A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.

Modesty: It’s for both women and (yup)….

bow tiesWhen we have young children going into teenage or young adults at church it’s not un often that the topic of modesty comes up. Some say women must dress modestly so as not to stumble the weaker ones (read brothers).  Either way – its good you are reading this article as this is a good opportunity to reflect on a couple of things. Modesty is an issue that should be looked at with alot of seriousness and thoughtfulness both by women and men.

Tom Hicks when writing about this prickly issue actually highlights 5 important points as he cautions on modesty.

He says:

I recently read an article about modesty that prompted me to write this post. The article says that women, particularly young women, should dress modestly to keep their brothers from stumbling into sin. I’ve talked that way in the past, and I’ve even taught it, but I’ve come to believe that it’s not helpful. Biblical modesty is really about humility and the glory of God.

1. Modesty as Humility. Often when Christians speak of modesty, they speak in terms of dress, but in reality, modesty is about not “showing off” any of your attractive qualities in words or deeds. It’s about refusing to set yourself above others and refusing to draw attention to yourself as an end. Modesty means not bragging about our work accomplishments, not showing off how intelligent we are, or even how “godly” we are, and it also means not showing off our physical bodies. Modesty means that we regard others as more important than ourselves and refuse to make ourselves out to look better than others.

2. Modesty is a Matter of the Gospel. Because of Christ’s imputed righteousness, we don’t have anything to prove to anyone. We are clothed in His holy robes of perfect obedience, which means we don’t have to grasp for the high opinions of men, the attraction of others, or for feelings of superiority over them. As believers in Jesus, we already have Him and all things in Him. Jesus says we will inherit the earth. We are seated in the heavenly places with Christ. God says we are “righteous” and that we are His “sons.” It really doesn’t matter what others say or think about us and it doesn’t matter whether others desire us. God wants us. He accepts us freely. Therefore, we can be modest.

…Read More!

Correcting the offending brother

I am currently reading a rare and out of print 1993 book that  was kindly given to me by a retired pastor and I have reached the interesting section on ‘church discipline’. Indeed my coffee cup is filled to the brim and I am sprawling on a tiny chair as I indulge in savory words of virtue and wisdom. Okay lets back track a bit -church discipline -this of course is a delicate issue facing any congregation of Christians:

correcting the brotherOn one hand, believers are sensitive to the claims of truth on the conscience. They are further aware that truth is for the purpose of promoting godliness. Consequently, sin is to be taken seriously, and discipline  when necessary, is to be administered according to the gravity  of the offense in question. ‘If your brother sins,’ says our Lord, ‘correct him.’ (Matt 18:15).

On the other hand, Christians are aware that the truth has not been entrusted to the church in abstraction from the welfare of the people who are recipients of that truth.

If sin is exposed and corrected, it is only to the end that Christ may be glorified by the recovery and restoration of his errant sheep (cf James 5:19-20). The problem of church discipline, accordingly resides in the BALANCE of the truth and love of people… Read More!

Isn’t God’s purpose ruined by the unbelief of the masses?

seedMany ask that isn’t God’s purpose in mission and evangelism ruined by unbelief; especially when the gospel is taken to villages and hard hearted people groups who refuse to be receptive and responsive to the message?

It isn’t “The Parable of the Soils” in Matthew 13:1-23, but The Parable of the Sower, as Jesus himself called it (v. 18). The importance of this title is to show that it was Christ’s word, or the gospel, that is sown and that it is His intention to sow seed on the soil (people) who will not believe, as well as on those who would. Jesus is unambiguous. He clarifies that the gospel is able to be understood by a subset of those who hear (“to you it has been granted,” v. 11), “but to them [the rest] it has not been granted.” This surely had a special impact meant for the Jewish audience, as we see by reading Christ’s long quote in Isaiah 6.
The evangelism/mission cause can never be thwarted by the unbelief of the masses who will “keep on hearing but will not understand,” any more than Jesus’ own earthly evangelism was hindered by it. It has always been part of the plan that people will not understand. If a missionary hacks his way through jungle and finds no reception in some villages, it isn’t defeat. …Read More!

O Lord, I need a personal revival

Quoting John Newton:

NEWTON2_360Do you ask how it is with me?  Just as the weather is this morning.  My heart is cold as the snow under foot, and cloudy as the sky over my head.  Not a beam of sunshine, but it is a mercy to have daylight.  It will not be always winter, though it has been a long winter with me.  We want a revival at Olney both for the shepherd and the sheep.  Yet my mouth is not stopped.  I can sometimes talk loud and look big in the pulpit, but how different a creature am I behind the scenes!  Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord!

