Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Jesus our Righteousness




"This is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness.—Jeremiah 23:6.




There seems to be much confusion among the followers of Christ today about what it means for the believer to be justified (declared not guilty, and declared righteous.). As I think about this great doctrine of the Scriptures, this confusion is not limited to just today, but all throughout the history of the church there has been confusion and misunderstanding concerning this cardinal doctrine of the Scriptures.

At the heart of the debate is the question: Is there anything that a man can do to be made right with God? Or is being made right with God an act that God does apart from any human will or work? Let me state, I'm not a theologian, pastor, or a university professor of the Bible, no, I'm none of those things; but what I'm is a sinner saved by grace.

When I came to Christ as a young teenager in the 1970's the weight and enormity of my sin and offense toward God was so great that in front of my high school's guidance counselor I humbly bowed my head to receive the Savior. Now to note, I was not in the guidance counselor's office getting a list of colleges to attend, or any such advice. By the middle of my freshmen year I had earned for myself the high honors of getting kicked out of school.

The Holy Spirit in such a forceful way showed me my personal sin before a holy and righteous God. I'm always reminded of my conversion experience when I read Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan. I can feel what Christian experienced when the burden of sin rolled of his back when he looked at the cross. Let me refresh you on this scene in the book:

He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending; and upon that place stood a Cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, that just as CHRISTIAN came up to the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble; and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.

Then was CHRISTIAN glad and lightsome, and said, with a merry heart,

"He hath given me rest by his sorrow,
And life by his death."
Then he stood still awhile to look and wonder; for it was very surprising to him, that the sight of the cross should thus ease him of his burden. He looked therefore, and looked again, even till the springs that were in his head sent the waters down his cheeks.


Martin Luther that great
German monk, priest, professor of theology and reformer was spiritually awakened to his lack of righteousness before a holy God. Luther began to climb the hierarchical ladder in the Church of Rome. It is noted in Luther's biography's and autobiography's that he became profoundly aware of his own personal sin. Hans Hillerbrand paints this picture of Luther's inner struggle:"The Church called upon him [Luther] to mobilize his own efforts, but he failed to see anything in his life which might be found acceptable in the sight of God. He faced God and his righteousness empty-handedly."

Luther noted that he entered the monastery after a close friend of his died and because of a lightening storm  that scared him terribly. Luther tried to propitiate God by saying mass and trying to earn his salvation through monastic holiness.

And who can forget that guy who was circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
The great Apostle Paul who exclaimed that whatever was to his profit he would consider loss for the sake of Christ. 

The Apostle's cry was to be found in Jesus, not having a righteousness of his own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
Let me get back to my original question: How can a man be justified before God? The only answer to that question has to be that, "God must declare the sinner righteous." The sinner is declared righteous by an act of God based on the perfect life that Jesus lived. Jesus fulfilled all of the requirements of the divine law of God.

Think of Justification as a forensic term. Legally and in the courtroom of God you stand tried and convicted, and your sentence is eternal separation from God. You and I failed to keep God's moral holy law, and the law and the justice of God cry out that justice be served.

But Jesus steps in and offers you (the guilty one) his very righteous life that he lived; that life that was lived in total compliance with all of God's laws and decrees.

And on that basis God can declare the guilty sinner justified based on the righteousness of His Son.

So the sinner can sing aloud, "Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Marks of a healty Church



The question, "what is a spiritually healthy church" has been knocking on my door over the last couple of years. Today, when I woke-up it was knocking  particularly loud, so off the top of my head I'll list some attributions of what I think make a church spiritually healthy.

I would note that these observations are coming from a parishioner's perspective and not so much from a church leader's perspective. I do feel that depending on what side of the pulpit you are on will certainly change the view.

My observations also come through my own personal experiences as I've journeyed through different churches. My conversion did not take place in a church or through any para church ministry. I was a young teen in the 1970's who's life came to the cross-roads when my cousin shared the gospel with me.

After my conversion, my girl friend (now my wife), found a bible study happening in the town we were in. Soon after meeting in various homes we found ourselves in a church where the main emphasis was on casting out demons and the mysterious workings of the Holy Spirit.

From there we found another Church that in many respects was similar. This particular church would have the pastor's wife speak to the congregation and tell us about her forty-day fast for Jeee-sus. In this church we witnessed people getting slain in the spirit, speaking in unknown languages, and a host of pseudo healings.

From there we journeyed on to find ourselves in a Fundamental Independent Separated Bible-Believing Baptist Church. Here we found that to be a good solider of Jesus you followed all the rules: hair was cut to a certain length, Godly women wore dresses, you didn't drink alcohol, you tithed, you came to church every time the church doors were opened, oh, and you didn't go the the theater to see ET, I could go on, but I think you get the point.

Next, we found ourselves back in the house church movement. Without any real structure or defined leadership there arose self promoters, those who would make claims that "this is my church;"  and again the ME monster would raise his ugly head.

From that house Church we found an established denominational church-- The Evangelical Free Church, where we spent twenty years.

This is my background, and from that perspective I'd like to share a few characteristics that any church should exhibit in order to be called a spiritual healthy church:

1.Leadership: All of the leader's operate from the biblical paradigm of servant leadership. All of the leaders must be spiritually and emotionally healthy. True humility must be the defining attribute of all those who are to lead.

2. God's Word: The word of God is viewed as the authoritative, inspired, inerrant, and the revelation of God to His people.

3. A church that focuses not on program development but people development:  Any church that makes the church the focus and not the building up of the saints is not a healthy church. Too many churches focus on quantity and not quality. Too many churches are so busy with building their programs that the people of God are used as a means to the church's end. 

In this type of church you begin with programs and the church looks for people to make them happen. In a healthy church the leadership looks to minister to people and may create a program to help people grow.

In a program driven church the emphasis for service will always be "what are you doing in the church." This creates a false view of how the Christian life should be lived.

