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Showing posts from 2013

the charge to pastors

I've been reminded how the ministry of the Word is the foremost activity that Christian leaders must be devoted to.  Reading, studying, understanding, applying, believing, obeying and teaching the Scriptures is the prime directive for pastors. Note just the following passages in Paul's two letters to Timothy... 1 Timothy 4:6   If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. 1 Timothy 4:13   Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture , to exhortation, to teaching . 2 Timothy 1:13-14   Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.  By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. 2 Timothy 2:15   Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word o

boundaries for leaders

Notes from Henry Cloud lecture taken by William Warren... Click on image to enlarge.  

like the lightning

"For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day." (Luke 17:24 ESV) How much is packed into this one statement by Jesus about his return, his second coming!  How many errors could be avoided by paying close attention to this passage. His return will be like lightning ( sudden, unexpected, powerful ) It will light up the sky ( visible, glorious ) From one side to the other ( universal, global* ) the Son of Man in his day ( personal, bodily ) Jesus' second coming will be personal, visible, sudden, worldwide, and glorious!  *Jesus notes that at his return some will be sleeping, some will be working (17:34, 35). This is probably not a reference to shift work, but to the fact that for some it will be day and for others night.  Hint: Jesus knew the world was round. He goes on to say that his return will be preceded by a period of normalcy.  Normal human activities -- eating, working, attending weddin

loving the image of God in all

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." (Genesis 1:27 ESV) "Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?"  (Isaiah 58:7 ESV) "But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. "  (Matthew 5:44-45 ESV) "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them."  (Romans 12:14 ESV) "So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith."  (Galatians 6:10 ESV)   Christians are commanded to love all humanity.  One reason for this is that there is one human nature, since all are descended from the firs

canon is self-authenticating

In giving verbal revelation about himself, to whom can God appeal for authentication?  Reason, evidence, church councils?  He uses these as confirming witnesses, but not as the grounds for the authority of his Word, nor as the basis of our acceptance of his Word.   "For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself , saying, 'Surely I will bless you and multiply you.'  And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise.  For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation.  So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath , so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us."  ( Hebrews 6:13-18 ESV) Ther

tolerance and despair

...what do these have in common?  British author Dorothy Sayers gives insight: “In the world it is called Tolerance, but in hell it is called Despair, the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die.”   Here is Sayer's quote in context , on the topic of sloth (or acedia) as one of the deadly sins.

should the church be non-judgmental?

People will say that one of the main things they are looking for in a church, or in a group of   Christians, is that they are not judgmental.   Occasionally, people will say that they appreciate that our church is not judgmental.   It's meant as a compliment, I know, but I'm a little unsure how to respond to that. Most people usually mean that a person or group of people don't pass judgment upon others in the sense of heaping condemnation upon them.   Fair enough.   But it may mean, you don't come down on sin (or a particular sin) so hard, or you're not negative about anything.   But, can we ever really be non-judgmental?   Even the statement, "you are too judgmental" or "you should be more non-judgmental" is a judgment in itself.   The speaker is making the judgment that this other kind of judgment is wrong.   There's a disapproval of that other kind of disapproval.   "You shouldn't be so negative" is a negative statem

1 Peter series

Listening to the three-part series on 1 Peter by Vaughan Roberts in this year's EMA conference in England.   Very encouraging and challenging.  Roberts applies Peter's letter to the increasing marginalization of evangelicals today in the west.   Here are a few quotes from the second message ... "Do we add value to the culture and community in which we live?" "We may not get justice in this life, but judgment is coming." "God did not choose to save us through political power, but through the cross."

the anointed one

Here's a graphic I used in the History of Redemption walk-through.  In the Old Testament God raised up special individuals to mediate Israel's relationship with God. The prophet spoke to the people on behalf of God.  The priest represented the people before God.  And the king ruled the people for God.  These individuals were anointed with oil, and often with the Spirit.   The OT looked forward to One who would combine all the special, anointed offices.  Ezekiel was both priest and prophet.  David was prophet and king.  But no one could combine all these offices except The Anointed One (Messiah).  This was the Messianic expectation.  See Deuteronomy 18, Isaiah 9, Daniel 7, and Psalm 2 and 110.  Jesus perfectly reveals the Father to us, represents us before the Father, and rules us in God's righteousness.   

