labor to discern its meaning. We have many pastors in fundamental-evangelical circles that first of all, are not even saved. Second, we have pastors in fundamental-evangelical circles that are not committed to sound hermeneutical principles of exegesis.

The men of the Reformation, of the great awakening, and men like Spurgeon, MacArthur, Piper, Sproul, Lawson, Keller, Carson, and Hendriksen knew and know that in order to make a spiritual impact on people God’s word must be handled accurately.

We are to preach the gospel to every creature in such a way that it brings no dishonor to God and to His Word. There is no guarantee, scripture, nor reason to believe that the gospel will be preached to every creature in this age. God will save His elect. Our job is not to “save” everyone by merely getting them to sign on the dotted line; our job is to be a witness to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and to His saving power.

So, in response to Ron’s second question, why does the church today “seem” to be failing even with computers, the internet, satellite, Television, and etc? The church is not failing. The church will never fail, the church will be triumphant.

The church is that entity that is being redeemed and called out by God, it is that entity that God is cleansing and purifying by His blood, the church is what he is going to return for. The church is alive! It is vibrant! It is triumphant! It is the apple of God’s eye!

Yes, admittedly individual denominations and individual churches are failing, and failing miserably. Local churches are merely a picture of the universal body of Christ. Do not judge the universal body of our Lord Jesus Christ by individual churches. Some are failing and should fail. Lies, yea, doctrines of demons ooze out of some these so called churches. But listen, rejoice, and be encouraged, God is on the Throne! God is sovereign! His perfect and glorious plan is being worked out both perfectly and right on time even as you read these words.

So, it seems that the appearance of a lack of spiritual impact today with all of the available technology can be seen as the sovereignty of God, the working toward the winding down of this age, and the lack of true biblical scholars.

This blog is merely my opinion. It doesn’t reflect Ron’s opinions or beliefs. There may be some “holes” in my theology; unfortunately without your help I can’t always see those “holes.” I have responded to a couple of great questions asked by my brother Ron of the Old Geezer Blogsite. All responses are welcome as long as they are well thought through and supported by sound principles of hermeneutical exegesis.

Praise God for interaction, discussion, and Christian brother and sisters!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Frog With the Wig

I updated my profile yesterday and this was the random question that I was given to answer.

Random Question:  The children are waiting! Please tell them the story about the bald frog with a wig.

Because, I am working on a blog idea suggested by Ron over at the Old Geezer Blogsite and since the children were waiting, I decided that I would tell this story about the bald frog with the wig and let it automatically post today. That way I can continue to work on Ron’s idea.

Please read the disclaimer at the bottom of the page before reading this story. 

Once upon a time there was a beautiful green frog with beautiful green hair. This young frog loved his long green hair. He washed his hair everyday and he combed his beautiful green hair several times a day. His beautiful green hair curled down around his ears, and it fell down around his little froggy face and it shined like it was the sun. He never got tired of looking at his hair in the mirror. This beautiful green frog loved to have people tell him how beautiful his beautiful green hair was.

One day, however, he did something he will never forget. Even though his mother frog told him never to play with matches, he did. He played with matches. Yes, children, he knew this was wrong and that he shouldn’t do it. He never thought about the bad consequences of disobeying his momma frog.

His mother was taking a nap after watching a rather exciting episode of Kermit the Frog and his daddy frog was sitting on the log near the old pond zapping flies with his long but lightening quick tongue. So, after looking around to make sure no one was looking, this naughty green frog with beautiful green hair found some matches in the Froggy Family Junk drawer.

As he was playing with those matches do you know what happened? Whoosh! The flame from one of the matches caught a froggy dish towel on fire. He panicked. He didn't know what to do. As he grabbed the towel to try and take it outside of the lily pad, flames fell off the towel on to, you guessed it, his beautiful green hair.

Well it burned his hair all off. Luckily he knew the stop, drop, and roll life saving procedure that had been taught at his local froggymentary school. So he did just that. He stopped right away, dropped to the ground, and rolled over and over until the fire was put out. Luckily, he didn't burn his face, or his ears, or his eyes, or his nose, or even his toes. He just burned his beautiful green froggy hair clean off his beautiful froggy head.

