Contend Earnestly: February 2010

Saturday, February 27, 2010

4 White Guys and a Cambodian Walk Into a Mosque: My Visit to a Mosque

I know that the title either sounds like the start of a joke, or if you are like a lot of American Christians, you might think that this story is going to be a headline in the local news of some severe beating or maybe even deaths. But, it's not. Actually, once you have been to a Mosque, that sounds plain ridiculous.

Yesterday, I had the privilege to make a visit to the Mosque in Kent. Now, if you are like most Muslims or Christians you might be asking yourself, "Why did you go to a Mosque, aren't you a Christian?" I will answer this, towards the end.

As we entered, like with every encounter I have ever had with Muslims, they were extremely nice and welcoming. The funny thing is that when you walk around with a Cambodian, they automatically think that he is the Muslim and I am the one needing to be converted. The first person we spoke to was the parking attendant and he asked me straight up, "Are you a Muslim?" (very nice tone and just wondering). You have to understand, I wear a suit to work and I don't change when I go to the Mosque. So, if you think of the prototypical white Western Christian man, I am exactly that in appearance during the week. Once I get home or on the weekends...all bets are off though.

Because it was raining and we were quickly walking in, I didn't have time to give the man a proper response, so I just responded, "no." He told Michael, "Maybe you can convert him!" And we all laughed.

Because it was Friday, we were attending what Muslims call Jummah Prayers (which was my second visit to Jummah Prayers), is a congregational prayer (salat) that Muslims hold every Friday, just after noon in lieu of dhuhr. It is obligatory upon every sane, adult, Muslim male to attend. It is mentioned in the Qur'an as:

O you who believe! when the call is made for prayer on Friday, then hasten to the remembrance of God and leave off trading; that is better for you, if you know. (Qur'an 62:9)

Before we walk in, we take off our shoes and make our way to the front of the Mosque, or if you want to be correct, it is really an Islamic Center, not an actual Mosque. Which I think the difference is found in the rules pertained when a building is a Mosque that is very difficult to follow in the West. I might be wrong, so I'll have to ask my Muslim friends.

We sat in the back observing the men who had went early to make up for any prayers that they had missed that day. Because of mostly modesty issues, men and women are separated in the Islamic Center (sometimes women pray in the back, but not in the two Islamic Centers I have visited). The reason is that when the Muslim prays they prostrate themselves and are very tightly together and don't think it would be right for a Muslim man to be putting his head near a woman's butt for prayers. Actually sounds quite correct when you think of it.

At around 12:30 the call to prayer is started and the Imam or Sheikh stands up and gives what we would think of as a sermon. The man giving this sermon was AbdulQadir Sheikh. He is only 26 and is already a Sheikh and from what I understand he is studying to be a Mufti, which is quite impressive at such a young age.

After his sermon, it was time for prayer. The Sheikh sits down in the same position as every other man in the front, speaks some Arabic that is a call to honor and worship God, there is a response from the Muslims and then they all prostrate and pray. Because I don't know the correct way to pray in their religion, I merely stand in the back and pray with my hands turned palms up. It is always awesome to see so many men in unison pray to God in the middle of the day. Plus, it gave the chance for 5 of us followers of Jesus to take time out of our day and spend time in prayer for the Muslim people and my own need of forgiveness.

After the prayer time, there were announcements and the Sheikh, knowing we were coming because the President of CAIR invited us and told the Sheikh, introduced us and asked for everyone to show us hospitality. Afterward, we had the chance to speak to so many men and meet so many new friends. It was awesome. After about five minutes one man made his way to us and handed us all a container with hot food from a local Halal Restaurant. Again, true hospitality from our Muslim friends making us feel welcome.

The main question from the men was simply, "Why are you guys here?" They weren't asking out of anger or spite, but when 5 non-Muslims are at a Mosque, it is quite odd. Especially when five of us are as white as they come. I told those who asked me the truth. I am simply going to these Mosques to bridge the gap. I want to see peace between Muslims and Christians. I want to be the one reaching out and be the peacemaker. I want to show the Muslims that those who say that they love and follow Jesus actually do love them and see them as bearing the image of God. I simply told them that we seek to destroy the bad images of Muslims to those in the West. They laughed and said, "Yeah...because we're not terrorists!" We all busted out in laughter. They were all quite humbled by the fact that we would reach out, come to their place of worship and reach out our hands to build peace. I told them that I was a follower of Jesus seeking to live out what Jesus called us to do, "Love the Lord God with all my heart and to love my neighbor as myself." I told them, "No Muslim has ever done anything evil against me, so you aren't my enemy, but I would like you to become my friend." The smiles on the faces of these men were awesome and we could have stayed all day. But, it was time for some Starbucks with the Sheikh.

Those that went to Starbucks were:

The Sheikh

He was wearing the traditional garb with the long robe, head covering, etc. Which made it very interesting to watch people stare at us as we sat with him.

The Head of CAIR, Seattle (Council on American-Islamic Relations)

A Local Pastor

2 Local Peacemakers who are followers of Jesus

My friend Michael and elder at Harambee who is a local peacemaker and follower of Jesus

Myself. A white businessman who loves Jesus.

It was quite the group. As we entered Starbucks, I knew I was going to be paying for this coffee time as it was a great privilege to sit with these men and discuss how we can break down the barriers between Muslims and Christians in our area. I think the Sheikh could see this and he came up to me and insisted on paying. I refused at first, but his sincerity was unmistakable, so I allowed him to pay with gratitude.

What is interesting is that as we sat, he continued to apologize because he wasn't giving us enough hospitality properly. He was astonished that we would all take time out of our days to spend in their Jummah prayers to seek them out for peace. He said because of this, it challenged him to know us and love us more and he asked if he could visit our places of worship. At one point, Michael repented for Christianity as a whole for not loving them like Jesus has called us to, and the Sheikh also repented to us saying that it goes both ways.

Over all, we spent about 2 hours telling our stories and building friendships. It was a great time and one that we will be able to build on for the future. I know I'll go back to spend time with my new friends. I told the Sheikh that I just wanted Westerners to see Muslims as fathers, mothers, people who smile, cry and desire to worship God. He smiled and I caught him with his iPhone in his hand. I then added, "Westerners need to know that Sheikhs have iPhones!" Everyone laughed and we could see that this was going to be the first meeting of many. We invited the Sheikh and the others to our dialogue on "Who is Jesus?" at the end of March, which the Sheikh was excited about. As we left, I gave the Sheikh my business card and asked him to give me a call if he was ever in Bellevue, so I could take him to lunch. We gave a good ole fashioned man hug and went our ways.

I pray that other followers of Jesus will take time out of their day and visit a Mosque. We should be the ones reaching out to our neighbors and offering our hand of love and service. Whether you see a Muslim as an enemy or just another citizen, it is our duty as followers of Jesus to love them, bless them and pray for them. Don't let those Muslims living around you feel out of place, welcome them and show them there are Christians who truly follow the ways of Jesus.

If you are in the Seattle area and would like to visit a Mosque, please contact me, we can make it work.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Islam 101 with Faiz Rahman

Great short video on the basics of all the way through as he speaks at the end on extremists. Get to know Muslims and love them and befriend them. They are our neighbor. May we live like Jesus lived.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Interview with a Muslim Imam

My friend Michael, who will be part of the dialogue at Harambee on March 27th interviews the one who will also be part of the dialogue, Imam Joban. This should give you some insight to Imam Joban and why he desires to dialogue about Jesus the Messiah. If you want to come to the dialogue, please do. You can either email me directly to let me know of your interest or any questions. It should be a very good event and one I am much excited about.

