Nov 26, 2009

Give Thanks in the Name of Christ Jesus

For those who name the name of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, let us give thanks to Him today for the grace He shown to all of us. Let us give thanks to the common grace He has given to the world as well. Let us give thanks that He has provided the times and places of our habitations that we may hear the gospel, those who haven't will have an opportunity, and that we can rejoice in knowing the Lord as Savior.

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

Jesus Raises all the Dead, all of Them: John Piper

I was listening to a podcast from Desiring God the other day, and a portion of the sermon really struck me. John Piper was speaking about the rising of the dead when Jesus calls them to life. The dead are all raised, every one of them, to judgment. The just, and the unjust. This is a pure demonstration of the power of God and how His resurrecting power will bring those who know His Son, and those who have rejected Him to life again.

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

Fruit of the Spirit: Patience

This is a re-post from back in the day. I have writers block and no time lately. Figured this would be worth revisiting. Enjoy.)

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.

Luke 12:35-38
"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

Sermon Manuscript Subscriptions = $$$

So you, or your parents, or whoever has paid good hard earned money. Or, hard donated money to help you gain an education in Biblical Studies. You have obtained a seminary degree, maybe even have acquired a doctorate and have all the credentials for the pastor position you now hold.

Why on earth do you subscribe to websites that sell sermon illustrations subscriptions? Why on earth do you grieve the Holy Spirit with this foolishness, this charade?


Pew Warming, Seat Sitting, Lazy Christians

Honestly, I have made it a point to ask folks I know that profess Christ if they remember the 'Sunday Sermon' and what it was about. I find it puzzling that they often have to think very hard about it, more often than not, do not recall. This is saddening in some regards, and is an indictment on myself as well as those who are guilty of complacency in their biblical study.

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

Ministry: Giving Others What They Don’t Already Have

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."

(Acts 24:24-25)

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.

(Acts 13:9-12)

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.

(Tit 2:11-15)

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.