Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day Musings

It's Father's Day, 2013 and for the first time ever, I don't have a father alive to honor, and I am sad today.

At church today, our status as adopted children of God was a part of the sermon and it got me thinking about how I used to deal with that topic when teaching Sunday School to Fourth graders. 

There are many adopted children in our church. I would pick one who was adopted and then remind the class that as the adopted son of Mr. Jack Smith, he was special in that respect. Then I would ask that child if he called his dad, "Mr. Smith". Of course, he would shake his head at the foolishness of that thought. So I would ask him if he called his dad, "Jack". Again, the thought was foolish. Finally I would ask him what he called his dad and the response was always, "DAD!!!" 

That brings about lots of musings about the idea of adoption:

The child doesn't initiate the adoption, nor does he do anything to make it happen. 
The child becomes a son/daughter of the father with every right, privilege, and responsibility belonging to a biological child.
The child loves his father, even though he isn't his biological father.
The father loves the child, even though he isn't his biological child. 
The child has reasonable expectations for what the father will do for him as he grows.
The father has the same responsibilities toward the adopted child as he does toward his biological child.

I could probably go on, but this is enough to get the picture. 

When a person repents and puts his faith in Jesus Christ as his Savior, he becomes an adopted child of God! Think about the implications if this is you!

You didn't initiate the adoption; God did!
You have every right, privilege, and responsibility that goes along with being a child of God.
You love God with a deep, abiding love.
God loves you with a deep, abiding love. 
You can expect God to keep all the promises in the Bible relating to you as His child.
God expects you to grow in grace and likeness of Jesus. 

And as for today, Father's Day...a believer has a Father to honor who will never die, who will never forsake him, who will be there for him always. The believer doesn't have to call Him "God", or "Yahweh", or "Adonai", but rather can approach Him with the tender word, "Abba" which means "Daddy". That is a staggering thought: you, the believer, can approach the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, the one and only true God...with the name, "Daddy," and expect in return the gentle love that name implies. 

It is good to know that God is the Father to the fatherless and I can call him Abba, on a day when I am missing my dad....

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Contentious Communication in the Digital Age

Digital communication not only a fact of the current age, but quite the convenience. Write a blog. Send and e-mail. Have a quick chat on Facebook. And do all of these things not only on your desktop or laptop computer, but from your handheld device as well! It's quite amazing when you stop to think of what communication was like when I grew up decades ago. Now you are never out of the loop and can virtually instantly communicate with anyone, any where. 

And that's a good thing...until...

I was witness to a huge blowup in a relationship between a couple of friends with all the accompanying hurt feelings and drama...and it all had to do with the use of digital media to communicate rather than talking on the phone or face-to-face. There is no question this happens more than we realize across this modern land.

So from an old guy who remembers corded, rotary phones with party lines, here are some general reasons for picking up the phone instead of the keypad or keyboard:

1) The receiver cannot see body language nor can he hear tone of voice. Those provide a substantial amount of additional information to the words that are actually said. With digital media, all you get are the words.

2) The sender finds it far too simple to type strong words and phrases on a screen and hit send. It's easy to type something you would never say to the person face-to-face. Just look at any contentious blog comment thread. Are these people really that nasty in person? I certainly hope not, or I fear for my country!

3) The sender has presuppositions in what he writes and the receiver has presuppositions in what he receives. Those presuppositions are probably not the same, and yet they color what is written and what is understood...probably falsely. The sender's presuppositions could cause him to write something that isn't true given the reality of the receiver's world and the receiver's presuppositions could easily cause him to misinterpret the sender's motives. And the die is then cast for conflict and hurt. 

4) When an email is sent on a contentious issue, every single point the sender wants to say is addressed all at once, wrapped up in a hard little ball, and sent straight at the receiver's face at the speed of light. So instead of being able to deal with the points one at a time, something which would probably alter the direction of the conversation because of the give and take and clarification that occurs (basically clarifying the presuppositions from point #3), all of the points hit at once. That results in hurt and anger on the receiving end, which results in a reply of similar type, which results in hurt and anger to the original sender, which results in another reply, and another, and another...and the spiral downward continues. 

Today's generation will say that texting/e-mail is just the way they communicate. Maybe so. And as long as the topics are of minor emotional importance, that is fine. But as soon as a topic arises that could potentially hurt feelings, the digital needs to give way to the vocal.

How do you do this?

As a sender, discipline yourself to never start a digital conversation under such terms. Pick up the phone. If you don't have a phone or a number, then wait. The potential for relational damage is far too great.

