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.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I was in the Jaguar dealership today cause there is a Starbucks there doing some studying because one of my classes was cancelled today. As I was sitting at a round table with nice, leather, comfy chairs surrounded by people with loads of more money that I’ll ever have, a man walked in who was obviously homeless and he walked in and sat down on a chair in front of the TV in the Starbucks section of the dealership.

Within one minute, two security officers came up and escorted the man out. He didn’t do anything wrong. He didn’t bother anyone. He just came in and sat down. Yet simply because of his appearance and the realization that there is a “lower-class citizen” in the “upper-class citizens” turf, he was immediately escorted out.

Is this right? Is this wrong? Was it safety precautions? Was it for the sake of preserving the professional appearance of the dealership? But I was surprised how quickly the situation unraveled. May I not be one who judges on the outward appearance but be a person who loves everyone.
One does not have to go back very far in history to recognize that the pastor was once a highly esteemed and respected figure in society. Yet today, the pastor, I would venture to bet, is barely on par with a car salesman. Why is this the case today in our 21st century post modern culture?

I think it is because we as Christians (those who are truly regenerate and those who claim the title “Christian” but who are truly unregenerate) do not live a life that is worthy of the calling to which we have been called (Phil 1:27; Eph 4:1; Col 1:10; 1 Thess 2:12).

Take one of these verses for example: Paul’s prayer for the Colossians is “that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col 1:10).

If we truly took this verse to heart and we, as born-again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, would truly make it our passionate pursuit in life to walk worthily of the Lord. Remember the biblical concept of walking is the idea of a lifestyle, a pattern, a consistent habitual course of action. In other words, a “Christian’s” life is to be characterized by the reality of walking worthily of the Lord.

What does that mean? Paul continues by elaborating so we are not in need to speculate. He says that this means that we:

(1) please him in all respects. Not in some ways. Not when we feel like it. Not only when we’ve had a full night of sleep and feel rested. Not only when we have had a meal and are energized to live for him. This means that we make it our conscious determination in life to please God in everything that we do (cf. 1 Cor 10:31; Col. 3:17, 23).
(2) bear fruit in every good work. We bear fruit as we live to the glory of God. We can bear fruit by discipling others. We can bear fruit by consciously remembering that we must remain (though it is a dual responsibility – both the divine and human) in the vine, namely, Jesus Christ. We are to bear fruit in every good work. This cannot be done in a half effort, lazy attitude going through life. Rather, this takes a deliberate desire to serve God to the maximum and accomplish the most for His glory and His glory alone.
(3) increase in the knowledge of God. This does not come by the bible sitting on the shelf throughout the week. This requires diligent study. It requires pouring into the Word of God to find the deep truths of God so that we can be transformed by the Spirit of God. This is what Paul intends to get across to the believers in the city of Colossae. That means picking up a theology book and seeking to plunge the depths of both the riches and wisdom of God that are revealed in the pages of Scripture. This is a lifelong endeavor. It will never be exhausted. May we be men and women who study diligently and regularly the Word of God so that we may be approved and growing in the knowledge of God.

If we as protestant, evangelical, Christian people would understand and be gripped by this reality, our lives would be radically different. This difference would thus invoke persecution. It would beg for suffering. It would beg for ostracizing. Yet God is faithful. What are we afraid of? Why would one not want to give their life to serving God and being the man that God has determined to be his representative in our culture. May we seek to live lives that are different. May we be those who are respected in our culture; those who are revered; those who are looked up to; those who model their lives after; those who seek to pray for; those who long to imitate. May it never be said of us that we – as Christians – are no different than a car salesman. Let’s transform our world. This can be done with one soul that is willing to be wholly submissive to the will of God. May we set our affections on this. God help us.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

So I go through a pound of coffee really fast. I don't know how I do it. But it just sorta happens! My roommate works at Starbucks full time and so I always am on his case about bringing his "free pound of coffee" home each week for the "roommates." :-)

Just to give you a taste as to what goes IN my coffee:

In my refrigerator I have 5 creamers - not the small dinky ones, but the real manly ones:

(1) Vanilla Chai Latte (this is my new favorite one)
(2) Hazelnut
(3) French Vanilla (fat free)
(4) Gingerbread
(5) Pumpkin Spice

Folks, I normally don't boast about my addictions, but I felt that this was a necessary issue to bring up. I am a proud lover of Coffee-mate creamer as well as Starbucks and Trader Joe's coffee.

Elizabeth helps me drink it too, so it makes it all the more worth it :=)
May we never forget that anywhere we go, we are ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor 5:20). We are not our own, but we have been bought with a price, therefore [we must] glorify God with our body (1 Cor 6:20).

So then why is it that we as Christians can go into a restaurant and, for the most part, be surrounded by many people lost and on a one-way road to hell feel that we can "lay aside" our Christian conduct and treat other people with contempt?

My teacher, mentor, friend and hero Todd Bolen posted this link in his blog here. Here is the link that we need to read. It is about some Christians who came to a restaurant and forfeited their Christian witness because of the lack of respect, honor, generosity and the excessive amount of pride that was manifested. The link is here. We all need to read this, be convicted and then read 2 Cor 8-9 and the whole Bible again and find out that Christ didn't hold anything back, he gave himself to the utmost. How much more should we as his disciples do the same.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I do not ever foresee this happening someday in the future when I am pastoring, but who knows, crazy things do happen.

If you have a minute and a half, this is definitely worth it. It's a good laugh!
Does this verse just rock your world? Ephesians 3:12 in whom [Christ] we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him [Christ]. .

There are a few points here that are worthy of mention:
(1) There is an inclusio here. An inclusio is a sort of "book-endings" way to emphasize a point. For example, in this verse, we have two pieces of bread and the meat is in the middle. Christ is mentioned at the beginning and at the end of the verse. This rhetorical device was common in the first century Greek writing (and especially among the Pauling writing) to emphasize not only the bookends but what is sandwiched in the middle.

(2) The reality that Paul says "we." Paul doesn't just say "Christians," or even "I." We often think that Paul is a super-Christian who had special access to the presence of Almighty God. However this is not the case, Paul says "we." That means that all believers - men or women, Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, young or old - alike can partake in this bold access before God. This is personal. This is heart-gripping. This is the Gospel.

(3) Notice it is a present "we have." Not "we had" or "we shall have one day" but rather "we are constantly having." We - who are born again believers - are constantly having access to God. We do not have to wait till that one day - once a year - when the priest can enter the Holy of Holies and be in the presence of God. We - personally - can approach God at any time

(4) We have boldness and access in (or with) confidence. Did you know that? You can approach the God who made the Universe with boldness and confidence? The word here for boldness (parrysia) was used in the first century Roman world of a prisoner who was standing before a judge and allowed to give his honest and bold defense without restraint. This is how we - as believers - can (and should) approach God. We can approach him with confidence and boldness.

(5) Yet this confidence comes only one way. It doesn't come through any merit that you or I may bring to the table. It does not come through impressing God with a biblical knowledge. It is not attained through doing penance or even because of guilt-stricken conscience. Rather, this confidence is obtained through faith in Him. This faith must be "in Him" (or it could be translated "received by Him." Confidence and boldness to God is only through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. There is no other way to have access to God.

May we never forget the privilege we - as believers - possess. God is good. He is faithful. Yet, at the same time, we can approach this thrice-holy God with boldness and access in confidence.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

In our Hebrew class at the college yesterday we studied the song of Hannah. We have been going through the book of 1 Samuel - but we only have four weeks left in the semester and we are just beginning chapter 2 - we must pick up the pace if we want to finish the rest of the book in four weeks :-)

In any case, in 2:10 it reads: 1 Samuel 2:10 "Those who contend with the LORD will be shattered; Against them He will thunder in the heavens, The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; And He will give strength to His king, And will exalt the horn of His anointed."
When Hannah sang this she made two comments that the liberals are desperate to redact:

(1) The mention of a "KING" - because when Hannah sang this, there was NO king in Israel. In fact, this is the time of the judges - Judges 21:25 5 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

(2) The mention of the "Anointed" - in Heb - m'schicho. It literally reads, "His anointed one." She is speaking of the coming Messiah - the Lord Jesus Christ who would come 1100 years later. She understands that Israel is in dire need of a deliverer and only Yahweh can provide that one - in fact, that deliverer must be God Himself - which is exactly what the NT portrays in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Praise be to God for this powerful verse that exemplifies the omniscience, foreknowledge and sovereignty of God Almighty!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Galatians 3:22 22 But the Scripture has shut up all men under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
This verse has the Gospel. All of it. In this short verse is contained:
(1) The Sufficiency and Authority of the Scriptures
(2) Total Depravity - that all men are "shut up" under sin
(3) The Faithfulness of God - by bringing out His promises
(4) The Savior - the Lord Jesus Christ
(5) Vicarious Substitutionary atonement - is implied here when the promise of faith
is given by those who trust in Jesus Christ and NOT in their own merit
(6) The Neccesity of true and Saving Faith in the Messiah, Jesus Christ
(7) Salvation offered as a free gift - no works salvation here; it "might be given"
(8) All who come to Christ will receive Him. He will in no way ever cast any out. This is seen by the phrase "given to those who believe."

The Gospel is basic enough for a child to understand, yet so complex (and inexhaustible) because it originated from the Divine mind. What can we say but "Oh What a Savior! Too marvelous to Conceive! I Trust in Thee Today!"

As J. Wilbur Chapman wrote in 1910:

Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Savior, makes me whole.

Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.
Last night I went up to the mountains and saw perhaps one of the best and clearest nights of the billions and billions of stars in our galaxy.

And I was reminded of Psalm 8:3-5 3 When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, The moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; 4 What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him? And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him? 5 Yet Thou hast made him a little lower than God, And dost crown him with glory and majesty!

The thought that the Biblical text says "16 And God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. 17 And God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth" (Genesis 1:16-17) is amazing that God created every single individual star.

May we never lose sight of the greatness of our God. This God who created the universe, the billions of stars and galaxies is in a personal and immanent relationship with His creature. Does that baffle your mind? It should. But let us marvel in the glory of God's grace today.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

John Piper, in his recent work What Jesus Demands from the World has an excellent introduction entitled, "A Word to Biblical Scholars (and those who wonder what they are doing). In this chapter Piper speaks on the Quest for the Historical Jesus. One may wonder, "what is wrong with questing for the historical Jesus?" Nothing, if the information gathered is from the NT Gospels. But unfortunately, in recent centuries, scholars have gone elsewhere to search and gather information on the "historical Jesus."

Piper says, "The quest for the Historical Jesus is not that nothing sure can be said about Jesus, but that the effort to go behind the four New Testament Gospels launches one onto a sea of speculation that has arrived at no island that could be called a reliable portrait of Jesus" (p.30).

It is commonly agreed among scholars that there have been (even up to the present) three historical "quests" for this Historical Jesus.

The First began with Benedict Spinoza in 1632 and then was enhanced by Albert Schweitzer in 1875. The premise behind this first quest was to downplay and even diminish the supernatural that is found in the four NT Gospels. If there is a miracle, there has to be some explanation to "explain it away," Spinoza would say.

The second quest was headed by Rudolf Bultmann, Ernst Kasemann and other German scholars in the early 1970's who also wanted to exterminate the supernatural miracles of Jesus from the Jesus record. They wanted to find the historical Jesus "behind" the gospels and see the sources that the Gospel writers used when penning the gospel record.

The third quest (and even continuing to the present) began in the early 1980's and some would say is headed by modern NT Scholars. It attempts, once again to seek to undermine the authority and integrity of the NT Gospel accounts. Piper notes, "No reliable or lasting portrait of Jesus has ever been reconstructed from going behind what the four Gospels portray. There is no reason to think this will change" (p.33).

In sum, I add my word of agreement with Piper in saying that the NT Gospels are all that we need to find out who the "Historical Jesus" really is. There is NO need to search anywhere else - especially "Q" (since it doesn't even exist). The Jesus of the Gospels is the most radical Jesus that anyone could ever construct. That is the glory of the Gospels. That is the glory of the Gospel. To destroy the supernatural in the NT Gospel accounts is to destroy the supernaturalness of Jesus and thus say He was not able to perform miracles. If this is their Jesus, then there is no Salvation with this Jesus. However, the NT Gospel accounts declare over and over and over (with many witnesses) that Jesus is indeed the One who is sent from God - and who is Himself very God - and one of the ways he proved this claim was by His supernatural miracles that are so accurately penned for us in the four NT Gospel accounts.

"The Critical need in the church and the world is the "real Jesus" of the Gospels" (p.35). Piper quotes Johnson [in The Real Jesus] by saying, "The Jesus to whom Saint Francis of Assisi appealed in his call for a poor and giving rather than a powerful and grasping church was NOT the Historical Jesus but the Jesus of the Gospels. One must only wonder why this Jesus is not also the "real Jesus" for those who declare a desire for religious truth, and theological integrity, and honest history."

To that, I conclude by saying "AMEN." There is no need to go anywhere else but the four NT Gospel accounts - which are completely accurate, historical and verifiable to reveal who this Jesus of history really is. Praise be to God for the Supernatural work of Jesus Christ!

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

If someone were married and said, "God does not want me in a bad marriage, therefore it will be OK if I divorce and get remarried and then be happy."

What do you do?

The answer to this scenario MUST be "no." It is NOT OK to divorce because one spouse is unhappy. This is NOT acceptable. The Scriptures teach that God commands us to be Holy. No where does he ever say that He is seeking our happiness. We must remember one statement, God does not want you to be happy, but holy.
Yes the God of the Bible is BOTH a Transcendent God and an Immanent God. That is to say, when we speak of God's Transcendence, we speak of his "otherness." On the other hand, when we speak of God's Immanence, we speak of his "nearness" and "actions" in our lives.

The open theism movement in our modern day stresses the immanence of God - that is, that God is personally involved in human relationships and He lures us, by his love, to respond in different ways - and yet deemphasizes the transcendence of God - that is, that the Holy, Righteous and Merciful God is so "other than" human beings.

The Scriptures affirm both of these doctrines all over the Scriptures. It may be an interesting study to search the Bible for verses that affirm both of these theological doctrines about God. For example, here is one that must not be overlooked:

Hosea 11:9 9 I will not execute My fierce anger; I will not destroy Ephraim again. For I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst, And I will not come in wrath.
Here Yahweh is speaking and affirms both his Transcendence (The Holy One) and yet at the same time, his immanence (In your midst).

Have you ever contemplated this reality? That the Almighty, Holy, Righteous, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Omnipotent, Self-existing, Creative, Loving and Eternal GOD would really dwell in our midst? The notion that the God of the universe is in our midst - in our presence is breathtaking. This, of course, was fully revealed in the person and work of the Second Person of the Triune God - the Lord Jesus Christ.

May we meditate and bath ourselves in this blessed reality that God - the Transcendent One - is also immanent - near to us! Praise Be to God!

Sunday, November 5, 2006

So this should sum up the day that Elizabeth and I had on an absolutely fabulous November day in sunny L.A....

We did see some elephant seals... they were noisy and entertaining.

Then we had an excellent Tri-tip sandwich and Clam Chowder lunch at Pismo beach...

We concluded the day with a beautiful drive of the scenery...

So it was a great day. Great weather. Great sites. Great animals. Great food. Many laughs. Most of all, I was able to spend all day with a great girl!

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Today I am going to have some fun. Elizabeth and I are driving up Highway 1 - the coast out here that would take you from L.A. to San Francisco. Though we won't be going that far north, here are a few sites we will see.

Then we will also see

We will also take a look at some elephant seals:

The greatest part is that I get to do all of this with my favorite girl, Elizabeth. May the Lord be honored today in all the fun that we have :-)

Friday, November 3, 2006

What kind of example could this possibly set for the world when someone in this leader's church said, "It made me angry that here's someone preaching about gay marriage and going behind the scenes having gay sex."
Furthermore, "The acting senior pastor at New Life, Ross Parsley, told KKTV-TV of Colorado Springs that Haggard admitted that some of the accusations were true."
And again, the fact that talk about a pastor is, "People are always saying stuff about Pastor Ted," she said. "You just sort of blow it off. He's just like anyone else in the public eye."
It is disturbing to hear, "I just want people to step back and take a look and say, 'Look, we're all sinners, we all have faults, but if two people want to get married, just let them, and let them have a happy life,'"
So what kind of example are we, as evangelical Christians setting in our culture today? For it is - truly - a lost and dying world that we live in. Furthermore, it is a watching world. The watch our every move.
Are we being mindful of the Scriptural revelation?
2 Corinthians 2:15-17 15 For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16 to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? 17 For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.
I pray that we would take a step up and be "above reproach" (1 Tim 3:2). May we remember that we are called to be "in the world, but not of the world." We are called to be different than the way the world acts. We are NOT to engage in the sinful affairs that entangles our culture. May we take this as a sober wake-up call to be blameless and above reproach so as to please our Creator and Savior.


Wednesday, November 1, 2006

In 1 Corinthians 13, known as the "love chapter," Paul lays forth three characteristics of love:
I. The Demand for Love (vv.1-3)
II. The Definition of Love (vv.4-7)
III. The Durability of Love (vv.8-13)

I. The Demand for Love (vv.1-3)
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Paul here lays forth how love is the absolute core of the Gospel. If we have everything in the world, yet lack in love, we have nothing. In Paul's terminology, if I have the tongues of men and angels, if I have prophecy, if I know all mysteries and have all knowledge, even if I have all faith, and may even give all my possessions to the poor, and even if I am a martyr and die in the flames - yet without love all of these characteristics are worthless (lit. "it profits me nothing").
II. The Definition of Love (vv.4-7)
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
So here Paul is giving a concise definition of love. He begins the section with he agape signaling that all of the following subordinate clauses are under this main thought.
Think about how significant it is for Paul to say that love - true and biblical love is patient, kind, not jealous. It sure doesn't seek its own. Love does NOT take into account a wrong suffered. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Paul must be crazy. This love that he talks about is counter cultural. This would make the hair on the back of our culture's neck stick straight up. Why would love "not seek its own?" Why should love "bear all things? Why should love endure all things? Simply because this is the love that Jesus Christ demonstrated on the cross (cf. John 13:1 - he loved them "unto the max").
III. The Durability of Love (vv.8-13)
1 Corinthians 13:8 - 14:1 8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Love - that is, true and lasting biblical love - never fails. How needed for our uncommitted culture who is afraid to commit to genuine love to hear this statement. Even if all else passes away, love never will. Even if all knowledge, tongues, prophecies - everything - were to pass away, love will still endure. Though at this point, faith, hope and love still endure - but Paul reveals that the greatest of these is love.
One day our hope will no longer be needed because our hope will be a present reality - in the presence of Christ (1 John 3:2-3). Also, our faith is needed for this present time - until our Savior raptures us (or we die) and then faith is no longer needed cause faith is the assurance of things "not seen" (Heb 11:1,6). Yet, there is no passing for love. Love will always endure. Perhaps this is conceived in the notion that in eternity we will always contemplate and ponder the cross - the atonement. What Love! What Sacrifice! What Forgiveness! The epitome of love was demonstrated at Calvary's Cross. May we be individuals today who are characterized by this kind of self sacrificing (agape) love.
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