Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Is the music in your life good or a god?

The worship leaders and I subscribe to this blog, Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin.  This is an excellent and thought provoking post.  He describes how music in the life of the Christian can go from being good to being a god.  In this post he describes five indicators this may be happening in the life of a Christ follower.  A must read!

Posted: 21 Dec 2010 01:28 PM PST
musicBack in November I had the privilege of speaking at the Christian Musician Summit in Seattle, WA. In one of the main sessions, I spoke on the topic of Music:  Gift or God? and mentioned that I’d post my notes on my blog. I had forgotten until someone emailed me the other day asking for them. So here’s what I shared…
Music is a very good gift. The 13,000 songs on my iTunes are testimony to that. My eyes have often welled up in tears as I’ve been affected by a lyric, a chord progression, or a musical texture. I’ve thanked God for the gift of music more times than I can remember.
Whenever I think about my love for music, I’m reminded of what Martin Luther said in a Foreword to a 1538 collection of chorale motets:
“I, Doctor Martin Luther, wish all lovers of the unshackled art of music grace and peace from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ! I truly desire that all Christians would love and regard as worthy the lovely gift of music, which is a precious, worthy, and costly treasure given to mankind by God… A person who gives this some thought and yet does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God, must be a clodhopper indeed and does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs.”
But Scripture tells us that often gifts can become gods. Good things can become idols.
In Numbers 21, the Israelites grumbled against God and it resulted in him sending poisonous serpents. When they confessed their sin and repented, God had Moses cast a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. Anyone who looked at the serpent would live. It was a good gift. But later on in 2Kings 18 we read that Israel had been making offerings to the serpent, and even gave it a name - Nehushtan.
Good gifts can become gods.
Music turns from a gift to a god when we look to it for the joy, comfort, power & satisfaction only God can give. Here are 5 indicators that might be happening.
1. We choose to attend a church or a meeting based on the music rather than the preaching of the gospel and God’s word.
Nowhere in the Bible are we told that the church is to gather around music. We gather around the crucified and risen Savior, Jesus Christ. We gather to hear God’s Word in the Spirit’s power. Eph. 2:13-14 says the blood of Christ unites us, not music.
2. We can’t worship in song apart from a particular song, style, leader, or sound.Anytime I say, I can’t worship unless X happens, or X is present, unless X is the death of our Savior on the cross for our sins or the power of his Spirit, we are engaging in idolatry. At that moment, X is more important to us than God’s command to love Him with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength. That doesn’t mean that there are no bad songs, lousy leaders, or inappropriate styles. But being discerning is different from being unable to worship God at all.
3. We think music leads us into or brings God’s presence.Here’s what music can do. It can affect us emotionally. Create a mood. Soften our hearts so that we listen more intently. Help us hear words differently. Distract us from what’s going on. Help us focus on what’s going on. Help us remember words. And more.
Here’s what music can’t do. Make God more present. Bring God’s presence down. Bring us into God’s presence. Manipulate God. (Heb. 10:19-22; 1 Tim. 2:5).  There is only one mediator, and it’s not a song, style, leader, or sound. It’s Jesus Christ.
4. Poor musical performance leads us to sin against other band members or the musicians leading us.We’re hardly representing God’s heart when we get angry, frustrated, or impatient with musicians who don’t play up to our standards. God’s standards are perfection, and they’ve been met in Jesus Christ who lived a perfect life in our place and died as our substitute, enduring the wrath of God in our place. ALL our offerings, no matter how well or poorly offered, are perfected through the once and for all offering of the Savior. We can strive for excellence to serve others, while extended to others the same grace we’ve received.
5. A love for music has replaced a love for the things of God.
It’s possible to listen to music that’s destroying your soul and be completely dull to it. To become enslaved by an idol and you feel like you’re breaking free. In his confessions, Augustine said “For he loves thee too little who loves along with thee anything else that he does not love for thy sake.” I have no doubt we love music. But do we love music for God’s sake or for ours?
To sum up:
Music is useful, but not necessary.
Music is good. But Jesus is better.
Music is a gift, but not a god.
Music isn’t my life. Christ is.
The gifts of God are meant to deepen our relationship with God and create fresh affection for him. Not replace him.
May we enjoy and make music to the fullest of our abilities, all for the glory of the one who gave it to us to enjoy in the first place.
You can download a more expanded copy of my notes here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Scriptural Metaphors - Forgiveness

I am reading a great book, 'Forgiveness' by Gary Inrig, in preparation for last weeks message.  It is the the best book I have read on forgiveness both for his content and his stories that he uses to illustrate the truth he is communicating.  He gave the following list of scriptural metaphors describing forgiveness (I meant to read them Sunday but forgot).  I trust they will impact you as much or more than they did me!

