Friday, March 26, 2010

Art is Not Redemptive

When ever you see Christians looking to the arts for redemptive value, you can be sure they have lost the cross. God couldn't have been clearer - the cross is offensive. On it the Holy Son of God died a death of blood and grossness. In it, God displayed Himself in art that offends, and is offensive to look at.

The cross when properly seen also shows the ugliness of human pride, which is another way of saying it shows how ugly humanity is. And its far uglier than any human artist will ever be willing to show. Art can't reach human rebellion. Which is why it is worthless to redemption.

Those who are trying to reach the present generation through the arts leave the grossness God behind - the cross of God - and leave God behind. Art has never, ever, been a drawing tool used by the Holy Spirit The written and spoken word is. Even in the OT, all that was made in the tabernacle had to reflect symmetry and nature, not man's artistic aspirations. Nor did it ever identify with man's fallenness, as so much art does today. All of the tabernacle reflected heaven, Exodus 25:40. Art is fine for art's sake. Let's just not confuse it and make it more than it is.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Political v. Spiritual Leadership

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17). The freedom the Spirit gives is the liberation from sin and the flesh. No where is there more important than in those entrusted with leadership in the church.

Without The Titus Mandate, church leadership descends into the realm of the political. Below is a quick list of the differences between church leadership compromised with the world and sin, versus church leadership under the control of God’s Spirit.

Take a moment and reflect on the past few board meetings, and on the past few conflicts. Take a moment to honestly ask yourself where you may fall short, and where your church may fall short.

Those practices that mark the political church are marked by (P). Those that show the converse spiritual practice are marked by (S).

1. Prefers man-made traditions over the Bible in solving church problems (P).

1. Seeks God's mind in all things (2 Tim. 3:16-17) (S).

2. Resists Biblical teaching on divisive topics for fear of conflict (P).

2. Seeks God's mind in all things (2 Tim. 3:16-17) (S).

3. Deals with problems by going to votes (P).

3. Deals with problems by confronting the heart (Heb. 4:12-13, Rom. 15:14) (S).

4. Forms alliances and factions to promote agenda (James 4:1-4). Power is in numbers (P).

4. Seeks God's mind, even if having to be taught by the one who opposes you on an issue. Power is in God (S).

5. Hides agenda and resists openness (P).

5. Offers up one's life and decisions for examination (2 Cor. 4:2) (S).

6. In problem situations seeks to bind the conscience of the Christian to man-made documents (P).

6. Seeks to not bind the conscience of the Christian to man-made documents but to the Bible alone (Mat. 4:4) (S).

7. Exegetes man-made documents when conflicts arise (P).

7. Exegetes the Bible when conflicts arise (S).

8. Seeks to solve conflicts by appeasement and compromise (P).

8. Seeks to solve conflicts by faith and repentance to clear biblical principles (S).

9. Avoids the heart issues and struggles by storing up accusations for public meetings (P).

9. Deals with heart issues and struggles of fellow sinners first Gal. 6:1, Mat. 18:15ff (S).

10. Willing to accomplish agenda while bypassing biblical principles (Mat. 7:12) (P).

10. Changes agenda when biblical principles are threatened (Mat. 7:12) (S).

11. Views those in authority with suspicion whose power needs to be curbed (P).

11. Views those in authority with submission whose power is granted by God (1 Thess. 5:12-13, Heb. 13:17) (S).

12. Does not seek to understand problems first, but rather to make political gain by casting problems in a self-advantageous light (P).

12. Seeks to solve problems within biblical guidelines, seeking facts first, speaking to all involved people first, all the while looking at how to apply the Bible (Gal. 6:1, Mat. 18:15ff) (S).

13. Seeks security in man-made methods (P).

13. Seeks security in God's pattern in the Scripture (S).

14. Creates a heart of self-righteousness and self-vindication (P).

14. Creates a heart of humility and fear of the Lord (S).

15. Seeks to create peace by compromise (P).

15. Seeks to create peace by righteousness (James 3:18) (S).

16. Qualified by popular election to serve (P).

16. Qualified by God's Word to Serve (1 Tim. 3:1-15) (S).

17. Promotes territoriality instead of servanthood (i.e., protecting a board) (P).

17. Promotes servanthood instead of territoriality (S).

18. Resists and criticizes Scriptural teaching that confronts political structure (P).

18. Seeks God's mind in all things (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

19. Resists and criticizes Scriptural teaching that confronts the sins that the political structure covers up (P).

19. Confronts the sins that the political structure covers up Mat. 14:3-4 (S).

20. Uses political means to take away oversight ministry (P).

20. Confronts wrongdoing to take away oversight ministry 1 Tim. 5:17-22 (S).

21. Resents and resists personal confrontation (P).

21. Welcomes personal confrontation (Mat. 5:3) (S).

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tiger, Buddhism, and Truth

If there is a living example of the truth of Christianity, its Tiger Woods. “What?,” you say.

Christianity deals with sin and repentance. Buddhism deals with sorrow, and inner tranquility. Buddhism points to resolving one’s inner conflicts within oneself. Christianity points to resolving one’s conflicts with those sinned against. Guess which world Tiger is actually living in?

Jesus didn’t say to look inside and find rest. He said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

I sure hope Tiger and his wife raise their children together, and especially, grow old together. But I can’t help but see Tiger walking down a 500 mile cul-de-sac with an impassable brick wall at the end called “self.”

Maybe if he turns to the Lord, and confesses his transgressions against Him, will he be spared a long and fruitless trip down life’s slow lane. But better, he will given grace that is greater than all his sin.

Monday, February 15, 2010

John 17:1

"Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You
John 17:1

Where do we see God’s glory best?

In skies and oceans blue,
In soaring mountain’s view?

In our newborn baby’s face,
Or in costly redeeming grace?

Above all earthy treasures, we see God’s glory best in the cross of Jesus Christ. When Jesus prays, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son,” He speaks of the hour of the cross as the time perfectly suited for the Father to showcase His Son’s glory.

The glory Jesus speaks of here is the exact glory He always had before the Father – eternal glory. This is the glory angels are denied in heaven. They simply aren’t able to withstand it. Jesus isn't referring to an earthly glory, but the glory He has eternally derived from the Father, and now is asking for. For the first time in over thirty years, God the Son will again be clothed in His eternal glory as He hangs and suffers for our sin.

On the cross God’s Son will display heaven’s best treasure. On the cross holiness, truth, love, and sovereignty will magnify each other. Wrath will meet mercy and patience will meet judgment. All these aspects of God, and more, will be displayed for all to see. If you want to see God’s glory best, look at the cross.

While thinking about these aspects of God on a cross, don’t miss the Father and Son relationship shown there. The Son dies because He loves to do His Father’s will – because He loves His Father unreservedly. Jesus highest goal in the cross is to display His Father. Thus John 17:1 finishes, “that the Son may glorify You.” Jesus knows His death’s highest motive is to bring His Father glory. His Father is glorified by glorifying His Son whom He judges in our place. Jesus’ submission and love for His Father, eternally true, is our sacrifice before God. The cross displays God exactly as He has been, is, and ever shall be.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

New Book

I'm thinking about writing the next book...

As many of you know, my favorite topic, my favorite EVERYTHING, is the Trinity. So I'd like to put together a book called something like "The Devotional Trinity."

Essentially, each page will be a self-contained unit of one Scripture verse, or portion of Scripture verse, along with interpretation, meditation and application. It will be a little guide for those who want to love God the trinity and wish to muse devotionally upon His glory and greatness.

It will essentially be a book to feed and nurture God's worship.

At the same time, it will fortify the soul with mind-blowing truth.

"When I say God, I mean trinity" - Gregory of Nazianzus - d. 389.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Six Boasts of Every Christian - Romans 5:1-11

I count 6 boasts of every Christian described in Romans 5:1-11 - Here they are, with the text underneath. Enjoy -

An Unshakable Foundation (Romans 5:1-2a)

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand

An Invincible Destination (5:2b-4)

and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;

An Undeniable Consolation (5:5)

and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

An Inexplicable Demonstration (5:6-8)

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

An Unbreakable Connection (5:9-10)

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

An Unmistakable Exultation (5:11)

And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

Every one of these boasts was earned by Christ on our behalf!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Eldership Testimonial - Hope Bible Church

Here's a nice testimonial to the value of eldership from Maryland:

I submit myself to elder-governed churches because, assuming the church follows strict biblical guidelines for selecting elders, you know that men of spiritual maturity and integrity are leading the flock. Unlike congregation-governed churches, you do not have immature Christians (or sometimes unbelievers) making critical spiritual decisions for the church. Since the majority of the responsibility falls on the shoulders of the elders, this fosters discernment as well as humility among the elders of the church. Under this type of leadership, the members are properly cared for (no one puts his personal agenda ahead of the work of the church) and spiritually led (mature men making spirit-filled decisions), and Christ is glorified in the relationship between the leaders and members of the church.

Brian K., Hope Bible Church, Columbia, MD

Check out their web page and pastor, Tom Leake: