30 April 2014

Mockingbird Christianity

photo credit: TexasEagle via photopin cc
The mockingbird is a creature true to its name. By some reports, a male mockingbird could learn and effectively mimic more than 180 different calls or sounds over the course of just a few months. And, amazingly, these do not have to be the calls of other birds. A mockingbird might mimic a barking dog, a squeaky gate, a croaking frog or even an alarm clock. In short, the mockingbird is an astoundingly unique animal. There seems to be no limit to the number of songs it can add to its repertoire. Here it would be quite simple to launch into a meditation (no, not that kind of meditation) on the unfathomable creativity of our God. Such a time of pondering would no doubt be appropriate and would fittingly bring praise to our minds and lips. Instead, I would like to make a loose—albeit very loose—analogy, though analogies and illustrations can only be carried so far before they fall apart. Nevertheless, I want to attempt at least a vague comparison between the mockingbird and today's version of Christianity as we ask: Are churches today filled with mockingbird Christians?

25 April 2014

This 'n' That

photo credit: EasyPickle via photopin cc
As I sat down to write this post, I realized I had no idea where to start. It's been a busy week and as usual the week is nearly over and I've only crossed out a tiny fraction of the items on my "need-to-do-by-the-end-of-the-week-or-else-I-will-cry" list. Yet in spite of all that has happened this week, as I sit here I simply cannot think of any wonderfully interesting way to introduce this week's roundup of headlines.

At first I thought I would write about an awful last-minute morning dream I had yesterday. You know the kind, I'm sure—when reality mixes with your subconscious and the sounds around you in the real world infiltrate the dream world that you're so reluctant to leave. For me it was my alarm clock. In my dream, I could not figure out how to turn off that stupid thing. It just kept buzzing and buzzing and buzzing and buz…well, you get the idea. Then I woke up and realized that it was my real alarm clock, or rather, it was #5 of 6 alarms that I have set to go off each morning to ensure that I get up on time. So, I was going to write about that and then I thought, "Well that's just silly. Who wants to read about that?" So aren't you thankful that I spared you that story?

Oops. . .sorry.

I've scoured my brain and my memory and even now that I've shared that pointless story with you, I have no way of turning it into a spiritual metaphor or illustration. Sometimes an alarm clock is just an alarm clock. And that's okay.

My tendency to oversleep did get me thinking about something, however. I started thinking about this:
Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (1 Cor 15:51–52)
And this:
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thess 4:13–18)
Not one soul will sleep through that trumpeting alarm! What a glorious and exciting promise.

Well, now that I've set the bar incredibly low for next week (or incredibly high, depending upon how you look at it, because I now owe you some truly profound thoughts), we need to get to the good stuff. Turn off your alarm clock, grab your coffee, sit back and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

23 April 2014

No Compromise Radio: Is Keller Off Center?

Additional Resources
NoCo90: Private Prayer Languages
No Compromise Radio: How Should We Respond to False Teachers?
Even the Demons Believe

"Make a Decision" to Get the Gospel Right

Dr. John MacArthur
The gospel in vogue today holds forth a false hope to sinners. It promises them that they can have eternal life yet continue to live in rebellion against God. Indeed, it encourages people to claim Jesus as Savior yet defer until later the commitment to obey Him as Lord. It promises salvation from hell but not necessarily freedom from iniquity. It offers false security to people who revel in the sins of the flesh and spurn the way of holiness. By separating faith from faithfulness, it teaches that intellectual assent is as valid as wholehearted obedience to the truth.

Thus the good news of Christ has given way to the bad news of an insidious easy-believism that makes no moral demands on the lives of sinners. It is not the same message Jesus proclaimed.

This new gospel has spawned a generation of professing Christians whose behavior is indistinguishable from the rebellion of the unregenerate. . . .

