If I came across Osteen’s sermon notes and they read something like this I would be somewhat encouraged:
“Christianity which is from the Holy Spirit will always have a very deep view of the sinfulness of sin. It will not merely regard sin as a blemish and misfortune, which makes men and women objects of pity, and compassion. It will see in sin the abominable thing which God hates, the thing which makes man guilty and lost in his Maker’s sight, the thing which deserves God’s wrath and condemnation. It will look on sin as the cause of all sorrow and unhappiness, of strife and wars, of quarrels and contentions, of sickness and death–the curse which cursed God’s beautiful creation, the cursed thing which makes the whole earth groan and struggle in pain. Above all, it will see in sin the thing which will ruin us eternally, unless we can find a ransom,–lead us captive, except we can get its chains broken,–and destroy our happiness, both here and hereafter, except we fight against it, even unto death. Is this your religion? Are these your feelings about sin? If not, you should doubt whether your religion is “authentic.” – J. C. Ryle
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
(The Puritans believed in) the supreme importance of preaching. To the Puritans, the sermon was the liturgical climax of public worship. Nothing, they said, honours God more than the faithful declaration and obedient hearing of His truth. Preaching, under any circumstances, is an act of worship, and must be performed as such. Moreover, preaching is the prime means of grace to the church. ~J.I Packer
“He therefore…is a fool in this world, who, renouncing his own understanding, allows himself to be directed by the Lord, as if with his eyes shut – who, distrusting himself leans wholly upon the Lord, places his whole wisdom in him, and yields himself up to God in docility and submission. It is necessary that our wisdom should in this way vanish, in order that the will of God may have authority over us, and that we be emptied of our own understanding, that we may be filled with the wisdom of God.”-John Calvin
“If you neglect to instruct (your children) in the way of holiness, will the devil neglect to instruct them in the way of wickedness? No; if you will not teach them to pray, he will to curse, swear, and lie; if ground be uncultivated, weeds will spring.” – John Flavel
“But if I see aright, the cross of popular evangelicalism is not the cross of the New Testament. It is, rather, a new bright ornament upon the bosom of a self-assured and carnal Christianity. The old cross slew men, the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemned; the new cross amuses. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it.” ~A.W Tozer
Holy Lord, I have sinned times without number, and been guilty of pride and unbelief, of failure to find Thy mind in Thy Word, of neglect to seek Thee in my daily life. My transgressions and short-comings present me with a list of accusations, but I bless Thee that they will not stand against me, for all have been laid on Christ. Go on to subdue my corruptions, and grant me grace to live above them. Let not the passions of the flesh nor lustings of the mind bring my spirit into subjection, but do Thou rule over me in liberty and power.
I thank Thee that many of my prayers have been refused. I have asked amiss and do not have, I have prayed from lusts and been rejected, I have longed for Egypt and been given a wilderness. Go on with Thy patient work, answering ‘no’ to my wrongful prayers, and fitting me to accept it. Purge me from every false desire, every base aspiration, everything contrary to Thy rule. I thank Thee for Thy wisdom and Thy love, for all the acts of discipline to which I am subject, for sometimes putting me into the furnace to refine my gold and remove my dross.
No trial is so hard to bear as a sense of sin. If Thou shouldst give me choice to live in pleasure and keep my sins, or to have them burnt away with trial, give me sanctified affliction. Deliver me from every evil habit, every accretion of former sins, everything that dims the brightness of Thy grace in me, everything that prevents me taking delight in Thee. Then I shall bless Thee, [God], for helping me to be upright.-Puritan Prayers
[This article was first posted in August 2012] When I came across this church “marketing advert” I was reminded of something that Alistair Begg once said:
A good church is a Bible-centered church. Nothing is as important as this–not a large congregation, a witty pastor, or tangible experiences of “the holy Spirit”. – Alistair Begg
It seems these days church services are geared to be social entertainment events created to provide a euphoric buzz but the least emphasised aspect seems to be Biblical teaching and discipleship. No wonder some so called pastors have very little or even no reverence for God.
