Peruvian Missionary, Herbert Fuqua relates an interesting twist in the practices of the Shapra Indian tribe. This is a tribe that is involved in head hunting.
When the gospel of Jesus Christ was preached and recieved by certain tribesmen, the difference became known. One man used to kill his enemies, but now when he captures them he holds them captive and teaches them scripture for 3 weeks.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Peruvian Missionary, Herbert Fuqua relates an interesting twist in the practices of the Shapra Indian tribe. This is a tribe that is involved in head hunting.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Couple Ordered to Stop Holding Bible Study at Home Without Permit - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News - FOXNews.com
"If we think that Jesus did not rise, but 'lives' and 'reigns' only in his memories and imaginations, and is not actively and objectively ‘there’ in the place of power, irrespective of whether he is acknowledged or not, we should give up hope of our own rising, and of Jesus’ public return, and admit that the idea of churches and Christians being sustained by the Spirit-giving energy of a living Lord was never more than a pleasing illusion."
James I. Packer (1926-), “Jesus Christ the Lord”
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Read the transcript and/or download the message "Introduction to Ephesians" at:
"The skeleton, which other paleontologists say is far more likely to be an ancestor of lemurs and bush babies than human beings, . . ."
Scientist Paid $750,000 for 'Missing Link' Primate Fossil - Science News Science & Technology Technology News - FOXNews.com
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Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Read the transcript and/or download the message at http://www.gty.org/Resources/Sermons/1309
A common phenomenon in nature is “the path of least resistance.”
Electricity moving through a circuit will always travel where it is easiest to go.
Cars are developed aerodynamically so there will be a minimal wind resistance.
Water always travels under a bridge because it is far easier to go under the bridge than over it.
Frequently this is what people are like also.
It is easier to sit in front of the TV rather than to care for our neighbor’s needs.
It is easier to get angry at your mate and let that anger diminish over the course of time rather than sitting down and working the problem through.
Thumbing through a Reader’s Digest is much easier than a time of personal Bible study.
And so we find that we too, just like water under the bridge are prone to take the “path of least resistance.”
But there is one difference between ourselves and water. Water will never have to give an account of what it has done.
Ought not we examine ourselves and get on the “path of greatest persistance?’
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
I received an e-mail from a reader who asked "How do I help someone who does not want help? What do I do about people who don't want to change no matter how much we try to help? Do I stop communicating with them?"
These are some excellent questions, though difficult to answer in this forum. I will let you know that your situation is not unique and there are many people who are asking the same questions.
A good starting point toward an answer would be to recognize that we all needed help before we wanted it (Romans 5:6, 8). What would your answers be to the following questions?
1) What does Job 6:14 say a despairing man needs, and for what reason?
2) What does Galatians 6:1 say to the one who does the ministry of restoration?
Without knowing the details of your situation, I really don’t know how else to counsel you on this matter, but here are some things to consider:
1) Do you have all the facts concerning the individual?
2) Is their situation as bad as you thought? As bad as they thought?
3) Who does their situation really impact the most? What is the worst that can happen?
4) Sometimes the best thing we can do is provide an environment where change can take place in a person. Where are you getting your strength and support?
I pray this helps!
Monday, May 25, 2009
My Vriend,ek vra u die belangrikstevraag van die lewe. U vreugde of u verdriet, vir alle EWIGHEID hang daarvan af. Die vraag is: IS U GERED? Die vraag is nie of u ’n lid van een of ander Kerk is nie, maar: IS U GERED? Dit is nie ’n kwessie van hoe goed u is nie, Maar: IS U GERED? Niemand kan die seën van God geniet, of Hemel toe gaan, sonder om gered te wees nie – Jesus het vir Nikodemus gesê in Johannes 3:7;,,Moenie jou verwonder dat ek vir jou gesê het, JULLE MOET WEER GEBORE WORD NIE.”God gee aan ons in Sy Heilige Woord die ENIGSTE plan vir saligheid. Die plan is eenvoudig, u kan VANDAG gered word.
God Se Eenvoudige Saligheidsplan
Follow this link for an English translation.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
I recieved this question from a reader in Oslo, Norway: "When God died for our sins during his death who was in charge of the heaven and the universe?"
I believe your question is answered here: “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Hebrews 1:3)
Did you notice the phrase, “upholds all things by the word of His power?” This term reflects the efficiency of His power; that is, He commanded, all things came to be and will continue to be because of His power, until He makes all things new. He holds all things together by His effective Word.
Consider: these words. I am writing them in my present, which is now your past. You are reading them in what is for me, my future. Do my words lose their meaning, or their power in conversation? How much more powerful are God’s words?
Thursday, May 21, 2009
"Almighty and merciful Father, I am now about to commemorate once more in Thy presence, the redemption of the world by our Lord and Savior Thy Son Jesus Christ.
Grant, 0 most merciful God, that the benefit of His sufferings may be extended to me.
Grant me faith, grant me repentance.
Illuminate me with Thy Holy Spirit.
Enable me to form good purposes, and to bring these purposes to good effect.
