December 31, 2011

Living 10 Chapters a Day in 2012


Just a few days ago, I mentioned to my wife that I've noticed a lot of people talking about reading through the entire bible in the new year.  More than usual too. 

What is most encouraging about this is that there is a hunger for people to know the Word of God, more than just to say they have read the entire bible from Genesis to Revelation, which is a great accomplishment for anyone, even if it is just once!  I, on the other hand will be one of those people this year that will hopefully be able to say at some point that I have completed reading the entire Bible for the very first time.  After all, as a Christian, this is the book we live by and it would behoove us immensely to know what God has said, from within its pages.

Here are just a few verse from Psalm 119 (ESV) concerning what the Word of God will do for a person:
  • I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.  Psalm 119:11
  • I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.  Psalm 119:16
  • Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word.  Psalm 119:17
  • My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!  Psalm 119:25
  • My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!  Psalm 119:28
  • My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word.  Psalm 119:81
  • Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.  Psalm 119:105
  • I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil.  Psalm 119:162
And so much, more more too!

But once the Bible has been read once entirely, I doubt anyone could ever be satisfied with just that one complete reading of Scripture.

December 23, 2011

Where my last seminary class could be...

Now that I have successfully passed my recent class in the Gospel of Mark, I am now looking forward to taking my last elective class, I hope, in Israel with Dr. Widbin, my Old Testament and Hebrew professor at Alliance Theological Seminary.

The dates for the elective class trip will be March 11-22, 2012.

My good friend David Stall had suggested that I go on this trip as an elective credit class, to fulfill my credit requirement to graduate in May.  I have 3 credits to complete and this trip will count for 3 credits too.  And I thought, he's right!  What an awesome way to finish up the past four years of my life in seminary, by going to Israel, experiencing what I have been reading about in seminary!

One of the concentrations I have chosen while in seminary was learning Hebrew and it has been quite a challenge to learn to read and write biblical Hebrew.  Because I have been learning Hebrew and continue to improve my reading of the Hebrew text, my heart is just overwhelmed with hope that I actually may be able to go to Israel for school.

When I first started learning Hebrew in Dr. Bryan Widbin's classes, I wondered how much and how well I would really be able to learn this biblical language.  But through small steps, this has been accomplished, yet I still have a long way to go to where I can read, comprehend and speak the text in a fluid manner.  With daily practice, I will, but it has been such an amazing journey just to be able to read, write and speak as much as I do now!  For that, I will be incredibly grateful to Dr. Widbin's love for teaching Hebrew and the Old Testament to students that attend ATS.
Alliance Theological Seminary Christmas Dinner, December 2010
My wife Kristi, Dr. Widbin and I
There is one obstacle that stands between me and getting on the plane to go on this trip in March 2012.  Even though I am tentatively registered to take an online class in Pastoral Methods as my last class, my heart is hopeful that I may be able to go to Israel instead, with your help.

The cost for this trip is $3,300 and I have no more money in my student account to cover the cost for this trip.  So far however, I have received a gift of $1,000 to help offset the cost, which leaves a balance of $2,300 that is needed to go on this trip.

If you would like to make a donation, to help offset the cost for this last class in Israel, I would be grateful beyond words.  92 people donating $27 each will reach the goal of the $2,300 balance.  I am asking if you would be willing to make a $27 donation to my PayPal account and help me raise the remaining balance by January 12, 2012. ($1.75 of this donation will help offset fees to PayPal for processing your donation)

Now, some of you may be wondering if my wife is able to go on this trip with me and she has expressed both excitement and disappointment about it.  She's excited because it would be an amazing experience for me as I finish seminary and graduate in May 2012.  On the other hand, she's disappointed because as much as she would love to go, our finances prevent that from happening and the cost for her to attend would be $3,300 as well.

I am hoping that in the next three weeks, if a minimum of 224 people donate a minimum of $27 each, this would help cover the cost of the trip for both of us. You can help by clicking on the PayPal button to make your donation.

Please note, the cost of the trip is fully refundable if the trip is cancelled due to an insufficient number of paid participants to go to Israel.  I will contact you regarding your donation, to make sure that it is properly returned.

As of Friday, 27 January 2012, this trip is now confirmed and Kristi and I will be going to Israel in March!

A complete itinerary of the trip can be viewed at this link here from Dr. Widbin's website.

 
I also want to share with you, just a few pictures from Dr. Widbin's trip in April 2011, so you could get an idea of what the experience will be for me/us.
 

As I looked through several hundred photos from friends that I have taken classes with, who went on this trip, I couldn't help but feel a deep sense of regret that I didn't go with them last April. But hopefully with your help, I'll be able to go and my wife might be able to go too.
Caesarea
In Jerusalem
Dr. Widbin teaching at Arad
Mount of Olives, Gethsamane
Qumran - Dead Sea Scrolls
Masada
Camel ride in the desert
The Western Wall of the Temple Mount, below the Dome of the Rock
John Matarazzo, Jee Yau, Daniel Park and Andrew Chun
praying at the Western Wall
Photo credits go to Eugenia Ko, Nestor Soto and Joy Haidle 
who went to Israel with Dr. Widbin in April 2011.

