2006 Omaha Bible Church Conference

26 09 2006

Omaha Bible Church’s annual conference is on October 14. Author Kris Lungaard will be the featured speaker. Kris is the author of the helpful book entitled The Enemy Within. This book is a contemporary update of John Owen’s landmark works Indwelling Sin in the Believer and The Mortification of Sin.

If you read this blog you are invited! For more information and registration click here.

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Devotion :: Psalm 123

26 09 2006

In this brief snapshot into the life of the Psalmist we see him and his peers being surrounded by the songs of scoffers and doubters. In the midst of their chorus of contempt we are given a great model of faithfulness.

When we are in the midst of resistance and difficulty it is common and even natural to look at and measure our surroundings for help and relief. Further, we often find ourselves looking inward, at ourselves for the relief that is necessary.

In the model of faithfulness however, we see something different from the Psalmist:

Psalm 123:2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the LORD our God, Until He is gracious to us.

The Psalmist models exactly what the essence of faith is, simply looking away from ourselves and depending fully on God. Just as a servant has come to know of the faithful character of his master so too we who have been blessed by God have come to anticipate and relish our Master’s continual gracious condescension to us.

This exercise that we see from the Psalmist is so pivotal for us as believers. We get to participate in spiritual cardio as we massage our hearts to depend upon God for his manifold mercies. Just saying the words of this Psalm forces you to question whether you believe them or not!

Psalm 123:1 To You I lift up my eyes, O You who are enthroned in the heavens!

Do you look to him who is “enthroned in the heavens”?

How good is it believer that ultimately you are not looking to the hands of earthly masters for your care and consolation but you are looking to the One who is enthroned in the heavens!?!

Through the blood stained cross of Jesus Christ you have a sure and faithful advocate who is able and willing to console and encourage you in the midst of the scoffing crowds. And even more, scoffing is providentially used to draw us into greater dependence and appreciation of our wonderful Savior.

 

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What is the aim of evangelism?

20 09 2006

In our bottom-line, results-driven culture it is often quite easy to get caught up and dare I say even frustrated if the sum of our efforts does not consistently equal or exceed our expectations. One area of ministry where any amount of this cultural influence is especially dangerous is evangelism.

Countless churches are tracking “decisions” for Jesus with the statistical fervor that rivals a baseball game box score. If the decisions and baptisms exceed the previous season high, there is celebration, and if there is a drop, there is frustration. This dangerous bleeding of the secular mindset into practical ministry stems from foundational misconceptions about evangelism.

With this said, what is the supreme goal of evangelism? What is the objective of the evangelist?

Many would answer the question with, “that someone would get saved” or “pray the prayer”, or “get baptized”. While these are not to be dismissed or minimized, when we are speaking in terms of the supreme goal of evangelism, make no mistake about it, it is the glory of God.

We know as Christians that everything we do, even the most routine things are to be done to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10.31). We must be consciously aware and guided by this objective even as we proclaim the only message of salvation, as delivered by the only Savior, Jesus Christ.

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Excitement & Alarm with Today’s Reformed Camp

14 09 2006

An exciting and alarming by-product over the increased excitement in reformed theology is the intense individual identification with the reformed theological framework. Of course this is exciting because reformed theology is by in large biblical. However, there are some contemporary trends that are alarming.

For example, when I hear a sermon by a well known contemporary preacher quoting Calvin, Luther & Spurgeon more than the Bible I become concerned. I listen to a guy referring to what Calvin said as if it is authoritative and binding in my life. I need to listen to what Calvin (or anyone for that matter) says because it reflects what God says.

Reformed heroes are not our authority the Bible is. I know that guys do not intend to do this but they end up elevating the dead guys with nice lettuce (hair) to a position of authority, thereby circumventing one of the great Solas of the reformation (Sola Scriptura). And in so doing we create our own little protestant Magisterium. Again I know this is not the intention but what else am I to conclude when guys repeatedly appeal to men as their authority to make their homiletical points?

The preacher is called to ‘preach the word’ (2 Tim. 4.2). This is done by giving the meaning of the text (according to God) to the hearer with personal application. This is not accomplished by quoting and interacting with theologians for 45 minutes while giving a courteous tip of the hat to the text by simply reading the passage.

So to preachers: are you primarily providing and reinforcing theology or are you primarily there to operate on hearts by giving your hearers the word of God?

And to those who sit under the preaching ministry of another: Are you primarily there to learn more about the reformed heritage and concepts or are you primarily there to have your heart operated on by the sacred scalpel of truth (Heb. 4.12)?

The faithfully preached word will provide and reinforce theology and illicit passion in the life of the Christian. My fear is that, even with good motives, some today are not being clear and faithful with the Bible as their ultimate authority and means by which we are sanctified. So I challenge myself and others to ensure that our theology and emotions are derived from the text and not the other way around.

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Great John MacArthur Audio

28 08 2006

mac.jpgIf you have not already heard this audio make it a priority to do so. Of particular interest is MacArthur’s radio interview with Pat Abendroth when John visited Omaha Bible Church.

Here are direct links to the radio interview: listen download





Some Fruit from Family Devotions

22 08 2006

imag.jpgThis past weekend was my oldest son Bryce’s 11th birthday. He scored an iPod shuffle and was pretty excited.

Of course his younger brother Luke (7) managed to pry it from him during a visit to the local Hollywood Video store. When we were inside picking out the movie Luke gave us all (as in everyone in the place) a memory not soon forgotten.

Bryce’s buddy picked out a movie that he wanted to see. Luke grabbed the movie to check it out for himself.

Now you must remember that he is still enjoying the iPod at this point so his hearing is not the best and as a result his voice is a bit elevated.

So Luke grabs the movie and yells, literally, “That is the immoral woman!!”

“We are not watching this….look at her, she is immoral!!”

Every head in the place instantly turned to look in our direction. Only they did not see the little 42” amplifier but instead his Dad, who’s head conveniently stuck out above the racks.

What can you do?

I just laughed my head off. Luke of course has no idea. His brother and his friends are shushing him but he doesn’t get it…he is just going on about how this teenage girl is dressed inappropriately.

I thought later about the study we did as a family in Proverbs about three years ago. It has made quite the impact on Luke. For this I am quite thankful. We may have to dial him down a bit though.

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Christianity Today highlights Calvinism

21 08 2006

sept-ct-cover.jpgIn the upcoming edition of Christianity Today (CT) the current popularity of Reformed Theology will be highlighted in an article entitled Young, Restless, Reformed.

I am definitely looking forward to reading this article (minus the corny picture of Edwards as a homeboy and a soap opera reference with caviler intimations)

Consistent with their history of highlighting what is popular in the evangelical movement CT will highlight this growing theological trend in the church.

 

Once could have seen this coming when they interviewed Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, when he said, “The two hot theologies today are Reformed and emerging.”

Reformed Theology is growing and this is a good thing. It is great to see the popularity surrounding the writings of the reformers and the puritans.

This is particularly encouraging if you look at what has happened historically with the increase in this solid, biblical or reformed theology. In a word: revival.

We of course are familiar with the great number of folks born again when Martin Luther and the reformers were used by God to herald the glory of Christ through the recovery of the doctrine of justification. But who can forget the great harvest of souls that were won through the reformed preaching and writing of Baxter, Bunyan and Owen?

Consider also in our own country when in 1729 the Westminster Confession was accepted in the colonies, and then early in the 1730’s God uses the preaching of Jonathan Edwards to unsettle callous hearts with the gospel. In 1740 George Whitfield arrives in the colonies to stoke the flames kindled by Edwards. Then also early in the 1800’s the Second Great Awakening begins with a great outpouring of the Spirit of God upon those who are preaching, specifically preaching the doctrines of grace. We also see Princeton Seminary open in 1812 to accommodate and accelerate this revival of preaching.

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