Saturday, June 30, 2012

It's Your Turn - Question Number Two


My girls and I have been memorzing Ps 24. It's been good for me and is occupying my girls and I study together as well as many conversations with Bros. 

The more time I spend in it the more I see Christ. What do you think, or what insight could you supply?

Some questions I'm mulling:

What is the Psalm's ultimate theme?
Who is the HE that has clean hands?
What is the Blessing and who is the one receiving it?
Why does it say "O Jacob" in verse 6? Is this some name for God? Or something else?
Which generation is referenced in verse 6? Is this speaking of a time and a people? Or Just a certain period or just a certain group of people? 
What and where are the gates and doors? How do they have heads?



Charles Spurgeon wrote, "There should be some preparation of the heart in coming to the worship of God. Consider who he is in whose name we gather, and surely we cannot rush together without thought. Consider whom we profess to worship, and we shall not hurry into his presence as men run to a fire."

It seems that the main idea or the ultimate theme of this Psalm is David's description of the LORD's glorious entrance into the holy city of Jerusalem while preparing those who worship the LORD to prepare themselves correctly.

Psalm 24 is a hymn of praise that directs the heart of God's people to worship God in a way that emphasizes and recognizes the majestic glory of God. This Psalm may have been written by David when the Ark of the covenant entered Jerusalem, or an anniversary of its entering. This Psalm looks forward to and celebrates that day when God will enter the city of Jerusalem.

The one that has clean hands is the one who has been cleansed by the forgiveness of God. This refers to one who has exercised repentance and faith, one who has been justified by God's declaration, one who has the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ found in them.

The person who comes to God in humility, sorrow, repentance is the one that receives the blessing from God. God extends his blessing of forgiveness to those whom he vindicates. The blessing is God's goodness and and his favor.

Those who seek the Lord are compared to Jacob and his bold statement to God, "I will not leave Thee except thou bless me. David refers to this more than likely and he writes these, those who seek God are like Jacob of old who sought God and His blessing. Those who seek God's blessing are likened to Jacob who sought God's blessing. Like Jacob those who truly worship God, God's way are like Jacob. Jacob in this passage is not a name for God, just a reference to those who worship God properly.

Do not forget that the word for generation carries many meanings. It doesn't always referer to a particular period of time or people. The generation refers to this is the type of or race of or group of or kind of people who receive the blessing of God. All those types of people who seek the blessing of God and worship Him according to His glorious character and nature will receive the blessing of Gods' favor, grace, and forgivness.

David calls upon the city of Jerusalem to prepare itself for the entrance of God through her gates. The gates of the city are actually called upon to preprare themselves for the entrance of God. David simply used a literary device to personify attributes upon an inaminate object. God's glorious entrance into Jerusalem one day (in the form of Christ) will be so glorious that even the city gates of Jerusalem are to stand at attention and worship God. They city gates need to open themselves extremely wide for God to pass through. They only have heads because again David is personifying an inanimate object.

The questions that you need to be asking and answering are these:  

Do you recognize the sovereign rule of God over your life and over all of creation?
Do you have a "high view" of God and properly understand the holy position of God?
Do you enter into worship with cleansed hands and a clean heart in proper worship of God?
What steps do you take to "properly" enter the presence of our holy and glorious God?

True worship occurs when the whole person - mind, emotion, and will respond to God with reverence, humility, praise, and devotion.

Hope that helps,


Friday, June 29, 2012

It's Your Turn - Question Number One

Hi Gregg, Here's a question,

Does your wife share your knowledge of the Scriptures and don't mind people perhaps coming round for advice?



Irene has a level of scripture knowledge that is superior to the average person. The primary reason for this is that she is married to me. Unfortunately for her, she is often a "captive-audience." When I am "wrestling" through a text, I sometimes bounce it and my ideas off of her. She is often present when I am answering questions for other people and she "absorbs" the information I give in my answers. 

I am constantly teaching in all most every situation which enables her to hear a quite a bit of what I have learned. So you could say she has learned more by being around me than most people learn by their own personal study. She also studies scripture herself.

She rarely minds when people "come round for advice." Timing of course is everything. A few times it has been inconvenient. We have had our share of "2:00 AM" calls for help. Many times people call or come by at dinner time. However, Irene is a very patient woman and knows my love for teaching and has rarely interfered with my teaching regardless of the time, place, manner, or occasion.

However, I learned after awhile what to say to those "2:00 AM" phone calls. After I ascertained they were not true emergencies, I asked them if they had their problem before they went to bed. They usually answered yes. I then asked them if they would have the problem when they woke up? They usually said yes. I would say, well go back to bed then and I will help you tomorrow. I would then go back to bed.

