Saturday, July 31, 2010

I Quit!

Vampire novelist Anne Rice says that she is no longer a Christian. What does that mean? For starters one does not wake up one day and decide that they are no longer a Christian any more than one wakes up and “decides” that one is a Christian. Nor can one decide that one is no longer a part of “Christianity.”

Apparently Rice made this announcement on her Facebook page on Wednesday, July 28, 2010. She stated, “In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. In the name of … Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.”

I would be the first to say that believers are being sadly mislead and side-tracked by right wing political activists. Christianity is being given a bad name by politicians, platforms, and platitudes that have been “baptized” by a type of Christianity that is not biblical. 

Most of us remember the so called Moral Majority led by the late Jerry Falwell. Believers were made to feel as if they were not in the “fold” if they did not actively, forcibly, and vocally take up the favorite or “anointed” causes of religious leaders. Soon God was joined to so many causes and paraded around on so many platforms that even He might have gotten dizzy, that is if the Almighty can get dizzy.

Anne Rice’s mistake is that she obviously does not know the meaning of Christianity. Christianity is not a political party of platform. Christianity is certainly not a club or sorority that you can tender your membership with or without written notice. Unfortunately, the majority of the world whether moral or not, does not know what it means to be a Christian.

The word Christian means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. It actually was a term given to the disciples, or those who followed the “way.” The term began as a term of derision. The term Christian is first used in Acts 11:26. The disciples were called “Christians” in the city of Antioch. The term began to gain usage and by the time of Nero it was commonly recognized. The Greek word is “christianos” and it means a follower of Christ. The word is derived from the Greek word Christos which means “the anointed one.” 

Christian was not a self-designation, in other words it did not originate with the believers themselves. The term came from the pagans of the day. Over time it came to be accepted terminology in the church itself for those who were adherents or followers of Jesus Christ. By the way, Christians are not “Christians” because they follow Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, or a denomination.

Rice says she is no longer part of any denomination. Formerly she had been Roman Catholic. Rice is right in seeing things like politics, platforms, and problems as things that are not part of biblical Christianity. She is wrong, dead wrong, on understanding what Christianity is and what being a follower of Christ means.

Christianity is not a denomination, a church, a group, philosophy, or ideology. Christianity means understanding and accepting all that Jesus Christ is as delineated in the Scriptures. Christianity is following Christ. Following Christ is forsaking this world and all that is in it while being faithfully obedient to the commandments, standards, and teachings of Christ.

Christianity includes recognizing oneself as a depraved sinner under the condemnation of God and justly deserving of punishment. Christianity includes repentance and turning to God through Christ by trusting in the atoning work of Christ on the cross of Christ.

So, Anne Rice, you cannot leave Christianity. You cannot quit Christianity nor can you quit being a Christian. You can quit a church, a denomination, a philosophy, and even a political agenda, but you cannot quit Christ.

Now, if you deny Christ be prepared, Christ said He will deny you (Matthew 10:33). You cannot deny Christianity without denying Christ. John told the churches of Asia that a number of disciples had left “Christianity”:

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” (I John 2:19, ESV)

Be careful Anne Rice, rethink this decision, and repent. Turn to Christ and be saved today while it is still today. Do not return to your former denomination which is a counterfeit Christianity but turn to Christ and become a Christian, a follower or adherent of Jesus Christ.

Friday, July 30, 2010

I Know What It is Like!

When I was in the Marine Corps I was ordered overseas to Okinawa, Japan, and the Philippines. I was a Lance Corporal, an E-3 making little over 300.00 a month before taxes (1973.) When I completed my tour of duty I was ordered to VMA-311 an A4E Light Attack Squadron stationed at Beaufort Air Station, Beaufort, South Carolina.
Among the many things that happened to us in that move, me from Iwakuni Japan and Irene and my daughter from California was that good old Uncle Sam lost my SRB-Service Record Book. An SRB is kind of like a birth certificate that states you were a live birth. Conversely, without an SRB in the military you don’t “exist.” With the temporary misplacement of my SRB came the loss of a pay check. Yes, good old Uncle Sam stopped paying me until this little “problem” could be worked out.

Irene and I had rented a beautiful little country farm house on a civil war battle site. It was storybook, just like the movies. As a matter of fact if you took one look at the place you crook your neck and look around for Scarlet O’Hara, or Ashley Wilkes or maybe the Tarleton Twins. It was an old but cute farm house, painted white with a large front porch with a swing nestled amongst the weeping willow trees.

The house came with a landlord. He was a great gentleman who served in World War I and became a tortured POW. He grew up through the depression era where a man’s word was his bond and you paid your bills. He had great stories, was a great man, but was no-nonsense. When the rent and utilities were due they were due, no excuses.

Mind you I am trying to get set up after moving my wife and daughter from California and me from Japan. The Marine Corps had “misplaced” my SRB and I wasn’t being paid. One month we were able to pay the rent but couldn’t pay the additional $18.00 electric bill. Since the landlord supplied the electricity to the house with a meter, he cut off the electricity to my little family. My protests and explanations fell on death ears, a bill was a bill, and by golly if he paid his bills on time I should pay mine on time.

Well, to make this short I found a job where I could dig an irrigation ditch for $25.00. After duty for Uncle Sam, in nearly 100 degree heat and high South Carolina humidity I dug a ditch to pay for that shut off electricity.

A dear brother and his family which includes small children need your help. His water has been shut off. He is a self-employed family man who has been wiped out by the local California economy. A good friend of his asked for prayer for this brother. Well, we can pray, but I already know we are the answer – if you are able, read yesterday’s post entitled, “Can You Help?” Then, as your decide in your heart what you can give in accordance with your means cheerfully and willingly, send your check to Bryan Abeling, 9310 NE 79th Court, Vancouver, WA 98662 and Bryan will get the funds to this dear family. If you can’t help or are busy helping others already, praise God! No problem!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Can You Help?

When the members of the Jerusalem Church were experiencing very difficult economic times, the Apostle Paul organized the churches of Asia, Macedonia, and particular the Corinthian Church to give a special offering to assist those dear saints who were struggling in Jerusalem. Don't forget Paul tells the Corinthians as he is giving instructions for them to make this special offering ready that the Macedonians are experiencing a severe test of affliction (II Cor 8:1) yet have an abundance of joy to give out of their extreme poverty generously.

From this need and Paul's "collection" we glean several points:
  • God allows tremendous economic hardships to try and refine our faith
  • God rarely reaches down and grabs one of his cows on one of his thousand hills and takes it to auction or the slaughterhouse to meet our needs (he uses people like me and you)
  • God uses people just like you and me as he moves on our heart to help the saints
  • In II Corinthians 8 and 9 we are given the guidelines for giving to special needs:
  1. We are to give according to our means, but not above nor beyond
  2. If you give sparingly then you will also yourself reap sparingly
  3. We are to give the amount we determine in our own mind (not someone else's)
  4. We are to give willingly and under no compulsion of any kind (no emotional manipulation)
  5. We are to give cheerfully and joyfully
  6. We are give believing that God who lays on our heart to give will take care of us also
Now, we all have an opportunity to share in the needs of a family who needs us. Yes, I know that all of us know people in this position. God laid it on my heart to provide this opportunity for you at this time.

