Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Did Mary the mother of our Lord appear near Green Bay, WI?

The Green Bay Press Gazette Reports Virgin Mary apparitions at Green Bay-area shrine recognized as first in U.S.

I used to live just down the road from the spot in Champion, WI where the apparition of Mary was said to appear back in 1859 to Adele Brise three times.  Since then countless miracles are said to have occurred there.  

This is big news for Catholics because this is the first place in the US where it is said officially that Mary appeared.  She is said to have appeared and given Adele a mission.  She is said to have announced herself as "The Queen of Heaven who intercedes for the saints."  Adele was told to intercede for the saints and make converts.  She based her life on this appearance.  

The question I have is this:  Why would Mary the mother of Jesus appear in Champion, WI to tell a woman to do these things?

What does the Bible tell us about Mary?

1.  Mary was a virgin betrothed (engaged) to Joseph a, descendent of David, when she was told by an angel that she was with child by the Holy Spirit.  The text in Luke tells us that she found favor with the Lord.  Favor has to do with grace or God's undeserved blessing on one unworthy.  She is not to be afraid of the angel because God has granted her grace.   She gave birth to the Savior in Bethlehem.  (Matt. 1:18; Luke 1:27-38; Luke 2)

2.  Mary had 4 other sons and at least 2 daughters.  (Matt. 13:55; Mk. 6:3)

3.  Mary saw herself as a sinner in need of a Savior and she rejoiced in the Lord and Savior whom she would give birth to.  She is not blessed because of her own intrinsic goodness, but because God chose her to give birth to the only good one and the only Savior of sinners.  (Luke 1:46-48)

4.  Mary was a good mother and cared for Jesus well.  She became His follower and was there when he died and rejoiced when He rose.  She is an example to women in her devotion to the Father and to the Lord Jesus Christ.  However, she was not sinless.  She spoke out of place to Christ at Cana.  She questioned some of the things Jesus did, and she too needed a Savior.  (John 2:4; Luke 2:48; Mk. 3:31-35; Luke 1:46-48)

5.  The Bible does not record any "immaculate conception" of Mary.  She is assumed to have born of natural birth.  

6.  The Bible does not speak of Mary as a "co-redemptrix".  The bible never speaks of Mary as the "Queen of Heaven".  Instead Jesus is said to be the one way of Salvation.  He is the one Savior and Lord.  No one is ever told to pray to Mary or worship Mary.  (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Ex. 20:3; Eph 4:4-6; 1 Tim 2:5).  

In view of these things I see no reason why God would send Mary to appear in Champion WI and to have so many people look to her and this appearance for there hope.  

Instead, God wants us to pay attention to the revelation of His Son: the one true Lord and Savior and to trust in Him and Him alone for our salvation and hope!  (Eph. 2:8-9; Acts 16:31; Romans 5:8; Romans 10:9-13)

Anything less or more is against God and the message of the Bible.  

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Pilgrim Teenager: Salt and Light

At our Youth Ministry meetings on Wednesday night we have been studying the Sermon on the Mount.  The last few weeks we talked about being salt and light.  We are not encouraged to be salt and light by Christ we are pronounced to be salt and light by Him!  We are here for the express purpose of bringing a savory, purifying, and winsome message of the light of the gospel to a lost world.  If we say that we are Christians and we are not doing this than we deny the essence of who we are.  

I am reading The Pilgrims of New England  by Annie Webb-Peploe.  It is a very interesting book and fills in many of the gaps that I had about understanding the pilgrims.  

I am particularly struck by young Henrich Maitland and how he became salt and light.  His father had killed an Indian Chief's son in an early skirmish in which the pilgrims were attacked.  Henrich himself was shot in the leg in the skirmish and almost died.  While he recovered he was discipled by Brewster and elder of the pilgrims.  Later her learned Indian ways and the local dialect from another friendly tribe.  The chief sent a party that was finally able to kidnap Henrich.  He was spirited far away from his family and friends and they thought he had died.  His life was spared, but he was all alone among a heathen nation.  Here instead of becoming despondent or amalgamating to the new culture, he evangelized his young companion: the chief's daughter who had begged for his life.  

As he spoke with her day after day about the one true supreme being and His Son, Jesus Christ the savior, she came to know the love and joy of Christ!  In the chapter I am reading now he is evangelizing a new friend!  

All of this for Henrich at the age of maybe 13 or 14 years old!  

