Quotables from my reading this past weekend…

From Michael Horton and his book, A Better Way: Rediscovering the Drama of Christ-Centered Worship. He writes on coming to God through Christ and the New Covenant: “We come with confidence but not with glibness; with gladness but not with greasy familiarity. We cling to Jesus Christ as our go-between instead of skipping into God’s presence directly, one-on-one, face-to-face, because we have been reminded of his fearful and holy splendor. This is a distinctly Christian worship experience.”

His main point is that far too many reduce worship to meeting our felt needs, which change from moment to moment, instead of looking forward to the experience of being in the presence of a holy and awesome God. Our society, and the church have reduced God to merely a catch phrase for comfort, instead of revering Him for His holiness and glory.

From Rush Limbaugh’s Stupid Quotes. He quotes Al Gore on 60 Minutes, who was asked about the global warming skeptics. Gore’s quote, “They’re almost like the ones who still believe that the moon landing was staged in a movie lot in Arizona and those who believe that the world is flat.”

Rush’s response: “As opposed to those who believed they created the internet.”

Rush nailed him, as he should be nailed. After all, it’s only those wackos on the left that don’t believe in the moon landing, and I don’t know of anyone who believes the earth is flat. Yet, I still don’t buy the premise that global warming is man made. I don’t give mankind that much credit.

Gore is showing his stupidity in using such an argument.

For an excellent article by Michael Horton on the sin of slothfulness, got to Benjamin’s site: Backwoods Presbyterians.


Augusta Canal

I have a new post on the family blog, No Time for a Nap! Here is one of the pictures from that page to get your curiosity up.

Augusta Canal Photos

Here are more pictures from our trip to the Canal.

Of course, had to have some shots of my beautiful wife.

And the family! Here, you can see the boys are not in the best of moods. They were tired… and hot.
This is Heath and Michelle. They are always fun to be around, but alas, we spent so much time chasing and watching our boys, I had to take this picture to make sure that we were actually there at the same time.

This is inside the interpretive center. Not sure what that means, but it’s just a museum about the canal, and the electricity it produced and still produces.

Michelle expressing herself next to the canal.

God Is Magnificent!

This video is truly magnificent. It shows the intricacies of the human cell and points to the reality that no matter how many times evolutionist say that this happened by chance, the reality of the cell show that no chance would have brought this about. (HT: Neil).

God is magnificent, for He created us in His image. Watch the video and rejoice at the complexities of just one human cell.

Psalm 19

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
2 Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.
4 Their line[a] has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.

In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun,
5 Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
And rejoices like a strong man to run its race.
6 Its rising is from one end of heaven,
And its circuit to the other end;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.

7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward.

12 Who can understand his errors?
Cleanse me from secret faults.
13 Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins;
Let them not have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
And I shall be innocent of great transgression.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.

Prayers for the Chapman Family

My heart and prayers go out to Stephen Curtis Chapman and his family. I can’t imagine the grief they are going through. But I can imagine the comfort they will find in Christ. Keep them in your prayers.

Just reported on Foxnews.com.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The 5-year-old daughter of contemporary Christian music star Steven Curtis Chapman was struck and killed Wednesday by a sport utility vehicle driven by her brother, authorities said.

The girl, Maria, was hit in a driveway on the family residence Wednesday afternoon by a Toyota Land Cruiser driven by her teenage brother, said Laura McPherson, a spokesman for the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

McPherson said no charges are expected.

“It looks like a tragic accident,” she said.

You can go to Chapman’s site here.

Here is a video they posted on the family blog… of Maria and Stephen Curtis Chapman…

Posted Sermons

I have added some recent sermons to our church web page, Grace of Aiken. The latest two are on the Great Commission and our need for the Holy Spirit in Missions. I preached them for our missions’ conference we had this past weekend. Just go to the main page, then to the sermon page and download it for your computer. Of course, all material is copyrighted, so if you somehow make money on any of these sermons, you have to pay me BIG GIGANTIC, RETIRE-ME-TO-THE-BAHAMAS royalties. As if somehow one could make that kind of money off a sermon on the word of God. Or, if somehow, I would actually want to! Yikes. That was a convicting thought. The Bible doesn’t speak well of those who make money off of God’s word. I know we are to get paid for our services, but to do it for that purpose is a bit scrupulous.

OK, that was probably a rabbit trail I did not wish to go down. Back to the main idea. Go, download, listen on your IPOD while you do your morning workout! Be blessed. Grow in your understanding of our God, our Savior, and their love for us.

31,000 Scientists Reject "Global Warming."

More headlines you will not read in the daily press: 31,000 Scientists Reject ‘Global Warming.’ WND is reporting that the Petition Project, which began more than 10 years ago, has collected more than 31,000 signatures of scientists who don’t believe in man-made global warming.

The petition reads:

“There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate,” the petition states. “Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.”

So much for Al Gore’s consensus. The article goes on to say:

“Mr. Gore’s movie, asserting a ‘consensus’ and ‘settled science’ in agreement about human-caused global warming, conveyed the claims about human-caused global warming to ordinary movie goers and to public school children, to whom the film was widely distributed. Unfortunately, Mr. Gore’s movie contains many very serious incorrect claims which no informed, honest scientist could endorse,” said project spokesman and founder Art Robinson.

