Archive for the 'Edification' Category

Really ? Yes, really.

April 22nd, 2011

The God of the Universe took on human flesh, lived among us, was spat upon, kicked, mocked and killed by His own creation. He did this for people who infinitely offended Him with their choices to disobey and not bow the knee to Him as Creator and Lord.

Not one bit of anything in that equation makes Him more glorious than He already is (in other words, He would be infinitely beautiful and glorious even if He never did those things).

He did it anyway.

He was not obligated to do it. He could’ve just sent everyone to hell….as He will do with the fallen angels.

Aside from asking ‘WHY ?’ the other thing that contemplation of this fact does for me as a believer is remove any nagging temptation to drift into cold fatalistic determinism. One cannot be, for example, a hypercalvinist and logically deal with this fact.

Everyone caught up on the fact that reformed theology teaches that God is ACTUALLY Sovereign….skips over this fact in their attempt to bash Calvinism for ‘destroying free will’ (and other nonsensical arguments).  No one who opposes Calvinism ever notices this fact.  No one.

So why did He choose to love ?  I have no idea. I just sit down, shut up and praise Him for doing so.

Deut. 29:29.

Can Our Experience Contradict Our Belief?

December 14th, 2010

Habakkuk knew that God could be trusted. He believed that God was watching over His people and would ultimately deliver them from sin and judgment. He hoped and prayed for revival and restoration as he had seen under the reign of Josiah, but as God warned him of the coming judgment at the hands of the Chaldeans (Babylon) this presented a perplexing problem for Habakkuk. We see the drama unfold in Habakkuk 1:12-2:1.

This crisis of faith sprouted from his attempt to reconcile in his own mind two things that he believed were incompatible. Knowing all that he did about God and His holy character, Habakkuk simply could not understand how God could use the Chaldeans to accomplish anything good. God is good, holy, just, righteous, and perfect. He is so pure that He cannot even look on sin. Not that He doesn’t see it, but He does not look approvingly at it. God does not ever condone wickedness. However, God had just told Habakkuk that He was going to use the wicked, evil, perverse, murderous, proud Chaldeans as a tool for bringing judgment upon Judah for their sin.

Habakkuk basically asked God, “How could You?” How could God even tolerate the Chaldeans, much less use them to judge Judah. He knew it was true that Judah had sinned and that God had promised judgment. But how could God use a much more wicked nation to bring about this judgment. If God had used the same standards for judging Babylon as He was using to judge Judah then Babylon should have already been wiped off the face of the earth. In comparison, Judah was righteous!

Often times, problems arise that appear as if they will derail our faith. We find what we think are contradictions in the Bible, or our faith does not match our experience. Something happens and it causes us to doubt what we believe, either generally in terms of our overall view of life, God, the church, etc. Or specifically as it relates to certain doctrines which we thought we knew and understood. What are we to do when our experience does not match our belief? Should we change what we believe? Abandon doctrine, or faith, or church altogether? Or should we doubt our experience? Can we truly take an experience at face value if it challenges everything we have been taught and believe?

The answer is that we should stop and wait! In the midst of this dilemma, Habakkuk did five things to resolve his seeming contradiction between the nature of God and His use of the wicked Chaldeans. He determined to face his problem and to maintain a right view of God. We need to see what he did so that we can learn to face problems in a manner that glorifies God, even when we do not understand what God is doing or why He is doing it.

We can think of it this way: Habakkuk gives us five things we must do when faced with problems in order to keep our faith (and sanity) on track. In fact, we will use the word TRACK to help us remember Habakkuk’s solution to his problem.

T – Think

The first thing Habakkuk did was to stop and think. Instead of flying off the handle and making accusations against God, or jumping to the defense of Judah in light of their obvious sin and rebellion, Habakkuk waited and very deliberately thought about what God had told him. We know this because of the way he wrestles with the answer God gave him after his first line of questioning earlier in chapter one. We see the depth of his perplexity. He asked questions, not to accuse God, but to seek the truth that he knew he was missing. How could a holy God use an unholy nation to accomplish a holy purpose? In thinking about these things we see that Habakkuk models for us James 1:19:

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.

R – Restate

The second thing Habakkuk did was to restate the basic principles that he knew to be true. He went back in his mind before the problem had arisen and he recalled to his mind the truth that he was sure of before this came up. No matter what God was telling him and no matter how difficult it seemed that what God was saying was right, he knew for a fact that God was holy, pure, sovereign, faithful, and good. He asks a question and makes several statements about who God is to remind himself of these basic principles about God’s character.

