Christmas

December 11, 2008

The “Holiday Season” is in full swing.  Santa pictures at the mall, Christmas music on the radio, lights on houses, and the wonderful “Christmas rush” in retail stores.  

But let’s not miss the real reason we celebrate Christmas.  It’s not about going deep into debt every year to get better gifts for your kids than the family down the street; it’s not about goodwill for your fellow man.

Instead of worshipping ourselves and our gifts, lets focus on the real gift of Christmas – God robed in flesh, God among us, perfection in a temporal shell,  sent to be crushed so that God’s righteous wrath would be satisfied according to the Law that would make a way for all who would believe in Him, who were chosen before the foundation of the world.

Thinking, reading, studying about these incredible truths is an event for any and every day of the year, not just during the month of December.  All of the gift giving could go away, all of the decorations aren’t necessary, the music could go silent, and there would still be Christmas, because of Christ.

Many of these things are traditions for a lot of us, and that’s fine as long as we give proper place to God and the culmination of his redemptive plan this season.

May God give you an incredible Christmas, one that is centered around Him.

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America the Godless

November 11, 2008

My good friend Jeff Hill had a post on his blog the other day about the current situation of our country including the housing market, the presidential election, and the general moral compass of most americans.  A lot of people criticized him for his harsh speech, and some of those accusations were valid based on Scripture.  But also he is frequently misunderstood and that’s why I have encouraged him to write another post further clarifying what he is saying. 

But this post of his brought the issue to my mind: is America a Godly nation?

At this point, you may be thinking of your definition of Godly and comparing America to it.  Let me offer one that should be obvious:  seeking after God, submissive to God, searching the Scriptures to better understand God, living God’s principles.

It’s based on this definition that I say “no.”  America is not a Godly nation, and it continues to get worse and worse.  Yes, there were some bans on same-sex marriage passed recently in a few states, and there are a whole lot of churches, but there’s not a lot of people living out their so-called Christianity.  If the average American were to read some of the blogs I read on a daily basis (and my blog as well) they would be angered by what they see as a twisting of Scripture or a misrepresentation of Christianity.  But the truth is,

America’s so-called Christianity is not REAL Christianity at all.

The pseudo-christian religion that the majority of Americans embrace is a fallacy.  It is based on man-centered theology that sees a small bit of goodness in everyone that allows us to “choose God,” and continues to condemn those who tell the truth as “extremists.”  Islam is embraced as “a religion of peace” when those who adhere most correctly to the Qu’ran are flying planes into our buildings.

There is a remnant of believers, as there is in every country, known as the true Israel according to Scripture, that seeks God and His purposes for their lives, because Jesus Christ died for them and supernaturally regenerated them for His glory.

America is a secularized nation.  Some of the values of the Constitution are scriptural, but a Christian’s highest allegiance goes to Christ alone. 

But God has it all under control- control has always belonged to God- free to love whom He chooses, free to glorify Himself through any circumstances including the death and just judgment of the wicked.

But don’t call America a Godly nation.  Because you’re redefining the word Godly.  And whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re slandering God by misrepresenting Him.

God in times of suffering

November 5, 2008

I was just thinking about something, and I thought it would be a good thing to share.

When suffering comes, which we know will happen based on Jesus’ statements in the four gospels, what we believe about who God is and whether or not He is sovereign will be evident in our actions. 

I can personally speak to this, because we are going through some things as a family, and the only option that I know will bring me peace is spending time with God in prayer and bible study.  Not that I haven’t tried other distractions to take my mind off of things, but that I honestly have no other sane choice but to trust that God will get us through these times and that His word is true.

I also know that God is not a reactive God, wringing His hands in heaven because something happened that He didn’t expect.  Nor is He a passive God, setting things in motion and either too weak or apathetic to do anything about it.

Suffering is the forge that God uses to conform His children into the image of His Son.  Yes, it’s painful and undesirable, but it achieves something, it’s not a random occurrence. 

And you know, when God makes us more like Himself, we experience joy like no other- joy that even the angels in heaven will never experince.  More importantly, we get a small taste of what it’s like to experience God forever!

So let us persevere and be encouraged as God’s children.

Update

October 27, 2008

Things have been doing pretty well lately.  I’ve started a new Bible study, well a new way I’ve decided to study would be more appropriate.  I’m going through it from cover to cover and writing notes about things that I read.  It’s an effort on my part to better understand the context of the entire Bible, because so much of the New Testament has links to the Old Testament, and vice versa regarding prophecy.

So my goal is to do three chapters a day, which should be attainable, if God is willing. 

I’m also going to be continuing to read “The Acceptable Sacrifice” so expect a future post on that.

Until next time…

Whose Kingdom?

October 20, 2008

Jesus modeled a prayer for us that includes the words, “Your kingdom come.”  But whose kingdom are we really working towards?  Are we totally submitted to God and His sovereign rule, or do we seek our own interests, our own kingdom?  I heard a message that totally humbled me on this topic.  It can be found here: http://www.smbconline.com/guestaudio (it should be at the top)

Another interesting thing you may hear in this sermon is a perspective on youth ministry that I haven’t heard before.  Washer says that youth ministry actually originated in the 1960’s in the “generation gap” and that the Bible teaches that young people need to be around older people to learn how to live a Godly lifestyle.  So we should all worship and learn together!  Isn’t that a revolutionary concept?  Maybe not, since most of history backs up that viewpoint.

But I digress.  I would encourage you to listen to this sermon and post what you think about it.  It has a lot of solid Biblical information about marriage, as well.

Sufficient?

October 13, 2008

According to the Bible, God is sufficient to meet all of our needs, and Christ’s death was sufficient for the sins of God’s people.  Those two statements are incredible if we even try to comprehend them. 

But what if we verbally or outwardly claim that our God is sufficient, but live our lives as if He isnt?  The book of 1 John says that if you say you belong to God but yet you live otherwise without sensitivity to sin and continued repentance that you are a liar!

If we truly believe that Christ is sufficient, and that true satisfaction of the real and lasting kind comes only from God, then we need to live a life committed to fighting to rest in it.  Since we as human beings are naturally sinful and wayward without the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit, this is not something we can attain outside of heaven.  But it is a Christian’s duty to continue to press on towards 100% conformity to Christ.  Jesus was clear that following Him would cost us everything.

One of the marks of a true Christian is a progression away from the things of this natural world and a progression towards the things of God: prayer, good works, evangelism, healthy doctine, etc.  We become more and more like Jesus and less like the world.

I firmly believe that when we as God’s people live other than our calling, we grieve God, and make a mockery of the faith in the midst of an unbelieving world.  Bringing dishonor to the holy name of God and disobedience to God’s Word are both sin and unbecoming of those who have been bought with a price.

So how do we practically live this out?  Here’s what I’ve been thinking about:

When we’re tempted to sin, we are to remind ourselves that God is sufficient, and that he withholds from us no good thing based on the God-breathed authority of Scripture, and to deny His sufficiency denies the very foundations of our faith! 

As John Piper wisely said, “God is fully glorified in us when we are fully satisfied in Him.”

Words to live by.

October 2, 2008

I was reading http://www.inplainsite.org/html/how_we_got_our_bible.html and one of the quotes regarding the inspiration of the Bible was in  2 Timothy 3:16-17; these are familiar verses to many.  What I’ve been trying to do is to read the entire chapter to at least get the immediate context for the verses.  In chapter 2 of 2 Timothy, there is an incredible part in verses 24 onward:

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.  God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”  (vs. 24-28)

I know that I have so much to learn about the wisdom of God and the narrow road of following Christ.  But this I do know: these verses not only encourage me because they reinforce what I have heard in discussion with other believers regarding our attitude towards the lost, but these verses also convict me because I know that I am not always patient with my opponents. 

Our call as Christians is to lovingly beckon our opponents to the truth, because as these verses say, God may grant them repentance that leads to them understanding the truth of Scripture- a truth that frees them from false doctrine and the grasp of the devil!

