Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Miss Hearing Merry Christmas - Really?

Why are we so biblically ignorant? Why are we so easily and comfortably deceived by our emotions and feelings? Why do we attribute such non-sensical, unbiblical, and unimaginable things to the Lord of lords, King of kings, our blessed Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour, the Son of God?

When you think you have seen the most ridiculous human imagination attached to our glorious Lord, stop, because someone will come up with something even more ridiculous. I have got to pull the plug on face book! I keep hearing or seeing the most ludicrous things imaginable.

A few minutes ago I checked in to see if there is anything of value or benefit and lo and behold what do I see? A 59 second video of the time elapsed installation of a billboard advertisement that says, "I Miss Hearing You Say Merry Christmas - Jesus. Really? You think Jesus really is grieved and pining away because of a bunch of ungodly politicians, the ACLU, godless atheists, religious anarchists who have decided to replace Merry Christmas with Happy Holidays? One more example of sentiment over substance.

The phrase wasn't even in existence until 1699 and didn't really catch any popularity until about 1843. How did Jesus feel about that? With the evangelical church in America almost apostate, the gospel re-defined until it is a good suggestion rather than the good news, immorality and godlessness rampant, II Timothy 3 becoming more and more the culture and climate, we think Jesus misses "Merry Christmas?"

First, let me say, that Jesus misses more our heart-felt worship and adoration for who He is than a trite phrase like Merry Christmas.

Second, Jesus wasn't even born in December, nor was He born on December 25th.

Thirdly, the "mass" is not even a biblical or Christian term or biblical event. In essence, the Mass is the ceremonial slaying of Jesus Christ over and over again, followed by the eating of his flesh and the drinking of his blood.  The Mass is the death sacrifice, and the "Host" is the victim.  This is official Roman Catholic doctrine, and "Christmas" is a word that they invented.  Again, I ask, what is so merry about the pain, bleeding, suffering and death of Jesus Christ? Satan has done quite a job of getting millions of so-called "Christians" to blaspheme.  What a deceiver he is.

Why did this cause my blood pressure to go up a point or two? Although we hear these words constantly as they resonate millions of times throughout the land, almost nobody understands what they are really saying.

A true Christian would want to examine everything they say, because Jesus said in Matthew 12:36-37, "But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgement.  For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." (KJV)

Book Review: real-life discipleship

No, the title isn't incorrectly typed; the title of the book does not contain capital letters. However, at the risk of sounding dorky this is a "capital book." The subtitle of this book, also in non-capital letters is "building churches that make disciples."

Real-life Discipleship answers three very crucial questions:
  • Is your church making disciples?
  • Is your church membership dwindling?
  • Is your church membership growing at the expense of smaller churches in the area?
Jim Putman, pastor of Real Life Ministries in Post Falls, ID tackles these questions head-on. He does so in such a manner that causes church leadership to re-examine the vision and/or mission statements of most churches. This book is an extremely down-to-earth and practical guide which creates a mindset of making disciples. Pastor Putman is not talking about making converts. He writes a manual for developing every believer in your church to become disciple makers in line with the great commission.

Real-life Discipleship is divided into three sections.

  • Part I is designed to set the stage for discipleship. Part I describes three key elements for effective discipleship - an intentional leader; a relational environment; and a strategic process.
  • Part II is developed in order to help leadership and churches master the discipleship process. Part II gives you a birds-eye view of five maturity levels of disciples and provides details of their needs and the process which meets those needs through a process Putman calls SCMD (Share, Connect, Minister, Disciple)
  • Part III is devised to help the leadership and churches allow disciples to emerge as leaders. Part III answers questions about developing leaders within the church.

Real-life Discipleship is a 187 page book containing fifteen easy to ready, understand, and implement chapters. It also contains four (4) appendixes which are provided as means of helps to supplement the main thesis. The material contained in real-life discipleship is biblical and practical. Pastor Putman does an excellent job in describing a process that has worked well in Post Falls and can be adapted to work as well in any church.

This book was very easy to read and understand. It is written in everyday plain English with little or no technical terminology. Every Pastor, Elder, Small Group Leader can greatly benefit from the simplicity, structure, and substance provided. Not only do I strongly recommend this book to be read I believe it should be a "must-read" tool for every Pastor and Small Group Leader.

"I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their blogger review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own."

