29 November 2013

This 'n' That

Well, it's Black Friday. I don't know what you've been doing, but I've been shopping since 3:00 AM. Why? Because nothing says 'happy holidays' like exhausted shoppers with over-extended credit cards. Nothing says 'Christmas cheer' like grabbing that last 'it' toy off the shelf. Nothing says 'let's celebrate the birth of the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ' like more stuff.

photo credit: optikfluffel via photopin cc
If you suspected I was fibbing about my Black Friday shopping, you'd be correct. After all, I hate shopping on a regular day, so why would I want to do it with thousands of other people in the wee hours of the morning?

I just don't understand Black Friday. I don't understand why it now starts on Thursday night, and I don't understand the allure of getting those deals. I mean, you do realize that a lot of stores probably hike up the prices a few days before and then mark them back down so that fabulous deal you're getting is really the same price it would have been a couple of weeks ago, right? And you do realize that the only thing you're probably guaranteed of obtaining today is a shopping bag's worth of germs, don't you? Yeah, enjoy that.

As for me, if I have to shop, I prefer to do as much as possible online. And I've spent all week shopping for these stories for you, so I hope that you grab a leftover piece of pie, pour a cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

28 November 2013

Give Thanks with All of Your Heart

We thank You, Lord, for the beauty of Your creation.
As you give thanks today, whether you are surrounded by family or eating alone, and whether your circumstances are filled with joy or plagued by sorrow, remember that the Lord is good in all that He gives to His children. In affliction and pain as well as in gladness and comfort, He is good.

Whether this year has found your family strengthened or split apart; whether sin has ravaged relationships or Christ has undergirded them; whether the bills are paid with confidence or doubt, the Lord is kind. He always provides for those who are His and His promises are sure and certain.

If we are in Christ we are thankful that we know to Whom we offer our thanks. We are thankful that we can rest in His sovereignty and trust in His perfect providence. We look around us at the wonder and beauty of His creation, and we thank Him for the blessing of allowing us to enjoy it each day. We are thankful for each sunrise, each singing bird, each raindrop and each unique flake of snow. We are grateful for His common grace and for putting on display His power and His divine nature.

26 November 2013

NoCo90: 'The Corridors of Time'


If you have an idea or suggestion for an episode of NoCo90, contact No Compromise Radio at their website, on their Facebook page, or via email at: info [@] nocompromiseradio.com.

Additional Resources
NoCo90: God's Revelation Is Not Deficient
NoCo90: Faith Healing Frauds
NoCo90: Donate Buttons and Christian Begging

25 November 2013

The Quest for 'More' Denigrates the Sufficiency of the Word

Dr. John MacArthur; photo courtesy of Grace to You
It is not at all hard to find examples from church history of groups and individuals who believed God was speaking directly to them apart from Scripture. But surely in two thousand years of history the quest for this kind of personal prophecy has never been as widespread and as pervasive as it is today.

Church history also reveals that since the canon of Scripture was closed, virtually every "prophet" who ever spoke a "thus saith the Lord" has been proved wrong, recanted, or gone off track doctrinally. And since the apostolic era, every movement that has depended heavily on extra biblical prophecy has ultimately digressed from the true faith, usually falling into serious corruption or heresy.

This is precisely why the sufficiency of Scripture—sola Scriptura—is such a crucial doctrine. If the written Word of God truly is able to give us all the wisdom we need for complete salvation, and if it is able to make us adequate, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:15–17)—then is there really any necessity for additional "prophecies" in the life of the believer? Does God need to say more to us than He has already said? This is a question advocates of modern prophetic revelation would do well to ponder carefully.

24 November 2013

Guest Post: Genuine vs. False Assurance

I'm excited to welcome back Hariton "Harry" Deligiannides as a guest blogger here at Do Not Be Surprised. Harry serves as an elder at Bethlehem Bible Church in West Boylston, MA. He already has blessed us with the articles, "Bible Study in a Morgue?", "Whispers and Campaigns Do Not Preach the Word," and "Apostasy and the Perseverance of the Saints." I'm certain you'll enjoy this latest article as well!

