John MacArthur on the Potential Perils of Social Media

John MacArthur never wavers from examining current issues and offering a perspective informed by his lifelong study and pastoral concern, and social media’s popularity is one of the biggest. This article from his blog presents some thoughts worth considering. While not condemning, it is a cautionary note we should consider, especially our younger Christian brothers and sisters.

Click here.

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Published in: on November 12, 2010 at 9:10 am  Leave a Comment  

Jesus and Homosexuality

The following link will take you to a paper published on the Village Church website, that is an excellent rebuttal of the idea that, since Jesus never taught about homosexuality, it was not an issue of concern. I recommend it to you.

Click here to go to the article.

Published in: on October 26, 2010 at 3:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Why A Pastor and Church Burning the Quran is a Sin

On my other blog, I have a post on my take concerining the plans of a pastor and church to burn Qurans on September 11th.  You can visit and see what I think, although the title probably gives it away.

The CyberParsonage: Why A Pastor and Church Burning the Quran is a Sin.

By the way, the reason I have maintained 2 blogs is that there are some times when I have opinions or views I would like to write about but am not sure it would be best to do so speaking as a pastor here at Grace.  Maybe that is a silly distinction, but I try to keep my opinions on economic, political, or societal issues on the personal blog, while addressing church related issues here.  If you have any opinion as to the wisdom of this, I’d be glad to hear it.  I do have trouble even keeping up with one blog, let alone two!

Published in: on September 8, 2010 at 10:31 am  Leave a Comment  

Parchment and Pen » Beware of “Professional Weaker Brethren”

This is an excellent article on the subject of what constitutes “weakness” and when it is a front for seeking to bend others to our own will instead of the Scripture.  I’ve preached on this before, but this says it well.  Enjoy by clicking on the link below:

Parchment and Pen » Beware of “Professional Weaker Brethren”.

Published in: on September 1, 2010 at 11:43 am  Leave a Comment  

Follow Up on “The Shack” Discussion

Thanks to all those who came. The post below has the link to the interview with William Paul Young.

This page contains the literary review by Julie Moore.

Tim Challies’ 17 page pdf file critiquing the book is here.

I hope you are reading, and doing so with discernment.

Published in: on March 17, 2009 at 1:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Praying As Jesus Said To Pray

Last week, I spoke to the Sunday evening gathering about prayer, and specifically how we are to pray as instructed by Jesus in Luke 11.  There, in answer to his disciples’ request to teach them how to pray, he replied “Whenever you pray, say this…” and gave them a version of what is often called “the Lord’s Prayer.”  One point we considered was that the words of instruction are in a form that indicate that we would regularly use this model, and that it would often even be these very words.  As averse as we Baptists are to recitation, it has been the practice of the church for centuries to do so, and to do it together.  So, one aspect of our praying that may need to change is a more frequent use of both public recitation and use of this form itself.

Second, the five basic elements of the prayer provide us with a comprehensive approach to our praying.

Father… this tells us we are addressing ourselves to God in relationship with us.  It is an invitation into familial intimacy.

…hallowed be your name.  We are to offer praise, and seek that God’s name would be praised and lifted up in the eyes and hearts of all people everywhere, and especially among us as believers.

Your kingdom come.  We acknowledge that God is the sovereign of our lives and of this universe, and our greatest desire is that his control and rule and authority be both recognized and revealed.  That is something that will happen in its fullness at the end of the age, but it certainly is underway now, ever since the incarnation, death, resurrection, ascension, and enthronement of Jesus in Heaven now.  We are citizens of that kingdom, and whenever the Spirit’s power is at work in and through the Church, the kingdom is at work and advancing.

Give us each day our daily bread.  We are asking God for what we need daily.  Note that it is a plural command (in fact, the whole prayer is collective, indicating that we pray not just for ourselves and by ourselves, but for each other and with each other).  All of our intercession for others rests under our faith in and seeking of God’s daily provisions.

And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.  Ah, here is the heart that is so crucial to right living–the heart of forgiveness.  We continually acknowledge that we need God’s forgiveness, and we also confess that as we realize how much we need it, we are ready to release any bitterness or grudge or debt we have or hold against anyone else.

