Saturday, January 31, 2009


I got issue.30 from theooze today. As always, I found it challenging ... both from a positive and a negative perspective.

Brittian Bullock wrote the article Church as Art. Church as Community. Church as Transformation. I liked her start with this point.

"Church" is a loaded, difficult word for me and many others. But actually it's become easier as I've started to think of it by using metaphors instead of hard and fast meanings.

Just this morning I was in conversation with some friends regarding what it really means to be in community with other believers. How does that really play out on a day-in day-out basis? Certainly the answer isn't what we find in most organizations labelled "church".

Unfortunately Bullock quickly lost me with her expansion of "Church as Art." She quotes several shaky sources for inspiration.

Why indeed must 'God' be a noun? Why not a verb…the most active and dynamic of all? …It is the creative potential itself in human beings that is the image of God… - Mary Daly (theologian)

Why should we all use our creative power….? Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money. - Brenda Ueland

It is the task of art to undo the work of our vanity, our passions, our spirit of imitation, our abstract intelligence, our habits…making us travel back in the direction from which we have come to the depths where what has really existed lies unknown within us… - Marcel Proust

My advice, turn and run, do not walk. At best, this is just weird. I do not recommend reading further.

Conversely, Jenny Rae Armstrong wrote a wonderful short story about suffering and blessing.

... pain is not something to be avoided. That suffering and blessing more often than not come wrapped in the same package. That sometimes, it's enough to be loved by a heartbroken God who came to claim and redeem us for a greater purpose.

Raffi Shahinian also wrote a great peace entitled, The Bible Illuminated: Blasphemy or Beauty? In it he writes (emphasis mine):

There's been a lot of negative commentary on "Illuminated" [re: Bible Illuminated: The Book: New Testament] in the blogosphere. As for me, I'd have to agree with Bishop Wright (I know...big surprise). If it helps get the message out, I'm for it.

The only question for me is what message is being gotten out?

One snippet from the book's website caught my attention: " is aimed to be less intimidating than traditional bibles."

Less intimidating. I think the gospel has already become so un-intimidating in modern Western culture that I'm not quite sure how much more fluffy it can get before it can officially be labeled a "fairy tale." The Bible should be intimidating. It should be life-altering.

Having said that, I like the globality of the pictures (is that a word?). I like the fact that it associates the gospel with all facets of life. I like the connection between Scripture and modern images, allowing for the reader to make a mental nexus between those 2,000 year-old words and images from today. That's a good nexus to make, if you ask me.

Bottom line, then...It's a pretty cool book to have on your coffee table, but I wouldn't hand it to a new believer or a seeker.

Or maybe I would.

the true message

Jesus’s teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did. ~ Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God


Friday, January 30, 2009

the gospel

One of the signs that you may not grasp the unique, radical nature of the gospel is that you are certain that you do. ~ Tim Keller


Geoff Matheson pointed me to this post by Mark Sayers.

Sayers states:
Many Christians, particularly young adults find themselves struggling with an identity crisis when it comes to their faith. This is one of the main reasons so many young adults are leaving faith in the West. Being a Christian who is serious about faith carries no social currency in our culture, in fact it is likely to harm your social standing. To be a Christian who is open about your faith requires quite a bit of strength of character. So when many young adults hear about the idea of incarnational mission, without realizing it they see it as a way of resolving the social isolation they feel as a follower of Christ. The incarnational approach then becomes an excuse or an escape clause in which we can limit the differences between us and those who would not classify themselves as followers of Christ in order to lessen the strain on our social standing. Sadly, often in the process the idea of holiness gets dumped and the missional purpose of the incarnational approach gets neutered.

He also quotes Erika Haub from here.

I think if there were one thing I would want us to remember today as we consider all things missional, it would be that as we talk about incarnational living and incarnational ministries and being incarnational wherever we live, we are talking about a way of life that leads to the cross. It did for Jesus, and if I read Philippians correctly, it should for us as well.

40 year wish list

Oh nooooo ... where's the "change"?

  • $1 billion for Amtrak, the federal railroad that hasn't turned a profit in 40 years
  • $2 billion for child-care subsidies
  • $50 million for that great engine of job creation, the National Endowment for the Arts
  • $400 million for global-warming research
  • $2.4 billion for carbon-capture demonstration projects
  • $650 million on top of the billions already doled out to pay for digital TV conversion coupons
  • $54 billion will go to federal programs that the Office of Management and Budget or the Government Accountability Office have already criticized as "ineffective" or unable to pass basic financial audits
Full story

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arminians v calvinists

As with many topics, I am amazed and the violence Christians do to each other over a number of topics. As a staunch Calvinist, I see far too many like-minded believers spewing brutal messages toward our Arminian brothers (and of course I have also seen the reverse). Therefore I found it refreshing that Michael Patton began his series of posts on this topic by noting what we have in common. Well done.

Both Calvinists and Arminians believe that people are born sinful. Both agree that all people are born with an inherent disposition of antagonism toward God. Both Calvinists and Arminians reject what is know as “Pelagianism.” Pelagius, a fifth-century British monk, taught that people are born neutral, neither good nor bad. Pelagius believed that people sin as a result of example, not nature. Augustine, the primary opponent of Pelagius, responded by teaching that people are not born neutral, but with a corrupted nature. People sin because it is in their nature to sin; they are predisposed, bent, or inclined to sin from birth. Both Calvinists and Arminians agree with Augustine believing the Scriptures to teach that people are born with a totally corrupt spiritual nature, making their disposition toward God perpetually antagonistic. Therefore, according to both sides, people are absolutely helpless without God’s gracious, undeserved intervention. This is an important mischaracterization of Arminian theology that adherents to my position fail to realize. Arminians believe in the doctrine of total depravity just as strongly as Calvinists.

This adherence to total depravity makes the Arminian doctrine of Prevenient grace necessary. A former Wesleyan theology professor of mine who believed in Prevenient grace once called it the “ingenious doctrine.” Why? Because according to Arminians it allows them to hold to the biblical and orthodox position of total depravity, yet also allows true free will. You see, according to Calvinists such as myself, if people are in such desperate condition, being inclined toward enmity with God from birth, and unable to change their condition on their own (as a leopard cannot change its spots - Jer. 13:23), having no freedom to choose against this depraved nature, then the only way to answer the question, How is anyone saved? is to answer that the sovereign will of God saves them. In other words, if our will could not change our disposition, then God must have changed our will for us. Up to this point, both Calvinists and Arminians could agree.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

prophetic v practical

I love this post by Phil Cooke, The Prophetic Versus The Practical: What People Want Or What They Need? In it he asks, "Are preaching a message based on the Bible's intentions or the audience's aspirations?"

