Profound Disciples Ministries
|Posted on February 6, 2016 at 12:40 AM||comments (3604)|
Ministry Moment #8
Hard wired to God
How many times in your lives have you met someone who has not gone to church in a very long time, but all of a sudden, decided that, after having an epiphany, that they needed to return to church and fellowship? I can recall several such instances, but one in particular stands out. One day, I was attending a predominantly African American church on Long Island, NY, and a young Caucasian woman came in with her young child. When making the introductions for first time visitors, she indeed stated what was mentioned in the preceding statements: that she had been out of fellowship for a long time but there was just something that compelled her to return to someone’s church and get involved again.
It is very much understood that with the state of the world, and of many churches today, many people withdraw and leave the church due to feeling spiritually unfulfilled and mentally drained. Admittedly, I have done this as well as I grew weary of so called Christian brothers and sisters who seemed to attend service simply for entertainment, kept constant drama going on due to animosity and, just totally seemed to disregard the principles of love and fellowship taught in The Bible. We have to be aware that the enemy is mostly responsible for causing division within the Body of Christ, and that the sinful nature of man makes us susceptible to be swayed, giving in to fleshly desires, hard heartedness, envy and becoming as The Bible says, “puffed up” (1 Corinthians 4:18). Non-believers, as well as believers, tend to look at these situations and recognize that there seems to be no difference between the church and the world, which is in stark contrast to the sanctification that the brother and sisterhood of Christ should strive to achieve. Remember that we are to be in the world, but not of it (John 17:16, Romans 12:2). When we adopt to and accept the things of this world, we do a great disservice to our spiritual health and well-being.
With these things being said, there is always hope. I’ve worked in the sciences almost all of my life and I made an observation many, many years ago that whenever something is created, the creator leaves his or her signature on the creation and knows it better than anyone else be it a new product, device, or business. It was God almighty who formed the first man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, making man a living soul (Genesis 2:7). No matter how far away we may stray, and the ancient Israelites were perfect examples of this; God has placed His signature on us from Adam to the present, to the future, and is always ready and willing to accept us back when we come to the end of ourselves, and realize that apart from Him, we are unable to cope with the world’s troubles, and need Him as our stronghold (Psalms 9:9, Psalms 50:15). Since we are God’s creations, we have a mental and spiritual “hardwire” to him and will always have that small, still voice beckoning us to return to where He can use the gifts that He gave us.
As always, I could go into a full length sermon on my writings, but I will end with these questions and an exhortation. Are you listening? Are you one who has gone astray? Take some quiet time to meditate and hear the call of The Lord upon your life. His desire is that no one should perish, but have everlasting life in Him, so if you have drifted, come back and draw close to Jesus. (2 Peter 3:9) Shalom!
Minister E. Lionel Perry
Draw me Close-The Katinas
|Posted on February 5, 2016 at 1:55 PM||comments (2380)|
Three Common Idols in Churches
By Eric Geiger
“God’s people still struggle with taking tools for transformation and making them objects of worship.”
Hezekiah is affirmed in Scripture as doing “what was right in the Lord’s sight” (2 Kings 18:3). The next verse details what Hezekiah did: “He removed the high places, shattered the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake that Moses made, for the Israelites burned incense to it up to that time” (2 Kings 18:4).
Surely people understood a strong, spiritual leader removing the idols (the high places and the Asherah poles) that grabbed the hearts of the people and stole worship from the Lord. They would expect their spiritual leader to insist they stop worshiping other gods. But what Hezekiah did next must have been really unexpected and really controversial. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses made—intentionally. Not by accident. Not “I was carrying it and it fell.” To break bronze takes some effort.
Eliminating pagan idols is one thing, but “that was the snake Moses made!” It was the bronze snake God told Moses to make, the one people looked at to be delivered from their snakebites (Numbers 21).
Hezekiah broke the snake because the people were burning incense to it. They were worshiping a bronze snake. Tools for transformation can become objects of worship. In our sinfulness, we can make an idol of just about anything. In our sinfulness, we tend to make idols of things that are important to us. Thus, a bronze snake that God used to bring healing, held by the leader of God’s people during their liberation from slavery, became an object of worship.
