Friday, March 30, 2007

QYST - Day 09 - Honor Your Parents

“Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.” PSALM 34:14,15
Today we are going to look at the Fifth Commandment: “Honor your father and your mother: that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God gives you” (Exodus 20:12).

This Commandment is unique, because it is “the first commandment with promise” (Ephesians 6:2). To honor our parents is to esteem them, show them respect, and obey them. The New Testament instructs children to “obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1) and “obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing to the Lord” (Colossians 3:20). Are children to obey only the things they want to, or that sound reasonable to them? No; in order to please the Lord, they are to obey “in all things.” That doesn’t mean their parents will always make wise decisions or treat their children as they should, but God will hold the parents accountable for their own actions. Regardless of the parents’ parenting skills, the children are to obey—that is their role for which God will hold them accountable.

Again, the lawful use of the Law is to show us how far we have fallen short of God’s perfect standard. The Law brings the knowledge of sin. The best of us haven’t honored our parents as we should.
This devotion was excerpted from The School Of Biblical Evangelism.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

QYST - Day 08 - The Sabbath

“One man regards one day above another, another regards every day alike.
Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind.” ROMANS 14:5,6
Today we are going to look at the Fourth Commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). Are Christians still under this law? The apostles came together on the first day of the week to break bread (Acts 20:7). The collection was taken on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:2). Jesus did keep the Sabbath. He had to keep the whole Law to be the perfect sacrifice. The Bible makes it clear that the Law has been satisfied in Christ.

Romans 14:5–10 tells us that one man esteems one day of the week above another; another esteems every day alike. Then Scripture tells us that everyone should be fully persuaded in his own mind. We are not to judge each other regarding the day on which we worship. There isn’t even one command in the New Testament for Christians to keep the Sabbath holy. In fact, we are told not to let others judge us regarding Sabbaths (Colossians 2:16), and that man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath for man (Mark 2:27). The Sabbath was given as a sign to Israel (Exodus 31:13–17); nowhere is it given as a sign to the church. Thousands of years after the Commandment was given, we can still see the sign that separates Israel from the world—they continue to keep the Sabbath holy.

Charles Spurgeon said, “I am no preacher of the old legal Sabbath. I am a preacher of the gospel. The Sabbath of the Jew is to him a task; the Lord’s Day of the Christian, the first day of the week, is to him a joy, a day of rest, of peace, and of thanksgiving. And if you Christian men can earnestly drive away all distractions, so that you can really rest today, it will be good for your bodies, good for your souls, good mentally, good spiritually, good temporally, and good eternally.”

This devotion was excerpted from The School Of Biblical Evangelism.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Jesus Prays for All Believers

20 "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24 "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25 "Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Secret

It doesn't upset me that the world is buying "The Secret" as it really appeals to people, exactly as it did when it was sold as "The Power of Positive Thinking" or "EST" or any other secular program that tells people that they really are in charge of the Universe, and all they have to do is learn to control it.

What upsets me is when it gets just as many people "in" the church falling for it. This latest packaging of the lie in the garden (You can be like God) is very insidious, as it has people pushing it as a totally non-contrary to Christianity method to improve your life. Especially with people like Oprah pushing it, soon there will not be anyone that doesn't know "The Secret".

I am writing today because this week, the movie showed up at my office. We were told to watch it as a way to improve our practice. I objected, but when my boss told me that it wasn't a religious movie, I decided to watch it and take notes. I know I am not going to convince anyone who is not a believer that this movie is pushing a religion. But, here are some of my notes. You decide for yourself what it is pushing.

You can have what ever you want. (greed, lust)

The Law of Attraction - Quantum Physics - proves that whatever is in your mind, you attract to you, whatever is in your mind, you become. (Uh, scary that this is basically true. The scary part is that what is in our mind and our hearts is deceitfully wicked)

Thoughts become things. It always works. With every person. (Does this line up with reality? Just as the Word of Faith movement believes, anything bad that happens, YOU actually caused. Either your lack of faith, or your thinking bad thoughts brought it upon you.)

Good thoughts or bad thoughts do not matter. To solve the problem that people don't like you if you are gay, you just need to focus on the positive aspects of your life and you will have people liking you. (Wow, what about the problem of being judged by a holy God for your sin? Can you focus on the positive aspects of Hell to make it feel not so hot?)

