Sunday, September 30, 2012

Jesus Heals A Lunatic


TEXT: MATTHEW 17:14-20
THEME: The Object of faith
THESIS: The smallest of faith is effective when it is placed in the right object.
TEST: What is the object that makes faith effective?
TRANS: Our text describes three insights that define the object of effective faith.

A man was hiking along a fantastically high mountain side. On his left the mountain seemed to grow straight up into the sky. On his right was a cliff with a drop of several hundred feet. This man lost his footing and began to fall. Just as he began to fall he saw a branch sticking out of the edge of the cliff.

This man’s only hope of preventing his fall some hundreds of feet to the rocks below was to grab onto this branch. Now this branch was the man’s only hope and it was strong enough to support his entire weight.

Can this branch save him? Let’s say this man’s mind is filled with intellectual certainty that the branch will support him. If the man does not reach out and actually grab that branch he will fall to his death.

If this man’s mind is filled with doubts and uncertainty that the branch will hold him. If he is afraid that the branch will snap off or be pulled right out the mountainside, but he grabs it anyway and he is saved.

Why? Because it was not the strength of this man’s faith that saved him from falling. It was the object of his faith. The object of his faith was the branch.

Listen, strong, vibrant, exciting, and even zealous faith in a weak or dead branch is fatal. Weak faith, tiny faith in a strong branch can be salvation.

This means you don’t have to wait until you think your faith is large enough before you can begin attempting to serve God or belief God. That would be trusting in yourself at worst or trusting in faith at best. Working on the size of your faith before believing or trusting God would cause you to miss out on blessings, privileges, and opportunities given by God.

It is not the size of your faith, it is the object of your faith that works on your behalf to accomplish things.

The writer to the Hebrews stated, “…without faith it is impossible to please him…” (Hebrews 11:6, ESV.) There is no doubt that faith is essential to our Christian experience and life. In our human frailty influenced by sin we are prone to place our faith in wrong sources or objects. We are prone to place faith in ourselves, our abilities, our past accomplishments, or even in “faith” itself.

As a result, there are many times we attempt to serve God or do ministry with little or no “success.” We may mean well, we may even work very hard, while all the time we are simply spinning our wheels. It is important to remember that it is not the size or amount of our faith that is important. We must be clear on the source or the object of our faith.

Our THEME today is The Object of effective faith.

I propose to you today, that the smallest of faith is effective when it is placed in the right object.

What is the object that makes faith effective?

Our text describes three insights that define the object of effective faith.

Today’s passage is good for those who worry about the size or amount of their faith

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturdays with Spurgeon #008

"This do in remembrance of me."—1 Corinthians 11:24.
T SEEMS, then, that Christians may forget Christ. The text implies the possibility of forgetfulness concerning him whom gratitude and affection should constrain them to remember. There could be no need for this loving exhortation, if there were not a fearful supposition that our memories might prove treacherous, and our remembrance superficial in its character, or changing in its nature. Nor is this a bare supposition: it is, alas, too well confirmed in our experience, not as a possibility, but as a lamentable fact. It seems at first sight too gross a crime to lay at the door of converted men. It appears almost impossible that those who have been redeemed by the blood of the dying Lamb should ever forget their Ransomer; that those who have been loved with an everlasting love by the eternal Son of God, should ever forget that Son; but if startling to the ear, it is alas, too apparent to the eye to allow us to deny the fact. Forget him who ne'er forgot us! Forget him who poured his blood forth for our sins! Forget him who loved us even to the death! Can it be possible? Yes it is not only possible, but conscience confesses that it is too sadly a fault of all of us, that we can remember anything except Christ.

A Sermon(No. 2)
Delivered on Sunday Evening, January 7th, 1855, by the
REV. C. H. Spurgeon
At New Park Street Chapel, Southwark.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Missed Opportunities

