Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sent to the Children

As God sent Ezekiel to the house of Israel to say, “Thus saith the Lord GOD,” so He sends me to the children of God, the Bride of Jesus Christ. The reaction will be the same from both: “And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them. And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house. And thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear: for they are most rebellious. But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee.” (Ezekiel 2:5-8)

Likewise, He sends me to a people who are not of a strange speech and of an hard language (3:5), but to the Bride of Christ, His elect. But they will not hear me nor God, for like Israel, they are impudent and hard-hearted. God prepares me with a strong face, an adamant forehead, without fear. He speaks His Word to me that I place in my heart and hear with my ears. Thus shall I go to the Bride in captivity, unto those of the Body, and speak unto them, and tell them, “Thus saith the Lord GOD.”

Then I understood what happened to me next. I had not reached the end. I was at a midpoint, familiar yet unfamiliar. I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit, but the hand of the LORD was strong upon me. (3:14)

That was it exactly. I was bitter. I spoke and nothing seemed to happen. Even though God said it would be so, I was angry. Yet every day God’s lovingkindness and mercy that endures forever strongly persuaded me to do the one and only thing that I could do of any noticeable consequence. I worshipped God.

Upon the first set of calamities to strike Job, he “arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.”

It is almost easy to pray, confess sin, go to church, and any other manner of Christian activity. But to humble myself, get on my knees or prostrate myself before God and worship Him is all but impossible but for the grace of God constantly calling out His heart, “Worship me!” That is His great desire. It is the one thing He wants above all else from His people. It is the one thing most lacking today. It is given to others, willingly, and with terrible consequence to come.

“And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish .” (Deuteronomy 8:19)

God, I pray again to show me your Bride, the elect, and the remnant of Israel, who are asleep, that I may speak to them, and by thy Word, by the power of thy Holy Spirit, you will awaken them unto righteousness that they sin not. Cause them in their stirring to ready themselves for your coming, that they may be found “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that (they) should be holy and without blemish.” Set them apart to worship you in spirit and in truth and in the beauty of holiness that you have bestowed. For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things to the glory of God, Amen.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

God's Permanent Things

As my oldest son nears college age, people ask him, "What do you want to major in?" He has no idea. Like him, a friend's daughter went down the technical path in high school taking all honors classes, acing each one with little difficulty or study. Then she surprised her parents by desiring to be a music major in college. My wry son replied, "I want to be a circus clown."

We talk sometimes about what God's will is for his life. I think when a Christian hears that question they believe that God's will is a one-time, lifetime thing. I used to think so. But the Bible does not teach that. A few things started to bring that truth to me.

First, Romans 11:36 - 12:2 (a passage I teach often) was written in the present tense. God says, " that you may know what is that...will of God." Second, God is the God of the present. His very name, "I AM" proclaims this reality throughout Scripture. And thirdly, by experience, I know that what God wills for me today may not be what He wills tomorrow. God's will is so much more than what He wants me to do. It is how He wants me to do it that is so unique and personal and real and dynamic.

I am still a prophet, still called to be a prophet, still crying out to the Church through the written word. But that can all change. Someday God may want to gift me in a different way. One of the things my wife are considering right now is opening up our home to host small group fellowships. To make that successful we need to ensure that we do it in accordance with God's will.

Prophets are not the most welcoming people. Folks tend not to be comfortable around us. We do and say strange things. At least that's the way it seems to folks who are far from God and His truth. When the world seems normal to Christians instead of the things of God, then God and His Word seem strange. I'm just the messenger. So to open my home to folks who may be near or far requires someone with a more delicate touch initially. That would be my wife. She is gifted to do these things.

Our church is praying for God to raise up a senior pastor. I told our youth pastor the other day that we need to pray for God to raise up the other gifted members of the body as well. That is how God makes a whole body. A single pastor does not complete the body of Christ.

Likewise, we need that body in the home small group.

There are only a few permanent things about God in this context. Salvation is one of them. We never lose it. And in this life we never lose the presence of sin. We must always overcome it. Everything else is pretty much dynamic. That is why we must remain rooted and grounded in the permanent things of God in the midst of the dynamics of daily life.

I find myself counting on His lovingkindness, His mercy that endures forever, and his longsuffering. I count on Him calling out to me, listening to me, and welcoming me into His throneroom by the blood of Jesus. I love to spend time with Him as David did.

Psalm 27:4, "One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple."

I love to worship in the beauty of holiness. His holiness. As I think on the things of Philippians 4:8, they all lead me back to Jesus. Nothing of this world fits them. Only Jesus. These are the permanent things of God.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I received some interesting feedback to this on Facebook.
What do you think?
I get nothing when I go to church but I give everything when I am the church.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

God's Calls

There are two kinds of calls from God. One is like that of the father to the son in Luke 15. When we sin and stray from God, He is always desirous of our return to Him, always calling for us to repent and accept His mercy. "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." (Proverbs 28:13)

The other calling is that which is unique to every Christian. What does God want of me in this life? Some are called as pastors, some evangelists, some prophets (see Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4). My calling is written on the staff of this blog. Not only is this calling unique, but it can also change from time to time. That is entirely up to God and our sensitivity to His Spirit's voice.

At this point in life, my calling remains the same and was recently reinforced as I read the book of Jeremiah. In particular, this verse stood out:

"Therefore thus saith the LORD, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them." (Jeremiah 15:19)

It is a calling and a warning. I find the latter elsewhere in God's Word, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." (I John 2:15-17)

Awake unto righteousness and sin not. Will Jesus find us this way at the moment of His return?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Worship Where???

The discovery period of worship continues. Scripture answers the question of how to worship (either on your knees bowed down or prostrate in spirit and in truth and in the beauty of holiness). Scripture does not answer the question of when or where to worship. God answers that personally I believe.

He calls out to us in our "One" relationship, "Worship me." When? Where? Whenever and Where-ever He pleases. The last time I was sitting in a sauna. Before that I was in a gym. Did I look weird on my knees there? I don't know and I didn't care. I confess the thought crossed my mind. But it did not matter. God wanted worship. I poured it out right there instantly in obedience.

When God commands you, do you instantly obey despite what circumstances, education, culture, peers, or anything else dictates?

Here's what Oswald Chambers has to say about it in his November 11 entry for My Utmost for His Highest, "THE SUPREME CLIMB

"Take now thy son ." Genesis 22:2

God's command is - Take now, not presently. It is extraordinary how we debate! We know a thing is right, but we try to find excuses for not doing it at once. To climb to the height God shows can never be done presently, it must be done now. The sacrifice is gone through in will before it is performed actually.

"And Abraham rose up early in the morning and went unto the place of which God had told him" (v. 3). The wonderful simplicity of Abraham! When God spoke, he did not confer with flesh and blood. Beware when you want to confer with flesh and blood, i.e., your own sympathies, your own insight, anything that is not based on your personal relationship to God. These are the things that compete with and hinder obedience to God.

Abraham did not choose the sacrifice. Always guard against self-chosen service for God; self-sacrifice may be a disease. If God has made your cup sweet, drink it with grace; if He has made it bitter, drink it in communion with Him. If the providential order of God for you is a hard time of difficulty, go through with it, but never choose the scene of your martyrdom. God chose the crucible for Abraham, and Abraham made no demur; he went steadily through. If you are not living in touch with Him, it is easy to pass a crude verdict on God. You must go through the crucible before you have any right to pronounce a verdict, because in the crucible you learn to know God better. God is working for His highest ends until His purpose and man's purpose become one."

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Don't Take This Lying Down

A good friend asked me a question about this series on prostrate worship. He wanted to know what all that pride looks like today. How do we exhibit that pride? Here's my answer. (I have actually written about this before in this blog but rather than hunt for it, I'll write it anew in this latter context.)

God says in I John 2:16, "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." The short answer to the question is in this verse "the pride of life." What is that?

Thayer's Lexicon defines pride here as " insolent and empty assurance, which trusts in its own power and resources and shamefully despises and violates divine laws and human rights; or, an impious and empty presumption which trusts in the stability of earthly things."

The Greek word for life here is "bios" (remember biology = the study of life). This life is further amplified by Thayer as "the period or course of life; or that by which life is sustained, resources, wealth.