If what you want is sin (Lust, Greed) or anything at all (remember, our hearts desire jewelry, fast cars, big houses, dating several women at once) you can have it. Focus on your desires and they are yours for the taking.

Positive thoughts are stronger than negative thoughts. (By what measuring rod are we calling thoughts positive or negative? Once we become the gods of the Universe, who is to say that our thoughts aren't all positive?)

Avoid thoughts. They are limited. The key is to focus on your feelings. If it feels good, do it. (Wow, need I say more?) Your thoughts/feelings actually create your life/your future. (Again, we are the creators of the universe.)

It's important to Feel Good to attract things that make you feel good. Freedom and power come from these good feelings.

The Universe/Your Higher Self (You)/Your Guardian Angel is just like Alladin's Lamp. It's job is to fulfill your wishes... with no limit.
Ask, Believe and you will Receive. Focus on your desires. Feel it more than think it.
(Do I really need to comment on each line? This just screams out to me. You either see it or you don't.)

If you are doing it the way the Universe wants you to... You'll be joyous about it. (Again, trust your heart to lead you.)

Trust that life will take you where you want BECAUSE you want it. Be in alignment with the Universe. There are no rules according to the Universe. (Sounds just like traditional Christianity to me. What do you think?)

Life is meant to be abundant... in all areas. (Says who? Define abundant.)

Get yourself inner joy first. Then outer joy will follow. (Is that like Seek first your own kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be added to you?)

The secret is that we are creators of our universe. (In the beginning, was me!)

Fill yourself up. Give to yourself first. Fall in love with yourself. (These are all direct quotes from the movie. I'm not sure I could make this stuff up.)

Only one person can be in charge of your bliss - That's you. Your joy lies within you. You can even heal yourself.

Don't change the world. Go with the flow and celebrate it. (This movie runs on and inevitably starts contradidicting itself. First, desire change. Then, don't try to change anything.)

Bless and praise things. (Not the creator of these things) Embrace what you want - to get more of it.

Everything is energy. You are energy. God is energy. (It follows that You are God). Then literally, you are the Author. You are the Designer. (Check out who is called those titles in Hebrews 12:2)

The power that is within YOU is greater than the power that is in the world. (I suppose if you read 1 John 4 in context, you won't misunderstand what this means)

We are unlimited beings.

God does not have a purpose for you. Your purpose is what YOU say it is.

Nobody will ever stand in judgment of you... EVER (Acts 17:31 / Psalm 96:13)

All great religious teachers (picture of Jesus on the screen) understood the secret... That YOU are the Creator

All great religious teachers (picture of Jesus on the screen) understood the secret... That YOU are the Creator

There it is. Another example of a philosophy taking away the righteous judgement of God. Remove God from the throne. Replace yourself there. No God, no judgement. No sin. Party on!

Please, folks. These are the end times. There is coming a day soon that God will judge the world in righteousness. Who do you know that is eating up this spiritual garbage? Please take some time to share the truth with them. Don't let your hands have their blood on them. How will they believe if they don't hear the truth? How will they hear it if we don't tell them?

Don't let the Gospel of Jesus Christ be a Secret anymore!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

More Trouble With Security

Just got back from the East Coast, and I had a layover in the Twin Cities. I couldn't pass the Mall of America without giving out a few million dollar bills. That was pretty cool.

But, back in Los Angeles, we hit the Valencia Town Center on our usual Friday night. Tony Miano and the usual suspects were there tonight. I got into a good conversation with some guys and attracted the attention of a young security guard. He stood by and listened for a second then interjected, "Hey, what are you talking about?" I explained that there was a chance that the kids I was talking to were going to hell. The security guard told me that there was a good chance that they are going to Heaven. Wow, an opinion from a security guard. I was excited. Well, there is a way to find out, I told him. The kids I was speaking with already admitted to being lying, thieving, blasphemous adulterers at heart. They also realized that God, as a good judge, should send people like that to hell. I asked them all if they would like to know what God did so we didn't have to go to hell for our sin. Then the security guard told me that he wasn't allowed to talk about religion. I told him, that we wouldn't want to keep him from his work, so I would explain it to everyone. After I finished, I gave the guys the Good Person tract to have a 'home version' of our conversation.