As a receiver, discipline yourself to hit the delete key as soon as it is obvious you have received such a communication. Don't even finish it because it will only hurt and anger you. Instead, pick up the phone and call. 

Make these your own habits and then teach them to your children. They will balk at first, but will thank you for it in the end.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Come to Christ!!

In all we do as humans, as husbands, as fathers...nothing is as important as knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This wonderful short video put together by the folks at featuring a portion of a sermon by Paul Washer does a powerful job of making the call to "Come to Christ!"

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Fire

PLEASE take the 12 minutes to watch this young man's anointed petitioning of you to come to Jesus, and live a life of ever-increasing Christ-likeness and holiness.

Eternity is at stake...

(If the video doesn't work correctly, click HERE to get the original.)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I'll Be Honest...

Thanks to J&J Bible Ministry at Truth Matters Blog, I have been introduced to a great website, I'll Be On this site you get real people with real testimonies about real conversions. Their purpose statement is as follows:

"I'll Be Honest is a web site that is focused on bringing Glory to God through video testimonies of Christians who have overcome the devil in their life through the Grace of God. Every single person alive battles the devil on a daily basis, and it is of great encouragement to see someone else testify to the saving power of the Grace of God. IBH is also focused on spreading the renown of Jesus Christ to the world through Open-Air Preaching and evangelism so that Christ might send revival!"

There are videos, online courses, blogs, and links on the site.

One of the videos that brought me to the site is included here. It is a young man who pulls no punches about his life and how it was transformed by the Gospel...NOT by a prayer said as an 8-year-old!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Ten Indictments

This is a sermon from the Revival Conference 2008 in Atlanta. Pastor Paul Washer brings Ten Indictments of the American church and "nails them to the door," so to speak. It isn't your usual 30- to 40-minute "feel good" sermon. It takes time to listen.

Please do me a favor. Listen with a humble, contrite spirit. And as you listen, will you please quietly open your heart and instead of critiquing the sermon, ask God to show you where these indictments might be applicable to your life. Then in humble repentance, ask God to forgive you in the name of Jesus.

This is a sermon God could use to change the church...and I pray it would be so.

May you be blessed by the proclamation of the Word!

(If the embedded video doesn't work, click HERE to access it directly on YouTube.)

Fasting and Weeping

Fasting and Weeping, another word from Pastor Paul Washer at the Revival Confercence 2008.

If the embedded video doesn't work, you can access it HERE.

How Revival Comes

This is a clip from the "Revival Conference 2008" held recently in Atlanta, Georgia. Paul Washer speaks eloquently about the reality of how revival comes.

More video clips can be found HERE.

It is all of grace....

Post-Election Musings

In case you didn't see it on my HomeDiscipling Dad blog, I am reposting this post-election muse here:

You might be a political junkie. You might be a hard-working dad who doesn’t have time to pay much attention. You might be a stay-at-home mom, diligently raising the next generation, barely having time to catch up with the news.

And you might be a dedicated Christian who understands the liberty upon which this nation was founded, and last week’s election results have you fearing the worst for our future and for the future of your children. It is a justifiable fear, based in facts. You are frightened. You are angry. You are bitter. You are lashing out. You read much, yet it doesn’t help but to add to the fear.

I know. I am that person.

Of all that I’ve read, though, there are three articles that stand out to me.

The first is by Dan Phillips of "Biblical Christianity" blog. Dan reflects on the wholly proper Biblical example of mourning for our country in light of what has happened. Our response shouldn’t be fear, anger, or bitterness, as much as mourning and crying to the Father for mercy.

The second is a link I found on Dan’s post to Betsy Markman’s blog, “Just Another Clay Pot.” She carries the idea of mourning and grief farther, and brings out the very important point that America is not in mortal danger because of who we have elected to office, but rather, America elected these people to office because we are in mortal danger! We are no longer a nation under God.

The third is a sermon by John MacArthur that was originally preached at one of the National Day of Prayer gatherings in the spring of 2008. (The transcript and the audio are available HERE.) In this sermon, MacArthur discusses the devolution of society when God removes His hand as illustrated in Romans 1 and shows how American culture has moved significantly down that road. He Scripturally backs up the contention found in Markman’s blog that we are no longer a nation under God.

If you read these resources, you will find they are not pleasant thoughts, for they illustrate a culture that is hurtling headlong into the abyss and anyone with a Biblically informed worldview living in this culture will see the future with trepidation. How could anyone not be concerned, especially parents who see a bleak future for their children? I know the arguments about Christians having their hope in heaven, and as a believer, my ultimate hope truly is in Jesus Christ… but I still live in this world and envision how it will be turned upside down in very short order. I am still mourning as Jeremiah did.

