Wednesday, December 31, 2008

18 words: LORD

If you've ever wanted a good, short and informative defense of the Trinity, then turn to the chapter on "LORD" in 18 Words. In just 11 pages Packer does a good job of verbalizing the truth of the Trinity from Scripture and the reason it is important.

He traces the use of the word Lord through the Old and New Testaments and shows, convincingly, that Trinitarian theology was not developed 400 years after the Scriptures were written, but was known and believed by the very writers of the New Testament.

Specifically interesting to me was his defense of the Holy Spirit's distinction as a "he" and not an "it." I think he is right to say that understanding the relationship between the Father, Son and Spirit are essential to understanding the Gospel.

I end with a quote from the last page of the chapter:

To put it the other way round: the gospel says that there was in God from eternity mutuality of love and joy (John 1:1f.; 17:5,24); that men were made to share this fellowship; that when sin had made this impossible, God came in person--the second Person, sent by the first Person and empowered by the third Person--to save us; that God-made-flesh died for us, lives for us, united us to Himself, brings us to God the Father now and will take us one day to share His glory; that a divine Guest, the Holy Spirit, indwells each Christian (there are over 800 million of us alive today, leaving aside the faithful departed) to prompt prayer and transform our fallen nature; and that Jesus Christ is companion and friend to every single believer, giving him or her constant and undistracted attention. It is surely obvious that one of these marvelous, almost fantastic things could be said save on the supposition that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are God--in other words, that God is Father, Son and Holy spirit. Those who deny the Trinity have to scale down the gospel--and do.

And so, I leave you with the Gospel in hopes that you spend the night thinking, talking and believing in Christ the Lord and Savior, so that perhaps you can spend the rest of the year doing so, as well.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

tuesday martyr: john huss

One hundred years before the 95 theses came a man from Bohemia, on whose shoulders stood Martin Luther. That man was John Huss.

Huss relied heavily on the teachings of John Wycliffe and for it, was imprisoned and finally burned at the stake.

He fought against the idea that the Pope is the final authority of the church and when asked to recant this idea, he demanded that he be shown from Scripture his error.

He was charged formally on 40 accounts (taken from his writings) and he responded to every one of those charges that he had indeed said them and still defended them...continually demanding to be shown from Scripture his errors in the matter.

At one point he was urged by King Wenceslas (nope, not the one the song is about, though he was from Bohemia as well) and another duke to recant and to stop his arrogance of going against the entire council (for at the time there were 3 popes...that's right...3) Huss responded that if even the weakest of the men of the council were to show him his error that he would immediately withdraw whatever statement was in error and recant of his sin...and yet none were able to do so.

Since it was against the papal law to have a defense if you were being tried as a heretic, Huss was condemned without ever having stood trial. His charges were read aloud and he had the opportunity to recant, but not the opportunity to defend.

Just before his execution he was reported to have said, (quoted from CCEL copy of Foxe's book of Martyrs):

"You are now going to burn a goose, (Huss signifying goose in the Bohemian language:) but in a century you will have a swan which you can neither roast nor boil." If he were prophetic, he must have meant Martin Luther, who shone about a hundred years after, and who had a swan for his arms.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

is it necessary?

Is it necessary to be able to articulate the Gospel in order to be saved? Do you have to be able to say "this is the Gospel and by it I am saved"? Do you need to be able to communicate what you are saved from?

My thought is that you do, at least in a simple way (I don't mean you have to explain what justification by faith alone through the imputation of Christ's righteousness and the expiation of sin...) but I do think you need to be able to tell someone what the Gospel is: that God came to earth as the man Jesus in order to die in our place for our sins and that He was raised again to life and that now He sits in heaven to await His return.

I also think you should be able to say what you are saved from: sin, death, wrath of God, hell...something.

And, if you can't tell me what the Gospel is and what it saved you from...can you really say you are saved? Saved from what? for what?

Based on the discussion tonight, I worry for the salvation of many who walk amongst my church.

May God grant them saving knowledge of the truth of the Gospel so that they know why they can be saved and what they are saved from (and hopefully, that they know that they are also saved to life...but I'm not sure it is necessary to know that.)

Do you know the Gospel? Do you believe it?


Friday, December 26, 2008

revelation and scripture

First, I must say that Packer writes in a very readable style. He's easy to follow and, though he probably knows more than a few, he doesn't use a huge vocabulary. In fact, in the intro he makes a point to say that he is trying to make these words as knowable as possible without getting technical.

In dealing with revelation he glosses over several aspects including: past, present and future revelation from God and general and specific revelation. I think his basic message is that God has been, is and will continue to reveal himself in a general way to all mankind and in a more specific way to those who hear the Gospel (through the teaching and preaching of Scripture.)

The most interesting point was his summary of what "God was revealing in the biblical period."
1. He was revealing Himself (general revelation, Romans 1 idea)
2. He was revealing His kingdom (through general and specific revelation that he is and was and forever will be the only king and ruler of this world)
3. He was revealing His covenant (I will be your God and you will be my people...and the blessing which flow form that. God is faithful)
4. He was revealing His law (so that we could look and like him)
5. He was revealing His salvation (rescuing his people from Egyptians, Babylonians, foes and troubles and finally from his own wrath through Christ.)

Notice what is not explicitly stated, but is implicit throughout, is that he was never revealing "his love." Does it seem odd that we maintain God's love first and foremost and Packer ascribes only these 5 things and not love to his revelation package?

Perhaps a better way to understand the Gospel would be to view it through these lenses so that God maintains his proper seat on the throne in the midst of salvation.

And then revelation leads, quite easily, into Scripture. He points out that the Scriptures are "the written record of the drama of redemption. The historical books relate it; the sermons of the prophets and apostles explain and apply it, and point to the climax of Christ's coming again; the Psalms meditate on it; the wisdom writings look at life in light of it."

He goes on to discuss, briefly, the reliability of their testimony by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In it he also talks of the holiness of Scripture and that regarding it as holy does not mean we are committing idolatry (I think Piper had a small paper out on this subject, but I can't locate it. If you know what it might be, let me know.)

He ends with a quote from J.C. Ryle and I will do the same.

You live in a world where your soul is in constant danger. Enemies are round you on every side. Your own heart is deceitful. Bad examples are numerous. Satan is always laboring to lead you astray. Above all false doctrine and false teachers of every kind abound. This is your great danger.

To be safe you must be well armed. You must provide yourself with the weapons which God has given you for your help. You must store your mind with Holy Scripture. This is to be well armed.

Arm yourself with a thorough knowledge of the written Word of God. Read your Bible regularly. Become familiar with your Bible...Neglect your Bible and nothing that I know of can prevent you from error if a plausible advocate of false teaching shall happen to meet you. Make it a rule to believe nothing except it can be proved from Scripture. The Bible alone is infallible..Do you really use your Bible as much as you ought?

There are many today, who believe the Bible, yet read it very little. does your conscience tell you that you are one of these person?

If so, you are the man that is likely to get little help from the Bible in time of need. trial is a sifting experience...Your store of Bible consolations may one day run very low.

If so, you are the man that is unlikely to become established in the truth. I shall not be surprised to hear that you are troubled with doubts and questioned about assurance, grace, faith, perseverance, etc. The devil is an old and cunning enemy. He can quote Scripture readily enough when he pleases. Now you are not sufficiently ready with your weapons to fight a good fight with him...Your sword is held loosely in your hand.

If so, you are the man that is likely to make mistakes in life. I shall not wonder if I am told that you have problems in your marriage, problems with your children, problems about the conduct of your family and about he company you keep. The world you steer through is full of rocks, shoals an sandbanks. You are not sufficiently familiar either with lighthouses or charts.

If so, you are the man who is likely to be carried away by some false teacher for a time. It will not surprise me if I hear that one of these clever eloquent men who can make a convincing presentation is leading you into error. You are in need of ballast (truth); no wonder if you are tossed to and fro like a cork on the waves.

All these are uncomfortable situations. I want you to escape them all. Take the advice I offer you today. Do not merely read your Bible a little--but read it a great deal... Remember your many enemies. Be armed!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

tuesday martyr: nicholas burton

I apologize for being a day late, I simply forgot that it was Tuesday.

