Potty Mouth @ The Pulpit

pottymouth

Potty mouth = The characteristic of regularly using vulgar language, especially strong profanities; a person having this characteristic.

I have to say that this is a hard thing to overcome among the new generation of Christians living in an environment where ‘potty mouth’ is made cool in mass media across the world. The sheer explosion and ‘freedom’ of vulgarity and obscenities over the past few years is very scary and crazy (to say the least). Gone are the days where producers at most imply such references in their media, rather than show them the ‘unabridged’ version. 

Apparently, this is beginning to be a problem in certain churches in America.

A good article (Reverence or Relevance) on this from http://blog.greglaurie.com/?p=1345:

It seems to me that for some we have lost the “fear of the Lord,” even in the Church.

There was a time when things were perhaps too uptight, and one spoke in whispers in the Church, and laughter was rarely heard. But today, many churches, in their attempt to be thought of as “cool” or “contemporary,” they have lost their focus.

I am not suggesting we attempt to be irrelevant and uncool, but my question is “Have we traded reverence for relevance?”

For instance, you have preachers talking in great detail about sexual issues, ranging from programs to have “sex every day for seven days” to more extreme versions in which they speak very graphically about specific sexual acts from the pulpit.

Then you have the “Cussing Preacher” syndrome. The pastor thinks it’s cool to use profanity in the pulpit so people will see him as one of them.

Is this all really necessary? I don’t think so.

Look, I have been a pastor for 35 years, and we have never had a problem reaching our culture and seeing people come to Christ. I am all for being real and authentic, but I also stand up on the platform to speak God’s Word.

We are … told in Scripture to watch what we say. Speaking of the tongue, James writes, “With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who are made in God’s likeness. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so” (James 3:9-10 ESV).

Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill church fame, has been one of those singled out with such a syndrome. Although I find there are some redeeming features from the ministry of Mars Hill, this is not one of them. I am beginning to realise that some of the language that I have been exposed to and raised up with (in church) may not be the best in giving reverance to God. 

Reverence is cultivated.

Truth – How Everyone Makes a Claim for it

elephant-with-blind-men

I am relieved to hear Tim Keller talk about this, when I watched his feature before Google employees last year. Here is the part that I am glad he put down in words what was at the back of my mind:

A common analogy is often cited to get the point across which I am sure you have heard — several blind men trying to describe an elephant. One feels the tail and reports that an elephant is thin like a snake. Another feels a leg and claims it is thick like a tree. Another touches its side and reports the elephant is a wall. This is supposed to represent how the various religions only understand part of God, while no one can truly see the whole picture.

To claim full knowledge of God, pluralists contend, is arrogance. When I occasionally describe this parable, and I can almost see the people nodding their heads in agreement. Ironic isn’t it?  The position is intellectually inconsistent. (Tim Keller) 

Full article which this is excerpted can be read here.

The Late Great Planet Church

Finally, a DVD to counter off a modern day distortion of biblical truth. 🙂 I’m totally getting this. Too many people are taken for a ride because of some media marketing carried out by Dispensationalists, the most famous being the “Left Behind” series.

“It is my conviction that many who are presently disposed toward Dispensationalism would not be victims of the system if they were better acquainted and informed about the system and its history – its theological roots and the doctrinal errors it has spawned.”
–The Late Ernest Reisinger, Pastor Emeritus, Grace Baptist Church, Coral Springs, FL

“Dispensationalism has thrown down the gauntlet; and it is high time that covenant theologians take up the challenge and respond to them Biblically.”
–Dr. Robert L. Reymond, author, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith

“The Late Great Planet Church (DVD) is a welcome and much-needed rebuke to the error of Dispensationalism which, for the last 180 years, has misrepresented the Scripture’s teaching on the unity of God’s purpose in the church. The historical facts presented reveal the fallacious foundation of Dispensationalism’s hermeneutic and theology. Dispensationalism is serious theological error and NiceneCouncil.com ought to be thanked for its diligent work in exposing the history of this movement.”
–Rev. Stephan R. Van Eck, Minister of Congregational Life, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Buy it from Monergism here. May God’s Truth be glorified! 🙂

Hezekiah’s Reformation Part 2

It was a declaration of intention. Making up the mind to repent is one of the hardest aspect of reformation, for it is dependant on the Spirit’s work to soften the hardened heart (see Ezekiel 11:19 & compare with Luke 15:17). Self will is not repentance as it leads to self-righteousness, which begins a new cycle of spiritual decline.

