December 31, 2010

As We Enter A New Year...

I wish, my brothers and sisters, that during this year you may live nearer to Christ than you have ever done before.  Depend upon it, it is when we think much of Christ that we think little of ourselves, little of our troubles, and little of the doubts and fears that surround us.  Begin from this day, and may God help you.  Never let a single day pass over your head without a visit to the garden of Gethsemane, and the cross on Calvary.  And as for some of you who are not saved, and know not the Redeemer, I would to God that this very day you would come to Christ.  I dare say you think coming to Christ is some terrible thing: that you need to be prepared before you come; that he is hard and harsh with you.  When men have to go to a lawyer they need to tremble; when they have to go to the doctor they may fear; though both those persons, however unwelcome, may be often necessary.  But when you come to Christ, you may come boldly.  There is no fee required; there is no preparation necessary.  You may come just as you are.  It was a brave saying of Martin Luther’s, when he said, “I would run into Christ’s arms even if he had a drawn sword in his hand.”  Now, he has not a drawn sword, but he has his wounds in his hands.  Run into his arms, poor sinner.  “Oh,” you say, “May I come?”  How can you ask the question? you are commanded to come.  The great command of the gospel is, “Believe on the Lord Jesus.”  Those who disobey this command disobey God.  It is as much a command of God that man should believe on Christ, as that we should love our neighbor.  Now, what is a command I have certainly a right to obey.  There can be no question you see; a sinner has liberty to believe in Christ because he is told to do so.  God would not have told him to do a thing which he must not do.  You are allowed to believe.  “Oh,” saith one, “that is all I want to know.  I do believe that Christ is able to save to the uttermost.  May I rest my soul on him, and say, sink or swim, most blessed Jesus, thou art my Lord?”  May do it! man?  Why you are commanded to do it.  Oh that you may be enabled to do it.  Remember, this is not a thing which you will do at a risk.  The risk is in not doing it.  Cast yourself on Christ, sinner.  Throw away every other dependence and rest alone on him.

Charles Spurgeon, A New Year's Benediction

HT: All Things New

http://www.needgod.com/

December 30, 2010

What She Read in the Newspaper, Saved Her Soul

A dying publican’s wife, in England, recently gave the following encouraging testimony, as narrated by the evangelist who visited her.  He says, “I was asked to go to a public house in Nottingham and see the landlord’s wife, who was dying.  I found her rejoicing in Christ as her Savior.  I asked her how she had found the Lord.  “Reading that,” she replied, handing me a torn piece of paper.  I looked at it and found that it was part of an American newspaper containing an extract from one of Spurgeon’s sermons, which extract had been the means of her conversion.  ‘Where did you get that newspaper from?’ I asked.  She answered: “It was wrapped round a parcel which was sent me from Australia.”  Talk about the hidden life of a good seed!  Think of that, a sermon – preached in London, conveyed to America, an extract reprinted in a newspaper there, that paper sent to Australia, part torn off (as we should say, accidentally) for the parcel dispatched to England, and, after all its wanderings conveying the message of salvation to that woman’s soul.  God’s Word shall not return unto Him void.

Charles Spurgeon, Prince of Preachers by Lewis Drummond

This book can be read online here via Google books.

December 16, 2010

A Social Network Christmas

If Facebook was used to update people on the lives of Elizabeth and Zechariah regarding the birth of their son John and Mary and Joseph and Jesus' birth (Luke 1 & 2), this is how it might have looked.

This is an amazing work that was created and certainly, to the Glory of God.



Thanks to the J.C. Ryle profile on Facebook for sharing this.  Please share the video and check out the site dedicated to quotes from J.C. Ryle.

December 12, 2010

Don't Stand at a Distance, Please Come In

But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy; In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple. Psalm 5:7

Many misunderstand the word fear in this verse thinking it implies an emotion of being afraid, but it does not.

The word fear in this verse is the Hebrew word yirah (yir'âh), which means moral reverance.  So, to fear God, is to revere Him in the awesomeness of whom He is, the Creator of heaven and earth, the one who came to this world in the form of human flesh, who died for your sins and the sins of the world.

Don't fear going to church if you haven't been there in a long while.  His mercy toward you is far greater than you and I could possibly fathom, especially concerning how great is His love that He has shown toward us.  (Romans 5:8)

Jesus said that he would not turn away anyone who comes to him. (John 6:37).  Come to Him today.

