Contend Earnestly: November 2006

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Only God is Great!

At the funeral of France's Louis XIV, the cathedral of Notre Dame was packed with mourners, each one paying final tribute to one they all considered the greatest of French kings. The cathedral was dark with only a few candles and lamps here and there. But on a tall pedestal next to the pulpit, one large very tall candle was lit to symbolize the greatness of the king and also to illuminate his gold casket. At the appointed time, Cardinal Massilion, the court preacher, stood to address the assembly. But as he rose to do so, he leaned over and snuffed out that large candle. Then he stood up straight and said, "Only God is great."

As a huge sports fan the term “great” is often used when describing talented athletes. I have over the years had posters of my favorite guys, baseball cards, autographed balls and photos, t-shirts, and even named my boys (to some extent) reflecting upon these men. I wonder when an interest or admiration in someone turns into worship. Please don’t get me wrong. I still love sports and this is not a mandate to stop watching USC Trojan football games.

I want to suggest that our eyes can easily turn from the Almighty. In one area of life it’s sports, in another it’s our wife, or our career. Augustine said, “That which you love most is your god!” If only God is great then why do we allow our ourselves to think in the following ways:

-I love my laptop and the easy programs it has, Bill Gates is great
-Donald Trump makes millions, he’s a great businessman
-USC football wins national titles; Pete Carroll is a great coach
-My father in law has a nice house and goes on vacations, he’s a great provider
-My wife is a gourmet cook and she keeps house, she’s a great companionI like
-Tim McGraw’s music, he’s a great singer

I could go on forever with the list of people who are considered great nowadays and for different reasons. What I have found is that all of the sudden my life revolves around these “people” who I consider great. I want to be successful like them, I want to have their money, I want to have their talent, and I want to be like them. As the old Gatorade commercial goes, “If I could be like Mike.”

Why would I ever want to be like “a man?” The Christian mandate is to be Christ-like. Matthew 16:24 states, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.” Who are we following? To my shame I find myself following the wrong people for the wrong reasons.

For months now I’ve been reflecting upon James 4:4 and the concept cheating on the Lord with the love of the world. The language could not be any stronger here. “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. When we consider men of the world to be great we are allowing our hearts to befriend the world. We run the danger of cheating on God.

Don’t allow yourself to make heroes of these men. Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, Paul, and Jesus are hero’s not men of the world. Seek to have the obedience of Abraham, the trust of Daniel, the hope of Joseph. Envy Paul’s secret of contentment in the income he has not the wealth of men who have made money their god. Strive to be a husband like Ephesians 5 not some movie star. Be a faithful father who teaches his son the Lord’s statues like in Deut. 6 rather than hoping you were a famous athlete that you children could brag about.

If we continue to allow other things in our lives to seem great then God will seem less great. Someday God will be very small in relationship to all the great men you allow yourself to esteem.

Only God is Great!

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Gift of Tongues

I am not going to be exhaustive here so please bear with me, but what I would like to do is offer some insight to this and then ask for responses.

The gift of tongues is one that has obviously been abused all the way back to the very time of when the gifts were first being administered. The abusing of it, by the way, could have been and is being abused, in other gifts as well. I think the easiest one to see is that of being a pastor or a teacher. This is being abused today as much as the gift of tongues were being abused in Paul’s day. Some pastor’s and teachers are prideful and using teaching as a way of hierarchy instead of servitude and humility. But that is for another time.

First, I want to presuppose something. The gift of tongues is an actual language. There is never a use in the Bible where the word for tongues or a tongue does not use the word “glossa” in some tense, which means a language or dialect of a certain people. The other proof of this is that the gift of tongues is said to need an interpreter, you can only interpret an actual language, not babble.

There is something that I would like to point out that I have been “pondering” in my head as I have been a teacher and been very close to our local pastor and also am a PK. Let me ask, what does a pastor want from “his” church? Does he not want the congregants to employ their gifts (serve), be unified in true love, and also evangelize? Take a look at Paul’s three chapters dealing with tongues in 1 Corinthians. Chapter 12 is the “gift” chapter, so that the congregants will now in what capacity to serve, Chapter 13 is the superiority of love so that the church will be united, and Chapter 14 tells us what tongues are for, they are for a sign (verse 22) for the UNbelievers. We also know that very clearly that the use of the tongues, in the early church in Acts, was for evangelizing. Can this not be Paul’s point to a church that was very much out of line and not using their gifts, not unified and not evangelizing?

The other part of tongues that always gets me is “praying in tongues.” I am not going to answer all the questions here but will point to 1 Cor 14:14,15

For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also.

Notice that Paul says, “if” I pray in a tongue, big “if” when you ask Paul. He says that if he were to do that, to pray in a tongue, it would be unfruitful. What is the outcome then? Or, what does Paul do? He says that he will pray with the spirit and the mind. Notice that he is not saying the Holy Spirit nor is he saying that he then prays with tongues AND the mind. No, Paul prays with his spirit and his mind. Just as the Shema states, to love the Lord your God with all your mind, soul and strength. Same idea in prayer. Pray so that your spirit and your mind are together and fruitful, for to Paul, to pray in tongues was unfruitful.

I know this is a small post and not that long, but want to discuss where to go from here. So we must understand that tongues were for evangelism (proof in Acts and 1 Cor 14:22) and NOT for prayer. I would like to know anyone’s points against this, not as a “challenge” but just curious on other’s feelings on these two things.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Jonah Pt. 4 - A Divine Decree

Jonah, in defiance, had settled in his mind that he was willing to die rather than obey YHWH. As we read the end of chapter one and the beginning of chapter two, Jonah will quickly realize that what he thinks he wants (to die in order to escape) is much worse than what he envisioned. This is a reminder to us how sin can cloud our judgment and perception of reality. In an amazing display of mercy, God will preserve His prophet. In a strong reminder of humility, God's preservation of Jonah is not His main concern. He desires to save Nineveh from their sin.

You'll recall that Jonah reluctantly confessed who he was, and what God he served, to the sailors on the ship. In his description of YHWH, he described him as "the LORD God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land". This statement, on the heels of a barrage of questions from the panicked sailors, was designed to do one thing - convince them to throw him overboard. Notice their reaction in vs 10:

"Then the men became extremely frightened and they said to him, "How could you do this?" For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them. "

Their fear has now increased, as they realize that Jonah is truly the cause of this terrible storm in which they are about to die. So they naturally ask the question we see in verse 11. Something that Jonah has been waiting for:

"So they said to him, "What should we do to you that the sea may become calm for us?"--for the sea was becoming increasingly stormy. "

As the confrontation continued, the storm grew worse. Jonah's suggestion of a resolution does not strike the sailors as a viable option, at first.