The Challenger Disaster 

The Space Shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after take-off in January 1986. Subsequent investigation determined that the cause was failure of the O-ring seals used to isolate the fuel supply from burning gases. 
NASA staff had analysed the data on the relation between ambient temperature and number of O-ring failures (out of 6), but they had excluded observations where no O-rings failed, believing that they were uninformative. Unfortunately, those observations had occurred when the launch temperature was relatively warm (65-80 degF). They didn't test when it was cold. They missed opportunities for further testing.
Our own Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire said, "It's our responsibility to pass on what we inherited, not to squander it, but to build on it." She certainly was't referring to the Church or to Christianity, but, we do have a responsibility to pass on what we have inherited from Christ, not squander it, but to build on it.
Jesus, the Christ, said, "...teaching them to observe all that I,have commanded you..." (Matthew 28:20a, ESV)
I think there is nothing that grieves me more than to witness the proliferation of squandered opportunities in the church at large today. We think we are doing well because we "teach the bible three to four times a week" at our churches. I have seen many churches think they are doing well by teaching a book of the bible during the Adult Bible Class, another book during the Sunday Morning service, and yes another book of the bible on Sunday evening, and yes, another book of the bible on Wednesday evening. After all we are "Bible Churches" are we not? MacArthur says that all preaching should be verse by verse expository messages doesn't he?
Are we really doing well? Or, are we simply squandering opportunities? As I see it, depending on two to four weekly services dedicated to expositorily teaching a book of the bible is fraught with danger. I think the dangers are as follows: (This list is not exclusive nor is it in any order of importance)
  • Informational presentation of material is not always effective
  • These services tend to be, particularly Sunday morning and evening monologues rather than dialogues
  • Believers are at varying degrees of maturity
  • Believers learn and absorb biblical principles at different rates
  • Large gatherings of individuals with different levels of learning and skills "whither" by a shortage of "food and water" rather than flourish with hands on, sleeves rolled up, nitty-gritty training
I believe, and it breaks my  heart that we are missing at best or squandering at worst opportunities that God has given to us. I am so moved by the reminder that, " whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more." (Luke 12:48b-e, ESV) I believe that we have wasted God given opportunities to disciple various believers by thinking we are doing them a great service by forcing them into an arena of a methodology of presenting information from expositional teachings rather than by discipleship strategies.

I think we do need a good strong Sunday morning corporate worship and preaching service. During this time all believes from all ages, levels, and degrees of knowledge and spirituality come together to worship together. Rather than take this time to do a bible study, why not take the truths of Scripture in relationship to the church and teach the gathered church all that the church needs to know and do to be all that Jesus wants the church to be? 

Then, on Sunday evenings we can have a bible study. Here we can operate age-based Sunday school classes for children and youth, while the adults are taught expositionally through a bible study.

You say what about the mid-week bible study and prayer meeting? Ninety five percent of the ones I have seen over the last five years can be disbanded to no ones hurt.  This is just a suggestion but it does prevent squandering opportunities to disciple and pray rather than squandering those opportunities.

  • Monday evening - all church, corporate prayer (no study, just prayer)
  • Tuesday evening - Beginners discipleship for new or immature believers
  • Wednesday evening - Advanced discipleship for the maturing in Christ
  • Thursday evening - Intermediate discipleship for those in between
The Elders (leadership team) are responsible for training, developing, and shepherding. This way they all can be involved in the real development of believers rather than simply dispensing information. Also, most buildings are used relatively little during the week. This should shame us. All that investment sitting dark and empty accept for once or twice a week.

Naturally a program like this takes coordination, commitment, and courage. We preachers who love to pontificate may need to give up our two to three times a week exposition in favor of tailoring specific teaching to specific individual needs.

We need to teach our people how to pray, how to study their bible, how to share their faith, how to trust God, how to respond to trials, a biblical world-view, how to resist temptation, and more. In other words, we need to be about, "...teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you..." (Matthew 28:20a, ESV)

Today's post is based on a conversation with two dear friends, one in Tacoma, WA and one in Chicago, IL. We lamented the lack of discipleship that takes place today. I was asked my opinion and thoughts and after the past five years of observation, reading, and discussion these are my thoughts.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

There Goes the Neighborhood

NW Pastor/Husband Relieved Papyrus
Fragment Proved to be False

Had Professor Karen King of the Harvard Divinity School been correct in her identification of an ancient papyrus fragment that included the phrase, “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife,'" the life of husbands would never have been the same. This so called "find" shot around Christendom like a rocket. As a matter of fact it was reported that, "Within hours, headlines around the world advertised the announcement with headlines like “Ancient Papyrus Could Be Evidence that Jesus Had a Wife” (The Telegraph).

Stop and think about it husbands - what would that have done to the bar of being a husband? Setting the theological implications aside for the moment, don't you think this would have been disastrous? Do you remember the Keith Harling song, "There Goes The Neighborhood?" Let me refresh your memory. He sings,

What is that I see?
they're in the house across the street
a new couple just moving in
they're looking good-I hope they don't want friends

Then he sings a couple more lines and closes the first verse with, "Next to nothing, I was looking good!" Of course the whole idea behind his loquacious lament (that's for you Evret A.) was that this new boyfriend across the street by holding his girlfriend's hands, loving her cat, taking walks in the rain, and even working out would make Keith's girlfriend want him to do the same. Hence, there goes the neighborhood.

Think about it guys, would you want your wife to be able to compare you to Jesus, the husband? I don't mean to be blasphemous here but remember Jesus was via the incarnate one hundred percent man. Can't you hear it how, "Why can't you remember to take the garbage out? I bet Jesus' wife doesn't have to remind him." Well, of course not, he has perfect memory!

