Wednesday, December 30, 2009

William Penn: Liberty and Justice for All

I just finished reading William Penn: Liberty and Justice for All by Janet and Geoff Benge, and found this to be an excellent account of the life of William Penn and his work in establishing the Pennsylvania colonies. Penn had a remarkable life, filled with religious persecution, conflicts with his father, the English courts, and numerous struggles over establishing the Pennsylvania colonies, or "the holy experiment", as he referred to it.

The book chronicles Penn's life through his childhood in England, and describes how Penn, at a young age, was affected by hearing an influential Quaker minister speak. Penn himself becomes a Quaker during his lifetime, and experiences firsthand the harsh religious persecution that the Anglican government of England imposed (including unfair convictions, trials and imprisonments.)

Later Penn is given a providentially amazing opportunity to establish the Pennsylvania colonies, and his aim was to establish this land as one of liberty, fairness, and religious freedom. It's a remarkable story and can be a real page-turner during some of the momentous times of Penn's life.

However, William Penn's life wasn't without its troubles. Beyond just the religious persecution that Penn experienced as a Quaker, his family also saw the loss of a number of their own children and, potentially most devastating, was the account of Penn's oldest son who (perhaps from having his father absent so much due to persecution or working on Pennsylvania) turned in much different direction of alcohol addiction and gambling. In fact, the book doesn't go much further into what happened to Penn's son, but this serves as a tragic indicator that Penn, for all his remarkable contributions should have also keep his focus on shepherding his own family with the same level of dedication.

The life of William Penn was an amazing one, and his strong stand for religious freedom, both in England and in the Pennsylvania colonies, serve as an excellent example of a man faithful to God in his life efforts.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Permanence View of Marriage

Voddie preached a message not long ago on the Permanence view of marriage. Its a fascinating and challenging view that a marriage vow should never be broken under any circumstance, even unfaithfulness. Voddie lays out in detail from scripture the reasoning for this viewpoint. Personally I think this could be difficult, especially in mind of abusive relationships, etc, but at the root of this its all about a solid commitment to the covenant of marriage, even when the partner breaks it. Here's the link:

And in a strange semi-related note, here's a link to a song by Frehley's Comet that I posted in my music blog, with lyrics that curiously (ironically) remind me of the permanence view:

You will never hear me say the words
Never feel the pain that hurts
Never hear me say Its over now

Not sure that Ace Frehley or Todd Howarth had the permanence view in mind when they wrote the song, but it does fit in an odd sort of way.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Alliance for Church & Family Reformation | Excellent Resource for Family Ministry and Integrated Worship

The Alliance for Church & Family Reformation site offers some excellent resources, including audio sermons and links, related to the subject of family integrated worship. Per the site description:

The Alliance for Church and Family Reformation was born out of a need to help the greater Christian community understand and apply the biblical principles of family discipleship and age-integrated church and to strategically promote both family and church reformation.

Additionally, Grace Family Baptist offers a number of excellent messages by Voddie Baucham.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The King James Only Movement

I've just started researching and digging into the mountain of documentation out there about the KJV-Only "controversy". I wonder if there's really anything to this, or if the KJVO stance is really just based around pastors who didn't want to bother learning Hebrew and Greek in seminary.

Regardless, here's a collection of good links that challenge the KJVO stance.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dr. Thomas Schreiner on Credobaptism

Here is an excellent mp3 message by Dr. Thomas Schreiner in defense of Credo baptism. Worth checking out, as it's an excellent defense packaged into a 30 minute time frame. Some notes I took from this message:

In the baptist view, believers are clothed with Christ at baptism. Peter's message at Pentecost was "Repent and be baptised". Numerous NT scripture references all cite baptism following belief. In the Presbyterian paedobaptist model, the baptism provides no benefit unless it's followed by later faith. Faith MAY occur later in life, or may never occur at all.

I Cor. 12:13 - All believers are baptised in the body of Christ in one spirit..." All believers drink of the spirit and are equal members at baptism. Have infants received the spirit at baptism? (baptismal regeneration).

Baptism is also described scriptually as a "washing". I Cor. 6:11 - makes it clear that washing of sin and justification take place at the same time, yet justification involves faith. Justification is for those who believe.

"Household baptisms" of scripture (Acts 16) does not support the notion that this included infants. The household is contextually limited to those who could understand and believe. Evidence for this is that the household is described as "rejoicing". This joy implies understanding the significance of what had happened. Those who had rejoiced were those who believed - no compelling evidence that this included infants.

Acts 18 - Belief of the household meaning mental understanding. Maybe children included. Acts 2:39 - Often used in defense of infant baptism. Peter states "The promise is for you and for your children..." A careful reading of this does not include infants. The groups are Peter's listeners, the children, and those far off (the gentiles). It's not all those listeners, but only for those from every group who believe in the Gospel. This is justified by the last clause in the verse, "that is everyone that the Lord has called to himself." How would baptized infants who turn from faith later in life apply to this group?

Baptism as covenental sign (col. 2:12) continuing circumcision. "In him you were circumcised..." The parallel, however, doesn't work for a number of reasons: it lumps the plans of God together. There is one plan of God from scripture, but there is no evidence from scripture that we have one covenant of grace. The Abrahamic covenant is clearly distinguished from the Mosaic covenant. It is also clear that the new covenant and the Abrahamic covenant are not the same. There are elements unique to the Abrahamic covenant. For instance, Ishmael receives the covenental sign of circumcision. There is a genealogical principle to the Abrahamic covenant that does not continue in the new covenant. There is continuity and discontinuity in both covenants. The old covenant was a nation and a church. This is no longer true in the new covenant - the new covenant is composed only of those who believe in Jesus Christ. There is no special chosen nation. Heb. 8-10 make it clear that all members of the new covenant are forgiven of their sin and filled with the Holy Spirit. People from every people group.

