Monday, August 31, 2009

Holy Spirit Boot Camp

Here's a link to a piece at the blog of my lovely wife, Colleen, on "Holy Spirit Boot Camp." -
A Hearing Ear: Can You Hear The Call Of The Holy Spirit

I believe it’s a lot like boot camp. God let’s you know what he wants of you, then he starts tearing you apart piece by piece so that you will put God first and last. God will not tolerate anything or one coming before him. The only way to insure this is for us to willingly put ourselves under the Holy Spirits discipline. Unless you go through the Holy Spirit’s boot camp you can not and will not be prepared.

Good News for Broken Hearts

"The Law is for the proud and the Gospel for the brokenhearted."

- Martin Luther

Hat Tip: Monergism :: Law and Gospel

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Great Exchange

"Lord Jesus,
You are my righteousness,
I am your sin.

You took on you what was mine;
yet set on me what was yours.

You became what you were not,
that I might become what I was not.

- Martin Luther"

Hat Tip: You Are My Righteousness : Kingdom People:

Feeling Scripture

Thinking about this quote I saw last week from Jared Willson at The Gospel-Driven Church: 5 Ways to Feel Scripture.
"My conviction is that evangelicals by and large have lost their ability to feel Scripture. The great irony is that now when the Bible is more available than any time in history, we are perhaps more biblically illiterate than any Christian generation in history.The great opportunity in this, of course, is that our generation is now extra ripe for biblical transformation and a revival in commitment to the deep well of Scripture."
I have always suspected that our problem is not so much feeling Scripture as in thinking Scripture. We are certainly a biblically illiterate generation. However, most people I know seem to relate almost entirely to the Bible through their feelings. What a passage means "to me" is what is important, and that seems to be determined almost entirely by how it makes one feel. What we need is a return to thinking about Scripture, and a reuniting of feelings to be based on what God actually says in His Word, prior to our personal reaction to it.

However, to give Jared credit, he went on in his post to discuss the rules of hermeneutics (the science of Biblical interpretation), and I agreed with what he then said. Therefore, I don't think he was using the word "feel" in the way I would usually use it. I think what he meant is that the objective truth of Scripture that we learn and know in our minds must impact our feelings and imaginations in order for that truth to change behavior. That is truth!

What do you think?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Katrina Anniversary

Today is the 4th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's devastation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. New Orleans got the publicity, but the center of the storm hit Mississippi.

Here's what I wrote last year about our family's experiences during that storm.

I pray that nothing like this happens this year!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Trinity Truths

C. Michael Patton wrote some good stuff this week on teaching about the Trinity. This was published based on a class he did for teenagers on this doctrine. If teens can be learning this stuff, wouldn't it be a good idea for the rest of us? See Parchment and Pen » “The Trinity is Like 3-in-1 Shampoo”. . . And Other Stupid Statements

“The doctrine of the Trinity is like an egg: three parts, one thing.” Ever heard that? How about this, “The doctrine of the Trinity is like a three leaf clover: three leaves, one clover.” Or how about THIS, “The doctrine of the Trinity is like water: three forms (ice, steam, liquid) one substance.” But the greatest I ever heard was by a guy in one of my classes. He said that he thought that the Trinity was like 3 in 1 shampoo: three activities, one substance.”

Stupid statements. Creative, but stupid. Don’t use them. Any of them. Ever.

I recommend the whole article to my readers. All Praise to our God in Three Persons, Blessed Trinity!

Don't Get Infected With Last Days Fever

Saw a good article this week by J. Lee Grady at Charisma Magazine warning believers Don't Get Infected With Last Days Fever

If you study the great Christian revivals of the past you find that none were triggered by date-setting, rapture fever or Bible prophecy seminars. We must preach the cross. Of course we tell the world that Christ is returning. But we do not have permission to muddle our message with nonsense about dates and global conspiracies.

John Wesley and George Whitefield preached repentance, the atonement of Christ and the reality of hell. William and Catherine Booth wept for souls and preached the message of salvation throughout England. Evan Roberts begged God to close the gates of hell in Wales for a year so that he could preach the simple gospel of a perfect redeemer. In all these cases genuine revival was the result. How I wish we could adopt this passionate focus on what really matters.

Don't you think we'd all be better off with more emphasis on the Cross and less on the rapture? I do!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cheater, Cheater

I don't know what this story from Northern Virginia was dong on the web site of a Los Angeles TV station, but I sure got a chuckle out of it. See "I Cheated. This Is My Punishment." NBC Los Angeles. There has got to be a country song in here somewhere!

"Shame can be a powerful punishment. Just ask the guy who had to stand at the corner of Leesburg Pike and International Drive in Tysons Corner, Va., on Wednesday morning.

