"Oh to Grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be.
Let thy goodness, like a fetter
bind my wandering heart to Thee!"

Sunday, October 28, 2007

True Conversion

These pretty much speak for themselves.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

*I Write This With A Shutter*

Well, tonight I came across the 18 part Atheist/Christianity debate on Way Of The Master's youtube channel. I'm not sure where the heck I've been or why it has taken me this long to see that thing, apparantly it was aired on ABC back in the beginning of the year? I'm not sure, but wow. I sat there and watched clip after clip of Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort give evidence to the existance of God while Brian and Kelly (2 athiests representing the 'Rational Response Squad') denied all of it. Well not just denied it, but mocked it and pretty much just laughed in their faces. And the atheists in the audience spoke so scornfully that it literally made me sick. I can't even begin to describe the way I felt as I watched it. My whole body shuttered with every God-hating comment....half of me calling out to the Lord for righteous judgment on their prideful souls, and the other half crying out "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do!" Oh my goodness, I seriously still can't shake it. So, with this horrible feeling, I turned no where else but to the scriptures as I asked the Lord to make sense of what I was witnessing. And God's Word, as always, was very clear that this is just confirming what the Lord has already said. Here are some of the verses the Lord showed me:

Proverbs 14:12
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

1Corinthians 3:18
Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their craftiness," and again, "The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile." So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future--all are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's.

1 Corinthians 2:6
Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him"-- these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. "For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.

1Corinthians 1:18
For the word of the cross is folly [foolishness] to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Well, that pretty much covers it. After a little bit of searching around on youtube I found an EXCESSIVE amount of stuff posted by kids who had a HATRED for the things of God. It's like an epidemic. I seriously had to stop watching it all because I could seriously feel it start to pollute my soul. No wonder these kids give into it...it's the easy thing to do: deny anything greater than yourself and then you get to spend your life looking to yourself for answers and answering to no one. ahhhhhhhhhhh. I'm so frustrated right now. This is sick. My heart is so burdened for these blind people. When I watched the debate, I couldn't help but think about how God opened up my eyes to the things of the Spirit, and how otherwise, I would be sitting there just like them. I did nothing to 'earn' this realization of truth, I didn't just up and come to God on my own, IT WAS A GIFT.

1 Corinthians 4:7 says "For who makes you to differ from another? and what have you that you did not receive? now if you did receive it, why do you glory, as if you had not received it?"

God makes me differ from those people who don't believe in Him. He chose me. He gave me the gift of faith so that I may be filled with His Spirit and discern spiritual things. I did nothing to deserve it...nothing at all. If anything, watching that made me ALL THE MORE thankful for my gift of salvation and ALL THE MORE humbled that the Lord elected me to be His child.

The Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:2-4 that during the end times people will be lovers of themselves:
"For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God"

Well this whole "rational response squad" is pretty much defining that for us. But then again, to them, I'm just a disillusioned Christian who has created this nonexistant religion in my mind. Everyone seems to be saying that Kirk and Ray were defeated in this debate, but I definitely would have to disagree. I mean really, what can you expect? They were trying to explain the spiritual ways of God to these unregenerated men in their natural, fallen, God-hating state. The only way for these people to come around and see the other side is by a supernatural work of God in which He removes their heart of stone and replaces it with a God-fearing and God-loving one. So in my mind, the debate was a huge success. Kirk and Ray were able to clearly present the Gospel to over 100 atheists. Because faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, seeds were planted in that room. If it is the Lord's will, then He will grow the seeds and open their eyes, and if not, they will remain ignorant. I commend Kirk and Ray for being the ones that got up there and, to the world, looked like fools for Christ. That is exactly what the Bible says we will look like, so of course thats why the hundred something atheists in that room were snearing them to their faces. As Christians we should expect nothing less.

My eyes were definitely opened up tonight to the severity of this situation. So many people are out there blaspheming the Name of God like it's something to be proud of. And as sick as it made me, it also helped me realize a lot. First of all, no matter how mad I get at these people for what they are saying against such a HOLY and RIGHTEOUS GOD, I must realize that them saying that stuff takes NOTHING away from the glory of the Lord and what Jesus Christ did for us on the Cross. Nothing. They can blaspheme all day if they want, but God is still God and His goodness and holiness are not dependent on what fallen man says about Him. And for that, I am extremely grateful. There is no doubt that Satan is out there trying to use all this stuff about atheism to get Christians to question their beliefs so that they turn from Christ and live for themselves. But all it is doing is solidifying my faith in the resurrected Jesus Christ who has come in the flesh. It is just reaffirming what exactly it is the Lord has delivered me from. For it is written, "As I have heard, so I have seen"...the words of the Bible aren't just words to me...they are alive and active in me and there is no logical, realism, rational response, scientific blah blah blah that can snatch me from the Hands of God. And it is so dumb for me to even question belief in an eternal God when these people who are debating me are people who have never tasted or seen that the Lord is good....so how can I blame them for not understanding? This is where I must step back and realize that all of this is part of the greater plan of the Lord, and I am here to just be a vessel for Him and preach Christ. That's it. Feel free to call me a disillusioned dummy along the way, I'm fine with that. Your insults are just faith refiners to me. Just remember that everyone has the law of God written in their hearts, and it is that knowledge that condemns us on the day of Judgement if we don't repent and trust Jesus Christ as our Savior.

I know this post seems like a rant, but I really was affected by what I saw tonight and I had to write some stuff to get this shuttering feeling out of my bones. yikes, utter disbelief is sweeping our universe....men turning against the God that created them to worship the created. Ah yes, sounds familiar...this pretty much sums it up:

Romans 1:20-24
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions.

God certainly has given them up to the lusts of their hearts, and it's extremely sad to see. I pray for God's elect, I pray that they will hear the voice of the Shepherd in the midst of all these foolish and vain babblings of the world. The great thing is that I know God is faithful and He will keep His promise to save His people.

Here is a sermon jam that all this reminded me of. All of this is a result of pride...pride pride pride. yuck, it's oozing everywhere out of humanity.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Jesus, Our Great Goel!

