Reformation Day

Fall pumpkins

 

It is that time of year. Fall, pumpkins, costumes, and….of course, candy!

I live in the wonderful state of Florida. Fall in Florida means there’s usually a little less humidity, an occasional cool breeze, and plenty of mosquitos to smack while kids gather candy on October 31st. Oh, the fondness of Fall memories growing up in Florida!

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The Latest News You Didn’t Hear

Newspaper

 

I have been unable to blog these past few weeks. I hope to explain why in my next post.  For now, a post from Acts 4.

Recently, Orlando’s news included the needless shooting death of Christina Grimmie.  Christiana was, by everyone’s estimation, set to become the next vocal superstar.  Then, roughly twenty-four hours after Grimmie’s death, a gunman walked into the Pulse Nightclub and ended the lives of 49 people.  Then, a few days later, a mother and a father were lounging on a beach while their two-year old son played in a mere foot of water when an alligator attacked and killed him.  Unthinkable – Tragedy!

Continue reading The Latest News You Didn’t Hear

Gospel Hope In A World Gone Crazy

 

Republican Debate

The start of another year kicks off with yet another disappointing Presidential debate. More, Ridiculous banter, pathetic ridicule, and pre-planned talking points. Ugh!

In the midst of the presidential banner, the turn of the calendar also has me preparing sermons on racial unity and the Sanctity of Life. Sadly, in 2016, babies continue to be born clinging to life as a result of a botched abortion. Born living and breathing, these babies are then denied proper care and are left to die and ….it’s legal!  Pouring over Psalms 139 and mingling among the massive statistics of dead babies leaves me angry, sad, numb, and oddly enough…. full of hope.

Continue reading Gospel Hope In A World Gone Crazy

Finish The Race

Finish The Race

 

The apostle Paul, nearing the end of his difficult life, seeks to encourage his friend and son in the faith, Timothy.  Timothy is a pastor in Ephesus, where many of those that he and Paul considered to be friends are now opposing the message of the gospel.  Paul warns of these men and the effect of their false teaching in the church.

Continue reading Finish The Race

Comfortable In Our Own Skin

zebra-migration

 

Christian, are you comfortable in your own skin?

You gotta love the apostle Paul! He was comfortable in his own skin, meaning, he knew who he was and what he believed. He knew what he was saved from, he knew his Savior, and he made no excuses for it. Paul did not set out to offend. But, neither did he water down truth… A watered down truth is no longer….truth. Sometimes, truth offends.

So I ask you again: Christian, are you comfortable in your own skin?

What was the result for Paul being true to who he was and what he believed?

It was lashings, periods of time in prison, his friends abandoned him, and so much more.

But, like a beaten boxer, he kept getting back up to be “hit” again.

What drove Paul?

Was he ever tempted to give up the fight and call it a day?

We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,

(1 Corinthians 1:23 ESV)

Paul understood that to some, his preaching of Christ crucified would be a stumbling block or foolishness, and he seemed to be ok with that.

We want a salvation that does not offend my desires, and a Savior who not only accepts me “just as I am” but accepts my ongoing blatant rebellion against Him as well.

Why was Paul ok with preaching the Word that caused stumbling blocks and was viewed to be folly? The next verse tells us why.

but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:24 ESV)

Christ crucified was what drove this man. He was a man aware of the death to life reality for himself. Once Saul (persecutor of the church) now Paul (church planter, preacher, evangelist, and inmate).

  • Christ crucified is what he knew.
  • Christ crucified is what landed him in prison
  • Christ crucified was a stumbling block to the Jews
  • Christ crucified was foolishness to the Greeks
  • But that was ok to Paul, because Christ crucified was also the power of God to salvation.

We live in a day where pastors and church leaders are seeking to make God’s Word more palatable. Palatable is good…. isn’t it?  Yes and No.  Yes, because we need to help people understand God’s Word. And no, because we are not at liberty to change or to water down God’s Word to conform to this world.

And this is where we get it wrong. God’s Word calls us to conform to the Word, rather than the Word conforming to the world. Sadly, ours is a day when believers water down the Word to help the Word conform to the world.

When the Word and the World collide, we are to go with the Word!

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

(Romans 12:1-2 ESV)

3 Reasons why we are conforming more to the world than to the Word.

1.) The desire for growth. So strong is the desire today to be a pastor, or a member, of a large church that compromise soon follows. In the name of adding people, many are willing to compromise God’s Word.

Sure, I want the church to grow just as much as the next guy! However, we have to ask ourselves: Is the addition of people that comes from watering down the truth of God’s Word actual growth?

While it may be growing “our” kingdom, we must consider, is the kind of growth we are experiencing in our churches, growing God’s Kingdom?

I submit to you that if it is built on the world rather than the Word, it is not growing God’s Kingdom.

This is, perhaps, worse than no growth at all?  If we are adding people to a false gospel and to man’s kingdom, are we not serving ourselves rather than God?

People might be added, but not converted.

I often hear: “you can’t argue with success.” Which means, because there are a lot of people attending, God must be blessing the church. How foolish that we define success with a number of people in a room as opposed to what the Bible clearly states.

(For example: Matthew 28:19-20)

2.) Because of fear

Difficult days lie ahead for the church in America. I am afraid that Christians are afraid. We fear people, government, and political correctness more than we fear God. We lust to be accepted and approved by people.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

(Galatians 1:10 ESV)

Now, that is a man comfortable in his own skin. When preachers toe the line of political correctness, they do so out of fear of man rather than fear of God.

