Friday, June 27, 2008

Last Couple Days to Enter Contest

Only a couple days left to enter the Reclaiming the Culture DVD contest from a previous post or you can enter here if you like. The deadline to enter for a choice of one of the DVDs from Vision Forums new Reclaiming the Culture DVD Series is 5PM(PST) on the June 29th with a winner to be chosen June 30th. Simply leave your name and I will announce the winner by July 1st. If you leave you e-mail now I will contact you or you will have to check back when the winner is announced.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Around the Web and Blogosphere (6/21/08)

James McDonald at Family Reformations writes: When the Village Raises Children. He reveals a Canadian court decision where the court overruled a fathers grounding of his 12 year old from the use of the Internet. We may say this would never happen here in the good ol’ USofA but do not be too sure. The initial court decision in California to outlaw Home Schooling reveals the heart of many, that those other than parents know what’s best for children. What may be more scary is that many believers seem to buy into this when it comes to such things as education and public school.

Richard Smith at The Spurgeon Blog has some good words to ponder on Evangelism in his post: The Love of God and Evangelism. We need to take care when we take part in evangelism that we present a God-centered God rather than the usually presented man-centered God.

Scott over at These are the generations of… links in his post, Home-schoolers threaten our Cultural Comfort, to an article from a secular paper on why so many hold those that home-school in contempt. Here is a link to the article: Home-schoolers threaten our cultural comfort. What is so sad is the number of professing Christians that dislike home schoolers but I fear it is because they have bought into a world-view that is much like if not the same as that mentioned in the article.

Don’t forget to enter the Reclaiming the Culture DVD contest on my previous post or you can enter here is you like. Deadline to enter for a choice of one of the DVDs from Vision Forums new Reclaiming the Culture DVD Series is 5PM(PST) on the June 29th with a winner to be chosen June 30th. Simply leave your name and I will announce the winner by July 1st. If you leave you e-mail now I will contact you or you will have to check back when the winner is announced.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Challenges of Hebrews 12:12-14

This past week on the Lord’s Day at SGCF we looked at Hebrews 12:12-14 (The Path of Perseverance) which tells us that which we should do in light of the exhortations given in 12:1-11. The truth is we need to go back to Chapter 11 as well as it is only then that we see that the only way to do what we are called to do is “by faith” as those in Chapter 11 modeled for us. Just has been the case with all of Hebrews it places challenges before us that we all too often read over too quickly.

In V12 we are told to “lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees.” This tells us a few things but most of all it tells us that the pilgrimage we are on as believers is one where weariness and struggles will exist. But, the encouragement, gotten from 12:1-11, is that God is the one that has ordained those trials for our benefit and is the one that will strengthen us to persevere. The Christian pilgrimage is fraught with hazards but they are hazards placed by God for our growth and He is also the one that will sustain us and keep us in the midst of those trials. This is a great hope as we can then see that in the midst of any situation that God has not abandoned us. He may be correcting us or strengthening us but He is still there moving us towards holiness.

Then in V13 we are told to make straight paths so that we and others that are struggling will not stumble. This is a great verse because it speaks of our responsibility for our walk as well as that of other believers, especially in our particular community of faith that God has placed us. In our highly individualistic age we are so prone to see scripture for what it says to me, about me, and for me but there is so much more. God has given us the local church so that as we travel on our pilgrimage we can know we are not alone and that we are to work together to persevere to the final reward. We are to encourage others and even realize that we may face trials that are simply bestowed on us to encourage others by our walk , “by faith,” through the trial.

Next in V14 we are told to strive after peace and holiness. It is so great that these are together because it sets the limits to how far we can go for peace and that is it cannot hinder our striving for holiness. The word strive is one of intensity as if one were hunting a prey. The goal is that we strive and the encouragement is that when faced with those that are difficult to be at peace with we can know God has put them there for His glory and our growth towards holiness. So we are to strive for peace, it may not come but it will not be because we have not tried.

We are also to strive for holiness which is a virtue that I think many do not contemplate enough, I know I do not. But if we see this verse in light of 12:1 we see that we are to put aside whatever gets in the way of our pursuit of holiness. Of course we will not achieve perfect holiness this side of glory but we are to pursue it never-the-less. How would our lives change if we asked a simple question when faced with choices: “How will this choice hinder or increase my holiness.” I know for me this makes for some choices that seem strange in our culture today. But I would challenge us to try this and to take heed to 12:1 and do all we can by the power of the spirit to put aside whatever it is that hinders our pursuit of holiness.

The challenge of Hebrews is that it is not simply a book about a group of 1st century believers struggling with faith choices. It is a living and real sermon for us today in a culture that at every turn seeks to have us deny the Gospel. We may not see our actions as so just as the Hebrew believers probably did not, that is until they heard Hebrews. The call is for us to heed the message that Christ is to so hold our affections that all we do is to reflect that and anything that hinders that reflection is to be done away with. Let us, “by faith,” seek after holiness so that God gets the Glory that only he deserves.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pilgrim’s Progress Free Audiobook Download

This month’s free download at is Pilgrims Progress. Simply by signing up, its free, you can download this unabridged audio book for free. The coupon code is: JUN2008

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Around the Web and Blogosphere (6/07/08)

Philip Ryken blogs on the upcoming ESV Study Bible. Ryken says:
I look forward to seeing the whole ESV Study Bible when it is finished, and to studying its notes more carefully. But what I have seen so far leads me to believe that Crossway is producing the apotheosis of the study Bible.

