and be converted and I heal them

Recently, I listed two (more) things I want to do before I die: one was attend Comic-Con; the other was to attend a Hillsong worship service. I'm adding another one. I need to attend Bethlehem Baptist to listen to the best pastor in America preach. I've posted videos of John Piper many times before. The one below shows him reminding all wanna-be evangelists that they can do nothing; that God does the eye-opening; that they merely tell the story then get out of the way.


deliberating together about this

The creators of a good movie put another movie into the theaters this weekend, and lo and behold, they placed fourth on the weekend box office list. Probably the biggest surprise since when the Passion cleaned up a few years ago. To put this into perspective, the new Batman flick would have to make 2.5 BILLION dollars to show the same kind of profit level compared to film production costs. Apparently church groups around the country are organizing trips to fill theaters, much like they did for Passion.

So riddle me this, Christian, you'll go en masse to see a movie, but you can't agree on whether or not dancing is a sin? You can all hop on a bus to the local drive-in, but you won't send out large teams to do missions work overseas? You can agree on what to do on a Saturday night as a church group, but a commitment to small groups? No, that's out of the picture.

Nice work, brethren. So glad you're okay with filling the coffers of gigantic corporate theater chains in a spirit of unity, but everything else related to unity is beyond your reach. Maybe they should rewrite the lyrics to that song. And they'll know we are Christians by our ticket stubs...


has not the Scripture said

"The Bible: God-breathed"
* Doctrine = "The teaching/instruction" {Titus2:1}
* Why study doctrine?
- To be more mature {Col2:6-7; Heb6:1}
- To not be led astray {Eph4:13-14}
- To have better judgment {Heb5:11-14}
* What is revelation?
- Disclosure of God's self & message to mankind
- General revelation {Ps19; Rom1:19-21}
- Special revelation {2Tim3:16; Heb1:1-2}
- Living Word = Christ; Written Word = Bible
- Sufficiency of Scripture -- everything we need to know, believe, & live as believers in Word
- Don't add to Scripture
- Nothing is sin unless explicit or implied in Word
* Plenary = "all of them"
* Proofs of Inspiration
- 1Tim3:16
- 2Pet1:21
- Commands to write down His Word {Ex17:14}
- Use of quotation {Matt15:4}
- Jesus' use of Scripture {Matt5:17-18; John10:35}
- NT assertions {1Tim5:18; 2Pet3:16}
- Writers' claims {1Cor2:13; 1Pet1:11-12}
- Historical manuscript sources
- Fulfilled prophecy

just as ugly as before

Enjoyed an amazing night with the wondrous one and friends tonight watching an amazing performance. Won't spoil the whole plot for you, but one scene caught my attention. The disfigured face of the phantom is seen by the lady he loves, who is obviously repulsed. He is angry that she saw him -- not angry at her, but angry at the situation because he knew his form would make it difficult for her to love him in return. He sings, "Fear can turn to love -- you'll learn to see, to find the man behind the monster: this repulsive carcass, who seems a beast, but secretly dreams of beauty."

Loving someone despite their hideousness is the heart of the Gospel, no? Rom5:8 tells us that the definition of love is that "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Unlike the lady protagonist, Christ can see past our ugliness, can see that we're made in the image of His Father, and then die for that beauty wrapped up in wretchedness. No unrequited love here; just an eternal one.


and when a flood occurred

I've linked to the video below before and wrote about what I love so much about it. But it's been awhile since I've seen it, and watching it today, still the same reaction as before. A quick search on Godtube and YouTube shows that the video has been watched about 16 million times. That doesn't even count the nearly 3,000 other versions of this that you get when you search "lifehouse skit" on either site. Even conservative estimates of 1,000 views of the other 3,000 versions puts the number of people having seen some form of the skit at 20,000,000, with reality probably far higher.

There is a growing conversation going on about the intersection between faith and culture. You can visit this site run by a friend for one perspective. Here's another perspective brought to you by the former founder of Evangelical Outpost. I know many believers think we should run from the world and stay as far away as possible. The success of the video below shows that maybe that isn't the right approach at all. Maybe the right approach is overwhelming the culture with the gospel as many millions of ways as we can.


they are unprofitable and worthless

You know what my reaction to THIS is? HA HA HA HA HA. Morons.

Let me get this straight: people are starving all over the world, roads are beyond repair all over the world, vaccines are needed all over the world, people live in sub-standard housing all over the world, but $8 billion for a broken machine is still worth the investment? And Christians are the ones with blind faith? Right, right, right, right. Similarly, the Titanic was man's pinnacle of invention in its day and thought unsinkable. And the Hubble telescope was thought to expand our knowledge of space and science despite its blurry vision.
For it is written, 'I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.' Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. {1Cor1:19-21}

will rest on him; but if not

Usually some reason for the ongoing restlessness some reason not to rest not to refresh but nothing comes to mind wakeful for weeks lost in some opposite dream state mind frozen an emptiness that weighs some mass spirit exhausted waiting for the reason looking for the purpose finding that voids say nothing but nothing


is offering service to God

"Glorifying God in Ministry"
* Ministry: Using whatever God has given me to serve Him & needs of others.
- Unbelievers {Matt5:14}
- Believers {Heb6:10}
* God-glorifying ministry is done in community
- "Ministry w/o relationship is just religious duty"
- Trinity = tri-unity -- perfect model of community {Gen1:26}
- Unified in purpose, Truth, ministry responsibility, love
* God-glorifying ministry reaches out to world
- How: World has endless need; fill whatever need it has
- With what: gospel of good news of Jesus Christ
* God-glorifying ministry builds up the church
- Church important to God {Eph5:23}
- Spiritual gifts exist for purpose of building body {Eph4:11-12,16}
- 20-80 principle -- what could we accomplish with better proportion?


and of our reason for

Question: should we bring a business perspective into thinking about how churches operate?

On the one hand, churches currently operate as business entities. They have to hire staff and budget like a business. They have to follow govt. restrictions like a business. They have to think of the future and plan for the future. They speak about growth. They have vision statements. They set goals.

On the other hand, they aren't businesses. They're about salvation, not profit. They think outside of the world rather than in it. They seek God's glory rather than personal glory (except Osteen and his ilk).

Been thinking of the ministries of my church, and unfortunately, when I do, I think in terms of ROI -- Return on Investment, for non biz types. Because I know churches have limited resources -- both financially, and in terms of time and people -- I don't think churches should be in the business of having as many ministries as there are people interested in particular causes. If an activity put on by a church doesn't result in something tangible, I question it's value. Just because something has always been done doesn't mean it should continue to be carried forth if I can't see the end effect.

You're going to tell me that I'll never see the eternal fruit of certain ministries and activities and that justifies their existence. Sure. Use divine reason. Like that's fair in this argument.


the one who had advised

When I think of temptation, my Screwtape Letters-inspired mind imagines a person deliberating with this shadowy figure on his shoulder whispering lies into his ears. We have this belief that when we are led astray it's because of Satan-sent messengers misleading you. But what if the Lord guides you astray, what of that?

Check out 2Sam17. Absalom is conspiring against David and his advisor Ahithophel gives him some good counsel that could potentially end David once and for all. Rather than take the good counsel right away, Absalom decides to get a second opinion and calls on Hushai the Archite who gives him very different advice, which he ends up taking. The second half of v14 explains why that was so: "For the Lord had ordained to thwart the good counsel of Ahithophel, in order that the Lord might bring calamity on Absalom."

There are lots of ways to explain this away without violating principles like free will, or a God that doesn't conspire against individuals. I'm not interested in exploring any of these lines of argument. I'm merely interested in this picture of whisperers sent into our lives to complicate our decision-making. Yes, we may have brought it upon ourselves, but it's an interesting picture nonetheless.


hear the words of the wise

Please read this interview with Franklin Graham. He must have the toughest job in the world -- trying to fill his father's shoes. And though he says, "I can never be him or replace him", that role is still thrust upon him.

The good news? He's more than up to the task.

The reporter (who's a complete moron) tries to goad him into controversial statements. Tries to make him compare himself to his dad and either claim to be greater or disparage his father's ministry; he does neither. The reporter tries to make him say a nasty comment about Islam; he instead quotes John14:6. The reporter tries to make him say something political; Frankie mentions that the Father's laws and standards trump the world's. The last provocation tries to make him pick sides on wedge issues -- pits abortion against "social issues" as if choosing life isn't a social issue?! -- and instead Frankie centers everything on the only thing that matters: the gospel of Jesus Christ.

No more calling you Frankie, then, Mr. Graham. You've more than earned my respect.


but as in foolishness

I'm a Star Wars fan and an examiner of popular culture, so I have to comment on THIS. Listen, I love the films as much as anyone (NOTE: Probably not true since I don't do anything as stupid as THIS), but having a respected college teach a course on Jedi mind tricks borders on the inane. The course prof makes the point that since the films are fictional, is it really any different than a course based on any other work of fiction? Well, yes. Because the whole force thing and jedi lifestyle are so bought into that a stupid cult began.

Voltaire once said, "If God did not exist, it would be necessary for man to invent him." Here's my version of that thought: God exists, and man still unnecessarily invents versions of Him.


the door of the sheep

For a future something; at least I hope that it's a future something. Unless I'm on some sort of ban. Nothing like banning the truth.
* Reasons for why Good Friday "good"
* 1Pet1:29, John1:19,36 (JtheB proclamation)
* Love: fulfillment of 3:16, perfect model of love
* Atonement: completion of law, payment of debt
* Mercy: deferral of payment deserved
* Blessing: set up for Easter and conquering of death, Eph1:7,11


of what you said that we believe

"What in the World are we Thinking?"
* Past doesn't create present -- future creates present
- Lord takes us where He wants to take us
* What is a Christian world-view?
- Everything you think is true is influenced by what you believe
- Centered on Word of God
- God-centered
* Diff twixt values and morals
- Value: how you feel about something (you decide)
- Morals: what you ought to do (God decides)
* Examples:
- Ecology: not how you feel about nature; what does God feel about nature, and does how we act around that belief reflect that
- Political scandals: not is what they do immoral; what is role of divinely-appointed office?
- Relationships: not how you feel about your significant other; what is God's view of relationships (marriage, et al)
* 1John2:15-17
- John3:16 world = people of the world
- 1John2:15 world = society, culture
- John3:16 love from God for people
- 1John2:15 "love of the Father" not God for people, but people for God
* Contrast in 1John2:15-17
- Love of world v love of Father (mutually exclusive, i.e. God & Mammon)
- Comes from world v comes from Father
- World passes away v eternal Father
* "If I'm out of touch, how do I know what happens next?"


instead of being a

Something different: the meaning behind people's half-truthed speech:

* Lance Armstrong is returning to cycling and expects to race in next year's Tour de France. Armstrong says, "The reason for this is to launch an international cancer strategy blah blah blah." Translation: I'm an attention hog and I miss the limelight. You and Favre both, Lance. You and Favre both.
* Polls say that the ridiculous price of gas is voters' primary concern for the presidential election. Translation: Nope, I'm really going to vote down traditional party lines. Just don't want to admit it.
* Focus on the Family is now on board the Straight Talk Express with Palin's nomination as VP. Translation: We normally speak ill of Catholics, but we're going to ignore Palin's faith because we like Republicans. Do me a favor, FotF. Don't talk. Don't talk.


may receive mercy and find grace

For much of this summer, daily reading of the Word has been more chore than delight -- all my heart's fault, I realize. Been trying to commit to treating my time with Him as the treasure it is meant to be. Always wonderful to see the insights that come out when the heart is right. Reading 2Sam14 last night, and an amazing verse stood out. John3:16 gets all the credit as the singular verse that perfectly encapsulates the Gospel. Well, take a look at the second half of 2Sam14:14:

"Yet God does not take away life, but plans ways so that the banished one will not be cast out from Him."

Another idea for the future bookshelf: a work with individual chapters focusing on all of the verses that express the gospel. You've got John3:16; you've got 2Sam14:14 now; you've got Ezek18:23,32. Yeah. This could go somewhere.


they were not confessing

Pastor on Sunday mentioned how every major revival began with massive repentance; that one of the clear signs of the work of the Holy Spirit was conviction of sin. A year or two ago, a fellow shepherd wondered aloud if one of the reasons for declining attendance was some hidden sin among the shepherds. The Achan incident in Josh7 is the Biblical precedence of sin holding back the work of the Lord. Pondered my own sins today, and wondered myself whether or not there was some truth in that in relation to the flock I will one day answer for.

Prayer is so important to this church that several sermons a year are devoted to prayer, a somewhat local prayer conference is pushed as if its some wonder drug, and quarterly concerts of prayer are conducted. But if repentance is so critical, where is its connection in all that we do? When is the sin sermon series? When is a seminar on repentance held? When are the quarterly concerts of confession?

Osteen critics point to his evil work as the antithesis of the gospel message -- a focus on blessing, blessing, blessing, and a complete passing over on pointing out sin. So if he's the antithesis, shouldn't the ideal then be a focus on sin, sin, sin?


will tear off their bonds; and strangers

"Prayer Walking 101"
* Our purpose as a church is to make disciples {Matt28:19-20}
* Satan & demons very real
- They exert power over people to keep them in darkness
- 2Cor4:4: Liar god of this world
- Col1:13: dominion of darkness
- Eph2:1-3: children of wrath in darkness
* Geographical areas have demons w/ degrees of power & control over people
- Eph6:10-12
- Dan10:12-13
* Revival comes to people on basis of prayer
- Rev20:1-8
- Mark9:29
- Eph6:10-20
* Spiritual authority often increased in an area as we walk in it & pray
- Gen13:14-17
- Josh1:3
- Luke10:1-2


came about from the Lord

For future message (?): Run-through of Joshua's recognition from whence all success came:
- Josh1 and the Lord keeps giving
- Josh3:5
- Stones in Josh4
- Jericho, and the Lord has given you the city
- Josh23-24


have made a separation between you and

Drove home from a meeting last night and listened to the radio. The DJ was speaking with some caller sharing memories about her (the caller's) mother. She told some story about finding her mother's Bible after her mother passed away, and finding these prayer notes in the back of the Bible, and discovering what a prayer warrior her mother was when alive. The DJ responded, "So you knew she was a strong woman of God, but didn't realize what a prayer warrior she was."

Sorry to rain on your nostalgic sympathy parade here, but I have to correct you. Can you really consider someone to be a strong person of God who wasn't also a prayer warrior? That's like saying so-and-so was an outstanding baseball player, but he couldn't bat or field.

Prayer is an essential element of every strong believer, along with Bible reading and service and leading a life of virtue. Missing out on one cannot be overcome by doing well in the other three. You can have slips every now and then, but consistency across these elements defines the strength of a walk. Absent them, be satisfied with your nominal label of person of God, Luke.


and denial of justice

I didn't grow up with anything; I was poor. The fact that I am not now in the same condition is a blessing from the Lord, I know this. But it does put me in a position where I can be of help to others without the same level of resources. Recently spoke to two relatives and asked them if they needed anything -- code for money. Both vehemently turned down my implied offer of help, as if I had offended them. The fact that both could use the help was of little relevance to them.

This is very much like the unbeliever's position with God. The Almighty freely offers the gift of salvation; already paid the price for eternity through Christ. And yet . . . and yet the unbeliever viciously shakes his head no, he's got it handled. He's fine on his own, thanks. Really, he's good. The fact that he absolutely needs the help and can't do it on his own is not his concern right now.

Pride is a powerful emotion. It can block needed help. Do not let it block eternity for you, friend.