Thursday, June 25, 2009


Let me be very clear: I am a Zionist. Absolutely, unrepentantly, completely behind Israel and the Jewish people. Not only for theological reasons (though those of course are paramount) but for political reasons as well; Israel is the only nation in a very strategic, very volatile region which doesn’t hate our guts and consider us the “Great Satan.” 

So, I am a Christian Zionist. Deal with it.

That being said, as with most things, it’s important to strike a balance between extremes.  I am a strong supporter of Israel, but like any nation, it is not perfect and its government does sometimes do very bone-headed things. (No, defending herself against the attacks of her enemies does not qualify as being “bone-headed.” Duh.) Therefore, Israel (whether the government or her citizens) does not get a pass when they are wrong.

One of the things which is an ongoing point of contention, and can indeed produce an interesting tension in the heart of a Christian Zionist like myself, is stuff like this:

When the congregation at St. Nicolay church in this northern Israeli town gathered on that quiet Friday morning of May 29, they never expected to be showered with stones. The Russian Orthodox worshipers, including many women, children and the elderly, had filled the small building to overflow with several outside when they were stunned by the rain of stones. Some were injured and received medical care.

It seems some yeshiva students (you know, the ones who don’t sully themselves by joining the IDF to defend their homeland and people – those obviously courageous guys…) bravely attacked children and old men and women on their way to worship.

Those intrepid young men should be richly rewarded – for instance, by being lined up and jack-slapped by some of the very IDF soldiers they think they’re too good to join, and who understand the concept of freedom (which is why they fight and die – not only for the Jewish Israelis, but for their non-Jewish co-nationalists as well).

Thankfully, and very much unlike the Muslim nations surrounding her, Israel neither officially persecutes her Christians nor tacitly approves of it, either.  It’s a very touchy situation in Israel, with the yeshivas existing essentially outside the direct jurisdiction of the government and agencies of government.  Unlike the “Palestinian” Authority, for instance, or Egypt, where persecution of the rapidly dwindling Christian populations in their midst is at least tacitly approved and assisted by the government.

However, unofficial and unapproved as it is, it is things like this which emphasize that even though Israel has an unquestionable right to the land God gave her, even though we as Christians are compelled by that same God to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and to bless the Jewish people, and even though we solidly support Israel, the nation is quite far from being perfect and (again) does not get a free pass.


Get this: not only does the Iranian government crack down on pro-Democracy demonstrators by shooting into the crowd, but they now say that the family of an innocent bystander murdered by Iranian police must pay the government for the privilege of retrieving his body, so that the government’s cost for the bullet which took their son’s life can be recouped.

When Mr. Alipour didn't return home that night, his parents began to worry. All day, they had heard gunshots ringing in the distance. His father, Yousef, first called his fiancée and friends. No one had heard from him.

At the crack of dawn, his father began searching at police stations, then hospitals and then the morgue.

Upon learning of his son's death, the elder Mr. Alipour was told the family had to pay an equivalent of $3,000 as a "bullet fee"—a fee for the bullet used by security forces—before taking the body back, relatives said.

And still utter, absolute silence from the Obama administration.

Condemn Israel when she tries to defend herself, all the while bending over backwards to limit civilian casualties to the absolute minimum…but zip the lip in condemning a government run followers of the Religion of Peace.

Bush Part 2 was not a good president; under his watch, all the good done by the Reagan revolution was cheerfully dismantled, and we inherited an even more massive expansion of government than FDR ever could hope to achieve in his wildest dreams.  Even still, I’m quite certain that Bush wouldn’t be sitting very, very still over this, hoping the American public either ignored this whole ugly mess or ignored his utter inaction over it.  He at least had the guts to stand up to the Ayatollah and his guy Ahmadinejad.

What the Iranian government is doing is despicable. What our own government is doing (or, more to the point, very studiously not doing) is utterly unconscionable.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Excellent point…

From the article “Why Condemn Israel But Not Iranian Government Brutality?

The European Left, the Democrats, the Liberals, the leaders of the West, all go rampant when Israel attacks the Gaza Strip. Where are they now? Why Obama, Blair, Sarkozy keep on sitting on the fence at the time that Iranian Regime is slaughtering protestors and crushing their basic right to be able to protest?

Tell me, where is everyone? To where have they vanished, all those who protested against Israel’s violence during Operation Cast, Lead or the Second Lebanon War, or Defense Shield or even the Hague when we were dragged there by our hair when we dared to try build a separation barrier between us and the suicide bomber? Here and there we see protests but they are mainly Iranian immigrants. In principle, Europe is calm and relaxed. Likewise, the USA. Here few dozens, there few thousands. What, they have vanished because it is Teheran, and not here?

Define “Irony…”

Perez Hilton, who came down on Carrie Prejean for her answer during the recent Miss Amerca pageant, apparently came unglued when someone else he’d…ah…commented on didn’t take kindly to it.  Per Hilton, no human being should ever be physically assaulted…but apparently verbal and emotional assault is quite copasetic-kosher-keen.

Hilton has – until this incident – been the voice for the “gay” community.  It is therefore the very height of irony that:

After Perez Hilton's slur-laden reaction to an alleged assault by the manager of the Black Eyed Peas, even former allies of the celebrity blogger have turned against him.

Officials at the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) have called on Hilton to apologize for the "vulgar anti-gay slurs" he made in a video following a confrontation with manager Liborio Molina.

If this situation doesn’t perfectly exemplify “irony,” I really don’t know what does

The One

This is a great parable-ish undoubtedly prophetic comedy-but-not-really-all-that-funny-given-how-pathetically-true-it-actually-is blogpost by my friend and fellow pastor Tom Spithaler.

You must go read it.  Now.

Anglicanism: A New Hope

I was raised Episcopalian, so I consider this to be good news, indeed.  After the Phantom Menace of gross theological liberalism began growing in the Episcopal Church, and after the Attack of the (Liberal) Clones gained steam, it looked to all the world as if the Revenge of the (Social Gospel) Sith would finally overwhelm and destroy an historically solid and proud church.  But now, with this news American Anglicans have A New Hope.

Leaders who defected from the Episcopal Church completed the formation of a conservative branch of Anglicanism in North America Monday by ratifying the constitution of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

The document was signed during the ACNA Inaugural Provincial Assembly, which drew some 800 participants to Bedford, Texas, this week. Pittsburg Bishop Robert Duncan, who on Wednesday will be installed as the group's first archbishop, said the formation of ACNA is part of a "reformation" marked by a return to orthodox Christianity within the 77 million-member Anglican Communion and beyond.

I’m waiting for the (Liberal) Empire to Strike Back any time now; Archbishop Rowan “Emperor Palpatine” Williams is no friend of theological conservatives.  Recognition of the new church within the worldwide Anglican Communion will likely be a long struggle in itself, but for now, things are certainly looking up for Americans who still love the Anglican Communion, who still hold to the via media theology, and who yet want to be faithful to the Biblical witness.  God bless Archbishop Duncan and the courageous few churches and dioceses who refused to yield for the sake of “unity at all costs” in the face of creeping compromise.

Read the full article here.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Blog friend and general all-around  cool sister in Christ, Vee (of Living Journey fame) clued me in to a new book out, The Jews, Modern Israel, and the New Supercessionism.  I haven’t read the book yet myself, but given that Vee’s involved (she did research for the book over the last two years), I’m quite certain that it’s well worth the read.

From the book’s website:

A new book aimed at lay Christians, church leaders and Bible college students which explores the relationship between the Jews, the Church and Israel. This timely volume offers a careful and objective examination of the issue from a range of perspectives at a time when the debate surrounding the relationship between the Church and Israel currently raging within Evangelicalism is increasingly polemical and polarised.

The table of contents alone looks intriguing:

1   Who is the “Israel” of Romans 11:26?         
     Andy Cheung

2   Biblical Theology and the Modern State of Israel          
     Calvin L. Smith

3   Apostolic Jewish-Christian Hermeneutics       
     and Supercessionism     
     Jacob Prasch

4   A Calvinist Considers Israel’s Right to the Land      
     Stephen M. Vantassel

5   Israel and the Purposes of God        
     Howard Taylor

6   Jealous for Zion: Evangelicals, Zionism and the      
     Restoration of Israel
     Paul Richard Wilkinson

7   Faith and Politics in the Holy Land Today  
     Calvin L. Smith

8   Is the Gospel Relevant to the Jewish People?  
     Tony Pearce

I’m hoping the book comes out in ebook format (my preferred format) at some point…


I just read an excellent word from a pastor friend on another blog regarding the issue of “vision”:

I think we need to depart form the idea of the pastor having a vision for the whole church, and the people are worker bees there to help the pastor pursue what he feels called to do.

