Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…
Jan 2010

Drive through church

The way we live in America can be easily demonstrated by the drive through window at the local McDonalds, Chick-Filet or Wendy’s. In most cases we are in a hurry, and since we live in the age of consumerism then we expect what we want and when we want it. In the case of the drive through, we can order, get it almost immediately and then be gone. Believe it or not I have eaten chicken nuggets so fast that I have almost finished at times before leaving the parking lot. My mouth looks like a tree shredder with nugget remnants flying past my mouth and cheek. Many people in church take almost that exact approach to Bible devotion time. As I have said many times before “the church isn’t influencing the culture but rather the culture is influencing the church.”

To get a better perspective on “DRIVE THROUGH CHURCH” click on this LINK.

Quote for the day

Since our Bible reading for Sunday is in 2 Corinthians, I thought this quote was a great way to start the week.

It is one of the main purposes of this epistle [2 Corinthians] to show that this immense discrepancy between the treasure and the vessel serves simple to attest that human weakness presents no barrier to the purposes of God, indeed, that God’s power is made perfect in weakness (12:9), as the brilliance of a treasure is enhanced and magnified by comparison with a common container in which it is placed.

Philip E. Hughes, Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1973), 135.

Connecting the dots...

Did you connect Jeremiah 33 and Luke 1 in your Bible reading? Specifically in Jeremiah 33:14-18 who is this in reference to? Look in the margin of your study Bible and see what the cross reference is for Jeremiah 33:17. This is Jesus Christ, the righteous branch of David and the One who come through the line of David. And why is that important? Because Jesus Christ is the King, the chosen Seed from the promise that God made to Abraham in Genesis 12, 15 and 17.

Now fast forward to Luke Chapter 1 and see the very fulfillment of this promise. Read again Luke 1:54-55 and you see the reference to the Abrahamic covenant. And then move to Chapter 1 verses 68-73 and you see the reference to the Dividic Covenant and the Abrahamic covenant. How do these two covenants that God initiated in the Old Testament relate to what He is doing in the New Testament? Should we understand how to connect these dots? Do we know how and can we explain what they mean in regard to God's redemption of mankind?

Hey folks, you will notice all through the Bible that God speaks and then God acts. I have heard it explained in these terms what God says He always does! Finally the King has arrived on planet earth and in His person and work will act on behalf of God to save His people from their sins.

Here is just one of many practical examples of see the unfolding plan of God to redeem mankind. Check out what God says in Romans 10:13 - for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED." And so we see again that what God says He does!

Our message to the class, community and world is "CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD" for today is the day of salvation!

Where are the Jeremiah's?

In the early 80's a new phenomenon came into vogue in the American church. It was based on finding out what the customer wanted and then find a way to give it to them. This movement to a large degree has been traced back to Robert Schuller and the Crystal Cathedral. Click on this LINK. Quickly this became the way to grow the church in width but it became very dangerous in regard to the depth. As methods, plans, philosophies and finally the American business model was put into the mega-church many of the mature saints simply left. And then in 2007 something happened that others have called the biggest church story in the past 50 years. Bill Hybels, the senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church (20,000 members) announced that after 30 years of church ministry they made a mistake. In essence he talked about the millions and millions of dollars spent to get the consumer into the church instead of growing up the Christians in the church. As a matter of fact he was quoted as saying "it was the biggest wake up call of my adult life." Their conclusion, and here I am paraphrasing, back to the word of God and prayer.

The Bible reading for this morning is Jeremiah 32-36. Jeremiah was a prophet. This next is a quote from "Hermeneutics for lay people"
"Usually we think of the Old Testament prophets as simply foretelling the future, and certainly that is an important part of nearly every prophet's message. But the OT prophets primarily spoke to a situation at hand primarily a contemporary message or what we might call forth telling. To understand the prophet's message we must understand the historical background and the Occasion to which God was speaking. When studying the prophets we must ask, "What was God saying to His people?" This essential background for the Prophets is found in Kings and Chronicles. Supplemental background information can be found in extra Biblical references such as Bible encyclopedias and critical commentaries. But remember, the information that is essential to understanding the Prophet's message is found in the Bible itself. Read More...

Coming this Sunday (weather permitting)

The last few weeks we have been covering the doctrine of the self-suffiiciency of God. This Sunday I will start with a brief review but then move into the application for this doctrine. When we started out I gave a three-fold approach to this particular study;
  • Definition of Self-Sufficiency
  • Scriptural Support for this Doctrine
  • Illustrations that help to explain so we can understand

It is common to hear the following objections to the doctrine of self-sufficiency;
Key Questions that arise because of God’s Self-Sufficiency

1. Why are we here? What is our purpose?
2. Why does God demand our obedience?
3. Why does God enlist our service?
4. Why does God call us to pray?
5. Why does he require our worship?

On Sunday we will spend time going through these five questions listed above. If you want to preview the answers to these objections prior to class then I have included them in this blog article.

