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Fulfilling the Great Commission – “Heroes and Cowards” – An Argument for Relational Churches

Why are some men heroes and other men cowards? Why do some men stay and fight and others flee from the battlefield? Secular authors and economics professors Dora Costa and Matthew Khan explored this question by looking at factors that affected deserters during the Civil War. Their conclusion: relationships. In their book Heroes and Cowards, The Social Face of War, they state:


“Four brave men who do not know each other will dare not attack a lion. Four less brave, but knowing each other well, sure of their reliability and consequently of mutual aid, will attack resolutely.”

I believe these authors have uncovered an important biblical principal which is also key to healthy local church life. Since the desertion rate in the American church is far higher than the desertion rate of soldiers during the Civil War, this question deserves careful thought and study.

Perhaps this is why there are so many commands in scripture regarding relationships. There are over 50 “one another’s” in the New Testament indicating the importance and richness of relational life. Contrast this with the impersonal nature of many churches where people attend meetings but hardly know one another. God calls us into relationship and spiritual heroism as we work out our salvation and fulfill the great commission.

Paul urges the churches to be unified and stand fast in one spirit (Phil 1:27, 1 Cor. 1:10) Jesus sent out the disciples in pairs, not alone. (Mark 6:7) Proverbs also speaks a great deal about the importance of relationships. (Prov. 17:17, 27:17, 27:10, 13:20)

As we strive for faithful churches, let’s remember this principal. The accountability, safety, and camaraderie fostered by churches that obey the commands of scripture to fellowship together, pray together, know one another, host one another, invest in one another and build one another up radically changes the propensity towards desertion in the church.

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Young Men Who Did Not Waste Their Youth

 

Today we visited the grave of Great Awakening preacher, George Whitefield at Old South Church in Newberryport, Mass. He is buried under the church pulpit. It caused us to contemplate the use of time. Notice the casting of his skull and bible on his casket – a vivid reminder of the brevity of life and the importance of using our minutes for the glory of God. Each night Whitefield asked himself 15 questions to help him judge his actions during the day. He asked,

Have I,

1. Been fervent in private prayer?

2. Used stated hours of prayer?

3. Used spontaneous prayer every hour?

4. After or before every deliberate conversation or action, considered how it might tend to God’s glory?

5. After any pleasure, immediately given thanks?

6. Planned business for the day?

7. Been simple and recollected in everything?

8. Been zealous in undertaking and active in doing what good I could?

9. Been meek, cheerful, affable in everything I said or did?

10.Been proud, vain, unchaste, or enviable of others?

11.Recollected in eating and drinking? Thankful? Temperate in sleep?

12.Taken time for giving thanks according to Law’s rules?

13.Been diligent in studies?

14.Though or spoken unkindly of anyone?

15.Confessed all sins?

 

Scott Brown sitting at George Whitfield's Grave

 

Arnold A. Dallimore, George Whitefield, The Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the Eighteenth-Century Revival, Volume I (Edinburg: The Banner of Truth, 2001), 80, 81.

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Life Under Barack – Build Holy Families and Holy Churches

 

Most of us feel that our nation just made a grave error in the national election and that storm clouds are on the horizon. This may be true, but what should we do? Let me suggest that all of life must be seen in the light of the indestructibility of the church. Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18). This is why we have a message of hope that says, “Don’t despair, rise up and build holy families and holy churches. That will make a difference.”

Here is what I believe: the most important things we do in this life happen in church and home. It is here that we “watch and pray,” “let the Word of Christ dwell richly” and “be careful to observe all the statutes and judgments,” (Mark 13:33; Col 3:16; Deuteronomy 11:32). If you fill your home with the sweet waters of life and use your energies and gifts to strengthen the body of Christ you will be involved in the most powerful work done on the planet – more powerful and far reaching than DC the UN or the EU – and even Hollywood. Our work in church and home reaches across many generations and into heaven for all eternity. No administration can touch this in terms of significance, reach and blessedness. No nation can stamp out the healing balm that comes from the genuine worship of God in churches and homes.

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Looking on the Bright Side

Here is a note I received from a friend 7 Reasons You Shouldn’t Pay Attention to the Gloom and Doom

“Gloom and Doom is everywhere! In the papers, on the news, all over the internet, even in daily conversations. Many members of the general public and the investment community are getting depressed and caught up in this propaganda at a rapid pace. The attitude is even beginning to spill into personal and professional lives as people begin to buy into it. So what’s the answer? STOP immediately!

When you focus on the negative, you always multiply your problems. Instead, see your business being so busy you have to expand…the human mind has an incredible ability to accomplish whatever you focus on.


The 7 Reasons You Shouldn’t Pay Attention to Gloom and Doom are:



1. It’s simply not true.
It is possible to have the life you want. You work hard, and the media right now is making you sheepish. It’s herding you into a corner. It’s driving a stake right into the heart of the economy. You cannot create prosperity when you are fearful. In the 70’s we were told the world’s oil was running out; clearly that didn’t happen. The media predicted a mini ice age within the last 40 years; that didn’t happen either. Global warming? Chicago has had the heaviest snowfall since 1979. The media is powerful – do your own research.

 
2. This is a great year for commercial real estate.
If you are planning on investing in commercial real estate this year, you are in luck. There will be a fabulous inventory of product from which to choose. Interest rates are at an all-time low. Cap rates are becoming more reasonable again. Lots of OPPORTUNITY is in store for you this year.

 
3. Businesses that are closing should close.
You read the same newspapers I do, and you’ve seen articles about Starbucks and other retail chains closing units. It makes you wonder, doesn’t it? You need to realize these units were underperforming all along and would have been closed anyway. What the paper doesn’t tell you is that there are many units being opened as well.

 


4. There is more money available to exchange hands than ever before.

There is more affluence in the U.S. economy than ever before. Businesses catering to the affluent are selling goods and services at record numbers. After all, people still want to spend money.

 


5. Plenty of businesses and people are experiencing financial growth at the moment.

The mall parking lots are full; people are walking around with shopping bags containing multiple purchases. Restaurants are still busy; you still need a reservation. Many Fortune 500’s are having banner years.

 


6. More money was paid into the IRS in 2007 than ever before.

This is self-explanatory. The only way this was possible is if Americans earned record amounts of income!

 
7. Abundance is a mindset. There are no limits to what you can create, and there are endless opportunities.
If you focus on recession, that energy follows your thought. The more you focus on abundance and prosperity, the more you get.

 
Remember, history has recorded that more millionaires were created during the Great Depression than in any other time because of the infamous “poor economy”. These people prospered because they believed in themselves and were willing to take calculated risks. They made tremendous amounts of money because they did not let the media control their destiny – they took charge! Take charge and get going…”

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The Family at Church

Joel Beeke has written a wonderful book “The Family at Church” to help families in their participation in the meetings of the church. He says, “Teach your children that every sermon counts for eternity. Salvation comes through faith, and faith comes through hearing God’s Word (Rom. 10:13-16). So every sermon is a matter of life and death.” Each chapter either deals with listening to the preached word, or coming to prayer meetings. He says, “The church must maintain the divinely ordered role of the family to establish a godly heritage.’

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The End of Patriarchy?

Homosexual Anglican Bishop Gene Robinson Declares the End of Patriarchy

Last week Duke University’s Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Life invited the openly gay Anglican Bishop, Gene Robinson to speak to students. During his stay, he announced the root issue causing so much commotion around his life,

“At first look, it appears to be about homosexuality. Step back and it appears to be about Biblical authority… If we step back one step further and notice this has way more power and energy than it ought to, my own opinion is that this is actually about the end of patriarchy.”

It is a brilliant statement, because he shows where the fight is, but he is one hundred percent wrong. First, it is about scripture, for it is from scripture that we derive patriarchy. Second, it is not about the end of patriarchy, it is about the devil’s attempt to end patriarchy. Patriarchy does not end – ever – but those who hate it will. Robinson and the gay/feminist agenda will try to stomp out patriarchy, but they will find that they are raging against a holy Father – God – who will have His way.

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Genesis, The Beginning of the Gospel

Here is a sermon summary of the book of Genesis

The gospel begins here in Genesis. Can you explain the gospel? Genesis gives you the outline. The good news opens with the Creator God and His beneficial, eternal kingdom (creation Gen 1-2). It continues with God, the Father of His children in rebellion (fall – Gen 3); it unfolds with His acting as their Redeemer (salvation by faith alone – Gen 15:6) and their Governor (discipleship – Gen 12-50). The rest of the Bible is about one single thing: “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.” As it is with Genesis, all of the redemptive acts of God in the Old Testament point to Christ. All things are fulfilled in Christ. All things are explained by Christ.

 

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Why are Evangelicals Applauding the Stay at Home Dad?

