9.30.2010

Sabbath as means of rooting out idolatry

Pastor Knecht is a highly respected member of my presbytery. Take heed.

"If the Sabbath is restored there will be a refusal to bow down to[idols of selfish pleasure and possessions] and we shall be awake to the danger of these idols. By having to separate out in our lives what is appropriate for Sabbath activity, we will recognize what a stronghold the pleasures and ways of the world have taken upon our minds and imaginations. Thus, Sabbath-keeping is God's revealer of idolatrous practices among His people.


"[Calls to put aside the law to magnify grace] generally mean that Christians are guided by circumstance and desire rather than by principle and conviction. Scripture ceases to rule.... There is no question that salvation is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, apart from obedience to the Law.... [but] How foolish it is to think of the Law as irrelevant to the believer, when the whole purpose of the gospel he loves is to put him in a frame of heart that is able to live life as God has outlined it in His holy Commandments." pg 91-92

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Open letter to pastors about Glenn Beck

This nails the problem.

The problem is not Beck's Mormonism, so much.

The problem is syncretism: mixing worship of Christ with worship of a country. This is hateful in God's eyes, and far more dangerous to conservative Christians than Mormonism is.

On the other hand -
gratitude to God and patriotism for one's country pleases Him.

Ezra 7-10

7 - Ezra the priest, descended from Aaron and skilled in the law, gets the king's support to take another group of Jews back to Jerusalem

8 - He gathers the group, finds no Levites, and sends to get some along. 18 come. He commits the gold and silver to the priests. They have no armed escort, but arrive safely

9 - Some officials tell Ezra that many have married foreign wives. Ezra publicly mourns and confesses this. God has shown mercy, but Israel has continued to sin

10 - Most of Israel agrees to put away their foreign wives. They gather in 3 days to do this, but there is heavy rain, so most people go home while the officials investigate. After 2 months it is taken care of

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Esther

1 - Ahasuerus, king of Persia, gives a feast in the 3rd year of his reign. Queen Vashti is summoned, refuses to come, and is removed as queen

2 - A search is made for a new queen. Hadassah (Esther), a Jew and cousin of Mordecai, is taken with many other women to the harem, and given beauty treatments for a year. She is chosen queen. Mordecai foils a plot to assassinate the king

3 - Haman is promoted to chief vizier. He is an Agagite (1 Samuel 15), and Mordecai won't bow to him. Haman responds by seeking the destruction of all the Jews. With a hefty bribe, the king agrees.

4 - Mordecai sends to Esther to intercede with the king; she resists, for it is death to go to the king uninvited; he presses: "who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" She agrees to go after 3 days of fasting

5 - Ahasuerus receives her; she asks for he and Haman to come to a banquet, where she asks them to a 2nd banquet; Haman plots to kill Mordecai

6 - Ahasuerus learns of Mordecai saving him - he was not rewarded. Haman comes in seeking Mordecai's death. The king makes Haman honor Mordecai

7 - At the second banquet, Esther asks for her life and her people's lives to be spared from Haman. Haman is hanged on the gallows he made for Mordecai

8 - Mordecai receives Haman's position; Esther receives his house and property. The law to destroy the Jews can't be revoked, but a new law is written that the Jews may defend themselves with lethal force against any who attack them

9 - The day comes, decided by lots or Purim, and the Jews kill over 75,000 in defense, not taking any plunder, that day and the next. Esther's special request is that Haman's 10 sons be killed and the day extended one more day. The feast of Purim established in this event

10 - Mordecai became great, helped the empire and sought the welfare and peace of the Jews