Allow me to mention that my study in Bible doctrine has been mainly and specifically done under the teaching of Dr. Larry Dixon, Dr Wayne Grudem, and Dr. Bruce Ware. In this article I am using the very notes given to me by Dr. Ware on this subject. So I want to again say thanks to each of these fine theologians, and a special thanks again to Dr. Ware who has been kind to share notes and much teaching on this subject.

1. Why are we here? What is our purpose?
The answer is NOT that God was lonely and needed fellowship. Ps 50 – he’s offended and dishonored to think so.
Rather, particularly in relation to his people, the answer it this: though he doesn’t need us, he loves us, and his purpose in creating and redeeming us is not that we might fill up some lack in him, but that he might fill us up with himself. He made us empty to be filled with his fullness, thirsty to drink of the water of life, weak to receive his strength, foolish to be instructed and corrected by his wisdom. In his love, he longs to give, to share the bounty. He wants us to experience in finite measure the fullness of joy and blessing that he knows infinitely—all to redound to the praise and glory of his name, the Giver and Provider of all the good we enjoy. C. S. Lewis, in his The Problem of Pain, says that God’s love is not like ours, helping another while needing also to be helped. No, God’s love, says Lewis, is “bottomlessly selfless, by very definition; it has everything to give and nothing to receive” (p. 50). Read More...

During the Christmas break

I know what you are thinking, aren’t you a little late on this post. Actually I wanted to put this up earlier but over the holidays I had first a cough, then the flu and finally a sinus condition. Basically I was on the couch from December 13 till about two days before we came back in January. One night it was bad, I will spare you the details but I appealed to Nancy for an emergency room visit.

Here are two short video clips from comedian Bryan Regan that best describe that particular night, and what would have happened if I had opted for the emergency room.

Click on Video #1
Click on Video #2

Hope you enjoy!

The danger and destructiveness of sin

This morning our reading is from 2 Samuel 10-14. As I read I meditated on the danger and destructiveness of sin. We can observe from the text that King David's feet took him to a place he should not have been. He is on the roof of his palace but this is a time of year where he should have been at war with his troops. His eyes looked where they should never have been. His thoughts then leading to words that came from his mouth as he sent for Bathsheba. His hands and arms holding onto the wife of another woman and getting her pregnant. Almost immediately my mind rushed ahead to the following verses in Mark;
  • Mark 9:43 “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire,
  • Mark 9:45 “If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell,
  • Mark 9:47 “If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell,

John Owen the Puritan theologian was quoted as saying "be killing your sin or it will be killing you." Sin takes you to places that you shouldn't go, introduces you to thoughts you shouldn't think, desires the very things you shouldn't have, says the things you shouldn't say and does the things you shouldn't do. And Jesus teaches that we must be violent to the point where we are killing our sin.

When we are finished in the doctrine of God, the next part of our curriculum is to study the doctrine of sin. Just look in 2 Samuel 11 at the dangerous progression of this sin in the life of King David. First he sees with the eyes and then he lusts in the heart and then he acts on what he sees and desires. Does that remind you of another story in the Bible. How about Genesis 3:6 when Eve observes the food of the tree, which results into a desire for the food she sees and that leads her to take it and eat it.

In one chapter 2 Samuel 11, King David described as a man after God's own heart has committed adultery and murder.

Can you see an application? What sin is lurking or being tolerated in your life? Places that you may go, things you may see, thoughts you might think, and desires you might have that lead to actions you might take. Sin is so very dangerous and so very destructive. But for the Christian there is a strategy and it involves violence and war.

Listen to this short audio clip from Dr. John Piper, click on this LINK. (The context of this audio is Romans 8:12-17)

Review for January 24

This morning I began with an encouragement for those in our class going on the retreat and for others who need to take a retreat. Hopefully this verse will become a tradition for us to look at each year before our time away. We looked at Mark 6:31 And He *said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.)

We then continued in our of the doctrine of self-sufficiency. By next week we should conclude with application from what has been learned via the definition, illustrations, and Scriptural support from Isaiah 40:12-17, Exodus 50:4-15 and Acts 17:24-25.

Audio for Slide #5 click on this LINK

Video for Slide #19 click on this LINK

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

Coming this Sunday

The teaching plan for Sunday is to continue in the self-sufficiency of God. The study plan that I am attempting to lay out for the class, and by the way, it is different than the reading plan and the devotion plan. But the study plan has three main components;
  • Define the doctrine in easy to understand layman's language
  • Support the articulation of a doctrine with the Bible
  • Give illustrations where applicable

For example, since we are studying the doctrine of self sufficiency we need to start with a definition.
Definition of self-sufficiency - God possesses within Himself, intrinsically and eternally, every quality in infinite

Last week we read the entire chapter of Isaiah 40 and then looked at verses 12-17. The breakdown of this section of Scripture seems to flow in the following manner.
In Isaiah 40:12 we can see the power, bigness and immensity of God. Then in verse 13-14 Isaiah moves from God's power to the knowledge and wisdom of God. And finally in verses 15-17 we learn the implication to the nations of the verses above.

