Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Love Leads to Thanksgiving

"Why do you love me?"

Admit it guys. This has got to be the most difficult question of all time. Ever. Not much else on the planet can make a guy stop whatever he is doing, make him stop breathing, cause a few second of cardiac arrhythmia and perhaps trigger an avalanche of anxiety than hearing his darling wife ask, “honey, why do you love me?” Ok, maybe being struck by lightning would do the trick. Statistics show that men will most often face repeated strikes by the one without ever encountering the other and be left deeply desiring the one over the other.
Despite the fact that I know deep in my heart that I love my wife dearly (words can never tell), I still brace myself for the moment I hear her sweet voice float the question.

Psalm 116 is the love song of a person deeply, passionately in love with God—and all the words to tell. Are you in love with God? Then read this out loud, “I love the Lord because . . .”
  • “Because God has heard my voice, my pleas for mercy” (v. 1);
  • “Because He is merciful when I was about to die” (v. 3-5);
  • “Because when I was low, He preserved and saved me” (v. 6);
  • “Because He has dealt bountifully with me, so I can rest” (v. 7);
  • “Because when I am about to die, weep or fall, He delivers and give me life” (v.8-9);
  • “Because He can be believed as truthful” (v. 10-11);
  • “Because I can give Him absolutely nothing except what He gives to me” (v. 12-13);
  • “Because He set me free” (v. 16);

I pray you’ve been blessed as you read those out loud. But that’s not all. It is not enough to say, “I love my wife” and do nothing. Oh, no. I gotta do stuff, starting with taking care of her as a person. Her first, then the “To Do List.” I can't love her because of what she does for me because that would be disasterous and my love would not be for her but for me. I love her because of her, so I show my love because of how she betters my half.
How do you demonstrate your love for God? Go back to Psalm 116 and make yourself a list:
  • I call to Him (vv 1-4);
  • I receive His mercy (v. 5);
  • I am saved by Him (v. 6);
  • I rest in His bounty (v.7);
  • I live and rejoice and am made to stand (v.8);
  • I walk before Lord in the sight of others (v.9);
  • I believe Him when He speaks (v.10);
  • I take His salvation so seriously, I hold it up and keep calling on Him (vv. 12-13);
  • I pay my vows to Him with witnesses (v. 14, 18);
  • I remain in His sight until death (v. 15);
  • I serve Him (v. 16);
  • I give thanks and keep calling on Him (v. 17)

My expression of love and gratitude does not come from me, but Him. We show our love for God out of who God makes us to be.
Now, why do you love the Lord?

Monday, November 28, 2011

“Still Here,” by Langston Hughes

I been scarred and battered.
My hopes the wind done scattered.
       Snow has friz me,
       Sun has baked me,
Looks like between ‘em they done
       Tried to make me
Stop laughin’, stop lovin’, stop livin’—
       But I don’t care!
       I’m still here!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Does God Require Animal Sacrifice?

Objection: Some verses show that God requires animal sacrifice (Genesis 4:4; 8:20-21; 15:9-10; Exodus 20:24; 29:11-37; Leviticus 1:5; 23:12-18; Numbers 18:17-19; Deuteronomy 12:27); however, other passages indicate that God does not require animal sacrifice (Psalm 40:6; 50:13; 51:16; Isaiah 1:11; 66:3; Jeremiah 6:20; Micah 6:6-7). This is yet another reason why I won’t believe the Bible!
Answer: Yes, God did command animal sacrifice; but, the sacrificial system was never intended to be permanent. The purpose of the sacrifice was to show mankind the necessity of being morally clean.
Look at it from this perspective: regardless of whether they were Guilt Offerings, Sin Offerings, Peace Offerings and all the rest, how many offerings would be given before a man’s resources run out? He can’t just walk up to the flock, grab a lamb and kill it. There were specific offerings that had specific criteria for specific purposes. The point was to show man’s limitations and God’s provision both for and in the offering. One needed to get to the point that he looked to God for cleansing, period.