There is nothing new under the sun here and this is the sin we all deal with as it was from the beginning. Look at Genesis 3:6 for the parallel, "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat."

She saw that the tree was good for food (lust of the flesh), pleasant to the eyes (lust of the eyes), and desired to make one wise (pride of life). If Eve had a mirror, she would have seen her golden calf in front of her. She would have seen her parallel Amon-Re and Yahweh/Jehovah God.

Looking in our own mirrors, that is what we see when we see ourselves. God says in Genesis 3:22, "And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:" Having eaten the fruit in Adam, we have now become like God ("the man is become as one of us"). We are now the visible godlike manifestation of our God. We are, if you will, the Amon-Re. Before the curse, this was not the case, even though God said in Genesis 1:26, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...." Because Adam and Eve did not have their eyes opened and their spirits put to death, they did not know they were naked; they did not know all the power that was stored in the knowledge of good and evil; they did not know about life and death, life-giving, the power of desire.

Wtih our sexual prowess, man believes he has the power of life. This is celebrated around the world in every culture in various ways from the perversions of pornography to the foolishness of fertility rites in many religions. The symbology is everywhere.

This is why I have written before that every sin goes back to this one in Eden. Pride. Pride in oneself as god who needs no other God/god in order to live. And that is why I think God gave His commandments in the order that He did:

(Exodus 20:2-6) "I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments."

First commandment - I AM the LORD thy God
Second commandment - Thou shalt have no other gods before me...

The idolaters on the hillsides, beneath the trees, and in the temples were simply performing sexual acts in worship of themselves, celebrating their pride of life. God said destroy all the idols to take away the visible pictures of this wickedness.

Yet one idol still stands - ourselves. What are we to do therefore?

Colossians 3:5 - Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

Romans 8:13 - For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

I have written many times recently on what we must do from here henceforth. Only Jesus saves us from our sins.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's Not What You Know...

For many years I have wondered why the Hebrews chose a calf as the idol to worship during the Exodus. Where did they get such an idea? The root of this question lands in our laps, "How do we choose our idols?"

I found an excellent article on-line that I believe answers the question:

John N. Oswalt, “The Golden Calves and the Egyptian Concept of Deity,” Evangelical Quarterly 45.1, (January-March 1973): 13-20

As you can see the article is rather lengthy so if you wish you may go here to read it in its entirety. Otherwise, I paraphrase.

Around the time of the Exodus, Egypt was leading towards monotheism. Their one god was Amon-Re. Like Yahweh/Jehovah, Amon-Re was all powerful, creator, good, and merciful. But unlike our God, the Egyptian god had a likeness, that of a bull. This signified his all-powerful/creator status, that is, his sexual prowess.

This is the culture in which the Hebrews were born, raised, worked, lived, and died. By the time they left Egypt, most had forgotten the God of Abraham. In fact, until Moses, none had any encounters with Him at all. Therefore, Amon-Re was foremost in their minds.

When Aaron constructed the golden calf however, he did not construct an image of Amon-Re. No, the knowledge of what Yahweh/Jehovah God had just done was too fresh and too powerful. The Hebrews could not deny what their eyes beheld during the Egyptian plagues, the Passover, the Red Sea, and now the firey, smoking mountain where Moses was. The Hebrews had certainly come to know again the God of Abraham as their God.

But in the hardness of their hearts they fell back on what they knew, not who they knew, as their god to worship. They saw the great power, the miracles, the deliverance. So they reverted to what was so powerfully portrayed in their minds as the image of who was responsible for all this. They drew a parallel and concluded that this calf was not really Amon-Re, it was Yahweh/Jehovah God Himself!

And this is why Moses was so upset when he came down and saw them worshiping the idol. It was not just because of the fact that it was an idol of Amon-Re, not because of the lewd sexual acts performed in prostrate worship of the idol. No, what upset Moses the most was that the Hebrews called this idol God. The calf represented both the visible and invisible (g)Gods that they knew.

Fast forward a few more centuries to another meeting with Jesus and the Samaratin woman at the well in John 4:20-24.

(The woman said), "Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."

Notice again the tendency towards the seen and familiar versus the unseen yet familiar.

We idolize what is known and seen and familiar. We derive these idols from our culture, our upbringing, our education.

God is not known because He is seen or familiar or culturally popular or part of our Christian homes or education. He is only known of those whom He knows and chooses and saves by the quickening of the spirit. Hence we can worship Him alone in spirit and in truth.

This is why God warned Moses and Joshua to rid the land of all the idols and the places of worship. Remove the pictures. Destroy the remnants of culture. Give no opportunity to the flesh. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Parallel Prostration

I asked the Lord, “How are the sins of man today like those of former times?” As I continue to read in Isaiah and Jeremiah, pictures of idol worship on top of hills, under trees, and in the temple prevail. What’s going on here and what is the parallel?

As I examined earlier in the Scriptures, to worship simply means to bow down or to prostrate oneself. There are no exceptions to this position. Also, worship is most often a singular act though at times associated with service. It is the highest commandment of God that Jesus testified to in Matthew 4:10 and Luke 4:8, referenced back to Exodus 20:1-6.

When worshiping idols, how does one prostrate oneself upon the hilltops, under the trees, or in the temple? The answer is in the service. These idolaters committed adultery and fornication there with prostitutes. This act is committed in the prostrate position. It is ultimately an act of self-service, that is, worship of oneself. For that is the root of all idolatry. This is today as it was in the beginning according to Genesis 3:4-6.

Think of any sin and you will find at its core a service, an activity, a motion, that ends up or suggests a bowed down or prostrate position of one or more people. Some are obvious. Some are not. For instance, Jesus points out many subtle sins of prostration in Matthew 5, the Sermon on the Mount. How is anger (v. 22) such a sin? Jesus likened anger to murder. You murder someone and what position do they end up in before you? Right! Prostrate. Before you. Do you see the picture of this person at your feet? What is in your heart besides anger and murder? Pride! You are over that other person. They are bowed down to you.

“But I am no murderer,” you say, “and I’m not angry with anyone. And no one has ever bowed down to me.” Seems silly doesn’t it? We don’t see this happening on the street let alone a hilltop, under a tree, or in a temple, do we? Look again. What does God say about pride?

Pride puts the poor under your feet – Psalm 10:2
Pride puts God beneath you – Psalm 10:4
Pride in its arrogance and forwardness puts others beneath your tongue – Proverbs 8:13
Pride brings contention (the prefix ‘con’ making one against or beneath) – Proverbs 13:10
Pride conquers and destroys everything flat before you – Proverbs 16:18
Pride takes the spoils so that nothing is left to hold another up – Isaiah 25:11
Pride makes one drunk and fallen down (passed out) – Isaiah 28:3
Pride makes one believe he can bring God down – Obadiah 1:3
Pride of life (the little ‘I am’ vs. the Great I AM) – I John 2:16 (See how this verse ties back to Genesis 2!)

Friday, October 23, 2009


I had a nice chat with my wife today. We talked about a subject that comes up often - church. Seems a lot of folks who I know are talking about this one subject in particular: how many people who go to church are truly saved? I and some of the followers of this blog say somewhere around 10-20% while others say 80%. Interesting.

For the past few days I have read about the last six chapters of Isaiah and the first three chapters of Jeremiah. This is powerful stuff. I encourage you to read it no matter what category you think you fit in, the 80% or the 20%. To me, it looks like God lumps all of Israel and all of Judah (read 100%) into these chapters of judgment and mercy.

Then I read Romans 6 and 7. Thank God those words are all-inclusive.

So think about it. Salvation is yes or no. 80/20 is irrelevant. It's 0/100 because it is unique to every individual.

Yet when it comes to sin, mercy, righteousness, and judgment, the numbers apply differently. But one thing I have learned lately, God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy. He brings the rain on the just and the unjust. But these are very hard to quantify. How great is the mystery of God sometimes.

Just when I was in the depths of sin and was convinced that God would not talk to me, He showed me mercy. Indeed His hand was heavy. But that's mercy. That's the goodness of God leading me to repentance.

Sometimes I wonder why God always uses a heavy hand to do this work. Why doesn't He send a tender brother or sister along to talk to me? I ask Him that a lot and never get an answer. Instead He leads me into these chapters of Isaiah and Jeremiah. It is good for me to be afflicted that I might learn to obey and fear the Lord.