Let me so dispose my time, that I may discharge the duties to which Thou shalt vouchsafe to call me, and let that degree of health, to which Thy mercy has restored me, be employed to Thy Glory.
O God, invigorate my understanding, compose my perturbations, recall my wanderings, and calm my thoughts, that having lived while Thou shalt grant me life, to do good and to praise Thee, I may when Thy call shall summon me to another state, receive mercy from Thee, for Jesus Christs sake. Amen."
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784).
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
William Monteguhe Dyke was a young man who became blind at the young age of ten. Despite the handicap, he grew to be a very smart, witty, and handsome young man. While attending graduate school in England, William met the daughter of an English admiral and they were soon engaged.
Though having never seen her, William loved her very much. Just before the wedding at the insistence of the admiral, William submitted to special treatment for his loss of sight. Hoping against hope, William wanted the gauze from his eyes cut during the ceremony. He wanted the first thing he ever saw to be his wife’s face. As she came down the aisle during the wedding, Williams’ father started unwinding the gauze from around his head and eyes--still not knowing if the operation would be a success. With the unwrapping of the last circumference, William looked into the face of his new bride for the first time. “You are more beautiful than I ever imagined,” he said.
Though we have never seen Jesus, it will be worth the years of darkness to “see Him as He is.” This is sort of the approach we have enjoyed as we gaze with the apostle John into Heaven, becoming overwhelmed not with a place but The Person. Imagine the horror if William’s eyes were unwrapped on the day of the wedding and he immediately became overjoyed at the view of the church!
When all is said and done concerning the book of Revelation, let us revisit something we saw in the previous post concerning the overall survey of the big picture: God is overwhelming and His beauty is a demonstration of that. When people see Him, they can’t seem to stand up (literally) before Him. The common posture of witnessing the glory of God is “face down.” When I hear of people having visions or dreams of heaven, I take special note of exactly what they saw. If they say they saw God, I am wondering how their lives were changed.
Peter, James and John were with Jesus on the mountain when He was transfigured before them and they saw Him in all His glory. The moment Peter began talking about the blessing of being there, a cloud overshadowed them and a voice came out of the cloud. When they heard what the voice had to say, they “fell face down to the ground and were terrified.” (Matthew 17:1-6).
“When Abram was ninety-nine years old,” Moses writes in Genesis 17, “the LORD appeared to Abram.” The Lord revealed Himself to Abram saying, “I am God Almighty,” then followed with instructions: walk before Him, be blameless and He would establish a covenant and multiply him. Abram said, “Ok,” but he said it sort of muffled and perhaps with a little dirt in his mouth because “Abram fell on his face.” (17:3).
Joshua was out by Jericho one day and saw a man standing nearby with his sword drawn (Joshua 5:13). Joshua wanted to know if he was friend or foe (5:14)—what else does one ask an armed man? The reply was “no.” When the man revealed that he was neither friend nor foe, but was in fact the captain of the Host of the LORD, “Joshua fell on his face to the earth and bowed down” (5:14).
Ezekiel saw the glory of the LORD fill the house of the LORD, to which he responded by falling on his face (Ezekiel 44:4).
Saul was traveling along the road one day, on his way to Damascus to kill him some Christians, when “suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and hard a voice saying . . .” (Acts 9:1-4). You get the idea.
Why is everyone falling down? Because they are catching a glimpse of the glory of God and it is simply too much. A couple of years ago, I was interviewing a New Ager who seemed to understand something about the name of Jesus—he spoke of the overwhelming power that is packed into that name. I was intrigued and though he was not about to move from his position regarding his worldview, he still could not help but agree with scripture that “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10-11)
How Is Praise Becoming To The UPRIGHT Who Are Face Down?
Psalm 33 is only one scripture among so many we could consult to answer this question (such as Psalm 2, 66-67, 72, 98, 117, and 145 where we find the nations of the earth responding in worship). The upright are defined as those who are made upright by God’s Word, and the whole earth has knowledge of His loving-kindness. While God did make everything, we find the inhabitants of the earth actually responding to Him in awe. Praise is what characterizes those enraptured with Him.
Psalm 95 not only expounds the same theme of the creative acts of God, but shows He deserves worship and bowing down. “Let us kneel before the LORD our maker.” Why? Because “He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.” Our only other response would be to rear up with a hardened heart in defiance against Him. This Psalm addresses that as well.
Deborah and Barak sang the praises and exploits of God in the ears of the kings and rulers of the earth on the day God defeated the Canaanites before the sons of Israel (Judges 5:3). No enemy stands before God (5:31). Singing and worship is a way to publicly proclaim what God has done and use the whole being to express joy in Who He Is.
When the Ark of the Covenant was brought into The Temple, the priests came out “blowing trumpets in unison when the trumpeters and the singers were to make themselves heard with one voice to praise and to glorify the LORD, and when they lifted up their voice accompanied by trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and when they praised the LORD saying, ‘He indeed is good for His lovingkindness is everlasting,’” but then something happened. The glory of the LORD filled the house, and the place was so filled with cloud (see previous post) that the priests could no longer stand before the LORD in ministry (2 Chronicles 5:11-14). Wouldn’t that be incredible: serving the LORD until He came and filled the place so much that even acts of worship got crowded out?