WND submitted a request to Gore’s office for comment but did not get a response. (The coward!)

Robinson said the dire warnings about “global warming” have gone far beyond semantics or scientific discussion now to the point they are actually endangering people.

“The campaign to severely ration hydrocarbon energy technology has now been markedly expanded,” he said. “In the course of this campaign, many scientifically invalid claims about impending climate emergencies are being made. Simultaneously, proposed political actions to severely reduce hydrocarbon use now threaten the prosperity of Americans and the very existence of hundreds of millions of people in poorer countries,” he said.

The point being, that many on the left are using this global warming hoax just to put a damper on our country. It’s the old communists that have latched on to global warming for their cause of the day.

Mount Taal

In April 2000, I went on a short-term mission trip to the Philippines. It was one of those missions trips that confirmed to me that I was called to ministry in the local church, not on the foreign mission field, even though I have a heart for those who go and I would like to go on some more short-term trips.

While there, I had the opportunity to climb Mount Taal, which is a semi-active volcano. What is neat about the volcano is that there is a lake inside the volcano, with an island inside the lake, with a lake inside that island, and finally, a dome inside that lake where the latest in seismographic equipment sits.

We took a boat across the first lake, and climbed up the first island, and looked down on the second lake and the second island. I was grateful for the seismographic equipment, because it was able to tell us if there was about to be an eruption. Not that we could have done anything about it at that point, but at least we would have known we were about to be blown to bits.

The interesting thing about the small island is that there is a fishing village there and a tourist industry. The tourist industry thrives on renting out donkeys for people who want to go to the top of the mountain, without walking. It also thrives on bottled water for those of us who climb without the aid of a donkey and are thirsty. I thought it was ingenious of them. They get your money one way or another.

It was also fun to cross the lake in their boats, which are larger canoes with engines. I guess the Filipinos got tired of paddling the boats. It’s what I would have done. It took us about 40 minutes to cross the lake, which gave me an idea of how big it was.

All this to say that I have climbed a volcano once in my life. I’m fascinated by them, but this is about as close as I want to get to one. Especially one that is belching a carbon footprint the size of South America like Volcano Chaiten.

Common Ground? Not Between Christians and Muslims

One of my pet peeves is the idea that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. This could not be further from the truth, because they deny the Son of God, Christ as God. There have been attempts with Muslims to try and establish a common ground. Any knowledgeable Christian should be able to see through this ploy quickly. In order to come to the point of believing we worship the same God, we must concede on the truth of who Christ is. If this doesn’t bother us, and we deny Him, then we should not be surprised if He denies us on Judgment Day.

No, denying Jesus is not a good course of action when it comes to dialogging with Muslims. What we need to be willing to tell them is that they worship a false god, and have a false prophet. I know. There are no tummy rosy feelings in this, no singing Kumbayaa, but that is the truth we must stand upon.

The following is John Piper rejecting the premise all together and shows why Scripturally on this video. Don’t be fooled. We are NOT worshiping the same God. They are worshiping another god all together.

Happy Lord’s Day!

The Reasons for Missions

My Sunday sermon…

One of the obvious facts about taking a short-term mission trip is that in the United States, we live very blessed lives. So much so, that even our poor, tend to have more than those of middle class stature in other countries. Not always, but in general.

This reality became extremely real for me when I took a month-long trip to the Philippines in April of 2000. I was to spend four weeks helping MTW by teaching and sharing with the local church. I was also getting a chance to be exposed to not only the churches sponsored by MTW, but the other ministries as well, from the Presbyterian seminary, to helping with the area pastors.

But the most difficult ministry I was exposed to was the Ang Bahay Parola, or the Lighthouse. The goal of the ministry was to reach the street children of Manila. To some, this may seem an impossible task since there are so many, and more coming from the countryside every day.

In the Philippines, those who live in the underdeveloped areas, will move to Manila in the hopes of finding work. Most of the time, that is not possible, so they move into squatters villages.

Squatters villages are in and of themselves something to behold. When Renae, Buboy and Rubin took me to a squatter village just a short distance from the Lighthouse, I felt like I was truly entering into another world.

When we first arrived, there was a basketball goal set up and a lot of the boys and teenagers were playing in pick up games. Most of them don’t go to school since they can’t afford it, and this in turn, leads to the reality that they cannot get jobs. So the cycle of living in a squatters village remains. It’s a difficult cycle to break. But it is a cycle that Buboy and the rest of those with the Lighthouse are trying to break.

The three of them introduced me to some of the children as they held Bible studies in the empty lot across the street from their squatters village.

They were so very sweet and so very poor. One beautiful little girl looked up at me and smiled. It was then that I noticed both her front teeth had rotted away.

Another child walked on his ankles because he fell out of building when he was an infant. The family had no money to have his broken legs set, so he makes do. On top of that, his family finally abandoned him, and he lives wherever he can find a place to.

Some of the squatters help him out. As Renae led the children in a Bible study, the child sat down next to me, and took my hand. He just wanted to have someone hold his hand. I ignored the filth on his hand, and held it. It was all I could do to keep myself together.

Most of the children wore dirty clothes because they had only one pair, and washing that one set of clothes was difficult. There seemed to be so many children, so many needs.

How do you deal with such insurmountable odds? How do we help such people?

There really is only one way to begin helping, and that is with the gospel of Christ. Only the gospel can take a nation and change it so that the poor are truly helped. Only the gospel can convert souls, so they see their need to depend upon Christ and allow Him to raise them up. Only the gospel addressed the needs of the poor in a true and real way.

So how do we help?

We help by helping Buboy and the Lighthouse ministry. While there is not much we can do from here, we can support them with our prayers and the money we have.

Buboy and the rest of those trying to break the cycle, need our support. When we support missionaries and MTW, we are helping in making a difference. We are being obedient to Christ. Remember, this is the same ministry that the WIC is raising money in order to support. Remember the fliers last week? That flyer told you about the ministry I have just described.

As we look at the Great Commission given to us by Christ, we see a very simple reality, we can either Go ourselves, send other, or sin by doing nothing at all because the One who gives us the command, is doing so from a position of authority. As we look at this passage, we need to think about ways that we can aid the missionaries we support.

Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

First point: All authority has been given to Christ. He is on the throne of authority, and is Sovereign over all things.

When Jesus is giving the disciples this command, it is after the resurrection, and they are witnessing His entrance into the Kingdom. They don’t fully understand that yet, but the point is being made. His Kingdom is being inaugurated.

Matthew 16:28 “Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

Matthew 26:64 Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Daniel 7:13-14 “ I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed.

The point is that this moment has arrived. The Son is about to ascend to His Kingdom and all authority has been given to Him.

During His earthly ministry, He demonstrated His power over disease, death, blindness, the wind and the waves, leprosy, and even the ability to call 12 legions of angels. This was demonstrating His power for us, but since He was still in His humiliation, not all power was given to Him.

After the resurrection, that changed. While He had yet ascended to the throne, the power was already His. We can equate it to a man being elected to the presidency. He has all honor conferred upon Him, but the power of that position doesn’t arrive until inauguration day.

Only here, the power has arrived. He has just yet to seat Himself on the thrown.

Now why is this all important? Jesus tells us of His authority so that we will listen to His words. We need to know that moment by moment, day by day, we can lean on Him in the work of the Kingdom.[1] We need to know that the Heir of all things is concerned with our daily struggles and our work for the Kingdom. We need to know that He is sovereign over our affairs and hears our prayers. We need to know that He is working all things together for good, for those that love Him.

In order to convey that, He tells us of His authority.

Notice, this is not some a frivolous authority, but one of great depth and power. Most authority passes away, but not the authority of Christ. Listen to Daniel’s words again: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.

He does have ALL authority. His authority is more real than anything we face on this side of glory, but it is not authority just in heaven. His authority is both in heaven and on earth. So to think His authority is limited to just heaven is wrong. His authority encompasses every thing.

Listen to one commentators words:

Christ is He who has the keys of death and hell; Christ is the anointed Priest, who alone can absolve sinners; Christ is the Fountain of living waters, in whom alone we can be cleansed; Christ is the Prince and Savior, who along can give repentance and remission of sins. In Him all fullness dwells. He is the way, the door, the light, the life, the Shepherd, the Altar of Refuge…”[2]

This is real authority because it is authority that has everlasting implications and how we approach the command He is about to give us says a lot about how we understand this.

What command?

Go! We are to go! This is the second point. Our High King commands us to Go!

This isn’t something that is an option. We are all to Go! Or as the original says, “having gone… make disciples…” The assumption is that you are going…

And, do what?

Make disciples. The emphasis is on making disciples, those who are learners and followers of Jesus Christ. He is not telling us to “make converts.” While that is implied, He is not telling us to do that. We cannot make converts.

But we can make disciples. This places more of an emphasis on the mind, as well as the heart and the will, which all must be won for God.[3]

We are to be those “who proclaim the true and the will of God to the world. It is necessary that sinners learn about their own lost condition, God, His plan of redemption, His love, His law, etc.”[4]

But this is not all. This isn’t simply knowledge, but something that must be learned and practiced. It is learning the truth, living it out and abiding in it. Only then, are we Christ’s disciples.

Then Jesus said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come.”
22 So the Jews said, “Will He kill Himself, because He says, ‘Where I go you cannot come’?”
23 And He said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”
25 Then they said to Him, “Who are You?”
And Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning. 26 I have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I heard from Him.”
27 They did not understand that He spoke to them of the Father.
28 Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. 29 And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” 30 As He spoke these words, many believed in Him.

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Those who abide in His word, are His disciples. Not just abide in the church, but in His word and in Him, as He will later say.

How do we make disciples?

By baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Baptized them in the name of the Trinitarian God and teaching them.

The two, baptizing and teaching, go together. You do not do one without the other. In order to baptize someone, we must teach them, and once they are baptized, we must continue to teach them. The teaching is not something that stops simply because we have been baptized, but continues the rest of our lives.

For instance, you need to know that when you were baptized, you were done so into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Here the word used for “name” is singular, showing us that God is truly One, and not many. He is One God, but three persons, or Godheads. We don’t worship many gods as the pagans do, but only One God.

It just so happens that He is triune in nature. This means that each person of the Trinity is fully God, but also fully that person, whether it be the Father, Son or Holy Spirit. This is how God has revealed Himself to us. While it is difficult for us to fully understand this, we must admit that fully understanding God and who He is, is out of our capacity.