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9.29.2010

A fun Reformation song

9.28.2010

Zechariah

1 - Return to God.
1 - Jerusalem is laid waste, but God will restore and comfort her.
1 - the nations that scattered Osrael will themselves be scattered.
2 - Jerusalem will be restored, the nations plundered not the other way around
3 - God will remove Israel's sin in a day: vision of the high priest cleansed
4 - Zerubbabel will finish the temple, by God's Spirit, not by earthly power
5 - Flying scroll accuses Israel; woman in basket Israel's sin removed by exile
6 - Four chariots: God sees all the earth; Joshua the priest crowned prince
7 - Israel asks if they should fast; God: start doing justice and mercy, instead
8 - God promises to restore Zion: kids play in streets, peace between neighbors
8 - feasting instead of fasting; many peoples seek God in Zion
9 - the nations around Israel will fall; Israel's king will come and bring peace
10 - God will bring Israel back and restore strength
11 - shepherds who desert the flock condemned; the flock will be destroyed
12 - God will destroy nations that come against Jerusalem
12 - when they mourn the One they pierce a fountain of cleansing will be opened
13 - false prophecy will cease; the shepherd struck and 2/3 of the sheep scatter
13 - the rest will call on God and be saved
14 - the nations shall be punished in a cataclysmic event at Jerusalem; Israel restored to right worship and holiness

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9.27.2010

Pursue Him

If I stop pursuing Christ, I am letting our relationship deteriorate. We never grow closer to God when we just live life; it takes deliberate pursuit and attentiveness. (170)


Daniel Webster once said, 'The greatest thought that has ever entered my mind is that one day I will have to stand before a holy God and give an account of my life.' " (172)

9.26.2010

Haggai

1 - God to Israel: you have not prospered because you have meglected my temple. Rebuild it! The gov and high priest obey - this is the 2nd year of Darius.

2 - about a month after they restart, God encourages them: it may not look like much to those who remember the first temple, but the glory of this one will be greater than the first one, when God shakes the nations.

2 - you have been unclean, so I did not bless you, but mark this day, for from now on I will bless you.

2 - apersonal promise to the gov, Zerubbabel that he will be preserved through a coming shakeup of the nations.

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9.24.2010

Ezra 4-6

1 - Cyrus king of Persia decrees Jews free to rebuild their temple
1 - He finances it, and gives the temple articles back that were taken
2 - Returning exiles listed - about 50,000.
2 - Some priests' lineage couldn't be confirmed, so they couldn't serve
3 - Altar rebuilt and sacrifice begun; 2 years later, temple wall begun
3 - people rejoice, but the old weep remembering the former temple
4 - they are accused by Samaritan neighbors of rebellion to Artaxerxes, who stops the work
5 - Haggai and Zechariah call the people to resume work
5 - Accusations are made again to the new king Darius
6 -  Cyrus' decree is found and the building is allowed and funded
6 - Temple is finished and Passover celebrated

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9.22.2010

The Pastoral Touch...

... of Jonathan Edwards: Three Examples

This is a repost from Desiring God

One thing that has not received very much attention in regards to Jonathan Edwards is his pastoral gift. While his writings are extremely helpful in theological matters, they fail to tell us much about his own pastoral experience and ability.

A caricature can begin to emerge of a man with a detached personality, intellectually engaged in doctrinal theory but aloof and lacking practical know how—a poor pastor indeed. However, there are a number of stories from Edwards' life that paint a drastically different picture.

Here are three, taken mostly from George Marsden's biography. I share these stories not to boast in the ability of Edwards, but to boast in our awesome God who bestowed upon him such pastoral giftedness, for the building up of the Church.

1) Edwards' first call to the pastorate, at age 19, was to a splinter church (a recent church split) in New York. He labored to reconcile the church he was pastoring to its mother. He accomplished his aim in two years, working himself out of the pastorate.

His ability to shepherd a whole church, full of anger and hurt over a recent division, back to submission and unity with its former rival shows amazing pastoral prowess. Those of you who have been a part of a church after a split know what kind of feat was accomplished in this work.

2) James Davenport was a radical and sensational itinerant preacher during the Great Awakening who was extremely divisive. Davenport encouraged congregations to leave their pastors, led corporate fits of passion which sometimes involved the burning of theological books and clothes (one of which led to the burning of his last pair of trousers), and frequently claimed to hear the very voice of God. Davenport stirred up all of New England, and many church leaders attempted to confront him. But that only aggravated Davenport's wild and divisive ministry.

