A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

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Tag Archives: god

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

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“A village church with a village God”

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Quoting John Stott:

“I remember some years ago visiting a church incognito. I sat in the back row. I wonder who’s in the back row tonight.

You know they often slip in there incognito. I’m not going to tell you the church. You won’t be able to identify it; it’s thousands of miles away from here.

When we came to the pastoral prayer, it was led by a lay brother, because the pastor was on holiday. So he prayed that the pastor might have a good holiday. Well, that’s fine. Pastors should have good holidays.

…Read More!

William Booth on Missions

“‘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

 

The danger of adding to the finished work of Christ

“How dangerous and dishonourable a thing is it, to pin any thing of our own, to the righteousness of Christ, in point of Justification before God. Jesus Christ will never endure this. It reflects upon his work dishonourably…Not I, and my God. I, and my Christ did this: He will be all, or none in your Justification. If he have finished the work, what need of our additions? And if not, to what purpose are they? Can we finish that which Christ himself could not? But we would fain be sharing with him in this honour, which he will never endure. Did he finish the work by himself, and will he ever divide the glory and praise of it with us? No, no, Christ is no half Saviour. O it’s an hard thing to bring these proud hearts to live upon Christ for righteousness. We would fain add our penny to make up Christ’s sum. But if you will have it so, or have nothing to do with Christ, you and your penny must perish together. God gives us the Righteousness of Christ, as he gave Manna to the Israelites in the Wilderness. It’s said, Deut. 8:16, that he fed them with Manna in the wilderness, that he might humble them. The quality of the Food was not humbling, for it was Angels Food; but the manner of giving it was so. They must live by faith upon God for it, from day to day. This was not like other Food, produced by their own labour. Certainly God takes the right way to humble proud Nature, in calling sinners wholly off from their own Righteousness, to Christ for their Justification.” – John Flavel (1628 -1691)

 

St. Augustine on the gift of faith

Why the Gift of Faith is Not Given to All…Faith, then, as well in its beginning as in its completion, is God’s gift; and let no one have any doubt whatever, unless he desires to resist the plainest sacred writings, that this gift is given to some, while to some it is not given. But why it is not given to all ought not to disturb the believer, who believes that from one (Adam) all have gone into a condemnation, which undoubtedly is most righteous; so that even if none were delivered therefrom, there would be no just cause for finding fault with God. Whence it is plain that it is a great grace for many to be delivered, and to acknowledge in those that are not delivered what would be due to themselves; so that he that glorieth may glory not in his own merits, which he sees to be equalled in those that are condemned, but in the Lord. But why He delivers one rather than another,-” His judgments are unsearchable, and His ways past finding out –St. Augustine of Hippo

 

What God begins, he finishes…

On the perseverance of the saints…

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!

Preaching as never sure to preach again…as a dying man to dying men

saving drowning manOn the office of a preacher…

“The preacher must be a serious man; he must never give the impression that preaching is something light or superficial or trivial….What is happening [in the act of preaching] is that he is speaking to them from God, he is speaking to them about God, he is speaking about their condition, the state of their souls. He is telling them that they are, by nature, under the wrath of God…that the character of the life they’re living is offensive to God and under the judgment of God, and warning them of the dreaded eternal possibility that lies ahead of them. …Read More!

A night of Hope? But why?

night of hopeEver watched a mime perform and wished that he would clearly articulate the message he is dying to bring across? The audience a mime has will interprete his gesticulations with a degree of error because most of it is shrouded. But if he speaks and articulates his message, then the listeners are illumined. They are then not in any doubt of the original intention of the message bearer. A good message bearer delivers what he is entrusted with, without subtracting or altering it and leaves his audience with the intended message so that they are without any excuse. This is probably why miming (though is truly entertaining) falls short in many ways in delivering the Gospel message (which requires the hearers to know the name and person of Jesus Christ). Speaking of incomplete messages there’s one other thing….(ha ha look what I just did there!)

There are many conferences going on around us that supposedly are ‘bringing hope’ to the world or ‘happiness’ to the community. These in themselves are not bad but if it comes in the name of ‘Jesus’ then it has got to be clear in it’s intended message. Hope – why does the world need hope? …Read More!

Let angel minds inquire no more…

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It’s a divine mystery and it may well continue as such why the darling of Heaven humbled himself and took on the form of man and took on himself the shame of death (even death on a cursed cross) and endured the wrath of God therein for a worm like me. It begs me to ask who can explore His strange design? Charles Wesley’s Hymn probably captures this notion very well…

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me? …Read More!

Children are so Impressionable… and vulnerable!

Children believe all things. They trust everybody. They yearn to learn the difference between right and wrong. The greatest beginning point of knowledge is when you introduce the fear of God to them. For the Bible says that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Sadly children of our times many times fall into the wrong hands and they cascade into a life of utter and total hopelessness. We live at a very precarious time when even most education systems and government programmes (and may I add even lukewarm churches) are allowing questionable material to be served up to toddlers as ‘acceptable’ fodder. Kids are impressionableTo those who sow wickedness and call ‘bad’ good and  good ‘bad’ I urge you to remember the words of Jesus:

“If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.- Matthew 18:6”

Why do I have the feeling that our social moral fabric is not only fundamentally eroded but will get worse?