I dare say he would never put a Seahawks game ahead of "family time." I wouldn't think that Jesus would ever forget her birthday or their anniversary. I am quite sure that he would get all his dirty clothes into the hamper and never leave them lying around on the floor.

I don't know if I would go so far as Keith did and say that "Next to nothing I was looking good,"  but I assure you that it is intimidating enough as a believer imitating Christ in my daily life. I am certain I would fall short as a husband had I be required to imitate a married Jesus.

So husbands lets just say that with the papyrus fragment being denounced as a fake or a fraud, that we dodged a bullet! It is hard enough to hear my wife say occasionally, "why can't you be more like Jesus" as a believer. I am glad I won't be compared to Jesus the husband.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"The Church does not rest on man or on any number of men. And if the day should come - and personally I believe that some of the younger people here may see it - when a faithful man will be so scarce that you will have to hunt for him, and there shall be apostasy on the right hand and on the left, and the pillars of the Churches (not of the Church) give way on every hand, and it seems dark beyond all power of exaggeration, even in that day the Lord will say unto his people, 'I bear up the pillars of it. My Church is not dependent upon man. I live eternally and my eternal life is her eternal guarantee.'"

Archibald G. Brown,
Pastor, East London Tabernacle
"Who Bears the Pillars?", May 15, 1892

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Where are you Looking?

Over the last forty (40) years I have written a number of quotes, comments, pithy sayings, and poems in the fly-leafs of my bibles. Each Tuesday I am going to share those various entries from my bibles with you. I hope they will be as much of blessing to you as they have been to me. Sometimes I will be able to give credit where credit is due and sometimes I won’t be able to credit the source. I apologize for this to each one who contributed these gems over the last forty (40) years.

Today’s Treasure: 

If you want to be Distressed - Look Within

If you want to be Defeated - Look Back

If you want to be Dismayed - Look Ahead

If you want to be Distracted - Look Around

If you want to be Delighted - Look UP!

Monday, September 24, 2012

What's in Your Wallet?

There can be no doubt that this possessive clinging to things is one of the most harmful habits in the [christian] life. Because it is so natural, it is rarely recognized for the evil that it is. But its outworkings are tragic. 

A. W. Tozer

Right now that this very minute I have a $5.00 bill, three debit cards from my local credit unions, my AARP card (don't laugh), my disabled parking permit identification card, my Washington Driver's License, Safeway Club Card, Fred Meyers Reward Card, and a Wilco Membership card. Oh and I have a spare office key, spare house key, and a spare car door key in case I am locked out of one of those three places.

You ask why the inventory and the question? Wednesday, at our bible study we talked about "giving." Yes, I said the "G" Word. Of course a few of our members were raised under the erroneous idea that tithing was a new testament requirement. Thank God that Paul wrote two chapters to the Corinthians about giving. In I Corinthians 8 and 9 we have some very definite principles about giving.

My point is not to rehash the "tithe" "no tithe" argument. I write to encourage you to do as we concluded Wednesday evening, give from a grateful and humbled heart to those who have legitimate needs generously and cheerfully.

I don't have the gift of giving. My gift is teaching. However, at one point or another, every believer is encouraged, advised, admonished, and even instructed to exercise characteristics of all the gifts. This means, that even though my primary responsibility to the body of Christ is to teach the scriptures making them plain and clear, I am to give. I am to love to give and I am to worship God with and by my giving. That is why my wallet is usually empty or has a lone $5.00 bill.

This is not to my credit. Quite frankly I am just like you. I am prone to selfishness, self-centeredness, and sensuality. I would rather spend money on me, or my family, and for pleasure. The credit goes to God and to God alone who is constantly at work changing my heart from a heart that looks inward to a heart that looks outward.

I am glad we have reached chapters 8 and 9 in Corinthians. Martin Luther once said, "There are three conversions necessary: the conversion of the heart, mind, and the purse." I am not sure if that is really true or not, but it seems to be doesn't it?  At least it give us something to think about however!

Charles Spurgeon once said, " You say, 'If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.' You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled." I think that how we view our possessions and money is a barometer of our love, worship, and commitment to God. Let me encourage you today to do two things:

  1. Meditate heavily on II Corinthians 8:1-5, especially verse 2
  2. See what is in your wallet. If it is more than you need today, ask God for someone to invest in.
What is in your wallet?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sin is Inevitable

Due to circumstances beyond the control of this blog owner, the studies in I John will be continued next week, Lord willing. In the meantime, I would be pleased to be permitted to share this thought with you which came to me in my morning devotion.

