Thursday, June 30, 2011

People Get Ready. Beck, Sting....

Piper- Hallowing God's Name

On October 9 last year during my leave of absence while I was pondering these things, I wrote in my journal:
My ONE Great Passion!

 Nothing is more clear and unshakeable to me than that the purpose of the universe is for the hallowing of God's name.
 His kingdom comes for THAT.
 His will is done for THAT.
 Humans have bread-sustained life for THAT.
 Sins are forgiven for THAT.
 Temptation is escaped for THAT.
And then on the next day, October 10, I wrote:
Lord, grant that I would, in all my weaknesses and limitations, remain close to the one clear, grand theme of my life: Your magnificence.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Love your enemies now!

I have heard preachers say, the only thing we do on this earth that we won’t do in the age to come, is witness to unbelievers. So be about it. This is your only chance. It’s now or never.
Well, it is now or never. And we should be about it. The point is well made.
But there is another now-or-never.
Jesus said, “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44). He clearly loved his enemies: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). And God loved his: “While we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Romans 5:10).
But in the age to come there will be no enemies to love. They will have all become friends (Luke 16:9), or they will have been cast into outer darkness (Matthew 8:12). Neither we, nor Christ, nor God the Father, nor the Holy Spirit, nor the angels will love our enemies any more.
To the degree that we are aware of those in hell, the view will not be one of love, but of abhorrence (Isaiah 66:24).
Today is the day God has appointed to love our enemies. Either we will do it in this life, or we will never do it. But Jesus commands it to be done. It is a revelation of his glory in this world. Loving our enemies is one of the good deeds people see and give glory to God (Matthew 5:16). It is an echo of his cross (Ephesians 4:32). This is the only world where this demonstration of God’s glory can happen.
And it will be remembered forever. “Their deeds follow them” (Revelation 14:13). Jesus’ enemy love will be sung forever—the song of the Lamb (Revelation 15:3). And the echo of it, in our love, will resound through eternity in the stories of our sacrifices.
Don’t waste your life. It’s a gift from God. He gave it so that you could join him in displaying his glory. Some of those displays can only happen now. Now or never. Love your enemies.
(Desiring God)

Arguments for God

1. Cosmological Argument: Also called the argument from universal causation or the argument from contingency, the cosmological argument is probably the most well-known and well-loved among theistic apologists. The basic argument is that all effects have an efficient cause. The universe, and all that is in it, due to its contingent (dependent) nature, is an effect. Therefore, the universe has a cause…but that  cause cannot be an effect, or one would have to explain its cause. Therefore, there must be an ultimate cause, an unmoved mover, an uncaused cause that began the process. This cause must transcend time and space in order to transcend the law of cause and effect. This transcendent entity must be personal in order to willfully cause the effect. This ultimate cause is God.
2. Teleological Argument: (Gr. telos, “end” or “purpose”) This is also know as the argument from design. This argument moves from complexity to a necessary explanatory cause for such complexity. The universe has definite design, order, and arrangement which cannot be sufficiently explained outside a theistic worldview. From the complexities of the human eye to the order and arrangement of the cosmology, the voice of God is heard. Therefore, God’s existence is the best explanation for such design. God is the undesigned designer.
3. Moral Argument: This argument argues from the reality of moral laws to the existence of a necessary moral law giver. The idea here is that if there are moral laws (murder is wrong, selfishness is wrong, self-sacrifice is noble, torturing innocent babies for fun is evil), then there must be a transcendent explanation and justification for such laws. Otherwise, they are merely conventions that are not morally binding on anyone. Since there are moral laws, then there must be a moral law giver who transcends space and time. This moral law giver is God.
4. sensus divinitatus (“sense of the divine”): While this argument goes by many names, thesensus divinitatus argues for the existence of God from the innate sense of the divine that exists within humans. This sense of the divine, it can be argued, is the “God-shaped void” within all of us. This explains why people, societies, and cultures of all time have, by nature, sensed a need to worship something greater than themselves.
5. The Argument from Aesthetic Experience: This is the argument from universal beauty and pleasure. Beauty and pleasure are universally recognized as such. Even subjective variation in one’s definition of what is beautiful are not distinct enough to relativize this principle. From the beauty of the sunset over the Rockies to the pleasure of eating certain foods, there is a common aesthetic experience that transcends the individual. This transcendence must have a ultimate source. This ultimate source is God.
6. Argument from the Existence of Arguments: The idea here is that there is no such thing as an argument without order and rationality. In the absence of God, all that exists is chaos. Chaos does not give birth to order. Arguments assume order. Order assumes purpose and design, which in turn require a transcendent being for their genesis. To even argue against the existence of God assumes his existence and is therefore self-referentially absurd. Therefore, there is no such thing as an “argument” against Transcendence (God).
7. Argument from the Existence of Free-will Arguments: If there is no God, then all we have is a meaningless series of cause and effect stretching back into eternity. This series of causes and effects is necessary and determined, being the result of the previous cause and effect. As a billiard ball is hit by another and has no self-motivated movements of its own, so all of human existence operates under the same conditions. All things are determined, not self-motivated, including beliefs. Therefore, if someone does not believe in God, it is not the result of self-motivated free-will beliefs, but because of a determined and fatalistic series of causes and effects stretching back into eternity. To argue against the existence of God would not be the result of looking at the evidence and making a more reasoned decision to not believe in God, but because that is what people were fatalistically determined to do. Therefore, all arguments are absurd and unjustified without God.
8. Argument from the Existence of Evil: Like the moral argument, this argument assumes the existence of a universal characteristic that is meaningless without God. Some argue that the existence of evil disproves God (or at least a good God), but to argue such is formally absurd since one would have to have an ultimate and transcendent standard of good in order to define evil. If evil exists, goodness exists. If both exist, there must be a transcendent norm from which they get their meaning. Since evil does exist, God exists.
9. Argument from Miracles: There are events in human history which cannot be explained outside of the existence of God. Many people have their subjective stories that bend them in the direction of theism, but there are also historical events such as the resurrection of Christ and predictive prophecy which cannot be explained without an acknowledgment of God. In short, from the Christian’s standpoint, if Christ rose from the grave, then God exists. There is no alternative reasonable explanation which accounts for such an event outside a belief in God. History convincingly demonstrates that Christ did rise from the grave. Therefore, God exists.

