Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Notes from Proverbs 4:23-27

[Below are some of the notes I used this past Wednesday in leading the devotion for prayer meeting at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]

23 Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.
24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth
And put devious speech far from you.
25 Let your eyes look directly ahead
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.
26 Watch the path of your feet
And all your ways will be established.
27 Do not turn to the right nor to the left;
Turn your foot from evil. (NASB)

Notice the similarity of the above passage with Romans 3:10-18. The description in that passage is of a people who have turned away from God, and the members of their bodies (with all the theological significance these bodily members hold) have become corrupted.

Pastors/theologians have equated this term with "mind" or "the seat of emotions." Jonathan Edwards defined the heart as the seat of desire. In his view (which I think is correct), we choose according to our greatest desire and our "heart" is what determines our desires. It is for this reason that the Holy Spirit must renew our heart before we will repent of sin and believe in Jesus.

Whatever the precise definition, it is clear that the "heart" is what is at the core of our being.

The believer must carefully guard his or her heart making sure that our awareness, attitudes, appetites, affections, and aspirations are being conformed to the Word of God.

What comes out of the mouth is seen as a direct reflection of what is in the heart.

So Jesus,

18 "But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. 19 "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. (Matt 15:18-19 NASB)

And in writing of the sinlessness of Jesus, Peter emphasizes that "no deceit was found in His mouth" (1 Pet 2:22).

I believe that in these verses, the "eyes" indicate our focus: in the sense of what we dwell upon or the goals that we strive after. So Hebrews 12:2 speaks of fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.

As Dr. Orrick described when he preached from Galatians 5 on walking by the Spirit, the "feet" are indicative of a persons life. (So that the biblical expression of "walking with God" indicates living for God and in communion with Him.)

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Proverbs 4:20-27 Initial Observations

I have been asked to lead the prayer meeting tomorrow night at Kosmosdale Baptist Church. I will be leading the devotion for the meeting from Proverbs 4:20-27.

20 My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Do not let them depart from your sight;
Keep them in the midst of your heart.
22 For they are life to those who find them
And health to all their body.
23 Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.
24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth
And put devious speech far from you.
25 Let your eyes look directly ahead
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.
26 Watch the path of your feet
And all your ways will be established.
27 Do not turn to the right nor to the left;

Turn your foot from evil. (NASB)


vv. 20-21. A progression: the son will listen to his father, the king, speak the words of wisdom, then he will read his father's words once they were written down; finally, the wise son will commit the words to memory (the words will be learned 'by heart').

v. 22. The words are both "life" and "health:" good for the soul and the body. Wisdom yields both eternal and temporal benefits.

vv. 23-27. The king/father instructs his son to give attention to four distinct parts of the body, each one full of biblical symbolism: the heart, the mouth, the eyes, and the feet.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

3 Notes on Preaching from Dr. Russell Moore and Rev. David Prince

Required to take a class on preaching for my Master of Divinity degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), I waited a few semesters to be sure that I could take the class from Dr. Russell Moore, since God had used his preaching as a major factor in confirming my call to SBTS.

The class was co-taught by Dr. Moore's close friend, Rev. David Prince, who is the pastor of Ashland Avenue Baptist Church. Overall, the class certainly met (or exceeded!) my expectations.

Early on during the semester, students were given 3 notes, which we were told to place in our Bibles that we use for preaching. These notes are excellent reminders about what Christian preaching MUST be, and I think they will benefit any Christian preacher, so I want to record them here:

1. "I am an ambassador for Christ when preaching."

2. When preaching, the center of every sermon must be Christ.

3. The purpose of preaching is not [merely] the passing along of ideas, it is communicating the story of the kingdom of Christ.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sermon Notes from "Hearing the Holy Spirit." Sermon by Jim Scott Orrick.

[The following notes were taken by Abby during the 10:45AM service this morning at Kosmosdale Baptist Church. The sermon is available to hear on-line HERE.]

I. Do not quench the Holy Spirit.
A. The Holy Spirit is a Person.
B. The Holy Spirit is compared to a fire, which:
1. enlightens.
2. warms.
3. burns away dross.
C. The Holy Spirit can be quenched:
1. though God is sovereign,
2. we may quench the Spirit, by ignoring Him, hardening our hearts.

II. Do not despise prophecies; we may despise prophecies through:
A. disinterest in God speaking.
B. uncritical acceptance of anyone claiming to speak for God.

