Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
J.I. Packer, Knowing God Pg.201
I think we could conclude from this statement that there are very many Christians who don't understand Christianity very well at all. There are also many religious people, some who attend churches that don't understand Christianity at all.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your own ambitions and favorite wishes every day and the death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fiber of your being, and you will find eternal life.
Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead.
Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.
Crossway has put out a wonderful, small book for Advent called Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas
Here's an excerpt from Tim Keller's chapter, "The Gift of Christmas"...
When September 11th happened and New Yorkers started to suffer, you heard two voices. You heard the conventional moralistic voices saying, "When I see you suffer, it tells me about a judging God. You must not be living right, and so God is judging you." When they see suffering they see a judgmental God.
The secular voice said, "When I see people suffering, I see God is missing." When they see suffering they see an absent, indifferent God.
But when we see Jesus Christ dying on the cross through an act of violence and injustice, what kind of God do we see then? A condemning God? No, we see a God of love paying for sin. Do we see a missing God? Absolutely not! We see a God who is not remote but involved.
We sometimes wonder why God doesn't just end suffering. But we know that whatever the reason, it isn't one of indifference or remoteness. God so hates suffering and evil that he was willing to come into it and become enmeshed in it.
My wife and I saw the movie Australia tonight and really enjoyed it. Following is a review from Christianity Today:
Early in Baz Luhrmann's Australia, one of the main characters says of his country: "this land has a strange power." And indeed, if one surveys the landscape of films about Australia, many of them (The Last Wave, Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Proposition) seem to express this sentiment: Australia is a nation of strange, captivating, haunting power. In his epic film about his native country, Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!) affirms and exaggerates this Australian mythos, to spectacular effect. Indeed, his impressively rendered film has a "strange power" of its own.
This is a film of great ambition and artistic audacity. That the title is simply Australia tips us off to the intentions of Luhrmann: not necessarily to make the definitive film about the complicated country/continent, but to provide an over-the-top, grandiose, slightly-irreverent-but-ultimately-sincere explosion of cinema that hearkens back to the golden age of Hollywood epics.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Most of us know the story of the first Thanksgiving—at least, we know the Pilgrim version. But how many of us know the Indian viewpoint?Read the whole thing.
No, I’m not talking about some revisionist, politically correct version of history. I’m talking about the amazing story of the way God used an Indian named Squanto as a special instrument of His providence.
Here's the conclusion:
Squanto’s life story is remarkable, and we ought to make sure our children and grandchildren learn about it. Sadly, most books about Squanto omit references to his Christian faith. But I’m delighted to say that Eric Metaxas has written a wonderful children’s book called Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving. I highly recommend it. It will teach your kids about the “special instrument sent of God” who changed the course of American history.
Confession Of Belgia.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Notice the draining effects of depression. These words are so expressive that everyone can identify with them. (TEV is Todays English Version)
1. You have no hope—“My days vanish like smoke”; “Are consumed like smoke” (v.3) Your days are like being engulfed in smoke, you can't see anything clearly.
2. You feel physical pain—“My bones burn”; “My bones are burned like a hearth”; “My body is burning like fire” (TEV) (v.3) You experience aches and pains but your not physically sick.
3. You feel emotional pain—“My heart is blighted”; “My heart has been smitten”; “My heart is stricken”; I am beaten down like dry grass” (TEV) (v.4) Dry grass has no strength it doesn't bounce back it just lays down. Your emotions are rung out like a dish cloth you just don't have the strength to respond.
4. You lose your appetite—“I forget to eat my bread”; “I have lost my desire for food” (TEV) (v.4) You don't even think about eating it has no appeal to you.
5. Isolation and loneliness—“Like a desert owl”; “I am like a wild bird in the desert” (TEV) (v.6) You feel all alone even if your not. You dont feel connected with anybody the longer the depression the more withdrawn you get.
6. Sleeplessness—“I lie awake”; “I am like a lonely bird on a housetop” (TEV) (v.7) You experience a restlessness you toss and turn but cant fall into a deep sleep.
7. Mental attack and alienation—“My enemies taunt me”; “All day long my enemies insult me” (TEV) (v.8) Your mind wanders and you start to believe that every one is against you. You take everything said to you personally and lash out at others.
8. Sorrow—“I eat ashes like bread”; “Mingle my drink with tears”; “Ashes are my food” (TEV); “My tears are mixed with my drink” (TEV) (v.9) A sorrow comes over you and you may start to cry at any moment not even knowing why your crying.
9. Abandonment—“You have taken me up and thrown me aside”; “You picked me up and threw me away” (TEV) (v.10) You feel that everyone has abandoned you including God.
10. Meaninglessness—“I wither away like grass”; “My life is like the evening shadow” (TEV) (v.11) Nothing makes sense you get up every day and go through the motions but it doesnt mean anything.
