A September 23 Caution

No doubt, everyone should take a moment and consider the rapid increase of natural phenomena and epic cataclysmic natural disasters. Try reading a news report anywhere that doesn’t show pain and suffering is wide spread and the unknown news of war and terror is eminently looming.

What should we do with such news? We should do something. We should pray, repent, prepare to respond with kindness and compassion. But this is for sure, we must especially think biblically and speak carefully.

There are some today warning of September 23, 2017 as a day of major devastation. Is it? Or is it yet another day that will come and go and many will look back on this as yet another reason to not listen to Christians?

I’m asked from time to time about why I don’t speak about end times. I’m willing to look at all things related to the authority of revealed Scripture. Are there things happening today that speak about end days? Sure. But I must give direction to how I’ll talk about things and what I’ll say about things before I say them. (Oh,I wish I could do this all the time in my life.)

I submit a few things I instruct my lips to say or not to say in days like this for consideration:

  • Because we live in the era of the church, look for what pastors are saying. Not just any one who calls themselves a pastor, I’m talking about the kind of pastors that the bible identifies as biblically qualified and are held accountable to a local church. It is a right thing to examine what anyone reporting to be a pastor is saying with what his church says and then does his preaching and church agree with what the bible declares.
  • Stick with what is known. The bible is the only source that can be trusted. Any extra biblical proof texting is dangerous and unreliable. We are people of the Bible. Lean on what is known and in agreement with the bible.
  • Listen to what others are saying and weigh it against the Bible. The only authority that is reliable is the Bible. Stick with the Bible.
  • Humbly read your bible to know how to live in days like this. Do all that you can to live like this.
  • A weather model is not biblical authority.
  • Pray for those in the path of disasters.
  • Don’t forget that God is the active agent in all things. There is no storm path that acts out of the ruling authority of God.
  • Consider the warning of the wrath of God and be found a faithful repenting follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Call on all people everywhere to repent not because of weather or astrological alignment of stars but because of the biblical truth that all men everywhere are called to repentance and turn to Christ for forgiveness. This is our biblical mandate. This is our biblical foundation. Be known as a gospel herald not a date setting guesser.
  • Be disciplined to give attention to the public reading of Scripture. Let God speak to the nations.

I Agree with the Nashville Statement

Earlier this week I joined many pastors around the nation affirming the Nashville Statement.

To say I agree with the Nashville Statement is to say I agree with the Bible. The Nashville statement is what it is. It is a declaration affirming our agreement with the Bible about what God has declared “very good”. As in every day, this is a day where the church must speak truth to the culture. Silence on this matter today would be a sin.

I stand with the signers of the Nashville statement.

The Nashville Statement is a product of the Center for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. This has been a resource of great help to the church for many years.

Read the full statement HERE: https://cbmw.org/nashville-statement/

the preamble:

“Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves…” Psalm 100:3

 

Evangelical Christians at the dawn of the twenty-first century find themselves living in a period of historic transition. As Western culture has become increasingly post-Christian, it has embarked upon a massive revision of what it means to be a human being. By and large the spirit of our age no longer discerns or delights in the beauty of God’s design for human life. Many deny that God created human beings for his glory, and that his good purposes for us include our personal and physical design as male and female. It is common to think that human identity as male and female is not part of God’s beautiful plan, but is, rather, an expression of an individual’s autonomous preferences. The pathway to full and lasting joy through God’s good design for his creatures is thus replaced by the path of shortsighted alternatives that, sooner or later, ruin human life and dishonor God.

This secular spirit of our age presents a great challenge to the Christian church. Will the church of the Lord Jesus Christ lose her biblical conviction, clarity, and courage, and blend into the spirit of the age? Or will she hold fast to the word of life, draw courage from Jesus, and unashamedly proclaim his way as the way of life? Will she maintain her clear, counter-cultural witness to a world that seems bent on ruin?

