There is no finality to the Christian LIfe this side of eternity. Leonard Ravenhill

Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Hope Within Us

"Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15

This verse has been greatly utilized by the Christian apologetics community today. Apologists tell us that we need to be ready when people come to us with questions about our faith. But the focus is often on 'evidences'. While I feel that this is good, it is not the actual thrust of this scripture.

When a man or woman is searching for God, the answers that they need are not specifically concerning science or archeology. Ultimately no one rejects God for scientific reasons, at the bottom of their denial is their sin. A.W. Tozer said, "I do not believe there is anybody that ever rejects Jesus Christ on philosophical grounds. The man who continues in his rejection of Christ has some pet sin somewhere- he's in love with iniquity. He rejects Jesus on moral grounds, and then hides behind false philosophy."

Jesus said in John 3:20, "Everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed." Like beetles on the bottom of a rock, we run from the painfully revealing light of the Son of God. We do not want our sin exposed. Jesus said, "This is the judgement: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil." (John 3:19) Men hide behind scientific theories because they do not want to serve God. They reject God because they do not want Christ as Lord in their life.

So back to 1 Peter 3:15; the message here is not for us to learn scientific evidences, archaeological findings, or historical truths. While the Bible is clearly supported by true science, archaeology, and history, these things are not our hope. Our salvation is not found in 'evidences', it is found in the Lord Jesus Christ. We must offer Him to this world, only He can save. Apologetics cannot save, only Christ can. When the world comes to us and asks us what our hope is, what will we answer?

Is our hope that history has proven Christ actually existed?

Is it that science has proven evolution cannot work?

Is it that Jericho has been discovered?

Do we believe the Bible because man has proven it, or because God has spoken?

Men do not ultimately reject God because of the evidence. They reject Him because they are sinners who love their sin. So when they ask us, what is the hope that we will hold out to them?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Only One Life

"I myself have only one life to live and not an easy one at that. All I want is to to spend my life so that looking at it, there will be no shame in looking back."

Who wrote these words? They sound as if they came from the pen of David Brainerd or C.T. Studd. But they did not. They did come from the mind of a devoted man though. He was a zealot for his faith. He was entirely consumed  with his religion. He had laid his all on the altar and offered himself as a living sacrifice. He would be faithful in life and death. Who was he? A missionary? A preacher? An evangelist? Yes he was all of these.

After Gordon Arnold Lonsdale was captured in 1960, as a Communist Russian spy in England, the police found a letter from his wife. She was despairing over their lot in life and was grieving over their difficult situation. But Lonsdale had no such regrets, he lived what he believed. He wrote back to his wife a six page reply, it was in this letter that he wrote the above words.

We all only have one life to live. Are we making the most of it? I am reminded of the words of an old poem that Leonard Ravenhill often quoted,

"Only one life 'twill soon be past.
Only what's done for Christ will last."

When I reach the end of my road and stand before God Almighty I want to hear Him say "Well done."  Don't be like Lonsdale and passionately devote your life to the low things of this world. We are here to glorify God and live for Him. Remember "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." That's what life is all about.

There is a judgement coming are you ready?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Light In the Darkness

The night was chilly and dark. Clouds hung as thick drapes to block the radiance of the stars. The wind moaned and all creation groaned with the burdens of the curse. The world as it spun in its ferocious orbit ached, as it was blanketed in somber shadows. God had created a perfect world, but we were now toiling amongst the thorns of a fallen world. Man had turned their back on the Creator and for their rebellion had been thrown into a sunless existence.

But God had a plan. Though the night was heavy, His power was greater. Although blackness engulfed all of mankind, Jesus, God’s own Son, came to dispel the awful darkness.

Though we had tried to get to God our attempts had never been successful. We try to prop up our ladders, but they always prove to be shaky and far to short. We could not get to God so He came to us instead. Our hearts are like that bleak midnight. The corridors of our soul are shadowy, they conceal secrets we wish no one to know, and they shelter the very things that God despises. But He has not left us alone to blindly stumble through the darkness. He will save us, if we will turn our backs on our sin, plead His forgiveness, and follow Him. He is a friend to those who call on Him.

Sin is a hard, heartless master. It is cruel and unforgiving. If you live for it, when you come to the end of your road all it will pay you for your service is death, it rewards you with a cold, lonely death. Christ offers eternal life, a relationship with the God of the universe. This new life can begin today and will last beyond the grave. Do not forget that life even at its longest is very short, do not put this off for another day that you may deem more convenient, for that day may never come.

His light like a lighthouse is glowing on the shore to guide lost ships safely home. Though the night is mercilessly black, remember a light shines in the darkness for you.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Chambers on Doctrine

"Theology is a great thing, so is a man's creed; but God is greater than either, and the next greatest thing is my relationship to Him." Oswald Chambers  Baffled To Fight Better

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Doctrines In Dormancy

"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life." John 5:39-40

"We could take up everything there is about Christ as doctrine, as teaching, but that is not what we are after. That is not what the Lord is after at all. It is Christ Himself. He Himself is the living, personal embodiment, the personification of all truth, of all life and the Lord's purpose and will for us is not to come to know truth in all its manifold aspects, but to know the Person, the living Person in a living way, and that the person being imparted to us, and we being incorporated into the Person, all the truth becomes living truth rather than merely theoretical or technical truth." T. Austin Sparks "The School of Christ"

"Christianity is a living and divine reality. It is not a set of doctrines, however true; a system of ordinances, however imposing; a number of rules and regulations, however important. Christianity is far more than any or all of these things. It is a living, breathing,speaking, active, powerful reality- something to be seen in the every day life- something to be felt in the scenes of personal, domestic history, from hour to hour- something formative and influential- a divine and heavenly power introduced into the scenes and circumstances through which we have to move, as men, women, and children, from Sunday morning to Saturday night. It does not consist in holding certain views, opinions, and principles, or in going to this place of worship or that." C.H. Mackintosh "The Assembly of God"

We must be very careful that we do not take our doctrines and separate them from the One they are found in. We cannot take our doctrine as a static thing in exclusion of Jesus Christ. When we do this we create lengthy systematic theologies but have little or no life to back them up with. Our creed should be seen in our deeds.

Take for instance the doctrine of hell. There is right now a plethora of material on this subject. But while we fundamentalists profess to believe in a literal, eternal hell, do we really? We will criticize Rob Bell, but I am afraid that we don't truly believe in hell. If we did it would affect us profoundly. If hell is real to us, and not just an article in our statement of faith, it would shake us up. The revivalist preacher Duncan Campbell was given a vision by God of hell. He did not walk away from this vision the same man. His daughter thought that he would go insane, for a true understanding of what hell is affects a person.

Or take another example the doctrine of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We fight tooth and nail to preserve the authenticity of Christ's Resurrection but we live as if He is still in that grave. You will tear the cults up because they do not believe in Jesus as the Bible teaches, but neither do we. If Christ is truly alive than that truth will have visible, powerful impact on our daily life.

Be careful that you do not have doctrines in dormancy.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Favorite Book of This Year: In Light Of Eternity

As I think back on the many wonderful books that I have read this year, one stands out above the rest. Earlier this year I got a copy of Mack Tomlinson's "In Light of Eternity: The Life of Leonard Ravenhill".  I knew this would be an incredible read. I have long admired the ministry of Leonard Ravnehill. Ever since my father and I read his "Meat for Men" I have been encouraged and challenged by the messages of this man.

I knew very little about Ravenhill's life, so the history of his long worldwide ministry was a blessing to learn about. He was a man on fire for Jesus Christ. He had a burden for revival and consecrated Christian living. He was also a godly, caring husband and father. His sermons are like gasoline. They remind me of Amy Carmichael's lines, "Make me thy fuel, flame of God."

We need men with unction from heaven above. Men like John the Baptist, with a burden and a message. Ravenhill was a burning and shining light in his day and though he is dead he lives on. A new generation of Christians are becoming acquainted with and convicted by the life and messages of Leonard Ravenhill.

If you are looking for an anointed read get this book, "In Light of Eternity".

What were the books used of God in your life this year?

Knowing God and Knowing About God

It is easy to become doctrinally sound, but remain spiritually hard. Our structure may be sturdy and strong but inside the walls echo back of our lifelessness. We are like a tree that  appears healthy and strong, but on the inside is hollow. We can spout off creeds and statement of faith's, but do we really know the God behind the paper.

God is love, but do we only know this because we have read it?

God is holy, but do we only know this because the preacher said so?

Christ is a friend to those who follow Him, but have you felt the warmth of His hand in yours?

He will guide those who seek Him, but far to often we prefer God being a co-signer to our plans. We like enough of God to get us to heaven, but we wouldn't want Him to intrude upon our daily existence. We like to go to church because its the right thing to do. We like to sing songs of praise because it makes us feel good. We listen to sermons for inspiration. We pray because God has much to offer. But all the time we go through the formalities we keep God at arms length. We like to know about Him, not know Him.

But the essence of Christianity is not merely knowing about God, not having a right theology, and not reciting the catechism. The foundations of Christianity are found rooted in a vital, real relationship with the God of the universe. This is eternal life. It's not meeting God in Heaven someday and strolling down golden streets with Him. It is knowing God right now in the daily grind of life. It is walking with Him down the streets of your town. It is talking with Him in your garden. It is seeing His majesty and power in a radiant sunset. We don't have to be laid in a casket to meet God, we can and must know Him right now.

