Dec 27, 2009
Dec 26, 2009
Dec 25, 2009
These words hold meaning for many this time of year. It is a season when people intentionally act nicer. Some smile more than they normally would. I have personally noticed that some folks are down right purposeful in being happy this Christmas season. Indeed, these gestures are certainly welcome when they substitute the regular snarls, rudeness, and sarcasm that are typical of our daily interactions with others. Of course, for those who are doing last minute Christmas shopping, your experiences may be a whole other world entirely. Nevertheless, this season generally fosters charity toward others in more ways than one.
I am not normally an avid fan of the entire Christmas season, but surely would not consider myself a scrooge either. If I were to take a position on the "CHRIST" in Christmas debate, or speak on the apparent materialism of the entire holiday it would surely be one of indifference. I think it is a liberty to enjoy this time of year with family and loved ones, and should be cherished amidst the rat race we call life. It is the one time of year that the entire country slows to a crawl for one single day, regardless of faith preference. Although this time of year has been designated a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ I have witnessed it be practiced as anything but. I then would venture to beg the question here, and ask just what kind of significance does the birth of Christ really have on your celebration of Christmas this year?
In consideration of the change of 'heart' we witness in people this holiday season, and the more than obvious inference of Christ's birthday at the center of our reason for celebration (despite what the secularists aim to turn it into) I would propose that we re-evaluate our own perspectives in light of how we actually carry out our own celebrations. I say this not because I care to impose my personal practice on others, but that I am either hyper-aware or overly-critical of those of us who name Christ as Lord doing so out of one side of our mouths and still be being consumed with gift-giving and receiving out of the other.
If I am not making much sense with my comments or allegations, let me try to reel it in here. Two weeks ago my mother was complaining of ongoing back pain and having a hard time breathing. I had been observing a digression of her 'normal' health over a period of time and became very concerned. She finally resolved to pay a visit to the emergency room and I rushed home from fellowship to take her. After many hours in the emergency room they had brought us results of an x-ray that had been done. The preliminary findings revealed a mass in her chest and lungs.
At this point, I will admit that there are so many days in my life that tribulation does not touch. I feel there are many of us out there who can relate to this. When asked by friends, family, or brothers and sisters in faith how do I consistently stand on my faith in Christ, I typically respond to them to come and visit me when I am facing trials, tribulations, or persecution. Then I will tell you how it is I am remaining confident in my Lord's will. This is a true test of faith my friends. My mother being diagnosed with a small cell cancer in the lungs is not good news for Christmas. So do we consider this a gift or a curse?
I am not sure at this point. I now know much more than mere sympathy for those who suffer disease, endure family deaths, or are laid up in hospitals without family this time of year. I think I am experiencing a bout of true empathy at this point. You see, for this man, there is a boy inside who will forever see his mother as a superhero. A woman who filled the role of mother, and father. Nurturer and provider. A woman who in my perspective, and through the eyes of a child, will always be immortal. My mother is supposed to live forever isn't she? I know this is unrealistic, but I think its a hurdle we all face when dealing with the inevitable death of our parents.
So how about the inevitable death of us all? We too may get caught up in the world of immortality, and forget that we are dust. We shall return there someday, regardless of our faith, and inevitably face the Judge of all the earth. For my mother, I pray she finds the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that we can see these kinds of trials with a lens that focuses in on the truth of an eternity in Heaven, or Hell. We must know this season is not about nativity's, blinking lights, or wonderfully wrapped presents from the department store. I implore all of us to consider that we may trample on the 'reason for the season' when we reserve the debate of Christ in our culture for the month of December.
To close, if I make any sense at all, I want to point out the fact that our time here as believers is becoming ready for death. We too are to prepare others for death as well. It is not pessimism to remind others they are going to die, and that in order to live they will need to embrace and receive Christ as LORD! This is realism, this is compassion, and this is truly knowing the terror of the Lord. We know, therefore we must share. So when you say or consider debating Merry Christmas, or X-mas, or Happy Holiday, or whichever greeting you employ, remember it is not about symantics, it is about Christ. When you say Merry Christmas, do you mean "I hope you know the Lord Jesus Christ," or "Do you know the Lord was born to die for you and for me," or is it just a formality with no cannotation of Christ whatsoever?
I hope that Christmas is not the only time we Christians are determined to know Christ and Him crucified amidst a lost and dying generation. Most importantly, I pray that we are even more determined to face this reality with those we love when gripped with their impending death, and as we realize ours may come sooner or later, we to must be not only ready to die ourselves, but preparing others to do so as well.
Dec 14, 2009
Here is her introduction, I hope you enjoy the rest!
