Tuesday, December 31, 2013

HE ALWAYS MAKES THE FIRST MOVE

“We can never take God by surprise. We can never anticipate him. He always makes the first move. He is always there ‘in the beginning’. Before we existed, God took action. Before we decided to look for God, God had already been looking for us. The Bible isn’t about people trying to discover God, but about God reaching out to find us.

Many people imagine God sitting comfortably on a distant throne, remote, aloof, uninterested, a God who doesn’t really care for our needs and has to be badgered into taking action on our behalf. Such a view is completely wrong. The Bible reveals a God who, long before it even occurs to men and women to turn to him, while they are still lost in darkness and sunk in sin, takes the initiative, rises from his throne, lays aside his glory, and stoops to seek until he finds them.”

— John Stott
Basic Christianity

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Thoughts

Missionary vs. Consumer



It’s impossible to be a consumer & a missionary in the same neighborhood. We must choose whom we will serve, ourselves or others. By serving ourselves we reveal our atheistic sinful hearts. By living for others we show the goodness, glory, and great supply of our all sufficient God.

As followers of Jesus we have been freed of the burden of consumerism because we have been given all we need in Christ.

Jesus modeled this perfectly! For he was able to freely serve us, because all he needed on this earth came from his relationship with the Father. [John 4:32]

In turn, as we live surrendered lives in Christ we live devoted lives as servant missionaries in our neighborhoods. For this is what it means to light the world, for they shall see the brightness of our God through our dependence on his abundant supply.

This light is not shown through earthly means like money & status. But heavenly means like selflessness & sacrifice. It’s as they see us choose others over ourselves that they see the hope we have through King Jesus.
_________________________________________________________________________________

I found this on the internet. I do not know who penned it but I like it:

"Jesus said several times, “Come, follow me.” His was a program of “do what I do,” rather than “do what I say.” His innate brilliance would have permitted him to put on a dazzling display, but that would have left his followers far behind. He walked and worked with those he was to serve. His was not a long-distance leadership. He was not afraid of close friendships; he was not afraid that proximity to him would disappoint his followers. The leaven of true leadership cannot lift others unless we are with and serve those to be led."

_________________________________________________________________________________

It doesn’t really matter if your theology falls under Calvinism or Arminianism. If your theology puts man & self at the center it’s postmodern humanism not biblical Christianity. 

_________________________________________________________________________________


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What Sanctifies Our Offerings? - Charles Spurgeon




And the priest shall put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the Lord. (Leviticus 4:7)

The altar of incense is the place where saints present their prayers and praises; and it is delightful to think of it as sprinkled with the blood of the great sacrifice. This it is which makes all our worship acceptable with Jehovah: He sees the blood of His own Son and therefore accepts our homage.

It is well for us to fix our eyes upon the blood of the one offering for sin. Sin mingles even with our holy things, and our best repentance, faith, prayer, and thanksgiving could not be received of God were it not for the merit of the atoning sacrifice. Many sneer at “the blood”; but to us it is the foundation of comfort and hope. That which is on the horns of the altar is meant to be prominently before our eyes when we draw near to God. The blood gives strength to prayer, and hence it is on the altar’s horns. It is “before the Lord,” and therefore it ought to be before us. It is on the altar before we bring the incense; it is there to sanctify our offerings and gifts.

Come, let us pray with confidence, since the Victim is offered, the merit has been pleaded, the blood is within the veil, and the prayers of believers must be sweet unto the Lord.

Read More from Spurgeon

Friday, September 6, 2013

Book Suggestions

People always ask me for book recommendations so I thought I would post a few of my favorites here.

Through New Eyes - James B Jordan

I love this book. I keep reading it, and every time I find a new nugget of truth. The first time I read it my mind exploded with new insight. I really can not explain how much this opens up scripture. Here is a quick quote from the book on OT darkness and NT light: 
“The moon established which day was the first of the month, and which was the fifteenth. Such festivals as Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles were set on particular days of the month (Leviticus 23:5-6, 34; Numbers 28:11-14; 2 Chronicles 8:13; Psalm 81:3). The moon, of course, governs the night (Psalm 136:9; Jeremiah 31:35), and in a sense the entire Old Covenant took place at night. With the rising of the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2), the "day" of the Lord is at hand (Malachi 4:1), and in a sense the New Covenant takes place in the daytime. As Genesis 1 says over and over, first evening and then morning. In the New Covenant we are no longer under lunar regulation for festival times (Colossians 2:16-17). In that regard, Christ is our light.”        