Depression is not pleasant to deal with. It suffocates you even if its for a day. The first sign of health is when we are willing to admit our inner gloom. You have to face your emotions, admit them and talk to them, “Why are you downcast o’ my soul?” “Put your hope in God” (Psa.42:5). You have to speak to youself and remind yourself who God is and choose to trust him.
One of the more frequently heard objections to unconditional election is that it impugns God’s justice. God is unfair and unjust, says the Arminian, if he treats people differently or bestows on some a favor that he withholds from others.
But this is surely a strange way of defining justice. Justice is that principle in virtue of which a person is given his due. To withhold from a person what he deserves or what the law demands that he receive is to act unjustly. How, then, can it be unjust to withhold from a person what he does not deserve? If you are in my debt and I demand payment, I can hardly be said to have acted unjustly. Similarly, should you not pay me, as you are obligated by law, it is justice that demands that you suffer the consequences.
All humanity stands infinitely indebted to God, rightly condemned to suffer the penal consequences that our sin deserves. No man can rightfully claim to deserve mercy or divine clemency, for “there is none who does good, there is not even one” (Rom. 3:12b). The verdict of Holy Scripture is “guilty as charged,” with no grounds for a new trial or for appeal.
No legitimate indictment may be brought against the bench should “His Honor” immediately consign the whole of Adam’s race to eternal death. There is justifiable recourse for the defendants neither in the law nor in themselves. No technicality in the procedural development of the trial nor character witness on behalf of the accursed can be claimed. Unlike earthly judges who may be baffled by quick-witted lawyers or bribed by unscrupulous partisans, God weighs all the evidence and judges with absolute impartiality. The verdict is the same for all: Guilty! The punishment is the same for all: Eternal Death!
To read the rest of this article by Sam Storms Click Here
Monday, November 24, 2008
"Hear my prayer O Lord; let my cry for help come to you. Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly." Psalm 102:1-2 NIV
No one is always on top. I don’t trust people who claim to never get down.One of the unrealities that invades our Christianity is that we minimize our humanity. We believe (or are taught) that once saved everything will be great. Nothing should ever disappoint or discourage a faith-filled Christian. What a load of crap! Many of the great people in the bible like Abraham, Moses and Paul walked through the dark times of the soul and spoke openly about their fears and discouragements. Some of the church’s great leaders men like Martin Luther and Charles Spurgeon and certain hymn writers, were men who loved God but who cried out from the pits of discouragement. These were mighty men of faith who refused to hide or camouflage their complaint. That’s what the Psalmist is doing here.
This Psalm was authored by the Holy Spirit—it’s a prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed and pours out his complaint before the Lord. God wants us to know about this spiritual man’s “down time.” (See the introduction to the Psalm). Are you ever afflicted or overwhelmed?
Leaders are particularly prone to pretend that everything is all right when it is not. I’ve know many people who can’t admit what’s wrong in their life. They thought that to admit they had problems was a sign of weakness and I know a few that died as a result. “Faking it” becomes a way of life, if it hurts we hide it. This is encouraged by the church today, church leaders can’t mess up they have to be perfect and have perfect families, this is unreal. If something disappoints us we deny it. If something discourages us we tend to ignore it. This kind of unreality is a breeding ground for problems. Psalm 102 never indicates that the feelings of depression are sin. The psalmist is not ashamed to express his discouragement before God and men. One gets the impression that God welcomes the honest complaint. He listens to it.
Everybody gets depressed, everybody has down days or seasons no one is immune. It happens regardless of how spiritually mature someone is.
The Arminians say, 'Christ died for all men.' Ask them what they mean by it. Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of all men? They say, 'No, certainly not.' We ask them the next question: Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of any man in particular? They answer 'No.' They are obliged to admit this, if they are consistent. They say, 'No; Christ has died that any man may be saved if ?' and then follow certain conditions of salvation. Now, who is it that limits the death of Christ? Why, you. You say that Christ did not die so as infallibly to secure the salvation of anybody. We beg your pardon, when you say we limit Christ's death; we say, 'No, my dear sir, it is you that do it.' We say Christ so died that he infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ's death not only may be saved, but are saved, must be saved and cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved. You are welcome to your atonement; you may keep it. We will never renounce ours for the sake of it.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Do these things characterize your life?
1. Are you burdened with your sin, recognizing it as an exceedingly bitter thing?
2. Do you run from your sin as you would a deadly serpent?
3. Do you recognize and flee from the insufficiency of your own righteousness in the sight of God.
4. Do you cry to the Lord Jesus to save you?
5. Do you see more worth and merit in one drop of Christ's blood to save you, than in all the sins of the world to condemn you?