30 Days of Thanksgiving

I am thankful today for the fact that I have been reminded by a number of sources these past couple of years that a day of Thanksgiving isn't enough or all that its expected of me. I am thankful that we have had a month during November to reflect and share what we are truly thankful for. Thank you Living Water Community Church of Vancouver for 30 days of Thanksgiving, thank you Rebecca Writes, and Kim from The Upward Call, and Persis from Tried by Fire. Thank you for the inspiration that caused me to join in this year and share 30 days of Thanksgiving! (Check out these links!)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Daily Disciplines...

What are the only two spiritual disciplines that
 a believer is admonished to do continually? 

30 Days of Thanksgiving

Today I am thankful for friends. Friends in the church, the community, and in blog world. Thank you for being my friend by praying for me, encouraging me, and showing kindness to me. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Eat! Don't Argue!

"To treat revelation as if it were a football to be 
kicked from man to man is irreverence."

WO learned doctors are angrily discussing the nature of food, and allowing their meal to lie untasted, while a simple countryman is eating as heartily as he can of that which is set before him. The religious world is full of quibblers, critics, and sceptics, who, like the doctors, fight over Christianity without profit either to themselves or others; those are far happier who imitate the farmer and feed upon the Word of God, which is the true food of the soul. 

Luther's prayer was, "From nice questions the Lord deliver us." Questioning with honesty and candour is not to be condemned, when the object is to "prove all things, and hold fast that which is good;" but to treat revelation as if it were a football to be kicked from man to man is irreverence, if not worse. Seek the true faith, by all manner of means, but do not spend a whole life in finding it, lest you be like a workman who wastes the whole day in looking for his tools. Hear the true Word of God; lay hold upon it, and spend your days not in raising hard questions, but in feasting upon precious truth.

    It is, no doubt, very important to settle the point of General or Particular Redemption; but for unconverted men, the chief matter is to look to the Redeemer on the cross with the eye of faith. Election is a doctrine about which there is much discussion, but he who has made his election sure, finds it a very sweet morsel. Final perseverance has been fought about in all time; but he who by grace continues to rest in Jesus to the end, knows the true enjoyment of it. Reader,argue, if you please, but remember that believing in the Lord 

Jesus gives infinitely more enjoyment than disputing can ever afford you. If you are unsaved, your only business is with the great command, "Believe!" and even if you have passed from death unto life, it is better to commune with Jesus than to discuss doubtful questions. When Melancthon's mother asked him what she must believe amidst so many disputes, he, knowing her to be trusting to Jesus in a simple-hearted manner, replied, "Go on, mother, to believe and pray as you have done, and do not trouble yourself about controversy." So say we to all troubled souls, "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him."

Charles H Spurgeon
The Sword and The Trowel

30 Days of Thanksgiving

Today I am thankful for a good message on Acts 4:32-36. We are responsible for each other in the body. We need to meet the needs of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We cannot count our possessions as "ours" body they need to regarded as belonging to all in the body. If we need to we need to sell possessions including land, houses, and etc. in order to make sure that no needs exist among our brothers and sisters. Thank you Pastor Josh L. Litton of Creekside Baptist Church for your faithfulness to God's Word.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Reading Obadiah 19-21

John Greenleaf Whittier wrote, "For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: 'It might have been!'" 

Harriet Beecher Stowe said this, "The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone." 

What message is being conveyed in these two pithy sayings? The message seems to be that the saddest words of all are words or thoughts of regret. Words of regret spoken after disasters are so tragic!

Proud Edom, comfortable and resolute in proud deceit that nothing could ever harm them has seen their destruction. Their pride led to their very great problem. Their problem was the abandonment of their brother in time of need, the gloating over their brother's destruction, and the participation in plundering their defeated brothers goods. This problem led to their punishment by God.

Judgment fell on Edom and God caused them to drink from the very same cup that their brother Judah drank from. Edom was overthrown and destroyed. The house of Jacob and the house of Joseph burned the house of Edom as fire burns and consumes stubble. The punishment was so severe that God promised Edom that there would be no survivors of the house of Edom. This leads us then to:

Verses 19-21 Edom's Penalty

God has told how Israel will be used as a "flame" to thoroughly burn up and destroy Edom. God now shows how He will "redistribute" the people of Israel throughout the various regions in the area. Included in this "redistribution" Israel will be expand into the mountain areas of Esau.

The children of Israel that are scattered in the Negev or the very southern desert will become the new owners of the land of Edom. The children of God which had been scattered to the Shephelah (a region still unknown today, although may have been in the area of modern Turkey) will be given ownership over the land occupied by the Philistines. So Obadiah indicates that God's children will move into areas occupied by Ephraim, Samaria, Gilead, the Canaanites. The Israelites that have been scattered by Babylon will be regathered one day and will occupy the land as God gave it to them.