"He said to them, "Pick me up and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will become calm for you, for I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you." However, the men rowed desperately to return to land but they could not, for the sea was becoming even stormier against them. "

Notice another rebuked to Jonah. These men, these foreign, pagan-worshipping unbelievers understood the sanctity of life and looked for another resolution. They were doing everything possible to keep themselves, and Jonah, alive. They tried all things at their disposal to save him physically. Yet the prophet of YHWH did nothing to try and share salvation with these men so that they could be saved spiritually, and eternally. And he also did everything to avoid bringing news of salvation to Nineveh as well. The selfishness and callousness of Jonah is quite staggering.

Some might wonder why Jonah did not jump overboard himself, if he wished to die. Ultimately, the text does not tell us. A couple of reasonable explanations may include that he simply could have been acting as a coward, and could not do so. Or, in light of how his sin had distorted his judgment, he may have reasoned, however wrongly, that if he was tossed overboard he could save himself from the guilt of taking his own life. What makes Jonah's suggestion even more shocking is the truth that to the Jewish mindset, death by drowning was one of the worst ways to die. Remember when Christ employed this shocking statement:

Matt 18:6
"But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea."

But even though Jonah felt that he was in control of the circumstance, we will see in chapter two that God's sovereignty is the back of all events in human history. Notice that when the men tried to row to shore in an attempt to save Jonah's life, the storm became even worse. It is amazing that, as it would first appear, God Himself is preventing a "good" action. But He has a greater plan to fulfill. When the men realized that there was no other option, even they recognized that YHWH was indeed directing these decision. A great truth to remember when we are tempted to analyze our own trials. We need to remember that our vision is severly limited, and God is infintley great in all He does.

"Then they called on the LORD and said, "We earnestly pray, O LORD, do not let us perish on account of this man's life and do not put innocent blood on us; for You, O LORD, have done as You have pleased." So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging."

As this chapter concludes, the reaction of sailors may indicate that salvation did come to these foreign men; the very thing Jonah had tried to run from. The text tells us that they called on Him with the covenant name YHWH, offered a sacrifice and made vows (perhaps to continue to worship the true God). God will save whom He will save!

Verse 17, in the original Hebrew, more naturally belongs in chapter 2 in our English Bible's. During our next installment, we will investigate this great type of Christ.

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Spiritual Drunkenness?

This is one of the most disturbing videos I have ever seen. It is a video of Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland leading a seminar on "Holy Laughter" and "Spiritual Drunkenness." If you don't think that the televangelists and hyper charasmatics have gone over the deep end you need to see this. It sickens me.

Holy Laughter and Spiritual Drunkenness

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2 Peter 3:9 video...

I did a post about 2 Peter 3:9 (click here to read it) and the interpretation of it. Lane, from Green Baggins, pointed out a great video that also does basically the same exegesis of the passage. I thought I would post this video here so that those who like to watch instead of read can also enjoy.

2 Peter 3:9 video


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Monday, November 27, 2006

Gotta see this...

Check this out from Faith and Gender, the pictures are truly amazing and further proves what we already know.

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Edwards' Resolutions 31-40

Contend Earnestly uses our weekend posts to quote men of the faith that have been a great encouragement to church. Today's post, though on a Monday morning, will be a continuation of Edwards' resolutions, numbers 31-40. I will be working on Jonah, Pt. 4 later on today.

For a full reading of the Resolutions, click here.

of Jonathan Edwards


Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

31. Resolved, never to say any thing at all against any body, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to, and try it strictly by the test of this Resolution.

32. Resolved, to be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that, in Proverbs 20:6, "A faithful man who can find?" may not be partly fulfilled in me.

33. Resolved, to do always, what I can towards making, maintaining, and preserving peace, when it can be done without overbalancing detriment in other respects. Dec. 26, 1722.

34. Resolved, in narrations never to speak any thing but the pure and simple verity.

35. Resolved, whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and also how the question was resolved. Dec. 18, 1722.

36. Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it. Dec. 19, 1722.

37. Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent,- what sin I have committed,-and wherein I have denied myself;-also at the end of every week, month and year. Dec. 22 and 26, 1722.

38. Resolved, never to speak anything that is ridiculous, sportive, or matter of laughter on the Lord's day. Sabbath evening, Dec. 23, 1722.

39. Resolved, never to do any thing of which I so much question the lawfulness of, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or not; unless I as much question the lawfulness of the omission.

40. Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking. Jan. 7, 1723.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Valley of Vision

I took this from the Valley of Vision which is a collection of prayers from the Puritans. If you do not have this book please go and buy it now as it will inspire you and also sharpen you from other brothers from another time. I thought I would share one called:

"Longings After God"

My dear Lord, I can but tell Thee that Thou knowest I long for nothing but Thyself, nothing but holiness, nothing but union with Thy will. Thou hast given me these desires, and thou alone canst give me the thing desired. My soul longs for communion with Thee, for mortification of indwelling corruption, especially spiritual pride. How precious it is to have a tender sense and clear apprehension of the mystery of godliness, of true holiness! What a blessedness to be like Thee as much as it is possible for a creature to be like its creator! Lord, give me more of Thy likeness; enlarge my soul to contain fullness of holiness; engage me to live more for Thee. Help me to be less pleased with my spiritual experiences, and when I feel at ease after sweet communings, teach me it is far too little I know and do. Blessed Lord, let me climb up near to Thee, and love, and long, and plead, and wrestle with Thee, and pant for deliverance from the body of sin, for my heart is wandering and lifeless, and my soul mourns to think it should ever lose sight of its beloved. Wrap my life in divine love, and keep me ever desiring Thee, always humble and resigned to Thy will, more fixed on Thyself, that I may be more fitted for doing and-suffering.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Edward's Resolutions - 21-30

Contend Earnestly uses our weekend posts to quote men of the faith that have been a great encouragement to church. Today's post will be a continuation of Edwards' resolutions, numbers 21-30.

For a full reading of the Resolutions, click here.

of Jonathan Edwards


Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

21. Resolved, never to do any thing, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him. (Resolutions 1 through 21 written in one setting in New Haven in 1722)

22. Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.

23. Resolved, frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs and ends of it; and if I find it not to be for God' s glory, to repute it as a breach of the 4th Resolution.

24. Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then, both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.

25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.

26. Resolved, to cast away such things, as I find do abate my assurance.

27. Resolved, never willfully to omit any thing, except the omission be for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions.

