Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Life Lived Worthy of the Gospel

Only let your manner of life be worthy [Greek: Only behave as citizens worthy] of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel. (Philippians 1:27 ESV)

This past Sunday, visiting pastor Jon Payne (Sovereign Grace, Gilbert, AZ) preached a wonderful and challenging message, "Living in a Manner Worthy of the Gospel." It's a must hear as we enter the new year!

And prior to the message, we sang the truths of the great hymn, Crown Him with Many Crowns (1851 Matthew Bridges, George J. Elvey).

What powerful truths this hymn conveys - truths we should oft remind ourselves throughout 2009! May each of us:
Crown Him, the Lamb upon the throne.
Hail Him, forever, the matchless King.

Crown Him, the Lord of life.
Sing the glories of Him who died, and lives, killing death for those He came to save.

Crown Him, the sovereign Lord of lords.
He was slain to ransom me, a sinner.

Crown Him, the Lord of heaven.
The King, named Love.
He is King of all - King of kings, and Lord of lords! (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 19:16 ESV)
And what wonderful names of Christ about which the hymn speaks - He's the

>> Lamb on the Throne
>> Matchless King
>> Lord of Life
>> Lord of Lords
>> Redeemer King
>> Lord of Heaven
>> King of Love
>> King of All

My prayers is that 2009 see more of His hand upon you and yours as you serve and glorify, and seek first Him and His kingdom!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Fullness of Time Has Come: His Name is Jesus, the Christ!

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:4-6, ESV)

He came, not with a heralding of trumpets, or with royal pomp and circumstance; but to blood and the sounds of his and his mother's cries. Hardly was it a "silent night."

I love this song by Andrew Peterson! He was the maker of the moon, the Author of the faith! He was, and is, the King of kings, and Lord of lords!


It was not a silent night
There was blood on the ground
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyways that night
On the streets of David's town

And the stable was not clean
And the cobblestones were cold
And little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
Had no mother's hand to hold

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love

Noble Joseph at her side
Callused hands and weary eyes
There were no midwives to be found
In the streets of David's town
In the middle of the night

So he held her and he prayed
Shafts of moonlight on his face
But the baby in her womb
He was the maker of the moon
He was the Author of the faith
That could make the mountains move

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love
For little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
It was a labor of love
(Andrew Peterson, Labor of Love, Behold The Lamb Of God, 2004, ASIN: B0006NNQBQ)

Merry Christmas! And Glory to God in the Highest (Gloria in Excelsis Deo)!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Will (& Joel's?) Gospel: One Should Know Better!

In a recent Newsweek interview (The Gospel of Will Smith, Newsweek, Nov 28, 2008), actor Will Smith was asked, "There are also rumors about you being a Scientologist. Jada has spoken about you two studying many religions, including Scientology. So are you a Scientologist?" Mr. Smith answered:

"I love the nature of humanity's search for meaning. For me I'm certain about my relationship with the model of perfection of human life that's laid out with the life of Jesus Christ. I'm certain of that. So I'm at home and not fearful when I sit in a mosque or a synagogue or a Buddhist temple, the same way that I'm home in the Church of Scientology. I like anywhere people are searching for the truth, and I respect their path and I'm intrigued by their path. I think when you are certain in and of what you believe in, you can open your mind to seeing the ways of others. I'm not bothered when someone says 'Allah' because they're talking about God - we are talking about the same person. I was in India recently and my hotel was near the Taj Mahal. Five times a day there would be a call for prayer, and it was the most beautiful thing. I was lying in my bed thinking, no matter what your religion is, it would be great to have that reminder five times a day to remember your Lord and savior."

When I read this, what immediate struck me was the similarity of this claim to that made by Joel Osteen, pastor of Houston's Lakewood Church, during his June 20, 2005 interview with Larry King:

KING: What if you're Jewish or Muslim, you don't accept Christ at all?
OSTEEN: You know, I'm very careful about saying who would and wouldn't go to heaven. I don't know ...
KING: If you believe you have to believe in Christ? They're wrong, aren't they?
OSTEEN: Well, I don't know if I believe they're wrong. I believe here's what the Bible teaches and from the Christian faith this is what I believe. But I just think that only God will judge a person's heart. I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don't know all about their religion. But I know they love God. And I don't know. I've seen their sincerity. So I don't know. I know for me, and what the Bible teaches, I want to have a relationship with Jesus.
(CNN Larry King Live, Interview with Joel Osteen, June 20, 2005)

The difference between the two is that Joel Osteen knows (or should know) better, he's just too chicken to say it, or really doesn't know the exclusivity of the Gospel - "Jesus said, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" (John 14:6, ESV)

Back to Will Smith's interview, when asked whether he was raised Baptist, he said, "Yes . . . My grandmother raised me to be a do-gooder in the church, that it was about doing what you can to help your community. So whatever religion does that - Jewish, Muslim, Scientology - it's cool because the end result is the same."

I agree. Before the separation of the sheep and the goats, the redeemed and the unregenerate, we will all, at the sound of the name of Jesus Christ, bow our knees, in heaven and on earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord! (Philippians 2:10-11, ESV)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Forgiveness: Forgive as God Forgave.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32, ESV)

Forgive. Forgive just as God, in Christ, forgave.

So, for what has God forgiven me?

For the times I've demanded that my kingdom come and be established, and not His?! Yes!

For directing my attention and affections on the temporal things of this world rather than in Him - glorifying Him and His righteousness?! Yes!

For my very own sin that mocked Him, cursed Him, and that was at enmity with God and placed Jesus Christ on the cross?! Yes! (Rom. 5:10; 8:7)

That, and more, He forgave.

And I am/we are to forgive like that?! Yes!

And if "yes," than is there anything that anyone can do to me/us that is more serious, more offensive, as what I/we did to Christ, or that I/we do all too often each and every day in the sins I/we commit in offense of His saving grace and election?! No!

So, what are you, by the power and in the grace and mercy of Him which is new every morning (Lam. 3:22-23), going to do about this?

*Sermon, John Piper, Forgive Just as God in Christ Also Has Forgiven You (Palm Sunday, March 27, 1994).
*Commentaries and other resources on the Book of Ephesians.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Cursing Things In Jesus' Name: Scriptural?

How many of us have heard prayers such as these?

"I come against the report of cancer and I curse it, in Jesus name. And I loose the healing power of Jesus Christ to work in that body, and expect a good report of healing. By faith I pray this."

"By the authority given to us by God in Christ, we speak to that infection and we curse it in Jesus name! 'Infection, you are cursed in Jesus' name.' "

Cursing things - sickness, loss of a job, the devil, things that discomfort us - in Jesus' name.

Here's my question for you -

Is to do so scriptural? Is it biblical? Is this practice evidenced to us anywhere in scripture as something Christians are to do? Does the Bible tell us anywhere to curse anything, and to use Jesus' name to do so? If so, chapter and verse please.

And if it's not biblically supported, than what should be our response to those that pray this way? Any? And how should we biblically, and sound-doctrinally, pray in such situations?