This is the name that we baptize disciples into. Baptism is a sacrament that replaces the circumcision of the Old Testament. Baptism is the sign and seal of the righteousness of Christ imputed to us by faith.

When an adult is baptized, we are merely seeing the sign that represents the reality of the inward change that has already occurred as a result of the gospel. Baptism doesn’t bring a person into communion with Christ, but does represent that communion that exists if true faith is already there.

As for our infants, we see our children as part of the Kingdom because this is how Christ views them as well. In Mathew 19:13-15, He rebukes the disciples for keeping the children from Him.

Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.

We see that Jesus doesn’t view these children as “little pagans,” but as part of the Kingdom. They were brought to Him by faith. Not their own, but the faith of their parents. So it is in faith that we baptize our children, raising them as members of the Kingdom, and trusting in the Holy Spirit to make their baptisms effectual at a later date.

All this understand comes about by teaching. We are to teach the disciples or followers of Christ.

Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.

Teaching both precedes and follows baptism. I loved some of the practices of the early church. Because of persecution, they took someone’s desire to join much more seriously than we do, and insisted that those desiring to join the church know basic knowledge of Christianity, things like the meaning of true repentance and a demonstration of it, the basics of who Christ is, and what He did.

As one theologian writes, “the early church was interested in edification as well as evangelism, in sanctification as well as conversion, in church government as well as preaching.”[5]

Now days it seems like many churches just want you to sign on the dotted line for you to become a member. No questions about knowledge, or faith experience. I think that has led to a weaker church.

Disciples of Christ should be able to talk about the basics of their faith. That is why the catechism are so helpful. We can catechize our children with the Shorter Catechism and if they learn all 107 questions, they will probably know more theology, more about the gospel, more about God and themselves, than your average MA grad from your typical evangelical seminary.

The point is that we are to teach and continue to teach until Christ returns. This is what makes us disciples and is the mark of a disciple. We never get to a point where we no longer have to learn.

Finally, Christ leaves us with an encouragement with this command: and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Need the reminder. Tend to forget… When we are faced with difficult situations like thousands of children who go without education, or food, or lasting homes, we need to be reminded of this.

Jesus has given us a grand command. He has given us a task that is far beyond anything we can accomplish in our own strength. 2 Corinthians 2:16 And who is sufficient for these things? So we need this reminder that if the Kingdom is going to be built through those who are lowly in status, as the Kingdom is built, then we must rely on Christ working in us and through us to accomplish the task. We need to remember, He has not left us alone in this command.

Therefore, we need to hear the basic tenant of this command: Go, send, or sin. What will we do?

And when we do go, how will we respond when the child that walks on his ankles, sits down next to you, and takes your hand. You don’t pull away. You will remember, that Christ is with us, and you share the truth and the glory of Christ with Him, give Him true, meaningful and lasting hope, and he becomes your brother.

Matthew 28:18-20

All authority has been given to (Jesus Christ) in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that (Christ has) commanded you; and lo, (Christ is) with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.

[1] William Hendriksen, NTC: Matthew, Baker Book House, p. 998.

[2] J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Matthew, Banner of Truth Trust, p. 409.

[3] Hendriksen, p. 999.

[4] Ibid.

[5] G.W. Knight, III, quoted by Hendriksen, in his commentary in the footnotes on page 1001.

Disasters Caused By God???

Even broaching the topic is to open a big whopping can of theological worms, but Neil Cavuto did it on his show recently in an interview with Irwin Lutzer. Poor Lutzer. I think he did a fine job of trying to state his case, but those outside the faith, or with little theological understanding really have a difficult time with this topic at all, because they lack a proper perspective of our sinfulness, God’s holiness, and His ownership of all things. Watch the video.

Did you see the problem he was having? Cavuto wasn’t buying any of it, as most have trouble with this idea that God is sovereign over all things, including the weather, earthquakes, fires, tornadoes, etc.

Several points: First of all, God is sovereign over all creation. Psalm 24:1-2 The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein. 2 For He has founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the waters.

He is sovereign over all the earth, including the weather. Psalm 135:6-7 6 Whatever the LORD pleases He does, In heaven and in earth, In the seas and in all deep places. 7 He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; He makes lightning for the rain; He brings the wind out of His treasuries.

The point is that He is in control of all these factors and uses them for His glory.

Second point: Mankind is fallen. We are all sinners and because of this, we are all under His wrath and judgment.

Romans 3:9-18

9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.
10 As it is written:

“ There is none righteous, no, not one;
11 There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
12 They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”[b]
13 “ Their throat is an open tomb;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;[c]

“ The poison of asps is under their lips”;[d]
14 “ Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”[e]
15 “ Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 Destruction and misery are in their ways;
17 And the way of peace they have not known.”[f]
18 “ There is no fear of God before their eyes.”[g]

Because of our sinful hearts, all mankind is under His wrath and judgment. Simply by the fact that we die, shows this to be true, for death is a judgment of God on mankind. Some men simply die of old age, some die of natural disasters. God can use both primary and secondary causes in bringing about this judgment. In the case of natural disasters, such as hurricanes, I would say that this is a secondary cause. God is using it for His eternal purpose, but I would not say that those who die in those cause are any more sinful than those of us who survived. We all deserved that death, but for His reasons, He chose to let us survive through the natural disaster.

