Friday, October 30, 2009

Why We Celebrate October 31st

We like to celebrate on October 31st. It is a fun day to get together with friends. It is a great day for fellowship and food. It is enjoyable to talk about amazing things that have happened in the past - some of them scary things.

I'm not talking about Halloween (we don't celebrate it). I'm talking about Reformation Day.

Reformation Day is a celebration of what began in earnest on October 31st, 1517. On that day, the German monk Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. This was one of the first acts in the great Protestant Reformation.

The Reformation, while not perfect, was an attempt by various different people to return to the bible as the only authority for the Christian life. This flew in the face of the established traditions of the Roman Catholic Church. Luther, for one, wanted to see reform within the Catholic Church. Despite his desires, he was cast out.

The Reformers taught us to look to the bible for what it means to be right with God. Luther rightly emphasized that we cannot be justified by our works. Instead, justification only comes through faith (which in itself is a gift of God).

Out of the Reformers' teachings came the "5 Solas of the Reformation." These are:

Sola Gratia – Grace Alone
Sola Fide – Faith Alone
Solus Christus – Christ Alone
Sola Scriptura – Scripture Alone
Soli Deo Gloria – Glory of God Alone

We have much to celebrate on the 31st. Let's enjoy and live out these solas.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Taking Blogging a Bit Too Far...

Looking to the wrong god

When our family served in India, we were constantly confronted with various forms of Hindu worship. The vast majority of the population in our city was Hindu. Additionally, many Indians trekked to our city to participate in elaborate Hindu religious rituals.

The sad part in watching the Hindus worship was that they were looking to the wrong god for help. The Hindu pantheon of gods offers many, many different gods to choose from. We know, however, that there is really only one God: the triune God of the bible.

I encourage you to actively try to get to know Indians in your neighborhood, workplace, etc. The majority are probably Hindu. Meet them. Get to know them. Love them. Share the hope of Christ with them.

To read more about Hindu worship in India and Christians who are trying to reach them with the good news, click here. What you will find is an interesting article about Hindus worshiping the false god Ganesh as part of a typical Hindu festival.

But for the grace of God, I would be right there worshiping Ganesh with them.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Parking Space for Jesus

This is a silly photo of me in the historic district of Savannah, GA. I'm standing next to one of the many old, big church facilities in the city.

I asked my daughter, Caroline, to take this picture because of the ridiculous sign above my head. If you have ever visited Savannah, you know that finding a parking spot in the historic district can be very difficult. Apparently this church thinks their "senior pastor" is too important to have to search for a spot and then walk like everyone else. He gets a reserved spot right next to the church entrance.

If this church had its theology right, they would realize that they actually have reserved a spot for Jesus Himself. I'd like to think that this means that they are just really looking forward to the second coming. Unfortunately, they probably just don't understand who the "senior pastor" actually is.

When we look in the bible, we won't find the term "senior pastor" anywhere. However, when we look to the book of I Peter, we find the corresponding term "chief shepherd." The interesting thing about this is that the term "chief shepherd" is not used about any person other than the Lord Jesus Christ. I Peter 5:4 says, "And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory." This obviously refers to Jesus. I encourage you to click here to read the verse in context.

The bible does refer to some leaders within the church as elders/overseers/pastors. However, none of these are ever referred to as a "chief shepherd." Why is this? The reason is simple. The chief shepherd is the one who rules and governs. He is in charge. Human pastors are not given these duties.

Since the church belongs to Christ, He is the one and only chief shepherd. Jesus is the only senior pastor of the church.

It looks like Christ has a parking space the next time He comes to Savannah.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Raced. Finished. Didn't Collapse.

I'm happy to say that the 10-K went relatively well this evening.

I had a few minor goals going into the race: 1) finish, 2) don't stop to walk or collapse, 3) complete the 10-K is less than 50 minutes, and 4) have a good time. I'm pleased to say that all these things happened.