calvary love

Amy Carmichael wrote convicting prose in her classic "If..." Much to reflect on from her life of service among the orphans of India.  Selections below, and the complete work is found here.   If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting "Who made thee to differ? And what hast thou that thou hast not received?" then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I can enjoy a joke at the expense of another; if I can in any way slight another in conversation, or even in thought, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I do not feel far more for the grieved Savior than for my worried self when troublesome things occur, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I feel bitter toward those who condemn me, as it seems to me, unjustly, forgetting that if they knew me as I know myself they would condemn me much more, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If

on calling

"We are not wise enough, pure enough, or strong enough to aim and sustain such a single motive over a lifetime. That way lies fanaticism or failure. But if the single motive is the master motivation of God's calling, the answer is yes. In any and all situations, both today and tomorrow's tomorrow, God's call to us is the unchanging and ultimate whence, what, why, and whither of our lives.  Calling is a 'yes' to God that carries a 'no' to the chaos of modern demands. Calling is the key to tracing the story line of our lives and unriddling the meaning of our existence in a chaotic world.” (Os Guinness, The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life )

on leaving home

Ann Voskamp to her son, as he prepares to leave home... The Bible’s true, son. Every infallible, sword-sharp, breathing word of it. Don’t let anyone ever rationalize one beautiful iota of it away. Love it because it’s your Life. The only life worth living is the one lost. Do it often: grab a lifeline by stepping offline. You’ll see your true self when you look for your reflection in the eyes of souls not the glare of screens. This is what you always need to know: You have nothing to prove to anyone – if you’re in Him, you are already approved. Be okay with not being liked: life’s about altars not applause. And be okay with not being seen or heard. It’ll let you hear and see better. And it’s the work of every child to fully forgive the parents. This is how it turns, the torch passing from one to the next. Read the complete post here .   

why christianity?

Kenneth Scott LaTourette, church historian, writes about the success of Christians in the early centuries... Inevitably the question arises: Why, from being the faith of a small, persecuted minority in competition with other religions which appeared to have better prospects of success, did Christianity eventually enroll the large majority of the population of the Roman Empire? To that outcome several factors contributed. In the disintegration of the existing order which by the end of the second century was becoming obvious many individuals were seeking spiritual and material security and believed that they could find it in the Christian faith.  By the end of the third century, while enlisting only a minority, the Church was Empire-wide, was more comprehensive than any institution except the state, and gave to its members a sense of brotherhood and solidarity. Christianity assured its adherents what many in the ancient world were craving -- high ethical standards, a spiritual dynami

the conversion of Saul

“That the tide of sin, which before did run so strong — should be so easily turned; that the sinner who, a little before was sailing hellward, and lacked neither wind nor tide to carry him there—should now suddenly alter his course, and tack about for heaven—what a miracle is this! To see an earthly man become heavenly, a carnal man become spiritual, a loose man become precise, a proud man become humble, a covetous man become liberal, and a harsh man become meek, is to behold the greatest of miracles!”  (Thomas Brooks, The Crown and Glory of Christianity ) “We thank you for the witness of the apostle Paul, who was your chosen messenger.  We rejoice in the glory of these matchless books which have enable men [and women] to live lives of victory over sin and have stayed their souls.  And we pray that this great apostle may again be heard, that the darkness may be dispelled, and that men may find here the great charter of Christian liberty, that without the merit of their own, but thro

Christ and the Ten Commandments

Have profited from this section of John Frame's The Doctrine of the Christian Life (P&R Publishing, 2008), pp 400-401... PREACHING CHRIST FROM THE DECALOGUE By John M. Frame   If all Scripture testifies of Christ, the law of God surely cannot be an exception. As we study the law in a seminary context, then, nothing can be more important than to study its witness to Christ. Ministers of the gospel need to learn how to preach Christ from the law.   In fact, the law bears witness to Christ in a number of ways, some of which I shall discuss in the following points.   1. The Decalogue presents the righteousness of Christ . When we say that Christ was the perfect lamb of God and the perfect example for the Christian life, we are saying that he perfectly obeyed God’s law. He never put any god before his Father. He never worshiped idols or took God’s name in vain. The Pharisees arguments to the contrary notwithstanding, he never violated the Sabbath command. So, the Deca

the bible’s really not about you

Jesus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is imputed to us. Jesus is the true and better Abel who, though innocently slain, has blood now that cries out, not for our condemnation, but for acquittal. Jesus is the true and better Abraham who answered the call of God to leave all the comfortable and familiar and go out into the void not knowing wither he went to create a new people of God. Jesus is the true and better Isaac who was not just offered up by his father on the mount but was truly sacrificed for us. And when God said to Abraham, “Now I know you love me because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love from me,” now we can look at God taking his son up the mountain and sacrificing him and say, “Now we know that you love us because you did not withhold your son, your only son, whom you love from us.”   Jesus is the true and better Jacob who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserved, so we, like Jac

loving God with our mind

"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And [Jesus] said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment." (Matthew 22:36-38 ESV) "I will suggest that loving God with the mind means that our thinking is wholly engaged to do all it can to awaken and express the heartfelt fullness of treasuring God above all things. Treasuring God is the essence of loving him, and the mind serves this love by comprehending (imperfectly and partially, but truly) the truth and beauty and worth of the Treasure."   (John Piper, Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God. )

become a fool, own the cosmos

"For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.   For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men... So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future--all are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's."   (1 Corinthians 1:21-25; 3:21-23 ESV) "You are either glorying in men, or else you are glorying in the Lord Jesus Christ. Glory in men and you will continue a slave and the slavery will increase!   Glory in the Lord Jesus Christ and he will set you free, and make you willing

for all peoples

And [Simeon] came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,  "Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples , a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel."  (Luke 2:27-32 ESV)   To see Jesus is to see the salvation God has prepared for all peoples.  Earlier the angel who spoke to the shepherds said, "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior , who is Christ the Lord."  (Luke 2:11)  But Simeon, holding and gazing upon the baby Jesus, prays, "my eyes have seen your salvation ."   The Savior is the Salvation.  Salvation is a Person.  Jesus did not come just to show a way, or the best way, but to be The Way.  And this Person is himself the salvati

a leap into the light

Hear Eric Metaxis' story here .

