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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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The Buzz


Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
- C-Train

This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
 
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Wednesday, November 30, 2005
I am disgusted.
From time to time I mention my mentor, Bill Mcleod.

It is enough to say that Bill is a man whom God has greatly used in the past - most notably in the Canadian revival of 1971.

I could tell you about the revival, but Bill does it best himself. If you have an hour or so, you should watch this video.

If any -one- thing characterized that revival, it was genuine brokenness. This was not some wild and screaming orgy of bizarre and questionable phenomenons - it was an orderly and genuine repentance that resulted in profound new life in the church, in only a few short weeks, hundreds of converts became thousands, and everywhere men and women were getting "right" with one another and with God.

As would be expected, Pastor Bill has had ample opportunity since then to speak about the revival - and having seen the mighty hand of God at work up close and personal, Pastor Bill has promoted revival ministry ever since.

Now when I say "revival ministry" I get into a bit of a bind because revival means all sorts of things to all sorts of people. I am not talking about emotionalism or the pseudo-mystical hoo-ha that is often passed off as revival - I am talking about a pouring out of God's Spirit that results not in confusion and weirdness - but in changed hearts and lives. The revival in Saskatoon saw not only thousands come to Christ - but hundreds enter into full time ministry.

So it was not unusual when one day some ladies showed up at Pastor Bill's house asking to interview him on camera. They explained that they were making some sort of historical documentary on Spirituality in Canada, and wanted to include details about what happened in 1971 in Saskatoon as part of it.

Pastor Bill gave the interview, and signed the release forms, and months later received an invitation in the mail to attend the screening of the film. The screening was to be held in Toronto, and so Pastor Bill decided to attend.

That was the weekend before last.

I spoke with Bill about it yesterday and he was quite dissapointed at how it turned out.

It seems the ladies who did the interviews were associated with the extreme fringe of the charismatic movement (Read: "Toronto Blessing crowd") and sandwiched his interview in the midst of a movie portraying convulsing, gesticulating, and barking in the Spirit as divine in origin and typical attendant phenomenon of genuine revival. Pastor Bill was filled with disgust - the revival in Saskatoon was the polar opposite of the stuff seen in the Toronto blessing, and to have himself portrayed as legitimizing (or even being remotely associated with) the Toronto Blessing crowd filled him with disgust - not for his own name's sake - but for the ministries he is associated with that may be tarnished through the association.

It disgusts me to see these people associate themselves and their highly suspect buffoonery with this godly old saint and his genuine ministry. Worse than the original offense is the reluctancy to correct it.

After the film ended, it was announced that Pastor Bill was in the audience and that he was going to come and give a closing prayer. Pastor Bill was on his feet in a heart beat - not towards the front - but, as he wryly said to me last night, "I voted with my feet!" - he walked out, disgusted, and feeling betrayed.

He is currently working to try and have his interview and all association with him removed from the film - they have said they are "praying about it" - but the film is already being marketed. At the very list he would like to see a disclaimer that firmly denies any association between the Canadian Revival Fellowship and this fringe crowd. We shall see what happens. I suspect a lot of lipservice and perhaps a token, innocuous and vague disclaimer...

I asked him last night if I could write about it on my blog - just in case anyone sees the film and thinks he is associated with them. I don't have the name of the film, but there is a website - though I didn't get the address last night - I will update the post when I do.

Sigh - what a world!

UPDATE: The movie is called, “ From the River to the Ends of the Earth, and was produced by Marney Blom – the founder/director of Acts News Network. If the name sounds familiar it is because she produced the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship’s (formerly Toronto Airport Vineyard Church of “Toronto Blessing” fame) "Catch The Fire" television program.
posted by Daniel @ 9:22 AM   19 comment(s)
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
The Truth laid bear,
A lowly insect...

The Truth Laid Bear blogosphere "ecosystem" is being renovated. I have plummetted from a flappy bird, to a lowly insect. <insert sad smiley face here>

It is good to see the system get an overhaul - though I suspect no one is happy to see themselves move five or six rungs down the food chain - nevertheless the evolutionary steps will more accurately reflect one's standing in the blogosphere. The difference between a flappy bird and an insignificant microbe ought not to be a double saw-bucks worth of links.

So here I am once again - entomologically challenged as it were, but ready to make a buzz if given the chance.
posted by Daniel @ 9:43 AM   6 comment(s)
Monday, November 28, 2005
Oh to be like thee...
I SurrenderOne of the hardest things I do as a Christian is surrender. It isn't a one time deal, but a continual, moment by moment determination to submit myself to the will of God.

Success in this endeavor is always and ever plagued by guilt of previous failures, questions of personal motive, a lack of sincerity, and even a lack of love and desire.

Always and ever my heart cries out for God to make it easier for me. But God hasn't done that - God is not doing that, and God will never do that. God doesn't promise that anywhere in scripture. What God promises isn't a body that no longer desires to sin - but a heart that no longer desires to sin.

That old stone heart that used to not care about whether I was sinning or not - that is gone, and instead I have a new heart of flesh that is sensitive to sin - God's Spirit inside me convicting me of sin, and putting in me a genuine desire for righteousness. God hasn't "healed" my flesh so that I no longer suffer temptation - even Jesus was tempted, and I shouldn't expect to have it that much easier that Jesus.

Yet sometimes that is exactly what I want - oh, let's be honest - I want that all the time. I want to be free from temptation and clean before my God.

But what is my motive for that? There are two - one is utterly sinful, the other utterly divine. The utterly divine motive I have briefly mentioned - God's spirit is in me. 'Nuff said. But the utterly sinful motive ought to mentioned too.

The sinful motive is that I want to be free from temptation so that I don't need God anymore. Why without temptation, or perhaps more specifically without the desire to act upon the temptation and thus fulfill some sinful desire - be it gluttony, immorality, deceit, greed, - you know the list. I would rather sit sinless (and therefore absolutely content until the day I die) without ever having to wonder whether or not I was being "good enough" to be a Christian.

That last little bit is the horrible little deceit that the enemy throws in the mix. Deep down inside there is the errant notion that if I am without sin I am more pleasing to God. Did you catch the lie? Deep down inside there is a lie that says, "Daniel, you can please God in your flesh if you are without sin."

How do we deal with such lies? The truth of course. "Without faith it is impossible to please God" and "He made us accepted in the Beloved. " I know in my mind that my standing with the Lord has everything to do with the finished work of Christ on the cross. Christ's righteoussness imputed to me makes me acceptable, because I am in Him - in the beloved. I accept this through faith - the only way possible for me to be pleasing to God.

So the struggle is not one of truth vs. the lie for long - next it because a struggle of resting in the truth - even walking in the truth.

The flesh, defeated by the truth, then goes into "feelings" mode. Surely something is amiss spiritually because I "feel so down" - perhaps I messed up somehow? Here the doubt kicks in - am I really saved? Surely a child of God would be less tempted than I - less horrible inside? I can put on the Pharisee with the best of them, but can I put on Christ? Am I walking with my God or remarkably deceived? Okay - to be sure, this stuff doesn't bother me that much - the truth is I am saved not because of how I feel, but because of God's promise. His promises are not weakened by my faithlessness. Yet some of our brethren can be mired here - and it is worth mentioning - whatever we feel is not important - the truth is important - and the truth is that God cannot lie or break a promise - even if I "feel" like I did it all wrong, God isn't operating according to my transient feelings, but according to His own will.

