Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Prodigal Father

Who’s the Prodigal Now? Luke 15:20, 22-24
Luke 15:20 `... and he being yet far distant, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and having ran he fell upon his neck and kissed him; ...22 `And the father said unto his servants, [Quickly] Bring forth the first robe, and clothe him, and give a ring for his hand, and sandals for the feet; 23 and having brought the fatted calf, kill it, and having eaten, we may be merry, 24 because this my son was dead, and did live again, and he was lost, and was found; and they began to be merry.' ESV

Where had the son just come from? From the Pig Sty. One of the smelliest places you can imagine. Worse than a sheep pen the day after it rains. (All that wet wool-yuck.) But pigs are worse.
Ever heard the expression: “Stinks to High Heaven”? He probably did. Not to mention he had walked from a far country in that condition. Would YOU kiss him?

Then The Father ran. “Throwing off oriental custom”(Robert H. Stein), this behavior is ‘beneath’ a man of his status and shameful. (see John MacArthur) Why does he do it?
Why did God send his only begotten son? Jn 3:16 L_____
Why did Jesus endure the cross despising the shame? Heb 12:2 J____
Why does the shepherd leave the 99 for one? Lu 15:2,4,8 Eagerness to save.

Remember What PRODIGAL means?  Extravagant! The son threw away money and wasted his life extravagantly.
But Now the Father behaves Extravagantly! Extravagant Grace!
2Co 4:15 all things are for your sake, so that the superabounding grace might be made to abound (MKJV) or, as the Geneva Bible put it...that most plenteous grace.
Rom 5:17 For if by one man's offense death reigned by one, much more they who receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by One, Jesus Christ.) & v.20; 2 Cor 9:8, 14
Eph 1:7 we have redemption...according to the riches of His grace, & 2:7
1Ti 1:14 And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant,
Jas 4:6 But He gives more grace. 1 Pe 1:2 Grace be multiplied... &4:10
God always has MORE GRACE! Isn't that an amazing and wonderful truth? The riches of His grace are unfathomable. 

"Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace.
Freely bestowed on all who believe! 
You that are longing to see His face, 
Will you this moment His grace receive?

22 But the father said to his servants, 'Bring quickly...”
HERE is the urgency, do this without delay! God is not slow to save!

The Robe: The Best, of First Rank, for official wear or formal occasions.
-Not his old one he left behind (it’s gone),  
not the stinking rags he had on,  that would never do.
not a servant’s robe, nor his other son’s. 
The Father’s Best Robe, His #1 Tux!
Isa 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in Jehovah ... for He has clothed me with the robes of salvation, He covered me with the robe of righteousness like a bridegroom ... and like a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
Rev 7:9 After these things I looked, and lo, a great multitude, stood before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes...
What other is the greatest sign of the Father's owning, and blessing, and provision but that whic symbolizes His purity, holiness, righteousness, and salvation

The Ring: symbol of the Father for his hand (hand=authority and power)
The learned Jews of the day were aware that just a century before Christ came another ruler, Antiochus made provision for his successors in 1 Maccabee 6:14 "Then called he for Philip, ...who he made ruler over all his realm, 15 And gave him the crown, and his robe, and his signet, ..."
The ring signified the authority of sonship. This is ‘positional’ sonship.

The Sandals: The prosperity and “Place” of sonship. This is "Personal" sonship. He didn’t say, “here’s the signet ring, go get your own shoes." God provided from His Extravagant Grace all that pertains to our sonship!

But Wait, that's not all!

The Fatted Calf! Uh-oh, I see a problem brewing here. This was ‘in effect’ the Older son’s calf, and sandals, and robe, and ring! The Father is practicing a type of “Usufruct.” Which usually means enjoying the use and 'fruits' of another man's property. Like when you raise crops on rented land, the land isn't yours but you benefit from it.
In a more ancient version, it’s His son’s property at his death, but until then he can do as he pleases. This doesn't diminish the grace the Father has for his older son. The cattle will have more calves, his income will purchase more robes and sandals and rings.
It's the Fathers to do with "as He pleases." This is the heart of God's Providential sovereign grace. 

Now notice, Jesus never gets to the need for atonement directly in this parable. That is not his point. He is talking to the common people-who are hanging on his teachings, and the Scribes and Pharisees-who are trying to find fault with his teaching. And he is telling the latter group that God welcomes sinners without their attempts at earning forgiveness. God is eagerly, joyfilly, lovingly, welcoming home an extremely offensive son without so much as demanding an apology. The Father didn't even let the son finish his speech!

But even though no mention of atonement is made, a calf still gets killed and blood is still shed - for merrymaking. There is joy in heaven over ONE sinner who repents!

Let’s Celebrate! He was dead- as good as dead, assumed dead- but in our case-we Were Dead! Eph 2:1 He made you alive, who were dead...& 2:5; also Rom 6:13, 7:11, Col 2:13, 1 Pe 4:6.     

Why is the recognition of our deadness without Christ important. One to signify that our salvation is ALL OF GRACE! and second, to remind us of the words of Christ: Joh 15:5 ...He who abides in Me ... brings forth much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

(For further study let me recommend John MacArthur's A Tale of Two Sons. And thanks to the folks at extragrace.blogspot for loaning me ;-) the logo, oh and Rembrandt and Guercino.)

Friday, December 17, 2010

What are the troubling headlines in your world?

What are the troubling headlines in your world?

Is it the Incredibly growing deficit? For the last 50 years the USA has been going deeper and deeper in debt with no end in sight.
Maybe its the incredibly shrinking job market.
Maybe its the ongoing misery in Haiti, the earthquake, then rampant Hepatitis, now a cholera pandemic.
Maybe it's the growing violence against Christians around the world. There are radical Muslims out there killing Believers almost everyday.

Well here's one that hit me between the eyes:

Most Evangelicals Believe Good People are Heaven-Bound 

WHAT? Most Evangelicals? Doesn't the idea that some one is "Evangelical" mean that the church needs to be evangelistic? Obviously not. (See full article below.)
I know, this is not new. Evangelicals have been populating the World Council of Churches for decades. I just forget sometimes that Evangelical doesn't mean Evangelistic. THe WCC is all about tolerance. I guess like the American Cancer Society is. NOT!
Ever heard anyone from the American Cancer Society say, "Go ahead and smoke cigarettes, its OK, why can't we all just get along?" No, that's not what they say. They don't endorse suntanning, carcinogens in the diet and other cancer-friendly activities either.
Does that make them Intolerant? I don't think so.

Brothers and Sisters, we can be Evangelical in many things but let's not be Evangelical in our approach to the gospel. Let's be Evangelistic! Good News Centered! Sharing our Faith in Christ by and through both actions and words. Sometimes actions need to precede the words. Sometimes the words of the gospel are all there is time for.

But let us not forget, that there is a message to the Gospel.

There is a message that must be delivered.

Giving away school supplies, helping with rent, watching children for 5 mornings in the summer time to give moms and grandmothers a few mornings off, are not going to Lead Anyone To Christ.
They may help! They may helps us build relationships. They may help us open someone's mind to the possibility of a relationship with Christ.
But the Message is the Thing!

SO, here goes a "Different" kind of Christmas blog:

1. There is no salvation without the power of God working in someone's life.
Pleadings are fine, encouraging someone to believe is great. But God Alone provides the power, that none of us had on our own, to repent and believe. A person doesn't just wake up one day and out of the blue decide to be a Christian.
Rom 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes,
Act 5:31  This One God has exalted to be a Ruler and Savior to His right hand in order to give repentance and remission of sins to Israel.
Act 11:18  When they heard these things, they were silent and glorified God, saying, Then God has also granted repentance to life
2Ti 2:25  in meekness instructing those who oppose, if perhaps God will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth,
Isn't it something incredible that God not only gives people the "Faith" to believe but also the ability to repent. I didn't understand for a long time why it said that Esau looked for a place to repent and couldn't. God didn't give it to him, for one thing. He was only sorry about the outcome of his decisions not for what he had done.
(Heb 12:16  (lest there be any fornicator, or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. 17  For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected; for he did not find any place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears). )
2. Unless we all repent and Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ there is no salvation. None. Zip. Nada. Sorry.
Luke 13:3  I tell you, No. But unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
Joh 1:12  But as many as received Him, He gave to them authority to become the children of God, to those who believe on His name,
Joh 3:36  He who believes on the Son has everlasting life, and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides upon him.

3. God does not OWE salvation to anyone. Not even sweet old Aunt Susan who's an atheist (or Buddhist or Mormon...)  but nicer than any Christian you know.
Eph 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us 5 (even when we were dead in sins) has made us alive together with Christ (by grace you are saved),
6 and has raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus,
7 so that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
8 For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.

God saves people because He Loves, not because there is any good in any of us.
God saves to demonstrate the greatness of His grace. He gets to display it however He wants.
If God gives Faith to people when they hear the gospel it is so that they might believe. (Rom 10:17  Then faith is of hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.)
Dear Old Aunt Susan has to repent and believe. And somebody needs to tell her!

Some think the way I look at the gospel is cold and harsh. (Poor aunt Susie.)
But I am amazed by the grace of God, that sent Jesus to die in my place, or in ANYONE's place.
   I am amazed by love that lifted me from out of the miry pit.
      I am undone by Holiness, that reveals all the filth that inhabits my very best efforts.
         I am beyond my capacity to understand how the blood of Christ can cleanse me of all that uncleanness.
And yet He does. And that is Good News!
And without Christ, there is No Good News.
Christmas is one of the best times of the year to renew your commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and your desire to share the gospel with others.
Have a Very Blessed Christmas!

Love you all, Clark

Here's that article I mentioned...

Author: Most Evangelicals Believe Good People are Heaven-Bound 

By Stephanie Samuel|Christian Post Reporter

Campbell, who co-wrote American Grace, How Religion Divides and Unites Us, contends that surveys of 3,000 Americans, used to write the book, show that American people of faith, though devout, are very tolerant. So much so that most believers also believe that good people, despite their religious affiliation, can go to heaven.

