Public Witnessing On November 11 2011

The photo here portrays three things I love: prayer, the Word, and evangelism. So really coffee is something I like a lot but in this picture it is from evangelism last night. In our evangelism efforts we often go door-to-door and at other times we go publicly. You probably guessed where we were this time. Local coffee shops and other establishments where people sit, converse, and hangout are great places to witness.

Being a bit under the weather and the weather being a bit cold I found myself at the local “watering hole” along with my pastor. Usually in colder temperatures we find people sitting outside but tonight we took the gospel inside. We usually buy something to be a good patron and reduces our chances of getting asked to leave. Really you need to be a bit sly about engaging people because you don’t want to be a huge distraction to the typical flow of business. Unless of course you find yourself at a silver smith shop where Diana is the object of worship.

My Pastor and I sat for a little while looking for an opportunity to engage someone. It took some time before someone came along so we used it to do a little Bible study from the book of Proverbs and Ephesians 5. Proverbs 11:30 “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who wins souls is wise.” Then we spoke briefly about a great book I encourage you to read or reread. The Soul Winner by Charles Spurgeon.

After a half hour talking about the word a man sat near to us. We engaged him about the gospel and at first he said he didn’t want to talk. So we asked another question about where he was from since he had an accent. Netherlands was his home and he was visiting on business and was returning back the following morn. We asked how long the flight was which quickly allowed us to bring it back to the gospel.

“What if while on your flight your airplane had a problem, crashed, and you died. Would you go to heaven?”
He responded; “I think I might.”
“Well that’s good,” we said, “So what would you say that God would let you into heaven?”
“Define God.”
“Well, He is omniscient, omnipresent, all-knowing, just, holy, and perfect.”
He muttered some stuff about how he saw God which wasn’t anything Biblical.

We then looked into the law of God and challenged his view of a god that is everything. Which is quite pantheistic. We spoke a bit through the law and finished with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He listened and thanked us. We also then talked about other things regarding his country, family, and work. It was a good time.

One thing that drives me to witness is that Paul went through trials worst than a cold (1 Corinthians 11:22-30). I also know that my flesh will often give reasons both actual and imagined to not go. And sometimes it is good to get out and buffet the flesh whether it is though prayer and fasting or through evangelizing.

Small Reminders of The Fall

Every once in a while I am reminded of the fall. I would also add that I think the apple gets a bad rap. But my thoughts aren’t because of seasons though I love autumn. Typically it is because I keep a garden and often irritated at how quickly weeds appear shortly after fighting the curse. More recently I am bothered by the curse due to a cold I have had for the past several days. Here is a short list that the curse is upon us in no particular order.

  1. Sickness
  2. Death
  3. Sin
  4. War
  5. Body Odor
  6. Pain in Child Bearing
  7. No Theocracy
  8. Taxes
  9. Unemployment
  10. Divorce
  11. Thorns & Thistles

Thankfully that there is heaven to come where righteousness dwells. May these serve to remind us and give us a hope for that day. Maranatha, Lord Come quickly.

A Look At Righteousness In the Life Of Job

The photo here is from a friends barn that burned down this past week. It was a devastating fire that fortunately did not kill anyone. That same week my pastor preached an overview of Job’s life. Sometimes things and events make you think about life and things you hold close. Although this calamity is hard for those who suffered loss it is harder still to wrap your mind around Job’s situation. In pondering the sermon from Sunday I would like to review my Pastor’s sermon.

Job was a righteous man. His life was exemplified by righteousness by shunning evil. His habitual practice when his children would celebrate he would call for them, have them sanctified, and offer a sacrifice on behalf of them in case they sinned. What a stellar parent. See who takes notice in verse 6. It was God who notices and points out to Satan the righteousness of Job. And then God allows Satan to touch all that he has. All his livestock are stolen, all the servants tending them are dead save one from each herd, and the kids all die. Now top it all off with boils that he scrapes with a potsherd. I can’t begin to imagine how hard that would be.