Thanks for asking such great questions.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

It is Your Turn - Ask Gospel-driven Disciples

Periodically as a pastor and teacher of the Scriptures, I would open up a service to the congregation and encourage them to ask me any question they wanted to ask me. The question could be personal, procedural, pertaining to pertinent events, or about a passage of scripture that they needed more insight into.

So, having said that, I thought I would use yesterday and today in order to open the Gospel-driven Disciples blog and myself up to you. What is on your mind? What would you like to know about me, the Gospel-driven Disciples, or what Scripture would you like to have more insight into?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It's Your Turn at Gospel-driven Disciples - Day 2

Periodically as a pastor and teacher of the Scriptures, I would open up a service to the congregation and encourage them to ask me any question they wanted to ask me. The question could be personal, procedural, pertaining to pertinent events, or about a passage of scripture that they needed more insight into.

So, having said that, I thought I would use yesterday and today in order to open the Gospel-driven Disciples blog and myself up to you. What is on your mind? What would you like to know about me, the Gospel-driven Disciples, or what Scripture would you like to have more insight into?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Meaning of Faith

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.” (Hebrews 11:1-3, RSV)

Many people struggle with the concept of faith. The struggle usually stems from the fact that for many of us our faith at times can be very weak. Unfortunately many people are even misled in the understanding of where faith comes from and what  faith is based upon. We need to come to terms with the fact we cannot conjure up faith. We cannot manufacture it no matter how hard we try. Ephesians makes it clear that faith is a gift.

Secondly, many people tragically struggle with the dilemma of “believing as hard as they can.”  Some people are misled into believing that they have missed out on certain benefits or blessing because they didn’t have “strong enough faith.”

The author of Hebrews tells us what the foundation of faith is. Faith is trusting what God has said or promised because God is worthy of being believed or trusted. It is not the strength or measure of our faith that brings to pass what God has promised. It is the very character of God.

So, the writer of Hebrews tell us that faith is the assurance of having the very things hoped for (the promises of God) and a conviction of things being  brought to pass that haven’t yet occurred because they are based on God’s character. In other words, the things God has promised are as good as ours because they are backed not by the “strength” of our faith but they are backed by the character and nature of God. God does not and cannot lie. God tells the truth. God is faithful. Therefore what God has promised will be realized because God is the “backer.”

The next time you are wondering if you have believed hard enough or have enough faith, stop. Praise God that your faith in God will be rewarded because God, who promised, is not only faithful, but has the ability to fulfill each and every one of His promises.

Ask Yourself

The key thought from this scripture is that we believe because of the character of God. What God said He would do, He will do. God is the foundation or the basis of this type of faith. The bottom line is that you are to be so convinced of the truth of God’s promises that you regulate your entire life in this light. What are you trusting God for? What is the basis of your trust or faith? Why would you struggle with wondering if you “believe hard enough” when the fulfillment of God’s promises are not based on the strength of your faith. Rest in the that they are based on God’s character.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Here we go again!

Politikin' season is upon us again. The ads, sound-bytes, cartoons, and editorials are showing up everywhere you look. Politicians are trying to hide their record while attempting to convince you they stand for the same values as you.

Now it's only my opinion, but:

Evil men have no clue as to what is just, 
but  those who know the Lord get it!

Gregg Metcalf has served as the Teaching Pastor of Surprise Valley Baptist Church (Cedarville, CA) and the Mirror Lake Baptist Church (Federal Way, WA.) He graduated from Shasta Bible College in 1989. He is currently contemplating planting a church in the Pacific Northwest. Gregg is married to Irene and the Lord has blessed them with four daughters and four grandchildren. Gregg invites your comments and interaction concerning his posts and this blog!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

God - The Highest Good

“God is the highest good of the reasonable creature. The enjoyment of him is our proper; and 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. Better than fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of any, or all earthly friends. These are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean.”

― Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards,

Vol. 17: Volume 17: Sermons and Discourses, 1730-1733

Gregg Metcalf has served as the Teaching Pastor of Surprise Valley Baptist Church (Cedarville, CA) and the Mirror Lake Baptist Church (Federal Way, WA.) He graduated from Shasta Bible College in 1989. He is currently contemplating planting a church in the Pacific Northwest. Gregg is married to Irene and the Lord has blessed them with four daughters and four grandchildren. Gregg invites your comments and interaction concerning his posts and this blog!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

What Are You Living and Dying For?

I’d Rather Have Jesus

These words and this hymn written by Rhea F. Miller was such an influence on George Beverly Shea that they actually determined the direction of his life. As Shea developed a melody for these words he dedicated his entire life and singing talent to the service of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Shea had grown up in a Christian home. His devout parents, his father was a Methodist Pastor, often encouraged him to use his voice for the service and glory of the Lord. However family financial problems caused Shea to leave college and take a job in an insurance office. While working there he had an opportunity to audition for a singing position in New York City. He passed the audition and was offered a very good salary.

