En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

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Posts Tagged ‘article’

Is Open-Mindedness a Good Thing?

Posted by Scott on May 4, 2008

I was reading a brief article that brought up the subject of the saying from long ago that being “open-minded” is a good thing.  The enemy of our mortal souls would like nothing more than to make us believe for a moment first he is not real, but beyond that he has placed in the Christian and non-Christian minds the lie that being “open-minded” to anything is the way we should live.  Now I ask, should we be “open-minded” as Christians…let’s take a look at this further?

As Christians are we not suppose to be filling our minds with the word of God rather than the philosophy of men?  Refer to Phillipians 3:18-20.  We are not to be like the rest of the world, so why would we consider anything the world has to say that is apart from the word of God?  Colossians 3:3 tells us to set our minds on the things above not on earthly things.  Here again we are not to be bothered with earthly philosopshy…we are to be concentrating on the things of God.  If we have “open-minds” to everything we will become like Burk Parsons says:

 “We thus become headless and brainless philosophers who just want to get along.” 

 Personally, I could care less about being a philosopher…it is my goal to speak the word of God regardless of what I personally think.  The authentic Christian life has nothing to do with my philosophy, but everything to do with the gospel truth found in God’s word…the Bible!

As Burk Parsons further stated,

“the mantra of religious pluralists:  Liberate your mind, lose your faith, and feel the love.” 

Everyone wants to “feel the love”, yet, I would contend that dumping our minds to the thoughts and ideas of a world that is hell bound is not what I would consider spiritually intellectual,  spiritually using your brain, or even remotely spiritually desirable.  If “feeling the love” from this world is what it is all about I guess I am left out of that loop.  I would hope that most of us that consider ourselves evangelical reformers are not even close to being “evanjellyfish” as Burk puts it or “religious pluralist”.  I have not been accused very many times of being open-minded, but have been accused many times of being very narrow-minded and old fashioned. I take that as a great compliment to my life and faith.  I guess you could consider me a “decided closed-minded reformer” on anything that has nothing to do with biblical truth and would not further the kingdom of God. 

John Calvin once wrote, “Wherefore all theology, when separated from Christ, is not only vain and confused, but is also mad, deceitful, and spurious; for, though philosophers sometimes utter excellent sayings, yet they have nothing but what is short-lived and eve mixed up with wicked and erroneous sentiments.” 

As for me and my house, we are trying to be close-minded to the philosophies of this world…to the ideas and philosophies that are contrary to the word of God.  We strive to close our minds to any subject or idea that takes away from Christ…this however, does not mean perfection in this area, but it is our constant goal.  It is our desire to live and breathe the word of God.  It is our life to proclaim that Jesus Christ ALONE is the only way to the heavenly Father.  Yes, this is narrow-minded, but Christ said in Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate…but small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.”  Did you catch that last part…”only a few find it”?  So, if you find yourself in one mind with the world and its philosophies, you are travelling down the wide road that leads to destruction, you need to rethink the path you are travelling, repent, and get on the narrow path.  Our Lord was narrow-minded and we, as His followers, should be too.

John 14: 6 Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Join with Burk Parsons, other theologians, my family, and myself in closing the mind to this worlds philosophical lies and only opening it to the things of God spelled out for us in the Bible.  Allow the Holy Spirit to direct our paths not the philosophies of men.

-Scott Bailey 2008

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The Post-Truth Era Strikes Again!

Posted by Scott on March 7, 2008

by Dr. Albert Mohler Jr.

The question of truth has always haunted authors of controversial stories — including both fiction and non-fiction. Nevertheless, non-fiction was understood to represent a claim to be a true, even if highly interpreted, account of reality. Or, at least that has been the understanding until recent times.

Now, in the age of Stephen Colbert’s concept of “truthiness” and what others have called a “post-truth era,” the lines between fiction and non-fiction are becoming more and more blurred. This is true even in the case of some well-known, popular, and influential works.  Does the truth matter anymore?  Do we care if fiction is presented as non-fiction?

In 1992 Guatemalan author Rigoberta Menchu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, largely on the basis of her book, I, Rigoberta Menchu, in which she claimed that she and her family had been subjected to horrible persecution by right-wing Guatemalan forces and the government. While it is likely that this was true, at least in general terms, serious questions have been raised about specifics in her story. Is this not a problem?

In 1976 Asa Earl Carter released another book destined to be a best-seller. Writing under the pseudonym of Forrest Carter the book appeared as The Education of Little Tree. The book was presented as an account of the life of a young Native American boy. It later turned out that the story was not an autobiography at all, but a work of fiction. Nevertheless, the book is still cited as a non-fiction account in many contexts.

President Ronald Reagan had asked historian Edmund Morris to write what many considered the authorized biography covering his life and presidential administrations. Readers were shocked when Morris’s book, Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan, appeared. The book was not a traditional biography at all. Instead, Morris wove together fictional and historical materials so that the reader is never sure which is which. After controversy ensued, the book’s publisher had the audacity to claim that Morris’s methodology actually represented an improvement or advance in the biographical form.

