Saturday, December 19, 2009

Theology: Matt Chandler

Irreverent, Silly Myths

Friday, December 4, 2009

Funny: Steven Crowder

War Helps ... A Lot!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Grace Fellowship: How to Pray for Christians

Colossians 1:9-14

Generally speaking, do our prayers for one another sound like Paul’s prayers for his fellow believers? Maybe we could say that he prayed that way because he was an apostle. “But we live in the real world. We don’t live in some high-brow, theological seventh heaven like Paul, off somewhere in some seminary using words like “propitiation” and “justification” and stuff. We have real prayer requests for the real world. Like prayer for healing and for guidance about what I should study in college, and who I should marry, and whether I should home school my kids, and for salvation for my family and church growth and stuff. And for safety when we visit the relatives and stuff. And that the car will stay together. We don’t use words like “redemption” and stuff when we pray. We use real words, mostly one-syllable words, and we talk about REAL stuff here in the real world! We don’t get into all that deep stuff that Paul talked about.”

Why does Paul pray the way he does? Was Paul’s prayer just a bunch of hard to understand theological “stuff”? Or was it about the real world in which we live? Is he just trying to show off his own deep spirituality? Or did he pray as he did for fellow Christians out of necessity?

Full Sermon Notes
[For sermon audio click here]

Grace Gems: If we were directing the affairs of our own lives

(J. R. Miller, "The Lesson of Love" 1903)

We often think we could do better--if we were directing the affairs of our own lives. We think we could get more happiness and greater good out of life--if things were in our hands. We would at once eliminate all that is painful and unpleasant in our lot. We would have only prosperities, with no adversities; only joys, with no sorrows. We would exclude all pain and trouble from our life. Our days would all be sunny, with blue skies--and no clouds or storms. Our paths would all be soft and easy, and strewn with flowers--without thorns or any rough places. Would we not be happier--if we could direct our own affairs, and leave out the painful, the bitter, the adverse, and the sorrowful?

So most of us would probably say at first, before we have thought of the question deeply and looked on to the end. But really the greatest misfortune that could come to us in this world--would be to have the direction of the affairs, and the shaping of the experiences of our lives, put into our own hands!

We have no wisdom to know what is best for ourselves. Today is not all of life--there is a long future, perhaps many years in this world, and then immortality hereafter. What would give us greatest pleasure today--might work us harm in days to come. Present gratification might cost us untold loss and hurt in the future.

We want pleasure, plenty, and prosperity--but perhaps we need pain, self-denial, and the giving up of things that we greatly prize.

We shrink from suffering, from sacrifice, from struggle--but perhaps these are the very experiences which will do the most good for us, which will best mature our Christian graces, which will fit us for the largest service to God and man.

We should always remember that the object of living here, is not merely to have present comfort, to get along with the least trouble, to gather the most we can of the world's treasures, to win the brightest fame. We are here to grow into the beauty of Christ, and to do the portion of God's will that belongs to us!

There is something wonderfully inspiring in the thought, that God has a plan and a purpose for our lives, for each life. We do not come drifting into this world--and do not drift through it like waves on the ocean. We are sent from God, each one of us with a divine plan for his life--something God wants us to do, some place He wants us to fill. All through our lives we are in the hands of God, who chooses our place and orders our circumstances, and makes all things work together for our good--and His glory.

It is the highest honor that could be conferred upon us, to occupy such a place in the thought of God. We cannot doubt that His way for us is better than ours, since He is infinitely wiser than we are, and loves us so. It may be painful and hard--but in the pain and the hardness, there is blessing.

Of course we may not know all the reasons there are in the divine mind, for the pains and sufferings that come into our lives, or what God's design for us in these trials is. Yet without discovering any reasons at all, however, we may still trust God, who loves us with an infinite love--and whose wisdom also is infinite!

When we get to heaven, we shall know that God has made no mistake in anything He has done for us, however He may have broken into our plans--and spoiled our pleasant dreams!

It should be reason for measureless gratitude, that our lives are not in our own poor feeble hands--but in the hands of our infinitely wise and loving Father!

"My times are in Your hands!" Psalm 31:15

Grace Gems

Friday, November 20, 2009

Funny: Tim Hawkins

The Government Can

Grace Gems: Plato's wish

(J. R. Miller)

"You are absolutely beautiful, my Beloved; there is no flaw in You!" Song of Songs 4:7

Plato expressed a desire that the moral law might become a living personage, that men seeing it thus incarnate, might be charmed by its beauty.
Plato's wish was fulfilled in Jesus Christ! The holiness and the beauty of the divine law were revealed in Him. The Beatitudes contain an outline of the ideal life--but the Beatitudes are only a transcript of the life of Christ Himself! What He taught about love--was but His own love stated in a course of living lessons for His friends to learn. When He said that we should be patient, gentle, thoughtful, forgiving, and kind--He was only saying, "Follow Me!"

If we could gather from the most godly people who ever have lived, the little fragments of lovely character which have blossomed out in each, and bring all these fragments into one personality--we would have the beauty of Jesus Christ! In one person you find gentleness, in another meekness, in another purity of heart, in another humility, in another kindness, in another patience. But in the holiest of men, there are only two or three qualities of ideal beauty--along with much that is stained and blemished, mingled with these qualities. In Christ, however, all that is excellent is found, with no flaw!

"You are absolutely beautiful, my Beloved; there is no flaw in You!" Song of Songs 4:7

Grace Gems

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

False Teachers: Quote of the Day

The apostles of Satan are not saloon-keepers and white-slave traffickers, but are for the most part ordained ministers.

