Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Here's a great post by Todd Bolen here: http://toddbolen.com/
I recommend this. It's short but it'll determine how good your vision is and the degree of color-blindedness you have.

Click here: http://www.myschool.com/SWF/ColorBlind2.swf
Take note of Eph 4:29 when Paul says, Ephesians 4:29 "29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear." Notice the context in which Paul wrote it as well "30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you" (Eph 4:30-32).

It is so important for us to take verse 29 to heart. Paul says (literally) every word that is sapros out of our mouth - Let it never come out!. The main verb of the clause is last clearly for emphasis. In other words, Paul is saying that every word that is sapros must never come out of our mouths as believers.

So what does sapros mean? Sapros was a word used in Ancient Secular and Hellenistic Greek meaning "something that is rotten," or "something that is putrid."

In the Biblical times, the authors of Scripture took this agricultural word and used it referring to the speech of individuals. Paul says that our speech must never be rotten. In this context of Eph 4:29, it has the idea of "rotten," or "harmful," or "unfit for proper use," or "worthless." In other words, your words really do speak. And most of the time, you may not even know how you may have hurt someone else with your words. It is so imperative for us to take these verses to heart. May we be those who recognize that our "speech really does speak" to individuals. Whether we intend a certain meaning to get across, it does. May the Lord help us and give us strength as we seek to encourage and edify one another in and through the way we speak with others.

Monday, October 30, 2006

May we all who aspire to be preachers preach with as much joy as this man!
The Apostle Paul gives a great illustration in 1 Cor 9:24-27:
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27 but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.

What Paul is saying is that - in this life - he makes it his ambition to run with such a determination so as to win the prize. He knows that there are many others who are running. He knows that the race is large. The stadium is packed. The sounds are deafening. Yet Paul uses this athletic analogy to get his point across.

In the Isthmian games, the winner of the race would receive a wreath (stephanos) and be hoisted up on an elevated platform as a symbol that they have won the competition.

Paul says, I run - not to receive this perishable wreath (though the glory and joy may be exciting - it only lasts for a moment), rather I run to receive the imperishable wreath. How does Paul do that? He boxes in such a way as though not beating the air. He has purpose in what he does. He has a deliberate action and game-plan for his life. Furthermore, Paul buffets his body. The word here for "buffet" is hupopiazo. hupopiazo has the idea of striking something in the face with a blow; tormenting something; treating roughly; to beat something with the result that it is black and blue. In early Christian literature, the word was used to refer to cities that were terribly scourged and affected by war, thus being a public spectacle and showing their desolation.

Paul uses this analogy of "beating" his body and make it his slave and then he says, "after I have preached to others." Paul lives his Christian walk with such an intense zeal. He has his goal on the eternal. He is looking not only to the finish line, but what is past the finish line.

How also in the same way ought we to be people who "buffet" our bodies. We must have single focused ambition in this life - to live to the glory of God (cf. 1 Cor 10:31).

To make the practical connection, as I was talking with Elizabeth last night, we reiterated our mutual desire to first and foremost keep the Lord Jesus Christ not only center in the relationship, but most importantly, center in each of our individual lives. Our goal and privilege in dating each other is to draw each other to Christlikeness. I want to serve her and love her and shepherd her in any way that I can so that she will personally experience Jesus Christ with greater zeal, joy and passion. I want Elizabeth to long for God's Word and for biblical food each day. So, in a word, I want to buffet my body for godliness. I want to train so hard and push my body so hard, and be 110% fighting for godliness - not Elizabeth. Elizabeth comes after the Lord, after my zeal and pursuit of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ps 34:3 - "Glorify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together."