If you, as the reader, believe anything on this blog is written harshly, know this- I am wholly committed to communicating God’s Word, and also passionate about defending the faith against false doctrine.  I encourage you to pray for me, that God may cause me to always adhere to this verse when composing a message for this blog.  And part of my passion indeed is justified, as seen here:

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”  2 Timothy 4:1-2

Let me just start by saying that I am the sole breadwinner in my family, as I believe that Scripture clearly states that a godly woman’s place is at home.  That being said, God has allowed us to make it through this situation so far, albeit with some help from family at times.  This economic crisis, as it’s called by the press, has definitely hit home for us.  Business is slow at work, and gas prices are erratic at best.

But is it really in our best interest for America to recover?  Will it only further reinforce a humanistic belief that adaptation and survival of the human species will continue despite all adversity?  Could God use a financial meltdown to not only demonstrate His power and sovereignty, but the inability of man to succeed without God’s common grace?

Here’s what I know:  God says that He works everything together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8).   Whatever happens, it is the plan of a sovereign God for the good of His people.  That is what comforts me during this time of uncertainty.

If you belong to God, this is a comforting word.

The Failure of Evangelicalism

September 27, 2008

Let’s look at Matthew 7.

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.

In America, I would venture to say that most people profess to be Christians.  Most people would say they believe in God and Jesus.  But if we look at these verses, we know that so many of them are lying.  Not a popular truth, but truth nonetheless.  According to verse 21, its not whether or not you profess to know Christ, but whether or not you do the will of the Father.  Most of these people who profess simply have no works to undergird their so-called faith, and as it says in James, “faith without works is dead.”

Jesus said that “the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”  We see an illustration of this in verses 21-23 where people are standing before God, people that professed to be Christians during their lifetime, and He says “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”  But God knows His sheep and they know His voice and follow Him (John 10)

We live in an age of easy believe-ism, where the entire gospel message is shrunken down into “four spiritual laws” or the “abc’s of the gospel” as some kind of method to produce more conversions.  Pastors and teachers who teach this will be under greater condemnation for preaching this false gospel.  And as if this wasn’t enough, the majority of Evangelicals have labeled those who actually believe Scriptural truth about God’s sovereign grace as heretics and fatalists!  There is so much resistance to the truth because so many people that call themselves Christians allow God to be sovereign over everything except their salvation.

This literally breaks my heart.   I humbly realize that without the Holy Spirit changing my heart of stone to a heart of flesh and regenerating my sinful mind I would be just like the people I’m talking about.  I would still be resistant to the truth.  And to be honest, I can think of no real reason why God would have chosen me except for His Glory.  I bring nothing substantial to the table at all.  I am a wretched sinner in desperate need of God’s sustaining grace every day.

I encourage everyone reading this to not be blinded by traditions, but to search out what the Bible actually says about God’s freedom to choose and love those whom He wants to, namely His people, the true Israel (see Romans 9).  Examine your faith according to Scripture to see if it measures up- the book of 1 John is filled with tests that only a true Christian can pass.  As it says in this verse above, “you will know them by their fruits.”

Why should I vote?

September 25, 2008

This is something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.  I understand that as a Christian, I am to be subject to authorities, because God has set them up, and if I were to resist said authorities I would be resisting God Himself.  But there’s no law that says that everyone has to vote.  If there were, I’m certain that a big percentage of our country would be lawbreakers on election day and subject to arrest.

So why should I vote?  I am in a crisis of conscience.  Each candidate has certain policies that I like and are biblical, but when you look at the whole candidate there’s things that automatically disqualify them in my eyes.

McCain is pro-life and supports the Bible’s definition of marriage, but insists on keeping the United States in a war against Islam that is bankrupting our country, so I cannot vote for him.

Obama’s social policies seem to have a desire to improve our country and his platform is that we need to change the way we do things as Americans, both things I agree with.  But because he is a liberal and pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage I cannot vote for him.

Plus the main thing that’s easy to forget as we watch the news is that our nation does not need a better president to save us from our situation, but for God to move in the hearts of the American people.

Reader, I’m interested in your opinion!