Solus Christus Sola Scriptura Sola Gratia Sola Fide Soli Deo Gloria Solus Christus Sola Scriptura Sola Gratia Sola Fide Soli Deo Gloria Solus Christus Sola Scriptura Sola Gratia Sola Fide Soli Deo Gloria Christ Alone Scripture Alone Grace Alone Faith Alone Glory to God Alone Christ Alone Scripture Alone Grace Alone Faith Alone Glory to God Alone Christ Alone Scripture Alone Grace Alone Faith Alone Glory to God Alone

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Return to the King

It seems that I've been coming across a lot of articles lately about the man-centered approach of emerging churches.

The church is not a company to be run according to man's opinions or by a popularity survey. The church has one leader, one King of Kings, one head and that is the Lord Jesus.

Current church methods, whether knowingly or not seek to replace the rule of Jesus and God's Word in our lives and are focusing more and more on worldy methods, conforming themselves to the world instead of transforming the world.

I came across this "worship" service at NewSpring, where Perry Noble preaches. I mention him for two reasons; a lot of pastors look up to him as an example of doing things right and secondly, it's a sad example of how some churches cater to the culture. In this instance, one of the singers sings "I've Got Friends In Low Places," which was voted on as one of the songs that they would sing during the service. I pray that they would seek God's face and find that they have a friend in a higher place.

Modern apporaches say that man adds to the church daily through relational methods. Churches are caring what the "unchurched" dislike about the church, then applying the results and statistics to determine how the church should be run. This is not Biblical. The Bible says in Acts 2:47, that the "... LORD added to the church daily such as should be saved."

In Psalm 127:1-2, it says "Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat -- for he grants sleep to those he loves"

Too many churches today are run like corporations with pastors sitting at the top like a CEO. God's Word gives way to cultural relevance, opinion polls and entertainment.

It's time that we realize the fact that the church already has a boss. What it needs are "employees". The Bible says that the fields are ripe for harvest, but the laborers are few. That statement is very evident in some of our "modern" churches.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Clinging to the Feet of Jesus - A Perspective

I just read a great post on my friend, Steve's blog. I left the some of the following as comments, but wanted to post them here, too as it helps to put things in perspective both regarding my life while is also serves to remind me of God's love and the loss and suffering that He endured for me.

God is truly a just and merciful God. He does know loss and it's amazing for me to think about.

I pray that the Lord enables me to be able to cling to His feet and convey the power of the Truth. May He help me to be able to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope that lies within me.

In thinking about that post and my reply, not a day goes by that God doesn't bring to my attention the fact that He is a loving father. At the end of the end when I come home, I am barraged by 4 wonderful children who come running and cling to me to grab ahold of any part of me that they can; an arm, a neck, a leg or a foot. As this goes on, the littlest one pushes and fights her way through the others until she stands in front of me with upstretched arms for me to pick her up and hold her. What an incredible display of how we should be towards our Heavenly Father.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The 8th Wonder of the World

How does a man in a clean white dress shirt show up for BBQ and leave with a clean white shirt?

A group of us from Sunday School got together for one of our Men's Grub Night. One of the guys with us is a good friend and a very neat eater. He showed up in a white dress shirt and left in a white dress shirt. He didn't even have to roll up his sleeves.

I, on the other hand, left and even my pants had BBQ stains on them. R.L., I acknowledge your BBQ skills!

I know that some may read this and think, what does this have to do with anything? It has to do with a lot - with doing life together. It's a group of guys getting together for some good conversation and good food.

Monday, April 23, 2007

A View From the Big Picture

I came across this today. It was posted to one of the Yahoo Groups that I am a member of. It always helps to see little things like this to make me realize that we are only here for a season. Life is not about you and it's not about me. In the grand scheme of eternity, it won't matter who won what and who hurt whom.

Life is but a vapor. It would help us all to see life through these glasses.

Remember when you were a child, and you found yourself rebelling against your parents in one way or another? You would think you were smart, and then a reality check would set in.

Your parents would say, look at me, are you listening? Look into my eyes. I am the parent, you are the child.

Positioning. Sets the record straight doesn't it?

We knew then we had to line up with their rules or suffer for it. And later on in life, we came to recognize how wise their rules were, and what we had suffered in life when we rebelled against what we knew were the right things to do.

One of the biggest problems in people's spiritual lives today is their focus. It is on everything but Christ. They don't have time for him. They don't have time for His Word, or to praise Him. They seem to only run to him in a hurry with a quick prayer God help me, or thank you for the food and then they are on their way.