Sometimes He is the primary cause of the death of a sinner. For instance, take Ananias and Saphira in Acts. They lied to the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit struck them dead for doing so. That is a case of God being the primary cause. Their sin was so wicked, that He struck them dead. He has every right to do so.

But please don’t jump to conclusions. We have been dealing with God’s Holiness here. There is also His love as well, for while all men are under His wrath, He does choose to save some of them. Those who are in Jesus Christ, while we still die, even in natural disasters, we do not die eternally because we are in Christ. Remember Paul’s wonderful words to the Philippians. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For[a] I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.

Paul knew the moment that he died, he would be with Christ. This is true for all believers in Jesus Christ. Those who are in Christ by faith, are immediately with Him in paradise. The suffering of this life is done. No more earthquakes, no more tornadoes, no more deadly bee stings, or car accidents. All these things are passed and the Christian has eternal bliss with Christ.

I think this is what Lutzer was laboring to convey, although he didn’t have the time. The disasters of this week are not only God’s judgment on mankind, but also a warning to us. Luke 13:4-5 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.

If we are so foolish as to think we are not in need of saving by Christ, then we will perish like those who died under the tower in Siloam, or the earthquake in China. Therefore we should repent and believe in Jesus Christ. He is the sustainer of all things. Paul tells us in Colossians 1, that all things are held together by Him and for Him. My faith is in HIM. Is yours?

Volcano Chaiten

There other sites that have dealt with the environmental impact this Chilean volcano is having on our climate, namely Rivka’s site (corrected!) as well as Mike’s America. Both their sites help us see that we really don’t have that much of an impact on the climate like many say we do. We really are quite small and insignificant when it comes to our world.

But I just wanted you to see the awesome power of a volcano. This one volcano will lead to cooler temperatures in the next year or so, and it’s just one volcano. I got to climb up one in the Philippines back in April 2000, and it was awesome in and of itself. Of course, it wasn’t erupting. Don’t think I’m brave enough for that. But the size of it was massive. Just the plume from this one below, shows the power of volcanoes, and God’s power.

Closing Comments on Calvinism

I know that most of my political readers are believer, but probably not Calvinist. But let me encourage you to listen to the closing debate between James White, the Calvinist, and George Bryson, the Arminian. Bryson doesn’t appear on the video. But White’s comments are a good summary of the beliefs of Calvinism. Please listen to it, it’s worth the thought.

HT: Heath.

BTW, Andrew watched the video twice on Saturday! You know it has to be good to keep the attention of a 3 year old. Needless to say, I’m hoping to raise him as a solid Calvinist.

John Piper on Legalism

John Piper on legalism: “It seems beyond doubt that God hates legalism as much as He hates alcoholism. And I believe it is a literal understatement that legalism has brought more people to eternal ruin than alcohol has, though the devastations of alcohol are huge.

“Let us not be deceived by outward appearances. Satan ‘disguises himself as an angel of light’ (2 Cor. 11:14). He keeps his deadliest diseases most sanitary. He clothes his captains in religious garments and houses his weapons in temples. Legalism is a more dangerous disease than alcoholism because it doesn’t look like one. Alcoholism makes men fail; legalism helps them succeed in the world. Alcoholism makes men depend upon the bottle; legalism makes them self-sufficient, depending on no one. Alcoholism destroys moral resolve; legalism gives strength. Alcoholics don’t feel welcome in the church; legalist love to hear their morality extolled in church.”

“Therefore, what we need in the church is not front-end regulations to try to keep ourselves pure. We need to preach and pray and believe that neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, neither teetotalism nor social drinking, neither legalism nor alcoholism is of any avail with God, but only a new heart.”

From Brothers, We Are Not Professionals.

Amazing Grace

I found the following at Gunny’s site (btw, have you noticed that I get one great post a week from Gunny’s site. You might check it out.) This is Whitney Phipps showing us that the black keys of the piano are the notes used by slaves to write the Negro Spirituals. He also says that the most popular Negro Spiritual ever written was by a white man. The words were written by a white man, the tune was written by: “unknown.” Phipps sings it for us, and if are not moved by his performance of it… check your pulse and call the mortician.

BTW, another great quote in the video, he said the older black lady told him, “If the mountain was smooth, you wouldn’t be able to climb it.” Classic.

Lordship Salvation

Th Lordship Salvation debate is a new debate in Christian circles, about 20 years old, but it is one worth thinking about. The basic question is: can Jesus be my savior without being my Lord?

The question is driven by those who see people express belief or give a profession of faith, but then drift away and never show any real spiritual fruit in their lives. They want so badly to say these people are saved because they did profess faith, even no fruit has been see. This is the Free Grace side of the debate. They say that grace is so free, that we never have to bear any fruit at all. In fact, they say those of us who tend to hold the opposite view are works oriented. This is quite a charge all together. They are basically saying that we are making works a part of salvation.

We are not. What we are saying is that if there is true faith, true grace in a persons life, there will be true works as well. The often used passage to this is the thief on the cross. The Free Grace types point to this and say, “but what about him? What works did he perform?” We would respond by saying the fruit of repentance was clearly seen and expressed by the thief. He freely admitted his sinfulness and confessed to Christ’s lordship when he asked to be with Jesus when Christ came to His Kingdom.

