Monday, March 10, 2008

Quotes and Notes

Updated note- It is with great sadness that I must add to the top of this post that Ravi Zacharius is very likely to be guilty of sexual abuse to a number of women. Though he worked hard to dispute the accusations throughout his later years of ministry, posthumus investigations confirmed some tragic and inexcusable sins by Ravi.

I add this comment to the top of this old post to say that at the time I did not even have a question of his life and ministry. And though there are questions about his genuine salvation (I cannot judge) the content that he espoused still has biblical accuracy and application.

I am not removing any content from this blog in regards to Ravi and I pray mercy and healing toward his victims. 

Sinful human nature..... tragic and wounding beyond belief... but God's grace still stands in the midst of hypocrisy and shame... unshaken.

Romans 3:4 "Let God be true, and every man a liar".

The old post....

 Every time I listen to him, I am enthralled with his passion, points, and story telling. I especially like his podcast of the program, “Let My People Think.” Below is a summary of some of the notes I have taken from the last few sessions: In Darkest moments- the church shines the brightest All news is old news happening to new people Absolutes removed become disorientation Holbart Maurer committed suicide in 1982 at the age of 75. He was a professor at Yale, Harvard, and president of the American Psychological Association. "For several decades, we psychologists have looked upon the whole matter of sin and moral accountability as a great incubus, and acclaimed our liberation from it as epic-making. But at length we have discovered that to be free, in this sense to have the excuse to being sick rather than being sinful, is to court the danger of also becoming lost. This danger, I believe, is betokened by the widespread interest in existentialism which we are presently witnessing. In becoming a-moral, ethically neutral, and free we have cut the very roots of our being, lost our deepest sense of selfhood, and identity. And with neurotics themselves, we find ourselves asking, who am I, what is my deepest destiny, and what does living really mean?" “What was once called selfishness is now called fulfillment” The Church needs: Content Conviction Communication Consistency Before it can speak to our relativistic world today. We have to recognize that this generation has lost its imagination- The charge of hypocrisy is the compliment that vice pays to virtue 3 applications: Proclamation without presence is dangerous Faith without faithfulness is flawed Peace without joy is contradictory- Worship has lost its worth- it is now a burden- Worship involves sacrifice- we give the world our best and we give the worst to God. Worship binds it all to submission Quickening of conscious by his holiness Nourishment of mind by his truth Purifying of imagination by His beauty Opening of the heart to His love Submission of will to His purpose All gathered under adoration of our highest If you do not know how to worship.. even God will disappoint you When you understand how worship binds- worship is not a service- God does not live in buildings- we take our temples with us- life is worship- moment by moment Worship is co-extinsive with life O Thou Who Camest from Above By Charles Wesley O Thou who camest from above, the pure celestial fire to impart kindle a flame of sacred love upon the mean altar of my heart. There let it for thy glory burn with inextinguishable blaze, and trembling to its source return, in humble prayer and fervent praise. Jesus, confirm my heart's desire to work and speak and think for thee; still let me guard the holy fire, and still stir up thy gift in me. Ready for all thy perfect will, my acts of faith and love repeat, till death thy endless mercies seal, and make my sacrifice complete. The greatest pursuit of the Hebrews was light The greatest pursuit of the Greeks was knowledge The greatest pursuit of the Romans was glory Apostle Paul II Corinthians 4:6- “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Greatest Danger of Educational Theories in Vogue

I am definitely interested in educational theory. Even back in my days of college, I was always immersed in the study of how effective education takes place. If the goal of education is a definite change of behavior, attitude, or position… how are we doing?

The most damaging idea inherited in the wake of the Enlightenment is this… man is good. In this course of thinking, it only takes education to rid the heart of the evils it possesses. The teacher entrapped by this philosophy believes that, deep down, the child wants to learn and wants to get better. The administrator believes if they can create the perfect learning environment, the correct strategies, and differentiated instruction… the student will soar.

This is nowhere near what the Bible teaches.

Dr. Archibald Alexander of Princeton in 1844 wrote very clearly:

The education of children should proceed on the principle that they are in an unregenerate state, until evidences of piety clearly appear, in which case they should be sedulously cherished and nurtured. These are Christ's lambs—"little ones, who believe in Him" (Matt 18:6; Mark 9:42)—whom none should offend or mislead upon the peril of a terrible punishment. But though the religious education of children should proceed on the ground that they are destitute of grace, it ought ever to be used as a means of grace. Every lesson, therefore, should be accompanied with the lifting up of the heart of the instructor to God for a blessing on the means. "Sanctify them through your truth; your word is truth." (John 17:17)

I challenge all of us to continue to search and test whether these evidences of grace are visible.

Again I admire Dr. Alexander’s questions:

Let the most moral and amiable of mankind, who are in this natural state, be asked such questions as these: Do you take real pleasure in perusing the sacred Scriptures, especially those parts which are most spiritual? Do you take delight in secret prayer, and find your heart drawn out to God in strong desires? Do you spend much time in contemplating the divine attributes? Are you in the habit of communing with your own hearts, and examining the true temper of your souls? No unregenerate people can truly answer these, and suchlike questions, in the affirmative.

