Friday, July 31, 2009
The appendix is “a list of sins so often called something else but sins and hence not confessed, i.e., they are not called the same thing as God calls them.”
- cheating on a test or term paper
- reporting work done that has not, in fact, been done
- false reporting on income tax blanks
- padding expense accounts
- breaking civil laws, such as the traffic laws
- unfaithfulness to one’s marriage vows
- shoplifting or taking things from one’s employer
- robbery of time from an employer
- robbery from employees by paying poor wages
- fits of temper
- lack of Bible study and meditation
- neglect of church attendance and support of the church in other ways
- harming the body
- refusal to forgive a wrongdoer or an enemy
- lack of tithing and giving to God
Thursday, July 30, 2009
The book is a rich read, and it is encouragement at the soul level, and it is a wonderful book even without the prayers.
But the prayers are the icing on the cake. (I suppose that metaphor only works if you like icing, unlike my wife, but that's another story--I think you know what I mean.)
I sometimes pull the book off the shelf just to pray 1 or 2 of the prayers.
Here's the prayer at the end of ch. 1.
O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, "Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away." Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
How many times since reading this prayer have I prayed, "I want to want You more."
(Read the whole book online, or just look at the prayers at the end of each chapter.)
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Look at some things he did say (some promises we don't like to claim):
ð In John 16:33, Jesus promises trouble: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
ð In Acts 14:22, the Bible promises hardships: [Paul and Barnabas strengthened the disciples and encouraged] them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.
ð In 2 Timothy 3:12, the Bible promises persecution: In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
ð In 1 Thessalonians 3:3, the Bible promises trials: You know quite well that we were destined for [trials].
Sara and I read a book about Christianity in China. During the cultural revolution, several pastors and lay Christians were arrested because of their faith.
ð Wang Mingdao: imprisoned 1958-1980 (22 yrs)
ð His wife: 1958-1975 (17 yrs)
ð Allen Yuan: 1958-1979 (21 yrs)
ð Samuel Lamb: 1958-1978 (20 yrs)
ð Moses Xie: 1956-1979 (23 yrs)
And there were others; not only imprisoned, but also tortured. But God used their testimony and their imprisonment to build his church in China to the point where it is one of the fastest growing churches in the world today, and it is still underground.
Don’t get upset with God the moment your life isn’t comfortable. He didn’t say it would be.
Remember Shadrach and his friends (Daniel 3)? They were believers, and they were about to be burned in an enormous furnace because they refused to bow down to an idol that a foreign king had built. They told the king, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, . . . we will not serve your gods” (Daniel 3:17-18).
Do you see what they said: “But even if he does not”?! These guys understood that God hasn’t promised a rose garden life. Actually, he has—the next life. But not this one.
Abandon this notion that sailing with Christ is always going to be on smooth waters.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Also, why are they calling for a slow-down on medical innovation?
And why are they saying that Americans expect too much--like private hospital rooms, conveniently located doctors' offices, and relatively attractive waiting rooms?
This 2-page article, by someone who has read the bills being proposed, is an eye-opening read.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
9 Reasons I Don't Believe the Health & Wealth Preachers' Claim That If You Had Enough Faith You Would Be Healed
“You have a covenant with Almighty God, and one of your covenant rights is the right to a healthy body.” --Kenneth Copeland
“He promises to heal all--every one, any, any whatsoever, everything--all our diseases! That means not even a headache, sinus problem, not even a toothache--nothing! No sickness should come your way.” --Benny Hinn
But I disagree.
1. Epaphroditus was ill, and the fact that he, this minister of God, was healed was an act of "mercy" and not because health was his divine right (Php 2:27).
2. Paul doesn't rebuke his frequently ill co-worker Timothy for his lack of faith, but offers him some medical advice instead: "Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses" (1 Tim 5:23).
3. "I left Trophimus sick in Miletus" (2 Tim 4:20). Paul healed many (Acts 19:11-12; 28:8-9). Why didn't he heal Trophimus?
4. For that matter, why didn't he heal himself of the famed "thorn" (2 Cor 12:7-10)? Oh, because God didn't want to heal him. So are we to conclude Paul was deficient in the faith department? I don't think so.
