Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Coming Soon - God's Wrath

I am currently having the great pleasure of reading AW Pink's classic work The Attributes Of God. As I was reading through Pink's chapter on God's wrath I was reminded of both the importance of this doctrine as well as it's lack of popularity in modern Evangelicalism. If you never read older authors then there are a lot of gems you're going to miss out on. Pink, obviously, also held to that notion as can be seen by his quote from the 17th century writer William Gurnall. Just read this quote and meditate on it for a good while. It'll be a great investment in some biblical perspective:

When I consider how the goodness of God is abused by the greatest part of mankind, I cannot but be of his mind that said, The greatest miracle in the world is God’s patience and bounty to an ungrateful world. If a prince hath an enemy got into one of his towns, he doth not send them in provision, but lays close siege to the place, and doth what he can to starve them. But the great God, that could wink all His enemies into destruction, bears with them, and is at daily cost to maintain them. Well may He command us to bless them that curse us, who Himself does good to the evil and unthankful. But think not, sinners, that you shall escape thus; God’s mill goes slow, but grinds small; the more admirable His patience and bounty now is, the more dreadful and unsupportable will that fury be which ariseth out of His abused goodness. Nothing smoother than the sea, yet when stirred into a tempest, nothing rageth more. Nothing so sweet as the patience and goodness of God, and nothing so terrible as His wrath when it takes fire. (William Gurnall, 1660).

Monday, September 28, 2009

Crossing Paths With The FBI And A US Marshall - In One Day!!

Most of us watched enough TV as kids to gain at least some sort of fantasy based understanding of the FBI or what it's like to be tracked down by a US Marshall. Yes, I must confess to my own personal guilt of watching too many Tommy Lee Jones movies and having a twisted fascination with alien conspiracies. I'm no dummy - I know how many spaceships they've got impounded in Roswell and I know that a US Marshall is someone who persitently pursues people who are convicted of crimes they never commit . . . or so I thought.

While attending the Deeper Conference at First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Georgia (The church that Johnny Hunt pastors) I had the great fortune of brushing with the law. Two members of the church, Todd and Jeremy, were on the scene to help me with a transport dilemna. They were two of the kindest people I could encounter to help me out - a couple of godly men. Once they had sorted my transport problems we were able to engage in a bit of social chit chat and it was then that I saw their badges! Todd informed me that he was an agent with the Federal Bereau of Investigation (FBI) and Jeremy was a US Marshall. They had plenty of cool stories to tell but there's only one that I will share today. And that is the huge challenge faced by Christian men and women within these organizations to glorify God within their professions.

The pressures come from every side for our brothers and sisters that work within these agencies as well as those serving in the military and police. Life threatening dangers, temptation to compromise integrity, the infringements shift work can make on family life, and being an active member of the local church are all challenges that can conspire against our brothers and sisters within these services. Couple those pressures with the challenge of continually dealing with, and working alongside, unregenerate people who are hostile to Christianity and you've got a dangerous mix of ever-present obstacles to running a strong race and finishing well. So please pray for them and next time you bump into one on the street (regardless of their profession of faith), thank them for the job they do . . . and tell them your praying for them . . . and slip 'em a Gospel tract.

To Todd and Jeremy, thank you for the job you do! It was a real priveledge to meet you. May you both abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Been To America, Back In Denmark

Well yes, I have returned from the USA and what an amazingly good trip it was. So good in fact that I'm still processing and digesting all the great things I learnt, experiences I had, and the profound level of fellowship. I'm just not ready to talk about it yet. The Deeper Conference in Atlanta was definitely a major highlight. The sheer caliber of preaching and teaching in such an intense format is overwhelming for someone like me coming from the barren land of Denmark. Here is a little bite sized piece of Deeper for you to snack on:



I'll be speaking more about the Deeper Conference in some later posts but one thing I will mention, which was of great encouragement to me, was the number of people who recognized me and thanked me for this blog and some of the videos I've made. I do need to be wary of flattery but it is comforting to know that my tiny labor in an obscure part of the world is touching the lives of people. One of these people interviewed me between messages while I was sitting in a pew at the conference. I've posted it because it gives an update on our labor in Denmark and desire to see biblical churches planted - and thankfully we are now seeing some positive signs!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Kirk Cameron Masterclass - How to Witness to a Catholic

I have mentioned on earlier posts how much I respect Kirk Cameron as an authentic Christian who actively shares the Gospel. Just over three years ago on "Way of the Master Radio" Kirk was in the studio and a Catholic guy named Tim called in asking some questions. What followed was an amazing fly on the wall experience of listening to a born again Christian witness to a Catholic with tremendous wisdom and knowledge of the Scriptures.