18 April 2014

"The Veil Is Not Rolled Up, but Rent"

For believers the veil is not rolled up, but rent. The veil was not unhooked, and carefully folded up, and put away, so that it might be put in its place at some future time. Oh, no! But the divine hand took it and rent it front top to bottom. It can never be hung up again; that is impossible. Between those who are in Christ Jesus and the great God, there will never be another separation. "Who shall separate us from the love of God?" Only one veil was made, and as that is rent, the one and only separator is destroyed. I delight to think of this. The devil himself can never divide me from God now. He may and will attempt to shut me out from God; but the worst he could do would be to hang up a rent veil. What would that avail but to exhibit his impotence? God has rent the veil, and the devil cannot mend it. There is access between a believer and his God; and there must be such free access forever, since the veil is not rolled up, and put on one side to be hung up again in days to come; but it is rent, and rendered useless.

The rent is not in one corner, but in the midst, as Luke tells us. It is not a slight rent through which we may see a little; but it is rent from the top to the bottom. There is an entrance made for the greatest sinners. If there had only been a small hole cut through it, the lesser offenders might have crept through; but what an act of abounding mercy is this, that the veil is rent in the midst, and rent from top to bottom, so that the chief of sinners may find ample passage! This also shows that for believers there is no hindrance to the fullest and freest access to God. Oh, for much boldness, this morning, to come where God has not only set open the door, but has lifted the door from its hinges; yea, removed it, post, and bar, and all!

I want you to notice that this veil, when it was rent, was rent by God, not by man. It was not the act of an irreverent mob; it was not the midnight outrage of a set of profane priests: it was the act of God alone. Nobody stood within the veil; and on the outer side of it stood the priests only fulfilling their ordinary vocation of offering sacrifice. It must have astounded them when they saw that holy place laid bare in a moment. How they fled, as they saw that massive veil divided without human hand in a second of time! Who rent it? Who but God Himself? If another had done it, there might have been a mistake about it, and the mistake might need to be remedied by replacing the curtain; but if the Lord has done it, it is done rightly, it is done finally, it is done irreversibly. It is God Himself who has laid sin on Christ, and in Christ has put that sin away. God Himself has opened the gate of heaven to believers, and cast up a highway along which the souls of men may travel to Himself. God Himself has set the ladder between earth and heaven. Come to Him now, ye humble ones. Behold, He sets before you an open door!

– Charles Spurgeon, "The Rent Veil"

Further Reading
The Parable of the Soils: Giving or Gospel?
The Grand Instrument By Which Souls Are Converted
The Destruction of Pride and the Elevation of Furtick

This 'n' That

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It's no secret that the world has taken over the so-called "Easter" season. Colorful pastel eggs and fuzzy bunny rabbits tend to line the aisles of Wal-Mart and Target rather than remembrances of a cross or an empty tomb. (Although, if you're at Hobby Lobby or Family Christian Store, maybe you can find something depicting the Easter Bunny at the empty tomb. Like Easter's version of the Santa Claus nativity.) And of course, the seeker-driven churches have taken the world's notion of this time of year and capitalized on it with such gimmicks as egg drops and other various Easter extravaganzas.

While it is a shame that children are more focused on chocolate and bunnies—and chocolate bunnies—than on the Lord Jesus Christ, Christians must remember this: we honor Resurrection Day every Sunday when we gather together to worship our risen Lord and to hear His Word proclaimed. When you remember this, you may find yourself merely shaking your head at the world's pathetic celebration, and discover that every Sunday finds you filled with joy, thanks and praise for a risen Savior.

Further, we must admit that the world's Easter celebration has delivered one wonderful thing for us to enjoy in spite of the chintzy silliness that abounds—candy. I know, I know. My healthy friends are cringing right now even thinking about the pounds of chocolate that must be consumed each year. But who doesn't love Reese's peanut butter eggs, Cadbury creme eggs, Brach's chocolate covered marshmallow bunnies, or my personal past favorite, Cadbury mini eggs? And I cannot neglect to mention those goodies that have stepped in to fill my Easter candy cravings since I swore off dairy and soy: jelly beans (these are my favorite, but they're hard to find) and Peeps. Friends, let's face it, a world without Peeps would indeed be a sad place to live.

