Friday, November 28, 2014

Faith to Believe

    Every year when this holiday season rolls around, I begin to ponder what it means to live for the Lord. In our family life, our churches, or jobs, and even in the things we do for pleasure. I begin to think about the ways that so many of us push aside what truly matters to put other things such as family, church, and pleasures in the place that only God should hold. The holidays start to roll in and instead of growing closer to God, so many people say "praise God for this" or "that" and yet they really don't mean it. Instead they merely want people to see what a great thing they have going for them. It is during this time of year that so many people try to reach out to the communities around them and it seems like efforts to "reach" others for Christ becomes the call of most Christians.
    Yet, what is actually the point? So what if we live in this way for two months or so? Two different things are occurring. First, those that are praising God for the things they have just so others can see what they have display the true issues that they have with pride that they probably struggle with all year long. Since they don't get the opportunity to display it publicly throughout the whole year, they use their faith and means to fuel their sinful desires for praise and honor for themselves rather than what the creator deserves. So instead of praising God, they are actually spitting in His face and letting all those around them see. This is the first way that Christians begin to distort what this whole season is even about. 
    Secondly, people begin to serve dinners, have clothing drives, food drives, and many other such material need driven events for those in their communities. I do want to clarify that there is nothing whatsoever wrong with doing these things for our communities, in fact it is something that is commanded of us by God. The issue that I am dealing with here is that so many churches and Christians do these things only for the "holidays". They don't do these things because they feel led by God to minister to people, but they do it out of guilt and from a place of pride. I guess that I am saying that both of these issues stem from the same issue. Our pride is our biggest stumbling block. Dinners are served because "people should be able to have a Thanksgiving" or "Christmas". It isn't, in most cases, because we want to share the gospel with strangers, no that would be too dirty. Instead we want to give them a warm meal, clothes, and say "oh look at us, look at the wonderful things we have done to help those in need." If this is the way that we "minister" to the community, we may as well let them suffer and perish. 
    Without the gospel there is no hope, none. If we do not purposely share the truth of scripture with those people we are ministering to, then it is a useless task. A warm meal or clothes will never save a person's soul and yet so many Christians think that if they do the material/physical things to help others, then they are doing what they were commanded by God to do. This is completely the opposite. Jesus talked about our Heavenly Father's love for us and the way that He cares for His children. He said that earthly fathers love their kids. So how much more so does our Heavenly Father love us! In the same way, people that are in need, they don't need us to be their earthly fathers. They have those and in most cases they at best were a pitiful example of what a father should be. No, God calls us to show others His love. That means that we need to love others in such a way that they do not see an earthly father or mother, something that they know and see the faults and flaws. But rather we are to show others the love of God that surpasses all understanding and reference. 
    This is what it means to minister to those in need. Jesus did not merely heal people of their physical needs, but spoke life and joy into them. Saying things like; rise and walk, your faith has made you well. It was never about merely healing people so that they would no longer have a physical problem, it was about ministering to people's souls and redeeming His bride for His glory. If we do not minister to people in the same way, so as to present the gospel of Jesus to them, then we have absolutely failed in what we have been called to do. 
    There are so many people that believe that if they do the right things, say a prayer, and live a good life that they will go to heaven. While at the same time, there are many people that would say that they are Christians that believe the exact same thing. If we do not repent of our sins and give our lives wholly over to God, then are we truly believers? In the book of James we see a discussion about faith. It hinges on two key points. Faith without works means absolutely nothing and works without faith are as equally futile. They go hand in hand. It it not a one or the other, it is both or none. If we have faith in Jesus as our savior, then we must proclaim that faith from the rooftops through our deeds and actions and testimonies of God's glory and grace. And if we minster to those in need, MUST proclaim the gospel to them. If we do not proclaim the gospel then we are telling those same people that we are claiming to love that their eternal damnation does not matter and that all that they need to worry about is this earthly life. Oh how grievously wrong they would be to think such a thing. 
     "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?
If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead."
(James 1 - 2 ESV)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


   Looking outside, one can see the different shades of colors shining forth from the surrounding trees. Their brilliant reds, oranges, browns, and yellows. It all looks make believe, like a vision from a child's mind, at least that's how I see it each year. I was listening to a song as I drove to work the other day, seeing the sun glisten off of the changing leaves. It was called "Beautiful Broken World" by Warren Barfield. As the song played I couldn't help but sit in wonder at the majesty that was sitting right before my eyes. The song begins with; "Wonderfully arrayed on a bright Autumn day, The leaves set the trees ablaze, I'm sitting here beneath, This decaying canopy, Sunlight sitting through the shade, It won't be long, Until they're gone away, That's the price we pay, In this beautiful broken world, We laugh and then we cry, There's a wonderful pain and joy, In death and in life yeah, yeah (Yeah this is life),Oh, we are living in this beautiful broken world". In listening to that song I began to think about the ideas written below. I hope that they bring a new joy and hunger into your life this autumn as they have into mine.
   Something strange happens every autumn, instead of the warmth of summer giving way to immediate cold and death that we see every winter, there is a pause within God's created order of creation. Instead of merely creating the trees to turn brown and have their leaves fall off as a sign of death and barrenness, God created the trees to scream forth His glory and majesty. "For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." (Romans 1:19-20 ESV) God not only declares that He is God through creation, He declares the gospel. Think about it. Most of the time we think about trees as being full of life when they are growing and green, yet we forget to think about what the leaves mean when they change color and paint the most glorious pictures. Instead of the leaves falling limply from all the trees as the seasons change and merely creating a picture of the death and destruction that has so immensely invaded our world due to sin, God gives us a small glimpse into the glorious mysteries of what He has actually done for His children. 
   Who would have thought that something as simple as a tree could relay such an amazing message of grace and salvation? Let's break it down further. In the spring and summer months, the trees are all green and luscious and look as if they are thriving. Yet, because of the way that the seasons work, we know that their time is short. Soon, winter will come and there will death. However, there is a break in this cycle. Autumn. Instead of the leaves merely dying and falling to the ground to return to the dust from which they came, God grants them the ability to experience a new life, one full of color and majesty. And yet, the only way that these leaves can experience this new brilliance for all to see, if to actually die. A leaf must first begin to die, before it will change colors. You don't see leaves in the spring being displayed with the wonderful colors of autumn, because there isn't any death in the spring. Yet, this glorious display of God's goodness and mercies that He shows to His children, can only be experienced through death. And so it is with Christians. No one can come unto Christ until the human sinful nature is put to death and a person is called by God to come unto His side. Just as the leaves cannot merely change color at any time that they wish, so it is with people. We cannot merely come to Christ by our own power or will, but rather follow the designed order and structure that God put into place at the foundation of the world. 
   We must wait for the season in our life that God has planned for us. We cannot choose what season we want to be in. We cannot choose how strong we want to be. We cannot choose the tests and hardships that we will have to face. Rather, we must wait on Lord for His timing and call. So pray for those you know and love and all those that you do not know that God would bring the season of autumn into their life. That they would be able to experience the gospel in a new and glorious way then they have ever seen before. For without death and a season of autumn, there can be no hope of a coming spring.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

