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!
The Lord Jesus sees our tears, he has compassion on us and says to us: “Do not weep”! Excerpt from Reformation Italy:
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).
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!
[Re-posted from 2017] Jacob 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!
That’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!
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
[Re-posted from Feb 2016] Talking of Christian Eulogies -Watch Monty Williams, the 44-year-old associate head coach for the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team, bring the gospel to bear on the “loss” of his beloved wife, Ingrid:
May the Lord make each of us more like this man: even when hurt and in deep pain, he is fixed on God-centered hope, with an eternal perspective, freely offering forgiveness and freed from bitterness and complaint.
Nine Marks has an interesting article on why you should become a church member and even when you have an excuse for not joining one church you must look for another and BECOME A COMMITTED CHURCH MEMBER. Check this out….
REASONS TO JOIN THE CHURCH
These more deliberate conversations veer back and forth between the biblical and the practical. Typically, I generally encourage a person to join the church
# For the sake of the pastors. It lets the pastors know who you are, and makes them responsible for you (see Acts 20:28; Heb. 13:17).
# For the sake of obedience to Jesus. Jesus did not give you the keys of the kingdom for binding and loosing. He gave the keys to the apostolic local church (Matt. 16:13-20; 18:15-20). You don’t have the authority to baptize yourself or feed yourself the Lord’s Supper. It requires a church to affirm your profession of faith, which is what membership is at its very heart (see Acts 2:38).
# For the sake of other believers. Joining makes you responsible for one local congregation, and they for you. You now own or have a share in their discipleship to Christ. That is, you are now responsible for their growth and professions of faith, insofar as you are responsible for the church’s faithful gospel preaching (Gal. 1) and that individual’s discipline (Matt. 18:15-20; 1 Cor. 5).
A couple of years ago there was a Japanese minister who caught the eye of mainstream media when he lamented on his behaviour of not accounting for public funds. He publicly wept and brought a press conference to an unprecedented pause. I keep wondering what happened to Mr Ryutoro Nonomura there after – was he being remorseful or was he repentant? So, whats the difference?
I came across this article from a blog from the yester years that tries to explain alittle more by going into a bible story….
And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly. (1 Kings 21:27)
Ahab was a wicked king, as anyone familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures will know. From the beginning of his reign until the end he defied the Lord God of Israel, in whose stead he reigned. Two verses earlier it is written: “But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.” (1 Kings 21:25)
After King Ahab took possession of the murdered Naboth’s vineyard, God sent Elijah to prophesy against him. Elijah told Ahab that Jezebel would be eaten by dogs, that he himself would have his blood licked up by dogs where Naboth had died, that God would cut off his posterity and all his descendants would have ignominious deaths. Upon hearing this, Ahab humbled himself before God by tearing his clothes, putting on sackcloth garments, fasting, and mourning.
How long all of this went on we are not told. We are told that God honored his self-humiliation and postponed the fulfillment of the prophecy until after Ahab’s death.
“I asked God for strength that I might achieve. I was made weak that I might learn to obey. I asked for health that I might do greater things. I was given infirmity that I might do better things. I asked for riches that I might be happy. I was given poverty that I might be wise. I asked for power that I might have the praise of men. …Read More!
Costi Hinn discusses when he started to see red flags growing up in the Prosperity Gospel movement. How did God open his eyes to the true gospel? Costi Hinn is the nephew of Benny Hinn, a prosperity televangelist. He has been saved out of the Prosperity Gospel and now embraces the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Read more of this post
Sangomas, Umthandazeli and Umprofethi are common names used in South Africa for the local go-betweens or witchdoctors that mere mortals need to approach so as to discern the will and favour of God.
In this episode, Blaque Nubon of The Gospel Coalition Africa(TGC Africa) digs deeper into the practice of witchcraft and use of these go-betweens and how ingrained it is in many churches in Africa. Saneliswe Jobodwana tells of her testimony and journey to grace and true freedom in Christ as she speaks about witchcraft in the church.
It’s coming to that time of the year and Christmas is in the air as they say. From movies to merchandising ads every one seems to have the same Christmas thought. Or do they? Say, your little ankle biters walk over to you and this year tell you they are not going to celebrate Christmas. What will you tell them are your reasons for celebrating or not? Here is a good link with resourceful answers…
The debate [reports Got Questions] about whether or not Christians should celebrate Christmas has been raging for centuries. There are equally sincere and committed Christians on both sides of the issue, each with multiple reasons why or why not Christmas should be celebrated in Christian homes. But what does the Bible say? Does the Bible give clear direction as to whether Christmas is a holiday to be celebrated by Christians?