Who Hardened Pharoah’s Heart?

One good question when you read the account of Pharaoh and the Israelites is the question who hardened his heart? Did he harden his heart towards God or did God harden his heart?

pharaohs-heartExodus 7:3-4 says, “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my people the Israelites.” It seems unjust for God to harden Pharaoh’s heart and then to punish Pharaoh and Egypt for what Pharaoh decided when his heart was hardened. Why would God harden Pharaoh’s heart just so He could judge Egypt more severely with additional plagues?
First, Pharaoh was not an innocent or godly man. He was a brutal dictator overseeing the terrible abuse and oppression of the Israelites, who likely numbered over 1.5 million people at that time. The Egyptian pharaohs had enslaved the Israelites for 400 years. A previous pharaoh—possibly even the pharaoh in question—ordered that male Israelite babies be killed at birth (Exodus 1:16). The pharaoh God hardened was an evil man, and the nation he ruled agreed with, or at least did not oppose, his evil actions.

Second, before the first few plagues, Pharaoh hardened his own heart against letting the Israelites go.

…Read More!

5 Distinctives of the ‘Reformed’ Faith…

5836-reformation-wall-geneva-four-genevan-reformersA series of five messages by Tom Chantry on the definition of ‘Reformed’. The subjects are neither the Five Points nor the Five Solas. Rather, they define the word ‘Reformed’ in five distinct but complementary ways. We examine the Reformed Perspective on the Bible, on History, on Salvation, on the church, and on the Christian life.

1) Scripturally Reformed– A Reformed perspective of Scripture: Reformed Christians stand with other Evangelicals in affirming the inspiration, infallibility and inerancy of the Bible. We go further, though, in defending both the clarity and the sufficiency of Scripture. These convictions determine our approach to the Bible – the manner in which we study, interpret, and teach its truths. A church which believes in the sufficiency of Scripture will emphasize the ministry of preaching, and the Bible will be central to everything it does. [Download Here]

2) Confessionally Reformed – A Reformed perspective of History: Scripture teaches us certain things about the history of mankind which should impact the manner in which we look at all of history, including the history of the church. Being convinced that sinful men have not changed, we understand that the problems of each age are not really new.

…Read More!

How to Open Air Preach.

HT Chad Williams (Seal of God)

open air

The Unhappy ‘successful’ but Petulant Evangelist.

On the Book of Jonah:

jonahIf this book had ended at the last verse of chapter 3, history would have portrayed Jonah as the greatest of the prophets. After all, preaching one message that motivated thousands of people to repent and turn to God was no mean accomplishment. But the Lord doesn’t look on the outward things; He looks at the heart (1 Sam. 16:7) and weighs the motives (1 Cor.4:5). That’s why chapter 4 was included in the book,for it reveals “the thoughts and intents” of Johah’s heart and exposes his sins.

If in chapter 1 Jonah is like the Prodigal Son, insisting on doing his own thing and going his own way(Luke 15:1132); then in chapter 4, he’s like the Prodigal’s elder brother–critical, selfish, sullen, angry,and unhappy with what was going on. It isn’t enough for God’s servants simply to do their Master’s will; they must do “the will of God from the heart” (Eph. 6:6). The heart of every problem is the problem in the heart,and that’s where Jonah’s problems were to be found.”But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry” (Jonah 4:1)…

For the second time in this account, Jonah prayed, but his second prayer was much different in content and intent. He prayed his best prayer in the worst place, the fish’s belly, and he prayed his worst prayer in the best place, at Nineveh where God was working. His first prayer came from a broken heart, but his second prayer came from an angry heart. In his first prayer, he asked God to save him, but in his second prayer, he asked God to take his life! Once again, Jonah would rather die than not have his own way.

This petulant prayer lets us in on the secret of why Jonah tried to run away in the first place. Being a good theologian, Jonah knew the attributes of God, that He was “a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity” (Jonah 4 v. 2 niv).

Excerpt from The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: The Old Testament.

Lost your zeal for evangelism already?

I came across an interesting website off the beaten track. It has a few useful links to help you if you have lost your zeal for evangelism. Mark Edward Sohmer has a couple of helpful notes:

200441325-001I am a member of Fellowship Bible Church in Chester, NH. In 2006, I was given the privilege and honor to lead an Evangelism class from The Way of the Master ministry. The class is called the Basic Training Course. You can learn more about this class at: http://www.wayofthemaster.com/btc/. I am making available my notes and other files that may be valuable here, so that anyone can download them. My prayer is that Christians will be edified and equipped to fulfill our purpose: to be used by God to seek and save that which is lost.

More info here from his website.

John Flavel on the sweetness of Providence…

african hipposIn 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

 

John Owen on repentance and what God requires….

john_owenPreachers of the gospel and others have sufficient warrant to press upon all men the duties of faith, repentance, and obedience, although they know that in themselves they have not a sufficiency of ability for their due performance; for, it is the will and command of God that so they should do, and that is the rule of all our duties. They are not to consider what man can do or will do, but what God requires. ~John Owen

 

The Story of Victor: Learning the Sovereignty of God from a 14 year old boy.

