Dec 30, 2010

Book Review: A Case for Amillenialism by Kim Riddlebarger

Case for Amillennialism, A: Understanding the End TimesA Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End Times by Kim Riddlebarger has been sitting on my bookshelf for about two years now. At least I think that is how long it has been there. Nevertheless, the past year, as tumultous it has been for me, I have been trying to finish it. The problem is, I have been continually reading other books while I have been reading this one.

This book is rather weighty in comparison to most books I read on a regular basis. It essentially comes off as a theological treatise on eschatology more than an apologetic for the end time view known as 'Amillenialism.'

Riddlebarger makes it easy for me to relate to his views in this book because he focuses on the scriptural evidence while keeping the views of other end time perspectives in consideration. But there is a primary treatment of the Dispensational perspective, the view both Kim Riddlebarger and myself were former proponents of. This bias that may have developed shows itself consistently throughout this book.

I believe it is easy to adopt the views of others concerning the 'last days' in Christianity when the subject is made into a checklist and easy to digest. There is so much material on the subject at the Family Heresy Store in the $5.00 bin that anyone came become an armchair analyst of the end times. Unfortunately, a great majority of American Evangelicalism has come under the heavy influences of Premillenialism, Dispensationalism, and what I often refer to as Rapturism. This book would be a good place to start discerning the different view points before you 'camp' out in any particular teachers philosophy.

If you are looking to hear an honest analysis of the Amillenial viewpoint and digest a careful exegesis of the critical end times texts like Matthew 24, Revelation 19 and 20, and other critical contributions referring to Israel and its future, this book may serve you well. Even though it took me too long to read it, it probably is not a book I would blaze through anyway. I look forward to reading it again.

Hopefully you will too.

Dec 27, 2010

A Twisted Scripture

In the spirit of Alan Knox's " We Live It" series,

And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you your seminary credentials and pastoral training in that very hour what you ought to say shall prepare you to exegete the Scriptures correctly." (Luk 12:11-12 Twisted)

Dec 25, 2010

Book Review: Mere Churchianity by Michael Spencer

Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped SpiritualityMere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality, is Michael Spencer's one and only book before his passing and he leaves us with a treatise on what he has termed 'Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality.'

An enjoyable read for those looking to hear from one of the Internets most outspoken voices on the world of Christendom as many of us know it. Most notably, Spencer speaks volumes to those who have made an attempt or successfully escaped Christendom. With a humble down to earth approach, Spencer has directed his writing efforts in a new way. Now he is lending his effort toward a few specific groups of people,

 - Those who have already left the Church and rejected it

 - Those who have already left the Church and are seeking a genuine experience of 'Church'

 - Those who are thinking of leaving the Church

 - Those that have left and are thinking of going back

The readability readers of have enjoyed previously is also present here in this offering. Michael Spencer shares with his readers the personalized experiences from his life that have given him a desire to be and see a new example of the life that discipleship should give in the lives of believers.

Finding my own fundamentalist values challenged at every turn of the page has left me asking questions, turning to my Bible, and praying to the Christ for guidance on His will and how I can faithfully take part in it.

I would have liked to see a little more theological treatment of certain issues (mainly a definition of Church according to the Bible). I did not particularly care for some of the subtle ecumenical apologetics, and felt like I had read some of the latter chapters previously. Who knows, I could have been experienceing Deja-Vu, but it seemed like Spencer began to repeat himself.

Worth the purchase, so check it out!

"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."

Dec 23, 2010

Sowing a seed of death in the life of another

Death is an inescapable statistic that effects every living human being. Comparably, it effects all living things. In the past few months, a significant number of friends and loved ones have passed away. It causes one to consider the superstition that death hits home frequently during this ‘holiday’ time of year. I am not quite sure that it is more frequent, but I would attribute the season and family significance as playing a major role in the impact death has on family and friends. Most importantly, it causes me in particular to consider my role in those individuals lives. Did I have as much an impact on their life as their death has on mine? This hits much closer to home in the loss I experienced earlier this year when my mother had succumbed to a hard battle with cancer in a few short months. How much more do I hope that I had a significant impact on the one who bore me, nursed me, and loved me despite my past?

These are troubling questions. It is all the more troubling when I consider whether my impact was effective in changing their lives for the good. But what if the impact that one initially had was negative? What if my contribution to their life, in the long run, contributed to their death. This is such a sobering thought, because it makes you wonder why have I been left standing here to continue on, when my deeds, are much more deserving of the death endured by those I care about? Even if I made amends, and attempted to right the wrongs by doing something good for them before they died, have I truly done justice by them?

I suppose the case and point here is this. Guilt. It is powerful. It can crush someone, and it can destroy them. Guilt has certain degrees, depending on one’s conscience, but it still effects everyone of us to an extent. I am experiencing a little guilt, or say, responsibility for being the person who may have tipped the first domino in an old friends life, if I may be extreme here, many of my old friends lives. To say the least, their decisions are solely their own, but my contribution to their bad decision essentially initiated that chain of events leading to their demise. Should I feel accountable to some extent here? Should I acknowledge and accept this guilt that I may more fully repent?