I mentioned this previously here, yesterday in fact. It is a hard thing to understand, especially with the majority of evangelicals in Malaysia believing in the neutrality of the human will (i.e. man or woman can ‘choose’ to do good or bad – ‘good’ and ‘bad’ as defined by God). They do not believe in the biblical doctrine of man’s depravity, where sin corrupts everything, even man’s so-called ‘free will’. 

Jeremiah was right in claiming that the heart is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9) and with Solomon, puts out the reality that no one can know his or her heart accurately; seen in 2 Chronicles 6:30 (the rationale being ‘the heart is deceitful’). That is why, we see this:

(2 Chronicles 30:12)  The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the LORD.

The singleness of heart in obeying God was given by God. It was not man’s will that determined that they wanted to ‘reform’. No, it was God’s doing. If He unites them, He is the one who flame them and changed them. That is grace. Not a cheapened grace which subscribed to the notion that man has a part to play. Man only has the ‘duty’ to obey, but the willingness is given by God. It is systematically dependant on God. And that scares a lot of mainstream evangelicals in this country somehow. I guess the prospect of not being in control, but in constant knee-bending, is humbling. Our society is not known to be humble.

You want real reformation like the one during Luther and Calvin’s time? Be submitted wholly to the work of God and His sovereignty. Real heart reformation can only come, ever come, through the Grace of our Lord. Amen.

Spiritual Reformation & Cleansing in Hezekiah’s Reign

heart-stone

This is a sweet passage to read from the Chronicles of the Kings (2 Chronicles 29:3-19). It is often depressing for the person who is steeped in a condition of prolonged spiritual slackness. The signs are certain and clear: lack of desire in reading the Word of God, lack of praying to God, lack of confession, lack of zeal for God’s Work, lack of spiritual sensitivity to the condition around the person, indulgement in habitual sins, indecisiveness, numbness of heart to people, reckless indulgement in worldliness and many others that are close to these sort of symptoms. 

It is for such a person that the hope of reformation (change) effected during the reign of King Hezekiah is given. The spiritual condition of Israel was at its lowest when King Ahaz (the previous ruler) dragged the nation through a wanton destruction of spiritual faithfulness to the LORD (Jehovah) as seen in 2 Chronicles 28:19. Yet, look at what Hezekiah did upon his ascension to rulership:
 

(2 Chronicles 29:3 & 5)  In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the LORD and repaired them.[He] said to [the Levites and priests], “Hear me, Levites! Now consecrate yourselves, and consecrate the house of the LORD, the God of your fathers, and carry out the filth from the Holy Place.

It was a declaration of intention. Making up the mind to repent is one of the hardest aspect of reformation, for it is dependant on the Spirit’s work to soften the hardened heart (see Ezekiel 11:19 & compare with Luke 15:17). Self will is not repentance as it leads to self-righteousness, which begins a new cycle of spiritual decline.

Confession of sin and the acknowledgment of guilt forms the bulk of verses 6 to 9. Here is not the intellectual assent of being a sinner, but the embracing of our sinful nature and a disgust towards the source and effect it has on our being. The heart of men is really deceitful and sick, like a keeper who can only look in aghast over the destruction caused by his rampaging wildbeast.

Finally, the desire to walk the path of repentance (of clearing and cleaning all the debris of sin in the life of the repentant sinner) does not come because of a feeling of mere remorse, or of the need to merely relieve the pain of spiritual deprivation; it comes from the acknowledgment and obedience to the duty imposed by God.

Look at Hezekiah’s closing command:

(2 Chronicles 29:11)  My sons, do not now be negligent, for the LORD has chosen you to stand in his presence, to minister to him and to be his ministers and make offerings to him.”

The reasoning for covenanting with God (making a vow to walk in His ways instead of ours – i.e. repenting of our ways) is  to be not ‘negligent’. What does that mean? It means basically, do not be deceived or be thrown off course. Do what you know is correct because the LORD has given them the responsibility to maintain a clean temple for God’s sake! It may seem out of place, but remember, the temple was in a mess after Ahaz’s reign. In their spiritual trough, the Levites and priests have given up on reforming.