3.) Because we have forgotten

We have forgotten that Christ calls us to “deny ourself, and take up our cross and follow Him.”  We want an easy salvation, one that requires no repentance, no change, and no Savior. Christianity 101 calls us to repent from our sin. The church then is not called to make life more comfortable for us in our sinfulness. The church is a place of repentance and transformation.

And, nothing less than Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection makes this possible!

God’s Word = Sufficient For Life?

Man reading bible

What does the Bible have to say about life in 2015? Anything? I mean, when I look at the Bible, people are sacrificing animals, walking around in robes, and the central figure calls Himself the Son of God.

What does any of that have to do with how I drive to work on Monday morning, how I parent my children, or how I go to the grocery store?

The question that I am really getting after is this: Is the Bible sufficient for our lives today? Is it possible that a book written thousands of years ago, in a different culture, addresses our lives in 2015? Does God’s Word address my world and my problems?

Have you ever wondered if the Bible is really able to help you with your deepest problems? Have you struggled to know what to do with your Taking God at His Wordlife, and wished you had some special word from the Lord? Have you ever thought to yourself that the biblical teaching on sexuality needs updating? Have you ever wished for a more direct, more personal revelation than what you get from slowly reading through the Bible? Have you ever secretly wanted to add something to the word of God— you know, just to make things safer? Have you ever wanted to take something away to make the Bible more palatable? Have you ever assumed that the Bible doesn’t say anything about how to worship God or how to order his church? Have you ever felt like the Bible just wasn’t enough for living a faithful life in today’s world? If you can answer yes to any of these questions— and we all will at times— then you are struggling with the sufficiency of Scripture.

DeYoung, Kevin (2014-04-30). Taking God At His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me (pp. 43-44). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:15-17 ESV)

Above is the often quoted verse about God’s Word. But, Christian, do you believe this verse? Do you really believe it? Do you believe that God’s Word is breathed out by God? And not only that, do you believe His Word is profitable for your life in 2015?

God’s Word does not need us to help it out! We do not need to try to improve it by adding to it. It is, after all, GOD’S Word. We do not need to take away from it, make it more palatable, or anything of the sort. Our job is to respond to its glory and power, not attempt to improve it!  (Wow, how full of pride are we when we think it is our job to “fix” or update God’s Word.)

We can say all the right things about the Bible, and even read it regularly, but when life gets difficult, or just a bit boring, we look for new words, new revelation, and new experiences to bring us closer to God. We feel rather ho-hum about the New Testament’s description of heaven, but we are mesmerized by the accounts of school-age children who claim to have gone there and back . From magazine articles about “My Conversation with God” (see chapter 2), to best-selling books where God is depicted as giving special, private communications, we can easily operate as if the Bible were not enough. If we could only have something more than the Scriptures, then we would be really close to Jesus and know his love for us.

DeYoung, Kevin (2014-04-30). Taking God At His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me (pp. 45-46). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

1.) How we go about our day is one way to help us to consider our view of the sufficiency of Scripture.

Let’s say that you are having some problems, and you are not sure where to turn.

Is your reflex to ask what does the Bible say? How might the Bible address this problem?

Or, is your reflex to ask what does this popular author say, what does my friend think, let me call my pastor, etc.  Hey, there’s nothing wrong with getting input from friends and pastors, and…. The Bible itself tells us there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors.

But, I am talking about an unintended or perhaps intended view of Scripture that subtly thinks God’s Word can’t help me on this one. I need a New York Bestselling author for this problem. Or I need the wisdom of a Piper, Sproul, or Keller. (All favorites of mine, by the way…) While these authors can be a source of help, be sure you are not using them, or others, in a way that actually diminishes the sufficiency of God’s Word. Pastors, teachers, authors, and friends can be a source directing us to grow, trust, and rely on God’s Word or, they can be replacing God’s Word.

God’s Word is sufficient. It is our authority and it is sufficient for all of life!

 2.) How we build our churches is one way we dismiss the sufficiency of God’s Word.

What are we saying with the dog and pony show in the church today? What is needed in our churches is not more entertainment, flashy worship sets, or CEO pastors. What is needed is the Word of the very living God! Paul to Timothy: Preach the Word!

How we “do” church says a lot about what we believe about God’s Word. Is it sufficient or does it need props?

3.)  The Word is sufficient for growing in Christ

God has given us all we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1: 3); Scripture is enough to make us wise for salvation and holy unto the Lord (2 Tim. 3: 14– 17). If we learn to read the Bible down (into our hearts), across (the plot line of Scripture), out (to the end of the story), and up (to the glory of God in the face of Christ), we will find that every bit of the Bible is profitable for us. To affirm the sufficiency of Scripture is not to suggest that the Bible tells us everything we want to know about everything, but it does tell us everything we need to know about what matters most. Scripture does not give exhaustive information on every subject, but in every subject on which it speaks, it says only what is true. And in its truth we have enough knowledge to turn from sin, find a Savior, make good decisions, please God, and get to the root of our deepest problems.

DeYoung, Kevin (2014-04-30). Taking God At His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me (pp. 54-56). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

4.)  A sufficient Savior is what matters most in 2015!

