Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas and the Gospel

I'm not sure why I dread Christmas time every year. It could be because of the constant exposure to sickness, which often touches my family, or the quasi vacation/ limbo status the professional world seems to enter in the midst of postal holidays and business closings, or the commercialization of Christmas, or just the colder weather that keeps me inside. Those things are minor inconveniences in the midst of an opportunity to tell the whole Christmas story. Not just beginning with the birth of Christ and presenting it as a "plan B", but beginning with John 1:1, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Christ was not plan B, but plan A. Before time began God ordained that He would create man who would sin, and need a savior, and Jesus would come as the God/man, who would be born, live a perfect life, and be murdered, and raised back to life to atone for the sins of man. He is the only way to escape the judgment, and no Christmas story is complete without that information, which is the gospel.
Blessings this Christmas, and this sermon-ette is to myself, to stop complaining, and start rejoicing, for I have been saved. What more do I need?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

David Crowder Video

I've really been blessed by David Crowder Band's new cd "Church Music". You can see a video of "how He loves" here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

so smart, I'm dumb

The seemingly endless tendency of my mind to analyze, construct, improve, solve, compartmentalize, build, and re-build every situation in my life is almost enough to drive a person crazy. This pairs with my confrontive nature that leads me to be known to "argue for the sake of arguing", but it doesn't discount my desire for truth. This personality has it's disadvantages, but I'll take my lot in life any day if I had the option to start over. The advantages are great also, as the researching options and problem solving tends to come in handy often. Sometimes the practical application of over-engineering doesn't work out so well though.
Case in point, I bought a new acoustic guitar for leading worship at church. Shortly after buying it I noticed a small scratch on the back as a result of rubbing on my belt buckle (AKA buckle rash). In my haste to prevent such a scratch from ever happening again I applied a piece of plastic to part of the back of the guitar to protect the guitar. Three weeks later when I decided to take the plastic off, I realized it had reacted with the finish on the guitar, making a much larger area of the finish marred than the original scratch. All with good intent, only to crash and burn. It's okay though. Lesson learned (maybe?), and my new guitar is officially "broken in". Now for the next project.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Days of Life

These are the days of life, the days of living. I often find myself pondering the future, both short term and long term. After I'm gone, what will the era I lived in be known for? Will it be the tipping point of a society that once held to Christian values, but now violently rejects them? It is not just that my country rejects biblical Christianity, I think we are witnessing the overtaking of popular opinion from a tolerance of Christianity to a violent hostility toward Christians. Throughout history, this has always been the case. Just as Jesus said we would suffer, we suffer, and the church has felt the world's enmity since the beginning, and will until the end. The reprieve America has felt the past 300 years has clearly been the exception, not the rule. A blessing that God, in his Sovereignty chose to bestow on a nation. That time may have already come to an end, or we may be in some sort of middle ground of transition. Either way, followers of Jesus Christ can expect increasing persecution in the days to come, and an all-out attack on the exclusive claims of the gospel. The exciting part about the unknown ahead rests in the Sovereignty of God, and in knowing that He will work all things to his glory. The church always has thrived under persecution, and the trials will weed out false converts among us. The prevalent values of the past few decades, of moralistic therapeutic deism make me sick to my stomach. The purging of these false doctrines encourages me and gives me hope for my own children. Our prosperity has produced laziness and apathy (myself included). So I look forward to the future, and pray that God will mold me into what He desires, even if means being pushed out of the comfort zone.
John 15:18-20
18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Worship God 2009

Just got back from a great conference at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD. Bob Kauflin taught as well as John Piper, Jeff Purswell, Thabiti Anyabwile, & C.J. Mahaney were all speakers. I learned a lot about leading worship and look forward to teaching the new songs to our church.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Trouble in Amish Paradise



This video is worth watching. The story of two Amish families in PA that are excommunicated for following the bible instead of the church.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Depth in hymns

I have always loved a modern style of praise & worship music. Having grown up with hymns, they seemed boring and outdated. Yesterday I led worship at our church with all traditional or rewritten hymns. I was surprised at how well the service went. Over the past few months I have been researching hymns with sound doctrine. The richness I have found in many songs written hundreds of years ago is like a treasure hunt. The treasure I am finding is encouraging to my soul and glorifying to God. The different music style stretches my abilities and has been a blessing in the process.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

And Can it be that I should Gain?

And Can it be that I should Gain?
Charles Wesley, 1738

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

’Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Still the small inward voice I hear,
That whispers all my sins forgiven;
Still the atoning blood is near,
That quenched the wrath of hostile Heaven.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Life is a vapor

I can't help but be saddened by the death of Michael Jackson. We should all be reminded that life is but a vapor, we aren't promised tomorrow. Michael had everything society says is valuable... fame, power, money. But in the end he left with nothing. A life wasted on things of this world, and now the judgement. Lord, give us compassion to share your gospel, and with it the liberty to know "to live is Christ, to die is gain". Phil. 1:21.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Twitter and The SBC Annual Meeting

I'm amazed at technology. This morning I have been watching the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting live online while following a flurry of twitter posts on two Twitter threads #sbc2009 and #B21. Twitter is much more useful with Tweet Deck. I like it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ordinary Pastor


Check out this blog.

Looking Back

The past 8 months were really hard on my family as we made the difficult decision to leave a church we loved. Sparing the details of the situation, I can write honestly that there were many nights without sleep, much prayer, and the decision was not made lightly. During the trial it seemed that the events that led up to the exit couldn't have happened... like a fluke. Though there were wrongs on both sides, only one side was seen. People who had been by my side for years suddenly turned their backs under political pressure (or divine pressure), and biblically, the actions didn't square with what I knew my accusers believed.
I only knew of one Baptist church within 32 miles that preached from a Reformed perspective. We visited and eventually joined the church. Long story short, there have been many confirmations that we made the right decision, and I will go so far as to say that I believe God orchestrated the events that led to my family being ushered out of a church we loved, but were not welcomed. Moving from a place where our gifts were stifled to a place where our gifts can flourish has been a blessing. People will always fail, and even sincere followers of Christ continue to sin. Understanding this concept, giving grace and mercy when needed, following a biblical pattern of church discipline, and loving and growing together is part of what makes a new testament church. I am content in Christ and where He has placed me.

Philippians 3:14 (English Standard Version)

14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Others May, You Cannot

The evangelist at Gatlin Baptist Church last week read a Christian tract he found from the 1800s. It was so good I want to quote part of it here.

Others May, You Cannot

If God has called you to be really like Jesus He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility. God’s call will put such demands of obedience on you that you will not be able to follow other people, or measure yourself by other Christians. At times, He will let other

people do things which He will not let you do.

Other Christians who seem very religious will push themselves, pull wires, and work schemes to carry out their plans. You cannot, and if you attempt it, you will meet with failure and rebuke from the Lord.

Others may boast of themselves, of their work, of their successes, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing, and if you begin it, He will lead you to despise yourself and all your good works.

Others may be allowed to succeed in making money, or may have a legacy left to them, but it is likely God will keep you poor. God wants you to have something far better than gold, namely, a helpless dependence upon Him, that He may demonstrate His faithful love for you in supplying your needs day by day.

God may let others be honored and put forward, and keep you hidden in obscurity in order to produce some fragrant fruit for His coming glory which can only be produced in the shade. He may let others be great, but keep you small. He may let others do a work for Him and get the credit for it now. The reward for your work is held in the hands of Jesus and you will not see it until He comes.

The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch over you with a jealous love. He will rebuke you for the little words and feelings or for wasting your time. So make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign, and has a right to do as He pleases with His own. He does not owe you an explanation of these mysteries. But if you give yourself to be His child, He will wrap you up in a jealous love, and give you the precious blessings for those who belong, heart and soul, to Him.