The security guard told me that I would have to leave the mall at this point. I asked why, and he told me that having conversations like this would not be allowed. I said that I was merely conversing with my new friends. He asked when I met the people. I said, five minutes ago. He then asked what would stop me from meeting more people and having similar conversations all evening. I said I thought that was an excellent idea and excused myself.

I think he was a little perplexed and didn't know exactly what to do with me. But, he didn't have any confusion when he found other members of our group out in a different area within a few minutes. He asked them to leave the mall. We reconvened and figured that without passing out tracts, we should be able to continue our conversations. There were literally hundreds of people all over the streets talking with each other and we did our best to blend in.

The next day, Ian spoke with the mall management, and they said that as long as we weren't passing out tracts or soliciting for anything, we should feel free to have conversations with people. I'll post more if we get anything in writing from them. It seems that we are being stopped in just about every place we go to share our faith. I can see a day coming when one of us gets arrested for simply speaking.

In the meantime, I finished up the night by playing a game of Name 10 Get 20 with another group of kids. This is the recording for the podcast this week. A couple of them had received million dollar bills before, and didn't quite remember the whole thing. So, this was a nice refresher for them, and an intro to the Gospel for the others. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will nurture the seeds we sowed that night.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Philosophical Mismatch

I received a letter today about my site. I'd like to address it.

Hi Dru,

Great blog site. I’m also impressed with the way of the master material and have been greatly encouraged in my faith by it.

I have a question for you. What’s a guy who promotes HBKS and who wears a t-shirt to build street witnessing opportunities (name 10 get 20) doing listening to “The Grateful Dead” and supporting secular love matching sites and horoscopes on his web site.

Blogger, the site who provides the programming and hosting of this blog, have an integrated revenue producing feature, Google Adsense, that theoretically searches the content of your blog for keywords and puts ads targeted to those topics. The actual sites are not chosen by me. If I mention something about how Horoscopes are not to be followed by Christians because the Bible specifically forbids them, then the word "Horoscope" is found, and could trigger an ad. Actually, as I talk about Jesus and the church a lot, I get ads for several teachers, including "Word of Faith" teachers that I would disagree with theologically. I am working on utilizing the Amazon ads where I can rely on their targeting (like the current banner at the top) and others where I can specifically pick a book I would like to promote (like the article from a few days ago). I'd love to hear some opinions on whether I should just remove the Adsense completely, as I cannot control what content they contain.

Here’s some info about the Grateful Dead that I thought you might be interested in…
NBC’s new "prime-time-blasphemy" titled "God, the Devil and Bob" spewed forth recently (March 3, 2000, 7:30 PM cst). A sleazy, sexually-suggestive, profanity-laced, intolerant, bigoted, sacrilege cartoon "starring" God, the Devil and the Bob Alman family. "God" is a "dead-ringer" for the degenerate, Grateful Dead leader, Jerry Garcia. The Dead’s Garcia died on August 9, 1995 after destroying his body with drugs. I wonder what that implies about "God" modeled after a "dead" drug addict? Interesting one of the Grateful Dead’s song’s is titled "A Friend of the Devil", in which they proudly sing "A friend of the devil is a friend of mine
I've never seen that show, and certainly, many people look like Jerry Garcia, overweight, gray hair, and a beard. Even Santa fits that description. I don't watch those types of shows. It sounds like Southpark, which I don't watch either. I think the most applicable part of the argument is that I like a band which seems to promote satanism. While, I would say that The Grateful Dead, especially Jerry Garcia, were/are certainly not Christian, they don't promote the devil anymore than any other secular artist. The song in question is a tale of an old desperado being chased by the law across the Nevada desert, feeling like the devil is after him. And, many of their songs, usually written by Robert Hunter (his lyrics are all online) contain biblical references to illustrate points in his writing, similar to the way Shakespeare used them, though I doubt Shakespeare was a believer as well.

You can find many songs, such as Estimated Prophet, Sampson and Delilah, My Brother Esau, The Greatest Story Ever Told, We Bid You Goodnight, Cold Jordan, and Blues for Allah that have religious references. Since I became a believer while basically on the road with the Grateful Dead, and being a "deadhead" is something that has more to do than simply liking Jerry Garcia, doubt I'll ever stop being one. Just as my wife, who is now a believer, still feels like a cultural catholic, I guess I'll always have a background as a cultural deadhead.