I believe that as you come to know the immeasurable multitude of mercy that He has bestowed upon you that your life would reflect His great love for you through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ whom has atoned for your sins.

The follow is Charles Spurgeon's commentary from his work, The Treasury of David concerning this verse. 

May it be an encouragement to you this Lord's Day.

With this verse the first part of the Psalm ends. The Psalmist has bent his knee in prayer: he has described before God, as an argument for his deliverance, the character and the fate of the wicked; and now he contrasts this with the condition of the righteous. “But as for me, I will come into thy house.” I will not stand at a distance, I will come into thy sanctuary, just as a child comes into his father's house. But I will not come there by my own merits; no, I have a multitude of sins, and therefore I will come in the multitude of thy mercy. I will approach thee with confidence because of thy immeasurable grace. God's judgments are all numbered, but his mercies are innumerable; he gives his wrath by weight, but without weight his mercy. “And in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple,” - towards the temple of thy holiness. The temple was not built on earth at that time; it was but a tabernacle; but David was wont to turn his eyes spiritually to that temple of God's holiness where between the wings of the Cherubim Jehovah dwells in light ineffable. Daniel opened his window towards Jerusalem, but we open our hearts towards heaven.

Reference
Meyers, R. (2006). e-Sword. The sword of the Lord with an electronic edge (Verson 7.8) [Computer software].

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

November 25, 2010

Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart - VIDEO

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families.


George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation (1789)


It is quite a blessing to read Washington's numerous acknowledegements to God throughout his proclamation too.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to"recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.






G. Washington (his actual signature)

November 20, 2010

The Reward of Faithfulness

Recently, I had a challenging opportunity to compose a sermon for a class assignment and the requirement was to choose a chapter of the Bible and preach an exposition of the chapter within a 10-minute time limit. 

The passage I chose was Matthew 25 and it is 46 verses long.

This was quite a challenge since I have previously worked in passages that were 7-10 verses long.  Choosing this passage was more of a greater challenge to myself because I wanted to test my ability to summarize the chapter in an expository manner.

John MacArthur provides a great 2-minute overview of what it means to preach in an expository manner.  Just click here to listen to his explanation.

My expository skills are getting better with each new opportunity I receive and I am applying what I have learned and read from the various books regarding expository preaching too.

Chapter 25 of Matthew's Gospel contains three parables:
  • The Parable of the Wise & Foolish Virgins
  • The Parable of the Talents
  • The Son of Man Will Judge the Nations
I admit that preaching an exposition of a chapter from the bible leaves out a lot of meat that can be fed to people and probably wouldn't choose to preach chapters on a regular basis in the future.  I hope that at least what you will see in this video will at least whet your appetite just a little bit, to study the chapter a little further for personal edification.

I received a passing grade for this assignment and had to prepare for a second preaching experience the following week, which I may put up here on my blog before Thanksgiving.

So, for now, here is a 10-minute expository overview of Matthew 25 and The Reward of Faithfulness.



November 14, 2010

Sunday Morning Psalm: God is Full of Compassion

But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth. Psalm 86:15. 

“But thou, O Lord.” What a contrast! We get away from the hectorings and blusterings of proud but puny men to the glory and goodness of the Lord. We turn from the boisterous foam of chafing waves to the sea of glass mingled with fire, calm and serene. “Art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.” A truly glorious doxology, in which there is not one redundant word. As we have before observed, it is mainly transcribed from Exodus 34:6.

Here is compassion for the weak and sorrowing, grace for the undeserving, longsuffering for the provoking, mercy for the guilty, and truth for the tried. God's love assumes many forms, and is lovely in them all. Into whatsoever state we may be cast, there is a peculiar hue in the light of love which will harmonize with our condition; love is one and yet sevenfold, its white ray contains the chromatic scale. Are we sorrowful? We find the Lord full of compassion. Are we contending with temptation? His grace comes to our aid. Do we err? He is patient with us. Have we sinned? He is plenteous in mercy. Are we resting on his promise? He will fulfil it with abundant truth. 

Charles Spurgeon, The Treasury of David










Reference 

Meyers, R. (2006). e-Sword. The sword of the Lord with an electronic edge (Verson 7.8) [Computer software]. 

November 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Marines

On November 10th 1775, the Continental Congress established a corps of Marines, which was led by the first Commandant of the Marine Corps, Captain Samuel Nicholas.

Ever since the day I earned the title of Marine, November 10th has always been a very special day to celebrate. 

My father and grandfather both served their country as Marines and it was a great privilige for me to see both of them present when I graduated from Parris Island, on 14 February 1992.  Yes, on Valentine's Day.

The Marine Corps has changed a bit since I got out in 1995, mostly in tactical training, equipment and technology and it is definitely way better than when I was in ('91-'95).

One thing hasn't changed much though and that is the way the Marine Corps makes Marines.  It is still the hardest 12 weeks of life changing training every recruit experiences and never forgets.

Every Marine never forgets their Senior Drill Instructor and maybe even recalls the name of their receiving DI too.

My platoon drill instructors were SDI SSgt Hayes, DI Sgt Shannon, DI SSgt London and my receiving DI, Drill Instructor Sgt Edwards.

For many that were on the Island, Parris Island that is, we may all remember the Chaplain, Chaplain Dennis Rocheford, an enlisted Marine who served in Vietnam who later got out, earned his degree and later a masters in divinity, returned to serve as a United States Navy Chaplain.  Attending his services on Sunday during bootcamp was very refreshing.

I even remember the DI I met at the recruiting office in Mount Vernon, New York, just 3 months prior to leaving for boot camp, DI Sgt Aviles.  The honor roll call could not leave out SSgt Pitre who recruited me to join too.

Marine Corps League Birthday Brunch, November 2009
This birthday post could not go without expressing my gratitude to my wife, Kristi who is now part of those Marine Corps celebrations too.  She married one crazy Marine that's for sure. LOL

I've been fortunate to have seen the world a little bit, met some great guys both on and off active duty, still keep in touch now with many through Facebook where the bond is still the same and it's a bond that just cannot be explained and only Marines really understand.  Semper fi.


In 2008, I had the great privilige to be reunited with two guys from my bootcamp platoon 1017.  Shawn Jeffords (L) and Peter Bragino (C).  We had a great time reminiscing about our days when we were terrorized by our DIs and equally spoke of the great admiration and respect we have for them, because they made us to be like them and they lived up to making us what they said they would do on the first day of training.

These are my recruits. I will train them to the best of my ability. I will develop them into smartly disciplined, physically fit, basically trained Marines, thoroughly indoctrinated in love of Corps and country. I will demand of them, and demonstrate by my own example, the highest standards of personal conduct, morality, and professional skill.

And they did.

So today, Marines around the world celebrate the birth of our beloved Marine Corps, in every clime and place, in the snow of far-off Northern lands and in sunny tropic scenes, I wish all Marines a Happy 235th Birthday of our beloved Marine Corps.

Semper fi!


October 28, 2010

Understanding My Calling


I am currently taking a Spiritual Formation Capstone class at seminary and I have an assignment to write what I believe God has called me to in ministry.

This assignment involves sharing what our calling is with a few classmates, to discuss the calling as well as any other matters that may either enhance or hinder our progress toward fulfilling God's call to ministry.

What follows next is what I have briefly written for this assignment.

As a result of seeking God, at this point in my life I understand my calling is to serve God in a pastoral/evangelistic role of ministry for His church.

A brief explanation of my calling is that I would serve as a shepherd of the church, preaching and teaching the Scripture in a systematic, expository manner on a weekly basis.

The benefit of this will primarily keep myself as the pastor and the congregation, submitted to the authority of Scripture as it is studied and proclaimed on a daily/weekly basis.

October 22, 2010

My First Youth Ministry Sermon

Back in June, I was looking forward to a great opportunity to preach at a youth service at First Assembly of God in Brookfield, CT, but that didn't happen. 

The reason I didn't preach that night in June is because my wife had coordinated with my Pastor, Phil Morgan and the Youth Pastor, Sean Cooper, to throw a surprise birthday party for my 40th.

Needless to say, my wife was successful and she totally had me surprised and everyone that was involved did a great job helping pull it off too.

Fortunately, a second opportunity was given to me, to preach and this time there were no surprises in store. 

October 20, 2010

Happy to be a Slave for Christ

A friend of mine and I started a reading group on Facebook where we commit to reading a New Testament letter consistently for 30 days.

