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Friday, November 27, 2015

Sola Fide: An Invention of the Reformation or the Historic View of the Church?
“Faith is a living, unshakable confidence in God's grace; it is so certain that someone would die a thousand times for it.” – Martin Luther

A common objection brought against the biblical gospel of grace alone through faith alone, is that it was simply an invention of the Reformers.  "They desired to break away from Rome and start their own church," the charge is often laid.  In response to this objection I can confidently say one thing: the person speaking has never read the Reformers or Church history.  I would challenge an objector to find a single place where Martin Luther or John Calvin talked about creating their own church.  In fact, there are several places where they talked about a desire to restore the church to what it had always believed- that salvation was by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in the finished work of Christ alone, for the glory of God alone, according to the Scriptures alone.

But were the doctrines of the Reformation articulated before Martin Luther?  Absolutely!  Were the doctrines of the Reformation doctrines which were taught by the historic church?  Absolutely! With this post we will examine the doctrine of sola fide.  This doctrine teaches that we are made receive the salvation purchased by Christ, by the means of faith alone, and not through any righteous deed or work of merit. The  biblical case for this doctrine has been made elsewhere.  Today I desire to turn to history and examine quotations from the early church Fathers and draw the timeline all the way up until the time of the Reformation.  This doctrine was not foreign to the early church.

First, let me briefly define sola fide.  Luther’s quote at the introduction is very helpful alongside the image that is included..  Faith is not just an act of the head, but a submission of the will.  It is a confidence.  Hebrews 11 describes faith as “assurance of things hoped for and conviction of things not seen.”  The way the term “faith” is used in the 21st century is an act of the head, but faith is an act of the head, heart, and hands.  It is a submission of ourselves, with absolute confidence in the object of our faith.  It is the confidence we have to sit in a chair, knowing that it will hold our full weight.  We sit down in the promises of Christ, fully assured that they will hold up.

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Longing we Share
A study from the National LQBT Task Force on transgender discrimination is very telling. Though published in 2011, these stats give us key insights into the transgender experience.

First, as I read the stats, I am heart broken.  The rates of homelessness, poverty, and the 41% suicide rate among transgender (and “non-gender conforming”) individuals lead me to mourn.  These statistics should not hit us cold, as statistics often do.  I hurt for those who are undergoing depression.  Those who are transgender who are living on the streets: the church should do more for you.  The system has let you down.  I am sorry and I feel deeply for you.  Caring for the homeless, the destitute, and the outcast are Christian virtues.  It was a passion of Jesus; therefore, it should be a passion of His followers.

A second reality stood out as I glanced at this survey.  One even more striking to those who affirm the Christian worldview.  On page 79 of the survey, in the middle of the section about “Health”, we discover what the transgender individuals polled think about surgery.  These are stats we have seen before.  The media is rather partial to them.  “Only 21% of Male-to-female transitions have undergone breast augmentation surgery.”  A similar stat is also given for female-to-male hysterectomies.  But, this study reveals that there is a lot more than meets the eye.

For Male-to-Female transitions: 53% “Want Someday” to have breast augmentation surgery, while over 60% “Want Someday” to have orchiectomy and vaginoplasty.  On the female-to-male side 50% “want someday” to have chest surgery, whereas 58% desire a hysterectomy.  The question of desire is an important one.  But, desire is always limited in what it is willing to do.  To be family friendly, the aforementioned operations are mainly about removing what is already there, whereas the remaining two operations have substantial “Don’t want” rating.  When it comes to creating what females do not already have, one operations has a nearly ¾ who would prefer to leave well enough alone.

What do these stats tell us?  From a Christian worldview perspective it confirms what we have been saying along: our genders cannot be separated from our biology.  While only around 20% of men asked about each surgery have had them, up to 86% of male-to-female transitions want or have had orchiectomy surgery.  Even the lowest amount, nearly ¾ of those polled want augmentation surgery.  The implications are clear: transgender individuals overwhelmingly desire for their biology to match their gender orientation.  Even Richard Friedman, professor of clinical psychiatry at Wells Cornell Medical College asked recently in his opinion piece in the New York Times, “But if gender were nothing more than a social convention, why was it necessary for Caitlyn Jenner to undergo facial surgeries, take hormones and remove her body hair?  The fact that some transgender individuals use hormone treatment and surgery to switch gender speaks to the inescapable biology at the heart of gender identity.”