Eternal life doesn't start when you physically die, it actually begins when you pass from death to life spiritually.

"This is eternal life that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."
John 17:3

"Doctrine is not an affair of the tongue, but of the life; is not apprehended by the intellect and the memory merley, like other branches of learnng, but i srecieved only when it possesses the whole soul and finds its seat and habitation in the inmost recesses of the heart." John Calvin

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

C.H. Mackintosh On What A Christian Is

From C.H.M.'s Miscellaneous Writings Vol.3

"A Christian is one whose sins have been forgiven, who possesses eternal life, and knows it; in whom the Holy Ghost dwells; he is accepted in and associated with a risen and glorified Christ; he has broken with the world, is dead to sin and the law, and finds his object and his delight, and his spiritual sustenance, in the Christ who loved him and gave himself for him, and for whose coming he waits ever day of his life."

The Gospel Is Bigger Than That

The man on the platform was preaching. It was a Gospel concert and he was taking time out of their program to offer salvation to those in the crowd. But after a mere five minutes of talking, he asked everyone to bow their heads and close their eyes while he asked if anyone wanted to become a Christian. This was startling to me.

How could he ask if anyone wanted to be saved? They had no idea what they needed to be saved from. How could he ask if anyone wanted to become a Christian? He hadn't even told them what a Christian
was. How could he offer salvation? He hadn't even talked about sin, judgement, repentance or the law.

I felt like standing up on my bleacher seat way in the back of the crowd and shouting, "The Gospel is bigger than that!"

In our day we have naively believed that John 3:16 is the sum total of what the Gospel is all about. We have reduced the Gospel to Jesus dying for us so we can go to heaven. We've whispered into the ears of the world for decades now, that salvation is just a prayer. We've only told them of love and not judgement. We've preached of heaven and not hell. We've told them to come just as they are, but when they leave they remain just as they came. We 've taught them to regret their sin, not repent of it.

Our Gospel is far to small!

I found Noah Webster's definition of the Gospel in his 1828 dictionary very interesting and far more biblical than the one many evangelists give today:

"Gospel- The history of the birth, life, actions, death, resurrection, ascension and doctrines of Jesus Christ; or a revelation of the grace of God to fallen man through a mediator, including the character, actions, and doctrines of Christ, with the whole scheme of salvation, as revealed by Christ and his apostles."

You see the Gospel doesn't fit on a bumper sticker or a t-shirt. We cant reduce it, we must not diminish it. The Gospel is not any one single verse it is the entire Word of God. It is the whole counsel of God. It is God's revelation of who He is and His plan to redeem mankind. Jesus wasn't plan B, the Gospel was in Genesis.

Let us not pilfer the Gospel and offer the world little bits and pieces of truth. Let's offer this world the true Gospel, a fuller, bigger truth than we have been offering.

Monday, October 24, 2011

What Will They Say?

"Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong." 1 Corinthians 16:13

"There are no great or small people in the Kingdom of God, only faithful and unfaithful." 
Leonard Ravenhill

I love to read church history. It is amazing to see the many ways that God has worked through men and women to advance His kingdom. Over the two millenniums of church history that we have, there have been both good times and bad times. There have been periods of great faithfulness, and periods of great neglect and apathy. At times the church has been passionate and on fire for the Lord, and at other times she has been complacent and lazy.

But as I stroll down the corridors of church history, I am painfully burdened with the question of what future generations will say about the 21st century church here in America. What will our children write about us? If the Lord tarries another five hundred years what will that generation say?

Here are some questions to ask ourselves-

Do we advance the Kingdom of God or the kingdom of man?

Do we strengthen families or tear them apart?

Does the Spirit reign among our fellowships?

Do we teach the Word of God or our own opinions?

Do we preach the whole counsel of God or just our pet doctrines?

Do we preach the Gospel in its entirety or just bits and pieces?

We need to not only be reading church history, but making it. What will they say?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Our Only Hope: Seeing Past Governments To God

"It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes."  Psalm 118:8-9

Right now there is much unrest in our nation. The economy has many people worried and confused. Many political policies have become corrupt and are no friend to liberty and justice. Politicians are failing and the American people are becoming dissatisfied with their leaders. Truth is ignored. Righteousness is shunned. Liberty is forgotten. Loyalty is growing non-existent. Character is lost.

So is their any hope for America?

Right now we are hearing from many presidential hopefuls. These men and women hope to make their ideas appear appealing to the American people. Their talking a lot, their debating more, they are all trying to portray themselves as the answer to the maladies that we face. They proclaim that their plans and policies are the ones that will make this nation great again.

Now don't get me wrong, I am completely for cleaning up Washington D.C., and creating a better more efficient government. But I do not believe that our hope lies in any Senator, Congressman, Governor, or President. You see it wouldn't matter if George Washington or Ronald Reagan were in office, these men cannot save our nation. Our hope is not in policies, people, or politics. Our only true hope and possibility of change is found in One, that is God.

Men will fail, make poor decisions, and compromise; God cannot.

If we want to see America turn around, we must return to God. Not just any God; but God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, the Triune God of the Bible. We must turn our backs on our sin and follow Him. He is not just a hope, or the possibility of hope, or one hope out of many, He is our only hope.

"Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the Lord our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright." Psalm 20:6-8

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Living Apologetics: Speaking the Truth By Our Lifestyle

"But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light tot those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of the children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth- you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written,  'The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." Romans 2:17-24

In this passage the Apostle Paul vividly describes a people who had spiritual knowledge, but did not live a life that matched their talk. They had the right answers, they knew the law, they could recite portions of scripture, but their lives were a wreck.

It is easy to know the right stuff and not be right with God. You can know systematic theology, you can quote catechisms, but is your life in line with the Word of God. Do you know Him? Or just about Him? Their is a big difference.  It is not enough to be able to articulate good doctrine, we must allow those principles to become a part of us. Jesus Christ must invade every area of your existence.

I have recently been re-reading a book by a 20th century missionary named Geoffrey T. Bull. He spent a number of years in prison in China just after the Communist take over. His message is one of passion and reality. In the first chapter of his book, "The Sky Is Red", he deals with these issues that we have been looking at,

"The Gospel of Christ does not deal with matters superficially but fundamentally. It does not judge merely outward behavior but recognises the basic nature of things... The Christian is not allowed to be clever instead of being good. He is not permitted to state the case for Christianity unless he 'be an example of the believers.' In the end it is not cleverness that overcomes. Argument can silence a man but only the goodness of God can transform a man because it leads him to repentance... many a non-Christian today, is not waiting for a more explicit statement of Christian teaching but for a more dynamic presentation of Christian living." Geoffrey T. Bull

"The best apologetic for the Gospel is a soul on fire for God." Joe Brice

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Courageous: A Great Movie

This past weekend I had the opportunity to go and see the new Sherwood Pictures film Courageous. This is the newest film from the team that brought us Fireproof. I was amazed, blessed and challenged as I watched this incredible film. Although I'm not one to normally recommend going to the theatre, I would encourage you to go see this movie if they are still showing it in your area.

Much of today's entertainment is shallow, worthless and immoral. Most movies promote ungodly behavior and teach that truth is irrelevant. Hollywood has failed to produce films that are God-honoring, that are morally upright, and encourage strong families. This new Christian independent film though Courageous, is a square peg in a world of round holes.

Courageous tackles tough issues and handles them in a Biblical way. Godly fatherhood is exemplified and Biblical manhood is taught. Our families are falling apart in this nation, this film seeks to address that. Our only hope is God. We will not see the rebuilding of our family relationships without God at the center of our change. If we seek to change without Him and His Word, it will be superficial and worthless.

But be sure to remember that a good movie cant change your life. You must be willing and ready to experience change. You must have resolve and determination to be a different man or woman. You cannot be passive and spineless, you must be willing to be courageous and follow hard and difficult paths. But remember as you go to rely on Him that is stronger than all, for "Without Him you can do nothing."

Monday, October 10, 2011

Theodore Roosevelt on The Strenuous Life

I was recently reading a speech that Theodore Roosevelt gave in 1899 while he was Vice-President. The message of this speech was to not be lazy and apathetic in our lifestyles, but to live with resolve and determination. Although the speech was not a sermon, I believe the spiritual application for the Christian is great in Roosevelt's The Strenuous Life. We should not shirk from difficulty or hardship in our stand for the kingdom of God. Here are some excerpts from that speech.

"I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of strenuous life; the life of toil and effort; of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success that comes, not to the man who desires more easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.

"A life of ignoble ease, a life of that peace which springs merely  from lack either or of desire or of power to strive after great things, is as little worthy of a nation as of an individual... Who among you would teach your boys that ease, that peace is to be the first consideration in their eyes- to be the
ultimate goal after which they strive.

"We do not admire the man of timid peace. We admire the man who embodies victorious effort; the man who never wrongs his neighbor, who is prompt to help a friend; but who has those virile qualities necessary to win in the stern strife of actual life. It is hard to fail; but it is worse never to have tried to succeed. In this life we get nothing save by effort.

"A mere life of ease is not in the end a very satisfactory life; and, above all, it is a life which ultimately unfits those who follow it for serious work in the world."

"Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." 2 Timothy 2:3

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Placebo: Exposing the Farce of Cultural Relevancy

Placebo - Any harmless substance given to humor a patient or as a test in controlled experiments.

