Saturday, March 31, 2007

hard boiled egg

Ok - I'm still pretty busy but I had a need to blog something so I chose this practice "how to" video for peeling a hard boiled egg.

Simply amazing.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

apologies and parenting

Sorry for the long break. I was in Frankfurt, Germany for a week, then Manaus, Brazil for a week, and this week I had 4.5 very full days leading a training. I just got my first breather and it is now time to catch-up on mail, stuff that broke around the house, etc..

Getting caught up on this blog is also on my list to do but my parents are coming in from Jersey tonight so ... we'll you'll be able to tell by how much I blog this weekend how that visit is going. ;- )

But - in case I don't get a chance to write soon, here's neat list of 10 things to teach your children from God through Solomon to The Pulpit Magazine to me to you ...

Teach your children:

1. To have a healthy fear of God (1:7; 9:10; 10:27; 14:26-27; 15:16; 16:6; 19:23)

2. To guard their minds (4:23; 23:7)

3. To obey you (1:8; 4:1-4; 6:20-23; 30:17)

4. To carefully select their companions (1:11-18; 2:10-15; 13:20)

5. To control their sinful desires (2:16-19; 5:3-5; 6:23-33; 7:6-27)

6. To enjoy sexual fidelity (5:15-20)

7. To watch their words (4:24; 10:11, 19-21, 32; 12:18, 22; 15:1-2; 16:23; 20:15)

8. To pursue their work (6:6-11; 10:4-5; 22:29)

9. To manage their money (3:9-10; 11:24-26; 19:17; 22:9)

10. To love their neighbors (3:27-29; 25:21-22)

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

paul gilbert

I'm really looking forward to tonight's G3 concert. Paul Gilbert practices some of the stuff I taught him below ...

I heard he might open the show with this ...

However I don't expect to see this guy ... his imitation of Gilbert using a drill just doesn't get it (but it's funny).

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reflecting the kingdom

Matt Massey delivered yet another of his "signature" sermons, this one on Reflecting the Kingdom of God. One of the Epicurean philosopher Epictetus's important teachings was that we must become what we do and what we do reflects who we are. As Christians we would disagree. We know that humans are not the sum total of what we do, yet we understand that what we do reflects who we are ... or more precisely, what we do reflects whose we are (Col 3.23).

We are human "beings" not human "doings". But we must do what is true to who we are and if we are Christ's than who we are is a new creation in Christ Jesus. We must contemplate what our lives should look like if we were truly and radically changed by the Gospel of the Kingdom.

Today we considered this in light of story of the woman anointing Jesus at Simon the leper's house. Here we see that love for the poor cannot supersede our love for Jesus. When we love Jesus with all that we are, we will become more like him (Psa 115.4-8; Jer 2.5b; Rom 12.1). Then love for the poor flows from that. All good things flow from that.

Two keys for life in Christ. We are marked by (1) unabashed love and adoration and (2) sacrificial living. In Matthew we saw this woman giving extravagantly to Jesus. Of this one life which was broken at the feet of Jesus, He said she will have her story told forever. As Maximus said, "What we do in life echoes through eternity." Will anyone be telling your story?

I'm not a big Mother Teresa fan but the following anecdote is inspirational.
People often ask me what Mother Teresa was like. ... She was short, wrinkled, and precious, maybe even a little ornery, like a beautiful, wise old granny. But there is one thing I will never forget - her feet. Her feet were deformed. Each morning in Mass, I would stare at them. I wondered if she had contracted leprosy. But I wasn't going to ask, of course. "Hey Mother, what's wrong with your feet? " One day a sister said to us, "have you noticed her feet?" We nodded, curious. She said, "Her feet are deformed because we get just enough donated shoes for everyone, and Mother does not want anyone to get stuck with the worst pair, so she digs through and finds them. And years of doing that have deformed her feet." Years of loving her neighbor as herself deformed her feet. - Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne, pg. 168
She gave sacrificially. What about you and me? Have we given sacrificially motivated by love for Jesus? Have we brought our "alabaster jars" to Him and poured them out on Him? Our families? Our careers? Our hobbies? Is there anything we hold back? We need to take these jars of what we value and break them open at His feet. And when we do, the aroma that will fill the place will be beautiful.

Jesus said, “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”

It's time for us to break open our lives at His feet and be poured out for His use.

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what is evangelism? revisted

While this post is not attempting to be exhaustive, I want to highlight some points that The Evangelism Coach brought to my attention. He has a five posts defining evangelism.

Part 1 gives us the PCUSA definition which I like a lot.
Joyfully sharing the good news of the sovereign love of God, and calling people to repentance, to personal faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, to active membership in the church, and to obedient service in the world.
Part 2 discusses the joy found in participating in our Creator's grand plan.
God pursued me, found me, awakened me, is transforming me, and renewing me. That's all His initiative and grace. The more I relish and delight in the grace of God, I find awakening in me a contagious joy and a deep thankfulness that propels me to share. I want other people to know about God’s sovereign love.

Part 3 discusses the balance of words and deeds. He includes links to other posts "warning" about too much focus in either direction.

Part 4 is my favorite because it is about God's sovereignty.

  1. God’s sovereign love pursues us before we ever know Him.
  2. God’s sovereign activity makes us aware of our need for the salvation he provides.
  3. God’s sovereign love provides the solution and enables us to receive that offer.
  4. God’s sovereign love continues to pursue us as we walk on the path of discipleship.
Since evangelism is a process that occurs over time, it’s the sovereignty of God that gives me comfort in the fact that I’m just one part of God’s pursuit. Every conversation I have is part of God’s process in the life of the person I share with. I might have the part of planting a seed, watering what someone else has sown, or harvesting what others of planted, watered, and sown. Whether with a stranger on the street, or a long term friend, any conversation prompted by the Holy Spirit is one conversation in the process of God’s work.
Part 5 expands on the basic definition of evangelism. Evangelism is calling people to:

  1. repentance
  2. personal faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord
  3. active membership in the church
  4. obedient service in the world
This goes far beyond the typical practice of points 1 & 2.

The Coach then offers some additional definitions and other blog links.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

powerful presentation hebrews

As with so many, I've seen this but my amazement of the power of Ryan Ferguson's recitation of Hebrews 9-10 has not diminished. I hope you are as blessed.

HT for the reminder: KC Armstrong

song of ascents

David, The Message, Psalm 133

Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!

It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
life forevermore.

Eugene Peterson explains,
Our membership in the church is a corollary of our faith in Christ. We can no more be a Christian and have nothing to do with the church than we can be a person and not be in a family. Membership in the church is a basic spiritual fact for those who confess Christ as Lord. It is not an option for those Christians who happen by nature to be more gregarious than others. It is part of the fabric of redemption.
God never makes private, secret salvation deals with people. No Christian is an only child. The Jerusalem Bible translates the first verse of this Psalm, "How good, how delightful it is for all to live together like brothers."