I like to use that culture, which, believe it or not, just like our culture, has a complete microcosm of faiths, as a springboard to reach those who would otherwise not be reached. Many deadheads (sports fans, fishermen, computer nerds, professional business travellers, insert your social group here) would not walk into a church of their own accord. My sphere of influence is people who for thirty years came together to travel the country, dancing their hearts out, and though they didn't have the answer yet, were open to spiritual things, and actively sought them out.

I am able to bridge the gap to these people, relate to them on their level as one who has truly been there, and show them the true gospel of Jesus Christ. The same way a person who watches football can walk into any bar on a Monday night in America and have an instant rapport with the guy in there watching "the game", I have a group of millions around the country that I have an instant kinship with. Though I regret some of the lost time spent following after idols instead of the true God, I am doing my best to use what Satan intended for evil and actually use it to share the gospel with as many people as I can. I'm not sure if that was adequate explanation enough. But, I do appreciate having to think about it and write it down.

The google add which you encourage viewers to click took me to a love matching site that advertised horoscopes. I noticed you also have a horoscope sign on your profile.
Again, I don't choose the ads, and as I look at it closer, I am considering removing that feature if I can't get more control of the sponsor choices. And, to be clear, I do not even know my astrological sign, nor the signs of my three children. When people ask me what sign my kids are and I honestly say I don't know, they are really shocked, as though I told them I am an alien. The sign that is displayed in blogger is not my choice, it comes from blogger. Take a look at any other blog and you will see the same thing. I'll see if I can request it to be removed.

Please, if you love the Lord, get rid of these things and keep your witness strong and pure. If you don’t then take another look at the destiny of the damned, those who are guilty of breaking God’s moral laws and continue to reject Christ and live for self.

I would love to hear back from you Dru. You site is great but there are some serious mismatches in the philosophies you combine here.

God Bless,

Excellent advice. As a fellow believer, we are called to hold each other accountable. I really do appreciate that you took the time to examine my site and question me about inconsistencies.

I'll close with the lyrics from another Grateful Dead song...

Lay down my dear brothers, lay down and take your rest
Oh won't you lay your head upon your saviour's breast
I love you, oh but Jesus loves you the best
And I bid you goodnight, goodnight, goodnight
And I bid you goodnight, goodnight, goodnight
And I bid you goodnight, goodnight, goodnight

Lay down my dear brothers, lay down and take your rest
Oh won't you lay your head upon your saviour's breast
I love you, oh but Jesus loves you the best
And I bid you goodnight, goodnight, goodnight
And I bid you goodnight, goodnight, goodnight

Walking in Jerusalem just like John (bid you goodnight, goodnight)
I remember right well, I remember right well (bid you goodnight, goodnight)
His rod and his staff shall comfort me (bid you goodnight, goodnight)
Tell "A" for the ark, that wonderful boat (bid you goodnight, goodnight)
Tell "B" for the beast at the ending of the wood (bid you goodnight, goodnight)
Well it eat all the children that would not be good (bid you goodnight, goodnight)
I'm walking in Jerusalem just like John (bid you goodnight, goodnight)
Walking in the valley of the shadow of death (bid you goodnight, goodnight, goodnight)

Lay down my dear brothers, lay down and take your rest
Oh won't you lay your head upon your saviour's breast
I love you, oh but Jesus love you the best
And I bid you goodnight, goodnight, goodnight
And I bid you goodnight, goodnight, goodnight
And I bid you goodnight, goodnight, goodnight

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Is Your Family Saved?

Here is a letter I found from a fellow seed sower who in the course of learning to evangelize realized that maybe his wife was not saved...
Hey all, an interesting and probably a bit strange of a witnessing encounter since it took place within my own home.

I've noticed that since I've really begun to take my calling seriously, my wife has begun to distance herself from me. Emotionally, physically, etc. I was wondering what was wrong as she professed to be a Christian, yet filled her life with other things which I won't talk about here.

Earlier today when I picked her up from an overnight at a friends house, I decided after praying for days, that it was time to speak to my wife about not only what I was learning in the lessons, but also about what I was learning in my daily devotions. To my surprise not only was she completely turned off by the discussion, she also called me judgmental and struck out at me as being a hypocrite and several other not so nice things. What surprised me even more was her honest answer to the question: "If you died today, would you be certain of heaven?"

She answered no.

I began to think about what I've been reading in the lessons here, and began to ask her several pointed questions about her behavior and how it would measure up to the standards God has set for us. I really tried not to be judgmental, but at first I failed in this. We argued a bit, as is normal when discussing religion between us. Then I felt led to explain everything in an e-mail.

In this e-mail I approached with both a Law centered (to convict the conscience) and a grace centered love filled letter. I spoke to her honestly about how I felt about God, her, and our small family.

Tonight as she went to bed (before I do, I do some Word study and also perhaps an extra lesson before bed myself) she called me upstairs and asked me to pray the sinners prayer with her and tell her more about how to truly repent of her sins.

Praise God!
Wow. Is your family saved? Are you? Every once in a while, I like to do as the Scriptures say and examine my own heart to make sure I am in the faith.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

ABC's of Financial Success

We completed our series at Shepherd of the Hills church on Financial Stewardship from the curriculum by Barry Cameron. This year we are spending the whole year on stewardship -Stewardship of our Time, of our Talent, of our Treasure, and of the Gospel that has been Entrusted to us as believers.

I have been through the Crown Financial Ministries ten week course, and have taught it many times, and this was a very similar, though shorter book. All the basics of sound financial principles are in there. The biggest one is that you need to adjust your Attitude to understand that everything belongs to God. Once you have your priorities aligned correctly, you lay the foundation for how you think about spending your resources.

This leads into the main thesis of this book... Don't Spend Money You Don't Have! Don't get into debt. Live below your means. Spend less than you earn. However you say it, it is good solid advice. When you do some simple calculations of how much money you will owe by paying interest on credit cards versus how much money you will have by earning interest in your savings, your eyes will be opened.

A short read, and a good one. It reminds me of the first book on this subject that my father gave me, called The Richest Man in Babylon. I am still incorporating the lessons I learned from that book in my daily life. I would recommend giving that book to anyone in their teens or early twenties. If only kids that age could learn the valuable lessons before they get themselves into overwhelming debt caused by irresponsible spending on credit cards.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

QYST - Day 07 - God's Holy Name

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” John 1:12
Today we will look at the Third Commandment: “You shall not take the name of the LORD you God in vain; for the LORD your God will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7). God’s glory, His name, and His goodness are synonymous. Moses was told that if he saw God face to face in all of His glory, he would die (Exodus 33:20). How fearful it will be for blasphemous humanity to stand before the unspeakable glory of God, in all of His goodness, and give an account for every idle word. God’s goodness will ensure that His justice is carried out.

It is also interesting to note that when a blasphemer is questioned about why he would do such a thing, his reaction will often confirm the words of Scripture that he is taking God’s name “in vain.” He will say, “I wasn’t really using God’s name as a cuss word. It’s just a word.” In essence, God’s name isn’t anything special and isn’t worthy of any respect. His attempt at justification merely adds to his sin. It is hard to understand how the world can hold the names of God and Jesus Christ in such disdain that they can be used to express disgust. Hitler’s name wasn’t despised enough to be used as a cuss word.

This devotion was excerpted from The School Of Biblical Evangelism

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Jesus Prays for His Disciples

6 "I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. 13 "I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Parable of the Fishless Fishermen

There was a group called The Fisherman's Fellowship. They were surrounded by streams and lakes full of hungry fish. They met regularly to discuss the call to fish, the abundance of fish, and the thrill of catching fish. They got excited about fishing!

Someone suggested that they needed a philosophy of fishing, so they carefully defined and redefined fishing, and the purpose of fishing. They developed fishing strategies and tactics. Then they realized that they had been going at it backwards. They had approached fishing from the point of view of the fisherman, and not from the point of view of the fish. How do fish view the world? How does the fisherman appear to the fish? What do fish eat, and when? These are all good things to know. So they began research studies, and attended conferences on fishing. Some traveled to far away places to study different kinds of fish, with different habits. Some got PhD's in fishology. But no one had yet gone fishing.

So a committee was formed to send out fisherman. As prospective fishing places outnumbered fisherman, the committee needed to determine priorities. A priority list of fishing places was posted on bulletin boards in all of the fellowship halls. But still, no one was fishing. A survey was launched, to find out why. Most did not answer the survey, but from those that did, it was discovered that some felt called to study fish, a few, to furnish fishing equipment, and several to go around encouraging the fishermen. What with meetings, conferences, and seminars, they just simply didn't have time to fish.

Now, Jake was a newcomer to the Fisherman's Fellowship. After one stirring meeting of the Fellowship, he went fishing and caught a large fish. At the next meeting, he told his story, and he was honored for his catch. He was told that he had a special "gift of fishing." He was then scheduled to speak at all the Fellowship chapters and tell how he did it.

With all the speaking invitations and his election to the board of directors of the Fisherman's Fellowship, Jake no longer has time to go fishing. But soon he began to feel restless and empty. He longed to feel the tug on the line once again. So he cut the speaking, he resigned from the board, and he said to a friend, "Let's go fishing." They did, just the two of them, and they caught fish. The members of the Fisherman's Fellowship were many, the fish were plentiful, but the fishers were few!


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Jesus Prays For Himself

1 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
Eternal. Jesus was with the Father before the world began. And, his work is complete. Remission of sins, eternal life for those that God has called.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

QYST - Day 06 - Second Commandment

“You adulterers and adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” JAMES 4:4
Today we will look at the Second Commandment: “You shall not make for yourself any graven image . . . You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy to thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:4–6).

Idolatry is perhaps the greatest of all sins because it opens the door to unrestrained evil. It gives sinners license not only to tolerate sin, but to sanction it, fanned by demonic influence. If you make a god in your image, one you feel comfortable with, you can then create your own moral standards to go along with him . . . or her.

Take the time to study 1 Corinthians 10:1–14 and see how idolatry leads to sexual sin. So do yourself a big favor: destroy your idols. An idol doesn’t have to be something tangible; anything that takes the place of God in our life serves as an idol, whether it be our job, a person, possessions, etc. Cultivate an understanding of what God is like, as revealed in Scripture. That will put the fear of God in you and cause you to keep your heart free from sin, and at the same time you will have strong motivation to do what He says regarding the Great Commission.

This devotion was excerpted from The School Of Biblical Evangelism

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

QYST - Day 05 - First Commandment

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength: this is the first commandment.” MARK 12:30
Over the next 10 days, we will take a brief look at each of the Ten Commandments. An understanding of God’s Law is essential not only for self-examination, but also in order to be able to share the gospel biblically.

Today we will look at the First Commandment: “I am the LORD your God, which has brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:2,3). Those who profess to keep this Commandment would do well to run their eyes over the Westminster Confession of Faith. This was penned by godly men in 1646, and expressed their thoughts (based on Scripture) about the essence of this Commandment:

The duties required in the First Commandment are, the knowing and acknowledging of God to be the only true God and our God; and to worship and glorify Him accordingly, by thinking, meditating, remembering, highly esteeming, honoring, adoring, choosing, loving, desiring, fearing of Him, believing Him, trusting, hoping, delighting, rejoicing in Him, being zealous for Him, calling upon Him, giving all praise and thanks, and yielding all obedience and submission to Him with the whole man; being careful in all things to please Him, and sorrowful when in anything He is offended; and walking humbly with Him.

This devotion was excerpted from The School Of Biblical Evangelism.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Disciples' Grief Will Turn to Joy

17 Some of his disciples said to one another, "What does he mean by saying, 'In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,' and 'Because I am going to the Father'?" 18 They kept asking, "What does he mean by 'a little while'? We don't understand what he is saying."

19 Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, "Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, 'In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me'? 20 I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

25 "Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father."

29 Then Jesus' disciples said, "Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God."

31 "You believe at last!" Jesus answered. 32 "But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.

33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Here is a section where Jesus literally tells people that he was using figures of speech. When people ask if you should read the Bible literally, I say "Sure." Read it literally where it's meant to be. And places like this, you can rest assured that Jesus literally said these things to his disciples, even if he literally was speaking figuratively.

God definitely has a plan, with all the details spelled out. Sometimes it might seem like He has lost control, especially when things don't go the way that we planned them. But, the end of the book has already been written. Take heart.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Bridge to Terabithia

I took my daughter with a few friends to see Bridge to Terabithia this weekend for her 8th birthday. My wife scheduled the whole thing, bought the tickets and sent me on my way. I was on a 'need to know' basis, and instead of trying to hold all the details in my head all week while I was working, she handed me the tickets, and the car keys, and said, "You and the girls are going to the movie. When you're finished, come home and I'll have the pizza ordered." Sounded like a plan.

All I knew about the movie was what my brain grabbed during the few seconds of the movie trailer I might have seen in the background as the kids were watching America's Funniest Home Videos. I had visions of Narnia and Harry Potter, and filled in the rest of the details with what I expected Disney to do as they cashed in on the current "Turn a kids' book into a blockbuster" craze.

What I got was totally unexpected. Without giving any of the plot details away, this movie packs a wollop about halfway through which was totally unexpected. This movie is not about a fantasy land called Terabithia, but rather about the harsh realities of growing up as the not popular kid in middle school while your parents are too busy dealing with their financial problems to pay any attention to you. The fantasy land was really just a mental escape from the problems that the lead kid was dealing with.

Next we meet the girl who moves in next door. She is an only child with no money problems and quickly becomes friends with the lead boy. As they progress in their friendship, we learn that the Christians (his family) are poor, troubled, defeated, and live as anybody else in the world does with daily problems, while the neo-hippy/artist family (hers) is happy, fulfilled, have loving relationships with each other, and even though there is no influence of Christianity in their lives, they are much better off. (I would argue that even though his family attends church once a week, there is no influence of Christianity there as well.)

This culminates in a conversation between the two after she visits his church one Sunday. Basically, the Christians don't understand Jesus and his atonement on the cross, but are scared to veer from a belief because of a vengeful God. The non-believers, who don't have any need to believe in the Bible, actually find beauty in everything including the Jesus myth. She even goes so far as to say that she can't believe God would damn anybody to hell for simply not believing the Bible, because he is too busy running the world. Even the father couldn't refute this seemingly logical argument.

Sadly, many people sitting in the church have trouble with this argument as well. This stems from a foundational error that basically we are good people, and if anyone is sent to hell, it is because God is sadistic and cruel. The truth is that we are not good by nature. A quick comparison to God's standard, the Ten Commandments will show us that. And, even a look at our conscience, and how we violate our own standard of right and wrong every day should reveal to us that we are not the innocent beings that we imagine ourselves to be.

The truth is also that God is perfect. He is just, righteous and holy. This means that He can't stand sin (transgression of the Law) and is perfectly justified in punishing those who do so. So, whether it is the "guru" who sits on top of a mountain and doesn't harm a fly, or it is Mother Theresa, dedicating her life to "good works" or the pleasant artistic family portrayed in this film, we ALL fall short of the standard God requires. Justice demands that lawbreakers be punished. It is not a good judge who lets criminals go free. And God is a good judge.

The truth is also that even though God is going to pour out His wrath on those who sin, He made provision for all of us to be forgiven. He came down in the person of Jesus Christ, lived a sinless life, died on the cross, atoning for all sin, and rose again on the third day to defeat death once and for all. The Good News is that if we repent of our sins (not just give lip service to God and continue our own path) and place our faith in the Savior, the way we would place our trust in a parachute if we were jumping out of a plane, then God promises we will pass from death to life, be given a new heart with new desires, and will be born again.

So, go see this movie if you want. But be prepared to share the gospel with people after seeing this movie. Well, even if you don't see this movie, you should be prepared to share the gospel.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The basic beliefs of biblical Christianity:

1. The Bible is the sole inspired, infallible, authoritative, and inerrant written Word of God (II Timothy 3:15-17, II Peter 1:21).

2. There is one God, eternally existing in three persons: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:1, Deuteronomy 6:4, Matthew 28:19, John 10:30).

3. Jesus Christ is God in flesh (John 10:33); He was born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23, Luke 1:34-35); He never sinned during his entire life (Hebrews 4:15, 7:26); He performed miracles (John 2:11); He died a vicarious and atoning death (I Corinthians 15:3, Ephesians 1:7, Hebrews 2:9); He came back to life after having been dead (John 11:25, I Corinthians 15:4); He assended bodily to the right hand of the Father (Mark 16:19); He will personally return to earth in power and glory (Acts 1:11, Revelation 19:11-16).

4. It is absolutely necessary to be regenerated by the Holy Spirit for salvation because of the exceeding sinfulness of the human nature. The only way to be justified is on the single ground of faith in the shed blood of Christ. Only by God's grace through faith alone can we be saved (John 3:16-19; 5:24, Romans 3:23; 5:8-9, Ephesians 2:8-10, Titus 3:5).

5. Both those who are saved and those who are unsaved will be resurrected. Those who are saved unto the resurrection of life, and those who are not unto the resurrection of damnation (John 5:28-29).

6. Christians are examples of the love of God in this world. It is this (agape) love that we desire to possess and without it we have no right to call ourselves Christians (I John 4:16-17).

7. It is the mandate of the whole Church to go into the whole world and to preach the Gospel to every living creature (Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:19-20).

If you find yourself disagreeing with one or more of those statements, you need to do a careful examination of what you've been taught.

Please take this seriously. The worst imaginable future awaits those who are genuine and sincere in their beliefs... but who have not repented and placed their faith in the real, historical, Jesus Christ of the Bible. On Judgment day, the Lord Jesus will say to those people the horrifying words, "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" (Matthew 7:23) Will Jesus say that to you?

Friday, March 02, 2007

My Fishing Hole

Living Waters is about to finalize a site where you can find others in your area who regularly share their faith. Check out My Fishing Hole.
You will be able to see my group here in Los Angeles, and even a listing for my church that teaches the Basic Training Course. If you live here, I'd love for you to join us. If you live somewhere else, check it out and find someone in your own area who you can meet up with for some regular fishing.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

QYST - Day 04 - Read Your Bible Daily

“My eyes anticipate the night watches,
That I may meditate on Your word.” PSALM 119:148
This is another little understood principle. If you’re interested in this “deeper” experience with God, then read today’s devotion carefully and see if you meet the criteria for the special blessing God outlines in Psalm 1.

Many years ago, I had a friend named Stan who had a dog named “Circles.” It was so named because it would walk forward two or three steps, and then do a complete circle. Then it would take another two or three steps forward, then another complete circle (it wasn’t a trick, it was just the way the dog got around). As a puppy, it had been locked in a small shed for great lengths of time. It went around in circles seeking a way out, and when it came out, it couldn’t stop.

Many Christians are just like “Circles.” The continue to tread in circles. Each week, they go from the pew to alter to pew to the altar, then back to the pew… wearing out both the pastor and the carpet. If you are like Stan’s dog, pay close attention because I am going to share the biblical key to get you out of the woodshed and onto the straight and narrow path where you are supposed to be walking. Here is the key:
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in His Law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper” (Psalm 1:1-3).
If we fulfill the stated requirements, the Bible promises we will stand tall and strong, like a tree planted by rivers of water. Our roots will grow deep, and we will produce fruit in season—love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Also, whatever we do will prosper—our vocation, our marriage, our evangelistic endeavors.

I have saved myself hours in counseling time, by simply asking the problem laden, defeated, joyless, circular professors of faith one question. This is the question: “Do you read God’s Word every day, without fail?” The usual answer is “sometimes” or “sort of” or “most days.” The truth is they are not continuing in the Word of Christ, they don’t know the truth, and they are not free. They are not meditating on the Word “day and night,” so they are therefore not like a tree planted by water. Their roots are shallow. When the winds of adversity blow, they topple over and need to seek the pastor to prop them up. Neither does their fruit remain. They lose their peace and joy and begin to wither at the first sign of adversity. Whatever they do, does not prosper.

So, for your own sake and for the sake of those around you who are still in their sins, discipline yourself daily to read and meditate on the Word. Put your Bible before your belly. Say to yourself, “No Bible, no breakfast. No read, no feed.” The biblical priority is to put your spirit before your body (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Jesus said that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” When Peter wrote his epistle and said, “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby,” he wasn’t particularly writing to babes in Christ. Newborn babies live to drink, because they drink to live. They have an inbuilt instinct to scream for dear life if they don’t drink. We are commanded to do the same. Job summed up the necessity for feeding on the Word with, “I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12).

Today's devotion was excerpted from How to Win Souls and Influence People, chapter 15, beginning on page 182.