Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…

The Buzz

Since my nickname is Pastor B. I thought it might be appropriate to call my podcasts “The Buzz.” Well, today I have a bone to pick with some in the evangelical church. It is in regard to what does the Bible mean. How are we supposed to understand the difference between meaning and interpretation? I give some insight into this problem in this short podcast.

To listen just click on this LINK.

Review for August 30

Yesterday was an effort to launch us into year two in "learning and living the God-centered life." I wanted to cover some of the basics from our mission statement to the "Finally This Year" challenge. As all of you know that two primary launches for SS community are fall and first of the year. Therefore it takes a few weeks to settle in, assimilate those who are going to attend and participate and then get back to our curriculum.

In a couple of weeks I will be introducing the specifics of the Bible reading plan for this year. If you remember last year I presented those in our class with 10+ options and encouraged them to pick one. However this year I will select the plan, encourage us to start and finish together. During the year I will provide devotions to encourage those in our class as they come to and meditate on the Scriptures. I have seen this done before and is quite exciting when a group of people are all reading the same thing and the same time.

Also I will try and use all different types of media this year in order to appeal to the various learning styles within our class. There are those who are primarily visual and therefore videos and power point are helpful tools for them. We have those who learn more effectively with audio and so mp3's are available for them. Then we have those, even though they seem to be fewer and fewer over the years that prefer detailed reading.

In my devotion time this morning I was reading the following:
Deut. 11:18 ¶ “You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.
Deut. 11:19 “You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.
Deut. 11:20 “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates

This sounds a lot like Deuteronomy 6:4-9 doesn't it? Why do you think God found it necessary to repeat this to the people of Israel and why for us? Because God knows something about us that at times we don't even know about ourselves. And it is this..."we tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our image of God." The problem today in the American church is that God is portrayed mainly as a God of love. We have rushed to the attributes of immanence even though I am convinced in reading of Scripture that we must first come to study God as transcendent. Check out Isaiah 57:15!

Even though God is love we must never collapse one attribute onto the top of all the other attributes. In our curriculum this year we will learn that God is self-sufficient, eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, immutable along with love, justice and mercy, grace just to name some of the attributes we will be studying. It has and continues to concern me that much in the evangelical church today rushes initially to the God of immanence to the point they never get to the God that is transcendent. Therefore by His grace, we will start with His transcendence and then move to His immanence. Remember the beginning of wisdom is fear of the LORD.

I will conclude this email with the words of John the Baptist (John 3:30) that I think are very applicable for all of us especially in these days "I must decrease and He must increase."

If you want to review the notes or listen to the audio from yesterday class simply click on this LINK. The title for yesterday’s class was “Introduction and Fall 2009 Launch.”

Indicatives vs. Imperatives

Here is a short video on the indicative mood versus the imperative mood as it relates to a Greek verbs. Hey before you get intimidated and think this is too complicated, just take a few minutes to watch. This is a short breakdown as it relates to Romans 6:17-19. I think you will understand from this why we need to learn our Bible, in order to correctly do what the Bible teaches. And that is why we are called the “learning and living the God-centered life” community.
Are you having fun yet?

The Greek language is fascinating and so exact. In this brief audio Pastor Ken Jones gives a clear understanding between the INDICATIVE and IMPERATIVE moods with regard to Greek verbs. As we continue to “chase the Greek verbs” in the New Testament, these types of sound bites will add much to our study.

The INDICATIVE and the IMPERATIVE - Pastor Ken Jones

The Gospel is about God!

Do you think that is obvious to most evangelical Christians today in the church? Well, let me assure you based on what I am hearing it is not! OK, now it’s time to call me old fashioned, narrow minded, rigid, caught up in his old ways - hey, I resemble that remark! So are you ready to be really offended? I don’t want to hear about your story primarily... instead I want to hear Christ’s story. Please LISTEN-LISTEN-LISTEN brothers and sisters, the gospel is not about YOU, the gospel is about CHRIST!

The gospel is good news because it is about Jesus Christ, God's Son who assumed our flesh, lived a perfect life in our place, under the law and fulfilled it perfectly, bore our debt because we had broken the law, and was raised on the third day for our justification. However, today it has become more popular to share our testimonies as to what Jesus has done for me especially as it relates to moral transformation. It seems we want to lead and have primary in our gospel conversations the experience or story of our lives. However your experience and my experience is subjective but the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus isobjective.
I am saved by something external to me and something that is objective. I am not saved by my feelings nor even by my experiences. Do you see why it is so important to keep Jesus at the centerpiece of the gospel and not you??