Old Testament
He drowns them
He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. (Mic 7:19 ESV)
He erases them
"I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. “  (Isa 43:25)
He dissolves them
“I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.” (Isa 44:22 ESV) 
He puts them behind his back
Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back. (Isa 38:17 ESV)
He forgets them
“And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." (Jer 31:34 ESV)
He covers them
“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” (Ps 32:1 ESV)
He does no record them
“Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” (Ps 32:2 ESV)
He totally removes them
“As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” (Psa 103:12 ESV)

New Testament
He forgives them
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” (Eph 1:7 ESV)
“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col 1:13 ESV)
He wipes them out and erases them
“Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out.” (Acts 3:19 ESV)
He takes them on himself
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (1Pe 2:24 ESV)
He does not charge them to our account
“That is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. (2Co 5:19 ESV) ESV 
He charges them to Christ’s account
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2Co 5:21 ESV)
He nails them to the cross
“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (Col 2:13-14 ESV)

He purges us from them
“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Heb 1:3 ESV)
He does away with and puts away our sin
“For then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Heb 9:26 ESV)
“You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.” (1Jo 3:5 ESV)
He cleanses us and purifies us from them
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1Jo 1:7 ESV)
He sets us free from them
“From Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Rev 1:5-6 ESV)

Friday, December 10, 2010

How are you receiving the truth?

"And he said to them, "Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away." (Mar 4:24-25 ESV)
This is a warning and a promise to would be disciples to listen carefully - with a willing and receptive heart.  It is a heart that is hungry for the truth of God, that wants to know and live the truth.  That is kind of heart that the gospel seed can take root and flourish.  But it is also applicable to disciples (James 1:22-23).  Take heed to how we hear.   The condition of your heart determines what you hear, how much you hear, how much you understand about the Kingdom, and most importantly, how much the message takes hold of you and transforms your heart.  That is no small matter.  And listening applies to any time we sit under the word - in our bible reading as well as listening to preaching.  The more you welcome it and embrace it the more you will receive insight and blessing and transformation.  That includes both this age and the age to come (Eph 2:7).

What can I do about the condition of my heart?  Pray that God opens our eyes to see wonderful things in his word (Ps 119:18) and pray that he inclines your heart to obey his word (Ps 119:112).  Then be diligent to listen intently and apply the truth to your life!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

All Great

Saw this post from the Gospel-Driven Church Blog and thought it was great play on the word great!

What is the message of the gospel?

That the greatest good (God) offers the greatest action (love) to the greatest need (wrath-owed sinners) by sending the greatest treasure (Jesus) in the greatest invitation (to everyone) into the greatest life (everlasting).

How is this not exciting?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Self Denial has an end in mind

When Paul was willing to suffer for Christ, he showed the nations that Christ is more precious than comfort and security and prosperity. In other words, the infinite value of the wisdom of God is revealed not in Paul’s prosperity but in Paul’s pain - in his prison. That’s where it shines because this is the wisdom of the cross and we are called to pick up our crosses and display to the demons, that we treasure Christ more than any human comfort. 
-- John Piper
Lausanne Address at Cape Town 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

Being part of the faith community but not really embracing God

    But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.   (Matthew 3:7-10 ESV)

The Pharisees came looking but not repenting or being baptized.  There are always those who are on the fringes of the work of God, even religious types, who come but never really embrace God by repenting or fully embracing what he is doing.  Religious people will read this and automatically think that this does not apply to them.  That itself is a symptom of 'Phariseeism!'  Beware of the power of indwelling sin to deceive us!  Do not be left out of what God is doing in our body at this time - individuals are giving themselves to Christ, God is drawing new people to our body, and we started the Sanctuary remodel this week.  We had several faithful individuals who were diligently working to make the gym into a place of worship for us.  Lets come and embrace what God is doing in our midst!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Means & Mission