This is a brilliant case of turning on the light instead of exposing the darkness. Kirk never points out to Tim the erronous doctrines of Catholicism but rather explains the Gospel with clarity and Tim joins the dots. Click here to download the podcast and hear the encounter. It starts about four minutes into the program. Kirk teaches us that we can lead a horse to water, and while we can't make it drink, we can salt his oats.

But the story doesn't end there! It was very apparent that Tim was massively convicted. As Tim got off the phone they pleaded with him to think long and hard about their conversation. Well Tim did think long and hard and actually called the radio show back about a week later. Download this podcast and find out what happened to Tim. Tim calls at 26 minutes into the program (have a box of tissues handy).

Pay particular attention to Tim's hunger for God's word and desire to witness to others - generally strong indicators of genuine conversion.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Real Prosperity Gospel

Those who know me or read this blog should know that I'm a pretty transparent guy. Getting a good feel for what I love and what I hate requires almost no hermeneutical skill whatsoever. I love the Gospel, the beautiful glorious Gospel which reveals the stunning kindness of God in saving wretched unworthy sinners like myself through the unspeakable substitutionary death of Christ in the place of sinners, satisfying God's holy wrath that I deserved. Grace is amazing when you understand that God punished Christ as if he had committed my litany of crimes, and I get rewarded as if I lived Christ's flawless holy life. The glorious mystery of how God could grant me pardon without violating His character and nature. These are precious things of infinite value.

On the other hand, I hate the so called "prosperity gospel" that dominates the airwaves of modern "Christian television". Those who make Jesus a means to an end instead of exalting Him as the glorious bottom line of everything in life. The fact that they focus so much time on the material things of this world and the gratification of our flesh only serves to show how little they think of the infinite price Christ paid with His lifes blood in order that sinners could be reconciled to a Holy God. I've had one too many run-ins with this so called "gospel" in recent weeks and I thought it appropriate on the Lord's day to expound the true prosperity gospel.

It is also no secret that I love the preaching ministry of Paul Washer. He is a real man who is not enticed with the empty riches of this world but tirelessly preaches Christ crucified. I can't think of anyone better to illuminate the true biblical prosperity gospel . . .

Friday, September 18, 2009

Spanking - Grilling A Sacred Cow (Part 7)

The Savior

It has been said that as parents we spend the first two years of a child’s life teaching them to walk and talk and the next twenty years trying to make them sit down and shut up. But spanking done properly drives deeper than external behavior. It realizes that sinful external behavior is the fruit of a sinful heart. And only God is powerful enough to change that sinful heart. Rectifying behavior is a nice byproduct and a superficial goal. But if we approach discipline with an eternal perspective we will see something much bigger.

Every time that you discipline a child and every time that you decide not to discipline a child, you are telling that child something about God and you are hardwiring into that child lessons about God that are going to be there for the rest of the life of that child. (Russell D Moore – The Purpose Driven Paddle audio)

The heart of biblical discipline is to teach our children about God. It teaches them that sin has serious consequences. It reveals that sin is the fruit of their sinful nature and it cultivates a hunger for righteousness. Now we simply aren’t powerful enough to make our children righteous, but our loving discipline done right will point them to the only source of true righteousness – the Savior Jesus Christ.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (IICorinthians 5:21 ESV).

So don’t avoid that sacred cow called spanking. Trust the Maker’s Manual and
take it by the horns!

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Spanking - Grilling A Sacred Cow (Part 6)

The Scriptures

The big picture that hangs above this discussion is the authority of Scripture. What is most alarming about “Christian” parents who refuse to spank their children is not a low view of physical discipline, but a low view of Scripture. When you hear a friend utter the words “I know the Bible says this but . . . “ you can be sure that the rest of the sentence will be irrelevant. IITimothy 3:16 tells us that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness”.