The unrighteousness of all. We know that Job is righteous. Yet we find him curse the day he was born and the mother that bore him. His wife also gives the ungodly counsel to “curse God and die.” His friends accuse him of sin as if sin is always the cause of sickness and calamity. So we might ask where was Job’s unrighteousness? Look to chapter 38 that describes God’s response to Job. “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” Job’s wrong was questioning God’s decision for Job to endure tribulations because of his righteousness.

The righteousness of God is revealed. God allowed for a time to let Job wander in his ignorance. But when He spoke He reminds Job of creation, setting the limits, creating the creatures, and the setting of the seasons. If Job’s righteousness then this statement in Job 40 would be equally good.

“Now prepare yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer Me:
“ Would you indeed annul My judgment?
Would you condemn Me that you may be justified?
Have you an arm like God?
Or can you thunder with a voice like His?
Then adorn yourself with majesty and splendor,
And array yourself with glory and beauty.
Disperse the rage of your wrath;
Look on everyone who is proud, and humble him.
Look on everyone who is proud, and bring him low;
Tread down the wicked in their place.
Hide them in the dust together,
Bind their faces in hidden darkness.”

If you notice this rebuke is to answer as man. Which is a reminder that Job is but a man and not God. Followed by if he were righteous like God then surely he could save himself and punish the wicked. God then rebukes Job’s friends for speaking falsely of God to Job on how He works. It is God who is righteous and chooses to test the heart of men.

If we are to fit into Job’s calamity may it because we are righteous and not because of our sin. Should other fall may we be careful to condemn as sin as the culprit. May you and I have the same grace Job did to continue to be upright and not curse God in the face of certain trials. For even Peter who was sifted denied God and yet God’s grace was sufficient to restore Peter again.

Worship That is God Glorifying

Worhisp Guitar

Worship has been on my mind lately. In part, because I have become the worship leader of late. Not that I haven’t been part of the worship team for some time. So this brings me to ponder how God is most glorified in our worship? Do we allow it where people choose to do whatever they want? Choose any type of song even perhaps replace secular tunes in order to become relevant? The scripture is clear about how God wants us to worship Him.

Worship is defined by scripture to us. When we come to church with songs it ought to be a from a place of holiness and reverence. Not as people with lip service but as one who comes with clean hands and a pure heart nor lifts up his soul to an idol. Even the the ingredients for the incense used for worship was important and to be regarded as holy. This means that they don’t take something holy and making common. The reverse is true that we don’t take something common and make it holy.

The punishment of unholy worship. Nadab and Abihu were prime examples of unholy worship. If you aren’t familiar with the story that they had decided to offer profane fire to the Lord which was strictly not commanded. We might say that they were sincere in their worship that it would be accepted by God. But the reality is that God only receives worship from people who come to worship Him in spirit and truth. Not by being the most interesting by incorporating styles of worship from other religions. That is what it looked like with Nadab and Abihu. And the punishment was that fire went out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them. Other examples of this would be Ananias and Sapphira, the Israelites worshiping the golden cow at Mount Sinai, and the sons of Eli.

Worshipers must regard God as holy. God said in His Judgement of Nadab and Abihu was because:

By those who come near Me
I must be regarded as holy;
And before all the people
I must be glorified.

We are also reminded in the New Testament that we are to be holy as He is holy. If we want any approval from God then let this be our council. “For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist,” Says the LORD. “ But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word.” This is what should drive us to have biblically worded songs and attitudes of worship that are drawn from the word. These are pleasing styles of worship to God.

Making Sense of the Earthquake in Japan

As you well know the earthquake in Japan had devastating effects even for a nation that is deemed one of the most earthquake prepared countries. Yet homes fell and were washed away, cars were swept along like leaves on rivers, and many were displaced or died in the cataclysm. There are currently estimated 21,000 souls lost or presumed dead in the earthquake and tsunami with many families and friends separated. With such devastating effects we should know that God has made sense of disasters. Let us make some sense from the Bible about the earthquake in Japan.

God is the maker of heaven and earth. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). My help comes from Him, Who made heaven and earth (Ps 121:2). If we are committed to God as creator than we can recognize that it brings more meaning to devastation caused by earthquakes. Without God then really the question of why would something like this happen is pointless. Even in an event like the earthquake in Japan we should know that the earth declares the glory of God (Psalm 19:1) and the earth is His footstool (Is. 66:1). The scripture establishes God at the center of creation. He is neither absent or unaware of situations like this.

Earthquakes come from the presence of God. Since God is at the center of creation He also has the power to do with it whatever he wants.

Psalms 114:3-8
The sea saw it and fled;
Jordan turned back.
4 The mountains skipped like rams,
The little hills like lambs.
5 What ails you, O sea, that you fled?
O Jordan, that you turned back?
6 O mountains, that you skipped like rams?
O little hills, like lambs?

7 Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
At the presence of the God of Jacob,
8 Who turned the rock into a pool of water,
The flint into a fountain of waters.

Psalm 46:1-3
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

His presence causes the earth to shake an the waters to recede. It is God at the center of devastation. Because the Bible attributes volcanic activity to God in Psalms 18:7-15 then there also can be a reason why something like this happens.

The Purpose of God in Earthquakes

God’s purpose in earthquakes is to achieve His will. Whatever the LORD pleases He does,In heaven and in earth, In the seas and in all deep places (Psalm 135:6). If He desires it He will do it. Yet there is something more than Him shaking the earth for no reason as if He did it just because. He is not like a child who for spite makes the mountains quake. In scripture the earthquakes are most often referred to God’s anger or displeasure.

Job 9:1-6 Then Job answered and said:
“Truly I know it is so, But how can a man be righteous before God? If one wished to contend with Him, He could not answer Him one time out of a thousand. God is wise in heart and mighty in strength. Who has hardened himself against Him and prospered? He removes the mountains, and they do not know. When He overturns them in His anger; He shakes the earth out of its place, And its pillars tremble;

At God’s displeasure that mountains are moved and the earth shakes. Jeremiah reiterates this in chapter 4:23-26. We might be moved to be angry with God yet it is sin that is just for God to reveal his just anger. For Psalms 7:11-13 even points out that God is angry with the wicked every day.

Is There Hope?

Absolutely. In the presence of such disaster as we read earlier that God is our help and refuge in times trouble Psalm 46:1. We can have a sure confidence that we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28. For those who go through such experience like this and have their hope in the Lord can have a comfort and joy.

Do you love God?

Loving God is the first and greatest question you can ever answer. A Pharisee Lawyer asked Jesus this question;

Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. (Matt. 22:35-38).

To not love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind is the first and great sin as spoken by R.A. Torrey. To not love God is the greatest trespass that we could ever have. Really to have hope in God is to believe in Him. To find refuge in trouble is to have peace when it seems as though the world is falling apart.

Jesus gives a response to such a question about cataclysmic events. He points to the tower of Siloam in which 13 people die from its collapse (Luke 13:4) and says do you think they worst sinners than all of Jerusalem. The point He is making is that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. God uses events like these to call some to Himself, to bring judgement, and to take some home. Some people will be save as a result of earthquakes.

The End Is Soon

The gospels give us a sign that the end is near. The disciples ask in Matthew 24:3 what the sign of the end is near. Jesus gives us a list of signs that the end is near.

  • People claiming to be Christ (present)
  • Wars and rumors of wars (present)
  • Famine
  • Pestilence
  • Earthquakes

May this be a reminder unto us that the end is near and that earthquakes are a revelation of God to mankind. That He uses earthquakes to bring judgment to punish evil doers and to save the lost. And should we face such crippling situations may we yet look find God as our present help in times of trouble.

The Purity of the Word

Your Word is Very Pure therefore you servant Loves it! (PS 119:140) Do you know how it goes? You know the tune? After all the Israelite’s sang the Psalms. After 22 stanzas it makes you wonder why most of our hymns are only 4 long. But this song doesn’t get old if truly have the heart like that of the psalmist-your servant loves it. How do we show love for the word? It starts through how we view it. Is it valuable or not so valuable. We will look here at the purity of God’s Word.

The purity of the Word is because it comes from the mouth of God. The scripture is the words of God. As all scripture is God breathed. It is the autobiography of God as opposed to the biography that is revealed in creation. As we understand that God revealed Himself in the scriptures revealing His character, attributes, and works. You look into the Holy Text and find the Person of God and get an understanding of His likes and dislikes. There really no better way to get the truth about someone or something unless you go directly to the source. God has clearly revealed Himself and gives a clear description of who He is in the scripture. He purely describes Himself unashamedly and without equivocation.

The purity of the Word from its truthfulness. Nothing is so poignant as the discovery of your sin in the light of Scripture. It even gives the complete failures of saints of old and God’s grace to them despite their utter failings. You would think that perhaps there would be motivation to lie about things and yet it doesn’t. For God does not lie and in Him is truthfulness. The Scripture is pure and undiluted as it gives the simplicity of gospel.

May we truly have the heart of the Psalmist. Your word is very pure therefore I love it! Let us raise our view of God’s Word as it is pure. The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

Celebrating the Reformation on October 31st 2011

The Reformation should be a memorial to Christians as many known and unknown stood against the false doctrines of Catholicism. The Reformation is celebrated on October 31st because of Martin Luther’s 95 theses was nailed to the Wittenberg, Saxony church. His main protest was against the sale of indulgences but also included protests against the pope, the veneration of Mary, and the devotion to saints. His stand marked and spurred on others like Ulrich Zwingli in Switzerland. There were many who stood and some who died like William Tyndale & John Huss for the faith of the Gospel. Because of their stand we have doctrines that stand today which are as follows.

1) Sola Scriptura – Scripture Alone

The Scripture alone is the bases for the Christian’s understanding of who God is and how man is saved. Jesus even pointing to the scripture that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” Man’s sole basis needs to come from scripture to rightly understand God’s work. Nothing can replace its usefulness as it judges the intentions and thoughts of men and giving understanding of the will of God. (Romans 12:1, Hebrews 4:12, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:2-3)

2) Sola Fide – Faith Alone

Faith is the basis by which we are saved. There is nothing anyone can do to be saved except to believe. People asked of Jesus ‘“What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”
Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”’ Without faith it is impossible to please God. If we come to God with our works without faith it is not counted as grace but debt. Rather one is saved by grace through faith that not of himself but it is a gift of God lest anyone should boast. (John 6:28-29, Hebrews 11:6, Romans 4:4, Ephesians 2:8-9)

3) Sola Gratia – Grace Alone

Grace is God’s gift to men in salvation. The Psalm say blessed is the man whose sin is not counted to him. For we are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Even Paul admonishes that we are “estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” (Gal 5:4) Salvation is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:5-7. So what hope do we have except that God pardons sin.

4) Solus Christus – Christ Alone

Since Christ is Head of the Church, no one can do anything apart from Him. For He is the “the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” For even the Gospel of John was “written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” Without Jesus Christ we cannot be saved. For Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life, no one comes to the father but by Me. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

5) Soli Deo Gloria _ For the Glory of God Alone

The end of mans all is to glorify God. Everything that happens gives glory to God as He is the Sovereign of all things. “..that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” For God says: “I am the LORD, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another, Nor My praise to carved images.” Even the heavens, the earth and all that is in it will give glory to Him. (Ecclesiastes 12:3; 1 Peter 4:11, 5:11 Isaiah 42:8; Psalm 19:1; 29:2)

There are great many other things that could be said along these lines and a life time talking about them. For even heaven we will continue glorifying God. Yet I am simply celebrating the truths of the reformation and the lives of saints who walked before me. God be glorified both now and forever more! Let us continue to be reformers in our lives ever transforming into the image of the Son Jesus Christ.