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Pursue, Not Only Knowledge, But Also Wisdom

It's pretty interesting these days to speak to and listen to pastors. What I have noticed is that, for the most part, they regurgitate what they've heard. They seem to not know how to make decisions or logical conclusions for themselves. What they seem to do is merely memorize what they have read or have been taught from others and never truly test their conclusions in the "real world."

Of course, I have seen this most clearly lately with the study of Islam. Most Christian pastors not only have never had any Muslim friends, but haven't even read anything by Muslim scholars to try and understand what they believe and why. Instead, they have read Western apologetics so that they can attack that evil religion and go on their own personal 21st century crusade against their character and culture. But, it doesn't stop at Islam. It seems to go much farther than that. It seems as though most just regurgitate Calvin, Edwards, Piper, Driscoll, Sproul, etc. and think that means that they have wisdom on subjects. What they then do, is desire their flocks to do the same. It becomes memorization of knowledge, instead of the pursuit of wisdom.

There is a difference.

I was explaining to a friend of mine, who reads this blog, my intent from the very beginning with this blog. The intent isn't for people to agree with me. That would be close to impossible with my differing ideas on systematic theology and how I live it out. It is very hard to put me in a box. I am Calvinistic, Reformed, Very Missional & Contextual, Intentional, Slightly Ecumenical, Baptistic, Amillelianial (kind of) and I lean heavy on the 5 Solas yet love logic.

What I want from this blog is for people to come alongside and learn what it means to try and live out Sola Scriptura and Semper Reformanda (Scripture alone & Always Reforming). The hardest part for anyone reading this blog is to see my growth. I write what I am learning. If you want to freak yourself out, go back to when I first started this blog and look at how moralistic my posts were. I have hopefully been reforming towards God, instead of self. It didn't make my last church leadership too happy when I kept reforming instead of just taking people's word for what I should believe. I always ask, "why?" and then I read differing view points on the subject to hopefully get a very wide range of learning to make my own decisions on subjects. That is what I hope for everyone who reads this blog. I just want people to learn how to defend biblically what they believe, and if it doesn't line up with Scripture, learn to move on and reform. People hate that last I could care less. Who do I have to impress besides Jesus?

Back to wisdom and knowledge.

I believe that many pastors have a ton of knowledge. I believe they have this because they are good at memorizing and reading Christian stuff. There is a reason that Paul said that knowledge puffs up and he didn't say "wisdom puffs up." Knowledge of something or someone is knowing facts about it or someone. Wisdom is more personal. Wisdom comes through living in light of something or with someone. Knowledge isn't bad, it is actually very good, but it just shouldn't be the end game, knowledge along with wisdom should be.

Wisdom comes from experience, knowledge comes from study.

The easiest example of this comes from Job. Job knew of God, actually knew a lot about God and was righteous. But, what is interesting is what Job says after he goes through a ton of tribulations and quite the diatribe from God. It would seem Job is saying, "I used to have only knowledge, but know I have true wisdom along with my knowledge."

Then Job answered the Lord and said,
“I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
“Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
‘Hear, now, and I will speak;
I will ask You, and You instruct me.’
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You;
Therefore I retract,
And I repent in dust and ashes.”
Job 42:1-6

Today, what I have noticed is that pastors, and from them their flocks, stop at knowledge. They don't desire to truly go after wisdom. They don't want to come into actual contact and fellowship with sinners, with other religions, with other ideas. Because of this, their conclusions are never tested and in the end, they are never truly their conclusions, but just regurgitated from their heroes of the faith.

Notice how wisdom begins by experiencing God...(although this also starts with knowledge, it doesn't end by just knowing stuff about God):

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
A good understanding have all those who do His commandments;
His praise endures forever.
Psalm 111:10

To fear God only comes from your own wisdom and knowledge of who God is...interpersonally.

If we want to truly have wisdom, we should truly interact with people who think differently than we do. And, if we are Calvinists, we should know that we won't conform to their views of Jesus or his work, but we will understand more fully those around us and their conflictions of the mind.

I challenge you to read books and interact with those and truly befriend those you know you won't agree with. I believe this will show you more of who God is, because they have the Imago Dei.

Pursue, not only knowledge...but also wisdom.

Wisdom shouts in the street,
She lifts her voice in the square;
At the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
At the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings:
“How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded?
And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing
And fools hate knowledge?
“Turn to my reproof,
Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you.
“Because I called and you refused,
I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention;
And you neglected all my counsel
And did not want my reproof;
I will also laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when your dread comes,
When your dread comes like a storm
And your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
When distress and anguish come upon you.
“Then they will call on me, but I will not answer;
They will seek me diligently but they will not find me,
Because they hated knowledge
And did not choose the fear of the Lord.
“They would not accept my counsel,
They spurned all my reproof.
“So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way
And be satiated with their own devices.
“For the waywardness of the naive will kill them,
And the complacency of fools will destroy them.
“But he who listens to me shall live securely
And will be at ease from the dread of evil.”

Proverbs 1:20-33

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Saturday Morning Coffee & Music

I figured I would throw up the four musicians I am hooked on to go along with my four shots of coffee in my mocha this morning.

The first two are guys that are a part of our music ministry at Soma Communities.

Aaron Spiro's sound is very soulful and one that goes very well with morning coffee. I imagine Aaron closed his eyes a lot when he made this CD. It just seems like music that would make you do that if you were making it. Aaron's music is very poetic, both on this CD and the songs he writes for us as we gather to worship. Trees Without Leaves and I Feel Grace are two of my favorite on the CD.

Trevor Davis is new to us up here in Seattle. He is from San Deigo where he has quite he following it seems. He moved up here specifically to join up with Soma and help in leading music. His sound is a lot like Jack Johnson, but still his own. Plus, instead of a little monkey named George, Trevor has a huge elephant riding a bicycle on the front of his CD. Actually, I am going to refer to 2 of his CDs that I have bought, where Soldier, Grace, Across the Clouds and Arrowplane are my favorites.

Trevor Davis: Nothing Ringing True

Trevor Davis: Seven Days

Lecrae's single, Far Away is a benefit song where all the proceeds are going to Haiti. I highly recommend you picking this one up.

Lecrae: Far Away

The last is one that I am sure most know, but I still can't get past. It is Kim Walker's song, How He Loves, which is on a compilation live CD called, Jesus Culture: We Cry Out. This song seems to grip me everytime I hear it. It even gets all charismatic at the end and this old baptist kid still doesn't mind it.

Kim Walker: How He Loves

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Muslim and Christian Dialogue: Can You Help?

I don't think I have ever asked for anything from my blog readers besides patience and understanding as you have to read my crappy posts. Upcoming at Harambee Church we are having a dialogue between Muslims and Christians on the person and work of Jesus. At the event, we would like to hand out Sharif Bibles to those who attend from a Muslim background that speak Arabic that would like a Bible in their own language. The Sharif Bible is written in Arabic with the Muslim context in consideration. If you would please consider following the links below, purchasing a Bible, or Bibles and having it shipped to:

Harambee Church
Attn: Michael Ly
316 S. 3rd St.
Renton, WA 98057

This would be of great help to us and the event where we are expecting around 300 Muslims and Christians to attend.

Here are the Links for the Bibles:

Christian Book


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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Using Spurgeon's Catechism with Your Children

I thought I would give a couple of thoughts on what I have been doing with my two boys as we get together for dinner and before bed. I have decided to do something that is quite old school, but something that I think is great to do to make sure that the truths of the whole story of God are put forth to my kids. I have been using Spurgeon's Catechism with my boys. Caleb is 7 and Coleman is going to turn 4 in April. I will actually put the whole catechism below, but figured I would also give some advice on how to use the catechism and also ask for advice from those who have catechized in the past or presently.