The healthy Church will emphasize that all of our lives are to be lived in service to Christ. The healthy Church will not equate spirituality with the degree of involvement you have in their programs.

4. A healthy Church will be a church that makes God the center of all spiritual activity. The spiritually healthy church will do every thing with the intent to bring glory to God. The leadership in a healthy church will go to great pains to measure every thing that is proposed or done against the measuring stick "does this glorify God?"


Conclusion: I know there is no perfect Church. I know that many other things can be added to this list. This came off the top of my head and for me they can't be compromised. Let me emphasize that any healthy church must have healthy leaders---health starts from the head down.





Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Are you listening,I mean really listening?


Sometimes I feel the need to examine my life to see what kind of listener I am. Do I simply nod my head in agreement while not really hearing what is being said? Do I just give a tacit approval to comments without really allowing the other persons spoken word to penetrate my brain barrier?  Well, sad to say, I must answer in the affirmative, for so many times my listening radar gets turned off.

I'm an intense observer of people; noticing body language, how things are said, what specific words are used, and I pay particular attention if the other person is listening or just chomping at the bit waiting for their next round of mortar fire.

It seems that in our society and culture it is rally hard to have good quality conversation. Let me provide an example: The New York Telephone Company made a detailed study of telephone conversations to find out which word is the most frequently used. You have guessed it: it is the personal pronoun "I."  "I." "I." it was use 3,900 time in 500 telephone conversations. "I." "I." "I."

Think of when you are looking at a group photo, who do you look at first? bingo, you got it, yourself. It certainly seems it is in our nature to be self absorbed and consumed with the ME monster. How can we have friends, real friends, deep and meaningful relationships when we simply just try to impress people or get people interested in ourselves?

For anybody who has the time go to you tube and search Brain Regan's "me monster" and his comedy skit " I walked on the moon." If you don't crack a smile I promise to buy you dinner at your choice of restaurant, nah just kidding, but really check it out, it speaks to our topic and is extremely funny.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vymaDgJ7KLg


The "art of listening" is a skill that must be learned and practiced in order to get good at it. Good listening skills like any other skill in life be it baking, cooking, athletics, or building a rocket ship must be practiced. We must become, and here is one of my favorite words, intentional. We must zero in and become determined that we are not going to be actively thinking about a reply, no, we are going to listen, really open up our hearts  and ears and listen to the other person.

As Alfred Adler, the famous Viennese psychologist wrote:

It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury to others. It is from among such individuals that all human failures spring

We can't presume to care for others if we don't listen. We can't presume to love others if we don't listen.

Let me share God's perspective on developing the "art of listening:"

  James 1:19 ESV 

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger....

Proverbs 5:1 ESV / 

My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding....


Proverbs 18:13 ESV 

If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.

The Bible is filled with admonition after admonition on being good listeners--do you think God knew that our
sinful tendencies are to focus on ourselves?

I need some feed back on this article for some future research. Share a personal story or reference any articles or books that you have read that were helpful in the area of communication.

Thanks,
Your Brother In Christ




Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Study to show yourself approved to God!


Most people have a Facebook account. Social media has opened doors for us that otherwise would have never been opened. Old friends can get connected and get caught up on life, pictures can be shared between friends and family, and professionals can use social media to network and find job possibilities.

My personal use of Facebook has been to express my political views, share my two blogs, and to create a network of believers so that good, solid, and edifying theological debate can happen. All of this has happened through Facebook; I've met some strong solid believers who have given good counsel from God's word and have shared some fantastic resources where a christian can go and get valuable information.

Some debate threads would consume reams of paper as the topic grew in scope and while others jumped into the fray. For me it has all been a positive experience. But I'd like to share today one concern that I've come across during some of the debates.

I'd like to share at least three of the more serious theological errors that have come up in debate or in posts.  First, we should know as believer's how to handle God's word in a way that brings honor to His name, we as believer's should know how to rightly divide the word of truth, we should also at least have a workable systematic theology by which we can present the truth's of God's word in a logical and cogent manner.

Here are 3 of the more serious errors that I've come across:

1. Kinism: Now if your like me you're saying never saw that word before, what does it mean? Here is a quick definition.

Kinism is one branch of a diverse series of religious movements that promote racial segregation. What makes Kinism different is the belief that God has ordained an order for mankind that goes beyond personal and individual worship. They believe that God has set boundaries for groups of human beings and that human beings should respect those boundaries by maintaining a tribal order. http://www.gotquestions.org/kinism.html

In short order it is a type of Biblical sanctioned segregation and racism.

2. The second error that I came across is the denial of original sin and the belief that man can be justified by his works. This error continued and said that the believer does not receive the righteousness of Christ (called imputed righteousness). This teaching denies the orthodox and biblical teaching that man is born with Adams guilt and thus has a depraved sinful nature (Psalm 51:5; Eph. 2:3; Gen 8:21).

 But the Bible says that man can't work to attain God's pleasure. Man must receive God's righteousness ( Rom  3:20,28; 4:5,22,25).

This is a very serous error that seeks to spread the poison that man is basically good and that he can through his own human efforts please God. This teaching takes the significance of the cross away for the believer, for the believer clings tot that "old rugged cross" for in and through the cross the believer finds propitiation for his sins.

The last error taught that there is no Second Coming of  Christ-the preterist teaches that Christ came already at the destruction of the Jewish Temple in A.D. 70.

This false teaching takes away the blessed hope of the christian as Titus tells us we have: "while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).