10. Pascal’s Wager:
 Popularized by French philosopher Blaise Pascal, Pascal’s Wager argues that belief in God is the most rational choice due to the consequences of being wrong. If one were to believe in God and be wrong, there are no consequences. However, if one were to deny God and be wrong, the consequences are eternally tragic. Therefore, the most rational choice, considering the absence of absolute certainty, is not agnosticism or atheism (which one could definitely not be certain about), but a belief in God.
(Parchment and Pen)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Words and their intended meaning are very important......

Love Wins? "aion and kolazo"

Scot Mcknight speaks about Rob's use of these two words:

Rob enters in this chapter into the judgment leads to restoration theme; consequences are for correction. This is a major point in his book. In this context he brings up the Greek word kolazo (it should be kolasis since the noun is used in Matthew 25), and Rob says something that must be flagged as unfair. He says kolazo “refers to the pruning and trimming of the branches of a plant so it can flourish” (91), and the noun is combined with aionion (he uses aion) and says this is an “aion of kolazo” or a “period of pruning.” Again, check BDAG [infliction of chastisement, punishment, transcendent retribution, punishment; under kolazo, the verb, penalize, punish ... finishing with "Aristotle's limitation of the term... to disciplinary action ... is not reflected in gener. usage"]. 

My point: it is simply disingenuous to say without qualification that it means pruning, and it is unfair to readers not to say that most — if not almost all — instances refer to a kind of retributive punishment and chastisement — there is very little emphasis in this word’s usage that suggests punish to improve and much more punish full stop. Here’s the big point: this is about Life and Kolasis/Punishment in The Age to Come. The Age to Come is everlasting.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Randy Alcorn on Hell

taken from his blog

He quotes Francis Chan and others..

Chan is honest, admitting that when it comes to Matthew 25:46 “everything in me wants to interpret it differently, to make it say something that fits my own view of justice and morality.” Then he adds, “But from what I can tell, this is what the text is saying.”
One of the tests of whether we truly believe in the authority of God’s Word is whether or not we bow to it and accept it by faith even when it is painful or disturbing to do so. (What should it tell us if the Bible seems to always agree with us?) Chan models this approach to biblical interpretation. Will we pridefully believe what we want to, or humbly believe whatever God has told us?