1. Don't Just Memorize

The worst thing you could do with this is simply memorize it. You need to explain each on in the terms your child will understand. So, for the first one, I will ask the question, the boys will answer, then I'll ask them to explain what it means. The first one is this:

Question: What is the chief end of man?

Answer: Man's chief end is to glorify God, (1Co 10:31) and to enjoy him for ever (Ps 73:25,26)

The way that I have put this for Caleb and Coleman is to have them understand that this means, "Why is Caleb and Coleman on this earth? What is their purpose?" Then we go into understanding ways we can glorify God and why God wants us to enjoy him. This way, they aren't merely memorizing something, but able to apply it in their culture and context and also ask questions so they can truly understand them.

2. Don't let this supplant prayer and bible study

I honestly need to do a better job at leading in both of these. My wife does a great job of a daily bible study, but I would like to be more regular with my children. Although catechism is good for overall understanding, it is still not the Bible nor is it the power of the Spirit through prayer.

3. Take Your Time

I actually only do one per 2 or three weeks. I want them to truly understand each one. I am not in a race. I want them to be able to articulate each one so that these 'stick' with them for a long period of time. These are great truths that I want to be presuppositions for them as they grow up. I want to continually go through these things so that my children have that time to ask questions. Through this, my oldest has asked things like, "How do we know there is a heaven?" "How do we know there is a hell?" "Why can't we see God?" "If God loves everyone, why does he allow children to starve in Africa?" This all from asking the simple question, "What is the chief end of man?"

Take your time with it and allow your children to direct how much time to spend on each question.

These are my quick ideas for Catechism. Don't let the age of your children be a hindrance. Start them young, start them old. Even if they aren't believing children, the conversations that come from it will fascinate and challenge you to understand how to explain great truths to your children. Also, if you have Catechized, or are presently and would like to give some advice, please feel free to do so in the comments section.

Here is the full Catechism: (if you want the original webpage click here)


I am persuaded that the use of a good Catechism in all our families will be a great safeguard against the increasing errors of the times, and therefore I have compiled this little manual from the Westminster Assembly's and Baptist Catechisms, for the use of my own church and congregation. Those who use it in their families or classes must labour to explain the sense; but the words should be carefully learned by heart, for they will be understood better as years pass.

May the Lord bless my dear friends and their families evermore, is
the prayer of their loving Pastor.

C. H. Spurgeon


Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. II Timothy 2:15

The London Baptist Confession of 1689 and the Westminster Shorter Catechism had fallen into disuse among the Particular Baptists in England. The causes for this shift in historical moorings from the Westminster family of confessions and catechisms are many and varied. The primary cause for their disuse was an emerging High or Hyper Calvinism that looked to the Standards for historical legitimacy while augmenting its theology with writers who held to a loose subscriptionist position as regards the 1689 Confession. Spurgeon sought to recover and reclaim the middle ground, or biblical path, between a man-centered Arminianism on the one side and a deistic Hyper-Calvinism on the other. The Prince of Preachers believed this catechism walked in that narrow way.

Spurgeon saw that this document was placed back in print somewhere about October 14, 1855. In that year Spurgeon turned 21 years young. On that day Spurgeon preached to a large audience at the New Park Street Church from Psalm 90:1, "The text that morning was, Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations". The sermon is found as number 46 in those volumes. When the sermon was prepared for the press it contained an announcement of the impending publication.

Mike Renihan

1 Q What is the chief end of man?

A Man's chief end is to glorify God, (1Co 10:31) and to enjoy him for ever (Ps 73:25,26)

2 Q What rule has God given to direct us how we may glorify him?

A The Word of God which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments (Eph 2:20 2Ti 3:16) is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify God and enjoy him (1Jo 1:3).

3 Q What do the Scriptures principally teach?

A The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man (2Ti 1:13 Ec 12:13).

4 Q What is God?

A God is Spirit (Joh 4:24), infinite (Job 11:7), eternal (Ps 90:2 1Ti 1:17), and unchangeable (Jas 1:17), in his being, (Ex 3:14), wisdom, power (Ps 147:5), holiness (Re 4:8), justice, goodness and truth (Ex 34:6,7).

5 Q Are there more Gods than one?

A There is but one only (De 6:4), the living and true God (Jer 10:10).

6 Q How many persons are there in the Godhead?

A There are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one God, the same in essence, equal in power and glory (1Jo 5:7 Mt 28:19).

7 Q What are the decrees of God?

A The decrees of God are his eternal purpose according to the counsel of his own will, whereby for his own glory he has foreordained whatever comes to pass (Eph 1:11,12).

8 Q How does God execute his decrees?

A God executes his decrees in the works of creation (Re 4:11), and providence (Da 4:35).

9 Q What is the work of creation?

A The work of creation is God's making all things (Ge 1:1) of nothing, by the Word of his power (Heb 11:3), in six normal consecutive days (Ex 20:11), and all very good (Ge 1:31).

10 Q How did God create man?

A God created man, male and female, after his own image (Ge 1:27), in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness (Col 3:10 Eph 4:24) with dominion over the creatures (Gen 1:28).

11 Q What are God's works of providence?

A God's works of providence are his most holy (Ps 145:17), wise (Isa 28:29), and powerful (Heb 1:3) preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions (Ps 103:19 Mt 10:29).

12 Q What special act of providence did God exercise toward man in the state wherein he was created?

A When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience (Ga 3:12), forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon pain of death (Ge 2:17).

13 Q Did our first parents continue in the state wherein they were created?

A Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the state wherein they were created, by sinning against God (Ec 7:29) by eating the forbidden fruit (Ge 3:6-8).

14 Q What is sin?

A Sin is any want of conformity to, or transgression of the law of God (1Jo 3:4).

15 Q Did all mankind fall in Adam's first transgression?

A The covenant being made with Adam, not only for himself but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in his first transgression (1Co 15:22 Ro 5:12).

16 Q Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?

A The fall brought mankind into a state of sin and misery (Ro 5:18).

17 Q Wherein consists the sinfulness of that state whereinto man fell?

A The sinfulness of that state whereinto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam's first sin (Ro 5:19), the want of original righteousness (Ro 3:10), and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin (Eph 2:1 Ps 51:5), together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it (Mt 15:19).

18 Q What is the misery of that state whereinto man fell?

A All mankind, by their fall, lost communion with God (Ge 3:8,24), are under his wrath and curse (Eph 2:3 Ga 3:10), and so made liable to all the miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell for ever (Ro 6:23 Mt 25:41).

19 Q Did God leave all mankind to perish in the state of sin and misery?

A God having, out of his good pleasure from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life (2Th 2:13) did enter into a covenant of grace to deliver them out of the state of sin and misery, and to bring them into a state of salvation by a Redeemer (Ro 5:21).

20 Q Who is the Redeemer of God's elect?

A The only Redeemer of God's elect is the Lord Jesus Christ (1Ti 2:5), who being the eternal Son of God, became man (Joh 1:14) and so was and continues to be God and man, in two distinct natures and one person for ever (1Ti 3:16 Col 2:9).

21 Q How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?

A Christ, the son of God, became man by taking to himself a true body (Heb 2:14) and a reasonable soul (Mt 26:38 Heb 4:15), being conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary, and born of her (Lu 1:31,35) yet without sin (Heb 7:26).

22 Q What offices does Christ execute as our Redeemer?

A Christ as our Redeemer executes the offices of a prophet (Ac 3:22), of a priest (Heb 5:6), and of a king (Ps 2:6), both in his state of humiliation and exaltation.

23 Q How does Christ execute the office of a prophet?

A Christ executes the office of a prophet, in revealing to us (Joh 1:18), by his Word (Joh 20:31), and Spirit (Joh 14:26), the will of God for our salvation.