Their spiritual discipline is lacking to the degree that when hard times hit, and the storms of life batter them, they are utterly unprepared to face these difficulties with
any degree of spiritual wisdom or guidance. And they are beaten down quickly, and discouraged, and often question God, when in fact, they are the ones who walked away from Him.

They are neglecting the needs of their soul.

Let me tell you something my friends that I have learned over the years. Neglecting your soul is the most harmful thing you can do. It affects every relationship, every decision you make. It sets up a degree of worry, frustration, and depression that you would not feel, if you TRULY believed God was the Father and you were the child and lived by that faith filled hope and decree.

I am a child of the King of Kings, I am beloved, protected, forgiven, full of hope, full of strength in His name, covered by the blood of the Lamb, emboldened by the power and strength of His word, a soldier in the army of God.

Where are your eyes this morning? Are you happy? Do you feel peace? Are you overwhelmed with your life? Do you feel you are drifting without direction and life is making little sense, and you are just not happy with it?

Obviously something you are doing or not doing is not nurturing your soul. Time is an investment. Your relationship with Christ is vital. It serves you eternally, it sets up whether you will be happy or sad. It sets up whether you will enjoy life and invest it well or spend it in regrets and recriminations and self doubt. You have to take it seriously.

You only have this one life. Don't waste it or fill it with regrets or despair. What a waste of your time and precious days. My friends, get on your knees today, take time for God and ask Him to show you how to live successfully and wisely, beyond your own wisdom and understanding.

He will guard you, guide you, strengthen you, love you fervently, embolden you by the power of His might, comfort you and guide you into all truth.

What more could one want?

Then why in the world are you neglecting it?


Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Lost Coin & The Lost Sheep

Today marked the second week since we felt God calling us to a different church. Last week, we took the "week off" but this week we had a lesson planned for the kids. I told Georgie that we were going to "home church." That evoked a quizzical look from from the kids. That all soon faded as we began.

The lesson was one the parable of the Lost Coin and the parable of the Lost Sheep. We opened with some songs that the kids know, then went into the lesson where the kids were really receptive and asked questions.

We closed in prayer (thanks, Megan!) and had an worksheet activity for the older 3 children and a few coloring pages for Juliana.

We also have a verse to memorize for next week.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I'm not really sure what to say in this post. I was just listening to this song, which give such great insight onto our struggles and how to respond.

I guess right now that... I don't know...

I was sure by now
That You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as You mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry
You raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can't find You

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

Monday, April 16, 2007

God's Loan

This afternoon, our family went to the viewing of Rachel Olerud, a little girl who recently died of cancer. It was an emotional experience for everyone that attended and the line waiting to pay their respects seem to strech on forever, providing a testament to the lives that this little girl touched.

As we approached the podium to sign in, there was a stack of cards printed with a poem called "God's Loan". As I read it, I couldn't help but think of my dear children and how blessed that I am in that God allows me to be a part of these wonderful kids lives.

The poem that was printed was...

God's Loan

"I'll lend to you for a little time,
A child of mine," He said,
"For you to love the while she lives
And mourn for when she's dead."

"It may be six or seven years
Or twenty-two or three, But
will you till I call her back,
Take care of her for me?"

"She'll bring her charms to gladden you
And should her stay be brief,
You'll have these precious memories
As solace for your grief."

"I cannot promise she will stay
Since all from earth return.
But there are lessons taught down there
I want this child to learn."

"I've looked this world over,
In my search for teachers true.
In the crowds that throng
life's land, I have selected you."

"Now will you give her all your
love Not think the labour vain,
Nor hate me when I come to call
To take her back again?"

It seems to me I heard them say,
"Dear Lord, thy will be done.
For all the joys a child shall bring,
The risk of grief we'll run."

"We'll shelter her with tenderness,
We'll love her while we may,
And for the happiness we've known
Forever grateful stay."

"And should the angels call for him
Much sooner than we've planned,
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes
And try to understand."

Source/Author Unknown

"Let the little children come to me and do not forbid them; for such is the Kingdom of God."

- Mark 10:14

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Straying from the Gospel

The following article was posted today on World Net Daily. It takes a truthful approach to the Emerging Church and corresponds to what I've said in the past about this dangerous movement.

The late economist Peter Drucker said a few years ago: "Every few hundred years in Western history there occurs a sharp transformation. ... Fifty years later, there is a new world. And the people born then cannot even imagine the world in which their grandparents lived."