Well, do you know what happens when beautiful green froggy hair burns? You don't? It never grows back. He was now a bald beautiful green frog with no more beautiful green hair.

This is why he now wears a wig. Yep, he had to buy a beautiful green wig to cover up his sin of playing with matches. So, children, never play with matches around a beautiful green frog with beautiful green hair. If you catch his hair on fire it will never grow back and you will have to buy him a wig!

(This story was made up on the spot and it does not resemble any frog living or dead or any instance involving any frog now living or dead that had beautiful green hair that played with matches and burned off all of its beautiul green hair and had to buy a wig. Do not try this at home, this story is for entertainment purposes only and never invest money in beautiful green or even ugly frogs for the purposes of investment.

No frogs, green or otherwise, hairy or smooth were injured in the making of this story. This story is copyrighted by The Beautiful Green Frog With Beautiful Green Hair Foundation and the Gospel Driven Disciples, it is not for public broadcast on any NFL media unless full credit is given to the Gospel Driven Disciples with monetary consideration prior to any and all NFL lockouts.

 No frogs green or otherwise were compensated for this story and no material goods changed hands. Do not fold, spindle, or otherwise multilate any beautiful green frog, wigs, or Dolly Parton. (Dolly Parton appears as a courtesty of no one - I just like her duets with Porter Wagoner.

The Beautiful Green Frog with Beautiful Green Hair Foundation and the Gospel Driven Disciples are not responsbile for any harm that comes from the reading, enjoyment, or otherwise emotional response to this story.)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Man's Greatest Need...

“Man’s greatest need is forgiveness,” the pastor proposed as his main point of his message. Naturally the message centered on forgiveness that is given through and as a result of Christ’s sacrificial death. This point was thoroughly nailed down with excellent proof texts of God’s forgiveness of our sin via Christ Jesus.

When someone makes a statement such as, “Man’s greatest need is…,” is makes me sit up and listen. More importantly it makes me think. As I pondered this statement I began to wonder is that really man’s greatest need?

I think that forgiveness is an essential part in the redemptive process. I certainly would not downplay either, the need for forgiveness, and the fact that forgiveness for my sins was purchased by the price of the death of Jesus Christ. I am glad I can emphatically state that I have been, am now, and will always be forgiven of my sin and sins by the death of God’s unique, one-of-a-kind Son.

However, I think man’s greatest need is reconciliation. Since the majority of the redemptive process takes place instantly at the moment of the operative work of the Holy Spirit in our lives I don’t want to be perceived as merely splitting “theological” hairs.

Elwell’s Evangelical Dictionary of Theology defines reconciliation as, “…change of attitude or relationship.” In his, Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem indicates reconciliation is necessary in order “to overcome our separation from God.” Millard Erickson writes of reconciliation in his Christian Theology, “the death of Christ also brings to an end the enmity and estrangement which exits between God and mankind. Our hostility toward God is removed.”

The scripture makes it clear that we are in fact separated from God. As we are conceived and born into sin, we are absolutely at enmity, hostility, and separation from God. The attitude is mutual. It is hard to find stronger language in regards to God’s relationship to those who have not been reconciled to Him than in Psalms 5:5, “The boastful shall not stand before your eyes, you hate all evildoers.”

Romans 8:7 makes it clear that we who are separated from God “hate” God. Do not be mistaken, there is no such thing as a “sensitive-seeker.” Romans 1 makes it clear that since this great “separation” not one living human being seeks the God of the Bible. Prior to the reconciling work of God in our hearts because of the work of Christ and through the ministry of the Holy Spirit we are God-haters.

As we search the Scripture it becomes clear that we God’s attitude toward the unredeemed is hate, enmity, and hostility, we have absolutely no relationship with Him. So, it seems to me that we need to have the attitude of God changed towards us and a relationship reestablished with us. Hence, man’s greatest need is reconciliation. We need to have God think differently about us and to relate to us in a positive, beneficial, and loving manner.

Fortunately, forgiveness is part of the reconciliation process. God forgives the sinner who repents and turns to Him in faith. Thank God that our sin and sins are forever put away from us (and His memory) by His efficacious death.

You say, why do you think this is, first an important topic to take up your time to read, and second, why is it not simply splitting hairs? Let me tackle the first question which should answer the second question.

