Friday, December 30, 2005

Gazing on His beauty forever!!!!

With all the talk about the church, Christmas and even the extremes of offering the opportunity to win a house to get people to come to church I thought I would go back to some things John Piper mentioned in his new book: God is the Gospel.

He proposes that the best and final gift of God’s love is the enjoyment of God’s beauty. This comes from Psalm 27:4 where the psalm reflects on the how David saw that the greatest gift God gave was the ability for David to be with God forever and gaze on His beauty. This a long shot from what is offered every Sunday in so many churches, thankfully not all. We offer freedom from pain, addiction and many other things. All of these may be true but can not be guaranteed. Why do we not focus on the one thing that is guaranteed and that is those who are followers of Christ will be able to gaze on the beauty of the Lord forever. My guess is that all too many churches see this as boring and not exciting enough to draw people.

There is the crux of the problem: First is that it is not us that draw people to God, but God Himself who does so, as the natural inclination of the unregenerate man is to run as far from God as possible. Secondly, is that the actions of so many reveal a shallow understanding of the beauty of God. We are so enamored with the temporal excitement of this world that we think that it is necessarily so in heaven. The church is today all too much enamored with itself rather than God and it is not always in the words said but is seen all too often in the actions of the church and its people.

One question asked in the book is: Do you feel more loved because God makes much of me or because, at the cost of His Son, He enables me to enjoy making much of Him forever. How you answer this says much about where God is truly placed in ones life. It is not just how we answer this verbally but also how we answer it in actions. When church is focused more on us and not God we say that we are central.

I will write more on this in the upcoming months as this has been weighing on me because it truly seems that to take the path of making much of God over much being made of us puts one on the wrong side of the pragmatic ways of the day.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Anything for the Gospel. Anything?

How far should we go to get people to come to church? Well I was led to an article that reveals that Abundant Life Christian Center in Texas feels giving a house away is not too far. What does one do to keep them there, pay utilities if they accept the Lord?

How one brings people to church is in general how one keeps them. It is little wonder that the church today is worldly and looks so much like the world that people actually have to be enticed to come. When one neglects the fact that God changes hearts and is the one that sovereignty does so that one has to rely on some sort of gimmick to bring people to church

It is my opinion that it is only a return to the true understanding of how God works that will bring revival in the church. When we neglect that central to the Gospel is God’s giving of Himself that the church will feel that something else needs to be given or promised, maybe even a house.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

"God Loves You" and Evangelism

I came across an article by Gregg Koukl at that asked the question with regards to using “God Loves You” in evangelism. It is interesting that no matter how the so called successful preachers today avoid the topic of sin so as not to upset people, in Acts the subject of sin is emphasized. None of this is to say that God does not love those He died for as we know this is true. What this article points out is that the concept of stressing God’s love for the one we are sharing with is not predominant in the scriptures.

Can we truly say: “God Loves You and has a wonderful plan for your life” and know that for certain? Even if the person is a Christian we can not guarantee a wonderful life from a worldly perspective. The only thing we can promise is that if one becomes a believer they will have a relationship with God through Christ. All of the other benefits are just that, benefits, but can not necessarily be promised and should not be the sole focus of the Gospel we preach. The truth is that making one cognizant of sin does truly show love since it is the conviction of sin and repentance that brings one to Christ and salvation from the penalty of sin.

Just some thoughts to keep in mind when sharing your faith, or better yet when sharing what scripture says about faith and salvation.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Even more on "Incarnation Day" (Christmas)

As I read the various views on those churches that are not open on Christmas I am continually amazed at the arguments raised on both sides. All too often on the side of keeping open is a sort of tradition/legalism view. On the other pole is what might be called the pragmatism view.

Now I say legalism not because the people see it this way but the argument seems to head in that direction. Why is the church to be open on Christmas, because it is supposed to be seems to be the answer. On the pragmatism end it appears to be a matter of dollars and cents as it does not seem worth it to them to hold church if not enough people show up, especially if non-believers do not show up.

I have said this before but what is missed is for people to see what the church is for. If one sees it as a place for unbelievers then I guess not being open would seem reasonable to some. But do these people put a ice tag on salvation. What if one person shows up at one of these churches with closed doors. Is their salvation not of infinite worth and thus worth being open? I would think that their people would say this but their actions do not. I do not see the church as a God designed place for non-believers, however. They can come but the goal is edification of the saints and worship of God which a non-believer is not capable of doing (Rom 14:23). This also has infinite worth and thus also would lead to not closing our doors.

This is also a result of the ever increasing goal of many to make church convenient. The problem is the early church was not convenient and no where does it say Christianity is convenient. When we make things easy and take away any cross to carry people will be less likely to take up a cross when it placed before them. How about that, coming to church is now equated to picking up your cross. Is church such a burden that we have to make sure that it is convenient. I have talked to a person who goes to a large (“Mega”) church in my area and was once told that he goes to Friday or Saturday services in case something came up that weekend. That could have covered a large amount of things but how often do those who go to say a Saturday night service do it so that they can sleep in Sunday and still get in their duty. I have often given those that say that it is not stated what day is to be set aside the benefit of the doubt and say no problem which “DAY” do you set aside. The issue is that time with God has become a burden and time with other believers even more so.

Well enough ranting I just think that the church has lost it moorings and is driven by a wrong view of itself that sees evangelism and unbelievers coming in the door as prime. I would love to see unbelievers come in the door of my church but my focus can not be that or that will be all I cater to, when it comes to church. The call is to discipleship not converts so we need to be about making disciples and not just on one night or day a week.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

More on Christmas

Tom Ascol writes more on Chritmas, Christmas Irony, and I truly think we need to take his words to heart as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. I agree that too often Christmas seems to be an excuse to make up for all of ones neglect of God the rest of the year. Sort of like a trip to the confessional to clean ones slate. However the only one this fools is ourselves as God is not fooled by it all.

I think if one is serious about Christmas maybe the boycott should be that we do not wish to see the word "Christmas" next to any thing remotely material. So instead of being upset at Christmas being absent from advertising we should be upset at it being in the advertising.

In all of this I too do celebrate the birth of our Lord but also see the ever increasing lack of any true ties to the incarnation in most peoples celebrations this time of year.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Christmas and Christians

What to make of Christmas with all of its marketing and focus on consumerism. At a time of year when people are consumed with consumption do we truly want the Christian idea of Christmas intermingled with the world’s pagan notions of Santa Clause and 8 tiny reindeer?

I have been reading Tom Ascol’s blog (1 , 2) in relation to the AFA articles on boycotting stores that are planning, or have already, taken the word Christmas out of their advertising, here are two articles I found on their site (1, 2). I think his views are very well worth contemplating as if one was to really think about it do you want the Christian idea of Christmas placed side-by-side with a Victoria Secret advertisement? Do we all too quickly jump on the boycott wagon when we can only change actions not hearts, since God can only do that.

I was wondering how much the world, at least the US, would change if Christians took Christmas for what it was. Would we stall the economy by not indulging in consumerism? But the other thing is we may find that the number of Christians, those with hearts changed by God, is a much smaller number and not so much would be changed. Either way we as believers need to put forth a different picture of why we celebrate Christmas.

Ascol had some excerpts from sermons by Charles Spurgeon on Christmas and I think they are good to read and ponder as we enter this time of season.

I am not myself boycotting Christmas but I am trying my best to boycott the worlds view of it.

Grace and Peace,


Sunday, November 27, 2005

Doctrines of Grace Misrepresented (Pt 3)

The part of Mr. Cloud’s statement to be dealt with this time is item c:

c. God has ordained that every person who believes on Christ will be saved (Jn. 6:40).

Amen, to say that a believer in the Doctrines of Grace ( I personally do not use the word Calvinism as it carries much baggage as shown by Mr. Cloud) does not believe this is to misunderstand what is believed. If there is one aspect that we do stress it is the compatibility of the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. The fact we have to believe is not in question but where the ability to believe is. Since the question Mr. Cloud has to answer is: How does one dead in sin seek after that which they hate:.

Next Time
d. God has commanded that the gospel be preached to every person (Mark 16:15).

Friday, November 18, 2005

Doctrines of Grace Misrepresented (Pt 2)

This installment really does build on the last as it still deals with the atonement. The statement that Mr. Cloud makes here is:

12b. Jesus died for the sins of all men, not just some who are pre-chosen (1 John 2:1-2).