"For it is necessary that temptations come..." 
(Matthew 18:7b, ESV)

It is amazing that Jesus would make such a statement. He of course made this statement because He is a realist and understands human beings. However, I think as we reflect on this statement there are at least two truths that should come to mind.

Truth # 1

God forbid, that I am the one by whom temptation (s) come to other people. I know that the residual sin which remains in my unredeemed body constantly attempts to lure me into sin. However, it is even more devastating that the enemy, his forces, this world's philosophies, or the residual indwelling sin could cause another blood bought child of God to sin. God takes sin very seriously and I believe we should take the reality that we are often the reason God's children sin as seriously.

Truth # 2

We can be responsible for fellow believers falling into temptation or sin by failing to lead them further into righteousness. We need to be aware of opportunities to assist our fellow brothers in Christ in the standards of God's righteousness. It is our responsibility to utilize every opportunity to teach others how to grow in their faith. Failing to do so is equal to allowing them to fall into temptation which can lead to sin. God forbid that we fail to anything possible to keep fellow believer's from sin.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Saturdays with Spurgeon #007

The Immutability of God

"I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed."—Malachi 3:6
t has been said by some one that "the proper study of mankind is man." I will not oppose the idea, but I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God's elect is God; the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father. There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can compass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content, and go our way with the thought, "Behold I am wise." But when we come to this master-science, finding that our plumb-line cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought, that vain man would be wise, but he is like a wild ass's colt; and with the solemn exclamation, "I am but of yesterday, and know nothing." No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God. We shall be obliged to feel—
"Great God, how infinite art thou,
What worthless worms are we!"

A Sermon(No. 1)
Delivered on Sabbath Morning, January 7th, 1855, by the
REV. C. H. Spurgeon
At New Park Street Chapel, Southwark.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Yes, Ma, We Have Missed Something!


Thanks for dropping by and taking time to read my blog. Thank you especially for your comment on yesterday’s post. Please allow me to respond.

For any believer to question the necessity of prayer or to suggest that prayer may be superfluous while worshipping a sovereign God demonstrates a lack of understanding prayer. Prayer’s design is not to be a tool given to believers to induce the God of this universe to become our butler or valet.

Prayer, first of all is a means of developing humble submission to our sovereign God as we seek His will in any matter. Prayer is a means that God has wisely given to us in order to submit ourselves to him. Without prayer we would be hard pressed to surrender and submit our selfish, stubborn, and sensual wills to God.

Second, prayer is designed to discover and join God in his will and purpose. There is no doubt that we may ask for what we believe we need or want. However, the Scriptures make it clear that we are to pray, “not our will be done, but thine.”

“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”  (John 14:13-14, ESV)

“If you abide in me, and m words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7, ESV)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:23, ESV)

Now, Ma, having read your blog I don’t believe that you misunderstand these words of Jesus. We would agree that this doesn’t mean that just because I wish for a new Cadillac, or a new Sea Swirl, or healing of my arthritis, or the immediate healing of my sister’s breast cancer that I can “pray for it, claim it, and expect to receive it.”
Don’t misunderstand me, when I have had cars in the past “die and give up the ghost” I have asked God to supply another source of transportation for us. I don’t think it is wrong to ask God to “heal” or remove a sickness or disease from ourselves or someone we love.

Jesus is telling us that we must “abide” or remain in supernatural fellowship with Jesus, His words (which represent His character and nature) must reside within which our thinking and reasoning. What happens when these things take place? As we truly “abide in Christ” and His word transforms our thinking, we will desire and ask for what Jesus desires and therefore we will pray or “ask” according to his words, and according to his nature or character. As a result our prayers will be pleasing to our sovereign God and he will give us these things.

The difficulty that we all face is because we are selfish, self-centered, and sensual people (even as believers) we fail to see prayer in this light. We think that if we pray hard enough, long enough, loud enough, and articulate enough we can change God’s mind and get him to give us what we want.

Unfortunately for this “one” to whom you made reference that is asking this very question answers your question of “are we missing something?” Yes, to ask this question demonstrates that we do not understand prayer either in its design or purpose. To ask this question or to question the necessity and/or validity of praying to a sovereign God is indicative of the fact that we have missed something vital concerning God and prayer.

First, neither God nor Christianity are fatalists. The bible does not teach the concept and attitude of “Que sera sera.” It is not a case of what will be, will be. However, God has determined certain things to take place in his progressive unfolding of his plan and purposes.

