Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Perspective on Prayer

“Remove relational prayer from the center, and every other kind of prayer goes bad. Worship becomes blasphemy—we reduce God to our errand boy; He’s there to serve us. Thanksgiving becomes a disguised expression of entitlement—we thank God for what we think He really should have given us anyway. Intercession is rooted in self-interest—we plead with God on behalf of family, friends, government, and church leaders with our purposes and comfort in mind. And petitions, even apparently legitimate ones such as loved one’s salvation or a child’s health, are fueled by the energy of a demanding spirit. We hear ourselves presenting reasonable requests to God. He hears us whining like spoiled kids, “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” We have no controlling thought of advancing God’s kingdom or of enjoying our privileged relationship wit the King.”

Larry Crabb, The PAPA Prayer, 33

Friday, October 31, 2008

Two of the Greatest Questions

If you had the opportunity to meet Jesus Christ in person, what questions would you ask Him? Would you ask him about the passing of a love one? Or would you ask Him why He allowed certain things to happen to you in your life? Maybe you have a perplexing question from His Word that you have been unable to resolve? One theological dilemma for me is how to balance election and free will. We should not be afraid to ask these questions that surface from our hearts. While they leave question marks on our soul, they bring us to the point where we become unsatisfied with the world’s answers. Deep inside each one of us these questions drive us to a source greater than ourselves to find these answers.

In Acts 9, we are given the opportunity to hear the questions of a man who met Jesus Christ face to face. With arrest warrants in hand and a burning passion to quench the so-called Christian movement, the Apostle Paul travels to Damascus to hunt down and arrest anyone who professes the name of Jesus Christ. Hot on the trail on these believers, little did Paul know that it would be Jesus Himself who was on Paul’s trail. We find their encounter in Acts 9:3-4, “As he (Paul) was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’”

I cannot imagine what was going through Paul’s mind at this time, but I am certain that it forever changed his life. From this point forward, Jesus transformed Paul’s zeal from hunting down Christians to hunting down Gentile unbelievers for the cause of Christ. I believe that his transformation happened over two of the greatest questions in the Bible. We find these questions in Acts 9:5-6. Paul’s first question is “Who are you, Lord?” (Acts 9:5) and his second question was “What will you have me to do?” (Acts 9:6).

These are two greatest questions that you will ever ask and will spend a lifetime answering them. Each one of us will eventually give an answer for the first question: “Who are you, Lord?” To some, he is just another prophet or a historical figure from the past. Others will argue that he is an example of how we are to live. Though these are accurate answers, Jesus did not come primarily to be a historical individual or an example of morality. He came to be the Savior of the world. Man is incapable of earning salvation because of his sin. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

God has provided a solution to us. That solution is Jesus Christ who bore all of the sins of the world and satisfied the wrath of God. When we acknowledge our sin and despairing condition without Christ, we come to the cross and accept what He has done for us, that is, He paid the penalty for our sins. We ask Him to be our Lord and Savior, and immediately we receive eternal life. Again, the Bible clearly states, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

The other penetrating question that we must ask is “what will You have me to do?” There is no greater question that you will need to ask than this one posed by Paul. Paul’s great assignment would be called to declare the gospel of Christ to the Gentiles. What will your mission be? God has uniquely designed each us for a particular purpose, and we will never find fulfillment in this world greater than the fulfillment of serving Him. We are left here on earth to become ambassadors for Christ sharing with others who Christ is and what He has done for us. How will you answer these questions?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Claire as a Green Bay Packer cheerleader!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Release What's Good

Author Larry Crabb says that we Christians often communicate to each other one of these two solutions: “Do what’s right” or “Fix what’s wrong.”Instead, the New Testament holds up a better way: “Release what’s good.” What’s good is the Holy Spirit, already living in us, with all the resources of God at his command.

Philip Yancey, Reaching for the Invisible God, 177.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Constant Renewal

Remember the popular bracelet WWJD (What Would Jesus Do)? It was a vivid reminder to the one who wore the bracelet the actions, words, and thoughts of Jesus. When the individual was tempted to view something on television or in a magazine, the bracelet would prompt the person to think about whether Christ would spend time viewing the material. If the person was tempted to respond with anger or vengeance because of some offense, the bracelet would invoke Christ’s response in Luke 6:27-29, “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” I am not sure how effective the bracelet was for the wearer since I have never worn one, but the concept was created to exhort people to think about Christ throughout the day.

