Monday, September 26, 2005

I can't wait!

College could keep me quiet for a whole month?? WOW!

Here's a boost for those of you in Monday rut:

And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, "Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed."
(Rev 15:3-4)

I can't wait!

Friday, August 26, 2005

College-bound!

Well, tomorrow's the day! Tomorrow morning I leave for the first time from my shell also known as the home. It will be sobering not being able to just get up and go eat my raisin bran in the same building! I am getting very excited about the ministry and witnessing possibilities there, and I pray that in all of it God will remain central, supreme, glorious, and treasured above all things. I would covet your prayers in all these areas as we venture through the wilderness of Wisconsin and somehow wind up in Madison!
God bless you all and thanks for reading,
-Ben

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Pat Robertson: Assassin?

Read all about it here.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Missions

In light of my previous posts regarding this topic, I'm very interested in any of your knowledge in the area of missions. I'm planning to read "Let the Nations Be Glad" by John Piper, but apart from that I'm not sure where to look, what organizations to research, and any other factors that I have not considered about mission work. Please give your comments, as they would be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks!
-Ben

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Will we go?


I just finished reading "Don't Waste Your Life" written by John Piper. You may read other reviews of this book if you are interested, as I will not review it in depth. If you become curious in any way about what God is calling you to do to not waste your life, then, by any means you can, grab this book and READ! The chapter that challenged me the most was undoubtedly the next to last one--entitled "The Majesty of Christ in Missions and Mercy--A Plea to This Generation". As the title alludes, this chapter is about missions, the core of Piper's blazing passion for spreading a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ. Along with John, I pray that indeed the Great Commission proclaimed by Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20 would be accomplished in this generation. It is with much trembling and awe that I present the very words of Jesus to all of those who see and savor and treasure and exult in Jesus Christ:

"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."

We examine this command of Jesus piece by piece. There is no doubt that He calls us to "Go"! Go! Not wait and see if the weather will hold out or inquire if ample shelter will be provided or ask if you will be accepted. Go! Go! Go!--"Go therefore" means that something was said beforehand that should prompt us to "Go". Let's see what that thing is:

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore...
(Mat 28:16-19)

To me, this warms my heart with joy and gladness! Jesus Christ is in control! He has set the way in which I am to go and has prepared a table before me so that I may feed upon Him and in so doing make disciples of all the peoples He places before me. It is not an easy calling, and as Dietrich Bonhoeffer plainly stated, "When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die." Are we then to fear for our lives and be troubled by those who persecute and even kill us? "No" says the Lord.

Mat 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

In closing, I will quote the most moving portion of the book "Don't Waste Your Life" written by John Piper (pg. 126-129). By it, I have taken serious evaluation and have also taken to much prayer about the Lord's calling in my life. Oh may He desire for me to be a good and faithful servant doing all I can, by the strength and grace given me by God, to fulfill the call of Christ Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20. May the Holy Spirit move in you as He moved through me when I read these words.

Where Are the Young Radicals for Christ?
When I stand, as it were, on the shores of Iwo Jima and let myself reenact those hours of courage and sacrifice, and remember that they were young, I cannot make peace with the petty preoccupations of most American life. One of them was really young. I read his story and wanted to speak to every youth group in America and say, Do you want to see what cool is? Do you want to see something a thousand times more impressive than a triple double? Well, listen up about Jacklyn Lucas.

"He'd fast-talked his way into the Marines at fourteen, fooling the recruits with his muscled physique....Assigned to drive a truck in Hawaii, he had grown frustrated; he wanted to fight. He stowed away on a transport out of Honolulu, surviving on food passed along to him by sympathetic leathernecks on board.
He landed on D-Day [at Iwo Jima] without a rifle. He grabbed one lying on the beach and fought his way inland.
Now, on D+1, Jack and three comrades were crawling through a trench when eight Japanese sprang in front of them. Jack shot one of them through the head. Then his rifle jammed. As he struggled with it a grenade landed at his feet. He yelled a warning to the others and rammed the grenade into the soft ash. Immediately, another rolled in. Jack Lucas, seventeen, fell on both grenades. "Luke, you're gonna die," he remembered thinking....
Aboard the hospital ship Samaritan the doctors could scarcely believe it. "Maybe he was too damned young and too damned tough to die," one said. He endured twenty-one reconstructive operations and became the nation's youngest Medal of Honor winner--and the only high school freshman to receive it."