You know, the guy wearing the sign that said, "I CHEATED. THIS IS MY PUNISHMENT."

William Taylor, of Centreville, Va., told a passerby that he cheated on his wife -- and she found evidence of it on his cell phone. So the wife doled out a rather creative punishment: He had to stand at the intersection during morning rush, wearing the handmade sign.

People reported seeing him as early as 9 a.m., and his presence was discussed on several of D.C.'s morning radio shows. A little before 11 a.m., Taylor's wife texted him and said he'd been out there long enough. He removed the sign and skedaddled.

Leesburg Pike in Tysons Corner is one of the most traffic-clogged arteries in the area, making for maximum viewing pleasure.

Hope it was worth it, buddy."

The Test of Pain

"I will offer you a simple litmus test to determine whether a person has healthy or unhealthy religion. What do they do with their pain—even their daily little disappointments? Do they transform their pain or do they transmit it? People who are practiced in transforming actual life pain, like Jesus on the cross, are the only spiritual authorities worth following. They know. They can lead and teach. The rest of us just talk. "

Richard Rohr, quoted by Grace at kingdom grace

What Does It Mean to Be Gospel-Centered?

What Does It Mean to Be Gospel-Centered? Timmy Brister at Provocations & Pantings posted some suggestions from his Twitter friends. There are some good and thought provoking suggestions here.

Last Saturday, I asked my Twitter followers the question, “If you were to explain to a new Christian what it means to be gospel-centered, what what would you tell them?” Below are some (not all) of the responses I received:

erikraymond: The truth of what Christ did in history for me (gospel) calibrates everything I do in my life now for his glory (worship) Col.3

jaredcwilson: My standard operating procedure for life comes from knowing I’m a sinner but that Jesus died and rose again out of love for me

JonMcIntosh: Change or transformation of any kind, especially authentic heart-transformation, cannot happen apart from the gospel of grace.

JoshCousineau: You never move beyond the Cross & what Jesus did, the gospel is not the ABC but the A-Z of your new found Christian walk.

pastorjamie: seeing, in all things, what’s beautiful, what’s broken, and how the Gospel (D,B,R) redeems, restores, and renews everything.

timothywashere: In all I do, drawing all goodness and my very life not from self but from the sacrifice and new life that is in Christ alone.

ggrobinson: Cross informed thoughts, attitudes & actions that make us intentionally missional instruments of grace 2 the glory of Christ.

MichaelLeeAdams: 2 live intentionally, purposefully 2 share and show the love, forgivnes, redeption, goodns, & glory of Jesus 2 da world, daily

adamchristensen: I think it should mean that in every situation and setting the gospel is the lens/filter through which we view; i.e…adamchristensen: …we don’t about anything without a gospel-flavor to it.

t_reck: GC means recognizing practically the implications of the Gospel in everything. Theologizing actually lived out.

mheerema: “You have been shown mercy (not getting what you deserve) and grace
(getting what you don’t deserve), go give mercy and grace”

ecpoe: 1 Cor. 2:2 comes to mind–”For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. “

ChristBookNotes: Daily reminding myself of the sinless life, the gruesome death, and glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ

So, how would you define "gospel centered" Christianity in one simple sentence?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It's Not Performance Based!

"My observation of Christendom is that most of us tend to base our relationship with God on our performance instead of on His grace. If we’ve performed well–whatever “well” is on our opinion–then we expect God to bless us. If we haven’t done so well, our expectations are reduced accordingly. In this sense, we live by works rather than by grace. We are saved by grace, but we are living by the “sweat” of our own performance.

Moreover, we are always challenging ourselves and one another to “try harder.” We seem to believe success in the Christian life (however we define success) is basically up to us: our commitment, our discipline, and our zeal, with some help from God along the way. We give lip service to the attitude of the Apostle Paul, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10), but our unspoken motto is, “God helps those who help themselves.” The realization that my daily relationship with God is based on the infinite merit of Christ instead of my own performance is a very freeing and joyous experience."
Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace, quoted by Tullian Tchividjian at On Earth as it is in Heaven » Blog Archive » Are You Living By The Sweat Of Your Own Performance?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sobering Economic Stats

Sobering stats: this year the federal government will:
  • spend $30,958 per household
  • tax $17,576 per household
  • borrow $13,392 per household
  • Federal spending, in particular, will be increased by 22%, account for 26% of the gross domestic product (GDP)
By 2019, we'll be spending almost $800 billion just to pay net interest on our debt. And none of these estimates include the cost of health-care reform!

Hat Tip: Between Two Worlds: Spend, Tax, and Borrow

Even Christians Need to Hear the Gospel

Ever walked out of a church service feeling condemned?

