Friday, December 29, 2006

Last night Elizabeth and I spent time with one of my hero preachers. Rick Anderson is an amazing man who preaches biblically with absolute passion every time he steps into the pulpit. You can listen to his sermons here. Trust me. They are worth while. Rick's preaching is a modern-day George Whitefield. I plead with you to listen, be convicted and be as passionate for the truth as this man is.

I was greatly encouraged last night as I was able to probe him about his ministry, struggles and family issues. I was able to see his study which, for a fellow-preacher, is an exciting adventure for me.

After spending last night with Rick and his lovely wife, Penny, I have been all the more encouraged to be a faithful preacher of God's Word, to preach it accurately, fully and boldly. I never want to compromise. Rick is a model of a Godly man, a husband, a father, a pastor and shepherd who does this.

God help me.

This is from MacArthur's Book, Preaching: How to Preach Biblically, which he co-wrote with many of the Master's Seminary faculty ( It is some exhortations that the preacher must remember as he studies the text, prepares the sermon and preaches the sermon:

Preach to honor God's Word
Preach to reach the unconverted
Preach to please God
Preach to equip Christians for the work of the ministry
Preach to lift up the downhearted
Preach to be more effective this time than last
Preach to bring conviction of sin and repentance
Preach to compete with no one but yourself
Preach to refresh the spiritually weary
Preach to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ

May we as preachers take these exhortations to heart and preach biblically and passionately.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

I recently concluded a series preaching through the whole book of 1 John. I was overwhelmed by the boldness and bluntness of the Apostle John in his preaching to his congregation back in Ephesus.

After thinking back on the theme of the book of 1 John, this is what I came up with:

The theme of 1 John: One who is really born of God will inevitably evidence it by the way he lives in holiness, the way he loves as Christ unconditionally loves, and by what he believes regarding the Son of God.

Any feedback?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I just read (yet again) Piper's classic, The Supremacy of God in Preaching. I think this is a book that all preachers should read at least once a year. It should be on the bookshelf closest to the Bible and other study materials. It is in this work that Piper quotes Spurgeon by noting that GOd's call to the ministry of the Word (that is, to preach) "is an intense, all-absorbing desire for the work" (p.18).

The Supremacy of God in Preaching can be laid forth in a Trinitarian formula:

I. The Goal of Preaching: The Glory of God
II. The Ground of Preaching: The Cross of Christ
III. The Gift of Preaching: The Power of the Holy Spirit

Piper notes, "God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are the beginning, middle and end in the ministry of preaching. Written over all ministerial labor, especially preaching, stand the words of the apostle: "From Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever" (Rom 11:36; Piper, p.19).

One final quote to sum up from the Scottish preacher of old, James Stewart. He said the aim of all genuine preaching is "to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, to devote the will to the purpose of God."
Piper then sums up this lengthy quote by simply saying, "God is the goal of preaching" (p.20).

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

By friend Gunner has a great post here on Simeon and His hope in looking for the Savior. May we all read this and be convicted. READ THE POST HERE:
Today we turn to the third aspect of what it means to be a Godly wife, as defined by the Scriptures. For the Word of God is indeed our only sole authority by which we seek to tune our lives so as to please and bring honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.

We have seen two aspects of what it means to be a Godly wife as defined in the Scriptures and today we turn to the third.

I. A Godly Wife Practices Submission
II. A Godly Wife Is A Suitable Helper
III. A Godly Wife Is Selflessly Reverent

Our third characteristic of what it means to be a Godly wife is that she must be selflessly reverent.

Ephesians 5:33 33 Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see to it that she respect (Greek, phobeo) her husband.

What does this mean? By being "selflessly reverent," I mean that she fears her husband. The Greek word, phobeo literally means "to fear, to be afraid." But of course from the context we know that Paul is not commanding wives to be "afraid" of their husbands, but rather to have a reverential fear and respect for them. It is NOT in a sense of a scared fear, or a horror fear, but rather a Godly fear.

A Godly fear here in this context is one that the wife is to practice by honoring him, preferring him, venerating him, esteeming him, praising him, loving him unconditionally, unilaterally and unequivocally, and admiring him exceedingly.

Ah, but I hear some women who may respond by saying, "If I did this, it will feed his male ego – he will then be an impossible man to live with." Rather, the wife may say, "Let me remind him of all the wrongs he has done, so that I can keep him on track and keep him sober."

It must be said here with absolute clarity that the Bible says otherwise. The Bible says, when the wife loves and admires the husband, then it has the opposite effect, then the husband will realize how much he DOES NOT DESERVE THIS.

Take 1 Peter 3:1-4 to heart: In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. 3 And let not your adornment be merely external-- braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.

The wife is to “hold him in the highest esteem within her heart and mind. This is how she is to be selflessly reverent to her husband. Wives must respect their husbands and not seek to revamp everything they do. No one will biblically love someone until they first respect them. You must begin with respecting your husband before you can be totally devoted to loving your husband in a way that gives all of yourself to him.

However, this text in Eph 5 does NOT mean a few things, read it again:

Ephesians 5:33 33 Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband.

The wife respects her husband and submits to him, yet she recognizes that she is NOT his personal Holy Spirit. It is NOT her duty to point out every single problem to her husband "so that" he will change. She must let the Holy Spirit to His work. It is the wife's duty to revere him and not to revamp him.

Listen to this. When the wife makes a willful choice in her mind NOT to reverence her husband, then tension will grow, then destruction/deterioration of her love for him will cease, and then discouragement will come, then depression will come and then a general hindering of GodÂ’s work in their lives will come. Notice this domino effect. However, on the other hand, when she fears him and loves and respects him, then it causes him to really want to care for her. Rather than an adversarial relationship, he notices a radical change in her relationship towards him.

So, wives, may I urge you to seek to biblicalimplementent these three qualities that are biblically mandated into your lives in relation to your husbands:

I. A Godly Wife Practices Submission
II. A Godly Wife Is A Suitable Helper
III. A Godly Wife Is Selflessly Reverent

Sunday, December 24, 2006

This afternoon between our morning and evening services at church, I decided to go to Starbucks and read. Over the course of being in one Starbucks restaurant for two and a half hours, at the same table, here are four things I saw or heard:

1) I heard four individuals talking about Jews who are "for" Jesus and how that is ludicrous. These four women were making fun of Christianity. They were saying those who say they are "Jews for Jesus" are simply trying to convert Jews to Christianity. They thought it was nonsense. That conversation was at the table right next to me for about a half hour. I just sat there and listened as I was brokenhearted.

2) I heard a woman venting for (literally) an hour and a half to two of her friends because the boyfriend that she is living with is not treating her right. She went on and on...and on...and on about this guy she is living with and how fed up she is that he's not treating her the way that she deserves to be treated. In the course of this conversation, she said that most people move in with their boyfriend/girlfriend for convenience and for financial reasons.

3) I saw a boy (couldn't have been older than eight years old) on a cell phone for about 10 minutes in some very "deep" conversation with someone. He was yelling and expressing his emotions in frustration and anger with a raised tone of voice to the person he was talking with on the phone.

4) I saw a young mother buy a Hot Chocolate for her son (who was about 5), while he was waiting for her at a table while playing a hand-held video game. She got the drink and gave it to him and told him, "Let's Go." He said, "No, wait a little bit." Then she just got up, left her boy behind in Starbucks, and headed to her car as if she were going to leave without him.

This is the world in which we live. I was only here for two hours and was grossly reminded of the absolute "foolish" gospel that we have placed our trust in, namely, the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. That Jesus, the Lord Christ, died for the sins of the human race so that by faith in Him, those who believe may have eternal life in heaven and not perish in hell, which is the sure and ending result of those who die apart from the free gift of salvation which is ONLY offered in Jesus Christ.

Romans 12:1-2 "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will."

