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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Sleeping in Church

Apparently while preaching one day John Wesley was alarmed to discover several members of his congregation had fallen asleep.

"Fire! Fire!" Wesley suddenly cried whereupon the guilty parishioners jumped with alarm.

"Where?" They demanded glancing around.

"In Hell" Wesley replied, "For those who sleep under the preaching of God's Word."

Get back on the Old Path here.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Baptism at Calvary Chapel Lexington

We observed the ordinance of baptism at our church, Calvary Chapel Lexington, on Sunday, May 25. Over 40 people were baptized. Here are a couple of videos from the celebration, starting with our pastor, John Hoppe III teaching:



This is our daughter, Jannai, being baptized:

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Kid's Day Columbia

Saturday, May 24 was Kid's Day Columbia, a festival held annually in Columbia, SC. This is a summer kick-off day to come down the park, enjoy God's creation, play, enjoy music, maybe dance a little (for those who do), eat some "fair food" and ride some rides.

Also, various vendors and groups were out providing parents a one-stop-shop opporunity to sign kids up for various camps. Our evangelism team was there, too. The girl standing in the picture below works for Parks and Recreation. She was taking a survey from the people on the bench. Our team talked to the people too. They are reading the "Big Money" tracks.

I am really excited about the picture below.
This is a picture of Tim (standing), talking to John. Tim has been coming out to share the gospel and I am excited to see God working through him. I had come up while they were already talking, but during the few minutes Tim was talking with John, the Lord had already been at work and I arrived just in time to hear Tim ask, "Would you like to ask Jesus to be the Lord of your life?" John happily agreed, and I was pleased to bow my head in prayer as John prayed for himself and that his family would be saved as well. We saw a total of three people surrender to Christ on Saturday.

Here's a great clip of a three-minute Tract Blitz: David, Steve and Tim moving through the crowd, passing out Big Dollar tracts. Notice how some people come back for more:


I had one guy come back to me after our "blitz" with a Million Dollar Bill in his hand and he tried to give it back to me saying, "I can't spend this. It's no good. Take it back." I told him it was a gospel tract and he should be ready to answer the Million Dollar question on the back--he walked away, reading it.

I'll share an experience or two in a future post.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Counterfeit Revival: Looking For God in All the Wrong Places

Hanegraaff, Hank. "Counterfeit Revival: Looking For God in All the Wrong Places". Nashville: Word, 1997.

Hank Hanegraaff presents a telling work on the trend called “revival,” that is in fact no revival at all. Hanegraaff craftily guides us through the sections of his expose (in which he does not hesitate to name names) on this false sensationalism with the acronym FLESH, under which the chapters are found:

Part 1: Fabrications, Fantasies and Frauds.
Part 2: Lying Signs and Wonders
Part 3: Endtime Restorationism
Part 4: Slain in the Spirit
Part 5: Hypnotism.

While each section delves deep into the characteristics of so-called “revivalism,” the accounts found therein become repetitious, laborious and typical. In the 307 pages of this book, this reader found himself desiring to move on past recurring accounts of “holy laughter,” staged healings, animal noises, tongues, hoaxes and various states of so-called “Holy Spirit” manifestations, to the point of the book. Hanegraaff spends much time building his case, making certain the reader is without doubt as to what he is referring, but does little to make a point beyond saying these are the same features manifested during the First and Second Great Awakenings through the Azusa Street “revivals” to current TV evangelists in what amounts to be a movement of misdirected “religious affection.” While discernment is necessary in the gospel ministry, Hanegraaff does little more than tattling on “who” said “what” and “how” people reacted. In one sense, this is another history book with updated information.

This would be a good book for supplemental reading during a modern church history course; or, for one who seeks to understand the charismatic and Pentecostal waves that have surged through this country in years past. This book helps one understand how and where certain doctrines (though not the most important doctrines) are skewed and how people are deceived into false conversions and frustrated Christian living. Hanegraaff shows us masses of people who need the right gospel and correct biblical teaching. It is not until the final five pages of the Epilogue that Hanegraaff provides principles in escaping the tragedy of (so-called) “modern Christianity.”

If one could sum up this book in one instructive sentence, it would be, “Don’t covet the emotions—that’s idolatry.”

Monday, May 26, 2008

Content with your profession?


“Let me pull you by the sleeve, my Brothers and Sisters—you who say, ‘I am a Christian.’ You believe that God is ‘a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.’ Do you seek Him diligently? How much of the Scriptures have you read during the last week? How many hours have you spent in prayer? ‘Hours?’ you ask! ‘Say minutes.’ How much have you lived for God during the past month? What have you done with a distinct view to His Glory? What souls have you tried to win? What Truths of God have you tried to teach? What virtues have you tried to set forth? You say that He is “a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him”—do you despise the reward? Are you content with having made a profession of religion?”

C.H. Spurgeon, “What Is Essential In Coming To God?” A sermon preached August 18, 1901.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Twofold Message of Grace

“The twofold message of grace is: 1.) “All flesh is grass!” and 2.) “Behold your God!” This is the message that takes away all of the glory and dignity of the flesh and proclaims the redemptive Glory of Christ. The results of this message will be a sense of the awesome holiness of God, the inability and sinfulness of the flesh and the total sufficiency of the Person and work of Christ. Perhaps once again we will hear men and women cry, “Depth of mercy can there be, mercy still reserved for me? Can my God, His wrath forbear, and me, the chief of sinners, spare?”