I know, that's like asking have you ever had an upset stomach: the answer is most probably yes. So many sermons are full of exhortations to do more for God: Read your Bible, serve the poor, tithe, volunteer, love your wife, witness to your neighbors, etc. It would be easy for anyone to just throw their hands up and cry: "It's hopeless, I'll never measure up!"
Pastor Kevin DeYoung wrote a good piece this week on the antidote to that problem - preaching the gospel to Christians. See On Mission, Changing the World, and Not Being Able to Do It All

....we need to make sure our exhortations to do more rise to the level of God’s glory and sink deep into the gospel. If the exhortations don’t culminate in the glory of God then the youth people and the evangelism people and the poverty people are not really after the same thing. They are just competing interest groups in your church or in your mind. And if the exhortations don’t go deep into the gospel (and they often don’t), then we are just beating up others and ourselves with utopian dreams and masochistic oughts.The gospel of Christ crucified for sinners is of first importance after all. So don’t forget: God loves you. God forgives you. God redeems you. God keeps you. God was here before you and will be here long after you. The truth, the world, the church, the lost, the poor, the children are not dependent upon you....

... But there are also a whole bunch of Christians who need to be set free from their performance-minded, law-keeping, world-changing, participate-with-God-in-recreating-the-cosmos shackles. I promise you, some of the best people in your churches are getting tired. They don’t need another rah-rah pep talk. They don’t need to hear more statistics and more stories Sunday after Sunday about how bad everything is in the world. They need to hear about Christ’s death and resurrection. They need to hear how we are justified by faith apart from works of the law. They need to hear the old, old story once more. Because the secret of the gospel is that we actually do more when we hear less about all we need to do for God and hear more about all that God has already done for us.

Read the whole thing - It made my day!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Worship Service

Ever wonder why it is called a “worship service”?

If asked to describe a typical Sunday morning meeting at my home church, I might describe it as follows: “First we worship for about 30 minutes (referring to the musical part of the meeting). Then we have announcements and the offering, followed by a thirty minute sermon. Finally we end with prayer and ministry time.”

Notice that this description uses the verb “worship” to only refer to the singing and musical part of the meeting’s activities? This has become a common consensus habit among charismatic evangelicals. After all, everyone knows that Worship = Singing? Don’t they?

Here’s a better way to describe the same meeting.

“First, we worship God with singing and music. Then we worship Him in celebration of what He is doing in our midst. We next worship by giving tithes and offerings. After that we worship by hearing His Word with attention and responding with obedience. Finally, we end the meeting with worship by helping and serving others.”

It is all worship, when done with the right attitude. That is why it is called a worship service!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Gift-Love of God

“Divine Love is Gift-love. The Father gives all He is and has to the Son. The Son gives Himself back to the Father, and gives Himself to the world, and for the world to the Father, and thus gives the world (in Himself) back to the Father too.”

- C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves (New York, NY, Inspirational Press, 1991), 213.

Hat Tip: The Gift-Love of God « Of First Importance

Preaching Christ All The Time

“Faith is not built by preaching introspectively (constantly challenging people to question whether they have faith); faith is not built by preaching moralistically (which has exactly the opposite effect of focusing attention on the self rather than on Christ, in whom our faith is placed); faith is not built by joining the culture wars and taking potshots at what is wrong with our culture. Faith is built by careful, thorough exposition of the person, character, and work of Christ…

.... And the reason for this dispirited condition is that the pulpit is largely silent about Christ. He is mentioned only as an afterthought or appendage to a sermon; in many churches, he is never proclaimed as the central point of a sermon, and surely not on a regular, weekly basis.”

—T. David Gordon, Why Johnny Can’t Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers (P&R 2009) pp. 75—76, 88—89.

Hat Tip: Preaching Christ « Miscellanies.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Peace, Meekness and Joy

Interesting comments at "Mount Jesus" Blog on Musing about Meekness. Something to think and pray about.
Quarreling is of course a product of unmeekness. Each one wants what he or she wants, and that they get it is the overriding concern. But our wants conflict, so the wants of one are set against the wants of the other. It gets extremely complicated and entangling, and frustration--frustrated desires--is the result. In our frustration we bring these desires to God--God, I want it, I want it bad, I've been wanting it for so long, please satisfy my desire!--we ask wrongly. Our wanting becomes a burden, and we want to be rid of wanting, and simply have what we desire, but of course this can never be. Sometimes I think what we really desire is the feeling of not wanting any more, but simply of having. Always having. Like someone who has come into a fortune suddenly, and can always have whatever he wants. So we play the lottery, or we cheat on our taxes, or we go into massive debt, or we quarrel in frustration within our own family, which is made up of other frustrated wanters. Oh who shall save me from this body of death?

The zen answer would be to quit wanting, I suppose, but good luck with that. The Bible answer is, rejoice in the Lord...