We must not over-focus on technique, or clever approaches. We dare not say we will accomplish this task because we have the money and the technology. It will be accomplished only because of the greatness of the gospel, the lordship of Christ, and the glory of God in the face of Christ, with authentic, transformed, joyful lives.  -- Lindsay Brown - Lausanne Address at Cape Town 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dynamic Wealth Report - Investment Insight You Can Profit From

If every American spent money the way the US government does they would be bankrupt many times over. If those same individuals exposed their spending habits to most of us, we would say they were insanely foolish. The US government is giving $4 billion a year to subsidize American cotton farmers at a time when cotton is at all time highs. We are also giving $150 million to Brazilian cotton farmers to help them compete with US cotton farmers!

Dynamic Wealth Report - Investment Insight You Can Profit From

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What are you believing God to do?

God is looking for those with whom He can do the impossible-- what a pity that we plan only the things that we can do by ourselves. -- A. W. Tozer

Too often many of us Christ followers shrink our expectations of God down to bite size pieces so that we end up not living a life of faith.  God becomes manageable and we belittle him with small minded thinking.  May God rip the roofs off of our unbelief.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Are you a cross bearer?

Jesus hath many lovers of His heavenly Kingdom, but few bearers
of His Cross. He hath many desirous of consolation, but few of
tribulation. Many love Jesus so long as no adversities befall
them. -- Thomas à Kempis

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


For Christ’s sake we Christians care about all suffering, especially eternal suffering. I don’t want you to choose between these two truths. Christ doesn’t want you to choose between pouring your life out for the alleviation of unjust human suffering now and the pouring out your life to rescue the perishing from everlasting suffering, which is 10 million times worse than anything anybody will ever experience here. I don’t want you to choose between these two. Christ is calling us to pull these together.
-- John Piper
Lausanne Address at Cape Town 2010

Why Sacramento Shouldn't Expect a Bailout

This is a great article in the WSJ about the state of California. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. Polls show that the citizens of California are dissatisfied with their politicians and legislature; if so why do they keep re-electing them back in? Then they want the US government to bailout them out! Stop the insanity!

Allysia Finley: California Is the Lindsay Lohan of States and Sacramento Shouldn't Expect a Bailout -

Monday, November 8, 2010

Concerning our salvation . . .

I can contribute nothing to my own salvation, except the sin
from which I need to be redeemed.  -- William Temple

Friday, November 5, 2010

re: Do not waste your life!

The tragedy of life and of the world is not that men do not know God; the tragedy is that, knowing Him, they still insist on going their own way.      -- William Barclay

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Epitome of Government Insanity!

Faith and Love

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. (2 Thessalonians 1:3 ESV)

Paul frequently links faith and love together, particularly in the Pastoral Epitles.  Evidence of a growing faith is a growing love for others.  When Paul mentions faith he is generally talking about two things.  First is the content of our faith, doctrine or theology.  Theology is a growing understanding of who God is and his ways ways as described in the bible.  Theology sometimes gets a bad rap but whether we admit it or not we all are arm chair theologians who espouse a theology.  Theology is important because it determines the way we think about God which determines our affections, and thus our choices.  A growing faith also means a growing trust in God because of who we understand him to be and what he promises to be for us. 
It is out of this growing faith that love for others grow.  At one point Paul even says faith works through love (Gal 5:6) and he means much more than warm fuzzy feelings for others.  He means loving our neighbors as ourselves or sacrificially denying ourselves for the sake of others.  We see this exemplified in the life of Christ who gave himself for us and we see this also exemplified in the radical acts of sacrificial giving in the early church.  I also see this in our body. 
 I see our elders serving our body tirelessly.  I see our trustees spending lots of time and energy working on our building remodel.  I see our children's ministry workers, especially the leadership, working with all their might to teach our children to 'Desire God' more than life itself.  I see our Youth Director and his staff sacrificing their time and energy to minister to our youth and reach out to others.  I see several very busy mothers sacrificing time and energy to help out in our office in the absence of a secretary.  And lastly, I saw dozens of our people helping out in little and large ways to make the annual Harvest Carnival another smashing success with over 600 people coming through our doors this past Halloween.  I can gladly pray as Paul did, giving thanks for you all because your faith is growing abundantly and your love for one another is increasing!