There is much for us to learn about this warfare between the law of God and the law of sin in our members.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Call me Jonah

Proverbs 13:21 – Evil pursueth sinners; but to the righteous good shall be repaid.

Oh, evil has pursued me for weeks. I knew what state I was in. And in the end, I had no excuse. So I won’t list them here. They are all wicked sin. It was the heavy hand of God upon me like Jonah (but unlike him I could not physically sleep for the evil upon me and the darkness of my heart). I am the cause of all this evil for I would not obey the Lord and stay awake. Instead I wanted to sleep in sin and convince myself that I was avoiding the pain.

Psalm 32:4, “For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer.”

In all my study of the Word lately I had concluded that God does not hear the prayer of the wicked, nor does He talk to the wicked. (Proverbs 15:29) I thought that as a Christian, living in the flesh and its sin, was wicked. Hence my conclusion. Either I am wrong or else God is so merciful beyond even His Word. I cannot yet believe the latter for I do not believe that God would contradict Himself. Or else maybe the Words I read are not so absolute, not so universal as I thought, but organic only to the situation at hand. This brings into question all other sorts of organic situations to make me wonder about this question of universality versus singularity of application of God’s Word. It is worthy of more study.

But I cannot escape knowing with certainty that God’s Spirit continued to provoke me lovingly throughout this period. “Repent. Don’t give up. I am merciful.” He would say these things. Also, I did not forsake the daily reading of the Word. Often, though I would not want to see it, a verse would pierce me as the quick and powerful Word of God is intended to do. God not letting me go.

In turn I was more merciful to my own son this past week. He can be a handful with his Asperger’s syndrome combined with just being a little boy. The little had to be weighed more heavily that mercy might abound. No matter how badly he behaved at the pool, no matter what the report from mom at the end of the day, I just could not bring myself to be angry with him. His day by far was better than mine. And he was just having fun at the pool. In his own little world, he was just having fun, no matter how miserable he made everyone else around him feel.

I realized that as I looked out my hotel balcony towards the pool the day after he went home. I missed him so much. I wanted to look down and see him playing. Just having the innocent fun of a little boy who lives in his own world and seemingly cannot recognize any other.

Sinners are like that. We’re helpless. That’s why God had to first love us. That’s why His Spirit had to draw us to Himself. That’s why salvation is entirely of Him. That’s why repentance is also entirely from Him, a gift of God. That’s why I kept hearing Him tell me to repent. He wanted me back. He desires me to worship Him in Spirit and truth. He seeks such.

I had a hard time with that. “You repent,” He said, “and I make these problems go away.” He had done that before, many times in my life. I didn’t want to universalize this one. I did not deserve it. Why should He? Why would He?

But He did. I woke up the next morning after going to sleep in repentant prayer. The problems were fixed. By one o’clock in the afternoon they were cemented forever in the vault of no problems, no worries. The admiral had ordered it such. The problems were non-issues. Proceed with the mission.

God indeed can repay the righteous with good. I love Him.

This morning I woke up in prayer. What shall I do Lord in response to your goodness? I read in Isaiah 62:6-7, “I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence, And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.”

I could not keep silent about the good thing the Lord had done to me. He gave me a name. As soon as I left my room, there he was. Would I “be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand?” (Ephesians 6:13) Only in fearless obedience to “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,…” I prayed for him. And then I opened my mouth and proclaimed the goodness and praise of God.

Then after we departed I asked God, “What next? I want to do something more for you.”

Pray for him, that the good word you have spoken be not snatched from his ground (Matthew 13). I desire worship and you desire others to fellowship with you in truth and holiness. Continue the work of Ephesians 5:25-27 and I Corinthians 15:27. Be bold and persistent.

One of the shortcomings I have as a leader is my trust in people. I really want to believe that people want to do good, want to do the right thing, and expect the same from others. However, I have been continually disappointed over the years in this. I see this latest season of rebellion as a lesson both for myself and for my shortfallen trust.

Psalm 14:1-3, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

I know why I have a hard time with this. I’m one of them when in rebellion. There can be no other outcome but complete disappointment when working with sinners. To them and rebellious Christians, goodness is right in his own eyes (Judges 17:6, 21:25, Proverbs 12:15, 16:2, 21:2). It’s a moving target no man can hit and it is the source of all contention and it comes from pride.

So I have to walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lust of the flesh that desires its own goodness and righteousness. I must not trust the goodness of another man. I must boldly trust in the Lord and His Word and His Spirit to lead me in the way which is right. I know better. “The lips of the wise disperse knowledge…” (Proverbs 15:7a) …”For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” (Proberbs 2:6). Therefore I can only trust His Word and confidently and boldly disperse it. “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Today I wrote about 5000 words, restarting my historical fiction novel "Falkenstein" once again. All told, I have written over 50,000 words on this thing over the years. I don't like any of it. I'm a little happier about today's work only because I attended a seminar and read a book that have helped me a great deal.

Writing fiction is nothing like the non-fiction works that I usually produce. This is not a Christian book. I keep wondering about its inspiration. When writing my trilogy, "Christian Mythology", "The Remnant", and "My Little Children", each was preceded with a lot of prayer and Bible study. Is any of that necessary for an historical fiction novel about a castle, the art of falconry, an emperor whose works on falconry were centuries ahead of his time, and a Bavarian king many called "Mad" King Ludwig?

Certainly a lot of research was required. Is that analogous to Bible study? In a way. But it does not yield spiritual inspiration. Is prayer required? I tend to think not. But as a Christian I realize without Jesus I can do nothing. But it all just feels weird. So I am learning and asking God these questions. I'm also not sure why He has me on this hiatus when the trilogy is desperately needed in the hands of a sleeping Church. This is a strange time.

Your prayers are coveted.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

New Direction

One of my lifelong passions is all things related to King Ludwig II of Bavaria, especially his castles (Neuschwanstein for example). Many times I have attempted to write an historical fiction novel on his life, mysterious death in 1886, and his unfinished castle Falkenstein. The attempts have dragged on for over ten years. Now I will write that novel.

It is a huge diversion from my usual non-fiction writing on this blog as well as books. Oh well, it shall be done. Donald Maass and his book "The Fire in Fiction" are my inspirations. I won't tell you who my inspirations are for my characters. That's part of the fun.

So I may post the occasional blog here for its intended subject. But excuse me as my focus will be elsewhere for a time. At the same time I intend to edit and edit and edit some more my manuscripts upon which this blog is based. When complete, I will submit them to agents. That's a lesson learned from Mr. Maass. It's all about the story. Make it the best it can be.

Our God is a consuming fire.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Streaming Thoughts

Here's something a little different. Usually I write something only after stewing on it for a long time. That process begins with prayer. In between it includes lots and lots of notes on things God's Spirit directs me to in His Word or things He wants me to think about and then extract from His Word. Often these notes come in torrents. Once bathed in prayer, Bible study, and coherence, they come out as blogs or books. Such a process started this morning. Below is the result.

This first bit started as a conversation in my head, one often heard from folks I talk to.

Why "Christian Mythology"? Who are you to tell me?
Whose authority?
How can the whole church be wrong?
What about pastors, teachers, deacons?

We teach truth and false doctrine but not always all the truth. Who decides what we believe and teach? Who is responsible for deciding what is taught and believed?

You know something is wrong but...
You say it's not really all that bad to stir up such a fuss.
Then what should we do with those parts that are wrong? What are we responsible for? What will God hold us accountable for?

How do you know something is wrong? Who told you? Has the church admitted it's own guilt? Did you conclude this by your own experience? Or did God tell you? What are you required to do with this knowledge?

What happens when we become the Church and worship exactly as God prescribed? What happens when we don't? What happens when we try to interpolate and do/teach/believe things that we think are not in the Bible, thus providing us with the liberty/freedom of interpretation and expression? Do such areas exist?

What if you're right? What should I do? Don't follow me. It is God waking you up. Follow Him. Obey the promptings of His Spirit as He guides you in His Word to learn the truth.

A little later on this stream started after I heard that the linen wall in the Old Testament Tabernacle was woven from a single weave. This represents the righteousness of the saints today. I want to investigate this.