One can consider Luke 9:62 and the setting of our hand to the plow and never looking back. For we shall not be worthy if our head is constantly over our shoulder, and the Kingdom will no longer be in our sight. But having been redeemed, do we now consider that the contributions, the sins against our neighbor, the life we once led is dead with the old man, or does the old man’s deeds still have bearing on our flesh. This is a tough one to meet out when we consider a Christianity that is entrenched in perfectionism and false piety, alluding to some victory over this life without trial. As if we are living our ‘best life’ now.

In a closing thought I am considering the idea posed to me by a dear brother in Christ. What was the response to Paul, now an Apostle, dead to Saul of Tarsus coming back through the towns and villages he once ravaged, seeking the blood of disciples who followed in the Way. What might have been the perception he had of the children left behind to dead fathers, imprisoned mothers. What of the widows and the stumbling blocks placed in the way of many who witnessed this man, who once committed evil in the name of religion, now proclaim the good news of eternal life? Eventually, we read that Paul’s resolve was nothing more than to know Christ and Him crucified amongst those he ministered to (1 Cor 2:2).

Christian, does your life’s history impact your future? What is now the measure of your resolve with your sins in view? Does being forgiven much cause you to love much (Luke 7:36-50)? Is the love you show a communication of the same life giving sound and voice of the Lord Jesus Christ that saves you? Tell me, are you making amends through sorrow or proclamation of the Gospel?

Yes, I feel some guilt behind the events of my past, but one faithful thing I can account to the Lord’s grace in all of this is amazing. I have witnessed His love for sinners through the opportunity given to preach Christ and Him crucified to those men before they died. We all are going to die. What is the measure of your resolve?

Dec 15, 2010

The autonomy to worship gods and idols

Originally posted at Seeking a Kingdom. Please note, we are still looking for authors interested in writing devotions for the blog. If you are interested, contact me through the tab above.
Isaiah 40:18-19  To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him? An idol! A craftsman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and casts for it silver chains.
Scripture illustrates man’s propensity to create his own suitable standards. We value our way so much that even our standards as followers of Jesus Christ, start to become negotiable. When we find ourselves in this trap, we quickly begin making God like us, and in this we transgress His law (Exo 20:3-5). We begin to appeal to our own autonomy. Our defense and logic generally results in a self-righteous sentiment, “but God is loving, and understanding.”

Jesus spoke with a rich man who asked what was required of him to inherit eternal life (Mk 10:17-22), the Lord demonstrated the measurement by which men are evaluated and spoke to him of the law. But this man had great possessions, self-righteousness, and a trust in human attainments rather than Godly gain. But God’s love and understanding said (v21), “sell all that you have,” lay down your riches, follow me.

A scribe zealously assured that he would follow wherever the Lord went (Mat 8:19-22). And faithfully, those who approach Christ receive the ‘love and understanding’ of God. He draws out the truth of his motives by showing his utter lack. Following Christ wholly is dependent upon setting our affairs in order first. Man’s agenda to live life in accordance to man’s autonomy is minimized by Christ’s words, “let the dead bury their own dead.”

It is possible for Kingdom citizens to demonstrate faithfulness, realization of truth, and a casting out of dependence. Casting aside the old man we establish a desire to exchange our ways for Gods. The believers in Asia, under the instruction of the Gospel learned a better way. Their dependence upon magic arts and costly books quickly became irrelevant and they burned them, disposing of the foundation they once held dear, despite their cost, and established a new level to build upon (Acts 19:17-19).

All man is counted as dead in trespasses and sin (Eph 2:1-2), and in his innate desire to worship something, has chosen idols in the place of God. Man has chosen autonomy that supplants the statutes of the Most High and casts out any need for dependence upon Him. But who is wiser than God? Who consults of themselves and receives counsel more worthy than the Lords (Isa 40:13-14)?

We must ask ourselves if our watches are stopped at a pivotal time in our own history. Is the mystery of God made known to us? Have we heard the voice of the Son of God and now live (Jn 5:25)? Or do we seek status in the Kingdom without subscribing to its requirements?

The rich man was dead, and subject to his idols. The man burying his father was dead and subject to his idols. The book burners were dead, but they heard the voice of the Son of God, received life, and cast out their autonomy, their choice to follow man’s ways, his knowledge, his books of wisdom. With Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God, the answer to idolatry is cost counting. Has God’s love and understanding set you free from your chained idols, who are dead works of man’s hands? Or are you still autonomous?

Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, renew in me a right spirit, cast aside my transgression, and illuminate my path with your righteousness. Lord, let my ways be your ways. Let me worship you and seek your will. Let me strive to follow you, the Good Shepherd. I do not want to be bound to the work’s of my mind or man’s hands, but to your word.

Dec 14, 2010

Book Review: Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Galatians (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament)
Galatians (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) by Thomas R. Schreiner is a fine example of a good commentary. With a mass of past and contemporaneous commentaries available to us for study, this new venture from Zondervan is very promising.

With most commentary, you will find a scholarly observation of the text, but be succumbed to an overwhelming abundance of authorial opinion. With the systematic breakdown of each chapter and verse, this commentary will only expose you to succinct portions of the author's opinion, and leave the rest to your observation of the text. Leaving you to compare the opinion of the writer to the content of the text, based on what the text actually presents, is a good plan for any exegete.

