Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Update From Iraq

No, this isn't serious, but it is funny. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Spurgeon Quote

Now that Ref21's rss feed is working again I have some catching up to do. Phil Rykin posted this wonderful quote by Charles Spurgeon:

From Charles Spurgeon, "The First Cry from the Cross":

places of worship are not built that you may sit here comfortably, and
hear something that shall make you pass away your Sundays with
pleasure. A church in London which does not exist to do good in the
slums, and dens, and kennels of the city, is a church that has no
reason to justify its longer existing. A church that does not exist to
reclaim heathenism, to fight with evil, to destroy error, to put down
falsehood, a church that does not exist to take the side of the poor,
to denounce injustice and to hold up righteousness, is a church that
has not right to be. Not for thyself, O church, dost thou exist, any
more than Christ existed for himself. His glory was that he laid aside
his glory. . . . . To rescue souls from hell and lead to God,, to hope,
to heaven, this is [the church's] heavenly occupation. O that the
church would always feel this!"

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Me Church

I'm sure others have seen this, but this certainly seems to be the logical ending of where many people say the church should be going to bring in new people.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
Proverbs 14:12 (ESV)

(HT: Biblical Christianity)

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Why Christians Should Be An Active Part Of The Church

The sheer number of people I know who claim to be believers in Jesus Christ, yet who have no interest to be part of a local church or to actively participate in her life or worship is astounding. Lately Even So has been dealing with this very thing, and I have linked to some of them. I am happy to say that now over at Voice of Vison, Even So has now added a link to all his posts about the need for those who believe in Christ to be an active part of a Christian fellowship. Check it out.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Are We Even Able To Think Of Christ Like This Today?

Mark 1:4-8 (ESV)
John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6Now John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 7And he preached, saying, "After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

As I was reading this part of my Bible reading today, I suddenly noticed John the Baptist's words about Jesus. He said, "After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie." What grabbed my attention is what he was saying. John the Baptist, one who is described this way by Jesus, "Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist." The prophet who was sent to prepare the way for Jesus the Christ. A man who was from our human perspective was a righteous man. Yet, he said of Jesus that he was not worthy to untie the straps of his sandals. That is he was not worthy of serving Jesus even in doing the sort of tasks a servant would do.

One could say this speaks of John's humility, but I think much more importantly it speaks of Christ's majesty. John realized his own falleness, and that in himself he was not worthy even to serve as a slave of Christ. He was not worthy to do this because of the mightyness of the one who would come after him.

I don't know about you, but I am no John the Baptist. Compared to him, from a human perspective I don't even come close. If John in himself was not worthy to serve Christ, how much more is that true of me, or you?

So often we don't even consider this. We think we are worthy to serve Christ in ourselves, but that little phrase reminds us that we are not. Do we even understand that today? Or have you and I made Jesus Christ into someone safe and easy, rather than who he is, mighty and awesome? In yourself, in myself, we are not worthy to even untie his sandals.

Yet, that does not mean you and I cannot serve him, just that we cannot serve him in our own position or power. I did not give the complete quote of Jesus statement about John the Baptist above. The whole thing is this, "Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."

In yourself you cannot serve Christ, but when you serve in Him, when you are washed of your sins by grace through faith, you are transferred from the kingdom of this world to the kingdom of heaven. That only comes one way, through what Jesus has done, and that means that if you serve him, the only way to do it, is through what he provides.

I think that is often the problem today. People seek to serve Christ without realizing that in themselves, in their own power, and by their own wisdom they cannot. They, like John the Baptist and like me, are not worthy to even untie his sandals. It is only when you and I come realizing that is true about us, that we can then serve--not in our worth, but in Christ's; not in our strength but in his by the Spirit given to us by him; not in our wisdom or understanding, but in his given through his word as the Spirit opens our hearts to it.

Even So Is On a Roll

Even So has yet another great post on the need for Christians to be active in the gathered worship of the church. Check it out here.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Called To Be Clean

This evening we started a new Series working through the 1st letter of Peter. This message focuses on how being the elect of our triune God is a comfort, especially in the face of persecution.

1 Peter 1:1-2 Called to be Clean

Of First Importance -- Part I

It seems that there are many voices around that say various different things are what are important, but the Bible is clear that what is of first importance is the gospel. In this first of a multi-part series preached at the morning service at Bethel Reformed Church in Exeter, we look at why the good news of Jesus Christ is not merely some peripheral part of Christianity, but instead is the central part of Christianity.

Of First Importance -- Part One 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Friday, January 26, 2007

Why Be Part Of A Church?

