Friday, January 21, 2011

Stepping Stones to Glory:

Stepping Stones to Glory: January 16, 2011

By Tim Wehse

Read: Hebrews 10:19-25

As you celebrate another Lord's Day, allow me to share with you five important activities for every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. For that matter, the activities mentioned in this passage are of such a nature that we could (and probably should) do each and every Lord's Day. Notice the list in Hebrews 10:19-25.

Activity #1: "let us draw near" (v.22).
Because of what Jesus accomplished through His sufferings and death (v.19-21), believers have access to the holy of holies. Unlike the Jews in the days of the Old Covenant, post-resurrection believers can directly enter the holy ground of heaven through prayer. What a privilege! Do so today!

Activity #2: "hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering" (v.23). In other words, continue to believe the truth of God's Word. In spite of the lies and temptations which abound in our modern culture, trust the never-erring Word of God. Hold it fast, tight. Dispel the doubts as they arrive. Remember, no one has yet to prove the Bible in error (and they never will). Our hopes (the hope of Jesus returning; the hope of eternity with God, etc.) will be realized because God is "faithful" (v.23). Keep believing!

Activity #3: "let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds" (v.24). Like stubborn mules, we all need to be pushed from time to time. I sure do! Each Lord's Day we ought to be finding ways to prod one another to live as Christ. When the Apostle Paul proclaimed that he "lived Christ" (Phil. 1:21), he most certainly had both love and good deeds in mind. Every believer ought to excel in love. We ought to love God and love others passionately. Do you ever need to be challenged to grow in godly love? I do! We also ought to be continually doing that which is good. Do you ever need to be challenged to be others-centered? I do! Let's stimulate one another today.

Activity #4: "not forsaking our own assembling together" (v.25). In the modern vernacular, this means that we should not miss church very much. How can we stimulate one another appropriately if we are often absent from the body? Church is a vital aspect for every Christian. The Bible expects believers to gather regularly for worship and mutual ministry. If you were able, did you attend church this past Sunday? If not, can you attend next week? Don't neglect the assembly. Your soul needs it far more than you can imagine.

Activity #5: "encourage one another" (v.25). We all need it, don't we? Hebrews 3:13 reminds us that sin "hardens" us. Every believer needs to be encouraged in his/her battle with sin. I need it. You need it. Let's do it. Let's be about these five noble activities this coming Lord's Day. Surely we will be blessed if we are!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Stepping Stones to Glory # 2

Stepping Stones to Glory by Tim Wehse

I found the paragraphs below in the introduction of the English Standard Version's The Gospel of John (Crossway Bibles, 2003). Although the information probably is not new to you, it is always good to be reminded of some of the basics to Christianity so that we can do honest self-examination. Furthermore, what better day than the Lord's Day for such an activity?

Once you have received the gift of eternal life, you will want to grow in your knowledge of Him and your obedience to Him. Jesus' teaching about how to live for God can be summed up in three simple instructions.

Read the Bible. Jesus said, "Whoever has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me" (14:21). One way to show our love for God is to read and live out the commands set forth in the Bible, God's holy Word. Read the Bible daily to learn how to live a life that honors God and gives testimony to others that Jesus has made a difference in your life.

Pray. Communication with God through prayer keeps your focus on eternal things. If you are truly following Jesus, your desires will be for God's glory and for His kingdom, the Church. Jesus promised, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you" (15:7).

Seek Christian fellowship. Meeting regularly with Christian brothers and sisters allows you to follow Jesus' example of love and to fulfill His command to "love one another…just as I have loved you" (13:34). Just as Jesus surrounded Himself daily with His disciples and followers, find a Bible-believing church where you can meet with other Christians. There you will find joy and encouragement in the fellowship of God's people.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Anniversary of the King James Bible

2011 Marks the four hundred year anniversary of the King James Bible translation done originally in 1611. Given the plethora of new translations that continue to crowd the Bible Bookstore shelves it is a testament to the splendor of the King James translation to see that it still occupies significant shelf space after all these years.

My first Bible that I studied after becoming a Christian was the King James. Most of the Scripture that I have committed to memory have that familiar King James sound to it. I have given way now to using the New King James on a regular basis but still have a sentimental attachment to the Authorized Version.

For further reading link to this excellent article by Leland Ryken
What Makes the King James Version Great?

1 Corinthians 13:1–13 (KJV 1900)
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

To Do List

What is the first priority on your to do list? Listening to God through His Word? Allowing others to hear God's Word?

“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” ” (Luke 10:38–42, NKJV)

I love “to do lists” whether formal or informal. At various points during the day I may jot down three or four things that I need to get done just on a piece of scrap paper and cross them off as I complete the task. But I also use formal lists as well including the “To Do” list that is included in Microsoft Outlook. Recently a friend of mine introduced me to an online “to do” list called “Toodledo.” This program syncs with my smart phone and email. It sends me an electronic reminder of what I need to do on a daily basis. Well, I love “to do lists” because it helps me prioritize all the things I have to do and at least get some of the tasks done before the day expires.

This morning one of the Scripture selections I read was the account of Martha and Mary’s conflict over the priorities of life found in Luke 10. Evidently Martha had a lot to do. She had to fulfill her responsibilities as a host for the guests in her home. I can empathize with her frustration as she tried to get everything in order and realized that her sister Mary was from her view just sitting down on the job.

What Martha failed to do was prioritize her “to do list.” The household chores were important. Things needed to get done. However, like most of us, Martha would not be able to complete everything on her “to do list” even if her day was extended by a few hours. Instead she should have prioritized the things on her activity list. The top priority should have been listening to God’s Word.

