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I have not been to the MidWest Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati, but my wife has mentioned going for the last few years. We/[she] have been recently disappointed with the local (Indianapolis – IAHE). I have heard that they have great speakers and a HUGE Exhibit Hall. Even though it is further away, it appears to be very AFFORDABLE REGISTRATION. Plus, it could be a mini-vacation, away from home (bonus for the Mrs.).

Psalm 2

Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”

I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

In the notion that we can “create” our own “truth” to express our “reality” which has no foundation on immutable, absolute, historical record or usage is exactly where we find ourselves today. We have gone from “…if it is right, then it is right for all…” to “…if it right for me, that is all that matters…”

Instead of a culture built on the Rock, an unshakable foundation, so that we may build high and broad on the shoulders of great men of the past, our postmodern culture is built on sand-not only is this foundation providing no stability at all, but the postmodern builders have torn down any work scabbed together by their humanist precursors.

Apparently “they” have now made another non-word a word (Mrs. foolarch will get a kick out of this):

irregardless: an erroneous word that, etymologically, means the exact opposite of what it is used to express, attested in non-standard writing from 1912, probably a blend of irrespective and regardless. Perhaps inspired by the double negative used as an emphatic.

Postmodern? Sure. Dumbing-down our culture? Yes. Tip-toeing toward Gomorrah? Absolutely.

This is a small example of the “big lie.”

“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.” This is the epotime of the Postmodern, liberal, humanist culture…but do you know who said it?

Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood,
who draw sin as with cart ropes,
who say: “Let him be quick,
let him speed his work
that we may see it;
let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near,
and let it come, that we may know it!”
Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
and shrewd in their own sight!
Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine,
and valiant men in mixing strong drink,
who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
and deprive the innocent of his right!

Isaiah 5:18-23

Lord, have mercy.

Today is a momentous day. My two youngest, Pooh (6) and Tigger (5), both culminated their transition to two-wheeler-hood: they are riding bicycles without training wheels.

We capped this day after dinner with our very first all-family bike ride in the neighborhood. They are getting so big and time is ticking away (…enter bump music from dcTalk…)

Riding bikes, wiggly teeth and the fading of the remnants of “baby talk”, they are growing up fast. Our baby will be six this year, Rabbit is ten. There is only limited time to invest in their lives now, before they begin their own families, have their own children and teach them to ride two-wheelers.

If that is all that life is, then we should “…eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.” If the good life is nothing more than a Hallmark card with the soft, hazy picture and some sentimental hogwash on the inside it is not worth it. Don’t get me wrong; I love spending time with my children doing fun things like teaching them to ride bikes, play chess or dribble left-handed. But if that is all of the legacy there is to life – teaching them manners, sharing some “warm, fuzzy” experiences and perfecting their jump shot – then that is not enough.

Life is hard. The Dread Pirate Roberts was correct, “Life is pain…and if anyone tells you differently then they are selling you something.” Without an ultimate purpose, why go on? Ah, despair, right?

No.

Without purpose: despair; with purpose, and living out of it: joy.

So, what is the purpose of life?

“The chief end [purpose] of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever” according to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q/A One.

In this short time I have with my children, I am to invest my time not only in training them to glorify and enjoy God, but doing it myself. Using all of life to disciple them, so that the purpose is both “caught” and “taught.”

The training wheels of the bikes are all off now, but the training wheels of their lives are still firmly in place. They are there for both guidance and protection.

I don’t want to extend the metaphor too far, but call one side “Law” and the other “Gospel.” Along the way, we train them by teaching them the Law of God (also the fact that no one can perfectly keep it and the consequences of not keeping it) as well as the Gospel of Christ (literally “good news”): Jesus Christ was perfectly obedient, keeping the entire Law to the point of death on a roman cross, the innocent willingly paying the penalty of the law-breaker and then being raised to life on the third day removing the sting of death for all who repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is a process, though. First they ride safely in the driveway on the bike with the training wheels, then the wheels come off and they are stretched to apply their training (knowledge and experience) with dad firmly holding on to them and finally they ride on their own – eventually into the cruel world, busy streets and all – taking them places where they have never gone before now having unconsciously mastered what was once consciously difficult.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” – Matthew 7:13,14 (ESV)

Oh, I pray that obedience and discipline will one day be unconsciously mastered by them. But, since I am still struggling on my own wobbly ride, I am beginning to understand a little more about the guarantee given to me and longing a little more for Glory.

