The Blood Moon…

Written By: John - Apr• 17•14

Did you see the blood moon early Tuesday?  According to some this blood moon and the three blood moons coming in the next year and a half are a sign that the end is coming.  John Hagee’s book, The Four Blood Moons: Something is About to Change,” is selling like crazy.  What are we to make of this?

In Acts 1:6 the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”  Jesus replied, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by His own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Dr. Al Mohler, in his briefing yesterday, said,

“But, as I said, this does not reflect well on us. The Bible does not tell us that we are to spend our time with our eyes on the sky, trying to determine the time when the Lord Jesus Christ will return. Instead, the Lord Himself said when He returns, He expects to find us not looking up at the sky, simply waiting for His return, not involved in all kinds of apocalyptic expectation, but rather doing what the Lord commanded us to do: being active in witnessing in missions; being active in faithful discipleship, following the Lord Jesus Christ; being active in the affairs of life that are commanded as the Scripture tells us how we are to live in this world.”

You can read the transcript of the briefing here , but I would encourage you to understand this—the time for Jesus’ return is set and there isn’t a preacher on the earth who knows that time.  We are not called to know the times set by the Father, but we are called to be a witness in the power of the Holy Spirit to the entire world.

Suffering with a View toward the New Heaven and the New Earth!

Written By: John - Apr• 16•14

On Sunday afternoon I left for a trustee meeting at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  I had tried to download two sermons on my I-pad, but for some reason I couldn’t pull them up once I was on the road.  I hit my sermon playlist and found an old sermon by John Piper entitled, “The Triumph of the Gospel in the New Heaven and New Earth.”  As I listened I was greatly encouraged and I was left with a renewed longing for the return of Christ.

Piper masterfully took his listener through the Bible…starting with Creation and showed that it was all good, but then he showed us the Fall and took us to Romans where even the creation longs for freedom from the curse.  He said,

“In other words, whereas once there was no suffering or pain or death, now every human dies, every human suffers, animals suffer, rivers overflow their banks suddenly and sweep villages away, avalanches bury skiers, volcanoes destroy whole cities, a tsunami kills 250,000 people in one night, storms sink Philippine ferries with 800 people on board, AIDS and malaria and cancer and heart disease kill millions of people old and young, a monster tornado takes out an entire Midwestern town, droughts and famines bring millions to the brink—or over the brink—of starvation. Freak accidents happen, and the son of a friend falls into a grain elevator and dies. Another loses an eye. And a baby is born with no face. If we could see one ten-thousandth of the suffering of the world at any given moment, we would collapse under the horror of it all. Only God can endure that sight and carry on.

Why did God subject the natural order to such futility because of the sin of human beings? The natural order did not sin. Humans sinned. But Paul said, “The creation was subjected to futility.” The creation was put in “bondage to corruption.” Why? God said, “Cursed be the ground because of you” (Genesis 3:17). But why? Why are there natural disasters in creation in response to moral failures in man? Why not just simple death for all the guilty offspring of Adam? Why this bloody kaleidoscope of horrific suffering century after century? Why so many children with heart-wrenching disabilities?

My answer is that God put the natural world under a curse so that the physical horrors we see around us in diseases and calamities would become vivid pictures of how horrible sin is. In other words, natural evil is a signpost pointing to the unspeakable horror of moral evil.

God disordered the natural world because of the disorder of the moral and spiritual world—that is, because of sin. In our present fallen condition, with our hearts so blinded to the exceeding wickedness of sin, we cannot see or feel how repugnant sin is. Hardly anyone in the world feels the abhorrent evil that our sin is. Almost no one is incensed or nauseated at the way they belittle the glory of God. But let their bodies be touched with pain, and God is called to give an account of himself. We are not upset at the way we injure his glory, but let him injury our little pinky finger and all our moral outrage is aroused. Which shows how self-exalting and God-dethroning we are.”

Those are powerful words, but they give us hope.  In the midst of suffering we can know that this is not all that there is.  We do not suffer hopelessly.  We do not randomly suffer.  There is a God on heaven who is conforming us into His image and who is renewing all things.  We may suffer today, but we will have a billion tomorrows, that will just be the beginning of eternity, with no hurt, no sorrow, and no death.

When we suffer we can learn from this sermon.  Piper said,

“Therefore God, mercifully, shouts to us in our sicknesses and pain and calamities: Wake up! Sin is like this! Sin leads to things like this. (See Revelation 9:20; 16:9, 11.) Preferring television to fellowship with God is like this. Desiring relief in heaven, but not desiring the Redeemer, is like this. The natural world is shot through with horrors that aim to wake us from the dream world of thinking that demeaning God is no big deal. It is a horrifically big deal.”