And here is the definition of “apotheosis.”

Richard Smith has an article at The Spurgeon Blog entitled: The Glory of God Who Loves Himself. He says:
The true Gospel is that there is hope that God will save based on grace which has its cause within the God who loves Himself. The true Gospel is that there is hope that this God will have mercy and will change the heart of the sinner so that it now loves Him rather than itself.

Mark Dever at the 9Marks Blog writes on the use of video in corporate worship: When Seeing Doesn't Help Believing: Videos "in Church".

At Doug Phillip’s blog there is a list of articles dealing with a number of important issues: Vision Forum Articles on Life, Babies, and Biomedical Ethics.

Don’t forget to enter the Reclaiming the Culture DVD Contest on my previous post

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Reclaiming the Culture DVD Giveaway.

Thanks to Vision Forum for once again allowing me to offer a free DVD. The free DVD will be your choice of one of the 7 DVDs from the Reclaiming the Culture DVD Collection.

All you need to do is leave a message that you would like to be entered in the contest. I will take entries until 5PM on June 29th and will contact the winner on the 30th to get a shipping address, so leave your e-mail address. This giveaway is limited to the 50 States, Canada and those in the US Armed Forces. Once I get the winners shipping information and DVD choice I will forward it Vision Forum and they will get the DVD to you in about 3 weeks.

You can watch clips from the collection here.

Here is the list of the DVDs in the collection:

The Promise: The Beauty and the Power of the 5th Commandment
What is Biblical Femininity?
Training Dominion-Oriented Daughters
Foundational Elements of a Godly Estate
Providential Nexus of Jamestown and Plymouth
We Cannot But Speak
Guerilla Apologetics for the Glory of God

You can also click below if you would like to go to the Vision Forum website to see other items they have to offer.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

God’s Loving Discipline, Yes Loving!!

As I was studying for last Sunday’s sermon at SGCF on Hebrews 12:3-6 (God's Loving Discipline-Part 1) I kept wondering how much people’s lack of understanding of discipline affects their correct understanding of these verses. When I say this I am not speaking of unbelievers but of believers or at the least professing believers. In a day and age where states seek to pass law against spanking and people see discipline of children as “stifling their creativity” what do you do with a passage that speaks of discipline as that which we are to be thankful for?

Keep in mind that the author speaks of discipline in two manners: that of correction for sins we have done and that which is simply to build us for what He has planned and are not specifically tied to particular sins. So discipline covers a wide gamut of things in our lives. The goal of discipline is to disciple and train us to be the men and women of God we are called to be. It is to move us to holiness so that we become more holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:13-16, V16 cites Lev 1:44).

The writer of Hebrews continues on to encourage his audience to endure the race before them and that the struggles that they will encounter are of the God. Even including those struggle that lead to the shedding of blood (12:4). With the popularity of such beliefs as “Open Theism” this is obviously an area of struggle for many. How can a “loving” God allow, or even ordain, that which is painful for His children some, if not many, will say. Well V6 says why; because he loves His children and by the way all of His children are disciplined. In using a quote from Prov 3:11-12 the writer is also making a vital connection with the past and letting those he is applying this to, including us, realize God is working as He always has. God’s having always worked this way is why the “cloud of witnesses” in V1 are so vital to the Hebrew believers and us, they too have been through this at the hands of the Lord.

One needs to always keep in mind when reading Hebrews that this message, or sermon, to the Hebrew believers was meant to encourage, exhort and bring hope. Yes, to know God is intimately involved in our trials is to bring hope. The alternative is hopelessness, in that if God is simply a reactor to trials what type of God is that. A God that is not part of our struggles and is not the ordainer of them may seem comforting for a short time until you realize that there is then no purpose to what goes on in our lives.

Instead we are to see God, as the writer of Hebrews sees Him, as the architect of all that happens first for His glory then for our good, by the way they coincide for His children and that is the point behind V11. So what may “seem” painful now, and they are truly painful from a temporal perspective, will be joyful when God produces in us what He desires and ultimately when we get to glory. Our foresight is forever getting shorter and that is why the smallest pain is often seemingly unbearable. Unlike in times past when life was generally more hash our pain threshold, so to speak, is much lower.

This passage is also not about getting through trials and pain by gritting our teeth and plowing on. It is as James says in 1:2 to be counted all joy when we face trials since when seen in light of Hebrews 12 it is proof of God’s love for us. Let us thank God for the love He shows us as His children in disciplining us and working in us to make us holy. Thank Him for His work in us to make us useful instruments in His hands. Let us truly “cuont it all joy” when we face all kinds of trials.