Thursday, March 31, 2016

Expository Study (2 Tim. 2:15) and Sanctified Sweat

I refer to my weekly preparation as the "blessed grind."  H.B. Charles is spot on here.  "A desire to preach without a burden to study is a desire to perform."  The church has too many clowns in the pulpit today.  Here is one such example of a megachurch SBC pastor who doesn't get it.

Watch this video and you will see how desperately America needs a biblical reformation.

The pulpit is the rudder of the church brothers.  "Preach the Word in season and out!"

Friday, March 25, 2016

Thursday, March 24, 2016

God SAVE the King (or Future President)! Election Prayer 2016

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Politics and elections in America are downright dirty. If you talk with Christians who work closely with politicians (as I have) they will tell you stories that will make you sick to your stomach. The corruption at the top is epidemic (with some notable exceptions). When I read the Minor Prophets or study the religious and political climate during the ministry of Christ it helps put things into perspective; (it also grieves my soul).  If God judged Israel for her unrepentant ways, (and He has), we have no reason to believe that we are immune to such calamity.  One of the central points of Jude's epistle is that sin and judgment goes hand in hand (see Jude 4-18).

Trump, like most politicians, seems willing to say almost anything to get elected (corrupt hearts seek POWER)... In fairness, Obama lied over and over again to win two elections (like in 08 when he lied about his position on gay marriage).  The Democratic front-runner (Clinton) lied about Benghazi and has lied through her teeth on many other occasions. Sadly, this year's election cycle is, in many ways, par for the course.

I have observed that some people appreciate Trump- not because they like everything he says- but because unlike 90% of politicians- who say one thing in public and another thing in private- Donald often has no filter whatsoever. He speaks his mind.  Having said that, the Bible calls reckless speech FOOLISH (James 3; 1:26); for the fruit of the Spirit is "self-control."  As a unbeliever, Donald Trump clearly lacks this virtue.

But the Word of God also condemns those who murder the innocent, those who applaud the LGBTQ movement (see Rom 1:18-32), and those who lie as a way of life (Rev. 21:8). Hillary Clinton and President Obama fit this bill.  John MacArthur said some time ago that the Democratic party has now established Rom 1:18-32 as its official party platform.  

So it basically comes down to NOW WHAT because November's presidential election will likely feature two candidates with many character flaws.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

"Expect To Be Misunderstood, Misrepresented, Belied, Ridiculed..."

Charles Spurgeon's advice to faithful ministers of the gospel.  "Expect to be misunderstood, misrepresented, belied, ridiculed, and so forth; for so was the Sent of the Father....As the Father sent His Son into a world which was sure to treat him ill, so has he sent you into the same world, which will treat you in the same manner if you are like Christ."

...."For my part, I am quite willing to be eaten of dogs for the next fifty years; but the more distant future shall vindicate me. I have dealt honestly before the living God."

Friday, March 18, 2016

Knowing God and Christ: The Essence of Eternal Life (pt 2)

Praise the Savior ye who KNOW Him!  Who can tell how much we owe Him?Gladly let us render to Him; All we are and have!”

The famed Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon was spot when he said, “What is often forgotten is that the ultimate end of gospel is not the conversion of men but the glory of God!”  To which John Piper adds, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him."

The final prong of the Father's love gift to His beloved Son is mentioned at the tail end of John 17:2.  C) The glorified Savior is given the right to bestow eternal life.  "…that to all whom Thou hast given Him, He may give eternal life” (John 17:2c).

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Knowing God & Christ: The Essence of Eternal Life.

As human beings created in the ‘image of God’ we were made to be relational creatures. As such one of the greatest blessings in life is TO KNOW and BE KNOWN.

As the hymnist suggests, “For the joy of human love/ Brother, sister, parent, child/ Friends on earth, and friends above/ For all gentle thoughts and mild. Lord of all, to Thee we raise/ This our hymn of grateful praise.”  As wonderful as human relationships can be, they pale in comparison to the joy of knowing Christ!

