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Friday, September 30

Marriage = Man + Woman + Woman???

From the Netherlands:

“I love both Bianca and Mirjam, so I am marrying them both,” Victor said. He had previously been married to Bianca. Two and a half years ago they met Mirjam Geven through an internet chatbox. Eight weeks later Mirjam deserted her husband and came to live with Victor and Bianca. After Mirjam’s divorce the threesome decided to marry.

Victor: “A marriage between three persons is not possible in the Netherlands, but a civil union is. We went to the notary in our marriage costume and exchanged rings. We consider this to be just an ordinary marriage.”

You may call this “marriage” if you like, but it will never be acknowledged before God. Marriage was instituted by God between one man and one woman. Fret not, Christian. The world may try to “re-define” all they will really do is sink deeper into the abyss of darkness and futility. They are digging a mired hole and when they find that they were wrong, it will be too late when they seek to climb out...the mud will envelope them and they will be left to their own hardened devices. No. This is not marriage, this is rebellion.

[HT: Imago Dei]
  • Full Story
  • Solitary Man

    For Judy Arko, 43, the logic behind Christian yoga is simple. "It gives me time alone with God," she says. "As a mom of two small kids, I don't get that--even in church“ (Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, “Stretching for Jesus”, Time, September 5, 2005).

    This is the last sentence in the article I mentioned yesterday. Like I said yesterday, Christian yoga is the symptom of a greater problem in the church - agnosticism of Christianity. People are unable to have convictions about that which they do not understand. They do not know that light and darkness mix about as good as blood and water.

    You can see a clearer picture of the problem from Judy Arko’s quote above. I understand to some degree what she is talking about, but I’m afraid she has drawn the wrong conclusion. She practices yoga because she wants time alone. The last clause caught my eye “even in church”. I am afraid she does not understand the purpose behind public worship.

    It is evidenced in some churches today that have people go to a corner to draw, or to meditate, or to do a number of other things. They do this so people can “worship God in their own way”. By doing this they are failing to speak into other people’s lives so that they will be spurred on to love and good works. Public worship is just that - with the public. What we need is not time alone with God as much as we need the Body of Christ to bear our burdens and carry us through the chaos of raising two children or losing a job or making a hard decision.

    Yes, we do need to meditate and pray in closets and a number of other disciplines on our own. But we desperately need community to help us press on toward the goal. Christianity is not a solitary religion...no one can practice the Ten Commandments without people in their lives. Go through the list...you will find that without community you cannot worship God as you ought. We are a motley people who need others to expunge the deceitful sin in our lives. We need them to pull us out of bed and push us on our knees. Otherwise...

    The highest virtue in the Christian life is not being alone with God. Jesus went in solitude to pray in order to be wizened to choose his disciples, to be strengthened to go to the Cross...both public acts of worship and devotion. Countless studies have been shown that solitude will destroy a person - why is solitary confinement the worst kind of torture?

    Yes, we do need time one-on-one to read God’s Word and to pray away from the crowds. However, we put our lives as living sacrifices on the altar, on display before the world. Let us not pursue solitude as an end in itself...but as a means to more complete worship.

    Thursday, September 29

    Party Foul in the Coffee Shop

    Okay...I’m sitting in a coffee shop and trying to read ‘til my eyes bleed just to keep up with all the work I have for my classes. Well, I am really getting into a section in my book and a horrendous odor creeps into my nostrils. At first I bend down to see if I did anything...not me. What in the world is that? I look around and a girl has got her shoes off and is sitting in a couch behind me without a clue that her feet are distracting everyone around her. How do I know...the person next to me mimics what I do and leaves.

    Anyway, if you’re worrying that I might blow the horn on your feet...just wash them and don’t distract others. As for me, I apologize to those in my OT Theology class who had to smell my feet last week. Until today, I thought I was the only one who would smell my feet. Kind of like a kid playing hide and seek and thinks the world can’t see them because they have their eyes covered.

    Emotive Religion

    For although to true religion there must indeed be something else besides affection; yet true religion consists so much in the affections, that there can be no true religion without them...As on the one hand, there must be light in the understanding, as well as an affected fervent heart; or where there is heat without light there can be nothing divine or heavenly in that heart: so, on the other hand, where there is a kind of light without heat, a head stored with notions and speculations with a cold and unaffected heart, there can be nothing divine in that light, that knowledge is no true spiritual knowledge of divine things (original italics; Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Hendrickson, p 243).

    What to Look for in a Man...or Woman

    Girl Talk Blog (yes I read it) is going to begin a series of posts on what to look for in a future spouse. I thought this first one was very beneficial. So if you're looking or know someone who is...have them read these next few posts.

    Fluffy Faith

    In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 17.6).

    The yoga teacher sits in a lotus position atop a polished wooden platform. Behind her, verdant woods are visible through panoramic windows. Gentle music tinkles from overhead speakers. Two dozen students in spandex outfits, most of them women, settle onto purple and blue mats to begin the class with ujjayi, a breathing exercise. Their instructor, Cindy Senarighi, recommends today's mantra. " 'Yahweh' is a great breath prayer," she says. " The Jesus Prayer also works. Now lift your arms in praise to the Lord“ (Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, “Stretching for Jesus”, Time, September 5, 2005).