As I dealt with the word “all” in the last installment I will not deal with that here. Again the issue is what one sees Christ’s propitiation as. Did Christ actually shed blood as a payment for sin for particular people on the cross, as the Bible makes clear , or did He in some way simply sort of pay for sin for some, at the time, undefined people. If you believe, as the Bible clearly states, that Christ’s blood was shed on Calvary as a propitiation for sin (Rom 3:25 and Heb 2:17) then you are left with a choice that either all men are saved (not viable biblically), there are people in Hell that have had their sins paid for (not what a just God would do) or that a particular peoples whose sins were paid for, at the cross, will be saved. If you feel that Christ merely died for the possibility of salvation I am not sure how one would deal with those verses that speak of something actually being accomplished, finished, on the cross. So the statement that Jesus died for the sins of “all” men can not mean the entirety of humanity but must mean He secured the salvation for His sheep and those who are not of His sheep did not have their sins paid for and thus Christ’s sacrifice was actually effectual to save.

It is from looking at the atonement that we see that Christ did not die for the entire world, meaning every person equally, as a means of salvation but died in stead for His sheep from every tribe tongue and nation.

One other thing is that there is a sense in which Christ did die for the entire world but not in the same way, not in a salavific way. The unbeliever does benefit not only from the God’s general grace to all but also they benefit from those that are believers by the way they live and interact. However this is not what most would be trying to say when it is said that “Jesus died for the sins of all men.”

Next time:

c. God has ordained that every person who believes on Christ will be saved (Jn. 6:40).

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Adrian Rogers is with the Lord Today

Adrian Rogers passed away yesterday read the Baptist Press story for what ohters had to say about him. While I may have had some theological differences with Mr. Rogers he was definitely instrumental in the battle for bringing the SBC out of the morass of liberalism.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Book Giveaway

If you would like a chance to win "The Outdoor Bible" (NASB) and another book click below:

November Giveaway

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Doctrines of Grace Misrepresented (Pt 1)

First I would like to say that I do not know Mr. Cloud and actually had not heard of him until led to his site some time ago. The reason for using his comments is that first they are public and thus can be answered in public. Secondly, they represent what I have heard over and over from those that dislike the Doctrines of Grace so I decided to use his comments as a place to start in answering some of his objections. Now I am not sure who even reads this but it is helpful for myself to place my answers in writing so that I can use them at a later date.

So for this entry I would like to deal with his first statement, as a reminder, and give his “biblical answer”:

12. The false teaching that God chooses who will be saved and that only those who are chosen can be saved (Calvinism)
Bible Answer:
a. The Bible says that God wants all men to be saved (1 Tim. 2:3-5; 2 Pet. 3:9).

First of all it is only one interpretation, that I would say is incorrect, that 1 Tim 2:3-5 (actually need to go to verse 8) speak to “all” men as meaning all people period. The greek for “all” has a number of meanings and was the word Paul had to use so we need to interpret “all” from this verse and other verses, in context. Keep in mind that when reading in English what may initially seem plain may not be so plain and the word “all” is one of those words. We use that word “all” of the time, well not really all the time, but even then do we mean all as meaning everything.

When we look elsewhere in God’s word, regarding the atonement, we find that at the cross Christ was a propitiation, took upon the wrath or penalty, for sin (Rom 3:25 and Heb 2:17). From this our choices are, since Christ actually accomplished something on the cross (a propitiation), either all are saved or only a certain, definite, group are saved by His sacrifice on the cross. Based on this the word ”all” can not mean all mankind, meaning every person, since “universalism” is unbiblical.

If you read past verse 5 of 1 Tim 2 it becomes clear that if Christ was an actual ransom (6) for all, meaning all mankind, then all mankind would be saved and we know this is unbiblical. Paul in V 8 makes it even more clear by saying “men everywhere” and not all mankind period. So 1 Tim 2:3-5 would be more clearly read as realating all kinds of men.

As far as 2 Peter 3:9 the audience are believers so the “anyone” and “all” mentioned are believers (”toward us”), and not anyone as meaning all inclusive of all mankind. So God is patient with all His sheep. This is one of those verses where the context of the passage itself defines the words used. What amazes me is that this basic hermeneutic is not utilized.
From both of these verses we see that these verses so often used to deny Calvinism actually simply speak to the salvation of the elect and that the elect spoken of is not limited to any class of people. What is even more disheartening is that using the verses in the way Cloud and other use them speaks more of universalism than anything else and I am sure they would not like this conclusion

The next installment will deal with:

b. Jesus died for the sins of all men, not just some who are pre-chosen (1 John 2:1-2).

Which by the way is answered by some of what is said above about the atonement.

By the way Alan Kurschner is doing the same at Calvinist Gadfly.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Doctrines of Grace Misrepresented

I recently was led to a piece written by David Cloud which only added to my frustration with how the Doctrines of Grace are portrayed. He lists 14 false doctrines the church must confront and lists Calvinism, I use the term Doctrines of Grace as the word “Calvinism” tends to carry much baggage, as number 12. Over the last few months I have listened to sermons by Dr. Jack Graham and Dr. Adrian Rodgers, along with others, and what I take from all this is that people are either naive, unknowing or deceitful (maybe there are other choices I have missed). The reason for this is that all that is said about the Doctrines of Grace is in general blatantly false. Now there are probably people who believe what they proclaim but I would, as would others, place them in the category of Hyper-Calvinist or some other category other than what those holding to the Doctrines of Grace truly believe.

Over the next week or so I would like to deal with each of the six bullet points Mr. Cloud presented so that you can see what the Doctrines of Grace and thus the Bible says. The following are the 6 points Dr. Cloud listed (The six points are what he feels refulte the Doctirnes of Grace):

12. The false teaching that God chooses who will be saved and that only those who are chosen can be saved (Calvinism)
Bible Answer:
a. The Bible says that God wants all men to be saved (1 Tim. 2:3-5; 2 Pet. 3:9).
b. Jesus died for the sins of all men, not just some who are pre-chosen (1 John 2:1-2).
c. God has ordained that every person who believes on Christ will be saved (Jn. 6:40).
d. God has commanded that the gospel be preached to every person (Mark 16:15).
e. The Holy Spirit convicts every sinner and Jesus draws and gives light to every sinner (Jn. 1:9; 12:32; 16:7-8).
f. Believers are the elect of God, but that does not mean that God chooses some to be saved and the others not to be saved. Election is based on God’s foreknowledge (1 Pet. 1:2).

What is even more distressing is that Mr. Cloud places the Doctrines of Grace as detrimental to Christianity as Jehovah’s Witnesses and denying the Trinity.

More to come:

Thursday, November 10, 2005

What is the Church?

While reading around the various blogs I peruse it is becoming increasing clear that the role of the church is severely misunderstood. The views range from; the Church being a refuge from the world where the people lock themselves up and avoid the world at all costs, a monistic view. The view at the other end of the spectrum is that the only purpose of the Church is to make converts at all cost, even at the cost of the discipleship of those in the Church. In the middle are various levels of combinations of either end.

What I find disconcerting is that in all of this the scripture is used sparingly and when used the focus is on one aspect only and they either ignore or miss all of the other aspects of the Church. The seeker sensitive, driven or whatever you call it Church sought to make the Church palatable to the narcissism of the unbeliever. We now have the Emergent Church that desires to see the church change from all of the fluff of the previous generations Church growth methods, a honorable goal. The problem is that the end result is the same in that the church once again is deemed to do what ever is necessary to attract the unbeliever. So both the old and new methods seek to please those that are not His sheep and scripture says that it is only His sheep that here His voice. Actually John 10:4-5 says that those that are not His sheep will turn and run, at least their hearts will.

So the call should be back to the biblical view of the church and that is trans-cultural just as scripture is. We need to seek to spend more time delivering God’s word plainly rather than trying to see what innovation is required to attract those that truly desire to run the other direction. The goal should be to take the church back to a gathered community of communers rather than a crowd of consumers.

I am still working out how to say all of this as I need to make sure the view I see is Biblical and not purely pragmatic. We need to have a right theology that drives a right practice; Orthodoxy should lead to orthopraxy. Instead of looking for the next wave we need to be looking to God’s word. All too often we spend so much time looking at the worlds practices we miss God’s plain commands of scripture.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

News from around the Blogosphere

Wow, it has been a very busy week. You now how you go away for a week and when you come back you still have to do the previous weeks work. Well that has been what this week was like.

However, after catching up on things around the blogosphere, I did not have a consistent connection while at the Ligonier Pastors Conference, the following are some good topics of discussion.

At there is an article on worship entitled: Church-O-Rama or Corporate Worship? that should make us ask how and why we do worship.

Slice of Laodicea looks at The 'Chipper' Church and The Suffering Saints of Yesterday and looks into how the church, especially inthe west, views suffering.

Speaking of suffering, I would suggest listening to the MP3's of the Suffering and the Sovereignty of God Conference at Bethlehem Baptist last month as they are very good.

You can keep updated on Lakeshore Baptist Church in Lakeshore Mississippi at Don Elbourne's site: Locusts and Wild Honey.

Phil Johnson writes about whether the church really thinks that scripture is sufficient: Why not follow the simple strategy God gave us? I really do think how we do church often reveals that we do not think that scripture is sufficient and we actually know better than God based on the churches actions as a whole.

Steve Camp speaks onthe same subject in: The Worship of a "Stuttering God"?

Tom Ascol at the Founders Blog shares that Drs. Patterson Mohler are going to be discussing (or debating) Calvinism at the 2006 Southern Baptist Pastors Conference prior to the 2006 Southern Baptist Convention.

Monday, October 31, 2005

NBC's take on Evangelicals

If you watched the NBC report, In God They Trust, you saw what most of America probably considers Christians to be or at least after this show, if watched, they will think we are. What is it they will think, well, that Evangelicals (whatever that means today) are shallow and superficial and maybe we are as a whole. Why is it that when ever Christians are portrayed on TV we see such people as New Life Church? I am sure that it is because it is mega churches like this that make the biggest noise and it is this noise that draws attention. You can read a review of the show here at

What we need to take from this is that we need to return to the Word of God and live by it regardless of what draws people and press. In the end we are to answer to God and not Tom Brokaw or the American people.

Along these lines there is an interesting survey of churches by the Barna Group that reflects that the majority of protestant churches in the US are small and not large like New Life. However the data does not seem to reflect what we see when it comes to large churches. The survey says that small churches are less theologically correct, my interpretation of what was interpreted, and that larger churches are more correct. The idea that the theology of larger churches being more correct is intriguing as well, since that would not be how I see it. It truly seems that as churches get larger the “me centeredness” gets greater. I do not know how the data was gathered but I would suppose that since the more liberal mainline denominations are dwindling in size that may influence the first statistic and since larger churches may think they are correct and say the right things the second statistic may be influenced by this, I do not know.

The bottom line is that it is shows like the one on NBC that show the world a side of Christianity that is not necessarily reflective of the whole, or is it. If Barna were correct then the theological views of the church as it gets larger is getting more watered down and that does seem to match what I see when I read what Pastors of these larger mega churches have to say.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Ligonier Pastors Conference (Day 3)

Well another good day of messages. Actually one of the outstanding things was the singing of the tree hundred or so men. It actually out did the accompaniment and at the Vespers service of the choir.

In session 1 for the day Mark Devers spoke on God Centered Evangelism. There were for questions posed: 1) Who should evangelize, 2) How should we evangelize, 3) What is evangelism and 4) Why do we evangelize.

To the first question the stress was to those that may feel that evangelism is for a special class of people. So we went to Acts 8 and 11 as well as 1 Peter 3 to see verses that speak to more than just the apostles and thus show the community is involved in evangelism. TO the second question were given 6 guidelines:

1) Do it honestly – Meaning we are not to so called soft cell but be truthful that part of the call of God is to take up ones cross.
2) Tell people with urgency – Since the Bible tells that there is no other way then there truly is little to think about. But also passages such as Psalm 95 speak of an urgency of the message of the Gospel.
3) Tell people with joy – The Gospel is good news because it allows us to see God. This is not a fact of purporting all of the blessings but instead allowing people to see the joy in simply knowing God. So as to see the truth of Heb 11 and that we can endure all for the joy set before us.
4) Use the Bible – This is not because people trust the Bible but what it does do is show that it is not your opinion but comes from a particular source.
5) Our lives are to be a central point of the evangelism – The beauty of God is to be displayed in His people and thus is part of evangelism.
6) Prayer – We need to implore God for salvation since it is God who calls and saves.

One important aspect that was related was that we need to avoid relating sin to helplessness since many people may not get the right connection and instead of dealing with their sin simply seek to eliminate their feelings of helplessness. So their response may not be genuine.

Another question dealt with was :

Why should we evangelize?.
1) Desire to be obedient
2) Having a love for the lost
3) Having love for God – our only sufficient motive is to see God glorified

So we have a God given commission, a God Given Method, a God Given Message and a God Given Motive.

Session two was by RC on God Centered Adult Education with the focus scripture being Hosea 4:1-12. After he started giving a list that was antithetical to what most would see as true it was revealed that he was joking. I quit writing because I wondered where he was going. The basic idea is to teach so that the people can be obedient. Needs may be met but that is not the focus just as the benefits of the Gospel are not to be the focus. We can not guarantee results as we do not know the will of God. The bottom line was to help adults so that they can have knowledge but knowledge for knowledge sake.

Session three was by Derek Thomas and was on God Centered Mercy Ministry and he used Acts 6:1-7 as the focus passage. While it is important to minister outside the church we do need to make sure that mercy ministry starts in the household of God. This was not to detract from outside ministry but was so as not to ignore internal ministry. The struggle I can see is making sure that the church does not become cloistered in its own little corner. Two observations were given with the first being that the Churches greatest need and priority is the proclamation of the Gospel so as to nourish and stabilize. The second observation was, as I said above, that Mercy Ministry begins in the household of God.

The day ended with a Vespers service. I need to look up what Vespers is as far as a definition. Basically it was a more formal Wednesday night service. The message was from Galatians 4:1-7 and was very good.

This has been a great conference and not only a help with the messages but also very encouraging talking to all of the other pastors that were here from various denominations. So again thanks to those that helped me come and my wife for letting me go.

So tomorrow it off to home and since I leave the Hotel at Noon (9am PST) and get home at 10:50 PM (PST) it is going to be a long day.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Ligonier Pastors Conference (Day 2)

Well I have given up on using the internet connection in my room as it just does not seem to work as it should. It makes my dial-up seem like DSL in comparison.

I am just astounded by all that Ligonier provides as the meals have been very good and to top this off they gave everyone a gift certificate for merchandise, they are very generous.

The other aspect of this that has been encouraging is that while there are many different denominations here most every one holds to the Doctrines of Grace with a few working through them. Then there is the fact that every now and then there are friendly jabs between Mark Dever, who is a Southern Baptist, and Derek Thomas and RC, who are Presbyterians, over baptism.

Today’s sessions focused on the service with the first session of the day on having a God Centered Service. One question that was proposed was to ask a visitor or a member if the service was God centered or not. The issue is if the service is centered on the audience then in essence that is who we worship. So this speaks volumes to the so called seeker sensitive services. Needless to say the issue is that who is the service for the congregants or the visitor and the answer from a biblical sense is the congregants. So that is who we trying to lead in worship of God not the visitor who may or may not know God. So here are three aspects of a God Centered Worship Service:

1) God Centered worship services have preaching of God’s word at the center.
2) Every necessary element of a Christian service is commanded by God.
3) The service is to encourage God centeredness.

Session 2 was on God Centered Music and was given by Derek Thomas. HE gave what he called the Ten Commandments of Music:
1) Aim to ensure the music helps one to worship God.
2) Aim to insure the music aids the corporate worship (not individual worship).
3) Do it well
4) Be sensitive to appropriate musical forms – words and music need to be married together.
5) Be culturally different – The church ought to be different
6) Avoid crassness on the one hand elitism on the other
7) Introduce new tunes with care
8) Grow to treasure a good hymnal and use as a devotional aid.
9) Take charge of the music – The Elder/Pastor is the true worship leader
10) Evaluate what you do regularly.

All of these are good ideas to contemplate when setting up a worship service and particularly that the Pastor/Elder is ultimately in charge of what happens, even if you have Worship Minister.

Session 3 was given by RC and was titled: Surely God is in this Place. The most important question to ask when dealing with the worship service is: What pleases God. We are not to focus on what pleases us which is what usually is done at the expense of doing what pleases God. Again the point was made that we are not called by Scripture to structure worship for the ungodly.

So this was another good, if not long day. More to follow as long as I can find a way to get on line.

Ligonier Pastors Conference (Day 1)

Well after a windy rainy flight, with much lightening I finally got to Orlando on Sunday night.