In Churches/Communities/"Conversations" across the world today I see three extremes at play:
  • those offering prosperity
  • those offering psychological advice
  • those offering a social gospel (they call it "love")
All of these capture some element of truth but are really perversions of the Truth in that they miss the fullness of His character. In the end, the Gospel is an offense to the fallen mind. To ultimately be effective, at some point it is required to offend leading to repentance or further rebellion.

Dorothy Sayers in Letters to the Diminished Church writes:

First, I believe it to be a grave mistake to present Christianity as something charming with no offense to it. Seeing that Christ went about the world giving the most violent offense to all kinds of people, it would seem absurd to expect that the doctrine of his person can be so presented as to offend nobody. We cannot blink at the fact that gentle Jesus, meek and mild, was so stiff in his opinions and so inflammatory in his language that he was thrown out of church, stoned, hunted from place to place, and finally gibbeted as a firebrand and a public danger.


Ok, yes, I cried ...

Thanks Virgil ...

wmd and warming

And people think I'm pig-headed because I haven't conceded on WMD's in Iraq ...

Former Vice President Al Gore told lawmakers Wednesday morning that the earth is in “grave danger” and that the nation must break its dependence on oil.

The full story here ...

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Here's Mark Driscoll on ABCNews.

Among many things, "The secret of the Bible is Jesus!" and "If you are not a Christian, you do not have eternal life." I love that stuff.

Driscoll is saying a lot of things the Church needs to hear. In the video I heard a critic say, "He's pornifying the Church ..." I have some internet friends sharing that opinion. Frankly I'm not sure. I think he could exercise more discretion and I can think of better things for a large gathering of believers to discuss rather than anal sex. But I'm not offended. I don't find him to be evil because of that. And I don't see that as destructive to the Church. He is taking a stand that others should emulate and he is creating an environment where people feel open to discuss what was artificially taboo.

Separately there is some noise about him being a "new Calvinist" and that this is a bad thing. I don't know what a new Calvinist is. I don't know if it's a bad thing. And I don't know if he is one of them.

What I do know is that He boldly proclaimed the name of Jesus alone as Lord and Savior. To that I say God bless him.

missional bob

I had no idea what to title this. Since it is from Bob and it is about being missional (today's new word for outward focus), Missional Bob is what popped into my mind.

In Bob's post, he references Alan Hirsch's statement:

In a remark ascribed to Gordon Cosby, the pioneering leader of that remarkable community, Church of the Savior in Washington. DC, he noted that in over 60 years of significant ministry, he had observed that no groups that came together around a non-missional purpose (i.e. prayer, worship, study, etc.) ever ended up becoming missional.

I couldn't agree more! Other than not knowing to use the word missional, my 30 years of Kingdom work aligns with the above.

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more love v. hate

This cartoon from Nakedpaster goes with this post.


Monday, January 26, 2009

characteristics of a good sgl

From Matt Dabbs, Five Characteristics of a Good Small Group Leader.

  • They know the purposes of the group and continually model and teach the group to carry out those purposes. Small group leaders are volunteers and they, like the rest of us, often have a time crunch that keeps them from doing a whole lot more than showing up and teaching the lesson. It is important for them to know the main purposes of the group (often incapsulated in acronyms like LIFE). If they cannot rattle off those purposes at a moment’s notice then chances are that group is doing little more than Bible study and fellowship. This is actually as much the responsibility of the small group ministry leader that their leaders know the purposes of the group. If this is not clearly communicated from the top down, given to the leaders in a memorable way, and followed through to make sure leaders are on the same page as the overall ministry.
  • They keep things in the group. Confidentiality is key to group intimacy. If people feel like others will go and blab to others everything they share in the group then the conversation and discussion will be on the surface and the relationships in the group will suffer/spiritual formation will be disconnected. A good leader will remind the group from time to time that what is said in the group stays there unless permission is given otherwise. The leader has to model this themselves.
  • They make the lesson their own. It is easy to read through a lesson and hit all the points and ask all the questions. It is quite another to study it at least a few days in advance, adapt it, tweak it, make it fit your group and make it the leader’s own. Small group curriculum are guides and will not fit all groups equally. A good leader will know how to take a lesson and make it fit their group by removing parts of the content and replacing it with something more relevant. This is hard to do if you don’t look at the lesson until Sunday afternoon.
  • They delegate responsibility. Often it is easier to just do everything yourself. In doing so you shortcircuit the spiritual growth of your group members. Growth comes with responsibility. If people think their only responsibility is to show up, they may not even do that. If the leader gives them responsibility in the group members will be more likely to show up. A good group leader will have high expectations of their group members, communicate those expectations on a regular basis, and follow up with accountability to make sure things are on track. This even includes letting others teach from time to time.
  • They are facilitators. It is easy and safe to lecture. It takes a real skill to facilitate a discussion. A good small group leader knows how to harness the knowledge of the class and allow it to carry the majority of the load of the lesson. The finished product looks like it took little time to prepare for because it flows so naturally yet it can actually take longer and more skill to teach a class like this. Good curriculum certainly gives you a jump start but is not enough (as seen in #3 above).

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

more on paying pastors

Simon J. Kistemaker, who served for many years as professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, states:

In his [Paul] letters he discloses that he worked night and day with his own hands to support himself, so that no one would ever be able to accuse him of depending on the hearers of the Gospel for his material needs (compare 1 Samuel 12:3). He refused to be a burden to anyone in the churches he established. By performing manual labor, he provided for his financial needs. Paul received gifts from the believers in Philippi, as he himself reveals (Philippians 2:25; 4:16-18), yet he declares that he did not solicit those gifts... The Ephesian elders had observed Paul's ministry and physical work during his three-year stay. They were able to testify that he had never exploited anyone (2 Corinthians 7:2), but had always set an example of diligence and self-sufficiency, in the good sense of the word. He was a model to the believers and taught the rule: "If you will not work, you shall not eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10)... It appears that Paul generated sufficient income to support not only himself but even his companions... In every respect, says Paul to the elders of Ephesus, I taught you to work hard and with your earnings to help the weak... He exhorts them to follow his example and to labor hard (New Testament Commentary: Acts [Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1990] pp. 737,740).