An illustration of this text might be the one that I used in class last week.
Illustration:. My plan, Lord willing is to have this very devotion some morning in Isaiah 40:12 with the grandchildren and then take them to the beach. When I get there I am going to ask them if they want to see me do an experiment? So I say now kids when Pa Pa B gets in the ocean he is going to go down and scoop up all the water in his two hands and when he comes up out of the water I want you to notice the level at which the water drops. Of course they will say they didn't see any change and that is when I will act amazed and say OK I am going to do it again and this time watch very closely. Again the same response and then I plan to come up on the beach and kneel beside them and tell them about the God who made everything and how He can scoop up the Atlantic Ocean in His hand and hold it. So what kind of picture is Isaiah trying to get us to see in this passage about our God? He is really big, powerful and immense!

Beware of "proof texting" the Bible

Over the past year a number of specifics have come up in regard to Bible study. There is a term called “proof texting” that we need to be aware of as we study. Instead of me going into a long explanation at this time, let me suggest you watch the short video posted below. In this video Dr. James White encourages Christians to beware when it comes to certain Bible teachers who "proof text." This can be a form of false teaching where a theological position is supported by using certain Bible passages ripped out of their proper context.

The important principle to grasp from this short video is learning to keep the flow of thought from the author in proper context. This is true of any specific book of the Bible but also true in the flow of thought from Genesis to Revelation. While in seminary a professor once remarked that an atheist said to him that there is no God and the Bible declares that to be true. The person went on to sight the following text from Psalm 14: “...There is no God...” However we need to read the whole verse to keep the entire statement in context and it reads as follows; Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. Even though this is a very simple example it still shows how part of a verse can be ripped from context to support a certain point of view.

The dangers of proof texting the Bible; simply click on this LINK. (may take a minute or two to load)

Quote for the day

“Those who looked for the city that has foundations sought it for no other reason than that its maker and builder is God. It is because it is the city of God, the structure in which he has embodied his own perfection, in which his thoughts and purposes for his own stand objectified, that it forms a worthy object of the supreme religious quest of the believer. In it is God at every point, and those who dwell in it see him constantly. The measure of their desire for it becomes the measure of their love for God.” —Geerhardus Vos, Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2001), 229

Beginning with the End

This has been a week of fruitful discussion regarding the “self-sufficiency” of God. On Sunday I am planning to begin where we left off last Sunday. Here is what is critical to understand from the meaning of Isaiah 40:17 All the nations are as nothing before Him, They are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless. First of all let’s be sure we know what this DOES NOT mean. It doesn’t mean that God regards us as a big fat zero, doesn’t care and we are just a bunch on nothings running around on planet earth. And we know that because of verses like:

John 3:16
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” You could paraphrase for God so love the nations.

Revelation 5:9 “And they *sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”

You can see from the reading of the verses above that we are very much something in the eyes of God.

So what does Isaiah 40:17 mean? It means that our talent, abilities, and giftedness when compared to the glory, magnificence, knowledge and wisdom of God doesn’t even make it on the radar screen. If you take all of human accomplishments from the beginning of recorded time until today and place that next to the accomplishments of God they look like nothing.

Remember again our definition of the sufficiency of God - “God possesses within Himself, intrinsically and eternally, every quality in infinite measure.”

You might be thinking OK, I believe that God is self-sufficient but that means He really doesn’t need me for anything. So the next logical series of questions might be as follows;

1. Why are we here? What is our purpose?
2. Why does God demand our obedience?
3. Why does God enlist our service?
4. Why does God call us to pray?
5. Why does he require our worship?

The Bible has answers for us in this regard so stay tuned for further details in the weeks to come.

Background for Psalm 51

We are guilty in the evangelical church of NOT reading in context. How many times have I warned in our class about just reading one verse? I continue to encourage you to read the paragraph before and after, but at least the paragraph of the verse itself. Also context can mean understanding the historical background of the passage in order to better understand what the author meant by what he wrote.

Yesterday our Bible reading was in Psalm 51-53. Psalm 51 is the response of king David to God for his sinful actions against Bathsheba and Uriah. Many scholars believe that king David was going to the temple and carrying on as normal for as long as a year. So what does God do? Who does God send? And what is the genre that God uses to get king David's full attention?
Well as you know God sends the prophet Nathan and when Nathan approaches king David he tells him a parable. You can read this in 2 Samuel 12:1-7. But at the conclusion of the parable David says "surely the man who has done this deserves to die." And Nathan turns to the king and says "you are the man." Imagine the facial expression at that moment of king David and what immediately went on in his heart and mind. (Side Note; if you are reading in a NASB study Bible you will notice that in the margin for Psalm 51:1 is a cross reference to 2 Samuel 12:1. Do you see how cross referencing is important to also understanding the overall context?)

Now you have the background for Psalm 51 as you read. But I want you to observe a critical point that the prophet Nathan makes to king David in the following verses;
2Sam. 12:9Why have you despised the word of the LORD by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon.
2Sam. 12:10 ‘Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’

Notice the Hebrew parallelism of this verse and what it means. Nathan is laying out a Biblical principle here that moves far beyond king David and his sin before the LORD. In these two verses, through the inspired writer, here is what we learn; despising the word of God is equivalent to despising God Himself. Could we paraphrase this verse in the following way; ignoring the word of God is equivalent to ignoring God Himself, having no relationship with the word of God is equivalent to having no relationship with God Himself. Maybe in our culture the better way to bring clarity, so as not to get people defensive is to say; a love for God's word means a love for God Himself!

Do you love Christ?

Sometimes in our gospel zeal we end up talking more about the benefits that we do the Benefactor. We focus our attention on the gifts rather than the Giver. In our excitement to tell others about the blessings and say little about the Blessor. So in this brief blog article I am asking a simple question “Do you love Jesus Christ?”

I am not asking do you love Christ for what He can do for you in terms of health, wealth and prosperity. But as I heard one pastor ask the question, if you could have eternal life, get all sins forgiven forever, have fellowship with family members and friends throughout eternity, enjoy the unending delights in a glorious heaven for eternity but the only catch is the Lord Jesus isn’t there, would you still want to go?

Observing the "Big Picture"

One of the key learning tools for me has been the unity of Scripture. Let me use an illustration that you have read from me before. Suppose a friend of yours invited you to a house warming party. This is where people drop by to see someone's home and to take a tour. Can you imagine knocking on the door, walking immediately into the dining room with your magnifying glass to examine one of the legs of the dining room table? Well that is exactly how many people today come into their study of the Bible. First of all we need to come up to the house and observe landscaping, structure of the home, roof style and those things visible from the outside. And then when we enter get a tour that gives us an overall feel for the flow of the home, from foyer to kitchen to den to bedroom and so on. In other words we first look a the big picture of everything before we look at and study of any one thing.

If your involved in the Bible reading plan then you are coming into a section of Scriptures that can be quite confusing. You have Saul as the first king of Israel, then David and then Solomon. But after the problem with Solomon's son there is a division into the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. Then the reading talks about the king from the north and then a king from the south. As you read there is this king in the north that overlaps with the reign of kings in the south and vice versa. On top of all that you have the prophets appearing on the scene. Some are prophesying specifically to the northern kingdom and some to the southern kingdom. All in all the details here can be a bit overwhelming to the point you can get a bit bogged down. My solution is to bring you back to the "big picture" so that you can know where you are at any point and time.

So for your Bible reading ease and convenience I have attached a chart that hopefully can clear up confusion. I find that visual charts are very helpful when it comes to reading and understanding historical narratives. And as you know, the first 17 books of the Old Testament are historical narratives. The chart listed below will give you a "big picture" overview from 1 Samuel through Malachi. Just click on the words below and they will take you to the charts.

Chart #1

The chart above is in a file format that allows you to print this out

Quote for the day

“Begin reading your Bible this very day. The way to do a thing is to do it, and the way to read the Bible is actually to read it. It is not meaning, or wishing, or resolving, or intending, or thinking about it; that will not advance you one step. You must positively read. There is no royal road in this matter, any more than in the matter of prayer. If you cannot read yourself, you must persuade somebody else to read to you. But one way or another, through eyes or ears, the words of Scripture must actually pass before your mind.” -John Charles Ryle, Practical Religion, “Bible Reading,” page 131.

The Bible is NOT boring

If you were in class a couple of weeks ago I went through 7 key reasons that people give as to why they don’t read the Bible. One of the reasons is “the Bible is boring.” In this short audio clip Pastor John Piper is talking about the word of God. I wonder how many people in the church today really think the Bible is boring and don’t realize the problem is not the Bible but the problem is them.
To listen simply click on this LINK.

The knowledge of God

Our Bible reading for today is Exodus 17-20. If I asked you where the Ten Commandments are located in the Bible, how would you answer? OK, here is a hint, they are located within our Bible reading plan for today. Let me go one step further, what if I were to ask you to name the Ten Commandments. Could you name all ten of them? You might answer "no I can't," but going to heaven is not conditioned upon being able to recite the Ten Commandments." And to that I whole heartedly agree and would further add the only condition for heaven is faith in Christ. So why even bring this up unless we are training for Bible Jeopardy and want to enter a team from our SS class? By the way as a small side note but important to the point of this email, that question was asked not long ago in survey form to various Christians. To hear how they did click on this LINK.

