Thursday, October 30, 2008

“God Has Formed a Human Being in My Wife—God’s Handiwork Manifest”

Thursday, October 30, 2008

If there ever was a truism, it is this: human beings cannot create life—only God can. This morning Elizabeth and I traversed to the doctor’s office for our first Ultrasound. Not only did we have a Jewish doctor, but we were able to see the third human member of our family! This little guy was moving around like crazy in the womb of Elizabeth. He is almost 12 weeks old and has two arms and two legs and a head!

As I was looking into that monitor watching the heartbeat of our baby (not sure if it’s a boy or a girl yet—a few more months for that!) I found myself wondering how someone could look into that screen and see a heartbeat like that and conclude that the baby is not a human life yet. I am thankful that Elizabeth is carrying a human being, a physical, literal, heart-pumping little baby in her womb. It is beyond me how people can assert that little guys like this are not people.

I echo what David writes in Psalm 139:

Psalm 139:13-16 13 For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb. 14 I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from Thee, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth. 16 Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Thy book they were all written, The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.

Indeed it is true that God has formed our little baby! It is God who has fashioned and molded this little life together inside of Elizabeth. For this, we are overwhelmed and overjoyed at the miracle—yes, it is no less than a divine miracle—of God’s handiwork clearly seen in our family. We endeavor to have the mindset of the psalmist when he wrote: “Behold, children are a gift of the LORD; The fruit of the womb is a reward” (Ps 127:3).

God is truly good! We have been, are currently, and will continue to be thankful to the Lord for His gracious provision of this human being into our little “Kirkland” family. Soli Deo Gloria.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Elizabeth and I had lunch with a family after church on Sunday and the wife asked me if I enjoy preaching through Revelation (we're on Rev 20:11-15: the Great White Throne Judgment tonight). I responded with this lengthy answer expressing my gratitude for the opportunity to study about the end times. As most preachers would say, my favorite book of the Bible is the one I'm currently preaching through--and for me, one of those books is Revelation. Over the past year or so, I've been immersed in this final book of the Bible thinking, praying, meditating and musing on the final events that God has ordained in human history.

I find that as I study more--especially recently as I've been drawing closer to the Lake of Fire and the New Heavens and the New Earth--I, consequently, live my life with an awareness that my life could end any moment (Prov 27:1) and that my life is a vapor (James 4:14) which could be taken from me at any moment. The recognition that eternal happiness in the presence of God in heaven or the eternal torment in the presence of God in hell are constant thoughts that race through my mind. Even as I ride the bus to seminary, I find myself praying for the Lord to open conversations to share the gospel. You can only imagine what kind of looks (some good, most bad, a handful bewildered) I get when people on the bus see me reading a book with the title "The Torments of Hell" in large-print on the front cover. I find the all-too-real truth is that many people think they're going to heaven or they believe that this life is it--therefore believing in annihilationism.

Therefore, do I enjoy studying about heaven and hell? Have I enjoyed my labors in preaching and teaching through this book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse? Of course! I am grateful to God for the awesome privilege I've had to be all the more aware of eternity. It is as Jonathan Edwards resolved in his heart, to constantly have one eye on heaven and one eye on hell as he lived life. He stated it similarly in Resolution #55:

Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I find that what God told Jeremiah to do is what God also commands modern-day preachers to do for Him.

Jeremiah 6:11 11 But I am full of the wrath of the LORD: I am weary with holding
it in. "Pour it out on the children in the street, And on the gathering of young
men together; For both husband and wife shall be taken, The aged and the very

Charles Feinberg is right in stating:
Regardless of success or failure, Jeremiah's duty was to preach the Lord's
message. Whether the people listened or not, he was divinely compelled to voice
the Lord's indignation. Full of the divine wrath, he is commanded to pour it out
on everybody--children, young men, married couples, the elderly--all are involved
in the city's doom. Even the children and the aged, usually the special objects
of God's care, are to be shown no mercy. The wrath was evoked by the sins now
set forth: greed (v.13), deceitful prophecy (vv.13-14), loathsome deeds and
shamelessness (v.15), obduracy (vv.16-17), rejection of the law (vv.18-19), and
worthless sacrifices (v.20).