The more I read and study the Old Testament, the better I understand the New Testament. There is a reason for it, and I pity the person who writes it off as boring or irrelevant. This is a passage from the book of Leviticus, and I would love to explain why it has everything to do with the explanation of our redemption through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross. This passage right here is so rich with important points I don’t even know where to start... but by the Grace of God, I will try. I know this post looks long and drawn out, but that's just because I use a lot of scripture references. Read them, God's Words are alive and it is by them that we can be transformed by the renewal of our minds.

Leviticus 25: 47-55

47 Now if a sojourner or stranger close to you becomes rich, and one of your brethren who dwells by him becomes poor, and sells himself to the stranger or sojourner close to you, or to a member of the stranger’s family, 48 after he is sold he may be redeemed again. One of his brothers may redeem him; 49 or his uncle or his uncle’s son may redeem him; or anyone who is near of kin to him in his family may redeem him; or if he is able he may redeem himself. 50 Thus he shall reckon with him who bought him: The price of his release shall be according to the number of years, from the year that he was sold to him until the Year of Jubilee; it shall be according to the time of a hired servant for him. 51 If there are still many years remaining, according to them he shall repay the price of his redemption from the money with which he was bought. 52 And if there remain but a few years until the Year of Jubilee, then he shall reckon with him, and according to his years he shall repay him the price of his redemption. 53 He shall be with him as a yearly hired servant, and he shall not rule with rigor over him in your sight. 54 And if he is not redeemed in these years, then he shall be released in the Year of Jubilee—he and his children with him. 55 For the children of Israel are servants to Me; they are My servants whom I brought out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

First of all, in verse 47 we see that someone who has become poor is able to sell themselves into servant hood to someone who is rich in order to earn money to get out of debt. The stranger that has purchased the servant is to work them hard, but not vigorously, and he must pay him, so this isn’t a description of slavery as we think of it. That person will work until he has earned enough money to return to his own land, or a close relative can come and redeem him out of servant hood, which is what we see in verse 48. The relative would take the price of a servant during that time and multiply it by the years left in the Sabbatical- and that would be the redeeming price of the servant to get out of bondage. But if neither of those 2 things happen within 50 years of work, according to Jewish Law, at the end of 49 years (7 cycles of Sabbatical years) all land is returned to its original owner and all servants are set free to return to their own land with their families and all debts that are owed are forgiven among one another. This is known as the year of Jubilee. This has great significance, and it is the reason why today Christians believe it is God’s will that you stay out of debt. In verse 55, we see the Lord’s purpose for this law. We are to be servants of the Most High, not to anyone here on this earth. When we are in debt, we are a slave to whomever it is we owe. Think about it, even in today’s terms of debt, that is so true. Being in debt doesn’t allow you to put your resources into the things of the Lord; instead, you are consumed with paying back the person you owe. But God doesn’t want us in these bonds. He wants us to be free to serve Him, thus, the Jews had the year of Jubilee where all their debts were forgiven after 50 years so that they may return their efforts to serving the Lord. For it is written, no man can serve two masters. Who would have thought that such a great, PRACTICAL, teaching point could have come straight out of exegetical reading of the book of Leviticus! AMAZING! haha

Now, on to the meat of this passage. Let’s focus our attention on the close kinsman that is able to redeem his brother out of servant hood. There are three criteria that the redeemer must meet in order to set this servant free.

First, he must be NEAR KINSMAN. He must be a close relative of this person, or he does not qualify.

Second, he must be WILLING to pay the debt. Seems logical enough: if the person didn’t want to pay the price, then the servant remained enslaved.

And lastly, the relative had to be ABLE to pay the debt. Even if the kinsman had all the desire in the world to free his brother, if he was incapable of paying then there was nothing he could do. (A great example of this situation is when Boaz meets these three criteria and redeems the land of Ruth after her husband dies.)

The Hebrew word for redeemer is goel which comes from the verb gâ'al which means: to redeem (according to the Oriental law of kinship), that is, to be the next of kin (and as such to buy back a relative’s property, marry his widow, etc.) avenger, deliver, (do, perform the part of near, next) kinsfolk (man), purchase, ransom, redeem (-er), revenger.
The same word for redeemer used in Leviticus is used also to describe Christ.

Now let's look at Jesus Christ, our goel.

Philippians 2:5-8
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not a thing to be grasped to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. He was God manifested in the likeness of men. HE MADE HIMSELF A NEAR KINSMAN! He was born, He suffered, He died...all these things are things of man. (He also lived the life in perfection and was raised from the dead- things of God). The reason God predestined to send a Savior born of a woman to come and live a full life on earth and taste what we taste is so that Jesus Christ would fit the criteria of our goel. My friends, this right here...THIS is unique to Christianity! This right here is what separates Christians from all the other religions in the world. Christ was God in the flesh and was born into this world predestined to redeem His people from the bondage of sin. He became a man so that He could be our next in line kinsman. But let's not stop there...

John 10:11-18
I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. But he that is a hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees: and the wolf catches them, and scatters the sheep. The hireling flees, because he is a hireling, and cares not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knows me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Therefore does my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

Jesus Christ was WILLING to pay the price for His sheep! He tells us in this scripture that He has the power, and He is the one who is choosing to do this. When Pilate looks at Jesus and says that he has the power to crucify Him, Jesus answers:
You could have no power at all against me, except it were given you from above (John 19:11). And we see that power from above in Hebrews 10:4-10:

For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Therefore when he comes into the world, he says, Sacrifice and offering you desired not, but a body have you prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you have had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do your will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin you desired not, neither had pleasure in them; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do your will, O God. He takes away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

The Lord takes away the first (the blood of bulls and goats which did not suffice), to bring in the second (the blood of Jesus Christ). That was the will of the Father, and Jesus says it plainly: He came to do the will of His Father. Jesus Christ was willing to pay the price of death for the atonement of our sins because it was His Father's will for Him to do so. And He remained obedient unto death.

Ok, so Christ is 2 out of the 3....but is He able? Check out these scriptures...

Ephesians 1:5-8
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, in which he has made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Which he has abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence.

We are redeemed through His blood.

Colossians 1:12-22
Giving thanks unto the Father, who has made us fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things are held together. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were once alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now has he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable and unreprovable in his sight.

Here we see what Christ has delivered us from! We see what we are before Christ, and what we are now with His saving grace which reconciles us.

Hebrews 7:25
Therefore he is ABLE also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.