    Does this bother you at all, Christian? There is a growing trend of Christian yoga. It is not the problem but merely a symptom of the problem. Christians are learning how to avoid and be devoid of convictions. They are able to listen to Hindu chants to Sheva without feeling queazy and then pray to Jesus. Some reading this may even be thinking that I am being ridiculous to question Christian yoga.

    What they might find interesting is that even a Hindu professor of yoga philosophy (Subhas Tiwari) thought it absurd to claim there is such a thing as Christian yoga...for he says, “Yoga is Hinduism.”

    The issue we are seeing more and more in the church is the downgrading of theology and doctrine and the exaltation of personal experience of God - as if he is some nebulous aura to be tapped into for spiritual nirvana. Not only this, but how many times do we here in small group Bible studies the kind of fluff a Buddhist mystic would tout? I felt God moving through my body leading me to this place etc.

    I do not want to diminish the need for personal experience...I want to guard against a cotton-candy-like faith that is sweet on the tongue but as a meal will rot your teeth and leave you hungry. Why will we go to broken faiths that hold no water when we have the Christ? Answer: because we do not know what and who we have!

    What is needed now is a robust, rock-solid faith that stands in the face of hypocrisy and tenderly chides hollow worship. What we need are Christians who know what the Bible says...who know that Jesus commanded more than superficial love of people. What he commanded is that we obey all that he commanded. This will require more than a syncretism of faiths. It requires knowing doctrine that is solid and meaty. It requires a diligence and a pursuit of truth that no other faith and practice can offer.

    Wednesday, September 28

    Be Careful How You Serve

    With many new opportunities here in the US of ways that people can give of their time and resources to the hurricane victims in New Orleans it is important for us to pause and think about the assistance that is given. We live in a country of enormous wealth where there can be two television fund-raising specials and millions of dollars raised to buy supplies and such for folks. This is a marvelous thing.

    However, I pray that we are not blind-spotted to the fact that there are many more people all over the world in need of such assistance.

    When we give for such causes we need to think of the big picture - What do I want to accomplish by giving this money? The answer should not merely be to feed someone. It should be to give God glory by meeting the needs of people. If we merely feed people and do not share the saving news of the Gospel then we are only putting a band-aid on fatal wound. Yes, we should meet physical needs, there is no doubt. But to merely do this is to deny the fact that the most pressing need in people’s lives is to taste of the Bread of Life.

    For a great article on this Andrew Myers has some provoking thoughts.

    Tuesday, September 27

    Five Distinguishing Marks

    During the First Great Awakening many people rebuked the preachers by saying that it was a work of Satan. They cited 2 Cor 11.14 which says that even Satan can appear to be a minister of light. That is, even ministers can be workers of evil - looking like a shepherd, but being a slaughterer.

    The same can be said about individuals who claim they are Christians...they can appear to be of the light, but they are children of the devil (1 Jn 3.10).

    Although Jonathan Edwards wrote his
    Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God to respond to the critics of the First Great Awakening at large, I believe the five marks can be used to distinguish a work of the Spirit of God in the individual as well.

    I will just list them:

    1. Raises people's esteem of Jesus (1 Jn. 4:7)
            • embrace why God has done things the way he has
            • confessing Jesus is vital to this esteem
    2. Operates against the interests of Satan's kingdom
            • 1 Jn 4:4
            • redirects men away from sin (which is Satan's purpose for men)
    3. Establishes in men a greater regard for holy Scripture
            • 4:6
            • it certainly must be from God if men heed the Word of God more
            • the devil would never want people to regard the Word of God because it glorifies God and sanctifies men
            • Lk 16:29
            • Satan hates the Word of God
    4. Leads people to the truth
            • verse 6b: "spirit of truth and the spirit of error"
            • There are spirits that mimic God's spirit but are false. A spirit of God confirms biblical truth: Hell is real, men need a Savior, Jesus is God
            • Leads you to embrace doctrines that are pervasive in Scripture.
    5. Operates with spirit of love toward God and man
            • Verse 7, 12-13

    If the fruit that is manifest in someone's life looks like the marks above, more than likely his heart has been worked on by God. Edwards' book is a detailed study of 1 Jn 4. As more and more people claim they are Christians (without any way to distinguish them from the world) it is important for ministers and the congregant to discern whether he is, in fact, a Christian - and to be able to counsel friends and family who speak with their lips but deny Christ with their loves.

    [[These observations are taken from Dr. Thomas Nettles' class on Jonathan Edwards]]

    Monday, September 26

    He Loves Other Christians {Entry 6}

    This is the second to last post on this topic. Tomorrow I will write about Jonathan Edwards' Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God.

