Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Something about Mary?

The other day a Catholic friend mentioned she once visited a shrine to Mary. Sadly, there are millions of people who are elevating a proper love and respect for the birth mother of Jesus of Nazareth to level that Mary herself would not approve of. And certainly God Himself who alone deserves worship, does not approve.

If you attend Roman Catholic services, or you know someone who does, please take a minute to read this article, written by a Mary Ann Collins, a former Catholic nun. I ask that you please meditate on the Scriptures that she points to in order to 'test all things' as God's Word calls us to do.

Jesus said that the truth will set us free. (John 8:32) However, He did not say that the truth would necessarily be easy to accept. It was painful for me to learn the information that I am about to share with you, but it was also liberating and it led to a closer relationship with God.

As a faithful Catholic, and later as a nun, I was devoted to Mary. The prayers and practices were so familiar. They were taught to me by sincere people. I prayed the rosary, including rosary novenas. I wore a Brown Scapular and a Miraculous Medal. I visited shrines that honor Mary. I had beautiful statues of Mary. I attended special services where we prayed to Mary and recited a litany of titles honoring her. I read books about apparitions of Mary, and dreamed of visiting Lourdes and Fatima. I participated in processions honoring Mary. A statue of Mary was put on a platform that was decorated with flowers. There were poles on the platform, so that men could carry it. The men walked through the streets, carrying the statue on the platform. We walked behind the statue, singing songs in Mary’s honor.

Was this worship? At the time, that question never occurred to me. Now, looking back on what I did, I believe that it was.

Please read the rest of the article here. The author also references a video (click here to see online) in which Mary worship is seen, even by the Pope himself. Also, examine the claims made by the supposed Mary 'apparitions' in light of Scripture.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Praise the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete

A friend of mine has been talking a lot about the Holy Spirit of late. In the 'reformed' circles that we run around in, the Spirit tends to get downplayed and not given His proper due (due perhaps to an over-reaction to the Charismatic movement). But the Holy Spirit is all over the New Testament and we often just gloss over His incredibly significant role in the Trinity. With that in mind, today's 'For the Love of God' reading was particularly helpful:

THE FAREWELL DISCOURSE, beginning in John 14, includes some extraordinarily rich material on the Holy Spirit. Some highlights:

(1) In Greek, every noun is grammatically designated masculine, feminine, or neuter. The word for “spirit” is neuter. When a pronoun referring to “spirit” is used, it too should be neuter. In this chapter, however, the pronoun is sometimes masculine, breaking grammatical form, a way of gently affirming that the Holy Spirit is personal.

(2) Among his titles is “Counselor” (14:16), or, in some English versions, “Comforter” or “Helper.” When Comforter is coined, it drew from Latin words that meant “to strengthen” or “to strengthen along with.” Today a comforter is either a thick quilt or someone who helps the bereaved, and is therefore too restrictive to convey what is meant here. The Greek word is capable of a variety of nuances, so some do not translate it but merely transliterate it (i.e., put it into English spelling) as Paraclete. He is certainly someone who is called alongside to help and to strengthen. Sometimes the help is legal: he can for instance serve as prosecuting attorney (16:7 -11), and he may be our legal “Counselor.” (The word should not conjure up pictures of camp counselors or psychological counselors.)

(3) He is, Jesus says, “another Counselor” (14:16, italics added). In older Greek, this word for “another” usually had overtones of “another of the same kind.” By the time of the New Testament, that meaning is fairly rare; it cannot be assumed, but must be demonstrated from the context. In this case, Jesus is clearly promising to send someone who will stand in his place. Intriguingly, apart from its use in the Farewell Discourse, the word rendered “Counselor” is found in the New Testament only in one other place, viz. 1 John 2:1 (NIV: “one who speaks to the Father in our defense”). So Jesus is the first Paraclete. At his impending departure, he promises to send the Holy Spirit, another Paraclete, to and for his followers.

(4) He is also called “the Spirit of truth” (14:17). This not only means he tells the truth as opposed to lies, but that he is the true Spirit, the one who mediates the very presence of the Father and the Son to the believers (14:23).

(5) The Spirit, Jesus promises, “will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (14:26). Since the “you” are being reminded of what Jesus said, in the first instance they must be the first disciples. The Spirit will enable them to recall Jesus’ teaching, and flesh out its significance in the wake of the cross and resurrection. How secure would the links have been without his work?

From For the Love of God - March 24th, by D.A. Carson

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What does luck have to do with it? By Jim Elliff

Top of the morning to you! Jim Elliff discusses Joni Eareckson Tada and the Sovereignty of God.

Joni Eareckson Tada is one of the most gracious and effective Christians in the world. She has lived with the results of a diving accident that broke her neck during her teen years. In her 50's she continues to radiate Christ to a listening world. Joni is known by thousands of Christians, perhaps millions, through her books, radio program, and conference speaking.

Once my brother asked Joni how she made it through the difficult battle with her paraplegia. I later heard her give the same answer in a large conference in Orlando. Her reply will surprise you. "I suppose what helped me get through this more than any other thing" she said, "was reading Loraine Beottner's Reformed Doctrine of Predestination."