As I read that, I thought of all the things that high school kids think is cool. I sat on the porch where I was reading and thought, O God, who will get in their face and give them something to live for? They waste their days in a trance of insignificance, trying to look cool or talk cool or walk cool. They don't have a clue what cool is.
One more story to clarify what is cool. It's about Ray dollins, a fighter pilot at Iwo Jima.

"The first wave of amtracs headed for shore. The Marine fighter planes were finishing up their low strafing runs. And as the last pilot began to pull his Corsair aloft, Japanese sprang to their guns and riddled the plane with flak. The pilot, Major Ray Dollins, tried to gain altitude as he headed out over the ocean so as to avoid a deadly crash into the Marines headed for the beach, but his plane was too badly damaged. Lieutenant Keith Wells watched it from the amtrac.... "We could see him in the cockpit," Wells said, "and he was trying everything. He was heading straight down for a group of approaching 'tracs filled with Marines. At the last second he flipped the plane over on its back and aimed it into the water between two waves of tanks. We watched the water exploding into the air."
Military personnel listening to the flight radio network from the ships could not only see Dollins go down; they could hear his last words into his microphone. They were a defiant parody.
'Oh, what a beautiful morning,
Oh, what a beautiful day,
I've got a terrible feeling
Everything's coming my way.'"

Of course, we do not use the word cool to describe true greatness. It is a small word. That's the point. It's cheap. And it's what millions of young people live for. Who confronts them with urgency and tears? Who pleads with them not to waste their lives? Who takes them by the collar, so to speak, and loves them enough to show them a life so radical and so real and so costly and Christ-saturated that they feel the emptiness and triviality of their CD collection and their pointless conversations about passing celebrities? Who will waken what lies latent in their souls, untapped--a longing not to waste their lives?

My Heart's Plea
Oh, that young and old would turn off the television, take a long walk, and dream about feats of courage for a cause ten thousand times more important than American democracy--as precious as that is. If we would dream and if we would pray, would not God answer? Would he withhold from us a life of joyful love and mercy and sacrifice that magnifies Christ and makes people glad in God? I plead with you, as I pray for myself, set your face like flint to join Jesus on the Calvary road. "Let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come" (Hebrews 13:13-14). When they see our sacrificial love--radiant with joy--will they not say, "Christ is great"?

John Piper, Don't Waste Your Life (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2003), 126-129. If the publisher desires that these pages taken from "Don't Waste Your Life" be removed, please contact me and I will do so as soon as possible.
Lord, let that ring true, if it be your will, for me and all those who seek You in this generation and in generations to come. Satisfy our souls with Your awesome greatness. Let us be salt and light to a world entranced in worthless things and let us prize You so much that people will see You through us and say "Christ is great." In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

-Ben

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Guarding the Gospel

Alistair Begg has preached a much needed sermon recently which speaks clearly and passionately about reclaiming Christ in the Gospel. It couldn't have come at a better time for me, as I seek more knowledge of Christ. I have sought out many apologetics sites and I have not been edified by one. I felt something was wrong about this, about all these arguments that are merely an attempt to display all the greatness and the knowledge we've gained. How selfish I have been! I have sought out to know Christ and instead of filling my worship with Him crucified, I seek mere knowledge and no relationship with Him! My heart was totally absent from Christ when my mind was bent on finding out why a particular religious group was wrong or why some interpretation was wrong. Indeed, we fill our heads with knowledge but we do not achieve godliness. Oh Lord, let me be passionate for You alone and for the preservation of Your gospel and its proclamation in all the world! Let me not seek superficial knowledge and dangerous arguing that can lead me away from godliness in You. Guard my heart as I abide in You, Lord!

-->Here's a link to the streaming audio of the sermon.

If this sermon interests you, I highly recommend the article "Wife Beaters: Good Men Misguided In The Wrong Battle" by Anthony Bradley.

Let me know your thoughts.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Propositions for Today's Church (Part 1)

"When someone acts weak, negligent, or casual in a duty—performing it carelessly or lifelessly, without any genuine satisfaction, joy, or interest—he has already entered into the spirit that will lead him into trouble. How many we see today who have departed from warmhearted service and have become negligent, careless, and indifferent in their prayer life or in the reading of the Scriptures. For each one who escapes this peril, a hundred others will be ensnared. Then it may be too late to acknowledge, 'I neglected private prayer,' or 'I did not meditate on God's Word,' or 'I did not hear what I should have listened to.' "

-John Owen
The church today is falling asleep. Sound doctrines are not being taught. The church seems to mirror the world more and more every day. Second Timothy is as relevant to our day and age as ever:
2Ti 4:3-4 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, (4) and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths

Indeed this has always been true in the church, and will be so until Christ comes in full glory.

