Peel Your Eyes from the Mirror

Are you happy being who you are?
Do you have good self-esteem?
Good self-confidence?
Does it really matter?
Are you comfortable in a room full of strangers or do you compare yourself to everyone; focusing on your flaws?

I think many of us struggle everyday with who we are. I’m not talking about how we wish we could lose 20 lbs or how I wish my hair hadn’t started falling out in my mid-twenties. Those are minor cosmetic issues. I’m talking about the big stuff that becomes chains and shackles binding us to the walls in the dungeon of depression.

We are going through many trials in these difficult times. Many are losing homes and jobs, going bankrupt and feeling like failures.

Do you feel like a failure?
Do you feel not good enough?
Are you jealous of those who seem successful and have it all?
Do others have better jobs?
Are others more attractive?
Do they have better clothes?
Is their house, or wedding ring, or motor home that much bigger and better than yours that you feel insignificant around them?
Do you ask why them and not me?

These thoughts of discontentment will eat away at our self-confidence and self-worth. But what is self-confidence and self-worth? Where does self-confidence and self-worth come from?

We need to start by peeling our eyes away from the mirror for a change and look up. We need to look up toward our creator and savior Jesus Christ. We spend so much time looking at ourselves and comparing ourselves to other people that we don’t have time to look at God…and when we look at God we feel the weight and disgust of our sin and we turn away from God. Encouragement for our lack of confidence can only be found in the Word of God:

Genesis 1:26

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”

Each one of us is uniquely and specially made in the image of God, which means we each carry unique attributes of God. We are all different, but equally made in God’s image.

Psalm 139:13-14

13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

God crafted our bodies, minds, and spirit in our mother’s womb in a unique and special way. We are wonderfully made in an awe-inspiring and fearful way. We are no accident. We are different, but each one of us is formed by the hands of the living God, who is infinitely holy, perfect, and good…every time…God doesn’t make mistakes and he certainly doesn’t make such thing as an economy version.

Isaiah 43:1-2 & 7

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine… 7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

God is very serious about these facts: He made us in His own image. He uniquely formed us from the inside out in our mother’s womb. He made us for His glory – for His purposes. Based on these scriptures (many others tell the same story), we should be able to deduce that we are not a freak occurrence of nature or an accident. We were not the results of strange biological evolutions or random chemical combinations. Each and every one of us was uniquely planned, creatively designed, precision engineered, and delivered with a purpose. God made us the way we are for a reason…for his glory. God made us just as we are for his purpose and his glory alone. There is nothing more valuable or perfect in the universe than God’s delight, purpose, and glory.

I hope you find comfort and confidence in this. We cannot compare ourselves to others when we know we are unique for God’s purpose. We should instead search out where God has gifted us and apply our lives fully to those gifts and let God do the rest.

But why has he made us this way or that way?
But, if God makes us in His image, why is everyone else more interesting, more desirable, more rich, more important, more everything?
Is it not enough that you are the image of God?

Two of my favorite passages in scripture finish the story. These verses add power to our created nature and they describe the scope and depth of the power of the God who created us.

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.

Ephesians 1:11

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will…

These two phenomenal verses show that God’s will and purpose rules our existence. All things work for good – good in God’s eyes, not our own – and He works all things according to his predestined purpose. We and our lives are chosen and planned before time began in order to fulfill God’s ultimate design, purpose, and pleasure. This is good news. There are no mistakes and no failures…ever. Everyone has a purpose.

Not only do all things work for good, but all things are being maintained and held together by Jesus Christ. Right now, Christ is holding the stars in place in the sky, choosing the exact amount, size and speed of the rain drops falling in another part of the world while He is orchestrating the events of your life. I’d even argue that He is beating your heart to keep you alive.

Hebrews 1:3

…and he [Jesus] upholds the universe by the word of his power…

Colossians 1:17

And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

The best part is that it is all good. It was all planned to be this way. You were planned to be this way. Have hope and have courage to serve your purpose to God’s glory. Find your purpose and work it out.