The New Heaven and the New Earth is coming.  Jesus came and He died and He rose from the grave and He ascended back to Heaven and He sent His Spirit to us, but He is coming again.  Let me close with the last words of Piper’s sermon,

“And the ultimate reason there is a new heavens and a new earth is because the risen Christ will never lay down his human body but keep it as an everlasting emblem of Calvary where the glory of God’s grace was most fully displayed. The whole material universe was created in the first place, and then given its new form, so that the Son of God could be incarnate as a man, suffer in the flesh, be crucified, rise from the dead, and reign as the God-man and be surrounded by a countless host of redeemed people who in our spiritual bodies sing and speak and work and play and love in ways that visibly reflect his glory most fully precisely because we have bodies in a world spiritually and physically radiant with the glory of God.”

Is God anti-gay?

Written By: John - Apr• 11•14

41QRkBc8PvL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Unless you’ve been living under a rock you know quite well that the issue of homosexuality has been at the forefront of discussion lately.  You can’t escape it—blogs, news sites, and almost every other angle of reporting has discussed it.  Statistics show that the US is becoming more and more open to homosexual marriage and homosexuality itself.  This past week I attended Together for the Gospel and sat under a steady dose of the Word of God.  In between the sermons the leaders led us through a series of panel discussion and one addressed the topic of homosexuality by interviewing Sam Allberry who recently wrote the book, Is God anti-gay?

We received a copy of the book and I read it tonight.  It didn’t take long, but it was a great read and it was a book that I think every Christian in the US should take time to read.  You can get it here.  In the introduction to the book Sam shares his story and his story uniquely enables him to address the topic in a way that many others cannot.  Sam Allberry is a single pastor who admits to struggling with same sex attraction.  He does not act upon those struggles, but he admits them and in doing so he dives into a topic with incredible insight.

I love one particular statement in the intro, “It sounds clunky to describe myself as ‘someone who experiences same-sex attraction.’  But describing myself like this is a way for me to recognize that the kind of sexual attractions I experience are not fundamental to my identity.  They are part of what I feel but are not who I am in a fundamental sense.  I am far more than my sexuality.”  That is an incredible statement and it is one that we need to wrap our arms around—I am not primarily a heterosexual pastor any more than Michael Sam is a homosexual football player—my identity is wrapped up in who I am in Christ not in my sexual attractions.

In chapter one the author deals with, “Getting started: the Bible, marriage and sex.”  In this chapter he shows the twofold purpose of marriage as it is presented in the Word of God.  He points out, “Marriage is based on gender.  Marriage would not exist without the sexual differences between men and women.”  He goes on to show why the purposes of marriage as they are presented in the Bible do not allow for same sex marriage.

In chapter two the author deals specifically with, “The Bible and homosexuality.”  He goes through each section of the Bible—both Old and New Testament—and shows what the Word actually says.  He deals with contemporary attempts to get around those passages and sums them up with this statement, “In each instance where the Bible directly addresses homosexual behavior it is to condemn it.  The consistent teaching of the Bible is clear: God forbids homosexual activity…God is opposed to all sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage.”  I love this chapter because he deals with what the Word says, but also shows from the Word that homosexuality isn’t the only sexual sin and that there is Biblical hope for all sexual sinners.

In chapter three the author deals with,  “Homosexuality and the Christian.”  In this chapter he gives very specific points of action for Christians who struggle with same sex attraction.  I think many Christians might think that a person loses all those temptation the moment they are saved.  I would ask you a simple question, did stop having any heterosexual attractions the moment you were saved?  We all battle with sin and temptation to sin.  The temptation itself is not the sin—the sin falling to the temptation.  Homosexuals and heterosexuals battle with temptation, but we can also have victory over that temptation in Christ.

Allberry admits that God can change one’s sexual attractions, but also admits that He does not always do so.  The Bible points us to two options—we can marry or we can remain single.  Jesus was single as was Paul and the Bible often points to the benefits of singleness.  We must understand that the call to follow Christ is the call to deny ourselves daily and to take up our cross and follow Him.  For the single man or woman, regardless of their attraction, the call is to remain pure and to remain holy and to avoid all sexual sin as well as other sins.

