Jul 31, 2008

True Witness and True Fellowship

Aristides, a 2nd Century Christian Apologist writes (interpreted from the Syriac Version) in observation of Christian behaviors in the early Church. Also, listen to an awesome sermon by Dr. John MacArthur of Grace Community Church, CA.

"They abstain from all impurity in the hope of the recompense that is to come in another world. As for their servants or handmaids or children, they persuade them to become Christians by the love they have for them; and when they become so, they call them without distinction, brothers. They do not worship strange gods; and they walk in all humility and kindness, and falsehood is not found among them; and they love one another. When they see the stranger they bring him to their homes and rejoice over him as over a true brother; for they do not call those who are after the flesh, but those who are in the Spirit and in God.

"And there is among them a man that is poor and needy and if they have not an abundance of necessities, they fast two or three days, that they may supply the needy with the necessary food. "They observe scrupulously the commandment of their Messiah; they live honestly and soberly as the Lord their God commanded them. Every morning and all hours on account of the goodness of God toward them, they render praise and laud Him over their food and their drink; they render Him thanks.

"And if any righteous person of their number passes away from this world, they rejoice and give thanks to God and they follow his body as though he were moving from one place to another. And when a child is born to them, they praise God, and if again it chances to die in its infancy, they praise God mightily, as for one who has passed through the world without sins.

"Such is the law of the Christians and such is their conduct."

Jul 30, 2008

Paul Washer at Berean Baptist Church - Missionary Conference (Livonia, MI.)

In October of 2006, the same year I had begun to learn about true missions, prayer, and justification by faith, I was fortunate enough to learn the Paul Washer (Heartcry Missionary Society) was preaching at a local church in Metro-Detroit. Berean Baptist Church of Livonia, MI. hosted a conference that was packed with Paul's powerful preaching. Right-Click the file description and "Save As" to download these awesome MP3's. These files will only be available for download via this post temporarily. After this coming Sunday, August 3rd. They will only be available through SermonAudio or Email.

Jul 29, 2008

The Odd Man Out

Short and sweet today. One Christian, Three Muslims, One Apartment. Give praise to Jesus for such an opportunity as this to minister the gospel to three Muslim men, alone in an apartment, over tea and soda. Pray the seeds that were sowed are watered and soon harvested!

Pray that our dialogue continues and the truth about the Messiah becomes evident in the hearts of these men. Pray that He draws them unto Himself and the Lamb that was slain receives the full reward of His suffering.

Jul 22, 2008

A Disciple's Taste for Neckbones and Gizzards (Pietas II)

If I were to claim expertise on the topic of which I have chosen to examine (Pietas/Piety) I would be a bold faced liar. But, I have not claimed expertise nor do I wish to. The purpose in writing on this topic is one of many sorts, but quintessentially is narrowed down to one factor. It has occupied a great majority of my thoughts, meditations, and prayers as of late. I blog here to share these thoughts in hopes of encouraging, edifying, and admonishing members of the Body of Christ. If it stands as rebuke, that was not it's intent. It's purpose is to examine just what distinguishes "piety" from "Pharsaical religion." These two components are clearly distinguishable in the New Testament and a few passages are quite famous in their documentation between Jesus and the leaders of Jerusalem on the very topic. I do not intend this to be a discourse. I'd be comfortable labeling this has a "primer."

Ahem, please let me clarify that gizzards gross me out, and I think that they are something that should be inedible. Matter of fact, if there were legislation to ban gizzard consumption, I would check that box to help the cause. But, there isn't one and I cannot stop people from eating gizzards. Nor will I hold any contempt or prejudiced against them (or you) if they do.

Matthew 15:18-20 provides the text for today's entry. In reading this passage we could do well to take note of the whole context in which Jesus' words were prompted. Upon rebuking the Pharisees for their hypocrisies, Jesus and the disciples converse among themselves (Mk 7:17 cf. in a home) and they request clarification from the Lord of the parable as they had done on previous occasions (Mt 13:36, Mt 15:15-16, Mk 4:34, Mk 7:17, Jn 16:29). Ultimately, we receive a very clear explanation of what Jesus meant as well. We get to thank the confusion of the disciples for that one!