1 Peter 1:18
Since you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain manner of life received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

Jesus Christ passes the test as our REDEEMER! And not only does He qualify, but He followed through and actually did it. Just as a servant could be redeemed by a close kinsman who was willing and able to pay the price to get him out of bondage, so are we redeemed from the bondage of our sins. Folks, this is huge. This is big time. This is real. This isn't some fairly tale thing that your grandma made up. The story in Leviticus really paints a picture of what Christ has actually done for us on the cross. How about another analogy to drive it home:
Lets say that a child is kidnapped. Usually, the people who kidnapped the kid will call the parents of that child and ask for some ridiculous amount of money in exchange for their child back. The dilemma is always that the kidnappers want a ransom that is way too much for the parents to afford, so they are left feeling hopeless. They are close relatives who have all the love and desire in the world to get their child back, but they are incapable of paying that price. THIS IS OUR CONDITION WITHOUT CHRIST! Without the sacrifice of Christ, as our great GOEL, we are left hopelessly enslaved to the bondage of our sins. And without believing in Christ and what He has done for us through His death and resurrection and trusting our ENTIRE life to Him, and without repenting (turning away from) all the sin in our life, then we are just like the parents of the kidnapped child who had no hope of paying the ransom. We are left with no hope to die in our sins and we will reap the consequence of eternal death. I know it sounds harsh, but folks, its real. The saving Grace of our Great Goel (our Redeemer Jesus Christ) is a life-altering thing. When God opens your eyes to this truth, your life is never the same again. Being a child of God calls you to be separate from this world, because you have been bought with a price and you are not your own. That is why at the end of the Sabbattical all land was given back to it's original owner, because God wanted them to know that they are but tenants of the land, because all belongs to Him.

I pray that this helps us see why it is so important to refute the "all religions are the same" heresy. No they are not all the same. Only one points to Christ as our Redeemer. Do you see now why we must be able to fight for the truth instead of just going with the flow and avoiding controversy when someone says that there are many ways to get to heaven? We are being selfish if we roll over and don't speak truth because it is a very serious matter. If you believe the Bible as the inherent word of God, then there is no way that you can think that one is redeemed of their debt of sins without the shedding of Jesus Christ's blood. And don't say that you are a good person and God will look at your heart and will know that you deserve heaven. No mam. No sir. Our hearts are deceiful beyond comprehension, so I pray that the Lord doesn't base his decision on looking into my heart. The Bible says that there is not ONE who does good, not even one. (Psalm 53:3). Hebrews 9:22 says "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." It is by Christ's blood that we are forgiven, we have no righteousness of our own to claim. I don't know about you, but this passage in Leviticus gives me a whole new perspective on the verse in John 14:6 when Jesus says "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." He is the only one who fits the criteria of our Great Goel....period...and I pray that, if the Lord wills, I will spend my entire life contending for this life-giving truth.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

"...without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin." (Heb. 9:22)

Here is a link to a great blog post by one of my Christian brothers. It's about the remission of our sins through the blood of Jesus Christ...something that I know that I am quick to take advantage of. But when you take it in, and really believe on the sacrifice made for us on the cross...wow, it's powerful. And it's the ONLY way to live the transformed life of a child of God, through the power of the blood of Jesus Christ. It is the very weapon that we use to fight the bondage of sin...it is what brings us VICTORY!

Click here for the post.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Contending For Our All (when our all is at stake)

Here is an excerpt from the book "Contending For Our All" by John Piper. The entire book can be downloaded for free at http://www.desiringgod.org/

Controversy, Cowardice, and Pride

Some controversy is crucial for the sake of life-giving truth. Running from it is a sign of cowardice. But enjoying it is usually a sign of pride. Some necessary tasks are sad, and even victory isnot without tears—unless there is pride. The reason enjoying controversy is a sign of pride is that humility loves truth-based unity more than truth-based victory. Humility loves Christexalting exultation more than Christ-defending confrontation—even more than Christ-defending vindication. Humility delights to worship Christ in spirit and truth. If it must fight for worshipsustaining truth, it will, but that is not because the fight is pleasant. It’s not even because victory is pleasant. It’s because knowing and loving and proclaiming Christ for who he really is and what he really did is pleasant. Indeed knowing and loving the truth of Christ is not only pleasant now, it is the only path to everlasting life and joy. That’s why Athanasius (298-373), John Owen (1616-1683), and J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937) took so seriously the controversies of their time. It was not what they liked; but it was what love required—love for Christ and his church and his world.

Controversy Less Crucial, But Necessary

There are more immediately crucial tasks than controversy about the truth and meaning of the gospel. For example, it is more immediately crucial that we believe the gospel, and proclaim it to the unreached, and pray for power to attend the preaching of the gospel. But this is like saying that flying food to starving people is more immediately crucial than the science of aeronautics. True. But the food will not be flown to the needy if someone is not doing aeronautics. It is like saying that giving penicillin shots to children dying of fever is more immediately crucial than the work of biology and chemistry. True. But there would be no penicillin without such work.In every age there is a kind of person who tries to minimize the importance of truth-defining and truth-defending controversy by saying that prayer, worship, evangelism, missions, and dependence on the Holy Spirit are more important. Who has not heard such rejoinders to controversy: “Let’s stop arguing about the gospel and get out there and share it with a dying world.” Or: “Prayer is more powerful than argument.” Or: “We should rely on the Holy Spirit and not on our reasoning.” Or: “God wants to be worshiped, not discussed.” I love the passion for faith and prayer and evangelism and worship behind those statements. But when they are used to belittle gospel-defining, gospel-defending controversy they bite the hand that feeds them. Christ-exalting prayer will not survive in an atmosphere where the preservation and explanation and vindication of the teaching of the Bible about the prayer-hearing God are devalued. Evangelism and world missions must feed on the solid food of well-grounded, unambiguous, rich gospel truth in order to sustain courage and confidence in the face of afflictionsand false religions. And corporate worship will be diluted with cultural substitutes where the deep, clear, biblical contours if God’s glory are not seen and guarded from ever-encroaching error.It is not valid to contrast dependence on the Holy Spirit with the defense of his Word in controversy. The reason is that the Holy Spirit uses means—including the preaching and defending of the gospel. J. Gresham Machen put it like this:

It is perfectly true, of course, that argument alone is quite insufficient to make a man a Christian. You may argue with him from now until the end of the world; you may bring forth the most magnificent arguments—but all will be in vain unless there is one other thing: the mysterious, creative power of the Holy Spirit in the new birth. But because argument is insufficient, it does not follow that it is unnecessary. Sometimes it is used directly by the Holy Spirit to bring a man to Christ. But more frequently it isused indirectly.