God had other plans! One Sunday as he set at the family piano, he saw a poem entitled I’d Rather Have Jesus. You see his mother had begun to leave spiritual poems, songs, devotions, and quotations around the house with the desire to influence her son spiritually. Shea was so moved with the words that he began to compose a melody. He sang the poem with his melody in his father’s church that very Sunday morning.

Shea had often stated, “Over the years, I’ve not sung any more than “I’d Rather Have Jesus,” but I never tired of Mrs. Miller’s heartfelt words.” Shea allowed those words to guide his steps and he served the Lord in song around the globe.

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold; 
I’d rather be his than have riches untold 
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or land. 
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hands

Chorus: Than to be the king of a vast domain
 or be held in sin’s dread sway, 
I’d rather have Jesus than anything 
this world affords today

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21, ESV)

What are you living for and 
what would you be willing to die for?
Gregg Metcalf has served as the Teaching Pastor of Surprise Valley Baptist Church (Cedarville, CA) and the Mirror Lake Baptist Church (Federal Way, WA.) He graduated from Shasta Bible College in 1989. He is currently contemplating planting a church in the Pacific Northwest. Gregg is married to Irene and the Lord has blessed them with four daughters and four grandchildren. Gregg invites your comments and interaction concerning his posts and this blog!

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Man From UZ

– Chapter One-
(written by Gregory D. Metcalf)
June 21, 2012

There was a man who lived in the land of Uz
He was extremely rich and happy because
He was deemed to be blameless and upright
He feared God turning from evil day and night

Born to him were three girls and seven sons
Sheep and camels, oxen and donkeys by the tons
Were his along with servants making him great
No other man in all the east had such an estate

Quite often his boys and girls would hold a feast
In the house of the oldest with wine and treat
Even then this man would show his dedication
Burnt offerings he gave with much trepidation

For this man feared his children might sin
They might curse God or worse forget Him
So this blameless and upright man did thus
For something deep inside told him he must

There was a day when all of the sons of God
Came to report their travels across this sod
All the angels were present at this meeting
Even Satan appeared with a sinister greeting

The Lord said to Satan “Where have you been?”
“To and fro”, said he, “from fair valley to den”
“I traveled the earth walking up and down on it
I have had quite a time I will soundly admit”

“Well,” said the Lord, “What think ye of my man?
There is no one like him anywhere in this land”
He is a blameless man , he is upright and fears
His God and hates evil in all that he hears

Satan turned to God and said with a sneer
No wonder this man has such reason to fear
You built a wall around him no one can scale
Your gifts and bribes ensure he dare not fail

In all he does you made yourself his nurse
Take it all from him and you will he curse
Then God said all he has is in your hand
Only take not his life this I command

So Satan left heaven and the face of the Lord
He knew what he would do when he got word
That the children of this man had thrown a feast
The pain he would bring would rise like yeast

The oxen were plowing and the sheep were there
When Sabeans attacked from out of nowhere
Servants fell by the edge of the sword and knife
Only one survived to speak of the loss of life

While his dark tale was being told another man came in
Telling of fire falling from heaven burning sheep and men
If that was not enough one came to tell of a Chaldean raid
killing camels and servants by the edge of the blade

With no time to absorb this news and feel his grief
A servant came to him with words beyond belief
While your childern sat in the house with their wine
A great wind struck the house killing all who came to dine

Then this great man of God while in deep despair arose
to shave his beard and in sorrow he tore his clothes
He fell on the ground and he worshipped his God
It was in deep sorrow he now knelt upon the sod

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb naked I’ll rot
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken all I’ve got
Blessed be the name of the Lord I will sing in song
In all of this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong”

Gregg Metcalf has served as the Teaching Pastor of Surprise Valley Baptist Church (Cedarville, CA) and the Mirror Lake Baptist Church (Federal Way, WA.) He graduated from Shasta Bible College in 1989. He is currently contemplating planting a church in the Pacific Northwest. Gregg is married to Irene and the Lord has blessed them with four daughters and four grandchildren. Gregg invites your comments and interaction concerning his posts and this blog!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

What Is In a Name?

The Significance of Names

By the very fact that a name appears in the Bible over a thousand times demonstrates some theological significance. In “bible days” a name was not merely a label or how your mom called you to supper. A name was equal to whomever or in some cases whatever carried the name. A name often represents character, reputation, authority, or even power.

For example:

“Let not my lord regard this worthless fellow, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name, and folly is with him.” (I Samuel 25:25, ESV)

Giving a name to anyone or anything was tantamount to owning or controlling the person, animal, or object. (Gen 1:5, 8, 10; 2:19-20; II Samuel 12:28.) Changing a name often signified a higher promotion or social status. Even today in Orthodox Judaism a name of an extremely sick or even dying individual is changed in hopes that the new name will bring health or recovery. Of course we know that the “blotting out” of a name was equal to destroying or considering someone “dead.” (II Kings 14:27; Isaiah 14:22; Zephaniah 1:4; Psalms 83:4)

The name and the character/nature of God are often used interchangeably. Believing in Jesus name is the same thing as believing in him, (John 3:18.) Prayer in Jesus name is not a magical formula or the means to end a prayer, but it signifies that one is praying in accordance with the character, the mind, and/or the purpose of Jesus.