My family and I have had the privilege of hanging out with some unbelievably awesome single guys lately. A big reason I say they are so awesome is that they actually care about winning the battle with lust. Most men gave up long ago. Titus talks about Cretans whose “god is their belly.” In our culture, deity seems to have migrated several inches south.
But these guys have a problem, and it’s a problem that we have to own as their sisters in Christ. Everywhere they go, women are unbelievably unhelpful. Flaunting. Revealing. Immodest. Out in the world, we wouldn’t really expect anything else, but when it’s women in the Church, that’s a different story. Over and over, our friends have lamented that Christian women just don’t seem to understand what they’re doing to their brothers. I think that’s because no one is out there trying to teach them. And guess what, ladies, that’s OUR job. The Bible says that it’s up to women to teach other women how to be discreet and chaste (Titus 2:5).
But so many women can’t muster much passion about this issue. It conflicts with other values, or it just isn’t on the radar screen. So, in honor of awesome guys everywhere, I would like to present my Top Ten Reasons Why Modesty Gets a Yawn in hopes that all of us ladies can wake up, start being “teachers of good things” and consider how to provoke other women to love their brothers by making the gathering of the saints a safer place for battle-weary soldiers of purity.
Dec 6, 2009
"the voice of one crying out in suburbia...": Yeah but:
"Ah, our old friend and ace in the hole 'yeah, but...'. Normally preceded by 'Well Scripture says X' to which we respond 'Yeah, but...'. Even among (especially among?) 'Bible believing' Evangelical Christians, there are still so many passages that we run into that really make us squirm. More often than not, when we are faced with Scripture that runs contrary to our presuppositions and traditions, we simply shrug and explain it away or flat out ignore it. The typical response is 'Yeah, but...' Here are a couple of examples:"
Dec 5, 2009
Greek (Koine) Language Learning Tools (Free)
Enjoy! I hope these encourage you to dig down into the New Testaments original language, it is worth it!
Dec 2, 2009
While spending some time in Hebrews 11:23-27 I was enlightened by the response of Moses to 'choose' suffering with the people of God (Heb 11:25) rather than enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin (Egypt). Most notably, the suffering Moses chose to succumb himself to was not an individual suffering. This suffering was to be endured with the people of God, a community of believers, the people of God, and they were going to suffer the afflictions (συγκακουχέω) together. As quickly as we associate this with the words of Paul teaching the Corinthian Church about mutual suffering (1Co 12:26) we often disassociate ourselves from direct suffering and 'empathize' with those who are persecuted abroad. I do not think this is what the scriptures teach us about suffering with the people of God.
The dilemma Moses faced was one of flight from a world of riches, comfort, ease, and quite possibly an ascent to the throne of Egypt. Instead he had made a choice to not empathize with the people of God from afar, he made a decision to go into their midst and suffer with them. This was no mere act of martyrdom, or an attempt to be esteemed by peers for his bravery and courage. This act was a decision to hold fast to the promises of God, bearing the reproach of Christ (Heb 11:26), and considering eternal life with the King as a cause for his action. Considering this, why would one choose the riches of the world, or the fleeting pleasures of sin for a season over the riches of eternal life and heavenly rest?
It is indeed a difficult question for any of us to answer straight out. So many of us do not consider placing ourselves in harms way for the sake of Christ. We have become comfortable with our residency in Egypt. Today it seems that the 'church' has become so complacent that empathy for those who suffer affliction and the reproach of Christ is sufficient sacrifice and going ourselves is reserved for those who are 'gifted' for that specific purpose. My conclusion is this,
Jesus said in Luke 9:23-24, "And he said to all, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (24) For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it."
We cannot always be in a position to die for Christ, for it is only an event that the Lord surely ordains for those who have that distinguished honor. But, we can seek to be willing, and know that we like Moses can choose to suffer affliction with the people of God, rather than marry Egypt and all its sinful pleasures for a season. The issue is not can you die for Christ, or when will you die for Christ. The question is are you willing to die for the sake of the Gospel, for the reproach of Christ, and for the glory of God, should He allow you that honor?
Do you seek to bear the reproach of Christ? (Heb 13:13)
Nov 26, 2009
And lastly, let not our thanksgiving be only temporal and reserved for a specific day appointed for thanks by the ordinances of men, but let everyday be a day that those who truly believe, love Christ and seek to keep His commandments will give thanks for His sacrifice and redemption every single day. For Christ bore not just the wrath of puny men, but the might wrath of an angry God that we might know Him. Let us also give thanks that He was raised from the dead and appeared to many witnesses, as well as the disciples, and revealed to them that death had been conquered and that in Him those who believe will have eternal life.