I will admit that there was one point during the 4th or 5th mile when I really wanted to stop and walk. That's when I literally began praying to God for strength. He got me to the finish.

One additional point of interest came near the 5-mile marker. As I was running along, I realized that there was a snake in the middle of the path in front of me. About a second later, I recognized the two-foot-long snake as a Copperhead. By that point I was almost on top of the serpent. Not knowing what to do, I simply ran past it a few feet from its mouth. The snake, frankly, seemed bored with my presence.

In the end, it went well. Tonight showed me that I am getting older and still need to drop several pounds. It also reminded me that God gives us strength even during the less important things in life - like a 10-K.

G.R.A.C.E. for Whom?

I very much enjoyed this tongue-in-cheek post about grace and how different religious groups view it.

Racing Today

The day has finally arrived.

After several months of jogging/running/training, I will run in my first race later today. To be completely accurate, this is my first race in nearly five years. That race was a marathon; this one is only a 10K.

The entire reason I got back into racing in the first place was to provide motivation to run. Over the years I have, like many of us, gradually packed on extra pounds. The trigger for this came one day when a lady who hadn't seen me in a while said, "You've put on a few pounds since the last time I saw you." That was it.

Since early June I have been trying to get back into shape. I've dropped a few pounds (not as many as I would have liked) and feel much better. Today is a sort of day-of-reckoning. I'm going into the race with low expectations, simply hoping to finish and feel good while doing it. I'm mentally prepared to see the high school participants leave me in the dust.

I'll update you after the race.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Love My Reader's Greek New Testament

I'll admit up front that I am no expert in New Testament Greek. In fact, if I was an expert I would not be so excited about the new bible I just purchased.

A Readers' Greek New Testament - 2nd Edition is perfect for people like me who have a decent but not great knowledge of New Testament Greek. I have known about this particular Greek text for a while, but for some unknown reason never bought one. Well, I saw it today in a bookstore and decided to take the plunge (interestingly, right beside this book sat A Readers' Hebrew Bible. My Hebrew ability is, sad to say, too poor to even bother).

As soon as I opened this Greek text, I knew I had made the right choice. The reason for this is simple: this bible displays and explains in English (at the bottom of each page) all of the Greek words that occur fewer than 30 times in the New Testament. So, if your Greek knowledge is limited like mine, the words that you don't know are right there in front of you. I'm thrilled to not have to spend time searching through a dictionary/lexicon.

I clearly recall something my Greek professor said early on in my first Greek class. He compared reading the New Testament in English to watching black-and-white T.V. He then said reading it in Greek is like watching T.V. in high-definition color on a flat screen. I don't know if I would go that far, but I see what he is saying.

Martin Luther said, "And let us be sure of this: we will not long preserve the gospel without the (original) languages. The languages are the sheath in which this sword of the Spirit is contained."

If you have basic knowledge of Greek but are no expert, I highly encourage you to buy this book.

Chosen People Ministries

I'm excited that Stephen Fenchel of Chosen People Ministries will be with our church family this coming Sunday Morning.

Chosen People Ministries is a Christian organization which reaches out primarily to Jewish communities here in the USA and overseas.

Stephen Fenchel is the unique combination of being Jewish, Christian, and Southern Baptist. While he is with us, he will be discussing the Fall Feasts of Israel (Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles). I'll admit that my understanding of both Trumpets and Tabernacles is limited. Because of that, I am really looking forward to this Sunday.

If you cannot be with us, then please visit the Chosen People website for an explanation of the significance of the Feast of Tabernacles.

If you happen to be in the Savannah, GA area and want to gather with us, please do.

On to the World Series!

National League Champs two years in a row

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More Excellent Photos

My daughter, Caroline, has been gifted by God in the area of photography. She recently revamped and added to a couple of different websites that she uses to display her photos. I encourage you to take a look.

