Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The Draconians Are Coming!!!

Today, Google disabled my account with them. No warning. No reason. No personal contact. Just a form letter that stated I had "violated" their terms of service. What the heck did I do? I have no idea what I did wrong. We shall see if they respond to my query regarding this matter, or if they simply could care less what this little voice has to say. We shall see. Beware. The Draconians are watching.

Friday, April 29, 2011

My First Parable

A certain Reformed pastor went up to the church to pray.

As he crossed the lawn, he happened to glance at the Foursquare church across the street and the carwash they were having to sponsor junior high camp.

"That's not a very good use of their time," he thought as he made his way into the chapel where he was going to meet with God. He began to pray and said, "Father, I thank you that I am not like these Foursquare people and that I believe in the cessation of spiritual gifts. I am so glad that I am a 5 point Calvinist and that I hold strictly to the Lord's Day and the Regulative Principle. I'm about to finish my third book on the Doctrines of Grace and I conduct family worship regularly. In fact, I even home school my children! Thank you, Lord!"

The junior high leader across the street was praying as well and said, "Lord, you know where these kids are at...all 250 of them. I want you to work in their lives and to make them christians. Only you can do this. Please help them."

Which one of these men understands the idea that God changes people and that it is He that is at work to save sinners?

Which one of these men are you?

Recent themes of thought bouncing around in my pea-brain.

1) The need for biblical ecumenicity (if that is the correct word). That is, the need to be open to being friends with others who call themselves Christians who don't believe exactly as I do about the peripheral issues but agree with me on the core tenets of Christianity.

2) The error of being excessively polemical from the pulpit, as if it was our duty to find out and destroy every heresy that raises it's head to oppose the true gospel. I see this as an error of inexperienced preachers.

3) My personal need to believe that I must speak up for the gospel and believe that when I speak, Jesus has promised that "rivers of living water" will flow out from me to influence the unbeliever. Factored into this is the thought that I MUST attend a church that has an outward, missional focus, not one that has "raised the drawbridge" and is putting out the cannons to assume a defensive posture. I want to go to an offensive church.

4) There is some really bland music out there that is very insufficient for use in corporate worship both in its excessive complexity in terms of melodic rhythmn and in its lack of any depth of thought in its content.

5) The Bible is about Jesus. Not about us. That is, every book in the Bible must be preached with this in mind. Jesus is EVERYWHERE in the Bible...sometimes in the shadows, sometimes in the types, sometimes in the ordinances, sometimes displayed in the way that God dealt with the nation of Israel, but it is always about Him! Preaching becomes worship when this is kept in mind. It is mere self-help if He is forgotten. Is David and Goliath about us overcoming our problems? Or is it about the Greater David overcoming our greater problem, namely sin and death, and then us receiving the benefit, although we lifted not a single finger in the battle? Thank you Dr. Tim Keller and Dr. Edmund P. Clowney.

6) Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration. These are the 4 major themes in the Scriptures and help to frame the entirety of the Holy Scriptures into an understandable and cohesive unity. I understand now why Dr. Barcellos was able to preach the gospel from Genesis 3:15.

7) Heaven will be the restoration of Pre-fall creation.

8) Grace must frame the entirety of our preaching. Grace to save us from God's wrath and judgement, grace to set us in a right relationship with Him by way of Jesus' death, grace to allow us to obey His law, and grace to forgive us when we don't!

9) The "Emergent" church, although difficult to codify, is jacked-up, and I mean JACKED-UP to the extent that some of them deny the existence of Hell and the real need for salvation from the wrath of God! They sound like Robert Schuller "re-worked". They are coming to a church near you, so HEADS UP! Listen for terms like "NOOMA" videos, Rob Bell, and the "great conversation".

10) Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia.

11) If you have never been to the Shepherds Conference at Grace Community Church, John MacDaddy's church, you are missing out on one of the great gatherings of men who are being raised up to preach God's holy word.

12) The necessity of the community of believers. Who do you pray with? Who do you correct using God's word? Who will bring you meals when you are sick? With whom are you living out a life of radical love in front of unbelievers? Who has corrected you about something in your christian life recently? Who will be all over you if you stray from the faith? Who knows if you miss corporate worship on Sunday 4 weeks in a row? Who knows you aren't reading your Bible? With whom do you counsel when your marriage is in trouble? We need each other is the point, if you haven't got that already.

13) You need to listen to General Session #8 by Steve Lawson from the Shepherds Conference 2009. I was ready to go to seminary and enter the ministry after this sermon.

14) God, wife, kid(s), job, hobby. This is the proper and Biblical priority for life. Funny that if God is not first, you will have no idea where the other ones fit in.

15) I really have no idea if I will ever lead music again in church, although I would really like to.

Alexsandr Solzenhitsyn speaks a real warning to us.

Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: "Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened." Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: "Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened."-Alexsandr Solzenhitsyn

The Real Reason For The Civil War, I Think...