What's more appealing here is that the author does not merely expound upon a Greek explanation for this and for that. The commentary pains itself to clarify conflicting views, Greek translation, and scholarly perspective. The language of the commentary is conveyed in such a way that one need not be fluent in the original language to benefit from the exposure it provides, although it does help to know some basics. Plainly stated, this commentary is as much for the 'layman' as it is for the 'academic.'

Five great things about this commentary in particular -
  1. It is lightweight, readable, and presents well
  2. It exposes the reader to the essential information necessary for good exegesis, like background, opposing views, and language translation.
  3. It is affordable.
  4. The series is not bound to a singular author and each New Testament book is unique.
  5. It demonstrates the importance of understanding the nuance of language on modern exegesis
I wholly recommended purchasing this commentary if you have a few dollars in your book budget. If you have a ton of commentaries on Galatians, I am not sure this is going to stand out much more than some of the classics, but its editing, approach, and presentation will surely provide a refreshing approach to all things commentary!

*I received this book from Zondervan as a review copy

    Dec 3, 2010

    You lay your gift at your altar, and I will lay my gift at mine.

    In light of a recent discussion with a brother concerning how brethren are to treat one another when disagreement arises, I would like to re-post my thoughts on the matter from 2008. They are still the same as I have indicated here, and I still find it amazing that we seldom practice what we 'preach.'

    An interesting thing has occurred to me. So many of us believe that we fully grasp the consequences of our actions before we make decisions. So many times does this behavior incessantly repeat itself. On the contrary, the Christian, should learn from the mistakes that have been made. The benefit would then be applying the lesson learned from the consequence to any actions thereafter. So what of the behavior that causes tension amongst members of the body of Christ? When bad decisions are made, consequences occur, and chastisement (by the Lord) follows, what then? Does the failure to make the right decision warrant excommunication of the offender? To what degree and extent are consequences to be carried out?

    Mat 5:24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

    So reading in Matthew, I observe the teachings of Christ, and the principle of reconciliation toward others when offense has occurred. Now I would ask the question, if you are making offerings up to God by way of worship, are you doing so without offense to God, or are you offending God by your worship for leaving such matters unattended? Or is it downright apathy and a willful choice to ignore it until it goes away?

    On to the last part of my concern. In the case of division, and the clear cut obvious nature of it's existence, what is to be done next? Division is clearly defined as being a separation between two things. Whether these things be people, places, or things, they are no longer in unification or like-mindedness. The Greek word σχίσμα (schisma), is the root word from which we base our own English word schism. It is a metaphorical definition of division or dissension. In reference to I Corinthians 12:25 this point comes home in a full thrust. Paul was instructing the Corinthian Christians to treat each other (as different as they may be) and care for each other the same as those who were similar. The attitude toward the gifts of others or the lack thereof is to be the same. We grieve when others are afficted, and we rejoice when others are exalted, all this we do as if it were occurring to us. This is unity amongst the brethren in the spiritual sense. Not a denominational, creedal, or formal allegiance. But in a purposeful, intentional, and cohesive bond that is unbreakable because it exists in the whole that is Christ's body. Existing eternally for His glory and Temporaly for His purposes.

    What's my point? Well, I would ask that if you preach Christ crucified, reconciliation of sinners toward God, and a righteous standard of living, then you should also exhibit that in your personal relationships with others. And where we fall terribly short (I do all the time), we attempt to correct the behavior, learn from it, and move on. Furthering our purpose, unison, and commission in the same spirit without division. If we are considering the differences of our brothers and their shortcomings when interacting with the body, we are also considering our own. This should be of the first things we consider before we cast our stones (or apathy) at each other.

    Nov 24, 2010

    Book Review: Breaking Bread

    Do you bless your food before you eat? How about after?

    Deu 8:10-12  And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.  (11)  "Take care lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today,  (12)  lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them,

    The topic of 'breaking bread' has always been interesting to me. I must admit, I am on a self commissioned quest to debunk the mystery of the souffle cup of grape juice, and a teasing oyster cracker as sufficient means of celebrating the 'Lord's Table.' I keep asking over and over, what does it all mean.

    In my questioning, I discovered a book regarding the topic of, you guessed it, 'Breaking Bread.' Only this time, the perspective is painted with the brush of meals in Judaism.

    If 'breaking bread' in ancient Judaism meant having a meal together, what is it that the early Christians would have done as well? The author's premise is definitely not to treat my thesis, but there is an interesting view introduced in it's pages. The Halachah, or the blessing placed on meals of believers changes how we view feasting.

    This book takes the reader on an exciting journey into the biblical precedence of praying the Torah and Blessing the Lord, not just the food, for the meal. It is compact and approachable for the reader in many regards. You can find the book for a mere $10.00 online, or visit their site for other great products and information from a Messianic Jewish lens. Visit First Fruits of Zion for more great stuff.

    Nov 10, 2010

    Blindness by Michael Snowdon: How precious is sight?

    Blindness from Michael Snowdon on Vimeo.

    Excellent video set to the instrumental of 'Nothing But the Blood' by Page CXVI. Of whom is currently streaming songs from their upcoming album Hymns III. If you have not heard any of their contemporary renditions of classic hymns, they are well worth the listen.

