isis

While there are many political, religious, ethical and moral thoughts and points of view on the matter of ISIS, we all know that murder is evil. I do believe though that for Christians, that is all who are Born of God in Christ Jesus, we have a bigger hope than stopping the killing of Christians. It is a good hope to want this to stop, but it is also contradictory to the promise of God for His people. Scripture is replete with examples and certainty of suffering and martyrdom, especially for those true Christians who stand in opposition by their lives and worship against a way of life that is wicked.

So, let’s hear God’s voice on some areas that we need to be careful not to forget:

  1. That this is not new. Christians have been slaughtered for millennia and it should be expected. (2 Tim3; 1 Peter 4)
  2. There is no power under the sun that can stop it. Only the preaching of the gospel can change the heart of man. There is no possible remedy apart from God recreating a murderer into a new life. So we must pray, not “politic.”
  3. Let’s not forget that the evil or martyrdom is not greater than the evil of murder. This includes the killing of the unborn, the ignoring of the ill, mentally ill, or elderly and also the gossip from the mouths of many as they slander their neighbors and their enemies.
  4. Recognize that even in the darkest hour, martyrs of Christ are “like” their Savior as Paul proclaims that he desires to “fill up what is lacking in the suffering of Christ.”
  5. Those who are dying by the sword are not begging for their lives but just as it began with Stephen in Acts 7, it continues today as those who are preparing to die are really preparing to live as they pray for their oppressor’s souls. After all, Paul did the same thing when God saved him.
  6. It is an honor to be killed for the faith, even though it is evil. Acts 5:41 shows that the disciples rejoiced that they were worthy of being beaten for the sake of Christ. This is surely crazy! Yes.
  7. Praying not just for the Christians, but for the gospel to go out. God uses martyrdom to SHAKE the trees of harvest as He did in Jerusalem in order to bring the gospel to us…
  8. Praying and loving our enemies is one of the KEY evidences of regeneration. If we hate ISIS, we do not have the love of God in us. Period.
  9. Let us not think for a moment that this will not happen to true Christians in our nation. It will if time tarries. The question is will it be our ISIS persecutors or our so-called Baptist brothers who take off our heads? The true church does what is necessary to continue to preach the gospel in obedience to Christ, even at the cost of death.

Much more is in my heart to share, but time has put an end to my pen.  Let’s leave with God’s sovereign word to guide our thoughts on the above list.

Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And

“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (1 Peter 4:16-19 ESV)

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. The saying is trustworthy, for:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—

for he cannot deny himself. (2 Timothy 2:1-13 ESV)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48 ESV)

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. (Romans 12:14 ESV)

Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus. (Acts 5:41-42 ESV)

For His Glory by His Grace,

Pastor James Tippins

Catholic Colloquium

In an attempt to be focused and maintain a biblical standard through which I speak, I want to make certain of my purpose in this writing.  I want to disclose the futility of worldly means to a biblical end in relation to marriage, suffering, joy and affection.  Today, the “Humanum” convened at the Vatican, “The Complementarity of Man and Woman: An International Colloquium is a gathering of leaders and scholars from many religions across the globe, to examine and propose anew the beauty of the relationship between the man and the woman, in order to support and reinvigorate marriage and family life for the flourishing of human society.” This gathering of leaders appears to be an attempt to collectively establish a sense of beauty and awe for the “biblical” picture of marriage between a man and a woman.  While these efforts are commendable in one respect, the nature of these “Inter-faith” dialog has me somewhat concerned. (OK, more like a lot).  I readily counter however that I trust in the awesome and sovereign power of God, who before the world began had intentions for such a meeting.  So my faith isn’t discharged or waning by my record here, but rather, my record is for the sake of the body of Christ to have pause to consider the implications.

So that I am not guilty of assuming what is not supported with evidence I will elect to do several things:  First, I will not endorse or rebuke any member or attendee of the colloquium for each participant in his own conscience will be held to the judge of all men.  Second, I am not negating the necessity of a good dialog on marriage and the nature of why so many young women today (referencing today’s speeches from Latin America) are nearly in complete despair that there is any hope of a life-long marriage with a good man.  Third, I do not want to appear insensitive to people of other faiths or theologies, but I am speaking from a strictly Christian (Biblical) perspective on this topic.  Fourth, I am only going to use what is provided in source from the colloquium’s pages rather than make inference from what may seem “ideal” and “obvious” information.  Fifth, I hope to engage my readers in their journey of celebrating the gospel of Jesus Christ, not tear down the efforts to support marriage.  Sixth, my aim is remove myself and my congregation from any support for such a dialog in the name of “religion” or “Christ” or the “Church” or “people of faith”, “community of faith,” or the like.  Seventh, I will make obvious statements for recollection and do my best to keep commentary from the writing.  However, when pressed, I will preach.

