Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…

March to the Cross

If you follow professional football then Peyton Manning is a familiar name. As the current quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts he is know for his ability to call audibles. An audible is a change of the play at the line of scrimmage for another play based on a variety of factors. All that to say that I am calling an audible in our study of doctrine for the next 5 weeks. Already I excited about this series that I plan to title “March to the Cross.” This will cover the doctrines of justification, atonement, regeneration, redemption and resurrection. Martin Luther was quoted as follows “the church stands and falls based on it’s understanding of justification.” If Luther were alive today he would be appalled to see how little the church understands these basics of the Christian faith.

As I have had the privilege to teach God’s word over the years I want to tell you what has been criticized the most. It has been those who equate the learning of Bible doctrine, to a person who is a spiritual egghead who ends up knowing all the facts but does nothing about what he knows. However when one comes to a healthy understanding of the Bible it clearly says learn correctly in order to live correctly.

My point here is don’t discount or underestimate the power of God’s word. We are not people who are worshipping the word but rather we look to Christ in all things through His revealed word. I hope you see the difference. Regardless we are not learning doctrine to be contestants on Bible jeopardy but rather that we may be transformed into the likeness of Christ. In most cases the biggest critics of intense study in Bible doctrine comes from those who have little passion or desire for the word of God. Allow me to challenge you as I was challenged during the early years of Bible study. How can you be close and intimate with Christ if you are not close and intimate with His word? My Bible teacher used to have piercing eyes when he made the following statement and might I add with much passion “you can be no closer to the Lord Jesus Christ that you are to His word!” When ever he would make that statement the room would almost always have an eerie silence. He would not leave it, but would stay there long enough to come eye to eye with what seemed to be every person in the class. Read More...

Review for February 28

If you want to print out the notes from a pdf file then simply click on this LINK

Why the Old Testament

I read a great article today by Iain Campbell on Why the Old Testament? This will help reinforce much of what we talked about at our class retreat earlier this month.

B.B. Warfield famously described the Old Testament as a room “fully furnished but dimly lit.” By that he meant that all the fundamental elements of the gospel were revealed in the Old Testament but awaited the coming of Jesus Christ to bathe that revelation in glorious light. As Jesus walked alongside the Emmaus disciples after the resurrection, He began shining His light on the Scriptures. Who these two were, we do not know; but what they were is evident: “they stood still, looking sad” (Luke 24:17). His diagnosis of their condition was their misinterpretation of the Old Testament and its clear evidence that “the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory” (v. 26).

If you want to read the whole article simply click on this LINK.

Pray for Chili

At 3:34 am local time, today, February 27th, a devastating magnitude 8.8 earthquake struck Chile, one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded. According to Chilean President-elect Sebastian Pinera, at least 120 people are known to have been killed so far. The earthquake also triggered a Tsunami which is right now propagating across the Pacific Ocean, due to arrive in Hawaii in a few hours. The severity of the Tsunami is still not known.

When Jesus says "close your mouth"

Now turn to Mark 8:27-38. Look again and notice what the Lord Jesus says next in Mark 8:30 "He warned them to tell no one about Him." In essence Jesus tells His own disciples to keep their mouths shut. And we ask why? Before we look at the answer I want to show you an important Greek word in verse 30. By the way, this is the strongest Greek word that one can use for a rebuke or an admonishment. So we have Jesus rebuking His disciples and saying they should tell no one. This story is about to get very interesting.

So why does Jesus admonish His disciples and tell them to keep their mouths shut. In verse 21 we read "From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day." Jesus is telling them right now in very clear language, I am the Messiah who has come to inaugurate the "kingdom of God" in the form of a suffering Servant that Isaiah prophesied about in Isaiah 53. I am the fulfillment of the promises in the Old Testament. Therefore as the suffering Servant I must go to Jerusalem and be crucified, dead and buried but on the third day I will rise from the dead.

Isn't this the message of the gospel? If you had one section of Scripture that you could point someone to that best defines or describes the gospel where would you take them? I would suggest 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures."

Now back to our story;
Peter who just a few verses ago gave the correct answer now after hearing Jesus talk about His death, burial and resurrection, takes the living God to the side and REBUKES Him. Can you believe that? Peter in Mark 8:32 uses the same Greek word that Jesus used in Mark 8:30 and Peter admonishes God. Here is the problem with Peter and the disciples, and it is a problem that Jesus knows because He knows their hearts. Peter is saying to Jesus you deserve to have the crown without the cross.
Please don't miss this because this is the exact same strategy that Satan tried to use against Jesus in the wilderness. Satan tempts Jesus with you can have the kingdom right now and there is no need for you to suffer on the cross. Therefore we can understand how when Jesus looks at Peter, He now says "Get from behind Me Satan."
Because Peter is presenting the same strategy and thinking to Jesus that Satan did in the wilderness. This is deadly because it becomes a man-centered theology and not a God-centered theology.

The Buzz

This is new addition to our website which I am going to name “The Buzz.” It will make sense when you put together my favorite team which is Georgia Tech and their mascot whose name is Buzz. Also my nickname is Pastor B. and what does a Bee do, it does a buzz. Even though that is a terrible sentence hopefully this will be a way for those new or even the veterans of our class to stay informed.

There will be a variety of subjects covered. In future broadcasts I want to field questions that are on the mind of those attending our class. It has been a privilege to teach and dialogue with people during the week and after class about these great doctrines of the Bible. I will also give opinions and talk about some of the current issues that are happening today within the evangelical church. For example a number of people have talked to me about the “Emergent church” movement in recent weeks. Yes, it is real and dangerous but those are the kind of things I hope to address in “The Buzz.”

The goal also will be to have interviews from time to time with other pastor, teachers and theologians in order to and get their insights on any number of interesting topics. So I suggest that when you have time, put on your bunny slippers, grab a hot chocolate, coffee or beverage of choice and have a listen. So without further ado welcome to “the Buzz.”

The sovereignty of God over all things

We are studying during the 2010 year the doctrine of God. As we progress eventually we come to the sovereignty of God.
This has been a much debated doctrine over the history of the church. But many times what ensues when calamity or adversity happens in life are the questions such as “Why me, Why This, Why now?” This is a repost from Justin Taylor’s excellent blog site.

[God] comes for you, in the flesh, in Christ, into suffering, on your behalf. He does not offer advice and perspective from afar; he steps into your significant suffering. He will see you through, and work with you the whole way. He will carry you even in extremis. This reality changes the questions that rise up from your heart. That inward-turning “why me?” quiets down, lifts its eyes, and begins to look around.You turn outward and new, wonderful questions form.

Why you?

Why you?

Why would you enter this world of evils?

Why would you go through loss, weakness, hardship, sorrow, and death?

Why would you do this for me, of all people?

But you did.

You did this for the joy set before you.

You did this for love.

You did this showing the glory of God in the face of Christ.

As that deeper question sinks home, you become joyously sane. The universe is no longer supremely about you. Yet you are not irrelevant. God’s story makes you just the right size. Everything counts, but the scale changes to something that makes much more sense. You face hard things. But you have already received something better which can never be taken away. And that better something will continue to work out the whole journey long.

The question generates a heartfelt response:

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget any of his benefits, who pardons all your iniquities and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion, who satisfies your years with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

Thank you, my Father. You are able to give true voice to a thank you amid all that is truly wrong, both the sins and the sufferings that now have come under lovingkindness.

Finally, you are prepared to pose—and to mean—almost unimaginable questions:

God's calling, our work and His glory

In this short video clip Dr. Michael Horton talks about God’s calling in our work.

Bible reading in Lamentations

Today the book of Lamentations. Whenever we get to the point of laying the foundation of doctrine and progressive line of redemption from Genesis to Revelation then we will be ready to study a book. Again my training was to go from the big picture and then travel to chapter, paragraphs, sentences and finally words. But always the first order of business involves things like date, theme and background. This is where critical and reference commentaries are very helpful to the study process. I will make suggestions on these things later but an excellent online resource is the ESV which I am using for the information below.

Lamentations describes the results of Babylon's destruction of Jerusalem in 587 b.c. in vivid (though stylized) detail. The book has the flavor of personal experience and eyewitness testimony, particularly in the descriptions of death and starvation in 4:1–22. Though it is possible that a long time passed between the destruction and the book's composition, there is no compelling reason to accept this conclusion. Since temple worship had begun again by 520–516 b.c. (during the time of Haggai and Zechariah), it is likely that the mourning for the city and temple had reached its height before then. The date of the writing of Lamentations probably falls between 587 and 516 b.c., with a time earlier in the era being more likely.

The key passage in Lamentations is 3:19–24, where the speaker affirms that belief in God's mercy and faithfulness is the key to a restored relationship with God. This fact is true even for people who have merited and received God's judgment (1:18). Hope, not despair, is the final word in Lamentations.

This theme becomes clear as the book unfolds. Lamentations presents five intricately interconnected poems. Together they describe a movement from horrible loss and personal shame, to restored hope and prayer for renewal.

Purpose, Occasion and Background
Lamentations was most likely written to be prayed or sung in worship services devoted to asking God's forgiveness and seeking restoration to a covenant relationship with God. Such observances began as early as the months after the temple's destruction in 587 b.c. (Jer. 41:4–5). They continued when the temple was rebuilt during Zechariah's time (c. 520 b.c.; see Zech. 7:3–5; 8:19). As time passed, Lamentations was read and sung as part of annual observances related to remembering the temple's destruction.

After this information is assimilated now start to think where Lamentations is on the overall Bible grid that we have laid out in the men's study. Well, it falls from Exodus to Malachi which means it must in some manner be a pre-figurement. So how does Lamentations prefigure what we see in the New Testament? It seems to have a significant pre-figurement as it points to the ultimate judgment that we see in the book of Revelation. But also points to how God is going to restore His promised seed into the kingdom.

Intersect lunch

This past Sunday our class had lunch with the Intersect community. The turnout was great and we had plenty of food and wonderful fellowship. Here are a few pictures from the lunch.

Quote for the day

If you don’t know who Ray Orlund is then you need to get to know this pastor. The name of his blog; Christ is deeper still is well worth checking out. He provides this very thought provoking quote regarding “the church as bubble.”

“A church is a delicate thing, like a bubble, easily burst. Inside that bubble is a safety zone of immense significance for people. Inside that bubble sinners can receive grace according to the biblical gospel. They can start seeing God in a new way, they can see themselves in a new way, they can grow and change and enjoy the adventure.

The deal-breaker inside that bubble is not personal sins. They don’t have to burst the bubble. The deal-breaker, such that a pastor and elders must intervene, is making the internal dynamics of a church indistinguishable from the surrounding worldly environment of blame-shifting — what we see constantly in political discourse, for example. The thin film of differentiation, our true “separation” from the world, is the gospel of grace in both our theology and our sociology.

A wonderful place to be, a precious treasure to guard, and, for all its weakness, a mighty force for good.”

What story are you telling?

When I first started to study “hermeneutics” which is a system of how to the Bible, my teacher had this quip in the notes. Church history must always be remembered as “HIS STORY.” I never forgot that quotation and oh how true that is for us in the 21st Century Church. Yes, I have a story and you have a story it is wonderful, specific and God ordained. But in the greater picture which is most important my story or His story. Does God become the actor in my drama or am I the actor in His drama? Sometimes when we get our theology upside down then we end up working on the wrong end of the problem.
The story I need to learn and be able to tell is the story that happen 2000 years ago at the cross. The outworking of that story will determine a person’s eternal destiny, which is either heaven or hell.

In this audio clip the White Horse Inn interviews some folks at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention about the importance of their story or the gospel story. I think you are going to find this quite interesting. Click on this LINK.

The tabernacle in Exodus

During this past week our Bible reading has also taken us to Exodus 37-40. At the conclusion of Exodus 40 we read the following; 34 Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35 Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

It is helpful while you read through historical narrative to keep a Bible atlas handy for good maps and pictures of things like the Tabernacle.

Click on picture to see larger view

Reading through the book of Proverbs

We are presently reading through the book of Proverbs on Thursday. My Bible training always seems to take me from the big overall picture down to the small where one can examine the details. For those of you that want to look at a good overall review of how to read Proverbs I have included this LINK from Christian Focus. In this particular article I have attached some of the visual charts that are included in the Adobe download.

Also when reading through Proverbs:
1. Watch for parallelism - Ask; how does the second line of the proverb explain, illustrate or elaborate on the first line
2. Watch for the two ways to live (check out the charts) - Ask; how does this proverb show us the right way or warn us against the wrong way?
3. Watch for Jesus Christ - Ask; How is Jesus the fulfillment of wisdom in this proverb?