Lastly, I want to share with you an excerpt of Katie George's testimony regarding her experience going to Israel with Dr. Widbin -
Since going to Israel with Dr. Widbin, I no longer read the Scriptures in the same way. The experience of Israel, and the knowledge I gained through our time together there, colors everything I read.  The Easter narrative makes me recall walking up the stairs that Jesus traversed during His passion, and His suffering for me seems more profound somehow, having walked the very streets He walked.  When I feel a need for refuge and turn to the Psalms, I often think of taking a few moments to rest in a cleft in the rocky wall of a wadi.   I can not think of Elijah on Mount Carmel without going there in my mind and remembering our group's time alone with God; after Dr. Widbin's presentation I sat on a rocky outcropping and asked for the type of faith that truly lives each day believing in a God who invades our existence and demonstrates His involvement in our world.  The God of Elijah was so real to me in those moments!  And that experience continues to enrich my life. I could say the same of visiting the Sea of Galilee, standing amid the dusty hills of the wilderness, driving up the wadi between Jericho and Jerusalem, and on, and on.  These experiences, and the vibrant context they provided to me for the Scriptures I cherish, have somehow come home to America with me in a way I could never have anticipated.  My life, my faith and my understanding of the Word have all been impacted by the two weeks I chose to dedicate to studying with Dr. Widbin in Israel.  My profoundest gratitude is due him for leading our group on such an amazing journey.  Katie George, 30 June 2010
It is my hope, for Kristi and I, to be able to go to Israel together and be able to share a testimony of our experience in Israel, like this one from Katie.

Your donation of support to help me and hopefully my wife, attend this trip to Israel is greatly appreciated.



 שְׁמַע, יִשְׂרָאֵל:  יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ, יְהוָה אֶחָד
Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one. Deuteronomy 6:4

Faithfully in Christ,

Pastor Kurt

November 20, 2011

An Offense to God's Pure & Holy Eyes

What are those gatherings where God is not honored, are they not an offense to his pure and holy eyes, and are they not a sad stumbling-block to the people of God?  It brings the scalding-tear upon our cheek to hear sermons in which the honor of God is so far from being the preacher's object, that one might almost imagine that the preacher worshiped the dignity of manhood, and thought more of it than of the Infinite Majesty of God.

Charles Spurgeon - The Treasury of David, Psalm 26:8

November 10, 2011

On November 10th 1775...

On November 1st, 1921, John A. Lejeune, 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps, directed that a reminder of the honorable service of the Corps be published by every command, to all Marines throughout the globe, on the Birthday of the Corps.  Since that day, Marines have continued to distinguish themselves on many battlefields and foreign shores, in war and peace.  On this Birthday of the Corps, therefore, in compliance with the will of the 13th Commandant, Article 38, United States Marine Corps Manual, Edition of 1921, is published as follows:

On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of the Continental Congress. Since that date, many thousand men have borne the name Marine. In memory of them, it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the Birthday of our Corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.

The record of our Corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world's history. During 90 of the 146 years of its existence, the Marine Corps has been in action against the Nation's foes. From the Battle of Trenton to the Argonne, Marines have won foremost honors in war and in the long era of tranquility at home. Generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres and in every corner of the seven seas [so] that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security.

In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our Corps, Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term "Marine" has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.

This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the Corps. With it we also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our Corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of the Marines in every age. So long as that spirit continues to flourish, Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our Nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as "Soldiers of the Sea" since the founding of the Corps.

General John A. Lejeune
13th Commandant of the Marine Corps 


To all of my Marines around the world, Semper fi and Happy Birthday!


October 25, 2011

Finding the Blessing of Life in Solitary Confinement


We live in a world, of course, that is skewed, a world that is deviated, a world that knows little of true value. We live in a world where people pursue all the wrong stuff. And that massive overpowering pursuit that is all around us encroaches on our lives and gets us caught up in the very pursuit of things which mean nothing or should mean nothing to us.

The attitude of most worldly people in terms of their pursuit is exposed ably by Anton Chekhov's(??) classic short story called "The Bet." Chekhov was a Russian writer who wrote in the 1800's.

This story gives us insight into the value system of most people.

The plot involves a wager, a bet between two educated men. And it was a bet over the issue of solitary confinement. A wealthy middle-aged banker believed that the death penalty was a more humane punishment than solitary confinement because an executioner kills at once, solitary confinement kills gradually.

One of his guests at a party, a young lawyer of 25, disagreed saying, "To live under any conditions is better than not to live at all." Angered the banker impulsively responded with a bet of two million rubles, a fortune. He bet that the younger man could not last five years in solitary confinement. The lawyer was so convinced of his endurance and so eager for the two million that he announced that he would stay fifteen years instead of five to make his point.