Let me me encourage you to continue to prayerfully read the Word and let the Spirit of God shape your understanding of God and his ways so that your love will abound increasingly!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


"But when he who had set me part before I was born,1 and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles (Gal 1:15-16a ESV)."

Paul is arguing against Judaisms in the church at Galatia.  Judaizers were 'Christians' who were forcing Gentiles to adopt or practice Old Testament Jewish laws as an essential part of the gospel (called works of law).  Paul declared this to be a different gospel (1:6) and a contrary gospel (1:8).  As part of his argument that the genuine gospel is purely of grace he makes three claims about his salvation, that God set him apart literally in his mothers womb, that God called him by grace, and that God revealed Jesus to him.  Notice that God is the subject and the one doing the in all three of these actions.  God set him apart prior to birth, hence not any work on his part.  God also called him by grace, and last God found great pleasure in revealing his Son to Paul.  This last statement is reminiscent of 2 Cor 4:6, where Paul describes God as having shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.  He compared this to the act of creation where God said 'let there be light.'  In the same way, God acted upon our minds so that in a moment, for the first time, we saw the glory of God in Christ.  His point in the three claims is that salvation and even sanctification is work of God and not the work of man. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

18 Myths Singles Believe

18 Myths Singles Believe
I found these EXCELLENT POINTS on Perry Nobles' blog and have gotten much grieve from some singles in our church because I have been preaching on marriage (sounds like he is also) so I thought this would be good for all singles to read!

#1 – Being miserable is the result of being single…getting married will solve all my problems.
#2 – I’ve messed up in my past and do not deserve anyone good. (See I Corinthians 6:9-11, especially focus on verse 11!)
#3 – Ephesians 3:20 isn’t true for me and my future spouse…I need to settle.
#4 – This relationship that I am in isn’t what I would like my marriage to be like..but when we get married I can change this person.
#5 – Having sex will simplify things and cause the person I am dating and myself to have so much more in common.  (See I Corinthians 6:18-20)
#6 – This person is not God’s best for me…but if I rush through the process of dating and getting married then I have God backed into a corner and He has to bless me because He loves me, right?  (See Deuteronomy 6:16)
#7 – Marriage isn’t that big of a deal…if my first one does not work out then I can drop them and start over.  (See Malachi 2:13-16)
#8 – Getting married isn’t going to alter my lifestyle…I am still going to be able to live like I did when I was single, the only difference is I’m going to get to have more sex.
#9 – I am going to get to have sex anytime I want.
#10 – We are going to cuddle all of the time.
#11 – The things that really get all over my nerves about this person won’t bother me as much when we get married.
#12 – The fact that we do not agree on what we believe when it comes to Jesus and the church will not impact the way we raise our kids. (See II Corinthians 6:14 and Amos 3:3)
#13 – We should live together before we get married to give it a “trial run,” after all, you would not buy a car without test driving it first.  (See Hebrews 13:4)
#14 – I need to keep as many secrets about my past from this person as possible; after all, my past issues won’t impact this relationship at all.
#15 – All of my friends are married…I am not…something is obviously wrong with me.
#16 – The way I handle my money now will not impact my future marriage.
#17 – When I get married my spouse will meet all of my needs.
#18 – Dating is tough…marriage is easy!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Are your spiritual taste buds changing?

Found this quote by J.C. Ryle while reading some blogs today.  Have the book but have not read it!  Sounds like I should!:
The man whose soul is “growing” takes more interest in spiritual things every year. He does not neglect his duty in the world. He discharges faithfully, diligently, and conscientiously every relation of life, whether at home or abroad. But the things he loves best are spiritual things. The ways, and fashions, and amusements, and recreations of the world have a continually decreasing place in his heart. He does not condemn them as downright sinful, nor say that those who have anything to do with them are going to hell. He only feels that they have a constantly diminishing hold on his own affections, and gradually seem smaller and more trifling in his eyes. Spiritual companions, spiritual occupations, spiritual conversation, appear of ever-increasing value to him. Would any one know if he is growing in grace? Then let him look within for increasing spirituality of taste. (Holiness, 107)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

10 Reasons for the Institutional Church

The Gospel-Driven Church: 10 Reasons for the Institutional Church

How do I evalute a church member I suspect is unconverted?