The post-modern evangelicals get a bit upset when Bible knowledge is a main emphasis within the church. Here is a quote from a popular pastor today that has a church between 10-15,000 members, in he said “most Christians are educated way beyond their level of obedience anyway.” The overall implication of this kind of preaching is to downgrade what a Christian needs to know and upgrade what a Christian needs to do. Once again we get the imperatives (commands) ahead of the indicatives (the realities of what Christ accomplished on the cross). I want to make it clear that there is a huge difference between "knowing about God" and actually "knowing God." But I will continue to maintain as we learn Bible doctrine, that a litmus test of our knowing God is in direct proportion to our knowing His word. A.W. Tozer said in the 1950's that the knowledge of God in the American church was so low that he classified it as idolatry. Why would he say something that strong? Because he knew that when people don't know the God of the Bible they tend to construct a god of their own imaginations. And how is that different that going out in the backyard and cutting down a tree to pray to and worship. So why is knowledge important? Because the Bible teaches it is important throughout the Old and New Testament. I could give many examples but let me refer you to;

Habakkuk 2:14 “For the earth will be filled
With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD,
As the waters cover the sea.

Do you see the connection that God makes in the passage above between knowing Him and glorifying Him?

When I ask can you name the Ten Commandments it is not asked from the Bible jeopardy perspective but from the knowing God perspective. As you read, embrace and understand these commandments you will get to know the God of the Bible. As this knowledge grows so will your behavior as a Christian. We all behave in a way that is consistent with those things that we behold on a regular and continuous basis. (Romans 12:1-2)

So let me ask again in the context of this email, can you name the Ten Commandments?

Review for January 17

We live in a culture of self-image, self-worth and self-esteem. I personally for 22 plus years was involved in the saturation of information that taught “anything the man of man can conceive and believe, he can achieve. But the Bible doesn’t talk about self-esteem and yet the pages are filled with God-esteem. Therefore as we come to our continued study in Bible doctrine we are now looking closely at the “self-sufficiency of God.” And specifically this morning we looked at Isaiah 40. Again as I have said in previous articles as you study see if you can define the doctrine, give an illustration and finally support it from the Bible. Next week the plan is to read and study from Psalm 50 and Acts 17. Please read the notes from the teaching session this morning. As we concluded I wasn’t able to develop the meaning of Isaiah 40:17. But in the notes included it should be very clear what the author meant when he wrote this verse. The self-sufficiency of God is critical for us to understand in getting a proper Biblical understanding regarding things like; prayer, evangelism, tithing, and serving. Hope to see you next week as we continue to learn and live the God-centered life.

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

Praying for Haiti

Tomorrow in class we will have an update from Don and Sonia regarding Haiti and a time of prayer. Please be in prayer specifically for the teachers, families and students at the school we support in Haiti through Don and Sonia’s ministry. Also I have included here a recent article for prayer needs and update in general that is from the president of the Baptist Haiti Mission.

This is an update from Phil Johnson’s blog site on January 15;

Ron Pierre, board president for Baptist Haiti Mission, sends this update,
Prayer Requests following Haiti's Earthquake
Many of you are asking what the big prayer items are so that you can share these with your churches this upcoming Sunday. Here are some ways you can support us through prayer.
  • That God would work in the hearts of the people and that many would come to know Him through this tragedy.
  • Wisdom to know how to start helping the many who are hurt, without food and water or without shelter.
  • Safety as we receive supplies and start to distribute them. There is always a concern that we could be the target of mobbing if they know we have lots of supplies.
  • That God would miraculously supply the needed diesel, water and food that we need. Our hospital needs the generator to keep it running, so diesel is a huge need.
  • That the medical team scheduled to arrive on Tuesday would be able to arrive without any troubles and with all their supplies.
  • For strength for the hospital staff, missionaries, and all those involved in the relief efforts to continue day by day.
  • Thank you so much for your prayers. We are continually seeing God at work and we know that He is answering prayers.

The heavens declare the glory of God

This morning I was up early to let out the dogs. Immediately when I saw the sky I rushed back in the house to get my camera. For several minutes after the picture I just stared at the majesty, and beauty of the sky in all its incredible radiance. During those precious moments at no time was I thinking about my self esteem, self importance, or self image. There was only a focus on what I was beholding before my eyes which was the magnificence of the sky. And when I came in it hit me and this is why I am writing this blog. The sky in this picture is merely a pointer or you could say a foreshadowing of the glory of God. We read in Psalm 19:1 “The heavens are telling of the glory of God...” As I was thinking about those minutes it was if God was saying if you think this is grand, spectacular, awesome, beautiful and glorious just wait until that day when all my glory will be fully revealed. When we are captivated by God’s greatness and glory He become big and we become small. And as John the Baptist declares in John 3:30 and this is a great reminder for all of us in our study of the doctrine of God “He must increase and I must decrease.”

Principles for genuine confession

Occasionally I find articles that will help emphasize some Bible doctrines we have covered or will cover in the future. This deals specifically in the area of sin and we will cover when we get to the doctrine of sin. But I couldn’t resist when I read this principles for genuine confession.

From Peacemakers Ministries:

As God opens your eyes to see how you have sinned against others, he simultaneously offers you a way to find freedom from your past wrongs. It is called confession. Many people have never experienced this freedom because they have never learned how to confess their wrongs honestly and unconditionally. Instead, they use words like these: “I’m sorry if I hurt you.” “Let’s just forget the past.” “I suppose I could have done a better job.” “I guess it’s not all your fault.” These token statements rarely trigger genuine forgiveness and reconciliation. If you really want to make peace, ask God to help you breathe grace by humbly and thoroughly admitting your wrongs. One way to do this is to use the Seven A’s.

1. Address everyone involved (All those whom you affected)
2. Avoid if, but, and maybe (Do not try to excuse your wrongs)
3. Admit specifically (Both attitudes and actions)
4. Acknowledge the hurt (Express sorrow for hurting someone)
5. Accept the consequences (Such as making restitution)
6. Alter your behavior (Change your attitudes and actions)
7. Ask for forgiveness

See Matthew 7:3-5; 1 John 1:8-9; Proverbs 28:13.

Class study curriculum for 2010

I know some of this has been explained before, but allow me to cover again as we fully launch into 2010. The first discipline that I am encouraging each person in our class to accomplish is reading through the entire Bible. Some people have come to me and indicated they need specific steps and homework assignments for our class. In this email I am going to list those for you as I am teaching through Bible doctrine.

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.

A car trip, worship and the glory of God

This past week, on Monday to be exact, Pat, Dan Miller and I went to Lifeway Conference Center in Asheville. The purpose of the trip was to meet with our retreat representative and to finalize the details of our upcoming retreat. During our 3 hours in the car together we covered a number of topics as they relate to the Bible.
Overall our discussion was grouped into two main categories. On the way to Asheville we primarily covered the topic of evangelism. What does it look like in a practical way? How did Jesus evangelize? And are we able to do in a way that is consistent with Scripture? On the way back to Charlotte the topic primarily covered was discipleship. We discussed the great commission from Matthew 28:19 and that led to a great brainstorming session about what that looks like in each of our lives.
I think if you asked Pat, Dan or myself as to what was the main topic of our three hour car ride collectively we would answer "Jesus Christ." In essence what we had was a three hour worship time together. And here from a purely Scriptural perspective is what was happening both as we discussed evangelism and discipleship;
1. Christ was being honored by the reading and discussion of the Scriptures
2. The Holy Spirit was revealing, guiding and disclosing to each of us these truths about Jesus
3. As we studied and discussed Christ of the word, the Spirit empowered, and God was getting the glory Read More...

Review for January 10

We are not trying just to get through the doctrine curriculum in this class but rather get the doctrine curriculum through us. One of my goals as we launch into 2010 is be sure that you know the tools available from our website. We only have 45-50 minutes on Sunday, so the design of the teaching is to provide resources that can help you learn during the week what was taught on Sunday. Unfortunately I have been negligent in teaching the “how to” when it comes to these tools. Therefore the first two weeks of January have been mostly dedicated to website management.
The three core disciplines that have been stressed from day one are:
  • Bible Reading
  • Bible Study
  • Bible Devotion
So the website is organized around those disciplines in a way that can help each person in our class do this during the week. And this leads right into our class mission statement which is;
“We exist as a community to spread a passion for Christ in such a way that His word becomes the food and daily nourishment for learning and living the God-centered life.
A life in which we are transformed by the power of the Spirit, by seeing the face of God in the Lord Jesus Christ!”

As the Bible is read with prepared hearts, the Spirit reveals, leads and guides us into all truth regarding Jesus Christ, which in turn transforms us so that we might manifest the glory of God in our thoughts, words and actions. Can you imagine a class of people, a church of people, a community of people that as Christ honoring, Spirit empowered and God honoring? You might read that and say impossible and to that I would reply, “for man it is impossible but through God all things are possible.”

I mentioned this morning that last week was encouraging because of several stories I heard about personal discipleship. And that is why I decided to do some study on the word “disciple” this week. Read More...

The greatest commandment...

The Bible reading for today is Mark 11-12. If you are reading from the NASB translation you see that the text is written in ALL CAPS that means it comes from the Old Testament. In Mark 12 the Lord Jesus is asked by one of the scribes "Which commandment is the most important of all." Jesus has no problem with the question and He certainly has no problem with the answer. The answer Jesus gives comes straight from Deuteronomy 6:5 which says “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And here will be my first point that I consider critical to your devotion time. Find the verse in the Old Testament and read it in the greater context of the paragraph in order to get a better understanding of the meaning. In this case I would suggest you read Deuteronomy 6:1-9. I am appealing for you to read it and see if you agree with my interpretation. Again, I exhort you to be like the Bereans (Acts 17:11) who took the Scriptures and compared them against everything that Paul taught.

First of all can you imagine the depth of teaching that Jesus had and that he could offer to His disciples. But as one of my Bible teachers once said to me "the gospel is simplicity through great complexity." So the Lord Jesus has no problem going right to the bottom line and giving this scribe the most important commandment of them all. And according to Jesus Himself it is “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." Notice that has everything to do with a person's vertical relationship with God. Please don't move past that point too quickly because that is exactly why we are getting so saturated in the "doctrine of God."

If someone were to approach me from outside our class at Carmel, and ask me "why are you teaching on the doctrine of God." My answer would come in a three-fold statement. Part 1 would sound like the following; so that we as the people of God might love the LORD our God with all our heart and soul and with all our might." Part 2 of the answer would incorporate the second most important command. We are learning the doctrine of God because as we know Him more and love Him more in our vertical relationship this will transcend into us loving our neighbors as ourselves. Part 3 of the answer will be the ultimate purpose of the entire Bible which is once you have a community of people with the proper vertical relationship, that works itself out in the proper horizontal relationships, what manifests is the "glory of God" in the life of those people.

Quote for the day

Our supreme need, our only need, is to know God, the living God, and the power of his might. We need nothing else. It is just that, the power of the living God, to know that the living God is among us and that nothing else matters…I say, forget everything else. Forget everything else. We need to realize the presence of the living God amongst us. Let everything else be silent. This is no time for minor differences. We all need to know the touch of the power of the living God. - Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

"Go and make disciples"

We in the orthodox church have come to know Matthew 28:19 as the “great commission.” Here is how it reads;
19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,

Did you know that there is only one verb in the sentence above and it is in the imperative mood, which means the mood of command. It is not the word “GO” that is a participle and it is not the word “BAPTIZING” that also is a participle. The word in the Greek, that is a verb written in the imperative mood is “MAKE DISCIPLES.” In my study I think a good layman’s definition for the word disciple is a learner of Jesus. You could translate the word as teach or instruct and therefore you could define as a teacher of Jesus or an instructor of Jesus. As a matter of fact the KJV uses the word “teach” in the place of “make disciples.” Here we have one of the last things Jesus gives to His disciples in the way of instruction before His ascension. And yet today I it seems to be NOT the great commission but instead the great omission.

Let’s do a little word study on the word “disciple” from the New Testament. Two primary Greek words for disciple in the New Testament are as follows;
  • matheteuo (Strong’s number 3100)
  • mathetes (Strong’s number 3101)

Take our your Strong’s Concordance or a Bible study software and count the number of occurrences of these words in the New Testament. According to my study it comes to 269 times.
Now let’s break it down to the number of times these words occur in the gospels as opposed to the epistles and Revelation.

Matthew-Acts - Number of times disciple occurs 269 times
Romans-Revelation - Number of times disciple occurs 0 times

There is another word for disciple in the New Testament and it is the Greek word “manthano” and it’s Strong’ number is 3129. Here is the breakdown for this word.

Matthew-Acts - Number of times disciple occurs 7 times
Romans-Revelation - Number of times disciple occurs 17 times

If we take all 3 uses of the word for disciple and total them here are the final results;
Matthew-Acts - number of times words for disciple occur - 276 times
Romans-Revelation - number of times words for disciple occur - 17 times

Total number of occurrences from Matthew-Revelation - 293 times Read More...

Are you Biblically desperate?

Good morning, hope everyone is off to a good start in this new year. Over the past 18 months you have heard me continue to exhort you back to God's word so that God's word can get back into you. Hopefully you have been around me long enough to know the difference between a "duty" mentality when it comes to Bible reading, study, and devotions and a "delight" mentality. If someone asks me how I have approached the Bible over my years in ministry, my answer is with a constant and continuous prayer of desperation. Almost every morning when my eyes open and before my feet hit the floor, I am asking God to make me desperate for His word that day. Here are some verses that support that kind of prayer and attitude when it comes to our Bible study time.
Psalm 42:1 As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So my soul pants for You, O God.

Psalm 1:1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
Psalm 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Jeremiah 33:3 ‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’

Here is what I have learned over the years from the church fathers that have gone before us. At this point I am specifically thinking of George Mueller just to name one that I know just a litte. Turn the verses into prayer before you start to read the Bible that morning. In other words find any number of verses like those I have listed above and pray to God the Father these very things. Read More...

Coming January 17

This is a note from Karen Sheats
Happy New Year! Wow has it been cold. What better way to warm up than with comfort food!

January 17th 12:15 - Uptown Auditorium - Chili Cook off.

A sign up sheet will be in this Sunday's books - if you're not going to be there and want to sign up - e-mail me. What to bring: Sign up to bring Chili or a side to compliment Chili, like corn bread, warm fresh bread, salad or perhaps you'd like to bring a dessert. I would also like to know if you can help set up and/or break down. I will need a head count so that I know how many tables, chairs, drinks etc. to set up for. Hope to see you soon.

Website management and Devotions

Yesterday's class had a two fold theme. First, many people within the church today simply don't read God's word consistently. Second, part of the design of our class is to provide tools to encourage and educate people on how to do it. Pat and I have learned a valuable lesson over the last year as it relates to those in our class. Many don't understand nor have they been utilizing the tools available though the website. Please don't hear this as a criticism of the class but an observation that we came to at the conclusion of 2009. If anything I am being critical of myself in only pointing people toward the website but not providing the "how to" in taking advantage of this resource.
At the end of our class yesterday here are a sampling of comments from those who talked with me;
"I had no idea that the website provided these tools"
"Would you take more time to show us how to utilize blueletterBible.org and how we can look up and understand Greek verbs"
"Thank you for again offending me with your exhortations to get back to God's word"
"I have gone to the website on a casual basis but now I am starting to understand how to use if for Bible study"
This kind of immediate feedback just reaffirmed the need for those in our to know how to access the tools in our website that can aid them in Bible reading, study and devotions.

The Bible reading for Saturday was Mark 9-10. I combine my Bible reading with my Bible devotion time. Therefore when I got to Mark 9:14-29 I started to slow down and have a time of devotion. It doesn't take long but one of the most helpful things especially in the gospels is to go and read the parallel account of the event from other gospel writers.
In this case I went to Bible Gateway and utilized the "lookup multiple passages" option. And I plugged in the following verses;
  • Mark 9:14-29
  • Matt 17:14-19
  • Luke 9:37-42
Here is an observation from just looking at those multiple passages.

The context for this particular text is Jesus is coming down with Peter, James and John from the mountain where He has been transfigured. And when they come to the bottom of the mountain a father confronts Jesus with his demon possessed son. Now I want you to notice what Matthew indicates the father says in each of the accounts;
Matthew 17:16 "I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him."
Luke 9:40 "I begged Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not."

Review from January 3

This morning we launched in the 2010 year with a up close and personal look at the tools available for Bible reading, study and devotion. Pat and I have talked over the past year about how to encourage people to visit and use the class website. We both agreed it would be a good investment of class time for me to give a detailed tour of how to utilize the tools we have available. Also I took the first part of our class time to explore “WHY PEOPLE DON’T READ THE BIBLE.”

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

The direction of "youth ministry" in America

This blog site is primarily dedicated to the teaching and training resources as they relate to the study of Bible doctrine. However at times I sense the need to include other articles from those who are making accurate Biblical observations regarding the evangelical church in America. This particular article deals with “youth ministry” and where it has been heading over the last several decades. As one who teaches in the adult ministries of a large Baptist church someone might ask “what does this guy know about youth ministry?” Well, as the former senior pastor of a small start up church I had the opportunity to hire and work closely with two youth pastors. This resulted in many hours of discussion regarding the training and equipping of young people in this culture for Christ. Also the discussions always seemed to gravitate back to the home, and the role of the parents as to the spiritual training of the children. When I would talk to our youth pastors the general evaluation of the kids was a lack of Bible knowledge, little to no Bible reading or devotion time, and an overall luke warm relationship with Christ. Upon closer inspection it became clear that Bible teaching, devotions, and prayer from the parents were not a consistent part of daily life within the home. It almost seemed to us that the parents had decided to outsource the spiritual development and training of their children to the youth ministry. Of course I am speaking in general terms but overall “youth ministry” in America is a holding tank to entertain and attract the masses, rather than to disciple in terms of self-denial, take up your cross and follow Christ. Hey folks when you have statistics that can verify less than 5% of adults have read through the Bible one time, then ask how might this translate down to the children in the home.

Therefore when I saw this recent blog post at CrossTalk I made a note and decided to post it today. This is hard hitting and for some it may even get you a bit upset. But I would ask that you evaluate the information in full before you have a knee jerk reaction. I have given you several links that can be helpful to check out as you read this particular article. We as the people of God need to be aware of what “youth ministry” is doing as it relates to the spiritual development of our children. But more importantly we need as parents to look squarely in the mirror and ask “what am I doing to train up my child in God’s word?”

Here is the article from CrossTalk:
Scott Brown made headlines at a recent conference for calling evangelical youth ministry today “unbiblical.” Scott Brown is right on target. Read More...

Something to consider for 2010

First of all HAPPY NEW YEAR! I was reflecting on the 2010 year as against when we started this class in August of 2008. Can you believe that we have been together for a year and four months? Time flies when you are studying Bible doctrine as a community.

The beginning of each new year is an excellent time to take a spiritual inventory of your life. May I encourage you to take a few minutes to reflect on these questions this week.
  • Do you have a rich, vibrant, passionate and growing relationship with Jesus Christ?
  • What is the relationship that you have with God's word in regard to reading, studying and devotion time?
  • Are those closest to you seeing Christ when they hear your words and when they observe your behavior?
  • Where is there sin in your life that is known or tolerated that you need to deal with and confess?
  • Do you love God based on Him making much of you, or do you love God because at the cost of His Son, He has made a way for you to make much of Him?

The natural tendency especially for American Christians is to say OK this year I am going to do something different. Then the list comes out, maybe not literally but things like;
  • I am going to read through the Bible
  • I am going to financially give more
  • I am going to serve in the church
  • I am going to pray
  • I am going to have devotion time with my wife or family
  • I am going to become involved in Bible study
  • I am going to attend SS class consistently
  • I am going to be more intentional to evangelize in my neighborhood and workplace
  • I am going to disciple someone