Praise God for Jesus the Son, and our Savior, Lord, and Comforter.
Nov 19, 2009
So, I went and dug up an audio track, added the portion to it, and viola! You have my newest compilation. All the kudos really go to the artist who dubbed the audio, and the preacher who was delivering the message. I hope that my combination of the two will edify you. Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments!
Scripture: John 5:25-29
Original Sermon Location: Desiring God Ministries
Audio Artist Credit: Newgrounds Audio Portal
Nov 17, 2009
When experiencing the most nail-biting, fist-clenching, white-knuckling, grueling moments that test your patience and endurance, do you ever think of the patience and endurance of our Lord? I write this with no intent or direction toward anyone other than myself, and if it falls upon you, may you be blessed as well. I so love the word of our Lord as there's nothing that it doesn't reveal for us. There are no dark areas in our world that the light of God has cannot shine upon, His revelation is clear and concise, and cuts to the quick! That said, my motto has forever been, "Patience is a virtue, but it can also kill you!" I always said this because I hated waiting for things that I knew eventually would not go my way.
1Ti 1:16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.
As the Apostle Paul here makes a proclamation of the patience of our Lord he cites what appears to be his prominence and high favor that he held in the Lord. Who wouldn't be seemingly high-esteemed in believing they have favor in our Lord Jesus? His infinite mercy is enough to cause anyone who rightly has it and warrants an exceeding amount of joy and hope. As a matter of fact, the scriptures state that the fruits of the Spirit manifest themselves in our life as a result of those who belong to Christ Jesus.
Gal 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Yet for this reason I found mercy… Paul reflects on the abundant grace of Jesus Christ in the previous verse that it deserves full acceptance that Christ came into the world to save sinners. The only reason that he has found mercy in the Lord, is because Jesus came to save sinners. Paul goes on to make the proclamation that among sinners that he is (v15) foremost of all... This is no mere understatement or false humility. Paul does not make this proclamation based upon his false piety or self-righteousness. He makes this statement based on his honest assessment of who he really is outside the grace of God. I too, am chief of sinners when my deeds are compared to the light of our Lord. His grace is more than abundant (v14). I find that a tad encouraging, to know that just a little of the Lord's grace is enough to cover a multitude of transgressions. To describe it is not doing it justice but it brings it into perspective. That's true, saving, amazing grace! So that in me as the foremost... Paul is not assigning himself superiority, what he does here is assign the true value of grace that is worthy of the Lord's mercy. Paul, the accuser of the Church, murderer of Christians, and persecutor of the Lord Jesus proclaims the value of his redemption in the Lord. The very man, who stood at command of the death of Stephen, bows at the feet of Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God. AMEN! For His mercy is worth being waited upon. Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Do you have to explain that one? Should it even warrant any explanation? I don't believe so, but glory to the Lord of Hosts, let's talk about it! Christ demonstrates His PERFECT PATIENCE. How hard would it be for you or I to exhibit patience when wrath is due someone who knowingly, admittedly, and fully deserves the justice coming to them? The temptation of man to exact payback and demand retribution all too often drives our desires. We see this in the many things we do in life. Relationships, desires, decisions, and even when to go to bed is all driven by our own use or misuse of patience. This deserves much more attention on our behalf's, and the Christian should often examine His own fruits, as we all too often spend way too much time inspecting everyone else's. Not only is Paul stating his undeserving state, but he explains his understanding of the infinite mercy Jesus shows to those that belong to Him. While I place expectations on others, have I fulfilled those that the Lord and I have on myself?
1Ti 1:13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief;
The days of Noah during the construction of the Ark (I Pe 3:20) attribute a perfect example of the Lord's patience, 120 years He waited on the people of the Earth to repent, and they did not, except eight, who entered the Ark. Then there's the clear implication that His patience is so merciful, that man consistently believes he may put it to the test, forever trying to run the duration of our Lord's patience (Is. 7:13).
It seems to me that the patience we have, in all things should be measured upon not what we feel has been given us according to each one in a matter of portion. But, that we should measure the patience we have by the quality of its substance. The waiting and patience described in the NT is not any superficial like "patiently waiting for tomorrow's mail." This reduces patience down to something you know is going to come and merely becomes a delay or prolonging. No, the patience and waiting described is a patience that consists of eagerness and certainty. Not a certainty of knowledge of the result, a certainty on the Sovereignty of God! How great a blessing to be had to know that WE get to WAIT on the return of our Lord with a certainty that He will do as He has promised! Redeem those whom are His! So what is this eagerness like? It's a blessing that is afforded us through the knowledge of our Master's return.
"Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. "Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. "Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them. "Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.