How do I evalute a church member I suspect is unconverted?

some of oyu will hate this article, thinking we cannot judge a persona conversion but I believe we do have the ability to judge and weigh somoenes conversion with caution. This came from Practical Shepherding by Brian Croft.

Sometime back, I had a pastor write me and ask that I address this issue. Even though I have sadly dealt with this on more than one occasion, I tremble to communicate in any way that I have all the answers on this matter. Nevertheless, it is a reality and it is especially so for anyone who goes to pastor an established church whose previous patterns of taking in members were less than healthy and biblical. So, here are a few “suggestions” as you wrestle with this all important and very difficult issue in your church.

Recognize you are not God. Make sure you start here. It is common to jump quickly into conclusion about a church member’s spiritual state based on his disapproval of you and your vision for the church. It is often times not that simple. We are not all-wise and omniscient (knowing all things). Therefore, if you begin to evaluate and despairingly conclude spiritual blindness about someone in your church without fear and trembling in your own heart to do so knowing you are not God…do not proceed until you come to accept those limitations.

Know we have ways of examining the spiritual state of our people. Although we are not God, a common default position in broader evangelicalism is to conclude we are unable to evaluate a person’s spiritual state. Yet, Scripture gives us plenty of observable realties we should see in one another in the church to affirm we actually belong to Christ. Is this person bearing spiritual fruit? Do they love Christ, His Word, and His people? Is there a hatred of their sin? Is there a desire to share the gospel? Is there a longing for the things of God? Is there a desire to learn and grow? Whether it is a current member or someone who comes under your watch, we are called to be watching our “life and doctrine” and a complete disregard for these things in a church member’s life should at least cause concern for them, regardless the position and power they hold in the church.

Consider whether you have something personal against the individual that would sway your judgment. An easy trap for any pastor to fall into is to evaluate a person’s spiritual state on the basis of that person’s affirmation of your ministry, or lack there of. To conclude a 75-year-old long time church member old enough to be your grandpa is unconverted because he doesn’t like your preaching and he may place too much focus on how many people are at church (or not at church), is reckless and a pre-mature judgment on your part. Evaluate your own heart first, before evaluating others to avoid making a judgment on hurt feelings and a bruised ego, not biblically objective evidence. This scenario may simply reveal the need for you as a pastor to patiently pursue that older member and show a loving concern for him and his soul.

Don’t act alone. Because our single judgment can be swayed by a lack of support or conflict with certain people in our church, we MUST have others around us who know these same people as well as we do who can objectively evaluate also. This is one of the many benefits of having a plurality of pastors/elders in your church. However, if you do not have other pastors in your midst, involve other godly men who know you and the person in question to help confirm whether your concern for a certain church member’s spiritual state is valid.

If you and others in the church have strong concerns about the spiritual state of a church member, as the appoint shepherds you have the responsiblity to inquire and pursue that individual and find a way to communicate your concern for their soul. “That process” would need to be a different post. My hope with this post is that you would make sure your evaluation process is thoughtful, deliberate, patient and with others, for if there is one area I don’t want to be quick and careless about…it is this one.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

What the Prosperity Gospel Does to the Gospel « Modern March | a Christian blog

I have worked with individuals who are steeped in this heresy and those who are attempting to recover from its devastating effects. Variants permeate all level of evanglicalism! I found this blog on

What the Prosperity Gospel Does to the Gospel

I was reminded tonight by a local TV preacher (asking for money in exchange for prayers, of course) how badly the prosperity gospel distorts the actual Gospel. Here are three major things that I think the prosperity gospel does:

1. Cheapens Grace

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is built upon the fact that God’s wrath needed to be satisfied by the shedding of blood in order for sinners to be taken out from under this wrath. Jesus did not have your material wealth in mind when He died on the cross. No, Jesus had your eternal soul in mind. Your wealth on earth is judged by others, but your soul is judged by God. Grace is poured out because you are born in spiritual poverty with no hope, not because your 401k is lower than you’d like.

2. Glorifies Materialism

One of the grossest sins in America is the infatuation with money and reputation. I live in Dallas where everyone is in debt up to their eyeballs in order to be seen as one of the North Dallas elites. It doesn’t matter that you make $35,000 per year as long as people think you make $200,000. It’s a scary place to be to think that God wants your wealth because He is ultimately concerned with your renown and happiness. There is a reason that faithful believers in the Bible struggled at one point or another by earthly standards – God was teaching them to refocus their standards according to His.

3. Elevates Moralism

It is pretty clear in any prosperity sermon that you are blessed if you are wealthy. A key phrase for a prosperity preacher is, “Are you broke? Does your car need new tires? Did you only get peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch this week? It’s because you haven’t unlocked God’s ultimate plan for you!” He (or she) proceeds to tell you that if you do this and that, God will bless you. What is this blessing? MONEY. Duh. What more could you need to be happy? Forget reckless abandon for Christ and His Kingdom, as long as you got Chili’s instead of tuna salad this week. God’s blessing is Him. You get Him with no stipulations.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

10 Personal Growth Questions

I read these form Perry Nobles blog and thought they were worth passing along.

#1 – Am I reading my Bible for information or transformation?  (James 1:22-25)
#2 – Am I allowing people or circumstances to steal the joy that Jesus promised to me?  (John 10:10)
#3 – Is there anything in my life that God is consistently dealing with that I am trying to ignore?  (Ezekiel 14:1-5)
#4 – Who are the people in my life that God has placed around me for the purpose of me sharing Christ with them and/or inviting them to church?  (II Corinthians 5:16-21)
#5 – Is there anyone I need to apologize to?  (Ephesians 4:25:27)
#6 – Is there anyone I need to forgive? (Ephesians 4:32)
#7 – Is there a sin I need to confess to others and ask for help? (James 5:16)
#8 – Am I fully utilizing the gifts and abilities that God has blessed me with…or am I simply choosing to waste my life?  (I Peter 4:10)
#9 – Do I know more lines from the movies that I love than verse from the Bible that I read? (Psalm 119:11)
#10 – Is there anything going on in my life privately that, if it became public, would cause me and/or the body of Christ to be embarrassed? (I John 1:9, James 5:16)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Defending Your Marriage Against Mediocrity

Defending Your Marriage Against Mediocrity - Focus on the Family

Monday, September 6, 2010

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn (Luke 2:7 ESV).

Even in his birth, Jesus there was no room or space given for Jesus among his people.  The rejection of Jesus is reiterated in chapter four of Luke when he is rejected at Nazareth.  After reading from Isaiah and stating that he is the fulfillment of the scriptures he read (21) they marvel at his word (22).  When they realize he is Joseph's son he predicts his rejection and then goes on to describe three Old Testament instances when Gods people reject God prophet, God sends them to Gentiles!.  Though they are spiritually blind, the see the implication of these examples - God is rejecting them! 
Thought we may not reject him as our Lord and Savior, I wonder how often we reject his ministry, his Lordship in our lives life on a daily basis and miss the grace for change?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Diagnosing Your Spiritual Health

The Gospel-Driven Church: Diagnosing Your Spiritual Health

Preaching Christ or preaching about Christ?

Every preacher needs to read this article!

Preaching Christ or preaching about Christ? – Ray Ortlund

Justification By Attendance

Justification By Attendance | TheResurgence

The Blueprint for Trust: Stop Pretending | TheResurgence

The Blueprint for Trust: Stop Pretending | TheResurgence

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ministry to the Marginal and Insignificant

[46] And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. [47] And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” [48] And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” [49] And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” [50] And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. [51] And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” [52] And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.  (Mark 10:46-52 ESV)

Blind Bartimaeus was considered a social outcast and so his pleading for mercy from Jesus was seen as an interruption to ministry!  Jesus was 'too important and significant' to be bothered by someone like him - insignificant and unimportant at best.  It is often those individuals who are the most broken by sin who see their need for Jesus the greatest and yet we often see them as difficult, undesirable, and a waste of ministry resources.  They are usually the problem or difficult people and it is much easier to ignore them or get rid of them so we can get on with 'real' or more 'significant' ministry.  I know I am guilty of that at times.  Presently we have someone who float in and out of our ministry.  They are extremely broken by sin.  They are emotionally needy, uncooperative, unappreciative, and ungrateful.  They are rude and accusatory when we do not give into their attempts to manipulate.  We have bent over backwards to minister to them.  At times I have patience and compassion yet at other times I want to tell them off or cut them off.  Yet, Jesus calls me to minister to the likes of these even when it is inconvenient and they are not grateful for my help.  Lord, continue to shape my heart, our hearts to be like your heart so we will not ignore the blind Bartimaeus' of our world!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Transforming Sermons: Danger of 'spiritual greed'

Transforming Sermons: Danger of 'spiritual greed'

What Is Holding You Back?

