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Anthony Flew’s Testimony

For those of you that think the most decided person against the Gospel could ever come to Christ. Flew was an avowed atheist – he wrote on the subject and debated those who believed in God. Thank God that he shames the wise and exalts the foolish.

Anthony Flew’s Testimony

HT: Primetime Jesus

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Redemption Accomplished & Applied

Many are familiar with the story of Hosea. A prophet of God is told to marry a woman of ill repute. They have a few kids and then she runs off and sleeps with another man. Hosea’s life is an incarnate parable of of God’s relationship with Israel. He had redeemed her out of pagan lands (Abraham was a star-worshipper, Neh 9.7) and had broken her chains of slavery to the Egyptians. Once things seemed to be secure, Israel begins to commit adultery with the neighboring people’s religion. She began to sleep with Ba’al.

Many would have us believe that when God redeems people from their slavery and whoredom with sin that he woos (or lovingly encourages us) to come to him. This is not the story of Hosea – and by extension, the story of Christian redemption.

Hosea goes to his adulterous wife and does not woo her. He goes and buys her back (Hos 3.2). He tells her, “You must dwell with me…You must not play the whore” (v.3). Hosea does not have a conference with her. He does not ask her to write down the positives and negatives of such a decision as to whether she will return with him. His commands to her stem from his having purchased her. Because he effectively owns her, he is then able to make demands on her.

So it is with the purchasing done for us on the Cross. Jesus does not woo us. He purchased us – not with silver or gold, but with his infinite blood (1 Peter 1.18-19). And so, those sheep who belong to him must dwell with him.

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The Flame of Revival

Friend, Dr. Michael Haykin, responded to the question “What can we learn from Christian Fundamentalists” in the most recent 9Marks e-journal. I found his answer balanced and very helpful. For so many of us that value truth, it is easy to think that right doctrine will lead to a Third Great Awakening. However, the truth is that our doctrine must be lit on fire by the Holy Spirit. Only then will people see that which we preach as being true objectively and subjectively.

After saying that we can learn how to be resolute in our convictions of truth and in our desire to be holy, Haykin finished with this:

Yet, as Fundamentalism pursued these passions, all too frequently it found itself getting sidelined in debates about tertiary issues and becoming a movement that fostered schism rather than reformation. At times it seemed to forget that theological orthodoxy in and by itself cannot revitalize Christian communities: the coals of orthodoxy are vital, but there must be the life-giving flame of the Spirit as well.

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Nice Type of Boaz

“Boaz is the type of the bridegroom who marries Ruth in order to raise up a seed for the old and widowed Naomi. James Jordan says Ruth is a substitute bride, because the firstborn seed is her seed, and leads to the redeemer that comes into the world. Typologically: The Bridegroom marries the Moabitess, the Gentile widow, but he does it in order to give a seed to the Israelite widow. All Israel is saved through the marriage of Gentiles with the redeemer.” Peter Leithart

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Baucham and Youth Ministry

“Paradigm Shift, Not Program Shift: An Interview with Voddie Baucham”

Gary Shavey inteviews Baucham, who discusses his book Family Driven Faith.

In his book Baucham calls families to recapture the vision Scripture presents for the family. So much of evangelicalism has bought into the notion that programs are the primary means by which disciples of Christ are made. God has instituted the family to be the primary means by which discipleship happens and sticks.

In this interview, Baucham sees three things wrong with typical youth minstries:

1) It’s not scriptural. It is not biblical to separate people based upon age. It is based on the government education system.
2) Actually works against biblical model of family discipleship.
3) It doesn’t work. Since the advent (late 60’s, early 70’s). Our youth baptism and retention rate has steadily declined.

“Youth ministry is one of the symptoms of the problem.” That problem is that we have left ministry in the hands of the paid ministers and forgotten our call as soul care-takers of our children.

The role we have adopted has actually usurped the role of families; it has crippled the role of families. Baucham says that we have created a “spiritual welfare system” where the parents are told to stay out. Thus, when a youth worker tries to “do their job,” they find that they can’t because the parents have not been training their children at home.

What are your thoughts about youth ministry? I have friends who are youth ministers, how should this inform the way they/you do ministry to youths?

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New Social Wholeness

The church is then not simply the bearer of the message of reconciliation, in the way a newspaper or a telephone company can bear any message with which it is entrusted. Nor is the church simply the result of a message, as an alumni association is the product of a school or the crowd in the theater is the product of the reputation of the film. That men are called together to a new social wholeness is itself the work of God which gives meaning to history, from which both personal conversion (whereby individuals are called into this meaning) and missionary instrumentalities are derived (John Howard Yoder, “A People in the World: Theological Interpretation,” in James L. Garrett, Jr., The Concept of the Believers’ Church (Scottdale, PA: Herald, 1969) 258.

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Commenting

Sometimes I get asked why I haven’t posted in a while…I am flattered that people are actually reading the verbiage I’m putting out.

Here’s my typical answers (depending on the day and the mood):

1) I am overworked in school and work and hadn’t time to write
2) I don’t have anything percolating in my brain that would be noteworthy to write about (equivalent to dry bed syndrome in the stream of consciousness…possibly related to #1)
3) There is way too much stuff to write about. Sometimes it is like eating a basketball. I want to write things that are helpful and I want to write clearly. Sometimes this clarity and topic are not readily available in the sorting process.
4) I am responding to “Comments“. I started a blog to share my thoughts, but also to have my thoughts sharpened and begin and sustain dialogue with those who agree and disagree with my positions. So I try to spend a considerable amount of thought with Comments that ask questions and seek clarity in my positions.

Thus, I want to encourage my readers to scroll through my last posts and read some of the Comments [particularly this one, and this one , and this one

I have loved the interaction I have received and would like to encourage people to comment at will. I am contemplating taking the function off that requires you to get a Blogger account (although you don’t have to have a blog). I put that function on there because I was getting acne and impotence advertisements. In any case, I might be willing to take that risk if my readers know they will be on there as well as if it fosters more dialogue…

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Party Foul in the Coffee Shop

Okay…I’m sitting in a coffee shop and trying to read ‘til my eyes bleed just to keep up with all the work I have for my classes. Well, I am really getting into a section in my book and a horrendous odor creeps into my nostrils. At first I bend down to see if I did anything…not me. What in the world is that? I look around and a girl has got her shoes off and is sitting in a couch behind me without a clue that her feet are distracting everyone around her. How do I know…the person next to me mimics what I do and leaves.

Anyway, if you’re worrying that I might blow the horn on your feet…just wash them and don’t distract others. As for me, I apologize to those in my OT Theology class who had to smell my feet last week. Until today, I thought I was the only one who would smell my feet. Kind of like a kid playing hide and seek and thinks the world can’t see them because they have their eyes covered.

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Emotive Religion

For although to true religion there must indeed be something else besides affection; yet true religion consists so much in the affections, that there can be no true religion without them…As on the one hand, there must be light in the understanding, as well as an affected fervent heart; or where there is heat without light there can be nothing divine or heavenly in that heart: so, on the other hand, where there is a kind of light without heat, a head stored with notions and speculations with a cold and unaffected heart, there can be nothing divine in that light, that knowledge is no true spiritual knowledge of divine things (original italics; Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Hendrickson, p 243).

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Fluffy Faith

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 17.6).

The yoga teacher sits in a lotus position atop a polished wooden platform. Behind her, verdant woods are visible through panoramic windows. Gentle music tinkles from overhead speakers. Two dozen students in spandex outfits, most of them women, settle onto purple and blue mats to begin the class with ujjayi, a breathing exercise. Their instructor, Cindy Senarighi, recommends today’s mantra. ” ‘Yahweh’ is a great breath prayer,” she says. ” The Jesus Prayer also works. Now lift your arms in praise to the Lord“ (Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, “Stretching for Jesus”, Time, September 5, 2005).

Does this bother you at all, Christian? There is a growing trend of Christian yoga. It is not the problem but merely a symptom of the problem. Christians are learning how to avoid and be devoid of convictions. They are able to listen to Hindu chants to Sheva without feeling queazy and then pray to Jesus. Some reading this may even be thinking that I am being ridiculous to question Christian yoga.

What they might find interesting is that even a Hindu professor of yoga philosophy (Subhas Tiwari) thought it absurd to claim there is such a thing as Christian yoga…for he says, “Yoga is Hinduism.”

The issue we are seeing more and more in the church is the downgrading of theology and doctrine and the exaltation of personal experience of God – as if he is some nebulous aura to be tapped into for spiritual nirvana. Not only this, but how many times do we here in small group Bible studies the kind of fluff a Buddhist mystic would tout? I felt God moving through my body leading me to this place etc.

I do not want to diminish the need for personal experience…I want to guard against a cotton-candy-like faith that is sweet on the tongue but as a meal will rot your teeth and leave you hungry. Why will we go to broken faiths that hold no water when we have the Christ? Answer: because we do not know what and who we have!