On the about page of the Colloquium one can find the sponsorship or organizers listed very clearly.  The site states:

The Colloquium is sponsored by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and co-sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and
 the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

At first glance one may glaze over this, but let me point out a few things that the church should consider:

  1. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in short is the same “official” group that founded the inquisition.  The contemporary purpose of the group is to, “spread sound doctrine and defend those points of Christian tradition which seem in danger because of new and unacceptable doctrines.”
  2. The Pontifical “Councils” for family, interreligious dialogue and promotion of Christian unity are all councils of the office of the Pope or “Pontiff”.  The history of the Papal office reveals that the office of Vicar (replacement of Christ) is the Pontiff (bridge builder.)  This means that the one overseeing the mission of these councils considers himself the representative or bridge between God and man.
  3. Family, interfaith dialog and Christian unity are all very good things, but one must readily ask, “does my understanding of scripture allow for a human mediator to man and is that a matter of faith that I can be in unity with?”

Now I want to look at the mission of the meetings.

The Complementarity of Man and Woman: An International Colloquium is a gathering of leaders and scholars from many religions across the globe, to examine and propose anew the beauty of the relationship between the man and the woman, in order to support and reinvigorate marriage and family life for the flourishing of human society.

  1. What do “religions” have to do with marriage? As Christians we are readily and with great precision taught that the marriage is the first institution created by God to portray the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Do all faiths believe this?  Do all faiths follow the Apostolic teaching of Ephesians 5 when Paul clearly teaches that marriage points to “Christ and the church?”  What “leaders” have any thoughts that would align with biblical authority on this matter as it relates to the points in discussion in “examining” and “proposing” [anew] the beauty of “marriage” (the relationship between the man and the woman.)
  2. Does this language of “relationship between” actually indicate marriage or is this an attempt to avoid marital discussion at all?  Does the scripture not declare enough doctrine about these things in Ephesians, Colossians, 1 Corinthians etc.?  Is this conference really about marriage or an attempt to appease the heat given to Francis on his views on marriage?
  3. When did marriage need “support” from world leaders, religions and the like?  The support of marriage is only found in Christ who fulfills the purpose and presence of marriage to begin with.  When did the gospel become unable to “reinvigorate marriage?”
  4. Is family life successful through the reinvigorating of marriage so that human society can flourish?  IF so, then how can these discussions “propose anew” that which is already been examined by God who created it?  Is there anything but the gospel that will reveal the power of God in marriage, family and society?  Would the “plurality” of these discussion find “unity” when there is obviously not unity?

Now some thoughts.  I pray that these words find you understanding that this is not a slap at the intent, but as the adage goes, “the road to hell is paved” with the intents of good men.  (meh.)  While marriage has been preached is it practiced by the church?  I think that if it was, there would be no need to invite “protestant” leaders to such talks as these.  So, in the first place of a batting lineup, let’s make sure that the church “Holds marriage in high honor” (Hebrew 13:4) in both sanctity and picture.  No discussion of this manner is going to make a difference and I pray that maybe one of God’s warriors will proclaim the word of Christ on this matter and God would herald this throughout.  Either way, God’s will be done and His word will go forth for His purpose.  Now some thoughts:

  • Although I respect every man’s desires, I think there is something grave at work when “leaders” share a stage who are not in unity where the purpose is to find unity.
  • Although many can be unified on the matter’s of marriage and its beauty from a world’s point of view, the church knows the purpose and power of God’s provision in marriage, so heretical views on the gospel create heretical world views on marriage and vice versa.
  • Although opportunity could present itself for discussion and gospel-powered rebuke and correction on doctrine (inclusive of marriage), this colloquium is presented in mass media style with marketing to boot.  So it is far short of any personal dialog.
  • Although I appreciate good debate and discourse, I believe the reformers would flip over in their graves to see such a thing, being they gave their lives to combat such blending of beliefs for the sake of any common good.
  • Although the desire to see marriage built, it won’t be by making it pretty again internationally, it will only be by preaching the one true gospel which by design condemns ANY other gospel.

Now to the how.  The site details in quick prose what will happen:

Witnesses will draw from
 the wisdom of their religious tradition and cultural experience as they attest to the power and vitality of the complementary union of man and woman. It is hoped that the colloquium be a catalyst for creative language and projects, as well as for global solidarity, in the work
 of strengthening the nuptial relationship, both for the good of the spouses themselves and for the good of all who depend upon them.