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. To 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?
“At best we are but clay, animated dust; but viewed as sinners, we are monsters indeed. Let it be published in heaven as a miracle that the Lord Jesus should set His heart’s love upon people like us.”― Alistair Begg
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:
I 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.
With many of the (for luck of a better word) ‘morally bankrupt’ agendas that most governments are sneaking into public school curriculum, it is understandable to see some people going to homeschooling as an alternative. However this is not to say that public education is evil in itself. No, I think it does have it’s strong points (I studied in public school but most important of all some one shared the gospel with me when I was in a public school) . One vital point should be that if parents (of both public and homeschooling children) neglect to instruct their children about the things of God and leave or assume that such vital lessons will be taught by others either public school teachers or Sunday school teachers alone, we may as well just cut off their hands and feet and watch them flip and flounder in the morally murky village pond. We will give account to God for the children he has lent to us for this short pilgrim journey through this earth -lets make the most of it by making them wise toward God by explaining to them the Law and the Gospel. In the words of one of my favorite puritan preachers:
“For you that are parents, or to whom the education of children is committed, I beseech you mind the duty which lies on you. … For to what purpose do we desire them before we have them, rejoice in them when we have them, value them so highly, sympathize with them so tenderly, grieve for their death so excessively, if in the meantime no care be taken what shall become of them to eternity? … If you neglect to instruct them in the way of holiness, will the devil neglect to instruct them in the way of wickedness? No, no, if you will not teach them to pray, he will teach them to curse, swear and lie. If ground be uncultivated, weeds will spring up.” ~ John Flavel
The death, burial and resurrection of Christ and the Easter message was well summed by the Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon:
He suffered all the horror of hell; in one pelting shower of iron wrath it fell upon him, with hail-stones bigger than a talent; and he stood until the black cloud had emptied itself completely. There was our debt, huge and immense; he paid the utmost farthing of whatever his people owed; and now there is not so much as a doit or a
farthing due to the justice of God in the way of punishment from any believer; and though we owe God gratitude, though we owe much to his love, we owe nothing to his justice; for Christ in that hour took all our sins, past, present, and to come, and was punished for them all there and then, that we might never be punished, because he suffered in our stead. ~ Charles Spurgeon
Paiye of the primitive Moi tribe of West Papua tells the Easter or Resurrection story in his own words. It is said that there are only 700-800 Moi in existence. The Moi have a language and culture completely their own.
Hmm. Good to see no one has introduced the Easter bunny plus all the commercialism that goes with Easter and most Christian festivities. Pray for missionaries – pray that they remain faithful to the message of the gospel.
‘If I knew I were one of God’s elect, I would come to Christ; but I fear I am not.’ To you I answer: nobody ever came to Christ because he knew himself to be one of the elect. It is quite true that God has of His mere good pleasure elected some to everlasting life, but they never knew it until they believed in Christ. Christ nowhere commands the elect to come to him. He commands all men everywhere to repent and believe the gospel. The question for you is not, ‘Am I one of the elect?’ but ‘Am I a sinner?’ Christ came to save sinners.”
This sounds like a joke stretched too far. However when it comes to making merchandise of men’s souls there is no end to the limit of options. A new bible version inserts your name in almost every sentence that sounds good or may make you feel good about yourself! It is the ‘personal promise bible’ of course and you can imagine how many misguided people will be buying into this fad. In a liberal generation that holds high self esteem as an essential, this is just the tip of the proverbial self actualization and narcissistic iceberg.
It’s sad to see the line up of celebrities trying to endorse this ‘bible’. To quote some of the personalities:
I loved the Bible and I was quoting excerpts from it in church!! It is a great idea! Brian Houston, Senior Pastor, Hillsong Church, Sydney, Australia
“Its awesome…how alive the most routine verse has become! I can’t put it down.” Dr. Wanda A. Turner, Author of Sex Traps and Celebrate Change
A friend on FB made a very interesting observation …Read More!