God will appoint men who can lead armies and will gain ownership of all this land. They will then set up governments that will rule justly and righteously under God. 

So what is Edom's Penalty? They forfeited any right to their land and any right in the future plans of God. They will not retain their precious mountain region where they felt so secure and superior. They will not be part of God fulfilling His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They will not receive any inheritance in the promised land. That my friend is a terrible penalty to pay for pride.

In the coming Day of the LORD, God is going to judge the nations for the mistreatment of His covenant people. He has already judged and destroyed Edom because of Edom's pride and participation in Judah's destruction. Isn't ironic, when God restores Judah to its land, God is going to give Judah Edom's

How sad to think of what could have been? Edom could have had a part in the blessing and redistribution of God's people. But alas, they will have no part! Instead of keeping what was theirs and maybe receiving more, they are wiped out.

We must always be on guard against forfeiting God's blessing by our own pride and sin. We will not be destroyed nor forfeit our inheritance in Christ when we sin, but the penalty (chastisement or discipline) can be severe. Their are consequences to sin, even to those children of God who are forgiven and redeemed. Edom paid a terrible penalty for their pride. 

30 Days of Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for the snow. Longview received her first snow fall November 21 and then some more the morning of November 22nd this year. I love the snow and thank God for it.

"God thunders wondrously with his voice, he does great things that we cannot comprehend. For to the snow he says, 'Fall on the earth,' likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour." Job 37:5-6 (ESV)

Thank you Lord that you told the snow to fall on Longview, if only for a couple of hours and it did not stick!

"Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, ..." Job 38:22 (ESV)

I wonder what those storehouses look like? I once worked in the ice cream producing factory of Alta Dena Dairy and it was 50 degrees below zero in our warehouse. What must those storehouses be like?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Funny!

30 Days of Thanksgiving

I thank God for a sense of humor! God has given us "emotions," which includes humor. Humor is subjective and personal. However, humor is universal. People laugh in every language, colors, nations, tribes, and countries. I cannot imagine how bland this world would be if we could not laugh. Thank you God for humor. There are times our laughter should be turned into mourning and sometimes our laughter is only befitting a fool.

"Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; they they said among the nations, 'The LORD has done great things for them.'" Psalm 126:2 (ESV)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!




4 MARRIED WOMEN : Eleanor Billington, Mary Brewster, Elizabeth Hopkins, Susanna White Winslow.

5 ADOLESCENT GIRLS : Mary Chilton (14), Constance Hopkins (13 or 14), Priscilla Mullins (19), Elizabeth Tilley (14 or15) and Dorothy, the Carver's unnamed maidservant, perhaps 18 or 19.

ADOLESCENT BOYS : Francis & John Billington, John Cooke, John Crackston, Samuel Fuller (2d), Giles Hopkins, William Latham, Joseph Rogers, Henry Samson.

13 YOUNG CHILDREN : Bartholomew, Mary & Remember Allerton, Love & Wrestling Brewster, Humility Cooper, Samuel Eaton, Damaris & Oceanus Hopkins, Desire Minter, Richard More, Resolved & Peregrine White.

22 MEN : John Alden, Isaac Allerton, John Billington, William Bradford, William Brewster, Peter Brown, Francis Cooke, Edward Doty, Francis Eaton, [first name unknown] Ely, Samuel Fuller, Richard Gardiner, John Goodman, Stephen Hopkins, John Howland, Edward Lester, George Soule, Myles Standish, William Trevor, Richard Warren, Edward Winslow, Gilbert Winslow.

Edward Winslow, Plymouth, MA

 "Our harvest being gotten in, our governour sent foure men on fowling, that so we might after a speciall manner rejoyce together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labours ; they foure in one day killed as much fowle, as with a little helpe beside, served the Company almost a weeke, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Armes, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoyt, with some ninetie men, whom for three dayes we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deere, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governour, and upon the Captaine and others.  And although it be not always so plentifull, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so farre from want,  that we often wish you partakers of our plentie."