Even So has a well written, and very straight forward post of why if you are a believer you should be part of the church. He pulls no punches, so to speak, and the truth of what he says strikes at the core of those who argue that they can be Christians without being an active part of a local church.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Betrayed From Within

Over at Mark J's blog I found this quote from David Well:

"The post-modern world has destroyed logic, dispensed with history, discarded meaning, but deep within itself, as a Trojan horse, is its betrayer. What betrays it is the ineradicable sense of being part of a moral order that has never been pushed aside entirely successfully, of having to use language in a meaningful way in order to deny that meaning exists, of finding that in the moment in which the triumph of the emancipated self seems supreme, its own sickness becomes most serious. Fallen life is, indeed, in full flight from reality, and part of Christian responsibility in this fallen world is to illumine that flight."

David Wells. Losing Our Virtue, pg 177.

I am currently reading another book by David Wells, Above All Earthly Power. As I was reading I was struck more and more that the basic premise that many people in Canada and the US live by is rooted in inconsistency. It is rooted in a truth that says there is no truth. My thought is that people and a culture cannot continue to function with such a basic premise as their foundation. Such an internally inconsistent way of looking at the world will ultimately either fall to pieces because it does not actually help one understand the big questions of life, or it will lead to individual and societal breakdown into anarchy.

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Thursday Thoughts

The Iceland review reports that some research indicates that an enzyme found in Icelandic cod may be a cure for bird flu. Apparently the enzyme "penzim" will kill 99% of the H5N1 virus in five minutes. I'm not sure how this helps us unless we all bath in the stuff, and the article does not really explain how it could be delivered, although they do mention that is might work for other flu and cold viruses. I guess those mothers who said, "Take your cod liver oil, it will keep you healthy." were actually right.

I have always been against abortion, but I cannot say that I have been as effective a voice as I would like to be. If you feel the same way you will appreciated that John Piper has some resources to help you argue against abortion. Check them out, but better yet, speak out for the unborn whose lives are in constant danger in our culture of convenience. HT: Between Two Worlds.

Here is an interesting web-cam of an African watering hole.

Dr. Al Mohler shares the lessons he learned through his recent medical crisis. Good observations that I realized I should consider while I am healthy and clear headed.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Does Richard Dawkins Exist?

Browsing through some of the blogs on the League of Reformed Bloggers, I found this posted at 3:17. It is a good parable of how foolish certain smart people can be. Check it out.

In The Beginning

As I thumbed my way through the pages of "The God Delusion", a question
dropped into my head. Does Richard Dawkins really exist?

Being a scientific and rational person, I decided that I wasn't going to
just accept any old theory on this question. If Richard Dawkins exists,
then I would need to be shown the proper evidence for it. Others can
have their own superstitious beliefs, based on who-knows-what, but I
would only be convinced by empirical science. If there is a Dawkins,
why hasn't he shown himself to me?

What Happened Next

As I pondered this, a man wearing a pointy hat wandered into the room.
He erected a little box a few feet off the ground, climbed on to it,
and began speaking to me.

As he talked he began, rather dogmatically, to insist on a number of
things. Apparently, it was clear and obvious that Richard Dawkins
existed. Did I not have his own book in my hands? Did it not have
Dawkins' name on the front, and the imprints of his thoughts on every
page? If I wanted to see evidence for Dawkins, was it not to
be found throughout this little tome? Dawkins, he said, had shown
himself to me everywhere. What could be a sufficient cause for such a
book, if not a Dawkins? The alternatives were incredible. They required
far more faith than simply to accept that the pages were the work of
the said Richard.

Enter The Expert

As I pondered this idea, a man with a white coat suddenly appeared. He
smiled warmly, showed me a piece of paper with a huge number of letters
on it, and began to address me. As he did so, he drew my attention to a
number of undeniable facts. The book that I was holding, you see, was
made up of pages. And each of those pages could be shown to be composed
from a certain type of paper, made from wood pulp. Upon the paper, were
a number of very tiny dots, arranged in a kind of code. Everything
about the book could be explained, and he had explained it.

(Read More)

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

If Anyone Wanders -- James 5:19-20

The final sermon in our congregation's study of the letter of James. This one looks at our mutual responsibility to care for one another in our walk with Christ.

When One Wanders -- James 5:19-20

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Friday, January 19, 2007

New Look

Even though my wife doesn't like three column blog layouts, I do, so I decided to switch from the abundance of two column blog templates to a three column one. It was a little more work than I expected, but I hope those who visit here will enjoy the new layout.

Notice also that I am now included in the League of Reformed Bloggers aggregator. It took a little while, but not that long. Check out some of the other blogs from that list in the left most column.

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Workshop on Biblical Exposition

As I was reading Ref21 today I saw that Phil Ryken posted about the Biblical Exposition workshop that is going to be held at Tenth on February 6-8. Although I would very much like to go, the cost this year would be a little much. However, going to the web-site of the organization that puts on these workshops I noticed they also have other workshops across the USA and Canada. Happily they have one in Toronto as well that is planned for March 7-9. Although there may be a conflict for me on the 7th, the rest of those days are open right now, so I am seriously thinking of going.