5. Faith healers get sick and die. Kenneth Hagin is dead, and so is Hobart Freeman, to name a couple.
6. Consider the phenomenal ministry of Joni Eareckson Tada, and it all stems from her diving accident and subsequent paralysis.
7. Steve Brown has suggested a theory that every time an unbeliever gets cancer, God allows a Christian to also get it, just to show the world the difference.
8. David, the man after God's own heart, Abraham, the friend of God, and Moses, the man who spoke with God face-to-face, are all dead. (But truly they are very much alive in the presence of God.)
9. Suffering and illness are some of God's most powerful tools in the maturing of his people. "Religious contentment is the enemy of the spiritual life always. The biographies of the saints teach that the way to spiritual greatness has always been through much suffering and inward pain." (A. W. Tozer, The Divine Conquest 124-25)
Friday, July 24, 2009
Father, help me steer between the extremes of busyness and laziness. Help me not to merely work and not pray. Help me not to merely pray and not work. But help me to give myself both to prayer and work (1 Th 5:17; 1 Cor 15:58).
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
--Norman Thomas, (1884-1968) six-time U.S. Presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America. Taken from an interview during the 1948 presidential campaign.
(Source: Micah Clark, Indiana American Family Association)
Neither their silver nor their gold
will be able to save them
on the day of the LORD's wrath.
In the fire of his jealousy
the whole world will be consumed,
for he will make a sudden end
of all who live in the earth. (1:18 NIV)
Silver and gold won't save? Not to worry, according to the apostle Peter:
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (1 Pt 1:18-19 NIV)
Praise the Lord that when God's wrath incinerates the earth, we who have been covered by something much more precious than silver or gold won't burn up.
Both books comment on Lloyd-Jones' opinion of Tozer and not the reverse.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Eventually, some in the congregation thought it was time for the church to move. Tozer was against it.
But there was not only pressure from the inside. There was also some from the outside.
Many African-Americans in the area made it clear that they were not interested in multi-racial church and that they wanted Tozer's congregation to sell the building to them and move out.
Several people aware of the congregation's situation wrote Tozer and urged him not to move the church because it would indicate a compromise of the gospel, in which there is not male or female, or even black or white.
Tozer responded to one such letter.
... it would be perfectly all right to have half our church members be colored. It would not bother me in the slightest. In fact, I think I should enjoy it.
However, the facts are these: The colored march on the South Side is a determined thing. The colored people do not want to integrate with the whites. They want the whites to get out, and they are saying so in no uncertain terms. The failure to integrate is not the result of reservation on the part of our people but on the part of the colored people themselves. They have had at least one parade declaring their intention to take over Englewood and Brainerd, and have passed around dodgers in the apartment houses around our church demanding that white people get out and let the colored people come in.
This puts quite another face on the whole matter, as you will undoubtedly agree. Please continue to pray. (Lyle Dorsett, A Passion for God 149)
Of course, the blacks were not trusting of the whites at that time, and perhaps with good reason. So there were a variety of reasons that made it difficult for Tozer's church to remain where it was. (And I encourage you to read Dorsett's broader description of the matter, pp. 147-151.)
In the end the church moved, and Tozer resigned, unwilling to go through another building campaign.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
"Bless you prison, bless you, for being in my life, for there, lying on the rotting prison floor, I came to realize that the object of life is not prosperity, as we are made to believe, but the maturing of the human soul."
Solzhenitsyn was imprisoned under Stalin for almost a decade.
I as a pastor am always trying through teaching and preaching to get my church family to understand that.
I as a Christian am striving to get myself to understand that. I do, to a degree, but that degree is not far enough.
The maturing of the soul comes only through communion with Christ. Php 3:7-11 became very meaningful to me last week in my prayer time. I rephrased some of the text into parallel desires:
I am dissatisfied with my relation to Christ. There's too much of me and not enough of him. I want him to come. "If anyone is thirsty", he says (Jn 7:37). I am thirsty.
"If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him" (Lk 11:13). I ask, Lord, for your Holy Spirit. Give to me richly and powerfully.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
The question is, do we keep these distinctives, or not?