Second, biblical Christianity requires that we trust God, rely on God, and seek God through prayer. Otherwise James would have been terribly wrong at best and deceptive at worst when he wrote:

“The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16b) Paul would have been cruel or foolish to have commanded the Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing.” I Thessalonians 5:17, ESV) If God being absolutely sovereign would have negated any need of prayer, Jesus would have wasted both his and our time in teaching us how to pray:

“When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed by your name. Your kingdom come. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And leas us not into temptation.’” (Luke 11:2-4, ESV)

So, are we missing something? Yes! Most believers miss the fact that rather than God being an “automated vending machine in the sky,” he devised a purpose in prayer. Prayer is designed to bend our often insubordinate will to God’s will. Prayer is not designed to change God – prayer is designed to change us. Prayer is designed to change us from “not my will be done, but thine.” Just as David prayed “Incline (bend, push, stretch out) my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain,” (Psalms 119:36, ESV) we must ask God to “bend, push, stretch out” our hearts and wills to him through the vehicle and means of prayer.

Gospel-driven Disciples,
Gregg Metcalf

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Loss of Zeal for Prayer

 Read the following excerpt from Iain Murray's Archibald G Brown: Spurgeon's Successor and tell me what your heart shouts at you:

"A characteristic of revival is that hunger for the presence of God is seen as much in attention to prayer as in hearing the word of God. In a sermon already quoted from 1872, Brown reminded the people that the 'ten days' prayer meeting that preceded Pentecost continued afterwards, and he pleaded with his people,"

Let not your prayerfulness decline. The Pentecostal blessing we are now enjoying may be traced to our gatherings for prayer. It is not alone the preaching, it nothing of the man, it is your praying that has won the day. For five years you have flocked to the prayer meetings, as the world does to its pleasures. Let everything else go rather than the meetings for pleading with God. May this spirit of prayer - this pioneer of revival, be ours now and ever as a church.

Now, read this excerpt and what does you heart shout?

These prayer meetings were long to be remembered. Some thirty years later, about 1910, when Brown was no longer serving in East London, he came back to preach one Sunday, and recorded the following"

I was preaching in East London last Sunday morning, and I walked from London Bridge, and as I got a little way past the Mile End Gate, I saw a workman leaning against the wall.He touched his cap and said, 'Good morning, Mr. Brown; glad to see you in the neighborhood again. Going to the old Tabernacle?' I said, 'Yes', and he then went on, 'May I walk with you?' Going along he said, 'Are not things changed Sir? I have been thinking of thirty years ago. Do you remember how there was a prayer meeting every Sunday morning, and we used to walk there sometimes up to our knees in snow; yet there used to be two or three hundred there; now you cannot get people out of bed at 10:30 on Sunday morning.'

As he spoke of those old days how well I remembered them! At 7 0'clock on Sunday morning there were hundreds met for prayer. Rain, hail, or snow made no difference. They were all in dead earnest.

What has happened for the zeal for prayer? What do you think?

Iain Murray, Archibald G Brown: Spurgeon's Successor, p. 59-61

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Archibald G. Brown

A good friend of mine commented the other day that he hadn't been aware of Charles Spurgeon's successor at the Metropolitan Baptist Tabernacle after Spurgeon had died. As a matter of fact he said:

I have never given any thought to Spurgeon's successor. Didn't even know who he was or think anything of it.

If there ever were some tremendous "shoes" to fill, it would have been following Charles H. Spurgeon in the pulpit. I myself had not given much thought to the situation. Of course, Dr. Peter Masters was called to the ailing Tabernacle in 1970. He has done a marvelous job as pastor in this great church filled with such history.

I am reading a book for review from The Banner of Truth Trust called Archibald G. Brown: Spurgeon's Successor by Iain Murray. I love Iain Murray. I have over a dozen or more of his books. He is a great writer and a fantastic biographer. If you have never read Murray you are cheating yourself on two levels. First, he is an extremely interesting and very able writer. Second, his subjects are thrilling, uplifting, and true trophies of God's wonderful and amazing grace. Run, no, don't walk, run fast to your computer and go to or and  order several of Murray's biographies.

For those of you who are unaware of the immediate succession to Spurgeon's pulpit allow me to list it for you.

James Spurgeon, Charles dear brother and assistant at the Tabernacle assumed the duties of pastor immediately after Spurgeon died.Brother James did not have the abilities and skills of CHS (as he was affectionately known.) Thomas Spurgeon, twin to Charles, Jr. the son of Charles, Sr. was called to serve as pastor. Due to the differing gifts and abilities of Thomas and his ill health the elders and deacons thought it would be best to call a co-pastor to assist Thomas. 

Archibald G Brown was called from the East London Tabernacle to co-pastor with Thomas. Thomas took a year off to recover forcing all duties of the Tabernacle, College, Orphanages and other ministries to fall on Co-pastor Brown. Toward the end of the year that Thomas convalesced Brown was called as pastor of the Tabernacle.

From 1908 until 1911 Tab­ernacle flourished under his leadership. In 1911 health prob­lems forced him to resign, but he did not remain idle. From 1911 to about 1918 he devoted himself to evangelism. He finally laid his sword down on April 2, 1922. He was 78 years old.

Until receiving this book from The Banner of Truth Trust, I had never heard of Archibald G. Brown. I soon discovered that he was an early student at the Pastor's College founded by Spurgeon. He became a close friend and confidant of Spurgeon. He filled the pulpit for Spurgeon often and ministered closely with him. Brown went on to pastor the East London Tabernacle, second only in size and ministry to the Metropolitan Tabernacle itself. Brown was probably the dearest and closest friend to Spurgeon. What a ministry God allowed this man to have at both East London and the Tabernacle.

Here is quite an unsung hero that will certainly "buckle" under the gold, silver, and precious stones that will be his at the Bema Seat. Brown was not Spurgeon- he was his own man, or truly God's man. His ministry and legacy are equal to Spurgeon's from man's point of view. It is amazing to me that I never heard of him. I am so thankful to The Banner of Truth Trust for so graciously allowing me to read and review this book. I am on page 293 of a 405 page book. So stay tuned for the forth coming review.

Then you will never guess what The Banner of Truth Trust sent me. I will get to read and review the two-volume biography (by Iain Murray of course) of Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Kneeling In Order to Stand!

Over the last forty (40) years I have written a number of quotes, comments, pithy sayings, and poems in the fly-leafs of my bibles. Each Tuesday I am going to share those various entries from my bibles with you. I hope they will be as much of blessing to you as they have been to me. Sometimes I will be able to give credit where credit is due and sometimes I won’t be able to credit the source. I apologize for this to each one who contributed these gems over the last forty (40) years.

Today’s Treasure: 

He stands best, who kneels most;
He stands strongest, who kneels weakest;
He stands longest, who kneels consistently

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Success of Failing

Many times we as pastors need to be reminded that "success" in our ministries do not always come when we need or plan them. This valuable principle comes from Murray's book, Archibald G Brown; Spurgeon's Successor on page 46. Brown had preached on the text Luke 7:14 (Jesus' words to the Widow of Nain.) Brown was especially certain that great results would come from the powerful preaching of this text. Here is his comment:

I was so certain that there would be a number of conversions that I announced that on Monday evening I would be waiting in the chapel to converse with penitents. I was there, and I waited hour after hour, but not a soul came. At last I could bear it no longer and I went out to the back of the chapel and, flinging myself on the long rank, grass, I writhed in anguish of soul. I went home at 9 o'clock, worn out and feeling that I had been 'let down.'

Some years later he made this remark to some other men:

If you are cast down, remember it may be God's way of preparing you.

Success comes from God and in God's timing. We cannot dictate to or influence the Holy Spirit to produce spiritual results. The Holy Spirit is sovereign and He will apply the blood of Christ to the hearts of God's elect as He wills.

"The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. (John 3:8, ESV)

Iain Murray, Archibald G. Brown; Spurgeon's Sucessor, p. 46

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sundays In the Study BS12-005

The Fruit of Fellowship with Christ
A Series on the Fruit, Benefit, & the Joy of Walking With Christ

The Prologue:  The Reality of the Incarnation
John 1:1b-d
(Part II)

The Appetizer let’s stimulate interest

What is a foundation?
What does a foundation do?
How does a foundation differ from a cornerstone?
Why are foundations and cornerstones so significant?

The Adaptation – let’s adapt the appetizer to our lesson

Tonight I intend to continue to share with you what the Apostle John considered to be the heart, or the cornerstone of the gospel, namely, that eternal life has been made manifest in the historical incarnate Son of God.

The Argument – let’s discover the main idea of our lesson

This prologue sets forth as part of the cornerstone of the Christian Faith as the means or manner by which to test and expose false doctrine as John declares the reality of the apostolic encounter with the incarnate Word of Life since he heard Jesus Christ in the flesh with his own ears.

The Aim – the change you need to make as a result of this lesson

To challenge you to confidently accept John’s assertion that Jesus was truly incarnated in the flesh

Since he was real and not an allusion he is the only mediator between God and man – accept him as a mediator

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Thank God, God Doesn't Believe in "Free Will"

Saturdays with Spurgeon #006

I do not come into this pulpit hoping that perhaps somebody will of his own free will return to Christ. My hope lies in another quarter. I hope that my Master will lay hold of some of them and say, "You are mine, and you shall be mine. I claim you for myself." My hope arises from the freeness of grace, and not from the freedom of the will.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Metropolitan Baptist Tabernacle

Friday, September 14, 2012

He didn't...

70% of the earth is covered by water

80% of people live near water

90% of all trade travels by water

100%... Funny!