Two years ago, James Frey was forced to admit that his purported memoir, A Million Little Pieces, was not a truthful account of his struggle with drug addiction.  Then, just last week, the literary world was shaken by the news that Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years by Misha Defonseca is yet another fake.

All this is background to today’s revelation in The New York Times that the book world has been rocked by yet another literary admission.  Truth has been victimized again.

From the story:

In “Love and Consequences,” a critically acclaimed memoir published last week, Margaret B. Jones wrote about her life as a half-white, half-Native American girl growing up in South-Central Los Angeles as a foster child among gang-bangers, running drugs for the Bloods.

The problem is that none of it is true.

Margaret B. Jones is a pseudonym for Margaret Seltzer, who is all white and grew up in the well-to-do Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles, in the San Fernando Valley, with her biological family. She graduated from the Campbell Hall School, a private Episcopal day school in the North Hollywood neighborhood. She has never lived with a foster family, nor did she run drugs for any gang members. Nor did she graduate from the University of Oregon, as she had claimed.

Riverhead Books, the unit of Penguin Group USA that published “Love and Consequences,” is recalling all copies of the book and has canceled Ms. Seltzer’s book tour, which was scheduled to start on Monday in Eugene, Ore., where she currently lives.

Here is the most interesting section from the paper’s report:

“I’m not saying like I did it right,” Ms. Seltzer said. “I did not do it right. I thought I had an opportunity to make people understand the conditions that people live in and the reasons people make the choices from the choices they don’t have.” Ms. McGrath [editor for Riverbend] said that she had numerous conversations with Ms. Seltzer about being truthful. “She seems to be very, very naïve,” Ms. McGrath said. “There was a way to do this book honestly and have it be just as compelling.”

That is the saddest aspect of this entire controversy.  This statement just about says it all:  “There was a way to do this book honestly and have it be just as compelling.”  The truth would have served just as well — and would have led to none of these embarrassments and humiliations.

We may live in what some would style a “post-truth era,” but the fact remains that the distinction between fiction and non-fiction matters — and far beyond the literary world.  The truth always matters, and only the most deluded may believe that we can live without it.

Still, there is hope in all this.  Every one of these revelations has brought a sense of outrage.  This just might be a sign that an instinct for the necessity of truth survives even yet.

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Masculinity without Manhood?

Posted by Scott on March 7, 2008

by Dr. Albert Mohler Jr.

It does not take great intellectual sophistication to see that we are in a period of widespread gender confusion. As with so many other developments of our times, our evolving language betrays more substantial shifts in the culture.

Writing in The Boston Globe [warning, article includes crude language], Mark Peters argues that the proliferation of “man” terms indicates this confusion over manhood and masculinity.

“Hey guys. Is it time for a manogram? Did you get your manimony check?,” he asks. Then he points to the bigger picture:

If you feel like you’re seeing man words everywhere, you’re not alone. Movies, TV shows, ads, and the Web have been pumping them out. Some are painful puns, some crude slang, and as a genre, they say a great deal about our ever-in-flux gender roles.

Man words come from many man caves. Manimony (alimony paid to fellas) got a boost when it was used on “Cashmere Mafia” this month, just as “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” spread manscaping, which encompasses shaving, waxing, plucking, and other deforestation of the male bod. Manny – the word, not the ballplayer – was popularized by stories about Britney Spears’s male nanny, and mancation caught on after Vince Vaughn said it in “The Break-up.” Commercials feature man laws, man food, man suits, and man thongs. US soldiers in Iraq call the traditional Muslim dishdasha a man dress, while a resurgence of traditional manly activities has led some to discuss a menaissance.

So a “manogram” is a prostate exam and a “mankini” is a swim suit popular in Europe — where it should stay. Peters, who is a keen observer of language, understands well that these linguistic innovations indicate confusion.

Here is the most important section of his article:

How to act like a man is a humdinger of an issue if you are one. The late Steven L. Nock, a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, said in an e-mail to me last year that it doesn’t take much for women to prove that they’re “real women” in the widely accepted senses, but men are in a more slippery situation, especially with the role of father/protector/provider not considered as necessary or desirable as it once was. “[M]asculinity must be continuously earned and displayed. It is never won,” Nock wrote. Without a traditional role to embrace, being a man requires constantly defining yourself in opposition to all things female: “No wonder things like man-purses attract attention.”

Peters, citing the late Steven L. Nock, argues that men “are in a more slippery situation” precisely because “the role of father/protector/provider [is] not considered as necessary or desirable as it once was.”

This really does get to the heart of the issue. Men should not expect to be comfortable with an understanding of masculinity that is not based in these roles and responsibilities. When manhood is not defined in these normative terms, confusion necessarily follows — complete with a new and confusing vocabulary.

In a biblical perspective, manhood is defined in these roles and responsibilities.  A man is defined in terms of who he is and what he does in obedience to God.  A society that rejects or sidelines these roles and responsibilities — that does not honor fatherhood and hold it out as expectation — will sow seeds of disastrous confusion.  The damage to our language is among the least of our problems.