In chapter four the author deals with, “Homosexuality and the Church.”  How do we treat a same-sex couple that visits our church?  Allberry rightly points out that we don’t automatically point out the sin of a couple that might be living together; rather, we love them and teach them and show them what the Word says.  I for one would love to see same-sex couples in our church.  I want all men and all women to hear the Word of God.  We would have to address what the Bible says about their lifestyle if they tried to join the church, but I would do the same thing to a couple living together, to a man living in adultery, or for that matter a woman who is a known alcoholic.  Sin is sin and we must deal with it accordingly, but the church is a hospital for the sick and the unrighteous…it is not a place for the perfect.

The final chapter deals with, “Homosexuality and the world.”  In this chapter the author shows us how to respond of someone tells us that they are homosexual, and how we can witness to those who struggle with same-sex attraction.

Throughout the book the author answers questions and objections that are often thrown toward those who hold to a biblical view of sexuality and a biblical view of marriage.  I highly recommend you buying a copy of the book and reading it.  I’ve shared a summary of each chapter, but there is much more to be absorbed.  I read it in about 45 minutes.  It was an easy and yet profound read.

“Can you thank me for this, even if I don’t tell you why?”

Written By: John - Apr• 03•14

In The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer wrote,

“Suffering, then, is the badge of true discipleship.  The disciple is not above his master.  Following Christ means passio passive, suffering because we have to suffer.  That is why Luther reckoned suffering among the marks of the true Church, and one of the memoranda drawn up in preparation for the Augsburg Confession similarly defines the Church as the community of those ‘who are persecuted and martyred for the gospel’s sake.’  If we refuse to take up our cross and submit to suffering and rejection at the hands of men, we forfeit our fellowship with Christ and have ceased to follow Him. But if we lose our lives in His service and carry our cross, we shall find our lives again in the fellowship of the cross with Christ.  The opposite of discipleship is to be ashamed of Christ and His cross and all the offence which the cross brings in its train.

Discipleship means allegiance to the suffering Christ, and it is therefore not at all surprising that Christians should be called upon to suffer.  In fact it is a joy and a token of His grace…”  (pages 100-101)

This week I was reading Derek Thomas’ commentary on Acts.  In the midst of his discussion of  the persecution of the church in Acts 4 he told the story of a “woman of extraordinary faith and courage: Helen Roseveare.”  Helen was a medical missionary in the Congo in 1964 when a rebel group captured her and the hospital from where she ministered.  They tied her to a post and raped her for three days—over and over they abused this single woman.

“When Helen Roseveare was tied to that post, and when she was being abused, she says she heard a voice.  It wasn’t an audible voice or anything like that; she says it was just God speaking to her through her recollection of what Scripture demanded of a Christian in that kind of situation.  And this is what she heard: ‘Can you thank me for this, even if I don’t tell you why?’  She said in her biography that she responded aloud: ‘Yes, if this fulfills your purpose.’  Christ wrought such a strong and godly character within her that memory of her is emblazoned on all who have the privilege of meeting her.  To this very day, she is still a stalwart soldier for Jesus Christ.” (page 100)

When I read Bonhoeffer’s quote and couple it with this story all my excuses and temptations to whine are removed and I am drawn to the passage in Philippians 3, “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

My Review of the Movie, Noah.

Written By: John - Mar• 31•14

I went to see the movie Noah last week and I’ve been going back and forth about writing about the movie.  I was tempted to just call your attention to my friend Denny Burk’s and encourage you to read it, but I do think I want to jump in and give you my take.  (Spoiler alert!  If you intend to watch the movie you may want to wait to read this until you see it!)

              First, what did it get right?  Let’s start with the positives.  In terms of genealogy they did get Noah’s father was Lamech and his grandfather was Methuselah, who was also the oldest man in the Bible.  Noah was a son of Seth and he had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.  They got that right.

In terms of the setting of Noah’s day…well, let me just say they did give us a picture of the depravity of man during that time.  Genesis 6:5 says, “The LORD saw the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”  I’ll come back to this in a moment, but at least we do get the picture that man was wicked and that he deserved judgment.  I appreciated the fact that the movie did not try to make God a monster that would dare judge innocent people…it rightly showed that man was sinful and deserving of judgment.  They got that right.

In terms of the ark…well they did get the building of the ark and the fact that the animals came onto the boat right.  They also showed us the flood covering the entire earth, and the sending out of the raven and the dove.  They got that right.

So let me wrap up what they got right in these terms: there was a man named Noah, he built an ark, animals came on the ark, God sent a flood, and the flood destroyed everything on land except for that which was in the ark.  That is what they got right.

