Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Depression and the Truth



Often times we believe lies. We enjoy believing them becasue they allow us to act in a manner that is pleasing to our flesh, and contrary to revealed truth from God's Word. Jay Adams has a helpful message on the topic of Depression that can help each of us who want to help others. Take some time to listen to this full length message delivered some time ago by Jay Adams.
http://www.eternallifeministries.org/messages/ja_depression.mp3

Monday, October 19, 2009

Flat Toes



In our congregation we have more than one elder, and yesterday, as in typical fashion, Elder Joshua Miller spoke from Galatians 4:11. " I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain."

By the time he was finished with the message, I was convinced I needed to re-examine my calling in the ministry. I was challenged to examine aspects of my shepherding that I had not considered in some time.

I consider myself very careful in my watch-care over the flock that God has entrusted in my care, however, I came to see myself as full of fault, and was convicted over various areas of service.

When I stand before the Lord, I want to hear the words, "Well done thou good and faithful servant..." I must always remember that I am dealing with the Bride of my Saviour Jesus Christ when I deal with each person in the congregation.

I have always said, "I could preach to 10,000, but I could only properly pastor about 200..." After yesterdays message, let us make that 100...To truly feed, to truly care, to truly watch must take my whole being. I don't want a soul to fall through the proverbial cracks at Emmanuel. We do not labor as ministers of the Gospel to see the work be in vain. Let us labor for the Glory of God, the good of the saints and the future reward that awaits the faithful minister of God.
Live Simply. Live Godly

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Compromise For World Peace?

I know the Apostle Paul uses sarcasm often in his writings. I know that humor is appropriate in the right place and in the right amount. I also know this is about the funniest, and saddest post I have ever read. The last paragraph sums up the total picture perfectly, when the Dragon winks at the camera. Watch out for rising, emergent church superstars, as they say so many good things, that are not the best. Check out the post from Doug Wilson for further explanation:

Ramadan and Brian McLaren.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Accountability

Emmanuel Baptist’s Accountability group program.

Okay, I know that the title threw you a curve ball. I am not a proponent of adding programs. However, I am quite amazed how complicated our brethren in other congregations are making the biblical mandates.

Instead of having an Accountability group, what happened to having godly friends? You see, God already gave us an accountability group. He simply calls them brothers and sisters in Christ. We assemble with them each week. We don’t have to meet on every 1st and 3rd Thursday in order to be held accountable, but rather, we meet weekly, on the Lord’s Day, and rejoice to see one another there. We check on each other during the week. We email, tweet, (if you tweet), call, write, (I still use envelopes and stamps, yes I am a dinosaur) and hopefully visit, every week.
Something “holy” has been attached to various programs as simple, godly principles are renamed into complicated programs that require a director with a spreadsheet to keep everyone in their places. One writer stated, “What we have is a joyful commitment to the practice of hospitality. We invite folks into our homes, and we visit the homes of others. There are no rules for this. We don’t have a dinner coordinator that makes each family play musical chairs with each other family, all while carrying around a casserole if your last name begins with A through G, and a dessert if R through Z. Instead we share table fellowship freely and happily.” I hope that describes us at Emmanuel.

Certainly, we have organized monthly family fun events…but then again, that is merely my attempt to rename organized communion among believers. It is simply a “get-together” where your children play with my children, and I get to visit with some godly dad’s and my wife visits with your wives. As well, Young men aspiring to be husbands, all the while, watching godly husbands lead their wives in a public setting and learning. Young women, busy with the married ladies, learning what a Titus 2 woman is really all about.

A dear brother and close friend called me the other day explaining that he thought I needed to counsel someone, and that he was no counselor. I reminded him that every time we open our mouths, we become counselors. We become agents for good or evil. We become the minions of hell, or the messengers of heaven. No one is immune to the title of “counselor” because that is what we do. Others watch, or listen to our conversations and become recipients of our information. Then they make decisions based on that information. Every time we have a get-together, we are further embracing the truth that iron sharpens iron. Or we are tearing down lives.