Saturday, December 23, 2006

I know we are in the middle of a three part series on what it is to be a "Godly Wife," yet I want to take a detour and meander to a topic that I have been doing much reading on, namely, expository preaching. Let me post today on what it is to be a passionate preacher who understands his text and then tomorrow I will return to the third part of a "Godly Wife."

The story of old is like this, George Whitefield's powerful preaching was stirring the hearts of the people of Britain. When he was preaching in Edinburgh, many in the town awakened at 5:00am to gather and hear the evangelist. A man on his way to the tabernacle met David Hume, the notorious Scottish philosopher and skeptic. Surprised to see Hume on the way to hear Whitefield, the man said, "I thought you did not believe in the gospel." Hume replied, I don't, but he does."

The point: When a preacher deeply believes his message, his strong convictions can have a powerful effect on those who hear him. There is no substitute for the preacher being thoroughly absorbed with proclaiming biblical truth (Lawson, Famine in the Land,122).

Montoya takes this one step further and notes that preaching is hart work. MacArthur notes that we must stay in our seats until the work is done!

The preacher must preach passionately. Furthermore, the preacher must be so thoroughly researched on his given text that he could answer (almost) any question in relation to it. The preacher must understand exactly what the authorial intent was (that is, what the writer intended to say to the original audience).

The preacher is an exegete. He must know the Word. He must live it. He must breathe it. He must digest it. He must be changed by it. He must speak of it. He must preach that which he knows.

This is the job description that we as passionate preachers must live up to.

Friday, December 22, 2006

We are in the middle of a three part series on what it means to be "A Godly Wife" from a biblical perspective. This, of course, raises many eyebrows and sours many people as they observe the truth of God's Word and how it confronts our post-modern, egalitarian, feminist culture right between the eyes.

We saw yesterday the first characteristic of a Godly wife. That is, that A Godly Wife must practice submission. Today we will see the second essential requirement of being a Godly wife. A Godly wife must be a suitable helper.

I. A Godly Wife Practices Submission
II. A Godly Wife is a Suitable Helper.

So today, we are looking at the biblical truth of the wife as being a suitable helper for the husband.

Genesis 2:18 18 Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him."

The last phrase, "suitable for Him" in the Hebrew literally means, "according to his opposite," or "according to that which is next/beside him."

We that the wife is a helper for the husband as one who is ideally suited to be HIS helpmate, his supporter, encourager, complementer. She is HIS perfect complement. He needs to go nowhere else to find another complementary helpmate. She is not merely a housewife (though this is necessary), but a completer. In other words, the husband is NOT complete without her.

The second nuance that is found under the idea of the Godly wife being the suitable helper is that her husband is her primary ministry. This is a woman who lets people know and isn't ashamed to make it loud and clear that her main and primary ministry obligation is to her husband. She can spend time with people, minister in the church, disciple younger women, be involved in bible studies and athletics, but if any of these ever get in the way of her ministry and service to her husband, this is the wife that is quick to cease from those activities in order to place her husband back in the "primary ministry spot" of her life.

Third, A Godly wife who is a suitable helper is one who finds her greatest joy and contentment in this role of serving and loving her husband. Here is why: Because she realizes that she is complementing him in such a way that he could never do for himself if he were without her.

Fourth, a Godly wife who is a suitable helper is also a contributing member of the lifelong covenental commitment to partnership.

Titus 2:3-5 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4 that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored.

These are all elements that are part of being that suitable helper for her husband. So we have seen over these last two sessions that A Godly wife has two essential characteristics:

I. A Godly Wife Practices Submission
II. A Godly Wife is a Suitable Helper

Thursday, December 21, 2006

This is an excellent post. It is quite lengthy but ABSOLUTELY EXCELLENT. I think Mohler does a fabulous job of quoting these individuals and bringing it all together at the end.

Read it HERE.
A few weeks ago, I did a three part series on what it is to be "A Godly Husband" biblically. I discussed three things that a husband is commanded to do in a marriage. He is to first be a Learner (of his wife); second, he is to be a Lover (of his wife); and third, he is to be a Leader (for his wife).

It is amazing to me (and I'm not even married yet) to realize how common it is (unfortunately) that there are so many wives that are discontent with their marriages, with their husbands, with their sex lives or whatever. May we remember that the very first marriage in the Bible, Adam and Eve, they didn't have any choice as to whom they would marry, especially Adam. And listen, God NEVER makes mistakes. He never has and he never will and sure won't begin with YOUR relationship.

As we begin this three part series on what it means to be a Godly wife, I want to encourage YOU with one thing, the question is NOT who am I married to, but am I going to be a Godly husband/wife to the person I am married to? That is the question we must all answer in our own soul/spirit.

So, the first essential characteristic of being a Godly Wife is that she practices submission.

I. A Godly Wife Practices Submission.

Ephesians 5:22-24 22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

1 Peter 3:1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives,

Here I am with the very first characteristic of what it means to be a Godly wife biblically going completely against the grain of culture. I am speaking in terms that are completely foreign to our society. Women's egalitarian rights advocates would not be happy with these words. Yet the idea of the woman being submissive to the man in the marriage is completely biblical. To do anything otherwise is sin. Period.

Let me prove this. The phrase "be subject" (in Eph 5:22 and 24) is the same Greek word (hupotasso) as "be submissive" in 1 Pet 3:1. hupotasso means "to submit." It doesn't mean that someone is inferior, or less important, or of no intrinsic value. Rather, it does mean that the wife is to place herself UNDER the authority of the husband in ALL THINGS.

Before I give some examples on what being submissive does mean, let me explain what being submissive does NOT mean:
1. It does not mean inequality
2. It does not mean infallibility (of the husband)
3. It does not mean immobility (of the wife)
4. It does not mean inarticulation (of the wife)
5. It does not mean intellectual stagnation
6. It does not mean influence is impossible

But here is what being "Subject" or "Submissive" DOES mean:

1. It is a divine plan of function and order. The wife is to be one who is willing to submit and place herself under her husband because this is the divine plan for marriage. This is the divine order for which the marital covenantal bond was made.

2. It is a way of life for every single believer (both man and woman). Every single believer has to submit (hupotasso) him/herself to the parents while growing up, to the leadership of the church, to the government, etc. Every believer has to be submissive to authorities which are ultimately in place because God has willed it (1 Pet 2, Rom 13, 1 Tim 2).

3. It is a protection for the wife. The wife has freedom because she is under the protective umbrella of her husband's protective leadership. Notice that in Eph 5:22 it says that the wives are to be submissive to their husbands "as to the Lord." This phrase proves that it is a heart issue; not something that is done reluctantly, but that she would worship the Lord from the heart.

4. It is an attitude. The wife has to cognitively decide and determine to submit to her husband.

5. It is an act of the will and NOT a feeling.

6. It is the proof of her love for her husband. You don't love someone whom you don't respect. Put another way, you don't love someone until you respect them. Do YOU respect and LOVE your husband?

7. It is an all-inclusive command. Eph 5:24, "Be subject to your husbands in everything." This excludes NOTHING. The wife is to submit, honor, obey and do what her husband commands her to do in everything that is RIGHT. In other words, the ONLY time a wife is NOT to submit and obey her husband is when he commands her to do something that is against what the Scriptures teach. The wife must desire to be GODLY FIRST and then (only after this first desire), to be a GODLY WIFE second.

8. It is a proper relationship to God's authority. The issue of the wife putting others before self (in this case, her husband) is having a servant's attitude as her way of life. It is showing a proper attitude and submissiveness to God's authority.

So today we have seen the first requirement in being a Godly wife as revealed in the pages of inerrant, infallible and authoritative Scripture,

I. A Godly Wife Practices Submission.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

So last night, I took Elizabeth up to this mountaintop because she thought that we were going to set up the engagement for another couple. So she is setting up the table and putting rose pedals all over the table and the ground around the table.