You might have seen the popular bumper sticker with the words “God said it, I believe it, that settles it!” But the fact of the matter is that when it comes to the necessity of physical discipline in child rearing – God said it and that settles it whether we believe it or not!

Concludes Friday with part 7 - The Savior

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Spanking - Grilling A Sacred Cow (Part 5)

The Straw Man

A “straw man argument” is when an opponent’s position is misrepresented and then argued against. Modern psychology has employed this tactic to great effect in distorting what Scripture says about physical discipline. Heated rhetoric is often deployed in an attempt to portray the “rod of correction” approach to discipline as one of violence, anger, and physical harm. Many churchgoers buy into this lie and shun what Scripture clearly teaches. Author Tedd Tripp sheds much needed light on what the “rod” really is:

The rod is a parent, in faith toward God and faithfulness toward his or her children, undertaking the responsibility of careful, timely, measured, and controlled use of physical punishment to underscore the importance of obeying God, thus rescuing the child from continuing in his foolishness until death (Shepherding a Child’s Heart p104).

The godly parent understands that healthy communication works hand in hand with physical discipline. He never disciplines out of frustration, anger, or revenge and never to inflict physical harm. Famous Bible teacher John Piper had these profound words to say “you don't damage a child. You don't give him a black eye or break his arm. Children have little fat bottoms so that they can be whopped” (http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/AskPastorJohn/ByTopic/104/3594_Would_Jesus_spank_a_child/). Godly parenting sees spanking as a biblically mandated and integral part of lovingly raising children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord”. Better still is the joy of reconciliation that follows the satisfactory punishment of rebellion.

Physical discipline is merely a shadow of the discipline that God metes out to His children. In fact, Hebrews 12 tells us that discipline from our Heavenly Father confirms that we are His children. What better way to reflect this truth to our children than by discharging our God ordained duty as parents who lovingly discipline.

Continues on Wednesday with part 6 - The Scriptures

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Spanking - Grilling A Sacred Cow (Part 4)

The Stakes

So how important is it to deal with the sinful nature? According to Scripture, the stakes are huge:

Discipline your son while there is hope, And do not desire his death (Proverbs 19:18 NASB). The imperative to discipline “while there is hope” certainly implies that a time is coming when it will be too late. “Do not desire his death” – it is clear that God sees discipline as a matter of life and death.

Thou shalt beat him with the rod and shalt deliver his soul from hell (Proverbs 23:14 KJV). Not only is discipline a matter of life and death, but physical discipline has eternal ramifications.

And if you love your children too much to spank them then consider this verse: Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him (Proverbs 13:24 ESV).

So why should spanking be an integral element of disciplining our children? Because God said so – that’s why!!!

Continues on Monday with part 5 - The Straw Man

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Spanking - Grilling A Sacred Cow (Part 3)

The Sinner

Recognizing our sinful nature should be a big no-brainer for any parent. It’s why doors have locks, banks have vaults, and jails are full. The Bible teaches that sin is transgression of God’s law (IJohn 3:4) and the Ten Commandments express this in our thoughts, words, and deeds. They reveal that our offences against God run much deeper than we can imagine, leaving all of humanity guilty before God (Romans 3:23).

The root of the problem goes way deeper than our sinful behavior. Scripture does not teach us that we are sinners because we sin, it teaches us that we sin because we are sinners. It is our nature. Nowhere is this more evident than in the lives of our children. We never have to teach them to lie, covet, rebel, or act selfishly - our little “angels” are all born with a PHD.

Continues on Sunday with part 4 - The Stakes

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Spanking - Grilling A Sacred Cow (Part 2)

The Stronghold

When it comes to child rearing and discipline it would seem that modern psychology has hijacked the discussion altogether. The general thrust of this approach is aimed at building a healthy self esteem in the child rather than pointing out the error of his way. There are only two problems with the philosophy of self-esteem; one, it’s unbiblical and two, it doesn’t work (other than that it’s ok). Nowhere does Scripture teach us to have a high view of self. In fact it consistently teaches the exact opposite. Proverbs 3:5 tells us to trust in the Lord with all our heart and not to lean on our own understanding.

Many secular “experts” insist that all forms of of physical punishment are abusive and seriously injurious to the psyche of the child. Some even claim that parents should use no form of negative correction with children – positive reinforcement alone is sufficient, they say. Scripture says otherwise. In fact, the Bible prescribes corporal punishment and says it is a necessary element of parental love. (John Macarthur – The Fulfilled Family p118-119)

Why doesn’t self-esteem work? It doesn’t work because it fails to recognize what lies at the core of human nature . . .

Continues on Friday with part 3 - The Sinner

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Monday, September 7, 2009

Spanking - Grilling A Sacred Cow (Part 1)

Have you ever seen the image of some sacred cow in an Indian village wandering aimlessly and unrestrained? The hungry villagers know the cow is there. They know that steak tastes good, but they would rather go hungry than rock the Hindu boat. To those of us who profess Christ the image is both offensive and ridiculous . . . . . or is it?? Do sacred cows roam the pages of your Bible, ignored and left alone? Are there doctrines you would rather leave untended? Do you shudder at the thought of wrestling with the hard truths of Scripture? Do you use Wite-out for a highlighter pen?

The prevailing wind of Modern Christianity has been a “consumer driven” approach to teaching and preaching. Potentially divisive subjects are either ignored or pushed to the sidelines in the pursuit of a doomed marriage between Scripture and Social Science. This consumer driven churchgoer is more comfortable hearing about hunger than hell, would rather focus on AIDS than abortion, and would sooner hear the virtues of self-esteem over spanking when it comes to raising his children.

It is this issue of spanking that has become a sacred cow in many modern churches and has become a subject so sensitive that many preachers just will not touch it. The Bible speaks explicitly on the subject so why the radio silence from the pastor in the pulpit to the person in the pew, and why has the discussion been blacklisted when parents compare notes? I believe it's high time that this sacred cow got carved up and grilled and served with a side of open dialogue!

Living in Europe it is seen as a huge taboo and something that secular humanist philosophy invalidates (by continually searching for and never finding any evidence for the innate goodness of man). Over the coming fortnight we are going to look at my six "s's" of the biblical case for spanking. The Stronghold, the Sinner, the Stakes, the Strawman, the Scriptures, and the Savior. Yes, I am a graduate of the Rick Warren school of alliteration and am very proud that I managed to begin each section with an "s".

Continued on Wednesday with part 2 - The Stronghold

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Coming To America

Dear fellow readers, my bags are packed and I am about to catch a plane to the USA in order to attend the Deeper Conference in Atlanta featuring Ray Comfort, Krk Cameron, Todd Fiel, Emeal "EZ" Zwayne, Mark Spence, Ravi Zacharias, Johnny Hunt, Greg Koukl, and Mark Cahill.



I can't wait and if you are attending keep an eye out for me and say hi. Soon after "Deeper" I will be attending First Baptist Church in Cullman, Alabama where Kirk Cameron will be preaching. If you're anywhere in the area I'd love to see you there!

Due to my absence and uncertainty over internet access (do they have it in America?) I have already written my blog posts for the next fortnight. Commencing tomorrow I will be publishing a seven part series on the often taboo subject of spanking. It is a sacred cow that needs a good grilling (especially for those of us in ultra liberal Europe). So be sure to tune in and check out this series and the subsequent inside info from my trip the the USA!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Foxes Book of Emergents With Hurt Feelings - Brian McLaren (Part 3)

There is a lot of coded rhetoric that oozes from the mouth of Brian McLaren. It often centres around the emergent idea of "bringing the kingdom" through social programs and not preaching the Gospel. It generally serves as a great smokescreen because who is going to argue against helping the poor and fighting social inequality. In the following audio John Macarthur (the other voice you'll hear is Todd Friel of Wretched Radio) clears the smokescreen through a sound grasp of Scripture and the Gospel itself. I found this really helpful because something very sinister lies beneath the surface of these "humble" self proclaimed good samaritans . . .



The following article is courtesy of R. Scott Clark at www.heidelblog.wordpress.com and is a great expose on all this "bringing the kingdom" talk that is a constant thread in Brian McLaren's conversation.

Sunday night I heard a sermon on Acts 28 during which my attention was drawn to the way Luke uses the expression, “βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ” (Kingdom of God). I was struck by eschatological character of Luke’s conception (and by implication, Paul’s conception, as Luke reports his preaching).That passage pushed me to go back to the beginning of Acts to see how the expression occurs in the rest of the book. Though we rightly think of Matthew’s gospel as the “kingdom” gospel, it is interesting to note that Luke begins Acts by summarizing Jesus’ instruction of the disciples “περὶ τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ θεοῦ” (about the kingdom of God). The disciples, of course, still thinking like dispensationalists, theonomists, and pharisees wanted to know when Jesus was going to establish an earthly dominion. How did Jesus answer their query? By taking visible, bodily leave of them! The ascension is Jesus’ response to the disciples’ lust for this-worldly power, for the restitution of the Mosaic-Davidic-Solmonic theocracy. His answer to the query was also, of course, the promise of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the establishment of the visible church through the ministry of Word and sacrament and confirmed, in the apostolic period, by signs and wonders.

Luke characterizes Philip the Evangelist’s preaching ministry (Acts 8:12) with the expression: “εὐαγγελιζομένῳ” (preaching the Good News) “περὶ τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ θεοῦ” (about the kingdom of God). Luke quickly fills in the blank as to what he means by “kingdom,” however, as he connects the message about the kingdom of God not to anyone or anything else but “τοῦ ὀνόματος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ,” i.e. “of the name of Jesus the Christ.” In other words, Philip’s Good News was about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Luke further narrows the conception of the “βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ” by connecting it to the administration of the sacrament (i.e., the covenant sign and seal) of salvation: baptism. The essential character of the Kingdom of God is eschatological but, in Acts thus far, its only earthly manifestation is Christ-centered and ecclesiastical in character.

In 14:22 the fundamentally eschatological character of the “βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ” is made clear when the preaching of Paul and Barnabas is characterized in terms of entering the Kingdom of God through “many tribulations.” Immediately, the message is contextualized in terms of the visible, institutional church (v. 23) where elders are appointed with prayer and fasting. The instruments of the “βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ” are counter-intuitive and decidedly spiritual. For Luke to think about the kingdom is to think in eschatological terms but when he thinks about its manifestation in the earth, he thinks of the visible, institutional church.

Without a broader context, the brevity of the references in Acts 19:8 and 20:25 might be enigmatic but as it is, we do not have to guess at the content of the Apostle’s evangelical preaching. He was pointing his hearers in the synagogues and in the churches to Jesus the Messiah, the fulfillment of the promises and the ascended and reigning king who earned his throne with blood and a cross. That this is so is made certain by Acts 28:23:

From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God (διαμαρτυρόμενος τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ) and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.

The book ends much as it began: with preaching about kingdom of God. This time it is not our Lord but it is the Apostle Paul. We find him in prison but the Kingdom is not imprisoned nor is the good news of the kingdom imprisoned. Paul proclaimed the “βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ” which Luke identifies, epexegetically, as “teaching about Jesus Christ” (Acts 28:31). Indeed, it seems to have been Paul’s burden to continue to do exactly what our Lord himself began to do just before his ascension. To convince folk that the “βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ” is not an earthly program obtained by planning and administration or by the proper distribution of goods (even though there was a program for poverty relief within the visible church), or even of healing (which certainly occurred as part of the ministry of the Word), but it is fundamentally other-worldly, heavenly (located where Jesus the King is!) and that it has broken into history in the person of Jesus the Messiah and in the outpouring of the Spirit and his work of the ascended Lord through his Spirit in Apostles through the gospel. Whoever is united to Christ by faith alone, by sovereign gift of the Spirit alone, is a citizen of his kingdom (Phil 3). That kingdom is consistently administered in Acts by the preaching of the Word and the administration of sacraments.

There is no obvious evidence of any political or cultural agenda associated with the “βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ” in Acts. At every point when the Apostles had opportunity to “speak truth to power,” to challenge the socio-economic or political or cultural status quo they refused. According to many modern conceptions of the Kingdom of God, the disciples failed rather badly to “bring in the kingdom” or to restore it. Instead Paul insisted on preaching the foolishness of the crucified Messiah and the foolishness of his resurrection. Terrible way to take back a culture I know, but there it is. Perhaps the apostles learned something at Pentecost? Perhaps they learned that the kingdom isn’t something we bring in? Perhaps they learned that it isn’t a matter of culture or earthly power or influence, but of the inbreaking of the power of salvation through faith alone in Christ the king alone, in whom alone the kingdom is embodied and in whom alone the kingdom comes in this world through the proclamation of the gospel?

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