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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.

Download this episode (right click and save)

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Temporary Home

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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Temporary Home

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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Run to the Battle

Run to the Battle

You know, discouragement comes to all of us at one time or another.  And when it does, the following words from Gary Wilkerson can serve as a reminder about what is truly important and what we think is important.

Be encouraged, as I was, when you read the following.

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Discouragement can hinder but it can never halt God’s plan for victory.  Gideon fought against 100,000 enemy soldiers with his band of 300 and won such a massive victory that only 15,000 of the enemy were left.  After the victory some of his brethren asked him, “‘What is this that you have done to us, not to call us when you went to fight against Midian?’  And they accused him fiercely” (Judges 8:1).

The people of Gideon’s own nation questioned his leadership, his decisions, his motives and his actions.  Some of our most disheartening, soul-wrenching struggles often are not out in the battlefield of life but are in the fellowship of believers.  Sometimes our own brothers and sisters hurl accusations at us and seem to find much to complain about.  We expect such things from our enemies but we can be caught off guard and surprised when one of our own brethren fiercely accuses us.

Gideon was not discouraged, distracted or diminished in his faith, however, when he was questioned— He stayed in the battle!  I love what he did: “And he said to them, ‘What have I done in comparison with you?’” (8:2).  Gideon was saying to his accusers, “What are my victories compared to yours?”  Instead of getting upset and into a fight with them, Gideon did what Nehemiah had done when he was building the wall and his enemies said to him, “Come down here. We need to discuss what you are doing.”  Nehemiah responded to his enemies, “I don’t have time to discuss what I’m doing; I’m too busy doing it” (see Nehemiah 6:1-9).

The Bible says that Gideon and his 300 men “. . . came to the Jordan and crossed over . . . exhausted yet pursuing” (Judges 8:4).  Gideon chose to get back into warfare with the enemy.  He crossed over to the other side of the river and got back into the battle God had called him to fight.  When you live out the mission that God has called you to; when you are not discouraged and dissuaded by what others say about you; when it is your holy ambition to do what God has called you to do— that becomes your victory.

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Stay focused on your battle, stay focused on your calling, and God will give you the victory!

        

Exactly who are the Righteous?

Exactly who are the Righteous?

In reading the 11th chapter of Proverbs, I was struck by two simple questions:  One, who are the Righteous that the Proverbs speak about and two, how do you become one?

Let me explain.

Proverbs 11 is basically a summary of the contrast between the wicked and the righteous (whatever that means).  It shows, like Psalm 1, how each responds differently to situations or circumstances or experiences, good and bad, that are common to man.  And the lesson learned is the righteous win and the wicked lose.  Big time.

But the one promise that keeps repeating itself over and over again in this Proverb is that the righteous will be “delivered” from trouble, destruction, death or whatever calamity the wicked plunge headlong into.

For example:

Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
But righteousness delivers from death.

The righteous is delivered from trouble,
But the wicked takes his place.

With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor,
But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered.

Assuredly, the evil man will not go unpunished,
But the descendents of the righteous will be delivered. *

You know, there are some promises here that we would do well to hold on to.  But they are conditional promises— made only to those who are righteous or blameless or upright in their integrity.  Can we, in all honesty, claim these promises are for us today?  Can we truly say that our righteousness and desire for holiness is as great as… say, the early church?  How about Believers living during the time of the Great Awakening or during the revival movements of the last 150 years or so.  Does our righteousness come close to that of the Spurgeon, Wesley, Finney or Edwards?  How about our passion for the holiness of God?  How do we compare to Watchman Nee or George Muller or Brother Andrew?  How about our desire to see all men saved?  Where do we rank in comparison to Hudson Taylor, William Carey or Gladys Aylward?

Can we look at the plight of Job and assume that, faced with the same horrific set of circumstances, we would hold on to our righteousness as he did?  Would we, after the death of our children, the destruction of our security and the failure of our health, echo the words, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return.  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.” *

Or would we crumble in despair, blaming and cursing God, shaking our fist at heaven, claiming that He failed to keep His promise to us— the promise of “Your Best Life Now!”  Geez.

I don’t know.

But I do know that Jesus said, “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees (the ones who later attributed Jesus’ miracles to Satan), you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.” *  Really?  That’s sobering.  Scary.

So what do we do?  Where do we go from here?  Because I’m sure that very few of us spend as much time trying to be as righteous as the Pharisees did?  For most of us, it’s not even on our radar.

One last passage from Proverbs 11.

The perverse in heart are an abomination to the Lord,
But the blameless in their walk are His delight. *

Ah, that’s it.  To be His delight.

Can you imagine?  Can you wrap your mind around what it must feel like to know that you are the very delight of the Lord?  That you are blameless in your walk with Him and others?  How does that happen?  How can someone become His delight?  Or, the righteous?  Or, as Jesus said, “the people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.”? *

I think it begins with a conscious effort, a determined spirit, a fierce commitment to find out what pleases the Lord and then make it our single ambition in life to do it.  Just Do It!  Because in the great scheme of things and the brevity of life, what else matters than to please the One who created and saved us?

What?  Fame?  Money?  Sex?  Acceptance?  Ease?  Come on, compared with being the delight of the Lord— all the stuff the world offers is nothing more than chump change.  Cheap shiny trinkets and pieces of cut glass.  Nothing of real, lasting, eternal value.

After all, isn’t that what Paul said to the Corinthians?

Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord- for we walk by faith, not by sight- we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.  Therefore we also have as (what) our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.

Join with me, will all that is within us, to make it our ambition to please the Lord.

Adveho quis may.  Come what may.
Will you join with me?  Come what may.

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Proverbs 11:4, 8-9, 21, 20; Job 1:21; Matthew 5:20; John 4:23; 2 Corinthians 5:6-9

        

Family Man

Family Man

I still get a big ol’ catch in my throat every time I watch Andrew Peterson’s video, Family Man.  It is my story, indeed.

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Thanks to my family for helping me become a Family Man.

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Come What May

Come What May

As Bob Dylan once said, “The times, they are a-changin’.”
And they are changing at light speed for the church in America.  Actually, they’ve already changed.

Let me elaborate.

For years, decades actually, we as the church have been pretty much satisfied with sitting on the sidelines with our hands stuck deep into our pocket so as to not soil them with the dirty things of the world— with sin, and sinners, and a culture that laughs at our God and at His Word. Now don’t get me wrong, our reluctance to engage the encroaching sin in our nation and in our neighborhoods has nothing to do with us living the supposed “sanctified” or “separated” life the Scriptures talk about. It has nothing to do with us quoting, like a worn-out excuse, our mantra of “friendship with the world being enmity, or hatred, toward God”— or something spiritual sounding like that. * As if living a holy life was a sincerely held belief among the church today. Please. Our separation is not a sign of our spiritually, but of our apathy and our fear.

We desperately believe that, if we leave them alone… maybe they’ll leave us alone.
Ya, think?  Well, think again.

[ Continue Reading… ]

Spirit and Truth

Spirit and Truth

Spirit and Truth

I am awed by the words the Lord spoke to His disciples after they returned from Wal-Mart with some groceries and supplies and found Him conversing with a woman from Samaria. If you recall, the heat of the Gospel was burning close to this woman and bringing her to point of crisis in regards to Who this person was that was speaking to her. “Sir” she said to Jesus, “I perceive that You are a prophet.” And then, as it to deflect the gaze of Jesus to a side, debatable issue, she restated the common question of her day pitting the Jews and the Samaritans at odds with each other. “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain, and you people (ouch!) say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” In other words, come on big guy, deal with that! My racial prejudice is showing.

Jesus responded, in part, with a statement that has filled my heart with longing. A simple, single sentence that has brought me to this point of deep hunger, at any price or personal cost, for a deeper relationship with Him. The words Jesus spoke have given me purpose and a goal. They have, in effect, been the calling of my life.

Jesus said, “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshippers.” *

Wow. Did you catch that?

Jesus clearly said that there is a time, which existed then and now, when the Father will seek those who will worship Him in spirit and truth. Now, in seminary and from the Sunday pulpits, we have focused almost entirely on the topic, “What Does Jesus Mean by Spirit and Truth?” and have missed the focus and truth of what He was saying. We have gone for the academic and ignored the spiritual, the practical applications. I guess you could say we have looked at only what this verse says that won’t offend or force us out of our comfort zones.

“Hmmm, interesting topic preacher. I never quite thought about spirit and truth that way before. Really enjoyed it a lot. See ya next Sunday.”

But what Jesus said is that there is a group of people whom “the Father seeks to be His worshippers.” Now sit back and let that sink in for a few moments.

What Jesus told the woman at the well was, in all of created humanity, especially those called out of darkness into His marvelous light, those whom He knew from the foundation of the world, there are two categories of Believers— two categories of worshippers, if you will.

There are those who worship the Lord in their own way, with all sincerity and good intentions, who faithfully stand, or raise their hands, or sing hymns or choruses, who lug big ‘ol King James or soft-covered NIVs to church each Sunday morning, evening and even Wednesday night and enter into a described and predictable time of singing, sitting, giving, standing, listening, sometimes sleeping— and who believe that this is all there is to worship. You know, faithfulness, dependability and service within the church setting. “Just doing our duty, ma’am.”

But Jesus said there is a group of worshippers who worship the Lord in “spirit and truth” and all that conveys, and it is these worshippers “the Father seeks to be His worshippers.” In other words, there are groups of people who worship the Father the way He wants to be worshipped— the way, or in the mode, that puts a smile of His face, that gives Him the biggest blessing. And, these people are so pleasing to Him that Jesus said the Father literally “seeks to be His worshippers.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but I want to be in that group. Don’t you?

And, if I were brutally honest and transparent, I know that I haven’t been. My experience in church, the predictable form and mode of worship that leaves me longing for more, is not the kind of worship the Father seeks. Not by a long shot. I know He also longs for more from His children… and especially from me.

Hence, this section titled, Leaving Laodicea. Here I will post items that show what Leaving Laodicea looks, smells and taste like as well as posts that will help move us from lukewarn faith into the realm of Spirit and Truth Worship.

Come join with me in this quest to rediscover Spirit and Truth Worship and let us leave Laodicea behind.

Adveho quis may.
Come what may.

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* John 4:23, Joshua 4:6-7, John 6:13

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It’s Elegantly Responsive

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