Thursday, July 31, 2008

Why Psychologists Aren't Hired As Lifeguards

Pragmatism: Trend or Trap?

I have witnessed the birth and growth of menacing trends within the church, several of which have converged under what I would call evangelical pragmatism — an approach to ministry that is endemic in contemporary Christianity.

What is pragmatism? Basically it is a philosophy that says that results determine meaning, truth, and value — what will work becomes a more important question than what is true. As Christians, we are called to trust what the Lord says, preach that message to others, and leave the results to Him. But many have set that aside. Seeking relevancy and success, they have welcomed the pragmatic approach and have received the proverbial Trojan horse.

He then overviews:

Recent History

The Down-Grade Controversy

The Effects of Pragmatism

First, there is in vogue today a trend to make the basis of faith something other than God’s Word.

Second, evangelical pragmatism tends to move the focus of faith away from God’s Son.

Third, today’s Christianity is infected with a tendency to view the result of faith as something less than God’s standard of holy living.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

20 Fallacies By Evolutionists, Part 1 of 5 (Mike Riddle)

Mike Riddle explains 20 ways evolutionists use to create an illusion that their faith is a fact. School students are exposed to these techniques everyday, while sitting in their science classrooms, listening to so called "facts" without substance. If students were a manufactured product, the schools would be sued for product liability.

The First Church of Second Life

Angie Ward @ asks the question: What is the role of Real Christianity in a Virtual World. Some of her observations:

There is another life beyond this one: a realm where one’s role on earth is a distant memory, where inhabitants have new bodies and can fly anywhere they like. It sounds a bit like heaven. But it’s not. It’s cyberspace.

What is "Second Life"

Second Life is—well, for the uninitiated, it is hard to explain. Some call it a game, but in reality it is ultimate virtuality: a virtual, 3D, online world that is continually created and updated by its residents. Originally introduced to the public in 2003 by the company Linden Lab, Second Life now boasts over a million members from around the world.

These members, 50,000 or more of whom are online and “in-world” at any given time, create their own names and “avatars” (virtual identities with infinite combinations of customizable human and nonhuman “looks”) that can own merchandise and property (bought with real U.S. dollars) and interact with any anyone else in-world via Second Life chat or instant messenger. Residents can walk, fly, or teleport to various destinations, including lush beaches, raucous dance clubs, trendy restaurants, seedy strip joints, bustling malls—and churches.

As of this writing, there were around 100 churches listed in Second Life. Some were obviously created as a joke (The Church of Apathy), but dozens of others advertise legitimate doctrine, membership, and church functions. But why would anyone start a church in a place that isn’t real?

The Problem:

Because, for many of its residents, Second Life is real; more real—to them, at least—than their real-world existences. Some members spend entire days in-world at one time; they make friends, go to school, party, play, and sometimes even derive more income from their virtual enterprises than from their real-world ones. This is either cause for great alarm, or great opportunity for ministry.

How one Second Life Church started:

Second Life resident “Emmanuel Hallard” believes the latter, and started the Christian Church of Second Life two and half years ago. “I felt that Jesus’ saying, ‘Go into all the world’ included Second Life,” explained Hallard, who in his “First Life” is Lee Wilson, a minister, author, and actor who works for the Family Dynamics Institute, a nonprofit marriage and family ministry located outside of Nashville.

Wilson/Hallard chose his Second Life first name, Emmanuel, because it means “God with us.” “When I first joined Second Life I wanted that message to go with me—that God is everywhere,” he said. “We can’t hide from Him in the dark, in a voting booth, or in a virtual world.” The Nashville minister says he spends around 10 hours per week in Second Life, communicating with his church’s 1,000 members, developing the church “property,” leading Bible discussions, talking with church visitors, and exploring new areas of the world. The church also has a donation box and accepts gifts that go toward the purchase of new property and the Second Life land ownership fee of $30 per month.


Other Second Life churches function in a similar manner, offering Bible studies and discussion groups. Some hold special events based on the liturgical calendar, such as Easter gatherings and special prayer services.

The Problem:

“Second Life in general lets you experience freedom you might not have in your everyday life,” explained Wilson/Hallard.

And the freedom to be and do anything you want in-world is a two-edged sword. “Slappy Yering,” another Christian who has spent significant time in Second Life, has observed the darker side of this freedom.

Yering, a church planter and telecom employee in his First Life, used to spend 8 to 16 hours per week in Second Life. He originally joined to get closer to a couple in his church that was very quiet in real life, but spent a lot of time in-world. “In the game they were just crazy,” Yering explained. “The couple worked at a virtual strip club. He was a DJ and she was a dancer, and they owned a house in-world. Most of the time I was there, we were talking about life. I was a counselor to these people who had trouble dealing with each other in the real world.

“It was kind of a fun thing,” Yering continued “You could be whoever you wanted and do whatever you wanted—no responsibility, because it’s just a game. But that’s the dangerous part. It crossed a line. The couple eventually divorced. They should really have never been married in the first place, but the game accelerated their downfall.”