First, let’s look at the reasons why some Christians do not celebrate Christmas. One argument against Christmas is that the traditions surrounding the holiday have origins in paganism.
At Christmas the time of the year when most people are setting up nativity scenes not many set up a bloodied cross or an empty tomb to celebrate the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ yet his birth goes hand in hand with his death. Only true Christians know the immense and infinite significance of Christ’s death…He came as a lamb of God to take away the sins of the world. He came to die!
Imagine Christ, the sin bearer, approaching that hour…the hour of his appointed death. Is that a “Christmasy” thought? You bet! It gets better when you understand the reason why his death was was necessary.
Horatius Bonar puts it this way…
The feelings of the trembling sinner, when awakened under the terrors of the divine law, and made alive to the hell of sin within him, may help to give us some faint idea of the way in which the burden of our sins pressed upon Christ. It is true He had no sin—not the shadow of sin upon Him, for He was the Holy One; yet He speaks always of our sins as if they were His own, as if He had committed them. He felt under them just as if they were His own. He was perfectly holy, yet so closely were our sins bound upon Him by God, that He felt the pressure just as if they were His own.
Being our substitute, God dealt with Him as such—as if the sins He bore had really been His, not ours. Being thus in the eye of the law identified with those whose sins He bore, He was made to feel what they would have been doomed to feel, had God left them to reap themselves the fruit of their own transgressions. This awful burden He bore alone. He had none to aid Him; none to relieve Him of any part of its overwhelming pressure. There was none that could assist Him. There was none to divide the burden with Him; nor to uphold Him under it. “My lovers and my friends stand aloof…and my kinsmen stand afar off.” They all forsook Him and fled. And, as He bare it alone, so He bare it fully. …Read More!
This is an old humorous clip. It features a Baptist Church singing about Christmas (Er, plus 12 Doctrines that their pastor taught them). The kids seem to learn an earful in one seating…Please, sing along! 🙂
“You wonder why people choose fields away from the States when young people at home are drifting because no one wants to take time to listen to their problems. Ill tell you why I left. Because those Stateside young people have every opportunity to study, hear, and understand the Word of God in their own language, and these Indians have no opportunity whatsoever. I have had to make a cross of two logs, and lie down on it, to show the Indians what it means to crucify a man. When there is that much ignorance over here and so much knowledge and opportunity over there, I have no question in my mind why God sent me here. Those whimpering Stateside young people will wake up on the Day of Judgment condemned to worse fates than these demon-fearing Indians, because, having a Bible, they were bored with it—while these never heard of such a thing as writing.” Jim Elliot
“‘Not called!’ did you say? ‘Not heard the call,’ I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father’s house and bid their brothers and sisters, and servants and masters not to come there. And then look Christ in the face, whose mercy you have professed to obey, and tell him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish his mercy to the world.” – William Booth
By the words “to save” we understand the whole of the great work of salvation, from the first holy desire onward to complete sanctification. The words are multum in parro: indeed, here is all mercy in one word. Christ is not only “mighty to save” those who repent, but He is able to make men repent. He will carry those to heaven who believe; but He is, moreover, mighty to give men new hearts and to work faith in them. He is mighty to make the man who hates holiness love it, and to constrain the despiser of His name to bend the knee before Him.
M and J were a missionary couple who were working in Uganda. (Story was first posted in Feb 2013) Every week they sent updates on their progress with evangelism in the community or the growth of the local church and new orphanage that they are setting up. Some times there were moments of deep heart ache (especially when the gospel was rejected) but nothing lightened up my heart with a good old laugh than this particular week’s ‘veggie tale’. Apparently not every thing that is green and leafy is lettuce:
The Mistake – (J writing) While at the trading center on Saturday, I saw two ladies sitting on the veranda of a little restaurant with bags of green leaves for sale. The leaves were a lovely shade of green, and I thought I should buy some of them and take them back for our orphan children to eat. I asked the ladies how much one bag would cost, and they replied, “It is seven hundred shillings.” That seemed a little high to me for greens so I went into the little restaurant and gave out some more tracts and asked the owner (who happened to be a lady that I knew quite well) how much a little bag should cost. She said that 700 shillings was the usual price. So I went back outside and started digging in my purse for the money. I was going to buy 7 bags to take home so there would be enough for all of the children to enjoy. As I was digging in my purse, the lady inside the restaurant called out, “Who are you buying that for?” I replied that I wanted to take it back for the children at home. “What children?” she asked. …Read More!