A dear friend of mine from the Living Water Community Church in Vancouver posted today on Facebook that a friend of his in California with small children has had their water shut off and have no money. Their own church can't help as they too have been wiped out by the local economy.

I have already written a check. If God lays on your heart to help - mail your check to Bryan Abeling, 9210 NE 79th Court,Vancouver, WA 98662 and Bryan will see that his friend receives the offering.

If God does not lay it on your heart, so be it. You have opportunities all around you I know and we can't give to all of them. I have just been there myself, with children when the electricity was cut off. I am moved to help.

We Are The Children of God!

My sin nature never ceases to amaze me. It grieves me to see how easily the desires of my flesh can entice and lure me to sin. Thank God the gospel proclaims that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ satisfied the Father, it appeased Him. My forgiveness, my standing, my salvation is not based upon my feeling, merit, or performance. My forgiveness and my standing are based upon the merit and performance of Jesus Christ the Son.

When I reflect on these thoughts I love to go and read the Scripture and Spurgeon. Let me share with you what I found when I went digging around Spurgeon. These tidbits are from a sermon entitled WHAT CHRISTIANS WERE AND ARE, preached by Pastor Spurgeon Thursday evening, October 23, 1873 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle.

“And were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” (Ephesians 2:3.)

“The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.” (Romans 8:16, 17.)

Go ahead, just jump right in and breathe in very deeply the refreshing fragrance of these truths. Meditate on them and give God the glory and the praise!

THESE two texts will furnish me with two familiar but most important themes—what Christians were and what they are. There are great and vital differences between what they once were and what they now are—and these are implied or indicated by the two expressions, “the children of wrath” and, “the children of God.” There is so much instruction in each of our texts that we will proceed at once to consider them without any further introduction.


The Apostle tells us that we “were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” “By nature,” mark you, not merely by practice, but, “by nature the children of wrath.” The expression is a Hebraism. When a person was doomed to die, he would be called by the Jews, “the child of death.” One who was very poor would be called by them, “the child of poverty.” So because we were, by nature, under the wrath of God, we are called “the children of wrath.”

WHAT CHRISTIANS ARE—what we now are if we have believed in Jesus

“The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”

It is such a wonderful thing that those who were the children of wrath should now be the children of God and that there are two witnesses to it. First, our own spirit says that we are the children of God and then the Holy Spirit comes and says, “Yes, and I also bear witness that you are the children of God.”

Now, Beloved, do you realize that God has worked this great miracle of mercy in you? Does your spirit bear witness that you are now a child of God? When you go out of this building and look up at the stars, will you say to yourself, “My Father made them all”?

Will you feel that you must talk to your Father? And when you go to your bed tonight, should you lie sleepless, will you begin to think of your heavenly Father as naturally as a little child, when it lies awake in the dark, thinks of its mother and calls to her? If you are a true Believer, this is the case with you. The Spirit of adoption is given to you by which you are enabled to cry, “Abba, Father.”

Do you not also know what it is, sometimes, when you are sitting down quietly by yourself, to think, “The God who made the heavens and the earth, and who upholds all things by the Word of His Father, is my Father”? Then very likely a flood of tears will come as you stand silently before the Lord just as the lilies do, for at times there is no form of worship that seems possible to our joyous spirit except standing still and letting the love of the heart silently breathe itself out before the Lord like the fragrance of flowers ascending in a gentle breeze. In such a frame of mind as that, your spirit may well bear witness that you are a child of God!

Then comes the Holy Spirit, the Infallible Witness, and through the Word and through His own mysterious influence upon our heart, He bears witness that we are the children of God. Two witnesses were required, under the Law of God, to establish a charge that was made against any man. And under the Gospel, we have two witnesses to establish our claim to be the children of God—first, the witness of our own spirit—and then the second and far greater Witness, the Holy Spirit, Himself!

And by the mouth of these two witnesses shall our claim be fully established. If our own spirit were our only witness, we might hesitate to receive its testimony, for it is fallible and partial. But when the Infallible and impartial Spirit of God confirms the unfaltering witness of our own heart and conscience, then may we have confidence toward God and believe without hesitation that we are, indeed, the children of the Most High God!

One of the points on which the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God is this—“We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren.” When we really love those who are God’s children, it is strong presumptive evidence that we are ourselves, members of His family! And when we truly love God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit—when we have a compassionate love to the souls of men and an intense love of holiness and hatred of sin, and desire for God’s Glory—all these are the further witness to the Spirit with our spirit that we are the children of God.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New Look and Features

I hope you like the new look of the Gospel-driven Disciples! I have been reading from some blogs about how to make my blog look better and be more useful to my current followers. I am not worried about attracting followers or growing my list. I have decided to apply the same principle to my blog as I have for my ministry – if I take care of the depth, I will trust God will take care of the breadth. In other words my job is, by His grace, to make this blog as biblical, beneficial, and beckoning as possible.

You will notice the new template. I like blue and I like the “starry and heavenly” look. I like to think it pictures the creation of our God of this universe. As I read Stephen Tremp’s blog, Breakthrough Blogs, he stated he changed his look or template twice a year. I like that since I don’t like things to stagnate or become mundane. So, unless my followers voice an objection I intend on changing my “look” twice a year. I will change, Lord willing, on June 30th and December 31st. Hopefully E-Blogger will continue to develop great templates.

Also new is the tab feature at the top of my blog. I want to “unclutter” the right panel on my blog. I like everything neat, orderly, convenient and in its place. So check out the tabs by clicking on them. One tab in particular I want you to be aware of his the Sermon/Bible Studies Tab. I will be teaching a lesson, Lord willing, each Sunday evening. I intend to post that lesson on that particular Sunday or at least by Monday. I will then leave the lesson up all week and then post the next lesson. You can if you wish follow on with our study in the First epistle of John the Apostle to the churches in Asia.

Each tab should be self-explanatory. Just click on it and see what is there. I included a few pics that I had on the computer. I don’t have a digital camera yet nor do I have a “connector” for my cell phone to the computer yet, so I know those pics are old.

I am interested in hearing what you think about my blog good or bad. I want to make it user friendly and give you a reason to read it each day. I like reading Tossing It Out right now because Lee is making some changes and I want to see what he does that might work for me. I look forward to your continued faithfulness and comments!

Thanks for reading!!

Thanks for sharing!!

Thanks for being a blessing to me!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Undercover Pastor's Wife: Would Your Church Make Her List?

I opened the door to a freshly painted, warmly decorated church foyer. It was my first time in this rural church of less than two hundred members. People were talking together in small huddles. Some were laughing; others were listening with concern. They greeted each other with hugs. They seemed comfortable and at home with one another.

I made eye contact with a few and smiled. Some looked away; some smiled back, but none left their group of friends to greet me. I took a bulletin from the table and walked into the sanctuary…alone.

The sanctuary was beautiful. Soft music created a worshipful atmosphere. I walked half way down the aisle and sat on the end. People began to fill the pews around me. Several excused themselves to step over me, but no one talked to me. Soon the room was filled, but I felt alone.

For over a year, I attended twenty different churches with similar scenarios. I was an undercover pastor’s wife, disguised as a visitor. My mission: to observe. I chose to accept this mission in order to help my husband lead our new church family ten hours away. Dave was already there, but due to a flat housing market, I stayed in our old town trying to sell our house for almost three years. With many Sundays free, I seized the opportunity to visit other churches.

I visited all types—conservative and liberal, various denominations and sizes. I visited to learn what is being taught (and what is missing) from pulpits. I visited to know which churches I could confidently recommend to others. I visited to get ideas for programs that work and didn’t work. I attended churches to see how it felt to be a visitor.

What did I see through my visitor glasses? Sadly, all of the questions below were answered in the negative by some church at some time. However, some churches made the “Places to Return” list. What reasons drew me back?

People said more than “hello”

Did they stop to introduce themselves, or did they say, “Hi, how are you?” in passing? Did I catch two women pointing at me, whispering,”Who is she?” but not coming to ask? (Yes, that really did happen.) Did someone offer to hang up my coat and show me the location of the restrooms? Did anyone get to know me by asking more than yes/no questions, for example, “What brings you here today?”

I may have brought a heart full of needs. It may have been my first time in any church. We don’t know a visitor’s story, but we do know each presents an opportunity to minister encouragement and love, and possibly even the privilege of leading them in the final step to salvation.

The church where the woman said, “Hi, my name is ‘so and so’. I’m glad you’re with us today. Would you like to come sit with my family?” made the list.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. (NASB, Heb. 13:2)

Personal contact made after my visit

Was I invited for lunch after church? Did someone offer to accompany me to the visitor reception following the service? Did one of the elders call later to see if I had any questions about the church? Did I get a form letter from the church, or a handwritten note? Churches are built one relationship at a time.

The church where the pastor’s wife sent a personal note that included, “We’re praying for you” made the list.

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord…contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. (Rom. 12:10-13)

Members have good relationships

Did all ages greet each other—kids, adults, teens—or were there age cliques? Did I overhear gossip? Did people walk past each other without acknowledgement? Our greatest testimony to others is our unity and love for one another.

The church where I observed a woman consoling and praying with a younger woman made the list.

Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph. 4:1-3)

I remembered the sermon

Was I still mulling over a biblical nugget a few days later, or was it the flashy graphics and flawless oration that stayed with me? Did spiritual seed take root, or was the experience an emotional balloon that fizzled during the week? Was the sermon packaged, or was it spoken from the pastor’s heart? Was I distracted from the meaning by a flippant, dry, or showy presentation? Did the sermon contain something for the mature believer, as well as the seeker?

The pastor that stimulated me to reread and meditate on the sermon text in my quiet time made the list.

And He gave some as…pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ. (Eph. 4:11-12)

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires. (2 Tim. 4:3)

Members brought their Bibles

Did the congregation know their way around their Bibles? Did I hear pages turn, or did the congregation depend on an overhead? Did the people take notes? Did the sermon points come from the Scripture text, or did the pastor read a verse or two to back up his outline? We learn the heart and mind of God by listening with an open Bible.

The church that revered the Word of God made the list.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

Reverence for God and the cross

Was respect for God shown through all aspects of the service—announcements, music, sermon, prayer, and appearance? Were the leaders and congregation attentive to and aware that God was present, or were they lulled by meaningless formalities? Had reverence been compromised in an attempt to change from traditional to contemporary? What was the goal of the service, to promote a certain style of worship, to inspire people to be better, to grow in numbers, to entertain, or…?

The church that honored the Savior made the list.

I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ… that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. (Phil. 3:8-10)

Prayer was important

What did the people pray about? Was the pastoral prayer packaged, or from his heart? Did prayer requests have a balance between health issues and spiritual needs, between individual needs and global needs? Did leaders give public prayer support to believers in other places? Was there a mid-week prayer service? Content and participation in prayer is a barometer of the health of the church and its individuals. The church that prayed in accordance with God’s heart and mind made the list.

… we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience, joyously giving thanks to the Father. (Col. 1:9-12)

People were involved: loved the lord and others

Did they participate to please a personable pastor? Did they think spirituality was a flurry of church activities? Did the programs meet needs, or tradition? Were they intent on developing mature relationships with Christ? Were the people willing to serve outside their comfort zones? Was attendance out of desire, or duty?

The church where the people participated with passion and courage, according to their spiritual gifts, made the list.

For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function . .. since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly…he who gives with liberality, he who leads with diligence, he who shows mercy with cheerfulness. (Rom. 12:4-8)


Most ministry leaders do not have opportunity to attend other churches. Even on vacation, we often worship with families and friends. Consequently, we do not have opportunity to listen to the heartbeat of Christendom.

What ways can a ministry leader get to know the spiritual influences on the community, the religious teachings of the area churches, the needs of the local population, and how it feels to be a visitor? Visit churches that meet at times when your church does not meet (i.e., Saturday nights, Sunday nights, midweek services, seasonal services, special programs and speakers.) Send board members to visit different churches every quarter or so. Give them specific things to observe. Use their report as a base for constructive discussion and proactive brainstorming. List the various churches in your community and research their websites on the Internet. Visit a different denomination on vacation.

How does your church look through visitor glasses? Does it reach beyond what is comfortable to promote spiritual growth and service? Is your church comfortable, or is it inviting?

Now the God of peace…equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Heb. 13:20-21)

Posted with permission of IFCA International, VOICE magazine, Volumn 89 Number 4, July/August 2010.

Connie Fink grew up as a pastor’s daughter and is now a pastor’s wife (serving with Dave, her husband for almost 30 years). Currently, they live in northwest Illinois and are between pastorates

Monday, July 26, 2010

Medford, Miracles, and Madness

Irene and I got the Buick back from the shop on Wednesday. You remember, we had to replace the water pump and while we were in there the serpentine drive belt. Let me remind you that the serpentine drive belt is part of scheduled maintenance and it is scheduled to be “maintained” (replaced) at 100,000 miles. I intend to drive this Buick until my death or the return of our Lord, whichever comes first – (unless someone donates the car of my dreams, a 1968 Pontiac Bonneville Convertible).

Since being out of work we have been as frugal as possible trying to stay afloat while we wait upon the Lord. It has taken a slight toll on me – I am going “stir-crazy.” I had a bad case of cabin fever. I wanted a road trip!