Personal testimonies are important but only in the sense that they lead us to and point to Christ. Often times a personal testimony comes across as, I was a bum, cussing all the time and on drugs. But since I asked Jesus in my heart my life has turned around, I go to church, help old ladies across the street and sing in the choir. Do you see why non-believers and babes in Christ are more concerned about the gifts than the Giver? We are so interested in selling the benefits, such as escape from hell, no more guilt for sinful acts, eternal life, that we have forgotten to mention that the gospel is... you get God!

I am on a crusade to put God back where He belongs when it comes to the gospel and that is at the heart and center of it! The gospel is not about my story, it is about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ which is an objective truth that is external to anything in me. Because of that objective truth then something subjective has happened which is manifested in my life as transformation into Christ-likeness.

But once again I start with Christ and what He has done that is the basis of the gospel and not with Bert and what he is or has experienced. We don’t want someone to believe or trust in an experience or a moral transformation in us. The difference is between the gospel of God and the gospel of self, let’s be careful what we share, and how we share it!

Here is a short audio clip from the National Christian Broadcasters convention and how many responded to the question which should take precedence the gospel of Christ or personal testimony. To listen just click on to this LINK.

Review and Homework for coming week

This is a review of our class on August 16. The homework assignment for this week is to go through this video in preparation for our class this coming Sunday. You can click on this LINK or watch the video embedded below.

Quote for the day

“On the cross the wrath and love of God are both vindicated, they are both demonstrated, they are both expressed completely, and they both shine out and are utterly fulfilled.”
- Dr. Tim Keller

A preview for this coming Sunday

This coming Sunday we continue in our understanding of the Trinity and the relationship between Jesus and His Father. I also want to start with a brief introduction regarding the importance of knowing God by knowing His word. This will serve to help those that are new and coming to our class with the background they need to understand our curriculum. I want to thank Dr. Bruce Ware who is a friend and great scholar for his teaching in this area of doctrine. In this article I borrow liberally from some of his lecture notes.

There is a big difference between knowing about God and knowing God. One of my favorite illustrations regarding this subject is Tiger Woods. I have followed his golfing career almost since day one. I know that he has 70 PGA victories and is third on the all time list behind Jack Nicklaus and Sam Snead. I also know that Tiger has won 14 majors, his caddie is Stevie Williams and his swing coach is Hank Haney. In other words I know many facts about Tiger Woods but I do not know him at all. I think there is a correlation between this illustration and many today in the evangelical church. They know facts about God that they have accumulated over the years but do they know the God of the Bible.

As you know our class is titled “learning and living the God-centered life.” And that infers that we want to come to a real and genuine understanding so that we can know the God of Scripture. So we might ask the following questions on this subject.
What is at stake in pursuing a knowledge of God?
Does it matter if we know God rightly?
Does it matter if we grow in the knowledge of God?
AW Tozer who wrote Knowledge of the Holy said “The thoughts that we think about God are the most important thoughts that we will ever have. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God.”
In other words, God has so made us that we instinctively and naturally seek to become like that which we esteem most highly.

Do you remember the key verse that Dr. Poplin preached on Sunday a week ago?
Deut. 6:4 ¶ “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!
Deut. 6:5 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

So when you come to these verses what do you think? Of course we are to love God this way because He deserves that kind of love and also because He commands it However there is another reason and here it is, we become like what we love We are hardwired to take on the characteristics of what we adore. Again in the paraphrased words of A.W. Tozer “God has so made us in such a way that we instinctively and naturally seek to become like that which we esteem most highly.” Read More...

Quote for the day

“The point I am making is quite offensive to us today. It is that God hides himself from us that he cannot be had on our terms, and that he cannot be accessed from “below” through natural revelation. In the malls, and in much of life, we encounter nothing like this. We expect access. We expect to be able to get what we want, when we want it, and on our terms.

Here this is not the case. Here we have to be admitted to God’s presence, on his terms, in his way … or not at all. We cannot simply walk into his presence. Here nature does not itself yield grace. God’s grace comes from the outside, not the inside, from above and not from within. It is not natural to fallen human life. We enter the presence of God as those who have been estranged, not as those who have been in continuity with the sacred simply because we are human. We are brought into a saving relationship through Christ; we do not put this together from within ourselves.”

—David F. Wells, The Courage to be Protestant (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Eerdmans, 2008), 190

The theology of "I, ME and MY"

We live in a day and time of consumer mentality. This means I want what I want, where I want it, and how I want it. Unfortunately we see a dangerous trend that has taken us in the church away from a God-centered theology that has moved to a man-centered theology. This basically says “find out what the people want and need and give it to them.”

For those in our class participating in homework, here is your homework assignment for the week. Listen to the following interview, and see if you can bring Scriptural support to the truth in the dangers of narcissism referred to in this interview and that we see today in our culture.

The Narcissism Epidemic
Is Narcissism on the rise? And if so, has it affected American Christianity? On this edition of the White Horse Inn, Michael Horton talks with Dr. Jean Twenge, author of Generation Me, and co-author of The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement.

This interview is very eye opening when it comes to the “WHY” there is such an emphasis today in pleasing ourselves instead of pleasing God!

Approximate length is about 35 minutes, so grab a favorite beverage, get your Bible, notebook and pen and prepare to better understand what and why this is such a dangerous epidemic in culture and the church.

Just click on this LINK

Psalm 119 a devotion on display

There have been a number of visitors in our class during the summer months. So I thought it might be helpful to include a short podcast that gives a brief description of our class and then a devotion in Psalm 119. Hopefully this year these type of podcasts can become a regular part of our growing deeper in God’s word.

As I discussed yesterday at our leadership planning session many of our audio and videos will be in a LINK format. For example as in this podcast for today which I am calling Psalm 119 “devotion on display. Just click on this LINK.

Hope you enjoy!

Review for August 16

Yesterday started out a bit academic as I read the extended definition for the Trinity. This is the kind of definition that takes time to work through and you must put on the thinking cap for this one. But there is rich truth in our understanding the God who is triune, and the God that we worship and desire to know even better.

Again I am including this definition for your reading and meditation as we continue in looking at the relationship between Jesus and God the Father.

The Trinity - extended definition

The Christian faith affirms that there is one and only one true God eternally existing while fully and simultaneously expressed in three persons the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.

Each member of the Godhead is equally God and each is eternally God and each is fully God, not three gods but three persons of the one God head.

Each person is equal in essence as each possesses fully the identically same and eternal divine nature yet each is also an eternal and distinct personal expression of that one undivided divine nature.

Because the Father, Son and Holy Spirit each possesses fully the identically same divine nature, therefore what distinguishes the Persons of the Godhead from each other is not and can not be the divine nature of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

This the one undivided and divine nature is possessed equally, eternally, simultaneously and fully by each of the three Persons of the Godhead.
Therefore what distinguishes each person of the Godhead from the other persons is His particular role, in relation to the other persons and the relationships that each has with each of the other persons.

In light of both the equality of essence and differentiation in role and responsibility it behooves us then to look carefully at each member of the Trinity in relation to the other as this effects the relationship of each member of the Trinity to us.

Due to technical difficulties there is no audio available for yesterday’s lesson but the notes are provided for you at this LINK. Also you can go to Sermon.net and look for the August 16 date which is titled “The Trinity an extended definition.”

Quote for the day

“Let us be very careful that we never exalt any minister, or sermon, or book, or tract, or friend above the Word. Cursed be that book, or tract, or human counsel, which creeps in between us and the Bible, and hides the Bible from our eyes!”

~ J.C. Ryle

Practical Religion, p. 137

Devotion time in 2 Chronicles 14

In my morning devotion I read the prayer of King Asa in 2 Chronicles 14. As I read my thoughts turned to our class and the upcoming year. Let me give some context in order to explain. In this particular section of Scripture we read that King Asa had approximately 500,000 courageous warriors but came up against an army of 1,000,000. I want you to read the prayer of King Asa to this situation in his life that seemed impossible.

2 Chronicles 14:11-13
11 Then Asa cried out to the Lord his God, “O Lord, no one but you can help the powerless against the mighty! Help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in you alone. It is in your name that we have come against this vast horde. O Lord, you are our God; do not let mere men prevail against you!”
12 So the Lord defeated the Ethiopians[a] in the presence of Asa and the army of Judah, and the enemy fled. 13 Asa and his army pursued them as far as Gerar, and so many Ethiopians fell that they were unable to rally. They were destroyed by the Lord and his army, and the army of Judah carried off a vast amount of plunder.