              Second, what did the movie get wrong?  Where do I start?  Let’s start at the beginning.  Do we have any evidence that Tubal-Cain killed Noah’s father?  No.  All we know for sure is that the Bible says, “Thus all the days of Lamech were 777 years, and he died.”  There was a man by the name of Tubal-Cain.  There was another Lamech in Cain’s line and he fathered Tubal-Cain, but we have no record of him killing Noah’s father.

In terms of the wickedness of Noah’s day the movie would have you believe that it was all about the spread of industrialism and environmental issues.  Somehow the rise of the wicked industrialist caused God’s wrath to come down upon them.  They were wicked, but there is no evidence of this being a environmental judgment or that only the wicked ate meat and all God’s true people were vegetarians.  It is true that the Bible allows for the eating of meat after the flood, but there is no evidence that the eating of meat was a cause of judgment and that God was somehow going to save the only innocent things on earth—the animals!  That was man’s fabrication and it was a violence to the text.

In terms of those who were on the ark.  The Bible says, “And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him went into the ark to escape the waters of the flood.”  Everything surrounding the wives of the sons in the movie was fiction and I would add the attempt to make Methuselah some type of hermit magician was also fiction as was the stowaway Tubal-Cain.  That was man’s fabrication and it was a violence to the text.

In terms of God’s specific communication with Noah—I think this may be my greatest disappointment.  I understand the director’s dilemma.  How does one accurately picture God speaking to man?   But if you watched the movie and accepted it as your authority on all things Noah you would walk away thinking that God just gave Noah a few dreams and silently left him to figure it all out.  That is not the case.  God spoke clearly to Noah.  In Genesis 6:13 we find, “And God said to Noah,” in Genesis 7:1, “Then the LORD said to Noah…,” and in 8:15 we find, “Then God said to Noah.”  God spoke to Noah, God told Noah specifically how to build the ark, and He told Him what to do about the animals, and he spoke to Him when it was time to leave the ark.  God spoke specifically.  Anything else was man’s fabrication and it was a violence to the text.

The movie also portrayed Noah as a good man at first, but the character took a dark turn and he became driven by the idea that God was going to destroy all of man after they accomplished their goal of saving the innocent animals.  Noah, in the movie, was so driven by this idea that he was determined to kill his grandchildren when they were born.  God was ready to destroy all of mankind in Genesis 6 and verse 7 says, “So the LORD said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them…” and the next two words are critical to our understanding of Noah, “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.”  Verse 9 specifically says, “These are the generations of Noah.  Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation.  Noah walked with God.”  In all of human history from Adam to Noah we find the phrase, “walked with God,” being said about two men and only two men—Noah and Noah’s great grandfather Enoch.  Noah wasn’t chosen just to save the innocent animals—Noah was chosen by God to continue the line that would fulfill God’s Gospel promise in Genesis 3:15.  God made a covenant with Adam and Eve and He intended to keep it.

The movie had nothing to say about the covenant of God and the rainbow at the end was just weird, but Noah was not some bumbling vegetarian who was better than the sons of Cain simply because he wasn’t an industrialist—he may have been a vegetarian, but this much is true—Noah was a man who walked with God and God saved him in order to keep His covenant.

This blog is already longer than I intended it to be, but let me wrap it up.  I’ll give the director a pass on the fallen angels.  Theologians have wrestled for years with the mystery of the Nephilim, but rock monsters?  Really?!  They looked like lava-covered transformers and there is no indication that they were cursed because they tried to help man—the exact opposite is true.  They were fallen because they followed Satan.  Any attempt to make them helpers in the building of the ark and of somehow being able to return to heaven is both a fabrication and a real act of violence to the text.

Should you go see the movie?  That depends.  Do you want to go and see a word-for-word description of the Flood account of Genesis 5-9?  If that is true, then by all means do not go see the movie…you will be disappointed!  Do you want to go and see a movie that is loosely based on the Bible’s character Noah and the flood?  Then go and see it.  It is action packed.  The scene where the animals come onto the ark is worth the movie and the heartbreaking reminder of God’s judgment is something with which we should all wrestle.

Just remember—you can’t improve upon God’s Word.  That is especially true when you take away from it or add to it.  As Christians we should never expect a movie to do something that only God’s Word can do, but we can take full advantage of using this movie as an opportunity to dialogue with people about the God of the Bible.  I hope God gives you the opportunity to do just that!

Crash Helmets, Life Preservers, and the Hurricane Who Is Our God!