Take my name for example: Gregory, which is my first name, is a common masculine first name. It is derived from the Latin name “Gregorius,” which is from the Greek name “Gregorios.” Gregorios means “watchful” and it comes from the Greek word gregorein which means “to

"Watch [gregoreuo] and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The Spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matt 26:41, ESV)

The name Gregory is also associated with a Latin stem “greg” which means flock or herd. So the name became associated with a shepherd who diligently watches over or guides a flock of sheep.

I use to hate my name. The kids would make fun of it in a number of ways.  I learned to shorten my name to Gregg by the sixth grade in hopes it wouldn’t give other kids any other ideas.

However, since I studied the bible and Greek and discovered what my name meant, I have been very surprised at the “coincidence” of my name and profession. I am a very cautious watcher and take tremendous care when it comes to bible doctrine and teaching. I am a shepherd who has and is planning on watching very diligently over a flock of sheep in the near future.

What does your name mean and signify?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I Am Mad as Heck!

Righteous Indignation

I am mad as heck! Well mad really isn’t that right word since “mad” is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit. I guess a better word would indignant. The Greek word for indignation is αγανακτεω (ag-an-ak-teh’-o) which means “to be indignant, moved with indignation, be very displeased, or to be vexed.” So, you can say I am terribly indignant or I am very displeased. You say, what in the world has gotten you so worked up?

I picked up Charnock’s book again to continue reading on “regeneration.” Charnock’s discourse, “A Discourse of the Efficient of Regeneration” is based on the text of John 1:13;

“Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:13)

Charnock’s thesis is that the human will is incapable of “renewing” itself or from even participating in the renewal process. In other words, he proposes that renewal, i. e. salvation, is absolutely of God. Charnock purports that man cannot will himself or choose to be renewed because of the soul’s utter incapability. He builds this case under the heading of “Let us now see wherein this weakness of our wills to renew ourselves doth appear. He lists the following reasons: (It = soul) 
  • It is totally morally unfit for this work
  • It is totally unwilling
  • It has affections to something contrary to the gospel
  • It has a strong aversion and enmity to the tenders of the gospel
  • It resists renewal
  • It is aided by the power of Satan 

You say what has gotten you so worked up and indignant? Please hold on and be patient I will get to it.

But listen to Charnock for a moment, “How great, then, is man’s inability! How unreasonable is it to think that the will of man possessed with such unfitness, unwillingness, affection to other things, aversion to the gospel, resistance of it, and in the devils net, can of itself do anything towards its recovery, from that is counts no disease; or to turn to that which it accounts its burden? If unspotted and sound nature did not preserve Adam in innocency, how can filthy and crazy nature recover us from corruption?

Charnock goes on to prove this paragraph with five (5) bullet point explanation: 
  1. Man cannot prepare himself for grace
  2. Man cannot produce grace
  3. Man cannot co-operate with God in the first work
  4. Man cannot preserve grace
  5. Man cannot actuate grace 

I wish I could either, type all that Charnock had to say about this subject, or explain all of his points. Since I am adverse to lengthy posts over five-hundred (500) words I am going to forgo either choice. Suffice it to say I almost had to take my shoes off as I began to walk on holy or hallowed ground.

So, what made me so indignant? Those folks (you know who I mean) who say that any man who is dead in sin, depraved, and absolutely incapable of renewing himself can exercise his will and believe in order to be regenerated made my blood boil. To deny irresistible grace or to deny that God must first renew or regenerate new life giving this new life the capability to use the gift of faith and believe is to deny the working of the living and true God in the work of regeneration and regeneration. This is what made me so indignant. There is no way that one can represent the living and true God and put forth the idea that man can exercise his “will” and cooperate with God in regeneration.

I will get over this righteous indignation at the despising of the biblical doctrine of grace. I will count those who do so as brothers and love them with a Christ-like love that demonstrate the fruit of the Holy Spirit or give evidence that God has provided redemption in spite of erroneous beliefs.