Moving from feelings and doubt, I find myself left at the cross - I have pulled myself through the mire of doubt, and feelings, passed all the lies and whatnot - and I am left at the foot of my own cross - do I die to all that I am? Or put another way - do I stop trusting my own arm to save me?? Or put another way - am I willing right now to step out of whatever habit or rut I have this day embarked upon and instead kneel in my heart before my God and give my will over to Him? Will he lead me astray? Of course not. Will offering myself as a living sacrifice on the altar of His glory be rejected? Only if I am doing it for show. Must I pick up the cross today? Yes my son, every day is Gethsemane, or you are not worthy of me.

Oh, I am thirsty Lord, But while I might desire a drink because of that thirsty, I am not willing to give all I have for that - I am thirsty, but not THAT thirsty.

Then you are not thirsty enough!

What can I do to make myself thirsty enough??

Nothing. God makes you thirsty. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit - you cannot in your flesh give birth to a spiritual desire. You must confess your need to God - he will work it out - you can't trust your own arm in this, you cannot lean on your own understanding - you must acknowledge that if it is going to be done - the Lord will do it.

How will he do it?

Oh, there are many ways to make a man surrender...
posted by Daniel @ 7:04 AM   11 comment(s)
Friday, November 25, 2005
Fun filled weekend coming up!
I was tempted to post a picture of the atypical overworked person, stressed, and paralyzed by an insurmountable workload - but I thought better of it. My weekend is going to be very full, not only with pressing church commitments (business meeting on Saturday, and I just found out today I am doing the Sunday Morning Adult bible Study again this week) - not to mention my son's birthday party on Sunday evening. There are a also other pressing issues that perhaps make all this stuff look small in comparison - but you know what?

Jesus Christ lives in me. This stuff will all disappear one day - burn up in fire, and all that is going to remain is my love for God - so why grouse? Praise the Lord! What a great God we (try to) serve! He has loved me, and adopted me - how can I complain about the moment when I am so loved by such a great God??

<clicks heals together>

Have a great weekend, and pay attention in church on Sunday - God will speak to you if you let Him.
posted by Daniel @ 4:38 PM   4 comment(s)
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Lethal Irony...

This article could have been entitled whom is killing who?

Commenting on the news and whatnot is not my forte, but I noticed the article and thought it would make a good read for those who are not in the know.

<-- Like the picture? I am not sure if it is a photoshop retouch - but I still think it looks cool.
posted by Daniel @ 12:51 PM   3 comment(s)
Flappy Bird...
Once again much appreciation is in order, to all you people who have linked to my blog.

Deep inside me there is a Frank Turkian desire to see the stats go up, up, up - so why try and mask my glee? Yippee! A flappy bird!

Okay, I got that off my chest. It has been my sad experience however to note that TTLB often evolves you then de-evolves you a few times before the evolutionary progression gels.

So I will likely be a slithtering Reptile again - but for the moment it is all rainbows and sunshine. hence the splash of color on the sides.

Speaking of splashes of color, Frank Turk has added some holiday fire to his blog - the yellow is a bit hard on my eyes - but it is only temporary I am sure. At first I thought something was broken (I am so accustomed to the colorscheme there) Carla, followed suit - not so much a tribute but just taking the idea for a spin. Marc hasn't changed his IBM blue.

We don't celebrate Thanksgiving on this weekend here in Canada - nevertheless I think Phil Johnson is onto something big here with his modern family tradition. If only the Italians had landed on Plymouth Rock! We wouldn't be eating flappy birds every Thanksgiving...
posted by Daniel @ 11:19 AM   12 comment(s)
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Phil Johnson link!

Aproximately 23 hours ago - with no fanfare whatsoever, Phil Johnson added this blog to the Entertainment section of his blogroll!

<speechless>

Okay, I have liked Phil's blog since before I started blogging - in fact, it was because Phil had a blog that I even started blogging! So seeing my blog in his blog roll - well - it was pretty sweet.

I was hoping to get a bumper sticker - but a blog link is a whole lot cooler!

Thanks Phil!
posted by Daniel @ 2:55 PM   8 comment(s)
The Counterfeit "Gift of Tongues"
One thing that Cessationists and Continuationists must agree upon - there are very counterfeit versions of the gifting of tongues.

The first, and perhaps most prevalent is the faux "gift" of speaking gibberish. While this should be entirely self evident, I will express it in words never the less: One does not need the Spirit of God indwelling them to inarticulately grunt and groan. No matter what sort of passion a person might pour into their own personal ululating gibber, it is not the Spirit of God doing it.

Pretty much every false religion known to man includes this sort of "speaking in tongues." As a general rule of thumb:
a) if someone has to teach you how to do it, or
b) if you actually had to convince yourself that this "gift" isn't phoney-balogna or isn't something you are doing in your own strength, or
c) if no one on earth (including yourself) can translate what you are saying...
Chances are that this gift is all in your head.

There are some out there who contend that there are two types of tongues - the kind that happened at Pentecost (intelligible language), and another less defined variety that is interpreted out of 1 Corinthians - a personal prayer language.

Now, there are many who believe in the second variety - and were I to say that the second variety is entirely bunk, and perhaps could be the poster child for the word bunk - being so saturated with everything that bunkness describes - I would likely take some heat for that. So I will carefully avoid sharing my own opinions in the matter.

I will however say that if there *is* a private prayer language - it certainly isn't the counterfeit that commonly passes for it - and that is my point - counterfeits.

I am not decrying that there is no such thing as the gift of tongues - my mind is not made up yet - but I am decrying that there --IS-- such a thing as a counterfeit - and it is the counterfeit that I am speaking against.

Whether or not we can agree on "cessationism" we ought to be able to agree that there are worldly counterfeits - and be on our guard against them.
posted by Daniel @ 8:11 AM   13 comment(s)
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Why stop at baby dedications?
Marc, over at Purgatorio, got me to thinking again - why stop with baby dedications?








(Pet Baptism Kit)
posted by Daniel @ 2:56 PM   6 comment(s)
Spiritual gifts...
A post over at Jonathan Moorhead's blog got me to thinking about the nature of spiritual gifting.

If you are like I was, your "spiritual gift" expectations are rather indistinct. We know there that spiritual gifts exist and we know even the categories of gifting - we are even certain that we have been gifted, but we are not really sure about the details. Others seem more confident that we are gifted one way or another than we are ourselves.

I hope that what I write will be used by the Spirit to shed a bit of light on this whole thing - that is, if I have some light on the issue, I would be glad to share it.

The bible makes a clear distinction between what is of the flesh and what is of the spirit. It draws that hard line between the two on purpose - whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit - in other words, that which is spiritual is not born of the flesh - it doesn't operate in a carnal way, and it has nothing at all to do with our old self.

We all would agree with that pretty quickly I suppose, but the conclusion drawn from this opening premise is that we shouldn't expect a spiritual gifting to function in our flesh. That is, the spiritual gifts operate in our spirit, as opposed to our flesh (how apropos!)

Perhaps the best description I can give is this: "A spiritual gift is a manifestation of the very heart of God when it is poured out into the believer's own spirit."

For example, God is generous. Amen? of course God is generous, the scriptures tell us so! When God imparts this divine sentiment into a believer's spirit, the believer's spirit is saturated with this particular aspect of God's nature. The result is that if God imparts into the believer the gift of generosity - the believer receives a special attenuation (if you will) with God's own generosity - the believer thereafter longs in his or her spirit to act upon the God endowed impetus to be charitable. Simply put, the believer has a new found spiritual hunger to be generous to others.

Likewise, God is The Teacher. When God endows a believer with the desire to see other believers mature in their knowledge of, and especially their relationship to/with God - that desire comes because God has imparted a sense of his own hunger for men to learn about Him into the believer.

Etc. The gifts work in the spirit. The believer who is gifted with discernment strives for spiritual clarity, the evangelist is hungry for souls etc. All the spiritual gifts therefore are, at their very heart, manifestations of God's own character distributed throughout the church.