Even if one could consistently give sacrifices (the record shows that Israel did NOT keep up the sacrificial system), one is only receiving a ceremonial cleansing. God is not interested in the outward appearance, but the inward cleansing of the conscience. Some offerings were given just in case some sins were forgotten!
The greatest and final sacrifice was provided by God: “For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?  . . . . For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it.” (Hebrews 9:13-16)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

"Thanksgiving" by Angela Morgan

Thank Thee, O Giver of Life, O God!
For the force that flames in the winter sod;
For the breath of my nostrils, fiercely good,
The sweet of water, the taste of food,
The sun that silvers the pantry floor,
The step of a neighbor at my door;
For dusk that fondles the window pane,
For the beautiful sound of falling rain.

Thank Thee for love and light and air,
For children’s faces, keenly fair,
For the wonderful joy of perfect rest
When the sun’s wick lowers within the West;
For huddling hills in gowns of snow
Warming themselves in the afterglow;
For Thy mighty wings that are never furled,
Bearing onward the rushing world.

Thank Thee, O Giver of Life, O God!
For Thy glory leaping the lightning rod;
For Thy terrible spaces of love and fire
Where sparks from the forge of Thy desire
Storm through the void in floods of suns,
Far as the heat of Thy Presence runs
And where hurricanes of chanting spheres
Swing to the pulse of the flying years.

Thank Thee for human toil that thrills
With the plan of Thine which man fulfills;
For bridges and tunnels, for ships that soar,
For iron and steel and the furnace roar;
For this anguished vortex of blood and pain
Where sweat and struggle are never vain;
For progress, pushing the teeming earth
On and up to a higher birth.
Thank Thee for life, for life, for life,
O Giver of Life, O God!
(Kauffman, D.  The Treasury of Religious Verse. New York: Pyramid, 1973.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Assurance Leads to Thanksgiving

I was going to write on Psalm 9, but I never made it past the Superscript. It’s too rich. It reads, “To the choirmaster on muth-labben, a psalm of David.” See what I mean?

You don’t? Well, let me ‘splain. We get the idea right away this is some kind of musical instruction, but we get sort of hung up on that nearly unpronounceable “m” word (just say it with confidence—it’s not that difficult).

There are many different thoughts about what “muth-labben” means: some divide the word up [לַבֵּן מוּת עַלְ (al mut labben)], which can be read “on the death of the son.” Others, based on the Greek translation of the Old Testament keep it all together as one word, עַלְמוּת (almut) which can be understood as a musical instruction, such as “sung with a young voice.” Why could it not be both: the tune is “on the death of the son,” and it is intended for the principle instrument: a young voice?

David was very specific to include this instruction and while it may be debated as to whether or not the superscript of any psalm is inspired (I believe they are), we should slow down long enough to consider what the musical direction tells us about the piece. Think about that (Selah)!
Our 2 ½ year old grand-daughter likes to play outside and she has an affinity to spreading out her blanket on the ground, laying down and going to sleep. She is not particularly tired when she does this—she just feels safe. A person is most vulnerable when they are asleep and she feels she can drop in the grass and rest, no matter what else is happening in the world.

Perhaps if we read Psalm 9 with a child’s voice, we may get an idea of the smallness, the frailty, the humility and child-like dependence of the writer on God. The writer is King David, but don’t let the office he holds influence your thinking. Here’s what I mean: we can safely guess that he wrote this Psalm (and Psalm 10—they go together) sometime between  the events of 1 Samuel 17 (the defeat of Goliath and the pursuit of the Philistine army out of Israel) and the events of 2 Samuel 1-8, where we find recorded the death of certain sons.
  • 2 Samuel 1: Saul and Jonathan are dead and David mourns with a warning (2 Sam 1:20—do not give the enemy the opportunity to question the greatness of God because of the death of Saul and his son);
  • 2 Samuel 2-3: after David is anointed King over Judah, Joab (nephew and servant of David) kills Abner (a commander of Saul’s army) and David mourns;
  • 2 Samuel 4: Ish-boseth (son of Saul) is killed and David mourns.
  • 2 Samuel 8:1 credits David with finishing the work that Samson started, beginning with God using David to defeat the Philistine champion.
The pattern is difficult to miss, but don’t miss this: the psalm expresses triumph over the Philistines (see Psalm 9:6, 15-16 for example) but following the death of people close to David. God’s handiwork in both Samson and David is plainly seen as they both were empowered to kill a lion and a bear (1 Samuel 17:36). The events of Judges 14 foreshadow what God was going to accomplish in David: bringing sweetness into a dead land. God has been at work delivering His people! This and the first paragraph of Psalm 9 set the tone for the joy in which it is to be sung!