In a bid to make the Bible more hip and ‘less boring’ a group of thrill seekers have done what an entertainment production team would do for a amusement demanding audience. Steven Furtick’s Elevation Creative Team has re-written the Bible….yup…. only this time it is Veggie-Tale style. Remember how those salads and tomatoes taught our kids how to behave “Christian” without becoming Christians? Well Furtick’s team has resurrected the same old trick….
Has American Christianity lost all credibility in the sufficiency of Scripture? Do we need to re-brand the Bible and make it ‘more relevant’ by adding to it space ships, space whales (and who knows -Vampire chases)? Well, Jesus (spoke of a real Jonah and) …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
Preachers 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 three month itch is back and most fad driven churches are buzzing with the latest fad in town. The rumor is if you do this (enter name of which ever church marketing strategy you fancy Gangnam style, Harlem Shake e.t.c), people will like your church or if you do that you will be considered a ‘relevant’ church. So every three months or less you will find all these self styled church growth gurus keeping a hand on the pulse of culture so as to keep the church looking trendy. The fads just keep coming and today it’s the ‘Harlem shake’ (see video clip below)! With all this craziness going on in church (just like when Kundalini and Slaying in the Spirit was a fad) there’s hardly any time for Bible study and hey don’t even speak about having reverence for the Lord or his house. …Read More!
“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
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.
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:
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!
”A man does not become a Christian by taking a decision. He is made a Christian by God, who had marked him out before the foundation of the world and who sees to it that he is born, and sees to it that he believes.” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Romans – God’s Sovereign Purpose)
“The Bible is the grand repository … It is the complete system of divine truth, to which nothing can be added, and from which nothing can be taken, with impunity. Every attempt to disguise or soften any branch of this truth, in order to accommodate it to the prevailing taste around us, either to avoid the displeasure, or to court the favour, of our fellow mortals, must be an affront to the majesty of God, and an act of treachery to men.” — John Newton
My good friend Jim Bublitz went to be with the Lord earlier this year however some of his articles on his blog (The Old Truth) still speak volumes. Like this one…
You’ve likely heard the phrase in real-estate, that what matters is “Location, location, location“. The idea behind that holds true in bible study as well, and perhaps could be better stated “Context, context, context“. Failure to obey this rule will result in devastating consequence in your understanding of the bible. It’s possible that by ignoring context, we can come up with a meaning for a bible verse that is completely different than what the Holy Spirit intended. In this post we’ll take a look at one passage where today’s church has done exactly that.
You might remember me bringing up the “inspirational” wall calendar with scripture passages on it, in which one of the months said this: “If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.” Apparently, nobody bothered to check the context of that text, because if they had, they would have found out that it was actually Satan speaking (Luke 4:7).
Context is so important, that the folks at Stand To Reason sell a booklet entitled “Never Read a Bible Verse“, never read one all by itself that is. You should always read the surrounding verses and chapters, etc. It’s actually dangerous to read a bible verse in isolation.
I came across this Facebook profile page and got a little interested in what was written. Some may think it’s one of the worst self profiles:
About X: I stand guilty in a court that rules over all humanity in justice. I am an adulterer; I am a lier; I am a thief; I am prideful; I am a glutton; I am a coveter… I am also guilty of enjoying the wrongs I partake in, so much so that I hate what is right and call it evil. I am wretched and filthy in the eyes of the Judge of all the Earth, and I know He shall do what is right and just.
I, just like all of humanity lost and in slavery to sin, deserve to slide off this world into the lake of fire and never know what it is like to look upon my Creator with love and joy on His face. Instead I will fall into the hands of a wrathful God who takes no pleasure in destroying the wicked but must do so as He is also perfectly just and perfectly holy; everything I am not.
But, the Judge has done something tremendous. He sent His Son, conceived by His Spirit and born of a virgin, to take my sin and bear the wrath of the Judge that was due me. This Son, Jesus, then resurrected by the power of God, gave me His perfect righteousness and obedience in exchange, and became my perfect lawyer, presenting me before the Judge as acquitted. Why me? …Read More!