Photographs of God's Creation (portfolio)

Caroline Carpenter Photography (portraits and other photos)

Here are some of my favorites:

I'm Thinking Maybe Not McDonald's

I admit that I posted this simply because I think it's funny.

Atheist Ads in New York

A few atheistic groups will be putting advertisements in New York City subway stations beginning next week (read full article here).

Hmmmm. I wonder what God thinks about this.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Are Bible Translations Really Worth Dividing Over?

Isn't it ironic that on the one hand the bible commands Christians to be united, but on the other hand some of us divide over the bible itself?

In particular, some folks believe the King James Version (KJV) is the only true English bible. See here for one example.

If the KJV is better than all other modern English versions, then it seems that the KJV would be considerably different than the other versions, especially in key verses. The one verse in the bible that I believe best sums up the gospel is II Corinthians 5:21. Let's compare this verse in the KJV to how other versions have translated it.

First, the KJV:

KJV: For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Now let's look at other versions (in no particular order):

NKJV: For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

ESV: For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

NIV: God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

NASB: He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

HCSB: He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

RSV: For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

NLT: For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Geneva: For he hath made him to be sinne for vs, which knewe no sinne, that we should be made the righteousnesse of God in him.

Tyndale: for he hath made him to be synne for vs which knewe no synne that we by his meanes shuld be that rightewesnes which before God is aloved.

In slightly different ways we read all of the above versions saying the same thing. The wording is different, but the meaning is demonstrably the same.

I personally favor some translations (ESV, NKJV) over others (RSV, NLT). We all probably have our own favorites. Some translations are more literal than others. Some are more readable than others. (There are a few translations that should be avoided, but this is because the translators have purposely altered the meaning of the original text because of a significant bias; the NRSV and TNIV come to mind.)

For the most part, modern English translations say the same thing. This is certainly something we can discuss and, if need be, agree-to-disagree.

Let us avoid separation over any preference of a particular translation, whether it be the KJV, ESV, NIV, or any other.

We should certainly be able to remain united around the truth of the gospel as presented in the bible instead of dividing over the very word that presents the gospel to us.

Take the Poverty Quiz

Not Sure What I Think About This...

Apparently the Pope has decided to make it easier for disgruntled and disaffected Anglicans to join Roman Catholicism.

According to an ABC report, "Pope Benedict XVI approved a new church provision that will allow Anglicans to join the Catholic Church while maintaining many of their distinctive spiritual and liturgical traditions, including having married priests." To read the article, click here.

The current Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has a history of speaking a great deal, but rarely taking a stand for much of anything. In typical fashion, Williams said in response to Rome's actions, "It has no negative impact on the relations of the communion as a whole to the Roman Catholic church as a whole."

I'd certainly disagree with Williams on that one.

Overall I'm not sure how I feel about this. Is a person better off in an Anglican Church or a Roman Catholic one?

The answer: go wherever the gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed and lived out.

Monday, October 19, 2009

"This Wide."

A few days ago, during a meeting of one of our church Sunday School classes, a lady in our fellowship said something very simple yet very profound.

From what I'm told, a few of the class members were involved in a fairly intense discussion about what the parameters of Christianity should be. The topic focused in particular on Roman Catholicism. At one point the following question was posed, "How wide/narrow should our definition of Christianity be?"

In response, one lady said, "This wide," and held up her bible in her hand.

I hope my beliefs and practices, as I seek to follow after Christ, are as this lady said: as wide (and as narrow) as what the entire bible says.

No more. No less.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

"Better" in Hebrews

The author of Hebrews repeatedly tell us that Jesus Christ is "better." Below are the instances in Hebrews where the word better is used. The author either describes Jesus Himself as better or things He brings about as better.

From these verses we can see that Jesus truly is superior to all things. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

"having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they." Hebrews 1:4 (NKJV)

"But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner." Hebrews 6:9

"Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better." Hebrews 7:7

"for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God." Hebrews 7:19

"by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant." Hebrews 7:22

"But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises." Hebrews 8:6

"Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these." Hebrews 9:23

"for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven." Hebrews 10:34

"But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them." Hebrews 11:16

"Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection." Hebrews 11:35

"God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us." Hebrews 11:40

"to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel." Hebrews 12:24

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Jesus is Better Than...

I just recently completed reading through the book of Hebrews. What a joy!

The primary theme of this book is that Jesus is better than... For example, Christ is better than angels, better than Moses, better than the Mosaic covenant, better than O.T. high priests, better than O.T. sacrifices. He is superior to all things.

I think we would all agree with these things.

Hebrews also implies that Jesus is better than all of our man-made religious conventions and traditions. We, in our attempts to feel good about ourselves, have a tendency to "try to be good," and at times rely on ourselves for "feeling good" about our relationship with God. This is nonsense.

Jesus is better than all man-made ideas about religion. He is infinitely superior to any thoughts, feelings, ideas, or programs we can come up with. His great grace is sufficient for not only salvation but also sanctification.

Let us constantly look unto Jesus, the "author and perfecter of our faith," for all we need. He is superior. He is better than all other things.

Let us avoid any temptations at self-justification. Let us fix our gaze upon Christ and run to Him. He is better.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I Better Think Before I Preach...

(Thanks to Jim West for this video.)

A (Challenging) Word to Live By

"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." Ephesians 4:29

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Baptized Again!

I suppose it is appropriate that at our recent church fall festival I was the first victim in the dunking booth. The photo above is actually an "action shot." If you look closely, you can see the platform separated in half and me hitting the water (click directly on the picture for more detail).

Since the Greek word baptidzo means to immerse, it felt something like getting baptized again and again! I must have been submerged about 20-25 times before my 30-minute segment mercifully ended. I do have to admit that it was fun watching the kids try to hit the target, but after a while it was beginning to feel like some sort of semi-water torture.

Maybe next year instead of a dunk tank we should just sprinkle.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

And More Photos from Africa

Click here to see more photos from my parents' adventures in Kenya.

Photos from Africa

My parents, who are serving this year at Rift Valley Academy in Kenya, recently posted some photos from a brief journey into the African countryside. Click here to see. My personal favorite is the one of the lions eating the carcass.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What Do We Do? How Do We Do It? Why Do We Do It?

"What Do We Do? How Do We Do It? Why Do We Do It?"

These are three very important questions to ask about what happens when the church of Jesus Christ gets together. They are questions that we should be continually asking ourselves as we look at our church gatherings.

Unfortunately, in my experience it is the first of the above three questions that seems to garner the vast majority of the attention these days. The concern seems to almost always be the content of what is happening: "Is there preaching? What kind? Is there singing? What kind? Are there testimonials? How long do they take? Is the bible read aloud? Are there pews or chairs? Is there a Sunday evening service? What do the kids do?" etc., etc., etc.

Content is certainly important. If the gospel of Jesus Christ is not the centerpiece of the gathering, then something is very wrong.

A concern of mine is that while we frequently ask the first of the above three questions, we do not often ask the other two. The irony in this is that the bible is clearer in its answer to the second two questions than it is to the first.

In his first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul answers the question, "How do we do it?"

At the conclusion of I Corinthians chapter 14, which deals specifically with the church gathering, Paul writes in 14:40, "Let all things be done decently and in order." So the answer to how we are to gather is that we are to gather in a decent and orderly manner.

In this same chapter, Paul also answers the third of the above questions, "Why do we do it?"

Why do we gather together? This is a critical question, but one that rarely gets asked. Paul tells us the answer in two different verses:

I Corinthians 14:12, "Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel."

I Corinthians 14:26, "How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification."

Paul's clear answer to why we gather is that we do so for the edification (building up) of the body of Christ. We gather in order to encourage the church to grow in maturity in Jesus Christ.