Victor Manuel Watter’s Testimony:[This story was first posted on this blog in January 2012] I was born in a non-Christian family. I don’t think we ever went to church. And I didn’t ever think about where I would go if I died. God changed me probably a little differently from most people. He changed me through cancer. I was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma in December of 2006. They found out I had cancer because I had a seizure. The tumor in my hip got so big that it had shut down some of my organs…

I was moved into foster care because both of my parents were making bad decisions.

Read more of this post

Rob Bell is back to tell teens that “Christian beliefs about hell are Toxic”!

If any one ever told you that false teachers are always nasty looking and carry placards – they are very wrong. No, you see false teachers  are actually suave, have sleek smiles (with well packaged video promos) and they are very affirming. They always give you positive vibes and have programs that appeal to your emotions so that you can give them an inch. Speaking of some one inching closer, do you remember that smooth talking Universalist ‘pastor’ called Rob Bell (in whose church a bewildered muslim was invited to partake of the Communion table) and who said that there is no Hell and every one will go to Heaven? Well, Rob is back (big sigh) and this time he wants your teens…..

rob bellAuthor and speaker Rob Bell is set to release a teen version of his book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived nationwide next month.

In a promotional video created for Love Wins: For Teens, Bell explains that the book is designed to teach youth that God is the life of the party, rather than the one that spoils everyone’s fun.

“What do you believe about God?” he begins. “Is God somewhere on a cloud with a long beard, making a list of no’s?”

“For a lot of people, when you mention God, the first thing they think of is, ‘Oh yeah, God shuts the party down,’” Bell continues. “But when Jesus talked about faith, when Jesus talked about God, one of the dominant images He uses again and again is that of a party.” …Read More!

William Carey and True Joy.

william careyWilliam Carey, the father of modern world missions, was born into a poor family in Northampton, England in 1761. He had no formal education but taught himself to read and write and mastered Latin by the age of twelve. He began his trade in his early teens as a shoemaker and was born again at eighteen. He soon began to preach in his spare time and quickly became fluent in New Testament Greek, Old Testament Hebrew, Dutch, and French.
He married Dorothy Plackett when he was twenty years old. William and Dorothy could not have been more different. She was six years older than he and illiterate, signing her name with an X. By his late twenties Carey was a Calvinistic Baptist preacher with a growing burden to reach the ‘heathen’. When at a pastoral meeting one day he spoke of his passion, an older minister said, ‘My dear Carey, when God wishes to save the heathen, He will do it without you.’ That, however, could not dampen his earnest desire to take the gospel to the nations. When he wrote a lengthy paper with a lengthy title — An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of Heathen in Which the Religious State of the Different Nations of the World, the Success of Former Undertakings, and the Practical Ability of Further Undertakings Are Considered — those in attendance listened politely and then went on to other business. At the end of the meeting, however, William asked, ‘Is there nothing going to be done again?’ From this a motion was passed to study the matter further. Only after a few months did anyone take up the issue. …Read More!

Deborah no longer 13 years: Still Servant of God by God’s Grace.

A couple of years ago (in 2009) the BBC featured  an interesting documentary about a 13-year-old Christian girl. Deborah Drapper, who, unlike other British teens had never heard of and wasn’t interested in Britney Spears or Victoria Beckham (gasp!). She had been brought up in a deeply Christian home schooling  family and her parents had tried to make sure she and her ten brothers and sisters grew up with a Biblical world view. For those who didn’t watch the original video here it is: 

I was glad to read an update from Deborah the other day. She is still a servant of God by the grace of God. In her own words …Read More!

Some times pressing for ‘decisions’ may intrude into the province of the Holy spirit

“All devices for exerting psychological pressure in order to precipitate ‘decisions’ must be eschewed, as being in truth presumptuous attempts to intrude into the province of the Holy Ghost. Such pressures may even be harmful for while they may produce the outward form of ‘decision,’ they cannot bring about regeneration and a change of heart, and when the ‘decisions’ wear off those who registered them will be found ‘gospel-hardened’ and antagonistic.” -A Quest for Godliness, JI Packer Comments

A day at the cemetery and burial place of the ‘vilest’ woman -ANN FREEMAN!

The other day my wife and kids came across a peculiar head stone. Some other kids who were around got spooked and thought it was the burial place of some witch. I got interested and decided to go and look for this unusual head stone. I have had to wait a couple of days for the snow to settle down and climb up the hill -and go exploring Pitsea Mount.

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This family head stone is found on Pitsea Mount in Basildon just a yard or so behind St. Michael’s church tower. St. Michael’s church was built in the 13th century  but later fell into ruin and only the church tower remains to this day. The inscription reads:

ANN FREEMAN

Born: 30th March 1837

Died: 20th March 1879

HERE LIES A WEAK AND SINFUL WORM

THE VILEST OF HER RACE.

SAVED THROUGH GOD’S ELECTING LOVE,

HIS FREE AND SOVEREIGN GRACE

Apparently this inscription has intrigued people over the years. …Read More!

Does God always heal?