I while ago my friend Andy wrote a very interesting piece on the consequences of ignoring the Atonement. Was Jesus’ life simply an example for us to follow or did he come as the Lamb of God to take away sins of those who would believe?
[Andy writes] In the early days of liberal theology, it was the vogue to claim that Jesus’ death was the result of His zeal. He shot His mouth off too many times about religious and moral truth, until, finally, His opponents could take no more and had Him assassinated. The theological axe-to-grind of this view was their rejection of the atonement as an objective, meritorious, vicarious sacrifice – in short, as a substitionary death.
Evacuating Christ’s death in such a way, all that remained was His example. Not many evangelicals (a term I am growing increasingly uncomfortable with) would espouse such a radical view regarding Christ’s death, but the accompanying view of His life as merely a pattern or example, has clung on with tenacity in the best of circles. …Read More!
It is a good thing to go to church with the bible firmly tucked under your arm. It’s also a good thing to watch Christian television with an open bible planted firmly under your nose. But some times having a bible with you is not all that the discerning listener needs. False teachers have invented a new smart technique that beats the lazy eyed listener…its the “heresy two step” technique:
The Heresy Two-step starts with two feet on the text. The allusion must be given that the text is going to be taught on. Then a sliding step backwards is taken into an abstraction. You move from the text to an idea about the text or to a word in the text. Once the text is abstracted and a general principle or something along these lines is made. You can now wiggle around and go in any direction you want. You can make the text say whatever you want. Instead of teaching the text you are pontificating on this abstraction which was drawn from the text.
For some of us who are less experienced I hope this explanation is helpful in discerning false teachers, but it would seem to act as a measure for anyone who preaches/teaches. One needs to understand that exegesis and hermeneutics do have a critical role in preaching and understanding what the text says. …Read More!
No it’s not a riddle. It is not even a trick question. I while back some of my friends kept asking, “Why has Michael become a “Reformed Christian” after several years in prosperity driven and seeker sensitive churches?” So to make things alot easier to understand I thought it’s best to go back to the Bible and back to basics. What exactly does it mean to become a Christian?
I have come to believe that Salvation begins with an unfailing work of God in the hearts of all those who will believe. While most churches in our current day believe that you “believe to be born again”, like the Reformers and Puritans I have come to believe the opposite about that; my belief is that you are “born again to believe” (see the change in order?).
Here’s a simple quiz for bible believing Christians. …Read More!
It’s because of God’s grace and providence that mere mortals get to have sunshine and rain and air to breathe. Yup, even atheists get to enjoy the brilliant colors of the rainbow and the sweet fresh smell of Spring rises up to greet them every morning when Winter is gone. What would happen if God was to lift His grace from our lives just for a moment? Came across this:
Me thinks: One moment without God and we would not even reach “mournday”…we would be dead in “Sinday” (Col 2:13) 😉
It was the year 2050. The office of pastor was now obsolete. Instead the most glamorous office of “worship leader” had taken over the leadership of the seeker sensitive church. This office was more in touch with the emotions of the people. A few qualities were a MUST for this office:
You must be able to use a voice auto tuner.
You must be able to use dry ice and laser lights on stage the pulpit and look cool.
You must be able to sustain a note while making an altar call (a tear in the eye is a bonus).
Erik a young pastor recently visited a pastor who has buried 200 members. No, he wasn’t the village undertaker. And no, his cooking wasn’t that bad. However there is a lot to learn from this profound story. Here goes….
I was recently spending some time with a minister who is nearing retirement. He was going through his office and packing up boxes, books and other personal items. He directed me to a large box and told me to take a look. I saw dozens of manilla file folders with names on them.
“What are all these?” I asked.
“Funerals.” The pastor said.
“How many?” I inquired.
“Over two-hundred.” He soberly replied.
There in his office I was struck with so many emotions. Here stood a man who has buried over two hundred of his parishioners. And here I stand, a young-buck having buried a grand total of zero of our members.
The seasoned pastor went on to tell me that he cannot throw this box away because in every folder is a life.