Hezekiah warns them to do what they ought to be doing for the LORD commands them to do so. They should not second guess and allow their feelings to be right or to be confirmed or anything to prevent them from doing what God commands them to do. It was their duty. Do it.

This flies against Christian Hedonism which proposes that the main reason or factor for spiritual obedience is bound up with satisfaction in God’s Law. However, the consistent teaching of Scripture tells us that many times, what is needed is obedience to the duty and command of what God has given, for the reason that He is God over all things. Obedience is our duty, as creatures created to worship our Creator.

So clean up the debris of sin from our lives, like the dutiful priests and Levites. Submit to God, not grudgingly, but in obedience and true submission, knowing that our heart is so easily ‘negligent’ (or deceived) by our feelings and moods. In due time, the repentant sinner will declare (like the priests and Levites to Hezekiah):

(2 Chronicles 29:18-19) …”We have cleansed all the house of the LORD, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the table for the showbread and all its utensils.  (19)  All the utensils that King Ahaz discarded in his reign when he was faithless, we have made ready and consecrated, and behold, they are before the altar of the LORD.”

Amen.

Matthew Poole Biography

mattpoole2

His Life, His Times, His Contributions Along with His Argument against The Infallibility of the Roman Catholic Church

By Thomas Harley

Format: Perfect Bound Softcover

Pages: 232

Size: 6×9

ISBN: 9780595525027

Price is USD 18.95 

There is also an e-book version for USD 6 and a Hardcover Dusk jacket for USD 28.95.

Matthew Poole (1624–79), author of the famous Synopsis Criticorum Biblicum, was a seventeenth century ecclesiastical leader, nonconformist, apologist, and minister in England. Poole is best remembered for his Synopsis in the scholarly Latin tongue, and the English language Annotations upon the Holy Bible (the modern day A Commentary on the Holy Bible) written for the layperson. These works were highly valued by such divines as Charles Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards.

I am very interested in getting hold of one version of his biography. A very remarkable Christian theologian whose commentary has helped me in many areas. You can purchase it from here: http://www.iuniverse.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-000069949

Susan Boyle – The Real Truth About Us

boyle

Honestly speaking, the Internet is abuzz with Susan Boyle. Basically, a normal 47 year old woman who had no looks, nor any outward appearance that would be considered ‘out of the ordinary’, who wowed the judges on “Britain’s got talent!” Interestingly, the main reason for the buzz is due to the crowd and judges (and frankly most viewers) who thought that she had nothing to offer, since she had nothing physically appealing in her. Then she sang “I dreamed a dream”, a song sung by the Broadway musical character Fantine, and it shut people’s initial disdain of her. 

That is the summary. 

The sad truth is that all that reaction, from the press, and from the audience (and judges) is purely hypocritical. They basically are saying this: Cheers for Susan Boyle for she had no looks, no physical attraction… but her voice of an angel. That is pathetic to say the least. What would have happened if she had not a nice singing voice? The truth is that, she would have been laughed and ridiculed. That is what would have happened. Don’t believe me…. look at William Hung (from American Idol fame). 

Those people who praise Susan Boyle for her singing is basically saying this: a gift IS everything for a person to get respect. 

I beg to differ. Respect should ALWAYS be given to another human being REGARDLESS of whether the person has ANY talent or gifts. 

That is what makes the Gospel so attractive to me: That Jesus Christ, God Himself (the ultimate judge who is PERFECT) goes down into this sick world to save… sinners. It is because we are the most disfigured person, the most wretched person, that Christ came to save. Not the righteous, the one who had SOMETHING to offer and be proud of. 

Respect for Susan Boyle should have began because of the fact that she is human. Give it to fellow humans who are wretched before God’s eyes, and then cheer them! But who would, right?

Oh yeah… because that would mean that we have to respect ALL human beings… something that we (flawed beings) just cannot seem to do, because you and I need to be humbled. 

So, to all the other people who feel justified that they cheered Susan Boyle… ask yourself: would you have cheered if she had nothing to offer? Would you have cheered because she tried? 

Thought so.