Jerusalem's cultural situation at this time was one of idolatry and Godlessness. Sounds similar to our cultural milieu today. Let us as preachers herald forth the harsh--yet needed--message of repentance and divine judgment with all boldness! For after all, if one neglects to preach on such issues and only declare "Peace! Peace!"- this is the one that God calls a false prophet (Jer 6:14).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Today in our seminary chapel, I heard a wonderful exposition of Mark 10:35-45 on servant leadership. After his exposition, he left about 20 minutes for specific and and pointed application (reminded me of the old Puritan sermons!). I post them here for your encouragement (and conviction!):

Practical ways in which a pastor can be a servant leader in the local church:

  1. Don’t listen to people who tell you what a great preacher you are! It’s a lie!
  2. Studiously avoid the place of honor (or the head table) at church banquets and potlucks
  3. Regularly perform custodial duties around church property.
  4. Make it a habit to volunteer yourself to serve in a low-profile ministry (jail, walk for life, evangelize, elementary school chapel, etc).
  5. Consider adopting another title besides “Senior Pastor”—perhaps “Undershepherd” or “Teaching Pastor”.

Let us all learn from these truths for, after all, our Savior was the greatest servant of all. Finally, hear a quote I also heard from his sermon:

It's hard to wash the feet of people when you're standing on a pedestal.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I'm convinced that I--we--all-too-often don't think enough about the reign of our Savior, Jesus Christ, upon the earth during the 1,000 year Millennium--to our own detriment. As I've been studying these last few weeks for my Revelation 20 sermon tonight at church, not only is my conviction in the literal, physical, bodily and righteous reign of Jesus Christ on earth stronger, but my confession is that I don't think enough--much less, get excited about--on this wonderful period.

I believe that Satan will be bound for 1,000 years--as the biblical text clearly states (if you interpret it with any normal, plain, consistent hermeneutic) in Rev 20:1ff and that that time on earth will be a period of:

1) Reigning together with Christ (Rev 20:4, 6; 2 Tim 2:12; 1 Cor 6:2; Rev 5:10; Deut 28:1). It baffles me how many an interpreter can overlook these texts and perform extraordinary hermeneutical gymnastics to come up with some other interpretation.

2) Seeing God face to face (1 John 3:3; Jer 24:7; 31:33; 32:38). This is a period when Jesus will reign from Mt. Zion (Ps 2) and we will reign with Him--personally, physically present with Jesus Christ!

3) Complete (and literal!) fulfillment of all the OT prophecies and promises to Israel's restoration and period of Messianic peace (Isa 9:6; Ps 2; Zech 14; Isa 11:1ff; Isa 2:1ff; Luke 1:32-33). If there is no period of peace from Zion on the earth--as any OT Jew would have interpreted the texts--then, to me, it seems that God has failed in keeping his promises!

4) A Righteous and Just Reign by Jesus Christ (Ps 2; Jer 31:31ff; Ps 110; 2 Sam 7:13-16). He will rule with a "rod of iron" (Ps 2) and will rule over the nations (Ps 110).

5) National and Personal Righteousness (Ps 72:7; Isa 32:15-20; Ezek 39:29; Joel 2:28-32). An abundance of peace will rule during this time period! Justice and righteousness will preside as the norm!

Because of these--among a host of others--I am convinced that we must get excited not only for heaven (which we must think about much more than we do), but also for this period of physical righteousness and peace on the earth when our Savior, Jesus Christ, will reign upon the earth. I'm bewildered at some commentators who neglect to see this as a future time of peace on the earth. I just don't see it in the text (assuming a consistent hermeneutic).

Monday, October 20, 2008

"The adjectives used in the Bible to describe the heart are an eyeopener. The heart is variously described as adulterous, anguished, arrogant, astray, bitter, blameless, blighted, broken, calloused, circumcised, contrite, crushed, darkened, deadened, deceitful, deluded, devoted, disloyal, envious, evil, faint, faithful, far off, fearful, foolish, grateful, happy, hard, haughty, humble, mad, malicious, obstinate, perverse, proud, pure, rebellious, rejoicing, responsive, righteous, sick, sincere, sinful, steadfast, troubled, unfeeling, uncircumcised, upright, unsearchable, weary, wicked, wise, and wounded. No wonder the Bible says that it is out of the overflow of the heart that the mouth speaks" (Tedd and Margy Tripp, Instructing a Child's Heart, 53).

Friday, October 17, 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008

This is a must listen to. This song is absolutely saturated with Scriptural truth.

His Forever
Jesus, friend of sinners
Loved me ’ere I knew Him
Drew me with His cords of love
Tightly bound me to Him
’Round my heart still closely twined
The ties that none can sever
For I am His and He is mine
Forever and forever

Jesus, friend of sinners
A crown of thorns You wore for me
Bruised for my transgressions
Pierced for my iniquities
The wrath of God that I deserved
Was poured out on the Innocent
He took my place, my soul to save
Now I am His forever

Jesus, friend of sinners
I love to tell the story
Redeeming love has been my theme
And will be when in glory
Not death nor life nor anything
Can ever separate me
O love that will not let me go
Yes, I am His forever
C.S. Lewis writes:
"The safest road to hell is the gradual one--the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Distinctives of Sunday Morning Worship Gatherings

When we corporately gather together on Sunday mornings, it is our endeavor for the service to be marked by the following distinctives:

  1. Rejoicing in the Salvation of God

It is abundantly clear from the Scriptures that one is to approach God in worship with joyous praise (Ps 33:1-2). To be sure, a genuine believer who has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit will want to gather with other like-minded believers to corporately worship God together (Heb 10:24-25). One of the main purposes of our gathering together is to rejoice together that God has saved us “by his own purpose and grace” (2 Tim 1:9). He has given salvation to us as a free gift (Rom 5:8, 6:23; Eph 2:8-9). This is to produce joy inexpressible (1 Pet 1:8) and sincere gratitude to God for the work He has wrought in our lives (Ps 95:2; Col 4:2). Therefore, we make it our ambition to rejoice and remember the free gift of salvation God has freely given to us sinners whereby we may approach His throne with boldness, confidence because of the shed blood of the Spotless Lamb of God in our stead (1 John 2:1-2; Heb 9:14, 26-28; 10:12-14).

  1. Reading the Word of God

We take the divine command revealed in God’s Word to “read the Word” very seriously (1 Tim 4:13). This has been a practice all throughout the history of God’s people; Moses took the book of the Law and read it (Ex 24:7), Joshua read from the same book of the Law (Josh 8:34), Shaphan the scribe read the book of the Law before Josiah (2 Kings 22:8, 10, 16), Ezra read from the book of the Law (Neh 8:3, 8, 18), and even Jesus, God Himself, stood to read from the Law in the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-21). This is a practice which has been mandated of all church leaders in the local church (1 Tim 4:13; 1 Thess 5:27). Moreover, the illiteracy of many churchgoers today requires that the pastor and elders make it a regular practice to read from the Bible publically when all are gathered together (Neh 8:5-6).

  1. Preaching the Word of God

This is the simple result of the reading of the Word of God. It is the climax of the worship service when God’s people sit under the faithful, fearless, and accurate preaching and teaching of God’s Word. Sadly, the preaching of God’s Word is a lost commodity in contemporary pulpits. However, God is not without a witness. We resolve to be faithful men who study the text (1 Tim 4:15-16), rightly divide the Word (2 Tim 2:15), faithfully apply the meaning (Neh 8:8), and exhort people to live Godly lives in response to the hearing of what God says in His Word (2 Tim 4:2). It is our conviction that the preaching of the Word of God is the highest form of worship humans can attain. Therefore, it is our mandate—that is, we can do no other—to make the primary aspect of our worship services the proclamation of what God has to say through the pages of Scripture (1 Tim 4:14-16; Heb 4:12).

  1. Praying with Confidence in God

We unhesitatingly believe that prayer is effective (James 5:16) and that God hears our prayers (Neh 1:5-6; Ps 4:1). We also believe that we are to pray with confidence knowing that God will answer our prayers in a way that would bring Him the utmost glory (Matt 6:10; John 17:5). We are to pray for the body of Christ (Eph 1:15-16; Phil 1:7-9; Col 1:3-4), for the edification and spiritual growth of the saints (Col 1:9-12; Eph 1:17-18; Phil 1:9-11), for the gospel to spread and save souls (2 Thess 3:1-2; Col 4:3; Eph 6:19-20). It is our commitment to pray with acclamation of God’s Sovereignty (Eph 3:20-21), with thanksgiving for His grace (Ps 28:7; 56:12; Rom 1:8), with dependence upon His grace and strength to enable us to live upright and Godly lives (Heb 13:5-6; Eph 5:18; Col 3:16-17).

  1. Evangelizing with Trust in God

We unswervingly believe that it is God alone who brings lost, dead, wretched sinners to Himself for only God is able to give life to the dead (Eph 2:1-3; 2 Tim 1:9; 1 Pet 1:3-5; Rom 5:8). Therefore, we reckon that our responsibility lies in the faithful proclamation of the gospel and the urging of people to repent for salvation (Acts 2:38; 2 Cor 7:10; 1 Cor 9:16). We know that God will judge us according to our work in proclaiming the gospel to lost sinners (1 Cor 3:7-9). However, we will faithfully evangelize the lost with an utter dependence upon God to take the foolishness of the message preached to save His own whom he has redeemed from before the foundation of the world (1 Cor 1:21; Rev 13:8; 17:8; Eph 1:4; John 17:24). Our commitment to God bringing in His elect does not minimize or halt our evangelistic determination; rather, it spurs us on and encourages us all the more in understanding that God uses us as His instruments to take His message to His people for the bringing them to salvation in Jesus Christ (2 Tim 2:21; Gal 1:1).

Sunday, October 12, 2008

This week we had the privilege of having seven Master's College students come to our church and minister alongside us as we had many tasks to accomplish. Activities included canvasing local neighborhoods around the church for addresses so we could make a file and send out a church mailing, taking lunch to our high school youth on Friday, a beach soccer night, a game night, a movie night, visiting two nursing homes and singing and sharing the gospel with the elderly, and reroofing part of our gymnasium.

It was a busy week--but a profitable one! They also formed a sort-of "mini choir" for church this morning and we did some TMC chapel songs as we led our congregation in worship. It was a great time of fellowship.

Praise God for the Master's College and its commitment to biblical truth in every area of life. Our church was tremendously blessed to have had these college students serve us this week!

Ephesians 1:15-17 15 For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you, and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

John Owen writes:

The business at hand for the sinner must be to consider his serious
condition. He needs to apply himself toward conversion. God stirs our conscience
and disquiets our heart that we might recognize our need of Him. Seeking
mortification of sin just to quiet the soul and find relief from the torment of
the conscience, all the while neglecting to deal with the root cause of sin, is
a result of self-love.
Source: John Owen, Mortification of Sin, 44.

Monday, October 6, 2008

This week I am in Mobile, Alabama for the Expositor's Conference here at Christ Fellowship Baptist Church. Last night, my dad and I had the privilege of going to Dr. Lawson's home and having dinner with him, talking with him, and asking him questions for about 3 hours. It was a delightful time.

Now it's game time. Over the next 48 hours or so, I will hear about 8 sermons on how to preach narrative from the Book of Acts--how appropriate because I'm currently preaching through Acts on Sunday mornings at my beloved church.

Praise God for this conference. I'll try to update when I can!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

This is part 2 of our "Ministry Distinctives" series at Christ Community Church:

The Divine Perspective on Preaching

I endeavor to reveal four aspects of the preaching ministry Christ Community Church’s youth ministry.

The preaching of the word of God is:

  1. Powerful

It is our conviction that when the Word of God is preached it comes forth with power—divine power (1 Thess 2:13). In other words, when the Bible speaks, God speaks (Ex 17:14; Jer 30:2). For this reason it is powerful and never returns void (Isa 55:11). It is our position that the Word of God faithfully taught (2 Tim 2:15) is the only means by which a person can powerfully and irresistibly be convicted of sin (Acts 2:37) and brought to repentance in Jesus Christ. This power, of course, comes through the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8; 1 Thess 1:5).

  1. Persuasive

It is our conviction that when the Word of God is preached it must have an element of persuasiveness inherent in the delivery (Acts 17:4; 19:26). The preacher is to devote himself to his sermon preparation so that he speaks with persuasion (Acts 28:24). This results from the fact that the message with which the preacher has been entrusted with is an eternal life and eternal death issue (John 6:68). He must preach with persuasion and implement arguments as to why the listeners should act (Acts 2:38) and repent of known sins and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation (Acts 4:12).

  1. Practical

It is our conviction that when the Word of God is preached it must be practical so that it takes the meaning of the text and specifically applies it to the life-situation of the hearer so as to produce change (Neh 8:8; Ezra 7:10). This is to enact obedience to James’s command when he says to be a “doer of the Word and not merely a hearer” of the Word (James 1:22). This means that he must give not only specific application but also specific implementation helps. Part of the preacher’s responsibility is to teach and explain the meaning of the text (2 Tim 2:15), apply the text to the current, modern-day situation, and to help the listener understand how this text applies to his/her life and what specific changes need to be made (Acts 2:37-41; Acts 16:31).

  1. Passionate

It is our conviction that when the Word of God is preached it must be proclaimed with passion and pathos (Jonah 3:4). A boring sermon does not exist. Furthermore, a boring preacher is incomprehensible. An unpassionate preacher is surely not to be entrusted with the divine oracles of God. Rather, the preacher heralding the life-altering message that Jesus Christ is the Savior of sin and that an individual can stand before the Holy and Righteous Judge one day perfectly spotless because of the sacrificial and substitutionary death of Jesus Christ must flow through a man who passionately believes what he is preaching (1 Thess 1:5; Acts 7:51-55). If, the preacher is lacking in passion, then one has reason to wonder if he is void of this salvation (Phil 4:4). The preaching of the Word of God is to be captivating, passionate and full of pathos (1 Tim 4:11-12, 15-16).

I never knew this but here is a typical order of service at the Metropolitan Tabernacle:
  • Silent Meditation
  • Pastoral prayer
  • Hymn
  • Bible reading with comments
  • Long (pastoral) prayer
  • Hymn
  • Sermon
  • Benediction

Simpler than we find in many churches today! There is more prayer and Scripture reading in that service than many of our churches today. What a great example for us to emulate.

Source: Drummond, Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1992).

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