26 December 2014

This 'n' That

photo credit: hoyasmeg via photopin cc
Okay. Deep breath in….and…exhale…There, feel better? Christmas is over. Though the smell of cookies, pies, and turkey still lingers in the air, though you may not return to work until Monday morning, the fact remains that Christmas is over for another year. Soon the cookies will all be eaten and it will be time to un-trim the tree, pack away your childhood decorations, and take the antlers off of your car. You heard me. What are those antlers about? In the past, I lived in a city where everybody spent the weeks leading up to Christmas donning Santa hats. I didn't get it. I mean, why would anybody do that? But where I live now, there seems to be an inordinate amount of cars driving around wearing reindeer costumes. And I ask: "Why would anybody do that?" I just don't get it. But I'll be happy to see them go. At least until next December.

Yes, Christmas is over, but as Christians, is it really? The worldly celebration of it may have ended, and we may not dress in red and green all year long, but we worship the same Christ on December 26 as we did the day before. We praise our God everyday for the incarnation and we remember daily that Christ's life is not wrapped up in the manger. We need a Christ child who lived—perfectly, who died—undeservedly as an atoning sacrifice, and who was raised so that we may have eternal life. We need a Savior and because we need a Savior our worship does not stop with Christmas. So as we pack away Christmas for another year, let us not pack away our Lord with it.

As you sit today with your post-Christmas cocoa, or coffee, or tea, take some time to step away from your clean-up efforts and just relax as you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

25 December 2014

The Babe in the Manger, the Lord of All

For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 
(Luke 2:11)
The babe in the manger is...
Photo: Source

The Creator of the universe.
For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Col 1:15–17)
All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. (John 1:3)
The incarnation of the living God.
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. (Col 1:15)
The eternal God.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. (John 1:1–2)
Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” (John 8:58)
The Lamb of God.
The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)
And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. (Rev 5:6)
The Lord and Judge of all.
But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. (Matt 25:31–33)
For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:9–11)
The babe in the manger will come again, this time in unveiled glory.
And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Rev 19:11–16)
When we worship the babe in the manger, we worship the one, true, holy, righteous, perfect God. May we bless Him, praise Him, and glorify Him this day.

Merry Christmas.

24 December 2014

A Gift for My Readers this Christmas Eve

Two years ago, my family was without a church on Christmas Eve (or anytime, for that matter). Friends of ours were also 'church orphans', but we all desired to gather together on the eve of the celebration of our Lord's birth to worship, fellowship, and hear the Word proclaimed.

With a little help from iMovie, YouTube, and Vimeo, I created the following short video for us to gather together and watch. It contains carols, clips from the movie The Nativity Story, and a brief Christmas message from Pastor John MacArthur. I also created an accompanying program with song lyrics, etc., that can be accessed here.

This video is not perfect, and it certainly is no substitute for an actual church service. Nonetheless, I pray it glorifies our Lord and blesses you through its message. I share it with you now for your edification.

Merry Christmas.

(Note: I make no claims to the audio or video contained herein. I am thankful for the artists who made the material available to the public. For a full listing of attributions, please visit the video at its main site.)

A Silent, Holy Night

While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:6–7)

Two thousand years ago the creator of the universe, the eternal God, entered human society as a baby. The creator of the universe put on humanity. The Lord of heaven came to live on earth. On a night like every other night in Israel with no fanfare, no celebration by anybody, a child was born. It was a night like any other night but it wasn't a child like any other child. This child was the Lord Jesus Christ, God and man fused together in indivisible oneness. This birth was so monumental that it became the high point of history, the peak, the apex. All history before this birth is B.C., Before Christ. All history since is A.D., Anno Domini, Latin for "the year of our Lord." 

In the fullness of time God sent forth His Son born of a woman, Immanuel, the God of eternity stepped into time and space. The Lord of immensity, the Lord of omnipresence was confined to a body about ten pounds in weight and under two feet in length. That little life came out into the arms of that young father. And neither of them could fathom what was going on. And they had been told by an angel. And everybody around them had absolutely no idea. 

Further Reading
Come, Worship the King
The King Is Born
For Unto Us a Child Is Born

21 December 2014

Sunday Morning Christmas Praise

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
(Luke 2:8–14)

20 December 2014

Equipping Eve Episode #4: The Word Made Flesh

Jesus is…God? Man? Jesus is the God-man. During the Christmas season especially, the doctrine of the incarnation is at the forefront of the minds of most Christians. We sing, “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail the incarnate Deity,” but how can we better understand this central doctrine of Christianity?A study of the incarnation of Christ will deepen your praise, wonder, and worship of the mighty king Jesus.

Equipping Eve is a No Compromise Radio production, and airs every other Saturday via the NoCo podcast feed. The fourth episode of Equipping Eve, "The Incarnation," is now available, and can be accessed here.

Additional Resources
Introducing: Equipping Eve
Equipping Eve: Episode 1, Who, What, Why?
Equipping Eve: Episode 2, How To Hear From God
Equipping Eve: Episode 3, Woe Is Me

19 December 2014

This 'n' That

Santa drives a Chevy. It's true. Everything you've heard about the sleigh and the reindeer…false. All one big lie. I saw it with my own two eyes. My bubble was burst. All those years of peering into the sky on Christmas Eve, trying to discern Rudolph's nose from the flashing lights of airplanes…all of those memories dashed to pieces in an instant.

Truly classic. I was just thankful that I was leaving the restaurant that Santa was about to enter. A child's birthday party was about to be held there and I would guess that Santa was the guest of honor. So…I'm thankful for a well-timed escape.

And speaking of Rudolph…here's a little insight into the gullibility of my child self. I used to believe that I needed to look for a white light in the sky, not a red one, when searching for Rudolph. Why? Because Santa's sleigh flew so high above the earth that Rudolph's bright red nose actually appeared white. Yeah. I believed that. Kind of embarrassing to admit, actually.

So yes, we did the Santa thing at my house growing up. My parents didn't know any differently. If you'd ask my mother today, she'd say if she could do it all over again as a true Christian, the Santa myth
never would have been a part of Christmas. It's amazing how good and gracious God is to change our perspectives on the world so drastically once we're saved. What is the point of Santa for the Christian family? Lying is a lot of work, so parents, why bother? Isn't it easier to be honest with your kids, especially since you expect them to be honest with you? Isn't it more precious to share with them the true story of Christmas?

Amid the hustle and bustle of Christmas, amid the carols and the shopping, the wrapping and the baking, we so easily lose sight of the one Person upon whom our eyes must always be fixed. That is why I love the Christmas season (or try to), in spite of the world's attempts to distort it for its own self-serving purposes. I love pondering the fact that our Savior—indeed, our Lord and King—humbled Himself to take on the form of man so that He might live the life that we cannot, die the death that we deserve, and rise again so that we who are reconciled to God by faith in Him alone might live forever with Him. There is no better story. There is no better reason for celebration. There is no better reason to lift up praise and thanks to our magnificent, loving, holy, forgiving, righteous, triune God.

Okay, let me climb down off of my soapbox so that you can take a few moments in these last days before Christmas to relax with a cup of cocoa and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

16 December 2014

Man's Predicament and God's Salvation

What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 
(Romans 9:14–16)
God is not responsible for humanity's predicament. Human beings, because of the disobedience in the garden of Eden, are responsible for their condition in sin, disobedience, and coming judgment. Further, it is important to remember that God does exercise mercy with absolute freedom. Therefore, it is not unjust for him to do so, for God is not unjust. In fact, whatever he does is right. God himself is the standard of right and wrong. Election and reprobation are both divine prerogatives.

S. Lewis Johnson;
Photo: The SLJ Institute
Since his audience recognized the authority of Scripture, Paul turned to the Word of God for evidence of the truth of his message. He cites the words that God spoke to Moses in Exodus 33:19, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion (cf. v. 15). Even though Israel had failed abysmally before Yahweh, he nevertheless acted in mercy toward them, and he acts in mercy sovereignly.

Thus, the apostle concludes, "It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy" (cf. v. 16). If ever a text indicated the unscriptural nature of "free will," this one does. "It is not of him that wills," the apostle says in the original Greek. The doctrine of free will—that it is in the power of a man to turn to God by himself—is contrary to the grace of God. Salvation becomes, then, the work of God and the work of man, and the purity of the grace of God is compromised. Salvation is only of the Lord.

Man is unable to come to God of and by himself. Jesus put it as strongly as anyone in Scripture: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:44). We are unable to make a decision of the will for God and salvation until God has first worked in our wills to make us willing. Salvation is first of his willing (cf. James 1:18), and only then, of our response of faith.

— S. Lewis Johnson, Discovering Romans: Spiritual Revival for the Soul, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014), 158.

Further Reading
A Stronghold for the Oppressed
Nurturing Perversion
We Trust in Jesus for What We Cannot Do Ourselves

14 December 2014

Sunday Morning Christmas Praise

But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.
(Micah 5:2)

O Little Town of Bethlehem

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1–7)

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

13 December 2014

Scripture Is the Touchstone of Truth

Do not be led away with the error of the wicked but "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18).

photo credit: chiptape via photopin cc 
Light is the chariot which carries the influence of the sun. So the knowledge of Christ brings with it the influences of His grace into the heart. And how did Peter expect people to grow in the knowledge of Christ unless they read Scripture, the only book where it can be found? How wrong for teachers to want the people to learn this knowledge solely from their preaching, and not from the Bible! How can a congregation be sure they are hearing truth unless they have Scripture, the only touchstone to try the purity of the doctrine? God Himself directs His Word not to any one honored group—not to a select few—but to every man (Romans 1:7; 2 Corinthians 1:1). Why are laws made if they cannot be declared? And why was Scripture ever written if not to be read and known of all men? By the same authority with which the apostle wrote his epistles, he commanded them to be read in the church. Did ministers of the early church hide God's Word from the people instead of encouraging them to hide it in their heart?