The first session on Monday concerned the title of the conference: Overcoming the Eclipse of God. With the issue being that an eclipse does not destroy that which it eclipses but instead obscures it. So RC related how this has been done in our day in the area of: 1) Our understanding of nature and 2) Our understanding of Humanity.. With regards to the first point it is a Deistic view of God that has prevailed that allows God to be there but not part of all that happens. We see this especially clear in the Open Theism argument. So the it is not enough for people to believe in God but they need to believe in God correctly. The second part dealt with man’s view of man that obscures God. In this RC basically described the Doctrines of Grace and how it truly does offend humanity since man has such a high view of himself even if they claim God as being sovereign, it is a limited sovereignty.

In the second session Derek Thomas spoke about the “Target Audience in Preaching and was not so much speaking about crafting sermons to the audience but reminding us that we do have an audience and the sermon needs to be relatable to them. So three things were put forth to ask: 1) What does the passage say?, 2) What does the passage say we do? and 3)What redirection may need to be done? All of this to help the preacher keep in mind the audience in all of this. Also he reminded us that preaching should not be divorced from pasturing so that all of this can take place in person and from the pulpit.

Session 3 was given by RC Sproul and dealt with Preaching from the OT and gave a good example. Being that this is a subject that is near and dear to me I have to admit there was not as much light shed on the subject as there may have been if I had not already spent a great deal of time on this in the past.

The last session for the day was on Expositional Preaching by Mark Dever. Many may already know this, but I will give it anyway, the definition given was that the point of the passage is the point of the sermon. Other good insights were:

- The church needs to reformed by the word of God or it will become deformed.
- The basic way to feed congregations is through the exposition of God’s word.
- That preaching is a picture of the Gospel in that the preacher speaks as God speaks to us and just as the congregation is the recipient and does not add to the sermon so this represents us as we add nothing to God and His word.
- Our calling is to deliver God’s word and not create it.

Overall the conference has been great and it is an interesting conglomeration of denominations with way more Baptists than I may have thought. This has led to good conversation and insights. Ligoniers has done all they can do to make people comfortable and have done a great job.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Off to the Ligonier Pastors Conference

Well I am off to the Ligonier Ministries National Pastors Conference in Orlando Florida dark and early tomorrow. I will try and do a review each day. The topics covered are:

Monday - God Centered Preaching
Tuesday - God Centered Worship
Wednesday - God Centered In........ (Evangelism, Adult Education, and Mercy Ministry)

The speakers will be; Derek Thomas, Mark Dever and of course R.C. Sproul.

I am really looking forward to it and am very grateful to the gift of my flight so that I could afford to go.

So be looking for an update Monday night or Tuesday morning.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Beyond the Gates of Splendor - DVD

I just watched the documentary Beyond the Gates of Splendor and highly recommend it. For those of you who do not know about this movie it is about the five missionaries (Jim Elliot; Nate Saint, Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully) who were killed in Ecuador in 1956 as they were trying to meet with the Auca Indians who were one of the most violent tribes around. The information behind the missionaries and their families is inspiring but the story that followed the killing was even more so.

The story that followed the “spearing” of the missionaries truly shows how God works in all things as the documentary shows how the Indians that were involved in the killing became believers and friends of Elisabeth Elliot (Jim Elliot’s Wife) and Rachel Saint (Nate Saint’s Daughter). It is truly a story of God working in the hearts of the people and making a change that only God could do. In the documentary there are two anthropologists that I would suspect do not see God doing the work but never the less speak about how for as long as could be remembered the Aucas were a violent tribe and within months of the two women going to live in their tribe things changed. The anthropologists relate this change to new information being given to the Indians, which is true, but it is much deeper than that.

One minor warning on the movie is that I does have what is described as “National Geographic nudity” since it has actual footage of the Aucas. My kids (15,13, 11)watched it with little problem.

In January of 2006 there is a full length movie, End of the Spear, about this coming out and I am very much looking forward to seeing it. Reading about Jim Elliot and the other missioners is one of the most inspirational things, apart from reading the Bible, that I have done.

Here are some of the books you can read on this topic:

Through Gates of Splendor
Shadow of the Almighty
The Savage My Kinsmen
The Journals of Jim Elliot

Jungle Pilot

Monday, October 17, 2005

New Kind of Christian - Concluded

Well I finished McLaren’s book A New Kind of Christian and have to say it was frustrating to read at times. As I said at the beginning of this I am sure that my reading of McLaren’s journey is tainted by seeing where he has arrived so far.

Instead of spending much time on the last chapters I thought I would summarize my thoughts as best I can. First, I would say that McLaren is reacting to much of what many dislike about the church. Such things as consumerism and a lack of the church living as it preaches are things that I would say are issues that need to be addressed. The problem is that McLaren attributes these issues to Modern mindset and seems to see a Post-modern mindset as the antidote.

Second is that throughout this book it seems that either he is unsure of key concepts as the atonement or instead does not want to be accused of proclaiming some absolute truth. This is no different than when I saw him questioned on Larry King about homosexuality and answered, well non-answered, that any answer he gave would hurt someone so he did not answer.

If a New Kind of Christian is to be of a Post-Modern breed then the sort of double talk of McLaren will seem to be the norm. The other issue is the topic of propositional truths that scripture proclaims. The Post-Modern person dislikes these truths as it places them in a bind and does not leave an alternative and those trying to accommodate this in the end sacrifice the scriptures.

What I also see is that in an attempt to counteract a consumerism that is rampant in the church the New Kind of Christian is in the end just as much a consumer and the church reaching them is driven to provide what is sought after. All in all things are not made better but basically stay the same but in a new format.

I do think it is important that those dealing with today’s culture read something from McLaren, even if it is difficult to digest at times, so as to see the direction that I would guess many seminaries will all too soon head. The seminary of NEO’s dreams is not to far away if it is not hear already somewhere in some form or another.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

What can you do with $48 a month?

You can find in various places (see below) comments on the statements of Bailey Smith Ministry that for $48/month they can save a soul. By the way this does seem much cheaper than the $50,000 for the power team (article is near the bottom of archive page). The gist of their sales pitch is that others spend much more and that they are good enough at it that they can cut the cost. May be they are the Sam’s Club of Salvation. They must deal in bulk quantities of souls. Actually this is not funny and I probably should not even joke as this ministry, if you call it that, has reduced the work of Christ on the cross to a dollar amount. I know he is not the first but never the less this is terrible.

Not only is the Gospel reduced to a life enhancement addition but it is not available for a discount over other place salvation is dispensed. This so much plays into the SBC focus on baptisms and membership and the focus on numbers. What is generated, and Tom Ascol has done a good job of pointing this out, is place an emphasis on people getting wet, walking an aisle, saying a prayer or signing a card over actually becoming a disciple.

While I seriously see issues with the Emergent church this is one of the questions they ask and while their answer is lacking there does need to be an answer. How can so many profess belief and so many live without any sign of that belief changing them. We need to return to the Gospel and regardless of the times and culture stay true to scripture. The Gospel is about God and not us and once we see this we may be headed down the right path. Pray that the pragmatism of the world, "If it works it must be true or right", is discarded for the truth of God's word.

Bailey Smith (They have now removed page. See article regarding this)
Founders Article #1 and Article #2
James White

Monday, October 10, 2005

Piper's New Book: God is the Gospel

I just finished reading John Piper's new book: God is the Gospel and I think he hits the nail right on the head when it comes to the Gospel. I will write more later but the basic idea is that all too often the Gospel is peddled as a sort of life enhancement product when in reality the Gospel is all about God. Piper asks the question:

The critical question for our generation—and for every generation—
is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the
friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and
all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties
you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no
human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with
heaven, if Christ was not there?

At the heart of this question is what are we searching for, God or the things we can get from God. The focus needs to be on God and while other benefits may come they are not the focus or reason for our joy in the Gospel, God is.

I really think this can effect how we live, especially in the face of adversity. If we are looking for stuff then when things are bad we will stray but if the main focus is God we will be less likely to stray. I was reading Job for a Sunday morning class I teach and was looking at 19:25-27:

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me! (ESV)

While this verse deals with bodily resurrection I think it also reveals Job’s heart. In the midst of his adversity he was not contemplating a new body for all of it’s inherent benefits, health and such, but instead he focused on seeing God.

I will try and reflect more on this but I really do think that how we focus on God is an antidote to the consumerism that is rampant in the church today. This then can radically impact how we preach and what we preach.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Praying for Persecution

I found this article in World Magazine very enlightening: Praying for Persecution. Basically while we, well at least a large segment, in America are praying for health, wealth, the good life and the same for others such as China, quite the opposite is being prayed by others. A leader in underground church said the following: "We, in fact, are praying that the American church might taste the same persecution so revival would come to the American church like we have seen in China."