C. S. Lewis said of Hell, “There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power. But it has the full support of Scripture and, specially, of our Lord’s own words; it has always been held by Christendom; and it has the support of reason.” Dorothy Sayers, another broad-minded Christian, claimed, “We cannot repudiate Hell without altogether repudiating Christ.”
Too many Christians choose to believe whatever makes them feel good, while they ignore, deny, or reinterpret Scripture when it doesn’t fit culture’s current definition of love and tolerance. Hence, culture and the reader of Scripture become the authority, rather than Scripture itself. Faith becomes merely a collection of fleeting opinions, always subject to revision. That is something very different from historic, biblically grounded Christian faith.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

Glad to be SBC!!!!

Disaster Relief

  • An total of 167,731 volunteers were engaged through the ministries of Baptist Builders, Campers on Mission, Disaster Relief, Families on Mission, Appalachian Regional Ministry, and The Bridge. These volunteers recorded 11,715 professions of faith. More than 155,000 Buckets of Hope were collected and distributed for Haiti Disaster Relief.
  • There were 20,522 participants involved in World Changers in 2010. That represents a total of 1,053 churches. World Changers completed a total of 95 projects and recorded 530 professions of faith while collecting a mission offering of $140,385.80. PowerPlant  participants numbered 2,361, involving 109 churches. There was a total of 19 projects. They recorded a total of 109 professions of faith working with 112 church plants and collecting a mission offering of $18,566.55 to be disbursed to local church planting needs.
  • Southern Baptist Disaster Relief engaged in disaster responses during 2010, including Haiti Earthquake Response. More than 32,556 volunteer days produced 272,963 meals; completed 2,201 jobs (clean-up following floods, fires, storms, and other types of disasters); made 72,272 ministry contacts; and recorded 2,642 professions of faith. More than 70,000 people are trained in Disaster Relief.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Glad to be SBC!!!

II. North American Missions

The accomplishments below show some of the results of our efforts in 2010.
  • Crossover Orlando, held prior to the 2010 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention and coordinated by NAMB, resulted in 1,505 professions of faith. Approximately 1,940 volunteers and 53 churches participated in the event.
  • More than 5,800 evangelism resources were downloaded to support the annual Soul Winning Commitment Day.
  • The strategy of sharing Christ through Intentional Community Evangelism in major cities resulted in 635 salvations.
  • There are 3,504 SBC-endorsed chaplains serving in military, hospital, professional, corporate, public safety, and institutional settings. Chaplains have access to places many Southern Baptists cannot go, giving them a vital role in helping reach North America for Christ. In 2010, chaplains shared the gospel more than 62,000 times and recorded more than 10,000 professions of faith.
  • As part of World Hunger Funds given by Southern Baptists, NAMB received $981,417 for domestic hunger. In North America, Southern Baptist hunger ministries fed 5.3 million meals and reported more than 33,000 professions of faith.
  • Pregnancy resource ministries play a vital role in sharing Christ. There are 308 NAMB-affiliated pregnancy resource centers in the United States and Canada. Last year, center volunteers and staff shared the gospel as they ministered through more than 85,000 client visits, and 6,835 babies were saved from abortion as a result of ministry evangelism activities.
  • The Evangelism Response Center (ERC) now relates to 40 state conventions and 34 SBC and non-SBC agencies. A total of 1,136 new Telephone Encouragers and 54 Regional Facilitators were trained during 2010. All certified Telephone Encouragers and Internet Encouragers are required to give 30 hours of service per year. The average conversion rate through ERC ministry is 8+ percent. In 2010, ERC received 16,245 calls, an average of 1,354 per month. There were 1,861 people who accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior through ERC and its partnership ministries. In addition to these decisions, ERC referred more than 1,400 people to covenant churches. The ERC phone number will be placed on all God’s Plan for Sharing related initiatives until 2020.
Starting churches:
Southern Baptists lead all denominations in starting new churches, more than 100 each month. Church plants must be healthy and ethnically diverse, with a Kingdom perspective, and evangelistic passion, and a multiplication mindset. In addition to the roughly 50,000 churches and church-type missions in the SBC today, research indicates that an additional 125,000 churches will be needed in the coming decade to touch just a fraction—10 percent—of the estimated 258 million people without Christ.
In partnership with state conventions, local associations, and churches, NAMB has seen the following results in church planting.
  • Southern Baptists added 1,271 congregations in 2010.
  • Since NAMB’s formation in 1997, Southern Baptists have started more than 20,000 churches. That’s an average of more than 1,500 new churches every year, with a large percentage being ethnic or African-American.
  • The Nehemiah Project has created a church planting partnership between NAMB and all six Southern Baptist seminaries and the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary. Since 1998, Nehemiah professors have worked to train and mobilize church planters resulting in approximately 1,000 church planters, including 34 new planters in 2010 and approximately 1,324 church planter interns, including 24 new interns in 2010.
  • Partnering with the Canadian National Baptist Convention, NAMB is helping to assist the convention in its goal to start 1,000 churches in Canada by 2020. There are currently 268 SBC churches and church plants in the country.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Glad to be SBC!!

