Thursday, March 31, 2011

Randoms

Is Belief in Jesus Necessary? Ronald Nash explores the dangers of Inclusivism. "The inclusivist view that those who have never heard the gospel will be saved has a serious, negative effect on Christian missions. In light of these and other problems, inclusivism should not be considered an acceptable option for Christians."

David Wilkerson answers the question, "Hell: What is it Like?"

Former Redskins coach, NASCAR team owner talks at prison, then school. Joe Gibbs, who won three Super Bowl championships as coach of the Washington Redskins and three NASCAR titles as a team owner, spoke to inmates at the S.C. Department of Corrections and later a luncheon at Columbia International University about his testimony, “Life is Game.”

If any gospel has God’s saving mission to the ends of the earth within its purview it is the Gospel of Luke.

Registration for Summer Studies at Columbia International University open April 1!  Register for Atlanta courses here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

St. Pats in Five Points, 2011

What a wonderful day!  35,000 people were expected downtown last Saturday and a couple thousand "plus" had an opportunity to hear or read the gospel through tracts, open air preaching and one-on-one conversations.  Here is just one video sample of the first two hours (or so) of the day:



Thursday, March 17, 2011

Why We Celebrate St. Patrick's Day on March 17th

According to church tradition, Patrick was born in Britain around A.D. 385 while the country was under Roman rule. His real name was Maewyn Succat. At the age of 16 he was kidnapped and taken to Ireland as a slave and sold to a local landowner named Meliuc. For the next six years Patrick served as a slave shepherding sheep with little human contact.

Although the country was harsh and bleak, Patrick’s childhood faith—learned from his Christian parents—sustained him. He wrote, “The love of God and His fear increased in me more and more, and the faith grew in me, and the spirit was roused, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers, and in the night nearly the same, so that whilst in the woods and on the mountain, even before the dawn, I was roused to prayer and felt no hurt from it, whether there was snow or ice or rain.” Under those harsh conditions,
Patrick’s childhood faith strengthened and matured and would one day enable him to reform a nation.

Patrick spent six years in slavery before he could escape and flee 200 miles to the south. There, in southern Ireland, Patrick found a ship preparing to sail to Britain.  When Patrick begged to be let aboard, the captain denied his passage. Patrick turned away and prayed for God’s guidance. Before he finished his prayer, the ship’s crew called him back to sail with them and soon he was in his homeland as a free man!

Yet Patrick’s freedom was short-lived. As he was traveling through the countryside, he was captured by bandits and once more enslaved. Patrick’s faith still sustained him and he felt reassured by the Lord that he would soon be free. Sure enough, after sixty days God delivered him!

Patrick maintained his humble faith in God and went on to study in a monastery for seven years, eventually becoming a bishop. Though living in freedom, Patrick never forgot his years in slavery. Instead of having bitterness about his trials, Patrick was burdened for the people of Ireland. The Lord wanted him to go back to them and preach the saving message of the Gospel. So in the winter of A.D. 432, Patrick returned to the land of his slavery—but this time as a missionary.

Church tradition records Patrick’s boldness with the Gospel. At the time, Ireland was led by Druids.  Patrick’s zeal brought him before the king. In the king’s presence the Druids mocked Patrick’s religion. Tradition holds that Patrick plucked a shamrock and said, “Here, there is one stem but there are three leaves on it, so it is with the blessed Trinity. There is one God but three persons stemming from the same divinity.” It is thought that this encounter with the brave missionary led the king to became a Christian.

Patrick continued to spread the gospel until his death around March 17th, A.D. 461. The Lord used Patrick’s ministry so greatly that much of Ireland had converted to Christ. It is often said that he drove out the snakes from Ireland—usually thought to refer to the Druid pagans. While there are many legends about St. Patrick’s amazing life, history is certain St. Patrick was a missionary spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Job's Reflection, part 1

The Old Testament book of Job is not one we may intentionally turn to unless it is the next book in our Bible reading, or we are facing some sort of deep difficulty and we flip though it looking for a measure of consolation. I am now reading through it yet again as part of my regular course of Bible reading—but this one passage has arrested my attention, and I would like to spend some time doing what Job does in this passage: reflect. I can honestly say I don’t know how many times I’ve read through the book and it never impacted me this way before—and it’s always been there.

The book of Job contains many clues that indicate the man himself lived long before Moses. This may not seem important at first, but the passage holding my attention is all the more intriguing because of this fact. Moses received the Moral, Civil and Ceremonial laws of God while on Mount Sinai, long after Job lived and died. Just hang on to that thought.