Genuine vs. False Assurance

photo: Lel4nd via photopin cc
I grew up in an Arminian evangelical church. Arminian because I was taught that I had the free will to make a decision for Christ, that I could take the first movement toward God on my own. The problem with that is that unless the Spirit of God regenerates a spiritually dead person, a spiritual corpse cannot make any movement toward God.

I knew in my head that I was a sinner and that only Christ could save. I used to say that I was saved at the age of 11 when I accepted Christ into my heart and prayed the sinner’s prayer. Then I rededicated my life to the Lord the summer after I graduated high school before I went off to college.

As I grew in my understanding of the doctrine of salvation, I changed my testimony to saying that God saved me that summer after graduating high school and not at the age of 11. Why? Because that is when I surrendered to Him as my Lord. It was then I really began to grow in Christ and have a desire to serve Him.

I remember a couple of summers ago I was at a Christian camp with my family. During lunch one day, one of the camp counselors sat at our table, so I engaged her as I often do and asked her testimony. She shared a typical evangelical Arminian testimony that she accepted Christ and then later rededicated her life. So I encouraged her to reconsider that maybe when she 'rededicated' her life is when the Lord truly saved her.

So, what is the basis of our assurance of salvation? Is the basis of our assurance a prayer we prayed or a rededication of our lives? What about those who truly are assured of their salvation, but they are not truly saved? They have a false assurance! There are many in this category. Or what about those who are truly saved but have doubts about their salvation? Let’s examine both categories and the basis of their assurance.

Sunday Morning Praise

Thanks to God

22 November 2013

This 'n' That

photo credit: tlindenbaum via photopin cc
As I wander through day-to-day life, I'm always on the lookout for blog fodder. This week was no exception, though I gleaned my material early, on Sunday in fact. Here in the Midwest, some brutal storms swept through on Sunday afternoon and evening. Like many others, I found myself sitting in the basement, waiting for the tornado warning to expire as I prayed for God's protection. Several things crossed my mind in the time that I waited in the underground.

First, it occurred to me anew just how good and right and just it would be if God, in His perfect providence, decided not to spare my family and I or our possessions. I found that the thought, and the real possibility that such a thing could happen, tested my trust in Him. It thus urged me to alter my prayers, not just that evening, but from that point forward, to reflect a desire for Him to strengthen my confidence in His provision even more than He already has in recent months. For all of this, and for His ultimate protection through the literal storm, I am profoundly thankful.

My second thought was this: what is Gloria Copeland doing right now? I had this thought because in the past, Copeland has taught that it is man who controls the weather. Yes, that's right. Ken and Gloria Copeland rebuke tornadoes.


So where were the Copelands when at least six people were killed by multiple tornadoes this past Sunday? Where were the Copelands when Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the Philippines, killing what now is being reported as nearly 5,000 people? And where are the 'open-but-cautious' charismatics in rebuking and condemning this kind of nonsense in their own movement? Such a teaching reflects the idea of positive confession, that man's words have power to create, destroy and control. This doctrine is not only absurd, it is utterly dangerous.

God controls the weather. He controls the storms, the typhoons, the hurricanes, the droughts. He controls the climate and ultimately, He is in control of the final fate of this earth. That is why we place our faith and trust in Him. That is why we do not rely on ourselves or on our fleeting circumstances, but only God. How gracious He is and how blessed we are to have such a powerful and personal God.

Now, if you'll excuse me, there's some cold weather headed my way this weekend, and I'm going to go see if I can find a chill-rebuking spell to scare it away. If that doesn't work, maybe I'll just make a pot of chili instead. While I'm busy doing that, I hope you take some time to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

20 November 2013

God's Providence Extends to the Smallest Things

Photo: Monergism.com
God's providence extends to the smallest things, to the sparrow and to the hairs of our heads. He governs every particular passage in our lives. This should teach us to look up to heaven for permission, power, and perseverance in all the affairs of life. We should not do anything in which we cannot expect God's guidance, and this, so we can trust him for a blessing upon all that we do.