“It is finished”

Jesus Christ on the cross.

Consider the sufficiency of what Christ accomplished on the cross! Nothing more can be added to His sacrifice. No human effort adds anything to your salvation. No Bible reading, obedience, giving, serving, or any other thing adds to what Christ has done in any way at all! His death on the cross atoned for sins and the moment I try to add to that atonement, I have belittled the sufficiency of the Savior.

Thanking God today that the Word of God is sufficient!

God’s Word = Authority?

Bible

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 3:16- 4:1-4 ESV)

I love the above scripture! The Apostle Paul writes, with great conviction, as he seeks to root Timothy and us in the Word of God.

God’s Word = Authority:

1.) Because it is God’s Word

This is our foundation, we must begin here. Do you believe God’s Word IS… GOD’S Word? Paul tells us that it is a God breathed – God inspired Word. The Word is not our word. And since it is not our word, it (not us) has authority. Once we buy in to a Word that is not God’s Word, pack it in. We are done! At that moment, there is no longer a p0int in considering the Word. In an instant the Word no longer carries meaning or conviction. At that point the Word has lost its power. It is just a Word that is no more inspired than the next book on the shelf. It may contain good advice or nice suggestions for living, but it is not the Word of God. And, once it becomes anything less than God’s Word, it becomes nothing. It becomes nothing more than man’s ideas and opinions. And those are a dime a dozen folks. But, the Words of the Creator and Savior… those are Words that have worth!

So, Paul says to Timothy, Preach the Word. And thus, the Word is what we preach. Not our opinions, but the Word. We would do well, and our churches would do well to stick to the Word.

To preach the Word is to recognize the Word of God is wisdom. Submission to the Word is what joyfully does. Why? Because it is God’s Word! He is the Authority, not me and not you.

2.) Authority exists outside of us

I am so glad for this! I enjoy affirming that God’s Word is God’s Word. This rightly takes the authority out of my hands and places it where it belongs. It places it in the Sovereign, able, worthy, hands of God! I am a cruddy authority to my own soul. Why? Because, I want what I want – NOT what I need.

Paul to Timothy: teach what is sound. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth.

Is it not amazing how similar Paul and Timothy’s problems are to our problems today? Our culture does not want sound doctrine. We lust for trendy sermons filled with clichés and simple solutions to a profound problem all aimed to suit ones passions.

Personally, I do not need to hear a sermon preached to suit my passions! That is NOT what my soul needs! My soul needs my passions confronted rather than suited. The Word does not exist to suit my comforts and worldly desires. It exists for God glorifying transformation.

If my authority is what I want, then I am immediately off in a million directions. And tomorrow, I will likely have a new set of authoritative opinions of my creating. I am grateful for the Authority of God’s Word. It is not fickle, it does not change, nor does it shift with my shifting opinions or the opinions of our culture.

This means, I do not have to guess if the Word changed while I slept last night. The Word is rooted in the very nature of God. The unchanging God gave us His unchanging Word, that I / we might be changed!

Jesus came, He lived a sinless life, died on the cross for my sins, rose from the grave, and He ascended to the right hand of the Father!

HIS Authoritative Word tells me to repent of my sins and to trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. I joyfully have done so. I am forgiven! Sins paid for! It is finished! Christ settled it all on the cross, and none of that will change tomorrow!

That is HIS Word, not mine. This is the settled, unchanging, and authoritative, Words of God.

3.) The Authority of God reveals God

The Authority of Scripture reveals the character of God. Revealing His faithfulness, kindness, goodness, grace, mercy, sovereignty, trustworthiness, sufficiency, wisdom, power, truth, glory, and more!

The Word reveals God. As I said above, it is God’s Word. God makes Himself known to us through His written Word.

This has implications for us as we seek to read His Word. The Word is first and foremost given to us to help us to know God.

How kind and good of God to give us His Word. Without it, I would be adrift to every passing fad of my sinful heart. The Word is an anchor to my soul.

We can open the Word and read it seeking to grow in our understanding of who God is and what He has accomplished on our behalf.

4.)  Authority informs response

Once we are convinced that the Word is God’s Word, and that it exists to make God known to us, then we are postured to respond rightly to its authority. Our responses are varied. Have you read God’s Word and responded in worship, humility, submission, conviction, repentance, faith, etc?

These and many others are the appropriate responses to the regular reading and preaching of God’s Word.

The Word of God exists to reveal God and when He is revealed, His glory is on display and we get to respond to that glory

Thank you God for your authoritative Word to us! Thank you for preserving your Word throughout history and making yourself known to us through your Word. May you grant us grace as we seek you today through the reading of your Word!

Rob Bell, Oprah, And God’s Word

Rob-kristen-bell-oprah

The below is taken in entirety from In The Line Of Fire by Michael Brown. While, I am wanting to write my own response to recent Rob Bell comments. My thoughts are many, and time is…. limited. So, for now, the below will have to suffice.

My quick response before I turn it over to Mr. Brown.

May our hearts grow in conviction for this 2,000 yr old book and its absolute relevance in our lives today!!  Is there anything more relevant than the God of the Universes revealing Himself and Redemption to us?!? Rob Bell thinks God’s Word to be irrelevant…. Does that make Rob Bell irrelevant?  

Michael Brown

For those who had any questions, Rob Bell has now made himself totally clear: He is willing to trash parts of the Bible as “letters from 2,000 years ago” when God’s Word contradicts his views on same-sex “marriage.”

Bell appeared on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday program together with his wife, Kristen, to promote their new book The Zimzum of Love: A New Way of Understanding Marriage. In an interview last December, Bell explained that on page 16 of the book, he and Kristen give their “whole hearted affirmation” to same-sex “marriage.”

That was no surprise in light of his announcement in 2013 that he supported redefining marriage. In fact, that had been his position for years, although he had not proclaimed it publicly prior to 2013.

But on Oprah’s show, he and Kristen went much further, dismissing the words of Scripture and criticizing churches that were determined to be faithful to God.

Explaining to Oprah why they included “gay marriage” in their book, Rob said, “One of the oldest aches in the bones of humanity is loneliness. Loneliness is not good for the world. Whoever you are, gay or straight, it is totally normal, natural and healthy to want someone to go through life with. It’s central to our humanity. We want someone to go on the journey with.”

Of course, he’s absolutely right in terms of the importance of intimate personal relationships.

God made us to be relational beings, but in a very specific way. He formed Eve as the fit companion and helper for Adam, the two of them uniquely designed to complement each other in the journey and mission of life.

And Paul’s solution to loneliness (and, even more so, to temptation) was specific as well: “Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband” (1 Cor. 7:2).

He didn’t say, “Each person should have his or her own companion,” because that was never God’s intent for His creation.

In contrast, what the Bells want to do is take God’s very specific, beautiful blueprint, and radically redesign it in the name of “love.”

To be sure, the church needs to take on the burden of those who struggle with same-sex attraction, helping them in every way possible find personal and relational wholeness in Jesus. But we are hurting them rather than helping them when we think we know better than God.

Rob Bell was then asked by Oprah when the church was going to embrace same-sex “marriage,” to which he responded, “We’re close,” with Kristen adding, “I think it’s evolving.”

Rob then explained, “Lots of people are already there. We think it’s inevitable, and we’re moments … ,” at which point Oprah chimed in, “Moments away from the church accepting it?”

Rob’s answer said it all: “Absolutely … I think culture is already there, and the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense. When you have in front of you flesh-and-blood people who are your brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and co-workers and neighbors, and they love each other, and they just want to go through life with someone.”

So, according to Rob Bell, the church of Jesus should follow worldly culture and deny the plain teaching of God’s Word in order to be “relevant.” (For my thoughts on the idolatry of “relevance,” click here.)

And according to Bell, human feelings trump God’s Word, which can easily be dismissed as outdated—2,000 years outdated, it appears.

I guess what’s trending on Twitter trumps the timeless wisdom of the living Word of the living God.

I guess an emotional appeal carries far more weight than transcendent truth.

That’s similar to what Methodist Pastor Frank Schaeffer told me on my radio broadcast last year, explaining that he had to revise his views on the Bible and same-sex “marriage” after his son came out as gay but would “absolutely” have to restudy the issue if his son reversed his position about homosexuality.

Talk about loving your son or daughter (or father or mother) more than Jesus (see Matt. 10:37)

But that is exactly what Rob Bell is calling for: Go with the culture, stay “relevant,” dismiss the outdated biblical evidence and listen to your emotions.

Kristen, for her part, explained that some churches are just not getting with the program: “There are churches who are moving forward,” she said, “and there are churches who are almost regressing and making it more of a battle.”

How antiquated! How backwards! How embarrassing!

How dare these churches entrench themselves against the onslaught of worldly culture.

How dare they continue to resist the redefining of marriage and the rewriting of the sacred Scriptures.

How dare they hold fast to their position that God’s ways are best.

How dare they not get with the program of liberal progressivism.

The bad news is that many professing Christians are capitulating to culture and abandoning the holy and wholesome ways of the Lord.

The good news is that the Word of God stands forever (Is. 40:7-8; Matt. 24:35), and one day, Oprah Winfrey, with all her massive influence, and Rob and Kristen Bell, with their substantial influence as well, will be mere footnotes in this age of compromise and apostasy, marked as eternally irrelevant by the only One whose opinion matters.

That’s why I pray for their repentance today.

 Michael Brown

What’s The Point?

Study Time

I don’t know how you read books, but when I start into a new book I try to ascertain, as quickly as possible, what is the point? Yep, that’s all folks…. I want to know why did the author write this book? And, I want to know why…. fast!

I want to microwave my book – cook it fast!  What can I say…. I am an American.

Usually one can find a purpose statement tucked in the introduction.  I hunt for that statement, sentence, or even a few sentences where the author lets us in on the reason he has spent countless, frustrating hours researching, writing, and laboring to bring all that work to a finish and into our lives.

And hey, I am just like you….. I am busy!  I need to know – and quick – is this book worth the time?

Me:  Why did you write this book?

Author:  Here is why I wrote this and where this book is headed.

Me:  Thank you for letting me know if I should put the book down and forget it or journey on with the author.

(By the way – some authors already have credibility and I pre-order the book knowing…. it will be worth my time and effort.  More on that later.)

I have a weird relationship with the author. I consider him / her my friend.  Yep, weird right?!? . But, I like to think of the book I have in front of me as a conversation.