So what is the lesson for us as a community this year? What is the lesson for us individually as we live our lives out before the Lord?

God often puts us in situations that seem impossible. He places us exactly in life where there is no way that our human effort can bring a victory. Are some of you reading this in one of those life situations right now? So let's take God's word and learn from what He has written in order that we may live it in a way that glorifies Him!

Observation #1
King Asa recognizes that he is helpless and powerless against an army twice his size. Can we admit before the Lord that we are powerless to solve this particular life situation? Are we able to swallow our pride and totally fall before Him in a state of helplessness?

Observation #2
King Asa displays genuine faith in that he is depending and relying only on the Lord. He didn't order the latest book on how defeat a larger enemy, he didn't place a call to other kings in the area that could befriend him, he trusted in the Lord.

Observation #3
King Asa doesn't pray that this larger army has come against his own army, but he prays that they have come against the Lord Himself. It shows me that King Asa is absolutely God-centered in his thinking and praying. And he concludes by saying "do not let mere men prevail against you."

How many of us handle our day to day lives with this kind of prayer?
#1 - Lord there is no way that I can do it!
#2 - Lord help me, help me, help me to trust you, to rely on you and to depend only on you!
#3 - Lord would you show yourself powerful and your name as great in this particular situation.

And how does the Lord respond to this prayer of King Asa?
It specifically tells us that the Lord defeated the Ethiopians!

It reminds me of what we need to hear often "the eyes of the Lord look to and fro throughout the earth to strongly support those whose hearts are completely His." (2 Chronicles 16:9)

What are the Ethiopians in your life?
How are you praying?


Why don't people read the Bible

The Trinity an extended definition

The plan this Sunday is to start with the following extended definition for the Trinity. Here is your homework assignment...should you decide to accept it.

Go through this video at least three times and write out the things that standout or the the Lord is impressing upon your heart in relationship to the study of the Trinity.

Remember the purpose of the Bible reading, devotion and study is to glorify God!

Review for August 9

We are back to our teaching on the “Doctrine of God.” This morning the focus was to look at the Trinity and why it is essential to our salvation.

If you want to review the audio or notes from our class today then click on this LINK. It will be titled under “The Trinity is essential for salvation.”

Next week we will cover the extended definition for the Trinity and then look specifically at the four main areas in the relationship between Jesus and God the Father.

Women's Social

This photo and note from Christa Moose who has been busy organizing activities for our community this summer.

Our ladies in SS met this morning  for brunch and a time of sharing testimonies. It was a very powerful time. About 10 ladies attended.

Quote for the day

Cheap grace is the enemy of the church. It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed as a general truth . . . an intellectual assent to that idea is held to be sufficient to secure remission of sins. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without repentance. . . grace without discipleship, grace without a cross . . . Costly grace is the gospel [of the church] . . . It is costly because it costs a man his life, and grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his son . . . it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God . . . When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.”

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (New York, NY: MacMillan, 1959), 45-48.

Postmodern Twister

The Trinity is essential to salvation

Great White Shark and the Glory of God

Nancy and I have been watching “Shark Week” on the Discovery Channel. And during one of the commercial breaks I thought why do we love to watch a program about the great white shark. This fish can attain to lengths over 20 feet and can weigh up to 5000 pounds. Last night we watched a segment in which one great white shark at over 20% of its body weight in blue fin tuna. They just kept throwing these large tunas over the boat and the shark was a perpetual eating machine. It seems each year I am captivated by another version of “Shark Week.”

Why do we sit memorized by a great white shark leaping 15 feet out of the water with the prey in its mouth? It is because we are all hard wired to get near bigness, power and magnificence! After the show was over I noticed that my thoughts had not been on myself at all. There was no attention regarding my self image in any way. When we see great power displayed, like the force of a great white going through the water we are amazed.

Learning and Living Community this is a pointer for us to the supremacy and greatness of our God. He made the great white shark so that as we observe its power it can remind us of God’s power and awesomeness! Think of the things in your life that you have experienced that take your mind completely off of yourself and place it on the object you are enjoying.

For example:
Have you ever seen a sunset over the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean when the sunlight streams through the clouds to bring out shades of red, yellow and violet?
Have you ever been to a movie that kept you captivated for two hours?
Have you ever been a the top of a 10,000 foot mountain and seen a pan aroma of the city below?
Have you ever been to the Indianapolis 500 or the Coca Cola 600 and heard the sound and seen the speed of those race cars?
Have you ever seen the Grand Canyon?
Have you ever seen Michael Jordan play basketball or Tiger Woods play golf?
Have you ever heard Pavarotti sing Nessun Dorma?
Have you ever watched the "Blue Angels" do an air show?

Did you notice that during that time you we focused on the object of your enjoyment and not at all on yourself. When you see excellence, power and greatness demonstrated you are entirely captivated because this is how you were wired and what you were wired for.

We are spring loaded to see, proclaim and enjoy the greatness of God! The Bible reminds us almost at every turn that He is worthy of all praise and exaltation. When we are having the very thoughts of God revealed to us by His Spirit in the Bible, we sit completed amazed and awed by His truth.

So the next time you are being enthralled by the power of a great white shark just know that is but a shadow of the power of the God that we worship and adore.


The truth of Scripture

In my devotion time this week I read the following section of Scripture. Before you read it would you take some time to prepare your heart before the Lord. And now your assignment, interpret this passage from the standpoint of "what did the author intend for us to understand when he wrote it."

Revelation 20:11-15
Rev. 20:11 ¶ Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.
Rev. 20:12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.
Rev. 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.
Rev. 20:14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
Rev. 20:15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

One day all people will stand before the Lord Jesus Christ to receive either a judgment of hell or a reward of heaven. When it comes to the gospel of Christ there will be no fence sitters.
For those of you in our "Learning and Living the God-centered LIfe" community I want you to hear me clearly "correct Bible doctrine saves no one." The only one capable of saving you is Jesus Christ Himself. I am asking you this question "Do you know about Jesus or do you know Jesus?" John 17:3 - This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom "You have sent."

Here is the best Bible doctrine I can teach you. Cast yourself upon the mercy and grace of Christ at the cross. Pray, seek and be desperate as you call on Christ as the only One who can save you from sin, death and hell. Confess whole heartedly your sins, agree with God that they have been and are offensive to a holy God. And then receive Christ as Lord and Savior! Now read John 1:12 - But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name. Read More...

A prayer of praise!

In my devotion time this morning I was struck by this prayer of praise from king David at the end of his life. There is wonderful doctrine in this prayer that leads to faithful living before our great God!

1 Chronicles 29:10-22
“O Lord, the God of our ancestor Israel, may you be praised forever and ever! 11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things.
Community members, may we as the people of God recognize that He and He alone is sovereign over all things and in knowing this wonderful truth let us bring praise and honor to His name!

12 Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength.
Community members, anything that we have it comes directly from God. We can not boast, for it comes via His grace. Again God is sovereign over all wealth, all honor and all of life. There is such rich and wonderful theology in this prayer of praise!

13 “O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name! 14 But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us! 15 We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.

Community members, again and I point this out as to the purpose for the whole Bible. The purpose is that God's name would be demonstrated as great. The purpose is that God would be seen as supreme and glorious! And read how King David prays at the end of his life before the people in terms of his relationship with God. Next notice how king David compares himself. There is no comparison for everything that king David has accomplished has been as the result of God working in and through his life. And then look at his theology on the time we spend here on planet earth. Oh dear brothers and sisters, we have so little time, our days here are like a passing shadow! Read More...

Review for August 2

This morning I provided a quick review of the three areas of focus that continue to be a vital part of our class. They are as follows:
Bible reading
Bible devotions
Bible study

And today I gave an extended teaching that came from a devotion time that I had several weeks ago in Luke 9:23. I had planned to launch back into the doctrine of God in our teaching of the Trinity. But as the week continued I sensed the Lord revealing through His word a need to continue in the costs of becoming a Christian. We looked at a number of different Scriptures from Luke 9:23, to Matthew 10:32-36, along with Luke 14:33 and the other verses that you will find in the notes from today’s class at the link below.

Simply click on this LINK (notes) and you can go this LINK for the audio for today’s class along with the notes.

We talked a lot about the treasuring, delighting and being passionate for Christ. Wasn’t that the point of the parable of the hidden treasure (Matthew 13:44) and the parable of the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45-46)? So here is one of the questions to consider as we come from our teaching this past Sunday - Do you have a passion for God?