Let’s take a look at the design.  First, notice that the speakers are called witnesses, I make this point so that if you look on the site you will understand.  In some sense, I shudder to think why that word is used and because I do not know for certain, I will not assume.  I believe a witness however, is one who proclaims what is seen.  So, I would personally consider a witness (speaker) one who proclaims in “unity” what is being said among them.  It most likely asserts the “wisdom” and “experience” of each witness and they impart such to the group who will “examine” and then “propose.”  In like manner, here are some things that the church of Jesus Christ should consider:

  1. Wisdom does not come from religious tradition.  The scripture says that Jesus Christ is our wisdom (1 Cor 1:24) which is the reality that birthed my blogging in the first place (Being Wise and More Stupid) in 2006.  So, is there anything good to come out of what even the most sound theologian could offer in wisdom for the picture and beauty of marriage?  The same would go for cultural experience.  Even the weakest of debaters know that appealing to these measures is surely fallacious.
  2. The previous experience and wisdom is stated to allow these witnesses to “attest to the power and vitality” of marriage.  If marriage (man and woman) is so powerful and vital, then why is it under examination as a problem?  I just don’t understand this.  Is this attestation just personal experience with their own marriage?  What if it is failed?  What if it isn’t?  How does this make for global change on the matter without the gospel as the core of the purpose of marriage in the first place?
  3. Being a catalyst is good if the means are coming to an end that is profitable.  For the sake of argument, what if this gathering produced “langage” and “projects” that just turned the world on its head for the sake of biblical marriage (not on the table btw) and everyone never divorced and anything but biblical marriage disappeared.  So what?  What good is making something look better than it really is? What good is a society who considers itself righteous on this issue when in reality it is the suffering marriages that endure through the covenant of God’s grace that matter.  It isn’t about happy-go-lucky utopic unity.  It’s about truth whose name is Jesus Christ and that is really what is at stake here.
  4. Strengthening the nuptial relationship is not possible without knowing what the nuptial relationship is.  It is a microscopic picture of a microcosmic reality of Christ and His church!  What can come out of hearing all of these witnesses who will proclaim everything from one end of the spectrum to the other except further divorce from the true faith?
  5. Please remember my initial statements. I am not being insensitive here.  But those who depend on good marriages would be whom?  Each other, the children, the family, the neighbors?  What does that look like?  What does that even mean?  I ask sincerely with no sarcasm.  I cannot imagine something more drawn from the heart of the purpose of marriage than to put the focus of marriage on the happiness of the ones engaged and related to it.  Marriage is about dying for the good of another who doesn’t deserve it. (See Banner of Truth Article Here)

Much should be said in this matter, but to close I share my thoughts in question as to what this all means for many of us:

  • From these discussions may come some good truth, but will this be seen in the light of truth vs. error or “everyone’s together.”  If it is the latter, we, the church, is in trouble.
  • What do we do when leaders from Evangelical churches who have surely rebuked Francis’ doctrinal errors sit in assembly with him and others who malign Christ and the Word of God?
  • Will this cause further unrest among Baptists especially?  What about Jews? What about the Mormons on the panel? What about the Buddhists?  Yes, all these and more are represented among this convention, so what will come of it?
  • Should conviction arise, do churches write letters, remove themselves from the missions arm of associations, or just implode?
  • What takes place when the world looks at this and then becomes bewildered even more?  Are we to just say, “the god of this world has blinded their eyes?”
  • Isn’t there more important areas to put our time and talent?  More areas of interest on holy things and the things of salvation and the souls of the lost?
  • Will this conversation be used as a ploy to break down truth or a plow to create a harvest?

I have hundreds more questions and I am seriously praying and waiting to see what it is that God has called for in such a gathering.  I readily admit that it disturbs me and more so that some of my peers are there.  I look forward to hearing what they have to say and by God’s grace I pray I will not enforce my back seat ministry upon their convictions, however, I do say that the church of Jesus Christ should be separate from apostasy.

In the end, marriage is only about Christ, not us, not society and it is not for us to consider and propose.  It is not for the state to mandate, it is not for the government to approve.  It is the picture of God’s election of His chosen people who are the bride of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ.  May God have mercy upon mercy upon mercy… and He does.  Hold fast church, pray with me and let’s see just what next steps may need to be.  I pray that the church would be in unity, sadly some brothers would rather go to the Vatican among cults than fellowship locally due to doctrine. (That’s personal)

For His Glory By His Grace,

Pastor James

dunce-cap

In the Explanation and Defense of All the Articles, Martin Luther exclaims, “It seems I must have liars and villains for opponents. I am not worthy in the sight of God that a godly and honorable person should discuss these matters with me in a Christian way. This is my greatest lament.”

When considering his statement, it precisely expounds upon my heart in recent years, when, so-called well meaning brethren have made it their intent to disarm the people of God and His gospel by slander, murder and remorseless counsel. (James 4:11)  While much attention has been given to speculation, lies and the like, little attention has been given to the care and affection of God’s people, His holiness, and the Gospel of His Son and certainly no argument has been given for the sake of correction and unity of the faith. (Titus 1)

I want to encourage the Body of Christ to listen to His word, see it and quit being slaves to fodder, pundits, and the puke of offense given from the mouths of sinful men, but rather exult in the lovingness of God and His mercy in our souls.  (1 John 4) Let us all arise to the occasion to place holy things and God’s affection toward the lost as the utmost of our existence and let us be known for our humility, truth, biblical fortitude, true worship and most of all, the glory of the name of our Father from our lives.