This comes from C.J. Mahaney at Sovereign Grace Ministries. Should you want to see the entire article then click on this LINK.

Doctrine and Discipleship

When we talk about doctrine, a very basic definition is what the whole Bible has to say about a certain topic or subject. And when we discuss the word discipleship we are talking about being a learner of Jesus. In our learning Bible doctrine we are learning about Jesus and therefore doctrine is a critical part of the discipleship process. Keep in mind it is NOT the only thing but hear me clearly, it today is the most neglected part of discipleship. I will continue to say the big problem in our Christian living today is that we have the imperatives ahead of the indicatives. (Deeds not Creeds) If you are new to our class and this blog and have no idea what that statement means then click on this LINK. We get it wrong when we make discipleship about what we do instead about what Jesus has already done.

Here is a short clip from Pastor Ken Jones on discipleship. Click on this LINK.

Isaiah 44:12-17 in today's culture

Last Sunday I started out with the following question; “What is the chief end of man?”
The answer to this first question of the Westminster catechism is “to glorify God and enjoy HIm forever.”

Well, that begs the next question which is “how” are we to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
And before I gave the answer, my goal was to show the problem in order that we will appreciate more the solution.

To review last week’s power point, click on this LINK.

Therefore I read from Isaiah 44:12-17
Is. 44:12 ¶ The man shapes iron into a cutting tool and does his work over the coals, fashioning it with hammers and working it with his strong arm. He also gets hungry and his strength fails; he drinks no water and becomes weary.
Is. 44:13 Another shapes wood, he extends a measuring line; he outlines it with red chalk. He works it with planes and outlines it with a compass, and makes it like the form of a man, like the beauty of man, so that it may sit in a house.
Is. 44:14 Surely he cuts cedars for himself, and takes a cypress or an oak and raises it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a fir, and the rain makes it grow.
Is. 44:15 Then it becomes something for a man to burn, so he takes one of them and warms himself; he also makes a fire to bake bread. He also makes a god and worships it; he makes it a graven image and falls down before it.
Is. 44:16 Half of it he burns in the fire; over this half he eats meat as he roasts a roast and is satisfied. He also warms himself and says, “Aha! I am warm, I have seen the fire.”
Is. 44:17 But the rest of it he makes into a god, his graven image. He falls down before it and worships; he also prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god.”

This morning while perusing through some of my favorite blogs I stumbled onto this video at the Resurgence Blog specifically entitled Isaiah 44.

It is less than 5 minutes but has a powerful message especially for those of us in this American culture. Simply click on this LINK.

By the way the answer is through “The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him.”

Back from Russia

On Sunday Tim Wishon (group leader), along with Jay Hancock, Jeff Gaskin, and John Lewis returned from a missions trip to Russia. Jeff and Marie Gaskin are members of our SS community. Below is a picture of Jay Hancock on the right and Jeff on the left as they lead the singing in a Russian school.

Also Jeff came to the Men’s Bible Study last night and gave a brief testimony regarding the missions trip.

To hear about Jeff’s trip simply click on this LINK.

Welcome back to Tim, Jay, Jeff and John and may the seeds that were sown grow 30, 60 and 100 fold to the glory of God!

Quote for the day

“You see, the secret of the gospel is that we become more spiritually mature when we focus less on what we need to do for God and focus more on all that God has already done for us. The irony of the gospel is that we actually perform better as we grow in our understanding that our relationship with God is based on Christ’s performance for us, not our performance for him.” - Tullian Tchividjian

Happy Beyond Description

This from the Christ is Deeper Still blog;

In 1851 a group of British missionaries to Tierra del Fuego was forced to winter in the bitter cold while they waited for their supply ship to arrive. It came too late. They all died of cold and starvation. On Good Friday, April 18th, Richard Williams, a surgeon and Methodist lay preacher, wrote in his journal, “Poor and weak though we are, our abode is a very Bethel to our souls [Genesis 28:10-19], and God we feel and know is here.” On Wednesday, May 7th, he wrote, “Should anything prevent my ever adding to this, let all my beloved ones at home rest assured that I was happy beyond description when I wrote these lines and would not have changed situations with any man living.”

“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” John 14:23

A litmus test for church health

Over the past 2-3 years I have been able to research a broad spectrum of evangelical websites. This is from those that are considered orthodox (the Bible is the word of God) to neo orthodox (the Bible becomes the word of God). Obviously Carmel and I fit into the first category. There is a website that I want to familiarize some of you who are regulars to this blog site. The site is called 9 Marks Ministries. I have listed the 9 marks they consider to be a litmus test for healthy churches. While they mention the nine marks as an overall guide, they are quick to point out these are not the only important marks of a healthy church. However they do believe they are the most neglected.

As a point of interest one of the key leaders at this site is Mark Dever who is the author of “The Gospel and Personal Evangelism” which was one of our give a way books for the May 2009 retreat.

1. Expositional Preaching

Expositional preaching (otherwise known as expository preaching) is the investigation of a particular passage of Scripture whereby the pastor carefully explains the meaning of a passage and then applies it to the members of the congregation. The point of a sermon, then, takes the point of a particular passage. This is in opposition to the topical preaching showcased in the majority of evangelical churches, where Bible passages are woven together to support a pre-existing point.

2. Biblical Theology

This emphasizes not only how we are taught but also what we are taught. In a sense this should follow naturally from expository preaching because the careful exposition of a passage should lead to sound theology. The majority of poor theology arises from a lack of careful Biblical exposition. Where there is poor exposition, we should expect to eventually find poor theology.

3. Biblical Understanding of the Good News

There needs to be a proper understanding and necessary emphasis on the full gospel. Where many contemporary churches teach that Jesus wants to meet our felt needs and give us a healthier self-image, that is not the gospel. The gospel message is that we are sinners who have rebelled against our Creator. But Jesus took the curse that was rightfully ours and all that remains is for us to have faith in Him so God may credit Christ’s righteousness to our account. When we de-emphasize sin and damnation to make the presentation more friendly and less offensive we cease declaring the full gospel.