Go into the average American church on any given Sunday morning and you will come face to face with a fleshly driven religion. The music is orchestrated so as to appeal to your senses, and cause you ultimately to worship the music and not God. Film clips from the latest Hollywood blockbusters are shown during the message to appeal to carnal church members. The dress of the congregants is not holy, but selfish and fleshly. The preaching occasionally can become a little racy and crass in its verbal content causing you to sit up straight in your seat. The 21st century professing church is worldly and sensual, and this is sin.

Long ago a Scottish preacher by the name of Andrew Bonar said, "I looked for the church and I found it in the world, I looked for the world, and alas, I found it in the church." It is almost unbelievable to imagine that Bonar wrote this well over a century ago. We often look at the past through rose colored lenses, but these halcyon imaginations are far from the truth. The Apostle Paul dealt with these very issues when he instructed the Roman Christians, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind." (Romans 12:2)

I believe that too often we are content in this world. We get too comfortable and at home here. Paul said, "Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth." (Colosians 3:2) We are so mesmerized by this world's system that we try to lure the unconverted in to our churches through worldliness. We formulate plans, we create methods, we institute programs; but in the end all of our ingenuity proves fruitless. We try to be contagious Christians, but all we do is make the world sick.

Some preachers get tattoos and piercings so that they can relate to a certain type of crowd. Others try with all of their might to be cool and to fit in with society at large. The mentality is to be like the world to win the world; but my question would be is what are we winning them to? Are we winning them to a pseudo-Christianity. A system that looks sort of like the real thing but is actually a fake. Are we offering society a harmless substance just to humor them? We are passing out medicine that is useless, that has no potency.

Jesus never preached that the gospel was harmless. He spoke as if the truth was dangerous. He said He didn't come to bring peace but a fire and a sword. In Acts when Peter preached at Pentecost the people were pricked in their hearts at Peter's words. This was not some poke with a pin, this literally means they were stabbed by the truth they had heard. The writer of the Book of Hebrews similarly states, "The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Christianity isn't harmless, its dangerous.

The saintly 19th century preacher Robert Murray McCheyne, once explained what the world should actually be attracted to Christianity by. He wrote, " I see a man cannot be a faithful minister, until he preaches Christ for Christ's sake- until he gives up striving to attract people to himself, and seeks only to attract them to Christ."

You see the subtle danger of all of our methodology, is that we imply Christ is not enough of an attraction for the world. Christ needs some help. So we add bowling alleys to our churches. We take the teens to Six Flags. We have church beach parties. We have rock and roll concerts for our worship services. It seems we think Christ needs our help. But I have news for you, He doesn't need our help. Christ will never stand beside a plus-sign.

Which one of these methods did the early church apply? They did not need lights, and noise, and entertainment; they had something far better, they had the Holy Ghost. I believe we have to employ these sideshows because far too often we don't have the main attraction within our midst.

Our modern conception of relevance is a farce. Biblical relevancy is outmoded today, but I believe a return to it is necessary. Christ and the early church never offered the world the same life they already had just a sanitized version. They offered the new birth, an entire overhaul of ones being. Birth is the most life altering and traumatic event of every humans life. Everything changes. Environment. Food. Goals. Lifestyle. When a baby is born its entire life is turned upside down. I believe Christ used this illustration in John 3, not superfluously, He was completely serious. He meant no hyperbole, He knew what He was saying.

When Christianity invades a man or woman's life it greatly alters their entire existence. We are not saved to remain the same individual we were before conversion. We are saved so that God can make us like Christ, not so we can be cool. The more Christlike we are the greater witness we are to this dying world. When we assimilate with the world in our evangelism, we are saying Christ is a nice option, a nice additive. The world is given the placebo but remains sick. This new found medicine humors them, but they are never changed.

We must stop offering this world happiness, prosperity, blessing, contentment, and friends; and begin offering the truth. The 18th century preacher John Wesley traveled up and down England's countryside preaching the Gospel on the streets. Everywhere that he went he offered one thing, it wasn't heaven, it wasn't money, it wasn't happiness. Time and time again throughout his journals he says that he offered Christ to his crowds.

Lets stop offering a placebo to the world and start offering Christ.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Learning From the Faithful: Ian Thomas

CHRIST HIMSELF THE CONTENT OF CHRISTIAN FAITH - Ian Thomas

There is something, which makes Christianity more than a religion, more than an ethic, and more than the idle dream of the sentimental idealist. It is this something, which makes it relevant to each one of us right now as a contemporary experience. It is the fact that Christ Himself is the very life content of the Christian faith. It is He who makes it "tick." "Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it" (I Thessalonians 5:24). The One who calls you is the One who does that to which He calls you. "For it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). He is Himself the very dynamic of all His demands.

Christ did not die simply that you might be saved from a bad conscience, or even to remove the stain of past failure, but to "clear the decks" for divine action. You have been told that Christ died to save you. This is gloriously true in a very limited, though vital sense. In Romans 5:10 we read, "If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." The Lord Jesus Christ therefore ministers to you in two distinct ways - He reconciles you to God by His death, and He saves you by His life.

This, however, is but the beginning of the story, "for if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, (now an accomplished fact,) we shall be saved (as a continuing process) by His life" (Romans 5:10). The glorious fact of the matter is this no sooner has God reconciled to Himself the man who has responded to His call, than He re-imparts to him, as a forgiven sinner, the presence of the Holy Spirit, and this restoration to him of the Holy Spirit constitutes what the Bible calls regeneration, or new birth. Titus 3:5 and 6, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour."

From: The Saving Life of Christ, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House. ©1961

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Oswald Chambers On Purity

"None can make themselves pure by obeying laws. Purity is not a question of doing things rightly, but of the doer on the inside being right. Purity is difficult to define; it is best thought of as a state of heart just like the heart of our Lord Jesus Christ...

Jesus Christ demands that purity be explicit as well as implicit-that is, my actual conduct, the actual chastity of bodily life, the actual chastity of my mind, is to be beyond the censure of Almighty God-not beyond the censure of other people, that would produce Pharisaism; I can always deceive others. Jesus Christ has undertaken by the redemption to put in me a heart that is so pure that God can see nothing to censure in it. That is the marvel of the redemption-that Jesus Christ can give me a new heredity of the Holy Spirit, and if it is there, says Jesus, it will work out in actual history." 

Studies In the Sermon on the Mount Pg.22-23  Oswald Chambers

Monday, May 9, 2011

Boldly Pure Part 2

"Those are not chaste that are not so in spirit as well as body." Matthew Henry

April 25 I made a post about purity, since then I have had many other thoughts on this subject. I believe the Lord wants us as His children to be very serious about this issue. The world around us is brazenly impure but we must be boldly pure, inside and outside.

I believe that their are four components or principles that we must study when we speak of purity. Though society says that purity is the stuff of fairy tales, the Bible says otherwise. Christians are the "called out ones", called out of what? the world. We have been sanctified, set apart from this worlds system. We are not to be conformed or molded to the culture we live in, we are to be made like Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Principles of Purity

Spiritual Purity- Throughout the Old Testament prophets, the nation of Israel is likened to an unfaithful spouse. When she we would go after other God's, the prophets speaking by God's command, pronounced such behavior as spiritual adultery. They had no fidelity, no concern for promises and vows they had made.

In the book of James we are told to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. The world wants to stain us, it wants to see the the name of our God shamed, but we must not give them occasion to. We must as the bride of Christ be faithful to the Bridegroom. We must continually seek to be spiritually pure.

Physical Purity- If you are unmarried I want you to get a hold of this; if God wills it, and He probably does, somewhere on this globe right now, you have a spouse He is preparing for you. Your mission in life should be to be faithful to that man or woman, right now though you may not even know them.In all of your words, actions, and looks remember that you have a spouse that you must honor. Your love for that man or woman must be birthed now.

Recently the Lord has been teaching me that our lives speak volumes. The way we look, what we wear, our faces, our stride, our actions. You are a billboard; what are you advertising? When people look at you do they see an advertisement for you? Does the way you live scream, look at me? Or when people look at you do they see Christ? If we possess physical purity we will never attract people to ourselves, we will always point them to our Savior.

Mental Purity- Our Lord touched on this subject in Matthew 5. He took the issue of adultery which had primarily been viewed as a physical issue,and challenged us in the realm of our thoughts. Our Lord commanded, not suggested, that our thought life be brought under subjection to His Lordship.

Our mind must be as chaste as our dress. You must be a virgin in thought as well as deed. It is not enough to talk of waiting for our spouse in merely a physical sense, this waiting must also permeate our thought life. Purity isn't only about not kissing before marriage, it's also about becoming holy in all of your thinking. Take every thought captive to obey Christ.

Emotional Purity- In this issue of purity we must consider the emotional aspect also. Many a young person has allowed themselves to become attached or infatuated with another individual, but this is also a breach of purity. It can be easy to let our emotions run wild, but we must rein them in and have control over them. Remember temperance or self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. (Gal. 5)

As Christians we are representatives of a marriage union between the Bridegroom Christ and the Bride, the church or Christians. This union is to be pure and holy, set apart from this world and sin. In our individual lives if we live in an impure way we are misrepresenting the Christ/church relationship. The name of our God is then blasphemed among the world because of us. (Ref. Romans 2:24)

Let us be sanctified, set apart to our Lord's holy will.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Learning From the Faithful: Leonard Ravenhill


I have recently been reading Mack Tomlinson's biography of Leonard Ravenhill called "In Light of Eternity." I have been blessed and challenged as I have come to know and understand this man better. My Dad introduced me to Ravenhill many years ago through his books, and ever since I have appreciated his books and audio sermons. If you are unfamiliar with Ravenhill you would do well to acquaint yourself with his ministry.

This article was originally a chapter in Ravenhill's book "America Is Too Young To Die". This was written over thirty years ago but the principles remain the same.

Picture of a Prophet- By Leonard Ravenhill

The prophet in his day is fully accepted of God and totally rejected by men.

Years back, Dr. Gregory Mantle was right when he said, "No man can be fully accepted until he is totally rejected." The prophet of the Lord is aware of both these experiences. They are his "brand name."

The group, challenged by the prophet because they are smug and comfortably insulated from a perishing world in their warm but untested theology, is not likely to vote him "Man of the year" when he refers to them as habituates of the synagogue of Satan!

The prophet comes to set up that which is upset. His work is to call into line those who are out of line! He is unpopular because he opposes the popular in morality and spirituality. In a day of faceless politicians and voiceless preachers, there is not a more urgent national need than that we cry to God for a prophet! The function of the prophet, as Austin-Sparks once said, "has almost always been that of recovery."

The prophet is God's detective seeking for a lost treasure. The degree of his effectiveness is determined by his measure of unpopularity. Compromise is not known to him.
He has no price tags.
He is totally "otherworldly."
He is unquestionably controversial and unpardonably hostile.
He marches to another drummer!
He breathes the rarefied air of inspiration.
He is a "seer" who comes to lead the blind.
He lives in the heights of God and comes into the valley with a "thus saith
the Lord."
He shares some of the foreknowledge of God and so is aware of
impending judgment.
He lives in "splendid isolation."
He is forthright and outright, but he claims no birthright.
His message is "repent, be reconciled to God or else...!"
His prophecies are parried.
His truth brings torment, but his voice is never void.
He is the villain of today and the hero of tomorrow.
He is excommunicated while alive and exalted when dead!
He is dishonored with epithets when breathing and honored with
epitaphs when dead.
He is a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, but few "make the grade" in his class.
He is friendless while living and famous when dead.
He is against the establishment in ministry; then he is established as a saint
by posterity.
He eats daily the bread of affliction while he ministers, but he feeds the Bread of
Life to those who listen.
He walks before men for days but has walked before God for years.
He is a scourge to the nation before he is scourged by the nation.
He announces, pronounces, and denounces!
He has a heart like a volcano and his words are as fire.
He talks to men about God.
He carries the lamp of truth amongst heretics while he is lampooned by men.
He faces God before he faces men, but he is self-effacing.
He hides with God in the secret place, but he has nothing to hide in
the marketplace.
He is naturally sensitive but supernaturally spiritual.
He has passion, purpose and pugnacity.
He is ordained of God but disdained by men.

Our national need at this hour is not that the dollar recover its strength, or that we save face over the Watergate affair, or that we find the answer to the ecology problem. We need a God-sent prophet!

I am bombarded with talk or letters about the coming shortages in our national life: bread, fuel, energy. I read between the lines from people not practiced in scaring folk. They feel that the "seven years of plenty" are over for us. The "seven years of famine" are ahead. But the greatest famine of all in this nation at this given moment is a FAMINE OF THE HEARING OF THE WORDS OF GOD (Amos 8:11).

Millions have been spent on evangelism in the last twenty-five years. Hundreds of gospel messages streak through the air over the nation every day. Crusades have been held; healing meetings have made a vital contribution. "Come-outers" have "come out" and settled, too, without a nation-shaking revival. Organizers we have. Skilled preachers abound. Multi-million dollar Christian organizations straddle the nation. BUT where, oh where, is the prophet? Where are the incandescent men fresh from the holy place? Where is the Moses to plead in fasting before the holiness of the Lord for our moldy morality, our political perfidy, and sour and sick spirituality?

GOD'S MEN ARE IN HIDING UNTIL THE DAY OF THEIR SHOWING FORTH. They will come. The prophet is violated during his ministry, but he is vindicated by history.

There is a terrible vacuum in evangelical Christianity today. The missing person in our ranks is the prophet. The man with a terrible earnestness. The man totally otherworldly. The man rejected by other men, even other good men, because they consider him too austere, too severely committed, too negative and unsociable.

Let him be as plain as John the Baptist.
Let him for a season be a voice crying in the wilderness of modern theology and
stagnant "churchianity."
Let him be as selfless as Paul the apostle.
Let him, too, say and live, "This ONE thing I do."
Let him reject ecclesiastical favors.
Let him be self-abasing, nonself-seeking, nonself-projecting, nonself- righteous,
nonself-glorying, nonself-promoting.
Let him say nothing that will draw men to himself but only that which will move
men to God.
Let him come daily from the throne room of a holy God, the place where he has
received the order of the day.
Let him, under God, unstop the ears of the millions who are deaf through the
clatter of shekels milked from this hour of material mesmerism.
Let him cry with a voice this century has not heard because he has seen a vision
no man in this century has seen. God send us this Moses to lead us from the
wilderness of crass materialism, where the rattlesnakes of lust bite us and where
enlightened men, totally blind spiritually, lead us to an ever-nearing Armageddon.

God have mercy! Send us PROPHETS!


------


COPYRIGHT/REPRODUCTION LIMITATIONS: This data file is the sole property of Leonard Ravenhill. It may not be altered or edited in any way. It may be reproduced only in its entirety for circulation as "freeware," without charge. All reproductions of this data file must contain the copyright notice (i.e., "Copyright (C) 1994 by Leonard Ravenhill."). This data file may not be used without the permission of Leonard Ravenhill for resale or the enhancement of any other product sold. This includes all of its content with the exception of a few brief quotations. Please give the following source credit: Copyright (C) 1994 by Leonard Ravenhill, Lindale Texas - http://www.ravenhill.org

Monday, May 2, 2011

From My Bookshelf - Who Put Jesus On the Cross

Who Put Jesus on the Cross? And Other Questions of the Christian Faith

This past weekend I read this incredible book by A.W. Tozer. I have long appreciated Tozer's books, ever since ten or twelve years ago when my Dad and I read "The Pursuit of God" together. This book is a collection of sermons of Tozer's. It is interesting to note that the issues and problems Tozer's was addressing well over half a century ago, are the same things we are facing today. It is a prime example that times may change but men and women do not.

Some of my favorite chapters were titled, "Are There Shortcuts to the Beauty of Holiness?", "How Can a Moral Man Find Saving Truth?", "Do You Know About the Next Chapter After the Last?", and "Who Put Jesus On the Cross?".

In a chapter on the rich young ruler Tozer's insights were insightful. He wrote, "Let me tell you what a moral man really is: he is good enough to deceive himself and bad enough to damn himself!

"This young man did not realize the danger of being a moral man... He had just enough religion to delude himself and deceive himself. He was just good enough to make himself think that he was all right, to answer that he had kept God's laws.

"The very fact that he could remember that he had kept any of God's laws disqualified him instantly for eternal life. He trusted in his own moral defense rather than acknowledge his sin and his need."

In another chapter he writes, ".. the most intolerant book in all the wide world is the Bible, the inspired Word of God, and the most intolerant teacher that ever addressed himself to an audience was the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

"On the other hand, Jesus Christ demonstrated the vast difference between being charitable and being tolerant. Jesus Christ was so charitable that in His great heart He took in all the people in the world and was willing to die even for those who hated Him."

This book is truly another one of Tozer's gems. I would recommend it to anyone as Tozer at his very best.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Learning From the Faithful: Charles G. Finney

I want to begin posting a classic article from great preachers of the past, hopefully weekly. Our day is a day of forgetting our fathers of the faith, and I want to be sure that we don't. I believe we need more people in our churches who read the writings of men of the past, for within these storehouses are great treasures. Those who have come before us, have wisdom they would impart to us through their books and articles if we would stop and take the time to listen and understand. Don't give up on these classic Christian writings just because they may sometimes be a little difficult to understand. Apply yourself and learn from men and women who knew God. Though they were not perfect in all that they did, just remember that neither are we. We have inconsistencies and shortcomings ourselves. God uses frail, weak men, and then and only then will He get all of the glory. Take some time, stretch your mind, and learn from the faithful.




PREACHING SO AS TO CONVERT NOBODY.

BY PRESIDENT CHAS. G. FINNEY.
THE INDEPENDENT.
NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 7, 1871


The design of this article is to propound several rules by a steady conformity to any one of which a man may preach so as not to convert anybody. It is generally conceded at the present day that the Holy Spirit converts souls to Christ by means of truth adapted to that end. It follows that a selfish preacher will not skillfully adapt means to convert souls to Christ, for this is not his end.