I believe we are witnessing a modern effort to transform the church into an institution that experiences broad cultural acceptance. This effort, known as the Emerging Church, is a much-talked about movement that has brought new challenges into the Church of Jesus Christ.

The so-called Emerging Church movement was formed out of frustration with dead and irrelevant evangelicalism. The problem is that it has decided to modernize and re-create the church so as not to offend sinners. This renders virtually meaningless the life-changing message of the Gospel.

John 8:32 tells us: "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." This is not truth that can be modified to fit cultural whims; it is as relevant today as it was when John was inspired by God to write those words around A.D. 70.

However, the website of The Leadership Network, the headquarters of the Emerging (or sometimes Emergent) Church movement, states that their outlook on "truth" offers a "flexible approach to theology whereby individual differences in belief and morality are accepted within reason."

The site further states that members wish to "reanalyze the Bible against the context into which it was written."

This is very dangerous territory.

Such a view opens perilous avenues that enable suggestions that Jesus is not the Christ, that the Bible is not inspired by God Himself and that there are ways to heaven other than through Jesus. Such notions counter the very fabric of the Gospel.

In this era of diversity and political correctness, we can ill afford to weaken the very foundations of the Gospel.

But the Emerging Church has determined that core doctrine and theology are sometimes roadblocks to converting the lost.

This is the epitome of contradiction.

Further, Emerging Church groups have decided that profanity and vulgar talk from the pulpit and elsewhere is acceptable because it is relevant to the culture. Such teachings counter the biblical teachings that Christians are "new creatures in Christ."

Another problem of the Emerging Church is that its leaders, who no doubt started out with good intentions, have very little theological training. Their emphasis has been on appearances. Many of its leaders have been to "conferences" that tell them how to do things, but they don't know why they are doing them. Thus, they have a little bit of knowledge, but no wisdom.

Dr. James McDonald spoke my feelings when he said: "I resonate deeply with much of the criticism flowing from the Emerging Church against current Western Christianity, but I am deeply grieved to see the emergent remedies accepted so uncritically by those who feel gratified by the accuracy of their critiques."

While I have no problem with the church adapting to the culture, we must ensure that we remain painstakingly true to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that we remain obedient servants to His truths.

As Jesus stated: "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me …" (John 14:21).

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Balaam Rides Again

I read an interesting story from Steve Maxwell this week about his family. They are homeschoolers and people were telling them that they could see a difference in their children. He credits it to not having a television in the house.

The story follows.

This week Joseph and John worked alongside a number of other men pouring the basement floor of our house. The owner of the business doing the concrete work is saved and had asked if our boys could help because he was shorthanded. He said he had also spoken with his men, and they would be careful of their language. It wasn't something I would consider for any real length of time, but for a portion of a day and considering I'd be around some of the time, I agreed.

At one point while I was observing the progress of the work, one of the men spoke with me briefly. He was very complimentary of the boys and asked what we had done to raise boys like that. I said there were three very important aspects in our child raising. First and foremost is the Lord Jesus Christ in their lives. Second, is the Word of God. Third, is that the children don't watch any TV or movies.

He looked at me and said, "Now that is pretty incredible. No TV! It makes sense though." This man is a believer and knows many young men who are believers. He saw something different in our boys. I'm the first to say that we are nothing special. However, removing bad influences from children is very important so as not to quench the Word working in their lives.

Sunday I had another conversation, and it was somewhat similar. I was speaking with a gentleman who has lived a few more years than I have. He expressed his concern regarding how worldly some believers were that he had had contact with the previous week. His heart was deeply grieved about it, and he wondered why our children weren't like that.

I had roughly the same explanation for him. When I attributed credit to the Lord Jesus, being in the Word daily, and NO TV, he started scratching his chin and said that had to be it. He began comparing his now-grown children and evaluating a period of time when he didn't have a TV to later in life when he did. He said he could see a remarkable difference, now that he was thinking about it.

"And the LORD spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye are passed over Jordan into the land of Canaan; Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places" (Numbers 33:50-52). As I read this passage recently, I noticed how the Lord was very specific in His instructions for when they conquered Canaan. They were to drive out the inhabitants, destroy their pictures, their idols, and places of idol worship.

Pictures are very powerful in how they can influence, and God said the Israelites were to get rid of the pictures. God knew the effect it would have on the Israelites, and that is why the pictures were to be destroyed. Those pictures would have been nothing compared to the sizzle of today's TV programs.

Yet God said destroy them because He wanted to protect His children from being
pulled to the world.