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Glorious God
I bless thee that I know thee
I once lived in the world, but was ignorant of its creator,
was partaker of thy providences, but knew not the provider,
was blind while enjoying the sunlight,
was deaf to all things spiritual, with voices all around me
understood many things, but had no knowledge of thy ways,
saw the world, but did not see Jesus only.
O Happy day, when in thy love's sovereignty
thou didst look on me, and call me by grace.
Then did the dead heart begin to beat,
the darkened eye glimmer with light,
the dull ear catch thy echo,
and I turned to thee and found thee,
a God ready to hear, willing to save.
Then did I find my heart at enmity to thee, vexing thy Spirit;
Then did I fall at thy feet and hear three thunder,
'The soul that sinneth, it must die',
But when grace made me to know thee,
and admire a God who hated sin,
thy terrible justice held my will submissive.
My thoughts were then as knives butting my head.
Then didst thou come to me in silken robes of love,
and I saw thy Son dying that I might live,
and in that death I found my all.
My soul doth sing at the remembrance of that peace;
The gospel cornet brought a sound uknown to me before
that reached my heart - and I lived -
never to lose my hold on Christ or his hold on me.
Grant that I may always weep to the praise of mercy found,
and tell to others as long as I live,
that thou art a sin-pardoning God,
taking up the blasphemer and the ungodly,
and washing them from their deepest stain.
"The Great Discovery," The Valley of Vision
When you have a relationship that strives to be pleasing to the Lord, one of the essential qualities that must be in place is accountability. True accountability. Not just a mere question here, or a question there. But a real and genuine interest in the other person's heart to understand what is going on in their soul/spirit.

The psalmist recognizes this and he says that "Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against you" (Ps 119:11). How important it is for us - not just to hide God's word in our hearts, to live it, but to hold one another accountable by it.

True accountability is God-honoring. It is glorifying to Jesus Christ. It is open honesty seeking to understand the other person's spirit with the help and aid of the Holy Spirit. May God give us the grace to practice this kind of true and biblical accountability in our relationships. To God be the Glory.

Friday, October 27, 2006

This is shocking. And it is still amazing to me that these issues are still on the front lines and the main topics of discussion in the news these days.

Ex-Gov. James McGreevey said, "I regret not having had the fortitude to embrace this right during my tenure as governor."

It is horrifying to hear that "Before they could marry, the former governor would have to finalize his divorce from his second wife."

This is disturbing. We - as believers - need to understand what's going on, to not be afraid of it, and then to take a stand for the truth. We need to stand for the truth because the supreme authority of the truth commands us to stand up for what's right. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, "16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. God is true and let every man be found a liar (Rom 3:4). Believer, take a stand for the truth!

SOURCE: http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/10/26/nj.governor.ap/index.html
One of my heroes is a man by the name of St. Francis - or more commonly referred to as St. Francis of Assisi. He was born and raised in this town of Assisi, Italy and lived a normal childhood. He was quite the partier and the womanizer. He was one who was always living on the edge longing to have an exciting time which would bring cheer to his heart.

During the inquisition in Italy, he was captured and spent much time in a cement prison/dungeon. He was chained to the wall and the only light he ever saw was the faint daylight coming through his small window in the cell. This time alone - desperately alone - allowed Francis to reflect and meditate much on his life - that is, the reason for living.

Upon being released from the cell after the Inquisition, he often wandered off to secluded places contemplating, meditating and wondering what his life was all about.

He stumbled into a Church one day. It was nothing special. It was a one-room church-house. Upon entering, he looked up and saw a crucifix and immediately he was convicted. He says that he "heard the voice of God say to me, 'Go and rebuild my house.'" So not understanding to what degree he was to rebuild the house of God, he went and got a bucket and some water and began to wash the floors and walls of this one room church-house.

He then had to steal cloths and other sewn materials from his father's shop in order to pay for materials to clean the church. He was then brought before the city counsel - at the instigation of his father - to be tried. At this trial, Francis took off all his clothes - which were made by his father in the shop - and turned them in. This was a sign of Francis' repentance for stealing the clothing, as well as a way for him to pay back what he had stolen.

He then left the city to journey and live a life pleasing to God. Francis had one main goal, to live and follow the teachings of Jesus. He sought to live out the Gospel. In fact, Francis was one that - before he was regernated - when he would encounter a leper, he would immediately plug his nose because of their horrendous smell and turn and walk the other direction away from them. However, God had do radically changed his heart after saving him that the first place he went after being converted was to the lepers. It is recorded that he embraced them, he hugged them, he kissed them, he wept with them, he loved them. This puts his very well known quote into proper perspective, "Share the Gospel all the time, and then, if necessary, use words" (St. Francis of Assisi c. 1200AD).

