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Monthly Archives: August 2010

What is the Bible all about?

Answer: Jesus

The speaker is Tim Keller.  The message was delivered at the Gospel Coalition 2007 Conference.  This quote from Keller’s speech was powerful.  And I have also listened and re-listened to his message that he gave that day.

HT: Jared Wilson

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Pastors and Congregants

In St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh, as soon as the newly appointed bishop tried to read out the new Prayer Book, a member of the congregation threw her stool at him, precipitating a riot in which the bishop was lucky to get away with his life.  Up in Brechin, the bishop was taking no such chances: he led the service from the new Prayer Book with a pair of loaded pistols pointed at the congregation.

Michael Reeves, The Unquenchable Flame, 168.

These disputes flowed from King Charles and William Laud’s attempts to reform the Church of Scotland more into the image of the Church of England.  As you can tell it did not go over too well.

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Lord’s Day Reflections 08-22-2010

1. Be like the Bereans.  Growing up in Church, I always heard it.  For many years, I thought it was talking about the Berean Church, but in Acts 17, the reference is to Berean Jews.  The reason why we are exhorted today to be like the Bereans flows from their apporach to discern God’s will.  The Berean Jews tested all of Paul’s testimony about Jesus by eagerly searching the Scriptures to see if he was right.

This pattern is commendable.  As a Christian people, we need to test all that we do against the word of God.

2. Having said all this, we need to be ready to have some of what we thought we knew transformed by Scripture.  So much of what Christians believe and practice comes from secondhand sources.  Go to the word, it will always set you on the right path.

3. Certain Sunday evenings on occasions we have opportunity to pray over individual members during our service.  We prayed over one of our recent members who is having to move back to Florida.  It is such a sweet privilege to pray with saints in a one-on-one setting.  I encourage other churches to do this.  And may God bless you, Imogene.  You have been a good encouragement during your stay with us at Westwood.

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Obama’s Faith

Much of the nation is talking about President Obama’s faith.  Recent polls report that nearly 20% of Americans believe the President is actually a follower of the Islamic faith.  While I do not believe the President is a Muslim, I can say with some assurance that his Christian faith is not like mine.  Perhaps this explains why so many are having a difficult time discerning the President’s beliefs.  The following are excerpts from an interview with the President conducted by Cathleen Falsani:

FALSANI:
Do you believe in sin?

OBAMA:
Yes.

FALSANI:
What is sin?

OBAMA:
Being out of alignment with my values.

I just find this strange and find it certainly to be an unbiblical way to define sin.  Isn’t sin being out of alignment with God’s values and not my own?

FALSANI:
What happens if you have sin in your life?

OBAMA:
I think it’s the same thing as the question about heaven. In the same way that if I’m true to myself and my faith that that is its own reward, when I’m not true to it, it’s its own punishment.

Here is another example of how given the chance to speak clearly about his Christian faith, President Obama answers with a vague statement.  Why not use this question to speak about the gospel of Jesus Christ and how when a sinner repents and places his trust in Jesus, his sins are forgiven?

The heaven question he refers to previously is another opportunity for the President to speak clearly on the reality of life after death, but his answer is filled with so much uncertainty.

FALSANI:
Do you believe in heaven?

OBAMA:
Do I believe in the harps and clouds and wings?

FALSANI:
A place spiritually you go to after you die?

OBAMA:
What I believe in is that if I live my life as well as I can, that I will be rewarded. I don’t presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die. But I feel very strongly that whether the reward is in the here and now or in the hereafter, the aligning myself to my faith and my values is a good thing.

When I tuck in my daughters at night and I feel like I’ve been a good father to them, and I see in them that I am transferring values that I got from my mother and that they’re kind people and that they’re honest people, and they’re curious people, that’s a little piece of heaven.

It is quite clear that the President does not ascribe to Christianity in the biblical or orthodox sense.  His view seems more closely aligned with liberal Christianity, where the authority of the Bible is rejected in many ways, and one picks and retains the parts he likes.

OBAMA:
Where do you move forward with that?

This is something that I’m sure I’d have serious debates with my fellow Christians about. I think that the difficult thing about any religion, including Christianity, is that at some level there is a call to evangelize and prostelytize. There’s the belief, certainly in some quarters, that people haven’t embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior that they’re going to hell.