“In every folder is a life, a soul. And in each one is a piece of my life.” He said, holding back obvious emotion. I almost lost it too. …Read More!
The human heart is utterly deceptive. In one vein we are capable of accomplishing unimaginable feats of bravery and charitable deeds and the next moment descend into utter depravity and wallow in the most hideous and vile acts.
A have-a-go hero who tackled a gun-wielding robber has been jailed for life for a brutal murder.
Deivydas Jacikas, 21, was praised for his bravery after he was caught on camera stopping a fleeing jewel thief last February.
But just eight months later Lithuanian immigrant Jacikas carried out a revenge attack on a grandfather-of-nine Henrikas Baranauskas, 56, who he claimed head-butted his father.
Jacikas confronted father-of-eight Mr Baranauskas last October before beating him so savagely his victim sustained 14 fractured ribs and severe brain damage.
Mr Baranauskas was so badly beaten that his family eventually had to make the agonising decision to switch off his life support machine. …Read More!
April 1st already. May God continue to richly bless each one of you with good health, long life, and may you come to a knowledge of Him whom to know is life eternal (see John 17:3).
For those atheists who have been quoting Matthew 5:21-23, please know that I would never call a Christian “brother” a fool (see the context). I do, however, side with God Himself when He calls the atheist a “fool” (see Psalm 14:1 and Romans 1:22). I have learned, through years of experience in dealing with drug addicts, that the way to reach them is not to argue with them about what they are doing, but to show them how stupid they are. They are not abusing drugs; they are using drugs to abuse themselves. The same applies with the stupidity of denying a Creator, with creation staring at you in the face. The atheist will only harm himself…
“Ultra-organised churches give too great opportunity to men who are inferior in everything but ambition. They climb to the position of prestige to the detriment of abler men. On the score of being ‘administrators’, and ‘good business men’, they rule the Church.” – Dinsdale Young. …Read More!
Brad Abley has an interesting article on how to get the most out of the preaching of God’s word seeing that these days the most sought after preachers are those with more riddles and stand up knock-knock jokes. There are few preachers who for love of God’s word and love to feed the sheep remain faithful to their calling and expound and preach faithfully the full counsel of God. So then…
Pray for the preacher – before, during and after the message. [He] needs the prayers of all of God’s people and when he gets those prayers, the preaching becomes a true, corporate effort– not a “one-man show.”
The more God’s people pray for the preacher and the message, the greater the anointing will be upon all. By asking God … he may be spared the oppression that inevitably comes to preachers soon after the message.
Moreover, when we pray for those who preach, we are far less prone to “rate” or criticize the preacher.
If you know that the person whose pulpit ministry you sit under works hard at preaching and teaching (that involves much prayer, study, preparation and the spiritual warfare that comes along with this high responsibility) and genuinely cares for those he has responsibility for, appreciate and honor him or her (1 Tim. 5:17).
Pray too that the preacher will remain faithful to the text in his exposition, that Christ may be glorified and the gospel will come forth with clarity to encourage the believers and draw the sinners by the power of the Holy Spirit.
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!
Okay not that I want to cause a stampede but this year’s Shepherd Conference 2012 media is available here.
Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Ca usually hosts an annual event (Shepherd’s Conference) for pastors from all over the world. The topics discussed are usually very nutritious and mouth watering (of course in the spiritual sense). No skinny jeans or sex sermon series or prosperity shtick. The one clip from a couple of years ago (2010) that always reminds me of the Shepherd’s Conference is this one:
In Acts 2, what did the Christians come together for? Here were these people who had come out of the world to join the group of people called disciples, and they formed the first church, but what is the Christian church for? What does she do? What does she provide? Do Christian people come together for socials, dances, raffles, dramatic performances, lectures on politics, literature, and sociology? There was nothing like that in the early church. It is not my objective to denounce these things. But I do want to show how far removed they are from the Christian church. You can get all that in the world, and you can get it very much better there. The Christian church makes a fool of herself when she attempts these things–she does them so badly. If you want activities like that, then go and get them organized professionally. But that is not the Christian church. It is a travesty. …Read More!