Peterson quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer on this,
Not what a man is in himself as a Christian, his spirituality and piety, constitutes the basis of our community. What determines our brotherhood [and sisterhood] is what that man [or woman] is by reason of Christ. Our community with one another consists solely in what Christ has done to both of us.
and then adds,
And what Christ has done is anoint us with his Spirit. We are set apart for service to one another. We mediate to one another the mysteries of God. We represent to one another the address of God. We are priests who speak God's Word and share Christ's sacrifice.
The oil in this text represents the Holy Spirit and the dew is simply that, the fresh morning dew which is new every morning like His mercies. Peterson writes,
[In this we have] an ever-renewed expectation in what God is doing with our brothers and sisters in the faith. We refuse to label the others as one thing or another. We refuse to predict our brother's behavior, our sister's growth. Each person in the community is unique; each is specially loved and particularly led by the Spirit of God. How can I presume to make conclusions about anyone? How can I pretend to know your worth or your place?

[The people of God] are new persons each morning, endless in their possibilities. We explore the fascinating depths of their friendship, share the secrets of their quest. It is impossible to be bored in such a community, impossible to feel alienated among such people.

Oil and dew. The two things make life together delightful.

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"True knowledge of God is born out of obedience." - John Calvin

"Each act of obedience by the Christian is a modest proof, unequivocal for all its imperfection, of the reality of what he attests." - Karl Barth

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suffering and god's promises

In the Wounded Healer, Henri Nouwen writes:

Perhaps the main task of the minister is to prevent people from suffering for the wrong reasons. Many people suffer because of the false supposition on which they have based their lives. That supposition is that there should be no fear or loneliness, no confusion or doubt. But these sufferings can only be dealt with creatively when they are understood as wounds integral to our human condition. Therefore ministry is a very confronting service. It does not allow people to live with illusions of immortality and wholeness. It keeps reminding others that they are mortal and broken, but also that with the recognition of this condition, liberation starts.

This reminded me of the truth of God's promised suffering. Too often we "Christians" think God promises us only straight and smooth paths. So what is it that God has promised us? Here is John MacArthur's short list of five:

  1. It is God's will that we be saved. 2 Pet 3.9, "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise ... not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." And 1 Tim 2.3-4, "... God our Savior ... desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."
  2. It is God's will that we be Spirit-filled. Eph 5.17-18, "... do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. ... be filled with the Spirit."
  3. It is God's will that we be sanctified. 1 The 4.3, "For this is the will of God, your sanctification ..."
  4. It is God's will that we be submissive. 1 Pet 2.13-15, "Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people."
  5. It is God's will that we suffer. 1 Pet 4.19, "Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good." Phil 1.29, "For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake." And 2 Tim 3.12, "Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."
Do you have any to add?

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dead dear sex

"And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done." - The Apostle Paul, Romans 1.28
A 20-year-old man received probation after he was convicted of having sexual contact with a dead deer. The sentence also requires Bryan James Hathaway to be evaluated as a sex offender ...
Apparently this guy is a repeat offender.
He was found guilty in April 2005 of felony mistreatment of an animal after he killed a horse with the intention of having sex with it.
And in other news ...
Castration ring's key figures (master, lover, and slave) gain freedom when the six men castrated in a sadomasochistic dungeon fashioned from an enclosed carport all told prosecutors they saw no need for criminal charges.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

ends v. means

The first great fact which emerges from our civilization is that today everything has become “means.” There is no longer an “end”; we do not know whither we are going. We have forgotten our collective ends, and we possess great means: we set huge machines in motion in order to arrive nowhere. - French philosopher and theologian Jacques Ellul

Are you doing great work? Good. But to what end? Is God the initiator and finisher of all you are putting your hand to? If not, then your perceived success in not really so.

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polar bears have abortion rights?

The news about the baby polar bears abandoned in Berlin has caught my attention. The animal rights activists say, "If a polar bear mother rejected the baby, then I believe the zoo must follow the instincts of nature, [the cub] would have been left to die."

These guys are consistent with the abortion gang. The mom decides the fate of the baby. If the mother rejects the baby, kill it. I guess that's it, human mothers are just following the "instincts of nature" when they make the decision to keep or not keep their children.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

john piper is hearing voices

Piper is claiming God is speaking to him!

I love his attitude. God speaks and above all, through His Word, He speaks to all people all of the time.
The great need of our time is for people to experience the living reality of God by hearing his word personally and transformingly in Scripture. Something is incredibly wrong when the words we hear outside Scripture are more powerful and more affecting to us than the inspired word of God. Let us cry with the psalmist, “Incline my heart to your word” (Psalm 119:36). “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Psalm 119:18). Grant that the eyes of our hearts would be enlightened to know our hope and our inheritance and the love of Christ that passes knowledge and be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 1:18; 3:19). O God, don’t let us be so deaf to your word and so unaffected with its ineffable, evidential excellency that we celebrate lesser things as more thrilling...
This is opposed to those that say God speaks only through His Word or those that only get excited when God speaks outside of His Word. I love Piper's balance.

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charismatic? why not?

Robert Ivy summarizes his list of 14 reasons he is a charismatic. Then he asks, "are you a charismatic? Why not?" Drop by his site and let him know. I'd love to see the responses.

Me? To cessationism I "just say no".

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

calling all young calvinists

If you want what promises to be a good education on the condition referred to as "Calvinism", you'll want to tune into Phil Johnson's series over at Pulpit Magazine.

Here's the teaser ...
Simple Arminianism doesn’t fall in that category. It’s not fair to pin the label of rank heresy on Arminianism, the way some of my more zealous Calvinist brethren seem prone to do. I’m talking about historic, evangelical Arminianism, of the classic and Wesleyan varieties — Arminianism, not Pelagianism, or open theism, or whatever heresy Clark Pinnock has invented this week — but true evangelical Arminianism. Arminianism is certainly wrong; and I would argue that it’s inconsistent with itself. But in my judgment, standard, garden variety Arminianism is not so fatally wrong that we need to consign our Arminian brethren to the eternal flames or even automatically refuse them fellowship in our pastors’ fraternals.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

peterson on worship

"When they said, 'Let's go to the house of God,' my heart leaped for joy." - David, Psalm 122

Why did the heart of the psalmist leap for joy? Is it because from joy springs worship or is it the reverse? Eugene Peterson contends,
Worship is an act that develops feelings for God, not a feeling for God that is expressed in an act of worship. When we obey the command to praise God in worship, our deep, essential need to be in relationship with God is nurtured. ... Every time we worship our minds are informed, our memories refreshed with the judgments of God, we are familiarized with what God says, what he has decided, the ways he is working out our salvation.

Worship does not satisfy our hunger for God - it whets our appetite. Our need for God is not taken care of by engaging in worship - it deepens.
We come to God as an act of obedience. In doing so we meet with Him. The longing of our soul is pleased and yet the beauty of His presence only stirs a desire for more. This is true when we worship in spirit and in truth. Anything less leaves us longing for more but in a different way. This longing flows from emptiness rather than the longing that flows from having tasted His goodness in true worship. Come, let us taste and see that the Lord is good. He is great and worthy to be praised.

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bonhoeffer on providence

"But to deviate from the truth for the sake of some prospect of hope of our own can never be wise, however slight that deviation me be. It is not our judgement of the situation which can show us what is wise, but only the truth of the Word of God. Here alone lies the promise of God's faithfulness and help. It will always be true that the wisest course for the disciple is always to abide solely by the Word of God in all simplicity." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's Word contains Truth. We need add nothing to our security by inventing additional words of hope. We must access every situation in light of His Truth. We need never add our own inventions of comfort. In Him we will find all that we need.