One way or the other, God will provide for his children. If we could live by faith as we should, we would not worry about anything, for God has promised liberally to provide for us, and if we could believe, he will not be less than his Word. He does suffer his children to lack a few outward things, but it is always for their good. God always gives us patience to suffer and to wait for the time of his deliverance. God often allows his children to come to great extremities and desperate estates, yea, even to the jaws of death itself, as Hezekiah, Job, Jonah, David, Daniel, and the three children. He allowed his disciples to be overwhelmed with water before he took notice of it. The Father suffered his only Son upon the cross: 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'

When it comes to pass that all natural and ordinary means fail, we must look to a more durable and constant help—God's own good will and power. When we have experienced his helping hand, we are able to rely more confidently upon him in all adversities. His power is seen in man's weakness. God is never nearer than in our extremities. He allows these to test us that he might exercise his grace in us. We should not be dismayed, though we find ourselves in the most forlorn estate. Every man's life is a struggle, but in our extremities our graces are strengthened.

– Richard Sibbes

Further Reading
Scared Millennials, 'Churchy' Phrases and Authority
Pope Francis: 'When We Encounter the Cross, We Turn to Mary'
Apostasy and the Perseverance of the Saints

NoCo90: Sinner's Prayers and Regeneration


If you have an idea or suggestion for an episode of NoCo90, contact No Compromise Radio at their  website, on their Facebook page, or via email at: info [@] nocompromiseradio.com.

Additional Resources
NoCo90: No Free Will in Heaven
NoCo90: Faith Healing Frauds
NoCo90: Donate Buttons and Christian Begging

Delivering a Distorted Gospel to Congress

The anti-poverty group 'Circle of Protection' has ensured that the false gospel of social justice is disseminated to all members of the U.S. Congress. The Christian Post reports:
Source
Over the course of the 16-day-long government shutdown last month, members of the 65 denominations and relief and development agencies composing the coalition, publicly read the nearly 2,100 Bible verses pertaining to poverty and justice and vowed to reinforce the Scripture's messages to their Congressmen and women.

Beau Underwood, the Director for Campaigns and Advocacy at Christian social justice group Sojourners, said that as the government shutdown looked imminent, many of the Circle of Protection's members began discussing how Christians ought to respond to it.

"All of our organizations are non-partisan and none of us wanted to be seen as really prodding along either political party because that's not what we're called to do—we're called to be faithful witnesses in the public square—and so through those conversations arose the idea of 'What if we just stayed on message?'" Underwood told The Christian Post.

The edition of the Bible the group decided to mail to Congress members highlights each Bible verse discussing justice and poverty. It also includes a 64-page section that profiles the challenges faced by immigrants, refugees, widows, and other oppressed people to whom the Bible calls its adherents to reach out.
(Source)
The 'Poverty and Justice' Bibles were donated by the American Bible Society, which "finds the edition a particularly helpful tool at reminding Christians that concern and action to help others is a central message in book." As evidenced by the American Bible Society's website for this publication, it has been endorsed by such Emerging Church leaders as Rob Bell and Shane Claiborne.

15 November 2013

This 'n' That

Source
As I pondered what to write for this post this morning, it occurred to me that the options floating around in my head all shared one common theme: complaint. Grumbling, murmuring, whining, bellyaching. So many words, all the same sin. Okay, so what if the 'handy man' (using the term loosely) who was at my house yesterday was a total jerk? So what if he claimed to be a Christian only five minutes after cussing and blaspheming the Lord Jesus Christ? Can I find anything praiseworthy in that? Yes—before he left the house, he had heard the Gospel. Or rather, the Gospel had been shared in his presence. Whether his arrogant ears were opened long enough to actually hear it or not is dependent upon the work of the Holy Spirit.