Rolfe Barnard (1904-1969)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Top Ten Reasons NOT to Share Your Faith with (fill in the blank)

10. Satan does not want me to.

Behold, I give you authority . . . over all the power of the enemy.” (Luke 10:17-19)
Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

9. (fill in the blank) does not believe in hell.

I am He that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” (Revelation 1:18)

8. (fill in the blank) will think I am stupid.

He who wins souls is wise.” (Proverbs 11:30)

7. (fill in the blank) thinks I am intolerant.

Jesus said to him, ‘"I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’” (John 14:6)

And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

6. (fill in the blank) knows the scripture better than I do.

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me.” (John 5:39)

5. (fill in the blank) said he was saved already, but believes Christianity is fake.

They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.” (1 John 2:19)

4. (fill in the blank) thinks the Bible is a bunch of fairy tales.

"'These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.' Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:44-45)

3. Believes in God . . . that's enough.

You believe that God is one, you do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” (James 2:19)

2. (fill in the blank) is too hard to witness to.

For the love of Christ compels us.” (2 Corinthians 5:14).

1. (fill in the blank) is a good person.

There is none good but one, that is, God.” (Mark 10:18).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pray With Your Eyes Open

Pratt, Richard. Pray With Your Eyes Open. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1987. (Click on title to see the cover and other information)

Growing up in a Christian atmosphere, prayer was a common feature in both family and church settings. Also, Bible College and Seminary were significantly dotted with periods of focused prayer; however, through all the years of exposure to this hallmark of faith, only once in my experience has anyone provided personal instruction concerning the practice of prayer beyond an infrequent sermon on the subject or an occasional elective course offered in the academic settings mentioned above. One professor spent 30 minutes giving instruction on how to pray from the pulpit in two years of homiletics courses.

Richard Pratt’s introduction to prayer is quickly becoming a classic, a standard on the principles of prayer. Through concise biblical instruction, Pratt reveals how a small view of God produces weak and narrow prayers. The book is divided into three parts: Looking at God; Looking at Ourselves; and, Looking at our Communication. Each chapter concludes with applications through exercises that help the reader put the principles of biblical teaching to immediate use.

The first chapter, “The Problem with Prayer,” helps the reader understand the necessity of having the right conception of God and how prayer is often skewed due to our lack of proper worship. Pratt assists the reader in correcting his view of God through the next consecutive chapters where one learns to expand his view of God’s character and actions. Now prayer becomes fueled by the articulation of these truths in worshipful communication. We understand we are communicating with a living being, in a relationship He has established.

The relational aspect is underscored by Pratt’s indirect address to the worldly philosophy that the words of a man are more important than the man. This concept drives world religion. Since through this view prayer becomes reduced to a manipulative force to an impersonal power, is it any wonder that people get bored with it? Pratt demonstrates the fact that we don’t have a book of the Bible solely devoted to Jesus’ teachings; rather, the records of His actions in the Gospels demand we meditate and converse with Him on the significance of the events bound up in the person of Christ. We are directly affected by Him in those events, and our prayers can be deeply stirred by the recounting of them.

The second section assists the reader connecting his or her awestruck conversation with God to real life and the necessity of walking by faith. The Christian life and prayer are inseparable. Pratt explains the connection between prayer and blessings, trials, and experiencing joy through the correct perspective of the exaltation of Christ and the humility of the self in prayer.

The third section explores not merely the form and freedom in prayer, but how we are able to express our dependence on the Lord as we pray. Pratt expounds the communication aspect by taking the reader through various means of expression by prayer. He teaches how to pray through Jesus’ model prayer and how to break the formalism through “freedoms” in prayer. Pratt underscores the importance of emotion in prayer by examining various psalms such as laments and the role of petitions in prayer.

I recommend this book to everyone who seeks to know the rationale of prayer, grow in range of understanding and know what it means to get close to God’s heart.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"I've got my own religion."

"Whatever you believe is alright."

"Everybody has their own beliefs."

"Just so you believe something."

These are sayings which you will hear from many people today. They sound nice, and help to make people feel good, since their own beliefs are said to be as valid as those of anyone else. "After all," some say, "can you really know anything for sure?" People who claim to have "the truth" are looked down upon as being arrogant and intolerant. For some reason, people can accept the idea that any religion is valid as long as it doesn't claim to be the only true religion! Do you know why that is? It's Satan's way of getting people to believe anything but the one thing that will remove his grip on their souls.

It is not true that all religious beliefs are of equal value. It is not true that "Whatever you believe is alright." The very fact that "Everybody has their own beliefs" is what God says is man's biggest problem--we have exchanged His truth for our beliefs. "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6). Man's confused religions stand in opposition to God's simple way to life. Man's ways are the wide, tolerant, sin-ignoring way that ends in destruction. "Broad is the way that leadeth to destruction ... narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" ( Matthew 7:13-14).

There is one sense in which it is true that what you believe doesn't matter. What you believe, or what religious men have taught, does not change the truth of God's Word! Just believing something doesn't make it so. Jumping off the top of a skyscraper onto the street below will kill you, no matter how strongly you believe otherwise. Entering into eternity with the firm belief that there is no God, or that your beliefs or your works are good enough to merit His approval will not change the outcome: "Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:15).


Truth is not a matter of opinion. Either something is true or it is false. Jesus Christ claims to be the truth. He did not say "I am a way," but rather, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me" (John 14:6). When it comes to faith, it is not, "Just so you believe something," but "Just so you believe Christ." Faith in Jesus Christ, who laid down His life on the cross of Calvary and rose victoriously from the dead, is the only way to everlasting life and forgiveness of sins.

Just as everyone has turned to his own way, each of us must individually turn from our rebellion. No one can save himself, since salvation is "not of works" (Ephesians 2:8-9). Because God is the One who saves, salvation is as certain as His promise: "He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24).

Jesus Christ is the only way. Won't you stop rejecting Him, and by faith receive Him as your Saviour today? "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

--Ron Melick (posted with permission of Moments With The Book)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Faith to believe

How may I have the faith to truly believe in Jesus Christ? I want to, it would make life much simpler . . . but without some sort of divine confirmation I don’t feel that I can truly believe the story of Jesus Christ as the Bible tells. I feel guilt over this. I am a sinner, and I do need God in my life. But how may I be positive that the story of the trinity is 100 percent correct? I feel I need a divine intervention to have unshakable faith.” (an e-mail from California)

First, the Bible says that "it is by grace you are saved through faith and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9). Faith, grace and salvation all come from God. God promised He would supply it, so why mistrust Him when He has proved His own faithfulness?

Does life get simpler when we believe? Well, Jesus did promise us abundant life, but that hinges on the fact that we turn from the sins He paid for on the cross--He died to pay the penalty for our sins. Life is only better knowing that we can be free from the penalty of sin when we turn from our sin and put our faith and trust in His finished work.

Imagine you are on an airplane. Would you put a parachute on if I told you it would make your flight better? Probably not because it is big, bulky, causes your comfort range to shrink, people might point and laugh--and if you spilled coffee on yourself, you would be more inclined to stand up, take the 'chute off and wonder how your flight is better, not to mention you would feel cheated and angry. But if I told you that you had to jump at 29,000 feet, you would not care how you looked, felt or how much coffee you had spilled on you.

Take a look at the Ten Commandments and discover how each one of us has offended Holy God, but in His grace and mercy He was not content to let man die in his sins. He stepped into time and space as a man, not to "make our flight better," but He lived a perfect life and died the death we deserve--then came to life again three days later to validate the payment. If we die in our sins, we get the hell we deserve--that's the jump to come. Will you put the parachute on?

What, exactly do you not believe about the story of Jesus Christ, as the Bible tells? If you feel guilt, you should listen to what God is telling your conscience--He gave it to you--you already know what is true. Don't run the risk of taking what you know to be true and rationalize it away.

How can you know the Trinity is correct? Consider (for example) also who I am as a person--a guy who is answering your e-mail. Am I answering it as a father, a husband or a son? I am three persons, but am also one person. There are some things I must do as a father that I could never do as a son or husband. There are some things I can only do as a son that I could not do as a father or husband. There are some things I can do only as a husband . . . you get the idea. Be careful about making a god of your own understanding--that's breaking the 1st and 2nd commandment.

Check out NeedGod.com

Monday, May 19, 2008

Ugly Pictures of Jesus

Here are the top 10 ugliest pictures of Jesus.

Sweet and Sour

I’m excited because as I rub shoulders with students who will be staying around for the summer, I soon discover they have ministry plans. At least they are not sitting back on their haunches, licking their wounds from a semester of study (just kidding—but at least they are busy in ministry). Conversing with one student, I referred to a calendar of evangelism opportunities I have posted outside my office. “Yeah,” he tells me, “our church has blocked out a number of dates to be doing evangelism outreach through the summer. We’ll see you there!” That’s sweet.

The other day I was driving through Columbia when something caught my eye. Standing in the parking lot of a local restaurant, three older gentlemen had their arms around each other’s shoulders, heads bowed, obviously praying. Right there in public! How encouraging! That was sweet.

About 10 minutes down the freeway, I was lost in thought and found myself staring at a pick-up truck as it passed me on the left (I try was in the far-right lane, nearing my exit). It took my mind a moment to realize what was so unusual about the truck—beat up, green, towing a trailer . . . swerving, speeding up, slowing down, swerving . . . . At 60 miles per hour, I realized the driver of the truck was lifting his right arm up to shield his head from the blows his female passenger was raining upon him. These were no “oh, gee, stop it you're embarrasing me,” kind of blows. She was screaming at him, nearly standing up in the seat of the truck. As soon as she stopped screaming, he let his arm down—then suddenly she started again: arm up, whack on the head a few times, speeding up, swerving . . . . This went on for miles, and then I had to get off at my exit. It’s one thing to have a woman scorned, but while driving on the freeway? I actually felt sorry for the guy—and I have no clue what he did. I just prayed nobody got killed . . .