- A. W. Pink

Oh and while your here you can read all about Brian McLaren and his experience participating in Ramadan this year. Don't worry he posted his personal prayers and all the fasting he was able to do for everyone to hear about: Day 1

Politics: Obama's Teleprompter Malfunction

Grace Gems: The more Christ has suffered for us!

(Thomas Brooks, "The Golden Key to Open Hidden Treasures")

Christ is that golden pipe through which the golden oil of salvation runs!

The more Christ has suffered for us--the dearer Christ should be unto us. The greater and the bitterer Christ's sufferings have been for us--the greater and the sweeter should our love be to Him. O my friends! there is no love but a superlative love, which is any way suitable to the transcendent sufferings of dear Jesus. Oh,
love Him above your lusts,
love Him above your relations,
love Him above the world,
love Him above all your contentments and enjoyments;
yes, love Him above your very lives!

Certainly the more bitter His sufferings have been for us, the more eminent should be our love to Him. Oh, how should this inflame our love to Christ! Oh, that our hearts were more affected with the sufferings of Christ! Who can tread upon these hot coals--and his heart not burn in love to Christ?

Oh, the infinite love of Christ--that He should leave His Father's bosom, and come down from heaven--that He might carry you up to heaven; that He who was a Son should take upon Him the form of a servant:
that you slaves--should be made sons;
that you enemies--should be made friends;
that you heirs of wrath--should be made heirs of God!

To save us from everlasting ruin, Christ was willing to be made flesh, to be tempted, deserted, persecuted, and to die upon a cruel cross! Oh what flames of love to Christ, should these things kindle in all our hearts!

Oh, let a suffering Christ lie nearest your hearts!

Grace Gems

Monday, November 16, 2009

Grace Fellowship: Hoping for Heaven

Colossians 1:5a

There are many passages in the NT which speak with subtle differences about hope, but they all refer to the same thing generally, our future eternal life in Heaven. For instance, in 1 Timothy, Jesus is referred to as Christ Jesus our hope. Peter speaks of how God has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3). Titus chapter 2 reminds us of how we wait for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

But here in Colossians when we read of hope, Paul is not speaking of Jesus as our hope, or our hope for the day of His return, or the hope of resurrection AS SUCH. Certainly, these things are various aspects of the hope we have as believers. All these things (the resurrection, the return of Christ, and the person of Christ) are part of the salvation we enjoy and will enjoy.

Full Sermon Notes
[For sermon audio click here]


Words: Isaac Watts, The Psalms of Da­vid, 1719.
Music: Ux­bridge, Low­ell Ma­son, 1830 (MI­DI, score).

The heav’ns declare Thy glory, Lord,
In every star Thy wisdom shines
But when our eyes behold Thy Word,
We read Thy Name in fairer lines.

The rolling sun, the changing light,
And nights and days, Thy power confess
But the blest volume Thou hast writ
Reveals Thy justice and Thy grace.

Sun, moon, and stars convey Thy praise
Round the whole earth, and never stand:
So when Thy truth begun its race,
It touched and glanced on every land.

Nor shall Thy spreading Gospel rest
Till through the world Thy truth has run,
Till Christ has all the nations blest
That see the light or feel the sun.

Great Sun of Righteousness, arise,
Bless the dark world with heav’nly light;
Thy Gospel makes the simple wise,
Thy laws are pure, Thy judgments right.

Thy noblest wonders here we view
In souls renewed and sins forgiv’n;
Lord, cleanse my sins, my soul renew,
And make Thy Word my guide to Heaven.

Grace Gems: The test of amusements

(J. R. Miller)

"Lovers of pleasure--rather than lovers of God" 2 Timothy 3:4

Is the love of pleasure growing upon you, gaining the power and the ascendency over you? Is it dulling the keenness of your zest for spiritual pleasures? Is it making Bible-study, prayer, communion with Christ, meditation upon holy themes--less sweet enjoyments than before? Is it making your hunger for righteousness, for God--less intense? Is it interfering with the comfort and blessing you used to find in worship services, or in Christian work?

If so, there is only one thing to do--hasten to return to God, cut off the pleasure which is imperiling the soul, and find in Christ the joy which the world cannot give, and which ever enhances the life. We must test all our pleasures and amusements by this rule--Are they helping us to grow into Christ-likeness and spiritual beauty?

Grace Gems

Friday, November 13, 2009

Funny: Steven Crowder

Who is Joe Biden?

Grace Gems: The ruined handkerchief

(J. R. Miller, "The Lesson of Love" 1903)

"We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

It is one of the wonders of divine love, that God will take even our blemishes and sins, when we truly repent of them and give them into His hands--and make them blessings to us in some way.

A friend once showed Ruskin a costly
handkerchief, on which a blot of ink had been made. "Nothing can be done with that!" the friend said, thinking that the handkerchief was now ruined and worthless. Ruskin carried it away with him and after a time sent it back to his friend. In a most skillful and artistic way--he had made a fine design on the handkerchief, using the blot as its foundation. Instead of being ruined, the handkerchief was made far more beautiful and valuable.

Just so, God takes the flaws and blots and stains upon our lives, the disfiguring blemishes, when we commit them to Him, and by His marvelous grace--changes them into strength and beauty of character!

David's grievous sin, was not only forgiven--but was made a transforming power in his life.

Peter's pitiful fall
, became a step upward through his Lord's forgiveness and gentle dealing. Peter never would have become the man he afterward became--if he had not denied his Lord, and then repented and been restored.

There is one thing always to be remembered. Paul tells us that we become more than conquerors in all life's trials, dangers, struggles, temptations, and sorrows--only "through Him who loved us." Without Christ--we must be defeated. There is only one secret that can turn evil into good, pain into blessing--that is the love of Christ. There is only one Hand which can take the blotted life--and transform it into beauty.