That is why my heart breaks for families who choose to watch TV or movies and
think that it won't harm them. Our world is in love with flesh, and today's
clothing is designed to show off as much as possible. From my discussions with
parents, immodesty is pandemic in the churches. Why is there not an outcry about
it? I'm confident it is because that is what is being portrayed on TV, and since
that is the norm, everyone is willing to accept it. If the immodesty was to go
beyond what was on TV, then there would be an outcry, but as long as it goes no
further, it is accepted.

A while ago, I had another startling reminder of the power of influence. I
had some interactions with a few young, homeschooled adults whom I had not seen
in years. Previously, they had been conservative in their dress and behavior.
Yet, their appearance and actions had now changed drastically, and in my
opinion, was very worldly. How could this be? It is all about the influence in
their lives.

For these young people, it had to do with the others with whom they were
interacting. The change didn't happen overnight, but in time, they had begun to
look like their friends. We can be sure that our children are going to want to
emulate those by whom they are impressed.

TV, subtly but definitively, grabs the hearts of our children. That is one
reason why the TV is such a powerful influence. There is a reason why
advertisers spend billions of dollars for TV ads. They work! They influence the
people who watch the commercials. The same is true regarding the TV shows
themselves. Children identify with certain stars and then want to wear similar
clothes (or unclothes), hair styles, and model their speech and actions. The
parents then wonder what happened to their child. Why does the child no longer
listen to Mom and Dad?

As we travel we meet families who are not worldly, and their lives radiate
the Lord Jesus. I haven't asked every one of them, but for those I've asked,
they don't watch TV or movies. Is it a coincidence? I don't think so. Getting
the Beast out of the home is a wonderful first step, and it will take courage.
With the Beast out, it is important that you are in the Word as a family every
day. Structure your evening around your time in the Word. It will become the
best time of the day.

Be cautious even if you don't watch TV and movies in your family because
vicariously, through friends who do watch it, your children can be pulled to the
world's standards for clothing, entertainment, attitudes, and heart focus. If
you have chosen to eliminate the influence of a TV in your home, but your
children are spending time with those who are following the world's path, they
may still be significantly moved that way as well.

Balaam couldn't curse the Israelites (Numbers 23:11), but he wrecked havoc on
them by suggesting the Moabite woman lure the Israelite men away. "Behold, these
caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass
against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the
congregation of the LORD" (Numbers 31:16). Seeking pleasure did what an army
couldn't do. In Numbers 25 we see that 24,000 Israelites were killed by plague
because they followed after the Moabite women and were led into idolatry.

In the same way today, the children of the King, those who are to reach the
world for Jesus, have been effectively slain or hamstrung so that there is no
power. TV and the worldly, entertainment mindset it promotes such as Super
games, pizza parties, bowling parties, ski trips, lock-downs, and
movies have won the hearts of God's people. Yes, Balaam rides again.

The other day, the kids were telling me about a problem with the upstairs TV (we have 2; one upstairs and 1 downstairs) and immediately the words, "Great! I was looking to get rid of at least one of the TVs."

Slowly, but surely, we are weaning them off of TV altogether and turn off the one that we do have whenever we can.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Hosanna in the highest! He is risen!

For believers, Easter is the highlight of the year as we celebrate the finished work of Christ on the cross and His glorious resurrection, securing access to the Father for all who believe!

What a glorious thing it is to know of our awesome God's love for us and the sacifice that He willingly made of his precious Son.

Today is the day. Now is the perfect opportunity to communicate the reason for the eternal hope we have with friends and family.

Hosanna in the highest! He is risen!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Church of Cultural Relevance

A friend of mine just put up this post. It has some really great insight. It ties in with one of my earlier posts on the tendency that some modern churches have towards "fluff" preaching when what we really need is the Word of God.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Wondrous Cross

Today is Good Friday and as I sit here and think of what happened 2000 years ago, it really makes me think and wonder about this day in history, or should I say HIStory.

It's Spring and traditionally, it's supposed to be warming up, maybe some rain, etc. In direct contradiction to this, it was snowing here today. Yes, snowing! OK, so they were flurries, but still!

Today, the high in Jerusalem was 77°. I know my thoughts don't sound like they are going anywhere, but in thinking about today, I've just starting thinking and wondering what the day was like when they crucified Jesus. I'm talking about more than the weather, but that just added another detail to my thoughts.

From His condemnation to "It is finished," came from the lips of Christ, the day was one of trial, tribulation and torture and yet we call it "good". In God's ultimate love, He willingly layed His life down as a living sacrifice for me... and you. It's hard to think about the events of that day and to think that Jesus went through all of that for me. I was the one who nailed Him to the cross with my sin.

To quote Isaac Watts,

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

I love the "modern" addition as well...

Oh the wonderful cross
Oh the wonderful cross
Bids me come and die
And find that I may truly live

Oh the wonderful cross
Oh the wonderful cross
All who gather here
By grace draw near
And bless Your name

Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for you everlasting love and mercy and grace.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

No, Daddy. That's Jesus

Below is a video that my wife introduced me to after receiving it from a friend. It is really awesome and is a must see!

Before listening to this, PLEASE pause the song, "Revolution" that is currently playing by going to the bottom of this page and clicking "pause".

By the way, if you like the "Revolution" song, please see David and Angie Ebensberger's site.

Anyway, I was watching the video with Diana and Jules, my youngest daughter and I said out loud, "That's incredible." She turned to me and smiled and said, "No, Daddy. You're silly. That's not incredible, that's Jesus."

I looked at her bright face and saw her love focused on me.

"Yes, honey, that's Jesus..."

Spiritual Biohazards (AKA, I mean cultural relevance)

In speaking about Church relevancy, John MacArthur in an article in Pulpit Magazine, said

Whole churches have thus deliberately immersed themselves in “the culture”—by which they actually mean “whatever the world loves at the moment.” We now have a new breed of trendy churches whose preachers can rattle off references to every popular icon, every trifling meme, every tasteless fashion, and every vapid trend that captures the fickle fancy of the postmodern secular mind.

Worldly preachers seem to go out of their way to put their carnal expertise on display—even in their sermons. In the name of connecting with “the culture” they want their people to know they have seen all the latest programs on MTV; familiarized themselves with all the key themes of “South Park”; learned the lyrics to countless tracks of gangsta rap and heavy metal music; and watched who-knows-how-many R-rated movies. They seem to know every fad top to bottom, back to front, and inside out. They’ve adopted both the style and the language of the world—including lavish use of language that used to be deemed inappropriate in polite society, much less in the pulpit. They want to fit right in with the world, and they seem to be making themselves quite comfortable there.

Does not the Bible say to “come out from the world and be different” and ”Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”? If we renew our mind from a sinful life style and transform our mind like the Bible says, how can we let this stuff into our churches today?

Yes, we should be accessable to people. Yes, we should love them. Yes, we need to preach in a language that the world can understand, but no, we don't need to fill our minds with all of the swill that the world has to offer. Whatever happened to abstaining even from the appearance of evil? Instead, we charge headlong into bombarding our conscienceness with all manner of worldy lyrics as well as television and movie references for the sake of being culturally relevant.

By incorporating worldliness, the minister/preacher/pastor renders his vocabulary and his subject matter at times tasteless, indecent, crude, and utterly inappropriate for a minister of Christ.

I'm of the opinion that it is possible to be overexposed to our culture’s dark side. I don’t think anyone can survive full immersion in today’s entertainment environment and remain spiritually healthy. We need to be change agents for the culture, in that we set the styles, etc.

There is another aspect that we should not overlook and that is the people outside the "target audience range" of the church. What does cultural relevancy mean to them? They are part of the culture, but their styles and preferences are overlooked.

Oh well, I guess the majority rules in cases such as these... and here I thought that the Gospel was for everyone, not just rockers or gansta rappers or people who wear shorts and flip flops to church.

The Gospel is for everyone! If we just preach Christ crucified and the full council of God without all of the extra worldly trappings (there's a reason they call them trappings), we could lift Jesus up and He will draw all unto Himself.

The Voice of Truth Tells Me A Different Story

Last night our family sat down to watch Facing the Giants. We had wanted to rent this because our boys like football and movies like Friday Night Lights are a little too over-the-top for kids to watch. Anyway, it turned out to be a great movie. it's a movie of restoration of faith, dependence on God and one of my favorite lines, "If we win, we'll praise Him. If we lose, we'll praise him. "

In doing some digging, I found out that Facing the Giants was essentially made by a church, Sherwood Baptist in Albany, Ga. The movie's $100,000 budget was donated by the church congregation and it was directed and co-written by Sherwood's associate pastor of media ministries Alex Kendrick, who also stars as the football coach. The crew and the cast was mostly made up of volunteers from the church. The money the movie makes will go to a youth recreation facility for the church.

One last thing, the movie's PG rating was given to it by the MPAA because they thought the overt evangelical content of the film might offend some parents. Sheesh...

If you haven't seen it, give your faith a boost and rent it.