I don’t listen to the radio much, but the last few miles before my destination, I turned the radio on and heard a news headline that rocked my boat: adults with children are less happy. The story went on to explain how research discovered that when families have children (?) the parents are no longer happy and should they regain happiness later in life, it is after the kids are “gone.” How selfish. How sad. My children are my arrows, and I have a quiver-full—but I could not imagine life without them. As a matter of fact, I don’t think my wife and I could be any happier!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Does it pay to commit crime? The income of a criminal.

In the early 1900’s the great magician (“handcuff king” and jail-breaker) Harry Houdini researched court cases, interviewed police, detectives and criminals with the intent to make a contribution that would safeguard the public from fraud. In 1906 he published The Right Way To Do Wrong: An Expose of Successful Criminals. I found the first chapter very enlightening, answering the question, “Does it pay to commit crime?”

************

“This is a question I have often asked the chiefs of police and great detectives of every country in the world. How great are the money rewards of evil doing? Does a ‘good’ burglar have an income equal to that of a bank president? Can a pickpocket make more money than the fashionable tailor who makes the pockets? Is a gambler better paid than a governor? Can a shoplifter make more money than the saleswoman? In fact, does it pay to be a criminal, and, if so, how great is the reward for evil doing?

I am aware that it is the general impression, considered simply as a matter of profits, that the professional criminal is well paid. He gets something for nothing; therefore you would say at a first glance that he must be rolling in wealth.

Many people who get their ideas of criminals from novels and story papers, for instance, imagine a gambler as a man who always has a roll of bills in his pocket big enough to choke a horse, as they say. No doubt, also, the histories of sensational coups as reported in the daily press are chiefly responsible for this false impression. But such colossal frauds and robberies are rarely the work of professional criminals. They are usually perpetrated by men whose previous good character has placed them in positions of trust. Men who have led honest lives, when temptation came along and on paper they figured out that they could not lose—why, they stole and fell—into the clutches of the law. Disgraced, they are ruined for life, often ruining all their family. It is a terrible thing to have the finger of fate point at you with the remark, ‘His father is serving time for doing so and so,’ or ‘Her brother is now in his sixteenth year, and comes out in five years.’

Such humble criminals as the area sneak thief, the porch and hallway thieves, and the ordinary shoplifter may be dismissed with a few words; their gains are miserably small, they live in abject poverty, and after detection (for sooner or later they are detected) they end their lives in the workhouse!

‘If I could earn $5 a week honest, I’d gladly give up "dragging” (shoplifting),’ said a thief of this type to a New York detective; ‘but I can’t stand regular work, never could; it’s so much easier to “prig” things.’ No avarice, but simple laziness keeps these thieves dishonest.

The truth is, that a life of dishonesty may pay at first when you are not known to the police, but when an offender once falls into the hands of the ever-watchful police he begins to be a well-known customer. He now pays dearer and dearer every time he is brought up for trial. His brief spells of liberty are spent in committing some crime that once again brings him back to the prison, so when you figure out the sentences he has to serve, why, his honest gains are contemptible compared to such awful penalties . . . .

IT DOES NOT PAY TO LEAD A DISHONEST LIFE, and to those who read this book, although it will inform them ‘The Right Way to Do Wrong,’ all I have to say is one word and that is ‘DON’T.’”

Friday, May 16, 2008

Christianity Today Journalist to Speak at CIU Commencement

by Bob Holmes


Commencement exercises for the Columbia International University Graduate School and the Columbia International University Seminary & School of Missions will take place on May 17 at 9:00 a.m. in Shortess Chapel on the campus of CIU.

CIU president, Dr. William H. Jones will confer degrees on 132 candidates. The candidates include students from 12 foreign countries. Degrees range from certificates to master’s degrees to doctorates.

David Neff, vice president and editor-in-chief of the Christianity Today media group will be the commencement speaker. Neff works with Christianity Today magazine, Christian History & Biography, Books and Culture, and several web-based publishing efforts. In his 23 years at CT, Neff has written on topics as diverse as physician-assisted suicide, English evangelicalism, climate change, and sexual addiction.

Before coming to Christianity Today, Neff served as an editor for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. He was also involved in the launch of the Journal of Christian Nursing for Nurses Christian Fellowship. He is a graduate of Loma Linda University and Andrews University. Before he entered the field of publishing, Neff was a pastor and religion teacher at Walla Walla College. He is a member of the executive committee and board of directors of the National Association of Evangelicals, and recently completed terms as a board member for Bread for the World and the Association of Theological Schools. Neff lives in Wheaton, Ill. and is organist/choirmaster at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn, Ill.

The public is invited to the commencement. Columbia International University is located at 7435 Monticello Road two miles north of Interstate 20.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

"How did his father raise him up from the dead? Does Jesus have power?"

A North Carolinian asked, “how did his father raise him up from the dead? Does Jesus have power?