That is why unity in the church is such an imperative - God is not fully manifested in a church where believers are divided.
posted by Daniel @ 8:50 AM   9 comment(s)
Sunday, November 20, 2005
There are few things so edifying in the Christian blogosphere as a kind word from a godly peer.

For those of you who have never been to Purgatorio, it a wonderful blog, and Marc Heinrich is the fellow who maintains it.

Marc seems to have a bottomless wit, and an endless supply of images that he compiles, then presents. The result is sometimes comic, sometimes thought provoking - but always interesting. Thankfully Marc is also somewhat prolific - not making you wait days on end for a post - but often posting more than once a day.

My advice? Link your blog to Marc's so that it is easier to find next time. I go there daily, and haven't been disappointed yet.

Plus Tim Challies made him king for a week last week, so you know he is doing something right!

I like the award, though, I don't think I actually want to get out of Purgatorio since I go there willingly two or three times a day! Do yourself some good - visit his site and enjoy.
posted by Daniel @ 4:35 PM   10 comment(s)
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Avoiding the Cross...
We have all seen them - the roadside cross.

They mark that one spot on the road where somebody, at some point in time, suddenly stopped breathing forever.

The cross has been a symbol of death ever since the Romans decided it would be a new and improved way to kill people.

In order to avoid having our own cross on the side of the road, we drive as responsibly as possible. We love our life after all, and want to avoid dying if at all possible.

It is for that very reason that few Christians these days are living crucified lives - we want to avoid the cross like the plague.

In order to avoid giving ourselves entirely to God, we pursue morality, virtue, spirituality, theology, or even ministry. But in holding onto that little portion of our self, we fail to give up our lives - the very thing that keeps our flesh breathing. Oh we wonder where the streams of living water are that are supposed to be flowing out of our innermost being - but we fail to understand that until we give up our life (that is, all rights to our life and the control of it), we should not hope to be raised into "newness of life" because we are still "carnal" - we are saved, but walking in the flesh.

It is the cross that God uses to slay us - but because we don't want to die we instead linger on in our death throes - trying to do good but without the power of God - a power that can only come through the cross. We certainly have the mould that looks like godliness, but the mould or form of our godliness lacks God's power. We say that we are walking in the light -but we are lying because we are really walking in darkness. Oh, we say - not pure darkness - but scripture is a knife - it tells us that light has no fellowship with darkness at all - that if we have any fellowship with darkness whatsoever, we are not walking in the light as Christ is in the light - and that is why we don't fellowship with God as we ought - or one another. Don't get me wrong - we want to be crucified, just as a thirsty man wants water - but every time we try and nail ourselves to the cross, we find we still have one hand free - and for all our good intentions - we immediately take ourselves off the cross as soon as it becomes inconvenient. A thirsty man might want water - but few thirsty men are willing to pay all they own or will ever own to have a drink.

The reality is that no one can crucify themselves - crucifixion is not accomplished through suicide, nor indeed can it be. We neither pick the time, the place, nor even the duration of our own execution - we are not in control because that crucifixion by which we are being crucified, is not something that we are doing to ourselves, but something that is being done to us - a process over which we have ultimately no control.

What then can we do?

Accept it. Having been crucified already, your job is not to kill yourself, but to offer your members as instruments of righteousness to God - to offer yourself to God as alive from the dead. Let God worry about putting you to death, you just worry about living each moment with your eyes on the Lord.

It is the hardest thing in the world at times to take our focus off ourselves - and trust God to sanctify us - we want to sanctify our own selves - why? So that we feel better. Isn't that sad? Even our motive to be sanctified is tainted by self. That is why God isn't running about trying to heal you - His cure is the cross, not the hospital. Our job is to trust that God is going to do everything He said He would. Not to let go and let God - but to hold on to the promises of God, and in order to do that, we need to let go of our own focus on keeping the outside of the cup pretty. Not that we have license to sin (God forbid!) but that we trust God to take away our stony unyielding hearts and give us hearts of flesh as He promised.
posted by Daniel @ 12:26 AM   5 comment(s)
Friday, November 18, 2005
Perseverence of the Saints.
About a year ago I was looking for free sermons in MP3 Format. I found a website called Sermonindex.net which was basically a revival oriented ministry that allowed you to freely download audio sermons in mp3 format. Thousands of sermons are available from preachers such as Leonard Ravenhill, A.W. Tozer, Jim Cymbala, Duncan Campbell, etc.

The site also provides a "message board" where believers from all over the world can share or discuss items related to their faith and their walk. It is moderated quite well so that most of the time disagreements do not become flame wars. I post on there from time to time under the moniker "dann" (Yeah, call me Mr. Creative...)

In that capacity I was reading some of the posts, when one caught my eye, thread entitled - "Once saved always saved."

If you have been reading my blog at all, you know that I just gave a study last Sunday morning on the perseverence of the Saints. So this one caught my eye. The original post asked for testimonies regarding people who formerly believed you could lose your salvation, and now believed in the perseverence of the saints. So I gave my testimony, which I thought would be fun to post here. I was going to clean it up a bit, but decided to just post it as I posted it there:

------8<------8<------8<------8<------

I used to believe that I could lose my salvation.

To be sure I prayed a prayer to Jesus Christ, asking him to save me, and my hopes rested on whether I had prayed that prayer faithfully enough. Had I said the right words? Did I really, really, really, mean it? etc.

I viewed my salvation, not in terms of the gospel as described in scripture, but in terms of whether or not I felt saved at that particular moment or not. To be certain – I rarely “felt” saved. Prior to coming to Christ my sins hardly bothered me at all – unless it meant I would get caught or humiliated on account of them. But once I saw myself as a sinner, and begged Christ to save me, my awareness of sin became overwhelmingly acute. Suddenly I saw that almost everything I thought, said, or did was sinful – and I began to repent with as much strength and power as a man can repent.

The trouble was that I couldn’t repent enough to be free from the feeling that I had plenty of room to go – and consequently, I never “felt” saved. I would have bouts of horrible doubt – was I really a child of God? Yes, God had delivered me from all manner of sinful living – yes my life had turned a complete 180 degrees – yes I was now in love with God, and reading scripture, and prayer – but still I was failing in some areas. I redoubled my efforts – lived for weeks in prayer – yet that didn’t stave off the doubts. I felt I was losing my salvation every time I left the throne of grace – and soon, I wasn’t even sure I was saved when I came to that throne.

None of this came from scripture mind you, I just felt that one who is saved ought to have some sort of salvation feeling – you know something esoteric, yet tangible, that one can inwardly check and instantaneously and unerringly determine whether or not they are a child of God or deceived: I overlooked some of the things in my own life:
  • the sudden sensitivity to sin
  • the radical shift away from wanting my own will accomplished and towards wanting God’s will accomplished
  • the sudden preference for goodie-two-shoes (Christians) who formerly made my
  • skin crawl
  • the sudden hunger to read the bible
  • the sudden desire to know God more
  • the peace found in prayer
  • the new found joy in seeing God glorified
I never would have considered that these things bore witness to the presence of God’s spirit in my life.

Now, I don’t want to confuse the issue – I didn’t feel assured of my salvation is all I am saying. But there is a difference between being assured and being secured. If you had the blood of the lamb on your lentil and doorpost in Egypt that first Passover – you were secure. You might not have felt assured, but your assurance or lack of it didn’t change the fact that you were secure. You could be resting comfortably sleeping like a baby trusting entirely in the blood of the lamb to save you, or you could be wide awake fretting about whether or not you applied the blood the right way to the lentil and the doorpost – and worrying about whether you had enough of it, or if you put it on thick enough or what have you. Your fretting doesn’t change your security – you are under the blood because of the blood, and not because you were particularly good at putting it on your doorpost.