William Carey: The Doctrines of Grace in Evangelism

When it comes to missionaries to South East Asia or rather India in particular William Carey, a  shoemaker by trade  is the first name that springs up. Born in England in 1761 he spent an active forty-one years serving the Lord in India, including translating the Scriptures. This was after being heckled,”Young man, sit down: when God pleases to covert the heathen, He will do it without your aid or mine.”

 To know what William believed I will let this excerpt unfold the story:

William Carey’s greatest contribution to the modern missions movement was his trust in the sovereignty of God in missions.  This fueled his zeal to reach the heathen with the gospel.  In his youth, he was told to sit down by an elder brother, a hyper-Calvinist, who told him that when God wanted to reach the heathen He would do it without him or Carey.  Carey’s Calvinism however, his theological understanding of God’s sovereignty and the responsibility of man, would not allow him to either doubt God’s sovereignty or neglect his responsibility. Read More…

Mission to Moyo: Why would some one want to reach Africa’s unreached?

reaching africas unreachedJacob Lee is in a village called Afoji in Moyo district in Northern Uganda. Why would some one leave the comfort of his life in America and take his wife along to a place where there is no electricity or running water? Well, in their own words

Our Mission is to reach Africa’s unreached people groups with the glorious Gospel of Jesus by planting  Christ exalting churches in their midst. Furthermore, we will endeavor to strengthen local churches and their leaders through careful exposition of the Scriptures in word and deed.

We believe the greatest need of every person and of every culture is the clear proclamation of the Gospel! Along with this, we are seeking to ultimately serve the community where we are planted in, near Moyo North Uganda and South Sudan, with practical needs such as a medical/dental clinic, an orphan care center, a christian primary and secondary school for children, and a vocational training center for adults. …Read More!

Spurgeon and those in pulpits who waste people’s time

“I had sooner die than live to be such a being as many who stand up in the pulpit wholly to waste people’s time and not to win souls!” – Charles Spurgeon

WWUTT: Hates the sin but loves the sinner? Not so fast dear!

This is quite interesting….

HT: Rated R for Reformed.

When sin shall be unmasked.

PNG-womanAh, souls! when you shall lie upon a dying bed, and stand before a judgment-seat, sin shall be unmasked, and its dress and robes shall then be taken off, and then it shall appear more vile, filthy, and terrible than hell itself; then, that which formerly appeared most sweet will appear most bitter, and that which appeared most beautiful will appear most ugly, and that which appeared most delightful will then appear most dreadful to the soul.

~ Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices

HT Reformed Quotes.

Putting a Boom Shakalaka in Acts 2!

Truthinator has been going through the book of Acts. And sure enough he reached Acts 2 and made a discovery.  Oh did he?! Well, you see there was a ….

Boom-shakalaka  boom-shakalaka … Many of you have heard similar sounds to this from people saying they are speaking in tongues. But are they? Look at scripture. The disciples were gathered together and a rush of sound like the sound of wind entered the room. Something like divided tongues of fire rested upon each disciple. Each was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke with other tongues (languages) as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The fire was not literal fire as we usually think of fire but God-sent visual signs that His power was active in that place. This was not the first time God had used fire to indicate His presence. …Read More!

The degradation of culture due to sin

Excerpt from Crossing cultures in Scripture:Biblical principles in Mission:

Perhaps up to 800 years of Adam’s 930 (Gen 5: 5) were spent watching human culture deteriorate from the perfection that he and Eve once enjoyed. He experienced the heartbreak of a murdered son and of another being a castaway (Gen 4: 15-16). His heart was grieved as he witnessed his descendants sliding deeper into a culture of “sexual immorality, impurity , sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies” (Gal 5: 19-21). What a contrast to that perfect pre-sin wholesome culture of “love, joy, peace , patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5: 22-23)!

It is therefore no wonder that when one preaches the gospel to the ultra modern millenial or the most savage unreached tribe and they come to a realisation of their helpless state, both are anxious to free themselves from their degraded cultural practices. The light of the gospel brings them hope.
Oh how wonderful it is to hear that even though we like sheep have gone astray, each one in his own way -the Lord has laid on Christ the iniquity of us all. 

Amen!

Ye Are The Salt!—Not Sugar Candy

By Charles Spurgeon

An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence, that the most shortsighted can hardly fail to notice it during the past few years. It has developed at an abnormal rate, even for evil. It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments. The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them. Read More

A letter from Spurgeon to his wife when attacked by Mosquitos in Venice.