III. Abstain from every form of evil.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sermon Notes from "A Simple Bouquet of Joy." Sermon by Jim Scott Orrick

[The following notes were taken by Abby during the 10:45AM service this morning at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]

I. Introduction
A. All of God's rules are indicative of His character.
B. With each of God's commands, we should ask what the command teaches us concerning God's character.
C. With each of God's commands, we should ask what the command teaches us concerning the character of God's people.
. Our lives ought to be characterized by rejoicing, a sense of dependence on God, and thanksgiving.

II. Rejoice Always
A. The qualifier "always" makes the command seem more difficult, but it is intended to make the command even more of a blessing.
B. Our God is a joyful God.
C. Jesus is described in Scripture as having been anointed with the oil of joy.
D. God's people should be characterized by joy; though there is a place for mourning, there is no verse that says "mourn always."
E. "Emotions ARE important in the Christian life."

III. Pray Without Ceasing
A. God is concerned about relationships: "prayer is personal interaction with God."
B. God is intimately involved in His creation.
C. We must not let our confidence in God's sovereignty keep us from prayer.
D. "Without ceasing" means:
1. "Habitually:" acts-> habits-> character.
2. "Persistently" (i.e. The Parable of the Persistent Widow).
3. Constantly aware of God's presence

IV. In Everything Give Thanks
A. God teaches us to say "thank you" in a similar way to how we teach our children to give thanks.
B. "In all things" does not mean "for all things;" when bad things happen, we do not have to pretend that those bad things are good.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Thabiti Anyabwile on Multi-Site/Multi-Campus Churches

My last post on this blog was intended to point readers to articles exploring differences between Mormonism and Christianity. That post was about matters essential to the definition of the Christian faith. This post is about what may be termed a "second order" doctrine: a matter that is important, but about which well-meaning Christians may amicably disagree.

The mere existence of the distinction between "first order" and "second order" doctrines causes some [well meaning(?)] Christians to protest any attention given to "second order" doctrines: 'Why waste time' [the reasoning goes] 'debating secondary matters when people are going to Hell without hearing the gospel?' Certainly the primary emphasis in our lives must be the gospel itself, but because the Church-- the bride of Christ-- is so important to God and impacts the lives of so many, it seems

wise to give some sustained reflection on a proper understanding of the nature of the Church.
Near the end of last month, Thabiti Anyabwile, the senior pastor of First Baptist Church on Grand Cayman, wrote an excellent article on the danger of multi-site/multi-campus churches. (In the article, Anyabwile focused on the type of situation where a single pastor is broadcast to large television screens in many congregations, but he did mention other multi-site/multi-campus situations as well, both in the article and-- especially-- in the comments section.) A high point in this article [as pointed out in a related blogpost by Frank "centuri0n" Turk] was the following section:

A very thoughtful pastor pointed out this morning that we surely need a better theology of the unity of the church beyond the local church. But I think the multi-site, multi-campus strategy that is not speedily and intentionally moving to church planting unravels the local church with an absentee pastor model. Indeed, “church” becomes a strange moniker for this situation. A “church” is not just an assembly, it’s an assembly that is also a “family” where the members do all the one anothers and also a “body” where the joints are connected to supply to one another and a “flock” kept in a corral where the shepherds feed, bind, lead, and guide in personal relationship. Multi-site churches reduce the family, body, and flock to an anonymous assembly. In that way it trades in the lowest common denominator (assembling) while effectively mimicking “local.”

Within the blogpost, Anyabwile does not cite specific Scripture references (he composed the post in an airport, waiting for a plane), but in the comments he cites several, such as 2 Timothy 2:2, 1 Timothy 1:3-11, and Titus 1.

Again, I highly commend Anyabwile's post, which is found HERE.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Is Mormonism a Cult? 2 Excellent Posts

The question of the relationship between Mormonism and Christianity was re-introduced last week due to Pastor Robert Jeffress labeling Mormonism a "cult" last week at the Value Voters Summit when he introduced Rick Perry.

Ed Stetzer of LifeWay Research wrote an excellent blogpost on this topic, which may be read HERE. After giving the results of some excellently-conducted research, Stetzer concluded:
There is no reason to be shocked that devout Christians consider those with a different view of Christ as non-Christians. In the current cultural climate it may be uncomfortable, but it is anything but shocking.

Even better is an article from Denny Burk of Boyce College, which may be found HERE; as usual, Dr. Burk focuses his post on the gospel.