I think it is important to understand redemption thoroughly. Complete and accurate understanding of salvation would guard us from the multitude of mistakes and errors that attach themselves to the redemptive process.

First and foremost is the motive for salvation. Why does one want to be “redeemed” or “saved” in the first place? Those who peddle the gospel as a panacea for all of mankind’s ills present the gospel in this manner, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” Really? We know that ultimately God does make us His children and even joint heirs with His Son and that in eternity He intends to lavish His grace on us. We also know from Romans 8 that even in this life God intends to extend His grace on us.

As the initial means of motivating someone to “accept” the gospel, God’s loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life is lame. Tell that to the believers who were covered in tar and set on fire as Tiki Torches at Nero’s garden parties. Tell that to 11 of the 12 apostles who were killed for their witness. Tell that to the Fathers, husbands, and brothers who watched their wives, daughters, and sisters raped by Roman soldiers or by worse. Tell that to the believers in Hebrews 11:36-40.

When you motivate someone to “accept” the terms of redemption for what it will do for them is dangerous. We don’t need to come to Christ in order to become happy, fulfilled, successful, better spouses, better parents, or better business people.

We need reconciliation. We need God to change His attitude and His relationship towards us. Why? This is the only way to escape the condemnation, judgment, and wrath of God that already rests upon us. As long as I am spiritually dead, as long as enmity, hostility and separation from God exists I am doomed to an eternity of judgment and punishment.

Yes, reconciliation is our greatest need. The death of Jesus Christ met our greatest need by his sacrifice, by his act of propitiation, by reconciling us to God, and thereby redeeming us as He forgave our sins.

So, what is man’s greatest need? Reconciliation! How did Christ’s death accomplish this? He accomplished by suffering the penalty set by God for sin, by removing the wrath, condemnation, and judgment of God against us, by overcoming the attitude and separation from God, and by buying us out the market of sin.

Yes, reconciliation is man’s greatest need which results in the forgiveness of our sin. Yes, forgiveness of sin is man’s greatest need which is accomplished through the “process” of reconciliation.

What say ye?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

How Do You Pray?

How Do You Pray?

What characterizes your prayers particularly during a time of great temptation or trial?

After eating the Passover with His disciples and discoursing with them, Luke 22:39 states that Jesus left the upper room and went to the Mount of Olives. Luke is careful to include the little but powerful phrase, “as was His custom.” The Holy Spirit uses this word, “custom” some twelve (12) times in the New Testament. It carries the meaning of customer, manner, rite, or we would say habit.

This passage, verses 39-46, is pregnant with rich meaning and application. I will save some of its riches for later posts. Today, I am captivated by the example of Jesus as He prays to His Father prior to the most significant event in His earthly life; namely His impending death. As I examined His example I had to examine my own prayer “life.”

I discovered four (4) characteristics in Jesus’ example of prayer during this crucial moment. Without much distracting comment on these characteristics I wish to share them with you in the hopes that you will measure your custom of prayer against them. I discovered my prayer time was found to be wanting in the balance because I did not…

1) Pray regularly – Luke recorded, “as was His custom.”

Jesus made a habit of praying. It was part of His lifestyle. If I were honest, much of my prayer is “reactive” rather than “proactive.” I seem to be praying “catch-up.” Jesus made a habit of prayer.

2) Pray earnestly – Luke recorded, “…He prayed more earnestly.”

The more agony that Jesus experienced the more He intensely prayed. Guard against your prayers becoming routine, perfunctory, or wimpy. This sometimes happens on its own, the more desparte we think we are or have become, the more fervently we tend to pray. However, do you find that you are pray "earnestly" for deliverance or comfort rather than for the will of the Lord to be done?

3) Pray defensively – Luke recorded, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

Someone once said, “The trouble with fleeing temptation is that most of us leave a forwarding address.” We always want our pet temptations and sins to find us.

Notice two things: the first is that Jesus did not say pray that temptations would not come. They will come. As a matter of fact, James, His half brother makes it clear that temptation comes from inside of us as the residue of sin lures and entices us by our own desires. (James 1:14-15) Our internal desires lure and entice us to sin and when we give into them, desire gives birth to sin.