It is true that some men do wrest Scripture to their own destruction, just as occasionally somebody chokes on a piece of bread if he is not careful when he eats. But must everyone starve for fear of getting choked? Some hurt themselves with sharp weapons; must the whole army then be disarmed, and only a few officers be allowed to wear the sword? If this argument were enough to seal up the Bible, we must deny it to intellectuals as well as to common men; for it is a known fact that the grossest heresies have bred in the finest minds. Whenever proud men insist on being wiser than God, their foolish minds get darker and darker until they become so accustomed to the blackness that they can no longer see His sovereignty.

— William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armor

Further Reading
Thinking Rightly About Loving God; Voskamp Gets It Wrong
Beth Moore Wants Scripture + Experience
Craving the Word? Get Fed.

12 December 2014

This 'n' That

Even your cat doesn't want to wear the Santa hat. 
Well, it is difficult to believe that another Friday has arrived! Has your week disappeared as quickly as has mine? Why is it that time seems to flurry past so much more quickly during the holiday season? There's never enough time to really enjoy those Christmas carols. And if you live in my house, so far there hasn't even been enough time to stand up a tree in the corner! Ah well, as long as there manages to be enough time to bake some cookies, right? I hope you are finding some time to linger on the pleasant memories of the season.

And speaking of things I'm hoping...I hope you aren't one of those people who wears a Santa hat everywhere you go for the entire month of December. What is that about? Thankfully I have not seen much of this where I currently live, but in past cities, it seemed to be all the rage. Every year. Santa hats. Everywhere. On everyone. Boy, girl, man, woman…Santa hats. Here's what I want to know: who was the first person who lied to his/her friend and said (with a straight face no doubt), "That Santa hat looks awesome on you. You should wear that all season." Then I want to know who the person was who was stupid enough to believe his/her mean friend. If you like Santa hats, here's a tip: put it on and then look in the mirror. Yeah, that's you. You look ridiculous. Stop it.

This hat is only adorable if
you're under age 4.
And while we're on the subject, what is the deal with those stocking caps that look like animals? Wait, scratch that…What is the deal with those stocking caps that look like animals being worn by grown adults? There is no acceptable excuse for this. You look ridiculous. Stop it.

As we reign in the silliness, however, and as we become more and more immersed in the Christmas season, I do hope that you and your family are joyfully celebrating in a way that honors Christ, not the world. Share with your children the songs of the season that speak of Christ. Teach them the true story of Christmas, and do not stop with the birth of Jesus, but proclaim to them the whole story of His perfect life and atoning death. Tis the season for the gospel!

And, since it is Friday, tis the time for your week in review (kind of):

10 December 2014

Mormons Launch 'He Is the Gift' Initiative

This Christmas, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (i.e., the Mormon Church) has launched a campaign that they are calling the 'He Is the Gift' Initiative. It is being introduced in large part by the following video:

It looks and sounds good, does it not? A call to step back from the busyness of the world's version of Christmas and remember that Christ is the greatest gift of all sounds very…well, Christian. In an age of deception, however, it is important to take a few moments and discover the Jesus who is embraced by Mormons and compare him to the Lord and Savior who is revealed in the Bible.

07 December 2014

Sunday Morning Christmas Praise

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:18–21)

What Child Is This?

Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name 'Immanuel,' which translated means, 'God with us.'"

And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.

(Matthew 1:22–25)

Infant Holy, Infant Lowly

06 December 2014

Equipping Eve: Episode 3

We all face times of despair and trial, and it is easy in those times to dwell on our situation and ourselves. But how can we turn our self-pity into praise of the living God? In this episode of Equipping Eve, we will turn to Psalm 13 and focus on the lovingkindness of the great God of the universe. Plus: Time to go shopping!

Equipping Eve is a No Compromise Radio production, and airs every other Saturday via the NoCo podcast feed. The third episode of Equipping Eve, "Woe Is Me," is now available, and can be accessed here.

Further Reading
Introducing: Equipping Eve
Equipping Eve: Episode 1
Equipping Eve: Episode 2

05 December 2014

This 'n' That

Photo: UglyChristmasLights.com
We can't avoid it. We can't escape it. It's Christmas. The neighbors have been saving their pennies all year to pay for this month's electric bill. Your coworkers are tense and stressed as deadlines loom larger with the promise of much-needed vacation days. Everyone is overworked, overwhelmed and frazzled. It must be that Christmas spirit I've been hearing so much about.

Instead of its usual 'Jesus-is-my-boyfriend' type tunes, the 'Christian' radio station is blaring 'Little Saint Nick' by The Beach Boys. Fake bells and baubles bigger than a person's head are dangling from front porches and from the trees in the aisles of Macy's. Candy and cookies are everywhere. Tis the season.