The arrangements were made and the young man moved into a separate building on the grounds of the banker's large estate. He was allowed no visitors and no newspapers. He could write letters but receive none.

There were guards watching to make sure he never violated the agreement but they were placed so that he could never see another human being. He received his food in silence through a small opening where he couldn't see those who served him. Everything else he wanted, books, certain foods, musical instruments, was granted by his own special written request.

The story develops with a description of the things the lawyer asked for through the years and the occasional glances of the observant guardians who delivered some of them while he slept. During the first year the piano could be heard at almost any hour and he asked for many books, mostly novels and light reading. The next year the music ceased the works of various classical authors were requested. In the sixth year of his isolation he began to study languages and soon wrote that he had mastered six languages. After the tenth year of his confinement the prisoner sat motionless at the table and read the New Testament. After more than a year's saturation of the Bible he began to study theology.

The second half of the story focuses on the night before the noon deadline when the lawyer will win the bet. The banker is now at the end of his career. His risky speculations and impetuosity had gradually undermined his business. The once self-confident millionaire was now a second-rate banker and to pay off the wager would destroy him. Angry at his foolishness and jealous of the soon to be wealthy man who was now only forty, the old banker determined to kill his opponent and frame the guard with the murder.

Slipping into the man's room, he found him asleep at the table. Before he could kill him he noticed a letter the lawyer had written to him. He picked it up, this is what he read. "Tomorrow at twelve o'clock I shall be free. But before leaving this room I find it necessary to say a few words to you. With a clear conscience and before God who sees me I declare to you that I despise freedom and life and health and all that your books call the joys of this world. I know I am wiser than you all and I despise all your books. I despise all earthly blessings and wisdom, all is worthless and false, hallow and deceiving like the mirage. You may be proud, wise and beautiful, but death will wipe you away from the face of the earth as it does the mice that live beneath your floor. And your heirs, your history, your immortal geniuses will burn with the destruction of the earth. You have gone mad and are not following the right path. You take falsehood for truth, and deformity for beauty. To prove to you how I despise all that you value, I renounce the two million on which I looked at one time as the opening of paradise for me and which I now scorn. And to deprive myself of the right to receive the two million, I will leave my prison five hours before the appointed time and by so doing break the terms of our compact." And he signed his name.

The banker read the lines, replaced the paper on the table, kissed the strange sleeping man. And with tears in his eyes, quietly left the house. Chekhov writes, "Never before, not even after sustaining serious losses had he despised himself as he did at that moment." His tears kept him awake the rest of the night and at seven the next morning he was informed by the watchmen that they had seen the man crawl through a window and go to the gate and disappear.

Some people have to learn the hard way what is the right stuff. And some people never learn.

An excerpt from the sermon Praying the Right Things, Part 1 by Pastor John MacArthur

September 26, 2011

An incredibly powerful film - "180"

I just watched this movie titled "180", which was produced by the ministry of Living Waters and Ray Comfort and it is an incredibly powerful movie that I highly recommend every person to watch and share with others too.  

This movie "180" has just deepened my conviction concerning it and I hope that it may hopefully change a lot of minds, to those who watch it.



David Platt, senior pastor of The Church at Brook Hills said this about the movie, “Watch this video now…and then pass it on to everyone you can. ‘180’ is a poignant, eye-opening, heart-wrenching film that exposes the moral darkness of our hearts and the hidden horror of our culture—all through the lens of the indescribable love of our God.”



Before you watch "180", I would like to advise you that there are some pictures in this video that are graphic and may be disturbing.  PLEASE BE ADVISED There is an additional warning before the film begins, so I'm just giving you a heads up about it.

Please watch "180" and share it with others. You just might help save a child's life and even more, lead someone to repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.



After watching "180", has your view of abortion changed, if so, why or why not?

Help make "180" go viral on the internet by sharing it through your social media networks, like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and your blog.

Faithfully in Christ,

Pastor Kurt

September 24, 2011

Preaching Like the Apostle Paul - A Model for Pastors

A popular focus among many pastors in churches these days is the relevance of their "sermons" so that non-believers will understand the Scripture.  The sermons are often exclusively positive, shallow in theology and doctrine and regularly omit the usage of biblical terms, again, for the sake of the non-believer to make them feel more comfortable to hear what is being said and not feel intimidated for not knowing the terms that are used.

Should that be the focus of preaching by a pastor? Should the model they follow, regarding their preaching be modeled after those that are popular on television, or known to have large attendance at their churches?

Too often though, what is being said is greatly watered-down and I might add, missing the power of the Holy Spirit behind it and within it, to really make an impact upon those that are hearing the pastor's sermon.  Certain verses are isolated and used to make a point by the pastor, which often is not related to the context of the passage the verse is taken from.