Another clue we may have of the child-like dependency and performance of this psalm is the fact that it is an imperfect acrostic; that is, the first letter in each word of the each line is in alphabetical order (though there are a few letters missing). Here is the point: even a child can remember that God is Deliverer and we can rest in Him with full assurance. Now that opens the door to thanksgiving (9:1ff)!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Confidence Leads to Thanksgiving.

“What is this confidence that you have?” These are the words of an invader. The Assyrian army has seized all the fortified cities of Judah and is now on the doorstep of Jerusalem. The Assyrian king sent three generals to speak with Hezekiah, not face to face, but to shout public humiliations over the wall. Listen to them strip every ounce of hope in the hearing of the people, “You say (but they are only empty words), ‘I have counsel and strength for the war.’ Now on whom do you rely, that you have rebelled against me? . . . Have I come up without the Lord’s approval against this place to destroy it? The Lord said to me, ‘Go up against this land and destroy it.’” (see 2 Kings 18-9-19:37)

I am firmly convinced that when J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Battle of Helm’s Deep in “The Two Towers” he had the Assyrian invasion in mind. Peter Jackson did a fairly good job capturing the scene for us:

Yes, I think that is fairly accurate (even of the Assyrians).

Psalm 46 was composed during this very time, when then enemy was camped on the doorstep. The sense of the Hebrew in the first verse reads, “God is our refuge and strength, abundantly available for help in tight places.” I don’t like being in tight spots. They stress me out. I don’t do stress well.
The structure of Psalm 46 is beautiful: God is our refuge. He is at the top of the list as the bottom-most foundation. While everything around is falling apart, God remains unshakable, immovable. Hezekiah takes the letters of the invaders and spreads both them and himself out before God where he prays to God, His confidence. That very night, the Assyrian generals met Hezekiah’s confidence when 185,000 Assyrians met the angel of the Lord. Sennacherib, king of Assyrian, retreated.

The psalmist (and Hezekiah) placed their confidence in God because He does not move. The earth moves. Water is patient in its work, and the mountains fall down, but the water only bubbles and retreats in laughter when it is done. Men trip over stones that were once mountains and every mountain of a man falls.

God as refuge is the dwelling place for all who need protection and strength. Think of it: a city is made up of people, so all the people who abide in God will not be moved, even as enemies rage through the night. God will help and night turns to day.

We can take our confidence in God, our refuge. Think for a moment about His mighty work on our behalf: He destroys His enemies, causing their warring to cease, rendering bow, spear and chariot useless. He tells His enemies, “STOP and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Oh, yes! Give thanks because our God is with us, we who dwell in Him who is our refuge. The God of Jacob is our stronghold.

Friday, November 18, 2011

God and Respect

Question: Does God respect people, or not? The Bible says that He respected Abel (Genesis 4:4), the children of Israel (Exodus 2:25; Leviticus 26:9), those who kept His covenant (2 Kings 13:23) and the lowly (Psalm 138:6). Yet, God does not regard persons (Deuteronomy 10:17) and has no respect of persons (2 Chronicles 19:7, Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11, Galatians 2:6, Ephesians 6:9 and Colossians 3:25). How do you answer this contradiction?

