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Hidden Reefs

Shipwrecked Faith from a Shipwrecked Church
Doing Great Things for God

Doing Great Things for God

The following is from RC Sproul, Jr.  It is a wonderful reminder that sometimes God, in His sovereignty, has plans for us that we didn’t ask for nor desire.  But they are His plans, nonetheless.  Also, as a bit of background, RC’s wife has been suffering with a debilitating illness for quite some time.

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Doing Great Things

We first learned that my little girl Shannon would always be a little girl, when we discovered about her first birthday that she was profoundly disabled. My father, a deeply compassionate man, asked how I was handling the news. I told him that I had been preparing for this moment all my life. If anyone should be able to rest in the sovereignty of God it is me. The sovereignty of God is the cornerstone of Reformed theology, which theology I have been schooled in from my youth by one of its greatest living proponents.

greatthingsThe sovereignty of God, rightly understood, was the very core of my father’s best known work, The Holiness of God. The doctrine came front and center in his next book, Chosen by God. I was a young man when those books were first published. Like many others I ate them up, drank them in, and like too many young men, spat out their wisdom with precious little grace and care. I reveled in God’s sovereignty, and delighted in nothing more than to argue for, to defend, to proclaim that sovereignty.

That all changed, however, when I read still another book by my father, this one born of a family hardship. Surprised by Suffering begins with the still-born birth of my niece, Alissa. From there the book explores not just the truth that God ordains our suffering but why. The point that has stuck with me over the years was this – suffering isn’t something that happens, nor it is just something God permits. It is instead a vocation, a calling. God does not merely say, “I’m going to make you go through this.” Instead He says, “It is My desire for you that you should go through this. Follow Me.”

All of us, when we are brought into the kingdom, in joyful gratitude for the grace of God, want to do great things for the kingdom. Having been rescued by His glorious grace, we want in turn to rescue others, to serve the body, to proclaim the Good News. God has called us to do just that. He calls out heroes who take the message to strange and foreign lands. He calls out pastors who feed the sheep. He calls out teachers, like my father, who explain to the broader body the fullness of the gospel. Some, however, He calls to suffer.

My wife, for this part of His story, is called to suffer. Her role right now is to do this great thing for the kingdom – to be Jesus to us, so that we might be Jesus to her. She is Jesus to us because as we serve her, we remember His promise, that serving the least of these is serving Him (Matthew 25). We, in turn, are Jesus to her, precisely because the church is His body. When we pray for her, she rests in Jesus’ arms. When we bring a meal, she tastes Jesus feeding her. When we dry her eyes, she feels Jesus wiping away her tears.

Hers is not an easy calling. It is, however, a great one. Being Jesus means walking the via dolorosa.

How blessed I am to walk that road with her, and with Him.

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Broken Bread and Poured Out-Wine

Broken Bread and Poured Out-Wine

It is a dangerous thing to seek the approval of man rather than obedience to Christ. And it is the hallmark of the Laodicean times in which we live.

Consider the words of Oswald Chambers:

Are you willing to be offered for the work of the faithful— to pour out your life blood as a libation on the sacrifice of the faith of others?  Or do you say— “I am not going to be offered up just yet, I do not want God to choose my work.  I want to choose the scenery of my own sacrifice; I want to have the right kind of people watching me and saying, Well done.”

It is one thing to go on the lonely way with dignified heroism, but quite another thing if the line mapped out for you by God means being a door-mat under other people’s feet.  Suppose God wants to teach you to say, “I know how to be abased”— are you ready to be offered up like that?  Are you ready to be not so much as a drop in a bucket— to be so hopelessly insignificant that you are never thought of again in connection with the life you served?  Are you willing to spend and be spent; not seeking to be ministered unto, but to minister?  Some saints cannot do menial work and remain saints because it is beneath their dignity.

For me, the answer is a resounding, Yes!  Come join with me, will you?

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Podcast 228:  A Witness to the Light

Podcast 228: A Witness to the Light

The life and ministry of John the Baptist can be summarized in the opening few verses of John’s gospel. John 1:6-9 states:

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

I’ve got a couple of questions. What is the Light? How does he bear witness of that Light? Is it something that only he can do or can I be that witness also? It looks like there is so much more here than meets the eye.

There is. Keep listening.

The following is a study of John 1:6-13.

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Podcast 227:  What Do You Think of this Man?

Podcast 227: What Do You Think of this Man?

Jesus summed up the essence of His life in John 12:31-32 where He said:

“Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”

The key to preaching and the key to the Christian life is to simply lift up Jesus to our lost and dying world and let Him do the rest. But why is that so difficult? Why do we falter time and time again?

Are you interested in discovering what Jesus has to say about these questions? Good. Then keep listening.

The following is a study of John 1:1-5.

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Podcast 226:  The Beginning of the Book of John

Podcast 226: The Beginning of the Book of John

John the Apostle and friend of Jesus has a unique purpose in writing his Gospel. He states that purpose in John 20:30-31:

And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

He has a two-fold purpose. One, that you would believe and two, that by believing you would have eternal life in His name.

And this is just the beginning. Want to hear more? Then keep listening.

The following is a study of John 1:1-3.

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Doing Great Things for God

Temporary Home

A sermon in a song. Enjoy and be blessed.

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior,
the Lord Jesus Christ. – Philippians 3:30

“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” – John 17:14-16

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Little boy, 6 years old,
A little too used to bein’ alone.
Another new mom and dad, another school,
Another house that’ll never be home.
When people ask him how he likes this place…
He looks up and says, with a smile upon his face,

“This is my temporary home
It’s not where I belong.
Windows and rooms that I’m passin’ through.
This is just a stop, on the way to where I’m going.
I’m not afraid because I know…
This is my Temporary Home.”

Young mom on her own.
She needs a little help, got nowhere to go.
She’s lookin’ for a job, lookin’ for a way out,
Because a half-way house will never be a home.
At night she whispers to her baby girl,
“Someday we’ll find our place here in this world.”

“This is our temporary home.
It’s not where we belong.
Windows and rooms that we’re passin’ through.
This is just a stop, on the way to where we’re going.
I’m not afraid because I know…
This is our Temporary Home.”

Old man, hospital bed,
The room is filled with people he loves.
And he whispers, “Don’t cry for me,
I’ll see you all someday.”
He looks up and says, “I can see God’s face.”

“This is my temporary Home
It’s not where I belong.
Windows and rooms that I’m passin’ through.
This was just a stop, on the way to where I’m going.
I’m not afraid because I know… this was
My temporary home.”

This is our temporary home.

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Where Did We Go Wrong?

Where Did We Go Wrong?

The following are chilling words from RC Sproul, Jr.  I would encourage every Believer in the West to read and ponder the following.

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Where Did We Go Wrong?

These are dark days for the church in the west.  While we can, indeed must rejoice over the spread of the gospel in China, and in the southern hemisphere, here the church is losing its savor, and the putrid smell of death is all around us.  Perverts are parading in the streets.  Mommies are murdering their babies 3500 times a day.  Eighty percent of evangelical kids reject the faith by the time they reach their 20’s, and those that stay (or come back) usually opt for church-lite.  And our nation has just elected the most socialistic, leftist man in our history.

Everyone has their favorite spot, a particular battle we either lost or retreated from on which to place the blame.  Was it 1963, when we let them take prayer out of “our” schools?  Was it 1973, when the Supreme Court declared war on the unborn?  Was it 1983, when All My Children became the first soap to run a gay storyline?  Was it 1993 when Bill Clinton took office, promising to socialize medicine with Hillarycare?  Was it 2003 when George W. Bush signed his own legislation giving us socialized pills for seniors?

The trouble with these guesses is that they all think the problem is the camel in the tent, when the real problem is the camel’s nose.  We gave up on educating our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord the moment we accepted the premise of government schools, a hundred years prior.  We began seeing children as a burden and inconvenience when we embraced the pill in the 60’s.  We normalized the pursuit of sexual pleasure outside God’s design when we embraced no-fault divorce (brought to you first in California, under Governor Reagan.)  We accepted socialized healthcare when we embraced LBJcare for the elderly.  All Bill and Hillary, Mitt and Barack have proposed is lowering the enrollment age to birth.  And we have had socialized retirement since 1933.  How can we object to adding pills?

With every one of these issues we have missed the forest for the trees.  We engage in sundry policy debates- this program is too expensive; we can get Bible as literature classes into the schools; if we elect Republicans we can hold back the tide- and miss that we have already given up the war.  Unless or until the church of Jesus Christ is ready to affirm that education is not the calling of the state, that children are a blessing from God, that any sexual behavior outside the marriage bed is an abomination before God, that healthcare, pills and retirements are not entitlements, we will continue to slouch toward Gomorrah.

I know the principled approach freaks people out.  That’s my point.  But you can’t turn a ship around by accepting that we’re going in the right direction generally, we just need to move a degree or two.  You can’t have godly education or godly sexual standards while excluding God.  And you can’t have liberty in a nation whose children are nurtured in socialized schools.  We should not object to this or that in the state’s schools, but should object to state schools.  We should not object to the murder of babies because they are babies, but because it is murder.  We should not object to homosexual perversion because it is homosexual, but because it is perversion.  We should not object to this socialist program or that but should object to socialism.  Otherwise we’re not fighting but retreating.

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Doing Great Things for God

Cheating Church Members

The following is a powerful statement from Trevin Wax, former associate pastor of First Baptist Church in Shelbyville, TN.

All I can say after reading it is: “By George, I think he’s got it!” And I wish others would get it also.

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In most churches, membership requires little more than a public declaration of faith and a quick trip through the baptistery. After meeting these requirements, members hear vague notions about being involved in stewardship, discipleship, and service.

baptismPerhaps we are cheating church members.

We assume that most church members won’t evangelize, so we’re happy to stick with the very few who understand the mandate.

We assume that most church members will not get involved in a demanding Bible study, so we water down our teaching to appeal to the masses.

We assume that many church members will never tithe or give of their time in service to the community for the glory of our King, so we budget accordingly.

At best, we hope that people will act on our suggestions.

Our churches don’t know what they’re missing:

  • The thrill of leading someone to Christ.
  • The excitement of discovering God within the pages of his Word.
  • The satisfaction of making an impact in the community in the name of Christ.
  • The joy of giving cheerfully to the local church.
  • The higher the demands, the higher the payoff.

Perhaps we should stop designing worship services, discipleship programs, and youth events for the “average Christian” (aka – the Christian we don’t expect anything out of). Instead, let’s refocus on our church covenants and clearly communicate the expectations for being a disciple in the kingdom of God.

We receive little because we expect little. And church leaders, church members, and especially a lost world – we all miss out because of our low expectations.

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A Letter from Laodicea

A Letter from Laodicea

I live in a great, very old city.  It was begun hundreds of years ago in an area that was, at that time, largely agricultural.  Down through the years it was known for producing world-class wool.  Over the centuries the city grew, changed its name and became a diversified business community.  Located right on a major highway, the city also became a center for transportation, as well as commerce.

Because the businesses of the area have been profitable, the people who work in them have enjoyed great economic success.  In fact, there is no real poverty in this area so I guess it would be okay to say that economically no one is lacking.  Pretty cool, right?

The people of this area are interesting and very diverse — many different races and lifestyles — but everyone is exceedingly tolerant.  In fact, our town is rich in tolerance and understanding, with a philosophy of “Live and let live.”

While there is lots of acceptance about different philosophies and lifestyles, there are some things we just will not allow to happen here.  For instance, we do not allow radical positions nor do we allow anything extreme that would upset the core values of the area.  We are a culturally relevant community — let me give you an example of what I mean.

As a community, we are open to churches of all faiths as long as they do not promote extreme positions.  If some firebrand with a heated-up message of his own belief system comes to town and tries to trumpet that position, he is firmly told to be quiet and tone down the message or move on.  We have rules and laws against that kind of extreme behavior!

Churches are to serve the people and not to proselytize.  Those who go out and try to convince people that their belief system is right and others are wrong are considered extremists, and in a culturally relevant city like this that is a definite no-no!  As I said, the churches are to serve the people and let the people come to them if they feel they need some form of religious experience in their lives.

All the different religions get along just fine here because, as we see it, they are all about the same thing.  They worship the same God and they are moving toward the same ultimate destination.  The churches just have different names and different ways to achieve the same end result.

Personally, I am drawn to the Christian church.  I like their people, I like the way they do things, and I like their message.  It is a message that makes me feel good about myself.  Our church is the greatest place in the world to meet people.  There are lots of singles because marriage is considered old-fashioned and same sex relationships are accepted.  My live-in boyfriend and I met at one of the mixers for singles at the church and we are planning to have a church wedding next spring.  Hey, there are even lots of “grey hairs” among us!

I like the social activities and the way the churches build us up with the emphasis on personal success and how to get the most out of life.  I find this kind of approach very edifying.

A little earlier in the article I mentioned extremism and our church is a good example of how that can be handled.  We had a couple of incidents recently that our church leadership had to deal with.

One of them was an outside group that came into town and began telling people in our church that the Bible was the final authority for everything that relates to the Christian Church.  In addition, this group proclaimed that Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, was not the center of our church at all!  Well, you can imagine how that went over.  The church leadership had to get involved and remove these people by force.  In the process there were some pretty strong conversations about Jesus, the Bible and the place they used to have in the church.  We are way beyond that kind of thinking now.  We still keep the Bible and images of Jesus around but only to remind us of where we came from.  I mean, really now, is the Bible, which was written at least two thousand years ago, relevant to us today?  I mean — really?

And then there was another group that came and were “way out there” extreme.  They started talking about prophecy! Lots of our people are really into prophecy like Nostradamus and Edgar Cayce and all that stuff, but these guys were discussing prophecies about this town.  Apparently a portion of the book of Revelation has the name of our city in it.  You can imagine how upset the leadership got when this group told us we needed to repent and get right with God.  We sent that group packing in a hurry!

The name of our church is “The Door” and one of this prophecy group had the audacity to say, “Jesus wants to come and bless your lives.  He is standing at ‘the door’ and knocking.”  How weird is that?

Hey, in my rush to tell you all about our city, I just realized I forgot to tell you the name of our great town.  It’s Laodicea, one very laid-back place to live!

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Written by David Patterson. You can find more about him – HERE

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