Desiring God - John Piper

I read this book once a year. 
 The primary message is this: not only is it our chief end as humans to desire God and enjoy Him forever, but is it God's chief end to glorify himself and enjoy himself forever. This book has been instrumental for me in understanding God's justice & mercy and how they play out perfectly together for his glory...even when it's hard to see or understand.

“The wisdom of God devised a way for the love of God to deliver sinners from the wrath of God while not compromising the righteousness of God.”

“Prayer is the open admission that without Christ we can do nothing. And prayer is the turning away from ourselves to God in the confidence that He will provide the help we need. Prayer humbles us as needy and exalts God as wealthy” 



Bible Matrix: An Introduction to the DNA of the Scriptures - Michael Bull

I found Michael Bull by accident. I was filtering through websites about Jordan's Through New Eyes and found Bull's book Totus Christus. The book was no longer available in the states so I messaged him through his blog. He responded 5 minutes later and recommended his second book (drum roll) Bible Matrix which I bought for my kindle and later a physical copy because I underlined the crap out of it. Here is  the description from Goodreads:

Ever wish someone could give you a big handle on the entire Bible without years of study?Well, this book not only promises to give you that big handle-it will deliver on the promise. You should be asking, how is this possible?

The Bible is one story told over and over again, with many variations on the same theme. This structure is the Bible's DNA.This basic seven-point pattern is the heartbeat of the Creation. It is the cycle of a human day and a human life. It is the pattern of the Tabernacle. It is the process of agriculture. It undergirds the speeches and Laws of God. It orders the rise and fall of nations and empires. It is also the structure of our worship. It is the rhythm of Christ, and it will open the Bible for you like never before.   
AMAZON

Reading The Bible in 3D - Michael Bull

This is an EBook that I just got and I am excited to dig into it. I am actually looking at using it as a backdrop text for an intro to how to study the bible course. Here is the description from Amazon:

For most people, reading the Bible is like watching a foreign movie with no subtitles. The keys to understanding the book are hidden in plain sight, but we haven't been trained to see them.

The Bible is a story. Imagine if you could make sense of its weirdest bits using some skills you might have learned from watching a long-running TV series. The countless novels, movies and TV shows we enjoy employ exactly the same techniques to connect with people as the ones used by the authors of the Bible.

The Bible has a shape. Imagine being able to read it in 3D in the same way an architect interprets building plans, or a tailor understands suit patterns.
The Bible has a tune. Imagine being familiar with its basic "musical" themes so you know what is happening and where the story is going.

The Bible is art. Imagine being a curator who knows the reason for every curve of the sculpture, with a mind and heart shaped by its beauty.

The Bible is fun. Imagine being able to see when the author is making a joke or turning another Bible story on its head just to shock his audience!

Contemporary culture has been shaping us for a fresh look at the Bible. This amazing book has been biding its time, waiting for a new generation of visual thinkers who are profoundly savvy when it comes to story, poetry and symbolism.

This little book will give you your first glimpse of the potential of the structural and symbolic wonders in the Bible. It's time to open your eyes.



Friday, August 30, 2013

True Christianity is a fight - J.C Ryle

From Bishop J.C. Ryle's sermons on "Holiness", here is a section on the fight that is true Christianity:


True Christianity! Let us mind that word "true." There is a vast quantity of religion current in the world which is not true, genuine Christianity. It passes muster, it satisfies sleepy consciences; but it is not good money. It is not the authentic reality that called itself Christianity in the beginning. There are thousands of men and women who go to churches and chapels every Sunday and call themselves Christians. They make a "profession" of faith in Christ. Their names are in the baptismal register. They are reckoned Christians while they live. They are married with a Christian marriage service. They mean to be buried as Christians when they die. But you never see any "fight" about their religion! Of spiritual strife and exertion and conflict and self–denial and watching and warring they know literally nothing at all. Such Christianity may satisfy man, and those who say anything against it may be thought very hard and uncharitable; but it certainly is not the Christianity of the Bible. It is not the religion which the Lord Jesus founded and His apostles preached. It is not the religion which produces real holiness. True Christianity is "a fight."

