Roundup That Matters

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The LORD’s Supper: Wine or Welch’s? I liked that Joe Thorn attempted to make the case for wine, showing that this is what Christ ordained for the table. He answers the arguments that many people have against the use of wine. Most of those who argue against it don’t really have a Biblical case given that wine is a blessing from God, not a curse, as so many fundamentalist maintain. He also has an entire series on the Lord’s Supper covering topics like fencing the table, when to take it, closed and open table, etc.

Thou Shalt Not Kill or Murder? Wintery Knight has an excellent piece showing that Hebrew scholars teach what many of us have known for years, that the Sixth Commandment should read “Thou shalt not murder.” It is not a blanket admonition against killing any and all things (except the unborn), as so many who are politically and theologically on the left would claim. In stating such a case, then they would be going against the Bible and capital punishment, times for war, etc. But that is what liberals do… they gladly use the Bible when it fits their pet peeve but scorn anyone else’s use of the Bible, especially if we actually believe it.

Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery Wow, covering two commandments in one post! Exciting, I know. Neil has a great post on the Seventh Commandment, showing that as believers, we are to strive for sexual purity, not only in deed, but also in thought and word.

Allow me to say that this is impossible apart from the Holy Spirit and God’s word working in our lives. But this should not deter us, it is what God has ordained for those who are His children, so let us live up to that calling.

Anti-Catholic or Pro Gospel? Tim Challies has a great piece of the differences between Protestants and Roman Catholics. AS we have learned here on this blog, that when we state what the Roman Catholics believe, their defenders politely tell us we don’t understand what they believe. After hearing R.C. Sproul say basically the same thing in a T4G conference, I’m more open to that charge than I was before. What Challies does is show that it doesn’t matter what Roman Catholics believe, because they have condemned what we, as Protestants, believe. That is enough to help us understand that no matter what it is they believe about justification, their view is not what we believe.

What I would like to do today is put aside my understanding or misunderstanding of Roman Catholic theology. Instead, let’s look at the way the Roman Catholic Church understands what I believe. What I have found is that the Roman Catholic Church understands my theology very well. Many years ago the Council of Trent closely examined the doctrine of the Protestant Reformers and responded to it with a series of canons. As they did that, they declared my faith anathema, an abomination to God. While Trent happened a long time ago, the canons have never been rescinded. Vatican II, despite its emphasis on ecumenicism, did not nullify or modify the canons of Trent (see here for an explanation from Catholic Answers).

So instead of having me explain Catholic theology and point out concerns, let’s allow Roman Catholicism to explain my Protestant view (using EWTN’stranslation of the canons).

If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema. (Canon 9)
I believe that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required and nothing else needs to be cooperated with, to obtain the grace of justification. Rome understands exactly what I believe here and rejects it. (Rom 3:20-28, Eph 2:8)

OK, that is it for today. Spend some time reading those throughout the weekend. Hopefully it will deepen your faith in Christ.

God Hates & Loves Sinners

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David Platt covers a really difficult concept found in Scripture: the fact that God hates sinners, but loves them as well. Let’s face it, this is not an easy topic. On the one hand, you have Psalm 5:4-6 For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with You. The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity. You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. 

Now watch the video.

“This is the work of God…”

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When the people ask Jesus what they may do to do the works of God, I bet they never imagined that the focus of God’s work in us is belief in Him. Jesus responded to their question by saying, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

This verse is full of truth in that it reveals that even our faith is a work of God’s grace in us. We like to think that our faith is something that we conjure up when were driven by our fickle emotions in hearing about Jesus. But true faith never comes about by emotions. It comes by the power and the hand of God. This is what He does in saving us. He tells us we are to believe in His Son, then works the faith in our hearts, so that we can believe.

I know many reject this truth because they want to cling onto their ability to believe in Christ for salvation. This is where we differ when it comes to the gospel. Those with Calvinist leanings, like myself, understand that even our faith is a gift of God’s grace toward us so that He gets all the glory for our salvation. If we accept this truth, then we can also take great comfort in the passage found in Hebrews 12:1-2.

Therefore… let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2).

He is the author of our faith, in that His Spirit worked in us so that we would have eyes to see and ears to hear. He worked in us, giving us a heart to believe. He worked in us, so that when we heard the gospel, we would actually hear from Him (Romans 10:14). This is the work of God, that we believe in Him whom the Father has sent. All of our salvation is the work of God in our lives. He is the One who began a good work, and will see it to the day of salvation.