Writing from our 20th biennial General Conference, it would seem that we as a denomination are moving away from requiring the pre-trib view and the sinless perfection view.
On the other hand, we just affirmed a change in our article of faith on sanctification, but it still maintained the crisis view.
And we are currently maintaining our affirmation of Arminianism, and of our distinctives cited above, this is the one we are most strongly affirming, because it is currently in our core affirmations (for pastors to eventually sign annually). (See previous post.)
I understand wanting to preserve our distinctives and our heritage, but I do not think it is a worthy goal. These are secondary doctrines in my book (as opposed to the primary, non-negotiable doctrines, like the Trinity, salvation by grace through faith, and the 2nd Advent).
Let's rally around the primary doctrines and get on with ministry. Let's discuss the secondary doctrines and sharpen one another, but let's not exclude brothers in Christ because they hold a different interpretation of Scripture that is still within the realm of orthodoxy.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
The challenge has been coming up with those core beliefs. This has been a work in process for 4 years. This year a set of statements came before General Conference, and much discussion ensued.
What are the core beliefs, the minimums we require pastors to affirm? Essentially, I would look for the primary doctrines, those doctrines that are non-negotiable. I would not want secondary doctrines in this, doctrines over which good Christians can disagree and still be good Christians.
So here are some of the interesting points of the document that came to us this week.
With regards to eschatology (doctrine of last things, or end times), not only do pastors not have to sign on to a particular tribulation view (pre, post, or mid), but they do not even have to sign on to a premillenial view. Very surprising, though not unwelcome in my view.
With regards to anthropology (doctrine of man), included in the core values is an affirmation of the sanctity of life as well as a commitment to heterosexual marriage only. Some have a problem with statements touching abortion and homosexuality in our core values, but I don't. I think we need to address hot button issues that could put pressure on pastors to conform or compromise.
Then there's the Arminian-Calvinist issue, and the current document forces pastors to affirm the Arminian view of salvation. After working with a Calvinist for several years, attending a seminary where there was mix of Arminian and Calvinist profs, and attending a few years another church where the pastor was Arminian and many of the elders were Calvinists, I don't see this issue as a primary issue, but a secondary doctrine. I would like to see it struck. As someone said, why can't we just say that Missionary Church pastors believe that people are saved by grace through faith?
The document has been referred back to the Constitution Committee and the district conferences for more discussion.
The reality is we have a lot of Calvinist pastors in the Missionary Church even though the denomination is historically Arminian. So how will current pastors sign on to such a document every year? In good conscience, they cannot. I know one who plans simply to line out the one statement with which he does not agree and sign the document, if it actually comes to that.
Then it will be up to the Missionary Church to enforce however they see fit. And if they decide to remove a Calvinist pastor, will the church affected go along with the denomination, or will they decide to leave the denomination in order to keep their pastor? The answer could go either way in this age of diminished denominational authority.
For now we have two more years of deliberation.
PS We heard a sermon today at Conference by an Arminian pastor who cited in his sermon both John Piper and Tim Keller, Calvinists.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Tozer did Spiritual Emphasis Week services at my alma mater, Fort Wayne Bible College, in 1948 and 1954. (And no, I wasn't there at the time to hear him speak.)
Also, "Ira Gerig served with Tozer for a year and a half from 1942 until mid-1943 and he, too, was encouraged and given constructive guidance. He pointed out [in a letter dated 2/20/99] that the Christian and Missionary Alliance saw Tozer's giftedness in teaching and encouraging young pastors. Therefore, they occasionally scheduled daylong sessions for the Chicago pastor to simply pass on some of his wisdom to the new generation of ministers" (134).
Ira Gerig served at the Bible College for several years in the music department. He was my piano teacher for a few years while I was at the college, and he also played the organ for our wedding.
While I was at the piano the whole time for each lesson, we weren't always talking about the piano. Part of the time I spent listening to his wisdom and opinions about different ministry-related things. And I believe I did hear once that he served with Tozer for a time.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
He had a jovial personality. He was well-chosen to dress as Santa Claus for school Christmas assemblies.
