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The Point: Wicked Speaks from Dead Hearts | A Politician’s Quote

And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed

While the efforts surrounding this small quotation are honorable in relation to the empowerment of women’s rights, the context in which these words were spoken are dangerously wicked. In speaking about abortion rights, this line was enforced as one of the ways in which laws would be backed with “resources and political will”. While Christians should abhor what is evil and hold to what is Good, sometimes what is good is coupled with what is evil in an attempt to placate to the deception of Satan while feeding the desires of a depraved world and the flesh that is certain to find eternal judgment.  Only blind individuals or misogynistic patriarchs would deny that our sisters are surely “second class” in so many eyes, it does not allow for the reduction of truth and the banishment of divine decrees in order to do what is right.

When one desires to change the essence and explicit dogma of righteousness by what is pleasing or “culturally” acceptable it brings many consequences. Two of them are, a hatred for resistance by the contrary and persecution of the firm.  “Rights have to exist in practice” says this leader, who doesn’t understand that her very words will condemn her when she stands before the eternal judge who clearly shows that murder, of anyone, is murder and no matter how the plane lands, the heart of the murder, if not transformed by the grace of the Lord, will remain condemned. When “deep-seated” codes of cultural religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed by the leaders of a nation in order to exercise new rights that conflict with righteousness persecution and ultimately the death of true believers is inevitable.

Remember these words beloved. We are guaranteed to share in the suffering of Jesus Christ as a good soldier. Not by fighting to win but standing as though we have already won. When the attack comes, it will come from the locals, the churches, the neighbors, the spouse, the kids, and those who love you most. The body of Christ will have to endure the persecution that follows the world’s ways and we must do it with gentleness, humility and pity toward those who would rather see us burn on a pyre than to tell them the truth of the Gospel. Keep in step with what is taught us, keep in step with the Lord Jesus (in His grace), and keep in step with the future that we know is ours; not of this world, but gloriously awaiting us who are kept by the power of God!

Do not be deceived, the culture hates the Lord, the natural man wants to do what is contrary to the Lord’s will and design and all these things we see, all the bullying against holiness and the advocating for abortion, same-sex marriage, racism, greed, monarchy and the like are preparing to see the wrath of God poured out on all unrighteousness. May the Lord grant us a heart to pray that we send forth the gospel to a dead world; not a dying one.

Lord have mercy on the souls of men. Lord thank you for the cross – Jesus was killed for preaching the words of God!

Pastor James

 

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A Little Thought

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You Are One of the Morons

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Seldom do I EVER respond to polarizing arguments online, but there are a few forums that I frequent and have good, sometimes tense, but healthy conversations. This evening was one of those evenings. I was floating in the bliss of this coming Lord’s day and basking in the aroma of a week of study and hope-filled expectation of the work of God through His word. To say I was glad is understated. In the midst of my bliss, an unsuspecting troll moved along and unbeknown to me, I accidentally posted in a forum that I “observe” thinking it was a good-soiled tilling. For a moment think of someone who claims to be holy, a lover of truth, and a lover of the brethren by their self-confession. Now consider these following statements:

Pinhead, I despise your iniquity. Get your heart right and get honor, I eschew evil – YOUR theology. YOU are one of the morons.

This is not a joke. For about four seconds I was totally taken back, asked the brother to message me and he adamantly noted that all of his points and thoughts would “remain public”.  In just a few minutes though I realized I had posted in the wrong place my exegesis of the love of God in answering a metaphor listed by a participant. To that then I graciously just bowed out. Had I had an EKG at the moment it would have read a near heart failure! It’s amazing what the flesh will do when provoked unwarranted. By the grace of the Lord I was able to settle down, remove my anger, pray for this man, “Jeff” and then engage in another fruitful conversation before retiring for bed.

Just so we don’t get assumptive on the context, I was sharing previous theological writing from me and my colleagues on the matter of universalism, which is a very bad heretical view of salvation that teaches all people are forgiven and propitiated at the cross of Christ.  We know that the scripture teaches that only those who believe will be saved and no one can believe apart from God’s word. So, I shared the resources and was slapped ferociously as stated. But in the end, I am glad and here’s why:

  1. I am a pinhead. I mean, I have believed some very pinheaded stuff through the last four decades, so, comment taken. However, while so, I am not being foolish or stupid on this matter and by leaving the argument to the Lord, I have proven so – staying in would have proven me a pinhead.
  2. I too despise my iniquity and I am glad this hateful person has so much in common with me. Gladly my iniquity has been nailed to the cross and I am no longer bound to the death that belongs to my sinful guilt because Jesus Christ has taken on Himself and made me His righteousness. Amen. (BTW, it is by grace alone through faith alone, not of works of any kind.)
  3. Getting my heart right and getting honor is hard to comprehend. His statement to get my heart right was to repent of number 2 and go with universalism, but for that I am not going to shake. And also, my heart cannot be right before God through any work of my own, but only through the finished work of Jesus Christ. The honor he was speaking of was me asking him to please not call me and my brothers “morons”.
  4. Another point of unity with Jeff is that I also “eschew” evil, that is I avoid and shun it by the grace of God. Sadly, he was calling me evil because of my theology right after he argued that ALL people are saved automatically because of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. I’m confused by this because if we are indeed brothers, according to John, he cannot avoid me but rather, should be patient with me while training me in righteousness. After all the litmus test of redemption is love for God and love for the saints.
  5. OK, while I hate to admit it, I am a moron. Got me. I am a fool that is sustained by the invisible and sovereign grace of God that was manifest through the person of Jesus. I am a fool for Him and His gospel and preaching it is foolish in the eyes of all the world.
  6. As this was unfolding, the resources I shared sparked a conversation off forum with a few folks and one in particular wanted to learn more, so we spoke and will, by the Lord’s grace, talk again tomorrow evening. Happily I have brothers near him who can surround him and provide answers if needed.

So, remember church, the world will hate you because it hates the Lord of the Bible, the Son of God and His good news. Stay close to the vine, don’t wobble down the line and stand firm in Christ!

For His Glory,

James

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The Mouth of Babes: Silly Truth

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Over a decade ago we painfully transitioned to integrated family worship. This means that all people who are part of the family of faith, all ages, sit together under the preaching of the word of God. The first year or two it was difficult for many reasons: we couldn’t handle our children, other people didn’t know what to do about a kid who may make a noise, it was different, visitors were caught off guard…. the list could go on. But ten years later, while there are always matters to deal with along with 30 children sitting in the services at any given time and three infants on the way in the fall, we have seen so much more blessings from this decision than any of these pains would discourage us. And every now and then we see a little light and encouragement on how God teaches children in the midst of the church.

This past Lord’s day one such example was given and in my experience, it was the youngest example of “listening” I have ever seen.  My two year old daughter was doing her usual: sitting with grandparents and back and two between folks in the church trying to “talk quietly” and “listen.” Usually this is cemented with a well-placed snack. (meh).  The text for the day was 1 Thessalonians 4:15 – “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” For the introduction and then as a reminder halfway through the message (63 minutes this day), I was making the case that our natural instinct when hurt is to hurt back. I used the illustration of how our children, even at a young age reveal depravity and sinfulness even though they do not know or recognize it as rebellion. I was discussing how we are patient with them as they progress and grow and in the same manner God has been patient with us and even patient with “vessels of destruction.”  Either way, God is patient and we are patient.

I alluded to a basic expression of rebellion that most children do, the crying for no reason, the testing, looking, whining etc. and in the midst of this example my two year old looks at those around her and says, “My daddy’s talking about me.”  A low chuckle birthed from that area of the congregation and an epiphany was born. We know that God is sovereign to teach through the word and no matter what “educators” teach, God is greater than our ability to teach. The New Testament shows us that children flocked to Jesus as He taught ALL PEOPLE; and they understood Him. We learned by statements like this that children hear, listen and by the grace of God, understand. Not only was Abby listening (even though it appeared she wasn’t), she resonated with the experience of her sinful actions as they were illustrated, without the use of her name.