Are You not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O LORD, You have appointed them for judgment; O Rock, You have marked them for correction. You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, And cannot look on wickedness. (Hab 1:12-13a)

A – Apply

The third thing Habakkuk did was to apply the principles to the problem. If God was from everlasting, with an eternal perspective, then this judgment was not the final chapter in His dealings with Judah. If God was pure and holy, then this coming judgment is not in itself evil, but will accomplish some good. If God really was sovereign, then this chapter of history, dark as it may seem, was not happening by accident or chance. And if God was unchanging (“O Rock”) then He would not abandon His people but would still fulfill His promises to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. He went back to basics and applied them to what He knew to be true, hoping that his faith would mature in the process so that he could see what God was doing and why He was doing it.

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.

Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God…(Heb 5:12; 6:1)

C – Commit

The fourth thing that Habakkuk did was to commit it to God by faith. This invasion of Judah by the Chaldeans was a tool in God’s hand for correcting and purifying His people. God meant to do good to them by using a wicked people to accomplish His purposes. How could He do this? Habakkuk did not know. So he went to his watchtower (Hab 2:1).

The watchtower represents two things we must do in order to truly commit a problem to the Lord. First, he went away to wait for an answer, expecting God to answer him. And he also detached himself from the problem. He was up in a tall tower with a rampart, high above the city wall. From there he had a clear view, was all alone, had time to think, and sought for answers from the Lord.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said that detaching himself from the problem for a time was “one of the most important principles in the psychology of the Christian life.” He went on to say:

It may be the problem of what we are to do with our lives; or it may be some situation that is confronting us which involves a difficult decision. Having failed to reach a solution, despite seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, there is nothing more to do but to take it to God in prayer. But what so frequently happens is this. We go on our knees and tell God about the thing that is worrying us; we tell Him that we cannot solve the difficulty ourselves, that we cannot understand; and we ask Him to deal with it to show us His way. Then the moment we get up from our knees we begin to worry about the problem again. We also tell other people about it.

If we are doing this, we have not left the problem with God. If you have a problem like this, leave it with God. You do not have the right to talk about it or brood over it any longer.

In getting away from the problem, either by physical proximity, or mentally and emotionally, we need to learn the truth that just because we have a problem that does not mean that anything is wrong! God is still in control, and at times we simply must trust that He knows best.

Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. (Psalm 37:5)

Commit your works to the LORD, And your thoughts will be established. (Prov 16:3)

K – Keep

The last thing Habakkuk did was to keep His commandments. He would obediently wait for God to answer, and in humility he even admits that when God answers He will likely have to be corrected. He was ready to give an appropriate answer when God corrected him. If something was wrong, if there was a contradiction between Habakkuk’s belief about the character of God and his experience of what God said He was going to do, then obviously the fault was not with God. Habakkuk needed to be corrected and he was ready to be obedient, humble, and teachable. In fact, we know from Scripture that we cannot say that we love God if we are not willing to obey Him. So Habakkuk expresses an obedient attitude and in so doing proves his love for God as he waits for an answer to his problem.

Whatever problem we face, we must be sure to do what we know to do while we are waiting for the answer. We must be obedient to the Word of God, and to our conscience. And if we come to understand truth, and are corrected by the Spirit through the Word of God and we have to change our minds about something, we must be ready and willing to cast off false doctrine and wrong beliefs for the sake of the truth out of love and obedience to our Lord.

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:3)

You are my portion, O LORD; I have said that I would keep Your words. (Psalm 119:57)

These thoughts are highlights from the sermon “Perplexing Problems”. Listen online or download it for later – always FREE.

Ephesians 5:3-21

August 14th, 2010

It’s amazing how people try to get around the clear commands of this passage.

Read it and let it soak in for a bit.  I’ll be commenting on it over the next few days.

[3] But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. [4] Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. [5] For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. [6] Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. [7] Therefore do not become partners with them; [8] for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light [9] (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), [10] and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. [11] Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. [12] For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. [13] But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, [14] for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” [15] Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, [16] making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. [17] Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. [18] And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, [19] addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, [20] giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, [21] submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:3-21 ESV)

Food Choices, Church Choices and Their Effect On Your Body

August 9th, 2010

Over at TheologicallyCorrect dot Com, I’ve been threatening, gathering, pondering and chunk writing portions of a new series (which, at this rate, will end up as a book) on reasons to leave your current ‘not-heretical-but-not-really-deep-theologically’ church for one that is. My friends and my own life experiences are continually giving me new source material to write and use as illustrations.

So you’re at a church that doesn’t teach anything overtly heretical, but the sermons are rather ‘light’ in doctrinal content. The preacher may be content with giving you practical (supposedly) sermons week to week which seem to be ‘how to’ more than anything else. All well and fine. We do need to know ‘how to’ from time to time. But you find yourself a bit ‘critical’ of the sermon week to week – “not enough meat!” So you supplement your church’s sermons with podcasts from people you consider ‘meatier’ – MacArthur, Sproul, Piper, or any number of lesser known but solid biblical and exegetical pastors.

There’s an old saying – if the cook doesn’t eat here, why should you ?

Maybe that’s a bit too strong. Maybe your church is more like this: Not adequately consistent on biblical teaching. The equivalent of eating steak one day, McFood Product 3-4 days out of the week, a McFood Product Apple Pie one day and then one day it’s potluck.

Since we’re running with food illustrations, let me add one more.

My wife and I recently started (maybe over the past 6-8 months) moving the bulk of our diet to being more organic. So we eat at Silver Diner (because they’ve switched over to organic) and Chipoltle as our primary food places if/when we eat outside. The occasional Chic-Fil-A comes in every once in a while (emergency food – but at least we know they serve real chicken) and Arby’s (my wife used to work there, so she knows how the food is prepped – at least the beef).

Since the new food choices have come into play, several things have happened.

1. We’re finding out that processed and non-fresh foods (i.e. canned fruit cocktail versus fresh fruit that you chop up or that is prepared the same day) don’t retain their flavor or their nutritional value. For example, at an event my wife and I went to, my wife (who loves fruit) didn’t finish the fruit cocktail she got (it was one of the healthier choices). She said it didn’t taste like anything. In the past, she used to be able to devour canned fruit cocktail all day….but now…not so much. Fresh fruit tastes better and as you spend extended time around fresh, canned begins to lose its’ appeal.

2. We’re finding ourselves having more energy to do more things. Healthier diet and lifestyle = more energy. The old food choices we used to do (rushing around with little time to cook) tended to ‘fill’ us up, but it left us feeling sluggish and tired afterward. As we’ve learned in researching some restaurants, some of it is because most or ALL of the nutritional value of some foods was pretty much NON-EXISTENT. So your body was working harder to draw nutrients out of something that didn’t have nutrients in it to begin with. Therefore, you’re left tired. Related to that is the additional fact that some of the food which DID have some nutritional value was also high in fat and sodium. So now, the remainder of your body’s energy is spent converting stuff to BAD fat and the sodium content is sapping your body of fluids, dehydrating you. So your body has to work harder to process less and you end up with less energy, altered moods, physiological issues, chemical imbalance, etc… This affects your thinking and communication skills as well. When we switched to organic choices (and added some harder work/regular exercise to the mix), things started to change gradually. At the end of last school year, I did the school yearbook, kept up with the school website and a plethora of changes, did two performances 3 days before the end of the school year and a few dozen other things that normally, I would’ve been completely burnt out to do. I’m not saying I wasn’t tired at the end But compared to last year, I’ve found myself recovering quicker.

3. Overshare time (wife cringing as I type this) !!! We’ve found ourselves more apt to get rid of…stuff. This has also helped with losing weight (since we’re not holding onto stuff in our intestines for extended periods of time) and digestion (good food digests easier).

These three points have great theological significance. Churches that are light on their treatment of theological topics and issues often find their members working harder (whether it be to work themselves into a shout and live off of the emotional high for the next week, or thinking that the various programs and outreaches they get involved in are the equivalent of growth and being spiritual) with diminishing returns (because now they have to involve themselves in ‘more’ over time just to feel like they are ‘doing the Lord’s work’ or ‘serving Him’ or ‘worshipping Him in Spirit and in Truth’).

No real spiritual nutritional value. Just empty spiritual calories to fill you up. ‘How-to’ sermons divorced from their theological and biblical foundations, become morality lessons. Morality lessons don’t transform your way of thinking and they don’t save people. And you can only live off a cliché or morality lesson…until real trials strike.

Good spiritual food (in the form of consistent sound doctrine and good teaching) is like eating steak, organic chicken, fresh vegetables and such….every day. Good food on a regular basis helps your body grow stronger and keeps you free of most diseases. Likewise, good spiritual food will keep you free of most of the pitfalls that some believers constantly face and struggle with (i.e. “Am I good enough now to merit God’s favor beyond Him just saving me ?”). But the key is this: you have to be in the atmosphere consistently. That means you don’t simply live off of podcasts, tapes, CDs and DVDs, but you have people alongside of you who believe the same things, encouraging and strengthening you to move forward. You have a shepherd who consistently teaches and preaches these things every week. Your church consciously is modeled after this line of thought.

As other members of your community are being transformed by the preaching on Sunday and teaching throughout the week, they, in turn, pass that on to you as you interact with them. And as you find yourself being transformed, you pass that back to them. This ‘mutual edification’ gives you the spiritual strength necessary to endure all sorts of trials as they come.

Your view of God changes in a sounder atmosphere. God goes from being a benevolent grandfather up in heaven looking down at you and smiling and waiting to give you all sorts of gifts (because He’s nice and loving) to being the Almighty Creator of the universe, before whom, you deserve nothing but wrath and death, but who instead chooses to give you love, blessings and salvation. Realizing your condition makes God appear as He should – much bigger, much more awesome and then it hits you…. His love for you doesn’t depend on your performance. He didn’t save you because of something you did or would do. He didn’t “see the best in you” and then save you based on that.

It’s easy to think of yourself as being ‘worthy’ of a certain kind of love and knowing that your mate or another human being loves you because you’re you. There’s even a song out about it now (The Best In Me by Marvin Sapp). But knowing that God loves you when the best of ‘you’ is filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) and coming to realize that it doesn’t depend on you at all…well…that’s humility-producing.

It also produces a different kind of sanctification. You’ll find yourself more apt to self-examination (per 2 Cor. 13 and all of 1 John) and find yourself jettisoning as much ‘waste’ in your life that weighs you down from running toward the goal of Christlikeness.

Now I hear, on regular basis, people say things like “well, maybe some people are built up by things from this style of preaching versus that ‘theological’ stuff.” That, to me, falls in line with thinking that “ Well, maybe some people are built up by eating unhealthy food versus all that ‘organic stuff’.”

Objectively speaking, there’s only one meaning to the text of scripture. It cannot mean one thing and the exact opposite of that one thing at the same time. Objectively speaking, only ‘real spiritual food’ brings real spiritual growth. In other words, if what gets taught is false doctrine, no matter how the person feels about it, they are not being built up in the faith. They may be built up in habit, tradition, feeling, thinking and experiencing, but these things are not the Christian faith as taught in scripture.

In food analogy terms: one cannot say that McDonalds builds up people in a healthy fashion and that real beef from one cow builds up people just as well. Both statements are mutually exclusive (if you know how McDonalds’ meat gets mushed together from several different animals in varying shades of health). One is good for you and provides more nutrients for your body.  One is not and provides little nutrients for your body, gives you unwanted antibiotics, possible disease contamination (because those cows aren’t in the healthiest of shape and they eat a lot of filler).  Both taste differently.  So although both might fill you up, don’t mistake being full for being healthy. Both are having different effects on your body over the long haul.

I’ve encountered people who, after eating so much fast food for so many years, really don’t have a taste for real food. They have a taste for food…but not healthy food. And like children, over time, they must be weaned off of the bad food in order to develop a taste for the good.

A few ramblings of a man determined to nudge folks on to better ‘food choices’. I already know that some people will be moderately offended by it because they know that their church has good food. I teach middle school kids who think that McDonalds’ is good food too. But I’ve also been humble enough to sit and watch Super-Size Me and follow up on that with personal research. I also realize that middle school kids don’t necessarily have the maturity and capacity to think at the level of ‘what is this doing to my body over long periods of time’ because they’ve been trained up (by culture, society, media and parents) to have everything ‘now’ and focus on ‘now’. Likewise, there are many believers who have been trained up to not think critically and use their minds to the glory of God (Deut. 6:5).

The thing with good food, though…even if your palate has been trained to love fast food, you can be weaned off of it and moved over to real food. You can grow teeth that will bite into and rend steak. You can develop a taste for fresh fruit so that canned longer appeals to you. It takes time, work and the same way you would reprogram your muscles with daily workouts to grow stronger, you’d need to reprogram your appetite with good foods.

All that said…move somewhere with fresh, real, healthy, nutritious food. Nothing scripture says that you should remain at a place that is malnourishing you. You have friends at these places ? Instead of staying for their benefit, why not bring them with you to your new place of eating ?

Words from Spurgeon on Restoring Fallen Pastors

April 6th, 2010

Pastors.  People who are in a position of leadership of God’s people and serve as shepherds (not just ‘sheep’).  People charged with feeding the church of God and protecting them against false doctrine (Acts 20:28-32).  The Pastor must hold to sound doctrine, be able to teach it and correct those who contradict it (1 Tim. 1-3, Titus 1). Character qualities are high – must be equally above reproach (bad reputation) to the church as well as the outside world so that the gospel doesn’t have an opportunity to be blasphemed by unbelievers.  Scripture commands (1 Timothy 5) to rebuke a sinning elder (elder, pastor and bishop are synonyms for the same office – pastor) in the presence of all so that the rest of members of the church will fear. So it’s a big deal when pastors fall into sin.

Spurgeon wrote:

The highest moral character must be sedulously maintained. Many are disqualified for office in the church who are well enough as simple members. I hold very stern opinions with regard to Christian men who have fallen into gross sin; I rejoice that may be truly converted, and may be with mingled hope and caution received into the church; but I question, gravely question whether a man who has grossly sinned should be very readily restored to the pulpit. As John Angell James remarks, “When a preacher of righteousness has stood in the way of sinners, he should never again open his lips in the great congregation until his repentance is as notorious as his sin.” Let those who have been shorn by the sons of Ammon tarry at Jericho till their beards be grown; this has often been used as a taunt to beardless boys to whom it is evidently inapplicable, it is an accurate enough metaphor for dishonoured and characterless men, let their age be what it may. Alas! the beard of reputation once shorn is hard to grow again. Open immorality, in most cases, however deep the repentance, is a fatal sign that ministerial graces were never in the man’s character.

While I can quickly assent to agreement with every sentence Spurgeon wrote, I get a little fuzzy around the last sentence, even though he put the qualifier of ‘most’ on there.   A few preachers believe there is no restoration to ministry after the fall of a pastor, specifically for sexual sin (because of the nature of the sin and the damage it does to the witness of the gospel).  Others believe that there is a time, after watching one’s life again consistently (measuring consistency in years, not simply months) where an ex minister can indeed be restored.

Thoughts ?

I have a few more, but I’ll post them in a few more days.

An Unbeliever’s Perspective on Evangelism

March 1st, 2010


Please don’t tune me out just yet.

I admit: I myself would question reading an article with such a ridiculous title since it is biblical scripture that we should follow concerning how to share Jesus. Not an unbelievers opinion! But give me a minute to explain.

There’s an excellent book I’m just about finished reading by a college student named Kevin Roose called “The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University.” I recommend this work to everyone! A friend who normally recommends excellent books suggested I read it but I initially had reservations since I thought it was simply going to bash Liberty University (a school I have mixed feelings about anyway) and/or cause Christians to question things that are simply misunderstood or taken out of context. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It is an amazing, balanced, refreshing book. It’s about a guy who is NOT a conservative Christian transferring for a semester from Brown University (which is what I call “limp-noodle liberal”) to Liberty to blend in and see what life is like among folks who are his generational peers but who are very different than he is ideologically. Please go to the bookstore and get it as soon as you can.

So back to my point … a few minutes ago I sauntered over to YouTube and came across a live streaming interview of Kevin where he answered a lot of valuable questions and listeners were able to enter the chat room and interact with him by making inquiries that were read to Kevin by the host.

There are a couple of spoilers in the interview, but I highly recommend that you jump to the 21:40 minute mark and listen to about 23:32. In this section, Kevin recounts his experience going with a group of Liberty students down to Daytona Beach during Spring Break to evangelize! Yes, I’m serious. Anyway, one of the people watching this interview asked what he thought, as an unbeliever, about the method of evangelism the LU students used. And he had an interesting reply I think is worthy of contemplation.

Again, I don’t think Christians should use anything but the Bible to determine how we should share Christ. Nevertheless, I believe a valid question after listening to this interview is “how much of Kevin’s advice CAN actually be found in scripture?”

Maybe this can revolutionize how we share the Faith.

Enjoy by clicking here.

Your thoughts are solicited.

A Life of Praise

January 13th, 2010

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.” Acts 16:25-26 ESV

This is one of the most encouraging passages of Scripture to me. When I first read it, I was amazed at what God had done. Paul and Silas had been beaten and thrown into prison after casting out a spirit of divination (fortune telling) from a young woman who followed them around for several days. The men who were making money off of her were very upset that their financial means had been taken away, so they took them before the magistrates and it was decided that they should be beaten and thrown into prison.

So, here we are. Paul and Silas are imprisoned. What do they do? They begin praying and singings hymns to God. When I first read this, I was astonished how men who had just been beaten and thrown into prison for doing no wrong could have this incredible resolve to worship God and communicate with Him through prayer in what would seem to be a very dark and desperate part of their lives. Then, I remembered reading earlier in the book of Acts about Peter and John and how they had been beaten for teaching in the name of Jesus yet went away rejoicing because they had been counted worthy to suffer for His name’s sake.

When I first heard this passage preached upon, the preacher indicated that when things get bad, we need to begin to pray and “praise our way out” of the storm we’re in. While I see the significance of being a people who praise God, and while adversity and affliction can often rock our world, prayer and worship of God are not a knee jerk reaction to adversity and affliction. Prayer to and worship of God are a part of the very life of the believer. It’s what true believers do. Our lives should be one of praise to the Most High God. Some will teach that Paul and Silas began to pray because of the situation. But, I believe that Paul and Silas were just going about their lives—lives committed to bringing glory to God and the end result was that God was pleased to free them from prison. After all, He had much more work for them to do.

There’s more to this passage that I want to come back to, including the conclusion of this story that involves the jailer of this prison and how the Lord used this event to save him and his family. But, remember, we’ve been called to a life of prayer. We’ve been called to a life of worship. Let’s remember that as we go through our daily lives, whether the situation is up or down. Soli Deo Gloria!

Playlist – 12/24/09 – 1/30/10

January 13th, 2010

Okay, so here it is. Thanks for waiting!
LDM Playlist: December 24, 2009 – January 30, 2009 – 17.4 hours

Sovereign Grace Music and Bob Kauflin have graciously allowed us to stream theirmusic for listening purposes on LDM free of charge. All the songs streamed here from SGM (and much more) are available for immediate download at

Red Letter’s music appears courtesy of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington.
Please visit for MUCH more music (as well as good sermons and podcasts).

Shai Linne and Timothy Brindle’s music appear courtesy of Lampmode Recordings.
Visit them for great theologically sound Christian hip hop:

B-Morr appears courtesy of Morrhouse productions. For more information and more music, visit

The Gathering podcast also plays Christian Hip Hop, but a playlist is not immediately available for this podcast. The Gathering is produced by ChristCentric.

Traditional Instrumental Hymns on piano are courtesy of Mike Paulson. While some of the material on his site (especially his KJV Only arguments) are flawed, his music is good and useful. Please visit to download more traditional hymns – free.

Podcast Links:

Capitol Hill Baptist Church (Washington, DC) – Mark Dever is the senior pastor.
Providence Reformed Baptist Church (Kingsland, TX) – Philip M. Way is pastor.
Soaring Oaks Presbyterian Church (Sacramento, CA) – Andrew Redditt is senior pastor.
Wallace Presbyterian Church (College Park, MD) – Scott Bridges is senior pastor.
Grace Community Church (Sun Valley, CA) – John MacArthur, Jr. is senior pastor.

Playlist (in order by name of song, album and artist for music):

The Real Christmas – Christcentric Podcast – The Gathering
Happy New Year – So What ? – Thinking Biblically Commentary – Theologically Correct dot Com
All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name – Together for the Gospel Live – Bob Kauflin
Oh for a Thousand Tongues to Sing – Together for the Gospel Live – Bob Kauflin
Jesus Paid It All – Together for the Gospel Live – Bob Kauflin

SERMON: The Word Became Flesh – Phillip M. Way
Come Now Almighty King – Upward – Sovereign Grace Ministries
Completely Done – Sons & Daughters – Sovereign Grace Music
For You Are Holy – Sovereign Grace Sampler – Sovereign Grace Music

Healing In Your Wings – Sovereign Grace Sampler – Sovereign Grace Music
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus – Next 2009 Live -Na Band
All_Hail_the_Power (Public Domain…traditional hymn)

The Trinity: Part 1 – Christcentric Podcast – The Gathering
The Trinity: Part 2 – Christcentric Podcast – The Gathering
Great_Is_Thy_Faithfulness – (public domain…traditional hymn)

Father Abraham – Wallace Presbyterian Church -Scott Bridges
Fear’s Effects – Wallace Presbyterian Church – Scott Bridges
Choices – Wallace Presbyterian Church – Scott Bridges

God’s King, God’s Priest – Wallace Presbyterian Church – Stephen Coleman
Let Your Kingdom Come – Sovereign Grace Sampler – Sovereign Grace Music
Praise the Lord – Psalms -Sovereign Grace Music
His Forever- Sovereign Grace Sampler – Sovereign Grace Music
I Have a Shelter – Come Weary Saints – Sovereign Grace Music
Glorious and Mighty – Pastors Conference 2009 – Bob Kauflin and Band
Glory Be to God – Savior – Sovereign Grace Music
My God, My Father (Part 23) – Mars Hill Church | Red Letter
My_Hope_is_Built_on_Nothing_Less (Public Domain)
I_Surrender_All (Public Domain)