It’s why Christians sing praise songs like:
“Knowing you, Jesus
Knowing you, there is no greater thing
You're my all, you're the best
You're my joy, my righteousness
And I love you, Lord!”

In John 17 as the Lord poured out his soul in prayer the Savior clearly understood that by going to the cross He was opening the gates of heaven that His people might experience personal fellowship with the Godhead.  Yes, biblical Christianity involves sound doctrine and orthodox theology but it’s also paramount that we appreciate the experiential component of our so great a salvation. 

I sometimes wonder if in all our theological studies and sentence diagramming we have forgotten this- the essence of eternal life is ‘Knowing God!  In his classic work, Knowing God, J. I. Packer noted that there’s a world of difference between “knowing about God and truly knowing God.”

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Bright Lights in the Darkness! Profiles of Faithful Church Members

Ravi, Esther, Ron, and Mighty are choice servants of the Lord.  Their passion for Christ, evangelism, and the Scriptures is both refreshing and convicting.  Every time my family has fellowshipped with these dear saints we have gone away with a greater appreciation for the blood bought bride of Christ (the Church).

I am thankful that this wonderful Christian and faithful church member, who is such a bright light in our community, was recognized today by the Rockford newspaper.

This story reminds me that every vocation is a calling and a mission field.

READ the article by clicking on the link below:
Slice: Ravi Wilson Sandhyapagu gives back to Freeport through his work

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Preaching Moment by Rick Holland

"The Preaching Moment"
By Rick Holland |
from The Expositors Blog

"Another week means two more sermons for me to prepare. And that means the weekly ritual of opening my Bible, clicking on the Logos program on the Mac, and grabbing my favorite fountain pen and the familiar canary legal pad.

It’s amazing that after doing this thousands of times, the first thought that comes into my mind as I start is, “Now what am I really doing and how am I actually going to do it?”

Word studies, diagrammatical analysis, Greek and Hebrew, homiletical outlines, illustrations, introductions and conclusions, applications, implications, transitions, titles—sermon prep is not for that faint of heart or the lazy of spirit. But I have to admit that I love it. Really, it is my favorite part of my “job.”

But it is far easier to forget what the design of preaching is than I would like to admit. In the forward to The Salvation of Souls edited by Richard A. Bailey and Gregory A. Wills, George Marsden provides this insightful context and quote from the preaching of Jonathan Edwards: "In the midst of debates over the Great Awakening, Edwards, made a revealing comment about the effects of preaching. During intense periods of awakenings, evangelists often preached to the same audience daily, or even more frequently. Opponents of the awakening argued that people could not possibly remember what they heard in all these sermons. [Jonathan] Edwards, responded that “The main benefit that is obtained by preaching is by impression made upon the mind in the time of it, and not by the effect that arises afterwards by a remembrance of what was delivered.”  Preaching, in other words, should be designed primarily to awaken, to shake people out of their blind slumbers in the addictive comforts of their sins. Though only God can give them new eyes to see, preaching should be designed to jolt the unconverted or the converted who doze back into their sins (as all do) into recognizing their true estate (pp. 11-12).

Friday, March 11, 2016

Is it evil to vote for "the lesser of two evils?"

A Ralph Nader bumper sticker that many evangelicals agree with...
I generally keep my personal political convictions private as the ministry of the gospel is my primary duty as a disciple and as a pastor/theologian.  However, I have read so many respected Christian leaders take such hard line positions concerning what Bible believing Christians "must do" come November that I have felt compelled to express a slightly different (biblical) point of view.  Almost all of these "Trump Donald" articles suggest that to vote for the "best of the worst" is to make yourself "culpable" in the process (as Dr. Moore's article stated today). Is that the gospel truth?  Friends, I understand how someone could choose not to vote for Trump or Clinton/Sanders and to fill in John Piper come November. However, we should tell our brothers and sisters in Christ that good and godly Christians hold different perspectives on this important issue. Last week I wrote four articles in effort to spotlight what I believe are some neglected points in this whole debate.

