Pagan Church

In Isaiah 17, we have before us a testimony of how one part of the church became pagan. In this chapter, Isaiah shows that it happens, how it happens, what happens as a result, how to avoid it. When this happens, it is very destructive because the pagan part wages war against the more holy part.  How does it happen? Alliances: Whom you are allied with you will become like. In this chapter Israel and Damascus are treated almost as  one and the same. It is a picture of how the people of God identify with those who can give them what they crave, and yet, how many blessings flow when they look to their Maker and are “mindful of the Rock of our stronghold.”

The first part of our text has its focus on Damascus, v1-3, and then Israel… but then from there on, Israel and Damascus seem to be treated as one and the same.

Alliances and covenants are at the heart of relationship with God and man, as there is a joining – a covenant relationship. We see this negatively in Psalm 106:28 where we learn that the children of Israel joined themselves with Baal, “They joined themselves also to Baal of Peor, And ate sacrifices made to the dead.”

Who you ally yourself with shows who you have faith in. Tragically, Israel has left her covenant husband and found a new husband. Using this example, God gives us insight into judgment in order to warn us in order to turn us to Him. Unless we turn our eyes to our maker and repent, we will all likewise perish…

The solution?  Flee to Christ, renounce idols and embrace the gospel as Isaiah explains, “In that day a man will look to his Maker, And his eyes will have respect for the Holy One of Israel. He will not look to the altars, The work of his hands; He will not respect what his fingers have made, Nor the wooden images nor the incense altars.” – Isaiah 17:7-8

Many blessings flow when we look to our “Maker” and are been “mindful of the Rock of our stronghold.” But remember the flip side: your worldly alliances will rob you, and they will also be destroyed, “This is the portion of those who plunder us, And the lot of those who rob us.” – Isaiah 17:14

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Husbands Love Your Wives – Online Webinar

Husbands, This is for you! Would you like to sit under the instruction of the foremost voice on family life during the Puritan era?

This six part online webinar series is based on William Gouge’s classic work, “Domestical Duties,” using the edited and modernized version by Joel Beeke and Scott Brown. This series is designed to help husbands love their wives like Christ loved the church. We will be taking critical chapters in the book that are specifically directed to husbands. 

Building a Godly Home Volume 2:

This webinar series is highly focused on Building a Godly Home Vol. 2 by William Gouge. Each session will focus on a particular chapter of the book. Though the book isn’t required to enjoy this webinar, we strongly recommend that you purchase a copy to follow along if you don’t already own one.

 

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Eli – The Father Who Would Not Restrain His Sons

I encourage you to listen to Tom Ford’s message he delivered last year during The Masters Plan for Fatherhood conference in Birmingham.  He begins his message highlighting the gravity of the text before him. He said,

“I wish I had a warm cup of coffee to share with you and we could have a little warm fuzzy time together and encourage one another and give you a cheerful message like Deuteronomy 6 or Psalm 127 or Psalm 128 and just gather around the table with our wives and enjoy our time. But the task this morning is not quite like a warm cup of coffee. It’s more like a trumpet in your ear while you’re trying to sleep. It’s a call of God to wake up and take notice. It’s a time to fear God and tremble before him, that we will not make the mistake of the father that we’re going to look at this morning. God help us not to make this mistake. Could it be that there’s one sin, one mistake, one problem in parenting that we could make that could bring disaster on our family? Disaster on our church? And disaster on our nation? Could it be there is one problem? We could narrow it down to one problem? This is what we’re going to look at this morning. This is what we’re going to look at this morning and may God help us.”

You can listen to this message and read the manuscript on SermonAudio

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Pride Will Take You Here

Where does pride take you? Isaiah gives the answer. Isaiah 16 continues the burden of God against Moab for her culture of pride, her lies, her cursing the people of God and for her inviting others to join with her in evil. Pride will take you somewhere. Moab has had an 1190 year long run of pride since they began in a cave in Zoar as a result of the incestuous encounter between Lot and his two daughters. Now God announces that He will destroy Moab. In the midst of this disclosure of God’s judgment against Moab, God delivers an offer of grace – a call for reconciliation. God calls His enemies to be reconciled with Him. But the salvation does not come without a price. It is the price of a lamb. This very moving passage also illustrates the love of God for sinners, and how He weeps with them for their calamities. However, the culture that was launched in that cave in Zoar will end in mass graves in the land of Moab. Beware, pride will take you there.