28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

29. Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.

30. Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Lutherans and Luther

I am currently reading "Martin Luther's Basic Theological Writings" and I came across a quote that I want to share. I will tell you first of all, that I do believe, for the most part, that the widespread Lutheran church has departed grossly from the teachings of Luther. But, I also know that I am no historian of Luther or the Lutheran church, so feel free to correct me. I come across the quote below and wonder how those in the Lutheran church would respond. I will also tell you that I am a Calvinist but would never say that I am a follower of Calvin, nor would I respect a church that called themselves, "First Church of Calvin" or something of that same title. I only use the term Calvinist to show my convictions in soteriology. Maybe that is the same response that I would get from a Lutheran following this quote, but it would seem that they would follow more closely Luther's convictions on Scripture than they currently do.

So here is the quote and wouldn't mind a discussion on "Should Lutherans be calling themselves Lutherans, and/or should we ever name a church after a man?"

A Sincere Admonition by Martin Luther to All Christians to Guard Against Insurrection and Rebellion (1522)

After the Diet of Worms, Luther went into hiding at the Wartburg Castle. While there, he received reports of increasing popular unrest, precipitated by attempts to reform church and society by violent means. In December 1521, Luther wrote this document, urging restraint in the institution of reform measures. In the context of his arguments for his followers to move slowly, surely, and without violence, he included these oft-quoted words.

…In the first place, I ask that men make no reference to my name; let them call themselves Christians, not Lutherans. What is Luther? After all, the teaching is not mine [John 7:16]. Neither was I crucified for anyone [I Cor. 1:13]. St. Paul, in I Corinthians 3, would not allow the Christians to call themselves Pauline or Petrine, but Christian. How then should I—poor stinking maggot-fodder15 that I am—come to have men call the children of Christ by my wretched name? Not so, my dear friends; let us abolish all party names and call ourselves Christians, after him whose teaching we hold. I neither am nor want to be anyone’s master. I hold, together with the universal church, the one universal teaching of Christ, who is our only master [Matt. 23:8].

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

My Thanksgiving Prayer

LORD, when I measure my life by the things that are of eternal worth, my heart explodes with gratitude. I thank you LORD for the magnificence of Your power and grace which overflow in our church family transforming us into a people . . .

Who love You with all their being
Who adore their Savior
Who worship You with gladness
Who sing praises to You from pure hearts
Who honor You on the Lord's Day
Who walk in the light of Your Word
Who turn to You for guidance
Who are filled with the Holy Spirit
Who believe You alone are worthy of trust
Who cling to Your promises
Who look into Your Word for strength
Who are humbled by sinfulness
Who are fearful of selfish pride
Who die daily to the world, the flesh and the devil
Who stand with a bold humility on the truth of the Word
Who are discerning of sin and error
Who have an insatiable appetite for sound doctrine
Who persevere under trial
Who see the glimmer of God's grace in the darkest hours
Who uphold one another in prayer
Who exhort one another to holiness
Who give to one another with amazing generosity
Who speak the truth to one another in love
Who cry and laugh with one another
Who share their burdens with one another
Who sacrifice for one another
Who risk together
Who seek to raise up the next generation of godliness
Who are models of faith to the young
Who assist one another in spiritual education of children
Who battle unbelief daily
Who live out the gospel before their neighbors
Who share Christ's redeeming love with others
Who give aid to the widow, orphan and poor
LORD, Your mercies are new every morning. I am humbled by Your goodness which has guarded our church--our family of families--from being a people . . .

Who are self absorbed
Who look to gratify selfish interests before looking to the needs of others
Who fight and bicker over petty differences
Who are demanding and controlling
Who wilt under the pressure of spiritual opposition
Who look to get rather than look to give
Who return evil for evil
Who slander and gossip about others
Who lie by twisting the truth or by exaggeration
Who are more loyal to a man than faithful to God
Who fear pain more than they love righteousness
Who are abundant in criticism and slight in praise
Who sweat to gain an abundance of worldly things
Who have a greater taste for the riches of earth than the riches of heaven
Who see wrong and remain silent
Who cherish the opportunity to hear an evil report
Who rejoice when injury comes to others
Who look with envy when others are praised
Who plot to get even
Who refuse to forgive
Who express forgiveness but hold a grudge
Who are unmoved by the temporal needs of others
Who are cold in heart to judgment of eternal death resting upon the lost
Who are skeptical of spiritual leadership
Who are distrusting of one another
Who evaluate everything by the question, "What do I get out of this?"
Who give only when there is the prospect of recognition
Who grumble and grumble and grumble
Who look at the Scriptures through pragmatic lens
Who obey the Bible when they see advantage but ignore it otherwise
Who look to God to endorse their fleshly interests
Who take their knowledge as a way to be superior to others
Who boast in their holiness
Who are legalistic
Who are uninterested in the history of the saints who lived before them
Who see no value in traditions
Who confuse traditions with commands

LORD, our boast, our brag, our glory, our hope, our strength, and our joy, is You.

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The Pilgrims and America's First Thanksgiving

The Pilgrims, who celebrated the first thanksgiving in America, were fleeing religious prosecution in their native England. In 1609 a group of Pilgrims left England for the religious freedom in Holland where they lived and prospered. After a few years their children were speaking Dutch and had become attached to the dutch way of life. This worried the Pilgrims. They considered the Dutch frivolous and their ideas a threat to their children's education and morality.

So they decided to leave Holland and travel to the New World. Their trip was financed by a group of English investors, the Merchant Adventurers. It was agreed that the Pilgrims would be given passage and supplies in exchange for their working for their backers for 7 years.

On Sept. 6, 1620 the Pilgrims set sail for the New World on a ship called the Mayflower. They sailed from Plymouth, England and aboard were 44 Pilgrims, who called themselves the "Saints", and 66 others, whom the Pilgrims called the "Strangers."

The long trip was cold and damp and took 65 days. Since there was the danger of fire on the wooden ship, the food had to be eaten cold. Many passengers became sick and one person died by the time land was sighted on November 10th.

The long trip led to many disagreements between the "Saints" and the "Strangers". After land was sighted a meeting was held and an agreement was worked out, called the Mayflower Compact, which guaranteed equality and unified the two groups. They joined together and named themselves the "Pilgrims."

Although they had first sighted land off Cape Cod they did not settle until they arrived at Plymouth, which had been named by Captain John Smith in 1614. It was there that the Pilgrims decide to settle. Plymouth offered an excellent harbor. A large brook offered a resource for fish. The Pilgrims biggest concern was attack by the local Native American Indians. But the Patuxets were a peaceful group and did not prove to be a threat.