First Peter 2:24 says of Christ, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”
One of the primary rules of biblical interpretation which must never be violated is context. What is the context in 1 Peter 2? Answer: salvation. There is no way to interpret it in any other sense. The verse is talking about Jesus on the cross dying for us, enduring punishment and bearing our sins, thereby providing salvation for us.
When certain people get hold of this passage, however, they change the context from salvation to physical healing. Every time such people see the word “heal” in the Bible they assume it refers to the miracle of divine healing for the physical body, regardless of whether the context indicates otherwise. …Read More!

J.C Ryle on Human Nature’s Mournful Picture When Christ was Born

Quoting J.C Ryle on Matt 1:2-4

…it is not always those who have most religious privileges, who give Christ most honor. We might have thought that the Scribes and Pharisees would have been the first to hasten to Bethlehem, on the lightest rumor that the Savior was born. But it was not so. A few unknown strangers from a distant land were the first, except the shepherds mentioned by Luke, to rejoice at His birth. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” What a mournful picture this is of human nature! How often the same kind of thing may be seen among ourselves! How often the very people who live nearest to the means of grace are those who neglect them most!

HT Reformed Quotes.

 

They Shall Beat Their Swords into Plowshares…(and) Learn War No More.

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Seeing the violence and wickedness on earth today, The Heidelberg Catechism asks a pertinent set of questions. Did God, then, create man so wicked and perverse? Whence, then comes this depraved nature of man?
Over the entrance of the United Nations building in New York there is an inscription taken from the second chapter of the Book of Isaiah that reads:

And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. -Isaiah

Will such a world be achieved by the UN? Well, that is another question for you to ponder. The UN was formed as a deterrent Council so that man in his depravity would not indulge in another all out house clearance like he did in 1914 and 1939. I am actually surprised that it took that long to descend into such a global war. I am equally amazed that God was gracious enough allow the human experiment to continue there after. Enough about the UN.
To understand where man is, one has got to begin by reading the Scriptural narrative in Genesis. The Catechism enlightens the Christian that God created man good, and after His own image (true in righteousness and holiness) that he may rightly know, love and live with his Creator and glorify Him. However from the fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve became so corrupt in nature that we all his descendants are conceived and born in sin.
Should we believe then that we are so corrupt and inclined to evil (that if left to our own folly would rather learn war and make swords and spears) and are wholly incapable of doing any moral good?
Sadly, yes! Unless we are regenerated by the Spirit of God says the Bible (not me) and that in it’s self is by grace alone lest any man should boast.
(Scripture readings: Genesis 3:1-5:3; Psalm 14; Romans 1: 18-32)

 

The Clown in the Pulpit.

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How little must the presence of God be felt in that place, where the high functions of the pulpit are degraded into a stipulated exchange of entertainment, on the one side, and of admiration, on the other! and surely it were a sight to make angels weep, when a weak and vapouring mortal, surrounded by his fellow-sinners, and hastening to the grave and the judgment along with them, finds it a dearer object to his bosom, to regale his hearers by the exhibition of himself, than to do, in plain earnest the work of his Master, and urge on the business of repentance and of faith, by the impressive simplicities of the gospel.-Thomas Chalmers

HT Jeremy Walker

Confessing our sins to God….

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT: A woman brought her dirty laundry to the river, she was so ashamed of her dirty clothes, that she didn’t want to take them out of the basket in the presence of other women. So she dipped the entire basket of clothes in to the water several times and then took them back home. Sometimes that’s the way we confess our sins. We admit them to God very quickly and in one big bundle. We are not honest with God, or the people around us.

HT De Encourager via FB.

Yes, I was “Born this Way” too.

 

[This post was first published in March 2012] Yes, we have heard the chuckle by some vocal ones, “I was born this way”. Jim rightly adds

Except the ‘this way’ referred to has nothing to do with sexual orientation or anything of the kind.  It has to do with the fact that all of us are born totally depraved and that we remain intractably so until and unless the grace of God in Christ aids us to betterment.

As D. Martyn Loyd-Jones puts it

[What does the phrase ‘total depravity’ mean?  It means that ]… man in his fallen condition has an inherently corrupt nature, and the corruption extends through every part of his being, to every faculty of his soul and body. It also means that there is no (observe the adjective) spiritual good in him. Yes, there is plenty of natural good, there is natural morality, he can recognise virtue and so on. But there is no spiritual good whatsoever. That is what it means.

Yup, you were (and so are we all), ‘born this way’. Dead in sin, spiritually bankrupt …Read More!

Calvin Unleashed!

Every one of us is, even from his mother’s womb, a master craftsman of idols. ~John Calvin

London Olympics: We all got what we wanted!

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The opening ceremony of the Olympics in every host nation always tells the story of … whatever! The Summer 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony celebrations were whatever you wanted to make of them. That may sound post modern but look, we all got what ever we wanted. Didn’t we? Booms, blasts and Bond! Oh yes, we even saw Her Majesty become a Bond girl. There was a high speed river chase in a super boat. An adrenaline pumping helicopter dash with a heroine leaping into a gaping hole of pyrotechnics. Industrial action (pun intended)! Health care service was given a make over. Ancient pagan worship and modern dance entertained us with one titillating love story. Or so we thought. Even the conspiracy theorists got enough fodder when they saw Illuminati pyramids surround the arena. How about the Christians? Well there was the Christian hymn “Abide in me” to keep conservatives happy. It was a vague after-note some still say after it was edited out by American media. The bigger story was to be a diverse celebration of Life, humanity and death.
Speaking of which do we ever think of life here after? Maybe the answer was hidden in the tallest animated symbol of all in the Olympics stadium. Do you mean the hideously monstrous “death” effigy?