When we accept the premise above that even our faith is from Him, then we can find the assurance of salvation that so many of us struggle with because we also see that the One who began it, will see it to its completion. If our faith is dependent upon something that we have done, then we know rightly that we can lose our faith and our salvation is only as certain as our fickle emotions. Yet, if our faith is something He produced in us, then we can rest assured that He is the finisher of that faith as well.

Let’s not make the mistake of the people who asked God what they could do. When it comes to saving faith, nothing but believing in Him is the only answer. We cannot walk an aisle, say a prayer, give $10,000 to Joel Osteen, go to a Bible conference, or even be baptized. All we can do is believe, and then we must trust in the Spirit to work faith in us.

In other words, if we are truly saved, then we know it is because of God’s rich mercy toward us. Many, like the people in Christ’s time, want nothing to do with God’s mercy. They want more Law, even though the Law condemns us all the more, even though we are unable of keeping the Law, even though it signs our death warrants. This is one reason the people in Christ’s day were so furious with Him. They liked the Law, and their false-belief that they were actually keeping the Law. But the gospel stands to show us otherwise. The gospel stands to show us… we are in need of God’s mercy and His hand working in us.

The Underestimated God

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There are some sermons that are so good, they must be listened to more than once. The one posted below by Ligon Duncan is one of those sermons. This message has helped my understanding of the bigger picture of what God is doing more than any in a while. Just listen and see how God was working in Elijah, even in Elijah’s failures. As Ligon points out, sometimes the answer to our desires and prayers is “no” because God is doing something bigger than our desires.

Give yourself some time to listen.

Hattip: Heath. And Heath, thanks for sharing this with me. I do appreciate that.

The Charge of Hypocrisy

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We often hear the charge of hypocrisy from those outside the church. It’s an easy charge since the church is full of sinners and we tend to fall short of God’s glory like the rest of mankind.

I even had my doctor mention it to me the last time I had an appointment. She pointed out that the church was fully of hypocrites. I know the temptation is to say, “well, there is room for one more.”

But that would have missed an great opportunity. I answered her in the affirmative and said that when it comes to the heart of Christianity, we know that we are all hypocrites. That is the point. No one lives up to the righteous requirements of the Law. This is why we need Jesus as our Savior. He did live up to those requirements. In doing so, He is able to save any hypocrite that is willing to trust in Him for salvation.

I hope it and pray it planted a seed that the Spirit will water with the word. We will see. She seemed quite bitter about religion in general. In fact, her main attack was on the Roman Catholic Church and Jews in Israel. That shouldn’t surprise us since they suffer from the same problems we do. But I think it wise to admit our short comings and point to Christ. He is the answer to our hypocritical problem.

Photog Joey!

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The above picture came about when I said, “Joey, can you go get the camera?” I didn’t think he would use it, but Joey, being the stinker than he can be, had other ideas. I knew after he took a while to bring the camera that he was up to something. That is just Joey. (See here for more of his antics).

This was his first picture. I wanted to take pictures of us working on our fish-tank project together, but I wanted to be the one taking the photos. That didn’t happen. Joey was too much of a shutterbug. He probably gets it from me, but I’m denying that.

The project we were working on was trying to get enough rocks for Andy’s fish tank. Somewhere in the move last year, I lost the rocks we had for the tank. My father suggested that we pick up some pebbles and stones off his driveway and save some money. Great idea. It was a lot of work, and didn’t end up working because the rocks raised the ph level too high for fish. We ended up pulling all the driveway rocks back out of the tank and buying new ones.

AS for Photog (short for photographer) Joey, he wasn’t through! All the photos in this post are copyright Joseph N. Hammons 2014., just in case you needed to know that.

His next photo is when he was still being sneaky. He didn’t realize that the camera would fail to focus, given that this shot is through a bush. But I love his ambition here. Take secret pictures of Dad and Andy without us knowing. At this point, we didn’t know he had taken these shots. I didn’t realize it until I found the lens cap on the back porch where the above photo was taken.

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The next shot, the cat was out of the bag (that is a figure of speech for any animal lovers in my audience. I don’t put cats into bags.) This is a close up of his brother, with his big smile.

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Of course, no photographer ever completes his work without a self portrait. We just so happen to call them selfies now instead of self portraits.

