Friday, February 27, 2009

Live Blogging from CYC

Well, this trip started out with a spirit that I think will last the whole weekend. Dalton, one if the finest young men I know, was not able to ride with us due to a fever and nausea. I quickly got on the phone to try and reach someone else in this area who may have been willing to let Dalton ride with them tomorrow should he get well. Long story short, Ryan Gallagher, the youth minister at Hamilton has an extra seat that was offered to Dalton. I feel that this weekend will have a tone of learning to lean on fellow members if Christ's body in times of need.
Other than that, nothing much to report. This day has been dedicated to travel and we finally settled in to our chalet around 2:00am.
Jason led us in a wonderful devo tonight focusing on materialism and Christ's warning to "Watch Out" for love of things.
Tomorrow will be a fun sight seeing day and the lectures and praise begin tomorrow night. Please pray for us.

-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

He Won't Let You Down

I came to a stark conclusion today. People, including ourselves, let you down. I continually let myself down. I may have the best intentions in the world but I often let myself down. People, regardless of their intentions, let us down. Rather it boils down to original sin or not it doesn't matter because the proof is in the pudding as they say. We set unrealistic expectations. We want what we can't have. We ask too much. We make promises we know will be difficult to keep. We will let one another down. We are covered in flesh and that alone makes us fallible beyond compare.

I say that to say this. There is only one being in my life that I can have 100% confidence in. That being is the one and only true God, the father of Jesus Christ and the giver of the Holy Spirit. I know with all my heart that if I recognize myself as the gutless, dark, and weak human that I am that then He will look down on me in mercy and guide me along still waters. I know that when I find myself in situations that only a wretched man or woman could allow them self to fall into that He will give me the strength, thoughts, and words to be able to place myself back where I can look to Him with a clean heart and without guilt or heartache partake of His son's sacrifice. I know that when I look at my influence on others and where I once felt shame and suffering for my actions, He will give me the opportunities and guidance to be able to scream at the top of my lungs "LOOK AT WHAT THIS GREAT GOD HAS DONE WITH ME."

God is the only thing in my life who has never, and I have faith, will never let me down. He is the sun and the moon. He is the stars and grass. He is the time and the pause. He is the smile of my children and the strength of their hearts. He is my conviction and redemption. He has taken me and made me realize that without Him I am and can do nothing, even today and definitely tomorrow. He is the opener of my eyes to see all men and women as they are and has given me the desire to reach to everyone of them and tell them of Jesus.

He is God. He is Good. He is Holy. He is worthy. He is perfect. He is God.

Monday, February 23, 2009

What A Great Country

The following is the text of an e-mail I received earlier today and shows that the U.S. truly is the land of opportunity, especially if you are a perverted politician who knows the right people:

The picture you see to your left is one Mr. Mel Reynolds. He is Jesse Jackson's newest staff member. Here's the story linked to him: Jesse Jackson has added former Chicago Democrat Congressman Mel Reynolds to Rainbow/PUSH Coalition's payroll. Reynolds was among the 176 criminals excused in President Clinton's last-minute forgiveness spree. Reynolds received a commutation of his six-and-a-half-year federal sentence for 15 convictions of wire fraud, bank fraud, and lies to the Federal Election Commission. He is more notorious, however, for concurrently serving five years for sleeping with an underage campaign volunteer.
This is a first in American politics: An ex-congressman who had sex with a subordinate...won clemency from a president who had sex with a subordinate...then was hired by a clergyman who had sex with a subordinate!
His new job?
Ready for this??


Now, do any of you really wonder why God seems to be slowly but surely lowering his protection from around our nation?

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Means of Grace & Understanding the Baptism of Christ

The following is a response to someone who challenged my belief that baptism is an important and integral part of the Christian's life and not just something we do to "follow Christ's example." To read the posting that inspired this post click here and read the comment section attached to the bottom. Please bear in mind that I post this here on my blog only to hope to spark discussion that leads to further understanding of Christ's baptism and the means of His grace.