I have found a similar concept with my wedding ring. On my wedding day, I received a James Avery ring with the Hebrew inscription from Song of Solomon 2:16, “My beloved is mine, and I am hers.” During the day when I am at work and away from my wife, I wear the ring with the Hebrew letters facing me so when I look down I am reminded that my heart and soul belongs to my wife. When I arrive home, I turn the ring around with the Hebrew letters facing away from me to remind me that I am with my beloved. I’ll be the first to admit that I am a little quirky, but something as minute as turning my wedding ring constantly renews my vows and commitments to my wife.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

How will you make God famous?

Usually when you hear about ordinations, you typically think of doctrinal questions or statements such as the following: “Give me your position on Calvinism versus Arminianism.” Though such questions were asked during our deacon ordination on Sunday, the greatest question to the candidate was, “How will you make God famous in your life and the church?” Wow! As I listened to the candidate’s answer, I left the room wondering how do I make God famous.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Some pics from our vacation...

We took a few days last week to visit Pittsburgh for a short vacation and enjoyed seeing a couple of friends from Dallas. In addition to looking at the historical sites downtown, Claire enjoyed her time at the Pittsburgh Zoo.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What is evangelism?

Scott Dawson writes, “A majority of believers in this country do not have enough confidence in their knowledge of their faith to share it with another individual. Could it be that we have assigned evangelism, which is the natural outflow of knowing Christ, to an elite of believers who have achieved something special? My fear is that programs that were developed to enhance evangelism have now elevated evangelism to a level that intimidates most believers. Evangelism in its purest form is me sharing with you what Christ has done in my life” (Scott Dawson, ed., The Complete Evangelism Guidebook, 13).

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Presenting the Gospel to Children

Nothing excites me more than hearing the laughter of children ringing through the halls of North Hills. During our Vacation Bible School we have been celebrating the number of children who have come to hear about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As I walked through the hall of our educational wing, I was reminded of Jesus’ rebuke to the disciples when he reprimanded them, “Permit the children to come to me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14). So many people see children as a nuisance. I admit that it takes a lot of work to work with children. Just this week I have been bit on the arm, tried to soothe a crying child who wanted his mom, kept a child from heading wandering down the hill behind the church, attempted to outrun several kids in a foot race (note the word attempted!), and had many of them jumping on my back for a ride. Let’s us say that my body is not like it used to be.

However, imagine the impact that one can have in a child’s life just by spending a few minutes with him or her. I wish that I had someone who would have spent time with me when I was young and rambunctious. More than just having fun with these children which I believe is a bridge to reach them, I believe that the greatest impact that we can have is to present and model the gospel before them. Tonight I will have that opportunity. During last night’s festivities, a lady visited our church looking for some financial assistance. This divine appointment gave me the opportunity to present the gospel to her. So I asked, “How do you know that you are a Christian?” She replied, “Because I have lived the Ten Commandments?” Listening to her response forced me to realize how the gospel is not clear in people’s minds. If the gospel is not clear to this adult I can only imagine how muddled the gospel has been presented to these children. This leads me to my questions: “How do we present the gospel clearly to children?”

Monday, June 16, 2008

Being a Parent

I gave you life, but cannot live it for you.
I can give you directions, but I cannot be there to lead you.
I can take you to church, but I cannot make you believe.
I can teach you right from wrong, but I cannot always decide for you.
I can buy you beautiful clothes, but I cannot make you beautiful inside.
I can offer you advice, but I cannot accept it for you.
I can give you love, but I cannot force it upon you.
I can teach you to share, but I cannot make you unselfish.
I can teach you respect, but I cannot force you to show honor.
I can advise you about friends, but cannot choose them for you.
I can advise you about sex, but I cannot keep you pure.
I can tell you about alcohol and drugs, but I can't say "No" for you.
I can tell you about lofty goals, but I can't achieve them for you.
I can teach you about kindness, but I can't force you to be gracious.
I can pray for you, but I cannot make you walk with God.
I can tell you how to live, but I cannot give you eternal life.
I can love you with unconditional love all of my life...and I will.
~Author Unknown

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Father's Day


· The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades.
· Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat.
· Car mechanics tell you the truth.
· Same work, more pay.
· Wedding dress $5000. Tuxedo rental - $100.
· One mood all the time.
· A five-day holiday requires only one suitcase.
· You can open all your own jars.
· You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness,
· If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can still be your friend.
· Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack.
· You only have to shave your face and neck.
· You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt.
· You can "do" your nails with a pocket knife.
· You can do your Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24th in 25 minutes.

No wonder men are happier!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Let the Redeemed Say So

Redemption. At the heart of the word is the idea of paying a price to release something or someone from slavery. The people of Israel understood this concept when they remember the Lord delivering them from the Egyptian stronghold. The Exodus is a vivid reminder to every Jew that they have been released from captivity. It is recorded in Deuteronomy 24:18, “You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and that the Lord your God redeemed you from there.”

Things did not change in the New Testament. Under the thumb on Roman rule, the people of Israel were looking for their Messiah to come and deliver them from their bondage. They anticipated the day when their Redeemer would come to restore them to their rightful place among the nations. These are physical reminders of a spiritual bondage that we all face. Each of us is a slave, but we have a Redeemer who has come to set us free.

Within the pages of the Old Testament we find a small book which illustrates redemption through a person. The book is Ruth. The person is Boaz. In Ruth 3 Naomi encourages Ruth to go to the threshing floor, wait until Boaz has eaten and drunk, and slip next to his feet when he has laid down to sleep. When Boaz has fallen to sleep, she uncovers his feet and lies down next to his feet. Notice the interchange between Ruth and Boaz in verse 9. “Who are you?” Ruth replies, “I am Ruth your maid, so spread your skirt over your maid, for you are a close relative.” Don’t miss the beautiful image here. There is nothing immoral or dishonest going on here. Ruth is making a suggestion to Boaz. She is saying, “I am available to be your wife.”

Any Jew would have vomited at the thought of marriage with a Moabite. How dare she propose such a thing? Moabites were from an incestual relationship. They were no friends of the Jews. In fact they were not allowed to enter in the temple of God to the tenth generation. However, here find Ruth the Moabitess asking to become a member of God’s covenantal family. How? Faith. She demonstrated her faith in the God of Israel when she told Naomi “your God will be my God.” Through her faith, she is not looked at as a Moabite but as a child of God. It amazes me that God has chosen to allow us to enter into a covenant with Him through His Son Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Church Website

Check out our new website. Visit us at northhillsbaptistchurch.org.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Call of the Soldier

“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.” 2 Thessalonians 3:6

We can look to the writings of the apostle Paul to understand the importance of powerful and relevant words. When words are used that people can connect with, the message has a way of penetrating hearts as shrapnel from explosive devices. In the letter to the Thessalonians, Paul uses the military language to enforce the urgency of his message. You will notice the multiple use of the word “command” in chapter three (3:4, 6, 10, 12). The use of the word refers to the authority of a military superior as he issues out orders to their subordinates. Paul picks up this image to instruct the Thessalonians to become a soldier for Jesus Christ.

We are commanded to become soldiers of Jesus Christ. Paul gives us two commands from these verses to follow: fall in and follow orders. The first command that Paul gives to us is to “keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life.” The Greek word “unruly” refers to a soldier who has gone AWOL and has abandoned his post. We are to avoid the person who has forsaken his assignment. I know several individuals who have received a dishonorable discharge from the military. Even to this day I am told that employers will look unfavorably on individuals who have this mark on their record. Paul tells us not to follow after those individuals who have broken the ranks of the Christian armed forces. We are to fall in and report for duty every day and not be swayed by the actions of others who are not faithful in reporting to duty.