There are dozens of scriptures that deal with the second coming of Christ or the Day of the Lord here are just a few:

Matthew 16:27   For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.
Matthew 23:39    For I tell you, ye again until yoou wil not see mu say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'
Matthew 24:27   For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.  
Matthew 24:30  "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn.  they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. 
Matthew 24: 36-39  No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.   As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.   For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark;  and they knew nothng about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.  That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
Matthew 24:42  "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come."
Mathew 26:64  "Yes it is as you say,"  Jesus replied.  "But I say to all of you:  In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven."
Mark 8:36-38    What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?  If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with holy angels.
Mark 13:26-27   At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.  And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.
Mark 13:35-37   Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back - whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.  If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.  What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!'
Mark 14:61-62    Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?" "I am," said Jesus. "And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Might One and coming on the clouds of heaven."
Luke 9:26-27   If anyone I fanyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.  I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God."
Luke 17:28-30    "It was the same in the days of Lot.  People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building.  But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.  "It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.
Luke 18:8    I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.  However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"
Luke 21:25-28  "There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars.  On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.  Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.   At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift your heads, becasue your redemption is drawing near."


Christian read, and study your Bible.. Pray for understanding, seek out good, solid commentary's, discuss in small groups, and talk to your pastor and teaching elders.

Study to show yourself approved to God.

Addendum: The above stated position would be held by a hyper preterist. A partial preterist does not believe that all prophecy was fullfilled in A.D. 70, thus a partial preterist does believe the future coming of Christ that is physical and real.

 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

" Your Best Life Now" is contrary to the gospel message as taught by Christ.


John Bunyan speaks out! Bunyan's voice from his prison cell in Bedford, England cries out with the warning that the Christian life is fraught with difficulties.

Bunyan summons us to view the Christian life from a different lens than the prosperous and pleasure-addicted churches that surround us today in our culture. Bunyan was imprisoned for 12 years for refusing to stop preaching the gospel.

John Bunyan was sent to prison having four children with his oldest daughter Mary born blind. John's wife has just passed away before he was sent to the Bedford  County Goal.

Bunyan calls us to live in this world as a Pilgrim on our way to the Celestial City. In his book Pilgrims Progress, Bunyan tells how Christian starts his Pilgrimage on the Hill of Difficulty. On the contrary, we modern Christians have come to see safety and ease as our right.

We in our soft and comfortable churches sit and listen to fifty thousand dollar sound systems, to entertain and make us feel good. We have become soft and have come to relish the "feel good" message of Christianity. I can still hear Christian talking as he ascends the Hill of Difficulty:

"This hill, though high, I covet to ascend;
The difficulty will not me offend,
For I perceive the way to life lies here:
Come, pluck up, heart, let's neither faint nor fear!
Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe."



"Like the tearing of my flesh from my bones."




That's how John Bunyan described parting with his family after their brief visits with him in prison. Each time they walked away, John was reminded of the great difficulty his incarceration imposed on them, especially on his blind daughter, Mary. "What sorrow you are likely to have as your portion in this world!" he wrote. "You must be beaten, must beg, suffer hunger, cold, nakedness, and a thousand other calamities, even though I cannot so much as bear the wind blowing upon you."
Adding to John's misery was the knowledge that by just saying the word, he could be released. Just one simple statement—"I will not preach the gospel of Jesus Christ"—was all it would take to set him free to support his family again. But John couldn't do it. "I have determined," he said, "the almighty God being my help and my shield, yet to suffer, if frail life might continue so long, even till the moss shall grow on mine eyebrows, rather than thus to violate my faith." And so John waited on God for twelve long years in the overcrowded, unsanitary, poorly heated Bedford jail. Here's something of what he learned there.

How many of us could truly say as Bunyan said,
"Bless you, Prison, for having been in my life!"

The picture that the Bible paints and that of John Bunyan and all the suffering saints, is completely contrary to that of Joel Osteen's new book, Your Best Life Now, unfortunately Osteen's theology has taken hold in our flesh gratifying culture, a culture that screams "it all about me."

Christian, be willing to die to self, be willing to kill the desires in your life that are contrary to the will of God, be willing to pluck out an eye or to cut off a hand if need be. Allow the Holy Spirit to have His way in your life, don't quench the work of the Holy Spirit by fulfilling the desires of the flesh and carnal mind.




Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Time to do some hard soul searching!


Today's devotion will be short but extremely encouraging, but also extremely challenging. In the past I've talked about the life of David Brainerd the missionary who brought the gospel to the Native American Indians of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

John Piper in his book The Hidden Smile Of God writes about the lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd. Towards the end of the chapter on Brainerd, Piper lists some of the character and spiritual qualities that puts Brainerd in the Christian hall of fame.

I'd like to list these qualities and allow you to do some hard soul searching to see how many of these character and spiritual qualities are alive and practiced in your daily life. In other words would the people who know you best say that you emulate these character traits in your life?

Okay, here we go. Brainerd was characterized by having a:

1. Passion for prayer
2. Passion for practicing the spiritual discipline of fasting.
3. Passion for the Word of God.
4. Displaying an unremitting perseverance through hardship.
5. Having a relentless focus on the glory of God.
6. Having an utter dependence on God's grace.
7. Totally depending on the Righteousness of Christ alone.
8. Having a burning desire to reach those who were unsaved.
9. Maintaining his personal holiness while he suffered (remember Brainerd dies at age 29 of tuberculous. It is recorded in his diary that he would ride his horse while spitting up blood on his way to bring the gospel to the Indian's in Pennsylvania).
10. His mind was fixed on those things that are eternal.
11. And finally finishing well, without cursing the disease that cut him down in the prime of his life.

This is how Brainerd is described by John Piper through Brainerd's own personal diary writings. Piper ends this chapter by saying: "With all his weaknesses and imbalances and sins, I love David Brainerd."

Not too much to say here Christian, this is between you and your God, but I'd encourage you to be intentional and pick one or two of Brainerd's character traits and make them part of your spiritual life; to God's glory and honor.




Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Its Not About You!



