"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!"

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sweet Redemption

It’s the most amazing thing that has happened yet.
It’s a mystery Father, that I still don’t get.
How is it Lord, that you have set me free
From the most trapping of sin that was enslaving me?
You see, seems just days ago I cried out to Thee
Because my heart was succeeding in deceiving me.
And now my heart rejoices with such liberty
That you allow me to take part in this ministry.

Because You, my Lord, are in the business of
Reconciling sinners back to their first Love.
Beckoning us to come, even when the road looks dark
And we see nothing but sin entangling our hearts.
So helplessly, we ask you to help us flee
From the idols of our youth, oh Lord, come please!
Because if left alone, our flesh takes over with ease
Leaving us with an emptiness this world vainly leaves.

But you longsuffer, Lord, and thankfully so
Redeeming the wrath that we rightfully sow
Intervening on behalf of the children you chose
Washing us clean from our head to our toes.
And so my friends, with a grateful heart I now say
That the most dreadful of sins cannot keep Him away
If you’re His, you are His til the last of the days
As He compels you to follow in His Son’s holy ways.

So to the sinner who sits and with sorrow cries out
Because unbelief is so real to their heart filled with doubt
To the one who just can’t seem to do what they say
Instead keeps going back to the most ungodly of ways
I tell you, look up, and be reminded again
That the Lord can set you free from this mindset of sin
No longer a slave to the world or its friends
You died with Christ, and so now live in Him.

Resist the devil and he will flee from thee
But how can you resist him when you are under his decree?
So I ask you dear sinner, has your soul been set free?
Are you a child of the Most High and He’s just chastening thee?
You see, the problem is you still love your sin
And you follow your lusts over and over again
I tell you this truth in love as a friend
You must repent and trust, you must be born again.

There is a war out there, and the battle is for your soul
You must put on the armor of truth, not it part, but in whole
Conforming to the image of Christ is the goal
But I tell you the first step is the old idols must go.
Put on the new nature, the nature of Christ
And watch as the Lord does His work in your life.
I tell you the truth it’s the most wonderful thing
Being set free from my chains by my Savior, my King.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Flee From Idolatry!

Here is one of the most convicting messages I have heard about idolatry. This is a sermon by Andrew Webb on the danger of playing with the fire of idolatry- the scripture is 1 Corinthians 10:6-14. Lord willing, take the time to listen to it all the way through, and I pray the Lord will examine our hearts for idols.

1 John 5:21
Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

This isn't a two part sermon, it is just a separate sermon on the same topic of idolatry by Webb. Both of them are good though. This second one deals with Deuteronomy 4:15-31.

I recommend checking out all of Andrew Webb's sermons which can be found here.
His sermons are very, very sound and scriptural and have admonished me much.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Street Preacher Isn't the Problem, It is the Hatred for the Truth...

Apparently there was a street preacher on campus today that was screaming and yelling at everybody and telling them that they were going to hell. He was calling everyone a whore and condemning all the homosexuals to hell. Hmm. Personally, I didn't see him, but my teammates certainly did. And so, of course, it was the topic of conversation today in the locker room after practice. So immediately I tense up as I listen to my teammates mock the guy and say how ridiculous he is and how un-Christian he is being and blah blah, you know the drill. Honestly, I'm writing about this because this really got to me. Being one of the only Christians on my team (although I'm sure most would claim to be one), there are certain times (mostly taking place in the locker room) when the topic of conversation is so blasphemous and so ungodly that I am forced to speak up. This usually happens though when the sanctity of marriage is flippantly talked down about, or when the cussing has gotten to a point when it outnumbers regular words, or when something extremely vulgar is said, but lately most of the times that I have engaged in spiritual talk has come as a result of someone saying something about God, or the Bible, or Christianity in general that just simply ISN'T true. And this has caused me so much discouragement lately, because I realized that the concept of what it means to be a Christian to these girls is COMPLETELY 100% skewed and messed up on SO MANY levels that I don't even know where to start.