Rom 8:24-25 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
Php 3:20-21 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
The conclusion is maybe not obvious for you, but is clearly obvious for me. Tonight, I've learned there is a greater joy in awaiting the will of our Lord then there is in pursuing the desires of our flesh. Even though our actions may be based upon good, well-intentioned, and providential motives, we can go seriously wrong. The only way to go right is through the will of our Lord. If Jesus Christ could wait patiently upon the heinous and gruesome acts of Paul, save him from damnation and give him purpose, then we too can await on the Lord to provide patience and an ability to await His will in our lives. This seems to me a bit better than me hurrying something along to get a temporary fix to a permanent problem. That's my thought today. Please be "Patient" in your commenting!
Nov 5, 2009
Why on earth do you subscribe to websites that sell sermon
The Clergy and Laity divide has been perpetuated for so long that the gap between the two is unmistakably distinguished by the ignorance of the so called 'laity'. Arthur in his post "On Human Authority", has drawn on this point well by stating,
Pastors are trying to do what the rest of the body is too lazy or too religious to do for themselves, whether in the family or in the gathering of the church. The life of the Christian is one of ministry, for all Christians and not for a select few by virtue of "ordination" by human organizations or by the assuming titles.
I think his point is valid. I would like to add to this that many pastors encourage their flock to educate themselves, learn the word, study biblical languages, and make disciples. But, this can easily be stifled by hierachies that rule out lay-ministry as being a legitemate service. You can only serve if you hold academic proof of your ability. What happened to knowing each other by our love? By our fruits? Simply stated, most who are not credentialed cannot 'officialy' equip the saints. If a teacher, gifted of God cannot teach because the clergy says so, then what must he do?
This still does not put onus on the 'clergy' to ensure that believers are apt,able, and equipped. If Christians continue to remain lazy in their study, fail to hold themselves and others accountable, and most of all are unable to discern truth and hold their leaders accountable due to lack of spiritual malnutrition and ineptitude, then the clergy-laity divide will never close. We may never see the end of honorific attribution amongst believers until the coming of our Lord, but one sure can hope.
Nov 3, 2009
What Should a Congregation Following Jesus Look Like? By James Lee, with special thanks to my brother Gene Parunak (Scripture Citations from the KJV).
(This essay was written as an entry for the Energion Publications essay contest. It coincides with the release of Dave Alan Black’s new book ‘Christian Archy’ which is now set for release. Please feel free to comment, as I really desire your feedback on this entry. I sure could have put much more into it, but due to my procrastination I barely made the deadline.)
One of the greatest responsibilities a believer can have is their obligation of obedience to the master, our Lord Jesus Christ (Lk 9:23). Today service to the Lord is distinguished by many different labels. The modern understanding of ‘the ministry’ has become inseparable from professional vocation. Those who earnestly desire to serve within the capacity seen as the ministry may only do so through the charge of academic accomplishment and scholarly attribution.
The question of what ministry should look like in a congregation following Jesus Christ should be answered carefully. Any response to the previously made statement may draw a stark contrast to what is understood as ministry in our modern church mindset. One major point that most would agree upon is that the Lord is a perfect example of what ministry looks like. A safe assumption that most could agree upon is that ministry is a calling inseparable from the walk that Christ draws us into through salvation. This ministry of our Lord is rightly labeled servitude, and this example should be our primary foundation.
In the New Testament (majority text), I have found the word diakonia is consistently translated ministry, or a form thereof. A few examples illustrate that the translators have responded to the context of its usage by using the word serving (Lk 10:40), ministration (Acts 6:1, 2Co 3:7,8,9, 9:13), relief of service (Acts 11:29), office (Rom 11:13), service or serving (Rom 15:31, 2Co 11:8, Rev 2:19), and administrations (1Co 12:5, 2Co 9:12). These variations are not empirical evidence that ministry is a responsibility of any particular individual of special accomplishment, but that service or ministry is a task given individuals of varying capabilities amongst all those who are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is these followers that are given diverse gifts and abilities in which they may perform the acts of ministry in cooperation with God that works with all in all (1Co 12:6).
The concept of what ministry looks like is much simpler than we have made it in our modern context. One must only appeal to the example of ministry in the scripture. It is often a travesty that cultural contextualizing and argumentation dismiss the specific yet simple demonstrations given to us through the teachings of our Lord, the doctrine of the Apostles, and the clear power of the Holy Spirit moving through the ministry performed by true followers of the Way. The truth of ministry is not fundamentally about what we are or what we do. It is the power of the Gospel transforming hearts and minds and the renewal of true compassion for those who are lost and dying. The ministry of a congregation following Jesus Christ today is a restored definition in a depraved mind of who mankind really is before a Holy and Wrath filled Judge. With this new understanding, ministry therefore becomes a calling for all those who have seen what they have been spared from, and then compels them so powerfully in the soul that it drives us to serve others. And, of higher significance, the ministry to each other, the called out ones, becomes one of such importance that without the building up, edification, and equipping of the saints we will wither away and become useless salt that has lost its savour (Mt 5:13).
