Friday, September 30, 2011

How good God is! He gives me the awesome privilege of proclaiming His Word tonight on the streets of Santa Monica, CA with my good friend & brother, Sherwood. We're going to herald the glories of Christ for a few hours tonight as the floods of people approach us.

I have two sermons ready:

1. Hebrews 4:12-13 - "You Read Many Books! Here's the Book that Reads You!"

2. Genesis 6 & 2 Peter 3 - "Repent of Your Sins & Come to Christ Before Judgment Falls!"

Pray for God's Spirit to work powerfully through the spoken Word tonight.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

My friend Tony Miano boldly heralds Jeremiah 7-8 in a message he rightly titles: "America: the modern day valley of slaughter."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Simple is often forgotten, so here I remind you with the reminder I needed when praying for church plants (or churches looking for a pastor):

1. Pray for the Launch Team

Make sure that those who currently exist as the body are constantly lifted up before the throne of grace in prayer. Pray for those who are filling extraordinary needs in the Church by dedicating time, service, effort, and energy to serve the Lord & His people. Be sure to lift the launch team up in fervent, frequent, and faithful prayer.

2. Pray for your Pastor

If your pastor is there on site, or if he has not yet arrived, or if you don't have a pastor and you don't know who he is yet, pray for him! Pray pray pray for the man that God has called to stand in the front lines of culture, postmodernism, Satan & his minions, and every humanistic ideology and faithfully and boldly proclaim the exclusive truth found in God's Word that Christ alone is the Savior who delivers His own from the eternal & divine wrath. Those whom God chooses to be pastors must be prayed over fervently as the Word of God will be proclaimed & he will undoubtedly face persecution—from within the church & from without. Pray for him!

3. Pray for the Churchgoers

Pray for those who currently make up the body of Christ in that particular church. Pray for God's Spirit to energize each of their hearts to serve tangibly in some way, to evangelize faithfully as God provides opportunity, to live holy lives evidencing the change that God has worked in their hearts. Pray that the people in the pew would passionately pursue God's truth. Pray that they would hunger for the proclaimed Word as a newborn longs for—and even vocally expresses the desire!—daily food. Pray that the people in the Church would pray daily on their knees, that repentance would be a daily action, that mortifying sin would be at the forefront of every Christian's mind. Pray that sin would be hated as much as a murderer longing to kill a familymember. Pray for Christ to be glorified in the church corporately! And pray that the knowledge amongst all God's people that in order for Christ to be glorified in His church corporately, he must be exalted as sovereign & supreme in each life individually.

4. Pray for the Unsaved in the Community

Beg God to have mercy on the unsaved. Pray that God would mercifully deliver the unsaved from the coming wrath. Pray that the lost in the community would not fill up the measure of their sins thus leading to God's wrath coming upon them to the utmost. Pray that God would save them! And the only way one is saved is by hearing the Word of God & believing the Word of Christ. Pray that each person in the pew would understand that when a nonbeliever dies he is personally, violently, eternally, consciously, and angrily punished by God Himself for all of eternity. Pray that this gripping truth arrests the hearts & minds of each believer in the Church. Pray that they launch out into their home lives with evangelistic zeal. Pray that they share with their children, parents, siblings, grandchildren, co-workers, bosses that judgment awaits for those who reject Christ. Pray that the believers in the Church would have a passionate pursuit of proclaiming the glorious riches of Christ to sinners. It is the gospel that saves, not moral revolution. It is the gospel that saves, not cultural reformation. It is the gospel that saves, not religious affections. It is the gospel that saves, not church-membership applications. It is the gospel that saves, not man-made & self-promoting religions. Pray that God's people in His Church would proclaim His message to hellbound sinners so God can use His shared Word to save His elect and receive the glory that He alone deserves.

These ideas are adapted & altered from Chris Brauns' When the Word Leads Your Pastoral Search (Moody, 2011), pp.28 - 31.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

According to Isaiah 11, the One who comes from the "stem of Jesse" (v.1), who has the "Spirit of the Lord resting on Him" (v.2), and who "delights in the fear of the Lord" (v.3) will do the following in the future, literal, earthly messianic kingdom:

1. He will judge the poor with righteousness (v.4)

2. He will slay the wicked with the breath of His mouth (v.4b)

3. He will be righteous and faithful in all He does (v.5)

4. He will ensure that peace rules the earth—even amongst the animal kingdom (vv.6-8)

5. He will dwell on the Holy Mountain (=Jerusalem) and all people will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord (v.9)

6. He will be the One nations flock to in submission & worship (v.10)

Not sure about you, but I believe it is impossible to read these verses in a plain and normal fashion and come up with any other kind of interpretation. These events have not happened yet (literally) and the fact that God is faithful (cp. v.5b — Christ is clothed with "faithfulness as the belt around his waist") totally confirms that these characteristics will in fact happen just as the Scriptures say.

Christian—long for the future Kingdom when Christ will reign literally, physically, bodily, and sovereignly. O for that day!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Watch the "180" Movie put out by Living Water Ministries. This is a 33-movie clip that dramatically, graphically, and persuasively argues that abortion is murder.

Watch it here. Pass it on. If you want copies to give/send to people, contact them directly and they'll accommodate your needs.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Excellent words from Paul Shirley:

Top Ten Responsibilities for those in the Pews

1. Sit under the preaching of God’s word (Romans 10:17)

2. Show love (1 Corinthians 12; Matthew 22:34-40)

3. Serve in the work of the ministry according to the gifts God has given you (Ephesians 4:12, 1 Corinthians 12)

4. Submit & Support your leaders (Hebrews 13:17)

5. Show up (Hebrew 10:25)

6. Sort through conflict biblically (Ephesians 4:1-3)

7. Share the Gospel with those around you (Matthew 28:18ff)

8. Seek the Lord through prayer (Ephesians 6:18)

9. Sacrificially give (2 Corinthians 9:7)

10. Speak with humility (James 3:1-12, 4:6)

When reading the Scriptures, keep your mind open for a rhetorical feature that can help you find the cohesion of the text. One way that the biblical writers can tie their discourses together is by using a feature called an inclusio. An inclusio is a device where the author says one thing and then "bookends" it later on with the same phrase. These "bookends" can tie the discourse together around that theme.

An example of this is Psalm 113:

1 Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, Praise the name of the LORD.
2 Blessed be the name of the LORD From this time forth and forever.
3 From the rising of the sun to its setting The name of the LORD is to be praised.
4 The LORD is high above all nations; His glory is above the heavens.
5 Who is like the LORD our God, Who is enthroned on high,
6 Who humbles Himself to behold The things that are in heaven and in the earth?
7 He raises the poor from the dust And lifts the needy from the ash heap,
8 To make them sit with princes, With the princes of His people.
9 He makes the barren woman abide in the house As a joyful mother of children. Praise the LORD!

The inclusio in Ps 113 is the phrase "Praise the LORD!" (הַ֥לְלוּ יָ֙הּ). The entire psalm is cohesively joined together by means of this phrase that occurs at the outset (v.1a) as well as at the conclusion (v.9b)—"Praise the LORD." Yahweh is worthy of praise because of his sovereign character (vv.1-5a) as well as his sovereign condescension to be involved in the affairs of humble men (vv.5b-9a).

For this reason, we are called, summoned, and commanded to "Praise the LORD!"

Have you obeyed this biblical command today?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

When you look at Psalm 111 and compare that with Psalm 112, you see that similarities clearly exist.

1. They are both acrostics — that means each line of the psalm begins with the next letter in the Hebrew alphabet (sort of like a psalm that goes from A-Z).

2. Similar language can be seen throughout both psalms. For instance, both psalms refer to the "fear of the LORD," the contrast between the righteous & the wicked, and the attributes of "graciousness, mercy, and righteousness."

One of the interesting features of these psalms is that Psalm 111 is about the Divine Character of God and Psalm 112 is about the Godly character of the man of God.

I want to bring to the frontground a particular element:

Psalm 111:4 זֵ֣כֶר עָ֭שָׂה לְנִפְלְאֹתָ֑יו חַנּ֖וּן וְרַח֣וּם יְהוָֽה׃ (He has made his works to be a remembrance; gracious and compassionate is Yahweh.)

Note the verbal similarities with:

Psalm 112:4 זָ֨רַ֤ח בַּחֹ֣שֶׁךְ א֖וֹר לַיְשָׁרִ֑ים חַנּ֖וּן וְרַח֣וּם וְצַדִּֽיק׃ (Light arises in darkness for the upright; gracious and compassionate and righteous is he.)

When read in context Psalm 111:4 clearly refers to Yahweh and His character. The text in Psalm 112:4 refers to the Godly man and his character. The point? When the man of God looks at, studies, and meditates on the character of God, he himself will begin to emulate the character of His Master.