Now Jesus clarifies the importance of this dialog through simple meaning and reference to the prophecy of Isaiah (Mt 15:7, Is 29:13) and likens it to the current generation of Jews. Be it as it may, these words may have had a previous audience when spoken by the prophet, but the oracles of God saw fit for them to apply aptly through the authority of Jesus to speak them again in this setting. The question to be answered here is not were the Pharisees and their practices hypocritical, Scripture clarifies this many times (Mt 7:5, Mt 23:23-29), but what is the point I'm trying to make by telling you all this?

My point is this. The superficiality of Pharisaical religion is found in the understanding of our own personal sins. Where there has been victory won through sanctification, perseverance, and hard won battles of the flesh it is dangerous for NT believers to hold these victories as standards for others to hold to. Worse yet, that they become disqualified in their salvation because we determine them ineligible based upon our own personal piety. Woe to us who yoke our brethren with a yoke that Christ has removed in His sacrifice upon the cross. The other dilemma posed by this situation is far more terrible than the former. This situation occurs not out of the possession of maturity and inner piety, but through the dismissal of our Lord's teachings and how clear they really are.

In an article by Dr. Tom Ascol called "The Heart of the Problem" he writes,
"Failure to accept our Lord's teaching at this point inevitably leads us to locate sin outside of ourselves. This makes it very easy to create an extrabiblical list of activities and objects that we designate "sinful" and rail against them in the name of holiness. Such lists are limited only by the imaginations of their creators and have, in some conservative Christian circles, included everything from sports and movies, to wine and masculine facial hair.

"But Jesus teaches us that sin does not originate "out there." It's haven is the human heart. Martin Luther came to see this and it caused him to say, "I am more afraid of my own heart than of the pope and all his cardinals."

It would seem that firing up the bullhorn and engaging every single Christian listener, Sheeple People, or Joe Schmoe on the street would be a perfect remedy to informing them of every single thing they are doing wrong that keeps them at enmity with Christ, but I would contest it doesn't. They are already at enmity and will stay there until He draws them unto Himself. Fortunately, He has provided a means by which we can participate in that process. It's called preaching the Gospel, and that includes Christ crucified. The sole transformation of deliverance from these things Christian or unbeliever, is the transforming power of the Gospel. As some of us so often forget, the Gospel is for everyday, not just THAT day you were saved.
"By piety I mean that union of reverence and love to God which the knowledge of his benefits inspires. For, until men feel that they owe everything to God, that they are cherished by his paternal care, and that he is the author of all their blessings, so that nought is to be looked for away from him, they will never submit to him in voluntary obedience; nay, unless they place their entire happiness in him, they will never yield up their whole selves to him in truth and sincerity."

-Calvins Institutes book 1 ch. 2, Knowledge of God.

Jul 21, 2008

Greektown Gourmet for Mario

Friday night brought forth some interesting situations. One that is worth mentioning and of slight humor is brother Mike being unable to giveaway doughnut holes. It was near impossible giving them away, even to hungry street people. A few of the regulars of the Greek town district took some doughnuts and in exchange a few minutes to listen to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Coming back up Lafayette we bumped into a guy who wouldn't take a tract, we soon learned the reason why. He was a representative of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, although he wouldn't acknowledge that was the name by which Jehovah's Witnesses operate under. While spewing his indoctrinated rhetoric I made as many attempts as possible to leave him with a single question, "If Jesus is the sole mediator for man (1 Tim 2:5) unto God, then why do I need the Watchtower?" This did not seem to register the point, please pray that his friend next to him, who did take a tract, was listening to the conversation that went on. Pray for Kent also.

Eventually we met up with Mario, who professes Christ and has spoke to other evangelists before. He even seem to recall speaking with us in particular. Mario was hungry and didn't want Mike's dry bagels. It was about five minutes later that a drunk couple stumbled by us and gave Mario a steak dinner they didn't even touch. I guess that's a blessing no? Mike spoke with Mario for some time while I awaited an approaching "Red" who seemed highly inquisitive of what we were up to.