    Nov 7, 2010

    Why Four Gospels? A review

    David Alan Black has written a new book. Or more accurately, has updated a previous edition, and published a second, therefore making it new. It is also NEW to me. I had never heard of the previous version or the thesis that he introduces in the new book.

    Black introduces his perspective of the 'Fourfold Gospel Theory' regarding the origins of the synoptic order concisely and coherently, in a fashion that is readable for scholar and non-scholar alike.

    With the majority of scholarship assigning the Gospel of Mark as the baseline document for Matthew and Luke, Black introduces a perspective that is often overlooked concerning Church history, the Patristics, or the early Church Fathers. Black's thesis promotes the concept that a majority of the early church documents, from Justin Martyr to Augustine (100ad - 400ad) all consistently testify of the prevalence of Matthew's Gospel being written first.

    With the prevalence of evangelical dismissal of anything common to the 1st century or pre-reformation thought concerning the order and historicity of Church life, or documents, this book comes as a challenge to the dismissal of Patristic witness concerning the chronological order of the Synoptics. Black brings his deductions to a level of understanding that most of us can understand and consume while challenging us to examine how we view the documents themselves.

    Many might ask why it would matter to examine this thesis of Black's? They might even question what the necessity of looking outside of the canon itself to learn about the origin of our scriptures would avail? But the question I often ask in response is why have we blindly accepted so many things concerning the text that directly contradict some of the earliest and most astute scholarly witnesses that the church as known? The church fathers precede the reformers, the age of the enlightenment, and contemporary scholarship, but rank low on the level of progression toward intelligence because of their age. Yet, their witness is just as adept today as it was then, and their scholarship is as acute as some of the best that modernity has to offer.

    You can find the book on Amazon or order direct from Energion (Free Shipping)

    Dr. David Alan Black has taught New Testament Greek for over 30 years. He holds a Doctor of Theology from the University of Basel and is currently professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC. He has published over 20 books, including The Myth of Adolescence, Interpreting the New Testament, It's Still Greek to Me, and The Jesus Paradigm. He and his wife, Becky live on a 123-acre working farm in southern Virginia.

    Nov 1, 2010

    You may not like this...

    If you are easily offended, don’t read this.

    The nature of public spaces is such that we the people will alternately amuse, befuddle, bore, and appall one another. There is no way around this. The best we can do is to be civil, polite, and tolerant. Generally, we do alright together. In fact, I have an increasingly high appreciation for the general politeness of my fellow humans. I hope I can hold up my end of the bargain.

    Our church fellowship has been making a point of heading to Liberty Plaza most Friday evenings to participate in food distribution to the homeless and working poor of Washtenaw county. I credit those by-standers who may not appreciate seeing a hundred homeless folks in "pristine" Ann Arbor with at least being tolerant of the activities. The realities of the scene include the regularly scheduled drunks and the occasional fistfight. I think that the average bystander, however, can acknowledge at least the good intentions of the effort, if not fully agreeing with the details. Again, I give my fellow humans credit here for some demonstrated tolerance.

    Now, being easily mistaken for a narrow-minded, intolerant, ignorant, homophobic, uptight, self-hating, christian bible-thumper, your humble correspondent has plenty of potential opportunities to get on his high-horse and ride off in offense at the goings-on in the wilds of Ann Arbor. Problem is, I don't feel terribly offended by my fellow humans. The more I talk with people, the more I feel for them. We may differ on many things, but I hope I give them as wide a berth as they generally give me.  Getting hit on by a guy does not offend me. Having a druggie throw over my serving table does not offend me (OK, I was MOMENTARILY steamed...) F-bombs do not offend me. Are there things I'd rather not have my 6 year old daughter see and hear downtown? Sure. But I kind of understand why people do what they do, and it gives us things to discuss afterward. We've all got our beliefs.

    Being almost Halloween, the zombies were out in force on campus last Friday night. So, too, were the ninjas, secret agents, video game characters, etc... Now, this isn’t the point of this piece, but I've come to a place in my life where I really don't want anything to do with Halloween. I used to do it as a kid. I even used to make some pretty scary haunted houses. I never meant anything truly evil by it. I just like the theater of it all. But at some point, any fun I derived from the occasion became subservient to the realization that we were celebrating evil. Life's too short, and I'm here to point people to Christ, not to devils. I can't slice it any other way anymore. You might not agree. I trust we can tolerate each other. I get where you're coming from. I really do. I hope you can understand where I'm coming from too. I love you. Don't hate me just because I'm different.

    All this is simply to say, we all have our differences, but I think we learn over time not to question each others' sincerity. We’ll talk things out, and that is what will determine how much we have in common. We may see things differently, but that’s OK. I don't particularly want to see zombies, but I'm not offended by zombies. Live and let live... er... die and... well, never mind.

    Which brings me to the point. It’s not about Halloween. Something else the other night really made me question the intentions of some of my fellow humans. Let me be blunt.

    Ladies, I'm struggling with the fact that 90 percent of you felt that the only acceptably creative bottom half for your costume that night was nothing more than a pair of panties. Sure, you had the brilliance to vary the colors, but come on, seriously?