Convicting words. Scholars of Francis' life called him a "hardcore radical for the cause of Jesus Christ." He was a man who was scorned, mocked, he had mud thrown at him and he was reviled for the name of Christ.

At one point he was preaching to a crowd and they were ignoring him. He got so angry at this that he turned his back to them and began to preach to the birds for he said, "Surely the birds will listen to a man preach." And they did, the birds listened.

In his preaching, Francis called people to do something hard. He called them utterly give their lives to Christ.

St. Francis of Assisi has really gripped my heart and my affections. I may not agree with everything he did. I surely do not hold to his view of transubstantiation. However, what I do want to learn from and strive to do is to live my life with a holy zeal for the cause of Christ just as Francis did in his life.

1 Timothy 4:7 really comes to light here: "Train yourself for godliness." The word for "train yourself" there is gumnazo. Gumnazo means to exercise; to train naked; to exercise and train vigorously of the entire body and mind. In fact, gumnazo is where we get our English word "gymnasium," hence the meaning of "gymnasium" - a place to train; exercise; sweat; work hard, etc.

Francis saw this verse and lived it out. So also should we - in the same way - seek to train ourselves for Godliness and let nothing hinder us. To God be all the Glory forever. Amen.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The USA Today (along with the New York Times, LA Times, and Washington Post) gave headlines (or if not the leading article, then it was a secondary one) to the idea of "Same-sex couples [who are] in New Jersey must be given all the benefits and rights enjoyed by married men and women."

This is outright wrong, sinful and dishonoring to God. It is completely defaming the purpose that God had originally intended for the covenant of marriage. It is overwhelmingly clear in the Scriptures that God intended for man and woman to join together for the God-given union and bond of marriage (cf. Gen 2:22-25; Prov 18:22; Matt 22:4-9; 1 Cor 7:10-11; Gal 5:22-33; Col 3:18-19; Titus 1:6; 1 Pet 5:1-7).

The union is for "a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh" (Gen 2:24) and there is no doubt about this. It couldn't be more clear in the Word of God.

Additionally, Scripture condemns the sin of homosexuality (Rom 1:26-27; Lev 18:22; 20:13; 1 Cor 6:9).

The fact that Joe Solmonese can say, "This is very much a victory for same-sex couples in New Jersey because the court has sent a clear message that they deserve the same protections as all the long-term, committed heterosexual couples in that state" is utterly shocking and can only bring emotional grief to the heart of God.

We must rise up and take a stand for the truth that is revealed so clearly in God's Holy and inspired Word (2 Tim 3:16-17; 2 Pet 1:20-21; Heb 4:12). We must not waver. We must reach out with a genuine, Christ-like love to those who are trapped in the sin of homosexuality and give them the liberating and joyful offer that is alone revealed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

May He have great mercy upon our nation.

SOURCE: http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20061026/1a_lede26_dom.art.htm
A Black Truck. About 11:00pm. Driving on a road with not many cars. I heard something that really, really, really brought joy to my heart. Yet it humbled me.

To my friend whom I love giving piggy-back rides. You are great. God is truly Good.

Psalm 93:1 - "The Lord Reigns"
I was soberly and humbly reminded last night of the truth - which I read this morning in my devotions - that the "word of the cross, to those who are perishing, is foolishness, but to those who are being saved, it is the power of God...We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews, on the one hand, a stumbling block, but to the Greeks, on the other hand, foolishness. But to the called, both Jew and Greek, [we preach] Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Cor. 1:18, 23-24).

How true is it that every single person who rejects the Gospel is in essence calling the gospel a "foolish scheme." But yet let me be reminded: salvation is all of God. I play NO part in it. In fact, the only part that I ever played in my salvation were the running away from God as fast as I could run because of my sin nature and inherent rebellion.

Paul says so clearly the word of the cross is absolute foolishness to those who are perishing. This is ho logos tou stourou and it is more than the simple "thought" or "word spoken" of the cross. The idea that Paul has here is the Gospel message as a whole (cf. 1:17 in the context for this support of Paul preaching the "Gospel"). To those who are eternally perishing at this point and not regenerate, this gospel message is absolute folly. But on the other hand, Paul clearly contrasts this with the next phrase, "but to those who are being saved, to us it [the Gospel presentation] is the power of God."