If, however, you are not encouraged and you still want to complain to the all knowing living God, I would caution you. We must be careful in complaining to the creator. Gratefulness and thankfulness should rule our hearts. We in today’s society have lost the healthy respect for God. We need to know our rightful place in the universe. This verse helps keep perspective:

Romans 9:20

20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”

Do we have higher standards than God? Or should we find peaceful contentment in how we were molded? Should we change our self-consumed focus from what we don’t have to God, His purpose, His glory, and His genius? I’d say so.

What receiving the Bible in your native tongue for the first time looks like.

Rejoice with me and be greatly encouraged (and deeply convicted) by watching this video of the Kimyal tribe receiving the New Testament in their language for the first time on March 16, 2010.

Quote from the video:

“We [in the West] have no idea. We have had the Word of God for so long. We have taken it for granted. We have resources, we have translations . . . and we don’t cherish it. We don’t realize what a precious gift we have and hold in our hands.”

Find out more about the Kimyal tribe of Indonesia here.

HT: The Gospel Coalition

Pay no attention the the government education professionals behind the curatin.

Here is a quote from a great article by Bruce Shortt writing for WorldNet Daily:

“Of course, evidence of catastrophic educational failure is always dismissed by highly trained education professionals by alternately screeching ‘socio-economic status’ and ‘demographics.’ These phrases are the education establishment’s equivalent of squid’s ink: When cornered by inconvenient facts, shouts of ‘socio-economic status’ and ‘demographics’ usually allow highly trained education professionals to create confusion and slip away quietly from embarrassing revelations about what they have done to the children entrusted to them.”

Read the entire article here.

Apologizing for believing a lie.

According to this article, an African pastor has apologized for believing and furthering Harold Camping’s false prophecy:

A pastor in Kasese District, who claimed the world would end on May 21, has apologised to residents. Pastor Isaac Muhindo, who has since early last year been moving around the district, spreading his doomsday massage, [sic] said he was ashamed of his act.

“I want to apologise to the people of Kasese and whoever heard my messages about the end of the world. I am very sorry for the inconveniences because I followed false prophets,” Pastor Muhindo said on Wednesday in his message sent to the media.

Many people in the district and the country at large spent the whole of Saturday waiting for the end of the world as presumed by Pastor Herold Camping, a California-based evangelist.

Camping’s followers had told people that at 6pm there would be an earthquake that would cause the world to end and usher in Judgment Day.

Repentance
Pastor Muhindo said: “I am ready to go back to my church and repent for misleading the people of God and I am now going to follow the scriptures seriously without wrong interpretations.”

Last year, Pastor Muhindo was denied airtime at most local radio stations in Kasese to preach his alleged end of the world on May 21.

Panic gripped some people in Kasese after the predicted doomsday was characterised by a heavy downpour that started at 2pm and ended after 7pm.

Ms Gertrude Masika, a shopkeeper in Kasese town, said she did not open her shop on May 21 out of fear that the world would end.

“I thought even customers could not come on that day and I decided to remain home because customers were unlikely to appear as they waited to see the end of the world,” she said.

Sadly, America has exported many of its homegrown cults to places such as Africa, and Harold Camping is no exception.

Thanks to the Africa Center for Apologetics Research for keeping us apprised of this news.

Quotes (883)

I notice that many here do not like the term “heretic.” There seems to be agreement that one must deny certain doctrines “essential to salvation” in order to be a heretic. This is very new thinking. Look, for example, at the definition in Webster’s Dictionary (1828):

1. A person under any religion, but particularly the Christian, who holds and teaches opinions repugnant to the established faith, or that which is made the standard of orthodoxy. In strictness, among Christians, a person who holds and avows religious opinions contrary to the doctrines of Scripture, the only rule of faith and practice.

2. Anyone who maintains erroneous opinions.

Hence, those ideas that elevate the standard by which one is considered heretical are actually a product of modern political correctness. I do, however, understand that our modern, feminized, extremely sensitive sensibilities are offended by name-calling of any kind (except the names we call insensitive, unkind “heresy hunters”), but that doesn’t change the fact that the term is accurate. In fact we are all “heretics” in some point of doctrine or other. That’s why we continue to search the Scriptures daily. I don’t know about you, but I desire to correct my heresies, not soften the blow by raising the bar so that I never feel the sting of the offensive title.

– Voddie Baucham

A new approach to evangelism and apologetics?

We’ve all experienced how Mormon apologists play the victim card anytime the truth about their organization and prophets are revealed:

“You’re picking on us.”

“You’re just anti-Mormon.”

“We never attack anyone’s faith like you do.”

“We have better things to do than attack other people’s faith like you.”

Well, apparently some Christian evangelists have taken these LDS accusations (as false as they are) to heart and have “cleverly” decided to tackle the soul-damning errors of this false religious system with a new and much more soft, cuddly, warm, and fuzzy approach.

Although this hug-evangelism is in retaliation to certain street preachers who they think are too mean, the “hugs not thugs” campaign is completely devoid of the gospel. Read more about this at Evidence Ministries

Perpetual spiritual infancy.

The Christian life is supposed to be one marked by sanctification and spiritual growth, but far too many in church–after years of being a Christian–are no further along in their faith than day one. Essentially they are still nursing on milk when they should be eating meat.

Churches too often make excuses for this lack of fruit in the lives of the masses of professing believers that fill pews on any given Sunday. Others simply pronounce “Judge not” if anyone dares to point out the problem.
But what if we could capture a glimpse of what this would look like in the physical realm? What if we could see with our eyes what this perpetual spiritual infancy looks like?

Wonder mo more. The man in this video could be the poster child for the average American churchgoer.

See related post: Gerber’s New Christian Baby Food

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When we consider the very being of God, we find ourselves so far from the true knowledge of it that we cannot come up with the right words and expressions. As we seek to meditate in our minds and frame thoughts about God as we do about other objects of thinking, we fall so far short that we make an idol in our mind and worship a god of our own making, and not the true God that has made us. We may as well hew Him out of wood or stone as form Him as a being in our minds, suited to our imaginations. The best thoughts of the being of God are ones in which we realize that we cannot truly comprehend Him as He is.

– John Owen

1616 – 1683

Sermon of the week: “Thou Shalt Not Steal” by Phil Johnson.

Your sermon of the week is Thou Shalt Not Steal by Phil Johnson. This is the next installment of Johnson’s series on the Ten Commandments that is being featured on DefCon every other week as your Sermon of the Week (on Thursdays).

Quotes (880)

Samuel Annesley We naturally love our ease, and would have nothing befall us that is grievous to flesh and blood; and gracious persons pray and strive to prevent and remove afflictions. But yet the experience of all, good and bad, in all ages of the world, proclaims this upon the housetops, that more have got good by afflictions than by being without them. . . . There is more danger in freedom from affliction than we are willing to suspect; and it is more difficult to love and fear and trust God when we have the world, than when we want it. . . . Why, then, is an afflicted condition to be preferred? Some that have had experience of both say that they have been afraid to be without their afflictions.

– Samuel Annesley

1620 – 1696

Sermon of the week: “Evaluating Youth Ministry – An Abolitionist’s View ” by Voddie Baucham.

Are you a YMA (youth ministry abolitionist)? Perhaps after  listening to this sermon by Voddie Baucham, entitled  Evaluating Youth Ministry: An Abolitionist’s View, you too will join the growing ranks of those who are abandoning the train wreck known as youth ministry and return to a family integrated model of biblical worship.

In this message delivered at the 2009 Sufficiency of Scripture Conference, Voddie outlines his three main objections to youth ministry as:

1). Age-segregated youth ministry usurps legitimate authority and responsibility.

2). Age-segregated youth ministry has not accomplished its own stated goals.

3). There is no clear biblical mandate for the current model of age-segregated youth ministry; it simply doesn’t exist. We don’t have our current model of age-segregated youth ministry because we went to the Bible and the Bible showed us clearly that this is how discipleship ought to be accomplished.