This is why Athanasius, John Owen, and J. Gresham Machen engaged their minds and hearts and lives in the Christ-defining and Christ-defending controversies of their day. It was not because the Holy Spirit and prayer were inadequate. It was because the Holy Spirit works through the Word preached and explained and defended. It was because biblical prayer aims not just at the heart of the person who needs persuading, but also at the persuader. The Holy Spirit makes a biblical argument compelling in the mouth of the teacher and in the heart of the student. And Athanasius, Owen, and Machen believed that what they were contending for was of infinite worth. It was indeed not a distraction from the work of love. It was love—love to Christ, his church, and his world. Controversy When “Our All” Is at Stake In Athanasius’s lifelong battle for the deity of Christ against theArians, who said that Christ was created, Athanasius said, “Considering that this struggle is for our all . . . let us also make it our earnest care and aim to guard what we have received.” When all is at stake, it is worth contending. This is what love does. Machen, in his twentieth-century American situation, put it like this: “Controversy of the right sort is good; for out of such controversy, as Church history and Scripture alike teach, there comes the salvation of souls.” When you believe that soul-saving truth (our all) is at stake in a controversy, running away is not only cowardly but cruel. These men never ran. John Owen, the greatest Puritan intellect, took up more controversies than Machen and Athanasius combined, but was driven by an even more manifest love for Christ. Not that he loved Christ more (only God can know that); but he articulated the battle for communion with Christ more explicitly than they. For Owen, virtually every confrontation with error was for the sake of the contemplation of Christ. Communion with Christ was his constant theme and goal. He held the view that such contemplation and communion were only possible by means of true views of Christ. Truth about Christ was necessary for communion with Christ. Therefore all controversy in the defense of this truth was forthe sake of worship. What soul that hath any acquaintance with these things falls not down with reverence and astonishment? How glorious is he that is the Beloved of our souls! . . . When . . . our life, our peace, our joy, our inheritance, our eternity, our all, lies herein, shall not the thoughts of it always dwell in our hearts, always refresh and delight our souls? As with Athanasius, Owen said that “our all” is at stake in contending for the truth of Christ. Then he brings the battle intothe closest connection with the blessing of communion with God. Even in the battle, not just after it, we must commune with God. “When we have communion with God in the doctrine we contend for—then shall we be garrisoned by the grace of God against all the assaults of men.” The aim of contending for Christ is also essential to the means. If we do not delight in Christ through the truth that we defend, our defense is not for the sake of the preciousness of Christ. The end and the means of Christ-exalting controversy is worship.

A Mistaken Notion About Controversy and Church Vitality

There is a mistaken notion about the relationship between the health of the church and the presence of controversy. For example, some say that spiritual awakening and power and growth will not come to the church of Christ until church leaders lay aside doctrinal differences and come together in prayer. Indeed there should be much corporate prayer for God’s mercy on us. And indeed there are some doctrinal differences that should not be elevated to a place of prominence. Machen explained his own passion for doctrine with this caution: “We do not mean, in insisting upon the doctrinal basis of Christianity, that all points of doctrine are equally important. It is perfectly possible for Christian fellowship to be maintained despite differences of opinion.” But there is a historical and biblical error in the assumptionthat the church will not grow and prosper in times of controversy. Machen said, as we saw above, that church history and Scripture teach the value of right controversy. This is important to see, because if we do not see it, we will yield to the massive pragmatic pressure of our time to minimize doctrine. We will cave in to the pressure that a truth-driven ministry cannot be a people-loving, soul-saving, church-reviving, justice-advancing, missions-mobilizing, worship-intensifying, Christ-exalting ministry. But, in fact, it is truth—biblical truth, doctrinal truth— that gives foundation and duration to all these things.

Like a refiner’s fire, intense theological debate has resulted in clarified belief, common vision, and invigorated ministry. J. Gresham Machen came to the same conclusion as he lookedover the history of the church and the nature of Christ’s mission in the world:

Every true revival is born in controversy, and leads to more controversy. That has been true ever since our Lord said that he came not to bring peace upon the earth but a sword. And do you know what I think will happen when God sends a new reformation upon the church? We cannot tell when that blessed day will come. But when the blessed day does come, I think we can say at least one result that it will bring. We shall hear nothing on that day about the evils of controversy in the church. All that will be swept away as with a mighty flood. A man who is on fire with a message never talks in that wretched, feeble way, but proclaims the truth joyously and fearlessly, in the presence of every high thing that is lifted up against the gospel of Christ.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Expository Thoughts on Jeremiah 18

I realize that a lot of today's evangelical sermon menu is plagued with topical sermon after topical sermon in hopes that 'this' will be the thing that finally gets the world to pay attention to Christianity. The more relevent you make it to today's times, the more likey they are to come and listen! Right? Hmm. It hurts my soul to think about that. Since when has the Word of God alone not been enough? It is the living Word of God...and the power lies in it, not some extra attention getter. I also realize that by putting the word "expository" in the title of my blog post I have probably run 50% of you off because who wants exposition of the Bible these days? Just give us the 'practical' stuff that we deal with in everyday life and support your claims with a few scriptures. Well, by doing that you miss out on the amazing attributes of God's truths that are found in the books that are deemed "unrelevent" or the verses that tell a story and can't just be taken out of context to support your claim. The Bible recounts a historical story (an amazing one at that), it has a plot, and it is not to be taken as a buffet style book where you pick and choose what you want to hear. I am so grateful for those that stay true to the expository preaching method because it allows the richness of God's Word to penetrate your life. I'm not saying that all topical sermons are bad, I'm just pointing out the importance of the authority of God's Word and our responsibility to expose it properly. So here's a chapter in Jeremiah. Take a look at what we can learn from such a man sent by God to preach truth day in and day out (warning, it's long but the message from God's Word is worth the read) :)

The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear my words.
-Theres an idea here of simple obedience. Many times in this book God simply tells Jeremiah to go and do something, and as silly or random as it sounds to Jeremiah, he goes. Lesson #1 if you ask me.

Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he worked a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
-That last phrase is HUGE! Here we see the sovereignty of the potter! He can do whatever he sees fit with the clay.

Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? says the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it;
-God is the potter, we are the clay. God is a sovereign God, and He will do with us whatever is most glorifying to Him. Here we see that God is sovereign over nations. And Paul refers to this same message in Roman chapter 9, but it is a personal message. He explains God's sovereignty over each and every persons' lives. Isn't it great to see that Paul is referring to Old Testament Scripture when he writes? The thing is...both of these messages BOTHER people. This bothered the people of Isreal then, and it continues to bother people today when they read Romans 9. Why? Because it asks: who can resist the will of God?...and the answer everytime is NOBODY! So if that is true, people want to know then what kind of God would do such a thing. God has a character, and it is revealed through these very scriptures, and you must understand that God's sovereignty will NEVER go against His character. Do you see now how important it is to read the entire counsel of God so you know His character? Ok keep reading, because we are about to see some of these very important truths.

If that nation, against whom I have spoken, turn from their evil, I will change from the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; If it does evil in my sight, that it obeys not my voice, then I will change from the good, with which I said I would benefit them.
-Here we see the sovereignty of God again. God says, if this nation whom I have spoken evil of in the previous verse REPENTS and turns from their wicked ways, then I will change (KJV uses the word "repent") of the evil I have pronounced. A great example of this is the city of Nineveh is the book of Jonah. But God is setting up 2 situations here, because He says that if a nation that He has spoken blessing upon changes to disobedience, then He will repent of the good He pronounced. So once again we see the Sovereignty of God and the responsibitly of man to REPENT. (Keep in mind that building a viewpoint or worldview without these truths is perverting the message.)

Now therefore go, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus says the LORD; Behold, I am shaping evil against you, and devise a plan against you: return you now everyone from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.
-Here God is telling Jeremiah to go and tell the men of Judah this message that he has received. He is to warn them that God is devising a plan against them because of all their iniquities, BUT that there is still time for them to return to Him and repent of their evil ways. WOW, after all that Judah had been doing, God still opens the door to repentence once again. So that is the end of the message from the Lord via Jeremiah, now it is time for the people to respond...

And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own plans, and we will everyone do the imagination of his evil heart.
-Wow! They respond saying that there is no hope for them. This is the ultimate rank on belief that there possibly could be. Who are they (and us) to sit around and say there is no hope when God says there is! Who are they to say that God can't change them? I think what has happened to them is the same thing that is happening today. People have these horrible sinful habits and they have tried over and over again to self-reform, and it has never worked so they give up. And it never will work. That is why such self-help messages like Olsteen's and many others are so dangerous because it points to yourself as the remedy, not God...just like these people in Judah. This is also another great example of how men love darkness, and they will reject God's command to repent because of this love. The difference in someone who is saved and someone who is not is this: a saved person already is aware of how bad they are, so they respond to this message by going to the Lord for help, not themselves. People who deny this total depravity are unable to respond to this call to repentance because they still aren't getting the fact that they are bad enough to need to repent.

Therefore thus says the LORD; Ask you now among the nations, who has heard such things: the virgin of Israel has done a very horrible thing. Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which comes from the rock of the field? or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken? Because my people have forgotten me, they have burned incense to worthless idols, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in pathways, and not on a highway;
-The answer to those first questions is of course not. God is making the point that no one in their right mind would leave these things, and yet the people of Judah have done this very thing. They have forsaken the beauty of the Lord for worthless idols. Pretty self explanitory, and if you ask me...pretty fitting for what is going on today. They have exchanged the truth for a lie, and have chosen to walk in pathways that are not on a highway. Their paths are not leading upward towards God.

To make their land desolate, and a perpetual hissing; everyone that passes by it shall be astonished, and shake his head. I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will show them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity.
-Well, then here is the punishment to all that give leads to the path of the devil. A lady in our church is a missionary in Haiti, and she said that this is exactly what happened to Haiti. 200 years ago it was one of the richest colonies in the west, and now after the country began giving leads to the devil and feeding the lusts of their flesh, it is one of the poorest nations. (You might say that this is not always the case, for many wicked people/countries seem to be the successful ones. Jeremiah makes the same observation in chapter 12, verses 1 and 2. You must realize that the wicked have the wrath of God waiting for them on Judgement Day, no matter how great their lives seem to be going here on earth. Also, it is brought up again in verse 20 of this chapter so keep reading).

Then said they, Come, and let us devise plots against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, and let us attack him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.
-Ah yes, if you don't like the message, get rid of the messenger right? That's what the people of Judah's response to this message from the Lord was. They wanted to kill Jeremiah so they wouldn't have to hear the judgment anymore. SIDENOTE- one of my close Christian brothers, Joey, (and probably the closest person I have known to a modern-day Jeremiah) just left for South Korea to get married. Well, he was an open-aired evangelist who spoke truth day in and day out in the same spot on campus here at UF. There was an article written up in our school newspaper about his departure, and the responses to the editor were more or less "THANK GOD HE IS LEAVING!" This is what the people of Judah were thinking. If only they could make Jeremiah disappear they would be much better off and free of guilt. These students on campus believe that by Joey leaving they are somehow less condemned, but news to them, it's not the messenger, its the message which condemns us. And at the end of verse 18, the people decide to verbally smear Jeremiah in hopes of destroying him, and they decided not to listen to anything else he had to say. What really gets me in both situations is that there is a remedy being offered by these guys from the Lord himself: repentence from evil ways and surrendering to Him. But men love their darkness, so they pay no attention.

Give heed to me, O LORD, and listen to the voice of them that contend with me. Shall evil be recompensed for good? for they have dug a pit for my soul. Remember that I stood before you to speak good for them, and to turn away your wrath from them.
-Here Jeremiah begins to pray. He again questions how evil can be recompensed for good, as he struggles with his afflictions. Yes, in a perfect universe good should be repayed with good and evil with evil, but that is not one that we live in. Don't believe me? Look at how Christ, the ULTIMATE good, was treated on this earth. Once again we must keep our eyes on the Judgment seat of Christ and know that those that have hope in this life only are of all men most miserable (2 Corinthians 15:19).