In spite of the world's feeble attempts at celebration, I still love Christmas. I love the music (the Christ-honoring music, that is). I love the colors. I love the scents and the sounds. But it may behoove us to honestly ask ourselves—and honestly answer—without these things, without your grandmother's sugar cookie recipe and without 'Silent Night' and without your 'Baby's First Christmas' ornament hanging from the tree, would you still love Christmas? If you believe the following verses, then you ought to be answering with an unhesitating 'yes!':
“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.” Therefore He will give them up until the time When she who is in labor has borne a child. Then the remainder of His brethren Will return to the sons of Israel. And He will arise and shepherd His flock In the strength of the LORD, In the majesty of the name of the LORD His God. And they will remain, Because at that time He will be great To the ends of the earth. (Micah 5:2–4)
So often we read Micah 5:2 and see the prophecy of our Lord's birth. This is great indeed, but when we read further, we cannot help but rejoice even more, for these verses speak not only of Christ's first advent, but of His second. He is coming again. Soon, we hope, though we know that His timing will be perfect. The eternal Son who came humbly and was rejected will return one day to rule, to reign and to judge. So as we find ourselves remembering the great gift of His first coming, let us also look forward with eager anticipation to His second. And let us not be found lazy or lackadaisical when He comes, but let us be found by Him going about His business, calling those who are lost to repent and believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation.

But since I know that right now, as you read this, you are sipping hot cocoa and humming along to 'Last Christmas' (what is it about that stupid song?), take a few moments at the end of this fleeting week to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

30 November 2014

Sunday Morning Christmas Praise

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

(Luke 1:26-38)

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

28 November 2014

We All Need Romans

We all need Romans. —S. Lewis Johnson
It's true, we do all need the book of Romans, for in these 16 chapters, the Apostle Paul presents a systematic theology that reveals and convicts of the true nature of man, of man's need for a Savior, of the God who sent that Savior and of the Savior Himself. Paul goes beyond mere intellectual knowledge of these things and appeals to how the realities of Christ must practically work themselves out in the life of redeemed men.

And so, who better to unearth the treasures of Romans than one of the more gifted preachers of modern times, S. Lewis Johnson? Johnson was a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary and is well known for his years pastoring Believer's Chapel in Dallas. Johnson passed away in 2004, but his teachings remain available and continue to bless those who have ears to hear.

For some time, it has been rather unfortunate that the teachings of Johnson were not captured in written or commentary form as a means of making them even more accessible to Christians. Until now. The Church can be exceedingly thankful to Dr. Mike Abendroth for his efforts in compiling Johnson's notes and teachings on Romans into an accessible, clear, robust commentary, Discovering Romans.

This 'n' That

photo credit: sea turtle via photopin cc 
Happy day-after-Thanksgiving to all of my US readers. If you're like me, today you feel a a pound or two heavier, but every calorie was worth it. Another slice of pumpkin pie? Yes, please.

And because I do not say it often enough, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of my readers for your loyalty, your encouragement, your prayers, and your challenges. The past year has been a trying and hectic one here at the DNBS blogging bunker, and I regret that the blog has had to suffer as a result. Thanks for still coming back, even when This 'n' That was the only post published all week. You all are a blessing.

Okay, okay. Before things get too mushy and gushy around here, I need to run. It is Black Friday, after all, and I want to get over to Family "Christian" Store before all the half-price copies of Jesus Calling are sold out. I'm thinking of having a bonfire this weekend…

Before you hit the sales, why don't you cut yourself a slice of pie (I don't care if it's only midday, there's never a bad time for pie), pour yourself some cocoa or coffee, and take a few moments to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

27 November 2014

Thinking Rightly About Loving God; Voskamp Gets It Wrong

Mysticism and the practices Voskamp endorses that promote it, do lead to a Cosmic Christ, that is a creation-centered one rather than the Christ who bodily ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God. The mystical Christ is immanent only, not transcendent. He is contacted by unbiblical, mystical means rather than through the gospel that saves us from God's wrath against sin. . . .There is enough sensuality in the world without us having sensual desires stirred up under the guise of a higher order religious experience in the context of a panentheistic worldview. Voskamp's book feeds into the romantic sensibilities of its postmodern readers, but it does nothing to promote the faith once for all delivered to the saints. One Thousand Gifts pushes the church even farther down the unbiblical road of mysticism that so many are already on. We need to reject this and instead return to objective, Biblical truth. 
(Bob DeWaay, "Romantic Pantheism: A Review of One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, Critical Issues Commentary 120; 2012.)
The book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp is no stranger to criticism. This is due in large part to those dangerous characteristics described in the quote above. It is a book fraught with mysticism and a romantic, sensual view of one's relationship with God and Christ. Pastor Mike Abendroth of No Compromise Radio and Bethlehem Bible church recently had these concerns to express about Voskamp's book:

22 November 2014

Equipping Eve: Episode 2

Does the Scripture support the notion that God speaks to us personally today through a 'still, small voice' or other means outside of the Word? The latest episode of Equipping Eve examines what God has to say on this often controversial subject.

Equipping Eve is a No Compromise Radio production, and airs every other Saturday via the NoCo podcast feed. The second episode of Equipping Eve, "How to Hear from God," is now available, and can be accessed here.