When God’s people are humbled, bowed down and they lift Him up with expressions of worship in singing, amazing things happen. For Paul and Silas, the house came down and men’s hearts were moved to repentance, more bowing before God (Acts 16:25-34).
One of the commands of scripture is that we speak “to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” (Ephesians 5:19-21) The reason we are to do this is found in the last few words of that passage: we are to reverence Christ in the way we speak to one another.
What amazes me is by the time we come to Revelation, we understand that all creatures have a similar response to God: living creatures, elders, multitudes, the hosts of heaven bow and worship God. Some do this in unique ways that others cannot: “And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth” (Revelation 14:3).
Heaven is about celebrating God as the creator and redeemer, not walking about in an eternal daze or riding celestial busses from mansion to mansion (as Heinlein once suggested). All creation is waiting for this moment of praise (Romans 8:19-22). Heaven thrives on the 1st Commandment!
This brings us down to some very important questions:
1) If worship is about what matters most, and what matters most will be the everlasting focus of heaven, then what matters most now? What is worth all our time, energy, emotion, affection?
2) According to Philippians 2:19-11, will there be less worship of God in hell?
3) What does Revelation 18:20 teach us about worship and the exercise of God’s justice?
4) “Knowing that the redeemed in heaven will include people from ‘every tribe and tongue and people and nation,’ what should our attitude be toward other races, countries, and cultures? How should this affect our philosophy of missions?” (John MacArthur)
Monday, May 18, 2009
The Campfire sessions were most memorable. There were those camp songs--songs that seem to stay with camps and are never sung again in life. It never occurred to me then that all the people living on the lake were hearing the gospel from 10 year olds every night from June to September as we sang out our joy in the Lord to the point we could hear echoes from across the lake.
"Heaven is a wonderful place,
Filled with glory and grace;
I wanna see my Savior's face!
Heaven is a wonderful place!
(I wanna go there)"
We heard Bible teaching on the glories of heaven, the streets of gold, no more sickness, crying and spending the rest of eternity with the Lord. And of course through the roar and blaze of the campfire we also heard of the horrors of hell . . .
Heaven seems to be a different kind of place for different people. Some see it as the gathering place for all who die regardless of belief, while others see heaven as the reunion place for families and conference center with the saints. There are people who see heaven as a state of mind or emotion, or even some place here on earth. Some others don't seem to care about heaven at all:
Our brethren, who art on earth,
Hallowed be our name.
Our kingdom come, our will be done
On earth, for there is no heaven.
We must get this day our daily bread;
We neither forgive nor are forgiven.
We fear not temptation,
For we deliver ourselves from evil.
For ours is the kingdom and the power
And there is no glory and no forever.
There are people who would like all the benefits of heaven, but would rather God not be present when they get there. But what is heaven? Is heaven the dwelling place of God, of saints, of the dead? No matter how one views heaven, the mere mention of the word brings a sense of comfort, finality, joy and arrival. Heaven has become symbolic for the epitome of experience.
Much has been written for thousands of years concerning visits to heaven (or hell). Others have only imagined being there. Can we trust what they say? "In contrast to the fanciful, bizarre, and often silly fabrications of those who falsely claim to have visited heaven, the Bible records the accounts of two people who actually were taken there in visions. In 2 Corinthians 12 the Apostle Paul wrote of being transported to the third heaven (the abode of God). But he was forbidden to speak of what he saw there (2 Cor. 12:4). The Apostle John also had the inestimable privilege of visiting heaven. Unlike Paul, John was permitted to give a detailed description of his vision, which he did in chapters four and five of Revelation. In these two chapters, John recorded the second vision he saw, the first being the vision of the glorified Lord Jesus Christ in 1:12-17. The Bible refers to heaven more than five hundred times. Yet John’s description in these chapters is the most complete and informative in all of Scripture. Through John’s vision, believers have the privilege of previewing the place where they will live forever." (MacArthur, John. Revelation. Word: Nashville, 2001.)
What Makes Heaven What It Is?
Revelation 4 is a unique passage of scripture, for the picture it conveys is exactly that: a picture, or painting (if you will) of heaven. We can see through his description one complete and uninterrupted view of heaven in this chapter. What John sees in this chapter is not understood through a filter that includes time--time must be removed as we are going to learn about the eternal. Since there was no way to actually “capture” the “picture,” we must use the limited means of human language to communicate, so only one particular aspect of the picture can be described at a time. Everything we read after Revelation 4 occurs within the context of what is seen in this particular vision; in other words, all that follows in subsequent chapters are the details of the painting, a recapitulation of the whole that would go unnoticed unless one points them out, hence the name, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.” Once we understand one part of the picture, we can move on to understand another part.
John is given a glimpse into heaven, and the first description he makes is not of a place but of a person. A place is not as glorious as the one who makes the place what it is, so the vision begins with a description of One sitting on a throne who is the centerpiece of heaven. This throne is the symbol of authority, and the one who rules as Sovereign sits on it. This throne will be mentioned a number of other times throughout the book, but all the action of this section of scripture is centered on this Supreme Ruler.