--Edward Winslow, regarding the First Thanksgiving, Plymouth, MA, December 11, 1621


William BradfordOf Plimoth Plantation :
In the original 17th century spelling

"They begane now to gather in ye small harvest they had, and to fitte up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health & strenght, and had all things in good plenty; fFor as some were thus imployed in affairs abroad, others were excersised in fishing, aboute codd, & bass, & other fish, of which yey tooke good store, of which every family had their portion. All ye somer ther was no want.  And now begane to come in store of foule, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees).  And besids water foule, ther was great store of wild Turkies, of which they tooke many, besids venison, &c. Besids, they had about a peck a meale a weeke to a person, or now since harvest, Indean corn to yt proportion.  Which made many afterwards write so largly of their plenty hear to their freinds in England, which were not fained,  but true reports."

30 Days of Thanksgiving

I am thankful for God's providence! It was His sovereign leading that brought believers to this new land. I am thankful that they made that journey across the ocean and then braved the harsh elements to carve out a new settlement. I thank God how He providentially lead the Pilgrims and people who settled this great country. I am thankful for God's providence in my own life.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ten Passages of Thanksgiving

  • "I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving." Psalm 69:30 (ESV)

  • "Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! Psalm 100:4 (ESV)

  • "Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy." Psalm 107:21-22 (ESV)

  • "Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre!" Psalm 147:7 (ESV)

  • "But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!" Jonah 2:9 (ESV)

  • "You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God." II Corinthians 9:11-12 (ESV)

  • "Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Philippians 4:5-6 (ESV)

  • "Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving." Colossians 4:2 (ESV)

  • "For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer." I Timothy 4:4-5 (ESV)

  • "And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, saying, 'Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.'" Revelation 7:11-12 (ESV)
30 Days of Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for the mercy of God! His mercies according to Jeremiah (Lamentations 3) never come to an end; are new and fresh every morning, and they are based on his faithfulness. Thank you God for being a merciful God and for taking pity on me. I thank you that you always remember my "frame" and that I am but "dust."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Believer's Greatest Need!

"As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?" Psalms 42:1-2 (ESV)

What is the most important thing in the world to a believer? We could make a list that would stretch from sea to sea and probably would not be wrong. I have come to believe that the greatest need in the believers life is to grow in the knowledge of God (II Peter 3:18.) This idea is entwined within the gospel and all Christian experiences that God has provided for us. Knowing God and manifesting His glorious character and nature is why we were created.

As believers we are the children of God and as the children of God we are graced with a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. In my evening bible readings I am reading the Old Testament and I have recently read through Jeremiah. I came to the promise of the new covenant that God has promised to make with the descendants of Abraham and this line jumped at me and caused me to marvel. Quite frankly I am still marveling.

"I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord."
Jeremiah 24:7 (ESV)

Jesus Christ was sent by the Father to this earth in order to reveal to us knowledge about God. This knowledge is heart and soul of our Christianity. We have so many "ideas" about God. Unfortunately many of those ideas are not biblical. We are very adept of creating or imagining a "god" that we are comfortable with and can live with. True, biblical knowledge of God is absolutely necessary to grow beyond the infant state of believing to the mature adult state of believing.

It is so tragic that many people have been truly converted by the grace of God, some for years and years, yet are still infants in faith and understanding. It is one thing to come to realize that God is our "Abba Father", and our sins are washed away and another to desire, delight, treasure, and "pant" after God. This longing for God and this treasuring of God is not for what He has done or what He can do, it is for Him for who He is.

So Jeremiah tells the people of Judah; "Thus says the LORD: Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, nor let the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in he earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD." Jeremiah 9:23-24 (ESV)

The gospel is certainly key to knowing God. It initially opens the door to our redemption and into the family of God. The gospel is needed daily in the lives of believers as a reminder that we are God's children, our sins are forgiven, and that we have been given everything thing we need to live Godly in Christ Jesus. The gospel reminds us that we are fully accepted and loved by God because Christ's sacrifice fully satisfied the Father. The gospel reminds us that the power for this life that we know lives is the same power that raised Christ from the dead. Yes the gospel is essential for a believer. The gospel leads us to desire God and to desire deeper and more intimate knowledge of this God who sent His unique Son to satisfy His wrath that was meant for us.

How do we know God. How do we deepen our intimate knowledge of God's character and nature? Go to the Word of God. Then wait. Be patient and endure. How do you get wisdom and knowledge and understanding? The Holy Spirit produces wisdom, knowledge, and understanding through the Word of God. By the way, He does not do it by simply filling in the boxes on a reading chart, or my hit and miss reading. Occasionally you might "kick" up a nugget near the surface, but this understanding comes through long, hard, patient, arduous "back-breaking" labor of the study of the Word. The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to mature us. We will never gain this knowledge of God unless we pant and pick up our tools, roll up our sleeve and go to work. It doesn't happen by mere desire, osmosis, prayer, or hoping for it to occur.