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peterson on repentance

"Repentance is a realization that what God wants from you and what you want from God are not going to be achieved by doing the same old things, thinking the same old thoughts. Repentance is a decision to follow Jesus Christ and become His pilgrim in the path of peace. ... [Repentance] sets us on the way to traveling in the light. It is a rejection that is also an acceptance, a leaving that develops into an arriving, a no to the world that is a yes to God." - Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

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"Before a man can do things there must be things he will not do." - Mencius

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long obedience

I'm now reading Eugene Peterson's A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. I love this excerpt from his opening chapter on discipleship.
[Friedrich Nietzsche] wrote, "the essential think in heaven and earth is ... that there should be long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living." It is this long obedience in the same direction which the mood of the world does so much to discourage.

For recognizing and resisting the stream of the world's ways there are two biblical designations for people of faith that are extremely useful: disciple and pilgrim. Disciple says we are people who spend our lives apprenticed to our master, Jesus Christ. We are in a growing-learning relationship, always. A disciple is a learner, but not in the academic setting of a schoolroom, rather at the work site of a craftsman. We do not acquire information about God but skills in faith.

Pilgrim tells us we are people who spend our lives going someplace, going to God, and whose path for getting there is the way, Jesus Christ. We realize that "this world is not my home" and set out for "the Father's house." Abraham, who "went out," is our archetype. Jesus, answering Thomas's question "Master, we have no idea where you're going. How do you expect us to know the road?" gives us directions: "I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me" (Jn 14.5-6). The letter to the Hebrews defines our program: "Do you see what this means - these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running - and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in" (He 12.1-2).

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less than scripture

From fear of going beyond Scripture, many fall short of Scripture. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones warns
The second danger, then, is that of being satisfied with something very much less than what is offered in Scripture, and the danger of interpreting Scripture by our experience and reducing its teaching to the level of what we know and experience. ... In other words, certain people by nature are afraid of the supernatural, of the unusual, of disorder. You can become so afraid of disorder ... that you become guilty of what the Scripture calls "quenching the Spirit"; and there is no question in my mind that there is a great deal of this ... People are so afraid of what they call enthusiasm, and some are so afraid of fanaticism, that in order to avoid those they go right over to the other side without facing what is offered in the New Testament ... Compare, for instance, what you read about the life of the church at Corinth with typical church life today. "Ah but," you say, "they are guilty of excess in Corinth." I quite agree. But how many churches do you know at the present time to which it is necessary to write such a letter as the First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians? Do not put your emphasis entirely on the excesses. Paul corrects the excesses but see what he allows, what he expects ... Of course, it is always life that tends to lead to excess. There is no problem of discipline in a graveyard; there is no problem very much in a formal church. The problem arises when there is life.
In 1 Cor 14, Paul writes, "I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue. Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say you are out of your mind? But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, 'God is really among you!'"

So when was the last time a sinner was among you? When was the last time "everyone" was doing anything let alone prophesying? When was the last time a sinner fell down and began to worship God? Overall, it has been too long. We need Kingdom repentance both in our individual and our cooperate lives. We need a radical change in the way we do life - which includes the way we do church.

We need to stop compartmentalizing our lives and allow God to make a radical overhaul of all that we are. Lord let your Kingdom come!

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a quick prayer

Don Williams offers this brief prayer ... I pray it for myself and offer it for you as well ...
Lord Jesus,
give me the power to do your works
and the grace to experience your suffering.
However it may come,
hold me in the hour of trial
and show me Your compassionate face.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

calvin on calvinism

In Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin writes:
When we attribute foreknowledge to God, we mean that all things have ever been, and perpetually remain, before His eyes, so that to His knowledge nothing is future or past, but all things are present: and present in such a manner that He does not merely conceive of them from ideas formed in His mind, as things remembered by us appear present to our minds, but really beholds and sees them as if actually placed before Him. And this foreknowledge extends to the whole world and to all the creatures. Predestination we call the eternal decree of God, by which He hath determined in Himself what He would have to become of every individual of mankind. For they are not all created with a similar destiny; but eternal life is foreordained for some, and eternal damnation for others.
I can live with that ...

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where did etiquette go?

For those that know me, you may be surprised that I would care about etiquette. While it's true my behavior does not meet my desire, I believe that good manners matter.

My recent quote of St. Francis of Assisi caused me to think about advice I'd like to give my son. Here are some of my favorites quoted from

Always be polite
Even if you don't like someone, there is no need to lower yourself to their level. Be polite and courteous; show that you're the better man.

Do not curse
Swearing is a big no-no. It shows that you don't have the vocabulary to express your thoughts appropriately. Furthermore, it is always very crude and impolite to be vulgar.

Do not speak loudly
When you speak loudly, it raises the stress level among company. It always implies that you can't reason with people and rely on "brute force" to get your point across. It also draws attention -- negative attention.

Do not lose your temper
When you lose your temper, you are showing everyone that you can't control your emotions. If you can't even control yourself, then how can you possibly control anything else? Keep your cool at all times (it won't be easy but it is worth the effort) and people will take positive note of your levelheadedness.

Do not stare
Ogling someone is the equivalent of psychological aggression. You don't want to intimidate people for no reason.

Do not interrupt
Let people finish what they are saying before adding your comments. Interrupting others is a sign of poor etiquette and a lack of social skills. If you want to come across as egotistical, you can do so by constantly interrupting.

Do not spit
A lot of men do this almost subconsciously. Spitting is very crude and not too pretty to look at. Do not spit in public unless you want to look like you were raised in a sewer.

Respect your elders
In fact, you should respect others as you would like them to respect you. I am specifying elders because it seems that today, young men think they know it all. Well, they don't. Just think of yourself five years ago... you're much smarter and experienced today, aren't you? Of course, yet you thought you knew it all five years ago.

Do not laugh at others' mistakes
This is perhaps one of the cruelest things one can do. When you mess up, the last thing you want is for someone not only to bring it to your attention, but to ridicule you on top of that.

Remove your hat indoors
This rule seems to have gone out the window these days. You should remove your headwear upon entering a building. Furthermore, never keep your hat on while at the dinner table. It reflects very poor etiquette.

Wait for seating before eating
When sitting down for a meal, you should wait until all the guests are properly seated and ready to commence the meal before eating. Everyone should start dining at the same time; this is a subtle but very important rule.

Always open doors
This is perhaps the most basic rule of male etiquette out there. It is also one of the easiest to follow so you have no reason to forget it. Whether she is about to enter your car, restaurant, club, or anyplace with a door, you should always hold it open. If there are many doors, then hold them open one after the other.

Put on her coat
Always help a lady put on her coat or overgarment. This is a simple but powerful action.

Help with her seat
If an unaccompanied lady is sitting next to you, it is important that you help her be seated by pulling her chair out for her and gently pushing it back into place, with the lady seated of course.

Give up your seat
Classics are always fashionable. Some feminists would certainly have a fit, but most women will definitely value the gesture. If a lady arrives at the table and there are no available seats, you should stand up and offer yours to her.
Stand at attention
Always stand when a lady enters or exits the room. This rule has been somewhat relaxed, so you can stand upon entrance but remain seated upon exit. Nonetheless, if you can do both, you should.

Give her your arm
When escorting a lady (that you know) to and from social events, you should offer her your arm. This is a little more intimate, but serves well when walking on uneven ground -- especially if she's wearing high heels.

Ask if she needs anything
This is one that most guys already do, but helps complete the gentleman in all of us nevertheless. When at social events, make sure to ask the lady if you can get her something to drink (or eat, depending on the event). Show her that you care about her comfort and needs.

Don't flaunt your riches
Nobody likes a braggart. Keep your assets vague if you have to discuss financial matters. You can wear expensive things without blowing your own trumpet.
Never let others see you looking at your watch. When you're amid company, ask for the time or look at your watch only if you're ready to leave right that instant. When others notice you glancing at the time, it can be interpreted as boredom. Be inconspicuous.

Never groom yourself in public
This includes picking your nose, chewing your nails and picking your teeth. These areas should only be ventured in private. Committing these acts overtly is a colossal mark of a lack of class.

Be punctual
Perhaps the greatest sign of respect, which is what a gentleman is all about, is being on time. Having people wait for you is the equivalent of telling them that you don't care about them.

Shake hands firmly
Your handshake should mirror your personality. You want the other person to think of you as someone resolved, concrete and positive. But it shouldn't be a test of your strength; don't hurt them. Your grip should be the same for women.

Apply constant verbal grace
Use "excuse me" or "I beg your pardon" for all occasions. An extension of politeness, you should always use these expressions, whether it's to get someone to move out of your way, to apologize for your upcoming journey to the men's room, or simply to signal your interlocutors that you're about to start a sentence.

Tip well and discreetly
Only tip when it's called for, as opposed to those occasions when it's simply awkward (i.e. hospital nurses or business messenger). When you do tip, don't be cheap. Respect the 15% gratuity for restaurant tabs and nothing less than $10 for a significantly useful maitre d'.

Project high moral values
Even if you know that deep down you're not, appear as if you were virtuous. A real gentleman always comes out of everything smelling like a rose.

Look at your interlocutor
Your attention should always be focused on the person you are talking with. Always look at them when listening as well as when you are in control of the conversation. Again, it's a question of respect.

Remove the cigar from your lips if a lady passes by
This one is pure common sense. It's a security measure as well as an indicator of high regard.

Always carry a woman's packages
Let's face it; today's women would probably shoot you a puzzled fleeting look, so at least offer to do so. This lets her know you respect her and are courteous enough to inquire as to her comfort.

Don't "kiss and tell"
Discretion, honor and integrity are of paramount importance in developing and maintaining your reputation as a gentleman. Details of your love life should remain private. Similarly, if a colleague has too much to drink at a party, be discreet. Never break a confidence and don't participate in unkind gossip.

Be a gracious guest

Thank the host at a social or business function. At a company party, always seek out and thank the most senior management in attendance, plus your own boss and the party organizers.

Thank others
Send handwritten thank-you notes for any gifts you receive, whether they are from suppliers or clients, or even your great-aunt Martha. Thank your server at lunch, the doorman at your building and your colleague who brings in donuts. Recognizing other people's thoughtfulness demonstrates your good breeding.

Don't be politically incorrect
The difference between a gentleman and a boor is class. Show you have it. Avoid off-color jokes and gossip. A few cheap laughs at someone else's expense will tarnish your image, both socially and professionally.

Practice small talk
Whether you're at a wedding reception or business conference, how you make conversation will boost the impression of your refinement. Charming conversationalists mentally rehearse small talk on a variety of topics, avoiding religion, politics and sex. A gentleman listens attentively, making eye contact, showing interest and graciously drawing other people into a conversation.

Carry a handkerchief
Plan ahead. Have a clean handkerchief in your pocket, especially when you attend a funeral. It's also a great idea to have a hanky handy for a lady friend to dry raindrops or tears.

Share your umbrella
It's very gallant to offer your umbrella to a lady. On a chilly evening or if the air conditioning is high, your wife or date might appreciate the loan of your suit jacket and others will notice your thoughtfulness.

Cough thoughtfully
If you're overcome by a fit of coughing or sneezing, excuse yourself and leave the meeting or dinner table for a few minutes. Return quietly and apologize again as you take your seat.

Pay the bill discreetly
When you invite someone for lunch or dinner, accept the bill discreetly and without fanfare. When you're the guest, you may offer to pay your share or to buy the wine but it is ungentlemanly to argue about who will pay the tab.

Make introductions
Show your good manners when introducing people by telling them more than each other's names. "Hal, I'd like you to meet Phil Brown, he's a pilot with Delta. Phil, this is Hal Black. He recently returned from the Gulf with the military." Many people have difficulty remembering names, and will appreciate your thoughtful manners if you say "George, you remember Alan, don't you?"

Engage people
Be gracious. Make conversation with those on the sidelines, particularly at business functions. Your good breeding and kindness will be remembered. Invite people to become involved, whether it's in a group discussion at a conference, a baseball game at the company picnic or a conga line at a wedding reception.

Follow the host's lead
At a business dinner or dinner party, don't sit until your host does, and don't begin eating until they have lifted their fork. Wait to drink your wine until your host proposes a toast or takes a sip. Do not smoke until everyone has finished, and then only smoke if it is clearly permitted and once you have asked permission of your tablemates.

Never speak with food in your mouth
No one wants to see what you're chewing or listen to you talk with a mouthful of food. If you're asked something and your mouth is full, signal your apologies and, if your dining partners are refined, they will patiently wait until you're able to reply. Unless there's a valid reason to wolf down your food and bolt from the table, eat slowly and converse with your tablemates.

Don't reach across someone
When dining with others, don't reach over; politely ask someone to pass the bread. When they do, take the tray or basket and offer the passer a piece of bread before taking one. If the bread is in front of you, pass it to the person beside you and, if they are knowledgeable about good etiquette, they will offer it to you before taking their own.

Retrieve dropped items
When someone drops something, pick it up and hand it back, whether it's a glove, a file folder or a twenty-dollar bill. Make sure you bend at the knees, not from the waist.

Walk beside a lady on the stairs
Never walk behind a woman on the stairway, especially if she's wearing a miniskirt. Walk beside her or slightly ahead of her on the stairs. When exiting a subway station in a crush of people, a gentleman will avert his eyes from the thighs ahead of him. The same principle applies if you are walking on the streets; don't follow any woman you don't know too closely.

Walk on the outside of a sidewalk
This allows your lady to be farther from the traffic. This way, if someone is going to be splashed, it will be you, not her. I know, I know... but that's the price to pay if you want to be a gentleman.

Finally, while excessive chivalry is what drove Don Quixote to madness, good manners are never uninvited in this era of fast business and faster relationships. Remember that behaving like a gentleman brings out the lady in every woman.

These are the rules of etiquette you should observe in everyday life. Elevate yourself above the rabble and display the mannerisms of a true gentleman. The world will appreciate such a rarity and your career will most definitely benefit from your good manners and savoir-faire .

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faith and works

Posted by Jonathan Moorhead ... faith and works go hand-in-hand.

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how to stop sermons from being boring

Mark Barnes writes an excellent piece, How Can You Stop Sermons Being Boring?

The article not only focuses on preparing the sermon, but also how to listen to and respond to the sermon.