New member to L&L Community

Just for information L and L stands for “Learning and Living.” This has been a wonderful time of ministry at Carmel. I have been privileged to have discussions ranging from the sovereignty of God in election, to the return of Christ and yes even to those who become members of our class. At one time I think Pat was going to have a class constitution to set forth all the principles, guidelines and long term vision. In talking with Pat it has become clear that one of our ministry commitments is to “chowing down” or eating. As we demonstrated last week with the pasta buffet.

So even though this is not a corporate decision from the leadership, we are leaning toward a class policy of eating in order to join this community. Ironically I was contacted by someone who has heard of our class and sent a video even prior to even coming to our class.
I thought the best thing to do is simply post the video and then have a poll question. And please if you are not a member of our community don’t vote. The vote is open to those who presently reside on the class roll.

Based on the following video, simply CLINK ON THIS LINK, does this participant qualify to become member of our class, please keep the context mentioned above in mind before you cast this all important vote.

PS - This is an actual video sent to me from a couple in our class and if you can guess who then bonus points are available and will be added to your next test.

Is a Christ-follower a Christian?

Chris Rosebrough has come to a definition of a Christ-follower from listening to sermons from the largest seeker-friendly churches throughout America. To be fair Chris has his degree in Biblical languages and is an excellent apologist. Here is the definition he has come to for a Christ follower; someone who has made the decision to be an emotionally well adjusted self-actualized risk taking leader who knows his purpose, lives a 'no regrets' life of significance, has overcome his fears, enjoys a healthy marriage with better than average sex, is an attentive parent, is celebrating recovery from all his hurts, habits and hang ups, practices Biblical stress relief techniques, is financially free from consumer debt, fosters emotionally healthy relationships with his peers, attends a weekly life group, volunteers regularly at church, tithes off the gross and has taken at least one humanitarian aid trip to a third world nation.

Based upon this summarized definition, I've come to the conclusion that the world is full of people who can fit this definition but who've never repented of their sins and trusted in Christ alone for the forgiveness of their sins. This definition could easily apply to Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. In fact, it could apply to Emergent Heretics, Unitarians, Muslims and practicing Jews. The reason why this definition of a Christ Follower could be applied to those outside of Christianity is because this is a definition based upon deeds NOT creeds.

To read the entire article you can simply click on this LINK.

Quote for the day

“When I say that God is the Gospel I mean that the highest, best, final, decisive good of the gospel, without which no other gifts would be good, is the glory of God in the face of Christ revealed for our everlasting enjoyment. The saving love of God is God’s commitment to do everything necessary to enthrall us with what is most deeply and durably satisfying, namely himself. Since we are sinners and have no right and no desire to be enthralled with God, therefore God’s love enacted a plan of redemption to provide that right and that desire. The supreme demonstration of God’s love was the sending of his Son to die for our sins and to rise again so that sinners might have the right to approach God and might have the pleasure of his presence forever.”

- John Piper, God is the Gospel (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2005), 13-14.

The book of Job

If you are reading with us through the 52 week Bible plan then you know we recently completed the book of Job. Here is a helpful post from Ray Ortlund concerning this book in the Bible that has as its major theme suffering.

I used to think the book of Job is in the Bible because it presents a rare and extreme case of human suffering. “Look at this worst case scenario. If you can see the truth here, then surely in your comparatively small problems . . . .”

Now I think the book of Job is in the Bible because the story is so common. Many are thinking, “What on earth has happened to me? I can’t see what I’ve done that explains this devastation. Where is God in this?”

Enter Job’s three friends. They were cautious at first. But with their tidy notions threatened by his untidy realities, the moralism started pouring out of them: “Come on, Job, get real with us. You must have some dirty secret that explains all this. Admit it, and this misery will start going away.” Their finger-pointing oversimplifications intensified Job’s sufferings, and this too is a common experience.

I don’t think the book of Job is about suffering as a theoretical problem — why do the righteous suffer? I think it’s about suffering as a practical problem — when (not if) the righteous suffer, what does God expect of them? And what he expects is trust. When the righteous cannot connect the realities of their experience with the truths of God, then God is calling them to trust him that there is more to it than they can see. As with Job, there is a battle being fought in the heavenlies.

Trust in God, not explanations from God, is the pathway through suffering.

You are here

Upon arrival at the local mall you see the sign that points to the location and reads “you are here.” I want to be sure that each person in our community knows exactly where we are right now. We are studying the “doctrine of God.” Even though that may be obvious there area couple of reasons for my explanation.

First of all we are looking at the vertical relationship between God and man. As in the lesson this morning there is a vital connection between the glory of God and the knowledge of God. The Christian life is composed of not only a vertical relationship but also a horizontal relationship. Please don’t think I am minimizing or ignoring the horizontal aspects of evangelism or Christian service. As a matter of fact the doctrine of the self sufficiency of God forced us to look at “how” we are serving God. But right now in 2010 we are concentrating on the attributes of God, which brings us to a focus on the vertical NOT the horizontal part of the Christian life. Read More...

Review for February 21

If you want to print out the notes from a pdf file then simply click on this LINK

If you want to listen to the audio that is part of page 4 (the glory of God) then click on this LINK

Reach new heights reading through the Bible this year!

We are on week #22 of our Bible reading plan for the year. If you haven’t started yet then
grab your Bible and allow the Spirit to show the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ!
It’s the greatest view in all the world.

Where is the gospel?

What should those in the church have a regular diet of on a weekly basis? What are people actually hearing within the evangelical church in America? We see more and more that people want to feel good and be motivated so they can leave church feeling upbeat and positive. However when is the last time we have considered death, hell, wrath, judgment and condemnation. Let’s make no mistake it is the gospel saves us from the wrath of God. However today there is a style of preaching that is providing those in the congregation with a “Christless Christianity.”

Listen to this short audio clip from Dr. Michael Horton. Click on this LINK.

In addition, Dr. Michael Horton gives some interesting statistics in the American church. Click on this LINK.

Have you had your Wordle today?

Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like

Can you guess the verses show above in the Wordle? To find the answer simply click on the picture.

If you would like to see the class mission statement in Wordle form click on this LINK

Spiritual Maturity

This from the blog site of Justin Taylor
Wise counsel from Millard Erickson:

Most persons in ministry will be called on to interpret the message at a level about one step below where they are personally;

They should also try to study some theology at least one step above their position in order to remain intellectually alive and growing. —Christian Theology, p. 80

Coming this Sunday "The immutability of God"

This Sunday we move to our next subject in our study of the doctrine of God. When is the last time you had some Christian friends over to dinner and then took time to discuss the immutability of God? Well, if it has been awhile this could be just the refresher we need to look at this all important doctrine.

If you would like a PREVIEW for Sunday on the “Immutability of God” then simply click on this LINK.


Listed below are the weekly homework assignments. This is from a post earlier this year but is a good review to keep in mind as we continue in 2010.

Assignment #1 - Read through the entire Bible.
We are presently reading through a 52 week Bible reading plan that gives a specific section of Bible reading on a daily basis.
So for the person that wants to know, what is the homework for the day, I first want to point them to Bible reading plan. Recent church statistics show that over 90% of those within the church have not read through the Bible at least one time. It is harder to teach when there is not an understanding of the Scriptures as a whole. One of the key components the church is missing today in Bible study is being able to see the big picture connection from Genesis to Revelation. In the first month of our class we covered many different aspects of the Bible. One morning I asked the class, "who is the author of Genesis?" Someone spoke up and said "Moses" to which I replied "that is correct."
Then I repeated the question a different way and asked "who is the real Author of Genesis?" At that point someone else spoke up and said "the Holy Spirit" to which I replied "that is correct." So even though the Bible is composed of 66 books with over 40 different authors, there is one mind and one Author that is connecting it all together.
Therefore we should ask questions and know things like; how is Genesis connected to Revelation, Job to Romans, 1 Samuel to Luke? Getting the overall big picture of the Bible is like putting together a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. We have all learned that the best way to put together this kind of puzzle in to find all the border pieces first. But not only that, we need to have a picture of the box top. By reading the Bible over and over you are getting the picture of the box top and as you learn Bible doctrine that starts to set the border pieces in place. Over the years I have found many in the church don't understand the following two big picture items in regard to the Bible;

1. What is the overall theme of the entire Bible?
2. What is the overall organizing plan that God has set out from Genesis to Revelation?

Again as in the illustration of the jigsaw puzzle these two items above are like the box top. As you read and re-read the Bible you will start to develop a solid understanding as to the unity of the Scriptures. I am a proponent of exegetical Bible study in which you study individual books of the Bible. But I have found it most helpful instead of picking up a piece of the puzzle and observing it and studying each of the aspects of the puzzle piece, we need to have a good picture of the box top that we study first. Read More...

Quote for the day

I have made a covenant with God that He sends me neither visions, dreams nor even angels. I am well satisfied with the gift of the Holy Scriptures which give me abundant instruction and all that I need to know both for this life and for that which is to come. - Martin Luther

The beginning of wisdom...

When I am doing a devotion and meditating on a verse or a word, normally I will look these up in other translations. This morning I was looking at Proverbs 7:1a. Which of course means the first half of the verse. Here we are in the book of Proverbs which is a collection of Hebrew idioms from King Solomon, that focus on wisdom and knowledge. Notice in the very first Proverb we learn priority number 1 when coming into our study of God. In our initial lesson on the doctrine of God I brought out two terms that we need to learn;

Transcendence means that God is far "above" the creation in the sense that He is greater than the creation and is independent of it.

Immanence means His nearness, kind, caring, protection and being close to us

So in studying the doctrine of God we always start with the transcendence of God first and then move to the immanence of God next. One of the verses I would use to support this is Proverbs 7:1a. Therefore would it make sense that the church in all that it says and does have an emphasis or a priority on this also? I fear we have made Jesus such a friend, buddy and homeboy (t-shirts) that there is little if any fear, which could be translated as worshipful reverence. Imagine for a minute as a priest and for the first time walking into the temple and then having the privilege of walking into the holy of holies. It wasn't to be done in a casual or a flippant type of way but with great fear and awe.

Well let's go back to the verse, the starting point of knowing this God of the Bible is a healthy fear which means we must study in depth these transcendent attributes.

7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools [a] despise wisdom and discipline.

Amplified Bible (AMP)
7 The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning and the principal and choice part of knowledge [its starting point and its essence]; but fools despise skillful and godly Wisdom, instruction, and discipline.(A)

7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

7 Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

In this particular case I like what the Amplified brought as to a good understanding of what it means to fear the LORD.

The Retreat Bus Trip

Rumors are starting that Pat Jones may have a reality TV series call “Bus Trip.” This is one of the pictures we missed from the Retreat Story that we told last week in Sunday School via photos and video.

Devotion in Psalm 63

When you get time read and meditate on the first 5 verses from Psalm 63. Now the questions for our consideration;
  • Is the church today producing this kind of Christian?
  • Are these the youth that are coming from youth ministries all across the country? I
  • Is this the crazed radical for Jesus or should this be the normal Christian life?
  • Have we so minimized God's word that to emphasize these verses as typical would make most people really uncomfortable?
  • When you read these verses do any other Bible verses come to mind?

How about for starters the following;
Psalm 42:1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God.
John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.
Philippians 3:7-8 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,

If we were to look into the calendars and check books of those right in our midst at Carmel what might we find? Would the calendar and the money point to a seeking, thirst and yearning for Christ? For most Americans you can summarize what they treasure by observing how they invest time, money and energy. And do you remember what Jesus said in Matt. 6:21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Unfortunately today in many cases the affections and attractions of the people are in their jobs, homes, lifestyles, children, social activities or recreation. Christ no longer is the center piece but an add on after everything else gets tended to and done.

How do we fix this problem? Answer - we can't but God can. But how? By encouraging those in our sphere of influence to cry out, appeal, beg, shout, pray that God would extend a measure of faith so that we might seek, thirst and yearn for Him and His word above all else. I desperately want to be a Psalm 63:1-5 type of Christian. There are so many distractions, temptations and influences that pull away from what God wants for me and move me toward what I want for myself.

Can you believe this?

The other night the leadership team met at Jack and Jeanette Bickett’s home. In this picture I am handing a flower to Nancy while announcing “that she is the rose of my life.” It was a special moment and one that I will always treasure. Then I receive the actual photo of the moment.

So help me out by answering this poll; simply click on this LINK

The unity of Scripture

In our men’s Bible study the main focus right now is looking at the unity of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. How can you understand where to place the pieces in the puzzle if you don’t have a good picture of the puzzle? I continue to be amazed at the amount of Bible study that is taught without referral to the foundational pieces of Bible doctrine and Biblical theology. As I said at our retreat Bible doctrine is like the border of the jigsaw puzzle whereas understanding the progressive redemption of mankind by God is the box top. Also I gave away the following books to help us grasp these basics as we continue to read, study and have devotions in God’s word. The books I suggest to start with are:
  • “According to the Plan” by Graeme Goldsworthy
  • “God’s Big Picture” by Vaugh Roberts
  • “The Goldsworthy Trilogy” by Graeme Goldsworthy

When one learns the basics it prepares the way to have rich study with individual books of the Bible. The other day while perusing some of my favorite theological sites I came upon this sound clip. The gentlemen speaking is Dr. Michael Horton, professor at Westminster Seminary which is in California. But what grabbed my attention was the foundational groundwork he laid prior to the study of Galatians. This should be exciting for those who are regulars to this blog site, or especially for those who attended the retreat. Listen carefully to how Dr. Horton ties together a rich understanding of the entire Bible before launching into the study of a book within the Bible. This is in hermeneutics the “unity of Scripture” is so important. Because this is where we take the whole and then start to understand each of the pieces that make it up.

To hear this sound clip simply click on this LINK.

When ignorance IS NOT bliss

The White Horse Inn recently celebrated there 20 year anniversary on the radio. The tag line for the show is simply this”know what you believe and why you believe it.” They do a great job in talking about the basics of the Christian faith especially as it comes to the understanding of Bible doctrine. In the last 30 years there has been a purposeful dumbing down of the gospel. It has been said by some of the largest and most popular growing churches in America that people need to “TRY IT” before they “BUY IT.” So the marketing of Christ starts from the church that brings in the clowns and three ring circus, all the way to the pastor who shows up in a polo shirt and Bermuda shorts. It becomes all about stories, illustrations and feel good in order that those in attendance can learn how to live their best life now.

However in previous years there was a reverence and real commitment to God’s word and these basic foundational doctrines. I am including a 21st century clip from a Christian booksellers convention in which those there were asked to give a definition of justification. If you want to know how important the church has considered this doctrine to be over the years then listen to the words of Martin Luther. “The church will either stand or fall based on it’s understanding of justification.”

So with this in mind listen to this interview with fellow Christians as they attempt to define justification.
Click on this LINK.

Men's Bible Study

We meet tomorrow night at Pat's house, 7 PM which is session #2 for our men's Bible study. The goal this year is to study and understand the plot line of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. It should become obvious in this study, that without a sound Biblical grid our interpretation will be incorrect. Again, the study of Scripture first begins with understanding how the parts all relate to the whole.

Last week you were given a grid that in the unfolding and progressive redemption of mankind by God. I suggest that you memorize this grid in order to understand how our study will progress. On Tuesday night I will do my best to summarize the entire grid and answer any questions. As we continue in 2010 one of the exciting benefits will be to connect the dots as you read through the Bible. As I said on Sunday there are two important basic foundations that each Christian needs in "how to study the Bible." One is the understanding of the 8 essential doctrines in the Bible, and the second is the progressive redemption of mankind, starting in Genesis and going through Revelation. As the weeks progress we will breakdown the different sections of Scripture, starting with Adam and Eve, then Abraham, followed by Moses, then King David, the prophets and finally Jesus Christ. If you have never totally seen how all this goes together or even better yet if you can't explain it, then come on Tuesday as we learn "how to study the Bible."

Hope to see you tomorrow night at Pat's house - blessings,

Bible Doctrine is not fast food

When learning Bible doctrine you can go too fast but you can never go too slow. Therefore I am committed as we go through the doctrine of God to have us marinade in each of these areas. The teaching of doctrine should be very practical to all who are participating in our class. Each week, as we read through the Bible, there are opportunities to recognize and meditate on the very doctrines that we are studying. Our tendency will be to hear the truth and then want to immediately move to another truth. And that is the very reason I have been so insistent on the three following things in regard to our study:

  • Be able to define the doctrine
  • Be able to give an illustration where applicable
  • Be able to support the definition with Scripture

My former Bible teacher drilled this statement in my head “Bert if you can’t explain it or articulate it then you simply don’t know it yet.” He would go on to say you may have heard it and recognize it, but the principle or truth is still just rolling around inside your head. There were many times he would put me on the spot to explain something and instead I sounded like Porky Pig. But I am thankful that he continued to exhort me to study and remain consistent in the study of God’s word. He would say you need to approach this like a marathon and not a sprint.

Also let me encourage you to study these doctrines 15 minutes for 5 days instead of 1-2 hours one day during the week. Trust me, these are truths that the brain needs to assimilate in small doses over long periods of time. The reason I so love the retreat format is because you can cover large amounts of foundational Bible truth. And then throughout the year break down into small bite sized study increments. Presently I am working with two primary Bible foundations. The class on Sunday is dedicated to Bible doctrine. In this type of study we looking specifically at the doctrine of God’s word, God Himself, Man, Christ, Spirit and finally the doctrine of salvation. Think of this kind of Bible study in terms of a circle. Read More...

Review for February 14

Today we finished the self-sufficiency of God with a focus on application. I want to encourage you to study the notes regarding self-sufficiency of God. Don’t allow what has been planted to shrivel and go away. Be very conscious of this doctrine when you are reading through the Bible. Take the time to write this in the margin of your Bible when you come to verses that confirm it. We have simply scratched the surface in our look at Psalm 50, Isaiah 40:12-17, and Acts 17:24-25. Now that we have invested time learning the doctrine now let’s move to the living.

If you are a regular to this part of our website then be on the lookout for next week’s lesson. We are going to be talking about the immutability of God. Again this is a very critical doctrine to understand as we are knowing God by knowing His word.

If you want to print out the notes from a pdf file then simply click on this LINK

Quote for the day

The good news of God’s grace beautifies how we treat one another. In fact, the horizontal reveals the vertical. How we treat one another reveals what we really believe as opposed to what we think we believe. It is possible to say, “We are a gospel-centered church,” and sincerely mean it, while we make our church into a law-centered social environment. We see God above lowering his gun, and we breathe a sigh of relief. But if we are trigger-happy toward one another, we don’t really get it yet. - Ray Ortlund

Coming this Sunday

For the notes from Sunday’s class simply click on this LINK

Seeker-Friendly means...