The first winter was devastating to the Pilgrims. The cold, snow and sleet was exceptionally heavy, interfering with the workers as they tried to construct their settlement. March brought warmer weather and the health of the Pilgrims improved, but many had died during the long winter. Of the 110 Pilgrims and crew who left England, less that 50 survived the first winter.

On March 16, 1621 , what was to become an important event took place, an Indian brave walked into the Plymouth settlement. The Pilgrims were frightened until the Indian called out "Welcome" (in English!).

His name was Samoset and he was an Abnaki Indian. He had learned English from the captains of fishing boats that had sailed off the coast. After staying the night Samoset left the next day. He soon returned with another Indian named Squanto who spoke better English than Samoset. Squanto told the Pilgrims of his voyages across the ocean and his visits to England and Spain. It was in England where he had learned English.

Squanto's importance to the Pilgrims was enormous and it can be said that they would not have survived without his help. It was Squanto who taught the Pilgrims how to tap the maple trees for sap. He taught them which plants were poisonous and which had medicinal powers. He taught them how to plant the Indian corn by heaping the earth into low mounds with several seeds and fish in each mound. The decaying fish fertilized the corn. He also taught them to plant other crops with the corn.

The harvest in October was very successful and the Pilgrims found themselves with enough food to put away for the winter. There was corn, fruits and vegetables, fish to be packed in salt, and meat to be cured over smoky fires.

The Pilgrims had much to celebrate, they had built homes in the wilderness, they had raised enough crops to keep them alive during the long coming winter, they were at peace with their Indian neighbors. They had beaten the odds and it was time to celebrate.
The Pilgrim Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving to be shared by all the colonists and the neighboring Native Americans. They invited Squanto and the other Indians to join them in their celebration. Their chief, Massasoit, and 90 braves came to the celebration which lasted for 3 days. They played games, ran races, marched and played drums. The Indians demonstrated their skills with the bow and arrow and the Pilgrims demonstrated their musket skills. Exactly when the festival took place is uncertain, but it is believed the celebration took place in mid-October.
The following year the Pilgrims harvest was not as bountiful, as they were still unused to growing the corn. During the year they had also shared their stored food with newcomers and the Pilgrims ran short of food.

The 3rd year brought a spring and summer that was hot and dry with the crops dying in the fields. Governor Bradford ordered a day of fasting and prayer, and it was soon thereafter that the rain came. To celebrate - November 29th of that year was proclaimed a day of thanksgiving. This date is believed to be the real true beginning of the present day Thanksgiving Day.

The custom of an annually celebrated thanksgiving, held after the harvest, continued through the years. During the American Revolution (late 1770's) a day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress.

In 1817 New York State had adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom. By the middle of the 19th century many other states also celebrated a Thanksgiving Day. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a national day of thanksgiving. Since then each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, usually designating the fourth Thursday of each November as the holiday.

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God is Wrathful, but He is Good - Part II (Nahum 1:1-8)

In Part I we focused on God’s wrath and vengeance against His enemies. Then after describing these attributes and actions God will take out, the prophet Nahum says in Nahum 1:7

The LORD is good,
A stronghold in the day of trouble,
And He knows those who take refuge in Him.

How can Nahum even come close to saying that God is good after all the prophet has described as being God’s characteristics? The answer is why we should be truly thankful today on Thanksgiving.

Ephesians 2:8,9 says that it is by faith that you are saved. When the people asked in Acts 2:37,38 how they are to be saved, the apostles say, “repent and be baptized.” In Romans 6:23 it says that the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life. Romans 5:8 says that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

How much more can be said of why we should be thankful, and how much more the reason the prophet can truly say, “God is good.” For we all deserve the wrath that is mentioned in Nahum 1:1-6 and the prophet knows this. But, he also knows as he says in verse 7 that YHWH is a stronghold in the day of trouble. The word “stronghold” means a place of safety, a place where those who take refuge in Him hide in this great day of vengeance.

May we understand the impending wrath that is to come for those who don’t believe in God and who are still in their sins. May we understand that on the day of judgment it will be a day of great calamity and it will be a day that after all is done we will go and watch the bodies of those who rejected him burn and their worm will not die.

“Then they will go forth and look
On the corpses of the men
Who have transgressed against Me.
For their  worm will not die
And their fire will not be quenched;
And they will be an abhorrence to all mankind.”

Isaiah 66:24

Are you saved? Today, can you say, "the Lord is good." Are you sure of your salvation?

Paul says to test ourselves to make sure we are in the faith in 2 Cor 13:5 and he also says in Philippians 2 that we should work out our salvation with fear and trembling. This fear of hell and discipline should drive us straight into the arms of God. That is what Nahum tells us that God knows those who take refuge in Him.

Are you anxious? Run to God! Are you fearful? Run to God! Are you in need? Run to God! Are you wondering, “am I saved?” Are you fearful that you might be headed to hell? Run to God! Do not walk, do not put it off, do not say, “maybe later”, no, today, run to God. If you have already trusted in God, know that your confidence is in God and He will give you peace and hope in His return.

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ, who is our life, is revealed,  then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
Colossians 3:1-4

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Purpose Driven Drought

As I first saw on Irish Calvinist the Purpose Driven Organization is now dead. Instead of 40 days of Purpose looks like it will be more like 40 days of Drought.

Take a look.

Painful Decline from Christianity Today.

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Jonah, Pt. 3 - "The Confrontation"

Imagine. God pitted against His own prophet. It only takes us reading three verses into this book to see the two very regretful words "But Jonah...". In open defiance, God's own man shakes his fist at YHWH and runs in the opposite direction. But God will not be mocked. We see in verse 4, in a very direct way, YHWH strikes back.

As we saw in the last article on Jonah, the storm was severe. So sever that even the hardened sailors began to pray as they recognized that this storm had a supernatural cause. And as the Captain ran out of options in trying to rescue himself and his crew, he find Jonah "sound asleep" in the hold of the ship (vs 5). Astonished, he cries out "How is it that you are asleep? Get up, call on your god. Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish."

Notice the words of the Captains command. Jonah, while trying to gather his senses from his deep sleep, must have thought he was in a nightmare. Being roused suddenly to find himself in a fierce storm, and to hear words that were stingingly close to those of YHWH in verse 2. We recall that the LORD said "Arise, go, cry". And here the Captain says "Get up, Call!" We can constantly be amazed at the detail of Scripture. No word is repeated without meaning.

In verse 7 what we learn is that Jonah shows no sign of repentance. Notice that even at the rebuke of a pagan calling fro the prophet to pray, Jonah refuses. He also refuses to offer any information until the lot falls to his person in verse 7. Jonah, of all people, should be about prayer, about repentance for his actions, and about evangelism (to use a New Testament term) with these men who have been made spiritually sensitive to their need of salvation at least at some elementary level. And so Jonah's defiance continues. The sailors then confront him with a barrage of 5 questions that come in staccato fashion.

"Tell us, now! On whose account has this calamity struck us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?"

And then when we think we have seen the worst from this disobedient prophet, Jonah does the unthinkable. Notice his answer:

"He said to them, 'I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.'"

We first need to clarify that this was not a great, confident declaration of a prophet who had a heart for lost men needing to know the saving power of YHWH. Remember, he is running so that foreigners would not see salvation. Also, this answer does not come from Jonah until he is pressed to speak. So we can read this as a very hesitant answer. With a bit of sanctified imagination, perhaps he barley lifted his eyes when speaking this.

Yet, with all of the designations that Jonah could have chosen to describe the true God, why this one? Why highlight that He is the One who "made the sea and the dry land"?. For one simple reason; He wanted to be tossed overboard. His sinful behavior has so clouded his ability to reason that he considered death by drowning a better choice than obeying the word of YHWH. It is significant to note as well that to the Jewish mindset, drowning in the sea was the worst way to die. This is illustrated by Jesus' words of warning in Matt 18:6:

"but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea."

A natural question would be why Jonah would not jump ship himself, if he wanted to die in order to escape God's commands. The text does not say. Perhaps he was acting as a coward. Perhaps he could justify his desire to die if his life was taken by these sailors rather than committing suicide. But either way, Jonah's description of YHWH prompts the men to ask the very question he was waiting to hear in verse 11.

To be continued...

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Some Good articles

Take a look at these, very informative

Body Piercing Saved My Life

Plagiarism in the Pulpit

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Edward's Resolutions - 11-20

Contend Earnestly uses our weekend posts to quote men of the faith that have been a great encouragement to church. Today's post will be a continuation of Edwards' resolutions, numbers 11-20.

For a full reading of the Resolutions, click here.

of Jonathan Edwards


Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

11. Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances do not hinder.

12. Resolved, if I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.

13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.

14. Resolved, never to do any thing out of revenge.

15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger towards irrational beings.

16. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.

17. Resolved, that I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.

18. Resolved, to live so, at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world.

19. Resolved, never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.

20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance, in eating and drinking.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

70 Resolutions

Contend Earnestly uses our weekend posts to quote men of the faith that have been a great encouragement to church. This morning we are going to start a mini-series on the 70 Resolutions written by Jonathan Edwards. Edwards was considered by some the greatest mind the United States has ever seen; in both the disciplines of theology and science. Edwards re-read his list, for his own sake, at the end of every week, month and year as a reminder of the commitments he made before the Lord at the age of 18 when he was called to Pastor his first congregation, having been saved for only a year.

For a full reading of the Resolutions, click here.

of Jonathan Edwards


Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever.

2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new contrivance and invention to promote the aforementioned things.

3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.

4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.

9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.

10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

God is Wrathful but He is Good - Pt 1 (Nahum 1:1-8)

Are you saved? Do you believe in the power of Christ’s death and resurrection? Is He your Lord? How do you know if you are saved?

“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.
“He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.
John 14:23,24

Yeah, but I said a prayer when I was 5, and I was told that prayer saves me. Wrong, no prayer will save you only faith in Jesus Christ will save you, which changes your life to live for Him. You are a new creature, your goals are to please Him in all respects of your life, that is the essence of repentance. To change.

You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.
James 2:19

You must be born again to be a true disciple of Christ, you must believe in Him and that faith changes you, it changes the way you think, the way you talk, the way you walk, your desires are for Christ and Christ alone. Will you trip every once in a while and sin? Yes, but your goals should be solely for Christ.

So, how does God see you if you are still in your sin and do not have the saving faith in Christ?

Look at Nahum 1:1-6

Adversary: an adversary is someone who is against something else. It is used also using the words to oppress or to be a foe of someone. We also know that the devil is called our adversary.
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert, Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour
1 Peter 5:8

Because of this close relationship, Christ calls the Pharisees in John 8:44, sons of the devil.

Enemy: Here is the active part of the nouns used to describe God’s foes. If the adversary is who the person is, the word enemy describes the action of that person. The word means to be actively fighting against another. We see this in 1 Peter when it says that Satan prowls around he is active, and he hates us, just as those apart from God are active in their fight and they are called God haters in 2 Timothy 3:3,4. If you are unsaved you might say that you don’t fight against God and you don’t hate God but in God’s eyes if you are not for Him you are against Him.

Guilty: Understand that you are not innocent, you are not a good person. Romans 3:10 says that there are none that are good, no not one. Have you ever sinned? Have you ever lied, even once, ever coveted someone else’s belongings, ever said the Lord’s name as a cuss word, ever hated someone? If you have done this even once, James 2:10 says that you have broken the whole law. Meaning you are just as condemned as a murderer, you are just as condemned as the worst serial killer, just as worse as Hitler.

What does God do to these people? Look again in Nahum 1:1-3

He is avenging and wrathful: to avenge something it means to exact satisfaction for a wrong by punishing the person that did the wrong. How does God do this? Through His wrath and vengeance. It says that He will not let the guilty go unpunished. He takes His wrath out against those by punishing them forever in Hell.

It says that He stores up His wrath for his enemies.

Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

Romans 12:19

Just think that every time you sin, it is another way of God storing up more wrath to take against you. If you sin 5 times a day and you live for 80 years you will sin 146,000 times so you allow the Creator of Hell and the Creator of you to store up wrath at least 146,000 times to take out on you for eternity. What will hell be like?

Solomon Stoddard, Edward’s grandfather, used to compare hell to “where they burnt their children to Moleck” at Topheth. There they burnt them as sacrifices to the devil, and made a noise with trumpets, that they might drown the noise of the cries of the poor children, they could not bear their cries. Hell is worse than these. Being in hell would be like suffering in the fire and brimstone that fell on Sodom: men, women, children, all like torches; their bodies blazed; how they scream out in pain and suffering. The difference is that agony was short lived, whereas in hell there is suffering everlasting burnings. Add thousands to thousands, and multiply millions by millions, fill quires of paper with numbers,when men have suffered never so long there is still an eternity remaining. This makes every part of their misery infinite, their pain will be infinite, the terror infinite.”

He would continue; God restrains the devil and his crew, but not in the next. The devil thirsts for the blood of souls, and tis only because God restrains him that they don’t lay hold of the soul before death; but as soon as ever the man is dead, God restrains him no more, but then these hell hounds fly upon their prey, these roaring lions dare then lay hold as it were with open mouths.

If you are not a Christian, be afraid, be fearful, for tomorrow is not promised. Repent tonight, may tonight be the night of salvation. For even the Mountains quake because of God. Nahum 1:8 ends with saying God will pursue His enemies into the darkness.

This is a scary thought, darkness is always meant to show evil and it is also used as a picture for hell. But don’t think you are safe in the darkness, don’t think you are safe when you are in hell, for God will continue to seek you out and will continue to pour out His wrath upon you even when you depart and go to hell. It is never ending, the burning will continue forever, and just when you think you can’t stand the burning anymore, you still have an eternity remaining. How long can you put your hand in a hot fire without screaming? Your whole body will be in the flames and you will never die, you will never rot, but will be as Stoddard put it, a torch.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

To Vote or Not to Vote

I simply have a question regarding the “Christian Duty” to vote. Recently we had the elections for the house and I was told numerous times that it was my “Christian Duty” to vote. If this is true, if it is my “Christian Duty” then shouldn’t that be mentioned in the Bible? If anything, we should cast lots to see who should be in office, but to vote for public office is a tough one for me.

I will start by saying I don’t disagree with voting and I don’t consider a sin to vote, but I just don’t agree that it is my Christian duty to vote. Is it a right in America? Yes, of course it is, but to label it as my duty to vote I find hard to follow. If it was a law that I had to vote then I would look on this differently, but it isn’t a law it is a choice.

Let’s see how Paul handles government affairs:

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.
Romans 13:1

It doesn’t say anything besides that all governments and its officials are established by God NOT the people. I have heard some say, “If the Christians don’t vote, then imagine where America would be!” Imagine where America would be? Look where it is! We have voted throughout the ages in America and we have never seen it at its lowest that we see today. America is a terrible place of sin, of idolatry and now even taking God out of all aspects of public view. It doesn’t seem like our vote matters. Plus, shouldn’t I place my trust on God’s complete sovereignty? If all authorities are established by God then doesn’t that mean that God established Hitler to rule and also Ronald Reagan regardless of who voted or wasn’t allowed to vote?

The issue for me is to make sure that I am not approving someone by giving them my vote. If I vote for someone and they go on to take prayer out of schools or if they accept homosexual marriage, am I not partially now to blame? Candidates say one thing to get votes and then do another once they get into office, we all know this. So, knowing this how can I place my trust in what party they are in or what they say they’ll do? You are picking the best of the worse. The problem I have with the politicians these days is that they all lie and they all defame the others to get into office.

…And he who spreads slander is a fool
Proverbs 10:18

Am I to vote for a fool? I know that some will say that I am denying a fundamental American right, but I say that is fine. For I don’t answer to the President, I answer to my YHWH. At this time I don’t see how I can put my stamp of approval on ANY candidates and that is primarily the reason, why, at the age of 29, I have never yet voted for any individual and don’t see myself doing so.

Am I crazy? Maybe, but would like any thoughts on the subject. I could be completely wrong in this area. I just don’t see how America has been better off because Christians have made their vote clear. I only see a society that is falling deeper and deeper into sin instead of higher and higher to the heavens. There are some further thoughts on this subject at Pulpit Magazine, the article is called, Can Christians Participate in Civil Disobedience?

May God be glorified and may we all remember what Christ told Pilate in John 19:10,11:

Pilate therefore said to him, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Jonah, Pt. 2

After Jonah's defiance of YHWH, he fled to Tarshish. Some scholars believe that this was the farthest destination Jonah could have chosen of the known world at the time. And while the exact location of Tarshish is disputed, we do know that it was in the opposite direction; further proof of his staggering pride to tell the LORD "No".

As the historical account continues in Chapter 1, we read that the LORD Himself "hurled" a great wind on the sea and caused a terrifying storm. This storm was so severe, that even the seasoned sailors became frightened, began to pray (which indicates that even they realized that this storm was of divine origin), and to toss their cargo overboard. This tells us that they indeed were expecting to die in this catastrophe. Their cargo was means of sustenance and was also how they earned their living.

On one trip into the hold of the ship, the Captain was astonished to see Jonah "sound" asleep.

More to come...

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Rediscovering Expository Preaching

This is an exerpt from an article written by Richard Mayhue, dean of the Master's Seminary. If you would like to read the entire article click here.

Biblical preaching’s authenticity is significantly tarnished by
contemporary communicators' being more concerned with personal relevance than God's revelation. Scripture unmistakably requires a proclamation focused on God's will and mankind's obligation to obey. With men wholly committed to God's Word, the expository method commends itself as preaching that is true to the Bible. The method presupposes an exegetical process to extract the God-intended meaning of Scripture and an explanation of that meaning in a contemporary understandable way. The biblical essence and apostolic spirit of expository preaching needs to be recaptured in the training of men newly committed to "preaching the Word."
* * * * *
The Master's Seminary joins with others in accepting the urgent responsibility for transmitting the Pauline legacy to "preach the Word" (2 Tim 4:2). The current series of articles in The Master's Seminary Journal signal an effort to instill in twenty-first century preachers a pattern of biblical preaching inherited from their predecessors.

Every generation shares the kind of dire circumstances that Amos prophesied for Israel: "`Behold, days are coming,' declares the Lord GOD, `When I will send a famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the LORD'" (Amos 8:11). The last several centuries have proven this need again.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Lordship Salvation

I took this from Pulpit Magazine and thought it added to our thoughts on child salvation, because isn't this really what we are asking when a child asks, "daddy, I want to ask Jesus into my heart!" Aren't we asking, "do they really understand Lordship, do they really understand how to live for God?" So I am posting this excerpt from a post on Pulpit Magazine, if you want to read the whole thing click here