A quick survey so we have the passage in context (it is a long book):

  • Chapters 1-2 give us the setting and circumstance of Job
  • Chapter 3, Job speaks.
  • Chapter 4-5, Eliphaz speaks (one of his friends who come to visit).
  • Chapters 6-7, Job answers Eliphaz.
  • Chapter 8, Bildad (another friend) answers Job.
  • Chapters 9-10, Job answers Bildad.
  • Chapter 11, Zophar (another friend) answers Job.
  • Chapters 12-13, Job responds to Zophar.
  • Chapters 14-15, Eliphaz responds to Job.
  • Chapters 16-17, Job answers Eliphaz.
  • Chapter 18, Bildad responds to Job.
  • Chapter 19, Job responds to Bildad.
  • Chapter 20, Zophar answers Job.
  • Chapter 21, Job answers Zophar.
  • Chapter 22, Eliphaz responds.
  • Chapters 23-24, Job replies.
  • Chapter 25, Bildad answers Job.
  • Chapters 26-31, Job answers Bildad.
  • Chapters 32-37, Elihu (yet another friend) speaks up.
  • Chapters 38-41, The LORD answers Job.
  • Chapter 42, Job answers and is restored.
Our passage of interest is Chapter 31, where Job is nearing the end of his rope under the poor counsel of his so-called “friends.”

Many of us are familiar with the first verse of Chapter 31, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” This actually comes at the tail end of Job’s answer to Bildad, which includes a prayer to God for help (chapter 30). Despite all that has happened to him and all that he is lost, there can be a temptation to find a quick-fix kind of comfort.

Consider what happened to Jacob and his response when the news came that Joseph had been killed (Genesis 37). Truth was, Joseph was not killed but was sold into slavery—Jacob had been deceived by Judah, another of his sons, and was made to think Joseph had been killed. Notice Genesis 37:35, “Then all his sons and daughters arose to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted.” There was no end to his mourning!

Contrast what happened to Judah in the very next chapter (Genesis 38). Judah not only lost two sons to death, but lost his wife to death also. Notice that he did not mourn his losses the way his father Jacob did. Instead, he went to visit some friends and sought out a woman outside of marriage!

Perhaps Job had this scene in mind when he was thinking about what was going on in his life: he lost seven sons and three daughters, 7000 sheep, 3000 camels, 500 oxen, 500 female donkeys, all his servants. Then his body was covered in sickness. His wife? Apparently she survived and turned against him (Job 1:7-9).

Wouldn’t it be nice for a man to get a little pampering at the end of a hard day? A little fantasy, some “me” time, something to tickle the fancy? A little “release” . . .

Job is not going to do it, and there is a reason. Actually, there are two reasons and the first is because of a promise that he made to himself, and he is a man of integrity (no matter what his wife says—and where is she, anyway?). The other reason is more important because it has eternal significance, and we will visit that in the next post.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Challenge of Natural Disaster

When I read and hear the news about the recent tsunami that swept over Japan (as I write this, keen eyes are on California as the water level is rising) and I reflect on the many other similar events of the past few years, I find my perspective being challenged.


Why do we call things like earthquakes, fires, floods, hurricanes and storms, tornadoes, volcanoes, snowfalls, and like events “natural disasters?” I had to stop watching the news and local weather because when it rains, it is disaster because we need the sun. When the sun shines, the report is delivered apologetically as we need the rain.

When we refer to these things as natural disasters, aren’t we implying that creation should behave in some other fashion? What is creation’s view of the events?

“Disaster” is defined as a state of ruin or misfortune, an occurrence of widespread destruction and distress. Ruin for whom? Misfortune for whom? What is being destroyed? Who is having the distress?

Creation is to behave a certain way and “disaster” occurs when humans are involved. The stuff that happens in space does not bother us because we are too far removed from it—we are not in the way. The reason it is called “space” is because things are so far apart—we just can’t appreciate the chaos because of the distance, namely, from us.

There are times when God uses the natural function of creation to deal with man, such as the earth opening up and swallowing people who intentionally sinned against God. God said, “No,” the people said, “So?” and God said, “Oh?”

And there are times when God made creation do something just a little different in order to deal with man: the sun stood still; a bush that did not burn; water parting or being made into wine; a fish swallowing a man and vomits him up again; a vine growing overnight and producing fruit and dying; dead coming back to life, etc.

