Monday, March 26, 2007

a Kempis Quote

"You do well to cultivate patience in putting up with the shortcomings, the various disabilities of other people; only think how much they have to put up with you!" (a Kempis)

Earthly Possesions

Have you ever wondered why you are not rich? (If you are not.) God knows our hearts and what is best for us. Our faith is strengthened when we have little. It is easy to turn away our trust in God in times of plenty, but when we live day to day, week to week, we always find ourselves dependent on him. Boasting in the Lord's provisions is where our praise should lie. Wealth brings with it the tendency of prideful boasting in what we have and not what God has done for us. I am thankful for a humble living and am tempted to ask for more, rather than trusting God for less. He knows though that I would be to prideful to have more than I do. We should ask for things such as wisdom, a closer walk with God, etc. instead. Such things are priceless.
If on the other hand God has blessed you with much, never forget that this wealth is on loan from God and can be easily removed. I have personally witnessed one strike of lightning (actual lightning) cost one man millions.
Be a good steward and bless those in need. What would be your reply if Jesus said "go and sell all that you have and give to the poor?" Could you part with it?
"You are better off with a little, if having a lot is going to make you conceited" (a Kempis).

Saturday, March 24, 2007


I was once a legalist, a Pharisee above Pharisees, being young and knowing everything. I was a novice preacher and as such was lifted up with pride. It is a very lofty task to take on the role of judge, juror, and executioner. I was even awarded an award specially customized for me and one other fellow Pharisee in college from the Baptist Student Union--"the hell fire and brimstone award." I still have it and keep it on my desk as a reminder of how not to act.
God has a way of humbling the pride! Take my advice learn the virtue of compassion before you have to learn the lesson of humility. Let me put it this way. If you live by the law you will die by it.
What makes a person so zealous to look at what another person does rather than where one stands (in Christ JUSTIFIED) but a spirit of legalism. An honest look into our own heart on this subject should make us blush at the thought of "fixing" others because they aren't quite up to standard.
Don't get me me wrong I love God's law and we should be concerned with the work spiritual support in one another's lives. But we should be cautious not to cross the line from true spiritual concern for others to being in the business of beating the banner of legalism over their heads. Sometimes I wonder if I did more damage than good as a young novice preacher. I have learned a lot since I knew everything, and God is still working on me. I am not perfect but I am better than I was (joke).

Friday, March 23, 2007


Do you ever feel like you are not as close to God or that he is not as close to you anymore? In other words are you or have you ever been spiritually depressed? During the infancy stage of our life as a Christian we are overwhelmed by the presence of God, but sometimes it is as if our love of God has grown cold. It is as if all fellowship with God is gone.
This subject is one that has been lost among contemporary evangelical theology. The emphasis on man's part in salvation and Christian living has been thrown so far out of balance that to approach the subject of coldness to the love of God is spiritual suicide. One will be labeled as having sin in his life, being backsliding in some way or another, not having really had a conversion experience, not having enough faith, etc. The truth is that God some times hides his face from us. The old theologians called this stage in a Christian's life a "winter of the soul," the night," "desertion."
It is not your fault! Did you think that spiritual maturity was going to be easy? It is all about growing up. Sometimes the water is choppy on the surface but the current is strong underneath and is taking its vessel in a certain direction.
When God hides himself do not loose heart. Because after the winter comes the spring and summer, after the cold night comes the new day, after the storm comes the calm, after feelings of desertion comes a new time of visitation. When God is away we are learning the lesson of how sweet it is when he is near. (When is the last time you heard a sermon on this topic?)

Monday, March 19, 2007

a Kempis Quote

"We like to have everybody around us quite perfect, but our own faults--we never seem to correct them" (a Kempis).


Sorry I have been away. I guess I had writer's blog (for Leslie).
There is the concept of authority in every aspect of life: civil, domestic, work, but most importantly there is God's authority. In philosophy there is a fallacy called an appeal to authority. But it is not always a fallacy when one appeals to ultimate authority. God has absolute authority, He is Lord of all. He reveals His will to us through His word. What God says is the say all end all. My pastor Dr. Sproul (appeal to authority) commented that the bumper sticker, "God said it. I believe it. And that settles it.", is fallacious. In fact it should state. "God said it! That settles it!" God's authority is still authoritative whether we like it or not.
Do not live another minute without going to God's word to see what it is that He has said concerning how we ought to live our lives. Do not be so presumptuous as to think that all is well in your life at work, at home, or in the church if you have not "tested to see if these things are true" (Acts 17:11). We all have to answer to authority. I am too messed up to be autonomous in this respect and there are too many religious fanatics to take the preacher's word for it. My boss may be wrong and just because it is the law does not make it right.
True authority allows itself to be questioned. The best test to see if you are working for a spiritually mature Christian, or submitting to a spiritually mature husband is to question a specific action on their part. If the pastor gets all flustered and mad he may be a legalistic tyrant and this will be your cue to run as fast as you can, your husband will probably (if he has attained to a level of true spiritual maturity) say "you make the decision." Your boss may fire you! Remember I said question authority, not challenge it! Really, a spiritual mature boss is open to suggestions. Are you?