Rule 1st. Let your supreme motive be to secure your own popularity; then, of course, your preaching will be adapted to that end, and not to convert souls to Christ.
2d. Aim at pleasing, rather than at converting your hearers.
3d. Aim at securing for yourself the reputation of a beautiful writer.
4th. Let your sermons be written with a high degree of literary finish.
5th. Let them be short, occupying in the reading not to exceed from twenty to thirty minutes.
6th. Let your style be flowery, ornate, and quite above the comprehension of the common people.
7th. Be sparing of thought, lest your* sermon contain truth enough to convert a soul.
8th. Lest your sermon should make a saving impression, announce no distinct propositions or heads, that will be remembered, to disturb the consciences of your hearers.
9th. Make no distinct points, and take no disturbing issues with the consciences of your hearers, lest they remember these issues, and become alarmed about their souls.
10th. Avoid a logical division and subdivision of your subject, lest you should too thoroughly instruct your people.
11th. Give your sermon the form and substance of a flowing, beautifully written, but never-to-be-remembered essay; so that your hearers will say "it was a beautiful sermon," but can give no further account of it.
12th. Avoid preaching doctrines that are offensive to the carnal mind, lest they should say of you, as they did of Christ, "This is a hard saying. Who can hear it?" and that you are injuring your influence.
13th. Denounce sin in the abstract, but make no allusion to the sins of your present audience.
14th. Keep the spirituality of God's holy law, by which is the knowledge of sin, out of sight, lest the sinner should see his lost condition and flee from the wrath to come.
15th. Preach the Gospel as a remedy, but conceal or ignore the fatal disease of the sinner.
16th. Preach salvation by grace; but ignore the condemned and lost condition of the sinner, lest he should understand what you mean by grace, and feel his need of it.
17th. Preach Christ as an infinitely amiable and good-natured being; but ignore those scathing rebukes of sinners and hypocrites which so often made his hearers tremble.
18th. Avoid especially preaching to those who are present. Preach about sinners, and not to them. Say they, and not you, lest any one should make a personal and saving application of your subject.
19th. Aim to make your hearers pleased with themselves and pleased with you, and be careful not to wound the feelings of any one.
20th. Preach no searching sermons, lest you convict and convert the worldly members of your church.
21st. Avoid awakening uncomfortable memories by reminding your hearers of their past sins.
22d. Do not make the impression that God commands your hearers now and here to obey the truth.
23d. Do not make the impression that you expect your hearers to commit themselves upon the spot and give their hearts to God.
24th. Leave the impression that they are expected to go away in their sins, and to consider the matter at their convenience.
25th. Dwell much upon their inability to obey, and leave the impression that they must wait for God to change their natures.
26th. Make no appeals to the fears of sinners; but leave the impression that they have no reason to fear.
27th. Say so little of Hell that your people will infer that you do not believe in its existence.
28th. Make the impression that, if God is as good as you are, He will send no one to Hell.
29th. Preach the love of God, but ignore the holiness of His love, that will by no means clear the impenitent sinner.
30th. Often present God in his parental love and relations; but ignore His governmental and legal relations to His subjects, lest the sinner should find himself condemned already and the wrath of God abiding on him.
31st. Preach God as all mercy, lest a fuller representation of His character should alarm the consciences of your hearers.
32d. Try to convert sinners to Christ without producing any uncomfortable convictions of sin.
33d. Flatter the rich, so as to repel the poor, and you will convert none of either class.
34th. Make no disagreeable allusions to the doctrines of self-denial, cross-bearing, and crucifixion to the world, lest you should convict and convert some of your churchmembers.
35th. Admit, either expressly or impliedly, that all men have some moral goodness in them; lest sinners should understand that they need a radical change of heart, from sin to holiness.
36th. Avoid pressing the doctrine of total moral depravity; lest you should offend, or even convict and convert, the moralist.
37th. Do not rebuke the worldly tendencies of the church, lest you should hurt their feelings, and finally convert some of them.
38th. Should any express anxiety about their souls, do not probe them by any uncomfortable allusion to their sin and ill-desert; but encourage them to join the church at once, and exhort them to assume their perfect safety within the fold.
39th. Preach the love of Christ not as enlightened benevolence, that is holy, just, and sin-hating; but as a sentiment, an involuntary and undiscriminating fondness.
40th. Be sure not to represent religion as a state of loving self-sacrifice for God and souls; but rather as a free and easy state of self-indulgence. By thus doing you will prevent sound conversions to Christ, and convert your hearers to yourself.
41st. So select your themes and so present them as to attract and flatter the wealthy, aristocratic, self-indulgent extravagant, pleasure-seeking classes, and you will not convert any of them to the cross-bearing religion of Christ.
42d. Be time-serving, or you will endanger your salary; and, besides, if you speak out and are faithful, you may convert somebody.
43d. Do not preach with a divine unction, lest your preaching make a saving impression.
44th. To avoid this, do not maintain a close walk with God, but rely upon your learning and study.
45th. Lest you should pray too much, engage in light reading and worldly amusements.
46th. That your people may not think you in earnest to save their souls, and, as a consequence, heed your preaching, encourage church-fairs, lotteries, and other gambling and worldly expedients to raise money for church purposes.
47th. If you do not approve of such things, make no public mention of your disapprobation, lest your church should give them up, and turn their attention to saving souls and be saved themselves.
48th. Do not rebuke extravagance in dress, lest you should uncomfortably impress your vain and worldly churchmembers.
49th. Lest you should be troubled with revival scenes and labors, encourage parties, pic-nics, excursions, and worldly amusements, so as to divert attention from the serious work of saving souls.
50th. Ridicule solemn earnestness in pulling sinners out of the fire, and recommend, by precept and example, it jovial, fun-loving religion, and sinners will have little respect for your serious preaching.
51st. Cultivate a fastidious taste in your people, by avoiding all disagreeable allusions to the last judgment and final retribution.
52d. Treat such uncomfortable doctrines as obsolete and out of place in these days of Christian refinement.
53d. Do not commit yourself to much-needed reforms, lest you should compromise your popularity and injure your influence. Or you may make some branch of outward reform a hobby, and dwell so much upon it as to divert attention from the great work of converting souls to Christ.
54th. So exhibit religion as to encourage the selfish pursuit of it. Make the impression upon sinners that their own safety and happiness is the supreme motive for being religious.
55th. Do not lay much stress upon the efficacy and necessity of prayer, lest the Holy Spirit should be poured out upon you and the congregation, and sinners should be converted.
56th. Make little or no impression upon your hearers, so that you can repeat your old sermons often without its being noticed.
57th. If your text suggest any alarming thought, pass lightly over it, and by no means dwell upon and enforce it.
58th. Avoid all illustrations, repetitions, and emphatic sentences, that may compel your people to remember what you say.
59th. Avoid all heat and earnestness in your delivery, lest you make the impression that you really believe what you say.
60th. Address the imagination, and not the conscience, of your hearers.
61st. Make it your great aim to be personally popular with all classes of your hearers.
62d. Be tame and timid in presenting the claims of God, as would become you in presenting your own claims,
63d. Be careful not to testify from your own personal experience of the power of the Gospel, lest you should produce the conviction upon your hearers that you have something which they need.
64th. See that you say nothing that will appear to any of your hearers to mean him or her, unless it be something flattering.
65th. Encourage church sociables, and attend them yourself, because they tend so strongly to levity as to compromise Christian dignity and sobriety, and thus paralyze the power of your preaching.
66th. Encourage the cultivation of the social in so many ways as to divert the attention of yourself and your churchmembers from the infinite guilt and danger of the unconverted among you.
67th. In those sociables talk a little about religion, but avoid any serious appeal to the heart and conscience of those who attend, lest you should discourage their attendance, always remembering that they do not go to socials to be earnestly dealt with in regard to their relations to God. In this way you will effectually so employ yourself and churchmembers as that your preaching will not convert anybody.
The experience of ministers who have steadily adhered to any of the above rules will attest the soul-destroying efficacy of such a course, and churches whose ministers have steadily conformed to any of these rules can testify that such preaching does not convert souls to Christ.
*original had two "your your" by mistake

Monday, April 25, 2011

Boldly Pure: Being Christlike In A Polluted Society

Look around at the world that surrounds you, and you will quickly perceive that purity is not in vogue. If you were to go to the average clothing store today you would probably not be able to describe most of the apparel their as pure. If you were to pick up a magazine at the checkout of your local store you would be unable to describe the images as chaste. If you were able to go inside the mind of the average American male you would find that many of his thoughts are anything but pure. Our world is brazenly impure; men, women and even children. Purity is old-fashioned these days. Talk of purity and decency today and you will be labelled a legalist, a puritan, and a bigot.

But as Christians our way of life should be drastically different from the pagan, antichrist culture we are surrounded by. But to often I am afraid that we Christians choose to synthesize our Christianity and the world. But this sort of assimilation is never supported by the Word of God. The Scriptures never tell us to take the Bible and the world and create a hybrid model. Instead the Word says, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father is... To keep oneself unstained from the world." The way I see it, is that this leaves absolutely no room for syncretism.

Pure, was defined by Noah Webster like this,

Pure- 1. Separate from all heterogeneous or extraneous matter; clear; free from mixture...

2. Free from moral defilement; without spot, not sullied or tarnished; incorrupt, undebased by moral turpitude; holy.

We see by these helpful descriptions of Mr. Websters, that to be pure is essentially to be sanctified or separate, from all things that would defile. Purity is really just holiness, and holiness is Jesus Christ. So in essence to be pure is to be Christlike. Christ was always pure in all of His actions and all of His thoughts.
Christ was without any spot or defilement, and He is beckoning to you and I to follow Him.

Purity is not about rules, it's about a person and that person is Jesus Christ. This is not about a list to follow, but a life to follow; the life that Christ lived while on earth. Purity and holiness are what Christ is. It wasn't something He learned to be, these are attributes of His, and the attributes of God are unchangeable.