The second thing to notice, is that Jesus gave this as a command to the disciples not just once, but how many times? Twice! Jesus must have thought that this was important.

As part of our prayer time, we must pray for wisdom, discernment, and strength to resist temptation when it rears its ugly head from time to time when our internal desires attempt to entice and lure us into succumbing to sin. The devil did not make you do it! That is a foolish lie. Your mother didn’t make you do it, your spouse did not make you do it, nor did your siblings make you do it – you & I give into the enticement and luring of our own desires and succumb to temptation. Why is that?

Well, I think for at least two reasons. The first is that we didn’t pray defensively. In other words we didn’t pray for the wisdom to see temptation raise its ugly head, we failed to pray for discernment about resisting temptation, and we did pray defensively for the strength to withstand it. The second thing is that we love sin!

We hate the consequences of sin. We hate the way it make us feel, guilty. We hate the possibility of being chastised for our sin. We hate that we failed. We hate the fact that we failed those whom we love including God.
So, we are to pray defensively. We need to ask God regularly and earnestly to help us withstand and resist temptation when it comes. You are well aware that it will come!

4) Pray sacrificially – Luke recorded, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

How we want our own way. How often do we think we know better than God? More tragically, how many times do we want what we want rather than accept joyfully what God had designed for us? It is hard to be a disciple! It is hard to die to self and all that I want in order to have Christ. It is hard to become last in order to be first, to die in order to live, and to serve in order to be exalted. I must pray sacrificially – Father, this is what I ask of you, yet nevertheless, thy will be done and not my own will.

Well there you have it from Luke 22. Luke recorded four (4) characteristics of Jesus prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. He prayed regularly, earnestly, defensively, and sacrificially.

Please excuse me, I hear the Mount of Olives calling me to prayer.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Honor In Divine Wisdom

"When Glory Redounds to God as the Effect of Divine Wisdom"

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 Wisdom of God Displayed in Salvation, in the Soli Deo Gloria title, Our Great and Glorious God.”

“Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty.” (Psalm 24:8)

By this contrivance for our redemption, God’s greatest dishonor is made and occasion of His greatest glory. Sin is a thing by which God is greatly dishonored; the nature of its principle is enmity against God and contempt of Him. And dishonor, by the contrivance of our redemption, is made an occasion of the greatest manifestation of God’s glory that ever was.

Sin, the greatest evil, is made an occasion of the greatest good. It is the nature of a principle of sin that it seeks to dethrone God; but this is hereby made the greatest manifestation of God’s royal majesty and glory that ever was. By sin, man has slighted and despised God; but this is made an occasion of His appearing the more greatly honorable. Sin casts contempt of our redemption, is made the occasion of the greatest honor done to that same authority, and to that very law. It was a greater honor to the law of God that Christ was subject to it and obeyed it. It was a grater honor to God’s authority that Christ showed such great respect, and such entire subjection to it, than the perfect o obedience of all the angels in heaven.

By his sin man showed his enmity against the holiness of God; but his is made an occasion of the greatest manifestation of God’s holiness. The wisdom of God has contrived that those attributes are glorified in man’s salvation.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I'm In Charge - No, I am in Charge!

Who Is The Greatest?

In my morning devotions today I came to a very intriguing and yet disturbing passage in Luke. Luke 22:24 reads:

“A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.”

At a monumental and pivotal period of time the disciples are contending or strongly debating over who will take over when Jesus is gone. This word translated dispute or as in the A.V. strife, is used but one time in the New Testament. However, I think we can get the idea from this word that this was no small disagreement.

I do not know how they are feeling or what they are thinking about at this particular Passover that they are eating with Jesus. I do not want to be unfair to them, yet I feel very disturbed that they are already thinking of prominence, position, and even power.

Jesus is in essence telling them that He is going to be betrayed, put to death, and will leave them to carry on His mission. He has tried to instill and reinforce this message this entire week. This is a moment of sadness and concern, not a moment for self-promotion.

Jesus response, however, is classic. He does not truly scold them nor rebuke them. He compares them to kings of the Gentiles and others who are in positions of authority. He conveys the message that the disciples are not like and nor are they to be like these others. As a matter of fact Jesus encourages them to become like the youngest in a group and become like servants.

