Archive for May, 2011

Thoughts from a Young Man: “Cultivate Obedient Men not Skilled Men”

We are not to be, primarily, cultivating skilled preachers and teachers. Dear Brothers we need to be cultivating hearts of love and passion for the saviour. As we cultivate faithful obedience the gifts of the Spirit will become evident. We should seek to see disciples grow in the use of those skills but above that we should seek that they would be faithful in the wholeness of their lives. Teachers and Preachers are important. We have the command to entrust the gospel to to worthwhile men who can teach it to others but that teaching must be in accord with faithfulness. If we are fostering obedience and love the men and women in our care will use their varied gifts faithfully and in time they will use their gifts obediently. Various gifts and various individuals bring specific temptations and that is again a manner of teaching faithfulness and obedience. I am not against producing wonderful leaders, please don’t hear that. We need wonderful leaders who love the Lord deeply and will be examples of Christ. We need men and women who know the Lord with a passion that roots and goes beyond their gifts.
Leaders of the church, have placed on them, a greater expectation to meet the standards of holiness but the standard we are all called to meet is the same; Christ.
We must avoid the the fault of our fathers and grandfathers who reduced fundamentalism to agreement to several points of doctrine. We must avoid producing eloquent preachers who have right doctrine but no unction. Avoid creating men who have strong words but no lives of conviction. Moreover, not all are called to such positions and such lives are not for our leaders but for every christian in every place. Such holy lives are not for the preachers because they are held to a higher standard. Leaders of the church, have placed on them, a greater expectation to meet the standards of holiness but the standard we are all called to meet is the same; Christ.
Let us pursue obedient-faithful use of gifts. That is merely an extension of the life of love and obedience we have already cultivated. Indeed, in is such cultivation that we will see the gift we have been given manifested and we will see the higher call to use those gifts in loving pursuit of Christlikeness. They are tools for the service of the church in pursuing Christ-likeness and areas of need for greater faithful obedience. The gifts are born of of the Spirit for obedience; obedience does not beget the gifts.
Our goal is Christlikeness and that WILL require us to use the talents HE has given us in service to the kingdom.
Let us not depart from this task of sanctification in holiness. Our goal is Christlikeness and that WILL require us to use the talents HE has given us in service to the kingdom. There is a need to develop such talents but I fear in our day we miss the proverbial boat. We focus on get the the gifts and using them will missing the real call “abide in my word…abide in my commands and you will abide in my love…in my joy will be in you and your joy will be made full.” (John 15). Abide in Christ our vine. Grow in Christlikeness and the gifts will come. If we have worn the paths of obedience deep we will respond to the budding gifts with faithful development of them in the context they are provided for by God, His church.
This obedience is not a thing we have to do, pray pray pray, that God would so overwhelm you with Christ that you want him more than all else and your obedience will be born of Joy.
I thought of this as I listened to 5 leading pastors discuss preaching Christ from the OT. They were obviously teaching. WHat were they teaching? Faithful us of the gifts and of the word. It was amazing how the very interpretations offered were a product of faithfulness. I realized how blessed we are to have such men who are not teaching, THIS IS WHAT THIS MEANS, but here is how you faithfully, obediently, honor the Word of God in teaching. Let us pursue this model at the most fundamental level, our own hearts our own lives. This obedience is not a thing we have to do, pray pray pray, that God would so overwhelm you with Christ that you want him more than all else and your obedience will be born of Joy. Jesus says it best:
If anyone love me he will keep my commands…he who does not love me does not keep my commands nor my Father’s who sent me…this I tell you so that my joy would be in you, and that your joy would be made full
John 14:23b, 24, 15:11
An all encompassing, heart-rending, love breeds this passionate obedience. It is a love that abounds in good works. It is a love that pursues its singular desire, communion with the great Love, the lover of men, Christ. This love produces works that please Him for whom they are done. This is the love of Christ for the Father. This is the love that leads God to the Cross. This is the love the world must see if they are to see the Christ. Lets us pray that we would so love our savior.
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Thoughts from a Young Man: “Not a dot will be void”

14The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. 15And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

16“The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. 17But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.

Passing away seems to be in reference to the self excusing in v.15. The Pharisees may have set aside the Law to serve themselves but it’s authority will not pass away. Every stroke of the law must be fulfilled. As beautiful as it is Ezekiel 36:24-28 is not the fulfillment of the Law.

I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.a You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

The life the Cross and the resurrection of the Christ is the fulfillment. It came to a climax in the words of Christ:

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30

Paul explains this in Romans 3.21-22a

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.

When Jesus here says that all the law will stand it should be and would have been great warning to the hearer. Jesus is reminding us that we are culpable for the entirety of the Law. That is a heavy weight. He follows this with a sharp dart, in our day, saying, “Divorce and remarriage, that is still sin. For what God has brought together He has brought together.” Then he follows with what should be a deeply painful stroke. He who, it is not a picture of outward hate, simply shows no mercy has failed to fulfill the law. Jesus is pointing to the intent of the Law. The Law shows our great need of mercy. When we don’t practice mercy we demonstrate that we have not understood the Law; the law shows us our inability to please God and our need of His Messiah. We have not understood its fulfillment; the cross. This pair of verses are a statement that though men maybe trying to enter the kingdom of God, heaven, they will not enter with even the slightest deviation from the Law. It stands as a just command and picture of righteousness.

The following two sections first show our guilt and second, the later in particular is an extension of Luke’s sermon on the mount in applicatory illustration, the failure of mankind to be Holy as God is Holy. He who loves his wealth and shows no mercy will be shown no mercy. He who excuses himself of the Law will not receive mercy to enter the kingdom of heaven. It is clearly a shot at the money loving pharisees.

The question is who are we? The pharisees thought their care of the temple and the rituals and their traditions served God. Their beautiful synagogues and nice prayers. Their well preserved bibles and ministry vans. Jesus says that is all, in your heart, self serving. He doesn’t say it was wrong but it is a demonstration of their wicked hearts. That is an abomination, it is an abominable use of His gracious provisions. Look to the $26 Million (and number works $1-$30,000,000 or more) lavish and ornate temples some American churches are building. Not because they are expensive (some are expensive but are tools) but because they are temples to the men who build them on the pretense of God being grand and glorious; God says they are an abomination! Thus, are our churches and ministries merciful, not to the well (the church members), but to the sick and hurting? Consider the two parables of the wedding feast which Luke told just prior to this.

年輕人的想法:讓生命

神讓我明白了,祂是我的穿鑿主。我不能讓自己的生命改變。我們都必須了解人的心都有罪。每天神讓我明白人類有問題。我們都有屬靈的盲目性。我曾有一樣的問題。保羅說:

 但 他 們 的 心 地 剛 硬 , 直 到 今 日 誦 讀 舊 約 的 時 候 , 這 帕 子 還 沒 有 揭 去 。 這 帕 子 在 基 督 裡 已 經 廢 去 了 。

然 而 直 到 今 日 , 每 逢 誦 讀 摩 西 書 的 時 候 , 帕 子 還 在 他 們 心 上 。

但 他 們 的 心 幾 時 歸 向 主 , 帕 子 就 幾 時 除 去 了 。

主 就 是 那 靈 ; 主 的 靈 在 那 裡 , 那 裡 就 得 以 自 由 。

我 們 眾 人 既 然 敞 著 臉 得 以 看 見 主 的 榮 光 , 好 像 從 鏡 子 裡 返 照 , 就 變 成 主 的 形 狀 , 榮 上 加 榮 , 如 同 從 主 的 靈 變 成 的 。

耶穌不但願意也會改變你的生命。因為祂是上帝。
為什麼祂要這麼做?因為你的改變,能榮耀神. 神說

“我 指 著 我 的 永 生 起 誓 , 我 斷 不 喜 悅 惡 人 死 亡 , 惟 喜 悅 惡 人 轉 離 所 行 的 道 而 活 。 以 色 列 家 啊 , 你 們 轉 回 , 轉 回 罷 ! 離 開 惡 道 , 何 必 死 亡 呢 ?“

耶穌說:

日 期 滿 了 , 神 的 國 近 了 。 你 們 當 悔 改 , 信 福 音 !

耶穌會讓你的生命改變!神要我們成為祂的兒子,耶穌,一樣。保羅說:

我 們 曉 得 萬 事 都 互 相 效 力 , 叫 愛 神 的 人 得 益 處 , 就 是 按 他 旨 意 被 召 的 人 。因 為 他 預 先 所 知 道 的 人 , 就 預 先 定 下 效 法 他 兒 子 的 模 樣 , 使 他 兒 子 在 許 多 弟 兄 中 作 長 子 。

祂要讓你的生命改變,因為祂是配得榮耀的:

我 們 的 主 , 我 們 的 神 , 你 是 配 得 榮 耀 、 尊 貴 、 權 柄 的 ; 因 為 你 創 造 了 萬 物 , 並 且 萬 物 是 因 你 的 旨 意 被 創 造 而 有 的 。

歌 林 多 後 書 3:14-18 (2 Corinthians 3:14-18)

以 西 結 書 33:11 (Ezekiel 33:11)

馬可福音 1:15 (Mark 1:15)

羅 馬 書 8:28-29 (Romans 8:18-29)

启 示 录 4:11 (Revelation 1:15)

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Thoughts from a Young Man: The Doors Stood Wide

A stanza of loss, A stanza of pain. A stanza of mourning &  night.

The doors stood wide inviting, bidding, me come in
These doors exhaled a hymn of life
I entered to find the life of Christ
Sin, this song has silenced
It’s replacement cold lifeless silent
closed, locked, papered over breathless
The doors no longer call passersby “to come see”

Thoughts from a Young Man: A Lament

A lament at the darkness of death at work in our land!

Many years those doors stood shut
In those years heavenly grace withdrew
These years few know for we are new
We rise grace poured out a year ago

God heard the cry of the godly for this branch
He poured out from widows in heaven
Life giving branch-building life
those doors so many years now shut
Began to open, open wide with life and love

Again this branch began to praise her vine
New shoots are showing and fruit they are bearing
This work of God is not unhindered though
Testing flames and tempting powers never leave the saints to rest

We hang here with nothing we can do
But kneel and wait for blessings anew
Many words we can use but life they do not give
Scriptures ignored God’s word abhorred
In sovereign grace alone we can trust.

Why my Lord is grace removed?
These doors again are shut and closed a useless fire kindled within
Satan’s handiwork penned on paper pasted to those white portals
Oh Lord, your work, your hand has borne us thus far why now why this?
Will not your hand carry on?

The storm clouds dark and the days seem long.
How long will it carry on?
Yet this we know and see, you our God and King
dead and buried in the ground three days

To those eleven sons by choice
Hope seemed lost and gone and done
Any empty tomb proclaimed aloud
Hope and love and life have won!
You triumphed over deaths dark arrows and rose to life again.