In the same way, I don’t want to confuse assurance with security. One can be entirely secure and have absolutely no assurance whatsoever because they live their life in continuing sin, just as easily as one can be entirely lost – but presuming themselves saved, resting in a deluded form of false assurance.

My point is that I was not assured of my salvation – and in the strength of my doubt I felt that I was alternately saved or lost depending on how well my walk was going.

Most of my early faith therefore was not spent in pursuing Jesus, but rather in pursuing the feeling of being saved. The enemy kept me from growing very much spiritually in those days. My every thought was always and ever about whether or not I was a genuine believer, and so all my study and effort was focused on myself. I needed to stay saved, and as a result I wasn’t a very effective witness for Christ, being as I was, always and ever wrapped up in my own efforts to keep myself saved, or convince myself that I was saved in the first place.

Now, praise the Lord, in this time I did have a tremendous hunger for God’s word, and in the strength of this hunger, I devoured the bible. I read it cover to cover again and again – many times. Eventually what I understand now to be the truth began to sink in.

In the process of conception, not every sperm finds an egg to produce life, nor does every egg become fertilized. This might seem harsh and unfair to some – but most of us accept it without giving it much thought. Some believe it is all random anyway – but even these don’t weep for all the sperm and eggs that never produce a life. When life is conceived, it is fair to say that the life that is produced was not produced in any way of its own accord. That is, the child that is conceived had no say in the matter whatsoever – having not been a person until after conception.

Birth therefore is the perfect picture of our own inability. While everyone that lives today was born at some time – none of us can say that we had any part in the decision to actually be born. We were passively brought into this live by forces outside our existence. Just as the wind blows wherever it blows – we see its effect, but we have no control over it whatsoever. So too everyone who is born in the flesh is acted upon by outside forces, and life is breathed into them by God, not because of anything they have done – but because God has chosen to do so. Yes, the babe’s heart beats, and the baby breathes – and learns to eat and drink etc – but the life comes from God, and only from God.

Now even if we had no bible, creation itself demonstrates that life originates with God and not with man – that is what this pictures. Nicodemus was the teacher of Israel, but he missed that. Nevertheless, Christ himself uses the imagery of birth to picture the process by which God calls men to salvation.

If men actually saved themselves this sort of imagery would be inaccurate (at best). Christ used the imagery of being born however, because it is a perfect image of what is going on spiritually. We have as much a role in our being “born from above” as we have in our having been born physically – and that is to say, none whatsoever.

The wind blows wherever it wishes and though we hear the sound of it, we still cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going to – all we can do is sit and watch what it does. We have no active role in what the wind is going to do – we are spectators, and passive participants. So it is with those who are born of the Spirit, just as it was those who were born of the flesh – spectators, passive participants.

When I began to see that scripture teaches that God saves sinners, as opposed to sinners using God as a means to save themselves – then I began to appreciate how secure my salvation truly was.

You see, when I thought I was saving myself, I was working like crazy to stay saved – because my faith was in myself – that is, my hope rested on my own ability to keep myself saved. I wasn’t trusting God to save me – I was trying to save myself – and such a hope was sifting sand, as I was and ever will be, unable to keep the law perfectly as Christ kept it.

Then I realized the truth – my righteousness, according to the gospel, doesn’t save me.

I had to let that sink in. I knew it was true – it is the very gospel itself – but I began to let it really speak to me. I wasn’t saved in the first place by my own righteousness – in fact Jeremiah 19:9 tells me that all my “righteousnesses” are in fact unclean – that is, if I am relying on my own ability to be good to keep me saved – I am in fact relying on something that God Himself has openly declared unclean. What a mess I had made of it. Here I was trying to stay saved – how? By works of righteousness of course!

Why did I do anything righteous? To prove to myself that I was saved – of course all the righteousness I was doing was a filthy rag to God – but I felt that if I was doing the best I could – praying, studying the bible, going to church, being sincere, etc., that these things were going to keep me saved. But the reality is that I wasn’t trusting in God to save me anymore – I was trusting in my own arm to keep me saved – and it was all contrary to scripture.

Yes, I could find a dozen proof texts that seemed to say that I could lose my salvation – but I could also find in the rest of scripture a message that said loud and clear – God chose me and not vice versa. I was not saved by a faith that I generated but by a faith that was given to me as a gift - if my salvation was something I manufactured, then maybe I could unmanufactured it – but if God saved me, then I was saved indeed.

I could pull up all the proof texts to demonstrate that I am saved by God, and eternally so, but you asked for testimony.

If a man says a prayer in order to get into heaven, and having some assurance that no matter what he is going to go to heaven – if that same person embarks on a life of sinful liberty trusting his prayer to save him, and having no remorse continues to do so until he perishes – I do not doubt for a second that the man was a tare and not a wheat.

If a man says a prayer, and continues in the church for years, excelling only to one day plummet away from the church never to come again, and professing to no longer believe – I do not doubt that the man is a tare and not a wheat.

These have not lost their salvation – but have never been saved in the first place – their conversion was false, and whatever external evidence was given as witness to their salvation was not given in love of the Lord, but rather in love of self – to garner respect, or even to secure for themselves a certainty of their own salvation. Whatever the case – they went out from us because they were not of us – had they been of us they would not have gone out from us – but the fact that they did go out from us demonstrates that they were never really saved in the first place.

So the person that falls away and “no longer believes” – according to the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints – as I understand it – and I think I have the common understanding – is not losing his salvation, nor is he keeping it – he was never saved to begin with.

“Once saved always saved” doesn’t mean that if you say some salvation prayer you are saved no matter what – it means that if you are genuinely born again you will persevere to the end because you are genuinely born again. The fact that you persevere demonstrates the genuine nature of your salvation. If you fall away – it demonstrates that you were not genuine.

Tares look like wheat – that is the problem.


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I received a private message in response asking me how I handled some texts - I have included it here as well - and I apologize, I wrote it on the go this morning before leaving for work...

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[quote]
---"Joe"--- wrote:
Hello Dann,
Thanks for your response to my topic on OSAS. It was exactly the type of testimony that i was looking for.

I was wondering, however, how you would now view those 'proof texts' that you once thought said a person could lose their salvation. If you could, please be specific (such as explaining heb 6:4-6, heb 10, rom 11, col 3:20-23 and any others you may have used as proof texts)

Thanks,
Joe
[/quote]

Hi Joe,

I am sure you have heard all the typical exegesis for the various biblical snippets, but I will address them.

Hebrews 6:4-6. First and foremost my hermeneutical method requires that all scripture has to have the same message - that is, eternal security cannot be taught alongside eternal insecurity. That means that whatever is being said here, muat reflect what is being said elsewhere. Either scripture is teaching that I can lose my salvation, or that I can't -- not both.

The first question I ask typically myself is "whom" is the author writing to, and for what purpose. The title "to the Hebrews" should be a dead giveaway, but ever were it untitled we see in the first four verses of the epistle that the author is talking about God speaking to "our Fathers" - whose fathers? The Jewish fathers. The letter is written by a messianic (converted) Jew and it is written to other Jews as a "word of encouragement" (13:22). That term is used in Acts 13:15 to refer to a speech that is given in a synogog - which infers that this epistle is meant as a written "sermon" to these people.

As I look at Hebrews 6:4-6, I therefore keep in mind the overall context - a converted Jew exhorting other Jews. It is reasonable to conclude that some of these Jews would have been converted to Christianity, yet some would be convinced of Christianity, but afraid to commit to it because if they did they would be put out of the synogog (compare the blind man's parents in the gospels).