LGBT Support in the Church

   Over the past year we have seen an immense increase in the support of LGBT ideologies and their place within the "church". There have been many people who have joined the side that claims that we need to just love everyone. There have been many people who have joined the position of saying that those who are LGBT are not in sin, and therefore should be accepted into the "Christian" community and given the same rights and privileges as those who are heterosexual. And there has been a decline in the number of people who hold to the position that those who are LGBT are in sin and need to repent. We even have seen this within the "Christian" music scene. Over the past year it has come out that Vicky Beeching has declared that she herself is a lesbian and therefore believes that it is possible to be a LGBT and yet still be a Christian. She has written several blog posts on the topic. Stating that she wants discussion and conversations to be started to help the Church to gain a better understanding of the issues that surround LGBT ideologies. However, in asking for these discussions to happen, she asks Christians to set aside the Bible, to leave it out of the conversation so that lines are not drawn in the sand. She provides links and videos to all of these other people who think along the same lines that she does, and yet she does not provide any scriptural reference to anything about the issue.
   In a section that she labels "So… WHAT DOES the Bible say about sexuality?" she talks about everything but what the Bible actually says about sexuality. She states,

   "The Bible is a complex book. A beautiful, holy and authoritative one. But one requiring illumination from both mindful study and the Holy Spirit (our God-given guide as we read it). There is no such thing as one ‘plain, obvious reading of the Bible’. Everyone reads through a lens. Everyone interprets. Many people argued that the Bible supported slavery until they put time into prayerful study and realised they were wrong. Many used to (and some still do) argue the Bible says women should have no place within the priesthood, and should never preach or teach in church. Lots of people have realised from prayerful study that this is not what the Bible actually says. Superficial readings of texts should never be the foundation of our arguments. Nor should parroting off the things we’ve simply been told by others in church. What’s the Bible’s model for figuring out truth? To study, pray and question! Just look at the Book of Acts where it describes the Christians who lived in the city of Berea: “Now the Berean people were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness andexamined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:110). That’s right – even the teaching that came from Paul himself was something they put to the test. They questioned it. They studied the Scriptures “to see if it was true”. And as a result the Book of Acts says that behaviour made them “of more noble character“. It didn’t make them ‘less spiritual’ as they questioned and studied. It didn’t make them less full of faith. It was an approach that is praised by the New Testament itself! So we have that model as our guide. We should never be afraid to question what we are taught in church. Follow the example of the Bereans and dig into this topic and re-examine it.
It takes work to assess the historical context of verses – like when Paul said ‘women should be silent in Church’. When we look at their historical context, and assess the original language they were written in, some of these verses they make sense in a completely different way than they do from a first scan. The deeply entrenched views of the church on any topic are unlikely to change overnight. They have changed regarding slavery. They have changed, in many places, regarding the role of women. But it requires work to get there; to prayerfully examine the Bible. If you’re willing to do that, I’m going to recommend great places to start reading."

   This is the total extent of her discussion of what the Bible says on sexuality. The only part that even remotely comes close is her brief mention of a scriptural foundation that men are supposed to be the leaders in the home as well as the church, which is an idea that she scoffs at. She uses the argument that people believed that slavery was supported by the Bible for a long time. Yes, some people believed that, but it was not a universal belief nor one that was right. It is reasoning like this, one where you take something that people claimed the Bible stated and yet it does not, that causes people to become dualistic. You cannot take something that the Bible declares to be wrong, even though certain people twisted scripture to believe that it was right (slavery) and use it as a basis for claiming why something else should be viewed differently even though scripture is very clear on the issue. Vicky claims that there "is no such thing as one plain obvious reading of the Bible", and while I would agree with her on a whole. Meaning that the Bible is not something that you can completely understand without the guiding of the Holy Spirit to open your eyes. However, this issue is not one of those times.

   In I Corinthians 6:9-11 we see Paul very clearly lay out what God thinks about LGBT people. "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."  (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV) If a sentence that says "nor men" (meaning all mankind) "who practice homosexuality will not inherit the kingdom of God" is not clear, plain, obvious reading of the Bible then I am afraid nothing and no one will ever be able to actually have a discussion with Vicky about this issue.

   She not only refuses to provide a reference within scripture to back up the claims that she is making, but she also fails to use the Bible as the "places to start reading". For her, it is not about the mysteries that are contained within scripture and the glory of God that explodes from it's pages, but rather she finds her comfort in recommending others to read the works of men as a starting point for this issue. I would also like to point out that so many like her would like you to read works by other mere men and use their views and thoughts as the background to reading scripture. This goes directly against the one verse that she does mention. That of Acts 17. The Berean people searched scripture to find out if what Paul had to say was true. This wasn't because there was no one else to ask or to read their work, but because scripture is the basis for all things that we know to be true. If we do not first start with scripture, then we have nothing to stand on and are reliant on what mere human beings have to say about an issue.

   This sadly is where so many people have gone over the past year or so. They have given in to the idea that mere man has the answer instead of Holy Scripture. That a "reinterpretation" of scripture is needed to "actually" understand it's meaning in our present time. I would argue that this is absolute heresy. God has kept scripture so pure and exact over the years that it constantly amazes scholars around the world. Not only has God protected it and kept it from changing, but there are hundreds of other old books that this has not happened with. And with the immense amount of Bibles that have been printed over the years and in so many languages, to see that much consistency is absolutely amazing. Instead of forsaking the gospel to try to incorporate a group of people into our congregations, why don't we first examine what scripture actually says and rely on God and not men to be the foundation upon which we stand.

   "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them."

(Romans 1:16-32 ESV)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

God's Sovereignty

   I recently listened to a new cd by the author Tedashii. It is a very moving and deep piece. It is a demonstration of what he wrote in his journal over the past year. For him, it was a year of pain, grief, joy, disaster, and comfort. Sometimes I hear people talking about the many things that make their life so miserable and make it so that they don't want to go on anymore. Yet, here is a man who, met with extreme grief and sorrow, turned to the only One who can heal and preserve. I came across this statement from Tedashii,

  "“From Below” is a collection of my thoughts, prayers and reflections from the past year of life. Step in to these Tumblr journal entries to experience all I felt, learned and grew from as I sought to understand life and God, below paradise.
It was the morning of a very cloudy and dreary Saturday - March 23, 2013.  My son Chase passed away. On that day everything changed for me, for my family.  Everything about me changed.
But the Lord did not change.
Isaiah 26:4 - “Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock.” (NASB)
My flesh is tempted to believe that on that horrific Saturday morning, God messed up.  He failed me.  He forgot to love me.  But the Lord is an everlasting Rock - constant, immovable, the same yesterday, today, and forever.  So when I begin to forget that, I run to these truths, replaying them over and over in my mind:
His goodness towards me did not change, and it never will.
His faithfulness did not change, and it never will.
His love did not change, and it never will.
His intimate understanding of my circumstances did not change, and it never will.
He did not fail me, and He never will."

