Oh the Value of a bible in your hand!!!

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Technology is moving at the speed of light.  The common thumb-drive that fits in your pocket can potentially hold more information than the original NASA computers that were involved in the moon landing. Yes a thumb-drive!!

Your cell phone is way, way beyond that!!!

Technology is a great tool, it can be used in so many ways and the applications are virtually endless. Technology is very useful.

But I am going to raise an issue here that will sound very “Old School” and in fact it is, “Old School”.

The issue stems from a strong conviction that was ingrained into me during my Theological Schooling and in particular my Preaching (elocution) classes.

It was taught to us, that when  you are going to preach, you must enter the pulpit “Carrying your Bible”  and then you are to place that bible deliberately on the pulpit in an attitude and gesture of reverence.  Then you were to pray over it then read from its pages.

To that picture, let me add the words of a Pastor whose ministry I sat under for some time.  This pastor told me, “When you preach, STAND BEHIND THE WORD”.

“When you read the passage …”, I was told, “ …pick it up off the pulpit, hold it in your hands and show where it comes from”    ( Thus teaching them how to read it)

In other words, this is not about you, it is about God, His word and what He has to say to “US” today.

So what does this have to do with tech?

When that Bible is placed on the pulpit everyone knows its function, its power, its purpose and if we are “standing behind it” as a teacher or preacher we will know its application too and will be able to convey it.

If I carry my laptop, tablet or whatever into the pulpit, it is a common thing in my hand, often used for common purposes.  It just cannot convey the same singularity of focus and expectation required for a very uncommon and eternal message.

Oh sure you can preach a fine sermon, a very biblical sermon in fact from a tech screen.

But…

The value of a bible in your hand is beyond measure, not only for preaching but for your personal time with the Lord.

The only “call” that you will receive or “text” you will be presented with will come from God Himself, with a Bible in your hand.

Don’t get me wrong I have a bible app on my phone and top notch Bible study software on my lap-top.     But oh… there is nothing like a bible in your hand!!!

Oh, the feel of it when opening it up; the deliberate turning off of distractions to focus on it. The turning of the pages , back and forth. It catches your tears when they fall on the page, the pages crease when you grip it in frustration over passages you struggle over or in times of coming to grips with conviction.

There is nothing like the value of a Bible in your hand.

 

Porn, the wretched review

  “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy”  Proverbs 27:6

There is nothing like a good, firm and sometimes even downright sarcastic correction to help put things in perspective and this is what we have from one of my favorite “corrective” Christian ministries. Wretched radio and T.V.

In the video, Todd Friel from “wretched” underscores points made by Canadian reformed blogger Tim Challies.

I am putting up a video that will give that ” faithful wound” to the heart that needs to deal with the sin of porn.  It’s not for cry babies or the willfully blind.

Ive been there done that ….no thanks.

If we call ourselves by the title of  “Christian” then we had better be running from the lust of the flesh and today more than ever Porn is invading the Church.

I have had my own struggle with it and other Christian men  have met do to.

Only in Christ will we find the strength and power to Obey by Grace.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a young man, husband, father or older,  as men we  have become the target of a devastating threat to all things that Christ calls us to.  It goes by the name Pornography and it is targeting a younger audience of viewers all the time.

Watch the video and listen.   This is a call to be united to Christ and separated from evil.

In all humility, follow Christ. Be wounded and be healed.

Sin is never general but specific.

I often wonder what it would have been like to be one of Jesus first disciples. I mean what was it like to have no place to stay, to be simply following Jesus along the dusty roads. To see a person who “did not sin”,To hear the sound of his voice, to see people physically healed, delivered from demonic oppression and see marginalized people treated with genuine Godly love and concern.
But of all the things that I wonder about, I wonder most of all what it would have been like after the crowds left, and Jesus and his disciples sat huddled around a fire sharing food and just talking together.
More specifically these men were in the presence of a person who knew them better than they knew themselves.
They had often witnessed Jesus “knowing what people thought” He often confronted people at the level of what they thought not what they said. the disciples would surely have been aware that he could read their thoughts too.
We all have very specific struggles with sin, envy, lust, pride, gossip unbelief etc.
I wonder what it would be like to open up in one of those conversations around the firelight with Jesus about those struggles. You could never do it without being specific. He knows everything and it would be pretty useless to hold back.