The immediate context begins in verse one of the sixth chapter - the author begins with a contrast - we who are saved should not stay immature, but become mature - that is, not dwelling upon the foundation of repentance, but moving on - then in verse four he refers to that same foundation again - it is impossible to lay the same foundation twice - you cannot repent "again" because if you repented the first time you are already in a state of repentance - and as a consequence of a genuine repentance you have become enlightened. Once Christ opens your eyes, they cannot be closed - you understand scripture because the Holy Spirit is your teacher - you taste the goodness of of the word of God, and have a sense of the power etc. Verse six continues to express the impossibility of "falling away" such that you would have to repent twice - how can Christ die for all your sins twice? If Christ died for all our sins in the first place, it is impossible for Him [to die] for all of them again. Likewise, the author is saying, if a man can renounce the work of Christ on the cross thus - he is implying that Christ was not the Messiah - a denial of God that demonstrates the impossibility of there ever having been a saving faith present in the person in the first place ... (God cannot deny Himself - if the Spirit of God is in you, you cannot deny the diety of Christ).

Hebrews 10:26 should be held against the gospel message - how are we saved - by works or by faith? If by works, then the verse is teaching that salvation is "maintained" by works - something Paul explicitly teaches against in Galatians ("having begun in the Spirit are you now being made perfect in the flesh?"). Since Paul explicitly teaches that we are not made perfect through works of the flesh, we know that the verse isn't saying that unless you instantly become sinless you are not saved. (John makes the same thing plain in 1 John as well, that when we (believers) sin we have an advocate, Jesus Christ. cf. Hebrews 4:16, and 1 John 2:1,2) Thus understanding what this verse is NOT saying is a good place to start.

Once again we must consider who the author is writing to - Jews. The Jews had a sacrificial system in place at the time - and if they left that system to try out Christianity they were put out of the synogog - that is, they were no longer allowed to bring their sacrifices to the Jewish altar. So when a Jew turned to Christ, they could not go back to their former practice of sinning all they wanted and sacrificing an animal to cover it later - that option was no longer open to them.

There is a difference of course between abandoning yourself to sin, and struggling against it. A believer never abandons themself to sin - but (because of the presence of Christ's Spirit) will always struggle against sin. Not always victoriously - and sometimes even quenching or even grieving the Spirit in order to satisfy the self will - yet always and ever this is not an abandonment - it isn't giving up and letting sin be the master forever - it is a loosened grip that allows you to slip back down the rope - but not an utter letting go and committing yourself to the fall as it were.

So when we talk about going on deliberately sinning - we are talking about giving ourselves over entirely to sin - not just giving into the flesh in a matter, but giving up forever. This cannot be done if God's Spirit is in you - God won't allow you, if you weak, you will be strengthened by God - he is able to make you stand, or so says the scriptures. So we are talking about a Jew who has come to a knowledge of the truth but instead of embracing Christ, rejects him and continues sinning. Once a Jew understands that Christ is the Messiah - once a Jew contemplates that Jesus Christ is the true sacrifice that every levitical sacrifice pictured - he cannot go back to the levitical system and expect a goat to pay for his sins - having rejected in full knowledge the actual sacrifice, he cannot expect to receive forgiveness of sins through the levitical shadow.

Romans 11:21 - Paul is writing primarily to Gentile believers at Rome - but starting in chapter nine - and running through to chapter 11 he expands his ministry to include the Jews at Rome as well. In the immediate context he is talking about national Israel and the Gentiles - and specifically with regards to the gospel (salvation). If God is not going to save the Jews who reject the gospel, how will he save the Gentiles if they reject God's merciful provision?

I think you mean Col 1:20-23?
In particular verse 23 "If indeed you continue in the faith stable and steadfast..." etc. ?

This is not unlike what John says in first John - they went out from us because they were not of us. It isn't saying that one can lose their salvation - it is describing what genuine salvation looks like. If you continue (that is, if you are genuine) and not shifting from the hope of the gospel (that is again, if you are genuine...) then...

The kind of faith that saves... perseveres - it is "strengthened with all power according to God's glorious might" for what purpose? "for all endurance and patience with joy" (see verse eleven earlier in the chapter) - Paul is not suddenly contradicting himself by saying you might not persevere - what he is saying is that those who persevere are genuine.

Dann

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posted by Daniel @ 1:53 PM   15 comment(s)
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Purgatorio's latest post got me to thinking...

posted by Daniel @ 2:22 PM   11 comment(s)
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Are you ashamed of Christ?
One on my pet peeves, as a computer professional, is the chain letter.

You know, it starts off with Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Re: Fwd: followed by an avalanche of "greater than" signs (one for each person who forwarded this email!) and some remark about how true what you are about to read generally is:

Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Re: Fwd:
>>>>>>>>>This is a true story!!!


Now, most of us who have spent anytime in the industry have come to despise such letters, and I am no exception. Always and ever the purpose of the letter is to propagate itself by having you (the reader) send it out to everyone you know. The vehicle by which the letter is propagated can change - but the motive is always to see how far the letter can go - the content of the letter is secondary.

The forbearer of this sort of email was the actual chain letter - a superstitious "Prayer of Jude" style letter that promises all sorts of wonderful goodies if you propagate it, and all manner of villainy if you don't. Usually, examples of people who did break the chain were given: "George McPhain, a lens grinder who made giant lenses for telescopes, broke this chain in Dorchester, in 1987 and the very next day fell into the lens grinder - making a spectacle of himself" etc.

I don't know if there was any sort of precursor to the chain letter proper - maybe there was a fletching forbearer, where you received a chicken, and had to make a bunch of arrows out of it's feathers, then send the chicken on to the next guy - I just don't know.

Today however, as email is maturing from a technological option to a mainstream medium, more and more people are using it and consequently, the chain letter has "evolved" into the chain email.

The medium itself allows for several new genres of chain email to be sent:

  • The "amber alert" genre - This style of email is the one where some child (complete with a picture) is missing and you must forward this email to everyone as fast as you can.
  • The "doctored photo" genre - the kind where there is a photo that has been doctored in photoshop, but an interesting spin is put on it and the picture becomes the vehicle by which the email is propagated.
  • The "scare ya" genre - this is the "there are bad people out there doing bad things - don't let this happen to you, so here is a heads up" sort of email. It is propagated (no doubt) by well meaning people who don't want their friends and family to fall victim to whatever is being set forth as truth.

The most annoying of all - BAR NONE - are the ones with spiritual undertones. You know, the ones that tell some sad story - with a Christian bent - then at the end they challenge you to mail it to all your friends - if you really love Jesus.

Now, as a believer, I love receiving inspirational email, and many times I have been edified by something that has been passed on to me by others. Who would grouse over such a thing? No sober or right thinking person, which is why I would never talking about email that edifies without a caveat.

What I -am- talking about is the sort of chain letter that imposes upon my "Christian sympathies" by implicitly suggesting that failure to propagate this email is tantamount to denying Christ before men - or as the title to this post implies - that failure to propogate the email demonstrates that you are ashamed of Jesus Christ. To this I say, "Shame, shame" and again, "-- shame!"

It is because I am not ashamed of Christ that I would hold myself from sending out such a letter. Christ isn't some theological idea in my head to be treated as an argument - Christ is a person, and unless Christ alone is going to be glorified by sending out that email - I am under no obligation to send it. There isn't even a hint of lingering guilt either. The world isn't going to be won by cutesy emails - or even by emotionally moving stories - especially when they are forwarded en masse to the internet community with that personalized Fwd: Fwd:Fwd:Fwd:Fwd:Fwd:Fwd:Fwd:Fwd:Fwd:Fwd: header...