In other words, if you want to be considered great and you want to be a leader, become a servant. Jesus is instilling several principles at this point, and the most important principle is that leaders in His kingdom do not dispute and contend their way into prominence; they serve their way to greatness.

This is no secret to us today. We have several passages describing servant-leadership from Paul, Peter, and Jesus. (II Tim 3:1-7; Titus 1:5; I Peter 5:1-5)

The unfortunate truth seems to be that most leaders, secular or spiritual fail to heed those passages. How despicable and deceitful are our hearts. We “over-look” these passages because we, like the Pharisees, love “robes or clothing” of distinction, titles, honored seats, and lavish greetings in the market place. O, that God would deliver us from ourselves. As I meditated on this passage I came to see at least five (5) principles for our application today. Please allow me to share them with you:

1. Greatness is determined not by position or prominence but by attitude (humility) and action (service.)

2. Position, power, and prominence is not the goal for true believers but the recognition of faithfulness and effectiveness by the power of God

3. True, Spiritual, and Christ-like leadership is conveyed through the service and ministry to others

4. Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of servant-leadership which needs to be studied, emulated, and meditated upon.

5. Just as “membership has its rewards,” servant-leadership will have its rewards in the future life with Jesus Christ. There may be few “rewards” today as we serve in hostile, combative, and on foreign territory (earth.) Remember the war is won, we are the victors, and the time of peace continues to draw near.

What say ye?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Who Holds Your Hand?

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the LORD upholds him with His hand.”

(Psalm 37:23-24)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Goals For Biblical Teaching

The Epistle of James warns his readers, “not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.” (James 3:1-2 ESV)

Paul reminded the Ephesian believers, “…He gave the apostle, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ ,until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God…” (Ephesians 4:11-13 ESV)

My life goal, purpose, vision, and mission statement is wrapped up in Colossians 1:28-29, “Him we proclaim, warning 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.” (ESV)

Teachers are a gift from God to His body. Like any gift, it (teaching) must be appreciated, cherished, and protected. It must be protected from abuse, carelessness, and disrespect. Allow me to share at least seven goals for biblical teaching. Biblical teaching is…

1. …to cultivate in believer’s a love for the Word of God

2. …to encourage daily reading & study of the Word of God

3. …to familiarize believers with the Word of God in order to deepen their knowledge and understanding of both the Word of God and God Himself

4. …to cultivate believers to think biblically in order to aptly and appropriately apply the Word of God to everyday situations in their life

5. …to enable believers to utilize the Word of God in order to promote holiness, maturity as believers put to death sin and sinful attitudes and actions.

6. …to demonstrate to believers the surety of what they have placed their faith, hope, and trust in as historical, accurate, and reliable.

7. …to honor, worship, and otherwise give what is due to God as the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God who is worthy of honor, glory, and worship for ever and ever.

Amen? Amen!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

We are Fading Flowers!

Food For Spiritual Focus

Think heavily on the flower of the grass!

• It sprouts

• It blossoms

• It withers

It dies!

“Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower fails and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst (in the very act) of his pursuits.”

( James 1:9-11 ESV)

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Value of Trials

At a pastor’s conference I attended several years ago, I was introduced to a fellow pastor. He was introduced to me as “James such and such.” I made the “mistake” of asking him if he went by James, Jim, or Jimmy. I simply wanted to acknowledge him in the manner that he preferred. His reply was a somewhat gracious but terse, “Have you ever heard of the Apostle Jimmy?” Of course he meant that he wanted to be known as James. And he was!

I said that so I could segway into the fact that our Apostle James makes this startling remark in what we call the first chapter, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds...” (James 1:2a ESV)

Please note three distinct statements in this phrase. The first distinct statement is that we are to count, consider, think, over even esteem our trials as joyful. James is pointing to the attitude that is called for when we experience trials. Grammatically his choice of tense of this verb points to "an urgency." Also, it seems that James’ choice of tense indicates that we are, as a definite act, to adopt this attitude in relationship to trials.

The second distinct statement we see in this phrase is contained in the word joy. The believers that James was writing to were to regard their testing as grounds for pure joy. Really, it would read “all joy.” In other words, our attitude is to be “all joy account it.” Now, lest anyone were to misunderstand, our suffering is not the reason for our joy, but it means that when suffering through trials of various kinds occurs our attitude toward them is that of all joy.