I firmly believe that as preaching is firmly grounded in a regular exposition of Scripture and lead by the Holy Spirit, people will be drawn to a church that preaches the Bible and delivers the whole counsel of God to the people (Acts 20:27), which will enable them to learn Bible more, discover God's will for their lives and also, to enable them fulfill the Great Commission too (Matthew 28:19-20).

So, what should a pastor's preaching look like to both the believing Christian and the non-believer?  Well, from Acts 20:20-21, we can learn about seven characteristics of the Apostle Paul's preaching, as a missionary and evangelist throughout Asia.

This list is not my own, but it was taken from Matthew Henry's Commentary on Acts 20:17-35.

(1.) He was a plain preacher, and one that delivered his message so as to be understood. This is intimated in two words, I have shown you, and have taught you.  He did not amuse them with nice speculations, nor lead them into, and then lose them in, the clouds of lofty notions and expressions; but he showed them the plain truths of the gospel, which were of the greatest consequence and importance, and taught them as children are taught.  “I have shown you the right way to happiness, and taught you to go in it.”

(2.) He was a powerful preacher, which is intimated in his testifying to them; he preached as one upon oath, that was himself fully assured of the truth of what he preached and was desirous to convince them of it and to influence and govern them by it.  He preached the gospel, not as a hawker proclaims news in the street (it is all one to him whether it be true or false), but as a conscientious witness gives in his evidence at the bar, with the utmost seriousness and concern.  Paul preached the gospel as a testimony to them if they received it, but as a testimony against them if they rejected it.

September 18, 2011

There are some who cultivate faith and forget holiness

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.  
Galatians 5:25, ESV
The two most important things in our holy religion are the life of faith and the walk of faith. He who shall rightly understand these is not far from being a master in experimental theology, for they are vital points to a Christian. You will never find true faith unattended by true godliness; on the other hand, you will never discover a truly holy life which has not for its root a living faith upon the righteousness of Christ. Woe unto those who seek after the one without the other! There are some who cultivate faith and forget holiness; these may be very high in orthodoxy, but they shall be very deep in condemnation, for they hold the truth in unrighteousness; and there are others who have strained after holiness of life, but have denied the faith, like the Pharisees of old, of whom the Master said, they were “whitewashed sepulchres.” We must have faith, for this is the foundation; we must have holiness of life, for this is the superstructure. Of what service is the mere foundation of a building to a man in the day of tempest? Can he hide himself therein? He wants a house to cover him, as well as a foundation for that house. Even so we need the superstructure of spiritual life if we would have comfort in the day of doubt. But seek not a holy life without faith, for that would be to erect a house which can afford no permanent shelter, because it has no foundation on a rock. Let faith and life be put together, and, like the two abutments of an arch, they will make our piety enduring. Like light and heat streaming from the same sun, they are alike full of blessing. Like the two pillars of the temple, they are for glory and for beauty. They are two streams from the fountain of grace; two lamps lit with holy fire; two olive trees watered by heavenly care. O Lord, give us this day life within, and it will reveal itself without to thy glory.

Morning & Evening, Devotional reading for Sunday, September 18 by Charles H. Spurgeon


Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-92) was England's best-known preacher for most of the second half of the nineteenth century. In 1854, just four years after his conversion, Spurgeon, then only 20, became pastor of London's famed New Park Street Church (formerly pastored by the famous Baptist theologian John Gill). The congregation quickly outgrew their building, moved to Exeter Hall, then to Surrey Music Hall. In these venues Spurgeon frequently preached to audiences numbering more than 10,000—all in the days before electronic amplification. In 1861 the congregation moved permanently to the newly constructed Metropolitan Tabernacle.


Reference 

e-Sword. Meyers, R. (2006). The sword of the Lord with an electronic edge (Version 9.8.3) [Computer software]. http://www.e-sword.net/index.html
 
English Standard Version (ESV)The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

August 13, 2011

Does submission mean respect?

First, let me say that I like Congresswoman Bachmann and I believe she is a viable contender for the republican nomination, for the office of the President of the United States. 

This post in no way attacks her and what she said during the presidential debate this past Thursday night, but this topic and more importantly the word submit itself has been greatly misunderstood by many, especially by those outside of the church. 

Will those in the church, especially pastors help provide a sound biblical answer to what has not been communicated with a clear understanding from Scripture?

Did Michelle Bachmann get it right during the debate when she answered the question if she would submit to her husband, if she were elected President of the United States, saying, "submission means to us, it means respect. I respect my husband." 

The commentary that follows by CNN anchor Don Lemon and his guest was good too.


Ephesians 5:22-27 must be looked at closely to understand what the word 'submit' means in Greek, in order to apply it to our lives, from the context of the text. 

Is submission, respect, or is there a greater meaning that we must learn to apply? This has been greatly misunderstood by many as obeying dictatorial behavior, but this is not what the text says submission means.