Written By: John - Mar• 24•14

AW Tozer said, “What comes to mind when we thing about God is the most important thing about us.”  In one of his books he said,

“Worship, I say, rises or falls with our concept of God; that is why I do not believe in these half-converted cowboys who call God “the Man Upstairs.”  I do not think they worship at all because their concept of God is unworthy of God and unworthy of them.  And if there is one terrible disease in the Church of Christ, it is that we do not see God as great as He is.  We’re too familiar with God. Communion with God is one thing; familiarity with God is quite another thing.”

We have become all too familiar with God.  A few weeks ago I read the following quote in R Kent Hughes’ classic book The Disciplines of a Godly Man.  In his chapter on worship (page 114) he quotes Annie Dillard who says,

“It is madness to wear ladies straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should be wearing crash helmets.  Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews.  For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.”

When I read that quote I immediately thought of one from NT Wright who said,

“How can you live with the terrifying thought that the hurricane has become human, that the fire has become flesh, that the Life itself has walked into our midst?  Christianity either means that or it means nothing.  It is the most devastating disclosure of the deepest reality in the world or it is a sham and a nonsense.  Most people unable to cope with saying either of those things are condemned to live in the shallow world in-between.”

 I don’t know about you, but the more I read the Word of God the more those phrases fit the God who is revealed there.  He isn’t in our box, He isn’t able to be controlled by us, and He is under our command…He is the God of Job’s whirlwind just as much as He is the Lord who is my shepherd.  Last week I read John MacArthur’s comments on Acts 2 and he said that we should count it a wasted day if we don’t learn something new about God from His Word.  I want to challenge you this morning to get to know your God and to worship Him accordingly!

Longing for the Slime of the Serpent to be Washed Away!

Written By: John - Mar• 18•14

Spurgeon once said,

“The Earth in ruins reveals a magnificence which shows the signs of a royal founder and an extraordinary purpose.  Creation glows with a thousand beauties even in its present fallen condition, yet clearly enough it is not as when it came from the Maker’s hand—the slime of the serpent is on it all—this is not the world which God pronounced ‘very good.’”

The more I read the news and hear of the persecution and martyrdom of my brothers and sisters throughout this fallen world the more I find my heart grieved and the more I find myself breathing the last prayer of the Bible, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’  Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus!  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.  Amen.”

Either Way…We Win!

Written By: John - Mar• 12•14

I sat down this morning and read the front page of The Alabama Baptist paper.  The article was about Islamic militants forcing Christians in Syria to convert to Islam, pay a tax that they can’t afford, or die.  I went to the Gospel Coalition and read Justin Taylor’s blog quoting Alan Jacobs about the erosion of religious liberty in America and then watched a clip from Kevin DeYoung’s blog where Eric Liddell quoted Isaiah 40 in Chariots of Fire.

I’ve thought a lot lately about the changes we see in our world.  I’m not surprised by the changes at all.  Paul describes what is happening around us in Romans 1.  God’s wrath is revealed in many ways, but the scary thing about Romans 1 is that we find a part of God’s wrath is that when mankind rejects Him—He gives them up to the lusts of their hearts to impurity and to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves.  The open acceptance of homosexuality in our nation and the fast advancement of homosexual marriage is not a sign that judgment is coming to America…it is a sign that judgment has already come.

What hope do we have?  Where do we turn?  We turn to God and we hope in the Gospel.  Right before his discussion of God’s wrath, Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’”

As I think of what is to come, I am challenged by John Bunyan who refused to stop preaching the Gospel even if it meant he would be imprisoned.  I am also challenged by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who gave his life for the Gospel, and reminded us that “When Christ calls a man He bids him come and die.”  I was struck by Eric Liddell’s quotation of Isaiah 40 and I think it is a good reminder for us all.  Regardless of who may lead us God is sovereign and He is on His Throne.

 “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,

and are accounted as the dust on the scales;

behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust…”

“…All the nations are as nothing before him,

they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.

To whom then will you liken God,

or what likeness compare with him?…”

“…Do you not know? Do you not hear?

Has it not been told you from the beginning?

Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?

It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,

and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;

who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,

and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;

who brings princes to nothing,

and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness….”

“…To whom then will you compare me,

that I should be like him? says the Holy One.

Lift up your eyes on high and see:

who created these?

He who brings out their host by number,

calling them all by name,

by the greatness of his might,

and because he is strong in power

not one is missing.

Why do you say, O Jacob,

and speak, O Israel,

“My way is hidden from the Lord,

and my right is disregarded by my God”?

Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;

his understanding is unsearchable.

He gives power to the faint,

and to him who has no might he increases strength.

Even youths shall faint and be weary,

and young men shall fall exhausted;

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;

they shall mount up with wings like eagles;

they shall run and not be weary;

they shall walk and not faint.”

Our hope is in God and our assurance is that He rules and that He will judge.  Our commission is the same as it has always been…we are to go and make disciples by the preaching of the Gospel.  If we lose our religious liberty we keep on preaching.  If we are told that it is no longer legal to preach the Gospel we remember that our King is Jesus and it is better to obey Him than man.  If we lose our possessions we remember that we are only stewards and it all belongs to Him.  If we are imprisoned for our faith, then we preach in prison.  And if we are put to death for the preaching of the Gospel…well, we win because we will enter His presence!

The world doesn’t know what to do with a person who owns nothing, rejoices when they suffer, and does not flinch in the face of death…they will either see our witness and throw stones or they will join us in taking up the cross.  Either way we win!

Living as sheep surrounded by goats!

Written By: John - Mar• 06•14

Last night I finished reading, The Work of the Pastor, by William Still.  The title tells you that it is a book for pastors, but it is well worth the time you will invest in reading it.  It is short, only five chapters, but there are many profound thoughts and quotes throughout the 127 pages.

My favorite quote was in chapter one,

“If you think you are called to keep a largely worldly organization, miscalled a church, going, with infinitesimal doses of innocuous sub-Christian drugs or stimulants, then the only help I can give you is to advise you to give up the hope of ministry and go and be a street scavenger; a far healthier and more godly job, keeping the streets tidy, than cluttering the church with a lot of worldly claptrap in the delusion that you are doing a job for God.  The pastor is called to feed the sheep, even if the sheep do not want to be fed.  He is certainly not to become an entertainer of goats.  Let goats entertain goats, and let them do it out in goatland.  You will certainly not turn goats into sheep by pandering to their goatishness.  Do we really believe that the Word of God, by His Spirit, changes, as well as maddens men?  If you do, to be evangelists and pastors, feeders of sheep, we must be men of the Word of God.” (page 23)

In the last chapter, Still talks to the pastor about keeping his balance in the ministry, but his points apply to all of us.  He said we must,

  1. Know Christ
  2. Be sure of your call
  3. Wait for His will
  4. Die to yourself
  5. Don’t go it alone.

Let me encourage you to think through these five things.  Do you know Christ?  Do you know what He has called you to do?  As you seek Him learn to wait for His will…His timing is always perfect.  We must die to ourselves and we must know that we cannot make it alone.  There are no Lone Ranger Christians—we need the Body of Christ to the Christ like!

Jesus and the Holy Spirit

Written By: John - Mar• 04•14

Abraham Kuyper wrote that “the Church has never sufficiently confessed the influence the Holy Spirit exerted upon the work of Christ.”  He is right!  We take the fact that Jesus was God and somehow think that His Divine nature made Him a man who didn’t struggle with the things with which we struggle; yet, the Word of God clearly teaches us that Jesus was tempted in every way that we are tempted…only He didn’t sin.

Jesus was fully God and He was fully man.  In the Incarnation Jesus walked, as man, fully dependent upon the power of the Holy Spirit.  He studied Scripture, He memorized Scripture, and He meditated upon Scripture and lived a life full of the Holy Spirit.

When the Spirit “drove” Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted Jesus, the second Adam, did what the first Adam failed to do…He obeyed!  Jesus literally dismissed the devil, “Away from me, Satan!” and “having beaten back Satan on his ‘own territory,’ Jesus was now in a position to strike fear into his legions and cast them out.  In other words, Jesus served notice to Satan and his demons that there was a new sheriff in town!

I love what Sinclair Ferguson said in his book, The Holy Spirit,

“Thus Jesus, Roman-general like, returns from his hidden conquest ‘to Galilee in the power of the Spirit’ (Lk. 4:14)  The immediate effect of the fact that ‘God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power’ was that ‘he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him’ (Acts 10:38)…Nothing is outside his dominion.  The wonders he performs are accomplished in the energy and by the presence of the Holy Spirit (cf. Mt. 12:28).  That is why they serve as signs of the coming messianic age in which the Spirit’s power will be fully manifested and all nature will be healed.” (page 50.)

You and I cannot overstate the necessity of walking in the Holy Spirit.  The natural and normal Christian life is a supernatural life and every moment is to be lived within the power and presence of the Holy Spirit who indwells us.