My objection to that is this: people live out the pastor’s vision, and may never discover what they are supposed to be doing.
I know that some folks are called to be Joshua’s, and just help the pastor do his thing.
That is their vision.

However, others can and should be doing things that I and you are never called to.

A hearty amen.

With all the focus on vision, visioneering, vision-casting, etc., it’s helpful to point out and realize that the mission of Christ’s Church has not changed in the past two thousand years:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.

And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

His vision, His mission statement, cannot be extended or improved upon.

At best, any “vision” we “cast” is nothing more than an application of Jesus’ unchanging vision to our local context – anything beyond that is only so much worthless babble.


Great article here about fathers.

Some highlights:

Rather than being in conflict, fathers and mothers balance each other's parenting styles - helping each other raise well-rounded children.

Fathers tend to emphasize rough and tumble play more than mothers do. Fathers' play is likely to be both physically stimulating and mentally exciting. This form of play helps children learn about physical self-control and what is appropriate playful behavior, and what is dangerous. Through this type of play, Fathers help children learn to control their wild emotions and have fun in the midst of competition. Fathers tend to encourage competition, challenge, initiative, risk-taking, and independence.

In conversations, fathers tend to be more direct and specific - teaching children not to 'beat around the bush'. They stress fairness and justice while mothers tend to focus more on sympathy and care. Fathers focus more on independence while mothers tend to stress community and relationships. Fathers tend to be firmer when decisions are made. Fathers are generally more apt to consider the long-term development of their children, while mothers tend to consider immediate needs.

Together, mothers and fathers show children the values and strengths of both of the genders. The social revolution of the last fifty years has greatly degraded men. Fathers help girls to appreciate and value men, and show boys their value as men.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Interesting counterpoint here to the current leftist cause célèbre of decrying evil, racist Israel by spotlighting the plight of “Palestinian” Christians.

How wonderful.  But this ecumenical coalition has not expressed very much interest in any "dwindling" Christian population anywhere else in the Middle East, where in fact nearly every Christian population is "dwindling."  The "dwindling" Palestinian Christian population merits special concern because they are, sadly, useful props for bashing Israel.  "Dwindling" Christian populations in Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon, however tragic their plight, serve no utility for bishops, church bureaucrats, and professional Religious Left activists anxious for one more excuse to decouple the U.S. from Israel.

The article points out something that the Religious Left willfully forgets: Israel is not and has not been the aggressor.  Israel has been simply fighting for the right to exist, to not be gleefully butchered by her enemies, since day one.  As has been stated elsewhere, “If the Muslims stopped fighting, there would be peace in the Middle East.  If Israel stopped fighting, there would be no Israel.”

The organizer for this rather disingenuous plea was Churches for Middle East Peace, which thanks mostly to Roman Catholic participation, is not as hard-line anti-Israel as many of its Mainline Protestant and Evangelical Left supporters would prefer.  But its counsel and lobbying almost always, if in usually muted language, repeat the usual refrain that the U.S. must, through "hands on," "bold action," strong-arm Israel into concessions, while the victimized Palestinians and their Arab patrons simply wait patiently to achieve their demands. Arab intransigence never seems to merit "bold action" by the U.S., just endless accommodation. "Churches for Middle East Peace" indeed.

Interesting op-ed article worth reading.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Power of Twitter

Interesting article here from the Persecuted Church weblog regarding the power of Twitter as an alternate vehicle for news sources & information, especially with the use of hashtags, particularly in reference to things like the recent election in Iran.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Congratulations, Pittsburgh

It was a postseason for the ages, a Cup Finals round for the ages, and a Game 7 for the ages.  Both teams fought hard, but the Pens wanted it more than my Wings, and when the final buzzer sounded, the Pens held on to a hard-won 2-1 lead, and Crosby hoisted the Cup.

Congratulations to the Pens, congratulations to their fans, who hung in there through a very rough season, to fight through some very intimidating teams to get to the Cup Finals, and who finally prevailed over the mighty Red Wings.  I am of course deeply disappointed that the Cup didn’t stay in Detroit, but I cannot begrudge them a very, very well-played series. Very good show, gentlemen!