Settle it forever, then, that you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit. It is His option to tie your tongue, or chain your hand, or close your eyes in ways that He does not seem to use with others. And when you are so possessed by the living God that your heart delights over this peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of Heaven.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

It is Well with my Soul


I was reminded of a 135 year old song recently that I had forgotten along with so many other hymns. The song "It is well with my soul" struck a passion in me that seldom comes out with modern songs. The story behind the song (see above link) is amazing. To summarize, Horatio Spafford was a successful Chicago Lawyer in the 1870s who lost his only son, his business, and his four daughters from different tragedies over about two years. His daughters drowned in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean in route to Europe. As his boat passed over the spot where his daughters died, he penned the words to this song. The truly amazing thing is that in the midst of such tradgedy he could write those words. Only a regenerated follower of Christ can sing this song and comprehend the meaning. What a blessing it is to be able to sing this song that has survived for 135 years and no doubt will ring through eternity.

It Is Well With My Soul

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Horatio Spafford

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

What do I know of holy?

Today I caught myself getting angry at people. People who don't do their jobs or the phone company that can't get my bill right, or even the slow driver in front of me. Then I was reminded of my own flaws... The song by Addison Road says it well. "What do I know of Holy" I would do well to listen to this song every day.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Intention and Resolve Exemplified

I finally allowed my arm to be twisted enough to become my son's Cub Scout den leader for next year. I know the time commitment is great, but I only have one son, and he will only be this age once, so this is the time to sacrifice. I was talking to the new Cub Master today and he said something that really caught my attention. He said that he only does scouts to spend time with his son. He said that if he weren't leading the cub scouts, he would be intending to spend the time with his son, but it wouldn't happen. If that isn't a clear example of the difference between Intention and Resolve, I don't know what is.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Semi-Pelagian Narrower Catechism

This has been floating around the internet for a while. I thought it was funny enough to re-post here.

The Semi-Pelagian Narrower Catechism

1. Q: What is the chief end of each individual Christian?
A: Each individual Christian's chief end is to get saved. This is the first and greatest commandment.

2. Q: And what is the second great commandment?
A: The second, which is like unto it, is to get as many others saved as he can.

3. Q: What one work is required of thee for thy salvation?
A: It is required of me for my salvation that I make a Decision for Christ, which meaneth to accept Him into my heart to be my personal lord'n'saviour

4. Q: At what time must thou perform this work?
A: I must perform this work at such time as I have reached the Age of Accountability.

5. Q: At what time wilt thou have reached this Age?
A: That is a trick question. In order to determine this time, my mind must needs be sharper than any two-edged sword, able to pierce even to the division of bone and marrow; for, alas, the Age of Accountability is different for each individual, and is thus unknowable.

6. Q: By what means is a Decision for Christ made?
A: A Decision for Christ is made, not according to His own purpose and grace which was given to me in Christ Jesus before the world began, but according to the exercise of my own Free Will in saying the Sinner's Prayer in my own words.

7. Q: If it be true then that man is responsible for this Decision, how then can God be sovereign?A: He cannot be. God sovereignly chose not to be sovereign, and is therefore dependent upon me to come to Him for salvation. He standeth outside the door of my heart, forlornly knocking, until such time as I Decide to let Him in.

8. Q: How then can we make such a Decision, seeing that the Scripture saith, we are dead in our trespasses and sins?
A: By this the Scripture meaneth, not that we are dead, but only that we are sick or injured in them.

9. Q: What is the assurance of thy salvation?
A: The assurance of thy salvation is, that I know the date on which I prayed the Sinner's Prayer, and have duly written this date on an official Decision card.

10. Q: What is thy story? What is thy song?
A: Praising my Savior all the day long.

11. Q: You ask me how I know he lives?
A: He lives within my heart.

12. Q: And what else hast thou got in thine heart?
A: I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.

13. Q: Where??
A: Down in my heart!

14. Q: Where???
A: Down in my heart!!

15. Q: What witness aid hath been given us as a technique by which we may win souls?
A: The tract known commonly as the Four Spiritual Laws, is the chief aid whereby we may win souls.

16. Q: What doth this tract principally teach?
A: The Four Spiritual Laws principally teach, that God's entire plan for history and the universe centereth on me, and that I am powerful enough to thwart His divine purpose if I refuse to let Him pursue His Wonderful Plan for my life.

17. Q: What supplementary technique is given by which we may win souls?
A: The technique of giving our own Personal Testimony, in the which we must always be ready to give an answer concerning the years we spent in vanity and pride, and the wretched vices in which we wallowed all our lives untilthe day we got saved.