Then we finished setting up the table and had a last look before we went down the hill so the "other couple" could come and get engaged with everything set up:

Doesn't look too shabby for a guy doing all the shopping beforehand huh? :-)

So we started our journey down the hill and I said, wait, we have time, let's go back there and hang for a few minutes. You see, we were at this mountaintop that overlooked the ocean and the coast on one side and you turn around and it overlooked the L.A. Valley! Then I gave her my speech (which will be omitted from this blog) and asked her if she would marry me. Her answer... "What Just Happened?"...(but then she eventually uttered the words I was waiting for), "YES!"
Then I had my (and "our") favorite restaurant catered up to us on the moutaintop and we had a nice sit down dinner up there in the thirty-two degree cold on the top of the mountain!

Here she is showing off the sparkle on that ring finger on the left hand! Man, I love to see that! :-)

We are most excited about the lifelong covenant of companionship that we are seeking to endeavor upon. We recognize the solemnness of this marital relationship, we understand the self-sacrificial commitment that is also required and we long to serve and honor the other person so as to ultimately bring glory to our most gracious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Praise God! I love you, Elizabeth!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

We all know the day would NOT be complete without another picture of my beautiful girlfriend, Elizabeth!

One more will suffice:
1 John 3:9 9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

John says here in his epistle to the church in Ephesus that no one who has genuinely been born of (Lit. "out from"; Gk. ek) God does not practice (literally "do") sin. In other words, the Apostle John wants to make absolutely certain that his congregation understands that a regenerate believer will not have a consistent pattern and lifestyle of sin. For a true believer, who has radically been changed and renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit will repent from sin and turn from it to righteousness and holiness.

John continues by giving the reason as to why believers (those who have been "born of God") cannot sin. Because His seed (Gk. sperma) abides in him (namely, the believer who is born of God). John goes even one step further by saying that this believer (who is born of God) is not even able to sin (Gk. kai ou dunatai hamartein). Once again, John says that it is impossible for a believer to live a lifestyle of sin because (literally) "out of God he has been born."

An unrepentant sinning person who claims to be a believer is an oxymoron in John's terminology. It cannot happen. A true believer will repent. A regenerate person will turn from sin. A soul that has tasted of the kindness and goodness of our great God and Savior will want to PLEASE that God and Savior and thus not sin.

It must be noted that this in no way could be used to argue that there will be those who NEVER sin. That is, those who have attained a state of sinless perfection. This would go against all of John's teaching. For he says earlier in the epistle:

1 John 1:7 - 10 7 but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

This is clear, you see, that the believer will always have this struggle with the human, sinful, fleshly nature while in this body longing for the mortal to be clothed with immortality someday when it is possible to see the Savior face to face (1 John 3:1-3).

This is black and white. It is cut and dry. There is no gray area. Either one is in Christ, or he is out of Christ. Either he is born "of" God or he is "of" the evil one. For John, the believer is one who is characterized by a consistent pattern of holiness and godliness in this present life (while still struggling with our sinful nature). When a believer sins, it is the responsibility and duty of the believer to repent, turn and pursue Christlikeness again.

May God give us grace to repent and live lives that are consistent with the calling to which we've been called (Eph 4:1).

Friday, December 15, 2006

This book by Steve Lawson (who is my favorite preacher and hero) is now one of my favorites. I sat down last night and read the whole thing as I was picturing him "preach" his way through the book. I guess every preacher would say that they enjoy a new book on preaching, but this one was really refreshing to my soul and passions.

God's primary plan is for impacting cities today only through the preaching of the Gospel. One God-called man armed with one God-sent message, committed to one God-prescribed method - preaching - is always sufficieint for any situation.

John Knox (of whom I blogged about in recent weeks as a hero of mine) was one such preacher. Though he would become the leader of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland, Knox entered the ministry ONLY reluctantly. The magnitude of the reponsibility to preach the Word was too great for Knox to assume it lightly. For this reformer-in-the-making, the pulpit was a sacred desk, a stepping onto holy ground. When Knox was extended the pastoral call by his first congregation in April 1547, he immediately burst into tears and withdrew into seclusion, too overwhelmed to accept this call. Knox was all too aware of the divine accountability that accompanied such a calling, to say nothing of his own inadequacies. But God was calling. That undeniable reality arrested his soul.

It was through such a soul-searching experience that Knox knew he MUST preach. Where, it must be asked, are such trembling men today? Where are those who so preach as if by divine appointment? Are YOU this kind of man? (p.62-63)

Furthermore, Knox is known for saying later in his Pastoral ministry, "I have never once feared the debil, but I tremble every time I enter the pulpit" (p.94). Where are such men who, like Knox, tremble when they open the Word of God?

May we hear this call from a man of old who fearlessly and faithfully preached the Word of God boldly!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

So, you wanna see the hockey game that I used to play? Here is a good 3 minute video of some of the hardest hits in the NHL this month! Enjoy it here. And even a more hard-hittin'-body-slammin' video here.

I have been studying for an exam I have today at seminary in a course called "Rapture Systems." In this course, we survey the different rapture systems out there (pretrib, posttrib, mid-trib, partial rapture, pre-wrath, preterist, etc) as well as survey a bunch of the eschatological passages in order to get the overall view of the NT teaching on the rapture of the saints.

As I have been studying for today, I have been immersed in 1 Thessalonians 5. I am convinced that this chapter is teaching about the tribulation. Let me clarify, this is NOT a continuation from chapter 4 (v.13-18) which is clearly speaking of the rapture. We recognize that Paul does NOT continue the new thought but rather he transitions into a brand new thought (or a new topic) from the Greek construction, peri de (1 Cor 7:1; 8:1; 12:1; 16:1). Thus, if Paul was speaking of the rapture in 1 Thess 4, then he begins a NEW topic in chapter 5, thus discussing the tribulation period on the earth (or the Day of the Lord).

1 Thessalonians 5:9 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

There have been 3 main views as to what the "wrath" is here in v.9:

(1) Present, Physical Wrath that the Thessalonians are facing - we know this cannot be the answer because there was much physical persecution of the believers for their faith at this time in the city of Thessalonika. Paul was not telling them that they would have NO problems, no wrath, no tribulations, no trials, etc. in their lifetime.

(2) Hell - this is a viable option, but yet it fails when the immediate context is observed. Even in the Thessalonian epistles at large, soteriology is NOT the main issue here. Paul is dealing with eschatology and the deliverance from the future eschatological wrath (1:10; the Lord's coming (2:19; 3:13); the rapture (4:13-18); and the Day of the Lord (tribulation period (5:1-11). Paul's emphasis here is NOT to tell the believers that they have been saved from the eternal wrath of God. Though this is a good thought, it is not to be found in the context. Furthermore, why would Paul tell them that "God has not destined us for wrath but for obtaining salvation." We do NOT obtain salvation because we are saved from hell. Rather, we obtain salvation because of the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. Thus the ramification of that finished work at Calvary was that we have been saved from the eschatological wrath of God, but justification is NOT the main theme of Paul's letter here.

(3) Tribulation - this seems to be the best option given the immediate context of chapters 4-5 as well as the whole context of the books of Thessalonians as a whole. Paul has just talked about the rapture (4:13-18) and then he says, "peri de," now concerning a new issue...Let's talk about the Day of the Lord (5:1-11). Then he says in v. 9, but just to let you know believers, that God has not appointed us for wrath in the Tribulation, but rather for obtaining the full salvation that we will ultimately have when we are glorified and with our Lord Jesus Christ. This is eschatological hope here. This is the beautific vision - as Edwards would say. This is the hope of glory of every believer.