Remember we are either the body, or we are cancer among the body.  Which is it? Beware the sounding bells of seemingly Godly men. Be a lover of truth, not an idiot of words.

Peter’s words summarize a familiar REALITY of God’s children. Test yourself as I test myself and carry the burden of the call to test everyone who speaks in the name of Christ by His measure: His holy word.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:3-11 ESV)

Be blessed in His glory of His amazing grace!

Pastor James Tippins

caged childrenAre you Born Again?  The gravity surrounding this question is unmeasurable and should be taken very seriously.  In many conversations I find people usually come to this question at some time in their life as Christians.  Whether it is because of doubt or a concern over sin or even a concern over someone else who seems to be slipping from the faith.  While many have given some true wisdom on this subject from God’s word, today I want to focus on “ONE” element of true salvation that will be certain in the hearts and lives of all the children of God.

Jesus says that there is a law that summarizes the fullness of His entire nature, His essence, and His worth when He says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40 ESV)  To know and desire such a law in one’s heart is proof that he is born again.  On the other hand, disdain toward these laws is proof that one has the spirit of the devil, not the Spirit of the Lord.  This is proven in many places throughout scripture (John 13:34; Philippians 2:3-4; 1 John 4:7-21; 1 John 4:11; 1 Cor 13:13; James 2:14-17; Matthew 5:43-48; 1 Peter 4:8-9) and talks about serving, giving, suffering, dying, and giving up rights for the sake of others.

Scripture teaches that if one confesses a love for God but has no love for his brothers and his enemies, then that one is a liar and has nothing but a fear of judgment.  Now, so often we can argue what love looks like and say, “well, I do love folks, but…” when in reality we love the “but” more than the people.  This is proven because we would rather hate our neighbor so we can secure our right to have our microwaved popcorn.  Maybe that is too harsh?  Maybe it is just too true for some folks.  When so-called Christians are blinded by self-preservation and are unwilling to lose everything they have for the sake of their enemies, then they are either living in rebellion or darkness.  One could argue these are two in the same.

So, the utmost outward test of true salvation is that one has a heart for others; particularly those who are in need, unable to fend for themselves, hungry, running for their lives, being killed and given up for power and greed.  When Christians see people anywhere (btw, there are more people in other parts of the world than there will ever be in the US) they have heart for them and their internal desire is to die for them that they might know the great unsurpassing love of God who stepped out of Heaven to die for the sins of His people.

How can we tell if we love people?  Well, here are a few thoughts:

  1. Do we love them in our passions?  Are we able to see a burden and draw toward others, no matter their circumstances, and a desire to give of ourselves fully for the sake of others?
  2. Do we love them in our prayers?  If we love others we are prayerful for them.  We plead with our Father to help them and even ask God to put us “outside” the camp in order to do what is necessary.
  3. Do we love them in our purse?  What I mean is that it takes nothing for an abundance to be given away, but what about when all we have is what we absolutely need?  Remember the rich young ruler and remember the widow’s mite.  Love is love when it’s sacrifice.  It’s all God’s anyway.
  4. Do we love them in our purpose?  Are we caring more about “us” than “them”?  Do we see God moving opportunities for ministry, Gospel-sized ministry and think it to be a burden that would “IMPOSE” on our lives?  If so, then we are not loving.
  5. Do we love them in our presence?  Do we care enough to “be there?”  Do we care enough to not just say and pray but to also ‘stay?’
  6. Do we love them in our politics?  We do know that ALL the children of God are in ALL the world right?  Then why would we ever close our doors to anyone seeking to be with us, especially those running from harm?
  7. Do we love them in our pride?  Do we love people who are or could be our siblings in Christ and take “pride” and honor toward them as our own body?  No one hates his own body, but nurtures it and protects it, just as Christ does for His bride.

What do we do now?  We pray for God to heal us of our pride, reveal our sinful and selfish hearts and praise Him for saving us from ourselves, our dreams, our ego, our idols and our hatred.  God loves us and we do love others.  Church, one day this nation will die and the only nation that will remain is a nation of priests from every tongue and tribe.  We need to think to that end.  So often people who claim Christ want to stand up against laws that hurt the unborn but when they “are” born, they need to be viable or they are worthless.  Well, I am thankful that my God, who knew I was worthless, saw fit in His mercy to save me, an immigrant in the faith, an enemy of the King, a traitor to the crown who was helpless and blind and dead.