So what to do? What would a person who trusts his life to God in Jesus Christ actually do in this case?

Maybe we ought to get more involved in politics, fighting to take back the Republican Party from the moderates! Let’s flex our political muscles as a group!

While that’s quite appealing to me in the flesh, I know it’s not going to work, for it is like a million people attempting to bail out the ocean with teaspoons. No matter how hard they bail, the water is being replenished faster. If MacArthur is correct, God has removed His hand of protection from our country and it is only a matter of time before we lose all this country once was because our culture has already changed. Nothing we do politically will work. More confirmation of that thought comes from an eye-opening book I am reading entitled, "Idols for Destruction: The Conflict of Christian Faith and American Culture" by Herbert Schlossberg. The author does a fabulous job of showing how far our culture has drifted from the authentic Christian faith. Humanism is the rule of the day, even in most of our churches, influencing and affecting most everything we do, whether we realize it or not. Many Christians aren’t even aware how much we really don’t follow a Biblical worldview, even when we say we do! The results of this election are wholly in accordance with the humanistic cultural viewpoints Schlossberg brings out in his discussion. As our culture drifts farther and farther from the remnants of our Christian heritage, we will move closer and closer to socialism, decay, and loss of freedom. While battling in the political arena may postpone the inevitable, it will not stop it from coming, for our culture has changed to the point of demanding this change occur.

Is there any good news? In a word…Yes!

This is a wake-up call to the church, not to more and greater political involvement, but to more and greater reliance upon God and His claim on our lives. We are about to have our reliance upon the material world shattered. It will be painful, but if we will turn to God now, confess our sins, conform our lives to Scriptural principles, we can minimize that pain.

Even more importantly, though, is the church that is actually being the church expands God’s Kingdom by witnessing loudly to a culture lost in darkness. This is a church where Christians aren’t just cultural, but are Biblically informed, doctrinally sound, living lives directed by God’s laws and commandments. Puritan Samuel Bolton in his book, The True Bounds of Christian Freedom,” wrote the following: “The Law sends us to the Gospel for our justification; the Gospel sends us to the Law to frame our way of life.”

You don’t have to look very closely to see that virtually all of us “frame our way of life” according to the culture instead of according to the Law of God.

This has to change! As people who know the Lord of all, we need to frame our lives around the Word instead of around the culture. This isn’t in order to be saved, but as a result of our salvation. We need to live in Christian community, involved with each others’ lives in love. John makes it clear in His Gospel that it is by our love for each other that people will know we are Christians. Dr. R.C. Sproul, Jr. at the Highlands Study Center says it best in their mission statement: “Simple, Separate, and Deliberate.” The Christians in their churches strive for lives that are simple. That way they have time for each other, both within the individual families and between families. They are separate in that they separate from the culture, not in a monastic fashion, but in the fashion that a life lived by Biblical principles will necessarily not follow the trends, but live in a manner that seeks the approval of the Father. This necessitates a Christian culture that is distinctly separate from the pagan culture of America. And of course, to do both of these, they must be deliberate in taking all things captive to the Word of God. This makes them a light on the hill that shines forth brightly in their little corner of the world. Imagine that being recreated all across this land! Imagine how the Kingdom would be expanded through true witness and conversions! Imagine how the culture would be impacted!

How about us? We go to our Bible Studies. We talk about being salt and light, but honestly…how’s that working for ya? Have you had many converts? Has your culture changed at all? Have you personally grown in holiness and sanctification? Salt is different than the surrounding food; light is different than darkness. If we continue to look like the culture, not only will we have no hope in changing that culture, but we will go down with them as God brings His judgment.

Let’s use these perilous times to call us back to the lives our Father would have us live: lives that are humble, repentant, growing in holiness and dependence upon our God, lives that every day reflect a new aspect of obedience to the commandments of our Lord, lives that live in Christian community and express Christian love for each other. In doing so, our Lord in heaven will be pleased, and maybe…He will show mercy to our land.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11- Seven Years Later

As a person who works in one of the industries directly involved in the atrocity that was 9/11/01, today marks a day that indelibly etched in my mind.

Steve Camp posts a video that does a very nice job of remembrance, while pointing us to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ....

Since it's his video and song, rather than embed it, I will give you the link... go HERE to spend five minutes in remembrance of those who died and those who rose to the occasion.

Monday, May 26, 2008

A Lonely Christian?

