Thursday, December 30, 2010

why justice?

"We do justice when we give all human beings their due as creations of God. Doing justice includes not only the righting of wrongs, but generosity and social concern, especially towards the poor and vulnerable. This kind of life reflects the character of God...."

-- Tim Keller, "Generous Justice...."


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o'reilly & colbert by rosenthal

I agree with Shane Rosenthal's analysis of the O'Reilly-Colbert exchange regarding Jesus and politics.

This particular banter was triggered by Congressman Jim McDermott's, “This is Christmas time. We talk about good Samaritans, the poor, the little baby Jesus in the cradle and all this stuff. And then we say to the unemployed we won’t give you a check to feed your family. That’s simply wrong.”
Beginning with that and throughout the back-and-forth the comments reflect the mindset of many of those in the USA and our propensity to misuse (and misunderstand) Scripture to support our personal bent. It's worth reading Rosenthal's notes.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

marks of the true christian

The Bible Knowledge Commentary on Romans 12:9-10;
Paul began these specific exhortations with the key ingredient for success: Love must be sincere. This is God’s love, which has been ministered to believers by the Holy Spirit (5:5) and must be ministered by them to others in the Holy Spirit’s power. “Sincere” translates anypokritos (lit., “without hypocrisy”), also used of love (2 Cor. 6:6; 1 Peter 1:22), of faith (1 Tim. 1:5; 2 Tim. 1:5), and of wisdom (James 3:17).

This first command is followed by a pair of related basic commands—Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Many Bible students consider these two clauses as explanatory of the sincerity of love, translating the verse, “Let love be unfeigned, abhorring the evil and cleaving to the good.” Hating various forms of sin is frequently mentioned in Scripture (Pss. 97:10; 119:104, 128, 163; Prov. 8:13; 13:5; 28:16; Heb. 1:9; Rev. 2:6). Turning from evil is to accompany adhering to the good (cf. 1 Peter 3:11).

Divine love is to be exercised with other believers. The Greek adjective philostorgoi, translated devoted, suggests family affection. As in Romans 12:9, the second clause in verse 10 can be understood as explaining the first command. Verse 10 may be translated, “With brotherly love have family affection for one another, in honor giving place to one another” (cf. Phil. 2:3, “consider others better than yourselves”).
Interestingly today and throughout history there are those who redefine love as something that does not address sin and there are those working overtime to fight against the visible church - leaving her rather than following Paul's admonition in the context of community.

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

perman on works

Matt Perman writes:
I agree that the final judgment is according to works. We are justified—made right with God and given a title to heaven—by faith alone apart from works. This faith, though, always and necessarily leads to good works, such that at the final judgment works can be necessary as evidence that we have already been accepted by God. So works are necessary as evidence, not basis.
Read on here for an interesting analogy and a thought on the justifying of our works as well as our persons.

Monday, December 20, 2010

melinda's orientation

I found this post and comments at Love is an Orientation interesting. At first I struggled reading beyond the first few paragraphs because after all these years, I still don't grasp why some follow the path of apologizing to people-groups for the sins of other people-groups. Not to argue, I just don't get it and while I can imagine it comes from good motives, I often find that many employing that practice are misguided in many aspects of their faith. So I pressed on trying to not make that assumption of Melinda.

And I'm glad I did. Based on what she wrote, I think Melinda gets it. Here's the money quote, "[my Aunt] matters and ... she’s taught me to see that every single person matters. And if they won’t matter to the world at large, they’ll matter to me." Melinda that she "love[d] her completely, and could never, ever be ashamed of her."

That is so right on. Melinda shared her compassion toward her Aunt not based at all on her Aunt's sexuality. And while she doesn't say it, I want to read into the post that Melinda sees her Aunt's lifestyle as sinful yet understands that we are still able - and must - love anyway.

Sadly that message is lost on some of the commenters. One wrote, "you didn’t have to assure your aunt that you 'love her completely'. You should have said, 'Jesus loves your for being gay.'"

What?!?!?! Jesus loves you for your sin?!?! Oh how far the mind sinks when we embrace sin ...

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

can i be saved if ...

Dr. David Powlison takes a stab at the familiar question, "Can I be saved if I am living in constant, secret sin?"

HT:Z via CB

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Saturday, December 18, 2010


Michael Patton wrote the below on his blog ...