But back to the street preacher- I knew the phrase was going to come, so I waited, and sure enough... "The Bible says to judge not!"
ughhhhhhh. So at this point I had to jump in. I proceeded to say that while I agreed with them that this guy should not be out there screaming at every person that walks by and calling them whores, I couldn't denounce everything that this guy was saying. I had to set it straight that while the Bible says 'judge not, lest you be judged' you have to actually know the CONTEXT in which it was said in. Yes, it is true that if you are living in a particular sin and you are JUDGING someone who is doing the same thing, then you are a hypocrite. BUT, the Bible says for Christians to use RIGHTEOUS judgment, and I said to the person who had brought it up, "(insert name), would you agree that if someone murdered someone, you could rightly look at the guy and tell him that he was wrong??" and she said, yes. So I then told her that the Bible didn't mean to never use judgment in any case, because that would be foolish. I said, if you read what the Bible says and take it in context, then it is totally obvious that it is indeed true that unrepented homosexuals will not inherit the Kingdom of God (there were homosexuals in the room at the time, yikes. But, you see, that didn't cause a stir because my teammates know that I love them and am not saying that because I want to hurt them, but rather because I stand on the word of God) and so, therefore, this guy, even though I didn't agree with his means of spreading his message, was telling the truth and using righteous judgment on most of the things he was saying. But then I clarified that if he didn't know you personally and just started spewing things at you and calling you names, then that is not right. So then I just got some blank stares and most people had tuned me out before I even started, and man, it was probably one of the most helpless moments I had felt in a VERY long time. But I told them that this guy was out there warning people, and that yes, he could have done it differently, BUT maybe the warning should be taken heed to. And I also noted to them, that maybe the reason why so many people get SO OFFENDED by what he says is because a lot of stuff he says is true, and people don't want to hear it. (I couldn't believe that I had said that, God completely was giving me boldness because I was in the hot seat for sure). So then they look at me and say, but Sue, all those preachers out there don't make me want to have anything to do with Christianity or Christ.

Man, that sentence struck me. Not because it made me mad that the street preacher had done that, but because I realized that, even before this street preacher came and caused havoc, these girls didn't want anything to do with Christ or Christianity ANYWAY. I realized why people get so emotionally reactive to these guys....because they are JUMPING all over an excuse for why they denounce Christ and His teachings. They are jumping all over the opportunity to point the finger and blame someone else for their sinful lifestyles. One girl said, Sue, I grew up in the church and I believe in the Bible, but that guy just makes me mad and turns me off. But I wanted to say, no you grew up in church and you still have NO concept about the teachings of Christ and you may know some of what the Bible says, but you certainly don't believe it or you would be standing right next to me right now defending the truth with me, but instead, you are too busy being offended because he confronted your lifestyle. I didn't say that because that sounds really harsh, but I mean....what do you say? I didn't know what to say really; I didn't know where to go from there, I really didn't. Because for a second I saw the condition of my teammates. I saw just how confused they were about the truth and just how blind they were in their sins, and it made me sick. And sad. And it made me feel helpless, because I didn't have anything to say right then and there that was going to change their minds. I had shared the gospel with them earlier in the season, so they knew what it was about, but they didn't care. And this was proving it. Man, they didn't care about knowing the truth of the situation, they just wanted to condemn this preacher guy. Gosh, as I type that out, it really is so sad to me. They didn't care PRIOR to this preacher guy, so the issue at hand- as it became clear to me in the locker room- was not the street preacher at all. Instead, it was their hatred for the truth. And THAT is why I walked away from it all feeling so helpless. Only God can open ones eyes to the truth, we can only plant the seeds.

I couldn't help but think about how messed up everyone's view of love is. I mean true love. Most people have no concept whatsoever. And I thought about all the people that go out to the same spot on campus and preach the gospel and how from now on my teammates have lumped all of us into the category of the street preacher (because they have seen me out there before, and they will continue to see me out there in the future). It was such a weird feeling when my teammates were saying all this though, and then I realized why I felt so torn- literally, while they were talking I felt like the insides of me were being ripped out. And I think I know why. I thought about all the guys that I know that head out to turlington plaza (the place on campus where this guy was) and they bring their Bibles and they preach out of the love of their hearts to these students who are their own peers and who they know will mock them. But they do it for the remnant out there that might hear the word and believe, by the grace of God. I thought about how now whenever I go out there with my brothers and sisters and support them and help them, or when I am out there just sharing with people one by one, because I have a bible in my hand and I happen to be walking through turlington plaza, I am now lumped into this category of 'mean street preacher.' It made me so sad, because these are the people that truly love them; love them enough to tell them the truth. But instead they are mocked.