But it would be pretty difficult at the same time. Jesus himself was without sin. He could however be trusted to deal with the heart of sinners.
When I think of this I remember that I actually can open up to Him. I can do it anytime because He yet lives and I do.
Whether it is the sin of Lust (like Pornography which I have had to deal with and still watch out for in my own life) or it is gossip, (which may be your treasured sin). If you are a Christian Jesus will confront, challenge and forgive you as long as you keep close and learn to trust Him as the savior that He is.

I am a sinner and I know it. He died for sinners to take away our guilt and rose again to restore us continually to God. Get real….we all need to get real.

The warriors cry and the victory of Christ.

The Christian life is clearly described in the bible as a life of ongoing battle, as a spiritual warfare, a wrestling between the Spirit and the flesh as clash between light and darkness.

If you are a Christian you know it well. If you aren’t I could never convince you of intensity of that battle or of the joy of victories in that life of faith and the sorrow of defeats or of the time and energy spent in regrouping to fight those battles again, [hopefully] having learned from the past. Christians are engaged in battle often against their own inner desires and temptations.

If you are not a Christian then you will not know any of this reality. Never the less you may find what follows interesting and perhaps have your eyes opened too.

Today I will add my voice to a battle cry not as a spectator but a warrior. (One actively engaged in battle) My victories and strength come from the Lord alone. My failures are mine alone.

Perhaps what follows has been your battle too.

There is no way to ease in to speaking about the topic of Pornography so let’s get direct.

These are some statistics gathered and published by the “Safe Eyes” accountability software website.

About 64-68% of young adult men and about 18% of women use porn at least once every week.

Another 17% of men and another 30% of women use porn 1-2 times per month.

But what about us Christians?

Timothy .C Morgan of the Publication “Christianity today” states,
“Don’t assume that porn isn’t a problem in the church. One evangelical leader was skeptical of survey findings that said 50 percent of Christian men have looked at porn recently. So he surveyed his own congregation. He found that 60 percent had done so within the past year, and 25 percent within the past 30 days. Other surveys reveal that one in three visitors to adult websites are women.”

It has also been noted that 51% of Pastors said that pornography was a possible temptation. (To themselves)

“Pornography is prevalent everywhere today. In fact, one in eight online searches is for pornography. Because Porn use thrives in secrecy, many Church members are trapped in a cycle of sin and shame, thinking that they’re the only ones facing this temptation.” (safe eyes)

Those are the realities. The light destroys darkness and before I move on as a Christian and as a warrior I must acknowledge that this has been battle ground for me.

My close Christian friends know this and as I have made disclosure and sought accountability I have found that many have sheepishly acknowledged that this is an area of battle for them too.
You are not alone. Don’t ever believe that.

Stay tuned this is only the beginning and because of Christ I have no fear in allowing light to overtake my darkness. For “He alone is my rock and shield”

Is Jesus a friend of yours?

Jesus Christ, in the Gospels is shown to be a divine/ human person that unsettled others.

On the one hand He himself was a person who could never be accused of sin. By sin I am referring to a breach of any of God’s laws either in action, motive or thought. He was not like other men, ( not like us). Yet He purposely disassociated with the religious elite, the upper crust of Judaism the honoured, the self righteous. Those who looked good.

     On the other hand Jesus spent His time, energy and compassion on those who were obviously sinners; people whose sins were easily seen. People who in all actuality are like you and I. He was continually with drunks, prostitutes, swindlers, the dishonoured, the unrighteous. He befriended them and even ate in their homes eating what they prepared for Him.

  All mankind are sinners to be sure but it is the sinner who knows himself to be a sinner that is closest to the heart of God. It is he who is able to enter through the narrow gate and find the embrace of Christ.

   A dynamic that I have come across in my Christian experience is that often in the church (Which belongs to Christ) or just among other Christians we acknowledge sin as a general reality and that Christ forgives us our sins, and there it is, a sort of confession without actually confessing to anything in particular.

  But let us ask ourselves the question, “Was our last sinful action, whether a breach of Gods law in action, motive or thought some kind of hazy general thing or a specific thing?” Of course it was a specific breach a nameable offence an actual sin. Lying, coveting, lust etc. are not general but specific.

   So I pray, “ Lord help us to be real, to be honest to be broken but to have you as our Lord, savior and friend, save us Oh Lord from ourselves help us to love and uphold each other as redeemed sinners”

So what happens if a person opens the door to his or her offence?

What should happen?

There religious elite of Jesus day had within them a steadfast refusal to actually be broken. It was undignified, it was beneath the status that they loved so much. Are we like them?

Think about it….. are we like them?

   Are we so afraid if being real, of being broken? We must be ware that we don’t become like them because we will not prosper in our relationship with God if we do. We will become isolated, we will become critical and hardened.

   It was the unbroken Pharisee who would accuse Jesus of being a “ friend of sinners”. A title that fits Him perfectly!!!!

  He is my friend I hope and pray He is yours too. I am on a quest in my Christian life to seek out those like me, “actual sinners who need actual salvation” and to be open with them. He has of late been answering that prayer.

“New World Order?” (No, it’s just a repackaged tower of Babel).

Here we are today living in a world where technology, telecommunications and air travel, have created a world that is more connected.
People that have long been isolated from one another by vast tracks of land or oceans who over many, many generations developed independent cultures, languages and codes of ethics are now finding new mediums to share information and are merging into people belonging to a “Global village”. A new world is emerging….so they tell us.

The sovereignty of independent nations is being subtly yet increasingly suppressed through global governing bodies such as United Nations and the European Union. Presidents, prime ministers and monarchy are all beginning to sing the same tune about Global economies, free trade and shared global objectives. Even religious leaders have been singing the tune and many Popes have called for a,” New world Order”. Developed countries are all moving toward the center of a globally unified system of governance and the third world countries are invited to come on board.

Closer to home I am increasingly being reminded about my “global responsibilities” I am being told to “Act locally and think globally” such as participating in our local curb side recycling program.

I am instructed through media that my “Social principles” must be of the sort that can be accepted in any culture in order to be politically correct; they must be for the “Common good” of all peoples. So don’t offend anyone with a contrary opinion to the new standard of tolerance and acceptance of others and their lifestyles or views. I think they forget that you can truly love someone and at the same time be entirely against their religion or lifestyle. Or are all such people with contrary views haters? No they are not.

In all of these ideas there is a backdrop of manipulation of conscience, heaven forbid if you throw your star bucks cup into the waste section rather than the recycling one!!!

Recycling is good to be sure, but if the collective conscience of humanity takes a greater offence at a person failing to recycle than it does to ignoring it’s responsibility toward God, then society is straining out the gnat swallowing a camel.

At the risk of offending the many,( while still loving them) let me simply say that this idea of building a society without correct reference to God has been tried and has failed. It is not a “New World Order” it is an “Old rebellion”.

If you don’t believe me just ask yourself why the symbol of unity used as a visual motif by the EU is a reproduction of the famous painting of the tower of Babel. Yes the tower of Babel the original great rebellion. A colossal failure…..

Jesus Christ is the Lord, he overcame the world, and he certainly has no interest in our “New World Order” and as a believer either do I. Here I stand.
tower of babble EU

How God uses our enemies to help us overcome sin.

No one loves to find our faults more than our enemies. A friend, with good intention, may overlook a fault; an enemy however, with evil intention, will rejoice to see it.
The friend wishes not to bring humiliation, the enemy seeks to humiliate. God in his grand intention seeks to humble (not humiliate) his children. So with all wisdom God uses our enemy to expose hidden faults. Our close friend is not nearly as useful as our enemy in a situation like this.

The will of God is overarching and sovereign over all other wills. His will is done on earth. And especially toward those who He has called to follow Him as stated in Philippians 1:6,
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Now there are some precious friends who love us enough to tell us our faults but they are usually very rare. The word of God declares in the book of Proverbs, “Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.”  So in the absence of such friends our enemy will actually do us good as God works his will into our life through them. Having our sins exposed by one who seeks to discredit us and humiliate us is good in the grand scheme of things.

We can say with Joseph in Genesis 50:20
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”
Remember that God may desire to save them too.

Having accepted Jesus Christ as both Lord and saviour through His death and resurrection we are forgiven of all sin past, present and future. That was done for us by Jesus on the cross and made to apply to us through faith in Him. God however takes and begins to shape us into a new creation and in our deepest being we desire to be righteous and free from our sinful habits.

Our desire to be free does not easily translate into our daily lives and we struggle, never satisfied with our own sin. Sin is more a misery than a delight and we seek to get away from those entanglements. Sometimes succumbing to those temptations, and sometimes finding victory over them. This is a real battle.
These tendencies are not easily shaken, propensity to lie, lust, argue, doubt God, be self righteous and love things rather than God are patterns and paths that are very easy to retrace if we walk out of step with God.

In this battle we have many strategic helps from God, His word instructs us, His spirit leads us friends love us and enemies confront us.

If people gossip about you, try to listen to what they are saying. Just maybe there is that kernel of truth that God wants to show you. It may be humiliating, but let it be so you are in a larger picture than your enemy can see.