As we think about the church gathering, we should ask hard questions. It is important that we ask all the questions that need asking. There is much more to the gathering of the body than simply "what we do."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Seeing Providence in the Good and the Bad

I love God's providence.

Providence is God's controlling all things that occur for His glory and for our good. Providence is, quite simply, God's loving sovereignty in action. The verse that may best sum up providence is the well-known Romans 8:28, which tells us, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (ESV)

I will admit, however, that in my flesh I see providence very selectively. On a moment-by-moment basis, I see the good things that happen to me as providential, but the bad things as, well, non-providential. Of course, I'm mistakenly relying on my own rationality to tell me what I think is "good" and what is "bad." For example, if I drive through Savannah with no traffic problems, no accidents, no flat tires, no speeding tickets, and no breakdowns, I freely and thankfully admit that this is God's providence in action. However, if my car breaks down, I get a ticket, or I end up stuck in traffic, I rarely see this as God's providence. When "bad" things happen, I too often temporarily morph into some sort of functional atheist.

The bible tells us to view all of life as being part of God's providence. In particular, the scriptures exhort us to view our sufferings as being causes of joy. The reason for this is that suffering draws us closer to Christ and matures us in Christ. For a couple of examples:

Romans 5:3-5, "More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."

James 1:2-4, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

If bad things happening to us - some of which is real suffering and some of which probably is not - brings us closer to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, then we should correctly view these things as acts of providence on the part of God.

Since God is completely sovereign and completely good, this means that He providentially controls all of our activities. We should, therefore, consider all things that happen to us (good or bad) to be gifts of the providential hand of our Lord.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The "One Anothers" of Romans 12-16

In his epistle to the church in Rome, Paul discusses in much detail (chapters 1-11) what God has done for us in salvation. Paul concludes this section with a mini-doxology in 11:36, "For of Him and through him and to him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen." (NKJV)

Paul then moves into the "application" section of his letter. Basically, he is saying that since God has saved us, we should live in a certain way. He begins chapters 12-16 with a very familiar couple of verses, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

Paul goes on in this letter to emphasize that one of the primary ways we present our bodies as living sacrifices is by serving one another.

In reading these five application chapters, it is interesting just how much Paul emphasizes the concept of "one another." In fact, in the NKJV the phrase "one another" appears 10 times in chapters 12-16 (after having occurred just once in chapters 1-11):

Romans 12:5, "So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another."

Romans 12:10, "Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another."

Romans 12:16, "Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion."

Romans 13:8, "Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law."

Romans 14:13, "Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way."

Romans 15:5, "Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus."

Romans 15:7, "Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God."

Romans 15:14, "Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another."

Romans 16:16, "Greet one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ greet you."

It is clear from Paul's writings that we do not please Christ and grow in Christ while living in a vacuum. We mature in Christ while serving others both within the church and out in the world.

If we want to grown in sanctification, we will be active in the life of the church by doing for one another. This does not mean being involved in numerous church programs. Rather, it means that we will get to know one another better by spending time together. We will challenge and exhort one another to live godly lives. We will encourage one another when we fail.

Paul is telling us in plain terms to be living sacrifices by serving others.

Friday, October 9, 2009

One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism - and Unity

In Ephesians 4:1-6 Paul writes, "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call — one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all" (emphasis mine).

In Paul's letter to the Ephesians, the apostle (to be simplistic about it) writes three chapters telling us what God has done for us, and then writes three chapters telling us how to live out our lives in Christ.

The above passage comes from the beginning of chapter four. Thus, this is the first thing Paul had to say to the Ephesians about how they were to live together after being saved. Interestingly, Paul chooses to emphasize the importance of unity. In the above passage he uses the word "one" eight different times. He also writes that they are to be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit.

As there is one God, as we have one hope, as we have one faith, we also should be part of one body.

As the Trinity is united, we should be united (see John 17 for more on that).