We are told the figure sitting on the throne is "like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance." Key word here is "like," signifying a comparison. David Gutzig reminds us these are the first and last stones described in the priestly breastplate (Ex 38:8-13). J,F & B suggest these are symbolic of the holiness and wrath of God. "The same union of white or watery brightness and fiery redness appears in Rev 1:14, 10:1; Eze 1:4, 8:2; Dan 7:9-10."
"Jasper" is not a reference to one particular stone, but is a category of stone that distinguishes one stone from another; that is, a "iaspis" (precious stone), not an ordinary "lilthos." The properties of the opal communicate the nature of the stone being described here: a white stone with hints of light reflecting green, red, brown, blue, yellow and white. Isaiah 54:12 describes windows made of precious stones, which need to be clear. This does no harm to the additional quality of jasper, which is described also as being clear as crystal or diamond in 21:11 and 18. The brilliance is astounding, but we get a better understanding of the color of this jasper by the next definition.
The one sitting sitting on the throne is described "like" the color of "a sardius in appearance." This color is in a red spectrum, ranging from deep ruby-red to a fleshly color; in other words, the jasper was sardonic. By the way, the stone called "sardius" was found on earth near a location named "Sardis" (this should ring a bell for the student of the Revelation). Sardis was the location of the fourth church Jesus addressed a letter in 3:1-6, the ancient capital city of Lydia, in western Asia Minor and is now a ruin called Sert-Kalessi.
The Rainbow and the Emerald Appearance
Continuing with the vision in 4:3, John describes a rainbow around the throne on which The One is sitting. When we see a rainbow here on earth, we only see a portion or up to half a rainbow. This throne is surrounded by a rainbow--he sees a whole rainbow, but it is like an emerald in appearance. Anyone in this generation knows the color of the emerald thanks to one particular story of one Dorothy from Kansas and her little dog, too. How can there be a dominating greenish tint that dominates something that should represent all colors of the spectrum? One might recall the color that saturates the dark skies during thunderstorms when storm cells that spawn tornadoes are present. Though the sunlight may be blocked by thunderheads to the point it seems like night, when at the right position to the light source, the clouds give off a deep green hue.
Elders and Creatures
The One sitting on the emeralded-rainbow surrounded throne is bordered by twenty-four other thrones whereupon sit twenty-four elders clothed in white and wearing gold crowns on their heads (4:4). There are also four living creatures (4:6, 8-9). The living creatures are described in 4:7 and reappear in conjunction with the elders in other passages yet to be mentioned (I’ll leave that part of the study up to you to see what they do—if I do it all for you, where would the fun be?).
The twenty-four elders represent those who co-rule under the authority of Christ; that is, those who are saved, glorified and crowned. Throughout the rest of the book of Revelation we find these elders doing a number of things that can only be described with the language of time, but doing acts of timelessness: falling down (4:10; 5:8; 5:14; 11:16; 19:4), casting their crowns and giving worship to Him Who Sits On The Throne (4:9-11; 11:16; 19:4); "answering" and "saying" (5:5; 7:13, 14; 11:16; 19:4-5); singing a new song (5:9); hearing other songs (14:3). (Now trace back through these passages to see what the four living creatures are doing.)
Now that we have an understanding of what makes Heaven what it is, and we understand what happens there, we can now understand some particulars of the whole. Zooming in for a closer look, we find details not noticed before.
Revelation 5 opens with a close-up of The One sitting on the throne. We notice He has a sealed up book noted with a peculiar writing style. A “book” as we picture in our western mind does not make sense, so we must adjust to assume something else called a “book;” that is, a scroll. The point here is not the book, but the One who is worthy to open the book or look into it. This One is described as “the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the root of David” (5:5). When we zoom in a little closer, John shows us this Lion. He is a seven-horned, seven-eyed Lamb standing with the Four Living Creatures in a space between The Throne and the thrones of the elders. And He is not merely standing, but standing as if slain (5:6).
Slain things don’t stand, do they? No. Nor does one picture a lamb when the thinks of a lion, either. Contradiction? Not in the slightest. The simplest explanation is this: He ain’t what you think. When writing to the seven churches, He describes Himself to be, “the living One: and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore” (1:18). Both lion and lamb are embedded within the history of Israel—it was a lamb that was taken into a household, raised as a family member then killed and whose shed blood prevented the Destroyer from entering the homes of the night of Passover (Exodus 12). “Like a lamb that is led to slaughter” so was He when oppressed and afflicted (Isaiah 53:7) in order to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29). He is the author of our salvation, who shed His blood in order to redeem us (1 Peter 1:18-19).
The reason why is He able to open the book and its seals is because He has overcome (5:5). In other words, He was “slain and purchased for God with Your blood from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You made them a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” (5:9-10). With His blood He brought men to God to reign with Him as kings and priests. He did not die to merely bring men into heaven. How small!