The third distinct statement that we see in this phrase is the description of trials of various kinds. We will encounter a variety of difficulties associated with everyday living. Trials come at us from the inside and from the outside.

The conclusion is that we as the children of God are to have made at some point in our life a decision based on a definite act that we have determined that trials are a reason for us to experienced all joy. They are not to give us reasons for anxiety, depression, fear, anger, or disbelief.

How can this be possible? How can we consider trials as a basis of all joy? What would keep us from developing “normal” reactions to the trials in our lives?

Well I am glad you asked. So, let me give you a list of what I have discovered with the prayer that it may be both a blessing and a help to you, God’s Gospel Driven Disciples”

The reason that we should consider our trials as means of all joy is that trials…

1. …test the strength or maturity of my faith. Is my faith weak ?

Is it developing or ripening? Does God want to increase my faith? Where is my faith, or more to the point, what have I put my faith in?

2. …humble me.

My heart is filled with pride. Most of the time I don’t even see my pride. Usually it is because I may be busy trying to remove a little speck of something from your eye, that I fail to see the log in my eye. God hates pride and we are such proud people.

3. …wean me from worldly things.

God has given us so many gifts in this world that we could never catalog them. Rather than give God glory, thanks, and worship for all His gifts, we have a tendency to love them more than Him. We usually prefer the gifts rather than the giver. Periodically God finds ways of showing us that we love the things in this world more than we love Him.

4. …call me to an eternal hope.

Trials remind me that this world is temporary and that everything in it is temporary. My home and my hope is in heaven. I focus is to be on eternal things. Paul reminded the Colossians to focus on things above and not on things below. Trials can cause us to long for “home.” They cause us to trust our eternal hope.

5. …reveal what I really love.

This is somewhat related to number 3. However, when we face the loss of a job, a title, or position, or the loss of a home, we soon discover how much we really “love our things.” A house is just lumber and mortar. It does not provide eternal security nor define us as who we are.

6. …teach me to value God’s blessings.

When God does end the trial and the suffering subsides, I can value the blessings of God. I am able to see His gifts and blessings as unmerited grace towards me.

7. …enable me to help or comfort someone else.

Eventually the trial ends and the purpose plays out. As God has comforted me I am then able to be a blessing and comfort to someone who is experiencing some similar to what I just went through.

Well, there you have it, a short list of why we are to value trials. I hope this list helps. I would love to see your reasons why we are to value trials. Leave a comment and a suggestion, it could be just what I need to hear today! God Bles you!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Occupy Till I Come Part III

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 III) - This is the third and final point in Mr. Ryle's great message.

III. The third and last question I wish to consider, is this: What is the present duty of all Christ's professing disciples?

When I speak of present duty, I mean, of course, their duty between the period of Christ's first and Second Advent. And I find an answer in the words of the nobleman, in the parable, to his servants: he "delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come."

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Of Milk and Meat

"The Importance of Divine Truth"

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 Importance and Advantage of a Thorough Knowledge of Divine Truth, in the Soli Deo Gloria title, To All the Saints of God.

"For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need for milk, and not of strong meat." (Hebrews 5:12)

"For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food..." (Hebrews 5:12 ESV)

Be assiduous in reading the Holy Scriptures. This is the fountain whence all knowledge in divinity must be derived. Every man of common understanding who can read may, if he pleases, become well acquainted with the Scriptures. Do not content yourselves with only a cursory reading, without regarding the sense. When you read, observe what you read. Take notice of the drift of the discourse and compare Scripture with Scripture.

Procure and diligently use other books which may help you grow in this knowledge. There are many excellent books which might forward you in this knowledge and afford you much profit. Improve conversation with others to this end. How much might persons improve each other’s knowledge in divine things if they would communicate without pride and ostentation?

Do not seek to grow in knowledge chiefly for the sake of applause, and to enable you to dispute with others; but seek it for the benefit of your souls, and in order to practice it. Seek that God would direct and bless you in your pursuit after knowledge. This is the direction of James 1:5. God is the fountain of knowledge (Proverbs 2:6).