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What is the “Second Blessing” and is it Biblical?

So a new believer who has just come to faith in Christ comes to you. Do you spur him to holiness or do you tell him well there is still a second grace and a “Second Blessing” after conversion that he should seek after? (The Charismatic Movement actually believe there is a “Third Blessing“). The questions on a “Second Blessing” etc are common among many Evangelicals. I prefer to search the scriptures to determine if these teachings are true. I came across this admonition from J.C Ryle and I think I agree with him:

That there is a vast difference between one degree of grace and another–that spiritual life admits of growth, and that believers should be continually urged on every account to grow in grace–all this I fully concede. But the theory of a sudden, mysterious transition of a believer into a state of blessedness and entire consecration, at one mighty bound, I cannot receive. It appears to me to be a man made invention; and I do not see a single plain text to prove it in Scripture. Gradual growth in grace, growth in knowledge, growth in faith, growth in love, growth in holiness, growth in humility, growth in spiritual-mindedness–all this I see clearly taught and urged in Scripture, and clearly exemplified in the lives of many of God’s saints. But sudden, instantaneous leaps from conversion to consecration I fail to see in the Bible. …Read More!

Calvin on God’s Providence.

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Today I was reading on God’s providence. Here is something I would like to share…

God arms the devil, as well as all the wicked, for conflict, and sits as umpire, that he may exercise our patience. But if the disasters and miseries which press us happen without the agency of men, let us call to mind the doctrine of the Law (Deut. 28:1), that all prosperity has its source in the blessing of God, that all adversity is his curse. And let us tremble at the dreadful denunciation, “And if ye will not be reformed by these things, but will walk contrary unto me; then will I also walk contrary unto you,” (Lev. 26:23, 24). These words condemn our torpor, when, according to our carnal sense, deeming that whatever happens in any way is fortuitous, we are neither animated by the kindness of God to worship him, nor by his scourge stimulated to repentance. And it is for this reason that Jeremiah (Lament. 3:38), and Amos (Amos 3:6), expostulated bitterly with the Jews, for not believing that good as well as evil was produced by the command of God. To the same effect are the words in Isaiah, “I form the light and create darkness: I make peace and create evil. I the Lord do all these things,” (Is. 45:7). Institutes 1.17.8

HT: Jim West

New generation of snake handling christians take to Facebook to say, “Come join us please!”

Recently there’s been a drastic decline in the numbers of snake handling pastors. Don’t guess why. The theology has been profoundly hermeneutically dodgy and even savvy pagans are out doing them in their fancy snake charming gimmicks. However in a renewed bid to show off to the rest of the world and to other lesser endowed Christians the snake handling fundamentalists are out again to drum up support and to underline the difference between the “haves” and the “have nots”. You see…

NASHVILLE – Hamblin, 21, pastor of Tabernacle Church of God in LaFollette, Tenn., is part of a new generation of serpent-handling Christians who are revitalizing a century-old faith tradition in Tennessee.

While older serpent handlers were wary of outsiders, these younger believers welcome visitors and use Facebook to promote their often misunderstood — and illegal — version of Christianity. They want to show the beauty and power of their extreme form of spirituality. And they hope eventually to reverse a state ban on handling snakes in church.

Since the early 1900s, a handful of true believers in Eastern Tennessee and other parts of Appalachia have practiced the so-called signs of the gospel, found in a little-known passage in the King James Version of the Gospel of Mark:

“And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”

While other churches ignore this passage or treat it metaphorically, serpent handlers follow it literally. Their intense faith demands sinless living and rewards them with spiritual ecstasy — the chance to hold life and death in their hands.

It began with a tingling

Brother Micah Golden felt it first while standing in the parking lot with other worshipers, waiting for church to start during a three-day revival in early May. It began with a tingling in his hands that spread over his body. Then he began to moan and pray. …Read More!

Woman gets “tired of waiting” and marries herself.

If we define morality and the institution of marriage by our own human standards we are bound to open the flood gates for even the wackiest of ideas. No, I am not kidding. If we eliminate God’s standard of morality we soon find ourselves with situations like this one.

A woman who grew impatient with waiting for Mr. Right has found a solution: she’s married herself.

36-year-old single mother Nadine Schweigert stood in front of 40 family members and friends as she took part in a ‘commitment ceremony,’ swapping rings with her ‘inner groom.’

Schweigert, from Fargo, North Dakota, even read vows at the wedding, promising that:

“I, Nadine, promise to enjoy inhabiting my own life and to relish a lifelong love affair with my beautiful self.”

News of her solo wedding got passed around, and within days Schweigert found herself speaking to Anderson Cooper about her motives for marrying herself. …Read More!