On Preparation
  • prepare prayerfully
  • prepare thoroughly
  • prepare expectantly
On Listening
  • listen worshipfully
  • listen attentively
  • listen critically
  • listen submissively
On Responding
  • respond thoughtfully
  • respond fully
In summary, "how do we stop sermons being boring? With a soul that is prepared, a mind that is alert, a Bible that is open, a heart that is receptive, and a life that is ready to spring into action."

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lockridge’s my king

S. M. Lockridge's My King with images. Feel free to stand up and cheer.

The Bible says my King is a seven-way king
He's the King of the Jews; that's a racial king
He's the King of Israel; that's a national King
He's the King of Righteousness
He's the King of the Ages
He's the King of Heaven
He's the King of Glory
He's the King of kings, and He's the Lord of lords. That's my King.
Well....I wonder, do you know Him?

David said, "The Heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork."
My King is a sovereign King.
No means of measure can define His limitless love.
No far seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of His shoreless supply.
No barrier can hinder Him from pouring out His blessings.
He's enduringly strong.
He's entirely sincere.
He's eternally steadfast.
He's immortally graceful.
He's imperially powerful.
He's impartially merciful.
Do you know Him?

He's the greatest phenomenon that has ever crossed the horizon of this world.
He's God's Son.
He's the sinner's Savior.
He's the centerpiece of civilization.
He stands in the solitude of Himself.
He's august and He's unique.
He's unparalleled.
He's unprecedented.
He is the loftiest idea in literature.
He's the highest personality in philosophy.
He is the supreme problem in higher criticism.
He's the fundamental doctrine of true theology.
He is the cardinal necessity for spiritual religion.
He's the miracle of the age.
He's -- yes He is -- He is the superlative of everything good that you choose to call Him.

He's the only one qualified to be an all sufficient Savior.
I wonder if you know Him today?
He supplies strength for the weak.
He's available for the tempted and the tried.
He sympathizes and He saves.
He strengthens and sustains.
He guards and He guides.
He heals the sick.
He cleansed the lepers.
He forgives sinners.
He discharges debtors.
He delivers the captives.
He defends the feeble.
He blesses the young.
He serves the unfortunate.
He regards the aged.
He rewards the diligent....and He beautifies the meek.
I wonder if you know Him?

Well, my King....He is the King!
He's the key to knowledge.
He's the wellspring of wisdom.
He's the doorway of deliverance.
He's the pathway of peace.
He's the roadway of righteousness.
He's the highway of holiness.
He's the gateway of glory.
Do you know Him?

Well, His office is manifold.
His promise is sure....and His light is matchless.
His goodness is limitless.
His mercy is everlasting.
His love never changes.
His word is enough.
His grace is sufficient.
His reign is righteous.
And His yoke is easy, and his burden is light.
I wish I could describe Him to you, but He's indescribable -- Yes He is!? He is God!
He's incomprehensible.
He's invincible.
He's irresistible.
Well, you can't get Him out of your mind.
You can't get Him off of your hand.
You can't out live Him, and you can't live without Him.

The Pharisees couldn't stand Him, but they found out they couldn't stop Him.
Pilate couldn't find any fault in Him.
The witnesses couldn't get their testimonies to agree.
Herod couldn't kill Him.
Death couldn't handle Him, and the grave couldn't hold Him.
Yea!!!, that's my King, that's my King.

Yes, and Thine is the Kingdom....and the Power....and the Glory....Forever....and ever, and ever, and ever -- How long is that? And ever, and ever.

And when you get through with all of the forevers, then. AMEN!
Good God Almighty! AMEN! AMEN!

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what is evangelism?

In Leading Your Church To Growth, C. P. Wagner said:
To evangelize is to present Christ Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit that men and women shall come to put their trust in God through Him, to accept Him as their Savior, and serve Him as their King in the fellowship of His church. This ties commitment to Christ with commitment to the church. God's will is clear... He wants men and women everywhere to come to Him and into the church of Jesus Christ.
I love this definition because in addition to noting the power of the Gospel to transfer us from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of Light, it highlights the point that this new Kingdom is one of community.

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what is spirituality?

In The New Super-Spirituality, Francis Schaeffer writes:
Christianity is not only intellectual, nor is it only your cultural responsibility. Christianity is being born again on the basis of the finished work of Christ, His substitutionary death in space-time history. Christianity is the reality of communion with God in the present life; it is the understanding that there is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; it is the understanding that there is the moment-by-moment empowering of the Holy Spirit. Christianity is the understanding that the fruit of the Spirit is "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meakness, temperance." It is the understanding that the fruit of the Spirit is meant to mean something real to all Christians. It is the understanding that prayer is real and not just a devotional exercise. (...) we must stress that Christ is Lord of the whole man, not just Lord of the soul. He is Lord of the intellect and Lord of the body. He means us to affirm life and not negate life. Such is the ideal. May God show us the living balance and help us to live, by his grace, in that balance.

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the weaver

20060523213240 Tapestry

My life is but a weaving between my Lord and me,
I cannot choose the colors He worketh steadily.

Oft times He weaveth sorrow, and I in foolish pride
forget He sees the upper but I the under side.

Not till the loom is silent and the shuttles cease to fly,
shall God unroll the canvas and explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needed in the Weaver's skillful hand,
as threads of gold and silver in the pattern life has planned.

Author Unknown (but seems to be Calvinist) ...

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keep a clear eye

In Letter to Rulers of People, Francis of Assisi wrote these words. May you benefit from them ... certainly every father should speak them to his son.

Keep a clear eye toward life’s end. Do not forget your purpose and destiny as God’s creatures. What you are in God’s sight is what you are and nothing more. Do not let worldly cares and anxieties or the pressures of office blot out the divine life within you or the voice of God’s Spirit guiding you in your great task of leading humanity to wholeness. If you open yourself to God and His plan printed deeply in your heart, God will open Himself to you.

Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received—fading symbols of honor, trappings of power—but only what you have given: a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.

Embrace the God of us all and God’s Word wherever it surfaces. Initiate God’s preference for the poor and the powerless. Enter into God’s plan of liberating all peoples from everything that oppresses them and obstructs their development as human beings. Do not grow tired of working for a peace among all people.

Help remove unjust structures and patterns of exploitation. Uphold the rights and dignity of the human person. Foster the creation of a society where human life is cherished and where all peoples of the planet can enjoy its gifts, which God created for all, in the spirit of love and justice and equality.

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form and freedom in church

Some dear friends of mine have prompted thinking regarding what church looks like. The Emergent Conversation has certainly challenged me with this but while I like some of the principles, I sense some abandonment of some truths that are not open for negotiation. So I eagerly await for my friends to share more to stir my thinking. In the meantime, I recall Francis Schaeffer's, Death In The City in which he outlines four key considerations needed if the Church is going to be what it should be.

  1. the difference between being a cobelligerent and an ally
  2. the preaching and practice of truth, even if at great cost
  3. the practice of the orthodoxy of community within true Christian groups and between true Christian groups
  4. the form and what freedom the Bible gives in regard to the church as the church — or we could speak of it as the boundary conditions set forth in the New Testament on the polity of the church
In Chapter 4, Form and Freedom in the Church ...
The church of Jesus Christ is, of course, first of all the church invisible. It is the body of believers united by faith in Christ in the full biblical sense, whether or not they are members of an external organization. It includes the church today at war in the present world and the church of the past whose members are already at peace. It is the church universal.
But we also learn through Scripture that the Church is to be visible - a paradox - both visible and invisible. On being visible ...
There is no biblical norm as to where, and where not, the church should meet. The central fact is that the early concept of the church had no connection with a church building. The church was something else: a group of Christians drawn together by the Holy Spirit in a place where they worked together in a certain form ... Individual churches were formed as people became Christians, and these were definite, specific entities.
This makes it hard for us to think about the practical outworking of what it is to be Church. Our building structure, or more precisely our love for certain structural types very often drive how we do Church. To help us, Schaeffer provides seven norms.