If you are a pastor in South-Western Ontario or in the Golden Horseshoe, I hope that you are aware of this, and consider taking advantage of it. The price is quite reasonable.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

How we Proclaim Christ is Important

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

1And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

As I was doing my morning Bible reading, well early afternoon today, I was struck again by this passage. In it Paul points out to the Corinthian church that when he came to them and preached the good news of Jesus Christ, that testimony of God, he did not do it with "lofty speech or wisdom."

To understand what is going on here we need to remember that one of the problems in the church in Corinth seemed to be a going back to Greek wisdom, if not outright, at least in terms of how they viewed those who they heard proclaiming the gospel. By that I mean that at the very least the way they judged those who spoke was on how well they used rhetoric, hence the various divisions following various teachers. At worst they were looking for the teachings to match up with those of the various Greek philosophies of the time. More than likely it was some mixture of both of these.

But, Paul points out to them that he did not come like this. He did not come as some itinerant philosopher who spoke with great rhetorical skill (lofty words) or who presented some mere human wisdom. Instead, Paul strove to proclaim one thing only, "Jesus Christ and him crucified." He set out with the intention of proclaiming a message that earlier he said was, "folly to the Gentiles." The message of a man, who is more than a mere man, who was put to death by the shameful execution on a cross. Paul gave them not the wisdom of the world they could find from any traveling philosopher, but Jesus Christ the Son of God put to death on the cross for the sins of his people.

Neither did Paul get caught up with a stylish presentation. He came in "weakness and fear and much trembling." He came now in his own seeming power, but in humility, knowing his own weakness. He did not use the words of the wisdom of this world, but instead came with a demonstration of the Holy Spirit and of power.

But, why did Paul come this way? Why not use the "lofty speech or wisdom?" Would that not be what would attract a good crowd since that is what they were used to? Would that not have given his message more authority in their eyes? From our human point of view we would think so, but Paul realized that to do so would be to compromise the message, the testimony of God he came to proclaim.

This is not to say he used obscure language that they could not understand. Nor did it mean he never used rhetorical devices to make the message clear, but rather that first, he did not depend on these things, and second, he realized that, to be anachronistic, "the medium is the message." Paul did not want them to miss the message of Christ crucified. He know that message was folly to the natural mind, so he did not try to overcome that by making it seem less foolish by use of those things that might obscure it. Instead he looked to the power of the Spirit to work as he proclaimed as clearly as he could "Jesus Christ and him crucified."

The reason for this is found in the last verse, "that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God." That is, how the message of Christ is presented can change what a person's faith rests in. It is possible to use lots of wonderful techniques, and end up with people whose faith is not resting in the power of God, that is in "Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." (1 Cor. 1:24)

This is a sobering reminder to myself as a pastor, and to all of us as Christians, that we must be careful to make sure that we are proclaiming Christ crucified in the power of the Spirit, and not obscuring him or the seeming foolishness and weakness, from a human point of view, of the cross by our techniques. This is something that we must consider. We must ask ourselves are the things we are doing bringing people to rest in Christ the power of God, or to rest in some mere human thing like the appealing speaker, or the helpful life advice, or the wonderful music (contemporary or traditional), or any other thing. We need to consider how do we in our congregational worship and life, and in our personal life, "know nothing . . . except Jesus Christ and him crucified."

These are vitally important questions. They are questions we too often have neglected to the detriment of the church as a whole. I am sad to say that there are many people in churches today whose faith is not yet resting in Christ because it is instead resting in something else that has obscured him from their view. So ask yourself how do I show people by all I do that they are to rest in Christ alone?

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Thursday Thoughts

This will be a new and hopefully regular installment on my blog. Basically, this is another blog-spotting and things I have found interesting this past week type of post. Partly I do it so I can keep various things I have found interesting in some location where I can find them again, and partly I do it to share those things with others. I hope those few people who read here will enjoy this new addition.

Carl Truman had some very insightful things to say about how congregations and pastors can give in to pride in our presentation or promotion of ourselves to those around us. As I read it I realize that there is a great danger in how we promote ourselves to other, and realizing that leads to the question Carl Truman asks, "How do we attract others to what we have that is good without drawing attention to ourselves rather than Christ?" An excellent question, and one that I am a pastor and the congregation I serve in need to ask more often.

Tim Challies has an excellent post concerning providence that grew out of a posting by Paul Martin on the current move in Canada to recommend genetic testing on all pregnancies so that those in their 20's can have the same choice to put their unborn child to death as those who are over 35, and Paul's following up on the dangers of genetic counseling. All of these are well worth the read.

Ian over a Rumination By The Lake has a helpful selections of links dealing with Global warming. I agree with his that human caused Global Warming is not nearly as clearly truth as the MSM would have us believe. He also challenges believers in Jesus Christ to realize that taking not taking care of the creation is a sin, and asks, "What should be do, as Christians, to provide for the environment without falling into earth-worship?"