What's the verdict:

So, what is Second Life? A colossal time waster, a harmless (albeit elaborate) diversion, or evil escapism? From my own experience, the Second Life world is difficult to learn, yet potentially addicting. The virtual world is completely unreal, yet totally real at the same time. Dangers lurk, yet opportunities abound. What is the appropriate approach for a Christian? On the one hand, Scripture warns us of spending time in futile pursuits; on the other, we are to spread the Gospel to the unreached, using whatever means possible.

For a brief glimpse of a Second Life church experience, check out this video, produced by Craig Groeschel's

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

God Glorifying Speech


Stephen Altrogge @ gives some wise counsel for God-glorifying speech.

From C.J. Mahaney in his book Humility:

A lot of language is flowing out of our mouths every day and having an impact on those around us. But how much of that flow is fulfilling God’s intended purpose for our speech?

Ephesians 4:29 says: Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

God-glorifying speech does several things:

  • It builds others up.
  • It’s appropriate for the occasion.
  • It gives grace.

As C.J. says:

Through each and every interaction, however casual, however brief, I want to impart grace through my words, for that’s God’s purpose in granting us this gift of speech.

Words of Life or Death

How Sin Affects Words

God Cares About our Words

Owning Our Words

The 20th century’s butcher’s bill

From the CIRCE conference & Gene Edward Veith @, from a talk by think-tank veteran Barbara Elliott:

From 1901-1987, various governments took 207,500,000 lives.

The number of people killed by their own governments was approximately 169,000,000.

The Soviet Union killed 62,000,000. (Stalin alone: 42,000,000)

Communist China: 35,000,000.

Nazi Germany: 21,000,000

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sermon Outline: “God is Eternal” . Isaiah 40:27-31

1) The Wonder of the Eternal God Declared (Isaiah 40:27)

2) The Renown of the Eternal God Delineated (Isaiah 40:28)

Psalm 121:3-4

Romans 11:33

3) The Blessings of the Eternal God Displayed (Isaiah 40:29-31)

2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Isaiah 8:17

Psalm 37:5

Exodus 19:4

Psalm 103:1-5

Being a Constant Worshiper

Joel Harris @ outlines important elements of worship for youth. He begins with a quote from John Piper:

“Worship - whether an inner act of the heart, or an outward act of the body, or of the congregation collectively - is a magnifying of God. That is, it is an act that shows how magnificent He is. It is an act that reveals or expresses how great and glorious He is. Worship is all about consciously reflecting the worth or value of God.” - John Piper, Desiring God Ministries

He then explains his approach:

From the beginning, worship has been an important aspect of the Rebelution. In the broadest sense, since everything we do as Christians is worship, all the hard things, both big and small, should be attempted for God’s glory. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

But in the more narrow sense, Rebelutionaries, including the Harris family, have always been passionate about singing God’s praise. We love worship as it’s defined by the Psalmist, “Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!” (Psalm 96:2-3)

He cautions and explains the dangers of:

  • Low Expectations in Worship

In the book Worship Matters, Bob Kauflin writes that:

“each of us has a battle raging within us over what we love most — God or something else.” He’s right. Worship is crucial, because every day there is a battle raging for our hearts. The enemy wants us to find our joy in the pleasures of sin and the distractions of this world. It’s vital that we fight back, for God makes it clear in His Word that if He doesn’t have our hearts, our outward service is wasted energy (Matthew 15:8-9).


We must fight for joy in God using the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. One way we do that is through songs which drive biblical truth deep into our hearts, so we can draw upon it in the midst of the fray. If the words are faithful and God-centered, they will provide fuel for our faith. And if the music is skillfully crafted, it will move our souls and ignite new passion for the cause.

He concludes by giving a few challenges::

1. Sing.

2. Expand your music-listening horizons.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Paul Tripp: What Makes Bad Language Bad?

WARNING: Specific language is used that is offensive to teach particular truths.

Desiring God 2008 National Conference Speaker Interview: Paul Tripp

What Did Calvary Look Like? An Interview with Leen Ritmeyer

Justin Taylor @ gives some background on the forthcoming ESV Study Bible
The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ was crucified on a Friday after Passover (probably in April of 33 A.D.) at “Golgotha” (Aramaic for “Place of a Skull”; the Latin Vulgate translated it as “Calvary”). After he died, his body was wrapped in linen clothes and placed in Joseph of Arimathea’s newly hewn tomb, located in a garden.
We brought together the best people we could find to help us reconstruct what Golgotha and the tomb would have looked like. So we employed the skills of archaeological architect Leen Ritmeyer, widely considered the world’s leading authority on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. Dr. Ritmeyer was the chief architect of the Temple Mount Excavations which took place in Jerusalem after the Six-Day War. He served in a similar capacity in the Jewish Quarter Excavations and also in the City of David Excavations, producing important reconstruction drawings for all of them and for many other sites in Israel and Bible Lands.
Below is our reconstruction of Golgotha, which can be seen in the foreground, with the massive Temple Mount in the background. The viewpoint of the drawing is from the northwest. (Click the picture to enlarge it to full size.)