Nicholas Burton was falsely accused of a crime (in fact, there was no formal accusation and when he demanded them to charge him they told him to quiet himself and sent him to prison.) While in prison for 14 days he preached the Word and several came to faith in Christ.

Soon after, he was taken to the prison in Seville where he was tortured in ways that are not recorded because it was never revealed who his inquisitors were and he was never allowed to speak or write during that time.

To give you an idea of how awful these tortures were, here is a quote from Foxe on the matter:

At the first time of torturing, six executioners entered, stripped him naked to his drawers, and laid him upon his back on a kind of stand, elevated a few feet from the floor. The operation commenced by putting an iron collar round his neck, and a ring to each foot, which fastened him to the stand. His limbs being thus stretched out, they wound two ropes round each thigh; which ropes being passed under the scaffold, through holes made for that purpose, were all drawn tight at the same instant of time, by four of the men, on a given signal.

After he had been tortured for some time, he was brought out with several others and ordered to be burned. It was said that during the burning he had such a cheerful countenance that they deemed that his soul had been received by the devil and that he could feel no pain. It is unbelievable how much these people believed in the lies of the Roman Church of the time.

You can read more about the inquisition here.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

18 words

I recently picked up a book by JI Packer entitled 18 Words: The Most Important Words You Will Ever Know. I'm pretty excited to read it, because I have never read anything by Packer (the only contact I've had is through articles, people talking about him and youtube.)

So, I've decided to blog through the book. Don't worry, it is fairly short, with an average of about 10 pages per chapter. I'll probably hit a few chapters a week.

Reasons for doing so:
1. Accountability. I won't be able to skip out on reading it.
2. Familiarity. I'd like to become more familiar with Packer.
3. Your Benefit. It's always good to learn, so why not learn from a dude like Packer?

Next week (Thursday or Friday) I'll put up my first post.

Just so you know, the words (in chapter order) are:
1. Revelation
2. Scripture
3. The Lord
4. The World
5. Sin
6. The Devil
7. Grace
8. The Mediator
9. Reconciliation
10. Faith
11. Justification
12. Regeneration
13. Election
14. Holiness and Sanctification
15. Mortification
16. Fellowship
17. Death


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

planned parenthood

I don't know if you all have seen these videos or not, but they are horrible.

A group called Live Action Films, headed by a UCLA student went undercover to expose the law-breaking and other offenses that regularly happen behind closed doors at Planned Parenthood offices. The following videos were taken in Bloomington and Indianapolis. If you'd like more information please visit Live Action Films.

HT: Take Your Vitamin Z

tuesday martyr: davou bulle

On December 29, 2004, Davou Bulle was fatally shot and killed in Nigeria. His son, Gyan, in an attempt to protect his father, took 14 bullets and, thankfully, lived.

Davou's wife, Mary, was also shot and survived.

You can read more about Davou, here and here.

Be sure to be in prayer for those around the world who are persecuted daily for their faith in Christ. If you'd like to get involved, visit Voice of the Martyrs.


Monday, December 15, 2008

the gospel

Here is what life is about:

HT:Pure Church

Thursday, December 11, 2008

an old hymn and some silence

This hymn has been on my mind for a few weeks and then today, Mark Driscoll, posted this.

Then, later today, I found this on youtube:

Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded, for with blessing in his hand
Christ our God to earth descendeth, our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary, as of old on earth he stood,
Lord of lords in human vesture, in the body and the blood,
He will give to all the faithful His own self for heav'nly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth from the realms of endless day,
That the pow'rs of hell may vanish as the darkness clears away.

At his feet the six-winged seraph; cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the Presence, as with ceaseless voice they cry,
"Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Lord most high!"

Amen and come quickly, Lord Jesus.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

tuesday martyr: modern martyrs in turkey

Last year, three men: Tilman Geske, Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel gave their lives as witnesses to the grace of God in Malatya, Turkey. They were holding a Bible study for several men who were interested in hearing the Gospel.

These "interested" men, however, came to the study with guns, knives, ropes and towels after preparing themselves for a slaughter. They were members of an elite group in Turkey called tarakit.

Shortly after the Bible study began the three men listed above had their throats slit and died. It took police force to get into the room where the attack happened.

The families of the martyrs plead for forgiveness, citing Jesus' (and Steven's) words, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."

What a powerful testimony in the face often violent outbreaks against Christians in Turkey. Pray for the churches and believers over there, that they might be strong and courageous in the faith and that their testimony would be used as a means to bring many to salvation.

For a much more in-depth story on these men, go here.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

i'm a slacker...but this is funny

I've been out of commission on the blog scene these past couple of weeks...but I'll be back up and running next week.

In place of my usual posts I thought I'd leave you with something you could only find in Rochester, IN.

This picture was on the front page of our newspaper, the Sentinel, as well as their website. Under it was the following caption:

Brothers Darin, left, and Chad Pantle dress out an eight-point buck along Jefferson Street Monday. Chad, who took the buck with his muzzleloader Thanksgiving Day, plans to have the head mounted.

And people wonder where I get my crazy stories. I don't have to make things up...this stuff just happens.


Friday, November 28, 2008


I never remember Thanksgiving being a busy time in my younger years. I think each year since I was 18 has gotten busier and busier.

Tomorrow is the annual Helt Thanksgiving. I'll be heading out early to rehearse for Sunday and then back to the bread grindstone to churn out the 300 or so rolls for the family.

Euchre will commence promptly at 6 and you are cordially invited. I mean it. Everyone who reads this should come over. There'll be food, cards, football and drinks. And by drinks I mean some of my family will leave every hour or so for "fresh air."

Things to be thankful for:
1. Jesus Christ who made salvation possible
2. My family
3. Bread
4. Euchre
5. Eleanor Rigby


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

tuesday martyr: william tyndale

There are few people who have influenced the church as much as William Tyndale, and yet very few people know much about him (and a good many do not even know his name or what he did.)

(I would devote this piece to John Wycliffe, but he was not actually killed for his faith and since this is a dedication to martyrs...I have decided to leave him off. But he was the first (known) to translate the Scriptures into the language of the people in the 1300s. You can read more about him here.)

William Tyndale
worked most of his adult life at translating the Bible into English so that the people could know and read the Word of God and determine for themselves the false practices of the Roman Church. He was deemed a heretic for the crime and later killed for it.

During the years that he was working, at one point shipwrecked and losing everything, he never lost sight of his goal to translate the Scriptures into English and at one point said this: "I call God to record against the day we shall appear before our Lord Jesus, that I never altered one syllable of God's Word against my conscience, nor would do this day, if all that is in earth, whether it be honor, pleasure, or riches, might be given me."

And so, 11 years after his translation of the New Testament went into print, William Tyndale was brought out and strangled and then burnt at the stake. As he was dying he called in a loud voice "Lord, open the King of England's eyes!"

I pray that the Lord would open our eyes as well to the need of the Scriptures across the world in the native tongues of men.


Monday, November 17, 2008

the five solas series: sola scriptura

Few things mean as much to me as a passionate pursuit of the Scriptures to find out everything I can about God and how I should live. So, yesterday evening was a fun one for talk about why Scripture stands as our sole authority for rule and faith.

At the top read these to statements:
Simply put the 5 solas are this:
Scripture alone teaches that it is grace alone that saves through faith alone in Christ alone all for the glory of God alone.

These are the things that stood at the heart of the Reformation and still today stand as the rule of practice in the orthodoxy of the church. They do not represent what is necessary for individual salvation but they do stand for what is the proper means for growth and sanctification in the faith.
It is good to begin with some information on how the New Testament came about and why it is valid (if we believe the New Testament is valid, then we assume the validity of the Old Testament.)

I'd recommend going here and browsing around and searching for articles on the New Testament. Unfortunately I can't find my bookmarked pages (I think they are on a different computer).

