Friday, June 07, 2013

Great Book on Education: Wisdom and Eloquence by Littlejohn and Evans. 

Buy it from Amazon here!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Our Conditions for Seeking God vs. Jesus’ Conditions for Discipleship

“I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.
Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep,
but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk
…or a snooze in the sunshine…
I want ecstasy, not transformation.
I want warmth of the womb, not a new birth.
I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack.
I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.”
— Wilbur Rees

I heard this 18 years ago from a sermon by Joe Novenson and it haunted me for the church then. My sense of concern has only grown since then. But as one of my friends has sad: “Sadly, I think this is the outline for some who are “hunting” for a church today.” While our hearts are pre-programmed to pursue the Kingdom of self, the church has over the last 30 years conditioned people that this should be their list to look for in a church, rather than to seek to cure by going to an all-in, discipleship-minded church.

I would urge you don’t waste your life on the Kingdom of self….don’t waste your opportunity for discipleship as part of the church by going to a Waste-Your-Life church. Find one that will help to propel you whole-heartedly towards Christ and that you can join hands with propelling others to this end that alone satisfies the hungers of our hearts (John 6:35).

Whole-hearted discipleship is the only real option for those who truly belong to Christ:

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.

So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” Jesus (Luke 14:26-33)

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Texas Tilsens in Cajun Country: Why I'm grateful today

This explains a lot about our church... The Tilsens are moving due to job changes... but I wanted to post this before I forget about the encouragement. We will deeply miss Emily, Lucas, Aiden, and Balin!

Texas Tilsens in Cajun Country: Why I'm grateful today

Saturday, July 25, 2009

An Essential Mark of a Sound Conversion

An Essential Mark of a Sound Conversion by Joseph Alleine

"We turn from our own RIGHTEOUSNESS. Before conversion, man seeks to cover himself with his own fig-leaves, and to make himself acceptable with God, by his own duties....

An Essential Mark of a Sound Conversion

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Radical Calling of Jesus

Sometimes I (along with most of the church) tend to severely discount what Jesus says in the Gospels. But if we actually listen to Him, what Jesus says is so radical:

Luke 9:22 "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day."
23 And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.
24 "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.

Thankfully, we see that Jesus doesn't call us to anything that He Himself has not already committed to. His Cross (death) is even more radical than our cross/death to self. But nonetheless, He is calling us to utterly lay our lives down in following Him. This message has been muted or forsaken by so much of my evangelical brothers today, but Paul said that this is the very purpose for which Christ died: "Christ died...that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised." 2 Cor. 5:15

As Augustine said: "We want to reach the Kingdom of God, but we don't want to travel by way of death. And yet, there stands necessity saying: 'this way please.' Do not hesitate, man, to go this way, when this is the way God came to you."

As if that were not enough, Jesus goes further...

Luke 14:26 "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.
27 "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple....
33 "So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not renounce all his own possessions.
34 "Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned?
35 "It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

If we follow Him, we must renounce all our possessions, we must even renounce our parents if that gets in the way of following Him, OR ELSE, we CANNOT be HIS DISCIPLE. What does that say about so many in the church today? Who are His disciples?

And if we are not willing to renounce our lives, stuff, and even family, we will become like tasteless salt that is "useless". Oh, that we would begin to grasp the wondrous work of substitution that Christ did on the Cross, that we might truly rest in Him in such a way that would propel us to deny ourselves and all we once held dear in order to whole-heartedly follow Him.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

True Christianity: A Quote from almost 300 years ago

The other day I was re-reading Richard Lovelace's Dynamics of Spiritual Renewal (I will be highlighting things I'm learning from this over the coming months) and found some quotes by a Pietist pastor from nearly 300 years ago (1712). So I went to the source and discovered a treasure: Anthony William Boehm's Introduction to the English translation of John Ardnt's True Christianity. [I am not all that impressed with Ardnt's book, for it is marked too heavily by the great weaknesses of the Pietist approach (namely, an overly-individualized Christianity), but Boehm's Intro comments are golden.]