What makes the Pens’ win more impressive is the adversity they had to overcome during the regular season even to get to the Finals – and then to the Cup Round.  Nobody – and I mean nobody – expected them to be a serious contender for the Cup mid-season.  But like true athletes, true warriors, they ignored their critics, focused on improving their game, and fought like wild men.  They badly wanted a rematch with my Wings, badly wanted to earn redemption from last year’s bitter disappointment of losing the Cup on home ice…and they pulled it off in spectacular form.

I have to admit – it was very cool to watch Crosby hoist the Cup.  The kid (and I do mean kid) earned it.  He never gave up.  Never.  Fleury was nothing short of spectacular.  And to watch Lemieux hoist the Cup – no longer in a team sweater, but in an owner’s business suit – was bittersweet for me.  He is one of those legends of the game, right up there with the Great One and Mister Hockey.

The fans at Detroit who were booing when the Cup was presented to the Pens – you embarrassed yourselves.  You embarrassed me.  For the first time ever I was briefly ashamed of being a Wings fan because of your boorish conduct.  That is not sportsmanship, children.  A sportsman accepts defeat as well as victory, and chooses to learn from the defeat and make a go at glory again in the shadow of it, not pout and whine like spoiled brats.  My pride was restored, however, when the fans who hadn’t slinked out of the Joe by that time cheered for Lemieux when he hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Now, to focus on the future. The Wings are still the powerhouse in the NHL.  Next season should be another 100-pointer, and I really believe we can recapture the President’s Trophy.  It will be exciting to watch the Wings go at it again in October, marching towards the Finals, to bring the Cup back home to Detroit.

Questions that it will be interesting to see answered:

  • Hossa: he came to the Wings to win the Cup. He took a massive pay cut and signed for a single season.  What will he do now?  Will he continue to take the lesser pay and remain on our roster?  And, if he does, will he actually show up and play next postseason?
  • Can Ozzie continue his stellar performance between the pipes?  I truly think so, but this regular season really put a question mark on that.  Last part of the season he got his game back…but in the wings stands Conklin, another genius netminder.  I think right now Babcock’s still very pleased with Ozzie – it was his presence of mind in net which kept the Wings in the running during those times when our defense really didn’t gel.  I expect to see the Wizard of Oz remain our primary goalie come next season.
  • Will Chelios remain?  Will he retire?  He’s the oldest player currently in the NHL, but he’s still got a lot of game.  I hope he doesn’t; but we’ll see.
  • The Griffins players who were called up to plug the gaps in our roster, especially Abdelkader and Leino, performed at an impressive level.  Will they stay with the Griffs, and ultimately move up to full-time roster slots with the Wings?  Or will they be wooed away by other teams who will doubtless be courting them now that they saw their composure on-ice during the Big Dance?  Former Griffs are currently on the Wings full-time roster: Ericksson, Helm, Hudler…

It says something that even now in the era of the salary cap, the Wings can maintain a loyal roster of stars.  Players who could get much more on other teams choose to remain with the Wings.  There’s something about playing for Hockeytown that draws them and, overall, keeps them.

Here’s to looking very much forward to next year…


Saturday, June 06, 2009

Excursus on Grace

Chuck Smith’s autobiography was made available at the recent Senior Pastors’ Conference.  I began reading it the last day of the conference (yesterday) and I’m already a little over halfway through.

About the middle of the book, as he relates the great revolution of his thinking which led ultimately to the genesis of the Calvary Chapel Movement.  One of the key things which impacted him was an Excursus on Grace in Newell’s Romans Verse by Verse.  This excursus so profoundly changed his thinking on grace, that it still echoes through his ministry to this day.

After reading it, I can see why:

Excursus Chapter Six: “A Few Words About Grace” (excerpt)

I. The Nature of Grace

1. Grace is God acting freely, according to His own nature as Love; with no promises or obligations to fulfill; and acting of course, righteously – in view of the Cross.

2. Grace, therefore, is uncaused in the recipient: its cause lies wholly in the GIVER, in GOD.

3. Grace, also is sovereign. Not having debts to pay, or fulfilled conditions on man’s part to wait for, it can act toward whom, and how, it pleases. It can, and does, often, place the worst deservers in the hightest favors.