  1. there should be churches made up of Christians - I think this speaks for itself
  2. these congregations met together in a special way on the first day of the week. Though there are not many references, they do seem definite. Consider 1 Co 16:2 and Acts 20:7. Each first day of the week they met as a statement that “He is risen, He is risen indeed!” But let us notice that no specific time of the day is given as a norm. The day is set; the time of the day is left totally open.
  3. there are to be church officers (elders) who have responsibility for the local churches. Missionaries on missionary journeys produced not only individual Christians, but also churches with officers (Acts 14.23). There may be some "hierarchal" structure within that but there is clearly a norm of leadership by a plurality of elders (1 Tim 5.17). The best treatment I've read on this is Biblical Eldership by Alexander Strauch.
  4. there should be deacons responsible for the community of the church in the area of material things (Acts 6.1-6).
  5. the church is to take discipline seriously (1 Cor 5.1-5)
  6. there are specific qualifications for elders and deacons (1 Tim 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9)
  7. there is a place for form on a wider basis than the local church (Acts 15)
Aside from this, I see a lot of freedom regarding the details, e.g., how to work out the administration of the Lord's Supper, how collecting of money occurred, how they managed to have each person participate, etc.. There are important activities that should happen individually and corporately but I don't find Scripture prescriptive regarding the "how to".

With each abuse or abandonment of some principle, I find someone proposing great solutions but then I find that leading to abuse or abandonment of another principle to which someone proposes another solution and so on it goes. I believe searching for the right balance will continue until He returns. Until then, my aim is to not get angry at those that are missing the points I find important but rather to look at them and learn what I might be missing in my journey.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

irenaeus on signs and wonders

I'm always amazed at the gymnastics the cessationist crowd goes through to convince us that there is no historical evidence for signs and wonders since the Apostles.

Irenaeus in the last part of the second century ...
Others have foreknowledge of things to come: they see visions, and utter prophetic expressions. Others still, heal the sick by laying their hands upon them, and they are made whole. Yea, moreover, as I have said, the dead even have been raised up, and remained among us for many years. And what shall I more say? It is not possible to name the number of the gifts which the Church, [scattered] throughout the whole world, has received from God, in the name of Jesus Christ ... but, directing her prayers to the Lord, who made all things ... and calling upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, she has been accustomed to work miracles for the advantage of mankind,

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extending the kingdom

After describing what seems like the typical American church-goer, Don Williams tells us:
The Kingdom demands the opposite. It is not identified by sacred spaces, places, times or even special people. The Kingdom is on the move because God is making His enemies His friends, reclaiming His good creation, and bringing this occupied planet under His Lordship. Jesus, as we have seen, was committed to extending God's kingdom throughout the land. He proclaimed the Kingdom's presence, delivered the demonized, and healed the sick. This was God's reign in action, overcoming the other reign in the world that held people in bondage.
Jesus has set us free. While it is right to understand that as being freed from bondage to obvious sin, it is also freedom from religious bondage. In Col 2.13-15 we learn that while we were dead in our sins, He made us alive "canceling the written code with its regulations". In this He disarmed the "powers and authorities ... triumphing over them by the cross." And because of this great truth, we guard ourselves, not once again placing ourselves or others under legalistic religion and the "elemental spirits of the universe" (Gal 4.8-9).

Williams summarizes, "... Jesus is the Warrior King, bringing the Kingdom to us, He liberates us from Satan's kingdom and the idolatrous political, religious and legal structures that hold us in bondage. Jesus doesn't simply save souls. He creates a new order - a new community, a new Israel - where mercy and justice reign, and extends it into every area of society."

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acceptable worship

Brought to me by Randy "no blog" ...

The Bible on Acceptable Worship

"God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24).

Man must worship God. Worship is the expression of adoration, reverence and devotion. Worship may take numerous forms, but acceptable worship will take the forms prescribed by God. Jesus quoted Isaiah in Matthew 15:9, "But in vain do they worship me, teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men."

Acceptable worship, as it is described by Jesus' statement in John 4:24, must be in spirit and truth. The instruction that we should worship in spirit is instruction demanding our minds, our attention, to that which we do. No mechanical recitation of prayer, no thoughtless singing of spiritual songs, no inattentive eating of the elements of the Lord's Supper: but concentration on that assigned significance of the thing being done, understanding that prayer is made TO GOD, that songs are being sung to make melody WITH THE HEART, that the elements of the Supper are to bring to mind the death of the Son of God. Yes, worship must be in spirit.

According to John 4:24, worship must also be in truth. God has not left us to ad lib our adoration, reverence and devotion. He has told us what to do and how to do it. He has given instruction, for instance, regarding our worship in the Lord's Supper, as to when and how often (Acts 20:7). He has given instruction regarding our worship in song, in prayer, and in giving of our means. And those who worship in truth will obey Him.

It does not matter if "it seems good to me." God is Spirit, and only as He reveals Himself can we know what is good to Him.

- by Patrick Farish

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

worship defined

The worship blog brings us two excellent definitions for worship.

Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by his holiness; the nourishment of mind with his truth; the purifying of imagination by his beauty; the opening of the heart to his love; the surrender of will to his purpose--and all this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centeredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin.

--William Temple, Readings in St. John's Gospel, as quoted by Scotty Smith in The Reign of Grace

Worship is our response, both personal and corporate, to God, for who He is and what He has done, expressed in and by the things we say and the way we live.

--Louie Giglio, The Air I Breathe

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global warming - "unpredictable"

As a Christian I must insist that we be good stewards of God's creation. At the same time (possibly because I'm an American), I'm struggling getting behind the Global Warming group. I'm just not convinced.

“They were experiencing temperatures that weren’t expected with global warming. But one of the things we see with global warming is unpredictability.” -- Ann Atwood, organizer of the cancelled Bancroft-Arnesen expedition to traverse the Arctic.

Go figure ...

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intentional worship

Nothing fancy ... just a simple piece about our call to intentional worship that encouraged me this morning as I awoke in the foreign land - Germany - once again.
The Bible teaches that long before Adam walked on the earth God determined the times and exact places where you would live (Acts 17:26). The Bible teaches that you were knit together with a specific, “intricate” design while you were still in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:14-16). You were not thrown together by chance circumstance. Sure, most of us know we are MADE, or manufactured, by God but do we really believe we were DESIGNED by God---designed not only with physical DNA that dictates our personality, appearance and talents, but a spiritual DNA as well—one that consists not only of a unique, spiritual gifting but a God-ordained, God-planned orchestration of every circumstance that has ever occurred in your life as well? It’s true. God designed you. Through His sovereignty, God appointed you to be born where you were born, to live where you live, to look the way you look, to have the opportunities you have, to possess the talents and gifts you have…and to be lacking in those you don’t have. Furthermore, he planned from the beginning of time for you to be where you are RIGHT NOW. And He has a path for you to follow once you’re finished reading this sentence.
read more ...

