Weekend Roundup: Seven Articles for your Musings

OK. So it has been nearly a month since I did this so this one isn’t so much a “weekend roundup” as it is a “monthly roundup.” Because of that there are also more than seven for you to muse. Enjoy!

Finders and keepers: “Has familiarity bred contempt? Do we value the truth as we should? With what eagerness or languor will you go to church tomorrow to hear the Word of God read and preached? Will once be enough? How often do you turn to it during the week?”

Who are You to “Who are You” Me?: Have you ever been in a conversation with someone about abortion or homosexuality and suddenly someone says, “Who are you to judge me?” Jay Watts very helpfully points out that such a response is “lazy thinking, if it can be categorized as thinking at all” and later goes on to say, “If by “Who are you to judge?” they mean to imply judgment is wrong then they are wrong to judge you. If they mean that you are wrong to judge others based on your criteria of judgement, then they need to focus on the reasons offered to support your criteria and not you.”

Jesus, Sex, and (gay) Marriage: In this article, Kenny Burchard puts to rest several often-used rationale from the culture with respect to the Bible and especially with respect to Jesus. I especially found #2 helpful as I have encountered that several times in my own ministry and #5 is especially important. Homosexuals are not the enemy. The enemy are the wolves within the church who are teaching homosexuality is OK and encouraging it as an acceptable lifestyle. As Christians, we must compassionately reach out to every kind of person. We must tell them of God’s love and call them to repent of their sins that they might be forgiven and declared righteous by the Lord God Almighty.

Yes, All Things, In Fact: I couldn’t agree more with Kevin DeYoung thoughts on God’s providence over all things and personally love to proclaim it whenever I can. God’s providence is a pillow for our heads. Especially uplifting is this paragraph – “You can look at providence through the lens of human autonomy and our idolatrous notions of freedom and see a mean God moving tsunamis and kings like chess pieces in some kind of perverse divine play-time.  Or you can look at providence through the lens of Scripture and see a loving God counting the hairs on our heads and directing the sparrows in the sky so that we might live life unafraid.  “What else can we wish for ourselves,” Calvin wrote, “if not even one hair can fall from our head without his will?” There are no accidents in your life.  Nothing has been left to chance.  Every economic downturn, every phone call in the middle of the night, every oncology report has been sent to us from the God who sees all things, plans all things, and loves us more than we know.” Now if we could only keep this in mind when the times of crisis or emergency come upon us. It seems we are more often than not practical atheists in times of suffering!

How to Fight the Good Fight for Joy: Seven ways to fight for the joy Jesus promised us.

What Macklemore got wrong…and right: Denny Burk shares the real question everyone should be thinking about post-Grammy’s – “In the wake of the Grammys, the big question is not what you thought of Macklemore. The big question is which God you will believe in. The false god of “same love,” or the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ? Which one will you choose?”

The Biggest “Contradiction” in the Bible: What do you think it might be?

5 Ways Facebook May Be Harming Your Christian Life: Kruger asks, “What effect does “social media” technology have on the way we view church? What effect does it have on the way we conceive of life in the body of Christ?” and then shares 5 characteristics of a “Facebook culture” that we need to reckon with.

The Wikipedia Church: The article begins this way – “Jesus made a definitive statement regarding the church.  He said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).  From the days of the early church, a pattern has existed regarding the church’s nature and function.  The very word “church” indicates a calling out from the world.  R.C. Sproul, in his commentary on Ephesians has written, “To be called by God out of the world and into the body of Christ is the highest vocation possible.”  However, in our present day, pastors and church leaders seem to be consistently looking to the culture to redefine, reinvent, and restructure church.  This type of behavior is much like the modern Wikipedia site where the culture contributes to define terms and provide research.  We are living in a “Wikipedia Church” culture.”

9 Benefits of Expository Preaching: I am a strong believer in expositional preaching. It is how my dad preaches. It is what was modeled to me in college and it is what I strive to do every Sunday. I often get asked why I preach the way I do. Now I have a list of 9 reasons! Many of the benefits of it are hard to measure but here are nine practical-theological benefits worth noting.

Map: More than half of humanity lives within this circle: A really interesting population map that shows Asia’s population dominance.

He Must Increase, But I Must Decrease

Yesterday I preached from John 3:22-36 and pointed out that while John’s disciples were envious that Jesus’ popularity was growing John the Baptist was filled with surpassing joy because that was exactly what he himself had worked for! True joy is found in being occupied with Christ and it frees us from being envious/jealous/resentful toward other ministries/churches/pastors.

