Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Paul Washer: Jesus Christ Is Not a Yuppie's Accessory

video
This is a great video and can be very convicting, as much of Paul's preaching is. As highly as I view evangelism, I am reminded that our first priority is not evangelism. Our first priority is the pursuit of God. 

Do you have a heart that seeks after God before all else? Or do you seek to "do" for God first. Yes, we've been called to obey Him but cold obedience to task-oriented religion is not Christianity. Do you have a passion to know God? 

It can be  easy to fall into a trap where we seek to "convince the lost" of their need for Christ and all the while merely be wishing to win an argument. Another notch on the belt. Yet our first priority is not "winning the lost" as important as that is, but our relationship with Him. 

Yes, contemporary evangelism is weak and errant. Yes, we spend too little time reaching out with the Gospel to those who need it. But how often do we substitute routine for relationship with God. . .or even worse, use evangelistic activities to obscure a starved relationship? 

Paul's point is that a real Christian will have a passion for God. He argues that love is not just "a verb". It involves the emotion. Yes, if you love someone, the actions will show but it's not just performance based religion. 

So,  I pose the question to you. How high a priority is your passion for the pursuit of God?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Science & the Bible Part 2

Jan MarKell over at Christian Worldview Network has something worth listening to.  Here's part one, which I just found.

Monday, May 19, 2008

. . .and I say, Even So, Come Lord Jesus.

The signs are everywhere. Our society is unraveling. Whatever is ungodly is exalted and whatever calls us to account is made light of. 

Our society cries and whines about healthcare, even while it promotes the homosexual agenda which is responsible for the bigger share of the spread of AIDS. Talk about schizophrenic! And the nutcases that want to say "it's part of evolution".  Wow. Talk about nonsense! A non-procreative lifestyle is a part of evolution? Can you say "That dog don't hunt"? Oh yeah. I forgot. "Homosexual activity can be seen in the animal kingdom". As if they are our example anyway.

There's more. While an increasing number of Jews are returning to Israel and more and more Jews are recognizing Jesus Christ as their Messiah, our country, among others, is more than happy to play footsie with their enemies in the name of "Peace". 

More schizophrenia.

And then, of course, is how our representative form of government is on the demise. News of erasing our borders (ever heard of the "North American Union"?), killing the dollar and replacing it with the  "Amero" and ultimately merging it with the Euro, the emergence of a world court which has already began sticking it's filthy fingers in our judicial business. After a while, anyone can see the signs.

Does this mean that Jesus is returning tomorrow? Today? Who knows. Our Lord said that no one knows the day or hour. And I'm not predicting. 

I get all kinds of email. I think what brought this post about is a link I got on Saturday. If you want to be brought to despair, here's a couple of videos for you to look at. Nothing new, but they kind of summarize my point. 






I am a Christian, first and foremost. Whatever happens, my allegiance is to Christ. Not that I am perfect. And not that I don't get frustrated, because I do. My father and so many of his generation, which I believe was one of the greatest generations our country has seen, are being wholesale betrayed. . .and it began long ago. 

It is tempting to feel defeated. Naturally, we would like things to turn around. God willing, they will. But I don't see any signs of it. Oh, a skirmish won here and there. But no large turning of the tide. And, as many unbelievers have said, "Christians better be ready to become very unpopular". 

Well, we may well be. For a while.

But in all this, even though we may be tempted, we are not to despair. Nope. No way.

If you were able to go back and tell Moses what you knew and encourage him, what would you say? That the scriptures tell us what happened. God was faithful to what He told him. The same goes for all the crises in the Scriptures. We could say "here's how it worked out. God took care of it". Yet, it is so easy for us to see what is going on around us and be nearly consumed with "what can we do to fix this" or "we gotta make this right". No, we don't. 

Turn to Psalm 11. This is a wonderful Psalm for days like ours. Like the Psalmist, we can almost hear lost society mocking us, saying "we're destroying your foundation, what will you righteous jokers do". 

The answer? It's not up to us. 

Here's the Psalm:

"1 In the LORD I take refuge;
How can you say to my soul, “Flee as a bird to your mountain; 
2 For, behold, the wicked bend the bow,
They make ready their arrow upon the string
To shoot in darkness at the upright in heart. 
3 If the foundations are destroyed,
What can the righteous do?” 
4 The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD’S throne is in heaven;
His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. 
5 The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked,
And the one who loves violence His soul hates. 
6 Upon the wicked He will rain snares;
Fire and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup. 
7 For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness;
The upright will behold His face."


God is on His throne. We don't see Him, but He is there. I don't see electricity but I know it's there. I don't see oxygen, but I know it's there. I see the effect of electricity, I breath oxygen and I see the outworkings of God. 