Some of you remember that through making a comment on another blog I was re-united with my dear friend John Griffin. I met John in 1978 when we were both living in the same duplexes, attending the same Bible College, and working at the same company; Alta Dena Dairy of Industry, CA. We had lost contact over the years and I hadn’t seen John in some 25 years.

Friday, spontaneously, with a quick prayer for blessing and forgiveness for stupidity, we left Longview, WA at 3:15 PM for Medford, Oregon. We drove across the Lewis and Clark Bridge over the beautiful Columbia River and took highway 30 to Portland. What a beautiful drive along the Lewis and Clark Trail next to the River. We eased through Portland traffic and hit I-5 South. Wouldn’t you know it, an accident on the opposite side of the freeway at Tigard slowed traffic to a crawl through Wilsonville – for an hour it was a snail’s pace.

Well we got through that mess and drove to Grants Pass, OR where we met a dear sweet friend, her daughter, and granddaughter. We had coffee, gallons of it and blackberry pie! HMMMMM good eats! We arrived around 9:15 and we talked to about 1:00 AM. It was a great visit. It was so good to catch up with Judy and Shannon from Faith-Hope-Love. Both Judy and Shannon are such wonderful sweethearts; I wish you could know them both. You would be so blessed!

We had booked a room in Medford at the Budget Inn. We had no fears, dark, unfamiliar city, and all. Why? I had mapped-quested it. Oh no you say- yes, MapQuest was wrong. We were lost in Medford at 2:00 in the morning. However, my ever loving and resourceful wife reminded me we had GPS on her new cell phone that our daughter had given her. GPS what’s that? I had never used it before. Between the two of us, several tries, prayers of forgiveness for frustration we figured it out. It talked us right to the motel. I am hooked! I have to get GPS for the car. She had me when she told me to turn left into my destination in 26 feet. Wow!

We checked in and for a budget motel it was clean, attractive, and did the trick. Oops, no tricks – it was a nice room! We slept like rocks, or babies – no not babies, we didn’t wake up every two hours crying and needing changed. We slept well. Up early, showers, dressed and ready to meet our friend and his wife.

He decided to meet for breakfast at the Black Bear Diner on Barnett Road. If you are ever in Medford, OR you must stop and eat there. It is sinful. It is decadent. It is almost immoral – the biscuits and country gravy, sausage links, and over easy eggs were fantastic. They were reasonable also.

Well, no fear now – we just asked the cell phone for the Black Bear Diner and it gave us the address and asked us if we wanted a map, directions, or something else, what was that. We opted for directions and once again she spoke us right to the diner and our dear friend.

We broke bread together and had sweet fellowship. We then paid the bill and drove back to John and Karen’s house. We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon just talking about Christ, His Word, His goodness to us and his working in our lives. It was the best time I have had since I can remember – gosh now I feel like the Old Geezer, can’t remember anything anymore! Our time together was so sweet – you couldn’t give me a million dollars for it, but maybe a 1968 Pontiac Bonneville Convertible.

But alas, someone once said, “all good things must come to an end.” It did. We left John’s at about 3:15 PM and found I-5 North and headed back to good ole Longview, WA. It was a pleasant trip, the air worked well, the water pump did its job and with God’s blessing we arrived home at about 9:00 PM. The cats, Theophilus and Coco welcomed us back. We un-packed and turned on some fans – it is hot in WA again.

I thought I would watch and episode of CSI-Vegas and wind down. I guess I didn’t need it, I fell asleep before the credits came on and Irene left me on the couch in front of the fans and I slept like a rock, or a baby or a …

Medford is a beautiful city and we enjoyed it tremendously. The miracle was a safe and sound trip down and back and getting to see all the friends we love and have missed and we got to meet a new friend, John’s wife. The madness, well we drove 700 miles round trip for breakfast in Medford with friends. Say, where do you live?

Thank you Lord for allowing us to be unwise at times and extravagant in order to spontaneously take a road trip to see old friends because I was going “stir-crazy.” It wasn’t good stewardship but it did my heart good and so refreshed me. Hopefully the Lord and you will forgive us.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

One Week Away!

We are on week away from our launch date! Our bible study will take place in our home, Sunday, August 1st, 2010 at 5:00 PM. At this writing, approximately 10 people have said that they will be present. It is my prayer that God will lead those whom He is pleased to lead to our bible study.

We will begin a study in the first epistle or letter of John the Apostle. I ask for your prayers for God’s blessing on this new work in Longview. I also invite you whom may be local to come out to this new fellowship and join in with us! We are an independent bible fellowship that has a passion to spread supremacy of God in all things through Jesus Christ for God’s glory and the joy of all people in the city of Longview and Cowlitz County.

We are committed to being a people energetically devoted to proclaiming and displaying the most relevant message of our time: the life-transforming gospel of Jesus Christ.

. . . It’s all about God.

Our bible study & fellowship will be meeting on Sunday evenings at 5:00pm in SW Longview (email or call for address & location here in Longview). Childcare is unavailable for children though they are welcome.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Are You Drinking From the Ocean?

"The enjoyment of [God] is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams. But God is the ocean."

— Jonathan Edwards

Friday, July 23, 2010

How Do We Pray for the Unconverted?

Friday's Edition


What Does The
Bible Say?

Gospel-Driven Disciples A -Z Biblical Resource

Send your bible questions to

Hello Brother Gregg :-)

Since God is sovereign and has predestined all who will receive salvation, are we still to pray for the salvation of the lost?


Ron this is a very good question.

First, let me begin by stating an obvious danger that the opponents of the biblical doctrine of election always bring up. That objection is usually stated like this, “Well, if God has already determined who will be saved then why do we preach the gospel or why do we send out missionaries? The implication of course is that we do not need to do these things. Nothing could be further from the truth! The reason is just as obvious as the opponents to the biblical teaching of election – we do not know who the elect are.

Someone once remarked, “Nobody is born with a big “E” stamped on their back.” God has not revealed to us who He has chosen to redeem. Therefore, we are commanded, and God expects us to obey the command to preach the gospel to every creature. The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to convict the hearts of men of sin and judgment. The Holy Spirit gives life to those whom He applies the work of salvation enabling them to repent and believe. Since we don’t know who will respond we are to be obedient to the command of God to preach the gospel to every creature.

Secondly, it is interesting to note, at least to me, that there isn’t one instance of where someone prayed for an individual to become saved. Jesus did tell the disciples to pray that the Lord of the harvest would send laborers into the field because the harvest was great and the workers were few. (Luke 10:2) Paul wrote to the Corinthians telling them that a great and effective door for ministry was given to him in Ephesus. We believe that door was the opportunity to preach the gospel unhindered or unmolested resulting in a great harvest of souls. I think the closest thing we have to praying for the lost is possibly in I Corinthians 1:-6-7 where Paul planted and Apollos watered. An argument might be made that the watering included prayer, but I am not sure that is what is meant there. Apollos was probably giving further insight and "words" to those whom Paul had preached the gospel.