As I was thinking through this text another thought occurred to me. What if Martha really had a hard deadline to fulfill? In other words what if she could not stop and listen to Jesus because the dinner would burn? Should she just leave the guests to themselves and let them go hungry? Perhaps another application for this story is that Martha may have had things to do that had to be done that were time sensitive. She could not stop what she was doing. However, her frustration seems to be that she wanted Mary to stop listening to Jesus and help her. If listening to God’s Word was a priority for Martha it may be that in her particular circumstance that she needed to work so that others can listen.

In our church community we have folks that take the time to serve in the nursery or during children’s church or behind the scenes in the sound room so that others can listen to God’s Word.

This attitude of service may need to extend to other situations from our household to our work place. Listening to God’s Word is a priority.

Sometimes making listening to God's Word a priority is fulfilled by serving so that others may worship.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Stepping Stones to Glory:

Stepping Stones to Glory
by Tim Wehse

Read: Hebrews 4:1-13

Throughout this weekly series, you will be challenged to think deeply on the Lord's Day. Understand that thinking deeply on spiritual things, truths of the Bible, is, without a doubt, a very appropriate activity on this day given to us by God. Surely there is no deeper subject to discuss than that of eternity. The metaphysical questions "What happens after death?" & "Where will I spend eternity?" are very real and important questions which everyone should ask themselves. And so—as begin 2011, allow me to share some thoughts taken from the passage listed above. One truth we find is as follows: "So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God" (Heb. 4:10). In this chapter in Hebrews, the author is exhorting his readers to make sure that they do not miss experiencing the rest and glories of an eternity in heaven with God. He warns them to not "come short of it" (4:1). Quoting from David in the Old Testament, he tells them, "'Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts'" (4:7). The point he is making is crystal clear: only certain individuals will enter the eternal rest of God. The question begging to be asked, of course, is: Who may enter? Who are the "certain individuals"? He tells us. "For we who have believed enter that rest" (4:3). Our weekly celebration of what awaits in heaven is only a dim shadow compared to the endless pleasures which await all believers in heaven.

Another very important question at this point is: What does the author mean by the word "believers"? Believers—according to this author—are those who accept and submit to the truths presented in God's Word. If you were to peruse this great book of Hebrews, you would see that believing also entails coming to the realization of the excellencies of Jesus Christ, and worshiping Him for who He is and for what He has done. Does that include you? Do you believe? It is my intense hope and prayer that you do. As you read God's Word and meditate upon these weekly blogs, "do not harden your heart." Ask God to reveal Himself to you. Ask Him to show you the truth. He loves to answer prayers like that!

"Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience" (4:11). Be diligent. Work hard. Seek God's face with passion in 2011. Believe God's truth. Truth only in Jesus Christ for your entrance into the eternal rest!

A Critique of the Family-Integrated Church Movement

A Critique of the Family-Integrated Church Movement

Brian Borgman

This critique concerns a specific church model which has grown into a movement. The movement’s visible leader is Doug Philips of Vision Forum. This brief critique does not address the various other issues that revolve around Phillips, but simply his structure of family-integrated churches.

Another preliminary point should be made as well. Our church does have Sunday School and various other age-segregated ministries, but we also have the children sit in both morning and afternoon services with their families.

I would personally share the concerns with FIC over the cultural forces which wage war against the family. However, my complaint is that their remedy to the attacks on the family are unbiblical, unhelpful and may be worse than the societal diseases they seek to fight.

1) FIC exalts the nuclear family to an unbiblical place

The nuclear family is seen as central to life and the life of the church. The primacy of the family, family roles, domestic order subtly undermine the truth that the family of Christ is central and primary for the Christian (Mk. 3:31-35; Lk. 11:27-28; 14:26-27).

Although there is much Old and New Testament instruction to the family, it is the spiritual family that supersedes because of loyalty to Christ.

2) FIC redefines the church under the NC as a family of families

Under the Old Covenant, Israel was a family of families, held together by blood lines and circumcision. Under the New Covenant, the Church is the family of God, not a family of families (Gal. 3:28-29; Eph. 2:19-22). In fact, under the New Covenant, nuclear families may be fragmented because of loyalty to Jesus (Matt. 10:34-39).

3) FIC inadvertently excludes or marginalizes singles and others, which is contrary to the principles of Christ's Kingdom (Matt. 19:11-12; 1 Cor. 7:7).

Ask if a single person would feel welcomed as a brother or sister in Christ and a real part of the church family in a FIC.

4) FIC elevate certain principles of liberty or personal conviction to the standard of holiness and/or church polity (homeschooling, no women working outside the home, full quiver, no daughters in college, courtship only), which amounts to legalism. In such a church culture it is very easy for the Gospel not to be the main thing and to communicate to the next generation that being a Christian means you do these things (Mk. 7:13).

My overall evaluation assessment of this movement is not positive. I am aware that there are some churches in the movement which have identified these weaknesses and have sought to address them. Nevertheless, there are subtle inroads the movement makes through Vision Forum and their homeschooling and family-oriented materials. Although much (not all) of Vision Forum’s material is helpful, it promotes a Victorian vision of patriarchy, rather than a biblical one. Many people are exposed to the materials and confuse biblical principles and ethics with those promoted by VF. They are not one and same.

For those families who use VF materials, I would simply caution them to be on guard against an unbiblical exaltation of the family, an unbiblical view of the church, and the subtle elevation of “family-centered” principles to the place of “the teaching of God’s Word.”