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Archive for May, 2010

Maureen and I were on our prayer walk yesterday, praying for our church (South Hills Community Church) and among the many things we prayed for, I prayed for a moment that we would not be a complaining church, but a praying church.

And at that moment, this thought came to me: “turn your complaining into praying.”

This is a lesson the Lord taught me many years ago (and has had to remind me of many times): instead of complaining about a person or a situation, pray instead (for yourself, first, and then for the person or situation).

By praying instead of complaining, I learned to trust God more. Put another way, I have to ask myself this question: do I really believe God can change the situation? If I do, I’ll pray; if I do not, I’ll complain.

In effect, my complaining or praying is a barometer of where my heart is at; it is a measuring line of how much I trust Him.

A few days ago I came across Prov. 15:29: “The LORD is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayers of the righteous.”

God is honored when we trust Him in prayer and His Word contains so many promises like the one above that He really does listen and answer us when we pray!

Are you encouraged by this blog?

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Bioethicist Peter Singer invokes Darwinism to make the claim that there is no essential difference between people and animals.  As such, animals should be given the same rights that people have.

He argues that since man is the product of evolution and not special creation by God, then the entire structure of Judeo-Christian morality is discredited.

As a consequence, abortion, euthanasia and infanticide all become permissible and in some cases, desirable [Peter Singer, A Darwinian Left: Politics, Evolution, and Cooperation (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000)].

Such a Neanderthal view (pun intended) is merely right out of the playbook of one of the most wicked philosophers of modern times — Friedrich Nietzsche — who fancied himself an “immoralist.”

Nietzsche is famous for writing of the death of God — not so much that He actually died — but that man justly killed Him in order to win for himself the freedom to make his own morality.

And what would that look like? Nietzsche answers that question with his famous “will to power” statement: the strong (read evolution) get to rule over the weak, no matter what the cost.

By removing God from life, there is no more morality from above — only that which those in power legislate. Thus, all appeals to dignity, compassion and equality no longer apply.

The entire purpose of this is to remove human guilt, enabling us to live beyone “good and evil,” which requires a remaking of morality, what he calls “transvaluation.”

This playing and twisting of words is quite popular in postmodern writing and philosophy: no moral absolutes.

Another atheist and evolutionist, Steven Pinker, advocates openly that women should be able to kill their newborn children.

After a teenage girl gave birth to her baby in a bathroom during her high school prom — and promptly dumped the baby in the trash — Pinker wrote an article in the New York Times in support of her actions.

He wrote that evolution has enabled us to have “a capacity for neonaticide [that] is built into the biological design of our parental emotions” (Nov. 2, 1997).

Moreover, he added that many cultural practices are “designed to distance people’s emotions from a newborn” so that the child can be killed without too many qualms.

In his book The Blank Slate, Pinker complains that the problem with humanity is not enough morality, but too much of it.

This is the fruit and disgusting, logical outcome of evolutionary philosophy.

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The apostle Paul describes idolatry in two ways: pagans who worshiped literal idols that were figurative of imagined gods and also lives that were dominated by idolatrous behavior.

Such behavior at its core betrayed people whose behavior demonstrated that they really enthroned themselves as gods instead of enthroning the only true and living God.

Our world is full of idolatry, especially in the latter sense. Are you living a life of idolatry? Paul gives a partial listing of idolatrous behavior (below).

Sin has pleasure for a moment, but afterward it only brings death. Jesus offers true pleasure in life; He offers true freedom, a reason and purpose for living, forgiveness of all sin, guilt and shame and eternal life.

By His grace only, I’ve been living wholeheartedly for Him for 30 years now (and quite imperfectly at that), but I can truly say that along with the many trials, I cannot imagine a life of more joy than this! Check out the passage from Colossians 3:1-17:

1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.

7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

12Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

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Note, on the one hand, the cause and effect relationship between vv.8 and 9 in Ps. 16:8-9:

8 I have set the LORD always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.

9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure.

On the other hand — and I write this out of a pastoral concern — people who live in compromise will not experience fulfillment and happiness:

This same Psalm in v.4 warns us: “The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied.” No wonder David immediately responds in this manner in v.5: “I will not pour out their drink offerings of blood, nor will I take their names upon my lips.”

It is so clear that God wants His best for us always; why would we settle for anything less?

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I love worship because God loves worship: He inspired an entire book of the Bible (the Psalms), which incidentally happens to be the most-loved book of Scripture.

One of the many reasons for that, I believe, is that the Psalms contain the power of God’s Word set to music — and music has enormous power to lift our spirit.

No wonder Johann Sebastian Bach could say that music is for the glorification of God and the edification of the human spirit.

God Himself sings over us (Zeph. 3:17). This is why Martin Luther wrote, “Music is a gift of God, not a gift of men…after theology, I accord to music the highest place and greatest honor.”

Singing is mentioned in Scripture 400 times and 50 times we are commanded to sing.   One of the fruits of being filled with the Holy Spirit is singing (Eph. 5:19; cf. Col. 3:16; 1 Cor. 14:26).  Jesus, being thoroughly steeped in the OT, customarily sang (Mt. 26:30; Mk. 14:26).

So here are a few questions for you to consider with me:  Do we come to worship our Lord — whether alone during the week or with other believers, either during the week or on Sundays – with an expectation to worship on His terms, with humility (e.g. Is. 66:2; Ps. 24:3-4), awe (Heb. Heb. 12:28-29; Ps. 95:6), exuberance (e.g. Ps. 47) and a desire to interact with Him?

Do we in the American Church appreciate what we have in the way of instruments and electricity, so that we might make the most of our singing, as is called for in the Psalms (e.g. Ps. 150)?

Do we worship with an appreciation of how much worship has progressed throughout Church History?

Do we worship with the recognition that this God-designed and God-inspired activity is one of many aspects of prayer?  Do we worship in Spirit (i.e. led by the Holy Spirit) and in truth (i.e. allowing God’s truth to permeate our entire being and change us)?

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I’ll define two key words from this passage that I’ve been meditating upon for the past week or so from Rom. 12:9-16:

9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.

10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;

11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;

12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,

13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly (AJ)Do not be wise in your own estimation.

The two words I want to define come from v.9: to “abhor” means to despise; to hate bitterly; to be horrified. To “cling” means to cement together.

What’s in your heart today? Do you despise evil or do you tolerate, wink or allow it into your heart? Do you indeed “cling” to what is good?

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