The second command that Paul gives is to “keep away from every brother [who does not live] according to the tradition which you have received from us. Paul is referring to the apostolic teaching that has been handed down from disciples. I remember the first time when my brother Dean joined the Navy. His preparation and training took place at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center right off Lake Michigan near Chicago. The last image that I had of Dean was a hefty 6’3” young man with long hair. The recruits were allowed to call home when they arrived but could not call again until the end of the boot camp. Dean was given several packs of literature to prepare when he arrived at the Naval Center: training booklet, drill and ceremony booklet, literature on ranks, and Navy Core values. He was instructed to study and memorize certain sections of these booklets. Dean was excited. My mom and I traveled to Chicago to see Dean graduate from boot camp, we were amazed to see how much he has changed. He was so thin. My mom almost did not recognize him. As we talked we learned all that he went through: the first thing that he was taught when he arrived was to stand at attention (stand there and not say a word unless someone asks you a question), took his clothes and was issued Naval fatigues, and followed medical and physical procedures. He said that the first three weeks were the toughest. He had to learn how to fold his clothes, polish his shoes, lessons on professionalism and courtesies, take swimming tests, etc.

As I thought about Dean’s recollection of what he went through, I am amazed of the parallels between his experience and ours in the church. We too must be prepared with the Word of God if we are to go into battle. And there is nothing more that the enemy would love to do is to distract you from the Word of God. He loves to downplay its importance in our lives and cause us to trust in other things that the Bible. Not only are we commanded to fall in, but also to follow orders.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Written by the late Erma Bombeck after she found out she had a fatal disease.

If I Had My Life To Live Over
by Erma Bombeck

If I had my life to live over, I would have talked less and listened more.I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.I would have cried and laughed less while watching television - and more while watching life.I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner."There would have been more "I love you's".. More "I'm sorrys" ...But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute... look at it and really see it ... live it...and never give it back.

© Erma Bombeck

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

First Revival

I conducted my first revival a couple of weeks ago. Pastor Tommy Mills of Pleasant Hill Baptist, Steubenville, OH, extended an invitation for me to come and speak in their church. This was my first revival, and Pastor Tommy prefers revivals that continue the whole week not just through Wednesday. I enjoyed the opportunity of sharing God’s Word with them and the pleasure of meeting some fine folk living in Steubenville. Thanks.

Those of you who are not familiar with Steubenville, OH. It is the home of Dean Martin and the town is considered the “mural” capital of America.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Jesus, the Son of ....

Why am I shocked? Except to wonder where do people find their ideas? I wonder where these theories are concocted…during a dream? On a drug binge? Creativity at its worst? Have you heard the latest scandal in the life of Jesus? That’s right! A scandal. Director Paul Verhoeven has written a biography on the life of Jesus. He reports that Mary was raped by a Roman soldier during an uprising which resulted in the birth of Jesus. See "Jesus was the Son of?!"

Call me naïve, but I am amazed by the things that people will write with no shred of evidence or basis. However, after reading that Verhoeven was affiliated with the Jesus Seminar, now I realize how people begin on slippery slopes. When people begin to question the foundation of Christianity, then we will eventually throw the proverbial baby out of the bathwater.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Claire's First Birthday

Last year this time, we were up half the night trying to soothe a new born. One thing has changed! She's now a year old. Here are a few pictures of Claire's first birthday. Both of our parents came to Martietta to join the festivities. While the grandparents enjoyed spoiling her with their love and time, Nicole and I enjoyed a few nights out on a date. You parents will understand.

Poppa's favorite girl:

Claire and Aunt MiMi:

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Ruth 2:20 “Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, ‘May he be blessed of the Lord who has not withdrawn his kindness to the living and dead.’” I will be teaching from this verse on Sunday on the meaning of grace. Now I know that there is an exegetical problem in the text: “who is the antecedent of the pronoun, who?” Is Naomi referring to the Lord or to Boaz? Either way I believe that God is demonstrating His kindness to Naomi through Boaz. Indeed God is grace, but He chooses to use you to convey His grace.

There are so many ways that we can demonstrate God’s grace to others. When the world sees us serving and ministering to our community, our acts should represent the grace that we have received from our Lord. Joseph Sittler defines grace this way: “The fundamental meaning of grace is the goodness and loving-kindness of God and the activity of His goodness in and toward creation.” How has God shown grace to you? How are you showing it to others?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Muscle that Needs No Gym!

