Friday, November 24, 2017

The Offering of a Thankful Heart

The over-all message of Psalm 50 is actually a rebuke upon the Religious hypocrite who is determined to ACT OUT VARIOUS religious rituals, but refuses to offer God the Thanksgiving-Glory due Him. The Psalmist Asaph is warning the hypocrite to mend his ways by reflecting upon the UNSEEN Saviour Who is only SEEN by the eye of Faith.

While the hypocrite is able to perform outward works, in a show of religious observances, he is unable to manufacture sincere gratitude for the work of Grace. He is unable to be sincerely thankful for the various Providences that have blessed him and guided him throughout his life, simply because he has not actually experienced the work of grace.
This Psalm is a wake-up call for all of us, who have reaped an abundance of God’s Blessings, and yet remain in a posture of murmuring and discontentment.

Jonathan Edwards notes that…

“Affections that are truly spiritual and gracious…arise from those influences and operations on the heart, which are spiritual and Divine.” Religious Affections p 197

According to the puritans, Edwards and Thomas Shepherd, Asaph the Psalmist is exposing two kinds of hypocrites; the Legal and the Evangelical.

Edwards observes,

“There are two sorts of hypocrites: the first, are deceived with their outward morality and external religion… The other, are those that are deceived with false discoveries and elevations, which often cry down works, and men’s own righteousness, and talk much of free grace, but at the same time, make a righteousness of their discoveries, and of their humiliation, and exalt themselves to heaven with them.

These two kinds of hypocrites Mr. Shepherd, in his ex-position of the Parable of the 10 Virgins, distinguishes by the names of legal and evangelical hypocrites, and often speaks of the latter as the worst. And ‘tis evident that the latter are commonly by far the most confident in their hope, and with the most difficulty brought from it.” Ibid P173

Asaph identifies the first hypocrite as one that is deceived by the keeping of outward ceremonies in verses 9-13 he is the legalist.

Ps 50:9 I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds. 10 For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. 11 I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. 12 If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof. 13 Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?

In these verses Aspah identifies the Evangelical moralist, who is actually an antinomian, who relates to the Covenant of Free Grace, but is void of true Love toward God by not being thankful. That is the test of sincere love and appreciation toward God. i.e. A thankful heart.

Asaph continues to explain.

Ps 50:16 ¶ But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? 17 Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee.

Asaph tells both of these hypocrites in verse 14 to…

… Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High...

The problem with the hypocrite is that he holds onto a false hope, and a false confidence that he is one of God’s Elect.

Again Edwards observes.

“When once a hypocrite is thus established in a false hope, he hasn’t those things to cause him to call his hope into question, that often times, by the occasion of the doubting of true Saints. At first, he hasn’t that cautious spirit, that great sense of the vast importance of a sure foundation, and that dread of being deceived. The comforts of the true Saints increase awakening and caution, and a lively sense how great a thing it is to appear before an infinitely holy, just in of mission to judge. But false comforts put an end to these things, and dreadfully stupefy the mind. Secondly, the hypocrite has not the knowledge of his own blindness, and the deceitfulness of his own heart, and that mean opinion of his own understanding, that the true Saints has. Those that are diluted with false discoveries and affections, are ever more highly conceded of their light and understanding.”

Drawing from the Law of God in Leviticus 7:12, Asaph reminds the hypocrite that a

Thankful Posture’ is an essential component when offering up the required ceremonial scarifies of Peace, and that thankful posture does not exhibit itself ONLY when things are going well. Thanksgiving is the posture of the True Saint at every season.
God is, however, very clear in that this Peace offering was to be offered WITH Thanksgiving otherwise it would not be an acceptable offering. Whenever contemplating the Peace Treaty, which God had CUT with Israel, the people were to be Thankful. A sincere heart of thanksgiving was what yoked the sacrifice with the people and which made the sacrifice acceptable.

Ro 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Rev George Barlow comments,

1Th 5:16 ¶ Rejoice evermore.17 Pray without ceasing.