I have come across two posts from two different blogs that dwell upon similar topics. I would comment them both to you for consideration and meditation. Both involve quotes from A.W. Tozer about the realities of the true Christian life and its resulting separation from the world.

The first is from The Great Apostasy

The second is from Scott Head at These are the Generations Of...

Enjoy...and be blessed!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Our Calling?

Dr. R.C. Sproul, Jr has a wonderful set of videos on YouTube (You can find them HERE). In this particular one, R.C. gives a quick, but concise answer to the question that plagues many a Christian: "What is our calling?" Wouldn't it be nice if there was a simple text that told me exactly what God wanted me to do with my life? 

Ponder R.C.'s answer....

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Church of Oprah

How many women who go by the name of "Christian" spend time watching Oprah Winfrey's television show and listening to her advice on life? My guess is the answer would be, "far too many!" Although Oprah grew up in a Baptist household, her pontificating on all things spiritual has shown her to be anything but Christian. In fact, she is New Age to the core...which means pagan and lost. Unfortunately her prestige and popularity allow her to witness these beliefs to millions upon millions of people, leading them down the road to perdition.

If you are a Christian, like her or not, please understand the dangers of what Oprah preaches, for it is heresy and will damn those who follow it to an eternity in hell.

HT to Thabiti Anyabwile of Pure Church for the following video:

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

100% Profanity Free!

I am glad the results of this widget turned out this way!!!

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?
Created by OnePlusYou

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Withholding Affection- Revisited

My little blog is still small enough that I can go through the hit-tracker and look at what is leading people to visit. Aside from a few regulars, there is one particular google-search that continually brings people to my site. The words used in that search are "withholding affection." Last August I did a three-part series on the topic of withholding affection (Part One can be found HERE and links to the following two parts are found at part one) and it receives hit after hit...and the people usually stay and read for a while.

That tells me I hit an international nerve (the hits come from all over the world) with those posts and there are lots and lots and lots of people out there who are struggling with this issue in their married relationships (if you aren't married and this is a problem, it's an easy fix: quit fornicating...for you shouldn't even be in this situation in the first place!!!).

The purpose of revisiting this topic is to guide you to a five-part series of posts by a woman that discusses the concept of a woman being sexy for her husband. I won't even begin to try to play amateur psychologist and venture a guess as to why women wouldn't want to do this...but apparently it is a problem...and if it were addressed, it would lead to a solution to part of the problem with the withholding affection issue. Part One of this series can be found HERE and links to each of the subsequent parts are found at the end. the ladies who happen by, please click over and take what she has to say to heart. For the men... it's not a bad series to read to help develop an understanding of what your wife may be feeling regarding sexual intimacy.

Regardless... the glory of God is at stake in marriages, and God expects His children to thoroughly enjoy the gift of sexual intimacy within the bounds of marriage. That we don't is an indication of our fallen nature as well as the pains that have been introduced by the lies of our culture regarding sex.

Therefore, if you are married, don't withhold! If you are single and burning with passion, get married!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Brother Yun and the Western Church

I recently became aware of a Chinese pastor by the name of Brother Yun, who now has an evangelical ministry to the West. He speaks no English, so his presentations are through a translator. His life story is told in the book, "The Heavenly Man," with Paul Hattaway (can be found at through the links on the left of my blog). It was compelling reading...which is code for "In a minute dear, I have to finish this chapter!" God's faithfulness to this man through trials like we in the West cannot imagine makes me desire God more. His life of nearness to God uniquely qualifies him to comment on the state of the church in the West. 

He states (on page 295):

"Before I travelled to the West I had absolutely no idea that so many churches were spiritually asleep. I presumed the Western church was strong and vibrant because it had brought the gospel to my country with such incredible faith and tenacity. Many missionaries had shown a powerful example to us by laying down their lives for the sake of Jesus.

On some occasions I've struggled while speaking in Western churches. There seems to be something missing that leaves me feeling terrible inside. Many meetings are cold and lack the fire and presence of God that we have in China (Brother Yun notes elsewhere in the book that the house churches in China rejected any foreign preacher who would not preach for at least two hours at a time!!!). 

In the West many Christians have an abundance of material possessions, yet they live in a backslidden state. They have silver and gold, but they don't rise up  and walk in Jesus' name. In China we have no possessions to hold us down, so there's nothing preventing us from moving out for the Lord. 

...It's almost impossible for the church in China to go to sleep in its present situation. There's always something to keep us on the run, and it's very difficult to sleep while you're running. If persecution stops, I fear we'll become complacent and fall asleep. (emphasis added)"

Asleep?! Cold and lack the fire and presence of God?! That is quite the indictment, yet it is so very, very true! Why is this? Brother Yun identifies the reason quickly and succinctly as our material riches. We rely on our bank account, on our job, on our political system, on ourselves, on anything but God! The devil doesn't have to inspire persecution here; he keeps us down with our own riches. Yun then attributes the life of the church in China to the high level of persecution. In essence, persecution is a good thing in the light of eternity! Isn't that just like God to turn something completely inside out with His truth? 

We in America tend to think that we are the epitome of Christianity; it is from us that the rest of the world should learn. In God's economy, that just isn't so. I "happened" to receive an e-mail newsletter from Dr. R.C. Sproul, Jr (Highlands Study Center) at the same time as I finished this book. He writes some thoughts as he returns from a short-term missions trip to Myanmar (formerly Burma). He says, "I come home deeply chastened for how western I am, rather than pleased with how Christian. I come home deeply disturbed by how much I take for granted the material blessings God has granted me and my family. I come home shamed by the passion, zeal, hope, and fidelity of the people I went to instruct (emphasis added). They, instead, instructed me. And, last but not least, I come home longing to go back."

How should we as believers respond? I don't have an answer... but I believe we could start by throwing ourselves at the foot of the Cross in repentance for not valuing our Savior as we should, for not following Him as we should, for not proclaiming Him as we should, for not fearing God as we should. We should seek Him with all our heart. We desperately need to find Him; we desperately need His presence; we desperately need to be changed by His grace. And the world desperately needs us to faithfully bring His love to them....

I intend to write more on Brother Yun's story and thoughts. I hope you will get the book for yourselves, for I know you will be blessed by it. 

Monday, December 31, 2007

What Evangelism Isn't

Mark Dever writes a very perceptive essay on evangelism, containing many points most Christians need to learn. Pay close attention to what evangelism IS NOT!


From Christianity Today Online

What Evangelism Isn't

We need to stop mistaking other Christian activities for the spreading of the gospel.

I remember as a little child hugging my father's leg at a gas station only to realize it wasn't his leg I was hugging. I was embarrassed! It was a case of mistaken identity.

In the matter of evangelism, I'm concerned about a number of things that people take to be evangelism that aren't. And this case of mistaken identity can have consequences more serious than mere embarrassment. Let me mention five things mistaken for evangelism.


Probably the most common objection to evangelism today is, "Isn't it wrong to impose our beliefs on others?"

Some people don't practice evangelism because they feel they are imposing on others. And the way evangelism is often done, I can understand the confusion! But when you understand what the Bible presents as evangelism, it's really not a matter of imposing your beliefs.

It's important to understand that the message you are sharing is not merely an opinion but a fact. That's why sharing the gospel can't be called an imposition, any more than a pilot can impose his belief on all his passengers that the runway is here and not there.

Additionally, the truths of the gospel are not yours, in the sense that they uniquely pertain to you or your perspective or experience, or in the sense that you came up with them. When you evangelize, you are not merely saying, "This is how I like to think of God," or "This is how I see it." You're presenting the Christian gospel. You didn't invent it, and you have no authority to alter it.

Personal Testimony

One of the classic testimonies was given by a blind man Jesus healed. When he was questioned after Jesus healed him, he responded, "Whether he [Jesus] is a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!" (John 9:25). The man disregarded the menacing threats of those more honored and respected than he in order to give this verbal witness to the power of God. It's a wonderful, powerful testimony, but it's not evangelism. There is no gospel in it. The man didn't even know who Jesus was.

An account of a changed life is wonderful and inspiring thing, but it's the gospel of Jesus Christ that explains what it's all about and how it happened.

Social Action and Public Involvement

Being involved in mercy ministries may help to commend the gospel, which is why Jesus taught, "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (Matt. 5:16). Displaying God's compassion and kindness by our actions is a good and appropriate thing for Christians to do. But such actions are not evangelism. They commend the gospel, but they share it with no one. To be evangelism, the gospel must be clearly communicated, whether in written or oral form.

When our eyes fall from God to humanity, social ills replace sin, horizontal problems replace the fundamental vertical problem between us and God, winning elections eclipses winning souls.


Other people mistake apologetics for evangelism. Like the activities we've considered above, apologetics itself is a good thing. We are instructed by Peter to be ready to give a reason for the hope that we have (1 Pet. 3:15). And apologetics is doing exactly that. Apologetics is answering questions and objections people may have about God or Christ, or about the Bible or the message of the gospel.

Answering questions and defending parts of the good news may often be a part of conversations Christians have with non-Christians, and while that may have been a part of our own reading or thinking or talking as we came to Christ, such activity is not evangelism.

Apologetics can present wonderful opportunities for evangelism. Being willing to engage in conversations about where we came from or what's wrong with this world can be a significant way to introduce honest discussions about the gospel.

By far the greatest danger in apologetics is being distracted from the main message. Evangelism is not defending the virgin birth or defending the historicity of the resurrection. Apologetics is defending the faith, answering the questions others have about Christianity. It is responding to the agenda that others set. Evangelism, however, is following Christ's agenda, the news about him. Evangelism is the positive act of telling the good news about Jesus Christ and the way of salvation through him.

The Results of Evangelism

Finally, one of the most common and dangerous mistakes in evangelism is to misinterpret the results of evangelism—the conversion of unbelievers—for evangelism itself, which is the simple telling of the gospel message. Who can deny that much modern evangelism has become emotionally manipulative, seeking simply to cause a momentary decision of the sinner's will, yet neglecting the biblical idea that conversion is the result of the supernatural, gracious act of God toward the sinner?

When we are involved in a program in which converts are quickly counted, decisions are more likely pressed, and evangelism is gauged by its immediately obvious effect, we are involved in undermining real evangelism and real churches.

The Christian call to evangelism is a call not simply to persuade people to make decisions but rather to proclaim to them the good news of salvation in Christ, to call them to repentance, and to give God the glory for regeneration and conversion. We don't fail in our evangelism if we faithfully tell the gospel to someone who is not converted; we fail only if we don't faithfully tell the gospel at all. Evangelism itself isn't converting people; it's telling them that they need to be converted and telling them how they can be.

From The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever copyright © 2007, adapted from pages 69-82. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187,

Related Elsewhere:

The Gospel and Personal Evangelism is available from and other retailers.

John G. Stackhouse Jr. addressed "What Conversion Is and Is Not" in a 2003 article.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

"Receiving" the Gospel

Paul Washer's HeartCry Missionary Society publishes a quarterly magazine available for download from their website. In Volume 54, September-November 2007, the leading article is on the Gospel. In the article, the author muses upon and exegetes First Corinthians 15:1-4. ("Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,"

In particular, I found the section on "Receiving" the Gospel to be one of the best (and most challenging) explanations of both the requirements for and the implications of becoming a Christian. 

For your edification, I reprint (via my typing, thus I take full responsibility for any typos) that section here. Any italics or bold are my emphases on the author's points. Please visit the links above to read the entire article or the entire magazine.

For men to be saved, the Gospel must be received. Yet, what does it mean to "receive" the Gospel? There is nothing extraordinary about the word "received" in English or biblical Greed, but in the context of the Gospel, it becomes quite extraordinary, and one of the most radical words in Scripture.

First, when two things are contrary or diametrically opposed to one another, to receive the one is to reject the other. Since there is no affinity or friendship between the Gospel and the world, to "receive" the Gospel is to "reject" the world. In this is demonstrated just how radical the act of receiving the Gospel can be. To receive and follow the Gospel call is to reject all that can be seen with the eye and held in the hand, in exchange for what cannot be seen. It is to reject personal autonomy, the right to self-government, in order to enslave oneself to a "messiah" who died two thousand years ago as an enemy of the state and a blasphemer. It is to reject the majority and its views, in order to join oneself to a berated and seemingly insignificant minority called the Church. It is to risk everything in this one and only life in the belief that this impaled prophet is the Son of God and the Savior of the world.

Secondly, for a man to "receive the Gospel" is for him to trust exclusively in the person and work of Jesus Christ as the only way of right standing before God. It is a common maxim that to trust in anything exclusively is dangerous, or at best, a very unwise thing to do. A man is considered careless to not have a backup plan, to not have an alternative escape roue, to not diversify his investments, or to put all his eggs in the same basket and burn bridges behind him. Yet, this is the very thing that is done by the man who received Jesus Christ. The Chirstian faith is exclusive. To truly receive Christ is to throw off every other hope in every other thing but Christ alone. It is for this reason that the Apostle Paul declares that the Christian is of all men most to be pitied, if Christ is a hoax. To receive the Gospel is not merely to pray a prayer asking Jesus to come into one's heart, but it is to put away the world and embrace the fullness of the claims of Christ.

To "receive the Gospel" is to open one's life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This is quite different from the plea of contemporary evangelism that directs men to "make Jesus Lord" of their lives. What we must understand is that Jesus IS Lord of every man. The Scriptures declared that God has made Him both Lord and Christ. He has installed His King upon His holy mountain and scoffs at those who would rebel against Him. God does not call men to make Jesus Lord, but t live in absolute submission to the Lord He has made.