Please comment with your thoughts regarding the text (Ephesians 5:22-27) in regard to Congresswoman Bachmann's answer.  Does submission mean respect?


Reference
Blueletterbible.com - http://www.blueletterbible.com/
Meyers, R. (2006). e-Sword. The sword of the Lord with an electronic edge (Version 9.8.3) [Computer software].
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

August 9, 2011

When Demons Cause a Revival

Each week on Sunday, I have the privilege to teach an adult Sunday School class at our church and have been doing so since January 9, 2011.

I began teaching the class right after they had concluded Acts chapter 12, so, my time of instruction with them has been since Acts chapter 13 and after 7 1/2 months we are now at Acts 19:13-20, for another expository look at a passage of text.  Each expository study is intended to help the class learn and understand more in depth whatever important aspects there are that should be learned during each weekly study.

I know I've said this before, but there is no other way in which a person may learn and understand what the Bible says, than by hearing an exposition of Scripture, by listening to it explained to them, which has the affect of raising their worship to God because they have been taken deeper into the text, on a regular basis.

To learn what expository preaching is, please click here to listen to John MacArthur explain it.

This week, our class looked at a passage where certain individuals attempted to imitate what they had seen the Apostle Paul say and do, as they witnessed many unusual miracles that God did through him.  The demons however, had something very surprising to say to these imitators and unfortunately, they were met with a very unexpected result that humiliated and hurt them.

Those that had witnessed this were brought under a great conviction and decided to reject their aspirations to obtain power through mystical practices and instead magnified the Lord.  Such repentance and reverance that fell upon the whole city proved the power of the Word of God, to prevail in the lives of people that witness true spiritual power and authority.

The audio file is located on the Podcast tab of this blog, so please click on the tab and click on the media player, to listen to this class study session, an exposition of Acts 19:13-20 - When Demons Cause a Revival.


Faithfully in Christ,

Pastor Kurt


Recommended Audio links
An option to watch both of these sermons can be selected at the links provided above.

August 7, 2011

Why there should be an uninterrupted and constant spirit of prayer

(1) That we are to be regular and constant in the observance of the stated seasons of prayer. We are to observe the duty of prayer in the closet, in the family, and in the assembly convened to call on the name of the Lord. We are not to allow this duty to be interrupted or intermitted by any trifling cause. We are so to act that it may be said we pray regularly in the closet, in the family, and at the usual seasons when the church prays to which we belong.

(2) We are to maintain an uninterrupted and constant spirit of prayer. We are to be in such a frame of mind as to be ready to pray publicly if requested; and when alone, to improve any moment of leisure which we may have when we feel ourselves strongly inclined to pray. That Christian is in a bad state of mind who has suffered himself, by attention to worldly cares, or by light conversation, or by gaiety and vanity, or by reading an improper book, or by eating or drinking too much, or by late hours at night among the thoughtless and the vain, to be brought into such a condition that he cannot engage in prayer with proper feelings. There has been evil done to the soul if it is not prepared for communion with God at all times, and if it would not find pleasure in approaching his holy throne.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible regarding 1 Thessalonians 5:17 - pray without ceasing

Reference

Meyers, R. (2006). e-Sword. The sword of the Lord with an electronic edge (Version 9.8.3) [Computer software]

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

July 18, 2011

Do Mormons and Evangelical Christians Share the Same Biblical Theology?

A few months ago, I was asked by the women who lead the Women's Growth Group class at our church, to give a brief overview of a few of the world religions and how they compare to Christianity.

Last week, I taught about Islam, which was very interesting to read about and to listen to various sermons throughout the week regarding Islam.

A particularly great sermon that I listened to was by John MacArthur titled, "The Grim Reality of the Last Days," which MacArthur references the Koran and the Sunnah, another Islamic book that Muslims ascribe to and he says concerning the Mahdi,
The Mahdi will be a messianic figure. He will be a descendant of Mohammed. He will be an unparalleled, unequaled leader. He will come out of a crisis of turmoil. He will take control of the world. He will establish a new world order. He will destroy all who resist him. He will invade many nations. He will make a seven-year peace treaty with the Jews. He will conquer Israel and massacre the Jews. He will establish Islamic world headquarters at Jerusalem. He will rule for seven years, establish Islam as the only religion. He will come on a white horse with supernatural power. He will be loved by all people on earth.

If that sounds familiar, that is a precise description of the biblical Antichrist...absolutely step-by-step-by-step-by-step. The Bible’s Antichrist is their Mahdi. We know that the rider on the white horse in Revelation 6 is the Antichrist. They use that verse to describe their Mahdi.

Why am I giving you all this? Because the description of the Mahdi is exactly the description of the biblical Antichrist, the beast of Revelation 13, and you go into any kind of a study of that and you will find that all the details match up perfectly. The Bible’s Antichrist is Islam’s Savior and world conqueror who establishes a universal Islamic kingdom.
I would highly recommend listening to this sermon too.  This past Sunday, our topic was about Mormonism.