The other often site passage is Ephesians 2:8-9. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

To which we would readily agree. We are not saved by works at all, but by faith alone. But the faith that saves us is NOT alone. Just look at verse 10 of the same passage: For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

God saves us, makes us new in Christ, in order for us to do good works that He has prepared beforehand to do. He is calling us to walk in obedience, and the one that does not, has no real assurance of salvation. If we are disciples, then we will have good works. It a natural by product of who we are and we will have a deep desire to do such, because Jesus IS our Lord.

Those who claim otherwise, are seeking ways to remain in disobedience. But the true believer will have no desire to remain in disobedience and will seek to be holy, because He is holy.

The following is from the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals and is their Question of the Week.

Is the Alliance for or against Lordship Salvation?

Question Box

I think I may confidently state that there is no one affiliated with the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals who takes a stand against the basic ideas of lordship salvation. That is, we firmly assert that one must have Jesus as Lord in order to have Him as Savior. The New Testament could not possibly be clearer on this matter — see Luke 9:23-24, Ephesians 2:10, Romans 8:3-4, just for starters. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone apart from works. But we are saved to do good works, so that a professing believer who bears no fruit has no biblical grounds to hope for salvation. “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves never is alone.” Here is how we properly relate Paul’s teaching on justification and James’ teaching. Paul insists that works are joined to faith but not to justification. That is, to summarize Galatians, “Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith’” (Gal. 3:11), and “In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love” (Gal. 5:6). Faith in Christ alone justifies, but that faith works through love. Therefore, while Paul asserts that we are justified by a living faith alone, James denies that we are justified by a dead faith. Paul’s affirmation and James’ denial go hand in hand to present justification by faith alone, which faith always works.

A good book to read on this is Dr. James Boice’s Christ’s Call to Discipleship. That book really was his response to the denials of “Lordship Salvation.” It is not by chance that John MacArthur wrote the preface to that book and that Boice wrote the preface to MacArthur’s The Gospel According to Jesus Christ.

Rev. Richard Phillips is the chair of the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology and senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church Coral Springs, Margate, Florida.

Yummy Good Intentions!

The Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman once said, “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.”

The cartoon by Eric Allie, really captures liberals at their worst. Of course, we know that their intentions are good. The problem with many of the mandates the ecoterrorist put forth is that they are not based in fact or reality. Take for instance the above mandates of ethanol. The intentions were good. Use ethanol and help reduce our dependency on foreign oil. Practically speaking, the only people who benefit from ethanol are the corn growers of Iowa, who are subsidized.

The downfall of these intentions: higher food prices and even pollution from ethanol that may be worse than the pollution released by gasoline. The answer to this is to put a halt to ethanol, not continue to subsidize it, hoping it will replace our dependency on foreign, or domestic oil. After all, can we really produce enough ethanol to replace that much oil? No way. The only thing we have more off than oil is water. Until we can efficiently turn that into fuel, oil is here to stay.

Read more on the problem with ethanol in an editorial by Senator Kay Baily Hutchinson, R-TX, here.

California Good Intentions
The other ridiculous intention by liberals is seen in California. California is a hotbed for liberals and their good intentions. This is why they have rolling blackouts like they did in 2000 and 2001. The reason? They refuse to generate their own electricity. They have gone so far to shut down perfectly good nuclear reactors in their attempts to be green friendly.

One such reactor, the Rancho Seco nuclear power plant had the capability to put out 900 megawatts of power, enough to power 900,000 homes, but the greenies shut it down, and use the area to produce solar energy. Their solution now produces a measly 4 megawatts of power. Four! Thank you good intentions. If you want to read more, go here.

Yes, California probably leads the nation in being green when it comes to energy production. The sad reality is that it gets most of its energy from the surrounding states that use things like coal to produce their energy. So in reality, they are merely hypocrites in their energy plan. If those surrounding states go as green as California, then California will be the leading state in going black, as in black outs.

The point of all this is that environmentalism doesn’t work. It’s riddled with flaws and all it seeks to do is send us back to the dark ages (which is odd, since most of these tree huggers tend to atheist as well, and accuse Christians of being in the dark ages when it comes to our faith). If we want to know if their good intentions actually work, we don’t have to look far. I wish that Congress would quit listening to these wackos with good intentions, and see that God has provide for us. It’s called ANWR! We need the energy found there. Let’s do it.

Sunday’s Sermon

Charles Spurgeon writes the following concerning Matthew 5:43, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour.”

“LOVE thy neighbour.”

Perhaps he rolls in riches, and you are poor, and living in your little cot side-by-side with his lordly mansion; thou see every day his estates, his fine linen, and his sumptuous banquets; God has given him these gifts, covet not his wealth, and think no hard thoughts concerning him. Be content with your own lot, if you cannot better it, but do not look upon thy neighbour, and wish that he were as thyself. Love him, and then you will not envy him.
Mayhap, on the other hand, you are rich, and near you reside the poor. Do not scorn to call them neighbour. Own that you are bound to love them. The world calls them your inferiors. In what are they inferior? They are far more your equals than your inferiors, for “God hath made of one blood all people that dwell upon the face of the earth.” It is your coat which is better than theirs, but you are by no means better than they. They are men, and what are you more than that? Take heed that you love your neighbour even though he be in rags, or sunken in the depths of poverty.”[1]

Spurgeon’s devotional is a good reminder of the sovereignty of God and our responsibility regarding our neighbors. We are to love our neighbors, which is at the heart of all the second portion of the Ten Commandments. How? By not murdering, stealing, committing adultery, gossiping about them, nor, as we see in the Tenth Commandment, coveting their possessions.