Ten reasons why the Charismatic church needs a Reformation.

J. Lee Grady is a clear thinking Charismatic and also the contributing editor of Charisma. Having grown increasingly aware that the so-called “Spirit-filled” churches of today struggle with many of the same things the Catholic church faced in the 1500s, he says he is going to (just like Luther and the Wittenberg door) he is going to nail down his theses on the Charismatic church door. We (says Lee) don’t have “indulgences”—we have telethons. We don’t have popes—we have super-apostles. We don’t support an untouchable priesthood—we throw our money at celebrity evangelists who own fleets of private jets. Further more he laments that its past time for a Charismatic Reformation (this article was first published 26th October 2011 in honor of Reformation Day):

1. Let’s reform our theology. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He is God and He is holy. He is not an “it.” He is not a blob, a force, or an innate power. We must stop manipulating Him, commanding Him and throwing Him around.

2.  Let’s return to the Bible. The Word of God is the foundation for the Christian experience. Any dramatic experience, no matter how spiritual it seems, must be tested by the Word and the Holy Spirit’s discernment. Visions, dreams, prophecies and encounters with angels must be in line with Scripture. If we don’t test them we could end up spreading deception.

3. It’s time for personal responsibility. We charismatics must stop blaming everything on demons. People are usually the problem.

4.  Stop playing games. Spiritual warfare is a reality, but we are not going to win the world to Jesus just by shouting at demonic principalities. We must pray, preach and persevere to see ultimate victory.

5. Stop the foolishness. People who hit, slap or push others during prayer should be asked to sit down until they learn gentleness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. …Read More!

John Harper the preacher who went evangelizing on THE TITANIC!

Have you ever heard of John Harper? No, not John Piper. I bet you haven’t. When Hollywood made a movie on the Titanic I bet they skipped and conveniently ignored the most beautiful love story of all. The story of John Harper  the evangelist (and his God) on the Titanic.

John Harper was born to a pair of solid Christian parents on May 29th, 1872.  It was on the last Sunday of March 1886, when he was thirteen years old that he received Jesus as the Lord of his life. He never knew what it was to”sow his wild oats.” He began to preach about four years later at the ripe old age of 17 years old by going down to the streets of his village and pouring out his soul in earnest entreaty for men to be reconciled to God.

As John Harper’s life unfolded, one thing was apparent…he was consumed by the word of God. When asked by various ministers what his doctrine consisted of, he was known to reply “The Word of God!” After five or six years of toiling on street corners preaching the gospel and working in the mill during the day, Harper was taken in by Rev. E. A. Carter of Baptist Pioneer Mission in London, England. This set Harper free to devote his whole time of energy to the work so dear to his heart. Soon, John Harper started his own church in September of 1896. (Now known as the Harper Memorial Church.) This church which John Harper had started with just 25 members, had grown to over 500 members when he left 13 years later. During this time he had gotten married, but was shortly thereafter widowed. However brief the marriage, God did bless John Harper with a beautiful little girl named Nana.

Ironically, John Harper almost drowned several times during his life. When he was two and a half years of age, he almost drowned when he fell into a well but was resuscitated by his mother. At the age of twenty-six, he was swept out to sea by a reverse current and barely survived, and at thirty-two he faced death on a leaking ship in the Mediterranean.  Perhaps, God used these experiences to prepare this servant for what he faced next.
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Why are Mega churches resorting to finding “Church growth consultants” and “High Capacity People”?

The latest buzz in numbers of those flocking to a new church will always cause ears to prick up. The stats are certainly impressive, the buildings expensive, and the congregations expansive. And perhaps there is plenty of reason to be enthusiastic— lost people are attending weekend services. Isn’t it? But does the evangelistic philosophy behind the so-called “Church Growth Movement” match up to or follow the biblical model? Does it meet Scripture’s standards or does it fall short of God’s expectations? Where do “church growth consultants” come from and why do they insist on pastors identifying their number one asset “the high capacity person”? If all this is news to you FBC Jax watch dog explains….

Let’s start things off by looking at a 6-minute video produced by Jim Sheppard, the CEO of a consulting firm named “Generis”…

Jim produced the video [above] for an event called “The Nines” [in 2010], where 100 leaders gave 6-minute talks on the Internet to help church pastors… In his video, Jim explains to church leaders how they need to develop strategies for going after the very wealthy in their community, who he calls “the high capacity people”.

Here are some quotes from the video: …Read More!

One more reason why pagans don’t take Christianity seriously

When pagans see the irreverence that goes on in some circles of Evangelicalism it gives them more impetus to laugh the name of God to scorn. Surely when we call our selves ‘Christ-like’ or ‘Christian’ and make a false representation of who or what God is, don’t we bear or take the name of our God in vain? Blasphemy was the word I was looking for. And it’s the same word that comes to mind when I hear people want to  ‘crank dat holy ghost’.

No. I am actually thick skinned and I am used to being laughed at but I get grieved …Read More!

On Being Cal-minian (Both Calvinist and Arminian)

Ever met some one who said he is both Calvinist and Arminian; straddles both sides of the proverbial fence?  I am proudly Cal-minian they say. Well I know it gives a theological head ache . Listen to this …..