It is easy to complain and gripe about the inconveniences of one's situation. It is even easier, and perhaps a bit more justifiable, to lament the propagation of error in the name of Christ that is so prevalent in today's world. Ultimately, however, the Christian must return to the words and promises of Christ. This world will get worse and worse. No matter what the dominionists or the politicians tell you, it is not in the plan for this passing world to once again reflect the conditions of Eden. At least, not at the hands of men. One day this world will be destroyed, not because of those water bottles you forgot to recycle, but because of God's judgment (2 Peter 3:10) and a new heavens and a new earth "in which righteousness dwells" will come (2 Peter 3:13). Oh, and that is why the Christian rejoices that this world is not his home, and that is why the one who loves Christ looks forward with joy and anticipation toward eternity. The one who hates his sin looks forward to that day when there will no longer be any sin, and the one who despises the darkness cannot wait for that day when every hour is illuminated by the light of the Son.

With those thoughts in mind, push aside your gripes of the week and take a few moments to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

14 November 2013

Free to Obey God

Photo: GTY
The very purpose of grace is to free us from sin—"so we too might walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4). Grace is much more than mere forgiveness for our sins, or a free ride to heaven. Grace certainly does not leave us under sin's dominion. Saved by grace, "we are [God's own] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). Grace "[instructs] us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age" (Titus 2:12). This is the very reason Christ gave Himself for us: "That He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds" (Titus 2:14).

Yet it seems there have always been those who have corrupted the grace of God by turning it into lasciviousness (Jude v. 4). They characterize grace as total freedom, but they themselves are enslaved to corruption (2 Peter 2:19). Thus they nullify the grace of God (Galatians 2:21).

"The true grace of God" (1 Peter 5:12) does not offer freedom from moral restraint. Grace is no sanction for sin. On the contrary, it grants the believer freedom from sin. It frees us from the law and from sin's penalty, but it also liberates us from sin's absolute control. It frees us to obey God.

– John MacArthur, The Truth About Grace, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012), 92–93.

Further Reading
If Not for Amazing Grace
Affirming Sola Scriptura
Lydia's Conversion and God's Irresistible Grace

11 November 2013

Scared Millennials, 'Churchy' Phrases and Authority

Source
Many so-called 'millennials' grew up with commercial catch phrases like Burger King's® infamous motto 'Have it your way.' In fact, this blogger's fifth grade science teacher had a sign at the front of his room that read, "This isn't Burger King. You cannot have it your way. You have it my way or you don't have it at all."

Authority. It is something that human nature rails against, yet intrinsically all men know it exists and ultimately appreciate it. Without an authority to submit to, men lack boundaries, and where there are no boundaries there is relativism and chaos. Without authority, anything goes, and it will not be long before everything goes straight down into a quagmire of sin and darkness.

For the Christian, there is one ultimate authority, and that is God the Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. By the empowering of the Holy Spirit, the Christian is able to live in willing and obedient submission to the authority of his Lord and Savior. The Church is those who have been called out and saved by God. As the Church gathers together each week in various small 'c' churches, the authoritative Word of God is taught so that those who have been saved by God may come to know Him better and live godly lives, walking in a manner worthy of the salvation that they have been given. This weekly gathering, this time of worship through teaching, prayer and praise, prepares the Christian to walk into a hostile world and share with that world the most offensive message available: the Gospel.

10 November 2013

Pope Francis: 'When We Encounter the Cross, We Turn to Mary'

Though it is used in perhaps more materialistic marketing endeavors than any other symbol, the cross is far more than a piece of silver or gold hanging around a person's neck. It is more than a sign splattered across the back of a t-shirt. It is even more than a piece of wood hanging in a church sanctuary.

photo credit: shaggy359 via photopin cc
The cross, in spite of the world's overuse and abuse of it and its symbolism, lies at the very heart of Christianity, for it was upon a blood-spattered cross that the sinless One, the perfect Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ, died for sinners. It is where the wrath of God for the sins of men was satisfied. It is where one man, the God-man, who had lived a life of perfect obedience to God, gave His life so that many may live.

The cross brings us to our knees in a humbling awareness of our unworthiness. The cross lifts our tear-stained faces to the sky as we gaze upon the One who suffered and died in our place. The cross causes great songs of praise and thanksgiving to come forth from unclean lips, lips that have been purged and cleansed by the blood that drips from that same cross. Oh, the cross. The wonderful, glorious, precious cross.

Though He no longer hangs on that cross, when we approach this massive tool of execution we are brought before the Lord Jesus Christ. He was a willing and obedient substitute for unworthy sinners. How can we not thank Him for His sacrifice? Consider our Lord's words in the garden of Gethsemane the night before His murder:
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. Then He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me."
And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."
He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, "My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done." Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 
(Matthew 26:36–44, NASB) 

Sunday Morning Praise

E'en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come


Peace be to you, and grace from Him,
Who freed us from our sins,
Who loved us all, and shed his blood,
That we might sav├Ęd be.

Sing holy, holy to our Lord,
The Lord, Almighty God!
Who was and is, and is to come,
Sing holy, holy Lord.

Rejoice in Heaven, all ye that dwell therein,
Rejoice on earth, ye saints below,
For Christ is coming, is coming soon,
For Christ is coming soon.

E'en so, Lord Jesus, quickly come,
And night shall be no more;
They need no light, nor lamp, nor sun,
For Christ will be their All!

08 November 2013

This 'n' That

I am of the opinion that the best sermons are those that are easily illustrated by the use of cheesy 80s songs. Let's face it, your congregation is far more likely to remember a sermon series entitled 'Don't Walk Like an Egyptian' than they are an untitled sermon series that's simply based on those same boring books of the Bible. Don't you agree?

No, that's not me.
One of my morning runs this week reminded me of this fact. A lot of thoughts pass through my mind as I embark on my usual few miles through the local streets. And on one particular day this week, I found myself running against a rather strong wind. Yes, Bob Seger fans know where I'm going with this. It's okay, I'll give you a moment to hum the song silently to yourself.

Done? Okay. Any pastors who may be reading can use this idea free of charge. Just think of the sermon title: 'Does life have you running against the wind? Jesus is wind resistant.' The proof text for the sermon would obviously be Mark 4:39. And Seger's song is catchy enough that any third-rate praise band ought to be able to cover it at least moderately well.

I've made a similar suggestion in the past using Matthew Wilder's 'Break My Stride' and I think the 'Against the Wind' sermon series would be just as successful. I just hope Rick Warren or Perry Noble don't steal these ideas before I have a chance to market them. While I work on that, why don't you take a few moments to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

07 November 2013

04 November 2013

Commit Your Works to the Lord

photo credit: caese via photopin cc
The plans of the heart belong to man,
But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight,
But the Lord weighs the motives.
Commit your works to the Lord
And your plans will be established.
The Lord has made everything for its own purpose,
Even the wicked for the day of evil.
Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord;
Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.
By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for,
And by the fear of the Lord one keeps away from evil.
When a man's ways are pleasing to the Lord,
He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
Better is a little with righteousness
Than great income with injustice.
The mind of man plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.

01 November 2013

This 'n' That

Well, Pope Francis has attained everyone's ultimate goal: to have 10 million Twitter followers. That's right, while some other poor, pathetic, less spiritual souls still can remember the day that they were elated to hit 100 (social media really does feed our ego, doesn't it?), the champion of ecumenism is going strong. On 27 October, the pope tweeted his gratitude:
Source
And while there's no doubt that some of those 10 million followers do not follow because of their admiration for the pope (for example, I follow @Pontifex just out of curiosity), there is even less doubt that the majority of those followers do admire and even revere this mere man who touts a false and damning gospel.

What does this mean for us? It means that the mission field, dear Christian, is huge. It also means that the mission field for you very likely is not in a third-world country, but in your neighborhood. You who are bold on the Internet, are you bold at the bus stop as well? I say these things as an admonishment to myself as much as to my readers. May we pray for boldness to preach Christ in every place, not just where it is most convenient and comfortable for us.

Once you've said that prayer, before you step out into the real world, take a few minutes to enjoy your week in review (kind of):