What say ye?

30 Days of Thanksgiving

I am thankful for the body of Christ. Although there is only one body, that one body is made up of a number of members or parts. These parts are gifted differently and when they utilize their gift for on my behalf, I am blessed and enriched. Thank you Lord for gifting each member of your body differently! Thank you that you use these individually gifted members to supply that which is lacking in my life. Thank God for the church!

Monday, November 22, 2010

What Do You Think?

What is the believer's greatest need?

30 Days of Thanksgiving

I am thankful for the privilege of prayer. David said on more than one occasion that we can pour our hearts out to God. Jesus said to ask. Even James when he gave reasons why the prayers of the Jewish Christians that he wrote to did not receive answers to their prayers implies they prayed. I thank God that He in His infinite wisdom brings me and my prayers in line with His sovereign purpose thereby causing Him to answer them. Thank you Lord for the privilege of coming to you as my heavenly Father in order to make my requests known unto God!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Amazing Grace of God

T is by the grace of God that ungodly men are preserved from instant death. The sharp axe of justice would soon fell the barren tree if the interceding voice of Jesus did not cry, "Spare him yet a little." Many sinners, when converted to God, have gratefully acknowledged that it was of the Lord's mercy that they were not consumed. 

John Bunyan had three memorable escapes before his conversion, and mentions them in his "Grace Abounding" as illustrious instances of long-suffering mercy. Occasionally such deliverances are made the means of affecting the heart with tender emotions of love to God, and grief for having offended him. Should it not be so? Ought we not to account that the longsuffering of God is salvation? (2 Peter 3:15.) 

An officer during a battle was struck by a nearly spent ball near his waistcoat pocket, but he remained uninjured, for a piece of silver stopped the progress of the deadly missile. The coin was marked at the words DEI GRATIA (by the grace of God).This providential circumstance deeply impressed his mind, and led him to read a tract which a godly sister had given him when leaving home. God blessed the reading of the tract, and he became, through the rich grace of God, a believer in the Lord Jesus.

    Reader, are you unsaved? Have you experienced any noteworthy deliverances? Then adore and admire the free grace of God, and pray that it may lead you to repentance! Are you enquiring for the way of life? Remember the words DEI GRATIA, and never forget that by grace we are saved. Grace always pre-supposes unworthiness in its object. The province of grace ceases where merit begins: what a cheering word is this to those of you who have no worth, no merit, no goodness whatever! Crimes are forgiven, and follies are cured by our Redeemer out of mere free favour. The word grace has the same meaning as our common term gratis: Wickliffe's prayer was, "Lord save me gratis" No works can purchase or procure salvation, but the heavenly Father giveth freely, and upbraideth not.

    Grace comes to us through faith in Jesus. Whosoever believeth on Him is not condemned. O, sinner, may God give thee grace to look to Jesus and live. Look now, for to-day is the accepted time!

Charles H. Spurgeon

30 Days of Thanksgiving

I am thankful for the grace χαρις (khar’-ece) of God that He has extended to me, a sinner. This grace, extended by God, is that pleasure, delight, and unmerited favor that He freely and sovereignly chose to bestow upon me. "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; (not by being good, doing your best, being confirmed, keeping a set of laws or rules) it (faith/salvation/redemption/eternal life) is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Reading Obadiah 15-18

There are two situations that most people, especially we Americans cherish. The first situation is where the underdog scrapes and scraps to victory over bully villains. The second situation is where the bully or villain gets the "justice" he deserves when the dust finally settles. Whether it is cowboys in white hats and black hats or cartoons on Saturday morning we want the good guy, the little guy to win and the bad guy to loose.

So we invent or create Batman, The Green Hornet, Dick Tracy, Sgt. Friday on Dragnet, or Underdog! You remember Underdog don't you?

When when help is needed, I am not slow,
For it's hip-hip-hip and AWAY I GO!!!
Underdog's most frequent saying when he appeared was:
There's no need to fear--
Underdog is here!
The principle of appropriate and divine justice is clearly presented in this section of Obadiah. The Nations and Edom that had played a part in Judah's "calamity" will have a special time set aside for them. That special time will be a time in which the LORD will repay Edom for the wicked treatment of His people.
We have seen Edom's Pride in verses 1-9
We have seen Edom's Problem in verses 10-14
Verses 15-18 Edom's Punishment 
The Edomites should stop treating their brothers so vilely. Why? The day of judgment is near, or close and will rapidly fall upon them. The term "Day of the LORD" is a term used by Obadiah (other prophets) to describe the details of the punishment of God's enemies and the vindication of His people. Verse fifteen is a shocking wake-up call to Edom, "as you have done, it shall be done to you..." As you have committed violent crimes against your brother and treated them with wicked evil, God is going to do the same thing to you. God is going to treat Edom like they treated their brother Judah.
Obadiah shows us just what God means in very colorful yet illustrative language. Edom entered Judah's city gate after Babylon had defeated and ransacked the city. Inside the city Edom "drank the spoils" of the city just like the enemies of God. Obadiah gives us the image of a drunken orgy of defeat that took place when Jerusalem was overrun. God says there will be a day when Edom will "drink" again. This time instead of drinking the spoils of war Edom will drink the wrath of God.
Verse sixteen compares this judgment to drinking an intoxicating liquor. The drunk person's staggering and disorientation is an illustration of the panic and confusion that Edom will experience when God's judgment falls upon them.  The phrase "drink and swallow" gives us the idea that Edom will drink and drink or drink continually. Their judgment is going to be very severe. Edom violated holy ground and God's people which will result in this severity.
This is where we see the bully or the villain get his. Edom treated their brothers cruelly and violently but payback is bad! Now in verses 17-18 we see the second principle that most people cherish and that is seeing the underdog win one, for the Gipper or not.
We see in verses seventeen and eighteen that the city of Jerusalem would experience "deliverance."  The city would once again be a holy sanctuary and dwelling place of God. The LORD will give his people the promised land as their inheritance, "...and the house of Jacob shall possess their own possession." When the remnant is restored one day to the land God will fulfill His promise given to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and even Joshua. In addition to receiving their promised land, the restored remnant will totally wipe Edom out. Obadiah illustrates this like fire which completely burns up or devours stubble or kindling. There will be no survivors of the house or people of Edom.
Now, you know what these verses have said. You should know what they mean. The question is how do we apply them? These three things are critical to interpretation; what does a passage say; what does the passage mean by what it says; and how does the passage apply? 
I must state first that we must be very careful or we will misinterpret this passage. Even though Israel has been "regathered" to its own borders and became a nation in 1948 doesn't fulfill the prophecies related to her return. She has not returned in "belief or faith." Israel is a very secular nation and her regathering is not the total or complete fulfillment of biblical prophecies.
Yet, we know that Edom has been scattered just like Obadiah said it would be. Even though the "Day of the LORD" occurs in verse fifteen, "for the day of the LORD is near," this is not the fulfillment of that great and awful day of God's terrible judgement. You say why do you say this?
First, look at the last phrase of verse fifteen, "...is near upon all the nations." It is obvious that the nations of the world have not been finally judged and punished by God. That day is still future. 
Second, look at the language of Joel - "...a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness... Amos speaks of the same thing, "...that day will be darkness, not light...will not the day of the LORD be darkness, not light-pitch dark, without a ray of brightness?" (Amos 5:18,20)
Obadiah prophesied about 500 years before Jesus was born. His prophecy was written some 2,000 + years ago. The Day of Judgment has not yet come. Was Obadiah wrong? Is the bible wrong? Can we even understand this? Let me say a number of things.
Second - The Day of the LORD was near for Edom. Edom was judged. Edom's destruction happened about 585 BC.
Third - Obadiah used the word near, or imminent. The judgment is near or close in the sense that it can happen at any moment. imminent or near means "threatening to occur immediately, it is impending." It doesn't mean that it has to happen the moment you hear of it, it can, but it doesn't have to. One must be ready for it at any moment.
God judgment is very near and can fall at any moment therefore we need to be ready for it. This is how God's judgment can be near to the "nations" in verse fifteen and yet have already happened to Edom. Edom's judgment serves as a warning or picture to all the nations of the world that have rejected God and violated His Word.
Fourth - God often uses prophecy with a dual purpose or fulfillment. The most "famous" case of dual prophecy and fulfillment is Isaiah chapter seven.  King Ahaz is afraid of the coalition that has joined forces to fight against Jerusalem. Ahaz has placed his faith or hope for victory in human power and forces rather than in God. The LORD entreats Ahaz to trust Him and ensures Ahaz that Jerusalem will prevail. God then asks Ahaz to ask Him for a sign that would strengthen Ahaz's faith. Hypocritically refuses to ask God for a sign. The LORD gives Ahaz a sign regardless. What was that sign?
The sign was that a virgin would conceive and bear a son who would be named Immanuel. The conception, birth, and naming of this child would confirm God's promise to Ahaz. Now, who does this sign refer to? Since we sing about it in Christmas Carols, put on plays, skits, and programs involving it, and make it a central part of "Christmas" we say it refers to Jesus Christ. Mary, a virgin, prior to sexual relations with Joseph was discovered to be pregnant. Having been married by Joseph, left sexually untouched by her husband (until after Jesus' birth - she had 4 more sons and at least 2 daughters) she delivered a baby boy whom was called Immanuel in the sense that God is now with man on earth.
This sign was given to Ahaz some 700 years before Christ was born. Would this make sense to him? No! The battle would be long over and Ahaz would have been long dead before Jesus was ever born. This sign, this prophecy was used by God to carry a dual meaning. A virgin whom Ahaz knew would conceive a child - as well as Mary as a virgin would be with child - this virgin would deliver a baby boy - just as Mary delivered a baby boy - and this virgin would name the baby Immanuel - just as Jesus was considered to be God with us - and Ahaz would witness this giving evidence of the validity of God's word.
Judgment on the nations of the world is imminent, it can happen any moment. Nations -  be prepared, be ready, God will judge you at any moment! Edom - that shoe has dropped, God has already judged them in 585 BC.
30 Days of Thanksgiving
I am thankful for animals. God has been very creative in the design and function of animals and very gracious in giving them to us for various purposes. I thank God that He has given us some animals for food, some for clothing, some as "beasts of burdens." I especially thank God that He allows us to enjoy his creative imagination, variety, and glory in the animals He allows us to make part of our family. I enjoy the creative power of God in the two cats, Theophilus and Coco that we have. I take equal joy in God's creative power in the Fi Fi our miniature poodle. I confess that there are times I enjoy them selfishly for my own pleasure. They make me laugh and cause me to enjoy them and love them. When I stop to clearly think about it however, I am enjoying God's handiwork which causes God to be enjoyed and His glorious character manifested through the variety of species we call dogs and cats. Thank you Lord!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Are Your Hymns to Spiritual?