What else could it be? If it weren't the power of god, then no flesh would be saved because it is folly to every sinful human being. The Gospel of God comes with such monumenous force and power that when it effectually calls an individual, there is no possible way an individual can resist or reject that call.

The Gospel is foolish. You try and come up with a more radical, a more foolish, a more rejected, a more hated message than that of the cross and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and you will always come up short. Only the infinite wisdom of God could ever Sovereignty ordain something such as this.

Paul concludes the chapter with an amazing thought, ex autou de humeis este en christo iesou, which literally is translated, "but out of his doing, you are in Christ Jesus." We must NOT ever become conceited to the slightest degree in thinking that we are good, and that we have played even a small or minute role in our conversion.

Salvation is all of God, all from God, and all to God (cf. Rom 11:36-37). We must exclaim with the Apostle John and those who are in heaven who were slain during the Tribulation in John's eschatological vision crying out, "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb" (Rev 7:10).

May it never be forgotten. We must do one thing - preach this "word of the cross;" in both doctrine and in our duty. We must proclaim and herald the truth and we must also live and be conformed to the truth. God is glorified to save sinners who thought that the message was utter folly, yet who have come to know, believe, love, treasure, and revel in the absolute joy that it is to be a saved son or daughter in the family of God.

May God be forever blessed. Until we see Him face to face, may we be those who are His ambassadors, preaching this foolish gospel to a lost and dying world. May we have such a hunger, passion, zeal and fervor to not ever pass up one opportunity to save a person's soul from eternal hell. God help us.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Have I got the solution for YOU. It is very simple, really. In fact, it would not take much effort at all. It could, potentially, be done by the click of the mouse. Though there must be a decision as to which "style" is the best.

What on earth is my solution to reading fast(er)? Techno music.

That's really all it is, folks. In fact, let me elaborate just for a moment - humor me - and tell you why I genuinely believe techno music can enhance your reading speed:

(1) It is a steady beat for hours. No commercials, no breaks, no slow down - love song, mushy-mushy - music.

(2) There are no lyrics (for the most part) with Techno music. That means that you can listen to Techno all day long and not get wrapped up in the lyrics that you may already know or partly know (that we all try to sing along with those songs that we know only 30% of the lyrics and as a result, make up our own lyrics for the other 70%!). This means - no distractions.

(3) It is simply good chill music.

If this is shocking to anyone, let me just ask you to try it out. I'm not saying that this will supernaturally allow you to read a whole tome in 15 minutes. But what I am saying is that the steady beat, without the lyrics can be a great background supplement to reading!

Specifically (for those who even care to read this far): Techno is a broad category (umbrella, if you will) under which many other categories fit. I prefer more specific categories such as Trance, Funk or House. Jungle and Garage are O.K., but they can get a little annoying after awhile. Some of you are laughing. Some of you are rolling your eyes. Some of you cannot believe that I would actually post a blog on this topic, but let me just tell you, this is very dear and near to my heart. :-)
I was contemplating the idea last night of serving. This then led me to the wonderful text of Galatians 5. In this chapter, Paul is giving the practical exhortations to the Galatian believers to walk in (or by the Spirit). Paul says in Gal. 5:6 that it is "faith working through love" that counts. He continues in v.13 by saying that "you were called to freedom, brethren: only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another."

Serving another individual takes a conscious, deliberate, willful and determined effort. It does not come natural. To humble oneself and take off the outer garments (so to speak) and get down on the hands and feet and - with a towel - wash and wipe the muddy, smelly, dirty and calloused feet of the disciples of the Lord, is a hard task. Yet, at the same time, it is one that we are all called to. The reason I say this is because of John 13:15, "For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you." This is the high - yet low in the world's eyes - calling that Christians are commanded to fulfill.

Galatians 5:16 continues by saying that we are to "walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh." This concept of walking by the Spirit and serving others (all which are in the same context here in Gal. 5) are accomplished by the Spirit. Namely, "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control..." (v.25). I want to make this my aim today. I want to have an attitude of service. I want to through love, serve one another. I will thus be walking by the Spirit. This will then result in the fruit of the Spirit.