My prayer is not that they never have difficulty or even that they never suffer, but that the do all things well (including suffering). My prayer is that they, with their whole lives, “glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

Friday evening, April 18, 2008, I took my wife to see Caedmon’s Call live in concert at Grace UMC in Kokomo, In (my hometown). I have been a fan since they released their self-titled album “Caedmon’s Call” in 1997 and have every studio release since.

Spring Tour

The Band

I came to hear the band Before There Was Time to understand their lyrics; truly the music grabs your attentions, but There You Go, it is the lyrics that give you Hope to Carry On.

Musically, the band’s sound is folksy-pop with smooth harmonies and a kick of rock. (Think Simon & Garfunkel’s “Concert in the Park” performing with a miltia of musicians by the likes of Carole King, Jimmi Hendrix, John Bonham and Neil Peart (at the same time, no less)! This may sound like Trouble, but let me tell you…”This World has nothing…” on these talented musicians.

Become infatuated with the music, but fall deeply in love with their lyrics. Their work is poetic, reformed theology the magnifies the great, Creator, Sustainer and Lover far above the daily grind of everyday. Be Thankful for the true, relevant juxtaposition of our earthen frame with that of the magnificent God; There’s Only One (Holy One) and we are sovereignly formed in the Hands of the Potter to bear the image of Christ. Listen to the words and you will know not only hear Who You Are, but also that There is a Reason for why and how you are.

The Concert

I have been anticipating this event since hearing (three months ago) they would be playing near me. I had never previously seen them in concert; this was my chance. I don’t get to many concerts; my last one was Audio Adrenaline/Mercy Me over one year ago.

Arriving at the church, I noticed quite the variety of concert-goers: I saw elderly women, a bus-load of junior-high youths as well as the expected twenty- and thirty-somethings. I thought maybe we had the incorrect venue or night based on the attendance.

The $12 general admission tickets were an unexpected blessing. The concert went for about three hours and the band played over 25 songs in this small venue (I would guess less than 500 seats max); it felt as if they were playing in my living room. This has to be the best ticket – not just in town – but ANYWHERE; the value (quality and quantity) far excelled the cost or expectations. I would have traded my 40 Acres for these tickets!

Derek Webb, a modern prophet, afflicted the comfortable and comforted the afflicted with his tongue-in-cheek satirical in-your-face style. Nothing was off limits (as expected): fundamentalism, politics, social justice, idolatry, politics, love and hope. It was a fabulous set of songs to Prepare Ye the Way of our hearts to the LORD and our ears to Caedmon’s Call.

Cliff Young, a bare-footed and cap-less Warrior of righteousness, lead the Church (that is, capital “C”) present in worship of the God of Wonders.

Did I mention there were two drummers? There is nothing like double percussion to get you juices flowing and worship the God of The Danse.

The absolute highlight for me had to be the performance of “Hands of the Potter” and “Thankful.” I am so thankful that my redemption and righteousness are not in my hands, that “nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the Cross I cling.” I praise the LORD that there is a reason for why/when/how/what things happen, and that I am in the loving and careful hands of the potter who will do with me what he will to conform me more the the image of His Son.

What began in my mind as a “concert” has become not just a worship experience that evening, but continues to roll through my mind these days following.

Jesus Christ is worthy of our worship.

Sola Scriptura | Sola Fide | Sola Gratia | Sola Christus | Soli Deo Gloria

My church played this message at our Good Friday service.

This stands for “One Thing You Can’t Do In Heaven.”

What is that, you say?

  1. A Book by Mark Cahill.
  2. Sharing the Gospel with an unbeliever.

Mark was at my church tonight presenting the biblical basis for, and sharing practical tools so that every believer in Jesus Christ can share the Gospel as a way of life.

He shared that while being a witness for Christ there are only three outcomes:

  1. The person believes on Jesus Christ by faith for the forgiveness of sins; this is GOOD ~ eternal life for them & joy for you.
  2. The person does not believe, but a seed is planted; this is GOOD ~ a seed is planted & joy for you.
  3. The person rejects the good news, Jesus Christ and/or even you; according to 1 Peter 4:14 and Matthew 5:10-12 this is GOOD ~ reward for you in heaven.

The only time the sharing your faith is bad is when you do not do it.

Evangelism by all believers is not relegated to a few…with a special gift, but is a command to all believers (Matthew 28:18-20). Not sharing one’s faith is disobedience to Jesus Christ – it is a sin of omission.

I have not ever been active in sharing my faith in Christ; not only have I been disobeying my Lord, but I have not been living up to my Christ-justifying potential:

“and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.”

Philemon 1:6

LORD Jesus Christ, forgive my faithlessness.

What is BIGGER than the Superbowl?

According to Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts:

According to Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears:

Visit Beyond the Ultimate to see more.

This is the third in a series of posts to honor the most memorable teachings of my once-pastor.

Before I entered the halls of my church in the fall of 1996, I am not sure that I had ever heard of Charles Haddon (C.H.) Spurgeon [bio here]. In fact, upon hearing the surname, I was sure my once-pastor was referring to a fish of the North Atlantic! How wrong I was!

If I had to guess, after Jesus and Paul the Apostle, no one–living or dead–has had greater influence on the preaching of my once-pastor as Spurgeon. Kim would quote from him often; anyone who entered his library office could see the vast tomes, and most with the common name: C. H. Spurgeon. Kim told a story once of how he came across the books by Spurgeon; he was giddy as a schoolboy with his new-found treasure.

What is the big deal? Why is Spurgeon such a hero to my once-pastor?

Spurgeon was a preacher who preached the Word, whether in season or out; he proclaimed the beauty of Christ to hundreds of thousands of people throughout his [very short, mind you] lifetime.

There are many interesting similarities between Kim and Spurgeon:

  • Both were saved and called to preach in their mid-teens.
  • Neither attended seminary.
  • Both started their pastoral ministry in small, rural churches.
  • Both continued their ministry by accepting calls of large [sub]urban, mega-churches.
  • Spurgeon’s sermons were published weekly and widely circulated; Kim’s sermons were published to the radio.
  • Both struggled with disease, chronic pain and clinical depression.
  • Expository preaching was the method of both men.
  • Presenting the beauty of Jesus Christ to people was the passion of both men.
  • Specific, practical application of the expositorily preached Word of God was served up to their churches.
  • Both are reformed, Calvinist baptists in the tradition of the puritans.

Two passages of Spurgeon’s sermons stand out in my mind above all; these are ones that, I am sure, Kim had memorized as well; the first coming from his first sermon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle:

Metropolitan Tabernacle, LondonFirst Sermon in the Tabernacle

Acts 5:10

March 25, 1861

I would propose that the subject of the ministry in this house, as long as this platform shall stand, and as long as this house shall be frequented by worshippers, shall be the person of Jesus Christ. I am never ashamed to avow myself a Calvinist; I do not hesitate to take the name of Baptist; but if I am asked what is my creed, I reply — ‘it is Jesus Christ.’

My venerated predecessor, Dr. Gill, has left a body of divinity, admirable and excellent in its way; but the body of divinity to which I would pin and bind myself forever, God helping me, is not his system, or any other human treatise; but Jesus Christ, who is the sum and substance of the Gospel, who is in himself all theology, the incarnation of every precious truth, the all-glorious personal embodiment of the way, the truth, and the life.

And from his last sermon ever:

The Statute of David for the Sharing of the Spoil

1 Samuel 30:21-26

June 7, 1891

“What I have to say lastly is this: How greatly I desire that you who are not yet enlisted in my Lord’s band would come to Him because you see what a kind and gracious Lord He is. Young men, if you could see our Captain, you would down on your knees and beg Him to let you enter the ranks of those who follow Him. It is heaven to serve Jesus. I am a recruiting sergeant, and I would fain find a few recruits at this moment.

Every man must serve somebody: we have no choice as to that fact. Those who have no master are slaves to themselves. Depend upon it, you will either serve Satan or Christ, either self, or the Saviour. You will find sin, self, Satan, and the world to be hard masters; but if you wear the livery of Christ, you will find Him so meek and lowly of heart that you will find rest unto your souls.

He is the most magnanimous of captains. There never was His like among the choicest of princes. He is always to be found in the thickest part of the battle. When the wind blows cold He always takes the bleak side of the hill. The heaviest end of the cross lies ever on His shoulders. These forty years and more have I served Him, blessed be His name, and I have had nothing but love from Him. I would be glad to continue yet another forty years in the same dear service here below, if so it pleased Him. His service is life, peace, joy. Oh, that you would enter on it at once. God help you to enlist under the banner of Jesus even this day. Amen.”

These two sermons bookend and mark out the breadth of ministry of C.H. Spurgeon: Jesus Christ. He never tired of “preaching Jesus,” he never got past the amazing Savior. He never grew bored of the beauty of Christ. It did not matter if he preached Old Testament or New, narrative or didactic, Moses, Job or Paul.

My once-pastor taught me, through the teachings of Spurgeon, a man dead for over a century, the importance of Jesus Christ. Of course, you say, “Jesus is important for the unbeliever unto salvation,” and that is true, but he is so much more. If the Gospel is for the unsaved, unregenerate soul, how much more is it for the saved, regenerate child of God. Jesus is not just “fire insurance” (a one-time transaction) but a “friend of sinners” who “walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way. He lives! He lives, salvation to impart! You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart.”

Check out this math:

Jesus = Gospel

The Gospel is for sinners.

I = sinner; therefore

Jesus is for me.

I love Jesus more the more I see my own wretchedness; I love Jesus less the less I see my own wickedness. (Luke 7:36-50)

“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more? Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.

If you ever get past that, you need to start over, because you never “got” it.

That is what my once-pastor wanted to get across to us; that is what I learned from Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

What is ‘accountability?’

Why do we need accountability?

Is accountability even biblical? If so, what does biblical accountability even look like?

Practically, how do we do accountability?

Accountability…for what?

My story:

I have been in an accountability (“Brothers’ Keeper“) group through my church for over two years now. We originally started with three guys and last year added #4 and a few months ago #5. In the two years we have been meeting, we have treated each other with ‘kid gloves’: most of our meeting times would be more appropriately described as guys reviewing their week including work, family, leisure, personal and ministry punctuated with bits of prayer and in-depth transparency concerning failures regarding sin.

If you can tell a lot about a Christian by looking at his checkbook, the same (or more telling) can be said about his time. Typically, we would meet Thursdays from 9:00 pm — 11:00 pm-ish and this is how those two to 2-1/2 hours would shake out: 1-1/2 hours of review/catching up, 1/2 hour (maybe) of transparent, personal self-exposure and closing [re: 5 minutes] of prayer.

PITIFUL.

Last week, the ice finally broke. With the recent trials in our church where hidden sin has been exposed and the process of repentance and restitution is a showing to be a long, hard [and public] road, hearts are changing. As one elder has quoted Lewis, “Aslan is on the move:” God is not only not surprised by this, but he has foreordained it.

Other stories are similar [post][comments].

God is not only moving in the heart of my once-pastor, but within the broader congregation, as well. (That includes “us guys.”)

Why? Well, according to Merriam-Webster, accountability is “an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to [explaining one’s conduct for] one’s actions.” When it comes down to it, we are accountable to God for our sin; we are also weak in our own nature and therefore need help from other like-minded believers to stay clean from the filth of sin.

Sin’s Nature

Sin will not remain secret. The greatest lie if the Evil One is really legion: personal sin doesn’t really harm anyone else; secret sin will never be found out; secret sin doesn’t affect all/any areas of my life; this single act or pattern of sin doesn’t matter; that ‘thing’ is really not a big deal — heck, it can hardly be called ‘sin’; etc.

Here is a [partial] biblical response (not partial-biblical, but a partial-response):

What is done in private, will be revealed in public (re: great reversal)

  • According to Numbers 32:23, “…you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out. Your sin will find you; it will expose you.
  • For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.” (Luke 8:17)
  • Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “”When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’”” Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:7-11)

Sin prefers darkness, secrecy and silence (re: cockroaches)

  • And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God.” (John 3:19-21)

Sin = Death (re: dead)

  • “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
  • “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:14,15)

People who look sinless in public are really just proud hypocrites (re: Pharisees)

  • …Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness...” (Matthew 23:1-36)

We will be held accountable before God for our sin (re: judgement)

  •  Non-believers will be judged for their sin. “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11-15)
  • Believers will be judged for their sin. “…each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:13-14)

Next post I will find out if accountability is even biblical and if so, what it looks like.

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