So go ahead and indulge in that chocolate bunny, but only once a year. As for praising the Lord Jesus Christ for His death and resurrection—indulge in that daily.

Okay, now that I have a cavity from even thinking about all those empty, but wonderfully delicious calories, why don't you grab a handful of jelly beans, then come back here and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

11 April 2014

This 'n' That

photo credit: roseannadana via photopin cc
I hate to jinx it, but I think it's finally safe to say that Spring is here. Wait a second while I go check to make sure it didn't start snowing after I wrote that. Nope! Sun is still shining (and for those of you who are panicking, don't worry, I don't actually believe in jinxes).

I love Spring. The allergies I could do without, but in general, Spring and Fall are my two favorite seasons. There's something about the bright colors that start to arrive in late March and April that just makes everything seem a bit lighter, even if life is still delivering trials. By far the things that bring me the most joy in this all-too-brief season are the scintillating songs of the birds (yes, I alliterated on purpose) and the brilliant beauty of the flowers. Over the past couple of weeks in particular, I have noticed day after day the magnificence of daffodils.

They seem to be everywhere—not just in the neighbor's landscaping, but along the side of the road. And not merely along well manicured highways, either. The streets I drive are far from glamorous. Run-down and dirty would be two words that are far more appropriate. Yet a few days ago, as I turned a familiar corner that is decorated by weeds and trash, I noticed another gem: daffodils. There, in the middle of french fry wrappers and cigarette butts was a random, wonderful clump of daffodils. Perhaps they are wild. Perhaps they are the last remaining vestiges of city council efforts from days long ago. Regardless of how they originally were planted, the fact remains that they are God's creation and they are stunning.

God creates beauty even in the midst of ugliness. Whether it is a trial of persecution or pain, or even bearing the consequences of your own sin, He causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose. And the ultimate picture of beauty amid sin? The cross. Surrounded by scoffing and mocking, hate and spite, there bled Jesus Christ, Lord of all. Is there a more beautiful reality than the atoning sacrifice of our Lord and Savior dying for our ugly, wretched, wicked, sins? Is there anything more glorious, more indescribable than redemption? Is there anything more precious than the blood of Christ?

Well, perhaps that was not my most skillful segue, but it mimics the randomness of my thoughts this week. I hope you'll take notice of the beauty of God's creation in the coming days. Even more, I hope you'll not forget to look to the cross and to the One whose righteousness has been imputed to you so that the ugly death of sin would not stain your soul.

With that, I also hope you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

10 April 2014

The Willing Submission of Jesus Christ

J.C. Ryle
When Christ died, He died of His own voluntary free will. He uses a remarkable expression to teach this: "I lay down my life that I might take it again. No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again."

The point before us is of no mean importance. We must never suppose for a moment that our Lord had no power to prevent His sufferings, and that He was delivered up to His enemies and crucified because He could not help it. Nothing could be further from the truth than such an idea. The treachery of Judas, the armed band of priests' servants, the enmity of Scribes and Pharisees, the injustice of Pontius Pilate, the rude hands of Roman soldiers, the scourge, the nails, and the spear—all these could not have harmed a hair of our Lord's head, unless He had allowed them. Well might He say those remarkable words, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and He shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels. But how, then, shall the Scripture be fulfilled?" (Matt 26:53).

The plain truth is, that our Lord submitted to death of His own free will, because He knew that His death was the only way of making atonement for man's sins. He poured out His soul unto death with all the desire of His heart, because He had determined to pay our debt to God, and redeem us from hell. For the joy set before Him He willingly endured the cross, and laid down His life, in order that we, through His death, might have eternal life. His death was not the death of a martyr, who sinks at last overwhelmed by enemies, but the death of a triumphant conqueror, who knows that even in dying He wins for Himself and His people a kingdom and a crown of glory.

Let us lean back our souls on these mighty truths, and be thankful. A willing Savior, a loving Savior, a Savior who came specially into the world to bring life to man, is just the Savior that we need. If we hear His voice, repent and believe, He is our own.