To all my brothers and sisters in South Africa, Russia, India, China, Mexico, Canada, America, Brazil, Afghanistan, Palestine, Israel, and elsewhere, know that the God of Heaven doesn’t shut you out of His kingdom, for He is righteous and His people do not shut you out either.  I am glad that those for whom we pray in foreign lands are willing to be felons for the sake of the gospel.  I wish in place where it was legal to be faithful, people would.  But hey, that’s how God works in the first place; when we are left to ourselves, we perish.

Praise Him for His glorious grace!

Pastor James Tippins

 

The Goodness Of God endureth continually” (Ps. 52:1). The goodness of God respects the perfection of His nature: “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). There is such an absolute perfection in God’s nature and being that nothing is wanting to it or defective in it; nothing can be added to it to make it better.

He is originally good, good of Himself, which nothing else is; for all creatures are good only by participation and communication from God. He is essentially good; not only good, but goodness itself: the creature’s good is a superadded quality, in God it is His essence. He is infinitely good; the creature’s good is but a drop, but in God there is an infinite ocean or gathering together of good. He is eternally and immutably good, for He cannot be less good than He is; as there can be no addition made to Him, so no subtraction from Him (Thomas Manton).

God is summurn bonum, the chiefest good.

The original Saxon meaning of our English word God is “The Good.” God is not only the greatest of all beings, but the best. All the goodness there is in any creature has been imparted from the Creator, but God’s goodness is underived, for it is the essence of His eternal nature. As God is infinite in power from all eternity, before there was any display thereof, or any act of omnipotence put forth; so He was eternally good before there was any communication of His bounty, or any creature to whom it might be imparted or exercised. Thus, the first manifestation of this divine perfection was in giving being to all things. “Thou art good, and doest good” (Ps. 119:68). God has in Himself an infinite and inexhaustible treasure of all blessedness enough to fill all things.

All that emanates from God—His decrees, His creation, His laws, His providences—cannot be otherwise than good: as it is written. “And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). Thus, the goodness of God is seen, first, in creation. The more closely the creature is studied, the more the beneficence of his Creator becomes apparent. Take the highest of God’s earthly creatures, man. Abundant reason he has to say with the Psalmist, “I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well” (Ps. 139:14). Everything about the structure of our bodies attests to the goodness of their Maker. How suited the hands to perform their allotted work! How good of the Lord to appoint sleep to refresh a wearied body! How benevolent His provision to give the eyes lids and brows for their protection! So we might continue indefinitely.

Nor is the goodness of the Creator confined to man, it is exercised toward all His creatures. “The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing” (Ps. 145:15-16). Whole volumes might be written, and have been, to amplify this fact. Whether it is the birds of the air, the beasts of the forest, or the fish in the sea, abundant provision has been made to supply their every need. God “giveth food to all flesh, for his mercy endureth forever” (Ps. 136:25). Truly, “The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD” (Ps. 33:5).

The goodness of God is seen in the variety of natural pleasures which He has provided for His creatures. God might have been pleased to satisfy your hunger without the food being pleasing to our palates—how His benevolence appears in the varied flavors He has given to meats, vegetables, and fruits! God has not only given us senses, but also that which gratifies them; this too reveals His goodness. The earth might have been as fertile as it is without being so delightfully variegated. Our physical lives could have been sustained without beautiful flowers to regale our eyes, and exhale sweet perfumes. We might have walked the fields without our ears being saluted by the music of the birds. Whence then, this loveliness, this charm, so freely diffused over the face of nature? Verily, “His tender mercies are over all his works” (Ps. 145:9).

The goodness of God is seen in that when man transgressed the law of His Creator a dispensation of unmixed wrath did not at once commence. God might well have deprived His fallen creatures of every blessing, every comfort, every pleasure. Instead, He ushered in a regime of a mixed nature, of mercy and judgment. This is very wonderful if it be duly considered; and the more thoroughly that regime is examined the more it will appear that “mercy rejoiceth against judgment” (James 2:13). Notwithstanding all the evils which attend our fallen state, the balance of good greatly preponderates. With comparatively rare exceptions, men and women experience a far greater number of days of health than they do of sickness and pain. There is much more creature-happiness than creature-misery in the world. Even our sorrows admit of considerable alleviation, and God has given to the human mind a pliability which adapts itself to circumstances and makes the most of them.

Nor can the benevolence of God be justly called into question because there is suffering and sorrow in the world. If man sins against the goodness of God, if he despises “the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering,” and after the hardness and impenitency of his heart treasurest up unto himself wrath against the day of wrath (Rom. 2:5-6), who is to blame but himself? Would God be “good” if He did not punish those who ill-use His blessings, abuse His benevolence, and trample His mercies beneath their feet? It will be no reflection upon God’s goodness, but rather the brightest exemplification of it, when He will rid the earth of those who have broken His laws, defied His authority, mocked His messengers, scorned His Son, and persecuted those for whom He died.

The goodness of God appeared most illustriously when He sent forth His Son “made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal. 4:4-5). It was then that a multitude of the heavenly host praised their Maker and said, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). Yes, in the Gospel the “grace (Gr., benevolence or goodness) of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11). Nor can God’s benignity be called into question because He has not made every sinful creature a subject of His redemptive grace. He did not do so with the fallen angels. Had God left all to perish it had been no reflection on His goodness. To any who challenge this statement we remind him of our Lord’s sovereign prerogative: “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?” (Matthew 20:15).

“O that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men” (Ps. 107:8). Gratitude is the return justly required from the objects of His beneficence; yet is it often withheld from our great Benefactor simply because His goodness is so constant and so abundant. It is lightly esteemed because it is exercised toward us in the common course of events. It is not felt because we daily experience it. “Despisest thou the riches of his goodness?” (Rom. 2:4). His goodness is despised when it is not improved as a means to lead men to repentance, but, on the contrary, serves to harden them from supposing that God entirely overlooks their sin.

The goodness of God is the life of the believer’s trust. It is this excellency in God which most appeals to our hearts. Because His goodness endureth forever, we ought never to be discouraged: “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and he knoweth them that trust in him” (Nah. 1:7).

When others behave badly to us, it should only stir us up the more heartily to give thanks unto the Lord, because He is good; and when we ourselves are conscious that we are far from being good, we should only the more reverently bless Him that He is good. We must never tolerate an instant’s unbelief as to the goodness of the Lord: whatever else may be questioned, this is absolutely certain, that Jehovah is good; His dispensations may vary, but His nature is always the same. (C. H. Spurgeon).

Burned out PastorIt never fails, every few weeks I get to sit down either over coffee or on the phone with a brother-in-arms in the Gospel ministry who is ready to throw it all away and quit.  “Walking back into the world seems like the only hope I have to stay alive” one said to me recently.  Another pointing out how he just cannot go on taking the negative and thankless hatred that is spewed to his face and about him week after week.

It’s time to consider what makes a man go to the desperate end to consider walking away from what God calls him to do until his heart stops beating.  I’ve never really written about this, but boy have I lived and dealt with it many times over.  As a matter of fact, I have actually written a resignation letter more times than I can remember, the glory of it all, is that I have never printed them out and turned them in.  Thank God for His grace.

“Burn Out” is one thing, continuing to “smoke” is another.  As I entitled this post I thought some people would take this and run with it, we’ll see; however, when a pastor “burns out”, he often doesn’t even have the option of taking up smoking, because it would just belabor the problems in his life.  And when ministry knocks you down and there is hardly any breath left in your lungs, you are now just blue, but beaten to a pulp – I digress.

Really though, burn-out for the pastor is something that all too often comes quickly and smothering to the point that he is unable to overcome the pain, even if he remains, and becomes disqualified to shepherd himself, must less any flock of sheep.  As I think about these seasons in my past and know that there might well be such a season right around the corner, I think about Paul’s teaching to Timothy where he said, “preach the word in season and out of season.”  I know Paul was not lying here, but I can honestly say I have never seen an “in-season” for the word of God in many congregations.  Although one can see many in seasons in the lives of individuals and those who hunger passionately for God’s truth, as a whole, the bodies in the pews are not usually ready for the truth of God’s word.  So thinking through the seasons of a pastor’s life, I think it’s a big and constant “out of season” lesson that we must endure.

Well, I hope this helped, have a great life…

Now if I had ended this article there it would have been a mess.  So, as I move forward, I want to make very clear a few things.  There are reasons a man feels burnout and some of them can be man-made or God-made.  In this context, if a pastor, who is called of God to proclaim the Gospel of Christ and shepherd the body of Christ to maturity and love is doing everything but what God has called him to do, he has reason to be burned out because he is a wasted life.  On the other hand, sometimes proclaiming and pushing the truth to light brings some external and internal struggles that brings the frustration to a boil.  I want to mention a few things, obviously not exhaustively, that might help such a man get his bearings. Continue reading “Depression | Burned Out and Smoking… | Dealing with Ministry Blacks and Blues”

Since before the election it seems that everyday I hear something positive or negative about President Obama.  First, I must say that I have never in my life of 35 years known of someone so famous and infamous at the same time.  People love him or hate him.  In this light, I have a few observations from a biblical world view based on some of the comments I hear.  If you are not a believer and are reading this, it was written for the ears of those with a world-view that is formed completely on scriptural truths, so it is not an argument for debate but statements for the sheep.