Here are a few:

"true Christianity is, to be principally concerned with the essentials and substantials of religion; such as is the great work of faith and of the new birth, with the rest of the Christian virtues freely accompanying it, as resignation, mortification, imitation of CHRIST, self-abnegation, contrition, and others relating to the inward principle of grace, and its various motions and operations"

In other words, Biblical Christianity focuses on the centrality of the Gospel and the chief fruits that always flow from the Gospel.

But he continues: "but false Christianity is chiefly, if not only, busy about the ceremonial part, and some accessory and circumstantial points. It brings forth every age new schemes, new’ models, new projects-of religion. And hence it is, that what religion produces now, is often contrary to what it is designed to produce, and to what it brought forth actually, when it first came to be known among men."

In other words, the fake version of Christianity is caught up into the ceremonies of the faith or controversial tangents that are exciting for the moment but can easily distract us from the Glory of Christ and the immeasurable beauty and depth of the Gospel. False Christianity focuses on new schemes, models, and projects. That this was written almost 300 years ago is amazing, because this describes Evangelical Christianity over the past 50 years and especially today. Virtually all churches are so into finding the newest scheme, model, or project that will be the solution to fixing the church and especially to igniting church growth. Meanwhile, Christ and His Person and Work get left in the shadows. And necessarily, true Christian growth (real sanctification) and the radically sacrificial life of Faith is by-passed. By focusing on diversions, this imitation of Biblical Christianity prolongs immaturity and keeps people away from Christ rather than leading them to Him (even though the schemes, models, and projects may have actually led people to Jesus initially, but once they become the focus, Christ becomes an afterthought). We see this profoundly played out in the book of Colossians. This is why Paul calls them back to the wonders of Christ and the true Christian life, which is rooted in Him who is the Treasure of all wisdom and understanding.

"false Christian is apt to lean on an outward compliance with some set duties and modes of worship".

This danger includes looking to both aesthetically-moving high liturgy and emotionally-moving contemporary forms of worship to be what gives life. [Worship should be both aesthetically & emotionally moving, but these are not to be what gives worship life.]

"True Christianity requires that the word of the gospel, as the ordinary means of man's recovery, should become an ingrafted word; a word mixed with faith in the hearer; that so it may be able to save the soul"

The life giving source for us is the Gospel that looks to Christ for life both initially and as we seek to grow.

Col 2:6-10a "Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete"

Saturday, August 19, 2006

More from Boehm on True Christianity

"Real piety and true practical Christianity has been all along an unwelcome guest in all ages, in all parties and denominations, in all states of Christendom: and men, however they pretend to honour it, have found out a way to keep its power and energy at a convenient distance not caring to be too nearly acquainted with a religion, whose main scope is to matter the corrupt bent and bias of nature, and to bring the will of men into an entire compliance with the will of God."

Again we see this sadly played out in epidemic proportions in the church today.

Note: I reposted these Boehm quotes so that they can be followed more easily and in sequence on my blog.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Boehm Quotes #3

"6. It is true, abundance of dead works of the Papists, which vulgar eyes admired in those days, have been laid aside by Protestants: but is not our dead faith, which too many have raised instead thereof, as empty a thing as their deal works? Where is that compunction and brokenness of heart, that poverty in spirit, that humility, those internal breathings, longings, and desires after Christ the author of salvation? Where is that inward knowledge and sense of the spirituality of the law, and that sorrow, grief, and anxiety of heart attending the experimental knowledge of our apostasy from God? And yet all this must needs proceed the practical application of the doctrine of faith, if ever the latter shall leave a saving change upon the mind, and prove a shelter in the day of wrath, and a stay in the storm of temptation. For all these acts of humiliation are comprehended in the drawing of the Father, which is the forerunning dispensation of the law, whereby the soul, as by a school master is brought at last unto Christ, to be justified by faith. No sooner does she come to believe in Christ. but she is thereby removed from that stock which is wild by nature. and is in grafted into Christ the true vine, in whom she now lives like a branch, and brings forth much fruit.