And lead us not into temptation.  This is our prayer for protective guidance.  We know how easily we can be swayed and led astray from the will of our good God, and we ask that he would protect us from that deception of the flesh and trickery of the world and Satan. 

It is such a short, succinct prayer/outline.  May I challenge you to join me in praying through it every day?

Published in: on March 3, 2009 at 1:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hearing God’s Voice

Language can be a tricky thing, especially for Christians.  One prime example is when we talk about hearing God speak.  I think I could say without fear of contradiction that true Christians want to know that we have heard God speak to us.  Don’t you?  I know that I do.  My own understanding of Scripture indicates that God has and does at times reveal things to people.  He just does.  It’s not new Scripture, and it’s not for everyone in all times.  But it can happen.

Yet you and I know that it doesn’t happen all that often.  Most of us don’t have a daily, two-way, audible conversation with the Lord.  Most of us want it, though. 

Try this thought exercise.  What if I could say to you, “Tomorrow when you wake up, I want you to get up and pray for 5 minutes, and then just wait and you will hear the voice of God.  He will speak to you.”  Would you do it?  My guess is that you would be up, praying, and listening.

Well, I can say this to you, and it will happen.  Only, it will not be an audible voice, and it will happen if you will read the Bible after you pray.  You see, God is not silent, he has been speaking for thousands of years in words you can read, and his Spirit will empower to communicate his truth to you.  If you do not believe this, then you do not believe in its fullness 2 Tim. 3:16-17.  Scripture is God “breathing out” words that will make you adequate for every task you face.  Yes, there may be moments where he uses other means to speak to us, but none of them is more important or supersedes the Scriptures.

Any takers?

Published in: on December 2, 2008 at 10:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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Give Up or Get Going?

The last few weeks’ sermons from Mark 8 and 9 have been pretty intense in their applications.  After all, Jesus was confronting head on the mistaken assumptions his disciples made about the kind of Messiah he was, the kind of kingdom they would experience, and the path they would have to choose–“…deny [your]self, take up [your] cross, and follow me.”  As we considered together last week the ramifications of this call to our own lives, the “disconnect” that exists between the average Christian life and what Jesus expects became both clear and disturbing for many of us.  Afterwards, a number of people, young and old, remarked that it can be discouraging to think deeply about how we fail to deny our own ambitions, die to ourselves, and follow Jesus. 

I took a few moments on Sunday night to follow up on this, and I wanted to repeat it for those who might not have been there, so here goes…

Listening to Jesus’ call and realizing we are not there can lead to one of two responses.  The first is to give up, but frankly that is the path of unbelief.  Shrinking back from following undermines our assurance and may testify to lack of true faith.

The second is the path Paul takes.  Now, in my mind there is no one more qualified to say, “I have denied my own ambitions, died to self, and followed the path of suffering that Jesus walked,” than Paul was.  By the time he writes Philippians, he is is jail for preaching the gospel.  He testifies, in ch. 3, that he has, in fact, followed this path, counting everything he once valued as nothing to gain Christ.  But he goes on to say that he hasn’t mastered this–he doesn’t consider himself “perfect” or complete in this.  Instead, he lets go of the  past, and presses on to better following after God’s call upward and onward.

If Paul could feel that he hadn’t gotten it all right yet, but had to keep pressing on, then I have hope and encouragement that this should be my response.  I cannot wallow in regret, nor should I revel in past victories.  Instead I need to keep pressing on.  The measure of my faithfulness is always taken in the present.  The same is true for all of us.

Let’s make sure not to give up.  Let’s think deeply about where our lives are not being lived on the threefold path described at the end of Mark 8.  And then let’s call upon God’s Spirit to enable us to change–one aspect or area at a time perhaps–so that we prove to be true followers of Jesus.

Published in: on October 15, 2008 at 10:38 am  Leave a Comment  
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John Calvin’s Birthday

Today is the birthday of the Great Reformer, John Calvin.  I was reminded by a few sources of this, but the reminder that was most humbling for me as a pastor was this recounting of the preaching ministry of this giant of the faith.