Does China see something we do not, I think so, and this speaks of me as well. Maybe our prayer is not for the removal of persecution but the God given power to persevere through it and for revival in the midst of it. We should take this to heart and see if we see things as those who live in the midst of daily persecution and at the same time exponential growth in the spread of the Gospel.

Monday, October 03, 2005

More Travels around the Blogosphere

The Institute for Creation Research reflects on the Crystal Cathedral latest extravaganza: Once Upon All Time: Creation, as well as comments at Slice of Laodicea.

Tim Challies writes on the much ignored idea of repentance: Repentance and Evangelicalism. All to often the idea of repentance is either ignored, glossed over or redefined in some manner as to minimize its importance.

Greg Koukl writes on Doug Pagitt’s post on John 14:6 and reveals the issues that appear to be standard practice with much of the Emergent Conversation crowd.

Phil Johnson’s article on retired missionaries Herb and Ruth Clingen is well worth reading. I always find it beneficial to read about those who seek to take the word of God to the end’s of the world as I sit here in my comfortable life in the US.

Tom Ascol at relates a story of the “Power Team” and creating a Buzz, I mean Hum, in your service. There is a similar article at with more info on the Power Team.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Emerging Questions

I was reading the comments to Phillip Johnson’s comic book cover relating to “The Emerging Conversation” and found one of the comments interesting. The question was asked about whether Phil had had informal dialogue with the individuals who theology and practice are in question. Since the writings of people like McLaren are public and a personal audience is not so easy a task it would seem we have to let the authors writings speak for themselves. It is also true that the more that they write, McLaren for example, the more clear, or at least as clear as a “Post-Modern” writer can be, their theology becomes.

It was also mentioned that the leaders of this movement, sorry conversation, are asking good questions. That may or may not be true but my issue has been that in the midst of this conversation they are dragging unsuspecting people into the abyss. It is much different for individuals to ask probing questions and deal with the issues but when the conversation is played out in front of an audience and that audience becomes sort of the test ground, as pastors we would seem to be culpable for leading the sheep astray. Some time back I wrote on some disturbing quotes from Rob Bell. I do not say we should not question what we believe; I for one have done so and stand even firmer today than before on many things because of this. The issue is that as a Pastor when this is done in public there are many that will simply take the Pastors answers and make them their own. We might say that this is their problem as they should be more discerning but that is not how people work.

It is OK for McLaren, Bell and others to question things but simply because one is questioning something does not make that which is questioned wrong. This is where the problem really starts as all too often the questions are asked because it is assumed that the previous conclusions are based on a wrong construct, modernism. So right from the start it is assumed that what was previously thought is wrong in some way and needs to be refashioned some how.

Bottom line is we can and should ask question but as Pastors it needs to be done much differently than individuals because the consequences of what we teach and where we lead are much more serious.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

New Kind of Christian? (Prt. 3)

Here are some further thoughts on Brian McLaren’s A New Kind Of Christian

CH. 9

In this chapter I would agree that I to have a dislike for the consumer packaging of religion that seems to permeate church life. But from here the conversation goes to allowing for one to be a Christian and culturally a Buddhist or Muslim which is all well and good to say but can it really be true when the scriptures seem to speak of salvation being a life changing event. Daniel in Babylon saw a need to be counter cultural when it collided with his belief in God. This all seems to either misunderstand or be naive about the belief systems that are trying to be melded in some way.

Over and over I see a goal of constantly equating Christianity as we know as intimately tied to modernity and defining modernity as either wrong or passed by. By doing this NEO seems to step right in with an answer and even though the answers are either vague or wrong they are to be accepted because the alternative is to be modern, which is wrong.

CH. 10

Again I find areas to agree on but the reaction to them is different. Such as I agree that the attitude of many towards the Gospel is selfishness in that it turns it into more of a self help program than a God glorifying event. However, the solutions provided by NEO are not adequate or the only possibility.

When NEO is asked about getting into heaven (salvation) his answer or actually non-answer seemed was very Mclarenish. His minimalizing of hell is in contrast of the amount of scripture that speaks of Hell as real place. The description of hell that comes from the reading is that of simply being heaven with the wrong glasses on. Basically heaven and hell are the same place but it is only heaven for those who want to be there and it is hell for those that do not desire heaven. So what is accomplished is making hell no more than being at a Sex Pistols concert when you desire to be at a Bach recital. But the bible speaks of hell as a much more terrifying place and it should not be minimized to accommodate the mindset of the sinner.

CH. 11

In chapter 11 again hell is relegated to the nebulous realm of imagery and blames the orthodox understanding on modernity. By now it has gotten old to continue to see that whenever the orthodox view of scripture is disliked it is simply thrown out as a consequence of modernity. When NEO begins to equate cohabitating and sin with the early church issues with Kosher and non-kosher he seems to be mixing categories. Also it would seem that the concept of accepting people in sin as is shown may prohibit church discipline as that would be judgmental and harm the offenders person some how. However did not Paul deal with the same issues in Corinth and even kick a church goer out for his own good? The Bible does have a moral code and the letters to the Corinthians show Paul’s concern for the moral state of his charges.

This all said I do agree where it is mentioned that sin is all to often categorized and not dealt with. But the alternative is not to ignore the issues as this is even more harmful. This is the usual tactic of those supporting homosexuality as they relate how adultery permeates the church and is just as sinful but is not dealt with as readily. Well the answer is not that both are ignored but that the church needs to more seriously deal with all sin.

CH. 12

This was one chapter that got an “Amen” and an “Oh Man.” The amen was in reference to the complaint that the gospel is all too often packaged ass a slick sales pitch or that so called friendship evangelism is often a ruse. So that in the case of friendship evangelism quite often once the prey is seen as no longer viable as a convert they are dismissed. While this may be true of general contacts as in the analogy of shaking the dust from ones feet this does not fit the bill when one seeks friendship just to sell God somehow. The problem in the narrative is that the answer to this is incomplete and lacking.

This is where the “Oh Man” comes in. The Gospel is not defined except as what it is more than. This is a way to say that one side is wrong without really answering the question as to what is right. I guess I really \do not expect much more than this since post modernism is notorious for not only denying there is an absolute truth but staying as far away from it as possible.

More to follow as time allows.


More on God and Disasters

In reading an article by Derek Thomas titled Contemplating Katrina there is an interesting quote from Dr. John Sanders:

God, in grace, grants humans significant freedom to cooperate with or work against God's will for their lives, and he enters into dynamic, give and take relationships with us....God takes risks in this give-and-take relationship, yet he is endlessly resourceful and competent in working toward his ultimate goals. Sometimes God alone decides how to accomplish these goals. On other occasions, God works with human decisions, adapting his own plans to fit the changing situation.

What is interesting is that if, as Thomas does, this quote is prefaced by the words “Open Theism” most would scoff at it but if it is left without the preface, with no mention of Open Theism, many people would probably not see an issue with Sander’s conclusions. This speaks to the readers misunderstandings of God more than Sanders hiding of what he believes. But, it also shows the danger of Open Theism in that it seems to be the destination that people arrive at who try and save God from the ills of this world.

I have read a book, well a good portion of the book, that I was given as a refutation/alternative of/to the Doctrines of Grace. This book by Marston and Forster, God's Strategy in Human History, uses much of the language of open theism but it seems that this is secondary to many readers who comment on the authors conclusions. Actually the statement has been made to me, when I showed the Open Theism leanings of the authors, that we need to take the good from the bad. The problem is that the conclusions of the authors are generated from their apparent willingness to see Open Theism as viable and thus are based on the bad.

The point is that more and more it appears that the attempts of finite man to save the credibility of an infinite God lead to a truncated, even often a heretical, view of God and invariably an incorrect Gospel.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

More on the Emergent Church

As work has impinged on my reading, how dare it, I do intend to finish my reading of “A New Kind of Christian” by Brian McLaren however difficult it is to do. It is difficult not so much because it is a hard read in terms of language; it is not, but because of its content. I am sure if I had read this when it first came out I would have probably seen the same issues but when reading it now and having read some other articles and listen to McLaren I can see that what is revealed as a journey in the book seems now to be where McLaren is at. Unfortunately, as is the case with many “Emergent” pastors, it is hard to tell where he is other than not being orthodox.

In the mean time I ran across this article, EMERGING WITH A CHRISTIAN VIEW OF SCRIPTURE, which I am sure will offend some of those who embrace the Emergent Conversation, remember it is not a movement, because he takes a position and that position is against the direction the “conversation” is going. I guess I see this whole Emergent issue as very dangerous because it seems to play into the next step of the seeker sensitive church concept and this step is ever farther from the truth, by the way there is truth in scripture and we can know it.