This note was written while Charles Spurgeon was in Venice. We all love Spurgeon for his impeccable use of the English vocabulary. This note to his wife when he was being plagued by mosquitoes will make you see the human and mortal side of the Spurgeon as he battles the mundane. This should be a light hearted read for you…please do not laugh (well enjoy it whichever way)

6 a.m.—I awake grateful for another night’s peaceful rest, only to find myself very badly bitten by mosquitoes. A mosquito is the most terrible of beasts. A lion delights in blood, but he does not suck it from living animals; he does not carefully prolong their tortures. A viper poisons, but he is generally content with one use of his fangs; but these small-winged serpents bite in scores of places in succession.
My hands are a series of burning mountains. The creatures are as nearly omnipresent as Satan, which means that, though a mosquito cannot be everywhere, yet no mortal can be sure that he is not near him, or tell where he is not. Curtains are a delusion, pastilles are a snare; the little enemies are irritated by such attempts to escape their malice, and give you double punishment. O Italy! I have shed my blood for thy sake, and feel a love of thee (or something else) burning in my veins!

…Read More!

Holding the feet of televangelists and faith healers to the fire of Scripture.

It is not that often that televangelists and faith healers open their doors and have their theology and doctrinal practices tested against the standard of scripture. More often than not these offices always come shrouded in mystery and sadly mysticism. However a brave Chris Rosebrough managed to get an interview with Brian Powers a popular televangelist and faith healer and they decided to go through some honest doctrinal issues.

Listen to link here.

Tony-Allen Cucolo writes an interesting summary of  common responses when most of these “hyper” anointed men are confronted with scripture.

  • A complete and utter inability to answer any direct question (here especially regarding the Trinity, his personal sin, etc.), usually going off on another tangent instead.
  • A double standard in regards to accusing someone of harping on doctrine (eg., Trinity), while at the same time accusing others of violating Christian doctrine (eg., Charismatic Gifts of the Spirit).
  • Almost zero knowledge of church history.

…Read More!

People never reject the Bible because they don’t understand it…. Au Contraire!

Stoning-of-Stephen2“Be very sure of this–people never reject the Bible because they cannot understand it. They understand it too well; they understand that it condemns their own behavior; they understand that it witnesses against their own sins, and summons them to judgment. They try to believe it is false and useless, because they don’t like to believe it is true. An evil lifestyle must always raise an objection to this book. Men question the truth of Christianity because they hate the practice of it.” – J. C. Ryle

Do not be discouraged at the difficulties…

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If God is for us, who can be against us?
Romans 8:31

Do not be discouraged at the difficulties and oppositions that will rise up before you when you begin resolvedly to walk with God. Discouragements turn multitudes from religion, and provide a great temptation for many young beginners to turn back. Israel in the wilderness was ready to retreat to Egypt. God himself will have his servants and his graces tried and exercised by difficulties, and Satan, will quickly raise up storms before us, as soon as we are set out to sea.

But God is on your side and has all your enemies in his hand, and can rebuke them, or destroy them in a moment. O what is the breath or
fury of dust or devils, against the Lord Almighty! In the day you entered into a covenant with God, and he with you, you entered into the most impregnable rock and fortress, and covered yourself in a castle of defence, where you may (modestly) defy all adverse powers of earth
or hell. If God cannot save you, he is not God. …Read More!

When God ordains thorns for me…

hopeHaving faith in God and putting your trust in Him involves trusting Him for your salvation and through your sanctification. Your sanctification is for His glory and for your good through times and situations you do not understand. More times than not there will be tough times; occasions when the proverbial thorn remains in your side and He will not take it away. In such times where do you draw your strength from? Our trust should always be in The Sovereign God knowing that what God ordains is always good for me for His glory. In the words of Nancy Guthrie…

Some claim that strong faith is defined by throwing our energies into begging God for a miracle that will take away our suffering and then believing without doubting that he will do it. But faith is not measured by our ability to manipulate God to get what we want, it is measured by our willingness to submit to what he wants. It takes great faith to say to God, ” Even if you don’t heal me or the one I love, even if you don’t change my circumstances, even if you don’t restore my relationship, even if you allow me to lose what is most precious to me, I will still love you and obey you and believe that you are good.  – Nancy Guthrie (Hearing Jesus Speak Into your Sorrow …Read More!

#SIN awareness day

2014-07-06 13.56.32A lone street preacher calls on the crowd with a message. This is one of the most stirring photos I have seen in a long while…

Bruising is required before conversion

hopeQuoting Richard Sibbes:

This bruising is required before conversion that so the Spirit may make way for himself into the heart by leveling all proud, high thoughts, and that we may understand ourselves to be what indeed we are by nature. We love to wander from ourselves and to be strangers at home, till God bruises us by one cross or other, and then we `begin to think’, and come home to ourselves with the prodigal (Luke 15:17). It is a very hard thing to bring a dull and an evasive heart to cry with feeling for mercy. Our hearts, like criminals, until they be beaten from all evasions, never cry for the mercy of the judge. …Read More!

