H  O  M  E          
Theological, Doctrinal, and Spiritual Musing - and whatever other else is on my mind when I notice that I haven't posted in a while.
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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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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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Monday, July 30, 2012
Some An Hundred Fold... Bill Mcleod.
How I came to know Bill Mcleod
I was saved shortly after moving away from home as an adult.  I was trying to impress a lady, and thought that missionary work in a foreign land would look good on my dating resumé.  Having found a church in the phone book that advertised missionaries, I made an appointment to see if they could send me someplace exotic to build huts or whatever it was that missionaries did.  I didn't want much - a two month gig would suffice.

The interview quickly revealed that my "Christianity" was little more than a string of superstitions and half truths from the scriptures, it was neither coherent nor salvific.  But God, by and through His grace, used this pastor to open my eyes to the truth and certainty of my own damnation.  The thought of surrendering my life to Christ (in earnest) was repugnant to me.  I didn't mind being thought a Christian, but to actually act like one?  Goodness no.  The last thing I wanted was to be one of these goodie-two shoes Christians.  So the weight of my own condemnation, rather than drawing me to God, had the reverse effect - it made me hate God because, I reasoned, God was certainly going to send me to hell when I died, and this because I didn't want to surrender my life to His will.  I preferred to do my own thing, and I knew it - and this certainty increased the certainty of my own damnation in my understanding, and so I sat there, paralyzed by the weight of it all - unable to want God, but unable to ignore the awful knowledge that I was damned.

I suffered in this condition for a few moments, but it seemed to me an eternity.  Then, like a dam bursting, there came (unbidden) to me a sudden love of Christ that instantly, thoroughly, and overwhelmingly overcame my previous hatred.  In that precious moment it was the easiest thing in the world to forsake all my former loves in exchange for Christ.  Like the proverb of the great pearl, I counted all else as rubbish if in trading these I could have Christ.

That is how Christ found (and saved) me.  Like Paul on the road to Damascus, I was by no means seeking Him, but He was seeking me. But like Peter, my faith was put to the test and found wanting.  I did not deny Christ thrice, rather I became convinced that having sinned a sin subsequent to my salvation, I had by this sin proven myself to be "unsavable" - at least that is what I though, being utterly ignorant of scripture and the truth contained therein. 

It is enough to say that I did not walk the Christian walk for the next dozen or so years.  It wasn't until I found a good wife and began a family that my heart again was taken by the Lord.  My wife announced her pregnancy to me after five years or six years of a difficult marriage.  We were not happy as a couple, and not happy as individuals.  The first thing I thought when my wife shared the news, was that I ought to divorce her in order to spare the child.  My own upbringing was troubled, and I knew that the decay and want in my marriage were all owing to my own issues.  The thought that I might pass along these same issues to another frightened me so much that were it not for my own selfishness overcoming this fit of generous thinking, I should have left my wife and considered it the most noble thing I had ever done.

But I couldn't bear the thought, and so I commended myself to a regiment of self improvement.  I took on a job teaching at a local college (surely that was a noble profession), and I began taking a martial art, intending to gain a black belt by which my child would be able to look to his or her father with admiration rather than with the remorse that haunted my own experience.

I had considered "getting my life in order" before this - planning to return in earnest to the Lord, but I  could never progress beyond a passing good intention.  So though I was trying to improve my standing in the world to (eventually) impress my up and coming offspring, this course of self-help stopped short of anything spiritual.  So it was that the Lord again found me when I was not seeking Him.  An old roommate was pressing me to take a martial arts class with him, and though I had the good intentions to get a black belt - I really had no intention of actually going and getting a black belt.  But because of his pressure, I was inclined to accompany him to a dojo in the upper floor of an old air craft hanger.  I planned to attend for a month, then bow out gracefully - only I ended up practicing there for almost five years.

The Sensei was a believer, and because he took to giving me a ride home after class we had the opportunity to talk.  It was through this man that learned that came to understand that the sins I had committed after coming to faith, by no means destroyed my salvation.  I was ignorant, and carnal, but these things, he explained, were marks of immaturity, and not of damnation.  So I began to read the Scriptures to see if these things were so, and found them to be confusing and contradicting.  Eventually, after a disagreement with my Sensei on the scriptures, he explained what he felt to be my "problem".   I was picking and choosing what parts of the bible I was going to believe, and when something did no agree with my preconceived notions, I dismissed it as wrong.  It was no coincidence therefore, that I believed the things I liked, and did not believe the things that made me uncomfortable.