In this vein, another article was posted today by a respected Christian leader concerning the following issue: Should American believers vote for the lesser of two "evils" in the election of a public official? A number of theologians (agreeing with Ralph Nader) say ABSOLUTELY NOT.  I am not convinced that Dr. Moore's logic here is airtight. When it comes to electing unsaved officials to public office (Rom. 13) who defines whether a candidate is "EVIL" or "GOOD?" If both candidates have character flaws and policies that you disagree with must one abstain from voting for the best of the worst (lest they choose evil)? Is this the only valid "Christian" point of view? (Mormon conservative Glen Beck and others say yes; while Rush Limbaugh, Ben Carson, and other non-Christian conservatives disagree). I remember hearing John MacArthur say in 2012 that believer's need to realize that they are not selecting a local church pastor when they vote (see 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 for God's non-negotiable qualifications for church leaders).

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Common (Faulty) Assumptions About Bible "Exposition"

Today's article is by Pastor Jerry Wragg.   Jerry pastors a healthy church in Jupiter, Florida that (by the grace of God) is growing spiritually and numerically.  "In my second post, I want to address how those faulty assumptions about giftedness lead to an errant view of expository preaching.

Assumptions about Bible “Exposition.”  This may step on a few toes, but I might as well say it plainly right up front: I just don’t think a number of the most widely-known preachers today are truly doing Bible exposition, even though they define their preaching by those terms. Referring again to the panel discussion video I watched, all the men on the panel are considered world class expositors, yet only a few of them, in my view, are both surrendered to the text and preaching its full intent and implications.

For a sermon to be classified as “expository,” it must derive its central message exclusively from the biblical author’s intended message. The sermon’s principles, therefore, must rise naturally from the structure and force of the text in light of the surrounding context. D.A. Carson’s explanation is important: Expository preaching is preaching whose subject matter emerges directly and demonstrably from a passage or from some passages of Scripture. In other words, its content and structure demonstrably reflect what Scripture says, and honestly seek to elucidate it

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Faulty Assumptions about Pulpit "Giftedness" (by Dr. Jerry Wragg)

Photo Credit: 

Evangelicalism's Got Talent (Part 1)

"Not long ago I listened to a panel discussion of well-known pastors discussing the merits, if any, of establishing new churches whose primary shepherd/preacher is heard and known only by live-streaming video. Those in favor offered two main reasons: (1) It works! Patently faster than other numerically-driven approaches, the live-stream messages of admired preachers draws more people from, well, wherever they were before. (2) Only some men have the kind of giftedness to “bring it powerfully” in the pulpit, and so we should maximize their outreach potential through technology.

Now, aside from what I think are grave errors with that particular approach to feeding the flock (which weren’t addressed in the panel discussion, but that’s for another post), two issues cause me to think that evangelicalism is being duped when it comes to how we evaluate effective ministries and preaching. We make wrong assumptions about “giftedness” and this leads to an errant view of expository preaching. This post will simply focus on the first of those points.

(Faulty) Assumptions about “Giftedness”

Monday, March 7, 2016

'Useless Fault Finding' (Spurgeon gems)

Photo Credit: Image from
The last few years of pastoral ministry have been especially joyful.  In large part this is because those who excelled most at highlighting specks in others eventually saw fit to take their "fault finding" elsewhere.  In this vein, I know of one pastor who during one sit down meeting was criticized for three plus hours.  The sad irony was that this brother had some pretty significant logs in his own ministry/marriage/family.  During this lengthy meeting this member never once admitted any of those shortcomings or failures (see Matthew 7:1-5).  During meetings like this it is often best to say very little and to not turn the tables.  To evaluate the criticisms and accusations of others and to swallow any kernels of truth and to spit out the rest.  

In this vein, I came across this encouraging word from Charles Spurgeon.  "From the earliest period it has been found impossible for the messengers whom God has sent to suit their style of utterance to the tastes of all."