Thus, when you study God and Who He is (Ps 111), the Godly man cannot help but be affected—internally and externally—by responding in holy fear, reverence, godliness, and graciousness (Ps 112).

Paul says it similarly in Ephesians 4:32-5:1

Ephesians 4:32-5:2 — Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

I ask you: has your study of God (Ps 111) affected your reflection of God and being God's child (Ps 112)?
"Don't be a rolling stone that moves at every glitch of the earth; be an unmovable pillar that cannot be toppled even with the fiercest of earthquakes. Such is the man whose heart is fixed trusting in the LORD."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ecclesiastes 9:9 — Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Remember that when reading the Bible, you want to find the authorial intent. That is, what did the author intend to communicate as revealed in the words that he wrote in the text? Sadly, this principle of meaning as being fixed and residing with the author of the text is under assault today—not just in biblical studies but in the secular world at large.

Here are a few helpful quotes from Robert Stein on meaning (from his Playing by the Rules):

“The Scriptures are to be interpreted in the same way that we interpret other forms of verbal communication. This is essentially the commonsense approach to communication” (21).

“All normal conversation assumes that the goal of interpretation is to understand what the speaker or writer means by the words he or she is using" (21).

“The goal when reading a Pauline text is not to experience or reduplicate Paul’s mental and emotional experiences when he wrote. Rather, the goal is to understand what Paul ‘meant,’ what he consciously sought to communicate to his readers by what he wrote” (23).

“The meaning of a text depends on the specific conscious will of the author. The biblical author is the determiner of the text’s meaning. Since this pattern of meaning was willed in the past (when the text was written), the meaning of a text can never change, for it is locked in history. It can no more change than any other historical event of the past can change. Even the author cannot change the meaning of the text, because he cannot change the past” (38).

And, Gordon Clark wrote in 1958 (in his Thales to Dewey: A History of Philosophy):

"If, however, terms had an infinite number of meanings, then all reasoning would come to an end. For if a word is to convey a significance, it must not only mean something, it must also not mean something. If it had all the meanings of all the terms in the dictionary, it owuld be useless in speech" (100).

Therefore, remember that when you come to the Bible, read it and ask yourself: what did the biblical author intend to communicate as he wrote down these words?

Once you understand what the biblical author meant in the words of his text, then (and only then!) can you apply that meaning to your own life (this is application or "significance").

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tonight I'm off to the Promenade to proclaim my Sovereign Savior, Jesus Christ, and the true satisfaction that only He can give. My text is Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 and I'll conclude with a plea from Philippians 3:9 to come to Christ and find true satisfaction & righteousness only in Him. Pray for me as I proclaim God's Word on the streets of Santa Monica with my dear friend & brother, Sherwood.
Paul described the conversion of the Thessalonian believers in these words: 1 Thessalonians 1:9 αὐτοὶ γὰρ περὶ ἡμῶν ἀπαγγέλλουσιν ὁποίαν εἴσοδον ἔσχομεν πρὸς ὑμᾶς, καὶ πῶς ἐπεστρέψατε πρὸς τὸν θεὸν ἀπὸ τῶν εἰδώλων (for they themselves report concerning us as to what kind of entrance we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols).

Paul speaks of conversion as a "turning" (ἐπεστρέψατε). The verbal form shows that it views the action of regeneration as a "whole". This is what happens at salvation. God so works in the sinner's heart (cf. Acts 13:48) that the sinner then turns (ἐπεστρέψατε) and repents.

Note there is a 2-fold aspect to this change:

(1) Turning TO God —
True believers are those who are characterized as turning to God (πρὸς τὸν θεὸν). This is not only an initial turning at the moment of salvation but this walking with God, communing with God, delighting in God, repenting before God, glorifying God continues through the life of the believer.

(2) Turning FROM idols Paul also records that believers turn from idols (ἀπὸ τῶν εἰδώλων). This means that by default all humans are idolaters. We need to turn to God from idols. No one is by nature a worshiper of God. At the same time, everyone is born a worshiper. Everyone worships someone or something. But the believer is one who turns to God away from idols.

Have you experienced this regeneration and turning in your life? Have you turned to God? Have you turned from your idols?

Two effects that will result from this conversion as written by Paul include:

1) Serving the LORD - The first effect is that believers now will serve the Lord—the Living and True God (δουλεύειν θεῷ ζῶντι καὶ ἀληθινῷ). The Christian is enslaved (δουλεύειν) to the Living and the True God! The Christian is privileged to serve the LORD in his life. Are you?

2) Looking for the LORD -
The second effect Paul specifies here is that believers wait for the coming of Christ (καὶ ἀναμένειν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν, ὃν ἤγειρεν ἐκ [τῶν] νεκρῶν, Ἰησοῦν τὸν ῥυόμενον ἡμᾶς ἐκ τῆς ὀργῆς τῆς ἐρχομένης). Believers are to wait for Christ (ἀναμένειν). Christ is the Son of God who now resides in heaven, he is the one whom God raised from the dead, He is Jesus of Nazareth, and He is the one who rescues us (ῥυόμενον) from the coming wrath. No other god or man-made idol can rescue sinners from the wrath of God. Only Christ can rescue from the wrath of Almighty God. Are you looking for the coming of Christ with great anticipation?

Here is a sermon I preached last week on this text explaining this more fully.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

As for discipline, many churches neglect it because they fear it will reduce their membership and thus detract from their glory. But the truth of the matter is that the church which fails to exercise discipline is sure to lose both its self-respect and the respect of those without. Strange though it may seem, the world today despises the church precisely because the church is so worldly, and the members of the church by and large take no pride in their membership because it carries with it no distinction. On the other hand, the faithful exercise of discipline is sure to enhance the church's glory.

—R.B. Kuiper
Listen to the words of this Proverb:

Proverbs 28:9
מֵסִ֣יר אָ֭זְנוֹ מִשְּׁמֹ֣עַ תּוֹרָ֑ה גַּֽם־תְּ֜פִלָּת֗וֹ תּוֹעֵבָֽה׃
("he who turns away His hear from listening to the Law even His prayer is an abomination.")

Sometimes we overlook verses such as this one. The inspired Word of God so clearly says here that if a man does not obey (מִשְּׁמֹ֣עַ) the Law of God (Torah, תּוֹרָ֑ה) that even his prayer is an abomination.

An abomination (תּוֹעֵבָֽה) can refer to a host of things in the OT—all of which are completely wicked, loathful, and heinous in the eyes of God. Ezekiel 16:25 uses this word to refer to their harlotries with other God and how it is an abomination in the eyes of God. Amos 6:8 uses this word when the Lord says that he hates the arrogance of Israel. Psalm 14:1 says that the wicked/fools are those that commit abominable deeds.

How amazing is it to consider that prayer could be considered an "abomination" if the Law of God is not obeyed. The word מִשְּׁמֹ֣עַ refers to one who hears and obeys that which he has heard.

Simple application of this text: if a person does not listen and obey the Law of God (as found in the Word of God), then his prayers are simply abominable in God's sight.

Thus, if you don't obey, then don't pray.

Here is a parallel in the NT from the Apostle Paul:

Romans 8:7-8 — because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"Praise should be the continual exercise of believers. It is the joyful work of heaven, it should be the continual joy of earth. . . We bless the Lord and the Lord alone; we have no music but for Him, but we do not always praise Him after the same fashion. As there were different instruments of music—the ten-stringed instrument or the decachord, the psaltry, the harp,—so too, there are different subjects, a subject for the morning and a subject for the evening; lovingkindness to be shown forth at one time, and faithfulness to be sung at another. I wish that men studied more the praise they profess to present unto God.

—Spurgeon (1834-1892)
Tony is preaching here at Cerritos college. Tony is a friend of mine and a solid believer and faithful herald of God's Word.

See how Tony heralds the truth and refutes the error of the 'modern gospel' with sternness and gospel-centered compassion.

Biblical. Firm. Unswerving. Christ-exalting.

Watch it & go proclaim it yourself!

Monday, September 12, 2011

You need to check out the trailer to 180. It will wet your appetite for what you *must* not miss!

See the 180 website and follow 180 on Twitter.

Watch the trailer here:

It premiers September 26th. You'll want to watch the whole thing & pass it on to others.
A friend of mine said this line over the weekend: "You can't be saved by a Gospel that you don't know." Many Christians *claim* to walk with God and know Jesus Christ and yet if you ask them, explain to me the gospel & how I can get saved in two minutes, I wonder just how many *could* actually provide a biblical gospel presentation with Scriptural proof.

Could you?