Edwards was asked to try and win Davenport, but he insisted that a delegation of pastors go with him. A year after this delegation met with Davenport, and two weeks after Edwards met with him privately, Davenport wrote a public letter expressing repentance for separatism, burning books and clothes, and wrongfully judging others. Davenport admitted that in much of his ministry he had been led by a false spirit.

When is the last time you heard of a preacher or minister like Davenport coming around to a submissive and sound disposition? Edwards didn't completely write Davenport off (like many other pastors did), but took the time and energy to invest in this wayward minister, in such a way that actually moved him to repent. This shows amazing pastoral competence and wisdom!...

9.21.2010

Preach it, brother!

Solid, Sproul-esque kind of book.
DON'T
- dilute the Gospel
- degrade preaching's worth or centrality
- get casual
- preach from your own ideas instead of the Bible, etc.

Preaching is
- worship
- God speaking

So undertake it seriously and earnestly. Pretty light on practical helps - Mohler is a better abstract, big-idea kind of guy.

This was the first book I read in entirety electronically, from freebookpreview.com

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Now reading...

"Worry implies that we don't quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take are of what's happening in our lives. Stress says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace toward others, or our tight grip of control. Basically, these two behaviors communicate that it's okay to sin and not trust God because the stuff in my life is somehow exceptional. Both worry and stress reek of arrogance." (pg 42)
"While God doesn't need us but still wants us, we desperately need God but don't really want Him most of the time" - pg 61.

Very good book, for a Southern California, mainstream mega-church kind of pastor. Attributes of God and the Gospel presented clearly in the opening chapters.

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9.20.2010

Daniel 7-12

7 - Like the dream in ch 2, 4 kingdoms are coming and during the 4th God will give His eternal kingdom and all power to the Son of Man.

8 - vision of ram and goat - Persia and Greece. A king of Greece will destroy in Israel.

9 - Daniel sees from the book of Jetemiah that Israel's exile will be for 70 years. He repents for Israel's sins and asks for Gods forgiveness. Gabriel is sent to explain (cryptically!) the coming 70 years.

10 - an angel appears to Daniel, overwhelming him. He apparently fought with Michael against opposing spirits to help Darius conquer Persia (11:1).

11 - Prophecy about Alexander the great's Greece, and his divided kingdom warring after his death. One usually understood to be Antiochus III destroys in Jerusalem and will set up an idol in the temple.

12 - deliverance and resurrection promised God's people. Seal this prophecy, for the time is not for a while

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9.16.2010

Daniel 1-6

1 - Daniel and friends are enslaved, deported, indoctrinated, renamed
1 - Daniel asks for a diet in accord with the Word; God prospers him
2 - Nebuchadnezzar has a dream. Only God can explain it, using Daniel
2 - He saw a statue of different metals struck down by a stone
2 - Lesser kingdoms will follow Babylon until God sets up His kingdom
3 - Neb. demands obeisance to an idol.
3 - Refusing, Daniel and friends are thrown in the fire, but survive.
3 - God can deliver men from kings.
4 - King Neb. recounts a dream come true, which Daniel interprets
4 - Tree cut down is Neb who loses his mind&throne. He glorifies God
5 - Belshazzar blasphemes God; handwriting appears on his wall
5 - Daniel interprets: He is judged&found wanting; kingdom removed
6 - Daniel is trapped legally and thrown to lions; Darius distraught
6 - Daniel unharmed; accusers thrown in & die; Darius glorifies God

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Old Testament Feasts - New Testament fulfillment

First, a very brief summary, from a Jamie Soles song

Sabbath, a rest, a holy rest
Passover, recall what God has done
Firstfruits, a feast of the first you’ve grown
Weeks, the harvest full has come
Trumpets, don’t work but bring your food
Atonement, afflict yourselves, no food
Booths, be in a happy mood
Keep the feast, be pleased, be good!

Here's just a bit more, to give you a hint how those feasts point ahead to Christ and our celebrations. Note that the first 4 events - crucifixion, resurrection, Pentecost - happened on the same day as the Jewish feasts.