    Back up for a minute. When ONE of you walks by wearing something excitingly above average I can chalk it up to your beliefs vs. my beliefs. Pardon me if I bounce my eyes away and don’t look at you. You’ve got your freedom. I’ve got mine. The pavement is my friend. It’s not that you look bad in the least, but if I let myself enjoy looking at you I’ll be taking that bit of attention away from my wife. It may seem awkward that I snap my eyes away from you, but you’re not really offending me. I hope I don’t offend you. I’m just saving my eyes for my wife.

    Fast forward. When I see a couple hundred of you over the course of a few hours and it becomes clear that your southbound creativity stops at your navel I’m suddenly overwhelmed by the fact that you are not expressing your individuality. You are corporately expressing the internationally recognized signal for “look at my crotch.”

    I know that you probably don’t mean to say that. After all, there’s a good chance you’re only doing it because everyone else is. You want to look attractive, and let’s face it, the “standards” went “up” last night and you had to follow suit to get any attention. But that is exactly the problem. You are asking for “attention” from every man you pass. And what exactly do you think is on their mind as they stare at you?

    What’s worse, this means that you are unwittingly attempting emotional robbery from every woman who happens to have a claim on one of those men. I’ll wager that most of you individually, secretly want “your man” to have eyes “only for you.” Be honest. Would you want your boyfriend, fiance, or husband looking at some whore who’s dressed the way you’re dressed? Think about it.

    And if common decency isn’t a powerful enough motivator, then you’re also probably naive enough to think that all those guys are just appreciating you for all that “inner beauty” which just happens to be shining out from that spot between your legs.

    So, why do I care?

    It's not a "spiritual thing". Dressing less provocatively will make not one iota of difference to you in the grand spiritual scheme of things. Not one bit.

    So, why not go for it? Whether you get drunk or not, you're going to feel buzzed from all the attention you get. Why not go for it? I bet you like having men follow you around like puppies. Why not go for it? Might as well. Empowering? Sure.

    The reason I care is because I don't think most of you can see beyond the attention to the intention. Would it shock you to know that you're being constantly mentally gang-raped by all those "adoring" guys? Every second you're out there, someone's mentally doing you.

    Don't get me wrong. The ultimate blame falls on each of those guys alone.

    I used to be one of those guys. I know.

    And you guys out there know exactly what I'm talking about, too.

    Oct 29, 2010

    Witnessing in Ann Arbor tonight

    We will be in Ann Arbor this evening preaching the Gospel. Please pray for us, join us, or come heckle us. Either way. We'll be there somewhere.

    email me james_At_[deliver][detroit][dot][com]

    Resources page updated

    Added some additional links to the resource page. Hope to add more soon. If you know of some free resources to help other brothers and sisters grow in their understanding of the Scriptures, and walking with the Lord please feel free to comment and I will consider them for addition to the resource page.

    Resources -


    eStudySource. This site provides premium resources for the e-Sword - Here

    e-Sword users has a plethora of free tools add-on's and hard to find commentaries to add to your e-Sword toolbox. - Here

    Bill Mounce has a number of resources ranging from flash summaries, video lectures, iPod downloads, and study guides. Most of these correlate with Mounces Basics of Biblical Greek textbook and workbook. Either way, it is very helpful - Here

    Oct 28, 2010

    Coming up Methodist: Gods wonderful plan

    “God has a plan for you, to give you a future and a hope,” belted an older bearded man from the window of a black Buick Reatta cruising past as I stood on the concrete stairway of the First United Methodist Church smoking a cigarette waiting to go into the afternoon Narcotics Anonymous meeting. As I finished smoking my cigarette and watched the tail lights of the Buick cruise off into the distance, and I thought, “weird!” I was provoked to think of “Gods plan” and went in for my daily dose of Narcotics Anonymous.

    Recently coming off of a seven year hiatus from reality, my life had been halted in its tracks, and through a series of providential events, the party was officially over. I had come to know the Christ through a faithful minister visiting the County Jail and preaching a faithful message of repentance, trust, and forgiveness. I had experienced a glimpse of reconciliation with the Creator, and I wanted to know more. But, I had only been able to get glimpses through the doors that were open, and ultimately through the ones I had walked through.

    I had very little exposure to the organized Church at large, and even less exposure to genuine expressions of Christianity in general. The one thing I currently had in common with the First United Methodist Church (FUMC) at the time was that it was host to several twelve-step meetings throughout the week. As a matter of fact, the rumor in the recovering community was that the pastor of this church was very friendly towards those who called themselves addicts and alcoholics, and encouraged them to meet in the FUMC. He was even known to make appearances at the meetings. Quintessentially, he had already shattered many typical paradigms.

    By all definitions of the practice, and the tendency of, this man was unique as a “pastor.” Comparing him to the stereotypes most would have of pastors was difficult, and only added to my interest in this particular church. He did not proselytize, pressure, or encourage church attendance. But, he did foster relationships with those who were coming to the NA/AA meetings. Of which, a few had already begun attending services and serving in the assembly in some fashion. At that time, relationships were what I craved, and genuine people were what I was looking for in my life, as at that point, all my past affiliations had suffered a major purging.

    As it turns out, that bearded man yelling from the Buick Reatta was that same man who was pastor at the FUMC. As unconventional the approach seemed, it worked to grab my attention. But most importantly, it demonstrated a characteristic of a pastor that I had not known would become so important to me. This man, was a shepherd, with a shepherd’s heart, and he went after stray sheep. Tragically, he was not as appreciated by the majority as he was the minority. But, his deeds can be seen manifest in several people’s lives, of which a lasting impression of the love of Christ has been left. It may be safe to say, that a lost sheep is generally grateful to its retriever, and thus demonstrates gratitude. That gratitude can even be extended to the shepherd’s faults. It is even easier to extend that grace when that shepherd is also known as brother, servant, and friend.

    This would be the advent of my journey into Methodism. Brief as it was, laden with trials, and chock full of surprises, disappointment, and malcontent it served as kindling to set a fire that has not dampened since. In large part, there is a core group of people in that old steeple house at 3 Town Square that showed an old sinner like me how to be loved. They also showed me how to love in return. Christ manifest in the life of a believer is a genuine outpouring of His characteristics, and in keeping with His commandments, loving God, and loving one’s neighbor. I didn’t live very close to any of those folks, but they made me their neighbor. As for the shepherd? He was one of a few men who stood in places I shouldn’t go, prodded me in the proper directions, was faithful to the Scripture by pointing me to them when we disagreed and in showing me the Words of the Good Shepherd ultimately, submitting to the Christ.

    That man was, and is, a godly example toward me. Most notably, toward others, which proved more reputable. I write this as a bit of biography, but in part as a tribute to him, and by proxy, his wonderful wife. Dave and Ellen, you have both proved worthy of the office bestowed to all true genuine Christians, Saint. The wonderful plan (Jer 29:11), I would soon come to realize as a proof text well out of place Biblically, would prove to be a fulfilled word of knowledge from that rascally pastor, Dave. And today, there is evidence of a true wonderful plan at work in my life, in spite of tragedy or prosperity. There is a much larger story than me.

    next: Coming up Methodist: Fire in the bones

    Oct 13, 2010

    Evangelism report from beginning of month: 10.01.10

    Overall the night got off to a good start. Levi from the assembly meeting in Rochester Hills drove down to help reach out. He also attended the previous week with us as well. He is a zealous young man and eagerly desires to preach the Gospel publicly. He likes to author and design his own tracts as well. He has an older brother, Eliezar that has witnessed with us in the past as well. We arrived down at Liberty Plaza and assisted Kirk and Genii with food distribution, Gene brought pizzas, and some students from Campus had come alongside us to help with the food distribution. They are participating in cooperation with folks from ‘Red Cross.’

    The laborers  who went on to the campus and downtown for evangelism were Gene, Myself, Brian Frei, Levi, and Carissa. Please uphold them in prayer.

    As usual, Levi freelanced and sought conversations up and down the street while we parked on the corner of South and East University in front of the PNC bank. It was a slow start at first and he had trouble striking up conversations. He said he had a good conversation with an Atheist man who had good, legitimate questions that he didn’t know answers to. He has been encouraged to study harder.

    We were using the “NarrowMinded” tracts tonight as well as displaying the ‘Are you a genius’ illusion board with Albert Einstein’s reversed image on it.

    Farook – This man was passing by and took one of the tracts I was holding out. I explained to him what it was and he took it. He returned a few minutes later and was confused, he thought we were “against religion.” When he asked what it was I told him it was the gospel message of the Lord Jesus Christ. I explained to him the difference between religion, and faith. He tried returning the tract to me, but per usual, I encouraged him to take it and keep it. It was ‘his!’

    Ming – Brian spoke to Ming after he had been drawn to the illusion board. Brian used the conversation that started to segue from the ‘natural’ to the ‘spiritual.’ Ming had a Catholic background and was from Korea. He spoke with Brian at length regarding the differences between Biblical faith, and Catholic dogma that equates to tradition more than faith. Pray that God reveals the simplicity of the gospel to him.

    Josh – Another conversation that was initiated by the attraction to the illusion board. Josh had a Catholic background and has come to the University from Ogemaw county, Michigan. He had a nominal understanding of the scripture and related to stories I shared with him, but had little biblical foundation or knowledge. We discussed the state of man in his sin, the just penalty of our judgment in our guilt, and the need for a mediator between us and God. He affirmed everything that was said, and even agreed that the ‘works’ taught by the Catholic church were insufficient to be a worthy offering to God. I pleaded with him to consider his state, read his bible, and contact me if he has any questions. He thanked me for the conversation and went on his way. Hopefully, we may hear from him again.

    Greg – This young man passed by with a group of friends who were intrigued by the illusion board we were  using. He then stopped to seemingly ask genuine questions. Some included ‘why’ and ‘what’ we were doing out there. We explained to him that ‘narrow’ way of Jesus Christ and gave him a tract (along with those in his group). We spoke for a good 20 minutes concerning the difference between mainstream ‘Christians’ and those who walk on the narrow path. He had an interestingly sound grasp on Biblical Christianity, and proclaimed that when it comes down to it, he acknowledges that God is the only true counselor in the affairs of men. He was very open and challenged by the disparity he observed in our approach to evangelism, the discussion about a necessity for holiness, and the abundance of hypocrisy that seems to characterize Christianity to the unbelieving world. He thanked us for the conversation and took some information from us. The best part was that while his friends pleaded with him to leave our discussion, he emphatically made them wait for me to finish speaking with him. Pray for his salvation.