John MacArthur recommends this for anyone that wants to develop a stronger recall of Scripture and as other letters/books are read in the same manner, you will begin to see connections between passages also, i.e., the Gospel of John and 1, 2, 3 John.

In the discussion thread of the group, I shared that the New King James Version uses the word bondservant in James 1:1, to describe his relationship to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and I briefly shared my thoughts there and post them here.

This word in Greek is δοῦλος / doulos (doo'-los), which means a slave, either literally or figuratively; frequently therefore in a qualified sense of subjection or subserviency.

James lived in complete slavery to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and made himself a servant to the Gospel. He wasn't captured physically and thrown into slavery. No, he was bound to serve God as a slave because of Christ's death on the cross.

October 16, 2010

In Christ Alone

"We must never admit any other thing or person into our heart’s confidence as our hope of salvation, but rest alone in Jesus as we received him at the first. His divinity, his manhood, his life, his death, his resurrection, his glory at the right hand of the Father--in a word, Jesus himself must be our heart’s sole reliance. This is absolutely essential. A temporary faith will not save: a continuing faith is needed."  Charles Spurgeon



October 11, 2010

Is the Doctrine of a Crucified Jesus Preached Today?

“Let us never doubt for a moment, that the preaching of Christ crucified – the old story of His blood, righteousness, and substitution – is enough for all the spiritual necessities of all mankind. It is not worn out. It is not obsolete. It has not lost its power. We need nothing new – nothing more broad and kind – nothing more intellectual – nothing more effectual. We need nothing but the true bread of life, distributed faithfully among starving souls. Let men sneer or ridicule as they will. Nothing else can do good in this sinful world. No other teaching can fill hungry consciences, and give them peace. We are all in a wilderness. We must feed on Christ crucified, and the atonement made by His death, or we shall die in our sins.” John C. Ryle

This quote from John C. Ryle regarding the power that is in preaching the cross that Jesus died upon, as John the Baptist said, takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

The preaching of the cross has become foolishness, not only to those that are perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18), but has also become foolish to some pastors too, for the sake of not offending people, or to minimize Christ's suffering and death by completely escaping it, just to get people to pray some sort of prayer, to accept Christ into their lives without fully comprehending their violation of God's commandments and the eternal peril that it places them in.

No friends, the cross upon which Jesus Christ died is the single act of God that makes the difference for every person and their life here on earth as well as their eternal life after death.

The cross exonerates a person from God's judgment upon them, where it relieves them from any obligation, duty, or task of self-redemption, which fails to satisfy God.

October 7, 2010

Breathe on Me, Breath of God

One of my classes this semester is Worship Arts & Discipline and one of the books we have to read this semester is titled, The Divine Hours - Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

I am not one to follow a liturgical set of prayers on a daily basis, but I am enjoying drawing closer to God through the practice of the daily office prayers, in the morning (Morning Office), midday (Midday Office) and evening (Vespers Office).

I don't know how much I'll continue with the practice of the Daily Offices after the semester, but I have been enjoying this brief time of reading and prayer.

Even though this post is the day after what I read, last night's reading included a hymn, Breathe on Me, Breath of God and was written by Edwin Hatch (1835-1889), which I found to be a great blessing and the first time I've ever read of this hymn by Edwin Hatch too.

October 2, 2010

From My Heart

"It is written, 'My House is the house of prayer, but you have made it a den of robbers'" (Luke 19:46).

The week preceding Jesus' crucifixion is one of the busiest recorded in Scripture. The reason would seem to be that Jesus knew His time was drawing near. For this reason, everything He did was for a purpose-from the riding on the donkey to the cursing of the fig tree; from the breaking of the bread to the cleansing of the temple.

The Temple of Jerusalem was a major attraction for visitors. The temple was also, unfortunately, a major place of business. The merchants sanctioned by the temple abused their business privileges. They also used special temple currency which was exchanged at unfair rates. However, this was only a small part of what upset Jesus.

The temple was divided into several courtyards. The outermost courtyard was the one designated for the Gentiles. They could not go any further into the temple, so that was their place for prayer.

Here there was buying and selling, hordes of people talking, and animals all over the place, which made it hard to focus on fellowship with their heavenly Father. Not only that, but God was being robbed, too.

Today we face a similar problem in our churches. They have become social centers where we come to catch up on the latest gossip or to be seen by the masses. And when we casually approach worship, we hinder someone else in the process. They are hurt by our gossip or they can't focus on God because of our distraction.