Sunday, October 09, 2011

Sermon Notes from "Purpose Driven Predestination." Sermon by Russell D. Moore.

Today, I am home with my children, who are sick, and am therefore unable to meet with my church family at Kosmosdale Baptist Church. I am taking this opportunity to re-listen to one of the most powerful sermons I have ever heard. This sermon was originally preached at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary chapel on Thursday August 28, 2008 and can be heard on-line HERE. The preacher for this sermon is Dr. Russell D. Moore (BTW: today happens to be his birthday).

This is what I have always appreciated most about Dr. Moore’s preaching, and what I found true of his sermon on election as well: his preaching is always radically Christ-centered. The purpose of our predestination is the glory of God through conformity to the image of Christ.

A. Background:
1. In our contemporary situation:
a. There is often more consensus on the doctrine of election than we recognize, as seen in our songs and testimonies.
b. In other ways, the doctrine of election is not nearly controversial enough.
2. In the context of Romans: the situation with Israel, God's elect nation that had seemed to have fallen away, gave the Roman church a special concern for the doctrine of election.

B. Dr. Moore preached that God is actively working in the lives of the elect to bring us into conformity with Christ in the following ways:
1. In our prayer-life: that we would, like Christ, call out, “Abba, Father!” trusting in God’s sovereign, powerful hand.
2. In our peace: that we would trust God with our eternal destiny due to the work He has accomplished in Christ.
3. In our passion for evangelism: that we would be zealous to proclaim the Good News of Christ to others.
[Note: Dr. Moore did not alliterate the above points; that's just how they came out in the outline that I made while hearing him speak.]

C. Dr. Moore noted two reasons why people fear the doctrine of election:
1. They imagine that this doctrine will rob them of any assurance of salvation- they imagine that if this doctrine is true, then they may get to God’s throne earnestly desiring salvation and yet be turned away. Dr. Moore combated this fear by demonstrating the purpose for which Paul explained this doctrine: that he was writing to a church facing persecution and internal strife, facing their own doubts and hypocrisy, and that this doctrine of election is given for the assurance of those who have faith in Christ, that our salvation is God’s work, which will not fail.
2. They imagine that this doctrine will destroy zeal for evangelism. Dr. Moore combated this fear by demonstrating the connection that Paul makes between the doctrine of election and his own evangelistic passion- that it is due to the doctrine of election that Paul can be sure that the Word of God has not failed, in spite of the constant rejection Paul was facing from the Jews.

Dr. Moore then challenged his hearers: “If you are not more evangelistic now than you were when you came to understand the doctrine of election, you NEVER understood the doctrine of election.”

Dr. Moore closed with the following: “They tell me this [Southern Seminary] is ground zero for the doctrine of election; man, I hope they’re right.”

This post has barely scratched the surface of how exiting and challenging this sermon is. I cannot express how strongly I would urge readers to listen to this sermon and to send a link for this sermon to others. Again, the sermon can be heard HERE.

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Saturday, October 08, 2011

Cheering the Death Penalty: Some Thoughts

For conservatives who believe that the death penalty is a just punishment, at least for the crime of murder, then it is somewhat understandable to applaud a state's willingness to refuse to bow to liberal objections against the death penalty.

The applause AFTER Rick Perry spoke was even more understandable, given the fact that he gave a fair summary of the conservative position on the matter.

From a Christian pro-life perspective, when someone unjustly takes away a person's life-- the most fundamental of human rights given by God-- that person forfeits his or her own right to life (Genesis 9:6) in the eyes of the law.

However, it is almost certainly inappropriate to applaud something like the death penalty. God Himself takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11) and the sheer amount of executions taking place in Texas points to the fact that there are some deep societal problems there that need to be addressed.


Friday, October 07, 2011

Mitt Romney: Why I'll not vote for him in the Republican Primary

Because I think, in this case, the Daily Show is basically correct:

Though Rick Perry did such a terrible job articulating it in the recent debate, he was right to point out that Romney is a 'flip-flopper.' Especially troubling is Romney's inconsistent record concerning the most crucial issue of social justice in America today: the legal right to life for the unborn. [See more on Romney's sketchy- at best- pro-life record HERE.] I have no confidence that Romney will propose pro-life legislation, veto pro-abortion legislation, and appoint pro-life federal judges; therefore, Romney will not get my vote.