The answer that we must return to a replicated state of practice that mirrors the exact practices of the 1st century church is admirable and serves as a measuring line. But, the truth is that community now is different than community then and we must make provision for this. Regardless of the pragmatism employed today or tomorrow we should not lose sight of what ministry is. Edmund P. Clowney in "The Church (Contours of Christian Theology)" stated,
Critics of 'churchianity' hold that institutional structure freezes the flowing streams of the Spirit. The task of the church is indeed spiritual, as we have seen: to worship God, to nurture the people of God, and to bear witness to the world in mission. Yet no less spiritual are the means that Christ has provided by which we are to achieve these three goals. The Spirit of Christ brings order, as well as ardour. (p. 199)
The truth of the matter is simple is it not? Should it be as simple as continuing steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking bread, and in prayers (Acts 2:42)? Of course we should! But, we must not become too far removed, nor too religious with our practice of order through the power of man, but seek that which will glorify Christ through the instruction of the Spirit. It is my premise that ministry in a modern congregation following Jesus can be described as merely giving to others what they do not already have. Visiting the inspired words of scripture to seek an example that will draw out just that could show us how and what we need to exemplify as believers that may 'serve' and 'minister' to others and our brethren what they do not already have.
Ministry in today's context should be powerful and able to convict leaders and rulers of their wickedness. We as believers must be faithful to the conviction of the Spirit through the proclamation of truth from God's word.
But some days later Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, "Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you."
Ministry in today's context should be powerful and able to convict false prophets of their error and stir them to fear the truth of the Living God.
Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.
Ministry in today's context should be wrought through the example of its members and create an example that warrants attention for its vast departure from the ways of the world, and by doing so exhibits things that become sound doctrine (Titus 2:1).
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
So, with reluctant conclusion to the points made here, service and ministry are very much one in the same. While they can be labeled with different characteristics, forms, and functions, they should achieve the same purpose. This purpose is often confused or much too often separated so far from each other that there is more 'service' than 'ministry' or vice versa. I admire Edmund P. Clowney's writings for the sheer fact that his words are sound and exhibit a true desire to retain a 'true ministry' that glorifies God. He says,
The three goals of the church are to be sought not only through the Word, but also in the obedience of love. When they are so sought, a ministry of order with result. The Lord rejects the worship of those who honor him with their lips, but who do not love and honour him in their hearts and lives (Is. 26:13). We nurture one another by deeds of love, not just by sharing Scripture texts. In the mission of the church, deeds and words combine in our witness (Phil. 2:15). Love that is real requires accountability, and accountability means order. The discipline of the church appears in the love that Christians show for one another, in encouraging, counselling, asking, 'How are you doing?' and looking for answer. (p. 200)(sic)
This aptly demonstrates the need for our ministry to each other and provides a point of commonality that will equip us to be true salt and light in the world while loving each other. We cannot accomplish the tasks of discipleship and proclamation of the Gospel through political agendas, legislated morality, bully pulpits, and sectarian distinctions that scream we are right and you are wrong. We can only accomplish true ministry in this century through the power of Christ, His Holy Spirit, and a love for one another that strengthens us to face the enemy head on, and storm the gates of hell with the victory that was wrought in the spotless Lamb's blood.
Oct 30, 2009
This message was worth the listen. It served as a good reminder of my personal obligation to prayer. It also demonstrates the typical attitude I develop toward the prayerless when in fact I am the one my rebuke should be delivered to.
Oct 28, 2009
Read Update Here
And hear Josef preaching in Detroit a few years ago,
Oct 24, 2009
If He has not loved us, then we are incapable of loving. Let us not become ensnared by the temptation to convert others to our own clever schemes of fulfillment and devices of gratification, but proclaim the truth of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, His victory over sin and death, and a divine transfer of true righteousness to our account.
Today, deacons and elders are usually 'men of standing.' In the New Testament Church they were 'men of kneeling"-- praying men. Who checks the prayer lives of the men to be elected? Usually no one. In other words, we will choose who we want and hope that the Lord will mercifully bless us.
Oct 21, 2009
Oct 19, 2009
Oct 18, 2009
It was sobering to see them all as I leaned against the wall and they all glanced at the new face that had entered the waiting area. I looked back with awe and recalled my own feelings of fear and anxiety as I too had sat in their seats awaiting judgment for my crime(s). I was often filled with doubts of the freedom I would have when my hearing completed, but held out for hope that the judge would go lightly and give me a 'second chance'.
