“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

While it is Yet Today

Hebrews 3:5-19 -- Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope. Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways. As I swore in my wrath, They shall not enter my rest. Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called today, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion. For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

We in the Reformed movement have often been criticized (at times fairly, other times unfairly), for our evangelistic outreach. It is true that at times we in the Reformed movement seem to be infatuated with 'knowledge' to the exclusion of 'evangelistic proclamation', and that is a bad thing. It is important to feed the sheep with God's Word, but we must also be cognizant of the fact that some sitting in our church will be unregenerate, and we MUST tell them that ALL have been commanded to come to Christ, extending the offer of the gospel.

And there is an urgency to this call! I recently had a good friend pass away -- he was a Christian man, and very up front about his faith. He went to be with his Lord last week. His passing just reminded me how important it is for pastors to PROCLAIM the gospel message. Dale seemed to be in good health, and there was no indicator that he would go home one day after we discussed righteousness (which is a whole other post!). Yet, he did not wake up the morning of Thanksgiving, and while I am sure that Dale is in the presence of Christ, what if I had been talking to a person who did not know Christ? What if I had said "I will tell him about Christ on Friday when I see him".

And Dale would be right there with me -- if we could talk to him right now, I am sure that he would say PREACH THE WORD, in season and out.

We sometimes think that we have all the time in the world to just keep 'working' on someone, and so we will come at the gospel in a tangential manner, and 'hedge' our presentation so as to be unoffensive. And yes, that happens in the Reformed and non-Reformed movements. We have come to the place of thinking that places the gospel as a matter of import, but not PRIMARY import, and I think when we have that mindset we have failed to understand the eternal primacy of the gospel.

My brothers, our work is one that has eternity as its perspective, and while it is TODAY we MUST be proclaiming the gospel! Yes, we feed the ninety-nine, but we also go and pursue the one that has gone astray. Yes, our God is Sovereign and will draw His children, but we are to be proclaiming the gospel; He uses the means of the proclamation of the Word for His glory in bringing people to a saving knowledge of Christ!

Proverbs 27:1 -- Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.

Brothers, let us stop worrying about how many seats we fill, and where our ministry is 'going', and let us get back to shepherding the souls entrusted to us by our Over-Shepherd -- WHILE IT IS TODAY!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bad Blogger

I so envy the bloggers, such as my friend J.D.. These folks never miss a post, and always put something pertinent out. Every time I read JD's blog, there is some kernel of wisdom, or nugget of gold, and the blog is freshly updated everyday.

Were we bakers, his blog, and many others, would be freshly baked products everyday, and mine would be the botulism cart of cheap stuff that is parked in the corner of the grocer's. I admire bloggers who can produce a meaningful, well thought out post every day -- I am in awe that, not only do they have the time, but also have all of these wonderful thoughts floating about in their craniums.

I say all of this to say that I will SOON post again -- I had two friends pass away on Thanksgiving, and several of my folks just had, or are about to have surgery. Just seems that the narrow end funnel is catching up to me.

Anyway, back soon with SOMETHING...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Modern Reformation

I can't say it any better than this.

As usual Dr. Riddlebarger nails it!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Isaac

My beloved pet, who has been through many things with me, Isaac, a green-cheek conure, was diagnosed with lymphoma yesterday. We have had him around for 13+ years. He sat by me on many a day as I prepared sermons etc.

You can see him with me in the new picture to the right of this posting.

As I watch him deteriorate, I am driven to this Scripture:

Romans 8:9 - 22 -- For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

All too often we Christians think only of our own lives as regards redemption, but in fact CREATION will be redeemed! We need to understand the depth of sin and decay before we can truly appreciate the heights of God's salvific plan! My bird is dying because of sin, just as I am dying because of sin, just as the world is dying. When we understand that, it is then that we can begin to understand the incredible beauty of redemption!

Revelation 21:1 - 5 -- Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, Behold, I am making all things new.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Youth Ministry

Its that time of year again -- the time when the 'Red and Black Attack is Back', speaking of the local high school football team. Seeing these signs everywhere reminds me again of my concern for the youth of our nation. Now you may be asking yourself what would concern me about high school football? Well, it is NOT high school football that disturbs me, it is the overarching emphasis that every parent in our town, and many others, place on sports, or activities of some type.

I often wonder how much time parents spend on coaching football, putting together band parties, ensuring that their children's soccer team has adequate and cutting edge equipment, and how little time they generally spend catechizing their children.

I am not addressing this from the outside, I was a youth pastor for many years, and would often have young people dumped at my feet with their parents muttering something like -- "Can you teach our son/daughter about God? They really don't seem to be interested in the faith" All the while the parents have completely neglected the training up of their children in things of eternal weight, and have taught, by example, that almost everything else is more important that Biblical disciplines. Then it becomes my job to take this pagan youth in their caterpillar stage and work with them so they emerge at 18 in their Christian butterfly stage.

Why do parents think they are somehow capable of coaching football, but incapable of teaching the Word of God? Just because some guy watches a lot of football on TV DOES NOT qualify him to be a coach -- so why does he think he is qualified? Yet, leading the children in Bible study, teaching them about prayer and leading, by example, in Godly living, is something every Christian parent SHOULD be able to do, yet few do it, or even feel qualified to do it.

Why is that? Well, I believe that coaching a sport, or holding band parties is much more rewarding, not only to the child, but to the parent -- it fills a need, parents can live vicariously through their children. Or maybe it is the status of being a coach that appeals to the man or woman who can stand on the sidelines, clipboard in hand, daydreaming about their day in the sun. Sadly, most of these parents are good, Christian people -- they will spend their last dime on a function, but will not sit down with their children for fifteen minutes in the evening to lead them in God's Word.

And they pass this on to their children. I know in many homes that the TV comes on immediately when someone walks in the door, but the Bible sits on a shelf unopened until Sunday when the parent dusts it off, and dutifully carries it to church.

Let me ask you -- Do parents REALLY understand how they are to love their children if they spend more time teaching them Pee-Wee football, and neglect their role in the spiritual life of their children? Which one of these activities will last into eternity?

Let me close by saying this:

1. I am not against organized sports -- I am against the idolizing of it

2. I blame pastors as much as I do parents for the declension of the youth. Pastors, including youth pastors, have intimated to parents that they are not qualified to teach their own children, and it is best left to the 'professionals'

3. I also blame youth sport leagues which schedule games on Sundays now, so parents will miss church to ensure that their young one can compete in a little league game -- this sets the priorities for the children for life oftentimes.

A Voice Crying in the Wilderness?

There is nothing I need to add to Paul Washer -- the
message speaks for itself

Monday, November 05, 2007

This Weekend

Sorry for not posting over the past few days -- it has been a hectic week(end) with lots of things going on at the church and in my personal life. Anyway, this weekend several of us went to the Ligonier Regional Conference held here in the Dallas-Fort Worth.

I am no Challies -- (i.e. a 'live-blogger' par excellence), so this is not a blow-by-blow record of the conference. I just wanted to post a few thoughts/observations. First, it was wonderful to see Dr. Sproul -- this was the first time I had ever heard him speak live. I have many of his CD's from previous conferences, so I was familiar with the format, but it was great to sit under his teaching live.

Please keep him in prayer, he is still walking with a cane from his surgery, and it seems that he is bothered by this. However, he is amazing overall -- the Q&A sections really highlighted his ability to think on his feet and revealed a glimpse of the depth of his knowledge. Questions ranged from deep, well-thought-out to (IMHO) somewhat frivolous, yet he answered all graciously, and without anyone feeling like they were being 'dismissed'.

His final discussion on 'Justification by Faith', highlighting the difference between RC and Reformation/Protestant positions was very good, helping me get my head around the differences which are more nuanced than many people realize. (get the CDs!)

Steve Lawson absolutely blew me away! The man is an amazing expositor and I hope to one day attend one of his exposition seminars. His 'sermons', (they really were much more sermons than teachings), 'Christ Our Ransom', and 'Blessing or Curse?', were uplifting, inspiring, encouraging, and I could not write quick enough to catch everything. I must admit that before this I was unfamiliar with Steve Lawson, but I now have his podcast on my iPod, and I also purchased this and this. I am about halfway through 'Famine in the Land' -- very good book!

The staff was great, and I enjoyed meeting John and Mel Duncan -- they were gracious and very patient in spending time talking with me.

I highly recommend these conferences, and when the CD's come out, I think they would be a welcome addition to anyone's library.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Baptism Thoughts

I spoke on Baptism this weekend, and afterward baptized 5 folks. What a honor it is to be part of God's people and be able to perform baptism on these dear children of God. I felt it especially important to provide a Biblical understanding of Baptism, as two of the people who were baptized came out of Mormonism and JW's. Because of this, I thought I would post a few of my thoughts on baptism:

It seems that baptism has become either -- (a) Something not discussed, or practiced, or (b) something that has been denigrated to a 'Brats and Baptism' mentality.

I believe that part of the reason for this is that pastors often have such a diluted concept of why baptism is important, that they are unable to speak authoritatively as regards this ordinance, and this filters down to the flock. Baptism in the modern church has turned into either a pool party or a numbers game (a line forms, and a small LED counter lights up 'Now serving XX' and the pastor dutifully dunks and claps for the many people standing by)

I find it interesting that people in persecuted countries will risk life and limb to be baptized, at times going out in the dead of night and chipping a hole in a frozen body of water to perform a baptism. In our country we have to schedule it on our PDA, and it is definitely not a high priority, coming after football games, soccer practice, hunting, or any number of other activities.

Why is this? Well, I would provide you a link to a video illustrating what a 'modern pastor' thinks of baptism, but I find it so vile that I will not even provide them the free publicity. I will briefly sketch it out -- A so-called pastor produces a video in which he describes what one should wear to a baptism (a fellow 'actor' comes out in a variety of stupid costumes, which the pastor rejects), then he and the other person wrestle and throw each other into the pool, spending some time dunking one another and generally acting like fools. Then another 'actor' comes along and slides down a slide into the pool, whereupon the 'pastor' is shown (although it is bleeped out, we can all read lips), cussing him out for disturbing the video! Throughout this entire video there is not a mention of WHY we baptize, nor is there any sense of respect or reverence for the ordinance of baptism.

And this is but one of many videos on the web which depict baptism as some kind of outdoor 'fun' event that coincides with a B-B-Q, or some other me-centered activity.

Why baptize? Well, how about the very first fact -- Jesus Christ commands us to do so! Matthew 28:19, 20 -- Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Then how about the fact that it is a public proclamation, identifying you with Jesus Christ? How about the many references that Paul provides in which he describes the significance of baptism?

Romans 6:1 - 4 -- What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Colossians 2:11 - 14 -- In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.


Sadly, it is a rare event when the significance of baptism is taught in the shallow man-centered system that is practiced in all too many churches today. In fact, baptism becomes another thing all about ME! No significance is attached to it, save the fact that now you have fire insurance and can 'legally' become a member of the church! There is no emphasis on Christ's finished work on the cross, of our identifying with Him in His death and resurrection, or of Teshuvah (to use a Hebrew word), or repentance and turning AWAY from sin and TOWARDS Christ. There is no discussion of the true new birth, only some vague 'hallmark' comments.

This is why I run into many people who have been baptized ten times and want to have one more to see if it will stick; or who have been baptized and for years have not shown a single glimmer of the fruit of the Spirit. When baptism becomes a social status mark, and not a mark of death and rebirth, then you end up with the foolishness that pervades many churches today.

Pastors -- let us proclaim the gospel, practice baptism and the Lord's Supper with full reverence and a proper understanding, and teach the saints so that they may do works of ministry.