But then I thought about the verse in Galatians 6:7 that says be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap. Seeing the evilness in that locker room today and hearing all the mocking of God's truth really made me sick. I walked away wondering what it is that I could have said or done differently. I truly had felt like such an outsider (most of you are like, duh Susan, you are) but I mean really, I felt so alone at the time because I looked around and everyone else was on the same page but me. But when I racked my brain on why this was so and why I was feeling so helpless, I remembered that on the last day I will no longer be the one that is being ridiculed. But that comfort only lasted for a split second because it reminded me that I didn't want that fate for my teammates. I didn't want them to face judgment having not repented and turned to Jesus. So it brought me right back to where I started...the reason why people put themselves out there and preach the gospel and share truth even when they know they are going to be mocked is because they, too, are caught in the very same predicament as me. They are comforted that what they said may be mocked now, but be not deceived, for God cannot be mocked...but then they are driven with love for the lost and are compelled to share the truth with people even though it may hurt them at the time. Think about it, will the one sinner who heard the message and repented be sorry that you had hurt their feelings? No, they will be so overjoyed that you took the time to share it with them and that, as a result, they were set free from their bondage to sin. To this day I thank the person that spoke truth to me- he was also the one who 'hurt my feelings' the most for the time being-but there isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank God for compelling someone to love me enough to confront my sinfulness. The Bible says that angels rejoice in heaven when one sinner repents. So just because this form of preaching doesn't bring about an alter call in which a hundred people are deemed saved after saying a prayer, doesn't mean that it is unsuccessful or not glorifying to Christ (if done in humility and love).

Um, so, yeah. Street preachers. I love them (the ones out there for the right reason)....I am friends with many of them. But the guy that comes out and calls everyone a whore doesn't help the cause. And yet, I don't know what to think about the whole thing. His message is there but his deliverance is skewed? If anyone has some ideas on how to handle this situation when unsaved people bring this up please feel free to let me know. Because now, I have gotten to the point where I love people too much to just go along with their street preacher bashing. Even if I don't join them, not speaking up about it goes against my conscience because I know they are unfairly lumping all who stand on the street and proclaim the Gospel in love. I am so afraid of letting people think that their message doesn't hold truth and that they are doing a bad thing for getting out there and proclaiming it, because honestly, I don't think it is bad. I'm not Rob Bell who says, "bullhorn guy, I....don't....think...it's....working." No way, because who are we to say it isn't working? God's word will never return void. And think about the prophets of the Old Testament. You think Jeremiah wasn't mocked and talked bad about like this? Man, the people plotted his death, and it wasn't because he was out there preaching about 'asking Jesus into your heart.' No, he was calling out a sinful nation for what they were doing....turning their backs on a holy God and serving the lusts of the flesh...which by the way...leads to death. It is not a pretty message when you think about it for what it really is. But I don't want them to think that I condone them calling everyone a whore. And another thing, if someone goes out to preach and they are doing it in pride or arrogance, I don't see how that can be. The only thing that is keeping a Christian from being enslaved to sin like the world is the mercy and grace of God...and there is no room for pride in that case. And I'm afraid that the when someone is out there screaming at people and calling them every name in the book it is not a fruit of humble lovingkindness, that is for sure.

So there you have it. A street preacher came to UF and my team and probably 99% of the student population was offended by him. Go figure. The law is the schoolmaster, folks. When you preach it, it brings to light the true condition of unreconciled sinners, and well, they aren't going to like it. So if you find yourself being overly offended by one, maybe you should take heed to his message. Just a thought though. But thanks be to God that after the law reveals the condition, we have the remedy in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross. Don't get so caught up in the first message that you forget the second part. The Gospel is indeed the Good News, announcing freedom from the Law through Christ, and we should be hastily getting that message out to the people.

Again, any thoughts about this are welcomed, as long as you don't have the approach of most when they say that all street preachers are mean and bad and not nice and ahhhhh I can't handle that, so please refrain. I agree that truth should be spoken in love, but that doesn't mean we exclude anything that is offensive to sinners ( I am not talking about the screaming and abuse, that is not only offensive it is just wrong.) I don't write this to sound mean, I just really can't handle the Rob Bell and Rick Warren approach to things, it is sickening. Thanks guys, God bless.

Friday, February 22, 2008

War? What War?- by Mike Ratliff

Here is a great article written by Mike Ratliff from Possessing the Treasure
on the weapons the devil uses against the children of God when dealing with professing Christians. Read it all the way through because the ending is where I really could identify specifically.

War? What War?

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” (Zechariah 3:1-2 ESV)

About a week ago or so a fellow writer for CRN gave me access to a preview of the video of Bill Clinton speaking at the Liberal Baptist conference in Atlanta. When I first watched it I had to stop. I just couldn’t take his deceptive handling of his version of Christianity. I made a comment along those lines and my friend wrote back that I should watch it all. Why? It is imperative to know the enemy and how he works. To have an enemy implies that there is a conflict of some kind. Is there a war going on between God and His forces on one side and Satan and his forces on the other?

First let us take a look at Satan, our enemy. Who is he? Should we fear him? Satan is not God nor is equal with God in any way for he was created.

You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you. (Ezekiel 28:13,15 ESV)

God created him as the model of perfection, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
“Son of man, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord GOD: “You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. (Ezekiel 28:12 ESV)

He was in the garden of Eden and every precious stone adorned him.
You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. (Ezekiel 28:13 ESV)

He was anointed and ordained by God as a guardian cherub who was blameless in his ways.
You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you. (Ezekiel 28:14-15 ESV)

That described Satan before his fall. However, something went terribly wrong. His heart became proud on account of his beauty, and he corrupted his wisdom because of his splendor.
Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you. (Ezekiel 28:17 ESV)

He became filled with violence.
In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. (Ezekiel 28:16 ESV)

He led many of the angels in a war against God and his angels.
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world–he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Revelation 12:7-9 ESV)

He tried to take God’s place.
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit. (Isaiah 14:12-15 ESV)

Satan sinned. He is therefore credited with sinning since the beginning.
Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8 ESV)

Because of his actions, he was a murderer from the beginning.
You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44 ESV)

According to Jude 6 he abandoned his home in heaven. He was driven in disgrace from the mount of God and expelled (Ezekiel 28:16). He lost his place in heaven (Revelation 12:8), was thrown or hurled from heaven (Ezekiel 28:16; Revelation 12:9-12), fell like lightning from heaven to the earth (Isaiah 14:12; Luke 10:18), and was made a spectacle before kings (Ezekiel 28:17).

That is how Satan came to be where he is now and explains why he is the way he is. What is he up to now? He is kept in darkness and is bound with everlasting chains.

And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day– (Jude 1:6 ESV)

He is filled with fury, because he knows his time is short (Revelation 12:12). Not only does he have power (Acts 10:38), but he is the power of this dark world and is the spiritual force of evil in the heavenly realm (Ephesians 6:12). The whole world is under his control (1 John 5:19), and he leads it astray (Revelation 12:9). He roams the earth (Job 1:7; Job 2:2), and prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Needless to say, he is earthly and unspiritual (James 3:15).

Not only is Satan our enemy (1 Peter 5:8), but he is also an enemy of everything that is right (Acts 13:10). He can present himself before the Lord and make petition against us (Job 1:6-12; Job 2:1-7). Satan asks God for permission to “sift” us (Luke 22:31), and he accuses us day and night before God (Zechariah 3:1; Revelation 12:10). He lies and slanders; in fact, there is no truth in him (John 8:44; Revelation 2:9).

The devil twists the scriptures for his purposes and perverts the right ways of the Lord (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:2-13; Acts 13:10). He is cunning and deceives (2 Corinthians 11:3). He schemes and tries to outwit us (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:11), and is full of all kinds of deceit and trickery (Acts 13:10). He takes the Word away from hearts (Luke 8:12), and blinds the minds of unbelievers (2 Corinthians 4:4). He traps and takes captive (2 Timothy 2:26), binds (Luke 13:16), incites (1 Chronicles 21:1) and, in general, is a stumbling block (Matthew 16:23). He can fill one’s heart (Acts 5:3) and lead minds astray from Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3).

Satan masquerades as an angel of light, and his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). He is at work in those who are disobedient (Ephesians 2:2). He sows “weeds” (Matthew 13:38-39), and can work through anyone (Matthew 16:23; Mark 8:33). He can even display counterfeit miracles, signs, and wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9).

No one is immune to Satan’s temptations; he even tempted Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:2-13). But Satan could not prevail; he had no hold on Christ (John 14:30)!

Satan will put some Christians in prison to test them (Revelation 2:10), and he holds the power of death (Hebrews 2:14). But Christians are not powerless against him. The Bible tells us that faith extinguishes his flaming arrows (Ephesians 6:16), and if resisted, Satan will flee (James 4:7). He has been overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the testimony of Christian martyrs (Revelation 2:11). Christians have overcome him (1 John 2:13)!