Grace Gems

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Theology: Muslim Revolution

Here is some Theology from the Qur'an

Grace Gems: It is not easy for us to learn this lesson

(J. R. Miller, "Losing SELF in Christ" 1903)

"If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it." Luke 9:23-24

Only as we learn to die to self--do we become like Christ.

Human nature seeks all for self--and none for Christ. Becoming a Christian is the taking of Christ into the life--in the place of self. Then all is changed. Life has a new center, a new aim. Christ comes first. His plan for our lives is accepted, instead of our own. It is no more what we would like to do--but "What does the Master want us to do?" It is no longer the pressing of our own will--but "May Your will, not mine, be done."

This is the foundation of all Christian living
--the dying of self--and the growing of Christ in the heart. So long as there remains any self-will, any unsubmission, any spirit of disobedience, any unconquered self, asserting its authority against the will of Christ--just so long, is our consecration incomplete.

This law of the dying of SELF, and the magnifying of Christ--is the only way to true usefulness. Not until self has been renounced, is anyone ready for true Christian service. While we are thinking how this or that will affect us, whether it will pay us to make this sacrifice or that self-denial; while we are consulting our own ease, our own comfort, our own interest or advantage in any form--we have not yet learned fully what the love of Christ means.

This law of the dying of SELF, and the magnifying of Christ--is the secret of Christian peace. When Christ is small, and SELF is large--life cannot be deeply restful. Everything annoys us. We grow impatient of whatever breaks our comfort. We grieve over little trials. We find causes for discontent in merest trifles. We resent whatever would hinder or oppose us. There is no
blue sky in the 'picture', of which SELF is the center!

But when SELF decreases, and Christ increases--then the life of friction and worry is changed into quietness and peace. When the glory of Christ streams over this little, cramped, fretted, broken life of ours--peace comes, and the love of Christ brightens every spot and sweetens all bitterness. Trials are easy to bear, when
self is small--and Christ is large.

This lesson has its very practical bearing on all our common, every-day life. Naturally, we want to have our own way. We like to carry out our own plans and ambitions. We are apt to feel, too, that we have failed in life, when we cannot realize these hopes. But this is the world's standard! The successful worldling is the one who is able to master all life's circumstances, and make them serve him.

But the greatest thing possible in any life--is to have the divine plan for it fulfilled--even though it thwarts every human hope and dashes away every earthly dream.
It is not easy for us to learn this lesson--that God's ways are always better for us than our own!

We make our little plans and begin to carry them out. We think we have all things arranged for our greatest happiness and our best good. Then God's plan breaks in upon ours--and we look down through our tears upon the shattered fragments of our fine plans! All seems wreck, loss, and disaster! But no--it is only God's larger, wiser, better plan--displacing our little, imperfect, shortsighted one!

It is true, that God really thinks about our lives--and has a purpose of His own for them, a place He would have us fill, a work He would have us do. It seems when we think of it, that this is scarcely possible--that each one of the lives of His countless children--should be personally and individually thought about by the Father. Yet we know that this is true of the least and lowliest of believers. Surely if God cares enough for us to make a plan for our life, a heavenly plan--it must be better than any plan of ours could be! It is a high honor, therefore, for His plan to take the place of ours, whatever the cost and the pain may be to us!

Grace Gems

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Politics: Twenty-Eight Blue Dogs Vote For Pelosi's $1.3 Trillion Health Bill

House Democrats passed the 2,032-page Pelosicare bill on a near party-line vote Saturday night 220-215 (roll call here). The only Republican voting in favor of the measure was New Orleans-based Joseph Cao who has long ago proven to be a tax and spend (and spend and spend) liberal.

After a week of intense arm twisting, threats and promises from party leaders, more than half of the 52 so-called conservative Blue Dog Democrats voted in favor of the over $1.3 trillion measure. These are the 28 Blue Dogs voting in favor of Pelosicare (who apparently fear the wrath of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi more than the will of their own constituents):

Mike Arcuri (N.Y.)
Joe Baca (Calif.)
Marion Berry (Ark.)
Sanford Bishop (Ga.)
Leonard Boswell (Iowa)
Dennis Cardoza (Calif.)
Christopher Carney (Penn.)
Jim Cooper (Tenn.)
Jim Costa (Calif.)
Henry Cuellar (Texas)
Kathy Dahlkemper (Penn.)
Joe Donnelly (Ind.)
Brad Ellsworth (Ind.)
Gabrielle Giffords (Ariz.)
Jane Harman (Calif)
Baron Hill (Ind.)
Mike Michaud (Maine)
Harry Mitchell (Ariz.)
Dennis Moore (Kan.)
Patrick Murphy (Penn.)
Earl Pomeroy (N.D.)
John Salazar (Colo.)
Loretta Sanchez (Calif.)
Adam Schiff (Calif.)
David Scott (Ga.)
Zack Space (Ohio)
Mike Thompson (Calif.)
Charles Wilson (Ohio)

The bill these “fiscal conservatives” voted in favor of on Saturday includes over $730 billion in job-killing taxes, the majority of those taxes shouldered by the small businesses -- those which in lesser-taxed times, created the most new jobs. The bill also taxes premium health insurance plans enjoyed by most union members.

Pelosicare as passed by the House Saturday also still includes one-half trillion dollars in cuts from Medicare and builds the infrastructure to ration health care based on age and cost. This is one of the major reasons CBO scored the bill as a money saver. But the Medicare cuts are probably illusory, as they have been in the past. Congress just won’t cut these benefits, though they talk about it almost every year.

Pelosi carved the costly “doc fix” measure out of the bill to intentionally manipulate the Congressional Budget (CBO) system and keep the perceived cost of the bill down. The actual cost of Pelosicare rises to $1.6 trillion when you include “doc fix” which is an attempt to fix the underpayment of doctors currently driving them out of participation in the Medicare system. - Full Article

Grace Gems: We begin to be like Christ

(J. R. Miller, "The Life of Jesus")

"I am among you as one who serves." Luke 22:27

"He got up from supper, laid aside His robe, took a towel, and tied it around Himself. Next, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel tied around Him." John 13:4-5

Serving is not an easy lesson to learn. But it is a lesson we must learn--if ever we would become like our Master. He did not come to be served--but to serve. He served to the uttermost, just as He loved to the uttermost. Anything that needed to be done for another, He did as naturally and as simply as He breathed. He loved people, and was interested in them, and was ready always to be helpful to them. It never mattered what the service was, whether it was the saving of a soul, the curing of a grievous sickness, or the giving of a cup of water--He did the least as graciously and as divinely, as the greatest.

The washing of feet was the lowliest service any man could do for another. It was the work of the lowliest slave. Yet Jesus without hesitation, did this service for His own disciples. Thus He taught them that nothing anyone may ever need to have done--is unfit for the whitest hands.
We begin to be like Christ--only when we begin to love others enough to serve them.

There is no surer test of the genuineness of Christian life, than in this matter of serving others. When we see the Son of God washing His disciples' feet--no service is too menial for us to do. A king may do the lowliest kindness to the poorest peasant in his realm, and his honor will only be enhanced by it.

"Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet--you also should wash one another's feet." John 13:14

Grace Gems

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Creation: Ken Ham

State of the Nation - Part 4

Grace Gems: Any moment we may be stricken down!

(J. R. Miller, "For a Busy Day" 1895)

"Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in You." Psalm 143:9

Each day is full of dangers--dangers we cannot see, and from which we cannot protect ourselves. Disease lurks in the air we breathe, and hides in the water we drink, or in the food we eat. Along the street where we walk, on the railway over which we ride--there are perils.
Any moment we may be stricken down! There may be enemies who are plotting against us, conspiring to do us harm.

There are certainly spiritual enemies, who are seeking to destroy us! The sunniest day is full of them. No African jungle is so full of savage and blood-thirsty wild beasts--as the common days in our lives are full of spiritual enemies and perils. These dangers are unseen--and hence cannot protect ourselves. "Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy! He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour!" 1 Peter 5:8

What, then, can we do? As we go out in the morning we can offer this prayer, "Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in You." We can thus put our frail, imperiled lives--into the hands of our almighty God!

"Cast your burden upon the Lord--and He shall sustain you." Psalm 55:22. We are not promised that our prayers shall take the perils and temptations out of our day. It is not thus, that God usually helps. We are bidden to cast our burden upon the Lord--but we are not told that He will lift it away from us. The promise is that we shall be sustained and strengthened in bearing it.

We need the burden! It is God's gift to us, and has a blessing in it, which we cannot afford to miss. Prayer does not take our trials away--but it puts our life into the hands of God--so that in His keeping, we shall be kept from harm while we pass through our trials. It brings God's grace into our heart--to preserve us from falling into sin; and God's strength into our life--that we may be victorious over our enemies.

Not to pray as we go into the day's dangers and trials--is to meet them without the help of Christ, and surely to suffer hurt, and possibly to fall into sin!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Grace Fellowship: What Does Christian Love Look Like?

Colossians 1:4

Where do you start? As far as we’re concerned today, I want to start with Colossians 1 and discuss the subject of Christian love. In Christianity, the subject of faith concerns what we believe. Love is concerned with how we live. True faith in the Lord Jesus always results in love for His people. Real faith produces true love. Epaphras saw both faith and love in the Colossians as evidence of their true conversion. It is that love of Christians for fellow Christians that concerns us this morning.

Full Sermon Notes
[For sermon audio click here]

Hymns: Brethren, We Have Met to Worship

Words: George At­kins, 1819.
Music: Ho­ly Man­na, Will­iam Moore, The Co­lum­bi­an Har­mo­ny, 1825.

Brethren, we have met to worship and adore the Lord our God;
Will you pray with all your power, while we try to preach the Word?
All is vain unless the Spirit of the Holy One comes down;
Brethren, pray, and holy manna will be showered all around.

Brethren, see poor sinners round you slumbering on the brink of woe;
Death is coming, hell is moving, can you bear to let them go?
See our fathers and our mothers, and our children sinking down;
Brethren, pray and holy manna will be showered all around.

Sisters, will you join and help us? Moses’ sister aided him;
Will you help the trembling mourners who are struggling hard with sin?
Tell them all about the Savior, tell them that He will be found;
Sisters, pray, and holy manna will be showered all around.

Is there here a trembling jailer, seeking grace, and filled with tears?
Is there here a weeping Mary, pouring forth a flood of tears?
Brethren, join your cries to help them; sisters, let your prayers abound;
Pray, Oh pray that holy manna may be scattered all around.

Let us love our God supremely, let us love each other, too;
Let us love and pray for sinners, till our God makes all things new.
Then He’ll call us home to Heaven, at His table we’ll sit down;
Christ will gird Himself and serve us with sweet manna all around.

Grace Gems: The highest attainment in Christian life

(J. R. Miller, "The Life of Jesus")

"Do this in remembrance of Me." 1 Corinthians 11:25

The secret of all the noble heroisms of the Church, has been passionate love for Jesus!

The Lord's Supper was intended to keep Christ always vividly in remembrance. We are to think of Him, when we have the sacred memorials of His love in our hands, reminding us of what He did to redeem us. But we are to think of Him just as devoutly, when we are away from the sacred table--in the midst of worldly tasks and circumstances.