V. 11 concludes by saying, "therefore, encourage one another." If the believers in Thessalonika knew that they would HAVE to endure a 7 year tribulation period and THEN obtain salvation in heaven, what kind of encouragement would that be? What kind of encouragement would that be? Most of you will die martyr's deaths in the Tribulation, they will be gruesome and horrible, but don't fret, you will be in heaven? NO. Paul is NOT saying that. Rather he is saying, because you will be completely exempt OUT OF (Gk. ek) the Tribulation period, that is cause for great rejoicing, comfort and encouragement of the believers.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Folks, this really works. It is a marvelous thing. It is healthy. And it really can't be characterized as a "diet" per se. You still eat a lot and much more often. But I know from trustworthy sources, that if you want to eat healthy, feel better, and maximize your workouts so as to achieve the best results, then this is the book for you.

Funny, I sound like a great marketer huh? I'm not even getting paid by Zinczenko and Spiker to do this! But in any case, it may be worth a try :-)

Monday, December 11, 2006

We are in the middle of a three-part study of what a biblical portrait of a Godly husband is to look like. We saw first, that the Godly Husband is to be a Learner. Second we saw that the Godly Husband is to be a Lover. Today we'll see that a Godly Husband is to be a Leader.

I. A Godly Husband is a Learner
II. A Godly Husband is a Lover
III. A Godly Husband is a Leader

Jesus said,
"Matthew 20:25-28 25 But Jesus called them to Himself, and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 26 "It is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

Do you notice a theme interwoven throughout these verses, that the ultimate Leader (i.e. Jesus) did not come to "Lord his authority over anyone," but rather He came to serve. He exercised His leadership through serving others.

A Godly leader is NOT a dictator.
A Godly leader is NOT a dominator.
A Godly leader is NOT demanding.

Rather, he is a helper. Specifically, he is HER helper. He needs the gifts of his wife. He needs the insights of his wife. It is wrong to think of a husband as a demanding husband who forces his wife to submission. In fact, a husband could NEVER force a woman to submit. Why? Because submission has to do with the heart. It is a heart attitude. Yes, the husband may eventually FORCE the wife to obey, but the husband can NEVER force her to submit. That is her own heart attitude towards her husband before the Lord.

So then, what is a Godly Leader look like in a husband?

John 10:27 - My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;
Here the example is set by the leader who gets in front of the sheep and sets the example for them to follow by his life that is lived. He focuses on needs of others, especially the needs of his wife. He is also goal oriented. He sets goals for the family and goals for his marriage.

Listen, the husband sets an example in every area of life. He sets an example in how much he reads, how much he watches TV, what he watches on TV, how he treats his children, how he treats his wife, how he handles his money, and how he chooses to spend time (or not spend time) with the Lord.

A Godly Husband who is a leader is one who is a problem solver. He is a teacher. He teaches his wife in the Word. He washes her with the word (Eph 5:26).

So, husbands, Mark it. Check it. Learn it. Study it. Apply it. DO it! Be a Leader for your wife.

Remember, a Godly Husband as portrayed in the Scriptures MUST BE:

(1) a Learner
(2) a Lover
(3) a Leader

Saturday, December 9, 2006

I am taking a one-day detour from my 3-part series on "A Godly Husband" because I want to write today on the necessity of biblical languages in the evangelical church. I find it sad, frankly it's depressing, that so many Pastors and even lay people are ignorant of the biblical languages. Though Geoff Kirkland is no one special in them, I am working hard so as to improve my skills to read through the Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic comfortably anywhere in the Scriptures.

I was confronted once again with a great man of old, Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) who is known for "carrying his Greek NT, the Hebrew OT, and his Latin Vulgate (notice this) along with his associates at his church.

He was a man who preached from the original texts from the pulpit. He engaged in intense exegesis and study from the original languages.

Why? What is the purpose? Why go through the rigors of learning a "dead" language?

Put it this way. Reading the Bible in a translation (i.e., English, French, Spanish, etc) could be compared to reading about a crime scene in a newspaper. However, reading the biblical text from the original languages may be comparable to actually being at the crime scene and experiencing it all - seeing the sights, smelling the scents, feeling the emotions, etc.

However, this is not to downplay or diminish one's trust in the English translation (ESV, NASB, etc), though it must be remembered that it is simply that, a TRANSLATION.

I have this burning passion in my soul that one day - when I am Pastoring a church (Lord willing)- that I would have a seminary level course always being offered on the biblical languages (from Greek, to Hebrew and to Aramaic) so the pastors and even the lay people can read the biblical text in the original.

The nuances, the emphases, the theology, the rhetorical devices, the poetic features are all absolutely wonderful - yet these nuances are lost in the carrying over from one translation to another (i.e. Hebrew to English).

My point in this post: Take seriously the thought and possibility of working on Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic. I promise you (no doubt) you will be greatly blessed for the REST OF YOUR LIFE if you keep up with them and read the Scriptures in the ancient languages that God had originally chosen to communicate his revelation to mankind with.

Here are a few sources I think are profitable:

Hebrew: here
and here

Greek: here

Aramaic: here
and here

Friday, December 8, 2006

Today is the second part of the series on what it means to be a Godly Husband, as defined in the Scriptures. Yesterday we saw that a Godly Husband is to be a Learner. Today we'll see that a Godly husband is a lover.

I. A Godly Husband is a Learner
II. A Godly Husband is a Lover

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her. So we see here that if husbands are called to love our wives just as Christ loved the church. That comparative clause (just as) introduces the standard by which something can be measured. In other words, you want to assess how well you are loving your wife, biblically? Then compare it to how Christ loved the church.

It must be noted that our American culture does not help us here as far as learning "how" to love our wives. The popular view of our culture is this macho, sexual conquest attitude. Let me take her to bed and then I'll show her how much I love her. This, however, is far from the biblical concept of love. For anyone can take, but the biblical idea of love is one of giving.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave...

Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself...

Ephesians 5:25 5 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave...

True biblical love is defined as giving. In fact, true biblical love is the real test of masculinity. A Godly Husband is a lover who gives himself unconditionally with NO expectation of receiving anything in return. Did you hear that?

Hear it again, A Godly Husband is a lover who gives himself unconditionally with NO expectation of receiving anything in return.

So, then, how does a husband express this love to his wife by giving?

(1) By loving as Christ loved (Eph 5:25)
(2) By loving First just as Christ loved us first (1 John 4:19)
(3) By loving MOST (by giving himself up for her; Eph 5:25a)
(4) By loving unmistakably (in deed and in truth; 1 John 3:18)
(5) By loving as much as we men love our own bodies (Eph 5:28)
(6) By loving in a way that is forgiving and in a way that overcomes wrong (Col 3:19)

This is the second requirement, biblically, of a Godly husband. So husbands, assess yourselves. How are you doing? Are you Learning your wife? Are you Loving your wife?

Thursday, December 7, 2006

There are three parts that I will discuss as far as being a Godly husband. I will break each of these down and present one each over the next three blogs. In sum, a Godly husband must be a Learner, a Lover, and a Leader.

But today, I want to focus on the first requirement of being a Godly husband.

I. A Godly Husband is a Learner

1 Peter 3:7-8 7 You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. Though I must do some exegesis to help you further and rightly understand the text. The phrase literally reads from the Greek, "live (dwell) together with your wives according to knowledge (gnosis). In other words, Peter is saying that the husband ought to live together with the wife according to a deep, intimate knowledge of her. He is to live life with her in a knowledgeable way.

Though the world might say, "So WHO can understand women?" the Bible says, "you can understand your wife and you will not be a good husband until get to know her." The only way a husband can get to know his wife is by SPENDING TIME WITH HER. That means, if you are going to dwell with your wife knowledgeably, then it will inevitably take much time and diligent study.

How well do you know your wife? Are you still learning about her? Or did you peak at the "learning-about-one-another" stage when you got engaged? How about dates? How often do YOU, husbands, take your wife on a date and get to know her?