And for the record, (to reiterate) a Thankful heart does not show itself in giving thanks once
in a while, over the dinner table or in private devotion, or when things go well, but rather the thankful heart is FILLED WITH Thanksgiving at all times. Thanksgiving is the exercise of love and faith for all that God is and in all that God does. God impresses this ROOT of LOVE in the declaration of the Great Commandment, knowing that LOVE is the well spring of all other affections which is inaugurated and fed by the indwelling of God, the Holy Spirit.

1.    First. Thanksgiving out of a pure loving heart is the Christian’s DUTY
It is the WILL and thus it is the Commandment of the Sovereign King that you humble yourself and bless Him by Thanking Him. 
It is the WILL and thus it is the Commandment of the Sovereign King that you humble yourself and bless Him by Thanking Him.

Those who honestly and sincerely thank God, do so out of the Spirit’s prodding – and it is of the highest privilege to be moved by the Spirit of God. Whenever we thank God, it is because He has given us something that was not part of our being to begin with. The privilege is that we have been given something from GOD!!!! 

Think of it. God has given you something that you didn’t have before and moreover that you never deserved in the first place. A heart to love Him, Thank Him, Praise Him, and Pray to Him.We have God as our God and Father. He is also the Universal King of the Universe. HE gives only to His Own, conferring upon them a great honor which IN TURN Thanks Him for such a mercy.

The beginning of Wisdom is the Fear of the LORD. That fear is an honoring and awe inspiring aspect of the saint. This impresses upon the mind of the Christian exactly WHO GOD is, and what is commanded of him for his own benefit. AND so it is in the saint’s best interest (in His wisdom ) To Give Thanks to the Lord.

Moses explained to Israel that obedience to the Commands of God was WISDOM.

De 4:5 Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.

 IN Psalm 105 the Psalmist sets Thanksgiving as a PREREQUISITE to calling on God for His Help and Deliverance.

Knowing that God is well pleased with Thanking Him, that knowledge in and of itself is an Excellency of knowledge and understanding.

Paul tells the Philippians,

Php 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ

The rendering of Thanksgiving is a character dynamic of the Regenerate. It is a Necessary attribute for the Christian without which one remains doubtful of his or her conversion.

It reminds us that He is generous because we are needy. We must be ever so conscious of our need for charity. By accepting our poverty of body, soul and spirit, in light of the Grace that has been given to us, we, out of sincere NECESSITY, give thanks. The Christian should naturally take delight in Thanking God, knowing that God delights in us, when we are sincerely Grateful. As the Apostle declares, and as all of us should likewise declare…

Moses says this.

Le 7:11 ¶ And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he shall offer unto the LORD. 12 If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fried.

The Law is very explicit in what type of sacrifice this was.It was for the Peace offering, which meant it was symbolic of the Peace Treaty between God and His People, according to the Covenant cut with Blood – representing the Lord Jesus.

Paul explains,

Eph 2:14 ¶ For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the
middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Whatever was offered – whether it was the cakes mingled with oil, or the anointed unleavened wafers of fine flour – it was UNACCEPTABLE - if was offered without Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving was the main Component of this ceremony of Peace and remains so throughout eternity. It was not so much the material cakes and unleavened wafers that Israel was thankful for, but what those things signified that moved the people to praise and Thank God.

But there was something more to this sacrificial offering. This offering was made with an oath, It was coupled with a VOW. In other words it was a requirement.
Ps 50:14 Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High

Adam Clarke explains,

"Now these were offerings, in their spiritual and proper meaning, which God required of the people: and as the sacrificial system was established for an especial end; to show the sinfulness of sin, and the purity of Jehovah, and to show how sin could be atoned for, forgiven, and removed; this system was now to end in the thing that it signified,-[i.e.] the grand sacrifice of Christ, which was to make atonement, feed, nourish, and save the souls of believers unto eternal life; [and] to excite their praise and thanksgiving; [and to] bind them to God Almighty by the most solemn vows to live to him in the spirit of gratitude and obedience all the days of their life. And, in order that they might be able to hold fast faith and a good conscience, they were to make continual prayer to God, who promised to hear and deliver them, that they might glorify him, [according to the next verse of Ps 50:15.]..which states: Ps 50:15 And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.”

The rendering of sincere Thanksgiving established a spirit of gratitude which WAS REQUIRED in payment of Israel’s oath. Biblical vows, if they were to be valid, had to be voluntary. God is calling on Israel to voluntarily praise and give Him thanks for His fidelity and grace. The VOW was a promise that in everything, the people of God were to ‘Give Thanks’ from the outpouring of gratitude for the LORD and HIS work.

This is the intent of the Apostle when he counsels the Thessalonians.

1Th 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

He makes it a point to tell the Thessalonians that it is GOD’s WILL (Which is His commandment) that His people render thanksgiving in everything. Paul is able to say this because he understands that ALL THINGS work together for good.

He tells the Saints at Rome,

“It is our duty to be ever grateful... The Christian can meet with nothing in the way of duty that is not a cause for thankfulness, whatever suffering may be entailed. When we think of the ceaseless stream of God’s mercies, we shall have ample reasons for [uninterrupted] Thanksgiving.”

According to the Apostle Paul the command to give thanks isn’t isolated from the Command to rejoice and pray. He rather enjoins the three together.
Continual Prayer and Rejoicing are also commanded as being part of the will of God

He puts together a kind of Trinity of commands for the benefit and well being of the saints. Rejoicing, Prayer and Thanksgiving.

Observe the connection made between prayer and thanksgiving  when writing to the Philippians and Colossians,

Php 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

 Col 2:7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

 Col 4:2 ¶ Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.

The Rev George Barlow again observes,

“The secret of a happy life is in harmony with the divine will… It is the will of God that his people should be rejoicing, praying, and grateful; and this will is revealed by Christ, as declared in his gospel, as received in his church, and as observed by those in communion with him. What a revelation is this, not of an arbitrary demand of the impossible state of the affections toward God, but a beautiful and consolatory discovery of the largeness of his love and of the blessed ends for which he has redeemed us in Christ. The will of God supplies constant material for gratitude and praise. These are the three marks of a genuine Christian. 1. To rejoice in the mercy of God. 2. To be fervent in prayer. 3.To give thanks to God in all things.” Homiletic Commentary pg 543

If one were to take careful notice of the various Psalms, one would immediately see that there is a powerful and obvious theme throughout; Praise and Thanksgiving for God.

Throughout the Old Testament the Prophets have lifted up the Name of the LORD in Thanksgiving and Praise.

Ps 26:6 ¶ I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O LORD: 7 That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.

Ps 69:30 ¶ I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.

 Ps 95:2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.

Ps 100:4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

 Ps 107:22 And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.

Ps 116:17 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.

Ps 118:1 ¶ O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.

 Ps 147:7 Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God:

 Isa 51:3 For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.

 Jer 30:19 And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small.

What all these Old Testament prophets were praising and thanking God for, was not only
what He had done in their history, but MOREOVER, IN ANTICIPATION of what He was going to do through the LORD Jesus, in all of history. And so when Paul speaks of the giving of thanks, he often focuses upon the aspect of the spiritual and temporal victory effectuated by the resurrected Christ.

1Co 15:57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

2Co 2:14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.

2Co 9:15  Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.

Col 1:12 ¶ Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.

Re 4:9 And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,

 Re 11:17 Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.

Consider for a moment the ROOT of Thanksgiving

The root of a Thankful heart is LOVE ; a Love Toward God. When the heart is filled with LOVE and Devotion to God, it is reflected in Thanksgiving. This type of Love focuses on God and His Redemption though the Crucified and Risen Lord Christ. Love toward God is expressed in Thanksgiving. There is no other way about it. If you do not have a thankful heart you may not be a Christian.

De 6:4 ¶ Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

Jesus adds an additional but extremely important nuance to the Commandment.

Mt 22:37  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

The sincere contemplation of the mercy of God with the mind should, result in a brokenness to the point of praise and thanksgiving. This is to be expanded further to include a love toward our neighbor which Jesus declares as the second great commandment.

Mt 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

This commandment teaches us that the hypocrite’s thanksgiving, IF HE SHOWS ANY SIGN OF BEING THANKFUL, only goes as far as himself and not to his neighbor.

Observe the parable of the wicked Hypocrite.