The true Christian is called to be a soldier and must behave as such from the day of his conversion to the day of his death. He is not meant to live a life of religious ease, indolence and security. He must never imagine for a moment that he can sleep and doze along the way to heaven, like one traveling in an easy carriage. If he takes his standard of Christianity from the children of this world, he may be content with such notions, but he will find no countenance for them in the Word of God. If the Bible is the rule of his faith and practice, he will find his course laid down very plainly in this matter. He must "fight."

With whom is the Christian soldier meant to fight? Not with other Christians. Wretched indeed is that man’s idea of religion who fancies that it consists in perpetual controversy! He who is never satisfied unless he is engaged in some strife between church and church, chapel and chapel, sect and sect, faction and faction, party and party, knows nothing yet as he ought to know. No doubt it may be absolutely needful sometimes to appeal to law courts in order to ascertain the right interpretation of a church’s articles and rubrics and formularies. But, as a general rule, the cause of sin is never so much helped as when Christians waste their strength in quarreling with one another and spend their time in petty squabbles.

No, indeed! The principal fight of the Christian is with the world, the flesh and the devil. These are his never– dying foes. These are the three chief enemies against whom he must wage war. Unless he gets the victory over these three, all other victories are useless and vain. If he had a nature like an angel, and were not a fallen creature, the warfare would not be so essential. But with a corrupt heart, a busy devil and an ensnaring world, he must either "fight" or be lost.

He must fight the flesh. Even after conversion he carries within him a nature prone to evil and a heart weak and unstable as water. That heart will never be free from imperfection in this world, and it is a miserable delusion to expect it. To keep that heart from going astray, the Lord Jesus bids us, "Watch and pray." The spirit may be ready, but the flesh is weak. There is need of a daily struggle and a daily wrestling in prayer. "I keep under my body," cries St. Paul, "and bring it into subjection." "I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity." "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" "Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." "Mortify . . . your members which are upon the earth" (Mark 14:38; 1 Cor. 9:27; Rom. 7:23, 24; Gal. 5:24; Col. 3:5).

He must fight the world. The subtle influence of that mighty enemy must be daily resisted, and without a daily battle can never be overcome. The love of the world’s good things, the fear of the world’s laughter or blame, the secret desire to keep in with the world, the secret wish to do as others in the world do, and not to run into extremes—all these are spiritual foes which beset the Christian continually on his way to heaven and must be conquered. "The friendship of the world is enmity with God. Whoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." "The world is crucified to me, and I unto the world." "Whatever is born of God overcomes the world." "Be not conformed to this world" (James 4:4; 1 John 2:15; Gal. 6:14; 1 John 5:4; Rom. 12:2).

He must fight the devil. That old enemy of mankind is not dead. Ever since the Fall of Adam and Eve he has been "going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it," and striving to compass one great end—the ruin of man’s soul. Never slumbering and never sleeping, he is always going about as a lion seeking whom he may devour. An unseen enemy, he is always near us, about our path and about our bed, and spying out all our ways. A murderer and a liar from the beginning, he labors night and day to cast us down to hell. Sometimes by leading into superstition, sometimes by suggesting infidelity, sometimes by one kind of tactics and sometimes by another, he is always carrying on a campaign against our souls. "Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat." This adversary must be daily resisted if we wish to be saved. But "this kind goes not out" but by watching and praying and fighting and putting on the whole armor of God. The strong man armed will never be kept out of our hearts without a daily battle (Job 1:7; 1 Pet. 5:8; John 8:44; Luke 22:31; Eph. 6:11).