4. Grace cannot act where there is either desert or ability: Grace does not help – it is absolute , it does all.

5. There being no cause in the creature why Grace should be shown, the creature must be brought off from trying to give cause to God for His Grace.

6. The discovery by the creature that he is truly the object of Divine grace, works the utmost humility: for the receiver of grace is brought to know his own absolute unworthiness, and his complete inability to attain worthiness: yet he finds himself blessed – on another principle, outside of himself!

7. Therefore, flesh ahs no place in the plan of Grace. This is the great reason why Grace is hated by the proud natural mind of man. But for this very reason, the true believer rejoices! Fro he knows that “in him, that is, in his flesh, is no good thing:” and yet he finds God glad to bless him, just as he is!

II. The Place of Man under Grace

1. He has been accepted in Christ, who is his standing!

2. He is not “on probation.”

3. As to his life past, it does not exist before God: he died at the Cross, and Christ is his life.

4. Grace, once bestowed, is not withdrawn: For God knew all the human exigencies beforehand: His action was independent of them, not dependent upon them.

5. The failure of devotion does not cause the withdrawal of bestowed grace (as it would under the law). For example: the man in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5; and also those in 11:30-32, who did not “judge” themselves, and so were “judged by the Lord-that they might not be condemned with the world!”

III. The Proper Attitude of Man under Grace

1. To believe, and to consent to be loved while unworthy, is the great secret.

2. To refuse to make “resolutions” and “vows;” for that is to trust in the flesh.

3. To expect to be blessed, though realizing more and more lack of worth.

4. To testify of God’s goodness, at all times.

5. To be certain of God’s future favor; yet to be ever more tender in conscience toward Him.

6. To rely on God’s chastening hand as a mark of His kindness.

7. A man under grace, if like Paul, has no burdens regarding himself; but many about others.

IV. Things Which Gracious Souls Discover

1. To “hope to be better” is to fail to see yourself in Christ only.

2. To be disappointed with yourself is to have believed in yourself.

3. To be discouraged is unbelief to God’s purpose and plan of blessing for you.

4. To be proud is to be blind! For we have no standing before God in ourselves.

5. The lack of Divine blessing, therefore, comes from unbelief, and not from failure of devotion.

6. Real devotion to God arises, not from man’s will to show it; but from the discovery that blessing has been received from God while we were yet unworthy.

7. To preach devotion first, and blessing second, is to reverse God’s order and preach law, not grace. The Law made man’s blessing depend on devotion; Grace confers undeserved, unconditional blessing: our devotion may follow, but does not always do so – in proper measure.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Session 15 – Chuck Smith


·         Paul not only wrote to Timothy when he was in prison, but he wrote many of his letters from prison

o   God no doubt allowed Paul those prison experiences that we might have the benefit of the prison epistles

o   We often wonder why God allows (fill in the blank) to happen to me?

§  But as with Paul, He always has His purpose.

o   God was wanting a larger work for His church, to leave the church with guidance and comfort

§  So God allowed Paul’s discomfort, to provide a greater comfort

§  When God allows discomfort, He has a greater purpose.

·         Like Paul, we are what we are by the will of our God.

·         Make sure of your calling

o   Story of trying to be like Billy Graham.

·         First three chapters of Ephesians relates nothing but a litany of how good God is and what He has already done for and given to you in through and by Christ Jesus.

·         The importance of systematically, expositionally working straight through books of the Bible.

·         The Biblical emphasis is not what I should be doing for God, but what He has already done for me.

o   Yes, there is man’s response –but that’s exactly what it is – a response.

o   Where do I come in?  Faith.  Is that all?  Yep, that’s all…

o   We respond to the Lord.

§  So don’t beat the sheep over the head with what they should be doing for Him – point out what He has done for them, and their response will come as a natural, necessary result.

·         Be very careful of taking your frustrations out on God’s people.

o   Don’t preach to the empty seats.

·         One of the real successes of Calvary Chapel is the longevity of our pastors

o   Be faithful in well-doing, and in due season you will reap

o   Fruit doesn’t grow on the tree the day you plant the seed into the ground.