What is needed now is a robust, rock-solid faith that stands in the face of hypocrisy and tenderly chides hollow worship. What we need are Christians who know what the Bible says…who know that Jesus commanded more than superficial love of people. What he commanded is that we obey all that he commanded. This will require more than a syncretism of faiths. It requires knowing doctrine that is solid and meaty. It requires a diligence and a pursuit of truth that no other faith and practice can offer.

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Be Careful How You Serve

With many new opportunities here in the US of ways that people can give of their time and resources to the hurricane victims in New Orleans it is important for us to pause and think about the assistance that is given. We live in a country of enormous wealth where there can be two television fund-raising specials and millions of dollars raised to buy supplies and such for folks. This is a marvelous thing.

However, I pray that we are not blind-spotted to the fact that there are many more people all over the world in need of such assistance.

When we give for such causes we need to think of the big picture – What do I want to accomplish by giving this money? The answer should not merely be to feed someone. It should be to give God glory by meeting the needs of people. If we merely feed people and do not share the saving news of the Gospel then we are only putting a band-aid on fatal wound. Yes, we should meet physical needs, there is no doubt. But to merely do this is to deny the fact that the most pressing need in people’s lives is to taste of the Bread of Life.

For a great article on this Andrew Myers has some provoking thoughts.

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Five Distinguishing Marks

During the First Great Awakening many people rebuked the preachers by saying that it was a work of Satan. They cited 2 Cor 11.14 which says that even Satan can appear to be a minister of light. That is, even ministers can be workers of evil – looking like a shepherd, but being a slaughterer.

The same can be said about individuals who claim they are Christians…they can appear to be of the light, but they are children of the devil (1 Jn 3.10).

Although Jonathan Edwards wrote his Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God to respond to the critics of the First Great Awakening at large, I believe the five marks can be used to distinguish a work of the Spirit of God in the individual as well.

I will just list them:

1. Raises people’s esteem of Jesus (1 Jn. 4:7)
        • embrace why God has done things the way he has
        • confessing Jesus is vital to this esteem
2. Operates against the interests of Satan’s kingdom
        • 1 Jn 4:4
        • redirects men away from sin (which is Satan’s purpose for men)
3. Establishes in men a greater regard for holy Scripture
        • 4:6
        • it certainly must be from God if men heed the Word of God more
        • the devil would never want people to regard the Word of God because it glorifies God and sanctifies men
        • Lk 16:29
        • Satan hates the Word of God
4. Leads people to the truth
        • verse 6b: “spirit of truth and the spirit of error”
        • There are spirits that mimic God’s spirit but are false. A spirit of God confirms biblical truth: Hell is real, men need a Savior, Jesus is God
        • Leads you to embrace doctrines that are pervasive in Scripture.
5. Operates with spirit of love toward God and man
        • Verse 7, 12-13

If the fruit that is manifest in someone’s life looks like the marks above, more than likely his heart has been worked on by God. Edwards’ book is a detailed study of 1 Jn 4. As more and more people claim they are Christians (without any way to distinguish them from the world) it is important for ministers and the congregant to discern whether he is, in fact, a Christian – and to be able to counsel friends and family who speak with their lips but deny Christ with their loves.

[[These observations are taken from Dr. Thomas Nettles’ class on Jonathan Edwards]]

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He Loves Other Christians {Entry 6}

This is the second to last post on this topic. Tomorrow I will write about Jonathan Edwards’ Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God.

In light of all that I have said regarding the characteristics of the believer, this last one might be the easiest to identify and the hardest to practice. We live in a culture that exalts a nebulous spirituality that has its head in the stars and its hands clean from isolated prayer. The Bible paints a different picture for what true spirituality is.

I was talking with the lady I work for today about this very topic. She made the observation that many people say they are Christian, but do not seem to be any different than the world. This is in part why I began this series. The name “Christian” has become a very hollow term. It can mean religious person, or antinomian who is ruled by what feels right. or regular church service attender…but these are all far from what the Bible identifies as a Christian. I know so many people who say they are Christian, but there is absolutely no conviction in their life for what that may mean. They don’t read the Bible, they don’t pray, they don’t pursue God, and they don’t love other Christians. In fact, they despise them.

The Church is not without her blemishes. But it is these very imperfections that attest to the beauty of grace. The Church is full of ugly people…but they seem to be gorgeous because of the transforming work of grace in their lives. Instead of pursuing selfish desires and making themselves look good, they bend over and wash other people’s stinky feet. Not to make themselves look righteous, but because they love the people of God.

Notice the previous post: The Christian Obeys. He obeys from a gratitudinous heart, not begrudgingly.

Look at these verses:

• John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
• John 15:12   ”This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
• John 15:17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
• Rom. 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
• 1Th. 4:9   Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another,
• 1Pet. 1:22   Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,
• 1John 3:11   For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
• 1John 3:23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.
• 1John 4:7   Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
• 1John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
• 2John 5 And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another.

Especially the connection between Jesus new commandment and John’s definition of a Christian in 1 Jn 4.7, 11. We do not live in a bubble and should not pursue such kind of hermitage. Instead, we should pursue love and seek out new ways to serve the brethren. What a sad estate that the Christian prizes solitude as the highest virtue when true and undefiled religion is to care for the brethren (James 1.22-27).

The question remains for the recluse…How are you fulfilling Christ’s new command when you do not pursue love of the brethren? You can’t blame it on your introvertedness. You better find a way to pursue Christ in your active loving of the brethren. I say active because what is love if it does not take on flesh…it must be hate. How can you say you love the brethren and don’t take care of the physical needs? You cannot (James 2).

In fact, look at Jn 15.17 a little closer. The commandments serve to the higher end of loving one another. “These things I command you in order that you will love each other.” The commandments Jesus speaks to us should end in loving acts for the brethren. These loving acts serve to the greatest end of bringing glory to God (Jn 15.8). When we obey God and bear fruit that lasts it brings God glory. Therefore, we do not love to win favor with people. We do not serve to receive something from that person. We obey as God’s children from an overflowing heart so that God will receive glory from our acts and the love that overflows from the one receiving.

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He Obeys {Entry 5}

This is the fifth post for my short series on what a Christian is…I will bring it all to a conclusion next week. I will also be posting some thoughts by Jonathan Edwards on the Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God. Although it was written specifically for the church at large regarding the Great Awakening that started in 1734, I believe it also relates to how we view conversion and the spiritual lives of those we minister with.

Okay. A Christian is one who obeys. You can see that the growing culture around us is anti-authority. Why is it so cool to talk evil of the president? I may not agree with things he says, but why should I pursue speaking ill of him? Why do kids think it is cool to back talk their parents or make fun of the elderly? Why are you called a prude if you don’t want to have sex with everyone in the world? Why is it that vice is the only virtue that is deemed valuable?

When a culture is not marked by the desire to know God, then it will be marked by disobedience – not only to his revealed will in the Bible, but also manifest against the authority he has placed over us in the government, law enforcement, etc.

I do not want to make a 1:1 correlation between law of the state and God’s Law. I merely want to draw attention to the fact that disobedience to the Law of God is characterized by an increasingly powerful witness to anti-authority pursuits.

Biblically: Why does the Christian try to obey the Law of God? Rehearse the last 3 and 1/2 posts regarding the characteristics of a Christian: 1) He is humble, because he knows that his salvation is not dependent on him; 2) He delights in the things of God because 3) He delights in God. The Bible is very explicit in what it teaches about those things that distinguish the Christian from the non-Christian.

Rom. 6:16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed…Rom. 15:18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed.

Col. 3:20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord [it pleases the Lord because he has set parents over children as his authority and guidance in their lives…even more, it is an exhortation to the child of God…that he obey God from the heart, see 1 Peter 1.14].

Heb. 13:17   Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. [The Christian knows that God is not distinct from the authority figures in politics and law enforcement. The unbeliever seeks to oust them when possible because he is ultimately rebellious against God.]

This idea of obedience was the concept from the beginning:
Gen. 49:10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
        nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
        until tribute comes to him;
        and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

God does not seek to merely save people, but that they bow their knees to him in humble submission from a heart of gratitudinous joy.

Finally:
17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and iif it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
[implication: those of the household of God obey, those preparing to be condemned are disobedient]

Application:
1) Repent for any and all disobedience to God and his authorities
2) Pursue opportunities to obey the Word of God
3) Understand that obedience flows from a heart of joy and gratitude for all God has done and will do for you
4) Pray that you will be convinced that you are not your own, but you were bought by the price of Christ’s blood (1 Cor 6.19)
5) Therefore, you are a happy slave to God – or you should delight to obey his Word

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Amendment…

First of all, I was duly corrected by a friend who reads my blog. The fotos I was told are Katrina are actually of many different places. Go here and read about it.

As for the exams, I was very blessed. I was able to worship as I took them, rather than merely reciting information. I see that Self-Running Comments Day was a flop. That’s okay. I know people are shy.

Anyway, I hope to post tomorrow on Obedience being one of the defining characteristics of the Christian. Stay tuned.

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