The loss of human life is tragic--a real disaster--and for the most part, disaster cannot be avoided. Yet again, there are times when it can. For example: if hurricanes have a predictable path, why must people make residents there? Nobody builds their homes on the freeway or Interstate, do they? No, but “Tornado Alley” should be a warning sign, not a welcome sign. Certainly there are many, many people who have no choice but to build their homes in certain places (such as the very, very flat land of Japan), but is it God’s fault if gravity works?

Jesus was once asked to comment about a group of people who were killed by Pilate. “What about them?” the people wanted to know. Jesus’ reply is interesting because he brings a natural disaster in to give an answer. He asks in reply, “What about those on whom the tower of Siloam fell? . . . unless you repent you will likewise perish.” Clearly, creation has done nothing wrong, but for those who have broken God’s moral law and sinned against Him, there is something much worse than natural disaster coming.

All creation is evidence there is a Creator, and it operates just as it should. I will even venture there are things that happen in the “machinery” of the world that have happened even before the fall: the wind blew, water flowed, the sun was hot, lava gushed, smoke billowed. But when the wind blows and the earth shakes and the water flows, we shake our fist at God because we have been inconvenienced, and tragedy sets in when life is disrupted. Or is there something more to life? Perhaps here is another place where our perspective is challenged.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Epicurean Paradox

[note: I pre-set this blog over a week ago, to post this today.  The headlines today are full of coverage of a tsunami in Japan.  Coincidental?]

The “Epicurean Paradox” makes the following propositions:

  • If God is willing to prevent evil, but is not able to, then He is not omnipotent.
  • If He is able, but not willing, then He is malevolent.
  • If He is both able and willing, then whence cometh evil?
  • If He is neither able nor willing, then why call Him God?
The Bible read like today’s headlines: people being burned alive, children being torn from the womb, mass killings, cannibalism, heads being cut off, hangings, stonings, rape, incest, adultery, lust, prostitution, bodies being eaten by worms, “men of God” running around drunk and naked, and so many other horrible things.  Has God lost control, or is He impotent?

Let’s be very clear: the Bible shows who and what man really is as it exposes all our sins, our lusts, our hatred, our love for violence. God is not the one doing the evil, it is man. Nobody wants evil things to happen to them, so should God kill evil-doers before they have a chance to do evil? If so, then God must kill anyone who has hated because in His eyes, hatred is murder. Have you ever been so mad at someone you wished they were dead?

What is God able to do? “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph 3:20-21)

Think of what this means in light of natural disaster. On April 14, 2010 a volcano in Iceland erupted grounding passenger flights across Europe. It triggered flooding from the sudden melting of glaciers and 800 people had to evacuate the area. Chris Jansing, a television correspondent for NBC News, was sent on assignment to cover the volcano. She reported: “For almost 24 hours after the cloud cover had lifted, I’d been watching with awe as the volcanic plume over Eyjafjallajokull grew. t was especially dramatic at night with bright white lightning strikes and bursts of energy glowing orange and red against the backdrop of that now enormous gray-black plume. But nothing prepared me for what it would be like to fly over the open mouth of the crater and watch a non-stop display of massive, heart-stopping eruptions.” She went on to further describe the overwhelming power of the volcano. She concluded her report by saying: “I’ve been awed and alarmed by Mother Nature before – covering fires, floods, hurricanes and earthquakes - but never, ever, quite like this.” As powerful as a volcano can be, our God is far more powerful.




“The greatest single distinguishing feature of the omnipotence of God is that our imagination gets lost thinking about it.” – Blaise Pascal

It is not God who is not willing, but man. God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Man is not willing to turn from his sin, acting like the devil himself, who is willing that all should perish and none come to repentance. Here’s what that means: sin brings the punishment of death and hell. God stepped into time and space in the person of Jesus Christ, dying on the cross and rising again paying the penalty we deserve for our sin. God wants man to understand how much our sin offends Him and with a broken heart, desire to be free from the penalty and power of sin by putting our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

If you “put on” the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no need to lie to one another because “you laid aside your old self with its evil practices and have put on a new self who is being renewed . . .” (Colossians 3:9-10)

If you “put on” the new self by turning from your sin with faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no need to steal any longer, but work with your hands “in order to share with him who has need.” (Ephesians 4:28).