If we always remember Christ, it will keep us faithful in our loyalty--as true to Him out on the streets, and when we are tempted and tried--as when we are at His feet in prayer.

Remembering Christ, will transform us into His likeness. Our thoughts are the builders, which rear the temple of our character. If we think of unclean things--our lives will become unclean. If we think of earthly things--we will grow earthly. If we think of Christ, if thoughts of Him are in our mind and heart continually, we will be changed, moment by moment, into His beauty!

The highest attainment in Christian life--is to always remember Christ, never to forget Him, to keep His blessed face ever before us. Then we shall never lose His peace out of our hearts. Then we shall never fail Him in any duty or struggle. Then we shall never be lonely, for remembering Christ will keep us ever conscious of His gracious presence.

Grace Gems

Friday, November 6, 2009

Funny: Steven Crowder

Obama's Holloween!

Grace Gems: He is especially kind to the lambs

(J. R. Miller, "The Life of Jesus")

"I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep!" John 10:11

The shepherd is a favorite Scriptural picture of the divine love and care. In the Old Testament, the twenty-third Psalm gathers the whole wonderful truth in exquisite lines which are dear to both young and old, wherever the Bible is known. Then in the New Testament, when our Lord would give His friends the sweetest revealings of His heart toward them, and tell them what they are to Him, and what He would be to them--He says, "I am the Good Shepherd."

The earthly shepherd lives with his sheep. If they are out in the storm, or exposed to any danger--he is with them. Likewise, Christ lives with His people--in all their afflictions, and all their storms. He enters into closest relations with them.

The earthly shepherd knows his sheep. He has a name for each one--and calls them all by their names. Christ knows each one of His friends, and has intimate personal knowledge of each one. He knows the best in us--and also the worst. He knows our faults, our sins, our wanderings. Yet, knowing us as we are--He loves us still, and never wearies of us!

The earthly shepherd is most gentle with his sheep. He does not drive them--but goes before them and leads them. When they need rest on the way, he makes them lie down, and chooses for their resting-place, not the dusty road--but green pastures.
He is especially kind to the lambs, gathers them in his arms and carries them in his bosom. All this is an exquisite picture of the gentleness of our Good Shepherd, in His care of His sheep. He is thoughtful toward the weak. He loves the 'lambs' and makes room for them in His bosom. Whatever the need is, there is something in the heart of Christ which meets its craving, and supplies its lack.

The earthly shepherd defends his flock in all danger. Often he has to risk his own safety, even his life, in protecting his sheep. Just so, the Good Shepherd gives His life for His sheep. Christ's sheep are absolutely safe in His keeping. "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish--ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!" John 10:28. Then at last He will bring His own all safely home, "and they shall become one flock, one Shepherd."

Grace Gems

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Theology: Hermen Who? - Part 4

Part 4: Grammatical Historical Method of Interpretation

There is another complication that we have to deal with when reading the scripture, that is our separation/distance from the period in which it was spoken/written.

In my examples last week talking about baseball or Afghanistan in our modern American culture you know exactly what I mean. But that may not be the case if you live in Asia for example.

Let me give you five points to consider in order for us to understand what God is communicating when looking at a specific text:

1. Culture
- What life was like for the audience, traditions, customs, etc.
- What the geography is like, warm/cold, Mountains/desert, etc.

2. Setting
- For example in the book of judges there was no king to tell the people what to do.
- Were the Israelites in exile?

3. Language
- The meaning of a word is determined by context and usage

4. Time
- We have more scientific and historical knowledge that we can not impose on the understanding of the audience.

5. Covenant
- Old Testament: Quid Pro Quo
- New Testament: Spiritual

Take the time before getting into a book to research this information that is sometimes already in the introduction of some good study bibles.

Grace Gems: Earth's broken things

(J. R. Miller)

"This man welcomes sinners--and eats with them!" Luke 15:2

"I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you!" Matthew 21:31

Christ is building His kingdom with
earth's broken things.

Men want only the strong, the successful, the victorious, the unbroken--in building their kingdoms. But God is the God of the broken, the unsuccessful, of those who have failed. Heaven is filling with earth's broken lives, and there is no 'bruised reed' which Christ cannot take and restore to glorious blessedness and beauty. He can take the life crushed by pain or sorrow--and make it into a harp whose music shall be all praise. He can lift earth's saddest failure--up to heaven's glory!

Grace Gems

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Politics: Republicans Win!

Republicans scored a pair of critical victories Tuesday night, winning the governor's races in both New Jersey and Virginia.

"The Republican Party's overwhelming victory in Virginia is a blow to President Obama and the Democrat Party. It sends a clear signal that voters have had enough of the president's liberal agenda,"

Full Article: Fox News

Weapons: Criminals won't obey gun laws

Believe it or Not!

I keep seeing in the news where some people want more "gun control." Their ultimate goal seems to be a law that bans the possession of a gun by anybody.

For those who may think a criminal is going to read about such a law and say to himself, "Oh, my goodness! I can't have a gun so I guess I can't be an armed robber anymore," I would ask these people, "What is the definition of a criminal?"

A criminal is someone who does not obey the law. If he is not concerned about the laws against murder, armed robbery, forcible rape, home invasion, carjacking, drive-by shooting, ad infinitum, why is he going to obey this gun law?

The only thing this will really accomplish is to leave the law-abiding citizens, who will obey the law and turn in their guns, completely at the mercy of armed criminals. All law-abiding citizens should have the right to own a gun if they choose.

