A recent post on a Little Leaven displays a company that sells fortune cookies filled with bible verses. They claim, ‘These are a great way for children and adults to learn the Bible!’ and ‘Perfect for Bible study groups, camps and retreats.’
While I realize this is just another secular business looking to make a buck, I am convinced there are people out there who will actually think this is a good idea. Now I have no problem with memorizing bible verses, but I think this kind of product marketing stems from the actual way many Christians study the bible. Many pastors and teachers also approach the bible like it was all written in the style of the Book of Proverbs – you know, that book primarily written by king Solomon filled with bite-sized pearls of wisdom. The problem is, the bible consists of 66 books written by over forty different authors. Proverbs is the only book of its kind. We cannot hope to interpret the overwhelming majority of the biblical texts in a ‘Proverbial’ manner – so to speak.
I know of people who wake up in the morning, crack open their bibles, thumb through the pages randomly and then point their finger (while looking the other way) at a verse, and then make that verse their focus for the entire day – without so much as a passing glance at the surrounding text. Continue reading
I have a software recommendation for all Christian believers who take seriously the Apostle Paul’s admonition to ‘Study earnestly to present yourself approved to God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.’ (2Ti 2:15) I imagine for most Berean types, their adventures in Cyberspace have probably already landed them on the piece of virtual real estate known as E-sword.net. For those who may not be in the know, I cannot recommend this website enough. It is an incredible resource for serious Christian study. E-Sword is a bible software program that is remarkably diverse. You can download a multitude of various components; everything from commentaries and devotions to bible translations and dictionaries. The best part of it all… it’s ABSOLUTELY FREE!!! Well, most of it is free. Some components will cost you a handful of change, but there are so many free resources available, you just won’t have time to enjoy it all anyway. The program was created by a gentleman named Rick Meyers. He has done a magnificent work in helping to further the kingdom of God. It is apparent his driving motivation is not monetary profit but spiritual profit for the Body of Christ.
Permit me to insert a discernment warning, however. Many resources are available for your study but perhaps not all of them are beneficial. Before downloading components from teachers you aren’t familiar with, do a Google search and investigate the orthodoxy of their teachings. Although I realize on the internet every single teacher and preacher of God’s word is labeled a heretic or an apostate by some, please make the effort to plow through the rhetoric to verify the reliability of your sources. Keep your discernment radar active at all times! Continue reading
In a couple of hours we will be serving Thanksgiving dinner at our home. I have quickly written this little prayer that I will pray over our food.
Dear Heavenly Father, we come before you today so very thankful for all the blessings you have poured out on us. We give thanks to you for this holiday season, for bringing family and friends together to enjoy this wonderful dinner. We are thankful for every good thing we have and for all the good times we have experienced. But we are also thankful for our trials and tribulations that we learn not to lean on our own strength or our own understanding but to trust in you and your holy word for everything. Most of all, we are thankful to you, Heavenly Father for giving us your Son, Jesus Christ, who died our death so that we may live.
In Jesus name we pray.
A Happy a blessed Thanksgiving to all!
“In the church where I ministered in South Wales I used to stand at the main door of the church at the close of the service on Sunday night, and shake hands with people as they went out. The incident to which I am referring concerns a man who used to come to our service every Sunday night. He was a tradesman but also a heavy drinker. He got drunk regularly every Saturday night, but he was also regularly seated in the gallery of our church every Sunday night. On the particular night to which I am referring I happened to notice while preaching that this man was obviously being affected. I could see that he was weeping copiously, and I was anxious to know what was happening to him. At the end of the service I went and stood at the door. After a while I saw this man coming, and immediately I was in a real mental conflict. Should I, in view of what I had seen, say a word to him and ask him to make his decision that night, or should I not? Would I be interfering with the work of the Spirit if I did so? Hurriedly I decided that I would not ask him to stay behind, so I just greeted him as usual and he went out. His face revealed that he had been crying copiously, and he could scarcely look at me. The following evening I was walking to the prayer-meeting in the church, and, going over a railway bridge, I saw this same man coming to meet me. He came across the road to me and said, ‘You know, doctor, if you had asked me to stay behind last night I would have done so.’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘I am asking you now, come with me now.’ ‘Oh no,’ he replied, ‘but if you had asked me last night I would have done so.’ ‘My dear friend,’ I said, ‘if what happened to you last night does not last for twenty-four hours I am not interested in it. If you are not as ready to come with me now as you were last night you have not got the right, the true thing. Whatever affected you last night was only temporary and passing, you still do not see your real need of Christ.’ That is the kind of thing that may happen even when an appeal is not made. But when an appeal is made it is greatly exaggerated and so you get spurious conversions”. – Martyn Lloyd Jones
But God commends His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Rom 5:8-10)
I have two student workers who help me out a couple of days during the week, doing various technology related tasks. They are generally enthusiastic and energetic workers. They are also neither one Christians. One is a sort of agnostic who is considering Judaism. (I don’t get it either.) The other is a practicing Hindu. I have spent the last year witnessing to these young gentlemen. I have sat down with them and taken them systematically through the full scope of the gospel message, from law to grace, from hell to heaven, from death to life, from the depravity of man to the glory of God. As of yet, neither has put their faith in Christ. One has hardened himself against the message and generally mocks God and his word. The other is more respectful and appears to have a general interest in what I have to say.