6. Are you tender of sinning against Jesus?
7. Is Jesus' name, person, and undertakings more precious to you than the glory of the world?
8. Is faith in Christ precious to you (as a means to connect you to Christ)?
9. Do you savor Christ in his Word, and do you leave all the world for his sake?
10. Are you willing (with God's help) to run in harm's way for his name?
11. Are his saints precious to you?
Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ, Works, p. 279. by John Bunyan
Friday, November 21, 2008
"O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out"
"Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9); but the Lord does not save all. Why not? He does save some; then if He saves some, why not others? Is it because they are too sinful and depraved? No; for the apostle wrote, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom 1 am chief" (1 Tim. 1:15). Therefore, if God saved the "chief" of sinners, none are excluded because of their depravity. Why then does not God save all? Is it because some are too stony-hearted to be won? No; because of the most stony-hearted people of all it is written, that God will yet "take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh" (Ezek. 11:19). Then is it because some are so stubborn, so intractable, so defiant that God is unable to woo them to Himself? Before we answer this question let us ask another; let us appeal to the experience of the Christian reader.Friend; was there not a time when you walked in the counsel of the ungodly, stood in the way of sinners, sat in the seat of the scorners, and with them said, "We will not have this Man to reign over us" (Luke 19:14)? Was there not a time when you "would not come to Christ that you might have life" (John 5:40)? Yea, was there not a time when you mingled your voice with those who said unto God, "Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of Thy ways. What is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto Him?" (Job 21:14, 15)? With shamed face you have to acknowledge there was. But how is it that all is now changed? What was it that brought you from haughty self-sufficiency to a humble suppliant, from one that was at enmity with God to one that is at peace with Him, from lawlessness to subjection, from hate to love? And, as one ‘born of the Spirit,’ you will readily reply, "By the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). Then do you not see that it is due to no lack of power in God, nor to His refusal to coerce man, that other rebels are not saved too? If God was able to subdue your will and win your heart, and that without interfering with your moral responsibility, then is He not able to do the same for others? Assuredly He is. Then how inconsistent, how illogical, how foolish of you, in seeking to account for the present course of the wicked and their ultimate fate, to argue that God is unable to save them, that they will not let Him. Do you say, "But the time came when I was willing, willing to receive Christ as my Saviour"? True, but it was the Lord who made you willing (Ps. 110:3; Phil. 2:13) why then does He not make all sinners willing? Why, but for the fact that He is sovereign and does as He pleases! A.W. Pink
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Depression revolves around four core symptoms:
1. A gloomy mood— where you feel very sad or dejected, hopeless, melancholy or sullen, this has to do with our emotions.
2. Pessimism—this is where we are expecting the worst outcome in any circumstance; the practice of looking on the dark side of things. The root of this has to do with the lies you tell yourself, this can come from not knowing the truth or knowing it but not believing the truth.
3. Self criticism—is the act of finding fault, or disapproval, emphasizing your faults or short comings. The lies you tell yourself resulting in self condemnation.
4. Delay or confusion has to do with circumstances when things don't happen as soon as we think they will.
Depression encourages us to withdraw from things, activities and people. When the depression is severe enough it encourages us to withdraw from life itself, in extreme case's it can result in suicide. Depression is a shroud that covers the soul. To the depressed no one seems enticing; nothing seems exciting, even God seems to be distant. To the depressed God may be in the heavens but His presence is no longer felt. Worship feels like a mockery, praise feels like hypocrisy, relationships feel empty and nothing satisfies. Like a weather front, depression can be both minor and major. A minor depression is a partly cloudy or rainy day. A major depression is a cloudy or rainy, stormy weather that lasts and lasts (like winter in Michigan) where there is no sun for days.
Depression usually revolves around a sense of loss. We may feel insignificant which is a loss of worth. We may feel insecure which is a loss of confidence. We may feel blah which is a loss of satisfaction. We may feel anxious which is a loss of peace. Or we feel empty which is a loss of hope, you feel like you've lost something. Depression spreads through the human soul like a thick fog. The fog slips under the door of the soul and in moments it blankets the entire room. We are going to look at seven things in Psalm 102 that will help you overcome the blues from a biblical perspective.
“Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit.”- 1 Thessalonians 1: 4- 6.