Because I was there that day to have my record expunged from a crime I had committed in the past I was excited to see the Judge. It was the judge who sentenced me for my guilt just a short five years earlier, and that same Judge was now going to hear my plea for clearance of my record. And just as my previous appearance, my future would be dependent upon the mercy of the court.
I was relieved to not be experiencing the anxiety the other defendants were feeling that day. I had also arrived with an expectation that the will of the Lord would be done that day, and that it would be according to His purposes. Should I not have been cleared I would have still rejoiced that the Lord had saved me from His wrath. The previous five years of my life and the works I have done in them would all be worth it whether they contributed to my expungement or not. I think that there was something to be said for that feeling of grace I felt in the moment I looked upon those faces awaiting judgment. I felt gratitude that I will someday experience that feeling to much greater degree when I see the face of our Lord and King.
O' for that day...
Oct 17, 2009
I tell thee thou art right when thou prayest God to have mercy upon poor Christendom; for know that for many hundred years Christendom has never been so poor or so wicked as in these times; but I tell thee, whereas thou sayest that the wicked Jews and heathen are all lost, that is not true. I tell thee, in these days, there is a portion of the heathen and the Jews whom God preferreth greatly to many who bear the Christian name and yet live contrary to all Christian order... where a Jew or heathen, in any part of the world, hath a good, God-fearing mind in him, in simplicity and honesty, and in his reason and judgment knoweth no better faith than that in which he was born, but were minded and willing to cast that off if he were given to know any other faith that were more acceptable to God, and would obey God, if he ventured body and goods therefore; I tell thee, where there is a Jew or heathen thus earnest in his life, say, ought not to be much dearer to God that the evil, false Christian men who have received baptism, and act contrary to God, knowing that they do so?
I don't know much about the rest of this man's theological positions, but I do know this statement is one I can affirm, and should consider in my own life as well.
Sep 30, 2009
Berean Baptist Livonia can be reached at (248)477-6365 if you have any questions.
Sep 21, 2009
I think that writing well in the blogosphere is something that many bloggers consider. Then, there are those who blog just to break down other people, places, ideals, or (you name it). Unfortunately, we see a great number of blogs littered with worthless content of little value to our lives. On the other hand, there are plenty of excellent blogs out there that encourage, exhort, and admonish us. Some blogs even provide useful information on how-to’s, and in-depth book reviews. I believe there are too many blogs serving as bully pulpits and public address systems for individuals who normally would not have a venue to spread their vitriol or undue critique and they acquiesce power they normally would not have.
I have been thinking lately about the ramifications of the content I write. It is not so much that I feel as though I have offended someone or were thinking of doing so. It is simply a matter of assessing the motive behind the things I post here at the blog so that I do not offend. It has become a great conviction of mine to aim at being honorable with what I put in the public eye, no matter its content or form. This gives explanation for the lack of posting that has been going on here as well. It is definitely a perplexing scenario considering that I normally enjoy writing. A couple reasons why writing has been difficult,
- I have just finished all my final writing assignments totaling three papers of twenty-plus pages each
- After writing so intensively in the last two months I have grown bored with writing
- Writing is very involved if you aim to do it with purpose and care. Lately, I have not cared about writing
- When beginning a post I must first do a heart check, and lately they have been failing that test
- A good ol’ fashioned case of writers block plaguing my brain
- The content I have been considering covering lately has been one that is due diligent study, and if I have not studied it I should refrain from commenting on it
- And, I have been way too disorganized to put anything together of worth for the two readers I have
For better or worse, I hope to see some change in this pattern. I really do miss writing. I think the essence of my lack is found in the my concern of not causing anyone brother to stumble and to ensure a proper witness for the Lord while still doing what I enjoy. It has also become important for me to consider the impact it will have on my actions when I am kneeling before the throne of God.
For Christian bloggers, let us remember who we are accountable to. Let us also remember that our conduct should be kept excellent and honorable in the midst of this present age and that the blogger’s stage is vast and endless with many eyes witnessing what is written (1Pe 2:12). And let us finally be dedicated to writing to write well, not just writing for the sake of writing.
Sep 15, 2009
Spurgeon in making reference to a fair grounds said, "You have seen those mirrors . . . you walk up to them and you see your head ten times as large as your body, or you walk away and put yourself in another position, and then your feet are monstrous and the rest of your body is small; this is an ingenious toy, but I am sorry to say that many go to work with God's truth upon the model of this toy; they magnify one capital truth till it becomes monstrous; they minify and speak little of another truth till it becomes altogether forgotten."
Have you experienced this personally? How about with yourself? Let me know!
Sep 8, 2009
Bad Ministry - Having a church sign committee meeting to come up with a new "catchy slogan" that will draw people into the service next Sunday for the pastor to evangelize. (Rom 10:14)
Aug 30, 2009
Some of you may know that I have been extremely busy completing my studies these past few months. In the beginning the search for an agency to complete my social work internship had been wrought with complications and became discouraging right at the outset.
The first agency notified me a few days prior to my start date that they would not be accommodating my request to intern with them. This created a major delay that I was not entirely happy about. The second agency I applied to resulted in an internship but was riddled with scheduling conflicts that interfered greatly with my current day job. I continued for approximately a month getting what hours possible while accruing additional hours at a third option. I knew that it was going to become very tiring, very quickly.
While all this was occurring I persevered in a search for a better option. I was hoping for something that would be more hands on and wouldn’t be entirely filled with paper pushing. I was looking for direct interaction with a client/resident population. I wanted to be talking and working with people on a regular basis. Finally, an opportunity presented itself with a foster care facility for teenage girls. I was completely surprised and extremely apprehensive about this particular placement. I transitioned to the new agency with the hopes of completing all required hours (300+) by the end of August.
I can honestly say that I have walked away from my internship as a changed person. It isn’t that I’ve become specifically seasoned in foster care, or have now reached some level of expertise in the field of social work, but have been enlightened and encouraged. In the beginning things became hopeless and overwhelming. I had so many hours left to do, papers left to complete, and a deadline that was moving closer and closer. The pressure was mounting and I became worried that it would effect my intern experience. In the end, the result was everything turning out the way it did for its own specific reasons.
I have seen in my time working with these young ladies that there is a world of hurt out there many of us glance over with a minimum of concern. It is so easy to overlook the parentless and often physically/sexually abused children in our foster care facilities. Is this just another problem that is overlooked because we contain it with walls and institutional remedies? I have seen a part of the world that is such a stark reality but has become such a quiet problem.
The purpose of this post isn’t to direct blame or point fingers. It isn’t even a cry for reformation or remedy to a flawed social welfare system. What it is though is a hope and prayer to raise awareness of how we rear and raise our children. Even if you aren’t a parent (like me), what role do you currently play in becoming an example to a generation full of children being parented by media and their peers instead of adults who care for them.
While working with these children I saw myself in every one of them. I saw the atrocities they face and empathized because I too experienced many of them. At the same time my heart hurt for their pain it also cried out to God to humble me and make me of more use to them. The burnout in social service is incredible. The abundance of people working with those in need who have no desire to do much more than earn a paycheck is much greater. While all this goes on behind institutional walls, most of us stand back and hope others will fix the problem, or throw a little money at it and assume that it is enough to abrogate your duty to your fellow man.
Looking back on the experience as a whole I have come to many realizations. One of them is that God has ordained the path on which I must walk, and while I still make the decisions to obey or not, I still seem to wind up where He uses me. For that I am grateful. I have also learned a potent lesson. If we as people, or as disciples of Christ exemplify that God has created each one of in His image (believer or not) by serving others with the understanding that it is His glory to be had and not ours, we may serve others with more compassion, love, and understanding that if we didn’t. And, in this case, caring for souls that have eternal destinies is not the means to an ends that serves as provision of our needs, but a privilege that the Lord of Hosts and savior Jesus Christ has allowed us to participate while meeting our needs at the same time.
I will remember to serve Him for His glory, and be grateful when He blesses me with provision for all that I require. I will not be angry when it feel that is not enough, and I will rejoice when I have received more than I need. I will always be thankful that He has saved me, a sinner, and allowed me to serve and bring the message of redemption through the Gospel, becoming a living sacrifice, and seeking to glorify Him in all that I do.
Peace be with you,
Aug 23, 2009
Thanks to those bearing with me!
Peace be with you!
Aug 15, 2009
To the writer of the letter to the Hebrews,
Your name has been lost in antiquity but your letter was never about you. It was always about Christ, our Great High priest. In much the same way as the original recipients of your letter were overjoyed to read of the new replacing the old, the imperfect sacrificial system being fulfilled in Christ, the need for human priests and intercessors done away with, their role fulfilled infinitely better by Christ, countless Christians have also been filled with joy at the completed work of Christ.
