Thursday, December 31, 2009

Should the Christian Pray for the Destruction of God's Enemies?

Here was some interesting commentary from the ESV Study Bible regarding imprecatory prayers. There has been a lot of talk about whether a Christian should pray for the destruction of the enemies of God and many quickly scoff at the idea. I mean really, who would really pray for harm to come to those who oppose the gospel?

Psalm 35 with an emphasis on vs. 4-8

"4 Let them be put to shame and dishonor
who seek after my life!
Let them be d turned back and disappointed
who devise evil against me!
5 Let them be like chaff before the wind,
with the angel of the Lord driving them away!
6 Let their way be dark and slippery,
with the angel of the Lord pursuing them!
7 For without cause they hid their net for me;
without cause they dug i a pit for my life.
8 Let destruction come upon him when he does not know it!
And let the net that he hid ensnare him;
let him fall into it—to his destruction!"

ESV Online Study Bible Crossway: Let Them Be Ashamed
The faithful pray that the schemes of the pursuers would fail, and that the pursuers themselves would suffer disappointment and humiliation, and finally destruction. There are many reasons that such a prayer is proper for God's people to pray.
  1. It is realistic; God's protection of the faithful means that he must thwart the schemes of those who would harm them.
  2. It is just, since the pursuers devise evil (v. 4), and without cause they hid their net for me (v. 7). (Observe the repetition of “without cause,” in vv. 7, 19.) Third, it takes God at his word (cf. v. 5 with 1:4).
  3. From all of this it is plain that the prayer is not a vindictive response to personal injury but an appeal based on faith."

Ultimately, the world will scoff at the idea that God will punish sin and all those who practice it...they love evil and hate righteousness. Sadly, even in the church we make a god who is not just and will simply turn a blind eye to evil.

Whether or not we should pray imprecatory prayers is up for debate but one thing is certain-God will bring destruction upon those who are without Christ so it is important that we are preaching the gospel and warning sinners of the wrath that is to come.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hold Fast to the Gospel

With the Christmas season already upon us, many right-wing Christian organizations are already waging war against a secular industry that is attempting to remove Christ from Christmas. While I do find this type of extreme political correctness a bit annoying, what concerns me more is not what's going on in the secular realm but the Christless preaching that many hear from church on Sunday morning.

I vividly remember the "Christian" opposition I received when I expressed this particular concern I had with a popular preacher here in Houston. Over and over I heard "inspiring" messages of how to live a victorious kind of life. One thing was missing though...the gospel. Any mention of repentance, sin, Christ, and the cross was limited to the end-of service 2-minute invitation to say a prayer and ask Jesus into your life. This was after a 30 minute presentation on how to live your best life now. I shared my concern with friend from the congregation but they saw no need to place the gospel at the center of any of the pastor's sermons. In fact, they sarcastically asked how many times does he have to talk about the gospel. We're already Christians, right?
Unfortunately, this wasn't a unique experience. At every church I visited, I heard similar preaching. This was also prevalent at churches that didn't sugar-coat the sermons but steadily exhorted the congregation to do this and do that and live holy. I was told what I should be doing but I was never really explained why I should be doing these things or the fact that Christ has already fullfilled all that God requires on my behalf. I was told the what but never the Who or the why.

So what you have in many churches is a message of moralism. Preaching that focuses on what we do rather than on what Christ has done. Messages centered on our righteousness rather than on Christ's righteousness. The end result produces Christians who work hard merely out of duty or guilt and not out of a love for their Savior. What follows is an attitude that starts comparing other Christians to our standard of obedience or what we're doing. We fall into a mindset that other Christians are not doing enough.

What we don't understand is in light of all that Christ has done, we can never do enough.

The Gospel is not merely, as Michael Horton puts it, the spark that ignites the Christian life via salvation. It is also the fuel that drives faith and practice. Too often I hear well-intentioned Christians exhort new believers to get into a discipleship/accountability program and learn the deeper things of God. They view the gospel and salvation as an event that happened in the past. But what is deeper than the infinite love of Christ that was demonstrated on the cross (1 John 3:1)? And isn't it in the gospel that we now stand? Everything we do from getting up in the morning to laying down at night and everything in between should be motivated by the love that God has shown us through Christ.

The new and old believer's response to Christ's saving work on the cross is one of obedience flowing from a heart of love for their Savior (John 14:15, 23-24). You can't have one without the other. If you remove love, then you have legalism. Remove obedience and you have antinomianism. The true Christian who obeys God's law understands that Christ obeyed all that law perfectly on the his behalf. This is why no discipleship program or twelve-step class can do anything for anyone unless the Gospel is at the center of all things, especially in our Sunday morning services. What He has done for our sake should be our focus and not simply what we should be doing.

I want to write more but I do not want to make my initial post on this topic too long. I'd like to share something from 1 Corinthians 15 that is very important regarding Christ-centered preaching, evangelism, living, etc. and I will do so in my following posts.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4
1Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain.
3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Reformation Day-2009

I wish I could write more about this historic event but as usual, I wait to the last minute to post something. What I will say though is that the faith we proclaim today was passed down to us from great men of faith like John Wycliffe, John Hus, William Tyndale, John Calvin, Martin Luther, and Ulrich Zwingli. And because we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us endure the race set before us and not grow weary as we exalt and proclaim Christ and Him crucified.

Here is a powerful rendition by Steve Green of the great hymn written by Martin Luther.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Is Abortion an Equal Opportunity Killer?

When you think of Hispanics with picket signs, what is the first thing that comes to mind? If you're from Houston and read The Chronicle, your thoughts will quickly turn to immigration. Within recent years, the immigration debate has heated up and many protesters flooded the streets for the sake of immigrant rights.

But their is something else going on within the Hispanic community...something much more serious.

Hispanics are adamant about defending the human rights of those who made it out of Mexico and across the border to America, yet everyday the human rights of 700 Hispanic babies are squashed before they even get a chance to make it out of their mother's womb. Look at these statistics from Abort 73.

AGI (The Guttmacher Institute) tells us that Hispanic women account for 22% of all U.S. abortions, though they make up just 12.5% of the female population. Compare those numbers to non-Hispanic, white women, who make up 62.6% of America's female population(1), but account for only 34% of all U.S. abortions.

The fact is as Hispanics took to the streets of Houston to protest illegal immigration, the largest abortion facility in the western hemisphere was being built in their backyard...6 stories high and 75,000 square feet. Is it then no surprise that the abortion of Hispanic babies is double their percentage of the population? No doubt this is a strategic location motivated by money as Planned Parenthood continues to rake in the cash, $831 million per year on abortion services to be exact. Couple that with their racist roots in which Margaret Sanger desired to "exterminate the Negro population" and you have a recipe for success. By placing one of the largest abortion facilities right near Hispanic and African American neighborhoods, it is obvious that PP continues to prey on minority communities. And this doesn't just happen in Houston.

So the greater tragedy is not that Hispanics are denied the rights of an American citizen but that everyday hundreds of Hispanic babies are denied their rights as a human beings and aborted before they ever had a chance to live. For those who are actively fighting for racial equality, I think it's time we wake up to the somber fact that a large percentage of the Hispanic baby population are being killed in their mother's womb. At least those illegal immigrants had a chance to cross the border, take up a job, and raise a family...whether it be in Mexico or America. Unfortunately 700 Hispanic children per day will never have that chance.

For more information please visit The Subtle Racism of Abortion & If you're pregnant and need assistance click here and contact any of the available websites and phone numbers.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Do You Have the Gift of Evangelisn't?

Christ commanded us to go and preach it and Paul says we should not be ashamed of it. What was the one message Paul defended vehemently, so much so that he pronounced a woe on himself if he did not preach it (1 Corinthians 9:16)? It was the gospel. Why? Because the gospel is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. Without the foolishness of preaching, unbelievers will not hear the good news, and by not hearing it they cannot be saved. Therefore, the proclamation of the gospel was Paul's priority, and it should be of most importance in our lives too.

Yet, there seems to be much confusion over what it means to fulfill the Great Commission. Some say its discipleship while others say it’s about feeding the poor and clothing the naked. I think a simple look at the actual passage can clarify the issue.

Mark 16:15
Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation

GoWhat is God’s will for the Christian’s life? Well it begins here with Jesus commanding us to go.

Into all the worldAnd where has He commanded us to go? Not just into our own neighborhoods and communities but into all the world.

And proclaim
What is it we are to do when we go into the world...we are to proclaim. This means we must open our mouths. Many Christians have obeyed the command to go but are instead going and feeding, picketing, etc. This is all done under the veil of outreach, missions, evangelism, etc.

The gospelWhat are we proclaiming? Jesus tells us it is the gospel. Some are going out and preaching but they are not preaching Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2).

To the whole creation
Who is it we are to proclaim it to? Our family? Friends? Neighbors? Jesus commands us to proclaim the gospel to all creation. We are to be indiscriminate and not pick and choose who we share it with.

In light of this passage, we can clearly see what true evangelism is and we can address some of the popular forms of evangelisn't in the church today.
It is not political activism

  • picket signs, legislation, and calling senators attempts to clean the outside of the cup by modifying the behavior of a society (Matthew 23:25-26)

  • it does not address the sinful nature of human beings

  • society as a whole can only be changed when the power of the gospel through the Holy Spirit regenerates the individual that makes up that particular society

    It is not social activism

  • ministries devoted to taking care of the poor puts an emphasis on the horizontal problems of men (hunger, nakedness, etc.) rather than the vertical problem (sin, wrath, judgment, etc.)

  • without the gospel, it simply makes a man's present life more comfortable but does not prepare him for the afterlife

  • man's greatest need is not food, clothing, money, etc. but forgiveness of sins (Acts 3:6)

    It is not apologetics

  • apologetics, or answering questions to defend the faith, submits to the agenda of the question-asker rather the the agenda of Christ and the Great Commission

  • apologetics can create a rabbit trail or distraction from the priority of sharing the gospel

    It is not praying for souls

  • praying for souls is of extreme importance but it should never be a substitute for obedience to the Great Commision

    It is not church invitation

  • the church represents the fruit of evangelism and not the work itself

  • the church was never meant to be used as a tool to evangelize the lost but to equip believer's to evangelize the lost

  • due to man's sinful condition and impending eternal judgment, the priority is to get him into the kingdom and not the church
    It is not your personal testimony

  • personal testimony is personal and not universal and most unbelievers will like to keep it that way

  • without a clear presentation of the gospel, you are only telling others what the demands and claims of Christ are in your own life

  • it ultimately puts you, and not Christ, at the center of your witnessing (2 Corinthians 4:5)

    It is not discipleship

  • to disciple someone, one must become a disciple first by hearing the gospel

  • if we confuse discipleship with evangelism, we make the error of discipling goats

  • only those illuminated by the Spirit can discern the things of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10-16)

    It is not telling people, "Jesus loves you."