FALSANI:
You don’t believe that?

OBAMA:
I find it hard to believe that my God would consign four-fifths of the world to hell.

I can’t imagine that my God would allow some little Hindu kid in India who never interacts with the Christian faith to somehow burn for all eternity.

That’s just not part of my religious makeup.

At some level Christians are called to evangelize?  It would appear to me that the fundamental mission of the Christian is to make disciples of all nations, and this necessitates evangelism.  Additionally, his view of the necessity of faith in Jesus Christ (or I might say, the lack of faith) absolutely kills evangelism.  If people do not need to hear the gospel in order to be reconciled to God, then why go tell anyone about Jesus because so many end up rejecting him.

Why are people having a hard time understanding his “Christian” beliefs?  I think it is because his “Christian” beliefs are not solidly rooted in whole counsel of God’s word written in the Bible.

HT: Denny Burk

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Lord’s Day Reflections 08-15-10

1. I love when certain things come together during our time together on the Lord’s Day when they were not planned.  Often I have Sunday School teachers approach me after the service and remark how a point they made earlier in SS was also made by myself in the sermon.  This  unplanned emphasis helps listeners to know that we (teachers) are making our common points from God’s word.  This happened this Sunday on the subject of possession of human beings by demons/evil spirits.

2. It happened in a remarkably powerful way when the closing quote from the sermon and the hymn of response tied so closely together.  I send the texts and often times themes to our music of minister and then he selects the hymns based in part on this information.  So this past Sunday, I closed with a John Bunyan quote from Pilgrim’s Progress about Mr. Standfast’s final words before he goes down into the River, which represents death, but it also represents the transition from this old life into the next.  The hymn of response was Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross.  The chorus reads: In the cross, in the cross, be my glory ever, till my ransomed soul shall find rest beyond the River.

Now I do not know what this River stands for according to the author of the hymn, but I suppose it could be for death, or the river of God, or an image of Jordan and the Israelites crossing into the land of Promise.  Nevertheless, it was a powerful moment for me personally.

3. Thank you to the ladies and children responsible for organizing the Baby Bottle Campaign to support the Pregnancy Support Center this past month.  And thank you to the many church members who supported it with their gifts.

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Lord’s Day Reflections 08-08-10

1. What will you do when God tells you no?  This was one of the main points and applications of the sermon.  God told Paul and Silas that they could not take the gospel into Asia.  My contention is that God tells us no often because our sinful requests and desires do not align with God’s purposes.  Friend, do not try to push open a door that God has closed.  Do not try to justify your sin.  Do not surround yourself with “yes” friends.  Do not make God out to be the one who gives you blessing of your sin.

2. Too often we focus on what God has denied us, when we ought to dwell upon what God has made available to us.  God closed off Bithynia to Paul and Silas, but he opened the door to all the people of Philippi.  Go full steam into the opportunities and ministries which God has clearly opened the door for you.

3. I am so thankful for the new friendships that have been made and are being made here at Westwood.  While Paul and Barnabas had to separate from each other, the Lord gave unto Paul, Silas and Timothy.  Friend, be willing to open yourself up to other brothers and sisters in Christ and be blessed by God through them.

4. Thank you to Son Rise for leading us in worship Sunday Night.  Your blessing through song made for a good evening of worship.

5. What a blessing it is when you arrive to the office on Tuesday (I’m out of the office on Mondays) and read an email from one of your members telling you about how he/she is ministering to some couples at work and is asking for more gudience concerning God’s will on the subject of marriage (I gave instruction on Sunday concerning marriage).  Our weekend worship gatherings are designed to instruct and encourage and then we take the instruction and encouragement and pass it along to others.  It is wonderful to know this is going on each week in the life of our people.

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Sin is like an enemy waging guerilla warfare

Sin is like a defeated army in a civil war that, instead of surrendering and laying down its arms, simply fades into the countryside, from which it continues to wage a guerrilla war of harassment and sabotage against the government forces.  Sin as a reigning power is defeated in the life of the beleiver, but it will never surrender.  It will continue to harass us and seek to sabotage our Christian lives as long as we live.

Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace, 106.

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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