    In light of all that I have said regarding the characteristics of the believer, this last one might be the easiest to identify and the hardest to practice. We live in a culture that exalts a nebulous spirituality that has its head in the stars and its hands clean from isolated prayer. The Bible paints a different picture for what true spirituality is.

    I was talking with the lady I work for today about this very topic. She made the observation that many people say they are Christian, but do not seem to be any different than the world. This is in part why I began this series. The name "Christian" has become a very hollow term. It can mean religious person, or antinomian who is ruled by what feels right. or regular church service attender...but these are all far from what the Bible identifies as a Christian. I know so many people who say they are Christian, but there is absolutely no conviction in their life for what that may mean. They don't read the Bible, they don't pray, they don't pursue God, and they don't love other Christians. In fact, they despise them.

    The Church is not without her blemishes. But it is these very imperfections that attest to the beauty of grace. The Church is full of ugly people...but they seem to be gorgeous because of the transforming work of grace in their lives. Instead of pursuing selfish desires and making themselves look good, they bend over and wash other people's stinky feet. Not to make themselves look righteous, but because they love the people of God.

    Notice the previous post: The Christian Obeys. He obeys from a gratitudinous heart, not begrudgingly.

    Look at these verses:

    • John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
    • John 15:12   "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
    • John 15:17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
    • Rom. 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
    • 1Th. 4:9   Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another,
    • 1Pet. 1:22   Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,
    • 1John 3:11   For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
    • 1John 3:23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.
    • 1John 4:7   Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
    • 1John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
    • 2John 5 And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another.

    Especially the connection between Jesus new commandment and John's definition of a Christian in 1 Jn 4.7, 11. We do not live in a bubble and should not pursue such kind of hermitage. Instead, we should pursue love and seek out new ways to serve the brethren. What a sad estate that the Christian prizes solitude as the highest virtue when true and undefiled religion is to care for the brethren (James 1.22-27).

    The question remains for the recluse...How are you fulfilling Christ's new command when you do not pursue love of the brethren? You can't blame it on your introvertedness. You better find a way to pursue Christ in your active loving of the brethren. I say active because what is love if it does not take on flesh...it must be hate. How can you say you love the brethren and don't take care of the physical needs? You cannot (James 2).

    In fact, look at Jn 15.17 a little closer. The commandments serve to the higher end of loving one another. "These things I command you in order that you will love each other." The commandments Jesus speaks to us should end in loving acts for the brethren. These loving acts serve to the greatest end of bringing glory to God (Jn 15.8). When we obey God and bear fruit that lasts it brings God glory. Therefore, we do not love to win favor with people. We do not serve to receive something from that person. We obey as God's children from an overflowing heart so that God will receive glory from our acts and the love that overflows from the one receiving.

    Friday, September 23

    He Obeys {Entry 5}

    This is the fifth post for my short series on what a Christian is...I will bring it all to a conclusion next week. I will also be posting some thoughts by Jonathan Edwards on the Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God. Although it was written specifically for the church at large regarding the Great Awakening that started in 1734, I believe it also relates to how we view conversion and the spiritual lives of those we minister with.

    Okay. A Christian is one who obeys. You can see that the growing culture around us is anti-authority. Why is it so cool to talk evil of the president? I may not agree with things he says, but why should I pursue speaking ill of him? Why do kids think it is cool to back talk their parents or make fun of the elderly? Why are you called a prude if you don't want to have sex with everyone in the world? Why is it that vice is the only virtue that is deemed valuable?

    When a culture is not marked by the desire to know God, then it will be marked by disobedience - not only to his revealed will in the Bible, but also manifest against the authority he has placed over us in the government, law enforcement, etc.

    I do not want to make a 1:1 correlation between law of the state and God's Law. I merely want to draw attention to the fact that disobedience to the Law of God is characterized by an increasingly powerful witness to anti-authority pursuits.

    Biblically: Why does the Christian try to obey the Law of God? Rehearse the last 3 and 1/2 posts regarding the characteristics of a Christian: 1) He is humble, because he knows that his salvation is not dependent on him; 2) He delights in the things of God because 3) He delights in God. The Bible is very explicit in what it teaches about those things that distinguish the Christian from the non-Christian.

    Rom. 6:16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed...Rom. 15:18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed.

    Col. 3:20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord [it pleases the Lord because he has set parents over children as his authority and guidance in their lives...even more, it is an exhortation to the child of God...that he obey God from the heart, see 1 Peter 1.14].

    Heb. 13:17   Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. [The Christian knows that God is not distinct from the authority figures in politics and law enforcement. The unbeliever seeks to oust them when possible because he is ultimately rebellious against God.]

    This idea of obedience was the concept from the beginning:
    Gen. 49:10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
            nor the ruler's staff from between his feet,
            until tribute comes to him;
            and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

    God does not seek to merely save people, but that they bow their knees to him in humble submission from a heart of gratitudinous joy.

    17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and iif it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
    [implication: those of the household of God obey, those preparing to be condemned are disobedient]

    1) Repent for any and all disobedience to God and his authorities
    2) Pursue opportunities to obey the Word of God
    3) Understand that obedience flows from a heart of joy and gratitude for all God has done and will do for you
    4) Pray that you will be convinced that you are not your own, but you were bought by the price of Christ's blood (1 Cor 6.19)
    5) Therefore, you are a happy slave to God - or you should delight to obey his Word

    Thursday, September 22


    First of all, I was duly corrected by a friend who reads my blog. The fotos I was told are Katrina are actually of many different places. Go here and read about it.

    As for the exams, I was very blessed. I was able to worship as I took them, rather than merely reciting information. I see that Self-Running Comments Day was a flop. That's okay. I know people are shy.

    Anyway, I hope to post tomorrow on Obedience being one of the defining characteristics of the Christian. Stay tuned.

    Pictures of Katrina, In Light of Rita

    Check out these amazing photos of Katrina. May our mouths drop as we pause to ponder to wonder and glory of God.

    Self-Running Comments Day

    In honor of the fact that I am now studying for two tests I have today within the span of 4 hours I am declaring that today be "Self-Running Comments Day". What in the world is this, you might say.

    Today is a day when you, the reader, will go through posts and make comments as you like and begin dialoguing on issues the posts raise. This way I can focus on my studies and you can help each other think about the issues already percolating in your mind. Win-win for everyone!!

    I might my next entry on Who is a Christian? after I recover...Until then, happy commenting!

    Wednesday, September 21

    He Delights in God {Entry 4}

    The implication from delighting in the things of God (see previous posts) is that the Christian will delight in God. Like the little brother who will do whatever his big brother tells him, the Christian seeks to do all that God commands and says because he admires and cherishes God. He is at God's every beck and call so that when a word falls off the page, it will always sink deep into his heart because his God has said it.

    The best analogy I can think of is scriptural. Ezekiel 16 gives the plight of the human race as evidenced in the nation of Israel. We were cast aside and helpless on the road and God picked us up and washed us (an idea that Paul picks up on in Ephesians 5) and married Israel. However, she was unfaithful and abandoned God and whored after other nations. Why? She did not delight in her husband. She was enamored by the glitz and glitter of fame and money. So she abandoned God for lack of love and delight in him. The rest of the chapter explicates the disgusting things that Israel did with other gods. And you would think that would be all, but the last five verses gives great hope in the light of adultery.

    59   "For thus says the Lord God: I will deal with you as you have done, you who have despised the oath in breaking the covenant, 60 yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish for you an everlasting covenant. 61 Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you take your sisters, both your elder and your younger, and I give them to you as daughters, but not on account of* the covenant with you. 62 I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, 63 that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord God."

    I will deal with this idea of covenant in the future, but suffice to say that God has sworn to establish an everlasting covenant with Israel.

    What does this new covenant entail? God commands Israel to get a new heart in 18.31. BUT in 36.26-27 he says, "I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules."

    This is the beauty of the New Covenant that God has established with his people (Jew and Gentile)...he will give us a new heart to delight in not only his commandments, but, even more, in him. Therefore, another distinguishing characteristic of the Christian is that he delights in God.

    The one who delights in God will:
    1. Talk about him freely
    2. Desire to know him better
    3. Read his word since this is how he has revealed himself...how else will you know someone better unless you listen to him
    4. He will talk with him
    5. He will want to introduce him to other people (a sign that I enjoy my wife is that I make a point to introduce her to other people I know not just as a social nicety)
    6. He will be humble because he knows that the heart to delight in God has been given to him and not figured out by logical rationale
    7. He will seek to emulate God as revealed in Jesus (living sacrificially, speaking truth, practicing justice, weeping when people are hurt

    Tuesday, September 20

    Women in Ministry?

    Know a woman who is pursuing full-time ministry? There is a conference in November 11-12 in orlando called Synergy which is sponsored by the Whitby Forum , Campus Crusade for Christ , and Reformed Theological Seminary - Orlando .

    From the web site:

    Synergy was born out of a desire to make the most of this opportunity and to celebrate and promote the contributions of women as kingdom builders. 

    We desire to bring women together so they can network, share ideas, grow deeper in their faith and develop solutions for common problems they face in ministry and in their search for new ministry opportunities.

    It looks like a very promising conference...my wife has read a book from one of the speakers, Carolyn Custis James, and I was very encouraged from what I heard it spoke about. James' ministry is the Whitby Forum. On that web site it says:

    WhitbyForum is committed to
    • calling women to deeper theological reflection and greater responsibility as members of the Body of Christ
    • articulating the Bible's high view of women and of men
    • building strong partnerships between women and men in the home, the workplace, the community and in the church

    He Delights... with Qualifications {Entry 3a}

    I think a word from John Owen will help put some parameters around my last post. Though it is long, I promise you will be greatly nourished from his thoughts:

            Many people enjoy attending a service of worship of God. That enjoyment, however, by itself is not necessarily a mark of true spirituality. We have to ask what it is that causes that enjoyment. Then we will discover a difference between true spiritual change and mere moral renovation of a character.
            Some people may be greatly attracted to the outward performance of worship - eloquent preaching, delightful music, impressive ceremony (Ezekiel 33.31-32; John 5.35). It is right that there should be carefulness and order in our worship, but the spiritually minded person is not concerned with these things alone. Indeed, that person will be aware of the danger of those things being a distraction from real worship. Two men may enjoy the same garden: one, because of its colour and scent; the other, because of a close knowledge of the nature and uses of the flowers and herbs. The spiritual mind is like the latter.
            Satisfaction derived from a religious service can simply arise from a sense of having done one's duty. Some comfort may be drawn from the thought that perhaps attendance at worship will lessen one's guilt for known since committed.
            Even believers behave in spiritual ways because they recognize them as duties, but there is a difference between fulfilling a duty to obtain some measure of comfort to oneself and doing so because one may know God better by it.
            The reason why some people can draw comfort from attending a service of worship even though they do not do so with a spiritual mind is because they believe they earn credit with God that way (Romans 10.3). Their idea of righteousness is of something that can construct themselves. There is a sense of pleasure derived from apparently contributing in this way to their own credit.
            Others may draw pleasure from religious behaviour simply because they secretly enjoy being thought to be a better kind of person. Some can be proud of being thought devout. This can be especially true in any religious system where, in competition with others, a good reputation is the way to preferment.
            Finally I think I must insist that in the case of some, pleasure in religious observances arises from superstitious ideas which can affect the thinking of those of all religions, true and false. People can use religion as a kind of insurance against the possibility that some disaster will befall them if they neglect it. I hardly need to say that no spiritually minded person draws comfort from worship for such a reason.
            The point I want to make is that it is possible to feel good about religious behaviour for the wrong reasons. A great deal of the worship that goes on in the world is not acceptable to God at all...

    {John Owen, Thinking Spiritually }

    Monday, September 19

    America as Christian?

    Ben Witherington gives a very thought-provoking post on how we should think of America's "Christian" foundations. I head many talk about how Christianity was the foundation of Declaration of Independence and Constitution. However, I have serious doubts that much of what we read was based on the Bible. Perhaps it was informed by biblical principles, but not founded on them.

    I am not well-learned enough to fully engage with his post , but my interest is definitely peaked by his thoughts [with a modification in the first comment below the post, I absolutely deny the second comment...for the record, I would like the man to give a better philosophical explanation of things for those desirous in Edwards (though he is obviously fallible)].

    Dr. Michael Haykin's Blog

    For those of you who haven't heard of this man, he has preached twice at our church and I have thoroughly been blessed by his ministry. He is Principal and Professor of Church History and Reformed Spirituality at Toronto Baptist Seminary. Check out his blog.

    He Delights in the Things of God {Entry 3}

    Like a child takes great joy when his father lifts him high in the air and giggles with delight.
    Like a woman who is carried away by the romantic advances of her courtier.
    Like a dog who follows his master wherever he goes wagging his tail incessantly.

    So is the man who has been saved by grace alone through faith alone. This is the man who knows that whenever God acts, he acts on his behalf - to turn every circumstance for his good.

    He delights in the fact that he has a father who disciplines him. See a father who sits by idly as his child does as he pleases and I will show you a man who despises his children.

    He enjoys the laws of God. The signs of the rebellious manifest themselves in their utter disregard and contempt for authority and rules. Unruliness is the symptom of unbridled sin. The unruly man, more than likely was not taught to be an obedient child. And so he has grown up to despise everyone but himself. Everyone serves to meet his end - himself.

    Look in a concordance for the Bible for the word “delight” and you will find a slew of passages - 71 to be exact. In fact, Psalm 119 is written from a heart overflowing with joy because he has laws to obey. Have you ever thought about this? When you are told not to do something (or to do something) are you thrilled with joy to obey?

    • I find my delight in your commandments, which I love (Psalm 119.47).
    • Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts (Jeremiah 15.16)
    • For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being (Rom. 7.22).

    The Christian will be marked by an insatiable desire to fill his mind with the things of God. Instead of trivial past-times he will spend his time reading God’s Word. Instead of wasting time, he will meditate on the beauty of God’s handiwork (Psalm 111.12). Everything will seem like dung compared with knowing Jesus (Philippians 3.8).

    Thursday, September 15

    Tip Toe Through the TULIP for FREE!!

    John Piper's seminar on the five major tenets of Calvinist doctrine is being given away at Monergism . This is a great seminar in case you have ever wondered what in the world this set of doctrines is...It also includes sermons from Romans 7-9 and his most quoted sermon (probably), "Doing MIssions When Dying is Gain".

    He is Humble {Entry 2}

    Firstly, the Christian is humble. He realizes that he has nothing to bring to God. Everything he has, he has first and lastly received (1 Cor. 4:7). He is a poor man who beats on his chest and says "Woe is me" (Lk. 18:13).