Olivia St. John has written a powerful piece identifying one of the truly disturbing aspects of the Palin candidacy. She asks,

“So is Todd Palin ready to be ‘first lady’?”

Mrs. St. John relates how this absurdity works out in the real life of Todd Palin by citing a Palin spokeswoman,

“Todd… is involved in fulfilling ‘the ceremonial duties of a first gentleman.’ In fact, he recently hosted a tea for former first ladies of the state at the governor’s mansion in Juneau. I wonder if he held his pinkie upright as he sipped from his demitasse cup.”

The reality is that those who vote for this ticket are also applauding the stay at home dad. St. John states this succinctly,

“Todd will become a stay-at-home househusband.”

It should take our breath away that Todd Palin will be the very first man in history to play this role reversal in the highest offices of the land. Why? There is a reason this is the first time in history for such a thing. The short answer is that we have completely rejected the biblical order for home, church and state. We have abandoned our theological moorings regarding manhood and womanhood, motherhood and fatherhood. These moorings have been constructed from explicit statements of scripture that are not valued much anymore.

The author names this for what it really is – “Gender bending.”

“The Palins have clearly bought into this concept of “gender bending” and are now modeling it for our nation and the world.”

She then acknowledges that many regard this distortion of gender roles as actually harmful,

“Bioethicist Leon Kass says the current bending of gender roles is ‘harmful, even dehumanizing, to man, to woman, and especially to children’…”

But all of this is understandable when you look for the origin of this idea. St. John notes that this masculinization of women has a particular philosophical root – Marxism. She cites Bryce J. Christensen, author of “Divided We Fall: Family Discord and the Fracturing of America,”

“Christensen also states, ‘Utopian designs for masculinizing women, marginalizing men and vaporizing family homes are far more than literary fantasies. At least two real-world political movements – Marxism and feminism – have devoted considerable effort to pursuing [such] utopian objectives.’”

Finally, Mrs. St John exposes the strange philosophical hypocrisy that would lead the Christian voter to endorse role reversals,

“How ironic that Christian conservatives rightly faulting Obama as a socialist so readily applaud Palin whose feminist views, whether realized or not, share much in common with Marxism.”

“While Sarah Palin may be the darling of the pro-life movement, she is no sweetheart of the pro-family community. Its leaders could be in for some unpleasant surprises.”

So why are evangelicals applauding the househusband? My perspective is that the real reason evangelicals are applauding the stay at home dad is because our brains have been pickled in feminist and Marxist ideology for too long and we don’t think biblically anymore – and our salt has lost its taste in society. What we need to recognize is that today, the Christian community is praising what has always been abhorrent to those who have read and understood their Bibles for the past 2000 years.

Here at the beginning of the 21st century, we have become like the Corinthians,

“For you put up with fools gladly.” 2 Corinthians 11:19

For Olivia St. John’s article on Worldnet Daily click here

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Helpmeet From a Different Era – Susanna Spurgeon

 

Susanna Spurgeon speaks glowingly of the focus of her life in their Nightingale Lane home,

“Our children grew apace in the sweet country air, and my whole time and strength were given to advance my dear husband’s welfare and happiness. I deemed it my joy and privilege to be ever at his side, accompanying him on many of his preaching journeys, nursing him in his occasional illnesses, his delighted companion during his holiday trips, always watching over and tending him with the enthusiasm and sympathy which my great love for him inspired. I mention this… simply that I may record my heartfelt gratitude to God that, for a period of ten blessed years, I was permitted to encircle him with all the comforting care and tender affection which it was in a wife’s power to bestow.”

Then, after these ten years, she fell ill and he cared for her.

From, “The Life of Susannah Spurgeon,” by Charles Ray, The Banner of Truth Trust, p173

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Is Sarah Palin the Right Role Model?

What does the Bible say about women’s roles? My new book “Feminine by Design ~ The Twelve Pillars of Biblical Womanhood” answers this question using scripture alone.

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Feminist to Feminist: Sarah Palin’s “Muscular American Feminism”

Camille Paglia, hard core feminist writing in Salon, identifies the new style feminism of Sarah Palin which she says, is “feminism’s greatest leap since Madonna,”

“Conservative though she may be, I felt that Palin represented an explosion of a brand new style of muscular American feminism. At her startling debut on that day, she was combining male and female qualities in ways that I have never seen before. And she was somehow able to seem simultaneously reassuringly traditional and gung-ho futurist. In terms of redefining the persona for female authority and leadership, Palin has made the biggest step forward in feminism since Madonna channeled the dominatrix persona of high-glam Marlene Dietrich and rammed pro-sex, pro-beauty feminism down the throats of the prissy, victim-mongering, philistine feminist establishment.”