I've written in the past about who my hero's are, men like John Bunyan, David Brainerd, William Cowper, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and many others. What these men all have in common is that they were totally and unconditionally sold out to Jesus Christ, in other words they practiced the gospel.

The call of our savior is to deny ourselves and take up our cross, ""If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Matthew 16:24). The one unmistakable characteristic of a truly regenerate person is that they die to themselves, listen to the words of the Apostle Paul, "And He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf" (1Corinthians 5:15).

Now, you have to know that before I make a critique of our church culture, I always start at home first, which is my own lack of dying to my own self will, or my own old man who is sinful at its very core. The critique of our church culture is certainly not of any one individual, but what I have observed and experienced in the church culture as a whole.

Where is the discipleship in our churches that echoes the words of our Savior to die to self ? to become slaves to Christ? to be that kernel of wheat that falls into the ground and dies cf. John 12:24? Where is the emphasis that the christian life is not about us being happy and getting our dreams fulfilled; why is the emphasis on us getting the most out of life?

This is an extremely serious flaw in many of our churches today. The ethos that many of our churches have adopted is the Joel Osteen theology of getting "your best life now." This theology certainly appeals to many sitting in the pews, but it is not the gospel and it truly is man centered.

When I read the lives of the above mentioned men, I'm impacted with the truth of the REAL gospel, the gospel that calls for a daily death to ourselves. Let us be like the Apostle Paul whose motto for his life was: " for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21).

Be intentional and get alone with God and ask God to show you the areas in your life that must be nailed to the cross. Make a list of those areas that the Holy Spirit shows you, and then find passages in the Holy Bible that speak to those areas and then begin to apply the power of God's word to those areas that need to be crucified.

My own personal axiom for living is "its not about us, its about His glory and honor."

Christian, be that living sacrifice for His glory and honor!





Thursday, October 11, 2012

Who are you before God?


Robert Murray M' Cheyne (1813-1843) said one of the most profound and weighty comments that I've ever heard:

"A man is what he is on his knees before God, and nothing more."

                                                                         

M'Cheyne was a minister of the gospel in the Church of Scotland. He died at the young age of 29 from typhus. If you take the time to look at the life of this young man of God you will be struck with his personal holiness and deep passion for the things of God.

Take this short sentence and make it your own maxim.

Today, think what you are before your God, for his opinion is the only one that matters!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Who are your heroes?


Heroes, that's what childhood is made of. We all had our heroes and most of us still do. Do you recall those supermen and women who could leap buildings in a single bound, or who had a pair of bracelets that were indestructible.

How about a superhero who could turn invisible or run faster than the speed of light? All of those childhood superheros stay in our psyches even as adults. We all need to be able to look to others who seem taller and bigger than life itself.

What about now as adults? who are your heroes now?

 Well, let me share just a few of my personal heroes that I've come to look up to and hope to emulate their faith in my life.

First:  It would have to be John Bunyan the simple, British, Baptist pastor who while in prison wrote the book that to this day remains the widest circulating single piece of literature in the history of the human race outside of the Bible, The Pilgrim's Progress. 

John Bunyan could have at any time walked out of his prison; he only needed to agree to stop preaching, but he remained in prison for 12 years. In Bunyan's writings we see his intense struggle and anguish-he tells us that when his oldest child Mary -born blind from birth-visited him in prison, it was like the "pulling of the Flesh from my bones." 

I could write for hours on the life of John Bunyan who stayed in that Bedford prison because of his love of the Gospel-This one phrase captures the heart and soul of my hero; Bunyan wrote, " To live upon God that is invisible." Yes, that is the life of this great hero-to live his life, trusting in the invisible God.




Second: Dietrich Bonhoeffer-Bonhoeffer gave his life under the brutal Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler. Bonhoeffer was a pastor, prophet, theologian, martyr and spy. He lived his live always looking for the will of God, and he had a constant longing to "hear God's voice." 

Bonhoeffer wrote, "To endure the cross is not tragedy; it is the suffering which is the fruit of an exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christ. As Bonhoeffer was being led to the gallows, "The doctor who witnessed Bonhoeffer's execution wrote, "I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God." That's because Bonhoeffer knew what Christians know. Death is not the end, but a beginning. His hanging was not final; it was merely a transition. 

I've come to love this man, and can't wait to see him.



Third, Pastor, teacher John MacArthur. John is my hero not for his personal suffering like Bunyan and Bonhoeffer, but for his love of the truth of God's Word. 

In today's politically correct atmosphere, and yes it is in the church-MacArthur has stood tall and unashamedly proclaimed the truth of God's word. His attention to detail and his careful handling of God's word causes me to want to emulate and follow his stalwart example. 

This one statement by MacArthur sums his ministry up best, when he says, " If Jesus, the sinless and perfect Son of God, limited Himself to speaking nothing during His incarnation except the truth He received from His Father, how much more should those who have been called into ministry speak only on the authority of divine Scripture."

Christian, make your heroes those of the faith-put off this worlds models and superstars, God give us the wisdom to make our hero's those who have a kind of faith we can follow and emulate. 











Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Are You Being Intentional In Your Spiritual Growth?






I love the word intention. Listen to Merriam Webster's definition of intention:


1: a determination to act in a certain way: resolve.

A list of synonyms include:aim, ambition design, intent, goal, mark, plan, purpose.
I want to plant this word with its deep meaning into our minds and souls and let it speak to us about our own relationship with Jesus Christ or our own spiritual growth.
I can tell you for a fact that you or I can't or won't grow spiritually unless we are intentional about our growth.

What then does it look like for us to live our lives with intentionality? For certain, we must have a game plan to develop our relationship with Christ, we need to go to the game book to get started. No Christian can grow into Christ-likeness without meditating daily in God's Word cf. Joshua 1:8 and Psalm 1:1-3 which tells us that we are to meditate “day and night.”
We need ambition  to "grow in Christ," but where does this ambition come from when we feel barren and dry? Listen to the words of Philippians 2:13, " For it is God who works in you...," the word work is in a verb form (action) it has the idea that there is action going on while producing an effect. 