7. But where are those fruits which must unavoidably follow the doctrine of faith if duly applied by a returning sinner? Where are those sweet emanations and rivers of living water, which will readily flow, and often gush forth from the believer, though there were never a law to compel them? Where is that mortification of the deeds of the flesh, together with the succeeding newness of life? Where is that new creature, that patient resignation and submission to the will of God in his disposals of us? Where is that love of God shed abroad in the heart, and those other heavenly virtues and fruits of the Spirit springing up from the principle of faith as from a divine seed lodged within the soul? Are not these weighty and practical doctrines of true Christianity, both as they precede and follow the settlement of a divine faith, if not quite lost, yet despised, neglected, silenced among~ Protestants in this degenerate age?"

(19.) indeed many left the Pope, but never came to Christ. They cast away the more notorious prejudices, but took up more refined ones, and never received the love to truth, or any inward principle of grace.

(20.) As they were very dry, so everything seemed dead and destitute of a principle of life in the times of popery. Not as if there had been no Saviour at all, but because there were too many. It seems the guides and governors felt in themselves a secret conviction of the deplorable deadness and emptiness of that church, and for this reason contrived abundance human helps, means, inventions, thereby to amuse the ignorant, and to supply the place of a living Christ and Saviour. But all this would not do. The bones continued dead and dry. At last the work of reformation began. Christ is preached up as the fountain of life, to wash away the sin and uncleanness of the world.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Boehm on How Sectarianism Often Replaces Gospel Christianity

"8. The doctrine of faith itself has fared no better. Faith, as it is now in vogue, signifies no more than a firm adhering to a certain sect and denomination of people, and a violent maintaining of such particular tenets as have been received and approved by that party. All the ingredients of such a faith are nothing but human education, custom, tradition, persuasion, conversation. The zeal which goes along with it is entirely the effect of self-love and off corrupt reason, the two great framers of sects and party-notions….This faith is handed down from one generation to the other; one friend persuading the other into the fame notional belief, and parents leaving it to their children, by way of inheritance….Thus is faith, which, according to its primitive standard of scriptural signification, is entirely a creation of God, made a work and persuasion of men, and a traditional business, without so much as one ray of true gospel-light shining into the heart."

"12. The enemy of souls is always busy to obstruct such endeavours as have a direct tendency to the promoting of true faith and religion. This doth plainly appear from the conduct of those who succeeded indeed the first reformers; but did not labor so much to express their inward life and spirit, as tolerably to keep up to outward form, scheme and model by them raised. This has been in all ages one of the sources of corruption. Many have presumed to value themselves and their way of worship, upon a scheme of religion introduced by some apostolical and eminent men, without stirring up in themselves, a spirit of holy emulation, whereby to answer not only the external formality, but the inward zeal also, the love, wisdom, indefatigable diligence, and, other divine characters which rendered their predecessors so conspicuous in their time. But what else can be expected from so dangerous a mismanagement of the work of reformation, but a piece of self-Christianity, consisting in a naked profession of some particular tenets and opinions of men?"

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Boehm Quotes #5

"9. …. True faith, whenever it is seated in the mind, brings forth works suitable to its inward impulse and constitution. These are termed good works, fruits of righteousness, fruits of the Spirit, rivers of living water ; because they are brought forth by a believer as freely as a good tree yields its fruits, and a plentiful fountain its water. The true Christian is constantly employed about doing good, and laying out what he has received"

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Nature of True Faith from Luther in Boehm

"Quote from Luther in Boehm’s intro to Ardnt:
(10.) " Many, (says he) when they hear the gospel, frame unto themselves a thought, which says, I believe. This thought of theirs being excited by their own strength, is counted by them true faith: Whereas it is their own fiction and cogitation leaving no experimental impression at all upon the heart. And as it is but a human business, so it is not followed neither be any good work, nor amendment of life. But true faith is a divine work within us, whereby we are changed and born anew of God. It mortifies the old Adam, and makes us quite other men, in heart, in mind, in temper, and in all the faculties of our soul, bringing along with it the Holy Spirit of God. 0h, it is certainly a lively, active, operative, and mighty work to have faith! So that it is altogether impossible for it, not to be constantly employed about some good thing or other. Nor doth faith ask a while, whether one ought to do good works; for it hath done them before one can ask, and is continually employed about doing. He therefore who is destitute of such works, is for certain a faithless man or downright unbeliever. "