Now, with all of that in mind, could we agree that there is a war still going on between God and His Kingdom on one side and our enemy Satan and his powers on the other? Yes, and it is very real. The more I get involved in this struggle the more it has become apparent to me that our enemy can and does use other professing Christians against us. They may very well believe they are not serving him, but God, however, their actions reveal that they are deceived. I have learned in a very painful way to discern that I am dealing with one of these. There will always be a few characteristics that give them away. Remember, our enemy’s “people” operate as he does. How is that? It is through lies and deceit. He is the devil and that means he is a slanderer. He twists the truth in order to build doubt in the heart. This is what we must look for in those who come to us as angels of light, but inwardly are nothing more than Satan’s pawns.

They will often have a very convincing appearance of godliness. They use the right words and know a lot of Biblical jargon. However, when those points of contention come to bear such as The Gospel, Justification, Sanctification, the Nature of God, the Nature of a genuine Christian, Doctrine, humility, pride, spiritual warfare, etc. you will find at least one hot button in there where their true nature will be revealed. This can be one of myriads of things, but if we pray for discernment and wisdom, we will be able to spot them. One very telling thing I have found that differentiates these “folks” is the mention of “compromise” and “unity” and “experience” and “Biblical doctrine.” Their reaction to these things are very telling. Also, these people tend to be “universalists” to some degree. If the discussion leads to Spiritual warfare or Spiritual maturity, if they are a pawn of the Devil, they will respond with scorn against the need for either.

They will accuse all who are certain as being prideful. If these who are certain refuse to compromise then they are accused of being so prideful that they must be Satan himself. The cry is unity, unity, unity, at all costs! Compromise, compromise, compromise! To them the truly humble are compromisers who are totally uncertain about anything.

For those reading this who were upset by those last two paragraphs I have some reading for you to do. Start at Ephesians 6:10 and read through 6:20. If we weren’t supposed to stand and not give in to the lies of the enemy then why did Paul give us this passage? To stand means we are standing on something substantial. That is the truth of which we are certain. Our example on how to stand is found in Matthew 4.

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. (Matthew 4:1-11 ESV)

This is why we must become totally immersed in the Word of God. We must know it. We must always be in prayer with a constant God focus. When we do this much of what calls itself the Church will hate us because we will not be all about unity at all costs, but will be all about the truth and God’s glory. This does not make anyone popular. John MacArthur has said that it is impossible for men to be obedient to God and be popular with the majority. He is right.

To those called to his level of discernment, the way is rugged. It can be confusing and treacherous. Our enemy is a wordsmith and is a deceiver at heart. He knows how to create chaos in our lives to the point that we become disoriented at times. At these times the words of whoever is being used by Satan to attack us will cut like a surgeon’s scalpel. We will believe that our entire being is being exposed in a way to cause us shame. What we hold as right will be twisted in our presence by our enemy to be made to resemble the worst evil and what we know to be evil will appear to be the greatest good. This is why we must NEVER respond to these things emotionally nor from any fleshly position. We must pray and respond with the Word of God for it is the only weapon we have that will make our enemy flee as we resist Him.

As we deal with these people we must also beware of a backlash of “guilt” that we are made to feel because we were “so harsh.” We must be careful here. This is the time to get to a quiet place to pour out our hearts to God. We must repent of what He shows us, but also praise Him and thank Him for helping us stand and not fall. When we do this, more than likely, we will find that those feeling of “guilt” were more fiery darts from our foe as he fled. Never be above asking for forgiveness of these fellows, but do not be surprised when they respond with Satan’s vileness.

God knows that we are fragile creatures who are subject to great emotional stress. He knows that we cannot remain in the front lines indefinitely without some relief. What we must be wary of, however, is to not become complacent during the quieter times. I have found that being in unrelenting battles can wear upon me. I become weary. However, there are times that that is the very moment when the most deceiving of our enemy’s pawns will appear like an angel of light. We must seek the Lord’s face here and plead for help because it is when we are weary that we can make huge mistakes by reacting emotionally in the flesh. This only creates fruitless arguing and hurt feelings that will eventually lead to a very long time on our knees confessing all of this to God, seeking forgiveness, strength, wisdom, and discernment.