·         There must be a Biblical, expository emphasis to your ministry

Session 14 – Brian Brodersen

·         The picture of successful ministry that is most often in our minds – large church facility, overflowing with people, unlimited funds, a national radio program, a contract with a well-known publisher, and endless invitations to speak at conferences, seminars, events, etc.

o   There is also another picture – one that is considerably different, yet equally successful from Heaven’s perspective.

o   That’s the picture painted here by the Spirit

o   It’s a picture of heartbreak, lonliness, deprivation, abandonment

§  This other picture has been more consistently the one that has descried the experience of God’s servants down through the ages.

·         Demas shows us that there is terrible heartbreak in the ministry.

o   It’s a heartbreaking thing when someone whom you have poured into, abandons you.

o   Trials are a fairly consistent factor of the ministry.  Joy is, too, to be sure; but we tend to emphasize the latter and try to pretend the former isn’t so.

o   This happens; it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve done anything wrong

§  Sometimes it is; we make mistakes

§  But often, it’s nothing you can control – it’s part-and-parcel with serving a crucified Lord.

o   Not only Demans, but Crescens, Titus…abandoned him.

§  Perhaps Paul struggled with loneliness.

§  It was no longer the day of apparent, outward blessing; it was now a time of apparent decline and struggle

§  Paul found his comfort in the Lord and His Word (“bring the books, especially the parchments…”)

·         Alexander the coppersmith did Paul much harm

o   Guess what? You’ll get misunderstood and abused when you’re serving the Lord and His people

o   Story of the guy in Brian’s Bible study who e-mails him all the time.

o   And this is the way it is – no matter the size/apparent success of the ministry.

o   Just as Alexander greatly resisted Paul’s words, you’ll find that, too.

§  Seeking to counsel people with the Word – they resist

§  They get angry

§  They don’t like what you have (actually, the Lord’s Word has) to say

·         Can you imagine being in a position where all forsook you?

o   Oftentimes, we would think of the end of a man’s ministry as being very different than what Paul is describing here!

§  We often picture less to more, bad to better…

§  …but it’s not necessarily the case.

o   And Paul is just the first example in a long line of men who have served God through history and have suffered in the serving

§  Spurgeon’s last days were quite similar to Paul’s in many respects

§  Downgrade Controversy

·         (quotes from Spurgeon’s critics – holy cow…)

·         If we had a more balanced, Scriptural view of “success” in ministry, we wouldn’t think it a strange thing when things aren’t going very well.

·         But here’s the other – and most important – side of the matter:

o   “But the Lord stood with me.”

o   This is what we need to remember.

§  For Paul, from the beginning, it was always about the Lord.

§  If the ministry isn’t ultimately and finally and completely about the Lord, you will not survive it.

§  You’ll become disillusioned and embittered.

o   If we do ministry for any other reason than for the love of Christ, we will not make it.

o   But, if everything I do is for love of Him, then it all becomes a journey of faith, ending in glory.

·         We who are about the business of the Lord are more vulnerable and more susceptible to lose sight of the Lord – bizarre as that is.

o   And the Lord has to bring us back and remind us that this is all about Him, and about our fellowship and relationship with Him.

o   When you get that perspective – everything is okay.

·         Paul was conscious, especially in the hour of his greatest need and trial, that the Lord stood with him and strengthened him.

o   Paul knew that even in the midst of all that he was enduring, the Lord stood with him.

·         Paul also knew that the Lord would ultimately deliver him.

o   He says this while he’s in a dungeon, heading to the executioner’s block.

o   For Paul, deliverance was Heaven.

§  He did not have a “triumphalist” faith.

·         Paul also rested in the fact that the Lord would preserve him for the Heavenly Kingdom.

o   Paul believed in the sovereignty of God – he considered himself to be a prisoner of Christ, even though the effective earthly instrument of his imprisonment was Caesar.

o   Be encouraged – God will preserve us!

o   The Lord works in the midst of adversity.

·         Men measure success in numbers, popularity, accolades…

o   God measures success by an entirely different standard – and that’s what we need to remember.

o   Paul was an unqualified success

o   He finished the race – he kept the faith.

o   Spurgeon was an absolute success.

o   Because success isn’t determined by what men think, but by the standard that God sets.

o   What is that standard?  Being faithful.

§  “It is required in a steward that one be found faithful.”

o   Be faithful:

§  To your Lord

§  To your wife

§  To your kids

§  To the sheep you get to shepherd

·         Let us be faithful men, whether the ministry leads us to happiness or heartache.

o   For great is our reward.