24 Q How does Christ execute the office of a priest?

A Christ executes the office of a priest, in his once offering up himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice (Heb 9:28), and to reconcile us to God (Heb 2:17) and in making continual intercession for us (Heb 7:25).

25 Q How does Christ execute the office of a king?

A Christ executes the office of a king in subduing us to himself (Ps 110:3), in ruling and defending us (Mt 2:6 1Co 15:25) and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.

26 Q Wherein did Christ's humiliation consist?

A Christ's humiliation consisted in his being born, and that in a low condition (Lu 2:7) made under the law (Ga 4:4), undergoing the miseries of this life (Isa 53:3), the wrath of God (Mt 27:46), and the cursed death of the cross (Php 2:8); in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time (Mt 12:40).

27 Q Wherein consists Christ's exaltation?

A Christ's exaltation consists in his rising again from the dead on the third day (1Co 15:4), in ascending up into heaven, and sitting at the right hand of God the Father (Mr 16:19), and in coming to judge the world at the last day (Ac 17:31).

28 Q How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?

A We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us (Joh 1:12) by his Holy Spirit (Tit 3:5,6).

29 Q How does the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?

A The Spirit applies to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us (Eph 2:8) and by it uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling (Eph 3:17).

30 Q What is effectual calling?

A Effectual calling is the work of God's Spirit (2Ti 1:9) whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery (Ac 2:37), enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ (Ac 26:18), and renewing our wills (Eze 36:26), he does persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ freely offered to us in the gospel (Joh 6:44,45).

31 Q What benefits do they who are effectually called, partake of in this life?

A They who are effectually called, do in this life partake of justification, (Ro 8:30), adoption (Eph 1:5), sanctification, and the various benefits which in this life do either accompany, or flow from them (1Co 1:30).

32 Q What is justification?

A Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein he pardons all our sins (Ro 3:24 Eph 1:7), and accepts us as righteous in his sight (2Co 5:21) only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us (Ro 5:19), and received by faith alone (Ga 2:16 Php 3:9).

33 Q What is adoption?

A Adoption is an act of God's free grace (1Jo 3:1) whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God (Joh 1:12 Ro 8:17).

34 Q What is sanctification?

A Sanctification is the work of God's Spirit (2Th 2:13) whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God (Eph 4:24) and are enabled more and more to die to sin, and live to righteousness (Ro 6:11).

35 Q What are the benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?

A The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification (Ro 5:1,2,5), are assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Spirit (Ro 14:17), increase of grace, perseverance in it to the end (Pr 4:18 1Jo 5:13 1Pe 1:5).

36 Q What benefits do believers receive from Christ at their death?

A The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness (Heb 12:23) and do immediately pass into glory (Php 1:23 2Co 5:8 Lu 23:43), and their bodies, being still united to Christ (1Th 4:14) do rest in their graves (Isa 57:2) till the resurrection (Job 19:26).

37 Q What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?

A At the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory (1Co 15:43), shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment (Mt 10:32), and made perfectly blessed both in soul and body in the full enjoying of God (1Jo 3:2) to all eternity (1Th 4:17).

38 Q What shall be done to the wicked at their death?

A The souls of the wicked shall at their death be cast into the torments of hell (Lu 16:22-24), and their bodies lie in their graves till the resurrection and judgment of the great day (Ps 49:14).

39 Q What shall be done to the wicked at the day of judgment?

A At the day of judgment the bodies of the wicked being raised out of their graves, shall be sentenced, together with their souls, to unspeakable torments with the devil and his angels for ever (Da 12:2 Joh 5:28,29 2Th 1:9 Mt 25:41).

40 Q What did God reveal to man for the rule of his obedience?

A The rule which God first revealed to man for his obedience is the moral law (De 10:4 Mt 19:17) which is summarised in the ten commandments.

41 Q What is the sum of the ten commandments?

A The sum of the ten commandments is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbour as ourselves (Mt 22:37-40).

42 Q Which is the first commandment?

A The first commandment is, Thou shalt have no other gods
before me.

43 Q What is required in the first commandment?

A The first commandment requires us to know (1Ch 28:9), and acknowledge God to be the only true God, and our God (De 26:17), and to worship and glorify him accordingly (Mt 4:10).

44 Q Which is the second commandment?

A The second commandment is, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments."

45 Q What is required in the second commandment?

A The second commandment requires the receiving, observing (De 32:46 Mt 28:20), and keeping pure and entire all such religious worship and ordinances as God has appointed in his Word (De 12:32).

46 Q What is forbidden in the second commandment?

A The second commandment forbids the worshipping of God by images (De 4:15,16). or any other way not appointed in his Word (Col 2:18).

47 Q Which is the third commandment?

A The third commandment is, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain.

48 Q What is required in the third commandment?

A The third commandment requires the holy and reverent use of God's names (Ps 29:2), titles, attributes (Re 15:3,4), ordinances (Ec 5:1), Word (Ps 138:2), and works (Job 36:24 De 28:58,59).

49 Q Which is the fourth commandment?

A The fourth commandment is, Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor they cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

50 Q What is required in the fourth commandment?

A The fourth commandment requires the keeping holy to God such set times as he has appointed in his Word, expressly one whole day in seven, to be a holy Sabbath to himself (Le 19:30 De 5:12).

51 Q How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?

A The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days (Le 23:3), and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God's worship (Ps 92:1,2 Isa 58:13,14), except so much as is taken up in the works of necessity and mercy (Mt 12:11,12).

52 Q Which is the fifth commandment?

A The fifth commandment is, Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

53 Q What is required in the fifth commandment?

A The fifth commandment requires the preserving the honour, and performing the duties belonging to every one in their various positions and relationships as superiors (Eph 5:21,22 6:1,5 Ro 13:1), inferiors (Eph 6:9), or equals (Ro 12:10).

54 Q What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment?

A The reason annexed to the fifth commandment is, a promise of long life and prosperity -- as far as it shall serve for God's glory, and their own good -- to all such as keep this commandment (Eph 6:2,3).

55 Q Which is the sixth commandment?

A The sixth commandment is, Thou shalt not kill.

56 Q What is forbidden in the sixth commandment?

A The sixth commandment forbids the taking away of our own life (Ac 16:28), or the life of our neighbour unjustly (Ge 9:6), or whatever tends to it (Pr 24:11,12).
57 Q Which is the seventh commandment?

A The seventh commandment is, Thou shalt not commit adultery.

58 Q What is forbidden in the seventh commandment?

A The seventh commandment forbids all unchaste thoughts (Mt 5:28 Col 4:6), words (Eph 5:4 2Ti 2:22), and actions (Eph 5:3).
59 Q Which is the eighth commandment?

A The eighth commandment is, Thou shalt not steal.

60 Q What is forbidden in the eighth commandment?

A The eighth commandment forbids whatever does or may unjustly hinder our own (1Ti 5:8 Pr 28:19 21:6) or our neighbour's wealth, or outward estate (Eph 4:28).

61 Q Which is the ninth commandment?

A The ninth commandment is, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

62 Q What is required in the ninth commandment?

A The ninth commandment requires the maintaining and promoting of truth between man and man (Zec 8:16), and of our own (1Pe 3:16 Ac 25:10), and our neighbour's good name (3Jo 1:12), especially in witness-bearing (Pr 14:5,25).

63 Q What is the tenth commandment?

A The tenth commandment is, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife,nor his manservant, or his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbour's.

64 Q What is forbidden in the tenth commandment?

A The tenth commandment forbids all discontentment with our own estate (1Co 10:10), envying or grieving at the good of our neighbour (Ga 5:26), and all inordinate emotions and affections to anything that is his (Col 3:5).

