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Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Need Of The Hour: Weeping Prophets

The following is from a message entitled The Privy Key Of Heaven preached by Thomas Brooks in 1665

Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore’s forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed. - Jeremiah 3:3

Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD. - Jeremiah 6:15

They had sinned away shame--instead of being ashamed of sin. Continuance in sin had quite banished all sense of sin and all shame for sin; so that they would not allow nature to draw her veil of blushing before their great abominations. How applicable these scriptures are to the present time, I will leave the prudent reader to judge. But what does the prophet do, now that they were as bold in sin, and as shameless as so many harlots; now that they were grown up to that height of sin and wickedness; now that they were above all shame and blushing; now that they were grown so proud, so hardened, so obstinate, so rebellious, so bent on self-destruction--that no mercies could melt them or allure them, nor any threatenings or judgments could in any way terrify them or stop them?

The prophet goes into a corner, he retires into the most secret places, and there he weeps bitterly; there he weeps as if he were resolved to drown himself in his own tears.

But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the LORD’S flock is carried away captive. - Jeremiah 13:17

In the times wherein we live, hell seems to be broken loose, and men turned into incarnate devils! Soul-damning wickednesses walk up and down the streets with a whore's forehead, without the least check or restraint. Ah, England, England! what pride, luxury, lasciviousness, licentiousness, wantonness, drunkenness, cruelties, injustice, oppressions, fornications, adulteries, falsehoods, hypocrisies, atheisms, horrid blasphemies, and hellish impieties--are now to be found rampant in the midst of you! Ah, England! England! how are the Scriptures rejected, God derided, and wickedness tolerated!

And what is the voice of all these crying abominations--but every Christian to his closet--every Christian to his closet--and there weep, with weeping Jeremiah, bitterly--for all these great abominations whereby God is dishonored openly. Oh weep in secret for their sins--who openly glory in their sins, which should be their greatest shame. Oh blush in secret for those who are past all blushing for their sins; for who knows, but that the whole land may fare the better for the sakes of a few, who are mourners in secret?

The Sin Of Unbelief

The following is an excerpt from a message entitled The Sin Of Unbelief by C. H. Spurgeon.

"Unbelief, you see, has the Cain-mark upon its forehead. God hates it; God has dealt hard blows upon it; and God will ultimately crusth it. Unbelief dishonors God. Every other crime touches God's territory; but unbelief aims a blow at his divinity, impeaches his veracity, denies his goodness, blasphemes his attributes, maligns his character; therefore, God, of all things, hates first and chiefly, unbelief, wherever it is."

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

It Would Make Him Pull His Hat Over His Eyes!

The following is from a message preached by Thomas Brooks, The Privy Key of Heaven in 1665.

All Christians have their secret sins. Secret not only from other men--but from himself! It is but natural for every man to err, and then to be ignorant of his errors. Every man's sins are beyond his understanding. Thereis not the best, the wisest, nor the holiest man in the world--who can give a full and entire list of his sins.

Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. - Psalm 19:12

"Who can understand his errors?" This interrogation has the force of an affirmation: "Who can?" No man! No, not the most perfect and innocent man in the world! O friends! who can reckon up:

the secret sinful imaginations,
the secret sinful inclinations,
the secret pride,
the secret blasphemies,
the secret hypocrisies,
the secret atheistical risings,
the secret murmurings,
the secret repinings,
the secret discontents,
the secret insolencies,
the secret filthinesses,
the secret unbelievings,

which God might every day charge upon his soul?

Should the best and holiest man on earth have but his secret sins written on his forehead, it would not only put him to a crimson blush--but it would make him pull his hat over his eyes, or cover his face with a double scarf!

Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. - Psalm 19:12

So our prayer should be:

Psalms139:23,24 - Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

So that we might be sure that:

Psalms 19:14 - Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Monday, August 28, 2006

A Short Ode To My Daughter By Marriage

My son and his wife will be married one year this Wednesday. I want to go on record as saying that I love his wife and I am very glad she is part of our family. If she is half as glad as I am all is well!

Here is my feeble attempt at a tribute to her. This was included at the end of a personal letter that will be delivered to her later in the week.

Over the years I have been blessed
With four precious daughters not one less
They have catered to their dad
And only occasionally made him sad

Oh, what a mournful fate
That they will all have a wedding date
They will walk out of my life
Never knowing my strife

They will take another’s name
And hopefully bring it no shame
What’s my consolation?
What will quell my consternation?

It’s been partly done
In my firstborn son
He took a wife
She brightened my life

She chose our name
Though it carries no fame
I could think of none better
Her name is Heather

I Love You Heather!

A Book Review - The Humorous Mr. Lincoln

The Humorous Mr. Lincoln by Keith W. Jennison

I actually started reading this book a couple of years ago and finished it last night. It is 143 pages long. I know you think I am a slow reader. Actually the book laid on my night stand for a couple of years. I had read the first couple of chapters and a couple of weeks ago I picked it up again and started reading and my interest revived.

The title of the book it self is interesting and appropriate. Coming in at 143 pages it is a light-weight as far as biographical material is concerned. You would likely need to search somewhere else for an in depth biography of President Lincoln.

This book is built around his propensity to tell a "yarn". It is really amazing when you realize that he had a story to tell about almost everything. He was a most interesting character, no doubt a man for the times. I have seen one play about Lincoln and read a book on his second inaugural address. One thing about Lincoln he always had a story to tell. This has left the impression with some that he was lighthearted and guilty of buffoonery. According to Mr. Jennison and the contemporary sources he quotes nothing could be further from the truth. Most all of the stories he told had purpose and meaning for the issue/circumstances at hand.

One of the interesting things I learned about Lincoln in this book is that he was notorious for pardoning soldiers who were guilty of cowardice in the face of the enemy. He granted so many pardons that his secretary of war and high military command were often disappointed by the message he was sending to the troops by issuing pardons for these crimes. Nevertheless he continued to do it.

Another interesting story had to do with the north capturing two of Robert E. Lee's sons. The south was going to execute two Union military officers it had captured. The north was threatening to execute both of Robert Lee's sons if they did so. General Lee immediately went to see President Davis (President of the Confederacy) and asked him to write letter to seek a reprieve for his sons. President Davis told General Lee that as long as Lincoln was President he had nothing to worry about. Lee said, Yes but Stanton will have the work done before Lincoln is even aware of it. President Davis wrote President Lincoln. President Lincoln called Stanton to his office and told him that he was not to execute the Lee boys. Stanton argued that the two Union officers the south was going to execute meant just as much to their families as the Lee boys did to General Lee. Mr Lincoln responded by saying, yes this is true, but I have no control over what happens in the south. But to do this act would mark my conscience as a murderer from now on. We cannot not do it, we cannot do it. Mr. Lincoln wrote a note to the commander where the Lee boys were being held and ordered them released and returned to their Father.

The book made me laugh several times. It is an easy, short read and reveals a side of Lincoln that is interesting.

As a side note, I firmly believe the South would have had an advocate in President Lincoln. He was elected to his second term just before the war ended and I believe he would have been gracious in his treatment of the South, unlike the northern Senators and Congressmen who desired to humiliate and punish the South. I know that at the time the South hated Lincoln but he probably would have been their best advocate in the aftermath of the war. Had he lived the time known as Reconstruction would probably have been handled much differently.

If you can find the book I would recommend it for some light reading that is interesting and informative.

An example of Lincoln's humor,

"In December 1862, under the command of General Ambrose E. Burnside, the Army of the Potomac again advanced on Richmond. For two days he sent wave after wave of his crack troops against an impregnable position, and the Burnside withdrew, having slaughtered thirteen thousand of his men.

Among the throng who called daily upon the President was a man who requested that the President issue him a pass to go to Richmond.

Well, said the President, I would be happy to oblige, sir, but my passes are not respected. In the last year and a half I have given passes to two hundred and fifty thousand men to go to Richmond, and not one has got there yet."

Pluto Demoted Not A Planet Any More

Man has spent the last 6,000 plus years discovering and trying to figure out what God did in 6 days.

Revelation 4:11 - Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

A Lighthearted Diversion

These were on my daughter's blog. While I don't usually do these kind of things I thought it would be a nice break from some of the more serious things that we address at our place under the sea.