18. Q: I'm so happy, what's the reason why?
A: Jesus took my burden all away!

19. Q: What are the means given whereby we may save large crowds of souls in a spectacular manner?
A: Such a spectacle is accomplished by means of well-publicized Crusades and Revivals which (in order that none may be loath to attend) are best conducted anywhere else but in a Church.

20. Q: Am I a soldier of the Cross?
A: I am a soldier of the Cross if I join Campus Crusade, Boys' Brigade, the Salvation Army, or the Wheaton Crusaders; of if I put on the helmet of Dispensationalism, the breastplate of Pietism, the shield of Tribulationism, and the sword of Zionism, having my feet shod with the gospel of Arminianism.

21. Q: Who is your boss?A: My boss is a Jewish carpenter.

22. Q: Hath God predestined vessels of wrath to Hell?
A: God hath never performed such an omnipotent act, for any such thing would not reflect His primary attribute, which is Niceness.

23. Q: What is sanctification?
A: Sanctification is the work of my free Will, whereby I am renewed by having my Daily Quiet Time.

24. Q: What rule hath God for our direction in prayer?
A: The rule that we must bow our hands, close our heads, and fold our eyes.

25. Q: What doth the Lord's Prayer teach us?
A: The Lord's Prayer teacheth us that we must never memorize a prayer, or use one that hath been written down.

26. Q: What's the book for thee?

A: The B-I-B-L-E.

27. Q: Which are among the first books which a Christian should read to his soul's health?
A: Among the first books which a Christian should read are the books of Daniel and Revelation, and The Late Great Planet Earth.

28. Q: Who is on the Lord's side?
A: He who doth support whatsoever is done by the nation of Israel, and who doth renounce the world, the flesh, and the Catholic Church.

29. Q: What are the seven deadly sins?
A: The seven deadly sins are smoking, drinking, dancing, card-playing, movie-going, baptizing babies, and having any creed but Christ.

30. Q: What is a sacrament?
A: A sacrament is an insidious invention devised by the Catholic Church whereby men are drawn into idolatry.

31. Q: What is the Lord's Supper?
A: The Lord's Supper is a dispensing of saltines and grape juice, in the which we remember Christ's command to pretend that they are His body and blood.

32. Q: What is baptism?
A: Baptism is the act whereby, by the performance of something that seems quite silly in front of everyone, I prove that I really, really mean it.

33. Q: What is the Church?
A: The Church is the tiny minority of individuals living at this time who have Jesus in their hearts, and who come together once a week for a sermon, fellowship and donuts.

34. Q: What is the office of the keys?
A: The office of the keys is that office held by the custodian.

35. Q: What meaneth "The Priesthood Of All Believers"?
A: The Priesthood Of All Believers meaneth that there exists no authority in the Church, as that falsely thought to be held by elders, presbyters, deacons, and bishops, but that each individual Christian acts as his own authority in all matters pertaining to the faith.

36. Q: Who is the Holy Spirit?
A: The Holy Spirit is a gentleman Who would never barge in.

37. Q: How long hath the Holy Spirit been at work?
A: The Holy Spirit hath been at work for more than a century: expressly, since the nineteenth-century Revitalization brought about by traveling Evangelists carrying tents across America.

38. Q: When will be the "Last Days" of which the Bible speaketh?
A: The "Last Days" are these days in which we are now living, in which the Antichrist, the Beast, and the Thief in the Night shall most certainly appear.

39. Q: What is the name of the event by which Christians will escape these dreadful entities?
A: The event commonly known as the Rapture, in the which it is our Blessed Hope that all cars driven by Christians will suddenly have no drivers.

40. Q: When is Jesus coming again?A: Maybe morning, maybe noon, maybe evening, and maybe soon.

41. Q: When the roll, roll, roll, is called up yonder, where will you be?
A: There.

42. Q: Hallelu, hallelu, hallelu, hallelujah!
A: Praise ye the Lord!

43. Q: Praise ye the Lord!
A: Hallelujah!

44. Q: Where will we meet again?
A: Here, there, or in the air.

45. Q: Can I hear an Ay-men?
A: Ay-men.