Peter goes on to say, "live together with your wives according to knowledge as with a weaker vessel (lit. clay pot)." This is not saying that the wife is physically less powerful or physically weaker than the husband - though that may be true. This is saying that the husband is to care for and treat his wife as if she were the most expensive and rare of all clay pots that you had just inherited from your family. You are to treat her with the utmost gentleness and love, tender and compassion.

Why? Peter goes on to say so that your prayers may not be hindered. Some men may say, "I pray and it feels like God just isn't answering my prayers." The first thing that man ought to do is to assess his marriage and see how he is treating his wife. How is he loving her? Caring for her? Is he treating her with gentleness and care and love as he would an expensive, rare china vase?

We are to honor the Lord in this way so that our prayers are not hindered. Husbands, learn your wife. Get to know her. Study her. Learn what she likes. What she doesn't like. Spend time with her. Make her the UTMOST priority in the home - before the children, before the TV, before food, before work, before friends, whatever. You have a responsibility before God to live with your wife in a way that is "according to knowledge." May God give Godly husbands the consuming passion to honor God in and through honoring our wives.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) was noted for saying on his death bed, "Do something bold for God's sake."

Listen to a few things that Zwingli did:

(1)He memorized the Pauline Epistles - in Greek
(2)He wrote in 1516, "Led by the Word and the Spirit of GOd I saw the need to set aside all these [humanistic teachings] and to learn the doctrine of God direct from His own Word."
(3)He began the Reformation in Zurich in 1519 and announced to his congregation that instead of reading "canned" sermons, he would preach straight through the Gospel of Matthew, then with Acts, 1-2 Timothy, Galatians, 1-2 Peter and the rest of the NT. Then when the NT is finished, they'll begin the OT.
(4)Zwingli said, "If you can prove one of my articles false by means of teh Gospel, I will give you a rabbit cheese. Now let's hear it. I shall await it." :-)
(5)Zwingli held ever so strongly to the Sovereignty (or Providence) of God. He said, "I defined Providence as the rule over and direction of all things in the universe. For if anything were guided by its own power or insight, just so far would the wisdom and power of our Deity be deficient." To that I respond with an "AMEN."
(6)Zwingli held to the Clarity and Certainty of the Word of God, to expository preaching and emphasized the illumination of the Spirit. He also believed in the perspicuity (clarity) of the Scriptures.
(7) Every morning during the week, while Pastoring in Zurich, he gathered with students in an hour of intense exegesis and interpretation of Scripture. He would open in prayer, and then read the text in Latin, Greek and Hebrew. Appropriate textual and exegetical comments were made. Even lay people could hear the study if they stopped in on their way to work.
(8)Zwingli was a fabulous organist. Though he banned the organ and all instruments from the church meeting place. Thus it has been said of the Swiss reform churches, "these churches are just four bare walls and a sermon." :-)

What can we learn? The importance of understanding church history and those saints who have passed before us who took the Word of God seriously and had great discernment. We must strive to be those - like Zwingli - who proclaim the truth of the word of God at all times.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

What would you do if you were living in 16th century with Mary Tudor ("Bloody Mary") reigning if she required you to recant your faith in order to return to Romanism?

Many protestants at this time were burned because they refused to acknowledge the King (i.e. Bloody Mary) as the sovereign ruler of the church of England.

Would YOU stand up, be bold, be unashamed, unequivocally affirm that Jesus Christ is the only Sovereign because of what the Scriptures teach...even if that meant your life was at stake? Literally?

When we learned today in my Historical Theology class about these Protestants who were burned for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and refused to recant, it was sobering to me. I desperately want to be one who holds to the truth of God's Word just as these faithful men and women did in the 16th century.

Would we really be willing to die - and at that, to suffer horribly while dying - for the name of Jesus Christ? May God give us the strength to be so bold that if this is the only outcome possible, that we may be bold even to the flames for the sake of Christ.
Last night I was preaching at the rehab center again and I began a series going through Romans chapter 8. In the middle of it, I was on a sidetrack and was talking about how Jesus is our substitution and our high priest. I told them, if you want to sum up the book of Hebrews in one word, it would have to be JESUS. Jesus is better than everything. He is better than angels, Melchizedek, the Old Testament sacrificial system, etc. I hope you find encouragement in that which I was truly encouraged by.

Hebrews 7:26-28 26 For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28 For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.

We have a high priest who is exalted above the heavens (v.26). But listen, we have this exalted priest. Auctor (the respective name for the author of Hebrews which is NOT Paul) goes on to say that he does not need daily, to offer up sacrifices like all the other priests. WHY?

Well because all the other priests had to offer sacrifices not only for the sins of the people but for their own sins as well. But Jesus made an atonement for all sin once and for all when he offered himself on the cross as the spotless and perfect sacrifice.

Now hear 8:1, Auctor says, Hebrews 8:1 "Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens." Do you hear that?

Read it again: Hebrews 8:1 "Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens."

Auctor is saying that this is the main point (lit. the "top" or the "head") of what we are saying, "WE" have a high priest. Do you hear the personal relationship intended here? Do you see the intimacy? Do you grasp the reality that WE as believers have a high priest.

This is not just any ordinary Levitical high priest. No, this is one who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.

Our priest has:

(1) Sat down because His atoning work is finished. Remember when Jesus said on the cross, "It is finished" (John 19:30; Gk. tetelestai) which means that the debt has been paid in full. It was a past action with ongoing ramifications. The effects are still going on.

(2) We have a high priest who sat down at the right hand. The right hand was a place of superiority. It was a place of prominence. When you wanted to bless your children in the ancient world, you brought them to your right side and placed your right hand upon them. The right hand symbolized superiority.

(3) Jesus said down at the right hand (notice this) of the Majesty in the heavens. Jesus sat down at the most prominent place in the presence of the Majestic King of kings - Yahweh Himself. Jesus Christ has entered into heaven itself to intercede on our behalf.

This is worthy of contemplation. This is worthy of marveling. This is worthy of a deep and fervent bowing of our hearts before this great High Priest who intercedes for us, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Yesterday, Elizabeth took the day away and did a bunch of activities together:

(1) We went to her nephew's football game. But they lost :-(

(2) Then we played a little bit of frisbee - serious frisbee. :-)

(3) Then Elizabeth and I went to the beach for a walk and felt the absolute freezing cold LA water once again :-)

(4) Then She and I went to the Coffee Bean and did some studying for about 3 hours straight. Seriously. She wouldn't even sit at the same table as me - yet again. :-( I guess she thinks she won't be able to get much work done cause she has to stare at me the whole time ;-)

(5) We went to the Palms restarant. Here at the Palms you make your own steak. Literally. They give you a raw slab of meat or fish - I got the NY strip and she got the Halibut - and you go to this big grill in the middle of the restaurant and grill it yourself. It's a manly man's place :-)

Sitting at the beach in December is not really all that shabby. Those that live in 'ol St. Louis, this is the life eh? ;-)

Friday, December 1, 2006

This is a post by my friend and a tremendously zealous brother for the truth and for God's glory to be manifest. Read it, understand it, meditate on it, live for that day. This is from his blog which you can access here.

Every Knee Will BowNovember 30th, 2006

The great hope of all Christian labor and perseverance is that one day every knee will bow before our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the king of the universe and the rightful ruler of the world. If I didn’t believe this — and if God wasn’t faithful to remind me of it often — I would honestly give up. I would give up right now.

Anything less than eternal, world-wide, universal, face-to-the-ground acknowledgement of Christ as the grand, supreme Lord of all is not worth the toil of Christian service. If your motivation sinks below this high-as-the-heavens standard, I can guarantee that you will soon begin to suffer painful disillusionment and lingering discouragement.

You can work 18-hour days doing kingdom work — “night and day,” as Paul said — and you can do it out of a concrete conviction that it’s right and biblical, but if you do not have the guarantee that a day is coming when the glory of God will cover the earth like the water fills the sea, your spirit will soon expire beneath the suffocating weight of exhausting earthly realities.

Even if I were the pastor of a 20,000-member church that taught and obeyed the Bible, enjoyed biblical fellowship, supported suffering saints, stood firm for the truth in the winds of doctrinal compromise, cared nothing about the values of the world, showed compassion towards outcasts, and gave 50% of its budget to world missions, I would still look out at the dark, needy idolatry of the Muslim world and the plight of innumerable AIDS orphans in Africa and the audacity of Benny Hinn in deceiving desperate millions in India and the spinelessness of American Christianity when it comes to truth and I would simply despair.

Lived properly, the Christian life is simply too hard to bear without the promise of reward. To live as (and feel like) an alien and stranger in a foreign land your whole life is hard. To carry the burden of love for truth in the midst of an evil and adulterous generation is hard. To fight sin tooth and nail and still feel like you’re making no progress is hard. To love your enemies is hard. To swirl in mental confusion over where to ration your time and energy and resources because there is simply so much kingdom work to do is hard. To press on is hard. So hard that Paul said, “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19).

But there are no pity parties in the Christian life, because we are awaiting the great and glorious celebration of the king’s return. We will shine like the sun in the kingdom of our Father because of the bright love that has been rained down upon us from the beautiful and bloodied face of Christ. We will live forever in mansions of glory and endless delight, giving restful service to a joyful, overflowing God. We will lift our voices and clap our hands to Him who has forgiven all our sins and wiped away all our iniquities at the price of the only Son He had. And we will finally see King Jesus on His throne, ruling without end over a stunning new world where justice rules, harmony prevails, lions lie down with lambs, and tears and sorrow are wiped away.

There is coming a day when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. On that day all wrongs will be made right and all weariness will be replaced with rest. And I can find no better reason — I can find no other reason — to get back up and persevere until that day.

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” – Galatians 6:9
Another hero of mine - as far as the homiletic aspect goes - is the reformer John Knox. When he was in Geneva, Switzerland later in his life -after coming from Frankfurt, Germany - he pastored an English congregation in Geneva and he loved it.

First, did you know that Knox preached three sermons a week, every sermon lasting two to three hours. Knox is well known for his preaching: In his 2-3 hour sermons, Knox typically spent 30 minutes calmly exegeting a biblical passage. Then as he applied the text to the Scottish situation, he would become “active and vigorous” and violently pound the pulpit. Said one note taker in his congregation, “he made me so to grew [quake] and tremble, that I could not hold pen to write."

Second, Knox applied himself to pastoral duties, and in the time left over studied Hebrew, Greek, and the English Bible.

This is a preacher that I want to emulate. May I be a man that is so determined to have as my ambition to fulfill my pastoral duties and to preach the truth (2 Tim 2:15) as well as to study with great diligence Greek and Hebrew.

This is a preacher that was used mightily of God. May I be humble, faithful and yield myself to the Lord for His working in and through me.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Notice in Colossians 3:10 " and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him."

"Put on" is the Greek word enduo once again (cf. v.12) which means to "clothe yourself." Here it is in the aorist participle giving the idea that believer have put on the new man. Paul exhorts the believers in Colossae to make certain this is the case.

He goes on to say how he wants them to grow. In v. 10 they are to put on the new man by being renewed in the knowledge of the image of Him who created him. In other words, the Colossian believers were called by Paul to (1) put off the old man (v.9); (2) put on the new man; (3) be renewed unto a knowledge according to the image (Lit. "the eikon") of the One who created him.

This is Paul's goal = Christlikeness. This is Biblical clothing. Notice it is not external, but internal. Not outward, but inward. Not from the hips, but from the heart. Paul assumes that the inside will inevitably change the outside. If one is radically transformed from the inside-out, then the outside transformation will inevitably conform to that inward change.

May God grant us the grace and mercy to make these inward changes and put on the proper biblical clothing.
In my Marriage and Family Counseling course yesterday, my professor said this, "The bible must set the parameters and framework for which we see all of life. The bible is that which frames our methodology."

Immediately after he spoke this, he said, "Take your Bibles and turn to..." This has become a normal and, shall we say, habitual thing to do in our class.

WHY? Why do we make such a big deal out of the Bible? Why are we obsessed with the Bible? Why do we just have to incorporate the Bible into all that we do?


Because the Bible is indeed the very breathed out Word of God. Just like Dr. Street said, it is the Bible - not some other idea, ideology, methodology, postmodern conviction, mythical thought - that alone must set not only the parameters but also set the framework for which we see all of life. This is a statement that I hold dear to because the Scriptures have so gripped my heart and my soul that I want to do nothing in life but know the Word of God because I want to know the God of the Word.

I hold to this statement with 100% conviction. It's sad that 95% of other "Christian institutions" in the states may claim to hold to this, but when you speak of biblical counseling (if that phrase is even used), it is more of a psycho-therapeutic philosophy of helping you feel better of getting over your issues.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Colossians 3:12-14 12 And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

The verb "put on" is from the Greek, enduo meaning "I put on" or "I clothe." It is used in the NT most often for "putting on clothing" or "putting on the Godly person."

So what is the biblical clothing? Is God really, I mean...really, concerned about me wearing a tie in the pulpit? Is God really concerned as to whether I wear baggy jeans or flip flops to church or not?

I make the radical answer by saying, "NO." God doesn't care what I wear. This is not to neglect the importance of being a leader and an example to the people of God. But I often hear in circles that I'm in about how the pastor must do this, or he must do that, or he must wear this, but he must never wear that, it grieves me.

May we never lose sight of the fact that the biblical clothing that God is concerned with is the following:
1. Compassion
2. Mercy
3. Kindness
4. Humility
5. Gentleness
6. Patience
7. Bearing with one another in love
8. Forgiving one another
9. Love

So, biblically speaking, how are YOU dressing?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

External Conformity to the Law of God is NOT enough. A wealthy man once approached the Son of God and asked, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" (Mark 10:17). Jesus answered and said, in essence, "if you would enter life, then keep the commandments" (Matt 19:17).

The problem with the rigorous law-keepers of that day, and cultural fundamentalists in our own day and age is that they (and we) focus on the externals ALONE.

The problem with the wealthy man was that there was a serious malady in his heart. He lacked one thing. What was it? In essence, the attachment of that one man to his possessions needed to be replaced by an attachment to the Lord Jesus Christ. Could this be said of you and me?

We must understand that if we want to keep externals, then the standard of the law is perfection - and nothing less (cf. Matt 5:48). Jesus does not and will not ever lower that standard.

So how does Jesus solve that dilemma if we as humans cannot keep that perfect standard? Jesus removed the wrath of God on behalf of us. That is the theological doctrine of propitiation. Propitiation is defined as "removing the wrath of God." This is what Jesus did by enduring the punishment that we deserved and paying the debt we could never pay.

As a result of this propitiation, a person is then justified. Justification, therefore, is more than being declared not guilty. It is not only being acquitted faults but it goes deeper. It has the idea of declaring one absolutely righteous. Jesus Christ does not make a defendant righteous. He recognizes and declares him to be righteous. Thus, to be justified is in our relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ we are counted as perfect, even though we are still sinners in this life.

So, let us come to realize that externals and mere conformity to the Law's standards are not enough - nor will they ever be. We are sinners. That's it...plain and simple. Yet because of the Lord Jesus Christ we can be saved from the wrath of God (propitiation) and be declared absolutely righteous before God (Justification) because of what Jesus has done in our place.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Alexander Strauch in his book "Leading with Love" has some good quotes that are worthy of mention:

Strauch quotes Jonathan Edwards who once said, "[God] delights in little things when they spring from sincere love to himself. A cup of cold water given to a disciple in sincere love is worth more in God's sight than all one's goods given to feed the poor, yea, than the wealth of a kingdom given away, or a body offered up in the flames, without love" (p.15).