At the very announcement of the text some will be ready to say, “Why preach upon so profound a doctrine as election?” I answer, because it is in God’s word, and whatever is in the Word of God is to be preached. But you will say, “But some truths ought to be kept back from the people, lest they would make improper use of it.” That is Roman Catholic doctrine, it was on that very theory that the priests kept the Bible from the people, they did not give it to them lest they should misuse it. “But aren’t some doctrines dangerous?” Not if they are true and correctly handled. Truth is never dangerous, it is error and silence that are filled with peril. “But don’t men abuse the doctrine of grace?” I grant you that they do; but if we destroyed everything that men misuse, we would have nothing left. Are there to be no ropes because some fools will hang themselves? Likewise, must all knives be discarded and denounced, because there are some who will use dangerous weapons for the destruction of their adversaries? Certainly not. Besides all this, remember that men do read the Scriptures and think about these doctrines, and therefore often make mistakes about them; who then will set them right if we, who preach the Word, hold our tongues about the matter?
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The Fact - You are the light
Light's Influence - The World
The Three Fold Application of light:
Lights Position - on a hill or lampstand
Light's Nature - its a guide, it exposes
Light's Purpose - to reveal God
The Decision - let your light shine and lastly:
The Motive of Shining: “To glorify your Father in heaven”
The psalmist wrote, “Not to us o’ Lord not to us but to Your name be glory” (Psalm 115:1). We can have no higher motive than this. We are do everything for God's glory. God alone deserves glory so in order to live as a light the result of your shining must give glory to God.
I must guard my life against anything that would oppose and cut off the shining. I must shine for my heavenly Father’s praise and glory. This is what it means to bear much fruit. Jesus said "The only way in which you can bring glory to my Father is to bear much fruit, and to show yourselves to be my disciples." (John 15:8 Barclay).
Heaven is a real literal place and God is a real person. The Greek literally reads “The Father of you, the one in the heavens”. This is the Father of all who are His true children. Following is a prayer you can use to help you apply this teaching:
“Heavenly Father, give me the grace I need that will enable me to occupy my place in this world as salt and light, during these days of corruption and darkness. Keep me faithful, guard my life against all that would cause the salt to lose its flavor and all that would hinder the light from shining — so that my life give's praise, honor and glory to you, whose I am, whom I love and whom I serve, In Jesus name, Amen!
John Calvin - God's Providence Institutes (1:16)
You know what Luther said the little bird said to him.
He sat upon the spray of the tree, and he sang-
"Mortal, cease from toil and sorrow;
God provideth for the morrow."
And it chirped and picked up its little grain, and sang again.
And yet it had no granary; it had not a handful of wheat
stored up anywhere; but it still kept on with its chirping-
"Mortal, cease from toil and sorrow;
God provideth for the morrow."
The most detailed and fascinating explication of Barack Obama's faith came in a 2004 interview he gave Chicago Sun Times columnist Cathleen Falsani when he was running for U.S. Senate in Illinois. The column she wrote about the interview has been quoted and misquoted many times over, but she'd never before published the full transcript in a major publication.Read the whole thing.
Because of how controversial that interview became, Falsani has graciously allowed us to print the full conversation here.
Some reactions (click their names to read more of their thoughts):
. . . from a political point of view, whether the President is a Christian, Jew, Muslim, whatever, should make no difference. But I believe it is useful to have an idea of what theological commitments we might have in common. And after reading this interview, I would say that Obama and I share very few beliefs. . . . In fact, nowhere in the interview did I ever get the impression that Obama subscribes to even the most basic beliefs that are typically associated with being a Christian.Rod Dreher:
Unless Obama was being incredibly and uncharacteristically inarticulate, this is heterodox. You cannot be a Christian in any meaningful sense and deny the divinity of Jesus Christ. You just can't. . . . People think you can make this stuff up as you go along, and that nobody has the right to define authoritatively what any of it means. It's the Church of Christianity without Christ. It's Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, so let's call it what it is -- but not what it is not, which is Christianity.Daniel Larison:
Ultimately, the inquiry into Obama’s faith does not tell us much that we didn’t already know, which is that he is a liberal Protestant with an accordingly poor grounding in theological orthodoxy. I have to wonder how much power this critique has unless it is made as part of a general argument for theological conservatism in public life. Would cultural conservatives be open to this kind of critique when it is one of theirs being criticized, or would they repeat the arguments marshalled in defense of Romney?Ross Douthat:
Given the muddled way in which most Americans approach religion, and the pervasiveness of heterodoxy, I suppose I'm basically with Alan Jacobs: I think that figuring out exactly what sort of things Obama believes about God and Christ and everything else, and how those beliefs may affect his Presidency, is ultimately a more profitable pursuit than arguing about whether he should be allowed to call himself a Christian. Or put another way: I expect my Presidents to be heretics, but I think it matters a great deal what kind of heretics they are.posted by JT at Tuesday, November 18, 2008 7 comments links to this post
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The light we have been lighted with is real — it does shine and will keep on shining if we don’t cover it. Literally “You must let your light shine”. Every Christian is a light (lamp). There are four things necessary in order for a lamp (Christian) to give light.