Grab a coffee, grab my friend off the shelf and let’s chat. And when I think this way, I get to do coffee with Charles Spurgeon, or a theology with Edwards, fantasy with Lewis or Tolkien.  And, while I love to sit down with these friends!  It is hit or miss sometimes to do so on any given day.

BUT –  my every day goal and desire is to sit down with my Creator, Savior, Father, God!

Wow, are you kidding me?!? When I (when you) sit down to read the Bible, you are reading GOD’S WORD. You are sitting down with….. Almighty God!  Coffee nearby, pen in hand – God is right there with me/ you!

Back to where this post started.

The point of the Bible – from start to finish – is to lay out for us God’s plan for Redemption.

Here is a quick overview of the Bible.

  • God Creates…. Everything…. out of nothing!
  • His creation includes mankind.
  • Man, the created – rebels against the Creator.
  • As a result, man is now separated from the Creator.
  • The rest of the story line of Gods Word is HOW God Redeems (or removes the separation) between God and man.

We could say – the point of the whole Bible – is about: Redemption.  How will the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit each work to bring about redemption of fallen man?

The Father Sends

The Son takes on human flesh and goes to the cross for our sins!  (Phil 2)

The Spirit quickens our hearts.

God’s Word in a nutshell.  Redemption.  The purpose of the Word of God, the purpose for our lives, and the reason the believer does not put the book down or ignore the glory it reveals.

The gospel is the Bible’s main message, and preaching the content of the Bible—that is, the prophetic anticipation of God’s redemptive purpose in Christ from the Old Testament and the apostolic witness to the accomplished work of Christ in the New Testament—unleashes the power of the gospel message and achieves its God-ordained end.

Bullmore, Mike (2011-08-02). The Gospel and Scripture: How to Read the Bible (The Gospel Coalition Booklets) (Kindle Locations 88-90). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

From start to finish, the consistent thread throughout the Word of God is REDEMPTION.

Everything prior to Jesus, looks forward to Jesus.  Everything post Jesus, looks back to Jesus.

Listen in on how John gives us the purpose statement for the gospel of John.

 “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).

How will sinful man be made right with God?

Well, therein lies the point of the whole book.  Jesus Christ is the Author AND He is the Answer!  He is the point. He is the reason we have a Bible and need a Bible. And friend, He is WORTH OUR TIME!  That is right,  He is WORTH it. Worth my / your time!  Worth the effort.

So, take up the book this year in 2015.  Grab a coffee and pen.  And get to know the Author and The Point of the whole book!

“You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God. . . . And this word is the good news that was preached to you” (1 Pet. 1:23–25).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bible – What is it?

book store

The Bible – What is it?

  • Instruction manual?
  • Helpful tips on good living?
  • List of commandments
  • Book of good moralisms?
  • Little helps for one’s life?
  • Word of God?
  • A “prop” to support your thoughts and opinions?
  • A “shotgun” to destroy other’s thoughts and opinions?

How you answer that question is everything!

Your answer will likely determine if you will read the Bible or toss it aside.  And, if you do read the Bible, then your answer will determine how you will read the Bible.

It is one thing:

  • …..to affirm and acknowledge the Word of God (mentally), it is quite another thing to see it as ones authority and thus submit to it (functionally) in all areas of life.
  • …..to say I love Gods Word and then not submit ones life to it.
  • …..to read the Bible, memorize a scripture or two, or hear the Word preached, it is quite another thing to seek to apply that word that you have read, memorized or heard preached.

At the end of the day, we all have to ask ourselves:  “what do we believe about this book?”  Is it the very Word of God?  If so…. what does that mean in how we approach it or if we approach it.

Did you know……?

According to Jesus, it is the difference between a fool and a wise man.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

(Matthew 7:24-27 ESV)

The Bible (God’s Word) No Other Book Like It!  It is God’s Word.  How amazing is it that the Creator of the universe has given us His Word.  He is not a God in hiding.  We have His Word because He wants us to know Him.

He is a God who wants to be known!

Amazing – we can know the Almighty God!! Reading God’s Word is not a duty to be performed, it is a joy to pursue.  It is in God’s Word that we come to know God – as He is – as He makes Himself known to us on every page.

I don’t know about you… but, I don’t want a God who I conjure up.  A God who is made up in my mind and in my image.  I want to know the living God – As He is – I want to know Him. Friend, if that is the cry of your heart there is no better place to go than the Word of God.

“The evangelist or the preacher opens his mouth and utters a word, God’s Word. But the Word doesn’t sound just once. It echoes or reverberates. It reverberates through the church’s music and prayers. It reverberates through the conversations between elders and members, members and guests, older Christians and younger ones. God’s words bounce around the life of the church, like the metal ball in a pinball machine.” Jonathan Leeman Reverberation

 

Thirsty and Broke!

thirsty and broke

 

Isaiah 55

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

It is beautiful isn’t it? God’s Word is exhorting us to come thirsty and come broke. Isn’t that the gospel? It is exactly how we come to God. We do not come to Him with full bellies and fat pockets. We are destitute.

  • No food
  • No money and
  • No way to purchase or eat in our own strength.

 

Reminds me of this:

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Save from wrath and make me pure.

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

Don’t you love how the Word instructs us in our broken state to come and buy and eat.

We might ask:  How do we do that?

That, my friend, is the whole point of God’s Word.

