Friday, February 27, 2009

I am repenting, but it's not working!

Have you been here? Listen to Pastor Tim Conway talk about repentance.

John MacArthur explains the authority of scripture

This video is a great example of how to sidestep some of the typical arguments when we are sharing our faith. Objections such as "That's your interpretation" or "You're being judgemental" can be responded to by placing the authority of your preaching and assertions squarely on the bible as the Word of God.

Listen to how Pastor MacArthur defers to biblical authority on several points.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Time, Space, and Matter



There is an immeasurably and unimaginably huge universe out there (even though the most important part of it appears to be here). The physical universe is "temporal"—its physical characteristics are defined qualitatively and quantitatively in and by time, space, and mass/energy (usually abbreviated as just "matter").

Any effort to determine the cause of the universe is purely hypothetical. No human was there to observe the processes, so any attempt to understand events of pre-history (especially original events) must, therefore, be based on "belief systems," or presuppositions. While the theories and ideas may be many, the presuppositions can only be of two sorts: 1) there is an infinite series of causes, going back into infinite time, with no ultimate Cause; or 2) there exists an uncaused First Cause that was "outside" or transcendent to the universe.

Many scientists today conduct their research based on their presupposition or belief that nothing exists beyond the natural world—that which can be seen around us—and thus they do not accept that any ultimate Cause exists.

Scientists at ICR hold to the presupposition that the "uncaused First Cause" is the Creator who exists outside of the physical creation He made. Time is not eternal, but created. To ask what happened in time before time was created is to create a false paradox without meaning. There was no "before" prior to the creation of the triune universe of time, space, and mass/energy.

Yet even more amazing (and the universe is amazing) is the historic fact that the Creator-God, after purposefully creating the time-space-matter universe, chose to enter it in the God-human person of Jesus Christ—for the sole purpose of providing a means by which humanity could have a personal relationship with the Creator.

"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Note: The above article was written by The Institute of Creation Research. See their website for more great resources and information on creation science.



Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Plagerism Squared

Here is a video from Wretched Radio called "Plagerism squared" You have to see it to believe it.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The testimony of Jeff Noblit

For at least the last year, there has been a firestorm around the preaching of Paul Washer. Many of his sermons can be found on Youtube. They are convicting and powerful. You have to listen to understand.

Below is the personal testimony of Washer's pastor. We thought it would be informative and insightful to look into one of the lives that has undoubtedly influenced Paul Washer's preaching. It's a bit long, but well worth the time.

By Jeff Noblit

My conversion to Christ occurred at the age of nineteen. The moment faith rose in my heart was actually while driving my car back to college from my home on a Sunday night in February 1979. A radical transformation occurred in my life. The love of God was instantly and overwhelmingly real, and a passionate desire to share God’s love with others was present from that moment. I didn’t really pray any specific prayer, and I certainly did not walk down a church aisle – I was behind the wheel! That night I wept greatly as God’s love, joy, and peace flooded my soul. Over the next several weeks I experienced a deep sense of my sinful unworthiness, wonderfully accompanied by a restful peace of forgiveness through Christ.

I began to read my Bible; I literally fell asleep every night clutching the Scriptures. I began to attend church regularly, something I almost never did before. But which one? I had no spiritual training to speak of and no membership in any church. I visited Baptist churches, Methodist churches, even a Church of Christ. I had many more Baptist friends, so that’s where I attended the most. The thing that seemed to strike me the most in the churches I attended was the obvious lack of passion, sincerity, and obedience to Scripture. On Sunday mornings in my small town, I could look around the packed auditorium and count many who were living in obvious and open sin. There was never any effort at any level of accountability or discipline. Adding to this, I was regularly questioned by well-meaning church members as to whether I had “prayed a certain prayer” to be saved. In my remembrance, no one opened the Scriptures and taught me from the Bible the evidences of the new birth. In ignorance I began to pray a “sinner’s prayer” many times each day hoping one of them would be the real thing, and I would be eternally fixed for heaven and not hell. I began going “soulwinning” and urging, if not forcing, others to pray a “sinner’s prayer.” Something seemed artificial about this, but I continued on because that’s what I was taught to do. I had no idea of how to look for biblical repentance and faith and how they involve much more than “praying a prayer.” From the beginning I was troubled in my heart and was uncomfortable with the state of the church and the understanding of conversion. I was quickly becoming disillusioned with the shallowness and hypocrisy of the churches I attended. I kept wondering as I observed coldness and indifference to spiritual things if these church members had experienced what I had experienced. My heart was burning with love for Christ and with a passion for biblical obedience in His church. I was, however, unbalanced in my spiritual immaturity. A lot of heat and too little light burned within. Looking back now I see that I was too prideful concerning my walk and service to Christ. God is still growing me in these areas. Understanding that I needed baptism to profess my faith, I was baptized at the First Baptist Church of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, on Sunday, May 13, 1979. To this day I remain deeply grateful to precious saints in that congregation who patiently loved and guided me in those critical early days of my new life in Christ.

It was probably by the end of the first year of my Christian pilgrimage that I became so disappointed in the local church that I decided I would commit my life to parachurch ministry.