The new testament supports a credobaptist position.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Genesis 26: 34 - 27: 45

Missed worship last week, so there's a gap in the Genesis notes, but here's where it picks up again. Pastor Paul spoke more on the unraveling narrative of Issac, Jacob and Esau. He spent a lot of time more so on the topical side of things, addressing themes of God's election and various viewpoints of God's interaction with the world, then touched on the passages more specifically.

Genesis 26: 34 - 27: 45 talks about the stolen blessing. Isaac had planned to bypass God's will and just give Esau the blessing, but Rebbecca schemed to have Jacob get it instead. It's all a big mess, but as pastor said, God's will is accomplished in spite of us. God's election is at work here, and in Gen. 25 we God's election at work in the two nations in the womb, Jacob and Esau.

Pastor Paul went on to elaborate some of the misconceptions of God's role in the universe. Some of the worldviews that he pointed out and spoke about were:

  • Deism - God created everything and left it all alone.
  • Pantheism - God is in everything and not distinct from the creation.
  • Everything just by chance (as opposed to providence)
  • Impersonal faith - "Things just happen. That's just how the world is", etc.
So Pastor spoke about the errors of these various views, and identified how God's providence means that He is continually involved with all things. He also identified the idea of preservation, that God holds all things together. All things are created through Him and for Him. If it wasn't for this, the rules of the universe wouldn't be constant and things would just fall apart.

Another question addressed was that, if God in in control, then why is there evil? Pastor Paul pointed out that often bad things, or things that seem bad to us at the time, are there as part of God's direction leading to good. He pointed out the example of Joseph, who was taken from his family and brought into slavery. From this "bad" situation, Joseph, given the ability from God to interpret dreams, was able to rise in prominence to being second in command of Egypt, second only to the Pharaoh, and from this position, he was able to not only save his family but also ultimately the people of Israel.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Genesis 26: 6-11

Greg Parker spoke on Genesis 26: 6-11, and continued the theme of God's multi-generational faithfulness narrative through the life of Isaac. Again the theme apparent here is God's faithfulness in working through sinful individuals as we see here Isaac repeating the sin of his father Abraham - namely that of lying about his wife Rebecca (as Abraham did in Gen. 12:10). The text tells us that Abimelech, believing Rebecca to be Isaac's sister was both of them laughing (and in some translations, in "intimate dialog") with one another and knew he had been told a lie.

It's easy to perceive Isaac as a bridge between Abraham and Jacob, as we don't know much about his life. We know of the miraculous situation of his birth, the sacrifice, and his marriage, but otherwise not much else. From the previous week, we also know that he had a fondness for wild game, and exercised a favoritism towards Esau.

Looking ahead to the book of Hebrews, we read about how Isaac was identified as one of the "by faith" individuals and how Isaac invoked the future blessings of Jacob and Esau. His sin of lying is not mentioned by the writer of Hebrews. In spite of his shortcomings, God forgave them and Isaac was remembered as an inportant member of the Messianic line.

I missed some details of the message as I needed to care for a crabby baby during the service (it's integrated worship, so no nurseries here) but I thought that Greg did a good job with the message. As I understand it, he's done speaking before but this was his first sermon at Gfbc, and he's clearly been blessed by God with the ability to teach from the Word.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gen. 25:1-18

For the beginning verses of Genesis 25, Pastor Voddie spoke about the life of Isaac and his somewhat minimal narrative in the Bible. With Isaac, his importance is defined in terms of who he's connected to in terms of God's covenantal promise.

(Voddie touched on the "controversy" around Gen. 25:1 and his other offspring, and what was the situation that empowered him to have more children. Was it his "rejuvenation", that allowed him to have Isaac, also something that allowed him to have other children as well? The issue with Keturah and whether she was a wife or concubine is interesting but ultimately not important. One interesting note is that Keturah bore Midian, and later on with will be the Midianites who took Joseph out of the well to sell to the Ishmaelites.)

The various promises that shape the life of Isaac include God's promise to provide offspring for barren Abraham, as well as the land of Caanan. We also see through God's promise that Ishmael would be a great nation an example of Abraham's unfaithfulness, and presents the account of another son who does not get to be the promised one. Abraham did not have to sin to fulfil the promise. Ishmael was set against Isaac, and this is still manifest to this day.

In terms of the messianic linage, through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc, we see that it wasn't from the goodness and sinlessness of these individuals that God called them to be of the chosen line. Rather, God used this lineage of sinful men to lead up to Christ, the one through whom forgiveness of sins would be offered.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Radicals

The Radicals is a fascinating film about the "radical" reformation, or Anabaptist movement of the 14th century, and the tragic story of Michael and Margatetha Sattler. The film, though low-budget, is an excellent account of this movement that defied both the catholic church and other protestant reformers of the time.

The Sattlers joined up with the Anabaptist group and presented teachings that challenged those of the State, and of many protestant reformers. As this movement continued to grow, they faced horrendous persecution, and this video does NOT go light on the details of torture and execution (strong enough that I would not recommend this film for families with young children.)

What was interesting too, to me as an old Star Trek fan was seeing Mark Lenard (Spock's Dad) appear as Michael Sattler's nemesis. He's an excellent actor, and did a tremendous job in this role. Having seen him as a vulcan appealing to Klingons in the United Federation of Planets, it can be a little difficult seeing him outside of that role, but all the same, he does a great job.

The Radicals is a very moving film, and gives an excellent narrative of the early movement of the Anabaptists, their beliefs, and the horrendous persecution that they suffered from the catholic church. The DVD also includes some excellent extras, such as a documentary on the Anabaptists and chapter introductions setting the historical context. Worth checking out, but again, viewer discretion advised for the graphic torture sequences.

"Better a prison of stone than a prison of false conviction."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Message translation: like a bad movie you just have to finish watching...

I'm drawing close to the end of the Message translation of the Holy Bible, and now I'm firmly convinced that Eugene Peterson really had no idea what he was doing in this translation. I've just finished the letters to Timothy, and in addition to some of the sillier translations of familar passages, now, apparently, there are no gender restrictions to church leadership (per ch. 5, "Don't promote people to church leadership too hastily." Now it's people in leadership?) It just feels like this is the translation written for a United Methodist congregation, that just missed the mark of providing a literal translation of the holy text. I found this online, too, that offers a good identification of questionable areas of the translation, and is worth checking out for anyone considering picking up this tranlation.

It's sad to make this comparison, but the Message translation/distortion of the Scriptures is like a bad movie, that you just have to see to the end to justify the purchase cost ($10 at Lifeway. And on a related note, I'm becoming convinced of something that Pastor Baucham once said, that "Christian" bookstores like Lifeway need to put signs on their doors that say "the views expressed inside are not necessarily that of Christ and the Bible" (or words to that effect.)

On the surface, the idea behind the Message is a good one: roll the text out in a more easy to consume format for contemporary readers. But at the cost of compromising the integrity of the original MESSAGE, the Message misses the mark. I wonder if I can make a return to Lifeway, on grounds of Scriptural errancy in the translation?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rap-Con Rapture Meter?

Although I think that the Bible says that "no man knows the time" of the end times, I think this site has some interesting news presentations that are, if anything, curious indicators that we could very well be living at the end of the age. I've never seen a rapture-meter before, but it's a clever idea (if debatable in it's accuracy.)

Monday, August 10, 2009

More thoughts on the Message

I've finished the Old Testament translation of the Message, and now I'm into Matthew's gospel, and while some of the translation has been engaging through the Old Testament text, once we get into the gospels, the narrative seems to get a bit strange. Having recently studied Matt. 7 at church, I'm pretty sure that the translator is taking some liberties with some of the text, as if he's writing what he THINKS the text is stating, but which it actually isn't. Still, I'm going to see it through even though I would NOT recommend this translation to others.

Also, if anyone else, like me, transferred the Message MP3's from the disks to MP3 player and did not want to hear the frothy and mostly irrelevant mini-sermons between each book, here's the easy way to get rid of these fast from a CMD prompt...

Matt. 7:7-14

Some notes on Voddie's message about Matt. 7:7-14. Up to this point, the messages of the Beatitudes have focused on our role as Kingdom citizens, followed by the six antithesis ("you've hear it said... I say..."), and then Jesus addressed practical issues (prayer, fasting, giving, etc.). In Ch. 7, the sermon on the mount comes to a close. One of the things that pastor pointed out was that this message wasn't just aimed at "heathens and pagans", but rather it's about believers looking at the Pharisee's, the most righteous folks there were, and being directed to EXCEED their righteousness. And it's impossible to exceed that righteousness outside of the work of Christ alone.

v. 13-14 speak of the straight and narrow paths (Jer. 21:8 - "The way of life, the way of death"). Voddie spoke about the Christian life, and how it must be entered into intentionally. He addressed the more nominal approach to Christianity, that when asked "are you a Christian?", tend to reply with "I go to church", "I was raised a Christian", or "I've been a Christian all my life" (the later of which goes against the viewpoint of entering the Christian life intentionally, but rather makes it sound like an accidental pursuit.) Christianity is not an accidental endeavor, but instead is founded on repentance and faith (Mark 1 - "repent and believe"). To state that "I've been a believer all my life" is a theological impossibility.

Voddie pointed out that we all, by default, find the "wide gate" (the doctrine of original sin). We need to find the narrow gate. We seek it and petition God, with faith and repentance. So many churches this day teach an easy salvation, with belief without repentance, or acknowledgement of the burden of sin. The world wants to believe in Jesus "meek and mild", not the final judge who will convict us based upon our sins. We all deserve the death on the cross.

The expectation, as well, as that we will experience persecution as part of our walk. Modern teaching ("Best Life Yet" stuff) teaches that you should believe to escape persecution (in other words, they have the system backwards.) We learn from the Word that the one who endures to the end will be saved, not the one who just says "the sinner's prayer". We are encouraged to endure patiently.

Pastor also taught that our sin nature makes it difficult to find the narrow gate, as it's surrounded by the wide path. But our companions are few on this road. Language on the broad road, about the narrow road, is that the narrow-road travelers are "over committed", or "they're taking it too far." Responses like "Do you think we're wrong when there are THOUSANDS at our church, or because God is blessing our church?" This was a really good point, as I've struggled with how the local UM church can be so enormous, while being so shallow in it's teaching. The broad road is convenient, easy Christianity. Church on Sunday then go home and live as you like for a week.

We are exhorted to watch ourselves, and test ourselves. Jesus is the author and finished of our faith, and we should never adopt an attitude of, as Pastor said, "Thanks for dying, Jesus, but I did the rest myself." Endurance is evidence of our salvation - it's not a result of sheer credit to our own efforts. Salvation is about more than a "sinners prayer" on a specific date and time written in a Bible somewhere. It's about repentance, because you fully know and understand that you are a sinner deserving eternal wrath (and not just repentance in thinking that we are comparably less-wicked than the "Hitlers" of the world). Repentance and faith in the person and work of Christ alone.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


A favorite hymn of mine, particularly the last verse: "Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host, And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost: Alleluia, Alleluia!" More background here.

For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Apostles’ glorious company,
Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Annihilationism by Benjamin B. Warfield

Here's a good article on the topic of Annihilationism by B.B. Warfield. Annihilationism, aside from being hard to type and not appearing in spellcheck application, is the teaching that Hell means destruction for a non-believer, not eternal, conscience torment. I was introduced to this idea a by a work called "Two Views of Hell" that my Dad used to own, and I've been strongly convinced that this viewpoint is consistent with scripture. I'm linking the Warfield article here, but I'd recommend the "Two Views of Hell" book, which is actually a theological dialog of both sides of the issue.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ruth 3:7-9

I've always found this particular portion of Ruth a little strange, where Ruth uncovers the feet of Boaz:

Ruth 3:7-9 When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down. In the middle of the night something startled the man, and he turned and discovered a woman lying at his feet. "Who are you?" he asked.
"I am your servant Ruth," she said. "Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer."

I recently listened to Ruth again on MP3, and this one had me curious. I did a little research, and also asked a Rabbi about any meaning behind "uncovering feet", and his comments were basically that there's really nothing more to read out of this than, when you uncover your feet at night, you get cold and you wake up! The passages sort of support this, too: something startled Boaz and he woke up (no doubt, having chilly feet added to a sense of alarm) and then the text continues. Nothing like waking up startled with cold feet!

Curious thing is, I always sleep with my feet uncovered, so not sure how this verse would work for me, heh, but all the same, this was just one of those minor things I've wondered about in my study of the Word. The book of Ruth is a beautiful book of the Bible and paints a very beautiful image of romance within the cultural context of Old Testament Israel, and also reveals how, through this union the lineage of David would be established, and ultimately, the Messiah.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Matt. 7:1-6

I didn't get to church Sunday due to a flat tire (I didn't want to drive the fam with a donut on the van) so here are last week's sermon notes, when Pastor Paul spoke on the infamous "judge not" passage of the gospel account of Matthew. Past Paul pointed out how this is one of the most abuse/abused passage in our post-modern culture, in which there are no absolutes. This is frequently taken out of context and used as a stick to beat back Christians. But the text is actually not saying do not judge, but rather, don't judge hypocritically. If you know the law and don't follow the law, and then judge someone else in regards to what the law says, you judge hypocritically. In our post-modern society, the modern world does not want to be challenged in their beliefs and practices, and, ironically, once given a judgment, the world replies with "you're being judgmental and harsh" (basically, evidencing hypocrisy in return.)

Pastor pointed out some of the recent examples from the headlines, such as the AIG folks testifying before congress. Basically, the spotlight was put on these corrupt executives and their spending, while at the same time the congress is just as guilt of spending ridiculous sums of money that it doesn't have. I thought this was an excellent parallel of modern-day hypocrisy in our own time.

Nominal Christians were also addressed in the message - those individuals who abide by the name Christian yet who live by a pattern of life that is immoral. They need to hear the word hypocrite, as a judgment being made against those who claim to be believers but don't evidence it in their walk. Shepherds (elders) are called to judge wolves in their flock, and in today's churches there is often (sadly) very little actual church discipline or accountability.

The text speaks of "why do you see the speck in your brother's eye".... in other terms, pride. You can't judge rightly with a log in your own eye, and you need to take care of your own sin's before addressing the sins of another. Another angle of this that Pastor Paul pointed out was that we tend to find something that we happen to do particularly well, and we judge everyone else by that standard (in other words, name an area you happen to be strong in, and judge everyone else by that.) This is just as much an example of hypocrisy.

We are all obligated, out of love for others, to help them out of their sin. And if you proclaim the gospel to others and the reaction is an adversarial one, do not continue to give the pearls of the gospel to be trampled. You're obligation is over, and you don't have to continue to proclaim the Word to those who reject. The Sadducees and Pharisees heard the gospel then turned and condemned Christ. If the gospel is rejected, we should pray for those who reject the message.

I thought the last part was one of the most convicting to me, and one of the most difficult: it's hard to get to the point where, when the gospel has been shared and rejected, to just accept this and move on (especially when this is in regards to a close friend or family member.) But at this point, the matter is in the Lord's hand, and our responsibility really becomes to pray for the lost friend or family member, that the Holy Spirit will draw them back to repentance and belief.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

John Calvin's 500th Birthday

It's intesting (and a little unusual) to read about John Calvin in, of all places, the AP, but in Yahoo! news there's a collection of John Calvin images in a slideshow. Calvin, in addition to being a principle figure historically in reformed theology, also wrote a remarkable collection of works that I wish I had more time to read and study (namely his commentaries.) Remarkable theologian (but mistaken on his views of credobaptism.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Matt. 6:25ff

Last week Voddie spoke on Matt. 6:25ff and I never got around to recording my notes and thoughts on these passages. The message addressed "anxiety" and the thought behind this is that anxiety, contextually, is not always bad or sinful, and this helps in establishing the context of Matt. 6. Throughout Paul's teaching, there are usages of the term "anxious" (I Cor. 7:32, Phil. 2:20) in which the usage of this term is not sinful (with the I Cor. passage, the teaching is that the unmarried man is "anxious" in a positive sense about pleasing God.)

Voddie also talked about some of the distorted teaching of this day and age, namely the "prosperity gospel" that distorts Christianity into health, wealth, and material things all as a sign of blessing, or more specifically, redefining our purpose as existing to acquire things (as told in books like "The Secret" and other works aimed at nominal Christians.) The false teaching here is that God is little more than a genie listening to us, granting us whatever we like. Our mainstream culture is anxious about getting "things", when Christ taught the exact opposite. And beyond just things, the thinking can also extend into marriage, that finding the perfect partner will be the satisfying end (until the point that the person says, "they don't satisfy me" [in an eternal sense, they never will]).

Verse 27 speaks about how anxiety is unproductive, and how, as an example, anxiety in a marriage relationship can be compounded, or unnecessarily multiplied (e.g. spouse is upset over something, husband isn't, wife expresses concern that husband "doesn't care", etc, etc..) This is a good point, and I think it really hit close to home for a lot of people (self included... :)

He also pointed out that anxiety is ultimately a symptom of faithless self-reliance. Verse 28 speaks about how God has given us life, and yet we still do not believe that God can meet our EVERY need, no matter how insignificant. The false distortion of this is that if you see God's kingdom that he'll give you treasure and riches. As Voddie pointed out, you don't do "A" to get "B". You do "A" and don't worry about "B". At a very basic level, this text is talking about God's provisions of clothing and food (the basics) and not gold, jewels, sports cars, mansions, etc. God will see to it that you have food and clothing. I'm reminded of another message on this text, too, that talks about the DAILY reliance that we should have on God for provisions of food and clothing. It's not something to pray about once, but rather daily, as the Lord's prayer states, "give us this day our daily bread", which implies a daily reliance of God to provide for us.

Statistics show that one-half to two-thirds of the world live on roughly $2 a day. In light of the "prosperity gospel" of seeking spirituality for wealth and treasure, are we to assume that those in this poor population are not "seeking the kingdom"? Of course not. Americans are incredibly blessed and wealthy people, and this wealth can also be an incredible burden (and ultimately, an interference between us and God.)
To me, so much of this text brings home to me the message in works such as "Imitation of Christ", that talk in great detail of our sanctification by avoiding the material of the world to grow closer to God. Things of the world tend to be a hindrance in our walk, and there is considerable blessing in simplicity.

The text of Matt. 6:25ff should not be abuse: this is not endorsing a "prosperity gospel" that we should seek to grow closer to God in order to gain material "blessings." Rather, this texts speaks of reliance on God to provide for our basic needs such as food and clothing, and gives instruction to avoid fruitless, godless anxiety, which is nothing more than faithless self-reliance. Trust in God and know that He will provide for your needs.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Message Bible on MP3 and unnecessary intermission segments

I've listened to several books of the Bible in the Message translation on MP3, and aside from some silly translations in the Psalms it's not bad. It does have me hungry, though, to hear the Word again but in a more mature translation, such as the NKJV or NASB.

One thing completely unnecessary, though, are these sappy intermission segments between books read (and written by?) Carol Nix. There's nothing to glean from these whatsoever, and as I've been transferring the books of the Message translation, I've been deleting these. Ironically, they are by Carol Nix, and I've been nixing these from my MP3 player...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

More thoughts on Matt: 6:19-24 and treasure on earth

I'm still kicking around the message in my head from a few weeks ago, about Matt. 6:19-24 and Christ's teaching about not building up one's "treasures on earth." Pastor played down the angle of the Christian possessing wealth with the (somewhat tired) expression of "there's nothing wrong with a Christian having wealth", which unfortunately I've heard from a few too many pulpits over the years, and each time I hear it I have trouble with it. In a way, it feels as if the teacher is trying to appease the token rich person/people in the audience, or it could just be a type of spiritual complacency towards Christian wealth possession, as if this, if anything, is just one of the "lesser sins". I dunno. My struggle is, if anything, taking for granted the DESTRUCTIVE power that money has in a person's life (my own life is no exception. I'm dirt poor and saddled with plenty of debt, but that doesn't mean that the world of the material doesn't hold sway on my heart and hinder the progress of my own sanctification. Don't even get me started in dreaming about some of the cool stuff they have at Frys...)

Anyhow, let me try to break out my thoughts out this a little more, in my own reasoning, at least. When a pastor says that "there's nothing wrong with a Christian having a lot of money," to me this is similar to saying, "There's nothing wrong with a Christian who wants to live on snake island" (with the number of venomous snakes directly proportional to the amount of earthly wealth.) Is there anything wrong with living on snake island? In and of itself, no. But the greater the number of snakes, the greater the likelihood that the individual can get struck, and venom can infiltrate one's life. Wealth in abundance can sometimes be like a venom: corrosive bodily and potentially lethal. But the snakes may never strike, and the venom may not be an issue. But the RISK factor is there.

It's not my intention to judge or condemn here: a believer with great wealth has a type of blessing from God (I do NOT believe that wealth is always a blessing though. I've been MASSIVELY blessed in my own life, and I have been and remain to this day dirt poor financially.) I'm breaking this down because, frankly, I've been kicking around in my own head how I'd ever handle great wealth if God brought this into my life. Say my web comic is picked up by a major studio (don't laugh, it could happen.... ok, it won't ever happen) but say I'm introduced to wealth - how would this translate into my walk? What does wealth do to the heart of a believer, and is it's influence ultimately more corrosive than anything? Is it more of a blessing to NOt receive wealth? What was Jesus really getting at in his message in Matt. 6 (and in other texts, such as when he tells the rich young ruler to sell what he had and give it all to the poor. Why does something like that seem so unthinkable this day an age?)

Just some pondering lately. Happy 4th. May God continue to bless this nation.