The man who receives the Gospel, and with it, Jesus as Lord, does a very dangerous and sensible thing. It is dangerous in a Narnian sort of way. After all, He is not a tame Lion, and He is certainly not safe. He has the right to ask anything of those who call Him Lord, but He is good, and worthy of joyful trust. Those who do not understand the danger of the Gospel call have heard it only faintly. The same Jesus, who calls the weary to Himself, may also ask of them everything, and send them forth to lose their lives for His sake in this dark and fallen world. 

To receive the Gospel and Jesus as Lord is also a sensible thing to do. What could be more reasonable than to follow the omnipotent Creator and Sustainer of the universe, who has loved His people with an eternal love, redeemed them with His own blood, and demonstrated uncompromising commitment to every promise He has made? Even if He were not this way, and all this goodness was not in Him, it would still be most sensible to follow Him for who can resist His will? It is for these reasons and countless more, the Apostle urges us"to present our bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God", and calls it our spiritual or "reasonable service of worship."

To "receive the Gospel" is for the world and self to be dethroned and for Christ to become our new epicenter! He becomes the source, the purpose, the goal, and the motivation of all that we are and do. When a man receives the Gospel, his entire life begins to be lived out in a different context, and that context is Christ. Although the outward signs at the moment of true conversion may be less dramatic, the gradual effects will be monumental. Like a pebble cast in the center of a lake, the ripple effect of the Gospel will eventually reach the full circumference of the believer's life and touch every shore.

Finally, to "receive the Gospel" is to take it as the very source and sustenance of one's life. Christ cannot be received as "a part" of one's life or as an addition to all the other good things that one already possesses without Him. He is not some minor accessory that dresses up our life and makes it better. In receiving the Gospel, He becomes our life. In John 6:53, Jesus taught, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves." In Psalm 34:8, David cries out, "O taste and see that the Lord is good." What could make it clearer? To receive Christ into our lives is for Him to become for us not only a necessary meal that sustains us, but also an exquisite meal in which we delight.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


People toss around the accusation of "legalist" or "legalism" quite frequently. But I wonder if they have ever given thought to what it means to be a legalist or to what legalism truly means. 

For your pondering, here is a quote from Paul Washer with a quick definition:

"Legalism is legalism when there is separation from the world and not a running to God."

People so often look at a person who is advocating separating from the world or has separated from the world himself and proclaim him to be a "legalist." I think Washer's comment is right on, because a separation from the world by itself would indeed be legalism, or the attempt to attain salvation through works. On the other hand, we are told to separate ourselves from the world...but unless we are separating ourselves unto God in the process, we do indeed practice legalism. When we separate from the world and unto God, we practice holiness and sanctification...which is what we as Christians are supposed to do!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Piper on Regeneration

The root of many of our problems in the American evangelical church today is that many (most?) who populate our churches are false converts brought in by the ravages of the heresy of "decisionism." This is discussed over and over in other parts of this blog, often in the form of preaching by Paul Washer. 

However, John Piper is joining the fray with a sermon series begun on November 18th addressing what it means to be "born again." The bottom line is a person who is born again actually is regenerated and thus exhibits the fruit of regeneration.

His first sermon on the subject can be found by clicking HERE and then scrolling down to November 18th. I highly commend the entire series to you...even though I have only heard the first one!!! It could well be the most timely sermon series for our church and for our nation. May his exposition be heard throughout our land....

Friday, November 02, 2007

Opportunity or Distraction?

I had the pleasure of sitting for an entire weekend under the teaching of Gregg Harris. One of the many pearls of wisdom he illuminated for us was this: Often opportunities and distractions look the same; the only way to tell the difference is to have a goal and to compare them to that goal.

I know that often, people are overwhelmed with the considerable number of "good" things available in life. Just think how many opportunities your church offers. Then add in the good extracurricular activities for your children. Then add in your own personal time with God. It doesn't take very long for a person's calendar to become saturated and a person's life to become overwhelmed. And yet, the thought is that they are all "good" things and therefore shouldn't be missed.

Our church has a very good mission statement. It is broad enough to cover virtually anything that could arise at the church and yet specific enough to provide a good filter for maintaining direction. It is: "Bethlehem Baptist exists to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ." Take some time to consider this statement. Look at how general, yet how specific it is. There is a distinct direction, yet there is broad application. The statement itself is then broken down into its parts, with each part described and discussed, to include the Scripture and Biblical principles behind it. In practice, every new idea, every new program is processed through that mission statement. If it doesn't contribute to the mission, it isn't adopted...regardless of any other merit it may have. In effect, this statement gives our elders the ability to discern opportunity from distraction.