I was walking last night on this lovely path outside having a fabulous conversation while the stars were out and this concept of "serving one another" came to my mind. Immediately after was the text of Gal 5:22-23 - The Fruit of the Spirit. I must make it my life's ambition to be pleasing to God (2 Cor 5:9). One way that I can do this is to serve all people (yes, even by giving piggy-back rides :-) ) and striving to have my life characterized by the fruit of the Spirit.

In a word, this can only be done by the Divine power of the Holy Spirit. Yet, He is willing to empower us to life lives of service that are pleasing to Him. To God be the Glory. May He be forever blessed.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I read a few blogs this morning that were quite excellent:

Bob Kauflin describes his time with C.J. Mahaney to visit Al Mohler at Southern seminary here: www.worshipmatters.blogs.com/bobkauflin.

Al Mohler gave an entertaining blog expressing his desire to wish iPod a Happy 5th Anniversary here: www.albertmohler.com/blog.php.
It is amazing what a simple verse of the Bible can do to completely change the midset of a person day by day. For example, every day I receive a daily email with Scripture verses and meditations with a quote from a saint of old, and one of those days had a verse and a quote that really encouraged me. It was a much needed reminder in the course of a long (filled with studying and research) day:

"The knowledge of Christ's love for us should cause us to love
Him in such a way that it is demonstrated in our attitude,
conduct, and commitment to serve God. Spiritual maturity is
marked by spiritual knowledge being put into action.
-- Edward Bedore

The Scripture that encouraged me was: Romans 15:13-14 13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. 14 And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able also to admonish one another.

The point: Only the Word of God can bring about the adequate and necessary encouragement that one needs for strength and divine empowerment to make it through each day.
The reason: The Word of God is Divinely Inspired and Divinely Powerful. It can radically change your life.
The mean: The Word of God is impacted upon an individual by the Holy Spirit - who is, indeed, God very God.

Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost!
Here is the link to a great (one of many) missions organizations: http://www.whitefields.org/. The executive director, Stephen Lonetti, spoke at our chapel (at TMS; www.tms.edu) a few weeks ago and gave a very heart-stirring message on not only the need for missions, but the privilege (and necessity) or training local, national men to be pastors in their own villages and cultures that they are most familiar and acquainted with.

This website and the organization is definately worth a few minutes of your time and prayers.

"Missions exists because worship doesn't" (quote by John Piper).

Monday, October 23, 2006

Excellent post this morning by Mark Dever as he commented on the absolute necessity of the Scriptures in Church services. Unfortunately, this is a lost cause in modern day evangelical churches. Dever quotes David Wells by saying:

“This Word of God is the means by which God accomplishes his saving work in his people, and this is a work that no evangelist and no preacher can do. This is why the dearth of serious, sustained biblical preaching in the Church today is a serious matter. When the Church loses the Word of God it loses the very means by which God does his work. In its absence, therefore, a script is being written, however unwittingly, for the Church’s undoing, not in one cataclysmic moment, but in a slow, inexorable slide made up of piece by tiny piece of daily dereliction.” David Wells, Above All Earthly Pow’rs (2005), p. 9.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Why is it that so often, we are prone and enticed into believing the truth about something/someone from someone else. Why is it, that we do not make the effort to approach the matter and investigate and find out the truth from the primary source?

I think I am beginning to realize the devastation this can bring upon a person - a church, a family, a ministry, etc. For example, this is a true story that happened in the not too distant past: One person heard something about another person. Then that person who heard the issue told other people. After telling a host of other people, the person sought out the primary person and said, "I heard ... about you." Why did that happen? Or Why did you do that?

Notice that there is no question to confirm if the issue heard was correct or even valid. It was simply a question with accusatory overtones. I think we do this for a number of reasons:

(1) We are simple minded and do not want to have - in any way, shape or form - any conflict, so the issue is simply believed without further investigation.

(2) We as human beings are prideful. Perhaps when we hear something negative about someone else, we are easily drawn to believe it simply because we long to compare ourselves with others in hopes of recognizing that we may be "more spiritual" than they.

(3) Finally, oftentimes, we simply do not recognize when the conversation begins that this may be an issue that we - really - deserve to have no part in. In other words, when stories are told about someone, and much more, even behind their back, that is gossip. We are told "to not associate with a gossip" (Prov. 20:19).

May we be those who quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19). May we also invesitagate issues - if it is our place to do so - rather than believing everything we hear and then spreading the news to others. God help us.
Count on it. There will come a time in the eschaton, when every single Jewish person will be saved - they will trust in Jesus Christ (Y'shua), their promised Messiah. When will this be? In the future, after the fullness of the Gentiles has come in (Rom 11:25).

As I was studying Romans 11 yesterday, I was overwhelmed with the future of God for ethnic, national Israel. Not the church, no replacement theology, not the "spiritual Israel" but national, ethnic Israel (an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, the tribe of Benjamin; cf. Rom 11:1).

It is clear from the book of Romans at large, that one of Paul's overarching themes is God's plan for both Jew and Gentile (cf. 1:13-14, 16-17). In Romans 11 Paul speaks of a metaphor that everyone in the first century would understand clearly. The metaphor was that of an olive tree and some wild branches that were grafted in to this olive tree. The point is simple. Israel is this olive tree. Yet, out of God's free and sovereign grace, he allowed some wild branches to be grafted in (i.e. the Gentiles). In the overall context of Romans and in the immediate context of Romans 9-11 (and especially 11:1), the terms Jew and Gentile are referring to nationalities. Those who are from the physical seed and line of Abraham and those who are not.

Then in verse 25 Paul declares the mystery of this - if there are any who still do not get the point: "a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in." In other words, God is working with the Gentiles now - the church. Then in v.26, the Greek particle houtos is used in a way that denotes result. It could be, "and thus [as a result of this] then All Israel will be saved" (v.26).

Here is the clincher that Paul is speaking of national, ethnic Israel all being saved in the eschaton. In v.26, Paul seals the argument by quoting Is 59:20 - "The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob." He then cites Is 59:21 - "This is my covenant with them (i.e. ethnic Israel - not the church), when I take away their sins."

After reading these marvelous verses on God's Sovereign plan of both Jew and Gentile, Paul concludes with this magnificent doxology which is also an apt conclusion to this post: Romans 11:33-36 33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

I take no credit for this blog: It is posted from a good buddy of mine, Gunner Gundersen (http://rawchristianity.wordpress.com/). It is from John Piper on his New Book, What Jesus Demands from the World. It is an interview that recently took place at the Conference at Bethlehem Baptist Church:

Justin Taylor to John Piper: Pastor John, I wanted to start with you… You spent two months this summer looking at the commands of Jesus in the gospels and poring over every word that Jesus said, and I want to ask you: In this postmodern climate, in today’s culture, what did that do for your own soul, spending that much time with the words of Christ; anything personally that you learned, that you took away from that time, or were you changed by doing that exercise?

John Piper: It’s a devastating thing, first, to expose yourself to five hundred imperatives in the gospels and dozens and dozens of demands from the one who has all authority in heaven and on earth, because His standards are so radical, meaning they go to the root of all your behaviors. He’s not concerned primarily with what’s on the outside, but He’s always pressing down into the bottom—“unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees” (and their problem was that they were whitewashed tombs). And so, it was always going deep. So it was eleven weeks or so of having my heart exposed to its anger or its impatience or its unforgiveness, and clamoring then for the second impression, namely, “the Son of Man came into the world not to be served but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many;” “I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.” So you have this radical demand running side by side with these spectacular offers of mercy for those who will be the publican and despair of [their] own righteousness instead of the Pharisee who’s thanking God that he’s worked any righteousness and is going to bank on it in the judgment day. So there was hope and there was desolation, and if I understand the gospels right, that’s the way it’s supposed to happen.

***I think the personal effect was to intensify my desire to be in the face of a pluralistic world and say as publicly and as provocatively as I can that all authority in the universe belongs to Jesus Christ. It doesn’t belong to Mohammed and it doesn’t belong to any Hindu god and it doesn’t belong to Moses. It belongs to Jesus Christ, and if you don’t bow the knee to Him, you will perish. And so we need to proclaim that God is angry at the whole world—if you don’t obey the Son, the wrath of God rests on you. And so there was just a sense that there’s so much mealy-mouthed hesitancy to talk about the most important things in the world, namely, getting right with a holy God who will crush you forever if you don’t go to the Son that He provided.

I just came away feeling like I just don’t want to play games anymore. Life is short; I don’t know how long I have.

Jesus, as He stands forth in the gospels, is spectacularly supreme and beautiful and glorious and tough and tender and worthy and attractive and satisfying—why wouldn’t you want to give your life to this?

Quotes are from Matthew 5:20, 20:28, and 9:13.
Have you ever had such a great conversation that afterwards you think and reflect on the conversation that just took place and realized, "I really shared a lot right then?"

Last night was one of those for me. Those late nights with buddies, with roomies, with family and friends and the great conversations that accompany that time are all special.

However, I realized something at 2:30 in the morning after a long night of conversation and fun with someone that I thoroughly enjoy spending much time with. And that is that being brutally honest inevitably results in some degree of vulnerability. In a sense, this is what friendship is built on. Is it not? Trust is vital. Authenticity is vital. Vulnerability is essential. How can a person be completely honest and yet hold back some issues from the past (before regeneration, embarrassing moments, post-conversion sinful experiences, etc.)?

Upon reflection last night, not only was I amazed at the marvelous company that I had, but the depth, the seriousness, the fun, the laughing in the conversation was incredible. It truly is real, vulnerability is a ramification of telling the truth. And if telling the truth and being honest is a core element in any relationship, the only conclusion is that it leads to an element of vulnerability.

But that is the glorious reality of friendships. They deepen more and more upon great conversations, experiences shared together, and common bonds. The Scriptures speak of friendships that were solid - yet vulnerable (cf. David and Jonathan, 1 Sam. 20). How we can be encouraged - not just to trust, not just to be honest, not just to be open, but to give all Glory to God in every conversation that is uttered.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 4 Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Friday, October 20, 2006

I have begun something new each morning. As I begin my personal prayer time, I will open the Scriptures - usually to a Psalm - and read through a verse or two (or even the Psalm) and meditate on the person and character of God. This morning I was reading through Psalm 96. I recognized something in the Hebrew that I have not recognized before in this Psalm. It struck me.

Psalm 96:4 says, "For Great is Yahweh and Greatly to be Praised. Awesome (norah) is He over all gods." Upon reading this verse that is ever so clear in teaching the incomparable characteristics of Yahweh God over all other (pagan and mythological) gods of the Ancient Near East at that time, I was awed by the awesomeness of the God of the Bible.

The fact that the Psalmist says that He (Yahweh) is norah (what we translate "awesome") is from the Hebrew root yareh meaning "to fear; to tremble; to be afraid." I am not suggesting that we - as New Testament believers - ought to be afraid of God. But what I am saying is that, so often, we too quickly forget that Yahweh God ought to be feared. He has the power to crush anyone who does not submit to His sovereign will and authority.

I was contemplating and praying over this and thought, "God doesn't need to take a life away from anyone, if God were to stop giving life to a person, that would be their death. Upon pondering this thought, I remembered that it is this High, Lofty and Sovereign King whom I serve. He is worthy of my awe and reverence. It would deem me well to tremble before Him and remember who I am when compared to who He is.

So when we speak of our Yahweh God (of both the OT and NT) being "awesome," let us never forget what that word really means in the original. He is the one worthy of all fear, adoration, awe and reverence. To Him be the Glory forever and ever. Amen.
One of the current issues in modern day evangelicalism is the ongoing (and unending) debate among "evangelical" scholars that women and men have totally equal rights in the marriage covenant.

As I have been reading and researching extensively for one of my courses at seminary, I have been overwhelmed with the abundant number of evangelical scholars, theologians, pastors and "counselors" that hold to an egalitarian form of marriage.

One of the verses that is so often at the forefront of my mind in all of this is Ephesians 5:24. It is here in this passage that Paul is giving a charge to various groups in the household. He is dealing with the first group here, namely the wives. He says to them in verse 22 - "Be subject to your own husbands" (that right there can be used to refute the egalitarian view) and Paul continues in v.23 by saying that "the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body." Paul's argument is clear thus far.