That same blog then included this summary of Godon MacDonald's What is Worship article. The definition of worship is:
Worship is happening when a person or a people take time to reflect upon and honor the nature and the actions of God by offering him praise, thanksgiving, confession, offerings, and a submissive heart and mind. This can be done through the medium of song, silent meditation, speech, sacramental activity, and other forms of artistic expression. Preaching may be a part of these functions, but not necessarily the most important part.
MacDonald also lists a number of outcomes that should be evident where true worship has taken place:

  • Worship should draw a sharp contrast between the kingdom of this world and the Kingdom of Heaven.
  • Worship should focus on the living God and his revelation of himself as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • Worship should bring to our consciousness the acts and the character of God.
  • Worship should call the worshiper to repentance – a confession of sinfulness in contrast to God's righteousness and a resulting sense of forgiveness and restoration.
  • Worship should cause the worshiper to inventory his or her blessings in life and give thanks.
  • Worship should provide a chance for one to see his or her work in the perspective of the Kingdom and give from the profits of labor.
  • Worship should make the worshiper feel prayed for in terms of personal needs.
  • Worship should refine the perspective of people so they see and pray for world events in light of the Kingdom purposes of God.
  • Worship should offer encouragement and insight from the preached Word.
  • Worship should send people back into the "streets" of the world with a renewed sense of energy, confidence, and purpose.
Do you have any to add?

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Monday, March 12, 2007

release to the captives

Don Williams begins chapter 7, Release to the Captives, of Start Here with this quote from Father Francis MacNutt, "if you want to start a worldwide ministry, just heal a few people." The church today has lost the plot. I'm quite sure the fray between Evangelical, Emergent, Seeker, Charismatic, etc. would not exist if any of these had a real understanding and manifestation of the Kingdom of God. As I read each "side's" argument against the other I see truth because the truth is that many (too many) of us have simply fallen short of living life in the Kingdom. In the absence of that, we have created systems within our personal ability to attain to try to substitute. We create citadels of theology. We become social saviors of the world or even "go green". We reach out to everyone and anyone and "just love them as they are." So on and so forth. All of this seems right and motivated from a desire to live rightly but in the end it simply falls short.

Along the way we somehow lost the ability to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom and even to recognize the true fruit thereof. Irenaeus wrote in the second century:
Wherefore, also, those who are in truth, His [Jesus'] disciples, receiving grace from him, do in his name perform [miracles], so as to promote the welfare of other men, according to the gift that each one has received from him. For some do certainly and truly drive out devils, so that those who have thus been cleansed from evil spirits frequently both believe [in Christ], and join themselves to the church.
In a few weeks I lead our weekly outreach to serve some of the poor around us. It is right to do. I'll not not do it. But I will do it with a budget and some humble willing workers who genuinely care. But I wonder how many of us expect God to take that amount of purchased material and multiply it? How many of us expect that as we interact with someone in the community and someone receive a miraculous healing through prayer? How many of us anticipate encountering or even recognizing a demon and by the power of Jesus casting the thing out? Sure, we need not stop but we need in our own way we also have lost a bit of the plot. We have gotten into a routine and it doesn't look like the Kingdom Jesus proclaimed.

Williams again ...
In the first five chapters of Mark's Gospel, there are 22 references to Satan or demons. Jesus said that He had come to bind the strong man (Satan) and plunder his house (Mk 3.27). In Luke 11.20, Jesus says, "But if I drive our demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you." In Acts, Peter tells a Roman officer how "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him" (10.38). In Romans, Paul says, "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet" (16.20). John says, "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work" (1 Jn 3.8). This is the Kingdom come.
Williams then offers several practical steps to prepare for this battle. Unfortunately he did not go into detail but I think they are easily studied through Scripture.

  1. Arm for battle (Eph 6.10-17)
  2. Know the Word of God
  3. Be wise with your vulnerability to spiritual attack (i.e., take a moral inventory and confess known sins. Keep this confession current. 1 Jn 1.9)
  4. Build accountable relationships
  5. Renounce all idols
  6. Forgive all
  7. Pray for protection against the enemy (Eph 6.18-20)
  8. Pray for discernment of spirits (1 Co 12.10)
  9. Bind evil spirits
  10. Submit to spiritual authority
  11. Clean up (i.e., clean up your heart, your house and yourself)
  12. Seek help
He then emphasizes a keep point in addition to the list above - stay committed to community. A key aspect of the Kingdom of God is that is functions in community. Our call is not as lone rangers or individual stars.

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proclaim the kingdom

Don Williams continues to deliver in Start Here. The book has so far been excellent. It is a simple yet uncompromising guide to Kingdom essentials. But what has been excellent has just got many times more excellent (is that possible?). In his chapter Proclaim the kingdom of God, Williams tells us in no uncertain terms what the kingdom of God is.
[it] is to talk about the kingship of God. It is dynamic, all-embracing and on the move. God is the King and He has His palace and His throne room in heaven. He has His retainers, the angelic hosts. He has His subjects, the angels, humans and all other forms of life. He has His realm, the heavens and the earth. In His love, He gives us the freedom to choose for or against Him. In His justice, He judges us accordingly. Although we have chosen to revolt, He comes after us to rescue us, forgive us and restore us to Himself. One day, His perfect reign will be manifest throughout His transformed creation. On that day, the redeemed will worship and serve Him out of cleansed and glad hearts. For now, His rule - His kingdom - has broken in on us and is advancing throughout the earth.

The presence of the Kingdom is good news because it means that God's presence has returned and that Satan's kingdom is under siege. Sins are forgiven, the sick are healed, the demonized are delivered, the exiles come home, and the age to come is upon us.
This is not "soft". This is not just some decision we make. This is not just about acts of kindness. This not about trying to live right. This is not about God just loves and loves us. Etc. Sure, it includes that but it is beyond that. It is reversing our service to the king of darkness and serving the King of Light!

People have asked me why I seem so hard on the Kingdom Experiment. The reason is not so much due to some error I have found (to be clear there has been some - not just a "style" difference) but more because it falls far short of communicating the full truth of the Kingdom of God. This is not something that can, should, or needs to be "dumbed down". Unfortunately so many churches across the globe do exactly that. It is far to common. It cannot be possible that they grasp the Kingdom and still do that. It is time that the ambassadors of the King get out into the world and start demonstrating and proclaiming the Kingdom as Jesus commanded.
In true Kingdom preaching, the imperative always follows the indicative. So Jesus also told people what they must do to receive the Kingdom: "Repent and believe the good news." To "repent" implies as change in course. We have gone away from God and so now we must reverse course and turn toward Him. Repentance also involves surrender and sorrow for our sins. But there is more. ... to "repent" means to surrender ones agenda for Jesus' agenda. It means to take on His Kingdom message and ministry.
Jesus showed the way in Luke, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.

We must repent by adopting Jesus' agenda for ministry as our own. I have to say, sadly myself included, that there are too many looking like what Scripture describes.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

forgiveness in the kingdom

Peter Edwards spoke today regarding the relationship of forgiveness in the Kingdom of God. He served up some good points around forgiveness and how critical forgiveness is in the life of the believer (1 Jn 1.9). Unfortunately I think he confused it a bit in regard to the nature of the Kingdom.