Now let's take it the next step toward personal application. Is my body the "temple of the Holy Spirit?" Everything I do with my body, I do it to God's temple. Am I robbing Him or is my body truly a house of prayer?

Dear Jesus, Come examine your temple and cleanse me of all that distracts me from You. Amen.


This was taken from the Topic Notes section of the e-Sword software.



Reference

Meyers, R. (2006). e-Sword. The sword of the Lord with an electronic edge (Verson 7.8) [Computer software].

September 30, 2010

The S.O.S. 31 Day Challenge

"If there existed only one man or woman who did not love the Saviour, and if that person lived among the wilds of Siberia, and if it were necessary that all the millions of believers on the face of the earth should journey there, and every one of them plead with him to come to Jesus before he could be converted, it would be well worth all the zeal, labour, and expense. If we had to preach to thousands year after year, and never rescued but one soul, that one soul would be full reward for all our labour, for a soul is of countless price." Charles Spurgeon


September 29, 2010

I never made a sacrifice

"David Livingstone, a missionary to Africa during the 1800s, once said during a speech to students at Cambridge University, "People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much time of my life in Africa...I never made a sacrifice. We ought not to talk of 'sacrifice' when we remember the great sacrifice which He made who left His Father's throne on high to give Himself for us."


"...we have a great High Priest who passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God,..." Hebrews 4:14

  • Have you ever said, or believed that you were making a great sacrifice to serve God?  
  • How does Livingstone's perspective of God's sacrifice of His Son, change your perspective of what sacrifice means to you?

September 17, 2010

How much do you treasure God's Word?


David Seymour. “Blind Boy Reading With His Lips”.
1948. Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
"Back in the gospel of Mark, if you will. I was reading this week in kind of a random fashion and I came across an interesting little account. In France, some years ago, there lived a poor blind girl and she had obtained, according to the writer, a gospel of Mark in Braille and it was all she had. She read it with the tips of her fingers and she read it and read it and read it until her fingers became callous and her sense of touch diminished so that she could no longer distinguish the characters.

"In an ill-conceived effort to re-sensitize her fingers, she cut them at the ends which only made them less sensitive. And the writer says she felt that she must now give up her beloved book of Mark and weeping she pressed it to her lips saying, “Farewell, farewell, sweet Word of my Savior.”

"To her surprise, her lips more delegate than her fingers discerned the form of the letters. All night she perused with her lips the book of Mark and overflowed with joy at this new acquisition.

"I don’t know how precious the book of Mark is to you, but I hope it’s precious, it is to me. And the more I go through this book, the more hours I spend in this book, the more precious it has become to me."

Taken from the sermon, Spiritual Blindness, Part 2 by John MacArthur


I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.  Job 23:12

September 16, 2010

The Danger of Being Lukewarm

Last night, I had the privilege again to lead our mid-week Bible Study at First Assembly of God in Brookfield, CT.  I am humbled by Pastor Phil Morgan's continued trust and confidence in me, to faithfully exposit the text for the edification of the congregation.

We are reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan and the chapter title for this week's study is, Serving Leftover's to a Holy God and I decided to focus on one of the verses in the chapter for last night's study, which was Revelation 3:15-18.

15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.



The audio for this sermon has been uploaded to the podcast player of this site to listen, or you can subscribe to the podcast and have it downloaded to your iTunes account too. 

Just click on the PODCAST page tab at the top of the horizontal red bar above and follow the instructions there regarding how to add future messages to your iPod.

I hope you are challenged greatly in your walk with Christ, in light of the text that was addressed in this sermon.

Here were a few of the questions that were asked for the small group discussion after the chapter video was viewed.
  • What do you think it means to be "lukewarm?"
  • Francis Chan says in his book Crazy Love, those who live like the lukewarm won't be in heaven.  Do you agree or disagree with that statement and why?
  • Is it true that the church has made the "non-fruit" bearing Christian a means of making Christian living easier?  Why or why not?
  • How does God measure our lives?  (1 Corinthians 13:2-3)

September 12, 2010

Jealous for Your Love

I read Spurgeon's morning devotional and I love the way Spurgeon describes, in this short message, the jealousy of God's love for the believer.  His love is constant and unchanging for the believer and how I wish that my love for him was the same, each and every day.