Two specific memories: When illustrating what a scientific theory was (a theory being stronger than a hypothesis because it had the strength of multiple tests behind it ... I think), he told us of "Carrier's Theory of Yeller Buses." The theory stated that anytime you were in his classroom and looked out the windows, you would see yellow buses. That was true, because his window looked out upon one of FWCS's bus garages.
The other memory is Mr. Carrier's favorite pun. It had to do with barium on the periodic table, atomic weight 56. When Elmhust was due to play basketball or football on a given night, often Mr. Carrier would say, "Class, what are we going to do to [South Side] tonight? 56!" And we would respond appropriately: "Barium!"
If you like, read the obituary.
- I am occasionally anxious about how well I'm doing as a father and husband. Comparing myself to Tozer gives me some encouragement.
- The most important decision a person has to make is to follow Christ. The fact that all 7 of Tozer's kids followed Jesus is good. It probably happened despite Tozer, but maybe not.
- A. W.'s relationship with Ada will be/is healed in Paradise/Heaven.
- If they had been in the same generation, I wonder what Tozer would have thought of James Dobson and Focus on the Family.
- While his relative neglect of his wife and children seems in my mind a huge flaw, it does not mean that he didn't get anything right. His anointing and his character were profound, and I will still read him with great profit.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
I was stunned and sorry to hear of Jackson's death. I liked his music when I was growing up. "Thriller" was my favorite, and I often caught myself singing "Bad." "Man in the Mirror" was overplayed for my taste, though. I still enjoy his music: On one of my Christmas CDs The Jackson 5 sing "Up on the Housetop," and Michael's voice stands out and is a treat to listen to.
The guy was a genius in his field. He seemed to be able to stay out ahead of the curve musically.
But outside of his field, he was mixed up, and the signs were obvious--from black to white, from man to almost woman, the numerous plastic surgeries, the child/sex thing, Jehovah's Witness, short-lived marriage to Presley, the surrogate mother thing, Neverland Ranch, etc.
I feel sorry for him because, assuming the news I read is true, he was abused and exploited growing up. He appeared to be searching for meaning, happiness, truth.
I feel sorry for him, but at the same time I am not unaware that God gives to us all light, and if we walk in the light we have, he will give us more, eventually confronting us with the love and demands of Christ. If Michael Jackson goes to a Christless eternity, he does not go as a victim; he goes as one who could've known Christ, but his choices led him away from that.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Here are some tidbits about the Christian and Missionary Alliance's most famous preacher:
Born 4/21/1897 and grew up in the hills of Pennsylvania
Family moved to Akron, OH, where Tozer went to work as young man for Goodrich for a while and later for Goodyear
Saved at the age of 17 (first one in his family)
Married a godly woman, but was inattentive to his wife the duration of their long marriage
Had 6 sons and 1 daughter, and all of them never felt any intimacy from their father
Loved to shoot rifles and was a good shot at that
His passion was knowing Christ; his second passion was books, and he read widely
Pastored in OH, WV, Indianapolis, Chicago for a while, and also Toronto
Loved to study and preach, but he disdained pastoral visitation and he would not greet his parishioners at the end of a service
Had no regard for money; often requested his boards that they not give him a raise; often returned half of his pay as a contribution to the church; and all this despite the fact that his wife for much of her life had a difficult time keeping the family of 9 fed and clothed
Took one family vacation at the insistence of his daughter and was sour the whole time that the family never vacationed with him again.
Did not visit his relatives and was somewhat put out when they came to visit him
In many ways he had zeal for his own house but he undermined his own.
His wife commented after his death and her subsequent marriage: "I have never been happier in my life. Aiden [A. W.] loved Jesus Christ, but Leonard Odam loves me."
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
An anecdote. I shared this at my other blog, but I'll share it here, too, for those of you who can only stomach one blog from me. While at CDYC, a kid in the dorm wanted to play me ping-pong, so I played him. He was not from our church. The next day, he said to Phil, our 27-year-old youth director, "I want a rematch with your dad." Phil laughed and said, "He's not my dad." The kid then said, in absolute seriousness, "With your grandpa, then." Hmmm. Apparently I look older than 40.