1. One book that changed your life: Not counting the Bible, Spurgeon’s sermons

2. One book that you’ve read more than once: The Law by Frederick Bastait.

3. One book you’d want on a desert island: Not counting the Bible, A Strong’s Concordance.

4. One book that made you laugh: Reminicenses of a Long Life by J. Pendleton.

5. One book that made you cry: John Adams by David McCollough

6. One book that you wish had been written: The life story of my grandparents and great-grandparents.

7. One book you wish had never been written: The Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin.

8. One book you’re currently reading: The Humorous Lincoln

9. One book you've been planning to read: The Path Between the Seas by David McCollough

1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18, and find line 4: "She was a large imposing woman who was bigger than her husband P.J.” From The Raising of a President by Doug Wead.

2. Stretch your left arm out as far as you can to your right side: King James Bible Left side: Nothing!

3. What is the last thing you watched on TV? I can’t remember

4. Without looking, guess what time it is: About 5 PM

5. Now look at the clock. 5:20 PM

6.With the exception of the computer, what can you hear? Fan blowing behind me and the ceiling fan clicking, one of the girls playing the piano.

7. When did you last step outside? About 30 minutes ago to see my son and wife off who were here sharing pizza with us.

8. Before you started this survey, what did you look at? My daughter’s blog.

9. What are you wearing? A blue shirt with a white criss-crossing pattern, dark blue casual pants and Roper boots.

10. Did you dream last night? Not that I know of.

11. When did you last laugh? When I grab my oldest son by the neck as they were leaving because he had just had a haircut and was trying to keep his shirt collar off his neck. Yes, I did do it on purpose. And yes, I would do it again given the chance.

12. What is on the walls of the room you are in? One whole wall is full of book shelves that are practically filled with books with mementos scattered around. The top shelve has an assortment of coffee cups from places that we have visited from Panama to Ghana To New York City. On the other walls are an assortment of pictures. A Texas flag with a Blue Bell container in front of it with Bluebonnets in it. A 1963 Texas car tag (the year I was born) A book shelve with some of my old books. A picture of an American flag with an eagle. A picture of an old map of Texas with pressed wildflowers. A picture of a sailing ship with words, Jesus, Saviour Pilot Me. A nice picture with an open Bible, the Ten Commandments and an old scale. A Puzzle in a frame of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson working on the Declaration of Independence. Picture of my grandchildren. A Ghanaian Flag

13. Seen anything weird lately? Not that I can think of.

14. What is the last film you saw? Fly Wheel

15. If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy? After tithing and giving a substantial amount to missions I would purchase and do all the repairs to the house that I am living in, buy two new (used) vehicles, Invest the rest for income so I could quit my secular work and devote my full attention to ministry.

16. Tell me something about you that I don't know. There is nothing worth mentioning.

17. If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do? There is more than one thing that needs changing.

18. Do you like to dance? With my wife in private.

19. George W Bush: Is a leader not a follower.

20. Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her? We did call her Sara.

21. Imagine your first child is a boy, what do you call him? We did call our first son Caleb.

22. Would you ever consider living abroad? Yes.

23. What do you want God to say to you when you reach the pearly gate? You have fought a good fight, kept the faith, and finished your course.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Very Interesting Comment

“I can tell which ones have a good heart and which ones have a prideful and haughty heart.”

This comment was made on a message board that I participated in earlier this morning. The context of the statement was people who have conservative views concerning dress/modesty. She knew some who held that view who had good hearts and others who had prideful hearts.

I do not doubt that she can tell this. I am surprised that she would say so. Why???

How can she tell which have a good heart and which have a prideful and haughty heart?

Can she see their heart? I don’t think she would argue that she could. If she can’t see their heart how can she tell which ones have good hearts and which ones have prideful and haughty hearts?

It would have to be by what she sees on the outside. For one it has to do with the way they are dressed, conservatively. Then the attitudes that they express supposedly because of the way they are dressed. I presume it is on observing these things that she can tell what kind of heart they have. Maybe the kind of things they say also factor into her being able to draw conclusions about what type of heart they have.

I really don’t have a problem with this. In fact I believe she has a moral obligation to exercise such discernment. She has judged here. She has judged at the deepest level, the content of their heart.

The reason I am surprised that she would say that is because if someone were to say I can tell who has a good heart and who has a worldly heart that person would be completely dismissed as a judgmental legalist. If a person draws the conclusion that a person has a worldly heart upon what do they base that conclusion? Can they see the heart? No, of course not. They base the conclusion on things such as how they are dressed, the attitudes they express, and the kinds of things they say. They draw conclusions about their heart based upon what they see on the outside.

Why is one a legalist and the other is not???

Why is one judging and the other is not???

Why is one judgmental and the other is not??

The way many people want to define legalism and legalist makes us all one.

In the discussion this morning the individual in question took a quote from my blog to which she had apparently taken offence.

"Now, how serious are we going to be about obeying and pleasing our father? This is going to be determined by how we live, dress, talk, entertainment choices, heart attitudes."

I cannot imagine what would be found objectionable about this comment. Is there any one who honestly believes it does not matter at all how we dress? It does not matter at all how we talk? It does not matter at all what we do for entertainment? It does not matter at all how we live? It does not matter at all about our heart attitudes?

What could possibly be wrong with this statement?

We all judge. We should, to the best of our understanding, make sure it is righteous judgment. Then, in the final Day of Judgment we will give account. We will all find out where we were wrong and where we were right.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Biblical Weight Loss Program

Proverbs 23:1,2 - When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee: And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.

Tough counsel.

Is not our weight problem often the result of being given to appetite. We should be given to Christ. If we were walking in the Spirit and our lives were characterized by temperance we would not have a weight problem.

Help me O, Lord to crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts thereof.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Global Warming

This past week I have commenced reading through the Old Testament again. The last couple of mornings I have been reading about the Great Flood of Noah's day.

I came across a verse this morning that caused me to reflect.

Genesis 8:22 - While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

I was thinking about this verse in the context of all of the warnings we hear about global warming. The interesting thing is that I have lived long enough to remember when the concern was global cooling???? From one extreme to the other in less than 43 years.

I am all for reasonable legislation to protect the environment. I don't know anyone who wants to drink contaminated water or breathe contaminated air. We should take all reasonable measures to protect our natural resources. Having said that I do believe there is a segment (small but vocal) of society who are radical in their thinking in this area. If they had their way industrial production would come to a halt and life as we know it would cease to exist. Really, I don't think these people even think through the logical consequences of their activism.

I also believe that there are those who use the environment agenda to create fear, and in creating fear they create the necessity for more intrusive government intervention. They tend to be the same people who see government as the answer to everything.

It is good to know the Bible. God has promised that while the earth remaineth, seedtime, harvest, summer, winter will not cease. If He said it would not cease then it will not. People allow their lives to be filled with anxiety over things that are unnecessary. Sure there may be periods of time when it is slightly warmer than at other time, or slightly colder. There may even be times when it is considerable colder or warmer than the average. What I don't believe is that we have to make a crisis out of it.

There will be global warming one day but it will be the result of the judgment of God, not because of man's abuse of the environment.

2 Peter 3:9-14 - The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

The universe did not begin with a big bang but it is going to end with one!!

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Precept and the Promise

From C. H. Spurgeon's message, The Sin Of Unbelief.

I should always fufill the precept, if I always believed the promise.

Do Those Things That Are Pleasing

1 John 3:22 - And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

We have been emphasizing prayer this month, thus our preaching has been directed to this area. Yesterday morning I presented a message on The Man Of Prayer. We spent some time searching the word of God for the kind of man whose prayers avail.

A Man Of Holiness.
Proverbs 15: 8 - The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.
Proverbs 15:29 - The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.
James 5:16 - Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
1 Peter 3:12 - For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

A Man Of Obedience.
Proverbs 28:9 - He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.
Psalms 66:18 - If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:
1 John 3:22 - And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

A Man Of Faith.
Matthew 21:22 - And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
Mark 11:24 - Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

A Man Of Perseverance.
Romans 12:12 - Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
Colossians 4:2 - Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;

A Man Of Boldness.
Hebrews 4:16 - Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

A Man Of Humility.
1 John 4:14,15 - And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

I actually began the message in Psalms 109:4 – but I give myself unto prayer.

