Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Since He's faithful, so can we be.

A post from Matt Rogers, my friend and pastor of Renewal Church (please pray for Matt and the families of Renewal as they begin the work that God has for them in the upstate of SC):

Jeremiah’s task was a bit daunting. Writing just before the destruction of Judah, Jeremiah warns the people that unless they repent and turn to God they will be destroyed. And to make matters worse, he knew the outcome of his message. People would not respond, the nation would be destroyed, and God’s people would remain in their desolation.

And yet Jeremiah speaks, and speaks passionately, challenging the people to turn to God. As I picked up the book again this week, I was intrigued by what would motivate a prophet of God to be faithful to God even when he knew the outcome would not be favorable.

You don’t have to look hard to find out the answer. In the first chapter of the book, I found God telling Jeremiah the following things:

...I consecrated you
...I send you
...I command you
...I deliver you
...I have put my word in your mouth
...I am watching over my word to perform it
...I am with you
...I deliver you

I am not brilliant with pronouns, but when I read this text it seems clear that the basis of Jeremiah’s faithfulness is not in Jeremiah. Instead, it is all based on the character of God.

In life, the pronouns make all the difference. Truly believing that life is about Him – His character, His faithfulness, His love, His grace – changes everything.

Since He is faithful, we can be faithful.

Even when the outcome is unsure.

Even when the road seems challenging.

I am encouraged in the midst of a season of life that seems overwhelming that the ground for God’s work in the world is not in my ability, creativity, or leadership ability, but rather in the overwhelming faithfulness of God.

I pray that today God’s overwhelming faithfulness to you would motivate your faithfulness to Him.

Friday, June 26, 2009

America's Debt to John Calvin

A post from Pastor John's blog:

In this year of John Calvin’s 500th birthday, I don’t know of a better place to read about his impact on America than Abraham Kuyper’s Lectures on Calvinism given at Princeton Seminary in October 1898. Kuyper was a pastor, a journalist, the founder of the Free University of Amsterdam, and Prime Minister of the Netherlands.

John Calvin and Martin Luther were the twin pillars of the Protestant Reformation. Why do fewer people speak of Luther’s culture-shaping impact on America, but for centuries Calvin has been seen in this light? Kuyper argues,

Luther’s starting-point was the . . . principle of justifying faith; while Calvin’s . . . lay in the general cosmological principle of the sovereignty of God. . . . [Hence] Lutheranism restricted itself to an exclusively ecclesiastical and theological character, while Calvinism put its impress in and outside the Church upon every department of human life.

It is the personal pervasiveness of God’s sovereignty that makes all the difference. This means that “the whole of a man’s life is to be lived as in the Divine Presence.” This “fundamental thought of Calvinism” shaped all of life. “It is from this mother-thought that the all-embracing life system of Calvinism sprang.”

For example, Calvin’s doctrine of “vocation” follows from the fact that every person, great and small, lives “in the Divine Presence.” God’s sovereign purposes govern the simplest occupation. He attends to everyone’s work. This yielded the Protestant work ethic. Huge benefits flow from a cultural shift in which all work is done earnestly and honestly with an eye to God.
Or consider how Calvinism breathed an impulse of freedom into modern history. The decisive principle was:

the sovereignty of the Triune God over the whole Cosmos, in all its spheres and kingdoms, visible and invisible. A primordial Sovereignty which eradicates in mankind . . . a threefold . . . supremacy, viz., (1) the sovereignty of the State; (2) the sovereignty in Society; and (3) the sovereignty in the Church.

God’s sovereign claim on every person and every sphere of society relativized all other claims. It began with the churches.

The sovereignty of Christ remains absolutely monarchical, but the government of the Church on earth becomes democratic to its bones and marrow. . . No church may exercise any dominion over another, but . . . all local churches are of equal rank.

This impulse of freedom spread to the political sphere. Calvin and his heirs had a strong predilection for republican government—and an aversion to monarchy. A benevolent dictatorship would be ideal in a sinless world. But in a sinful world, it brings the horrors of tyranny. “Call to mind . . . that Calvinism has captured and guaranteed to us our constitutional civil rights.”

We ask: Why then did Calvin endorse the death of Servetus for heresy? How was this part of his liberating impulse? Kuyper’s answer is helpful.