During our retreat last weekend I was asked a number of questions regarding the “Emergent” Church. So I thought it might be helpful to give definitions to many of the current church styles and methodologies with the evangelical church. The first one we will look at is “Seeker-Friendly.” And for that description I will refer you to an article from the Parchment and Pen Blog Site.

Seeker-Friendly normally refers to the method of conducting a Sunday morning church service where all the events surrounding the service are tailored with the unchurched in mind. The goal of this model is to attempt to make the “seeker” feel comfortable by making the service understandable and enjoyable.

In this sense, the church is attempting to build a bridge with the unbeliever with the ultimate goal that they will hear the Gospel and be saved. The preaching model in the seeker churches follows suit. Every sermon is simply another way to present the Gospel. Deeper learning, fellowship, and discipleship are encouraged but are not normally part of the Sunday service. They are commonly found in mid-week small groups and studies.

Opponents of the seeker model will argue that the Sunday service is not meant to be for the unbelievers, but for believers. There is a wide range within the spectrum of how seeker-sensitive a church might be. One end might be thought of as “seeker-friendly” and the other “seeker-driven.” Rick Warren and Bill Hybels are often thought of as the modern day “fathers” of this model. It is primarily found in evangelical churches.

It may be better to define with a short video, just click on this LINK

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Nancy and I went out to eat and came back in 2-3 inches of snow. So I came in grabbed the camera and started to take some photos. To see the photos simply click on this LINK.

Reality Sunday School

OK, though Pat and I work very closely together we still have our moments. Several months ago I sent Pat some emails that were intense but in a good sort of way. So I thought you might enjoy a look behind the scenes, at the way we tend to work out any differences that come up from week to week. The first part is Pat’s call to me and the second part gives my response to Pat.

So if you want to hear Pat’s nurturing voice mail and see my wise response then simply click on this LINK.

Reflections from Retreat 2010

The dinner from which our class had it's earliest beginnings was in May 2008. During the subsequent months I talked to Pat about a plan of having class retreats away at least once a year. We now stand on the backside of two retreats, May 2009 and February 2010. As a teacher it seems that God has called me to a ministry of exhorting and admonishing people back to the Bible. If you talked to someone 12 years ago that first heard me teach or someone that heard me within the last month it has been the same. We need to get back into God's word so that God's word can get back into us! For we as His people can be no closer to Christ than we are to His word.

My evaluation as I look upon what God is specifically doing with our group is this; allow me to again us the illustration of a jigsaw puzzle. There are two essentials you need when putting together a massive jigsaw puzzle. One thing you need is the border and the other thing you need is the box top so you can see the big picture. In the last two retreats God has provided first the border as we examined the doctrine of the gospel. And this year the box top as we looked at the big picture from Genesis to Revelation. Unfortunately, and I said this to those at the retreat, we have treated the Bible in many cases like one of the jigsaw pieces in the box. We grab up a piece and start to examine it but have no idea how it fits into the big overall picture. The subject this year was "end times, Genesis to Revelation." And my point is simple but important to understand, without an overall grid to lay down from Genesis to Revelation then there is no way to understand end times from the Bible.

Therefore we looked specifically at the organizing plan of the Bible which is "the unfolding and progressive redemption of mankind by God." Also you may remember that I talked about Bible doctrine, which we are studying on Sunday's being similar to a circle and progressive redemption from Genesis to Revelation being similar to a line. So in two retreats we have the basic foundational components that make up the border and box top of the Bible. There is much more to study in regard to each of these but at least we have started to lay the ground work. Read More...

Behind the Scenes

This is a special note of thanks to DAN MILLER and DON LANE. Both of these brothers went over and beyond this weekend, as Dan handled the sound board and recording, while Don captured the retreat on video. We are forming a team that has as its main mission to proclaim the greatness of Christ! Dan and Don are examples of the kind of ministry that goes on behind the scenes and I very much appreciate all they do. It is the very reason that we read in 1 Corinthians 12 that each part of the body is critical for the overall good of the body. I personally had the opportunity to spend time with Dan and Don at separate times going from Charlotte to and back from Asheville. In those car rides it was wonderful to hear both of these men express their love and passion for Christ. Again I want to thank them for serving us in this way during our Retreat 2010 weekend.

Quote for the day

I would suggest that listening to mainstream radio with your guard up and your worldview filter on is safer than listening to Christian radio with your guard down. Subtle, bad theology is more dangerous to unsuspecting Christians than is blatant bad theology. - from blog site Christians in Context

Final thoughts regarding Job

This morning we come to the end of Job. After 42 chapters all that has happened to Job, the wrestling and questioning, along with the bad theological advice from his three friend, what does Job conclude? Read carefully verse 2 and then think of an adjective that best describes God from this verse. Job 42:2 "I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted." The best adjective to describe God from this verse seems to be sovereignty.

The sovereignty of God means;

* Ruling
* Reigning
* Ownership

It brings together the attributes as these are the things that make Him sovereign. God is good, wise, holy and these things come to bear as He rules, leads and governs.

Definition: God plans and carries out His perfect will as He alone knows is best, over all that is in heaven and earth, and He does so without failure or defeat.

Sovereignty is a statement about God’s CONTROL over all things in His PLAN and His EXECUTING that plan.
How wide? - over all heaven and earth
How successful is God in this plan? - without failure or defeat

So the natural question for us to ask especially from our reading of Job 42:2 would be, what is God's ultimate purpose? The answer to this question is located all through the Bible. But let me take you to one book of the Bible where that answer is found three times within 14 verses. Turn to Ephesians 1:1-14. In these verses is found the purpose of God for us on planet earth that no man can thwart. I will highlight the answer in the following verses. Read More...

Herein lies the danger...

Hard verses in the Bible

I have meant to write earlier in the week but am still decompressing from this weekend. Later on I am hoping to write an article called "reflections from Retreat 2010." This was one of the highlights of my last 12 years in full time ministry. Lots of reasons but that is enough for now.

In yesterday's reading of 2 Samuel 24:1 did you read carefully? I am going to list it for you in several translations below;

  • "Again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, "Go and take a census of Israel and Judah." (NIV)
  • "Now again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and it incited David against them to say, "(Go, number Israel and Judah." (NASB)
  • "Once again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he caused David to harm them by taking a census. “Go and count the people of Israel and Judah,” the Lord told him. (NLT)

Later on in your Bible reading plan you are going to read about the same event in 1 Chronicles 21:1. Here is this verse in the same three versions as listed above.