Longing for Christmas – Soaring Oaks Presbyterian Church -Dan Phillips
Five ‘Alones’ That Changed Everything – Soaring Oaks Presbyterian Church – Daniel J. Phillips
On What We Stand – Soaring Oaks Presbyterian Church – Dan Phillips
Sola Gratia – ChristCentric – Podcasts – The Gathering
Sola Scriptura – Christcentric Podcast – The Gathering

The End of the World – Revelation 15-16 – Capitol Hill Baptist Church -Mark Dever
The End of Worldliness – Revelation 17:1-19:5 – Capitol Hill Baptist Church -Mark Dever

Guys and Dolls – Search Me – B morr
Self Worship – Self Denial – B.Morr
Fruit Inspection – Killing Sin – Timothy Brindle

A Survey of the Soils (Mark 4:1-20) – Grace to You: Pulpit Podcast – John MacArthur
A Diagnosis of the Soils, Part 1 (4:1-20) – Grace to You: Pulpit Podcast – John MacArthur
A Diagnosis of the Soils, Part 2 (4:1-20)- Grace to You: Pulpit Podcast – John MacArthur

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New playlists/sermons and MP3’s are posted at the start of every month.

Happy New Year – So What ?

January 2nd, 2010

I wrote this and posted it back in 07, but giving it a listen, I found myself being a bit convicted by it. I think it’s a good ‘share’ opportunity for everyone.

Podcast download:

Thinking Biblically Commentary – January 4, 2006
K. Joel Gilliard

Every year on December 31, great festivals and celebrations around the world are held to ring out the old year and bring in the new year. In fact, starting backwards from December 26th, news broadcasters begin to reflect on past events of the year, who died, who got married and whatever the big news stories of the year that there were.

Many people use this time of year to do their own reflection on the events of the past year in their personal lives. Many make promises to improve themselves in the coming year and as we well know, these things have a tendency not to last.

Many have come to think of New Year’s resolutions as a cliché for ‘Heh. Let’s see how long that lasts.’ People make grandiose claims and promises only to break them before the end of the month (usually within the first 5-15 days of the month).

Now let’s think for a moment. Biblically, if you will.

Is it wrong to reflect over our lives and think on the major events of our lives? Of course not. Is it wrong to make plans for change ? Not at all. Scripture is replete with folks who do these very things – from David in the Psalms to Isaiah in his book.

The problem is our thinking at how to go about accomplishing these ‘resolutions’ that we make. There’s usually two faulty assumptions that go along with most new year’s resolutions-making.

First, many times, even Christians don’t approach things they resolve to do for the coming year with glory of God in mind. They don’t seek to make change to serve God better, but mostly to serve themselves better, expand their own territory, build up their own kingdom and prosper their own house.

The prophet Haggai spoke of people like this during the reign of King Darius when he delivered a word from the Lord on the subject:

“Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.

“Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD. You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.” (Haggai 1:4-11)

Several times here, the Lord admonishes His people to ‘consider their ways‘. That’s Hebrew shorthand for ‘think real close and reflect on how you’ve been acting and what’s been going on with your life’. We learn a lot in this passage. The context, dealing with the rebuilding of the temple under King Darius, is applicable to our present discussion.

So many times, we try to do things in our own strength with our own purpose and plan in mind. We spend our time and energy ‘seeking with all our might’ after food, clothing and shelter (the same thing Jesus said the Gentiles did in Matthew 6). And to make it sound holy, we stamp the name of God on it and say ‘God wants me to have this’ or ‘God wants me to do this’ or ‘If it wasn’t of God, I wouldn’t have the vision or the desire’ and misquote scripture to support this notion (sometimes we’re taught to misquote scripture in this fashion).

My friends, this is nothing more than hedonism masked with Christian spiritualism. In English – seeking after self-pleasure and self-gratification but masking it with a layer of Christian-speak in order to make it sound acceptable to others and ourselves.

Check your motivations real close
. The desire to lose weight, for example, is not necessarily bad or good in and of itself. You’d like to lose weight for what reason ? So you’ll look cute in your bathing suit at the beach over the summer (or for the fellas, so you’ll look good and people will notice) ? How about because it makes you feel better about yourself ? How about so you’ll be healthier and live longer ? Or because it glorifies God when you take care of the body He has given you ?

Because we live in a fallen world and in fallen bodies, I’m not saying our motivations have to be perfect, but which of these three things is at the forefront of your thinking on the subject? God knows your heart, no matter what your lips might say. And the actions of your life will reflect it, no matter what you say the answer is. A tree is always known by its’ fruit.