Now that caught you off guard, didn't it?

What she was saying was that she came to understand through this book that God is in control. And if God is in control then her accident wasn't just a fluke, but a purposeful arrangement by a loving God. She could trust a God like that. That accident cost her freedom and brought chronic suffering. But to Joni, that diving accident was a huge gift from God—a platform for speaking to the world about her favorite subject, Christ.

Click here to read the entire article.

Also, Susan Verstraete tells us a little about the Patrick who is honored on this St. Patrick's Day.

Patrick, Missionary to Ireland

Enjoy, and wear something green!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Can we see God?

I do not recall Exodus 24:9-11 jumping out at me the way it did this morning. I was confused by what it said about some men who, with Moses, 'saw God'. Elsewhere the Bible says that 'the soul who sees God will die', right? D.A. Carson explains this apparent contradiction...

To strengthen the allegiance of the covenantal community, God graciously discloses himself not only to Moses but to Aaron and his sons, and to seventy elders. Whenever Old Testament writers say that certain people “saw God” (24:10-11) or the like, inevitably there are qualifications, for as this book says elsewhere, no one can look on the face of God and live (33:20). Thus when we are told that the elders saw the God of Israel, the only description is “something like” a pavement “under his feet” (24:10). God remains distanced. Yet this is a glorious display, graciously given to deepen allegiance, while a special mediating role is preserved for Moses, who alone goes all the way up the mountain. (FTLG)

It is shocking to think about what Jesus said to those living in his time over a thousand years later. He said that in seeing Him they have seen God! He claimed to be God! John Blanchard, in my new favorite book (Right with God) discusses the 'I Am' passages in the Gospel of John (John 6:35; John 8:12; John 10:9; John 11:25-26; John 14:6; John 15:1).

In the plainest way, Jesus claimed that there had never been his equal in the history of the world, nor would such a person ever appear again. He was unique, and every other person in history would need to assess his life in the context of his person, life, work and teaching. (p. 66)

Quite arrogant for anyone other than God! Later Blanchard discusses my favorite passage dealing with the deity of Christ.

One one occasion, Jewish leaders, angry at the extravagant claims Jesus made, asked Him, ''Are you greater than our father Abraham? (John 8:53) and went on, 'You are not yet fifty years old, and you have seen Abraham!' (John 8:57). Jesus replied, 'I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I AM!' (John 8:58). The two words in capitals are most important. If Jesus was only claiming to have been older than Abraham - and that would have been amazing enough! - he would have said 'Before Abraham was, I was'. Instead, he deliberately used the words 'I AM'. To discover why, we must go back to the Old Testament. When called by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses asked by what name he should identify God to the children of Israel. God's answer is recorded in Exodus 3:14, 'God said to Moses, "I am who I am." This is what you are to say to the Israelites: "I AM has sent me to you."' To the devout Jew, this remained one of God's distinctive names, and to hear Jesus (who was also a Jew and knew its meaning perfectly well) using it as his own was too much. It was blasphemy, and demanded death by stoning, 'they picked up stones to stone him' (John 8:59). It is obvious from this that both Jesus and the Jews knew the implication - Jesus claimed the right to use God's Name as his own, as he did again in John 13:13 and John 18:5. (p 67-68)

Blanchard went on to say that Jesus often claimed to be equal with God (Mark 9:37; John 5:23; John 8:19; John 10:30; John 12:44; John 12:45; John 14:7,9,11; John 14:23), and that other Bible authors claimed the same thing of Him (John 1:1,14; Romans 9:5; Col 1:15, 2:9; 1 Tim 3:16; 1 Tim 6:14, 15).

The Bible says that God no longer reveals Himself through the terrifying smoke and fire of His manifestation on Mount Sinai. He no longer speaks to us merely through the words of His prophets. He has now revealed Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ.

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. 3The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. (Hebrews 1:1-3b)

So no one has seen God and lived to tell about it. Not even Moses when He went up to the Mountain to receive the Law, saw God in all his glory, but rather just a glimpse of the background of His glory (Exodus 33:18). Yet, Jesus Christ is God in human form, and we can see God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ, as He is revealed in the Scriptures! This verse sums it up so well.

No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known. (John 1:18)

While many claim that the God of the New Testament is a 'kindler/gentler' God who is passive and inept, please do not make the same mistake. Consider that Hell is discussed much more than Heaven in the New Testament, and the pages of Scripture are full of warnings to repent and fall on the mercy of Christ before it is too late. I invite you to bow to His authority and worship Him today!

There will come a day, described in 2 Thessalonians, "when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. (2 Thes 1:7b-10)"

Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:30)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

You spit in the very face of God!

I came across a neat website with good reading for Christians. In it there is a section on evangelism, including this excerpt from a Spurgeon sermon. Oh that we would have this passion for the lost and the love-that's right LOVE-to tell them the truth! If you are reading this as an unbeliever, please cry out to Christ, your only hope of being made right with God!

You spit into the very face of God!