Practice according to what knowledge you have. This will be a way to know more. The Psalmist recommends this in Psalm 119:100. Christ also recommends the same in John 7:17.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Twenty Third Channel

Since today is “Free & Frivolous Friday” I thought I would share with you a real “blast from the past.” I found this yesterday in an old file that I was going through. Let me say three things if I may:

1) I am not an enemy of T. V. I believe it is like anything else that God has given us; it has an on and off switch and is to be used with both discretion and moderation.

2) I realize this is “out-dated.” It has been around awhile, but we could up date it to include cell-phones, texting, video/electronic games, and etc.

3) Please, resist the temptation to send nasty emails thinking I am the evangelist to get rid of TV’s. I assure you, I am not. I love my Frasier, Burn Notice, CSI, and football like everyone else. I welcome any and all opportunities to interact in regards to any posting, I have posted this for fun, and for all of us to simply take a look at what could be a hindrance to spiritual growth.

The T. V. Set is my shepherd. My spiritual growth shall want.

It maketh me to sit down and do nothing for His name’s sake, because it requireth all my spare time. It keepeth me from doing my duty as a Christian; because it presenteth so many good shows that I must see.

It restoreth my knowledge of things of the world, and keepeth me from the study of God’s Word. It leadeth me in the paths of failing to attend worship services, and doing nothing in the Kingdom of God.

Yea, though I live to be a hundred, I shall keep on viewing my T.V., as long as it will work, for it is my closest companion. Its sounds and its picture, they comfort me.

It presenteth entertainment before me, and keepeth me from doing important things with my family. It fills my head with ideas which differ from those set forth in the Word of God.

Surely, no good thing will come of my life, because my T. V. offereth me no good time to do the will of God; thus I will dwell in spiritual poverty all the days of my life.

Seattle, WA

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Greed, Gullibility, & God?

One of the more chilling statistics that I have been reading lately is that of the growing number of so called converts to the prosperity gospel in developing nations. It seems that the US has become successful at exporting the rank heresy of the prosperity gospel. It is unfortunate that this “brand” of American Christianity is growing in exponential proportions.

It is seems that the widespread acceptance of the message of the prosperity hawkers is the universal reality of human greed. The same sin nature that permeates US “Christians” is present in every human being around the world. It is easy to tap into that greed. It doesn’t matter whether someone simply thinks that they are entitled to a little or that they want the “whole enchilada” of Maseratis, Mansions, and Millions.

It is not greed alone that makes for the success of this miserable message. The prosperity gospel is packaged with God and the Bible, the message becomes heaven sent. The following quote sheds valuable light on why the message is so accepted in developing countries:

“Ironically, the prosperity gospel has found its most fertile ground in developing nations, where conspicuous and bloated consumption is the least realistic. Poorer nations are more susceptible to this lie not out of greed per se, but because of its inherent germ of truth: God does want us to be prosperous. God’s emphasis, however, is on us, not just me. Probably the most quoted Bible verse among Evangelical Christians is John 3:16. It says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son…” God’s heart is for the entire world, not just for me, my family, or my country. In other words, prosperity achieved through social justice is the theological corrective to the prosperity gospel.”

Another frightening report states:

“According to a Pew survey cited by Rosin, a whopping 73 percent of Latinos in America agree with the statement, "God will grant financial success to all believers who have enough faith" making the success of churches like Casa del Padre almost assured.”

The solution is not easy nor is it very palatable. The bible tells clearly that in the latter days, false teachers and false teaching will multiply prolifically. The solution seems to include both, faithfully preaching the word as accurately as possible and second, to trust God to deal with this putrid infection in his timing. These false teachers will be judged! The despair, damage, and destruction caused by their inward burning of lust and greed will be devastating. In the mean time we need to keep this message from Paul in mind:

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.

Avoid such people…continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed…preach the Word…reprove and rebuke and exhort…for the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears the will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (II Tim 3:1-5, 14, 4:1, 3, 4 ESV)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Book Review: Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts, Third Edition

That is some title but it is some book! This latest edition from Thomas Nelson publishers has combined the introductory information of each book of the bible in the manner of a Bible Hand-Book along with reproducible maps and charts from both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

These maps and charts are in full color, nicely detailed with informative background information, including history, dates, details, and places. This is a very attractive and well laid out reference tool. It is very easy to use; anyone from a new believer to a seasoned pastor can supplement lessons, sermons, or private devotions.