While I don't agree with everything in this book, I would highly recommend it from what I have read so far.  These simple pilgrims were faithful people who lived the truth and trained their children to truly walk with God and understand the gospel!  What a missionary adventure!  

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Monday, November 29, 2010

"I Praise You 24/7...and this is how you do me"--Steve Johnson

News flash Steve:  You are getting way better than you deserve.  That breath you are breathing--on loan from God.  That incredible physical talent:  a gift from Christ.  Lack of hell fire surrounding you:  mercy and grace.  

I know it was a hard day, but don't blame God for your dropped pass.  He allowed it to happen.  If you are his then you should realize that he might have much to teach you through this.  (James 1:2-5)  You say that you praise Him--do you praise Him in good and bad? See Job.  

Let us not as sinful creatures who have rebelled against our creator blame God for anything bad that happens.  No, instead let us recognize that He is the all wise, all gracious, all merciful, all just one who chooses to provide salvation in Christ and hope to the sinner who will trust in His Savior as their master.  These slaves of Christ do embrace what their master gives--joyfully!

1 Timothy 1:15–16 (ESV)
15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

John Robinson's Charge to the Pilgrims

As I think about Thanksgiving and the pilgrims, I came across this quote from John Robinson who was the pastor of the separatist/puritan group that chose to send pilgrims to the New World. He was giving the group who was to embark upon the great voyage in the Mayflower and the Speedwell I final charge before they left.
His words are very poignant even now:

“I charge you before God…that you follow me no further than you have seen me follow the Lord Jesus Christ. If God reveals anything to you by any other instrument of His, be as ready to receive it as you were to receive any truth by my ministry, for I am verily persuaded the Lord hath more truth yet to break forth out of His Holy Word. For my part, I cannot sufficiently bewail the condition of those reformed churches which…will go, at present, no further than the instruments of their reformation. The Lutherans cannot be drawn to go beyond what Luther saw; whatever part of His will our God had revealed to Calvin, they will rather die than embrace it; and the Calvinists, you see, stick fast where they were left by that great man of God, who yet saw not all things. This is a misery much to be lamented…I beseech you, remember it, tis an article of your church covenant--that you shall be ready to receive what ever truth shall be made known to you from the word of God."

May we go wherever the Word of God leads us!

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How to Defeat Satan!

Reading "Pilgrims Progress" I came across the fight of Pilgrim and Appolyon (satan). Pilgrim was almost killed by the terrible creature but prevailed by quoting scripture and believing scripture!

"The valiant man by handling sword and shield, doth make him tho' a dragon quit the field"

What encouragement in times of trial and temptation!

God has given us all we need!

Ps. 119:11 Your word have I treasured in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Do you delight in Christ?

God is glorified not only by His glory being seen, but by its being rejoiced in. When those that see it delight in it, God is more glorified than if they only see it. His glory is then received by the whole soul, both by the understanding and the heart. God made the world that He might communicate, and the creature receive, His glory; and that it might [be] received both by the mind and heart.- Jonathan Edwards

Let us rejoice in God and His Works today!

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Unity: Tune to Christ!

This is a great quote on how to be unified in Christ!  

Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become "unity" conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.
- A.W. Tozer

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Walking Worthy

I was challenged this morning as I read from Ephesians 4 to "walk worthy of the calling by which (I) have been called."  That calling is the divine call of God in someone's life to salvation.  I am humbled that God has been planning my salvation in Christ since before the foundation of the world, that He has chosen to adopt me, to buy me back to Himself through the cross of Christ, to bless me with a full inheritance as His Son, to reveal to me the mystery of His will in His Word, to seal me to Himself with His Spirit, He has brought me from death to life, He has graced me with eternal lovingkindness through no works of my own, He has granted me the faith to believe and the grace to be saved, He has made me to be a creature for good works which has has been planning for me from before time, He has joined me together with His church worldwide to be a temple for His Spirit--Christ's body on earth--displaying His glory, He has made His church the display of His manifold wisdom, as I submit to Christ's life displayed in me I become a part of His overflowing love poured out on earth!  (Eph 1-3)

This is the great calling that compels me and all believers to "walk worthy"!  

The first few verses that follow frame up what it means to walk worthy.  

Ephesians 4:1–6 (NASB95
1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 
2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 
3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 
4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 
5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 
6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. 

Our calling should humble us because we can take no credit for who we have become in Christ.  Our calling should soften us toward one another because who are we to think that our rights are any more important than anyone else's.  Our calling should unify us because we are one in Christ and together are to display God's glory to the world as Christ fills us with Himself.  

Let us walk worthy!  

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bless the Lord O my soul!

Encouraging word from C.H. Spurgeon

What multitudes of prayers we have put up from the first moment when we learned to pray. Our first prayer was a prayer for ourselves; we asked that God would have mercy upon us, and blot out our sin. He heard us. But when He had blotted out our sins like a cloud, then we had more prayers for ourselves. We have had to pray for sanctifying grace, for constraining and restraining grace; we have been led to crave for a fresh assurance of faith, for the comfortable application of the promise, for deliverance in the hour of temptation, for help in the time of duty, and for succour in the day of trial. We have been compelled to go to God for our souls, as constant beggars asking for everything. Bear witness, children of God, you have never been able to get anything for your souls elsewhere. All the bread your soul has eaten has come down from heaven, and all the water of which it has drank has flowed from the living rock--Christ Jesus the Lord. Your soul has never grown rich in itself; it has always been a pensioner upon the daily bounty of God; and hence your prayers have ascended to heaven for a range of spiritual mercies all but infinite. Your wants were innumerable, and therefore the supplies have been infinitely great, and your prayers have been as varied as the mercies have been countless. Then have you not cause to say, "I love the Lord, because He hath heard the voice of my supplication"? For as your prayers have been many, so also have been God's answers to them. He has heard you in the day of trouble, has strengthened you, and helped you, even when you dishonoured Him by trembling and doubting at the mercy-seat. Remember this, and let it fill your heart with gratitude to God, who has thus graciously heard your poor weak prayers. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits."- Charles Spurgeon

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Another Gospel

Pew Forum recently came out with the finding of a new survey.  The results are very interesting.  The greatest finding was that most people in general in the USA do not know very much about religion.  The finding that most intrigued me is that, according to their report, most evangelicals do not understand the gospel.  

Fewer than one-in-five people (16%) correctly identify Protestantism as the faith that traditionally teaches that salvation comes through faith alone. Most people get this question wrong: 9% say this teaching is traditionally associated with Catholicism, 38% say it is traditionally associated with both Protestantism and Catholicism, 10% say it is not normally associated with either faith and more than a quarter (27%) say they do not know the answer. White evangelicals (28% correct), Mormons (22%) and atheists/agnostics (22%) perform better than other groups on this question. However, even among these groups, many more people get the answer wrong than get it right.6    

Now this is very ironic because the word evangelical is built from the word evangel which is the greek root word that we often translate "gospel" in the Bible.  If anyone should understand the gospel it should be evangelicals.  Without an understanding that we are saved or justified (made righteous) by faith alone in Christ alone one cannot be a true Christian. 

It makes me think of what Paul said to the Galatians:

Galatians 1 (NASB95)

1 Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), 

2 and all the brethren who are with me, 
To the churches of Galatia: 
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 
4 who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 
5 to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen. 
6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 
7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 
8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 
9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! 
10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. 

If you are confused about this issue and wondering how a person can be saved, please visit the Crossroads Bible Church website and click on "Why Am I Here?".  

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Scientific Explanation for the Parting of the Red Sea?

The study, published today in the online journal PLoS ONE, finds that strong, persistent winds could offer a physical explanation for the event, which was made eternally famous by Charlton Heston in the epic film The Ten Commandments.

The article goes on to explain that scientists have used a computer model to test the theory that a 63 mph east wind sustained for 12 hours could have created a land bridge across the Red Sea.  Also, there have been reports of winds doing similar things for a short time in the past.   

I am fascinated that scientist today are looking for ways to explain the inexplicable.  The Red Sea parting is compelling because it was such a significant historical event that it is hard to deny.  What these scientist miss is that a miracle is a miracle precisely because it cannot be explained away in scientific terms.  God accomplished miracles in the Bible so that people would see that He was and is the only true God.  The parting of the Red sea was such a significant event for Israel because it was the capstone of God showing His power over Egypt, the most powerful kingdom on earth at the time.  The Israelites would "stand still and see the salvation of the Lord."  as the Egyptian army bore down on them to destroy them.  God would provide a way of escape and crush their enemy without them having to lift a finger!  God was fulfilling His promise to Abraham to make him a great nation, to bless those that bless him and curse those that curse him.  He was going to give Abraham's family the promised land.  More importantly he was going to bring about through Abraham's seed the child of promise:  Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.  The passing through the Red Sea signifies for Israel the start to their journey to the promised land.  For those who believe on Christ the miraculous new birth is the start to our journey to God's promised land.  This too cannot be explained scientifically!  