Commenting on Acts 20:33-35, Roland Allen, author of the classic work, Missionary Methods: St. Paul's or Ours? (Grand Rapids: Wm.B. Eerdmans, 1962), notes:

When I wrote this book I had not observed that in addressing the elders of Ephesus, St. Paul definitely directs them to follow his example and to support themselves (Acts 20:34-35). The right to support is always referred to wandering evangelists and prophets, not to settled local clergy (see Matthew 10:10; Luke 10:7; 1 Corinthians 9:1-14) with the doubtful exceptions of Galatians 6:6 and 1 Timothy 5:17-18, and even if those passages do refer to money gifts, they certainly do not contemplate fixed salaries which were an abomination in the eyes of the early Christians (p.50).

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Gerry Breshears writes:

First, propitiation is not something we do to appease God, but rather something God id for us. Second, God is not petulant and evil but loving and good. Third, God's anger is not capricious but righteous. Fourth, in propitiation God is not demanding something from us but giving himself to us. Fifth, once we have received Jesus, the wrath of God is removed forever so that unlike the other religions and spiritualities, we no longer need to live under the fear of condemnation or do anything else to make God at peace with us.

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love and hate

Too many make a false-dichotomy of God's love and His hate.

John Calvin wrote:

For this reason Paul says, that God “has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world,” (Eph. 1:3, 4). These things are clear and conformable to Scripture, and admirably reconcile the passages in which it is said, that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,” (John 3:16); and yet that it was “when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,” (Rom. 5:10). But to give additional assurance to those who require the authority of the ancient Church, I will quote a passage of Augustine to the same effect: “Incomprehensible and immutable is the love of God. For it was not after we were reconciled to him by the blood of his Son that he began to love us, but he loved us before the foundation of the world, that with his only begotten Son we too might be sons of God before we were any thing at all. Our being reconciled by the death of Christ must not be understood as if the Son reconciled us, in order that the Father, then hating, might begin to love us, but that we were reconciled to him already, loving, though at enmity with us because of sin. To the truth of both propositions we have the attestation of the Apostle, ‘God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,’ (Rom. 5:8). Therefore he had this love towards us even when, exercising enmity towards him, we were the workers of iniquity. Accordingly in a manner wondrous and divine, he loved even when he hated us. For he hated us when we were such as he had not made us, and yet because our iniquity had not destroyed his work in every respect, he knew in regard to each one of us, both to hate what we had made, and love what he had made.” Such are the words of Augustine (Tract in Jo. 110).

God's love is true (and amazing!) but today over emphasized by those who focus on man's brokenness over his rebellion. To fully return to the Father we must realize both. Perhaps it is in reaction to an over-emphasis of God's judgement but as I listen to and read many today they seem to be in denial of God's wrath toward evil-doers (Psa 5.5; 11.4-5; Hos 9.15; Mal 1.2-3; Rom 9.13; Jn 3.36; Eph 5.6; Col 3.6; 1 Thess 1.9-10).

I even have friends estranged enough from God to see two different God's; the harsh, judgmental God of the O.T. and the kind, forgiving God of the N.T.. Some further pervert this by thinking of the Father as the judge and the Son as the lover (contrary to Rev 6.16-17).

It is precisely because God is love that He must hate evil and all who do evil! God gets angry at evil-doers (Lev 26.27-30; Num 11.1; Deut 29.24), even to the point of being sorry He made man (Gen 6.5-6) and hides Himself from us (Isa 59.2).

Now don't hear me saying God is a God of hate. He is somehow able to do what we cannot, that is He can love those He hates. So much so that He can sacrifice His own life for us (Ro 5.9) to deliver us from His very own wrath (1 Thess 1.9-10).

What I'm trying to say is that far too many have their personal definition of love and then try to ascribe that definition to God as if that is His only characteristic. The word love as such is only a word and this powerful word needs to be redeemed by returning to Scripture to be properly understood and embraced. In the light of God's truth His love becomes all the more beautiful when seen in contrast and harmony with His anger and wrath toward those who rebel against Him.

I prefer His version over the watered down definition I so often see today.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

paying pastors

On Acts 20:33-35; F.F. Bruce - (The New International Commentary on the New Testament: Acts [Grand Rapids: Wm.B. Eerdmans, 1986] p.418)

Returning once more to the example which he had set them, he reminds them finally that those who take care of the people of God must do so without thought of material reward. As Samuel called all Israel to witness when he was about to lay down his office as judge (1 Samuel 12:3), so Paul calls the Ephesian elders to witness that all the time he spent with them he coveted nothing that was not his; on the contrary, he did not even avail himself of his right to be maintained by those whose spiritual welfare he cared, but earned his living--and that of his colleagues--by his own labors: "these hands," he said (inevitably with the attendant gesticulation), "ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me" (v.34). Let those to whom he was speaking likewise labor and thus support not only themselves but others as well-- the sick in particular.

And Carl B. Hoch, Jr., professor of New Testament at Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary (All Things New [Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1995] p.240).

In New Testament days, leaders were normally not paid. That is, money was given more as a gift than as an income or a salary. Leaders like Paul could receive money, but Paul chose not to receive any from the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 9:8-12). He wanted to serve without depending on any church for financial support. Churches had a responsibility to "reward the ox" (1 Timothy 5:17) and to share with those who taught (Galatians 6:6). But money was never to be the driving force of ministry (1 Peter 5:2). Unfortunately, churches today will not call a man until they feel they can support him, and some men will not seriously consider a call if the financial package is "inadequate".

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

bush top ten

abortion and slavery

This from John Piper is timely given the celebration of our first black, pro-abortion president.

On January 12, 2009 Samantha Heiges, age 23, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for drowning her newborn in Burnsville, Minnesota. If she had arranged for a doctor to kill the child a few weeks earlier she would be a free woman.

What are the differences between this child before and after birth that would justify it's protection just after birth but not just before? There are none. This is why Abraham Lincoln's reasoning about slavery is relevant in ways he could not foresee. He wrote:

You say A. is white, and B. is black. It is color, then; the lighter, having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with a fairer skin than your own.

You do not mean color exactly? You mean the whites are intellectually the superiors of the blacks, and, therefore have the right to enslave them? Take care again. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with an intellect superior to your own.

But, say you, it is a question of interest; and, if you can make it your interest; you have the right to enslave another. Very well. And if he can make it his interest, he has the right to enslave you. ("Fragments: On Slavery")

There are no morally relevant differences between white and black or between child-in-the-womb and child-outside-the-womb that would give a right to either to enslave or kill the other.

transforming evil

God did not abolish the fact of evil: He transformed it. He did not stop the Crucifixion: He rose from the dead. ~ Dorothy Sayers, Letters to a Diminished Church


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

inaugural warming

Matt Dabbs isn't swallowing the global warming pill ... here's his summary of past inaugurations. He is clearly failing to overlook the facts.

1937 - FDR (can’t find the temp but it was the rainiest inauguration of all time > 33 degrees) - warmer
1941 - FDR (29 degrees) - warmer
1945 - FDR (35 degrees) - warmer
1949 - Truman (38 degrees) - warmer
1953 - Eisenhower (49 degrees) - warmer
1957 - Eisenhower (44 degrees) - warmer
1961 - Kennedy (22 degrees) - colder
1965 - LBJ (38 degrees) - warmer
1969 - Nixon (35 degrees) - warmer
1973 -Nixon (42 degrees) - warmer
1977 - Carter (28 degrees) - same
1981 - Reagan (50 degrees) - warmer
1985 - Reagan (7 degrees) - colder
1989 - Bush (50 degrees) - warmer
1993 - Clinton (40 degrees) - warmer
1997 - Clinton (34 degrees) - warmer
2001 - Bush (55 degrees) - warmer
2005 - Bush (35 degrees) - warmer
2009 - Obama (29 degrees)

18 inaugurations:
15 warmer
2 colder
1 the same

whose will is it?

Coincidental with my last post, I read this great short piece at Symphony of Scripture.

How Does the Will Function in Salvation? - R.C. Sproul

A necessary condition for justification is faith. Right? And faith involves an active embracing, and trusting in Christ-and in Christ alone. In that sense it involves some action of the will. It involves some step of embracing Christ. Now we’re not saying-Luther isn’t saying, Augustine isn’t saying-that the human will is not involved in salvation. When I have faith in Christ, I am the one who is trusting, I am the one who is believing, I am the one who is choosing him, and I am choosing him freely. That’s not an issue. We all agree on that.

The question is, What has to happen before that person will choose Christ, will embrace Christ? When I say I have to embrace Christ in order to be saved-I have to have faith in order to be saved, I have to ask the next question: How do I get the faith? Can I choose to believe out of my dead, sinful nature? Or must I be spiritually raised from the dead and be given eyes to see and a heart to respond positively before I ever will respond positively? What Reformed theology says, what Augustine was saying, is that we are by nature spiritually dead. God can offer us salvation until kingdom come-but he does more than offer it.

He resurrects our souls from the dead. He does a divine and supernatural work in us called regeneration. He quickens us, and every mother knows that “quickening” is the sense of the presence of life in the womb. It is the Holy Spirit who changes the disposition of our souls, which prior to this work has no desire for Christ. We’re still choosing. When we’re dead in sin, we’re still alive to sin, and we’re making choices all the time. But the choices are always according to what we want. That’s what freedom is. That’s why Augustine, in a confusing way, said that man still has a liberium arbitrium; he still has a free will. But what he lacks is libertas (liberty); he’s still free to do what he wants. That’s his condemnation. We still choose sin because that’s what we want.

The freedom we lack is the ability, in and of ourselves, to change our hearts that are enslaved to these wicked desires; only God can surgically repair that captivity. In other words, we are in bondage to our own desires, which are wicked, until God changes the disposition of our hearts. Once he does that, he is releasing the will from its prison. And we’re no longer now in bondage. Now we have the desire for Christ, and we freely choose Christ, but not until God-and only God-liberates us.

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calvinism by johnson

I love Phil Johnson's conclusion to his Clarifying Calvinism series in Pulpit Magazine.

You might be one of those people who doesn’t want to be referred to as a Calvinist or an Arminian. But the fact is, if you are a Christian at all, you do already affirm the fundamental principle in every one of those truths [TULIP]. You already know in your heart of hearts that you weren’t born again because you were morally superior to your unbelieving neighbors. You were worthy of God’s wrath just like them (Eph. 2:1 3). According to Ephesians 2:4-6, it was God who quickened you and showed you a special mercy—and that is why you are a believer. You already know that in your heart. You don’t really believe you summoned faith and came to Christ in your own power and by your own unaided free will. You don’t actually believe you are morally superior to people who don’t believe. You therefore must see, somewhere in your soul, that God has given you special grace that He has not necessarily shown everyone.

You also believe God is absolutely sovereign over all things. I know you do, because you lean on the promise of Romans 8:28. And that promise would mean nothing if God were not in control of every detail of everything that happens. If He is not in control of all things, how could He work all things together for good?

Furthermore, you pray for the lost, which means in your heart, you believe God is sovereign over their salvation. If you didn’t really believe He was sovereign in saving sinners, you’d quit praying for the lost and start doing everything you could to buttonhole people into the kingdom by hook or by crook, instead. But you know that would be folly. And you pray about other things, too, don’t you? You pray that God will change this person’s heart, or alter the circumstances of that problem. That’s pure Calvinism. When we go to God in prayer, we’re expressing faith in His sovereignty over the circumstances of our lives.

You even believe God operates sovereignly in the administration of all His providence. You say things like, “If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that” (James 4:15)—because in your heart you believe that God works all things after the counsel of His own will (Eph. 1:11), and nothing happens apart from His will.

Nothing is more biblical than these doctrines that are commonly labeled Calvinism. In a way, it is a shame they have been given an extrabiblical name, because these truths are the very essence of what Scripture teaches. The very gist of Calvinism is nowhere more clearly stated than in the simple words of our verse: “We love Him, because He first loved us.”

In Part 1 of the series Johnson answers the question of whether or not Arminianism is heresy. It is not. In Part 2 Johnson pokes at that a little more explaining that while it may not be heresy, Arminianism is wrong.

... Arminianism is inherently inconsistent. Arminians technically affirm the fundamental, essential truths of the gospel. Then they try to build a theology on top of that which is totally inconsistent with the solid foundation they have affirmed. ... It’s an attempt to reconcile the sovereignty of God with human responsibility—and the Arminian method of reconciling those two truths involves a view of human free will that is inherently inconsistent with certain gospel truths every Arminian actually affirms.

Part 3 and 4 are book and audio recommendations on the topic along with Johnson's journey to Calvinism. I haven't read his recommendations so I'll mention two of my favorites, Chosen by God and Grace Unknown, both by RC Sproul. In Part 5 Johnson points us to 1 John 4:19, “We love Him because He first loved us." The real meat of this is fleshed out in Parts 6 and 7. Johnson develops the following outline.

1. THE PERVERSENESS OF OUR FALLEN STATE = there was a time when we didn't love God. The very essence of depravity is a failure to love. (Total Depravity)
2. THE PRIORITY OF GOD’S ELECTING CHOICE - God's love precedes any movement toward God on our part. (Unconditional Election)
3. THE PARTICULARITY OF HIS SAVING WORK - this is key. Not all love Him. Therefore it is clear that God has done something on our behalf that he hasn't done for everyone else. (Limited Atonement)
4. THE POWER OF HIS LOVING DELIVERANCE - God's love for us is a productive love always bearing the fruit of our love returned to Him. (Irresistible Grace)
5. THE PERFECTION OF HIS REDEMPTIVE PLAN - the fact that we love means we have been fully transformed from that former state of not loving. (Perseverance of the Saints)

Great stuff!

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political outlook

I am amazed at the number of people I know who have renewed hope for a brighter future simply because Barack Obama is now President. I just do not get it. When I see videos of US citizens showing the utmost disrespect for the office of President I think regardless of who fills the office, we are heading for sadder days ...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

our church

I found the following as I was cleaning out some files ... at one point this is what I thought I would like the community I am part of to look like. What about you? Is there anything you would add to that list? Have you found such a place?

  • A church in which people profoundly encounter Jesus Christ in the teaching and worship.
  • A church that is characterized by individual and corporate prayer.
  • A church where things are so clearly and reasonably articulated that they make sense to a thinking follower of Christ.
  • A church where the power of God is present to heal people.
  • A church where ministry is done by every member, not just the pastor.
  • A church that cares about and actually does something for people outside its own borders—particularly the poor and the needy.
  • A church that doesn't simply recycle other churches members but actually brings many people from darkness to light.
  • A church where people can easily take off the religious masks and find real fellowship at the foot of the cross.
  • A church that provides people with training both for ministry and for life.
  • A church that loves and actually devotes a large share of its time, energy, and money to serve the needs of children.
  • A church that is large enough and strong enough to impact the community and plant other churches both in this country and abroad.
  • A church whose every endeavor is marked by excellence, integrity, and love.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

faith alone

We are saved by faith alone [not our works], but not by faith that remains alone. ~ Martin Luther

younger and older brothers

I just completed Tim Keller's excellent study on Lk 15.1-3, 11-32 The Prodigal God.

Regarding the danger and severity of the older brother's sin, Keller writes:

Elder brothers don't go to God and beg for healing from their condition. They see nothing wrong with their condition, and that can be fatal. If you know you are sick you may go to a doctor; if you don't know you're sick you won't - you'll just die.

... Pride in good deeds rather than remorse over his bad deeds, was keeping the older son out of the feast of salvation.

Lord - I don't want to die. I need your forgiveness, your healing, and your life. This however is the same need as the younger brother who is also in rebellion. The younger brother, in his own self-righteousness flinches at the slightest hint of correction or confrontation. They see surety and confidence as arrogance and legalism. Younger brothers are while excel in understanding and seeing brokenness and thereby receiving and bringing healing. In doing so however they tend to run from anything that hints of righteousness and proper living.

I think both brothers need and can benefit from the other but sadly too often their reaction to each other pushes them further into their rebellion.

As a side note, one final "ah ha" from Keller in regard to this story. Who should have gone after the younger brother? In the other parables of Jesus recorded in Luke 15, someone went after that which was lost but had great value. In the story of the prodigal son/father, no one pursued the younger son. In his pride, the older brother failed in his role of older brother. It is he that should have abandoned all to lovingly find the younger brother to return him to the father so that both could rejoice in the salvation feast.

the enormous carrot

A fable about a king, a gardener and a nobleman by Tim Keller in The Prodigal God.

Once upon a time, there was a gardener who grew an enormous carrot. So he came to the palace, and said to his king “My lord, I’m a gardener, and this is the greatest carrot I’ve ever grown and ever hope to grow. Therefore, I am presenting it to you as a token of my love and respect.”

The king was touched and discerned the man’s heart. He said “I have a field that lies next to yours. I give this field to you so that you can farm it along with your own.” The gardener went home rejoicing.

A nobleman in the court overheard this and he thought to himself “A field for a carrot!” So, the next day, he came to the king with a magnificent stallion: “I breed horses,” he said “and this is the finest horse I have ever bred or ever will breed, so I am presenting it to you as a token of my love and respect.”

The king discerned his heart and said “Well, thank you very much.” The nobleman couldn’t hide his disappointment. So, the king said “Let me explain: The gardener was giving me the carrot, but you were giving yourself the horse.”

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Friday, January 16, 2009

jesus into my heart

Did you ever invite "Jesus into your heart"? Well Todd Friel would argue that is not Scriptural or helpful ... I agree at least with a few of his points. Per Friel:

1. It is not in the Bible. There is not a single verse that even hints we should say a prayer inviting Jesus into our hearts. Some use Rev. 3:20 to tell us that Jesus is standing at the door of our hearts begging to come in. There are two reasons that interpretation is wrong. The context tells us that the door Jesus is knocking on is the door of the church, not the human heart. Jesus is not knocking to enter someone’s heart but to have fellowship with His church. Even if the context didn’t tell us this, we would be forcing a meaning into the text (eisegesis). How do we know it is our heart he is knocking at? Why not our car door? How do we know he isn’t knocking on our foot? To suggest that he is knocking on the door of our heart is superimposing a meaning on the text that simply does not exist.

2. Asking Jesus into your heart is a saying that makes no sense. What does it mean to ask Jesus into your heart? If I say the right incantation will He somehow enter my heart? Is it literal? Does He reside in the upper or lower ventricle? Is this a metaphysical experience? Is it figurative? If it is, what exactly does it mean?

3. In order to be saved, a man must repent (Acts 2:38). Asking Jesus into your heart leaves out the requirement of repentance.

4. In order to be saved, a man must trust in Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31). Asking Jesus into your heart leaves out the requirement of faith.

our anchor

Our assurance, our glory, and the sole anchor of our salvation are that Christ the Son of God is ours, and we in turn are in him sons of God and heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven, called to the hope of eternal blessedness by God’s grace, not by our worth. ~ John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (III.17.1)


Thursday, January 15, 2009

a sign of change

I am fully supportive of the decision this great country has made in our choice of president. But what really grabs me is the naivety of the expectations held by many.

President Barack Obama’s inauguration next week is set to be the most expensive ever, predicted to reach over $150m. This dwarfs the $42.3m spent on George Bush’s inauguration in 2005 and the $33m spent on Bill Clinton’s in 1993.

And hopefully not as a predictor;

If there is snow, the costs will grow higher. The long-term forecast suggests there is a chance of snow on Sunday and again on the day of inauguration, on Tuesday.

My personal long-term forecast, things will get worse. Maranatha.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

a proverb

A proverb is a short sentence based on long experience. ~ Miguel Cervantes


Men despise religion; they hate it and fear it is true. ~ Blaise Pascal, Pensees 174

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

macbook wheel

I'm running down to the Apple store now to pick one up ...

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The antichrist business just ain't what it used to be.


Is this what evangelism looks like in your community?


Thanks DH!

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cool stuff ala ruiz

Our friends Jesus and Maria Ruiz, finalists for CNN's Hero of the Year award, will be featured along with her family on ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. This is the interview with the family, here is a general background story, and here is the post I made when we learned of the CNN blessing.

I recently spoke with some friends about the phrase from David Crowder's song, Everything Glorious.

My eyes are small but they have seen the beauty of enormous things.

As I think about this, it seems cool that the Ruiz family is being blessed but it doesn't strike me as being so enormous. What seems more "enormouser" is that God used a simple, real-life friend of mine to trigger this. In the midst of this regular person's daily struggles, God motivated her heart to send a simple letter of recommendation. This wonderful lady had every reason in the world to ignore His prompting but she followed through and in this the Ruiz family is receiving many tens of thousands of dollars - far more than what my friend or our church could have given. So my hero of the year is my friend Sandi for her simple obedience and for her perseverance in her personal time of struggle.

Monday, January 12, 2009

youthfulness lost

We have lost the eternal youthfulness of Christianity and have aged into calculating manhood. We seldom pray in earnest for the extraordinary, the limitless, the glorious. We seldom pray with real confidence for any good, to the realization of which we cannot imagine a way. And yet we suppose ourselves to believe him infinite Father. ~ Unidentified, Edinburgh, 1910

It hasn't improved since then ...


Sunday, January 11, 2009

both sin

I find Tim Keller's The Prodigal God full of wisdom. Here he wonderfully covers the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15.11-32.

Keller defines sin as "putting yourself in the place of God as Savior, Lord, and Judge just as each son sought to displace the authority of the father in his own life." Both of the sons are lost. Both are alienated from the father. Both of these son are wrong yet both are loved. The father invites cares for them and invites both into his love and feast. The beauty of the Gospel as drawn out by Keller is that "in its view, everyone is wrong, everyone is loved, and everyone is called to recognize this and change."

I especially like Keller's focus on the older brother.

The elder brother is not losing the father's love in spite of his goodness, but because of it. It is not his sins that create the barrier between him and his father, it's the pride he has in his moral record; it's not his wrongdoing but his righteousness that is keeping him from sharing in the feast of the father.

Truer words could not be spoken. The younger son is wrong. Without return to the father he is lost. But his nature is more likely to ultimately break and lead him to humble himself before the father. The nature of the older son however is the very thing that provides him false security and comfort. If faced with calamity, he will tend to attempt to strengthen himself rather than find refuge in his father.

love or self

From Elisabeth Elliot, These Strange Ashes, quoted by Tim Keller in The Prodigal God.

“An apocryphal story (not in the Bible) about Jesus that conveys the difference between a results-oriented selfishness and a faithfulness born out of live.

“One day Jesus said to his disciples: “I’d like you to carry a stone for Me.” He didn’t give any explanation. So the disciples looked around for a stone to carry, and Peter, being the practical sort, sought out the smallest stone he could possibly find. After all, Jesus didn’t give any regulations for weight and size! So he put it in his pocket. Jesus then said: “Follow Me.” He led them on a journey. About noontime Jesus had everyone sit down. He waved his hands and all the stones turned to bread. He said, “Now it’s time for lunch.” In a few seconds, Peter’s lunch was over. When lunch was done Jesus told them to stand up. He said again, “I’d like you to carry a stone for Me.” This time Peter said, “Aha! Now I get it!” So he looked around and saw a small boulder. He hoisted it on his back and it was painful. It made him stagger. But he said, “I can’t wait for supper.” Jesus then said: “Follow Me.” He led them on a journey, with Peter barely able to keep up. Around supper time Jesus led them to the side of a river. He said, “Now everyone throw your stones into the water.” They did. Then he said, “Follow Me,” and began to walk. Peter and the others looked at him dumbfounded. Jesus sighed and said, “Don’t you remember what I asked you to do? Who were you carrying the stone for?”"

For whom do you carry the stones?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

still reading luke 15

Ok - I'm slower than I thought ... I'm still reading Luke 15. This post is to the older brothers.

It's very clear to me that in the story, without God's grace, I am the older brother representing the pharisees being confronted by Jesus. I need to everyday die to self asking that His Spirit would live in and through me. Everyday I wonder why He allows the younger brothers to get away with what they do. And what really grabs me is the arrogance of the younger brothers. They are so filled with it. They usual sit around talking sweet and rejoice about how they are not "hung-up" like the older brothers yet in doing so they are condescending and filled with self=pride wearing a simple but too thin vail of humility over it ... all as they proudly race off in the wrong direction (very often thinking they are right but mostly just running from the bondage they see in the older brother).