Let us live more simply. Let our fellowships be more spontaneous. Let our organized times be more glorifying to God.

Live simply. Live Godly.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Lord's day

Much has been said about the Lord's day, or Sunday. Many argue for, or against it. Many simply react traditionally to it. (What ever mom did, that is what I will do.) Throughout the years, Baptist have re-established their position on where they stand on the Lord's day as to its observation. Two that are notable, are worthy of mention here, but unfortunately are rarely practiced. We are a nation bent on entertainment, pleasure and self-seeking satisfaction. Listen to these documents of the past and notice the grave differences we see today:

Concerning the Lords day

When the original charter of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was adopted in 1858 it contained the following statement which continues as a part of the "fundamental laws." "Every professor of the institution shall be a member of a regular Baptist Church; and all persons accepting professorships in this Seminary shall be considered, by such acceptance, as engaging to teach in accordance with, and not contrary to, the Abstract of Principles hereinafter laid down, a departure from which principles on his part shall be grounds for his resignation or removal by the Trustees."

Here is what it says concerning the Lord's day:

XVII. The Lord's Day.

The Lord's Day is a Christian institution for regular observance, and should be employed in exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private, resting from worldly employments and amusements, works of necessity and mercy only excepted.

Then, we move to an even older document, one accepted by Baptist and held to today by many (including myself) Spurgeon made it his churches official position on each item it addresses as he felt it best reflected a summary of his views. It was called the London Baptist Confession of 1689. It is in Chapter 22 that the issue of the Lord's day is addressed. Here is a portion of it.


7. As it is the law of nature, that in general a proportion of time, by God's appointment, be set apart for the worship of God, so by his Word, in a positive moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men, in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven for a sabbath to be kept holy unto him, which from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ was the last day of the week, and from the resurrection of Christ was changed into the first day of the week, which is called the Lord's day: and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath, the observation of the last day of the week being abolished.
( Exodus 20:8; 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2; Acts 20:7; Revelation 1:10 )

8. The sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering their common affairs aforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all day, from their own works, words and thoughts, about their worldly employment and recreations, but are also taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.
( Isaiah 58:13; Nehemiah 13:15-22; Matthew 12:1-13 )

Nowhere in either of these documents can we find listed the myriad of distractions that are available to us today. But none of us are blind to all that is offered on the Lord's day as a means to pull us away from our first duty. In fact, we see a sober approach to the Lord's day that should not be translated as cultural, or otherwise. These men of old had their reasons for what they stated, and I am of the opinion that their reasons warrant our careful consideration.
I don't think we are to be solemn, frowning, sad, depressed individuals on the Lord's day, and that is not even what is being suggested in either of the documents. Rather, This day is different, to be set aside for something better than the rest of the week. Common affairs are put away, recreations that might fall on another day must be examined under the light of what the day is all about.
We are a different generation to be sure, but have we improved our holy walk? We need to be removing excuses from the lips of men who can't make it to church on Sunday rather than participating ourselves in the very things that keep them away. Our godly walk should convict, or convince men that the Lord's day is in fact a special day, given to us by our gracious Lord.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Misunderstood..........Big Mouth



It is not unusual that those who say much, will be more likely to be misunderstood more. The more miles a person drives the more likely he will be involved in an accident. A man who never goes fishing, will never catch fish.
Often, when speaking to others, or preaching from the pulpit, I say things that are grossly misinterpreted from what my original intention was. Listening to myself on recordings convinces me that at times I am not accurate with my presentation of even simple truths. Carefulness with my words is something that I must concern myself with if I ever expect to effectively communicate the truths of the gospel.

But it does not stop with the gospel.

Simple daily facts and stories can take on a life all of their own if I am not careful to speak each word with decided intentions. One may say, "This is too much trouble, I cannot worry about every word I say!" I would agree, there is MUCH trouble with this. The problem is REAL trouble comes from not weighing all our words in the balance.

How often have we hurt those we love by thoughtless words?
How often have we deceived others simply by not including all the pertinent facts?
I am guilty on all points.

Many times, it is senseless on our part and even unintentional, but it happens none the less.
Jesus encourages us to a careful watch over our mouths by reminding us in Mat 12:36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. Well, that settles it for me. I am sunk unless I repent. And thus I do. Daily. Sometimes hourly due to my failings.

Thus, with the psalmist I cry to God "Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips." Ps. 141:3

One would think this gets easier as you get older...hardly. Our minds not only fill up with more information, but we forget what we have committed to others and promised as well. So with the influx of information, we continue to falter in this area. But with all excuses aside, I must strive for perfection!

The mercy of those that say they love us must be relied upon in this instance. Forgiveness must be ready to be meted out to those who trespass against us in this area as well.

Let us think before we speak, and thus fulfill the scriptures: "Jas 1:19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:"

Friday, July 17, 2009

Be a Man

Amazing how we spend hours in a day on wasted things. If I could recapture all my wasted minutes and hours over the past year, what might I have accomplished for Christ? Since I cannot go back and recapture those minutes, let me live each minute today for the Glory of God. I pray that each reading this will own up to the fact we play too much. We are too concerned with popularity, too concerned with acceptance, too concerned with pleasures.
When will the Bible become a passion? When we are too old to play? When our friends have gone on to other ventures? May God forgive us for foolishness.
The other night at church a gentleman asked me, "Why do you seem so sober?" Oh, how that broke my heart. Have I been so trite, so lighthearted that I appear to never seem sober? Has my lifestyle been such that there are no sober moments that men have seen?
I was about to step into the pulpit and preach, I should have been sober. Men's souls were hanging in the balance, believers were about to hear from the Word of God, soberness must be my condition.
Paul Washer must be commended on this video, as he calls us to quit being little girls, and become men. Watch the video and ask, "Am I a man concerning the things of the Lord?"

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Years Spent in Vanity and Pride...

Dwight Moody believed a college dedicated to teaching Bible truth was critical. It was D.L. Moody who realized the importance of raising up the next generation to carry the gospel and thus founded this school. Moody chose his friend and co-worker, Dr. R.A. Torrey to be the first president of the Institute. In 1905, Dr. Torrey shared a story about a rebellious teenager who eventually became the inspiration for the writing of that grand old hymn, At Calvary. The story goes like this:

When I was president of the Moody Bible Institute, I received a letter from a very concerned pastor who told me of a son who was causing himself and his family a great deal of trouble. His life was really mixed

And the father felt that attendance at Moody would help. I advised the father that even though I sympathized with him, for I was a father; yet, because I was running a Bible school and not a reform school, I had to deny his request. After many letters of pleading his cause, I finally gave in with the stipulation that the rebellious teen must see me each day and make every effort to abide by the rules and requirements of the Institute.

Torrey went on to say that the boy faithfully visited his office each day; and with wisdom from God’s word, he answered the questions that had been keeping the boy from God. Finally, after many months of counseling, the prayers of the boy’s father were answered when young William R. Newell received Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.

Thirty years later, as a teacher at Moody, Mr. Newell was recounting those turbulent years as a rebellious teen; and as he was rejoicing in his salvation, the words of a poem flooded his mind. His mind was filled with a word picture of what had happened in his life and also in the lives of all those who surrender to Christ. The new man in Christ could now write:

Years I spent in vanity and pride

Caring not my Lord was crucified

Knowing not it was for me He died

On Calvary

O the love that drew salvation’s plan

O the grace that brought it down to man

O the mighty gulf that God did span

At Calvary

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Does God wish or desire the lost to repent?




This article below is from the Dean of Reformed Baptist Seminary, who is defending an article he wrote previously. I would like any comments on this and what your understanding really is concerning this! No feelings please, but sound opinions and historical and biblical proofs are expected. Thanks for your participation.

