Me with my lovely wife, Kathy:

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Doctrine of the Depravity of Man:

The STTA I am sending out/posting today is about the Biblical doctrine of the Depravity of Man.

It occurred to me that this is a teaching from the Scripture on which we are not very conversant.  In fact it is a concept that we ignore.  Here are some statements and thoughts on the matter I've collected.

Genesis 3, Romans 1-3, Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 7:14-25

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Ins and Outs of Christians living in an ungodly world:

This is rough.  It is merely a cut-and-paste from some old sermon notes.
I'm posting this as a follow-up or further explanation of the STTA for August 30, 2011.
As followers of Christ, our relationship with the world is complex.  Perhaps these bones from a past sermon will be of help to you.

Christians in an Ungodly World.
#1 The "In"s and "Out"s of Christian Living in an Ungodly World, John 17

Read John 17.

Do a worldliness quiz:
How many of you use
      wear neckties?
      have ever held public office, school board, etc.?
      are involved in public institutions, work for   government, kids in public school, etc.?
      watch movies?
      read non-christian magazines?
      swim or go to the beach where both sexes are    present?

All of these are regarded as worldly activities by various groups. 
Give a few examples.

While I reject the position that would characterize all or any of these activities as necessarily worldly I think that most of you would agree with me that each of them and a great many other things and activities can become negative in a person's life.

Consider another aspect of the problem:

Multitude of problems in the world:
How to solve?
Government agencies?
Is a particular view of politics "Christian"?
What should be the Christians involvement in these secular agencies?

As followers of Christ what should be our relationship to the world in which we find ourselves?

Explore this issue over the next several weeks.  It will be an exploration together, because I am still very much a learner on these matters.

H. Richard Niebuhr, in his book Christ and Culture, summarizes 5 ways that Christians have typically responded to the culture around them, the world.

1)  The first view is (move to one side of stage) is characterized by monks and present day Amish.
Our own heritage is a modification of this.  There is nothing in common.

2)  The second move to the other end.  Is represented by classical liberals and many polyannaish type people that we meet everyday (move to other end of stage) We can work together totally, denial of any fundamental differences.

In between these Christ is creator of world, Christ is redeemer of church  therefore there is some commonality.

3)  These three positions that lie between the poles are a little tough to grasp.  They may be artificial distictions, so let me simply summarize them this way.
there are those who recognixe the difference but see that the church and culture have similar goals.  We can agree with the world and work together.  We can fine tune and adjust the world so that it will work for us.

4)  There are those who see the world here and the church here in constant tension.  The relationship of the church to the world is confrontational.

5)  Finally there are those who see the mission of the church as to recreate culture.  I think that this is the reason for the fear expressed by many about the so called, "Christian Right."  Rightly or wrongly they have seen this goal and they fear it.

OK,  where should we be.

It is fairly easy to cut off the ends.  I think our look at the words of the Lord this AM will do that. 

Since the question is bound to come up.  As I read Niebuhr's book I found myself saying yes and then later saying no to the three other positions.  I find the most agreement with the position expressed by tension and confrontation.

My plan at this point is to center our thoughts around the prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ just bfore He went to the cross, John 17.

Our relationship to the world, expressed in the prepositions used by John.

"Out of" ek (6):  Eph. 2:1-2

"in" en (11):  Acts 1:8
(note, en, is used again in 17.)

"not of" ek (14,16):  I John 2:15-17

"out of" ek (15):  I Cor.5:10

Note the purposes for all of this in 1-5 & 19-26

That we might be His witnesses in the world and bring glory to God.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dealing with Discouragement:

I regularly read Pastor Charles Wood's thoughts.  I often find him helpful.

After nearly four decades of ministry in church that is smaller than I wish it were, and much larger than I have any right to expect, I have concluded that periodic discouragement is inevitable.  Unless it is dealt with effectively, it will lead to ineffectiveness.  Here are some thoughts on dealing with down-times that "Woodchuck" recently shared.

 1.  Luke 24:13-35.  God is there: The problem of the disciples was depression resulting from disappointment (sound familiar?).  A sense of the presence of Christ in the midst of our turmoil should bring relief, and I know of no other way to tangibly achieve that divine reality than through time spent in the Word and in prayer.
 2.  Mark 6:45-52.  God knows where you are:  Although the disciples were on the sea, Jesus saw them and was aware of their problem.  Remember: God always knows where you are and is aware of your situation.
 3.  John 11:1-45.  God’s timing is perfect:  Mary thought Christ’s arrival was too late, but He had greater purposes in mind.  As this is an area of struggle for my impatient soul, I have to keep reminding myself that God’s timing is always right in the light of His knowledge of His perfect plans and purposes.
 4.  Matthew 9:35-38.  God is genuinely concerned about you and your situation:  Life was even tougher then than it is now.  Common people were used and abused.  Jesus is always moved with compassion when His people are in trouble (particularly that caused by other people, saved or unsaved).
 5.  Mark 5:25-34.  God’s power is always unlimited:  The woman’s problem was physical.  She had found no relief in spite of spending all she had in quest for it.  Never forget that God is always able to do anything He chooses to do.  There is more help in spending time praying for His intervention than there is in wasting it in whining and complaining.
 6.  Matthew 19:16-26.  God’s wisdom is supreme:  Jesus knew this man’s real problem and dealt with it..  God always knows what we really need; we usually know what we want but seldom what we really need.
 These suggestions are neither profound or “sure fire.”  They are an attempt to drive us back to Scripture and to remind us that facts must always trump feelings.  I would also offer this suggestion contained in the chorus of an old Gospel song: 
O cling to the promises,
They never will fail;
O cling to the promises of God;
In Christ are the promises Yea and Amen!
Then cling, O cling to the promises of God.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Preach the Word to the world:

Al Mohler just republished an interview he did with John R. W. Stott. 

Especially for you fellow preachers it is well worth the read.  Anyone interested in understanding and applying the Bible will find the article interesting.  Here is a quote.
". . . when a man of God stands before the people of God with the Word of God in his hand and the Spirit of God in his heart, you have a unique opportunity for communication."