You can’t do that in and of yourself! But, you can do that when you look away from our own self’s ability to save. We need a Savior! And we are not it!  Remember: we are hungry and broke.

It is in Jesus that we come to God and when we do, the hungry are filled and the broke are made rich in Christ.

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and you labor for that which does not satisfy?

Isn’t that what we do in our sinfulness?

We foolishly buy that which does not feed us and that which does not satisfy.

Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.

God’s Word / The Gospel / The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know, and a nation that did not know you shall run to you, because of the LORD your God, and of the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.

Amazing!

“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Will you join with me and pray this today?

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

I am so glad this is true.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

YES!

God sends His Word to accomplish His eternal purpose.

What is that purpose?

To redeem fallen man!

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the LORD, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

(Isaiah 55 ESV)

“It so misrepresents the truth, it’s a sin”

 

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The below is taken in its entirety from Albertmohler.com.

 

Newsweek on the Bible — So Misrepresented It’s a Sin
MONDAY • December 29, 2014
newsweekcover2015
Newsweek magazine decided to greet the start of 2015 with a massive cover story on the Bible. For decades now, major news magazines have tended to feature cover articles timed for Christmas and Easter, taking an opportunity to consider some major question about Christianity and the modern world. Leading the journalistic pack for years, both TIME and Newsweek dedicated cover article after article, following a rather predictable format. In the main, scholars or leaders from very liberal quarters commented side-by-side those committed to historic Christianity on questions ranging from the virgin birth to the resurrection of Christ.
When written by journalists like Newsweek‘s former editor Jon Meacham or TIME reporters such as David Van Biema, the articles were often balanced and genuinely insightful. Meacham and Van Biema knew the difference between theological liberals and theological conservatives and they were determined to let both sides speak. I was interviewed several times by both writers, along with others from both magazines. I may not have liked the final version of the article in some cases, but I was treated fairly and with journalistic integrity.
So, when Newsweek, now back in print under new ownership, let loose its first issue of the New Year on the Bible, I held out the hope that the article would be fair, journalistically credible, and interesting, even if written from a more liberal perspective.
But Newsweek‘s cover story is nothing of the sort. It is an irresponsible screed of post-Christian invective leveled against the Bible and, even more to the point, against evangelical Christianity. It is one of the most irresponsible articles ever to appear in a journalistic guise.
The author of the massive essay is Kurt Eichenwald, who boasts an impressive reputation as a writer and reporter for newspapers like The New York Times and magazines including Vanity Fair. A two-time winner of the George Polk Award, he was also a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. Eichenwald, however, has been primarily known for reporting and writing in a very different area of expertise. Most of his writing has been on business and financial matters, including business scandals.
When it comes to Newsweek‘s cover story, “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin,” Eichenwald appears to be far outside his area of expertise and knowledge. More to the point, he really does not address the subject of the Bible like a reporter at all. His article is a hit-piece that lacks any journalistic balance or credibility. His only sources cited within the article are from severe critics of evangelical Christianity, and he does not even represent some of them accurately.
The opening two paragraph of the article sets the stage for what follows:
“They wave their Bibles at passersby, screaming their condemnations of homosexuals. They fall on their knees, worshipping at the base of granite monuments to the Ten Commandments while demanding prayer in school. They appeal to God to save America from their political opponents, mostly Democrats. They gather in football stadiums by the thousands to pray for the country’s salvation.
They are God’s frauds, cafeteria Christians who pick and choose which Bible verses they heed with less care than they exercise in selecting side orders for lunch. They are joined by religious rationalizers—fundamentalists who, unable to find Scripture supporting their biases and beliefs, twist phrases and modify translations to prove they are honoring the Bible’s words.”
What is really going on here? Did some fundamentalist preacher run over young Kurt Eichenwald’s pet hamster when the reporter was just a boy? He opens with the most crude caricature of evangelical Christians — one unrecognizable in the vast majority of evangelical churches, and even to credible journalists. But the opening lines are truly a foretaste of what follows.
Amazingly, Eichenwald claims some stance of objectivity. “Newsweek’s exploration here of the Bible’s history and meaning is not intended to advance a particular theology or debate the existence of God,” Eichenwald insists. “Rather, it is designed to shine a light on a book that has been abused by people who claim to revere it but don’t read it, in the process creating misery for others.”
But Eichenwald demonstrates absolutely no attempt to understand traditional Christian understandings of the Bible, nor ever to have spoken with the people he asserts “claim to revere [the Bible] but don’t read it.” What follows is a reckless rant against the Bible and Christians who claim to base their faith upon its teachings.

 

In a predictable move, Eichenwald claims to base his research on “works of scores of theologians and scholars, some of which dates back centuries.” But the sources he cites are from the far, far left of biblical studies and the most significant living source appears to be University of North Carolina professor Bart Ehrman, who is post-Christian. Even so, he makes claims that go far beyond even what Bart Ehrman has claimed in print.
Eichenwald’s first claim is that we cannot really read the Bible, for it does not actually exist and never has. “No television preacher has ever read the Bible,” he asserts. “Neither has any evangelical politician. Neither has the pope. Neither have I. And neither have you. At best, we’ve all read a bad translation—a translation of translations of translations of hand-copied copies of copies of copies of copies, and on and on, hundreds of times.”
No knowledgeable evangelical claims that the Bibles we read in English are anything other than translations. But it is just wrong and reckless to claim that today’s best translations are merely “a translation of translations of translations.” That just isn’t so — not even close. Eichenwald writes as if textual criticism is a recent development and as if Christian scholars have not been practicing it for centuries. He also grossly exaggerates the time between the writing of the New Testament documents and the establishment of a functional canon. He tells of the process of copying manuscripts by hand over centuries as if that seals some argument about textual reliability, wrongly suggesting that many, if not most, of the ancient Christian scribes were illiterate. He writes accurately of the Greek used in the New Testament, and then makes an argument that could only impress a ten year old:
“These manuscripts were originally written in Koiné, or ‘common’ Greek, and not all of the amateur copyists spoke the language or were even fully literate. Some copied the script without understanding the words. And Koiné was written in what is known as scriptio continua—meaning no spaces between words and no punctuation. So, a sentence like weshouldgoeatmom could be interpreted as ‘We should go eat, Mom,’ or ‘We should go eat Mom.’ Sentences can have different meaning depending on where the spaces are placed. For example, godisnowhere could be ‘God is now here’ or ‘God is nowhere.’”
Isn’t that clever! But there is no text in the Bible in which this is truly a problem. Context determines the meaning, and no mom is in any danger of being eaten due to confused punctuation. That might impress a fifth-grade class, but not any serious reader. Later in his essay he makes essentially the same argument when he deals with the Greek word translated as worship when the text refers to deity. He rightly points out that translators use other terms when the context is merely human. Yes, the same word is used, but not in the same sense. This is not a translator’s sleight of hand, but common sense. Similarly, when a British nobleman is addressed as “Your Lordship” in public, this does not mean that he is being worshiped in the same sense as when a Christian speaks of the lordship of Christ. Common sense indicates that the same word has a different meaning in a different context.
Eichenwald grossly over-estimates the total number of ancient New Testament manuscripts and he seems to believe that mainstream Christianity in the Patristic era might have been seriously confused about the legitimacy of the so-called Gnostic gospels and other heretical writings. He cited Bart Ehrman as saying,“There are more variations among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament,” but then he follows that with his own concession: “Most of those discrepancies are little more than the handwritten equivalent of a typo, but that error was then included by future scribes.” So there are many variations, but most are “little more than the handwritten equivalent of a typo?” Then, why is the point even important?
He turns to text critical questions related to the long ending of Mark’s Gospel (16:17-18) and the account of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery in John’s Gospel. These questions would not trouble any first-year seminarian in an evangelical seminary, but they are presented in the article as blockbuster discoveries. Furthermore, with reference to the woman caught in adultery, Eichenwald states: “Unfortunately, John didn’t write it. Scribes made it up sometime in the Middle Ages.” But the fact that the account is not found in the older manuscripts of the Gospel of John does not mean, in any credible sense, that scribes simply made it up in the Middle Ages. Eichenwald seems unaware of the very category of oral tradition.
He also presents a twisted version of Emperor Constantine’s influence in Christian history, getting right the fact that Constantine called and influenced the Council of Nicaea but getting facts wrong when he claimed that Constantine influenced the formation of the New Testament canon by determining which books were to be included. His accusation of political intrigue by Constantine on the question of Christ’s deity appears, within the totality of Eichenwald’s essay, as a pointer to a strange antipathy to the doctrine of the Trinity itself. He argues that the Trinity is never defined in a singular verse of Scripture — orthodox Christians do not claim that any single text does — but he ignores the development of the doctrine of the Trinity drawn from the totality of the New Testament itself.
Eichenwald’s opening sentences trumpeted his disdain for evangelical Christianity’s sexual ethic, and his essay turns to deny that Christians have any textual basis for a negative view of homosexuality. He dismisses 1 Timothy as being falsely claimed to be written by the Apostle Paul, citing, oddly enough, Friedrich Schleiermacher, the father of modern theological liberalism, who made that argument in 1807. There is no counter-argument offered. Eichenwald simply credits the “scholars” he cites without any admission that other scholars hold very different opinions. Interestingly, he appears unable to deny that Paul wrote Romans and that Romans 1:27 identifies men lusting after other men as sinful.
He seems to believe that the teachings about women teaching and leading in 1 Timothy would apply to a woman in political office, failing to read that the text is clearly speaking of order within the Christian assembly. He seems totally unaware of any distinction between the moral law in the Old Testament and the ceremonial law and the holiness code.
In the main, he argues that historic Christianity has been based on nothing but a lie and that those who now represent themselves as biblical Christians are lying to themselves and to others — and doing great harm in the process.
But Kurt Eichenwald’s essay is not ground-breaking in any sense. These arguments have been around for centuries in some form. He mixes serious points of argument with caricatures and cartoons and he does exactly what he accuses Christians of doing — he picks his “facts” and arguments for deliberate effect.
Newsweek’s cover story is exactly what happens when a writer fueled by open antipathy to evangelical Christianity tries to throw every argument he can think of against the Bible and its authority. To put the matter plainly, no honest historian would recognize the portrait of Christian history presented in this essay as accurate and no credible journalist would recognize this screed as balanced.
Oddly enough, Kurt Eichenwald’s attack on evangelical Christianity would likely be a measure more effective had he left out the personal invective that opens his essay and appears pervasively. He has an axe to grind, and grind he does.
But the authority of the Bible is not the victim of the grinding. To the contrary, this article is likely to do far more damage to Newsweek in its sad new reality. Kurt Eichenwald probably has little to lose among his friends at Vanity Fair, but this article is nothing less than an embarrassment.