Many hearers lose much blessing through criticizing too much, and meditating too little; and many more incur great sin by calumniating those who live for the good of others. True pastors have enough of care and travail without being burdened by undeserved and useless fault-finding.  We have something better to do than to be forever answering every malignant or frivolous slander which is set afloat to injure us.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Politics According to the Bible (Issues that Matter)

Political Issues that are First and Foremost Biblical Issues

1) Creation and Abortion: God is the great Creator (Elohim) and life begins at conception (Psalm 139:13-16). Murder (taking innocent life) is a heinous sin (Exodus 20:13). By principle, the Bible clearly teaches that abortion is murder.   

Psalm 139:13-16, For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well.  My frame was not hidden from Thee, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.  Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Thy book they were all written, The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.  The forerunner of the Messiah, John the Baptist, leapt in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:41).  See also Jeremiah 1:5.

Science today (3D ultrasounds) unmistakably affirms the perfect testimony of Scripture.  It is remarkable that those who believe in creation are mockingly called “science deniers” by evolutionist today, yet those who say life begins “when a mother says it begins” (often at birth) are considered wise.  You can be convicted for double homicide for murdering a pregnant mother (eg. Lacy  and Conner Peterson); but if you choose to you can abort a child with protection from the United States Supreme Court. 

God created the womb to be a place of safety and protection for unborn infants.  Since 1973 53 million abortions have been “legally” performed in America.  By comparison over 6 million lives were mercilessly taken during the Nazi Holocaust.  The modern day Democrat party celebrates abortion (Planned Parenthood) and the LGBTQ movement.  These are now essential components of the Democratic party platform (see below).  It should also be noted that younger Republicans are increasingly abandoning the conservative social causes that matter most to Bible-believing Christians.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Lessons from Dort: "In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity"

In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity:  Lessons from the Synod of Dort.

This lesser known story from church history is helpful on a number of levels.  It reminds us that Christians should watch their tone (Eph. 4:15) and be careful how they disagree with other believers during intramural debates. Today's church history lesson goes as such.   Two delegations were divided among themselves on intricate details related to particular redemption.  Quoting Dr. Lee Gatis, "Those from Britain and Bremen gave minority reports to the Synod, and aroused some very strong passions.  The British delegation HAD TO WRITE HOME FOR HELP RECONCILING THEIR INTERNAL DIVISIONS, but John Davenant claimed he would rather have his right hand cut off than change his mind, so some compromise was inevitable.  When Matthias Martinius from Bremen delicately expressed some of his more Arminianizing opinions on this subject Franciscus Gomarus was so incensed that he threw down the gauntlet and challenged him to a duel!  The Synod president tried to calm things down, but after prayers Gomarus renewed his request for combat.  The two would fight again (verbally) in the Synod, in AN UNDIGNIFIED MANNER which did not impress the other (Christian) foreign delegates, and though others in the Bremen delegation did not agree with Martinius, they nearly left because of this incivility."  What we say, how we say what we believe, and how we disagree with fellow believers during intramural debates is important.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

An Open Letter to my Christian "Trump Donald" Friends

I respect the opinion of other bible-loving Christians who feel differently than I do about various political issues. We don't get the vibe that some of our friends feel the same way. I think that is sad. Sometimes good and godly people come to different conclusions about wisdom decisions (such as should a believer vote against Clinton and for Trump should Trump win the GOP nomination? If Trump comes out on top will he betray the people/groups that helped him win the nomination, like "evangelical" leader Jerry Falwell Jr.)?

If you have Christian black friends (and I hope you do), some of them, no doubt, voted for Obama in 08 and 12 (I think 95% of blacks who identified themselves as protestant pulled the lever for Obama in 12). I trust you agreed to disagree with brother so and so and yet still came together around the table of the Lord and that after church you left preaching the same Christ (Rom. 1:16-17; Gal. 3:28). These are the points I have been trying to stress lately.