Friday October 16 2011 Evangelism

Admittedly, I like sharing the gospel on Friday nights with my church. Sometimes there are many and other times it is few. This time I was reminded that the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few. Pray therefore until the Lord of the harvest that He would send laborers. Though the laborers are few I don’t give up but press on. There reason is that there still might be some.

This past Friday seemed to be a blessed one. It makes me thankful for these times when the other times it is more difficult which is really not that often. So I am praising God for His goodness. For we witnessed between my gospel partner that night to three good long conversations.

The first door was a woman blind whom mostly blind with several children. She hadn’t been to church for sometime but seemed to have a descent gospel. Many people say that come to church for various reasons. This woman’s hurdles was well more legitimate then any I have heard. Her blindness. If no one is willing to come get her then it becomes incredibly difficult to get to church. We encouraged her despite her difficulties that we could pick her up. She seemed genuinely open to that.

The second door was a man with children. Said he went to church but after digging a little more we came to find that he had not been to church in while. He admitted that he was living in sin and toward the end of it was wondering when he would change. We admonished him that today was the day of salvation.

The third and final family was of Hispanic descent. They were Catholic who trusted in the good work. I mostly spoke to the son who could speak English which I think that the mother couldn’t. I then labored to point him to Christ as we went through the law, hell, and the good news. He rejected hell and yet the scripture is clear to say that there is hell. (Revelations 20:11-15, Psalm 7:11-13, Proverbs 15:11, 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10). We encouraged to repent and look unto God.

So why do people reject something from the Bible even though they say they believe it? I think it is because we suppress the truth in righteousness. That unless God moves them to repentance then it is impossible for them to believe.

One great thing that came of our evangelism was a man came out to church. And said he would even come the next week. I praise God for that!

Remembering Your Creator

Birthdays. Today is mine. I think we all like our birthdays. We get a chance to see who likes us and perhaps who our friends are. A little attention is given to us by those who love us. Even a little more telling on the kind of person we might be. It should drive us to worship and praise to God. Even the Psalmist says:

13 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them. (PS 139)

It is amazing that God has made each person. I think that is why we ought to be moved to worship. To praise Him for His marvelous works. I am amazed at everything God does. As He as given me breath, life, and godliness. He has appointed my times, numbered my days, and set the boundaries of my dwelling. And though we grow old He does not. Though we tire He endures forever. Let me admonish you that on your birthday that you would be mindful of our God. Let Ecclesiastes 12:13 a fitting close for the 13 on this matter.

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:

Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.

Considering The Objects of Your Worship

I could only imagine what Paul saw as he passed through Athens. My closest experience was visiting India. The multitude of gods and temples of worship were abundant. We don’t quite have that same experience here in Portland. Yet there are times that I come across a door that makes me consider the objects of worship like Hinduism.

This particular Friday was a night that I considered with a man about the object of his worship. He had strung about his door a banner of images and in the center of his door a god. I began with how he was going to heaven which I find many Hindus don’t know. It really didn’t take long to get to the law where I began with “You shall have no other gods before Me”. I do like to start with lying as it is the most common but in this case it was clear that he needed another message. When we are sharing the gospel with someone we really need to talk about the sins that your audience is dealing especially when it is so clear. This man’s was idolatry.

Here are a list of verses I used last night with my Indian neighbor.
Deuteronomy 5:20 Speaking of carved images, worship, and bowing down to them.
Isaiah 42:8 God will not share his glory with another. (The reason here is they want to say that the many god’s are the same)
Isaiah 44:9-20. This passage is good, it just takes a little time to go through it which I had.
Romans 1:18-23 God’s glory revealed and we change it into other things
Acts 17:22-31 To the unknown God.
1 Corinthians 6:9,10; Revelations 21:8 Idolaters will not inherit the kingdom of heaven
John 14:6 Jesus is the only way.