Remember beloved, our God is gracious and can pierce the hearts and minds of the infantile, the ignorant, the young, the old, the stubborn and the incapable. He is mighty to save and reveal even those things that are impossible to see. Scripture teaches through the mouth of Jesus that unless our faith be like the little children we cannot inherit the kingdom of Heaven. This shows us that ALL OF THE WORK of salvation is God’s doing, not man’s. Glory be to God for His faithfulness. I have hundreds of examples like this of children hearing and understanding deep things, but this is by far the youngest and I thought I would share.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor James

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Sin of Political Fodder | Unity of the Bride

Broken Idolatry

As I chime in here I actually shudder at the necessity of such writing and smirk at the lack of interest it will garner pressing against all the other noise related to the fodder of this election year. My heart though is very burdened for the sake of the Glory of the Name of Jesus Christ our God and so I write, for those small few who will read and engage the scripture on this matter so that their joy would be full, their minds at ease and their affection for the saints will be pure.

Looking at any election is like peering into the ocular tube for Anton van Leeuwenhoek at his first peek at a eukaryote. He didn’t know what he was going to see nor did he understand what he saw as he gazed. This year’s election possibilities are foreign in history, foreign in my life-time and foreign for the Church. So what does the church need to know about voting, candidates, values, morals, etc. “How would Jesus Vote?” is usually on the tip of everyone’s tongue, while not in that same query, the outcome of investigation is always the same, “what should I do as a believer this election year?”

To date, actually just this week, I have read over 30 articles, responses, rebukes, theological positions, white papers, red letters, vlogs, blogs, comments, posts and even napkin scribbles related to how a Christian SHOULD view and RESPOND to the question at hand concerning this electoral challenge.  Quite honestly I am disgusted with it all. I am tired of the undue burden placed by well-meaning people on the body of Christ. I am tired of pulpits being hijacked by lesser mundane inanity in place of sublime glory. I am labored over the souls of so many sheep who are stepping over each other in an attempt to be “right” in the eyes of God while murdering their fellow man. (1 John should come to mind here) I am overwhelmed as a pastor of the local church when I have to continually be on guard that such ready division could implode at any moment and usher a barrage of discipline and unnecessary harm. I am weary of so-called defenders of truth who in their polemics violate the basics of the faith through harassment, evil speech and hatred. As you can see I am tired of things as they are and the only reason is that it is dividing the body of Christ over matters to which the Scripture DOES NOT SPEAK.

Let the exegete stand up and use the context of divine utterance in truth instead of conveying a converted and untruthful boast while calling it God’s. Speak the truth in love for the sake of the glory of Heaven wherein lies no victory in government, national, creed or liberty. Be true to the truth of the Word of God lest God be a liar; let Christians repent of such low hearted and contrived silliness as their flesh shakes with desire to burst their opinions against the decrees of the living God. In summary, let the word of God be true and let those who handle it not twist it lest they face the judgment. God needs no help and God’s word speaks not the matter of national interests for any nation, race or ethnos. Get that and be quiet otherwise.

Therefore, for the sake of the redeemed of the Lord and our unity which is not just commanded of us but GIVEN to us through the SPIRIT, let’s look at Romans Chapter 14 and 15 and what it says about matters of conscience and let’s quit listening to each others commentary, but rather hear the exposition of God’s word so that our souls will be one.

For the sake of argument, let’s say ALL of us are right in our own eyes. That’s right, every contrary statement is true and in an absurd reality, it was permited for insanity to reign righteously. (Not going to happen but I am not here to argue your point of view as many would think.)

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. (Romans 14:1 ESV)

Look at that! I can stop now. Do not quarrel over opinions.  “It’s not my opinion!” some would say… yes it is. God’s word does not anywhere give us directives or moral commands on voting, elections, policies, social matters and the like. But the contrary, we must discern individually on these matters that are of no consequence. And yes, let the Lord send America to destruction, it’s destined to be there one day anyway, why not now? Maybe then Christians will share the faith instead of nationalism. So in Romans 14:1, if “THEY” are wrong, we are to just be welcoming. If one thinks they should vote for Snoopy, then let them. If one is convinced they should “nevertrump” so be it. If someone else is writing their own names in; great! Quarreling is SIN SIN SIN SIN SIN and is WICKED! So…. let’s look at 15:1

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. (Romans 15:1-2 ESV)

No only are we to welcome others and their different opinions, we are to BEAR with them and build them up. This is not in correction to our way of thinking. Disagree?