...See if you're anxious about nothing, it's going to change the way you pray. Instead of praying in the wrong spirit, out of our frustrated desire, we're praying out of our oneness in Christ, our rejoicing, and I would suggest certain kinds of long-time wants are just going to pale in that atmosphere, and we'll be praying with thanksgiving for what we've been given instead of out of frustrated desires. Amazing! And then the peace of God guards our hearts and minds!

Lakeland Outpouring: One Year Later

It has now been about a year since the Lakeland Renewal - the big thing in Charismatic Circles for 2008 - blew up in a scandal caused by Todd Bentley's moral failings. Here's what the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God says now:

QUOTE: "I don't understand why anyone in their right mind would ever give Todd Bentley a platform again. I believe in redemption, but for some things you forever forfeit your public ministry. This man has proven by his lifestyle to be who he is, and our churches shouldn't be using him, period." —Assemblies of God General Superintendent George O. Wood, commenting on what in many charismatic circles has been one of the most divisive issues in the past year. Bentley left the Lakeland Outpouring last August amid scandal and—in fewer than 12 months—divorced, remarried, entered into a restoration process with Rick Joyner and relaunched his public ministry. [, 8/15/09]

From: Charima Magazine Lakeland Outpouring: One Year Later

My previous comments here, here and here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Nature of Idolatry

“It is the normal state of the human heart to try to build its identity around something besides God.” Soren Kierkegaard

“Spiritual pride is the illusion that you are competant to run your own life, achieve your own sense of self worth, and find a purpose big enough to give you meaning in life without God.” Tim Keller

“Idolatry is worshipping anything that ought to be used, or using anything that is meant to be worshipped.” St. Augustine

“An idol is anything we trust in for deliverance in the place of Jesus and his grace.” Scotty Smith

Quotes collected by Tullian Tchividjian at On Earth as it is in Heaven » Blog Archive » Four Great Quotes On Idolatry - With a warning that Christians can be just as guilty of idolatry as any body else!

The Evil Cannot Be Hidden

Are the foundations of "the Culture of Death" starting to crumble?

Albert Mohler has written a article about news this week regarding two unlikely testimonies against unthinking acceptance of abortion as simply a "choice" or "right": reporter Sarah Kliff and actress Kourtney Kardashian.
Kliff wrote of discomfort after witnessing an abortion. Kardashian told of her decision to not abort her baby.

Please look at the entire piece - Rethinking Abortion -- Two Unexpected Witnesses.

The final paragraph
"The Culture of Death looms as a massive threat, but its foundations are crumbling. Unexpected witnesses such as Sarah Kliff and Kourtney Kardashian help us to see how moral insight can emerge from unexpected experiences, reflections, and witnesses. Some of the most profound witnesses to the horror of abortion and the sanctity of human life do not even know that they are so. The evil of abortion cannot be hidden once it is seen, and a voice for life cannot be forgotten once it is heard."
Oh Lord, turn our culture away from death to embrace life!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Blog Changes Again

Yes, I'm playing around with the look of my blog again. I never have been totally satisfied with the look of any of the preset templates offered by blogger.

Maybe someday I'll know enough "html" to do my own design. And maybe Mississippi State will win the NCAA football championship and the Redskins will win the Super Bowl - in the same year! I can dream, can't I?

Besides, who is actually reading this stuff anyway? ;-)

Why Should We Read Old Books?

Here's a good quote by Bruce Ashford at "Between the Times" on Why Should We Read Old Books

...We rarely read old books. We tend to limit ourselves by era, tribe, and category-we read books written in our day, but people just like us, and that can be placed in one or two limited genres. But this sort of epistolary reductionism is to our detriment-the older books are precisely the ones that will help us to escape the limitations of our current era, learn from those who are not a part of our local tribe, and transcend the categories to which we have become accustomed.

We benefit from reading great authors from eras past more than from reading a great number of books. In Christian theology and related fields, this means that we want to pick a handful of theologians who have influenced the church and make sure that we have read at least a little bit of what they wrote. If you are a seminarian, you want to read Irenaeus, Athanasius, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and Barth, the towering figures in church history. (Frank Peretti is not a towering figure in church history.) In fact, you may want to choose one or two of these authors and read everything they’ve written, and read some of their books multiple times.
I will admit some weakness in this area. I have read some Irenaeus, Augustine, Luther, Edwards, etc, to my benefits. But I must confess that the older writing styles with long and complicated sentence structrue (especially Edwards!) have made it difficult for me.

Got to keep trying.

‘Public Option’ Was Created to Lead to Single Payer

Another good quote from Red Sate - ‘Public Option’ Was Created to Lead to Single Payer - BrianFaughnan’s blog - RedState

Democrats have for years been embracing the public option and explaining that it will lead to single-payer care. This has been its central appeal. And now - despite the ample evidence on the public record - they claim it would be simply one more option? Why won’t they just be honest? Lies aren’t working, anyway

What Needs to be Said

I love (and agree with) this comment by Moe Lane at RedState.Com

What every Republican candidate or politician needs to say, and keep saying, from now on:

* Stop spending money that we don’t have.
* Stop using the courts to steal wins you can’t get at the voting booth.
* Stop pretending that you can make us all rich by making some of us poorer.
* Stop ignoring foreign affairs.
* Stop acting like you’re above us all.

And, finally:

* Stop calling us ‘un-American’ and ‘traitors’ when we disagree with you.

I certainly couldn't say it better!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Plug for "A Boomer in the Pew"

One of the blogs I regularly read, David Porter at A Boomer in the Pew , is having a Summer Subscription Drive. He has asked his readers to help plug him on their blogs, and I am happy to do so.

I've had David's blog on my Google Reader list for a while now. I've been enjoying his series of meditations and studies as he works his way through the ESV Study Bible. Keep up the good work, David!

Hurricane Anniversary

Marshall Ramsey cartoon from the Jackson, MS The Clarion-Ledger

This Monday was the 40th anniversary of Hurricane Camille, which devastated the Mississippi gulf coast in 1969. Next week will be the 4th anniversary of Katrina, which landed around Waveland, MS on August 29, 2005.

God be with us this year.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Roast Baptist Preacher

Hat Tip: Roast Baptist | The Sacred Sandwich

Punishment and Perfection

“God requires two things of us: punishment for our sins and perfection in our lives. Our sins must be punished, and our lives must be righteous. But we cannot bear our own punishment, and we cannot provide our own righteousness. Therefore, God, out of His immeasurable love for us, provided his own Son to do both. Christ bears our punishment, and Christ performs our righteousness. And When we receive Christ, all of his punishment and all of his righteousness is counted as ours.”

- John Piper, This Momentary Marriage (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2009), 46.

Hat Tip: Of First Importance

Monday, August 17, 2009

Abortion -- Liberating Women or Empowering Men?

For so long we have been told that Abortion rights are all about liberation for women and the freedom for women to "choose." Albert Mohler pointed out today that The Hidden Reality of Abortion is that abortion frees men from their responsibilities and traps women in sexual second class citizenship. Excerpt below:

One of the most insidious aspects of the abortion controversy has been the success of the feminist movement in presenting abortion on demand as a matter central to the liberation of women. The feminist logic suggests that women can never be seen as equal to men in terms of career so long as the "risk" and reality of pregnancy and motherhood are present. As the feminists argue, abortion becomes a mechanism for leveling the playing field and for liberating women.

As far back as the 1970s, at least some feminists saw through this logic. Catherine MacKinnon, a radical feminist legal scholar, argued that legal abortion would merely facilitate the "heterosexual availability" of women. In other words, abortion would be a benefit to men, who would be liberated to take sexual advantage of women, knowing that the availability of legal abortion would effectively remove their risk of the entanglements that would come with pregnancy and parenthood....

....The obvious question is this -- how is it that feminists, the abortion industry, and the advocates of abortion rights get away with their claim that abortion liberates women? In truth, the availability of abortion has served to liberate irresponsible men from duty, morality, and responsibility. Of course, the even greater tragedy is the death of unborn children by the millions. Only the Culture of Death would present the slaughter of the innocents as liberation.

Inconsistant Moral Outrage

Denny Burk asked a good question today:

Why is it in our culture that there is almost universal disgust at Michael Vick’s dog-killing, but at best only ambivalence toward the nearly 50 million unborn human babies that have been cruelly and legally killed in America since 1973? Only the most morally retrograde culture would be outraged by the former while thinking very little about the latter. God help us.

From: » Michael Vick and Moral Outrage Denny Burk

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Source of All Our Problems

Another great Tim Keller quote:

All of our personal problems and church problems come because we don’t come continually back to the gospel to work it in and live it out.”

- Timothy Keller, “Being the Church in Our Culture” (2006)

This is another reminder that I need the Gospel beat into my head.

Hat Tip: Of First Importance

Saturday, August 15, 2009

More Holy and More Loving Than Imagined

“The gospel shows us that God is far more holy and absolute than the moralists’ god, because he could not be satisfied by our moral efforts, even the best! On the other hand, the gospel shows us that God is far mare loving and gracious than the relativists’ god. They say that God (if he exists) just loves everyone no matter what they do. The true God of the gospel had to suffer and die to save us, while the god of the relativist pays no price to love us.”

- Timothy Keller, “Being the Church in Our Culture” (2006)

Hat Tip: The God of the Gospel « Of First Importance

How is it that everything this man writes or says is so profound! Can't wait for the new book.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Strong and More Strong

Haven't had a good Luther quote in a while:

"If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong (sin boldly), but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2. Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign."

Letter 99, Paragraph 13. Erika Bullmann Flores, Tr. from: Dr. Martin Luther's Saemmtliche Schriften Dr. Johann Georg Walch Ed. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, N.D.), Vol. 15, cols. 2585-2590. [3]

Hat Tip:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Horrible Rejection

“Why am I so blessed? I am blessed because, in the most painful moment in human history, Jesus willingly subjected himself to the rejection of his Father. He took on my sin and allowed himself to be rejected. In this unthinkable moment of substitution, the Trinity was torn apart as the Father turned away the Son. Here is what you and I have to understand: Jesus was willing to suffer the horrible rejection of his Father so that you and I would never, ever have to experience it ourselves.”

- Paul David Tripp, A Shelter in the Time of Storm (Wheaton, IL; Crossway Books, 2009), 92.

Hat Tip: Of First Importance

A Sign Without the Word Points Nowhere

I'm still thinking about the article by Matt Sorger -Just Show Me the Stuff - that I commented on yesterday in my post A Wise Warning to the Prophetic Movement. Here's another excerpt. I've highlighted a sentence in the second paragraph below that I think is of crucial importance.

The sign I am most after these days is the sign of a life transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. I want to see people hungry to truly apply the Word of God to their lives—not desiring simply to hear something new but to put into practice what they already know.

I want to see people walking in love. I want to see people living righteously. I want to see people knowing who they are in Christ so the devil can't continually beat them up. I want to see people experience the abundant life Jesus came to give them. I want to see people preaching the gospel in power, laying hands on the sick, casting out demons and raising the dead. But we can never forget that the power of the gospel is revealed through the foolishness of preaching—not just preaching our good stories, but preaching the Word of God with power and authority. A sign without the Word points nowhere.

I want to encourage the body of Christ in these days to evaluate everything you have believed and be sure it is pure gospel. Go back and read the New Testament from cover to cover and ask the Holy Spirit to write upon your heart the full counsel of God's Word as revealed in the New Covenant. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you into all truth and to be sure your foundations are strong and solid.

Never neglect God's Word. It has the power to change your life. As you soak in God's Word and in His presence, you will live a truly Spirit-filled, Spirit-empowered life that will make a real difference in the world around you. Go and be the salt and light God has called you to be!

It is a very important point that signs follow the Word. I've known people who have experienced the power of God, but later turned away from Jesus to embrace this world. Their problem was that they got a sign without following its pointing to the Word of God. The Word (Living and Written) did not get deep in their heart, and they fell away.

The meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words translated in our English Bibles as Messiah and Christ is simply "Anointed One." The anointing of God's Spirit abides in fullness on Jesus, the Anointed One. We need good preaching of and about Jesus Christ before trying for signs, because signs follow the Word and the anointing abides on the Anointed One.

If you want an anointed message- accurately proclaim Jesus Christ in His fullness. If you want an anointed sermon - talk about Jesus and say what Jesus said. If you want an anointed life - abide in Jesus Christ. If you want an anointed ministry- represent Jesus Christ in action and character and give Him all the glory. Putting signs or experiences first is getting the cart before the horse, creates signs that point nowhere, and is leading in some circles to an idolatry of experience over truth.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Wise Warning to the Prophetic Movement

I believe in the continuance of both prophetic gifts and the prophetic office in the church. However, that belief has been somewhat theoretical at times, because I have seen such poor example and lack of good modelling of prophetic ministry within the current self-described prophetic movement. The general exaltation of gifting over character and integrity, combined with a downplaying sound Scriptural teaching as a limitation and protection for prophetic ministry (and some general "flakiness" in practice) have concerned and offended me.

Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised this week to see the following material in a newsletter from Matt Sorger republished by Charisma Magazine and entitled Just Show Me the 'Stuff'!
It became apparent that what this church wanted was a charismatic show—the "signs following" with no preaching of the Word. I'm sorry, but I am a Word preacher.

I believe their outlook reflects an alarming trend in the prophetic movement. It seems that we are unintentionally cultivating the idea that the truth of the gospel, which emphasizes the power of the cross and blood of Christ, is no longer good enough. We need signs, signs and more signs. A life transformed by the power of God's amazing Word is not enough.

I want you to hear my heart in this. I am all for supernatural encounters. I have had many myself, and I know of others in ministry who have had some beautiful, real, life-changing supernatural encounters with God. But I am not into charismatic hype or manipulation. Just say it like it is. Don't exaggerate, add to or blow something up just to make a good story or to sell a bunch of CDs.

