Exegetical Precision

January 25, 2016 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

If you please God, it does not matter whom you displease. And if you displease Him, it does not matter whom you please. (Steve Lawson)

 

I recently responded to a post on Face Book. There was a picture of a young lady wearing a long sleeve green t-shirt. One word was printed on the shirt – ‘Whosoever’ in large letters. In much smaller letters under that word was the reference John 3:16.

 

I responded to that post and pointed out that there is no such word (whosoever) in the text in the original language in John 3:16. WOW! The free-willers went ballistic. Hundreds of people cited the NIV, the KJV, etc. as proof that whosoever is indeed in that passage.

 

It mattered not that I gave the following interpretation from the text in the original language:

 

In this manner, God loved the world that he actually gave his unique one of a kind son with the express purpose that the believing ones will not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

 

Emotions and tradition trump exegesis. Many virtually attacked my person for even stating such. I graciously thanked each person for their response and once again cited the textual evidence for this interpretation.

 

Why do I share this incident? Because our culture is swimming in biblical illiteracy and it is evident that no amount of sound interpretive evidence changes anyone’s mind. Private interpretations (2Peter 1:20) rather than the authority of the text reign supreme in what they want to believe the Scripture says. Take note of this pastor as this is what you are facing.

 

God uses the message of Special Revelation to transform people. He does not honor the distorted and privatized preferences of ill-informed people clinging to their traditions.

Weigh Not Thy Life

January 9, 2016 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

http://www.hymnary.org/text/my_soul_weigh_not_thy_life

I post this hymn to encourage and lift up those faithful men who are weary in the battle. Read the words of this hymn over and over. Sing them in the night season. Let them penetrate the deepest fiber of your pastoral being. And remember, JOY comes in the morning!!

Author: Leonard Swain

Swain, Leonard, D.D., was born at Concord, New Haven, Feb. 26, 1821, and educated at Dartmouth College and Andover. In 1847 he became a Congregational minister at Nashua, New Haven; and in 1852 of Central Church, Providence, Rhode Island. He died July 14, 1869. His hymns, “My soul, it is thy God” (The Christian Race), and “My soul, weigh not thy life” (The Good Fight of Faith), appeared anonymously in The Sabbath Hymn Book, 1858, and their authorship has only recently been determined. The second hymn is the more widely used of the two. [Rev. F. M. Bird, M.A.] — John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907).

Weigh Not Thy Life

 

 My soul, weigh not thy life
Against thy heavenly crown;
Now suffer Satan’s deadliest strife
to beat thy courage down.
With prayer and crying strong,
Hold on the fearful fight,
And let the breaking day prolong
The wrestling of the night.
The battle soon will yield,
If thou they part fulfill;
For strong as is the hostile shield,
Thy sword is stronger still.
Thine armor is divine,
Thy feet with victory shod;
And on thy head shall quickly shine
The diadem of God.

New Year’s Resolutions & Commitment

December 22, 2015 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

I recently received a request from a Missionary in Zambia Africa. He expressed interest in the ‘Leadership Is’ material that I offer. At the close of his message he said – - “commitment is a problem in Africa”!
I responded by stating that commitment is a problem in America as well and particularly in the evangelical church. People seem to have forgotten or perhaps never considered the Biblical Principle ‘Let Your Yes be Yes’ and do what you agreed to do. Service is not an option. It is both a privilege and an obligation.
The following chart shows the failure of most in honoring this tradition?
Percent of Americans who usually make New Year’s Resolutions
45%
Percent of Americans who infrequently make New Year’s Resolutions
17%
Percent of Americans who absolutely never make New Year’s Resolutions
38%
Percent of people who are successful in achieving their resolution
8%
Percent who have infrequent success
49%
Percent who never succeed and fail on their resolution each year
24%
People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions
How do you measure up? Happy New Year!!

Leaders & Listening

December 4, 2015 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

In 1962 I served on the USS Independence, CVA 62, an air craft carrier. In April we deployed to the Mediterranean  for what was to be a period of nine months. Near the end of August we returned to Norfolk, crossing the Atlantic Ocean in 3 days, a trip that under normal circumstances takes 8-10 days for a carrier.

In early September we deployed to the Caribbean. We circled Cuba for 6 weeks. We now have learned the reason for our rapid return to the East Coast – Russia had deployed missiles on Cuban soil, 90 miles from the USA.

We had 96 planes and a crew of 5,000 on that ship. One afternoon in late October we went to General Quarters, a condition of battle readiness. The launch of those planes was scheduled for 4 PM. Normally such drills ended after one hour. 3:15 – still on. 3:30 – still on. At 3:40 the launch was canceled. We came within 20 minutes of nuclear war with Russia! John F. Kennedy was our President at that time. He crafted a deal with Khrushchev that prevented the outbreak of war.

Fast forward to November 6, 2015. We visited the Arlington National Cemetery.  Kennedy is buried there. We viewed his grave site and the flame, etc. Several weeks ago I watched Bill O’Riley’s movie Killing Kennedy. I relived much of what took place in 1962. In the mid 90′s Peggy & I visited Key West Florida. I stood by the pylon that marks the southern most point of land in the USA. It is 90 miles to Cuba from that spot. It was then that I grasped some of the geographical significance of the missile crisis.

It is no secret that Jack Kennedy was a carouser and an adulterer. At one point Bobby Kennedy is speaking to Jack in his office. He covers several issues and then says – - ‘Jack, you have a ‘woman problem’. It is a matter of record that some of the females in Jack’s philandering very well may have presented security risk to our country.

Jack turned his back, walked over to his desk and said indignantly – - ‘is that all’? In that scene he was dismissing Bobby’s rebuke and demonstrating a lethal flaw in the character of any leader. The refusal to hear and respond appropriately to a well placed rebuke.

Real leaders listen. What kind of listener are you?

Transcendent Authority & The Public Square

November 20, 2015 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

When any community of people loses a Transcendent and Authoritative “Center” that governs all morality and institutions, it has then embarked on the road to disintegration.

 

When the USA launched a deliberate and intentional campaign to rid the Public Square of God and His Truth, the seeds of our destruction had been sown. No prayer in the schools. The elevation of the individual over the community. The persistent elevation of man with unlimited ‘freedom’ to make rather than abide by any transcendent Law doomed us to fragmentation of the loss of community.

The onslaught persists. The Freedom From Religion folks are now trying to tell the football coach at Clemson University that he may not guide his players, albeit voluntarily to engage in Christian worship and activities.

 

The FFR folks tried that here in Cullman. The community response, we still have community here, was 5,000+ turned out for an impromptu Prayer Meeting.

 

Ask yourself this question – – ‘Are we better off today than we were in 1950?’

That deeper issue was the vogue of moral relativism specifically, Lippmann was concerned that there were no longer any transcendent moral standards to which to appeal in guiding either the government or the people. In the first half of the 20th century, there had been a trend to separate the law from reference to any higher moral system. Lippmann had now come to see that as a dangerous innovation. Institutions of free societies, the observed, had been founded “on the postulate that there was a universal order on which all reasonable men were agreed.” In the era of the America’s founding, even if the more secular thinkers and the traditional Christians may have differed on the exact source of that order and its content, “they did agree that there was a valid law which, whether it was the commandment of God or the reason of things, was transcendent.” Speaking of such essential principles as “freedom of religion and of thought and of speech,” Lippmann affirmed that “the middle of the seventeenth and eighteenth century who established these great salutatory rules would certainly have denied that a community could do without a general public philosophy.” But the idea, so essential to establishing democratic institutions, that there was such a higher moral order had not survived modern pluralism,” and “with the disappearance of the public philosophy–and a consensus on the first and last things–there was opened up a great vacuum in the public mind, yawning to be filled.” (George Marsden, The Twilight Of The American Enlightenment, p. 46 quoting Walter Lippmann in Essays In The Public Philosophy, 1955).

I vote NO! What about you?

Words & Their Importance

November 9, 2015 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

To ensure my status as a ‘Grumpy Old Man’ I offer the following:

The majority of people succumb to what I label as the ‘lemming syndrome’. Lemmings are those creatures that run as a crowd. What one does, they all do. Your children come home from school. They say ‘I need a pair of X shoes because “everyone” has them’. That means 2 or 3 other people. Suddenly, the entire class room is shod with that particular foot wear.

 

This same principle applies in the speech patterns for our culture. This is also true of those who claim to be Christians. People seek acceptance and so they adopt the cultural and behavior patterns of those around them. The text of Scripture warns about this scrum. Words and their relationships give meaning to language. Of all people, those who claim the Name of Christ should exercise a high degree of integrity in their speech patterns. Scripture has much to say about our words, speech. This is so regarding both the content and substance of what we say.

 

With this as a brief context I offer the following. Examine the following words thoughtfully. Are you a ‘Lemming’?

 

Peep – When I was a young man ‘peeps’ were little chickens that the mail man delivered in a card board box. They often provided eggs or even ‘chicken dinners’ depending on the purpose for which they were purchased. I am NOT a ‘peep’.

 

Chill – We have a gas log fire place in our living room. With the push of a button we have a toasty warm fire that takes ‘the chill’ off the temperature in that room. This is a great place to read a book with a steaming hot cup of coffee. I do NOT ‘chill’.

 

Hang – Hanging was abolished decades ago. This practice tends to truncate your longevity. The intended meaning is almost always a deleterious waste of time. Not an acceptable investment for believers to engage on any consistent basis. I do NOT ‘hang’.

 

OK – enough already. You get the drift. Try abandoning the ‘lemming syndrome’ and introduce your friends and associates to the language of redemption; sin, salvation, Savior, and eternity. Those words have substance and real meaning. Your speech reveals your heart. What are your words telling people about who you are?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Choose A Seminary

October 27, 2015 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

This post was written by Kevin DeYoung and is very beneficial in answering the question ‘Where should I go to Seminary?’

 

Here are seven questions to ask before choosing a seminary.

 

1. What do I want to do with a seminary degree? I am a firm believer in the value of a seminary education. But I don’t encourage Christians to jump into seminary simply because they are eager to learn the Bible. It’s an expensive way to study the Scriptures if you don’t have a definite end goal in mind. So think to yourself, and talk to other people, and try to determine if you need seminary? If so, what for? To be a pastor? To be a missionary? For some other kind of vocational ministry? To go into the academy? What you are looking for will help determine where you go.

 

2. Is the seminary fully committed to the authority of the Bible at every level of the institution? I suppose in rare instances you could make a case for going to a mainline school if your end goal is to get a PhD and serve in a secular environment (although there are many evangelical schools whose degree would not hurt your chances of getting into the best doctoral programs). But in almost all cases, you will do much better to go to a school firmly rooted in the inerrancy of Scripture and the doctrines of the Reformation. This is not the time for testing out new theories, especially if you are studying to be a pastor. Find a school whose theology you trust, from top to bottom.

 

3. Have you thought about the tradition you want to be a part of? Seminary does not set your trajectory for life, but it will immerse you in a certain culture and tradition. Southern is a good seminary, so is Westminster, so is Trinity. But one will put you in the middle of SBC life, another into the Presbyterian and Reformed world, and another more broadly into evangelicalism (and the Evangelical Free Church). Think about where you’re from and where you want to end up. The people you train with in seminary may be your ministerial traveling companions for life.

 

4. What is the community like? No seminary aims for lousy community, but some schools are largely commuter campuses while others have a dorm atmosphere that feels like an extension of college. Do you want to share meals with other students in a cafeteria? Do you want to go to chapel regularly? Would you prefer married housing? Are you fine living off campus and driving in for class three or four or five days a week? Know what you’re looking for.

 

5. Who will be teaching you? It’s hard for seminaries to be much better (or much worse) than the faculty they employ. Think about whom you respect and want to be with for 3-5 years. Find out not just who the big name scholars are, but who actually teaches the classes and whether they are accessible to students. If you can, try to talk to current students and find out whether the famous faculty are effective classroom instructors. Good scholarship, good writing, and good teaching are three different gifts that don’t always reside in the same person. If you are training for pastoral ministry, you’ll want to see how many of the professors have real world experience in the nitty-gritty of local church life.

 

6. What courses will you be required to take? Seminary catalogs don’t always make for scintillating (or simple) reading, but it’s well worth the effort to try to make sense of each school’s basic requirements. The curricula can vary widely, both in total credit hours and in emphases. I would look for a school that is strong in the original languages, can teach exegesis, doesn’t skimp on systematic theology, and knows how to translate academic preparation into ministry readiness.

 

7. What are their graduates like? Granted, no seminary can be responsible for the way in which every student turns out. But on the whole, you should be able to get an excellent idea of how well a school will train you for ministry by looking at those it has already trained. Are they men of character? Are they biblically sharp and theologically sound? Are they doctrinally balanced? Are they good with people? Can they preach? Can you think of several graduates you’d gladly have on staff at your church? The proof is, as they say, in the pudding. Or, in the case of seminaries, in the pastors.

Pastor Appreciaiton – LORD Help My Pastor

October 12, 2015 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

October is Pastor Appreciation Month. Were I to have the opportunity I would designate Pastor Appreciation an expression to be acclaimed 365 days a year. Since I do not have that prerogative, I express those sentiments in this post. Pastor, you are appreciated. Your ministry is appreciated. Your wife and family are appreciated. Be encouraged. Rejoice that you labor in an area that produces an eternal reward – the Transformation of God’s people into the fullness of the image of Christ.

I recently read an anonymous post by a man who lamented his role as a pastor. It was filled with angst, sorrow, and struggles associated with that office. It is my conviction that he should relieve himself of this angst, step down and seek a role in which he finds satisfaction. He dishonors God, himself, his family, and the church by remaining. I have compassion for him and pray he soon resolves this horrible tension.

I began vocational ministry in March 1969. There have been hard times. There have been glorious times. God has taken me to 27 countries around the globe to equip and encourage other pastors. There is no greater honor.

If you are a pastor today who proclaims the whole counsel of God with integrity (Acts 20:27-28) then you are in my eyes worthy of honor and affirmation. Having stood, therefore STAND!!

 Lord, help my Pastor, I pray
There are many obstacles in his way
Every burden help him to bear
Dear Lord, keep him in Your tender care
Give him strength and the ability
To care for the church and his family
Lord, there is so much he has to do
He can’t do alone, he surely needs You
So shelter him in Your loving arms
Safe from all danger and unseen harm
Guard his mouth, his heart and mind
Remove every tittle of sin and pride
Keep him in the hour of temptation
May he not be moved by Satan’s persuasion
Remove all fears, Lord, remove all doubt
By Your Spirit, Lord, be in his mouth
So that he will speak a word that is due
And bring Your dear people closer to You

In Jesus Name, Amen.

The Papal Visit & Truth

September 21, 2015 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

The vast majority of Roman Catholics have no idea what the Council of Trent sets forth. The Council of Trent was a formal structured attempt to deny and destroy every element of the Protestant Reformation led by Martin Luther. If you are a Protestant you must be aware of these issues. The Council of Trent declared and still maintains that anyone who embraces the postulates of the Reformation is Anathema, cursed. If you do not subscribe to Rome’s interpretation of Truth, Special Revelation, you are condemned. The following are just a few of these issues.

 

The first decision dealt with the matter of authority. The Council decreed that both Scripture and tradition were to be of equal authority. This was a denial of the position known as sola scriptura or the Bible alone possessing the supreme authority in the Church. In addition, the Latin Vulgate translation was declared the official Bible of the Church. As a result, a translation of the Scriptures was given more authority than the Scriptures in the source languages of Hebrew and Greek. In addition, the canon of Scripture was enlarged because the Vulgate contained additional books, called the Apocrypha, that the Protestants rejected as canonical Scripture.

The Council of Trent also reiterated the Church’s sole authority to interpret the Scriptures. This reinforced the position of the Magisterum or the teaching office of the Church. The exclusive right of the Church to interpret Scripture was one of the positions that Luther had attacked in his tract An Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation. Luther taught that the doctrine of the priesthood of believer meant that the individual Christian possessed the ability to interpret the Scriptures accurately. Although the Church did not officially condemn vernacular translations of the Bible, this canon effectively accomplished the same result.

Trent upheld the validity of the seven sacraments. Again, this was the subject of another tract by Luther: The Babylonian Captivity of the Church. Luther demonstrated that only Baptism and the Eucharist were valid sacraments because the Lord Himself had ordained them. Now the Church officially denied what Luther had written nearly twenty-five years before. According to Trent, the Church was to be a sacramental church. The grace of God was to be distributed to its faithful members via the sacraments. This was a denial of the ministry of the Holy Spirit Who distributed grace in His own power. In addition, the doctors of Trent forbade “communion in both kinds,” meaning that they only allowed the laity to partake of the bread, but not the cup. Luther had previously protested against the practice of withholding the cup from the laity, citing the words of the Lord Jesus in which he declared that believers were to partake of both the bread and the cup.

However, the severest condemnation of Protestant doctrine was reserved for the doctrine of justification by faith. If the doctrine of sola scriptura had been rejected by assigning authority to both the Scriptures and tradition, the doctrine of sola fide or by faith alone was decisively spurned by the canons of Trent respecting justification. The nature of justification was broadened to include moral renovation as well as the forgiveness of sins. The Reformers taught that justification was God’s act of declaring the sinner righteous upon the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. Justification was, therefore, a change of one’s legal status before God. They used the phrase alien righteousness to stress that the righteousness that justifies an individual originated totally outside of the person. In contrast, Rome declared that justification, while including the forgiveness of sins, also included a change of moral nature. As a result, justification was defined as a process whereby a baptized individual co-operated with the infused righteousness of Christ more and more until they became morally renovated. The Church made justification dependent upon the sacrament of baptism and the person’s co-operation with infused grace and not on faith alone.

The Reformers also taught the doctrine of solus Christus whereby it was Christ’s righteousness alone that was imputed to the believer. The position adopted at the Council of Trent impugned the sole sufficiency of Christ to save a person from their sin and made salvation to be a cooperative effort of Christ and the person.

Attached to its dogmatic teachings concerning the doctrine of justification were a number of anathemas or damnations on those who held opposing positions. Without question, the Council’s pronouncements on this vital doctrine (and whether it was an imputed or an infused righteousness that justifies the person) remain the major impediments to any reunion between the Protestants and Roman Catholics. While both parties would agree that righteousness is required for justification, the questions regarding its nature (Christ’s righteousness alone or a combination of Christ’s righteousness and the individidual’s) and how one receives it (by faith alone or by the sacrament of baptism) have never been agreed upon by the two sides.

The link takes the reader to the article from which this material is taken.

http://www.solagroup.org/articles/historyofthebible/hotb_0010.html

Read The Fine Print

September 10, 2015 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

In December we will have been married 55 years. Over that half-century plus we have benefited in numerous ways because of a habit my wife has practiced with great faithfulness. What is that practice? She reads the fine print.

When I read the news paper I pass over 95% of what I regard as gibberish. I do not read advertisements. I read the last paragraph of editorial articles. I speed read much of what is foisted upon us and labeled as news. I consume less than 1/3 of a cup of coffee in the entire exercise.

When my wife read that same news paper she reads every line. She consumes two full cups of coffee in the span of time in which she reads that same paper. She reads the advertisements. She reads the social page and discovers who is marrying whom. She reads the obituaries and knows who dies, who is related to whom, etc. She knows what is in that paper when she finishes.

Application – When it comes to God’s Word we would all benefit from adopting my wife’s life long habit. She reads through the Bible twice each year. She reads while listening to the Scripture on DVD’s. She knows what God’s Word says. She is equipped to live in obedience because she has ‘Read The Fine Print!’

We have saved significant sums of money because she reads the fine print. My riding mower is 15 years old. We purchased that piece of equipment one Father’s Day because she read the fine print. We purchased that mower at a 30% savings. We are able to enjoy fine dining at greatly reduced prices because she reads the fine print. Our grand children receive wonderful gifts for their birthdays because she reads the fine print.

Let me encourage you to adopt and embrace her habit. Read the fine print. Life will be greatly enriched and enjoyable when you do so.

Read the Word of God Prayerfully, Carefully and in precise and express detail. Then apply Truth to Life and know God’s richest blessing and the power of Truth lived out with consistency!

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