My advice as a computer professional and a Christian? Don't ever forward an email to anyone - ever. If you must forward an email - don't forward it to everyone on your email list. And when you do forward an email to anyone - if it talks about something that sounds like it might be a hoax or simply made up - check it out first.

The internet has many sites available that identify the current hoaxes, email stunts, and miscellaneous garbage that is currently in circulation on the net.

And lastly - don't ever, ever, ...ever send out anything that has a clause at the bottom that suggests that one's spiritual fortitude rests entirely on their ability to propogate this email.

posted by Daniel @ 4:25 PM   7 comment(s)
Thirty Nine Years...
I don't know the girl holding the sign - but if you do a google image search for "Happy Birthday Dan" she is the second picture that comes up; I liked the effort she put into the little sign, so I thought I would go with it.

I turned 39 yesterday (Tuesday) - and as my birthday gift I got to replace the printer for my computer and shovel 60 ft. of driveway out from under two feet of snow. It was a fun day though.

Last year we put up our Christmas tree on my birthday - and decided to make it an annual event. So this year, I took the day off of work, and we put the tree up. As it happened, it began snowing on Monday night, and so we woke up to a winter landscape. Nice touch Lord!

Anyway, I am pretty busy this week with church business, so I don't expect I will have too much time to post. Maybe just a quick one each day - we'll see.
posted by Daniel @ 10:42 AM   11 comment(s)
Monday, November 14, 2005
Have you been to Pecadillo's?
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Late last evening over at Pecadillo's blog his hit counter broke the 20,000 mark.

Congrats Pec!
posted by Daniel @ 11:36 AM   4 comment(s)
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Council of Orange
Earlier today (Sunday, 13 Nov 2005) I gave a study on the perseverance of the saints. In particular I wanted to address the Pelagian and SemiPelagian heresies and demonstrate that the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints did not begin with Calvin, but was in fact the orthodox teaching in the church for the first 1500 years of its existence.

In doing so, I chose to go over 24 of the 25 Canons from the Council of Orange (529 A.D.)

For those of you who are unfamiliar, there were two councils held at Orange (Arausio - a town in southern France). The first met on November 8, 441, but it is the second council at Orange to which we refer to today. This second Council was held on July 3, 529. Unlike the Council of Nicea which was an ecumenical council attended by 200+ bishops - the council of Orange was a local Council attended by a modest fourteen bishops - but it is never the less significant in that most of the 25 canons drawn up at Orange were derived almost entirely from a series of "Capitulas" based on the works of Augustine and Prosper and delivered to Orange by Felix IV. The canons of the second council have therefore played a central role in church history in interpreting Augustine.

In my congregation I am aware that some are decidedly Arminian in their theology - which means that I can expect a bible study on the doctrine of the perseverance of the Saints to engender some passionate conversation. So I felt the wisest place to start was to define first the original heresy, Pelagianism, then to define its compromising child, SemiPelagianism, and then to introduce the findings of that council that declared semiPelagianism a heresy.

The trouble of course is that while the Council of Orange is crystal clear in denouncing semiPelagianism, it also reminds us that Augustine believed in baptismal regeneration (Augustine taught that the Virgin Mary was without sin, that unbaptised infants who die go to Limbo, and he even prayed to the departed saints for intercession!) So in examining this document we must remember that it stands as genuine historical document - including all its good and bad points.

I removed the 13th Canon for that reason - I didn't want to get sidetracked discussing the nature of baptism (Centuri0n has amply demonstrated how much fun that is...), but I otherwise left the document unchanged. Bryan was there however, and being a theology buff himself he took it upon himself to remind me openly that this document from which I was teaching also taught baptismal regeneration.

Now, Bryan isn't kidding, nor was he mistaken - To be sure, the document teaches that grace is received through baptism (Canons 8, 13, & the Conclusion), and that regeneration is received through baptism (Canon 5).

I confess, I was somewhat annoyed when Bryan brought it up and wanting to squash it before it became a tangent I said that it wasn't really teaching baptismal regeneration - but that some people read it that way. Which isn't entirely wrong - it doesn't teach it per se - the document simply assumes baptismal regeneration based on what Augustine believed. Never the less, as soon as I said it I knew I had given into the flesh, and only said it to try and nip the tangential stream in the bud. But I had nipped it the wrong way, and had to apologize to him, then pick up the pieces and spend some time explaining that while not everything in the document was theologically accurate - nevertheless - the document itself was entirely appropriate and useful to the task at hand - demonstrating that SemiPelagianism had been dealt with in the early church, and considered a heresy.

Iron sharpens Iron. In preparing the study, I figured by sticking to the main point I could skip over the doctrinally sketchy parts by bringing the focus to, and maintaining the focus upon, the lion's share of the document whereby semiPelagian is rightly and accurately denounced. But Bryan, God bless him, isn't dazzled by my carnival huckster fast-talking/theological prestidigitation - and so by bringing it up forced me to deal with it fairly. I hadn't wanted to because I know the doctrine of eternal security is already one of the most hated doctrines in the church - and having barely 45 minutes to teach it, I didn't want to be side-tracked explaining how one doctrinal skew did not taint the other doctrinal view. Sigh.

The study went well (I think) in spite of my carnal lapse - but praise the Lord it was back on track soon enough - and Bryan was full of grace and accepted my apologies afterwards.

Bottom line for the study? I think the Lord opened some eyes - and for that I am grateful.
posted by Daniel @ 9:13 PM   5 comment(s)
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Preaching or prayer?
I was reading a post over at Phil Johnson's blog that directed me to an article that was published in the November 2005 issue of "Banner of Truth." The article was actually a sermon that was delivered before a gathering of ministers in Dublin Ireland in June of 2005. The article was called "The Centrality of Preaching"- and it was a well thought out and passionate exhortation to preaching.

I didn't get too deep into the article however when I noticed what seemed to me a glaring error:


    "The 16th century Reformation, the 17th century Puritanism, and the 18th century Great Awakening were all revivals of preaching!"
No one denies that the Reformation, Puritanism, and the Great Awakening were all revivals wherein the preaching improved. But the reality is that these were all revivals of prayer.

It is a small difference I suppose - and it doesn't take anything away from the punch of the article - yet it is an important distinction.

Don't get me wrong - we need theologically sound preachers in our pulpit - and we need to have the word preached! I will stand and shout it from the roof tops with the best of them. But the Reformation, Puritanism, and the Great Awakening were not movements that began on account of good preaching - if such were the case we could simply read the sermons from these great times and expect the same blessings to pursue us as pursued them.

But that isn't the case. My understanding and great conviction is that preaching is a great tool in a praying man's arsenal - but it is also powerless when the pulpit is prayerless. When I say prayerless I don't mean that the preacher didn't pray and ask God to bless his sermon. I mean he wasn't agonizing daily over those souls who would hear this message - he wasn't trembling as he handled God's message, he is just a paid Christian lecturer who is often deemed worthy not according to how faithful he has been to God - but rather how faithful his exposition is to scripture. Don't get me wrong - faithful exposition is crucial - but lets not miss this point - the church was born in a prayer meeting!

There was nothing especially stirring about Peter's sermon on the rooftop. Why were 3000 Jewish men saved? Think it through. They were saved because the disciples had just spent days on end fasting and praying - no doubt the theme of that prayer time was the pouring out of God's Spirit - and their prayers were answered at Pentecost - and again from the roof top. God determined to pour out his Spirit at Pentecost before the foundation of the world - yet still Christ instructed them to gather and wait praying.

This waiting on God has become something we no longer do. We are the masters of commercial length McPrayer. Why be in agony over night pouring our hearts out when we can bubble up a popcorn prayer that is "just as good." We say "God knows my heart" - as though that were a good thing.