I think this outline of my notes will provide some benefit to those that read this post concerning Mormonism whenever they see a pair of guys wearing the traditional white shirt, black tie, black slacks and name badge on the left breast of their shirt, coming to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ, they may be able to more informed regarding what Mormons actually believe.

Hopefully, after reading through this and maybe even picking up a book from your local library about Mormonism, you'll realize that Mormons do not believe in the same Jesus Christ that is found in the Bible.

July 2, 2011

The Work of Ministry is Not Glamorous, But Worth It

Each week on Sunday morning, I have the great privilege to teach one of our adult Sunday School bible study classes.

A couple from our church had decided to leave in December and I eagerly accepted the opportunity to teach this class beginning in January and continue with them, in their journey through the Book of Acts.

We began in Acts 13 and now we are in chapter 18.  Each week has been an expositional study of the passage for the week and we also look at some of the specific people, places and events that are taking place, so that we are able to gain a greater understanding of the passage.

Two weeks ago, we studied Acts 17:13-34 where the Apostle Paul was in Athens, reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jews in the synagogue for three Sabbaths and then he was preaching to the Epicureans and Stoics in the Areopagus. After that, he left and headed for Corinth.

Last Sunday, we looked at Acts 18:1-8 and the Apostle Paul had met Aquila and Priscilla, who had come from Rome because the Roman Emperor Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave because of anti-semitism that was occurring in the city.

This study was very exciting to prepare and teach because of how the text began to unfold before me, as I continued to read and study the passage and in it, I learned three points that were brought to the attention of the class, to learn about the Apostle Paul's work and ministry in this passage, which were:

  1. Unashamed Work
  2. Uncompromised Preaching
  3. Unexpected Conversion
UNASHAMED WORK

When Paul met Aquila and Priscilla, he learned that they were tentmakers too (Acts 18:3).

The word tentmaker in Greek is skēnopoios, meaning one that makes small portable tents, of leather or cloth of goat’s hair or linen, for the use of travellers.

In Eastern countries, where there was much travel, where there were no inns, and where many were shepherds, such a business might be useful, and a profitable source of living. It was an honorable occupation, and Paul was not ashamed to be employed in it.  Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

This reminded me of when I first began working at The Home Depot in West Nyack, New York, three years ago.  When I began working there the Human Resources Coordinator informed me that there was another guy that was transferring in to the store and that he too was attending the same seminary as I was.

June 28, 2011

The Story of George McCluskey

The following is today's devotional reading found in The Word For You Today, a three month devotional booklet that is distributed to the members of First Assembly of God.

"Pour out your heart...for...your children."  Lamentations 2:19, NKJV

When George McCluskey started a family, he decided to invest one hour every day in prayer because he wanted his children to follow Christ.  Then he expanded his prayers to include his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Every day between 11:00 a.m. and noon he prayed for the next three generations.  As the years went by, his two daughters committed their lives to Christ and married men who went into the ministry.  These two couples produced four girls and one boy.  Each of the girls married a minister and the boy became a pastor.  The first two children born to this generation were both boys.  Upon graduation from high school, the two cousins chose the same college and became roommates.  During their sophomore year one boy decided to go into the ministry.  The other didn't.  He undoubtedly felt lots of pressure to continue the family legacy, but he instead chose to go his own way and pursue his interest in psychology.  He earned his doctorate and eventually wrote books for parents that became best sellers.  Eventually he started a radio program that was heard around the world each day. 

The man's name - James Dobson.  So now you know the story of George McCloskey!  He was just an ordinary man, but his prayers had an extraordinary effect on much of the world.  If you are a parent or a grandparent, the Word for you today is, "Arise, cry out in the night...pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord.  Lift up your hands toward Him for the life of your...children."


June 21, 2011

My thoughts: Van Impe ministry abandons TBN in clash over Islam

Another friend of mine asked for my thoughts regarding this story from World Net Daily and here is what I shared.  I've added a bit more because my mind began thinking of some other quotes and Scripture that support my position.

Jack Van Impe is right to call out those preachers that are abusing the Bible for their own selfish gain, especially when more of what you hear coming out of their mouths is about money, being "blessed by sowing a seed into this ministry", or by preaching that God wants everyone to live happy, healthy and wealthy, which greatly contradicts Scripture.  

Romans 16:17-18 is an excellent example of what Jack Van Impe is doing and people should follow this when they have searched the Scriptures diligently like the Bereans did in Acts 17, to know whether what has been said is in solid accordance with Scripture AND has been used in its correct context too.

Rick Warren has consistently taught things that are contrary to Scripture, manipulating verses and translations to make it say what he wants it to say.  Robert Schuller has hardly ever preached anything sound because his philosophy was all about having a positive mental/theological attitude.

I do find it hypocritical that TBN would not allow Van Impe to say anything about Rick Warren or Robert Schuller, but did allow people such as Harold Camping and Rob Bell to be named specifically on one of his programs.