On the “Female-to-Male” transition side, 93% had desired or had had chest surgery.    Almost 80% for a hysterectomy.  But, the remaining two surgeries, those which seek to “add” what is not already there are only met with 29% and 57% desiring/have had rate.  Why so low?  If we can be frank, humans do not create as well as we think.  Give flight for an example.  We can try to build wings, but even in this scientific age, the best we seen to do is strap card board on our arms and flap until we reach Europe.  We have to use exterior means to fly.  As good as planes are, they are a screaming admission that we limited in what science and technology have been able to change, at least about the human anatomy.

We must recognize the Creator/creation distinction.  God has created man and woman, gender and all, in His image.  All of our attempts to forsake that image have proven unsuccessful and expensive.  We can destroy and take away, but we are left empty handed when it comes to creating.  As Hebrews 11:3 tells us, only God can make something come nothing.  We are left longing for something that we can never be.  In fact, that is not a transgender only experience.  That is the story of all of us.  We have all forsaken God’s image and purpose.  We have all sought out ways of creating a new reality where we set the terms.  From the Garden of Eden until today the question remains the same, “Did God really say?” (Gen. 3:1).  Sometimes this questions takes several forms, but each equally rebellious.  Fundamentally we have all sought to set ourselves up as the creator and definer.  We have sought to take God from His throne.  We have committed treason against an absolutely Holy King.  We need divine pardon.  But not just a pardon, we need power to help leave behind our rebellion and find satisfaction under the Kingship of God.  We need power to pursue the image we have shattered, and we need transformation to complete process.  We have a problem.

But, we have the solution.  The King descended from the palace, took upon Himself the penalty for our treason.  The Creator descended to creation and He offers power today to overcome our broken image, and the promise of future restoration.  This King is Jesus Christ- the God Man, and by the cross we are forgiven, set free, and being transformed- one day He will conform us to the image we have broken and are longing to restore.  His Kingship is kind.  When we turn from the life we are living and submit to His Lordship, and regardless of our past, we find redemption, forgiveness and newness of life.  He not only cancels the penaltly of sin, but also empties sin of its power over us, so we can freely fight sin and pursue holiness.

The study LQBT task forces shows us that transgender people long to be something they are not, but the Bible says the same for all of us.  None of us are satisfied with the way we were born.  Jesus’ words ring true, “You must be born again” (John 3:3).  An exterior surgery will not do the trick, it is but an empty promise.  We need heart surgery- transformation, redemption, healing- this is found only through the work of Jesus Christ, the Great Surgeon for the broken, lost and the outcast (Luke 5:31-32).

Friday, September 25, 2015

Is Peter the "Petra" of Matthew 16?
As the Pope makes his visit to America, I find it important to bring some clarity to the subject.  One thing that is sadly missing is any theological significant discussions of the doctrine of the papacy itself.*  Significant in the Roman Catholic system is the understanding that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ, the head of the true Church, who infallibly can define doctrine.  They believe that the Pope has taken the “seat of Peter”, who they believe to be the Prince and Chief of the apostles, and that those who follow after him as the Bishop of Rome.  This doctrine was first clearly articulated in the Vatican 1 Council.  In this council the church infallibly interpreted Matthew 16:13-20 as well as John 21 to refer to Peter’s primacy.  They also made the claim that this has been the teaching of the church since the beginning.  Vatican 1 reads:

We teach and declare that, according to the gospel evidence, a primacy of jurisdiction over the whole Church of God was immediately and directly promised to the blessed apostle Peter and conferred on him by Christ the lord.

It was to Simon alone, to whom he had already said You shall be called Cephas , that the Lord, after his confession, You are the Christ, the son of the living God, spoke these words:

Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the underworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

And it was to Peter alone that Jesus, after his resurrection, confided the jurisdiction of Supreme Pastor and ruler of his whole fold, saying: Feed my lambs, feed my sheep.
To this absolutely manifest teaching of the Sacred Scriptures, as it has always been understood by the Catholic Church, are clearly opposed the distorted opinions of those who misrepresent the form of government which Christ the lord established in his Church and deny that Peter, in preference to the rest of the apostles, taken singly or collectively, was endowed by Christ with a true and proper primacy of jurisdiction…

And so, supported by the clear witness of Holy Scripture, and adhering to the manifest and explicit decrees both of our predecessors the Roman Pontiffs and of general councils, we promulgate anew the definition of the ecumenical Council of Florence, which must be believed by all faithful Christians, namely that the Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff hold a world-wide primacy, and that the Roman Pontiff is the successor of blessed Peter, the prince of the apostles, true vicar of Christ, head of the whole Church and father and teacher of all Christian people.

 That apostolic primacy which the Roman Pontiff possesses as successor of Peter, the prince of the apostles, includes also the supreme power of teaching. This Holy See has always maintained this, the constant custom of the Church demonstrates it, and the ecumenical councils, particularly those in which East and West met in the union of faith and charity, have declared it. -Vatican 1, Session 4, 1:1-4, 3:1 4:1 (

The Roman doctrine of the papacy stands or falls on Matthew 16:13-20.  We will examine this Roman Catholic dogma in three phases: first, looking at Matthew 16:13-20, second, looking at relevant New Testament passage, and third, looking at history before giving concluding thoughts.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Why You Should #ShoutYourAbortion

Recently, a hashtag is making its way around the net.  #ShoutYourAbortion is meant to be a defense of Planned Parenthood in the midst of their most recent controversy, along with allowing women to proudly boast in abortion decision.  This hashtag is a celebration of autonomy.  In fact, the pro-abortion narrative is changing.  Not long ago, women who received abortion were “victims”, but now they are being considered heroes.  Any extension of the kingdom of autonomy is something to shout.  Mos may be shocked to hear this, but I agree- abortion is something to shout about, but not in mirth and celebration, but in mourning and lamentation.

In fact, Biblically, seeking full autonomy is not what brings freedom and life (like the culture is promising).  Biblically, full and free moral autonomy breeds death, not life.  This is clear from the third chapter of Genesis.  In fact, the moment they dwelt upon Satan’s question, they exalted their own autonomy above Kingship.  “Did God really say?” has always been the root of our problems, this isn’t changing anytime soon.  The New Testament is clear that autonomy from God is still the root of our problem (Romans 1:18-32).  It also shouldn’t be surprising to us that autonomy has lead our culture to murder the innocent.  It was the next chapter after our first parent’s sought their full autonomy that we see a two-fold slaughter- first of God-given responsibility, and then of human life.  Cain’s question is just as chilling today, “Are we our brother’s keeper?”  To adjust it a bit for our context, “Am I my baby’s keeper?”

Abortion is clear reminder of the fallenness of our world.  Nothing can be more clear than allowing our autonomy to rule and reign over other’s autonomy.  We end life because we think that freedom from their life will bring us life, but death only ever brought life once, and it came not through asserting autonomy, but through humility and obedience to the plans of the Father.  Jesus by His death offers us fullness of life (Jon 10:10).  He died for our sins and rose again to make all things new.  He is the King over this creation, and only through laying down our autonomy and submitting to Him can we find life.  In this new creation we are made kings and queens over all things (Revelation 5:10).  Even those who have performed or received abortions can find forgiveness and newness of life in the gospel.  True freedom is not found in laying down the life of others, but in laying down our own lives.  Jesus modeled this and we are called to lay down our lives and follow Him.  Abortion is antithesis to the gospel, this is why anyone who claims to follow Christ can never support it.

The fallenness of sin should be mourned.  The death of the innocent is never celebrated in Scripture, but something to lament.  Herod thought killing the Messiah as a baby would solve his problem. Instead of celebration, Rachel was left mourning for her babies, and Herod couldn’t kill the baby.  In fact, through one of the babies he sought to destroy, the People of God would be rescued from their exile- a baby would bring life to the people of God.  This is why Matthew would quote from Jeremiah's lament (Jeremiah 31:15, Matthew 2:17-18).  Jesus Christ conquered death and the fallenness of this world and rules all the nations with an iron rod from the throne of God (Revelation 12:5).

We must pray to our Sovereign King (who can empathize with those slaughtered babies) for the end of this in our nation.  He has all authority in Heaven and on Earth.  Nothing it too far gone for His power and promise to restore.  But, our work doesn’t stop there.  We have work to do.  Legislation needs to continue and propagation is an essential. Continue in the fight in Congress and elsewhere. But, we must not forget to preach the message of Christ’s obedience to death instead of the culture’s message- autonomy through death.  Abortion is anti-gospel, abortion is anti-joy.  One fact is clear- abortion is pro-death.   Because of this fact abortion is something to shout about, but only with sackcloth and ashes.  

Monday, September 21, 2015

"How Shall we Sing the LORD’s Song in a Foreign Land?" Psalm 137 and Exiles of Religious Conviction
Psalm 137 is based on a true story.  Not the kind of “based on true story” accounts that needs to be rewritten by Hollywood.  Psalm 137 has all the elements of a good plot- suffering, antagonists, shock-and-awe, and a central theme meant to impact the readers in the present, and empower them for the future.  What makes it even better is that this Psalm, like all of them, are set to music.

In Psalm 137 we find the people of God in exile.  Long had the prophets- Isaiah, Jeremiah and the like- warned of the outcome of Israel’s sin.  In their rebellion they hardened their hearts and as punishment they had been attacked and taken out of the land by Babylon.  As the Psalmist (and presumably the people of God as a whole) set down and reflected on the land God had promised, that they had seem to lose, verse 1 says they wept.  God gave them exactly want they wanted, and as sin always does, it leaves run and misery in its path (Romans 3:16).

“On the willows there we hung up our lyres.” (137:2).  The people had put up their instruments.  This was not a time to sing and celebrate, nor for entertainment, as instruments were often used for.  This was a time for mourning.  Not only were they in a foreign land, but they captors, called “tormentors” were openly mocking the people of God.  They would profane the sacred songs of the Lord!  With mirth (laughter), they would ask them to sing songs about the Promised Land they were taken from (v.3-4).  Mockery of God’s people is not a new invention.  Enemies of God have done it for ages.

This leads the Psalmist to ask a very simple question, “How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land?” (v. 4).   They were taken out of the land of promise.  They were being pressured to allow men to defame and mock their God.  These songs were Holy and not meant to be sang in this foreign land by rebellious people.  People were forcing these men to disobey their conscience and what they knew to be right.  No doubt the mockers said, “It is just a song!  It won’t hurt anyone.”  “It’s the law, you must obey.”  “You can hold to your convictions in your houses, but not in the public square.”  For the Psalmist, to sing songs in mockery to the Lord was to “forget” the city.  To forget His promise.  The Psalmist is clear in verses 5-6, it would be better not to play any music at all than too do it in a way that doesn't acknowledge God and His Word.  For the Psalmist, obedience to conscience is worth suffering for.

Notice the end of verse 6, “Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth…if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!”  To sing these songs would blaspheme God and thus show Him to be small.  To sing these songs in this context was disobedience to God.  If they cave to the pressure and obey the commands of their captors, they are showing what they value more: the safety and security that men provide more than God and His promises.  Jesus would speak of sin in a similar way, it is better to faithfully suffer and enter into the presence of God than to succumb to the world’s pressure to sin.  “And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell” - Mark 9:47.  The kingdom is greater than the fleeting promises of sin.  Jesus would say in the beatitudes, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)  Future grace of perfection empower purity in the present.  The people of God in persecution have always set their hopes on the promises of God.

The Psalmist continues with his hope set on the future promises of God as he finishes the Psalm.  Just as he set his hope on the perfect joy of Jerusalem, he sets his hope on God’s justice.  When God purifies, part of that means He destroys impurity.  The Psalmist cries out for God to remember against His enemies, the Edomites who had laid bare the foundations of Jerusalem and that the one who repays Babylon for what they had done would be blessed (v. 7-8).  Notice the Psalmist’s hope, even as it seems His enemies are winning, Babylon remains “doomed to be destroyed.”  God is a redeemer and rids His people of all enemies.  Notice the severity of the judgement God would give to the enemies of God: “Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!” (v. 9).  At first glance that verse should take us a back.  Why would God consider the man blessed who dashed babies against rocks?  That sounds cruel.  What was ever done to deserve that?  

We recognize that Babylon had dashed the Israelite babies to pieces (Isaiah 13:16).  Babylon was an instrument of judgement against Israel for their sin, but they had gone too far.  They have done what was wicked in God's sight.  What the Psalmist desires is that, as verse 8 says, they be repaid according to what has been done to them.   In other words, He desires that standard Jesus teaches- that measure that they use shall be used back against them (Matthew 7:1-2).  God promises to judge in accordance with the deeds done- how He does it is up to Him.  That was the Psalmist’s confidence

Christians- we face a similar pressure to those of the people of God in Psalm 137.  Not from an enemy nation, but from our own nation.  We facing pressure to cave on God and His Word.  The culture trivializes it, just as I’m sure the Babylonians did- “It’s just a cake.  It’s just a marriage license.”  I’m sure the Israelites were being pressured under the “rule of law.”  But we must stand as they did.  We must place the God and His Word above our highest joys.  We must trust that a new and better country awaits us.  We must not cave on our convictions, but work hard to obey God, even when it is unpopular.

We must trust in God’s justice.  The 21st century church seems to emphasis “mercy” while minimizing “justice”, but in the shadow of the cross those two are intrinsically wed.  We trust and know that Judgement Day is a reality.  2 Thessalonians 1 describes that day as a day of relief because God will destroy those who have sought to destroy us (v. 7-8).  The long awaited promise land is ushered in, and along with it are God’s enemies tossed out.  But, as New Testament people we know God is pleased to judge sin in the death of Another.  We were all once enemies, but God has sought out His enemies in love and mercy.  Christ has come, He has died to reconcile us to Himself, by satisfying God’s wrath, and rising again to stand as our Advocate.  By faith, we die when He died, and we rise as He rose. The only hope for us has never been in obedience to Babylon, for one day all will look and see her judgement (Revelation 18:15-18).  Godless culture cannot keep its promises.  Our hope is in a new and better city, which no unclean will enter (Revelation 21:27).  We must endure in the present, for the promise of the future is greater than the present promises of sin- we will see His face (Rev. 22:4).

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

5 Rebuttals to the #StandwithPP Movement & a Rally Cry for the #DefundPP Movement

The fifth video released by the Center for Medical Progress is the most gruesome one yet.  This horror needs to end (and has needed to end for a while).

Many have rallied around Planned Parenthood's cause offering many defenses.  I am quickly writing this blog to quickly respond to these defenses.  Videos are included with each quick response.

# 1 The released videos are “highly edited.”

All content we see is edited.  “Highly edited” is a subjective term.  All news we watch is edited.  In fact, they often splice two screens together, I would consider that pretty highly edited.

The questions remains, which Planned Parenthood has been unable to answer, how are the videos deceptively edited?  Why not produce the doctors in the videos and have them talk about how these videos were highly edited?  Obviously, if the context of these videos were clear and the deception was obvious, this would not continue to be an issue.  You can watch one of the three full videos for yourself. 

# 2 These guys are nothing more than “Right-Wing Extremists."

Not according to Joe Scarborough from MSNBC.  He is very outraged over these recent videos.

Also, those who make this argument make a category error.  Women’s health, and the harvesting of fetal organs, are not one in the same.  There are many other ways to provide women’s health- and abortion is not one of them.  Also, there are many women leading the way in the pro-life movement, and unless you think they are at war with themselves, you may want a new comeback.

Third, the attempts. like in Planned Parenthood's recent statement, trying to tie the CMP to those who firebomb abortion mills is flat out wrong.  The Blaze has made it clear, they have confused two separate organizations.

This is not a right-wing or left-wing issue.  This is a matter of life and death.

#3 Only 3% of the services Planned Parenthood provides are abortion services.

After having a stats class last year, I have remained skeptical of statistic until I hear all the factors that went into it.  This should be the case with this statistic.  This video shows that nearly 94% of pregnant women who went into Planned Parenthood received an abortion.

Also, 3% of abortion is 3% too many if abortion is the killing of a child.

# 4 But, Planned Parenthood is not profiting from doing this.

Center for Medical Progress Founder was interviewed for CNN and handled this objection very well.  At the bottom of this page is an image from the Stem Express website, which advertises “financial benefit” for clinics*.  This is evidence that has been dismissed by Planned Parenthood and Stem Express.

# 5 But, Planned Parenthood has responded to all of these objections!
Really?  This interview from President Cecile Richards shows that Planned Parenthood is not interested in addressing these issues, but in avoiding them.  In fact, all of her points are the exact same ones that have been address above.  Without providing any meaningful refutation, we allow this organization to continue to benefit from selling the body parts of unborn babies.  This is not only the technique of the President of Planned Parenthood, but also the President of the United States.

Rally Cry: Christians, this matters.  Let us not let this story stay quite.  We should cry out and join the protest of blood that cries out from the ground (Gen. 4:10)!  But, let's also be clear: our voices should also join the chorus of all of creation.  What does all of creation sing?  Jesus Christ is King (Luke 19:37-40)!

The same King wept over rebel sinners, as should we (Luke 19:41).  We must not forget compassion in our action.  Jesus didn't.  Both met at the cross- compassion and action- "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).  Jesus rescued us from our slaughter- sin.  Our pro-life ministry must model Christ- die to self, lay down our lives in love, that others might live, even in the face of death itself.  Jesus faced death with his face like flint (Luke 9:51), and He calls us to likewise face it head on.

"Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter."-Proverbs 24:11

* Here is the image from the Stem Express website offering "financial benefits to clinics" (mentioned at least three times).

If you have time, one of the videos that has ignited my passion for the Pro-Life Movement, was called 180 Movie.  Below is the video.  I invite everyone, pro-life or pro-choice, to take the time to watch it.  It has changed minds and hearts on abortion!  Please watch and share!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Gifted By Grace Sermon Audio

Here is a sermon I was honored to preach at the Awakening Conference.  The conference was geared toward college students (like myself) and was held at Walnut Memorial Baptist Church in Owensboro, Kentucky on February 28, 2015.  I was given the topic of Spiritual Gifts, so I chose Romans 12:1-8 as my text in hopes of showing how the gospel is the foundation for our gifting and then I hoped to show three practical applications for our gifting(s).

May God be glorified, His gospel preached, and His people edified.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Biting the Hand that Feeds You

Facebook has been filled with noise, very unpleasant noise.  This week the Supreme Court has taken up the case for same-sex marriage.  Every time a story like this hits the news I notice two things.  First, secular people all of a sudden become Bible scholars.  Second, Christians become cowards.

The first observation looks something like this: “Wow.
  Look at all of those Christians, who say homosexuality is a sin, they must also believe that we can’t eat shell fish too!  Get with the times.  Aren’t we supposed to love our neighbor?  Ugh!”  Regardless of what these scoffers may proclaim, people who use this kind of thinking are secular regardless of what their Facebook or Sunday morning routine may say.  Their reasoning is ignorant and the foundations of their worldview are empty.  Secular thinking must presuppose, while also suppressing, Christian thinking. 

The above scenario shows this to be the case.  First, one simple Google search could provide theologically consistent answers as to why being homosexuality is a sin while eating shellfish is not.  American Christians need to realize that many of those who attack our faith are ignorant of what it teaches.  Willfully ignorant.  A simple reading of Jesus shows us that this is in fact consistent.  Mark 7 opens with Jesus putting the smack down on the Pharisees about embracing men’s traditions.  He then began to teach about how it’s not what is outside of people that makes them unclean, but what is inside.  His disciple then ask him to explain the parable further.  In classic Jesus style his answer was pretty straight forward:

And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him,  since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. – Mark 7:18-20

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Cry of Assurance

"...but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, 'Abba! Father!' The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God" - Romans 8:15-16

Struggling Christian, your cry to your Father is met by the cry of the Holy Spirit which cries out as a witness: "My child, I hear you. You are mine." Therefore, your cries out to God are God's assurance that you in fact His. "Help my unbelief" are the words of one whom is continuing to believe. A bedrock of security for those sinking in the ocean of doubt.

Friday, March 6, 2015

What Child "Sacrifice" Teaches you about Faith

“And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets…

And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” -
Hebrews 11:32, 39-40

We all have heroes.  The author of Hebrews dedicated a whole chapter of his letter to address heroes of the faith.  Before he can tell us what it means to be a “hero of the faith,” he begins his chapter by defining what faith is.  He writes,
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” - Hebrews 11:1
Within his discussion he gives us the importance of faith.  He writes,  And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him – Hebrews 11:6.  Faith is belief in God, and that belief in God brings some sort of reward.  Faith is not just belief, but true faith sees faith as something to be valued.  This faith was found in all of the writers heroes of faith.

He walks through the Old Testament recounting classic stories of the faith!  Anyone who has been to church or a VBS has probably heard a few of these stories.  Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Moses, Samson, Gideon…..Jephthah? Some of you might be asking, “Who?  Jephthah?  Who is that?”  While others of you might be asking, “Jephthah?  The guy from Judges who sacrificed his daughter?  How was he a hero of the faith?”  The answer may just surprise you…

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Biblical Vision of the Good Life.

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“Psalm 128 is a picture of the good life.” These words from Dr. James Hamilton have been echoed in my ears since I arrived at Southern Seminary for a recent Alumni Academy on Biblical Theology. While the whole two days left me with much to dwell on, this passage has been heavy on my heart. Little did I know recent events in Atlanta would tie right into what God has said. The good life is intrinsically tied to family life.*

Psalm 128 begins, “Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways!  “Blessed” means happy.  Reverence was to lead the Psalmist to rejoicing.  And not just a moment of rejoicing but a “walk.”  Fear of God is more than what you do in a Sunday service; it is a continual walking in obedience to God.  And we see in Psalm 128, the fear of God is connected with blessedness.  It is clear that the author of this Psalm was familiar with the blessings for obedience in Deuteronomy 28.  The people were promised blessing for obedience and curses for disobedience.  Notice verse 2 which carries this thought along, “You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.”  The blessing of God brought him provision.  Notice both what the Psalmist does say, and what he does not say.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Being Thankful With our "Whole Heart" (Psalm 138)

I was flipping through my Bible in search of a passage the other night and stumbled upon notes on a passage I don't remember making. Upon investigating closely, I had written notes all over Psalm 138. What follows are notes and reflections put together to share.  I feel God brought me back to this passage for reasons only He knows. Hope it encourages you.

David introduces Psalm 138 this way- "I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise;" He was giving thanks to the Lord!  Notice with his "whole heart."  David said he would even do it before the "gods." This is simply a phrase referring to rulers who are in a sense little gods. Psalm 95:3 and 96:5 are perfect examples of the use of the term "god" in the Psalms to refer to rulers. Before all kings God is worthy of praise for He is greater than any king! This brings us into the first thing David gives thanks for.

He was thankful for God's name.

I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness - Psalm 138:2

He gives thanks to God's name (who He is at His core) because of His steadfast love and faithfulness.  This would draw us back to the words of God to those in Exodus. God's faithfulness is not something He gives, but it something He is. He is thanking God for being who He is. He also thanks God for what He has done.  He is thanking God for His character, which means he must have had something to inform this understanding.  God's word was what informed it.