Devos – Ed Taylor

Ezekiel 34

·         We have the privilege of serving Jesus by reaching out to a lost, hurt, broken generation.

·         If there’s an emphasis we need to have in our ministry – it must be the grace of God.

o   God’s undying grace.

o   The problem is, we sometimes allow the position, pressures, and people to get to our heads.

o   We are mere servants, and we are created to do His pleasure.

·         Ed (and, by the way, I) hate the “joke,” the ministry would be so great if it wasn’t for the people.

o   We really love the ministry because of Jesus and the people He’s given us to serve.

·         Here in Eze. 34, God says, “If you don’t want to rightly shepherd My people, fine; I’ll find someone else.”

·         Shepherds are given to feed the flock, not themselves.

o   God’s heart is for His flock.

·         There’s several things here that we need to regularly review in our lives:

o   Selfishness

o   Used people

o   Took the best for themselves

o   Began to ignore needs

o   Closed their eyes to the hurting

·         We cannot see people as problems – we see them as precious sheep.

·         Don’t close your eyes to the hurting, don’t fail to pay attention to them and their hurts.

·         There are shepherds that God gives – and there are shepherds that God takes away.

o   I want to be one of those whom He gives.

·         If I want the sheep I get to shepherd  to be the best loved, best fed sheep in my area, that begins with me – with my faithful relationship with the Lord.

·         Things get tough – but the Word of the Lord stands forever.

o   Two things will be eternal:

§  The Word of God

§  The souls of men

Session 13 – Frank Drown

This was an extremely powerful session.  You need to get the MP3s.

Frank Drown was one of the missionaries who retrieved the bodies of Jim Eliot & his compatriots in the jungles of Ecuador.

·         To be a missionary, you must speak the language of the people you are sent to.

·         It was a tremendous experience to bring the Gospel to the headhunters of Ecuador (!)

o   Many of the headhunters have now turned into hearthunters, as they’ve become Christians, and they’re sharing now with their people.

·         Serve God with the best you’ve got – because what better can you do in this world?

·         There are more missionaries coming from other countries now than the U.S.

o   In fact, our country has gone downhill so much, that we are now missionaries to the great unreached people group of Americans.

o   So preach the Word!

·         Luke 9 is his text, starting in v.57

·         Doing God’s work is serious business – it’s not a play time thing

o   Because it means the difference between somebody going to Heaven or Hell!

·         The Scripture says that there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved – there is no salvation outside of Jesus, so we need to tell people about Him because if they haven’t heard, they are lost!

·         What am I willing to endure to bring Jesus to people!

·         God prepares His vessels for His work.

o   Sometimes I think I’m going to go train to be a pastor or a missionary – but God’s not that foolish – He starts preparing us waaaay back before that.

o   God knows what He needs to prepare us

o   And His purposes are good!

o   He knows right where He’s going to put you.

·         “Now you fellas here in America, you’re a bunch of whimps…” (everybody laughed, it was very lighthearted – especially since he’s American)

·         You might have to change your culture to reach people for Jesus?

o   You have to know your people where God sends you

o   Then you have to learn how to talk to them

o   So that you can bring them to Jesus.

·         We might need to change our lifestyle to reach Jesus

o   We might have to {gasp} sacrifice.

·         God’s gonna tell you where to go – He knows best where you’ll fit!

o   Thank God, therefore, you are what you are!

o   And serve Him where He places you!

·         Americans:  “We’re not petting the kitty the wrong way – let the kitty turn around!”

o   That’s not the way it works.

o   Some Europeans speak four languages

·         Don’t choose the easy way out – choose the tough places

o   Don’t ask God for a big church – ask God for a small one!

o   Don’t ask God for an easy church – ask God for a hard one!

o   For how else are you going to find out how big God is!

·         Monkey meat doesn’t taste all that bad – especially the arm (you have to get the MP3s, I’m telling you…this guy is precious…)

·         If the culture doesn’t make a dent on you, you won’t make a dent on the culture.

o   You will be changed – and if you learn the culture, you’ll be productive.

·         Give your “last full measure of devotion.”

o   It costs to serve Jesus

o   It cost Jesus to leave His home to come down and serve us.

o   Wherever He wants us to be, that’s where we want to be.

·         Story of the chief who was speaking back to the loudspeaker.

·         (The MP3s are worth just to hear him relate the story of how Eliot & the missionaries met the natives and their death…and how the other missionaries tried to lead a rescue…)

o   (the moment he relates the point where he realized that the group was dead…)

o   (when he begins to retrieve the bodies of his friends from the river…)

o   “Thank God for these men, who gave their lives to bring the Gospel to these Indians…watch over them, until the Resurrection.”

o   “Those men preached to the world, to give a sacrifice of themselves, so that they could give the Gospel to the people.”

o   It’s not up to us to decide how we are going to serve, or when we are going to die; it’s up to us to obey.

o   Our lives are in the hands of Almighty God, and He can do with us as He pleases – and we have to know that, and trust Him.

§  This one sacrifice, planted seed, produced a harvest of thousands of missionaries who were inspired to be willing to live and give their lives to bring Jesus to people.

§  And today, there are fifty churches among the Indians who killed Eliot & his fellows.

·         The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church

§  When Frank & Jim stands before the Lord on the last day, he won’t be alone – there will be thousands of the Indians who have come to love the Lord through their sacrifice.

·         We need to give our lives to the Lord.  Do His will, and rejoice in the life He has given you.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Session 12 – Louis Neely

·         As Paul is writing these words, he probably has about two months left to live.

·         There’s something to be said about hanging in there, not quitting, not giving up, not backing down.

o   I hope that the one thing that God will be able to say is that I have been faithful.

o   That I have poured my life, my strength, my everything into it.

·         Timothy would never really take Paul’s place, he would never really be an Apostle.

o   But he was to carry on that apostolic ministry – as a steward of the deposit of faith.

·         The drink offering was the great culimination of all the offerings.

o   Paul refers to his coming death as “the time of his departure”

o   Was about to pull up the stakes for his tent, and move on to his celebration.

·         Paul could say that he has fought the good fight.

o   Same fight we are engaged in today.

o   We don’t win these battles in the flesh.

o   There’s something about this battle that we’re in – if we don’t have the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, and don’t spend time in the Word to know His voice – we lose. Big.

o   Life is a constant battle against the force of darkness – so we need to be equipped.

o   And it will not end when we get discouraged – so get used to it.

o   There is a constant battle to divert our hearts and minds from the Word of God to hear His voice.

·         Paul could say that he had finished the race.

o   It is a race that is won one (often gruelling) step at a time.

o   None of us are built (physically) for eternity.

§  None of us die of good health.

o   “Lord, I don’t know how much time I have left.  But I want to live it for You.”

§  I don’t want to spend it having arguments with my wife, family, or others.

§  I don’t want to spend it in hatred or anger or criticism.

§  I want to spend it working for the high calling, bringing as many people with me.

§  I want to live like Paul, to be able to go to eternity with no regrets.

o   You can’t change one thing that has happened; but you can change what is going to happen.

§  You can’t change that you haven’t studied or prayed enough; but you can change that from here on out you’ll start taking that seriously.

·         Paul could say he had kept the faith

o   Talking about the whole body of truth involved in the Christian life – the Gospel – the Word.

§  The truth of the grace of God in the Christian’s life.

·         Paul said to Tim, “guard the good deposit which was entrusted to you with the power of the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

o   Guard the Word.

o   Teach the Word.

o   Preach the Word.

o   Opinions come and go – the Word is forever.

o   If you stick with Scripture, you can never preach a bad sermon, because it’s the Word of God

§  You can have a bad delivery, but that’s a secondary issue.

·         “There’s a million people who used to go to my church…”

·         “You never quite get used to it” (talking about being defibrilated)

·         “It would have saved a lot of trouble if you’d have prayed for him before he came to the hospital…” (talking about his wife praying for him the second time he was getting defibrilated)

·         If I live, I live to the Lord; if I die, I die to the Lord; so whether I live or die, I am in and with the Lord.

o   The importance isn’t how long we will live – but how we’ll live.

o   What is my priority?

§  Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.

§  Guard the good deposit which was entrusted to you!

§  It is His desire that we walk in the Spirit – it’s our choice if we will or not.

·         I freely receive this gift – and now I pour it out unto others.

·         Everything in life fades away – but the crown of glory given for a life well spent never fades away.

·         Fight the good fight! Don’t compromise! Don’t back up, don’t give up! Seek to walk in the Spirit!