Paul is clear: the church is to be united. There is no room for disharmony and division.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Another Helpful Bible Resource

I may be late to the game on this one, but I just stumbled across another helpful bible resource: Biblos.

Biblos is a useful site that is full of information. One of the best features is that when you select a verse (in the upper left-hand corner of the page), a great deal of information appears on the screen. This is what the page looks like for II Corinthians 5:21.


Monday, October 5, 2009


Proverbs 27:17, "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend."

I Thessalonians 4:3, "For this is the will of God, your sanctification..."

I don't know why it has taken me as long as it has, but I have finally entered into an accountability partnership with another man in our church. I am really looking forward to this partnership because we will grow closer as friends and, more importantly, grow closer to the Lord through this process.

I have to admit that I am, in my flesh, not looking forward to answering hard questions (especially if I have knowingly sinned during the week). I am, however, looking forward to having this safeguard in place to help me sin less and glorify God more during the week.

Today my partner and I sat down with the goal of coming up with a list of questions we will ask each other every Monday. I've listed the 13 questions below. Please tell me what you think. Do you think there is anything either unnecessary or repetitive? Is there anything that I have left out? What have you done or asked in this type of relationship that has been helpful?

Accountability Questions:

1. Have you been with a woman anywhere that might be seen as compromising?

2. Have you had any inappropriate communication with a woman this week?

3. Have you exposed yourself to any sexually inappropriate or explicit material?

4. Have your financial dealings lacked integrity?

5. Are you living within your means and avoiding debt?

6. Have you spent adequate time in bible study and prayer?

7. Have you given priority time to your family?

8. Have you spent too much time on the computer or TV?

9. Have you given your body enough rest?

10. Have you consistently shown godly patience and speech?

11. Have you pursued a life of sanctification?

12. Have you given God all the glory for your accomplishments?

13. Have you just lied to me?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Division: One of Our Strongest Beliefs

It is very clear in scripture that what we say we believe must be supported by our actions. James, in particular, is very clear about this.

Within the evangelical American church, one of our strongest held beliefs must be that division is a good thing. The reason I write this is that our actions (constant division over non-gospel issues) indicate that we believe separation to be beneficial.

We may say that helping the sick, poor, and needy is important, but if we don't act on this stated belief, then we don't really believe it. We may say that riches and comfort are not important to the kingdom of God, but if we pursue these things, then we are saying that we believe otherwise.

If we say unity is important, but divide from other Christians over baptism, the Lord's Supper, speaking in tongues, predestination/free will, style of music, Sunday School/small groups, size of church, etc., etc., etc., then what we believe is that division is not only acceptable but a good thing.

We end up believing that unity is good, but only with people who we agree with on just about everything. We far too often take the biblical exhortation toward unity of all believers, and change it to mean unity toward only those who are members of our own local congregation.

If we don't believe that unity is important, then we should read our bibles some more. If we say unity is important, then our actions must support this.

It is time to work on unity within the entire body of Christ. Let us make our actions support what we say we believe.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

"Just Do Something"

This is a book worth buying and reading. In fact, you should purchase one for yourself and two for friends. It is that good.

In Just Do Something, Kevin DeYoung tackles the difficult issue of discerning God's will. He challenges the idea that we, as Christians, should delay making significant decisions in life because we are waiting for some sort of word from God. DeYoung thoughtfully discusses God's will of decree (which is biblical), God's will of desire (which is biblical) , and God's will of direction (which we wish was biblical and act as if it is biblical, but is not, in fact, biblical).

DeYoung says that Christians should begin making significant decisions now. After praying for wisdom, seeking godly counsel, and seeking to be transformed by the word of God, we should quite simply do something for the Lord.

In fact, as long as our desires and actions are pleasing to God, we should begin living now. We have no reason to think that waiting and waiting is somehow spiritually mature.

This book is short (128 pages), inexpensive (about $8.00), and very enjoyable to read. Buy it.