(adapted from Spurgeon's sermon, #964
"The Essence of the Gospel" John 3:18)

Do you not see, O unbeliever, how the matter stands?
The infinite Lord of mercy, that you might not perish,
has devised a wondrous way of salvation, which has
astonished cherubim and seraphim, and made heaven
ring with song; and this you utterly reject!

When you imagine that your church goings and
good works will save you, you set a low estimate
upon what Jesus did. These very actions of yours,
which you think to be good, are setting up an
Antichrist in opposition to Him, upon which He
looks with abhorrence.

God says He will save by Christ, and in no other way!

And so long as you seek salvation another way,
you do as it were, spit into the very face of God
by the insolence of your self righteousness!

That God should send a Savior, His one and
only Son, the Lord of heaven and earth; and
that He should come with testimony of love,
the love of God to sinners, and seal that
testimony with His blood; and that men
should refuse to believe in Him, is the most
monstrous iniquity that could be imagined!

O sinner! Will you spurn almighty love?

Can you turn away from boundless mercy?

You must be infinitely wicked, you must be
enormously, monstrously, diabolically at
enmity with God, or else surely a blessing
so precious you would not slight, a plan of
mercy so adapted to your condition you
could not have the impertinence to reject.

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life,
but whoever rejects the Son will not see life,
for God's wrath remains on him." John 3:36

Solemn words! Hear them and tremble!

This is no idle threat!

The Lord has power to fulfill His sentence.

What power have you to resist it?

Who is there that can help you to withstand Him?

You are utterly in His hands, you cannot break
prison and escape. If you climbed up to heaven
He is there; if you dived to hell He is there;
the whole universe is but one great prison
for an enemy of God!

You cannot escape Him, neither can you resist Him.
If your bones were granite and your heart were steel,
His fires would melt down your spirit. Against Him
you can no more stand than the chaff against the
fire, or the dust against the whirlwind.

O that you would feel this and desist from your insane rebellion!

O unbeliever! God is angry with you now. This
statement is no invention of mine, it is written by
the pen of inspiration that "God is angry with the
wicked every day: if he turn not, He will whet His
sword: He has bent His bow, and made it ready."

God is more angry with some of you
than He is with some already in hell!

An angry God holds you over the gulf of hell; justice
demands that you fall into it, and it is nothing but
His mercy that keeps you out of it. He has but to
will it, and before the clock shall tick again, you
who are condemned already would be forever where
the worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched!

God's wrath, though it has not come on you yet, is like
a stream that is dammed up. Every moment it gathers
force, every hour it is swelling the dyke. Each day,
and each moment of each day in which you remain an
unbeliever, you are treasuring up wrath against the
day of wrath when the measure of your iniquity is full.

How earnestly would I persuade you to escape from condemnation!

It is not within the power of thought to conceive what
God's wrath is! No language, even though it should
make both the ears to tingle, can ever fully express it.

I am not one of those who would so delude your poor
souls, O unbelievers, as to make you think it a light
thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

O turn! turn! turn! Why will you die?

Oh, why do you stand out against Jesus, and pull
down upon your heads the wrath of an angry God?

"I will think about it," says one. Think about it!
You will think yourself into hell before long.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Shepherds Conference 2010

The Shepherd's Conference is going on right now in Southern California. Perhaps elders and other leaders from your church are there. While we can't all be there, we can hear the sermons. Also this year, they are making some of the music available. So if you wanted to know what it sounds like when several thousands of men sing "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross", "Come Christian Join and Sing", and "All Hail the Power of Jesus Name" now you can get a taste of that. Click here for the media page.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010

Hip Hop for Haiti

Hip Hop for Haiti concert featuring Lecrae, Flame, Json, DJ Essence, and DJ Official

HT: DesiringGod

God's Final Word by Dr Joseph Mizzi

This month's Gospel e-Letter from Dr Joseph Mizzi was very helpful:

What is God’s ultimate message to the world?

In the past God spoke to his people by the prophets; ultimately he spoke to us by his Son. “This is my beloved Son;” declared the voice from heaven, “Listen to him.” The Lord Jesus reveals the Father because he is the living Word, the perfect image of the
invisible God.

Thus when the disciples asked Jesus to show them the Father, Jesus answered: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?” (John 14:9). Whereas he warned the Jews who refused to believe in him that they did not really know God. “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also” (John 8:19).

This then - our attitude to Christ - is the dividing line between Christianity and the heretical sects and other religions. Christians believe in the eternal Son of God who also became man for our salvation; we therefore entrust our souls to his care and worship him with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Whereas non-Christians deny the Deity of our Lord and refuse to bow down before him.

Islam claims that God’s final word was given by the prophet Mohammed some 600 years after Christ. Therefore Islam must deny the unique dignity of Jesus as the Son of God so that it won’t be seen as a regression from God’s final revelation. Indeed the
Qur’an says that Jesus is just another prophet, and it specifically denies that he is the Son of God. “The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah … Far is it removed from His Transcendent Majesty that He should have a son” (Sura 4:171). [1]; “The Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them” (Sura 9:30). [2]

Visit the site for the rest of the article.

About Me

Here is my testimony: mike