The evils of immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputers, dissention, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, etc. are evidence that man is living well within his means. People who will turn from their sin are free to do everything they should according to God’s willing ability, to show: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control, etc. “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." (Galatians 5:19-24)

The Bible does not hide humanity and all our lusts, our hatred, our love for violence. Instead, it shows who we really are, exposing our sins and warns that God will bring every work into judgment.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Randoms

CIU Alumnus Tullian Tchividian (Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian) preached "Jesus + Nothing = Everything" in Chapel on Tuesday, March 8, 2011.  Must listen.

Two new collections have been added to the Bible Bulletin Board: The Samuel Davies Collection (1724-1761) - 66 Sermons available and The J. C. Philpot Collection (1802-1869) - 74 Sermons available

15 Doctor Who Fan Arts and Mash-ups found here.




Wednesday, March 09, 2011

"The Lord is not paying attention to my prayers."

A dear woman from Nigeria wrote and asked "i have been praying to God for a husband and children but it seems that the Lord is not paying attention to my prayers- what have i done wrong and how do i right the wrong? pls help me as i am very desperate and frustrated".

First, we must remember that God works everything according to His purposes in Christ Jesus. He cannot be moved to work according to our purposes.  There is no power in prayer, as if it were magic.  God is the God of power and He answers according to His glory.

Second, there are three ways God answers prayer: He can say, “Yes,” and grant the request; or He can say, “Wait, not just yet,” or He can say, “No.” It seems right now He is saying “Wait,” but that does not mean He will say, “Yes,” either. God has ways of putting each of us in a place where we must learn to become content in Him, for “godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6)

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Three questions you should answer:


  1. How old are you right now?
  2. How long would you like to live?
  3. People die at your age, so what you are doing on what could be your last day that matters for eternity?
Take the Good Person Test

Friday, March 04, 2011

"Am I A Prophet Because I Dream?"

A person wrote me from on mobile phone from Nigeria asking the following question.  I post the conversation here for your encouragement as you are obediently share the gospel whereever you are:

Question: "My question: i am a dreamer, i dream every moment i go 2 sleep both day time and night & i dream about great things & some times evil ones, even in my life b4 d physical manifestation of some things i have already saw in d dreams. So am i a prophet or am i called by God or is God in need of using me or what? I do not understand pls help me."

Answer:  If you have a dream and feel that perhaps God gave it to you, prayerfully examine the Word of God and make sure your dream is in agreement with Scripture. If so, prayerfully consider what God would have you do in response to your dream (James 1: 5). In Scripture, whenever anyone experienced a dream from God, God always made the meaning of the dream clear, whether directly to the person, through an angel, or through a messenger (Genesis 40:5-11; Daniel 2:45, 4:19). When God speaks to us, He makes sure His message is clearly understood. Sometimes we dream simply because we are asleep!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Randoms

Dr. Mike Barnett, Associate Dean of CIU's College of Intercultural Studies answers the question, "How Will We Respond to the Revolutions?"

The Alot is better than you at everything.

Here is an excellent explaination on the Biblical mention of Unicorns:

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

"Can I keep sinning and not be punished?"

The following question came to me from Ghana, West Africa (as part of a longer conversation).  I post the question and a response here for your encouragement as you go into all the world with the gospel:

Question: "[A Missionary said] 'When a christian sins God requires him/her to repent (be sorry) and ask His forgiveness. He will forgive your sin'. No wonder sin is prevalent on earth. Now tell me, If I kill your child, then I go to steal, I slap you for no reason. In all these instances I become sorry and ask for His forgiveness and continue this cycle till I die I will not be punished? Even disbelievers too feel sorry for some wrongs they do."


Answer:  Imagine you find yourself in court with a $50,000 fine. Will the judge let you go simply because you say you’re sorry and you won’t commit the crime again? Of course not. You should be sorry for breaking the law and, of course, you shouldn’t commit the crime again. But only when someone pays your $50,000 fine will you be free from the demands of the law. God will not forgive a sinner on the basis that he is sorry. Of course we should be sorry for sin—we have a conscience to tell us that adultery, rape, lust, murder, hatred, lying, stealing, etc., are wrong. And of course we shouldn’t sin again.

God will only release us from the demands for eternal justice on the basis that someone else paid our fine. Two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for the sins of the world. His words on the cross were, "It is finished!" In other words, the debt has been paid in full. All who repent and trust in Him receive forgiveness of sins. Their case is dismissed on the basis of His suffering death.  [From the Evidence Bible]
"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace." (Ephesians 1:7)

"For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death."  (2 Corinthians 7:10)

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