Saturday, September 24, 2005

Catechism for the Semi-Pelagian

Was led to this: Semi-Pelagian Catechism.

It is funny unless it is how you view things. Here is an example of one of the catechisms:

19. Q: What are the means given whereby we may save large crowds of souls in a spectacular manner?

A: Such a spectacle is accomplished by means of well-publicized Crusades and Revivals which (in order that none may be loath to attend) are best conducted anywhere else but in a Church.

Much food for thought as some may not see this as humorous and to tell the truth there is a side of me that does not see this as funny because it does represent some people beliefs.

Catechism #1 speaks volumes to who is supreme man or God in the semi-pealgian view of things:

1. Q: What is the chief end of each individual Christian?
A: Each individual Christian's chief end is to get saved. This is the first and great

Friday, September 23, 2005

Love and Truth

I read Tom Ascol’s blog on Love and Truth and was convicted that I need to use more love in the leading of others to see the truth, patience would help also. However, there are times where love may not appear as love to the world today. It would seem that the conviction is that all too often I jump straight to the correction and rebuking (which still can be done lovingly, at least in the eyes of God). Then there are those times when the differences on a subject comes to a point where the truth becomes compromised and while we need to be loving it may begin to appear as unloving to some in how the situation is dealt with.

It is when this wall of disagreement is reached that some may forgoe conviction on doctrine and just throws their arms up and gives in to the temptation of minimilizing truth. If we believe there is truth we need to stand up for it but make sure we do so in a God glorifying way, that is the tough part at times. But, we also need to make sure that truth is not compromises in the manner Post-Modernism seem to do. Making truth a relative thing is good for no one as in the end it is what we believe that drives what we do and how we do it.

So the struggle is how to stand for something yet not stand on people. I am not sure I have the answer except I do see that there may be times when it is better to divide over a matter and still keep love in tact than to let things fester to the point that reconciliation becomes even more difficult. When I say divide I am not sure how this works but the main point is that if a point of doctrine comes to a place where there are differences that are irreconcilable and the convictions of both parties are at a point where fellowship is hindered in the context of the local church then I think separation may be best. It is much easier to hold differences with those we do not work side by side with every day than it is for those we are in fellowship with regularly.

So this is all a thought in process and it eventually works itself out in real time as things progress but I do pray that when differences come to a head that we all realize that it is God’s church, God’s Truth and, if we are truly believers, God’s children. We need to gaurd all of these and not just one as they are all intertwined.

Grace and Peace,

Monday, September 19, 2005

Enter to win a Bible and a book

If you would like a chance to win a Bible and a book from click on the picture below.

Sept Giveaway

While there check out the blog as there are some good articles and book reviews.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Around the Blogosphere

Various items from around the blogging world:

Phil Johnson writes on the issue of primary and secondary doctrines. Article 1, 2 and 3 .

Tim Challies continues his review of Mark Driscoll's Radical Reformission.

Steve Camp speaks on the SBC and the Doctrines of Grace.

Tom Ascol writes on Reforming Churches.

Joe Thorn lists things we should repent of in our blogging: Confession for Theoblogians .

Justin Taylor summarizes a sermon from John Piper: The Supremacy of Christ in an Age of Terror .

Check here to keep up to date on Lakeshore Baptist in Mississippi.

Grace and Peace,


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Are Acts of Nature in God's Will?

Here is an article that speaks of a Rick Warren interview on Good Morning America. It seems that not only is God somehow not involved in natural disasters but they are also not necessarily His will. It seems that once a Christian leader is in front of the press they can not get themselves to rely on scripture as it may upset people. But the truth is scripture will upset people, but it is the uneasiness that is created that God often uses to reveal Himself.

Also, interesting that in Rick Warren’s comments he moves from a natural disaster to “free will.” What do the two have in common here as it does not really answer the question of God’s part in Hurricane Katrina? Of course I am sure many of those faithful “Purpose Driven” devotees will nod in agreement instead of asking what scripture says.

I think the “Down Grade” of Spurgeon’s time that has been ebbing in for some time is now fully upon us. It seems most of those Evangelical pastors, not all thankfully, that are prominent find it more palatable to minimize the hard sayings of scripture for greeting card platitudes. But as in Spurgeon’s time even in the midst of this minimalizing of God’s word we can still know God is in charge regardless of the claims of what the pundits proclaim in the news.

Grace and Peace,


Monday, September 12, 2005

New Kind of Christian? (Prt 2)

After spending a good part of the week in Seattle on a project for work here is a continuation of my thoughts, see part 1, on the reading of Brian Mclaren’s A New Kind of Christian.

CH. 6
Early on NEO seems to use the straw man that many today use, that of finding those who do not apply the scripture correctly and applying it to all. Of these arguments is the often used one of slavery. To say that because some Christians condoned slavery all that claim the bible as authoritative are wrong is using a straw man that burns easily. To say that Christians that claim the authority of scripture do not recognize the so called traditional grid they supposedly see scripture through is a ploy to stop an argument by simply saying one does not see what they think they see.

When NEO speaks to fallibility of man and thus them not really being able to interpret scripture authoritatively he is waling down the popular post-modern mindset. To deny absolute truth and being able to discern it denies what the bible says is truth and absolute. One cannot simply state that the only way one sees this is because they are looking through so called modern glasses. By trying to move from the authority of scripture to Jesus the route used neglects the fact that scripture is where we see and hear God. So scripture can be the foundation because it is the written revelation fo God and thus God’s word to us.

CH. 7
To imply that those that seek concrete answers from scriptures are not “humble seekers” is make an unnecessary conclusion. But, from Mclaren’s view (I mean NEO) this needs to be done as it would not fit nicely for there to be answers that would make something right and other things wrong.

I agree with the thought that scripture is often turned into moralisms but that only speaks to a wrong understanding of scripture and not necessarily a modernistic view. Even if it was a modernistic view this does not presuppose that a post-modern reading is better. The proposed reading of scripture very much sounds like the reader-response reading method which allows the text to say what ever you want as ling as it says it to you (whatever that means).

CH. 8
As we move on we seem to be getting into the ever deepening quagmire of post-modernism. To imply that truth is some moving nebulous thing allows for people to generate their own truth and that truth can not be questioned because it is the individual’s truth. This chapter reveals what I seemed to hear when I heard Mclaren on Larry King in that he does not want to answer anything that may place him on one side of an issue or the other. Thus the ploy is not to answer because in the minds of the post-modern world it seems that there are no real answers. In response to some of what is said in chapter 8 I need ask: Why does cultural change in truth have to drive scriptural truth?

When NEO speaks of a non combative way of sharing one’s faith I would have to say this is entirely possible without entering the post-modern world. It is true that Christians have begun to rely to greatly on apologetics and less on God but this again is not reason to abandon reason and truth.

It is in this chapter that I think NEO and thus Mclaren reveals a gospel that is not the gospel. NEO says on page 65: “And I really believe that not one person will be in real contact with God the Father apart from the work and wisdom and love of Jesus.” But what does it mean to be in “real contact with God” and where is Christ’s sacrifice for sin in this message. Is the gospel to NEO a life enhancement program? Interestingly this is much the same view of the gospel espoused by the seeker sensitive movement of which many in the Emergent church seem to be reacting against. The more things change the more they stay the same.

Well that is all for now more to follow. I realize that some of what I have said needs to be built on more but this is simply my thoughts as I read through the book. As I read more I see more of what is so dangerous in the goal of many in the Emergent movement, that of reaching a post-modern culture. In trying to reach a people the church begins to morph into post-modernity, which contrary to NEO is not a good thing.

Grace and Peace,

Thursday, September 08, 2005

New Kind of Christian? (Prt. 1)

I am reading Brian Mclaren’s A New Kind of Christian as it seems to be important to the “Emergent Church” conversation. I have to be honest in that my reading is jaded by having seen Mclaren on TV and also having read a review or two prior to my reading. I would also like to say that one possible response to this review is that I just do not get it and I would like to affirm that; I do not get it. But it is not that I do not get what Mclaren is saying, I do not get how people can be so consumed by what is said. Another argument is that I was not supposed to read the book as a theology dissertation, that would be so modern of me, but as a story. However, even stories carry the author’s presuppositions and theology as does A New Kind of Christian.

Mclaren lets us know from the begging that this story tells much about his disgruntlement with where he was in his ministry. So I take it that in this story he is both NEO, even though he is supposed to represent those that have guided him, and Dan since one side is where he was and the other is where he is going. What I intend to do is to give brief thoughts on some chapters. These thoughts came as I read and represent the initial thoughts and not some over thought out response. The more I thnk about what I read the more concerned I become.

So here goes.

That Mclaren refers to himself of being sick of being a pastor and almost sick of being a Christian (ix) says to me he did have issues to deal with as we all do at one time or another. But to be sick of being a Christian says that maybe he had a misunderstanding of what a true Christian was. He gives three possibilities but he seems to leave off a fourth which would be to simply to re-evaluate what he considered a Christian and a Pastor to be and see if his sickness was caused by a wrong understanding. This may be part of his third possibility but his third possibility seems to assume he needed to move on.

On page xiv in point 5 he refers to a needed conversion to having a 21st century faith but I would say the goal is to have truth faith, a faith that transcends time. Why is it assumed that because there is a problem today that we need to move forward, maybe we need to move back? I am not necessarily saying this is what we need but it needs to be an option.

Ch. 2
The idea that faith is related to ones time period may be how things are but it is not because of the faith but because of misunderstandings. Scripture does not speak of a changeable faith, with regards to time, but speaks of a faith from an unchangeable God. So the idea we need to move on from modernism as a world view does not necessitate Christianity changing because modernism is passé. Just as likely is that Christianity needs to re-evaluate cultures effect on it and corrects it’s course.

CH. 3
Modernity is pictured as an aggressor and that postmodernity is an asylum from this aggression but the true story is that Christianity needs to be the asylum and not any world view (other than a true Christian World view). Just because Dan is pictured as feeling comfortable with the thought of postmodernity does not make it the haven it is being portrayed as. Truth is that I am sure that the decadence of many periods in history felt comfortable for some people but that did not make it right.

CH. 4
The whole idea that Dan was shocked by a past teacher saying there was not Christian world view and now feeling it was right does seem to show a path that the book is heading. The fact that we can not know all things and that people can be influenced by the age they are in does not mean there is no absolute truth and that Scripture cannot be interpreted apart from ones culture. If the idea that the Christianity of modernity was on the way out may be true but that just says that Christianity should not be tied to a culture position but rely solely on scripture. So I would say this is all the more reason to avoid molding how one lives out ones faith to the times.

CH. 5
To see the divisions between groups such as Catholics and protestants on the road to disappearing neglects or maybe foresees the minimalizing of theology. In many ways this is seen in the politicization of belief in that many times the theological differences between groups is minimalized to save some cause. Even so called conservative Christians tend to go this route and rationalize the greater gain is in saving something, except the gospel.

Neo uses the picture of Luther seeking change (41) but I would say that Luther sought change of culture through scripture while Neo seems to want culture to change scripture. There also seems to be a move to divorce the Holy Spirit from scripture (42) and thus ones feelings of being “moved by the spirit” trumps all things.

Well that is where I will stop for now. I will say that the book does make me ask the question of whether modernity has influenced my views of scripture and thus what being a Christian is. This only means, though, that I would need to correct beliefs and not take on the cultures change. If scripture denies the culture so should we.

More to follow.

Grace and Peace,


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Helping with Disaster Relief.

If you would like to give to the disaster relief effort you can do so through NAMB (North American Mission Board) click on Disaster Relief logo on the right. You can also look at other ways to help as outlined on the NAMB website.

Grace and Peace,

Monday, September 05, 2005

Contrasting Views on God and Katrina

Here are two contrasting articles on Hurricane Katrina:

1) Katrina: Not God's Wrath--or His Will: By Tony Campolo

2) Hurricane Katrina: By Phillip Ryken

If you read both articles you see a vastly differing view of God and how He relates to disasters. Over the years I have not been impressed with Tony Campolo’s use of scripture and how it is made to fit his social construct, which is ever changing. To appeal to a Rabbi over the clear teaching of all of scripture would seem to be very postmodern. The fact that the word “omnipresent is not mentioned in scripture does not deny it is an attribute of God. The entire panoply of God’s word shows a God that is all powerful. I wonder if the sentiments that Campolo’s espouses make him feel confident in God. This is the same tact taken by the “Open Theists” and the result is a helpless god (not capitalized for a reason) that is not able to do anything but react to unforeseen and overwhelming circumstances. You need to search all of the scriptures yourself and read them as a totality of God’s revelation (OT and NT, the Rabbi stops short of this) and the picture that presents itself is of a God that “omnipresent” and not taken aback by such occurrences as the last few weeks. To use the straw man of God has no part in evil is nothing new but the truth is those of us that see God’s hand in everything do not see God has doing evil.

Compare this article with that of Phillip Ryken’s and you see a more clear picture of the God of the Bible. The second article gives us actions to take but does not try and protect God from the everyday occurrences He has control over. But we also see a God that by being part of all occurrences in some manner (this is where there is a measure of mystery) leaves us with a God that, while we may not now the reason for the occurrence, is still God and has His reasons for all that happens. To leave the “bad” things that happen to some outside influence is not the answer and is not biblical. Job understood this (Job 2:10) and so should we.

Grace and Peace,


Sunday, September 04, 2005

Doing what was right in their own eyes

We finished looking at Samuel and Kings today and it is more amazing every time I study the Old Testament how relevant it is today. Throughout all of Samuel and Kings there are a succession of kings but the end result is failure. The people wanted a king but there eyes were not on the true King. In the Hebrew canon Samuel follows Judges which ends in 21:25 by relating how Israel had no king and the people did as they saw fit. So Samuel/Kings continues the theme that the people still truly had no King since they constantly strayed from the true King and thus did what they thought was right to them, and not God. This is as true today as it was then, that when our focus is taken off of the true King we all turn to doing what we feel is right. Just look at the problems that have happened in New Orleans, when any semblance of restraint is removed and peoples focus is on themselves and nothing else..

Another issue is that in Samuel/Kings the people saw the success of the peoples around them and wanted to be just like them. This was the original reason they wanted a king so what was different now. They not only thought that an earthly king would solve their problems but when they saw the success of those nations around them they wanted to be just like them and thus did just as they did. How often today does the adage “if it works it must be true” lead people and even the church to take on the characteristics of the culture that surrounds it. We also tend to want to solve problems as the world does and rely on things other than the King of Kings to deal with the issues. Just as Israel wanted a king to be like others around them and to solve there problems how often do we as Christians think that having the correct politician in office will solve our problems.

Just as with the Israelites we as believers need to rely on the true King. This does not mean we cannot be involved in other things but it does mean this is incidental to putting out true faith in God rather than man. Let us not be like Israel and put our focus on the true King and weighing all we think against the word of God. Throughout Samuel/Kings the prophets who represent the word of God are ever present and so the word of God needs to be with us today.

Let us do what is right in the eyes of God not what is right in our own eyes.

Grace and Peace to You,


Friday, September 02, 2005

More on God and Divine Judgment

Here are some other articles on God and Divine judgment, with an emphasis on the current struggle people have with the results of Katrina and God's part in it all:

Matthew Hall: The Mystery of Providence
Sam Storms: Katrina, Common Grace, and a Theory about the End of the Age
Nelmezzo: Of judgment, hurricanes and pointed fingers
Joe Thorn: Is This Hell?

I will post other articles as I come across them.


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Starbucks and Evangelism

I knew there was a good reason to go to Starbucks. Read Steve Camp’s article:
The Church of St. Arbucks ...their coffee cup is brewing up strong messages.


Wednesday, August 31, 2005

God and Evil

With the destruction caused by hurricane Katrina and the not to distant effects of the tsunami in Indonesia and the surrounding areas the issue of evil comes to the forefront again and how God is involved. It seems that many try and distance God from the acts of evil in this world because they somehow feel God needs protection. The end result is for some to formulate a theology such a with Open Theism that on the surface answers some peoples emotional questions but leaves an even bigger void than it tried to somehow fill. At the crux of this is the idea that people want a certain type of God as evidenced by the ever popular statement, “if that is how God is then he is not the God I would like” , or some form of that statement. I totally agree that there is no evil in God but the issue is much deeper than that as we do need to reconcile God’s sovereignty with the existence of evil in the world instead of making ways to ignore the complexity of the issue. The Goodness of God and the Reality of Evil by Albert Mohler and Is God Less Glorious Because He Ordained that Evil Be? and Tsunami, Sovereignty, and Mercy by John Piper are good articles on this subject and I would also recommend the book Still Sovereign by Thomas R. Schreiner & Bruce Ware.

Grace and Peace to You,


Sunday, August 28, 2005

Worship, what is it?

Steve Camp wrote a good article on Worship and what biblical worship is. All too often we take worship too lightly. We need to stop and really look at what we do and call worship and see if it is truly biblical. It is a challenge we should all take so that we make sure that we are not offering the same strange fire that Nadab and Adihu offered (whatever they offered it was not what God called for) in Lev 10:1 as the consequence may be quite severe.

Grace and Peace,


Saturday, August 27, 2005

Traffic School and Sin

I just got done with a joyful day of traffic school and boy was it fun. But as I thought about what I had done wrong, not paying attention and making a right turn on red when it was not allowed, and listening to the other offences, with speeding being the flavor of the day, I thought how this related to how we all too often view sin.

While this is by far an imperfect picture it does relate how sin is sin and enough to convict us. As I heard some people who had multiple tickets and did not seem to be concerned and how others had much higher fines and more serious tickets I thought how I did not deserve to be there as they did. Is this not how people view sin, in that we rank ourselves with others and use them as our benchmark. The other side of this is that I was there with multiple offenders and first timers but the common thread was that we all broke some law and that breaking that law put us all in the same position, guilty.

So how does this relate to God? Well it is not the particular sin that sentences us but simply that it was a sin. It is not the quantity of sin but that it was a sin. Just as we had all broke a law in the court we have all sinned ( Rom 3:23 ) and we all deserve the penalty/sentence. Now this is where the picture begins to deteriorate as God’s penalty is an eternal sentence in Hell (Rom 6:23) and our penalties for breaking the traffic laws vary. I am grateful that God offers and provides the Faith to be saved and to not be the one that is penalized for our sin personally but Jesus Christ does so for those that believe (John 3:16).

I probably have to work on this picture but I do think it does say much about how we view sin and how we do not see that sin is sin and all sin leads to death.

Grace and Peace,

Friday, August 26, 2005

Experience and Knowledge

I was reading a blogg by Joe Thorn on “Experimental Theology” and do see this as a big issue. The issue is not simply having the knowledge of God or the experience of God but having both and that both are so intimately intertwined. I think one of the things I enjoy about reading John Piper’s works is that the two elements work together and that it is easy to see that if one area is lacking both will suffer and be insufficient in and of themselves.

We need to make sure that we do not see either the experience or the theology as an end in and of themselves but that both happen together. As we learn we can experience God more fully since we understand more of who God is. As we experience what we have learned our understanding grows and should even move us to want to know more. So you can see that the Christian life is not just about knowing and not just about doing but both. We need to not only need to be Orthodox in understanding but that needs to be coupled with Orthopraxy which will incorporate the experimental side of things.

Too often the movements the church goes through seem to side with one end or the other of the equations (knowledge or experience) as a reaction to the previous movements over emphasis of one over the other. We as a church need to stop this and begin to make sure we meld the two and not over emphasize either of them. True theology will change us but mere knowledge will just stagnate and lead to a cold and dead experience.

Grace and Peace,


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

John MacArthur on Larry King

John MacArthur was on Larry King Live yesterday (8/23) on the subject of creation and more specifically Intelligent Design. He was on with a Senator from Kansas who supports the teaching of ID, a scientist who wants nothing to do with anything that refutes her god of evolution and that bastion of deep thought (just kidding) Deepak Chopra. While I did not get to see the panel I did read the transcripts and John MacArthur was not only firm on his Biblical stance, knew the others postion but also showed how to lovingly correct and get ones point across. I am grateful that God moves those that deny the truth so display the truth among the deceit that exist.

Read the transcripts here.

Grace and Peace,


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The influence we can have on children

Phil Johnson posted an article on the influence of godly people on Charles Spurgeon life. What is interesting is that this is not simply a case of one influencing a child to run forward to “accept” salvation but his story is so much more. The influence on his life led him to sincerely look at his life in light of God’s glory and thus lead him to true repentance. We today either are too quick to seek the conversion of children or are too shallow to help them see why they need to be converted. This lack of teaching as to what salvation really is may be why there are so many youth lost out there today who not many years before were considered saved.

We can say that Spurgeon was unusual, and it is today, but how much of what we see as unusual is a product of our lowering of the bar to make such a conversion unusual. There is a book called (Here is one of the good long old titles) A Token for Children: Being an Exact Account of the Conversion, Holy and Exemplary Lives, and Joyful Deaths of Several Young Children in Two Parts to Which Is Added a token by James Janeway and Cotton Mather that tells of the conversion of a number of children and the stories are amazing in that I am not sure many adults see their conversion in such light. It is an interesting read in that it does seem to say that while God is the one that revealed the truth to these children the instruments used were people that shared the whole Gospel and not a watered down children’s version. Children understand much more than we give them credit for and often it is our lack of trust that they can grasp harder truths that leads to a shallow understanding by them as children and later as youth and adults.

Grace and Peace to You,

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Spurgeon Quote on Anxiety

Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Communer or Consumer

Recently I have been thinking quite a bit about the church and what God expects from it since it is His and not ours, we are just stewards. All too often we take church too lightly and thus our decisions are driven by everything but what God desires. The maxim of the church today seems to be if it works it must be good and God must be blessing the action. I was listening to a radio program and the person was talking about the Mormons and how they use the same argument for the validity of them being a true church and they point to Acts 5:34 and following where Gamaliel basically said to let the apostles do what they do because if it is a success God must be in it. So using this single verse which simply relates a Jewish leader’s opinion we can do anything and if it works it must be from God.

That said, the question I would like to ask is are we communers or consumers when it comes to church. This is a vital question because by the looks of most church growth plans the church looks at prospective members as consumers as we constantly are seeking things to supply to the people. That is, we supply the right commodity and people come we must be successful if we take a “the people are consumers” mentality.

I think the question is vitally important since it drives how we “do” church. If we are intent on supplying the needs of the consumer, then we will supply consumables which by their very name are not lasting. But, if we desire to provide a place to commune with God through prayer, the proclamation of His word, serving and community then we can work at providing a more lasting, even eternal, aspect to church.

A focus on communing does not negate the church meeting needs but instead focuses on a right relationship with God and the needs will be met. By having a mentality that seeks to commune with God through seeking joy in Him in all we do then serving others, thus meeting needs should be a natural result of the overflow of our joy. This is easier said than done since taken in a wrong manner we can easily become so entrenched in some system that while we think we are communing we are actually simply engaging in empty and dry practices that no more commune with God than those that simply consume since we begin to consume what we call spiritual things but miss the communing aspect altogether.

So, my challenge to you is to ask yourself if you are a communer or consumer and be honest. We can fool others and often ourselves but we cannot fool God. So seek to be a communer with God and not simply one of the thousands that spend inordinate amounts to time and money simply consuming and in the end just where they started, no closer to God. I pray this is as convicting for you as it is for me since it takes this conviction to change from one mindset to the other because consuming is so natural for us.

Grace and Peace to You.


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

For His Glory

Well I decided to change the name of this blogg, even though I initially thought I would blogg on more than theology it seems the time it takes to do this has led me to only write on theologically oriented topics. That said I felt that “For His Glory” should cover everything since we are to do all to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31) and thus I pray that what ever it is I write is ultimately seeking His glory. More to come.

Friday, August 12, 2005

News from the Bloggosphere

Some Recent Bloggs:

Phil Johnson's blogg wites on the move towards Open Thesism. I think the move is a natural step in the minimalizing of who God really is to making God what we would like Him to be. Once people start this move it is hard to stop and those trying to stem the tide are then labeled as backward traditionalist or worse.

In a day and age when the Gospel is forever being manipualted to so called reach a chaging culture Steve Camp writes on how Paul reached a pagan culture. All too often the the comment is made that we must make the message relvant but not water down the Gospel. But how often is this just the start to not simply a watering down but a flood.

A good blogg on the issue of Reforming Evangelism & Preparation. Evangelism incorrectly grounded will eventually lead to Evangelism that is ineffective, maybe not in numbers but in actual conversions. We forget that the cost of being a believer in the US is so low, that is a topic all to itself, that anyone may decide to "join" but when you look at many third world countries the cost is so high that those not truly believing will rarely profess faith.

The Blogg at Founders Minsitry speaks to whether we should have a controversy of conversion, speaking to seeking a regenerate membership. The fear to question ones salvation leads many to not make people deal with their standing before God. Edward's "Sinner's in the Hands of an Angry God" made his congregation truly look at themselves in relationship to God.

New blogg site, SharperIron, that I came across through Steve Camp's blogg. Good articles to ponder, well at least read.

Have a great day.

More to come, Lord willing.

Grace and Peace,