When we come to this final commandment in the Decalogue, we will find at the root of it is God’s sovereignty, as well as our corrupt will and desires. This command is meant to help teach us to trust in His sovereignty and to deal with the evil desires of our hearts. What is the command?

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

Understanding the Sin

First, we learn about coveting. You would think we would naturally know this, but we don’t. Even the Apostle Paul had to learn about coveting. Paul writes in Romans 7, that he would not have known what covetousness was unless the has said, “You shall not covet.”

Here we have master in the Law, and yet, he had to have his mind illuminated to the reality of this sin by God.

John Calvin wrote of Paul saying: “…let us remember what Saint Paul says, who being reputed as a great and wise theologian, having been nurtured in the law of God from his childhood, was nevertheless so blind that he did not understand that our poverty was part of the law of God until he was converted and our Lord Jesus Christ illumined him by his gospel to the end that he understood where the law of God must lead.”[2]

Calvin will go on to remind us that for all those who knew Paul before his conversion, he was a righteous man and held in high esteem. He did not “display evil that people could perceive and that was recognized by them, so much so that he justified himself in his imagination.”

But the Law took that from Paul. The Law showed him just how far he was from true righteousness. What did Paul covet? Was it the praise of men? Was it more money? Was it a better home? Was it prestige? Was it another’s wife?

Probably all the same things that we covet as well.

So what is it to covet? Coveting involves desiring that which does not belong to us. It is an “insatiable desire of getting the world[3].”

Augustine defined it as, “to desire more than enough.”

Proverbs 30:15-16 The leech has two daughters— Give and Give!
There are three things that are never satisfied,
Four never say, “Enough!”: The grave,[a]
The barren womb,
The earth that is not satisfied with water—
And the fire never says, “Enough!”

The leach is never satisfied… neither is coveting or greed.

The idea is that for those who desire the world, enough, never is enough. The desire is always for more and more and more. How much is enough? One billionaire responded: “just one dollar more.”

Coveting is desiring more and more, and it never satisfies.

The problem with coveting, is that at the heart of this sin is a basic challenge to God’s sovereignty in our lives. We are basically telling God that He has some how missed the mark on what we have and what we should have. In our hearts, we are challenging Him on His decrees. We are saying that He was wrong in His decrees, and wrong in what He has given to us, and that He is somehow deficient because He has failed to give us all that we need.

The sad reality is that He has given us all that we need, and then more on top of that. Remember, all that we have is by His hand.

Q. 12. What are the decrees of God?

A. God’s decrees are the wise, free, and holy acts of the counsel of his will,[43] whereby, from all eternity, he hath, for his own glory, unchangeably foreordained whatsoever comes to pass in time,[44] especially concerning angels and men.

The point is that if we are rich, it is because He ordained it. If we are poor, it is because He ordained it. We need to learn satisfaction where we are, accepting His hand, and if we are able, then work out of poverty, if that is what we desire.

There is nothing wrong with desiring good things. But to allow those things to become our gods, our obsessions, and occupy our minds, is to move into idolatry, and to challenge Him on His decrees.

Augur’s prayer…

Proverbs 30:7-9 Two things I request of You
(Deprive me not before I die):
8 Remove falsehood and lies far from me;
Give me neither poverty nor riches—
Feed me with the food allotted to me;
9 Lest I be full and deny You,
And say, “Who is the LORD?”
Or lest I be poor and steal,
And profane the name of my God.

What we are not to Covet

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

This isn’t that difficult to understand. We are not to covet anything that belongs to our neighbor. The last clause of the commands shows clearly this be the case and shows us forethought in God’s mind on the day when our neighbor’s ox is not all the desirable.

Just look at what is forbidden. If you desire your neighbor’s wife, you desire to break what God has bound together and committed adultery in you heart. That means that you are breaking more than one commandment in desiring that.

Next, we are not to desire his servants, male or female. No need to discuss this here since it is moot.

But we are also to not desire the ox or the donkey. The key here is understanding that these animals were needed for business. The more donkeys and oxen you have, the more money you can make. Again, this comes back to the principle of accepting our place in society, whether rich or poor. God has placed us there and we are to only change those circumstances if we can do so in a lawful means, otherwise we need to trust in God and His sovereign hand.

Ways We Covet

Thomas Watson gives us six ways that a man covets. I find this helpful, for it helps us see how we commit the sin.

First, when our thoughts are wholly taken up with the world, and not the things of God. Psalm 139:17-18 17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.

The man of God is focused upon God, not the world. Not so with the man that covets the world. His thoughts are always upon the world and how to get more of it. His mind is constantly dwelling on the world, and his desire for more of it.

Secondly, a man may be said to be given to covetousness, when he spends more time trying to get the world, than he does trying to get heaven. “He will turn every stone, break his sleep, take many a weary step for the world; but will take no pains for Christ or heaven.”