What Is Holding You Back? :: Perry Noble | Leadership, Vision & Creativity

The Gospel-Driven Church: Diagnosing Your Spiritual Health

The Gospel-Driven Church: Diagnosing Your Spiritual Health

Looks like and interesting book -Has Jesus been 'domesticated'? -

Has Jesus been 'domesticated'? - Zoecity

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Suprised by Grace

Here is a great article on the necessity of grace and the gospel for the Christian!

Ed Stetzer - Leadership Book Interview: Surprised by Grace with Tullian Tchividjian

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Steps toward legalistic bondage

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. (Matthew 23:1-4 ESV)

In their attempt to make the law relevant the Pharisees rules applying the law.  The rules then became binding and equal to the law.  This slowly draws one attention from trusting in Christ for our righteousness to trusting in rules for our righteousness.  Theses rules become heavy burdens as we attempt to follow them.  As we place value on them as truth, the become emotionally equal to or greater than the Scriptures themselves.   Our focus shifts from Christ as our source of righteousness to 'works of law' as our source of righteousness.  It is a slippery slope and dangerous.  It binds us up rather than frees us (Gal 5:1).

Monday, August 23, 2010

Why the Law Makes Us Want to Sin More :: Desiring God

Why the Law Makes Us Want to Sin More :: Desiring God

The Gospel-Driven Church: The Stealth Prosperity Gospel and Spiritual Greed

The Gospel-Driven Church: The Stealth Prosperity Gospel and Spiritual Greed

Tradition versus Christ

Tradition versus Christ – Ray Ortlund

5 Ways We Take God's Mercy For Granted - ouch!

5 Ways We Take God's Mercy For Granted | TheResurgence

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The world is filled with boys who can shave.

Facebook | The world is filled with boys who can shave.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Jesus is a Threat to Religion

"When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him (Matthew 2:3 ESV)."

When knowledge of the true King of Israel showed up on the scene He was a threat not only to political leadership also religious leadership. The religious leaders of Israel, the ones who were supposed to lead and point their people to the God of the covenant, were threatened when God's representative showed up! But this was not and is not new. The history of Israel is littered with examples of God showing up - delivering them, sustaining them, and speaking to them - and they reject Him. How about us today, you and me, is Jesus a threat to our way of life? Is He a threat to our/your church leadership? Is he a threat to our/your church's way of life? Is he a threat to our/your way of life? Think about that for a minute. Is the Lord of the universe, the one who not only invites us to submit to Him but demands it, a threat to our way of life? Is there any area of your life that you do not or will not gladly and willingly submit and obey him? If Jesus is not the Lord of your life then he is not your Savior!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Grace: Right Here, Right Now

Grace: Right Here, Right Now :: Desiring God

What About "Being Holy"?

The Gospel-Driven Church: What About "Being Holy"?

What Legalism Isn't (and Is)

The Gospel-Driven Church: What Legalism Isn't (and Is)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

For the sake of the liberation of others – Ray Ortlund

For the sake of the liberation of others – Ray Ortlund

Walking in the Light as evidence of conversion

I have not been posting as I am on vacation.  I have had enough of hot and humid weather.  Good thing we are heading home tomorrow.
I read through 1 John this morning.  Every time I read through this little book, I wonder if I am a Christian at all!  I am not sure if this is good or bad.  I got stuck and reread this a couple of times:
"This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin."  (1 John 1:5-7 ESV)
These are strong words.  But this little exercise in reflecting and meditating caused me to pause about the way I am living (mostly materially) and caused me to reflect on the condition of the western church.  I have two concerns for us western Christians.  I will address one today, cultural accommodation.  We have been so influenced by our culture that our lives are all too similar to the world around us.  I mentioned this to a family member this past weekend and their response was that how can we not be.  I understand their response but Paul give us the antidote in Romans:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  (12:1-2 ESV)
 There are a number of reasons why we are not transformed but I think one reason is that pastors are so accommodating to our culture that we are more saturated with it than with God.  The result is that our preaching is not challenging and transforming!  My family member made the comment that after reading a chapter in Crazy Love by Francis Chan her whole small group questioned whether they were genuine Christians or not!  I said I thought that was good and that God raises up those kind of prophetic voices to challenge us in the way we live.  If you have not read Crazy Love or Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper, I would recommend both for that purpose!