A gospel that you don't know can't save. Never assume someone who calls himself a Christian is in fact a Christian. Probe. Ask them questions. Find out what they believe. Make sure they know the biblical Gospel. But even before that, make sure that you know the biblical gospel.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Please be in prayer for me as I preach with Tony Miano & the Third Street Heralds (and info here) in Santa Monica today. I cherish this group and the likemindedness in passionately proclaiming Christ and His glorious Gospel! I plan to be prepared to preach a number of sermons and interact with folks who may be considering the events of 9/11.

Pray also for me as I preach tomorrow in Sojourners at Grace Church. My text is 1 Thess 1:9-10 and the bones are burnin'.

Update on Street Preaching Last Night—Sept 9th
I was street preaching with my friend Sherwood & we had quite a few hecklers and troublemakers out on the Promenade. God allowed us to have some great conversations, share the gospel numerous times and interact with people who refuse to worship & submit to the God of the Bible. What an opportunity. Thanks for praying!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A few things recently going on:

1. Just got home from our family vacation to HUMELAKE. What a beautiful place! The highs were in the 70's and then we stepped out of the car at home today to 101 degrees! It was a great vacation of nothing but relaxing, wrestling with my boy, and hiking with my family. Great & restful time.

2. We rushed home to make it to the hospital for our ultrasound for Tikvah and the Drs. said that everything is going well with her. She is growing, healthy, and moving & all is well. They answered some of our questions we had regarding her heart-surgery and recovery time, etc. All is going great there!

3. I am preaching this weekend on 1 Thessalonians and my bones are aching till I can study & preach this book when I finally arrive in STL at Christ Fellowship Bible Church.

4. I listened to a portion of this video on my drive home from N. Cal today and realized that Tim Keller swung and missed 'big-time' on hell, wrath, and judgment (start at the 14 minute mark). Sad that he couldn't even articulate such fundamental biblical doctrines in a Q&A. Sad—very sad. BTW, I do believe in a literal, eternal punishment and I do preach it. I'm not afraid to shrink from proclaiming the truth cause Jesus, Jeremiah, Spurgeon, Edwards and other heroes of mine didn't.

5. I continue research & writing on my dissertation tomorrow early morning: Revelation's Use of the book of Jeremiah. So excited and pumped to be in the biblical text as I work on the NT's use of the OT.

That's enough for now...

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Thank you for praying for me this week as I took my PhD exams. After 7 exams and 100+ typed pages, I am through with my comprehensive exams. Now I just have to wait to hear whether I passed or not! Praise the LORD.

I don't think I've ever had a week where I've been so focused, so mentally drained, and so pressured but God, indeed, proves to be faithful. And He is worthy of praise. I had a Hebrew/OT exam, a Bible exposition/general knowledge exam, Theology exam, and four NT/Greek exams.

A few days ago I read the words to this psalm that has remained with me:

Psalm 150:1-6 — Praise the LORD! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty expanse. 2 Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness. 3 Praise Him with trumpet sound; Praise Him with harp and lyre. 4 Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. 5 Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with resounding cymbals. 6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!

Praise the LORD.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Watch MacArthur & others preach on the biblical Pauline theology (as opposed to what is commonly called: "the new perspective on Paul"—which is erroneous and heretical). Live stream the conference here.

Here's the schedule:

THURSDAY, September 1

9:00AM - 2:00PM Open House at Grace to You
5:00PM Registration
7:00PM Session #1 with John MacArthur

FRIDAY, September 2

9:00AM Session #2 with John MacArthur
10:30AM Session #3 with John MacArthur
11:30AM Lunch (on campus)
1:00PM Session #4 with Phil Johnson
2:30PM Session #5 with Jeff Williams
3:45PM Session #6 with Don Green
5:00PM Dinner (on campus)
7:00PM Session #7 with John MacArthur

SATURDAY, September 3

9:00AM Session #8 with John MacArthur
10:30AM Session #9 with John MacArthur
12:00PM Local Attractions

SUNDAY, September 4

8:30AM Worship Service with John MacArthur
10:30AM Worship Service with John MacArthur
6:00PM Worship Service with John MacArthur

Watch Mac preach on the old—and biblical—perspective on Paul.
Excellent words from a dear friend & pastor. Don't die at 27! Read the post here.
Thanks so much for praying! I have taken four of my seven written exams. The two exams I took yesterday were very tough but they're over! I have two more tomorrow (Greek grammar & syntax and then Pauline exegesis & theology). My last exam is Saturday morning (Gospels, Acts, and non-Pauline literature).

Thanks for praying. I'm encouraged by them!
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