1. First the lamp must be lighted and only God can light you. The light does not originate within us because salvation is by grace alone. God saves us and places the light of His life inside us when we are born again.
2. Secondly it must be set to shine for a useful purpose, it cannot be hidden. In the same way God sets every member in the body as it pleases Him so that every member has a purpose. Every member is called and gifted and is to use their gifts for God' glory, we are "created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared for us to do" (Ephesians 2:10).
3. Third the lamp must be fed with the proper oil which is the Holy Spirit. The oil of self won’t work. Every Christian must recognize the need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit.
4. The wick must be trimmed in order for the flame to burn its brightest. This includes cutting off anything that would hinder the brightness of the flame. In order for believers to bear fruit they must be pruned.
The world needs to see our light. “The people which sat in darkness saw a great light” (Matt.4:16).
"They whom God hath accepted in His Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by His Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace: but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved."
Boettner is certainly correct in asserting that this doctrine does not stand alone but is a necessary part of the Calvinistic system of theology. The doctrines of Election and Efficacious Grace logically imply the certain salvation of those who receive these blessings. If God has chosen men absolutely and unconditionally to eternal life, and if His Spirit effectively applies to them the benefits of redemption, the inescapable conclusion is that these persons shall be saved. The following verses show that God's people are given eternal life the moment they believe. they are kept by God's power through faith and nothing can separate them from His love. They have been sealed with the Holy Spirit who has been given as the guarantee of their salvation, and they are thus assured of an eternal inheritance.
David Steele & Curtis C Thomas from The Five Points of Calvinism (pg. 56)
Monday, November 17, 2008
We looked at light's position and light's nature today we look at:
Light’s purpose — “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven” (v.16).
The purpose of being light is to shine before men, the objects of shining. The only purpose of lighting a lamp is in order to give light to all in the house. We are to shine in the world of men, human beings just like us who need the redemption Jesus provided. We cannot force them to believe but we want them to see something in us.
Light gives direction, like a airport beacon guide planes, light does not shine for itself but for others. The light is not to spotlight self but to show others the way. Our goal is that people will see God, that they will see our heavenly father, and glorify Him.
Men should see your good works. In the Greek there are two words for good: 1) “agathos” — which defines a thing as good in quality. 2) “Kalos” — used here and means that something is not only good but beautiful and attractive. There is to be something attractive about the good works we do. I believe its not just the attractiveness of the works but the spiritual attractiveness of the person doing the works.
Light can also be used to warn, like a lighthouse warns ships of the danger of hidden rocks and helps them avoid shipwreck, believers are to warn unbelievers about the danger of sin. The light can't stop people from doing things that are harmful to them but it can expose the lies and darkness behind what there doing. We are not to shine in a controlling and condemning way but we are to expose the hidden works of darkness.
There is nothing so useless in God’s universe as a formal Christian who has the name but not the life. Some people know just enough about Christianity to spoil everything else but not enough to be of any positive value. People like this don’t think of themselves as worldly or heathen but never really enter into the life of the church. To their amazement, they will eventually find themselves shut outside the door. History proves this out. There are places where there were once strong churches and they are there no more. Jesus warned of this in Revelations 2 & 3. A hidden light is a useless light. If we hide our light because we’re afraid of offending others or because we’re indifferent and lacking in love or for any other reason, we are being unfaithful to the Lord.
And feelings are deceiving
My warrent is the Word of God
Naught else is worth believing
Through all of my heart should feel condemned
For want of some sweet token
There is one greater than my heart
Whose word cannot be broken
I'll trust in God's unchanging Word
Till soul and body sever
For through all things shall pass away
His Word shall stand forever
By Thomas K. Ascol, To read the whole article CLICK HERE
Sunday, November 16, 2008
says the Teacher.
Everything is meaningless." Ecclesiastes 1:1
These are the words of a Lions fan. The teacher went on to say, "generations come and generations go" how did he know about the Detroit Lions? "What has been will be again, what has been done will be again." Its like this every Sunday, what has been done, bad play, bad coaching, bad ownership, will be again. The next Sunday it happens all over again, "there is nothing new" absolutely true! "It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time". What hope can young fans have? I started attending lions games in the 50's when they were still winning championships but they have only won 1 playoff game in over 50 years. All I can say is thank God for the Red Wings and the Pistons!
Saturday, November 15, 2008
"So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life" Psalm 63:2-3.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Light’s position — The light is placed on top of a hill or on a lampstand for all to see. The primary duty of the light was to be seen. The world has to know who we are, what we are, and where we are. A city on a hill can’t be hid. If we are really Christians, we cannot stay hidden because there is no such thing as secret discipleship. Your Christianity should be visible to all. It must be seen in the factory, in the office, in school, in the kitchen, at restaurants, in our language, in our behavior, in our relationships.
You don’t light a candle and put it under a bushel, because this renders it useless. Uselessness invites disaster. Let me ask you, "are you deliberately concealing your light?" The light of many Christians is visible only in the church. Jesus didn’t say “you are the light of the church”, He said, “you are the light of the world”. Don’t hide your light under a bushel, the bushel can be fear, compromise, unconcern, or rebellion. The devil will always push you to hide your light under a bushel.
Light’s nature — A light is a guide, it makes the way clear.
Light always dispels darkness, “Then God said, let there be light and there was light and God saw the light that is was good and God divided the light from the darkness” (Gen.1:4-5). But darkness can never, never dispel light. “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John1:5). Light exposes, it reveals the way things really are. “This is the condemnation that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil” (John3:19). Only light can explain the darkness, the darkness can never explain the light. Light is pure and life giving while darkness represents oppression and death.
We have a responsibility to let the light of love, healing and freedom penetrate the darkness. Christians must make the way clear to others by sending out a clear strong beam of light.
Sometimes a light can be used as a warning light that tells of danger ahead. Sometimes it’s our responsibility to warn others of the danger's ahead.
This story has been passed onto me second- or third- or possibly fifth-hand. Who knows how accurate the details are, or whether the words were spoken exactly in this way? But from my knowledge of the man in question, it is entirely believable. In fact, if it isn't true, it's the kind of story that would almost be necessary to invent.
An eminent and well-known English preacher was approached by a congregation member who complained about some aspect of church life. It may have been that he didn't feel welcomed, or that he was finding it hard to make friends and fit in; it could have been that he was finding the service dissatisfying or the preaching too long; it could have been that the music was not to his taste or that his family was not being catered for to his satisfaction. The details of the complaint have been lost in the telling and re-telling of the story.
The preacher listened to the complaint, paused, and then replied with five words that cut straight to the heart of not only the man's problem, but the problem with all grumbling and complaining in church. He simply said, “It's not about you, stupid!” and walked off.
It was a stunningly rude response—the kind that this preacher seemed uniquely capable of getting away with in his very English way. But doesn't it exactly express what is wrong with grumbling and complaining in church?
It really is the height of idiocy to think that church is about me and my needs and my family and my satisfaction. It completely overturns the teaching of the Bible—that church is about God and Christ and loving other people. In fact, if we wanted to summarize Paul's rebuke to the dysfunctional Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 11-14, a pretty reasonable slogan would be “It's not about you, stupid!”.
So the next time you're feeling grumpy about church, and are complaining that this or that aspect leaves you cold, remind yourself of the five-word answer to grumbling. And if you're really game, when someone starts grumbling to you about how they don't like the music or how they're sick of the preacher's jokes, just give them a slightly incredulous look, shake your head, and say, “It's not about you, stupid!”.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
The whole world is in darkness and wickedness. “We know we’re God’s children and the whole world is in the power of the evil one” (1John5:19 Beck). It's a dark world in spite of the fact it claims to be “enlightened”. Intellectual darkness pervades our educational systems, the entertainment industry, the wealthy intellectual elite because God is not in their thinking. “Because although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God. Nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise they became fools” (Rom.1:21-22).
The “light” man thinks he has, is darkness. “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, they whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, they whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matt.6:22-23). Darkness and decay go together. Because there is political darkness -“we will not have this man rule over us”- the government is in decay. Because of spiritual darkness there are many cults and false religions, even churches are decaying. Because of moral darkness, the quality of human life has decayed.
The world is in darkness and no one but Christians can give any real knowledge or insight, the Apostle Paul said,"Do everything without grumbling and without arguing, and then no one will be able to question your morals or your sincerity, and you will be faultless children of God, although you live in an age in which life is twisted and perverted. Even in an age like that you must shine like stars in the world" Philippians 2:14-16 Barclay's. This bold statement upsets intellectuals and the religious. We cannot retreat from a dark world and go into spiritual isolation. Light’s influence is three fold:
1. It shines in the world and is seen by all.
2. It shines in the city on a hill and is seen by the surrounding area.
3. It shines like a lamp on a lampstand and is seen by the family. Your influence must start at home to be effective in the city and then the world.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
God is light. “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all”. “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness we lie and do not practice the truth” (1John1:5-6).
Jesus is the light of the world, and the giver of light. “I am the light of the world, He said. To follow me is to walk not in the dark but to be in possession of the light of life” (John8:12 Barclay).
At salvation, darkness becomes light, we were transferred out of the kingdom of darkness and placed into the kingdom of light. A Christian is now a light in a dark world. “For at one time you were darkness itself but now in union with the Lord you are light itself. You must live like children of light” (Ephesians 5:8 Williams). Jesus is like the sun and the moon is a picture of the church. The moon shines but not by its own light, it reflects the light of the sun.