1. Passover = sacrificial death of Lamb - cross
2. Unleavened bread - connected with Passover - clean out the yeast of sin = Jesus' unleavened (sinless) body cleanses us
3. Firstfruits = life/food from the ground - resurrection of Christ
4. Weeks = Pentecost 50 days later - giving of law celebrated. Spirit comes in Acts 2 in similar way to Sinai - earthquake, sound, etc
5. Trumpets = happy feast marking time, new year = return of Christ (with trumpets)
6. Atonement - day of affliction for remaining sin - judgment = throne of judgment
7. Booths/tabernacles/sukkot = to remember wilderness wandering and freedom from bondage = life in new earth free from sin

9.15.2010

Joel

1 - a nation has come up against Israel; Israel's harvest has failed
2 - this nation is strong; but if you repent, God will relent
2 - He will restore the harvest and pour His Spirit on Israel
3 - God will punish the nations, but preserve and prosper Israel

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9.13.2010

Ezekiel 38-48

38 - A gathering of nations - Gog - press against Israel, but He will rain disease and blood down on them.

39 - God will make God fall, and Israel will have a full time job burying them for years. He will call the birds to eat their full of them, at His sacrificial meal. Note how much like Revelation 19:17-18 this is. When God restores Israel, the nations will understand that the exile was for their sin. This will come clear when He pours His Spirit on Israel.

40 - Ezekiel is given a vision of the restored city and temple
40 - Gates, inner and outer courts, and chambers measured
41 - holy place, holy of holies, side chambers and temple area
Beautiful design of carved palm trees and angels described
42 - chambers for priests to store clothing and sacrificial food
Outer wall and dimensions of the temple measured
43 - God's glory returns to the temple; altar set up; sacrifice begun
44 - East gate closed, since God came through; prince may eat in it
44 - priestly regulations reiterated; Zadokites brought near for being faithful when Israel and other Levites committed idolatry.
45 -property around the temple for the prince and city
45 – prince to provide for temple sacrifices
46 – offerings & entry/exit from worship detailed, for prince & people

47 - a river will flow from the temple, growing stronger and deeper, to water the earth; boundary of the land

48 - division of land among tribes; city gates; God is there

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What may we do on the Sabbath?

Ask Doug: Sabbath Keeping from Canon Wired on Vimeo.

9.12.2010

Ezekiel 35-37

35 - Edom rejoiced at Israell's destruction, so she too will fall.
36 - The nations reproached Israel, so they will be reproached.
36 - Israel's exile profaned God's name as the nations were disgusted by what happened to them. Israel's restoration and cleansing would magnify His name.
37 - God promises to restore Israel, like dry bones given new flesh.
37 - God will make a unified and pure Israel, and will receive her as His people.

Read this!


Excellent illustrations and adaptation and abridgment of Pilgrim's Progress for younger readers. Highly recommended!

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Victory in Jesus

A fairly convincing treatment of Matthew 24, and Revelation 20, with an eye to asserting the post-millennial view. He is 95% convincing of the preterist part of this, especially that Jesus was referring to Jerusalem's fall in 70AD in Matthew 24, up until verse 35. He is less convincing regarding Revelation 20 and post-millennialism in general. While many of the arguments are good (first resurrection in Rev 20 is one's regeneration; Satan bound at Christ's first coming) they do not make a conclusive case for post-millennialism.

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9.09.2010

Dizzying Apologetics

A dizzying blend of apologetics, Ecclesiastes, history of philosophy, and meditations on bugs, Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl takes the reader on a verbal skylark through the universe. Putting the question, "What kind of world is this that we live in?" Wilson answers: it is a poem, a piece of art spoken by God which shows us Himself. Look closely. Laugh at the absurd and unbelieving elements. Laugh at your own smallness, but know that you will live forever. Soak in the poem, and the Poet.

Wilson is definitely against some things, like Nietzsche, and sentimentalized fuzzy kittens on posters. He explains why, in his own quirky way. Here's a sample:

"A tabby kitten lies on its back, looking at me out of upside-down eyes. This kitten has a message: 'God hears even the smallest voice.' I could purchase this glossy 13.5" x 19" poster and hang it by my desk, right next to the Marine Disasters of Cape Cod."