While the Bible clearly honors men who forfeit the blessings of wife and children for the sake of the Gospel (see, for example, 1 Corinthians 7:7-9, 32-28), the history of the Christian church indicates that these represent a minority.  The normative expectation is that a young man will mature to take on the role of “father/protector/provider” that Peters correctly sees as “not considered as necessary or desirable as it once was” within the secular culture.  Those men who are faithfully living out these responsibilities are not likely to be too concerned about finding true masculinity.  They are living it.

When this expectation is no longer normative, it should be no surprise that men struggle to define masculinity.  The focus shifts from family to fashion accessories.  Our language betrays our confusion, but the confusion reveals a larger betrayal. 

We lie to ourselves if we believe that we can hold onto a healthy masculinity without honoring true manhood. 

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Boys…diagnosed with ADHD, but are they really? Dr. Mohler Jr.

Posted by Scott on February 27, 2008

OK, So What Kid Doesn’t Fit this Description?

When thinking of signs of our times, consider this advertisement from a Nebraska newspaper. The ad was brought to my attention by a helpful listener to the radio program.

Now, let’s think carefully about this. Can’t sit still? Can’t play quietly? Loses things? Does not seem to listen? Has difficulty paying attention? Is fidgety? Honestly, do you know any 6 to 12-year-old children who do not fit this description?

The number of children — especially boys — diagnosed with ADHD has skyrocketed in recent years. While some boys may well have some kind of genuine problem, the vast majority appear to be diagnosed as, well . . . boys. As physician Leonard Sax, author of Boys Adrift, explains, a diagnosis of ADHD lets everyone off the hook, so to speak. The boy is told he is not responsible for his behavioral problems, the parents are relieved of anxiety over inadequate parenting, teachers and bureaucrats have a new pathological slot into which boys can be filed, and drug companies get to sell pills. Everybody wins.

But, as Dr. Sax argues, the diagnosis and the drugs can have far-reaching consequences for the boy. I am not a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a pharmacologist, or a medical professional of any sort. I am a former boy, however, and I know very well that every boy I have ever known would fit the categories described in this advertisement.

I would write more about this, but I just can’t sit still. Now, what were we talking about?

Dr. Albert Mohler Jr. (February 27th, 2008)

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-Can I Get A Witness Here? Holiness is Our Calling!

Posted by Scott on January 8, 2008

After all is said and done, the comment I received to a post of mine did not seem to fit the article. Fierce Warriors or Raise a Spartan Warrior is not a judgemental piece towards certain people although it brings up certain sins of people…sin is not exclusively for those mentioned…as I am chief of sinners. This is an article that challenges dads to raise their sons to do battle in this world for the cause of Christ. Yes, we are to be very forgiving to our neighbors and of their sin…not to the point that we just keep over looking our brothers and sisters in Christ living in sin though. They need help if that is the case…we are to lift them up as God would lead us to do. However, that is not what is spoken about in these articles.

Read the rest of my post on this blog and guest post I have included to discover my complete heart…a heart that loves Christ dearly, serves Him as valiantly as one can, wishes that all could know the God I know, believes that the God who created this world is far bigger than any God we can think of, believes that God is sovereign over all.  A heart that believes God delights in showing grace and mercy upon His people, but uses events in our lives to shape us into the vessel He can use for the furthering of His Kingdom.

I am not qualified to judge anyone, because I do not have the complete picture for others attitude or reasons for acting the way they do. However, the few sins mentioned are mentioned in the bible in a big way, so I cannot water that down or dismiss it. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 tells us “Don’t you know that those who do wrong will have no share in the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, who are idol worshipers, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, abusers (could be abuse of food or abuse of people), and swindlers-none of these will have a share in the Kingdom of God.” This is not to say that if a person commits adultery they cannot go to heaven if they repent of their sins and turn their lives over to Christ…however, a person that “indulges” in this type of lifestyle without any regard to a life with Christ or points a finger at God as though to defy Him will not inherit the Kingdom of God….many of these will never come to Christ no matter how much you love them or witness to them…God is not in them….that spark is non-existent in the corner of their heart that is needed for the Holy Spirit to prompt them with and draw (drag) them to Jesus. We as Christians do make mistakes and God looks through that to see our hearts and He pardons our sins as we come back to Him asking forgiveness…our mistakes are most of the time not an indulgence, but a lack of fellowship with Christ, a lack of spending time in His Word and falling back into a sinful life or simply a case of very bad choices.

Acts 2:40 speaks like this “Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, ‘Save yourselves from this generation that has gone astray!’” I do believe Peter’s message would be even more direct today than ever before. We have a generation of Christians now that feel they can mingle and live as the non-believers do, but love them to death and win them over to Christ all the while sacrificing their own holiness before God in the process. This will not be acceptable before our holy God. We as believers need to live a life that is so astonishingly different that the world wants what we have. As should be the case when they come around us is to experience and see the holiness of God on our lives. This is a life that the non-believing world senses is authentically loving, caring, holy, and God honoring…something they would love to experience themselves. However, the world has witnessed a sham Christianity for decades now that has tried to condemn everyone into heaven, scare the “hell” out of people, judge them into heaven, make them feel shameful, and so on…this has been a shameful time from the witness of God’s people. Now, we are experiencing the “emerging church” philosophy that tells you to get out there and entertain them into heaven, embrace their sinfulness as to not offend them and love them for who they are not helping them out of their sinful lifestyle, don’t speak about their sin, go to the bars like they do because God doesn’t really care how you achieve this witness as long as you do it in His name, whatever feels right must be from God, water down and dumb down the message in order to not offend the people, don’t meet in buildings that look like churches because that offends people, get rid of the theologically sound doctrines found in hundreds of hymns and replace that with rock in roll chants and choruses and so on. This is as big a sham Christianity as the earlier days of the legalistic judgemental church. One judges people into hell because they develop a hatred for the church and the other tries to convince people into heaven and allows them to “feel good” all the time to the point they never meet Christ and end up in hell because no one confronted their sinfulness as Christ would have.

God’s holy word tells the church exactly how we are to be. Christians are to in part: steady, non-judging, sin haters, lovers of the Word, Christ followers, believers, giving, merciful, gracious, loving people, teachers/preachers of the entire truth of God’s word not just the good feeling parts of it. This is not everything an authentic Christian should be, but this is a good test of who is living it and who is not. So, I wanted to clarify further my heart, the purpose for the articles mentioned, and God’s calling for us to come back to holiness before Him in our lifestyles…that is determined between you and the Lord not me, your neighbor or anyone else.

 I could rattle on and on about my Lord and will in more post as the Lord impresses His thoughts and word upon my heart, but I really want anyone reading this post and any of the other post on this “Dads Devoted” blog to know that I do love each one of you regardless of your beliefs.  I cannot save anyone, that is God’s job.  It is not my place to judge anything you do, God has reserved that position for Himself.  However, I can love you as commanded by my Lord Jesus and live a life of holiness before you as the scriptures would instruct us to do.  May God richly bless the reading of His holy word whether in voice or in print

Pressing on in Him,
Scott

-Scott Bailey (c) 2008

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-From A Dad: A Revived Call to Holiness!

Posted by Scott on December 31, 2007

Can I be frank with you, Guys?  God is calling His people back to holiness.  Our families are looking to us as husbands, fathers, and leaders to usher in this holiness to our homes, churches, and even the workplace.  Are we inadvertently losing our desire to be holy?  This is not the direction the majority of the churches are moving today either.  As a matter of fact, the church in general is moving as far away from holiness as it can all in the name of progress in winning the lost to Christ.  We see the great hymns that testify to His holiness and sovereignty pushed aside for more upbeat, rock style chants.  Such old hymns as “Take Time to be Holy” by William D. Longstaff of 1882 with such words as

“Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord; abide in Him always, and feed on His word.  Make friends of God’s children; help those who are weak; forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek”

are missing within the walls of churches of today.  Preachers are not standing in the pulpits anymore with the Holy Scriptures in front of them proclaiming God as holy and that we should be moving in that holy direction ourselves as the Spirit of God prompts us.  We cannot embrace success until we have successfully embraced the suffering of Christ as a part of Christianity.   

Here in Micah 5:1-15 we find a special treat as the coming birth of Christ is foretold.  The coming of Christ was the great hope for the oppressed people of this day and time.  This is not much different than the hopes we have today of Christ second coming.  My concern is the condition of “the bride of Christ” when He returns.  The task at hand for us is a return to the holiness of God.  Micah 5:4 states “He will stand to lead His flock with the Lord’s strength, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God”.  Verse 5 “He will be the source of our peace”. God always uses a remnant for His purposes.  As the Israelites of this day and time were captured and hauled off to captivity, God promises to keep a remnant for His use.  He promises to restore and redeem this remnant for His greater glory.  This remnant is a people with little significance to the world from an earthly point of view.  These are people God strips bare and purifies with His mighty hand deep into the core of their being, and rebuilds them to accomplish His work here on earth.  The remnant is a people striving to live a holy life before God with little regard for the opinions of the masses including those within their on Christian circles.  As we look around, so many “play” at Christianity with little power in their lives.  For some reason it is “hip” in the Bible-Belt of America to tag yourself with the label of “Christian”.  To live this life out with a holy humble calling does not enter their thought process.  The church wonders why it does not have an effect on lives in their communities.  The church has left its first love, Christ, for a false doctrine of prosperity and feeling good.  The church has become in many circles the Oprah or Doctor Phil show with a Christian twist.  People are entertained by rock bands, skits, and celebrity preachers into the pits of hell, but are convinced in their own hearts that it is the work of God.  Holiness is not an easy task nor is it an easy topic to explore.  This will not be a deep search into holiness, that article will come later. 

This is a holiness called out by God from the prophet Micah years ago to a people that had been warned to turn back to God and seek His holiness in their lives.  This same holiness is welling up again within the groaning’s of this fallen world.  Being purified for His holy calling on our lives requires a painful, sometimes stressing, and bloody process.  God wants absolutely nothing between Him and us.  I am convinced that He will not stop short of destroying each and every security we have on this earth in order to achieve the holiness in us He intends.  Our finances are of no concern to Him if that must be taken in order to get our attention.  Many of us find great security in our jobs and family, yet that is not safe from this purification process.  Our toys are certainly at risk of rust and disaster if any chance exists they would get in the way of our walk with Christ.  As we see His awesome work in Micah and His people as he purifies His remnant by destroying the idols in their lives.  He was destroying anything that they may have held in greater confidence than His Majesty.  He will banish all items and concepts that pushed them away from His work within their hearts.  God would not allow anything to be left of their old life within them.  Any education that penetrates our mind and heart on the contrary to Him must go.  Micah 5:13 “…never again worship the work of your own hands.”  

In order to rebuild something you must gut it out.  Have you ever seen a home that is being remodeled?  Typically, if it is a complete remodel you take the inside of the home down to the studs of the walls.  You get rid of the old countertops, the old kitchen cabinets, the old flooring, the old musty walls and ceilings in order to restore the home and update it for better use.  In the same way, the Lord guts us out inside and rebuilds us to His specifications. 

I found in this passage of Micah 5:7 that this remnant of God is like “dew sent by the Lord or rain falling on the grass, which no one can hold back”.  I can picture thirsty, parched, brown grassland that once the dew or rain has touched it comes back to life.  Within a few days that grass greens up again and becomes vibrant and healthy for cattle, sheep, or horses to eat.  Today, I read all over the internet and listen to people I am around moan in thirst for God’s truth.  These dry, parched, famished people look at everything for the truth that will satisfy their void for truth.  They long for someone to drench their tongue with the dew of God’s holy word.  Yet what they find is a message that merely tickles their ears and is little more than a mist that evaporates before than can even swallow.  For ministers that are trusted with the word of God to water down this gospel of Christ or only deliver a message that never requires anything of God’s people is a sinful act of their own will.  This is having tragic effects on the people that God is calling to His holiness, but how can they understand His holiness when they are never told how to be holy?   

In an act of obedience I deliver this message that God is calling us as layman and leaders of the church back to “holiness”.  I am not speaking of perfection here, but holiness.  This is a life that is lived for Christ against every possible oddity that can be found.  This holy life is one that mirrors God Himself.  This is a life that is not lived out for ones self, but surrendered to a Holy God that is majestic in every way.  God deserves nothing less than our entire lives and the best the Holy Spirit can wrench out of us. 

This is the straight forward truth.  This is the rain that revives and helps us to grow.  His holiness is found within the pages of the bible.   God is looking for obedient followers that march forward to His calling and His instructions, and sense the calling to be holy and work at it with every ounce of energy they have.  Disobedience will be met with God’s vengeance and stamped out.  It is better to obey than to sacrifice, however, in the quest for holiness sacrifice is also a large part of it as we rid ourselves of selfish desires and selfish activities. 

C.S. Lewis has written: 

“If I have read the New Testament right it leaves no room for our ‘creativeness’…Our whole destiny seems to lie in the opposite direction, in being as little as possible ourselves, in acquiring a fragrance that is not our own but borrowed, in becoming clean mirrors filled with the image of a face that is not ours.” 

Just remember that God does not usually work through the majority in order to accomplish His work, but a special few called “His remnant” that are set aside for His special use.  How will those of us hearing this call respond?  Will we pursue God and His holiness in order to be of greater use to Him?  Again, this is not a call to perfection…this is a call to change and bend at the will of our holy God in unabashed obedience to Him. 

-Scott Bailey © 2007

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Fads Fade, but the Word Stands Forever!

Posted by Scott on November 29, 2007

Fads Fade, but the Word Stands Forever

Bible House(By Phil Johnson)

This concludes Phil’s series on the fad-driven church. For those who missed any of the earlier portions of this series, here are links to the previous posts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6.

As we have seen in the last two posts, the Word of God is both powerful and penetrating. Third—

3. The Word of God is precise.

Notice how this verse describes the ministry of the Word of God as precision surgery, not wanton destruction: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Now, obviously, surgery is ordinarily done with a scalpel, not a sword. Scalpels are small and precise, and razor sharp—just like the Word of God:  “sharper than any twoedged sword.” The surgeon uses a scalpel with great care to cut precisely, sometimes dividing fine layers of tissue with remarkable precision.

That is exactly what is described here. The Word of God divides soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and it is capable of great discrimination. It discerns “the thoughts and intents of the heart”—something that is not even visible to the human eye.

We cannot look upon the heart—the innermost part of the human soul. First Samuel 16:7: “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but [only] the LORD looketh on the heart.”

We can’t even correctly discern the thoughts and intents of our own hearts.  Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” We are all subject to self-deception and blindness when it comes to judging our own hearts. But the Word of God reveals what is really in our hearts, and it correctly assesses our thoughts and intentions. It shows our motives and our imaginations for what they really are. And that is why it is capable of such precision surgery—even in the deepest recesses of our souls.

Some people misread this phrase “the dividing asunder of soul and spirit”  and imagine that this describes two completely separate parts of the immaterial makeup of our beings. I don’t believe that’s what it is teaching. I realize there  are good Bible teachers who teach that man is a tripartite creature, consisting of body, soul, and spirit. But I don’t think that’s the point of this verse. Scripture often uses the expressions “soul” and “spirit” interchangeably. It is difficult to make any meaningful division between soul and spirit, and that is the whole point.

Just like the “joints and marrow” of your bones and the “thoughts and  intentions” of your heart, these things are so inextricably linked that it’s impossible to separate them without destroying one or the other. They aren’t  separate entities that exist apart from each other. They aren’t distinct human faculties. There is overlap and interdependence. But the Word of God is precise  and exact, and it cuts with painstaking accuracy. It divides what cannot otherwise be divided. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, and yet more precise than any surgeon’s scalpel.

Here’s the point: We ought to make better use of the Word of God in our ministry, and ignore all the evangelical fads that come and go. After all, only the Word of God has the powerful, penetrating precision that is necessary to reach and revitalize hearts that are cold and dead because of  sin. And this is also our clear biblical mandate: “Preach the word . . . in season, out of season”—no matter which way the winds of doctrine are blowing and no  matter how many fads and fashions come and go.

Obey that mandate, and God will bless your ministry. Chase every bandwagon that comes down the road, and you will regret it on that day when you give account for your ministry.

-Scott Bailey 2007

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The Awkward Irony of the Atheist Sunday School!

Posted by Scott on November 29, 2007

Dr. Mohler’s Blog

 

Incongruous as it sounds, atheists are now organizing Sunday Schools. TIME magazine reports that many non-believing parents are concerned that their children are not adequately grounded in secular thought and feel left out of experiences like Sunday School that are common among their friends.

Reporter Jeninne Lee-St. John understands that the idea seems a bit strange. “On Sunday mornings, most parents who don’t believe in the Christian God, or any god at all, are probably making brunch or cheering at their kids’ soccer game, or running errands or, with luck, sleeping in. Without religion, there’s no need for church, right?”

Well, not exactly. Lee-St. John explains this new development:

But some nonbelievers are beginning to think they might need something for their children. “When you have kids,” says Julie Willey, a design engineer, “you start to notice that your co-workers or friends have church groups to help teach their kids values and to be able to lean on.” So every week, Willey, who was raised Buddhist and says she has never believed in God, and her husband pack their four kids into their blue minivan and head to the Humanist Community Center in Palo Alto, Calif., for atheist Sunday school.

Packing the kids in the minivan for atheist Sunday School is likely to sound more than a little strange to those accustomed to more traditional Sunday Schools (that teach children about God) but it is fascinating that atheists are concerned that their children need secular instruction.

It seems that many atheist parents are concerned that their children should learn at an early age how to deal with the challenge of living among Christian believers. Furthermore, these parents want to ensure that their children and teenagers learn their own secular values.

The report explains that the growing number of atheists and non-believers in the nation are becoming more concerned about their children, and are establishing both Sunday Schools and atheist youth camps in order to inculcate secular beliefs and morality within the next generation.

The magazine offers a very interesting description of what goes on at a model atheist Sunday School:

The Palo Alto Sunday family program uses music, art and discussion to encourage personal expression, intellectual curiosity and collaboration. One Sunday this fall found a dozen children up to age 6 and several parents playing percussion instruments and singing empowering anthems like I’m Unique and Unrepeatable, set to the tune of Ten Little Indians, instead of traditional Sunday-school songs like Jesus Loves Me. Rather than listen to a Bible story, the class read Stone Soup, a secular parable of a traveler who feeds a village by making a stew using one ingredient from each home.

Down the hall in the kitchen, older kids engaged in a Socratic conversation with class leader Bishop about the role persuasion plays in decision-making. He tried to get them to see that people who are coerced into renouncing their beliefs might not actually change their minds but could be acting out of self-preservation–an important lesson for young atheists who may feel pressure to say they believe in God.

My guess is that these atheist Sunday Schools will not be as successful as these parents hope. “I’m Unique and Unrepeatable” just can’t really compete with “Jesus Loves Me.” Children have not yet developed cynicism and, in general, are quite eager to believe in God. Children taught from the Bible in Sunday School learn that they were made by a loving God who cares for them — and then move on to learn much more about what the Bible teaches. No “secular parable” can compete with that.

In a strange way, the rise of atheist Sunday Schools illustrates the central dilemma of atheism itself. Try as they may, atheists cannot avoid talking about God — even if only to insist that they do not believe in Him. Now, atheist parents are organizing Sunday Schools as a parallel to the Christian practice. In effect, atheists are organizing themselves in a way similar to a local church. At least some of them must sense the awkward irony in that.

By Dr. Mohler Jr.

-Scott Bailey 2007

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The Bible-Better Than Any Fad!

Posted by Scott on November 28, 2007

New Article from Pulpit Magazine

Better Than Any Fad

 

God's Word is better than any fad(By Phil Johnson)

This is continued from last Tuesday’s series on the ”fad-driven” church. This article is adapted from the transcript to Phil’s 2005 Shepherds’ Conference seminar on this topic.

We left off, in the last post with this thought:

Scripture is better than any fad. Preaching the Word of God is more effective than any new methodology contemporary church experts have ever invented. I don’t care who thinks preaching is “broken.” If we would get back to the clear proclamation and exposition of God’s Word, everything that’s broken about contemporary preaching would be fixed.

The nature of God’s Word guarantees that. And that’s exactly what I want to do in the time we have remaining in this session. I want to preach to you about the superiority and the excellence of Scripture.

Hebrews 4:12 says, “The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

That’s a rich text, full of meaning, but let me take a few minutes to try to isolate what seem to me the three main qualities of the Word of God that are highlighted in this text, and let’s carefully consider what they mean.

First of all, it teaches us that—

1. The Word of God is powerful.

The King James Version says, “the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword.” Quick, of course, is the old English word for “living.” I was surprised in reading John Owen’s commentary on Hebrews that even though he wrote in the 1600s, he had to explain the word quick to his readers. He referred to the word quick as an improper translation, because, he said, “that word doth more ordinarily signify ‘speedy,’ than ‘living.’” So I don’t know when the word quick stopped meaning “alive,” but it was apparently before John Owen’s time.

I grew up in a church where we used to recite the traditional version of the Apostles’ Creed, which says, Christ “ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.” And that made perfect sense to me. I figured “the quick” were those who made it through the crosswalk, and “the dead” were those who didn’t.

But, of course, quick in this kind of context just means “alive” or “living,” and that is what this text is saying. “The Word of God is living.” That’s the correct sense. It speaks of vitality, life, activity, energy. The Word of God has a life-force that is unlike any merely human book. It is not only alive; it has the power to impart life to those who are spiritually dead. Jesus said in John 6:63: “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” First Peter 1:23: “[We are] born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” James 1:18: “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth.” Psalm 119:50: “This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.” “Your word has given me life.”

You can take all the great books and all the great literature in the world combined, and they do not have this life-giving power. No book changes lives like the Word of God. You might occasionally hear a person say, “that self-help book transformed my life”; or “that diet book was revolutionary”; or “that book on philosophy changed the way I think.” Rick Warren makes a promise in the introduction to The Purpose Driven Life that his book will change your life.

But the life-giving and life-changing power of the Bible is something far deeper than any other book can legitimately claim. The Word of God renews the heart by giving spiritual life to the spiritually dead. It changes our character at an essential, fundamental level. It transforms our desires and impacts us at a moral level no human literature can touch. It brings a kind of cleansing and renewal and sanctification that no other book could ever claim to offer. It resurrects the soul. It has the same creative power in the command of God when He said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.”

The Word of God is inherently powerful. It has a kind of life and vitality that is unlike merely human words. Proverbs 6:22–23 says this about the Word of God: “When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.” And a familiar passage, 2 Timothy 3:16–17 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

No other book has that effect. It rebukes us. It chastens us. It comforts us. It guides us and gives light to our path. It preaches to us. It restrains our foot from evil. It frowns on us when we sin. It warms our hearts with assurance. It encourages us with its promises. It stimulates our faith. It builds us up. It ministers to our every need. It is alive and dynamic.

And the vitality of Scripture is eternal and abiding. In John 6:68, Simon Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” The eternality of divine life is perfectly embodied in the Word of God. Again, Jesus said (Mark 13:31), “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.” Isaiah 40:8: “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” Psalm 119:89: “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” First Peter 1:25: “But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”

Every page of the Bible has a life-changing power that is just as fresh as the day it was written. We don’t have to make it come alive; it is both alive and active. It is always relevant, eternally applicable, speaking to the heart with a power that is unlike even the greatest of human works. The thoughts and opinions of men come and go. They fall from fashion and fade from memory. But the Word of God remains “quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword.”

And what is true of the whole is true of the parts. Every part of Scripture is alive and powerful. Proverbs 30:5: “Every word of God is pure.” Jesus said “Every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” gives life and sustenance. That’s why Deuteronomy 8:3 says, “man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.”

I’m always amazed at the passages of Scripture that have been instrumental in bringing people to Christ. I’ve told you before how I came to saving faith in Christ by reading 1 Corinthians as a senior in high school. The passage that drew me to Christ is not one you would necessarily think of as an evangelistic text. First Corinthians 3:18: “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.” But it rebuked my sin and turned me to Christ.

I have heard people tell how they were awakened to eternal life by verses from the gospels, the epistles, the psalms, and even some of the obscure parts of the Old Testament. I doubt there’s a page anywhere in Scripture that has not at some time or some place been used by the Spirit of God to convert a soul. None of it is superfluous. Second Timothy 3:16 again: “All scripture is . . . profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”

My friend Joe Aleppo, who is here this week, introduced me to a man in Sicily who came to Christ during a severe paper shortage after World War II because of a single page of Scripture from a Bible someone had thrown away. Paper was almost impossible to come by, so merchants used old newspapers and other scrap paper to wrap whatever they sold in the marketplace. This man went to the fish market and bought a fish. When he unwrapped it at home, one of the papers used to make the package was a page from a discarded New Testament. He read it, and this man who had been a lifelong Roman Catholic and had never before read a verse of the Bible for himself became a believer. That man’s conversion was the beginning of the first significant Protestant movement on the island of Sicily.

The Word of God is powerful. The Greek word translated “powerful” in Hebrews 4:12 is energes, which is the source of our English word “energetic.” It’s translated “active” in some versions, and that’s a good translation. It speaks of something that is dynamic, operative, and effectual. The apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2:13): “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”

The Word of God always works effectually. It always accomplishes its intended purpose. In Isaiah 55:11, God says, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”

Sometimes God’s purpose is rebuke and correction; sometimes it is instruction and edification. Sometimes it is blessing; sometimes it is judgment. The gospel is “the savour of death unto death” for some; for others, it is “the savour of life unto life.” Either way, the Word of God is effectual, productive, powerful. It always produces the effect God intends.

That’s why preachers ought to preach the Word instead of telling stories and doing comedy. That’s where the power for ministry resides: in the Word. It’s not in our cleverness or our oratorical skills. The power is in the Word of God. And our task is simple: all we have to do is make the Bible’s meaning plain, proclaim it with accuracy and clarity. And the Spirit of God uses His Word to transform lives. The power is in the Word, not in any technique or program.

-Scott Bailey 2007

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Parents Acting Like Teenagers!

Posted by Scott on November 21, 2007

Dr. Mohler’s Blog

“Freak Dancing” — When Parents Advocate Misbehavior

The Wall Street Journal is out with one of the those eye-opening stories that defies common moral sense. It seems that Jason Ceyanes, the 35-year-old superintendent of schools in Argyle, Texas, decided to crack down on sexually-suggestive dancing at the local high school. But, when the superintendent banned “freak dancing,” he got into trouble with some of Argyle’s parents.

Here is how The Wall Street Journal introduced its account of the controversy:

A new resolve by school officials in this booming Dallas suburb to crack down on sexually suggestive dancing — and skimpy clothing — has sparked a rancorous debate over what boundaries should be set for teenagers’ self-expression. Argyle joins a long list of other schools around the country that have banned the hip-hop inspired dancing known as “grinding” or “freak dancing.”

But in Argyle, a once-sleepy farming community strained by explosive growth from an influx of well-to-do suburbanites, the controversy has gotten vicious. Some parents blame the newly installed school superintendent, Jason Ceyanes, 35, for ruining their children’s October homecoming dance by enforcing a strict dress code and making provocative dancing off-limits. Disgusted, a lot of kids left, and the dance ended early.

Mr. Ceyanes says he fears current cleavage-baring dress styles combined with sexually charged dancing could lead to an unsafe environment for students.

“This is not just shaking your booty,” he said. “This is pelvis-to-pelvis physical contact in the private areas…and then moving around.”

“Freak dancing” is well known throughout the nation, and it involves what can only be described as “sexually charged” physical contact and movement. But many of the kids in Argyle were “disgusted” that freak dancing was banned at the homecoming dance, so they left. That might be fairly easy to understand. After all, adolescents are expected to exhibit adolescent patterns of misbehavior. What makes this story so interesting is that so many parents responded by joining their adolescents in immature response. In fact, their protest of the superintendent’s policy is shocking.

As the paper explained, “Many parents support Mr. Ceyanes’s actions. But another vocal faction has been harshly critical of the new superintendent, creating a deep rift in the community. These parents defend the children of Argyle as ‘good kids,’ and say they should be trusted to dance and dress the way they want.”

Here is one of the moral hallmarks of our confused age. Parents defy authority and propriety and justify the misbehavior of their own children while calling them “good kids.” In this case, they argue that these “good kids” should be allowed “to dance and dress the way they want” — even if that means sexually suggestive dress and sexually charged dancing.

Mr. Ceyanes held a public meeting for parents and played a video of freak dancing. “I cannot imagine that there is a father in this room who could watch this video and be all right with a young man dancing with his daughter in that fashion,” he told the parents.

This is further evidence of a trend long in coming. Fashion styles for adult women now mimic those of adolescent girls. Why? So many moms want to act like teenagers and dress as provocatively as their offspring. Far too many parents want to act like their teenagers’ friends and peers, not like parents. Parents, after all, are expected to act like adults, and this is a society that depreciates adulthood and valorizes adolescence.

When a story like this makes the front page of The Wall Street Journal, something significant has shifted on the moral landscape. When parents demand that their “good kids” be allowed to freak dance at school events, the real story shifts from the kids to the parents.

___________________

The Wall Street Journal also features this video coverage of the story [go here].  We discussed this issue on Tuesday’s edition of The Albert Mohler Program [listen here].

-Scott Bailey 2007

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