Ken Ham's response given at the end of the article is very appropriate.  

Ken Ham, president and CEO of the Creation Museum, in Petersburg, Ky., needs no scientific explanation: "The parting of the Red Sea was a miracle," he wrote in an e-mail. "It was an extraordinary act of God. Yet, God used a   
force of nature — wind — to bring about this miracle. But there is no need to come up with a naturalistic explanation of a supernatural event."

Let us stand still and see the Salvation of the Lord in our lives.  Let His miraculous power and not inept scientific explanations thrill our hearts!  

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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Burning a Quran is Burning a Bridge for the Gospel

USA Today reports Terry Jones "Pastor" of the Dove Center in Gainesville, FL wants to begin an annual burn a Quaran day on the anniversary of 9/11.   What should Christians think about this?  Since the basic mission of all Christians is to make followers of Christ (Matt. 28:18-20), we need to ask the question:  Does this help us to make more followers of Christ?  Another way of looking at this is to ask "Would the apostle Paul have used this strategy to advance the gospel?"  Dr. Albert Mohler posses this very question.    In this case the muslims are asking us to follow what Christ said "Love Your enemies."  On that point I think that they are right.  Is it loving for individual Christians to publicly burn Qurans in a publicity stunt like this?  Or does it provide an offense that will put up more walls for the gospel and jeopardize humans lives around the world.  I hope that muslims worldwide will be able to tell the difference between Christian behavior and non-Christian behavior.  Don't get me wrong, I am against the teachings of the Quran and I do not believe that it is a Holy book.  The Bible is the one true Holy book given by God that provides the way of salvation and the truth that we need to know for life (John 17:17; 2 Tim. 3:16).  However, our mission as Pastors is to proclaim the Word of God, not to go out an burn what other people consider to be Holy books!  Let us be about the work of the gospel and not be distracted by non-Christian work.  

1 Corinthians 1:23–25 (NASB95)

23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,

24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Grand Design

Stephen Hawking is out with his latest book The Grand Design with Leonard Mlodinow.  He summarizes their thinking in an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled  "Why God Did Not Create the Universe."

Here is a pertinent excerpt of that article:

The emergence of the complex structures capable of supporting intelligent observers seems to be very fragile. The laws of nature form a system that is extremely fine-tuned. What can we make of these coincidences? Luck in the precise form and nature of fundamental physical law is a different kind of luck from the luck we find in environmental factors. It raises the natural question of why it is that way.

Many people would like us to use these coincidences as evidence of the work of God. The idea that the universe was designed to accommodate mankind appears in theologies and mythologies dating from thousands of years ago. In Western culture the Old Testament contains the idea of providential design, but the traditional Christian viewpoint was also greatly influenced by Aristotle, who believed "in an intelligent natural world that functions according to some deliberate design."

That is not the answer of modern science. As recent advances in cosmology suggest, the laws of gravity and quantum theory allow universes to appear spontaneously from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.

Our universe seems to be one of many, each with different laws. That multiverse idea is not a notion invented to account for the miracle of fine tuning. It is a consequence predicted by many theories in modern cosmology. If it is true it reduces the strong anthropic principle to the weak one, putting the fine tunings of physical law on the same footing as the environmental factors, for it means that our cosmic habitat—now the entire observable universe—is just one of many.

Each universe has many possible histories and many possible states. Only a very few would allow creatures like us to exist. Although we are puny and insignificant on the scale of the cosmos, this makes us in a sense the lords of creation. 

Hawking and Mlodinow refuse to accept what is patently obvious:  the complex and intricate design of the universe demands that their was (and is) an intelligent designer.  Their answer--it spontaneously came into being by the genius of nature!  Wow!  Not long ago Hawking was unwilling to acknowledge to talk about a beginning to the universe, but now he is caving to the pressure of explaining how everything could be "fine tuned" for human life the way that it is.  

The Bible tells us why smart men like Hawking and Mlodinow can be so foolish.

Romans 1:18–23 (NASB95)

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,

23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.   