Friday, July 3, 2009

How to read the Bible easily in a year

One of my resolutions for the year was to read the entirety of the Bible this year, and I just recently finished it. This is how.

1) Find a cheap MP3 player. You don't need to get a top of the line iPod thing, but you can easily pick up a half-decent MP3 player at Walmart for around $30. I've got an old Coby MP3 player that I've been using for a long, long time (I've had to purchase more memory, as one of my cards died recently, but memory isn't expensive.) The player will likely have a couple of gig built into it. I think the ESV required about 4 GIG, so I only loaded up about half of it, and then once finished, deleted it and loaded the second half.

2) Pick up a copy of the Bible on ESV. You can get a relatively inexpensive copy of this from Christian Book Distributors for about $11.

3) Start doing dishes and cleanup and laundry at night, and put on the MP3 and headset and listen away. I've found that, while doing chores, my brain just recycles nonsense, news, politics, or old television theme songs if I don't feed it with something, so having a steady stream of the Word has been a wonderful blessing. There is such a richness to listening to the Bible, and since chores take up part of every day, why not multi-task and include the Word with it?

This system has worked for me, and I was able to finish the entirety of the ESV from Jan-June, and now I'm listening to the Message tranlation on MP3 (it's a little cheesy at times, but the translation actually did an excellent job with how it described the reign of Josiah and his destruction of the false gods from the land.)

MP3 player + the Bible + chores = a good way to multi-task and grow in the Word.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Matt. 6:19-24

Pastor Paul spoke on Matt. 6:19-24 this week, the "treasures" part of Christ's message, and here are some of the notes from the message, in addition to my own thoughts. The subject of money is always a touchy one from the pulpit, and I can't help but wonder, whenever I hear the topic addressed in a sermon, if the teacher has to deliberately hold back so as not to offend anyone (or, more specifically, offend any wealthy folks in the audience.) I've personally struggled with this topic, so I'm always glad to hear new teachings on the topic, and for the most part, I agree with most of what Pastor spoke about, with some exceptions.

The passages covered were:

Matt: 6:19-24 - Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

The gist of the message is that Jesus encourages us to lay up treasures in heaven, and that we need to be careful how we invest our treasure, especially in light of the fact that we live in a culture growing increasingly antagonistic towards God. The message addressed the Pharisees, who focused on earthly rewards. They loved money, selling in the temple, taking widow's houses, etc, and their religion was similar to the "prosperity gospel" of today.

Pastor Paul mentioned that wealth, in and of itself is not a bad thing, but it's how you use it. Here's where my struggle was. I'm not sure that I agree that wealth isn't a bad thing. I think it's one of those mixed blessings: having a lot of money and things can be nice, but ultimately becomes something of a burden (e.g. storing your "stuff", protecting your money, etc) and a contention I've had for a long time is, is it reasonable for a Christian to live in a mongo-huge house driving a top-of-the-line sports car, or does this reflect a negative testimony to the non-believer who sees the Christian living a less-than-humble lifestyle? So on the other side of this, then, would this mean that Christians should dress in rags? I'm reminded of a message from "The Imitation of Christ" by Thomas A'Kempis, where I think he makes comments to that regard.... I need to write a commentary on "Imitation of Christ" one of these days. It's such a remarkable book.)

Anyhow, the gist of the message was that the earth makes a poor storehouse for treasure (what with the moth, rusts, thieves and all... :) that that our true treasures should be vested in heaven. But I couldn't help but think that the message seemed a little more angled towards a message of, "wealth is a reality, and there's nothing wrong with having wealth, but be careful how you use it." And that's sort of true, but I personally only see the corrupting influences of excessive wealth, and the display of wealth (houses, cars, clothes, things) outwardly reflects the heart.

Richard Foster is another writer who comes to mind. Ages ago I read "Celebration of Discipline", and while the book isn't perfect, I can appreciate reading his sections on humility, or more specifically, "simplicity". While sort of skirting the edges of legalism, Foster would making points about living more of a utilitarianistic life: e.g. getting a car that functions and works, not one that looks like a luxury-SUV-metallic dinosaur (ok, that last part was my own description, but you get the idea.) And I believe there is a truth there to the importance of humility and utilitarianism: living practically and showing caution in what we own and showcase to the world. I think humility and practical living, and I personally understand this to be a step of our sanctification: drawing further from the things of the world and closer to God.

The Message - Initial Thoughts

I generally listen to portions of the Bible daily on my older-than-time Coby MP3 player, and currently I have a copy of the Message translation that I've been hearing. My initial thoughts are that, as far as translations go, it tends to be childish and a little silly, yet by "toning down" some of the language it does make books like Leviticus a little more easy going. However, after listening to some of the Psalms yesterday, I can't help but notice that some of these translations tend to be a little off the wall. For instance:

Psalm 1: "You don't hang out at sin saloon" (?)

Psalm 37: "A banana peel lands them on their face" (??)

Psalm 53: "Treating people like a fast food meal over which they're too busy to pray"

It seems like Eugene Peterson is going just a little easy with some of these interpretations and maybe taking a little too much liberty. But all the same, I'm going to listen to the entire translation before I make my final verdict (I'm actually curious to see how "modern-sounding" he can be with a book like II Chronicles... :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Matt: 6:5-15

Pastor Paul spoke on Matt: 6:5-15 this weekend, and I wanted to record some of the sermon notes and also include my own thoughts on this. This was a particularly applicable message to me this week, and really hit home in light of recent changes at my employer which I'll get to later into these notes. In this message, Pastor Paul related how the theme throughout this portion of Matt. 6 is forgiveness, and how forgiveness is the doorway to our adoption, and marks the authenticity of our adoption (being brought in and given access to the Father.)
The Lord's prayer portion of this text starts at vs.9 with

"This, then, is how you should pray: " 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

The question here is, do you hold God's name and word as holy? I think it's noteworthy that this is how the prayer opens, with a focus on reverence and respect for the name of God. The most important thing at the onset of the prayer is, reverence the name of God the Father.

your kingdom come,

Poses the question - is the kingdom of Christ ruling/reigning in your life?

your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

This petition of the prayer is asking Christ to reign. We pray for a return of Christ's physical kingdom on earth, and that everything will become subject to His will, both in our lives and in the world.