I pray that we all are challenged by such prophetic voices and God raise up more!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Doug Phillips on The New vs. The Old in Our New Life with Christ – Kevin DeYoung

Doug Phillips on The New vs. The Old in Our New Life with Christ – Kevin DeYoung

His visits are never far away – Ray Ortlund

His visits are never far away – Ray Ortlund

Friday, July 30, 2010

The power of sin

The longer you delay, the more your sin gets strength and
rooting. If you cannot bend a twig, how will you be able to bend
it when it is a tree?     -- Richard Baxter

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Nowism of the Gospel :: Desiring God

The Nowism of the Gospel :: Desiring God

Something worth dying for

If I die here in Glasgow, I shall be eaten by worms; if I can but live and die serving the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by cannibals or by worms; for in the Great Day my resurrection body will arise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer. - John G. Paton, Missionary to New Hebrides

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Risk Taking and Faith

Unless there is the element of extreme risk in our exploits for God, there is no need for faith.  
This is a well known quote from Hudson Taylor.  I get frustrated with the American church and myself as well that we risk so little.  The older I get the less I want to risk.  Missionary Biographies are great reads for inspiring radical acts of faith.  Maybe I need to do a series on Radical Exploits for God!  What do you think?  But is risk taking really risky?
If we truly believe that God is sovereign, that nothings escapes his care and control then there is really no such thing as risk in the Christian life.  I am not encouraging recklessness (that is not an issue for most Christ followers) but I am encouraging us to really believe that because God is sovereign - over history, over economies, over atoms and molecules, over our lives and our very breathe, then there is great freedom to take radical acts of faith!
How could the world be different if you doubled your giving to the cause of Christ?  Or if you gave up your job to pursue missions for a year or two?  What if all of us sold everything we have not touched in the last year and gave it to a good cause?
One of my children is considering missionary work in Yemen.  Yemen of all places!  I have had other fathers question me this 'plan.'  I think it is awesome and am blessed that I have had a small part in shaping the life of a young Christ follower who understands Jesus' saying, "For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.  For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself (Luk 9:24-25).  Or 'To live is Christ and to die is gain (Phil 1:21).  The safety of each one of my four children are in the hands of God and they could as easily die in Alaska from exposure as they could from the hands of someone hostile to the gospel in Yemen.  I would much rather all of them to live reckless lives for the cause of Christ and die early deaths than waste their lives in lukewarm Christianity and waste their lives with passionless living.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How can I make sure I am individually shepherding my children? « Practical Shepherding

How can I make sure I am individually shepherding my children? « Practical Shepherding

Friday, July 16, 2010

Inlightening article on the effects of pronorgraphy on the brain!

Salvo Magazine: Slave Master: How Pornography Drugs & Changes Your Brain - Salvo 13

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What are the most harmful consequences when a “married man” struggles with pornography? « Practical Shepherding

What are the most harmful consequences when a “married man” struggles with pornography? « Practical Shepherding

5 Ways to Encourage Your Church Staff - Zoecity

5 Ways to Encourage Your Church Staff - Zoecity

ARTICLE: Charles Lee - Musings | Catalyst

ARTICLE: Charles Lee - Musings | Catalyst

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The essential difference between Christainity and other religions

"Many religions begin by telling men and women what they should do; Christianity begins with what God has done. The shorthand word for this is ‘gospel’, referring not to a set of good instructions or a piece of good advice, but to the good news of what God himself has achieved – for me, for us, for the world – in Christ." - Anthony Billington

Two Things That Often Hold Us Back :: Perry Noble | Leadership, Vision & Creativity

Two Things That Often Hold Us Back :: Perry Noble | Leadership, Vision & Creativity – Why Are Parents So Unhappy? And Who Would Settle for Happiness, Anyway? – Why Are Parents So Unhappy? And Who Would Settle for Happiness, Anyway? – Hard to Believe? Biblical Authority and Evangelical Feminism – Hard to Believe? Biblical Authority and Evangelical Feminism

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Steps to Grace-Driven Sex

The Gospel-Driven Church: Steps to Grace-Driven Sex