One day God spoke to my heart. I do not remember exactly when or where, but I distinctly remember a strong impression within my soul. It was as if God etched in my heart with a hot iron stylist these words, “I will do My work through My church. You can get on the inside and be used as part of the solution or arrogantly stay on the outside and continue your useless criticizing.” Again, I do not remember the specifics, but God impressed this upon my heart as surely as I’m breathing today! I had known within months of my conversion that I was to be in full-time ministry. It was all I thought about. Now I knew I was to be a pastor in one of God’s local churches. From that time onward I was totally committed to the pastorate and leading a church to be truly biblical and to be a model of a true church. There was no turning back; there could be no Plan B. It was as Amos said in Amos 3:8, “A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken! Who can but prophesy?” Deep within my heart the lion had roared; my destiny was set. I was terribly ignorant of all that this would mean. I just knew I was called to preach and pastor, and that I must fully trust in the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture. One thing I did know was that my pastoral leadership would most likely be in contradiction to much, if not most, of the typical functions of the average church. I felt that if I took a pastorate and followed in the flow of a typical Southern Baptist Church, I would be as disobedient as Jonah sailing for Joppa. Today I understand as never before that God does not need me, but I am equally convinced that by His grace and certainly for His glory, I was born to reform.

A Good Foundation from which to work

In Luke chapter 12, our Lord was explaining a parable and gave this admonition: “ . . . everyone who has been given much, much will be required . . ..” Well, I’m convinced, comparatively speaking, I was given much in my formative years as a believer and as a young pastor. Though I was grieved over much I witnessed in the church and in the lives and ministries of some pastors, I was also deeply blessed to have some solid men who steered me into straight paths.

Charles Owens Dinkins, Robert C. (Bob) Pitman, Gray Allison, Jimmy Millikin, Charlie Culpepper, Tom Nettles, and John MacArthur. Though there were others, these men were major influences in my early pilgrimage.

Charles Dinkins was my first pastor. His expository preaching and genuine passion for God and His glory were very instrumental in my life. Bob Pitman was my pastor for over eight years at First Baptist Church Muscle Shoals, Alabama. He was also an expositor and taught me the Doctrines of Grace. He also told me to use the commentaries of James Montgomery Boice and to take all my electives in seminary under Dr. Jimmy Millikin. I heeded his advice, and I am still reaping great benefits. Dr. Gray Allison’s love for God, commitment to the inerrancy of Scripture, and his love for souls left an indelible imprint on my soul. He always emphasized repentance in evangelism. Dr. Jimmy Millikin’s seminary classes and his fellowship through the years greatly expanded my understanding of the historic doctrines of the faith, especially, the Doctrines of Grace. He always taught with a heart aflame for God. I’ll always remember how my heart warmed with love for God as Dr. Millikin taught and preached to us in seminary class. Dr. Charlie Culpepper was my mission’s professor at Mid-America Seminary. Dr. Culpepper was greatly used to teach me to love God. I remember him standing in the Chapel at Seminary with tears streaming down his face and saying, “I just want you young men to know God.” Dr. Tom Nettles’ church history classes actually did more to convince me of the inerrancy of Scripture than any other single factor I can remember. He loved the truth and loved to expose us to some of the great men of God who stood for truth in church history. Dr. John MacArthur was kind enough to sit down with me on two occasions and give me counsel and advice. But mostly his tapes and books powerfully influenced me. I saw that it was possible to actually design a church to function biblically.

Though there are many others, these men stand out as key influences in the earliest years of my Christian life and ministry. My heart goes out to so many who were mentored under shallow, topical preaching and unbiblical theology. I was given much in my early days as a believer - a good foundation to build on.

Glory of God Focused

Over sixteen years ago, I sat down and began to prayerfully consider putting together a scriptural purpose statement for First Baptist Church Muscle Shoals. I had been a part of the pastoral staff for over eight years when the church extended the call to become the senior pastor. I was convinced we needed a clear purpose statement to help guide our journey together as pastor and people.I was strongly convinced of two things. First, the primary truth of the purpose statement must be the glory of God. The church is His bride, born and sustained by His power and all is to His glory (Ephesians 3:21). Second, the purpose statement must be thoroughly biblical, not just biblically supported or biblically based (which has come to mean about any worldly idea or philosophy with a Scripture added here or there), but totally and fully God’s will for His church as revealed in Scripture. The purpose statement we composed follows: The purpose of First Baptist Church Muscle Shoals is to glorify God by obediently making and equipping disciples of Christ in the Shoals and throughout the world by the power of the Spirit.

The focus on God’s glory and on being Bible-saturated has sustained me “through many dangers, toils, and snares.” I’m convinced that if any lesser purpose, I would have either left the ministry or run away in fear. The warfare of reforming a church is severe and seemingly at times unrelenting. A strong passion for His glory in the church is the only sufficient anchor to weather the storms of reformation. This is the reason the Doctrines of Sovereign Grace so appeal to me. They give God all of the glory! It is the design of Scripture to glorify God by revealing the greatness of His wisdom, beauty, and might. The Doctrines of Sovereign Grace are undeniably scriptural, giving Him all the glory and humbling man.

A deepening and unswerving commitment to the glory of God was, for my life, the anchor that held the ship of reformation steady through the storms of opposition.

C. H. Spurgeon: I have endeavored, in my ministry, to preach to you, not a part of the truth, but the whole counsel of God; but I cannot harmonize it, nor am I anxious to do so. I am sure all truth is harmonious, and to my ear the harmony is clear enough; but I cannot give you a complete score of the music, or mark the harmonies on the gamut. I must leave the Chief Musician to do that.

Informed and Reformed

Several years ago I received a call from a dear brother I had never met. Most Founder’s Journal readers will probably know his name, Mark Dever. Mark said he had heard about the ministry of FBC Muscle Shoals and would like to meet and discuss our mutual convictions. One afternoon we met at Beeson Divinity School where he was doing some adjunct teaching, and during that conversation some lights turned on in my mind!

The first occurred when Mark asked me what led or inspired me to begin the reforms within my church. Before I could answer, he continued by saying, “Was it a study of church history?” That struck me as very interesting. I admit at that time I was a very poor student of Baptist history or church history in general. I actually had no idea that the reforms I had initiated made my church very much like most Baptist churches of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. But it was something I needed to hear.

My response to Mark’s question as to what led me to reform First Baptist Church was a simple and honest reply, “It’s scriptural.” From there he proceeded to share some of the reforms he was initiating at the church he pastors, Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC. Furthermore, he strongly encouraged me to dig deep into church history and study the old Baptist theologies and policy manuals. As far as older theologies and policy manuals, I was already familiar with J. L. Dagg’s Manual of Theology and Manual of Church Order and James Pendleton’s Christian Doctrines and Church Manual. Mark’s encouragement stirred me on to read and study more. Today I am a student of church history. This practice has edified my life and pastorate immeasurably.

The second light that flickered but did not come on until some time after my conversation with Mark was the concept of being “reformed.” I only had a shallow understanding of what the word meant as far as specific church movement historically or theologically. As I deepened my study of church history, I realized that for the most part (depending on who is defining the term) I am “reformed.” Up until this time when someone would ask, “Are you reformed?” I would answer (partly out of ignorance), “No, I’m striving to be biblical.” Today I suppose I would be accurately described as a reformed Baptist. But more than reformed, I’d rather be viewed as biblical. Actually, they should be the same thing. But woe to the brother who strives after reformation as a system as his first passion and not for God and His glory! The order of these things is essential. Calvinism can be as deadly an idol as Arminianism. We must love God and use systems of theology and not love systems and use God! Systems are all imperfect, being assembled by imperfect men. I love and deeply appreciate the works of Calvin, and the Puritan fathers, and the biographies of Whitefield and Edwards. But I am even more drawn to the sovereign grace Baptists of church history, like Spurgeon, Dagg, Boice, and Pendleton. I also respect the lives and ministry of many of the Anabaptists.

I was well into the pilgrimage of reformation at First Baptist Church Muscle Shoals when I was informed that I was historically and theologically speaking reformed! I was simply trying to establish a true, biblical church. Actually I think it was a gift from God that I was mostly ignorant of “labels” and “systems” until the majority of reforms were well underway in my church. I did not start out looking to a system of theology as helpful as that may have been. I started with a desire to serve and glorify God by leading my church to be fully scriptural. If this is what is meant by reformed then I gladly wear the label. Yet, in my case, I had to be informed that I was “reformed.”

Theology and Methodology

As I mentioned previously, my passion for the local church began soon after my conversion. Early on I began to learn of those who were esteemed as role models within the Southern Baptist Convention. Yet as I examined their churches, I found glaring unbiblical practices and seemingly no efforts to reform these areas. This is one of the reasons John MacArthur’s ministry was so appealing. His church genuinely seemed to strive after obedience in the totality of local church life. As a young preacher, I was growing disillusioned with hugely popular men-pastored churches, which had no active policy of discipline for unrepentant sin. Their membership rolls contained thousands who never attended. I was growing weary of hearing that a mega church had baptized thousands in a year’s span, yet their attendance over the same year remained about the same. Added to that, I learned that more often than not the measure of a successful evangelist was based on three things: Is he humorous, can he get people to walk down the aisle at the end of the service, and can he convince those who do walk down to be baptized. There seemed to be a shallow understanding or a total lack of understanding of essential experience of repentance and faith before one is received into the church by baptism.

These are some of the more glaring examples that God was convicting me of in my earlier years as a minister of the Gospel. To say the least, from receiving members to the removing of members for sin and most points in between, the methodology of the more prominent churches did not match the theology we all claimed to embrace! Increasingly in my heart I began to view this willful neglect not as a weakness but as wickedness. When I would ask church leaders about these unbiblical and unhealthy practices, I would usually be ignored or told, “That won’t work.” Unfortunately, and to my shame, there were far too many areas where either in my pride or in ignorance I too was functioning in a man-centered and pragmatic spirit instead of humbly yielding to, “Thus saith the Scripture.” Yet, God was growing me and still is to this day.