We would probably all agree that this is a noble and righteous appointment. There is very little to which we could give ourselves that would be more profitable than prayer. Our potential and influence is expanded in prayer unlike any other spiritual pursuit. In prayer we are afforded the opportunity and thus the responsibility to impact our world. It is therefore a worthy object to which we should give ourselves.

It is important that we recognize that we are not addressing the giving of ourselves to a form, a ceremony, a schedule, a habit, but rather a vital principle, a way of life. Too often we isolate prayer as a singular function that takes place in the life of the believer. This, I am convinced, is a mistaken understanding of what true prayer is all about. It is this view that makes our prayers weak and lacking fervency and thus they do not avail.

Prayer is the fruit of a life that is engaged on a spiritual level. We do not pray because we are not spiritual. We pray ineffectively because we are cold and likely carnal. Because prayer is mostly a private matter we can pander to the flesh while at the same time promote our spirituality. Genuine praying is the natural expression of a soul that is intimate with God. Our praying cannot be divorced from our practice. What we are will determine how we pray. Ineffective believers cannot produce availing prayers. Carnality cannot produce a consecrated prayer.

The reality is that if we want to pray better we must live better. If we are unwilling to live better we will never pray better.

A man of prayer is not a carnal, worldly man. Worldliness saps a person of their power and influence with God. Those who love the world and the things of the world will never have prayers that avail much.

As I was preaching yesterday morning I was really stirred by the verse at the beginning of this post. It is not that I have not considered it in depth on numerous occasions, or used it often in preaching and teaching the Word of God. But as is often the case my preaching struck a chord in my own heart.

1 John 3:22 - And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

This first thing of note here is the profound promise that has been provided. “Whatsoever we ask, we receive of him”. What a great promise. What an incentive to pray. What a challenge to self-effacing communion with the Creator of heaven and earth. It is indeed an amazing principle that we can be in such a state spiritually that whatever we ask we receive. This is a promise that is second to none for the believer.

Of course no sooner do we rejoice in the promise than we are sobered up by the condition. Because???? We receive whatever we ask because??? It is the law of cause and effect. The effect is that we receive whatsoever we ask. The cause is introduced by the word "because”. Not anyone and everyone receive what they ask. Only a certain kind of man can lay claim to this grand promise. What kind of man is it? The verse spells it out. “because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight”.

You will immediately notice there are two things involved here, keeping and pleasing. I suppose that when I read this I conclude two things. 1. You can keep and not necessarily please. 2. You cannot please without keeping.

What is it that we are to be keeping? His commandments! Much to the consternation of some God does command. He does not do so for the sake of making our lives miserable. In keeping the commands of God there is great peace, contentment, and security. To hear some talk today you would think that God ceased to require anything with the advent of the New Testament. This is patently untrue, and cannot be substantiated by rightly dividing the Scripture anything can be proved by twisting the Scripture. Let me be clear here. We do not keep the commandments to merit the favor of God. We cannot earn his favor. It is not the keeping of his commandments that justifies us. Justification is only in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have God’s righteousness imputed (credited to our account) by faith in the finished work of Christ. Thus we are made accepted in the beloved. That is why in a judicial sense there is no believer more accepted than another. We are equally justified. We are all equally not condemned. We are all equally accepted. But having been justified we are born into, and adopted into the family of God. Now. God not only sustains a relationship to us as judge. In that relationship we are justified. He also sustains a relationship to us as Father. In that relationship we are either obedient or disobedient. We are not all equally obedient children. In this relationship how we live matters. While we will never be condemned as a defendant, we can certainly be chastened as a child. I am convinced that most people never make this distinction and consequently a plethora of misunderstanding of the believer’s relationship to the commandments of God. The bottom line is if we want whatsoever we ask we must keep his commandments. The Scripture says so. Now you do not have to keep his commandment, but do not expect to receive whatsoever you ask.

But really it goes much further than this. It is not only a matter of keeping his commandments. This is like baby steps. Granted many people never move beyond the baby steps, but nevertheless that is exactly what they are. What we need to develop in our lives is the desire to do those things that please him. This is impossible in the context of wanting to please ourselves. We must come to the place where whatever pleases him is what pleases us. We must develop the spirit that I cannot be pleased with anything that displeases him.

Having had six children (and observing others) I have had the opportunity to see the difference. There are some children that intend to go strictly by the book. Follow the command to the letter, BUT don’t expect me to go one bit further. It is like telling your son to take the trash out. He takes it out and sets it right by the front door. An hour later you come back and say why didn’t you take the trash out. The answer comes ringing back, “I did.” And of course he did. He followed the commandment but he did not do that which was pleasing in your sight. The trash was taken out but it was not deposited in the proper place and a trash bag was not returned to the trashcan. Did they follow the command? Yes they did. Did they do that which was pleasing? No they did not.

This is exactly how many want to obey God. They live their lives under the banners “He didn’t say I couldn’t,” and “He didn’t say I had to”. What a way to live?! This is not a heart that is interested in pleasing. This is the life that is lived in the context of, if there is not a direct command in the New Testament then I am not obligated to do it. Does one have the liberty to live that way? Of course they do. One also has the liberty to live in disobedience to the commandments, that does not make it right.

I have to tell you. I have never been endeared to a child, my own or others, who simply had a heart to follow the letter of the law. The child that seeks to please is a child that is endearing himself to his parents. A child who goes beyond the commandments and does those things that is pleasing in our sight.

Unfortunately we have developed a generation of Christians who are not concerned with pleasing God but themselves. So they will only do what is specifically spelled out in Scripture. They will not apply themselves to being intimate with God, to knowing God, to learning the things that please Him and desire to do those things. Consequently many people do not even feel much like praying. What a difference it would make in our lives, in our approach to the Word of God, in our fellowship with God, if we got out of bed everyday determined to examine everything in the light of whether it pleases God or not, instead of living on the edge saying, “He didn’t say I couldn’t”.

Oh, and by the way, if we will do those things that are pleasing in his sight we can ask whatsoever we will and we will receive it.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

How To Spend The Day With God

adapted and updated from RICHARD BAXTER (1615-1691)
by Matthew Vogan

A holy life is inclined to be made easier when we know the usual sequence and method of our duties - with everything falling into its proper place. Therefore, I shall give some brief directions for spending the day in a holy manner.

Measure the time of your sleep appropriately so that you do not waste your precious morning hours sluggishly in your bed. Let the time of your sleep be matched to your health and labour, and not to slothful pleasure.

First Thoughts
Let God have your first awaking thoughts; lift up your hearts to Him reverently and thankfully for the rest enjoyed the night before and cast yourself upon Him for the day which follows.

Familiarise yourself so consistently to this that your conscience may check you when common thoughts shall first intrude. Think of the mercy of a night's rest and of how many that have spent that night in Hell; how many in prison; how many in cold, hard lodgings; how many suffering from agonising pains and sickness, weary of their beds and of their lives.

Think of how many souls were that night called from their bodies terrifyingly to appear before God and think how quickly days and nights are rolling on! How speedily your last night and day will come! Observe that which is lacking in the preparedness of your soul for such a time and seek it without delay.

Let prayer by yourself alone (or with your partner) take place before the collective prayer of the family. If possible let it be first, before any work of the day.

Family Worship
Let family worship be performed consistently and at a time when it is most likely for the family to be free of interruptions.

Ultimate Purpose
Remember your ultimate purpose, and when you set yourself to your day's work or approach any activity in the world, let HOLINESS TO THE LORD be written upon your hearts in all that you do.

Do no activity which you cannot entitle God to, and truly say that he set you about it, and do nothing in the world for any other ultimate purpose than to please, glorify and enjoy Him. "whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.." - 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Diligence in Your Calling
Follow the tasks of your calling carefully and diligently. Thus:
(a) You will show that you are not sluggish and servants to your flesh (as those that cannot deny it ease), and you will further the putting to death of all the fleshly lusts and desires that are fed by ease and idleness.
(b) You will keep out idle thoughts from your mind, that swarm in the minds of idle persons.
(c) You will not lose precious time, something that idle persons are daily guilty of.
(d) You will be in a way of obedience to God when the slothful are in constant sins of omission. (e) You may have more time to spend in holy duties if you follow your occupation diligently. Idle persons have no time for praying and reading because they lose time by loitering at their work. (f) You may expect God's blessing and comfortable provision for both yourself and your families. (g) it may also encourage the health of your body which will increase its competence for the service of your soul.