    Oct 4, 2010

    Prayer Station: Help Needed

    Readers and friends. I would like to propose an opportunity for you to participate in our outreach efforts. I am currently seeking local businesses and storefronts to host a prayer station in or on their property. With the winter quickly approaching, outdoor ministry efforts are often slowed, or sometimes completely stalled. But, I want to remain diligent in preaching the Gospel to the citizens and students of Ann Arbor.

    With that said, I am in need of $350.00 to purchase the equipment and supplies. The distributor has agreed to provide the station at a significantly discounted rate to us. Through this opportunity,
    • We will be able to pray for individuals needs directly in the name of Jesus Christ
    • We will be able to utilize their time with us for proclaiming the Biblical Gospel
    • We will be able to utilize otherwise down-time for continued diligence in reaching the lost

    If you are interested in assisting us in the matter we would be grateful for any contributions you may make. We do not often solicit funds of any sort. If it is the will of the Father for this endeavor to take place, He will provide. This is merely an effort to make the need known.

    You can use the widget below to donate, or find it in the right-hand column of this blog.

    Sep 30, 2010

    Motivated by sight, obligated through obedience: Evangelism

    It seems that I am always pondering our purpose as witnesses of the salvation that only Christ can bring, I frequently grieve at the utter insufficiency of my efforts. I am daily reminded that witnessing for Christ is not witnessing for my 'church,' or my 'denomination, or my 'bible study club.' We are not seeking converts to ourselves, but striving to add others to the Kingdom of God. Not only is there an overwhelming sense of utter inadequacy toward my efforts at being holy and faithful to this end, but there is also a welling up of gratitude for the sheer privilege to participate in the great commission. (Matthew 17:17-21)

    As those who have witnessed the resurrection power of Jesus Christ in our own lives, we should be compelled to labor for that which is imperishable (1 Corinthians 9:23-27). Storing treasure up for ourselves in heaven is not shopping at some spiritual Walmart, or making pretty little arrangements to hang on our heavenly mansion walls (Matthew 6:19-21). NO! It is a desperation that presses us toward the work of heavenly joy, earning crowns to cast at His feet (Revelation 4:10-11).

    Praise God! He gives us not only the Spirit to war against the wiles of the enemy (Romans 8:15, 2 Corinthians 7:1, 2 Timothy 1:7), but He gives us the commission, the work certificate, the denarius for a day's labor, His shed blood as payment toward the remission of sins. This is as good a reason to go into the field and labor as any! He grants us the tools that we need to sow, scatter, and water the seed of the gospel (Ephesians 1:1-23). By this, there is only hope to bless His name by remaining obedient to the call. We cannot reject our commission, it is imperative and inherent, to our discipleship (Matthew 19:19-20).

    Peter and John were ordered by the Pharisees to silence their proclamation of the name of Jesus Christ. They could not remain silent because they had seen and experienced the living Christ. More so, they had been blessed with power from on high to go into all the world. They could not stop their mouths from 'speaking of that which they had seen and heard.' This is not a foreign, unrealistic experience reserved for only the apostolic ministry. This is your obligation. If you have been redeemed, you have been set apart, and if you have been set apart, you have seen and heard the salvation of the Lord. Witnessing  the resurrection of the dead is a firsthand experience you and I both observe when we meet with other believers, those who have been bought with a price bear witness to the dead-raising, life-giving power of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 4:19-21).

    Bless God that we can store up treasure in heaven. Understanding the value of the life that is to come simplifies the acceptance we must have with the the present life we live. Judging the ascetic appearance of the two reveals they have so little in comparison. What we value, is what we love. If we value anything greater than Christ, we have bowed to an idol. In the word's of Leonard Ravenhill, "We have not lost our first love, it says we have left our first love."

    Please take a moment to listen to watch/listen to the video in the right column featuring an excerpt from a sermon Leonard Ravenhill preached concerning 'The Judgment Seat of Christ." It comes from the former "BraveheartedThots" website. Now known as "Ellerslie Short Films."

    You can download the full-sermon at Sermonindex here.

    Sep 29, 2010

    The Holiness of God: Mark Cahill

    Mark Cahill gave a talk at the Livingwaters Deeper Conference: 2009. It was titled, "The Holiness of God." Mark speaks emphatically about the necessity of sacrifice and its contribution to holiness that glorifies God. I listened to the talk earlier today and found it most encouraging. That is to be said, most of his talks will make you feel lukewarm, but this particular message was edifying, convicting, and spot on. Go check it out at Mark's website for free.

    Does holiness, or the lack thereof, keep you from being a faithful, credible witness for Jesus Christ? 

    Mark Cahill Ministries

    The Holiness of God talk stream
    The Holiness of God talk download

    (Consider supporting Mark's ministry, he offers all his resources at donation value, meaning, what you want to pay is what you pay. They also give away tons of resources for free.)

    Sep 28, 2010

    Shift in direction: Detroit to Ann Arbor

    Theoretically, the blog is called Deliver Detroit. But, lately I have been in Ann Arbor. Yes, I know there is not only a span of some forty miles that separate the two cities, a sharp contrast in culture, but also a completely different economic environment. If you have ever been to either, you may know what I am talking about.

    With the glaring disparity between the two cities, there is one thing in common, they both have people, they both need preaching, and they both are within my reach. You see, for the time being, I now live happily between the two cities and able to commute to either in just under a half-hour.