Discipline

I have been on the pastoral staff of my present church, First Baptist Church Muscle Shoals, for over 25 years, and I became the pastor over 17 years ago. I planned to immediately begin reforming many policies and procedures after I was voted in as senior pastor, but God had an accelerated course in mind. On the fifth day in my role as senior pastor, a prominent church leader who had strongly and openly opposed my becoming pastor was found to be in open and scandalous sin. There was much pressure to “sweep the issue under the carpet.” I knew because of the person’s prominence and the scandalous nature of the sin that public correction was necessary. This was best for the guilty person himself, for the good of the local body, and, of course, for the glory of God. The first few months of my pastorate were very difficult and painful to say the least. We lost close to one-third of our active membership. Many who left went about spreading lies throughout the community concerning the dismissal of the member found in scandalous sin. One thing did happen. The commitment to deal with sin in the body in a biblical manner was well established. Over the next couple of years we developed policies and procedures for compassionate discipline. Since then, hundreds have been removed for neglecting church attendance and many others for adultery, drunkenness, and other sins. God has chosen to glorify Himself by letting us see several who were dismissed come back into church membership with humble, repentant hearts! I remember the first time a publicly disciplined member stood before the congregation in tears thanking the church for dismissing him from membership. He stated that God used the dismissal to bring him to repentance and give him victory over the sin in his life. He and all others who have been restored after discipline are received with total forgiveness and are smothered with love and acceptance from the membership. An increased spirit of love and humility within the body always marks the weeks following a dismissal for sin. And usually an increased number of new believers are added to the church.

Elders

After the initial case of discipline, the church went through sixteen months of decline and struggle. After that, things really began to take off. The respect and admiration for myself from the body began to grow so much that I knew this was not healthy. I simply had almost no accountability. The deacons were only servants to the body and had no authority to oversee. The pastor was viewed as a benevolent dictator. I knew I needed help to lead and oversee the church. I was convinced that a plurality of elders was the most biblically healthy model of church leadership. I devised a plan. I would preach a series of messages on biblical elders and then ask the congregation to nominate men for the office. I would then examine the top nominees and exclude any one who was not biblically qualified. The remaining twelve would be presented to the congregation for a two-week examination period. If anyone had any concerns, they had two weeks to bring them to my attention. After two weeks, the men, with their wives at their side, were unanimously affirmed as elders in the church. Originally we called them “the Pastor’s Council” for fear the title “elder” might unsettle some. Since then, we have matured greatly in our understanding of elder ministry and in our policy for selecting and installing them. Today we require a 50-page questionnaire on theology and church polity. For over sixteen years now the love, encouragement, and accountability among the elders has been priceless to me. They have been the key, humanly speaking, to holding the church together in some very difficult times. Their leadership in doctrine and discipline issues greatly enhances my role of the preaching pastor.

Membership Process

Over the first eight years of my pastorate, we experienced incredible growth. As it turns out, more of it was a curse than a blessing. Though our overall “numbers” kept increasing, we also kept increasingly having discipline problems. It took some time, but I finally figured out part of the problem. Many who joined by letter were either unregenerate or terribly shallow in their understanding of the biblical duties of church membership. Many joined not because they loved God and our doctrine but because they were enamored with our size, the excitement, the music, etc. When the new wore off, they returned to their sinful habits and then became a discipline problem. We had already opened up the back door exercising biblical discipline, but now we realized we must close the front door! This realization led to a radically new procedure for receiving members. Today most people attend for months before requesting membership. This gives many opportunities for them to fellowship with members, learning both the blessings and duties of church membership. Then they attend a three-hour class that covers doctrine and church polity. The class places a strong emphasis on the biblical evidences of true conversion. If they desire to continue toward membership, they must meet with a church elder to be examined as to their conversion experience and their understanding of the duties of membership. After this meeting, if all is acceptable, they are asked to sign a covenant statement that emphasizes our policy on discipline. Then they are presented to the congregation where they make five affirmations of faithfulness and service. The congregation responds with an affirmation of love and support to them. This practice, though it is continually being revised and updated, has proven to be a great blessing to the spiritual health of the church.

Salvation by Works in Baptist Life!

First Baptist Church Muscle Shoals has always had an aggressive and passionate commitment to evangelism. We have averaged over 25% of our Sunday School attendance at weekly outreach Visitation for over sixteen years. During the early years of my pastorate, we averaged about 180 baptisms per year! I remember so many, including prominent leaders in the Convention, praising these results! Yet none I can remember ever questioned the genuineness of these “conversions.” If most of these baptized converts were genuine and bore lasting fruit, we would be having close to 3,000 in attendance on a good Sunday instead of close to 1,000 we have today!

Initially we tried to correct this problem concerning those who fell away or had to be disciplined by developing a thorough follow-up and discipling program through our Small Groups. I don’t know of a church whose laity could do any better job of personally, lovingly, and faithfully following up new converts than ours did. Still the percentages of those outside the church who made professions and then fell away didn’t improve. And far too many had to be disciplined.

Then a light went on that was startling and shocking. We had actually been functioning with a shallow if not outright unbiblical understanding of conversion. The reason so many of those we baptized fell away was because they were not truly saved! Urging people to simply pray a prayer or walk down an aisle at the end of a service was vastly different from becoming a new creation in Christ Jesus. Without saying it outwardly, our evangelism emphasized the simple work of walking forward or saying a prayer.

I spent two years intensely studying the doctrine of conversion. I studied all the Baptist Statements of Faith I could find. I read many Puritan fathers along with Spurgeon, Dagg, Boice, Gill, Pendleton, and others. I read the biographies of Edwards, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Wesley, and many more! I could not find one example in Baptist church history or in any Baptist Statement of Faith that taught that one is assured of salvation by praying a “sinner’s prayer.