Friday, March 9, 2007

The Extent of Our Fallenness

Some people are worse than others. Also, we are not as corrupt as we could be. There is no "bottom" for depths of sin to reach. Think of Hitler! It is easy to blame those that have it worse than us when we don't do the same things. What I struggle with may be foreign to you and what you struggle with may be foreign to me. "Why don't you just get right!" is easier said when one has been blessed with a greater ability for natural goodness.
We can be good and not be Christians but we can also be bad and be Christians. Don't loose control of yourself just yet. I am getting to the point. We are all fallen by nature in Adam and because of our birth into the world with a sin nature we are disqualified from having free access to God apart from being justified in Christ. If we have broken God's law in one point we are guilty and need salvation. We have all sinned and fall short--big sins or small. Because we have not been born in and corrupted by sin to the extent of having lost our image of Godness we are in a sense capable of being righteous--even an unbeliever! But this righteousness is not enough to buy safe passage into the presence of God. It is but filthy rags in his sight! And it must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees. Luther noted that there is an active and passive righteousness. Active in what we do and passive in what Christ has done for us (he imputed his righteousness to our account). Goodness just seems to come "natural" to some while it is more work for others. Some struggle with besetting sins their whole life while the concept is foreign to others. Are you good in this respect? If so have compassion on us big time sinners! We have a longer journey of sanctification. And remember it is when you think you stand tall that you fall!
"No one who considers his frailty would dare to attribute to his own strength his chasity and innocence, so that he has less cause to love you--as if he had less need of your mercy by which you forgive the sins of those converted to you. If man is called by you, follows your voice, and has avoided doing those acts which I am recalling and avowing in my own life, he should not mock the healing of a sick man by the physician, whose help has kept him from falling sick, or at least enabled him to be less gravely ill. He should love you no less, indeed even more; for he sees that the one who delivered me from great sickness of my sins is also he through whom he may see that he himself has not been a victim of the same great sickness" (Augustine Confessions). "There are some who have a rough passage , you may say, all through their lives, while the tests to which others are subjected are gentle enough" (a Kempis, Imitation).

Thursday, March 8, 2007

a Kempis Quote

"When a man is at the mercy of his own feelings, he misinterprets the most innocent actions, always ready to believe the worst; whereas your peaceable man sees good everywhere; at peace in himself, he isn't suspicious of others" (Thomas a Kempis The imitation of Christ).


Why is it that we hurt and are hurt by the ones we love the most? A simple answer is that the world will not put up with us long enough for us to hurt them. The worldly attitude is one of zero tolerance--no second chances. (Just look around the next time you accidentally cut someone off in traffic.) Christians are bound to hang in there though when we are being hurt not only by the world but even by those that love us and are loved by us the most. The world offers an easy way out divorce, revenge, withdraw, alcohol, drugs, violence, and the list is near infinite.
Christ suffered abuse for our sake because he loved us. Remember to follow Jesus' example and not only pray for your enemies, but forgive those that hurt you, especially those that are closest to you, and loved the most by you. Here is where true Christian character is tested. It is easier to forgive the world. In a sense it is distant from us. But do we have what it takes to absorb hurt from those closest to us without striking out in like turn with an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, by building walls and shutting one another out, or giving up altogether. Will you see the beauty in and the peace that comes from acting out this biblical principle, "Love covers a multitude of sins"? If you are waiting for the one that has offended you to "get right" the wait may be long and to no avail. Is this the way Jesus displayed his love for us? On the contrary while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Love is not always only for those that deserve it! Or are you one that is without offence?

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Bad Sermons

I love God's word. When we go to church we go to hear God's word. It is the message not the messenger that is important. Every preacher does not have the ability to wax elegant behind the pulpit. But every preacher ought to be able to rightly divide the word of truth. Furthermore a sermon should be moist to the taste and not dry to the soul.
Is it possible for a sermon that contains the very word of God to be a bad sermon? YOU TELL ME!
In the sense that it is the fallible messenger that is bringing the message it can be. I read the bible, even the genealogies, and if you can do that you love the Word!
preachers should ask themselves if what they are saying would be worth hearing if they were on the receiving end.
Forgive me if this complaint is inappropriate. I heard the most boring sermon in my life last Sunday (not at my church). The preacher made sure that we understood that he was not bound by the clock (by way of announcement). [He wasn't bound by way of compassion either with subjecting us to his tedious sermon.] He also said that the church is used to hearing sermonettes because we are Christianettes. I love to hear the word preached and can listen for hours, but in so far as something of substance is being said. I sometimes have the tendency to be critical over theological issues. I have in my mind preached every sermon I have ever heard better than the preacher could. Joking aside though I know its harder than it looks. Point being, say something of substance if you are going to take on the task of preaching God's word. It is not who could do better in this case it is who couldn't. Has the church grown content with preacherettes? P.S. I am sorry for subjecting my fellow Christians to bad sermons and I apologize and hope to never do it again.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Good Works