If we indeed live in the church age of Laodicea, how can this be reconciled with this present representation?

Worship - where God chooses to put His Name (Deuteronomy 12, esp. 4-5) sacrifice, rejoice, eat -
John 4:21
God seeks another - John 4:23

Phrase - "Prepare our hearts to worship" - Where does it come from? What does it mean?

Yesterday someone mentioned to me again (I hear this a lot) that they think the actual percentage of folks in church who are saved is quite small, from 10-20% max.

If 80% of the church are unsaved then:

1) they should be easily identified by the other 20% and
a) they should be cast out
2) they are not identified by the other 80% because these are asleep and assimilated not knowing the difference and
b) nothing happens

And finally, this stream was put to paper:

Suppose these are the only words you ever hear from Jesus. What would you do? Suppose this is the only act you ever see Jesus do. How would you respond?

Most of His Words and acts were performed to unique and singular audiences, sometimes many, sometimes, one. And they never see or hear Him ever again. What did they do? How did they respond? How about you?

They had no Bible. No books. No internet. No phones. No mass communication. No relative hindsight.


Friday, August 21, 2009


Before I get to the subject I'll tell you about a first. This is the first time I have used wi-fi in the air on AirTran. It's wonderful and fast. So this is my first blog post from 38,000 feet.

Worship. What is it? Let's start by talking about what it is not. Once you see how black and white this is I trust that you will be completely free to worship God, perhaps for the very first time. Please hold your judgments for a moment a hear the Word of God.

Interestingly, the phrase "worship and praise" is not found in the King James Bible. There is only one place in the Bible where the two words are found in the same context:

Psalm 138:2, "I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name."

I will jump to a conclusion here to explain what worship is not and then backfill with more Scripture later. Perhaps you'll agree with me the point I want to make is that worship and praise, most often associated with music, is simply not a Biblical association. Not that it is wrong mind you. I make the point in order to show you a more glorious thing.

Likewise, worship and prayer are not associated contextually in the Bible. That means two things: 1) worship and prayer are not equivalent, and 2) they also don't necessarily go together Biblically although again, it is not necessarily a bad thing.

Finally, the association of the words worship and serve are found fifteen times in the Bible. To understand the association, you must know God's first commandment found in Exodus 20:1-6, "And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments."

We'll come back to the importance of this association later.

What I want to show you is the singular act of worship from God's Word. First, the Scripture references to help us along:

Psalm 95:6, "O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker."

Psalm 29:2, "Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness."

Psalm 96:9, "O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth."

John 4:24, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."

Philippians 2:9-11, "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

OK lesson 1 - a little Hebrew and Greek. The word "worship" means to bow down to or to prostrate oneself. Every single usage of the word in the Bible means exactly that. There is no singing, hand waving or raising, praying, crying, blessing, or any other thing that we commonly associate with the act of worship.

The purpose of this study is not question why we do what we do when we say we worship. As I said, the associations we make and the actions that we take are not necessarily bad or wrong or sinful. But they do lessen the reality and glory of worship as God intends it.

But why don't we see folks worship in a kneeling or prostrate position? Is it just a cultural thing that we do not? Does it really matter what position we are in? Can't we worship in our car as well as our pew? Let's look at those Scriptures above for lesson 2.

Jesus clearly told us how to worship - in spirit and in truth. Does anybody know how to do this? I struggled for months with it. Here's the answer.

"In spirit" means in one spirit to Spirit communion with God. That is what David meant in the Psalm. Worship in the beauty of holiness. Holiness comes from God alone. Our personal holiness comes from the sin-saving blood of Jesus. In our moments of worship, we must therefore be right, clean, holy, and sinless before God (both positionally and experientially). As Jesus said in Matthew 5:8, "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God."

"In truth" means in God's truth. That means we are to worship God's way. He made that explicitly clear in the first commandment. He made it abundantly clear to us in Paul's letter to the Philippians. At the name of Jesus, we are to kneel and worship (bow down). Again, how often do you see this? How often do you do this? Why or why not?

One of the drivers that should drive us to our knees every time (for the Scripture does not allow for a time when we don't need to) is again from the Psalmist. Fear before Him. Fear. I think we presume too much at times when we boldly come to God's throne but we don't come in fear. This requires much meditation to recognize the depth and power of that statement. I will simply say, as a friend did to me as I shared this with him the other day, "Coming to God on our knees or prostrate certainly minimizes the opportunity for pride. We have to come in humility." Indeed, what is on your mind when you come boldly?

For the past many months, God continually impressed upon my mind this little command, "Worship me." As I studied and struggled with it, He kept asking. I sense He asks for two reasons. One, because it is the glory due His name. Second, because I fear He gets too little of it from His Church. I don't think He feels alone or forgotten. He is just trying to wake us up to what we should be doing consistently, lovingly, willfully, desperately, and whole-heartedly.

God says when we seek Him with our whole heart, we will be blessed (Psalm 119:2), we will have understanding and keep God's law (Psalm 119:34), and we will praise Him both in the world and in the congregation (Psalm 138:1, Psalm 111:1). I think most of all what God wants is for us to come away from worship in complete obedience to His commandments. This is what Jesus meant in John 14:15, "If ye love me, keep my commandments."

Finally, what is the connection between worship and serving? To serve means exactly that, to labor or work. How do we worship and work for the Lord our God? The work, in Biblical context, is always linked to worship and sacrifice. No exceptions. The work is the services performed in sacrifice. What sort of sacrifices to we give to God today?

When we come to God boldly in obedience to Romans 12:1-2, we do our reasonable service. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

Again, when you walk away from true worship, God is pleased. He will have impressed upon your mind and heart His specific will for you. It will be directly in line with the keeping of His commandments. It will specifically and solely be for His glory.

Now the question. Have you seen Jesus on your bended knee or prostrately? Has He given a Word just to you to obey? Have you worshipped ever before in your life before now?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Holy Spirit Conviction

Man I have been so busy the past month! No blog posts all that time. I'm so sorry. But's lots of good things from God have happened. Worship has been on my mind all that time. Maybe these seem like silly questions to you but I have examined worship from all angles to come to a great conclusion and illustration.

For instance, God kept prompting me during prayer, "Worship me." And I would ask, "How?" What is the attitude, the words, the physical posture? Is it like I see in church or is it something else entirely? Well you know me. I only want the truth from God's Word. So here it is.

So often today we hear the terms "worship" and "praise" used together. More so, they are linked with music. True, "praise" is often linked with music in the Bible. But never worship. Likewise, the Hebrew and Greek words for these terms are completely dissimilar. Therefore I concluded that their context and use are separate and their meanings and purposes must also be different.

"Worship" is used infrequently in the New Testament until the book of Revelation. We learn the most about it in John 4. Jesus said in verse 24, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."

I struggled with this verse the longest because it did not answer my question, "How do I worship?" In other words, what am I supposed to do?

First, there is a precursor to worship. To worship in the spirit, my spirit must first be one with God's Spirit. There must be no sin between us. So the entrance to worship must involve a humble but bold confession, forsaking, and issue of mercy. "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." - Proverbs 28:13

That is worshiping in spirit according to the one/One relationship Jesus prayed for us in John 17:21-22.

But how does one worship in truth? What truth? One answer I know is the truth of posture. How does God want us to come to Him to worship?

Psalm 95:6 - "O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker."

Philippians 2:9-11, "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

How seldom is this seen or done and yet this is God's command. There are no others like it with options.

Well I have to be honest here that while I was delighted to find these answers, I was also scared. After all, this is a bit different. What will people think? Yes, I felt ashamed to have these thoughts and questions. But I knew the truth and I wanted to be set free with it.

Two nights ago at the supper table Aaron (my youngest) brought a Webkins to the table. My boys know bringing toys to the table is a no-no. I did not know that it was a special night for this Webkins. It was a birthday.

Anyway, I asked Aaron to remove the toy and then give thanks to the Lord for supper. He did. And then he said, "And now I'll have "Webkins" (whatever its name was) pray to the Webkins god."

"No, no Aaron," I said. "That breaks God's commandment not to have any other gods before Him." Aaron seemed to think that was good enough so he put the Webkins down and picked up his pizza. We all started to eat.

Then I looked up at Aaron. His head was bowed and he had his pizza over the edge of the table. It looked like he was pretending to feed his Webkins. I asked him to stop so the pizza oil would not drip on his Webkins and make it dirty. He started to cry.

My wife thought he was upset about the Webkins birthday thing and asked me to relax the no toy rule at the table. But there was no consolation. Aaron just cried harder and harder. Then he got up and motioned for me to join him away from the table. We went to his room and sat down on the bed.

He told me he was crying because of the "Webkins god thing". Right away I knew God had hold of his heart and he was under Holy Spirit conviction. Wow! So I brought Aaron to the Scriptures to lead him to repentence and freedom. We read I John 1:9 together. Then I asked Aaron if he wanted to worship God as fruit of his repentance. He agreed. I showed him the Scriptures above and then asked him what we should do. God put right into my heart and soul and body the moment of truth. We got on our knees, bowed down, and worshipped. Then Aaron prayed. And that was it.

Except it took a few days to come down from that cloud. :-)

Monday, July 20, 2009

New Book Review

This week I start reviewing a new book. This time I joined up with the publisher Thomas Nelson. Stop by later to read my first review of "The Noticer", a new book this year by Andy Andrews. This is the publisher's book description:

"A moving story of common wisdom from the bestselling author of The Traveler’s Gift.

Orange Beach, Alabama is a simple town filled with simple people. But they all have their share of problems – marriages teetering on the brink of divorce, young adults giving up on life, business people on the verge of bankruptcy, and many of the other obstacles that life seems to dish out to the masses.

Fortunately, when things look the darkest – a mysterious old man named Jones has a miraculous way of showing up. Communicating what he calls “a little perspective,” Jones explains that he has been given a gift of noticing things that others miss. In his simple interactions, Jones speaks to that part in everyone that is yearning to understand why things happen and what they can do about it.

Based on a remarkable true story, The Noticer beautifully blends fiction, allegory, and inspiration."

Monday, July 13, 2009

Book Review - Believing God: Chapter 12 - We Shall be Like Him - I John 3:2

This is the last chapter of the book and so the last review. Did Dr. Sproul save the best for last? Who's to say. But there is a lot of good stuff in this chapter although it characteristically rambles. The main topic is Jesus as we know from the chapter title.

I remember the two witnesses who shared the Gospel with me. Try as I might to locate them these 25 years later, they seemingly have melted into obscurity. That conclusion is only based on Google and my ability to think up keywords concerning their whereabouts. From God's perspective though, I imagine these two gifted evangelists are still out there boldly proclaiming the truth about Jesus. And that is just fine to be that way. They are not the important ones here. Jesus is. And how many times they reminded me of that prior to and after my salvation I lost count. But I never forgot how earnest they were in focusing everything upon Jesus.

It's a good lesson that I was reminded of as I read this chapter (and at other points throughout the book). Let's see how many times Dr. Sproul mentions people and Jesus. Under the people category:

the reader
the devil (why he credits Satan with a capital "D" I don't know)
the church
demonic scientists
Martin Luther
his family
Paul the apostle

(NOTE: and after all that he finally gets to I John 3:2.) Now back to the list.

Dr. R. C. Sproul, Sr.
a publisher
an athlete
a theologian
a rock star
a political figure
our heroes
His Body and Bride

That is a very lengthy list to get around to the point that we should fix our eyes, hearts, minds, and very lives upon Jesus. God says in Jeremiah 24:7, "And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart." Jesus says in Luke 14:26-33, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."

This morning's devotional from Oswald Chambers says, "THE PRICE OF VISION

"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw also the Lord." Isaiah 6:1

Our soul's history with God is frequently the history of the "passing of the hero." Over and over again God has to remove our friends in order to bring Himself in their place, and that is where we faint and fail and get discouraged. Take it personally: In the year that the one who stood to me for all that God was, died - I gave up everything? I became ill? I got disheartened? or - I saw the Lord?

My vision of God depends upon the state of my character. Character determines revelation. Before I can say "I saw also the Lord," there must be something corresponding to God in my character. Until I am born again and begin to see the Kingdom of God, I see along the line of my prejudices only; I need the surgical operation of external events and an internal purification.

It must be God first, God second, and God third, until the life is faced steadily with God and no one else is of any account whatever. "In all the world there is none but thee, my God, there is none but thee." Keep paying the price. Let God see that you are willing to live up to the vision."

Finally, God says in Hebrews 12:1-2, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus (emphasis mine) the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Even God spends a lot of time talking about other people. But every single one of them is a witness to Jesus. Our eyes are not on the witnesses but on He who is witnessed, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

That's One Small Step for a Man...

Monday July 20 marks the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing and Neil Armstrong's famous words as "First Man". The day before, the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D. C. will sponsor a full day of activities marking the historic event. But the most exciting event, to space nuts like me, will be at 8:00 that evening when the three astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins come together for the first time since 1969 to address the public.

Up until two weeks ago, I had tickets to go see this historic event. It will never be repeated. It was the chance of a lifetime. I gave the tickets away for a higher calling.

My oldest son just returned from his first missions trip to Germany. That Sunday evening he and the rest of his team will stand before the church and share the great things that God did and continues to do during that trip. As soon as the pastor announced the date, two things happened to me.

Immediately I was aware of the conflict. But first, my spirit soured to know that I would be there to support my son. Second, my heart sank as I knew what I had to give up. The decision was simple and it was unanimous with my wife and children. This was not a decision about my son, but about Jesus.

My son, day by day, is visibly being transformed by the renewing of his mind (even at the tender age of 15) and he is coming to know the will of God for this moment in his life. I am thrilled to see such fruit.

So not only is this an example to him of:

Luke 14:33 - "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."

...but it is also a beautiful picture of:

I John 2:14-17 - "I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." that both my son and I know and do the will of God and give Him all the honor, glory, and worship.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

It's Official

My first article was officially published by the Examiner today. Stop by and take a look. If you have ideas for an article, or would like to write for the Examiner as a local expert, drop me a line.

Upcoming Events

A gem dropped into my lap two weeks ago while on vacation at the shore. As I read one of my Yahoo! Christian writer's group messages, one person wrote about a new writing gig she started with The Examiner. Intrigued, I checked out the website. Now I have a gig with them too as the Philadelphia Christian Living Examiner. I posted my first article last weekend. Upon acceptance by my editor, the site will open to the public. Then I may post freely and frequently. The posts will be a little different than what I blog here, but the underlying theme will remain pretty much the same. I look forward to seeing you there and reading your comments.

Since writing the manuscripts Christian Mythology, The Remnant, and My Little Children, I have struggled a LOT with how to share all of it with my family. More than anything I want them (and others) to join me in Christian fellowship as we worship our Lord Jesus. But as I have known all my life, and my wife reminded me the other night, I am a much better writer than a speaker. I struggle at the dinner table and family gatherings for the right words. It comes out all wrong and I get very discouraged. There have been so many starts and stops. I see God doing so many wonderful things as He molds and shapes my children. I want to know all about those things and at the same time I want to share all the joys of what God is doing with me. But the spoken word fails.

So God put into my mind this morning the culmination of thoughts and experiences from the past (weeks I guess?) on how to resolve this. I will write a Bible Study that is for the family. It will bring together the three manuscripts in a way that we can all share in the great work of God as He forms His Church, nutures, grows, and sends her out to do His will. Needless to say I rejoiced and worshipped the rest of the way into work. I'll keep you posted from time to time how the work is going. Thank you for your prayers.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Book Review - Believing God - Chapter 11: The Good Work Shall be Completed - Philippians 1:6

This chapter is different from any other so far. It is mostly a high-level theology discussion as well as another tiresome replay of Dr. Sproul's cast of theologian associates and family. It leaves me wondering sometimes whether he struggles with his beliefs about his beliefs, just as we all should if we are honest.