And so we trace him preaching on Sundays with one hundred and eighty-nine sermons on the Acts between 1549 and 1554, a shorter series on some of the Pauline letters between 1554 and 1558, and the sixty-five on the Harmony of the Gospels between 1559 and 1564. During this time the weekdays saw series on Jeremiah and Lamentations (up to 1550), on the Minor Prophets and Daniel (1550-2), the one hundred and seventy-four on Ezekiel (1552-4), the one hundred and fifty-nine on Job (1554-5), the two hundred on Deuteronomy (1555-6), the three hundred and forty-two on Isaiah (1556-9), then one hundred twenty-three on Genesis (1559-61), a short set on Judges (1561), one hundred and seven on 1 Samuel and eighty-seven on 2 Samuel (1561-3) and a set on 1 Kings (1563-4).   (From John Calvin: A Biography, by T. H. L. Parker, 1975.  HT, Desiring God Blog)

I challenge any preaching pastor to read that and then think he has too much to prepare!

Published in: on July 10, 2008 at 1:55 pm  Comments (1)  

Should Christians Sue Christian Organizations?

Many of us were informed recently that a former professor at Cedarville is suing the University over his termination.  He has also named at least one individual in the lawsuit as well, a university employee.  The situation surrounding the termination has been one filled with controversy for over a year, and has been the subject of news reports, blogs, etc.

[This follows the actions of a Wheaton College tenured professor, who quit rather than share the reasons for his divorce from his wife with the school’s authorities, as their community standards covenant would require.  He has gone to the media to air his grievances and is questioning the ethics and legality of such inquiries, giving Wheaton a sharp public rebuke in the process.  People are wondering if legal action will follow.] 

I will not comment on the termination’s merits or procedure.  As a teaching moment, however, let me take this sad occasion to remind all of our flock here at Grace that it is never appropriate for Christians to sue fellow Christians.  Further, I believe it would be a “legal fiction” to try and say that suing a Christian-owned non-profit corporation is allowable because it is a corporation, not an individual.

The most pertinent scripture to guide us is found in 1 Corinthians 6:1-11, where Paul rebukes believers for taking their grievances before “the unrighteous” rather than believers.  He says that this action brings shame on those who pursue it.  He says that Christians should be able to solve their disagreements within the Christian community–the church.  I know that this would be the local church initially, but what if the problem affects more than a local congregation?  The pattern of the council of Jerusalem might suggest that in such a dispute a number of affected and concerned churches or a group of neutral believers could be called together, to function in some ways as the council in Acts 15 did–weighing issues and offering a solution.  

To my knowledge, the Bible-believing churches or associations that have been directly or indirectly affected have not been asked to mediate in this situation, and I am unaware if any of the national Christian reconciliation ministries have been consulted either.  These would be means available to uphold the spirit and letter of our text in the present difficulty.

Further, Paul tells the Corinthians that it would be better to be wronged than to take brothers and sisters to court to get one’s rights.   Our belief that God is in control of all things, including evil done to us (see Genesis 50:20) allows us to suffer wrong as our Lord modeled while entrusting ourselves to the care of a loving and sovereign God.  While I recognize that when sued we may be required to defend ourselves, the Scriptures do not justify taking legal action against a brother.

What about the issue of suing Christian owned and operated corporations?  The text still applies, since the corporation is, in fact, a collection of Christians in its governors, its employees, and its constiuents–all of whom are negatively impacted by the action.  This really becomes a distinction without a difference.  If the courts render a punitive judgment against a Christian corporation, it is the Christians who own it, who work for it, and who make use of it that will suffer the consequences.  So the person suing winds up injuring lots of people, not just one or two. 

This is a sad case, and not one where, as I have said before, fault and wrong rests only on one side.  However, biblical principles must govern the actions of Christians, even when those principles mean that we will suffer a wrong done by another Christian that is unjust, unfair, and would certainly be overturned by a court if we sued.  We should seek reconciliation, mediation, and if agreeable, arbitration by believers.  We should submit ourselves, individually or corporately, to such avenues if we are wronged or someone believes we have wronged them.  If that is not available to us, however, we stand close to our Savior, who experienced far worse and sets the example for us.  We should never give those in the world the excuse that believers can’t really live out the call of the gospel as a reason to mock our Lord or His teaching. 

Let’s pray that this particular matter can be resolved biblically, outside of the legal system, to glory of the Savior who grieves over wrongs done to any of His children in any situation.

Published in: on July 7, 2008 at 3:29 pm  Comments (3)