After knowing that we can trust the reliability of the New Testament we find that it teaches that:

1. Human tradition or wisdom does not equal the Scriptures in matters of faith:
2 Corinthians 2:4-5 and 1 Thessalonians 2:13

2. Since we cannot rely on human knowledge and wisdom, we must rely on the Scripture to show us what it means to be saved:
Ephesians 2:19-20; Galatians 1:11-12; 2 Timothy 3:15-17

3. Scripture also teaches what sanctification means (and that it does not mean an adherence to the traditions of the church.)
1 Thessalonians 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15 (for a good article on these passages please check out Greg Bahnsen's article.)

4. Scripture should be used for our own protection against false teaching and as the crucial rule to determine truth:
Galatians 1:6 and Acts 17:11

5. The preaching of the Scriptures (as the point to Christ) is the ordinary means of the Holy Spirit's move to convict and save people.
Romans 10:14-17

6. In all this, however, we must remember that salvation does not lie in Scripture...but in Jesus Christ, to whom Scripture points.
John 5:39-40

So, go read your Bible and know Jesus.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

the 5 solas

Sunday night I'll begin a short series with my senior high kids on the 5 solas of the Reformation. I've been working on material for a couple of months now...but I'm still torn about the order that I should teach.

I've been going back and forth on whether to start with Sola Scriptura (scripture alone) or with Sola Gratia (grace alone). If I don't start with Scripture it won't be until the 4th week and I'm worried that it'll be a little odd.

On the other hand, I really think that Grace needs to be upfront and featured throughout the whole series. I've got a few more days to think about hopefully I'll have it figured out before the ball drops at 7pm on Sunday.

I'm also getting excited about next semester's theme: Missions and Evangelism. I've been trying to think of a better tagline because this is going to hit some really hard topics like self-righteousness, self-centeredness, and our duty to preach the Gospel.

Rock out the rest of the week,


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

tuesday martyr

This account of the start of the Moravian mission movement is found here.

I first heard of these men in the sermon 10 shekels and a shirt by Paris Reidhead. I am certain that you will likely never forget these men.

Nicolaus Ludwig Von Zinzendorf is known for the famous life-motto he chose as a young boy: "I have one passion; it is Jesus, Jesus only."

He was (born in 1700), and became the leader of The Moravian Christians-a Christian community that is best known for its unparalleled missionary zeal. In 1727, the Moravians began a prayer program called, "Hourly Intercession" in which people committed to pray for an hour in each of the 24 hours in a day. This prayer effort lasted unbroken for a hundred years. After 65 years of prayer (by 1792), the little church had sent out 300 missionaries to unreached people groups all over the world. The Moravians, designed their own logo to glorify God. It was an emblem composed of a lamb on a blood-red ground, with the resurrection cross and a banner of triumph. It had this motto; "Our Lamb has conquered, let us follow Him."

Early in Nicolaus's life, the painting of Christ (by Domenico Feti), titled "Behold the Man." changed his life. It portrays Jesus with the crown of thorns pushed into his head; blood running down his head; and a cut and bruised body. He's looking outward, as if looking at whoever is gazing into the painting. Beneath the portrait are the words; "I have done this for you; what have you done for me?" Viewing that painting Nicolaus said to himself; "I have loved Him for a long time, but I have never actually done anything for Him. From now on I will do whatever He leads me to do." For the rest of his life, those words reverberated in his zeal to follow Christ.

From the Moravian movement came two young men (the first Moravian missionaries), who heard of an island in the West Indies where an atheist slave owner had over 2000 slaves. The owner declared that no preacher would be allowed to stay on the island, or come and talk about God. Leonard Dober, a potter, and David Nitschman, a carpenter, both in their early twenties, had heard about the island; the slaves, and what the slave owner had said. So, they came up with a self-sacrificial plan to take the gospel to that island. They sold themselves as slaves to the atheist. On October 8, 1732, Moravians came to the pier in Hamburg to say goodbye to the two men. This was a permanent goodbye because Leonard and David had sold themselves into lifetime slavery to share the gospel of Christ. Families were on shore weeping because they knew they would never see the two again. This was the scene as they were drifting off and one of the missionaries raised his hand and shouted across the water the last words that were heard from the two men--words that have resounded throughout history, and on into the heavens: "May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering."

Those words became the rallying call for the Moravians where 20 out of the first 29 missionaries to follow Leonard and David, died in the first few years. "May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering."



Sunday, November 9, 2008

prayer on a sunday

Jared, at the Thinklings blog, posted today on one of the most atrocious crimes of the church that I have heard of in recent years. Young children in Nigeria are being accused of witchcraft and then being beaten, burned, mutilated and threatened until they confess to the crime.

What a terrible, terrible thing that the church in Nigeria is doing.

Next Sunday our youth group will be praying for Nigeria and a great repentance of the adulterous crimes of the church there.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Act Like Men

Sunday I preached from 1 Corinthians 16:13-14.

The sermon can be summed like this:

Act Like Men

Listen here:

Or download here.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

tuesday martyr

3 friends (found in Foxe's Book of Martyrs)

A.D. 1568, three persons were apprehended in Antwerp, named Scoblant, Hues, and Coomans. During their confinement they behaved with great fortitude and cheerfulness, confessing that the hand of God appeared in what had befallen them, and bowing down before the throne of his providence. In an epistle to some worthy Protestants, they expressed themselves in the following words: "Since it is the will of the Almighty that we should suffer for His name, and be persecuted for the sake of His Gospel, we patiently submit, and are joyful upon the occasion; though the flesh may febel against the spirit, and hearken to the council of the old serpent, yet the truths of the Gospel shall prevent such advice from being taken, and Christ shall bruise the serpent's head. We are not comfortless in confinement, for we have faith; we fear not affliction, for we have hope; and we forgive our enemies, for we have charity. Be not under apprehensions for us, we are happy in confinement through the promises of God, glory in our bonds, and exult in being thought worthy to suffer for the sake of Christ. We desire not to be released, but to be blessed with fortitude; we ask not liberty, but the power of perseverance; and wish for no change in our condition, but that which places a crown of martyrdom upon our heads."

Scoblant was first brought to his trial; when, persisting in the profession of his faith, he received sentence of death. On his return to prison, he earnestly requested the jailer not to permit any friar to come near him; saying, "They can do me no good, but may greatly disturb me. I hope my salvation is already sealed in heaven, and that the blood of Christ, in which I firmly put my trust, hath washed me from my iniquities. I am not going to throw off this mantle of clay, to be clad in robes of eternal glory, by whose celestial brightness I shall be freed from all errors. I hope I may be the last martyr to papal tyranny, and the blood already spilt found sufficient to quench the thirst of popish cruelty; that the Church of Christ may have rest here, as his servants will hereafter." On the day of execution, he took a pathetic leave of his fellow prisoners. At the stake he fervently said the Lord's Prayer, and sung the Fortieth Psalm; then commending his soul to God, he was burnt alive.

Hues, soon after died in prison; upon which occasion Coomans wrote thus to his friends: "I am now deprived of my friends and companions; Scoblant is martyred, and Hues dead, by the visitation of the Lord; yet I am not alone, I have with me the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob; He is my comfort, and shall be my reward. Pray unto God to strengthen me to the end, as I expect every hour to be freed from this tenement of clay."

On his trial he freely confessed himself of the reformed religion, answered with a manly fortitude to every charge against him, and proved the Scriptural part of his answers from the Gospel. The judge told him the only alternatives were recantation or death; and concluded by saying, "Will you die for the faith you profess?" To which Coomans replied, "I am not only willing to die, but to suffer the most excruciating torments for it; after which my soul shall receive its confirmation from God Himself, in the midst of eternal glory." Being condemned, he went cheerfully to the place of execution, and died with the most manly fortitude, and Christian resignation.

May God grant us the same perseverance if we are ever imprisoned with death before us.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Reformation Day!

Over the last few years October 31st has become one of my favorite holidays. It was the night that Martin Luther nailed his theses to the door and I will forever be grateful to him, and men like him, for their stand on the glory of God in salvation.

Below I've collected a few links of interest regarding the day:

The Pyromaniac take on Luther and this day

Desiring God has an interesting post on Luther's first thesis and his last words

Stand to Reason talk of the effect of that day

The Thinklings lay out their own 95 theses

And if that's not enough, Tim Challies has his roundup of reformation posts here.