But I thank Him for His grace and His work in and through me, to conform me into the image of His Son on a daily basis.

Let the world become jealous of your love for Christ and of God's love for you.

God is Jealous - Nahum 1:2

Your Lord is very jealous of your love, O believer.  Did He choose you?  He cannot bear that you should choose another.  Did He buy you with His own blood?  He cannot endure that you should think that you are your own, or that you belong to this world.  He loved you with such a love that He would not stop in heaven without you; He would sooner die than you should perish, and He cannot endure that anything should stand between your heart's love and Himself.  He is very jealous of your trust.  He will not permit you to trust in an arm of flesh.  He cannot bear that you should hew out broken cisterns, when the overflowing fountain is always free to you.  When we lean upon Him, He is glad, but when we transfer our dependence to another, when we rely upon our own wisdom, or the wisdom of a friend-worst of all, when we trust in any works of our own, He is displeased, and will chasten us that He may bring us to Himself.  He is also very jealous of our company.  There should be no one with whom we converse so much as with Jesus.  To abide in Him only, this is true love; but to commune with the world, to find sufficient solace in our carnal comforts, to prefer even the society of our fellow Christians to secret intercourse with Him, this is grievous to our jealous Lord.  He would fain have us abide in Him, and enjoy constant fellowship with Himself; and many of the trials which He sends us are for the purpose of weaning our hearts from the creature, and fixing them more closely upon Himself.  Let this jealousy which would keep us near to Christ be also a comfort to us, for if He loves us so much as to care thus about our love we may be sure that He will suffer nothing to harm us, and will protect us from all our enemies.  Oh that we may have grace this day to keep our hearts in sacred chastity for our Beloved alone, with sacred jealousy shutting our eyes to all the fascinations of the world!

September 10, 2010

Fall Semester Text Books

So here is the list of books that I have to read this semester.

For my Old Testament class on the book of Daniel:
  • Apocalyptic Imagination, 2nd edition, John J. Collins
  • Prophecy and Apocalyticism. The Post Exilic Social Setting, Stephen Cook
  • First Enoch: A New Translation; Based on the Hermeneia Commentary, George W.E. Nickelsburg
  • Sinai and Zion, Jon Levenson
For my Proclamation & Communication (Preaching) class, the following books:
  • On-Purpose Leadership: Multiplying Your Ministry by Becoming a Leader of Leaders, Galloway & Bird
  • Big Idea of Biblical Preaching: Connecting the Bible to People, Scott Gibson
  • Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, Chip & Dan Heath
  • Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive, Noah J. Goldstein & Steve J. Martin, Robert B. Cialdini
  • Unleashing the Word: Rediscovering the Public Reading of Scripture, Max Maclean & Warren Bird
An optional book I can read, among 28 to choose from, I'll read either:
  • The Moody Handbook of Preaching, John Koessler, or, The Preacher's Portrait, John Stott (I may buy both but read one of them for the class and read the other later).
For my Spiritual Formation Capstone class:
  • Listening to God: Spiritual Formation in Congregations, John Ackerman
  • A Practical Guide to Finding and Fulfilling  Your Mission in Life, Kevin & Kay Marie Brennfleck
  • Betrayal of Trust: Confronting and Preventing Clergy Sexual Misconduct, Stanley Grenz & Roy Bell
  • The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life, Os Guiness
  • The Return of the Prodigal Son, Henri Nouwen
  • The Power of Mentoring, Martin Sanders
For my Worship, Arts and Discipline class:
  • Exploring the Worship Spectrum: 6 Views, Paul Basben
  • Emerging Worship: Creating Wrorship Gatherings for New Generations, Dan Kimball & David Crowder
  • The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime, Phyllis Tickle
  • Introduction to Christian Worship (3rd. ed), James White
  • Worship Old & New, Robert Webber
For my Hebrew Exegesis class:
  • Old Testament Exegesis:  A Primer for Pastors and Students, 2nd ed. rev. (There are 8 recommended books for this class, but I'll probably choose this one to read).

22 books altogether and most of them are electronic, so I can read them on my Kindle, but some of them I'll have to purchase the paperback for.  

Fortunately I set up a Fall Text book wish list at Amazon to know which books I have to purchase for school this semester.

This is going to be quite the reading challenge for me this semester.

August 25, 2010

Honestly, are you hidden with Christ?