We are persuaded that faithfulness in our generation means declaring once again the true story of the world and of our place in it—particularly as male and female. Christian Scripture teaches that there is but one God who alone is Creator and Lord of all. To him alone, every person owes glad-hearted thanksgiving, heart-felt praise, and total allegiance. This is the path not only of glorifying God, but of knowing ourselves. To forget our Creator is to forget who we are, for he made us for himself. And we cannot know ourselves truly without truly knowing him who made us. We did not make ourselves. We are not our own. Our true identity, as male and female persons, is given by God. It is not only foolish, but hopeless, to try to make ourselves what God did not create us to be.

We believe that God’s design for his creation and his way of salvation serve to bring him the greatest glory and bring us the greatest good. God’s good plan provides us with the greatest freedom. Jesus said he came that we might have life and have it in overflowing measure. He is for us and not against us. Therefore, in the hope of serving Christ’s church and witnessing publicly to the good purposes of God for human sexuality revealed in Christian Scripture, we offer the following affirmations and denials.

The End of All Things

What keeps us from living like the end is near? Peter told the early church to live knowing that the end of all things is near. “Now the end of all things is near” (1 Peter 4:7).

That’s pretty straight forward isn’t it?

Is it the risk of being labeled a crazy person? is it that we fear what others will think about us? I mean think about it… the list is a long and crazy list of people living like we are in the last days only to later be exposed as a lunatic and/or false teacher. How do we live in “sound judgment and sober spirit” while living with an expectation of the end of all things being near? Don’t you know that Satan loves to use a well meaning person to cause fear to grip God’s people?

I’m discovering that Peter has much to say about how the follower of Christ (as defined by the Bible only) should live. He urges “you as aliens and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you.” I’m less likely to live with an attachment to the things of this earth if my focus is on God. I’ll grow in my anticipation of His return if I’m living more like a sojourner rather than feeling like I have a vested interest in the temporal things of this world.

I’m more likely to live as an ambassador of His kingdom if I live with an expectation like that of the first century believer.

Even though we may be labeled with the “crazy” label, know that it is intended to belittle or criticize. I am resolved to live in that risky position of a label and instead heed the Word of God by living as though the end of all things is near.

The Bible has much to say about the end. God has devoted large portions of His words to prophecy, both fulfilled prophecy and yet-to-be-fulfilled prophecy.

What could a believer do to be more aware of the “end of all things”?

  1. You must read the Bible, pay special attention to Leviticus, Psalms, Daniel, Amos, all of the Gospels, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, Hebrews, Jude, and Revelation.
  2. Your bible most likely has maps in the back; they will help in tremendous ways. I find that a current political map will assist current knowledge, but put it together with biblical maps.
  3. Read what other reliable people are writing, but the Bible owns the authority on the matter.
  4. Talk to others.
  5. Listen to others.
  6. Finally, live in agreement (even if you don’t understand some of the details) that the end of all things is near. That’s what the Bible says.

Determine in your life to live as a temporary resident of this world and abstain from fleshly desires that are at war against you.

_______________________________

This post was originally published in “the Link”, September 2008, a monthly newsletter of Eastside Baptist Church

Reformation – An Ongoing Work

Is there a difference in revival and reformation?

Fundamentally, yes.

Where they feel similar, the work of revival is what God brings and the work of reformation is what God empowers men to do.

500 years ago Martin Luther ignited a movement that we now call the great reformation, but he was not the first, only or even (hopefully not) the last reformer. As I’m preaching through the books of the Kings the historian lays out seasons of both revival and reformation in the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

  • Revival means there is an awakening of people to their spiritual concerns, a return or recovery of a state of neglect. Restoration of life.
  • To reform means to change from worse to better; to amend; to correct; to restore to a former good state. To remove what is bad or corrupt. To abandon that which is evil or corrupt, and return to a good state. To be corrected

One can see there is similarity and even could be misinterpreted for each other. Maybe even fair to do so. But reform is more the activity done by those who have been revived.

Anyone with settled habits or vice will seldom reform. When there are many who don’t want to reform the reformers will be faced with great opposition. If a reformer is not aware of this he may likely give up too early on the reforming work while waiting for the profound work of the Holy Spirit in reviving those who have settled into their habits and vice.

Reforming work is very slow work. Many times the reformers are silenced, removed, ridiculed, mocked, slandered, hunted, etc. It is a blessed sight to see the Holy Spirit move in the hearts of men and women today in many places who are aiming at the same reforming work in the Lord’s church. There is a revival of sorts of expository, biblical preaching in our day. It will require more revived preachers to sustain the reforming work.

Church, we must call out from among our churches more reformers. Reformers equipped and informed of the hardship that is before them.

LORD’s Day Sermon, September 18, 2016

An Inspection of the Foundation

(The first title I had for this post was “Why I’m Not A Republican Even Though I Usually Vote Republican”, but this is more than a political post and it might scare some and even anger others to discover I’m not a -registered- Republican.)

I’m getting ready to make preparations to move my mom to Idaho in May. To do so requires the duty of making sure the home she buys is well built and all things are in order for her when she arrives. The last step in the process is the home inspection. If that is not in good order or at least repairable then it’s a disaster waiting to happen.

Well there are other foundations that need inspection today. In the great land of the free, America, many things appear to be changing quickly. An inspection of the foundation is in order to determine where attention is needed or disaster is waiting to happen, if it’s not too late.

“If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3)

Here are four areas I decided to take a closer look at. I think they are all critical but one is of greatest interest for me.

  1. Activist Judges
  2. Sellout Politicians (mainly Republicans) Two Republican Govenors (Georgia and Utah)
  3. A Castration of the Nation
  4. A Church without a Voice

I’ll start with the easy and move to the more complex and painful but most needed.

Activist Judges: When a judge views the constitution of the United States as a living document they are not being true to their duty. A fair judge has a standard that they are bound to measure the actions against. It is not a duty of a judge to make a law or give way to break a law, they are to judge or make a judgment upon a fixed standard established by the law of the land. They do have a duty to give an interpretation or an opinion but that’s as far as their duty goes. To go further is a breach of duty.

When judges do not do their duty they make way for lawlessness.

O dear God, give us judges that are not afraid to judge against a fixed standard.

Sellout politicians: It is almost cliche. It almost makes being a politician a dishonorable office to hold. It is too bad that the word politician is nearly bankrupt of meaning. This is the primary reason I am not a Republican. The tragedy is obvious and I argue not all politicians are sellouts. I’m sure my deceased Democrat grandfather would argue his political party that sold out to a more progressive worldly platform has become less like they once were.

Nearly every time I write a letter to my governor I become increasingly disappointed with the replies. (Sure, his recent conceal gun law makes him popular but his weakness in regards to the defending an unborn child in the womb makes him more a sellout than a hero.)

Two other politicians (and I don’t mean any of the candidates running for president) are note worthy before I press on.

  1. the Republican governor of Georgia (Governor Deal): His decision this week to veto a law that his state was pressing through legislation will likely be a landmark kind of decision. This was a law that would give protections to pastors to not be required to preform “same-sex” marriages. This is a veto from a Republican, but more striking is that he’s a member of First Baptist Church in Gainesville, Georgia. (A little investigation of FBC Gainesville will tip the reader off that his church is less Baptist and more humanistic, but that’s getting into my final examination.) Just to be clear; I am not the same kind of Baptist as Governor Deal or FBC Gainsville.
  2. the Republican governor of Utah (Governor Herbert): With respect, I’m beside myself with this very pro-life governor. With respect to my friends in Utah, I have been impressed with your governor from afar. Also, with respect, I’m not sure I understand the law completely. But at second glance… I’m perplexed.
    A law passed on March 28, 2016 requiring doctors to give anesthesia to women getting an abortion after the 20 week mark of pregnancy based on research that shows ‘fetus’ pain at this stage. At first, it has the appearance of compassion – then it strikes me as strange; is it compassionate to block the pain of a fetus while murdering it? No! this is a most strange law. Governor Herbert, why not pass a law that protects that unborn child?