Temptations and Things That Corrupt
Be thoroughly acquainted with your temptations and the things that may corrupt you - and watch against them all day long. You should watch especially the most dangerous of the things that corrupt, and those temptations that either your company or business will unavoidably lay before you.

Watch against the master sins of unbelief: hypocrisy, selfishness, pride, flesh pleasing and the excessive love of earthly things. Take care against being drawn into earthly mindedness and excessive cares, or covetous designs for rising in the world, under the pretence of diligence in your calling.

If you are to trade or deal with others, be vigilant against selfishness and all that smacks of injustice or uncharitableness. In all your dealings with others, watch against the temptation of empty and idle talking. Watch also against those persons who would tempt you to anger. Maintain that modesty and cleanness of speech that the laws of purity require. If you converse with flatterers, be on your guard against swelling pride.

If you converse with those that despise and injure you, strengthen yourself against impatient, revengeful pride.

At first these things will be very difficult, while sin has any strength in you, but once you have grasped a continual awareness of the poisonous danger of any one of these sins, your heart will readily and easily avoid them.

When alone in your occupations, improve the time in practical and beneficial meditations. Meditate upon the infinite goodness and perfections of God; Christ and redemption; Heaven and how unworthy you are of going there and how you deserve eternal misery in Hell.

The Only Motive
Whatever you are doing, in company or alone, do it all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Otherwise, it is unacceptable to God.

Redeeming The Time
Place a high value upon your time, be more careful of not losing it than you would of losing your money. Do not let worthless recreations, television, idle talk, unprofitable company, or sleep rob you of your precious time.

Be more careful to escape that person, action or course of life that would rob you of your time than you would be to escape thieves and robbers.

Make sure that you are not merely never idle, but rather that you are using your time in the most profitable way that you can and do not prefer a less profitable way before one of greater profit.

Eating and Drinking
Eat and drink with moderation and thankfulness for health, not for unprofitable pleasure. Never please your appetite in food or drink when it is prone to be detrimental to your health.
Remember the sin of Sodom: "Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness" - Ezekiel 16:49.

The Apostle Paul wept when he mentioned those "Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things" - Philippians 3:19. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13).

Prevailing Sins
If any temptation prevails against you and you fall into any sins in addition to habitual failures, immediately lament it and confess it to God; repent quickly whatever the cost. It will certainly cost you more if you continue in sin and remain unrepentant.

Do not make light of your habitual failures, but confess them and daily strive against them, taking care not to aggravate them by unrepentance and contempt.

Remember every day the special duties of various relationships: whether as husbands, wives, children, masters, servants, pastors, people, magistrates, subjects.
Remember every relationship has its special duty and its advantage for the doing of some good. God requires your faithfulness in this matter as well as in any other duty.

Closing the Day
Before returning to sleep, it is wise and necessary to review the actions and mercies of the day past, so that you may be thankful for all the special mercies and humbled for all your sins.
This is necessary in order that you might renew your repentance as well as your resolve for obedience, and in order that you may examine yourself to see whether your soul grew better or worse, whether sin goes down and grace goes up and whether you are better prepared for suffering, death and eternity.

May these directions be engraven upon your mind and be made the daily practice of your life.
If sincerely adhered to, these will be conducive to the holiness, fruitfulness and quietness of your life and add to you a comfortable and peaceful death.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Seeking Whom He May Devour

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

I have this week had a sobering reminder of these words. A servant of the Lord has been brutally attacked and barely escaped in time to save his life. How did it happen? Why did it happen? I believe the verse at hand provides some insight into those questions.

Be sober

This is a word that literally means to abstain from wine. It implies the need to be discreet. We must be thinking clearly. Wine blurs the judgment and compromises the discernment. To be sober is to have clear judgment and uncompromising discernment.

be vigilant

This is a word that literally means to keep awake, to watch. It implies the need to be alert. We must not allow ourselves the luxury of slipping into the nether world of drowsiness.


The word "because" means a reason is forthcoming. There is a reason we are to be both sober and vigilant. It is the reason that should provide a sense of urgency to the exhortation.

your adversary

We have an adversary. We have one who opposes us. We have one who stands against us. We have an enemy. If an enemy is afoot sobriety and vigilance is certainly in order.

the devil

It is not an unnamed adversary. It is the devil. It is a spiritual adversary. It is a spiritual warfare. We are weakened in our defense when we underestimate the ability and power of the wicked one. The devil is a murder and has been so from the beginning. He is a liar and the father of it. He is a deceiver. He is the declared enemy of all that is holy, pure, righteous, godly, and just. He has set himself to oppose God and consequently opposes all those who align themselves with God. He never raises the white flag of surrender. He is relentless. He is brutal. He is cunning. He is a destroyer. He takes no prisoners. He is a skilled warrior with six millennia of experience. He knows "his doom is sure, for one little word will fell him". So he wages war with wild abandon. He fights as one who has nothing to lose. He abides by no rules of engagement. His is a scorched earth policy.

as a roaring lion

He is a predator. He is especially attracted to the weak and young. His only objective is to satisfy his appetite with the spiritual destruction of the children of the King. He stalks. He waits. He watches. He hunts. He crouches. He springs from the tall grass and is upon his prey before they realize what is happening. He has them by the throat and their very spiritual life is being squeezed from them. He is about to feast on that one who was not sober, who was not vigilant. Unless the "man of God's own choosing" comes to their aid they will shortly be laying lifeless and brutalized on the parched plain of temptation, under the searing sun of fleshly lusts.

walketh about

And he does. He is. He will. At this very minute he may be crouching down in the tall grass of your life waiting ever so patiently for you to move just a bit closer. Come on a little more, a little more, come on...........GOTCHA!! And all the fiends of hell rejoice. They feast on the spiritual carcass of a believer who was not sober, who was not vigilant. He is walking about. He is looking for opportunity. He is seeking to move you in his direction. He stays downwind so as not to be detected. He moves slowly, cautiously, patiently, getting closer and closer. Waiting for the time when you are distracted, inattentive and then when you least expect it he will be upon you. In the struggle will you have the presence of mind and/or the ability to extract your sword from the sheath and dispatch this vile, treacherous, enemy. And why, why was the sword ever sheathed to begin with???? You were not sober, you were not vigilant. Now, you are in a struggle for your spiritual survival.

seeking whom he may devour

Why is it that modern Christianity has transformed the battleground into a playground? Instead of soldiers we are turning out clowns who think it is all about a smile and having fun. While we play he devours and we are in such a state spiritually that when we see the carnage we think it is part of the game. We fail to realize having dispatched one playmate he will be seeking others whom he can devour. Because we have been conditioned to play we have been rendered defenseless. When it comes time to fight and play the part of Mr. Braveheart we will find we have spent far too much time in Vanity Fair to understand the nature of what we are facing.

1 Corinthians 10:12 - Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

Silence in the Midst of Affliction

The following in a portion of a message preached by Thomas Brooks in 1659.

You Have Been Long A-Gathering Rust

("The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod" or, "The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes" by Thomas Brooks, 1659, London.)

Oh! but my afflictions are greater than other men's afflictions are! Oh! there is no affliction like my affliction! How can I not murmur? It may be your sins are greater than other men's sins. If you have sinned against . . . more light, more love, more mercies, more promises, than others--no wonder if your afflictions are greater than others! If this be your case, you have more cause to be mute than to murmur!

It may be that the Lord sees that it is very needful that your afflictions should be greater than others.

It may be your heart is harder than other men's hearts, and prouder and stouter than other men's hearts, it may be your heart is more impure than others, and more carnal than others, or else more selfish and more worldly than others, or else more deceitful and more hypocritical than others, or else more cold and careless than others, or more formal and lukewarm than others. Now, if this is your case, certainly God sees it very necessary, for . . .

the breaking of your hard heart,
and the humbling of your proud heart,
and the cleansing of your foul heart,
and the spiritualizing of your carnal heart,

etc., that your afflictions should be greater than others; and therefore do not murmur!