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Within the field of leadership, this course helps you experience and understand what healthy self-leadership is and learn how to establish healthy leadership in your context of ministry. You will attend the Willow Creek Community Church Leadership Summit, read extensively in books dealing with leadership, and will complete a personally-tailored project which will apply the skills taught.All CIU Faculty, Staff, Students and Alumni who register prior to June 30 can attend The Leadership Summit at the special rate of just $75. Register at http://www.willowcreek.com/events/leadership/2009/ and insert the code TLS2009 when asked. CIU is site #112.
Min venn, jeg stiller deg livets viktigste spørsmål. Din glede eller sorg for all evighet avhenger av ditt svar. Spørsmålet er: Er du frelst? Det er ikke et spørsmål om hvor god du er, heller ikke om du er medlem av en Kirke, men er du frelst? Er du sikker på at du vil komme til Himmelen når du dør?
Gud sier at for å komme til Himmelen, må du bli født på ny. Jesus sa til Nikodemus : "Dere må fødes påny." (Joh. 3:7).
I Bibelen gir Gud oss sin plan om hvordan en kan bli født på ny som betyr å bli frelst. Hans plan er enkel! Du kan bli frelst i dag. Hvordan?
GUDS ENKLE FRELSESPLAN
Follow this link for an English translation.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Earl Bartman, 37, was once convinced that his mother bore him and loved him. But recent discoveries have caused him to dismiss his old beliefs as mere myths.
“I began to study the events surrounding my so-called birth. There were many discrepancies that just did not make sense. My so-called mother had one account in her diary. My so-called father had another verbal account which I had transcribed. Many so-called facts simply did not match. There was also a birth announcement in the local paper that was well-preserved, but it was not in line with some of the statements of my so-called mother and my so-called father. . . ."
The rest of the post is here.
"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life." (John 5:39-40)
Within this wondrous volume lies
The mystery of mysteries;
Happiest they of human race
To whom their God has given grace
To read, to fear, to hope, to pray,
To lift the latch, to find the way;
And better had they neer been born
Who read to doubt, or read to scorn.
(Sir Walter Scott, "Explore The Book," Vol. 1, J. Sidlow Baxter, p.8.)
Friday, May 15, 2009
Scientists May Have Found How Life Began - Science News | Science & Technology | Technology News - FOXNews.com
Scientists May Have Found How Life Began - Science News Science & Technology Technology News - FOXNews.com
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I wonder how they would answer these questions:
1) Which came first: DNA or RNA to carry the DNA?
2) How can mutations (recombining of the genetic code) create any new, improved varieties? (Recombining English letters will never produce Chinese books.)
3) Which evolved first (how, and how long, did it work without the others)?
a) The digestive system, the food to be digested, the appetite, the ability to find and eat the food, the digestive juices, or the body’s resistance to its own digestive juice (stomach, intestines, etc.)?
b) The lungs, the mucus lining to protect them, the throat, or the perfect mixture of gases to be breathed into the lungs?
c) The bones, ligaments, tendons, blood supply, or muscles to move the bones? When did blood clotting become important?
Many years ago, while on a visit to England, a wealthy Chinese businessman was fascinated by a powerful microscope. Looking through its lens to study crystals and the petals of flowers, he was amazed at their beauty and detail. So he decided to purchase one of these devices and take it back to China.
He thoroughly enjoyed using it until one day he examined some rice he was planning to eat for dinner. Much to his dismay, he discovered that tiny living creatures were crawling in it. Since he was especially fond of this staple food in his daily diet, he wondered what to do. Finally, he concluded that there was only one way out of his dilemma——he would destroy the instrument that caused him to discover the distasteful fact! So he smashed the microscope to pieces.
“How foolish!” you say. But many people do the same thing with the Word of God. They hate it and would like to get rid of it because it reveals their evil nature.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
"It is the pounding effect of the hammer of the Word of God that finally pulverizes the granite hardness of our rationalized hearts and breaks through to make us aware that God is trying to say something. It is the truth, driven home be a heart made earnest in prayer, that melts and softens and heals, and thus causes individuals to grow." (Ray Stedman)
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
This verse was used on a Christmas card: "They exchanged gifts and made merry." (Revelation 11:10).
The context of the verse? rejoicing over the deaths of God's two witnesses at the hand of the beast.
Monday, May 11, 2009
The way the Bible deals with open frankness about all matters is reminscent of an incident which took place when Ray Stedman was being discharged from the United States Navy at the end of World War II. In common with thousands of others who were leaving the services at that time, he had to undergo a physical examination. Anyone who has been subjected to this knows that it is always done enmasse. Two or three hundred young men were stripped absolutely naked and were all standing in line in a room were they had to endure a very intimate and thorough examination.
One cannot read the Bible without seeing how intimately Jesus is concerned with His Church. God is concerned about His people and how He is being represented to the world by them. These churches stand exposed not only in space (one can visit their geographic locations) but across time. Through this examination, one gets the idea very quickly that Christ is the head of a living organism and if we are going to be part, we must make certain we are right about how He is represented both in and to the world. Interestingly enough, this book is about the Revelation, or the uncovering or revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. Right off we find Him addressing letters to His churches where He exposes them. What a contrast to see Who He Is and what He is not! This is the very purpose of the Revelation!
Try an experiment: walk up to anyone in the street and ask them, "what do you expect of the Church?" We will learn very quickly that the world expects something that is very different than what Jesus expects. Jesus never changes and the things that He expected of His people in the Old Testament have never changed even today. These two chapters help us understand that not every church is of our Lord Jesus Christ and not every doctrine is from the Bible against the Lord who never changes. We can learn what Jesus expects of His church by reading these letters. Golden lampstands mean that the church is priceless to Jesus. Each one is heavy! They are made of something that symbolizes great value. But how well are the lampstands doing what they were made to do?
First, people have the wrong concept of Jesus--they don't know who He is, so He identifies Himself in very particular ways in these letters. Should He be unrecognized by a church, then this might not be a church at all! Second, Christ has a role in His Church. Putting His identity and role together and we see Him as the one who is faithfully witnessing (1:5a) what He sees in contrast with Himself, giving testimony to who God is. He is "the firstborn of the dead" (1:5b); that is, He is The Primary One who is inspecting His inheritance found in the lampstands. He is "the ruler of the kings of the earth" (1:5c). In other words, He is excercising Sovereignty over creation, and in this case, the Church. He is the one "who released us from our sins by His blood" (1:5d). He is life and we will see throughout His addressed to His Churches that each one receives a promise concerning life following repentance.
What does Jesus expect of His Church? Be doctrinally sound, uncompromised. Love what He loves and hate what He hates. Be overcomers. Don't quit or fear what is coming. Be alive. As He goes through giving out "Church Health Awards," we find our Lord Jesus Christ making positive and negative statements about what He sees in each church, followed by words of instruction then a promise. There are also specific words or phrases that surface regularly in these brief epistles, such as "remember," "repent", "he who has an ear let him hear," and "to him who overcomes."
"The Angel of the Church."
Each church is addressed by Jesus to each "angel" of the church. Some feel these angels could be identified as the guardians of each church, the spiritual messengers responsible for each church. Others feel that "angel" is taken quite literally as the messenger to, or the one responsible to take the message of God to each fellowship of believers found in each city, specifically, the pastor or human leader of each group. If these were angellic (spiritual) beings Jesus is addressing, there is the question as to why each one would be addressed with the warnings.
The Bible makes a distinction concerning angels from human leaders specifically in relation to the gospel: they are messengers, ministers of fire (Hebrews 1:7); but are not subject to the world to come, "concerning which we are speaking" (Hebrews 2:5). Peter writes that the prophets made careful search and inquiry concerning Christ and had an understanding that angels do not (1 Peter 1:12). We also find in Peter and Jude concerning the swift punishments angels received for abandoning their proper abode.
Since God's Word remains unchanged, it does not follow that a spiritual being could be given the opportunity to repent, remember, and repeat what was done before (to the angel in Ephesus, for example). What would happen to angel who left his first love (Ephesus), opened the door to immorality (Pergamum), turned to idolatry (Thyatira), died (Sardis), embraced self (Laodicea)? Can an angel repent? Do they get white stones of innocence? Should he be concerned about having his name removed from the book of life? Can an angel become a pillar in God's temple? Clearly the spiritual beings are not what is in mind here.
"Angels" and "stars" are used together in the same context here. These letters are addressed to the ones Jesus holds in His right hand. The church should expect the pastor to be the messenger of God, and Jesus expects the same. Now is the time for accountabilty on two levels: how well has an imperfect man spoken on His behalf to imperfect people who are to obey what God has said?
"He who has ears to hear"
Consider all the ear problems: there are itching ears (2 Timothy 4:3) also known as "tickled" ears that mean; heavy ears (Isaiah 6:10) are usually identified with heavy eyelids; uncircumcised ears (Jeremiah 6:10). The first means that people are listening to everyone. The second means that people are not listening to anyone, namely God--should He have to ask for an audience? Jesus wants to know who is hearing His voice (Rev. 3:20). Since God has not stopped talking, He wants us to hear with the presupposition that we will obey.
This is a common admonition to each church, regardless of their spiritual condition. God is delivering His Word and the faithful will not merely listen, but will hear and obey. The Lord Jesus Christ is looking for hearing ears.
"I Am Coming."
Of the seven letters to the seven churches in these opening chapters of Revelation, six of them mention Christ's coming (Smyrna receives no message concerning His return). Three times He says He will come and deliver the faithful while the other three mentioning His coming and judgment of the unfaithful. Regardless, His coming is imminent. How will you meet Him at His coming?
"To Him Who Overcomes."
"The Christian life is a warfare against sin, Satan, the world, and the flesh. It is not enough that we engage in this warfare, but we must pursue it to the end, we must never yield to our spiritual enemies, but fight the good fight, till we gain the victory, as all persevering Christians shall do; and the warfare and victory shall have a glorious triumph and reward." (Matthew Henry)
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Дорогий мій друже! Дозволь поставити тобі таке питання, яке перевищує всі цінності твого життя. Від правильної розв'язки цього питання залежить твій стан у вічності: чи буде він щасливий чи сумний?
Говорячи коротко, питання зводиться до того: "Чи спасенний ти?"