A minister is stopped by a state trooper for speeding. The trooper smells alcohol on his breath and sees an empty wine bottle on the floor.
The trooper asks, “Sir, have you been drinking?” And the minister says, “Just water.”
The trooper says, “Then why do I smell wine?” And the minister looks down at the bottle and says,
“Good Lord, He’s done it again!”

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Contemporary Church Movement

Rick McDaniel, in an article entitled, The Growing Contemporary Church, writes:

          “Walk in and hear rock music, see people wearing jeans and flip flops, and look at big video screens in church -- yes, in church. Messages that focus on sex, success and decision making are also common fare.

          Welcome to the contemporary church. The movement is a growing part of the Christian church and began more than 35 years ago outside Chicago, Ill. A young pastor named Bill Hybels founded Willow Creek Community Church, a new kind of church that focused on reaching people who had given up on church or never went.

          The contemporary church movement has radically impacted both the church and culture. Many of the new churches that start are contemporary and many traditional churches have added contemporary services. A whole generation of boomers and busters are now trying church and finding that the contemporary church meets their needs and       brings them closer to God. The significant increase of these churches is in large part responsible for the growth of mega churches. Many of the largest churches in America are contemporary including Willow Creek   and Rick Warren's Saddleback Church. While traditional churches are struggling with declining numbers, contemporary churches are rapidly growing.” ("Huffington Post," September 5, 2012)

Are we to think that the size or the “exuberance” exuded from these so called contemporary churches validates them? Does the size, or the growth rate, or the informality of an organization deem that organization to be something that pleased God?
I would argue no. First, of all, do not forget that not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord,” actually belongs to or even knows the one and true living God. Matthew is emphatic about that. Large crowds are no indication that people are truly believers.

We can ask Jesus about that. Large crowds followed Jesus at various times. However, when “push came to shove” and Jesus demanded absolutely loyalty, the bible tells us that, “After this may of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.” (John 6:66, ESV) The informal teaching of Jesus, the excitement of his ministry, and the supply of the peoples various needs caused great crowds to follow Jesus. When the chips were down, demands were made, and the miracles ceased, those very same crowds abandoned Jesus.
I have discovered that great crowds will temporarily follow for Jesus for four very distinct reasons. Great numbers of people followed Jesus because of:

The Multitudes –  people often attract people. Many personalities will tag along with a group or crowd simply because it is a large group or crowd. People want to be where the action is. After all, it is big, loud, and excitement who wants to miss out?

The Miracles – The spectacular always attracts people. People love the unusual or things that are out of the ordinary. After all, seeing blind men healed, or diseases cured, or people raised from the dead is exciting! The supernatural is always a greater drawing card.

The Meats – Poverty is no fun, neither is hunger. Free food attracts crowds. Feed between 8 and 20 thousand people on a couple of occasions and you will attract a crowd.

The Mystery - Almost all human beings are curious. They want to know first, what is going on, and secondly, why? Jesus was different. He was not a part of the religious system of his day. Many people followed him to find out who he was, what was he up to, what would he do, or how could he help them. Crowds gathered to see what was going on.

The unfortunate truth still glaringly blinds the eyes of those who follow for the wrong reasons.  

Very few it seems will follow simply for…The Master. When called to deny self, die daily, pick up a cross, and follow Jesus, fewer people choose to follow. What would happen if the contemporary church movement was called to deny the loud rock music, the how to be successful, happy, and wealthy sermonettes, couldn't wear jeans and sandals any longer and be called upon to die daily? Just wondering?

The contemporary church movement may offer some benefits to both society and Christianity. Simply attributing phenomenal growth to this movement neither validates it nor suggests that it has any connection to the Master. Barring any judgment or speculation of motives the jury still remains out on the contemporary church movement. We may have to wait until the smoke clears and see what wood, hay, and stubble is consumed and what gold, silver, and precious stone remains.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Book Review: Twelve Unlikely Heroes

Title:  Twelve Unlikely Heroes

Author:  Dr. John F. MacArthur

Publisher:  Thomas Nelson

First Copyright:  2012

Type of Book:  Hardback

General Subject Matter:  Biographical

Price:  $22.99

ISBN:  978-1-4002-0206-9

The purpose of this book is to expose twelve unlikely men and women that God chose to work through in a mighty or even miraculous way. MacArthur’s reason for publishing this expose is to give hope to all believers that God can use anyone to accomplish His purpose. MacArthur writes to show “that God delights to work through weak, imperfect and broken people in order to showcase His power, wisdom, and love.”

The theme of this book is the intimate portraits of ancient men and women. The thesis of this book is God uses ordinary men whom he empowers through this Holy Spirit to accomplish great things.