Where the disease is strong, the remedy must be strong--else the cure will never be wrought!God is a wise physician, and He would never give strong medicine--if a weaker one could effect the cure! The more rusty the NAIL is, the oftener we put it into the fire to purify it; and the more crooked it is, the more blows and the harder blows we give to straighten it. You have been long a-gathering rust; and therefore, if God deal thus with you, you have no cause to complain.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Genesis 1:1

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. - Genesis 1:1

Is there a statement in all the annals of history or philosophy that transcends these nine simple words?

The simplicity of the statement is a fitting contrast to the depth of meaning, the breadth of power, and the expanse of thought required to grasp even a infinitesimal understanding of what these words convey. We memorize them as children and we proceed to see these words as a quaint way of summing up the events of the first chapter of the Bible. Is this not a rather naive view of what is arguably the most profound statement ever made? While it drops like dew on the morning grass before we have time to catch our breath at its simplicity it is transformed into a raging torrent of unfathomable meaning.

It is a statement that comes barreling down upon us in an unrelenting fashion forcing us to either give our consent or voice our dissent. It leaves no room for philosophical pandering or intellectual wrangling. It is a bold declaration of foundational truth. There is no defense offered. There is no apology rendered. There is no argument mounted. It stands like a sentinel over the rest of Scripture declaring that there is a creator with whom we have to do. All men should stand in awe of him, we should fear, we should quake, we should tremble, we should bow down and worship Him who spoke the worlds into existence.

When petty men, with depraved intellect and arrogant pontificating raise their voices in a thunderous roar against His being a voice comes sounding forth the anthem as a thousand trumpets on a still cold morning, IN THE BEGINNING GOD! Try as they may the bulwark is not threatened, the standard is not downtrodden. Philosophy fails to assail it. Science, so called, trembles before it, the atheist raises the alarm against that which they claim does not exist proving all the while that He does in deed exist.

God is more real than anything else. He precedes all things and sustains all things. In Him will all things be culminated. It is for his glory that all things were brought into existence. He is the mighty King of heaven, the earth is his footstool. Let us bow down and worship Him. He transcends time in any direction. He encompasses all that is space. He is all knowing at all times. He does not think, He simply knows. There is nothing outside the realm of His knowledge, nothing hid from the view of His eye, nothing concealed from the sound of His ear. There is no place where He is not. There is nothing that He cannot do. There is nothing hard for Him, there is nothing easy for Him. To Him it is all the same. He is not diminished in power. Omnipotence knows no bounds. In the midst of all His mighty works and the multitudinous manifestations of his power He is not in any degree diminished. All power belongs to Him. In bearing testimony of Himself in the prophets of old he declared, "there is none like unto me."

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

May we find these words worthy of our contemplation and deserving of our reflection. These are words that reach beyond our capacity to fathom. They are not light words, they are weighty words. It is we who must come to appreciate the capacity that we have been given to think, consider, ponder, and reflect. Before we move away from the first verse of our Bible we have material sufficient to keep us thinking, considering, pondering, and reflecting for ten thousand lives. I can think of no better verse to which we can devote our intellectual efforts.


Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Law - It's Function

If the law’s purpose is to bring us to Christ which it does through the “shadows,” “figures,” and “significations” of the carnal ordinances of the Old Testament then the function of the law is to make a compelling case for our need of Christ.

It is of little value to be brought to Christ if one does not understand their need of Christ. Thus the law is introduced to make us aware of our need.

Romans 3:19,20 - Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Herein the function of the law is clearly set forth. It is to stop every mouth. It is to see that the entire world becomes guilty before God. The law is designed to deprive us of any sense of self-sufficiency that we may have. The law hinders man’s ability to claim innocence before God. While men may fail to condemn us the law is a more unforgiving standard. The law was not given that we might be justified thereby. When God gave the law he knew full well that men would not be able to achieve the standard set forth. It was given to convince them of guilt not to imply that they could in some way attain to the righteousness contained therein. Those who set their hearts to keep the law for righteousness will find themselves in one of two conditions. Explaining away the law, thereby admitting their guilt, and/or live in perpetual frustration of their inability. The law was not given to prove how righteous sinners could be but rather that we might have the knowledge of sin. It is not important where we have kept the law, what is important and needs to be addressed is where we have broken the law. Sin is very simply defined in the Scripture as a transgressing of the law.

1 John 3:4 - Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

God sets the standard and where we transgress the standard we have sinned. When we have sinned we are guilty. When we recognize our guiltiness our mouths are stopped and we are ready to be brought to Christ. No amount of righteous living can compensate for where we have transgressed. That is tantamount to saying that you killing a man will not be considered because you have not committed adultery. Or your having committed adultery will not be considered because you have not killed a man. The keeping of one law does not negate the breaking of another.

James 2:10,11 - For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.

It is not enough to be able to claim that you did not commit any particular sin you must be able to say you have not committed any sin. Unless this can be substantiated then you are guilty and your mouth must be stopped and you are now ready to be brought to Christ.

In fact we are taught that the law was given not only to provide the knowledge of sin because there is a sense in which all men have the knowledge of sin.

Romans 2:14 - For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

All men have a sense of right and wrong. We call it conscience. The law was given to heighten and reinforce what our consciences knew to be true.

Romans 5:20 - Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

God wanted to make sure that we saw sin as being against him and in seeing it that way the offense might abound in our understanding. It is important to realize that sin is against God. We do not all determine for ourselves what sin is God has determined that. When we see that our sin is not just against our fellow man or ourselves but against God then the offense will abound in our judgment.

It is the presence of law that is designed to ensure that we see our sin as a transgression. For there can be no transgression where there is no standard to transgress.

Romans 4:15 - Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.

The function of the law is to reveal our sin against God, our transgression against his divine standard. One of the weaknesses of modern evangelistic preaching is the absence of the law. The preaching of the law is important so people can determine where they are at before God and ultimately be brought to Christ. Without the law there is no compelling need to go to Christ. Again Paul presents the laws function in unmistakable language.

Romans 7:13 - Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

Having just stated in verse twelve that the law is “holy, and just, and good” he proceeds to relate the effect of the law in his own heart. He makes it clear that the law was not made death to him. It was not the law that occasions the death of the individual but the transgression of the individual. Paul again reiterates that the law revealed sin in such a way that it might appear sin. The commandment was provided so that sin might become exceeding sinful. This is exactly what people need to see today the exceeding sinfulness of sin.

In conclusion the function of the law is to reveal sin. The purpose of the law is to point to Christ. The law, in serving its function and achieving its purpose becomes our schoolmaster. Serving as our schoolmaster the law seeks to ensure that we are justified by faith. As our schoolmaster the law’s lessons are very simple. We are sinners, transgressors of the law of God. Christ is both priest and sacrifice. Our sin problem is remedied through the priesthood and sacrifice of Christ. If we believe it we are justified.

This is the continuation of several posts I have made over the last few months. They are as follows:

Friday, August 11, 2006

It Is Finished

Yonder, in the distance, at the mount like a skull
A cross is hoisted into the ground bleak and dull.
There hangs a man on yonder cross he is God’s son divine.
He reveals the Father in grace and truth and all that is sublime.

But now see him who suffers so
He is abused, brought very low.
His visage is troubled it has been marred
From his Father’s own presence he has been barred.

If only we could see really see what was happening
We would know that his suffering was more than just a passing.
It was for sin, for yours and for mine
That he suffered so much at this given time.

He who was righteous, had no sin of his own
Was bruised for us, who to sin are so prone.
He agonizes and is terrorized by his enemies sore
Unaware, unaware that it was their sins he bore.

He is bleeding, dying, in agony he is
No comfort, no solace is found to be his.
He hangs there alone forsaken by all
In this desperate hour for the Father there’s a call.

The light hastens away at a very quick pace.
The sun on that day hides its very face.
The Father, the Father will he hear his son’s plea
Or will he die there alone for you and for me?

After hours of suffering and anguish with no compare
The Son of God dies just as prophets had declared.
He drew his last breath and lowered his head
The soldiers came and checked him and yes, he was dead.

Despair need not reign in this bitter place
For powerful words had been spoken for the race.
The words filled the air just before he expired
They give hope to all sinners who to him retire.

It is Finished he cried out, it is finished, it’s done.
The Father is satisfied with the sacrifice of his Son.
Sin’s debt has been paid, its been paid once for all
Rejoice O sinner for upon Christ you can call.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

What! All This And Christ Too?

Most mornings during my devotions I read some Spurgeon. The past few mornings I have been reading from a message entitled, The Peculiar Sleep of the Beloved. He is addressing all the reasons why believers should have such comforting sleep. This morning it was "the sleep of quiteness of soul as to the future." He tells this short story that really challenged me.

"I have heard of some good old woman in a cottage, who had nothing but a piece of bread and a little water; and lifting up her hands, she said, as a blessing, "What! all this, and Christ too?""

Help me O Lord to keep things in their proper perspective!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Back In The Saddle

School starts here on Thursday. Two years ago I didn't think it would ever really matter to me when school started. All of our children have been homeschooled from the beginning (18 years of homeschooling now). Public school schedules have never been a concern in our planning.

Things are different now. A year and half ago I started driving a school bus. A man in our church had been driving one in the evening for several years as he worked for the school district during the day. I begin to think that would be a interesting way to supplement my income and maybe depending on how profitable it was I could quit delivering pizzas.

The pizza delivery business is not near as profitable as it use to be. Our delivery area was curtailed when the franchisee opened another store in the area. So..........not as many deliveries to make. Gas at almost $3.00 a gallon cuts into the profit considerably. They have increased what they pay for mileage but it has not kept pace with the increase in fuel cost. Surprise, surprise. I'm still delivering pizzas one evening a week, hopefully that will not last much longer.

Now the really interesting thing is that I really enjoy driving a school bus. I have always liked driving, and I guess the bigger the better. School buses are pretty big. Of course, no one wants to get behind a school bus, so if they see you coming they dart out in front of you. This is a very dangerous thing to do by the way if any of you ever feel tempted to do that. It would hurt very bad to get run over by a school bus just because you did not want to follow it for a few blocks.

Another irritating thing is when people run your red lights. Don't they teach that in driver's ed any more? Stop when a school bus has its flashing red lights on. There were about eight mornings this past year at one of my stops when a lady driving an SUV would pull around me stop on my left hand side just behind the swing out stop sign and then the minute my lights went off she would speed around me. Did this lady not realize the dangerous situation she was causing just to get to the intersection about 45 seconds faster. This year if she does that I am going to take her license plate number, turn it over to the Lake Jackson Police so they can mail her an opportunity to enrich the coffers of the city of Lake Jackson. I just learned that the local police would do that at the end of the year. I will be watching for her from day one.

The most surprising thing to me was how I grew attatched to the kids. I never dreamed that would happen. I thought, "I will go drive the bus and come home." Well the kids, even the unruly ones ended up being fun most of the time. Only about five times did I have to send home a report with a child and contact their parents because of behavior problems. Oh, there were some bad days, but mostly nothing I couldn't handle between me and the student. Had a principle come out a couple of times and yell and scream at them. I have actually been quite surprised how some of the administrators and teachers talk to the kids. I thought wow, you can say that??????

I like transporting kids more than pizzas. It is more responsibility, human lives instead of pepperoni. More of a challenge. I have never had a pizza talk back to me or misbehave although I have wanted to bite more than one. I kind of enjoy the challenge of dealing with students even when they are misbehaving and being disrespectful but I've never wanted to bite one. You know every year you see the accounts where some bus driver loses it and grabs a kid and shakes them or hits them. I do understand why that happens, but it never should. That driver has not been dealing with their issues properly. I hope I am never guilty of something like that. It would be very embarrassing when your reason returned.

Of course my family loves it too. Partly because they know I love it, and partly because I have stories nearly every night. True stories. They love the stories, they know some of my bus kids by name even though they have never met them.

After a few months of seeing these kids twice a day; before and after school. The mornings are usually very quiet. The afternoons that is a different story.......... But seeing them every day, twice a day you begin to get an idea of where these kids are in their lives. To be honest most of it is pretty sad. I have been moved to compassion on occasion. Then sometimes you know that this kid comes from a family where relationships are being built. One sixth grade girl this past year. Every morning she was always waiting out side her garage and her mother was waiting with her. She would give her mom a kiss, get on the bus, the mom would wave at me, and then wave at her daughter. On occasion when I dropped her off in the afternoon and her brother who rides another bus would arrive at about the same time. This only happened a few times. But I believe every time it happened the big brother took the sisters instrument and carried it to the house for her. I thought, now that girl has a strong home life. And you know what? She was a quiet girl and well behaved, even on the rowdiest of days. There were only a few like that. Several were going to homes where there was no one to meet them.

I am going to apply for a different route tomorrow. It pays quite a bit more for just a little more time. It is in my town so I can probably park the bus at a local school and cut my drive distance to a distance that I could actually walk or ride my bike. Save gas money. If I get it I guess another whole group of kids will work their way into my heart. If I don't well, I get to keep my old kids with the exception of a few who move up and off my bus and a few who move up and onto my bus.

Whatever the case, who knows maybe I am driving a bus for just such a time as this..........Maybe I can make just a little difference in one kid's life. Now, that would be nice.

Glad to be back in the saddle! Yeeeehaaaaw!!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Greek Word For Baptism

In a recent comment a pedobaptist who visits my sight on occasion took exception to my position concerning the Baptist view that immersion is the only valid mode for New Testament baptism. I argued briefly that our view was supported by a three-fold cord. The three-fold cord consists of 1. The pattern set forth in the New Testament of immersing believers. 2. The Greek word from which baptism is translated. 3. The fact that immersion is a more fitting picture of the gospel (death, burial, and resurrection).

He took exception to all three although allowing some credence to my third cord but it was dimissed as being unable to “carry the weight I was asking it to carry”. He pressed the issue concerning my second strand referring back to the Greek word from which we get the word baptism. I thought I would answer his pressing question here so everyone would be sure and see it.

The pedobaptist wrote:

Any comments on the baptism-as-sacrament-and-ordinance part of what I wrote earlier?

This is what he wrote earlier and I believe it was concerning this statement that he was wanting me to comment.

No, you do not have to be baptized to be saved, and that isn't just one Lutheran speaking. That is what the Lutheran Confessions teach.

A plow plows, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ saves. Therefore baptism also saves because it is an expression of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in water and word. And it doesn't matter that the recipient of baptism may have already trusted Christ for salvation. That recipient is saved through faith before baptism, but the plow still plows and baptism still saves because that's what the Gospel does.

I really do not have any questions about this, I am content to let it stand as written I think it speaks volumes.

He then proceeds to ask this question for the second time.

I would be curious as to what the Baptist response is to the use of the Greek word for baptism in Mark 7:4, where the immersion of couches is obviously not in view. Given the indisputable fact that the Bible uses the word to mean something other than immersion, how can you continue to argue that the only proper translation of it is immersion?

Mr 7:4 - And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.

In Mark 7:4 the Greek word is baptismos bap-tis-mos’; ablution (ceremonial or Christian):— baptism, washing. This Greek word is only used three other times in the New Testament.

Mr 7:8 - For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
Heb 6:2 - Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
Heb 9:10 - Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

So in three of the four times the word is used it is washing/washings. One time it is translated baptisms.

The word baptize is used seven times in the New Testament.

The word baptized is used fifty one times in the New Testament.

The word baptizing is used four times in the New Testament.

The word baptizest is used once in the New Testament.

The word baptizeth is used twice in the New Testament.

The word baptism is used twenty two times in the New Testament.

The word Baptist is used fifteen times in the New Testament.

This is a total of 102 times some form of the word baptize is used.

66 of those times it is the Greek word baptizo bap-tid’-zo. It is not baptismos. The definition for baptizo is to immerse, submerge; to make overwhelmed (i.e. fully wet).

Vine’s Expository of Biblical Words, provides the following information. Noun – Batisma – Consisting of the process of immersion, submersion and emergence. Verb – Baptizo – To dip, was used among the Greeks to signify the dying of a garment, or the drawing of water by dipping a vessel into another. Plutarchus uses it of the drawing of wine by dipping the cup into the bowl and Plato, metaphorically, of being overwhelmed with questions.

Liddell and Scott Greek Dictionary – To dip in or under water; of ships, to sink or disable them; to be drenched; soaked in wine; over the head and ears in debt; being drowned with questions, getting into deep water; to draw wine by dipping the cup into the bowl; to dip one’s self.

Thayer Greek Dictionary – To dip repeatedly; to immerse, submerge (of vessels sunk); to cleans by dipping or submerging; to wash to make clean with water, to overwhelm.

Twenty-two of those times it is the Greek word baptisma bap’-tis-mah. This is the word that is translated baptism. It means immersion.

Fourteen of those times it is the Greek word baptistes bap-tis-tace. This is the word translated Baptist. It means a baptizer. Only one time is Baptist translated from another Greek word and that is in Mark 6:14 where it is translated from the word baptizo.

There is a Greek word for sprinkle (rantidzo) it is never translated into any form of baptism. There is a Greek word for pour (keo) it is never translated into any form of baptism.

The pedobaptist wrote in an earlier comment:

The Greek word for baptism properly translated means to wash with water. This washing CAN be done by immersion, but according to scripture (Mk. 7:4) immersion is not always in view when that word is used. So that strand of your cord was created out of thin air by a mistaken understanding of the Greek language, which is even proved erroneous by scripture itself.

These comments I believe will be found hard to support in light of the foregoing information. You want to take the Greek words batizo and baptisma and change them to baptismos to suit your argument. You will probably still claim that this strand of my cord was created out of thin air but again I am more than prepared to let a candid world decide.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Judge Not That Ye Be Not Judged

Is there any verse of Scripture better known than these six words? Often times the words are tweaked just a bit to accommodate a persons view. “You are not supposed to judge.” “You shouldn’t judge others.” “You shouldn’t judge me by your standards.” “We all have the right to decide for ourselves.” “What makes you think you are so right.”? “You shouldn’t force others to accept your views.” All of these statements are basically rooted in the concept of “judge not lest ye be judged.”

Let me remove the mystery and plainly set forth my premise. We do and of right ought to judge. We have a solemn responsibility to judge all people, actions, and beliefs. In doing so we are to refrain from being judgmental. We are to judge without being judgmental. Now this may very well be a difficult balance to achieve but it is the challenge that is before us. Some because of their desire to not be judgmental refuse to acknowledge that they judge and in fact often become judgmental of those who exercise judgment and promote their judgment. Some in the prudent exercise of judgment become judgmental. I think what is important to understand is that the simple act of judging is not necessarily being judgmental; it can be but should not be denounced out of hand as being so.

My experience has been that people load this argument into their artillery in a desperate attempt keep at bay the encroaching truth. In hiding behind shallow bulwarks they seek to take refuge from searing truth. Little do they realize that they are exposed on the flank and will in the Day of Judgment give account for hiding behind Scripture taken out of context in order to dismiss truth.

I am fully persuaded that there is tremendous misunderstanding about the whole concept of judging. It is worth considering that even the “heavy weight” verse of the no judging crowd is in fact not what they make it out to be. The context will not allow it.

Matthew 7:1 - Judge not, that ye be not judged.

Allowed to stand alone a very compelling argument could be made that we are not to judge. Herein lies the problem with the argument it does not stand alone. It has a context. We will deal with the immediate context (vs.2-5) later. For now let us simply browse through the extended context of the chapter.

Matthew 7:6 - Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
How will we know dogs and swine unless we make a judgment? Obviously not everyone is dogs and swine. This requires judgment.

Matthew 7:15 - Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
How are we to know false prophets without making a judgment?

Matthew 7:16 - Ye shall know them by their fruits.
What is their fruit if it is not their manner of living? Their fruit is their actions, their decisions, their attitudes, and their beliefs. So it is by judging their lives that we know them.

Matthew 7:16-20 - Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
I cannot imagine anyone reading this and saying all of this can be done without judging. The fact is we are being exhorted to judge.

Having put to rest the use of this verse once and for all (at least for my own conscience before God) we can move beyond this and consider some other scripture which people are either not familiar with or they choose to dismiss.

John 7:24 - Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

Now we have before us a verse that is not nearly so popular because it does not provide false cover for carnal living and false doctrine. We have before us a verse that indicates that not only are we to judge it characterizes the kind of judging we are to do. It is to be righteous judgment. It is not to be judgment that is according to appearance.

Now does that mean that we do not consider appearance? Obviously it does not mean that. What it means is that things are not always what they appear. So we are to be very astute in our judgment. We are to be very meticulous in our judgment. We are to judge righteous judgment. How do we know what is righteous? As always we are led right back to the scripture as our final authority. It is not what we think but what saith the word of God that matters. When we judge in that context we are rendered capable of judging righteous judgment.

I think it may be important to consider the word “judge” here and examine just exactly what it means. The word has been marginalized and stigmatized to a great extent and that is a great disservice to a very respectable word.

Strong's concordance provides the following information concerning the word judge.

krino kree’-no; properly, to distinguish, i.e. decide mentally or judicially; by implication, to try, condemn, punish:— avenge, conclude, condemn, damn, decree, determine, esteem, judge, go to law, ordain, call in question, sentence to, think.

The online Bible Greek lexicon provides the following:

1 to separate, put asunder, to pick out, select, choose
2 to approve, esteem, to prefer
3 to be of opinion, deem, think, to be of opinion
4 to determine, resolve, decree
5 to judge
5a to pronounce an opinion concerning right and wrong
5a1 to be judged, i.e. summoned to trial that one’s case may be examined and judgment passed upon it
5b to pronounce judgment, to subject to censure
5b1 of those who act the part of judges or arbiters in matters of common life, or pass judgment on the deeds and words of others
6 to rule, govern
6a to preside over with the power of giving judicial decisions, because it was the prerogative of kings and rulers to pass judgment
7 to contend together, of warriors and combatants
7a to dispute
7b in a forensic sense
7b1 to go to law, have suit at law

The Greek word is translated the following ways in our beloved King James Bible:

judge 88, determine 7, condemn 5, go to law 2, call in question 2, esteem 2, misc 8

Is there anything here that makes the word automatically a candidate for the gallows? I don’t think so. In fact you can examine this information and determine exactly what it is we are to be doing when we are instructed to judge righteous judgment.

I think that when we judge we are simply discerning, distinguishing, deciding, determining, and decreeing. In fact as you read the previous sentence you judged my opinion. You discerned it. You distinguished it from other things that you believe. You decided about it. You determined you view of it. You are even now decreeing about at least in your own heart, and possibly in the comment section of this blog before all is said and done. So before you dismiss it examine the truth of it in you own heart. I am convinced that it is not up for debate whether we do this or not. All that is up for debate is whether we are judging righteously and that will only finally be determined on the great Day of Judgment.

In the New Testament alone we are exhorted over and over again to judge.

1 Corinthians 5:12 - For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?
We are to judge them that are within.

1 Corinthians 6:1-5 - Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?
There can be no misunderstanding this.

1 John 4:1 - Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
Try (test) the spirits. Judge them.

Matthew 24:4 - And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
Does this not require judging?

Acts 17:11 - These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
“Whether those things were so,” indicates judgment was taking place.

Romans 16:19 - For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.
Judging between good and evil.

1 Thessalonians 5:21,22 - Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.
Prove all things. How do we do this without judging?

Revelation 2:2 - I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
The church at Ephesus was commended for judging those that said they were apostles.

Acts 20:29 - For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
No way to know a wolf in an atmosphere of judge not lest ye be judged.

1 Timothy 4:1 - Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
The tragedy of not exercising discernment.

2 Ti 3:13 - But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
Evil men and seducers??? Sounds like somebody has to be judging.

Romans 16:17 - Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
Mark them that ye might avoid them. Some would even say this is being judgmental. Don’t they have the right to believe what they choose? They certainly do and I have the right to not associate with them.

Philippians 3:17 - Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.
How can we do this if we do not judge?

2 Thessalonians 3:14 - And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.
Does this not require judging?

1 Corinthians 3:3 - For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
Today no one can say another is carnal without being labeled as judgmental. So be it. If it is carnal living it is carnal living.

Galatians 1:7 - Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
How can anything be perverted in a context of accepting everyone and not judging anyone?

Galatians 2:4 - And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:
False brethren as compared to what, true brethren?? How could this distinction be made without judging?

Colossians 2:8 - Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
If we do not judge we will be spoiled.

2 Peter 2:2 - And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
Pernicious ways. Someone is judging.

2 John 1:7 - For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
A deceiver?? Someone is judging.

Jude 1:19 - These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.
Sensual, having not the Spirit. Some one is judging.

Matthew 18:17 - And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
Can this be fulfilled without judging??

2 Thessalonians 3:6 - Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.
The judge not lest ye be judged crowd would have to believe that we should not accuse a brother of walking disorderly. The scripture tells us there are times when it is appropriate.

1 Timothy 6:3-5 - If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
Is there a more “judgmental” statement in all of scripture?? I can just see someone telling Paul, “Judge not lest ye be judged.”

Titus 3:10 - A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;
Heretick???? Sounds like some very serious judging going on.

I do not give all these verses to simply overwhelm my readers. But even people who claim to read their Bibles completely over look all the times we are instructed to judge righteous judgment. There is no excuse for such oversight.

The fact is we all have a responsibility to judge righteously. We will judge. The question is will it be righteous judgment.

Proverbs 14:15 - The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.

We are not to believe every word. It is simple minded to do so. I don’t even expect my own congregation to believe every word I say. I constantly encourage them to have a Berean spirit and search the Scriptures whether these things or so. I, even as (especially as) a preacher of the word of God, enjoin the spirit of Christ when he told the people, “search the scripture.” It is a prudent man that takes responsibility for his going, his doing, his behaving, and his believing. But it is not prudent to look well to his going by trusting in his own heart to direct his steps.

Jeremiah 10:23 - O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.

Men must be looking into the “perfect law of liberty.” They must be examining their lives in the context of scripture. The minutes some one says to me, “judge not lest ye be judged,” or any similar statement I know all they are saying is leave me alone, I don’t like what you are saying and I am unwilling to assess your views on their merits and in the light of scripture. The only way to look well to our own going is to start with scripture and end with scripture.

Having exercised discernment, deciding the issue, and determining the course of action the die has been cast. The declarations will be made, whether privately or publicly. Now is where the “rub” comes. Having declared our sentiment based upon our discernment we run the risk of being derided as judgmental. Can we be judgmental? Of course we can. All of us can. The term “judgmental” is the sanctified equivalent of “intolerant” in the political arena and it is designed to silence those who hold views that make us uncomfortable.

Having decided the issue and made our distinctions we have effectively formed a position. When we decide something is right, then that likely means that some other things are wrong. When we decide someone is righteous that likely means we have determined others are not righteous. Most people claim to have no problem with having staked out a position as long as in the process you accept their opposing position on the same footing. In other words, their view is that is fine if you believe that, but just don’t question my beliefs. How can a man of integrity not do so? If I have determined something to be true I have yet to figure out what is so surprising that I likewise conclude other things to not be true. You cannot determine truth without the effect of determining error. If we refuse to consider the opposing view on equal footing with our own then we have committed the imprudence of judging. When really all that is happening is consistency is being maintained.

Now how do we refrain from being judgmental? This is a question of equal importance and one that merits some discussion. Admittedly, once we have staked out a position we must exercise great caution that we do not become judgmental. Many people are even those who profess to loath it. Again it is much like in the political arena. Who are the most intolerant if not those who decry it in others? They are intolerant of people that hold opinions against theirs. For example to stake out a position that homosexuality is an abomination before God is considered intolerant by many, when in fact they are intolerant of the views of those who stake out that position. Likewise, people say you are being judgmental when you stake out a position say on separation/modesty. Maybe I am, but it is not because of the position. If I am it is because of the attitude, spirit, and motivation. Thus those that disagree with the view must judge attitude, spirit, and motivation. It has been my experience that many people in doing so become very judgmental.

One thing we should keep in mind so that we do not fall into a judgmental attitude is that we do not know anything, as we ought. The Bible says as much.

1 Corinthians 8:2 - And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.

Does that mean we can’t know anything. Well, I don’t think so. Does it mean we can’t believe anything strongly? I don’t think so. Does it mean that we should embrace humility? Most definitely. At the same time it does not mean that we hold our views lightly or insincerely, or loosely. If we believe we understand what the scripture teaches about a matter we should hold to it resolutely, recognizing that we still have a lot to learn even in that which we hold resolutely. Our views should always be changing, slowly over time. I know mine have. Some things I use to believe and practice I don’t any more. Some things I use to believe, I’m not so sure of anymore. There is uncertainty. Some things I believe more strongly than I once did. Why? Because no man knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.

When my views are engaged they will inevitably change. They will be adjusted to compensate for a new understanding that has been acquired or they will be strengthened. They will be strengthened because they have been supported by the new arguments that others put forward to support my view or because the objections that have been raised have been satisfactorily answered in my own mind. If my views need to be adjusted it will be because information has been gained that does not fit consistently into my present understanding, so I either live with the inconsistency or adjust the view. Most people live with the inconsistency for a period of time because they do not know what to do about it. My views may also need to be adjusted because the opposing view raises issues that do not have a good answer in the context of my present understanding.

When we recognize these realities we safeguard ourselves from becoming judgmental.

Another thing to keep in mind is that according to 1 Corinthians 8:1 – Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.

The knowledge puffing up part is remedied by taking into account the previous discussion about knowing nothing, as we ought to know. With the knowledge that we have our objective should be to edify. Our desire should be to build up others. Now be careful with this. This does not mean that you just exude positive feelings about whatever people are saying or doing. This is not edifying. Edifying can only genuinely take place in the context of truth. When truth is abandoned true edifying cannot happen.

In fact what are we told about charity in 1 Corinthians 13? Charity rejoiceth not in iniquity. Here again we see the necessity of exercising judgment. The only way to identify iniquity is to judge actions, attitudes, and manner of living against the standard of God’s word. So part of building up is not rejoicing in iniquity. The whole concept of charity edifying is a tough thing. Consider the following:

Proverbs 27:6 - Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

In fact I would even say that when our enemies wound us they are doing us the service of a friend. We don’t like to be wounded. It is not comfortable. In fact it can be very uncomfortable. When a doctor cuts us to do surgery we do not count him an enemy but a friend. When we put people off by saying “judge not lest ye be judged” or other similar statements we are often denying that which may very well minister spiritual power to our lives.

In fact back to our original verse in Matthew 7 along with its immediate context we discover several principles to keep in mind to guard against being judgmental.

Matthew 7:1 - Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

There are several things to note here.

You will be judged as you judge.
All judgment should begin with self-judgment.
The mote needed to be removed out of the brother’s eye.
The only qualification for doing so was removing the beam out of your own eye first.

It is not that he was not to judge, but not before he judged himself. If it does not start there then it starts in the wrong place. This requires some serious self-examination, an intensity of self-examination that we probably cannot do on our own. Thus we pray:

Psalms 139:23,24 - Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

It is the matter of being a wise reprover.

Proverbs 25:12 - As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.

There is nothing more appealing than a relationship where you have a wise reprover and an obedient ear.

There is also the matter of recognizing that we are not the final Judge before whom men will stand.

Romans 14:10-13 - But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.

Clearly our attitudes must be guarded here. I think the best way to keep this in check is not to say, “Well, you way is probably just as right as my way.” This is not prudent and truth is not well served in this kind of mindset. I think it is best just to recognize that not all will agree and be content for the day of judgment to make it clear once and for all. This seems to be the prudent, God honoring position. No one will stand before me on the day of judgment likewise I will not stand before any who dispute my views. We will all stand before the great God of heaven; it is there we will give account for all of our judgments. I, for one, am content to have it so.

This has gone on for seven pages. If I were a better writer it could probably be condensed. There is probably enough here for a few minutes of contemplation. I think that this is an area that could be expanded upon and other issues addressed relating to what is before us……..maybe another time.

In summary we have a divine injunction to exercise discernment and pass judgment on people and beliefs. In doing so we are to refrain from being judgmental. We are to stake out positions as God gives us understanding from his word and then humbly and tenaciously hold to these positions. We need to abandon the notion that we are to not judge and instead embrace the principle of judging righteous judgment.