Brothers and Sisters in Christ-He will never let you go, for he is inside of you exerting his powerful influence over you in ways that you are not even aware of. You my fellow-believers are His! He will give you the ambition (desire) to continue your spiritual growth. The old hymn writer Robert Robinson (who often wandered from his God after his conversion) penned the well known verse in his most famous hymn "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing:"



Prone to wander, Lord I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love

We need a design (plan) to grow in Christ. Take the time to write-out an individual plan for your own spiritual growth. Be intentional in your plan. list specific areas in your life that are weak and are not bringing glory to God and then find scripture that speaks to those weaknesses.

Find someone in the body of Christ that you can confess your sins to and follow the advice of James "therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed...(5:16). The Christian life was not designed to be done "alone." 

In conclusion: Live your life for Him. We are not our own, but we have been bought with a great price (1 Cor.6:20). Live your Christian life with intention for His Glory!







Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Know your Bible, your eternal destinity depends on it


There was a national study done on the religious health of teenagers' in the United States by Christian Smith, a sociologist. This study gives us some interesting things to think about.

Smith's summary of data from teens about their understanding of God is as follows:

 1. "A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth."

 2. "God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions."

 3. "The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself."

4. "God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except when God is needed to resolve a problem."

 5. "Good people go to heaven when they die."


This seems to be the Creed of most of American teens concerning religion. After conducting more than 3,000 interviews with American adolescents, the researchers reported that, when it came to the most crucial questions of faith and beliefs, many adolescents responded with a shrug and "whatever."

The thought of cultural Christianity or cafeteria style Christianity has always been the bane of the Church, it is the natural inclination of sinful man; to be conformed to religion on the outside, while there is no change on the inside.

However, it does seem that Smith's research shows an even more deeper problem than mere formality, it suggests that American teens are totally theologically ignorant, Albert Mohler Jr puts it like this:

The casual "whatever" that marks so much of the American moral and theological landscapes--adolescent and otherwise--is a substitute for serious and responsible thinking. More importantly, it is a verbal cover for an embrace of relativism. Accordingly, "most religious teenager's opinions and views--one can hardly call them worldviews--are vague, limited, and often quite at variance with the actual teachings of their own religion." http://www.christianpost.com/news/moralistic-therapeutic-deism-the-new-american-religion-6266/

Remember the words of the prophet Hosea "my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge" (4:6). The pathos (relativism) of our culture has permeated not only our homes, but even our churches. Mohler tells us "We now face the challenge of evangelizing a nation that largely considers itself Christian, overwhelmingly believes in some deity, considers itself fervently religious, but has virtually no connection to historic Christianity. Christian Smith and his colleagues have performed an enormous service for the church of the Lord Jesus Christ in identifying Moralistic Therapeutic Deism as the dominant religion of this American age.





My call to the Church, the home, and the individual believer is to understand the theology of salvation---our eternal destiny depends on it. 




Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cultural Christianity, could you have it?


What does it really mean to "put God first in your life?" What does it mean when we say I'm a "follower of Jesus?" What is the reality of "loving God?" what does all this Christian Talk mean?

The Church has been influenced by both the secular culture and in my opinion even more insidiously by Christian culture.What do I mean by christian Culture? and why use the word insidious to describe christian culture, is christian culture really that bad?

First, let me say that when I use the term christian culture I'm not referring to our rich Christian traditions. I'm not disparaging the great confessions of the faith, the creeds, or all of the rich history of the orthodox Christian church, but what I mean to zero in on is the American version of Christianity that has griped the church in the United States.

Let's us look at Cultural Christianity form Paul's letter to Timothy in 2 Tim 3:5. I'll provide a few different versions so you can get the idea for the different words used to describe cultural Christianity:

 having a form of godliness...(NIV)
 They will act religious...(NLT)
 having the appearance of godliness...(ESV)
 Who have a form of God-worship...(Aramiac Bible in Plain English)
 They will appear to have a godly life...(God's Word Translation)

We get an even clearer picture of cultural Christianity form the denunciations of Jesus against the religious leaders of His day; in  Matthew 23: 25-28 the Pharisee's external religiosity is severely condemned and rebuked by Jesus.

The Pharisee's religion merely consisted of obeying and conforming to a religious system, a set of rules and ceremonies to be observed and followed. Now, I'm sure to those on the outside these Pharisee's seemed to be a holy and pious group of people---but it is to these religious people Jesus reserved his harshest criticisms.



The picture that I'm trying to create is that it is possible to have a form of religion on the outside, but not have a changed heart.

True conversion must take place on the inside first--- this is why Jesus told Nicodemus that he needed to be born again (John 3:3). Throughout both the Old and New Testaments we are told that we need a new heart, and that the Holy Spirit must make us alive to God through true spiritual conversion (cf Titus 3:5).

This change on the inside comes when God makes us alive by His grace, through faith in the sacrifice of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ (cf Ephesians 2:8-9).




Warning: See Matthew 7:23, "Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' We need to make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10). We need to examine our lives to make sure that we are not merely religious; having an appearance of Godliness, but we need to know that we have been changed by the Holy Spirit from the inside out.



 

Monday, September 17, 2012


The Perseverance of the Saints

 The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is not some old stuffy theological ethereal doctrine given to us from a an ivy tower by some stodgy theologian. No, it is the engine, the fuel, that fires the Christian up and helps him to run on all cylinders. 

Just what does it mean to persevere?  Actually it is part of our sanctification---we as God's people have been declared holy (Eph. 1:4). In short, the word holy means to be set apart, sacred, used by God for his purposes. So, to persevere is to be kept by the power of God, through the faith that He has given His people.