Things done thru the Southern Baptist Convention last year:

I. International Missions

  • supported 4,969 missionaries on the international field; add the children of missionaries, and you support over 9,000 on the field.
  • gave$96 million toward international missions. 
  • IMB missionaries planted 29,237 churches around the world in 920 people groups; newly engaged 114 previously unengaged peoples groups.

Owl City

"Lord, just give me the songs you want me to write so I can record them, release them, put them in the can, and reflect all glory and praise back to you." 
Adam Young (aka Owl City)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Are You getting better?

sermon excerpt from Tullian

So this is my favorite quote in the world. It comes from a guy named Gerhard Forde, who was a theologian. He wrote this toward the end of his life. I love this perspective. It’s so liberating. He says: “Am I making progress? If I am really honest, it seems to me that the question is odd, even a little ridiculous. As I get older and death draws nearer, I don’t seem to be getting better. I get a little more impatient, a little more anxious about having perhaps missed what this life has to offer, a little slower, harder to move, a little more sedentary and set in my ways. Am I making progress? Well, maybe it seems as though I sin less, but that may only be because I’m getting tired! It’s just too hard to keep indulging the lusts of youth. Is that sanctification? I wouldn’t think so! One should not, I expect, mistake encroaching senility for sanctification! But can it be, perhaps, that it is precisely the unconditional gift of grace that helps me to see and admit all that? I hope so. 
The grace of God should lead us to see the truth about ourselves, and to gain a certain lucidity, a certain humor, a certain down-to-earthness.” It explains why the apostle Paul says at the end of his life, “I’m the chief of sinners.” He was acutely aware of the fact that, when it’s all said and done, he hasn’t really gotten that much better, and that made him all that much more grateful for Jesus. It’s what Jack Miller used to say. “Cheer up. You’re a lot worse off than you think you are, but God’s grace is much bigger than you could have ever imagined.” 

So what Gerhard Forde is saying is this. When we stop narcissistically focusing on our need to get better, that is what it means to get better. In other words, when we stop obsessing over our need to improve, that is what it means to improve. That’s the definition of improvement.

So this is the question. What are you going to do now that you don’t have to do anything? That will set you free. Because what’s ironic about this is, once the gospel frees you from the enslaving pressure to do anything for Jesus, you’ll want to do everything for Jesus. There is this remarkable fear that if you preach the radicalism of God’s unconditional grace, people are going to take advantage of it and they’re going to go off the deep end. Parents are afraid of that and preachers are afraid of it. It’s not true. Think about this. 

The more assured I am of my wife’s unconditional love for me, whether I’m being nice or not nice, the more assured I am that she will love me just the same whether I’m in a good mood or a bad mood, whether I’m being nice or mean, that makes me want to be nice.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Jesus prays for the Church

Father, the hour has come.
Glorify Your Son so that the Son may glorify You,
for You gave Him authority over all flesh;
so He may give eternal life to all You have given Him.
This is eternal life:
that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent – Jesus Christ.
I have glorified You on the earth by completing the work You gave Me to do.
Now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with that glory I had with You before the world existed.
I have revealed Your name to the men You gave Me from the world.
They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.
Now they know that all things You have given to Me are from You,
because the words that You gave Me, I have given them.
They have received them and have known for certain that I came from You.
They have believed that You sent Me. I pray for them.
I am not praying for the world but for those You have given Me, because they are Yours.
All My things are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I have been glorified in them.
I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to You.
Holy Father, protect them by Your name that You have given Me,
so that they may be one as We are one.
While I was with them, I was protecting them by Your name that You have given Me.
I guarded them and not one of them is lost,
except the son of destruction, so that the Scripture may be fulfilled.
Now I am coming to You, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have My joy completed in them.
I have given them Your word.
The world hated them because they are not of the world, as I am not of the world.
I am not praying that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one.
They are not of the world, as I am not of the world.
Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.
As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.
I sanctify Myself for them, so they also may be sanctified by the truth.
I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in Me through their message.
May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You.
May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me.
I have given them the glory You have given Me. May they be one as We are one.
I am in them and You are in Me.
May they be made completely one,
so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.
Father, I desire those You have given Me to be with Me where I am.
Then they will see My glory,
which You have given Me because You loved Me before the world’s foundation.
Righteous Father! The world has not known You.
However, I have known You, and these have known that You sent Me.
I made Your name known to them and will make it known,
so the love You have loved Me with may be in them and I may be in them.
- John 17, HCSB
Trevin Wax