Secondly, we approach the topic of resolutions for change with the world’s methods – sheer will-power and determination – instead of with the power and strength which Christ provides for change.

I make this a very important point because people oftentimes miss it. The major sin in the Garden of Eden was not merely disobedience, but independence. Man believing that he/she can do whatever he wants apart from God. Independence on one’s own strength and reliance upon one’s own strength apart from God can breed and foster an attitude of not needing God.

The average rich person will tell you they don’t need God at the center of their lives. They have everything they want at the time. The man who feels he can do anything and is fairly successful with his life will feel less of a need to be concerned with spiritual things.

So too, in the church, the person who feels that they will and can change their own destiny and God is just ‘along for the ride’ or ‘my eternal ticket to heaven after I’m done with my life’ will find that they really involve God in less and less of their daily life struggles and issues, other than on Sunday. Call it the ‘God is my co-pilot’ philosophy. This is how you find many professed Christians living in the world today: very religious in their speech, but their outward lives look no different than the world, their methods of dealing with life’s issues are no different than the world, they do the same sins as the world and use the world’s solutions for their problems. Or they may have God as an ‘add on’ – a cosmic bellhop to get them whatever they need as they reign sovereignly over their own lives and determine its’ course.

And it reeks of rebellion against God. Subtle rebellion, but rebellion nonetheless.

How should we think about these things ?

Reflection is good. It should never be a once a year thing, but a regular habit for the believer. At the reading of the law each week, Israel was always pointed back to things God had done in the past as proof of His continued faithfulness to them and hope for continued faithfulness in the future. Romans 8:28 should bring some of this to mind with the believer, as he looks back and sees that it was not he who ordered his own life, but God who prepared him for salvation, God who took out the wrong people from his life and put the right people in, God who ordered the events of his life so he would be where he is now. And we have His promise that He will never leave or forsake us – and this should bring us hope.

That reflection should drive us to seek His wisdom and counsel on how to live life skillfully. The Psalms, Proverbs, the book of Ecclesiastes and the book of James brings us thousands of years worth of very practical life-application mixed with sound teaching to put life into proper perspective for us. Immerse yourselves in these books and they will inform your mind on how to think and view life. This, in turn, will give you a right perspective from which to view changes in life and make change, grow your dependence on God for that change and help you live a life that is well pleasing and honoring to Him.

Let’s not be ‘resolution-driven’ people like the rest of the world. Instead, let us take time and fill our minds with the wisdom that God has given us in His word so that we can learn to live skillfully in this world. That’s real change that will last.

As the Church Sings

December 7th, 2009

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God. – Ephesians 5:15-21

I heard Alistair Begg on the radio recently as he was preaching about how truth can be working its way into (hearing) and out of (doing) our churches. He made a comment that once Biblical truth gets put into a creed, confession, or hymn book, it soon becomes part of the church. Because once so recorded it becomes an important, and oft repeated, statement for the church then the people are more likely to remember, apply, rely upon, and obey that truth.

Speaking specifically about singing the truth he said, “As the church sings, so shall she live.” Churches that have their worship songs full and overflowing with rich Biblical truth teach each other through their singing – just as we are instructed to do in Ephesians chapter 5.

Later, as I thought about what he had said my thoughts wandered through a list of a few churches we have visited in the last year, some of which are singing popular songs that contain very little truth. They sound nice, they make people feel all warm and fuzzy, but they are devoid of rich, deep statements of truth. Come to think of it, they sing these songs for the most part because they think that is what the people want to sing. When we are singing shallow, man centered, kind of “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs we really should not wonder why so many churches are shallow and man centered in other aspects of their worship.

I am not arguing traditional vs contemporary or even for singing only old hymns – Ephesians 5 is clear that we are to sing Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs. What I want to know is where have the doctrinally rich songs full of truth gone? Why do we sing vainly repetitious mantras that lull us into a shallow, false sense of understanding when we could be praising God and at the same time teaching each other deep, applicable, time tested truths from God’s Word?

A friend of mine and I were discussing this very thing and he commented that worship with these types of songs seems to be lacking in “meat.” Many songs today cannot even be considered “milk.” I said that they are really more akin to formula than milk, a man made substitute for the real thing.

By now, shouldn’t we be teaching each other the truth instead of being spoon fed pablum in the name of worship? We may feel full but we are not being nourished. If it is true that as the church sings, so she lives, then perhaps our churches and her songs need to grow up.