Some men may think these statements too strong. You fancy that I am going too far and laying on the colors too thickly. You are secretly saying to yourself that men and women may surely get to heaven without all this trouble and warfare and fighting. Listen to me for a few minutes, and I will show you that I have something to say on God’s behalf. Remember the maxim of the wisest general that ever lived in England: "In time of war it is the worst mistake to underrate your enemy, and try to make a little war." This Christian warfare is no light matter. What says the Scripture? "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life." "Endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand." "Strive to enter in at the strait gate." "Labor . . . for [the] meat that endures unto everlasting life." "Do not think that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace but a sword." "He who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." "Watch you, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong." "War a good warfare; holding faith, and a good conscience" (1 Tim. 6:12; 2 Tim. 2:3; Eph. 6:11–13; Luke 13:24; John 6:27; Matt. 10:34; Luke 22:36; 1 Cor. 16:13; 1 Tim. 1:18, 19). Words such as these appear to me clear, plain and unmistakable. They all teach one and the same great lesson, if we are willing to receive it. That lesson is, that true Christianity is a struggle, a fight and a warfare. He who pretends to condemn "fighting" and teaches that we ought to sit still and "yield ourselves to God," appears to me to misunderstand his Bible, and to make a great mistake.

What says the baptismal service of the Church of England? No doubt that service is uninspired and, like every uninspired composition, it has its defects; but to the millions of people all over the globe who profess and call themselves English churchmen, its voice ought to speak with some weight. And what does it say? It tells us that over every new member who is admitted into the Church of England the following words are used: "I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." "I sign this child with the sign of the cross, in token that hereafter he shall not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified, and manfully to fight under His banner against sin, the world and the devil, and to continue Christ’s faithful soldier and servant unto his life’s end." Of course we all know that in myriads of cases baptism is a mere form and that parents bring their children to the font without faith or prayer or thought and consequently receive no blessing. The man who supposes that baptism in such cases acts mechanically, like a medicine, and that godly and ungodly, praying and prayerless parents, all alike get the same benefit for their children must be in a strange state of mind. But one thing, at any rate, is very certain. Every baptized churchman is by his profession a "soldier of Jesus Christ," and is pledged "to fight under His banner against sin, the world and the devil." He that doubts it had better take up his Prayer Book and read, mark and learn its contents. The worst thing about many very zealous churchmen is their total ignorance of what their own Prayer Book contains.

Whether we are churchmen or not, one thing is certain—this Christian warfare is a great reality and a subject of vast importance. It is not a matter like church government and ceremonial, about which men may differ, and yet reach heaven at last. Necessity is laid upon us. We must fight. There are no promises in the Lord Jesus Christ’s epistles to the seven churches, except to those who "overcome." Where there is grace there will be conflict. The believer is a soldier. There is no holiness without a warfare. Saved souls will always be found to have fought a fight.

It is a fight of absolute necessity. Let us not think that in this war we can remain neutral and sit still. Such a line of action may be possible in the strife of nations, but it is utterly impossible in that conflict which concerns the soul. The boasted policy of non–interference, the "masterly inactivity" which pleases so many statesmen, the plan of keeping quiet and letting things alone—all this will never do in the Christian warfare. Here at any rate no one can escape serving under the plea that he is "a man of peace." To be at peace with the world, the flesh and the devil, is to be at enmity with God and in the broad way that leads to destruction. We have no choice or option. We must either fight or be lost.

It is a fight of universal necessity. No rank or class or age can plead exemption, or escape the battle. Ministers and people, preachers and hearers, old and young, high and low, rich and poor, gentle and simple, kings and subjects, landlords and tenants, learned and unlearned—all alike must carry arms and go to war. All have by nature a heart full of pride, unbelief, sloth, worldliness and sin. All are living in a world beset with snares, traps and pitfalls for the soul. All have near them a busy, restless, malicious devil. All, from the queen in her palace down to the pauper in the workhouse, all must fight, if they would be saved.