....I am not being negative. I am seeking to bring balance into a movement I am proud to be a part of—a movement that at one time didn't want to hear just empty words but words backed up with real substance, power and glory.I want the real thing! I want the real manifest presence of God. I want the real miracles, the real signs and wonders, the real angelic encounters (as God chooses to give them to me). I don't want a hyped-up version.

And I don't want to hear something new and different just for the sake of hearing something I have never heard before. I want my everyday life encountered in a real way by God's Word and anointing. I want to hear something that I can apply to my life. I want the fullness of God's Word to renew my mind, change me from the inside out and fill my life with real power and glory.

People who want to hear only something they have never heard before are in serious danger of opening themselves up to a gospel that is different from the one we find in Scripture. If you are running around looking for a new revelation without first putting into practice the hundreds of revelations given to us in God's Word, you are looking in the wrong direction. God has not called us to be flakey. He has called us to be solidly grounded in Him, to preach the gospel in season and out, and to impact the world around us as salt and light.

Please follow the link and red the whole thing. Sorger is right on! I think one of the most healthy things that could happen in the prophetic movement is for prophets to either learn how to balance their ministries with sound Gospel preaching and Bible exposition, or to travel with gifted teachers who can provide that balance. And both the prophets and teachers need to listen to and learn from each other. Churches should be led by prophets and teachers (Acts 13:1-3) working together in unity.

I believe that if leaders and followers of the prophetic movement will heed this warning the movement will be much more healthy and useful to the church as a whole and the purposes of God.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Polyamory -- Perfectly Plural Placements

We've all heard plenty about Gay marriage and the great debate about the definition of marriage- but are you ready for Polyamory? Albert Mohler writes:
Polyamory, reports Newsweek, is having a "coming-out-party." Polyamory is the current "term of art" applied to "families" or "clusters" comprised of multiple sexual partners. As Newsweek explains, this is not exactly polygamy, because marriage is not the issue. Advocates of polyamory argue that their lifestyle is not "open marriage." Indeed, they define their movement in terms of the moral principle of "ethical nonmonogamy," defined as "engaging in loving, intimate relationships with more than one person -- based upon the knowledge and consent of everyone involved."
"....Perhaps the best way to understand this new movement is to understand it as a natural consequence of subverting marriage. We have largely normalized adultery, serialized marriage, separated marriage from reproduction and childbearing, and accepted divorce as a mechanism for liberation. Once this happens, boundary after boundary falls as sexual regulation virtually disappears among those defined as 'consenting adults.'"
If Gay marriage is fully accepted in American society and culture, there will be no logical barrier to polyamory in its various forms also achieving legal status.

"You Can Keep Your Health Plan" (Until You Change Jobs)

A Fact All Americans need to know:

Under the Democrat-sponsored bill, existing insurance policies are “grandfathered” into the new, overhauled national health care system, meaning that you have the option to keep your health coverage plan and provider even if they don’t conform to the new standards set by the federal government.

However, beginning the year this bill takes effect, individuals who leave their current insurer for any reason – whether it be moving to a different state or changing to a different employer – will be forced to purchase a new government-approved private plan or to enroll in the government-run, taxpayer-funded “public option” for their health coverage, rather than being allowed to choose coverage similar to that which they had before the advent of Obamacare.

From :
Health Care Bill Fact of the Day: ‘You Can Keep Your Health Plan,’ But Once You Change it, the Government is Your Only Option - Jeff_Emanuel’s blog - RedState

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Healthcare Legislation to Fund Abortions

Quoted from Healthcare Legislation to Fund Abortions | Denny Burk (and I agree with the final paragraph).

The Associated Press reports that Americans may be getting more than they bargained for from healthcare legislation that is now making its way through Congress.

“Health care legislation before Congress would allow a new government-sponsored insurance plan to cover abortions, a decision that would affect millions of women and recast federal policy on the divisive issue. . .

“Advocates on both sides are preparing for a renewed battle over abortion, which could jeopardize political support for President Barack Obama’s health care initiative aimed at covering nearly 50 million uninsured and restraining medical costs. The dispute could come to a head with House and Senate floor votes on abortion this fall, a prospect that many lawmakers would like to avoid.”
For me, the bottom line is this. If a government-funded healthcare plan funds abortion, then it amounts to government-funded infanticide. No consistently pro-life person can support healthcare reform that includes coverage for abortions. Beware of those who argue otherwise.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Don’t Block the Flow of the Holy Ghost

J. Lee Grady at Charisma Magazine has another great article up at "Fire In My Bones" called Don’t Block the Flow of the Holy Ghost. An excerpt:

We love to go to the altar for a touch from God. We love the goose bumps, the shaking, the emotion of the moment. We love to fall on the floor and experience one filling after another. But I am afraid some of us are soaking up the anointing but not giving it away. Our charismatic experience has become inward and selfish. We get up off the floor and live like we want to.