I am overwhelmed that God worked through His Holy Spirit as a result of accepting the sacrifice of His dear Son to overcome my deadness and resistance and regenerate life in me in order that I might utilize the gift of faith given to me by God in order to repent and trust the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Book Review: The Works of Stephen Charnock

Title:  The Complete Works of Stephen Charnock
Author:  Edited & Originally published by Richard Adams and Edward Veal
Publisher:  The Banner of Truth Trust
First Copyright Date:  1864
Type of Book:  Hardcover, paper-jacketed, Five (5) Volumes
General Subject Matter:  Theology, Christian Life
Special Features:  None
Price:  $129.00
ISBN:  978-1-84871-100-6

Since the author never published his works, save one sermon entitled “On the Sinfulness and the Cure of Evil Thoughts,” it is impossible to detail the purpose of Charnock for the writing or publishing of this monumental work. However, from the comments to the reader by the editors Adams and Veal, we can deduce that they believed that the material of these some sixty-four (64) sermons or discourses are of such great spiritual weight that the church would only immensely benefit by their publication.

“So that thou hast here, reader, a specimen of the strain and spirit of this holy man, this being his familiar and ordinary way of preaching, and the sermons coming out first…that a blessing from heaven may be upon this work, and upon thee in reading and studying the nature, and beauty…” (Adams and Veal)

In the words of J.I. Packer, "Charnock has no desire to speculate, but only to declare the works and ways, the nature and character, of the God of the Bible."

Charnock developed these messages or discourses from intense study, prayer, and meditation. He then would preach these discourses from memory or with very little notes. Charnock’s design was to inform, inspire, and integrate his flock’s heart and soul with the divinely inspired word of God. His intended audience was his flock and any all believers who bend their heart and soul to the Spirit of God.

The style of Charnock was very didactic. He seems to put as much weight and meaning into each and every word as He could. His style is formal and of the time and period of the early to mid-17th century.

In evaluating Charnock’s style it is easy to see how clear, concise, and very forceful. When I say forceful however, I mean backed by the power of the Holy Spirit and by their belonging to God. The table of contents gives almost no clue as to how the volumes are organized other than by the tiles of the sermons. This is not a regular book where main ideas and sub-points are developed. There is no determining or detecting topical or chronological points.

These volumes affected me very deeply. I used Mortimer J. Adler’s second level of reading, called Inspectional Reading, from his book How to Read a Book. I used his format of systematic skimming or pre-reading to familiarize myself with these five (5) volumes. These sermons are very deep and need to be read many times to get the full benefit. They certainly improved my spiritual life by reading them. This collection of Charnock’s volumes enhanced my own personal spiritual understanding and course. I would recommend this set without a single reservation to any Christian of any level who will honestly take the time to prayerfully and meditatively read this discourses.

It is impossible to discover a theme and thesis for this collection. Again, it is unlike other books written with specific themes or thesis, it is a collection of sermons or discourses on varying topics and scriptures. The reader must discover the theme and thesis of each sermon or discourse as one reads them.

This collection is of utmost interest. Charnock accurately exegetes the Scriptures for the benefit of his readers. The importance of this work cannot be overstated in this lifetime. The spiritual value contained in this collection is second only to the Bible itself.

Very little is known about Stephen Charnock, much to his own design and desire. A smidgen of information about Charnock was gleaned from the sermon preached at his death and from a brief pre-fix entitled “To the Reader” by the publishers Adam and Veal. He even disappeared from the grid for about fifteen (15) years. As a godly man and theologically educated he is immensely qualified to preach as he did.

Charnock was born in London in 1628 and studied for the ministry at Emmanuel College in Cambridge. He preached in Southwark, England. Charnock then took more education at Oxford. He served in Ireland as a chaplain to Henry Cromwell. He returned to London in 1660. Here he studied and ministered privately until 1675. He then shared the pastorate with Thomas Watson in Bishopsgate. Charnock died in July of 1680 at the age of fifty-two (52.)

There is a subject and scripture index at the end of volume five (5). There are a few notes at the bottom of the pages of each sermon for explanation or definition. There is no foot-note or end-note page as these are sermons. There is no bibliography.

In summary, I am still being blessed by the depth of study and information contained in these five (5) volumes. The content is essential to the spiritual well development of God’s people.

Volume One – contains an introduction to Charnock’s life, the first eight (8) sermons on The Existence and Attributes of God.

Volume Two – contains the conclusion to the sermons on The Existence and Attributes of God.

Volume Three – contains his sermons on regeneration. This is a must read! This tells how spiritually dead sinners are made alive with new life in Christ.

Volume Four – contains fifteen (15) more sermons pertinent to the Christian life. The first six (6) sermons are from the Gospel of John and relate to enjoying happiness in the saving knowledge of God through Jesus Christ.

Volume Five – contains nineteen (19) sermons from the New Testament and five (5) sermons from the Old Testament on various topics pertinent to believers.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Happy 39th Anniversary

Gregory Dean Metcalf 
Irene Hernandez Torres

June 18,1973 - June 18, 2012

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Christian Consistency

The most difficult part of being a Christian is being consistent. We are expected to be consistent with our claim of being a Christian. The unsaved especially look for and revel in the discovery of any inconsistency in our walk with the Savior. We know that there are inconsistencies in our lives. We grieve over them and we rest in the power of the Holy Spirit to deal with those inconsistencies. Thank God for the ever-abounding grace that renders those inconsistencies and hypocrisies impotent as the enemy throws them in our face.
~~Gregg Metcalf
(Feb 3, 1955 -)

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Difficult Prayer

Do you pray as one who truly trusts in God’s eternal decrees? The Westminster Shorter Catechism says,

“The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath fore-ordained whatsoever comes to pass.”

Do we really mean it when we say, “Thy will be done?”

If it be consistent with thy eternal counsels,

the purpose of thy grace,

and the great ends of thy glory,

then bestow upon me the blessings of thy comforts;

If not, let me resign myself to

thy wiser determinations.

"The All Good," Valley of Vision
Ed. by Arthur Bennett

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Equipping Ministry of the Local Church Part Two

Checking the Vitals

“You then, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus; and what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well.” (II Timothy 2:2, RSV)

The last place I thought I would have trouble sleeping would be the hospital. After all, rest is usually a major part of recovery, especially from major surgery. After visiting my dear friend Mike Ripplinger last week, I was reminded how often hospital personnel would come to check your vital signs. I remembered when I spent eight (8) days in the hospital for an emergency thoracotomy that nurses would come all night long and wake me up to see if I was in any pain and to check my vitals.

Churches should be as diligent as most nursing staffs when it comes to checking their vitals. For any church as well as individual believers, in order to fulfill its nature and achieve its purpose, churches must be committed to the tasks of ensuring that their members are: 
  • Growing in personal Christlikeness
  • Contributing to the building up of the body of Christ
  • Functioning as God’s servants in the world 

Equipping the saints to perform the work of ministry is an on-going dynamic and purpose-oriented concept and commitment. Believers must be enabled to achieve God’s purposes. However many churches fail to keep a finger on the pulse of their overall mission and vision which allow the church to become mere rest or comfort stops on the “journey toward heaven.”

One of the first steps in becoming or remaining on target to a true biblical mission or vision is examining the vitals of the preaching ministry of the church. Preaching must: 
  • Deliberately strengthen believers in the faith
  • Grow believers toward biblical ideals/values
  • Prepare believers toward participation in ministry/service 

The job then of the leadership is to prepare God’s people for the work of service so that the body is built up. Leadership must prepare believers for a “job.” Leadership must render believers functional. It should go without saying, although I will say it to head off any objections or negative comments – as leadership strives through the preaching/teaching ministry to render believers functional utmost dependence upon the Holy Spirit is an absolute must.

As a result, the meeting place or the facilities where the local body gathers must become like an “armory” where Christian “soldiers” assemble for: 
  • Encouragement
  • Fellowship
  • Training
  • Development of strategies
  • Reception of instruction
  • Worship

 Then the equipped/instructed worshipping believer scatters back into the community to transmit what he/she has been learned. The Apostle Paul was taught by the Lord, Paul then taught Timothy; Timothy was to teach others, who would then teach others.

Individual churches must have policies in place that facilitates the carrying out of its purpose, its mission statement. The structure must ensure that the equipping ministry is dynamic and active. Individual churches must keep their “fingers on the pulse.” They must check their vitals.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Equipping Ministry of the Local Church Part I

The Challenging Comma

It might come as a surprise to many who regularly read their bibles to learn that many of the ancient Greek copies of the New Testament contained no punctuation marks. It might also surprise some to learn that the chapter and verse divisions were not part of the original autographs or the copies that our translations have come from. The first English version of the New Testament to utilize chapter and verse divisions was made in 1557.

When one studies scripture it is a given fact, that one will engage in what we know as “interpretation.” We must begin with the premise that there is “no private interpretation” of Scripture. We must apply certain hermeneutical rules in order to arrive at the meaning of the text intended by God and the author of a particular text. Normally we begin with observation. We observe everything we can from a particular paragraph of Scripture. After careful observation of words, phrases, nouns, historical background, cultural references, and the occasion we move to interpreting what we have observed. Observation answers the question of what did the text say and interpretation answers the question of what the text mean did? We then move from interpretation to application; this answers the question of what do I now think or do about what I have observed and interpreted.

Periodically we will come to some interpretative challenges as we study our text. One challenge we may encounter includes the placement of certain punctuation marks. One such challenge that many believers and especially churches have is where to place the comma in Ephesians 4:11.

Many translations unfortunately have a comma which separates “saints” from “the work of the ministry.” This misplaced comma has been called the “fatal comma.” If you leave out the comma, the verse reads like this:

“And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, FOR THE EQUIPMENT OF THE SAINTS FOR THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY…” (Ephesians 4:11, RSV)

Many translations read:

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ….” (Ephesians 4:11, ESV)

Why is this “comma” of such importance? The work of the leadership of the local church is to prepare God’s people to serve and to minister. Many churches believe that when the “hire” a minister or pastor it becomes his job to do the work of the ministry. Many Elders or pastors find themselves do all the work, such as preaching, teaching, baptizing, visiting, evangelizing, and representing the church. Understanding the passage correctly it becomes clear that as the leadership trains, develops, prepares, and/or equips Gods’ people, the congregation is responsible for the work of the ministry.

Two monumental mistakes are made when the burden and expectation of all the work of the ministry is to be done by the pastor (s).

First, performance expectations are greatly skewed which leads to devastating results. In other words, pastors are expected to live up to a standard of performance. If he does he is praised and “kept” if he doesn’t he is typically “fired” or let go. Secondly, the pastor becomes a “private chaplain” to a congregation. Since his “salary” or support comes from the congregation he is expected to minister to them primary or in total as the congregation sees fit and the community remains unreached.

The work of Christian leadership is clearly defined as the preparing of God’s people to minister.

To be continued…

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Post All About Nothing!

The Blank Page

What is the deal? I awoke on my own this morning rested and refreshed at 3:30 AM, Pacific Coast Time. I decided to get up and after a long hot shower I dressed and walked over to my study. I pushed the “on” button on the coffee pot, unlocked my office door, and sat down at my desk.

I turned up the radio for some old-fashion and/or traditional Christian music, checked my emails, Face Book, and my on-line banking program (for any fraudulent usage-I already knew the so called balance.) Was it Seinfeld who said the banks often encourage you to let your money work for you in their institution? Well, my has taken a vacation it seems.

Then I went to Microsoft Word 2010 and thought this would be a perfect time to write today’s post since I am behind. Normally I like to write my posts up to thirty (30) days in advance. Try as I might there is nothing there but a white page staring at me. What is worse, it’s blank, except for that blinking black line.

For all of the information I possess, all the sarcasm, wit, and all the useless trivia I have soaked up, I got nothin’! Hold on a minute, looks I discovered the problem. My coffee cup is empty again. Let me go fill it up. Be right back.

Back! Hmmm, that’s good coffee! Rats! That wasn’t the problem, still got nothin’! It’s 5:18 AM and the morning is rushing by. I can share this with you it is 55 degrees, with a slight north wind, the humidity is 72%, the dew point is 47%, visibility is ten (10) miles, and sunrise is at 5:20 AM this morning. Oh wow, there it is!

For now, I got nothin’!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Maybe There is Hope for Me

Even an Apostle is not Always a Saint!
By Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY:  One of the toughest tasks a church faces is choosing a good minister. A member of an official board undergoing this painful process finally lost patience.

He’d watched the Pastoral Relations Committee reject applicant after applicant for some fault, alleged or otherwise. It was time for a bit of soul-searching on the part of the committee. So He stood up and read a letter purporting to be from another applicant.


Understanding your pulpit is vacant, I should d like to apply for the position. I have many qualifications… I’ve been a preacher with much success and have had some success as a writer. Some say I’m a good organizer. I’ve been a leader most places I’ve been.

I’m over 50 years of age. I have never preached in one place for more than three years. In some places I have left town after my work has caused riots and disturbances. I must admit I have been in jail three or four times, but not because of any real wrongdoing. My health is not too good, thought I still get a great deal done. The churches I have preached in have been small, though located in several large cities. I’ve not gotten along well with the religious leaders in towns where I have preached. In fact, some have threatened me and even attacked me physically. I am not too good at keeping records. I have been known to forget whom I have baptized. However, if you can use me, I shall do my best for you.”

The board member looked over the committee. “Well, what do you think? Shall we call him?”

The good church folks were aghast. Call an unhealthy, trouble-making, absent-minded ex-jailbird? Was the board member crazy? Who signed that application? Who had such colossal nerve?

The board member eyed them all keenly before he answered, “It is signed…

...The Apostle Paul.”

~~Author Unknown

Sunday, June 10, 2012

If we do not abide in prayer, we will abide in temptation. Let this be one aspect of our daily intercession: ‘God, preserve my soul, and keep my heart and all its ways so that I will not be entangled.’ When this is true in our lives, a passing temptation will not overcome us. We will remain free while others lie in bondage.
~~John  Owen

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Friday, June 8, 2012

When "Work" is Fun!

Whew! What a project!

I spent the entire day yesterday and half of day checking in the books Harold gave me into a computer book library/inventory program and then integrating them into my current collection of books. That necessitated rearranging my shelves, reorganizing the shelves and sections, and then making some room in my “office.”

Mind you I am not complaining! I loved every minute of handling those “new” books and finding homes for each of them. I was gifted with several MacArthur Commentaries,  a D. Edmond Heibert commentary, the entire set of Sheldon’s History of the Church, and a number of books on “Evangelicalism, regeneration,  and a number of other assorted topics, a book on William Carey, and also the diary of David Brainerd to mention a few.

No questions remain now about my summer reading list. I still have to read the five (5) volume set of The Works of Stephen Charnock. Now I have about twenty (20) new books to read. In addition to Charnock I think I will start with The Rise of Evangelicalism: The Age of Edwards, Whitefield, and the Wesleys by Mark A. Knoll

Thank you again Harold Turpin!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

I Just Want to Praise the Lord!

Heavenly Father, I thank thee…

There is a popular song from the early 1990’s collection of “7-11” music that begins with I Just Want to Praise the Lord.* It is a catchy little tune, shallow in theology, with a man centered theme. Yet as I was praying and this phrase entered my heart and I began this morning by praising God I wanted to take a short break from regular posts and I just want to humbly bow before our God and praise the Lord. I want to praise God for:

  • Our Buick being mechanically sound enough for a 250 round trip visit to Federal Way
  • For safety and protection while driving to Federal Way and back
  • For the opportunity of spending time with Mike and Esther Ripplinger
  • For being able to see Gary and Cheryl Stark
  • For being able to stop by the home and visit with Harold and Pam Turpin
  • For the thirty-five (35) books worth nearly $500.00 Harold generously added to my library
  • For the six (6) years we were privileged to spend in Federal Way ministering to the folks of the Mirror Lake Baptist Church
  • For sparing Mike and sharing him with us
  • For my wife who has stood by me and followed me these 39 years come June 18th
  • For choosing me freely for no other reason than His good pleasure before the foundation of the earth was laid to be foreknown by God, predestined by God, called by God, justified by God, and eventually to be glorified by God ALL THRU HIS SON, OUR SAVIOR, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST TO WHOM HONOR, GLORY, AND POWER BELONG FOREVER AND EVER! AMEN!
There are so many more things to praise God for, but these come to mind and have overwhelmed me this morning. My heart explodes with joy, thanksgiving, and praise to our magnificent, majestic, and merciful God!

©1992 Word Music, Inc. (Admin. by Word Music Group, Inc.) Maranatha! Music (Admin. by The Copyright Company)
All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
CCLI song #1406396

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Can We Talk?

Pet Peeve Number Three

I had a doctor’s appointment at the VA hospital in Portland Oregon yesterday. Fortunately I was able to drive the 40 some miles to the Vancouver (WA) Medical Center and take the VA Shuttle bus to the Portland facility. I was glad to leave the driving and the parking to them.

On a 40 some mile drive I spend some time in prayer, thought, and listen to OPBR (Oregon Public Broadcasting Radio.) I turned on my car radio during an interview between a broadcaster and the clothing designer from the television show “Mad Men.” I have never heard of the show before, have you? The interview sounded interesting and since I left my collection of George Jones at home I decided to halfway listen.

Apparently Mad Men is an American dramatic television series created and produced by Matthew Weiner. The series airs on Sunday evenings on the American cable network AMC and is produced by Lionsgate Television. It premiered on July 19, 2007, and is currently broadcasting its fifth season.

Mad Men is set in the 1960s, initially at the fictional Sterling Cooper advertising agency on Madison Avenue in New York City, and later at the newly created firm Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

The focal point of the series is Don Draper (Jon Hamm), creative director at Sterling Cooper and a founding partner at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, and the people in his life, both in and out of the office. As such, it regularly depicts the changing moods and social mores of 1960s America.

Apparently the “interviewee” was the “wardrobe goddess” for the show. She was responsible to clothe the characters in the period and in accordance with their positions and status in society at the time. I mention this for two (2) reasons. The first is apparently she is a “gabardine genius,” a “clothing consoeur,” a “wardrobe wizard.” She has won awards for her “vestment victories.”

The second reason I mention it at all is she “legitimized” my pet peeve, number 3. She was asked by the host, who was somewhat surprised by her answer, since she used such “formal” clothing on the set what did she think of the modern day trend of “casual?”

Her answer could have been mine. She thought we have gone way to far today in what we actually leave the house wearing. She thought that society as a whole no longer chooses appropriate clothing for appropriate settings. She thought casual clothing in certain arenas: 
  • Demeaned the wearer
  • Demeaned the event or setting
  • Removed credibility from “offices” and positions
  • Showed either a hidden or blatant disrespect 

Let me say those are my words in which I paraphrased her answers. However, I believe my paraphrased remembrance from the broadcast of yesterday is accurate. I think I am being honest.

What’s my point? My point is this; why can’t we as depraved, sinful, unworthy, wicked, light-hating, darkness loving, mercifully redeemed sinners who allegedly gather to give worship, honor, and glory to a most holy and majestic God get what this secular, unbelieving wardrobe wizard gets? Why are auditoriums filled with shorts, tank tops, holey jeans, and T-Shirts on people who are there to exalt the sovereign, edify the saint, and evangelize the sinner?