Give us today our daily bread.

The teaching here is that God is our provider. Psalms 104:14 teaches us that He causes grass to grow and provides vegetation for the needs of man. All creation depends on Him. The teaching here is also one of daily reliance on God; not just for food, but for all things. Pastor Paul noted the example of George Mueller, the missionary who labored for the orphans of Bristol, England. Often the orphanage would have no food or resources for the children, but through Mueller's faithfulness in prayer and complete dependence on God, provisions were made to feed the orphans.

The question posed here also is one of contentment: are you content with perhaps limited food, or are you, like Israel, murmuring in the wilderness. In my own work situation, I've been seeing things change for the worse recently, with more and more roles and responsibilities shifting off-shore. And the temptation is to lose hope, but instead I need to trust in God to provide for our daily bread, and not to be anxious about anything. Daily I should seek God's provision and trust in Him to provide.

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

We need to have a spirit of constant forgiveness. Sin is a debt, and we owe our Father an obedience that we can never provide of ourselves, so outside of Christ's work on our behalf, we will always be in a debt that we cannot repay. Our debt is a multiplied one: there is no shifting any of it, or blaming it away. If you are a debtor, seek forgiveness.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

We need the protection of our Father. We pray that God will grant us the strength to stand against our enemies, and our prayers should encompass our families, our children, and for those in leadership. We all face temptations and need to trust in Christ to stand strong against temptation.

vs. 14-15 speak about forgiving others of their sins. Children of God, as Pastor Paul pointed out, do not keep a laundry list of offenses. Everyone, through their sins, offends the Father, even those who are saved by Christ. We need to not become complacent in our saved state and neglect to seek forgiveness of our sins.

Forgiveness of others is not a meritorious act. It is a duty that we have because of God's forgiveness of us. If you forgive someone and they do not accept the forgiveness, pray for them. We are to forgive, and Christ forgave, freely.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Excellent map of Church History links and reading

There is a wealth of good information at regarding church history and the various directions the church has taken through the ages. The links are plentiful and there is a lot of good reading material here. is a great platform for a number of excellent sites, including the Pyromaniacs blog that I try to follow daily.

Luke 24:13-25 The Road to Emmaus

I've been discussing communion and the concept of transubstantiation with an Anglican friend of mine, and wanted to record some general thoughts about the idea of the Lord's Supper sacrament being more than just a symbolic reminder of the Lord's sacrifice, specifically in regards to Luke 24:13-25. My friend cited this Luke passage to indicate that for these two individuals (Cleopas and his friend) that a revelation of Christ was given to them as they broke bread with the resurrected Jesus - or in other words, Christ was not revealed to them until they partook of the meal, implying that there is something more to the meal, in terms of the revelation given to those taking of the meal.

I dug into these passages, and responded with some of John MacArthur's comments from my study Bible, that Christ, in His resurrected body was *glorified*, and that his appearance was altered from what it was previously (Mary Magdaline didn't recognize Him at first in John 20.) And in a larger sense, if Christ was imparting some special revelation through the breaking of bread with these two, why was it only to these two people and not all of the disciples, as recorded in Scripture?

Another thing I brought up was the idea that with Catholics/Lutherans (and the high-church denominations), my own observation is that the elements are often offered to the congregation WITHOUT the admonition/caution presented by Paul in I Cor. 11. In other words, when you attend a Catholic Mass, the priest generally says some words in Latin, then the elements are presented, unguarded (without an admonition for self-examination, resolution of sins with brother, etc.) and anyone, regardless of the state of their heart, can partake of this sacrament. I believe that Scripture cautions against taking the meal lightly, and that there needs to be a guarding of the elements, and that the meal is only observed/taken by those professing believers who have examined their hearts, completely understand the meaning of the meal, and who have no unresolved sins with their brothers. In a typical mass, ANYONE can line up to take the elements and the table is completely unguarded. I think this goes against what Paul speaks about in I Cor. 11, and is ultimately dangerous to the individual partaking of the elements (as per Paul's warning) and to the church itself. Is there a special revelation granted through partaking of the meal? I'm more convinced that the meal serves as a public reminder of Christ's sacrifice and the importance of this in the life of believers. Is there a spiritual revelation from this meal? I'm more convinced that revelation if given the believer from Scripture alone, through the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer.

Now whether or not I believe the person taking the Lord's supper elements needs to be Baptized or not, I'm not completely sure about yet. Could a newly-converted, yet unbaptized individual partake of the Lord's supper, knowing what it means and what it entails? I would say yes, although some churches (like my own) would guard the table from those who have not been baptized in Christ's name.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Isaiah 58:10

Isaiah 58:10 "And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday."