In nothing does Providence shine forth more gloriously in this world than in ordering the occasions, instruments and means of conversion of the people of God. However skillfully its hand had moulded your bodies, however tenderly it had preserved them and however bountifully it had provided for them; if it had not also ordered some means or other for your conversion, all the former favours and benefits it had done for you had meant little. This, O this, is the most excellent benefit you ever received from its hand. You are more indebted to it for this, than for all your other mercies. ~ John Flavel
Many 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!
In 2012 well, I went to Constance (Konstanz) in the South West corner of Germany to visit sites of historical importance to the Reformation. My plan was to of course visit the impeccable Constance munster (cathedral), John Huss (Jan Hus) museum and memorial stone. Or so I thought. As you may imagine the city of Constance always has its jaw dropping surprises and humorous detours. No wonder John Huss was short changed in that infamous Council of Constance by the Emperor Sigismund.
As I took in the nostalgic natural and ancient delights of this mesmerizing lake side University city guess who I stumbled upon again? Yup, that controversial Emperor Sigismund has had a statue of himself made. Well believe me it’s not a flattering one though. It is as controversial as it’s own colorful infamy.
Imagine walking down a peaceful foot path with park benches lining the sides of a clear lake harbor. A flower garden gives you a warm bear like hug from behind and thrusting you forward to catch the hue of the sun hidden behind the Spring time cloud line over the Lake Constance. There as you are intoxicated by the glory of the natural beauty of creation with no care in the world and just as you are about to take a nice cool sip of juice. There just before you can say “John Huss” There before you even can say “gesundheit”. There as you …Read More!
There is a video clip of a pastor who seems to be unleashing extra ordinary waves of powers into an emotionally charged congregation with a slight swing of a finger and a swerve of an arm. In some circles such a man is given the almighty title ‘mighty man of God’ placing him above any pastor in the land and becomes the linch pin for any ‘revival service’. For it is then believed that he has reached a higher echelon of power. The preacher’s worthiness becomes the virtue on to which the congregation clings to so as to per chance swing the pendulum of fate and fortune in their own lives.
Such preachers are suave and charismatic and very winsome and convincing in their trade. Once they have amassed a sizeable congregation, they sneakily put their bibles far aside as they go to great lengths to mesmerise and entertain. But once they make you their convert you become seven times worse emotionally, financially and spiritually – you sadly become more faithful and dependant on them for answers to your prayers than to God.
Martin Luther once said on prayer that:
Some say, “I would feel better about God hearing my prayer if I were more worthy and lived a better life.” I simply answer: If you don’t want to pray before you feel that you are worthy or qualified, then you will never pray again. Prayer must not be based on or depend on your personal worthiness or the quality of the prayer itself; rather, it must be based on the unchanging truth of God’s promise. If the prayer is based on itself or on anything else besides God’s promise, then it’s a false prayer that deceives you—even if your heart is breaking with intense devotion and you are weeping drops of blood.
We pray because we are unworthy to pray. Our prayers are heard precisely because we believe that we are unworthy. We become worthy to pray when we risk everything on God’s faithfulness alone.
So go ahead and feel unworthy. But know in your heart that it’s a thousand times more important to honor God’s truthfulness.
Oh how the words of some hymns just linger in the recesses of your mind and nourish you with rich spiritual truths. Today I will feature the first two verses and the last verse of William Cowper’s hymn ‘There is a fountain filled with blood’
There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains…
The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day;
And there may I, though vile as he,
Wash all my sins away… …Read More!
Why do so-called Christians forsake the pure wine of Gospel joy for the adulterated poison which the whore of the world smilingly holds out to them in her golden chalice? Is it because the message of the Gospel, which once sparkled in the preached Word, and furnished comfort to mourners, has now gone stale? Or has that stream of spiritual joy which has run through the lives of saints for so many generations, without mingling with the world’s polluted pleasures, at last fallen into them and lost its divine nature? No, the Gospel stays the same. . . and the joy it brings is as refreshing and restoring as it has always been. It will be lovely as long as God and Christ continue to be life, for it flows and is fed from their heart.
The problem is not in the Scripture; it lies in those who say they hold to it. Those who insist that they obey this Gospel are not like holy men and women of earlier times. The world has grown callous, and men’s priorities and affections have chilled and become cold. Our palate is no longer chaste; it no longer prefers the heavenly foods served in the Gospel. The cheer is as lively as ever but the guests are as deadened by constant contact with the world. We have grown debauched in our judgments and corrupt in our principles; no wonder that our joys are carnal.