So I keep teaching. One tool I frequently utilize is the white board I have in my office. Every week I put up a few scripture verses. When they come in to work, I often take a moment to quickly expound the text for their edification. The student who actually pays attention to me has come to eagerly await a new nugget of wisdom from God’s word every week. He is quick to rebuke me whenever I fail to post a new scripture. I can sense that he is digesting the milk I am feeding him. Encouraged by his hunger for knowledge, I keep at it, praying that God will cause the seed I have planted to take root. My hope is that someday it shall sprout into a tree of life.
Last week as I searched for a scripture to display I came across the text from Romans posted above. As I read through it I realized the Apostle Paul here succinctly summarizes the core of the gospel message in these three short verses. I will attempt to expound these verses just as plainly as I explained them to my student workers a few days ago. Continue reading
Joel Osteen’s much anticipated new book has just recently hit store shelves, promising seven keys to improving yourself. Those who may still be unfamiliar with Osteen may glance at his book on display in the mall and think, “Oh, another self-help book by one of those slick motivational speakers.” It might surprise them to find out he actually is the Pastor/Shepherd of the nation’s largest flock of professing Christian believers at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. Don’t worry, many discerning Christians who have listened to or read any of his works are equally surprised that he calls himself a Pastor. Joel Osteen has never attended seminary nor has he studied theology. He doesn’t truly teach or preach. By his own admission, these traits are not his gifting! He spends his time behind the podium exhorting and encouraging. So, what’s wrong with that? I’ll let Dr. Michael Horton of Westminster Seminary California and host of the White Horse Inn radio broadcast explain in this excellent article reviewing Become a Better You. Here is an excerpt:
It is indeed true that there are appeals to the Bible scattered throughout this book. However, in nearly every case a verse is either torn from its context and turned into a “fortune-cookie” kind of promise that one can name-and-claim for oneself or it is actually misquoted to serve Osteen’s point. For example, we read that when God confronted Adam and Eve after their sin, “He said, ‘Adam, who told you that you were naked?’ In other words, ‘Who told you that something was wrong with you?’ God immediately knew the enemy had been talking to them. God is saying to you today, ‘Who told you that you don’t have what it takes to succeed?'”3 Where, in the passage he refers to (Genesis 3:11), God asks Adam this question in order to convict him of his sin, Osteen makes it sound as if it were Satan who told Adam that he had failed the test. As in his earlier book, Osteen here never speaks of sin as falling short of God’s glory, but of falling short of God’s best for your life. In fact, Osteen’s attachment to the prosperity gospel is even more explicit in Become a Better You. Just as Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, and other “faith teachers” speak of believers as “little gods” who share God’s nature, Osteen has an entire chapter devoted to “The Power of Your Bloodline.” “You have the DNA of Almighty God.”4 It’s “what’s in you” that is divine seed, he says.5 It is not that God has imputed Christ’s righteousness to us and adopted us as his children. We are not saved by an external and alien righteousness, but by an internal and essential righteousness that belongs to us simply by virtue of our being created in his image. Therefore, throughout the book Osteen can address all of his readers as semi-divine without any reference to faith in Christ.
Read the rest of the article here.
I feel compelled to spotlight a preacher of God’s word that the world probably knows little about. He doesn’t have a large church congregation, nor has he written any Christian bestsellers. He doesn’t ooze with charm and charisma nor does he have a pleasantly melodious voice. What he does do extremely well is passionately preach Christ and him crucified. He has become quite well known throughout the Reformed and discernment spheres of Christian blogdem, and I want to dedicate this post to the outstanding work of God he is laboring hard for each and everyday. His name is Paul Washer and he is the founder and director of HeartCry Missionary Society. He also serves as an itinerant preacher and speaks at churches all over the country. You can read a brief biography of his life and ministry here.
I first became aware of Paul Washer through a message he preached to a youth gathering a couple of years ago. The sermon blazed like wildfire through the blogosphere and I listened to it from a link at Slice of Laodicea. I couldn’t believe my ears. He broke every rule of seeker sensitivity without blinking an eye. He shattered the myths of easy-believism ‘I said a prayer’ evangelicalism without mercy. He preached the hard message of the gospel; that of dying to self, taking up the cross and following Christ. He didn’t promise the kids health, wealth and prosperity. He spoke from experience the true reality of facing death on a daily basis for the cause of the gospel while working as a missionary in the jungles of Peru. He then rebuked the youth for thinking a radical Christian as someone who wears a Christian t-shirt! Continue reading