Well, I could say more and go further on both of these, but studies show most people don’t read blog posts past the 500 word count point and I’m past the 750 word count right now and two more issues to go.

O dear God, help your people rise up an elect men and women who will not sell out.

The Castration of the Nation: There’s much to say here. First let me say I’m mostly meaning this figuratively, even though I don’t mean to not address the actual mutilation of the body in pursuit of gender confusion. I’ll say less here, but hear the less as only in content not mass.

A nation without gender separation has frankly taken a sledgehammer to the foundation and making fast work at destruction.

To acknowledge male and female as unique and distinctly beautiful is no weak position to take. It is rather to live in agreement that God wonderfully and fearfully made us male and female. A nation that legislates laws or appoints judges who ignore this of nature and nature’s God is foolish and weak.

O dear God, raise up a generation in this land of men and women who respects each other and honors you.

Finally, A Church without a Voice: There is nearly no place to begin or end on this examination. By the grace of God; in this day of activist judges ruling from emotion rather than standard, politicians selling out to money and agenda rather than the principle that gets them elected, and increasing confusion of strength we have in the gender specific creation ordained by God, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ has a most critical role and duty.

It’s not a ruling duty. It’s not an agenda. It’s not limited to men or women. Rather, it is a duty to speak truth; to be a fixed standard, a pillar and buttress of truth. O church, do you not know this? The weight of a nation built on truth must have a church that does her duty.

O dear God, give voice to your church. May she speak forth into this dark day. It is indeed a good day to be the church.

As the day gets darker the need is clear that a light must shine forth.

Not a light that is no light at all, but a lamp; well, like the kind a miner puts on in search of great treasures in the dark parts of the earth. A light that illuminates and reveals. A light that aids and even comforts. A light that warms. A light that attracts.

A light that cause men everywhere to tremble at the beauty of the kindness and severity of God.

What does this nation need? O she doesn’t know it, she doesn’t want to acknowledge it, but she needs a church that will do her duty. Church, if your pillar and buttress is not built on a proper, right, true foundation, you leave the nation at risk. Great risk!

What can the righteous do? Behold (look)! And then tell all of what you find.

  • There is a trustworthy standard to know what you are looking at, the Bible.
  • Don’t sell yourself out for a lesser treasure.
  • Respect and submit to Him who created them male and female.
  • Live in a worthily way in this dark day and speak of this treasure you find to all.

“For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; the upright will behold His face.” (Psalm 11:7)

The Pleasure of Duties

We (followers of Christ) have fixed pleasure and duty as polar opposites.

Somehow the idea of duty, meaning obedience to God, is something that we pursue out of obligation. Obedience to God has come to be known by some professing followers of Christ as a tedious, non-interesting activity.

Somehow the bible has been presented in recent years as a book filled with instructions on how to perform duties. Where it is filled with lists and descriptions of duties and responsibilities of what God wants from his prized creation, it puts us in place to miss that this Bible speaks not only of duty, but it speaks of who God is.

Until we are willing to make reading of the Bible the same standard of our pleasures as we do our instructions of duty we will only see the Bible as something we pick up when we are in trouble.

When is the last time you treated your Bible as an instruction for the pursuit of pleasure? Religion and melancholy are not synonymous terms. Many professing followers of Christ are under the spell that the bible is boring and church is the place where boring is promoted.

We will remain in this wrong thought so long as we think God has nothing to say to us concerning pleasure.

“How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver and her gain better than fin gold. She is more precious than jewels; and nothing you desire compares with her. Long life is in her right hand; in Her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast.” (Proverbs 3:13-18)

It appears clearly in Scripture that we are designed by our Creator to pursue pleasure. Reason then should instruct us that if our Creator designed us to pursue pleasure that He would also give us a lamp to instruct us down “pleasant ways” and to trust that on this pursuit is a peaceful path.