MacArthur uses both narration and exposition to develop his theme and thesis. MacArthur gives details and descriptions of each “hero” that he chose which gives us background and intimate information on each individual.

I found Twelve Unlikely Heroes to be a very interesting book. MacArthur’s research and information on each person he included in his book. He is very adept at revealing the complete person in each chapter by giving us an intimate and what is called a “three-dimensional” picture.

As usual MacArthur is extremely accurate in his portrayal of these unlikely heroes. He uses both Scriptural details and historical information to make these people come alive. This is an extremely important book for believes and Christianity.  Many believers labor under the false pretense that they can never be used by God nor do great things for him. The importance of this book is shown by the demolishing of this idea as each ordinary individual served by the backing of the Holy Spirit.

MacArthur is more than qualified to write such a valuable and important book. He is the Teaching Pastor of Grace Community Church of Sun Valley, CA. He is the President of Masters College and Seminary. He has written hundreds of books and is the author of the MacArthur New Testament Commentaries.

This book is a hardback book with an attractive dust-cover. I t has no pictures or illustrations.

This book has an epilogue, and an end note section. It has no index. There is no bibliography.

I thought the book was interesting and a very easy read. This book can be read during a long uninterrupted afternoon and evening. I would recommend this book to any level of believer. The information in the book will be helpful to all.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Marks of Total Surrender and Commitment

Over the last forty (40) years I have written a number of quotes, comments, pithy sayings, and poems in the fly-leafs of my bibles. Each Tuesday I am going to share those various entries from my bibles with you. I hope they will be as much of blessing to you as they have been to me. Sometimes I will be able to give credit where credit is due and sometimes I won’t be able to credit the source. I apologize for this to each one who contributed these gems over the last forty (40) years.

Today’s Treasure: 

Obedience to God's Word Means:
  • taking refugee in Christ for forgiveness
  • knowing Christ through the Word
  • serving Christ with a loving heart
  • doing good works in gratitude to Christ
  • experiencing self-denial for Christ
This is total surrender to God, His Word, and His Will!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Poll: Most Americans Would Vote for an Atheist

Would you vote for an atheist? According to a USA Today poll from June, 54% of those surveyed said that they would vote for a “well-qualified” atheist for President. According to a Gallup Poll is the highest percentage since 1958 which was only 18%.

Apparently an “imaginary” candidate passed the 50% marker for the very first time since Gallup surveyed the public in August of 2011. Looks like the numbers are trending upward.

"We have seen an enormous change over time in the willingness to vote for an atheist," said Karlyn Bowman , a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute  for Public Policy Research, which reports the numbers in its current newsletter. "But I think the numbers also remind us that this is a deeply religious country. That doesn't mean we are all going to church on Sunday, but that having religion in your life is valuable to most Americans and I think that explains the resistance."

Would you vote for an atheist?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sundays in the Study BS12-004

The Fruit of Fellowship with Christ
A Series on the Fruit, Benefit, & the Joy of Walking With Christ

The Prologue:  The Reality of the Incarnation
John 1:1a
(Part I)

The Appetizerlet’s stimulate interest

·        What is a cornerstone?
·        What does a cornerstone do?
·        Have you ever been part of the laying of a cornerstone?
·        Why is a cornerstone significant?

The Adaptation – let’s adapt the appetizer to our lesson

Tonight I intend to share with you what the Apostle John considered to be the cornerstone, or the very heart of the gospel, namely, that eternal life has been made manifest in the historical incarnate Son of God.

The Argument – let’s discover the main idea of our lesson

This prologue sets as a cardinal truth the cornerstone of the Christian Faith as the means by which to test and expose false doctrine as John declares the reality of the apostolic encounter with the incarnate Word of Life.

The Aim – the change you need to make as a result of this lesson

To challenge you to confidently accept John’s assertion that Jesus was truly incarnated in the flesh

Since he was real and not an allusion he is the only mediator between God and man – accept him as your mediator

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Guard Your Piety!

Saturdays with Spurgeon #005

Recollect, as ministers, that your whole life, your whole pastoral life especially, will be affected by the vigour of your piety. If your zeal grows dull, you will not pray well in the pulpit; you will pray worse in the family, and worst in the study alone. When your soul becomes lean, your hearers, without knowing how or why, will find that your prayers in public have little savour for them; they will feel your barrenness, perhaps, before you perceive it yourself.

 Your discourses will next betray your declension. You may utter as well-chosen words, and as fitly-ordered sentences, as aforetime; but there will be other times, even as Samson did, but you will find that your great strength has departed. In your daily communion with your people, they will not be slow to mark the all-pervading decline of your graces. Sharp eyes will see the grey hairs here and there long before you do.

Pastor Charles H Spurgeon,
Lectures to my Students, p. 10