The lordship position teaches that salvation occurs at the moment of conversion, and that conversion includes a change of heart such that those who were enemies of Christ now love Him.
That’s pretty much it.
Lordship teaches that true Christians love Jesus. And that those who do not love Jesus are not true Christians.
After all, Jesus said, “If God were your Father, you would love Me” (John 8:42). Paul said that anyone who does not love Jesus is accursed (1 Cor. 16:22). And Peter described the belief of his readers in these terms: “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him” (1 Pet. 1:8).
And what does love for Christ look like?
He Himself tells us in John 14:15—“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” That is pretty straightforward: Love for Christ is a willingness to keep His commands.
The Free Grace camp attempts to keep salvation and conversion separate, such that a sinner can become a child of God and yet continue in hatred and unrepentant rebellion against God. We find this wholly unacceptable. It is not only illogical, it is also unbiblical. In salvation, the sinner is rescued not only from the consequences of his sin (in the life to come), but also from his slavery to sin (in this life—Rom. 6, 8:1-13). Those who claim to have been saved, yet remain slaves to sin, are deceiving themselves (1 John 1:5; cf. James 2:19).
Lou Martuneac’s position agrees with lordship that conversion and salvation are inseparable. Yet, Lou attempts to remove love for Christ from the change of heart that conversion necessarily entails. Since love for Christ is, by Christ’s own definition, a willingness to obey—then Lou is forced to promote a loveless, affectionless, devotionless conversion. Biblically this is impossible. But Lou has no other choice. The moment he admits that love for Christ is included in conversion, the debate is over. To concede that point is to agree with the lordship position.
Does this mean that new believers fully understand all that love for Christ entails at the moment of salvation? No, of course not. As John MacArthur wrote in chapter 12 of The Gospel According to Jesus:
Obviously, a new believer does not fully understand all the ramifications of Jesus’ lordship at the moment of conversion. But every genuine believer has a desire to surrender. This is what distinguishes true faith from a bogus profession: true faith produces a heart that is humble, submissive, and obedient. As spiritual understanding unfolds, that obedience grows deeper, and the genuine believer displays an eagerness to please Christ by abandoning everything to his lordship. This willingness to surrender to divine authority is a driving force in the heart of every true child of the kingdom. It is the inevitable expression of the new nature.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Known by Your Fruit

I have been wrestling with this issue in my own life as I deal with my sin, both outward and inward. We are told that we will known by our fruits, whether or not we will saved or not. We are also told that some of our fruit that isn’t godly will be burnt up (1 Cor 3) yet still be saved. We are told that those practicing righteousness is truly a son of God and an heir with Christ and those who practice evil is of the devil. (1 John 3)

My question is that it seems in my heart that I practice evil and that most of the fruit that I produce is always followed up by either a temptation of selfishness or actually done out of selfishness. I do see that, my godly fruit is increasing but to say that I don’t practice evil would be foolish. I know of the fight that Paul was having in Romans 7 and I know that I am still in the flesh, but I am really sick when I see my sin.

I have been reading “Jonathan Edwards: A Life” and just got done with “A Bruised Reed” by a puritan named Richard Sibbes and they both make me feel a little better about myself saying that a Christian must or a person must go through a time of complete distraught over their sin before they can realize the depths of God’s love and mercy in salvation by sending His Son.

In Isaiah 6, Isaiah isn’t given the burning coal until he realizes how sinful and evil he was compared to the holiness of the Lord Jesus Christ, only then were his sins forgiven.

Micah 4:11-13 speaks of this as well; notice not until God’s people are laid on the ground, defeated, will He then gather them like sheaves.

Now also many nations are gathered against thee, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion. But they know not the thoughts of the LORD, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor. Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the LORD, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth.

So here is the real question. Which is it? Am I sinning more or is it because I am understanding more of God’s holiness and His wrath and hate against that sin? Is this just a part of sanctification? Or should I fear that I am not saved? The puritans would definitely say this is part of our walk and I know as I read Jonathan Edwards he definitely dealt with this. Fleshly, that comforts me, spiritually I can answer to God by no man’s words or experience only His.


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Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Winston Churchill honored the memory of the Royal Air Force pilots who sacrificed their lives to guard England during the air war with Germany in World War II. He declared, "Never in the history of mankind have so many owed so much to so few." A similar tribute appears on a memorial plaque in Belgium at the site of the Battle of the Bulge, one of the bloodiest conflicts of World War II. The inscription, in honor of the 101st Airborne Division, reads, "Seldom has so much American blood been shed in the course of a single action. Oh, Lord, help us to remember." These are fitting tributes to the courageous men who sacrificed so much in battle. We want to remember those who have sacrificed their lives in order to defend us from our enemies and to protect us from harm. We should remember. We don't want to forget.There is another who sacrificed His life for us. We respect the soldier who died on our behalf, but this Man's sacrifice on our behalf was infinitely greater, and the stakes involved were infinitely higher. This Man is Jesus of Nazareth. His suffering upon the cross was far beyond anything we can imagine and infinitely above what any other human has ever experienced. I am referring not merely to His physical suffering, as great as that was, but to the spiritual dimension of His agony, which is far beyond what we can comprehend. He sacrificed His life in this unique act of atonement to deliver us from Satan, sin and death, to save us for the eternal judgment our sins deserve, to make us right with God. Never in the history of humanity have so many owed so much to one Man. We should remember. We don't want to forget. So we regularly, frequently partake of the Lord's Supper. Jesus said, "Do this in remembrance of Me."

I was thinking about instituting a new element to our family worship time at the dinner table. We always start by praying and usually havea devotion time. I was thinking about actually starting the meal by breaking bread in remembrance of our Lord. As the family priest I alone would break the bread and then offer our prayer. Maybe we all tear some bread? or just Susan and I, as we remember, give thanks and offer our continued devotion and pledge to the Lord.

Since I have four children who are all eleven or younger none of them currently partake in communion or have been baptized. I was thinking that this would act as a bridge to those ordinances as well as give honor and remembrance. But I am very cautious about coming too close to an actual communion act which is only for believers. By keeping the drinking element out do I violate the intent or give myself a loophole?


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Monday, November 06, 2006

Jonah - "The Hero"

I would hope that you are as disturbed by the title of this article as I was when I read it in my Bible dictionary under the entry labeled "Book of Jonah". This one statement communicated that the writer of this particular entry did not understand the major premise behind this biblical book. Jonah is by no means a hero! That God is abounding in lovingkindness and will work His will in spite of the sins of men, even His own chosen prophet, shows clearly that He is the hero of this incredible account.

When you have a spare 10 minutes, read through this short book, and take note of Jonah's character; namely that he is marked by racism, hatred, anger and staggering pride. And all of this done as a direct affront to YHWH of hosts.

Jonah is the only prophet who openly and persistently defied God. To be sure, there have been other disobedient prophets, those who hesitated, those who doubted. But Jonah ran. Jonah shook his fist at YHWH and there is no indication in the book that he was ever repentant. Two things to notice are the abrupt beginning and ending to this book.

The opening verses set the tone (unfortunately) well:

Jon 1:1-3
"The word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me." But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. "

What amazing foolishness to think that he could flee from the presence of YHWH! The last words of Jonah are as follows:

Jon 4:9
Then God said to Jonah, "Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?" And he said, "I have good reason to be angry, even to death."

The force of the Hebrew language communicates that Jonah had the audacity to use expletive language with YHWH Almighty. Unthinkable.

So, who is the hero of this historical narrative? A spiteful, vengeful, selfish and self-centered, disobedient prophet who completed his mission simply based on the fact that YHWH is Omnipotent and Sovereign in causing His prophecy to be preached?

Or is it a patient, merciful and loving God who cares even for the wicked city of Nineveh? Who even cares for an ungodly prophet like Jonah? Who even cares for you?

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Preach the word (2 Tim 4:2)

A quote from a sermon that was instrumental in forming my understanding of true biblical ministry. By John Macarthur:

"Beloved, we need men who can go into the fray, men who can go into the battle who understand the Word of God clearly. Let me tell you something, Satan's deceptions are not without subtlety. Do you understand that? It's not always obvious on the surface what's really going on. It takes formidable men. It takes men who understand the Word of God clearly, carefully. It takes men who understand the issues of their time and it takes men who have a holy courage who are willing to step into the battle and identify the enemy and assault the enemy graciously but assault the enemy relentlessly with the truth. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10, our job is to smash fortresses, ideological fortresses and to bring everybody captive there into obedience to Christ. We want to set free the captives held in the fortresses that these dangerous epochs have erected. We're called to guard the truth. We're called to preach the truth. We can't do either if we don't understand the truth. And against the subtleties and nuances of Satan's devices, it takes well-trained skilled men and we're committed to that."

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Excerpt from "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"

The observation from the words that I would now insist upon is this. -- "There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God." -- By the mere pleasure of God, I mean his sovereign pleasure, his arbitrary will, restrained by no obligation, hindered by no manner of difficulty, any more than if nothing else but God's mere will had in the least degree, or in any respect whatsoever, any hand in the preservation of wicked men one moment. -- The truth of this observation may appear by the following considerations.

1. There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment. Men's hands cannot be strong when God rises up. The strongest have no power to resist him, nor can any deliver out of his hands. -- He is not only able to cast wicked men into hell, but he can most easily do it. Sometimes an earthly prince meets with a great deal of difficulty to subdue a rebel, who has found means to fortify himself, and has made himself strong by the numbers of his followers. But it is not so with God. There is no fortress that is any defence from the power of God. Though hand join in hand, and vast multitudes of God's enemies combine and associate themselves, they are easily broken in pieces. They are as great heaps of light chaff before the whirlwind; or large quantities of dry stubble before devouring flames. We find it easy to tread on and crush a worm that we see crawling on the earth; so it is easy for us to cut or singe a slender thread that any thing hangs by: thus easy is it for God, when he pleases, to cast his enemies down to hell. What are we, that we should think to stand before him, at whose rebuke the earth trembles, and before whom the rocks are thrown down?

2. They deserve to be cast into hell; so that divine justice never stands in the way, it makes no objection against God's using his power at any moment to destroy them. Yea, on the contrary, justice calls aloud for an infinite punishment of their sins. Divine justice says of the tree that brings forth such grapes of Sodom, "Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground?" Luke 13:7. The sword of divine justice is every moment brandished over their heads, and it is nothing but the hand of arbitrary mercy, and God's mere will, that holds it back.

3. They are already under a sentence of condemnation to hell. They do not only justly deserve to be cast down thither, but the sentence of the law of God, that eternal and immutable rule of righteousness that God has fixed between him and mankind, is gone out against them, and stands against them; so that they are bound over already to hell. John 3:18. "He that believeth not is condemned already." So that every unconverted man properly belongs to hell; that is his place; from thence he is, John 8:23. "Ye are from beneath:" And thither he is bound; it is the place that justice, and God's word, and the sentence of his unchangeable law assign to him.

4. They are now the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God, that is expressed in the torments of hell. And the reason why they do not go down to hell at each moment, is not because God, in whose power they are, is not then very angry with them; as he is with many miserable creatures now tormented in hell, who there feel and bear the fierceness of his wrath. Yea, God is a great deal more angry with great numbers that are now on earth: yea, doubtless, with many that are now in this congregation, who it may be are at ease, than he is with many of those who are now in the flames of hell.
So that it is not because God is unmindful of their wickedness, and does not resent it, that he does not let loose his hand and cut them off. God is not altogether such an one as themselves, though they may imagine him to be so. The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened its mouth under them.

5. The devil stands ready to fall upon them, and seize them as his own, at what moment God shall permit him. They belong to him; he has their souls in his possession, and under his dominion. The scripture represents them as his goods, Luke 11:12. The devils watch them; they are ever by them at their right hand; they stand waiting for them, like greedy hungry lions that see their prey, and expect to have it, but are for the present kept back. If God should withdraw his hand, by which they are restrained, they would in one moment fly upon their poor souls. The old serpent is gaping for them; hell opens its mouth wide to receive them; and if God should permit it, they would be hastily swallowed up and lost.

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The Psychology of Impermanence

The "Seeker Friendly" philosophy of ministry is nothing new (Ecc 1:9). Consider these words from A.W. Tozer written c.a 1960's:

Time may show that one of the greatest weaknesses in our modern civilization has been the acceptance of quantity rather than quality as the goal after which to strive. This is particularly evident in the United States. Costly buildings are constantly being erected with no expectation that they shall last more than one short generation. . . . Not only in our architecture but almost everywhere else is this psychology of impermanence found. A beauty salon ad recently defined a term which has long needed clarification. It read: "Permanent Waves. Guaranteed to last three months." So, permanence is the quality of lasting three months! These may be extreme cases, but they illustrate the transiency of men's hopes and the brevity of their dreams apart from God. The church also is suffering from a left-handed acceptance of this philosophy of impermanence. Christianity is resting under the blight of degraded values. And it all stems from a too-eager desire to impress, to gain fleeting attention, to appear well in comparison with some world-beater who happens for the time to have the ear or the eye of the public. This is so foreign to the Scriptures that we wonder how Bible-loving Christians can be deceived by it. The Word of God ignores size and quantity and lays all its stress upon quality. Christ, more than any other man, was followed by the crowds, yet after giving them such help as they were able to receive, He quietly turned from them and deposited His enduring truths in the breasts of His chosen 12. He refused a quick shortcut to the throne and chose instead the long painful way of the cross. He rejected the offers of the multitude and rested His success upon those eternal qualities which He was able to plant in the hearts of a modest number of redeemed men. The ages have thanked God that He did.

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