Today is not altogether different. God’s people still struggle with taking tools for transformation and making them objects of worship. Here are three common idols in churches:
1. The Place
Because the Lord does a great work in the hearts of His people when they gather, the places of gathering can move from a tool for transformation to an object of worship. Thus, if a leader mentions “relocation,” the leader is essentially threatening to cut a bronze snake into pieces. We must remind people that the building is not the church, that His people are the church. God does not live in the place where we gather; He lives in the hearts of His people.
2. The Past
Because the Lord worked in amazing ways in the past, the past can become an idol where people long for the past more than they long for the Lord. Being grateful for the past is one thing, and worshiping it is quite another. If “former days” were great, they were only great because of the Lord.
3. The Programs
Because God changed lives through a program or event, people can elevate a program to an unhealthy place. Programs can become ends in themselves and not tools used in a church’s discipleship process. When this happens, they exist as modern-day bronze snakes.
How can leaders be like Hezekiah? How can modern-day bronze snakes be removed?
Leaders must constantly point people to the person of Jesus. Only He is worthy of our worship and only He can transform hearts. When we help people see the greatness of Jesus, idols look less attractive. As we turn our eyes on Jesus and look full in His wonderful face, the things of this world (place, past and programs included) grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
Leaders must also continually remind people of the purpose of the church. (Yes, I know it is another “p,” but it fits.) A church exists to make disciples. When a church embraces the mission of making disciples, programs are viewed as tools and not as ends in themselves. When making disciples is what a church is all about, the place is rightly seen as merely a place to help make disciples.
Though the Lord instructed the snake to be made, the Lord affirmed its destruction. And of Hezekiah, the Scripture says:
Hezekiah trusted in the Lord God of Israel; not one of the kings of Judah was like him, either before him or after him (2 Kings 18:5).
|Posted on February 5, 2016 at 1:35 PM||comments (2461)|
Don't Forget the Other Half of the Verse!,Bible Study, Christian Living
Don't Forget the Other Half of the Verse!
Most Christians (even non-Christians, for that matter) are familiar with James 4:7: "Resist the devil, and he will flee." We've all heard it somewhere, and it was most likely spoken out of context. Just like the cartoon image of the devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other, this concept is right up there with the non-biblical concept that "God helps those who help themselves."
Both are simply wrong.
How can a scriptural requirement to resist the devil be wrong? Clearly there is no problem with the advice that we should resist the devil. In fact it is very good advice! The problem here is that it is only half of the advice.
Look at all of James 4:7. With both halves attached, we find there is something that must be done before any attempt is made to resist the devil:
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
The all-important prerequisite James gives before calling believers to resist the devil is to first submit to God. If that verse is not taken in full context, in the order it is written, it will fail to hold any true effective meaning.
Below are some examples of other passages that we tend to cut in half.
Ephesians 6:4: "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."
Judges 6:25-26: "Now on the same night the LORD said to him (Gideon), “Take your father’s bull and a second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal which belongs to your father, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it; and build an altar to the LORD your God on the top of this stronghold in an orderly manner, and take a second bull and offer a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah which you shall cut down."
Acts 1:8: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
What is the common denominator?
The half we typically forget about tends to be the most important half.
Think about it; Christians tend to be familiar with the parts that require avoiding negative behavior in our own strength. We latch onto this "don't do bad stuff" mentality because it allows us to check the box and feel like we are trying our best...
• Resist the devil...
• Stop being mean to your kids...
• Tear down your idols...
• Talk more about Jesus...
However, the reason we often find ourselves going back to every idol, addiction, bad habit and negative behavior that has haunted and shamed us in the past is because we don't replace it with that which is of God. We become legalistic and proud about what we aren't doing, while quietly struggling along, trying to do the things of God without the power of God.
Which, by definition, can't be done.
Essentially, we have forgotten the most important half of the verse.
We forget the part about leading our family in the instruction and discipline of the Lord, and instead just try really hard not to yell at the kids as often.
We forget the part about submitting to God, and instead just try really hard to resist the devil on our own because that's what good boys and girls are supposed to do, right?
We forget the part about Gideon completely destroying the old altar of idolatry and replacing it with the new one to God, and instead just try really hard to keep that empty altar-shaped hole in our heart empty for as long as is humanly possible, which usually ends up not being very long.
We forget the part about witnessing in the power of the Holy Spirit, and instead just try really hard to proclaim Christ out of our own strength and intellect.
And it leaves us wondering what is going wrong, because we are honestly trying. And honestly failing.
We so often find ourselves missing out because the truth and the strength we need are found in the other half of the verse that tells us to stop trying. The other half of the verse tells us to submit ourselves to God, to tear down every idol and immediately replace them with the discipline and instruction of the Lord, and then watch what happens when we live as witnesses through the power of the Holy Spirit within us.
It is time for believers to stop reading our self-created "glass-half-empty" version of the Bible, with the list of half-verses and well-meaning rules that Christians have been trying really hard to live out, and trading it in for the "my cup runs over" version that places hope, strength and trust in Almighty God above what we can do in our own strength.
As a writer and musician, Jason Soroski strives to communicate in a way that is insightful, meaningful, relevant, and mindful of the small things that we may otherwise overlook in our everyday lives. He effectively taps into his experiences as a worship pastor, classroom teacher, husband, and homeschooling father of five to relate poignant stories from real-life experiences. Jason holds an M.Ed. from Missouri Baptist University, has been featured in various print and web publications, and currently resides in Houston, TX. Read more from Jason at his blog The Way I See It.
|Posted on February 5, 2016 at 1:30 PM||comments (3202)|
Martin Luther and the Power of Preaching
By Carl Trueman
“The preacher is to preach the Word in a manner as rich and as inflected as Scripture itself.”
Luther, The Preacher
The pastor or Christian who reads Luther’s sermons will immediately notice certain things. Luther, rather like Spurgeon, often seems to have a very loose approach to exegesis of passages, to the extent that Luther’s commentaries and sermon series tended to disappear as sources for such very shortly after his death. Perhaps the one great exception was his second commentary on Galatians (and greatest commentary), which enjoyed many reprintings and appeared in numerous translations. Arguably, however, that is because this work was such an excellent statement of his doctrine of justification rather than because it was a definitive example of verse-by-verse exposition.
The modern reader of Luther’s sermons will probably also notice that, after a while, the sermons all start to seem much the same. That is because the law-gospel pattern is reflected in them all. For Luther, the purpose of preaching was to crush the self-righteous and, having done so, to point them to the promise of God in Christ. That move from law to gospel, from wrath to grace, was the core of the Christian’s daily life and was thus to be embodied in, and facilitated by, the preaching of the Word. Powerful as such drama is, it did tend to impose a certain form upon Luther’s sermons.
These two observations might seem like criticisms, and to an extent they are. The preacher is to preach the Word in a manner as rich and as inflected as Scripture itself. That means eschewing a one-size-fits-all approach to sermon preparation. Nevertheless, I would suggest that Luther’s approach does speak to an era like ours, in which the culture of individual uniqueness has such a deep hold even on the Christian mind.
From childhood upward, we are told that we are special. Sometimes this is even done in God’s name. The televangelists and megachurch pastors who talk about having “your best life now” are essentially presenting a picture of God as one who panders to the particular needs and concerns of the individual. The danger is that preaching can start to do the same—even worse, that preaching becomes sidelined because each person has to have his or her particular needs and problems addressed in a specific fashion.
Luther’s approach to preaching is a refreshing riposte to this kind of narcissistic nonsense in at least two ways.
1. You're not the center of the universe
First, his application of the categories of law and gospel in his sermons captures one crucial truth: Human beings, for all of their uniqueness, are not unique in terms of their status before God. There are only two ways of approaching God: by law or by gospel. And there are only two things one can say about any human being before God: A person is under wrath or under grace. While individuals have their own histories and circumstances, their own problems and challenges, the basic problem of where to find a gracious God is the same for all, as is the answer. Thus, Luther’s sermons first of all remind us of a very important truth: We are not the center of the universe; God is. And we are not so unique that we need tailor-made personal answers to our greatest problem. The answer is always the same: God’s promise in Christ. Thus, preachers and congregants alike must understand that the most important thing one can hear on a Sunday is not some pep talk on how to have a good marriage or how to cultivate an appropriate self-image or how to raise one’s children. The most important thing is to hear what God has done in Christ and then to grasp that message by faith.
That is a great antidote to Christianity’s capitulation to particularist conceits of the contemporary culture as evidenced in the dethroning of preaching by placing it on par with, or even below, one-to-one counseling.
2. The Word of God is Powerful
Second, Luther’s theology of preaching reminds us that the Word has power in itself because it is the Word of God. Luther understood both law and gospel as possessing moral force. They expose the heart of the theologian in everyone, of course, showing every human being to be a theologian either of glory or of the cross. In the Word, each person is confronted not simply by an idea but by God himself, either as the transcendent and holy God who demands perfection and terrifies us, or as the God who has made himself weak and died on the cross that death would not have the final word over us. When this is preached, the Spirit uses it to work mighty miracles.
Technique becomes less important. Party tricks, stand-up comedy and vaudeville antics are rendered unnecessary. In fact, Luther might well have considered them a confusion of categories, an attempt to improve upon God’s work by making it into a work of our own. That in itself he would have seen as a confusion of law and gospel. Preaching is a means of grace. It is done by preachers, but only in a proximate sense. The real Word comes from God, via his servant of course—but it is not the servant who gives it its power. That is why Luther could declare the Reformation to have been nothing of his doing and simply the product of God’s Word.
Thus, Luther’s theology of the Word and preaching stands at the center of the Christian life. There in the sermon, in the move from law to gospel, the fundamental struggle of the Christian is played out every time the preacher ascends the pulpit.
But this is no mere theatrical display: As the Word is preached, the Christian is torn down by the law and built up in the gospel. Preaching is a supernatural act, and that should give great confidence and assurance to every preacher tasked with the public exposition of God’s Word. Luther’s view of the Christian life, like his view of the success of the Reformation, was rooted first and foremost in the overwhelming power of the preached Word.
In addition to serving as Pastor of Cornerstone OPC in Ambler, PA, Carl R. Trueman is Professor of Historical Theology and Church History and Paul Wooley Chair of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary. Carl has degrees from St. Catharine's College, Cambridge, MA and the University of Aberdeen, Ph.D. Carl has authored many books, including, most recently The Creedal Imperative. He also blogs regularly at Reformation21 and co-hosts the Mortification of Spin podcast. He lives in Oreland, with his wife Catriona and has two sons.
More from Carl Trueman or visit Carl at http://www.reformation21.org/carl-trueman/
|Posted on January 31, 2016 at 3:15 AM||comments (3067)|
Here I go making trouble again (for some)! As I was doing some more Biblical Research, it dawned on me, that after learning that the Apostle Peter's real name in Hebrew was Shi'mon, and not Simon, that it seemed strange to me that when looking at the Old Testament names versus the New Testament names of prominent Gospel figures, many of the New Testament names seemed very European (Matthew, Mark, John, Luke); which prompted me to dig deeper. Now granted, there was indeed a moderate Greek influence during that time (Luke was indeed a Greek,and his name was shortened), but, it seemed unlikely to me that the Jewish/Hebrews of that time would have names like the above stated. Knowing that the original Hebrew name of Jesus is Yeshua, I sought to find out the real names of the Apostles which led me to this Jewish professor's blog below. Being objective, I try to chalk it up to translation or mis-translation, but It in my mind and knowing historical events of certain people, It makes me wonder. This a very edifying read. Open your minds to the truth. Shalom!
Min. E Lionel Perry
These were the names of the Apostles: There was Simon, whom he surnamed, Peter. There were James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; he surnamed them, Boanerges, which is, the “sons of thunder.” There were also Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite.
Names are important. When someone introduces us to another, and we soon thereafter forget that person’s name, we feel somewhat embarrassed to ask, “I am sorry, but what did you say your name was?” Names are important now, and they were just as important 2000 years ago. Hence, it is appropriate to examine the names of the Apostles. Interestingly enough, the Synoptic Gospels are similar, but not identical. John’s Gospel is significantly different. Nevertheless, what I simply wish to stress here are the Hebrew names of the Apostles. Hebrew names? But of course! Jesus was a Jew and so were his Apostles.
Just as nobody called Jesus, “Jesus,” (see “Jesus or Yehoshua: What’s In a Name?” post of April 5, 2010), Jesus did not call the Apostles, “Simon” or “John.” Rather, he referred to them by their Hebrew or Aramaic names, as follows:
Simon was Shimon. James was Yakov (that is, Jacob). John was Yochanan. Bartholomew was Bar-Talmai (son of Ptolemy). Matthew was Mattityahu, meaning, “gift from God.” Thomas was Tau’ma, an Aramaic name. Thaddaeus was a variant of Theudas, which was a Grecian version of Judas or Yehuda.
Andrew and Philip are interesting because those are clearly Greek names—Andreas and Filippos; there are no Hebrew equivalents. Thus, we may surmise that Andrew and Philip were either Grecian-Jews or Grecian-Gentiles. In all probability, we may discount the theory that they were Gentiles: Jesus was a Jew who saw his mission as teaching and healing his fellow Jews. “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 15:24. It would be hard to imagine preaching to Jews while having Gentile Apostles.
Judas Iscariot was Yehuda. I will discuss Judas in the next post, along with the “sons of thunder” appellation for John and James.
Until then, as always, I welcome your comments.
Oh, and if you are interested in learning more about Judaism, you can check out my book, Every Christian's Book on Judaism: Exploring Jewish Faith and Law for a Richer Understanding of Chritianity.
|Posted on January 31, 2016 at 2:55 AM||comments (3217)|
There are more things in Heaven and Earth Horatio, then are dreamt of in your philosophy (Shakespeare's Hamlet [1.5.167-8]).
Min. E. Lionel Perry
Clay tablets reveal Babylonians discovered astronomical geometry 1,400 years before Europeans - The Washington
|Posted on January 31, 2016 at 2:45 AM||comments (5765)|
Its always interesting that as scientists keep digging, they are uncovering items that dispell what they previously had concluded. Interesting indeed.
Min. E. Lionel Perry
|Posted on January 25, 2016 at 4:45 PM||comments (3312)|
Here is the introductory message to my new series, "Real Talk". I hope that you all enjoy this series as I add more topics.
Minister E. Lionel Perry
|Posted on January 20, 2016 at 8:15 AM||comments (501)|
This is deep, and we have to appreciate the fact that God created the universe, and since we occupy such a small space in it; How great is it that He cares so much for us personally despite everything else going on. Shalom!
Min. E. E Lionel Perry
|Posted on January 20, 2016 at 8:10 AM||comments (2268)|
Ministry Moment #7
Who do you listen to?
We live in a world where we are often inundated with information about a wide variety of topics. Whereas print, radio and television communication were the dominant sources of information in the early days, we have now added numerous sources of information via social media, blogs, and extreme, biased punditry. With all of these options available, it is no wonder that many of us are confused as to who to get reliable information from, and where to turn for the truth. In the seemingly non-stop 24-hour news cycle that is filled with loud, opinionated, bloviating personalities, news and events can be distorted to reflect the views of the host or of the segment of the population whom he/she is catering to and trying to influence. If we are not careful, we can be very misled as to what is true and what is not. I’m sure everyone has heard the old adage, that there are three sides to every story; my version, your version, and the truth.
The same types of misinformation can apply to how we view the infallible Word of God when the Holy Scriptures are changed, distorted, and misinterpreted either, knowingly or unknowingly, causing us to have a questionable understanding of God’s Laws and statutes. There is no doubt that the enemy Satan, who is an absolute deceiver as explained in The Bible (John 8:44, Revelation 12:9), seeks to mislead the whole world as he is the father of Lies and as stated in Scripture, was a murderer from the beginning. Nothing delights him more than causing confusion by slandering God (Satan=slanderer) and resisting His laws and statutes (devil=resister). Corinthians 11:3 warns about us allowing the serpent to lead our minds astray as he did with Eve, and away from our sincere devotion to Christ. It is through our minds that the enemy targets us, for it is through our minds that God communicates and reveals His will to us. There are several New Testament Scriptures that speak to us renewing our minds and not becoming susceptible to the lies (Ephesians 4:17-24, Romans 12:2). We must constantly be on guard as oftentimes, the lies being told have an attractive, ear-tickling effect through music, art, and blasphemous aggrandizing, that will lead us down the road to physical and spiritual ruin. Brethren, I can write much more on this topic, but please be careful of who you listen to, and follow, hold fast to the true inspired word of the Most High God, study to show thyself approved, and stay the course to the true reward that awaits us through Christ. Shalom!
Minister E. Lionel Perry