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; our helper he amid the flood of mortal ills prevaling. For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.
Martin Luther (1529)

Jesus is my  boyfriend Music
Hymnody has fallen on hard times. The Second Great Awakening, Pentecostalism, and the Jesus Movement have taken a toll. No longer are hymns theologically informed and centered upon the Glory and majesty of God; instead, the great truths of Scripture that moved the pens of hymnists have been replaced by the man-centered lavender quills of romantics.
Dr. Michael Horton, professor of theology and apologetics at Westminster Seminary California, reflects upon this transition in an article titled, Are Your Hymns Too Spiritual? 
Here's how the article begins:
The average Christian will learn more from hymns than from any systematic theology. Hymns chart progression from classic hymns of the 17th and 18th centuries (especially those of Charles Wesley, Augustus Toplady, John Newton and William Cowper) to the Romantic "songs and choruses" of the 19th and 20th centuries. They reflect the shift from Reformation categories (God, sin and grace, Christ's saving work, the Word, church, sacraments, etc.) to Romantic individualism. 
We sing, "I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses. And the voice I hear, singing in my ear, the voice of God is calling. And he walks with me and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own." Or, "He touched me." 
The number of 19th century hymns that talk about the objective truth of Scripture, and that which God has done outside of my personal experience, is overwhelmed by the number of hymns that focus on my personal experience. It is my heart, not God and his saving work, that receives top billing.
If that was true of the 19th century, the 20th century only exacerbated this emphasis, and the style of the commercial Broadway musical was imitated in songs that elevated personal experience and happiness above God and his glory. Today, the vast majority of entries in the Maranatha, Vineyard, and related praise songbooks are not only burdened with this self-centered and Gnostic tendency, but often contain outright heresy--probably not intentionally, but as a result of sloppy theology. In our day, sloppy theology usually means some form of Gnosticism. 

Read the rest of article here.
[copied from my friend at The Wittenberg Door]

30 Days of Thanksgiving

The Generosity of Others
"You will be enriched in every way for all your generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God" 2 Corinthians 9:11

Our good ole girl Buick just underwent 557.00 worth of repair. God graciously provided all but 9.00 (actually 8.00 and change) in gifts. We certainly did not have that in the budget at this time so the generosity of others made this happen. Thank you, you know who. Thank you Father!

Last week Yvonne at Welcome to My World of Poetry was so kind, thoughtful, and generous and awarded the Gospel-driven Disciples Blog with the Wholesome Blog Award. Thank you Yvonne! My instructions beyond enjoying the award was to pass it on to 1-12 other "wholesome blogs. Today, I would like to pass this award to three very special and wholesome blogs:

Seams Inspired
Theology for Girls
So Much to Say, So Little Time...
Congrats to you guys! Feel free to "pick-up" the award, enjoy it, and share with 1-12 other "wholesome" blogs. Thanks again, Yvonne!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Accountability - The Churches Daily Chore

"But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
(Hebrews 13:5 - ESV)

The Greek word used in this verse for the word hardened is σκληρυνω (sklay-roo’-no.) It is used six times in the New Testament (Acts 19:9; Romans 9:18;Hebrews 3:8,13,15, 4:7) The basic meaning of σκληρυνω is "to make hard or to harden." It refers to being or becoming stubborn or obstinate.
Our hearts can harden very quickly. It does not take much for us to act in a very stubborn or obstinate manner. All to quickly we can shut out and ignore all that we know to be true in order to pursue a course of action or attitude that we know to be sinful. 
σκληρυνω in Hebrews 13:5 is used as an aorist, passive, and subjunctive verb. Basically this means sin is the culprit or the bad guy in this warning. The writer of Hebrews is driving home the point that we need to be regularly, and in this case daily, encouraged in our faith so that sin does not take the tiniest of opportunities and harden our heart. The passive voice of this verb gives the idea that this hardening is done to us. Sin makes our heart stubborn or obstinate if, this is why the subjunctive mood is used, we are not on our guard.
Sin is described as "deceitful." Even with all that we do:
  • Daily Devotions
  • Daily Bible Reading
  • Scripture memorization
  • Strategically placed verses, plagues, reminders, etc. 
  • Christian background music

...we can still fall short of staving off an attack of sin  as it desires to render our hearts stubborn or obstinate against all that we know to be godly and holy. Even doing all that we can do we still need to be accountable to someone and allow someone or many someones to encourage us each day.
Jerry Bridges in The Disciplines of Grace reminds us that the evil desires within our flesh constantly searches for opportunities to express themselves. He likens it to a radar system whose antenna is continually searching the environment around us for temptations which it can respond to. He reminds us that our flesh is always seeking an opportunity to gratify itself according to the particular sinful desires that each of us possess. 

Accountability is very rare yet it is so vital to our victorious living and mortification of sin. This hardness that can cause us to sin against God by becoming stubborn and obstinate can occur in a single unguarded moment.
Do you have someone who encourages you daily? Many of us have our spouse and we praise God for this. This passage suggests that this encouragement comes from someone from our local church. Who do you have that helps you, encourages you, and holds you accountable in areas such as diet, devotions, family, finances, or even sexually stimulating material?
Committing ourselves to daily encouragement is an invaluable tool in our fight against sin. Sadly, we face two devastating challenges concerning daily accountability. 
First - we must be willing to submit to daily accountability. We must recognize that we need daily encouragement to fight sin. I am not talking about the "sensational" sins like adultery, murder, rape, and the like. 
We need help especially with the "respectable sins." You know the ones that we "make respectable in various ways" so that we can commit them - like gossip, lying, envy, coveting, partiality, pride, or lust. 
Second - we must have a body that has been lovingly, patiently, and biblically taught the responsibility of daily encouraging each member. Sad to say most churches do not do this. Most churches do not encourage or confront during the week. It breaks my heart to say that the church at large rarely has this mindset or commitment. I long for someone to encourage me or hold me accountable to spiritual things  during the week let alone daily. How about you?

The lesson in our verse is found in the phrase "as long as it is called today." We need this accountability today. Soon we will be in the presence of God where we will live forever. Our spirits will be perfected and will be united with resurrection bodies. We will be perfect and not sin. We don't need encouragement or accountability then. We need it now while there is still time. Time before sin races in and renders my heart stubborn or obstinate. 

I pray for those of you who read this blog and leave comments. I pray that you are encouraged or exhorted daily by someone who loves you enough to risk your friendship in helping you with the mortification of sin and living faithfully before the Lord. Will you pray for me that God will supply regular if not daily exhortations for me in my battle with the flesh?

30 Days of Thanksgiving
I am thankful for the fact that God is absolutely Sovereign! God is my refuge, my fortress, and my rock. He is working out His plan in my life perfectly and according to His schedule. I am thankful that there is nothing that can hinder the plan and purpose of God for my life! Not even me! Not even you!