Friday, June 10, 2011

Church Growth


How Not to Grow a Healthy Church

How do you grow a church?
A couple of days ago I was speaking with a pastor who had a man in his congregation who wanted to plant a motorcyclists’ church. The idea was that all those leathered-up, Willie Nelson-looking dudes who roam the nation’s interstates like motorized buffalo are turned off by the chorus-singing, khaki-wearing assemblies. Some of these riders even call themselves Christians but prefer to “worship God on their bikes.” How do we reach those guys and their non-Christian counterparts? Answer: with a motorcyclists’ church. The pastor wanted to know how to respond.
My counsel: tell him that it will work. His motorcyclists’ church will attract motorcyclists.
I said more than that, but let’s start with why I said this much. Beauty attracts. Humor attracts. A hipster’s couture attracts. If you’re a motorcyclist, a line of low riders parked out front attracts. This is the way of the world. Madison Avenue gets it. Hollywood gets it. And for several decades now, church leaders have been getting it.
People have eyes, ears, and the desire to feel good about themselves. Figure out what bolsters their self-image or satisfies a felt need, and you have an easy recipe for drawing a crowd. For growing a church.
So point one: it will work. But another point followed: you will likely have a shallow and unhealthy church.
Yes, we must seek to understand our cultures in order to communicate well and remove barriers to the gospel. That’s biblical. But that’s not the same thing as relying on the power of niche marketing. A number of individuals will join for the motorcycle culture and stay for the motorcycle culture. Maybe they’ll get baptized and call themselves Christians. Maybe they will clean up their acts a bit. But it won’t have been the Spirit and the Word doing the work; it will have been the sociological powers of attraction. After several years their lives will begin to show it, and they’ll drift away. Only now they will be inoculated against the real gospel.
Others will really get saved. Praise God! But since they’ve been drawn in and kept through the power of culture, not through the power of Word and Spirit, their growth will remain stunted. Their lives, too, will soon show it.

Well-Meaning Drift

Friends, am I just carping? I hope not. Please hear my heart. I look around evangelical America and see well-meaning people drift in and out of churches, attracted by one well-meaning church leader after another. They remind me of Paul’s words about spiritual infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. I trust you see this, too.
It doesn’t have to be like this. We could have healthy churches, churches filled with new converts and old saints, motorcyclists and motor-homers alike. These churches might not grow as quickly, but they will grow for the long-haul, like redwoods not rosebushes. Which would you prefer—a bush that blooms tomorrow and wilts the next day, or the majesty that rises skyward over a generation? Take your pick.
Just about every church leader and Christian I know would affirm the doctrine of the sufficiency of God’s Word. But this is an easy box to check in the morning and forget in the afternoon, particularly when you’re sitting in Tuesday’s church staff meeting making decisions about next Sunday. One of the legacies of Mark Dever in my life is the lesson that growing as both a Christian and as a pastor means growing continually in my understanding of the Bible’s sufficiency and power. Believing in this is a faith proposition that needs feeding and nurturing, just like a belief in God and the gospel.
This is especially important for church leaders, who are going to build their congregations on one thing or another. Your beliefs about the Bible are not a box to check. The faithful pastors whom many of us admire are the men who, over the years, grow and growand grow in knowing the Bible’s power.
Here were my concluding words for this pastor: Tell this man to plant his church, and tell him to be himself. Wear leather. Expose the tattoos. Park his hog in the space with the little “Pastor” sign. Whatever. But be excited about Jesus and his Word. Don’t stop talking about the Bible and the gospel. Grab the hand of everyone who walks through the door of your church, smile at them, and tell them how amazing Jesus is. Who cares what they’re wearing or how they drove there. Let them know that you would drive your bike into the lake if that’s what it took to hear what Jesus had to say. His words are that precious and powerful. Build your church on him and the power of his mighty words.
Gospel Coalition 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Will you be a Trader?

Paul's heart

The Tears of a Pastor-Missionary-Theologian

“You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews. . . . Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears” (Acts 20:18-1931).
“For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you” (2 Cor. 2:4).
“For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ” (Phil. 3:18).
(Justin Taylor)