R. Scott Clark answers a person's question on whether the call to "believe" is law or gospel.

Finally, a post from a person I count as a friend and brother in Christ who also serves in an RCA congregation. F. Scott Petersen ask and gives what he thinks the answer to "What constitutes Fruitfulness?"

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Last Time On The Chan Video

I posted here because I was too tired to fiddle with posting a comment on Pyromaniacs when it told me I was with the new blogger and asked me to log in, Dan Phillips has an excellent post on what Chan's biggest mistake in his video was . . . well not really. It is a tongue in cheek approach that shows how easily we ignore things like titles. If Chan had titled the video, "A Systematic and Full Presentation of Every Dimension of Gospel Truth" then he would have been misleading his viewers, but that is not what he did. It was entitled "Just Stop and Think." As I said here if that was the purpose, to make people stop and think, then the video achieves that. The title itself shows that is the intention, to have people stop and think and for those the Spirit is working in, to start them down the road to understanding the gospel. To further support that, notice that under the video is a link entitled, "What to see more to think about?" taking a person back to the "Just Stop and Think" web-page where there is more detailed information.

With Dan, I would not want the many people out there who are not a Don Carson, a James White, or one of those other excellent apologists, to not give an answer because they are worried that what they say may not be a complete and systematic exposition of the gospel. Instead, I want them to answer as best they can, as true to scripture as they can, in whatever conversations with unbelievers that God in his providence provides.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Power Of Prayer

Last Sunday Evening we looked at the last part of the section on prayer in James chapter five. After speaking of how prayer is a fitting personal response of the believer to times of suffering, how those who are sick should call the elders of the church to pray for them, and how we have a responsibility to prayer for one another, James was inspired to encourage those to whom he was writing to pray by reminding them of the power of prayer.

The Power of Prayer -- James 5:16b-18

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The Francis Chan Video

For those who follow the same sort of blogs I do, (Pyromaniacs, ... and his ministers a flame of fire, Camponthis, etc) you probably have read at least a bit about the video on the internet by Francis Chan. The discussion has went back and forth about whether this video presents the full gospel. As I considered the various discussions I found I agreed that there were certain things lacking in the video. There are places where it could be better, especially if it is meant to be a full orbed gospel presentation. However, the more I consider it, the more I wonder if that is what it is supposed to be.

Perhaps the problem here is that those who want a full gospel presentation in the video are expecting something that was never intended. If this video was intended not so much as a full gospel presentation, but as something to make people "just stop and think" then to expect the gospel in all its wonderful detail to be presented might be looking for it in the wrong place. Just a quick look over the web-site that the video in found on finds more detailed information in the various links. Maybe not as much as we might like, but certainly enough for a person to come to a fuller understanding of the gospel, and to warn against some of the false hopes people have.

I don't know the intention of the video, but having watched it several times, I do know that for many people it would make them stop and maybe think about things they have never considered before this. It may be used by the Holy Spirit to start someone down the road to repentance and faith. If that is what it was intended to do, then I think it has achieved it.

Are there things I would do differently? Certainly. But, this video is very well done, and I hope and pray it is used to make many people stop and think.

An excellent take on this is given by Phil Johnson over at Pyromaniacs. I encourage you to check it out.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

When Liberals Gain Power

I found this insightful posting by Dan Phillips. He is speaking about the situation in the USA, but I think much the same could be said in Canada. Yes, we have more than two parties, but in reality there are only two that will form the government under the present electoral system. One is virtually completely against a Christian world/life view, the other while often against it, is not always against it. Which should we vote for? I think the answer is clear.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

BIG Bunnies

I would never have thought that a rabbit could get this big, but apparently, as reported here, Karl Szmolinsky has bred a German Gray Giant rabbit that tops the scales at 10.5 Kilograms (that is a little over 23 pounds.) Apparently the North Koreans want this line of bunnies to try to help with their food shortage, and Mr. Szmolinsky is doing all he can to help them establish a breding program. All I can say it that is one big bunny.

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Praying For One Another

Sermon on James 5:16a.

Praying for one Another

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Not What I Like To Do On Saturday

Today was filled with working on our van. It along with our other two vehicles, stopped working, that is, it wouldn't start. Well, after posting over at AstroSafari and reading the replies there, and talking to one of the members (Peter) who called me on the phone, I realize that the probable cause was the age of the spark-plugs, rotors, and distributor cap. I replaced those, that was a real chore, but it is all done. That solved the problem, and the van is running again. A difficult day, but a good day.

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Offroading Taken To The Extreme

I came across this video through the Astro/Safari site I am a member of. I can't say I like the music, but those Russian guys certainly take "off road" to the extreme. What made me laugh is one scene where their vehicle is almost completely under water and they turn on their wipers as if that will help.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

If When it Rains it Pours, This Must be a Downpour

Ok, now we are down to no vehicles. As mentioned in an earlier post, the Safari won't start, the Sunrunner has no brakes (found the broken brake line though so I can fix it), but the Mazda Protege was still working.