Further Reading
Introducing: Equipping Eve
Equipping Eve: Episode 1
Many Americans Claim 'God Told Me'

21 November 2014

This 'n' That

photo credit: broodkast via photopin cc 
Earlier this week, as I traveled my usual commute home, I found myself stopped at a traffic light that I usually sail through on green. Since I rarely am stopped at this point in my drive, I have never really noticed the large Victorian-style house on the corner that serves as a funeral home. Its outside landscaping was lit up with spotlights, and a single lamp glowed in the front window. It is a cute little house and, were it not for the sign in the front yard indicating its function, it would, for all other purposes, appear to be a warm, homey, and inviting place to spend one's evening.

And then, as I looked to the second floor, I wondered—"Is that where they embalm the lifeless bodies? Or perhaps in the basement? Where do those soulless shells lie as they await their final 'resting' place?"

Death. It can take the cheeriest of moments, the most welcoming of places, and leave it barren, dark, and without hope. And though our souls live forever, for many, the eternal existence that awaits them is one of unfathomable terror. How many lifeless bodies that once housed a soul that lived a life in rebellion and disobedience to God pass through this quaint, Victorian-style funeral home? Such sober thoughts ought not lead us into despair or depression, but should quicken us to fervent action.
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned-- for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.

But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

(Romans 5:6–17)
This is the Good News. Because our time here is short, then, let us spend even our dying breath proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and calling men to repentance and faith in Him. Before the life leaves our body, let us declare to as many who will listen how it is that they may receive life eternal.

After Scripture speaks, I don't have much more to say. So go ahead, praise God for sending His Son. Then take some time to relax, even in the midst of the busy season, and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

Rick Warren at the Vatican Humanum Conference: "We All Love Jesus Christ"

From 17 to 19 November 2014, Pope Francis hosted at the Vatican the Humanum conference, the focus of which was: An International Interreligious Colloquium on the Complementarity of Man and Woman.

The event gathered faith leaders from around the globe, including America's own prominent Southern Baptists, Russell Moore and Rick Warren. The OC Register reports on Warren's talk, "The Biblical Meaning of Marriage":
Rick Warren spoke on the "Biblical Meaning of Marriage" Tuesday at the Vatican, where he is among 30 global religious leaders examining the changing roles of marriage and family in the world.

Warren joined leaders from 23 countries and 14 religions invited by Pope Francis on at the kickoff Monday to The Complementarity of Man and Woman: An International Colloquium.

“It’s great to be with leaders from different streams of Christianity from all over the world,” Warren said from the Vatican on Monday.

“Although we have some differences, we all love Jesus Christ and we all want marriages and families to be healthy and strong.”

Upon meeting Pope Francis, Warren said: “Up close, you can feel the humility and compassion that others see from afar.”

Participants, who included Southern Baptist evangelist Russell Moore as well as Muslim, Jewish and Latter-day Saints representatives, will consider topics such as traditional marriage, cohabitation and same-sex marriage.

Warren is quoted as saying, "It's great to be with leaders from different streams of Christianity…," yet the event clearly was one of religious ecumenical compromise.

14 November 2014

This 'n' That

Well, it’s that time of year again. Time to start shopping for Christmas presents. Nothing extravagant, of course, but who doesn’t like to give and receive a token of affection this time of year? I like to ensure that all of the presents I give have a Christian theme. But you can’t just give everyone a Bible every year, can you? So what do you do? Where do you shop? Well, duh. Just find a store or catalog with the word ‘Christian’ in its name!

I was in the Family ‘Christian’ Store (FCS) for quite awhile last week. Actually, it’s kind of amazing that I wasn’t kicked out. Usually employees of FCS don’t appreciate the comments I make about their heretical and just-plain-dumb merchandise. I don’t know, maybe my sarcasm is still being sanctified, but what else am I supposed to do when I see this display?

It's difficult to read in this picture, but the display says: "Beth Moore she just gets it, doesn't she?"Really? Beth Moore 'gets it'? Gets what? Unbiblical, extrabiblical dreams, visions, and voices? Lots of money for the sale of her Scripture-twisting books and ‘Bible studies’? What exactly is she getting?

Or how about this?

Yeah…the Kirk Cameron shrine is almost as bad as the Duck Dynasty shrine.

Then there’s the Roman Catholic section of FCS, which, as far as I’m concerned, should be the #1 reason why this merchant should remove the word ‘Christian’ from its name. How about some Holy Water for that someone special in your life?

Or a Pope Francis Pill Box?

And for the kiddies:

Then there’s the inevitable sales pitch for FCS’s ‘iDisciple.’ No comment.

So yes, every trip to the Family ‘Christian’ Store is an adventure…an adventure in biting my tongue.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (2 Tim 4:3–4)
And that is why visits to such stores may exasperate me, but they do not surprise me. In fact, they only serve as confirmation that the perfect Word of our Lord is true.

You know what they should be selling? (Yes, I already have my copy.) Have you ordered yours yet? What are you waiting for? This would be a really great gift for someone who loves the Word and wants to study Romans:

So, are you going shopping this weekend? If so, I will pray that you receive the favor so that you are the recipient of an excellent parking space. But before you go, take some time to first enjoy your week in review (kind of):

12 November 2014

Roma Downey's New TV Show Features Victoria Osteen, Kay Warren, Joyce Meyer and Others

Stand Up for the Truth reports:
Roma Downey and her husband Mark Burnett, who gave us the unbiblical The Bible and The Son of God films, is now making a 2-hour Lifetime Television series, “The Women of the Bible….”

The cast of characters for this new Women of the Bible reads like a who’s who list of problematic ministers: Victoria Osteen, Kay Warren, Australian pastorix Christine Caine, Priscilla Shirer, and Joyce Meyer.

Downey narrates, while the others act out the stories of Eve, Sara, Rehab, Mary Magdalene and Mary.

“Women of the Bible” is a prelude to a mini-series, called “The Red Tent,” starring Minnie Driver which imagines the story of Dinah, the daughter of Leah and Jacob.

Downey is also set to host a series for TLC in 2015 on people who have witnessed real-life miracles.
Perhaps Beth Moore was unavailable?

Efforts like this one by Roma Downey are precisely why it is essential that women be equipped with the truth of God's Word. And here's a tip: if the Lifetime network has agreed to air it, it is not biblical.

Further Reading
The Bible: The Book, the Miniseries, and the Sins of Sodom
Merchandising 'The Bible'
Roman Catholic Roma Downey Says Francis I Will Be a 'Pope of Hope'
Equipping Eve: Episode 1

An Attentive Spirit Satisfied in the Word of God

This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:19–21)
We might wonder why the ever practical James does not proceed to outline schemes of daily Bible reading for us, for surely these are the ways in which we offer a willing ear to the voice of God, but he does not help us in this way, rather he goes deeper, for there is little point in schemes and times if we do not have an attentive spirit. It is possible to be unfailingly regular in Bible reading, but achieve no more than to have moved the bookmark forward. This is reading unrelated to an attentive spirit. The Word is read but not heard. On the other hand, if we can develop an attentive spirit, this will spur us to create those conditions—a proper method in Bible reading, a discipline of time, and so on—by which the spirit will find itself satisfied in hearing the Word of God.

— J.A. Motyer, The Message of James

Further Reading
Doctrine Matters
What God Says About His Word
Affirming sola Scriptura

08 November 2014

Equipping Eve: Episode 1

As announced earlier this week, Do Not Be Surprised is excited to announce the launch of a new women's ministry, Equipping Eve.

Equipping Eve is a No Compromise Radio production, and will air every other Saturday via the NoCo podcast feed. The first episode of Equipping Eve is now available, and can be accessed here.

Further Reading
Introducing: Equipping Eve
Women Elders: The Word vs. The World
Doctrine Matters

Beth Moore Wants Scripture + Experience

Nearly three years ago, popular SBC Bible teacher Beth Moore said that she "had no idea that if you felt God had spoken something specific to you, you'd be labeled a mystic."

Now once again Moore shares her bewilderment over those who raise a skeptical eyebrow when a professing Christian celebrates his or her experience as if not greater than, at least equal to, the objective Word of God.

Writing at her Living Proof Ministries Blog in an article titled, "Scriptural or Experiential: Can the Categories Never Coexist?" Moore writes,
But I’ll share with you the teaching in that first Bible doctrine class that I couldn’t accept for long. I couldn’t accept that a believer must fall cleanly into one category or the other: the Scriptural or the experiential. Of course, that’s why I had critics counting me among the experiential crowd 15 years ago but I’ll be forthright with you. The criticism, no matter how mean-spirited it got, was worth enduring because I was not about to let somebody convince me that Scripture and experience were always mutually exclusive. I wanted them both. I wanted to thrill to the Word of God with everything in me AND I wanted to experience the presence of Christ as palpably as He’d permit me.

Curiously, this sounds keenly similar to what Sarah Young wrote in the forward to the first edition of her book, Jesus Calling:
I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more. (Source)
So many people want more than what God has graciously given in His Word. Such a thought ought instead ring as nearly unthinkable in our minds.

07 November 2014

This 'n' That

photo: jason2917 via photopin cc 
You almost were reading this on Saturday. Yes, that's right, for the first time (okay, maybe the second) since This 'n' That debuted here at Do Not Be Surprised (wow, that was 3 1/2 years ago!) I almost missed my Friday deadline. You can thank a weary car battery (and let's face it, a weary blogger) for that. And you can thank a security officer's jumper cables and a blogger's God-given stubborn determination for the fact that, in spite of an unexpected speed bump in my evening, this blog is still being posted on Friday.

So it's November now and that means a lot is going on: the holidays are coming (quickly), the weather is getting colder (and windier and wetter) for some of us, the days are getting shorter (why is it I feel like I should go straight to bed when I get home from work now?), and, because of these things and others, life for many of us grows more and more hectic. But don't let the busyness distract you from what should be your sole focus: the Lord Jesus Christ. When our eyes and our minds and our hearts lose their fixed gaze upon Him, it is not long before a sense of overwhelming exhaustion begins to stifle our spiritual walk and growth. Start your day in the Word, and do not let the world squeeze those truths out of your mind or heart as the hours pass.

Of course, today is Friday, so I pray that you are able to spend some extra time this weekend in the pages of your Bible, reading about and getting to know better the Master who purchased you with His own blood. I also hope you'll find just a little time to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

06 November 2014


Laverne & Shirley. Mork & Mindy. Joanie Loves Chachi?

The spinoff. The success of such an endeavor is usually hit-or-miss. But why should that stop us? After all, as Christians, we have a different definition of success than does the world.

For the Christian, 'success' means that a thing brings glory to God. That it exalts Christ and proclaims the saving truth of His gospel. That it stands firm and unwavering on the Word, even in the midst of a hostile world. That it serves the Lord and His Church. 

By this definition, it is easy to observe that one of Do Not Be Surprised's friends in ministry, No Compromise Radio, is indeed a success. And most of us remember a time when almost every successful show brought forth a spinoff, for better or for worse. We are praying that this one will be for the betterment of the Kingdom and for the growth and edification of those women who love and serve the King, the Lord Jesus Christ:

I am happy and humbled to announce the launch of a new radio ministry for ladies: Equipping Eve. I am happy because I believe there is a need in evangelicalism today for trustworthy, biblical resources for women, and I am humbled because this was not something I requested, and it is something that I know will keep me at the feet of our precious Lord and Savior as I seek my own equipping.

Equipping Eve is a production of No Compromise Radio, and I cannot begin to express my gratitude to Pastor Mike Abendroth and the entire NoCo team for offering me this opportunity. To officially launch the show, I had the honor of once again being a guest on No Compromise Radio. You can listen to that interview here.

Why 'Equipping Eve'?

But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3)
"Did God really say?" Satan provoked the woman in the garden. The woman quickly fell victim to his ploy. She doubted the words and commands of God. She doubted His goodness and His promises. In succumbing to the temptation and deliberately disobeying God, she overturned the roles that He had ordained for her as the woman and for Adam as her head. She gave to her husband and he ate, and the entirety of the human race was plunged into a state of fallenness out of which we can never rescue ourselves.
So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. (Romans 5:18)
Praise God for the Last Adam—Jesus Christ who lived the life we cannot, who died the death we deserve, and whose perfect, atoning sacrifice was acceptable to the Father as Christ was raised three days later, guaranteeing eternal life for all who believe upon Him. He is the Truth (John 14:6). He is the living Word (John 1:1). He has given us His revealed Word in the Scriptures—a testimony that is certain and sufficient and that shines the light of truth (2 Peter 1:19–21). Knowing this Word makes our feet sure and steady as we navigate the wind and waves of this hostile world—hostility that more often is found within the walls of professing Christendom than it is on the outside.
As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; (Ephesians 4:14)
And that is what Equipping Eve is about: equipping women with "fruits of truth" in an age that is ripe with deception.

Equipping Eve will air every other week via the No Compromise Radio podcast feed, beginning this Saturday, November 8. If you already subscribe to NoCo Radio, then the only thing that will change is that you will see an extra show appear every other Saturday. If you do not currently subscribe to the NoCo podcast, then click here to do so. A website for Equipping Eve is forthcoming, and this post will be updated with a link as soon as that site is available.

Men, I appreciate and am honored that some of you may want to tune in and listen, but please, let this show go unplayed. This is a ladies-only show and I desire to honor the Lord and His admonition that women not engage in teaching men within the church (1 Timothy 2:12). Rest assured that Equipping Eve falls under the umbrella and accountability of Pastor Mike and No Compromise Radio, and of course the authority of my local pastor and elders as well. What you might do instead is point the women in your life to the show so that they may listen and "get equipped."

Equipping Eve seeks to honor and exalt the Lord Jesus Christ above all. Will you pray for this endeavor and that He will be glorified in it? Thank you. Soli Deo Gloria.

05 November 2014

The SBC's Russell Moore, Rick Warren Invited to Join Vatican Conference on Marriage

Pope Francis; Photo: Wikimedia
Religion News Service reports:
The Vatican will host religious leaders from across the religious spectrum later this month for a conference where they are expected to defend traditional marriage as between a man and a woman.

While hosted by Vatican officials and scheduled to open with an address by Pope Francis, the conference will include Muslim and Jewish representatives, as well as American leading evangelicals like megachurch pastor Rick Warren and Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore. . . .

The conference will include Wael Farouq, a Muslim and president of the Tawasul Cultural Center in Cairo; Henry B. Eyring, a top-ranking apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and Manmohan Singh of the World Sikh Council.
In spite of the obvious ecumenical nature of this conference, which finds well-known Southern Baptist leaders Russell Moore and Rick Warren joining not only with Roman Catholics, but with leaders from other false, damning religions as well, Moore is quoted by RNS as saying:
I am willing to go anywhere, when asked, to bear witness to what we as evangelical Protestants believe about marriage and the gospel, especially in times in which marriage is culturally imperiled,” said Moore, who heads the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. (Source)

Rightly Dividing Beth Moore's 'Unity' with Word Faith Teacher Joyce Meyer

On 15 August 2014, this blog reported that the SBC's popular female Bible "teacher," Beth Moore, was "talking unity" with Word Faith teacher Joyce Meyer:
Is this what Beth Moore meant when she claimed to have received personal, direct revelation from God to "stop sowing over and over again in the same field"? Is this the unity of which Moore spoke at James Robison's Awaken Conference? It certainly seems that way:

Unity with Word Faith heretics, of which Joyce Meyer is the foremost among females? Beth Moore may be talking about unity, but it is a worldly form of unity. It is unity at the expense of truth, and it is unity at the expense of the gospel.

Yet, this new alliance does not surprise at all. Aligning with false teachers is to be expected by those who deny the sufficiency of Scripture. With her claims of extra biblical revelation, Moore does exactly that. If the Bible were enough for her, she would not need dreams and nudges and divine playdates.

03 November 2014

The Praise of Faith

People who slander the names of others do it behind their backs. And sin seldom blasphemes God to His face; that is the language of hell…

photo credit: only alice via photopin cc
But faith sees God eyeing the soul to preserve it….Faith warns, "Do not blaspheme the God of heaven; you cannot even whisper softly enough for Him not to hear. For he is closer to you than you are to yourself." Thus faith breaks the devil's snare. When God came to Job in His majesty, all Job's long speeches suddenly vanished and he covered his face with humility before the Lord: "Now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:5–6).

Faith accepts no report of God except from God's own mouth….Faith conceives all its ideas of God by the Word, solves all cases of conscience, and interprets mysteries by this Word….[Satan] drives the person who is in a hard situation to entertain wrong thoughts of God. Thus he criticizes God's justice when blatant sinners have not been judged quickly; or he says he will not serve a God who permits His servants to wear ragged clothing. These are the broken glasses that Satan mirrors God in, so that he may distort His goodness to the doubting eye. And if we judge God to be what He appears in Satan's jagged pieces of deception, we might condemn the Holy One and be caught in a dangerous tornado of temptation.

01 November 2014

The Dissolution of the Mars Hill Empire

It is [God] who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings;  (Daniel 2:21a)
Photo: WikiMedia
The Lord God is sovereign over all things: times and seasons, day and night, the wind and the sea, and the rising and fall of men. The design of many so-called 'celebrity pastors' and their respective multi-site, multi-publication, multi-bus tour empires is one that inarguably may lead to the 'face' of the empire,—the celebrity pastor whose name is the brand—viewing himself as a type of king over all that he perceives he has created.

To be sure, this is not true of all well-known pastors. Indeed, perhaps it is not true of any of them, but it is often the unfortunate view for the outsider—the commoner—looking in at the empire. But God, who alone is sovereign, is the only true King. Men and rulers of nations may sit on their thrones and devise plans against God, but He laughs at their futile efforts (Psalm 2:4). Men may stand upon their well-lit stage and lure many through the doors of their church, but God is the ultimate Determiner of the fate of that entity. And when man attempts to usurp the God-ordained design of the church, he ought not be surprised if the Lord of the universe reveals very different plans for that church.

On the heels of Mark Driscoll's resignation as pastor of Mars Hill Church, it was reported this week that the church and empire that Driscoll founded would begin a rapid process of dissolution.

31 October 2014

This 'n' That

"She's a Christian, I think. She was wearing a cross and she talked about homeschooling."

Sigh. Is this what we've come to here in America? Equating Christians with cross necklaces and homeschooling? Does she also watch FoxNews and is she a Republican? Because that satisfies all the requirements for being a Christian in the good ol' US of A, right?

Guess who else wears a cross necklace?
Someone actually did share the above observation with me not too long ago. It was one of those face palm moments, where you spend more time asking God to help you bridle your sarcastic tongue than you do attempting to refute the person's horrifically weak theology.

The sad reality is, though, that this is the mindset of many, many professing Christians today. Does someone say they are a Christian and wear a cross necklace? Then they must be a Christian! And if it's a man, well, does he have a groovy tattoo in Greek, something like δουλος, maybe? Christian!

For the record, I don't mean this to insult those true Christians who wear cross necklaces (I do) or have Greek tattoos (I do not), or those who homeschool (many of my friends do), watch FoxNews, or are Republican. My point is that the concept of a life lived for Christ—the concept of bearing fruit that displays a life of holiness and an ongoing pursuit of righteousness—those things are lost on the visible church today. We've replaced true Christian living with moralism and political and social conservatism. Many of today's professing Christians wouldn't recognize the Christian life as taught in the Scriptures, and if they did, many would likely reject it outright as unacceptable and unfitting for their life of worldly whims.

So are your attempts at evangelism met with resistance? Are they met with scorn by someone who responds by saying, "Well, I'm already a Christian," but whose life demonstrates otherwise? Take heart, Christian. Our Lord told us this would be so (John 16:18–21). But this should not deter us. This should not keep us from proclaiming Christ crucified, and Christ resurrected. Keep on proclaiming that glorious truth, friend, and when you're ready for a break, pause briefly to enjoy your week in review (kind of):