    It has been said, "Heaven is the humblest place on earth" because every one of its citizens knows that he doesn't belong there.

    Humility is not an abstract reality. Rather, it consistently works itself out into the physical world. Our lips and eyes and hands will always be indicators of what is in our hearts. Someone who has been gripped by the love and forgiveness of Christ. If someone has crossed you twice in one day with the same sin...if he has cursed you even 490 times...you will be able to forgive him.

    The man who is unwilling to forgive must search his heart for pride. Will he not forgive because he should not be treated in such a way as to be cursed? Will he not forgive because if he does then people will continue to take advantage of his kindness?

    The man who criticizes things before seeing the beauty in them may also be suffering from pride. He fails to realize that to the pure all things are pure. He fails to see that God has created all things good. Then, after recognizing that God has created all things good can he then loathe sin and its repercussions.

    The man who is unwilling to accept complements may fall prey to sin and false humility. The Christian will be able to thank God for the gifts he has been given and acknowledge that it was not him, but Christ within. As Spurgeon said, the man who is blessed with many gifts is more indebted than the man who has only one. For the man with many gifts/talents is like a man in debtor's prison bragging to his cell mate that he better because he owes $100,000 rather than a measly $100.

    Yes, it is the humble who will inherit the kingdom for God is opposed to the proud. The Christian is able to say with Paul:

    For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
    (Titus 3.3-7)

    By the way, if you're likely to say after reading this post, "I already knew that", you are probably suffering from pride.

    Wednesday, September 14

    Who Is a Christian? {Entry 1}

    Someone might answer, "Anyone who follows Christ." This begs another question, "What does it mean to follow Christ?"

    Many people would call themselves "Christian" because they have grown up in a "Christian" home and have morals. That is, they don't yell at too many people, they believe God exists, they think the "Love Thy Neighbor" thing Jesus taught is a good principle, and so on. However, if this person were to read the Bible and make application for their own life, they would have more stringent standards, since the Bible has such.

    Over these next several entries I am going to think about what it means to be a Christian.

    Why is this important? Many people in our culture today have been very loose with what it means to be a Christian. The Bible has given us very clear teaching on how we might be saved. It is very simple, and yet very profound - going into the very heart of our longings. I see many who call themselves "Christian" and have not thought about what this might mean for their practical living.

    It is helpful when defining what you are by starting with what you are not...so here is an abbreviated list to consider. You are NOT a Christian because:

    1. You live in the United States - the U.S. is not a "Christian nation". There has not been such a thing, not even the Roman Empire that extended Christendom by the sword. This is due to the fact that Christianity is a decision on the part of the individual to submit to King Jesus. I will deal more with this in subsequent entries.
    2. You believe God exists. The apostle James would give you a pat on the back, but tells you that you are not a Christian because of this. James 2:19 - You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!
    3. You go to church. There are many who attend church services who will show themselves to be destined for Hell. 1John 2:19 - They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. Read Matthew 13:24-30 where Jesus teaches that there are wheat and tares that will be separated on the last day.
    4. You are a good person. Even Jesus said: "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone" (Luke 18:19). And Paul reminds us from the Psalms: "None is righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10; cf. Ps. 14:1; 53:1). We need to raise our standard of "good" and realize that we are corrupt. This is why we have such a hard time being nice to people (though only one result). If we lay down on our beds at night and are honest, we will admit that we sin repeatedly. This is due to the fact that God has blessed us with a conscience that is meant to lead us to Christ for mercy and salvation.
    5. You were baptized. Salvation is by grace through faith, which is a gift from God (Eph. 2:8-9). Therefore, no amount of religious rites and sacraments you perform will earn your way into heaven.
    6. You were confirmed by the church. See above.
    7. Your parents are Christians (or god-fearing). John the Baptist and Jesus told people directly to repent from their own sin and commanded them to believe. They did not solace people who had been "raised right".

    This list is by no means exhaustive, but it gives us a good launching pad for our discussion. Some of these may have been basic to what you already know. Thank you for reading through to get to this paragraph. We will begin looking at the positive signs of saving faith. It will be a mix from my ruminations on texts as well as thoughts from Puritans named Jonathan Edwards and John Owen.

    Tuesday, September 13


    I just saw an amazing documentary on Haiti and the atrocities that are going on there. After watching it last night, I was speechless. There is so much hatred and distress and hopelessness among the Hatians. I am thinking of what my responsibilities are in this and in other international crises.

    Check out a clip of the documentary here . It is from the show "Wide Angle" on PBS .

    What Happened?

    Continuing with more from Justo Gonzalez...

    After Constantine put an end to Christian persecution, Christians began to experience peace and favor. What would happen when those who called themselves servants of a carpenter, and whose great heroes were fisherfolk, slaves, and criminals condemned to death by the state, suddenly saw themselves surrounded by imperial pomp and power? Would they remain firm in their faith? Or would it be that those who had stood before tortures and before beasts would give way to the temptations of an easy life and of social prestige?

    Heb. 10:34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.

    Sudan Poor Forced Into Desert Area Outside Capital

    Flood Crisis in Darfur

    Support Voice of Martyrs Ministry

    Monday, September 12

    When Faced with Torture

    When faced with torture...

    Told to renounce Christ or die, Polycarp said: For eighty-six years I have served him, and he has done me no evil. How could I curse my king, who saved me?

    Tied to a post in a pyre about to be burned, Polycarp prayed: Lord Sovereign God...I thank you that you have deemed me worthy of this moment, so that, jointly with your martyrs, I may have a share in the cup of Christ...For this...I bless and glorify you. Amen.

    When told to deny Christ with her seven sons, Felicitas said told the prefect that he was wasting his time for: while I live, I shall defeat you; and if you kill me, in my death I shall defeat you all the more.

    Another Felicitas was jailed for being a Christian and was awaiting death. She was pregnant and gave birth before she was executed. One of the guards taunted her and asked her how she would endure the lions if the pain of childbirth was so great. She said she would be able to face the beasts because: Now my sufferings [of childbirth] are only mine. But when I face the beasts there will be another who will live in me, and will suffer for mesince I shall be suffering for him.

    When they tried to go to public worship mobs began to follow them in the streets and pelted them with stones. The Christians were arrested (that's right, for going to worship and getting pelted with stones), taken to court, and killed.

    What motivated these men, women, and children? They were fully convinced of 1 Cor. 15's teaching on the resurrection, especially verse 26: The last enemy to be destroyed is death. They were not so enamored by the gold and praise of this world. They were humiliated because they believed in God. They were considered traitors to the king because they refused to worship him. With all of the fluff in world, it is easy to get lost in it. May Christians be willing to lay down their lives, literally and figuratively, in order to show that Jesus is better than life (Ps. 63.3). People can call Christians ignorant, but they can never deny that something greater than this life has gripped them in such a way as to sing as their flesh is melting...you can't deny that.

    [excerpts from Justo Gonzalez's The Story of Christianity, Vol. 1 ]

    Friday, September 9

    Another Perspective on New Orleans

    Check out this photo album from a civilian. Who? I do not know, but found it in some browse-time I had today.

    Also, Wood Chips & Text Musings is helping sift through some of the bureaucratic scape-goating that is going around. Thanks for the work!

    Not Your Standard Prayer

    Psa. 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. 14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. 15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

    Most of the time when we pray we ask God to do something for us and that's it. Sometimes we say "thank you", but most of the time we take it for granted that it has been answered (or forget we even asked).

    David is not afraid to ask God to do something for him: purge me, wash me, let me hear, let my bones rejoice, hide, blot out, create, take not, keep me near, restore, uphold. We should not be embarrassed to ask God for things...But we mustn't stop there in the asking, nor with a mere "thank you".

    David is praying a conditional statement of sorts. "If you purge, wash, etc, then I will..." He knows that God's work on his behalf does not and should not stop with what he needs. David knows that when God blesses him, he is freed from the shackles of sin so that he can glorify the one who freed him. He knows that action on God's behalf demands action on his behalf.

    Don't think, though, that David is paying God back for his work. He is not scratching God's back anymore than a person rescued from a burning house pays the fireman who pulled him out. You can't pay back! Get over it. You are not dealing with a peer. God is not in need of your praise. Rather, as gratitude and faith overflow from our hearts and out of our lips (remember the post "Too Much to Say" two days ago?) and out into action.

    David will teach, sing, declare praise...He knows that the world does not revolve around him and his family. Rather, he exists to help others see the magnificence and the splendor of the one who pulled him out of the fire. Ultimately, David knows that he is spiritually bankrupt. There is nothing he can do to repay God. It does not matter how many fattened bulls he slaughters, he is broken and useless.

    True joy and love for God and for others comes when we live from a broken and contrite heart. We have something to offer people when we realize that we nothing to offer but words of hope and instruction about God.

    Thursday, September 8

    After the Rally...Where Will the People Be?

    August 22nd TIME did a short article on Rick Warren's work in war-torn Rwanda. In short, the president of the country, Paul Kegame, invited Rick Warren to make Rwanda 'the first purpose-driven nation'.

    The idea doesn't sound like too bad to be quite honest. I was pretty upset to hear of some folks poking fun at it while they sipped on their triple shot, extra foam, hold the empathy latte.

    I definitely do not agree with everything that Saddleback does or teaches, but I am encouraged that they are taking initiatives to do something of significance. For more info. you can check out their website for missions.

    I did not blog today to promote Saddleback. Rather, I wanted to quote the most provoking thing I read in the snippet. The editor for the Rwandan newspaper, Umueso, said this in response to Warren's recent visit:

    I think [Warren] has good intentions. Some people may benefit. But he is not different from other pastors we have seen. You won't hear much about his plan after the rally.

    This is sad, but all too true with modern missions and relief efforts. We get really excited to run an all-out sprint, but we need to be prepared to run an all-out marathon - replete with dehydration and exhaustion.