Get a gun, learn how to use it and put it in a safe place where it will stay and never harm anyone as long as it is left alone. It will never, on its own, commit a crime.

Our laws should be directed at the person who picks the gun up and uses it illegally, not at the gun itself.

Some people seem to think we don't need a gun because we have the police. The average response time to a 911 call is 22 minutes. An armed criminal can cause a lot of havoc in 22 minutes.

The question here is, is it better to have a gun and not need it, or to need a gun and not have it?


Grace Gems: Better to rot in prison!

(J. R. Miller, "Practical Lessons from the Story of Joseph")

"How can I do this great wickedness--and sin against God!" Genesis 39:9

"After hearing his wife's story, Potiphar was furious! He took Joseph and threw him into the prison!" Genesis 39:19-20

Sometimes it costs very dearly--to be true to God. Joseph lay now in a dungeon. But his loss through doing right, was nothing in comparison with what he would have lost--had he done the wickedness to which he was tempted. His prison gloom, deep as it was--was as noonday, compared with what would have been the darkness of his soul under the blight of evil, and the bitterness of remorse. The chains that hung upon him in his dungeon, were but like feathers--in comparison with the heavy chains which would have bound his soul, had he yielded to the temptation. Though in a prison, his feet hurt by the fetters--he was a free man because his conscience was free, and his heart was pure!

No fear of consequences should ever drive us to do a wrong thing.

It is better to suffer any loss, any cost, any sacrifice--than be eaten up by remorse!

Better be hurled down from a high place for doing right--than win worldly honor by doing wrong.

Better lose our right hand--than lose our purity of soul.

Better to rot in prison--than to sin against God!

It was the prayer of a young queen, which she wrote with a diamond point on her castle window, "Keep me pure; make others great." That is the lesson of Joseph's victory over temptation; dishonor, loss, dungeon, death--anything before sin!

Grace Gems

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Creation: Ken Ham

State of the Nation - Part 3

Creation: BBC News: “Darwin Teaching ‘Divides Opinion’”

Darwinism is a controversial topic, and many believe creation should be taught in the classroom. But why is that news?

A survey conducted by the British Council in ten countries has revealed that the majority of respondents who were familiar with Darwinism think it should be taught alongside other views on life’s origin. (The survey is part of the council’s year-long “Darwin Now” program.) But in spite of the support for teaching multiple views that the survey revealed, the council’s press release on the survey puzzlingly declares, “Darwin Survey Shows International Consensus on Acceptance of Evolution.”

Surveyers interviewed 11,000 people from Argentina, China, Egypt, India, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, and the U.S. Among those respondents who were familiar with Darwin’s theory (apparently just under two-thirds of all respondents; only 70 percent reported knowing who Darwin was), those from Argentina were most likely to believe (68 percent) that other perspectives on life’s origin should be taught in science classes alongside Darwinian evolution.

Interestingly, in no country surveyed did a majority believe only evolution should be taught. Respondents from India were most likely to have that view (49 percent), followed by those from Spain (42 percent). Also interesting is that Spain was the country with the smallest proportion of respondents who believed other perspectives should be taught alongside Darwinian evolution—but at 38 percent, that fraction is almost as large as the number in Spain advocating evolution-only.

As for the scientific merits of the idea itself, only 41 percent of American respondents who claimed to be familiar with Darwin and his theory agreed that enough scientific evidence exists to support it. In fact, in only one country—China—did a majority of respondents agree that life on earth, including humans, evolved as a result of natural selection, with no supernatural intervention.

Despite the press release’s title, then, the survey is a clear confirmation that many people worldwide are not convinced by the naturalism-infused science used to support Darwinism. Further, a global majority believes Darwinism shouldn’t have exclusive reign in science classes on life’s origin. (For all the results, see the press released linked above.)

Everyone is free to take an online version of the survey. Be warned, however, that many of the questions seem to be worded with little thought or awareness of young-earth creation views. (For example, question three implies that creationists do not believe life has changed at all since creation.)

Answers in Genesis

Grace Gems: The two birds

(J. R. Miller, "Finding God's Comfort" 1896)

"Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects
; therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty." Job 5:17

He is not happy at the time, at least, in the world's way. No affliction for the present seems to be joyous--but grievous. No one enjoys having troubles, sufferings, trials, sorrows. Therefore this statement made by Eliphaz appears very strange to some people. They cannot understand it. It is contrary to all their thoughts of happiness.

Of course the word 'happy' is not used here in the world's sense. The world's happiness is the pleasure that comes from the things that happen. It depends on personal comfort, on prosperous circumstances, on kindly and congenial conditions. When these are taken away--the world's happiness is destroyed.

But the word happy, here means blessed--and the statement is that blessing comes to him who receives God's correction. To correct, is to set right--that which has been wrong. Surely if a man is going in the wrong way, and God turns his feet back and sets him in the right way--a blessing has come to the man!

Afflictions are 'God's corrections'. They come always with a purpose of love in them. God never afflicts one of His children, without meaning His child's good in some way. So blessing is always intended by God. It is usually afterward that people begin to see and to understand the good that God sent them in their trial. "You do not understand what I am now doing" said Jesus, "but you shall understand hereafter." "No chastening seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." So when we have troubles and afflictions, we may know that God wants to do us good in some way through them.

Since this is so, Job was exhorted by Eliphaz, "Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty." God chastens us to bless us--to do us good. He chastens us because He loves us.

He is not a true parent, who sees his children doing wrong, and yet fails to correct them for fear he may hurt their feelings. He ought to think of their higher good, and chasten them now--to profit them afterward.

This is the way our heavenly Father works. He never loves us better--than when He is correcting us. Therefore we ought not to despise this chastening. We ought not to murmur or complain when God does not give us our own way--but checks us, lays His afflictive hand upon us, and sends trouble upon us! We ought to have such faith in God--that we shall submit quietly, confidently, and sweetly to his will--even when it brings a heavy cross into our life.

A great many people need to pause at this line--and learn it. They do not treat God's chastening with reverence. Sometimes they are crushed by it, and refuse to look up into God's face with submission and love. Sometimes they grow bitter against God and say hard things of Him! We ought to reverence God's chastening; we ought to listen to the voice that speaks to us in our grief or pain.

The way in which God brings blessing through chastening, is emphasized: "For He wounds--but He also binds up; He strikes--but His hands also heal." Job 5:18. God never smites with both hands at once! When one hand is laid upon us in affliction--the other hand is reached out to help, to uphold, to heal.

Sometimes there is a trouble in a man's body which requires the surgeon's knife. There must be amputation, or cutting away, or cutting into. In such a case the skillful surgeon does not hesitate. He thinks far more of his patient's health for the future--than of his comfort at present. So he uses his knife--that he may cure disease, or save life. He wounds--to heal. He makes sore--that he may bind up. It is just so in all afflictions which God sends. He chastens--that He may deliver from the power of temptation. He hurts the body--that he may save the soul. He takes away earthly property--that He may give true, heavenly riches.

One writer tells of
two birds and how they acted when caught and put into a cage. One, a 'starling', flew violently against the wire walls of its prison, in unavailing efforts to escape--only battering and bruising its own wings. The other bird, a 'canary', perched itself on the bar and began to pour forth bursts of sweet song, from its little throat. We know which bird was the wiser and happier.

Some people are like the starling--when they are in any trouble, they chafe and fret and complain and give way to wretchedness! The result is, they only hurt themselves, make themselves more miserable, and do not in any sense lessen their trouble. It is wiser always, as well as more pleasing to God, for us to bear our trials patiently, singing songs of faith and love--rather than crying out in rebellion and discontent.

Job wanted to get near to God in his great trouble; he cried, "Oh that I knew where I might find Him!" He felt sure that that would be the best and safest place for him to be. We ought not to lose this lesson. When trouble is upon us--the true thing for us to do, is to flee to God! Some people, in their affliction and sorrow--flee away from God. Thus they lose their joy and peace, missing the comfort which they would get if only they kept near to Him. The right way to respond, is to try to find the way to God's very presence. He is the only safe refuge, when the storms of trouble break upon us. The first thing always, in any time of trouble--is to find God and hide away in His bosom, as a child runs to the mother in alarm, or as the little bird flies to its nest. To find God--is to be safe!

God is our truest and best friend! He is our Father--we need never fear to go to Him. He gives heed unto our cries. He loves us. All His omnipotence is on our side. No mother's heart was ever so full of love for her child--as is the heart of God for us, His children!

Grace Gems

Monday, November 2, 2009

Grace Fellowship: What Does A Christian Look Like? Pt. 2

Part 2: Colossians 1:1-8

What is a Christian? This week I was asked by an evangelical pastor if a person’s understanding of eschatology could be an indication that they were not saved. One hundred and fifty years ago, the question often asked was, “Can a man be a Christian and own slaves?” According to the book of Philemon, the answer is yes. Twenty-five years from now, the question may be, “Can a man be a Christian and NOT drive a solar-powered vehicle?”

Culture does not determine what Christianity is. Christians do not determine what Christianity is. The Bible tells us what real Christianity is. The Apostle Paul makes it very clear in Colossians, chapter 1. Last week we saw three things that characterize true Christianity, according to Colossians 1. They are:

1. Faith in Christ Jesus (v4a)
2. Love for ALL the saints (v4b)
3. The fruit of the gospel in their lives (v6), i.e.:
a. Their understanding of the grace of God in truth
b. Their love in the Spirit (same as “love for all the saints”?)
c. All of the above: faith, love, understanding.

Full Sermon Notes
[For sermon audio click here]

Hymns: Alive in Christ

Based on Ephesians 2:1-10
James Montgomery Boice, 2000

"But ... God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ." Eph. 2:4-5

I once was rebellious, corrupted by sin,
pursuing the devil's dark path,
Oblivious, dead to the state I was in,
an object of God's dreadful wrath.

But God who is rich in compassion and love,
not leaving my soul to the grave,
Has given life, born again from above
by God's sovereign grace I've been saved.

God lifted me up to the heavenly realms
where seated with Christ I am free;
In ages to come he will show me more grace
so great is his kindness to me.

Since grace is the source of the life that is mine
and faith is a gift from on high.
I'll boast in my Savior , all merit decline
and glorify God 'til I die.

Yet now I am living with work to be done
for I am God's workmanship too,
Created in Christ with a race to be run,
which God has ordained me to do.

Grace Gems: Life's highest and best lesson

(J. R. Miller, "The Story of Joseph, Practical Lessons")

We read that Joseph bore himself so congenially, and did his work so well, and was so capable, so true, so trustworthy--that Potiphar "left all that he owned under Joseph's care; he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate." Genesis 39:6. Joseph would never have won such a success--if he had given up to discouragement, if he had brooded over his wrongs, if he had sulked and complained, if he had spent his time in vain regrets or in vindictive feelings. We should learn the lesson, and it is worth learning--for it is
life's highest and best lesson.

The problem of life, is to keep the heart warm and kindly--amid all injustice and wrong; to keep the spirit brave and cheerful--in the midst of all that is hard in life's circumstances and conditions; to be true, and right, and strong--in all moral purpose and deed, however others may act toward us.