If you’re looking for additional information on the utter failure of (and the lack of any biblical teaching, example or precedent for) youth ministry, then check out the following sampling:

My thoughts on youth ministry and Vacation Bible School

Who’s pastoring the youth pastors?

The state of the youth of the church.

Youth ministry: A “50-year failed experiment.”

Why evangelism is so difficult in the United States.

Peanut butter salvation and other stupid church tricks.

Why does everything have to be dumbed down for kids?

The Gospel is supposed to be the stumbling block and offense, not our behavior.

Another church sanctuary turned into a stage for a worldly dance exhibition.



It Gets Worse for John Piper

Several posts at DefCon have detailed many of the concerns any Christian ought to have with the public behavior and pronouncements made by John Piper – here’s a search page showing them.

It keeps getting worse, as John Piper pursues public friendships with people who know not the gospel of Jesus Christ yet call themselves ministers of the gospel. People like Rick Warren.

What follows is an excerpt from a post from Ken Silva at Apprising.org at this page.

People of the living God – pay attention to the teaching you receive. Do not take anything from any man without testing it in light of the Word of God. Give no minister a pass on essential issues of the Christian faith, for many are deceived and many more will be. Mark those walk contrary to the Word of God and have nothing to do with them.

Here is part of Ken’s message – read the whole thing.

This was a Trojan Horse that squishy evanjellyfish leaders would bring into their own camp and then proved to be the vehicle from which this spurious spirituality, a romanticized version of the Counter Reformation (hello) spirituality of the apostate Roman Catholic Church, would be unloaded into the mainstream of the visible church, which such as these have been pawning off for years now as so-called Spiritual Formation. I’ve also pointed out it’s an incontrovertible fact that the main purveyors of CSM would be the Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster, along with Southern Baptist minister Dallas Willard; who is quite literally Foster’s spiritual twin.

In additon, in no uncertain terms I told you that it’s well past time for recognizing the inclusive, and increasingly universal, fruit of the Emerging Church and the spiritual skubalon of Foster-Willardism. Ok, but what does this have to do with John Piper? I’m glad you asked. Dr. Piper’s choice to advance Rick Warren into the Reformed camp has had the rippling effect of people, even outside of any discernment ministries, beginning to look a little closer at his theology, educational background, and associations; e.g. his charismatic bent, his connection to Fuller Theological Seminary, and with the late Ralph Winter.

I had received a tip from a source back in June of this past year; and as I followed up on it, it would eventually lead me to discover some disturbing information which I orginally began sharing in Questions Concerning Dr. John Piper and Dr. John Piper And Unanswered Questions. As I told you earlier this year in Mark Driscoll, Acts 29 Network, & The Emerging Church I have some serious reservations about so-called New Calvinism. And there’s very good reason for such concern as Mark Driscoll and his Acts 29 Network are growing in popularity and influence within the younger sector of the Reformed Camp; being blessed as they are by Dr. John Piper, who’s seen as a father of this New Calvinism.[3]

The Monstrosity of a Faith that is Alone

I am currently reading John Murray’s Redemption Accomplished and Applied published in 1955 by Eerdmans Publishing Company. This little book (180 pages) is an amazing dissertation on the meaning of the atonement, how it was accomplished, and how it is applied to sinful man. Murray, a Scottish theologian who died in 1975, spent most of his career at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.

In Part 2 of this book, Murray explains what he sees as a Biblical sequence, or order, of application of redemption. I highly recommend this little book.

He walks the reader through each of these sequential steps and explains how one follows the other with Biblical evidence. I was particularly struck with this section in the chapter under Justification and wanted to share with you and explain it further.

Quoted from page 131: “It is an old and time-worn objection that this doctrine ministers to license and looseness (he is speaking of the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ alone). Only those who know not the power of the gospel will plead such misconception. Justification is by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone.”

This is an argument we often hear and Murray challenges it strongly by claiming those who make this claim do not know the power of the gospel. Those who say that justification by faith alone will lead to a life of looseness, continued living in sin, and an attitude of living free have a point, but it is short sided in that they do not know how this same justifying faith powerfully changes the person.

Continuing with his quote: “Justification is not all that is embraced in the gospel of redeeming grace. Christ is a complete Savior and it is not justification alone that the believing sinner possesses in him. And faith is not the only response in the heart of him who has entrusted himself to Christ for salvation.”

So, the believer puts his faith and trust in Christ and then he is done?

Is he complete? Is his work finished or is more expected? Is there more to the story?

Murray points to the fact that there is more to the response of faith than just believing.

Will we go on sinning? Or will our lives be different?

Our faith cannot be alone, there must be a response of holiness and works of the faith along with their belief (James 2:17-20). But then does that mean we are saved by works? Not even close.

Continuing with the quote: “Faith alone justifies but a justified person with faith alone would be a monstrosity which never exists in the kingdom of grace. Faith works itself out through love (Gal. 5:6). And Faith without works is dead (James 2:17-20).”

The so called believer who has faith without works is a MONSTROSITY that can’t exist in the kingdom. Faith comes with works. Fruit will follow faith.

Are we without the response of holiness, service, and works of the faith?

Are we a deformed monster that is not actually part of the kingdom since faith cannot exist alone?

Are we living a lie?

Has there been a fruitful response to our belief?

More from Murray: “It is living faith that justifies and living faith unites to Christ both in the virtue of his death and in the power of his resurrection. No one has entrusted himself to Christ for deliverance from the guilt of sin who has not also entrusted himself to him for deliverance from the power of sin. What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”

Wow, do you hear that? No one has entrusted themselves to the deliverance of the GUILT of sin (i.e. forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ) who has not also entrusted themselves to the POWER OVER SIN…or in other terms the power given to us through our faith to NOT SIN. This is awesome. Shall we live in sin then since we are free not to? God forbid! Let it not be so! We must embrace and trust the power we have over sin that comes with our faith and justification in the eyes of God. Because we have faith we will fight the temptations that come and we will wage good warfare against sin (1 Tim 1:18-19). We will also love others, serve others, die to self, and give sacrificially because of our faith. We possess these things as an integral part of our faith. It is the natural response to our faith.

Examine yourself as I examine myself. Are we mutant Christians who have a dead faith because it is without works? Are you a monstrosity in the kingdom of God?

May 21, 2011 . . . much to do about nothing.

Since Harold Camping is once again predicting Judgment Day to arrive on a specific day (a day that even the Son does not know), I figured I’d turn on Family Radio this past Monday to see how those expecting the world to end in less than a week would spend their valuable air time.

Besides playing a lot of music, they had a vignette on how to help your children to stop focusing on the needs of today and instead look further into the future at bigger things like college and career, and they even had a radio appeal for more financial donors to help keep the radio station broadcasting.

I found all that to be very odd. Less than a week before the demise of the world and Family Radio is worried about finances to keep the station on the air and concerned about telling you how to get your kids to focus on their future?

Did I miss something?

And then there was the music. I don’t know about you, but if I knew that Christ was returning for His bride in less than a week, I’d be using the airways to deliver the Gospel message of repentance and faith, not playing music.

I wonder why the nonchalant approach toward such an impending day of doom. Do they not even take themselves seriously?

Could Christ return on May 21, 2011? Absolutely, for He told us to keep watch because He will indeed return. But not only did He say that no man knows the time of His return (Matthew 24:36), He also said He will come at an hour when we least expect Him (Luke 12:40).

ABC News has a piece on some Atheists who are taking this Sunday’s event more serious than Camping’s own radio station, even if it’s only to line their own pockets with the money of the gullible. Here’s a quote from the article:

Wondering about the fate of your pets after Judgment Day?
Well, for $135, a loving atheist will care for your animal if you’re not around anymore.

Eternal Earthbound Pets offers a service to rescue and take care of pets once their owners have been taken away to the heavenly realms.  Though doomsayers say this Saturday will be the latest day of reckoning that’s not expected to leave animals behind either.

Bart Centre of New Hampshire, co-owner of the pet business, launched it in June 2009. He has zero belief in Judgment Day, but began to see an increase in sales inquiries in December, which, he believes, is related to Family Radio’s heavy marketing campaign around the May 21 date.

The retired retail executive said he has sold 258 contracts so far.

ABC News also has a brief piece by Calvin Lawrence Jr. (reprinted below) on past judgment days that have come and gone, including predictions by the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Chuck Smith (yes, the Chuck Smith of the Calvary Chapel™ franchise).

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

The Bible couldn’t be clearer, right there in the Book of Matthew: chapter 24, verse 36.

But doomsayers have sworn since at least Roman times that they’re better sourced than the angels themselves, boldly trotting out predictions down to the day for the Final Judgment, when, Christians believe, Jesus will descend to earth and set off a chain of events resulting in the end of the world and a new heaven.

May 21, 2011, is the latest attempt to get a jump on Judgment Day, courtesy of Oakland, Calif.-based Family Radio, a nonprofit evangelical Christian group. And, assuming we’re all here to follow up, it will make a nice addition on May 22 to this random list of predicted Second Comings we’ve survived so far.

1. Let’s start with Family Radio, whose president, Harold Camping, predicted the End of Days before: Sept. 6, 1994. Camping had been “thrown off a correct calculation because of some verses in Matthew 24,” a company spokesman told ABC News this month.

The Christian radio broadcaster is apparently more confident this time around, spending big bucks on 5,000 billboards, posters, fliers and digital bus displays across the country.

2. Edgar Whisenant didn’t get it right the first time, either, when he predicted a mid-September 1988 Rapture, even publishing the books “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988” and “On Borrowed Time.” No Apocalypse, no problem. The former NASA engineer simply pushed his predictions off to three subsequent years and wrote books along the way, none of which reportedly sold as well as the first two.

He died in 2001. We’re unable to confirm where he’s awaiting the big day.

3. Jehovah’s Witnesses first anticipated the end of times in 1914, now noting on their official website that “not all that was expected to happen in 1914 did happen, but it did mark the end of the Gentile Times and was a year of special significance.”

4. In the century before, renowned New England Baptist minister William Miller triggered what ultimately became known as the “great disappointment” after his failed prophesies that Christ would return sometime between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844, and then on Oct. 22, 1844.

5. More recently, Pastor John Hinkle of Christ Church Los Angeles told a Trinity Broadcasting Network audience that the “most cataclysmic experience that the world has ever known since the Resurrection … is going to happen,” according to the Christian Research Institute, which is home to “Bible Answer Man.”

Hinkle said God, “in the most awesome voice,” told him that “on Thursday, June the ninth [1994], I will rip the evil out of this world.”

You might have missed it, however, because the prophesy came to pass invisibly, he said, according to the Christian Research Institute.

6. Chuck Smith, the prolific author and senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa in California, turned to scripture and simple math to prepare his flock for the Tribulation. “If I understand Scripture correctly, Jesus taught us that the generation which sees he ‘budding of the fig tree,’ the birth of the nation Israel, will be the generation that see the Lords return,” he wrote in his book “End Times” (1978). “I believe that the generation 1948 is the last generation. Since a generation of judgment is forty years and the Tribulation period lasts seven years, I believe the Lord could come back for His Church any time before the Tribulation starts, which would mean any time before 1981. (1948+40-7=1981).”

“I could be wrong,” he wrote in “Future Survival” (1978), “but it’s a deep conviction in my heart, and all my plans are predicated upon that belief.”

Smith was wrong and has not only abandoned his prophesying ways but since has looked askance at others who have gone down that road.

“The Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, thought the world was sure to end in 1914,” Smith wrote in his book “Dateline Earth: Countdown to Eternity” (1989). “When it didn’t happen, they merely moved the date up a few years.”

7. The prophetic-sounding year 2000 inspired too many doomsday predictions to list here. Suffice it to say that, in hindsight, there was really no need to party like it was 1999.