    By the way, if you have not seen Hotel Rwanda Please watch it and think about what you might do.

    Wednesday, September 7

    Powerful Music Video of Hurricane Katrina

    I watched this video and it helped me think through what some of the folks in New Orleans are experiencing (it's based off Psalm 137, a psalm written as Israel was in exile in Babylon, much like people from New Orleans...except it was at the hand of ruthless men as the world stood by and watched). I think the real test of how we respond will be seen in three months. It will be December and there will no doubt have been numerous other disasters and hubbub. It is time we be more informed about the world around us. It is time we think more highly of others than ourselves (Philippians 2).

    For Disaster Relief:
    Desiring GOD List


    Reston Bible Church, VA

    Campus Crusade for Christ

    Desire Street Ministries

    Enrollment for Displaced College Students

    For Detailed Information:

    Too Much to Say

    As a Type-A personality (some might say ADD) I have a unusual tendency to stick my foot in my mouth...not to mention so many words I wish I had not said. I have been challenged by William Zinsser's book, On Writing Well. I have been challenged to keep my tongue from moving rather than let it flap in the wind. I choose to be a good steward with the air I breathe rather than wasting someone's ears. I don't want to get addicted to the click of the keyboard as Strunk & White talk about.

    Why? It stems from more than a desire to not be embarrassed. It's roots go down deep into the soil of the Bible. Consider:

    Prov. 17:28 - Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

    Even a fool! This should make us more careful to say someone is a genius just because he is a man of few words. At the least, it should make us consider that this person is smarter than us, merely because he heeds this proverb.


    Matt. 12:36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak...

    Every time you curse someone on the road or gossip or slander someone, you will be called to give an account. Don't think it a light thing to mutter under your breath how stupid someone or something is. Repent because Jesus also says two verses earlier:

    Matt. 12:34 For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

    I say all this to say to myself, you, and other folks out there speaking and typing out a deluge of words, be careful. I look all around the internet and see frivolous words being spouted off. All the ridiculous posts will be called to account. Even if you don't blog, the words you speak in solitude will be brought before you for you to give an account. Don't waste your breath, invest it into eternity...after all your life is only that, a breath (James 4:14)

    In other words:

    James 1:19   Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger...

    Thursday, September 1

    Tall Trees, Tough Men

    My friend, David Griffiths, has a very inspiring and convicting post on New England foresters of all things. It's too bad he's still a Windows man (two posts below the Tall Trees)

    The Will of God and Counsel

    I probably should have titled this entry "The Will of God and a Right Heart", but I believe that a right heart is the umbrella we should live our lives under all the time. This entry will deal with this in the context of counsel.

    In my last entry I spoke about David not heeding the words of men who believed it was the Lord's will to give Saul over to David while he was relieving himself in a cave. We must know before circumstances come up, what God has prescribed and proscribed in given situations. David knew that God had rejected Saul and had given the kingdom to him. However, David also knew that it was sin to kill the anointed king of Israel, even if the king was trying to kill him. He trusted the promise of God rather than opportunities that seemed right to take.

    What about those decisions that are not so clear? Let's go to 1 Kings 12. Solomon has just died and his son Rehoboam has succeeded him. It was customary for the king to have advisers (hence Prov. 15:22; 2 Chron 22:4; Isa. 19:11; Dan 3:24). And so Rehoboam met with his fathers counselors to see what would be the best way to run the country (1 Kings 12:6). They told him to be humble and speak kind words and be a servant to the people. Rehoboam didn't like this so he abandoned their wisdom and surrounded himself with younger inexperienced "men who had grown up with him" to see what they would advise. They told him to be shrewd and unrelenting. He liked this counsel from his buddies.

    The point is that Rehoboam had already made up his mind what he was wanted to do. He wasn't seeking counsel as much as he was seeking approval. He did not submit to godly counsel. Instead, he let ungodly whipper-snappers turn him away from being a godly king and man.

    So to us. There are going to be difficult decisions that are not outlined in Scripture. However, we do have principles. Beyond that, we have been blessed with the Church to help us make decisions. The Body of Christ can see blind spots in our personalities and daily living that we cannot They see tendencies we think only others have.

    We must humble ourselves and ask men who not only know us, but also know the Word of God, to speak into our lives. We should not have made up our mind and ask people until we find what we are hearing. Let me make a side note, though a very important one...Just because someone is old, does not mean they are wise. There are many foolish old men in the world. They say there is no God (Psalm 10:4; 14:1). They do not fear God (Psalm 36:1). Look at the lives of men you know that submit their lives to the Word of God. Put yourself in a position to ask for their advice, with a willingness to heed it.

    This is one of the best ways to make decisions. Realize that God has blessed us with brothers and sisters to help us on the journey, in addition to his Word. The Holy Spirit moves people's lips to help us. Of course we must weigh what they say, but on the whole (if they are living in accordance with the Word of God, and not with a heavy hand on their convictions) we should take their advice very, very seriously.
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