This post is also not a condoning of pacifism.  People should discern and stand up for truth, even protect the innocent against harm and fight for freedom as long as possible if needed.  However, our thinking must be transformed in order to fall in line with scripture, even on these matters.  As for when, and how we should stand up for truth, that will be in later posts.

I am tired of hearing that Obama is the anti-christ.  First, if you just read the scripture as it should be read, you won’t see a final world-power leader who is the incarnate seed of Satan.  Satan does not, nor will he ever have creative power, that belongs to God and to say that the enemy can do what God can do, well, that’s the spirit of the anti-christ.

Obama is not the savior of the country, must less the world.  This man, no matter who he might be, is not going to solve the problems of the world.  The very nature of people, even Christians, that have this idea and voted for him because of this hope flies in the face of scripture, violates the first commandment and makes the cross a joke at best. (If there is such a thing as best in this group.)

Scripture teaches that God is sovereign and no one else.  God himself orchestrates the saving of the world and points that salvation to the church alone.  There is no hope for the world at large less they repent and believe in faith in Christ to save them, period.  So why is it brother/sister, that we have allowed a man to take away the providential hope of our God who created the president as a person and an office in the first place? For those who hate Obama, let me let you in on a little truth:

Romans 13:1-2 (ESV)
1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

Obama is God’s man for America.  Plain and simple.  If you don’t believe this, then take it up with God, not me.  It’s one thing to disagree, hold to what is good or stand for truth, but to blatantly have hatred in our heart is nothing short of evil and is not showing worship to God because it does not show faith in God’s plan and God’s man who is in the White House.  So when someone goes against the government to suit their fancy, they are actually resisting God Himself.

On a matter of clarification:  This does not mean that we are to be stupid, Christians are to be discriminating (discernment) against policies and laws that violate truth of scripture.  For example, it is murder to kill children, the elderly or mentally ill.  It is also sinful for the government to take care of people’s medical needs and/or retirement.  The Christian dependence on the government in the US is the primary reason that so many Christians have lost hope in God – so put that shoe wherever it might fit.  It’s one thing to oppose sinful things by refusing to vote for them, sharing the glory of God in light of them and refusing to participate, but its another thing to desire harm, destruction or take up arms in rebellion.  There is no mandate in scripture for this type of action.

For those Christians who love President Obama, great, we all should.  However, if your hope is in him listen to the word of in Deuteronomy 6:5 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”  This couples with the command to have “No other gods…”  So when your hope is in Obama, it is NOT in God and that my friend is idolatry.

In the essence of the ultimate purpose of America and the church in the world, let’s close with this:  America, by its very birth, is a land of sin and rebellion.  We rebelled against the King of England and declared independence which violates Paul’s teaching to the Romans.  Sorry, but this is truth to the core.  So, America being a land of rebellion and a land of ‘rights’, we are reaping the very seed we have sown from the very foundations of our nation.  Personal idolatry.

The scripture is clear that our purpose is to give glory to God by reflecting His nature.  (Matthew 6:33)  The church is to show the manifold wisdom of God and display His glory to the universe by surrendering their rights to the cross and their lives to the call of God.  We are not here in America so that we can be a people.  As Christians, we are first defined as a believer in Christ, a royal priesthood and holy nation and then can be described as American because it is where we live.

As believers, our hope is in the cross of Christ, not the government, its laws or money.  America’s purpose in God’s scheme is to show His glory and righteousness.  Either through repentance from idolatry and self-fulfilling living, or through judgment where His holiness will be vindicated.  May our prayer for America be found in Psalm 106:8 Yet he saved them for his name‘s sake, that he might make known his mighty power.  Let us pray that for ourselves and our people.  Otherwise we have this to look forward to:

“‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
10 Make the heart of this people dull,
and their ears heavy,
and blind their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”
11 Then I said, “How long, O Lord?”
And he said:
“Until cities lie waste
without inhabitant,
and houses without people,
and the land is a desolate waste,
12 and the Lord removes people far away,
and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.
13 And though a tenth remain in it,
it will be burned again,

Soli Deo Gloria, James Tippins

When you think of accountability, most of the time it doesn’t ring true for your thoughts on church life. Well, that could be furthest from the truth. First of all, let’s define the term. Accountability is an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions. You might ask, “What actions? What responsibility?” Exactly! That is the problem with people who call themselves the ‘church’ and don’t have a proper understanding of what being the body of Christ is all about.

A true believer should have several thoughts when it comes to being accountable.

  1. A true believer in Christ should desire accountability with the rest of the body.
  2. A true believer in Christ should be a partner for others in this area.
  3. A true believer in Christ should expect to be held accountable for their lives in all areas, not just ministry.
  4. A true believer in Christ does not shy away from biblical mandates.

So, are you in the right ‘frame-of-mind’ for this issue?  If not, then let’s fix that by using the final authority of scripture to answer what and how accountability is to be in the church and most importantly, why.