Some days I long for God…

IMG_4978.JPGThat’s is absolutely true and more so today. I came across a Puritan poem-prayer that articulates this longing a lot better than I could…

My dear Lord, I can but tell Thee that Thou knowest I long for nothing but Thyself, nothing but holiness, nothing but union with Thy will. Thou hast given me these desires, and thou alone canst give me the thing desired. My soul longs for communion with Thee, for mortification of indwelling corruption, especially spiritual pride. …Read More!

The neglected duty of private prayer

IMG_4982.JPGQuoting J.C Ryle on prayer…

We live in days of abounding religious profession. There are more places of public worship than there ever was before. There are more people attending them than there ever was before. And yet in spite of all this public religion, I believe there is a vast neglect of private prayer. It is one of those private transcripts between God and our souls which no eye sees, and therefore one which people are tempted to pass over and leave undone.
I believe that hundreds of thousands never utter a word of prayer at all. They eat. They drink. They sleep. They rise. They go forth to their work. They return to their homes. They breathe God’s air. They travel on God’s earth. They enjoy God’s mercies. They have dying bodies. They have judgment and eternity before them. But they never speak to God. They live like the animals that perish. They behave like creatures without souls. They have not one word to say to Him in whose hand are their life and breath, and all things, and from whose mouth they must one day receive their everlasting sentence. How dreadful this seems; but if the secrets of men were only known, how common.

Adonirom Judson’s letter to his prospective father in law Mr Hasseltine.

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Adoniram Judson, Jr. (August 9, 1788 – April 12, 1850) was the first Protestant missionary sent from North America to preach in Burma. Judson is remembered as the first significant missionary in Burma, as well as one of the very first missionaries from America to travel overseas. The story of his biography has touched many people, however I will just dig into a small bit here and it’s his letter to his prospective father in law shines some light into the kind of person he was and his passion for missions and evangelism of the dangerous heathen lands:

“I have now to ask whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world ? Whether you can consent to her departure to a heathen land, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life? Whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death? Can you consent to all this, for the sake of Him who left His heavenly home and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with a crown of righteousness brightened by the acclamations of praise which shall resound to her Saviour from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?”

HT J.D Greer

Adoniram Judson ended up spending his missionary career not in India, but in Burma. During his thirty-seven years of service there, he persevered through seventeen months of brutal imprisonment, several bouts of life-threatening illness, and the death of two wives and six children. He succeeded in translating the Bible into Burmese and compiling an English-Burmese dictionary. He waited six years for his first Burmese convert, but by the time of his death in 1850, there were a hundred Burmese churches and over 8,000 Burmese Christians. A very readable biography, To the Golden Shore by Courtney Anderson, recounts the epic story of his remarkable life.

How do I get our church to focus on evangelism rather than entertainment?

outreach-ideasWell, by the time you ask your self that kind of question its very likely you may be in the wrong kind of church or your church has probably missed the point and gone off with the wrong priorities. That being said, it is always a good thing to start thinking about evangelism and having a desire to see others come to a true knowledge of Christ through the gospel. The gospel rightly should be the beginning place for every evangelistic endeavor or discipleship program. In this day and age where churches have resorted to hiring ‘church growth’ gurus to bring about astronomical increase in numbers (with no love for the things of God or commitment) it’s quite encouraging to come across pastors who are keen on evangelism and biblical discipleship.

Missionary and church planter David Cloud (together with his wife Linda) have got a free ebook called Ideas for Evangelism (see free download link below) that is a fruit of collective effort gleaned from many sources as well as from their more than 40 years missionary experiences. They have been church planters, ministered on bus routes, in jails, taught Sunday School classes, witnessed on military bases and university campuses, nursing homes and gladly and humbly tackle several issues in  Ideas for Evangelism. This book is for people and churches that feel ‘stuck in a rut’ with their gospel outreach and feel they need to – prove all things; hold fast to that which is good in a bid to uphold a biblical standard in their worship and practice. …Read More!

How about the believer who falls?

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The topic of a believer who falls into sin or renounces his profession is a common one. And from that spring boards the questions Can a believer fall radically? Can a believer fall totally, irretrievably and be lost for all eternity? I hope this post sheds some light on what scripture says…

We may live in a culture that believes everyone will be saved, that we are “justified by death” and all you need to do to go to heaven is die, but God’s Word certainly doesn’t give us the luxury of believing that. Any quick and honest reading of the New Testament shows that the Apostles were convinced that nobody can go to heaven unless they believe in Christ alone for their salvation (John 14:6; Rom. 10:9–10).

Historically, evangelical Christians have largely agreed on this point. Where they have differed has been on the matter of the security of salvation. People who would otherwise agree that only those who trust in Jesus will be saved have disagreed on whether anyone who truly believes in Christ can lose his salvation.

Theologically speaking, what we are talking about here is the concept of apostasy. This term comes from a Greek word that means “to stand away from.” When we talk about those who have become apostate or have committed apostasy, we’re talking about those who have fallen from the faith or at least from the profession of faith in Christ that they once made. …Read More!