– J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2009), 214–5.

Further Reading
Beth Moore Prophesies a Coming 'Outpouring,' Warns of 'Scoffers'
Dedicated Pastors Produce Discerning Sheep
Actively Seeking Holiness

05 April 2014

A Word to Parents

Parents, your children have souls which God expects you to nourish with at least as much care as you lavish on their physical needs. Who will teach them if not you? No one is surprised to hear that a ship put out to sea without a compass has sunk or run aground. Why should we be surprised to see children wander far from God, when they have received no spiritual direction?

We see a pattern set for us by the saints of old. David, busy king that he was, thought it his solemn responsibility to instruct his son in the ways of the Lord: "Know thou the God of they father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind" (1 Chron 28:9). And what need I tell you of Timothy's mother and grandmother, who taught him the Scriptures from the time he was a child? I believe a man calls in question his own Christianity if he does not bother to acquaint his child with God and the way that leads to Him. I will even go so far as to say I have never known a true saint who was not deeply concerned about his child's relationship with the heavenly Father.

You will give a poor account at the Last Day if all you can say is, "Lord, here are my children, I bred them gentlemen and left them wealthy." What a mocking witness to your own folly that you would do so much for that which rusts, and nothing for a knowledge of God unto salvation, which endures forever!

No Compromise Radio: Wanted: Preachers and Heralds

Additional Resources 
NoCo90: The Misuse of Matthew 18
NoCo90: I Wasn't Led
NoCo90: The Myth of Free Will

04 April 2014

This 'n' That

It is the joy of every blogger to find him or herself on the cutting edge of breaking news. And even if it's not 'breaking,' if it's at least earth-shattering and unexpected, then the blogger is just as gleeful. Today I have such news to share with you. I only hope that some of you are prepared to receive it because, well, it is big news. Take a deep breath. Sit down.

Okay, are you ready?

Hollywood has produced a movie based on the Bible that completely and utterly distorts the truth of the Word.

Let me give you just a minute to let that sink in.

You never saw it coming, did you? I know. Apparently a lot of other Christians didn't either, because the outrage over Noah, the movie, has been boisterous. It seems that some people are far more comfortable expressing indignation at false doctrine in the movie theater than they are at voicing the same concern over false doctrine in the church.

Yet there is a difference. A huge, massive, not-to-be-ignored difference: we expect Hollywood to hate God and to distort His Word. It is a sad thing, however, that we must expect the same thing from those who profess Christ, yet we are promised as much in Scripture (Matthew 7:15; Acts 20:30) . So yes, this week I grew weary of Christians decrying the theology of Noah when they stand by and smile as men like Rick Warren or Joel Osteen or Steven Furtick do an even greater disservice by twisting God's Word under the guise of Christianity. Now, I am not saying there are not helpful and worthwhile reviews of the film that have been published. In fact, here is one that is quite good. But when the majority of our time is spent on such silliness, we must realize that we are merely providing more publicity for this colossal dupe, and likely are driving more unbelievers to go see it, if for no other reason than out of spite.

So that's my rant for the week. What's yours? Feel free to unleash it (cleanly, of course) in the comments below, but only if it is related to something that you find here in your week in review (kind of):

02 April 2014

Who Is Like the Lord Our God?

Praise the Lord!
Praise, O servants of the Lord,
Praise the name of the Lord.
Blessed be the name of the Lord
From this time forth and forever.
From the rising of the sun to its setting
The name of the Lord is to be praised.
The Lord is high above all nations;
His glory is above the heavens.

Who is like the Lord our God,
Who is enthroned on high,
Who humbles Himself to behold
The things that are in heaven and in the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust
And lifts the needy from the ash heap,
To make them sit with princes,
With the princes of His people.
He makes the barren woman abide in the house
As a joyful mother of children.
Praise the Lord!

(Psalm 113)

Further Reading 
Consciousness and Conviction of Sin
Take and Eat: A False Convert at the Lord's Table
Acting Like Men? Pastors, Pulpits and Profanity

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