Being accountable as believers to each other is a requirement of the changed life.  Without someone to ‘view’ us in our living, how will we know for sure if we are even believers?  John states in his first epistle, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.”  These are strong, deliberate words that show a true condition by which one will have the full knowledge of their salvation.  Notice he did not say, ‘gain’ salvation, but that we ‘know we have come’ to salvation.  What is it?  It’s obedience.  What is that you might ask?  It means doing what is required for holy living in Christ.

Obedience is not the means by which we are saved, but it is the primary fruit of a saved life.  It doesn’t mean that we are going to never sin or that we are not going to desire to sin, however, a believer does make WAR against this desire and sinful living.  If we don’t, we are not true believers.  This is where accountability is so important.  If one is a believer, then he or she will desire holy living and desire help in the journey.

Accountability also helps us evaluate our focus and gives us a real picture of our motives.  If we are to live a life of grace by faith in Christ alone, then our lives must be producing fruit of that change.  This is not something that we do but something that God does in us.  God is the giver of life and He does the work of regeneration, as Paul states, we are saved by faith not of works so that no one can boast.

So this grace does its work through the power of God and in turn, we see the work of God in our lives. Which is a desire to be like Him!  So regularly talking and being open about our journey in Christ performs its duty by making sure our faith is for real and not just head knowledge, but that God has truly made us into a new creation.

Hebrews 3:12-13 (ESV)
12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.
13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

In the end, the purpose of our lives together is to glorify God in all that we do, especially our daily lives.  As we live together in this world to do this, we must exhort, encourage, rebuke, teach and plead with each other to run, fight and make war against the sin in our lives.  Failure to have the heart to repent shows that the Spirit of God was never truly active but that we, for a moment, just wanted to live better lives in our own power.  This is why we must work together for the fight to finish the race.  Otherwise we will fall away having never known Christ who is the advocate for our Holiness.

Accountability as a believer with someone gives you the privilege and the power to stay focused on Christ-centered living.  We have the ability to be truthful about our struggles, tell someone to pray for us and  to pray for others.  We are able to see how God is growing us as others will see that fruit way before we do and we will begin to learn that partnership in the body is a sign of health in Christ.

When we practice accountability willingly in our lives, there is never a reason for church-wide discipline or the removal of someone from church membership.  It’s only when we turn from truth and being truthful in our lives together that requires the body to purge one from its ranks that sits to uphold the flesh and its desires which is the nature of Satan rather than the nature of the Father which is light!

Today has been a hard day already. I find a homeless woman this morning eating out of the trash and trying to find pennies on the ground that she might buy herself food. The brokenness by God’s Holy Spirit over this woman’s condition was more than I could bear. I quickly went into a local restaurant, bought a gift card and gave it to her before she left the area. On the way home from taking the children to school, I received an email that gave the grave news of a dear life-long friend of the family who is terminal. There are not words to express the pain of knowing and seeing suffering in this life, but there are even fewer words and feelings and ways to express the pain of knowing that those who are hungry and sick need much more than food and healing.

Something that God has truly been showing me is that a dead man has no control over his life, he’s dead. In the same way if the dead are to be alive, they must rely on something or someone else for resuscitation. The Gospel of John gives some understanding of God’s mighty work and great love and mercy in regards to bringing dead, blind and depraved souls to life so they might have life and eyes of faith.

There are two types of people in life, those who have been saved by the Grace of God and those who are not saved. Are you saved? This is the question that we should ask ourselves daily. Is Christ your treasure, is He your all sufficient, satisfying everything or are you looking to make off with something better? Does your heart yearn for another lover, a better life or more success? Do you desire to become something great in this life? Does the word of God bore you or are you disinterested in learning and growing? If you are able to answer yes to these questions outside of Christ being your all, then there are two truths: One, you are lost and have no relationship in Christ evidenced by your lack of passion and heart for Him and His word! Two, you are saved and are grieving the Holy Spirit and daily wonder about your salvation becoming more and more frustrated in life.

Either one of these situations are a type of death. Spiritual death in the first in that the judgment of God remains on you because you are not saved. Is God calling you to repent and trust in Christ’s finished work on Calvary’s cross? Are you grieving the Spirit and therefore have lost your joy, your hope and need to repent and come to the mercy seat? Come to Christ by faith today, no matter which place you find yourself.

The sad truth in everyone’s life is that even when we are fed and healed, we will be hungry and sick again. The only true hope is eternal life, everlasting hope that is found only the Gospel of Christ! God takes the dead and gives them life, he takes what is old and worn without hope and gives it new birth. May God do this work in your heart today. May we stop looking at the temporal and earthly or fleshly answers and begin to feast upon Christ as our eternal treasure, not our ‘map’ to eternal life.

John 1:9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.