The belief that God has created men and women equal in all things. Men and women are ontologically and functionally equal. The way the sexes function in the church, society, and the family is determined by individual giftedness, not role distinctions according to the sexes. Therefore, each person should be judged individually when being placed in a particular position. We should exemplify this reality by overcoming the stereotypical placement that has traditionally been a part of societies in human history, thereby giving freedom to individuals to follow the path that God has uniquely created them for, whatever that may be. In doing so, we should no longer educate or indoctrinate according to any of the former stereotypes, including those of basic masculinity and femininity.

The belief that men and women have God given differences that are essential to their sex. Men and women are ontologically (in their essential nature) equal, but often, functionally, take subordinate roles (like the Trinity). These differences complete or “complement” each other. Due to these differences, there will be some things that women are predisposed and purposed to do more than men. As well, there will be some things that men are predisposed and purposed to do more than women. Therefore, there are ideal roles for both men and women that should be celebrated, exemplified, typified, and promoted in the church, family, and society. To deny these differences is to deny the design of God and thwart his purpose.

Here is how I normally proceed with any egalitarian in a conversation about this subject. I ask three questions:

Question #1: Do you believe that there are essential differences, created by God, between men and women?
Please note: these differences are not merely stereotypical or cultural. As well, these cannot be simply limited to physicality and reproduction. Sub-questions would include: Are their ways that a woman is better suited to be a mother than a man? Are there ways that a man is better suited to be a father than a woman?
I have found that about 50% of Egalitarians I talk to are willing to concede here. The other 50%, I believe, let their ideology create a worldview that, outside of the context of this debate, would never be entertained. I have found that most everyone, inductively and deductively, intuitively and empirically, when not discussing this issue, admits that there are differences between men and women that go beyond culture, reproduction, and physicality.

Question #2: If God-given differences exist, do these differences carry with them strengths and weaknesses for each sex?
In other words, does this normally predispose the member of one sex to perform certain tasks and exercise certain roles better than another? What does it mean to be better at being a mother? What does it mean to be better at being a father? Is there a way to train men to be better ”men”? Is there a way to train women to be better ”women”?

This is where the rest of the Egalitarians begin to depart. The problem here is not with the admittance of divine differences, but an unwillingness to say that these differences predispose one sex to be better at something than the other. However, this is hard to consistently maintain. Differences will produce inherent predispositions. For example a circle is different from a square. Among other things, this makes a circle better at fitting into a circular hole.

Differences are always going to bring with them strengths and weaknesses. However, some Egalitarians will admit this. Therefore we have the next question.

Question #3: Should these differences be celebrated, exemplified, typified, and promoted in the church, family, and society?
This is the hardest hurdle for Egalitarians to overcome and often causes them to have to reevaluate their answers to the previous two questions in order to remain Egalitarians. The idea here is that if there are God-given differences, shouldn’t we celebrate and promote these differences. What does this celebration and promotion look like? This is the essence of complementarianism. This means that we educate the sexes to function to their maximum potential. We do not naturally kick back and hope that they fit into their “grooves”, whatever they may be, but we “train a child the way they should go.” The “way” they should go is based on divine design, not an assumption of neutrality. Men should be trained to be men and women should be trained to be women. If we don’t we passively attempt to neuter God’s design through non-recognition.

It is my opinion that Egalitarians cannot pass this point without becoming Complementarians to some degree. Of course they may be “Non-Hierarchal” Complementarians, (as some like to be called now) but, in my opinion, this position is not very consistent. Here is the issue: If we have already admitted that men and women are different by design, and this difference predisposes one sex to be better at certain things than the other, and that these predispositions should be actively promoted, could it be that these “differences” make one sex better at leading in certain situations than the other? Could it be that men are predisposed to be better leaders in certain roles and women are predisposed to be better leaders in certain roles? If so, then these leadership roles are godly and need to be celebrated, exemplified, typified, and promoted in the church, family, and society.