acknowledging the issue, a moral victory

it all depends

Here's a little poem by Abraham Ebel on relativism.  It's been around awhile, but this is a clever way of putting it... It all depends on where you are  and it all depends on who you are. It all depends on what you feel,  and it all depends on how you feel. It all depends on how you’re raised,  and it all depends on what is praised. What’s right today is wrong tomorrow.  Joy in France and England’s sorrow. It all depends on point of view,  Australia or Timbuktu. In Rome do as the Romans do. If tastes just happen to agree, then you have morality. But where there are conflicting trends it all depends; it all depends.

Getz on leadership unity

Quotes taken from interview of Gene Getz by Howard Hendricks (from DTS class on Leadership)... “As the biblical story unfolds in the New Testament, it becomes increasingly clear that each local church was to be managed and shepherded by a unified team of godly men... "As they [the disciples] left the upper room and headed towards the Kidron Valley and they were following along, still not understanding everything that’s going on here, Jesus lifted His eyes and He prayed and He said, 'Father' –part of that prayer, 'Father, I pray for them, these men. But not just for them, but for all those who will believe on Me through them,' which is us, by the way, 'that they’ll be one as We are one. I in You, You in Me' –for what reason? '–so the world will believe that You have sent Me.' Inherent in the unity in that leadership team is a reflection of the Trinity...  "All the way through the Scriptures, that concept of oneness is there. Now, that oneness

new song

"Spirit Of The Living God", by Audrey Assad O Spirit of the living God, thou Light and Fire Divine Descend upon Thy Church once more and make it truly Thine Fill it with love and joy and power, with righteousness and peace Till Christ shall dwell in human hearts, and sin and sorrow cease. Blow, wind of God, with wisdom blow until our minds are free from mists of error, clouds of doubt, which blind our eyes to Thee Burn, winged fire, inspire our lips with flaming love and zeal To preach to all Thy great good news, God's glorious commonweal. So shall we know the power of Christ, who came this world to save So shall we rise with Him to life which soars beyond the grave And earth shall win true holiness which makes Thy children whole Till, perfected by Thee, we reach creation's glorious goal. Listen to it here .

grace for the entire journey

"The Christian ought to rely on divine strength because this plan results in the greatest of advancement of God's own glory (Eph. 1:4, 12).   If God had given you a lifetime supply of his grace to begin with and left you to handle your own account, you would have thought him generous indeed.   But he is magnified even more by the open account He sets up in your name.    Now you must acknowledge not only that your strength comes from God in the first place, but that you are continually in debt for every withdrawal of strength you make throughout your Christian course. "When a child travels with his parents, all his expenses are covered by his father-- not by himself.   Likewise, no saint shall say of heaven when he arrives there, 'This is heaven, which I have built by the power of my own might.'   No, the heavenly Jerusalem is a city 'whose builder and maker is God' (Heb. 11:10).   Every grace is a stone in that building, the topstone of which is

today's quotes

Niebuhr's definition of liberal Protestantism may be applied to today's revisionist Christianity : “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.”   (Richard Niebuhr, The Kingdom of God in America , 1937) The "love of God" can be used in the Bible in different ways : "God loves with a love of benevolence (John 3:16) and with a love of delight (Zeph 3:17)." (Thomas Manton) C. S. Lewis on applied science, which we could call "technology" : "There is something which unites magic and applied science [ =technology ] while separating both from the 'wisdom' of earlier ages.  For the wise men of old the cardinal problem had been how to conform the soul to reality, and the solution had been knowledge, self-discipline, and virtue.  For magic and applied science alike the problem is how to subdue reality to the wishes of men; the solution is a techni

why a narrow gate?

"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.   For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few."   (Matthew 7:13-14 ESV) Why does Jesus say that the gate to life is narrow ?   Which leads to some related questions: why is Christianity so exclusive ?   Will only a few ultimately be saved?   Doesn't God want all, or at least lots of people, to be saved?    Is he making the way more difficult than it needs to be ? First of all, we should underscore the truth that God does not delight in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23; 33:11).   I t is not that God intends to make the way of life difficult for difficulty's sake.   He's not being cruel, or miserly, or hard to please. The way and the welcome is open to all.  However, then as now, many people find the exclusive claims of Christ, and of Christianity, to be deeply offensiv