The effort to combine Christianity and Islam is certainly an example of a church that has become apostate and should be rebuked too.

When you look at many of the churches today, many of them have slowly worked into their vocabulary the replacement or removal of biblical terms, so that they don't sound biblical or Christian-like.  

I just read in John MacArthur's book Preaching: How to Preach Biblically where the following quote was cited and is related to this, which says, "I urge adherence to Biblical terminology. Much modern preaching has taken a psychological and sociological turn. It is mysterious and mystical. It sets forth psychiatric ideas, often using the terms of the psychiatrist rather than those of the Christian evangelist. It speaks of repression, fixations, traumas, neuroses, and syndromes, world without end. I claim that in the main these are not terms that the Holy Spirit can use effectively." 

I do believe that a pastor of a church should keep the language biblical while helping the congregation to learn and understand it as clearly as possible.  It's no different than studying to become a doctor and learning medical terminology that is applicable to the work of a physician.  Doctors speak using certain terminology that explains certain things in the human body as it relates to recommended treatments for a patient.

The language of the church, especially from the pastor shouldn't be any different.

Again, John MacArthur says in The Consequences of Non-Expositional Preaching regarding the language necessary for teaching the bible and he refers to R.L. Dabney who said, “The power of the Great Revolution that we know as the Reformation was the restoration of Scriptural preaching. It came with the authority of God. It came with the power of the Holy Spirit. It came under the clear leadership of Christ and people submitted to the Word of God in the pulpit and people followed and submitted to the Word of God in the pew.”

"And Dabney then goes on to draw a little kind of a paradigm that helps us to understand this. He said, “The golden age of preaching is Scripture truth in Scripture dress,” that’s the words he used. Scripture truth in Scripture dress...that’s the golden age. That is all the truths of the Bible presented in their biblical context as the Holy Spirit wrote them, had them written by inspired writers. Scripture truth in Scripture dress."

"You teach the Bible from the Bible. You teach Bible truth in Bible texts. That’s the golden age. That’s what we endeavor to do...to teach Bible truth from Bible texts. You say, “What else would you do?”

This is most disappointing from the story that Rick Warren has advocated through his book, The Purpose Driven Church that "...churches change music to a contemporary rock style, eliminate hymnbooks and the choir, eliminate the Sunday evening or Wednesday prayer services, remove the word "church" and refer to it as a "campus," and reduce the use of the words "unsaved," "lost," "hell" and "heaven.""

No one has to look too far at the churches around their neighborhoods and see if this is true.  And here is the question that I would ask - Did the Apostle Paul go on missionary journeys throughout the Mediterranean and establish campuses or churches?  

People that are unsaved are not unchurched - they are unsaved, unregenerate, unrepentant and depraved human beings that desperately need to turn to God and humble themselves before Him by throwing themselves at His feet and placing their full faith and trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins.  I said this to a particular pastor in a letter to him that stated people are not unchurched in such a way that they have forgotten how to behave in church.  They aren't even looking to relearn how to do that anyway!  

And yet, there are churches trying to do everything they can to accommodate people with "an adaptable gospel that is spoon-fed through humorous skits, drama, and short, nonabrasive sermonettes on how to cope—called a seeker-friendly or sinner-friendly gospel."  David Wilkerson, The Dangers of the Gospel of Accommodation

Van Impe is right to cite Rick Warren, Robert Schuller, Bill Hybels, Brian McLaren and anyone else, as contributors to causing the church to become apostate and people should be forewarned about it by telling them they should leave those churches and leave them fast too!

I think if people truly want to honor God and the Lord Jesus Christ and where they go to church, they will not want themselves to be found in any of the churches listed in Revelation 2 and 3, except that they and their church may be foudn to be like the church of Philadelphia that was known as a faithful church.

I hope this helps clarify my position.

June 13, 2011

Yesterday, it became official

"And He Himself gave some to be...pastors and teachers,"  Ephesians 4:11

Yesterday was the formal presentation of my ministry license at First Assembly of God in Brookfield, CT, where I have done my internship for seminary.  I am very grateful to be able to continue working there as a volunteer too.

Receiving this credential was something I was working for since I began seminary three years ago.

While I am greatly excited about this recognition it also brings a great sobering reminder of the stricter judgment I will one day be accountable to God for, as a pastor.
James 3:1 - Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

Hebrews 13:17 - Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
I do not take lightly this responsibility that I have now been recognized and entrusted with, in whatever capactity I may serve as a pastor too.  May God give me the strength and wisdom to do only what will be pleasing, honoring and glorifying to Him alone.

James Bradford, General Secretary and member of the General Council of the Assemblies of God included this prayer, as a pattern for my own prayer life, from the words of John Wesley, for an unswerving and obedient surrender to God's call upon my life.

June 5, 2011

Church, be diligent regarding the sermons you hear today


Our Sunday School class is taking a journey through the Book of Acts and I've been teaching this class since chapter 13.  Each week has been a slow walk through the text as it is exposited (explained) for greater understanding with regard to its meaning and discovering its application to our lives.

This morning we're going to cover Acts 17:5-13 and verses 10-12 are as important as verses 2-3, regarding the exposition Paul gave to those in the synagogue, in Thessalonica and Berea, where he explained and demonstrated that the Jesus whom he preached to them, is the Christ. (v. 3)

The following four points from Albert Barnes' Commentary are simple, yet helpful points to follow regarding the importance of ensuring that the sermon that is spoken in church is in accord with the doctrine of Scripture.

May these be helpful to you, as you become a diligent servant of the Word of God, searching daily to see that the sermon is in accord with the Word of God.

May God be exalted greatly as His word is faithfully preached and expounded for the church today.

From Albert Barnes' Commentary on the Bible regarding Acts 17:11 - 
Whether the doctrines stated by Paul and Silas were in accordance with the Scriptures. The Old Testament they received as the standard of truth, and whatever could be shown to be in accordance with that, they received. On this verse we may remark:
  1. That it is proof of true nobleness and liberality of mind to be willing to examine the proofs of the truth of religion. What the friends of Christianity have had most cause to lament and regret is, that so many are unwilling to examine its claims; that they spurn it as unworthy of serious thought, and condemn it without hearing.
  2. The Scriptures should be examined daily. If we wish to arrive at the truth, they should be the object of constant study. That man has very little reason to expect that he will grow in knowledge and grace who does not peruse, with candor and with prayer, a portion of the Bible every day.
  3. The constant searching of the Scriptures is the best way to keep the mind from error. He who does not do it daily may expect to “be carried about with every wind of doctrine,” and to have no settled opinions.
  4. The preaching of ministers should be examined by the Scriptures. Their doctrines are of no value unless they accord with the Bible. Every preacher should expect his doctrines to be examined in this way, and to be rejected if they are not in accordance with the Word of God. The church, in proportion to its increase in purity and knowledge, will feel this more and more; and it is an indication of advance in piety when people are increasingly disposed to examine everything by the Bible. How immensely important, then, is it that the young should be trained up to diligent habits of searching the Word of God. And how momentous is the obligation of parents, and of Sunday school teachers, to inculcate just views of the interpretation of the Bible, and to form the habits of the rising generation, so that they shall be disposed and enabled to examine every doctrine by the sacred oracles. The purity of the church depends on the extension of the spirit of the noble-minded Bereans, and that spirit is to be extended in a very considerable degree by the instrumentality of Sunday schools.
Colored italics, my emphasis.

June 2, 2011

HAPPY BIRTHDAY


  
That's right Mr. Spock, it is!

In a little less than an hour and a half, I'm going to get a phone call from my mother at about 2:59 p.m. (EST), reminding me of the time I was born.  I love it when she calls.


And as usual, I got an early morning phone call from my Dad wishing me a happy birthday too, but he forgot I was at work when he called.  


Still, it's such a great blessing that he's reminded of today, as I am of the wonderful parents God has blessed me with.

Each year my Dad does something different for my birthday, which I have no doubt that he does the same for my brother, when he somehow encapsulates the number of years of our lives in a very unique message.

Like this one he sent to my cell phone one year that said, "Rise and shine, you're 39! HBD!"

This morning, one of the guys I work with at The Home Depot wished me a Happy Birthday and nearly in the same breath he said, "WOW, you're getting a lot more gray hair, did you know that?  Have you seen it lately?"  Thanks, I feel your love. :-)

It is getting a little more gray, but I'm not too worried about it.  A few others at work wished me a happy birthday too, which was really nice and it was announced over the PA system too.  Thanks to Donna and Debbie.  :-)

So, for my birthday I got some great new books (so far) that I'm looking forward to reading this summer, from my mother, father and my mother-in-law:

  • Him We Proclaim - Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures by Dennis E. Johnson
  • Twelve Ordinary Men - How the Master Shaped His Disciples for Greatness and What He Wants to Do with You by John MacArthur
  • Shepherds after My own Heart - Pastoral traditions and leadership in the Bible by Timothy S. Laniak
  • A Disruptive Faith - Expect God to Interrupt Your Life by A.W. Tozer
  • Brothers We Are Not Professionals - A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry by John Piper
  • A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer by John Piper
Pretty good choices huh?


Tonight, we're going to one of my favorite Italian restaurants for dinner and I'm going to enjoy some really good lasagna and then back home for desert to have my favorite style birthday cake - double layered yellow cake with chocolate frosting.  It is definitely YUMMO, especially with a nice tall glass of milk.


So, thanks for reading this post today.  I'll be getting back to writing more frequently over the summer, so stay tuned.


God bless you all and have a wonderful day today.


I'm incredibly thankful and blessed for the life God has given me all these years so far.

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