Specifically he noted that the "repent" in Jesus', "Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand" was about receiving forgiveness. Among other things, I understand atonement and forgiveness of sins to be part of this but I see these as only part of the total concept of "repentance". Repentance is calling us to turn our whole former way of thinking upside down.

I am especially convinced of this by one of the proof texts that Edwards offered. We read in Acts 26 that Jesus sent out the disciples "to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me." Edwards honed in on the forgiveness aspect which is no doubt glorious but I would say that that simply flowed from the primary point which is that the people needed to have their spiritual eyes opened. This comes as they are born again by the power of the Holy Spirit. They see the Kingdom as they are redeemed from the grip of the Enemy and become citizens of the Kingdom of God.

Another interesting text chosen by Edwards I think continues to support the point. In the parable of the Unforgiving Servant, even though the servant was forgiven much, he didn't fundamentally change. He was still able to hold his fellow servant accountable for a much smaller debt and for this, he was severely punished by the master. I've heard many good explanations regarding what was wrong with this fellow's mindset, e.g., he didn't grasp that he was really forgiven, he thought he would have to pay back later, etc.. All interesting but the bottom line is that he did not have a change of world view regarding the working of the Kingdom. He did not repent - and he suffered for it.

So as I reflect on Edwards' message, clearly we need to receive forgiveness and just as freely give forgiveness. The point I would have driven harder would be the total reversal that the Kingdom of God requires and how it's only by the power of the Spirit that we can see this. And if we do, we can do nothing other than receive and give forgiveness.

Edwards either missed that or softened it too much. He used phrases like "I don't like this one" referring to the command to forgive and "use the replacement principle" (rather than think X I want to think Y about a person who might have sinned against you). While it's true that we may have a feeling of not liking a command, that is not something to celebrate but rather something that should strike us as grievous. It would seem to be opportunity to hit again on our utter dependency of the power of the Holy Spirit to transform us through the Word.

Regarding the replacement principle, that may be ok in the same sense that anger management is ok but the need of it only pinpoints a fundamental change that has yet to take place.

I think a sermon on this topic should have hammered home the basic principle rather than spending time on some of the "band aids" available. The Kingdom of God is here. Repent.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

has cessationism ceased?

If you think Cessationism has come to an end, Nathan Busenitz invites you to provide a Biblical reason. Careful, Busenitz strikes me as a good man. He knows his Bible well and reasons from a heart of compassion and respect ... and he is a Cessationist.

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bono for president

Perhaps Phillips would prefer Bono over Huckabee.

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liberal v. conservative

The evangelical outpost brings us this quote often attributed to Winston Churchill.
Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has no heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains.
The post goes on to explain the real origin of the quote but I like it as is.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

piper writes of his father's death

John Piper's father, Dr. William Piper, died yesterday. Here are the words of a son in his father's last moments ... very moving.

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wrongful birth

What is the world coming to? Jennifer Raper has filed a lawsuit against two doctors because she gave birth after a failed abortion. She is seeking damages, including child-rearing costs.

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following christ

Belonging to Jesus means attaching ourselves exclusively to Him. This is real faith and is accomplished by His grace alone. But to belong to Jesus also means to embrace His agenda. He is going fishing for people and wants to take us with Him as agents and instruments of His Kingdom. We are out to ransack the kingdom of Satan and extend the kingdom of God. Everything the Father has for the Son is ours as joint-heirs with Christ. We are seated with Him in heavenly places, and when He returns, we will be glorified with Him. - Don Williams (Ro 8.17; Eph 2.6; 1The 4.16-17; and 2 Cor 3.18)

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

free will and prayer

A good friend of mine recently posted on the difference prayer can make by quoting Andrew Murray from With Christ in the School of Prayer. To the claim that prayer makes a difference I say amen! But I think the quote oversteps Scripture.

The quote begins in error. "People think that what God wills must inevitably take place. This is by no means the case." Without getting into the "wills of God" discussion, Nebuchadnezzer would disagree. In Dan 4.34-35 we find, "... he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth ..." Paul would also disagree. In Rom 11.33-36, "... from him and through him and to him are all things ..."

R.C. Sprouls articulates the truth of God's sovereignty in Essential Truths of the Christian Faith,
What God creates, He also sustains. The universe is not only dependent upon God for its origin, it depends upon God for its continuity of existence. The universe can neither exist nor operate by its own power. God upholds all things by His power. It is in Him that we live, and move, and have our being.

The central point of the doctrine of providence is the stress on God’s government of the universe. He rules His creation with absolute sovereignty and authority. He governs everything that comes to pass, from the greatest to the least. Nothing ever happens beyond the scope of His sovereign providential government. He makes the rain to fall and the sun to shine. He raises up kingdoms and brings them down. He numbers the hairs on our head and the days of our life.

There is a crucial difference between the providence of God and fortune, fate, or luck. The key to this difference is found in the personal character of God. Fortune is blind while God is all-seeing. Fate is impersonal while God is a Father. Luck is dumb while God can speak. There are no blind, impersonal forces at work in human history. All is brought to pass by the invisible hand of Providence.
Murray continues, "God wills a great deal of blessing to His people which never comes to them. He wills it most earnestly, but they do not will it. Hence, it cannot come to them. This is the great mystery of man's creation with a free will and the renewal of his will in redemption. God has made the execution of His will dependent on the will of man."

He is heading down the "free will" path. I'll let Wayne Grudem respond.
... when we ask whether we have “free will,” it is important to be clear as to what is meant by the phrase. Scripture nowhere says that we are “free” in the sense of being outside of God’s control or of being able to make decisions that are not caused by anything. (This is the sense in which many people seem to assume we must be free) Nor does it say we are “free” in the sense of being able to do right on our own apart from God’s power. But we are nonetheless free in the greatest sense that any creature of God could be free—we make willing choices, choices that have real effects. We are aware of no restraints on our will from God when we make decisions. We must insist that we have the power of willing choice; otherwise we will fall into the error of fatalism or determinism and thus conclude that our choices do not matter, or that we cannot really make willing choices. On the other hand, the kind of freedom that is demanded by those who deny God’s providential control of all things, a freedom to be outside of God’s sustaining and controlling activity, would be impossible if Jesus Christ is indeed “continually carrying along things by his word of power” (Heb. 1:3, author’s translation). If this is true, then to be outside of that providential control would simply be not to exist! An absolute “freedom,” totally free of God’s control, is simply not possible in a world providentially sustained and directed by God himself.
So Murray is correct when saying, "Once God reveals to a soul what He is willing to do for it, the responsibility for the execution of that will rests with us." But the desire and ultimately the ability to execute comes from God. The reason prayer works is because God initiates it. Everything that happens is subordinate to His sovereignty.

The intent to encourage prayer is correct but some of the verbiage runs against Scripture. The closing paragraph of this quote is
In the same way, the very nature of God is to love and to bless. His love longs to come down to us with its quickening and refreshing streams. But He has left it to prayer to say where the blessing is channeled. He has committed it to His believing people to bring the living water to the desert places. The will of God to bless is dependent on the will of man to say where the blessing goes.
Murray would have done well to exclude the last sentence. God's blessings flow to the just and the unjust. He takes action when there is prayer and when there is not prayer.

My bottom line on Murrray, we have reason enough to pray, we need not add to Scripture to motivate.

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