I think I can answer both questions by looking at WHO Jesus is; that is, Jesus is plainly and clearly identified as being God. Consider a few things that are said of God in the Old Testament and what is also said of Jesus in the New Testament:

He is the Creator (Psalm 102:24-27 and Hebrews 1:10-12);
He was seen by Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-4 and John 12:41);
He was preceded by a forerunner (Isaiah 40:3 and Matthew 3:3);
He disciplines His people (Numbers 21:6ff and 1 Corinthians 10:9);
He is Holy (Isaiah 8:13 and 1 Peter 3:15);
He leads the captives (Psalm 68:18 and Ephesians 4:8);
He is the object of faith (Joel 2:32 and Romans 10:9 and 13).

This is my favorite passage:
Look at Revelation 1:8—who is speaking?
Now look at Revelation 22:13—who is speaking, and what does He call Himself?
Finally, turn back to Revelation 1:17—who is speaking?
Now look at the next verse, Revelation 1:18—the same person is speaking, right? How does He identify Himself? When did God ever die?

“But,” you may ask, “if Jesus is God, why does it say in Romans 10:9 that ‘God raised Him from the dead?’” Think of it this way—I am one person; but, I am a husband, a father and a son—three different persons yet one person. There are some things I cannot do as a son, but I can do them only as a father. There are some things I cannot do as a father that I can do only as a husband. There are some things I cannot do as a husband, but I can do them as a son. Following me?

Remember that God is three persons in one. God could only accomplish salvation for man by becoming flesh and blood in the person of Jesus, but Jesus could only be raised from the dead in the power of the Holy Spirit by God—and that’s more power than we can imagine!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Reincarnation

I received the following from Nigeria, “I need to know if re-incarnation is real and scriptural backups to its reality as in the sense of a man dies and can come back again in another flesh to live normal life.”

People are created in God’s image (Gen. 12: 7). The body’s physical resurrection and eternal worth are emphasized in John 2:18–22 and 1 Corinthians 15. The Bible declares, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9:27–28, KJV). Since we die only once, reincarnation cannot be true. Instead of reincarnation, the Bible teaches resurrection (John 5:25). At death, Christians enjoy a state of conscious fellowship with Christ (Matt. 22:32; 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23) to await the resurrection and heavenly reward. A person’s eternal destiny is determined by his or her acceptance or rejection of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (John 3:36; Rom. 10:9–10).

(by Ray Comfort, in The Evidence Bible)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tithing

A Nigerian wrote me with the following question, “Yes, I have many questions concerning some teachings of the Bible. On the issues of tithe, Mal. 3 vs 10 downward . . . the issue of ‘robbing God’ and ‘God placing course [curse]’. . . how do you justify it? Is it because paying tithe and offering has become so paramount and compulsory that God has to go to the length of placing cause [curse]? Or maybe there is other interpretation? This fact is confusing a lot of believers in Nigeria.”

This is a confusing subject for many even here in America. Please bear with my long answer:

It was once said that the wallet is the "last frontier"-- that it’s the last thing that comes to God in surrender. But it should be the first, along with our surrendered heart. Jesus spoke much about money. He said that we cannot serve God and mammon (see Matthew 6: 24). The word "mammon" was the common Aramaic word for riches and it signifies "that which is to be trusted." In other words, either money is our source of joy, our sense of security, the supplier of our needs -- or God is.

When you give, make sure you do so with a cheerful heart. Our giving should be a systematic and purposeful giving to the church where we fellowship (see 2 Corinthians 9: 7). It should be in response to need (see Acts 11: 27-29). It should be sacrificial (see Galatians 2:10), and should be done in secret with a humble heart (see Matthew 6:1-4). It is a key to spiritual fruit (see Luke 16:10-11).

In other words, consider II Corinthians 8: 12 where Paul says that giving should be done according to what a man has. Although the New Testament does not specify tithing as the Old Testament does, the principle of proportionate giving is advocated (I Corinthians 16:2). The key measure is not the proportion given, but the amount retained. Everything that you have is God's gift to you, and He wants you to be a good steward of it, supporting the work of the Church. It is a matter of much prayer.

Let’s get the context of Malachi:

Chapter 1: The Lord is glorified by Israel, but the priests commit unclean acts in sacrifice;

Chapter 2: The Lord curses the priests and the people commit idolatry, adultery and divorce;

Chapter 3: The Lord will judge at His coming because the people rob God by tithes and offerings;

Chapter 4: Rewards and punishments come to all who are arrogant and evil; but, a promise of Messiah is given by the sign of Elijah the prophet.

In context, the nation’s evil is not limited to their lack of tithes and offerings. The priests are corrupt and the people are corrupt in many more acts that do not involve giving money; rather, their worship in giving (tithes and offerings) reflects the true state of their heart—God calls them wicked. When the Lord returns, the ones who do evil will receive what is coming to them by the curse of their own wickedness—burning. The curse is not limited to grapes.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Bible Doctrine of the Separated Life

An essay against binding the conscience with regard to practices which cannot be proved from Scripture. Read it here.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Example for Mothers

It was in 1914 that President Wilson signed the first Mothers' Day Proclamation, setting aside the second Sunday of every May to be observed "as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country." Of course, love and reverence should be shown daily, and in the Bible we have many mothers mentioned whose faithful devotion to the Lord and to their children gave reason for high honor by God who has set them forth in His Word as examples for mothers today. One such example is Jochebed, the mother of Moses.