There is so much wrong with that statement that I don’t even know where to begin. First of all it assumes that two mutually exclusive claims can both be true. This is patently false. Believe in both/and propositions all you want, you and the semi truck cannot both cross the intersection at the same time without grave consequences. There is only truth and error. There is only life or death. …Read More!

Meet The Christians: A day in the life of a Christian Satirist.

The next guest is a satirist. He is also a Christian. But one other interesting thing is that the concept behind these anonymous interviews was originally from him (chuckle) ;). These interviews are anonymous so that there is no celebrity. They are evangelistic and have been simplified so that they are easy to follow and to the point. Today my guest too will be masked as we ask him different questions about what he believes. In case you missed the previous anonymized interviews please go here.

ATCT [A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®] : Sorry you are masked from your audience today. What is a typical week in your life like?
CHRISTIAN: On Sunday, we go to church. Period. We have children and they know from example that it is important to give God glory because He is God and we are not. The rest of the week, I juggle work, Bible study, current event study, blog maintenance, creative writing (including humor & satire) for my blog and for others, research & writing for a missions database, Taking the kids back and forth to school, and generally trying to have quality time with family.

ATCT: Did you have any Christian influence in your youth or childhood?

CHRISTIAN: No, God saved me as a young adult. We did the lip service thing when I was a kid and it had no effect. Many church youth groups bussed us to pizza blasts and hot dog dinners but i was dry bones at that time. Praise God that he saved me and most of my family later however!

ATCT: What is the gospel in one sentence? …Read More!

Meet The Christians: A Day in the life of a Newly Ordained Pastor

I am grateful to God for the previous interviews and how they have been a primer for people to know more about Christians and what they believe. Today’s anonymized guest is a young man who has just been ordained as a pastor recently. He is a Christian of course, married to one beautiful woman and we will mask him first and then ask him a couple of questions to see what he believes. If you missed the previous anonymized interviews please go here.

ATCT [A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®] : Sorry you are masked from your audience today. What is a typical week in your life like?

CHRISTIAN: Sunday, preaching and pastoring. Monday, chilling and chores. Tuesday, study and administration. Wednesday, pastoral visiting, study, and church meeting. Thursday, household shopping and study, Friday, very unpredictable. Saturday – family day. Throw in three or four trips to the gym and some tropical fish maintenance along with far too much net surfing, some reading, and a little television, and that is about it. Oh, apart from prayer, eating and sleeping.

ATCT: Did you have any Christian influence in your youth or childhood?

CHRISTIAN: Yes, both my parents love the Lord, and so do all my uncles and aunts, and of course, the wider church family.

 ATCT: What is the gospel in one sentence? …Read More!

Churches in Britain Adopt New Revised and Hip Ten Commandments.

Well some people believe if you can re-write and re -word the Ten Commandments you can make people feel a little more positive about their spiritual and moral state. You see…

    The religious rules, which Christians believe were etched onto tablets by God and given to Moses, have been modified to use up-to-date language and principles. Inspired by last year’s riots, the new vows include “manage your anger”, “know God” and “catch your breath” and are understood to be used in more than 600 churches in Britain.

    The original “thou shalt not steal” has become “prosper with a clear conscience”, and the lengthy “thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” becomes “take God seriously”.

    The commandments, designed by popular evangelical preacher J John, have been praised by religious leaders for bringing practical advice to modern congregations.

    Using short, simple language interspersed with slang, the new rules have now been released on a DVD called “just10 for churches”, aimed at providing guidance.

    The tenth commandment, for example, has altered the Biblical “thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s” to just “find contentment.” …Read More!

Where God by His Grace got me from…

I believe I was so spiritually corrupt and prideful and rebellious that I would never have come to faith in Jesus without God’s merciful, sovereign victory over the last vestiges of my rebellion. (1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:1–4; Romans 8:7). …Read More!

Meet The Christians: A Day in the life of a Christian serving in a War and Disaster Zone.

If you have missed any of the previous anonymized interviews with Christians from different backgrounds please go here. Continuing with the same format today’s guest too has been anonymized (so that the glory of the testimony) goes to God. Today’s guest has spent over 18 years working in disaster zones. He has come very close to death countless times while preaching the gospel. He is one unsung hero in many respects but today he will tell us what drives him on even when he is far from family, friends and safety.

ATCT [A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®] : Sorry you are masked from your audience today. Could you tell us what a typical week in your life is like?

CHRISTIAN: I don’t usually have a typical week. Travelling, ministering and lot’s of calls from folks around the world that the Lord has allowed me to encourage and minister to. Study, reading, Praying, meditating, talking to my bride, sharing with my kids.

ATCT: Did you have any Christian  influence in your youth or childhood?

CHRISTIAN:I had basically no Christian influence in my life as a Child. I did attend a very tiny church roughly three times in grade two. I was never one who disbelieved that God existed, I did not however have a relationship with Him.

ATCT: What is the gospel in one sentence? …Read More!

Can we do Coke (or Champagne) and Pizza for Communion?

Clint Archer looks at the communion table and questions surrounding it in his latest article:

After my post on children taking communion I received some great questions. I wanted to address them more fully than in a crammed comment cage.