I think a third thing to take into consideration at this point Ron, is how do we pray for the lost? I think that God understands what we mean when we pray even if we pray incorrectly. I hear many people pray that so and so will open their hearts, or would see the truth, or realize their need, and etc. Since a lost person is dead in trespasses and sin and cannot respond to any stimuli apart from the Holy Spirit is actually useless. A dead person is not able to open their hearts nor are they going to “see” nor will they realize their need. Here are some things to consider about the lost:

  • They are spiritually dead and they are not, nor do they seek God

  • They are slaves of sin and bound in fortresses of darkness

  • They are deceived and blinded by sin and by Satan

  • They are actually enemies of God under the wrath of God with no hope
So, how do we pray for those who do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? Let me share seven ways that you can pray for the lost as you share the gospel.

  • That the lost would be given spiritual eyes by the Holy Spirit enabling them to see Jesus as God’s sovereign plan for salvation
  • That God would direct the Holy Spirit to move in the heart of one who is lost and that the Holy Spirit would give life to them

  • That as the prodigal son, the Holy Spirit would enable the lost to come to the end of themselves, enabling them to see themselves as God sees them

  • That they would know that they have sinned against God, that they are under judgment and condemnation of a Holy and righteous God

  • That they would feel the weight of their sin, become aware of their lostness and embrace the gospel for their salvation

  • That God in His mercy would grant them life, faith and repentance and that God would regenerate them by the Holy Spirit

  • That God would give Himself to them without measure, that God would lay hold of them and say that you are mine, and that you shall be mine, and that I claim you for myself
Apart from a work of God through the Holy Spirit a man who is dead, void of all spiritual life, locked in the bondage to sin, who loves his sin and darkness, and has no desire to give up his sin will not come to the light. As we pray, we are not praying for a dead man to do what he cannot do, we are praying to God on behalf of that dead man that God would save that man, if it pleases him and it is in accordance with his will.

Now, dear reader of my blog, before you whip II Peter 3:9 out on me, study your grammar and your context. That passage does not say that God is not willing that any human being that has ever lived, is living now, or will live should not be lost. It states in context beginning in chapter one that God is slow to bring judgment and the end of this age because he is not willing that any of the elect, those whom he has chosen to be saved would be lost. He is patient and patiently allows sin to go unpunished and judgment to be delayed while all those from the first to the last elect person is drawn to Him and saved.

Thanks for your question Ron! Thanks for reading the Gospel-driven Disciples!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What is in a name?

Take the name of Jesus with you,
child of sorrow and of woe;
It will joy and comfort give you –
 take it, then, where’er you go.

Precious name, O how sweet!
Hope of earth and joy of heav’n
Precious name, O how sweet!
Hope of earth and joy of heav’n

What is in a name? Romeo asked this question in the Shakespearian play Romeo and Juliet. Believers know the name of Jesus! Believers know that just whispering this precious name can bring comfort, peace, and even joy to an aching and breaking heart.

Lydia Baxter came to know just how precious and sweet the name of Jesus really was. Lydia was bed-ridden for most her life as an invalid. It was said of her that she was always cheerful and patient. When asked about her “secret” she would tell people that she had a “very special armor.” She would say, “I have the name of Jesus. When the tempter tries to make me blue or despondent, I mention the name of Jesus, and he can’t get through to me anymore.”

Lydia Baxter loved names, especially bible names. She was an avid student of the bible. She loved to discuss the meaning or significance of scriptural names with her friends. She would tell them that Samuel meant “asked of God”, Hannah meant “grace”, or that Sarah meant “princess”, and that Naomi meant “pleasantness.” The name that meant everything to Lydia was the name of Jesus.

“Take The Name of Jesus with You” was written by Lydia Baxter in 1870 while she lay as an invalid on her sickbed. She loved this special name throughout her life and right up until she died just four (4) years later. She died at the age of sixty-five. It was William H. Doane who put music to this beautiful poem about the “secret armor” loved so much by Lydia Baxter.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Can all Sin be Forgiven?

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit

This sin is mentioned just three (3) times in the New Testament.

“And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or the age to come.” (Matthew 12:31, ESV)

Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.” Mark 3:28-29, ESV)

“And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.” (Luke 12:10, ESV)

Now, the context of this tremendous statement makes it very clear that this “sin” is not just any serious violation of Gods’ moral law or standard. It does not reference persistence in sin or even a rejection of Jesus Christ. This sin that is so deadly serious is the cognitive and volitional attribution of the working of God through the Holy Spirit to the working of Satan, or the devil.

The context relates that the Pharisees had been a witness of a miracle, a divine working of God and those they heard the teachings of Jesus and they chose to remain in spiritual darkness and categorized the good that they saw as evil. The attributed the working of God to the Devil. They refused to acknowledge that the miracle that they had seen and the teachings of Jesus were actually from God. Had they acknowledged these things they would have to respond to them. That response would have shown them to be fraudulent and disobedient to the word, the laws, and the things of God. This they decided they could not do.

This sin is so vile and so consciously committed that it is unforgivable. Why? This sin is committed with the “light” of the Holy Spirit, the “witness of God”, and the truth of the Messiah, all of which are not only willfully denied, but attributed to Satan.

Jews taught that all their sins would be forgiven at death. The Jews taught that no Jewish person would ever go to “hell.” As a matter of fact they believed that Abraham himself sat at the gate of hell to specifically turn any wayward Jew back from hell and point him toward heaven. Jesus makes it clear that contrary to their teaching this sin was unforgiven in this age, while they lived, and in the age to come, when they died. (For the record, this does not imply that any sins of any degree are forgivable after death.)

The reason that there is no forgiveness is the person who chooses to attribute the working of God through the Holy Spirit rejects God and calls God the Devil neither from any ignorance nor accident, but does so both knowingly and willingly. Therefore there is no more remedy, there is no more hope, there is no more help for this person. Neither further teachings nor any other miracles will help this person.

So what does this say to us?

Any person who is concerned or worried about this sin has not committed it. A guilty, troubled, or agitated conscience gives evidence that one is still concerned about sin, God, and forgiveness in some form – maybe not from a biblical perspective – but at least concerned. This is a dire warning for those who know the truth of God not to turn away from that truth or to abandon the truth.

Sin against either God or the Son can be forgiven in this life. Why? The Holy Spirit was sent by God the Father to convict people of sin causing them to repent and to turn away from their sin or blasphemies against God or the Son. The thief who was saved while on the cross is an example of this. He joined in with the other thief in insulting and defaming Jesus. At some point, a crucial point the Holy Spirit who was given to convict men of sin convicted this particular thief. This conviction resulted in his repentance and turning from his sin and his turning to God and request for salvation. Scripture says that Jesus assured him he would join Jesus in paradise that day.