He asks:

Let’s start with the internal evidence for Golgotha; what do we know about the location from the biblical evidence alone?
Here is a picture of the exposed top of Calvary:

When was the site of the Holy Sepulcher built, and when was it first identified with the location of Golgotha?

What can you see today of Golgotha within the church?

Most of the rock remains are hidden behind and under the different chapels in the church. However, below the altar in the Greek Orthodox chapel there is a hole through which one can touch the rock. The rest of the rock can also be seen below a glass cover, see picture below:

In 1883 General Charles Gordon argued that the real Golgotha was located to the north of the Old City of Jerusalem in the Garden Tomb. Why do most archaeologists today reject that location as the place where Jesus was crucified and buried?

In the ESVSB painting one can see the Western Wall of the Temple Mount. Where exactly is the so-called Wailing Wall where many Jews have prayed and worshiped over the last 700 years?

The red outline below is the approximate location of the “Wailing Wall” on the drawing:

How many years have you spent working on the Temple Mount reconstructions? What degree of confidence do you have that what we see today in these drawings is what it looked like then?

Despite decades of work on the Temple Mount, you had never before drawn it from the northwest, showing it in relation to Golgotha. Why not?

It’s probably the combination of lack of knowledge plus the result of seeing too many popular films on the life of Christ, but the mental image I always had was a hill far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. But according to the ESV Study Bible depiction, when Jesus was talking to the thief on his left, he would have seen the massive Herodian Temple in the background. As he looked out at his beloved friend John and his mother Mary he would have seen the Hasmonean Palace and Herod’s Palace in the distance behind them, where he had stood the night before in front of Herod and Pilate. From the cross he could perhaps have seen the tomb into which his dead body would soon be laid. It changes the entire setting, doesn’t it?

Any thoughts on the final result of the Golgotha painting rendered by Maltings?

the Tomb of Jesus. Our drawing is below (click image to enlarge to full size):

After it was confirmed that Jesus was dead, the Bible tells us that his body was taken to a garden and laid in Joseph of Arimathea’s newly hewn tomb (Matt. 27:60; Luke 23:53; John 19:41). Why is that important information for archaeologists?

Other reconstructions of Jesus’ tomb show burial niches carved into the wall. Why are these lacking in the ESV Study Bible illustration?

Within the tomb where did they probably place Jesus' body?

How big would such a rock have been?

How big would have been the entrance to the tomb?

Thanks, Dr. Ritmeyer, for taking the time to do this interview, and for the countless hours you invested in this project. Any final thoughts?

Myths Christians Believe About Wealth and Poverty

Justin Taylor @ profiles Jay W. Richards (Ph.D. in philosophy and theology from Princeton) on his forthcoming HarperOne book in 2009: Money, Guilt and God: A Christian Case for Capitalism.

At the recent Acton University 2008 Dr. Richards gave a lectured entitled, Don’t Just Care – Think: Myths Christians Believe About Wealth and Poverty, based on his forthcoming book. Dr. Richards granted permission for me to reprint here his outline/handout:
For Christians, compassion for the poor is a non-negotiable. Compassion alone, however, doesn’t help the poor. In fact, many ideas that Christian leaders advocate really exacerbate the very problems they were intended to solve. So how do we insure that we not only mean well, but also do good? We have to learn to think economically about wealth and poverty.

Don’t worry. At its base, economics isn’t supply/demand charts and complicated math. Rather, the “art of economics,” as Henry Hazlitt puts it, “consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.”

One way to do this is to learn to recognize eight simple myths that many well meaning Christians believe when they think about wealth and poverty.
  1. The nirvana myth (contrasting capitalism with an unrealizable ideal rather than with its live alternatives)
  2. The zero-sum game myth (believing that wealth gained in one place always means that wealth was lost someplace else)
  3. The materialist myth (believing that intellect cannot create new wealth)
  4. The greed myth (believing that the essence of capitalism is greed)
  5. The usury myth (believing that charging interest on money is always exploitive)
  6. The piety myth (focusing on our good intentions rather than the unintended consequences of our actions)
  7. The artsy myth (confusing aesthetic judgments with economic arguments)
  8. The freeze frame myth (believing that things always stay the same—for example, assuming population trends will continue indefinitely or treating “rich” and “poor” as static
  9. categories)
Each of these mistakes is easy to expose in the abstract, but easy to forget in practice. Remember them, however, and you’ll be immunized against a lot of economic falderal, even if you never take a course on economics, and you’ll begin to appreciate the value of a free market economy for creating wealth. Finally, and most importantly, you’ll be much more likely to advocate policies that not only have good purposes, but also good results.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

We all need Biblical Literacy

Woodrow Kroll on Biblical Illiteracy reviews a conference featuring Dr. Woodrow Kroll. He notes that:

Kroll preached a challenging message on the issue of biblical illiteracy. He stated some statistical research from Barna, Gallup, and the research arm of Back to the Bible which reveals that people are ignorant of the Bible. This problem is not confined to the general culture. Rather, the evidence suggests that it is a problem among evangelical church-goers as well. This problem has resulted in a lack of discernment which Dr. Kroll from Back to the Bible. Dr. described as a failure to find "true north" on spiritual matters.
Dr. Kroll stated seven problems resulting from biblical illiteracy:

1) It has caused moral apathy among Christians.
2) It has robbed us of answers to the key questions of life.
3) It has hastened the dumbing down of the church.
4) It creates a lack of intimacy with God.
5) It decreases the value of Christianity among other religions.
6) It diminishes the urgency for evangelism.
7) It hampers our ability to find true north spiritually.

Dr. Kroll went on to suggest seven things each person can do to recover spiritual "true north."

1) Read the Bible to be transformed not just informed.
2) Read the Bible to metabolize it.
3) Read the Bible by tithing your time to God.
4) Read the Bible for God's purpose not yours.
5) Read your Bible and chart your spiritual growth.
6) Read your Bible and make it personal.
7) Read your Bible and make a covenant with God to do it.

Research done by Back to the Bible showed that a person who engages with Scripture at least four times per week shows a marked difference in their lifestyle. His message was a good reminder that the church will always be spiritually anemic and even inept without regular engagement with God's Word.

A Work of the Spirit

A True Work (Part 1)From John MacArthur @

How can a true work of the Holy Spirit be distinguished from a false one?

From a careful study of 1 John 4, the great theologian and pastor Jonathan Edwards was able to identify five distinguishing characteristics of the Holy Spirit’s work. In short, a true work of the Holy Spirit: (1) Exalts the true Christ, (2) Opposes Satan’s interests, (3) Points people to the Scriptures, (4) Elevates truth, and (5) Results in love for God and others.

The following material is condensed, adapted and excerpted from Jonathan Edwards’s The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God.

1) It Exalts the True Christ.A True Work (Part 2)

“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.” (John 4:2-3)

2) It Opposes Satan’s Interests

“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them.” (1 John 4:4-5)

A True Work (Part 3)3) It Points People to the Scriptures

“We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” (1 John 4:6)A True Work (Part 4)

4) It Elevates Truth

“We know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (v. 6).

A True Work (Part 5)

5) It Results in Love for God and Others

“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” [v. 8].


These marks that the apostle has given us are sufficient to stand alone and support themselves. They plainly show the finger of God and are sufficient to outweigh a thousand such little objections as many make from oddities, irregularities, errors in conduct, and the delusions and scandals of some professors. But here some may object. After all, the apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:13-14, “Such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”

To which I answer that this can be no objection against the sufficiency of these marks to distinguish the true from the false spirit in those false apostles and prophets — even when the devil is transformed into an angel of light. After all, the very reason the apostle John gave these marks was so that we could test the spirits. Therefore try the spirits by these rules and you will be able to distinguish the true spirit from the false — even under such a crafty disguise.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The "Seeker"-Sensitive "Gospel" Leads Men Straight to Hell

"Ah, we're just reaching the culture... Don't be so legalistic!" - It's the cry from those who believe that being conformed to the world instead of being transformed by the renewing of our mind actually helps God.

Many of the proponents of "seeker" friendly mentality hold this issue to be a little matter of dispute between those who hold to sound doctrine and those who would rather tickle ears for a season than have men's souls saved for eternity. The apostle Paul, himself, disagreed with these people, though. He said if anyone including angels from Heaven presents any other Gospel than the one you've initially received from the apostles of God and Jesus Christ, let him be anathema (the strongest curse one could give)! Mark Kielar explains why the message will never be able to cater to unbelief because the very message of the Gospel is "Repent AND Believe."
(Part of the series "How God Converts the Human Soul")

What Is Baptism, and How Important Is It?

Colossians 2:8-15

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

John Piper@ is on part 2 of a 3-part series on baptism and church membership and this Week he deals with "What Is Baptism, and How Important Is It?"

Baptism is:

  1. a command of Jesus,
  2. that expresses union with him,
  3. by immersion in water,
  4. in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit,
  5. for believers only.
He notes:
A sense of the continuity of the old and new covenants leads some people to baptize infants. But the argument for infant baptism doesn't work textually or covenantally.

Textually, the apostle Paul makes plain that baptism is for those who have been raised with Jesus through faith (Col. 2:12) and are sons of God through faith (Gal. 3:26–27). Baptism is not for those who don't have faith in Jesus—whether adult unbelievers or infants.

Covenantally, while the old-covenant sign of circumcision was administered to males after their physical birth into the national people of God, the new-covenant sign of baptism is to be administered to both males and females after their spiritual birth into the international people of God. New birth by the gospel now provides entrance into the people of God, not physical birth, and is marked by believer baptism, not circumcision.
for the full version see

Baptism & Obedience

Excerpts of J. L. Reynolds book The Kingdom of Christ which has been reprinted in Mark Dever's outstanding book Polity: A Collection of Historic Baptist Documents.

Baptism is an Initiatory Act of Obedience

Baptism has been placed, by Christ, at the beginning of all the outward duties which he requires of his followers. It is, therefore, an initiatory service. But all agree that, as in the case of the Ethiopian Eunuch, baptism does not introduce to membership in a particular church; and it is clear that an individual must be a member of Christ’s spiritual body, before baptism, or any other duty, can be acceptably performed. "Without me ye can do nothing." [from Chapter III . The Church of Christ, emphasis mine]

Baptism is not, like the Lord’s supper, a social rite. It signifies the fellowship of the individual believer with Christ, not the fellowship of believers with one another. The obligation to be baptized is independent of the obligation to form social relations with other disciples, and is prior. Baptism, is, therefore, a qualification for admission into a Church of external organization; but it does not confer membership. [from Chapter III . The Church of Christ, emphasis mine]

Thus the Church Must Be Only Baptized Believers

The New Testament contains traces of only two Christian ordinances. These are Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Of the two, the latter alone is strictly a Church ordinance. A Church is composed of baptized believers. Baptism is indispensable to their admission into it, but it does not make them Church members. [from Chapter XIV. Baptism, emphasis mine]

Thus Baptism is a Prerequisite for Lord’s Supper

The Lord’s Supper is a social ordinance, and is celebrated by a church in its distinctive character, as a body of baptized believers. Whatever, therefore, determines the conditions of membership, defines also the terms of communion. That baptism is prior to the supper, in the order of their observance, and, therefore, that only the baptized have a right to commune, is so unquestionably the teaching of the Word of God, and was so manifestly the practice of the primitive churches, that we are not surprised at the almost universal agreement of Christians on this point. The splendor of a great name may, for a time, give prominence to the opposite error, which inverts the order of the rites; and a spurious charity may plead for its adoption; but the subject is too plain to admit of much diversity of sentiment or practice. It has, indeed, scarcely ever been deemed worthy of a labored discussion. All the professed followers of the Redeemer, in all ages, with the exception of a very small minority, have concurred in the opinion that the Scriptures make Baptism an indispensable prerequisite to the Lord’s Supper. [1 Cor 12: 13; Eph 4: 5; 6: 18; Jno. 17: 20–26; Rom 16: 1, 2 ; 3 Jno. 8–10 ; Acts 15.] [from Chapter XV. The Lord’s Supper, emphasis mine]

[Baptist] hold that nothing but the immersion of a believer is baptism; but as they maintain, in common with other denominations, that baptism must precede communion, they cannot receive any one who has not been immersed. It is perfectly clear, therefore, that the only question at issue between them, and the others, is as to what constitutes baptism... To receive unimmersed persons to their communion, would amount not only to a virtual renunciation of their own views of baptism, but an abandonment of the fundamental law of communion, in the churches of Christ in general. [Acts 11 : 22–27; 15 : 22–27; 18: 27; Eph 6 : 21; 1 Cor 16 : 15–18.] [from Chapter XV. The Lord’s Supper]

Skills and Bills: Working with Churches & Contractors

Brad Abare @ discusses a recent comment about churches paying their bills. He laments:

I've been ripped off and taken advantage of more than I care to even remember when it comes to "working for the Lord." Although it's easy to slip into bitterness-mode, I've always found more harm than help doing that.
He list a few suggestions that can help you--whether you're paying or being paid.

  • Do your homework.
  • Write it down.
  • Communicate changes.
  • Agree to a deposit.
  • Pay your bills on time or earlier.
  • Part purposefully.

Layman's guide to the key drivers of the 21st century church

Seven Solas of the Modern Church

Scott Brown @ lists the Seven Solas of the Modern Church.

1. Sola Cultura - let culture define church life
2. Sola Successa - let numerical success legitimize activities
3. Sola Entertaina - let entertainment be the guiding principle
4. Sola Edificia - let the edifice be the center of church life
5. Sola Programma - let programs dominate the peoples time
6. Sola Thralldoma – let the people be enslaved by whatever thrills them
7. Sola Processa – let the church be managed by business philosophies and processes

Contrast these with The Five Solas of the Protestant Reformation.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sermon Outline: Psalm 139:13-18 “God is Omnipotent”

Revelation 19:6

Jeremiah 32:17

Psalm 115:3

1) God Creates and arranges our bodies within the womb (139:13–15)

Job 10:8-12

Romans 9:20

Psalm 111:2

Colossians 1:16-17

Hebrews 1:3a

2) God schedules each day of our lives before we are born (139:16).
Ephesians 2:10

Jeremiah 1:5

Galatians 1:15

3) God thinks wonderful and innumerable thoughts about us constantly
(Psalm 139:17–18).

Psalm 40:5

Psalm 139:19-24

Friday, July 18, 2008



Dr. John MacArthur jr. from Grace to You on the Charismatic Movement.