Persevering prayer prepares men to preach! Without that kind of preparation a sermon becomes a lecture - and the lecture is judged more by the charisma of the man who delivered it than anything else. That is why the best entertainers have the biggest churches. It is also why big churches are becoming spiritual vacuums.

So why is our ministry so powerless? Why do we pump and pump at the well and only a trickle comes out? Why are our exegetically perfect and theologically profound sermons met with such stony indifference? Preaching must certainly be "central" as Mr. Lyon states - but unless it is preceded by pesevering prayer it will not -- can not-- produce anything more than a nice big - theologically sound - but otherwise dead church.

Are we so busy preparing sermons that we have forgotten to prepare hearts? Are we so busy trying to patch the broken church that we have forgotten it isn't ours to patch? Find me a powerful preacher from any time in history and I will show you a man of relentless, agonizing prayer. A man who is only known for his preaching on account of his praying. Such men are rare in our time because we have taken the focus off of calling on God - and in our blindness have allowed our focus to rest on programs, methodologies - or even trying to emulate the way it was successfully done in the past.

Anyway - I do tend to rant I suppose. It was a great article - but I think Mr. Lyon's message will fail to roar because it puts the blame on a lack of preaching rather than a lack of prayer. An earnest crying out to God for others - coming to that neighbor and relentlessly beating on that door demanding loaves for those who have come to your house - that is, persevering until God answers - that and that alone produces good preaching.

Having read many revival accounts - I see this pattern, and I am surprized Mr. Lyon missed it - no revival ever began except that someone somewhere began to pray in earnest. The preaching always followed after the prayer.
posted by Daniel @ 12:07 PM   10 comment(s)
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
If you are following the Da Vinci Code Series by White...
For those of you have lived under a rock this past year - the Da Vinci Code is your standard cross genre Creole combining the detective, thriller, and conspiracy theory genres under one umbrella.

The novel is pulp by all standards - unapologetically heretical and blatantly inaccurate historically - it claims that the Roman Catholic Church has worked to cover up the true history of Jesus.

James White has been been doing a series on the book - I haven't been following it all - but I did like this latest part because it records a very early Christian testimony (about 140 years after Christ's death) - one that predates the council of Nicea and the Constantinian conversion by more than a century.

The Da Vinci Code Part V
posted by Daniel @ 2:52 PM   6 comment(s)
Monday, November 07, 2005
Sunday School...
This past Sunday (6 November 2005) I led the adult bible study at our church.

Normally our former pastor (Bill Mcleod) teaches the Sunday morning adult bible studies. But on occasion he is called to preach elsewhere, and has asked me to take the study.

I took the study last week, and taught on divorce. It was a pretty hard hitting - this is what the bible says, so we gotta do it - sort of study, but it was interesting in that I had prepared a study on my computer at home, and that morning my printer refused to print it. Nor could I copy it onto my palm pilot. I ran of of time and had to do the study from memory - which was interesting.

I say interesting because what I have unwittingly started doing is looking for a verse that says something about such and such - and hitting the online bible searches such as bible gateway to find texts that speak to what I am looking for.

Surely that is a recipe for an eisegetical approach to scripture.

So when I was asked on Saturday to prepare a study for Sunday's Adult Bible Study, I determined not to use my computer - but to rely entirely on the Spirit of God. Now had you asked me before, I would have said that even though I was using a computerized bible search I was still relying entirely on God - but having been brought back to the basics, I see now that such a statement isn't true. I was relying on the computer to produce scriptural references that pertained to whatever I was was doing the study on. Many wouldn't regard this as "worldly" - surely I wouldn't have, but in preparing this weeks study I sat down with my bible, a pen, and some paper - and preceded to prayerfully seek the Lord's leading for the study.

It ended up centering on the practical outworking of what it means to be abiding in Christ. In particular the message centered on texts such as 1 Corinthians 2:11 and Luke 10:22. If no one knows the Father except the Son, and him to whom the Son wills to reveal Him, and only the Spirit of God can teach the things of the Spirit of God - then the path to "knowing" God is entirely bound up in abiding in Christ. The study therefore looked at the practical aspects of being teachable - so that we learn to trust in the character of God. Having trusted in God's character, we are able to follow Christ in laying down our own lives, so that God can live in us.

It ended up being a great study - praise the Lord for that - but I can't help thinking how it would have been different had I done it on the computer. The computer allows me to prepare studies that are well researched and intellectually and academic appealing. Not that they are void of the Spirit - they aren't - but that in the habit of one who likes a certain scholastic polish I have been unconsciously turning to the computer here and there to mine a verse out of scripture that might fit what I am saying. What I should be doing is praying about every bit of it and waiting on the Lord.

Not that I prepare a study by prayerlessly running amok with wanton, search empowered abandon - I don't. Whether I am preaching or leading a study I duly seek the Lord - but this sudden lack of technology has shown me a weakness in my own preparation time - and that is instead of using the online search to find the reference to the verse I am thinking of - I have used it to look for verses that seem to say what I am thinking of - which puts me in danger of using a verse out of context to make a point.

So I encourage you pastors and ministry leaders - if you likewise are using the computer to great advantage - it may be worth your while (as it was mine) to take an hiatus from the number cruncher and see if you notice any difference in the way you prepare a study!
posted by Daniel @ 11:17 AM   6 comment(s)
Induction of Tom
In Selkirk Manitoba (population approx. ~10,000) there is a pleasant Baptist church wherein I have had the pleasure of preaching a few times. This church is presently without a pastor, and has been so for around 18 months.

I met the former pastor at "shepherd's college," - a shepherd's ministry wherein men are mentored into the ministry in anticipation of, and preparation for, Christian ministry - geared more specifically towards the pulpit.

The former pastor was one of those very rare Christians - the kind for which Christ would surely have said - "behold a believer in whom is no guile!" From all accounts - my own included - their former pastor was an exceedingly bright and shining light for our Lord, and I wonder if one reason they are still without a pastor is that the former has set the bar so high that no one seems to fit the bill. That may seem like very high praise - and I suppose it it - I liked the guy - everyone who knows him does.

I am not privy to the ins and outs of their decline into strife, nor am I particularly interested in finding out - but it is enough to say that the church began to experience a decline in unity, and during the Sutera meetings the leaders met together to determine the most "Christian" way to split up the church.

As we all know - there -is- no Christian way to split a church. Those who are not behaving like Christians are to be disciplined and if they remain unrepentant, they are to be cast out of the church until such time as they learn repentance. And those who are behaving like Christ, would never seek to split a church - except in the case where growth demands a newer church be started to accommodate it.

So without getting into the details, it is enough to say that where there is contention there is pride - and pride never leads to unity. The players who met that day came into the meeting so worn down by contention in their disunity that they were willing to abandon one another in order to be out from under that yoke. The enemy was already celebrating his victory when something of the miraculous happened.

Now, I am not saying miraculous as in fish and bread multiplying - though that would be cool. I am talking about something deeper - hardened hearts of stone suddenly turning to flesh again! Somewhere in that meeting the hearts of these men melted, and in their love for one Christ the scales fell from their eyes, and once again they could love one another. It was a mighty work of God, and yesterday I had the pleasure to see that it continues still.

Tom was one of the leaders, and yesterday we attended the induction ceremony - they made him an elder.

There are times of rejoicing - and last night was one of them. That congregation has been on my heart since I first preached there - and I am not alone. Many people have been praying for them, and last night was an answer to prayer for all who love the Lord and His church.

One of the leaders in the church - Jim - and I spoke a bit. I met Jim a few years back, when the former pastor was still present at the church. I brought my college and career group out one Sunday to their prayer meeting so that we could pray with them. When the meeting began we broke off into threes, and Jim was in my group.