Never spends time in God’s word, meditating upon it, dwelling in His presence, worshipping Him, focusing on Christ. He doesn’t have time for that. He will suffer where necessary in order to gain the world, but only desire heaven. Heaven is not that important to Him. He just wants the benefits of heaven, without the sacrifice.

This also plays itself out in the man or woman that are too busy for the spiritual realm. He is to busy to focus on the things of God, by being busy. I think this is far to prevalent in our lives today. There are so many ways for us to fill our lives with so many things, that we never take time, like Mary, to set at the feet of Christ and listen to Him.

Luke 10:38-42 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’[a] feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
41 And Jesus[b] answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

We covet the world too much when we refuse to let Christ have any of our time because of the busyness of the world.

Third, a man who is given to covetousness when he sets his heart upon worldly things, that for the love of them, he will part with the heavenly. He is willing to pass on the gospel in order to keep his earthly possessions. This is the saddest of all, because we know that in the end, we get to keep nothing.

Remember the story of the rich, young ruler. He came asking questions about eternal life, but he wasn’t willing to part with those things that he desired the most.

Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good[a] Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
17 So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good?[b] No one is good but One, that is, God.[c] But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
18 He said to Him, “Which ones?”
Jesus said, “ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ 19 ‘Honor your father and your mother,’[d] and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[e]
20 The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth.[f] What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

The reality is that this man did not keep the commands. He coveted the world, more than he desired eternal life. This is sad, Jesus showed the rich ruler his area of weakness, and the man refused to heed to words. His possessions were his world, they were his idol and those possessions were keeping him from the one thing he could not lose if he ever obtained it: salvation.

What is keeping you from salvation? What is keeping you from a closer relationship with Christ? What worldly thoughts, keep you from intimate conversation with Christ?

For the rich ruler, his possessions.

Ways to Over Come Covetousness

First, we do so by strengthening our faith. 1 John 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our[a] faith.

“The root of covetousness is distrust of God’s providence.” We get so caught up in our fears, that we begin to long for something that doesn’t belong to us, whether it is more money, a better job with more money, a bigger house with more money, a better car with more money, a better family with more money.

The answer to this is not more money, or coveting after something He has not given to us, but trusting Him in the situation He has placed us. Remember, that ultimately coveting is driven by a distrust of God’s sovereignty. We are saying to Him: “You have failed.”

But turning back to Scripture, we are reminded of the God who keeps His promises to take care of us, even in poverty.

Secondly, we over come this sin by having a proper view of life. The things we covet are nothing more than refashioned junk, that will return to junk in the long run.

Remember the rich-young ruler? He could not bend the knee because his possessions. Just think about that where he sits right now, this very moment. None of those possessions are still around. They are no longer bringing Him happiness. Therefore, let’s learn from him. Our souls, our faith, our time with Christ is far more precious than anything we possess or own. So to hope for more possessions, knowing that it will all pass away, is a waste of time.

Thirdly, we overcome it by fixing our eyes on Christ and being reminded of His perfect life without covetousness.

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 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.

The best course of action when we find ourselves faced with sin is to turn to Christ. Trying to turn to our own flesh to overcome it the very way we fall short. This is done by prayer and the word of God. We focus on Him in both, asking Him for relief from the temptation.

This is not saying we do not have a responsibility in the matter. We do. We see the admonition to flee from sin in the New Testament.

1 Corinthians 10:13-15 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say.

Paul gives us these instructions to flee from idolatry. Don’t sit still, but turn away from it, run from it, put it behind you. Why? Because sin is evil. If we are to be holy, because He is holy, we must act in a way that we can. If that involves fleeing the sin, so be it.

1 Timothy 6:10-12 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Again, we are shown that we do have a responsibility in our sanctification. Flee the things that will hinder us, and pursue those things of God.

I like what John Calvin has to say on this.

“…let us realize that in order to serve God well, it isn’t simply a matter of our desiring to do good and to derive profit from it, rather we have to purge ourselves of all wicked affections and all corrupt thought to the extent that everything within us directs us toward the goal of fully surrendering ourselves to God. Let us not display that we have been distracted to turn to one side or the other, but let us be wholly in control (of ourselves) in order to run without impediments or stopping, indeed, to run in the way that God shows us, in such a manner as to be wholly pure.”[4]

Calvin isn’t suggesting that we can live pure lives in and of ourselves. He continues: “Now this ought to serve us in a twofold sense: on the one hand, we ought to pray for God to govern us more ardently by his Holy Spirit and to purge us of all vices and corruptions, and then having prayed that, each of us (ought) to take hold of himself, lest we do violence to our nature, to all our senses, (and) all our desires, seeing that there is nothing but rebellion in us against God’s law.”

In other words, we pray for God to aid us, guide us and direct us in overcoming these evil desires that the Law reveals to us. We also see these evil desires for what they are, and head back to Christ.

It is Christ that delivers us from our covetous evil desires. Christ is the one who is pure in this regard. In Him, we find just the opposite of our covetousness. We find one who emptied Himself, and coveted nothing.

Philippians 2:5-8 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

Christ was perfect and covet-less. He is our standard, and our righteousness.


1 Timothy 6:13-16

I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’ appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.

[1] Spurgeon, from Morning and Evening.

[2] John Calvin’s Sermons on the Ten Commandments, edited and translated by Benjamin W. Farley, Baker Book House, p. 221.

[3] Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments.

[4] Calvin, p. 225.