Before we do anything we must ask ourselves, "Is this Christlike?" Are your thoughts pure, are they Christlike? Are your relationships pure, are they Christlike? Is your dress pure, is it Christlike? Purity is a decision. We must make the choice to be Christlike and not how our flesh and the world would have us to be.

In the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5:8 Christ says, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Notice that Jesus didn't say the pure on the outside, but that the pure on the inside were the blessed ones. He didn't say, "Wear this and you will be pure". Outward facades can be deceiving. Jesus always went to the heart first, and then when one has a pure heart that will in turn affect his outward lifestyle.

There is much I would like to say but for now I will leave at this. What do you think about these things?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Those Little Moments

"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

Last month I made a post called "The Monumental Mundane Moments of Life", recently I was listening to a sermon by Paul David Tripp which reminded me of the subject I covered there. He said,
"The character and direction of a life is not set in one or two big moments. The character of a life is set in ten thousand little moments. It's what you have lived in those little moments that shape how you will deal with the big moments of life."
Remember life is in the details.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Seeing Past Christian "Celebrities"

" A system of literature has grown up around the notion that Christianity may be proven by the fact that great men believe in Christ. If we can just get the story of a politician who believes in Christ, we spread it all over our magazines, "Senator So-and-so believes in Christ." The implication is that if he believes in Christ, then Christ must be all right. When did Jesus Christ have to ride on the coattail of a senator?

No, no my brother! Jesus Christ stands alone, unique and supreme, self-validating, and the Holy Spirit declares Him to be God's eternal Son. Let all the presidents and all the kings and queens, the senators, and the lords and ladies of the world, along with the great athletes and great actors-let them kneel at His feet and cry, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!"   A.W. Tozer

These words of Tozer's written well over half a century ago I believe are as timely as they were in his day. We live, just as he did, in a culture governed by celebrities. Whether it is athletes, movie stars, musicians, intellectuals, or politicians we are told how to live based on the elites opinions. They tell us what clothing we should where, the shoes that should be on our feet, the cars we should drive, the soda we should drink, the tools we should buy, and a host of other things. We gullible Americans then bite their bait and then are yanked around  by our cultures nasty hook.

While it should not surprise us that the world is filled with celebrity worshippers, it should come as somewhat of a shock that "idols" also exist in the world of Christendom. This is a shame to the name of Christ. When we idolize leaders we create an environment of disunity. The Church is supposed to be a community of believers collectively and individually working to advance the Kingdom of God. Be sure to note that, it is God's Kingdom we are to be advancing, not our own.

The Apostle Paul dealt with this very issue in the first chapter of 1 Corinthians. This church was divided and fighting amongst itself. What was the issue? They were quarreling over who it was they were to be following. One said, "I follow Paul", another "I follow Apollos", some said, "I follow Peter" and still others said, "I follow Christ." Paul then stresses rhetorically, "Is Christ divided?" There should not be this continually contentious party spirit within our ranks, the body should be one.

One of the greatest dangers of celebrity worship is graphically recounted again and again in the book of Judges. In this book we have God placing individuals in positions of leadership to guide and direct the nation of Israel. But the reoccurring problem in Judges is that the people only lived a certain way because their current leader commanded it. When the judge would die the people would return to their wickedness. When a new judge would rise up the people would "return to God."

This is the great danger of following after men and not being as the Bereans, searching the Word of God and heeding that Word. When we follow men we do what they do, we wear what they wear, we talk like they talk and essentially become clones of them. And when these men crumble so do we.

Now by way of clarification, I am not saying that we should not honor and respect men and women of God. We just must be sure  that we do not idolize them. When you look at men and women whom you admire, respect them and give them the honor they are due; but take a moment and look over their shoulder for behind them is a big God, to big for definition.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Francis Schaeffer and the Flaming Truth

"Historic Christianity, Biblical Christianity, believes that Christianity is not just doctrinal truth, but flaming truth."  Francis Schaeffer

In light of our recent discussions concerning Peter Enns and the growing concern about Rob Bell's aberrant theology, I found some insights from Francis Schaeffer very interesting. Forty years ago Schaeffer wrote a tiny book called "The Church Before the Watching World", what is intriguing about the small book is that the issues he discusses are identical to the challenges we still face today. Schaeffer spoke of the liberal theology that sprang up in Germany over two hundred years ago, and then evolved over time to give us liberal theologians such as Karl Barth. But the controversies of his day in many ways are still the controversies of our day. We have the same old liberalism just a new package. Read these comments of Schaeffer's written in 1971.

"The real difference between liberalism and Biblical Christianity is not a matter of scholarship but a matter of presuppositions."

"As Christians we say we believe in truth and in the practice of truth, and yet we face much untruth in the visible church. The problem is not new; error was present in the early church when councils were held to combat it. It was present in the medieval church until the Reformation reaffirmed the Biblical faith. And it is present today."

"Men today often take truth to be relative and thus look on Christian doctrine as quite unimportant, it is essential to remind ourselves that God does not look on the situation in the same way."

"In church history a cycle seems to recur: Living orthodoxy moves to dead orthodoxy and then to heterodoxy."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Square Pegs

Recently Texas Congressman Ron Paul spoke to a group of homeschool advocates in Iowa. He spoke of our governments Department of education officials and their goal of indoctrinating our young people. He said speaking of our public schools, “They don’t educate our kids, they indoctrinate our kids.” He described the government education system as a "propaganda machine.” He praised home educators saying, “What I’ve seen from you is an effort to counteract the propaganda machine...In public education they’re intimidated to be conformists and individuals taught at home are very adapted to expressing what they believe.” He also added his praise for the homeschool movements concern about law and faithfulness to our founding principles, Congressman Paul said, “The best thing that has come out of the home school movement is the respect you’re teaching about the rule of law and our Constitution.”

Homeschool grads can think outside of the box. We are different from our peers in the sense that we have not been reared by the system, that has spoon fed generations of American citizens with godlessness, atheism, humanism and secularism. We were taught that the beginning of all knowledge is the fear of God. We were taught that morals matter and that there is a standard to keep. We were taught that we are not random accidents of evolution,  but were created by a loving God. We were taught that history is not up for interpretation. That America was founded on Christian principles and in many cases by Christian men. Our education as homeschooled students was very different from those who attended the propaganda machine cleverly called a school.

We have been given much, we must not waste it. When our Lord told the parable of the talents there were two  who were faithful and one who was not. Interestingly the unfaithful servant did not squander his talent, he simply did nothing with it. We must not be an unfaithful steward. We must not consider ourselves better than those around us. Don't walk with your nose in the air. Instead take what you have been given and make good use of it. Don't look down on others, use the blessings that you have inherited to bless others.

In a world of round holes be a square peg.

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." 1 Peter 2:9

Ham and Enns: A Case of Biblical Truth and Scrambled Theology

By now most all of the world has probably heard of the controversy concerning Ken Ham being disinvited from the Great Homeschool Convention's Ohio and Pennsylvania conferences. The reason for this decision was Mr.Ham's comments about another speaker, Peter Enns. Ham merely gave the convention attendees a warning about some of Enn's curriculum and the dangerous things that it teaches. Enn's theology has been discussed by many others so I do not wish to give a critique here. But a brief study of Enn's beliefs clearly reveal that he holds to some rather heretical doctrine.

I am not here to defend Ken Ham, he doesn't need it, the Bible does this for him. His views on Genesis are Biblical, historical, and consistent. He has been accused of a wrong spirit and making nasty comments at the South Carolina convention, but I have a hard time believing this. I have seen Ken around half a dozen times at various AiG conferences, homeschool conventions, and the Creation Museum, and he is always gracious to those who differ from him in their beliefs. If some think that it is "nasty" to warn others of unorthodox doctrine,  I believe they would have to correct the Apostle Paul. Paul wasn't afraid to name name's when the situation called for it.

I believe this controversy is a defining crisis for the homeschooling movement. This is really not about a couple of speakers at a conference, this is about a much bigger issue. I see this as a debate not about creation and evolution, or young-earth and old-earth, this is essentially a debate of Biblical authority. Whose word are we going to trust? The clear, obvious, consistent words of Scripture; or the faulty, inconsistent views of man?

We need to take the Word of God and apply it to every single area of our lives. We must apply Biblical principles to our views not only of science, but also history, education, dress, church, gender roles, politics, economics and every other issue that we face.

The homeschool movement is at a crossroads. We stand with two roads before us, the way of man, and the ways of God. Will we make homeschooling merely an admirable educational avenue, or a Biblical one? Will we follow God's Word or our own? I see the need to focus not on homeschooling per se, but on the broader issue of Christian worldview. Within a Biblical framework public school is not really an option, but even further a truly consistent Christian worldview doesn't have room for Enn's style aberrant theology.

This is not about Ken Ham or Peter Enn's, this is about the dependability of God's Word. This is about truth and error. This is about right and wrong. I would encourage all Christian homeschoolers to evaluate their thinking and be very careful to be Biblically consistent in all areas of life. Build on the rock, not on the sand. The rock is not Ken Ham or Answers in Genesis, the rock is Jesus Christ, build on Him.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Homeschool Convention Mania

Spring is here. We have already had several thunderstorms. Some of our trees are beginning to bud and the birds are singing joyously outside my window. Although the past week has been unusually cold, I'm sure that spring has arrived, and I am glad that it has.