Today's devotion from "My Utmost for His Highest" was therefore no coincidence as I read it and thought about this chapter. Oswald Chambers writes, "THE CONDITIONS OF DISCIPLESHIP

"If any man come to Me, and hate not . . . he cannot be My disciple." Luke 14:26, also 27, 33

If the closest relationships of life clash with the claims of Jesus Christ, He says it must be instant obedience to Himself. Discipleship means personal, passionate devotion to a Person, Our Lord Jesus Christ. There is a difference between devotion to a Person and devotion to principles or to a cause. Our Lord never proclaimed a cause; He proclaimed personal devotion to Himself. To be a disciple is to be a devoted love-slave of the Lord Jesus. Many of us who call ourselves Christians are not devoted to Jesus Christ. No man on earth has this passionate love to the Lord Jesus unless the Holy Ghost has imparted it to him. We may admire Him, we may respect Him and reverence Him, but we cannot love Him. The only Lover of the Lord Jesus is the Holy Ghost, and He sheds abroad the very love of God in our hearts. Whenever the Holy Ghost sees a chance of glorifying Jesus, He will take your heart, your nerves, your whole personality, and simply make you blaze and glow with devotion to Jesus Christ.

The Christian life is stamped by 'moral spontaneous originality,' consequently the disciple is open to the same charge that Jesus Christ was, viz., that of inconsistency. But Jesus Christ was always consistent to God, and the Christian must be consistent to the life of the Son of God in him, not consistent to hard and fast creeds. Men pour them selves into creeds, and God has to blast them out of their prejudices before they can become devoted to Jesus Christ."

It's that last sentence that really grabs me and makes the point of this review as well as my own personal struggle. "God has to blast them out...." Well, what if we don't want to. Perhaps Chambers' wording is too dogmatic, for in fact, God will not force us to do any such thing. He will do all in His power to make it happen. But there is just one little problem - sin.

God allowed me to go through a little exercise this past week so that I could write something very personal to you. It is personal to me yet I believe universal to the saints. I had some sin in my life this week. When that happens, among the Biblical consequences that I share so often, I am also unable to write. That prophetic gift of God dies as the old man of the flesh comes back to life.

This time, God brought all that together for a purpose - to bring this message today. So perhaps in a way He did "blast" me. But I still have to wonder, for if sin is left unconfessed and unrepented, the inevitable searing of the conscience comes along. Perhaps it is the beautiful reality of the indwelling Holy Spirit Who would not allow me to get more than one step away rather then steep in sin.

But don't listen to this foolishness. The point is that in sin, the flesh is delighted to heep upon itself its own beliefs. As Chambers says, our flesh "pours 'its' selves into creeds" whole-heartedly. The old man will not hesitate to build such walls against God and then we convince ourselves of our theology, our beliefs, and creeds. We gain tremendous comfort that our thoughts are all right and Biblical when in fact they are not. We build myths, extra-Biblical manifestos.

So in my sin I was doing just that. And then God allowed me just a glimpse of just how heinous this path was. Not just the path was foul however. It was the fight of the flesh to keep on it. I refused to deviate. I told God it was no big deal. I could shake it off. Of course I realize the consequences God but don't worry, I can handle it.

Do you ever have conversations with God like that? Do you know you are in sin? Do you hear the checking voice of the Holy Spirit calling you to repent, to not go too far?

Sure, and just like me and all the saints, we struggle still. We get convicted. So we say to God, "Just give me a minute. I'll clean up this mess I got myself into. I know I should repent right now but I have to fix a few things first." The wicked, evil flesh is still fighting, holding onto its Edenic desire to be god. But what does Jesus say? "Come unto me."

We have a favorite hymn, "Just as I am". Truly that is how we must come to Jesus in repentence with immediacy. We could not clean up before salvation. We cannot do it as saints either. The only difference now is as saints we have the indwelling Holy Spirit to convict and give us the presence of mind to know and do the right thing.

This week Love Worth Finding aired a repeat message from Dr. Adrian Rogers, one of my favorites on Romans 6. God used this again for my restoration, just as He uses this truth every time. It is the only truth from which we obtain God's mercy and grace. There is no other way. I highly recommend getting a copy of the message "Three Steps to Victory". Go to

Here it is in short:

I KNOW that I am in Christ Jesus, baptized into His death. Therefore,
I RECKON myself dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ my Lord. Therefore,
I YIELD myself to God in obedience unto righteousness.

Ahh, back again, right with God. Free from sin. Alive. Awake. Free in Jesus to worship God, rejoice in His mercy and grace, and be bold to write to you.

"For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen." - Romans 11:36

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Examiner

Thanks to a post in one of my Yahoo Groups, I learned of The Examiner. "An Examiner is someone in a local market who enjoys informing others about subjects they love. They are the backbone of, they are magazine writers, bloggers, housewives, Ph.Ds, college students and others. The common link between them is that they talk about their knowledge in useful ways." (from 7/1/09

Yesterday I was selected as the regional Philadelphia Examiner for Religion. Wow that's pretty exciting. Articles will start shortly so I will keep you posted and provide a direct link to my page. Thanks for your prayers and encouragement!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Book Review Explanation

This is the response from the publisher of Reformation Trust regarding Chapter 10 of "Believing God" by Dr. R. C. Sproul, Jr.:

Dear Mr. Caldwell:

Thank you for your note regarding Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr.’s book Believing God. In the first paragraph of Chapter 10, Dr. Sproul is speaking not of Christians but of human beings in their fallen condition. This is why he speaks of children of the Devil, which is a term that cannot be applied to Christians due to their adoption by God.

However, as the entire book labors to show, even Christians struggle to believe God.

I hope this clarifies his meaning.


Greg Bailey
Reformation Trust

I replied that this was partially satisfactory. Why?

Because of two things. First, the context of the paragraph, chapter, and entire book is written to Christians. Second, the content of the paragraph makes no sense if it were written to an unbeliever because they simply cannot believe God in their dead, condemned state. Their unbelief is not deepened by the fact that they are also sinners, children of the devil, and fools.

There has been no response yet to this.

However, in a separate snail-mail, I did receive a rejection notice from Mr. Bailey regarding my manuscript, "Christian Mythology". I do not believe that the two transactions are related.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Book Review - Believing God - Chapter 10: He Has Overcome the World - John 16:33

This may well be my last review post of this book. The first paragraph of this chapter brought tears of grief upon first reading. I hope that what I read and will share with you below is some kind of misunderstanding, some poor wording, perhaps semantics. I will contact the author directly for an explanation. Rather than withhold this review until then, I will post it for the book itself is already out there for all to see, purchase, and read. The damage is done. But for this, Dr. R. C. Sproul, Jr. should provide some amplification. I cannot believe that this is reformed theology:

"There are at least two important reasons why we have such a difficult time believing the promises of God. The first and most glaring is our sin. Since the fall of Adam, we have found ourselves in a position where sin comes naturally to us, where our default position is to not believe God. It all began when Adam and Eve failed to believe God. Like them, we, their children, believe our father, the Father of Lies. We are skeptical of what God says and prefer to be as God, constructing reality out of our internal fantasies. We are, in short, fools."

As I took exception many times before in this review, though Dr. Sproul calls us Christians "sinners", the Bible does not. Now he writes that we are children of the devil. Finally, he calls us fools. I will venture no further into this as the statements are clear. I take strong objection to each. Christians are not sinners, not children of the devil, and not fools. Not only are these my beliefs, they are convictions. They are Biblically sound. I trust that Dr. Sproul will respond to clarify or confirm his contrary positions.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Book Review - Believing God: Chapter 9 - All Things Work Together: Romans 8:28

Ugh, this is the chapter where adherence to the number one rule of writing would have helped tremendously: show don't tell. Dr. Sproul spends better than half the chapter providing a prescription before he even tells us what the promise is. He must have assumed that his audience knows Romans 8:28 by heart and therefore he need not provide neither the verse nor any amplification. Why ignore a whole segment of Christianity who is unknowledgeable of this (for whatever reason)? The prescription is a turnoff and does not lead the reader to desire the necessary knowledge.

Finally the promise is given along with some excellent amplification which is immediately wasted. Dr. Sproul generalizes to much that the lesson is lost. Prescription plus generalization equals a dull read. Even the spiritually mature would have a hard time getting through this with the Spirit's guidance.

Nevertheless, there are points made that require discussion.

First, here's the verse. Romans 8:28 (and 29-30 since he uses it for context amplification, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."

He then makes his first good point. "We will better be able to believe this promise the better we are able to remember our goal, our end, our purpose." The question here which he poorly answers in a much too general sense is, "What is my purpose?" Sadly he defers to the Shorter Catechism instead of the Bible. Stay in Romans and move ahead a few chapters to a section I often use in my posts - Romans 11:36 - 12:2.