I share that because this morning I came across a wonderful example of this truth in action. It would seem that when F.B. Meyer was in the very zenith of his ministry in London there came to London a nineteen year old boy. And overnight that boy was world famous, throngs were going to hear him, and his name was spoken on every street by every heart. Any guesses who that “boy” might be? If you guessed Charles Spurgeon you are right!

How do you think that made F.B. Meyer feel? He says in his autobiography that it filled him with envy (no surprise there, right?). What did he do with that envy? F.B. Meyer says:

“I took it to the Lord; got down on my knees and on my face before the Lord, and I said to the Lord, ‘It’s not right, this feeling of envy that I have in my heart.’”

And then F.B. Meyer did something spectacular. He began praying for Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the boy preacher. He began asking God to give him a double portion of the Spirit from heaven, give him twice as many souls. Give him a fame that circles the world ten times, not once. And F.B. Meyer says it was not long until he began to look upon every triumph of the young Spurgeon as though it were his own. When Spurgeon would preach to thousands of people, Meyer said he’d rejoice as though he himself had done it. And when Spurgeon won throngs to the Lord it was as though Meyer had done it, he said, he so prayed for the young man and rejoiced in his glorious ministry. That is the spirit of John the Baptist! Read John 3:29! It is also the spirit of Moses in Numbers 11:26-29 and the spirit of Paul in Philippians 1:14-18.

Oh for more of this spirit in God’s church! As I said in my message yesterday morning – In a world that is under God’s wrath for rejecting God’s beloved Son there is no room for pride, envy, and competition but instead we must joyfully employ what God has given us to magnify the preeminent Savior! This new year, let’s make it our preoccupation to make Christ preeminent in all things. This new year, let’s be swallowed up in the service of Him who is the greatest for in this is true joy found!

Heaven is not your default destination

A little over a month or so ago I wrote this blogpost. In it I asked the question “If you don’t delight in God now or express praise to God now or enjoy God now why do you want to go to heaven where you will be doing that for eternity?” Well today I finished reading The Hole in our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung and he makes a very similar point about holiness and heaven:

Because God’s new world is free from every strain or hint of sin, it’s hard to imagine how we could enjoy heaven without holiness. As J.C. Ryle reminds us, heaven is a holy place. The Lord of heaven is a holy God. The angels are holy creatures. The inhabitants are holy saints. Holiness is written on everything in heaven. And nothing unholy can enter into this heaven (Rev. 21:27; Heb. 12:14). Even if you could enter heaven without holiness, what would you do? What joy would you feel there? What holy man or woman of God would you sit down with for fellowship? Their pleasures are not your pleasures. Their character is not your character. What they love, you do not love. If you dislike a holy God now, why would you want to be with him forever? If worship does not capture your attention at present, what makes you think it will thrill you in some heavenly future? If ungodliness is your delight here on earth, what will please you in heaven, where all is clean and pure? You would not be happy there if you are not holy here. Or as Spurgeon put it, ‘Sooner could a fish live upon a tree than the wicked in Paradise.’

The overall point of both the previous post I mentioned and this one is not to discourage you from wanting to go to heaven but a wake up call to help you realize above all else that heaven is not your default destination. Instead, it is hell. If God is not your delight here and now he will not be your delight in eternity. If you are not holy here and now then heaven is not your future home! The Bible says in Hebrews 12:14 – “without holiness no one will see the Lord.” I urge you to recognize that heaven is an entirely holy place and it is only those who have repented of their unrighteousness and been clothed with the holiness of Christ that will dwell there forever. How can you be clothed with the righteousness of Christ? The good news is that though all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, the righteousness of God is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe and that freely by his grace. Won’t you then believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved from sin and God’s wrath and be set free to live to the praise and glory of God?

God’s Grace in the Deepest Pain

“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” – Romans 5:3-4

Suffering is an undeniable part of being human. Our natural response is at best to survive it and at worst to complain and develop angry and bitter hearts. However as Christians who have been justified through faith in Jesus Christ we not only rejoice in the hope of the glory of God when with glorified bodies we will dwell in the unveiled majesty and splendor of God but we can also rejoice in our sufferings. This is not natural but supernatural grace in which all Christians live and move and have their being. If you have 12 minutes please watch this video below. It is the story of Matthew and Sarah Harms experience of learning to trust God’s goodness and faithfulness through a DEEPLY painful loss. I warn you in advance, you will need a box of tissues, at first to grieve with them but by the end to wipe away tears of hope and joy in God who truly is faithful. Please watch and be encouraged at the hope, grace and strength which God supernaturally provides to all who are trusting his son, the risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.