I not only deplore that . . . I unconditionally disapprove of it; yet not as if it were the expression of a special characteristic of Calvinism, but on the contrary as the fatal after-effect of a system, grey with age, which Calvinism found in existence, under which it had grown up, and from which it had not yet been able entirely to liberate itself.

A thousand years of abuses are not thrown off overnight. But the impulses of liberty, flowing from the decisive principle of the all-embracing sovereignty of God, proved to be unstoppable. “Calvinism has liberated Switzerland, the Netherlands, and England, and in the Pilgrim Fathers has provided the impulse to the prosperity of the United States.”

Kuyper closed his lectures with a claim that for many today sounds preposterous. Do not write him off. Get the book Lectures on Calvinism, and test these words, spoken to Americans in 1898.
In the rise of your university education . . .; in the decentralized . . . character of your local governments; . . . in your championship of free speech, and in your unlimited regard for freedom of conscience; in all this . . . it is demonstrable that you owe this to Calvinism and to Calvinism alone. (Originally published in World Magazine)

Thriller and the Truth

Oddly enough, when I was young I used to listen to Thriller over and over while waiting to get my hair cut at the barber. It was a first come, first served deal; used to take like an hour to two to get a seat. Six songs and then flip the tape. And repeat. I won't lie; I also gave a go at his dance moves. I was pretty awesome - by awesome I mean a good laugh. Anyway, God used MJ to grow my love for music. Now being a fairly proficient musician, I appreciate MJ's genius. In some part, I'm the musician I am today because of him.

I mourn his loss and shudder to think that he is meeting Jesus with an unregenerate soul. The Enemy used the Jehovah Witnesses to distort his family's view of Jesus (from what I understand) and now he'll know the truth. That is the most painful part for me. I pray that the Lord would give his family new hearts to love the real Jesus. I hope you guys might pray the same.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I was born without bones.

Can you carry me?

With guitar...(if I only had that kinda time)

Born Without Bones Remix

Newest addition to the Bw/oB family.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Confusing Language of "Calling"

a helpful post from the Resurgence.com

It is common Christian parlance to say, "I feel called to do so and so." What we're usually trying to communicate is that we feel God has given us a specific "missional" assignment in his kingdom. I wonder, however, if that language is misleading and harmful.

Our Call Has Already Been Issued

Christians don't need to be specially "called" to live missionally; it is inherent in being a disciple. To become a disciple of Jesus means that you evaluate your passions and talents in terms of how they can best be used to spread God's kingdom. The call has already been issued: "Glorify me in all that you do. Love and serve your neighbor. Go into the world and preach the gospel to every person." That's it.

Each person must evaluate how they have best been suited to fulfill that call, but the call is clear. If you are a businessman, you are to do excellent work to the glory of God, to the benefit of humanity, and to the testimony of Christ in your community. You don't have to wait on a special call to begin to do so—you've already received that call as a Christian. We talk about finding God's will; it's not lost.

Specific Directions in Active Participation

I know that sometimes God gives specific directions. God tells Paul in Acts 16:8 to go specifically to Macedonia, but those "course corrections" were given in the context of Paul's active participation in God's mission. The Holy Spirit tells the church at Antioch to set apart Barnabas and Saul for a church planting mission (Acts 13), but both Barnabas and Saul were already active in preaching and serving.

I say this because we have so many people sitting around waiting on a warm, fuzzy, and goose-bump-inducing vision from God before they embark on some ministry. Maybe we've invented the whole language of calling to mask the fact that most Christians don't want to live missionally.

To be continued.

I knew I liked vests...

See below, on the left, my Great-Great Grandfather, George Ferguson.

Apparently a man who could swing a hammer in style.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Tozer Quote

I ran across this AW Tozer quote from Josh Harris's blog and found it both convicting and encouraging:

"The kingdom of God, has suffered a great deal of harm from fighters--men who would rather fight than pray; but the kingdom of God has also been done great harm by men who would rather be nice than right."

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

to put ground under your feet

"Praise the Lord that he micromanages your life. Not just big picture details - micromanages. He knows the smallest sparrow, the greyest hair, none of them fall to the ground apart from him willing it. "

- Kevin DeYoung

from his message from the NEXT Conference entitled Just Do Something.