You want to know more than God's general purpose for you, to love Him and enjoy Him forever, thereby bringing Him all the glory. You want to know His specific purpose for you, thereby bringing Him all the glory. Here it is:

"For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

First things first! God's specific purpose for you starts not with your purpose but with His glory (v. 11:36) Second, His purpose for you starts in heaven. That's where you find the answer. Spend some time there. Ask. Third, He will answer you so that you know for certain. (v. 12:2) What you do in between is the key that unlocks the answer. It is what this blog is all about. A message to a holy Bride alive unto God and ready for all things from Him in anticipation of His coming.

Once you know God's purpose for you generally and specifically, then this purpose of Romans 8:28 starts to become real and visible and up front in your thoughts, emotions, experience, and prayers. Dr. Sproul spends too much time concerned with the cultural impact upon these things, accusing it of blinding us and holding us back from believing the promise. He should know better than to fall into that pragmatic trap for he and his father speak against it all the time. In other words, don't let your circumstances dictate your faith.

Then he changes course to verses 29-30 which discuss our sanctification. This is just another in a chain of conclusions based on Romans 8:1 which is in itself a conclusion of the arguments started in chapter 5 all the way up to that point. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Take a look at the construction of this chapter and picture it as an outline of conclusive topics. It would look something like this (in the KJV):


You get the idea. These conclusive topics are all simply evidences of walking in the Spirit. They are great and profound promises given ONLYto those who do NOTwalk in the flesh (sin). Period.

Watch out here because Dr. Sproul's conclusion is quite different and it is misled. This happens quite often when one teaches on sanctification (or worse yet, progressive sanctification). He writes, "If, instead, we would delight in Him, if we would, by His grace, behold His glory more fully, if we would see through the veil more clearly, if we would draw near to Him in prayer and at His table, then we would know not where we are going but to whom. Then we would rejoice in every step of the journey. Then we would give thanks and would believe His promises."

This is very close to "works" theology. But I give him the benefit of the doubt given the strength of his reformed position. Instead, he is likely saying that if we "have just a little bit more of Jesus in us, become just a little bit more like Him" then we will believe. Where is the faith in all that? Where is the promise of the fullnessof the Holy Spirit in all that? We are either full of the Spirit with none of the flesh or we are not. There is no in between. I'll save the blog for a later day on this avenue called progressive sanctification. It is false teaching.

For now, think about the meaning of such things as he says in conclusion, "...bring us closer to being like Him...," and "brought us closer to Him." I will leave you with this one unalterable fact that I started this post with: Romans 11:36. You cannot get any closer to Him than He already is within you. That's pretty close I'd say. Now you realizing it, being aware of it, experiencing that closeness, well that's another subject. But Jesus answered that dilemma for you in John 17:21-22, "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:" You cannot get any closer than "one" and there, you will glorify God. What's keeping you?

Sunday, June 21, 2009


I have been writing for a long time. While part of it is a gift (as some folks tell me), another part must be learned. Non-fiction religion is still my favorite genre (hence the blog) and I enjoy writing it a lot. But I must confess that there are a few fiction pieces sitting in my file, none published. I have one unfinished novel started some twenty years ago rotting in the file but brewing more and more in my mind.

In fact, it's coming to a boil after I attended the Writer's Digest Writer's Conference last month in New York City. I attended a workshop offered by Donald Maass titled, "The Fire in Fiction". He titled the workshop after his new book of the same name. It was my first ever conference and first ever workshop for fiction. I was sad that his book sold out while there. He was autographing. But I joined the line anyway just to meet him and thank him for the great first impression and workshop along with the assurance that I would immediately buy the book. Which I did.

I'm about 1/3 of the way through it and loving every page. Imagine me, a highly conservative Christian non-fiction writer (and reader) highlighting pages in this book. The more I read the more ideas I get and the more that old novel is starting to come back to life. I can't wait to write it all over again.

It all came to life this afternoon as I watched the new Disney/Pixar movie "Up". Here I am thoroughly enjoying this movie with laughter, tears, tension, and all the while picking out points from the "...Fire in Fiction" book, analyzing the film to death. Ahh, so that's how they do it! What a revelation! It would probably ruin the movie for anyone else but it gave me profound joy to see what I have been learning. It's also a blessing because my learning style is by far slanted towards visual. Auditory and reading fall far behind.

So here's to you Donald Maass. In a few years, my historical novel "Falkenstein" will be on its way to your door!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thought for the Day

Once we are down the path of James 1:14-15, "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." we reach some inevitable point of no return. The good news is there is also a point where we can turn ("we" meaning Christians - sinners cannot). At the point of temptation, we can still turn and not sin. "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." - I Corinthians 10:13

Note the conditions of temptation: lust AND enticement. These are powerful things. Lust comes from within ("his own lust"). Enticement may be internal or external. It is the hook. Temptation is a three-stage process from which escape is possible at any point without sin. But the further you progress in each stage, the more difficult it will be to take the escape that God provides.

But at the point of sin there is no return. Sin brings death. Inevitable. No turning back. No resistance, remedy, or remission can stop it. We cannot help it. Once past the point of enticement we cannot escape the hook, the old man does not struggle at all but naturally does what satisfies his lust. It is the panging of the lust and the sharp point of enticement that wakes him up. He sins. He cannot but speak of and do the thing which his lust demands.

There is a similar process for the Christian who is awake. God says of us in Acts 4:20, "For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." What process got Peter to the point that he could not help but speak to the glory of God?

The answer immediately preceeds this starting in verse 7, "And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye."

There is a Name. There is power. That Name is our Lord Jesus Christ. That power is the fullness of His indwelling Holy Spirit. The result is boldness, an inevitible, point of no return confession before men the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, His Truth, and the demonstrated power of His resurrection.

Just as we cannot help but sin when the old man is alive, so we cannot help but speak boldly the Truth when God is alive. "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." - Romans 6:11

Share with our readers today some comment about how you just could not help but do or say something that brings glory to Jesus.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Book Review - Believing God - Chapter 8: Mountains Cast Into the Sea - Mark 11:22-24

This was by far the best chapter of the book so far and left me feeling a sense of great anticipation to turn the page. Jesus says in the subject verse, Mark 11:22-24, "And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."

Dr. Sproul recalls a trip to Israel when this saying was brought to a visual reality. I won't spoil the story here. But I never heard it before. Somehow I knew that God would use that picture in my mind later in the week. So I had great anticipation going to Sunday School where our lessons are focused on Jesus. What a wonderful, worthwhile "topic". I was not disappointed. But I was perplexed for about a week as I tried to put together the building blocks that God had put before me.

Just as Jesus described the moving of some pretty big blocks of turf in Mark 11, so God had to move some pretty big blocks of mental dullness in my mind. He wants to do the same in all of us so that we may do one simple thing: believe.

In case you still have any doubts about the composition of the Church, let the following verses and teaching put all aside. God will move a mountain in order to build the "stones" of His Body. But we have to first get out of the way with our belief in our beliefs, and into His Way of faith, believing exactly what He says.

First, some history lesson.

God commands that His place of worship appear thus:

Exodus 20:24-25, "An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it."

Deuteronomy 27:5-6, "And there shalt thou build an altar unto the LORD thy God, an altar of stones: thou shalt not lift up any iron tool upon them. Thou shalt build the altar of the LORD thy God of whole stones: and thou shalt offer burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD thy God:"

This is quite plain and clear. Make the altar of earth. If stone is used, no tool shall touch it. Why? I'll explain later. It's the key. But remember this little hint: what else was formed of the earth besides this altar?

Later on, Solomon builds his temple for God. Look at the subtle change that takes place in I Kings 6:7, "And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building."

This time, tools were used on the stone, just not locally. All the finishing work was done right at the quarry. God didn't mention that back in the Law. Why did Solomon do it then? God was building on something far greater.

God foreshadowed this in Isaiah 28:16, "Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste." This verse is quoted a few times in the New Testament, notably in I Peter 2:6-8, "Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed." Stumbling over stones is the key here. Perhaps the very stones, the visual appointment we create on our own, stones we call churches, are those we stumble over.