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A Family Mission Statement

Here is a great family mission statement someone sent to me:

FAMILY STATEMENT OF PURPOSE

Our family exists to glorify God and enjoy him forever. (Westminster Catechism)   We acknowledge that full and eternal joy only exists in God. (Psalms 16:11)  We will passionately pursue God’s glory and our joy by loving God (Matthew 22:37) and loving others. (Matthew 22:39)<

We will love God by obeying what he commands. (John 14:15)  We will not be confirmed to this world, but we will be transformed by the renewal of our mind. (Romans 12:2)  We will serve one master.  (Luke 16:13)  We will lose our life for Christ’s and the gospel’s sake. (Mark 8:35, Galatians 2:20). As ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20-21) we will finish the course Christ has given us to testify to the gospel of grace. (Acts 20:24)  We consider ourselves slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:19) and will be willing to lay aside not only sins but also any weights that keep us from runningthe race before us (Hebrews 12:1).  We will not lose heart (2 Corinthians 4:16-18) and we will rejoice in our sufferings (Romans 5:3-5) because we will look to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, (Hebrews 12:2) as we seek the city that is to come. (Hebrews 13:14)

We will love others by preaching the gospel (Romans 10:14) in deed and in word.  We will study, meditate on and memorize God’s word in order to know him more and toteach sound doctrine.  (Titus 2)  We will be actively involved in spreading the gospel to all people (Matthew 28:19) through going, through giving and through prayer.  We will be willing to go outside the camp and bear the reproach Jesus endured.  (Hebrews 13:13).  We will actively and thankfully seek to meet the needs of the least of these. (Matthew 25:35-36)  We will care for orphans and widows. (James 1:27)

We will show ourselves to be true Christians by our genuine love and our hate of sin.  (Romans 12:9-21)  We will walk and live by the Spirit so the gospel will be on display through our love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

To God be the glory forever and ever.  Amen

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Together on Purpose at Basswood

Here is how Basswood Church in Knoxville explains what they think about how age integration fits in to the life of their church. I love the way they understand and explain this. Also, see the FAQ section of their web site for more explanation.

Together On Purpose

Clarifying Our Terms

The phrase “age integrated” or “family integrated” has been attached to many things. Some of them are beautiful models of a Biblically functioning church. Unfortunately, others might seem little more than a homeschool club who get together on Sundays. Because there can be such a wide range of connotations when someone hears the phrase, we feel it is very important to be clear with what we mean if we describe ourselves this way. There are a few things that we are not saying, when we describe ourselves as age- or family-integrated.

Age integration is not a movement. Our desires spring from a Scriptural conviction, not a desire to join a separatist movement. (more…)

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A Family Destroyed

In Isaiah 15, the prophet takes us to the end of the story of the Moabites. The Moabites had their beginning just after the destruction of Sodom, as a result of a drunken incestuous act of Lots daughters in a cave near Zoar. Now, hundreds of years later, Isaiah 15, records how the story ends. The corrupt family of Lot that begot a corrupt nation ends in displacement and destruction. Isaiah prophesies that they will be thrown out of their land as refugees; to lose everything; to run for their lives; to wail; to be a displaced people with all their earthly belongings in their arms; crying with nothing left. This is the scene we encounter in Isaiah 15-16, in God’s judgment against Moab.

Moab stands as a warning to all those who are in rebellion against God, as Isaiah shows the outcome of that rebellion. Here is the reality: someone may rebel for many years as the Moabites did. A family may have been in rebellion for hundreds of years and thought they would get away with it. Not so. We should remember that Moab came from a family. There was a distinct identity that grew out of that family. They represented particular things and a culture grew out of that family – they invited one another to wickedness, they cursed the people of God, they tempted the people of God with lust and they stole Reuben’s land of inheritance. Have you ever known a family that had such a distinctive culture that was passed down from one generation to the next? Lot’s family was like that. What a family is and does will have implications that live on for generations.