65 Q Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?

A No mere man, since the fall, is able in his life perfectly to keep the commandments of God (Ec 7:20), but does daily break them in thought (Ge 8:21), word (Jas 3:8), and deed (Jas 3:2).

66 Q Are all transgressions of the law equally heinous?

A Some sins in themselves, and by reason of various aggravations are more heinous in the sight of God than others (Joh 19:11 1Jo 5:15).

67 Q What does every sin deserve?

A Every sin deserves God's wrath and curse, both in this life and that which is to come (Eph 5:6 Ps 11:6).

68 Q How may we escape his wrath and curse due to us for sin?

A To escape the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin, we must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Joh 3:16), trusting alone to his blood and righteousness. This faith is attended by repentance for the past (Ac 20:21), and leads to holiness in the future.

69 Q What is faith in Jesus Christ?

A Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace (Heb 10:39), whereby we receive (Joh 1:12), and rest upon him alone for salvation (Php 3:9), as he is set forth in the gospel (Isa 33:22).

70 Q What is repentance to life?

A Repentance to life is a saving grace (Ac 11:18), whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sins (Ac 2:37), and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ (Joe 2:13), does with grief and hatred of his sin turn from it to God (Jer 31:18,19), with full purpose to strive after new obedience (Ps 119:59).

71 Q What are the outward means whereby the Holy Spirit communicates to us the benefits of redemption?

A The outward and ordinary means whereby the Holy Spirit communicates to us the benefits of Christ's redemption, are the Word, by which souls are begotten to spiritual life; Baptism, the Lord's Supper, Prayer, and Meditation, by all which believers are further edified in their most holy faith (Ac 2:41,42 Jas 1:18).

72 Q How is the Word made effectual to salvation?

A The Spirit of God makes the reading, but especially the preaching of the Word, an effectual means of convicting and converting sinners (Ps 19:7), and of building them up in holiness and comfort (1Th 1:6), through faith to salvation (Ro 1:16).

73 Q How is the Word to be read and heard that it may become
effectual to salvation?

A That the Word may become effectual to salvation, we must attend to it with diligence (Pr 8:34; 1Pe 2:1,2), and prayer (Ps 119:18) receive it with faith (Heb 4:2), and love (2Th 2:10), lay it up into our hearts (Ps 119:11), and practise it in our lives (Jas 1:25).

74 Q How do Baptism and the Lord's Supper become spiritually

A Baptism and the Lord's Supper become spiritually helpful, not from any virtue in them, or in him who does administer them (1Co 3:7 1Pe 3:21), but only by the blessing of Christ (1Co 3:6) and the working of the Spirit in those who by faith receive them (1Co 12:13).

75 Q What is Baptism?

A Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, instituted by Jesus Christ (Mt 28:19) to be to the person baptised a sign of his fellowship with him, in his death, and burial, and resurrection (Ro 6:3 Col 2:12), of his being ingrafted into him (Ga 3:27), of remission of sins (Mr 1:4 Ac 22:16), and of his giving up himself to God through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life (Ro 6:4,5).

76 Q To whom is Baptism to be administered?

A Baptism is to be administered to all those who actually profess repentance towards God (Ac 2:38 Mt 3:6 Mr 16:16 Ac 8:12,36,37 10:47,48), and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and to none other.

77 Q Are the infants of such as are professing to be baptised?

A The infants of such as are professing believers are not to be baptised, because there is neither command nor example in the Holy Scriptures for their baptism (Ex 23:13 Pr 30:6).

78 Q How is baptism rightly administered?

A Baptism is rightly administered by immersion, or dipping the whole body of the person in water (Mt 3:16 Joh 3:23), in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, according to Christ's institution, and the practice of the apostles (Mt 28:19,20), and not by sprinkling or pouring of water, or dipping some part of the body, after the tradition of men (Joh 4:1,2 Ac 8:38,39).

79 Q What is the duty of such as are rightly baptized?

A It is the duty of such as are rightly baptized, to give up themselves to some particular and orderly Church of Jesus Christ (Ac 2:47 Ac 9:26 1Pe 2:5) that they may walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless (Lu 1:6).

80 Q What is the Lord's Supper?

A The Lord's Supper is an ordinance of the New Testament, instituted by Jesus Christ; wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to his appointment, his death is shown forth (1Co 11:23-26), and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporeal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace (1Co 10:16).

81 Q What is required to the worthy receiving of the Lord's Supper?

A It is required of them who would worthily partake of the Lord's Supper, that they examine themselves of their knowledge to discern the Lord's body (1Co 11:28,29), of their faith to feed upon him, (2Co 13:5), of their repentance (1Co 11:31), love (1Co 11:18-20), and new obedience (1Co 5:8), lest coming unworthily, they eat and drink judgment to themselves (1Co 11:27-29).

82 Q What is meant by the words, until he come, which are used by the apostle Paul in reference to the Lord's Supper?

A They plainly teach us that our Lord Jesus Christ will come a second time; which is the joy and hope of all believers (Ac 1:11 1Th 4:16).

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Son's Story of Redemption: The Beginning

The story has only started, especially when one thinks of eternity, of my son's redemption. Of course we don't know when God started to pierce his heart inwardly, but outwardly, we have had two distinct times that we have noticed, one being when he turned to God for redemption.

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Mark 1:15

My son is only 7 years old (as of January 30) and I never thought that he would start to understand and be affected by his sin at such a young age. Of course, understand and affected, are subjective terms that can never be fully realized until at the feet of our Saviour. But, about 4 months ago, my wife told me that my son, Caleb, was weeping over his sin. Not really sure what to think about this, my wife prayed with him, held him close and spoke to him about the gospel.

Fast forward a couple more months and about 6 weeks ago.

Caleb was having some issues and we sent him to bed after dinner because of his behavior. I prepared my grand sermon to give him and headed up the stairs to his room to allow him to hear my amazing wisdom. As I entered, I laid next to him in his bed and we started to talk, me looking for an opening to enter into my diatribe.

I just opened with, “How are you?” At this point, my son started to weep loudly. He asked me, “Dad, why do I keep sinning when I don’t want to sin? Why do I keep being so stupid when I know that I should obey?”

Taken back, I went to Romans 7. But, before I could, he said, “Why don’t you just tell me what you think, why do you always talk about the Bible and what it says?”

I simply asked him, “Who knows all things?”

Caleb: God

Me: Does daddy know everything?

Caleb (quickly responds): No.

Me: Isn’t it better to hear what God says about things instead of daddy?

Caleb: Yes.

Me: Where does God tell us about things?

Caleb: The Bible

I proceeded to tell him about Paul’s dilemma in Romans 7, and that the only reason that Paul had any hope was because he repented and believed in Jesus.

Caleb then stated, “But I really hate my sin!”

Me: Who else hates sin, even more than you do?

Caleb: God

Me: What did God do because he hated sin so much? Who did he send for us and what did He do?

Caleb: He sent Jesus to die on the cross

Me: Exactly

Caleb: But, why would God send Jesus who never sinned to die for me when I sin all the time?

Me: We aren’t completely sure why, but we do know that God loved us so much that he did. We also know that God did it because it glorified him most. Isn’t that amazing news? That you don’t deserve Jesus to die for you, but that God loved you so much that Jesus did die for you?

Caleb: Well…yeah!

Me: Speaking of your sin and you wanting to do good instead of sin, can you do anything apart from Jesus?

Caleb: No.

Me: Is your heart dirty or clean?

Caleb: Dirty. But, I want it to be clean!

Me: Do you want to ask Jesus to clean your heart?

Caleb: Well yeah, but tomorrow I will just sin again…am I supposed to just keep praying every day that Jesus would clean my heart and forgive me?

Me: Exactly. Caleb, know that a prayer won’t make you perfect. Is daddy perfect?

Caleb: No.

Me: Right. Daddy asks for Jesus to forgive his sins all the time and asks for Jesus to give him power over sin, but I still sin. We aren’t perfect, but with a clean heart given to us by God, through Jesus, we can then have the power by the Holy Spirit to do good things that please Jesus. But, the cool thing is that when we sin, we can go to Jesus and we can ask him to clean our heart and forgive us.

Would you like to thank Jesus for dying for you and ask him to clean your heart?

Caleb: Yes, should we do it right now?

Me: Yes. Go ahead, I’ll just listen…you can pray to Jesus and talk to him

At this point, Caleb thanked God and Jesus for all that they had done. He asked Jesus to clean his heart. In all, Caleb and I spent a little over an hour speaking about the things of God and the cross of Jesus Christ.

A couple of weeks ago, our church announced that they would be doing a baptism and said that if anyone else desired to be baptized that we should get in contact with them. I ended up meeting with one of our pastors and told him about Caleb. I told him that in past churches I have attended that they would never allow, or be very skeptical, of a 7 year old saying that he repented and turned to Jesus.

He simply asked, “What are we waiting for in baptism? Are we going to wait until we see enough good works before they get baptized? That’s not grace, that’s legalism. In the Bible, they never wait to see good works, but they based the baptism on the profession of faith because of grace, not on the good works of the individual.”

I completely agree. We cannot withhold baptism because we haven’t seen enough good works. We must understand that to withhold because of works, we don’t portray the goodness of the gospel, but the gracelessness of moralism.

My son even mentioned, “I shouldn’t get baptized because I am too young.” He then mentioned our previous church (this is not mentioned to be hateful to my last church in anyway...this is jus what my son picked up) and said, “They wouldn’t let me get baptized, so I’ll just wait until I am older.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, and how much he had caught on. I quickly corrected him and we spoke of the gospel and then we read passages concerning baptism and I asked him, “Do you want to be baptized?” He quickly responded, “Yes.”

The past week, my son at the age of 7 was baptized. He professed, through his tears (probably my fault as I cried while introducing Caleb) his faith in his own words and we celebrated. My wife asked him what he thought and he said, “I’ll never forget this day.”

So, on February 14th, 2010, my son preached his first public sermon in the proclamation of what Jesus did on his behalf both in words and in the visual of baptism. From this day, I will continue to seek out what it means to be a repentant person in Christ and instill that in my son.

My wife and I have been praying for this before Caleb was born and entrusted him to Jesus. This entrusting doesn't end here, as we don't truly know if he is saved (as we as humans don't know who is truly a part of the invisible church), but continues from here and our job is to nurture his growth in grace through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The verse that Caleb read at his baptism, that he asks to read every night before bed (which has caused him to memorize it on "accident") is found in 2 Corinthians 7:10

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Jim Gaffigan and Christianity

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Friday, February 12, 2010

John Piper Reminds Me of a Muslim: God is the Gospel

I know I freak people out sometimes with my writings, but I found this short story in the book, Pilgrims of Christ on the Muslim Road by Paul Gordon Chandler. This reminds me much of some of what Piper is getting at in God is the Gospel. Read and tell me your thoughts. I find it quite beautiful:

I recall the example of Rabia al Adawia, a mystic in the first Islamic century. She carried a burning torch and a bucket of water in the streets of Basra. And she was asked why she was carrying a burning torch and a bucket of water. She responded by saying that she wanted to burn heaven and put out the fire in hell, because she wanted people to worship Almighty God not because they fear hell or want the reward of heaven. For in destroying heaven and hell, God is the only end - the only reward. She thought of God as so beautiful that he deserves worship for no reason other than who he is.

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The Big Red Tractor: By Francis Chan

Saw this over on Missional Church Center...any thoughts?

The Big Red Tractor from Jacob Lewis on Vimeo.

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What is a Missional Church?: Explained in 2 Minutes

I found this on Ed Stetzer's blog and thought it was helpful to explain the understanding of what it means to be a missional church.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The Christological Shema or Shahada?

The Shema for the Jew is found in Deuteronomy 6:4 and states:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one

It is the great foundation of the Jewish faith. Not only this, but the Shahada for the Muslim is stated in it's truest form as:

There is no god but God

Both of these form a creed of sorts to help show what is the true foundation of the messages of these great historic monotheistic faiths. Yesterday, I found this tweeted from Chuck Huckaby:

Speaking of Jesus' diety, a greek scholar told me that 1 Cor 8:6 is a Christological paraphrase of Shema in Dt 6:4 from LXX

This I found quite interesting so I went to the passage, which does very much show forth what sounds like a great understanding of a Christological Shema or Shahada of the Christian faith:

yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
1 Corinthians 8:6

Of course, as a follower of Jesus, I believe that 1 Corinthians 8:6 takes the Shema and the Shahada to their more fuller understanding through the work of Jesus Christ in whom is our Lord and in whom all things exist.

I found this quite interesting.

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Monday, February 08, 2010

Vintage Contend Earnestly: Door to Door Evangelism

I figured I would start admitting some of my mistakes in the past in regards to what I have written. One can see my growth or change in paradigms as you read some of the posts in the past. Although I don't think that door to door evangelism is wrong, I just wonder why I was so hell bend on trying to make it work instead of looking at other ways that might be more effective. Anyways...I am not ashamed of my weird past, so enjoy this post. The original post was written January 29th, 2007.


Talk about a dead issue these days. Who goes door to door anymore? Didn't the Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses ruin this for us who believe in the true Gospel? It doesn't really work, does it? As I continue in my thoughts on God's sovereignty from my last post the pracitical aspects of His sovereignty find themselves in this post and in this area of my life. I head the evangelism "team" at my church and a couple of months ago, and again yesterday, we went door to door handing out Bibles to our community and proclaiming the truth of our Lord's death and resurrection. I find this in the New Testament in Acts 5:42

And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

Now, I am not saying that if you don't go door to door you are sinning. But, I must ask for all those who don't: Why not?

Is it because of the above mentioned questions: The Mormons ruined it, it doesn't work, etc. etc. Again, do we not believe in God's sovereignty? I don't care what people think of me as I walk up to their door. They can think I am a Mormon or a Jehovah's Witness; they can yell at me, shut their door in my face, or tell me to go away from the comforts behind a closed door. You know why? Because I believe that God ordains those who will not only be home or not, but also ordains who will or will not open their door. Not only that, but I believe that this person who takes a Bible might throw that Bible away and the garbage man could pick it up and see it and be saved by the power of the word of God. I believe that these people could keep it on their night stand, be on the brink of a major breakdown and decide to pick up that Bible to save their soul. All because they decided to not go to the store, to open the door to a stranger and to take a Bible and not throw it away. All because of the sovereignty of God. He does not lose anything! If one of these is His elect and I am the only one who will ever witness to them then God will not only direct my steps to their house on the correct day at the correct time, but He will not allow them to be away from their house, will not allow them to NOT open the door and will direct their heart to take a Bible and listen to the strange young man speaking of Christ.

Have the Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses "ruined" this for us Christians? Only if you believe that God is not completely sovereign. Because I believe that He is, I go. Yesterday we knocked on many doors, had many responses, but in the end we handed out 40 Bibles to people who may or may not have their own copy of the sacred Scriptures. Now my prayer is that God would open the eyes of their heart to understand them.

Also, if I hear one more person say that "door to door doesn't work" or that "going door to door isn't their 'gift'" I might scream.

May we all press on towards the goal, and that goal is for God to be glorified in all we do.

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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

What Is Contextualization?

This is a repost from about 2 years ago.

I was reading erik's notes from the Shepherd's Conference and was caught by this quote by John MacArthur:

“contextualization is a curse.” The sermons we preach and the messages we proclaim should transcend “zip-codes.” MacArthur said, referring to Peter in Acts 2, “Not only did he not identify with the generation, but he said you have to be saved from it.”

So, what is contexualization? Because I believe that John MacArthur is either throwing out the baby with the bath water, or has no clue what he means by it.

First, let me say that if MacArthur is simply meaning that we don't try and change the word of God to make it easier for people to follow by taking truths out of the gospel to do so, then I agree with him. Such as. We shouldn't stop using words like sin and hell or speaking about the cross just because the current culture doesn't like to talk about certain things. That would be wrong and is downright blasphemy of the Gospel.

But, for Dr. MacArthur to simply say that "contextualization is a curse" I find to be way off...and I believe that his thoughts on Acts 2 are way off...because I believe that Peter actually contextualizes the Gospel in this very passage!

What is contextualization? First, good biblical contextualization is not what was previously mentioned, but good biblical contextualization is to know the audience and culture you are speaking to and bringing it to them in ways that they would easily understand.

I not only believe that it is okay to contextualize, but I believe that it is biblical and what Christ would have us do and what Christ actually did when he was here on the earth.

If I can give you an example:

Read John 10. The whole of the chapter is a passage on the good Shepherd, which is Christ. Why would Christ use this kind of explanation to give eternal truths? Because those in that region were very familiar with the shepherd and sheep relationship. It was very easy to see the truths that were being offered because Christ used the context, the culture that he was in, to explain the unexplainable. And Christ did this through his whole tenure as lead pastor while he was on this earth. Think seed and sower, the vine dresser, etc. All culturally relevent to those in that time.

You might be saying, "Well that was Jesus, he can do what he wants, He is God." Well...first, I don't like that reasoning for the mere fact that we are called to imitate Christ (1 John 2:6) and he is our perfect example (1 Tim 1:16) to follow in all things. But, I will play along.

First Example: Paul

Everyone knew that I would go here, but look to Acts 17. Paul is in Athens to preach the Gospel and notices a bunch of gods being represented and especially one that is called, "The unknown God." What I like here is the use of correct biblical contextualizaion. Notice that Paul uses the culture around him to illustrate eternal truths. The truths are not changed, nor are they watered down. The reason we know this is because the Stoics didn't believe in the resurrection of the dead, and yet what does Paul preach?

because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
Acts 17:31

Paul, although in a different culture than a Jewish one, didn't ignore the truth but proclaimed it. But notice that he didn't ignore who he was speaking to either, but contextualized the gospel so that it would be more clear for the hearers, just as Christ did the entire time he was on this earth.

Second Example: John

I am not sure how many people know this but John contextualized actual God-breathed Scripture, and he did it with one of our favorite verses that prove the Deity of our Lord Jesus. It is found in John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:1

The term here, as most know, for the term Word is the Greek word logos. What most don't know is the usage of this word in it's historical context. The term logos was known to most Greeks as that "thing," whatever it was, that held the earth together.

Look at what the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says about this word logos:

Although little used in epic,32 λόγος; achieved a comprehensive and varied significance with the process of rationalisation which characterised the Greek spirit. Indeed, in its manifold historical application one might almost call it symbolic of the Greek understanding of the world and existence.

Theological dictionary of the New Testament.
1964-c1976. Vols. 5-9 edited by Gerhard Friedrich. Vol. 10 compiled by Ronald Pitkin. (G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley & G. Friedrich, Ed.) (electronic ed.) (4:77). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

John contextualized the very pages of Scripture so that those whom he was writing to would have a greater understanding of what, and who, he was speaking of. John did his own form of speaking of the "unknown logos" by showing that they could know the actual Logos, that became flesh.

Last Example: Peter

The last example is actually going to be shown from the very passage Dr. MacArthur tries to argue his point,
Acts 2. Do you think that Peter knew who he was talking to? If Paul uses the unknown god to show who God was to the Stoics in Athens and John uses the term "logos" to show the Logos for the Greeks to understand, then what should we expect Peter to use when he speaks to those in Jerusalem? Wouldn't Peter be smart to use their very patriarchs? It is hard to see what he is doing, but if you look closely, Peter is speaking to those in Judea (Acts 2:14) and then he uses what they would know, namely the Jewish Scriptures and patriarchs. He quotes Joel in Acts 2:16-21, then quotes David and the Psalms in Acts 2:25-28, then again quotes Psalm 132:11; 2 Samuel 7:12; and Psalm 89:3 in Acts 2:30; and finally ends with a quote from Psalm 110:1 in Acts 2:34,35. Notice that the message that he preaches is the exact message that Paul preaches in Acts 17 but with some tweaks because he is preaching to Jews and not Gentiles. In Acts 17 Paul does not quote one single Old Testament verse because he is speaking to the Gentiles so he contextualizes it to their unknown god so that they would understand.

I believe that Dr. MacArthur is making a huge mistake by saying that "contextualization is a curse," and continues to show that he is ignoring what emerging folks mean when we say we are contextualizing for the sake of Christ and His fame.

May we continue to love those who we are evangelizing and ALWAYS look for ways to contextualize the Gospel in a way that the will understand.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Mostest Weirdest Bible Stories: No. 8

Coming at number 8 is a story that makes me laugh. It is one that is so odd, you just have to laugh. It is the story of when the left handed man Ehud, sticks a sword in King Eglon, who is as fat as the Kool Aid man. I've also enjoyed this story because I am left handed, and guys that were left handed in the Old Testament usually wore a helmet and rode the short bus to the tabernacle. Here is the story given to us in Judges:

But when the sons of Israel cried to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for them, Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite, a left-handed man. And the sons of Israel sent tribute by him to Eglon the king of Moab.

Ehud made himself a sword which had two edges, a cubit in length, and he bound it on his right thigh under his cloak.

He presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab. Now Eglon was a very fat man.

It came about when he had finished presenting the tribute, that he sent away the people who had carried the tribute.

But he himself turned back from the idols which were at Gilgal, and said, “I have a secret message for you, O king.” And he said, “Keep silence.” And all who attended him left him.

Ehud came to him while he was sitting alone in his cool roof chamber. And Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you.” And he arose from his seat.

Ehud stretched out his left hand, took the sword from his right thigh and thrust it into his belly.

The handle also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not draw the sword out of his belly; and the refuse came out.

Then Ehud went out into the vestibule and shut the doors of the roof chamber behind him, and locked them.

When he had gone out, his servants came and looked, and behold, the doors of the roof chamber were locked; and they said, “He is only relieving himself in the cool room.”

They waited until they became anxious; but behold, he did not open the doors of the roof chamber. Therefore they took the key and opened them, and behold, their master had fallen to the floor dead.

Now Ehud escaped while they were delaying, and he passed by the idols and escaped to Seirah.

It came about when he had arrived, that he blew the trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel went down with him from the hill country, and he was in front of them.

He said to them, “Pursue them, for the Lord has given your enemies the Moabites into your hands.” So they went down after him and seized the fords of the Jordan opposite Moab, and did not allow anyone to cross.

They struck down at that time about ten thousand Moabites, all robust and valiant men; and no one escaped.

So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land was undisturbed for eighty years.

Judges 3:15-30

The story is in the great book of Judges, where Israel acts like they are skitzophrenic with short attention spans. They are like the old "Aggie" joke that my dad told me when I was in elementary school: (you can substitute "aggie" for "blonde" if you wish. Anyone from Texas or Oklahoma knows what an Aggie is...)