Photo is from Alyssa Reeves on Flickr
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:3-4

I can't ever recall someone reminding me as a new Christian that I'm dead and that my life is hidden with Christ in God. If I was told, I surely didn't understand what it was supposed to mean.

I can recall however being told that the old life that I lived, would no longer be the life that would one day stand before God. Having experienced a spiritual rebirth (John 3:3-7) and now clothed in the righteousness of Christ (Isaiah 61:10), God now sees Christ in me, as well as in every person that has become a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Are you clothed in the righteousness of Christ?  Have you reflected recently on this unique aspect of salvation, what God has done for you?

August 22, 2010

A Year Later...

Well, a year ago today, I entered an amazing new phase of my life.  I got married.

It's true when people tell you that marriage is work and it certainly is.

Communicaiton is incredibly important, selflessness should be greater than being selfish and serving your spouse is greater than being served.

I haven't been the best at any of these things and more that could be listed, but I'm working on it and I know Kristi is too.

In this post, I want to share our vows that Kristi and I wrote for each other.  We haven't kept these perfectly, but we certainly are trying.

Our main focus is and always will be, to keep Christ at the center of our marriage and family.


Here are the vows we shared to each other, a year ago, today -  

August 17, 2010

What does it mean to repent? - Mark 1:15

Have you ever had trouble explaining what it means to repent of sin?

Right away, we think of confessing our sin before God, praying and asking for His forgiveness.  Maybe this has been heard preached by the pastor on a Sunday morning, or from a friend that has shared the Gospel with another person and this is commonly what comes to mind.

The Greek word for repent is metanoeō (met-an-o-eh'-o) and it means to think differently or afterwards, that is, reconsider (morally to feel compunction).

I found the first commentary excerpt by John Gill concerning this verse on another ministry website and thought how simple and yet profound this explanation really is.  I then looked at the other commentaries on my e-Sword program and found Matthew Henry's to be equally as compelling and a blessing to enhance my understanding of the text.

May this be a blessing to enrich your understanding of the Gospel and what it means to repent and believe the gospel.

"repent ye, and believe the gospel." Mark 1:15

He called them to repent, not only of their former sins and vicious course of life, but of their bad principles and tenets, concerning a temporal kingdom of the Messiah; concerning merit and free will, justification by the works of the law, and salvation by their obedience to the ceremonies of it, and the traditions of the elders: these he exhorts them to change their sentiments about, and to relinquish them, and give into the Gospel scheme; which proclaims liberty from the law, peace, pardon, and righteousness by Christ, and salvation and eternal life by the free grace of God. John Gill

By repentance we must lament and forsake our sins, and by faith we must receive the forgiveness of them. By repentance we must give glory to our Creator whom we have offended; by faith we must give glory to our Redeemer who came to save us from our sins. Both these must go together; we must not think either that reforming our lives will save us without trusting in the righteousness and grace of Christ, or that trusting in Christ will save us without the reformation of our hearts and lives. Christ hath joined these two together, and let no man think to put them asunder. They will mutually assist and befriend each other. Repentance will quicken faith, and faith will make repentance evangelical; and the sincerity of both together must be evidenced by a diligent conscientious obedience to all God's commandments. Thus the preaching of the gospel began, and thus it continues; still the call is, Repent, and believe, and live a life of repentance and a life of faithMatthew Henry's Commentary

Reference

Meyers, R. (2006). e-Sword. The sword of the Lord with an electronic edge (Verson 7.8) [Computer software].

August 11, 2010

Sunday Sermon: The Day of the Lord


This past Sunday at First Assembly of God in Brookfield, Pastor Phil Morgan continued his exposition of 1 Thessalonians where 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 was the focus of his sermon.
1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.
The rapture of the church is the next prophetic event that will take place as ordained by God and the task of the church is to be actively engaged in evangelistic service, winning souls to Christ.



This message can also be heard at http://sermon.net/philmorgan

The rapture of the church is our blessed hope, but for the world, it will be an indescribable terror.  Are you ready?

Old Testament references to the Day of the Lord:
Jesus said, "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be." - Matthew 24:21.
"That day is a day of wratha day of trouble and distressa day of devastation and desolationa day of darkness and gloominessa day of clouds and thick darkness," Zephaniah 1:15
Is this what you want to live through because you have rejected Christ for the salvation of your soul?

August 10, 2010

The Reality of Heaven & Hell - "Son, remember..."

Last Wednesday night at First Assembly of God, Pastor Al Van Geersdaele taught a lesson regarding the reality of heaven and hell, from Luke 16:19-31 and the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus.

His exposition of this passage of Scripture was incredibly eye-opening to me, even though I have read this passage of text and even referred to it during evangelistic encounters with people. But last night, Pastor Al unveiled some great observations regarding the text and has really helped my understanding of it a lot more.

Hell is as much of a reality as heaven is and it certainly is a place that everyone wants to go to when they die. Many though, ignore God's requirement regarding entry and think they will be able to enter by their own merits, but that is not true.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
Many more think that there is no consequence for not believing in the Son of God for the salvation of their souls and that is not true either.
He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. John 3:36



This message can be downloaded at http://sermon.net/kurtmichaelson

Pastor Al provided a few fill in the blank statements to be mindful of regarding this passage and they are provided below, if you would like to follow along in this exposition of the Rich Man and Lazarus.

Three things the rich man had in Hades that we need:

August 9, 2010

Prayer for an Evangelistic Mission Trip

This past Friday, four men from our church at First Assembly of God, in Brookfield, CT, began an evangelistic mission trip, to four cities they were burdened by God, to go and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Please pray for these men while they are out in the streets meeting with people and proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The men are: Paul Cortese, Dave Hawkins, Aaron Van Geersdaele and Pastor Al Van Geersdaele (NYC only). 

Pastor Al is returning today and will certainly be resting quite a bit from three days of preaching and having conversations with hundreds of people.

They will be in the following cities on these dates in August:
  • 9th - New York City
  • 10th - Philadelphia
  • 11th - Baltimore
  • 12th and 13th - Washington, D.C. 
Please remember them in your prayers.

July 30, 2010

Deadly Trends of Popular Christianity

Consider what has happened in the church over the past decades. The 1970s were an exciting time. We saw an unprecedented rise in conservative evangelicalism, the explosion of Christian broadcasting and publishing, a number of excellent new Bible translations and study aids, the proliferation of small-group Bible studies, and tremendous growth in Bible-believing congregations.

In the midst of it all, one sensed a sincere desire to exalt the Lord, a love for God's Word, a hunger to understand it, and — within the church, at least — a renewed interest in holiness, combatting the steady moral decay that had gained such a foothold forty years ago.

Those phenomena could have been harbingers of genuine spiritual revival.

But the '80s were a decade of decline. Not numerical decline in most of our churches (though I'm concerned that this may happen yet), but a spiritual decline. The church has actually turned away from true revival and pursued instead the popularisation of Christianity.

July 28, 2010

A Man with a Renewed Heart and Mind, for God

Once again, thank you Jen for allowing me to post this here on my blog.  I know her first message about her father was an encouragement and I know that this one will be too.

2nd Update on my Dad

Hello, Everyone.

As some of you know, my grandmother has fallen ill and so this past Friday, my father and I decided to drive to New Jersey to see her. We left at 4:10am. Within six minutes, my father began listening to sermons. We listened to Ligonier Ministries' 2009 National Conference, "The Holiness of God" for ten hours straight. Somewhere around Raleigh NC or so, my dad turned off the sermons and asked me about being baptized! I asked him why he wanted to be baptized and he wasn't really able to describe why. He said, "Something must be happening to me, because how else can I listen to this stuff for ten hours?" I asked my father if there was a moment he could remember a change taking place, but he couldn't. He just said that he was changing more and more each day. He said he was fascinated by the Bible and that many of the TV shows that he normally watches are no longer interesting to him. In fact, they are a "turn off." He asked me, "Am I a Christian?" I said I didn't know. Maybe he was not a Christian yet, but growing closer and closer to that point. Then again, maybe he was already a Christian, and now growing in sanctification and understanding. I asked him to try to diagnose for himself, but he seemed frustrated because he simply didn't know. So I told him to hold off on the baptism for now. He continued to ask me spiritual questions and we talked until Richmond, VA or so. Then we listened to the conference messages again, all the way to New Jersey. That's approximately 16 hours of R.C. Sproul and friends in a single day!

Christian Persecution Hits All-Time High Worldwide: Report

This morning, I read a story titled,  Christian Persecution Hits All-Time High Worldwide: Report , which is  about how much the persecutio...