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And finally, no 7-year-old photographer has a complete line of work without taking a photo of his brother’s…. butt.

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Yes, I know. I should be grown up enough not to publish such a… well, base piece of art. But there is too much Joey in me to pass up on the opportunity!  I hope you enjoyed Joey’s first art show!

Roundup That Matters

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Why Courtship is Fundamentally Flawed — Another piece on the flaws of the courtship model of finding a spouse. The author founded a courtship website years ago and had the following to say about it all:

I founded PracticalCourtship.com. Its purpose: to instigate a national conversation about how to make courtship more practical. Visits and comments poured in from all over the country about how to make courtship work and why it did not work.

Each year I waited for courtship to start working and for my homeschool friends to start getting married. It never happened. Most of them are still single. Some have grown bitter and jaded. Then couples who did get married through courtship started getting divorced. I’m talking the kind of couples who first kissed at their wedding were filing for divorce.

This was not the deal!

The deal was that if we put up with the rules and awkwardness of courtship now we could avoid the pain of divorce later.  The whole point of courtship was to have a happy marriage, not a high divorce rate.

I think that every area of finding a spouse is flawed because it is done by flawed people. Finding a spouse is hard, keeping them is even harder. But that is my opinion. I’m really skeptical of a lot of things when it comes to relationships and marriage.

Suicide is a Choice — I like Matt Walsh’s response to those who criticized him for daring to speak some truth concerning Robin Williams. Walsh’s first piece, Robin Williams didn’t die from a disease, he died from his choice, he simply states the reality of what happens and does so with compassion. But the truth is too much for some, and he was berated by the internet mobsters for even discussing it. I think both articles are worth reading and giving some serious thoughts to.

I wanted to post on Williams death earlier in the week, but never could find the right words. I have to admit that his death really saddens me even though I’ve been sick of his acting for some time. Yes, he was a genius. But a lot of it, he repeated over and over and over again. I’m not trying to take away from what he accomplished as a comedian and an actor. Just saying that I grew tired of it, yet, I’m still sad about how he ended his life.

That Still Small Voice — You know I love good sermons, and the one here by Phil Johnson is worth listening to. One of the things that it dispels is the notion that we are to be still before God and listen to that “still small voice” inside our head for His direction. The passage in question, 1 Kings 19:9-18, does not teach that at all. What it does is show us that God is not in the signs and wonders that so many claim that He is in, but chose to speak to Elijah using an audible voice. The voice Elijah heard was not in his head, but what the LORD spoke to Him. This story is narrative and one of the things we do not do when it comes to narrative in the Bible is declare it normative. God doesn’t speak to us this way. He uses the Bible He has already given to us. The sermon says a lot more than that, but I felt I needed to stress that point.

Something to Think About — This one is something I wrote on my FB page earlier this week:

The problem with the idea that we can use disasters, both manmade and natural, as a means of grace in leading the lost to Christ is that then you have to have more disasters to maintain those coming. No! This is wrong thinking. We are to preach the gospel. Preaching is the means that God has chosen for us to use in spreading the gospel among the lost AND maintaining those who have come to know Christ. This is one of the ordinary means of grace that God uses in bringing people to Himself. Not disasters, movies, plays, or any other such nonsense will lead the lost to the saving knowledge of Christ. It is preaching WITH words! Just as Jesus did, Paul did, Peter did and every other faithful witness to Christ.

Taking Up Our Crosses

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASeveral times in the Gospels, Jesus says “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me (Luke 9:23).”

This passage is rich with spiritual truth and truly eye-opening for those of us who are following Christ because it is not a passage of comfort and ease. The very image He is giving is one of death and self denial. Just think of what we know about those who were crucified. They had to bear their own cross to the hill where they were put to death after being flogged with a cat-o-nine-tails. It was a gruesome way to die.

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San Antonio River Walk

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I took this as I and about 10 other pastors gathered on the walk to enjoy refreshments and talk all manner of things. The meetings that took place on Saturday went very smoothly and I was glad that I attended the meeting.

What I came away with most of all is that I have the desire to return to full-time ministry if the LORD opens the door for me. For the past 18 months, that desire was not really there, I was in survival mode and still am in many ways. But I heard of two churches that need pulpit supply and I’m hoping that I can go down and preach for them on a few Sundays.

All in all, it was worth the effort to attend the meeting. I met a lot of great men and was truly encouraged. Here’s hoping to positive change in the coming months.

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