Among the faiths, 83 percent of evangelical Protestants agreed that good people of other religions can go to heaven. Ninety percent of black Protestants also believe good people can go to heaven.
When prodded further, more than half – 54 percent – of evangelical Protestants said yes, people of religions other than Christianity can go to heaven. Sixty-two percent of black Protestants agreed with the statement.
Notably, the author mentioned that there may be some in the evangelical category that don't belong.
Campbell, an expert of religion, politics and public policy, explained at a Thursday discussion of his book that the numbers can be explained with the “Aunt Susan” theory. Aunt Susan, he said, is the nice friend of a family member who is well-loved and is an all around do-gooder.
“You know that if anyone is destined to go to heaven, it’s Aunt Susan,” described Campbell.
However, Aunt Susan is of another religion. Rather than condemn that person to a lost eternity, Campbell said, most American believers choose instead to believe that that person is heaven-bound.
He also shared that knowing an Aunt Susan opens believers up to other faiths.
“You become warmer not only to people of that group, but to people of other groups,” Campbell contended.
Simply put, interlocking social networks allows believers to accept tenants of other faiths.
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, works with leaders of many faiths on issues such as stopping pornography, abortion and religious persecution.
“That doesn’t mean that I’m going to abandon the New Testament teaching,” he stated.
Those who do so to accommodate other beliefs “aren’t very good evangelicals,” in his view.
Land lamented that more evangelicals are being taught the doctrine of universalism. “It’s emphasized from the pulpit; it’s emphasized in the seminaries,” he decried.
Universalism is the theological doctrine that all people will eventually be saved despite a relationship with Christ.
He said this is especially true of youths because the messages from the pulpit have changed.
“I think the doctrine ‘In Christ alone’ … was emphasized more 25 years ago than it is today so young [people] are hearing about it less,” he revealed.
While Land said it is possible for Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans and even Catholics to follow the tenants of their faiths and have salvation in Jesus Christ, he stated that the same is not true for Buddhists, Muslims and Mormons.
“It is impossible to believe what Mormons believe and be a Christian. It is impossible to believe what Muslims believe and be a Christian,” he said.
Likewise, he acknowledged that there may be unsaved believers among Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans and Catholics. Salvation, the biblical requirement for heaven, is an individual and personal choice, he told The Christian Post.
Land said he quotes the Bible’s New Testament which states that there is one mediator between God and men and that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life to all those who ask about heaven. If missionary work and evangelism is to continue on into the future, other Protestants must do the same, he asserted.
“If the price of respecting your faith is to deny mine, then that price is too high,” declared Land.
Campbell’s discussion was held at the Pew Forum in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Today's Guest Blogger, my Friend and Brother in Christ  John Ketchersid
Day 12 of the 30 Day Spiritual Adventure

I hope your daily time of reading, meditation, and prayer is going well. Today the devotional focuses on the simple man who was chosen to be the earthly father of Jesus Christ: Joseph.  He was a common man called to lead an uncommon life.

I think that is one of the great messages of Christmas: the Lord uses the ordinary to accomplish His extraordinary mission.

1 Corinthians 1:27 God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him.

Our Sun is called a Yellow Dwarf Star.  Let that sink in for a minute: a dwarf star.  Not exactly a description that engenders pride and confidence.  But it’s the center of our universe…well, our solar system…which is a tiny part of the Milky Way Galaxy…which is one of hundreds of billions of galaxies in the whole universe.  Small. Insignificant. Common.

Joseph is kind of a dwarf star.  He’s one in a long line of ordinary people that the Lord has used in His mission of extraordinary salvation.  And you know what?  We are next in line!  In our world that focuses on the big, powerful, and amazing, God chooses to use the insignificant folks like you and me!

on Tuesday, December 7, 2010

(Clark-I like this, Marney and I were just talking about insignificant we can feel when we consider all that God has made. And my friend David Ragsdale just put on his FB:
Believes it is better to be .....
A man of the great GOD
than to be A Great man of God.) 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The History of Advent

History of Advent
            It cannot be determined with any degree of certainty when the celebration of Advent was first introduced into the Church. The preparation for the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord was not held before the feast itself existed. Advent comes from the Latin "Veni" which translates the Greek word parousia - the "coming" of Christ.
            One of the earliest references to Christmas being celebrated on December 25 appeared in Antioch in the middle of the second century (100s). At that time, Christians were still persecuted. An official determination was made in the fourth century (300s), when the Roman emperor Constantine embraced Christianity, thereby ensuring the legality of Christmas celebrations. The Council of Tours in 567 established the period of Advent as a time of fasting before Christmas. They also proclaimed the twelve days from Christmas to Epiphany a sacred, festive season.
            The time before Christmas hasn't always been a celebration. Advent was once a solemn preparation but not for Christmas. It was a season preparing for Epiphany, January 6—which commemorates the adoration of Jesus by the Magi. Some claim Peter started Advent, but the exact starting even though it’s been lost to history, was probably after Peter’s death.
            Whenever it started, Advent originally was a time of fasting and self-reflection - instead of Christmas parties ord "thinking of others for a change." In the 300s, two events changed all that: Emperor Constantine built in Bethlehem, the Church of the Nativity, also declaring Jesus' birthday a holiday; also the Bishop of Rome, Julius, set the date as December 25. Christmas took on a happier atmosphere and became a time of joyous anticipation for the “Next” coming of Christ and commemorating the first one.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Preaching the Gospel in Public School

This morning was GREAT! I was invited to NorthRidge Middle school for Career Day. I wish they'd had Career Days when I was in School, I was pretty clueless about what the real world was about till just a few years ago. Now I'm slightly less clueless.

Mrs Eva invited me to come and this was my 2nd time.
Now since I am there to talk about my "career" choice and, very importantly, "Staying In School," I don't treat this as a chance to preach an evangelistic sermon. But I do try to inject what I can. I talked about the importance of a Pastor maintaining hsi relationship with Jesus Christ and things along that line. I had 3 groups of 20 to 25 kids in each group, and in the last group, a soft spoken young lady raised her hand during Q&A time and asked this; "What can I do to guarantee that I can go to be with Jesus when He comes back?"
Right there in a public school! In front of 25 kids who seem to be fairly engaged in the moment!

What would you say? You know that any minute now the bell is going to ring and an announcement will interrupt what you are saying, so you want to answer this question thoroughly and briefly.

What would you say? These kids are bright, they don't need sugar-coated religiosity.

What would you say? I'll stop asking that now, so you can stop and think about it.
Are you ready for MY answer?

I think there are several important points I needed to make.
1. There really was a Jesus and He really rose from the dead. It's a historical fact. Every bit as true as there was a George Washington. There was a Jesus and there was a resurrection.
2. The reason Jesus came and died on the cross was because we have all sinned against God. And God is so HOly and Awesome He doesn't tolerate sin at all. In fact He hates it, He won't put up with it.
3. But He loves us. He made us and loves us and since somebody had to pay for our sins, God sent his only son to come to earth and pay the price for your sin and for my sin. He paid by dying a horrible death.
We couldn't pay for our sin, we were too much sinners, Jesus was perfect.
4. So what do we need to do to guarantee that we will be with Him forever?
We need to Turn and Trust.
Turn from our sins and our selfish way of living and turn to Jesus. Then Trust Jesus, that since he paid the price for our sins, and since he rose from the dead and is still alive today, he will forgive us of our sins when we ask him too, and he will take our sins away from us, as far as the east is from the west. And that's pretty far.

Then I said, now sometimes people need help knowing how to do this, and if you have a youth minister or a pastor you can talk to or simply another strong believer, you can ask them and they'll help you. Or you can ask me. (I had handed out my church name and contact info just in case they ever need me.)

Did I include the essentials in that brief amount of time that I had? Did I miss anything?
Sure there is much you can say if you have the time and you have a dialogue going. But for two minutes I tried to hit a home run.

Now every home run needs a great pitch. I think that young lady asked me that question Solely so that I could tell her friends how to be saved and what it means to become a Christian. I could be wrong, but I think I'm right.

That's one reason its good to have a Christian friend with you when you have an opportunity to talk to someone about their faith. Having a friend ask a question like this young lady did is a great way to go. It might be the kind of question a non-believer might ask if they knew how to phrase it. They can ask other questions of you like, "What do you mean by Repent?" Or "how would you give your life to Jesus?"

I hope you'll say a prayer for the kids that heard the gospel today. It's not everyday you get to share Christ and the message of Salvation in a public school. And when I think of what a wicked little brat I was at their age, I know I needed the gospel badly! And I thank God for loving me that much in spite of myself!
I saw a Tweet this week that said:
Good News, you're worse than you think you are, but
Good News, God's grace is greater than you can imagine.

I Love you all, God bless,  Clark

Saturday, November 13, 2010

In Everything Give Thanks

My Speech and Homiletics teacher in College (Don Loose) used to tell us, “don’t ever get up in the pulpit and “share”, just Preach the word.” So what I’m about to do today is a little scary for me. It’s a little scary because I’m going to be a little more forth coming than I am comfortable with. I don’t intend to write anything shocking, just more revealing than I like to be.

1Th 5:16  Rejoice always,
1Th 5:17  pray without ceasing,
1Th 5:18  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Ever wondered what God’s will is for your life? It’s right here. This is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Ha ha, very funny, right? No seriously, if you are doing these things you’ll be in the will of God. If you rejoice evermore, you’ll have the right attitude to follow God’s will.
You think Paul was good at following God’s will? 

Listen to his testimony in 2 Cor 6:8 We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything. Paul rejoiced in jail, in prison, in sickness, and with a thorn in his flesh.

One way to Rejoice without ceasing is to Pray Evermore – or continually.
When I was a teenager a book became very popular. The funny thing was the book was 300 years old! It was written by a Bro. Lawrence and called the Practice of the Presence of God. In it Bro. Lawrence, who lived and worked in a monastery, shared about his life and his learning and how to continually live in and enjoy God’s presence. Some people think they have to bow their heads and close their eyes when they pray. First time I saw someone lift their heads and pray with their eyes open I was surprised; “Can you do that? Is it allowed?” But this is a life that leads to joy. Yes even in suffering and sorrow.
And when you learn to rejoice evermore and pray continually, THEN you can begin to give thanks in everything. The importance to giving thanks is all over the Bible. Especially in Romans 1 you see how when we cease to give thanks to God we take the first step to idolatry and rebellion.*
But Give Thanks IN EVERYTHING?
Now I know you’ve heard sermons on this before. I know this isn’t new. And you may have heard different explanations of How you can Thank God in everything. Some say you don’t thank God “FOR” everything, but IN every circumstance. Well, OK whatever.
A Dangerous Road
I’m going to take the dangerous route. Ever want to take the safe route to get someplace? Well if you have other people in your car the safe route is probably wise. But in your own mind and heart the safe route Rarely has any reward! You want adventure? Excitement? Don’t take the safe route! You wanna see wild animals up close and walk through tornadoes? Take the dangerous route! The wildest thing you see on the safe route is roadkill!
Here’s my dangerous route today. I wanna thank God For EveryThing! Everything!
So, I want you to find a pen and paper. I don’t want you to write down anything I say. I want you to write down things YOU are thankful for AND things that you have a very hard time being Thankful for. Go ahead admit it. Tell God, "I don’t know how to thank you for this help me."
Ready? Here goes. I’ll start with the obvious.
I thank God for God! I am so glad that God loved me enough to send His Son the Lord Jesus Christ to Secure my salvation on the cross! I’m glad Jesus loved His Father and me enough to do that. I’m glad the Holy Spirit shines the spotlight on my sin that needs to be confessed and forgiven. And I’m glad he comforts me in distress and gives me gladness when I’m stressed. Thank you God Almighty for loving me!

Another easy one? I thank God for my wife Marney. I sometimes think she rescued me from a life lived at the impulse of my Attention Deficit Disorder. She brought order and love and baby girls into my life. And I am eternally grateful.
Donna, Marney, Clark, Ruth, Paul where's John?
Dad-Paul O Dunlap
Mom-Eunice McCord Dunlap
And yes I thank God for my three girls and for my siblings and my mom and dad. I could tell you stories! But I’ll spare you most of them. My dad modeled rock solid faithfulness. My mom, heartfelt devotion to Jesus. My brothers and sister modeled how to wrestle with life and with God and come out still trusting and loving him on the other side. My three girls taught me so much about myself that they made me a better version of myself. And I love them all dearly!
How about a hard one. I thank God I am deaf in one ear. It ended my music studies in college, but led me to a strong Christian young man named Dewey, who took me under his arm and loved me and challenged me back to health and to learn to walk with God. And that led me to follow God’s call to ministry in my life which is where I needed to be. It’s not fun being so deaf as many of you also know. And it caused me to worry about going completely deaf. But I learned to thank God for it.
Dr. Dewey

HOW ABOUT YOU? Anything go wrong in your life for which you are now thankful? Write it down!
Lets Go back to an easy one. I am thankful to live in such a great country. It is the absolutely greatest country ever in the history of the world! Our constitution and bill of rights are the greatest man-made documents ever written. I know there are many great things about other places in the world and I love to visit them. But for the best collection of freedoms and creativity and God-fearing people all in one place? The USA is greatness.
But now I have to go back to a hard one.
Let me preface this by saying that Tuesday night I saw something on Channel 5 news that blessed me. They did a
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short piece on pastor Matt Chandler of the Village Church in Highland Village Texas. Matt is a Baptist pastor of a church of 6000. He’s a Hardin Simmons graduate who God has used in mighty ways. And since last Thanksgiving day he has been battling brain cancer. He has been written up in USA Today, NY Times, several Christian magazines and now on the local news. I can truly say, Thank God for Matt’s cancer because it has given him a great platform for the gospel of Jesus Christ! And because his story has helped me learn to say, …Thank God for Cyndi Steven’s cancer. Cyndi is our Church secretary, Jack's wife, mother of Caleb and Dustin, friend of many, helper of anyone, and probably one of the sweetest ladies I know. Even in the midst of chemo and radiation she often cares more for others than herself.
It is REALLY hard to say, "Thank God for Cyndi's Cancer!" I hate her cancer every bit as much as I hated it when Marney had cancer. And I don’t have a lot of reasons to thank God for it but here goes.
I thank God for it because I have seen the heart of Job in Cyndi. Job said, “Though he slay me, yet will I serve him.” That is how strong Cyndi is-by the grace of God. She is Semper Fidelis - always faithful!
 I thank God for Cyndi’s cancer because I have seen in her the sweetness of one who is trusting in Jesus for every day of her existence; joyfully, sweetly, and with great patience.
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I Thank God for Cyndi’s cancer because even though I don’t know what the Providential Hand of God is doing or why He is doing it, I know, when I look in Cyndi’s eyes that she trusts Him no matter what - and so can I!
I don’t know what God is doing. I don’t understand it. And He knows I don’t like it- I cannot hide that from Him. But I know I can trust in Him no matter what.
Are you trusting in God no matter what today? 
Is there a mountain in your life that you cannot see around? God can. 
Is there a pain that God doesn’t already know? 
Is there a sin he cannot forgive? 
Is there a life he cannot reach? NO. Trust him today. Trust Him forever. 
Turn your back on your sins and on your way of doing things and trust in Him today. And be thankful. Thank Him that you can trust His Providence. Trust Him when you receive good things from His hand and things you think are bad; just-trust-Jesus.

Oh ...Here's John

*Rom 1:21  For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22  Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23  and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24  Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25  because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thankful For No Term Limit

Here's a good Christian view of the electoral process in America, from my friend Terry Austin.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Adoniram Judson Expected Great Things From God

Isa 54:2  "Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes.
Isa 54:3  For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your offspring will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities.
1792 was a year for new beginnings. The Republic of France was established and the guillotine was first used. George Washington was still serving as first president of the USA. The US Postal service and US Mint were started. And Washington used the presidential veto for the first time. But there was another beginning most didn’t notice, which has changed history. The Founding of the Baptist Missionary Society in Kettering England. Actually its name was the “Particular Baptist Society for the Propagation of the Gospel Among the Heathen.” And it was largely started because of the insistence of one man; William Carey, the Father of Modern Missions. He preached a key sermon at a Ministers meeting that year with only two points. #1: Attempt great things for God. #2, Expect great things from God. It came from the Isaiah passage above. And before the year was out, William Carey was on his way to India as the first modern missionary to be sent by a mission organization, to an unreached country.
     Meanwhile, over in America, there’s a little 4 y.o. boy who would come to play a role in William Carey’s life. That little boy was Adoniram Judson. He grew up in Massachusetts, graduated from Brown U. in Rhode Island, at the top of his class at 19 years old.
But no story is worth telling unless the hero of the story overcomes great odds and that’s the story of Adoniram Judson. In fact, you could say his life reflected the two point sermon of William Carey. He attempted great things and he expected great things from God.

Even though he was raised in the home of a congregational minister, he turned from his Christian faith during his college years, largely influenced by a friend who was not a Christian and who turned his interests to the French Humanist philosophers. But in 1808 his friend died a horrible death from an illness and it shook Adoniram badly. He returned to Christ and was saved. He was enrolled in Andover Seminary and in his last year there he committed himself to foreign missions. Now that sounds nice but understand this, there were no foreign mission agencies in the USA. He was attempting to do something that he had no idea how to do or how it would get done.

Together with 3 friends from Andover, the year he graduated, 1810, he persuaded the leaders of the Congregational Denomination to start a Foreign Mission board. Can you imagine that? Four 22 y.o. boys got the denomination to start something that no one else was doing anywhere in the US.
However, they knew that similar things were going on in England, so January of 1811 they sent Adoniram to England to visit the London Missionary Society, establish contact with them and learn from them.  However his ship was captured by pirates. A pirate/privateer name L’invincible Napoleon captured them, took them to Spain, held them captive in Spain and France then in late February let them go. So young Adoniram finds himself adrift in France. Makes his way to Paris after a month or so, and three months later finally gets to London. He made his visits there and managed to come back to New York in late August.
So having turned from worldly philosophy, having challenged a whole denomination and having survived capture by a French Privateer, he encountered his greatest challenge so far when he met Ann Hasseltine….and fell in love. This ladylike, dainty, frilly, New England society girl becomes a tough, gritty, soldier for Christ and helps Adoniram become the success he was.

In 1812 aAdoniram and Ann set out with two other men who were appointed as missionaries, and one particular friend named Luther Rice. But another little obstacle lay ahead and Adoniram began preparing for it. You see, they were Congregationalists. That is basically a Presbyterian who practices congregational church polity. But they were going to India and then to Burma, to work with the great William Carey of England, who was a Baptist. Baptists believe in Believer’s baptism by immersion. Congregationalists baptize babies by sprinkling. Hmmm. How are they going to resolve this?
Adoniram begins an intensive study of his Greek new testament so that when he gets to Calcutta he can defend his views to Carey and continue to serve as a Congregational missionary.
But there’s a problem, the more he studies, the more he realizes the Baptists are right in their interpretation. Ann didn’t like this. She told him, if you convert to being a Baptist I’m not going to. But before they arrived Adoniram had so proven his new belief that not only did Ann agree with him, so did Luther Rice. And they were all baptized again when they reached the mission field, William Carey's co-worker, William Ward.

But that brought about a New Problem! Being Men of integrity, they believed that they must resign their commissions from the Congregationalists because of their new beliefs and having become Baptists. So Luther Rice, whose health had taken a turn downward, returned home to inform the Society and to find new mission support among the Baptists of America.

Fortunately Rice was really good at this and never returned to the mission field, but became a mission force to be reckoned with the rest of his life. By the end of 1813 he had helped organize 17 local mission societies and in 1814 the first meeting of a general convention of Baptists for world missions. In fact, Rice foresaw a day when there would be a great denomination of Baptists that would join together primarily for the sake of Missions. It didn’t happen in his life, but it did happen.

Back in India, a New Problem. The East India Company didn’t want these Americans here preaching to the heathens and made them leave. So Adoniram and Ann head for Burma. On the way Ann miscarries and loses their first child. The Buddhists of Burma seemed even harder to reach than the Hindu of India but the couple was dauntless. They began to learn Burmese, studying 12 hours a day. He finally began to preach and at his first meeting 15 men came. Their curiosity satisfied they didn’t come back but one man, in 1819 gave his life over to Christ, 7 years after arriving in Burma.
In the meantime he had translated the gospel of Matthew in to Burmese and they had lost another child. A  7 month old son, Roger William Judson. But in the next 3 years they baptized 18 more believers. It would be nice to think that things got better and easier, But that would be wrong. Yes the gospel grew but at a great cost.

He was taken before the King of Burma and denied the right to teach his faith. Later he was handcuffed, tortured and held in irons and led from prison to prison for 17 months as Ann and a daughter followed, living and sleeping in jungles.
Then at 37 years old his wife, Ann, died. She had worked hard, translated scripture, and wrote teaching materials in Burmese. But then in 1933, he baptized the 100th convert.
A couple of years later he married another missionary. Sarah Boardman’s husband had died there in Burma and they were married. But 10 years later her health was failing. Adoniram took her back to the US to recover but she never made it home. He was treated as a hero on his only trip home during his mission career and even attended a meeting of the newly formed Southern Baptist Convention. 

After a long furlow he headed back to Burma and served for several years. Then in 1850, he died on a ship in the bay of Bengal after 37 years of Missionary service and only one trip home. He lost two wives and several children and was survived by a third wife who wrote the memoirs of Sarah. His family back home all passed away while he was serving in Burma.
BUT he left much behind. The first Missionary from the USA left behind the Bible in Burmese, 100 churches, and over 8,000 believers. Today Myanmar has over 650,000 baptists and 4000 churches. He was also largely responsible for the founding of the first two major mission agencies in America, Congregationalists and the Baptists, and a Burmese English dictionary that is the basis of dictionaries to this day. His wife Ann had written many letters home and inspired a generation of young women to go to the Mission field. Young ladies like Lottie Moon in China.
WHY? Because Adoniram believed we can still attempt Great things for God – and Expect Great things From God. 
Matt 24:14 the Gospel is to be preached to the entire world then the end will come.  And here is the gospel: 1Co 15:1  Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you,…2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I received, how Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again according to the scriptures

Friday, October 1, 2010

Chinese pastor, wife slain at church served by Lottie Moon

That headline is from the Florida Baptist Witness, a magazine serving Southern Baptists in Florida. I had to read it, I couldn't quite believe it. But sure enough, on August 31, a man came into the church office and killed the 80+ year old pastor and his wife. From the FBW: "Pastor Qin Jia Ye and his wife Hong En He, both in their 80s, were killed in the church’s office on Wednesday."
Qin Jia Ye killed.jpgBack to the killer in a second. But a little about Chinese Christianity.

This church, Penglai Christian Church, was closed for almost 50 years but reopened in 1988 with 20 members. That was the year before the Tienanmen Square Massacre. China had been loosening their grip on their citizens a little, but of course Communists can loosen up too much or the people get their way and over throw it.

For a number of years after reopening, the church reported over 300 baptisms a year. Today the membership is approximately 3600. They built a new sanctuary with the help of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga. And they have welcomed numerous Christian and Baptist groups who have come to China and wanted to see where Lottie Moon worked and served and won many to Christ.
Lottie 2.jpgLottie died in 1912, before the Communist revolution really took hold. Eric Liddell (The Flying Scotsman of Chariots of Fire) served in china during the growth of the communist party but was imprisoned by the Japanese, who had occupied China, in 1943.
EricLiddell.jpgWatchman Nee and thousands of others were imprisoned by the Chinese Communist government, tortured, brainwashed and many were never released.
After the Tienanmen Massacre of 1989 there were several years of great revival with thousand of people saved in China and the exponential growth of house churches. By 1994 the Communists, in league with Satan, began to crack down on churches of all kinds. Still imprisoning Christian pastors and workers. Still torturing and brainwashing. But, the church goes on like the army that it is.
Not an army of sword and cannon, but of faith and grace and truth. And daily there are added to the Lord those who would be saved.

Who killed Pastor Qin Jia Ye and his wife Hong En He? They have arrested a 40 year old man who was a former member of the church. He was arrested within an hour and authorities say he entered the church with an axe and struck them both.
He has not been convicted, I have no knowledge of whatever evidence they have against him and no reason to doubt them...except of course that the government has harassed, killed, and tortured, Christians for over 60 years.

Who killed them? I don't know, but I know this. The great early church father Tertullian once said, "The Blood of the Martyrs is the Seed of the Church." This does not mean that even though martyrdom happens God can overcome it. No, it means much more than that.

Read the paragraph below from

[Tertullian's,] “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church,” has a depth of insight too often lost on believers today. We have no trouble thinking of persecution and martyrdom as a great obstacle to the spread of the gospel which will not, however, be successful in hindering Church growth. ...But to say that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church is an altogether different concept. If martyrdom is an obstacle to the growth of the Church, then the Church might advance just as well, even better, without it. But if the blood of the martyrs truly is the seed of the Church, then without it, the Church does not grow. Without martyrdom, the Church would never have taken root in the world of Tertullian. Without martyrdom, the Church would not have spread to the Auca Indians in South America, or to China or Burma or the islands of the South Seas. The blood of the martyrs is a necessary means for the worldwide application of Christ’s great redemptive accomplishment. This is the full force of Tertullian’s insight...

I think Pastor Qin Jia Ye is a martyr for his Savior. He died in service to the Lord. Let's pray that thousands more come to Christ as a result of His graduation to Heaven!

Love you guys, and may God help me to be ready to be a martyr for Him. Its ONLY when I think of How Much He has forgiven me, that I realise how much I owe Him and love Him.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Basic Bible Beliefs: Survey and Response

I sent a survey to 97 people on 9/16/10 and so far have received 26 responses.
First the survey, then MY response.

26 responses
Summary See complete responses

1. The only way to Heaven is through Faith in Jesus Christ
Strongly disagree 3 12%
Somewhat disagree 0 0%
Somewhat agree 1 4%
Strongly agree 22 85%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

2. Salvation is given to those who believe and who do certain things like be baptized or confess their sins to a minister
Strongly disagree 18 69%
Somewhat disagree 2 8%
Somewhat agree 4 15%
Strongly agree 2 8%

3. The Bible is only Authoritative Text to reveal to us the will of God for all mankind
Strongly disagree 1 4%
Somewhat disagree 0 0%
Somewhat agree 1 4%
Strongly agree 24 92%

4. All other world religions are false religions based on false texts and false prophets. (Ed. note, I should have said "Except Judaism" it is obviously biblical in view of the Old Testament.)
Strongly disagree 2 8%
Somewhat disagree 2 8%
Somewhat agree 3 12%
Strongly agree 19 73%

5. Groups that claim to be Christian but don't teach that Jesus is God, that his death bought our salvation, and that some people are not saved are heretical and not truly Christian.
Strongly disagree 0 0%
Somewhat disagree 1 4%
Somewhat agree 3 12%
Strongly agree 22 85%

6. People are seeking after God, Christians just need to show them Jesus
Strongly disagree 1 4%
Somewhat disagree 4 15%
Somewhat agree 8 31%
Strongly agree 13 50%

7. Jesus is still seeking to save the lost though none of them are looking for Him
Strongly disagree 3 12%
Somewhat disagree 4 15%
Somewhat agree 9 35%
Strongly agree 10 38%

Now just so you know, among the 97 recipients (should have been 100 but 3 of my emails were bad) were very few ministers or seminary types. Most were folks who call themselves Christians and who I believe try to live like it.

The answer I was looking for to #1 was Strongly Agree, Faith in Christ is the only way to Heaven. Jesus himself said, "I AM the way the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me." And Paul wrote, "There is no other name given among men whereby we MUST be saved."

#2 I hoped to see Strongly DISagree. The cry of the Reformation was Grace alone through Faith alone. THe Bible says, "For by Grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God.

For #3 The response was great in that most Strongly agreed. The Bible, not the Quran, the Urantia Book, the BgahdVaGita, the Book of Mormon, is the AUTHORITATIVE book of God. That is not to say truth cannot be found elsewhere. All truth is GOd's truth and men sometimes stumble across. It is sometimes mixed with lies by the Devil. But the Bible is God's truthful revelation of Himself.

#4 was tricky because of my mistake. The answer I was looking for was Strongly Agree that all other religions are false. BUT, I should have excluded Judaism from the claim that religions other than Christianity are false. Judaism is based on truth. They have stopped short of the later revelation of Truth in Jesus Christ, but they are not based on False Prophets. In the last book of the Bible we are warned to not add or take away from God's Word. Any other religion does just that.

There were 3 issues in #5: The deity of Christ, His sacrificial death, and universalism. These are three issues under attack today and for 2000 years. Strongly Agree: Groups that teach differently should be considered heretical. Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Unitarian/Universalist churches, and a few of the new Emergent groups are going there too.

#6 Was another Tricky one. Strongly Disagree! Only one got it right! It’s true that Christians need to lift up the name, person and work of Jesus. What is not true is that people are seeking him. You might think you were. You might have heard others say they were. But the Bible teaches Rom 3:11 “...there is none that understands; there is none that seeks after God." We know Jesus seeks the lost, and the Father Seeks worshipers. But Jesus says fallen man seeks things like “What shall we eat, how shall we be clothed.” Jesus no one comes to the Father unless the Father draws them. So the initial movement is not man looking for God but God drawing man to Himself.

And #7 was to balance #6. Strongly Agree: Jesus is still seeking to save the lost even though humanity does not look for God.

Now some of you may disagree with what I believe, but can you see the Biblical reason behind it? Maybe you interpret the Bible differently but I used very plain texts from the Bible. Not those that are hard to understand.

Maybe you just disagree with the Bible. That's fair. Dangerous! But Fair.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Guarantee

This last week I received a number of very nice Birthday Cards, some funny cards, and a few presents. It was great! I am a very blessed man. (I'm fixed for Starbucks for a while!)

Dale Carnegie, the guy who wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People, tells how he used to not only do his best to remember people's names whom he met, he would also remember their birthday. He would write down the person's name as soon as he could and also write down their birthday. Then he would send them a card on their next birthday. He found that for most of the people to whom he sent a card, it was the only card they received outside of one or two cards from family. For some it was there only card.
Now that's a nice idea but that's not why I'm bringing it up.

It just occurs to be that just because you know some folks and even have some friends it doesn't mean you will be remembered when you would like to be.
Its not a sure thing! I am very blessed to be remembered by many people but it may not always be that way. I have had birthdays in the past where the only cards I received were from Marney, one my girls, and my sister, Donna, who is great at remembering things like that.

There is something that is guaranteed however.

The most popular verse in Romans 8 says:
Rom 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

But have you ever asked Why is this the case?

29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (ESV)

Here's the guarantee:
Everyone of THOSE God foreknows, He predestines to become like His Son.
Everyone of THOSE He predestines He Calls.
Everyone of THOSE He calls He Justifies.
Everyone of THOSE He Justifies He Glorifies.

EVERYONE of you who know Christ today, have been KNOWN by HIM for eternity past and your future Glorification one day is Guaranteed!
God may not send you a Birthday Card, but He has never forgotten you. Everyday He is working for your good, and conforming you to the Image of His Dear Son. And on the most important day that you will want to be remembered, He will bring you into His eternal Kingdom of Heaven, of which you are already a citizen!

There's a lot of good news in that passage!

Brother Clark

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Our Gospel Seed - Jim Eliff

A Wonderful Essay by Pastor and Theologian  Jim Elliff
I awoke this morning thinking about the tree that is the highest up on the mountain. Have you ever wondered about such trees and how the highest tree got there? Since the cones on these coniferous trees always fall downward, how is it that there are trees way up on the sides of the mountains at unbelievable altitudes?
The only answer is that the wind blows hard in those regions. And sometimes the wind will catch the seed or cone of a tree and whisk it up to normally unreachable heights. Even though there is almost no soil in such places, somehow the seed falls between massive rocks and finds a place to grow. Then, some time later, out comes the tree. It will be a sinewy one perhaps, but nonetheless a real tree growing there on the highest place on the mountain in the most incompatible conditions. No one would purposefully plant a tree there but God.
The responsibility of the believer is to throw out the seed everywhere. But sometimes the seed is carried away to places never intended by us. Or, if intended, it is sown without much reason to believe that anything will happen. Our gospel seed seems to hit the rocks and slide down into the crevices where it is not appreciated. Or, even more amazingly, the seed sits on the rock until it is carried to another undesirable place in mysterious ways that you and I will not ever figure out. But there, in that most uninviting place, a "tree" is born.
Only God can do that.
Here is my word for you. Throw the seed everyplace. Be promiscuous in sowing it. Don't be discouraged about stubborn, hard, rock-like responses from some, even among your own relatives. You cannot really tell what God is doing. God will prove you wrong.
Satan is not languishing in his zeal. The world's motivations are not asleep. Neither must we let down. But enthusiasm is not all that is involved. It is God that is at work in growing the kingdom. "I will build my church," He said. Therefore, I don't even have the slightest hint of concern that our labors are in vain.
In the morning sow your seed,
and at evening withhold not your hand,
for you do not know which will prosper, this or that,
or whether both alike will be good.

Ecclesiastes 11:6
Copyright © 2005 Jim Elliff Jim Elliff.