However, Lot’s demise is not the only important theme in this story. The power of the gospel shines forth from the judgment against Moab as we see Ruth rescued from the wickedness of Moab. For this we can rejoice in God’s mercy. Ruth was David’s great grandmother and Christ was born from the line of David. In the line of Christ is a Moabitess. Christ is a Savior born from wickedness and for wickedness. This is the essence of the story of Ruth and the bright light of the Moabites. God reaches down into a wicked culture and saves some. He takes the lowly and blesses them with bread from heaven.

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It’s St. Patrick’s Day – Remember a True Hero of the Faith

Often a holiday gets disconnected from its meaning and roots… this is the case with St Patrick’s Day. Here is an article that summarized some of the interesting aspects of St. Patrick’s life and legacy. Author, Jerry Newcombe explains, “Unfortunately, many people only observe his holiday, March 17, by drinking themselves silly, which is totally contrary to the spirit of the man who Christianized Ireland. In fact, Patrick shows what God can do through someone who is committed fully to Him.” His famous prayer reveals what was the heartbeat of his life,

“I arise today through God’s strength to pilot me: God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me…Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me…”

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New Version of A Weed in the Church

Here is a new trimmed down version of A Weed in the Church. I have re-organized it for better readability and tried to refine some of the arguments since I originally wrote it.  And it is SHORTER – from 300 pages to 192.

Click Here to Purchase

 

 

 

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Husbands Love Your Wives – Online Webinar

Have you ever needed some detailed, practical counsel for your marriage? Have you ever wished someone would speak to the everyday matters that pop up in your marriage and family life? Have you ever heard sound teaching, but wished for more than broad theological principles? You needed someone to speak frankly. You wanted someone to show you exactly how the biblical principles applied in the real situations you are experiencing.

Come join Scott Brown, Joel Beeke, Sam Waldron, Jeff Pollard and Derek Thomas for an online book discussion on husbands loving their wives.

This six part online webinar series is based on William Gouge’s classic work, “Domestical Duties,” using the edited and modernized version by Joel Beeke and Scott Brown. This series is designed to help husbands love their wives like Christ loved the church. We will be taking critical chapters in the book that are specifically directed to husbands. 

In this second volume of the series, Building a Godly Home, William Gouge (1575–1653) does just that. His marriage counsel is focused on the everyday matters that husbands and wives experience while living together. The basis for his counsel to married couples, is his exposition of Ephesians 5:21–33, already presented in volume 1.

Gouge delivers very detailed explanations of the various parts of the husband-wife relationship. He analyzes nearly every possible aspect of married life. You will be amazed at the probing detail with which he examines these matters. He exposes the minutest parts of marriage. Yet he does not lose sight of the big picture. He goes to the heart of the matter.

Each session will focus on a particular chapter of the book. These six webinar episodes will air once a week from April 22nd through May 27 at 9-10pm Eastern time.


Session Date Topic Guest Speaker
Session #1 Tuesday April 22 Authority, pp180-195 Joel Beeke, Scott Brown
Session #2 Tuesday April 29 Gentleness, pp196-214 Joel Beeke, Scott Brown
Session #3 Tuesday May 6 Correcting, pp215-224 Jeff Pollard, Scott Brown
Session #4 Thursday, May 15 Kindness, pp225-236 Sam Waldron, Scott Brown
Session #5 Tuesday May 20 Provision, pp237-256 Derek Thomas, Scott Brown
Session #6 Tuesday May 27 Love, pp257-273 Jeff Pollard, Scott Brown

The cost of the webinar is $15.00.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

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The Purpose Driven God

Have you ever felt things were out of control and dangerous for you? Think again. God is in control. There are never any emergency situations. He has ordered everything in an orderly way to accomplish His purposes. There are no accidents.

I preached a sermon on the purposes of God from Isaiah 14 yesterday. There are two promises in this text you can hang your whole life, worldview and future on. These promises show how to understand history: The history of the world, the history of the USA and the history of your life. First, God will destroy the works of the devil. Second, God will have mercy on His people and provide refuge.