He's not finished yet. He continues by stating ever so clearly in v. 24 - "But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be [subject] to their husbands in everything." This is overwhelmingly clear. An Egalitarian would have to do some serious hermeneutical gymnastics to get around the exclusively clear meaning of this verse.

So I return to the question that is the Title of this Blog, Biblical Egalitarianism? That is an oxymoron and a statement that holds no biblical credence whatsoever. Let God be true and every man be found a liar!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Allow me one minute of boasting, please. I received an extraordinarily kind gift yesterday after a special friend returned from Hawaii. Permit me to describe three of the gifts for you in brief, yet sufficient detail:

(1) Kona Krunch. This is a chocolate Covered Macadamia Nut with Rice Crisp bar made from "Hawaiian Sun." I don't know anything about Hawaiian Sun, but the company sounds official. This is very tasty. As far as size goes, the candy is a little small, but no complaints.

(2)Hawaiian Host presents, "Selected Whoel and Halves Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts. Now folks, these are superb. I have eaten about 6 of the 16 that are in the box and I made the sad - oh, so sad - mistake of looking at the Nutrition Facts on the side of the box. First of all, I had trouble reading the facts because the print was so small - no wonder. If everyone could read the Nutrition facts, no one would buy the box and eat 6 of these things in a day like I just did.

(3) Hawaii's Vanilla Macadamia Coffee. Now, let me explain something. For anyone who is addicted to coffe (as I myself am), this is a good buy. Though it may be a little expensive to buy and ship from Hawaii to where you live, if you do have the opportunity to go to Hawaii, pick up a box of this coffee. It is very good.

The gist of this post: Do not look at the Nutrition facts on the food before you eat it. In fact, it may be good to wait a day - or two, or three or ten - before looking at the nutrition facts. This may result in some early mornings coming up to run and work off one of these macadamia nuts.
My Roommate was running tonight. I was told by another roommate, whom I would deem trustworthy most of the time, that his shorts were just a tad short. More specifically, the white and muscular thighs were clearly evident upon every stride that was taken while burning the calories. Tyler, we love you, brother.

On a serious note, this is the inauguration of this blog. I have entitled the page "Vassal of the King" for a simple reason. I have been pondering for many recent months the simple - yet profound - truth of Psalm 93:1, "The Lord Reigns." I have been overwhelmed in my personal times of worship in trying to understand how and what this looks like. I was first introduced to this concept along with a detailed study in the Psalm by Steve Lawson - who is my "hero" preacher. Psalm 93 was his last sermon at a church where he was removed from the Pastorate for preaching the absolute and exclusive truths of the Scriptures. Furthermore, Dr. Lawson's testimony has impacted me so much that I decided to devote this Psalm to personal study whenever I had time. It is this Sunday that I will be preaching on Psalm 93 - the Sovereignty of God. This clear concept not only is revealed in the first (two in Hebrew) words of the Psalm when the Psalmist writes, "The Lord Reigns." But it is elaborated through the rest of the Psalm by pointing out these three hooks:
I. The Sovereign Reign of God
II. The Sinful Rebellion Against God
III. The Sure Revelation of God

I have found this Psalm to not only be very humbling in realizing the fact that the LORD whom I serve is indeed the Sovereign Creator of the Universe. If this baffles your mind, take your Bible and read (slowly) Job 38-41 and see how truly magnificent and omnipotent our God is.

Then that led me to contemplate - and once again, be humbled by - the reality that my salvation is 0% from me and 100% from God. Is that clear? That is what the Scriptures teach? Do I understand it all with all of the various nuances and deep truths that are contained in that phrase? No, but I believe it? Does it always make sense to me? No, but I believe it? Why, you may ask? Simply because the Bible is overwhelmingly clear. For it says in Ephesians 2:8-10 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

In conclusion, I have appended a note from a paper that I am working on which states, "The believer who has trusted in Jesus Christ has nothing left to cry but a cry of submissive and reverent joy! What comfort! What assurance! What authority! What sovereignty! What love!" Praise to the LORD, the Almighty, the King of Creation! Amen and Amen.
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