Red, or Theo, or whatever his name was (he claimed a couple) was internationally known in the streets. He was 'reppin' and was a big time playa in the D-Town dope game. However, he was reduced to workin the Greek town streets, and almost possibly preying upon the suburban suckers that get hustled while they visit downtown and have no idea how to say no. Then again, crack will greatly inhibit your judgment and decision making capabilities. We ran into a few of those earlier in the evening. They wanted money for parking, when they said they lost all there money, couldn't stay awake while talking to us, we gave them the Gospel and offered to help them get there car out of the garage, but in following them to the garage, they made an attempt to lose us and we returned back to Beaubien and Lafayette. Theo left us in gratitude and was showing conviction in his eyes as he continued on about really wondering just "WHY" Jesus was so narrow minded?

Mike carried on a conversation with Edward after Mario left and he offered to sell us weed several times while saying that he knew God and walked in His ways. We encouraged him to examine himself against the Scriptures and to repent of his sins. He agreed that 'pimpin poison' was not a reputable line of work for a man of God.

The night ended with Mike and I sitting on a corner chatting about Luke 13:1-9 and just how important that text really is to understand. Also, the power behind it's application to those who consistently dismiss others based on their own experiential understanding of faith and salvation as opposed to the Scriptural diagnosis of what really ocurrs in the sanctification of a believer and the proper response to one who does not show fruit yet may be a brother.

Jul 20, 2008

Jul 19, 2008

Deliver Detroit is One Year Old

Did you know that this past month marks the first year anniversary of this blog? You might have just found it, or maybe you've always been a reader, either way it's been a whole year! To my many faithful readers (all 3 of them) thank you for your support and please keep reading! Also, if you're a new reader and have yet to interact, please do, I enjoy making contact with my readers and love to hear your input. Remember, the comments section is always on and I encourage all to use it! I look forward to hearing from you, if you're not a commenter than you can reach me by email also!

Here is a snap shot of the old blog, remember it?

Jul 18, 2008

Worthless Prayer Meetings - Paul Washer

Two years ago I had the privilege of attending a missions conference at Berean Baptist Church of Livonia. It had been the first missions conference I'd ever attended where there was a week of truly sound biblical doctrine expounded upon and prayer being emphasized as a key element in missions work. This particular conference inside of one week's time, in a small congregation, with little amenities (hardly able to be labeled as a "wealthy church") raised an amount equal to that of the yearly budget of the United Methodist Church I was currently attending, and they were in the red to boot. The final night (of which I was in attendance with some friends) Paul Washer preached his second sermon on the importance of prayer and what it really is. Here is a clip of that message I think we all should find very sobering.

Jul 17, 2008

Advent of Christ in a Sinner (Pietas I)

Essentially midway through the two week period that marks the anniversary of my sequential arrest, heroin detox, and salvation in the Wayne County Jail (Detroit), I have been in much thought. These thoughts have not only been occurring as of late, but ongoing for the past month or so. It is just now, during this time of gratitude, memorial, and reflection that it starts making more sense than it did four years ago.

Since it was merely a two week period spent awaiting the Lord (as I did not know that's what I was doing), there was little time to do any other thing than think of the pain caused to others by me, the magnitude and seriousness of my crimes, the future implications of the life I had previously led, the HIV and blood test results that had yet to arrive, and total fear of release back into the world again. During some points, there were thoughts that led to a preference of remaining incarcerated, at least by this I knew what to expect each day in and day out.

Let it be understood that I could meditate and elaborate for hours and on many things concerning my feelings regarding this period of my life. But to this day let it be known that this period is one I hold in high esteem and regard it highly unto the Lord. It marks His advent (coming) into my life and redeeming me from what was a horrible existence physically, but most importantly; what was becoming a horrible life eternally. In my sin, He showed me grace.

Following this salvation, this act of mercy, this great work of God wrought in the life of a sinner who had once thought himself unworthy of forgiveness, what was to come? What is to come in any believer following their conversion? Just what is required of them now that they have professed Christ? What kinds of circumstances follow conversion that encourage or hinder the believer in sanctification?

I ask all these questions with personal reference as well as reference to all who name Christ as Lord. Is there a set standard that determines the rate of development believers are to endure? Is there a pace that is set and held to in order to determine the legitimacy of one's confession? Who's side of the yoke is heavier ours or Christ's? In bearing the burden and enduring the walk of a Christian, I would contend that Christ's yoke being easy, and His burden light, He is bearing and has already bore a majority of the load and has essentially made it easier for us to bear through His finished work.