Well, my wife got back from what she was doing at about 2:30. I got my stuff and headed out to visit. The first place I stopped was at a nursing home where a member of the congregation I serve lives. She is not in good health, and has been pretty much none responsive except to groan or other noises like that for months now. Usually the visit is fairly short with me talking, reading some scripture, and praying. After the visit I got out to the Mazda, turned the key, and nothing happened. Well, the various indicator lights came on, and the radio played, but the engine didn't turn over. I tried again. Still nothing. Tried one more time. Still nothing. I popped the hood, noticed the oil was low, topped it off just in case that was the cause. Tried again. Nothing. Called CAA, and waited 45 minutes. Got a tow to the place we trust to do the work on our car, and left it there. Walked home (in shoes that really were not meant for walking so my heal is all blistered and sore, and tried the van again which had the battery charging for quite a while. Still won't start.

So now we have three vehicles, none of which I can use. We have a Sunrunner that has a broken brake line, so I can't drive it without brakes. We have a van that will crank but not start, and we have a car that will not even turn over. Needless to say, this is not what I expected for the day. I will have to see about finding precisely where the brake line is broken, so I can bicycle to the parts place and get another one. Once that is fixed at least I can get around. Then I will have to see what is up with the van. I am asking around for idea, hopefully someone has one that get get it going again. And, I will wait to hear from the mechanic about the Mazda. I think I will let him fix it.

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Yahoo or Google

Since switching my blog over to Blogger, I have been checking my stats to see where people are coming from. Most come either through bookmarks or links on other pages, or through the comments I make on other blogs. So far no one has come through search engine. Because of that, I have been doing searches on Google for my blog posts, and they have not shown up. Today I decided to try Yahoo. Amazingly, the topic I searched for showed up. Check out this screen capture.

So it seems that Yahoo was quicker at adding my blog to their database than Google was. I find that strange since Google owns Blogger, but for now, they still don't seem to know I exist.

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Looking into the Womb 2

Check out this video on MSNBC. It shows more footage from the National Geographic special that I mentioned here.

Seeing these images shows the lie of abortionists that before birth babies are only tissue. These babies in the womb play and interact. They are babies that are not yet born, but they are most certainly not less than any one who is born. I cannot imagine that this is the sort of video those who want abortion on demand want people to see, but I do believe it is the sort of thing that people need to see.

HT: Denny Burk

Here is the National Geographic promotional piece.

Vehicle Trouble

It seems that when is rains it pours. Tuesday I was heading out to a meeting about an 1.5 hour drive away from home. I filled up the Sunrunner at the local gas station, and as I was pulling out I noticed the brakes were barely working. I drove carefully home, and instead took the Safari realizing that I will need to fix the brakes before going anywhere with the Sunrunner.

Today, I head out to do some visiting, and try to start our Safari. It would crank, but not start. I tried several times with no success. Then I figured that the Sunrunner was right beside it, I could jump start it from there. Well that didn't work either. I hooked the battery charger up to the Safari, and it registered a low battery on its gauge, so I guess that mean the battery we bought less than a year back is either not holding charge, or that something in the van is drawing power from it to pull it down enough to not be able to start the van.

Since the van will turn over, I am wondering if perhaps it needs a new rotor, cap and plugs. We had a similar problem about a week ago. I figured I had drained the battery enough because I had left my inverter plugged in, and the accessory outlets on the van don't turn off when you turn off the engine. However, once the battery was charged, the van started and ran. I even took it to my meeting on Tuesday with no problems with starting it. So I am starting to wonder.

Anyway, that leaves us with one vehicle, and that means I am stuck at home until Annette gets done with what she is doing.

On the positive side, I think I have found the brake problem. It looks like I have a leaking brake line on the front passenger side. I will have to do some more exploring to fine exactly where though. What it looks like is that the metal line on that side has been damaged, but that was me looking while I was trying to jump start the van while in my work clothes. Not really the best way to look.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Test of the "Proformacing" extention

On Jollyblogger I found a list of interesting Firefox plugins. Proformancing is one that allows you to blog while browsing with Firefox. Basically their is a small icon on the bottom of the Firefox window that you can click and it will pull up an editor. At the same time the web-page you were looking at is still there, so if you are blogging about something on it, it is available right in front of you. It looked good to me, and I have installed it. This is my first post using it.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Zeal For God, Can it Save?

Romans 10:1-4 (ESV)
[1] Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. [2] I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. [3] For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. [4] For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Often people will say that because a person is zealous or rigorous or hard working for God, that they must be going to heaven. The most obvious example of this sort of thinking is Mother Theresa. They look at all the things she did for the orphans and needy in India. They see that she did it because of God, and they assume that she has now gone to heaven. They never ask any other questions, only say look at her zeal for God.