There are two things in life that you can never retrieve: lost time and spoken words. These two entities are forever gone. Once you miss an opportunity in time, that moment fades into the past. Though there may be similar opportunities in the future, that particular opportunity at that moment has passed. That opportunity was ripe with its moment in time, yet one can never retrieve it again. Likewise, spoken words can never be revisited. Once words have been spoken, the possibility of taking them back is gone. To retrieve spoken words is like “letting out water,” (Proverbs 17:14), it is impossible to gather it together again.
What a vivid reminder to us about our speech. The Bible admonishes us about the use of our tongue and its influence on others. Whether we believe it or not, our words carry a lot of weight and power. Just ask yourself the last time you were encouraged or discouraged by someone’s words to you. Solomon was wise when he correctly noted that “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21). How do you pepper you speech? Does it build or tear down?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Christian Community

“In confession the break-through to community takes place. Sin demands to have a man by himself. It withdraws him from the community. The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous is his isolation. Sin wants to remain unknown. It shuns the light. In the darkness of the unexpressed it poisons the whole being of a person. This can happen even in the midst of a pious community. In confession the light of the Gospel breaks into the darkness and seclusion of the heart. The sin must be brought into the light. The unexpressed must be openly spoken and acknowledged. All that is secret and hidden is made manifest. It is a hard struggle until the sin is openly admitted. But God breaks gates of brass and bars of iron (Ps. 107:16).”

Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Here is not here...

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him. Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. They were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?" Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large. Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed. And he said to them, "Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. "But go, tell His disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.' "

Mark 16:1-7

Thursday, March 13, 2008

When is Spring Coming?

That is the 64 million dollar question. Last weekend we experienced the heaviest snowfall since we have arrived in Ohio. We received about 4-5 inches of snow. I am not complaining. At least we are not living in Columbus who received a record high of 20.4 inches of snow. Over the last few days we have experienced several days of sunshine but still cooler temperatures. Because my family arrived here in Ohio in November (the beginning of the winter season), it has been a long winter for us. We have been told that Marietta is a beautiful town in the spring with the foliage and flowers. We are waiting…

Here are a couple of pictures of Marietta across the Ohio River.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A Recommended Book...

One of my friends from Dallas, TX has recently published a book on the teachings of Jesus Christ. The title is self-evident: What does Jesus Say About…Christ Speaks to Us Today. Though I have not bought a copy (yet!), I would like to recommend this book to you based on my knowledge of Cecil Price. During my years in seminary, I witnessed Cecil spend many hours of diligent research and study in the library halls of Dallas Seminary. I know that he has poured his time and energy into giving his audience an accurate and helpful resource on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Indeed Christ does speak to us today. For more info on Cecil’s book, see the following website: Jesus Christ Speaks.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Is it as Easy as Baking a Cake?

Discovering God’s will for your life is not as complicated as we make it out to be. We all have been engaged in conversations about God’s will, and most of walk away from the conversation more confused than before. One of the first Bible studies that I joined when I became a Christian was Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God series. One of the most unforgettable insights that I drew from my study was Blackaby’s point that God takes the initiative to reveal Himself in our lives. That was such a drastic change from my perspective. I was thinking that I needed to be out there (somewhere) hunting down God’s will for my life. I was looking for a roadmap, but I found out that God’s will is wrapped up in a relationship. Often we see God as this Cosmic Being playing hide-and-seek with His creation. After studying the Scriptures and checking my conclusions with other writers who have thought longer and harder on this subject than I, I have come to the conclusion that we do not seek God, but God seeks us. He longs for us to know His will. I am fond of the way that Ray Pritchard puts it, “If you want to know what Discovering God’s Will is for Your Life is all about, here it is: God wants you to know his will more than you want to know it, and therefore he takes personal responsibility to see that you discover it…The secret of knowing God’s will is the secret of knowing God; and as you get to know God better, he will reveal his will to you” (Discovering God’s Will is for Your Life,19,32).