Homeschool convention season is also here. Homeschool conferences are beginning to happen all across the country and will be for the next few months. This is a good thing, for these meetings can be a great blessing. I well remember the first convention I went to over a decade ago. One of the keynote speakers was Richard "Little Bear" Wheeler. He was a lot of fun, some of you probably remember his messages. Over the years at different venues I have been able to hear many wonderful messages from many different speakers.

But while I have enjoyed these many conventions, I am somewhat concerned with some of the trends within the movement. Some of our "Greatest Show On Earth" style conferences are rather disappointing to me. When a homeschool convention is held it should not be akin to the circus coming to town. We should be less concerned with entertainment and more focused on challenging and exhorting those who have come. These are homeschool conventions not comedy clubs. What is even worse these conventions show up and after a weekend are gone. No support, no help, no lasting encouragement.

Another concern that I have is the softening of our Christian witness. These conventions should be devoted to providing consistent Biblical worldview training to the conference attendees. But sadly some conventions have chosen to deliberately invite those who do not profess Christianity, or those who clearly teach heterodoxy. This is wrong. The homeschool movement cannot and must not forsake a solid Biblical foundation. If we remove our foundation, you can be sure the entire structure will crumble.

If this "open mindedness" is done in the name of relevance we must think again. We do not become germane to a society by becoming like it. We are not called to be like the world to win the world. The Lord Jesus should be the only attraction, if He is not, I am afraid in most cases we will only be creating false converts.

Let me be perfectly clear I am not excited about the pagan homeschool movement, the Islamic homeschool movement or any other secular education movement. The answer is not homeschooling, the answer is Jesus Christ. We do not need more homeschoolers in general, this will only boost statistics. What we need are Christian families operating with a Biblical worldview to begin taking captive every aspect of their lives, from education to church roles and everything in between. Home education is not just a fun option its a worldview issue.

Another concern I have is when these conventions appear to be nothing more than a source of income. Bringing in thousands, attracting them with what they want, and garnering a lot of money. This is sad to me. I would rather have conventions much smaller and more focused on what matters. We should be less concerned with numbers and more concerned with faithfulness.

Things like the vendor hall are good, the products can be good, but don't buy like a consumer, buy like a connoisseur. Be careful and picky, and Biblically critical of products. Just because a book is at a home school convention does not not mean that it is good. Just because a curriculum is written by a professing Christian doesn't make it Biblical. To borrow a Ken Ham illustration, we need to put on our "Biblical glasses" and look at all that is around us through these lenses.

The Christian Home Education movement is very important to me. I was pulled out of school after the third grade by my newly saved parents, and was home schooled through graduation. To me homeschooling is not optional, its really mandatory. Education is not neutral, and it is first and foremost a parents duty, not the schools, not the churches.

I am excited about the future. I know their are those who are fighting for truth within our ranks. The Christian homeschool movement must hold fast to that which is good. We must not become a worthless, spineless group that has no standard. Truth is unchanging and we must hold to it with all that we have. It is my prayer that this movement will be careful to bring God glory and honor, not disdain. Let us not be concerned with filling chairs and our wallets, lets fill men and women with the Bread of Life.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Monumental Mundane Moments of Life

Life is made up of seemingly little choices. The decisions that one daily makes create the environment of ones soul. When someone faces a terrifying situation they do not act bravely on account of impulse, but because of previous, individual, calculated responses. Courage is not born on the bloody battlefield, but in the little mundane moments of life. One does not speak with truth in business, if he has not daily lived honestly. If one is not kind to those closest to him, how could he ever love his enemy? If one does not speak kindly and gently to those in his own house, he will respond harshly when defending his faith. Just as the woodcarver creates a masterpiece cut by cut; so every man and woman becomes a a specimen of good character shave by shave, in the workshop of every day life. We become faithful in the little things and then are commissioned with greater things.

I love to read the stories of men and women who did heroic deeds. Those who went out on a limb, to do a  daring but noble task. But what we must understand is that instead of always seeking the big and glamorous tasks, we find that in God's economy, faithfulness in the details of life is of the utmost importance. You don't have to go to Africa to get closer to God, He is where you are. He looks at your faithfulness at home in your family, just as much as any missionary endeavor. We have romanticised the adventure aspect to the extent that some believe they are not fulfilling God's will if they are not traipsing through the jungle. But do not forget God's will is not so much about location or vocation, but sanctification, that is Godly character.(1 Thes. 4:3)

I do believe that we need to restore the lost dimension of heroism to our Christian experience and vocabulary. Bravery and courage, valor and chivalry need to be recovered and given their lofty position once again. They need to become a vital component of our being. But something that we need to realize is that acting with faithfulness in the common is the ultimate example of heroism. Fathers and mothers fulfilling their God given parental duties is heroic. Husbands and wives living a Godly marriage is heroic. Sons and daughters fulfilling filial duties is heroic. Brothers and sisters living in kindness and respect is heroic.

Make right choices in your everyday life. Do the hard things right in your home. Be faithful in the little things and you will be given more things to do. Do not neglect the common things for the daring enterprises. The supposed dull, common-place aspects of life are the most important. Don't seek the spotlight, just be faithful.

The parable of the talents in Matthew 25 illustrates this well. In this story the master gives his servants talents, or money. He gave to them in accordance with what they were capable of handling. Of course two act wisely and honor their Lord with their deeds, but one acts dreadfully foolish. When the master returns he commends those who acted wisely, but he sternly rebukes the lazy one. Here in this parable we are clearly being instructed to be faithful in the tasks that we are given. The problem with many of us though is that we are always seeking out something to do, completely forgetting the work to be done right around us, in our homes, in our hearts.

Their is an old adage that says, "Battles are won on the drill-field not the battlefield." The wisdom of this sage statement is obvious. If an army goes to war but it is untrained, undisciplined, and unorganized they will fail on the field of battle. The fight will be chaotic and confusing, resulting in complete decimation. But if an army goes into the fight well-trained, disciplined, and organized they will be a formidable foe. Preparation makes all the difference.

Be faithful in the little things. Life is in the details. God is surrounding you with chisels, don't stop them from chipping away at you. Let the circumstances around you carve you into that good specimen of character. Don't neglect the so-called mundane aspects of your days. Embrace them for they truly are the stuff of life.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

No White Flags Allowed

"Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks." Phillips Brooks

One of the most fascinating lives of the English Reformation saga, is the tale of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. While controversy and sometimes grave mistakes characterize this man's life, I believe he is a giant of Christian history. Primarily because his life was defined by humanness and even weakness. Sometimes we can look at the leaders of Christian history and naively believe that they were perfect, but they were not. They too were fallen sons of Adam just like you and me.

Cranmer was Archbishop when Queen Mary(better known as Bloody Mary) came to the throne. Of course his staunchly anti-Catholic stance put him at odds with the pro-Catholic monarch. To make a long story short, Cranmer was condemned to die because of his beliefs. The Queen and her henchmen set about trying to draw a recantation out of Thomas. Unfortunately Cranmer signed the papers. But because he was a reformation ringleader, repentance or not the authorities were going to make an example out of him. Although he had complied with their wishes they decided to still burn him.

It was 1556 and a heretical Catholic preacher was proclaiming Cranmer's conversion, just before Cranmer would die. After this sordid address Cranmer was asked to publicly profess his conversion. The good Archbishop rose to his feet and spoke to the crowd that had gathered for the days events. After a brief exhortation, Cranmer boldly proclaimed that he had been wrong, he said that he should never have submitted to their vain pleadings, all to his executors surprise. He was then rushed to the stake and the fire was lit. Cranmer reached his right hand out into the flames saying, "This unworthy right hand." This was the hand that had signed his recantation. And so died a flawed but noble man.

I was recently reading an article that spoke of the growing recalcitrance of Christian young people to engage in spiritual battle. The author relates what one blogger thought, "Young evangelicals are tired of the culture wars... we're ready to make peace." She also adds, "The world is changing and we are changing with it."

I think she is right this is characteristic of churched young people today. But while she views this as a good thing, I see it as a negative thing. It is easy to become indifferent and dangerously passive, letting things go unchallenged because we desire peace. We don't like bold confrontation and opposition. We have an incongruous idea that we will somehow make a difference by conforming. But this wont work. Blood and sweat, bruises and cuts are the ingredients of the Christian life.

A Christian can never ever lay down his or her sword. In the words of General Douglas MacArthur, "Their is no substitute for victory." Surrender is not an option, for when you surrender you are agreeing to play by their rules. When the world comes and demands that you submit to their every whim, you must draw your sword and stand your ground. Do not be intimidated by their arguments for in the power of Christ we are more than conqueror's. Do not depend on your own impotent power, but trust the One who can give you strength to overcome all obstacles.

The account of David and Goliath is a prime example of being strong in the Lord's power and not your own. When David rode into the camp that fateful day and perceived the precarious situation the armies of Israel were in, he wanted to act. But he was accused by his brother of being a nosey, impudent little boy. In haughty tones he ridiculed David saying, "Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle."(1 Samuel 17:28) Notice how Eliab, David's oldest brother, mocks him, accuses him and belittles him. He tries to make David feel bad and feel helpless, but thankfully it didn't work.

Interestingly Israel was playing by the rules given to them by their enemy. They let the pagan Goliath set the terms of engagement. Of course we all know the rest of the story. Later in the day David faces Goliath and overcomes him. But how? I think it is important to remember that David perceived Goliaths brazen stand as a direct assault against God's Holy name. He refused to allow this onslaught to continue and chose to fight. David had no concerns whatsoever about the apparent disadvantage that he had. David knew that height and strength, and even a proven history as a champion, were weak credentials compared to his. Ironically David viewed Goliath as the one with the handicap. For when he looked at Goliath in all of his ominous grandeur, he remembered that behind him was a big God, far bigger  than any giant.

The application for us is great. Just as Eliab mocked, so the world around us will mock, but do not be dismayed. Press on! When the tasks before you appear impossible, press on! Remember Romans 8, a life lived in the Spirits power results in overwhelming victory over the enemy. Without Christ you are powerless, but Jesus said that He would always be with us.

So don't give up. Don't lay your sword down. Be assured the gates of hell will not prevail against the church of God. "Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong." (1 Corinthians 16:13)

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Covenanters

Their is a fair sunshine piercing through the clouds
As a man rises up before the growing crowd.
Aye, and what a bonnie tune that stalwart trills
"Farewell sweet believing, now welcome Zion's hills".

Men hunted and harried chased 'cross the Scottish moors,
By 'Clavers and his demon host in holy war.
Spiritual claymores drawn they fought to the end,
They were no feckless cowards, their knees would not bend.

Their was Guthrie's raw stand for no compromise,
Rutherford's lovely grandeur in poetic lines,
Their was young Hugh Mackail and Miss Margaret too
Good youth who stood up for what they knew to be true.

Death was better than to be found compromised,
Scaffolds couldn't scare them for they'd already died.
Their life was hid with Christ in God, just like Paul,
They would wear the rope and into Heaven's arms fall.

Men on Christ dependent, fragile and not great,
Men like that we need them to step up to the plate.
Willing to lay all on the line, take the loss,
Follow Christ and carry that rugged, cruel cross.

For "Christ's Crown and Covenant" their banner read,
They marched into battle with Jesus at their head.
With great conviction and such unbending creed
A chosen generation and a holy breed.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Few The Brave The Covenanters

"...Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes." Nehemiah 4:14

The 17th century was an intriguing one hundred year period. In this century we were given the King James Bible and Bunyan's classic "Pilgrim's Progress". In the 1600's Jamestown was established in the colonies and just over a decade later the Pilgrims journeyed to America and established Plymouth colony. The Puritans and Winthrop also came and created their "city on a hill'. In the 17th century the Puritan movement grew in England and theological giant reigned in the pulpits. Shakespeare was still writing his plays and Milton was turning out his immortal poems. Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan stalwarts were marching to the beat of liberty from tyranny. It was truly an amazing century.

But I want to introduce to you another sturdy group of stalwarts living in the 17th century, not in England, not in America, but in the land of freedom, Scotland. These men and women hailed from one of this worlds greatest countries. Known for their bravery, and their courage, their intense hatred for all tyranny and their love for liberty, these tenacious Scots deserve to be honored today. Welcome the Scottish Covenanters.

In the mid-1600's their was much political and religious turmoil in the fair land of Scotland. Charles II, a tyrannical despot, was king and the Covenanters were adamantly opposed to his self-proclaimed brazen position as leader of the church. These brave Scottish Christians fought valiantly the tyranny of a corrupt king. Many of these men were turned out of their pulpits, forced to gather in the fields these saints met in the open air to worship God.

These men were not dissidents or anarchists. They had no disrespect for civil authority, but thoroughly despised the thought of the church being ruled by the government. These men believed that King Jesus was the only true Lord of the church, not some temporal monarch.

These Covenanters were willing to die for these truths. They realized that truth was far more important than even life. They would go to the scaffold jubilantly knowing they had done what was right. They would go to
their death's with a gritty resolve, eyes set on the goal, Jesus Christ. They were unafraid of kings and soldiers knowing they were accountable to a far greater authority. They lived and died with unprecedented bravery for the cause of true undefiled Christianity. They did not shrink from hardship, instead they united or covenanted together, creating a unique harmony between them. Within their ranks were valiant men, women, ad children all devoted to the cause of truth.

One was a man by the name of James Guthrie, known as "the short little man who could not bow". He boldly stood for the cause of Christ never compromising, even so that he would save his neck. Another in sort of a "Nathan Hale spirit" proclaimed, "If I had many worlds I would lay them all down, as now I do my life for Christ and His cause."  Their one desire was as the young Hugh Mackail expressed, to "witness a good confession". They wanted all to know their faith was in God, and torture, imprisonment, and even death could not rob them of that assurance. Some who were not killed were sent off to far away lands to be slaves. It can be assumed that these men and women sent to the West Indies, Barbados, and South Carolina shared the gospel with fellow slaves from Africa, introducing them to their Lord, planting Gospel seeds within their hearts.

These men often preaching from the scaffold would proudly proclaim that they were dedicated to Christ's cause and could not and would not be persuaded otherwise. These men and women were brave souls, "rebels so glorious."

In our day we too have battles to face and wars to wage. Years have come and gone but men have not changed. Truth still matters regardless of what the post-modernists say. Truth has no expiration date it is eternal.  Truth is timeless and it is applicable for all men and women everywhere for all of time. Truth does not change. Men come and go. Civilizations rise and fall. Theories are postulated and discarded. But amid all the ruins truth stands like a marble column. Unhurt by those who would abuse it. Unaffected  by the blows it has taken. Unconcerned with those who would ridicule it. It stands forever, For truth is immortal, because God is eternal.

Fight for truth though all the world hate you for it. Be faithful to the cause of Christ though all the world sneers with godless hate. This is not a war of flesh and blood but of spirits and powers and principalities. Live as Christ did devoted to His Fathers will. Live By the Word of God and no other. Let the "Goliath's" mock with clamorous banter, for we serve a God who is bigger than all of the "giants" that surround us. By His power we know that a small river stone will topple these monsters. Regardless of what anyone says, be assured "Truth is marching on!"

"The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted it belongs to the brave." Ronald Reagan

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Preeminent part 2

As a continuation of the last post I want to examine more lifestyle issues that Christ must be Lord of. This list is not exhaustive, I am sure that I am just scratching the surface.

Relationships: To all Christian young people I would say, Christ must be Lord of your relationships. Whether it is a friendship or a courtship Christ must be at the center of that relationship.

Make sure that all of your conversations are honoring to God. Be sure that your demeanor and actions, with male or female friends, bring glory to your Heavenly Father. You are part of a family, God is the Father, we are His children, let us honor one another. Is He Lord of your relationships?

Business: Business endeavors and your Christianity must never be separated. God must be the CEO of your business. Paul urges Christians to work "heartily as to the Lord." All of our business exchanges should be trustworthy, reliable, and thorough.

Are you a businessman first and then a Christian? Or are you a Christian first and foremost? The differences are staggering. Is He Lord of your business?

Entertainment: I know these can be murky waters to wade out into, but I'll risk the chance of being eaten by the alligators. Although it may not be popular to say this, Christ must be Lord of your entertainment choices. Thoughtfully consider if the things that you watch and listen to are bringing glory to God or dishonor to Him. I am not opposed to healthy, God-honoring entertainment, neither is the Word of God.

Do the things you watch bring honor or dishonor to God? Does the music you listen to brilliantly portray the beauty of God or the darkness of this world? We must give up all entertainment that is not honorable. Is He Lord of your entertainment?

Recreation: How do you spend your free time? Hobbies can be a good thing if kept in their rightful place. They cannot become Lord over you, instead Christ must be Lord of them.

Does your hobby take up to much of your time? Does it consume to much of your money? Does it consume your thoughts continually? Is He Lord of your recreation?

Goals: Vision is a very good thing. Looking into the future and formulating plans according to God's leading is a Biblical concept. But be sure that your goals have Christ as their Author and Originator. Are your goals Godly? Do they line up with the Word of God? Or are they worldly goals, defined by the society around you? Is He Lord of your goals?

Intellect: Their are many men and women in the world who think they are smart because they have a string of degrees after their name. While this may show a devotion to study and learning, in most cases they have been taught by the world, and gained  a superficial worldly schooling. Learning is not bad, it is actually very good, but it must be done correctly. We must begin with God's Word which explains that knowledge begins with the fear of God.

Do you fear God in all of your education? Do you realize that you could not even think if it were not for an all-wise benevolent God? Is your intellect governed more by worldly standards of academia? Is He Lord of your intellect?

Family: This is a huge issue and I am only going to look at the tip of the iceberg. God must be Lord of the home. We are told in the Scriptures, "unless the Lord builds the house they labor in vain who build it." As Christians we must begin to think rightly about family roles. What it is to be a father, mother, son, daughter, brother and sister. The Bible has guidelines on all of these issues. I believe we even need to examine what it is to be a man or woman of God, because our society has grossly blurred these lines of distinction. Is He Lord in your household?

I say these things not because I think myself better than anyone else, but because the Lord has laid these very issues on my heart for consideration and examination. I would say as the Apostle Paul did, "Not that I have already attained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Jesus Christ has made me His own. But one thing I do:forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."(Php. 3:12-14)

This is the message: Press on! Go forward do not go backwards! Go forward do not stand still! Fight the good fight! "Crown Him Lord of all"!

He is preeminent!