Jochebed means, "The Lord is glorious." This would suggest that she highly esteemed Jehovah and gave Him first place in her heart. This was the motivation for her successful motherhood.

Also, we notice that she was in accord with her husband, Amram. They were both of the tribe of Levi, which means "joined." How essential it is that mother and father be one in setting the direction for the course of their children.

From Exodus 2, however, we have indication that the responsibility to "train up a child in the way he should go" (Prov. 22:6) largely falls upon the mother. "When she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months." Acts 7:20 says he was a child "exceeding fair to God." Without a doubt, she recognized by faith the value of her son as a gift from God to be brought up for Him.

In hiding him three months there is indication that she was fully aware of the dangers surrounding them in Egypt. The king had decreed that all male babies were to be killed at birth--thrown into the river. She was going to protect him at all cost, fully aware, too, that the earliest impressions upon a child form his character and determine his course in life. Would that mothers realized this today. Egypt, a type of the world, has not changed its character: its god and prince is Satan himself who makes a bid for all children, not only in violent assaults but by subtle seemingly harmless ways of putting the world before them to influence their impressionable minds and hearts. Mothers need God's wisdom for ways to hide these precious souls.

She does something further. When he could no longer be hidden she "took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river's brink" (Exodus 2:2). She believed, as every parent who holds Christ to be precious, that children are "holy" (separated, 1 Cor. 7:14). They are to be regarded as purchased by Christ who has rights over them and are to be preserved for God in view of Christ coming into their hearts and lives by true faith and affection for Him. In putting him in the river, she actually committed him to God, recognizing he was under the sentence of death. However, in putting him in the ark, in figure, she was putting him in touch with Christ in faith that God would preserve her son and use him for His glory.

She retired from the scene, apparently in perfect peace, waiting for the outcome of her trust in God. It wasn't long before she realized the working of God in answer to her faith. Who but God could cause the daughter of Pharaoh to go to wash in the river at that particular time? Who but God could have her see the ark and have the baby weep as she opened it? Who but God could put it in the heart of Miriam to be there with a suggestion that would be favorable to the princess who was actually defying her father's decree?

Imagine the joy in Jochebed's heart when Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages"! When faith and works are united in action, "God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform."

We are not told how long Jochebed had Moses, but she didn't waste one moment to prayerfully care for him, lovingly nourish him and carefully instruct him in the way he should go. She put Jehovah and His people before him with divine emphasis to such a degree that he never forgot what his mother taught him even at the age of 40 years. Though "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and mighty in words and deeds" (Acts 2:22), his heart was for Jehovah, and with his brethren, the children of Israel. Hebrews 11:24-28 reveals his faith in forsaking Egypt to identify himself with the people of God in their affliction, "Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt." What a power his mother was in his illustrious life as a servant of God!

Jochebed surely got her wages, not only from Pharaoh's daughter, but from Jehovah, which will be eternal in reward, and cause her to sing: "The Lord is glorious."

(Reprinted with permission of Moments With The Book)

Friday, May 09, 2008

"Shouldn't we pray to God and ask him nothing in return?"

I received the following question the other day via e-mail: “Shouldn't we pray to God and ask him nothing in return? The same applies to Jesus. I read something about thanking him for dying on the cross and asking him for eternal life. Wouldn't it be better to thank him and not ask for anything?”

Here is my response:

You bring up a very good point about prayer. How selfish of anyone to think that God’s only purpose is to answer prayer, like “I love God and have a wonderful plan for HIS life.” That would really be idolatry, as God is not out to serve our every whim. Though Christians must have hearts set on God as this is part of our relationship with Him, we must guard against praying with the wrong attitude. Prayer is not an attempt to get God to agree with us or provide for our selfish desires but is an affirmation that He is in control, that He is righteous and deserves the worship that is rightfully His . . .

HOWEVER, He has made it plainly clear that our desires and purposes should conform to His will and glory. This is why Ephesians 6:18 instructs us to pray with “prayer and petitions;” that is, with general requests. Through prayer we express our insufficiency and our total dependence on Him. Personally, when I look at how insufficient and dependent I am on Him, it is not hard for me to follow the biblical command to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Do you realize that of all that we see and hear Jesus doing and saying in the gospels, we find He devoted the most energy to prayer. Read the gospel of Luke to see what I mean.

Looking at the model prayer (aka “The Lord’s Prayer”—this is not a prayer in itself, but a guideline) we find some interesting principles, the first being that God does not want us to pray so “generally” that we give Him nothing to answer (“God bless Robert today . . .”—what does that mean?). God actually wants us to be very specific because as He answers prayer, He is displaying His will and glory. We find in the model prayer the framework for the conversation (and notice when requests glorify Him):

“Our Father” (A father/child relationship—familial love and devotion);
“Who art in Heaven” (exaltation/humility);
“hallowed be Thy name” (Deity/worshipper--reverence);
“Thy Kingdom come” (Sovereign/subject--loyalty);
“Thy Will be done” (master/servant--obedience);
“give us this day our daily bread” (benefactor/beneficiary--dependence);
“forgive us our debts” (Savior/sinner--penitence);
“Do not lead us into temptation” (guide/pilgrim--humility);
“Thine is the kingdom” (triumph)
“and the glory” (exultation)
“forever” (hope).

He wants us to request, to the praise of His glory.

Oh, and as for asking for eternal life, that‘s part of repentance and turning from sin. Would you consider yourself to be a “Good Person?”

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Top 10 Books for Christian Students

John Piper, an antique? Still reads good, though!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Free Online Resources

1. The Chapel Library of Mount Zion Bible Church. A Ministry of Mount Zion Bible Church in Pensacola, FL. Some sound files online. Their Entire Bible Institute Curriculum is found online here. Also, all their Free Grace Broadcasters are online and are excellently topically divided.

2. Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Classic Christian books in electronic format, selected for your edification. There is enough good reading material here to last you a lifetime, if you give each work the time it deserves! All of the books on this server are believed to be in the public domain in the United States unless otherwise specified. Copy them freely for any purpose. Outside of the US, check your local copyright laws.

3. Firefighters for Christ. Many sermons are on the CDs (sent without charge, postage paid). More available than you can listen to in a lifetime in the archives.

4. Monergism. “This site is an attempt to direct the user to classic articles and resources of historical orthodoxy. This is done in the hope we will embrace, and recover the true Biblical doctrines of the historic faith. Monergism is an attempt to mine, gather & set apart "MUST HAVE" articles, books, audio resources and sermons from those that are not worth your time.”

5. The Online Books Page. Listing over 20,000 free books on the Web.

6. One Place. Downloadable Sermons—some pay, some for no charge.

7. The Sermon Index. Free Downloadable Sermons. Check out “Ten Shekels and a Shirt” by Paris Reidhead. This is an incredible ministry.

8. Sermon Audio. The largest library of FREE mp3 audio sermons on the web! Take an hour to hear Paul Washer’s sermon given at a youth conference.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Does science make belief in God Obsolete?

My friend over at Church of the Kharma Futures sent me this link to A Templeton Conversation: Does science make belief in God Obsolete? Here are two immediate thoughts:

1) Since "science" means "knowledge" (thus "conscience" means "with knowledge"), God would say the answer is "no." In other words, man already knows that God IS. God contributed his article in Romans 1:18-32 in one place among many. To reject Him is to take what man already knows to be true and make for himself a god of his own understanding (thus breaking the 2nd commandment). Science assumes that man have two eyes and a brain that can think. To reject God is unscientific; that is, close the eyes, stop thinking and become a moron (that's the Greek word for "fools" used in verse 22);

2) If science (impersonal) could make obsolete God (personal), what would the results be? I firmly believe that Mary Shelley answered that question 41 years before Darwin published.

Here is Greg Koukl of Stands to Reason with some thoughts on evidence and atheism (specifically):



Monday, May 05, 2008

Cinco de Mayo and the Million Dollar Bill

Saturday, May 3 was our local Cinco de Mayo celebration at Finlay Park in Columbia, SC. Many consider Cinco de Mayo to be Mexican Independence Day but this is only correct to a certain point. Mexican Independence Day is actually in September. Visit Viva Cinco de Mayo (just one site among so many) for a brief history of the celebration.



I was blessed to have friends join me from Calvary Chapel Lexington and Columbia International University for a day of evangelism in the park.



Overall, I estimate we were able to distribute at least 600 tracts—I am sure much more were distributed, but I did not count. Below, watch Steve pass out Millions:



This is Kel, passing out tracts. He’s cool. I’m glad he came along and I am excited to see what God is going to be doing in his life as he learns to share the gospel.



A minute or so after this video was captured, a lady came down the steps and was handed a Million Dollar Bill. Her eyes grew wide, “Is this real?” She asked, almost breathless, turning it over in her hands.

“Yes, ma’am,” I said, “It’s a genuine fake Million-Dollar Bill. The best part is the question on the back. Did you see what it said?”

She looked for the question. I said, “the Million-Dollar question is ‘Would you consider yourself to be a ‘good person?’”

“Yes, I believe I am,” she smiled back, holding onto the bill with both hands.

“Do you think you’ve kept the Ten Commandments?” I asked.

“Yes, I believe I have,” she still smiled back.

“Ok,” I went on. “Let’s take a little test to see, alright?” She agreed.

“Have you ever told a lie?” I began.

“No,” she said. I think she was stunned, trying to figure out the “money.”

“Have you ever told a white lie, a fib,” (she shook her head saying “no”), “a half-truth, an exaggeration . . .” She continued signaling “no.”

“Have you ever stolen anything?” I went on.

“No,” she said, smiling, holding her Million-Dollar Bill with both hands.

“You’ve never taken anything that belonged to someone else for yourself without asking? You’ve never ‘borrowed’ anything for an extended period of time and not taken it back? You’ve never taken anything without paying for it?” She said “no” to every question.

I went on, unflustered. “Have you ever committed murder?” We laughed together because it just sounds absurd. She told me “no” and she also said she’d never hated anyone or wished anyone dead. I asked if she drove a car to find out if anyone has ever cut her off—no car.

“Have you kept the First Commandment?” I asked.

The smile slipped from her face as she thought. “I think I have. I’m sure I have.” She thought for a moment, “yes, I have.” She concluded.