I give thanks for my enemies because God loves me with good intention even if they are operating out of bad intentions. I pray for them too because Christ is a savior of sinners.

How God uses our enemies for our good

One of the most interesting and unexpected realities that appear in the Biblical narrative is that God’s will is performed through the rebellion of His enemies.

This unexpected reality becomes even more interesting when we clearly see that God uses the enemies of his children to shape His children and that though we may have enemies who mean us harm they are actually doing us good and can’t help but serve God’s purpose in our lives.

Oh, it is meant as evil from them and it will come as a very painful experience to us (in the short term) but since it is God who is above them, it comes out for our good in the final end.

In the story of Joseph (Gen 37) we find that his brothers were jealous of him because he was favoured and were angry with him because of His dreams which showed his older brothers one day serving him and bowing before him. Out of this jealousy and anger they decide to sell Joseph into slavery and tell his father Jacob, that Joseph had been killed in the field by a wild beast.

Over a period of many years (sold into slavery) and much suffering, Joseph eventually comes to the place where He is placed in a position second only to Pharaoh and basically rules all of Egypt. Joseph, through the providence and leading of God prepares for a coming famine by storing food beforehand. The famine then causes all surrounding regions to come to Egypt for rations of food. Eventually his own brothers come to Egypt (having long forgotten their younger brother), find in the end that their brother is the means of their deliverance.

Though they do not recognise Joseph (as they bow before him) Joseph recognises them. Joseph at one point is so overcome with emotion, and he quickly walks into another room and weeps, (though not in front of his brothers), nor does he let on that he is their brother.

He could take revenge but he longs for them to find blessing and eventually chooses to reveal himself. He forgives them and embraces them. He then provides for them and shows favour to them. When he reveals his identity to them they are stricken with heart pounding fear (Joseph was in the place of judgement and he certainly had not forgotten what his brothers intentions and actions had done to him)

Joseph forgives them and makes this amazing statement not denying their  earlier treachery and the intentions behind it.

Gen 50:20

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

In this case there was mercy and redemption for even the enemies and many others as well.

In my next post I will show how God uses our enemies to deal with our own sin. The same reality applies.

Gospel Light Vanquishes Sins Shadow.

In chapter V of Spiritual Depression,  D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones presses forward  with The Light of the Gospel and its practical implications for liberating the depressed believer who finds himself in a perpetual state of self loathing over the remembrance of some past sin.

(It is this readers opinion that the anointing of God continues to attend the work of Lloyd-Jones and use what was rendered  by him in service to God and His people.  I find it impossible to read This work  in Spiritual Depression and think of it only as it applied to “The people of Lloyd-Jones day” .  No , there is always that sense of  Lloyd -Jones being a minister grabbing my lapels and bringing me mind to mind with biblical doctrine as though he is saying. “This my friend, is a  doctrinal medicine for you, take it  and you will soon experience it’s healing effects upon your soul”   and I do.)

Lloyd-Jones  does take into consideration the interplay of Satan with regard to the  bringing of such accusing thoughts to the child of God but spends little time on that particular aspect of things. Instead, he delivers  sound doctrine to his primary subject, ( the child of God). It is a fully fleshed out doctrine in this chapter and I will not seek to cover the entire fleshing out in one Post.

A very perceptive Lloyd-Jones,  essentially calls such a spiritually depressed person to a new kind of  “wakefulness” ,to a , “standing at attention position”, and to an  “at  the ready” active participation in taking hold of the doctrine of   “Salvation”. Here Lloyd-Jones seeks to bring death to  any “spiritualized passivity”.

He heartily states:

Let me put this plainly and bluntly in order that I may emphasis it even at the risk of being misunderstood. There is a sense in which the one thing that these people who are in this condition must not do is to pray to be delivered from it!  That is what they always do, and that is what hey have invariably been doing when they come seeking help- indeed, it is what they are generally told they must do….but this is one of those points at which the Christian must stop praying for a moment and  begin to think!

At this point I think it is important to think. To think about what is being said here.  If I understand this correctly and take a look at Christian experience  I  can certainly see a very important truth here.  Lloyd -Jones is rightly stating  that fully actively engaging  our minds is as spiritual an act as prayer.  That though prayer is a wonderful privilege and a mighty tool, it is the wrong tool in this case. That the right tool, the most spiritually appropriate tool, in this case is, the mind fully engaged with the doctrinal truth of the gospel  of Salvation.

I think that this is plenty to chew on for a start.