  • "Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel." (NIV)
  • "Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel." (NASB)
  • "Satan rose up against Israel and caused David to take a census of the people of Israel."(NLT)

If I were to ask you who caused David to number Israel and Judah how would you answer?
In this example we see the exact same scenario that plays out in the book of Job Chapters 1 and 2.

Answer - Satan is the secondary agent, but God is always primary.

The actions that David took were under the sovereign control of God, don't argue with that just read 2 Samuel 24:1. But also there is human responsibility on the part of King David because we read in 2 Samuel 24:10 that his heart was troubled due to his sin. Every action is under the sovereign prescription of God but at no time does He ever violate the free will of man. Does that cause your head to hurt? Well it should because that is a mystery that we can see plainly taught in the Bible but our minds can not handle that infinite truth. Allow yourself to be amazed at our God in that we can't figure Him out. His ways are so much higher than our ways and His thoughts beyond our thoughts. Don't bring God down to your ability of understanding Him. Read More...

The Bible is God-centered

This is from Doug Wolter

As I look at the Psalms, I’m amazed at how little we do and how much He does.  For example:

Psalm 23:1-3
The LORD is my shepherd; 
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me besides still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Psalm 40:1-3
I waited patiently for the LORD;
he inclined to me and [he] heard my cry
He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog,
[he] set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.

Psalm 55:22
Cast your burden on the LORD,
he will sustain you;
he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

Psalm 91:14-16
Because he holds fast to me in loveI will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
he calls to meI will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and [I will] honor him.
With long life 
I will satisfy him
[I will] show him my salvation.

In summary, all I need to do is come poor and needy because He comes to me rich in mercy. Hallelujah!

Dynamic Duo

This weekend both Megan Jones and Kay Jones fulfilled important responsibilities. Megan brought us our worship music and did a fantastic job. While Kay started off Friday night with a welcome and then provided announcements during the weekend.

If you want to see the trailer for Retreat 2010 then click on this LINK

Retreat Slogan

Anytime you go away for a retreat it seems that something special always tends to happen. This retreat was no exception with the fact that we did not know until Friday as to whether we could drive to Asheville. Our industrious leader Pat Jones secured a bus for the group in less than a day and the rest as they say is history. During the time together we came up with a “Retreat Slogan.” I am going to give credit to Kay Jones and we thought about having this put on t-shirts. I think it would be a great conversation starter with those in our class who were not able to go. So if you happen to read this article and were not able to attend then find someone who went and ask “what is the grid?”

Quote for the day

“Our whole life as Christians is a process of sailing confidently into the open seas, dying down in exhaustion, and having our sails filled again with God’s precious promises…

No less than when we first believed, we must always attribute to the gospel the power that fills our sails with gratitude, and to the law the proper course that such gratitude takes. At the beginning, in the middle, and at the end, the gospel ‘is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes’ (Rom. 1:16).” - Michael Horton, God of Promise pg 193-194


Our men’s Bible study will officially kick off tomorrow February 9, 7 PM at the home of Pat Jones. The subject for this year is learning “how to study the Bible.” If you are in our SS Community may I encourage you to come so that we can learn, discuss and have some fellowship around Christ and His word. This will be a 5 week intensive and then a two week before starting back up again. Here are the dates so you can put them on your calendars.
  • February 9
  • February 16
  • February 23
  • March 2
  • March 9

The redemption of mankind

There are two important questions I think one needs to ask when approaching the Bible. The first question has to do with the purpose and the second question has to do with the plan. I would argue that the purpose of the Bible is “the glory of God” whereas the plan of the Bible is the “unfolding and progressive redemption of mankind.” We need as Christians a sound hermeneutical grid that we can lay over the Bible. The word hermeneutics simply means a system to study by in order that we can properly determine what the author meant by what he wrote. My old sales boss used to say “if you don’t have a system to sell by you will automatically be part of the prospects system to buy by.” I think that is how many Christians approach the Bible. They don’t have a system to study by so they default to what others say and teach.

Again here is a plug for reading through the Bible time and time again. As you read there starts to form a unity of Scripture within the mind of the reader. It seems that most Bible preaching today deals with a few verses and then immediately to application. So people are trained to be selective in their personal reading, study and devotion. One of the key components of Retreat 2010 is to teach an organized plan from Genesis to Revelation. And the plan revolves around the redemptive history that we read from the Old to New Testament. The following is partial post of a blog article from Carl Gobelman on the redemption of mankind as brought out in the Bible.

"For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:17)

Lately, I've been bothered that refer to the bible as "the owner's manual for life." To me, this is very dismissive of Scripture. It's as if the bible becomes the book to turn to when we're sad or happy or angry or lonely. Just go to the bible and get that 'pick me up' to keep going through life.

I don't want to deny the ability of the bible to provide hope to the discouraged or strength to the downtrodden. But that is not the bible's primary purpose. First and foremost, the bible is a story. It's a story of how God created the world and placed the man he created in his image in a paradise on earth. This man he created disobeyed God and fell from grace. From that point on, the bible tells the story of how God moved to redeem his fallen creation; culminating in the birth of Jesus Christ.

Quote for the day

Today’s church has become so obsessed with results and relationships that they no longer have an interest in the things of God – only “building community.” - Bruce Wells

Back to our regularly scheduled program

The February Retreat 2010 is still on the bubble. If you are familiar with “March Madness” college basketball then you know the term “on the bubble.” This means that a team is close to making the tournament but not yet determined so they are on the bubble.

So while we are on the bubble so to speak I am going to get back to our regularly scheduled programming. If tomorrow the window of weather allows us to get to Asheville then I will reinstate RETREAT 2010.

The following is a devotion from Psalm 57.
Psalm 57:2 (Amplified Bible) I will cry to God Most High, Who performs on my behalf and rewards me [Who brings to pass His purposes for me and surely completes them]!
This was part of our reading for yesterday. Here is the same verse in the NIV I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills {his purpose} for me. So as we think and meditate on this verse let's ask the question "what is the purpose of God for my life?" I heard a wise pastor once say "the quality of questions one asks will be proportionate to the quality of one's life." If you can answer this purpose question, then would you not agree this should be the highest priority of your life? Psalm 57:2 tells us that God is accomplishing and fulfilling His very purposes through my life and your life. What is that purpose? Read More...