Test us O Lord and see where we are. May all of our efforts be in praying the Holy Spirit in to do what no educational theory can.

‘Impressing’ Our Children With the Gospel

‘Impressing’ Our Children With the Gospel
Thoughts Taken from Archibald Alexander’s “Thoughts on Religious Experience” 1844

When we speak of Christ and the gospel to children, we get clear evidence of man’s original sin when we see some who react so negatively to the message. Even as a high school Bible teacher, I see physical evidence of real animosity to the things of God. I can’t count the constant references to cries from our student body about “shoving it down our throats”.

This is echoed back to 1844 when Archibald Alexander lamented, “From this cause it proceeds, that many children who have the opportunity of a good pious education learn scarcely anything of the most important truths of Christianity. If they are compelled to commit the catechism to memory, they are accustomed to do this without ever thinking of the doctrines contained in the words which they recite; so that, when the attention is at any time awakened to the subject of religion as a personal concern, they feel themselves to be completely ignorant of the system of divine truth taught in the Bible.”

Dr. Alexander goes on, however, to make a most important point. He said that these truths that seem to be a source of great contention, are hidden treasures that actually have wonderful benefits.

He says it this way: “Of two people under conviction of sin, one of whom has had sound religious instruction and the other none, the former will have an unspeakable advantage over the latter in many respects.”

No doubt that some children of Christian parents experience God’s love in a variety of ways. They may be awakened early to stories of Christ and His sacrifice or God and His mercy. But these early experiences do not always manifest themselves in immediate conversion.

It is hard to know sometimes, if a child is truly converted. The Puritans were very careful in their use of the term. To them, “faith that fizzles was faulty from the first”. They instructed their children in the catechisms, but took no hope in externals and misleading ‘juvenile exercises’.

We must never take lightly the enemies of our souls: the world, the flesh, and the devil. Could it be that the great deceiver would use childhood practice with piety as a veil for true conversion? What if the appearance of salvation prevented true confessions of no faith as the child finally becomes aware of his sin?
Dr. Alexander was not fearful of this line of reasoning. He clearly states:

“While I would not deny that Satan may take advantage of these transient exercises to induce a false hope, I cannot be persuaded that he produces these impressions; for often the people, before experiencing them, were as careless and stupid as he could wish them to be, and because the tendency of these impressions is beneficial. The youth thus affected becomes more tender in conscience, forsakes known sin before indulged, has recourse to prayer, and feels strong desires after eternal happiness. These are not what Satan would effect, if he could, unless we could suppose that he was operating against himself, which our Savior has taught us to be impossible.”

If we understand the work of God’s spirit in a less than immediate or linear experience, we are more able to see that even these transient times of experiencing God are beneficial to conversion- even if it is many years down the road.

I love Dr. Alexander’s point here:
“So, when a revival occurs under the awakening discourses of some evangelist, people are ready to think that he only is the successful preacher whose labors God owns and blesses; whereas he does but bring forward to maturity, feelings and convictions which have been long secretly forming and growing within the soul—but so imperceptibly that the person himself was little sensible of any change.”

And what of those who do not receive adequate religious instruction or have these early impressions? No doubt they can be converted, but the soil is much less ready for the good seed of the word.

So I continue to say to parents and Bible teachers of the young- preach on! You don’t think you are making an impact, but you are! You never know what conditioning is taking place in the depths of the heart.

This doesn’t mean that we not try to find creative, encouraging, and loving attempts to share the good news. But every prayer and every attempt may be having fruit that we know nothing of, until we see it in eternity!

God bless those who labor among the young!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Heart of the Reformation- THE GOSPEL

I love reading about the reformation and I call myself a “reformed, covenantal, believer in Christ”

In all the technical jockeying about what the reformation means and endless echoing of the great “solas”- the heartbeat of the movement is still the true gospel.

The reformation was a re-discovery of the good news of salvation to all who believe. It was a new realization to living by faith in Christ’s death. It was a childlike, simple allegiance to Christ’s righteousness and confession of man’s sinfulness.

Have you heard the good news lately?

Salvation is based on the existence of God. He has been revealed as owner and Lord of all creation. Because of our total inability to acknowledge or follow God, we are destined to be obliterated by His wrath. All of my apathy, all of my waywardness, all of my selfishness- is facing a judgment day that has been largely ignored in my shallow and superficial life.

Left to my own merit- I would be in desperate trouble when faced with the Holy God.

Now the good part- Jesus stood in my place. He took my pain. He experienced my shame. He suffered for all the judgment due to me, the sinner.

In a simple matter of trust in His sacrifice, I am delivered from darkness and the reign of terror and placed in God’s family. My record is completely changed. Christ took my sin and gave me His righteousness.

On top of all that- He even granted me faith. He chose to purchase me. He chose to love me. He chose to forgive me! HOW CAN THIS BE?

It is the gospel my friend. I am still baffled by it.

But when you see me, you see a free man. There is no condemnation because I am in Christ Jesus.

My peace….my joy….. my life…. Has been secured in Jesus. What can man do to me?

All of this…. to God Alone be the GLORY!