And then I rejoice. I am glad that God has chosen to deal mercifully with me as well as with these younger brother. I am glad He has not judged me in the way I judge others. That He has begun a process of setting me free from the unnecessary bonds I have built into me life. And I sit in awe as He ultimately works His (rather than my) plan to perfection. God is GOOD! And I'll leave it to Him to deal with the errors of others. I have enough of my own.

Friday, January 09, 2009

wisdom from bob

Ok - the wisdom isn't from Bob exactly but it was passed on by him ...

Cowardice keeps us double minded- hesitating between the world and God. In this hesitation, there is no true faith- faith remains an opinion. We are never certain, because we never quite give in to the authority of an invisible God. This hesitation is the death of hope. We never let go of those visible supports which, we well know, must one day surely fail us. And this hesitation makes true prayer impossible- it never quite dares to ask for anything, or if it asks, it is so uncertain of being heard that in the very act of asking, it surreptitiously seeks by huma prudence to construct a make-shift answer. ~ Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

useful christians who had been murderers

I don't know why but I just loved this piece posted at The Scriptorium.

“Dr. Torrey, How do you reconcile the contradiction in the Bible between I John 1:9 and I John 3:15? In the first passage we are told that if we confess our sins they will be forgiven: in the last passage we are told that there is no forgiveness for the murderer.”

There is no contradiction whatever between these two passages. In the first passage we are told that the believer receives forgivness the moment he confesses his sin; in the second passage we are not told that there is no forgiveness for the murderer. We are told that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him while he is a murderer, that is, while he still cherishes hate for his brother –but no true believer cherishes hate for brother.

One who has been a murderer and one who has hated his brother will find forgiveness the moment he turns from his sin and confesses it and puts his trust in Jesus Christ. (Is. 55:7; Prov. 28:13; Acts 13:38-39). There is nothing whatever in I John 3:15 that suggests that one who has murdered never can find forgiveness. It only teaches that one who is still a murderer by cherishing hate in his heart to his brother hath not eternal life while he cherishes that hatred.

There is a record in the Bible of more than one murderer being forgiven. David was a murderer, yet he is the one who wrote the 32nd Psalm—note especially the 5th verse, “I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” And the 51st Psalm, note especially the 14th verse, “Deliver me from blood guiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.”

Saul of Tarsus, who afterwards became Paul the Apostle, stained his hands with Christian blood and yet he wrote, I Tim. 1:15-16,

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Christ Jesus might show forth all long suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting.

And II Tim. 11:12, “For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day,” and II Tim. 4.7-8, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them that love his appearing.”

There are those living to day who have stained their hands with the blood of their fellow men but who found mercy through the finished work of Christ, who are today happy, useful Christians.

First published in The King’s Business III:12 (December 1912), p. 334.

de facto cessationism

While I'll opt to continue as a continuationist, I found C. Michael Patton's discussion on why he is not charismatic very well done. I very much agree with his argument that cessationism is not a position explicitly taught in Scripture and I greatly respect him for acknowledging such. I find it fascinating the degree of contortion my cessationist friends go through to support their position from Scripture. On the other hand, I can also agree with Patton's point that just because the historic church has room for the miraculous, it does not equate to continuationism as being the common doctrine. Hesitantly I agree that the church is at least historically de facto cessationist. And sadly, I will add that many proclaimed charismatics are de facto cessationists.

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no coercion needed

... no one gives himself freely and willingly to God's service unless, having tasted his fatherly love, he is drawn to love and worship him in return. ~ John Calvin, The Institutes of Christian Religion, 1.v.3

I love this and I continue to be frustrated by so many continuing to (1) attempt to coerce others to faith or conversely (2) misinterpret confidence in Truth as coercion.


christian killing

Are you dying for others? Are you killing sin in yourself or simply trimming it? Here are some wise words from John Piper.

In New Testament times swords were not for digging, shaving, or whittling. They were for killing. The only reason Peter cut off Malchus’s ear was that he missed (John 18:10).

But Herod didn’t miss: “He killed James the brother of John with the sword” (Acts 12:2).

Many saints have felt the full force of the sword: “They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword” (Hebrews 11:37). So it was and will be: “If anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain” (Revelation 13:10).

That’s what swords are for. So when Paul calls the word of God the “sword of the Spirit” in Ephesians 6:17, he is serious—something must be put to death. And it is not people. Christians don’t kill people to spread our faith; we die to spread our faith.

The link in Paul’s mind is given in Romans 8:13.

If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

The word of God is the sword of the Spirit. The Sword is for putting to death. And by the Spirit we put to death our sinful deeds. So I conclude that the way we kill our sins is with the Spirit’s sword, the word of God.

All temptations to sin have power by lying. The are “deceitful desires” (Ephesians 4:22). They tell us that the pleasure of the sin is worth it. The killing blow against these lies is the power of God’s truth. Hence the sword of the Spirit, God’s word, is the weapon to use.

As John Owen said, “Be killing sin, or it will be killing you.” That is what swords are for, especially the Bible.

Monday, January 05, 2009


While I'm sure the heresy of universalism is not on the rise, my exposure to those believing it is higher these days than I would have ever thought. It seems to come from, although not limited to, those in the emerging conversation. Now before you jump on me, no, I do not think all emerging types are universalists. On the other hand, just as my cessationist friends would be accurate in saying charismatics tend toward being duped by bad Bible teaching when compared to their evangelical counterparts (at least back in the 70's-80's), I would say that emergents are more prone to being duped by universalism. And again, just be clear, I by no means think all emergents are universalists or Biblically ignorant, etc.. It's more of a leaning/susceptability sort of thing.

With that said, Mike Wittmer pointed me to this interesting article by NT Wright, Towards a Biblical View of Universalism.

I love how Wright paraphrases the basic thought process of the christian universalist.

There are two Biblical ways of looking at salvation. One says that only Christian believers will be saved; the other says that all men will be saved. Since the latter is more loving, it must be true, because God is love.

And then his conclusion;

Biblical 'universalism', therefore, consists in this, that in Christ God has revealed the one way of salvation for all men alike, irrespective of race, sex, colour or status. This biblical 'universalism' (unlike the other sort) gives the strongest motives for evangelism, namely, the love of God and of men. (This itself is evidence that we are thinking biblically here.) this view specifically excludes the other sort of 'universalism', because scripture and experience alike tell us that many do miss the one way of salvation which God has provided. This is a sad fact, and the present writer in no ways enjoys recording it, any more than Paul in Romans 9-11 looked with pleasure on his kinsmen's fate. Yet it cannot be ignored if we wish either to remain true to scripture or really to love our fellow men. If the house is on fire, the most loving thing to do is to raise the alarm.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

tithing, giving and the new testament

9781607911142I love being in God's family. Among the many obvious benefits, I particularly enjoy the family spirit that transcends culture and distance. I just spoke this morning with my dear friend Tassos and his lovely bride. He is Greek, she is German. We connected years ago while living in Germany and haven't seen each other or talked in a very long time. Regardless of the gap, as we spoke this morning I knew immediately the joy and love possible only through the bonds of Christ.

Anyway, Tassos has written a new book, Tithing, Giving and the New Testament (also available here and here). From what I know about Tassos, this should prove to be a challenging and Biblically accurate read. I see it is available on-line at his website The Journal of Biblical Accuracy but I encourage you to purchase a hard copy of it.

I haven't read this and therefore I cannot comment on every detail of Tassos' position but I can say that both he and I long to see the Body of Christ freed from the prominent yet oppressive and unbiblical teachings surrounding the gift of giving. If you read it please let me know your thoughts.

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Saturday, January 03, 2009

christian essence

The essence of the Christian religion consists in this: that the creation of the Father, devastated by sin, is restored in the death of the Son of God, and recreated by the Holy Spirit into the kingdom of God. ~ Herman Bavinck, as quoted by Michael D. Williams in Far As the Curse is Found


Friday, January 02, 2009


Now that I have Logos for Mac I thought life couldn't get better ... but it did, now there is Catholic Google ... what's next?


Thursday, January 01, 2009

2008 was tough

I thought 2008 was hard on me but apparently I'm not alone.

1. Anil Ambani

March net worth: $42 billion
Current net worth: $12 billion

2. Oleg Deripaska

March net worth: $28 billion
Current net worth: less than $10 billion

3. Anurag Dikshit

March net worth: $1.6 billion
Current net worth: $1 billion

4. Bjorgflur Gudmundsson

March net worth: $1.1 billion
Current net worth: zero

5. Luis Portillo

March net worth: $1.2 billion
Current net worth: $15 million

Billionaire Big Losers
American Big Losers

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read through the bible

Hey, it's a new year and what better way to start and end 2009 than reading through the Bible. There are all kinds of plans out there; here are 10 just for the ESV Bible. Justin Taylor offers more if that's not enough. To encourage you, read the story of the 23 members of Grace Assembly who did managed this last year. I love the testimonials ... talk about great reasons to read the Bible ...

"I learned that if I set my mind to do something, I can get it done."

"I learned that it takes a team to complete a task like this, the support from the other team members helped me through."

"I learned that you can't do something like this without a great encourager like Pastor Johnson. He was always there for me when I was down and I didn't want to read. He understood."

"Reading through the Bible in a year has taught me to pace myself in other things. There are several tasks that I've been wanting to get done for years. The Bible has been an example I can follow to pace myself in 2009 and make sure to get these other tasks done."

"I've grown so much through this experience, it's such a good feeling to close the Bible each day and know I'm exactly where God wants me to be in the plan."

"I think the best thing in our family has been the improvement in our daughter's reading skills."

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dancing with the politicians

Somehow I missed this one ...

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what or who is the question

I think I get it when I read some folks saying that "Jesus is the question." While some are just mental gypsy's trying to sound chic, others have put some good thought into this and I tend to agree with some of the reasoning. On the other hand, the sentiment that Jesus is the question does not replace that He is also the answer.

Job asked, "But how can a man be in the right before God?" (Job 9.2). I think this is possibly the question.

The answer to this of course is "Jesus" (2 Cor 5.21).

We deserve death (Gen 2.17;Rom 1.32). God cannot justify the wicked (Ex 23.7; Prov 17.15) yet He is merciful and gracious (Ex 34.6-7). So He nailed our sins to the cross with Himself (Col 2.13-14). The result of this is the answer to Job's question. How can we stand before God and be declared righteous? Jesus (1 Cor 1.30).


For you pre-tribulation rapture folks ...

Theological-Differences 3
Thanks DH.

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more religion

This is to build on Jesus in Contrast.

Because we are created as God's image bearers we are made for righteousness, we yearn for it. But we are sinners and therefore we pursue it through self-righteousness (Ro 10.3). Often this is through vain attempts to live by God's and our own laws. All of these are destined for failure (Mt 5.20) and are repugnant to God (Isa 64.6).

Jesus however humbly became a man to take back through obedience what was lost through sin (1 Cor 15.45). He, the righteous, took our place, the unrighteous (1 Pet 3.18). We are gifted righteousness which in no way emanates from ourselves but is wholly from Him. Our righteousness is now through faith alone (Gen 15.6; Rom 3.21-22; 4.4-5; 10.4; 1 Cor 1.30; Phil 3.8-9).

Through faith alone we can know the great exchange. Here are the words of Martin Luther based on 2 Cor 5.21.

Lerne Christus, und zwar als Gekreuzigten; lerne ihm zu singen und an dir selbst verzweifelned ihm zu sagen ; du, Herr Jesu, bist meine Gerechtigkeit, ich aber bin deine Suende; du hast angenommen was du nicht warst, und mir gegeben was ich nicht war.

That is;

Learn Christ and him crucified. Learn to sing to him and, despairing of yourself, say, 'Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, just as I am your sin. You have taken upon yourself what is mine and have given me what is yours. You have taken upon yourself what you were not and have given to me what I was not.

The really good news is that this righteousness is both imputed and imparted. We enjoy the status of being God's children. According to Ephesians 1 we are now "in Christ"; no longer belonging to the kingdom of darkness, we have become citizens of the Kingdom of Light (Col 1.13). More so, we also have the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us so that we can live as children of the Great King. Our heart has been and is being made new and from the overflow of this heart spring our attitudes and actions (Prov 4.23). This free gift (Eph 2.8-9) changed not only how God sees us, but also how we live day in and day out.

We no longer seek righteousness by doing good, we do good because we are righteous.