All of the maps and charts can be freely copied for private use. The charts and maps are easily downloadable into PDF formats in order to be printed and copied as handouts in classes or small groups. I found the book to be very informative, very easy to use, and was highly impressed with the high quality, the color, and the annotated maps.

I have found one difficulty at this point. I tried to “copy” some of the downloadable PDF maps in order to paste into my PowerPoint application and ran into some trouble. The map itself, presumably the background, copied and pasted with no problem, but the detailed annotations would not copy and paste onto the PowerPoint slide. That left me with a blank map on my slide.

I believe I will make constant use of this book of bible maps and charts. I believe that you too will find it to be a valuable addition to your reference collection; this is one reference book you will use regularly.

I have received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for this review.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Book Review: Holiness by Grace, Bryan Chapell

 by Bryan Chapell

The subtitle of this book is “Delighting in the Joy that Is Our Strength.” This is an apt description of the design of Dr. Chapell’s book. I realize this book was published in 2001 but I have been late coming to it. I was made aware of it last year, but was recently able to actually get to and read it. I am glad I did. As a result, I want to make a simple recommendation to others who might be late in coming across it.

Holiness by Grace is about our response and responsibility to God’s command to His children to, “Be holy, because I am holy.” Chapell comments, “Without Christ we would hear this command and shudder. How can God expect us to be holy as he is? Isn’t it unrealistic, since he is infinitely pure and we are clearly imperfect?

He then begins with an introduction that resonates with honesty, transparency, and the recognition of just how difficult it is to be holy. Particularly if one is trying to be holy in one’s own energy or system of “works.”

Chapell recounts a service where a young preacher quoted those words from Leviticus with what he calls “such fervor” that Chapell had little doubt that the preacher expected those in the congregation to be obedient to them. What I appreciated because it was a snap shot of reality was his thoughts as he heard this imperative but surveyed those around him. He recounts:

• two sisters one the front row recently divorced and one had turned to sinful relationships and the other to the numbness of alcohol in order to cope

• a successful business man and elder who had recently ousted the last pastor

• a young mother who was trying to manage two out of control preschoolers

• a teen-ager who sat at the opposite end of the pew in order to make a statement to his feelings about his family

• a Seminary professor who had been moody to his family for days

His thoughts jarred him into the realization that “there was not a sinless person among us.” This book asks and answers the question “does God really expect us to be holy as he is holy?” Through 10 chapters he takes us on this journey of recognizing that we can’t do this in our own strength but demonstrates that God has made a way.

Holiness by Grace is a 243 page practical step by step guide in how to abandon self efforts and ideas of holiness and the adoption of the grace of God as God uses means to produce holiness within us. Dr. Chapell in a very down to earth, man in the pew manner demonstrates how the grace of God and the joy of the Lord join hand in hand in producing holiness.

At the end of the book there is a “workbook” of discussion questions on each chapter to help the reader go deeper. This is not only a great book, but a very needed book. As a Pastor (w/o a charge), man, husband, and a father, I heartily recommend this you all who are believers. I plan to read and re-read this book many times as I realize that God is serious about holiness even in this life.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Today in Christian History!

Did You Know?

I was nosing around today out of boredom and discovered some interesting things that have taken place on this day in history. I thought you might find them interesting, thought provoking, or otherwise inspiring.

1750 Anglican clergyman and hymnwriter John Newton (author of "Amazing Grace"), 24, wedded Mary Catlett. Their marriage lasted 40 years, before her death in 1790. John lived another 17 years, and died in 1807.

1791 English founder of Methodism John Wesley wrote in a letter: 'Probably I should not be able to do so much did not many of you assist me by your prayers.'

1803 Anglican missionary to Persia, Henry Martyn wrote in his journal: 'Oh, that I may learn my utter helplessness without Thee, and so by deep humiliation be qualified for greater usefulness.'

1949 The modern state of Israel formally annexed West Jerusalem.

1901 Pioneer American missionaries Charles (37) and Lettie (31) Cowman set sail for Japan. Later in the year they founded the Oriental Missionary Society. They labored in the foreign field until Charles' worsening health forced them to retire in 1917.