   This is the cry and belief of a man who has placed all of his trust in a God who is sovereign. If he did not believe that God was in control and ruler of everything, even the death of his son, then how could he ever believe the things that he states? It would be impossible for him to state that the Lord did not change, even though his son had been torn out of his life. It would be impossible if he did not believe that the Lord would not and cannot ever fail him, that He will never change, and that He knows exactly what He is doing for the benefit and strengthening of His body, the church. If by his son's death Tedashii is able to have a greater witness and impact on the world, then who would we be to say that this was not a beautiful and glorious work of God? Not that the death of Tedashii's son is beautiful, for that is a painful and extremely trying experience to go through, but the fact that Tedashii now has this amazing platform from which he can exalt Christ and lead others to the throne of grace through solid and biblical teachings is truly a blessing from the Lord.

   God is always in control, and when trials come our understanding of this truth always comes out. In Tedashii's case, hurt and sorrow have given way to joy and peace in a sovereign Lord who does not ever change and continually holds Tedashii in His loving hand. Providing him with everything that he needs for this life.

   May we never rejoice in the sufferings of our brothers and sisters in such a way as to take joy in the pain that they are experiencing, but let us always rejoice that the Lord is good and cares for His children in a more sovereign way than anyone could ever think or imagine. God is good and loves those whom He has called unto Himself.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

What is the Meaning and Purpose of Your Church?

   In today's world, there are more "Christian church" denominations and sections than can be counted. So many of these denominations claim that they have the truth, are the most modern, present the easiest ways to understand the Bible, have the "true" translation of scripture, or even just claim to serve the best coffee around. And in our current world that we live in, these are all deemed as viable options by which we should determine what church is the best and most right to attend.
   I want to present you with a different viewpoint. It is not one of ecumenical oneness of all different beliefs pretending that we like each other for a short while and then can go back to our lines that we have drawn in the sand. But rather, it is the idea that there is but one Truth. That He is all that matters and if we do not follow what He has given us, the Bible, and hold true to it's truths we are not part of the church. The church, the bride of Christ, is not merely a building with chairs or pews, rugs, and a pulpit. Rather, the church consists of those who believe that scripture is the foundation upon which we stand. That scripture is all that we need in order to make decisions on faith and creed. That all we need for salvation is faith (this faith is not ours, but that of Christ imputed to us through salvation). And lastly, that God's grace and mercy covers every part of us. People can be from different denominations and yet fellowship, worship, and praise God together. The issues that divide people and break that fellowship are those that do not hold to scripture as the bottom line, those that do not believe that God's grace is enough, and those that think their comfort rises above the goodness and grace of scripture.
   Our churches are not meant to make us comfortable, rich, or complacent. Our churches should push, strengthen, and strive to equip us to further the reach of the gospel. God calls us in Romans, as well as the entirety of the New Testament, to spread the gospel to all those who have never heard, as well as to those who have heard. Churches are not meant to be safe havens where everyone who enters its doors will never be offended or challenged. Rather, we should be getting challenged in our churches. As Paul says in II Timothy 3, scripture is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training. It is not merely to make us feel good about ourselves or to tell us that we have the option to share the gospel with those in our community, but rather churches are supposed to make us uncomfortable when we hear about something we are doing wrong. They are supposed to challenge our beliefs if they differ from what is written in scripture. Churches are supposed to expose sin and relay the message of salvation and redemption through Christ.
   If churches are not doing these things, then maybe they aren't doing what they are supposed to do. If we were to stop looking for a church that meets all of our comforts and desires, and would rather take part in churches that challenge us to hold to scripture above all else we would see an immense difference in what people would consider Christian churches.
   Many people within "christian churches" make fun of or discredit the Puritans and their pious actions that they demonstrated. Yet, why would they do this? It is because they do not value scripture above all else, they are insecure and think that those who are different in their actions and deeds therefore must be weird and odd. Yet, the doctrines and messages that the Puritans preached to their congregations make most "Christians" today run, or choke. They run because they are afraid to place all of their trust in a God who is sovereign over all of creation. They choke because the message that they hear is one so deep and submerged within the depths of scripture that it sounds like a foreign language, one which they have not learned or taken part in.
   If, in our world today, we can find a church that resembles that of a Puritan church, we would be grateful and blessed. Church is not about all the frills and extras, it's about the Holy Word of God. This is what the church is for. To teach and to train those who are followers of Jesus Christ and to minister and serve those who are not, those who are in need. The members of a church are meant to share in fellowship with each other, just as they themselves fellowship daily with our Lord and Savior. If a specific church does not make you want to know Christ and the beauties of scripture more, but rather encourages you to become involved in everything else the world has to offer, then that church is not one that is following God. Programs and activities are great as long as they are a means to fellowship and share with one another. However, when they begin to take the place of actually learning and digging into the Bible, then they are the easiest and most useful tools of the devil to drawn Christians away from God.
   When we look for a church, we need to look for one that believes that Bible. If they do not do this, but rather hold that other things are on equal ground with scripture, or that other things hold authority above scripture they are not a church that we should be involved with. I think that Charles Spurgeon sums up the heart of the issue nicely. He says,
“That very church which the world likes best is sure to be that which God abhors.”
― Charles H. Spurgeon

Monday, June 16, 2014

Simplistically Beautiful

   Recently, since my son was born, I have been taking greater notice of the wonderful and simple things that God has so wonderfully created. For instance, the simple way that my son looks around at things, his tiny little hands and feet, or the way he already recognizes who is talking. These things are truly amazing to me. God created a small human being that has so many little body parts and yet God created them to be exactly as they are, to work in accordance with his little body and to function as a whole to show the glory that God deserves.
   I have seen the plants in my garden begin to grow rapidly and begin to bear some fruit. To know that they came merely from a small seed, that seems dead until placed int the ground, only to sprout forth new life is truly amazing. The way that plants grow truly shows the wonderful creative and sustaining power of God. He causes plants to grow, bear fruit and sustain us. It is hard to believe that anyone can look at such things and not be amazed by the beauty of God. However, we know that even though the creation screams the existence of God, there are many that choose to suppress the truths that God continually displays to them through His creation. (Romans 1)
   This is one of the reasons that I believe in a sovereign, reigning, wonderful God. There would be no way that we could sustain life, or hold life even together without God's continual sustenance. My son could not make his lungs work, to breathe in and out on his own. He could not make his bowels work to process the food he eats. He could not have even learned how to eat unless God had given him that insight and guided him throughout his formation and life so far. Plants will not just grow on their own. Yes, we know scientifically that there are certain things that are need to make plants grow and live, and yet, why do those things even work? Because God is there causing His creation to continually function in the way that He so sovereignly created it to. There has never been anything created that has always been there without failing to work or deteriorating. So, why then do we even begin to assume to think that God does not guide and shape everything that happens. If He wasn't doing so, the whole world would just fall apart and that would be the end of it. Particles are held together by seemingly nothing, at least scientifically. Yet, things still hold their shapes when created, and grow into the actual things that they sprout from, and little babies grow into adult humans. Why, because God's hands and words commanded it to be so. God sustains every part of creation and causes it to scream that He is there, and yet, so many people just turn away and say that they don't care, that they would rather honor themselves instead of their creator.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

My Son is Not Perfect, Merely Perfectly Created

   It has been just over two weeks now since my precious little son was born. During those two weeks I have continually heard people say that "he is perfect". Now, I know what they were trying to say. That he is beautiful, precious, sweet, wonderful, peaceful, joyful, calm, and created by God. However, my son is not perfect. Before you stop reading and think that I do not have a love and utmost pride in everything about my son, hear me out.
    People want to say that my son is perfect, well I cannot and will not ever say or agree to such a statement. To say such a statement, even in trying to say something else, is to say that you think my son is actually perfect. This cannot be. We see in Luke 18 that Jesus, in talking with those around Him says, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone." (Luke 18:19 ESV) So, knowing this, how can I allow people to claim that my son is perfect? If no one except God is even good, how can I, or anyone else, claim that my son is perfect?
    I love my son with every ounce of my being and would do anything and everything for him. He can't take care of himself, feed himself, or even clean himself. Yet, I have no worries about his well-being. Scripture tells us that God will care for all of the needs, not wants, but actual needs of His children. So, not knowing the future or what God has planned for my son, I take my own strength and courage from the fact that God knows everything about my son. He knows that as he gets older, all those people that called him perfect will see his faults and sinful nature begin to show. God knows every piece of my sons body, He created it and knew him before time even began. I mean, if I cannot rest in knowing that God knows my son, created him, and knew him, actually knew him before the world even began, then what hope would I, am mere man, have in making sure that my "perfect" son has everything that he needs? I don't even stand a chance.
   Therefore, I rest. I know that my son has been born with his own quirks and sinful longings. Just because he is so small and helpless and cannot manifest them yet does not mean that they do not exist. In their existence, my son is so wonderful and sweet, and cuddly that I couldn't have even thought that God would bless me in such a way as to be given such a precious bundle to love and care for. And yet, the great part is that I can't even love him on my own, so God gives me love to be able to love my son as He has called me to. I don't have to worry about my ability to love my son enough. If I love God with all my heart and teach my son those same things, then I will love my son enough.
    Now, I know some people may read this and think that I am saying that God created my sweet boy with sin raging in his body. Quite the contrary, I believe that my son was perfectly created by our most wonderful Heavenly Father, but that due to sin entering the world upon the sin that occurred in the Garden of Eden, that my son does have a sin nature. I know that many people think that children learn to sin, but how would they do this? They begin doing things that they have never seen before and therefore they can not have learned them from someone else. This is what leads me to reject the statement that my son is "perfect". Not because I do not love him and think that he is the most wonderful little bundle that I have ever seen, but because scripture clearly tells us that no one is perfect but God alone. It is because of this that I must assert that even though my boy is amazing in every way, God's designs are positively incredible, he is not perfect, but merely perfectly created.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Foundation

       I recently read a blog post from a Roman Catholic clergy member. In it he stated that the Catholic Church does not believe in scripture alone. This is the idea that if something doesn't line up with what the Bible says, then it cannot be true. Now, my heart broke when I read this. If you can't stand up scripture, then what can you stand on? I think that there is not nearly enough awareness among protestants that the Roman Catholic church does not believe anything in the same way that protestant churches do. We need to stand up the truth of scripture. If we can't do this, we have nothing. Everything else is the mere words of man and hold no eternal weight in comparison to the holy word of God.

"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
        I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."

(2 Timothy 3:14 - 4:5 ESV)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Marriage II

   Today I turned on the computer to the news that a judge in PA had ruled that a ban, currently held in the state of PA was unconstitutional. This was a ban against gay marriage. There are many people that have taken this opportunity to already seek marriage licenses, while there are others that are asking for more than one judge to rule on this issue. My heart breaks for the state of PA and for the country of the United States as a whole. One by one we are turning our eyes further and further from the truth. We bless sin and call it a wonderful event. People call it just and right, people's equality, and many other such things. In truth, it is sin. It is only sin. God has not created us to forsake what is right and true. But rather our sinful desires cause us to turn away from Him, to seek out relationships that promote unhealthy families, and distort every picture that Christ has given us for what a family should look like. My heart breaks for all of my friends, who are at this very moment endorsing these actions through social media, and other avenues of communication. I deeply encourage those who think that these actions are the right ones, to go back and read the book of Genesis again. Please read your Bibles, there is nothing else in the whole world that holds as much weight and truth as the words that are found within its pages. People's opinions and thoughts, if not based upon scripture should hold no weight for those who claim to be Christians. My heart is filled with sorrow at the amount of people that claim to love others, and yet continually endorse the sin that they are so deeply involved in. I pray that everyone would join me in prayer, not for our states or country, but rather for those who claim Christ and yet refuse to seek His face on such issues as this.

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them."

(Romans 1:18-32 ESV)

Thursday, May 15, 2014


   What does it mean to be content? So often I hear people complain about one thing or another, in fact there are many times that I catch myself making this same mistake. So often in our culture, the acceptable thing is to complain about whatever situation we find ourselves in, no matter what it is. If it is hot outside, we complain about that, if it is cold we complain about it being too cold and snowy, if it is the perfect temperature we complain that it is raining too much. This cycle continues and continues, and not just with the weather. There are so many times that we complain about our homes, our food, our kids, our work, our time, and so many other endless things. The cause of this endless complaining? I believe that it stems from a deep and unrelenting desire to disregard God's word and His promise that He will care for us, never leave us, and most of all, work all things for the good of those who He has called unto Himself.
   We need to deeply repent as a church. I do not believe that this call is for our country (USA), for even though many of the founding fathers were deeply involved in their churches, our country is by no means anywhere near being Christian. Therefore I believe that this call of repentance should echo forth unto churches only. Churches that say that they believe and teach the Bible. We cannot say that we trust Jesus for our salvation and then turn right back around and complain about everything that we have or come in contact with. Even if we don't really mind it, the world still hears complaints from a person who should be telling them that Jesus takes care of all of our needs. We need to be the body of Christ. We need to say that Christ takes care of all of our needs, and then actually live like it. Can you imagine what the world would see if we lived through every and any situation without worry or complaint for the things that we encounter? Can you imagine the lives that we could change if we gave up our hold on our mere possessions and goods and instead lived in such a way as to have little but give much?
   We complain about the size of our houses, and yet we are only complaining because we want more rooms so that we can have two living rooms, one for each person. Yes, I said each person. It boggles my mind to hear people talk about how they don't like a house that they look at just because there would only be a space for one tv so the couple would have to watch the same shows together. How about you actually get to know each other, if you want to watch tv, great go for it. But do it together. We complain about being single, but then when we find that special someone all we want to do is make sure we have our alone time and space to ourselves. This can't be what the church is called to. We must dig out the roots that have embedded themselves deep in our hearts and made us the most selfish part of the body of Christ in the entire world. Sure, some people would argue that the great USA church gives more money to help those in need than any other country, great for us. WHO CARES?!! We have more money than every other country to begin with. We should be giving more money, lots more money. Not only money but our time and energy to help those around the world in need. We don't have to travel half way around the world to do this, we have plenty of people that we can help right in our own backyards, but we must seek them out. 
   We must be a people with content hearts. "But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you."