We must therefore examine more closely what God meant by "cornerstone". Look at Hebrews 9:11, 24, "But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;...For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:"

Ah, now we see the perfect. But do we? Jesus says in Matthew 24:2, Mark 13:2, and Luke 21:6, "...See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down."

And that is exactly what happened to Solomon's temple just 70 years later. But why "not one stone upon another"? As I was putting this post together and sharing it with some friends, one told me this story.

The Jews, knowing the imminent destruction was near, took all the gold and silver of the temple. Rather than allow it to fall into the hands of the enemy, they melted it down and poured it between the cracks in the stones. Later, the enemy, to retrieve the precious metals, removed every stone from upon another to get that gold.

Let the world have its riches. God's purpose is far higher and more glorious. Are you willing to ask Him to move the mountain in your way and allow Him to make you what He promises in I Peter 2:4-5, "To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."?

There we are back at the altar. But that altar, that Church, that sacrifice, is us. From the earth we come and to the earth we go. But our immortal spirit is forever God's place of worship. And so I say again, "For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." (Romans 11:36-12:2)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Yo Adrian!

Most mornings driving to work I listen to Adrian Rogers on the radio. This morning his topic was a compare and contrast of faith and works from Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." and James 2. Pastor Rogers wanted to assure us that these two passages are not contradictory. He is correct. His basis for this was pointing out a key to understanding. This key, he claimed, was that Ephesians 2:8-9 speaks of our justification before God (faith) while James 2 speaks of our justification before men (works). To support this claim, we must ask two questions. Why and why?

Why must I be justified before God? That's easy. Because of the atonement of Jesus Christ. Justification cost His blood. That is God's eternal explanation found in Romans 5:9, "Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him."

Pastor Rogers went on to claim rightly that our faith, our justification, our salvation is indeed based alone on the grace of God - NOT OF WORKS. For how could any man account of his works and declare them sufficient such that he knows he is saved? And what man would accept not knowing, but merely hoping his works were enough, only to find out after death (too late!) that his works were insufficient? What rational man would take on such a religion?

The second question is where we get into trouble. Why must I be justified before men? Pastor Rogers went right to the Scriptures for this one. He pinged Romans 4:2-3, "Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." and James 2:23-24, "And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only." Somehow at this point Pastor Rogers drew the conclusion that Abraham's works justified him before man. Let's examine that claim.

Genesis 15 offers God's Word about Romans 4:2-3. Genesis 22 (30 years later) offers God's Word about James 2:23-24. Two things jump out immediately as we go back to those two passages in Genesis. First, who was there? If Abraham's works justified his faith before men, then who was there to account for it? Nobody. Nobody was there but Abraham, Isaac, and God. Second, what was God's response?

Genesis 22:12, "And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me." God then goes on to declare His blessings to Abraham. But the point here is that Abraham's work of offering Isaac elicited a response from God, not man.

Our faithful works before God are for that very purpose - to obtain His response. What response is that? Justification.

Other Bible teachers have explained the difference between the two key texts of this post this way: Ephesians 2:8-9 speaks of our saving faith while James 2 speaks of our living faith. That's the way I have always heard it until this morning.

But before you start to see Pastor Rogers' point and argue, think about these last two facts from his broadcast. He went on to say that there are many people in his congregation and listening to his broadcast who are not saved. They think they are. But they don't know it. He said (and you've heard this illustration hundreds of times) they have missed salvation by eighteen inches. They know the truth in their heads but they have never asked Jesus into their hearts.

Stop right there. That's works! No one can claim salvation by grace alone and then also say that we must "ask Jesus into our heart". By implication that means if we do not ask Him, then we are not saved. That is works.

Second, at the end of the broadcast, his assistant Chris announces a typical benediction, "If you've never prayed to receive Jesus as your Savior...."

Stop right there. That's works too! No one can claim salvation by grace alone and then also say that we must "pray to receive Jesus". By implication that means if we do not pray, then we are not saved. That is works.

These are unBiblical myths propagated by the church today. They leave sinners in hell and many saints confused and out of their daily right in heaven.

Faith without works is dead. Does that mean we lose our salvation? God forbid! It simply means we are asleep. "Awake unto righteousness and sin not," saith the Lord in I Corinthians 15:34. Our works are for the good pleasure of God as we demonstrate our faith. We believe His revealed Word and will and we do it. There is no greater joy on earth or heaven than this.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Book Review - "Believing God" Chapter 7: Open Windows of Heaven: Malachi 3:10

This chapter was much better than the last in that it was coherent and flowed in the context of the subject matter. This would have been a good spot to insert the idea of the devil's "simultaneous translation" strategy that he discusses elsewhere. He describes this as the difference between what our eyes see on the pages of the Bible, even familiar, perhaps memorized passages, and its meaning that we tell ourselves in our minds. He says that by such "translation", we reduce the Word and strip it of its power. Is this the devil at work? Perhaps.

Oswald Chambers calls it "belief in our beliefs". Call it what you will, correct attribution is rather difficult and at best a guess. Is it the devil actively at work, sitting aside the Christian, or is it the Christian's deceitful heart of flesh? It really does not matter. Sufficient to realize is the fact that both are at work and both must be guarded against at all costs.

This chapter is a good example of that necessity for it more than any other so far in the book is at the forefront of the tele-Christian and radio-Christian kingdoms. For here Dr. Sproul introduces another group of people who can be most visciously assaulted by the wiles of the devil and the profit-seekers of the flesh. He says, "It may well be that the greatest effect of the propagation of this foolishness isn’t found among those who fall for it but among those who don’t fall for it. In other words, the heresy is most effective among those who don’t believe the heresy." He sums this effect as, "Because we don’t believe in the health-and-wealth gospel, we may find it all too easy to not believe the promises of God."

Who is this latter group of Christians? They are those who have not decided such matters at all. They are waiting for someone to tell them what to believe. Or perhaps they are waiting to gather sufficient evidence (Biblical or otherwise) to the side they prefer, thus tipping the scales sufficiently to their side to cause them to believe the "overwhelming" evidence. The great danger in all this is that this group in reality fails to believe and exercise themselves in the sufficient teaching of Holy Spirit.

Do you trust the teaching of the Holy Spirit within you to such a degree that the word of any other man is inconsequential? Do you believe I John 2:27 above all else? "But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him."

To answer that question, examine these two others:

To whom do you go first for answers to your Bible questions?

To who do you go most often for these answers?

If you leave it to just Sunday with your pastors and teachers you are most in danger of the devil's "simultaneous translation" and believing your beliefs rather than the truth of the Word of God. Here Dr. Sproul inserts another gem of conviction. He writes, "Once more, through the diabolical ministrations of the Serpent, we come to texts like these and see them not as occasions for repentance but as an occasions for theological debate." Perhaps we get ourselves into this behavior because we read things like this about Paul:

Acts 19:8 - "And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God."

Acts 28:23 - "And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening."

But Paul was not arguing theology. He was persuading, expounding, testifying, and disputing. The centrality of his words was the Word. He spoke of the kingdom of God and things concerning Jesus out of the law of Moses and the prophets. The one thing that we must stop doing if we are to engage in such work is this:

No more discussion of our beliefs about our beliefs. No more of our words. The only Word with any effect at all is the Word of God. Our words must be few and seasoned heavily if not exclusively with His Words. When folks come to me to dispute (and I love a good discussion) I will immediately demand they argue solely from Scripture when after a few minutes I find their words void of such but instead full of themselves. We simply must not tolerate the disputation of our beliefs and our words. They are fruitless. Only God's Word bears the fruit of salvation and life.

The end of this chapter is a great and worthwhile read for here Dr. Sproul explains in detail another failing of the flesh as it does another deceitful job of planting a false belief in our minds. Spend time here meditating before God exactly what He means by "blessing" in Malachi 3:10. The blessing is not necessarily a 1:1 correspondence with the tithe (or in this case a one to many). The blessing can take on many facets and will only be recognized when we are right and One with God. Otherwise, our beliefs creep in again and we set ourselves up with false expectations of the kinds of blessings that God "owes" us. This is particularly dangerous in this age of entitlement. We really don't believe that God is sufficient. (II Corinthians 12:9, II Corinthians 3:5, Luke 14:28-33)