Is God the Father stirring in your heart through the work of the God the Holy Spirit? Do not willfully and knowingly attribute that working to the devil. Do not reject the conviction of the Holy Spirit upon your soul – or you too will be doomed with no hope of forgiveness in this life nor the one to come. Why? It is the work of the Holy Spirit to make you aware of your sin and God's salvation. If you reject the working of the Holy Spirit and/or attribute that working to the devil there is no one else to convict you of sin. You have no further advocate. Acknowledge your sin and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. Do it today!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What is Your World View?

First, to fully understand the concept of a world view I think we need to attempt to define what a world view actually is. An encyclopedia definition is as follows:

“A comprehensive world view (or worldview) is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing natural philosophy, fundamental existential and normative postulates or themes, values, emotions, and ethics.”

Second, where did this term or concept of a world view originate?

The term is a loan translation or calque of German Weltanschauung composed of Welt, which means 'world', and Anschauung, which means 'view' or 'outlook'.

This term is an idea or concept that is fundamental to German philosophy and it actually refers to a world perception. It is the framework of ideas and beliefs which one interprets and interacts with the world.

We are warned and commanded not to love this world: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions – it’s not from Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (I John 2:15-17)

When forming a personal world view this scripture becomes the governor controlling our thought process. There is an obvious tension or conflict between the two worlds that we are living in – we are citizens of a heavenly kingdom, all the while living in this physical world. Sadly, many who call themselves Christians miss this tension between these two worlds since they are overtly influenced by this physical world.

Why have a Christian World View?

The first question that should come to mind is of what value is a Christian world view. It seems that there are at least five (5) reasons why a world view is necessary.

  • Having a proper, biblically based Christian world view magnifies the glorious character of our Lord Jesus Christ

  • Having a Christian world view enables us to develop and maintain spiritual health

  • Having a Christian world view enables us to influence the people that we come in contact with

  • Having a Christian world view gives us a biblical basis as we are a role model being observed by those in our sphere of influence who are not Christians

  • Having a Christian world view enables us to match proper biblical interpretation with everyday practical aspects of Christian truths or principles
How is a Christian worldview developed?

  • We must truly know God and His character in such a manner that our worldview does not violate the character of God

  • We must truly know the Word of God and the ways of God in order to give foundation and framework to the development of a biblical and Christian worldview

  • We must be submitted to the Holy Spirit in such a way that He has free access to do His work of sanctification or transformation by the renewing of our mind

  • We must carefully choose and include friends, mentors, and helpers in order to scripturally encourage and edify us in the things of God including his Word and ways

  • We must diligently and earnestly develop a concern and interest for the things of God giving us a desire to never develop a world view which would contradict or harm the glorious character and nature of God

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Sound-Track of My Life

Well, today is an attempt to define or delineate our life by songs or music. When I suggested this I thought it was a good idea. Now I am not so sure how to do this. I have decided to chronicle the major points of my live by various songs. I don’t know if this is what I or Lee at Tossing Out hand in mind but here goes.

1. “Folsom Prison Blues” (Johnny Cash) I was born February 3, 1955 –was a major hit in 1955 -

1955 was one of the most prolific years for new artists, many of whom would revolutionize country music. Some of the more prominent names were Johnny Cash, George Jones, Elvis Presley and Porter Wagoner; it was also the year one of the best-known duos ever — the Louvin Brothers (Charlie and Ira) — would join the Grand Ole Opry. Many of them would go on to record and popularize the best known songs in the genre, and have recording careers that lasted for decades. It would be more than 30 years before another gifted group this prominent would rise to fame and create a revolution in country music.

I chose this song because Johnny Cash and Hank Williams were among the first singers I can remember in my young childhood memories. This song is his signature song. It was hot on the charts when I was born.

2. “Tulare Dust” (Merle Haggard) I moved with my family to California in December of 1966. –

This was a great song by Merle Haggard and an experience of moving to Tulare, CA during the dust bowl period. I love the Hag and his songs about moving, starting over, and the experience of a new place. Of course anything the Hag does its great!

My dad wanted a better life for his family than what he felt he could give us from being a machinist in the Columbiana County/Youngstown/Pittsburgh steel mills. With regular labor strikes, an abundance of workers for fewer jobs, and the hard dangerous work, my dad decided to apply for a position with the Lockheed Corporation in Sunnyvale, CA. What a day that was for an 11 year Ohio boy to get in the car for a long drive to a new place called California. It was like a fairy tale and we were moving to the promised land.

3. “Just as I Am” (Miss Charlotte Elliott) I was born again April of 1972–

Charlotte Elliot was visiting some friends in the West End of London, and there met the eminent minister, César Malan. While seated at supper, the minister said he hoped that she was a Christian. She took offense at this, and replied that she would rather not discuss that question. Dr. Malan said that he was sorry if had offended her, that he always liked to speak a word for his Master, and that he hoped that the young lady would someday become a work­er for Christ. When they met again at the home of a mutual friend, three weeks later, Miss Elliott told the minster that ever since he had spoken to her she had been trying to find her Savior, and that she now wished him to tell her how to come to Christ. “Just come to him as you are,” Dr. Malan said. This she did, and went away rejoicing. Shortly afterward she wrote this hymn.

After attending evening services in our local church, the United Baptist Church of San Jose, CA where Dr. Larry Chappell preached a message on the assurance of our eternal salvation. Not sensing or having evidence of salvation in my life I talked with an adult that evening and I trusted Jesus Christ as my savior. This song, though much abused by many people always reminds me that God accepted me in Christ and by His work on Calvary just as I was, a sinner, condemned, and without hope in this world.

4. “Marine Corps Hymn” (unknown Marine while on duty) I joined the Marine Corps in October 1972 -

Most people don’t know the “last verse” of the Marine Corps Hymn. Let me share that with you.

If the Army and the Navy
ever look on heaven’s scenes
They will find the streets are guarded
 by United States Marines

I was unhappy with being a high school junior, my home life, and my personal life in late 1972. I had tried to run away from home the year earlier only to be brought back. By the way, my parents were good Godly parents who gave us a great home. I learned later I was running from God and from myself. Marine Corps did me good! I enjoyed my time and they helped a confused, rebellious, undisciplined teen-ager grow in to a man and a Marine. Once a Marine always a Marine - I still stand for the Star Spangled Banner and the Marine Corps Hymn. I was a 5711, a Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Warfare Specialist. I was assigned to HMM 261, HMH 461, VMA 211 and VMA 311 in my career. I served in NC, Okinawa, Japan, the Philippines, and SC. I served as a Training NCO and as an Operations Clerk. No, I wasn't Radar.

5. “Wedding March” (Mendelssohn) I was married June 18, 1973 -

I met Irene in Mexican-American History class at Andrew Hill High School. We went together off and on for three years in high school. We got re-acquainted after I joined the Marine Corps. We eventually got engaged. One day I woke up in Jacksonville, NC and telephoned Irene in San Jose, CA and said catch the next flight to NC so we could get married. She did, she told her folks she was going to get married and had her sister drive her to the San Jose Airport and she flew to Jacksonville, NC. We have now been married for 37 years. I love my wife and I love being married. When that song began to play in that little baptist church, I turned to look down that aisle, I saw the most beautiful and wonderful girl walking toward me in white I melted. I can still see that 19 year old girl in her K-Mart dress walking down the aisle to be my wife!

6. “Pitty Pitty Patter of Little Bity Feet.” (Don Rich) I have four daughters, Shannon born 1974; Sonja born  1976; Sharon born 1981; and Stacy born 1982. -

"Well, the pitty, pitty, patter of a little bitty feet's
Gonna pitty, pitty, patter through our house
A gonna be a comin' in June, gonna stop our honeymoon
'Cause the pitty, pitty, patter of a little bitty feet's."

I was overseas in the Philippines when Shannon was born. I was sick and sent home from the hospital when Sonja was born. I was in the delivery room for both Sharon and Stacy’s birth. I chose this song because it really says a lot about how life changes in a major way when the sound of those little bity feet hit the floor. Bottles, feedings, changings, and spittin up - those wonderful gifts of God change your life!

7. “I Surrender All” (J.W. Van Deventer) I surrendered to the gospel ministry August 1978 –

I knew shortly after I was converted I was called to preach the gospel. I ran from this call for a number of years, including the years I ran oops I meant spent in the Marine Corps. In August of 78 I tired of God’s campaign to bring me into his service and I surrendered to anything God led me to do. As a result I have started one church, served as an interim pastor of a church and served as Teaching pastor of 3 other churches.

I have always loved this song - I have tried to give my all, family, friends, finances, and future to my Lord and Savior. I have and continue to surrender all to Him, all to Him I owe my life.

8. “Crazy ‘Bout an Automobile” (Ry Cooder) I sold cars from November of 1995 to April of 2003 -

Due to family issues I decided to resign from a six year pastorate in Federal Way, WA. Needing a new career, I talked with the dealer where I had previously purchased my cars. The Dealer thought I could  sell cars honestly and I thought this would be a temporary gig. I sold cars for several years rising to General Sales Manager. I love cars. You would be shocked to learn how many cars and trucks I have had in my life time. I love the old 50 to late 60's "muscle" cars. I have been that typical American who has had a "love affair" with cars.

This song is about a guy in Santa Cruz who wanted to go out with a girl and all she could see was his "heels", in other words he had no car, so she had not time. I didn't really become a "shaker and a mover" in high school until I got my second car, a 1962 Cadillac Convertible. We would put the top down, cruise for chicks, and head to the Santa Cruz Beach and boardwalk. I have had four convertibles in my life and there is nothing like putting the top down and cruising.

9. “Haggard and Jones” (G Metcalf and T.Watts) I co-wrote an award winning song in 1999 –

I developed a concept in 1999 to honor my two favorite singers, George Jones and Merle Haggard. The song was called Haggard and Jones. The lyrics were nearly finished and needed the music added. I found a great guy in Florida who agreed to supply music. He changed some of the words, provided great music, and as an afterthought entered the song in a music contest where we won second place. Our song was sung and played by session musicians in Nashville on an album entitled Country Nights.

This was a very special event for me. I have heard some of my songs sung by local "garage" type bands when I was younger and in the bar scene. But to have a CD in my hand with my words on it sung by Nashville session musicians, that was like winning the lotto!

10. “To Blog or Not Blog” (A You Tube song) I began blogging in February of 2009. This will be my 422nd post. This song can describe the on going question of what is bloggable? I chose it though it hasn't been released anywhere other than you tube because blogging has had a major impact on my life. I love this medium for teaching and edification. I pour my heart and soul into most of my blogs for God's glory and the good of my readers.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Valley of Vision

The strength of Puritan character and life lay in prayer and meditation. In this practice the spirit of prayer was regarded as of first importance and the best form of prayer, for living prayer is the characteristic of genuine spirituality. Yet prayer is also vocal and may therefore on occasions be written. Consequently in the Puritan tradition there are many written prayers and meditations which constitute an important corpus of inspiring devotional literature. Too often ex tempore prayer lacks variety, order and definiteness. The reason for this lies partly in a neglect of due preparation.

It is here that the care and scriptural thoroughness which others found necessary in their approach to God may be of help. This book has been prepared not to supply prayers but to prompt and encourage the Christian as he treads the path on which others have gone before. This Christian Classic would make a wonderful gift which will be treasured and read throughout the coming year. (Copied from the back cover page)

Adapted from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, edited by Arthur Bennett and published by The Banner of Truth Trust.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Metcalf’s Musings

I want to say with a very grateful and humble heart “Thank You” to the following folks who have agreed to pray for the bible study that begins Sunday evening, August 1st, 2010 in my home. I listed the four-fold goal or objectives of this bible study in my Wednesday, July 14th post.

There is one further objective that I am hoping to accomplish with this study – in time I hope it will grow into the Central Point Christian Fellowship of Longview, WA. In the meantime:

Thanks be unto our living God and unto you:


Tried By Fire (Pilgrim Mommy)

The Old Geezer

Trees For Lunch

Magoos News

Calvinistic Cartoons

Brian Todd Ray

Glenn and Evelyn Metcalf (my parents)

Craig and Jill Metcalf (my brother & sister-in-law)

Praise God for Blessings – Mercy Drops ‘Round Me Are Falling!

Our 2002 Buick Century began leaking coolant so I made an appointment with the shop today so they could look at it (Stirling Pontiac-Buick-GMC Truck of Longview). I sat in the waiting room and watched one of my favorite reruns, Boston Legal. An older gentleman came in to wait for his rig also and we began talking about various things, including God.

The Service Writer, Steve Harding, came in the waiting room to tell me my problem was a water-pump and belt and that it would cost with both parts and labor $400.00.

Thanks be to God, my spiritual growth through the Word, A. W. Pink’s The Sovereignty of God, and Jerry Bridges, Trusting God, I did not panic, but told Steve that I couldn’t have the work done now since I did not have the funds but I know that God will supply them and when God does we will make an appointment.

The older gentleman made the normal comments that you would expect, “Gee, that’s too bad, sorry to hear that, and I hope that works out for you.” I told him no worries; God will take care of it (I had talked with him already about the Lord). I got my keys told Steve, that God is in control and when He provides I will be back.

I got home gave the report to my wife. My Proverbs 31 wife. My wife who has begun cleaning homes and having yard sales since I have been unemployed, wife. She went into our bedroom and dug out her house cleaning and yard sale stash and said God has provided the $400.00 -  make the appointment. First, what a God and second what a Proverbs 31 wife of 37 years!

What a joy it was to call Steve right back and say, ‘Steve, as I shared with you God is in control and He has blessed me with the funds to take care of the car. He was stunned but made an appointment for me this coming Wednesday. Do you think God “broke” my water pump so I could have another shot (it has been months) at sharing God with Steve, my Service Advisor? I do. God is sovereign and God is in control.

No News on the Job front yet – I am trusting this same God who knew before the foundation of the world that a water pump on a 2002 Buick Century would go out in order to show me, Steve, and maybe an older gentleman that He is sovereign, wise, and who loves me will provide immediate finances and a job.

My daughter and grandson are staying with us now rather than visiting. She and her fiancé have decided to move back to Washington and be near family. He will be joining her next month and will need to find a job and an apartment.

Thank God the heat is gone. We are dropping back down to the mid 70’s, with clouds and even some rain promised next week. Praise God! I don’t like 90’s anymore, especially 98 and 99 degrees. That’s what Arizona is for isn’t it?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Why Do Some Denominations Reject the Bible?

Friday's Edition of

What Does the Bible Say?

Gospel-Driven Disciples
A-Z Biblical Resource

Send your bible questions to

Pastor Gregg,

With the Bible (the Word of God) so clear on the subject of the sin of Homosexuality, how do Christian denominations (i.e... United Methodist church, American Episcopalian church, and the Evangelical Lutheran church of America) accept homosexuality? I left the ELCA because of this issue.

I realize that this question may be too controversial for your blog, but you can always reply to the e-mail.

Blessings, Brian Todd

This is a good question Brian and the answer is easy though not pleasant. As a matter of fact there will many who think the answer is not loving, kind, or even nice. Our standard however, is the bible and not what we “feel” is nice but what does the bible say?

First, we need to realize that not everybody who claims to be a Christian or who claims to follow the bible actually is a Christian.

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'” (Matt 7:21-23, ESV)

Only believers have the Holy Spirit of God. One of the duties of the Holy Spirit is to teach God’s truth to His children. One of the signs of being a true believer is loving and desiring the Scripture, not to mention obeying the Scripture. There are at least two ramifications possible if one does not have the Holy Spirit; first, an individual does not belong to God and second, one has no one to teach the truth of God. As a result one becomes very susceptible to false teaching and their own emotional and subjective reasoning.

Most, if not all main-line denominations such as the United Methodist, American Episcopalian, and the ELCA have long ago abandoned the scriptures as inspired and authoritative. Unbelieving individuals, regardless of how moral, well meaning, and intellectual have infiltrated these and other denominations. As a result, for quite some time mainline and liberal denominations have not been Christian in the sense of being redeemed, Christ-like and Christ followers as prescribed by the New Testament. Unbelievers will always reject, alter, or miss-apply the truth of Scripture because they do not have the Holy Spirit to teach them correctly and to prevent heresy or doctrinal error.

So, Brian, the answer as I said is easy. Liberal and main-line denominations stopped treating the bible as divinely inspired and authoritative. They no longer interpret the bible with the same hermeneutics as you or I. We believe God said what he meant and meant what he said. When the plain sense of scripture makes sense, we are to seek no other sense. The bible is to be interpreted from a literal, historical, grammatical and contextual hermeneutic. Most main line or liberal denominations interpret scripture from differing hermeneutics, such as spiritual or allegorical rules of interpretation.

Of course, many people simply discard and reject anything that does not agree with their reason or sensibilities. When man becomes the judge of what Scripture says rather than letting God say what he said, the result is similar to the experience of the children of Israel during the period of the judges:

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:24, ESV)

You have denominations and individuals rejecting God’s laws and standards and establishing their own sense of scripture. Sense they have rejected God’s laws and standards God rejects them and allows them to go their own way, for a while. Remember there is coming a day of judgment when God will set the crooked path straight and make all things right!

Thanks for your question! Thanks for reading the Gospel-Driven Disciples.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Driven by Fear!

What Drives You?

“Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. (II Corinthians 5:11, ESV)

That the Apostle Paul was “driven” is no secret. We can find throughout the epistles little clues that give us some insight into the soul and psyche of this beloved Saint of God. No doubt his visions of God drove him through all of the obstacles, both spiritual and physical that he encountered. Also, there is no doubt one could make a good sized list of other things that drove him, such as his hope of a glorified body, his love for Christ, the need before him, and even the realization of the impending judgment of the lost.

One thing stands out boldly in this ultra-personal letter of the Apostle Paul to the believers in the Corinthian Church, and that was his understanding of the judgment of God of his life and ministry. Paul was motivated or driven by the fear of the Lord. It was his acute awareness of this fear that caused him to persuade men to Christ.

This statement comes on the heels of what Paul had written in verse 10. Paul wrote in Chapter five, verses 1-5 that the dangers he faced, the enemies he faced, and the battle he was waging took his life, could very well destroy his present body. If his body was destroyed God had made an immortal and heavenly body to clothe his soul. As a result of this confidence Paul was able to be encouraged. Paul knew he walked by faith and that his confidence was in the Lord. Paul also was motivated by his desire to please God while he was living and to please God after his physical death as he would appear at the Bema Seat of Christ.

Paul reminds the Corinthians that all believers will stand judgment at the Bema Seat after their transformation. Paul stated emphatically that God would reveal the secrets of the hearts of the believers and judge their works as Christians. This revelation and judgment would result in the receiving of rewards or the loss of rewards.

Paul was earnestly motivated to be acceptable to God. Paul made note of the terror which belongs to the Lord. Paul was aware of “how terrible the scrutiny” of the Lord really is. This fear that Paul experienced when he thought of this severe and perfect scrutiny produced an awe and reverence in Paul that motivated him to live for Christ rather than himself and caused Paul to always be about the business of sharing the gospel. The fear of the Lord is the fear that the Lord excites or generates. The Lord is the object of this fear.

“Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” (Ps 2:11, ESV)

The fear of the LORD is clean (pure), enduring forever…” Ps 19:9, ESV)

“The counsel of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.” (Ps 25:14, ESV)

“submitting to one another out of reverence (fear) for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:22, ESV)

Paul acted under the influence of his earnest sensation of reverencing the Lord as the Lord is worthy. In all of Paul’s attitude and actions he was aware that God was entitled to a level of respect, awe, reverence, and worship that was only befitting of God. Paul knew that this God would one day perfectly scrutinize this life and ministry, so Paul persuaded men in light of that awareness. Influenced by the fear of the Lord seeing the deep dark secrets of Paul’s heart and knowing that God would judge severely his activities Paul preached the gospel.

How do you perceive or view God? Do you have a truly healthy and earnest “fear” or reverence/respect for the character and nature of God? Or have you been led down the path by those with little or no understanding of God’s glorious character and have made God to be similar or equal to you? Is God a buddy, a pal, a holy dude that serves you? Or is God so Holy, so righteous, so just, and so glorious that He excites awe and respect from you as you are privileged to both know and serve Him?

What motivates or drives you?