Do you see the thinking going on here? Those who are zealous for God, who work hard for God, must be going to heaven. However, is that really the case? Does working hard and giving up much for God mean that automatically a person goes to heaven? I would say that the clear answer in the Bible is, "No."

I say that because of verses like the ones we just read. There Paul is speaking about the Jews, his own people by genetic birth. His great desire is that they would be saved. That is, that they would be set free from their sins, and be made right with God. I'm sure there are many reasons behind that desire. They are his own people group and so he has a closer connection to them. They are the ones who God made the covenant with at Mt Sinai. They are the ones from whom Jesus traces his earthly decent. They are the ones through whom God gave his word in the law and the prophets. But, notice that because this is Paul's desire, that they would be saved, it means that at least some and very likely many of them are not saved.

What is important to our thought about those who are zealous for God is in the next sentence. After saying that his desire is that they would be saved, implying that many of them are not, we read, "I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge."

The Jews were zealous for God. They, for the most part, worked very hard to live for him. Among the Pharisees there was a great zeal for God leading to a whole oral tradition that was meant to keep people far away from breaking the commands of God. Yet, the implication of the previous sentence is that in spite of all this, for the most part they are not saved. That would point to zeal for God not being enough to save a person. They had zeal. They worked hard. But, they were not saved.

The reason given here is that their zeal was "not according to knowledge." That is, they were not zealous for God in the way they should have been. For that matter, they should have known better.

This is expanded in the next verse, "For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness." The lack of knowledge they exhibited in their zeal for God, was that through that zeal they had for God, they were trying to establish their own righteousness. This was not, and for that matter is not, what God desires. The knowledge they were ignorant of was that there is a righteousness that comes from God. Instead of seeking to be found righteous in that righteousness from God, they sought to be righteous on their own, zealously striving to do good.

Yes, they wanted to serve God. Yes, they wanted to keep his commands. Yes, they believed God is real and wants his people to be holy. But, where they went wrong, and why they were not saved, was because they were trying to be righteous in themselves. They were trying to make themselves acceptable or worthy before God.

In doing this they missed the very thing God had revealed in the scriptures. Abraham was not made acceptable by his good works, but as is pointed out in Chapter 4 of Romans, "For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness."" (Romans 4:3) The scriptures given to the Jews did not set out a way of making oneself righteous before God by zealous good works, but taught that one was counted or declared righteous by trusting in God and the righteousness that comes from him. That is why they were zealous, but not according to knowledge.

With the coming of Christ this has been made even more clear. As the final sentence reminds the us, "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." That is, Christ makes the truth of this clear. He shows in his perfect sinless life that, as the scriptures teach, only perfection will be accepted by God. He shows in his suffering and death what striving after righteousness in our own power, no matter how zealous for God we may be, results in, death and facing the infinite punishment our sins against an infinite God deserve. As was stated earlier in this letter, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." It is only by trusting in Jesus Christ that a person is made right, righteous before God. There is no other way. Because not only does he show that our zealous activity for God is not enough to save us, be he provides the perfect righteousness, the righteousness from God, that we need. He gives it to all who believe in him.

So, back to the original question, can a person be zealous for God yet still be lost? The answer is clearly that they can. They can believe that God is. They can work to please him. They can strive to do good and resist evil. They can do all this, yet still not be saved, because they are not trusting in Christ, but in their works.

This is sobering, because I know there is a constant tendency for me to want to trust the good things I do, to forget that they don't earn anything with God because no matter how good they may be, they are not perfect. Only Christ was perfect in his obedience. There is that constant tendency in all of us. I am sure you see it in yourself as well. But, zealous as you may be, it will not save you.

Instead, the call of this passage is to trust in Christ, not in your own imperfect attempts at righteousness. Trust in his perfect obedience which is counted to you when you trust in him. Trust in his suffering and death that satisfied the wrath of God against you and paid the price your sins deserved. Trust in his resurrection and ascension that show what he did was accepted by God and which guarantees, if you trust in him, that you will be raised up as well.

No matter how zealous for God you may be, if you neglect faith you are lost.

Dr. Mohler out of Hospital

At Al Mohler's blog, it has been announced that he was released from the hospital. Thank be to God.

Monday, January 08, 2007

This is why Politicians Shouldn't Sing, and Singers Shouldn't Try To Be Polititians

I came across this at Biblical Christianity, and although I know nothing of Senator John McCain the point is clear. I just wish more people would understand just because a person can act or sing or whatever, does not mean they know anything about leading a country.

Dead to the Law

Romans 7:4-6
Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.

As I was reading this morning in Romans, I was following Paul's line of thought and this stuck out to me. I'm not exactly sure why, but it did.

The "likewise" at the beginning of verse 4 looks back at the previous statements where he speaks of how a woman who is married is set free from the law of marriage when her husband dies so she is free to marry another. If she were to have relations with another while her husband was still alive she would be an adulteress, but once he is dead, she is free to marry another. "Likewise," Paul points out, people who are joined to Christ have died to the law through him.