Does God wish or desire that lost men repent?

I recently posted a brief exposition of Deuteronomy 5:29, which depicts God expressing a wish for the good of sinners who in fact never experienced that good (“God Makes a Wish”). The study indirectly supports the doctrine of the well-meant offer of the gospel. Some Reformed folk, however, don’t think the idea of a well-meant offer is biblical. They agree that God commands all men everywhere to repent and believe the gospel. But they don’t believe that God desires those whom he obligates (i.e., all men) to comply. In other words, they object to the idea that divine commands or precepts can be understood in any sense as God’s desires or wishes. Below I’d like to provide a string of citations from Reformed and Puritan authors who do in fact construe God’s preceptive will in terms of “desire” or “wish.”

John Calvin (1509-1564):

What I have said of the precepts, abundantly suffices to confound your blasphemies. For though God gives no pretended commands, but seriously declares what he wishes and approves [Latin: vult et probat.]; yet it is in one way, that he wills the obedience of his elect whom he efficaciously bends to compliance; and in another that of the reprobate whom he warns by the external word, but does not see good to draw to himself. Contumacy and depravity are equally natural to all, so that none is ready and willing to assume the yoke (emphasis added). John Calvin, Secret Providence, trans., by James Lillie, Article 7, John Calvin’s reply.

Zacharias Ursinus (1534-1583):

There are four classes of things concerning which men give commandment. These are, first, divine precepts, which God desires, that men should propose unto themselves for their observance, not, however, in their own name, but by the authority of God himself, as being the ministers and messengers, and not the authors of these precepts (emphasis added). Zacharias Ursinus, The Commentary of Dr. Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism, trans., G. W. Willard (Phillpsburg N.J.: P&R, 1994), 519-520.

Amandus Polandus (1561-1610):

“It is called voluntas signi, because it signifies what is pleasing to God, what belongs to our duty, what He wishes to be done or omitted by us, etc.” These “signa voluntatis, from which it is known what God wills”, are “precept, prohibition, permission, counsel, and the fulfilment of predictions” (emphasis added). Cited in Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978), 85.

Abrahamus Heidanus (1597-1678):

Strictly speaking there is but a single will of God called beneplaciti, whereby God determines by Himself what He wills to do in and concerning the creature. The second is but the sign and indication by which He shows what He wishes creatures to do. But He does not wish them to make His beneplacitum universal; but only the things which He reveals to them, Dt. 29. 29 (emphasis added). Cited in Heirnich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978), 87.

Fran├žois Turretini (1623-1687):

It is one thing to will reprobates to come (i.e., to command them to come and to desire it); another to will they should not come (i.e., to nill the giving them the power to come). God can in calling them will the former and yet not the latter without any contrariety because the former respects only the will of precept, while the latter respects the will of decree…. The invitation to the wedding proposed in the parable (Mt. 22:1-14) teaches that the king wills (i.e., commands and desires) the invited to come and that this is their duty; but not that the king intends or has decreed that they should really come. (emphasis added). Turretin, Francis, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1994) 2:507-509.

Hermann Venema (1697-1787):

God wishes his laws to be obeyed, and therefore wishes also his creatures to be incited in every way to the keeping of them. This purpose is greatly served by the prospect of rewards. But justice loves and demands these rewards. Hermann Venema, Institutes of Theology, trans., by Alex W. Brown, (Andover: W.F. Draper Brothers, 1853), 172.

William Cunningham (1805-1861):

Many of the events that take place,–such as the sinful actions of men,–are opposed to, or inconsistent with, His will as revealed in His law, which is an undoubted indication of what He wished or desired that men should do. William Cunningham, Historical Theology (Banner of Truth, 1994), 2:452.

