Thoughts to build communion with God, community with the church and help collide with darkness

My desire is to post my thoughts with the hope that God's people can benefit from them and be prepared to work harder and and fight better. Our enjoyment of God is at stake. Father is anything but a boring, no fun, stick in the mud who wants everyone to wear a tie. He is the creator of the universe and he will blow your mind!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What us preachers should be doing

OK, so I am about to finish Revelation. I'm reading in Revelation 19. Verse 10 stops me in my tracks. I've read it many times and, perhaps, from sheer familiarity I just moved on in times past.

Today I hit a wall and could not move on.

"For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."

Telling the story of the Gospel, which is Jesus, IS the spirit of prophecy.

How many men have claimed to speak for God in the holy place of proclaimer/pastor/teacher/prophet and spoken nothing relating to Jesus or anything he has taught?

Jeremiah had lots to say about that issue. He spoke to the prophets and priests and condemned them for their folly (see Jeremiah 2:8; 23:23-32).

The priests do not know God. The prophets prophesy lies.

James 3:1 is a warning about claiming to be a pastor/teacher/prophet (I'm assuming pastors and prophets understand their job is to teach).

What are we to teach? From Jeremiah is seems the message was to be God! The priests did not know God! Consequently they were not making him known to the people and they had exchanged what was ultimately great and perfect for that which was broken and could not stand.

They were teaching. They were not teaching what was right.

Have we sold out the message for the sake of the people and in so doing lost the people too?

I fear so.

The Scriptures are not rough on sinners. Sinners find great mercy offered from Father. Jesus was always merciful and compassionate, firm at times, but compassionate with the sinner. God offered warning to the sinner to come for mercy and repent.

Jesus was brutal on those who claimed to know God. See Matthew 23. See Jeremiah, Isaiah etc.

So, I feel that it's O.K. to be harsh on my own kind. Those who claim to know God and represent him to his people.

The problem I keep running in to is that people want pragmatic steps to solving their problems that have been created via their folly.

Many of the people are finding that in preachers.

This is not to say that the pragmatic is not good. It is if it is right. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that practical solutions come from the assurance we have in knowing God. So, pragmatism's place is found resulting from knowing God.

The question becomes: Are pastors knowing God and making him known and allowing their pragmatic "how to" messages to result from knowing God and making him known? I'm not sure this is the case.

I find very few men who are doing this. Driscoll, Chandler, Piper, Carson, Keller to name a few. There are a few in Rome. Not many.

What is marriage's purpose? Why do we marry people? What is our marriage policy as pastors? This is just one issue that seems to reflect that we do not know God as a group of teachers of what God says. We seem to favor the people not God. God's standard is so high that people and pastors bristle at what is right.

We have allowed pragmatism to replace knowing God. We have allowed the fear of people to replace the fear of God.

We should be knowing God and allowing our practical ministry to flow from that. That alone would repair some of our issues in the life of the home if we would teach God's standard, hold to it, enforce it, discipline because of it and withstand the criticism for it.

By the way if you don't know what marriage is for, ask your pastor and see if it matches the text. If you don't know the text(s) then begin in Genesis and read to Revelation and mark them and see if the pastor's answer matches up.

"The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."

My main function is to testify to Jesus in all that he is, says and is doing today. If I do this I can then address the issues with proper and practical solutions that are based in truth. The question is will I and the church do the practical that results from truth. There is a cost.

If anyone claims to teach or prophecy and Jesus' words, deeds or actions are not represented, then tune them out and find something else.

Is the testimony of Jesus what I do? Do my words as a teacher and my actions as a follower of Christ project the testimony of Jesus? If so I'm a prophet that is doing his job, a teacher fulfilling his mission. If not, I must repent.

Examining myself and my kind,


Monday, June 29, 2009

The indicative comes before the imperative and the order is not reversable

Again, as footnoted in my notes, I want to credit the author for the title of this blog and the notes from Sunday. Bryan Chapell is the author and I'm thankful for his insight that has helped me and allowed me to teach others as he has taught me from his writing.

What follows are some thoughts from what I said Sunday regarding the Scriptures reflecting Christ's person and work. We determined that when we see the pattern of Father stating the indicative that is the basis for the imperative we have the framework to handle grace and holiness.

That's what I want to write about just a bit.

I have been continuing to marinate on that statement since I wrote it down last week and only now has it produced something worth mentioning.

It's hard for most of us in the South to properly handle grace and holiness without becoming antinomian or a legalist. Our pendulum tends to swing far in the opposite direction of our raising.

The Scriptures are what bring balance to that swing in the other direction and must continue to hold us in the divine center on this issue.

If I were a legalist before I discovered the grace of freedom in Christ from a law, then I might become a drunk or glutton.

If I were antinomian in my behavior in the abuse of freedom before I discovered the grace of imitating God, then I might turn into a suit wearing, KJV swinging spiritual beat down waiting to happen on some poor unsuspecting soul.

What has to go is the misconception of grace and holiness being at odds. The Scriptures do this for us. We just truly have to become people of the book and not pretend people of the book making up our own stuff as we go to suit the notion of the day.

I am a child of God. I have been bought at a price. I am free to enjoy all things to the glory of God. Therefore, I must imitate the God who I am a child of, who purchased me and made all things to enjoy.

There seems to be tension there, and perhaps there is, but it's a holy tension. It's good and to be wrestled with.

Paul says things like..."all things are free for me but not all things are beneficial (loose quotation)."

He says things like..."I will not be mastered by anything (again a loose quotation)."

Paul enjoys the grace of being set free while imitating the holy character of God.

What is that tension we feel?

Paul makes much of the conscience, informed by the Holy Spirit, being how we determine what we as individuals do or do not do. He teaches this in the context of community and considering the other while not hindering freedom.

This is the tension of knowing God as his child, enjoying him, being family with others who are likewise children, and allowing them the freedom to be who Father wants them to be without looking down on them or reviling Father for allowing them to do something we think not quite right.

We are children. We are to act holy as Father is holy, but not according to law, but Holy Spirit conscience. We have to do this in community with others. We have to wrestle with the tension of being different from our other family members and being ok with it.

All of this because the indicative comes before the imperative and we can't reverse the order. We are children who are called to imitate Father and let each other imitate Father as they are compelled by Father.

Adopted and trying to imitate Dad, though not like everyone else.

Wrestle with me...


Friday, June 26, 2009

From Whom Will the Kingdom Come?

With all of the mess surrounding the South Carolina Governor and his adultery with the lady from Argentina some of us more conservative folks politically might have a tendency to fret. However, we must remember something vital: The Kingdom of righteousness does not come via kings, queens, rulers or authorities of the nations of the earth. That has never been God's plan and it never will.

The error has been in thinking that if we elect social conservatives to office God will bless us. Well, I think God can and certainly will bless those who do right if that blessing will be used to make his name known on the earth, but God is certainly not bound to bless a nation simply because they do something that happens to be righteous.

The next error has been in thinking that if a political party touts itself as "conservative" they are going to rally behind our values. That has been shown to be completely and utterly false. Example: the South Carolina Governor who was supposed to be a champion for our values. Hogwash!

Part of the Old Testament's job is to prepare us for the coming of Jesus who will bring the reign of God on the earth. When we look at the failed kings of Israel and Judah we are intended to look to one who will not fail morally, spiritually and doctrinally. We are to ask: who and when? We are to see and understand: Jesus! Prophet, priest and king.

The kingdom of God and Christ is advancing forcefully and will one day triumph at the completion of the Great Commission when King Jesus will return and rule forever the nations in peace and righteousness and we will have complete access to knowing him.

That is NOT going to happen via Republicans or Democrats. It IS going to happen through preaching the gospel to every tribe, tongue and nation. There is one God and he is Jesus. There is one kingdom, and it is God's kingdom.

We want our country to do well because we live here and have so much invested in here. We are to pray for and seek the peace and prosperity of our land because that peace and prosperity is used in the advancement of the cause.

But this is NOT our home country. Our home country is the Kingdom of God that is visible and yet invisible. Our allegiance lies to Jesus first.

Who will bring the kingdom we so desperately want to see? It will be Jesus.

So, do the best with what we have here, but do not lean on it or be down cast when it fails. Our system and political parties are bound to fail. Jesus is coming.

Lift up your head church for our redemption draws near!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Q & A What happens to children or infants who die?

This is a very difficult question that makes me nervous. It makes me nervous because the biblical text does give a direct answer to this question. The inquirer must apply their knowledge of God from the whole of the Scriptures to even begin approaching this subject. One must also take into account pastoral care. I will give you my conclusion is a simple statement and send you to an article that has helped me and continues to help me when I'm faced with this question.

One of my heros in the faith is a man named John Piper. I began reading Piper in college at the suggestion of a friend who Father graciously used to rescue me from the damning results of post-enlightenment liberal theology that was wrecking the fragile faith that had been birthed in me. Piper's obvious scholarly and intelligent yet pastoral and rock solid biblical method brought new life and bolstered my wavering faith. Therefore, I have found him to be a source for many of my own questions that I can't quite get satisfied with.

I will be the first to admit that my position, taken from Piper's, is probably not the strongest there is exegetically. However, I find evidence in the text to support this conclusion and find no evidence to deny it and it applies pastorally. Here it is: I believe that Father, in Christ saves all infants who die.

Now, are you curious as to how I got there? Good! Go read this article:

Remember that you must read well the biblical text, apply your knowledge of God and keep in mind pastoral application in ministering to God's people. Read, wrestle and rest that we have striven with God and he has blessed us in that!

Soli Deo Gloria!