Go watch Luther tonight and have a great Friday.


Thursday, October 30, 2008


I like going through my books on occasion. This happens to be one of those occasions (one of necessity not of mere jollity.)

You see, I have some exciting news. On Tuesday I won a free, yes that's right, FREE bed from Sealy. Not just some lame promotion bed either...any bed that I want from their entire line. (In case you don't know, my mother's furniture store where I work sells Sealy. I went to a Sealy event on Tuesday with my dad.)

So, because of the new bed, an upgrade from a twin size to a queen size, I have to do a bit of re-arranging in my room. I decided to bite the bullet and transfer the rest of my books from the house to the office.

Long story short: I had no idea that I had collected so much fiction over the years.

You might not think it much, but I think that 20 fiction books is a lot...considering how often I read one. I've just started reading The Sun Also Rises which I inherited from one of my parents recently. (They don't know to whom it belonged.)


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

tuesday martyr (a day late)

I would have never thought that a modern day martyr would be found in a place like Mexico. I know that Mexico has quite a bit of corruption, but I did not think that Christians would be the point of some of that violence.

This is from Voice of the Martyrs:

On August 23, three Christians in Chiapas, Mexico, were brutally killed by their neighbor after he blamed them for his daughter’s stomach ailment. Antonio Gomez blamed his Christian neighbor, Pedro Gomez Diaz and his family, for his 11-year-old daughter's stomach ailment and accused the Christian family of practicing witchcraft, Compass Direct News reported.

Gomez and seven of his friends entered the Christian family’s home and attacked them with machetes. Pedro, his wife, Marcela, and their oldest son, Rene, were hacked to death. Six of the other Diaz children were seriously wounded. At last report, the eight men involved in the attack were being held in a jail, Compass Direct News added.

The Voice of the Martyrs actively supports persecuted Christians in Chiapas, Mexico, with literature and other resources following incidents of persecution. VOM encourages you to pray for their protection and courage during challenging times. Pray for the surviving Diaz family as they mourn their parents and oldest sibling. Ask God to give them comfort in knowing that Christ is victorious over death.

May God grant peace and courage to those who face persecution in Chiapas.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

the rule and reign of Jesus

"...there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist." 1 Corinthians 8:6b

The ruling and reigning of Jesus should be constantly monitoring our thoughts and actions. We should be seeking to understand how "all things were created through him and for him." It is that last bit, "for him" that we seem to somehow forget.

Tonight, at senior high, I gave a rough outline of what this doctrine practically means in our lives.

One, it means that things that happen to us (or others) that are bad, such as: death, sickness, famine, disaster..., are ultimately for Jesus. There is nothing that happens that does not finally make him look amazing.

I talked about Job as the prime example and that Job asked those questions of God. The why questions...which are natural and not a sin to ask. It is, I believe, good to ask these questions of God. It is not good to assume things of God.

God's answer, in essence, to Job is "Why not? How do you know the finality of all things if you don't even know the beginning of all things?"

God is an infinite being and we are finite. We want to make this world about us (ourselves and other people) when in reality it is about God. Trouble brews when we turn the tables on God and count him as guilty for calamity. He is in control and sovereignly let it happen...but he is not guilty of a criminal act. All things are pointing towards him because all things were made to do just that.

Two, in this coming election (and all elections) we make a mistake to get riled up for what a particular candidate can do for us. The question must always be "Who do I think God can best use to call us to repentance and to make Him look awesome?"

(That doesn't mean you vote for a person who claims to be a christian all the time.)

Instead of focusing on the issues that affect us we should focus on those that dismay God. This world and its leaders are not here for our pleasure, they are here for God's glory. Vote accordingly.

Three, respect for those in authority rests on respect of God's authority. If God is ultimately in control and places people in places of authority...then we must respect them. A prime example would those folks in 1 Samuel 10 who despise Saul. They are called "worthless men" (which sounds nicer than it is) for despising a terrible king. We must never despise those in authority over us. Only if they deny us our right to proclaim the good news of Jesus do we have the right to usurp their authority.

There are more examples that come from a worldview that is founded on the truth that everything here is for Jesus and his glory. He is ruling and reigning in an active way by "holding the world together by the power of his word."

Let us live in light of it.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

tuesday martyr (a day late)

I found this in a copy of Foxe's book of martyrs that I have and it took me awhile to find it elsewhere (it seems it is not in most modern editions of the book.)

I did find it in the Acts and Monuments of the Church. So, below is the story of Romanus. Within it is also the mention of a young boy and his mother. What courage for Christ is displayed. (It is a bit long...)

Pitiless Galerius, with his grand captain Asclepiades, violently invaded the city of Antioch, in tending by force of arms to drive all Christians to renounce utterly their pure religion. The Christians, as God would, were at that time ongregated together, to whom Romanus hastily ran, declaring that the wolves were at hand which would devour the Christian flock; but fear not, said he, neither let this imminent peril disturb you, my brethren. Brought was it to pass, by the great grace of God working in Romanus, that old men and matrons, fathers and mothers, young men and maidens, were all of one will and mind, most ready to shed their blood in defence of their Christian profession. Word was brought unto the captain, that the band of armed soldiers was not able to wrest the staff of faith out of the hand of the armed congregation, and all by reason that one Romanus so mightily did encourage them, that they stick not to offer their naked throats, wishing gloriously to die for the name of their Christ. Seek out that rebel, (quoth the captain,) and bring him to me, that he may answer for the whole sect. Apprehended he was, and, bound as a sheep appointed to the slaughterhouse, was presented to the emperor, who with wrathful countenance beholding him, said, What! art thou the author of this sedition? Art thou the cause why so many shall lose their lives? By the gods I swear thou shalt smart for it, and first in thy flesh shalt thou suffer the pains whereunto thou hast encouraged the hearts of thy fellows. Romanus answered, Thy sentence, O emperor, I joyfully embrace; I refuse not to be sacrificed for my brethren, and that by as cruel means as thou mayest invent; and whereas thy soldiers were repelled from the Christian congregation, that so happened, because it lay not in idolaters and worshippers of devils to enter into the holy house of God, and to pollute the place of true prayer. Then Asclepiades, wholly inflamed with this stout answer, commanded him to be trussed up, and his bowels drawn out. The executioners themselves, more pitiful in heart than the captain, said, Not so, sir; this man is of noble parentage, unlawful it is to put a nobleman to so unnoble a death. Scourge him then with whips (quoth the captain) with pieces of lead at the ends. Instead of tears, sighs, and groans, Romanus sung psalms all the time of his whipping, requiring them not to favour him for nobility's sake; Not the blood of my progenitors, (saith he,) but Christian profession, maketh me noble. Then with great power of spirit he inveighed against the captain, laughing to scorn the false gods of the heathen, with the idolatrous worshipping of them, affirming the God of the Christians to be the true God that created heaven and earth, before whose judicial seat all nations shall appear. But the wholesome words of the martyr were as oil to the fire of the captain's fury. The more the martyr spake, the madder was he, insomuch that he commanded the martyr's sides to be lanced with knives, until the bones appeared white again. Sorry am I, O captain, (quoth the martyr,) not for that my flesh shall be thus cut and mangled, but for thy cause am I sorrowful, who, being corrupted with damnable errors, seducest others. The second time he preached at large the living God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, his well-beloved Son, eternal life through faith in his blood, expressing therewith the abomination of idolatry, with a vehement exhortation to worship and adore the living God. At these words Asclepiades commanded the tormentors to strike Romanus on the mouth, that his teeth being stricken out, his pronunciation at leastwise might be impaired. The commandment was obeyed, his face buffeted, his eyelids torn with their nails, his cheeks scotched with knives, the skin of his beard was plucked by little and little from the flesh; finally, his seemly face was wholly defaced. The meek martyr said, I thank thee, O captain, that thou hast opened unto me many mouths, whereby I may preach my Lord and Saviour Christ. Look how many wounds I have, so many mouths I have lauding and praising God. The captain, astonished with this singular constancy, commanded them to cease from the tortures. He threateneth cruel fire, he revileth the noble martyr, he blasphemeth God, saying, Thy crucified Christ is but a yesterday's God, the gods of the Gentiles are of most antiquity.

Here again Romanus, taking good occasion, made a long oration of the eternity of Christ, of his human nature, of the death and satisfaction of Christ for all mankind. Which done, he said, Give me a child, O captain, but seven years of age, which age is free from malice and other vices, wherewith riper age is commonly infected, and thou shalt hear what he will say His request was granted. A boy was called out of the multitude, and set before him. Tell me, my babe, (quoth the martyr,) whether thou think it reason that we worship one Christ, and in Christ one Father, or else that we worship infinite gods? Unto whom the babe answered, That certainly, whatsoever it be that men affirm to be God, must needs be one, which
with one, is one and the same; and inasmuch as this one is Christ, of necessity Christ must be the true God; for that there be many gods, we children cannot believe. The captain, hereat clean amazed, said, Thou young villain and traitor, where and of whom learnedst thou this lesson? Of my mother, (quoth the child,) with whose milk I sucked in this lesson, that I must believe in Christ. The mother was called, and she gladly appeared. The captain commanded the child to be horsed up and scourged. The pitiful beholders of this pitiless act could not temper themselves from tears; the joyful and glad mother alone stood by with dry cheeks; yea, she rebuked her sweet babe for craving a draught of cold water; she charged him to thirst after the cup that the infants of Bethlehem once drank of, forgetting their mothers' milk and paps; she willed him to remember little Isaac, who, beholding the sword wherewith, and the altar whereon, he should be sacrificed, willingly proffered his tender neck to the dint of his father's sword. Whilst this counsel was in giving, the butcherly torturer plucked the skin from the crown of his head, hair and all. The mother cried, Suffer, my child, anon thou shalt pass to Him that will adorn thy naked head with a crown of eternal glory. The mother counselleth, the child is counselled; the mother encourageth, the babe is encouraged, and received the stripes with smiling countenance. The captain, perceiving the child invincible, and himself vanquished, committeth the silly soul, the blessed babe, the child uncherished, to the stinking prison, commanding the torments of Romanus to be renewed and increased, as chief author of this evil.

Thus was Romanus brought forth again to new stripes, the punishments to be renewed and received upon his old sores, insomuch as the bare bones appeared, the flesh all torn away.

Yea, no longer could the tyrant forbear, but needs he must draw nearer to the sentence of death. Is it painful to thee (saith he) to tarry so long alive? A flaming fire, doubt thou not, shall be prepared for thee by and by, wherein thou and that boy, thy fellow of rebellion, shall be consumed into ashes. Romanus and the babe were led to the place of execution. As they laid hands on Romanus, he looked back, saying, I appeal from this thy tyranny, O judge unjust, unto the righteous throne of Christ, that upright Judge, not because I fear thy cruel torments and merciless handlings, but that thy judgments may be known to be cruel and bloody. Now when they welcome to the place, the tormentor required the child of the mother, for she had taken it up in her arms; and she, only kissing it, delivered the babe; Farewell, she said, my sweet child. And as the hangman applied his sword to the babe's neck, she sang on this manner:

All laud and praise with heart and voice,
O Lord, we yield to thee,
To whom the death of all thy saints
We know most dear to be.

The innocent's head being cut off, the mother wrapped it up in her garment, and laid it to her breast. On the other side a mighty fire was made, whereinto Romanus was cast, who said that he should not burn; wherewith a great storm arose (if it be true) and quenched the fire. The captain gave in commandment that his tongue should be cut out. Out was it plucked by the hard roots and cut off: nevertheless he spake, saying, He that speaketh Christ shall never want a tongue; think not that the voice that uttereth Christ hath need of the tongue to be the minister. The captain at this, half out of his wits, bare in hand that the hangman deceived the sight of the people by some subtle sleight and crafty conveyance. Not so, (quoth the hangman,) if you suspect my deed, open his mouth, and diligently search the roots of his tongue. The captain at length, being confounded with the fortitude and courage of the martyr, straitly commandeth him to be brought back into the prison, and there to be strangled; where, his sorrowful life and pains being ended, he now enjoyeth quiet rest in the Lord, with perpetual hope of his miserable body to be restored
again with his soul into a better life, where no tyrant shall have any power.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

the ascension

Tonight at senior high youth I will speak about the ascension of Jesus Christ and what that means to us, as believers in Him.

I think there are several reasons why it is important for us to realize He ascended and for what purpose He went.

The first I think is fairly obvious, since Jesus tells us one of the main reasons He will be leaving the earth after His resurrection. He talks about in John 16:4-15. I'll summarize by saying that He left in order that the Holy Spirit would come to 1)convict the world of sin, 2)convict the world of righteousness, 3)convict the world of judgment, 4)guide us into all truth, 5)Glorify God through Jesus.

Hebrews 4:14 gives us another reason that He left and "went through the heavens." It was so that we could have hope and confidence and hold fast to our faith. This leads to the last two points.

He left to rule and reign as is spelled out in Ephesians 1:15-23. He went to act as our advocate and High Priest. We, therefore, place our hope and confidence in the great, powerful, mighty, resurrected Lord Jesus who rules with all authority and intercedes for us. That is why we get to have confidence (point number 2).

The final reason I believe Jesus left us was to give us a reminder and hope of his return. In Acts 1:11 the angels tell the apostles that Jesus will return in the manner they just saw him go. I think that gives us a great hope of his return (and goes back to point number 2).

I hope you will be encouraged that Jesus ascended through the heavens to be seated at the right hand of the Father and has sent us the Holy Spirit. What a merciful and awesome God.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

God works sovereignly

"God works sovereignly. In essence, Exodus challenges the common notion that God is passive." pg 88

"In Midian, Moses marries, settles down, and probably think retirement is upon him as he nears his eightieth much as Exodus is a story about Moses, when I read it again this week, I found that God is really the main character in this story. God appears to the aging Moses in the burning bush. God reveals his name to Moses--Moses was not out there looking for it. God commissions Moses to speak to Pharaoh and bring God's people out of Egypt. Moses was sitting around reading the Federalist Papers, determining that the Hebrews needed to take freedom into their won hands. No, Moses is an eighty-year-old shepherd. God is the actor in this story." pg 89-90

"This is the God presented in the book of Exodus. He is sovereign even over wheels getting stuck in the mud and coming off!" (ref. Ex. 14:23-28) pg 91

"Just as God raises up Moses to lead the people, he places Pharaoh in his position of power. God purposed to install a pharaoh, as it says in the book's opening verses, "who did not know about Joseph" (1:8). And a little later he explicitly tells Pharaoh, "I have raised you up" (9:16). Surely you realize that God was no less sovereign in raising up Pharaoh than in raising up Moses." pg 91

"Then comes the part of the story that troubles people the most, but is undeniably crucial to the great escape from Egypt. God works sovereignly in Pharaoh [by] hardening his heart...God warns Moses ahead of time that he will do this (Ex. 4:21)...I don't claim to understand everything about how God hardened Pharaoh's heart, or all of its implications. But the verse certainly says that God had a purpose in hardening Pharaoh's heart." pg 92

"But that is not all of what we are supposed to observe. We are also supposed to observe that God works sovereignly (now let's add a little bit to the sentence to make our second point to save a special people...Exodus challenges the common notion that God treats all people in the same way, or that God is a committed egalitarian. No, that is not the story in Exodus. God is certainly fair; he is the standard of justice. But God does mysteriously and graciously choose to extend mercy to some. And no one can require mercy from him. It is his mercy. From a foundation of utter fairness, God chooses to extend mercy." pg 93

"The nations will hear and tremble...(Ex. 15:14-16)
This, of course, is why the Lord sovereignly placed his people in Egypt...Because Egypt was a great power. Because Egypt provided the perfect stage on which God could display his glory." pg 102

from Mark Dever's The Message of the Old Testament


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

the google

The google, also known as "the creeper."

Here's a google streetview pic...with my truck, in front of a place I used to live. Now, that's creepy.


Monday, October 13, 2008

tuesday martyr

This week I thought I'd give you a glimpse into what is going on in India. Below is a brief outline of the martyrdom of 3 Christian men in India several years ago. You can find a more detailed story here.
Graham Staines and his two sons traveled deep into a very remote part of India in January of 1999 to proclaim the Gospel and to help with medical and other physical needs of the village.

As they were sleeping in their vehicle one night a mob of about 100 gathered around their jeep and soaked it in gasoline. They lit it on fire and danced around the 3 men who were burnt alive. His sons were 9 and 7.

They then held off authorities for more than an hour to make sure of their death.

Graham's wife and daughter were not with them when the act occurred and later his wife plead for clemency for the main man incarcerated for the murders.
Here are some links to other stories of murder and violence against Christians in recent months:
The Christianity Today Blog
Persecuted Church Blog
Pyromaniacs Blog

May the God who keeps us let us live and die for His glory and for the spread of the good news of Jesus Christ.


Missions: Go or Send

Missions was the topic during yesterday's sermon. There are two extremely influential sermons and one book that have shaped my view of missions over the last two years. I reference all three in the sermon. I encourage you to listen to them or read them:

Paris Reidhead's sermon "10 Shekels and a Shirt"
John Piper's book Let the Nations Be Glad
(I am working on finding out the name and hopefully audio link from the sermon on Revelation 5 that was preached at College Park Church in early 2006)

My sermon outlines two ideas: What is the point of missions and evangelism? and What should we do because of that?

The answers: God is the point of missions and evangelism. He is worthy of all praise and adoration and glory because He was slain for our sins. He deserves the reward of his suffering.

We should go and send missionaries because of this glorious truth. We all have the duty as Christians to be sending and going for the cause of Christ because He is worthy. Jesus said "As the Father has sent me, so I send you." We must go, because we are commanded.

Here is the audio from the sermon:

You may also download it here.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

the sun

I have no idea where I found this...I tried digging through my Google Reader, but I caught no signs of it.

It is a series of pictures of a solar flare on the sun's surface. You should definitely check out the other 20 photos and be amazed at the great magnificence of God's creation.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

picture day

I saw this photo in the most recent (I think) issue of National Geographic. It was an article on Right Whales. You should go check out the article and read about their warts.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

lyrical thursday

I recently ordered four of the five Indelible Grace cds. I have enjoyed it immensely. There are some that I don't like, and some I'll never use, but there are several that will definitely be making their way into Sunday morning over the next year or so.

Here is the first one that I used. I actually heard it about 2 years ago at a Presbyterian church I attended for awhile. I didn't even know it was on the cds but when I heard it I immediately used it the very next Sunday.

Father Long Before Creation

Father, long before creation
Thou hadst chosen us in love,
And that love so deep, so moving,
Draws us close to Christ above.
Still it keeps us, still it keeps us.
Firmly fixed in Christ alone.

Though the world may change its fashion,
Yet our God is e'er the same;
His compassion and His covenant
Through all ages will remain.
God's own children, God's own children
Must forever praise His name.

God's compassion is my story,
Is my boasting all the day;
Mercy free and never failing
Moves my will, directs my way.
God so loved us, God so loved us
That His only Son He gave.

Loving Father now before Thee
We will ever praise Thy love,
And our songs will sound unceasing
'Til we reach our home above,
Giving glory, giving glory
To our God and to the Lamb


wednesday from the books

I have begun reading Jonathan Edwards book Religious Affections this week. I decided to read it in October because I read the preface when I first received it and Alexander Smellie said that the "prevailing atmosphere [of the book] is that of October rather than May." So, here it is...and I've picked it up to read.

Consider this:

It is no sign that religious affections are truly holy and spiritual, or that they are not, that they come with texts of Scripture, remarkably brought to the mind

I think that this idea is particularly important when evaluating the teachings of a teacher in the church. It is easy to assume that, because they use Scripture and quote it often, they are good to go and we can listen to them without a defense.

I encourage you to meditate on the Word and do not be too eager and quick to assume that the use of Scripture validates a person's teachings. And, although it is overused, be like the Bereans who test everything with Scripture and reason.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

tuesday martyr

From now on, Tuesdays will be dedicated to the story of a martyr for Christ. Below is the short synopsis of Ignatius found in Foxe's Book of Martyrs.

In this persecution suffered the blessed martyr, Ignatius, who is held in famous reverence among very many. This Ignatius was appointed to the bishopric of Antioch next after Peter in succession. Some do say, that he, being sent from Syria to Rome, because he professed Christ, was given to the wild beasts to be devoured. It is also said of him, that when he passed through Asia, being under the most strict custody of his keepers, he strengthened and confirmed the churches through all the cities as he went, both with his exhortations and preaching of the Word of God. Accordingly, having come to Smyrna, he wrote to the Church at Rome, exhorting them not to use means for his deliverance from martyrdom, lest they should deprive him of that which he most longed and hoped for. "Now I begin to be a disciple. I care for nothing, of visible or invisible things, so that I may but win Christ. Let fire and the cross, let the companies of wild beasts, let breaking of bones and tearing of limbs, let the grinding of the whole body, and all the malice of the devil, come upon me; be it so, only may I win Christ Jesus!" And even when he was sentenced to be thrown to the beasts, such as the burning desire that he had to suffer, that he spake, what time he heard the lions roaring, saying: "I am the wheat of Christ: I am going to be ground with the teeth of wild beasts, that I may be found pure bread."

For a more in-depth look at Ignatius try looking here, although I'd beware of the idea that he appeared in a vision (it could've happened, but still...a little leery.)


Monday, October 6, 2008

the resurrection

1 Corinthians 15 is an awesome chapter; you should read it...more than once.

Last night at senior high I talked about the glorious truth of the resurrection of Christ and what it means for us, as Christians and non-Christians.

I grouped Paul's list in the first few verses like this:

If the Resurrection is NOT true:
1) My preaching and the apostolic witness is false
2) Your faith is worthless
3) The wrath of God is still on you, because you're still dead in sins
4) Those who have died for the sake of Christ are in Hell
5) We should be pitied because we're idiots

But because Christ has been raised the following are true:
1) We have hope because we are forgiven
2) Our faith is true and well-founded and we can have confidence in it
3) The witness of the apostles and pastors is true (there is absolute truth)
4) We are to be envied (the Christian life has worth)
5) Those who have died are resurrected to joy forever

And the main point of the evening:
6) We gain the resurrection!

This last point is the driving point behind the Christian life. It is what we live for and why we should strive to live for the glory of God with every ounce of our being. This is what drives Paul's statement "to live is Christ and to die is gain."

We gain the resurrection!

I used this analogy: I'm a fat kid. (Seriously, 245 lbs and 5'7") I run because I have a goal in mind: to lose weight and not be fat. I have a goal and I work hard at that goal because I want to accomplish it.

Paul says this "run the race in a way so that you receive the crown." Run so you win. Run so hard that when death peers at you have no hesitation but to continue to run because you know that after death is gain. Because you have a goal: the resurrection. It is gain!

Scream with the apostle, "O death, where is your sting?!!"

We gain the resurrection if we believe in Christ's resurrection. Live like it.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

carson on prayer

D.A. Carson's book A Call to Spiritual Reformation affected my prayer-life in profound ways when I first read it. I recently picked it up again and was refreshed by his practicality and faithfulness in prayer.

One of the most beneficial things I picked up from the book (I know, it seems like I've trivialized it the rest of the book...but, really, this has helped me a ton) was to either speak out loud or at least mouth the words as I pray.

It helps me to concentrate while praying (keeping me from getting distracted from any number of things that swim through my head) and it helps keep me interested while someone else is praying aloud.

I encourage you to try it. You will be amazed at the benefits...and you'll no longer wonder why so many of the prayers of people (including Jesus) are recorded, it was probably because those folks realized the power of speaking prayer.


p.s. get the book

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

seeing much in very little

John Piper is one of my favorite pastors, and not simply because he is an excellent speaker, but because it is evident from what he teaches that he meditates on the Scriptures.