(1 Timothy 6:6-21 ESV)

Monday, May 12, 2014


   Recently I have been thinking about baptism a lot. Then, this Sunday, there was a baptism at church. It was an infant baptism, which comes from a different doctrinal viewpoint to the one to which I hold. This idea of infant baptism has been one of the main catalysts for my recent thoughts on the subject. However, I do not understand where this idea has it's roots within scripture, for I cannot seem to find them.
   There are generally three different views on what baptism is and does. The first would be that held by Roman Catholics. They believe that those who are baptized are "Already destined for him through Baptism..." (Roman Catholic Catechism). This is why they baptize all of their children. They believe that in so doing they will destine them for heaven/salvation.
   The second viewpoint is that which is generally held by Presbyterians. They believe that baptism does not save, and yet they still hold it as a sign of the new covenant and administer it to the children of their congregation. They baptize their children into, what they call, the covenant family of God. Claiming that all of its blessings are bestowed upon those children who are baptized. Claiming that once they are brought unto salvation that they are merely recognizing what was done for them through the act of baptism.
   The third viewpoint is that which is generally held by Baptists. They believe that only those who have professed faith in Christ and understand what that means are the only ones to whom the sacrament of baptism should be administered. They use the many scriptural passages found in the New Testament which state, "repent and be baptized", as the catalyst for this belief. It is through these verses that they reason that since you must repent to be a Christian, and you must do this before scripture calls you to be baptized, then for that reason baptism must follow after such a profession of faith and repentance.
   I believe that through scripture and the understanding of who the blessings of God are for that the third viewpoint presented is the one to which scripture presents as the right way to view the sacrament of baptism. This view uses the sacrament of baptism as a way for believers to profess their knowledge and belief in the work that Jesus Christ has done to save their souls. Much in the same way with which the sacrament of the Lord's Supper is celebrated as a communal event amongst believers to show that they believe in the work that Jesus did upon the cross and the sacrifices that He made for His church. If we were to believe all with the Roman Catholics, we would believe that we are saving anyone that we baptized with a little water when they were a baby. This would be to say that these babies have no need of seeking forgiveness or of believing in Jesus as their savior. But they rather are already destined for Him and no matter what they do will be destined for Him. This does not and cannot align with what scripture says. That a man must be born again to see the kingdom of God. Our human actions, whether they be baptism or other, cannot destine or save anyone. In dealing with the second viewpoint, we can see that the Presbyterians in their view of infant baptism seem to have tried to get away from this teaching of the Catholic Church that basically claims that it saves a child by baptizing them, but they fail to fully step away from baptizing infants and therefore cannot change the meaning of this sacrament, no matter how they word its purpose and design. In so trying to change the meaning and wording to accord with the idea that salvation is wholly wrought by God without any actions of man, they make just as bold of a statement as the Roman Catholics do. By claiming the these children who are baptized receive all the blessing of the New Covenant, they are claiming that they receive the blessings of those who have already had the Holy Spirit work in their heart to enact the salvation of their souls. Therefore, they are claiming that God will give these children the same blessings that He bled and died on the cross to bring salvation to those whom He has called and chosen unto himself. Therefore, if you follow reason, they are claiming that those children have the blessings that God has promised only to the beloved, His bride the church. Saying then, that these children that are baptized are already part of God's church and therefore are already believers.
   Yet, how can this be since there has not been any profession of faith? They would claim that they are not believers, but will one day come to recognize their baptism. What on earth does this even mean? Do they mean that a persons baptism in some way has a certain power over a person that they can one day realize the work that it has done? Are they stating that baptism has more power, or even equal power to the work that the Holy Spirit does? If they are not claiming these things, then what is there to realize or recognize? If baptism is the outward sign of the New Covenant with God, then how can someone who has never claimed to believe that covenant or to hold to the commands of God claim or receive the benefits that He so graciously bestows upon those who do believe in that covenant?
   The answer is simple. If we truly believe that God died for those who He came to save, then we cannot say that babies/infants should be baptized or even come close to "giving" them a piece of the New Covenant. That covenant is for the people of God only! If children grow up in the church and come to a saving knowledge of the grace of God, then they are welcomed into that wonderful and holy covenant, but not until then. No man can be saved through his works or the works of any human being. Therefore the covenant that Presbyterians claim is bestowed upon infants upon the act of baptism is completely untrue and unbiblical.
   We need to teach our children about the New Covenant, but we cannot tell them that they are part of it until they come to a saving knowledge of God. If we tell them as children that they are already part of it, why should they ever need to consider anything else in life since they are already part of such a covenant? They will not, rather it is by God's grace that children or adults are brought to salvation and not because of their baptism.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

George Whitefield & Charles Spurgeon

    "The doctrines of our election, and free justification in Christ Jesus are daily more and more pressed upon my heart. They fill my soul with a holy fire and afford me great confidence in God my Saviour. I hope we shall catch fire from each other, and that there will be a holy emulation amongst us, who shall most debase man
and exalt the Lord Jesus. Nothing but the doctrines of the Reformation can do this. All others leave free will in man and make him, in part at least, a saviour to himself. My soul, come not thou near the secret of those who teach such things. ... I know Christ is all in all. Man is nothing: he hath a free will to go to hell, but none to go to heaven, till God worketh in him to will and to do his good pleasure. Oh, the excellency of the doctrine of election and of the saints’ final perseverance! I am persuaded, til a man comes to believe and feel these important truths, he cannot come out of himself, but when convinced of these and assured of their
application to his own heart, he then walks by faith indeed!" -George Whitefield
    Oh what amazing and wonderful truths this man preached and spoke. A man who pleaded with others to trust scripture, to not merely say I don't believe John Calvin and his teachings. His main reason for pleading thus, he came to believe the wonderful reformation truths without even reading Calvin. Those truths jumped right off the pages of scripture upon God revealing them to him. Thus, one of the greatest evangelists that ever lived was born.
    "I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and him crucified, unless we preach what is nowadays called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel ... unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption (limited atonement) of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the Cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called." -Charles Spurgeon
    These truths of reformed theology have spoken deeply to my heart and mind. Causing me to see God more clearly each and every day while deepening my love for the work that He did for me on the cross.
    "Join with me in prayer at this moment, I entreat you. Join with me while I put words into your mouths, and speak them on your behalf—“Lord, I am guilty, I deserve thy wrath. Lord, I cannot save myself. Lord, I would have a new heart and a right spirit, but what can I do? Lord, I can do nothing, come and work in me to will and to do thy good pleasure. Thou alone hast power, I know, To save a wretch like me; To whom, or whither should I go If I should run from thee? But I now do from my very soul call upon thy name. Trembling, yet believing, I cast myself wholly upon thee, O Lord, I trust the blood and righteousness of thy dear Son .... Lord, save me tonight, for Jesus’ sake.” -Charles Spurgeon