Not only is God on His throne, He sees it all and he knows what is in their heart. 

You know, so often we fall into the same trap as the unbeliever. Since God hasn't exercised judgement, we act as if He isn't there. But He is. Judgement postponed isn't judgement denied. And it will be exercised. We know that it will be, as sure as we know Sodom and Gomorra were destroyed and Tyre was leveled never to be rebuilt.

John MacArthur, who is a pre-trib pre-millennialist (as I am as well) once was discussing what he would do if he were wrong and found himself in the Tribulation. He said that he would simply go to the AntiChrist, call him that to his face, and that would be that. That is my attitude as well. 

See, it's all just a test. All the madness. All the insanity. How the world is going. God is testing us. He is purifying the Church. The tares are becoming known. It'll cost something to be  a believer. And guess what? Contrary to what easy believe-ism teaches, that is exactly what Jesus taught. 

The time is over to debate with gays, atheists and those skeptics and cynics that once claimed to be Christians but were never converted. How many times I've tried to discuss false conversion with apostates. How the Scriptures tell us that "converts" that fall away merely betray themselves as those who were never converted. John, among others, told us that in 1 John. They left us because they were not of us. If they are for real they will "continue to purify themselves even as He is pure". Why? Because the Lord of the Universe who puts new life in a regenerate person will make sure that they continue. 

So, to this world that is so quickly falling apart, I say "come and get me!". Arrest me. Do whatever. I won't resist. I know how the story ends.

You can ban Christianity, you can create "hate crime" laws that protect sin, you can put me in jail for exercising my faith. You can even put me to death! Have at it!

But you know what? Jesus said I am not to fear man, who can only destroy the body and after that do nothing, but rather to fear God Who is able to send a soul  to Hell. 

Yes, I fear God. God is Holy. He is Righteous and will exercise righteous judgement on a sinful world. You can have this world. It's all perishing anyway. And where will you be a thousand years from now? A million? And yet while I do fear God, I thank Him for sending His one and only Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for my sin. 

So, as this world goes down the tubes, don't despair. Remind yourself of the certainty of God's Word. Yes, the world will laugh. For a while. But their laughing will turn to mourning. And our wailing will turn to dancing.

In all this, may God be glorified forever.




Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What Triggered Such a Sudden Onslaught of Hard-Core, Mean-Spirited Atheistic Propaganda?

An excerpt from Christian Worldview Network:

"Our 2008 Australian Summit was conducted in Melbourne at the Deakin University campus. The college bookstore was drenched in Richard Dawkins. His picture was everywhere, promoting his book The God Delusion. But nowhere to be found were any works challenging Dawkin’s atheism, Darwinism, humanism (but I repeat myself).

 

Dawkins teaches at Oxford University, but so does John C. Lennox. Alas, the bookstore had no interest in Lennox, only Dawkins! It wanted nothing to do with Lennox’s scientific observation that “the fossil record gives no good examples of macroevolution.” (Lennox, p. 110)  Also not to be found was Berlinski’s The Devil’s Delusion, “the definitive book of the new millennium,” according to George Gilder. And although there wasn’t time to check over every book in that bookstore I seriously doubt one would find Stephen Hawking’s scientific deduction that “it would be very difficult to explain why the universe should have begun in just this way, except as the act of a God who intended to created beings like us.” 

 

            The evidence clearly shows that many of our institutions of higher leaning are cesspools of atheism and hotbeds of radicalism, including sexual radicalism. It’s as though we’re reliving the pre-French and pre-Bolshevik revolutionary eras.

 

            Prior to the French Revolution, atheism was rampant throughout the nation along with the sexual radicalism of the Marquis de Sade, Mirabeau, Jean-Paul Marat and the Jacobins, Robespierre, etc.

 

            The same was true during the years preceding the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Communism was founded on the atheism and socialism of Marx and Lenin with Darwin’s evolutionary theory thrown in for spice. Remember that it was Marx who wrote Engels saying, “During . . . the past four weeks I have read . . . Darwin’s work on Natural Selection . . . this is the book which contains the basis in natural science for our view.”

 

            Now we are being assaulted with what is sometimes labeled “New Atheism.”  Paul Kurtz’s Center for Inquiry, for example, is conducting a summer institute for young atheists entitled “The Journey From Religion to Science.”  One of their course descriptions reads, “Contemporary issues in secular studies; multisecularism, desecularization and the ‘new atheism.’”


The rest is here....

Monday, May 12, 2008

How's Your Spiritual Pitch Recognition?

Lately I've been looking around for my tuning fork. I used to carry one a number of years ago. It was for the pitch of "A". 

I didn't carry it because I'm a musical sort (although I am a 'musical sort'. . . I enjoy playing trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn and even a marching French horn that I was fortunate enough to get on ebay a year ago or so). I carry it as a reminder. 

See, it served to be a reminder to me that there are absolutes. After my conversion I was, for some time, struggling with a certain amount of spiritual and intellectual confusion. And working in "the real world" had its own challenges which at the time seemed daunting. So, I carried a tuning fork. Every once in a while I'd pull it out of my pocket and tap it on something to remind myself that there really is an absolute, that God had helped me come to understand at least some of them, and that they didn't change regardless of my circumstances.

It was  a reminder to me. No, not so much that "A = 440", but that just as "A = 440", God's Word is the Truth. That what God has to say is authoritative. 

No orchestra would be able to produce a proper performance if each musician decided to decide that "A" was some arbitrary pitch. A = 440! There would be no meaningful harmony. There would be no tonal center. 

Lately, I've been upgrading what I refer to as my recording studio. It's nothing big, but it does what it is supposed to do. And I've been investing some time in practicing tonal recognition. You know, where someone plays a note on a keyboard and you can say "That's an A4" or "that's a low concert C". I've got a long way to go. Hopefully, some day I'll be able to tell someone what note they are humming while they look at the lima beans at the local grocery store. 

Kind of sad -- while I was in college getting my bachelor's in Computer Science, I took three courses in music. . .one in Music Theory. But I still have a problem reading music. Hopefully that will change.

Jesus said that His sheep know Him and follow Him. From John 10:

"27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand."

He also said in John 16 that the Spirit of Truth (the Holy Spirit) will lead those who are regenerate to the truth. 

"13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority. . ."

Those are related verses. We follow Him by discerning and obeying the truth. 

How's your spiritual tonal recognition?

Lately I've become aware of so many who have demonstrated a problem with their "spiritual tonal recognition." People saying one thing and tolerating another. Pastors discovered to be in decade-long affairs. Others (some who call themselves pastors) who preach against various sins to others while they allow and even excuse the same patterns in their own lives and families. And, of course, that is disappointing. But this stuff is way beyond the pale of what I'm referencing. In this post, I'm talking about the subtleties of the human heart.

See, as I work on my musical tonal recognition I find myself driven to work on my spiritual "tonal recognition". What is it in my own spiritual life that is contrary to God's standard. In what way am I trying to tell the Lord that I've decided that "A = 335" and not 440?

It's a challenge. 

Jesus said in Matthew 7 that there will be many who cry out "Lord, Lord. . ." but will find that they were not truly converted. What was the evidence? A lack of obedience which betrayed them as false converts. 

. . .and it all starts with what is in our heart. What we allow, or deny. Do we really, really in our heart of hearts believe that Christ is Lord of all? If so, our lives will show it. And it is an ongoing decision, even moment by moment. 

Regardless of what our lips say, if we tolerate deviations from what we know to be the truth, then we are denying the truth at that very point. There is no wiggle room from this, and that is as God intended it. Jesus did say that "the way is narrow", not just the gate.

We defect. By little bits at first. But we defect. It's part of living. It's all part of the testing. "What will we decide when this or that happens". 

Years ago, someone said something that we all could do well to tuck away in our hearts. To quote, "The words 'No' and 'Lord' are mutually exclusive". And the false converts in Matthew 7 found that out. If you say "No" to what God says, you are saying He is not your Lord, for Lordship involves masterhood. 

We all must, as Paul said in 2 Corinthians, examine ourselves to see if we are really in the faith. One local pastor said that we do that at communion time. Well, that may be true but it had better be more often than that. 

Where is the line between "self examination" and "morbid introspection"? I'm not sure. I'm still working on that one. But I'd rather over-examine myself than treat my "test results" as if they were blow-off quizzes. 

So, once in a while and hopefully more often than not, periodically pull out your spiritual tuning fork and see if your tonal recognition is working. If it isn't, shouldn't that be an alarm you hear?






Sunday, May 11, 2008

You Won't Reach It On Tiptoe:
Oswald Chambers

"Add to your brotherliness . . . love." 2 Peter 1:7

Love is indefinite to most of us, we do not know what we mean when we talk about love. Love is the sovereign preference of one person for another, and spiritually Jesus demands that that preference be for Himself (cf. Luke 14:26). When the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, Jesus Christ is easily first; then we must practise the working out of these things mentioned by Peter.

The first thing God does is to knock pretence and the pious pose right out of me. The Holy Spirit reveals that God loved me not because I was lovable, but because it was His nature to do so. Now, He says to me, show the same love to others - "Love as I have loved you." "I will bring any number of people about you whom you cannot respect, and you must exhibit My love to them as I have exhibited it to you." You won't reach it on tiptoe. Some of us have tried to, but we were soon tired.

"The Lord suffereth long. . . ." Let me look within and see His dealings with me. The knowledge that God has loved me to the uttermost, to the end of all my sin and meanness and selfishness and wrong, will send me forth into the world to love in the same way. God's love to me is inexhaustible, and I must love others from the bedrock of God's love to me. Growth in grace stops the moment I get huffed. I get huffed because I have a peculiar person to live with. Just think how disagreeable I have been to God! Am I prepared to be so identified with the Lord Jesus that His life and His sweetness are being poured out all the time? Neither natural love nor Divine love will remain unless it is cultivated. Love is spontaneous, but it has to be maintained by discipline.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Humor Day


Yeah, it's been a while. But here's another one!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

What Are You Crying About?

Reading the Psalms is one of the things I tend to do on a daily basis. Recently, in reading Psalm 29 (which has become one of those "I know this already" things), I was drawn to verse 9. Following is Psalm 9 from the NASB:

Psa 29:1
"Ascribe to the LORD, O sons of the mighty, Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Psa 29:2
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to His name; Worship the LORD in holy array.
Psa 29:3
The voice of the LORD is upon the waters; The God of glory thunders, The LORD is over many waters.
Psa 29:4
The voice of the LORD is powerful, The voice of the LORD is majestic.
Psa 29:5
The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; Yes, the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
Psa 29:6
He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, And Sirion like a young wild ox.
Psa 29:7
The voice of the LORD hews out flames of fire.
Psa 29:8
The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; The LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
Psa 29:9
The voice of the LORD makes the deer to calve And strips the forests bare; And in His temple everything says, "Glory!"
Psa 29:10
The LORD sat {as King} at the flood; Yes, the LORD sits as King forever.
Psa 29:11
The LORD will give strength to His people; The LORD will bless His people with peace."


Again, my focus was on verse 9, particularly the phrase 'And in His temple, everyting says, "Glory!" '

How often do we read this and think of it as something happening somewhere distant (which it is) but yet don't realize how relevant it should be to each and every one of us who names the name of Jesus Christ?

Paul has told us to examine ourselves (2 Corinthians) to see if we are really in the faith.

You may say "Ok, so what?". Well, if you are a true believer in Christ, Paul says you are a temple. He wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:19 (an often abused verse by the legalists to justify their list of taboos) that sexual sin is a sin against the "temple", which is the believer's body. In saying this, he is telling us about what it means to be a "temple" in the negative sense. . .specifically fleeing sexual immorality. But there is a positive side to it, and I think we see a hint of this in Psalm 19.

This Psalm has been a focus for me over the past two days. What is it that is crying from the inside of this "temple" that God has transformed me into? Is it crying for everything to be about God's Glory? See, when a person is transformed, there is new life. And if there is new life, there will be a new cry. And that new cry, which has been placed there by God, will be about the Glory of God. Not self, not anything else. But the Glory of God.

What thoughts, words and deeds conform (or don't conform) to this standard? Anything that falls short of this standard is sin and calls for a "cleansing of the temple". It is time to drive out the "moneychangers" in our thoughts, words and actions that betray unbelief.

Paul, in correcting the Corinthian error in the area of food and drink, said this:

1Cr 10:31
"Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."


Whatever we do. Whatever!

What of your thought life? Again, hear Paul:

2Cr 10:5
"{We are} destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and {we are} taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,
2Cr 10:6
and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.
2Cr 10:7
You are looking at things as they are outwardly. If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ's, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ's, so also are we."
(emphasis mine).

Did you catch that? "Let us consider this again. . ." within ourselves. It's an inside job.

So, what is going on in your heart? What are your thoughts focused on? Why do you do what you do? Is it for your own glory? Why do you say what you say? To impress others? Or to to bring Glory to God?

What of your attitudes? Be brutal with yourself and ask something like "What is it in my life, in thought, word or deed that doesn't glorify God that I'm holding on to like the rich man who walked away from Jesus?".

The rich man in Matthew 19 worshipped the idol of his posessions. But idols don't have to be material things. They can be attitudes, thoughts and actions. Anything that robs God of his Glory. What thoughts and attitudes do we need to give up, so God can be glorified when we have a change of heart? Is the false image you worship an "image" of yourself that you wish others to believe? That is a lie and is idolatry. Self worship.

Yet everything in God's Temple is to make a proclamation, which is "Glory". Glory to God, not glory to self. Every thought should be "sniffed". Every motive should be examined. Thoughts and motives turn into actions. And what comes out of the heart shows you what is there.

Let everything in the Temple (yours and mine) say "Glory".