We are called to do good works. God does not need us but wants to use us. It is pride that keeps us from working in the service of God. Intentions are not good enough. Everyone has the intention of doing something but we rarely take hand to plow. Do you want to hear good and faithful servant? It will be shameful to be replaced by another to do the duty assigned to us. We like to hear the story of Esther and the verse quoted "who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this" but let us not forget the first part of that verse, "Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king's palace if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise from another place, but you and your fathers house will perish." (Esther 4:14). What will you do today by way of putting your hand to the plow that is different from your ordinary routine of feeling pridefully good about yourself with all of your good intentions? Who is in need that you can help?

Monday, March 5, 2007


God is the ultimate source of all truth. What is true is that which corresponds to reality from God's perspective. More practical though, truth can be used in a constructive way or a destructive way. The truth hurts in more ways than one. It hurts to find out the truth of our sins especially if someone else points them out. We should be heralds of truth, but with compassion. One can use truth like using a wrecking ball demolishing everything in site, and one can use truth like a skilled surgeon. Do we use truth appropriately in evangelism and in respect to our Christian brothers and sisters? Do you bash with a wrecking ball the one that needs precision surgery? "On some have compassion others save with fear" (Jude 22). I love the truth but hate the way it is pointed out to me sometimes. Carry the banner of truth Don't hit people over the head with it!

Sunday, March 4, 2007


It is a mistake, more often than not, to use the moral character of Christians as an argument in evangelism. This ought not to be so--but it is. In fact I know of lost people, pagan and religious, that out live many Christians on a moral plane. Why do we have a tendency to make Christians out to be better than they are? Sometimes Christians are the worst people I know.
The right approach to evangelism is to point out that the Gospel is for the sick not the well. I needed saving because I am a sinner and I don't mean this in the past tense. Are you? It is true that we are new creatures in Christ and he is to be Lord over our lives, but this is for another entry. (Even now I felt the need to qualify things for the moralists. What a dilemma!)
Pastors fall into scandal, new Christians doubt their salvation and wonder if they bought into a lie, older but not mature Christians live in constant shame and depression; we are afraid that the church will throw us out, all because of the myth of perfectionism. Can we state the cliche "we are still sinners" with true substance? If you do watch out, we might get honest with ourselves and the world might see that their sins can be forgiven too.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

God's will

God requires total submission of our wills to Him. Are you prepared to give over all the desires of your heart? It is a given that natural desires must be given up for spiritual desires and it is God that gives us the desires of our heart, but what if He wants you to return them and change them in for a new course in life? Are you willing to do that?
I have been going to school for a long time and am prepared to earn a PhD. This was the desire of my heart for many years. Am I willing to give it up? Is it for God's glory that I would accomplish such a task or for satisfying the status quo of what qualifies one in the world's eyes? If it is the latter I must give up my academic endeavor. "When they perceived they were uneducated and untrained men, they were astonished and they recognized that they had been with Jesus" Act. 4:13. This is all that really matters! "for myself, I would sooner know what contrition feels like than how to define it" (A Kempis) And a friend once told me that even rectal thermometers have degrees!

Friday, March 2, 2007

On judging others and ourselves

If we could be concerned as much about the sinner as we are the pointing out of the sin we could rest assured that a higher level of spiritual maturity has been achieved. In fact have you looked at your own spiritual short comings half as intense as your struggling neighbor who should have your compassion and not your judgment? You know the saying: the young man cries justice and the old man cries mercy. Be careful you just might get justice! Let us take it to heart! "Meanwhile, if you've a good eye for other people's faults, don't forget they're watching you" (Thomas a Kempis) Let the one without sin cast the first stone.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

On Knowing Good and Evil

Absolute goodness is found in God. One cannot know evil apart from knowing good, but one can know good apart from knowing evil. It is absolute goodness that gives definition (not authorship) to evil and not the other way around. God knows evil for it is defined in terms opposite him. Augustine was right when he said that evil is the privation of good. Man knows evil because it is a part of him. Thus is the meaning of Gen. 3:22 "Then the Lord God said, 'Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil."