Thursday, July 31, 2008

Three Months till Reformation Day!

One of my favorite holidays has always been the one that takes place on October 31, 2008. As a kid it was a chance to get sick on candy and dress up like robots (since cardboard boxes were more easy to come by than cash in those days).

As I progress through my thirties, I get more and more excited about celebrating--not Halloween--but Reformation Day. It looks back to October 31st, 1511 when Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses to the church doors, an act that would spark a huge movement of God and affect history in profound directions!

Each year, I get more and more excited about celebrating what has became the most influential movement of God since the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to the early church in Acts Chapter 2. I might even dress up like Luther, Calvin, Zwingli or even John Knox (Aye, I can dooh a r-r-really dooozy of a Scottish accent!) Maybe not.

Moving on. I recently I heard Steve Lawson's series on the Reformation in a series called "The Protestant Reformation: Turning the World Upside Down for Christ".

I have been really blessed by this series! I liken it to chatting on the front porch with a skilled storyteller who makes you believe he lived through the stories he relives. Of course, Dr Lawson is still in his prime, and would object to being dated to the Reformation, but what I mean to say is that he lives and breaths this topic and his passion is contagious!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Parable of the Marriage Feast

I recently came across Matthew 22:11, and was puzzled by its meaning. Here is the passage:
And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.' But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.' And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

"But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, 'Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, 'Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' For many are called, but few are chosen."

John MacArthur explains this parable this way:
All without exception were invited to the banquet, so this man is not to be viewed as a common party-crasher. In fact, all the guests were rounded up hastily from “the highways” and therefore none could be expected to come with proper attire. That means the wedding garments were supplied by the king himself. So this man’s lack of a proper garment indicates he had purposely rejected the king’s own gracious provision. His affront to the king was actually a greater insult than those who refused to come at all, because he committed his impertinence in the very presence of the king. The imagery seems to represent those who identify with the kingdom externally, profess to be Christians, belong to the church in a visible sense—yet spurn the garment of righteousness Christ offers (cf. Is. 61:10) by seeking to establish a righteousness of their own (cf. Rom. 10:3; Phil. 3:8, 9). Ashamed to admit their own spiritual poverty" ... "they refuse the better garment the King graciously offers—and thus they are guilty of a horrible sin against His goodness.
Quote from MacArthur, J. J. 1997, c1997. The MacArthur Study Bible (electronic ed.) . Word Pub.: Nashville

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I Have a Shelter

Here's a song you can download for free.

I Have a Shelter

The lyrics are awesome...
I have a shelter in the storm
When troubles pour upon me
Though fears are rising like a flood
My soul can rest securely
O Jesus, I will hide in You
My place of peace and solace
No trial is deeper than Your love
That comforts all my sorrows

I have a shelter in the storm
When all my sins accuse me
Though justice charges me with guilt
Your grace will not refuse me
O Jesus, I will hide in You
Who bore my condemnation
I find my refuge in Your wounds
For there I find salvation

I have a shelter in the storm
When constant winds would break me
For in my weakness, I have learned
Your strength will not forsake me
O Jesus, I will hide in You
The One who bears my burdens
With faithful hands that cannot fail
You’ll bring me home to heaven

© 2008 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music (ASCAP)/Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP)
(Admin. By Integrity’s Hosanna! Music) Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)(Admin. By
Integrity’s Praise! Music)

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Gospel in 30 seconds

Our pastor told us Sunday that Mark Dever requires new members to be able to communicate the Gospel in 30 seconds. Got me to thinking, what can you say in 30 seconds? So I'm trying to find a short summary of the Gospel (with Scripture that could be shared as time allows). Something I could memorize and meditate on so that if the opportunity is provided, I can share the Good News in a clear and confident way.

I came across this fantastic summary on the t4g website. If you find something shorter or more concise summary of the Gospel, please send it my way!

The Gospel is the joyous declaration that God is redeeming the world through Christ (Matt 1:21; Luke 1:68; Eph 1:7; Col 1:20), and that he calls everyone everywhere to repent from sin and trust Jesus Christ for salvation (Mark 1:15; Acts 2:38; 17:30).

Each of us has sinned against God (Rom 3:23), breaking his law and rebelling against his rule, and the penalty for our sin is death and hell (Rom 6:23). But because he loves us, God sent his Son Jesus (John 3:16; Eph 2:4; 1 John 4:10) to live for his people's sake the perfect, obedient life God requires (Rom 8:4; 1 Cor 1:30; Heb 4:15) and to die in their place for their sin (Isa 53:5; Mat 20:28; 26:28; Mark 10:45; 14:24; Luke 22:20; John 11:50-51; Rom 3:24-25; 4:25; 1 Cor 15:3; 2 Cor 5:21; Eph 5:2; Heb 10:14; 1 Pet 3:18). On the third day, He rose bodily from the grave (Mat 28:6) and now reigns in heaven (Luke 22:69; 24:51; Heb 8:1), offering forgiveness (Eph 1:7), righteousness (Rom 5:19), resurrection (Rom 8:11), and eternal blessedness in God's presence (Rev 22:4) to everyone who repents of sin and trusts solely in Him for salvation.

I can say this one in about 0:45 seconds. It's so good, I think I'll allow the extra 15 seconds!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Exclusivity of Christ - Part II

Recently I did a post on why Jesus is the only way to God (exclusivity is the fancy, harder to pronounce word). Next week my Bible study at work will be looking at this very topic, so I was delighted to come across TWO more excellent resources on the topic.
  • Tim Keller has some fabulous downloads in his series "The Trouble with Christianity: Why it's so Hard to Believe It". Click here for free sermons and study guides.
  • John Hendryx (not related to Jimi) has written a phenomenal article about the exclusivity of Christ. Hendryx asks the question: Is Jesus really the only way? I hope you read all of this article (many times!), but there is a short summary of the Gospel at the end that is worth "giving away" here. It's essentially the Gospel, the good news of how a Holy God SAVES sinners like me and you. Please, read this carefully!
Man was created to glorify God & Enjoy Him forever
"Worthy are you, our Lord and our God to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things." (Rev 4:11) "Do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor 10:31)

Man has failed to glorify God & is under His just condemnation
"For all have sinned..." (Rom 3:23) The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23) "These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction" (2 Thes 1:9)

Jesus fully bore the wrath and suffered the punishment sinners deserve
Not wishing that sinners perish forever, God determined to save a people for Himself in the Eternal Son who became a man and lived the life we should have lived and died the death we justly deserve. God loves sinners and sent [His] Son to [be] the wrath absorbing sacrifice for their sin (1 John 4:10; John 6:37) he "...gave His life as a ransom for many" (Mk 10:45) & "rose again" from the dead (2 Cor 5:15) on their behalf.

All who, by the grace of God, turn to Jesus in repentant, submissive faith are forgiven & begin a life-changing, eternally satisfying relationship with God! "Repent and believe the gospel (Mk 1:5) "In Your presence is fullness of Joy (Ps 16:11)

Click here for the rest of the article.

Friday, July 18, 2008

MacArthur, Pagitt and Yoga

OK, so this is old news (took place 10 months ago), but I came across a video that is just too good not to share. CNN ran a segment on yoga and whether it is ok for Christians. They asked John MacArthur and emergent leader, Doug Pagitt, to give their point of views.

The interview itself (see a transcript here) was fantastic, but at the end of this video we are given a behind the scenes look that Pagitt later provided on his own web site. In the audio you can actually hear him deny the Faith and God's Word!

Check out this video ...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

God is working in Hong Kong!

Wanted to share about what God is doing at my company ... worldwide! We are blessed to have the opportunity to have employee network groups where we can meet and encourage one another during weekly Bible studies. We are able to use company resources such as conference rooms, and video and audio conference technologies. We even have a budget for running our group, because these groups were set up to help with HR aspects such as recruitment, retention, and overall good morale among employees. As you would expect there are some groups out there with widely differing beliefs than those we hold to, some of them diametrically opposed in fact. Yet were it not for these groups gaining approval and sanction, our Bible Study Group would not have been allowed to become the light that it has become in our company! This is a constant reminder of God's sovereign control of even the wickedness of man!

Last October, the KC office was the first to join the existing Boston metro Bible Study Group (BSG). California followed in February of this year, and last week, Hong Kong was able to join officially! They already had a group of 10-15 who were renting a nearby facility to hold their Bible studies during lunch. Now they can meet in their own office and are corporately sanctioned to promote their group to other employees who might be interested!

You can see pictures and read more about Hong Kong's 7/4 kick-off celebration on the "prayer blog" (click here), a personal blog we set up to help the BSG keep track of prayer requests. Feel free to check it out and pray for us!

Friday, July 11, 2008

An architects view of the Bible

I heard a sermon today that has earned the right to stand among my all-time favorites: How to Study the Bible, by John MacArthur.

MacArthur begins with a quotation about the Bible, called an "architect's view of the Bible". It certainly gets the sermon going in the right direction and is worth a post in itself!
The Bible is like a magnificent palace constructed of precious oriental stone, comprising sixty‑six stately chambers. Each one of these rooms is different from its fellows and is perfect in its individual beauty while together they form an edifice incomparable, majestic, glorious and sublime.

In the Book of Genesis we enter the vestibule where we are immediately introduced to the records of the mighty works of God in creation. This vestibule gives access to the law courts, passing through which we come to the picture gallery of the historical books. Here we find hung on the wall scenes of battles, heroic deeds and portraits of valiant men of God.

Beyond the picture gallery we find the philosopher's chamber, the Book of Job, passing through which we enter the music room, the Book of Psalms, and here we linger, thrilled by the grandest harmonies that ever fell on human ears.

And then we come to the business office, the Book of Proverbs, in the very center of which stands the motto, "righteousness exalteth a nation but sin is a reproach to any people."

Leaving the business office we pass into the research department, Ecclesiastes. Then into the conservatory, the Song of Solomon where greet us the fragrant aroma of choicest fruits and flowers and the sweetest singing of birds.

When we reach the observatory where the prophets with their powerful telescopes are looking for the appearing of the Bright and Morning Star, prior to the dawning of the Son of righteousness.

Crossing the courtyard we come to the audience chamber of the King, the gospels, where we find four life-like portraits of the King Himself revealing the perfections of His infinite beauty.

And next we enter the workroom of the Holy Spirit, the Book of Acts, and beyond the correspondence room, the epistles, where we see Paul and Peter and James and John and Jude, busy at their tables under the personal direction of the Spirit of Truth.

And finally we enter the throne room, the Book of Revelation, and there we are enraptured by the mighty volume of adoration and praise addressed to the enthroned King which fills the vast chamber. While in the adjacent galleries and judgment hall there are portrayed solemn scenes of doom and wondrous scenes of glory associated with the coming manifestation of the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
You can read the transcript to this sermon here, or purchase it here.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

All the way from Germany!

My boss recently spent a month in Germany with her family, and was nice enough to bring me back a treat, simply because I asked her to bring me something from Wittenburgh, the famous center of the Reformation.

I was out Monday and returned Tuesday to find this in my in-box, wrapped in thick paper.

I was so delighted, I typed up a speedy email to thank her for the wonderful chocolate! I assured her that this is one sweet that I would never eat!

She came by later and told me that it was a paper-weight.

Truly a "want-to-get-away?" moment!

You can hear a fantastic sermon about Martin Luther here.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Meet J. Gresham Machen

Bob from Kids4Truth introduced me to J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937) this week in his post, Life Founded Upon the Truth by J. Gresham Machen.

I am glad he did. This is a great article about the late Princeton theologian and defender of the Faith against the Modernism of his time. Here is a great quote that is still relevant even 71 years after his death.
Do not be deceived, my friends. This notion that it does not make much difference what a man believes, this notion that doctrine is unimportant and that life comes first, is one of the most devilish errors that are to be found in the whole of Satan’s arsenal. How many human lives it has wrecked, how many mothers’ hearts it has broken! ... Out of the Pandora box of highly respectable philosophy come murders, adulteries, lies and every evil thing.

... I have been talking about the snarl into which men have come, only in order that at the last I may lead you to the place where that snarl may be straightened out. What does the Bible say about the question that we have been discussing this afternoon? What does the Bible say about the question whether doctrine is merely the changing expression of life or whether — the other way around — life is founded upon doctrine?

You do not have to read very far in the Bible in order to get the answer. The answer is given to you in the first verse. Does the Bible begin with exhortation; does it begin with a program of life? No, it begins with a doctrine. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” That is the foundation doctrine upon which everything else that the Bible says is based.

The Bible does present a way of life; it tells men the way in which they ought to live. But always when it does so it grounds that way of life in truth.
The enemy in the war on truth is no longer modernism, but post-modernism. I'm reading John MacArthur's Truth War and it is an excellent exposition of the book of Jude, which calls us "to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (v3)." I hope to write more about this book when I finish, but I will at this point venture out on a limb and recommend Truth War!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Blessing of a Taste of Tragedy

I'm rejoicing right now, praising God for His mercy! If only for a few minutes, I thought I had lost my boy (for other scary moments click here and here)!

I was cleaning our deck and preparing the wood to be stained. As I worked away, Aimee told me she was taking the kids swimming. I thought she mentioned that Myles (2) was to finish his nap, so I hurried to finish the job so I could be there to wake him up (otherwise he would sleep all day … then party all night!)

It just so happens that today is the day Myles promoted up to a "big-boy-bed", so we took out his crib and put in the new one. Nap time was a challenge as he was not taking to the new bed as we had hoped. Finally he settled in for a good nap. He plays hard, so he loves a good nap just like his old man!

After I cleaned up my tools and showered to clean off all the caustic chemicals, I peeked my head in Myles’ room. He wasn't there. Only his diaper and shorts lay in his bed. At first I rolled my eyes and started looking in Myles's typical hiding spots. Maybe he went off to hide then fell asleep somewhere. I quickly became alarmed, though, when he didn't answer my call. I would have expected a giggle if he were hiding or "up to no good". It wasn't long before I had searched the entire house top to bottom. As I called Aimee's cell phone, I planned the next steps ... check with the neighbors working outside ... call 911 ... jump in my car to begin the search.

When Aimee picked up, she assured me that Myles was safe and with her at the pool. What a relief! I literally was so overwhelmed that I could barely talk, crying from relief that my horrifying fears did not come true. The "what-if" thought that many parents try to avoid, because it's just too awful, was for a brief moment a reality. What if he had run off and gotten outside, or had been abducted while I showered! What if I would never see him again?

I'm finding it difficult to return to normalcy. I have a new appreciation for the gift of my children! This "taste of tragedy" was enough to get me to thinking about spiritual things. Do I appreciate the gift of my salvation as I should?

When I come across something in God's Word that causes me to reflect on my salvation, the holiness of God, the gravity of my sin and what it cost to reconcile me to a holy God, I come away more appreciative and grateful for His sacrifice! Without Christ, without His life, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection, there would be no salvation! This is, as the author of Hebrews calls “such a great salvation (Heb 2:3)”.

I am absolutely wicked and deserving of hell, due to offending an infinitely holy God! If Jesus had not born the wrath of God that I deserved and suffered the punishment for MY sin, I would be bound for eternal destruction. And even now, if the Son of God were to lift His restraining hand of grace, I would instantly follow my sinful desires to my own destruction. But praise God, Jesus holds everything together and He is faithful to complete me in my progress toward becoming more like Him (Rom 8:29).

Today, I am more thankful for my son, Myles. Having caught a glimpse of the anguish of life without him. I have a deeper appreciation of what a delight he is.

Likewise, I am thankful for my salvation. When I read a passage like Isaiah 6 and come face to face with the burning holiness of the Almighty and my corresponding unworthiness, I am glad that I'm right with the LORD through the blood of Christ.

Without Christ there would be no hope. "If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied (1 Cor 15:19)" My past was empty without Him, and my future will be not only full, but overflowing with everlasting joy in His presence!

To God alone be the glory!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Best Date Ever

Some might wonder about the connection between this picture and the title of this post: "The Best Date Ever". I trust it will soon become clear.

Recently I had a date night with Aimee. All three kids were sent away for overnighters. What would we do with ourselves? We had no clue. This was not a problem.

Despite an ill-advised walk down a nature trail without the protection of Off (yes, we turned back early, swarmed by pesky bugs), this turned out to be the best date ever! We soon found a shaded park shelter and uninterrupted, meaningful conversation. Aimee was reminded of a sermon she had been telling me about. She had DVR'd an episode of Grace To You on DirectTV and was shocked by the way John MacArthur interpreted a very familiar passage. She thought it would be a good time for me to see it.

Intrigued, I wasted no time getting us back home. After a quick meal we sat down with ice cream (drowned in Magic Shell of course) and watched MacArthur preach God's Word. You are right in calling me a dork, but there are only a handful things more enjoyable than MagicShell and John MacArthur preaching, and an evening with my wife, let me tell you!

Now is where I tie in the picture. The sermon was on Luke 21:1-3 where we have the widow offering her last two coins.
Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, "Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. Luke 21:1-3
Familiar passage. Deals with sacrificial giving right? The lesson is simple: we need to look at how the widow gave and, in turn, give the same way, right? Wrong!

According to MacArthur, there are four common interpretations of this passage.
  1. The measure of a gift is not how much you give but how much you have after you give ... not the amount of the gift, but the amount left over.
  2. The true measure is the self-denial involved. (The percentage given) ... the woman gave the highest percentage...everything.
  3. The true measure of any gift is the attitude with which you give it. Is it selfless? Humble? Surrender? Expressing love for God, devotion to God and trust in God? The widow, we are told, had the least left behind, gave the highest percentage and must have had the best attitude.
  4. The gift that truly pleases God is when you give everything and take a vow of poverty.
MacArthur argued that, despite their universal acceptance, none of these common interpretations make any sense.
In fact, all of those interpretations are imposed on the text and you know how I feel about imposing things on the Bible text....not good. You say, “Why do you say they’re imposed?” Because Jesus never made any of those points. Jesus never said anything about what’s left behind, what percentage, what attitude, or do the same and give everything. He didn’t. Jesus never makes any of those points.

He does not say the rich gave relatively too little, they had too much left over. He doesn’t say the rich gave too low a percent. He doesn’t say the widow gave the right amount. He doesn’t say the rich had a bad attitude and the widow had a good attitude, or good spirit. He doesn’t say that. In fact, He doesn’t say anything about their giving except that she gave more than everybody.

He doesn’t say why or with what attitude, or whether she should have, or shouldn’t have, or they should have, or shouldn’t have. Her outward action is all that you see. It is no more or less good, bad, indifferent, humble, proud, selfish, unselfish than anybody else’s act.

There is no judgment made on her act as to its true character. There is nothing said about her attitude or her spirit. She could be acting out a devotion. She could be acting out of love. She could be acting out of guilt. She could be acting out of fear. We don’t know because Jesus doesn’t say anything. Doesn’t say anything about the rich, doesn’t say anything about the widow, doesn’t draw any conclusions, doesn’t develop any principles, doesn’t command anything, doesn’t define anything. Why? Because none of that matters."
So how are we to understand this passage? The post would be too long to explain in full but the key is to understand the context. This little vignette falls "between the condemnation of the false leaders, and the pronunciation of judgment that will last and has lasted two thousand years until Jesus comes." Jesus was NOT happy with the way a false religious system was willing to stand by and take the last source of sustenance from a widow, leaving her totally desolate and destitute. In application to today, MacArthur expresses the same judgment and indignation toward the "prosperity preachers" of our day, as Jesus did to the false religious system of His.
The largest segment of givers to the Charismatic prosperity gospel preachers are single women, desperate for healing, desperate for money. Sometimes they’re promised money, health and the new one is a spouse...a man. That’s right, if they send in their money.

So I say, woe to you who sell your miracle water and your miracle cloths that promise to heal the desperate if they send you their money. Woe to you wealthy self-indulgent preachers who become rich on the backs of the lonely poor, disillusioned diseased and desperate who are told to give you their money as an act of faith so that God is obligated to make them healthy and wealthy. Woe to you who indulge in ten thousand dollar a night hotel rooms, claim revelations from God, spend 112 thousand dollars a month on your private jet with money taken from the most desperate people. Woe to you, you will not escape judgment.
What a powerful message. God is not pleased to see the poor give away the last of their resources, especially to a false religious system! Let us who are with resources give so that those who are in need can benefit. Let us give generously to causes like Roundup2Roundup. Let us give with joy (like the "cheerful giver" in 2 Cor 9:7). But let us also be good stewards of our resources (God's resources) and save and be wise.

What a great date night! Looking forward to more like that. Maybe a second honey-moon to the T4G Conference?!?

Note: For a full transcript of this powerful sermon, click here. You can also catch this sermon in 3 parts on YouTube: (part 1, part 2, and part 3)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Be strong in the LORD

I just read Joshua 5 this morning and found something that I had forgotten, or didn't catch before. After the people of Israel crossed the Jordan river, ON DRY GROUND, Joshua had an amazing encounter with a man with a drawn sword.

13When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to
him and said to him, "Are you for us, or for our adversaries?" 14And he said, "No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, "What does my lord say to his servant?" 15And the commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, "Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so. (Joshua 5:13-15)

I was so encouraged by this. Was this the pre-incarnate Christ Himself? Even if not, and just an angel, it's still clear from Scripture that the LORD fights our battles for us, as He went on to do for the Israelites!

Notice in verse 13, Joshua "lifted up his eyes and looked". Then, he saw this man. He fell on his face and worshiped! Finally, he asked what he would have him do. Joshua's response is something we should imitate: We should first look to the LORD, then worship Him for who He is (i.e. the One who is worthy of our worship and able to fight for us), and then to ask what He would have us do. We can find out what He asks of us by reading His Word every day and obeying it ("Joshua did so").

I'm looking forward to reading on in Joshua to see how the LORD fights the battles for the people of Israel! I also hope to see Him fight some battles in the lives of my friends and family in 2008. If you are facing some very scary oppostion, listen to the verse my Pastor once shared with me. "Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might (Eph 6:10, emphasis mine)"

If you are not a believer in Christ, please be reconciled with Him. You are either for Him or against Him!

About Me

Here is my testimony: mike