Archive for the ‘Devotion’ Category

Redeeming Words

My new blog project exists to redeem Christian terminology from misuse and misunderstanding.

Check it out: Redeeming Words

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Easy to Believe?

Easy to Believe?

The old rugged cross on which Jesus died
Is foolishness to those not made alive
Its bloody details cause them to grieve,
And you say it is easy to believe?

The Greek thinks it nonsense to accept the risen Christ,
The skeptic thinks the disciples pulled off the greatest heist
The New Atheist wishes all Christians would leave
And you say it is easy to believe?

To the Jews it is a block of stumbling,
It provokes the educated toward grumbling,
A story no one could ever conceive,
And you say it is easy to believe?

The Lord invited man to take up his cross,
To count the cost and consider all things loss –
Things the natural man cannot receive,
And you say it is easy to believe?

The scriptures say salvation is of the Lord,
A supernatural work man’s hands cannot afford
To think man can raise the dead is very naive,
The results of these methods can only deceive

Regeneration is the work of the Spirit,
Otherwise men would never hear it
You say that it is easy to believe?
Saving faith is only something God can achieve!

Taking a Stand: A Rant

standPlease excuse the incoherency and lack of flow in this post, but I’ve got a few things to say.

I’ve been slacking a bit in blogging, but I think that’s ok. In the meantime, I have posted a few things on the King James Only blog, and, as a result, posts about that topic will be exclusive to that website, for the most part. This will allow me to focus on other topics. I’ve also been lurking around other blogs recently, and a few things have come to my attention. So I’ll make some comments. After all, small-fry bloggers like me have opinions that really matter, right?

The concern over the “YF Reformation” (if I can coin the term) is not diminishing at all. The demographic of 18-35 year old Christians who are tied to fundamentalism in some way (the Young Fundamentalists, “YFs”) is undergoing a major facelift in recent years.

And we YFs haven’t been silent about it. Those who are against the shift haven’t been either. The blogosphere has added significant volume to all our insignificant voices, as well as popularized diatribes and analyses by influential leaders of both camps. Currently, there’s much ado over Dan Sweatt and the FBFI. John MacArthur and Mark Driscoll. Peter Masters’ assessment of this movement. Colin Hansen’s Young, Restless, and Reformed is still being discussed. And of course, commentary on all of these issues abound from pastors and lay leaders alike.

Certainly, a reformation of sorts is underway. It’s both a privilege and a scary thing to be living in these times. I don’t know how this all will conclude, but God does. He is still in control. And we must remember, reformation is never easy.

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Good Friday

1116601_cross

Job 9:30 If I wash myself with snow
and cleanse my hands with lye,
31 yet you will plunge me into a pit,
and my own clothes will abhor me.
32 For he is not a man, as I am, that I might answer him,
that we should come to trial together.
33 There is no arbiter between us,
who might lay his hand on us both. (ESV)

Because of the wretched sinfulness of man, Job knew that there was no bargaining with God. Man is so rebellious and tainted by sin that he cannot even argue with God. God is so holy and removed from sin that He will not come into contact with sin and compromise His holy majesty. So Job cried for an arbiter. Someone Who can lay hands on both God and man. Someone Who is holy like God yet lowly like man. Someone who can represent man without sinning, because sin would cancel any opportunity to reason with God. Truly, only a God-Man with sinless record can accomplish this task.

I Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (ESV)

On the cross of Calvary, Friday night, 2,000+ years ago, Jesus of Nazareth became the arbiter for which Job longed. He, being literally an incarnate man, paid for the sins of sinful human beings in His own body. He, being literally God Himself, satisfied the wrath of God for our sins. Though it took a brutal death and humiliation, for us, this truly was a “Good Friday.” May everyone have a blessed Good Friday.

 Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (ESV)

God is Beautiful!

beautyofgod

Psalm 27:4 One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple. (ESV)

I think all of us who profess faith in Christ would agree that beauty is an attribute of God. But do we know what that even means?

The Meriam-Webster dictionary defines it like this:

the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit

The Hebrew word from which it is translated, including similar words, indicate pleasantness, loveliness, and delight. I tend to miss all of that. Typically, I think the beauty of the Lord is some elusive thing that I can’t ever really know. Sometimes I think it’s not even worth finding out. Maybe we just don’t talk about enough. But in this Psalm, David says that he’d like to gaze upon it for ever. Wow!
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Encouraging Sunday Video, 12.21.08

A friend of mine gave me the book, Crazy Love, by Francis Chan and it was a tremendous exhortation that I desperately needed. I see the hand of God as He is raising servants in this day for His glory. Pastor Chan is one of those whom God has gifted to speak a specific message to the church in America. His message of avoiding a lukewarm Christian life and being totally wrapped up in love for God is backed by his sacrificial life and the sacrifices to which he calls his church.