God is not happy with this rebellion against Him.  men like Hawking are heaping wrath upon themselves as they suppress the obvious truth in unrighteousness.  They know in their hearts that this is a God and nature itself is constantly testifying to this fact, yet they refuse to acknowledge Him.  As they suppress truth their brilliant minds become foolish and they end up worshipping man rather than God!  Notice the last phrase of the quote above: "this makes us in a sense the lords of creation."

Their is only one Lord of creation: the designer of the Grand Design:  Jesus Christ!  

John 1:3 (NASB95)

3 All things came into being through Him (Jesus Christ) , and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.   

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Outreach Week

We had a great outreach week in Green Bay and in Howard.  I was very encouraged to see the enthusiasm of the teens who came out and served tirelessly, shared there testimonies, and proclaimed the gospel through puppets and song!  

  Romans 10:14–15 (NASB95)

14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?

15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!”

Thanks to all of you who were involved!

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Idlewild Movie in Park

The movie night is on at Idlewild Park in Suamico. We will be showing "Fireproof" at 8:30pm in the enclosed pavilion. Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device from U.S. Cellular

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Acts 8

I am studying Acts 8 and enjoying watching Acts 1:8 happen!  Believers are witnesses in Jerusalem-Judea-and-Samaria-then later comes the utter most part of the world.  Those of us who embrace Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior know the joy of what it means for the witness of Him to reach us!  

What is this witness:

1.   God is Holy and righteous and created us for His glory to shine with His righteousness.  (Genesis 1)
2.  Man has rejected their creator and has become sinful by nature.  We are in rebellion against God.  We deserve His punishment. (Genesis 3; Rom. 3:10-17;23; Romans 6:23)
3.  God has provided Salvation from sin and God's punishment for sin is in Christ alone.
a.  Jesus is God (John 1:1)
b.  He became a man  (John 1:14; Luke 2)
c.  He is sinless (2 Cor. 5:21)
d. He died to pay for our sin.  (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; Titus 3:5-6)
e.  He rose from the dead and returned to the Father.  God accepted His righteous life and His sacrificial death as a substitute for those who turn to Him.  (Romans 1:4)
4.  If we turn away from our sin and turn in faith to trust in Him (His person and work on the cross) God forgives us and covers us with the righteousness of His Son.  We become His true children.  (John 1:12; Romans 10:9-10;13; Acts 16:31).  We recognize that we could never be good enough for God, but Christ is good enough for Him and we become good in Christ.  (Eph. 2:8-9)
5.   Those who turn to Him embrace a knew master and have a new heart to live for Him.  We look forward to eternal life with Him in the new heavens and earth.  We are witnesses of Him.  (1 John 2:3-6; 2 Cor. 5:17; Acts 1:8; Revelation 21)

Have you responded to the good news of Christ in faith?

Acts 16:31 “...Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”  (NASB)

Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip 
preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Literally Critical

I have been preparing for a teaching on taking scripture literally and the importance of the words of scripture having a single meaning.  I am reminded again how important it is for us to take God's word in its plain and literal sense.  God wants to communicate with us and it is our job to understand what He says through the power of the illumination of the Spirit of God.  (2 Tim 2:15) 

God does not like to be misquoted!

Jeremiah 23:31–39 (NASB95)

31 “Behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the Lord, “who use their tongues and declare, ‘The Lord declares.’

32 “Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams,” declares the Lord, “and related them and led My people astray by their falsehoods and reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit,” declares the Lord.

33 “Now when this people or the prophet or a priest asks you saying, ‘What is the oracle of the Lord?’ then you shall say to them, ‘What oracle?’ The Lord declares, ‘I will abandon you.’

34 “Then as for the prophet or the priest or the people who say, ‘The oracle of the Lord,’ I will bring punishment upon that man and his household.

35 “Thus will each of you say to his neighbor and to his brother, ‘What has the Lord answered?’ or, ‘What has the Lord spoken?’

36 “For you will no longer remember the oracle of the Lord, because every man’s own word will become the oracle, and you have perverted the words of the living God, the Lord of hosts, our God.

37 “Thus you will say to that prophet, ‘What has the Lord answered you?’ and, ‘What has the Lord spoken?’

38 “For if you say, ‘The oracle of the Lord!’ surely thus says the Lord, ‘Because you said this word, “The oracle of the Lord!” I have also sent to you, saying, “You shall not say, ‘The oracle of the Lord!’ ” ’

39 “Therefore behold, I will surely forget you and cast you away from My presence, along with the city which I gave you and your fathers. 