God and our tears – He sees our tears!

The Lord Jesus sees our tears, he has compassion on us and says to us: “Do not weep”! Excerpt from Reformation Italy:

godseesour-tears

Living on a ground full of thorns and thistles because of sin (Genesis 3:17-19), every day many people are living and sowing “weeping” (Psalm 126:6). Every day people shed many tears: the child who is hurt; the teenager in crisis; the young woman distressed; the frustrated adult; the husband who loses his job; the mistreated wife; children with absent parents; the elderly abandoned and alone… Every day there are those who feel like the Psalmist, calling upon God, saying: “My life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing” (Psalm 31:10). Let us pause to think: in the present evil age, in front of the power of death, pain and unbelief that seized humankind, even Jesus – the Son of God – “wept” (John 11:35).

…Read More!

What is the greatest gospel transformation you have ever seen?

This was a question posed to Missionary David Sitton who went to Papua New Guinea at the age of 22 to preach to tribes of cannibals. Listen to his answer…

HT To Every Tribe Ministries

Why missionaries need your prayers.

 An excerpt from the missions book  Warfare Prayer:

Is it possible for a missionary’s zeal to dwindle and spiritual life go dry? Not only is it possible, it will become a painful reality unless deliberate steps are taken to avoid this peril. One of the enduring misconceptions about missionaries is that they are super-saints, entirely immune from the doubts, temptations, fears, struggles, and sins that plague everyone else. Not only are we encumbered with the common burdens of all believers, but these trials are even more exacerbated on the mission field…

Pray that your missionaries will maintain daily, intimate fellowship with The Lord. Our spiritual life and ministry depend on it. ~ David Sitton

Free missions book courtesy of To Every Tribe  ministries and David Sitton: Warfare Prayer ebook here.

4 Important Questions To Ask A Pastoral Candidate.

When faced with the rather difficult task of picking a pastor from a list of candidates what qualities would you go for? Would you consider humor, agility and creativity or would you go for theological astuteness? 9 Marks makes the task alot easier in this article by tackling the task head on…

A church should ask at least four types of questions of any potential pastor: theological, philosophy of ministry, practical, and personal.

  • Theological. A church should ask a pastoral candidate theological questions because what that pastor believes will shape everything he does in the church. So a church should ask him questions like:
  1. Do you agree with everything in this church’s statement of faith? Is there anything missing from this statement of faith that you would like changed or added?
  2. Is there a confession of faith which better articulates your views?
  3. What is the gospel?
  4. Do you believe in the doctrines of grace? Why or why not?
  5. What are some theological issues that you think are especially important for Christians to get right in this time and place?
  6. How would you characterize your understanding of biblical church leadership? …Read More!

UH, BRETHREN. WE ARE DEBTORS!!

Quoting Spurgeon:

Consider how much you owe to his forgiving grace, that after ten thousand affronts he loves you as infinitely as ever; and after a myriad sins, his Spirit still resides within you. Consider what you owe to his power; how he has raised you from your death in sin how he has preserved your spiritual life, how he has kept you from falling, and how, though a thousand enemies have beset your path, you have been able to hold on your way! Consider what thou owest to his immutablity. Though thou hast changed a thousand times, he has not changed once; though thou hast shifted thy intentions, and thy will, yet has he not once swerved from his eternal purpose, but still has held thee fast. Consider thou art as deep in debt as thou canst be to every attribute of God. To God thou owest thyself, and all thou hast. “Brethren, we are debtors.”[1]

Spurgeon, Charles H. Spurgeon’s Sermons.  Vol. 2. The Christian, A Debtor. August 10, 1856.

How do the deaf hear the gospel?

That is a good question to ask a lady called Jean. I have had a really wonderful evening hearing of the missions work among the deaf in Austria. I must say any day I hear of God’s glorious works in the salvation of any soul I am always intrigued and amazed. This time I was glad to hear of how the gospel is spreading among the deaf in Klagenfurt, Austria. Jean Ellis has given over thirty years of her life to work in Austria.  Her ministry in affiliation with Grace Baptist Mission (GBM) has almost been exclusively among the deaf and their families. By God’s grace some have come to repentance and faith in Christ and by the grace of God the number of deaf believers is growing who are now led  by local sign language using pastors grounded in sound Biblical teaching. The work in Austria has been blessed with conversions and even baptisms.

