Thursday, April 30, 2009

I just turned in my last research paper for the Master's Seminary (assuming I don't get it back with the big words typed across the top "REWRITE!"). It's sort of weird because I've spent the last four years of my life turning in research papers at this school! But, I just turned in my last paper and am awaiting the next step, Lord willing, in life--pursuing a PhD at Baptist Bible Seminary in NT under the supervision of Dr. Rod Decker. I plan to do research in the area of intertextuality and/or the NT's use of the OT.

Though at times, I feel like this kid:I must bear in mind that if God brings you to it, he'll see you through it. Praise God! I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at TMS and am grateful to the LORD for carrying me through the programs there. I feel like my preaching skills, exegetical precision, and theological accuracy has solidifed--and for that, I am tremendously thankful to God!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

“Tell stories from the pulpit!” is often a phrase that many expository preachers decry, but I am of the opinion that there is the proper place and use for such “stories.” By stories, I do not mean that you read a 3-page story downloaded from the internet to support a point. By story, in this present context, I simply mean a short anecdote, a pithy illustration, a visual simile so that the audience can see what you are saying.

As the preacher, you want your people to track with you at all times in the sermon. You want them to see it, feel it, taste it, smell it, and be there! You want there to be an audible gasp at the climax of your illustration or anecdote. Obviously, the prince at this was Charles Spurgeon. He was the master of causing you to feel what you are hearing. Read this excerpt:

“It is pleasant to pass over a country after a storm has spent itself; to smell the freshness of the herbs after the rain has passed away, and to note the drops while they glisten like purest diamonds in the sunlight. That is the position of a Christian. He is going through a land where the storm has spent itself upon his Saviour’s head, and if there be a few drops of sorrow falling, they distill from clouds of mercy, and Jesus cheers him by the assurance that they are not for his destruction. But how terrible is it to witness the approach of a tempest: to note the forewarnings of the storm; to mark the birds of heaven as they droop their wings; to see the cattle as they lay their heads low in terror; to discern the face of the sky as it groweth black, and look to the sun which shineth not, and the heavens which are angry and frowning! How terrible to await the dread advance of a hurricane—such as occurs, sometimes, in the tropics—to wait in terrible apprehension till the wind shall rush forth in fury, tearing up trees from their roots, forcing rocks from their pedestals, and hurling down all the dwelling-places of man! And yet, sinner, this is your present position. No hot drops have as yet fallen, but a shower of fire is coming. No terrible winds howl around you, but God’s tempest is gathering its dread artillery. As yet the water-floods are dammed up by mercy, but the flood-gates shall soon be opened: the thunderbolts of God are yet in his storehouse, but lo! the tempest hastens, and how awful shall that moment be when God, robed in vengeance, shall march forth in fury! Where, where, where, O sinner, wilt thou hide thy head, or whither wilt thou flee? O that the hand of mercy may now lead you to Christ! He is freely set before you in the gospel: his riven side is the rock of shelter. Thou knowest thy need of him; believe in him, cast thyself upon him, and then the fury shall be overpast for ever.” (Morning and Evening, Morning, Feb. 25th)

May we be those preachers who apply this to our preaching so that we’re not exegetical dump trucks backing up to the Sunday morning dock and then dumping everything upon our hearers. We will sooner drown them with boredom than save them with the gospel!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Preach the Word!

One of the greatest calls of God given to man is the responsibility to preach His divine message to lost souls. That all men are sinners, doomed for God’s terrifying and eternal wrath is the fundamental truth and underlying predicament revealed in the Scriptures—both Old and New Testaments. What is so common, unfortunately, in today’s churches is for the Bible to be set aside and replaced by dramas, pithy pep-talks, seeker-sensitive dialogues which may give a few truths here and there intermixed with many untruths.

God’s Word clearly reveals that it is through the word of Christ that one believes and is saved (Rom 10:17). Therefore, how ought we as preachers to seek to save one’s soul if we set aside the only means that can accomplish that very reality? Of course, the preacher cannot save the soul of anyone. But it is God speaking through the preacher who speaks His words boldly with clear application so the listeners know that “a prophet has been in their midst” (Ezek 33:33).

How utterly foolish it is for pastors and preachers who have been entrusted by God to shepherd, feed, and protect their flock to set aside the living, active, and sharp sword of God’s Word. It is the Word which gives life. It is the Word which convicts. It is the Word which reproves. It is the Word which reveals and offers salvation. It is The Word of Life that can forgive one’s sins and reconcile a radically wretched sinner with a wholly worthy God. Preacher—hear the plea, never forsake the Word of God. Preach it! And then preach it more! And then preach it over and over again. Preach it cover to cover. Preach it thoroughly. Preach it provocatively. Preach it authoritatively. Preach it applicationally. Preach it as if you were the mouthpiece for God declaring not your own words but His words—because YOU ARE! Therefore, preacher, PREACH THE WORD.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I have been convicted recently regarding my prayer life. I think all Christians face this periodically. And though all Christians do pray, we all acknowledge that we don't pray enough. It's painfully convicting to read through the Scriptures, do an in-depth study of the prayers therein, and then compare them with our own prayers. Most of the time, this leads to the conclusion that our prayers are very man-centered (anthropocentric) rather than God-centered (theocentric). How disappointing this must be to our great God!