One morning I came to the end of myself.  I found I was unable to believe the scriptures, or to trust God.  It wasn't that I didn't believe there was a God, it was that I didn't believe Christianity was working for me.  I didn't believe God was doing or would do all that He promised, and so I wept on my bed until I finally fell upon Romans 10:17, which informed me that faith came by hearing, and hearing by the words of Christ.  This, in the frame work of 1 Corinthians 2:14, which informed me that the things of God were not apprehended according to the power of one's intellect, but rather were granted by the grace of God to those, as James 1:5 points out, who asked God for such wisdom.  I realized that if I was going to understand the scriptures and believe them, it was going to have to be God's work and not my own that made it happen.

To that end, I knelt there that day, and prayed earnestly to God for this wisdom, agreeing on my part to believe what I read, without filtering it through my own prejudice and preconceived notions - but to take it as the unembellished truth that God had given to mankind.  In my boldness, or perhaps in my depravity, I am not certain which - I washed my hands of my own ignorance - charging God to grant me this understanding since I was committed on my part to all that His word required, insofar as I was able to ascertain.  If I could not understand the scriptures, and if faith did not come to me in the study of the same, it followed that either God's words were false, or God was unable to keep them - in either case, I would be blameless, having upheld my part of the "deal".

It was a bold and painfully juvenile thing to pray, but it was the honest prayer of a man at the end of himself, and though I may apologize for it on the last day, and though I do not encourage whatever arrogance may be threaded into that claim - I do encourage the earnest seeking of the Lord, for I tell you that from that day forward, I was unable to find a single contradiction in the scriptures, nor could I say that the scriptures remained a mystery to me, nor that my faith in God remained flimsy.  On all counts, that day marked a profound turn around in my life and in my faith.

Shortly thereafter I was convinced I needed to find a church to fellowship with - for so the scriptures convicted me, as I was forsaking assembling together with other believers.  I asked my Sensei to recommend a fellowship, and it turned out that his grandfather and brother were co-pastoring a church near my home.  My wife, seeing the profound change in my life, accompanied me to that church, and upon this day I met the man who would eventually mentor me as a pastor and teacher: Bill Mcleod.

Bill passed away the other day, at the age of 93.
He was in his late seventies when I met him.  Bill was well known on the revival circuit Bill's as he was the pastor of a church that experienced a genuine revival in Saskatoon in 1971.  A few thousand souls came to Christ through this revival, and as many or more believers who had been slumbering in carnal contentment, were likewise roused into the surrendered life of a spiritual believer.

I say "genuine" because this was no fluffy thing.  It was a continuing work of God, week after week, month after month for many months.  A peculiar act of grace that stands on par with the revivals of George Whitefield or Jonathan Edwards in kind if not scope.  If revival "fades" for some, it never faded in the life of Bill Mcleod.  He was sold out to the Lord in all his ways, and I can say without hesitation or embellishment, that Bill was the most godly man I have ever had the privilege of knowing.

I am annoyed at how pale and thin those words are - at how overused they are when men wish to honor others.  I imagine you, the reader hearing them may be thinking of some especially godly person you know, and painting Bill as cut from the same jib, but I expect that for many of you, doing so would be a crime against the memory of this fellow.  We estimate that he may have (personally) led ten thousands souls to Christ in his ministry - but this he would never credit to himself, but to the grace of God at work in him.  Yet it was his life of prayer, and his profound humility that I will regard as the greatest examples of Christ's power at work in him. 

For several years I met with "Pastor" Bill weekly for a group study.  It wasn't just me though, Pastor Bill met with as many men as would come every Saturday morning to study the scriptures together.  It was a time of good fellowship, and sharing in the truths of scripture. 

Both the studies and the shared fellowship were received as food for my own inclination to teach and share the word of God.  I understood myself to be a teacher, a leader, and not without some discernment, having a heart for declaring the word of God, an encouraging others to live as God intended - by and in the Spirit, as opposed to the sort of carnal poverty that most live out their lives in today.

Given that both my gifts and my inclinations were aimed at the edification of the body, it seemed a good thing to me to pursue the ministry - either as a pastor, or at the very least, as a teacher in the church.  I hummed and hawed at first - given all the verbiage out there about being "called" to the pastorate - since I did not experience my inclinations by way of the mystical, but rather by way of the obvious, which seemed mundane when compared to the accounts that some give.  Yet I eventually could not deny to myself the "call" as it were, to the ministry, and so I approached Pastor Bill, as others who had gone on the pastorate before me, to mentor me personally for this purpose.  Pastor Bill agreed, and so we met weekly for a couple of years for one-on-one mentoring, geared specifically at the pastorate. 

This instruction was not limited to doctrine, but much of it was practical.  I remember him explaining how I should go along with others when they go to pick out a casket for a loved one because, as he said, the person is typically ignorant of how much these things cost, and the seller often takes advantage of both their ignorance and their grief, selling them more than they can reasonably afford.  Or the time he explained how to perform a wedding, and what to expect, and what I should do, etc.  Practical, perhaps invaluable, things that he had learned in his 60+ years of ministry. 

One day, after our study he let me know that we were done.  He had imparted to me as much as he felt was good, and commended me to the Lord.  I felt like I had somehow failed, or maybe that I was unteachable - I wanted to go on thus for years, but Bill felt it was time to wean me.  It seems strange now to look back on that time and see how right he was.  I already knew as much as one man can pass along to another - the rest was the work of grace.  Bill knew it.  I had to learn it.

I lament that the world has lost a great servant of our Lord, and though I rejoice to know Bill is with the Lord he so loved and pointed others to here upon the earth, I cannot help but look at my own life in the shadow of this man, who by example has shown what a life surrendered to God can accomplish. 

I do not look to the thousands he has led to Christ, or the churches he has planted, or the ministries he has started, or any of the hundreds of churches around the globe he was called to preach at as the measure of this man's "success" - I look to the fact that through all this he remained focused on Christ, having learned to walk in the Spirit consistently - trading his own desires for those of Christ.  To finish this life having kept that which he was given to the very end - is the greatest legacy a man can leave behind - a path for others to follow; a path which was not forged by his own effort, but was rather the evidence of a man who had learned to follow in the steps of our Lord.

When I heard that Bill had gone to meet his Lord, I couldn't help but think that the crop grown in the fertile soil of this man's life was not thirty or sixty fold - but an hundred fold.  I hope that my own life can be as consistent and open a testimony of God's grace as Pastor Bill's life. 

He finished the race well.  God help all who call on his name to note such men, and to imitate their surrender.
posted by Daniel @ 11:27 AM   6 comment(s)
Wednesday, July 04, 2012
Deuteronomy 2:24-35 - The Destruction of Heshbon
‘Rise up, set out on your journey and go over the Valley of the Arnon. Behold, I have given into your hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land. Begin to take possession, and contend with him in battle. This day I will begin to put the dread and fear of you on the peoples who are under the whole heaven, who shall hear the report of you and shall tremble and be in anguish because of you.’

So I sent messengers from the wilderness of Kedemoth to Sihon the king of Heshbon, with words of peace, saying, ‘Let me pass through your land. I will go only by the road; I will turn aside neither to the right nor to the left. You shall sell me food for money, that I may eat, and give me water for money, that I may drink. Only let me pass through on foot, as the sons of Esau who live in Seir and the Moabites who live in Ar did for me, until I go over the Jordan into the land that the Lord our God is giving to us.’ But Sihon the king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him, for the Lord your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, that he might give him into your hand, as he is this day. And the Lord said to me, ‘Behold, I have begun to give Sihon and his land over to you. Begin to take possession, that you may occupy his land.’ Then Sihon came out against us, he and all his people, to battle at Jahaz. And the Lord our God gave him over to us, and we defeated him and his sons and all his people. And we captured all his cities at that time and devoted to destruction every city, men, women, and children. We left no survivors. Only the livestock we took as spoil for ourselves, with the plunder of the cities that we captured.
- Deuteronomy 2:24-35 [ESV]
Dear reader, please note the text in blue above.  In the first blurb God let's Israel know (through Moses) that He has given the Israelites victory over the Amorites.  In other words God let's Israel know that He has [1] ordained that Israel will go to war with Heshbon and [2] that Israel will win that war.

Immediately following this, we read (again in blue) that Moses offered the king of Heshbon the opportunity to let Israel pass through the land (sticking to the road), paying for whatever food or water they might consume along the way.  Reading this we wonder whether Moses was really giving Sihon a "genuine" opportunity to escape the (waiting) wrath of God, or if it was just an empty offer.

I put this question to us in order that we may answer another question of some concern to believers today: How legitimate is the offer of salvation when it is given to someone whom God has not chosen for salvation

Instead of charging into the land with drawn swords Moses offered Sihon (the king of Heshbon) an alternative:  Let us pass through the land, we won't leave the road, and we will pay for anything we consume as we pass through.  Two questions come to my mind when I consider this: [1] why would Moses make this offer if he knew God had ordained the destruction of the Amorites?  And [2] was the offer legitimate?

Starting with the first question.  Either Moses is acting in accord with God's instructions, or apart from them.  Let's be fair: the command to offer to pay for food and water is not explicitly stated.  On that basis one might argue that Moses was acting on his own accord in this instance.  In this way, God can't be "blamed" for making the offer, since it was Moses making the offer without authority to do so.  We reject this explanation on the grounds that had Moses made an offer to the Amorites that God had not ordained, Moses would have been punished for it - as he was in the incident at Meribah-Kadesh.