When the believer realizes that his salvation is of the Lord---he can live with confidence that God will keep him until he reaches heaven (1 Peter. 1:3-5). We will persevere and therefore we are secure, because we will persevere.

Christian live each day in the reality that it is God, the creator, king, and supreme ruler of heaven and earth who has committed Himself to keep each and everyone who are in His family.

 




Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lectio Devina-should we be concerned?


As a christian one can't help but come across the term lectio divina (pronounced lex-ee-o di-veen-a). Many of our churches are introducing this ancient practice along with scores of books that tell us that we have been "missing something" in our christian experience.

Many evangelical writers and leaders have been endorsing and teaching this ancient practice. At first sight, this seems to be a "good thing," who would have any concerns with reading the Scriptures slowly and deliberately? Who would have a concern with praying the Scriptures? who would have a concern with pondering and thinking on a passage of Scripture? Well, if that is all that is being taught there would be no problem. However, there is more to this practice than "thinking on the Scriptures."

Lighthouse Trails gives us this piece of advice:

 But if you ask mystics or contemplatives what it entails (And who would know better than they?), they will tell you that lectio divina  always includes taking a passage of Scripture (or other writings), reading it slowly, then working your way down until you have just a word or small phrase from the passage that you are meditating on (repeating over and over). Basically, you are coming up with a mantra-like word or phrase that has been extracted from a passage of Scripture, which, according to contemplatives, if repeated for several minutes will help you get rid of thoughts and distractions, so then, they say, you can hear the voice of God and feel His presence http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/newsletters/2012/newsletters20120910.htm.

 Lighthouse Trails continues with this---

Contemplative mysticism pioneer Thomas Keating explains what lectio divina is not. It is not traditional Bible study, not reading the Scriptures for understanding and edification, and not praying the Scriptures (though praying the Scriptures can be a form of lectio divina when a word or phrase is taken from the Scriptures to focus on for the purpose of going into “God’s presence.”). Keating says that lectio divina is an introduction into the more intense practices – contemplative prayer and centering prayer http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/newsletters/2012/newsletters20120910.htm

And the article continues:

While some people think lectio divina is just reading Scripture slowly, and what’s wrong with that, it is the focusing on and repeating a word or small phrase to facilitate going into the “silence” that is the real danger. There is certainly nothing wrong with reading Scripture carefully and thoughtfully. Thoughtfully, we say. In eastern-style meditation (and in contemplative prayer) thoughts are the enemy. Eastern-style mystic Anthony De Mello describes this problem with thoughts in his book Sadhana: A Way to God:
To silence the mind is an extremely difficult task. How hard it is to keep the mind from thinking, thinking, thinking, forever thinking, forever producing thoughts in a never ending stream. Our Hindu masters in India have a saying: one thorn is removed by another. By this they mean that you will be wise to use one thought to rid yourself of all the other thoughts that crowd into your mind. One thought, one image, one phrase or sentence or word that your mind can be made to fasten on. (p. 28)

To sum it up, the Bible tells us to "examine all things carefully" ( 1 Thess. 5:21). We are to use spiritual discernment, as Greg Koukl points out in his book Discernment: head or heart?


  When the Bible talks about discernment — when it talks about assessing spiritual things — it's talking about a rational assessment based on objective criterion. You can't be "too much in your head" when it comes to spiritual discernment. Using your head is spiritual discernment, if you're using the truth properly

Also writing on the subject of spiritual discernment John MacAuthur in his book Reckless Faith,  notes:

 Biblical faith ... is rational. It is reasonable. It is intelligent. It makes good sense. And spiritual truth is meant to be rationally contemplated, examined logically, studied, analyzed, and employed as the only reliable basis for making wise judgments. That process is precisely what Scripture calls discernment

We as the church must be very diligent in putting all things to the test--- "Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world' (1 John 4:1).

For a good reference see Ray Yungen's book, The New Face of Mystical Spirituality-Contemplative Prayer. http://www.amazon.com/The-Face-Mystical-Spirituality-Contemplative-Prayer/dp/0982488122






Friday, September 7, 2012

Bonhoeffer man of God!


Thoughts on Bonhoeffer. After reading half of Eric Metaxas' 500 page book on Bonhoeffer, I'm putting Bonhoeffer on the top of my hero list.

Bonhoeffer was seeing and understanding the zeitgeist of his culture in such a way that most people even his closest friends at times did not understand what he was saying and looked at him as an oddity. However, Bonhoeffer was acting as one who was following the voice of God in his life.

It seems that we as individuals and the Church at large are truly an oddity when we become hard followers of Messiah. We are certainly a peculiar people---which really means we are the unique possession of God (cf. 1 Peter 2:9).

Bonhoeffer increasingly was feeling that he was God's captive. There was a feeling that Bonhoeffer had that he was going to be used of God in a unique and particular way. God had indeed called this young German Christian to reform the church of Germany and to stand-up to a brutal dictator that would eventually lead to his execution.

Through His prophet God called the church to "be the Church" to "act like the Church" and become in essence and in reality true disciples of the Son of God. This message was delivered in a church culture that was just the church in name only, but not the true Church of Jesus Christ. The German Lutheran Church of Martin Luther had turned into brick and mortar. The Holy Spirit had long since departed, and the Church in Germany was de facto apostate.

Bonhoeffer's legacy was that he was a man of action. Metaxas notes on (p. 240) :

This was likely Bonhoeffer's most important contributions a Fano, [a conference] and in many other circumstances, rousing others to action, away from mere theologizing. His thoughts on this would be expressed in his book Discipleship, in which anything short of obedience to God smacked of "cheap grace." Actions must follow what one believed, else one could not claim to believe it.

"Be ye therefore followers followers of God, as dear children (Ephesians. 5:1).




Thursday, August 2, 2012

How should the Christian Community Respond to the Chic-Fil-A controversy?



