Monday, March 31, 2008

Called to be Pilgrims

What is it about the world that so draws us to itself? As I read through scripture it is clear that we are called to be pilgrims in this world as we journey to our final destination, the better country, a heavenly one (Heb 11:16). Many passages look at the believer as a sojourner, an exile and a stranger in the world. The picture is that what God calls us to is not to find our home here but to see our place as our final destination

Passages in scripture that speak to believers as sojourners:
Gen 23:4 - Abraham refers to himself as a sojourner and foreigner
Gen 47:9 - Jacob calls himself a sojourner
Psalm 39:12 - David refers to himself as a sojourner
Phil 3:20 – Paul speaks of where our true citizenship resides, in heaven
1 Peter 1:17 – Peter refers to the believers as being in exile
1 Peter 2:11 – Paul in urging believes to be honorable refers to them as sojourners and exiles

This is not a call to remove ourselves from the world but as the puritan Thomas Manton said; “We cannot get out of the world when we please, but we must get the world out of us.” We are to do the work that God has for us to do while He has us here but not let the world take up residence in our hearts. My fear is that too many have become comfortable in this world and allowed it to impinge on the work we are to do in glorifying God.

We should ask ourselves; “if the things of this world were removed and all that was left was God, His Word and His people would we be satisfied. This question is important because if we were to truly live as that which most pleases God would we not give up much of what the world offers and be left with the God, His Word and His people.

The end result is that we as believers should look different from the world around us. This is not a forced difference but one that results from simply living as God dictates in His word. As we live to glorify Him we will stand out in this world and in so doing we will be the light we are called to be. As much as we try and think that we need to look like the world to reach it is would seem that is the difference in us that God uses to draw people to Himself.

In scripture we simply see people living as God dictates in His Word and God drawing people to them. Nowhere do we see “Ex-Gladiators for Christ” or “Former Pharisees for Christ” but we see people changed by the Spirit to be simply Christians. But, today we have so many groups that seem to portray all that is to change is ones viewpoint but in reality when we become a believer we become a new person (1 Cor 5:17).

So let us be the pilgrims we are called to be and not let the world steal our affections.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Update on Homeschooling in California

Here is an update from HSLDA on the recent issue of homeschooling in California:

Court of Appeal Grants Petition for Re-hearing

On March 25, the California Court of Appeal granted a motion for rehearing in the In re Rachel L. case—the controversial decision which purported to ban all homeschooling in that state unless the parents held a teaching license qualifying them to teach in public schools.
The automatic effect of granting this motion is that the prior opinion is vacated and is no longer binding on any one, including the parties in the case.

The Court of Appeal has solicited a number of public school establishment organizations to submit amicus briefs including the California Superintendent of Public Instruction, California Department of Education, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and three California teacher unions. The court also granted permission to Sunland Christian School to file an amicus brief. The order also indicates that it will consider amicus applications from other groups.
Home School Legal Defense Association will seek permission to file such an amicus brief and will coordinate efforts with a number of organizations interesting in filing briefs to support the right of parents to homeschool their children in California.

“This is a great first step,” said Michael Farris, chairman of HSLDA. “We are very glad that this case will be reheard and that this opinion has been vacated, but there is no guarantee as to what the ultimate outcome will be. This case remains our top priority,” he added.

I would agree that this is a good first step but the fact that the step had to be taken at all speaks volumes about where we are as a society and the leanings that exist towards socialism and the state knowing what is best for our children. Please keep this in prayer as simply because this wave of resistance to homeschooling seems to have been held back I am sure there are more to follow.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Around the Web and Blogosphere (3/26/08)

James McDonald writes on: Abortion Illogic. He also has a pretty cool video on the site as well.

Speaking of abortion. I would recommend watching Doug Phillips talk from the History of the World Mega Conference on the Mayas. This talk spoke of the great achievements of the Mayas and their brilliance in astronomy, mathematics and other areas but it also spoke of their great violence, especially themselves. If we look at their history we see a great nation by many accounts but their great lack of biblical morality and thus the ability to sacrifice their own people and children eventually led to their being wiped out, by themselves no less. We as a nation can boast any number of great things such as technology but our moral base is such that we will sacrifice millions of children for the cause of personal comfort. Is the future of the US to be the same as the Mayas or can we regain the moral compass of the bible and avoid destruction? By the way the other DVD’s in the collection are very good as well.

Dr. Albert Mohler writes: Has the Notion of Sin Disappeared? In this article he notes that: “Perhaps the most interesting angle on the story is the fact that the secular world seems to understand that something has changed when it comes to the preaching of many churches and the beliefs of many who call themselves Christians.” What a sad commentary when the world notices the minimization of sin and the professing church does not seem to.

I recently read an article by N.T. Wright on Christianity Today’s web site entitled: Heaven is not our home. If his goal is to lead people to live the life we are called to now and not just sit back and wait for Christ’s return there are others ways to do this. If one simply reads Hebrews 11 you quickly see the motif with Abraham of him being an alien and stranger that is looking to a promised home, heaven. It was this look to the future promises that was the impetus for his living in the present as it is to be for us. It appears that Wright’s presuppositions about the central mission of the church have driven his understanding of scripture. Yes we as believers are to live as scripture calls us and thus should be salt and light in the world but that does not necessitate tossing out a view that Heaven is our true home and to look forward to that as Abraham did. Again, it is the look to the future promises of God that fuels our present journey that God has us on.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Lasting Implications of the Cross

This year for Easter I preached from Romans 5:1-11.  The reason I chose this passage was that it is one that follows on Paul’s teaching on justification by faith and shows the implications this has for life after the cross.   That the same faith that saved is the same faith we are to live by.  The message at Easter should be one that speaks of the reconciliation with God at the cross for those that believe and continued reconciliation for the life of the believer until they are called home or Christ returns.

Paul, in Romans 5:1-11, speaks of seven implications of Justification by faith: Peace with God, Access to God, a hope of glory, the ability to rejoice in suffering, the love of God in us, being saved from the wrath of God and continued reconciliation to God.  What was interesting is that the Gospel message that Paul delivers is not one of deliverance from trials or troubles but one that delivers us from God’s wrath to peace with God.  The implications given are not ones that we often hear but is one that needs to be preached often. 

I often wonder, if the only promise we offered when delivering the Gospel message was to have peace with God would people still see it as pleasing.  So often the message that is delivered, and especially at Easter, is one of deliverance from our personal dilemmas but the only dilemma we truly need to be delivered from is our enmity with God.  We are estranged from God due to our sin and only the cross can rectify that.  But that is not the end of the story as salvation is not just about a past event with future implications but instead has implications for the here and now.

So, we need to see that when we share the Gospel the cross is just the start as when God gives one the faith to seek Him it is that same faith that allows us to have the ability to serve and worship Him as He desires.  To find God’s commands as not being burdensome (1 John 5:3) one needs the see that life is to be lived by the same faith that reconciled us to God.  The faith to walk daily is the same faith that saved. 

So let us see that Easter is about the start of a journey and that journey begins at the cross.  It is a journey that is made possible by the gift of faith, a gift from God (Eph 2:8-9).

Monday, March 17, 2008

Around the Web and Blogosphere (3/17/08)

With regards to the homeschooling issues in California Albert Mohler in his article, Overt Hostility toward Homeschoolers, reveals that while some are saying not to worry the court decision has brought out the true colors of those that oppose homeschooling. Reading this article shows me that there is a true fear that homeschooling interferes with the humanist agenda and they would like to do whatever is necessary to stop those that homeschool. Walter P. Coombs and Ralph E. Shaffer whose article is cited by Mohler use the same class warfare language that is often bandied about during elections to try and incite others to rise up against those that homeschool. Please keep this whole issue in prayer because whether you live in California or not the issues here will effect you in some way.

Jim at has a good quote from Robert Godfrey titled: Worship is Neither Evangelism or Entertainment.

Scott Brown has a link to an interview he did with Doug Phillips on Kevin Swanson’s radio show Generations: Choosing Candidates: What Does the Bible Say? Scott also in his post, Workshop In Expository Preaching, has a good quote from E.M Bounds on preaching from Bounds’ book Power of Prayer

At the Banner of Truth Trust is a good article by Geoff Thomas titled: Preaching Christ from the Old Testament. As he shares the preachers of the New Testament shared Christ from the Old and so should we.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Update on Homeschooling in California

HSLDA reports that:

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell comes to the defense of homeschool families. “The California Department of Education policy will not change in any way as a result of this ruling. Parents still have the right to homeschool in this state,” he said.

This is good news but there still needs to be prayer because obviously while Mr. O’Connell feels this way not everyone does.

You can read the entire HSLDA article here: Defending Homeschool Freedom in California

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Homeschooling in California

As many of you may already know there was recently a court ruling that if upheld would prohibit homeschooling unless the parents homeschooling are certified teachers.  Even with this stipulation one has to ask if this means certified for a particular grade and thus it would still limit families from homeschooling.  There are many working on this case to either have the case over turned or “depublished” which would not allow it to be used as precedent and thus less of an issue.  Based on published reports this ruling could affect 160,000 families and possibly more so it is no small matter

What is disturbing in all of this is the mindset of the judiciary that parents have no right to school their own children as they see best for them.  If this is not socialism at its finest I am not sure what is.  If people think that this is a problem of a liberal state such as California they need to understand that the outcome of this case will effect just about everyone as it will create a precedent for every state that has similar feelings.

While this may have caught many people by surprise we should not have been surprised that something like this would not happen eventually.  I simply look at the school systems and the legal system has shown a propensity to lean towards removing parental rights and handing them over to the state.  This is also not only an issue with the state but also with the Federal Government as seen by many leanings toward socialism and thus the governments feeling that it is better prepared to care for children than their parents.