Our inner life should not be affected by our external experiences. Right is right, no matter what others around us may do. We must be true--no matter if all the world is false--even false to us. We must be unselfish and loving--though even our nearest friends prove selfish and cruel to us. We must keep our spirit strong, cheerful and hopeful--though adversities and misfortunes seem to leave us nothing of the fruit of all our labors.

In a word, we are to live victoriously, truly, nobly, sweetly, cheerfully, joyfully--in spite of whatever may be uncongenial in our condition!

This is the lesson of all Christian life. We should not let the outside darkness into our soul. We should seek to be delivered from all morbidness and all unwholesomeness. We should not allow anything to crush us.

Remember, your task in living--is to keep sweet, to keep your heart gentle, brave, strong, loving, full of hope--under the worst that the years can bring you of injustice, hardship, suffering, and trial.

Grace Gems

Friday, October 30, 2009

Funny: Steven Crowder

The Qur'an Challenge!

Grace Gems: A lazy minister!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care . . . not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock!" 1 Peter 5:2-3

We preachers must be examples to the flock. He who cannot be safely imitated, ought not to be tolerated in a pulpit!

Did I hear of a minister who was always striving for pre-eminence? Or of another who was covetous? Or of a third whose life was not always chaste? Or of a fourth who did not rise, as a rule, until eleven o'clock in the morning?

I would hope that this last rumor was altogether false. An idle minister! What will become of him? Does he expect to go to heaven? I was about to say, "If he does go there at all--may it be soon!" A lazy minister is a creature despised by men--and abhorred by God!

I said to a farmer, "You pay your minister such a small amount! Why, the poor man cannot live on it!" His answer was, "Look here, sir! I will tell you the truth--we give him a good deal more than he earns!"

It is a sad pity when that can be said; it is an injury to all those who follow our sacred calling. We are to be examples to our flock in all things. We are to excel . . .
in all diligence,
in all gentleness,
in all humility, and
in all holiness.

Grace Gems

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Theology: Hermen Who? - Part 3

Part 3: Authorial Intent - What did the Author intend to say?

Despite what we hear in most churches and universities today we can not start our interpretation with the question 'What does that mean to me?"

This is so basic that we don't give it a second thought in our everyday life because its fundamental in communication. When you listen to a news report of soldiers dying in Afghanistan do you then say to your self, "I feel like they are telling us how life is hard and we should pray for world peace". Or your wife asks you to stop at the store for milk and to you that means she needs you to go to the bar with some friends and relax.

When we read the bible we need to ask ourselves the question, "What did God say?" It simply does not matter what are feelings/opinions are on a verse what matters is what does it say. Now those feelings/opinions may help us understand and determine the correct interpretation but we must always start with the author.

In our Baseball illustration we saw that Context played a big part in correctly interpreting the story, specifically in this case it was the 'Setting' that helped. Next week we will get into the different considerations we need to think about before reading scripture.

Grace Gems: Little need for amusement!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity!"
Psalm 119:37

The man who is all aglow with love to Jesus, finds
little need for amusement! He has no time for
trifling--or for gadding abroad after frivolities!

An idle professor should not be allowed to remain in
the church--like a drone in a hive of working bees.

The best name for a church
is 'All Saints'. We want
churches that produce saints: men of mighty faith
and prevalent prayer; men of holy living, and of
consecrated working; men filled with the Holy Spirit.

We have no connection with the "Latter-day Saints",
but we love every-day saints. Oh, for more of them!

"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing
move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work
of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the
Lord is not in vain!" 1 Corinthians 15:58

Grace Gems

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Politics: Congress Warms to Public Option, Weighs Compromise Proposals

After raucous town hall meetings appeared to discourage moderate lawmakers from pursuing a government-run health insurance plan, both chambers of Congress are starting to warm to the idea once more.

A compromise is emerging in the Senate on a government-run health insurance plan that would give states an opportunity to either opt out of, or opt into, the program.

Fox News: Full Article

Weapons: Newspapers Gush Over Bloomberg's Latest Gun Control Escapade

...As Bloomberg's report on the stunt openly admits, his "investigators" attended gun shows only "in states . . . that supply crime guns trafficked across state lines at the highest rates," only in neighborhoods with the highest incidence of "federal prosecutions for straw buying and trafficking, and proximity to urban areas experiencing gang violence," and ultimately focused their attention on only 47 individuals who, based upon their comments and actions, seemed the most likely to violate a gun sale law.

...And, since the day of fair, hard and objective reporting has apparently passed into journalism's history, newspapers went along with Bloomberg's charade like shills at a carnival game of chance, reminding us why public confidence in "the press" has dropped to 15% in annual polls.

NRA-ILA :: Full Article

Grace Gems: The lamentation of a new-born soul

by John Newton
"Behold, I am vile!" Job 40:4

O Lord, how vile am I,
Unholy and unclean!
How can I dare to venture nigh,
With such a load of sin?

Is this polluted heart
A dwelling fit for Thee?
Swarming, alas! in every part,
What evils do I see!

If in Thy Word I look,
Such darkness fills my mind;
I only read a sealed book,
And no relief can find!

Thy gospel oft I hear,
But hear it still in vain;
Without desire, or love, or fear,
I like a stone remain!

Myself can hardly bear
This wretched heart of mine!
How hateful, then, must it appear,
To those pure eyes of Thine!

And must I, then, indeed,
Sink in despair and die?
Fain would I hope that Thou didst bleed
For such a wretch as I!

That blood which Thou hast spilt,
That grace which is Thy own,
Can cleanse the vilest sinner's guilt,
And soften hearts of stone!

Low at Thy feet I bow;
O pity and forgive!
Here will I lie, and wait till Thou,
Shalt bid me rise and live!

Grace Gems