If churches today pervert His word God's also loathes their claim to be proclaiming His word!

May we seek to understand His Word and act upon it!  And may we not twist His word to our own ends.  

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Friday, July 02, 2010

Thoughts for the Lawn Mower

Well, today is my day off and it always goes fast spending time with the family and just getting things done around the house.  The grass is about 6 inches long, so I will soon be on the mower.  This morning I read from 2 Corinthians 3.  Paul was talking about the glory of the new covenant.  I was struck again by the amazing privilege that it is to have the veil of the old testament removed through Christ.  To see the brightness of Christ's glory as the one who fulfilled all of God's promises as Savior and Lord!  When we minister in the confidence of the Spirit of Christ through the word of Christ, the people whose lives are transformed through this ministry are our letter of commendation from the Lord!  As we see Christ face to face in His word we are being transformed to be more like Him, so that we can shine His glory to the world!  Awesome!

2 Corinthians 3:18 (NASB95)

18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Christian Fellowship and Integrity

Had a great meeting with a brother in Christ today.  We talked about Integrity.  It was great to be accountable to one another and encourage one another.  
It has been said that integrity is doing exactly what you say you will do.  R. Kent Hughes defines it this way in his book Disciplines of a Godly Man:  being "righteous and honest through and through."  What a challenge!
When we are people of integrity we shine through with the righteousness that only comes by being filled with the righteousness of Christ Jesus through the Spirit!  This can only happen when we realize that all of our human righteousness amounts to filthiness to God (Is. 64:6), and we embrace Christ who died for us and rose again and has become our righteousness!  (2 Cor. 5:21)

May this be our song regarding integrity:

Psalm 15 (NASB95)  A Psalm of David.

1 O Lord, who may abide in Your tent?

Who may dwell on Your holy hill?

2 He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness,

And speaks truth in his heart.

3 He does not slander with his tongue,

Nor does evil to his neighbor,

Nor takes up a reproach against his friend;

4 In whose eyes a reprobate is despised,

But who honors those who fear the Lord;

He swears to his own hurt and does not change;

5 He does not put out his money at interest,

Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.

He who does these things will never be shaken.   

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Thank God for Vacations!

I am still rejoicing in the great vacation that we had together as a family in Florida.  We saw many sights and caught up with relatives there.  The greatest blessing was just to slow down and celebrate the wonderful marriage and family that God has given to Chrissy and myself.  Something about taking some time off allows us to take stock of what God has given to us.  Hours of unhurried time with my wife and with my kids reminds me of just how precious they are to me.  Chrissy and I celebrated our nine year anniversary and reflected on God blessings in bringing us together.  Micah, Josiah, and Samantha enjoyed many vacation activities, but the highlight was just being together.  What a joy to be able to say yes and yes and yes to swimming and fun together!

We were also able to take stock of the grace and salvation that we have been given in Christ.  What a great Savior!

Psalm 103 (NASB95)

Psalm 103

Praise for the Lord’s Mercies.

A Psalm of David.

1 Bless the Lord, O my soul,

And all that is within me, bless His holy name.

2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,

And forget none of His benefits;

3 Who pardons all your iniquities,

Who heals all your diseases;

4 Who redeems your life from the pit,

Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;

5 Who satisfies your years with good things,

So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

6 The Lord performs righteous deeds

And judgments for all who are oppressed.

7 He made known His ways to Moses,

His acts to the sons of Israel.

8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,

Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.

9 He will not always strive with us,

Nor will He keep His anger forever.

10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,

Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.

12 As far as the east is from the west,

So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

13 Just as a father has compassion on his children,

So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.

14 For He Himself knows our frame;

He is mindful that we are but dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;

As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.

16 When the wind has passed over it, it is no more,

And its place acknowledges it no longer.

17 But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him,

And His righteousness to children’s children,

18 To those who keep His covenant

And remember His precepts to do them.

19 The Lord has established His throne in the heavens,

And His sovereignty rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, you His angels,

Mighty in strength, who perform His word,

Obeying the voice of His word!

21 Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,

You who serve Him, doing His will.

22 Bless the Lord, all you works of His,

In all places of His dominion;

Bless the Lord, O my soul!   

Caleb Azure

Pastor of Student Ministries
Bethel Baptist Church


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Thursday, June 03, 2010

Love Them Well

I am praying for a family in our church who lost a son today--cut down in the prime of life.  My God grant them His all sufficient grace and comfort during this time.  Praying also for a man who lost His brother later in life.  

May we love our loved ones well as they did with gospel love!

Psalm 42:1–11 (NASB95)

1 As the deer pants for the water brooks,

So my soul pants for You, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
When shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my food day and night,
While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.

5 Why are you in despair, O my soul?

And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him
For the help of His presence.
6 O my God, my soul is in despair within me;
Therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan
And the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls;
All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.
8 The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime;
And His song will be with me in the night,
A prayer to the God of my life.

9 I will say to God my rock, “Why have You forgotten me?

Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me,
While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
11 Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God. 

Posted via email from Caleb's posterous

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Thank God for Servants!

I am studying Acts 6 in which the Hellenistic Widows were being ignored in the daily serving of meals.  I am struck by the opportunity to reach out to those of all different culture background, and yet to do this we need an army of servants so that the leaders may devote themselves to the ministry of prayer and the word.  Every believer has gifts that are integral to the body!  The servants must be respectable and led by the spirit.  When it goes well by God's grace look what can happen!

Acts 6:7 (NASB95)
7 The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith. 

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Just read a great chapter in Disciplines of a Godly Man by R. Kent Hughes on Worship.  Reminded that "worship doesn't just happen".  We must have a heart to be expectant and prepared to worship when we come together.  We must prepare our families for the corporate praise of God and we must thoughtful engage in worship in each aspect of the service.  

John 4:24!  

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Christ Centered Worship

I'm reading Bryan Chapell's book Christ Centered Worship. I am only a few chapters in right now, but I am finding the book very helpful and stimulating. How does the entirety of our worship service thoughtfully proclaim the gospel? Churches of the past have spent much time and thought on this. Chapell brings us up to speed!

One thought that jumped out at me in the last chapter is how Luther changed the Liturgy of the Roman church to take the focus off of the Roman priesthood and to include all of the people highlighting the priesthood of all of the believers. For this reason the Pastor did not dismiss the people with the benediction---instead the people sang it together pronouncing a blessing on each other! I like it!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Contemplations From Isaiah

In the book of Isaiah, God was fed up with false religiosity of Israel. They went through the motions of worship, but in their hearts they worshipped idols. They did not truly love God and therefore they did not truly love there neighbors. Instead of being a light to the world, they were a blight to the Lord.

To preserve His glory and their good God had to completely uproot Israel and replant them. They had completely lost sight of His holiness! This is what He reminds them of in Isaiah 6.

Have we lost sight of this exalted view of God? Is God small to us? Are we trying to manipulate Him to achieve our ends, or are we being humbled by His glory and presenting ourselves to Him for His ends?

Is. 6:1-8

1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.
2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.
3 And one called out to another and said,
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts,
The whole earth is full of His glory.”
4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.
5 Then I said,
“Woe is me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs.
7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995 (Is 6:1–8). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

I have been reflecting on these wonderful words of our Lord from Matt. 5:6 for the past couple of hours. What a delight to know that when we realize that we are spiritually bankrupt, and we weep over our condition, and we realize that we must turn away from our own way and embrace God's way, and we truly hunger and thirst for a righteousness that is beyond us (God's righteousness), that He will fill us with His righteousness through Christ!

2 Corinthians 5:21 He made Him to be sin for us Who knew no sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Thank you Jesus for dying for my sin on the cross and for rising up from the grave, so that you could forgive my sin and give me your perfect righteousness! May your righteousness be formed in me and flow out of me! (Phil. 1:9-11)

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Rob Bell Not So Bad

You know as I think back and reflect on Velvet Elvis, I guess it wasn't so bad after all.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Quick thoughts on a Wednesday Morning

1. Healthcare: Saddened by the thought that this healthcare bill will likely bring about more abortions in America and this time may implicate unwilling Americans in the process. May the Lord give us a way our of this implication. Glad that God is still on the throne and that His way is perfect. He is the great Physician! Looking forward to His health care plan when He brings His kingdom to earth!

2. March madness: My bracket is broke, but Michigan State holds hope for a reason to pay attention to this great spectacle!

3. Snow Storm in the east: better them than us! Nice and 50's here today!

4. More healthcare: Going to play some lunch b-ball at the YMCA. Sharing the rock and sharing the ROCK!

Have a great Wednesday!