How are Christians to respond to the Chick-Fil-A controversy?

The controversy all stared Earlier this week in a radio interview on the “Ken Colemen Show,“ Dan Cathy, president of Chick-Fil-A stated that he believed “we’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation” when it comes to the discussion in our nation regarding what constitutes marriage.

Cathy went on to say in the radio interview “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say ‘we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage’ and I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”

Cathy concluded his remarks with: “We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that.”  

Of course any position on same-sex marriage is going to bring about strong opposition in  in our current culture. One such response came from Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign which supports same-sex-marriage, he said in a statement that Chick-fil-A “has finally come clean” after keeping it’s official position hidden for many years.
 
Griffin continued, “While they may have been in neutral, kicking this fight into overdrive now allows fair-minded consumers to make up their own minds whether they want to support an openly discriminatory company.”

On the other side of the controversy the  Rev. William Owens of the Coalition of African American Pastors said that ,“Some people are saying that because of the position that Chick-fil-A is taking, they don’t want them in their cities. It is a disgrace. It is the same thing that happened when I was marching for civil rights, when they didn’t want a black to come into their restaurant," he told a press conference in Washington, DC.

In addition Mike Huckabee made a nationwide call — not to protest or picket — but for people to eat at Chick-fil-A on Wednesday. 

So as I thought about this culture crises I pondered; how should followers of Christ "think" and "act" concerning cultural hot topics? Should we ignore cultural hot topics? blog about them? write op-eds? protest? show support for our side, as in the case with Chic-Fil-A and follow the advice of the former Governor of Arkansas and eat at Chic-Fil-A ? 

Should we engage the opposition with dialog? Should we pray and stay inside the walls of our churches? Should we resurrect Jerry Falwell and remake the moral majority---to save our culture? Are we as the body of Christ even called to save our culture?
Many in the Christian Community would say right on to a quote that is often attributed to Martin Luther:
 “If I profess, with the loudest voice and the clearest exposition, every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christianity. Where the battle rages the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battle-field besides is mere flight and disgrace to him if he flinches at that one point.”
We live in a culture that is dark and depraved; Ephesians chapter two verse two tell us, "Satan is the "prince of the power of the air."We are admonished by John in his Epistle not to love the world (1 John 2:15). 

The Scriptures admonish the Church to walk in "wisdom" toward those outside of the body of Christ; making the most of every opportunity ( Colossians 4:5). 

Peter tells his readers, "always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).

Blog readers, here is my answer to the question how the Church to respond to the Chic-Fil-A controversy.

First, we as the Church should respond. We should respond with wisdom, which means thinking hard through the issue without reacting form the gut. Making the most of every opportunity means that we use the present controversy to share the gospel which is the power of God unto salvation. 

As followers of Christ we should be marked with gentleness and respect. No, no, no, not being spineless; but proclaiming the "truth" with boldness that is mixed with humility.

May God be glorified as we seek to bring His gospel to our culture!





Wednesday, August 1, 2012

YAHWEH IS NEAR


Here is something to get excited about:

 Psalm 145: 18 tells us that "the LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth."

Do you notice that LORD is in all caps? The “LORD” is in all capital letters  more than 6000 times in the Old Testament.

Why is this important?

To find the beginning of the answer we have to travel back to Moses and the Burning Bush.  (Exodus 3:1-4:17).   God speaks to Moses. God tells Moses he is to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses asks God for God’s name:  God says his name is “I am.”  In Hebrew this is “Yahweh.”

 Moses was probably thinking, “I am what?”  Moses might have been waiting on God to finish the sentence.  He might have thought, “Is that the best God can do?  I am?  What kind of name is that?”  But what was God trying to show with that name?  Try this:  make a sentence with action without using the verb “to be.”  Examples:  I am running, we are eating, they are reading.  The verb “to be” is foundational to language.  What God was showing was that He is foundational to existence.  God is not a name, He Is and that is all.  Nothing else needs to be added.(©2007 Mark Nickens)


 It is this LORD, this I am, YAHWEH; who is near to all who call on him. The source of all life. The foundation to all that is. The creator of all things, yes, it is this God who is near to the humble believer who calls on him in truth.

WOW! tell me that isn't exciting? It makes me want to call on God and trust him more than I feebly do now. 

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I know that at times God seems so very far away, all mature Christians relate to this experience. Read any of the autobiographies of the giants of the faith and you'll hear that at times in their journey with God, God to them seemed very distant.

The other day, (the last day of July 2012), I was sitting outside under a beautiful blue sky with big puffy white clouds. From time to time the wind would blow one of those huge white clouds in front of the sun, and for a short time the sun would be hidden. 

This reminded me that God is still near us even when we do not experience his presence. Remember Christian, we walk by faith, not by sight or feelings (11 Cor. 5:7).

So be excited today that Yahweh is close to you, and be encouraged!



Monday, July 30, 2012

How we inform our minds to God is important


Take the time to read as short excerpt from J.R. Miller. From time to time I'll post thoughts from others that to me really standout, and this jumped up and hit me right between the eyes.

James Russell Miller (March 20, 1840 – July 2, 1912) was a popular Christian author, Editorial Superintendent of the Presbyterian Board of Publication, and pastor of several churches in Pennsylvania and Illinois.



"Avoid every kind of evil!" 1 Thessalonians 5:22

Much is said in commendation of books. But, as in other matters, there is need for wise discrimination in what one reads. Not all books are worth reading.

There are many which are utterly empty of anything that is noble or worthy. One might read them continually all one's life--and yet be no wiser and no better. A hundred of them do not contain a dozen sentences that it is worthwhile to keep in one's memory, or that can be of any help or cheer or strength in one's life.