Friday, April 11, 2014

Raise Up a Child

   Recently, as the birth of my first child draws closer, I have noticed more and more the ways in which parents treat and allow their children to act. I have noticed this in the past, but have become increasingly more aware of these instances over the past several months. It boggles my mind to see how many family relationships are completely backward and are being controlled by the whims and desires of children, rather than the loving kindness that a parent can only bring. I have seen screaming kids in the store, demanding that they have to have something. And then, the parents agree and allow their child to continue to develop such a sinful mindset as to think that they are what the world revolves around and that whatever they say is as good as a command. I have seen children tell their parents that they will not eat their dinner, because it is not something that they like. And then to my astonishment, instead of seeing parents tell their child they should eat what has been prepared for them, they turn around and reinforce this idea that children know what they should eat better than their parents do. I have seen children in church that cannot sit still through a short (hour long) sermon. Yet, these kids have no problem sitting and playing video games or watching movies for hours on end. In church they think that it is time to color or to play with a toy, while their parents try to pay attention while also making sure that their child does not need anything. In order to combat this, some churches take all children out of the service. Does this remove children from being distractions and create a more attentive audience? Sure, it probably does in most cases.
    Yet, what are we teaching our children? It seems that we are willing to relay to these children that the gospel message is only for those of a certain age, and that God does not mind if you do not pay attention to what He has to say as long as you are a child. This breaks my heart! There are so many reasons why this mindset has to go. Jesus called the little children unto Himself. He did not send them away to come back at a later time when they had reached adulthood, but rather made sure that they heard what He had to say as well as the adults. If people continue to relay these messages to their children, they will grow up with that thinking in the back of their mind. That Jesus doesn't care if you don't pay attention to His word, that you can reject what your parents teach, and that you do not have to listen to those wiser and more learned than yourself. 
   Now, while this may be true in some instances on this earth, what does it say about their relationship with the Heavenly Father? Instead of yearning for the wisdom found within His word, they seek their own desires and needs. Instead of listening to elders within the church, they think that they know more than those whom God has raised up to train and teach them. Instead of listening to the calls of Christ, they reject them the same way that they rejected their carrots or green beans. The state of families within this country, the USA, is just downright awful. Children have no respect for their elders, have no care for those in need, and have no desire to give two seconds of thought to something their parents say. Why is this? Well, the simple answer is because of the sinful nature that children are born into. However, one of the most foundational reasons that children believe this, is because that is the mindset that has been instilled and grown in them, by their own parents. 
   As I contemplate on the ways that I hope and desire to raise my own child, I cannot but be more and more grateful for the way that my parents raised me. I was raised to finish my food on my plate, because what you take you eat and don't waste. I was raised to listen to my elders, to respect my parents, and to understand that they are not perfect, but they sure as heck knew/know a lot more than I do. I was raised to sit and listen to what was being preached, so that I could ask questions about what was said to better understand the God of the universe. I was raised to listen and then to talk, to pay attention to details so that I could understand what another person was saying and to answer with knowledge instead of ignorance. I thank God for the wisdom that my parents had in raising me in such a way as to show me that their "punishment" that they gave me for my sinful actions were an extension of the punishment that God so often puts me through in order to see Him more clearly. I hope to raise my child in this way. So that he may grow up knowing that his parents love him, and yet our love is no where near the love of Christ. That he will see my guidance as an example of how he should follow Christ and how he should learn from those who have gone before. I pray that the way I raise my child will above all else cause Him to bring praise and glory to God for the blessings and the hard times that he goes through.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


   On the heals of World Vision releasing a statement that they will now allow those that are unrepentant LGBTQ's to work for them, as long as they are professing Christians, there has been statements flooding social media and other venues. It truly seems that the church in America has truly given over their thoughts and desires to all manners of evil. If we cannot even stand up to call out a "Christian" organizations wrong doing, then how on earth can we witness to those that are unbelievers that we come in contact with? I have seen statements that there is "unclear translation issues" within our versions of scripture, that we "just need to love everybody", and "it is so great that this organization is being more open minded".
   First, scripture is very very clear on the issue of marriage and family. In fact, it is one of the clearest topics that are laid out for us in scripture. "And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:3-6 ESV) This is a passage where Jesus is talking to the Pharisees and they are trying to trap him into saying that divorce should be allowed. Yet, it still clearly states that a man leaves his family, and then hold fast to his wife. There is a pretty clear picture hear of who is involved in marriage.
    "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
         But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." (Ephesians 5 ESV)
   This passage deals with this issue right to the core. How is it that so many Christians think that those who are LGBTQ are those who fit in the second half of this passage as correlations to Christ and the church? They do not at all, for again scripture clearly states that it is a man and his wife, they are one, and are a correlation to how Christ interacts with His church. Those that are practicing unrepentant LGBTQ individuals fit into the first half of this passage. They are the sexually immoral that must not be named AMONG us. It does not mean that we cannot talk about such issues and how to pray or care for those individuals, rather we are called to witness and bring the gospel to those in need every day. However, it does mean that those who are sexually immoral should not be named as one of the number of the church of Christ. Why do I say this? Well, it is because of this passage. Paul tells us that we (the church) and the relationship we have with Christ correlates to the way that a marriage and a family should work. Therefore, when the church allows sin and sexual immorality to creep in, does it not distort this correlation that has been created with the church and Christ? If these things are not to be permitted with the church, then how can we say that by allowing those who practices these such things into the "church" is the right and loving thing to do? Does it not say in Romans: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.
He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.
For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus." (Romans 1:16 - 2:16 ESV)
   It seems pretty clear to me that this passage is laying out that the sexual immorality that Paul talks about in Ephesians may in fact not only have to do with adultery, but also with those who commit sexual acts that are outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. Paul says right in this passage that it is unnatural and that those who do such things will receive "the due penalty for their error." Paul is not merely saying that they will receive a slap on the wrist here, but rather when you read this whole passage of scripture, there is God's wrath being poured out upon them. I for one, take that to mean exactly that. When God pours out His righteous wrath on people, it is not welcoming and comforting. It is painful and filled with suffering. When someone does what this passage says, that they know what is right and then they still don't do it, the consequences are not pretty. "So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin."(James 4:17 ESV)
   So, in closing. World Vision is not being more open minded, they are not being more loving (for if they were being loving, wouldn't they tell those who are dying in sin that there is an escape, that there is a savior who died for those who believe, rather than merely approving and accepting what they do?), and they are not searching deeply into translation issues. These are all things that people come up with so that they do not have to deal with the just and powerful God who is almighty and jealous for Himself. The God who when unrepentant sinners die, He sends them to hell. He fulfills His promises and does not take lightly to those who ignore what He has commanded. We need to pray long and hard for those who are lost in this world, and yet, that does not mean that we need to open our arms and welcome them into our midst without any call for repentance. As John the baptist said, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near." He did not say to those with whom he spoke, come God loves you as you are, no need to change from your selfish ways. No, he spoke with boldness and righteousness that those who did not repent at the coming kingdom of God, they were the ones who should fear death and it's consequences.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Love For a Lost Group of People

     I recently finished working on a project that I have been working on for a few years now. I had been talking with friends about the differences between the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Church. It amazed me that so many people that I talked to knew very little, or nothing about what the Roman Catholic Church actually believes. Upon realizing this I went on a quest to find documents from the Catholic Church that stated what they believe so that I would not have to use my own words to summarize what they believe, but rather could merely point others to their own documentation of their beliefs.
     The results that I came upon were even more disturbing than I had previously even known. There are many statements that they make within their own catechism that directly go against passages of scripture and create a false doctrine deceiving those who truly desire to know Christ and His truth. Due to my findings and this desire for others to know what they truly believe and base all of their teachings upon, I decided to take points from their catechism and refute them with scripture. This link will take you directly to the work that I have done on the issues at hand. If anyone would like further discussion on these issues, please feel free to contact me. Also, just to let you know, the contents of the link will probably take you quite a while to read, since it is quite long.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


   What do we think of when we hear the word truth? What thoughts come to mind? Is it something that is scholastically learned through hard studies? Is it something can be proved? Is it something that can be taught? Or maybe is it something completely different from these other things, or a combination of them all? I would like to look at specific sections of scripture to see what it has to say on the topic. Many times we think of truth as something tangible and to be grasped, but what if there is more to it than that.
   "Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:6-7, ESV)
   "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete." (1 John 1:1-4, ESV)
   "So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”
They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me." (John 8:31-45, ESV)
   "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known." (John 1:14-18, ESV)
   "In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory." (Ephesians 1:11-14, ESV)
   These are a few of the verses that discuss what truth is, does, and contains. Many people have heard the saying "the truth will set you free". Many people who do not even believe in God or trust Him for their salvation. Yet, they hear this saying and they know at least part of what it is referring to. They take it to mean, that if you have wronged someone or lied to someone or something like that, then if you tell the truth it will take a weight off of your shoulders and cause you to feel better. That has nothing to do with where that saying actually came from. Instead the verses where this is talked about clearly discusses the way in which the Jews were so mad at Jesus for claiming that they were not children of Abraham and therefore slaves. It has nothing to do with feeling better, but rather the state of someone's soul. Until Jesus reigns within your heart and mind, you are lost, unable to find truth.
   Why can I say this? I can say this because Jesus said clearly "Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me." This stings to the very heart and lays out what the issue is when dealing with the idea of truth. People believe that they know the truth and have an infinite amount of knowledge that they can draw upon. Yet, they forget the greatest factor in knowing truth. They forget it's source!
   One way to think about this would be to have access to the greatest river of the purest water ever tasted by man. People could drink of this river and feel refreshed to the utmost. People would travel for thousands of miles to come to the head of this river, to the very spring that fills it to overflowing. Then, over time this river becomes a thing of "normal" occurrence. The people begin to channel the river to all parts of the world, creating life and pleasing taste for all who come in contact with these branches of the wonderful river. Over time the whole world has been touched, even if just the slightest sense, by this mighty river. People begin to become complacent and to forget that there was a time before the rivers refreshing taste. People begin to attach different rivers to their water sources, trying to gain a greater access to better water. They combine the pure river with smaller ones that have impurities and lesser quality tastes. They have problems with what to do with the water after it is used, and therefore begin to add drains further downstream so that those furthest away from the spring have the most polluted water. This continues on and on and on, until children are told the story of the purest river in the world, as if it were a mere fairy tale.
   The fact is, this is where truth has gone. Jesus is the truth, the way to salvation, the life giving source, that refreshing cool drink. And yet, the world has taken His words, the Truth of scripture, and turned it into the most disgusting waste. Yet, at the same time that they have turned it into such awful waste, they continue to drink and use it to try to "convince" others that this Truth (water) is the most pure and wonderful that there is. How can this be? How can people be expected to see the beauty and purity of the living water, when it no longer resembles it in the very least?
   And yet, even though this water has been diluted in such a way that it no longer even resembles its true state, there is hope. When someone dilutes a river, or a stream, somewhere hidden away from all these distractions and dilutions, the Spring, the Source still exists. We may have to walk through the most disgusting and polluted water that could ever be to follow the river to its Source, and yet when we do, we find the most amazing and pure tastes and life that we could ever imagine. It no longer has an oily or putrid taste, but rather a smooth and refreshing one.
   This spring, this life source that I have been talking about, is Jesus. He is the savior of the whole world, and the only way to salvation is through Him. Now, He no longer dwells upon the earth in human flesh. He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. However, He did leave us with His word. The Bible. And with His word we may begin to understand and grasp this life giving water. To see more clearly in this murky disgusting river that is our world. Without scripture, The Bible, we have no way of knowing truth.
   It is with that in mind that I challenge everyone to read the Bible, to search it to see if their church is doing the things that they should, to see whether they are being fed properly, or whether they are drinking the most vile water/food that could be had.
   There are those "churches" that claim to be feeding their congregations Truth, when in fact it has been so diluted and polluted that it no longer even resembles the Truth. The Roman Catholic Church claims that they are the proclaimers of Truth, and that those who disagree with them, they cannot be believers of Truth. Yet, they no longer hold to the actual words found with the Bible. They have many beliefs held by their leaders that go directly against scripture and the teachings of Jesus. There are others that would also like to deceive you into thinking that they proclaim Truth. Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Joel Olsteen, Rob Bell and many many others.
   The church of God needs to stand up and declare that all of these people smell. They smell like the sewer that they are trying to push upon people, claiming that it is Truth and worth drinking of. We cannot sit idly by while they take the actual Truth and twist it towards their own purposes and dilute it with the filth of their own ideologies. If something contradicts scripture, it is not true. It cannot be true, for as we read in the passages above, Jesus is the Truth. If he is the Truth, then nothing that contradicts His word can possibly be true.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Necessity of Afflictions: By John R. MacDuff

                                                         The Necessity of Afflictions

                                                             By John R. MacDuff

                                                           "If need be!" 1 Peter 1:6

What a blessed motto and superscription over the dark lintels of sorrow! — "if need be!" Every arrow from the quiver of God is feathered with it! Write it, child of affliction, over every trial your God sees fit to send!

If he calls you down from the sunny mountain-heights to the darksome glades, hear Him saying: "There is a need be!" If he has dashed the cup of earthly prosperity from your lips, curtailed your creature comforts, diminished your "basket and store" — hear Him saying, "There is a need be!" If He has ploughed and furrowed your soul with severe bereavement — extinguished light after light in your dwelling — hear Him thus stilling the tumult of your grief, "There is a need be!" Yes! believe it, there is some profound reason for your trial, which at present may be indiscernible. No furnace will be hotter than He sees to be needed.

Sometimes, indeed, His teachings are mysterious. We can with difficulty spell out the letters, "God is love!" We can see no "bright light" — no luminous rainbow in "our cloud." It is all mystery; not one break is there in the sky! Nay! Hear what God the Lord speaks: "If need be!" He does not long leave His people alone, if He sees their chariot wheels dragging heavily. He will take His own means to sever them from an absorbing love of the world — to flush them out of self, and dislodge usurping clay-idols that may have vaulted on the throne which He alone should occupy! Before your present trial — He may have seen your love waxing cold — your influence for good lessening. As the sun puts out the fire — the sun of earthly prosperity may have been extinguishing the fires of your soul. You may have been shining less brightly for Christ, effecting some guilty compromise with an insinuating and seductive world. He has appointed the very discipline and dealing needful — nothing else — nothing less could have been effectual! Be still, and know that He is God! That "need be," remember, is in the hands of Infinite Love, infinite Wisdom, infinite Power! Trust Him in little things — as well as in great things — in trifles as well as in emergencies. Seek to have an unquestioning faith.

Though other paths, doubtless, would have been selected by you had the choice been in your hands — be it your to listen to His voice at every turn of the road, saying, "This is the way — walk in it!" We may not be able to understand it now — but one day we shall come to find that affliction is one of God's most blessed ministers — sent forth to "minister to those who are heirs of salvation." There would be no rainbow in the material heaven — but for the cloud! Lovelier, indeed, to the eye is the azure blue — the fleecy summer vapor — or the gold and vermilion of western sunsets. But what would become of the earth if no dark clouds from time to time hung over it; distilling their treasures — reviving and refreshing its drooping vegetable tribes? Is it otherwise with the soul? Nay! The cloud of sorrow is needed. Its every raindrop has an inner meaning of love! If, even now, afflicted one, these clouds are gathering, and the tempest sighing — lift up your eye to the divine scroll gleaming in the darkened heavens, and remember that He who has put the rainbow of promise there — saw also a "need be" for the cloud on which it rests! There is therefore reason for this chastisement, for "Whom the Lord loves — he chastens." Hebrews 12:6. What! God loves me when He is discharging His quiver upon me! — emptying me from vessel to vessel! — causing the sun of my earthly joys to set in clouds? Yes! afflicted, tempest-tossed one! He chastens you — because He loves you! This trial comes from His own tender, loving hand — from His own tender, unchanging heart! Are you laid on a sick bed — are sorrowful months and wearisome nights appointed unto you? Let this be the pillow on which your aching head reclines — It is because God loves me! Is it bereavement which has swept your heart and desolated your dwelling? God appointed that chamber of death — He opened that tomb — because He loves you! As it is the suffering child of the family which claims a mother's deepest affections and most tender solicitude — so have you at this moment embarked on your side — the tenderest love and solicitude of a chastening Heavenly Father. He loved you into this sorrow — and He will love you through it.

There is nothing capricious in His dealings. Love is the reason of all He does. There is no drop of wrath in that bitter cup you are called upon to drink. "I do believe," says Lady Powerscourt, "that He has purchased these afflictions for us — as well as everything else. Blessed be His name, it is a part of His covenant to visit us with the rod." What says our adorable Lord himself? The words were spoken, not when He was on earth, a sojourner in a sorrowing world, but when enthroned amid the glories of heaven, "As many as I love — I rebuke and chasten." Rev. 3:19. Believer! Rejoice in the thought that the rod, the chastening rod — is in the hands of the living, loving Savior who died for you! Tribulation is the King's Highway — and yet that highway is paved with love. As some flowers before shedding their fragrance require to be pressed — so does your God see fit to bruise you. As some birds are said to sing their sweetest notes when the thorn pierces their bosom — so does He appoint affliction to lacerate, that you may be driven to the wing, singing, in your upward soaring, "My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed!" "Those," says the heavenly Leighton, "whom He means to make the most resplendent — He has oftenest His tools upon." "Our troubles," says another, "seem in His Word to be ever in His mind. Perhaps half the commands and half the promises He gives us there — are given to us as troubled men." Be it ours to say, "Lord, I will love You, not only despite of Your rod — but because of Your rod. I will rush into the very arms that are chastising me! When Your voice calls, as to Abraham of old, to prepare for bitter trial — be it mine to respond with bounding heart, "Here am I!" — and to read in the rainbow which spans my darkest cloud, "He chastens, BECAUSE He loves!" And He pities, because He loves. A father bending over the sick bed of his weak or dying child, a mother pressing, in tender solicitude, an infant sufferer to her bosom — these are the earthly pictures of God. "Like as a father pities his child." "As one whom his mother comforts — so will I comfort you!" When tempted in our season of overwhelming sorrow to say, "Never has there been so dark a cloud, never a heart so stripped and desolate as mine!" Let this thought hush every murmur, "It is your Father's good pleasure!" The love and pity of the tenderest earthly parent is but a dim shadow — compared to the pitying love of God. If your heavenly Father's smile has for the moment been exchanged for the chastening rod — be assured there is some deep necessity for the altered discipline. If there are unutterable yearnings in the soul of the earthly parent as the lancet is applied to the wound of his child — infinitely more is it so with your covenant God, as He subjects you to these deep woundings of heart! Finite wisdom has no place in His ordinations. An earthly father may err — is ever erring; but, "as for God — His way is perfect!" This is the explanation of His every dealing: "Your heavenly Father knows you have need of all these things!" Trust His heart — when you cannot trace His hand! Do not try to penetrate the cloud which "He brings over the earth," and to look through it. Keep your eye steadily fixed on the rainbow! The mystery is God's — the promise is yours. Seek that the end of all His dispensations may be to make you more confiding. Without one misgiving — commit your way to Him. He says regarding each child of His covenant family, what He said of Ephraim of old (and never more so than in a season of suffering) "I do earnestly remember him still." While now bending your head like a bulrush; your heart breaking with sorrow — remember His pitying eye is upon you. Be it yours, even through blinding tears, to say, "Even so Father!" For he does not afflict willingly. In our seasons of trial, when under some inscrutable painful dispensation, how apt is the murmuring thought to rise in our hearts, "All these things are against me! Might not this overwhelming blow have been spared? Might not this dark cloud, which has shadowed my heart and my home with sadness, have been averted? Might not the accompaniments of my trial have been less severe? Surely the Lord has forgotten to be gracious!" No! These afflictions are errands of mercy in disguise! "He does not afflict willingly." There is nothing capricious or arbitrary about your God's dealings. Unutterable tenderness is the character of all His allotments! The world may wound by unkindness — trusted friends may become treacherous — a brother may speak with unnecessary harshness and severity; but the Lord is "abundant in goodness and in truth." He appoints no needless pang. When he appears, like Joseph, to "speak roughly" — there are gentle undertones of love. The stern accents are only assumed— because He has precious lessons that could not otherwise have been taught! Ah! be assured that there is some deep necessity in that all He does. In our calendars of sorrow we may put this luminous mark against every trying hour, "It was needed!" Some excess branch in the tree required pruning. Some wheat required to be cast overboard to lighten the ship, and avert further disaster. Mourning one! He might have dealt far otherwise with you! He might have cut you down as a fruitless, worthless cumberer! He might have abandoned you to drift, disowned and unpiloted on the rocks of destruction — joined to your idols! He might have "left you alone" to settle on your lees, and forfeit your eternal bliss! But he loved you better. It was kindness, infinite kindness — which blighted your fairest blossoms, and hedged up your way with thorns!

"Without this hedge of thorns," says Richard Baxter, "on the right hand and on the left — we would hardly be able to keep the way to heaven!"