Have you ever thought of these provocative variables in the form and substance of the Lord’s Supper:

  • Should we not emulate the NT church’s practice of sharing an entire, sit-down meal?
  • Must the bread be unleavened?
  • Must the wine be alcoholic?
  • Must the wine be red or can we use Champagne instead?
  • Where does one draw the line? For example, can pizza and Coke count as communion? I.e. can the bread be sweetened, or have a topping? What about milk and cookies?

Makes the blood boil a bit, doesn’t it? You may have got stuck on the milk & cookies on, and you would probably say: “Obviously not, don’t be dumb.” …Read More!

Aha! So, are you a Calvinist….no ifs and no buts?

So imagine the theological police round you up in a dark street corner and as they breathe down your neck and one asks you,“so, little helpless brat are you a Calvinist?” With the microphone firmly planted to your upper lip say, “You decide. Here is what I believe . . .”

I believe I am so spiritually corrupt and prideful and rebellious that I would never have come to faith in Jesus without God’s merciful, sovereign victory over the last vestiges of my rebellion. (1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:1–4; Romans 8:7).

I believe that God chose me to be his child before the foundation of the world, on the basis of nothing in me, foreknown or otherwise. (Ephesians 1:4–6; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:29–30; 11:5–7)

I believe Christ died as a substitute for sinners to provide a bona fide offer of salvation to all people, and that he had an invincible design in his death to obtain his chosen bride, namely, the assembly of all believers, whose names were eternally written in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain. (John 3:16; John 10:15; Ephesians 5:25; Revelation 13:8)

When I was dead in my trespasses, and blind to the beauty of Christ, God made me alive, opened the eyes of my heart, granted me to believe, and united me to Jesus, with all the benefits of forgiveness and justification and eternal life. …Read More!

Mary Jones the 15 year old Welsh girl who walked over 25 miles to buy her very first bible.

Today the preacher in church told us an interesting story. Well it was during the sermon talk to the children but we all loved it. It was about a little Welsh girl called Mary Jones. You see…

In the year 1800 Mary Jones, the 15-year-old daughter of a weaver from Llanfihangel-y-Pennant at the foot of Cader Idris, walked 25 miles, barefoot and across rugged mountain country, simply to buy a Bible from the Reverend Thomas Charles of Bala. There is a lot more to the story than that, however, and Mary’s epic trip was to have lasting effects throughout the world.

There had been no Welsh version of the Bible until Bishop William Morgan completed his famous translation in 1588.

Before that worshippers in Welsh churches and chapels had to use Latin or, occasionally, English texts. Most of them understood little of either language. Once Morgan’s Bible became available things began to change.

However, Bishop Morgan’s Bible was both expensive and heavy and, therefore, was restricted to church and chapel use. A smaller and cheaper version was published in 1630 and by the end of the century there were several new editions freely available to all those who could afford them.

When Griffith Jones began his Circulating Schools the Bible was an essential teaching tool and many families, now able to read, bought their own copies so that they could read and digest in the comfort and security of their own homes.

In north Wales the Calvinistic Methodist preacher Thomas Charles, operating from his chapel in Bala, was active in making sure Sunday Schools and, wherever possible, individuals were plentifully supplied with Bibles. Enter Mary Jones.

Mary came from a devoutly pious family. …Read More!

Meet The Christians: A day in the life of a single Christian lady.

If you haven’t read the read any of the previous anonymized interviews click here. The guests are from different backgrounds, from all over the world and the only unifying factor is that they have been changed by the gospel message. Today’s guest is a single Christian lady, works full time and yes she will tell us what the gospel is in one sentence too.

ATCT [A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®] : Sorry you are masked from your audience today. What is a typical week in your life like?

ANS: Well, I work full time, exercise, and leave gospel tracts everywhere. 🙂

  1. ATCT: Did you have any Christian  influence in your youth or childhood?

ANS: Yes. My mother and I weren’t saved back then, but there were a few instances where I went to church. The kinds of churches I went to is something I don’t remember. *lol*

  1. ATCT: What is the gospel in one sentence? …Read more!

Why health, wealth and prosperity preachers never fall sick or even die (Ahem).

If I am master of my fate, architect of my destiny and my words contain power as the WOF (word of faith) and prosperity preachers tell me then I am pretty much invincible. I do not need to pray to God, afterall what can He do that I cannot speak into existence. I am sovereign. So, do these WOF and health, wealth and prosperity preachers ever fall sick, fill in job application forms, go to the bank for a loan, get drenched by rain or even die? Well check this out

Here’s a rhyme, how much wood could a wood chuck chop, if a wood chuck could chop wood? Here’s another. How much deception can be seen and heard, when there is no word, and nobody is really listening?

How long will we look the other way while people are ravaged by false teaching’s promoted by men who spread their own miracle rumors?

It was E.W. Kenyon in his book the Hidden man on pg.99 wrote, “I know that I am healed because he said that I am healed and it makes no difference what the symptoms may be in my body.” An example would be if they are coughing and you say you have a cough they respond by “no I don’t, I haven’t had a cough in years.” That’s called denial of reality at best, and lying at worst. …REad More!