John L. Dagg (1794–1884):

Closely allied to the last signification, and perhaps included in it, is that use of the term will, in which it denotes command, requirement. When the person, whose desire or pleasure it is that an action should be performed by another, has authority over that other, the desire expressed assumes the character of precept. The expressed will of a suppliant, is petition; the expressed will of a ruler, is command. What we know that it is the pleasure of God we should do, it is our duty to do, and his pleasure made known to us becomes a law (emphasis added). John L. Dagg, Manual of Theology and Church Order, (Harrisonburg, VA: Gano Books, 1982), 100.

Herman Bavinck (1854-1921):

The term “expressed or signified will” owes its origin to the fact that this will “expresses” or “signifies” what is pleasing to God and is our duty. It is made known to us by means of the five “signs” or “marks”: “precept, prohibition, counsel, permission, and operation.” (emphasis added). The Doctrine of God, trans. William Hendricksen (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1955), 237.

John M. Frame (1939- ):

The decretive will is sometimes called “the will of God’s good pleasure” (beneplacitum). This is somewhat misleading, because Scripture speaks of God’s “pleasure” in both decretive and preceptive senses: for example, decretive in Psalm 51:18 and Isaiah 46:10, and preceptive in Psalms 5:4 and 103:21. Some have also called the decretive will God’s hidden or secret will, but that too is misleading, since God reveales some of his decrees through his Word.

For that reason, I hestitate also to call the preceptive will the revealed will (signum, “signified will”), though that language has often been used for this concept. Preceptive is also somewhat misleading, for it does not always have to do with literal precepts (God’s laws, commandments). Sometimes God’s preceptive will refers not to precepts, but to states of affairs that God sees as desireable, but which he chooses not to bring about (as in Ezek. 18:23; 2 Peter 3:9). The Doctrine of God (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2002), 531.

Some of the citations above I pulled from the page God Desires Compliance to his Will and Commands as Standard Reformed Doctrine,” on Calvin and Calvinism, which is a helpful historical theology resource. The reader may also want to consult the page “God begging” on Theological Meditations, where numerous citations from Reformed and Puritan writers depicting God himself pleading with sinners to receive the gospel.

Bob Gonzales, Dean
Reformed Baptist Seminary


Thursday, June 11, 2009

The world's accolades...

"The world pays scantily indeed. What will it do for those it loves best? When it has done all it can, the last resource of the world is to give a man a title and what is that? And then to give him a tall pillar and set him up there to bear all weathers, to be pitilessly exposed to every storm; and there he stands for fools to gaze at..." Charles Spurgeon

Let us be careful of desiring accolades from the world. The best they can give is not near the least that God can render to man. Our hopes and treasures should be laid up somewhere else, other than here. Once we amass all we can, stand back and look at it and count it as ash. For dear one, it shall be ash on that great day. The only thing that will survive will be what was done for Christ.
May God be glorified. Soli Deo Gloria

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Charismatic Confusion



"The Lord told me___________." Did he? If he did, does it match the Scriptures already given? Already laid down for eternity? Already settled in heaven? Did it add to the Scriptures? Did it nullify a Scripture? Did it cast doubt on the Scripture? Be very, very careful little ones. Many will profess to have "heard" from God. Many who would have difficulty quoting portions of Scripture seem to have the mind of God all wrapped up.

I like what A.W. Tozer said on the matter:

"Some of my friends good-humoredly---and some a little bit severely---have called me a 'mystic.' Well, I'd like to say this about any mysticism I may suppose to have. If an archangel from heaven were to come, and were to start giving me, telling me, teaching me, and giving me instruction, I'd ask him for the text. I'd say, 'Where's it say that in the Bible? I want to know?'
And I would insist that it was according to the Scriptures, because I do not believe in any extra-scriptural teachings, nor any anti-scriptural teachings, or any sub-scriptural teachings. I think we ought to put the emphasis where God puts it, and continue to put it there, and to expound the scriptures, and sty by the scriptures.
I wouldn't---no matter if I saw a light above the light of the sun, I'd keep my mouth shut about it 'til Id checked with Daniel and Revelation and the rest of the scriptures to see if ti had any basis in truth. And if it didn't, I'd think I'd just eaten something I shouldn't and I wouldn't say anything about it. Because I don't believe in anything that is unscriptural or that is anti-scripture."

Wise words for our "sign-hungry" generation. How quickly we forget Matthew 12:39, "...An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign;..."

Pastor Michael

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Vanity in the Pulpit

When a preacher enters the pulpit, there must be serious check of the heart motives. He cannot simply mount the platform with an aire of unconcern, or self-confidence. He must be broken, fearful and prepared. No amount of study can prepare the heart, only the mind. Self-examination, an exercise of humility and self-abasement must accompany him as well.

Then there must be a watch over the means. Just to have the words you wish to say prepared, and an attitude of humility is not quite enough either. Now I must know what I am to do once there. I am to exhalt Christ, not myself. I am to become nothing, that He might be every thing. I cannot distract with clothing, hair styles, music, or actions, I must be a vessel intent on funneling truth, in the most appropriate way into the ears of the hearers.

This is not easy task... in fact it is near impossible apart from the Holy Spirit working in the preacher.

Let our preaching meet his purpose for preaching. Our satisfaction in how things went during the message must be guaged not by our standards of what we deem as success, but rather the idea set forth by God in His Word as success. Charles Haddon Spurgeon expressed this best in this snippet from one of his sermons:

The Holy Ghost never sets his signature to a blank check...the Holy Ghost will only bless in conformity with his own set purpose. Our Lord explains what that purpose is: 'He shall glorify me' He has come forth for thsi grand end, and he will not put up with anything short of it. If, then, we do not preach Christ, what is the Holy Ghost to do with our preaching? If we do not make the Lord
Jesus Christ Glorious: If we do not lift him in the esteem of men, if we do not labour to make him King of kings and Lord of lords we shall not have the Holy Spirit with us. Vain will be rhetoric, music, architecture, energy, and socila status; if our own design be not to magnify the Lord Jesus we shall work alone and in vain"

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Preaching, Muller Style

When one thinks of preaching, George Muller might not be the first on your list. He admitted he was not so grand a preacher. Those who heard him agreed with him. However, one could not escape the fact that it was evident the man had spent time with God. However simple his messages may have been, they appeared to be filled with power from God. His suggestions on preaching is timeless and very profitable for all who desire to preach, or to understand the preacher. So it is good for everyone. Notice the following from his works:

"That which I have found most beneficial in the public ministry of the Word, is expounding the Scriptures." He goes on to explain that "Expounding the Word of God brings little honour to the preacher from the unenlightened or careless hearer, but it tends much to the benefit of the hearers in general. Simplicity of expression, whilst the truth is set forth is of the utmost importance. It should be the aim of the teacher so to speak, that children, servants, and people who cannot read may be able to understand him, so far as the natural mind can comprehend the things of God."

Muller seemed more desirous that everyone under the sound of his voice might hear a clear trumpet call, rather than be impressed with lofty exhortations of grandeur. He was concerned for every hearer, hoping that when they walked away from his messages, they could take truth that was clearly understood.

When we preach today, we should desire to be a vessel meet for the Master's use, "fit to be employed both in the conversion of sinners and in the edification of the saints."