Зрозумій це питання! Бо справа не в тім, що ти, може, є членом якоїсь церкви. Це річ зовнішнього порядку. Але сутність питання полягає в тім: Чи спасена твоя душа?
(Click here to read in English)
Friday, May 08, 2009
"I fear many of you are going to endless misery, and you are not doing so like many of my countrymen, who never go to church at all, but spend their time at home or in the public house. There might be said to be a Scotch way of going to hell, and this seems to be it: You have got the Shorter Catechism in your head, your Bible in the one hand, and communion bread from your minister in the other, but the world is in your hearts, and hell fire will be the end of it 'except ye repent.'"
Quoted by William Reid in "Look to Jesus." (1814 - 1896)
"God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7)
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Keith's recital of Jesus' sermon in the first 26 minutes is POWERFUL! But listen to Keith's sermon about the effectiveness of the Church in the world and what the Beatitude means to the heart after the 26 minute mark.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
하나님은 당신을 사랑하시며, 당신을 위한 놀라운 계획을 가지고 계십니다하나님의 사랑
"하나님이 세상을 이처럼 사랑하사 독생자(예수 그리스도)를 주셨으니 이는 저를 믿는 자마다 멸망치 않고 영생을 얻게 하려 하심이니라"고 했습니다. (요한복음 3장 16절)
예수 그리스도께서 말씀하시기를 "내가 온 것은 양(당신)으로 생명을 얻게 하고 더 풍성히 얻게 하려는 것이다"고 하셨습니다. (요한복음 10장 10절) 그런데, 왜 많은 사람들이 이 풍성한 삶을 누리지 못하고 있을까요?
Monday, May 04, 2009
Approaching this set of churches in Jesus' letters is not been easy. Reading the letters is easy, but the application of scripture is not, for one is not only able to diagnose one's own church body, but there are the greater applications that face the individual. This is the beauty of God's plan in Christ Jesus, to let us know what's on His heart concerning those who represent Him to the world.
The world notices the church, but the church seems to have difficulty noticing the world. The kinds of things churches tend to do to get unbelievers to notice them either make the unbeliever scoff and look with scorn on the church, or shakes the unbeliever to the core and draws them into a life of discipleship. Consider the personal level: I was sharing the law and gospel with some college students the other night and one girl could not understand why a Christian would have a tattoo (I have one on my arm). She had a problem because she saw someone claiming the name of Christ, yet clearly marked in a way that seemed to go against Christ. I pointed out that she did not ask me WHEN I got the tattoo . . .
There are times when the church tries so hard to reach the world that it has lost identity and purpose, and the world notices--is even offended! This last week a church in Melbourne, Florida has been threatened to boot New Hope Church out of Sherwood Elementary School. The reason? The church 25,000 colorful fliers to Melbourne households, asking residents "Is Your Sex Life A Bore?" and inviting them to go to the school to "learn how to have the Great Sex that God created you to enjoy!" Here's a video on the controversy.
Then there is The Revolution Church, who uses the Beastie Boys' hit "Fight For Your Right To Party" to invite people. If you dare, here are the lyrics.
Party Promo from Revolution Church on Vimeo.
Have you heard New Spring Church's opening number from this past Easter, 2009?
The world can't understand why this church hates church.
This church broke their attendance barrier by putting their pastor in a box.
Maybe the church should be sold like used cars.
Thanks to the Ministry of "A Little Leaven" for pointing these and others out. Oh, so many, many more.
That the church is point of confusion to the world is not new and this should not surprise us as we read Jesus' letter to these churches. Sure, people may come to a local church, but the church who looses its identity and purpose has only two choices: function under a compromised gospel (which is no gospel at all) and keep people busy with religion until they die and go to hell; or make excuses and rationalize and keep people people busy with religion until they die and go to hell. I suppose there is a third option: repent. But I get ahead of myself.
What makes an unbeliever sit up and take notice? Being different in the world. Obedience to Christ by doing that which is right, good and holy, and there are plenty of churches doing that.
Jesus addresses the churches of Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea, each real churches in real places in John's day. Interestingly, they are now dead churches, which should make us pay attention because dead churches exist in our day--if they have not closed their doors yet, they just don't know they are dead. I remember the first church I ever preached in--a church in the Navajo Nation capital. They had a nice sized building, a good parking lot (for the area). Plenty of space. But only two people showed up--well, four. Me, my wife, the guy who unlocked the door and turned the lights on, and somebody else. I preached the first extemporaneous message ever called, "Satan owns a Ghost-town." The next week there were close to twenty people present. Their problem was not that they were trying to be like the world, but that they had simply stopped being the church: no preaching, no Bible study, no prayer, no singing--they died and did not know it. As far as I know, they are still in the same town, just in a different location.
Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6): dead, and the things that remain are about to die--they are alive in name only. Their works are not perfect before God, they are not watching and are defiled. The future of this church lies in those who are still alive, not defiled. The ones who are watching will not be taken by surprise because they are walking with Him.
Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13): This church has before them an open door because, though there is little strength left, they keep His Word and have not denied Jesus' name. Because they stand for truth, the world sees Jesus' love for them. The overcomers will be pillars in God's temple. Jesus says, "Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown." What does this mean?