You would think that I would have one more question that shows how the man is predisposed to be the leader in the church and family. I don’t. Not right now. The reason for this is that the true issue is spoiled once an agenda is smelled. These three questions are the heart of the matter. If done intentionally, you will find that people don’t mind concluding that one sex is better disposed toward certain roles (even leadership roles) than another. What gets people upset is when you present this case in such a way where one sex (normally always women) is discriminated against due to these assumptions of divine differences.
Because of this, I have found that consistent Egalitarians must backtrack and deny the validity of all three of the points here. First, the celebration and promotion of these differences gets eliminated (since this is the heart of the matter). Once this happens, it is not long before the concession of strengths and weaknesses gets rescinded. One does not want to be found admitting that they believe that God designed the sexes with strengths and weaknesses, but unwilling to concede that this is a good thing for the church, family, and society. Finally, it is necessary to rescind the first. If there are not inherent strengths and weaknesses to each sex, then there cannot be differences at all. Differences will always imply a primacy in functionality of one sort of another.

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groeschel on groups

Craig Groeschel on essential elements of great small group:
  1. A great group needs a leader. When everyone is always voting on what we do next, we never do much. A good leader makes for a good group.
  2. A great group is built around God’s word. Too often, small groups become all about fellowship. While fellowship is always essential, doing life around God’s word is what truly makes the difference.
  3. A great group is a safe group. If people can’t discuss openly without fear of judgment, rejection, or gossip, the group is doomed to fail.
  4. A great group looks outward. Serving together is life changing.
  5. A great group births new groups. If a group stays together for too long, they usually grow stale. Healthy groups produce new groups.
  6. A great group takes breaks. We often take the summer off from consistent meetings. We’re all busy. The break makes us long to be together more.
  7. A great group hurts together. I just got off the phone after talking to a young woman with four children who just lost her 39-year-old husband. Even though she is devastated, she told me confidently that her Life Group would be there for her. God is glorified through such a group.

I've worked with small groups for 30 years now and strongly agree with all but #6. What are your thoughts?


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Thursday, December 16, 2010

the twelve doctrines of christmas

Very well done - and I'm fully aligned ... The Twelve Doctrines of Christmas ...

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

christ did it

“It is important to realize that our Lord Jesus Christ perfectly fulfilled the law of God, both in its requirements and its penalty. He did what Adam failed to do — render perfect obedience to the law of God. Then by His death He completely paid the penalty of a broken law. So, from the standpoint of obedience to the law and of paying the penalty for breaking the law, He perfectly fulfilled the law of God.”

— Jerry Bridges, The Disciple of Grace: God's Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness


Wednesday, December 08, 2010

parenting children ...

This post from Thabiti Anyabwile gave strength to my heart.

“And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, ‘It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.’ Thus Job did continually.” (Job 1:5)

It seems Job suffered for his children before he suffered for his children. Before the calamitous news of their death, Job worried about an even greater potential tragedy–their spiritual death.

This righteous man longed for his children to love and honor God. It’s the desire of all godly parents.

But Job lacked the one attribute most parents wish they had: omniscience. How could he know what his adult sons and daughters did when he was not around? How could he know what lie in the hearts of his children? Had they “cursed God in their hearts”? What a terrifying set of questions for any parent. This is why we don’t sleep until all the children arrive home safely. This is why we ask questions about friends we don’t know very well. This is why we sometimes inspect their rooms or ask searching questions while hoping not to offend. What if our children live double lives? What if they curse God in their hearts?

How does this righteous man deal with the questions and worry? how does he deal with not knowing? He appeals to the One who does know, who sees all. The very God Job feared His children might have cursed is Job’s Great Ally in the war for his children’s hearts. Job wants what God wants–a godly offspring (Mal. 2:15). God, then, is Job’s Warrior in this battle.

So, Job does two things. First, he consecrates his children. He sets them apart for God. His children do not belong to him; they belong to the Lord of life. If children are arrows in a parent’s quiver, Job aims His directly at the courts of God. One can only speculate about how much greater Job’s suffering and difficulty would have been if he maintained an idolatrous hold on his children. Certainly losing all his children in one day was as unimaginable a disaster possible. But would he have maintained faith and sanity had he prized his children above God, or built his life on his children, or found his ultimate joy in his children? Consecrating his children was not only right and godly, ultimately it provided a measure of protection. This is how Job could reply to his wife, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (2:10) Or, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Second, Job interceded for each of his children. Notice “he would rise early in the morning.” The earliest business of day was prayer for Job. He made his offerings to God on behalf of each child’s soul. For if they cursed God in their hearts, only God could renew their hearts. If their offense was against God, only God could relent and forgive them. They needed help from God, and Job the faithful father went to God early, interceding for their deliverance. Notice: “thus Job did continually.” Here’s a portrait of a persistently pleading parent. He conquers his helplessness by appealing to the Almighty.

These things are written for our instruction (1 Cor. 10:6). How kind of God to leave us in His word such a compelling and clear example to follow. Let us set apart our children to the Lord, and renew our prayers on their behalf. Conquer parental anxiety with petitions to our covenant God who knows our children and renews the heart.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

the temple of the holy ghost

In My Utmost for His Highest for December 5th:

Only in the throne will I be greater than thou. Genesis 41:40.

I have to account to God for the way in which I rule my body under His domination. Paul said he did not “frustrate the grace of God”—make it of no effect. The grace of God is absolute, the salvation of Jesus is perfect, it is done for ever. I am not being saved, I am saved; salvation is as eternal as God’s throne; the thing for me to do is to work out what God works in. “Work out your own salvation”; I am responsible for doing it. It means that I have to manifest in this body the life of the Lord Jesus, not mystically, but really and emphatically. “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.” Every saint can have his body under absolute control for God. God has made us to have government over all the temple of the Holy Spirit, over imaginations and affections. We are responsible for these, and we must never give way to inordinate affections. Most of us are much sterner with others than we are in regard to ourselves; we make excuses for things in ourselves whilst we condemn in others things to which we are not naturally inclined.

“I beseech you,” says Paul, “present your bodies a living sacrifice.” The point to decide is this—‘Do I agree with my Lord and Master that my body shall be His temple?’ If so, then for me the whole of the law for the body is summed up in this revelation, that my body is the temple of the Holy Ghost.


“The Christian life is a thank-you from beginning to end as we ponder what God has done. What an absurdity to think that we could ever bargain with God, as if there were anything we could put on the table. Nothing we can do would ever earn his favor. Yet all is ours for free. And the cross reveals his willingness to forgive not just once, but over and over and over again. How can we repay such extravagant, generous love? We cannot and need not, and the heart’s only answer is gratitude.”

— Rebecca Pippert, Hope Has Its Reasons


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

tedious and tasteless hours

How Tedious and Tasteless the Hours by John Newton, 1725–1807

Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire beside You. (Psalm 73:25)

The gospel of Jesus Christ revolves around the two Advents of the Savior: The first when He came as the humble baby in Bethlehem’s manger (Philippians 2:6–8); the second when He returns as King of kings with power and great glory to establish His eternal kingdom (Luke 21:27). Christ’s first coming assures us that we now have a God who identified Himself with us in every aspect of life from birth to death. The anticipation of His second coming assures us that we will live and reign with Him forever. Such a hope keeps this life from becoming “tedious and tasteless”—regardless of the seasons or situations.

The ultimate source of inner joy is God Himself, not our circumstances. Without an intimate sense of His daily presence, however, our lives can easily become wintry and frigid.


“How Tedious and Tasteless the Hours” is another of the fine hymns by John Newton. It first appeared in his 1779 collection titled The Olney Hymns. The hymn was originally titled “Fellowship with Christ”—based on Psalm 73:25. These words still speak vividly to us of the importance of maintaining a close personal relationship with our Lord:
How tedious and tasteless the hours when Jesus no longer I see! Sweet prospects, sweet birds, and sweet flowers have all lost their sweetness to me. The mid-summer sun shines but dim; the fields strive in vain to look gay; but when I am happy with Him, December’s as pleasant as May.

Content with beholding His face, my all to His pleasure resigned, no changes of season or place would make any change in my mind: While blest with a sense of His love, a palace a toy would appear; and prisons would palaces prove, if Jesus would dwell with me there.

Dear Lord, if indeed I am Thine, if Thou art my sun and my song, say, why do I languish and pine, and why are my winters so long? Oh, drive these dark clouds from my sky; Thy soul-cheering presence restore; or take me unto Thee on high, where winter and clouds are no more.
For Today: Nehemiah 8:10; Psalm 9:2; 70:4; Romans 14:17, 18

God has made you a steward of this day, regardless of the weather or circumstances. May it count for Him. Consciously practice His presence. Reflect on this musical truth—