Monthly Archives: August 2009

We are from the government and we are here to “help” you.

A recent article that hit the WorldNetDaily newssite is bone chilling to say the least.  They have had articles over the last year or so about homeschooling families in Germany who have had their kids taken away because it violates laws that were put in place by the Nazi party but are still on the books.

Now comes a story from our country about a homeschooler in New Hampshire who is being forced to go to public school because the school disagrees with the worldview that she holds.  According to the article the girl in question, who is 10 years old, is “well liked, social and interactive with her peers, academically promising and intellectually at or superior to grade level.”  The problem isn’t her academics however, it is her beliefs:

But during the process of negotiating the terms of the plan, a guardian ad litem appointed to participate concluded the girl “appeared to reflect her mother’s rigidity on questions of faith” and that the girl’s interests “would be best served by exposure to a public school setting” and “different points of view at a time when she must begin to critically evaluate multiple systems of belief … in order to select, as a young adult, which of those systems will best suit her own needs.”

. . .

The marital master hearing the case proposed the Christian girl be ordered into public school after considering “the impact of [her religious] beliefs on her interaction with others.”

Apparently all of those studies about the majority of atheists reaching their decision in their teenage years to turn from faith are far too convincing.  The state is afraid of losing a promising “Dawkins” robot and wants to get her under their control as soon as possible.

I home-school and I am proud to do so.  People often ask us why we home-school and the truth is that there are a lot of reasons.  One of the big ones however is that it gives us the opportunity to insure that our children are well-grounded intellectually to think for themselves and to know what is true from what is false before they are bombarded by the propaganda of a world that wants to confuse truth and falsehood and right and wrong.  You wouldn’t send troops into a battle before they have been through basic training and we aren’t going to send our kids into spiritual warfare on their own(Ephesians 6) before they get their basic training either.

Categories: Christianity, Culture, Discipleship, Freedom, Parenting, Persecution, personal | 5 Comments

Sunday Morning 8/30/09

A wonderful day in the Lord and fellowship with His family here in Langdon this week.  I pray that this sermon is a blessing to you as much as it has blessed me to learn and share what God taught me in the process.  We are still working from the Torah readings at this point, although this sermon covers a lot of extra ground in Scripture by way of explanation and clarification.  Press the play button to listen in on the sermon and you are welcome to follow along with the notes below.  I tried to replicate the Hebrew words in the notes below, but please note that the letter that looks like a W is as close as I could get to the Hebrew letter Shin in my editor without finding the keyboard layout for it.

Wonderful Words of Life

Sermon Notes for 8/30/09

  1. What is the purpose of God’s Law?

    1. To show the Way of Life

      1. Deuteronomy 32:45-47; Matthew 4:4 (Dt. 8:3)

      2. John 6:60-69; Matthew 19:16-17

    2. Following the commandments of the Law does not justify you – Galatians 3:10-14

      1. The curse of the Law– Deuteronomy 28:58-61

      2. Isaiah 53:3-6 and Deuteronomy 21:22-23

    3. Jesus instead gives us the blessing promised by faith

      1. Galatians 3:5-9, 21-22

      2. Romans 10:5-17

  2. Return, Repent and Rest – Isaiah 30:15

    1. The Hebrew word for repent – Shuv

      1. Picture language represents “destroying the house”

      2. bW

    2. Entering God’s rest – Hebrews 4:1-7

      1. Adding the letter “Tav” represented by a cross in the picture language to the Hebrew word Shuv gives the word Shabbat or “Sabbath”

      2. tbW

Categories: Deuteronomy, Gospel, Podcasts, Sermon, Torah Readings | Leave a comment

Praying for Prison

We are getting closer every day to the time when the Christian faith itself may be illegal in the U.S.  Last week, I saw a story about two men who have been brought up on charges and are facing jail time for praying in public.

Students, teachers and local pastors are protesting over a court case involving a northern Florida school principal and an athletic director who are facing criminal charges and up to six months in jail over their offer of a mealtime prayer.

. . .

The criminal charges, which carry up to a $5,000 fine and a six-month jail term, originated with a Jan. 28 incident in which Mr. Lay, a deacon at a local Baptist church, asked Mr. Freeman to offer mealtime prayers at a lunch for school employees and booster-club members who had helped with a school field-house project.

Mr. Staver said no students were present at the event, which was held on school property but after school hours.

This means that these guys are facing fines and jail time for praying at an event with no students present, because some other adult in the room got offended apparently.  And even if students were present (which is apparently a point of contention) are they actually being harmed by someone saying a prayer?  If these people don’t believe God exists, then what do they care anyway?  When a young child has an “imaginary” friend, have you ever known someone to get bent out of shape about it?  This is absurdity.  This school district is completely out of its mind, which is shown by another tidbit in this story:

Mr. Staver said the district also agreed to forbid senior class President Mary Allen from speaking at the school’s May 30 graduation ceremony on the chance that the young woman, a known Christian, might say something religious.

“She was the first student body president in 33 years not allowed to speak,” he said.

Heaven forbid, that a person might say something religious at a school graduation.  Actually, heaven is OK with it; it is man who wants to forbid it.

Categories: Christianity, Culture, Freedom, Persecution | 3 Comments

A Matter of Interpretation?

I have held back on commenting about the recent issues in the ELCA meetings and their ultimate conclusion.  Frankly, it breaks my heart to watch as my brothers and sisters in Christ in the ELCA are betrayed in such a way.  There was an article that I read before the final vote was taken, and I want to highlight a couple of portions of it for this discussion.

For the ECLA, which has 4.8 million members and 10,500 churches — including 90 churches in the Washington area — the vote is a culmination of years of debate over whether Scripture permits homosexuality.

This word permits lies at the very heart of the problem.  One of my good Lutheran friends recently posted a youtube clip that touches on this attitude at his site.  I am not saying I agree with the man in the clip, because his message is indeed incomplete, but he calls out the very nature of this attitude that seeks to find how much sin God will allow us to dive into without damaging the relationship with Him.  The answer is very simple: none.  Sin is serious business to God.  It is the reason that Jesus suffered and died on the cross.  We can’t pay for our sin.  We can’t sin less and make God love us more.  When we walk the path of trying to figure out what God permits us to “get away with” we are missing the entire point of the Gospel itself.  God has given us the freedom to permit ourselves to death and that is what we are prone to do.  It is only in the realization that because of His great mercy we are not consumed, but rather have been loved and sacrificed for that we cast ourselves on that mercy and grace and run to Him.  We don’t “set terms” with God.  It is done His way or it isn’t done at all.

Great is your mercy, O LORD;
give me life according to your rules. (Psalm 119:156)

There really isn’t any ambiguity in God’s Word regarding homosexuality or any number of other sins.  There is a consistent witness in both the Old and the New Testament that condemns any sexual acts outside of a husband(male) and wife (female) in a marriage relationship.  There are also a host of positive statements regarding marriage and sex inside of that God given institution.  It is not simply a matter of interpretation as some have tried to construe it:

But those supporting the proposal maintain they aren’t going against Scripture.

“There’s no question about the authority of Scripture” in the Lutheran Church, said Phil Soucy, a spokesman for Lutherans Concerned, a pro-gay-rights group within the ECLA. “But we certainly can debate the interpretation of Scripture. . . . The very idea that questioning someone else’s interpretation of Scripture constitutes an assault on the authority of Scripture is nonsense.”

This is worse than parsing the definition of “is” in a grand jury.  Taking plain language from Scripture (that is oftentimes more specific and graphic in the original language than it is in our translations) and trying to say that it doesn’t really mean what it says due to some heuristic gymnastics is simply disingenuous.  It is a fancy way of repeating Satan’s oldest trick of asking, “did God really say _______?”(thanks for the repeated use of that quote in our discussions at Steve’s blog goes to Larry)

My heart grieves with my brothers and sisters both online and in person who are affected now by this and my prayers are with them and those in the ELCA who wish to continue to stand for the integrity of God’s Word and His character.

Categories: Christianity, church, Culture, Gospel, Grace, Heresy, Law, Signs of the Times, theology, Truth | 3 Comments

Sunday Morning 8/23/09

We had a great service Sunday morning.  God is so gracious and good to us.  This week’s sermon is entitled God is No Respecter of Persons and focuses largely on Acts 10.  Click on the play button below to listen and follow along with the notes if you wish.  May God bless you this week

God is No Respecter of Persons

Sermon Notes for 8/23/09

  1. A lesson on equality from Deuteronomy 17:14-20

    1. Knowing God’s Law

    2. All are equal before God

  2. Don’t fear any man – Isaiah 51:12-13

    1. Psalm 118:6

    2. Psalm 56

    3. Matthew 10:26-33

    4. Romans 8:31-39

  3. God is no respecter of persons – Acts 10

    1. Cornelius didn’t earn God’s favor – Isaiah 66:1-2

    2. The meaning of Peter’s vision

      1. It’s not about food – v. 28

      2. This is about God’s promise

        1. Genesis 22:15-18;

        2. Isaiah 66:1-2, 18-23;

        3. Micah 4:1-5

      3. The message of the gospel is the same for all – Acts 10:34-43

Categories: Gospel, Podcasts, Sermon, Torah Readings | Leave a comment

Looking for Signs and Wonders

Would you like to know a surefire way to be deceived?  Depend on signs and wonders to authenticate the message of a teacher or pastor.  Signs and wonders by themselves are completely useless to use in determining the authority or authenticity of a person or message.  This week, I have been studying the Torah portion in Deuteronomy and this section from chapter 13 caught my eye:

1“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ 3you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. 5But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

My sermon from last Sunday touched on this principle.  It doesn’t matter what kind of signs or wonders or miracles a person does; if their message contradicts the Word of God, they are a liar and a deceiver and we shouldn’t listen to them if we love God.  Christians should know this as a matter of course, since Scripture has already warned us ahead of time.  Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica to tell them (and us as well):

7For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. 8And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. 9The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. (2 Thessalonians 2:7-9)

The man of lawlessness (read antichrist) is going to show plenty of signs and wonders.  He will be impressive and deceive a lot of people with the show.  His trademark for those who are paying attention will be his “lawlessness.”  It might be helpful to understand this term better.

The Greek word for lawless in this passage is anomos, which literally means “without law.”  Paul doesn’t use this term often, but it is used by him to denote those who are not observant of God’s “Law” i.e. the Law of Moses.  Thessalonians thus tells us that the one who will deceive many with signs and wonders will fail this test that was mentioned all the way back in Deuteronomy 13.  The early church didn’t flaunt God’s law or say it was nullified or done away with or they would have failed this test as well.  Look for instance at the story of Stephen in Acts 6-7.  The text makes it plain that the accusations that Stephen was not speaking against the law:

8And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. 9Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. 10But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. 11Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, 13and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, 14for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.” 15And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel. (Acts 6:8-15, emphasis mine)

Let me take three things from this passage.  First, note that Stephen was speaking in the synagogue.  The early church met among their fellow Jews and this would necessitate them continuing to observe the Law (including the Sabbath by the way) to maintain good fellowship and witness with the people that Acts reports they had.  Second, note that the charges that Steven was speaking against the holy place and the law were false charges.  This means that he was still speaking well of God’s law and the law of Moses (see Matthew 5:18).  Third, note that they emphasized that it was the customs that Moses delivered to the Jews that they said Jesus wanted to change.  Their statement in this regard is true (Jesus did predict the destruction of the Temple and also cited problems with the customs of Moses that the Pharisees and others followed), but the customs of Moses refer to the unwritten instructions that Jews believe were handed down.  Jesus didn’t nullify the Word of God or the Law; it would be like contradicting Himself (since He is the Word of John 1:1).  Jesus did set them straight on their “traditions of men.”

The reason that I bring this up is that there are many people today (even in the church) who would suggest that God’s Law is null and void or done away with somehow.  This is patently absurd (see Matthew 5:18 again) and even if they can do amazing miracles to back up their claim, you should not listen to them or believe them.  Signs and wonders don’t mean a thing, God’s Word is what counts.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever. (Isaiah 40:8)

Categories: Apologetics, Bible Thoughts, Christianity, church, devotional, Discipleship, False Teachers, Law, Sabbath, theology, Truth | 7 Comments

Sunday Morning 8/16/09

Here is the sermon audio from this past Sunday.  I am preaching texts that are taken from the weekly Torah readings schedule at this time and expect God to richly bless this sytematic study of His Word.  The notes for this sermon are available below as they appeared in the bulletin insert.  May God bless you.

Knowing the Way

Sermon Notes for 8/16/09

  1. God’s Way (Deuteronomy 11:18-28)

    1. Listen and obey

    2. God’s commandments are for His people

      1. They kept His people strong – 11:8-9

      2. The blessings and the curses

      3. Jesus removed the curse of the Law (Galatians 3:6-14)

  2. Man’s Way (Deuteronomy 12:1-8; 13:1-11)

    1. Doing right in our own eyes – 12:8

    2. Deceivers with credentials – 13:1-5

    3. Well meaning friends or family – 13:6-11

    4. If anyone tries to lead you contrary to God’s Word; don’t listen to them

  3. Following The Way (Acts 9)

    1. Early believers were called followers of the Way

      1. John 14:6

      2. There is only one Way

    2. The invitation – Isaiah 55:1-11

      1. You can’t buy your way in

      2. Hear and Obey – 55:3-11

Categories: Deuteronomy, Podcasts, Sermon, Torah Readings | 1 Comment

Sunday Morning 8/9/09

Finally have the sermon audio from this Sunday morning ready to post.  Sorry for the long delay for those of you who are faithful listeners.  I am going to just post the audio as part of the posts going forward.  If someone wishes to have the sermon available to download, please let me know in the comments.

Here are the notes from the sermon and the audio button to play it.  May God bless you richly.

The Servant of the Lord

Sermon Notes for 8/9/09 (Isaiah 50:4-11)

  1. Learning by listening

    1. Jesus learned how to please God – v. 4

      1. Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16; 22:39; Matthew 14:23

      2. Jesus increased in wisdom – Luke 2:52

    2. Jesus obeyed God – v. 5

  2. The cost of obedience

    1. His trial and crucifixion – v. 6-9

    2. Jesus fulfilled these verses – Matthew 26:67; Mark 15:19

    3. Is this what we should expect as well?

      1. Matthew 5:10-12

      2. John 15:20

      3. 2 Timothy 3:10-13

    4. Deuteronomy 8:11-20 – the ease of forgetting God

  3. Hear and obey – Love the lord and keep his commandments

    1. Proverbs 3:5-6

      1. Listen to Him – Mark 9:2-8

      2. Don’t just listen – Do! – James 1:22-25

    2. Do it God’s way – v. 11

      1. Don’t create your own light

      2. Psalm 119:105

Categories: Isaiah, Podcasts, Sermon, Torah Readings | Leave a comment

The Business of Faith

For me the realization came a few years ago when I was given a book about how to succeed in the Christian music industry.  I had never thought of it as an “industry” before, but I as I finished the book written by those who were Christian musicians that I admired and considered gifted, there was no escaping the truth.  I have nothing wrong with business in general, but most modern business principles are far removed from the standards of behavior that God calls His people to uphold.  There is a new commentary out that sheds light on another Christian artistic “industry” in the publishing realm.

Just a couple of highlights from the commentary:

For example, two weeks ago at the International Christian Retail Show in Denver, Zondervan had its usual, large presence. The Grand Rapids-based publisher produces a large number of mainstream titles each year and is perhaps best known for its Bibles. What many “average” Christians do not know is that for 20 years, Zondervan has been owned by the gigantic New York house, Harper Collins.

When a Christian publisher is bought out by a large secular company, it is not possible for the formerly Christian-owned entity to decide for itself just how Christian it will be. Profit and loss become the all-consuming drivers.

I seem to recall something in Scripture about being unable to serve both God and Mammon(i.e. money).  Christian consumerism has reached the point that we expect and almost demand to have a “Christian” version of anything and everything without realizing or caring where it comes from or what effect it has on the name of Christ.  I am not out to become a watchblogger or a discernablogger or whatever those other nicknames are, but I am convicted that we need to find a better way forward.  We cannot afford to insulate ourselves from the world by creating a Christian cocoon with our own little everything, neither can we afford to allow non-Christians to dictate or decide what is declared the latest Christian must have based on slick marketing.

The problem extends to the “Christian” bookstores as well, which you will know intuitively if you have been to one lately.  Check out this anecdote:

Several years ago at a convention, I was talking with a salesman for a CBA publisher. He told me that a few weeks before, he had presented product to buyers at two separate Christian store chains.

One buyer told him she thought the Bible was nothing more than myth; the other openly challenged the idea that Adam and Eve were real people.

This explains a lot of what I have seen lately in some of the Christian bookstores in our area.  How can we escape from Christian consumerism or do we even need to?  I think a good first step is to not indulge the beast of consumerism itself.  This is an area where I have plenty of problems in my own house so I am not pointing fingers elsewhere, just raising the issue.  What do you think?

Categories: Apologetics, Christianity, Culture, False Teachers, Heresy, Signs of the Times, Truth | 6 Comments

Ecclesiastes 1:9-11

There is nothing new underneath the sun is a familiar quotation from Scripture:

9 What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
10Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has been already
in the ages before us.
11There is no remembrance of former things,
nor will there be any remembrance
of later things yet to be
among those who come after.

Another way to say these words of caution is the common saying that those who fail to remember the past are doomed to repeat it.  Take both of these sayings together as you watch/listen to this warning and crusade against “socialized medicine” in 1961 by a man who would later be President of the U.S.

I wonder what will become of the current debate.  Will we learn from the past that this attempt to destroy freedom in our country is not a new tactic, but an old one?  Will we fight back once again to hold freedom for a little while longer yet?

Categories: Culture, Freedom, politics, Truth | 4 Comments

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