The question you have to answer is, "Are you reflecting Christ like a full moon or a quarter moon?". “God who first ordered the light to shine in the darkness has flooded our hearts with His light. We can now enlighten men only because we can give them knowledge of the glory of God as we have seen it in the face of Jesus Christ” (2Cor.4:6). God sheds His light on the world through those who have received His light through Jesus Christ. If you are a Christian you are the light of the world. This is not something you become it's something you are! Are you letting your light shine?
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
"You are the world's light - it is impossible to hide a town built on the top of a hill. Men do not light a lamp and put it under a bucket. They put it on a lamp-stand and it gives light for everybody in the house". (Matthew 5:14 Phillips)
Salt acts secretly. It’s effect not being noticed immediately while light is something that is seen right away and makes immediate changes. Salt is more of the indirect influence of the Gospel while light is the direct influence. You must live as salt to be effective as light. Life comes before lip. Many who talk the Gospel are not doing it when it comes to their lives. Jesus always emphasized what a man is before what he does. Salt is character but light is conduct. Conduct without character is hypocrisy, and character without conduct is disobedience.
Salt counteracts corruption in the earth, while Light shines truth into a darkened world of ignorance and lies. The purpose of Salt is to stop the rotting of the world, while Light's purpose is to reveal the falseness of the world. Darkness breeds confusion because nothing looks right in the dark. You can see shapes but not sizes and appearances. Everything is distorted. “He who walks in darkness does not know where he is going” (John 12:35).
From the book "Getting The Blues" by Stephen J. Nichols
Monday, November 10, 2008
Jesus always spoke with grace on His lips. “And all wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth” (Luke 4:22). In the same way our speech is to “impart grace to the hearers” (Eph.4:29). Don’t dump the contents of the whole salt shaker. Our walk and our talk must be in harmony with each other, you are the salt of the world.
- Anthony Hoekema
Sunday, November 9, 2008
“For everyone will be seasoned with fire and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt.” (Mark 9:49-50)
According to Jewish law, every sacrifice must be salted with salt before it was offered to God on the altar (Lev.2:13). It was the addition of the salt that made the sacrifice acceptable to God. The sacrificial salt was called the salt of the covenant (Numbers 18:19).
This means that before a Christian life becomes acceptable to God, it must be treated with fire just as every sacrifice is treated with salt. Every follower of Christ is to be a willing sacrifice.
This is for two reasons:
First fire purifies— The life acceptable to God is one that has been cleansed and purified by obedience and discipline. Second fire destroys— The life acceptable to God has gone through tests, trials, persecution of life and come through to victory. “Dear friends, don’t be surprised that you’re being tested by a fiery trial as though something strange were happening to you” (1Pet.4:12 Beck).
The life that is purified by obedience and discipline and has faced the danger of persecution, and because of its loyalty is the sacrifice acceptable to God. Bonhoeffer put it this way:
“Suffering then, is the badge of true discipleship. The disciple is not above his master. This is why Luther reckoned suffering among the marks of the true church. Discipleship means allegiance to the suffering of Christ and it is not at all surprising that Christians should be called upon to suffer. In fact it is a joy and a token of His grace” (The Cost of Discipleship, pp.100-101).
Everyone must be salted somehow, either with the fire of hell or the fire of the Holy Spirit.
“Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? (V.50).
The world needs the flavor and purity of the Christians life. If Christians lose the thrill of God’s life, and don’t desire purity where else will the world get its flavor? If we take for granted this miracle of God’s grace it will lead to spiritual decay.
Beware of salt-less salt — the profession that is not real. “Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another”. It’s useless to try and exert influence for good with others, unless by the grace of God you have been transformed into a true disciple of Christ. Keep the seasoning, preserving, purifying fire stirring in you. Be purified from self and you will have peace with others. Only a life cleansed of self and filled with Jesus can live in real fellowship and peace with others.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
What is of special importance to us is what Jesus says about how those whom the Father has given to him come to him and whether or not those who come can ever lose their salvation. It will prove helpful to look at this in terms of three impossibilities.
Adapted from The Council of Orange (529 AD)
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Our commission is to the whole world, the scriptures tell us the disciples went everywhere preaching the word. We have been given the same commission, our influence is to affect the whole earth! We are in the world physically but we are not of the world spiritually. The world is a spiritual graveyard and Christians are the only people who are really alive. Salt makes people thirsty so our life should create a thirst in people to have what we have. Jesus attracted all kinds of people and so should we.