The problem is, we are under a spell and don’t appear to want to be released from it. We can’t seem to quit interpreting pleasure by any other standard than by that which wages war against God’s standard.

There is a joy and peace in believing, “a peace that passes all understanding”, a joy unspeakable and full of glory. It is not wrong to enjoy comforts of earth, they are not incompatible with the pursuit of eternal salvation in heaven.

The thing is, we aren’t reading our Bibles properly.

We were created to pleasantly walk with God. But, because of sin, we have been born with an addiction to wicked pleasures that war against how we were created. This is the case with every generation and in every country.

Follower of Christ, stop reading your Bible for information on how to get rich in this temporal world and begin reading it as a revelation of pearl of great pleasure.

Professor of Christ, can you continue to starve your soul from that which God created? Is is reasonable that your current pursuit of sensual pleasure is not accomplishing what your soul is hungering and thirsting for? As long as you are feeding the wicked pleasures of your heart you will only read the Bible as a voice that condemns your practices and find it a book that is always speaking against your activity.

What if, instead, you treat the Word of God as a lamp; a lamp illuminating a path of previously avoided paths that truly leads to pleasure, lasting, eternal pleasure?  Or will you be like the one the Apostle Paul describes as lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God?

Do you not know this?

God wants you to be pleased. You too want to be pleased. God has designed you to pursue pleasure. God likes it when we do what we are created to do and he is displeased when we waste this created purpose on temporal, immoral, unpleasant ends.

Follower of Christ, we have a blessed lamp; turn that lamp on.

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

On Sunday nights at Eastside Baptist Church we take a close look at a hymn of the faith and a topic related to faithful living in this ever changing culture.

You can join us live in person, video live-streaming at Google Hangouts, or archived here the following week. If you are interested in joining via the live-streaming option it will require a bit of early set up to get you called in and all technical things set up. For some, this has been a helpful because of distance to travel twice into Twin Falls on the same day, for some who are ill, others away from town. We would welcome this of you if for some reason you are unable to attend a gathering in your community. Contact me before Sunday afternoon at 5:00pm.

This week pastor John Martinez gave us some background on the hymn, Great is Thy Faithfulness.

I gave a scan of types of problems people appear to have with the Bible and offer some solutions to the Christian on how to develop a disciplined lifestyle of reading, thinking, and trusting the Bible to be true and reliable.

James Montgomery Boice puts it this way…

“If the Bible is truely from God, and if God is a God of truth (and He is), then… if tow parts seem to be in opposition or in contradiction to each other, our interpretation of one or both of these parts must be in error.”

1978 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy

I was 12 years old, living in Colorado when the 1978 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy was and signed by brave defenders of the Bible boldly by drafting 19 articles of affirmation and denial of Biblical Inerrancy. The summary statement describes Scripture (the Holy Bible) as “God’s witness of Himself”, “God’s own Word”, being “wholly and verbally God-given.”


Article I.
We affirm that the Holy Scriptures are to be received as the authoritative Word of God.
We deny that the Scriptures receive their authority from the Church, tradition, or any other human source.


 

Full statement HERE

 

 


 

1978 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy: Original Signers
1978 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy: Original Document

Curiosity Killed the Cat

Renee has one of these freakish cats that have no hair. It’s a long story of how I told her we would never have one of those cats because they cost money and how I told her many times, “I’m not paying money for a cat.” Short back story: She found a loop-hole in what I said. We did not pay for this poor, hairless cat. We did however have to drive over 600 miles and spend money on a motel room. All in all, I paid for a hairless cat.

But that’s not the point here. Hairless or full of hair, cats are known for their curiosity. It’s normal for a cat to explore and even question what something is.

That’s the long way around to this; The world around us becomes familiar and commonplace to us as we age and grow to love our “creature comforts”. But the world is nearly an exhaustless wonder to children whose minds are alert and curious. As a matter of fact, a child that asks no questions, is no normal child. Questions even seem to be signs of mental health and normal activity.

This curiosity is normal and even has a level of normal “innocence”. But don’t be fooled. This curiosity will quickly, if not already, begin to show itself in a small child as a craving to satisfy a sinful flesh.

A duty for a parent is to learn to encourage a curiosity of one kind and expose the curiosity of another kind for what it is.

The duty of a parent is to show a child that they have an inborn propensity for sin.

Encourage questions like;

  • Where did I come from?
  • Where am I going?
  • What am I in this world for?
  • How should I treat other people?
  • What is my relationship to God?
  • How will I overcome sin and temptation?
  • How can I become more Christlike?
Deut-6
SilasThompsonFineArt

These and thousands upon thousands of other questions are natural questions for a young person to begin asking as they grow into young adulthood. And, I argue, are questions that should be answered. But more than just being answered, they should be taught how to answer these questions truthfully and biblically. Bad advice and counsel has wrecked many.

Parenting is no easy task. I don’t know of a parent who wishes they had not done some things differently. By the shear grace of God, parents actually do a lot of things right. But, don’t grow arrogant in thinking that there are things you have done as a parent that have not been helpful or will not be helpful if you continue in your own stubborn ways.

As a child grows they need parents who understand that their authority never diminishes, but does transform.

An infant is dependent upon a parent for every decision. But when a math equation is being worked on at age 16, that same child needs more to be taught how to discover the solution than to be told the solution. The authority of a parent remains constant while the duty is to largely teach a child to ask good questions and how to find truthful answers.

Dad and mom, are you as diligently preparing your children to know God as you are in the important matters of reading, math, science, writing?

An important thing I want to remind you of and warn you about is; Don’t forget that your child’s curiosity is not so innocent as they begin to search answers about sexuality and relationships. Be alert. Be on guard.

Be sure you are teaching your sons and daughters where to find truthful answers to their blooming spiritual curiosity. Make sure they understand that their emotional heart can not be trusted.

The best homes on earth are schools of continuing education, with lessons only being partially learned at times. It is important that careful attention is given to all lessons now (both secular and spiritual) because the opportunity to learn them will soon be gone.

It is no small thing that a serious misfortune would come upon your household as the graduates leave without mastering the lessons of most significance. What if they’ve not been trained to know what is sinful? What if they don’t know of the authority of God? What if God and his revelation (the Bible) is treated with such smallness and of no significance to know who God is? Their curiosity to know God will create a god that seems palatable to their undisciplined likes and dislikes.

A great need is needed among our young today. Who is teaching them to be self-disciplined? self-governed? all while submitting to the authority of God? God has established institutions for this; it’s your home and it’s your church.

The Only Rule of Christian Faith and Practice

(from Thomas Armitage; Baptist Faith and Practice)

Concerning the Bible:

“That the book called the Bible is given by the inspiration of God, and is the only rule of Christian faith and practice. The consequence is, that we have no creeds, nor catechisms, nor decretals, which bind us by their authority. We think a creed worth nothing, unless it is supported by Scriptural authority, and if the creed is founded on the word of God, we do not see why we should not rest on that word which props up the creed; we prefer to go back directly to the foundation itself and rest there alone. If it is able to sustain us, we need nothing else, and if it is not, then we cannot rest upon a creed to support us when that creed has no support for itself. Some of our churches have what they call “declarations,”or “articles of Faith,” which are mere statements of what they think that the Bible teaches, but they are not put forth by any theological or ecclesiastical authority, and therefore do not bind the consciences of the churches. Some of our churches have no such “articles”or “Declarations,” because they find no need for them, and those who use them do not all use the same. Our churches hold that Jesus Christ is the only Law-giver, and the only King in Zion; that his law is laid down in the Scriptures, and is perfect: and, therefore, they refuse to follow all forms of tradition and ecclesiastical ordinations whatever, bowing only to the behests of inspired precept, and the recorded practices of the apostolic churches, as their record is found in the Scriptures.”

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