Therefore deliver up their children to the famine, and pour out their blood by the force of the sword; and let their wives be bereaved of their children, and be widows; and let their men be put to death; let their young men be slain by the sword in battle. Let a cry be heard from their houses, when you shall bring a troop suddenly upon them: for they have dug a pit to take me, and hid snares for my feet. Yet, LORD, you know all their counsel against me to slay me: forgive not their iniquity, neither blot out their sin from your sight, but let them be overthrown before you; deal thus with them in the time of your anger.
-And here we see a very frustrated and mad Jeremiah. It is obvious that he is asking the Lord to deal with these people justly, for they have completely turned their backs on Him.

But notice how Jeremiah didn't skip a beat. Even after people were trying to devise his own death, he went right back to preaching God's word and all that God had told him to share. Wow, if that isn't a lesson I don't know what is. The servant of God just keeps on sharing, no matter what the response to his message is. If we depend our motivation to preach God's word on how many respond, then we are done (or we are in danger of changing our message so that we yield more 'results'). You see, God is our motivation. The loving Lord who has saved us from His Holy wrath is the ONLY motivation we should need. If Jeremiah was fueled by those who responded posititevely to his message then he would have given up LONG BEFORE people were threatening his life.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Words from a Contending Coach

Well, I've found one of my new favorite "contenders of the Faith" guys...his name is Coach Dave Daubenmire, some of you might remember his story back in the early 1990's when he was sued by the ACLU for praying with his high school football team in Ohio. He taught in the public school system for 25 years, until finally he was tired of teaching the "Devil's Doctrine" and got out and started his own ministry and radio show. He is known for his controversial style (the guy doesn't care if you walk away feeling warm and fuzzy, he just wants you to know the truth). And that's why I like him. Here's one of his articles, and Lord willing I will post more by him at a later date. We need more people out there like Coach Dave who realize that Christianity is a war...its a battle to be fought.


Coach Dave Daubenmire
May 11, 2006

Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

I picked up the paper today and read about another city that was attempting to outlaw smoking. It is amazing to me to see how much time and attention we spend on the issue. In fact, the amount of money spent on the body and care-of-the-body issues is astounding. Now don’t get me wrong, I care about my physical condition and believe that we should take care of ourselves, but doesn’t it, in the long run, seem so futile? Aren’t we all, at some point, going to die? Won’t we all return to dust?

There is only one part of us that is going to live forever. That is our soul. The soul is the part of you that makes you who you are. It consists of three parts; the mind, the will, and the emotions. We are a spirit. We live in a body. We possess a soul. Our physical body is not who we are, it merely carries our soul.

About forty years ago something sinister began to happen with the fraudulent injection of “separation of church and state” into the Constitution. The removal of Christianity from America by the un-righteous courts opened the school-house door to the deadly religion of Secular Humanism.

Secular Humanism is defined as the doctrine emphasizing a person's capacity for self-realization through reason; rejects religion and the supernatural

Since our inception, American school children had been trained in Christian principles. We were taught that some things are right and some things are wrong, and that there is a God to whom we are all accountable. A system of rewards and punishments awaited all of us at death. This life was just a prelude to eternity.

But no longer. There is a new god in town. The Humanistic trinity of, ME, MYSELF, and I sits on the throne boldly indoctrinating your children at your local government school.

The Secular Humanist message that life has no meaning, we evolved from pond scum, and there is no one to answer to, is contaminating our children. But this is so much more insidious than tobacco. Tobacco merely kills the body. Secular Humanism kills the soul.

For over a decade we have heard the anti-smoking Taliban rail against the evils of second-hand smoking. “No one has the right to poison the air we breathe. They are harming our children.” they lament.

Well, I’m more concerned about second-hand Humanism, than I am second-hand smoke. It develops a much more sinister disease. Moral cancer is eating away at the soul of America.

Let’s stop the charade. We all know that America was founded on Christian principles; you were raised with them for heaven’s sake. Sure, you can find those who will try and produce evidence to the contrary, but except for a few Secular Humanists disguised as judges and educators, everyone knows America has a Christian foundation. In fact, recent studies show, even after a generation of Secular Humanistic-education, eighty-five percent of Americans still consider themselves Christian.

It sort of reminds me of the battle over second-hand smoke. The link between cigarettes and cancer is almost universally accepted. Only the rabid smokers who defiantly continue to light-up, deny the consequences of what they do, and the possible impact it might have on those around them. After over 70 years of smoking, my father succumbed to lung disease. Actions have consequences. His Lucky Strikes caught up to him.

Immorality is no different. Anyone with even a scintilla of honestly would have to admit that the moral-cancer in America is a direct result of the carcinogenic impact of removing Christianity and its laws from the schools of our nation. Like the cigarette smoker and cancer, a minority still want to defend their right to smoke (practice Humanism). Under the guise of freedom of religion, they blow the second-hand fumes of their I-answer-to-no-one death-style on our children. I am tired of the illness their “religion” is inflicting on America and I believe it is time our parents said “NO” to Secular Humanism in the schools.

Despite what the Secularists would like us to believe, the law of God is a good thing. It is a restraining bar, a protective wall if you will, that God put into place for our safety. A father raising the new child he brings home from the hospital erects all kinds of barriers in the home to keep his healthy new son from plunging into one of the many pit-falls that lurk in the house. Knowing that he can’t personally protect him every minute of every day, a loving father erects gates that make it less likely that Junior will fall victim to some un-foreseen hazard.

So it is with our Creator. He built the law for our protection. But like a spoiled teenager, the Humanists view the law as an obstacle to happiness, a system of rules and regulations that God put in place to keep them from enjoying their life.

“Let me make my own decisions, Dad. I am so tired of your rules. I have a right to make my own choices.” What father hasn’t heard that from his too-independent 15-year old? That is how God must view us, an over-indulged, selfish, I-know-what-is-best-for-me spoiled nation.

Come on America, why will we not do what we know to be right? When we discovered that a generation of cigarette smoking had lead to an epidemic of cancer we put restrictions on its use. We knew that eliminating smoking would lead to better health for us all.