The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. (Romans 14:22 ESV)

So now what? This text speaks of what one may eat or drink, wear, think, decide on matters of choice. Regulate their entertainment. We know what sin is and we know what liberty is and we are NOT free to sin but are free to be at peace with God through Jesus Christ in our convictions on matters like these. For example, I think it is a very poor expression for people to dialog and put their personal information on social networks, so I don’t do it. Often times I engage in encouraging others to be careful, but I cannot say, “God prohibits the use of Facebook!” It just isn’t so. Just like I cannot say, Godly people vote for CANDIDATE X or would never vote for CANDIDATE Y. We are NOT supposed to gain others to our opinion at the cost of intimacy and unity.

Keep in mind right now that I am not speaking TO or ABOUT anyone. So if any of you reading this desire to converse, please do so. If you desire to rebuke, please do so. But be biblical about it, because I will follow the scriptures. I will talk with you about sin and I will call your pastor if it doesn’t resolve. So, OPEN RESPONSES to me should be private if they are directly respondent to this article.

Remember, there are always weak and strong arguments that come from weak and strong positions. There are differences of opinions but we are to bear with each and go along without confusion and argument. Dogma at the cost of love is worthless dogma when it isn’t dogma. Look at the next few verses in 14.

One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. (Romans 14:2-3 ESV)

Wow, we are not to be concerned with converting out brothers to carnivores or to the GOP or the SBC or to the WWJD! We are not only supposed to bear with others in affection, but we are to serve them out of affection and never hold with contempt those who seem to oppose our views. Why? Because we are accountable to the Lord Jesus Christ on these matters and will answer for them one day. We best be sure we are right while we are also not violating the commands that are clear; you know, like loving your brother, bearing with his weakness, not being divisive, not quarreling, not repaying evil, not breaking the unity of the faith… and stuff like that.

Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. (Romans 14:4 ESV)

 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14:10-12 ESV)

We best be willing to stand before God and say, “I am right and spoke on your behalf… ” with these matters, because we will be called to account on how we speak, act and interact, especially with the use of God’s word. (James 3:1) So, let’s be sure in our minds that what we desire to say and hold to is RIGHT before the Lord. Otherwise, we could be in for a grand surprise. Either way, it is our choice on the matter, not our job to change the minds of others. Remember we are talking about moral peripherals, not absolutes.. voting, not worship.  If I chose to vote one way, my wife another and my daughter to abstain, we are ALL RIGHT before the Lord if we are prayerfully acting in response to the Lord and His bearing upon our consciences. In doing so, we live AS THE LORD’S and we live TO the LORD and if we die we die TO the LORD.  The ultimate purpose in all our actions is ascribe glory to the one for whom it is due, Jesus Christ. See verses 5-9 below. These temporal things have NOTHING to do with the Kingdom of Christ. After all, man casts the lots but the Lord decides the vote. (Proverbs 16:33)

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. (Romans 14:5-9 ESV)

When we make division over these types of things we cause sin in the lives of each other. Resentment, doubt, anger, fear, frustration and many other grievances. This cannot be, it is not our lot. We should be willing to lose our rights and lives for the sake of each other, not remove each other from our lives for the sake of the temporal. (v13) The things that are clean are not forbidden. Is voting clean? Is patriotism clean? Is debating these things clean? If it is for you, then good. If it isn’t then good. (v14) We are not to exercise our conciseness and our liberties to the detriment of our affection. (v15) We are not to be KNOWN for our politics but rather the law of love in Christ Jesus Alone! Let us care more for our brother than our rights and liberties. [20] Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. (Romans 14:20 ESV)

[13] Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. [14] I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. [15] For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. [16] So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. [17] For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. [18] Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. [19] So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. (Romans 14:13-19 ESV)