Saturday, February 28, 2009

College with a Purpose


College with a purpose
We have a college at our church. That is no new revelation to most of the folks reading this blog, but it might be a revelation to many that the college is open to anyone who would like to know more about the Scriptures and the Christian faith.
We don’t want to limit it by age, in fact, if your child can sit still without disturbing the other students, that child is welcome. If you have a small child, sit near the door, and if need be, take the child out when the disturbance becomes evident. We don’t want to limit anyone who would like to sit and learn.
It is not a floor for open debate, but honest questions are certainly welcome. It is not a church service, it is a college class. However, we bathe each class with prayer, we open with prayer and close with prayer. The Scriptures are held up as our final standard for all discussions.
The teachers are men educated in the Scriptures, not novices. Some have been Pastors of churches, some are deacons, others, faithful members of a local assembly that holds to the Scriptures as their final authority. All are born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and profess this in both word and life.
The cost is relatively inexpensive. In fact, if a person wants to attend and honestly cannot afford to attend, we will work with them in any manner that is reasonable to insure that they can continue their studies. If you would like to sit in on the class and just listen, that is free. Come as often as you like. All semester if you would like. We want the Word to be taught to all who wish to receive it.
Yes, it is a Baptist College. We make no apology for that either. We are not an arrogant group that says, “if you are not Baptist, you cannot attend”, but rather, if you can handle a baptistic lean on certain subjects, you are welcome as well. For instance, if you sprinkle, and call it baptism, you are welcome. However, don’t come to class expecting to use that class time to indoctrinate the rest of the students on covenantal theology.
Yes, we are Sovereign grace, or doctrines of grace. Again, if you are an arminian, and pleased with your position, you are welcome to attend as well. “No, Servetus, you will not be taken out and burned. We stopped that almost two semesters ago, so relax.” However, again, you will not be allowed to take the floor and filibuster for your position on election.
We want you to enjoy the class, learn, and go away challenged to take the Word of God and see if the things that have been taught are in fact scriptural. Study to show YOURSELF approved.
If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to contact me. I would love to hear from you concerning any interest. I can mail you a catalogue and application as well, just send your address and specific request.

Monday, February 23, 2009

When Method matches the Message.

When Method Matches the Message


The pulpit was ablaze and one could almost feel the emotions being poured forth from the podium. Bible open, hand uplifted, the message was solid, the words were pure, and no man dared dispute him. When we attend conferences and revivalist meetings, often times we come away with more than a strengthened resolve and encouraged heart, we come away with a false sense of methodology. Here is how this works: The preacher preaches a strong line on the family, the importance of the Scriptures and loyalty to church. We see the size or we perceive that the size, of the ministry he is involved in to be large. One leaves believing that preacher is a family integrationist by the great importance he places on the family unit. He even says, "I am a husband first, a preacher last." That sounds so good, in fact we begin to repeat the mantra, (even though we may have not been living it out in our own lives.) That is the conundrum. When does our method match our message.


For what it is worth, I have committed to making sure the church I pastor does not fall into the trap of fluff. I know, one man's fluff is another man's ministry. What one preacher calls fluff, another calls "useful method". Whether it be preaching, music, bus ministries, awana clubs or basket weaving, we tend to spiritualize the acts and suggest that in and of themselves, they are fine, as long as the end justifies the means. "Hey, the fact of the matter is evident: we are trying to get people to come to church, right?" Wrong. We are trying to preach Christ and Him crucified. Those who come to church ought to be the ones who Christ has already called to himself. Only the Saved can worship in Spirit and Truth. Yes, the world can worship, no doubt. But they cannot enter into the holy of holies and worship the one true God. Without the Spirit of God, there is no true worship. Yet, we bend all we do in the church many times to accommodate those "without the Spirit." We put fluff in place to make them comfortable, and hope they stick around long enough to "get saved." The church no longer goes, but rather sends out invitations.


What am I wanting in Worship? I am wanting what God wants in worship. Not what I want. If I got what I wanted, and if I were pleased with what I had, without regard to God's direct desires, I am only worshipping my own self-interests.


It is a hard thing for a preacher who loves to preach, to know that he could amp up the music just a bit, change the format to be a bit more man centered, and provide a few more "community based" activities to draw in a crowd. "Hey, I have never stopped preaching the same message!" But when, dear preacher, does the "Method match the Message". If you say you love families, why do you divide them? If you say you love the Word, why does it get supplanted by the emotionalism of the music ministry? If you say that Preaching is the primary activity in a church, why then is the pulpit secondary, or even further down the list of what is promoted in the church? Because we know, the lost world will not say, "Hey, I hear that they have a great pulpit ministry down there at Emmanuel, lets go check it out!"


Dr. Bruce Bickel states in his book Light and Heat"With the increase of communication equipment and an emphasis on communication skills, Bible studies, small groups and sharing are increasingly sought as the route to revitalizing the church, while faith in the pulpit fades and grows dim. Consequently, more emphasis is being placed on methodology and less on the message." Again, When does the Method match the Message? The answer is clear, "When it brings people in, and not before."


So, preachers fill their pulpits each week and proclaim, "I will not compromise the message from this pulpit, you can boot me out, but I am standing on the word!" The congregation shouts "AMEN!, but don't you dare allow your message to affect the methodology we practice here." The message, some suppose belongs in the pulpit, along with the messenger, but the method belongs to us, the people, "Why, that is the whole reason we are here!" I know Emmanuel has not arrived, but I want to be on the correct train, heading in the right direction.


Let us have a strong defense of the Word of God, but let us be careful not to diminish that with a low esteem of the message. We show a disregard and low esteem of the message, when it does not translate from out of the pulpit, to the methods practiced in the church. Crowds or not.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Orthodoxy?


It is evident, even to the casual observer that "orthodoxy" or what we believe and "orthopraxy" what we practice, are in conflict today. I have heard numerous people both young and old say, "Well, I believe this or that", about a particular subject, but they live opposite of what they claim. There is a very complicated word for that, one which may take some real understanding for us to grasp, "Hypocrisy". Many today are calling for a combination of the two words by suggesting that to intermingle the words will allow us to live in a way we want, and believe what we want, even if the two worlds collide. A frightening divergence from this is, "Well, it doesn't matter what you believe, as long as we all get along". Again, this is an abandonment of established orthodoxy leaving us with nothing more than a hollow religiosity, that is as empty as the heads of those practicing it. Before long, the Bible will be tossed aside for methods that "produce results". Oh, sorry, that is already being done. The end now justifies the means. It doesn't matter what you do to build the church, just build the church. The more people we have to preach to, the bigger the pond to fish in, the better chance we have of seeing converts. My question would be, "converts to what?" An empty practice, that has no foundation? A religion of mere outward appearances that is like the whitened sepulchers in Jesus' day, that were only full of dead men's bones?Thus, in the spiral downward, reach out and grab hold of truth, orthodoxy that has been the stabilizing factor for as long as God has been giving his word to mankind. Take the Bible as truth, for that is what it is: a non-negotiable set of standards for man.

Thursday, February 5, 2009



“Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats?”
by Charles Haddon Spurgeon 1834-1892
An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence, that the most shortsighted can hardly fail to notice it during the past few years. It has developed at an abnormal rate, even for evil. It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments. The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them.
From speaking out as the Puritans did, the church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses.
My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the church. If it is a Christian work, why did not Christ speak of it? "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). That is clear enough So it would have been if He had added, "and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel." No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to him.
Then again, "He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers .., for the work of the ministry" (Eph. 4:11-12). Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people or because they refused? The concert has no martyr roll.
Again, providing amusement is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all his apostles. What was the attitude of the church to the world? Ye are the salt" (Matt. 5:13), not the sugar candy---something the world will spit out not swallow. Short and sharp was the utterance, "Let the dead bury their dead" (Matt. 8:22) He was in awful earnestness.
Had Christ introduced more of the bright and pleasant elements into his mission, he would have been more popular when they went back, because of the searching nature of His teaching. I do not hear him say, "Run after these people Peter and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow, something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it. Be quick Peter, we must get the people somehow." Jesus pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them, but never sought to amuse them.
In vain will the Epistles be searched to find any trace of this gospel of amusement! Their message is, "Come out, keep out, keep clean out!" Anything approaching fooling is conspicuous by its absence. They had boundless confidence in the gospel and employed no other weapon.