"This God invented leeches and mosquitoes and bedbugs that bite. Did He not? Then who did? What are they made of? Is God trying to rid the world of such cooties but hasn't been a quick enough study at the art of pest control? Why do these things no fit on our postcards? Why do we omit them in the abridged extra-holy version of reality for families? They are here. They are words. What do they tell us? What is their role in the story?"

This is Nate's way of introducing the problem of evil. Check it out here. Apologetics that's quirky and interesting.

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Ezekiel 29-34

29 - Egypt thinks she made the Nile, so I give her to Babylon for plunder. Egypt will be desolate 40 years, and never become great again.

30 -
God will make Egypt and her allies fall by Babylon's arm.

31 - Egypt was a tall beautiful tree in God's garden, but will be cut down for exalting itself.

32 - Egypt has fallen and lies with other nations taken by Babylon.

33 - Ezekiel must give Israel God's message or be guilty of their demise.
God's judgment is fair, allowing for repentance.
Word of Jerusalem's fall arrives. Survivors still expect to possess the land, and God says they will not, for their sins. The exiles listen to you, but don't do what I tell them through you.

34 - the flock has scattered because the shepherds fed themselves. God will take the sheep from them, come Himself to seek and save the sheep, judge between them, and restore them.

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9.07.2010

Ezekiel 21-28

21 - God is about to draw His sword and cut off Israel, for their sin. They will be desolate until He gives judgment to His anointed. Ammon will die and be forgotten.

22 - Israel's lewdness, dishonesty, and unjust shedding of innocent blood condemned. Israel is all dross, uncleansed, and will burn.
23 - Samaria was punished for her (spiritual) adulteries, and Judah will also be put to shame for her own.

24 - Note this day: Babylon besieged Jerusalem: she will burn for her sin
24 - Ezekiel's wife dies; he is commanded not to mourn, as Israel will not have opportunity to mourn when the temple is destroyed. [Note the temple is like the bride, as the Church is the bride of Christ!]

25 - Because the nations around Judah has reviled her and longed for her demise, God will strike them down, too. Ammon, Moab, Edom and Philistia

26-28 - Tyre is condemned for her defiled though prosperous trade, and her pride - making herself to be divine in her privileged position (shades of Lucifer, here).

28 - Sidon also shall fall by disease and sword; Israel will be restored without thorns and will live in safety

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Restoring Honor

Russell Moore has a fine article on the Glen Beck rally, with this paragraph being a keeper:

"Too often, and for too long, American "Christianity" has been a political agenda in search of a gospel useful enough to accommodate it. There is a liberation theology of the Left, and there is also a liberation theology of the Right, and both are at heart mammon worship. The liberation theology of the Left often wants a Barabbas, to fight off the oppressors as though our ultimate problem were the reign of Rome and not the reign of death. The liberation theology of the Right wants a golden calf, to represent religion and to remind us of all the economic security we had in Egypt. Both want a Caesar or a Pharaoh, not a Messiah."


Doug Wilson also writes helpfully on Beck, here

9.02.2010

Ezekiel 13-20

13-prophets who give false visions&encourage superstition condemned
14 - hypocrisy of cherishing idols while seeking Ezekiel's prophecy
14 - not even the most righteous intercessors could deliver Jerusalem
15 - Jerusalem is like the wood of a vine, useless except for burning

16 - God rescued the throw away baby girl Israel, and married her when she grew up. But she paid other nations to come commit adultery with her. God will punish her, but then restore her to Him with an everlasting covenant that atones for her sins.

17 - Israel was like a fruitful tree but will be cut down for casting off God's correction by going to Egypt for help against Assyria.

18 - Each person is responsible for his own faithfulness to God. God is just, doesn't want us to die, and calls us to repent.

19 - Israel raised up some fine rulers, but they have been carried off to Egypt and Babylon.

20 - Israel asks for God's Word. They rebelled before, during and after the exodus, and He had mercy. But they continue, so He will give them no word. If you want to worship idols, go ahead, but I'll remove you from Zion, where Israel will worship me. You will remember and loathe yourself for your sins.

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