Christ stated that His yoke would be easy and burden light; directly referencing the yoke the Pharisees and Scribes were laying upon people through the law of Moses and their unbearable burden greatly magnified by the ceremonial and traditional burden that was added, Christ makes it clear that this is not what He requires. Matthew 11:28-30 show just what the Lord meant by this, and picturing two oxen yoked together shows us how a load is bore. Although the load is taken upon two yoked together, this does not necessarily equate the two as being of equal stature or capability, it merely means they are yoked together.

Think about it, I'll be back with more in the following days. I have been deep in thought and consulting the Scriptures daily as I examine these things and the Lord has shown me through His Word many wonderful things.

Jul 13, 2008

Lucky Number Thirteen (13th)

In July of 2004 a new chapter of my life was opened. I might even venture as far as saying that in that year it wasn't a new chapter in and of itself, but quite possibly the only chapter that ever mattered.

Today marks the four year anniversary of the first day I spent free of heroin. This is a day I am eternally grateful for. While it's not like a birthday that is celebrated with cake and ice cream surrounded by friends who are all happy for you, it is a day I give gratitude to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

A short summary of that day might go like the following. I awoke in a precinct holding cell in Lincoln Park, MI., sick as a dog. I grew annoyed by the relentless questioning of the case detective and angry at his sarcastic banter that was making fun of my withdrawal symptoms. The bones of my body began to ache from the inside out and nausea was quickly setting in. The fear of withdrawing from heroin that kept me using for so long was finally a reality I was going to have to face.

My future was quickly on my mind and I was not too thrilled about becoming a convicted felon and spending time in Detroit's Wayne County Jail, but it was going to be so. And so it became. That day I was transferred to the County Jail and I began a week of withdraws that I remember to this day. In such vivid remembrance I keep in my mind a portrait of what I never want to be again. A junkie I was, and a junkie I'll never return to being. With the worries of what my life will become darkly overshadowed by the sickness setting in, I accepted my new realty, and in some sick way, was happy that I was finally going to 'kick' the dope.

Spending time in a quarantine cell that held twenty inmates and was maxed out with thirty was not very pleasant. Mingling and living with drug dealers, killers, rapists, and child support evaders was not something this suburban white boy would ever think he'd end up doing, but it too was sobering. However, it was a safer environment than the one I had been arrested in. One week in that unit was what I spent and was eventually transferred to general population. I could actually walk better and was getting over the puking that is typical with DT's (withdrawal from alcohol/heroin).

Another week passed by and I finally felt human again. I could smell, taste, touch, talk, and see (thanks to the glasses my mother brought to the jail for me) again. I was starting to know what it was like to be alive. I spent six months in the streets masquerading as the living dead. Never, no never, did I think about being saved by the Lord Jesus. Nor did I ever ponder the thought of living a life of righteousness and holiness that can only be had through His Holy Spirit. That week, He revealed to me in salvation that it could be a reality. That week, He chose to save me from my sin and deliver me unto Him.

Praise God for His infinite mercies. The previous description barely scratches the surface of the things I endured and experienced up to that day. The journey following was not a bed of roses either, but all of it pales in comparison to the climax of light and perfection of the Lord's pardoning and sufficient sacrifice for me.

Four years is a long time for a heroin addict to not do heroin. In comparison to ten years of heavy drug and alcohol abuse, four years is finite. I've lost many friends to heroin and drugs over the years. I've also seen a great many more people fall victim to it and suffer physical consequences in their latter years.

While I held my three month old niece today I thought of new life. I thought of being born again and a clean slate. I thought of how my family would not trust me with a dollar let alone this precious little child. I think of forgiveness and the gift of eternal life that instills gratitude that runs so deep a tear wells in my eye as I type this. I think of my family who tells me how great I've done and how quickly I get to tell them It isn't me, but Christ that lives within me (Gal 2:20).

In closing thought I share with you this. One night I sat in a dank and dark basement with a cocaine dealer, and we were carrying on about religion. In justification he shared with me a reason why he thought we were doing what we were doing. He shared Romans 7:19 with me and upon reading it, I burst into tears. Occurring several years before my conversion, I knew this was not a justification of my sinful lifestyle, but now understand it to be a revelation of what His Sovereign Hand was doing. I now know that He was going to call me unto Himself, and now know Him as Lord and Savior. That verse was the only one I knew after my arrest. It was the only one I could remember in my head until I had a Bible given to me. I now also see how the Roman epistle served to convert a great many a men and now count myself as one of them.

Praise His Holy Name!

Jul 12, 2008

Update on My Muslim Friend...

Unfortunately, there hasn't been too much to report on my friend who recently converted. He has benefited from all the financial support that has come in to assist him. He has said many times to send his thanks and gratitude to all those who have contributed. It has been hard for him to swallow his pride in many ways and accept outside help, as he wished to work for it. I'm afraid this is a human thing that is greatly magnified by his culture.

Contact with him lately has been hard and dealing with his wife is difficult. She seems to have a memory lapse disorder and has a hard time remembering me. It is also difficult getting straight information out of her as she may or may not be lying personally. As of now, she does not appear to be a believer.

My last contact with them resulted in learning that he has been picked up by immigration and detained for an expired work visa. He is being held in a detention facility by the Federal Courthouse in Detroit on a $2500 bond. I'm doing what I can to get more information about how to help him out of the situation.

Please pray for him and his family.

Jul 11, 2008

Featured Sermon/Audio Friday

Once in awhile, there's a sermon that helps you deal with some hard things. Sometimes, there's a sermon that hits the nail on the head. Often, the Lord speaks directly to you through the proclamation of His Eternal Word. But there also comes a time when a message does more than make you go hmm, It makes you rejoice and be glad that the Lord has chosen the preaching of His word as a communication of His oracles. And lastly, there are always those sermons that help you paint a clearer picture of just what it takes to walk in righteousness and how to live a life that conveys a better testimony of His work in you! Here are one of those sermons...

Title: William Tyndale: A Life Transformed By God’s Word
Speaker : Pastor John Piper
Ministry: Desiring God
Message Delivered @: New Attitude Conference 2008
Download: Right-Click and Save-As

Play Now:

Description: Original Description from NewAttitude.Org

Pastor Piper tells the story of William Tyndale who “had one driving passion: he wanted to see the Bible in English so that ordinary folks would have access to it.” From the life of William Tyndale and wanting us to follow in the footsteps of William Tyndale, Piper made the case that “there are things left to be done with the Bible in this world that you should do.”

Piper declared two ways that we must die to advance God’s cause through the Bible:

1. We must die to the notion that you don’t have to work hard or think hard to achieve spiritual goals.

2. We must die to the notion that thinking hard and working hard are decisive for achieving spiritual goals.

Piper drew from 2 Timothy 2:7, ”Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” Piper highlighted this dual call of the Christian to 1) think hard and 2) recognize that our thinking and working are not ultimately decisive, God gives understanding.

You’ll want to get the audio to hear Piper tell Tyndale’s story and to hear Piper challenge us to not waste our life, but instead strive to be like William Tyndale.

Jul 9, 2008

The Difference Between Priority and Privilege

Me: How are you?

Them: I have no food, we ate out last can of tuna last night.

Me: (Glancing at the foggy door glass from the central-air running) Is everything else okay?
Them: I hope so, maybe in the long run we will be.

Me: Maybe a rearranging of priorities is in order? (cell-phone, central air, cable-TV, cigarettes, electricity, water, food?) Sometimes we take our luxuries for granted don't we? Maybe you should get rid of some of your unnecessary expenses?

Them: Those aren't luxuries, this is America, it's our way of life.

I'm hungry, but I need to buy cigarettes first. Why is it I should help you again?

Jul 5, 2008

Oh For Shame...

Even in the knowledge of the presence of Christ (believers), I do find it to be war when fighting temptation. Yet, sometimes there's that brazen sin that is as if you are scoffing the God who has given you life.

I am unworthy of His grace. Pray for me.

Jul 3, 2008

E-Sword On The Go!

Ever been in school, at work, or out and about and wished that you had access your E-Sword? Maybe you just wished you could install the worlds best free bible study software on every computer you come into contact with? Well, no worries! E-Sword is now available live! Anytime or anywhere you need to access one of the best free resources on the net you can. Go to E-Sword Live Now!