”We went through a serious reformation concerning our understanding of Gospel preaching and personal soulwinning and especially what constitutes true conversion. Today we never tell a person, “If you prayed that prayer, you are saved.” We certainly do not discourage lost sinners from calling on the Lord in repentance and faith to save them. However, assurance of salvation must be based only on solid biblical criterion. From the Scriptures we should teach them of repentance and faith and the witness of the Spirit within the heart. If salvation is assured only by the parroting of a short prayer, then there would be no need for II Peter 1:10, Hebrews 6:11, and the whole book of I John. Salvation is absolutely by simple faith in Christ, but it is also a substantial faith that transforms the whole person. I’m convinced millions have prayed a prayer in the power of the flesh and have not been born again by the Spirit of God, yet have been assured by well-meaning pastors and laity alike that the prayer “saved them.” God help us!

Today we probably have over eighty seekers who regularly attend church with us. I appeal to them, urge them, even command them and sometimes with tears, to repent of loving self, sin, and this world and turn to receive Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King. And God has been gracious to let us see a steady stream of new believers who give good biblical evidence of repentance and faith.

It’s powerful and gives glory to God when new believers testify before the congregation of how God brought them to see their sinfulness and felt His wrath and the awful pain of being separated from God. Then they share the full assurance that Christ has cleansed them, and they know they are His and now desire to love and serve Him above all others!

One piece of advice to give to pastors. . .

God is most glorified through His church. God is most glorified through His church when His church is biblically healthy. For our churches to become biblically healthy, we desperately need revival and reformation. This revival and reformation will require suffering on the part of God’s shepherd. But His glory is worth it!


Monday, February 23, 2009

There are no atheists in hell!

Spurgeon's sermon, "Last Things" No. 667.


How will unbelief look in the flames of hell? There are no infidels anywhere but on earth!There are none in heaven, and there are none in hell. Atheism is a strange thing. Even the devils never fell into that vice, for "the devils believe and tremble." And there are some of the devil's children that have gone beyond their father in sin, but how will it look when they are forever lost? When God's foot crushes them, they will not be able to doubt his existence! When he tears them in pieces and there is none to deliver, then their sophistical syllogisms, their empty logic, their brags and bravadoes, will be of no avail! Oh, that they had been wise and had not darkened their foolish hearts, but had turned unto the living God!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sales of The Shack continue to grow

Due to continued growth in sales of William Paul Young’s The Shack and the various problems this book poses to Christians, I’ve decided to re-post a video by Mark Driscoll that pretty well sums up the dangers of this best seller.

Below is an excerpt from an article at The Christian Post. I don’t have an opinion on this web site one way or another nor am I aware of where they lean theologically on issues concerning the church.

“For 33 straight weeks, popular novel The Shack has been holding the No. 1 spot on the New York Times best-sellers list for Paperback Trade Fiction and reported a significant growth in sales last month while overall book sales dropped.

"During the five week period from November 2nd through December 7th, Neilson Bookscan reported a 43% growth in sales of The Shack,” reported Brad Cummings, publisher of Windblown Media, which was formed expressly to publish The Shack in May of last year.

'Publishers Weekly reported a 6.6% drop in sales the week ending December 7th while Bookscan reported a 22.5% increase in sales of The Shack for the same time period,' he added in an announcement last week.

Though author William Paul Young had not originally intended the novel to be for public consumption, since its debut on the market, The Shack has shot surprisingly to the top of best-sellers lists and generated large amounts of buzz – both positive and negative – within Christian circles."


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Poetry from Emeal (E.Z.) Zwayne #4

WHO CAN TELL ME?

"Who can tell me where I came from?"
The little boy would ask.
His question was a good one
Yet he faced a trying task.

Each man had different answers
As he was soon to learn.
This brought him great confusion
And it caused a deep concern.

He first went to his schoolmates
And they spoke with one another.
Then the smartest of the bunch said,
"You came from your mother."

Now this had satisfied him,
Yet only for a time.
For as he grew in years of age
His thoughts began to climb.

He then looked all around him
At all that he could see.
And his mind began to wonder
How it all had come to be.

He thought about the cosmos,
The magnitude of space.
And every star and planet
That exists in every place.

He thought about the rounded earth,
Spinning in rotation.
And all four seasons that occur
In yearly circulation.

He thought about the darkness
And he thought about the light.
He thought about the sun and moon
That help the day and night.

He thought of all the creatures
Of the land and sea and skies
Of all the different species
And their variance in size.

He thought of all the plants and trees
And all that each provides,
Each growing from a tiny seed
With roots the soil hides.

He then looked at humanity
With all the different faces.
Different tongues and characters
And all the different races.

He thought of mortal bodies,
With features so profound;
All the senses: taste and touch
And smell and sight and sound.

He thought of reproduction
And the miracle of birth.
He thought of human life itself
And all that it is worth.

He then considered human will:
Weak and also strong.
He thought about the conscience
That discerns the right from wrong.

He thought about emotions
And feelings that arise.
He thought about the love and hate
And tears that flow from eyes.

He thought about the anger
And the joy that does abound.
He thought about the happiness
And sadness that is found.

And filled with curiosity,
This boy would daily strive.
In hopeful expectation
That his answer would arrive.

He spoke with scientific men
Who claimed his question solved.
They told him of a real big bang
And that all things evolved.

He then spoke with philosophers
And many did insist,
That there is no reality
And nothing does exist.

He spoke with many people
From various groups and sects.
And heard the vast opinions
Of various intellects.

Now baffled by confusion,
A very troubled youth.
Unable to discern
What is error, what is truth.

He almost gave up looking,
But he took a second look.
And very unexpectedly,
He found a special Book.

As he opened up the first page,
The mystery came undone.
His questions all were answered
In Genesis, chapter one.

With a nod of understanding,
He smiled, so elated.
For now he surely knew--
In the Beginning, God created . . .


By: Emeal (“E.Z.”) Zwayne

Poetry from Emeal (E.Z.) Zwayne # 3

LOVE

Love me not with words
Speak of patience
Show me haste
Speak of kindness
Show me meanness
What a waste, what a waste

I’m not jealous
Yet you envy
I’m not boastful
Yet you gloat
I’m not rude
I’m not selfish
Yet that’s not what you promote

Talk o f calmness
Talk of peace
Walk in anger
Walk in rage
Talk forgiveness
Yet not cease
Holding grudges
Old with age

I hate unrighteousness
You say
Yet applaud it
Everyday
I hate lies
Yet devise
Sneaky schemes
And foul play

I’ll stick it through with you
Believe in you
And hope the best
Yet in the time of trouble
This was not at all expressed

So love me not with words
For words shall not prevail
Love me in deed and truth
For true love shall not fail


By: Emeal (“E.Z.”) Zwayne

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Poetry from Emeal (E.Z) Zwayne #2

Here's more from E.Z.

LIFEPATH

My life path is narrow, straight
With obstacles and trials great

My company, a faithful Friend
My comfort met, at journey’s end

My freedom shall be from my flesh
My state of conscience new and fresh

No longer captive to my fears
And He shall wipe away my tears

My destination reached at last
Behind me lays my sinful past

Before me stands my Savior, strong
Who walked beside me all along


By: Emeal (“E.Z.”) Zwayne

Poetry from Emeal (E.Z.) Zwayne #1

If you've ever been to a Living Waters event like Transformed, Deeper or the Ambassadors' Academy, perhaps you've gotten a little insight or glimpse into the world of the staff and leadership there.

One such glimpse I had was during the classroom portion of my Academy training last year. Emeal (E.Z.) Zwayne is the Executive Vice President of Living Waters Publications. He gift for the use of words is fascinating. Not only is he a passionate speaker on fire for evangelism and God's Word, but a rapper (if only for the benefit of those around him and for his own amusement) and poet.
I will post a few of his poems starting with this one:
HOPE

What is it that you hope in?
Is it riches, is it fame?
To climb the corporate ladder
So that all would know your name?

Do you hope to be the toughtest,
The roughtest of ‘em all?
The biggest, bravest giant
That will make the rest look small?

Do you hope to rule the world
And conquer every land?
To make everyone your servant
And your wish as their command?

Is your hope in your appearance;
The apparel that you wear?
To have the finest wardrobe
And the picture perfect hair?

Is your hope to gain possessions
Or find the perfect mate?
To be the most artistic
And wondrously create?

Is your hope in finding pleasure
Of every sort and kind?
Or seeking after knowledge
As to satisfy your mind?

What is it that you hope in
What will you gain or earn?
I tell you if it’s temporal
Then it’s guaranteed to burn


I put my hope in Jesus
I await his soon return
He’s my greatest treasure
For Him alone I yearn


By: Emeal (“E.Z.”) Zwayne

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Nietzsche was right!

Friedrich Nietzsche, the famous atheistic German philosopher, is best remembered for his declaration: “God is dead.”

Now, just because he was an atheist and came to some wrong conclusions, that doesn’t mean that everything he said was untrue. In fact, Nietzsche understood the moral issues of his day (the latter half of the 1800’s) in a way that many in our society don’t grasp today—but need to!

I was watching a TV news program just before sitting down to write this article. A representative of the group American Atheists was opposing the choice of Pastor Rick Warren by President-elect Barack Obama to give the inauguration prayer.

It then hit me; many Americans are oblivious to the fact that atheists—with a fervent belief there is no God—are aggressively trying to impose that belief on the culture.

We’ve already seen Nativity displays, Ten Commandments displays, crosses, and other important Christian symbols removed from public places. And did you notice a few weeks ago that more and more people were deleting the name “Christ” from Christmas, largely turning it into a secular/pagan “holiday”?

Sadly, millions of people have been brainwashed to believe that by deleting Christian symbols from society, the culture is becoming more “neutral”.

I would argue that there is no such thing as “neutrality.” Matthew 12:30 clearly states: “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.”

Why did atheists protest against a Christian pastor offering the prayer at a presidential inauguration? Why did they not want the name of Jesus used in that prayer? Well, it’s because the religion of the atheists is atheism. They want all references to the God of the Bible edited out of the culture, because they want their anti-God religion to be imposed instead.

What will be the ultimate outcome if atheists are successful? Here is where I believe atheist Nietzsche was right, when he wrote the following to a person more than a hundred years ago:

“……When one gives up Christian belief, one thereby deprives oneself of the right to Christian morality….Christianity is a system, a consistently thought out and complete view of things. If one breaks out of it a fundamental idea, the belief in God, one thereby breaks the whole thing to pieces: one has nothing of any consequence left in one’s hands.
Christianity presupposes that man does not know, cannot know what is good for him and what (is) evil: he believes in God, who alone knows.
Christian morality is a command: its origin is transcendent; it is beyond all criticism, all right to criticism; it has truth only if God is truth—it stands and falls with the belief in God….”

Nietzsche was right! Indeed, the more this culture gets rid of the Christian God, the more we will see people depriving themselves “of the right to Christian morality.”

In this month (Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday) in which Darwin’s ideas will be promoted more than ever, and as his famous book On the Origin of Species has its 150th anniversary also this year, we need to understand that these celebrations by humanists are a part of getting “rid of the Christian God” from the culture.

What will be the ultimate end for a culture that does this? Here’s a warning from the Book of Judges: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” Judges 21:25.
That is what is happening in America right now. That is why a ministry like Answers in Genesis and its Creation Museum are needed more urgently than ever—to call the church and culture back to the authority of the Word of God, which is the foundation for Christian morality.

So many people still want to live by Christian morality, but they can’t have Christian morality without Christianity. And they can’t have Christianity without the Bible. And they can’t have the Bible without the literal history of Genesis chapters 1-11, which provides the foundation of all biblical doctrine--plus Christian morality.

To help you become better equipped to answer atheists and evolutionists, and to counter the Darwin celebrations in society right now, visit http://www.answersingenesis.org/ for more helpful resources.
*Reprinted from Answers Update, the monthly newsletter of Answers in Genesis.

Monday, February 16, 2009

R.C. Sproul interviews Ben Stein

This interview took place before the release of Ben Stein's "EXPELLED: No Inteligence Allowed." Since then, it has been named #1 Documentary of 2008. You can get updates and more information at the official website.




Saturday, February 14, 2009

Quotable Quote



"The New Testament continues the testimony to the radical depravity of man. In fact, when Paul seeks to present a systematic argument for the gospel to the Romans, he does not begin with 'Jesus loves you' or 'God has a wonderful plan for your life.' Showing that he would fail almost every evangelism class currently offered in seminaries in our land, Paul begins with a dreadfully long discussion of the universal sinfulness of man. Without a single poem, no funny illustrations or multimedia aids, the inspired Apostle drags on about the sinfulness of men, Jew and Gentile alike. It is no wonder this section is so little preached in our day. But might it just be that good news cannot be properly understood unless the bad news is fully realized? Such would seem to be the case."




-James R. White, The Potter's Freedom

Friday, February 13, 2009

40 Years--One verse at a time

This week marks John MacArthur's 40 years of ministry with Grace Community church. Pastor MacArthur preached his first sermon on February 9th, 1969. This also marks the 40 anniversary of Grace to You, the radio ministry heard everyday around the world. Listen here to the very first sermon he preached in1969 at Grace.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pull the plug on atheism

This video is an intro to a new blog where you can find "Free articles and resources by best-selling author and TV co-host Ray Comfort that will help you to pull the plug on the rising tide of atheism."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Don't leave home without them

Thank you to Trish Ramos at fishwithtrish.com for this guest contribution.


Don't leave home without them--Trisha Ramos

If your dog is as lazy as mine, its good to take them on a walk. Emilio and I walk "Baby" our dog almost every day. Baby draws a lot of attention. People come up and say, "How cute...what type of dog is that?" Then I usually say something like, "She's a mix of some sort...we got her when we were living in CA." Then I will hand them a million dollar bill tract and say something to the effect of, "Thanks a million for the complement on my dog!"


Dog's are great conversation starters. If I'm out and about and see someone walking their dog (I love dogs), I'll go up to them and say, "You're dog is so cute...what kind is it?" They're delighted that I paid them a complement on their pet and are happy to respond. Then, I'll say, "Since I like your dog so much here's a million bucks for you to enjoy!" I smile and so do they. Then I add, "It's a gospel tract make sure you read the message on the back." And if I they have time, and aren't in a rush to leave, I'll share the Gospel with them one to one.


The next time you take your dog on a walk bring tracts with you. Did you know that Ray Comfort said that if you find him without a tract in public he will give you 1000 dollars? That's quite a price to pay to be caught without a tract! Then one day Ray was swimming with his grand children and one said, "I gotcha grandpa! You're swimming with out a tract...Ha!" And immediately he reached into the pocket of his swimming trunks and pulled out a wet tract that was completely in tact--he had laminated it!


It's obvious how valuable carrying tracts are to Ray. He won't leave home without them and if he does, the consequence is 1000 dollars. The next time you leave the house to go to the post office, walk the dog, take the kids to the park, etc. don't leave home without a good gospel tract. You just never know when you will need one. You can find good gospel tracts at Living Waters.

http://www.fishwithtrish.com/

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

If you don't love, you can't grieve

Friends,

I was reading A.W. Tozer this morning and wanted to share it with you. The bottom line: If you don't love, you can't grieve. Which leads to another question. If you don't grieve does that mean you don't love? The irony is that when love is missing that should be something to really grieve over. And yet the absence of love prevents true grieving and often when it is called for the most.

Think about God. Do you love Him? Do you grieve over what grieves Him? Now think about the lost. Do you grieve for them? If you love them you will be heart broke with deep compassion for the multitudes. Go share the words of life with someone today. Read more from A.W. below!

In Jesus name,
Rob-roy
-----------------------------------
February 8 The Holy Spirit: He Can Be Grieved


And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. --Ephesians 4:30


Because He is loving and kind and friendly, the Holy Spirit may be grieved.... He can be grieved because He is loving, and there must be love present before there can be grief.


Suppose you had a 17-year-old son who began to go bad. He rejected your counsel and wanted to take things into his own hands. Suppose that he joined up with a young stranger from another part of the city and they got into trouble.


You were called down to the police station. Your boy--and another boy who you had never seen--sat there in handcuffs.


You know how you would feel about it. You would be sorry for the other boy--but you don't love him because you don't know him. With your own son, your grief would penetrate to your heart like a sword. Only love can grieve. If those two boys were sent off to prison, you might pity the boy you didn't know, but you would grieve over the boy you knew and loved. A mother can grieve because she loves. If you don't love, you can't grieve. The Counselor, 51-52.


"Lord, I think I take Your love for granted and consequently forget how grieved You are when I sin. Overwhelm me today with Your love, so that I might be more careful to not grieve You. Amen."

Monday, February 9, 2009

Is the Genesis account really necessary to preaching the Gospel?

When we are out witnessing to others or discussing with others the “gospel”, we need to keep in mind that we are presenting the “good news” of Christ’s death and resurrection. As Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4:



1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,



Paul does not end his explanation of the gospel here. Note very carefully how Paul explains the gospel message later in the same passage. Click the following verse or get your Bible and read 1 Corinthians 15:12-45 for yourself. I will quote the last part to make my point:


For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive… And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.


You will notice that in explaining why Jesus died, Paul went to the Book of Genesis and its account of Adam and the Fall. In other words, we cannot really understand the “good news” in the New Testament of Jesus’ death and resurrection unless we understand the "bad news" in Genesis of the fall of man and the origin of sin with its accompanying penalty.


We as Christians will be pressured into disregarding the Book of Genesis in our witness because it contains so many supposed “myths” about creation and early man but we cannot cave into this mentality. The Genesis account is critical to understanding what sin is! Remember, you may get several definitions of sin such as, “a lack of self-esteem.” But we know sin is rebellion against God. The only way we can define sin as rebellion against God is if there was a literal rebellion. The reason Paul clearly states that we are all sinners is because we are all descendants of the first Adam who lived in a literal garden with a literal tree and took a literal fruit when tempted by a literal serpent, thus there was a literal Fall defining a literal rebellion. If there was no Fall, then what is sin? Who defines it?


In Col. 1:13-17, Rev. 4:11, Rev. 5:9, Paul makes it clear that our Savior, Jesus Christ, is the Creator and our Creator became our Redeemer! Our Redeemer had to be our Creator because all humans are sinners and therefore could not die for sin. We had to have a perfect man die for sin. Thus Jesus was our Creator made manifest into a human so He could be our Savior!


And so I encourage you to read, pray, and seek the Lord in your complete understanding of this foundational knowledge that is necessary to understanding the Gospel. Without this information, who then is Jesus Christ? Why did He need to die? Why could He, and not someone else, die for sin? What is special about Christ? Where did sin come from? Why can we say that all have sinned? Why do we die?


These are important questions that can easily be answered with the foundational knowledge and understanding of the Genesis account. Now in the words of Todd Friel, “Go serve your King.”



Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Legal Transaction

*Re-posted from the December 29th weekly update from Living Waters.

Incorporating the Law into the gospel presentation does many things. It primarily shows the sinner that he is a criminal, and that God is his judge. The Law (in the hand of the Holy Spirit) stops his mouth and leaves him guilty before God (see Romans 3:19-20). It reveals that he deserves nothing but judgment for his crimes. Like a faithful prosecutor, it points its accusing finger, and so the sinner's stirred conscience bears witness and also points its finger at the criminal (see Romans 2:15). The verdict is "guilty," and the condemnation is just.

This is the scenario that I try and paint for the sinner. I do my best to put him in the courtroom on the Day of Judgment, with the hope that he will understand the mercy that God offers him in Christ.
For years when I have done this, I have then said, "You broke God's Law, and Jesus paid your fine in His life's blood." But, early in 2008, I added the words, "It was a legal transaction. You broke God's Law (the Ten Commandments), and Jesus paid your fine. That means that God can legally dismiss your case. You can leave the courtroom on the Day of Judgment because another paid your fine. Does that make sense?"

From the first time I said those words, I noticed again and again, light go on in the eyes of my hearers. While this is certainly not a magic formula, many suddenly understood what I was trying to say when I explained the gospel that way. I can't point to a Bible verse that uses this exact language, but I can say that legality is the essence of the cross. It was God's love for justice and for guilty sinners, that drove Him to Calvary.
Man is unique among God's creation. He is forensic by nature. He intuitively understands the principles of law, retribution and mercy, because he is made in the image of God. That's why every civilization sets up court systems. That's why there is a resonance with a sinner (see Romans 2:12-16). So when Paul then uses the Law to bring the knowledge of sin, he knows that he will find reverberation in their hearts (see Romans 2:21-24).

Ray speaks to James


God is the "habitation of Justice" (see Jeremiah 21:33). We are guilty criminals. The fine has been paid, and we can leave the courtroom. So carefully explaining the gospel message, using legal vernacular to those whose understanding is "darkened," gives new light on what he before perceived to be just an old and irrelevant story. It's as though they suddenly say, "So that's what the cross was about!" And that's what we want them to know.

God bless,
Ray

Ray speaks with Sierra