One Aggie's car's blinker goes out so he replaces it. After replacing it, he gets one of his Aggie buddies to make sure it works. So, he turns on the blinker and asks, "Is it working?" To which the friend responds, "yes, no, yes, no, yes, no."

This is Israel in the book of Judges. It is like asking them, "Do you love and worship God?" To which they respond, "yes, no, yes, no, yes, no."

The story of King Eglon takes over Israel as God allows him to rule over Israel and fulfill his will and desire to punish Israel through having Eglon live out his sinful desires. One of the first things that we find out about Eglon, which is just funny to see, is that, "Eglon was a very fat man." This actually plays out as key to the story as later, when Ehud decides to surprise attack Eglon. Eglon's fat engulfs the sword (which was probably more of a dagger) and his insides start to simply ooze out all over the place. If this isn't enough, this might have happened while Eglon was on the toilet. The reason is that when Ehud leaves, the attendants stay outside and wait for the fat king to "finish up." They assume this huge king is taking a crap and must be taking his time as he was in the "cool room."

So the story plays out that Ehud, the slow kid, tricks fatty Mcfat pants while he is on the toilet by pulling out a dagger and thrusting it into his belly. Which is so large it swallows up the dagger like it's at an all you can eat buffet, with sword being on the menu. As his insides are flowing out of him, Ehud somehow keeps from laughing, and calmly leaves the premises and escapes. All the while, the attendants are waiting for the king to finish up in the cool room (which must have happened a lot, because they weren't surprised by this long wait) and having to talk about who knows what, "How about dem Bears?" Finally, they go inside and find the fat king barreled over with his insides all over the place.

So, What Do We Learn About God's Glory in King McFatty?

We first see that God is indeed control at all times, and God is hilarious. He allows King Eglon to rule over Israel, only because it is the will of God and the sinful desire of the King. He does this to discipline his children from their idolatry and sinfulness. They are then sent a saviour in Ehud who redeems Israel from this foreign king to the right establishment of God as their king and Ehud as their judge.

This story, and others like it in Judges, shows the need for Jesus, the perfect Judge. Ehud could only come and rule the people from the outside, and himself was imperfect. When Jesus came, he rescued his people for all eternity and instead of ruling from the outside looking in, He sent his spirit to rule within their hearts. Not only this, but when we sin, we do not get wrath, but we get forgiveness because of Christ. This doesn't mean that we don't get disciplined sometimes, but Eglon, as with all the stories of wrath in Judges, are a picture of hell. We don't receive hell, but we receive the grace of God found in the cross and resurrection of Jesus.

This story, like all the Old Testament is a shadow of the greater person to come. The greater Ehud has come, to deliver us from the greatest Eglon, which is hell. But, both had to come because of one thing: our sin.

Like Israel, we are sinners and continue to sin. We, like Israel, are like the Aggie who continues to say, "yes, no, yes, no, yes, no" and if it wasn't for the perfect Saviour who came to mediate and redeem us, we would be judged for eternity by hell and Satan defeating us.

But God shows his love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. If this was in Judges, it would be like saying, "But God shows his love towards Israel, in that while they continued to sin and turn their backs against God, he saved them and redeemed them through a judge. "

Thanks be to the greater Ehud, Jesus Christ, for redeeming us from the even fatter king of this world, the devil.

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Monday, February 01, 2010

Celestine: Cry Out

Here is the newest from my friend Celestine. Another great song, with a video that shows that Christianity and Hip Hop can come together where we aren't all embarrassed to say it's Christian. I can't wait to unleash some of the designs for his and his wife Tara's ministry, Cry Out!

We had Celestine and Tara over for dinner and were humbled to hear their stories and what they are trying to do within the world of Hip Hop and mentoring teens for the glory of Christ. It is astonishing the work that Christ is doing through them and will do through them.

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Tea With Hezbollah: Sitting at the Enemies' Table

The book, Tea With Hezbollah, was quite interesting and different than I thought. I wasn't sure really what to expect, and what I found was both very well done and disappointing as well. The reason I say disappointing is that I thought the book was written by both Ted Dekker and Carl Medearis, when in reality, it was only written by Dekker. This was both informative and lacking. Here is what I mean.

The book is set up as the story of the journey of New York Times best selling author Ted Dekker and the most official title you'll ever get out of Carl Medearis, which is "Mr. Carl." Carl is actually the most prominant Western White "Christian" (better referenced as a follower of Jesus) to ever build bridges and share the life and ministry of Jesus to the insides of the most dangerous places on earth for most Christians to go. The journey for these two is to go to those that are considered the enemies of the United States and sit down and try and show their humanity through "People Magazine" type questions and then ask them on their thoughts on Jesus' command for us to love our enemies. The idea was for them to see if they could find "the Good Samaritan" living today. The list of who they actually sit down with is quite astonishing (some names so high up that they had to be changed for safety reasons):

Abdul Fadeel Al Kusi (head of Al Azhar University in Egypt)
A colonel in the Saudi Arabian army
Hussein Shobokshi (an influential media personality Saudi Arabia)
Two of Osama bin Laden's brothers
Sheik Muhammad Yamani (minister of information in Saudi Arabia and in charge of making Islamic law)
Sheik Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah (regarded by many to be Hezbollah's spiritual leader)
A Bedouin Prince
Two Lebanese Hezbollah Fighters
Hezbollah Sheik Nabil Qaouk
Mufti Abdul Fattah Al Bizem (Damascus Mufti who significantly influences the interpretation of Islamic law throughout entire region)
Sheik Ekrima Sa'id Sabri (Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, appointed by Yasser Arafat)
Sami Awad (to most a modern day "Christian" Gandhi in Bethlehem)
A top leader in the Hamas.

The questions that were shown in the book were things like:

What makes you laugh?
What is your favorite joke?
When was the last time you cried?
What are Americans wrong perceptions of Muslims?
What are Muslims wrong perceptions of Americans?
What do you think of Jesus' teaching of loving our enemies?
and more, depending on the interview

Now, the reason I say that I was disappointed that much of the perspective of Carl Medearis wasn't given is that the depth of the conversation just wasn't there. The purpose of the book, however, was to put a face and personality with these people we call our enemies. For the most part, they are our enemies as a country and politics, but for my personal convictions, they are not my personal enemies in any way.

I believe if Medearis co-authored the book, we might have received more in depth information on the spiritual insights that were discussed. But, this doesn't mean the book was a wash, it just wasn't completely what I was expecting. Ted Dekker is a great author and this book was one that I read in three days as Dekker made it easy to connect to as he referenced his fears and troubling thoughts as he was embarking on these journeys to places where literally no Christian had been in years. Not only is the reader given insight to the conversations that took place, but Dekker puts together mini history lessons for each place and person that they are going to interview, which was very helpful in putting more than merely a name and "pin in a map" before going into the interview.

Overall I liked the book. I think it will be very helpful in breaking down some walls with those we consider our enemies. Our enemies' personalities are brought out so that we can grow to understand and love them and try to carry out the most rebellious command ever given to us: love, bless and pray for our enemies.

If one is hoping to get more in depth understanding of Islam, this book isn't for you. If one is hoping to see Muslims and Christians speak about Jesus, this book has very little to offer. For both of those I would highly recommend Medearis' book, "Muslims, Christians and Jesus" or Siljander's book, "A Deadly Misunderstanding." But, if you desire to learn more about those that the United States has on terrorist lists and you desire to love and pray for them, this is a great book to start with.

Also, the follow up event to this book called, "Why Do You Fear Me?" has their video up from the event, which I highly recommend to hear some amazing stories on what is happening around the Muslim world.

I highly Recommend this book.

Link to Buy:

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