Sarah, I am failing to see what parts of my post that you disagreed with. The very basis of your argument is one that eliminates grace. You are placing the burden of salvation on YOUR belief, not GOD'S election (see Colossians 1:1, "apostles by the will of God.") You cannot make a decision for Christ, God draws you through His word (faith comes by hearing the word of God). Most good Calvinists have a firm grip on the election by God so I don't assume to need to dwell on that point.
I will dwell on the means of grace though. I am sorry but your argument based on two scriptures taken out of context is quite the dangerous position and one that shows only an understanding of the word grace, not the means of grace. Firstly, you state that "I was baptized after being saved, and I did it because Christ did it and I was following his example." I'm sorry, but Christ did not come to this Earth to leave an example; rather he came to die on the cross to pay the debt for mankind, all of whom are wretched sinners born at war with God (assuming you beleieve in original sin).
Perhaps before you go any further you need to ask yourself why was Christ baptized by John the Baptist as we find in Mark 1? Remember, John's baptism was one for the remission of sins: did Christ have sin? Of course not. Jesus' baptism let the whole world know what it did not know before, that there was now a substitute for us because we are incapable of saving ourselves through "religion." It is the groundwork on the road to the cross, not some "example." Jesus came to a man who was unworthy to baptize Him in order to be treated like a sinner (just like someone crucified), and stand in waters with sinners who found John's preaching of repentance so appealing. Jesus, just like in his descent from heaven, came down to mankind's wretched level and was gladly baptized in the waters filled with sin. Jesus became the sinner in His baptism and we become saints through ours. Jesus' baptism made the act of baptsm matter and become a cleansing act to which many Holy promises are attached. It is a gift of Jesus bearing our humanity and wretchedness when we are convicted by the gosepl to see our depravity and are made to humble ourselves as sinners in need of a substitiute - a Savior - because we are unable to save ourselves.
Jesus said he was baptized in order to "fulfill all righteousness." Righteousness = the state of being right with God. We are baptized in order to become right in the sight of God. How could you possibly see Christ's baptism as "an example" when it was so beautifully so much more. Therefore I can denounce your claim that "One isn't baptized to be saved or to 'receive the Holy Spirit, becoming a pare of the kingdom of God...'" because I have scriptural basis to prove such. (Feel free to prove me wrong with scripture) Just as Christ received the Holy Spirit at his baptism, so did I; just as Christ was proclaimed as a child of God at his baptism, so am I; just as Christ's building of his kingdom began at that moment, so was I added to it at the moment of my baptism. These are not my ideas, but scriptural facts.
I know I am going on but I find this very important: you mentioned grace so feverishly but again, do you understand the means of grace or in other words how we as wretched men and women can access God's promises. Through Calvinist theology, the idea of grace has become very acceptable and people have no problem believing that all you must do is believe or say you believe and you are then considered righteous. Of course we would like that because it is pleasing to us and very easily obtianed.
Let's just take Joy's story above and what has dragged us down this corridor. My very comment to Joy that you took exception with was pointing out the elemental means of Christ's grace. There is another phrase for this and it is "visible word." Yes, the word of God does save us but Christ also used the visible word to extend even greater gifts. Could Christ not have saved the man's soul without restoring his sight, yes, by His word alone but Jesus chose to give this man even greater gifts (think about the gospel in context here and the promises attached to baptism). How did Christ go about doing that, not by his word alone but by the visible word. You can see the visible word today in doctrine that believes in the sacramental elements such as bread, fruit of the vine, and even water. Christ gave this man the gifts that only He could give through his visible word (the mud, the spit, the washing in the pool) and then if you continue reading in John 9, the man went out and endured persecution in the name of Christ and proclaimed Christ as his redeemer. It was only after this did Jesus come back and seek the man out (again, not the man seeking Jesus) and Jesus then sought his confession of faith and revealed himself to the man.
I'm sorry Sarah but I fear you missed my point completly. Just to back it up further, do you believe that Christ's blood is what saved us? If so, then you believe in the visible word. The blood that was poured out of Christ was real, an earthly element that probably could be assigned a blood type today. The sweat that he poured was real sweat produced from real human glands. All of these things are the visible word of God. Could God not just speak us into his favor? Of course he could but he has chosen a different course, one that asks that we not only believe in Him, but in the power of his visible word.
I would ask that you reevaluate your questions about baptism that you put in your comment as they are running over with law and sound an awful lot like something the Pharisees would ask. You said that baptism takes away the simplicity of the gift. I ask where in scripture are we ever promised a simple road to righteousness? Did the man's life in John 9 become simpler after receiving the gifts of Christ, yeah, he could see, but he underwent tremendous persecution. What about Paul or Peter? Were their lives simpler after becoming disciples? No, but they enjoyed an inner peace that only came through the receiving of Christ's promises attached to His word as well as His visible word. Yes, Christ's yoke is easy but only if we are willing to truly follow Him and live out his great commission every day.
I hope you don't see my tone as argumentative but I felt the need to clear up what I said because you obviously misunderstood my point. My hope is that none of this takes away from the beauty and sincerity in which Joy has written her original point, a point I feel I should point out that also detracts from any doctrine of simplicity.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Who is This Lucifer? Reflections from a Study of Isaiah

Ever feel lied to? Ever feel like the people you trust to guide you in the right direction have given you false information? Well, I have and at no time can I remember questioning more about the Biblical truths that I had been taught than when I decided to delve into a deep study of demons in the Bible. This occurred a few years back and there was one thing that stood out to me from everything that I found in this study. There is no Biblical backing for the fact that Satan was a fallen angel. Actually, other than the embodiment of evil, no study of scripture can lead to any true definition or understanding of Satan.

As I have continued in my recent study of the book of Isaiah, I was remined of this fact and of one of the verses that even to this day men use to back the seeming falsehood that Satan was a fallen angel. The verses of course are Isaiah 14:12-15 which read:

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! 13 You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ 15 But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit. (ESV - note, KJV reads "O Day Star, son of Dawn" as "Lucifer")

Yes, this would seem like a good description of Satan as we read about him in Revelation 12 and Luke 10 but it is not even discussing him. Men have taken these verses in Isaiah and ignored the context of the writing in order to fit their idea that this chapter must be speaking of Isaiah. How dangerous. How heretic?
Without delving too deep into the study, no, Isaiah 14:12-15 is not describing Satan. Rather, in context, it a taunt that God is instructing the house of Jacob to shout when this prophecy against the king of Babylon is fulfilled. No more, no less. Now, there are many great lessons in this passage but none of them give us an understanding of Satan's fall from grace. Let us all strive to follow the rules of Bible study, especially when teaching those younger in their faith than we. Context is so important and when violated leads to confusion and hurt.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Where Do You Live?

Gallup just put out a a new map charting the results of their latest poll in religious beliefs in the U.S.

Click here to read the entire stoy from World Net Daily.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

An Atheist With a Point

The embedded video below features Penn Gillette of the comedy/magic duo Penn and Teller. Penn has lived his life as an outspoked atheist and makes no bones about his belief that there is NO GOD (as he proclaims in this video). Although he does ramble on quite a bit in the video, bear with it as he raises a very relevant and introspective question. If you are trying to live out the great commission or inspire others to live it with you, you need to hear what he asks. Enjoy: