Back Up and Running

Hello. Due to conditions I could not control, I have been out of it for a while. Well, I’m glad to report that Questions of Quandary is back up! Updates are on their way!

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Links That Gave Me Pause

It has been some time since I have posted.  The reason being is God has chosen to challenge me and my family in the way of changes. Life changes. So, as it happens, I have a moment to post this. It isn’t much, but it is something.  It’s a lists of lists. Everybody likes those.  Enjoy.

 

5 Things You Should Never Say or Do at a Funeral

As we ask for God’s help in prayer, we must not be careless with any of our words. What we say is powerful in such a vulnerable situation, and we should tread carefully. So here are five things we must avoid when preaching a funeral.

25 Common Phrases That You’re Saying Wrong

…I often find myself messing up common phrases. When I’m unsure, I do a quick Google search to make sure that what I’m writing is actually what I’m trying to say. This inspired me to come up with a list of common phrases that people frequently get wrong. Some of them aren’t completely our fault because the incorrect way of saying them has actually become the “norm”. But we’re still wrong.

5 Quick Reasons to Manuscript Your Sermons

Whether it is best to manuscript or to outline your sermon is an ongoing conversation. Everyone is different. Driscoll goes up with post-it notes, Piper takes a manuscript. Figuring out which is right for you takes time and experimentation.

 

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Defending the Faith or Defending God?

I had a dream last night that was rather different. I got off some bus or train and stepped into some sort of rally. In my dream where I got off, was my home town that I hadn’t been to in quite some time. The rally was some sort of gay pride celebration. I just wanted to get through the crowd to a restaurant that I patronized often. I was stopped by a couple of the participants and they asked, with some sort of accent, if I was going to the restaurant and if it was a “gay” restaurant. I said, as far as I knew, it wasn’t. I finally make it into the restaurant and the owner, how I knew that I don’t know, I asked if I was harassed outside by coming in? I said not really. The owner then went on to say that we should counter rally and “defend God”. I said this was a mistake in thinking.

What do I mean by that? As far as I can tell, the Bible never asks us as Christians to “defend God”. God doesn’t need defending. He’s God! What kind of God would He be if He needed Man to defend Him? In fact, that would be very vain and sinful of us to do so. Now, that is not to say that our FAITH doesn’t need to be defended. Let’s look at a few examples in Scripture:

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

(Jud 1:3 ESV)

After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.”

(Acts 24:24-25 ESV)

And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus.

(Acts 19:8-9 ESV)

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.

(Philipians 1:27-28 ESV)

As you can see in these examples, it is the FAITH we are to defend. The “why we believe” in God, not God Himself. This needs to be clear not only in our own minds but in the presentation to the unbeliever as well.

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The Art of Arguing

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In this picture by Dore’, you can almost hear Paul speaking to the Ephesians and declaring Christ and how “he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4).  This is the truth that must be declared.  Does it mean that we get into shouting matches to do it?  No. I know it feels like we should sometimes but it is not what the Bible teaches. Second Timothy teaches that we shouldn’t be quarrelsome but kind. (2 Tim 2:24-26)

So why do I call Arguing an “Art”?  After all, art is usually thought of as for those that are gifted.  But, as we all know, there are more artists that were taught, trained, educated, and/or instructed than there are gifted ones.  If everyone was gifted, there is no one special, right?

Therefore, training to argue has to begin somewhere and if we are the Lord’s servant, that training begins today.  Mikel Del Rosario has a good article here defining arguing. 

Do you find yourself ill-equipped to argue, to defend the faith, etc.?  I recommend starting to educate yourself today.  Remember, more than likely someone practiced the Art of Arguing with you once because they were commanded to do so as stated in Second Timothy stated above.  Obviously with an Agape love.  You were a serious doubter at one time. Don’t forget that! 

Jude 22 raises the issue of evangelistic apologetics toward the serious doubter who denies Jesus Christ as the only sovereign Lord (v. 4). Here doubt is a settled denial and rejection of both the person (Jesus Christ) and propositions affirmed about him (he is sovereign and Lord). Doubt of this nature is blatant unbelief involving the mind, will, and emotions.

Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology

 

Thank God someone took the time to learn, train, and educate themselves in the art of arguing to lead us to the Truth. Where would we be if they didn’t?  I think you know the answer. 

2 Corinthians 1:3-4“[Praise to the God of All Comfort] Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

Brought to you by BibleGateway.com. Copyright (C) . All Rights Reserved.

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To Evangelize or not to Evangelize?

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Have you ever been asked to speak in public?  If you’re like most people this is one of the scariest, most unforgettable, and least favorite thing you may have to do.  In fact, Jerry Seinfeld said:

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By strange analogy,

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This article is intended for the Bible believing Christian who thinks that evangelism is for somebody else.  To be clear, I am not going to tell of the horrors of public speaking.  I am going to discuss why we must speak in public despite our fears and yet struggle to practice evangelism. 

Webster’s dictionary describes the word “proclaim” (used in the definition above) as “to promulgate; to announce; to publish.”  It seems then that evangelism is about doing the same thing, if not the same thing, as public speaking.  So how come we can overcome our fear of public speaking while we can’t seem to overcome our fear of evangelism? 

Well, let’s think about why we have to do public speaking.

1.     School requires it.

2.     Job requires it.

3.     Church requires it.

4.     Wedding requires it.

5.     Child’s baptism requires it.

6.     Winning that stupid award requires it.

Even though we are afraid to speak in public, we still do it.  The reason why everybody does it differs from person to person.  We still do it. 

Now consider at least two reasons why we should evangelize?   

1.     It is not the Pastor’s responsibility to evangelize the Church but to edify the Church.  Dr. Stanley Derickson states it correctly:

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2.     We are required to do so because we are commanded to.  The following Scriptures verify the necessity of our obedience because our Lord commanded us to: 

 

And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

(Mar 16:15-16 ESV)

 

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

(Mat 28:19-20 ESV)

Now obviously I could go on and on.  The fact is we do public speaking because we are required to for work, school, etc.  We are commanded to evangelize because we have to for only one reason.  For the sake of the unsaved. 

In answer to the question “To Evangelize or not to Evangelize”, it is clear; this is the least we can do, we who were once unsaved from our own sin, considering what the Savior did for us. 

1 John 4:11-12“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

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Knowing About Jesus or Knowing Jesus?

imageHave you ever been in a conversation with somebody discussing theologically or concerning the Christian belief as to WHO Jesus is? How about with a believer specifically regarding knowing about Him or knowing Him?

One of the points our Pastor brought to bear today was the parallel and differences of sermons and the culture today on who Jesus is. You may have heard it said, in response to the question above, that “I want to Know Jesus, not know About Him.” The trouble with this response is twofold.

First, you cannot know a person, especially someone who walked the Earth two thousand years ago, unless you read ABOUT them first. What does that mean? It means that you have to familiarize yourself with the Man first through the eyewitnesses of others. For example, if you never knew your parents, for whatever reason, then the only way you could learn anything about them is through some sort of historical facts. How would you obtain these facts? Well, you could talk to friends of your parents, witnesses if you will, and learn something about them that way. You could verify this data through pictures, events, landmarks, etc. After you have verified the data, you could say now that you know something about them. After spending more time with the witnesses, you might even say that you know that person.

That is what it’s like when reading the Word of God. We are reading the witnesses report of what Jesus did, where He did it, with who, etc. See Luke 24:27, Luke 24:44. You get the picture.

Secondly, trying to know somebody before you know about them is putting the cart before the horse. For example, you don’t go up to a perfect stranger and assume to talk to them, as if you are familiar with them, because they will flee! Not a good idea. The usual modus operandi is to ask their name, what they do, where do they live, etc. In other words, collecting data about the person. After time, you will eventually know the person.

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.” (Hebrews 1:1-4 ESV)

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The Guest Bathroom Remodel Continues…

It was another grueling day in the guest bathroom.  Patience was tested, tempers flared, ineptness was rampant. You would think that with all my experience in construction (electrician mind you) this would be a small matter.  I’ve built power stations, malls, hospitals, refineries, etc..  A guest bathroom, really?  C’mon!  Let me say here that the pictures do not include the copper plumbing I had to rework, the backing for future handicap rails (let’s just leave that alone), R-13 insulation to keep the noise down and the heat in, etc..  I’ll throw a couple of pictures in here for visual aids. This is how I left it last night:

Guest Bathroom remodel Guest Bathroom remodel 2

 

Here is what it looks like currently:

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Piece of cake, right?  As you can see, I have a little more tile laid down including the “border” around all three sides.  The light, quite honestly, was the easy part!  The two items I had contention with was the one corner piece (for shampoos, conditioners, and the like) and the soap dish.  I attempted to install those last night but could not come up with a solution to keep them in place till the mortar set.  Then, my lovely wife, after a few minutes of ineptness (stated earlier) and frustration on my part, comes in to the bathroom with book in hand.  The book is a “How to” on bathroom remodeling.  Lo and behold!  The heavens parted and the angels sang.  Instructions on how to keep corner pieces and soap dishes on the wall till the mortar dries and hardens.  I was…thankful.  After thanking my wife for truly being a Help mate, this verse came to mind as I struggled to keep my mouth shut.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
(Php 2:12-16 ESV)

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The Importance of Catechism

Here is a great article on the importance of Catechisms. I agree with Tim Keller that the Church, generally, has mixed up the Biblical understanding, in terms of Holy living, with what the world teaches.  Unfortunately it has led to Christians who cannot give the Gospel to unbelievers because they themselves are not rooted. Catechism helps with this. Read Tim Keller’s article here

Here is an example of what a creed looks like.  May we all continue to learn from the shoulders of others.

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Asking Jesus Into Your Heart But Not Hearing the Gospel

I came across this article today and couldn’t believe how right on this is. I recently started a Bible study for after work and this is one of the issues I struggle with the members of my Bible study. A true Law and Gospel has not been preached to a majority of the members. So when I talk about having a serious understanding of not only God’s mercy and grace, but of His holiness as well, the murmurings begin. God is a righteous Judge and will not tolerate sin. Thank you Chris Hohnholz for the eye-opening article. I pray “Christians” all over read and take this to heart (pardon the pun).

What Do You Do When You Ask Jesus Into Your Heart But He Doesn’t Stick Around?
Chris Hohnholz
Sat, 30 Jun 2012 23:12:07 GMT

I have heard this story before. A young boy or girl attends VBS and at the end of the week, they raised their hand and said the prayer. Or maybe, when they were older they came forward at the altar call at church or at the local evangelist crusade. No matter the venue, they were told to “ask Jesus into their heart,” and assured that once He came in, life would get better. They were assured they were a Christian now, and were told to never question it, no matter what. The initial spiritual high carried them for a time. They read their Bibles, went to church, talked about how great it was to be a Christian. But in time, the buzz wore off. The feeling just wasn’t there anymore. Other things, people or events just seemed more interesting. Or they began to be ostracized by their peers, so the compromises began. Before long, life was like it was before, or maybe worse because they began to look for other things to fill the void. But no matter how bad it might be, they were still a Christian…weren’t they?

When it comes to the modern day evangelism of “asking Jesus into your heart” there is a very big problem in that it rarely, if ever, addresses the issue that a person is a wretched, vile sinner. A spiritual criminal deserving of God’s righteous judgment. It avoids examining the life of the person under God’s law. It fails to show that when we lie, steal, lust, hate, blaspheme God, or any other sin, we are committing crimes against our Lord. It fails to reveal that on the day that we stand before God, every sin, every thought, word and deed is called into account. And because God is a good and just Judge, He will condemn us to Hell for eternity. It does not explain that the punishment is infinite because we have sinned against an infinite God.

When the church tells a person to, “just ask Jesus into your heart” there is very little weighing of the issue. Very little understanding of the severity of their sins. Consequently, many people will experimentally ask Jesus to become part of their lives without ever turning away from the sinful life they have lead. In other words, because they didn’t understand how wicked they were, they never obeyed the command to repent. They simply saw Jesus as a way to make their life better, or as some sort of “fire insurance.” There was no genuine commitment or surrender of their lives. If that happens, that person is not genuinely born again. And if they are not born again, they are still slaves to their sinful nature.

Often times, churches today will ask people to repeat a prayer, sign a card and get them baptized. Once that is done, they absolutely assure them they are saved and tell them to never doubt it. And if they see that person returning back to worldly pursuits, they claim they are backslidden, a person who is a Christian, but is actively sinning.

Such an evangelistic program, while certainly adding numbers to church roles, actually does more damage than good. The problem is twofold. First, the Bible tells us to examine ourselves to see if we are truly in the faith. Both the books of James and 1 John help us examine our walk to see if we are actually producing fruit that is consistent with a born again Christian. That doesn’t mean that once a Christian gets saved he is suddenly perfect, but what is the course of his life. If a person can look at their life and see that it is, bit by bit, growing in a God honoring direction, then they can see true spiritual fruit that is consistent with being born again. But if they look like the rest of the world day to day, if there is no brokenness, no desire for true repentance, then it would become prudent to ask if they were ever actually born again.

The second problem with the modern day gospel presentation is that it ignores the truth of false converts. In the parable of the soils, Jesus taught of two groups of people who spring up as apparent converts upon hearing the gospel. However, in due time, they fall away either because of the cares of the world or from persecution. The falling away demonstrates that they never were in the faith to begin with. So when the church baptizes someone and assures them they are saved without ever looking at the fruit of their walk, it can actually add numbers of false converts to the list.

So what does all this mean for you the reader? Well, the first question would be to ask yourself if you are truly saved. Examine your walk in the light of the Bible. Do you truly love the Lord? Do you desire to obey His commandments above all else? Do you hate your sin because you love Lord and don’t wish to sin against Him? Or do you care more about the things of this world? Is the only time you feel bad about sin is when you have to suffer the consequences?

If it is the former, I would encourage you to dig into the gospels again. Learn what it is that Christ did for you because He loves you. Gain assurance by preaching the gospel to yourself daily. But if it is the latter, then you need to repent of your sins and trust in Christ now. You need to get saved for the first time. What happened before may have only been an experimental attempt, but one where, like so many others, you never truly repented and trusted in the Savior. If that is so, then examine your life, understand that your sins are an offense to God deserving of judgment. Yet know that His Son died to pay the price that you deserved. Turn away from those sins and trust in the Savior today.

(Note: this article is also published on my personal blog at fernleycrossguy.wordpress.com)

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Bible Study Disaster

Have you ever been to a Bible Study and it turned into something that wasn’t a Bible Study? Either it was your first visit or a regular thing, it just didn’t turn out to what you expected? Well, that happened to me this week. I thought it might even get violent! Let me start off by saying I will not mention any names to protect the guilty. You know who you are.

As most of you know I am an electrician, a recently back to work electrician about two months. So, I start asking my co-workers if there were any Bible studies going on at that I could attend. Sure enough, at the hotel, a regular Bible study was going on Wednesdays. Great. So I asked the leader of the study if I could attend and he said “Sure!”. Awesome.

My first visit I could tell that I didn’t agree with the leader’s theology. The existence of free-will, everybody receives a different message from the Word, and, my personal favorite, feelings can interpret truth. So, I don’t really say much but listen and try to glean any Word from the Bible Study. I realize at this point I may sound arrogant but please don’t misunderstand, there were many Scriptural errors going on that it was hard to concentrate on the study itself.

My second visit was the real “over the top” part I just couldn’t ignore. A guy shows up drunk with a drink in hand! The consensus? “It’s okay brother, Jesus said ‘come as you are’”. Really? Really. Secondly, the study is on “Revelations”. I still don’t know why the Book of Revelation is called “Revelations”. Anyway, a point was made during the study about judgment and wrath that God will bring down during the Last Days. Some discussion ensued and so I thought I would bring up the necessity of Holiness in the life of the Christian, as well as the general necessity of the world needing to be Holy to stand before God. See Romans 3:9-19.

Well, I was basically attacked by the drunk, among others, that “God is love” and that holiness is not necessary! I couldn’t believe it. So, I came across this article and thought it just might bring to light what control sin has upon us and that we are to continue to be Holy as He is Holy (1 Peter 1:15).

I Chose To Sin

Gospel-centeredness is all the rage today. We want the gospel at the center of our lives, our churches, our families. I love it. Gospel-centeredness is simply a new phrase that expresses the age-old practice of recounting the gospel and living all of life in light of what Christ has done. The fact is that the gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection is relevant to every part of life. When we say that we are gospel-centered, this is all we mean—that we are committed to continually bringing the gospel to our minds, so it can be brought to our hearts, so it can be brought to our lives.

I awoke this morning pondering one component of the gospel: the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In his death Christ atoned for my sin and after he rose from the dead and ascended to heaven, he sent his Spirit—the Holy Spirit—to live within me. There is a powerful, life-altering consequence: I have been freed from the power of sin. It is stunning to consider that I never need to sin. I never have an excuse to sin. Now that I have the Holy Spirit dwelling within me, there is no power in all the universe so strong that it can force me to sin. Satan may parade temptation in front of me, people around me may demand that I sin, but none of them can compel me.

If I sin today—when I sin today—it is not because I had to or because anyone forced me to, but only because I chose to. The sins I commit between the moment I pen these words and the time I fall asleep will be nothing less than acts of willful rebellion against God. They are not mistakes, they are not blunders, they are not nothing; they are acts of rebellion against my Creator and King.

It is so helpful to know that, to admit that, to own that. When I own it, I can confess it. When I confess it, I can bring to mind the gospel, which brings to my heart the gospel, which transforms my life, which brings glory to God.

I’ve often returned to Jerry Bridge’s description of how he goes about the practice of preaching the gospel to himself. It is just one way of reminding himself of truth, of reminding himself of who he is in Christ. It never loses its power, because it is the power of God. Here is how he does this:

Since the gospel is only for sinners, I begin each day with the realization that despite my being a saint, I still sin every day in thought, word, deed, and motive. If I am aware of any subtle, or not so subtle, sins in my life, I acknowledge those to God. Even if my conscience is not indicting me for conscious sins, I still acknowledge to God that I have not even come close to loving Him with all my being or loving my neighbor as myself. I repent of those sins, and then I apply specific Scriptures that assure me of God’s forgiveness to those sins I have just confessed.

I then generalize the Scripture’s promises of God’s forgiveness to all my life and say to God words to the effect that my only hope of a right standing with Him that day is Jesus’ blood shed for my sins, and His righteous life lived on my behalf. This reliance on the twofold work of Christ for me is beautifully captured by Edward Mote in his hymn “The Solid Rock” with his words, “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” Almost every day, I find myself going to those words in addition to reflecting on the promises of forgiveness in the Bible.

What Scriptures do I use to preach the gospel to myself? Here are just a few I choose from each day:
As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)

“I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:25)

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)

Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin. (Romans 4:7-8)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)

There are many others, including Psalm 130:3-4; Isaiah 1:18; Isaiah 38:17; Micah 7:19; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 2:13-14; Hebrews 8:12; and 10:17-18.

Whatever Scriptures we use to assure us of God’s forgiveness, we must realize that whether the passage explicitly states it or not, the only basis for God’s forgiveness is the blood of Christ shed on the cross for us. As the writer of Hebrews said, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins (9:22), and the context makes it clear that it is Christ’s blood that provides the objective basis on which God forgives our sins.

 

One more thing. Peanuts had a good cartoon that sums up the point.

sound-theology-peanuts

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