    That, said. The blog name will remain the same, of course, because it is paid for, and it still remains relevant. If you know my testimony, you know this is the city in which I received my deliverance. Detroit is also where I mostly work, and it is the place that will forever have my heart. The people still need deliverance. The city is in shambles, economic disarray, and spiritually under siege by they heartless prosperity and liberation gospels. I continue to pray on behalf of the people living there, both the lost and falsely converted.

    Ann Arbor, is where I now fellowship, at least mostly. It is also where I have been spending most of my time doing street ministry. It is my belief that the Lord's hand has moved me in this direction over the past year. We have been reaching out to the homeless population, students on U of M's campus, those who frequent the downtown area on a regular basis. There will be more of a presence of posts related to this activity and less regarding Detroit.

    So going forward, the original intent of this blog was to remain diligent in posting information related to street-ministry, open air preaching, and related material. You will also find posts related to ecclesiology, book reviews, and commentary, but I am going to once again try to re-focus on the purpose of this blog. If you are a regular reader, you know I have several 'series' of posts that remain unfinished. I would like to finish those as well.

    Hopefully, I will hear from you more frequently, as you hear from me. I hope this blog fulfills my original intent to glorify Christ and to edify the saints. In due time, I will seek to accomplish that task.

    In Him,


    Introducing: Seeking a Kingdom Devotionals

    I have created a new devotional blog. You may find it at, this is currently the primary URL.

    The site is dedicated to posting devotionals with an emphasis on Kingdom centered and Kingdom mindedness. Essentially, the goal is to promote the edification of believers in Jesus Christ through devotions that focus on preparation, participation, and practical living for the Kingdom of God.

    This site is currently still under construction. There will be accessibility via social media outlets like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and others that have yet to be determined. The goal is to encourage readers to spread these devotionals freely and to encourage others in hopes of magnifying God's wonderful guide to living a life pleasing to him, His word.

    This site was constructed out of a desire to glorify the name of Jesus Christ, promote His Kingdom, and develop a heart of devotion in His followers.

    The premise is simple. All of Scripture is profitable for cultivating a mindset in those who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ unto obedience, servitude, and application. Therefore, all devotions found here will be useful toward stopping for a moment, meditating upon the Word of God, and disciplining oneself into devotion to the Kingdom of God.

    Interested in submitting?

    The formula for the devotions is as follows,

    • They begin with a portion of Scripture, the number of verses varying, yet remaining sufficient enough to convey context. The whole of the devotional should not extend beyond 600 words or more.
    • That Scripture is then expounded upon in varying ways depending upon the style employed by its author. Then, a practical application, summary, or message is surmised from the entry.
    • A prayer is offered. And the text is categorized for organization.

    This site utilizes the thoughts and writings of several authors. Authors are attributed appropriately in their posts by their initials. Contacting site authors can be done through the contact tab in the menu bar at the site.

    From time to time you may see a devotional posted from a well known source, author, or voice of the past. These devotions will be attributed properly and sources posted for reference.

    Comments are welcomed and gladly accepted. However, they will be moderated and deliberated upon by the author of the devotion receiving comments, and the site administrator for validity, and profitability for edifying other site readers. Profane, obscene, perverse, spam, and other non edifying comments will be discarded swiftly.

    Sep 14, 2010

    Changing again

    I am modifying the template once again. There was too much going on with the last one. I assume that it may repel the few readers that do come here, so I am attempting to centralize the blog around 'readability.' So, if you waste your blog reading time at Deliver Detroit, this is for you!

    If not, well, subscribe and get in on the fun.

    Aug 28, 2010

    Compelled to serve the Kingdom of God: Giving

    (Mat 5:42) Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

    It is convenient, and easy to shirk off giving to others because they give to the 'church' and then the church distributes as the deacons, and the leaders see fit.

    I think we have it all wrong.

    I think responding to the poor in a concentrated local church effort generates good things, like organized outreaches, and taking some soup to the poor. But this should only be a spillover from your individual efforts, we should be doing this, all the time, as the Lord instructed.

    Case and point, plenty of well-clad  suited business people passing a man with a gaping whole in his neck, a tracheotomy that allows him to speak and breath. Cancer he says. 17.94 for prescription is all I need, 64 years old and I cannot get SSI, SSDI, and too old to apply for medicaid. This man is gonna die soon, and quite possibly, very painfully.

    But because it is Detroit, and everyone seems to be a scammer, nobody stops to listen to his plea. Many would refrain because he might buy dope. Such is also the norm for Christians, who practice the same methods of denial.

    But the Lord said?

    Do you believe He is sovereign or not? That's the question we should ask ourselves when we see outstretched hands beckoning for loose change, your gleanings. Those hands, used to be mine, have they ever been yours? Can we as believers relate? Do we have different socioeconomic backgrounds? Of course, but in principle, the Lord said blessed are those who are poor in spirit as well. Are we poor? If we are, then we should understand the poor, after all, this is indeed who Jesus came to save.

    I do not think it is a matter of who is wealthy, or not. For the believer, one dollar in your pocket has made you wealthy, every breath you take this side of eternity has made you wealthy, and every last thing we store up here, will not go with us. Neither will that 17.94 that man asked for.