Is there a war going on between God and His Kingdom on one side and Satan and his forces on the other? Yes! Sadly, most believers interpret the warnings in God’s Word about this war as it only being Satan trying to tempt Christians to sin. That is only a small part of this war. Satan also attacks the Church. He attacks the Gospel. He attacks the leadership of the Church. Not every Christian is equipped to fight this battle because most are not very mature and are enslaved to their flesh. These are no threat to Satan so they are not attacked. However, those who are maturing and are equipped with God’s armor are a huge threat to our enemy and his kingdom. Therefore, he attacks them. We must do as Paul instructs in Ephesians 6:10-20. We must take up the armor of God and put it on and use it as we bathe our lives in prayer and immerse ourselves in God’s Word. Then when the fiery darts come we will be ready.


HT: Possessing the Treasure

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Battling Unbelief

The root of every single one of our sins is unbelief. Unbelief is turning away from Jesus to look for satisfaction somewhere else. Ultimately, the reason why we sin is because we believe our sin will satisfy us more than anything that God has to offer, which is a lie every single time. And we usually find that out the hard way. Here is an excellent sermon series by John Piper on battling unbelief and the sins that result from giving into it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Love of the Truth

"The Scriptures teach in 2 Thessalonians 2:10, that many will perish because they 'received not the love of the truth.' To walk in truth, one must really have a love for it, because it is a hard road to walk! Further, in order for one to actually love truth, that love has to be worked in them by God. This is because the natural man is repulsed by, and rebels against, the truth.

Let me hasten to say that I only have a love for the truth because God has worked it in me to love it. I am no better than anyone else. My natural tendency was the same as any individual until God worked in me a desire to know the truth at any cost. And it certainly will cost one to come to a knowledge of the truth. First, because the truth will point out the reality of who we, as natural men, really are- enemies of that truth and of God Himself.

Then, too, the truth is costly in that when one comes to embrace the truth, he finds that he lives in a world where the vast majority do not want the truth and turn on those who do. He becomes an enemy of many in his own family and of many who were at one time considered to be his friends!

This should not surprise us, in light of what Jesus taught when He walked among His own people. In Matthew 10, He told the disciples, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household."

The truth sets free the one who receives it, but it also alienates that individual from those who do not want to embrace the truth. This has ever been so and ever will be so."

-Pastor J.M. Grapp
from his booklet: Decisional Regeneration

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

εἰλικρινής (Sincere)

I know I've touched on this in a previous post, but the Lord is really dealing with me on this topic. Here is the Greek word for sincere:

It means: judged by sunlight, that is, tested as genuine (figuratively): - pure, sincere.

Here is a prayer out of the book The Vally of Visions (A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions) called Sincerity that deals with this topic perfectly. I pray, brothers and sisters, that we will not be afraid to examine the sincerity of our faith.

Elector of Saints,
Blessed is the man whom thou choosest and callest to thyself.
With thee is mercy, redemptions, assurance, forgiveness;
Thou hast lifted me, a prisoner, out of the pit of sin
and pronounced my discharge,
not only in the courts of heaven,
but in the dock of conscience;
hast justified me by faith,
given me peace with thee,
made me to enjoy glorious liberty as thy child.
Save me from the false hope of the hypocrite:
May I never suppose I am in Christ unless I am a new creature,
never think I am born of the Spirit
unless I mind the things of the Spirit,
never rest satisfied with professions of belief
and outward forms and services,
while my heart is not right with thee.
May I judge my sincerity in religion
by my fear to offend thee,
my concern to know thy will,
my willingness to deny myself.
May nothing render me forgetful of thy glory,
or turn me aside from thy commands,
or shake my confidence in thy promises,
or to offend thy children.
Let not my temporal occupations injure my spiritual concerns,
or the cares of life make me neglect the one thing needful.
May I not be inattentive to the design of thy dealings with me,
or insensible under thy rebukes,
or immobile at thy calls.
May I learn the holy art of abiding in thee,
of being in the world and not of it,
of making everything not only consistent with
but conducive to my religion.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

...That Saved a Wretch Like Me

I was tagged by someone on youtube earlier this week, which simply means I was supposed to share five things about myself. I turned my 5 things into a shortened version of my testimony. Here is the video:

**I pray that the Lord will open up the eyes to anyone who sees this and is caught in the deceptions of cultural Christianity today. I pray that we continue to hold fast to the entire counsel of God's word and preach Christ crucified, for the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes (Romans 1:16). Amen.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

A Deceitful Heart

Oh Lord a troubled heart have I in the face of deadly sin
I come to Thee as a helpless sheep with the sin that I’m stuck in
Praying that You hear my cry and take this deceitful heart
Deliver me from the danger nigh and from the flesh help me depart.
Oh how sick and ill inside I get when I think of me
And how I stray so far away, continuously grieving Thee.
Discipline now meets me face to face, chastisement for Your child
In love, You make sure I don’t return to the path that much defiled

So blinded by the pride of life, but by Grace You’ve set me free
And opened up mine eyes to truth, but oh Lord how it hurts to see.
Because truth repels the fleshly sins in which I’ve gloried in
And it shines its light upon the dark, revealing my comfort sins.
But the child of God, by Grace from Him, cannot remain the same
The fires get hot and the silver refines as the flesh’s strength is maimed.

What once was slavery now is freedom, the old is now made new
So tempted by the former ways, help me Lord to hold fast to You
But I thank you Lord for the thorns in me, that are causing me great pain
So that I may look only unto You, and humbly call upon Your name
For when the flesh rises up, O Lord it hurts to believe that which is true,
But painfully I’m reminded to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow You.

For in my weakness, You're made strong, and in pain You make it clear
Being drawn unto You is no easy thing, even now as I write with tears.
But I consider it joy to suffer Lord, just promise to me You'll bring
In the morn a whole new hope and grace, as refreshing as a spring.
So faithful You are to keep Your own, and tonight I feel Your grasp,
Now keep me from falling into sin, until the day I see You at last!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

"That's Not My God"

"Sunday morning is the greatest hour of idolatry in America, did you know that?" - Paul Washer

Saturday, February 2, 2008

But It Hurts So Bad

Matthew 16:24-28

Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life shall lose it, and whoever desires to lose his life for My sake shall find it. For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He shall reward each one according to his works. Truly I say to you, There are some standing here who shall not taste of death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.

Looking around right now, what is it that is so important, so pressing on me, that would be worth not denying myself and not spending eternity with Christ? Nothing. I pray that the Lord takes these things pressing upon my heart, these burnings, and removes them, if it be His will.

I’m just going to cut to the chase. The reason I am writing tonight is to say this: It hurts so bad to deny yourself. It is so painful during moments of extreme selfishness and worldly thoughts to deny yourself. But really, what is so important in this world that is worth denying Christ for? A degree? A good job? A good basketball career? Peace with the world? A good night’s sleep? A friend? A relationship? Certain conversations? Lust of the flesh? Lust of the eyes? The pride of life? Is there anything out there? Anything at all?? Nope. Nothing. There’s absolutely nothing out there AT ALL that is worth denying Christ for. I’m tired of being so civilized within this world that I give in to the expectations of the world over my duties to Christ. I want so badly to live a Spirit-led life, but I’m reminded that it is very costly to do so, at least in the eyes of the world. But I mean really, why do I care? Read Matthew 16:24-28 again. Why would I want to gain the world? It’s these moments that I’m so aware of my struggle with the flesh. I hate it. It drives me insane. The Spirit is telling me to do something and yet my first reaction is to cry out, “BUT IT HURTS!” But Lord, if I don’t deny myself then am I really worthy to be called Yours? Um, is there some encouragement in the midst of all this? Well, verses 27 and 28 are pretty much the only motivation one should need. Christ is coming back in all His glory and is rewarding every man according to his works. I pray right now that the Lord grants us an eternal perspective, so that we may grasp this.

Ok, on to the crux of the issue. I want to deny myself but there are so many moments when it hurts so bad to do so. Is it those moments that bring spiritual growth? Because it is during those times that I find I must rely 100% on Christ to get me through them, to deliver me from them. You see, if I look to myself at any point during this life (let alone moments of struggle), I will fall flat on my face and give into the desires of this world. The strength to deny myself must come from Him. So it is in these times when you find everything in you screaming to give in (and these moments look completely different to different people, but they are caused by the same lies and deceit from Satan), that we must look to Christ. Think about it. All that is pressing on you in this world, all the things your deceitful heart cries out for are worth nothing. NOTHING. Even if you were to gain them, Christ reminds us that what we’ve ultimately done is lost everything. Wow.

But Lord, it hurts. My human mind wraps itself around the seen, causing all these problems…all this grief and struggle and anguish that Christ is waiting to deliver me from, if I would just trust in Him instead. That is why I must be transformed by the renewal of my mind, to deliver me from this human state of mind that sees only the things that are right in front of me. Only then can I even begin to let go- LET GO of this life that I hang on to with dear life. The life that I think if I don’t get then it will feel like pure death is upon me. But Christ says the opposite, you see. He says if you hang on to that life then you will find the very thing you were trying to avoid: death. Because gaining the world and losing your soul leads to death. Lord, please reveal the things that I hold on to because, frankly, giving them up and denying myself hurts too bad.

Denying yourself hurts. If it was easy then broad would be the way that leads to life, not narrow, and every one would be doing it. But look around. That is clearly NOT the case. What we need to keep in mind, brothers and sisters, is that this way that Christ speaks of in Matthew 16, this path that God has willed for us through the denial of ourselves, is the best way. No side path that you pave out in your head (caused by the guidance of a deceitful heart) can ever prove more beneficial for you no matter HOW GREAT IT LOOKS to you at the time. In other words, if you find yourself doing this: “well, if I do this, then this will happen, and then this will happen because of that, and then finally I’ll be able to….” No, uh uh. Stop it. Christ says, do this: Deny yourself. Lose this life so that you may gain it truly. Wow. Do you see how we get ourselves in so much trouble? It all starts right there. And because many of us scream, “BUT THAT HURTS!” we don’t ever make it past that point because we give into ourselves, the opposite of denial, and look inward at our own pity and excuses. We miss the whole point- looking unto Christ and His finished work on the cross which provides for us the strength to do just what He commands: denying yourself. But like I said, we give in because it hurts, and it starts us down the path that we’ve created and it snow balls from there. How many sins could we have avoided if we would have just nipped it in the bud and trusted God’s way of denying ourselves? Wow, for me, too many to count.

We get so caught up in ourselves and hanging on dearly to our lives, that we miss the path of righteousness that Christ lays out for all of those whose lives are consumed by one thing: Himself. Does living a Spirit-led life look absolutely crazy and foolish to the world? Of course it does; hence the verses that say to the world it will look like you’ve completely lost your life and missed out, but Christ says otherwise. And He says we will be rewarded for that. Oh my goodness, it hurts so bad to do this, I don't think I can say that enough. But the truth is I know because I experience it often. But too many times I give in to what I think is the easy way out by doing what the flesh wants in order to avoid the pain of denying yourself. But we all know what that leads to: just more pain down the road because you trusted in yourself and not the Lord. Unfortunately knowing this ahead of time for me doesn't always stop me from falling into sin. And I didn't write this entire thing to leave you with that downcast, gloomy thought. Because the truth is, there is freedom from this, and it is found only through trusting the Lord and His Word and loving Him with all your heart, soul, and mind. Look not unto yourself for strength; I thank the Lord for this verse from Paul the Apostle:
2 Corinthians 12:9 "And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore I will rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may overshadow me." Wow, pretty much says it all huh? Take that verse in.

Also, think about some of these things as you find yourself enduring this painful process. Every pang you feel as a result of denying the flesh is like a prayer of intercession for you who is finding yourself in bondage to that sin. It is like the groaning that the Spirit gives to the Father, telling Him to set you free from your sin (Romans 8:26). What is happening is you are realizing, "Even though the culture says this, you tell me otherwise, Lord" or "Even though my feelings say this, I am going to follow my Father." Those are beautiful things, my friend. You are avoiding what is natural to you so that God may apply His supernatural work in you. Through prayer (and intercession from the Holy Spirit who prays for the things that we cannot see because we are biased towards the flesh and to the things that are seen) our burden will begin to be lifted and it begins to melt our wills into the will of God. And ultimately you will discover that the Word of God does, indeed, have the power to sustain: "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Matthew 4:4. Let the joy of the Lord be our strength.

Lord, please help us to deny ourselves. Help us to let go of the things we hold so closely to that are keeping us from gaining true life in You. It isn’t easy. It hurts. But no matter how bad it hurts, Lord, help us to look unto You, oh refuge of our weary souls. Your way leads to life, please grant our eyes the ability to see that even though it goes against every ounce of the flesh. But that is the glory of the Gospel: because of what You have done on the cross, we may now have new life free from this bondage to the flesh. The fires of sanctification are hot. You don’t promise us our best life now (in the eyes of the world) but You do promise to continue to refine us until the day we leave this earth and come unto You, Lord. Oh what a glorious day that will be! Amen.