Sunday, October 22, 2017

Sunday Post for Shepherds - Do Not Preach Man's Gospel

"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel--not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel."
Paul the Apostle, Galatians 1:6-11

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Show Up.

"80% of success in life is showing up."  
Super Trainer Tony Horton of Beachbody, 
from his welcome video associated with his YouTube channel.

I just heard Tony say this roughly 3 minutes ago. I don't believe him. But I do believe showing up is a BIG deal, particularly in his field of fitness. We can't gain much, if anything, without showing up. So I think it's worth posting, and contemplating.

On Felicity and Adverstity

   "Beware of beholding too much the felicity or misery of this world; for the consideration and earnest love or fear of either of them draweth from God. Wherefore think with yourselves, as touching the felicity of the world, it is good; but yet none otherwise than it standeth with the favour of God. It is to be kept; but yet so far forth, as by keeping of it we lose not God. It is good abiding and tarrying still among our friends here; but yet so, that we tarry not therewithal in God's displeasure, and hereafter dwell in hell with the devils in fire everlasting. There is nothing under God but may be kept, so that God, being above all things we have, be not lost. 
   Of adversity judge the same. Imprisonment is painful; but yet liberty upon evil conditions is more painful. The prisons stink, but yet not so much as sweet houses where the fear and true honour of God lacketh. I must be alone and solitary; it is better so to be, and have God with me, than to be in company with the wicked. Loss of goods is great; but loss of God's grace and favour is greater. . . . It is better to make answer before the pomp and pride of wicked men than to stand naked in the sight of all heaven and earth before the just God at the latter day. I shall die by the hands of the cruel man; he is blessed that loseth this life, full of mortal miseries, and findeth the life full of eternal joys. It is pain and grief to depart from goods and friends, but yet not so much as to depart from grace and heaven itself. Wherefore there is neither felicity nor adversity of this world that can appear to be great, if it be weighed with the joys or pains in the world to come."

Reformer and Martyr John Hooper , Bishop of Gloucester, in a letter penned on January 21, 1555 from inside Queen Mary's prison, shortly before he was burned to death on February 9.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

To the Christian Rich - Your Sister Sodom

"Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it."
The LORD God, Ezekiel 16:49-50

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

God Works Down in the Dust of History

"The Reformation in fact, 
can best be conceived not in abstraction, 
but down in the dust of history."
Ryan Reeves, Tabletalk Magazine, October 2017 Edition, page 22 

This is yet another reason to read church history; because the more familiar we become with God's past activity among His people the more we chop away at the abstraction.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Myth of Free Will

"By the lives of all men from the beginning of the world, 
nothing whatever has been disclosed that favors 'free will.'"  
Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will, the Revell Edition, page 136

Friday, October 13, 2017

To the Christian Rich - Your Number is Exceedingly Large, and Exceedingly Small

Significant time has passed since I first began pursuing the Christian Rich. I suppose it's time to define my terms. When I say "Christian Rich," I don't mean millionaires only. I mean something closer to what perhaps the Bible means. I mean those of you who have significantly more income (and normally possessions) than you need. I mean those who, when you think about money, it is largely a contemplation regarding your next purchase or investment. It is not about how you will make the house payment, fuel your vehicle, keep your utility services, secure a haircut, or stock your pantry. I mean those of you who could give away much more money than you do, and even sell some of your possessions to generate more cash, and your lifestyle would not change significantly. I mean those of you who continue to stockpile wealth and stuff while giving the bare minimum (if that), and measure your generosity not by what you have left over after you give, but by whether you meet the basic 10% standard. And hey, 10% is commendable. I'm for 10%. But finding yourself in a position to do so much more, perhaps you should. Yes, you should. Fight greed - give. Relieve suffering - give. Be a blessing - give. Be generous - give. Love the poor - give. Change lives - give. Be an answer to prayer - give. Consider others more significant than yourself - give. Be courageous - give. Live with eternity in mind - give. Trust Jesus -give.

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,

“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
    his righteousness endures forever.”

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
2 Corinthians 9:6-15

This text is particularly instructive because in it the Apostle Paul is not dealing with the tithe. He is writing of contributing to an offering he is collecting to relieve the poor believers in Jerusalem. I think he means for the Corinthians to tithe and add to his collection. The way Paul talks here about giving money is not the way the tithe is taught elsewhere. Some argue that Paul is describing the New Covenant way of giving, that the tithe is obsolete after the resurrection of Jesus. To write on why I think that's wrong would take many pages which no one would read. So suffice it to say I see two different kinds of giving in both Testaments - tithing and then other gifts. Second Corinthians 8 & 9 describe, I think, reasons and ways to give offerings (though I do believe giving your tithe to relieve the poor is also acceptable).  

Every believer is required to tithe, and then should offer other gifts, though the demand is not quite the same. Those of you with wealth, just imagine, together, out loud, with your family around the dinner table, the extravagant good and relief and hope and help and transformation and joy and love you can provide, if you would only open your hearts, and then your hands. I assume almost none of you will. But if I can move just one, my efforts will not have been wasted.

By the way, if by "rich" I meant only the millionaires, I would not write to the "Christian" ones, because I'm not sure there are any of them.