Different crowns are mentioned in scripture (not at all mentioning the metal rings of royalty, per se): honor (Job 19:9); an indictment of the enemy (Job 31:35-36); the hair of the head itself (Ps 68:21); beauty (Proverbs 4:9); an excellent wife (Proverbs 12:4); riches (Proverbs 14:24); grandchildren (Proverbs 17:6); The Lord of Hosts (Isaiah 28:5); Zion and Jerusalem (Isaiah 62:1-3); those who God saves are stones in a crown (Zechariah 9:16); thorns (Matthew 27:29; Mark 15:17; John 19:2, 5); other Christians (Philippians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:19); righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8); life (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10); glory (1 Peter 5:4) and majesty (Psalm 8:5).
Watchman Nee suggests that this church is in danger of losing what the other churches are trying to gain. William Barclay suggests that this does not mean someone will steal what was given to this church, but that God would give their crown to someone else who is worthy to wear it. "It sometimes happens in life that a man is given a task to do, that he is selected and chosen for that task, and that he goes towards that task with the highest hopes; but it begins to be seen that he is too small for the task, and that the task was too big for him; that is not worthy of the trust which has been reposed in him; that he has not got it in him to rise to the height of the challenge which has been given to him. When that happens, that man is removed from the task, and it is given to someone else." (The Revelation of John, Vol. 1. (1960) p. 168-169) Since the Lord Jesus Christ has made it clear concerning the suddenness of His return and consequences for those who are not watching for Him, and since this church is on the brink of death, this could be a reference to the crown of her own life.
Laodicea (3:14-21) is perhaps the most well-known church of the seven, mostly because of how the Lord Jesus Christ responds to her lukewarmness. This church has one view of itself, while the Lord sees it in a completely different way. Despite how they see themselves, the Lord views this church as wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. They seem to have such a self-sufficient attitude that they've not only forgotten why they exist, but also their purpose. They seem to have an attitude of autonomy, non-dependent self-sufficiency. The world does not exist to serve the church, but the church to serve the world. A good example of this would be New Riverside Church and their pastor responding to a lawsuite to curb his $600,000.00 plus perks. The Laodicean church (and many still thrive today) is a body that has forgotten their head--literally. Colossians 1:15-18.
John R.W. Stott has written: “Perhaps none of the seven letters is more appropriate to the twentieth century church than this. It describes vividly the respectable, sentimental, nominal, skin-deep religiosity which is so widespread among us today. Our Christianity is flabby and anemic. We appear to have taken a lukewarm bath of religion” (What Christ Thinks of the Church [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980], 116, quoted in The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Revelation 1–11 [Chicago: Moody Press, 1999], 137). I find it interesting how keen the world in on hypocrisy. I met a Arab man just last week who grew up in Jerusalem and only recently has abandoned Islam because of hyprocrisy. He will not become a Christian because of hypocrisy and has no interest in Judiasm. Just about every time I go out for ministry I meet someone who has the same excuse--I say excuse because each person will have to stand before God on judgment day. Will his sin problem be removed in Christ Jesus? This is part of the purpose of these letters: you take care of you before Christ. Never do we see the excuse of hypocrisy come to the surface in these letters.
Laodicea would do nothing about their sin problem--this was their danger. They saw themselves as self-sufficient and on the right path. The Lord Jesus Christ had another view of them. Professing Christians need to take a closer look at how God sees their hearts through regular introspection. We should be concerned with pleasing God in Christ Jesus by an obedient walk according to His Word. There is never a place or time when we can say, "Ok, God, I can take it from here."
The church in Sardis was alive, but they were dead; that is, their reputation was not their situation. Program-driven church life is no life at all. Seeker-sensitivity and marketplace church is not a living church but a church that is busy at life, but is not alive. An example of this can be seen in a new chemical-driven robot just developed by science. It looks alive, but moves because of a chemical reaction then quits when the "fuel" is exhausted.
The problem with Sardis is that they were alive, but are in danger of dying. The situation with present-day churches is that while many may have been planted with the right intentions, they lost their direction, focus, purpose and became what they were never intended to be. Churches are killing themselves because they are discovering they must keep people with greater things than what they win them with.
We learn a huge lesson from the church at Philadelphia concerning keeping God's Word. Obedience brings perseverance, keeping in the hour of testing. Times are getting tougher--this goes without saying--and our sure hope in found in the author and finisher of our faith. We must learn now not only how to respond to crises situations on various levels (flu epidemics, faltering economy, wars and rumors of wars) including spiritual crises. If we don't have our lives built on the rock-solid foundation of God's Word as a regular discipline, what will happen when the stormes come but that our house will fall flat.
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Hebrews 6:13-20, "For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, 'I WILL SURELY BLESS YOU AND I WILL SURELY MULTIPLY YOU.' And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise. For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."
God's preservation of His Word is tied to His unchangeable nature.
If God does not protect His Word, then He must change.
If God changes, then He can only change for the worse (and thus, He would not be deity), or the better (and He would still not be deity).