Here is something of encouragement to those of us who have, in our own minds, a small amount of 'scriptural knowledge'; that is, we feel as though our lack of "memory verses" either disqualifies us from teaching or limits our own understanding of what God says in his book.

Be encouraged as John writes in a sermon:

But there are several strong forces which oppose our relentless and systematic interrogating of biblical texts. One is that it consumes a great deal of time and energy on one small portion of Scripture. We have been schooled [quite erroneously] that there is a direct correlation between reading a lot and gaining insight. But in fact there is no positive correlation at all been quantity of pages read and quality of insight gained. Just the reverse. Except for a few geniuses, insight diminishes as we try to read more and more. Insight or understanding is the product of intensive, headache-producing meditation on two or three verses and how they fit together. This kind of reflection and rumination is provoked by asking questions of the text. And you cannot do it if you hurry. Therefore, we must resist the deceptive urge to carve notches in our bibliographic gun. Take two hours to ask ten questions of Galatians 2:20 and you will gain one hundred times the insight you would have attained by reading 30 pages of the New Testament or any other book. Slow down. Query. Ponder. Chew.

So, instead of worrying that you don't know enough...sit and study a verse or two for awhile and see how much the Spirit can teach you if you simply let Him.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

reading the old testament

I picked up the book The Message of the Old Testament by Mark Dever at the Desiring God conference this past weekend.

Today I opened it up and read the foreword and since I have been talking about this very thing for months and months at the church, I thought I'd share a little of what Graeme Goldsworthy had to say:

Why then is the first question we often ask about a passage in the Old Testament, "What does this tell us about ourselves?" Surely, the first and main question we should ask is, "How does this passage testify to Christ?"

We must always begin with the latter question because Jesus Christ, the fulfiller of the Old Testament, is the one who alone defines the life of the Christian. If the Old Testament does not point to Christ, it does not point to the Christian either. For a sermon to be authentically and Christianly people-centered it must first be Christ-centered. We can learn much from the lives and experiences of the men and women, both good and bad, who come before us in the pages of the Old Testament. But, in the final analysis, only Christ can define how those individuals are good or bad. Furthermore, our Christian growth comes from becoming more like Christ, not more like Abraham or David or Daniel. These heroes of the Old Testament are examples for us only insofar as they foreshadow and point to Christ.


Monday, September 29, 2008


Well, my brother and I made it back safely and in less than 18 hours (that was a crazy trip back last February).

It was a great weekend with hours of great teaching. I would highly recommend you reading, watching or listening to every one of the sessions (8 in all).

Specifically I believe you should listen to these: (well, i'll have to add the links later...because there seems to be an error on the site...stay tuned)

links are updated and the desiring God site seems to be up and running again

Mark Driscoll's talk on the use of tough language

Bob Kauflin's amazing talk on words and worship

John Piper's words of warning

Sinclair Ferugson's walk through James


Saturday, September 27, 2008

day one of the conference

Tonight was the first night of the Desiring God National Conference. My brother, Justin, and I are both attending.

Tonight we met a lady named Cheryl and a few members of her family. She's a good lady who goes to John Piper's church. She has a passion for hearing and making sure that the word of God is preached diligently from the Scriptures.

Also, tonight, was the first time I've heard Sinclair Ferguson live and it was a real treat. He spoke on James 3 and it was both encouraging and challenging. To live with a bridled tongue, under control, is a constant battle. But, thanks be to God, that Christ is our salvation.

I encourage you to give both the sermon and the Q&A with Piper, Driscoll and Ferguson afterward at


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

the crucifixion

Sunday evening I took my youth group into the depths of the crucifixion of Jesus. It was a pretty eye-opening night for some of them, as was told by their shocked silence at the end of the night.

I encourage you to ponder not only the physical atrocity of the cross (which is immense) but the spiritual implications and what it means for you as a Christian.

The totality of Jesus purpose on this earth is finished at the cross where he bears the weight of the world's sin and gets the punishment we all deserve.

The cross is ugly and atrocious and, for Christians, that is also its beauty. The cross is the most prolific display of the love of God.

I encourage you to listen to a sermon, read a sermon or read a book on the subject. Some recommendations: this sermon by Mark Driscoll, this sermon by John Piper or this book by Martin Hengel.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

life and ministry of Jesus

Last week at Senior High I discussed the life and ministry of Jesus. We looked at several things including his parables, his healings, other miracles he performed and his sinlessness.

The main message of the evening (hopefully) was this: Jesus came to tell about himself and to die.

His purpose during his 33 years (and more specifically his last 3 1/2) was to tell the world the good news about himself and then die to fulfill what he had said. Here are a few of the "purpose" statements that Jesus said during his life.

Luke 4:43 "but he said to them, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose."

John 10:10b "I came that they might have life and have it abundantly."

John 12:27 "Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I have come to this hour."(in reference to his coming death)

John 18:37b "For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world--to bear witness to the truth."

Jesus didn't come to be a hip, trendsetting, peaceful dude. He came to seek and save that which was lost by dying on a cross. That was his purpose, his mission and his life.

Let us never lose sight of that as we read the Gospels.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Israel is our example; Christ is our Rock

Yesterday I had the great joy to preach on 1 Corinthians 10:1-22 in an ongoing series in our church in 1 Corinthians titled "The church that didn't have it all together."

The basics of the sermon are this: Israel screwed up, a lot, and God got mad, a lot. But, thankfully, God was also merciful because of His love, through Christ.

So, I work through several of the old testament stories mentioned in the text and then I sum it up with a warning against idolatry and an encouragement that Christ can be our victory.

The sermon
is about 35 minutes long.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

sunday school

My good friend, Andy, is teaching the Sunday School class that I attend. And I have to tell you, last Sunday was great.

The subject for the next, unknown, weeks is simply "The Gospel." What a great subject, I say.

Sunday we began a study on the Scriptures regarding the state of man, that is, his sinfulness and how it encompasses everything we are, everything we do, and, in the end, our ability to respond to the Gospel.

It was a refreshing Sunday and I look forward to many more where I am not the teacher, but the learner. I've never been so happy to be in a classroom.

I hope, for your sakes, that you have the same joy as I when you are taught of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Oh, and be on the lookout for another installment on my series on Christ...this week: The Life and Ministry of Jesus. (And, I'm preaching this Sunday out of 1 Corinthians I'll post a brief summary of that as well.)


Monday, September 8, 2008

the incarnation

The basic outline for my sermon last night at Senior High youth group was this:
The Incarnation: prophecy, its fulfillment and the purpose

I used several birth prophecies of Christ from the Old Testament.
The genealogies of Jesus:
Of Shem Genesis 9:26-27
Of Abraham Genesis 22:18
Of Isaac Genesis 17:21
Of Jacob Genesis 35:10-12
Of Judah Genesis 49:8-12
Of Jesse Isaiah 11:1-5
Of David 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Jeremiah 23:5; Psalm 89:3-4

All fulfilled in the genealogies of Jesus in Matthew 1 and Luke 3

Born of a virgin

Isaiah 7:14 "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign, “Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Emmanuel."

Fulfilled in Matthew 1:18

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way, when his mother, Mary, had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit…All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: (quote Isaiah 7:14)

Luke 1:34

And Mary said to the angel “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

I stayed for awhile on this point, which is under constant attack from many fronts, because if you toss out that Mary was a virgin you have to toss out Matthew, Mark, and Luke as reliable witnesses. That means that Acts is gone as well. It creates a snowball affect that destroys any attempts to validate the New Testament. Jesus was born of a virgin, a girl who'd never had sex, and conceived in the Holy Spirit.

I also talked about the complicatedness of the following prophecies all having to hit at the same time:
Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)
Star to appear (Numbers 24:17)
Gifts from Kings (Psalm 72:10)
Slaughter of children (Jeremiah 31:15)
Flight to Egypt (Hosea 11:1)
Date of birth and death (Daniel 9)
Before Judah loses its right to rule (Genesis 49:10)

Then I talked of the significance of all these being true, that, indeed, Jesus was fully human, but that he also was the son of God (Psalm 2:7...fulfilled throughout the NT but especially Matthew 3:17; Luke 1:35; John 3:16; 1 John 5:20.)

Finally, the purpose of teaching the humanity of Jesus is found in Galatians 4:4 and a portion of Hebrews 2.

The basics of it are these:
To destroy the work of the devil
To deliver us from the fear of death
To be merciful to us when we are tempted
To receive adoption as sons
To become the propitiation of our sins.

Hebrews makes it very clear that it was necessary for Jesus to become like us, flesh and blood, so that his death would mean our guilt removed. If God were to have sacrificed his "eternal" nature (by somehow killing himself in the heavenly realms) then he would cease to exist and therefore our salvation and our world would be lost. Instead, he humbled himself to the point of death on the cross so that he could assume our punishment in bodily form without sacrificing his eternal nature to express his love in our salvation and joy.

It is in all of this that we rest. Jesus had to be human for all these reasons and with John we claim if you "deny that the Christ came in the flesh" then you have no part in salvation. Jesus was fully man. Let us never forget the love and humility it took to garner our salvation.

May our hearts burn within us just like the women in Luke 24.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

the reason

Colossians is a book that puts me in a mood to worship like few others. It is full of great truths about Christ and great calls to know everything we can about him.

It is in the first and second chapters that the call to teach for eight weeks on Christ came about. I have highlighted the lines that stood out to me. From Colossians 1 and 2:

Now I rejoice in my suffering for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.

I desire that everyone I meet, but especially those youth in my church, to be found mature in Christ and be firm in faith. I hope that by teaching the mysteries of Christ that no one will delude them (and you) by plausible arguments.

I decided to post my full thoughts online for those "who have not seen me face to face." Some of you will not be present when I teach on these things, but that shouldn't mean you can't benefit from the teaching.

I pray that as I study and learn that God would open my mouth to clearly proclaim the mystery that is found only in Christ.


Monday, August 4, 2008

eight weeks

Over the next eight weeks I'll be posting on eight different aspects of Christ. These are the lessons I've been preparing for the youth this semester. I'm pretty excited about it...I mean, it's about it has to be exciting.

The topics:
The pre-existence of Christ
The incarnation of Christ
The life and ministry of Christ
The death of Christ
The resurrection of Christ
The ascension of Christ
The rule and reign of Christ
The second coming of Christ

Right now I'm planning on posting several times per week on the topic so that I can straighten out my thoughts before I teach it at the beginning of next month.



Wednesday, July 9, 2008

allright, this time i'm really back

Well, after my post a month ago I thought I'd be back to blogging regularly but I ended up working full-time for the furniture store, having some relatives in from Texas and working on figuring out PHP scripting (again, that made my week.)

On thinking about working on the new scripting language I did realize that it was, in fact, very spiritual. I don't mean that php is the language of God, but I do think that the process of learning and thinking I had it, and then realizing I didn't, was deeply spiritual.

There were many times that I tried to write code before I knew what I was doing and it didn't work. I'd click on something and instead of doing what it was supposed to do, it would just sit there. It was discouraging. But I had a goal: to learn php so that the website would be easier to handle in the long run.

Now, take that idea (of working on something very hard and failing time and again but pushing on because of the end result) and put it into your mind for Christ. That's what we do as we seek to know Him and His word better. We study and we think and we act...and many times we fail. But sometimes we succeed and we get pumped that we've figured something out about the character of God or about how we should behave so that Christ is magnified.

So, continue the struggle. I'll be trying to make it work on this end.


Monday, July 7, 2008

this is in no way spiritual...i think

I just figured out how to use php stuff on the Bailey's Furniture webpage (it's still in development so don't complain when things don't work right.)

I had to write to tell the world, cause it took me a couple of weeks of staring at a computer screen of code to figure it out. But now, instead of copying and pasting countless lines of code I can type a simple statement...and be done. That is awesome.

I feel awesome.

What a good day.


Monday, June 16, 2008

back to the grindstone

Well, after two barbecues, a pontoon ride (and near sink) and a last meal at Moe & Johnny's, my sister left for Honduras again. The capital city, Tegucigalpa (Tegus for short), is still shut down to airplanes so she had to fly into San Pedro Sula instead.

She landed a couple of hours ago and is heading back to Esuela El Sembrador (which is now 8 hours ago instead of 4.)

Pray for her as she travels and pray for the kids at the school and the missionaries there that God would be glorified in their midst through the spread of the Gospel in Honduras.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

the rbf

For those who missed the most amazing event of the year, the RBF (or Round Barn Festival for those city-slickers who don't know), it was incredible.

My sister has a sweet picture post you should check out.

And if you're wondering why we think the picture with the VFW cannon is so funny, let's just say there was a certain "incident" my dad's senior year of high school that involved a canon, a sheet, a lit up switchboard, the high school, handcuffs and about 12 people.

Don't ask too many questions...the details are a little fuzzy. (But I'll be glad to recount the whole thing to you sometime.)


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

simplifying life

I unsubscribed from about 120 blogs today in a small effort to simplify my life.

I've done this in other areas as well. I've stepped back from reading several books at a time to just 2 (ok, 3...but the third one is fiction.)

I've also started going to bed at a reasonable hour in the hope that I'll start getting up earlier. (It has worked a little bit. I'm getting up about a 1/2 hour earlier now.)

The more I simplify the more I'm reminded of how simple life really is.

Get up-trust in God.

Work-trust in God.

Hang out-trust in God.

Go to bed-trust in God.

Plus, with having 120 less subscribtions to read, I can blog more regularly.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

this is jeopardy

I'm a fan of Jeopardy. It has a certain appeal for a lot of folks, despite the fact that most of us have no idea what the answers are...and most of the time we don't have any clue what the clue means. But, we still watch. It amazes us that people know the things that they know.

We are mesmerized by knowledge or the appearance of knowledge. There is no doubt that some of the folks on Jeopardy are some of the smartest people on the planet, but most of the contestants aren't that smart...they've simply memorized tons and tons of random trivia.

As I was watching tonights episode (which is close 18,400; 10,800; and 18,000 heading into the final clue) I couldn't help but think of this sad reality in churches.

Too often we let the person with the most "trivia" knowledge of Christianity be the teacher. They know a ton of stuff about a ton of stuff but many times they know little of Christ and the momentous weight it holds for believers. They can often spend hours talking of little known things in the history of Christianity or in Scripture but can't spend more than a few minutes discussing the implications of the resurrection of Jesus.

Perhaps we'd be wise to choose more foolish teachers. After all, we're told that the cross is foolishness and to avoid myths and speculations (trivia).

I often wonder if at times I look more like a Jeopardy contestant rather than a lover of Jesus when I teach.

Lord, make me a treasurer of the Gospel and a teacher of truth.


Saturday, June 7, 2008


I had forgotten how much I enjoy just sitting around strumming my guitar. I spent about an hour the past couple of evenings picking and plucking my way through a bunch of stuff and it was a lot of fun.

One of the benefits of being able to play an instrument (especially guitar...or piano...or banjo...or something of that sort) is that you can play accompaniment for yourself for any tune you know.

Tonight I spent most of the time singing through hymns that I've transcribed for guitar and it was a good time of worship, praising my God for his great salvation.

Find some time to do the same, if you can.


Friday, June 6, 2008

back on the wagon

Well, it's been nearly a month since I posted anything...but I've gotten my life almost halfway normalized, so I figured it was time to start writing again.

Once of the most difficult things in life is to own up to mistakes, sins and blunders. It is never easy to say "I was wrong" or "I said something that was hurtful and I apologize." Over the past month I've had to own up to a lot of junk. And, man, it has been tough at times.

On the other hand, it is easily one of the best feelings in the world to be free from the weight of unconfessed sins and mistakes. It takes a burden off that is hard to describe. I encourage all to confess brings freedom.

The other side, which I have found equally difficult, is to accept grace and forgiveness. I always thought confession was the hardest...but it is almost harder to accept forgiveness when you know there is no reason other than grace and love.

Ponder the weight of this in regards to salvation and the tears are sure to flow. You and I have stolen glory from God for years (and we continue to do so daily) and yet he loves us...for the sake of his own love. What an unfathomably great grace he bestowed in his Son, Christ Jesus.