See what is written again, "Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God." If you or I believe in Jesus Christ, we have died to the law through him. As he died, those who belong to him died as well. When a person dies, their legal obligations in life cease. So also, those who die with Christ, die to the legal obligations of the law.

What are these obligations? They certainly are not the one that have to do with how we are to live. It is not like are now allowed to do whatever we want even if it is considered sin by the law. I say that is the case because to do so would be to live like we did before being joined to Christ. As verse 5 points out, "For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death." Before dying with Christ, we were living our sinful passions. Even more than that, the end of verse 4 shows that the purpose of this death to the law, is that by belonging to another, that is to the risen Jesus Christ, we might bear fruit to God. That is, that we might live as God desires his people to live, not in sinful passions, but in holiness.

So what are these obligations? It seems to me that the obligations of the law that those who believe are freed from, are those that require that we face the punishment our sins deserve. The obligations that to live we must keep the law perfectly, or we will face the punishment of not only death in this life, but eternal death, another way of saying eternal punishment for our disobedience and high treason against the infinite God.

Thanks be to God, for those who believe, those obligations of the law have been removed in Christ, so we can now live in him. That means we are no longer under the power of our sinful passions, we are no longer captive to them, but are now freed to live by the power of the Spirit in such a way that we bear fruit for God.

The practical application for this is that if you have real faith in Jesus Christ, you can now, by the power of the Holy Spirit, live in a way that says no to sin and yes to how God calls us to live in the Bible. Sin and the passions that are stirred up in you by sin when you are told you cannot do something by the law, no longer has the upper hand. Now you, if you believe, belong to Christ. You can say no to sin, not because you are stronger, but because Christ is in you by the Spirit who makes you able to do what is right for God.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

And People Wonder Why I Distrust The Mainstream Media

Read this report and the things it links, and you will start to understand why I think more and more the mainstream media is not just stretching the truth, but outright lying to people. I don't know where quality journalism went, but it certainly seems to be gone today.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Great Love of God for a Messed up Sinner

Romans 5:6-11 ESV
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For one will scarcely die for a righteous person--though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die-- 8but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

I was reading this today in my devotions. This is one of those sections of Romans that a I could consider and meditate on for hours and probably not plumb the depths of what is being said here.

It speaks of who I was outside of Christ. I was weak, ungodly, a sinner, under the wrath of God, and an enemy of God. Too often I forget that who I am in myself is all these things. That is who I was before I was called to Christ, and that is who I would still be if I was not joined to him through faith.

But, for that weak person, that ungodly person, that sinner, that person under the wrath of God, that enemy of God who would on his own have no care for God at all, Christ died. He laid down his life for me and for all who believe that I and they could be removed from what we were, and joined to what he is. "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." What a wonderful truth, but as John Piper is want to point out, this truth is not phrased in the past tense, but in the present. God did not just show his love (past tense), but he shows his love, even today, present continuous tense.

If I want to know the love of God; if you want to know the love of God, look to the cross of Jesus Christ. There you will find that there is more than enough done that its effects and power extend all the way to today. When I get down and wonder if God loves me, I need to remember to look to Christ dying for me while I was a sinner.

Finally, as I looked at this, consider it, meditate upon it, I am given this further great hope. For since when I was a totally messed up enemy of God I was made right, reconciled with God through the death of his Son, what does that mean for now? Now that I have been reconciled. Now that I have through faith been brought to peace with God through Jesus Christ's death (Romans 5:1). Now that Jesus Christ is no longer dead, but alive and in heaven and seated at the right hand of God. What does that mean? Does is not mean that I, and all who are reconciled through his death even though we were still enemies, sinners, weak and under the wrath of God, will now be saved completely.

If you are like me, there are times when you despair. You look at your life, and see how sin still seems to clutch to you in so many areas. You see that no sooner do you deal with one sin by the grace of God, than another two come bubbling up to the surface that you never saw in the first place. How will you ever be saved? If you trust in Jesus think on this for a moment. If he died to reconcile you while you were still a sinner so that now you have peace with God through him, will he not, now that he is alive, save you all the way. It makes me think of Paul's letter to the Philippians where he wrote, "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." When God showed his love while you and I were still sinners, now that he has brought you and I to peace, will he not save us all the way.

Finally, the most amazing thing is this, we rejoice in God through Jesus. We exult in Him. We praise Him. We take pride in Him. We boast in Him. This is something we do now. When you and I start to realize who we were when Christ died for us, and who he has made us, and how he will save us to the very end, when we really realize this, it moves us to boast in God. It moves us to tell other people about how great God is through Jesus Christ who has reconciled us to him.