You have heard of the purpose driven life. Isaiah 13-14, is about the purpose driven God. He is the God of purpose. His purpose is for the whole earth and for every micro detail of what happens on the earth. Nothing can hold Him back. This word “purpose” appears four times in our text. It is a marker for God’s intentions. See Isaiah 14:24, “Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, And as I have purposed, so it shall stand.”  And notice, v26-27, “This is the purpose that is purposed against the whole earth, And this is the hand that is stretched out over all the nations. For the Lord of hosts has purposed, And who will annul it?”

His purposes are both fulfilled in the immensity of His grand scheme,  covering the whole sweep of history in its big picture. The timelines, the personalities, the wars, famines, political schemes, all events and weather. Yet His purposes also order the most minute details of the people and the feelings and the actions of the most insignificant person… In this grand scheme of God, there are always three personalities in the story: God Himself, the devil, and human beings. Yet, there are three unstoppable forces that rule:

1. God’s thoughts

2. God’s purposes

3. God’s hand

These are the subjects of Isaiah 14.

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Iain Murray on Handling differences in the Body of Christ

Alexander Strauch in his book If You Bite and Devour One Another quotes Iain Murray, who “helps to put our differences in balanced perspective.”

“At the same time it is essential to recognize . . . that differences of understanding among Christians are never to be allowed to transcend the truth which makes them one in Christ. God would use our defective understandings and mistakes to humble us and to make us the more diligent in seeking to know the truth. The devil would use the same weakness to alienate believers from one another and to destroy Christian love and sympathy. . . . He would have issues not foundational to salvation so elevated in importance that the larger Christian unity disappears and contention threatens to ‘destroy the work of God’ (Rom. 14:20). This ploy Satan used with effect at the time of the Reformation and again in the Puritan period, for it is not Laodiceans [Rev. 3:14-22] but those with the strongest attachment to Scripture who are most likely to be tempted in this way. From the harm done by the dogmatism of controversies over secondary issues the devil then tempts other Christians, who observe it, to abandon contending for the faith altogether. The best remedy then for divisions among Christians is for all to put first the living and teaching of the gospel. . . . When Christ is put first, when making disciples of all nations is the first priority, division is far more likely to occur where it should occur, between believers and the world.”

Strauch, Alexander (2011-05-06). If You Bite & Devour One Another (Kindle Locations 1982-1984). Lewis and Roth Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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Not About the Gospel, But The Gospel

“People have often asked me, “What is the secret of your success?” I always answer that I have no other secret but this, that I have preached the gospel, — not about the gospel, but the gospel, — the full, free, glorious gospel of the living Christ who is the incarnation of the good news. Preach Jesus Christ, brethren, always and everywhere…”

From, p138 Broken Hearted Evangelist, by Jeremy Walker

The quotation was taken from Charles Spurgeon’s message entitled, “Sermons Likely to Win Souls.”

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David Platt – The Church Owes Apology For Professional Youth Discipleship

Here is an excerpt from David Platt’s excellent sermon, “The Gospel and Parents,” delivered at his church a few years ago. In this message Platt apologizes for the ways we have done youth ministry:

This is where I need to as the pastor of an American church in the 21st Century especially; I need to apologize to you as parents. We live in an age of professionalism where we are tempted to hire out even parental responsibilities. We want our son to excel in sports and so we hire a professional to train him in certain skills. We want our daughter to get into the best college and so we hire a tutor who will help her get that SAT score up. (more…)

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Shepherding the Flock of God – St Louis Meeting

Today we gathered with 20 men from the region around St. Louis who are shepherding in churches. Three men delivered messages. I centered my focus on Ezekiel 34. Jim Zes, directed us to Psalm 145 and helped us understand a critical aspect of shepherding: focus on God. Marcus Serven spoke about three aspects of pastoral ministry: 1. Preaching, 2. Prayer and 3. Shepherding which was his main focus. He identified three practices Calvin learned from Bucer: First, teaching from house to house. Second, declaring the whole counsel of God. Third, letter writing.

Here are some further thoughts I shared on the matter of the Good Shepherd from Genesis to Revelation, “For Sheep Scattered on a Cloudy and Dark Day.” (more…)

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