Answer: Reading the King James Version, the dilemmais easy to understand; however, a simple word study reveals something different. Since we do not speak the English of 1611, we must first check our definitions—does “respect” as we understand the term presently match the understanding of older usages? Consider the word, “prevent”: does it mean, “go before, precede” or does it mean, “keep something from happening?” Since the 1500’s the word “respect” (as a verb) means "treat with deferential regard or esteem." One other point: what about the original languages: Hebrew or Greek? The one word translated “respect” in English is at least four Hebrew words and three Greek words, each with a different meaning.
  • And the Lord had respect unto Abel.” (Genesis 4:4). The Hebrew word is sha`ah (look, gaze);
  • And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.” (Exodus 2:25) The Hebrew word is yada` (perceive, know, see);
  • “For I will have respect unto you, and make your fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.” (Leviticus 26:9). The Hebrew word is panah (turn);
  • And the Lord was gracious unto them . . . and had respect unto them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob . . . "(2 Kings 13:23) Again, panah (turn);
  • “Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect for the lowly.” (Psalm 138:6) Here the word is ra'ah (consider, see, perceive).

We may pause here and ask, “Does God see, perceive, know, turn toward, consider” persons? He sure does! But exactly how does He do it?

  • Let’s modernize and complete what is missing from the proof-text of Deuteronomy 10:17, “For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe.” (ESV);
  • For there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons.” (2 Chronicles 19:7). The Hebrew word here is masso (lift up, show partiality);
  • God is no respecter of persons.” (Acts 10:34) The Greek word is prosōpolēmptēs (discriminates);
  • “For there is no respect of persons with God.” (Romans 2:11) The Greek here is prosōpolēmpsia (show partiality);
  • God accepteth no man's person.” (Galatians 2:6). This is only part of the text. Again, a modernized full version read, “And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)--those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me.” He is not swayed or influenced (as if anyone could throw more weight around than He);
  • Neither is there respect of persons with him.” (Ephesians 6:9) Again the Greek is prosōpolēmpsia (show partiality). The same is true of Colossians 3:25.
  • And if ye call upon the Father, who without respect of persons, judgeth according to every man's work.” (1 Peter 1:17) aprosōpolēmptōs (impartial). Self-explanatory.

Now we should ask if the first question is a good one, which we clearly see is not. Wouldn’t the better question be, “Does God treat people differently?” the answer is, "No. He is fair, and just because He cannot be bribed by good works. "He does not lift one person up over another, showing favoritism. If He did, we could say He was unfair, so the fact that He is “no respecter of persons” ensures that you get even-handed treatment along with everyone else in a world that despises discrimination.

Since He judges each person according to every man’s work, how does He see your heart? If you’ve ever broken any one of His commands, you must repent—turn from your sin—and put your faith and trust in the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sin. If you rely on your works, you are dead where you stand, being judged fairly. If you are lowly in heart, He will see you.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Justin Taylor answers the question, "Does an Unbelieving Child Disqualify an Elder?"

The Reformed Evangelist answers the question, "Is Inter-Racial Marriage Biblical?"
Modern ills threaten ancient Judean Hills springs.

Unity and love as Apologetics; or "Apologetics For The Rest of Us".

I don't do sports much, but here are 10 of the most unusual sports venues of all time, ever (my fav has got to be "Two Teams, One Endzone".

Researchers Finish Grueling 520-Day Mock Mission to Mars. Two of the three "astronauts" were paid about $100,000.00 each. The Chinese researcher, on the other hand . . .

Now here's a toughy. Standing on the Moon, what would hit the ground first: a feather or a hammer? Astronaut David Scott performed this experiment in 1971:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Trustworthiness Leads to Thanksgiving

Psalm 27 reminds us that God is not only trustworthy, but that He shares that attribute with us; that is, we can be trustworthy too. We should give thanks. If you think about it, the fact that He shares this attribute with us is astounding because I think I’m a pretty good person--sort of like Peter, the Rock—solid, right? Sure, if you look past the hot-headed impulsiveness. The truth of the matter is I need trustworthiness (among so many other things—but trustworthiness is the topic at present) and to get it, I have to look beyond myself, God-ward.  