To take advantage of Newsweek’s title — it so misrepresents the truth, it’s a sin.

To read the Newsweek article in full, click: HERE

6 Convictions Needed When Approaching God’s Word

Bible

God’s Word is…. well God’s Word and because it is, we would do well to read it with a set of convictions. Below are 6 of those convictions. Certainly, there are more. Feel free to comment below on convictions you have when you are sitting down to read the very Words of God.

1.) It is GOD’S Word

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

Scripture is the God breathed out Word of God.

What does that matter?

Well, if this is our conviction it will affect how we approach or even if we will approach God’s Word.

When this is our conviction we will approach God’s Word not seeking to impose my thoughts and will on it. Rather, our desire is that the Word brings to us the thoughts and will of God for our lives.

If it is God’s Words than it is my Authority! While my thoughts can tend to be shifty, God’s Word remains. It is objective and unchanging! Shifty people need an anchor for the soul!

Consider: Without this initial conviction:

What do you have?

What is the Bible?

How does your view of the Bible affect how you read it?

2.) God’s Word Is Understandable

The Word of God is not veiled. It does not need someone to come along and decipher the code! God intends us to “get it”.  He is a revealing God.  He is not a code to be cracked – He is the God who reveals Himself on every page.  Through His Word He makes known to us, who He is and what He has done for fallen man.

3.) God’s Word Is Useful

2 Timothy 3 (see above) shows us not only that the Word is God breathed, but that it is useful.

…….profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

4.) God’s Word Is Effective

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11 ESV)

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 ESV)

How effective is the Word of God!

5.) God’s Word Should Be Approached In Humility

  • Am I the authority or is He?
  • Do I Submit to God’s Word or Does the Word submit to me?
  • My life vs Gods Word – what must change?
  • Feelings vs Truth – subjective vs objective – fleeting vs never-changing

“I’ve heard the story of a man who was in Paris visiting the Louvre. He was particularly interested in seeing Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. After examining the painting for some time with a critical eye, he announced, “I don’t like it.” The guard stationed there replied, “Sir, these paintings are no longer being judged. The viewers are.” It is the same with God’s Word, which is not what is being judged. Its readers are.”

Bullmore, Mike (2011-08-02). The Gospel and Scripture: How to Read the Bible (The Gospel Coalition Booklets) (Kindle Locations 163-167). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

6.) God’s Word Is About Christ

The entire Word of God is about God redeeming fallen man. That redemption comes through God the Son, Jesus Christ. As we read the Word with Christ in view, we will see that everything prior to Jesus death anticipates Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. All that we read post Christ’s death looks back to that event. God’s Word is about…. Christ!

 

For further study check out this easy to read booklet:

The Gospel and Scripture:  How To Read The Bible By Mike Bullmore

 

Ear Tickling Relevance

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I begin this post once again stating that I am not for irrelevance!

The church must be relevant and as I said in the last post – Truth IS relevant.

Read the last 2 posts here:

The Cry For Relevance

Truth IS Relevant

 

My concern is when the church, pastors, and believers lust to be relevant today. And in that lust there lies a warning or concern. Is it possible that in the lust for relevance that we lose sight of truth and in so doing we become “ear ticklers”?

Is it possible in the name of wanting to add people to the church that we water down the message of the Gospel and ones need for salvation?

And, if we water down the gospel and yet we are “relevant” don’t we need to ask: “What exactly are people being saved to?”

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV)

Paul has been exhorting Timothy to preach the Word. Why? Because the Word IS relevant.

It is a sad day when pastors concern themselves more with political correctness than bible correctness. It is dangerous when we study cultural relevance without seeing how relevant the Word is to our culture.

In the name of love, we don’t want to offend. We allow culture to define what is love. This then silences or edits the believer from saying anything of value at all.

The gospel my friend, IS offensive.  The Word, speaking of itself, says it is “folly to those who do not believe….”

The Word calls us sinners. Sinners need to repent. Because, hell and judgement awaits the un-forgiven sinner…..

And that is offensive! It is offensive to sinners, but it is relevant to sinners!

The Christian, the pastor, the church that says nothing of sin, repentance, and our need for a Savior…. well that is like a Dr. who will not tell the patient he is chronically sick. The Dr. is by no means showing love by withholding that information. No, we call that malpractice. And the Dr. gets slapped with a lawsuit for that lack of love!

Listen to the words of Jesus:

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours”  Jesus  (John 15:18-20).

I do not hear Jesus saying here, “Be relevant so everyone will be attracted to you and your church!”

In Mark 10 we see Jesus being relevant to the rich young ruler. And the result of His relevant truths caused this man to walk away sad.

Be careful, Christian.  A wrong understanding of relevance might render you silent and thus irrelevant in a culture that needs truth and love. If cultural relevance is your guide, well, you are on shifting sand. Today’s cultural relevance will be irrelevant tomorrow. Grass withers, flowers fade, but the Word of the Lord remains forever….

God, help us to grow in our understanding of your Word. Let us see how incredibly relevant it is to a lost and dying world. And help us to speak without fear and with much relevance, love, and care.