Pentecost is not a party. If we truly want to be empowered we must offer God an unqualified yes. We must crucify every no. We must become a conduit to reach others; not a reservoir with no outlet.

Read the whole thing - and let's all pray for a new and deeper filling of the Spirit.

Pathetic Or Prophetic

John Paul Jackson, has published a great article at Charisma Magazine on "Taking the Pathetic Out of the Prophetic" This is a great article, and I commend it for your consideration.
...when I look at the broad spectrum of prophetic ministry today, I become concerned. I fear that a lot of us have gone off course, and it is going to take more than a shift in attitude to get us back.

It is going to take sweeping, all-inclusive prophetic reformation—reformation that begins within prophetic individuals, not the church. The way prophetic people view themselves must radically change first, and only then will the church change the way it views prophetic ministry.


All of us have probably heard about prophetic individuals who are supposedly “essential” to a particular move of God, but when we make any man or woman the foundation for God’s actions, we are coming perilously close to turning the gift into an idol. This belief has resulted in an entire generation of young men and women who base their identity so heavily on their gifts that when they are questioned about their words or behavior, they act as if God Himself is being called on the carpet.


Make no mistake about it: Our nation views anyone who is on Christian TV as an example of Christianity—as well they should! The problem is that some ministers who appear on television are not good examples because of their ungodly lifestyles. By supporting those who commit adultery, divorce their spouses and engage in sexual immorality, we promote these behaviors and encourage Christians as well as non-Christians to think they are OK.

(The picture above also comes from the Charisma article.)

Hat Tip: CHARISMATICA » “Taking the Pathetic Out of the Prophetic”

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bus Privacy

God Paid It

“The cross is not simply a lovely example of sacrificial love. Throwing your life away needlessly is not admirable — it is wrong. Jesus’ death was only a good example if it was more than an example, if it was something absolutely necessary to rescue us. And it was. Why did Jesus have to die in order to forgive us? There was a debt to be paid — God himself paid it. There was a penalty to be born — God himself bore it. Forgiveness is always a form of costly suffering.”

- Timothy Keller, The Reason For God (New York, NY: Dutton, 2008), 193.

Hat Tip: Of First Importance

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Jump Start Your Prayer Life

From Dr. Martin Lolyd-Jones, on how to jump start your prayer life.

You have to learn how to kindle a flame in your spirit, to warm yourself up, to give yourself a start. It is comparable, if you like, to starting a car when it is cold. You have to learn how to use a spiritual choke. I have found it most rewarding to do that, and not to struggle vainly. When one finds oneself in this condition, and that it is difficult to pray, do not struggle in prayer for the time being, but read something that will warm and stimulate you, and you will find that it will put you into a condition in which you will be able to pray more freely.
Hat Tip: Give Your Prayer A Kick In the Pants The Blazing Center

A Jesus Manifesto

Have you seen the Jesus Manifesto?

Jesus Christ is the gravitational pull that brings everything together and gives them significance, reality, and meaning. Without him, all things lose their value. Without him, all things are but detached pieces floating around in space.

It is possible to emphasize a spiritual truth, value, virtue, or gift, yet miss Christ . . . who is the embodiment and incarnation of all spiritual truth, values, virtues, and gifts.

Seek a truth, a value, a virtue, or a spiritual gift, and you have obtained something dead.

Seek Christ, embrace Christ, know Christ, and you have touched him who is Life. And in him resides all Truth, Values, Virtues and Gifts in living color. Beauty has its meaning in the beauty of Christ, in whom is found all that makes us lovely and loveable.

Then there is this:

Jesus Christ cannot be separated from his teachings. Aristotle says to his disciples, “Follow my teachings.” Socrates says to his disciples, “Follow my teachings.” Buddha says to his disciples, “Follow my meditations.” Confucius says to his disciples, “Follow my sayings.” Muhammad says to his disciples, “Follow my noble pillars.” Jesus says to his disciples, “Follow me.” In all other religions, a follower can follow the teachings of its founder without having a relationship with that founder. Not so with Jesus Christ. The teachings of Jesus cannot be separated from Jesus himself. Jesus Christ is still alive and he embodies his teachings. It is a profound mistake, therefore, to treat Christ as simply the founder of a set of moral, ethical, or social teaching. The Lord Jesus and his teaching are one. The Medium and the Message are One. Christ is the incarnation of the Kingdom of God and the Sermon on the Mount.

I'm not a Frank Viola fan, but have enjoyed some of Leonard Sweet's books. However, this is a good document, worth some reflection and wider desimination.