Time with my wife in her adventure through life.

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. (Proverbs 31:10 KJV)

Enjoying the day with my wife and daughter.  She is putting her new classroom in order and I am “helping” her.  In all truth I really do not know what I am doing. Just being some muscle, chauffeur, and an advisor for just a few things.  It is worth it though just to see how excited she is for this opportunity.
What she has taught me about this verse today?
1) That a person, not just a woman, like my wife is a rare find indeed.
2) It is because of that rarity that she is unlike any other treasure out there.
3) The more I do with her and help her with increases how precious she is to me.
4) The more I do with her and help her increases what her and I can do both as a couple and as individuals.  We are enablers to each other while we should avoid disabling each other in any way.
5) We both push each other to be more Christ-like and that is invaluable.

Trimming and watering

I’m wore out and tired.  After two weeks of intensive courses (15 weeks of material in 1 week), I decided to get up today and help my wife have a yard sale while I trimmed bushes and did so much needed grounds keeping around the parsonage and church.  I haven’t felt this good in a long time.  I really have enjoyed my day being outside, even though my skin is now fried on my face and arms.

While I was out today trimming hedges, rose bushes, and a tree, I was reminded of scriptures that tell us about the trimming that needs to take place in our life.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.  Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. (John 15:1-2)

      Purging, pruning, or trimming is the act of taking away something that does not promote growth, and not just any growth, fruitful growth.  We can grow but it may not produce fruit.  We can grow financially, physically, or intellectually.  None of them, however, can produce fruit when they are not centered around our spiritual growth.  Sometimes we need to cut back in areas in order for the main issue in our life, which is our relationship with God, to grow and become fruitful.
      The most amazing thing that happened today though happened with another plant and some water.  Abbie, my wife, had left out a plant in the sun to long that didn’t need quite that much.  I seen it this morning and saw how pitiful it looked in its dried state.  I knew it was dead but decided to water it anyways to see what would happen.  When I came back to the house from my other work, to my surprise and Abbie’s rejoicing, the leaves that were withered were flat and the stems that drooped where standing tall.  It was an amazing act that took place.
      That spoke to me.  We sometimes get dry and withered in our spirit, in our mind, in everything we are.  Yet, the Lord speaks to us and like water we are restored, refreshed, revitalized.  Yes, Lord, I know I’ve been at school a lot this week hearing about the wonderful work of God, but now I know I must continue to receive the water of your word for my dry and thirsty soul. I thank you Lord, for your Word from heaven that you have given us.

As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country. (Proverbs 25:25)

That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word (Ephesians 5:26)

The Law.

Had a friend ask me concerning about the use of the law today.  How do we view it? Why does it seem we follow some Old Testament law and not others?  This was my answer and a link I found regarding this same thing.

The law itself was never intended to save.  It served two other purposes. First, to give guidance in how people should approach God and secondly, how to live peaceably and equally among others.  When God gave the law it was a way to help the people to understand how they were supposed to live in freedom.  In Exodus 19, the chapter before the ten commands are given, God tells Moses in verse 3-6 that God’s grace bare them out of Egypt on eagles wings (vs. 4) and that they are to respond with obedience (vs. 5).  The purpose is that the people would be the model God wanted all people on earth to follow (vs. 6).
The Moral Law.  The Ten Commandments are also know as the moral law.  Ten commands of God that form the foundation of those that would live faithful and obedient to God.  By study and by the help of Jesus (Matt. 22:34-40), we see that the ten commandments were divided into two parts.  The first four commands lays the foundation for a proper relationship with God.  The Last six commands lays the foundation for a proper relationship of respect to other people.  The next two divisions of the law, the Ceremonial and the Civil, build upon those two sets as guidance and principles to live by.
The Ceremonial Law.  Found mostly in Exodus 25-40 and Leviticus 1-17, 21-24.  These laws deal with how a people in an unholy world could approach a holy God.  The ceremonial laws deal with the concepts of holy and unholy, clean and unclean, pure and impure.  The book of Hebrews though does a thorough job of explaining why the ceremonial law is now no longer practiced by those of the faith.  Speaking of Jesus, “but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God.”
The Civil Law.  Found mostly in Exodus 21-23 and Leviticus 18-20, 25-27.  This one was for the citizenry of Israel.  It would help them find and retain their identity in a world of pagan culture as they did not do the things of the world.  Galatians 2:14 gives us an understanding of the separation of Jewish and Gentile lifestyle.  “If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?”  Hebrews, Galatians, and Romans all are excellent sources for understanding not only how we are delivered from ceremonial law but also civil law, and it is simply, we are not Jewish.  Those who are Jewish do not have to live that lifestyle either, if they choose to follow Christ.  Though a Jew that does not follow Christ would be practicing the civil laws in vain.
The moral remains intact as it represent the the two greatest commandments.  To love God and to love neighbor.  The ceremonial and civil laws find their fulfillment in Jesus (Matt 5:17).  The ceremonial or how we relate to God is fulfilled in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  The civil or how we relate to others is fulfilled in the life and ministry of Jesus.  We place our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  We live in obedience to the life of Jesus.  The Old Testament ceremonial and civil laws are written for our instruction.  To develop our view of holiness and relationship to God and others.

Catch Phrase Christianity

Something that I have observed in many churches and individuals is what I would like to call, “Catch-Phrase Christianity.”  I have no problem with sermons and Sunday school lessons that have to deal with a word study or a nice little phrase out of a scripture.  The problem though is that many times we see this done as purely motivational.  Disregarding any context in the scripture.

We must be on the guard when we read our Bible for personal devotion and study, prepare a sermon, and a lesson to always be mindful of the context of scripture.  How does this word, phrase, or verse fit into the whole of scripture.  What is happening to the writer, the characters mentioned, the audience in the context of history.  Then and only then can we find our place in the grand narrative of salvation history.  It is good to have life or seasonal verses but in order to be Christians that stand strong we must become well acquainted with scriptures, their context, and their application to us.  Not in part but the whole.
I’ll end with a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, Life Together.  
There can be equally little doubt that brief verses cannot and should not take the place of reading the Scripture as a whole.  The verse for the day is still not the Holy Scripture which will remain throughout all time until the Last Day.  Holy Scripture is more than a watchword.  It is also more than ‘light for today.’  It is God’s revealed Word for all men, for all times.  Holy Scripture does not consist of individual passages; it is a unit and is intended to be used as such.”

Teaching about the Holy Spirit

Teaching about the Holy Spirit is quite possibly one of the most disregarded subjects of Christianity.  For many it is dismissed as a “thing” or it because of a lack of understanding.  Some shy away from it because of some church cultures attaching a charismatic emotion solely to the Holy Spirit.  Whatever the issue is for someone dismissing the Holy Spirit, the importance of having a correct foundational understanding of the Holy Spirit is needed.  John 15:26-16:16 is a brief introduction that Jesus gives to the Holy Spirit.  It is a promise of the Spirit’s coming as Jesus tells His disciples that He will leave them soon.  At this last supper discourse Jesus encourages disciples in that though He is leaving (16:16) there will be One sent to continue on with them.  This leaving and sending is to their “advantage” (John 16:7).  

This passage shows the strong relationship of the Spirit to Christ.  In John 15:26 and 16:13-15 Jesus shares with His disciples that the Holy Spirit will be a supreme witness and teacher of Christ and His truth.  “Accordingly, the disciples should speak with great confidence, knowing that a Greater Witness would attend their words and bring them to bear with telling effectiveness.”  In verse 26 Jesus says, “but when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth fromt eh Father, he shall testify of me.”  This sending by Jesus of the Spirit that comes to the Father is a very important teaching.  In reality it distinguishes the distinctions of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son while keeping the Oneness of God in tact.   “The relation of Father and Spirit is described not as generation, as in the case of the Son, but as a sending-forth and a procession.”   It is seen that the Spirit proceeds from both the Son and Father.  From the Father it is said, “Of the Spirit it is declared that He proceeds from the Father.  He executes the designs of the Father.”  Also it is said of the Son, “The Third Person is sometimes termed the Spirit of Christ (cf. Rom. 8:9), which title evidently relates Him to the Second Person as One whom the Second Person sends (John 16:7), and who executes the purpose and applies the values which arise in and through the Second Person.”  This is reason why the Spirit is able to declare what Jesus has already taught and more of what Jesus wants them to know (16:12-15).  

This continuation of Jesus’ ministry towards the disciples and later to modern Disciples of Christ shows the Holy Spirit also has a deep relationship with believers.  Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit in this passage as the “Comforter” (Greek paraklētos).  “The term paraklētos refers to a legal assistant in a court who pleads someone’s case before the judge.”  In other translations the word used is, “Advocate,” meaning helper or one that comes to side.   The relationship of the Holy Spirit towards the believer is a beautiful and important thing.  “The Spirit regenerates, indwells or anoints, baptizes, seals, and fills, thus not only creating the essential factors which together make the Christ what he is, but empowering him to walk worthy of that high calling.”  

Lastly, this passage also points out that the Spirit has its dealings not only with Christ and us but also towards the world.  John 16:1-4 records the words of Jesus about the suffering His disciples will endure.  To Him is necessary that disciples know they will not face those trials alone.  Jesus shares in John 16:8-11 that the Spirit will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment.  “The Spirit is presented as the One who reproves, or enlightens, the world with respect to sin, righteousness, and judgment.”  It is here that we see that the Spirit works out conviction in the heart of unbelievers to bring them to salvation.  This is a witness to the world of Christ’s glorious Gospel.  

Thus it is that the teaching of the reality of the Holy Spirit working in the lives of men and women, boys and girls, must be faithfully and consistently taught.  For it is the work of the Holy Spirit sent by the Son from the Father that grace comes to each person for salvation.  It is also through the work of the Holy Spirit that people overcome their temptation and trials.  Finally it is through the work of the Holy Spirit that the message and witness of Christ continues to this day.

Dongell, Joseph, John: A Bible Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition, Indianapolis, IN; Wesleyan Publishing House, 1997Oden, Thomas C. Classic Christianity, New York, NY; Harper One Publishers, 1992Chafer, Lewis Sperry,  Systematic Theology Vols. 1 & 2, Grand Rapids MI; Kregel Publications, 1976ibid. John D. Barry, Michael R. Grigoni, Michael S. Heiser et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2012), Jn 14:26.Chafer, Lewis Sperry,  Systematic Theology Vols. 1 & 2, Grand Rapids MI; Kregel Publications, 1976 ibid.

The Preacher and the Preaching.

Preaching is the leading way that the Lord has chosen for the Gospel of Jesus to be spread.  Even though to the world preaching such things, as the cross, are foolish, the people of God know otherwise.  It is through faithful preaching of the Gospel message that individuals are saved.  The necessity of preaching has always been important and will always be important till the end of time.  As John Stott writes “Preaching is indispensable to Christianity” (Stott, 1982).  It is not the whole duty of the minister to preach but it certainly is bulk of it.
“So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Romans 10:17
The need of sound Biblical preaching is becoming very evident in today societies.  D.A. Carson writes “Biblical theology directly addresses massive illiteracy now prevalent in many of our listeners” <!–[if supportFields]> CITATION DAC08 \l 1033 <![endif]–>(Carson, 2008)<!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–>.  John MacArthur also has to say that, “Generations of preachers facing all the spiritual opportunities and satanic obstacles of this new millennium must rediscover and reaffirm expository preaching” <!–[if supportFields]> CITATION Mac05 \l 1033 <![endif]–>(MacArthur, 2005)<!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–>.  He then goes on to quote Walter Kaiser’s appraisal that the need of the church to be more effective is preaching of the scriptures with purpose, passion and power.
It is easy to understand and see in today’s churches that people are illiterate when it comes to the scriptures.  Even those that know a bulk of its stories and chronological orders still have a hard time in applying the scriptures to their lives.  A large part of the need for preaching is not only helping readers to understand what was taking place in the historical context of scriptures but also in applying the timeless principles learned from those scriptures in their day to day life.
This is why true Biblical preaching is important to us today.  For minister’s to stand behind the pulpit and speak on philosophies and psychologies is part of the modern churches decline.  It is a powerless Gospel and preaching has become simple religious speeches.  Peter Adam states that “the basis for any true human speaking for God is that God is speaking God” <!–[if supportFields]> CITATION Pet04 \l 1033 <![endif]–>(Adam, 2004)<!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–>.  Preachers are not to be just speaking about what they dreamed about last night, what happened in the childhood, or their vacation to Holy Land Last year.  Preachers are to speak the Word of God because God gave it to us.  Craddock is quoted writing “To assume that the sheer weight of the authority of the sacred text, the faithful commitment of a regular audience, and the inspiration of a worship setting will sustain the pulpit without the preacher’s own wrestling with the question of what it is we are doing is serious error” <!–[if supportFields]> CITATION Fre85 \l 1033 <![endif]–>(Craddock, 1985)<!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–>
“For prophecy came not in Old Time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” 2 Peter 1:21.
“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.” Revelation 1:10-11
   The scriptures that a minister preaches from is not the work of mankind trying to gain an understanding of who God is, but God’s revealing work of Himself to man.  When man speaks the Holy Scriptures he is speaking what God has spoken and when God speaks things happen.  “God speaks, and his words are powerful, effective and creative of reality.  The God who speaks is the God who acts through his words” <!–[if supportFields]> CITATION Pet04 \l 1033 <![endif]–>(Adam, 2004)<!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–>.  The communication of scriptures is a serious calling and commission of God that should not be taken lightly. 
            First off the Bible is the Word of God.  Haddon Robinson writes, “When the Bible speaks, God speaks.  This is the conviction that if I can really understand a passage in it context, then what I know is what God wants to say” <!–[if supportFields]> CITATION Had01 \l 1033 <![endif]–>(Robinson, 2001)<!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–>.  A preacher of the Word of God must be a minister of the whole Word of God.  There is not a period, a crossing of a “T,” or the jotting of an “i” that is not the Word of God.  It makes the scriptures powerful to the minister and to the hearer when they know that the Bible is God’s Word.
            Secondly, that since the Bible is God’s word is that preaching comes from the approach, “Thus saith the Lord.”  The authority of preaching does not rest on the preacher but solely on the Bible.  It is God’s disclosure to humankind about Himself.  It’s God’s revelation throughout history to man.  It is not the preacher’s job then to make the Bible relevant and catchy to the ears of the audience, but to put the Word of God in the ears of people in ways they can understand.  “Truth is as relevant as water to thirst or food to hunger” <!–[if supportFields]> CITATION Zon05 \l 1033 <![endif]–>(Zondervan, 2005)<!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–>.
            The Bible gives mandates to preaching the Word of God.  It is evident in the scripture concerning the seriousness of preaching.  The New Testament provides many examples and exhortations to preach.
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matthew 28:19-20
“Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” 1 Timothy 4:13
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.” 2 Timothy 4:2
That third scripture, given is from the elderly Paul to the youthful Timothy, is probably one of the strongest mandates to preaching.  It tells not only what to do but how to do it.  Preaching must be from the Word of God.  It is not about preaching the Daily Times, the TV Guide, the latest trend but to preach the Word.  The word of God that reproves sin, rebukes waywardness of believers and comfort by the faithfulness of God and teachings of His Word.
Very important is that preaching is not just during assigned worship times but can happen at any moment as demonstrated in the book of Acts.  Being able to preach at the “drop of a hat” is not just something that happens but is the result of some disciplines a minister will go through if they are serious about preaching.  These are prayer, lifestyle and study.
“Contemporary preachers who desire God to display His power in their ministries will bathe their preaching in prayer” <!–[if supportFields]> CITATION Mac05 \l 1033 <![endif]–>(MacArthur, 2005)<!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–>.  A praying preacher is a passionate preacher who pursues God in his preaching.  It shows that the man is inadequate in his own power and mind to carry the weight of the Gospel and that his success in doing so in found only in God’s provision.  The man who represents God in the pulpit should continually seek God’s face and provision in his faithful preaching of God’s Word.
Passionate praying leads a preacher into a godly lifestyle.  The preacher will guard his heart and mind so that he is not distracted from the Word of God.  In the preachers lifestyle it will be seen that he leans on the Lord for his strength and that his heart is turned fully toward God.  The prayers and godly lifestyle help to make the preacher passionate in their study of God’s word.  Stott writes “Since the Christian pastor is primarily called to the ministry of the Word, the study of Scripture is one of his foremost responsibilities, to which he commits himself at his ordination.”  To be ready at anytime to preach is the result of a minister’s life study.  It is the result of a minister being fully in tune with God’s spirit through prayer, conduct and attitude and his faithfulness to studying God’s Holy Word.
“Time spent in study is never getting away from daily work but getting into daily work” <!–[if supportFields]> CITATION Fre85 \l 1033 <![endif]–>(Craddock, 1985)<!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–>.  Hours in study show immediately on the minister of God’s Word.  “Ministers are required to read” <!–[if supportFields]> CITATION Zon05 \l 1033 <![endif]–>(Zondervan, 2005)<!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–>.  It is not a luxury or a choice, but it is a mandate to study the Word of God.  It’s not to impress people but to do God justice and represent Him.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15
The ministry of the Word of God is not solely preaching.  Yet it is through preaching that God has chosen to save this world.  It is through faithful preaching that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is taken to every corner of the earth and is put in the ears of Gods creation.  It is through that God picked avenue that people begin to grow in faith and are drawn to God.  By prayer and study, preaching is made powerful by God’s anointing and His approval on the minister. 


<!–[if supportFields]> BIBLIOGRAPHY <![endif]–>Adam, P. (2004). Speaking God’s Words. Vancouver: Regent College.
Carson, D. (2008, 10 6). D.A. Carson on Biblical Theology and Preaching. Retrieved 4 1, 2011, from Via Emmau: http://viaemmaus.wordpress.com/2008/10/06/da-carson-on-biblical-theology-and-preaching/
Craddock, F. B. (1985). Preaching. Nashville: Abingdon Press.
MacArthur, J. (2005). Preaching: How to Preach Biblically. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
Robinson, H. W. (2001). Biblical Preaching. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic.
Stott, J. (1982). Between Two Worlds. London: Hodder & Stoughton.
Zondervan. (2005). The Art & Craft of Biblical Preaching. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

We are going to live somewhere.

I have never really been into running but have been wanting to take up hiking. For me it’s probably because it offers sanctuary from society and that is good to have sometimes. Three things are beyond my comprehension over the events this week. First, even though at this point it doesn’t matter, is that I don’t know what attracts people to a marathon but I’m sure there are several reasons and probably most are personal. Secondly, that individuals would find it their cause and their pleasure to destroy their fellow man. Thirdly, I also cannot begin to fathom the pain and fear many are experiencing in Boston.  Not only is there pain in Boston but also in Texas, Afghanistan, Mexico, England, Korea, Columbus, Ohio and every other square inch of the world.  My heart breaks for this world.

“Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.” Job 14:1

Pain, disease, and death were not part of God’s original plan but due to the appearance of it because of man’s sin in the garden God has planned around it. In our life suffering seems to be inescapable but God’s love prevails above it. The apostle Paul writes that there is nothing whether physical or spiritual that can separate us from Gods love.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39
      It is certain that we will experience suffering in this life time but we can be sure that there is the love of God that gives us peace, joy, and happiness.  We also have hope.  Hope that through faith in Jesus Christ that our eternal destiny is to be with Him in Heaven.   If there is anything that we have learned this week, and I pray some have learned, is that life is precious and a gift that can be taken away very quickly.  Something that we have to come to grasp though is the reality that we will always live.  The scripture never gives the idea that death is final.  There is never the idea of annihilation or a cessation of our soul.

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” James 4:4


“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” Hebrews 9:27
       With that in mind unbelievers must come to faith in Christ and repentance of sins.  As believers we must continually seek to become more Christlike.  Death will come to all in some form or another but it is not final.  What is final is the destination we arrive at after death but it is eternal.  My prayer is that people are preparing for the time before God after this life so that they may hear Him say, “Well Done,” and not, “Depart from me.”  We are going to live somewhere, where will it be?  Will it be in Heaven where we experience eternal bliss or in Hell where eternal torment exists that one will never become accustomed to?

Expanding My Horizons

There has been a lot of things going on in my life, namely changes in graduate school.  A lot of it was unexpected but God has opened up opportunities for Abbie, Josie and myself.  What could of been some crazy and unexpected turns ended up being for the best.  Since those things have happened there has been an increased desire for me to write.  I’m trying to publish a book while finishing my education.  That’s fun.  The Lord is leading me to doing some more writing and it seems that blogging may be a great avenue to express my thoughts and have them refined in community.  Looking for a great time in the future with this adventure in writing!