The Significance of Hanukkah

chanukiah

John 10:22 And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. 
23 And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch. 

December 21, 2008 marks the start of Hanukkah this year. The Jewish people will be celebrating what many non Jews consider to be their version of Christmas. After all, you’ve got beautiful lights, gift giving, singing, and religious significance. It’s interesting to note, however, that while the holiday known as Christmas doesn’t appear in the Bible, Hanukkah does.

Where? Not the Old Testament, but the New. Hanukkah was instituted between the Testaments, during the time of the Maccabees. So the only time Hanukkah appears in the Bible is found in the Christian part of it, specifically in John 10.

The One about Whom Christmas is about celebrated Hanukkah. John 10:22 says there was a feast of dedication during the winter. This was about the 15th day of December (or 25th day of Chisleu). The word for dedication used here literally means “renewal”, or “re-dedication”. The Hebrew word for rededication is “hanaka”. Interestingly, the Greek word is “anakaino”, which sounds like Hanukkah if you think about it. Anyway, John 10:22 is the only time is appears in the scriptures, and the Lord Christ was involved.

The meaning of Hanukkah is something we all can apply to our lives.

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Dirt Devils and the Appearance of Evil

ddlogoSitting on a table in my bedroom is one of those ultra chic Dirt Devil Kones that was given to me as a gift after I had expressed my fondness for it at a department store. It is pretty cool, but it has an annoying light that stays on for as long as you have the vacuum plugged into its base. So I have to make sure it’s not connected. Oh, and I really don’t use it.

Anyway, a new believer recently asked me if it was evil for a Christian to own a Dirt Devil. His inquiry had nothing to do with the fact that I owned one – he has no idea. But he was very sincere. He wondered if owning such a brand was “marketing the devil.” 

I sympathize with that kind of sensitivity. I believe that all Christians are called to be careful to please God in every area of life. We are to abhor the evil and cling to the good. But there has to be a point in which our standards enter into the arena of ridiculous. I’d hate to live life with the Pharisaic attitude that everything is unclean and unworthy of my acceptance while I make sure that I tithe from my spice rack. Things ought to be considered, but should ever tying be so super-analyzed? I mean, if we begin to try to find every minutia of godlessness in every kind of product, we’d be forced to throw it all away.

I realize, though, that this isn’t just a problem with new believers. Seasoned Christians can oftentimes make rash decisions but they attempt to back them up scripturally. I want to make sure to say on the onset here that I’m not opposed at all to anybody’s personal standards for living. The problem comes when those standards are imposed on others and used as a basis for judgment. One of the most popular verses from the Bible to support a hyper-sensitive position on personal holiness is:

1 Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

The argument made from this verse is that we ought never do anything that appears as though it is evil. Does that mean the Bible says I can’t own a Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner?

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Let’s Talk about God

talkinThe Bible has a lot to say about speech. It ought to be seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6). We should shun the profane and vain (II Timothy 2:16). The tongue, though so small, can do awful damage to a person (James 3). And Jesus said one of the most convicting things: we will be judged by every idle word! (Matthew 12:36)

It is evident as Christians that we want to avoid using our God-given ability to talk for anything other than His glory. The Bible gives us a principle about this:

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 

See the contrast? Corruption versus edification. Either your speech builds up or it tears down. And if you can use it to edify, you actually minister grace unto those who hear it! How can we arrive at this?

Let’s talk about God! I know there might be several other applications here, but I think it’s necessary to bring this up. Ever notice who little we talk about God outside of church? Even during church, but maybe after the service, we all go right back to talk about politics, sports, and the like. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with that, but I think Christians should be people that talk a lot about Christ. Maybe that sounds too elementary, but here’s what the Bible says:

Psalm 71:22 My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul, which thou hast redeemed.
23 My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness all the day long: for they are confounded, for they are brought unto shame, that seek my hurt. 

There are so many other passages like this in the Bible, in which we are exhorted to talk about God: not just in church services, not just during prayer, not just among Christian friends, but all the day long! Do you want to edify with your speech and minister grace? I know I do! Let’s talk about God!

What is Worldliness?

heart_globeIn Tim Challies‘ recent review of the new book, Worldliness (edited by CJ Mahaney; Challies offers a less-stellar-than-usual review ), he summarized the view presented of the term “worldliness:”

“He biblically defines worldliness saying that this world we’re not supposed to love is ‘the organized system of human civilization that is actively hostile to God and alienated from God.’ Worldliness is a love for this fallen world and, specifically, ‘to gratify and exalt oneself to the exclusion of God.’ Mahaney is careful to point out that worldliness is not extrinsic to us but intrinsic, inhabiting our fallen hearts. Worldliness does not consist of outward actions (though such actions can certainly be evidence of worldliness) but instead is a heart attitude that rebels against God. The antidote to worldliness is the cross of Christ. ‘Only through the power of the cross of Christ can we successfully resist the seduction of the fallen world.’ Worldliness dulls our affections for Christ and distracts our hearts from him. Hence it is so serious ‘because Christ is so glorious.’

I believe the Bible leaves little room to doubt that definition or something close to it. Worldliness is more a disposition than a style

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God Loves Singing!

mus-noteHere’s a cool thought: God loves singing! When we understand that, it hopefully helps our worship toward Him. Too many times, we enter flippantly into His presence. Or we think that singing is a mere human expression of His commanded worship. The truth is, however, that singing is a God-given privilege to be used to glorify Him!

The Bible says that God sings:

Zephaniah 3:14 Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.
15 The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.
16 In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack.
17 The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. 

I think it’s pretty awesome to know that God sings! He did so when He was walking this earth as well:

Mark 14:25 Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.
26 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. 

Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, the Inventor of singing, sang songs with His disciples while on earth! How amazing would that be to sing along with God? Well, we’re going to do that someday:

Revelation 5:8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;
12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.

As God is saving people, He is amassing a heavenly choir from every tribe and tongue to be part of the best song service in all of eternity. While on earth, it’s thought provoking to realize that, as different church services go on at the same time around the world, God is listening to our singing praises to His name. Remember this as you sing!

Buying Back the Time

Where did all the time go?

I went to an Apple store yesterday and was looking at the iPhones. I have to admit, they’re pretty cool. You can store tons of stuff on them, go on the Internet, watch videos, and even make phone calls. And all of it is designed so that you have something to do . . . in between doing things.

That’s where all the time went. I realized a nasty habit I have. Every time – and I really do think every time – I sit down, I check my cell phone. Maybe someone called. Maybe someone texted. And after a few seconds of realizing no one bothered to do either, I think of who I can text or call. I’ve been programmed to feel like I just have to do something. I mean, I can’t just sit there. That would cause me to. . .think!

So to answer the question of, “don’t people think anymore?” – no! They don’t. We don’t. We’re on our cell phones, we’re reading something. Every time we’re on the Internet we have multiple windows or tabs opened. If we have to iron clothes or clean our houses we must have music on, or the TV, or something else. Well, that’s how I am, and I see it in others as well. It’s no wonder our meditations are so weak.

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Encouraging Sunday Video, 10.26.08

The Holy Spirit of Promise: God’s Down Payment

Ephesians 1:13-14
13
In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

In our struggling economy, there’s little doubt that the housing market has been hit the hardest. Families across the nation are being forced to sell their houses at half the purchase price. Often, the financial stability of the family depends on whether or not a house will sell. In such a situation nothing is more comforting than a buyer’s promise of earnest money. This initial down payment stands as a guarantee that the deal will go through. As an added benefit, the money is given and is immediately available for the family to use.

The Christian life is often more volatile than any economic crisis. Fightings without and fears within as Paul would say. But, there is nothing more comforting than the presence of the Holy Spirit of Promise, the earnest of our inheritance, God’s down payment.

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Authentic Boldness

Acts 4:17 But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.
18 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

If you haven’t, check out the news lately – people are afraid. We’re facing all kinds of crises, it seems. And aside from the looming threats of financial insecutiry and political unrest, American Christians today face the menaces of increasing opposition. This threat comes from many different angles. New Athesists and Muslims are on the offensive. Liberals and skeptics are subtely undermining absolute truth in this postmodern world. And many who call themselves Christians are growing increasingly apathetic. No matter who it is, let’s face it – they don’t want us to preach Christ.

And yet, we must. And we must preach Him with boldness. It’s time we take off the shelf our most valuable tool and put it to use. Let us pray with boldness so we may preach with boldness. This is what the early church did in the face of opposition:

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The Substitutionary Incarnation

The substitutionary atonement is the most essential part of the gospel and the Christian faith. But when we say the phrase, “substitutionary atonement”, we often limit the substitution of Jesus Christ on our behalf to His death alone. Although the death of Christ is a climactic part of our salvation, it is also beneficial for us to understand that the substitutionary aspect of Jesus’ purpose began at His birth. 

Just as minimizing the importance of the resurrection to the crucifixion would create a tragic misunderstanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ, so would belittling the role of His life and ministry. The Lord Jesus’ entire life was a Substitute for us, and it began at the Incarnation.

This is manifest in a number of aspects.

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Encouraging Sunday Video, 10.5.08

Encouraging Sunday Video, 7.27.08

Finishing the Work

There are few things that are less attractive than an unfinished job site. Whether it is construction on a building or the landscaping around it, nothing ruins a scene like torn up ground, loud heavy machinery, and a crew of big sweaty workers standing around watching one guy do all the work. With road work, add to that scene the inconvenience of obstructing the ride to work, as if traffic wasn’t bad enough!

However, the truth is, without construction things never improve. Buildings never get bigger. Roads never get wider. Things never get better unless someone breaks things down in order to rebuild. We know this, but knowing it doesn’t make the job site easier to look at.

There is little difference between this and the Christian life. If we were honest with ourselves would have to recognize that we are nothing more than unfinished job sites. There may not be any heavy machinery, but the scene can be just as ugly.

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Encouraging Sunday Video, 7.20.08

If you have yet to be acquainted with Blair Wingo’s poetry, allow me to introduce you to one of her gems: “Don’t Add On”

Great Things I Have Learned from Fundamentalism

To keep in tune with a positive approach, as I have determined to do, and in contrast to the criticism of fundamentalism found on this blog, I would like to highlight just a few of the invaluable things I have gleaned from being a fundamentalist.

So there is no question about it, I am still a fundamentalist. As stated before, I love and appreciate the ideals of fundamentalism as expressed historically. I believe these tenets are rooted in scripture and manifested in Christ and the apostles. Fundamentalism is a love for the truth – a love that must defend the truth and separate from error. In this regard, I will always be a fundamentalist, even if the modern movement known as “fundamentalism” continues to drift from its original intent. It is this modern movement of which I speak…or of which I type. . .and I want to make sure it is known that, although I have some concerns, not all is bad. In fact, much of modern fundamentalism is good, and God has used these things to shape my life, as He continue to do.

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Dealing with Discouragement

“How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.” (Psalms 13:1-4)

It would be hard for us to honestly say that we have been through things equal to what David went through to bring him to this point. However, if we are honest we have to admit that we have all felt at least somewhat this level of discouragement. I have not been in the ministry very long, but I have already experienced the times of discouragement that I so often heard about. It gets to the point where discouragement is almost a practical matter, simply because it can so greatly affect our daily responsibilities in our respective ministries. So, the question is, How do we deal with discouragement?

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Double Standards in Fundamentalism Today, #5: Me

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

Galatians 4:16
 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?

True friends tell you what you need to hear. As much as I covet those comments in which people say, “great website!”, I need much more to hear about the things I need to change. Those things have been brought to my attention, and it seems like I’ve been one of the biggest Double Standards all along. I hope now to articulate some of the problems, and offer some possible solutions.

(No, that’s not really me in the picture.)

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Encouraging Sunday Video 6.22.08

 

Ambition in the Ministry

Get this picture: a conference with a couple thousand in attendance, an older but very prominent figure in southern IFB circles as the keynote speaker, the host pastor introduces the preacher.

Truth be told, a large percentage of the audience in attendance was a result of the old preacher’s ministry, either directly or indirectly. He had pastored the same church longer than many of the pastors at the conference had been alive. As the hosting pastor introduced the preacher, he waxed eloquent about having vision and attempting to do “big things” for God. He quoted Proverbs 29:18 (“Where there is no vision, the people perish:”) and maked several honorable statements about the old preacher’s vision and the resulting ministry that was built. The crowd gave a hearty “Amen” and the preacher approached the pulpit. He gave a few comments in salutation and appreciation. He then explained, “Really, in the beginning, I had no vision. I only asked God to use me as he saw fit.” Oddly, there were fewer amens.

That night, I sat amongst those in attendance. I can only speak for myself, but the litany of accomplishments that were listed prior to that statement seemed to pale in comparison to the humility with which the veteran preacher spoke. At that moment and each time I replay it in my mind, I have to ask the question: is it supposed to be any other way? Continue reading