Reading on the history of the Civil War. This was as a result of a question from an English writing class I audited last night. One of the questions given as an assignment was to discover what Lincoln was arguing for in the Gettysburg Address. I read it. It is short. Really short. And it seems meaningless, at least when you simply read it out loud. What in the world was he talking about? (By the way, Lincoln declared his speech to be a "failure" right after delivering it. I think this lends a clue as to its emptiness.) I was intrigued to read up on why the Civil war was fought in the first place. I was surprised to find out that it was not really waged over the abolishment of slavery. It seems that this was merely a "cloak" for the actions of the Federal Government against its own people. Rather, it was the Federal North moving to crush the 11 states of the South that had seceded from the Union for very valid reasons; this was the real reason for this outrageous and deeply saddening war. The right to secession/revolution was guaranteed in the language of the Declaration of Independence out of necessity when governments breech their lawful bounds and victimize their subordinates. The states that all issued secession decrees had had their fill of the Federal Governments' increasing control and monopoly of many aspects of their lives. This was the real issue over which the wretched war was fought; many good men gave up their lives for their freedoms in this country and where crushed underfoot by the Feds. Wives and children lost approximately 618,000 husbands and fathers during the 4 year plague. This is very sad. I found it very interesting as well that Texas was recognized as a country by the major nations of the world for a time before being "allowed" into the Union. I had no idea. In light of all this information, the Gettysburg Address seems like just another political speech from another politician; blah, blah, blah. Just like nowadays. Meaningless sentiments...and then "God bless America" to round out the whole thing. Very sad and very hollow.

A Poem In Praise Of The Trinity-For my wonderful mother, one fine December evening...

Praise to the Godhead

Inherent power, union of three and yet One

Marvelous terror

Worlds held in balance, governing planets and suns

Stars in the heavens

Raging with glory, bow at the sight of His face

Let all the heavens

Let all the nations, bring Him the merited praise

Glory to Yahweh

Vast is His power, those who believe He recieves

Love to His people

Has no known boundaries, great is their sorrow relieved

Blessed be Jesus

Highest in merit, bearing my sins before God

Who could accomplish

What He has finished? All of my guilt is now gone

Praise to the Spirit

Bringer of comfort, moving with power and grace

Capturing sinners

Conquering rebels, fitting them to see His face

Monday, October 04, 2010

The Legend Of The Gaurdians: The Owls Of Ga'hool

Just saw this movie. I liked it for the following reasons:

1) There were clear and distinct differences between the evil guys and the good guys.
2) The idea that living after evil ways results in destruction was VERY reinforced.
3) I swear that the composers quoted the theme from Harry Potter twice near the middle of the movie when the owlets meet the Gaurdians. I'd have to see it again to be sure.
4) I liked the saying "Your dreams are really who you are" from the beginning of the movie.
5) The storyline was great as was the development of the secondary characters and there was quite a bit of humor sprinkled throughout the movie.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

How Joyful Are You?

On a scale from 0-5, how joyful are you? Why? I often, if not always, exchange joy for happiness. I forget that joy is a security of things hoped for; a set of unchangeable realities above and outside myself. It is an emotion that is not a mere emotion. Joy and hope are inseparable, as long as that in which we hope is an unchangeable reality. And here is the first clue to the real nature of joy: It must be founded upon that which can not be shaken, taken away, affected by the economy, broken, violated, forgotten, etc. In short, true and lasting joy can only be a Christian virtue for the only thing which does not change, ever, is the body of truth that constitutes the Christian Gospel. Therefore, joy and faith are inseparable; real joy can only exist in the presence of a "...confidence of things not seen." Heb 11:1. The things of this earth, at times bringing great happiness, can not give real joy because they are all transient; a mist or shadow that so easily passes away. So I am reminded that I may be so "joyless" because I have of late forgotten to meditate upon the hope of my salvation; think much of God's love for me, the security of my salvation, the constant intercession of Christ on my behalf, the fountain of blood always available for my forgiveness and cleansing, the unflagging zeal of God to fulfill his covenant, keep His word, and bring all His people into Glory while not losing a single one! Instead of theses realities, I often fill my mind with the anxieties of this world: economy, my sins, possibility of grave illness both in me and/or my family, removal of Gods temporal blessings, aging, unfulfilled dreams, overt focus on world pursuits, etc. And here the Scriptures admonition to be anxious for nothing resounds in my mind, as well as the admonition to set my mind on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God...for only there, as Christ is disposed to us in such a favorable way to the end that we will be in Heaven with Him, can I find relief from anxiety and worry, the very thing which robs me of my joy. May I not be like the world with its hopelessness; pervading hopelessness! But rather found my joy upon the Rock of my salvation which will never fail!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Great Gospel Quote!

Go to Christ immediately

“I feel when I have sinned an immediate reluctance to go to Christ. I am ashamed to go. I feel as if it would not do to go, as if it were making Christ the minister of sin, to go straight from the swine-trough to the best robe, and a thousand other excuses. But I am persuaded they are all lies direct from hell.