Then, there are books which are most pernicious in their influence. There are all grades and degrees of evil in this class. Some of them carry a subtle poison in their atmosphere which is noxious to those who breathe it. We need to keep most careful watch over our heart, so that nothing shall ever tarnish its purity. Any corrupt thought, dallied with even for a moment, leaves a stain upon the mind which may never be effaced.

If we would keep the tender joy of our heart experiences unbroken, we must hold rigid watch over our reading, conscientiously excluding not only whatever is obviously impure--but all in which lurks even a suggestion of evil.

A writer says: "Never read a book which is not worth reading, for some noble end, beyond the short-lived pleasure of a little excitement."

When we think of the influence which our reading has upon our lives, we see at once the importance of selecting only books that are worthwhile. At the best, none of us can read one book in a thousand of those which are within our reach. Surely then, this one book ought to be the best in all the thousand.

Every year, a flood of really worthless publications is poured over the country. People go into ecstasies over trivial works which please or excite them for a day--and are then old and forgotten; while books in every way admirable, are passed by unnoticed.

No book is really worth reading
, which does not either impart valuable knowledge; or set before us some ideal of beauty, strength, or nobility of character.

There are enough great books to occupy us during all our short and busy years. If we are wise, we will resolutely avoid all but the richest and the best.

(Editor's note: Reading was the primary media in J.R. Miller's day. The above standards apply to all media today--TV, internet, etc.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

God' is serious about sin in the Church.


A thought from 1 Corinthians 5. There was a gross immorality taking place within the Corinthian fellowship at Corinth, a sin that was even a reproach to the pagan culture that surrounded the Church (5:1).

Paul's remedy for this unrepentant sin is the excommunication of the sinning person (5:13). Paul's highest motive was the purity of the body of Christ and the glory of God. The church was instructed not to fellowship with those who were living in sin, and he lists specific sins (vv. 9-11).

But here is the thought that I would like you to take away form the 1 Corinthian's 5 text---it was not the unsaved (those in the world) that the Church was instructed to stay away from, no, it was those who would profess Christ and then continue in sin (v.11).

The reason the Church is to discipline a professing believer is the fact that sin spreads and grows (v.6). We are not instructed to take ourselves out of the world, we live in the world, but we are to separate from those who would name the name of Christ and continue to live a life that is unrepentant (v.9).

Christian read 1 Corinthians 5 and let the thought of God's holiness penetrate and sink deep into your soul. Our God is holy and He desires His Church, His bride to remain chaste for His return.









Thursday, July 12, 2012

Jesus tells us, do not be like the hypocrites!


"But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly" (Matthew 6:6).

I'm struck with the contrast in Jesus' teaching on prayer in Matthew 6: 5-8.

The contrast is "don't be like the hypocrites" and "don't be like the gentiles" (6:5,7). But do your religious acts in secret---the secret places of your inner sanctuary, don't do your religious deeds to be "seen of men."

Jesus tells us that the hypocrite loves to "be seen," standing in public places, and praying in the religious buildings (synagogues).

They pray using "empty words." They pray thinking that the more words they use the better.
The main idea here is not hard to understand, it is that we are to be sincere in our religious duties, we are to live our lives naked and open before our Father in heaven. Our religion is not to promote ourselves, but in so many respects our religion is a private matter between God and ourselves.




One of the monsters that we as followers of Christ will always wrestle with is the ugly monster of pride. Pride has such a loud voice and is always yelling and screaming "look at me," "look at my knowledge of the Bible," "look at how holy I'm," "look at me, me, me!











Believer, follow the wise teaching of our Savior when He tells us,  "But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you... (Matthew 6:6, NLT).



Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Habits of the Mind.


Today's post will be somewhat different. In staying with our theme of the cultivation of the mind I'll list a few habits of the mind that I found extremely practical and rewarding in the book Think by John Piper.

The habits of the mind that I'll list apply to all objects in the world but most importantly to our study of the Bible.

I'll list several habits of the mind with a brief description of each.

Let my preface this list with these thoughts: All of our learning must be for the glory of God. We are to love God with all our minds. When our learning is not for God's glory it becomes an instrument of pride and human exaltation.

So the habits of the mind are:

  • Observation:
Learn to read slowly and observe rigorously and comprehensively always spending time on the details. Remember quick reading of many books will lead to bad habits of the mind. So read with rigorous observation and reflection.

  • Understanding:
The goal of reading is to understand what has been observed. Understanding is the discipline of thinking. In the understanding process the mind will wrestle with the traits and features of what has been observed. When we read the Bible our goal is to understand the mind of God through what the author's of the Bible intended to say. Our goal is to be able to say, " I understand what the author meant." We want his, not our thoughts and ideas."

  • Evaluating:
The basis for evaluating is certainly our own worldview---we as Christians believe that there is such a thing as truth and that truth can be known. So we evaluate fairly but we are not afraid to make judgements about the truth based on careful observation and understanding.

  • Feeling:
We as Christians need to feel properly about the things we learn from the world and in particular from the pages of the Bible. As Piper notes, " If [we] observed and understood a terrible reality like hell, [our] feelings should be fear and horror and compassion. If [we] observed and understood a wonderful reality like heaven, then [our] feelings should be joy and hope and longing."

  • Applying:
Applying what we have observed and understood and evaluated makes all learning practical. We need wisdom to be able to apply knowledge to our everyday living. As believers we can't grow in our life with God if we don't apply the truths we learned to our lives.

  • Expressing:
As piper notes, " we aim to enable and to motivate the student to express in speech and writing and deeds what he has seen, understood, evaluated, and felt, and applied." It is absolutely essential that we as believers develop the ability to communicate on all levels. Communication is the medium through which we get out the message of the Gospel to the world, it is also how we work to build up the body of Christ.

Christian work to build these habits of the mind into your life for the glory of God.


Our Mind's Matter

Thinking, thinking, thinking, always thinking. The life of the mind is the heart of the Christian life. As I think through the Scriptur...