Brother, I am writing to you with a heavy heart. I fear that those who have come after you have let the comforts of the world cloud our judgment and deflect our gaze from Christ. The
Today the majority of those who have declared Christ as Lord have sought to replace the Jewish priesthood with a new, equally fallible priesthood of men. We exalt them. We give them vain titles to lift them up. We seek men who are talented and learned to rule over us instead of men who are humble to serve alongside us. For over one thousand years, virtually all of the church was under the dominion of a series of men who declared themselves the “Vicar of Christ”, a special representative of our Lord. These men lived, and still live, in opulence unknown to the world outside of the most privileged few. They arrogantly taught as doctrine the teachings of men. Even after by God’s grace their influence and dominion was largely broken, we have replaced one form of human priesthood with another, replacing “priests” with “clergy”.
We have replaced the ornate religious rituals of the temple with a new set of rituals, rituals devised to show piety and righteousness by those who have no righteousness outside of Christ. Our carefully crafted and elaborate ceremonies would make the sternest Pharisee proud and woe to the believer who strays from the script! We have made laws where none exist and ignored commands when the world frowned.
We have abandoned the simple and humble worship of Christ and sought to build new temples, gleaming edifices full of religious symbols, relics and talismans. We brag of multi-million dollar new building projects to replace existing multi-million dollar buildings. Monologue has replaced mutual edification, the simple shepherd replaced by the CEO, worship that exalts Christ has been replaced by worship that elicits applause.
Brother, I am confident that you have spent these many glorious years with our Savior and have set aside the concerns of this broken world. I long for that marriage feast of the Lamb when we will dine together and this sinful world will have passed away. How I wish the church today would heed the words you wrote so many centuries ago! The hearts of men have not changed much in 2000 years. Men still crave prestige and acclaim, the acclaim of the crowd. Men still desire something, someone tangible to worship and revere.
Aug 2, 2009
Thank you for your encouragement to earnestly contend for the Faith, from your following statements, it seems you we’re pointing to the fact that because of the ungodly men you spoke about getting in the way, it’s hard to see the forest through the crooked trees. I’ m sure glad that there are examples that we can look to, like you and your brother James. By the way you probably already know this but there is a compilation of scriptural books from before and after our Lord came now all put together they call the Bible. And even though your letter is only one Chapter of it; It‘s a great one Jude.
I hate to say it Jude, but as many victories and advancements that have been made in the Church, she is still very splintered which allows a lot of the corruption you spoke about to continue. Maybe it’s not like Sodom and Gomorrah but I know of sects/denominations that look the other way at known fornication, not even realizing their refusal to correct this is passing on a license to the next generation. And there’s more that is too grievous to even explain here, but many that go by the name of our Lord have given in to the pressure of the world and licensed detestable acts, further confusing true seekers.
I pray we would all awake from our slumber and realize that we will have to give an account for this.
Jude, I know you warned us, but it’s still surprising. The world here seems to be changing with each passing day; all I can say is come quickly Lord Jesus.
The mockers you mentioned often seem to be running things. ( They rule the media it seems)
One more thing Jude; what they call your epistle in verse 23. There is a problem here, maybe you can get a few of the saints up there praying. Not many here even acknowledge much a healthy fear of God, it seems gone from government (and the more liberal Churches) If the more conservative Church brings it up were called haters.
But we know we’ve a job to do even if it’s not popular, I’d rather be hated for telling the truth now and someone was being saved, then to have my Lord ask, ‘why didn’t you tell them?’ I just wish the Church all spoke the same thing. Persecution wouldn’t sting so bad if more of my brothers stood with me. But I thank God that He will build His Church. Again, come quickly Lord Jesus.
Jul 31, 2009
The church service started in 2002 in a member's house, and has been gathering at a church building built with the help of Christians from Zhejiang province since August 2006. On March 23, 2009 the church was raided by six Public Security Bureau (PSB) and government officers who confiscated both the property of the church and a check with more than 10,000 yuan which was the believers' offerings.
The PSB officers covered the Chinese characters "God Loves the World" on the top of the gate with iron plates. Authorities accused the Christians of being a cult, Falun Gong and a reactionary organization.
Three church leaders, Mr. Chai Yongwen, Ms.Yang Huimin and Mr. Ma Deyan, were taken away for interrogation. Later, Mr. Cai Yongwen received 15 days of administrative detention, and Ms. Yang Huimin received five days of administrative detention.
The Christian Church of Huaguan Town sent a statement to the international community in which they made the following request for prayer, "We hereby request the brothers and sisters to pray for the expansion of the Gospel in the disaster areas of Sichuan, and we implore God to give us His wisdom and strength while dealing with these rulers!"
Contact the Chinese embassy and ask that Christians of the Christian Church of Huaguan Town be allowed to meet freely.
Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong
3505 International Place, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel: (202) 495-2000
Fax: (202) 588-9760