Am I fearful of all these happenings.  Not really, I know that I am called by God’s Word to homeschool and thus I also know God has a plan in all of this and if that plan is that my family has to move then so be it.   My concern is that many in other states will not take notice of this and simply wait until something similar happens.  We should not expect the world to understand the things of God so why would we expect them to understand homeschooling from a biblical context.

I ask that you pray for the numerous homeschool families in California.  Pray that we will do what is biblical and if at the end of the day that is to vacate California so be it as answering to God for what we do is much more important than answering to the state.

Here is a petition you can sign with regards to this situation:  HSLDA Petition

Below are some other Blog Posts and Audio Broadcasts on the subject

Blog Posts:

Home Discipling Dad:  What is Educations Purpose
Reflections on the Times:  Parents: No rights to Homeschool?

These are the Generations of….. :  California Homeschool Setback


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Preaching and the Culture

What is our call as Christians with regards to the culture? This comes to mind due to a recent blog I read about a pastor who is well known for his use of “foul” language and often overly graphic descriptions. This pastor is often defended by persons with equally colorful language. The point is usually that as this is what our culture is like and we need to reach this culture we need to relate to them as such and since the church is growing in an “unchurched area” then this must be OK.

The first point seems to say that since the culture lives a certain way and speaks a certain way we need to preach in the same manner. However, I am not sure this can be defended by scripture. The usual call is to such verses as 1 Cor 9:22 to bolster the claim that we need to do all that we can to save people. I don’t think Paul is saying he is becoming like an unbeliever so as to reach them but that he needed to come to them where they were to reach them. There is a vast difference in coming to someone in the condition they are in and not asking them to change first than to simply take on the persona of those we are to reach.

Before someone chimes in that we all take on culture in some form, you are correct. But this is not about trying to evangelize in Nigerian while traveling around Sweden. We do need to use words that are understandable to the listener but this does not necessitate using inappropriate language which scripture says in wrong, Eph 5:1-4. Simply because the culture sees something as normal does not dictate its normalcy to the believer. So yes there is a level of delivering the gospel that is done in a cultural context but there is also a limit.

As far as the argument that it must be Ok as many are coming to the Lord and the church I would have to say that size is not the arbiter of acceptability. Notice I did not say success because success in our world is often dictated by numbers as this particular pastor and others like him are seen as successes. Acceptableness is deemed by God, not man, and His word. Since scripture is clear that the use of foul language is inappropriate then I have to surmise it is inappropriate in all situations. Size may reveal the blessing of God but as we have seen over the years in the Western Church the number of attendees in a church does not necessarily correlate to spiritual transformation by God. Only time will tell if those that come to see the stage show are truly called of God or if they are there for the entertainment.

The bottom line is we are simply to preach the Word in a clear and understandable manner, as faith comes by the Word of God (Rom 10:17). It is not by ones exegetical prowess or mastery of speech but by the Holy Sprit that men and women are changed. One can claim to hold to the sufficiency of scripture but when one has to turn to means not dictated by God to deliver the message one is not truly showing a reliance on the sufficiency that may be preached.

This is not even necessarily about vulgar preaching, even thought tha is what instigated this, but it is about the vast numbers of preachers that claim to rely on God and His word but in practice rely on everything but His Word and the Holy Sprit to transform people. This is not trying to say that if one is in a foreign country one should not dress as those around them but is about trying to bridge the gulf between man and God with the materials of the world rather than the word of God. We have to seriously seek God’s word for what we are to do rather than our own understanding of how we think things should be.

I pray these thoughts were not too random as this was more me thinking out loud as there are numerous levels in which we let culture dictate what we do. We are often so entrenched in our culture that we become oblivious to it. The only way to combat this is to truly rely on the sufficiency of scripture and the sufficiency of scripture to reach His people through His Word plainly preached

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Around the Web and Blogosphere (3/1/08)

Scott at These are the Generations of…. has a link to Family Life Today interview (2 parts) with Dr. Baucham entitled: The Call to Discipleship. This is a good interview and it is good to hear the interaction to many things I have heard Voddie speak on before. You can either pay for the download from Family Life Today or do as I do and sign up for the pod cast for free through ITunes.

Charley at HomeDiscipling Dad has some suggested books to read to help gain a biblical vision for discipling at home. I have read both When You Rise Up as well as Family Driven Faith and they are very good. We have Upgrade and it is on my list to read. By the way I have reviewed Family Driven Faith in the past and here is a link that will take you to a review of each chapter: Links to Chapter Reviews of Family Driven Faith

Paul at the Vaughnshire Farm blog speaks of the term Cultural Secession. Upon reading the post it is a good term as while many speak of those that resist culture are labeled as being irrelevant the truth is it is those that can remain outside, in some manner, the cultural norm that are the most likely to change it. When we become so entrenched in the culture around us we not only become blind to the problems inherent in the culture we also, over time, become unable to be the change agent we need to be.