The Emerging Church: The New Worldly Church

Doug Brown @ has reprinted an article from The Faith Pulpit (May-June 2008), a publication of Faith Baptist Theological Seminary (Ankeny, IA).
He begins:

The emerging church (or emergent church) is an elusive movement.1 Attempting to understand and explain the emerging church is admittedly difficult. However, the movement is impacting the church today and needs our attention. This article will give an overview of the emerging church and offer some basic critiques.
His article defines:

What Is the Emerging Church?emergent_box.gif

Eddie Gibbs and Ryan K. Bolger offer this nuanced definition:

Emerging churches are communities that practice the way of Jesus within postmodern cultures. This definition encompasses nine practices. Emerging churches (1) identify with the life of Jesus, (2) transform the secular realm, and (3) live highly communal lives. Because of these three activities, they (4) welcome the stranger, (5) serve with generosity, (6) participate as producers, (7) create as created beings, (8) lead as a body, and (9) take part in spiritual activities.3

Emergent leaders intend to minister “as” postmoderns. Individuals such as Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Marcus Borg, and Rob Bell fit here.

How Did the Emerging Church Emerge?

What Are Emerging Churches Like?

How Should We Evaluate the Emerging Church?

Without claiming mastery of the emerging church, he offers two critiques:

  • Relevancy to culture

"many in emerging circles seem to have “thrown the baby out with the bath water” when it comes to the gospel. In 1 Corinthians 9:19–27 Paul explained the need for relevancy and contextualization to those whom he ministered. Yet he knew that the preaching of the cross was a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles (1 Cor. 1:18–25). Paul never changed his message to somehow “click” with the current crowd. He realized that the message of the cross brought the aroma of life to some and the aroma of death to others (2 Cor. 2:14–16). In addition, Paul explicitly warned about altering the preaching of God’s Word to accommodate the world’s itching ears (2 Tim. 4:1–5). The emerging church is ultimately worldly because of its uncritical embrace of postmodern culture".

  • Hermeneutics

Where Do We Go from Here?

"My biggest concern is with the next generation in our churches. Are we preparing our young people with the Biblical worldview and epistemological grounding to handle the postmodern abyss? Parents and pastors need to disciple and equip their youth so that they can face this new threat. Postmodernity will continue to present new sets of questions and problems for our young people to navigate. The question is whether we are meeting this challenge".

Leaving a Legacy for the Next Generation

Doug Smith @ has an interesting post on the Foundations of Spiritual Parenting. He starts with the Shemah:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is smith_shelter.jpgone! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
—Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NKJV)

From this he covers:

The Priority: Relationship: v.5-6

The Process: Repetition: v. 7

He concludes with:

When all that generation [the one that had heard God’s Word through Moses] had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel . . . and they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods . . . and they provoked the LORD to anger.” (Judg. 2:10, 12 NKJV)

Get Service

This video was shown at the Lutheran Church Canada convention. Recall that the purpose of every vocation is to love and serve not so much God in isolation but, as He commands, your neighbor. (Luther: “God doesn’t need your good works; but your neighbor does.”)

John Piper: 15 Things I Have Learned from My Father

John Piper @ tells of a recent find:

Since my father died, I have been looking through his papers. I found a small sheet with the following fifteen counsels, titled "Things I Have Learned." He didn't make most of these up. Some of them go back to his college days when he was absorbing the pithy wisdom of Bob Jones Senior. They have again confirmed the obvious: I owe my father more than I can ever remember.
Things I Have Learned

1. The right road always leads to the right place; therefore, get on the right road and go as far as you can on it.

2. There is only one thing to do about anything; that is the right thing. Do right.

3. Happiness is not found by looking for it. You stumble over happiness on the road to duty.

4. The door to success swings on the hinges of opposition.

5. God in the right place in my life fixes every other relationship of life (Matthew 6:33).

6. It is never right to get the right thing in the wrong way -- like good grades, wealth, power, position. Don't sacrifice your principles.

7. It is a sin to do less than your best. It is wrong to do [merely] well.

8. It is wrong to be yoked to one who refuses the yoke of Christ.

9. The part of your character that is deficient is the part that needs attention.

10. Don't quit. Finish the job. God can't use a quitter.

11. Anything you do that hinders your progress for God is wrong.

12. Beware of any society in which you feel compelled to put a bushel over your testimony.

13. It isn't enough to be good. Be good for something. The essence of Christianity is not a passionless purity.

14. Positive living produces negative effect[merely].

15. Learn to be sweetly firm.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Performing Chalk Artist

The Feasts of the Lord - God's Daytimer

Reforming Baptist @ has an interesting post on the Feasts. Although I disagree with his summation of the debate between Israel & the Church, he makes some interesting observations including:
You can find the ceremonial laws in Leviticus 23-25. But first, it is important to note an often overlooked verse in Genesis 1:14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons (moed), and for days, and years.
He covers:

The Spring Feasts

A.. Feast of Passover
Leviticus 23:1-22 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts (moed) of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts. 3 Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings. 4 These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons. 5 In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD'S Passover.

i. Jesus Cleanses the Temple of Leaven
Exodus 12:19 Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land.

Matthew 21:12-13 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

ii. Jesus sings a hymn of his own crucifixion
Matthew 26:30 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.

Psalm 118:21-27 I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation. 22 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. 23 This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. 24 This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. 25 Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. 26 Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD. 27 God is the LORD, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.

iii. Jesus died on the Passover
John 18:39-40 But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews? 40 Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.

b. Feast of Unleavened Bread
6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. 7 In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. 8 But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.
Acts 2:27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

c. Feast of First fruits
10 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: (barley harvest) 11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. 12 And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the LORD. 13 And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto the LORD for a sweet savour: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin. 14 And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

Matthew 28:1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre….Matthew 28:6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

1 Corinthians 15:20-23 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.

d. Feast of Weeks (Pentecost -Harvest of Grain aka Shavuot)

15 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: 16 Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD.

i. The First Pentecost – the giving of the law (Israel is born)
Exodus 32:15-16 And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written. 16 And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.

Three Thousand were killed
Exodus 32:26-28 26 Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD'S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. 27 And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour. 28 And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.

The Last Pentecost
Acts 2:1-4 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Three Thousand are Saved (a great harvest)
Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

The Fall Feasts – (Harvest of Grapes and other fruits)
Revelation 14:15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
Revelation 14:18 And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.
Joel 3:12-13 Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. 13 Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great.

e. The Feast of Trumpets -
Leviticus 23:23-25 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 24 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. 25 Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

Numbers 29:1And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing (yom) the trumpets (toruah) unto you.

Psalm 47:5 God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet. (Shofar)
Psalm 89:15 Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound (shofar): they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance.

Zephaniah 1:14-16 The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. 15 That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, 16 A day of the trumpet (shofar) and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers.

Daniel 12:1-2 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Isaiah 26:19 Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
Matthew 24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
Matthew 25:13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

f. Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)
i. The First Atonement
Exodus 34:29 29 And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.

ii. The Annual Celebration
Leviticus 23:26-32 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 27 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

Leviticus 25:8-9 And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years. 9 Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.

Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,

iii. Day of Atonement involves Removal of Sin

Daniel 9:24 24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

iv. Robes of White represent Atonement
Revelation 19:13-15 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

g. Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) – rejoicing
Exodus 35:21 And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the LORD'S offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments.

Leviticus 23:33-44 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 34 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD. 35 On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. .....I am the LORD your God. 44 And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the feasts of the LORD.

Deuteronomy 31:10-12 And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, 11 When all Israel is come to appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. 12 Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:

Micah 4:1-2 But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. 2 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Zechariah 14:17-21 And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. 18 And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. 19 This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. 20 In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the LORD'S house shall be like the bowls before the altar. 21 Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the LORD of hosts:

See also:

The Echo and the Insufficiency of Hell

You can now listen to John Piper's first message at Resolved.

He spoke about hell, beginning with 5 things we need to believe about it:

  1. It is eternal
  2. It involves the suffering of those who are there.
  3. It is conscious suffering.
  4. God inflicts this suffering.
  5. It is righteous.

Then he explained how hell is an echo of God's glory. And finally he made clear that no one can be saved simply by not wanting to go to hell.

There's no manuscript for this message, but you can read the sermon series that this message was based on. It includes much of the same content, including most of the quotes he used.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

If a modern day preacher were Moses

Why ‘The Shack’ Is So Deceptive

The Shack

Stephen Altrogge @ gives an overview of The Shack:

If you haven’t yet heard about the book The Shack, you will. Written by a man named William Young, the book is making all sorts of waves, both in Christian and non-Christian circles. For the last several months it’s been hanging around the best seller charts, and it has people talking about how it has transformed their relationship with God. This weekend I decided to grab a copy of The Shack and see what all the hype was about. After reading the book I came away with two conclusions. I believe that William Young was a well intentioned guy who was trying to help people understand God better, and I don’t doubt that some people have been affected by the book. However, the book is full of blatant heresy and really does misrepresent the God of the Bible.

In the review he covers:

Intimacy vs. Holiness

I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it.

Rules vs. Relationship

The Bible doesn’t teach you to follow rules. It is a picture of Jesus.

Compare this with: 1 John 5:2-3 says:

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

From the summary:

The Bible never drives a wedge between obedience to Jesus and a relationship with Jesus. Psalm 119 is a beautiful testimony to the freedom that comes from obeying the laws of God. Yet the theme of freedom versus rules is repeated over and over again in The Shack.


For an indept review see: Tim Challies.

How Important Is Church Membership?

John Piper @ reviews the elements of his sermon: "How Important Is Church Membership?"which is the first of 3 sermons on baptism and church membership.

He notes:

Church membership is a blood-bought gift of God's grace. So it is no small thing for a Christian to stiff arm church membership—or for a church to stiff arm a born-again believer from membership. Part of what it means to belong to the body of Christ is to belong to a local body, because God intends the local church to be an expression of his universal church.

He outlines how the New Testament gives at least five strands of evidence that a definable, local-church membership is necessary:

  1. The church is to discipline its members.
  2. The reality of excommunication exists.
  3. Christians are required to submit to their leaders.
  4. Leaders are required to care for their people.
  5. The prominent metaphor of the body implies membership.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bob Kauflin - The Importance of Singing Truth

2008 Desiring God National Conference Speaker Interview: Bob Kauflin

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Sermon Outline: “God is Omnipresent” Psalm 139:7-12

God is always with us.