The first two paragraphs of Psalm 27 (verses 1-11) help us learn the principle of trustworthiness and one cannot help but note the repetition of the command, “Do not fret” when we first see the contrast of evildoers against God.  Evildoers cannot be trusted, so don’t get worked up over the fact that someone has done you wrong. Make absolutely certain you don’t envy them and the reason is this: they may be tall and thick, but they will wither and fade.

When we trust God, we are able to put down roots and feed on His faithfulness. All our satisfaction is wrapped up in Him. When we commit the way we do life to Him, He will give us what is on His heart. That’s right—when we line up with the direction He is going, He will get us where He wants us to be. Look at it this way: there are two kinds of people: evil and not-evil (righteous). God will bring out His righteousness as light in those who walk in the light!

Now, how to we go about this?

First, stop what you are doing and prepare to obey with expectation (v. 7). Forget about those others guys because the prosperity of the evil is not the prosperity you need or even want. Remember: there are two kinds of people . . .

Second, don’t get all worked up and lead with your emotions. What does anger have to do with the history of God’s faithfulness? Turn it off.  Look, people are not stepping stones or ladder rungs. Others do not exist for the purpose of our personal gain (Zechariah 11:4-5). God will give us what we need, so trust Him. We don’t trust Him when we tell God He is not giving enough or moving fast enough. Remember: the meek shall inherit the earth!

Adrian Rogers told of a preacher serving in a church where he felt God had led him; but, nothing seemed to be working out and he wanted to go to another church. He told a friend, "I know where God put me, and I know God put me here, but I just wonder if He remembers where He put me." He has not forgotten us, but we may forget to trust Him and when that happens, we are no longer trustworthy. When we delight in God and obey with expectation, we trust Him. We have abundant prosperity in Him, so we can go out and not walk on people but serve them. Our service stems from trustworthiness.

Express thanksgiving for His trustworthiness toward you, to carry out His plan through your trustworthiness.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Integrity Leads to Thanksgiving

Psalm 24 is a beautiful hymn of praise that can help prepare our hearts for meaningful national day of Thanksgiving. This psalm of David falls neatly into two parts, both “bookended” with a direction to pause, think about what is being said.

Verses 1-6 form the first section where we come spiraling in from the outer reaches of space, viewing the earth, the world, its seas and rivers. Then we zoom in on one hill among all hills, and one place out of all places. Interestingly, this place is unlike any other because it is called “His holy place.” Though we realize he is speaking of the “Holy of Holies” within The Temple, the most interesting feature is that God is not limited to this one place as it is located on the earth which just so happens to belong to the LORD. The world and all who dwell in it belong to Him as well. He created the earth it’s seas and hills, yet we ask, “who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place?” We may as well ask, “What right do I have to be on this planet?”

God wants us to be here and He makes Himself accessible to all who have integrity. Integrity is not “the glue that holds everything together” or “completeness” for that matter. Integrity is cleanliness. Integrity is what we receive from the LORD when we go to Him and admit we are not clean (vv-5-6). When He makes us clean, we answer the question “who shall ascend the hill of the God?” with “I can!” Think about that.

Have you ever been in a large chamber or a cave or perhaps stood on a cliff against a mountain face? One feature of such an arrangement is the echo. This is the picture I get when I consider the next set of verses (7-10). As if we have ascended the hill and stand in His chamber we hear an echo, “lift up your heads, O gates, and be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in! Who is the king of glory?” This echo has another echo as the King of glory is identified: He is the LORD of hosts, strong and mighty in battle.

What do integrity and an echo have to do with Thanksgiving? Simply this: you and I cannot be in God’s presence unless He first extends and we receive His integrity. He extends Himself in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, who died to pay the penalty for our sin and rose again three days later. When we by faith seek after Him and have His righteousness applied to us, we are blessed to receive access to the throne room of God. Think about that and give thanks!

Monday, November 14, 2011

I Can't WAIT To See This One!

"i can't go on" (a poem for Monday)

"i can't go on
i mean
i can't go on
i really
can't go on
i swear
i can't go on

i guess
i'll get up
and go on."

--Dory Previn

Friday, November 11, 2011

Without Mother or Father? Is He An Alien?


Why does the Bible say that Melchizedek is "Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life?" Does that mean there are people who did not descend from Adam and Eve?


This verse taken alone seems to say exactly that, doesn't it? The best understanding comes from the context of the verse--we can't leave it in isolation. The subject of the context of the passage is the greateness of Melchizedek in terms of his office (the "priesthood") not his greatness as a person. The source of his priesthood is different than those who descended from Levi. Note: "But this man [Melchizedek] who does not have his descent from them [descendants of Levi] received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises." (Hebrews 7:6) His priesthood is different because he was not born into it, as the Levites were. The text even says that in principle the Levites paid tithes to Melchizedek, which underscores the fact that he received his priesthood from a non-Levitical source; that is, not inherited.

There is sufficient evidence to show that Melchizedek was not even an Israelite, but a Canaanite who worshiped the true and living God. He would have done this apart from meeting Abram, who actually came to meet Melchizedek from a polytheistic background!

There is no record showing that Melchizedek received his priesthood from anyone. Furthermore, there is no record indicating the particulars of his birth or his death. Being a man, he was certainly born, but his ministry did not require these vital statistics. Whatever his priesthood was, it was historical, genuine and continues without interruption.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hear CIU Professor Dr. Mike Langston on “Focus on the Family”

Columbia International University Professor of Chaplain Ministries, Dr. Mike Langston, will be a guest on the national radio program “Focus on the Family.” The two-part interview Nov. 10 and 11 (Veteran’s Day), is a special tribute to military veterans.

Langston, a retired Navy chaplain, will be joined by Retired Maj. Gen. Doug Carver to discuss their experiences as military chaplains and share inspiring stories of faith on the battlefield. To find a radio station in your area that broadcasts “Focus on the Family,” or to hear podcasts of the programs visit: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.aspx.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

It’s Metempirical!

While visiting the campus of The University of Georgia a number of years ago, I fell into a conversation with a student and the subject turned to worldview. She said she was an Atheist and a Taoist. I confess that I knew nothing of Taoism (and I still know very little about Taoism, but I understand so-called “Atheism”) and had difficulty determining where to go next, so I just asked, “How would you explain how this Universe came to be?” She replied, “It was a miracle!”

How odd that a so-called atheist would choose that word, “miracle.” I wondered why she chose that word, so I asked her. Her reply? There is no other way to explain how everything “just happened.” I could not agree more. I found out later that her so-called atheism was practical; that is, she understood biblical teaching to point to a lifestyle that was not “for her,” so she embraced another world view. I shared the gospel with her and the need for reconciliation with God, not a lifestyle.

We tend to toss words around out of context and this tends to strip words of their meaning and impact. “Miracle” is the name of a white salad dressing, for example. What is so “miraculous” about it? While it’s similarity to mayonnaise is obvious, it is less expensive to produce--the “miracle” is in the way it’s Kraft-ed.

Yet in the back of the mind, there remains the impact of the word, for people expect much of an event. There are attempts to strip the power of the “miracle” by removing the concept from it’s sacred roots--the new word is “metempirical” which refers to that which is beyond or outside the field of experience. It’s still a miracle. A.W. Tozer illustrates this well when he said there are two types of Board members: “those who can see the miracle and those who can only see their calculators and their strings of calculations.”

I bring this up because the world demands a sign; yet, in their asking, I am convinced the world understands what they are demanding. Even Jesus faced this demand from the most religious people on the planet--and they never saw it, though they saw it. How do I know the world demands a sign? Because the world is constantly looking for something to occur outside the realm of experience. This is part of what drives the entertainment industry--the next level of experience.

Sharing the gospel, teaching the things of God is part of the process of the miraculous because the result is that when one repents, he is a new creation. Something that did not exist before, and the change is instantaneous, it happens right before your eyes. Brethren, you know through reading scripture that God raises the dead--we get to see this happen when through faithful witness we see one who is dead to God come alive in Christ through repentance. We get to see those blinded by the god of this world and who are walking in darkness gain sight and walk in the light! Those who are bound by sin are set free to do everything they should!

Miracles are everywhere and they happen because of your obedient participation with God to the praise of His glory in Christ Jesus!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

New To Those Who Will Not Have It

A couple of weekends ago I was speaking with a man who brought up an objection to the gospel that is very, very common. The conversation reaches a point that goes something like this:

“God commands that all men everywhere repent,” I say.
“But, God forgives and is merciful and gracious,” comes the reply

“Yes, He is, to those who repent,” I respond.
“Are you reading ‘The Holy Bible’? Show me your Bible! Is it ‘The Holy Bible’? You are not reading from the New Testament. You are reading from the Old Testament. The God of the New Testament is a God of grace, not like the wrathful God of the Old Testament,” one objects.

“Regardless of where I am reading, you will find the grace of God in the Old Testament as much as you find the wrath of God in the New Testament. Here, let me show you . . .” and I open the scripture.
“You are twisting the Bible around . . .” and the person usually walks off.

I am amazed (and not surprised) that those who seek to justify themselves before God rely so heavily on their own understanding of scripture without having studied it. This is nothing new. John Calvin writes back in the 1500’s in his Preface to his “Institutes” that “our adversaries, indeed, clamorously maintain that our appeal to the word of God is a mere pretext—that we are, in fact, its worst corruptors.”  He writes further, “The true religion which is delivered in the Scriptures and which all ought to hold, they readily permit both themselves and others to be ignorant of, to neglect and despise . . . . the object on which all to a man are bent, is to keep their kingdom safe or their belly filled; not one gives the smallest sign of sincere zeal.”
The man to whom I was speaking made it a point to inform me that he follows his heart in making spiritual decisions—he does not need the scriptures. I asked him how he knew his heart was trustworthy and he could not answer. I asked him if God sees his heart the same way he does and he said he felt God understood his heart. I then held the Law to his heart so he could see that, by his own admission, God saw a heart of sin: lying, stealing, adultery and disobedience. He accused me of scripture twisting and stormed off. I taught him from scripture that God must punish sin and he should repent, turn from his sin and put his faith and trust in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

He left, leaving me to talk to the hand.
Calvin writes, “They call [our doctrine] new, and of recent birth; they carp it as doubtful and uncertain; they bid tell us by what miracles it has been confirmed . . . . they may sport with its uncertainty, had they to seal their own doctrine with their blood, and at the expense of life, it would be seen what value they put upon it.”

The ancient gospel is new to them that will not have it, that Christ “died for our sins and rose again for our justification” (Rom 4:25).

Monday, November 07, 2011

To: my NaNoWriMo friends

“Blessed are the legend-makers with their rhyme
Of things not found within recorded time . . .
They have seen Death and ultimate defeat,
And yet they would not in despair retreat,
But oft to victory have turned the lyre
And kindled hearts with legendary fire,
Illuminating New and dark Hath-been
With light of suns as yet by no man seen.”

--By J.R.R. Tolkien, ‘Mythopoeia,” in “Tree and Leaf” (London: Unwin Hyman, 2nd ed. 1988)
Happy Writing this month!

Friday, November 04, 2011

He Knows


Some Bible texts say that God knows and sees everything  (Job 42:2; Psalm 44:21; 139:7-8; Proverbs 15:3, Jeremiah 16:17; 23:24; Acts 1:24; 1 John 3:20), yet other Bible texts say that He does not (Genesis 3:8; 4:14, 15; 11:5; 18:9, 20-21; 22:12; 32:27; Numbers 22:9, Deuteronomy 8:2; 13:3; 2 Chronicles 32:31; John 1:7; 2:2; Hosea 8:4; Jonah 1:3, 10). Textual evidence indicates that God is not as all-knowing as He seems.

First, many of the texts used to disprove God’s omniscience actually demonstrate His full absolute knowledge. The context reveals God allowing man see from His perspective, so man can see what he (as a created being) does not know. Often, proof texts are used without discretion, such as Genesis 18:17 which speaks of Abraham, not God, who does not know.

Second, language of other texts (such as those mentioning hiding or being hidden from God) does not imply that God does not know the location of that which is hidden. God wants man to understand that nothing is hidden from his site. There is no place God cannot be and there is no place He cannot know. When I played hide and seek with my children, I knew where they were the whole time and their fun increased the more I pretended I did not know where they were. The same is true with sinful man: he is convinced that he knows where God cannot see and tries to hide there. God wants man to understand that He will search not because He cannot see, but because nothing will escape His sight.
"It will come about at that time That I will search Jerusalem with lamps, And I will punish the men who are stagnant in spirit, who say in their hearts, ‘The LORD will not do good or evil!'”  (Zephaniah 1:12)

Thursday, November 03, 2011


Stop Exercising So Hard! Why Moderate Workouts Really Do Work.

Simcha Jacobovici wants to do something nobody has ever done: find the tomb of Jesus. Good luck with that, Simcha!

"CIU Students Read through the Bible in Four Days."  I love our students!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Unruffled Patience

A few years back we sought to expand our street ministry beyond simply doing the work of evangelism by holding a Bible study in a local coffee shop. Many weeks we enjoyed studying through the Gospel of John as we sat outside, drinking coffee or tea. Our study grew more exciting when those sitting nearby became engaged by what they were overhearing. Once we had as many as eleven people gathered around (these tables sat only sat four people per table)! That particular day, one fellow stayed after and poured out his heart, expressing grief over his sexual immorality and dissatisfaction of working as a bouncer at a local gay bar (located, incidentally, about a block down the street from this very coffee shop).

One day, as we were just getting our study started, a personal familiar to me came up the sidewalk—a woman who had once been in my Adult Bible study class about two years previously. I remember her distinctly because as we studied the Gospel of Mark verse by verse, she suddenly stood up and noisily declared she could not stay in the study because she had never read the passage we were studying before and she left!  She was convicted by the scripture and she literally ran away! Now, here she was coming into the coffee shop and had to pass right through the middle of our Bible study. Politely, I greeted her and invited her to join us! She smiled, greeted me back, but declined the invitation. She stayed inside and never came out as long as we were there with our Bible study.

The following week, one of the coffee shop patrons (he always sat nearby just within earshot, but never officially joined us) informed me that the owner was having second thoughts about our Bible study. It seems that someone registered a complaint . . .

John Calvin explained his main purpose for writing what we now know as “The Institutes of the Christian Religion” as the preparation “of candidates for the sacred office, for the study of the sacred volume.” His desire was for the advancement of God’s kingdom and the public good of the Church. How was he received?

Calvin appends his Epistle to the Reader in the second edition of his “Institutes” with a response to the course of criticism he received from church officials and others: “[T]he devil, with all his crew, is mistaken if he imagines that, by assailing me with vile falsehoods, he can either cool my zeal, or diminish my exertions. I trust that God, in his infinite goodness, will enable me to persevere with unruffled patience in the course of his holy vocation.” (Geneva, 1st August, 1559)

When she was a teenager, my wife would come home from church to be met with yelling and berating and cursing—talk about coming down from the mountain!  Yet, she stood on the promises of God and held her ground in the face of adversity. You may be at a place in your life where you are trying to get it back together again, reading your Bible and praying. Satan and all his crew do not like this, and they will do all they can to quench your fire.

Over time, our Bible study ended, but not without first getting to know some people, including a few Wiccans. We remain unruffled.

We still go out and point people to the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. We do this because God is still infinitely good and so we remain unruffled.

They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, ‘Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.’ But I prayed, ‘Now strengthen my hands.’” – Nehemiah 6:9

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