Another argument is that perhaps God hadn't yet informed Moses that He was about to utterly wipe out the Amorites, so that Moses, acting in good faith, was making what he believed to be a legitimate offer, being ignorant of the fact that God had devoted the Amorites to destruction.  But this falls flat on its face.  The Amorites were devoted to destruction from day one.  We see them listed in Exodus 3:8 as one of the peoples whom the Israelites would displace upon coming into the land of Canaan.  Moses had known for 40 years that the Amorites were devoted to destruction - the idea that Moses did not understand or know that God had ordained these people for destruction is biblically untenable.

Still some might argue that although the Amorites had been marked for destruction, it is not unthinkable that God would give them a legitimate opportunity to change their stripes, as it were.  Thus they contend that God hadn't so much as ordained their destruction as threatened it.  The idea here would be that God had promised to devote them to destruction if they continued on the course they were on.  In this way, the offer Moses made was their last opportunity to pick themselves up by their bootstraps and do right by God.  The problem with this is that scripture elsewhere teaches that no one can repent apart from God's grace.  That the leopard cannot change his spots, nor the Ethiopian his skin, anymore than a sinner (or a nation of sinners) can change into godly people.  In other words, they could not possibly have allowed Israel to pass through their lands unless God gave them the grace to do so.

Given that the Amorites were devoted to destruction before the offer was ever made, and given that they could not, apart from the grace of God, respond to the offer in any positive way, we must conclude that God was not attempting to find some way (other than devoting them to destruction) to get Israel across their land.  In fact, we are hard pressed to suggest anything other than God using this offer to provoke the military response that followed.

Now onto the second question, was the offer legitimate?  In other words, was there any possibility that these Amorites could change their spots? 

We already know that without the grace of God the Amorites could by no means respond in any way other than the way in which they eventually responded, and we conclude, given that God hardened the heart of Sihon, that this was not going to happen.   When the scriptures record God as "hardening" a heart, the imagery is of clay hardening, and being set forever into the shape it was already in at the time it was hardened.  It wasn't that God formed a rebellious heart in Sihon, then set it that way - it is rather that God allowed Sihon to continue in his sin to the point where there Sihon, and by extension, the Amorites, could find no place for repentance.  Their hearts were rebellious hearts hardened into the shape they had always pressed them into.

Given this, do we conclude that God was supplying these (condemned already) Amorites with a genuine offer to turn away from their sin?  To answer that, let's ask a few questions of the scriptures, and use the principles we find in the answers to this question. 

Remember how God gave Noah the plans for the ark?  Did the ark include provision for every man, woman, and child upon the earth, or was there just enough room for the animals, the provisions, and Noah's family?  Noah preached righteousness to the sinners of his day all through those long decades wherein he was building the ark - an ark that made no provision for any converts to righteousness.  God knew before He supplied Noah with the plans that no one would repent.  Noah (assuming he wasn't daft), would have concluded, given the lack of provision, that no one would repent.  So why did Noah bother preaching righteousness?  The author of Hebrews tells us that Noah, in building an ark to same himself and his family condemned the world (cf. Hebrews 11:7).  Likewise in the context of condemnation, Peter tells us that God did not spare the angels, or the ancient world (ie. the people in Noah's day) in spite of Noah being a herald of righteousness (cf. 2 Peter 2:5).  That is Noah preached righteousness - not for the purpose of converting souls, but rather to reveal through the preaching that these were deserving of the condemnation they were earning. 

In the third chapter of John we read that the light came into the world, but men loved darkness rather than the light, and refuse to come to the light because doing so would expose the fact that they are evil.  Did you catch that?  The light exposes their evil, that is why they do not come to it. 

When Moses set an opportunity before the Amorites, an opportunity to come to the light, as it were, they rejected it in order that their evil would be exposed for what it was.

The offer was genuine in the sense that the same offer had always been there: ie, here was an opportunity to humble themselves before God.  They had rejected every opportunity up to this point, and their rejection of this final offer served the purpose for which the offer had been proffered: judgment.

Do you get that?  The offer was part of God's judgment against them.  They had no opportunity to repent apart from God's grace, and their condemnation was already pronounced, and had been pronounced decades earlier - the offer was made in order to illustrate the righteousness of God's long awaited judgment against them.  

I expect that not too many people imagine the gospel offer in terms of judgment, but that is how scripture paints it, even in the New Testament.  Consider the words of Paul (2 Corinthians 2:15-16a), "For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life." - the gospel preached by Christians will have only one of two effects - it will condemn those who are condemned, and give life to those who are granted life.  As difficult as it is for some to accept: the gospel cannot serve both purposes in the same person - it serves one or the other.  It is the words of life to those who called to life, and to the rest it is an herald of death.

If we think of the gospel as nothing more than the offer of life, we are only understanding half of it, and our theology is going to suffer for it.

posted by Daniel @ 11:53 AM   3 comment(s)
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