As I was talking with a man in our church today over lunch, we discussed the utter necessity to persevere in the practice of prayer. We must not give in to the laziness of prayer that so often characterizes our prayers. Why is it that our mid-week prayer services are often the least attended service in the church calendar? Why is it that when we open it up for corporate prayer, very few people pray? And those that leastdo pray, it's usually the women.

Of course, I praise God for the prayers of the women, but where are the men? Where is the male leadership when it comes to this essential discipline in the Christian life? I firmly believe that part of the reason the church is in the current state it's in lies in the sad--albeit true--reality that our men have failed to lead in being fervent prayer warriors in our churches! I've thought on this quite a bit and I think I'm right in this regard.

I believe that a prayerless Christian is a non-Christian. One who claims to have fellowship with God MUST commune and communicate with his God. Consider this thought: the health and vibrancy of your spiritual life may be ascertained by looking in your prayer closet. If you do this, what is the spiritual state of your life? Are you dead already? Are you in critical condition? Are you in ICU? Is the ambulance coming to pick you up already?

Let us take heed to the convicting--yet necessary--words from Martyn Lloyd-Jones:
"When a man is speaking to God he is at his very acme. It is the highest activity of the human soul, and therefore it is at the same time the ultimate test of a man's true spiritual condition. There is nothing that tells the truth about us as Christian people so much as our prayer life. Everything we do in the Christian life is easier than prayer" (Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 46).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Last night I preached on Psalm 19:7-14 on God's Revelation in His Word. The text is absolutely packed with truth regarding the doctrine of the Bible ("bibliology"), the character of God ("theology proper"), and the doctrine of salvation and sanctification ("soteriology"). If you so choose, I will post the link here if you want to listen to it. I was greatly blessed in my studies and even while I was preaching as the text encouraged and challenged my heart anew. Praise God!

Also, here's a tidbit from The Valley of Vision:
I thank thee that many of my prayers have been refused--
I have asked amiss and do not have,
I have prayed from lusts and been rejected,
I have longed for Egypt and been given a wilderness.
Go on with thy patient work, answering 'no' to my wrongful prayers, and fitting me to accept it.
Purge me from every false desire, every base aspiration, everything contrary to thy rule.
I thank thee for thy wisdom and thy love,
for all the acts of discipline to which I am subject,
for sometimes putting me into the furnace to refine my gold and remove my dross.
No trial is so hard to bear as a sense of sin.
If thou shouldst give me choice to live in pleasure and keep my sins,
or to have them burnt away with trial,
give me sanctified affliction.
Deliver me from every evil habit, every accretion of former sins,
everything that dims the brightness of thy grace in me,
everything that prevents me taking delight in thee

Friday, April 10, 2009

A meditation from Mr. Spurgeon,

One week-night, when I was sitting in the house of God, I was not thinking much about the preacher's sermon, for I did not believe it. The thought struck me, How did you come to be a Christian? I sought the Lord. But how did you come to seek the Lord? The truth flashed across my mind in a moment—I should not have sought Him unless there had been some previous influence in my mind to make me seek Him. I prayed, thought I, but then I asked myself, How came I to pray? I was induced to pray by reading the Scriptures. How came I to read the Scriptures? I did read them, but what led me to do so? Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, "I ascribe my change wholly to God."


Monday, April 6, 2009

Hey everyone,

We announced yesterday that Israel sign ups are now open to anyone interested in going with us! We have limited spaces you won't beat the price--anywhere! Just to let you know how fast this is going, we announced it yesterday in church and by the end of the morning we had four people signed up with the deposit handed in. So don't waste time! Pray about it, and then when the Lord confirms your desire to go, write a check and send it to us so we can secure your spot for this unforgettable trip!

We had a wonderful time this February in the land of Israel and we trust it'll be the same this December.

Go here to download the sign-up sheet.

Go here to see our trip itinerary.

Come join us as we travel to the Holy Land!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Book Review:

Lou Priolo. Teach Them Diligently: How to Use the Scriptures in Child Training (Woodruff, SC: Timeless Texts, 2000).

Abstract: This work assists parents in the role of child training in that it clearly explains the need for the parent to know the Scriptures, understand the Scripture, and apply the Scriptures to every aspect of life—including parenting! He focuses on the reality that child rearing involves the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures, and time. With God’s help and with His sufficient Word, the Christian parent and implement God’s Word in every aspect of parenting and trust God to bring about the result that would bring Him the greatest honor and glory.

Review by: Geoffrey R. Kirkland

associate pastor l CCC

Priolo begins the work by stating: “There are at least three essential ingredients necessary to produce the Christ-like maturity you are to be endeavoring to produce in your children. They are the Spirit, the Scriptures, and time” (2). Noteworthy, the Scriptures can be learned by any child as soon as he is capable of understanding anything! Of course, Priolo argues through the course of the book, the goal of parenting is to make the child like Christ. That is an impossible task humanly speaking, but nonetheless, it is the task which God has sovereignty granted to all parents!

After the introductory chapter, he proves the necessity of teaching the Scriptures to the children. In fact, he spends a bulk of the chapter exhorting the parents to know the Word themselves first! He says: “If you are going to teach your children God’s Word, you must know the Scriptures yourself” (11). To quote him at length:

What then are the means whereby you may impress these Scriptures on your heart? They are regular Bible reading and Bible study, biblical discourse (letting the word of Christ richly dwell within you involves ‘teaching and admonishing one another with psalms [and] hymns [and] spiritual songs,’ etc.), especially with your children (‘and you shall …talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up’), listening to the teaching and preaching of God’s Word, and, perhaps most importantly, daily meditation on the Scriptures (which we shall study later). Yet beyond all of this, having God’s Word on your hearts means that the Scriptures are governing all areas of your life. When God’s Word is on your heart, it affects your entire life” (13).

An important truth as revealed in Deuteronomy 6 is the reality of teaching the child “in the milieu”—that is, in the situation itself.

The necessity of convicting and correcting with God’s Word is also important as the parent not only seeks to teach the Word of God, but the parent must convict the child of sin and correct that behavior to put off the sin and put on Christ as Lord.

Not only is the book very theological (which it is) and biblical (which it is), but it is loaded with very practical helps. He gives, for instance, some practical examples of training the child with the Scriptures: start the child on a regular program of Scripture memory, train the child to meditate on Scripture, apply appropriate Scripture passages to all areas of life, train the child to obey your instructions the first time, train the child to communicate biblically, and train the child to think biblically about all aspects of life.

He includes a helpful chapter on disciplining children and ascertaining how and when to discipline the child. How young is too young? How old is too old? When should the discipline take place? In public? In private? Hard? Soft? What if the child says, “I’m sorry?” All of these are questions that Priolo answers with biblical support in the chapter entitled The Rod and Reproof.

Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned from the book was Priolo’s emphasis on teaching the child in the moment. If the child is caught in a lie, take the time and get to the root issue in the child’s heart, bring appropriate Scriptures to the fore, and help the child himself think through how he ought to change and what practical ways he can start to implement this change!

I would highly recommend this book to any young married couple who will soon have children. I would also commend this book to all couples who are in the midst of raising children. Not only are there practical helps contained in the book, but Scripture verses are replete in every chapter! It is, indeed, a manual on how to use the Scriptures in child training

Friday, April 3, 2009

We have looked at seven of the most serious assaults of the Roman Catholic Church on biblical Christianity. To review, here they are:

1. The Supremacy of God’s Words in the Bible

2. The Sufficiency of God’s Son

3. The Singularity of God’s Gospel

4. The Sovereign Grace of God

5. The Security of God’s Children

6. The Sanctity of God’s Church

7. The Severity of God’s Judgment

We have looked at each of these briefly giving the Catholic view and then the Scriptural rebuttal which, in every case, contradicts and trumps the RC doctrine. I am troubled when I read of a movement forming (which is actually one of many), Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) which is signed by leaders of both the RC church as well as the Evangelical church (signed in 1994, 1997, 2002 and most recently in 2005). ECT says:

We give thanks to God that in recent years many Evangelicals and Catholics, ourselves among them, have been able to express a common faith in Christ and so to acknowledge one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. We confess together one God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; we confess Jesus Christ the Incarnate Son of God; we affirm the binding authority of Holy Scripture, God’s inspired Word; and we acknowledge the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds as faithful witnesses to that Word.

The very last thing I can ever think to do would be to sign an agreement with another religion that anathematizes (i.e. damns as worthy of eternal hell) those who believe in justification by faith alone apart from human merit. The RC church teaches in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1459:

The sinner must "make satisfaction for" or "expiate" his sins. This satisfaction is also called "penance."

And again in paragraph 1477:

"In this way they attained their own salvation and cooperated in saving their brothers.”

I am troubled by this. If there is a Christian who says he can join hands in agreeing with the Catholics who deny the very fundamentals of true biblical Christianity, then have reason to approach these individuals, with love, and exhort them to stop treating the RC church as “brothers and sisters” but to start evangelizing them as lost sinners heading to hell who are in desperate need of a Savior.

In conclusion to this, what can we as bible-believing, blood bought, heaven-bound saved sinners do? Let me suggest three applications:

1) Expose the deeds of darkness by faithful expositional and biblical preaching (Eph 5:11)
2) Be on guard so as to not be carried away by every wind of teaching (2 Pet 3:16-18)
3) Pray and evangelize to your Roman Catholic friends with patience, love, gentleness and humility (1 Pet 3:15)

One final note, one of the best resources out there for Christians to learn about Catholicism is Mike Gendron’s website. He has an excellent page with excellent and helpful articles. This is an invaluable resource!

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