Strauch continues by saying, "Since love is absolutely essential to the survival of the local church, its leaders must guard their own heartfelt love for Christ and continually monitor and encourage the church's love" (p.23).

So how are we doing?
Tonight, I (once again) had Thanksgiving leftovers for dinner. It was a feast. I feel like I've eaten just as much food the past four nights as I had for the Thanksgiving Day dinner!

In any case, tonight after my turkey, sweet potatoes and dressing, I had this absolutely fabulous pumpkin cheesecake. I don't know where it came from or who made it (or bought it from someplace), but it was excellent.

This leads me to my favorite dessert place in all of L.A. If I could have dessert at just ONE place, I would (no doubt, no hesitation, no second guessing) go to the Cheesecake Factory and have a piece of their cheesecake. A Few of my favorites are:

Dulce De Leche

Vanilla Bean

White Chocolate Peanut Butter

One word sums it up: delightful.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

My verse while working in a leadership sort of position at Christ Community Church is this:
1 Timothy 4:12 12 Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.

Because I am a young guy on staff, I need to constantly remind myself of this verse. I am in a similar position to young Timothy - whom Paul wrote this letter to. Paul commanded Timothy to be a man and to be an example (a tupos); literally, a type for the believers there in Ephesus.

Furthermore, the context of this verse is worthy of mention: 1 Timothy 4:13-16 Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. 14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed upon you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. 15 Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.

Verse 13 - As a young preacher, I am called to focus on three specific points through which all other ministry should flow: (1) to read the Scriptures; (2) to exhort people from the Scriptures; and (3) to teach the Scriptures.

Verse 14 - Paul here is reminding Timothy that he was called by God and that his ministry gifts were evident to all and so Timothy is to not become so timid that he neglects the spiritual gift in which God called him to use there at the church in Ephesus.

Verse 15 - Paul says: (1) Take pains with these things; (2) be absorbed in them (lit. "Be in them"). And as a result of this the progress of young Pastor Timothy and the progress of the church will be evident to all - it will be a solid, biblical and Christ-exalting church.

Verse 16 - Paul concludes the excurses by noting personally to Timothy - as a preacher - to pay close attention both to himself and to his teaching (doctrine; didaskalos). Timothy is to persevere in them. In so doing, he will be preaching the Gospel and will ensure his own salvation and will save others through the Gospel that he is preaching.

May the Lord grant me this mindset as I serve Him at Christ Community Church. May I keep the main thing the main thing.

Friday, November 24, 2006

This is a must watch here.

Special thanks to Todd and Bob for making this post known to me.

Watch the whole video- it is only 11 minutes. It'll be an encouragement to you.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil.

The Sacred vs. Secular is an ever-present schism in the Christian community today. It is - let me say - a false dichotomy. There is nothing that is secular that can be divorced from something else that is sacred.

We were saved out of the world when we were saved, but we were left in it. It is our responsibility as NT believers to neglect this ideology that everything that I do in life is secular except for my religious activities. I am convinced that this philosophy is not honoring to the Lord.

If I say that I have to drop a class because my life is too busy with ministry activities - bible study, youth group, worship band practice, youth retreats, small groups, accountability groups and my personal bible study time - then I have completely categorized all of these activities in a spiritual sphere while everything else is left in the secular sphere.

Does not a man named Paul say 31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 And not again in Colossians 3:17 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

In Paul's mind there is no dichotomy. Our classes are spiritual. Our eating habits and times of relaxation are spiritual. At the same time, we must not say that everything is innately secular and everything is spiritual. Paul said that if I drink - do it to the glory of God; thus it is spiritual. Paul said that if I eat - do it to the glory of God; this is spiritual worship. Paul then encapsulated everything by saying whatever you do (this excludes NOTHING) - do it to the glory of God; this is a life of spiritual worship.

We must be those who live in the world, study the world, understand the world, recognize the world and live life in the world yet we MUST do this through a biblical mindset.

The point? We must so saturate our minds with the Word of God, to fall so in love with the truth of this special revelation as revealed in the pages of Scripture, that everything we see in life, do in life, read about in life, watch in life, whatever, is interpreted THROUGH the lens of the pages of Scripture. This is biblical discernment and this is what Paul is talking about here in 1 Thess 5:21-22. We must test (or approve; Gk. dokimazo) ALL THINGS. It is an imperative. Then he says, hold on (or hold fast; Gk. katecho) to that which is good. After so doing, literally it reads, "from every form (or image) of evil, you constantly be abstaining from it." How does one do this if there is no biblical discernment going on? I urge you, be saturated with the word of God.
In an article today posted here entitled "Woman Tells of Forced Marriage at Polygamist Hearing," it reads:

ST. GEORGE, Utah (Nov. 21) - A woman who says she was forced to marry her cousin when she was 14 told a judge Tuesday that she sometimes used sex to get favors from her husband, such as money and the freedom to see friends.

And more,

I would just try to be a willing, submissive wife so that he would feel good about letting me do these things and have these things," the woman, now 20, testified under cross-examination...Jeffs, 50, is charged with two counts of rape as an accomplice for his suspected role in arranging the marriage between her and her 19-year-old first cousin. The woman was testifying at a hearing for the judge to decide whether there is probable cause to send Jeffs to trial.

Finally the wife said,

The ceremony at a Nevada motel in 2001 was "one of the most painful things I've ever been through. I just want to move on with my life and forget it happened," the woman testified...She said she refused to say "I do," take her groom's hand or kiss him. Finally, she relented, submitting to a "peck" and then locking herself in the bathroom..."I felt completely trapped and defeated," she said.

This is unfortunate. The fact that a newly wed bride would have to say that my wedding was one of the most painful things I've ever done is hideous. Furthermore, the bride refused to say "I do." Then he finally relented to kiss her groom but then had to go lock herself in a bathroom because she felt defeated. This is painfully the reality of our world and its view of marriage. It is now "culturally wrong" to say a covenant of marriage because the world does not know what a true covenant really is.

This is another example of how skewed our world's view of marriage truly is. What happened to the biblical mandate of Matthew 19:5-6 'For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh '? 6 "Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." And then again in 1 Peter 3:7-8 7 You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. And even in the same context, Peter notes 8 To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit;

We need to re-teach, from square one, what the biblical mandate of marriage is, namely, a covenant of companionship for a man and a woman for a lifetime of service(notice not a man to a man or a woman to a woman) so as to bring honor, glory and praise to God.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Last night I was at the University of Judaism here in L.A. for a Lecture. Avi Faust was the lecturer on the topic of Biblical Archaeology, the prophets of Israel, and the poor. It was a good lecture, but I was floored when I heard something that the introductory speaker said.

Before Avi came up to lecture, a man recapped what last week's lecture, talked about next week, and then gave some background information of Avi. Then the introductory speaker read a Scripture from the OT on loving the poor, fatherless and widow and then he quoted a verse from the "Christian Bible" (or the NT) about loving your enemies and when Jesus said that the "poor you will always have with you."

Then just as he introduced Avi to speak, he concluded his introduction by saying, "Please forgive me for quoting either from the Hebrew Bible or from the Christian Bible."

What? Are you serious? Is this man apologizing for the Bible? Is he ashamed? Does he think the Bible will offend? Of all places, I was at the university of Judaism, you think they would - if anyone would - quote from the Hebrew Bible and not be ashamed of it.

It caused me to think as I was driving home as to how desperately sick our culture is. The world we live in today is entirely afraid of absolute truth. The day and age in which we live is completely against offending anyone. It is about comfort. It is about not offending others.

Or is it?

Are we called, as believers in the Messiah Jesus, to make certain that people feel comfortable and never offend them? Is it my responsibility after I read a passage from the Bible in church, or better yet preach in church, to apologize to the listeners for quoting from the Bible for fear that it may offend someone.
Listen, if a person is NOT offended, then they will NOT get saved. The Gospel is offensive. Hear the Apostle's words:

1 Corinthians 1:18-24 18 For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside." 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

If there is anything in our culture that is (and MUST BE) offensive, it is the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. We must never apologize for using, quoting, memorizing, praying through, meditating on or reveling in the Scriptures. If that is the case, then we fear man more than we fear God.

May we take a step of faith and be heralds of this Gospel unashamedly without ever apologizing for quoting Scripture. God be merciful on our generation.
Thou Great I AM,
Fill my mind with elevation and grandeur at the thought of a Being
with whom one day is as a thousand years,
and a thousand years as one day,
A mighty God who, amidst the lapse of worlds,
and the revolutions of empires,
feels no variableness,
but is glorious in immortality.
May I rejoice that, while men die, the Lord lives;
that, while all creatures are broken reeds,
empty cisterns,
fading flowers,
withering grass,
he is the rock of ages, the fountain of living waters.
Turn my heart from vanity,
from dissatisfactions,
from uncertainties of the present state,
to an eternal interest in Christ.
Let me remember that life is short and unforeseen,
and is only an opportunity for usefulness;
Give me a holy avarice to redeem the time,
to awake at every call to charity and piety,
so that I may feed the hungry,
clothe the naked,
instruct the ignorant,
reclaim the vicious,
forgive the offender,
diffuse the gospel,
show neighborly love to all.
Let me live a life of self-distrust,
dependence on thyself,

Anonymous, A puritan prayer

Monday, November 20, 2006

Do YOU have a philosophy of ministry? This is of utmost importance in the local church. Do you even know your church's philosophy of ministry? Every church (and ministry) is in desperate need for a philosophy of ministry because it will help keep the main thing the main thing. Paul says in 1 Cor 9:26, “Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air.” He understands the necessity of running with an aim or a purpose in mind. If you aim at nothing, you will surely hit it.

The necessity of the philosophy of ministry is crucial. If the church does not have a purpose or a goal, and especially a means of attaining and reaching those goals, then it is probable that the church will become sidetracked with other issues that will either divert from the correct path or slow down the process of attaining the goal. A philosophy of ministry will keep the ministry focused on the core elements of the church and it will determine the respective pros and cons of a new prospective ministry.

In my philosophy of ministry, I have encapsulated eight points. They all begin with:
The Purpose of the Church is to:
1. Exalt God
2. Evangelize the Lost
3. Edify Believers
4. Expositionally Teach
5. Encourage Christlikeness
6. Equip Missionaries

May we be those who are faithful to the call with which we have been called. May we be those who rightly divide the Word of Truth (2 Tim 2:15) and Preach the Word (2 Tim 4:2). God is good. His Word is worthy to be heralded. May we never forget the purpose of the church. May we always to that which will aid us in attaining those goals to the honor, glory and praise of our great God and Savior.
Literally. I have a friend from church who is getting his pilot license and he took Elizabeth and I flying - though it was a surprise to her :=)

We went to the El Monte airport (down near Pasadena) and then hopped on a four-seater and flew to Santa Barbara. We walked to the pier, had lunch, played on the beach and then went back to the plane and flew home. It was amazing weather.

Here are a few pics capturing the day:

We had a sand-castle building contest. Now tell me - honestly - who's castle is better?


But the best part of the day, I got to spend the whole day with my best friend. We had a blast.

We were able to see the glory of God's creation: Psalm 36:5-6 5 Thy lovingkindness, O LORD, extends to the heavens, Thy faithfulness reaches to the skies. 6 Thy righteousness is like the mountains of God; Thy judgments are like a great deep. O LORD, Thou preservest man and beast.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Last night Elizabeth invited a professor of ours and his wife over for dinner and I helped her set the table while she did all the hard work in preparing the delicious food :-).

It always strikes me when I'm spending time with people over a meal (or whatever) in someone's home as to how wonderful and sweet fellowship really is. Great conversation. Great fellowship. Great stories. Great laughs. Great food.

After dinner, we talked for awhile and then played some rounds of "UNO." I hope everyone knows what this card came is. We played guys vs. girls first (and the guys one - of course) and then we played individually (and I won - of course :=) ).

As Elizabeth and I were cleaning up after they left, we were talking about how wonderful it is to have people over and enjoy the privilege of serving others by inviting them into my environment. There is something personal, intimate, and vulnerable when we invite others into our territory.

Paul knew this and he expressed it thus in Romans 12:10-14 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing (dioko) hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute (dioko) you; bless and curse not.

Paul's point? We must pursue hospitality with the same degree of fervor that enemies have when they are pursuing a victim. That is the same Greek word, dioko. Are we that fervent to be hospitable? May the Lord give us strength to accomplish this NT command.
This is a must see. Al Mohler has been invited to dialogue with a panel of individuals undertaken by the Washington Post and Newsweek magazine. The issue is entitled, "Visit on Faith: Arrive with one perspective. Leave with many."

The webpage is here.

May we all be as bold as Mohler is in declaring the truth about the truth to this soceity that is afraid of the truth.
The blog has only been up for three days and it already has over 150 comments - most of whom are hostile to the truth - it is worth perusing.

Friday, November 17, 2006

I was talking with a friend yesterday and the issue of eternal security came up. My heart has been drawn to the book of 1 John because that is what I have been preaching through the last year at a rehab center. I go to this rehab center to preach, I am not actually in the rehab center :=) ).

In any case, we finished the book last week from 1 John 5:13-21 and i was amazed at verse 18. Here is what it says: 1 John 5:18 18 We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him and the evil one does not touch him.

I am convinced from this verse (and a host of others) that no person can ever, EVER lose their salvation after truly being regenerate. Yes I take a Calvinistic view on eternal security, Lord-ship salvation and the like, but here is the issue:

This verse says that "he who was born of God keeps him." Let me make a few observations that may help out:

(1) He who was born of God = this is the second member of the triune God, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is an Aorist Passive Participle which shows that it was a one time act in the past. In other words, it is contrasted with the Perfect Passive participle earlier in the verse ("no one who has been born of God sins" = this is the believer). So we know that the subject here in v.18b is the Lord Jesus Christ.

(2) Jesus then keeps him. The word for keep is tereeo. It has the idea of keeping, preserving, holding, or guarding. This is in the context of eternal issues. This is what the Apostle John began in the context of 5:13- 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life. The context here is the eschaton - not simply physical life or physical death.

(3) Jesus is the one who keeps him. This pronoun here (auton) refers back to the Perfect Passive participle "he who has been born of God" = the Christian.

Here is what this verse is then teaching. We know that every single believer in God does not continually (as a habitual pattern) live a life of sin. But on the other hand, He who has been born of God (namely, the Lord Jesus Christ), is continually keeping him and the evil one (Satan) is not ever going to touch him.

I made this statement yesterday, why don't we all chew on this today: I am utterly convinced - from Scripture - that if I could ever lose my salvation; if it were possible to forfeit the grace of God after being regenerated and justified; if I can genuinely once be saved and then at a later point in life lose my eternal security, then I would. In other words, if Geoff Kirkland could ever lose his salvation (from the Divine perspective), then I would, because there is no way that Geoff Kirkland could ever keep himself in the power of God. Geoff is a sinner. Geoff has a sinful nature. Geoff is still in this fleshly, sinful body. Yet it is because of the power of God and the security I have - not in Geoff Kirkland - but in the Lord Jesus Christ that I can confidently say with all 100% confidence that I am a believer and I am SURE that I am destined for heaven when I die - or when the Lord returns, whichever comes first.

May the Lord grant us humility and perseverance in our Christian lives.
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