John argues the opposite way—‘If any man sins, we have an advocate with the Father;’ … The holy sensitiveness of the soul that shrinks from the touch of sin, the acute susceptibility of the conscience at the slightest shade of guilt, will of necessity draw the spiritual mind frequently to the blood of Jesus. And herein lies the secret of a heavenly walk. Acquaint yourself with it, my reader, as the most precious secret of your life. He who lives in the habit of a prompt and minute acknowledgement of sin, with his eye reposing calmly, believingly, upon the crucified Redeemer, soars in spirit where the eagle’s pinion [wings] range not.”

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Update on my 2010 resolutions

As far as reading my Bible every day, I have not succeeded in that endeavor. However, I have read it quite a bit and am learning not to feel guilty if I miss a day or 4. Usually I just rest in the cross if I start worrying that I haven't read my Bible and get concerned that God is not going to like me if I don't read it. What has been good is that I have been reading large portions of Scripture when I do sit down to read. I am reading 15-20 chapters from 4 different books in the Bible so there is a larger amount of intake and this has been a blessing to me. I think the only way I will be more consistent is to ensure that I read the Bible as soon as I wake up. It's not that the time of day is more spiritual; it's just that mornings are usually the slowest part of my day and are relatively free of distractions.

I have been speaking more kindly to my wife, as of late. It seems that in the last month or so things that bothered me greatly in the past are now not so much of a big deal. I realize that it is best not to "react to her response" as it applies to any number of situations. In the past, when we failed to communicate clearly and got offended, I would flip out and that only caused the situation to compound, resulting in hours, if not days, of not "getting along". God has given me grace lately to not react to offense as I used to. I still need to improve alot in this area. One other thing I have realized is that my wife just needs to get out sometimes alone...without me. I've been trying to make sure she gets these times of solitary refreshment.

As far as reading to Owen, I have done pretty well. I have read to him most every night that we have been home and gone through our normal "getting ready for bed" routine. One thing that I have started doing besides simply reading to him is using the K-4 curriculum that we own from aBeka and teaching him how to read using the series of Little Owl books that is part of this curriculum. He loves them and really is excited to be able to read simple words and 2 word sentences. I have seen fruit from my efforts as we go about our day as he points out various words that he has seen or is curious about.

As far as finding a church, I am still in the process. We have been going to a really good church lately and are very encouraged by the work of God in our life as a result of being joined to this body of believers. I am very hopeful for the future and what it may hold for us here at this new church.

I am almost done with the first song for my worship album. It will probably take all year for me to record it all. I'm aiming for 10 or 11 songs and it will up on my Facebook page as I finish each song. I'll post the first one in the near future.

One of the best Christian worship albums ever.

Those of you who have known me for any length of time know that I have an affinity for good music, specifically worship music. I have been involved in leading worship in churches for over 20 years and have spent alot of that time reading and thinking and discussing what makes a good song for worship. I recently began to attend a different church in the Santa Clarita Valley named Crossroads Community Church. I had lunch with Paul Hoover, the guy who leads worship there, and as we were dialoguing about various things I brought up the point that there are few songs written nowadays for Christian worship that have Heaven as the theme of the song. It just seems like the average christian in the modern church does not think much about the joy of the eternal state; the joy of being with Jesus; the joy of seeing His face and no longer being afraid, guilty, sick, or sad. Theology proper refers to this as the Beatific Vision. In Christian theology, the beatific vision is the eternal and direct visual perception of God enjoyed by those who are in Heaven, imparting supreme happiness or blessedness. (Wiki) It is the event that contains all of the essence of all of our hope as christians, namely, that we will see the face of God and not be afraid! As we discussed this topic, Paul mentioned an album by a band called Enfield. Their first album is all about Heaven and the final rest of Christians. My first listen to it was stirring. Subsequent listening has confirmed for me that this is one of the most musically diverse and theologically sound worship albums I've ever heard. This album has changed me in that I long for heaven even more now; I long to be with Jesus more as a result of being reminded of the great truths presented in the songs of this album.

I heartily recommend it to you.

I purchased 15 of them from Grace Community's book store as gifts and/or "tracts" to those I might meet who are not Christians.

I encourage you to buy the album, sit down, get out the lyric sheet, and listen to all the songs in a row. You will be encouraged and you will look forward to Heaven and seeing Jesus for the first time. Enjoy!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Quote from "Safety, Fullness, and Sweet Refreshment In Christ"-a sermon by Jonathan Edwards

Christ not only delivers from fears of hell and of wrath, but he gives hopes of heaven, and the enjoyments of God's love. He delivers from inward tumults and inward pain, from that guilt of conscience which is as a worm gnawing within, and he gives delight and inward glory. He brings us out of a wilderness of pits, and drought, and fiery flying spirits; and he brings us into a pleasant land, a land flowing from milk and honey. He delivers us out of prison, and lifts us off from the dunghill, and he sets us among princes, and causes us to inherit the throne of glory. Wherefore, if anyone is weary, if any is in prison, if anyone is in captivity, if anyone is in the wilderness, let him come to the blessed Jesus, who is as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. Delay not, arise and come away.