“What is it?” I asked. She did not know. She would not take her eyes off me.

“The First Commandment is that you will have no other god before the true and living God. Can you say with a clear conscience that you have always loved Him with all you’re your heart, mind, soul and strength every moment of every day of your life?” Now she was staring hard at me, eyes unmoving. She seemed transfixed. She processed the thought. Then she said, “Yes, yes I have.” And she smiled.

I was not going to let this go any further. “Think about something for a moment. In the Bible God says that none have sought after Me and that every person has turned to his or her own way (referring to Romans 3:10ff). That creates a problem because either you are lying or God is lying. Since we know that God cannot lie, you must be, so now do you know what you’ve done?”

Her eyes were glued to mine. “What?” she said, now holding tightly to her Million Dollar Bill.

“You’ve broken the 9th commandment. That means you lied because I am very positive you’ve not loved God every minute of every day with all your being. Isn’t it true that we love our friends a little more, or our stuff? Perhaps we’ve gotten so wrapped up in our circumstances that we’ve forgotten about God? Would you say this was true?”

She hung her head and admitted, “yes, that’s true.”

“Also, think about how you’ve broken the 2nd Commandment, making a god of your own understanding. God of the Bible says that nobody seeks after Him, so He comes after us. Would you say you’ve misunderstood God?” She agreed she had.

“So by your own admission you’ve lied, you’ve not loved God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and you’ve made an idol for yourself. That’s three of the 10 Commandments, broken. If God were to judge you by the Ten Commandments, would you be innocent or guilty?” I pressed.

“Guilty,” she said, hanging her head but not letting go of that bill with either hand.

“Would you go to heaven or hell,” I went on. She looked right in my eyes again and did not say anything. I let her think about it for a minute.

“What about forgiveness?” She finally asked.

I taught her the scripture. “The Bible says that God has a place for liars and idolaters. It’s the same place He has for thieves, adulterers, murderers and so many other kinds of people who have not turned from their sin, and that place is not Heaven—do you know what it is?”

“Yes, it’s hell,” she admitted.

I could finally move on now that we had that reality settled. “Now, about forgiveness. What do you know about forgiveness?”

“Well, we can ask God to forgive us and He does it . . . right?” I was rejoicing at her asking!

“Yes, and no.” I wanted her to grasp the seriousness of God’s plan. I showed her that if God lets the wicked go, he is worse than the criminal. I explained that because God is just and holy, he cannot simply say to the wicked “you are righteous.” God cannot simply “just forgive.” The wages of sin is death—that’s what we deserve, so if God is just and death is the result, forgiveness comes through a payment.

I showed her Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinner, Christ died for us.” Christ payed the penalty for our sin by dying the death we deserved. In order to be forgiven, we must repent; that is, turn from our sin and place our trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross.

I told her how “it is written that Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day” and there must be repentance for forgiveness of sins (Luke 24:46-47). She understood.

Then I asked her, “is there any reason why you could not, right now this moment, confess your sins to God, confess He is Lord believing that He raised from the dead in order to save you?”

“No,” she said, quietly. “I will do it.”

So she bowed her head and prayed, releasing her hold on the Million-Dollar Bill.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Behind the Veil

Do you understand what it means to be outside the camp, but within the veil?

Malcom Wild, of Calvary Chapel Merritt Island, preached this powerful message on the importance of the torn veil at the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is a wonderful perspective that touches on worship from a pastor with a musical background. Put this wonderful message on your IPod.




Click here for Malcom’s intriguing bio.

Better yet, share it with others! This makes a great evangelism “closer.”

Friday, May 02, 2008

Columbia International University Graduates to Impact the Nations with the Message of Christ

by Bob Holmes

The 2008 commencement exercises for the Undergraduate School at Columbia International University will take place on Saturday, May 3. The ceremony will begin at 9:00 a.m. in Shortess Chapel on the campus of CIU.

CIU President Dr. William H. Jones will present degrees to 100 graduates, including the Bachelor of Science degree, Bachelor of Arts degree and the Bible Certificate.

The commencement address will be delivered by Sinclair B. Ferguson, senior minister of the First Presbyterian Church of Columbia, S.C. and professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary. A graduate of the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, Ferguson is the author of two dozen books, numerous articles and has contributed to various symposia. His writing interests have ranged from works of scholarship to books for children. Ferguson has also served as minister of two congregations in Scotland.

The ceremony will include the new CIU tradition of presenting a bag of seeds to each graduate, as they are encouraged to sow the seed of the gospel in accordance with CIU’s purpose statement: CIU educates people from a biblical worldview to impact the nations with the message of Christ.

The Columbia International University Graduate School and the CIU Seminary & School of Missions will hold commencement exercises on May 17 at 9:00 a.m., also in Shortess Chapel.

Columbia International University is located at 7435 Monticello Road in Columbia, S.C. two miles north of I-20. (click here for map)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

An Urgent Call to Prayer

Click here to listen to a 3-minute URGENT call to prayer by George Verwer. This clip was taken from the end of this message spoken in America in 2005 about the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).

May we all take prayer more seriously have establish prayer meetings in the church again.

(ht: Greg at Sermon Index)

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