What can we learn from these things? I have a few propositions for churches today:
  1. Reclaim expository preaching.
    Expository preaching is essential for every believer and is useful for both believers and those who do not yet believe. We all need to be hearers of God's Word for there is great power in the hearing and resulting doing of His Word, by His grace. According to 2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (17) that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." Worship today has become less and less focused on the very words of God and instead focuses on the "itching ears" as described above. Pulpits are not for pep talks!

    If you'd like further reading on this topic, I highly recommend the article "Fifteen Evil Consequences of Plexiglass Preaching" written by John MacArthur.

  2. Reclaim doctrinal soundness.
    Hell is real. This world and this nation does not belong to the Christian, it is satan's world. He is the master of all things here and that is why First John 5:19 says "We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one." God calls us to, as Romans 12:2 says, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." Oh the dangers lingering in our church when we ignore teaching and warning about the reality of hell for those who do not believe in Jesus Christ and walk in His ways. Watered-down doctrine to appease the tastes of a congregation is not loving the congregation. It is being downright cruel! Don't preach what sells, preach the Truth!

  3. Show children Christ crucified, not striped candy.
    I hear all too often of the "fun times" at youth groups. Boy they have a blast going there for hours on end, playing their Xboxes, Playstation 2s, and all other sorts of fun things. Games, movies, videos, television, rap music, hard rock, skateboarding, hopscotch! Return to preaching, as First Corinthians 2:2 says, "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." Paul didn't show them how fun it was to be a Christian and all the games and gab and muscle and flash and glitz and partying. He did not waver in his preaching of Christ alone, and Him crucified. If we have to resort to fun games and distractions, what is that saying about the power of Christ Jesus? I have heard it explained best by AW Tozer:

    The Church: The Striped Candy Technique

    And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and
    fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
    --Acts 2:42

    "Without Biblical authority, or any other right under the sun, carnal religious leaders have introduced a host of attractions that serve no purpose except to provide entertainment for the retarded saints.

    It is now common practice in most evangelical churches to offer the people, especially the young people, a maximum of entertainment and a minimum of serious instruction. It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction is God. One can only conclude that God's professed children are bored with Him, for they must be wooed to meeting with a stick of striped candy in the form of religious movies, games and refreshments.

    This has influenced the whole pattern of church life, and even brought into being a new type of church architecture, designed to house the golden calf.

    So we have the strange anomaly of orthodoxy in creed and heterodoxy in practice. The striped candy technique has been so fully integrated into our present religious thinking that it is simply taken for granted. Its victims never dream that it is not a part of the teachings of Christ and His apostles."

    Man: The Dwelling Place of God, 135,136.

  4. LOVE!
  5. John 13:34-35 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. (35) By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

    There is no greater commandment than to love! Mark 12:30-31 "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' (31) The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

    Paul teaches us in First Corinthians 13 what love is, all things that are fruits of the Spirit, but are we displaying it day by day? Oh let this be our prayer, by the grace of God: Leviticus 19:18 "You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD." Love your neighbor as yourself. What does that truly mean? Are we to be lovers of self? No. Christ already assumes that we love ourselves, Ephesians 5:29-30 "For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, (30) because we are members of his body."

John Piper summarizes it best in his sermon entitled "The Greatest of These is Love":
"It is a very radical command. It cuts to the root of sin, called pride. Remember, this root of pride that gives rise to all other sins, is the passion to be happy (self-love) contaminated and corrupted by two things: 1) the unwillingness to see God as the only fountain of true and lasting joy, and 2) the unwillingness to see other people as designed by God to receive our joy in him. But that is exactly the contamination and corruption of self-love that Jesus counteracts in these two commandments. In the first commandment he focuses the passion to be happy firmly on God and God alone. In the second commandment he opens a whole world of expanding joy in God and says: people, human beings, everywhere you find them, are designed to receive and enlarge your joy in God. Love them the way you love yourself. Show them, give them—through every practical means available—what you have found for yourself in God."
May this humble offering bring great glory to God and also renew your passion and zeal for His supremacy in all things and in all peoples through Jesus Christ.

Seeking life in the death of Christ Jesus together with you all,
-Ben