Error is a whore that lures the heart away from Christ and His spiritual joys. Once the mind is confused by error and begins to malign the truth, it affects the heart, poisoning it with carnal joys. Here, then, is the root of the misery of our times. ..Read More!
Look around in the world, and you may see some in every place who are objects of pity, bereaved by sad accidents of all the comforts of life, while in the meantime Providence has tenderly preserved you .- John Flavel
Psa 138:8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.
Ecc 3:14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him.
Isa 46:4 even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.
Jer 32:40 I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.
Rom 11:29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
Phi 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
2Ti 4:18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safety into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. Of all whom he has called and brought to Christ, none will be lost
Joh 6:39-40 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
Joh 10:27-29 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
Rom 8:28-31 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? …Read More!
A remarkable sinner who became a remarkable convert, was an extraordinarily gifted man and fearless street preacher in the Edinburgh of the mid-1800’s. It is said Robert Flockhart (1778-1857) had sinned much, but he had been forgiven much, and so he loved much. Where Robert in Satan’s service had often exposed himself to disgrace, danger, and death itself, but after his conversion, “… If there had been need for it, I believe there was no man in Edinburgh who would have gone to the stake or scaffold for Jesus Christ with a firmer step or nobler bearing than this brave old soldier of the cross.”
Flockhart was converted in India, while a soldier, he became a fearless as a street preacher – often in the face of unruly crowds. In a tribute to Robert Flockhart, Charles Spurgeon said:
I must linger a moment over Robert Flockhart, of Edinburgh, who, though a lesser light, was a constant one, and a fit example to the bulk of Christ’s street witnesses. Every evening, in all weathers and amid many persecutions, did this brave man continue to speak in the street for forty-three years. Think of that, and never be discouraged. When he was tottering to the grave the old soldier was still at his post. “Compassion to the souls of men drove me,” said he, “to the streets and lanes of my native city, to plead with sinners and persuade them to come to Jesus. The love of Christ constrained me.”
Neither the hostility of the police, nor the insults of Papists, Unitarians, and the like could move him; he rebuked error in the plainest terms, and preached salvation by grace with all his might. So lately has he passed away that Edinburgh remembers him still. There is room for such in all our cities and towns, and need for hundreds of his noble order in this huge nation of London—can I call it less?
Many missionaries learn of God’s wonderful providence in times of difficulty and more so in financial difficulty. David Sitton shares in his free book on how to pray and support missionaries Warfare Prayer:
Financial anxiety increases with the sudden drop of support. Every missionary has gotten the “Dear John” letter explaining why support is being discontinued. One such letter I received had a final check and a hand scribbled note explaining that it was no longer financially feasible to invest in the ministry, as the parking lot of the church building needed re-paving.
My missionary mentor, Joe Cannon, encouraged us during tough financial times by saying: “Check and see if the sparrows have eaten today. As long as they eat, we eat. When God quits feeding the sparrows, missionaries will become extinct.” How true that is. Yet, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Dependence upon God and his daily provision is a wonderful way to live. ~David Sitton
Luke 12:6-7: Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
“Christ can soften hearts which seem as hard as the millstone. He can bend stubborn wills which have long been set on self-pleasing, sin and the world. He can create, transform, renew, break down, build and quicken with irresistible power. There are no incurable cases with Christ. Let us never despair about the salvation of others for as long as we live. Let us name them before the Lord day and night and cry to Him on their behalf.” J.C. Ryle
Is the truth that which I imagine to be revealed to me by some private communication? Am I to fancy that I enjoy some special Revelation and am I to order my life by voices, dreams and impressions? Brothers and Sisters, fall not into this common delusion! God’s Word to us is in Holy Scripture. All the Truth that sanctifies men is in God’s Word! Do not listen to those who cry, “Lo here!” and, “Lo there!” I am plucked by the sleeve almost every day by crazy persons and pretenders who think that they have Revelations from God. One man tells me that God has sent a message to me by him—and I reply, “No, Sir, the Lord knows where I dwell and He is so near to me that He would not need to send to me by you.” Another man announces, in God’s name, a dogma which, on the face of it, is a lie against the Holy Spirit. He says the Spirit of God told him so-and-so, but we know that the Holy Spirit never contradicts Himself. If your imaginary Revelation is not according to this Word of God, it has no weight with us! And if it is according to this Word, it is no new thing! …Read More!
God brings different seasons in our lives to teach us different lessons. There are times of joy, plentifulness and happiness and there are also times of difficulty and trials where our most immediate cry is almost”Lord, how long?”
This is an excerpt from an article of a man who learnt of the comfort that only comes from the God of all comfort when he and his family went through a very tough time:
I had known throughout my ministry, of course, that God comforts His own. I had taught about the ministry of the Holy Spirit, our paraclete, who was sent by Christ to help us. And I had seen that the reading of the Bible brings solace to sorrowing hearts and peace to those in great turmoil.
But now my wife and I are experiencing God’s comfort for ourselves. In the months since Elsie’s stroke, we have known daily the comfort of the Savior, the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the precious Word of God…
The faith of the Christian should grow stronger in times of trial and trouble. Trials have a way of digging up the soil of our hearts and turning up weeds. That is good for us, for it is not in the sunshine but in the storm that we discover the depth of our need. Someone has said, Great soldiers are not made in the barracks nor on the parade ground, but on the battlefield where the going is tough.
Trials provide opportunities for us to get to know God better. In his epistle to the Colossians, Paul assured the Christians that he was praying for them on a regular basis. Included in the list of things for which he prayed was the request that they might be increasing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:10). Paul knew that one of the secrets to a full and blessed life is getting to know God better.
Here are seven of Jim’s fifteen tips for starting well as a pastor:
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.
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.
If God is for us, who can be against us?
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!
It’s the 21st century now and it’s been awhile since we heard of nation wide outpourings of a sense of conviction over sin and a turning to the Lord in revival. It almost feels like no body prays for revival any more.
Speaking of which I recently went to Wales. Yes … the land of the Welsh revival of 1904! Oh yes again… I also had an opportunity to visit a church with an interesting historical root – the church at Blaenannerch. It’s pronounced differently by the Welsh and markedly differently by the English – Pahaha. Please just don’t ask me to explain.
Well, it is quite sobering what happened in that year in Wales. Listen to this account…
Thousands of people were saved. Public houses became almost empty. Men and women who used to waste their money getting drunk were now saving it and giving it to the church. They were using their money to buy clothes and food for their families.
Stealing and other offences became less and less. Often a magistrate came to court and found that there were no cases for him to try.
Men who blasphemed learned to talk purely. The miners put in a better day’s work but the pit ponies could not understand what had happened to the miners as they spoke to them more kindly. They were so used to being sworn at that they became disobedient!
People who had been careless about paying their bills or paying back money they had borrowed gave back all they owed.
David Livingstone gave his life to serve Christ in the exploration of Africa for the sake of the access of the gospel.
Here is what Livingstone said to the Cambridge students about his “leaving” the benefits of England:
For my own part, I have never ceased to rejoice that God has appointed me to such an office. People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. . . . Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? …Read More!
Some one once said George Whitefield preached a pure gospel, a powerful gospel and a passionate gospel. He was a man of deep prayer, tremendous spiritual fortitude with a burdened heart, burning lips and brimming eyes. A contemporary of Jonathan Edwards and John Wesley, he was an English Anglican preacher who spent most of his life spreading the gospel by preaching in open air and was one of the major instruments of God used in the Great Awakening in Britain and the United States.
He drew great crowds when he preached to people from all walks of life. From a lordly chamber heavy with the pungent aroma of costly perfumes, Whitefield would race off to a street meeting. Catch his joy as he says, “There I was honored with having stones, dirt, rotten eggs, and pieces of dead cats thrown at me.”
“Fathers and mothers are the most natural agents for God to use in the salvation of their children. I am sure that, in my early youth, no teaching ever made such an impression upon my mind as the instruction of my mother. Neither can I conceive that, to any child, there can be one who will have such influence over the young heart as the mother who has so tenderly cared for her offspring. A man with a soul so dead as not to be moved by the sacred name of ‘mother’ is creation’s blot. Never could it be possible for any man to estimate what he owes to a godly mother. Certainly I have not the powers of speech with which to set forth my valuation of the choice blessing which the Lord bestowed on me in making me the son of one who prayed for me, and prayed with me. How can I ever forget her tearful eye when she warned me to escape the wrath to come? Read more of this post
On the battlefield, not far from the line of attack, Mr. Ulrich Zwingli lay under the dead and wounded. While men were looting . . . he was still alive, lying on his back, with his hands together as if he was praying, and his eyes looking upwards to heaven. So some approached who did not know him and asked him, since he was so weak and close to death (for he had fallen in combat and was stricken with a mortal wound), whether a priest should be fetched to hear his confession. …Read More!
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!
When 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.
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.
Do 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!
Ah, 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.
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.