“But if the salt loses its flavor” - this means to become tasteless, to make something flat and tasteless, used of salt that has lost its strength and flavor. A good example is of a Christian who has lost their zeal for God, and whose life is no longer influencing the world. Lot was a person like that, he choose the well watered plains of Sodom and he pitched his tent toward Sodom and eventually ended up moving into Sodom. The world doesn’t understand that it is the presence of God’s people that prevents total collapse and final judgment. Lot’s presence in Sodom made it impossible for God to judge the city, his absence condemned the city. Before God will judge this present world He will call His own out of it.
If salt loses its flavor, how can it receive flavor again? How can it be made salty again? The same is true with Christians. "It is no longer good for anything", Luke 14:35 says "It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill”, Godspeed's translation says, “It is fit neither for the ground nor the manure heap”. It would destroy the effectiveness of fertilization, so the only thing left is to toss it out and walk on it. The principle is that uselessness invites disaster. If a Christian is not fulfilling his purpose as salt he’s on his way to trouble. “It is then good for nothing” but to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
Salt may still look like salt after it loses its effectiveness, the same is true with the church today. “Having a form of godliness but denying it’s power” — “Keeping up the forms of religion but not giving expression to its power, avoid such people”(2Tim.3:5 Williams). There are alot of buildings that look like Churches but are just an empty shell. Just as salt having lost its saltiness cannot be restored so also is it with those who have been trained in the knowledge of the truth but refuse to obey God. God will not be able to use them, they become disqualified and as a result are set on a shelf. “I do not want to preach to others and then to find that I myself have failed to stand the test” (1Cor.9:24-27 Barclay). This scripture has often been used as evidence that Christians can lose their salvation. The scripture teaches that what God starts in a persons life he also finishes (Phil. 1:6) but that doesn't minimize the seriousness of the warning.
For [God] says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. ROMANS 9:15-16
The verb elect means “to select, or choose out.” The biblical doctrine of election is that before Creation God selected out of the human race, foreseen as fallen, those whom he would redeem, bring to faith, justify, and glorify in and through Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:28-39; Eph. 1:3-14; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; 2 Tim. 1:9-10). This divine choice is an expression of free and sovereign grace, for it is unconstrained and unconditional, not merited by anything in those who are its subjects. God owes sinners no mercy of any kind, only condemnation; so it is a wonder, and matter for endless praise, that he should choose to save any of us; and doubly so when his choice involved the giving of his own Son to suffer as sin-bearer for the elect (Rom. 8:32).
The doctrine of election, like every truth about God, involves mystery and sometimes stirs controversy. But in Scripture it is a pastoral doctrine, brought in to help Christians see how great is the grace that saves them, and to move them to humility, confidence, joy, praise, faithfulness, and holiness in response. It is the family secret of the children of God. We do not know who else he has chosen among those who do not yet believe, nor why it was his good pleasure to choose us in particular. What we do know is, first, that had we not been chosen for life we would not be believers now (for only the elect are brought to faith), and, second, that as elect believers we may rely on God to finish in us the good work that he started (1 Cor. 1:8-9; Phil. 1:6; 1 Thess. 5:23-24; 2 Tim. 1:12; 4:18). Knowledge of one’s election thus brings comfort and joy.
Peter tells us we should be “eager to make [our] calling and election sure” (2 Pet. 1:10)—that is, certain to us. Election is known by its fruits. Paul knew the election of the Thessalonians from their faith, hope, and love, the inward and outward transformation of their lives that the gospel had brought about (1 Thess. 1:3-6). The more that the qualities to which Peter has been exhorting his readers appear in our lives (goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, love: 2 Pet. 1:5-7), the surer of our own election we are entitled to be.
The elect are, from one standpoint, the Father’s gift to the Son (John 6:39; 10:29; 17:2, 24). Jesus testifies that he came into this world specifically to save them (John 6:37-40; 10:14-16, 26-29; 15:16; 17:6-26; Eph. 5:25-27), and any account of his mission must emphasize this.
Reprobation is the name given to God’s eternal decision regarding those sinners whom he has not chosen for life. His decision is in essence a decision not to change them, as the elect are destined to be changed, but to leave them to sin as in their hearts they already want to do, and finally to judge them as they deserve for what they have done. When in particular instances God gives them over to their sins (i.e., removes restraints on their doing the disobedient things they desire), this is itself the beginning of judgment. It is called “hardening” (Rom. 9:18; 11:25; cf. Ps. 81:12; Rom. 1:24, 26, 28), and it inevitably leads to greater guilt.
Reprobation is a biblical reality (Rom. 9:14-24; 1 Pet. 2:8), but not one that bears directly on Christian behavior. The reprobates are faceless so far as Christians are concerned, and it is not for us to try to identify them. Rather, we should live in light of the certainty that anyone may be saved if he or she will but repent and put faith in Christ.
We should view all persons that we meet as possibly being numbered among the elect.