It is a fight of perpetual necessity. It admits of no breathing time, no armistice, no truce. On weekdays as well as on Sundays, in private as well as in public, at home by the family fireside as well as abroad, in little things, like management of tongue and temper, as well as in great ones, like the government of kingdoms, the Christian’s warfare must unceasingly go on. The foe we have to do with keeps no holidays, never slumbers and never sleeps. So long as we have breath in our bodies, we must keep on our armor and remember we are on an enemy’s ground. "Even on the brink of Jordan," said a dying saint, "I find Satan nibbling at my heels." We must fight until we die.

Let us consider well these propositions. Let us take care that our own personal religion is real, genuine and true. The saddest symptom about many so–called Christians is the utter absence of anything like conflict and fight in their Christianity. They eat, they drink, they dress, they work, they amuse themselves, they get money, they spend money, they go through a scanty round of formal religious services once or twice every week. But of the great spiritual warfare—its watchings and strugglings, its agonies and anxieties, its battles and contests— of all this they appear to know nothing at all. Let us take care that this case is not our own. The worst state of soul is when the strong man armed keeps the house, and his goods are at peace, when he leads men and women captive at his will, and they make no resistance. The worst chains are those which are neither felt nor seen by the prisoner (Luke 11:21; 2 Tim. 2:26).

We may take comfort about our souls if we know anything of an inward fight and conflict. It is the invariable companion of genuine Christian holiness. It is not everything, I am well aware, but it is something. Do we find in our heart of hearts a spiritual struggle? Do we feel anything of the flesh lusting against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh, so that we cannot do the things we would? (Gal. 5:17.) Are we conscious of two principles within us, contending for the mastery? Do we feel anything of war in our inward man? Well, let us thank God for it! It is a good sign. It is strongly probable evidence of the great work of sanctification. All true saints are soldiers. Anything is better than apathy, stagnation, deadness and indifference. We are in a better state than many. The most part of so–called Christians have no feeling at all. We are evidently no friends of Satan. Like the kings of this world, he wars not against his own subjects. The very fact that he assaults us should fill our minds with hope. I say again, let us take comfort. The child of God has two great marks about him, and of these two we have one. He may be known by his inward warfare, as well as by his inward peace.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Stupendous Reality of Being “in Christ Jesus” - John Piper



Being “in Christ Jesus” is a stupendous reality. It is breathtaking what it means to be in Christ. United to Christ. Bound to Christ. If you are “in Christ” listen to what it means for you:

In Christ Jesus you were given grace before the world was created. 2 Timothy 1:9, “He gave us grace
in Christ Jesus before the ages began.”

In Christ Jesus you were chosen by God before creation. Ephesians 1:4, “God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.”

In Christ Jesus you are loved by God with an inseparable love. Romans 8:38–39, “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

In Christ Jesus you were redeemed and forgiven for all your sins. Ephesians 1:7, “In Christ we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses.”

In Christ Jesus you are justified before God and the righteousness of God in Christ is imputed to you. 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake God made Christ to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

In Christ Jesus you have become a new creation and a son of God. 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Galatians 3:26, “In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.”

In Christ Jesus you have been seated in the heavenly places even while he lived on earth. Ephesians 2:6, “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

In Christ Jesus all the promises of God are Yes for you. 2 Corinthians 1:20, “All the promises of God find their Yes in Christ.”

In Christ Jesus you are being sanctified and made holy. 1 Corinthians 1:2, “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus.”

In Christ Jesus everything you really needed will be supplied. Philippians 4:19, “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

In Christ Jesus the peace of God will guard your heart and mind. Philippians 4:7, “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

In Christ Jesus you have eternal life. Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

And in Christ Jesus you will be raised from the dead at the coming of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” All those united to Adam in the first humanity die. All those united to Christ in the new humanity rise to live again

How do we get into Christ?

At the unconscious and decisive level it is God’s sovereign work: “From God are you in Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:30).

But at the conscious level of our own action, it is through faith. Christ dwells in our hearts “through faith” (Ephesians 3:17). The life we live in union with his death and life “we live by faith in the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20). We are united in his death and resurrection “through faith” (Colossians 2:12).

This is a wonderful truth. Union with Christ is the ground of everlasting joy, and it is free.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Awesomeness

Some awesome pics I found on the interwebs!