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Are we truly loving one another?

Since the beginning of the year I have been teaching an expositional study through the book of Ruth on Sunday mornings. Last Sunday we examined Ruth’s relentless and untiring devotion to her mother-in-law Naomi. Her poetic words resound with commitment and loyalty:

But Ruth said, "Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me." (Ruth 1:16-17)

To experience the flavor of her words, you must remember the context of Ruth. She is a Moabite widow and living in a patricentric society. Unlike our culture where women possess value and worth, Ruth’s culture was a male-dominated society. Women found their identity only within a realm connected to a man. When Ruth decided to take this leap of faith and follow Naomi, she is facing a life of possible rejection. Not only will she be despised by the Jews, but she has rejected her family, people, and religious roots.

Trible aptly writes, ““Ruth stands alone; she possesses nothing. No God has called her; no deity has promised her blessing; no human being has come to her aid. She lives and chooses without a support group and she knows that the fruit of her decision may well be the emptiness of rejection, indeed of death. Consequently, not even Abraham’s leap of faith surpasses this decision of Ruth. And there is more. Not only has Ruth broken with family, country, and faith, but she also has reversed sexual allegiance. A young woman has committed herself to the life of an old woman in a world rather than search for a husband…One female has chosen another female where life depends on men. There is no more radical decision in all the memories of Israel. Phyllis Trible, A Human Comedy, 173.

I wonder how many times you and I have ever been this dedicated to another person. I must admit that I am a fragile person with many scars. Past relationships have taught me lessons about totally trusting and giving myself to another person. I have been bruised and hurt so many times that I refuse to allow anyone to get that close to my heart. I do not mind being transparent, but am I really vulnerable. How often do I really share my heart with another person? Unless you come to this point in your life where you love someone else more than you love yourself, I dare say that you have truly loved.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

George Mueller: Prayer Warrior

One of the mightiest men of prayer of the last generation was George Mueller of Bristol, England, who in the last sixty years of his life (he lived to be ninety-two or ninety-three) obtained the English equivalent of $7,200,000.00 by prayer. But George Mueller never prayed for a thing just because he wanted it, or even just because he felt it was greatly needed for God's work. When it was laid upon George Mueller's heart to pray for anything, he would search the Scriptures to find if there was some promise that covered the case. Sometimes he would search the scriptures for days before he presented his petition to God. And then when he found the promise, with his open Bible before him, and his finger upon that promise, he would plead that promise, and so he received what he asked. He always prayed with an open Bible before him.

-R. A. Torrey on George Müeller

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Coming Home Empty

She said to them, "Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.”I went out full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lrd has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?"

How many of us would be this brutally honest in our Christian walk?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Jehovah Witnesses: Another form of Christianity?

Related to the Word of God
* Jehovah Witnesses (JW) teach that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, but they argue that the Bible can only be interpreted properly by the Watchtower Society.
* The Bible teaches that the Word of God is “inspired by God…” (2 Tim 3:16) and was written by “men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:21).

Related to the Person of Jesus Christ
* JW teach several things about Jesus Christ: 1) He was just a perfect man; 2) He existed in three stages (Archangel Michael, the man Jesus of Nazareth, and the new, recreated (not resurrected) Michael); 3) He is “a God” but not “the God;” therefore, Jesus is not coequal and coeternal with the true God.
* The Bible teaches clearly teaches the deity and resurrection of Jesus Christ. John and Paul taught that Jesus was fully God (John 1:1; Colossians 1:9-20; 2:9). Jesus even taught that he was an agent in his own resurrection (John 2:19-21).

Related to Salvation
* JW teach that salvation is based on the death of Jesus Christ but with stipulations. Based upon which class you are in will determine the method of salvation. Each JW, including the 144,000, must earn his or her salvation through good work and merit.
* The Bible explains that man’s righteousness and good work are like “filthy rags” (Is 64:6) and describes man as an enemy to God unable to “please God” (Rom 8:7-8). The Bible is clear—there is no salvation given to man except through Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).

Related to the Trinity
* JW reject and deny the teaching of the Trinity. JW argue that there is only one God who is limited to a specific location.
* The Bible teaches that each Person of the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is eternally God in person, nature, and being.

Related to Man
* JW teach that man was created by God but denies any teaching that man was created in the image of God. Because man is not an immortal being, death is a final annihilation of the body.
* The Bible teaches that man was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). God designed man with intelligence, will, and emotion and designed him to have an eternal relationship with his Creator.

Related to Afterlife
* JW do not believe in an eternal hell. All bodies of unbelievers will be annihilated. JW teach that the true followers of Jehovah will be recreated and either reign with Him in heaven or remain on earth.
*The Bible teaches that hell is a place of “eternal destruction, away from the presence of God” (2 Thess 1:9) and is described as lasting forever (Isa 33:14; Matt 25:41, 46).

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Touch of the Master's Hand

'Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
But held it up with a smile.
"What am I bidden, good folks," he cried,
"Who'll start the bidding for me?"
"A dollar, a dollar. Then two! Only two?
Two dollars, and who'll make it three?"

"Three dollars, once; three dollars, twice;
Going for three..." But no,
From the room, far back, a grey-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening the loosened strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet,
As a caroling angel sings.

The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said: "What am I bid for the old violin?"
And he held it up with the bow.
"A thousand dollars, and who'll make it two?
Two thousand! And who'll make it three?
Three thousand, once; three thousand, twice,
And going and gone," said he.

The people cheered, but some of them cried,
"We do not quite understand.
What changed its worth?" Swift came the reply:
"The touch of the Master's hand."
And many a man with life out of tune,
And battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd
Much like the old violin.

A "mess of pottage," a glass of wine,
A game -- and he travels on.
He is "going" once, and "going" twice,
He's "going" and almost "gone."
But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
By the touch of the Master's hand.

-- Myra Brooks Welch

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

I love this Book!

This book contains: the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrine is holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be saved, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter. Here heaven is open, and the gates of hell are disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. Follow its precepts and it will lead you to Calvary, to the empty tomb, to a resurrected life in Christ; yes, to glory itself, for eternity.

John F. MacArthur, Jr.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The World's Greatest Lie

“What’s the world’s greatest lie?” the boy asked. “It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.”
—Paulo Coehlho

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Is Mormonism another form of Christianity?

Related to the church.
* LDS (Latter Day Saints) believe that the Mormon Church is the only true church on the earth and claim that all Mormons have the authority of the priesthood.
* The Bible teaches that the church exists both in a locale and universal form (Matt 16:15-19; Eph 2:19-22).

Related to the Word of God.
* LDS believe that the Book of Mormon was originally written 1500 years prior to being given to Smith; therefore, the book has a spiritual origination. Mormons claim that the Book of Mormon is another testament with a fuller and complete revelation.
* The Bible teaches that the Word of God is “inspired by God…” (2 Tim 3:16) and was written by “men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Pet 1:21).

Related to Jesus Christ.
* LDS teaches several things about Jesus Christ:
1) Jesus was created and is the “first born” Son of God.
2) Jesus provided immortality for every person.
* The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ was virgin born and is God incarnate. He existed in all time with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the eternal Trinity. Jesus possessed two natures- human and divine (John 1:1-18; 8:56-59; Col 1:13-22).

Related to salvation.
* LDS believes that Jesus’ atonement provided immortality for all people and man receives this immortality through good deeds which are part and parcel of one’s standing before God.
* The Bible explains that man is saved entirely by grace through faith “not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph2:8-9).

Related to the Trinity.
* LDS teaches that there are three separate Gods.
* Though the word Trinity is never used in the Bible, both the OT and NT express diversity within the Godhead. The NT expounds further on these Three Persons, the Bible teaches that each Person is eternally God in person, nature, and being.

Related to man.
* LDS teaches that men are preexisted spiritual offspring of the Heavenly Father.
* The Bible teaches that man was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), but was not created as a god. We were uniquely created by a God who has given each of us dignity and worth.

Related to sin.
* LDS teaches that man has disobeyed God and His commandments, and as a result of disobedience, man has lost his immortality.
* The Bible teaches that man chose disobedience and therefore rejected God (Rom 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10).