Lu 18:10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

You see this man VERBALLY gave thanks, but his heart was far from the love of God and love toward his neighbor, rendering his thanksgiving UNACCEPTABLE even damnable.

The Great Puritan Thomas Vincent explains that it is LOVE toward God that excites all other reactions, and in this case Thanksgiving.

He lists 8 considerations for the Christian to contemplate which can be used to encourage and excite the heart and mind to Love and Thanksgiving.

2.    Second: Thanksgiving is a PRIVILEDGE.

3.    Third: It is a great HONOR to be able to Thank God.
4.    Fourth: There is also WISDOM in rendering Thanksgiving to God.

 6 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations…

Ps 105:1 ¶ O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.

5.    Fifth: There is also an EXCLLENCY in Thanking God.

6.    Six: There is also the NECESSITY of Giving Thanks.

7.    Seventh: There is also a USEFULLNESS in the giving of Thanks.

8.    Finally, Thanksgiving is A DELIGHTFUL practice.

2Co 9:15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.  AMEN

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Faceless Face Book: Blessing or Curse?

The original intent of Face Book (FB) was primarily meant to bring family and friends together who were separated geographically. Almost immediately FB became a vehicle for everyone who simply wanted to share information or certain life events within their realm of relationships. That sharing expanded to the public arena whether the viewers were friends or not. By the use of textual comments, photos, videos and a variety of “fun” communications FB became an international phenomena.  

FB has now metamorphasized into many things, some of which boarder on
voyeurism and self idolatry. The FB culture has succeeded in manufacturing a cultic following some of which have become so dissatisfied with their life that they have decided to live through the seemingly exciting life and experiences of others. From the traveling exploits to the mundane “Here is what I am having for dinner tonight” (as if anyone really cares), or here is a new picture of “Me; see how beautiful, sexy, strong or good looking I am” FB has become a daily addiction. For those indoctrinated into the FB community, not a day goes by without the FB fix. The Christian community is very much a part of this addiction.

The FB Blessing

To be fair, FB does have its benefits. Generally, it assists families and friends to keep in touch who they would not be able to as easily without the FB venue. Pictures of children and grandchildren are an especially wonderful blessing of FB. Old friends can catch up and current friendships can be cultivated. Fb is also a benefit for businesses in their effort to advance their agenda and market their product. Private discussion groups and messaging are also part of the advantage of FB.

The FB Curse

Having said that, it is the sinful heart of man, and his addiction to the Athenian mindset, which makes all that is new and exciting the focus. (Acts 17:21) The depraved heart of man has polluted the FB venue changinf its blessing into a curse.

Because everything that sinful man involves himself in has a tendency to devolve into something awful. FB is not immune to this deprivation. Nor is the Christian community immune to the negative tendency of FB’s impact. This is mostly evident within the various Christian groups. One of the problems with FB is the anonymity of its participants. Comments are injected into the comment box with every opinion imaginable many of which are ‘off the cuff’. To be involved in a “discussion” seems to be the goal even if no discussion or comment is warranted.

Within the Christian debate forums sin is rampant. Rather than using the FB group to build up the saints these forums have devolved into battle grounds of slander, hatred, pride, vulgarity and even the threat of violence against disagreeing parties.

The Bitter Root of Group Think

Everyone acts in a way consistent with their belief. This is true for everyone. 
A vulgar man will act in accordance with his character which coincides with his belief structure. When a professing Christian acts according to traits which typically represent unbelievers, questions must be asked as to the validity of their profession.

It only takes one individual to spark an aggressive thread of debate. Once that begins, especially if it is instigated by someone with perceived popularity, knowledge of the subject or social influence, group think takes effect and the battle begins. In studies by Myers, Bishop, and Stoner dealing with dominant attitudes in group discussions and a comparison of individual and group discussions involving risk, they found that identifying with aggressive internet participants make those who normally are not aggressive become aggressive. 

Richard Wiseman explains in his book 59 Seconds,

“Have aggressive teenagers hang out together and the gang will be far more likely to act violently. Allow those with strong religious or political ideologies to spend time in one another’s company and they will develop more extreme and often violent viewpoints. The effect even emerges on the Internet, with individuals who participate in discussion lists and chat rooms voicing more extreme opinions and attitudes than they normally would….

Other studies have shown that compared to individuals, groups tend to be more dogmatic, better able to see their actions are highly moral, and more apt to form stereotypical views of outsiders. In addition, when strong willed people lead group discussions they can pressure others into conforming, can encourage self censorship, and can create an illusion of unanimity.”

The Chiefest of the Commandments

Although FB is called Face Book, it is not a face to face
venue at all. In fact, it is the exact opposite. FB has provided almost total anonymity for those involved in group discussion. It is here where the problem exists. The Lord tells us that we are to go face to face when disagreeing with a brother. And then we are to deal with that brother in the spirit of love, kindness and meekness.(Eph 4:2,15,16,32, Col 2:2, 1 Thesss 3:12,Gal 6:1) FB has stripped the Christian community of that Biblical factor that is so essential to loving our brethren.

The Hypocrisy of the Hypocrite

Those theological FB discussion groups which have become battle grounds within the community of the saints need to take special care that they do not accomplish more in destroying Christendom than building it up. The Apostle declares that knowledge, when it is not disseminated with the spirit of love and concern puffs up, whereas only love edifies. (1 Cor 8:1) What good is arguing about the proper application of the Law and the Gospel if we cannot even show forth the fruit of the Spirit by our own conduct?

If the Christian community is to ever come together against the common enemy of secularism and anti Christian humanism, it must obey the Word of God at its most basic commandment; Christian Love. 

 1Th 3:12 And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Tenacious Continuity

Once a purpose is finalized focus is needed. But focus is not enough if it is sporadic. No project worth undertaking can be completed unless it is tackled tenaciously and continuously. Only then can a project be competed. In a fast-paced world of immediates it is no wonder that it usually takes an individual an insurmountable time to finish even the smallest of projects. The “Fast Food Nation” mentality combined with the dumbing down of the Human spirit has produced a nation of sloths. While this may be a natural result of unregenerate man, it should not be the testimony of the Redeemed.

Good Intentions

Every professing child of God begins with good intentions. However,  good intentions never bring a project to fruition. Good intentions usually begin strong, and may remain for a season, but they quickly grow old and are finally left off for something new. The process then repeats. At last nothing of any value or lasting effect is established. As with the parable of the Sower, if the grounding of the intent is not rooted in God and His Kingdom’s honor then once the sun comes up, or the fowls of the air bring distraction, the original intention is left for dead. Good intentions are only good if they are accomplished with tenacity and resolve. This requires continuity. It requires a covenant obligation oath before God to get something done.

Do the Hard Thing

Sticking to a project or a ministry for God’s Kingdom advancement is not an easy task. It takes commitment. It takes focus. It takes much prayer. It takes the intervention of God the Holy Spirit. Committing to a task, especially when that task will take years, or even a life time to accomplish is no small feat. It is not easy. If it were easy everyone would be productive in building a legacy for the Glory of Christ. Commitment requires conviction. Persuasion is not enough. A man that is persuaded one way can be persuaded another way if the argument is cunning enough. The persuaded man easily vacillates and may even become unstable.  But a man of conviction is immovable. Christians that are given a Divine conviction know what they to do. They are convinced by Scripture that it is Christ’s call that brings them to contemplate this or that service. As a result, the convicted Christian remains steadfast because the conviction is of God. Without conviction, the hard things will derail the entire purpose of every good intention.

The Plan

Everyone should have a plan. When God created the Universe and all that is therein is, He had a plan. His plan is precise to the minutest detail. Everything is mapped out. Nothing is left out. Before executing His Divine plan, He made sure that once it began it would come to fruition and culmination. He also wrote it down. In the counsel of the Eternal God-head God constructed the plan. He made a Divine decree by an oath before He executed it so that it would be perfect and competed within a certain time frame of history. The oath also contracted God to compete the plan. He divinely obligated Himself to complete it. Moreover, it is a long-term plan executed with patience over time and throughout many generations.

If we Christians are to think God’s thoughts after Him we must being with a plan. We should use a daily log-book and write down what we seek to accomplish for the day, the week, the month, the year and the next 5 years. We also need to keep tract of our progress and accomplishments. Only what is measured is managed. In this way we can have a running account of whether or not we are closing in on the culmination of or desired task or ministry. I have always encouraged folks, especially young Christians to have a Christ-Centered 1-year, 5-year, 10-year and 25-year plan. But if they cannot even plan for the week or the month ahead then a 1 to 25-year plan is impossible. Without setting goals, goals cannot be realized.

And yet, this model is still incomplete. A Kingdom centered 25-year plan still
omits the generational aspect of planning. We must look beyond our mortality into the next several generations. Christians must build for a generational Inheritance. Christians are to look into the future and plan for the years after they are long gone from the face of the earth. Then God will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” Matthew 25:23

Monday, April 17, 2017

Singleness of Purpose

Every true Child of God desires to change the world, by the advancing of Christ’s Kingdom for His Glory. Only the sincere regenerate sets forth his or her life in consistent self-sacrificial service to the living and reigning Christ. They alone understand the great commission of Christ’s global conquest to establish His reign in the midst of Time and History.

While the desire to change the world for Christ is admirable, there are certain problems the ambitious saint faces.

Problem 1: The overly ambitious saint wants to see change NOW, which means
that he is very impatient and often doesn’t understand that the Kingdom of God is only advanced to its fullest extent throughout many generations. This is known as the doctrine of gradualism. Kingdom change does not happen in a catastrophic fashion. It does not happen immediately but over time through patience and tribulation. Patience, mingled with faith is the key to resolve. Impatience, on the other hand, tends to cause the saint unnecessary discouragement and frustration. It also fragments the saint’s focus.

Problem 2: As a result of the saint’s fragmented strategy, due to over ambition, he “bites off more than he can chew.” He tries to attack
everything that is wrong with society. Every evil and injustice is in his cross hairs. But in order to feel as if he is successful in this comprehensive desire to change every institution by his own individual efforts, he resorts to a verbally assaulting what is wrong with the world without giving a clear Biblical alternative to the issue at hand. This verbal battle usually is staged within the realm of social media, the blog-o-sphere, op-ed newspaper letters to the editor, book writing or open live debate. While these, in and of themselves, are beneficial for educating the masses, they do little in actually changing anything concretely. Education must lead to action not merely contemplation. The contemplation, or in this case debate and argument, does little unless action is the result.

Problem 3: Philosophical contemplation becomes the default answer to every
problem because it is easy to cry out against injustice as long as it is not backed by action. Debate is actually a placebo. It really doesn’t solve anything, and so, in the long run it is often unfruitful. It is easy to debate against an evil. It is quite another thing to build a viable solution and then execute it. Ideas must be crystallized and applied to the world in order for them to make a difference. Ideas must have real consequences otherwise what good are they? If solutions were realized via debate Nehemiah would have been in constant debate with the gainsayers of His day. His answer was “Rise up and build”.

And so, the ambitious saint is torn by a thousand different possibilities to change the world. This burrs his focus on the ONE thing God has for him to consider and actually accomplish.

The ONE Thing

Every Christian must take an assessment of his or her passion as it concerns the Kingdom of God and then focus upon it. That is the ONE thing. We cannot do everything otherwise the example of the Body of Christ would not be so prominent in Scripture. While the Body is One, it is comprised of many different parts accomplishing different things. Yet, its goal and purpose is One; the glory of God via the Advancement of His Kingdom. Even though none of us can do everything, we can all do ONE thing.
That One thing is our purpose.

Build On The ONE

Whatever direction God calls you to, focus and build upon it. Be sure it is for God’s Kingdom purpose and not your own. I have witnessed the disestablishment of a Godly purpose simply because its ulterior motive was for the advancement of the individual, or the family, and not for the greater Glory of God.

Begin small and build upon it.
Pray for direction.
Get Godly counsel.
Read the Scriptures.
Be patient.
Look to the long term even to many generations ahead.
Plan for your great grandchildren.
Set the stage for them.

Lay the foundation so that they might compete the building in their lifetime.
Remember, if you are focused upon God’s Kingdom you will look beyond yourself not caring whether or not you benefit from your efforts. As long as God’s Kingdom grows by your efforts that should suffice.

Now go and build a legacy for the Glory of Christ’s Kingdom.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


WHY do professing Christians do what they do? This question holds the key to whether or not those who profess Christianity are actually being faithful. Too often we focus upon the HOW rather than the WHY. But it is the WHY that is critical to the WHAT and the HOW. Without the WHY, the What and the HOW matters little.Successful leaders are distinct from those that fail because they begin with WHY rather than with WHAT or HOW. 

The Gospel itself is based upon the WHY. Of course, the WHAT and HOW naturally follow, but WHAT and HOW did not launch the Gospel. It was the WHY.

 GOD Begins with "WHY"

Why did God send the Savior? It was to save an elect  people for Himself, for the glorification of His Holy Name through the righteous reconstruction of the world as a result of Adam’s fall. He accomplishes that with the WHAT, i.e. the Second Person of the Trinity, the LORD Christ. The life, crucifixion, death, atonement, resurrection, ascension and the sending of the Spirit at Pentecost is the HOW. God accomplishes the totality of His Covenant plan with the WHAT and the HOW, but it begins with the WHY.

Fidelity, Productivity and the "WHY"

Once we begin with WHY we do what we do, the WHAT and the HOW follows. WHY is the motivation which leads to faithful productivity and Gospel success. The WHY is our calling under God. It is what we believe. It is our cause and purpose in life. We do what we do because we love the Lord in response to His love toward us. This WHY should be behind everything we do. If we do anything that does not have Christ and His Gospel as the motivating WHY it is no longer for the Glory of God.

Communicate with "WHY"

In Simon Sinek’s book, “Start with Why”1 he explains the importance of communicating with the WHY before discussing the WHAT or the HOW. Transposing his ideas and applying them to the Christian faith was very helpful to me personally. His premise is that before explaining to people WHAT we are going to do, or HOW we are going to do it, in our case for the reconstruction of the culture, we must explain to others WHY we want to change the culture. The WHY clarifies our purpose. It telegraphs our passion. This serves as a very impressionable tactic for a starting point. 

By sharing the WHY, our message becomes inspirational rather than manipulative. People need to know WHY we are doing this thing or that thing before they become interested in WHAT we are doing or HOW we are going to accomplish it.

Case in point: Postmillennialism

If we begin telling people HOW, or by WHAT methods, we are going to promote the Crown Rights of King Jesus and His total conquest of culture within the realm of time and history we have already lost our hearers if they do not understand WHY we are promoting it. This principle can be applied to just about everything we seek to accomplish. Explaining WHY you do something Kingdom-ward can be used as a challenge for the empowerment of others to change the status quo of secularism. 

Once they know WHY you are so passionate about the thing you are doing the
WHAT and the HOW naturally follows. Every Gospel reconstruction message must start with WHY; a purpose, cause or belief that has nothing to do with the WHAT or the HOW. People don’t care as much as to the WHAT or HOW you do this or that thing, but WHY you do it. Every worthy cause must be championed first with the WHY before the WHAT and the HOW can materialize.

“Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” Simon Sinek, Penguin, 2009

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Reformation Action

“Reformation ends not in contemplation but in action.” George Gillespie (1613-1648)                                              
No cultural solution of value is achieved merely from ambition or a sense of duty. Solutions arise as a result of their need coupled with the driving passion to effectuate it. A problem has to be enough of a problem before its solution is seriously addressed. Then, and only then, can the solution be properly developed. This however, is not the end goal. Simply because a problem begs a solution, is taken seriously, and then developed, it must be executed. Execution is the goal.

Identifying and developing societal solutions within the framework of Biblical Law does not translate into actually getting anything done. Without the execution of cultural reformation, the problems remain. Position papers and debate, no matter how accurate, is entirely ineffective until action is taken. Whenever something is identified as a “problem", yet remains unresolved for years without the execution of a solution one can only conclude that it was not considered as a serious problem.

Becoming Serious about Cultural Change 

Only when a problem becomes compelling is it taken seriously. That results in that problem getting solved. Taking things seriously is a gift of God especially when it concerns advancing God’s Kingdom. Once problems become compelling, solutions are developed and then put into action within the real world.Action is the proof that a problem has been taken seriously. Talking about problems in conjunction with debating theological solutions cannot take the place of actually getting something done to alleviate the problem. Talk is cheap. It is usually a time waster especially when talking about a problem or a solution actually becomes the goal of its solution. Solutions to cultural situations require well planned actionable strategies and tactics.

Actionable Issues

The only way to solve cultural problems is to develop a Biblical strategy and then implement those tactics that will effectuate the desired change. The key to this is focus. Choose an issue and focus on it. Simplify the problem so that the solution itself becomes simple. Stay with it until it until the plan is developed and then executed. Albert Eisenstein once quipped, “Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler.”

Difficult and complicated problem require perseverance. This can be discouraging especially when dealing with the modern status quo of anti-Biblical ideas. In order to stay motivated and focused reduce a big problem into one that you can solve. Scale your problem down into something manageable. Reduce the issue onto a practical first step. Then go to the second and then the third. Control the problem. It is the same way a man eats an entire elephant, one bite at a time. This will keep you encouraged and motivated as you seek progress along the way.

Write it Down – Get it Done

Problems which are articulated in writing focuses the mind. Problems cannot be solved without a clear view of what they are. Write out exactly what the problem is and then what the end goal might look like when that problem is solved.Between the declaration of the problem and the desired end requires strategic planning. A strategy must be developed with actionable items prescribed along the way.

Example: Private Real Estate Property Taxation.

As with all other legislation taxation is a moral issue. While some taxation is

Biblically sanctioned, there are those that are not. Property taxation is one of them. It is also a local issue regulated by either the county, city, or town. Local magistrates have a direct say in how much taxation is placed on personal real estate. As a local issue, you have more power in addressing it and dealing with it since generally these local officials are more accessible being a part of the community.

The Problem Stated: Personal real estate property taxation is not Biblical and must be abolished.

The Goal Desired: The abolition of real estate property taxes.

Strategy A: Get enough people to understand that they do not own their land and that at any time it can be confiscated as a result of defaulting on the taxation annexed to their property.

Tactic A: Build a team of like-minded people willing to take action.
Have them write letters to the editor, circulate Petitions, Flyers, attend Town Hall meetings, go door to door encouraging face to face discussions with literature backup, Get on the radio or local cable TV, schedule newspaper interviews, Lobby the clergy by showing them how unbiblical taxation is oppressing their congregation, Give a public address before the local county, city or town council members, use social media for the purpose of educating the people and calling them to take action, encourage brainstorming by starting a Facebook group or Blog.

Strategy B: Encourage those of like minds to run for local office.

Tactic B: Find people in your church or in your community who are on board with your theology concerning real estate taxation.

Offer to support them with manpower, and organization, if not money. Run for a
local office yourself. Get on a government committee or encourage others to do so. Publicly lobby against any candidate or local official that seeks to raise property taxes. You can get a lot of response from both the carrot and the stick but mostly from the stick. Carrots and sticks must however be compelling otherwise they cannot motivate to a resolution of the problem.

Strategy C: Develop a Biblical solution to replace real estate property taxation.

Since property taxation is the lion’s share of local government revenue a Biblical alternative must be suggested.

Tactic C: Calculate the head tax revenue if the county, city or town adopted the Biblical model. This is no small feat. Nevertheless, a needful one. It is very likely that the head tax levied on heads of households will surpass the revenue amount raised from property taxation. This would include all those living in apartment buildings.

You may want to suggest a caveat where this real estate exemption would only be applied to noncommercial property and limited to one family dwelling.

The point is there must be a starting point to every problem. If no action is taken, no solutions will be forthcoming. Get people to start thinking outside of what they have been accustomed to. This will create a rippling effect for change. Small changes can lead to big effects.

“Some problems suffer more from lack of effort than from a lack of solution” Scott Thorpe, "How to Think Like Eisenstein".

Where to Go from Here?

Accomplish something. Anything. Start somewhere. Do something. Anything. Fail fast then begin again. Never give up. Ben Franklin once stated that after he had failed over and over trying to solve a certain problem, he at least knew what didn’t work which, in his mind, brought him closer to the solution that would work.Get started!