So, what’s the difference between the old feminism and the new? It is more than just lipstick! You can put lipstick and other things on feminism but it is still feminism.

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Established by the Gospel Romans 9-16

As we summarize the last half of the letter to the Romans, we should not forget to whom this letter was written. It was written to freshly saved, storm tossed believers in the great pagan city of Rome. Rome was a city overcome by idolatry and debauchery, and this letter shows us that God always has something to say to His people living in pagan cities. We too are these kinds of people. We live in the midst of “a wicked and perverse generation.”

There are many struggles confronting people justified by faith living in these conditions. So Paul does what he always does so well. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he puts his finger in the wound. And in doing so he heals that same wound by applying the salve of the Gospel. The wound is festering because a great and tragic exchange has been made. The glory of God has been “exchanged for a lie.” This is the great temptation – the great liability of people living in the cities of the world . All of our problems and all of our sorrows can be traced there. This great wound is the cause of the bloodshed in the souls of men. But God is not content to leave sinners in their wounds and so He sends the gospel through the apostle Paul. Paul does a loving thing and puts the healing finger of the Lord Jesus Christ right into the center of the festering wound of mankind – the exchanged glory of God for a lie.

These wounds are with us because we are like heat seeking missiles that follow the heat to the bulls eye of a target. We are all like these missiles, but we are comfort seeking missiles. We are quickly headed in the direction of our own perceived comfort. We go for the heat. We exchange the glory. In our pursuits we exchange the true comforts of the kingdom of heaven for the false ones on this earth. The apostle is presenting to us the only true comfort – the Gospel of God. And, God is the gospel. He is the “God of patience and comfort.” There is only one comfort in life and death and it is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Not to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ… for obedience to the faith– to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever, Amen. Romans 16:25

And so it is true that the gospel is our only continuing comfort in this life. The gospel is our only hope for stability during this life. The gospel is our only hope in death. I know that I am not my own; That I have been bought by the precious blood of Christ; That my sins have been fully paid for; That the power of the devil has been broken; That He will escort me and preserve me to my heavenly home. This is the precious gospel of Jesus Christ.

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Searing the Conscience of the Church

Will Christian young ladies find a role model in Sarah Palin? We should beware because she does not promote the biblical vision of womanhood. She is not keeper at home (Titus 2:5). She is not a helper to her husband ( Genesis 2:18). She is building the kingdom of another man not her husband (Prov 31). Her lifestyle proclaims, “you can have it all – wife, mother, executive.”

Exalting this role model praises things that are contrary to the express will of God. Consider how the Sarah Palin candidacy is working to further sear the consciences of American Christians against the explicit principles and commands of scripture regarding biblical manhood and womanhood. This is one of the most significant attacks against the Christian conscience in a long time. This candidacy, which is an apologetic for females in authority, destroys the biblical vision of motherhood and home life. It happily and flauntingly rejects the creation order.

Consider that men who are applauding this, are leading the church into more confusion and error. It is alarming to me that they sweep explicit commands and principles under the carpet and pretend they are not there. They seem to do this for some greater good like ending abortion or stopping Obama.

The conscience is a very precious asset. It is a personal and detectable influence. This is the blessing of a conscience – it keeps you from a purely theoretical understanding of scripture. The conscience works in your heart to make the work of Christ real and visible in the world. It produces repentance and leads you to make adjustments. The conscience is a safeguard against false Christianity because it keeps our faith true.

But the conscience can be compromised. In 1 Tim 1:5 we read of a “good conscience” and in 1 Tim 3:9 “a pure conscience.” But in 1 Tim 4:1-2 we learn that we can have “a seared conscience.” This means that you can mistreat it and desensitize it. You can kill it’s sensitivity and have no feelings against sin. This is a devastating condition for we also learn in 1 Tim 1:19 that this kind of conscience “can cause shipwreck.” Hebrews 5:14 teaches us about how the conscience can be trained and dulled, “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” If our consciences have not been exercised by scripture, but activated and excited and influenced by the role models of our culture, our consciences will be seared as they seem to be now. The conscience is a precious tool in the hands of God. But when it is dulled, the glory of God is diminished in the world.

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The Centrality of the Gospel, Romans 1-8

The gospel is central to all of life –  summarizing the message

If you do not understand the gospel you cannot be saved, you cannot rightly interpret your feelings, govern your thoughts, raise your children, maintain relationships with friends, conduct your work life or maintain loving church life.”

Romans begins and ends with the gospel. In Romans 1,Paul says that he is separated to the Gospel of God and that he is “not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God to salvation,” Romans ends with a prayer that “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ.”

Statements by great men on the importance of the gospel make this perfectly clear

C.H. Spurgeon

“Never lose heart in the power of the gospel. Do not believe that there exists any man, much less any race of men, for whom the gospel is not fitted.” (CHS)

“Let this be to you the mark of true gospel preaching – where Christ is everything, and the creature is nothing; where it is salvation all of grace, through the work of the Holy Spirit applying to the soul the precious blood of Jesus.” (CHS)

“On Christ, and what he has done, my soul hangs for time and eternity. And if your soul also hangs there, it will be saved as surely as mine shall be. And if you are lost trusting in Christ, I will be lost with you and will go to hell with you. I must do so, for I have nothing else to rely upon but the fact that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, lived, died, was buried, rose again, went to heaven, and still lives and pleads for sinners at the right hand of God.” (CHS)

“We have an unchanging gospel, which is not today green grass and tomorrow dry hay; but always the abiding truth of the immutable Jehovah.” (CHS)

“The gospel is not ‘God loves us,’ but ‘God loves us at the cost of his Son.'” (Derek Thomas)

“As there is only one God, so there can be only one gospel.” (James Denney)

“The gospel begins and ends with what God is, not what we want or think we need.” (Tom Houston)

“If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.” (Augustine)

“Whenever the gospel is preached it is as if God himself came into the midst of us.” (John Calvin)

“There is nothing attractive about the gospel to the natural man; the only man who finds the gospel attractive is the man who is convicted of sin.” (Oswald Chambers)

“A gospel that elevates man and dethrones God is not the gospel.” (Will Metzger)

“The man who does not glory in the gospel can surely know little of the plague of sin that is within him. (J.C. Ryle)

“The revelation of the gospel is to a world that is already under indictment for its universal rejection of God the Father.” (R.C. Sproul)

“The heart of the gospel is redemption, and the essence of redemption is the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ.” (C.H. Spurgeon)

 

In summing up Romans 1-8, I spent about a half hour by reminding of the centrality of the gospel throughout the letter, then we read Romans 1-8 out loud in the congregation

.Quotes From Together for the Gospel web site, May 17 and 19, 2006, “About the Gospel,” by Ligon Duncan

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A Vote for a Curse?

Your_Vote_Counts

On Wednesday night I gathered my family around the TV to hear what I told them would be a superior delivery of a speech. We were not disappointed – candidate Palin was out Raygunning Reagan (“the great communicator”) with her amazing platform skills. We heard things that we have been waiting for politicians to say and it was indeed refreshing. While we can all easily praise many of the perspectives that the candidate holds, we must think beyond appearances. While evangelicalism is giddy to vote for this candidate (in spite of many very serious biblical reasons not to) it is appropriate to pause to consider what this really is. For many, it may be a vote against Obama. But this vote is also on many other critical family issues. Consider these,

Why would anyone want to vote for something that the Bible calls a curse? Isaiah 3:12, “As for My people, children are their oppressors, And women rule over them. O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, And destroy the way of your paths.”

Why would anyone want to vote for something that would cause the Word of God to be blasphemed? Titus 2:5, “that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.”

Why would anyone want to encourage a mother of five to leave home? Titus 2:5, “that they admonish the young women to be… homemakers.”

Why would anyone want to encourage a wife to submit to another man? Ephesians 5:22-24, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.”

Why would anyone want to encourage a woman to defy the authority structure of the universe? 1 Corinthians 11:3 “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”

Why would anyone want to vote for a woman, when scripture always requires men for civil offices? Ex. 18:21-27; Deut. 1:13; 17:14-20; 2 Sam. 23:3; Neh. 7:2; Prov. 16:10; 20:8, 28; 29:14.

People say, “My vote is a vote against Obama.” But we must remember it is also a vote for a curse, for blaspheming, for mothers to leave home, for wives to submit to another man, for women to rebel against the authority structure of the universe, for positions scripture limits to men?

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