Friday, June 5, 2009

Matt 5:43ff

Pastor Baucham spoke on the rest of Matthew 5 from vs. 43 to the end of the chapter, and here are some general notes.  In one sense, at this part in the message it's a summary of everything that's been said so far, and in another way, it's a foreshadowing of what's to come.  
We need to turn from the attitude of being nice to those who are nice to us, or "I will only speak to those who are nice to me" mentality.  Pastor pointed out that loving your enemy isn't about sappy sentimentalism or the false "Grecco-Roman" definition of love.  Rather, love is "an act of the will accompanied by emotion leading to action of behalf of the object" (glad that pastor repeated that one a few times, as I had a hard time jotting that down completely.  It's an excellent observation.)
As an example of this love, the people of Israel, while under the bondage of captivity to Babylon, were still instructed to serve their captors and pray for them, without having to "like" what had happened to them (e.g. sappy sentimentalism).
He made the point that our love of our enemies is motivated by our love for God.  We love them, whether we feel like it or not.  If you don't believe in a God of punishment, vengeance and a literal Hell, then all you can really do is hold a grudge.  And I do believe in a literal Hell, but I differ on whether or not the punishment is eternal (I read an excellent book on the annihilationistview of hell and eternal punishment that I hope to review here soon.)
Love of our enemies is a byproduct of a regenerated life.
Pastor cites Jonah as an example of someone who didn't want to preach to his enemies in Nineveh.  Yet God was merciful to these people, and Jonah was angry about this.  The question God could ask of Jonah would be, "Jonah, why would you deserve mercy and the people of Nineveh would not?"

Monday, June 1, 2009


I listened to a SermonAudio message by Les Walthers yesterday on the topic of sanctification. And although the audio quality of the mp3 left something to be desired, the message was a good one. Two views brought up by Pastor Walthers in the message were those of, on one side, perfectionism, a view not taught in the Bible (and ultimately one impossible to hold to) and on the other side, the view that sin isn't all that serious and doesn't need to bother the believer.

The writer of Hebrews speaks of sanctification with the instruction to "pursue holiness", and that we should be especially set apart for God. Sanctification is just as important in the believers life as is our justification.

Pastor Walthers elaborated on three different categories of sanctification:
  1. The sanctification of God (such as described in the book of Ezekiel: God is set apart from the false gods of the time)
  2. The sanctification of Man (in the Old Testament, this was a sanctification of self through separation from what was unclean)
  3. The sanctification of the Redeemer (John 17 speaks about how Jesus sanctified Himself)
Another point made in the message was aimed at the unbelieving spouse (from I Cor. 7:12-14) in which the unbelieving spouse is sanctified through the believing spouse. In this situation, the non-believing partner is privileged to witness a living display of the gospel.

Sanctification is about the believer being set apart more and more for God. This is a continuing process by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Here's a link to Pastor Walther's message.

Monday, May 18, 2009

John Macarthur sermons free online (tons of them)

I've greatly enjoyed and benefited from the teaching ministry of John Macarthur, from messages heard both online and that I catch on the radio, and I'm glad that there is an extensive (exhaustive) collection of his messages online, free for downloading.  Macarthur offers clear, engaging Biblical teaching and it's a genuine blessing that so many of his messages can be accessed online freely.

Matt. 5:38-42

Pastor Paul spoke this week on the next section of the Beatitudes, ch. 5:38-42, and what Christ really taught with the message of "turning the other cheek" and the related text.  He pointed out the trend of moral laxity found throughout pulpits in the last two generations, including a negation of Biblical divine law in light of a "God who loves everyone", and the ultimately negative effect this has had in the church globally.

In regards to "turning the other cheek", this message isn't speaking about being a pacifist and letting yourself be stomped on with no resistance, nor is it an endorsement of the pacifist, anti-war standpoint.  Rather what these passages are getting at being able to receive insults and persecution for your faith, and being willing to "turn the other cheek" and receive the insults without retaliation.  It's about receiving attacks on our dignity, and isn't about just laying down and dying, or martyrdom carried to the extreme.  The believer has moral obligations to care for an protect his family.  But having "thick skin", and being able to receive mockery and insults for your faith, which is one of the key components of being a follower of Christ.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Matt 5:33-37

Pastor Dave spoke about Matt 5:33-37 this past weekend, and I wanted to jot down some notes on this particular passage of scripture.  Here Jesus is speaking about oaths and vows, and the important of avoiding vain, rash and frivolous oaths.  Ultimately the message was about the fact that, at the time, the Pharisees were casually making oaths in everyday conversation, and Jesus' instruction was that oath spoken should be done seriously.  It was worth noting that Jesus did not forbid swearing oaths, so a Christian is still obligated to situation in life where oaths are a requirement (such as marriage oaths, swearing an oath of honestly before a court, etc.) and Pastor Dave also pointed out a number of passages throughout the Bible where oaths played an important part, such as throughout the account of the patriarchs, for example.  It was not coincidentally that this message from Christ in the Beatitudes followed immediately after teaching on marriage and the importance of the marriage vow.

Swearing by God's name is a form of worshipping Him.  To swear by something else, such as the earth or heaven, angels, saints, etc, takes the honor that belongs to God and asserts it to something else.  Ultimately, the issue here is about idolatry, and we diminish God's glory when there is not a sincerity solely in God's name within the oaths that we swear.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The musings of Ludosomnus

Bellicus Ludosomnus, the little-known faux-reformer and an obscure sub-plot character from my webcomic .  Largely forgotten by history, his name and teachings were maintained by numerous (albeit quiet) followers through the ages, the Ludosomnitarians.  This blog is dedicated to him and his theological musings.  Or at the very least, it's the only available blogspot name I could find.

Actually, the fact is, there are a number of things theological I'd like to blog about: namely, books I'm reading, sermons I've listened to, and even sermon notes that I'd like to record and comment about online.  That's that this blog is for.  This content doesn't fit over at the normal webcomic site , so I'll cover it here.