  • people must first understand the bad news if they are ever to grasp the good news

  • there is much more to the gospel than the love of Christ such as sin, law, wrath, judgment (Acts 20:27)

    It is not about results or decision

  • we are ambassadors for Christ whom simply deliver the message that has been entrusted to us...a message that must not be tampered with based on it's reception (2Corinthians 5:20)

  • emphasis in evangelism should not be on numbers but on faithfulness to share the gospel

  • while we may plant or water the seed of the gospel, it is only God that can give it growth (1 Corinthians 3:7)

    “To evangelize is to declare on the authority of God what he has done to save sinners, to warn men of their lost condition, to direct them to repent, and to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ."
    -John Cheesman

    So whether we feed the hungry or clothe the naked, we must open our mouths and declare the message that God has entrusted to us and fulfill the call to go into the world and preach the gospel to all creation.


    It is the gospel alone that can take a wretched and dead sinner and give him life. It is the gospel alone that can gives sight to the blind and unstops the ears of the deaf. It is the gospel alone that sets the captives free from their bondage to sin and Satan. And it is the gospel alone that can take a sin-loving, God-hating, rebellious sinner that longs to glorify himself and make him a sin-hating, God-loving Christ follower that longs to obey and glorify God.

    All these other methods do not have the power to save sinners but that is precisely how Christ will be exalted and God will be glorified!

    So if you’re a Christian and you are concerned about God’s glory and the salvation of sinners, will you go out and declare the good news to all of creation? Or have you been duped into thinking that you have the gift of evangelisn’t?
  • Monday, August 31, 2009

    Tears of the Saints

    Are you going? And if you're going, are you preaching? And if you're preaching, are you preaching the Gospel?

    Tuesday, August 18, 2009

    Tips for Evangelism

    Here are some practical tips I compiled as I was out witnessing on the streets of Houston. In the end, however, the most practical advice anyone can heed in regards to the work of the ministry was given by Spurgeon when he said,

    "Brethren, do something; do something, do something!"

    1. The chief end of evangelism is not to save souls but to glorify God. Evangelism is, first and foremost, about God and then souls (1 Corinthians 10:31; 1 Peter 4:11).

    2. Successful evangelism is not when a “decision” for Christ has been made but when Christ and Him crucified is preached, as presented in the bible (John 1:12, 13; 1 Corinthians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 4:1-6).

    3. The power of the Gospel is not dependent on any human work. Genuine conversion does not rely on our eloquent words but on the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:4).

    4. Know the gospel and why you believe what you believe, especially the essentials of the Christian faith (1 Timothy 4:7; 2 Timothy 2:15; 2 John 9).

    5. Wherever and whenever you go, always be intentional about evangelism. Whether at the gas station or the grocery store, opportunities to share our faith are always around us (Mark 16:15).

    6. Our evangelism must always be gospel-centered. While apologetics has its place, speak clearly regarding law and grace and always bring the conversation back to the Gospel (1 Corinthians 1:23; 1 Corinthians 2:2; Galatians 6:14).

    7. A tesimony is a good springboard but it is not the Gospel. A testimony is personal while the Gospel is universal (John 3:16).

    8. Avoid foolish arguments and religious disputes. Evangelism is not about winning an argument by our eloquent speech or wise and persuasive words. We are ambassadors for Christ imploring people on behalf of Christ and this is done by presenting Christ to sinners (2 Corinthians 5:20; 2Timothy 2:23-25; Titus 3:9).

    9. Speak clearly on the basic issues using biblical language. Our words should be seasoned with salt and not sugar! That means use words like sin and not mistakes, hell and not eternal separation (Colossians 4:6, 1 Peter 4:10-12).

    10. Stay away from Christian clichés such as, “Ask Jesus into your heart", "God loves the sinner and hates the sin", etc. (1 Timothy 4:7).

    11. Avoid the use of relative language such as, “In my opinion, I believe or I think" (Galatians 1:11-12).

    12. Stand under the authority of God’s word. If God or Jesus said it then make sure you let people know (2 Corinthians 5:20).

    13. Watch your hand gestures. Avoid pointing your finger or keeping your hands in your pocket. Our words can sometimes be overshadowed by our body language.

    14. Memorize and understand scripture in its context. Through the Holy Spirit, it is the word that works regeneration(Psalm 119:11; Hebrews 4:12).

    15. Continue to learn and grow in the Gospel. Along with preaching to others, preach the Gospel to yourself everyday (1 Corinthians 15:1, 3-4; 1 Peter 1:12-13).

    16. Always speak kindly and lovingly. Remember who we are: fellow sinners saved by God’s grace (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Colossians 3:12; Titus 3:3).

    17. Show sympathy and compassion to those whom may be suffering but always remember that man’s greatest need is to have their sins forgiven (Matthew 9:36; Romans 3:23).

    18. Have resources available to hand out such as tracts, bibles, etc. Always be ready for a witness encounter.

    19. Continue in prayer (Luke 18:1; James 5:13-18). Prayer acknowledges our evangelism efforts are futile apart from God.

    20. Always remind yourself that we love others because God first loved us. The compassion God has poured out on us should consume our hearts and motivate us to be compassionate towards the lost (Psalm 103:13; Luke 10:27; Luke 11:42; 1 Corinthians 5:14).

    Friday, July 24, 2009

    Discover the Champion Wretch in You

    As time passes, I look back at my life since I professed to be a Christian and feel convicted that I never held up what I was taught in "church" to the Bible. I simply believed what I heard because I liked what I heard. I thought the test of truth was how it made me feel and I really didn't think too much about the importance of pure doctrine (1 Timothy 6:2b-5). With that said, here are a few important doctrinal stances that have changed since my days at Lakewood Church to my present membership at Founder's Baptist Church.

    On a side note, I served at Lakewood for about 2 years and by God’s grace, He saved me and consequently, I left the church.

    So I’m writing from the perspective of an unregenerate sinner who faithfully served and sat under the teaching of Joel Osteen. Many of the promises of God that Joel preaches every week are detached from the Gospel. This is a dangerous error and it's subtlety is deceptive since Joel is good at taking profound gospel promises and reducing it down to a catchy cliche for anyone to claim...including the lost sinner.

    • Joel told me to, “Discover the champion in you.”
    • The Bible says there is no "champion" in me...all that is within me is evil and impure (Jeremiah 17:9; Mark 7:14-22).

    • Joel said that God had a good plan for me and that plan was to live a life of pleasure and happiness.
    • While God's purposes are for the good of His people, the Bible says that His plan is ultimately so that His own pleasure and will are fulfilled. (Philippians 2:13).

    • Joel told me that all I need to do to be saved is stand up and say a 60-second prayer.
    • The Bible says in order to see and enter the kingdom, I must be born again (John 3:3-5).

    • Joel said I had a right to victory and prosperity in all areas of my life.
    • The Bible says because of my sinful heart, I am worthy of death and hell...all the rights belong to God and not me (Isaiah 64:6; Mark 1:7; Luke 15:19; Luke 17:10, Romans 3:9-12, 6:23).

    • Joel said that if I set my mind on the right things and started speaking positive words over my life, I will start to produce a change in my life.
    • The Bible says I cannot change myself because I was a slave to sin and under the power of Satan (Romans 6:16, 8:8; Corinthians 4:4). I needed a new heart…not a new lifestyle. (Ezekiel 11:19).

    • Joel told me that Jesus paid the price on the cross to free me from mistakes, bad habits, poverty, and a life of defeat.
    • The Bible says Jesus paid the price to set me free from the power of sin and Satan (Romans 6:22, 8:2; Acts 26:18)!

    • Joel (and Israel Houghton) sang “I am a friend of God” and told me that God calls me friend.
    • The Bible says that I was an enemy of God because of my evil and wicked works (Ephesians 2:12, Colossians 1:21). Only through Christ am I reconciled.

    • Joel told me that God wanted to prosper me in all areas of my finances.
    • The Bible says that because I transgressed His law, I accumulated an infinite debt to God (Colossians 2:14).

    • Joel says that God intended for me to live my best life now.
    • The Bible says God intends for me to live my best life later…in heaven (Ephesians 1:3; Hebrews 11:16.

    Lakewood members (I was one of them) claim that Joel is being loving and kind because he builds people up rather than tearing them down. But by refusing to tell me that I was a sinner in desperate need of a Savior, he caused me more harm than good. By highly exalting a view of man, he was lowering my view of Christ. I figured I had what it takes so why did I need a Savior? Sure, I responded to the altar call and said my prayer but I never saw the wickedness of my sin and, therefore, I never saw the need to submit myself to the cross of Christ. I professed to live for Him but in actuality, I was living for myself and living in sin.

    You see, Joel’s entire premise that we all have a champion inside of us and it’s up to us to reach our full potential completely undermines the need of Christ. The more I sat and listened to Joel claim that I’m a “victor and not a victim”, the less I felt the need to pray, read my Bible, and cling to Christ to strengthen me. Why would I? All I needed to do was change my thoughts, speech, and habits and I was on the path to victory. But before Joel should have ever told me to “discover the champion in me” he should have told me to discover the wretch in me! And by doing so, I would have understood why Christ had to die.

    Other's claim that he's called to preach a message of God's love but in reality, Joel is not preaching the love of God. It is a perversion of love that tells me that if I walk around with a smile on my face and do good to everyone, God will bless me. That's not good news! The Good News it that despite my sin and the wrong I've done, God demonstrated His love by sending Christ to die for me (Romans 5:8). And now, it is in Christ that we receive all the spiritual blessings in heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3).

    So, what do you do if you have a friend or family at Lakewood and you are questioning their salvation? Use the law of God to show them that they are not champions but failures according to the standards of God's righteousness. This is how God opened my eyes to the sinfulness of my sin (Romans 3:20, 7:13). My pride was puffed up because I thought I was good enough to go to heaven but the commandments destroyed any self-righteousness that was sown into my heart by Joel's positive gospel.

    Only then can one truly understand the love of Christ and be ready to show them from Scripture that this is love-now that we have obeyed and loved God but that he has loved us by sending His Son to die for sinners (1 John 4:10). While their hearts may seem hardened to anything that opposes what Joel teaches, pray and trust that it is God who will open their eyes to their true condition and open their hearts to embrace Christ. For many years I was deceived and I heard many objections to Lakewood's teaching but, by Gods grace, it was when Ray Comfort sent me a copy of The Way of The Master did I really understand the way of salvation through Christ. Ray emphasized the law and it's terrors which generated a conflict within my heart. Joel was in one ear whispering I was more than a champion and God's law was in the other ear shouting that I was a wretched sinner. This is the dilemma that all members at Lakewood face. If they believe what the commandments of God say about the nature of human beings, then all of what Joel teaches is a lie...even more horrifying is the thought that they may not be saved.

    But it was in that brokenness that God found me and saved me. When God opened my eyes to see what a great sinner I was, I then saw what a great and merciful God He is (Luke 7:47; Romans 5:20). Life was no longer about me and all the great things I was or did but about God and the great love He demonstrated towards sinners on the cross.

    So no matter what church you attend or if you don't attend church at all, please examine yourself in the light of God's commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). The law exposes us for who we really are, sinners and not champions...and it's sinners, not champions, that need a Savior (Mark 2:17).

    Friday, May 15, 2009

    Professional Worship?

    The following is an excerpt taken an upcoming "worship" conference website featuring Israel Houghton and other "highly sought after industry professionals" from around the world that are meeting in Houston, TX this September.

    Each day opens with our general session where Israel Houghton, the New Breed team and various special guests take us to a new place in worship daily. The afternoon sessions are broken up into continuing education workshops taught in part by Israel Houghton and highly sought after industry professionals in each field of expertise. Workshops include songwriting sessions, how to increase your vocal range, easy music theory, production and sound reinforcements, the visual worship experience and sessions specifically focused on women in worship just to name a few.

    Now tell me...what is missing from the workshops? Keep in mind that the purpose of the conference is to "press into God as He ignites us with deeper purpose and restores, refines and renews vision for our lives to rise with power and shine before the world."

    Wednesday, April 29, 2009

    Wearisome Worship

    So I flipped on the television last night and thought I’d look for some entertainment so I turned it to TBN and “Praise the Lord” was on. After hearing a horrible gospel presentation by one of the Winans, the camera turns to a worship leader. He goes into a song titled, “I Need You Lord” and so it starts,

    "I need you, Lord!"

    Two minutes pass,

    "I need you, Lord!"

    Then the National Broadcast Service interrupts the song to announce some flood warnings in and around Houston. The broadcaster gives a two to three minute announcement and then cuts back into the show.

    Well, guess what's coming out of the worship leader's mouth? That’s right…he’s singing the exact same thing,

    “I Need You, Lord!”

    Add a few more repetitions and the song ends.

    Doesn’t most of what you hear on your local family Christian radio station sound very similar? Just add a bunch of cool guys with cool haircuts jumping around and making cool sound effects on their guitars and you have yourself a worship band.

    I’m not sure when everything changed but if you go back hundreds of years to the hymns, you’ll find something completely different. Writers like Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, and John Newton wrote beautiful worship gems that were lyrically rich and full of biblical truth. God was exalted and Christ was proclaimed. It wasn’t the awesome guitar solo, trendy worship leader, or dimly lit lights that stirred one's heart to worship.

    These elements seem to be the priority in most modern churches. Add this all up and contemporary Christian music tends to make our emotions the primary focus of our worship...God Himself, as revealed in the bible, gets pushed aside and what we feel, think, and experience about God become the center of our worship.

    But true worship is when we set our hearts and minds upon the one true and living God and give him all due praise…not just a few simple lines repeated over and over and over again(I just counted 33 lines of a repeated phrase in one song). God, being God, deserves much, much, much more...afterall, He is holy, holy, holy.

    Wednesday, April 22, 2009

    Whose Right(eousness)?

    If you have driven around Houston, particularly Montrose, I'm sure you've seen the coexist bumper sticker representing all the major world religions. We live in a plurastic society that promotes the acceptance of all religions and because of this freedom, Christians will most certainly find themselves in conversations with people of many faiths. This means being prepared when we do have these encounters and while it is important to learn the basics of other religions/cults, the question arises as to how much time should we spend in nonbiblical texts if we ourselves do not know the gospel of our precious Savior.

    What are we comparing a false religion to if we do not know the true religion of the Bible?

    I also want to add what a good friend of mine pointed out regarding the numerous religions in the world: Christianity sets itself apart in that salvation is about what God does and not about what we do. The Bible says we are not the center of salvation, God is. study and learn what other religions teach about salvation and man but do not let it neglect the gospel and reading of the scriptures. Rather than spending so much time in other texts, the Bible tells us, in a very simple and forthright way, what can be known about all other religions:

    Romans 10:3-4
    3For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

    So the question Christians should have for Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, and anyone else that is not trusting in Christ is, "Whose righteousness are you seeking to establish - the righteousness of God, which is in Christ, or your own?" While each religion differ in many ways, this is the root of all the differences and what makes Christianity unique.

    And ultimately the Bible says people will not submit to Christ simply because they wish to establish a self-righteous gospel that puts man, and not God, at the center of salvation. But we know that even the righteousness of man is not good enough to get us into heaven (Isaiah 64:5). This is what Paul was telling the Jews in Romans 10:3. The Jews were deceived by thinking they had what it takes to make it to heaven...they were ignorant of God's righteous standards, which is perfection (Matthew 5:48; Hebrews 7:11). This is why we must trust in the righteousness of Christ, and Christ alone.

    So when all the religions have had their say, the question of "who's right" hinges on the more important question of whose righteousness will you trust in, yours or Christ?

    Friday, April 3, 2009

    My having been His murderer!

    Charles Spurgeon

    "A great multitude of the people followed Him, including women who mourned and wailed for Him." Luke 23:27

    Amid the rabble crowd which hounded the Redeemer to His doom, there were some gracious souls whose bitter anguish sought vent in wailing and lamentations--fit music to accompany that march of woe!

    When my soul can, in imagination, see the Savior bearing His cross to Calvary--she joins the godly women, and weeps with them. They bewailed. . .


    But my heart has a deeper and more bitter cause to mourn: MY SINS were the scourges which lacerated those blessed shoulders! MY SINS were the thorns which crowned that bleeding brow! MY SINS cried, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" and laid the cruel cross upon His gracious shoulders! His being led forth to die, is sorrow enough for one eternity--but MY having been His murderer--is more, infinitely more grief, than one poor fountain of tears can express! Those women who loved and wept--could not have had greater reasons for love and grief--than my heart has!