The work among the deaf:

There have been many challenges in the work; part of the challenges were to translate the Bible into Austrian sign language, prayers of the leaders and new believers. Much prayer is still needed for missionaries to this community group (as well as to many missionaries to deaf people around the world). More missionaries are needed to special needs people whether deaf, blind or mute. Why? Because we as believers have an obligation and a commission from the Lord to spread the gospel. Besides…

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? [Rom 10:14]

May God send workers in to the harvest. May the Lord equip the workers for the harvest. May the glory go to Him alone.British sign language letter A

13 Signs You Could Be A Christian Nomad

My favourite law enforcer and (yes) street evangelist has a very interesting post on a common finding these days -Christian nomadism….(I love sign number 7)

Nomadism is a growing problem within the Body of Christ and has infected the biblical evangelism community. Nomadism is a serious problem among not only young and immature believers, but also older more mature believers, and as well as some who are well-known in the biblical evangelism community.

The following list of symptoms is in no way whatsoever intended to be a tongue-in-cheek or flippant offering. Nothing about this subject is a laughing matter. The list first appeared on Twitter and some have asked me to compile the list in the form of a blog article.  So, here it is. …Read More!

Take the Calvinism Test.

The label Calvinist is thrown about flippantly. In some circles it’s used with a snarl and a growl. In most cases people do not actually know what it means. However Times Herald has noted that….

 This label that once was considered very bad in almost all Christian circles is enjoying incredible new popularity. Surging numbers of Christians are attending Calvinistic conferences and reading Calvinistic books and articles.

Calvinism is still misunderstood and is recovering from so many decades of bad press. In spite of that, however, more people opening called themselves Calvinists or variations of that, like mild Calvinists or moderate Calvinists. Have you been labeled a Calvinist? How can you know if you or someone else is such an animal? In a moment I’d like to give you a simple test to determine just that.

The nickname Calvinist comes from the Reformer John Calvin (1509-1564). Although John Calvin taught through books of the Bible day-by-day in Geneva, Switzerland, he is known mostly for teaching that God is sovereign over the salvation of sinners. He taught that God chose to save some people before time began, and then predestined that they would become believers in Christ. …Read More!

Steven Lawson: The kind of preaching that God blesses

There is a kind of preaching that God blesses, specifically the proclamation that exalts the crucified Christ by the power of the Spirit. Conversely, there is a kind of preaching that God does not bless, a mere echoing of man’s empty wisdom that is devoid of Christ. ~ Lawson, Steven J.  from The Kind of Preaching God Blesses

Why Do We Say Grace Before Meals?

Isn’t it rather odd in it self that we have different meanings for “Grace” these days? Just saying… 🙂

[HT to Facebook Friends]

That Shocking Youth Message by Paul Washer (Transcript)

20120704-221433.jpgOne of the best youth messages I have come across was Paul Washer’s “shocking youth message”. It was a biblical message about what it truly means t o be a Christian. It was so good that he wasn’t welcomed back! (No kidding)

It’s a tremendous privilege for me to be here this afternoon with you. Before we begin with any further speaking, I would also like to go to the Lord in prayer. I would ask you to pray. There is so much going on here this afternoon, so much that you don’t understand, but I’ll tell you where I’m coming from. I’ll preach as a dying man to dying men and women and youth….
Let’s go to the Lord in prayer.
Father . . .Father, I am so small and so pitiful, Father, in so many ways. You know, Lord, You know, though dear God, should false fire be the only thing ever placed on Your altar, or could fire come down from Heaven amidst all the noise and the clamor and the activities . . . could fire come down from Heaven and these dead bones live…. Breathe on them. Grant them repentance. Grant them faith. Bring them into Your Kingdom, Lord, for Your own glory, for the sake of Your own great name, do this thing, Lord. As the brother said, let it be so, Lord, so that no man will take credit for it, so that no man will lay his hand to the ark of God and, if he did, that You would strike him down dead, Lord. Oh, God, move among us, please, because we have no other hope. We have no other hope. These children have no other hope except that You move…Amen.
I stand here today . . . I’m not troubled in my heart about your self-esteem. I’m not troubled in my heart about whether or not you feel good about yourself, whether or not life is turning out like you want it to turn out, or whether or not your checkbook is balanced. There’s only one thing that gave me a sleepless night. There’s only one thing that troubled me all throughout the morning, and this is this. Within a hundred years, a great majority of people in this building will possibly be in hell. And many who even profess Jesus Christ as Lord will spend an eternity in hell…

Read more of this post

Ecce Homo: Behold The Man!

It’s about two thousand years since Pilate said, “Ecce homo” (behold the man). How  easily we forget that God was among us (Emmanuel). How easily we forget that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

How easily we let our focus shift to material give aways and easter eggs. What if we beheld the crucifixion of Jesus and remembered that:

Death by crucifixion was agonizingly slow, and came about by suffocation. A medical expert on crucifixion describes the physical effects that Jesus would have endured while nailed to a cross,

“As the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles . . . With these cramps comes the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by His arms, the pectoral muscles are paralyzed . . . Air can be drawn into the lungs, but cannot be exhaled. Jesus fights to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically He is able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in the life-giving oxygen.” (The Crucifixion of Jesus: The Passion of Christ from a Medical Point of View, Arizona Medicine, vol. 22, no. 3 (March 1965), 183-187).

This process would continue for hours until all strength in the legs is gone, and Jesus is no longer able to push up in order to breathe.

Aside from the physical pain of crucifixion, there was also the stigma of disgrace and humiliation that was attached to it. Victims were beaten, whipped, and taunted even before reaching the cross. They were usually hanged naked, made a spectacle of shame for all to see. Read More…

Charles Spurgeon: “Give them all the more of it”

praying“If anything is hated bitterly, it is the out-and-out gospel of the grace of God, especially if that hateful word ‘sovereignty’ is mentioned with it.

Dare to say ‘He will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and he will have compassion on whom he will have compassion,’ and furious critics will revile you without stint.

The modern religionist not only hates the doctrine of sovereign grace, but he raves and rages at the mention of it. He would sooner hear you blaspheme than preach election by the Father, atonement by the Son, or regeneration by the Spirit. …Read More!

So Who Was Junia And Did Her Role Contradict Paul’s Admonition on Women’s Roles in Church?

This week’s excerpt comes from Tribulogue [an interesting blog I came across this week]. It is an in-depth look into a portion of Paul’s letter to the Romans  where two characters Andronicus and Dunia are mentioned in the sixteenth chapter. So who was Dunia and did her ministry contradict Paul’s admonition about women’s roles in church?

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was (Romans 16:7, NIV).

I’ve spent a lot of time working through the research that describes the households of Rome as one of the basic building blocks of Roman society. How commerce in the city led to movements in and out of the city at the time Paul wrote the letter to the Romans, in the middle of the first century. How wealth and patronage, even as evidenced in the New Testament, naturally led to “leadership positions” that existed in the house churches in Rome, prior to the arrival of the Apostles. …Read More!

Breakthrough: The documentary of Missionary James O. Fraser and the Lisu people

Above is a trailer of documentary of James Fraser:

James Fraser was only 22 years old when he left his engineering career and went to China. From the very first time he saw the Lisu tribespeople of Yunnan Province, he was filled with God’s love for them. He spent the rest of his life laboring to bring them the gospel. Breakthrough came only after his partners back home took up the challenge to pray. …Read More!

Moving from Angry Calvinism to gentle forbearing….

Isn’t it a wonder some times when one discovers some truth about a facet of God’s divine design or the doctrines of grace and then we lose all patience with those slow to taste the honey dew? The term used here is usually –Angry Calvinist. Could it be that we become angry with them and not realise we too were once blind to these truth until the light of God’s grace shone on our paths? On becoming a humble Calvinist – John Newton, Memoirs of the Life of the Late Rev. William Grimshaw (London: 1799), pages 86–87 writes something that rings true:

Church Reformer Martin LutherThey who avow the doctrines distinguished by the name of Calvinism, ought, if consistent with their own principles, to be the most gentle and forbearing of all men, in meekness instructing them that oppose. With us, it is a fundamental maxim, that a man can receive nothing but what is given him from heaven (John 3:27). If, therefore, it has pleased God to give us the knowledge of some truths, which are hidden from others, who have the same outward means of information; it is a just reason for thankfulness to him, but will not justify our being angry with them; for we are no better or wiser than they in ourselves, and might have opposed the truths which we now prize, with the same eagerness and obstinacy, if his grace had not made us to differ. If the man, mentioned in John 9, who was born blind, on whom our Lord graciously bestowed the blessing of sight, had taken a cudgel and beat all the blind men he met, because they would not see, his conduct would have greatly resembled that of an angry Calvinist.

HT Tony Reinke on Humble Calvinism.

So, allow me to (re) introduce Jesus Christ to you

Blair Wingo Linne the wife of Christian musician Shai Linne minces no words as a spoken word artist in her poem as she re introduces Christ… Here is the transcript:

Allow me to reintroduce the Christ…

We got a false Jesus being portrayed
As seen on TV, acting cool, you see He’s changed
A different Jesus from the Bible so
Allow me to bring the real Christ on stage
Not that whack Jesus, the one not based on fact Jesus, too often displayed
The Christ in glory, not the one on your chain
Cause He is the real Jesus peace that only dwells in the saved …Read More!

Do I need Jesus?

prayingDo I need the Lord Jesus Christ? Yes, infinitely, but chiefly on two accounts. The guilt of sin on me is mountainous; none but he can remove it. The power of sin in me is marvellous, none but he can subdue it.

But am I willing to have the Lord Jesus Christ? Yes, most heartily: for there is a dreadful necessity that the miseries of my soul should be relieved; he, and none but he, can relieve them.   ~ Cotton Mather

How do people drift towards holiness?

drifting“People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.” ― D.A. Carson

The God whom you worship… irreverently

church-cross“Remember the perfections of that God whom you worship, that he is a Spirit, and therefore to be worshipped in spirit and truth; and that he is most great and terrible, and therefore to be worshipped with seriousness and reverence, and not to be dallied with, or served with toys or lifeless lip-service; and that he is most holy, pure, and jealous, and therefore to be purely worshipped; and that he is still present with you, and all things are naked and open to him with whom we have to do. The knowledge of God, and the remembrance of his all-seeing presence, are the most powerful means against hypocrisy.”
― Richard Baxter

Puritan Devotionals: Voices From The Past.

If you are looking for a daily devotional as a Christmas or New year present or even birthday gift then look for one that is deep with theology and will spur you to delve deeper into the scriptures. The Puritan devotional Voices From the Past by Richard Rushing should be high on your list and this is why:

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1 Timothy 4:2 … “Whose consciences are seared.”
“Get and keep a tender conscience. Be sensible of the least sin. Some men’s consciences are like the stomach of the ostrich that can digest iron: they can swallow the most notorious sins without regret. A good conscience is very delicate. It feels the least touch of known sin, and is grieved at the thought of grieving God’s Spirit. It will choose the greatest of suffering before the least of sinning.

However, the jeering Ishmaels of the world are ready to reproach and laugh it to scorn for its precise scruples. Daily train all your graces for battle. Live in a military posture, both defensive and offensive. Stand constantly by your weapons. Admit no peace with sin. The soldier of Christ must never lay down his arms. Satan never ceases his wiles and stratagems. He will tell you that sin is pleasant. Ask yourself if the gripping of conscience is also pleasant? Ask yourself if it is pleasant to be in hell, and be under the wrath of God? Ask yourself if the pleasures of sin for a season compare with the rivers of God’s pleasures? How do they compare to a weight of glory, an incorruptible crown, and a heavenly kingdom?

Read more of this post

A Christmas riddle…

embraced-by-promises

Which bible verse or story does this illustration depict?

7 tips on starting out in ministry

starting-out-in-ministryA few words of encouragement from a man who has seen many days go by.  So, when Jim Sayers stops to give you a few tips on starting out in ministry then you had better take notes.

Here are seven of Jim’s fifteen tips for starting well as a pastor:

  1. Preach within your range. The Bible is like a mountain range, and some peaks are a lot higher than others, so don’t set out to preach beyond your capabilities. We grow into the task of preaching, so don’t set out to preach through revelation as your first series, or John 14-17 or 2 Cor. 10-13. (I tried the latter, and am still scarred by the experience.) Preach what your congregation needs to hear most, and what you can make clear and apply well. Your preaching will reach first class standard after about five years, and test match standard….maybe! meantime, know your limits. John Chapman says ‘Preaching’s not that hard. It’s just the first forty years that’s the worst!’ After twenty four years I am starting to appreciate that quip more and more.
  1. Make a preaching plan for your first few years that takes you to a different genre of Scripture in each ‘term’ of the year. I watched my pastor in Abingdon, Simon Hutton, do this in his early years in Abingdon, and it is a great plan (which had never occurred to me). So we had Exodus 1-15, Colossians, some of Mark, Job (the best early series), Amos and Micah, and so on. As he tackled each series, so he became used to handling that Scripture genre ready for whenever he handled a similar book in future. See your early years in preaching as developing your skills gradually.

…Read More!

Top Ten Reasons Not To Join A Reformed Baptist Church.

If you are church shopping [this article was first published in OCTOBER 2011] or looking for a local Christian fellowship a Reformed Baptist Church may not be your cup of tea 🙂

Well you see, Dr. James White has (honestly) noted that in a Reformed Baptist Church…

  1. You don’t get to leave after every sermon feeling good about yourself. You may even desire repentance.
  2. You don’t get to hear the sermons in the same way you may be used to. It’s frequently verse by verse, maybe not even relevant to your current situation.
  3. You don’t get to be entertained. We don’t want to entertain you. Read more of this post

Free Reformed Christian E-Books!

3d man sitting on ebook word reading a red book

Free Ebooks

Are you looking for good and deep Christian literature? I thought I should share these sites with you. In case you are looking for free Christian ebooks, epub or kindle format you may want to bookmark these links below starting with:
0 Monergism Free Ebooks.

 

 

Preparing to listen to the preaching of the word

listening

We are told men ought not to preach without preparation. Granted. But, we add, men ought not to hear without preparation. Which, do you think, needs the most preparation, the sower or the ground? I would have the sower come with clean hands, but I would have the ground well-plowed and harrowed, well-turned over, and the clods broken before the seed comes in. It seems to me that there is more preparation needed by the ground than by the sower, more by the hearer than by the preacher. – Spurgeon