Today, America has cancer of the soul. We all know that. We also agree that, just like cigarette smoking, Americans have the right to neglect themselves if they so choose. But this idea that a life free of rules and restraints is somehow a good thing, that it leads to a better life, and that there is no such thing as right and wrong is nothing more than metastasized, second-hand Secular Humanism. Is it any wonder America is so sick?

Humanism glorifies self. It denies a Supreme Being. Therefore, the end result is a belief system without restraint, and a life without accountability. “My body, my choice, my life” is the fruit of Godless Humanism. No God, no standards. No standards, no sin. No sin, no Savior.

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Judges 17:6

We must rebuild the hedge, rebuild the wall, and repair the foundation. We must invite Christ and His laws back into America. How can we remain silent at a time when our voice is most needed?

What the Humanists have done to preserve the body, we should do to save the soul.

While we focus on tobacco, second-hand Humanism is destroying the souls of our children.

Eternity is a long time. The souls of our children are at risk. The church fiddles while America burns.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

No Looking Back

This is a video that I, by the Grace of God, clicked on when I was on YouTube tonight. It is a video of a song by Mainstay compiled by a dear Christian brother of mine. Needless to say, it's late and I knew the Lord had me up for a reason...there was something on my conscience. I had never even heard this song before, but when I watched this, I wept. It's overwhelming to see how far the Lord has brought me in my walk with Him...He never fails to keep opening my eyes so that I may behold wondrous things out of His law (Psalm 119:18). And this video is a glimpse of the journey that you are taken on as a Child of the Most High. You forget about everything that you have heard, everything that the world has offered to you. You forget about all of it, all the false hopes, all the self-help, and you aren't satisfied with anything less than the glory of Christ. It's real. This has happened for me...and no matter what, I'm not turning back. I can't, I'm too taken by His Glory.

"I don't care who I am...I lost that interest."

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Come, And You Shall Never Thirst Again!

“Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.”
- Joh_4:14

He who is a believer in Jesus finds enough in his Lord to satisfy him now, and to content him for evermore. The believer is not the man whose days are weary for want of comfort, and whose nights are long from absence of heart-cheering thought, for he finds in religion such a spring of joy, such a fountain of consolation, that he is content and happy. Put him in a dungeon and he will find good company; place him in a barren wilderness, he will eat the bread of heaven; drive him away from friendship, he will meet the “friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Blast all his gourds, and he will find shadow beneath the Rock of Ages; sap the foundation of his earthly hopes, but his heart will still be fixed, trusting in the Lord. The heart is as insatiable as the grave till Jesus enters it, and then it is a cup full to overflowing. There is such a fulness in Christ that he alone is the believer’s all. The true saint is so completely satisfied with the all-sufficiency of Jesus that he thirsts no more-except it be for deeper draughts of the living fountain. In that sweet manner, believer, shalt thou thirst; it shall not be a thirst of pain, but of loving desire; thou wilt find it a sweet thing to be panting after a fuller enjoyment of Jesus’ love. One in days of yore said, “I have been sinking my bucket down into the well full often, but now my thirst after Jesus has become so insatiable, that I long to put the well itself to my lips, and drink right on.” Is this the feeling of thine heart now, believer? Dost thou feel that all thy desires are satisfied in Jesus, and that thou hast no want now, but to know more of him, and to have closer fellowship with him? Then come continually to the fountain, and take of the water of life freely. Jesus will never think you take too much, but will ever welcome you, saying, “Drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.”

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Wait, Wasn't I Supposed to be Mad About Something?...A Post About Idolatry.

Even though I didn't create this blog so I could just sit here and write about my own personal experiences everyday, I will from time to time share some. The further I get from being wrapped up in my own personal experiences the easier I find it to deny myself. But it is sometimes helpful to see what others are going through so that maybe the Lord will teach you something through their experiences.

The past week or so I have found myself doing something, either around my apartment or just out and about, and I will stop and think to myself, "Wait, aren't I supposed to be mad about something." Now to you that sounds stupid, but to me, I know exactly what it is. You see, when you have lived a life full of idolatry and putting things before your walk with the Lord, you're used to your circumstances determining your mood. For example, for 15 years of my life if I had a bad day on the basketball court, I usually had a bad day off of the court too. Why? Because the devil would hold that idol of mine right in front of my face and be like..."yea, you know this (talking about basketball), this didn't go your way today...aren't you upset? You find your joy in this, so how could you possibly be happy after a day like today?"
I know, it sounds crazy doesn't it? But for years and years I struggled with this idea of putting basketball before the Lord, and even though through lip service I had given it over to Him many times, my actions were the true witness. My decision making, my thoughts, my desires, all of it was determined by one thing: basketball.

Ok, here's the best way I know how to describe what it's like to have an idol in your life. Picture Satan with a fish hook attached to the end of a rod. Now take whatever idol it is you are serving in your life and attach it to that fish hook. Now picture Satan dangling that rod in front of you...endlessly. He swings it front to back and side to side and watches as you foolishly chase it. He will bring it way over to one extreme and watch as you rejoice in joy from this idol. Then he will swing it to the other extreme and watch you be devastated by it. And it goes on and on as he gets his fulfillment out of watching you chase the foolishness of this idol, and distracting you from what really matters: Christ. But you are way too distracted and caught up to realize that Christ is trying to get your attention off of this idol and onto Him. This is a serious thing, look at what the Bible says about idolatry:

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 "Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."

Now if only we were always able to realize when we are caught up in this wild fish hook chase so that we could get those things out of our lives immediately, before we cause serious harm to our fellowship with the Lord. Well, I'm afraid I have done that far too many times. I have let things get so much apart of me that I fail to see God's will for my life. Now, these idols aren't always super horrible things that are detrimental to us...but if we let them take the place of God in our lives...look out. For example, parents can let their children become their idols, and children can let their parents become theirs. Your parents and your children are gifts from the Lord, but if you let Satan dangle them in front of you and watch you chase and chase without any direction, it can be very sinful without us even realizing it. Some people make an idol of what people think about them. They are in a good mood when someone talks good about them and they are devastated when someone has talked bad about them. But we know from the Bible that it is wrong to be a man-pleaser. In this country where idolatry permeates every thought and action, we need to take heed to the Lord's warning against it. It can be the most subtle of things, such as your favorite sports team, or your school work, or your family. Does Satan have it by the fish hook? Does he have the ability to swing it side to side and watch you derive your happiness from it? It is not a sin to find joy in things on this earth, but there is a fine line....let this be a litmus test to pointing out the idols in your life. It is this reason I find more and more agreement with A.W. Tozer when he said "Paul knew the human heart was idolatrous and would worship anything it posessed. Anything that you get your hand on you will worship. Paul never allowed those things to touch his heart. Any external treasure that touches your heart is a curse."

Take it from me, someone who has been there and done that. I've lived my life for things other than the Lord while the whole time I professed true devotion to Him. So don't be fooled by your words...allow the Lord to reveal the true condition of your heart...and getting deep into the scriptures is the best way to do that. I'm not saying that I live my life idol free, but I have recently experienced the absolute joy of having those idols revealed and given up. No, it wasn't joyful while they were first being dealt with, but the aftermath is like being set free from the bondage of sin. And as I get closer and closer to living a life solely dependent on the Lord, I become more and more sensitive to potential idols in my life. I don't want to play with fire...I've been burned too many times. So don't be surprised if you find an even harder struggle against idolatry after you have started to give things up, because that is the Lord bringing you further and further into the sanctification process.

I'm not lying, the devil really will stop me in the middle of something and try to remind me to be upset over things that I once so dearly lived for, but now, not so much. There are a couple things that he has been able to control me with for quite some time...and its crazy because I see it so clearly now. But now, more often than not, he gets this answer from me..."um, nope." and I move on with my day, focusing on what Jesus Christ is doing in my life...which is a complete transformation by the renewel of my mind into likeness with His. And when he hits that roadblock, satan immediatly will say, well what about this, this and this (reminding me of all the other things I used to put my hope in)...and I simply say, "um...nope." It's such a gift from the Lord to truly mean it. I used to superficially say that my circumstances didn't determine my joy...but now I can say it and there's truth behind it. No matter what happens today I still have Christ as my Savior and He is still moving in uncomprehendable ways in my life....so a bad day on the court isn't getting to me like it used to. It is only by God's grace alone that I am able to be writing this today. He has delivered me from this bondage; HE has opened my eyes, it was nothing that I did for myself. My friends, "Be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:2." Idolatry is real. It's not just some old time thing that happened in the Old Testiment, and it doesn't just consist of making a replica of something and bowing down to it. It comes in the most subtle of forms these days, so please take heed.

Just a quick warning:
2 Corinthians 6:16 "And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? for you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people."

Once you begin to truly walk with Christ you will have no agreement or likemindedness with idols or idolaters. You will dwell in the Holy Spirit which is dwelling in you, and you will have no other need to look elsewhere for your contentment. Sure we still slip up, but there is a true desire to fight this battle to stay pure. Your desire will be that of Colossians 3:5-7 "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things' sake the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience: In which you also once walked, when you lived in them.

But don't be surprised if by doing this you find objection amongst those who hold dear to their idols. Your testimony might be offensive to them, but just continue to pray for them and look to Christ and His words in the Scriptures and you will be encouraged to fight this battle. Take the advice that John leaves us at the end of his first Epistle: Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen" 1 John 5:21

Monday, October 1, 2007

A Poem

Lord, Your words alone are sufficient to feed Your sheep.
And as I sit here and write this, I weep.
Its overbearing right now Lord, I need you to keep
me close by, because right now my knees are weak.
You tell those that labor and are heavy laden to come, well its about the 12th time this week.
But here I am Lord, broken, lowly and meek.
Hoping you find favor for a servant in need.
Who sees the importance of planting the seeds,
but is stumbling over the fact that she’s incapable of these deeds.
I said I'M uncapable, but then that’s where I read
that nothing is impossible with you, Lord, I just have to believe,
Because You do the work, God, not me.
I just have to keep my eyes fixed on You, I have to continue to seek.
Especially during this time when you switch me from milk to solid meat.
This is deep. For some reason you’ve chosen me and allowed me to see,
now my eyes are opened up so wide that im finally taking heed
to the deceptions of this world, but Lord why me?
Its definitely bitter sweet.
Because the closer I get to you, the more evil you allow me to see.
Its everywhere...in my own heart and in the people I see in the streets.
Everywhere I look or I turn its right there ready to greet
me at the door, ready to meet me in the store, in my class or at the dorm
Oh Lord, its getting bleak!
So many lost souls who are prideful and don’t know what else to seek,
so they turn to the happiness of the world that’s so quick to fleet.
Then they are left with nothing, yea they may have food on the table to eat.
But time will tell just how well they prepared their souls to reap
just exactly what they sowed, because judgement day is on the creep.
I used to do the same until, Lord, You rescued me.
And I pray now that you find me worthy of the calling that I have received,
so that I truly count the cost of what it means to believe.
It's true. My family, my friends, my whole life I have got to be ready to leave,
Because at any moment You could call me to serve You on the other side of the seas.
Lord, I pray tonight you hear my cry and I pray You see my grief.
I'm struggling over the times when Your commands I didn’t keep.
But I thank God for this heavy soul because I know where godly sorrow leads,
and that’s to repentance Lord and then salvation it will reap.
What a blessing don’t you see, I confess to You from me,
that Im an unworthy sinner, but thanks to You I was predestined to be
a follower of the Way, You put the lamp unto my feet
and light up the darkest allies, its like my life is on repeat.
Because over and over it happens, I feel the panic attacking me
and then all of a sudden here comes Your Scripture there to always bring me peace.
Pointing out that whatever it is I go through its right in front of me to read
Because they say it in Psalms, "as we have heard, so we have seen."
My old selfish nature is gone, God intervened and told it to leave.
Even though we still battle, I know the flesh is ultimately in defeat.
And I love you so much Lord, but I can do no justice to You in the least.
Theres no way that I can repay what You did that one night upon that tree,
and I pray Lord that you will constantly remind me of Calvary
so that I may never lose sight of it Lord, please always help me to see
myself for what I am, and that’s in total depravity.
And while most pray for strength, Lord, tonight I pray that you keep me weak
so that I wont get complacent and forget to seek
the Holy God of the Scriptures who gives grace to the humble and meek.
Your word is sufficient Lord, I pray that You continue to feed your sheep.