Reformation Day (Re-post)

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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I Want To Know What Love Is….

Love Bridge

Pictured above is the Paris – “Love Bridge”.  While I have walked this bridge with my wife, we never “locked” in our love.  The bridge is actually called the Pont des Arts.  Pictures do not do it justice! The Love bridgebridge is famous due to the endless padlocks placed there by lovers. Lock in your love and then throw the keys into the Seine river.  Romantic right?  And, in Paris no less!

The problem is that the guardrail of the bridge was not designed to hold all that extra weight.  The government and local Parisians have been asking tourists to stop locking in their love.  It is ruining their bridge!  The “Love Bridge” is collapsing under the weight of…. “Love”.

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I Like My Comfort….

Shepherd

 

A quick post this Friday afternoon for you to consider.

I like my comfort!  I like it when things go as planned and when I say “planned”, I am talking about MY plan….of course!  I like things to run smoothly.  Work, family, vacation, and all the rest, should run smoothly and as according to MY plan. And when it doesn’t, others, including God, may receive my displeasure.

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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.

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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.

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Image is Everything

Andre-Agassi

 

In the early 90’s, tennis star, Andre Agassi endorsed a certain type of camera and did so with a catchy attitude. The “attitude” and the Cannon Rebel camera soared into the psyche of American culture.  If you are old enough to remember the ad campaign, you will remember its’ slogan.  “Image is Everything.”

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Q and A With Jesus

coffee-machine-1500x1000

 

Wouldn’t you love to grab a cup of coffee with Jesus? Sometimes I think…. “wow, there were real, living, people that spent time with Him!  Asking Him questions and hearing Him teach. It was during those moments that Jesus regularly offended the religious leaders of His day. They did not like the idea

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Quick Post From India

india
Elephant walking down the middle of the street.  This pic was taken out of our front window.

I wanted to shoot out a quick post from India. Our schedule is very full so perhaps I can make a few quick posts when there is time.

Taxi cab leaving Mumbai airport. The traffic is indescribable! The luggage goes on the roof.... and yes, it is monsoon season.
Taxi cab leaving Mumbai airport. The traffic is indescribable! Luggage goes on the roof…. yes, it is monsoon season.

The road to arrive in Ahmedabad, India was long (Travel time was in excess of 26 hours) As you might imagine, it is an exhausting trip and yet, we have felt the Lord’s strength. Upon arriving at the ministry (the

 

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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)