This is what we as families need. We need a mission statement that will give us guidance and set a direction for us. If we will work to develop a statement along the lines of what BBC has as a church (broad enough to cover most aspects of life, yet specific enough to provide direction) and if we will base it on Biblical principles...we will give intentional direction to our lives and to our families. Once developed, this statement becomes a filter through which you as a family can process all opportunities in order to discern true opportunities from distractions.

A person or a family with Bible-saturated, God-centered direction is a person or a family that is intentionally building the Kingdom of God in this dark and wicked world. They are intentional. They are focused. They are bound together in common work. They are witnesses to the world. And above all, they are witnessing the love of God through Jesus Christ to their sphere of influence.

May I challenge you to sit down with your spouse and begin to hammer out a vision, a direction for your family? You will be blessed in the long term for doing so.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Satan's Sifting...

I am reading a wonderful little book I received at the Desiring God National Conference entitled, "Walk as He Walked." In the second section, the author is discussing how Jesus is going to allow Peter to be "sifted" by Satan, but has prayed that Peter's faith will not fail. He points out how, although Satan means for the sifting to be something that destroys Peter, he will actually be stronger for it. This is because Satan's "sifting" will take away all means of relying on self, thus forcing Peter to rely solely on Christ with no pretenses.

That should be the life of the Christian today. If we are following closely to Jesus, we should expect to be targeted by Satan for sifting, but we should also expect that Jesus will pray for our faith not to fail. We will endure hardships of all kinds, yet those hardships will draw us closer to Christlikeness as they strip away our self-reliance. The end result is a stronger, more Christ-dependent believer who makes a bigger impact for the Kingdom of God.

This entire thought is is stark contrast to the "health, wealth, and prosperity" message being preached at so many "successful" churches today. Below are John Piper's thoughts on these sorts of messages...and he pulls no punches and even loses some of his normal eloquence in the emotion of the moment.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Pilgrim on Responsibility

As I have been quite busy lately, I haven't had enough time to compose enough of my thoughts for a reasonable blog entry. However, I have read through the wonderful writings of some others and thought I'd link one here.

The Peculiar Pilgrim writes a wonderful muse that started with a Pyromaniacs post on a concept Dan Phillips terms as the "responsibility index." I would encourage you to click over and read the Pilgrim's thoughts. If you want to read the post that started it all, you can click on the Pyro link at the beginning of this paragraph or you can click on the link in Pilgrim's post.

HERE'S Pilgrim's post...enjoy and be edified!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Conversion of Dying Man

I've had two recent posts dealing with the sincere request from my heart that all who would read them would take the time to test themselves to see if they are in the faith. The first is an article (HERE) and the second consists of links to some wonderful sermons by Paul Washer on the subject (HERE). While I wouldn't think it would be too hard to read the article, I do understand the initial reluctance to listen to over four hours of sermons. I say "initial reluctance" because once you take the time to listen, you will want to hear them again and again to let God speak to you in all the details (I've listened to all of them three times!)

So, to give you a glimpse of what I'm trying to get across, here is a YouTube video of a portion of one of Washer's sermons in which he describes the conversion of a man who has been given only three weeks to live. It is anything but what we in America have been taught about how to "lead people to Christ." There is no question the man is saved in the end...not because a human being told him he was saved based upon the repetition of a canned prayer, but because the Holy Spirit confirmed it in the man's soul!!!

May we all know a salvation like this...and it can be found if you will just humble yourself, turn from your sins (repent), and throw yourself at the mercy of God at the foot of the Cross of Jesus. Don't stop until God Himself has made it clear you have been saved, for only the Holy Spirit can truly tell a man he's been saved.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Correct Question

"Why do bad things happen to good people?" That's the question that is so often asked, especially in times of suffering. However, it doesn't take a lot of consideration to realize how man-centered the question is and how its underlying assumption of people being "good" flies in the face of God's Word. A much better question is, "Why to good things happen to bad people?"

Jim Bublitz at has a wonderful article/testimonial dealing with this question in real life...and how so many of our trite Christian responses just aren't correct. He ends with a YouTube video of a gentleman with a phenomenal testimony to God's grace through a lifetime of suffering. The next time you have something go wrong, think of these two gentlemen and how they place their whole life in God's hands, regardless of where it takes them. Take the time to watch and listen. You will be blessed.

You can get to it all by clicking HERE.