    The widow of Nain saw her son restored--but I myself have been raised to newness of life!

    Peter's mother-in-law was cured of the fever--but I myself have been cured of the plague of sin!

    Mary Magdalene had seven devils cast out of her--but a whole legion of devils were cast out of me!

    Mary and Martha were favored with visits from Jesus--but He dwells with me!

    I am not behind these holy women in debt to Jesus--let me not be behind them, in gratitude or sorrow.

    "Love and grief my heart dividing,
    With my tears His feet I'll lave;
    Constant still in heart abiding,
    Weep for Him who died to save!"

    Grace Gems (choice ELECTRONIC books, sermons & quotes)
    Grace Audio Treasures (choice AUDIO sermons)
    Sovereign Grace Treasures (choice PRINTED books)

    Tuesday, March 24, 2009

    Not Ashamed of the Gospel

    Romans 1:16
    For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

    This is what looks is like to not be ashamed of the gospel.

    This past weekend, 60-plus youths got together for an evangelism boot camp and took the gospel to the streets of Houston, TX. There were no pews; no fancy church buildings and altars; no professional bands to back them up…only a group of teenagers that understood the command of our God our Savior to go and preach the gospel to the whole of creation.

    It turned out to be a great weekend. We were able to proclaim the truth to hundreds of Houstonians through gospel tracts, one-on-one witnessing, and open-air-preaching. There were some that received it with joy and other that received it with anger but we rejoice that the gospel was preached for we know that it is the power of God for salvation.

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009

    More Than Conquerors (Romans 8:37)

    Whether it’s the local mega church prosperity pastor promising that we can overcome any obstacles in life or a head coach of a football team boasting that his players will defeat their rivals, we often hear Romans 8:37 contextualized to fit modern day America. Do a quick search of this text on Google and you'll see ministries and churches slapping the first half of the verse on their URL or church building with the second half out, "...through Him who loved us." I think this sums up our poor use of this popular passage.

    But let me take you back to the days when Paul wrote this letter. What were his intentions when he told the church in Rome that we are “more than conquerors?”

    Here were these precious Romans that came to faith in Jesus Christ. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul knew that his readers would eventually face a horrible and painful death under the oppressive arm of the Emperor Nero. Many would burn at the stake or be mangled and torn to pieces by lions because of their confession of faith.

    So what did Paul do? He encouraged his readers that God loved them with an eternal love. And because of this eternal love, their salvation is secure. Although they were to face some of the hardest circumstances a Christian can face, nothing would be able to sever the love that God has towards them. Why? Because it was God who, before the foundations of the world, chose in His sovereignty to graciously work out a divine plan of salvation for His children that would ultimately bring us into His glory. God, being the author and perfector of this divine plan, will not change His mind (Romans 8:29-30). This is why at the end of verse 30, Paul speaks of the believer already glorified (past tense).

    And then in verse 31 he asks, “What then shall we say to these things?” In other words, what should be our response in the midst of suffering and in light of the everlasting and unbreakable love that God shows toward us? He then lays out his response and conclusion that despite the opposition we may receive from Satan and the world, we will be able to endure only because God is for us. We were once alienated and enemies of God as seen in Romans 1 but now he has justified us and reconciled us to Himself through the demonstration of His love on the cross. It is within this conclusion that Paul says,

    “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

    Notice how Paul says “in all these things” and think back to the list of “things” he wrote of in verse 35...the tribulation (outward opposition), distress (inward opposition), persecution (opposition from enemies of the gospel), famine (being utterly deprived), nakedness (poor and destitute), danger (peril), and finally, the sword (death). So in these things, and not in spite of these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. And all these sufferings are nothing new to those who have faith in God. Ever since the time of David, God’s people have been led like sheep to the slaughter…and all for His sake (Romans 8:36).

    Now compare Paul’s list to the list of the prosperity preacher or football coach…more than conquerors in our finances or at our jobs or more than conquerors in regards to next Sunday’s match-up. We turn this verse into a motivational cliché and use it like fortune cookie theology. Forget suffering and overcoming for His sake, it’s all about conquering petty circumstances for my sake. Tell that to our Christian brothers and sisters who are facing extreme persecution in Korea, China, and all the other countries where it is illegal to worship Christ.

    American or not, there is no justification for the twisting of Scripture. When prosperity teachers, and any preachers for that matter, abuse this particular passage, they rob God of His glory in salvation and consequently rob the congregation from realizing this wonderful truth of God’s saving and loving nature. And the truth being that because God, who is the author and perfecter of our faith, loved us with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3, Philippians 1:6, Hebrews 12:12). And it is through this eternal love that while our faith is in the midst of trial and tribulation, we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus.

    Thursday, March 5, 2009

    The Gospel According to 2Pac

    I came across a website for a young adult service that meets to discuss the bible in a q&a session. I was immediately drawn to a statement on their home page.

    ‘“God ain’t mad at ya” The biggest myth we help people come into realization is just that, God is not mad at you, nor is He turning His back on you because of poor choices. The fact is where sin increased; God’s grace increased all the more, Romans 5:20 (NIV).’

    Immediately I thought of Psalm 5:5 where the Psalmist says that “God hates workers of iniquity.”

    Several questions popped into my head regarding the pastor’s theology so I sent him an email and questioned him on his belief that God is not angry with the wicked, as well as his use of Romans 5:20 to support this view. There are a few ministries here in Houston that use this same theme to reach the lost. Just check out

    I received a lengthy (3 pages) response as the pastor attempted to lay out his position. While I found numerous disagreements on his poor use of Scripture as well as his stance on certain attributes of God, it wasn’t until the his last paragraph that I saw the foundation of his loose and low view of God and His word.

    According to every Christian publication plus News Week, this generation only has 14%-17% believers in Jesus and the bible as the infallible truth of God. My generation is 35% and my parent’s generation, the WWII people was 85%. It does not take a rocket scientist to realize if the Church as a whole does not change its ways of confrontation Christianity and begin to teach the grace of God instead of pointing out the speck in our brother’s eye, the church as we know it is close to an end.

    So his entire theology is not driven by the truth laid out in God’s word, but by the results of obscure surveys done by secular and Christian publications. His bad theology is just another fruit of the seeker-sensitive movement that considers more of what the public says, rather than what God says.

    According to the pastor, it may be the end of the Church as we know it…at least that’s what the surveys suggest. So what does this cause him to do? Water down the truth and make an image of God that is more palatable to his audience so that they won’t be turned. This is a dangerous mindset that leads to all sorts of false teachings and unbiblical methods of reaching the lost.

    We do not tamper with God‘s word simply because we aren‘t getting the results we want. (2 Corinthians 4:1-2). We are not co-authors but ambassadors for Christ who make an appeal on behalf of Christ…not on behalf of what the public wants, regardless if people are being turned off by the truth or not (2 Corinthians 5:20).

    When we do make a decision to change and tweak the gospel for the sake of results, it reveals a few things:
    1. We are not trusting in the sovereignty of God and His plan for salvation. We know that if our message is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing (2 Corinthians 4:3). Who are we to try to convince someone of truth by watering-down the truth and not making it truth after all? It is up to God to give them eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to understand (John 1:12-13, Acts 16:14).

    2. We are in danger of preaching another gospel, which is no gospel at all! Some of Paul’s serious warnings were against those who were preaching a different gospel(Galatians 1:6-9). Rather than distorting the message to receive the approval of men, we must always remember that the gospel was not taught to us by men but received through a revelation of Jesus Christ from the Holy Spirit. If it’s anyone’s approval we desire, it should be God’s (Galatians 1:10-12).
    3. Our sufficiency is found in statistics, surveys, and man-made methods rather than the Scriptures. When results become our final authority on whether or not our message is effective and true, we undermine God’s word and let the whims and opinions of carnal human beings be our guide.
    In the end, we know that as stewards of God’s truth, successful evangelism does not hinge on the hearer’s response. We know that without the ordinance of God, men will not respond to the gospel. We are the givers of truth and God is the giver of faith so successful evangelism is when we preach the biblical gospel in season and out of season in hopes that God will bring sinners to their senses and grant them repentance (2 Timothy 2:25-26, 2 Timothy 4:2).

    So then what do we do if people are turned off? We preach the gospel. What do we do if it is received well? We preach the gospel. Why? Because we are not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16)!

    Wednesday, February 25, 2009

    The Abundant Life (John 10:10)

    John 10:10
    The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

    This verse of Scripture is frequently cited by televangelists and popular preachers to support their view that a Christian should be living a life of prosperity and bountiful blessings from God...including health and material wealth.

    But is Jesus merely referring to an abundant life full of material blessings?

    In order to understand this particular verse, we must understand the context.

    In the chapter preceding John 10:10 , Jesus, speaking to the same people, tells of the false shepherds (the Pharisees and prior spiritual leaders of Israel) who maligned and misused God’s word and thus were unable to see Jesus as the true Messiah (John 9:39-41).

    In chapter 10, Jesus is using a theme of the sheep and shepherd. Though many thieves and robbers come to kill, steal, and destroy the sheep (John 10:1, 10), Christ came to give life and keep the sheep from destruction. This is why Jesus declares Himself to be the “Good Shepherd” who lays down his life for the sake of the sheep (John 10:11). And only through Him, will the sheep find pasture (John 10:7, 9). While other false teachers come with selfish intentions (Ezekiel 34:2-4) and could care less about God’s people, Christ gave His life for His sheep as a substitutionary atonement for sinners on the cross.

    Nowhere in this context does this verse speak of an extended physical life or a life full of material blessings. The abundant life comes when Christ saves us, protects us, feeds us with His word and ultimately leads us into our full salvation. Christ did not lay His life down to simply give us our best life now…the price He paid was to give us something much more valuable, knowledge of the only true God (John 18:3). Simply viewing this Scripture in a shallow way that leads to a better life demeans this eternal purpose that Christ had in mind when he laid down His life for His sheep.

    Friday, February 6, 2009

    Cruel Logic

    Here is a short film worth watching. Ideas have consequences indeed.

    Friday, January 30, 2009

    The Top 8 Most Misinterpreted Scriptures

    I stumbled across an article on Yahoo in which the writer took the reader through 8 commonly misinterpreted songs. She explained that many of us mistakenly bring our own personal experiences into the lyrics of a song and consequently twist the author's intended meaning.

    This reminded me of how we sometimes interpret the Scriptures. We approach the Bible with a subjective and “what does it mean to me” mindset that makes the Scriptures susceptible to misinterpretation. Rather then examining the data and coming to a conclusion and applying the verse appropriately, we bring our own experiences and conclusions into the text.

    Understanding what the text is saying and what the author intended it to say is key in interpreting Scripture. Part of this is knowing a verse's context in its literary form. As we read, we should as ourselves, "Why is this particular passage located in a particular book? What is the context of this passage in light of the entire book?"

    We must also consider the historical form of a passage, which includes geography, economy, climate, agriculture, architecture, family life, morals, and social structure of the writers, characters, and readers.

    Also take into consideration the Bible's uniqueness; 66 books were written over a 1,500-year-span containing poetry, songs, historical narratives and everything in between…written by more than 40 authors ranging from judges, kings, herdsmen, and fishermen…we’re not dealing with any ordinary book but the word of truth from God Himself. My point is if we desire to read and understand the Bible for ourselves, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we must approach the Scriptures carefully and rightly handle this word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

    Furthermore, the misinterpretation of Scripture can lead to all varieties of false teaching and heresy. Just turn on your television and watch any televangelist preaching and you’ll see what I mean.

    With that said, I’ll be posting, in more detail, the top 8 most misinterpreted Scriptures in Christianity today (no pun intended) in the days to come. Usually when one verse of the Bible becomes popular, it typically gets taken out of context and stripped of its original meaning. You'll see it postedon calendars, mugs, and everything in between that you can find at your local Christian trinket shop. Hopefully my subsequent posts will bring some light to these verses.

    And here is my list.

    8. John 10:10
    The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

    7. Romans 8:37
    No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

    6. Revelation 3:16
    So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of
    my mouth.

    5. Psalm 37:4
    Delight yourself in the LORD,and he will give you the desires of your heart

    4. Revelation 3:20
    Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

    3. Jeremiah 29:11
    For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

    2. Romans 8:28
    And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

    1. Philippians 4:13
    I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

    What about you? Do you have any to add?

    *UPDATE: I know I haven't followed through on this post but I will dedicate more posts to each individual verse.

    Wednesday, January 28, 2009

    Thursday, January 15, 2009

    KSBJ's 30 Day Gospel

    Adding to the 40-days-to-do-this and 30-days-to-do-that hype, KSBJ is promoting a new
    "30 Day Challenge" which promises to fill the listener’s heart and mind with “nothing but good things” in hopes that it will “change your life for Good”.You can read it for yourself:

    We’re so excited that you’re starting 2009 with us, and the 30-Day Challenge. All last month, we were encouraging you to take "The Challenge" to change your listening habits, and spend the first 30-days of 2009 listening to KSBJ.

    People who’ve done this before tell us (like any new habit) it’s difficult at first, but that they see results.

    They’re less stressed, more peaceful; able to look beyond the little frustrations that used to bug them, and see God, where they’d never seen Him before.KSBJ is a voice of hope, on what sometimes seem like some very hopeless days. The music about God and His love for you, reminds us of the things in life that really matter, and according to others who’ve taken the 30-day challenge, begins to change them, for good.So, if you’re new to KSBJ – Welcome, and keep listening.

    If we can answer any questions for you, don’t hesitate to ask. We want to be your voice of hope, connecting you to God.

    Giving KSBJ the benefit of the doubt and seeing through the seeker sensitive jargon, it seems as if the Christian radio station is taking advantage of the new year by sharing a gospel. Here’s the problem though…after listening to KSBJ for 4 years (let alone 30 days), I cannot say that I have ever heard any gospel preached…let alone the biblical gospel.

    And even when KSBJ superficially talks about God, they make no mention of sin, righteousness, and judgment and by leaving these attributes out of their conception of God, they consequently dismiss the Holy Spirit from having anything to do with their ministry (John 16:8). And without the Holy Spirit, men cannot come to Christ (John 3:3).

    Furthermore, KSBJ preaches a moralistic and life-enhancement gospel in hopes that new listeners will change their bad habits but the bible does not teach a gospel that merely changes someone’s habits. Christ came to this earth for the chief purpose to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). The problem is not that we need to outwardly change our life (moralism) but we need God to inwardly change our hearts, because by nature, we are corrupt human beings (Psalm 53:1, Jeremiah 17:9, Mark 7:21-23). And because we have all become corrupt from the core, God does not call us to change our bad habits but to repent of our sins (Acts 17:30).

    And despite the bible's testimony, here’s their explanation as to why so many people fail in their efforts to achieve their New Year resolution.

    • Recent research shows that while 52% of participants in a Resolution study were confident of success with their New Year's resolutions, only 12% actually achieved their goals.
    • Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting, a system where small measurable goals are used, while women succeeded 10% more when they made their New Year's Resolution public and got support from their friends

    Rather than looking to recent research, if KSBJ would open their bible they would recognize that even if we wanted to change, we are in bondage to our sinful desires and, therefore, will not and cannot change (Jeremiah 13:23). Without the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, men will desire nothing good or “Good” for that matter (Romans 3:10-18).

    If KSBJ wants to give people hope, they must first proclaim that all men are hopeless apart from Christ.

    They must highly esteem God, who alone can change a man’s heart (Matthew 19:26).

    They must see men as the bible sees men; guilty and hopeless criminals with deceitful hearts that are dead in their trespasses (Genesis 6:5, Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 3:19, Ephesians 2:1), and convince men of their sinful condition by the preaching of God’s moral Law.

    And after all hope is crushed, they must proclaim that God's children are made alive through Christ and forgiven of our sins (Ephesians 2:4-6, Colossians 2:13). And only by being made alive through Christ will men have the power to change.

    Rather than a quick 30 day fix, KSBJ should devote their time, energy, and efforts to preaching the gospel, and not just any gopel, but the biblical gospel that is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). And only the power of God through Jesus Christ, rather than spending 30 days listening to KSBJ, will ultimately make a wretched sinner a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).