I don't know about you, but I don't find I do that enough. I think the reason is that I do not always have as much of an understanding of what exactly God has given me through Jesus Christ as I should have. It is so easy to start to either focus on the remaining sin in my life, or to focus on the world around me, and not to focus on the love of God in Christ. That is why I started by saying that I could consider and meditate on this passage for hours, and not plumb the depths of it. For God loved me, Christ died for me, when I was not in any way worth dying for. That is grace. It is undeserved to the uttermost. But, it is in this that we find God showing his love to you and me and all who believe. Oh what amazing love.

Go and worship with God's people tomorrow boasting in your great God and Saviour.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Urgent Prayer Request -- Updated

This was posted by Justin Taylor at Ref 21:

Posted on

Dr. Mohler's health has sustained a setback. Over the past 36 hours Dr. Mohler has suffered from unrelenting pain. This unusual degree of pain signaled concern for the attending physicians and prompted additional tests this afternoon. In the past hour these tests have revealed that Dr. Mohler is suffering from pulmonary emboli in both lungs. His condition is quite serious and he has been moved to the intensive care unit of Baptist East Hospital in Louisville, KY for immediate treatment.

Please make this a matter of urgent prayer. Thank you once again for your concern and support during these days.

From WebMD: "Pulmonary embolism (PE) is an extremely common and highly lethal condition that is a leading cause of death in all age groups. A good clinician actively seeks the diagnosis as soon as any suspicion of PE whatsoever is warranted, because prompt diagnosis and treatment can dramatically reduce the mortality rate and morbidity of the disease."

When Annette's dad went through this the doctors did not say much, but when it was all over they told of how they thought at the time he would die. The mortality rate on this is quite high, although the longer a person lives once it is detected, the better the odds that they will recover.

I echo the call given here and at Al Mohler's blog, pray for him and his family during this time.

Update: An update on Al Mohler's blog reports that Dr. Mohler is responding well to treatment, and was even able to discuss a book with Dr. Moore when he came to visit.

Petition Update

The petition calling for Pat Robertson to apologize for his presumptuous so called prophecies is now up to over 300 signatures. Again I encourage those who read this to go over there, read the petition, and if you agree to sign it. If you have a blog post the link there, and if you know of others who would like to sign, by all means direct them there. The hope is to get at least 1000 signatures by next Wednesday. More would be better.

Some of you may wonder what difference it would make to a person who says God is telling them this stuff to have fellow believers sign something like this. Pat may ignore it, but at the very least it shows that he is not the spokesman for Christianity, and his so called prophecies that don't come true are nothing of the sort.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Looking into the Womb

Melinda over at Stand to Reason posted this link of a National Geographic special on multiple birth using what they call 4D scans to produce images from inside the womb. Looking at the images they have produced it is amazing to think than anyone could see them and think that an unborn baby is anything less than that. It is not merely some tissue any more than you and I are only some tissue. Being able to see this reminds me of the words in Psalm 139,

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.

Update on McD's and Kidzworld

Back in May following a post on Pyromaniacs speaking about Kidzworld which was heavily sponsored by McDonalds, and concerns with the content of that site, I posted this.

I recently wondered if that sponsorship had continued, so I returned to Kidzworld, and found to my amazement, that I could not find a McDonald's advertisement. I did a bit of searching, and still couldn't. From what I can see, surprising as it is, McDonalds has done the right thing. It is good to see it when that happens.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Pat Robertson Petition

Over the past several years Pat Robertson has made various prophetic predictions on his 700 Club broadcast claiming that God was telling him that they were going to happen. However, while some have, others have not. Check out this article to read more about it. You can also check out this video.

God said in Deuteronomy 18:22, "when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him." Seeing as what Pat Robertson has predicted has not come to pass, and seeing as he himself says, "Sometimes I miss." he has been shown to be at the least presumptuous and by definition a false prophet.

If you agree, join in calling him to public repentance by signing this online petition.

To brother Robertson, please repent of what you have been doing for the sake of Christ and the gospel.

Is "Balance" possible

Over at Pyromaniacs, Phil Johnson has an excellent post concerning the attempt by many to walk the line of balance theologically. The usual places this is found were mentioned, that is, trying to find a middle line between legalism and license or a middle area between Calvinism and Arminianism. He points out that there is danger in taking this sort of approach.

As I was reading the first thing that came to my mind is the current "Dialog on Homosexuality" in the RCA. I guess is shows how big the problems are in the RCA when we seem to think that dialog will bring us to some sort of middle ground. I don't see it happening, and if it does, I cannot imagine many of the people I know who are currently in the RCA staying in the RCA. There is not place of balance in this discussion. My prayer is that as a denomination God helps us realize that, turning us back to him more fully.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Welcome to my blog's new home

Welcome to the new home of Kerussomen Christon Estauronmenon. As you can see I have moved all the posts from my Livejournal blog here, and over the next while I will be working on customizing things even more. I hope you will enjoy the new setting.

Apparently Messy is Good

It seems that all my failed attempts to keep my desk tidy are not the way to go. Messy is now apparently good. See here. I guess I should capitalize on this before the research shows the opposite.