The best prayers are the ones where you hear a son or daughter talking to their father oblivious to those around them. Praying with such a prayer is easy and natural. I notice that during some prayers I get distracted - my mind wanders. The person praying will fall into the "blah blah blahs" - that is, their prayer no longer has any urgency to it, no sense of direction. Their prayer starts to meander all over the sky looking for a runway to land on - and when this happens I can get distracted. I can get distracted for other reasons too; the prayer can be so far removed from my understanding that I can't follow it, or sometimes it can be so slow paced that I start to day dream in the gaps - I suppose I am the worst prayer partner you could hope to have.

My point is that while I don't remember what we were praying about, I do remember enjoying the prayer time - which meant that I felt that "genuiness" that marks men who truly love the Lord - and Jim was such a person.

I saw Jim and his wife at the Sutera meetings (see previous posts) and while I chatted with Jim about his church, my wife and and Jim's wife chatted elsewhere, unbeknownst to us. Our wives exchanged email addresses (both our families homeschool, and finding support for homeschooling is a wonderful thing) and have been emailing one another ever since.

I mention that because it was funny that Jim should find my blog accidently, as it were, while searching for information on the Sutera twins - and recognizing me, would bother to keep reading it! Small world.

Hi Jim!

Anyway, I spoke with Jim last night after the ceremony. It is wonderful to see what the Lord is doing in that church. There are some serious Christians there, and while the pastor who eventually is called there is going to have big shoes to fill - he is also going to have a good core group of leaders to minister with. I do believe that God is going to use that church to impact that community. In Tom's testimony last night he spoke about what it was that turned things around in the leadership - humility. He didn't use that word, but that is what it was. Stepping away from our own agendas and allowing Christ to be in charge. Making sure that all relationships in your life are right with God - and most importantly - this bright gem of understanding - God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all - if we say that we have fellowship with God and walk in darkness we lie and do not practice the truth. Tom had seen why the ministry of the church was so impotent - cleanliness before God had taken a back seat to methodology - as though God could have fellowship with a church if they just followed the right procedure.

What a joy when we come out from under that blanket of darkness. Christ builds the church, and not us. But unless Christ is running the show, the church isn't going to grow. That means being right with everyone - going to our brothers and sisters and making things right. Weeding out every bitter root, and dealing with it. Keeping ourselves clean for the sake of Christ's church. Then the church can grow, because instead of seeing a bunch of carnal believers working hard at human programs, the world sees the love of Christ. I can go to the YMCA if I want to join a social club that meets regularly and plans activities, but if I want to see something different than the world has to offer, I need to see a Christ filled church.

So it was a great encouragement last night to see that the spark that began in September is still burning. Pray for this church if you remember to. They love the Lord, and are hated by our enemy.
posted by Daniel @ 6:16 AM   4 comment(s)
Friday, November 04, 2005
Legalism and Antinomianism

When I say "legalism," I am not referring to that practice of attempting to secure salvation from God's wrath via the keeping of the Mosaic Law. Surely the word is thus employed when one wants to dismiss a "works based" gospel in as few words as possible; but I am not discussing that particular application today.

Today I am discussing the other, arguably more common use...

Wikipedia defines this use of legalism as, "the view that adherence to certain manmade rules is necessary for moral or spiritual righteousness and full acceptance and partnership in the Christian community."

Some teachings in scripture are less than explicit, and by virtue of their being thus broad, individual application becomes a matter of conviction and conscience. Legalism happens when someone promotes and exalts personal conviction to the level of doctrine.

Failure to respect some legalistic position may result in the one being accused of having a form of Christianity that is completely devoid of any and all moral restriction - something we call antinomianism.

That is not to suggest that following your conscience is the new standard of conduct for the believer...

God has given every man, saved or otherwise, a conscience. This conscience acts as a moral barometer that works on a sliding, "relative" scale. We each have a personal code of moral conduct, and our conscience lets us know when we breach that code. The code itself - whether it is relatively permissive or restrictive - is often in a state of flux, such that "right" and "wrong" become subjective terms; what seems right to me might seem wrong to you, etc.

The conscience can only measure right from wrong in proportion to how perfectly that same conscience is in tune with (that is, saturated by) the word of God. A conscience that is in tune with God's word is going discern right from wrong with greater conviction and clarity than one that is not in tune with God's word.

"Following your conscience" must therefore never be exalted above following the plain teachings of scripture. If there is no explicit teaching in scripture and a matter of conduct becomes a question of conscience - the wise man seeks godly counsel - not to develop rules for others, but to determine the course of their own godly conduct.

The blogosphere does not lack for conversations that center upon topics wherein scripture gives only broad teachings on the matter (hair length, Halloween, or even modest attire).

The bottom line for us, is grace. When we see someone doing something that our own understanding of scripture would not allow us to do - we ought to do our best to educate them on our position - but extend grace to them if they are not on the same page spiritually that we are. Likewise, we need to be patient when we find our selves on the receiving end.
posted by Daniel @ 11:09 AM   1 comment(s)
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Verification Words Take Two...
Some people are quite talented at making vanity license plates - you know "BCNU" = "Be Seeing You" etc. I am not very good at that. But I do like to look at the verification words from time to time and try and find images that match


phtspedox - (fat speedo cross)



I am not sure who the guy is, but hefty + hairy never works with a pair of speedos - and I have never seen anything that works well with a ten inch gold crucifix on a gold chain thick enough to pull a tractor out of a ditch with. Never!

The observant amongst you will notice ... no wedding ring - go figure?
posted by Daniel @ 10:30 AM   10 comment(s)
The Queen of Sheba...
Have you ever thought about ramifications?

The Queen of Sheba - a queen no less - not only humbled herself to hear the wisdom of God spoken through Solomon - but crossed the known world to hear it.

In doing this she set a standard that every other person can be judged by.

Think that through.

She -has- -the- -right- to accuse everyone who doesn't do as much as she did to learn about truth - because she laid aside all advantage and responsibility and humbled herself so that she might seek the truth at any cost to her reputation, time, and duty. She crossed the known world seeking truth and wisdom, and her effort will be one measure at least by which she will be able to rise up in that last day and denounce anyone who given time and opportunity did not seek truth and wisdom.

We live in a time where many Christians can't be bothered to read more than a chapter or two a day in God's word - if they bother to read the bible at all. How sad it will be on that final day when they suddenly are able to perceive the immensity of their failure.
posted by Daniel @ 7:16 AM   2 comment(s)
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Candidating...
I have been asked to candidate at one, or possibly two churches in Saskatchewan.

As some of you know, I am presently working as a computer programmer for the Province of Manitoba in Canada, but for the last four or five years I have been studying for the ministry.

Last year, and again this year, I have been mentored specifically for the role of "Pastor" by Pastor Bill Mcleod, with the expectation that eventually I would be called to pastor a church.

In this capacity I have been preaching at various churches, and whatnot for the past two years. Yesterday Pastor Bill mentioned that Harold Lutzer (brother of famed pastor Erwin Lutzer of the Moody Church in Chicago) mentioned a couple of churches in Saskatchewan that were looking for a pastor. Pastor Bill asked if I would be interested in candidating, and I answered in the affirmative.

That isn't a picture of one of the churches by the way - it is just a stock photo of a nice country church that I thought would spruce up the post.

Harold will likely phone me some time next week (his schedule is pretty busy) and get back to me about candidating. In the meantime, if you are inclined, pray for these churches - one is in Weyburn, the other somewhere else in Saskatchewan - don't ask God to put in me either of them, but they do need an undershepherd - pray that God provides. If you are further inclined - pray that I would set my own self aside and stay hyper sensitive to God's will in this.

Thanks.
posted by Daniel @ 12:59 PM   8 comment(s)
 
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