See how this portion of text closes? Serving Christ, not the nation is our priority. All the lands of this world are temporal and ONLY those things which are ETERNAL remain and our siblings in Christ and His glory are eternal. We may be political “enemies” but we are one in Christ Jesus. (Sarcasm intended). Our convictions are personal, private and for dialog only when called upon. When it comes to political issues I rarely, if every, give my thoughts. But when privately asked I labor over the word of God and my prayers and express my fear in sharing them and warn the hearer to not adopt my position but rather pray and seek the Lord and whatever they decide will be pleasing to Him. Our desires should be to edify each other (v19) and to be at peace at all times and to violate our conscience, we sin; so to violate another’s, we cause them to sin.  But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. (Romans 14:23 ESV)

What I Don’t Care About

I don’t care who you vote for and why or why not you vote. God doesn’t either except that you listen to Him and His word. Neither candidate of any party is right, just look at their policies. Every candidate is right on something. There is no such thing as a lesser evil or a greater good; that’s a very childish and ignorant petition. The conscience of a man is ignored with much gravity, God speaks through His spirit (through His word) to our consciences and we best not ignore Him.

What I Do Care About

I do care about the joy of the saints, the glory of God, the name of Jesus Christ, the mission of the church (which is not to change America, but to see it die for Christ!). I do care about meanness in the name of Jesus. I do care about the love of God that is given to us so that we can love each other. I do care about the unity of the faith and the intimacy of the body. I do care about the testimony of the local church. And so should you.

Care beloved. Love as Christ has called us to love. Turn off the tele, stop the likes and frowns, tweet no more to the harm of each other. Let the world do what the world does and pray the Lord gives each of us wisdom and the next time someone comes up to sway you to their idol, just smile and thank them, encourage them, and be at peace.

Be in CHRIST beloved, trash the rest.

Pastor  James

PS. Did you catch the matter of discipline. Just to emphasize, the body of Christ should bring any who cause division in this manner under public discipline according to the word of God. That is clear… even if they are a national treasure, small country pastor, pew sitter or praise recording artist. Think a minute on that. It’s what’s at stake.

PSS. And yes, there are many opportunities for debate here, the spirit of the matter is that we must not continue in this division and we must stop allowing others to twist the use of God’s word to validate their personal convictions. Straw men do not work, they just sit and burn… that’s the point.

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The Point: A Thought on Ministry and Love

ThePointSketchAs long as there has been sin in the world there have been people with problems. Adam’s first issue was the fact that he was naked and then ashamed; Eve likewise. Since then the problems of humanity have compounded to an immeasurable proportion and it is very likely that things are not going to get better for humanity any time soon. The Good News is that Jesus Christ has suffered temptation, suffered in the flesh and risen from death and ascended into Heaven to “prepare” us for the presence of God (Among Many Things found in redemption…). So, those who know the love of God IN and THROUGH Jesus Christ ALONE can have joy in the midst of the problems. As believers, we know that all things are for our good and in time we will see the outcome of such in all circumstances. We understand that God is sovereign and that nothing is out of His touch and decree and that even in the worst of times His love for us is visible, effectual and known.

To this point then let’s remind ourselves of the love of God.  First, God is love. So, He is known as love in His nature, love, holiness, character and actions. Second, if we love God it is only because God first loved us. Third, God’s love is only known through Jesus Christ the Son whom HE (God) put forth to satisfy His judgment against us and bring justice for our sin according to His holiness. We learn that there is no greater “love” than for a man to lay down his life for a brother, therefore, God loved the world in this way (so loved) that HE gave His Son.  So, we summarize the love of God in the following way:

  1. God is love.
  2. God’s love is only known through the GIVING (sending and killing) of Jesus His Son.
  3. God loves us in the giving of Jesus Christ to die for our sins in that we cannot pay for them ourselves.

So, if we understand God’s love this way according to scripture, then we can rightly assume that to DISAGREE with God’s love through the Son is to REJECT the love of God. Those who reject the love of God are condemned already (John 3:16-18) and are subject to the wrath of God’s hatred for sin and sinners. Hmmmm….. Let that soak a minute and now let’s move to the point of our conversation.

Ministry often times is man-centered. It can been seen in a selfish light of “I want a friend”, “I want a shoulder to cry on”, “I want someone to pity me.” Of course this is not exclusive nor is it the rule but everyone can resonate with such statements. Let’s consider true ministry as “An attempt or effort to love others as God has loved us.”  Thinking this way should have already opened your eyes. So, if God ONLY LOVES in the giving of His Son, then in the same manner (like in Ephesians 5:22-25) we should love each other as God loves us. We are unable to put Jesus the Son on the cross for He has already fulfilled His ministry as the Lamb but we are able to POINT TO THE LOVE of God for us and in doing so we are LOVING each other.

Ministry takes on a whole new light when we think biblically and especially when people come with their problems.1 Thessalonians 5:14 teaches that the church should be admonished when idle, encouraged when downhearted and strengthened when weak.

Everyone needs a good ear from time to time and it is always good when a believer seeks out counsel from a brother or sister in the local family of faith. In this seeking of counsel often times it comes to the point of just listening to someone whine about how bad things are rather than seeking good counsel. In the end it is always improper (according to our understanding of love) to allow someone to just fall into pity and self-centeredness for any reason. Our love for them should point them to the promises of God through His word and in the admonishing of the idle a stern warning comes first to BE IN THE WORD and BE IN THE BODY.

Without these two things no counsel will work, no hope will stick, no joy will arise. To give someone a shoulder to cry on while they live in continual disobedience and rejection of what the scripture teaches on how they are victors is “like” casting a diamond into the sea in hopes it would swim to a new family for their wealth or maybe like throwing a pearl in a pig sty. In other words, it does NO GOOD at all to just allow someone to ignore the power of God and His gospel just to have a pity party.

The answers to life come from God’s word, the power of victorious living come from the word, hope and courage come from God’s word… grace comes from God’s word. The letter of James tells us that those who see and do the word of God are victorious and rest on a solid foundation and just like Psalm 1, their feet will be planted and produce great growth. So, when someone needs wisdom, we go to scripture and show them to “ask and it will be given.” When someone needs comfort we exhort them to believe Jesus Christ when He says, “come to me all who are weary.” When one comes broken in their battle over sin we show them that Christ has suffered in every way and with every temptation but has sinned not. Others come with worry and in need of answers to their problems that they would find an escape and Godly council says, “stand fast in the fiery trials” and “do not be surprised” when they come.

Being out of the word of God and away from God’s people is like asking God to save you from burning as you set yourself on fire. Well maybe not quite as dramatic… but you get the point. At the cusp of this matter lies the ministry of the church of Jesus Christ, who are ambassadors of the living God through the redemption that is theirs in Christ. Sadly, many who want counsel want more than what the Word of God offers or want to be free from the pain of this life and sadly apart from the Word they will never find answers.

So what is the point of this rambling treatise? For all of those who diligently minister to those in need, please remember that the greatest ministry is the ministry of the word and the greatest friend is found in the body of Christ. So as we labor to answer the questions of life for others and we point them to the word of God we put our hope in Christ not ourselves. If we find some who refuse to hear and heed the word but they keep coming back for something else, it may be that we have to just clearly show them we have nothing more for them. Part of the pain of the Father’s discipline is being alone when we reject the Father’s instruction. Not to say we abandon others but we surely have to be clear that there is little we can do to help if they will not hear.

Warn the idle, encourage the downhearted and strengthen the weak through the word of God – if they do not listen, pray that God will cause them to listen and in their silent and lonely search for hope, God the Spirit will guide them back to His written word and back into the intimacy of His Holy People!

Lord Bless!

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God is Not Mad

God is Not Mad

Along US 25 in Waynesboro, Ga, Maranatha Community Church felt it was a good idea to post this sign. The message seems to be that God is never mad at anyone for any reason. The sign is clearly visible from the highway although best visible to northbound traffic. It is a permanently constructed, not easily changed sign, obviously constructed to last for a long time. For me this sign symbolizes for us the weakness and collapse of the evangelical church.

Examining it in the light of scripture, you can find that this sign is just flat contrary to scripture. If you look at Rom 1:18 it says “For the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteous of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness”. Later in this chapter we learn that this refers all people who are not Christians. Thus we learn that God IS mad at all people for all sort of reasons. So this sign is a false teaching and a deceptive and false prophecy.

Now you could say, well, we’re just talking to Christians here. After all, Christians are not under the wrath of God (1 Th. 5:9). If that is so, then the sign should have been qualified so as not to be misleading. It should say “God is not mad at CHRISTIANS …” but that is not how it is written. It is also not placed so only Christians would see it. We therefore have to conclude that the intended audience is everyone passing by on US25.

If the objective, then, is to encourage “seekers” to enter the church with the idea of then giving them the true gospel, wouldn’t that be a bait and switch? If you are going to ultimately present them the gospel of sin, condemnation, Christ’s sacrifice and repent and faith, this would seem to start off in a deceptive direction which would make you look like a liar and turn people off immediately.

Now I know nothing about Maranatha Community Church, but it would seem that the sign is an actual expression of their belief and that they want to encourage unbelievers to come to their church with the promise of inclusion and acceptance of them no matter what their state or mode of life. The call might be “we don’t care what you are or what you do, we offer you the peace and acceptance of Christ. Come join with us! We don’t care if you an LGBTQ or if you are mafia hit person or a drug abuser, come join with us and received the acceptance of Christ!” If true, this would be a denial of the Gospel which calls for people to die to themselves and become slaves of Christ. The people who would compose such an assembly while they call themselves a church would in fact be an effective denier of Christ and thus an anti-Christian assembly.

This is what Schaeffer spoke of in Death in the City. Church, knowing the truth, have turned away from it. They propose externally focused religion, rejection of the Word of God, toleration for specific sins, and adoption of the world’s practices as the way to go rather than following the Word of God. In so doing the ministers trample God’s vineyard, scatter the sheep, distort and misuse God’s word. This not only leads God’s people astray, it also creates the wrong impression of God and His requirements in the hearts of people. This results in a diluted/destroyed witness and a lack of influence on society. As more and more assembly’s adopt this kind of teaching, the churches are weakened and polluted and the world receives more and more reason not to pay attention to it.

Schaeffer’s solution is to preach the true gospel, live the true Gospel and to call out those who are distorting the Word and misleading the people. Again, not knowing anything about Maranatha Community Church but that sign and what it means, we call on them to either correct that sign to represent a true statement or to take the sign down altogether. We further indicate to all people on the authority of the Word of God, that that sign does not represent what God would have us to know about Him and our relationship to Him.

Dr. Cuellar can be found on Facebook

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where to find

a helpless soul dark

finding life not found where to

his hope found i am

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A Rant & A Revelation

Made in God by Christ Jesus

I often peel through forums looking for vintage chess sets. I love to play, am teaching my kids to play and next school year will start a chess club with our local Christian Educator’s Association. Recently looking for a specific period style I have noticed several auctions online that state: “Vintage/Antique Authentic French Regency, Mid 18th Century: Authentic.” And while each title is different the gist is the same, they want the buyer to see the auction, consider it real and pay them money for the merchandise. If you don’t know what you’re looking for you could pay $50 for a chess set worth $5 and in some cases for high-end collectors (of which I am not) you could pay $40K for a chess set worth $5. If you don’t know what you’re looking at, it is easy to be duped.

One such auction caught my eye today and after several minutes of examining the seller, messaging back and two and seeing several pictures, I asked for a specific picture of the bottoms and sides of several pieces and the box. To my surprise the pictures came over and what in bright gold foil did I see? “Made in Taiwan” clearly marked the bottom of two kings and the box. While I am not opposed to Chinese manufactured merchandise, at this juncture I was discussing an authentic antique item that looked very much real until the mark of the maker was noticable. After making reference a few times with the seller, it came to light that he actually bought the set thinking it was authentic in order to make a profit. Sadly, he was burned, and while he had a very nice set to play with, it was not worth his buying price nor his asking.

So, this set me on a small internal rant of how people take advantage of so many so often for profit. Then it hit me, in some way many people who are “among” the church do the same thing. They look, talk, dress, act, schedule and appear to be born of God but in reality the stamp of their origin is hidden. They are not God’s but rather they belong to the world, the flesh, the culture, the enemy. Eventually, just like in the case of the chess set, the truth of the origin is made clear. So often people continue to hang around God’s people so that they can feel better, get more personal affection, be provided for and put on the appearance of Godliness but in the end they deny the power of God because they walk away from the faith that was never theirs to begin with. As they depart we can see that they were not made by God to be righteous in the image of His son, but are indeed still in the world.

Where this could go in application is continual and never-ending. So, I’ll leave it right here for all of us to ponder.  A good place to consider is John 3, John 6, Hebrews 6 and Hebrews 10 along with 1 John etc. etc. etc.  The fruit of God’s faithful salvation is able to be seen but it is not salvation as many of the worldly and lost can put on the garments of acting and often times believe that they are the genuine article. God preserves His people until the end; are you standing fast in the confession of the hope in Christ Jesus? I pray so.

For His Glory,

Pastor James

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Hearing & Knowing the Spirit of God

Preparing to teach a short course on God the Holy Spirit, I came across and older excerpt from Ferguson on John Owen entitled, “The Trinitarian Devotion of John Owen“.  Ligonier posted the excerpt in 2015 and today I share it with you in summary.

As it is, many protestants are absent in knowledge of the Spirit and have no real access to understand His nature and working and thus ignore and misapply much. Likewise in different scale, some place the “acts” of the Spirit as foremost in evidence and both groups would do well to discern that the Spirit of Truth is opposed to the Spirit of Error.  Owen suggests that the believer needs to discern the difference between the Serpent’s leading and the Holy Spirit’s leading.

Here are short summaries of Owen’s thoughts:

The Regulum

This is the RULE of SCRIPTURE and is the guiding canon of how one is to discern the Spirit. God the Spirit will never change the “rule of life” but rather He works to give understanding on the “rule of Scripture”.  So any leading that is not consistent with the Word of God is not the leading of God the Spirit.

The Non Burden Commands

The rule of Scripture completes the believer and doesn’t employ undue or “grievous” pain when obeying Christ, but the believer who is “submitted to the Word will find pleasure in obeying that Word, even if the Lord’s way for us is marked with struggle, pain, and sorrow.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

The Order

2 Samuel 23:5 reveals that God’s covenant is orderly and certain, ergo, the working of the Spirit are also orderly. A spirit of love, order and a sound mind are hallmarks of God’s spirit which are opposite of disorder and “restlessness”.  “We see some poor souls to be in such bondage as to be hurried up and down, in the matter of duties at the pleasure of Satan. They must run from one to another, and commonly neglect that which they should do. When they are at prayer, then they should be at the work of their calling; and when they are at their calling, they are tempted for not laying all aside and running to prayer. Believers know that this is not from the Spirit of God, which makes “every thing beautiful in its season.”

Glory of God

Dr. Ferguson states this properly, “The “motions,” or promptings of the Spirit, Owen says, always tend to glorify God according to His Word. He brings Jesus’ teaching into our memories; He glorifies the Savior; He pours into our hearts a profound sense of the love of God for us.”

How, then, does the Spirit act on the believer? The Spirit comes to us as an earnest, a pledge, a down payment on final redemption. He is here and now the foretaste of future glory. But His presence is also an indication of the incompleteness of our present spiritual experience.

Owen here writes in sharp contrast to those who spoke of release from the influence of indwelling sin and struggle through the liberty of the Spirit. Precisely because He is the firstfruits and not yet the final harvest, there is a sense in which the indwelling of the Spirit is the cause of the believer’s groaning: “We ourselves who have the firstfruits of the Spirit groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:23) The presence of the Spirit brings us already a foretaste of future glory, but also, simultaneously, creates within us a sense of the incompleteness of our present spiritual experience. This, for Owen, is how communion with the Spirit—understood biblically—brings joy into the life of the believer and yet a deep sense that the fullness of joy is not yet.”

In the end brethren, the Spirit is God and He does all things in accordance with the nature and character of God. Be blessed, encouraged and empowered by the glorious working of our God. You can get this resource by clicking the book below.

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