1) In heaven (139:7–8a).

Psalm 51:11

Jeremiah 23:23-24

2) In the place of the dead (139:8).

Amos 9:2

Psalm 23:4

Revelation 14:9-10

3) By the farthest oceans (139:9–10):

1 Kings 8:27

Isaiah 41:10

4) Shining forth in the darkness (139:11–12):

Isaiah 50:10

Friday, July 11, 2008

Christ’s Resurrection Predicted on Ancient Tablet

C Michael Patton @ reports that in Jerusalem, a three-foot-tall tablet with 87 lines of Hebrew that scholars believe dates from the decades just before the birth of Jesus is causing a quiet stir in biblical and archaeological circles, especially because it may speak of a messiah who will rise from the dead after three days.

The controversial part is that if such a messianic description really is there, it will contribute to a developing re-evaluation of both popular and scholarly views of Jesus, since it suggests that the story of his death and resurrection was not unique but part of a recognized Jewish tradition at the time.

The tablet, probably found near the Dead Sea in Jordan according to some scholars who have studied it, is a rare example of a stone with ink writings from that era — in essence, a Dead Sea Scroll on stone.

It is written, not engraved, across two neat columns, similar to columns in a Torah. But the stone is broken, and some of the text is faded, meaning that much of what it says is open to debate.

Still, its authenticity has so far faced no challenge, so its role in helping to understand the roots of Christianity in the devastating political crisis faced by the Jews of the time seems likely to increase.

C Michael Patton further notes that Daniel Boyarin, a professor of Talmudic culture at the University of California at Berkeley, said that the stone was part of a growing body of evidence suggesting that Jesus could be best understood through a close reading of the Jewish history of his day.

“Some Christians will find it shocking — a challenge to the uniqueness of their theology — while others will be comforted by the idea of it being a traditional part of Judaism,” Mr. Boyarin said.

The Easiest Way To Glorify God

tree looking up

Fanny Crosby wrote over 8,000 hymns, including “Praise Him, Praise Him” and “To God be the Glory”.

Before he was 20, Charles Spurgeon had preached over 600 times. He read 6 books per week and could recall what he had read and locate it, even years later. He started a pastors’ college that trained nearly 900 students during his lifetime. He’s estimated to have preached to 10,000,000 people (The Reformed Reader). He answered 500 letters a week.

John Wesley rose at 4 a.m., traveled constantly, usually on horseback, formed societies, commissioned preachers, oversaw charities, and even wrote hymns, including O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.

In light of what seems like impossible service, Mark Altrogge offers this observation:

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me (PS 50.23).

He then notes hoe gratefulness honors the Lord:

  • Thankfulness shows we appreciate God’s costly mercy in saving us.
  • Thankfulness shows we appreciate God’s abundant goodness and generosity.
  • Thankfulness shows what a wonderful Master we serve.

Honoring God in Gray Areas

Making Decisions in Gray AreasJohn MacArthur @ presents a helpful post in regards to 1 Corinthians to help you in deciding what to do. He notes that asking these questions (and others like them) will help you make a wise decision based on sound biblical principles.

1. Will it benefit me spiritually? First Corinthians 10:23

2. Will it put me in bondage? First Corinthians 6:12 says,

3. Will it defile God’s temple? First Corinthians 6:19-20

4. Will it cause others to stumble? First Corinthians 8:8‑9

5. Will it help the cause of evangelism? First Corinthians 10:32-33

6. Will it violate my conscience? First Corinthians 10:25‑29

7. Will it bring glory to God? First Corinthians 10:31

Five Stages of Dealing With Failure


Perhaps you've heard of the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance). Tim Stevens @ shares some observations in regards to dealing with failure.

  • Justify.

Sometimes there are rational reasons for failure, but if you continue to explain it away over time, it begins to look like an excuse rather than a reason. You can justify a week or even an entire season...but it's difficult to justify trends that are happening over time.

  • Question.

When we don't like what the data says, it is so easy to question its' validity. We look deep for one anomaly. We find the one piece where we can cast doubt on the data...thus causing a large shadow over all the findings. Then it makes it easier to say everything is okay. The problem isn't the church, it's the data.

  • Blame.

In our frustration, we blame the people. We might even design messages with a prophetic tone to get them to be better, stronger and more committed. Rather than lead them through the difficulty, we preach them through it.

  • Redefine.

Instead of figuring out why we keep missing the target, we just move the target to the location where our arrows are landing.

  • Lead. At some point, we decide to lead. We stop blaming, questioning, justifying or redefining--and we hunker down and lead through the crisis. We figure out what is wrong and we get on our faces before God, and we begin to fix it. We face the really tough data and talk about the facts of our situation which might be embarrasing or self-condemning. We acknowledge where we are wrong and we get risky and determine to try some stuff to get back on track. We stick our necks out and cancel some stuff that has perceived success, and add some stuff that has no historical track record. We work through the feeling of failure, the muddy conversations and awkward staff meetings. We don't jump ship because the waters are suddenly rocky. No, instead we rally the troops, and we do what leaders do in times of crisis...we lead.