Thursday, March 25, 2010

How to Become an Effective Christian

"For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:5-8).

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Evil Desires of Youth May Not Be What You Think

This is a passage from The Strength of a Man by David Roper. The Scripture quotations are from the New International Version of the Bible. His books are available from Discovery House Publishers at

"Most of us are biblically educated beyond our character, perhaps because we confuse the means with the end. We falsely assume that the purpose of Bible study is mere learning, a fallacy particularly characteristic of those of us who take the Bible straight.

"But mere orthodoxy is never enough. Even the demons are orthodox (James 2:19). They study the Bible too. They make their own prophetic charts and draw their own theological lines, but the Book doesn't alter their behavior. They're devilish to the end.

"In Paul's second letter to Timothy, he encouraged his young friend to be an approved workman 'who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth' (2 Timothy 2:15).

"The word here translated 'who correctly handles' means 'one who goes for a goal.' Classical Greek writers used the word of road builders who cut their way straight through a forest to a predetermined location. The Septuagint (the first Greek translation of the Old Testament) used the word in the last phrase of Proverbs 3:6. 'In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight (direct you to the goal)."

"Paul contrasted good Bible study with the flawed methods of those who were 'quarreling about words,' which he said, 'is of no value, and only ruins those who listen' (2:14). Further, 'godless chatter'--mere discussion of the Bible without the goal of godliness--will make one become 'more and more ungodly' (2:16). Ironically, God's Word, when misused, can make us less and less like God!

"Paul therefore warns Timothy to 'flee the evil desires of youth' (2:22), a command that in context has little or nothing to do with youthful sexual desires. Paul rather had in mind the wrong-headed passion of the young and the immature to argue about meaning--'word-fight' is the term he coins. Those who mishandle God's Word in this way are workmen who ought to be ashamed.

"Instead of arguing about meaning, Timothy was to 'pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart' (2:22). In other words, he was to seek God and his goodness through the Book. To do so is to handle the Word correctly--to go straight to the goal.

"The purpose of Bible study is clear. It ought to produce worship and make us more and more like our Lord. To the extent that we read the Scriptures for that reason our Bible reading is valid; to the extent that we do not, it's nonproductive. Worse, it's counterproductive, making us less and less like our Lord. Thus the hymnist prayed:

"Beyond the sacred page, I seek Thee, Lord,
My spirit pants for Thee, O living Word."

(Pages 70-71)

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Difference A Bible Can Make

In the English edition of the communist China Daily a few days ago, a Christian college student in China tells the story of his conversion to Jesus Christ (

In the article, the young man says that he became a believer after he started reading a Bible which was given to him by a friend.

The Bible can change a life when it falls into the right hands, the hands of someone prepared by the Spirit of God to receive it.

If you have ever given away a Bible or donated to an organization that sends Bibles to others, you have provided someone with an important tool in finding God, finding one's purpose in life, and finding wisdom for living. Keep sharing. It can make a great difference in someone's life.

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

(Thanks to the Desiring God blog for alerting me to the link to the news story.)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Why Do Unbelieving Preachers Stay in Ministry?

Albert Mohler has an interesting post on atheistic ministers at A few unbelieving ministers who continue to serve in ministry explain their motives. It may not be surprising, but it is interesting to read.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Appeal of the New Calvinism

A year ago, TIME Magazine recognized the new Calvinism as one of the top ten ideas shaping the world (,28804,1884779_1884782_1884760,00.html).

Why are the new Calvinists making such an impact on the world?

1. New Calvinists embrace the view of a powerful God. They understand God to be all-knowing and all-powerful. He is a God who is not surprised. He is a God who is in control. He is a God who can be trusted when one is facing trouble beyond his own control. We may be surprised at a job loss or a diagnosis of cancer, but God is not. We may not be able to handle our problems, but God is. When everything goes wrong in our lives, we can trust the One in control to do the right thing (even when it is the hard thing).

2. New Calvinists embrace the view of a flawed humanity. They understand that people are sinners. They know that people need a Savior, because although we may not be as bad as we could be, we are nowhere near as good as we need to be. We have been tainted with a pride and selfishness that ruins our hopes of being who we know we should be.

3. New Calvinists embrace the reality of sin and its consequences. They understand that they are sinners deserving of hell and undeserving of heaven.

4. New Calvinists embrace the need for God's grace in Christ. They understand that their only hope is in what Jesus Christ did for them on the cross. They know that Christ died in their place, taking on their sins and appeasing the wrath of God, so that they may live in a right relationship with God forever.

5. New Calvinists embrace the Scriptures as God's inerrant word. They understand that the Bible is trustworthy because God is trustworthy. Since the Lord is neither incompetent nor dishonest, they know that they can trust his message to them.

6. New Calvinists embrace the distinctions between men and women. They understand that God created all people in his image, but that he made men and women to complement each other. In an age of gender confusion, they acknowledge that men and women are different and that such differences are good and healthy.

7. New Calvinists embrace the glory of God. They are obsessed with bringing glory to God rather than to themselves.

The new Calvinists are counter-cultural, but culturally engaged; and in many ways, their counter-cultural views make them more appealing in the culture. They offer something solid and stable to a generation without much stability.

Monday, March 15, 2010

George Washington Carver National Monument

Christopher outside the George Washington Carver National Monument

A couple of days ago, we took a short trip to Diamond, Missouri in order to see the George Washington Carver National Monument. It's a nice little museum on the property of Dr. Carver's birthplace.
This is my favorite quote from Dr. Carver:
"How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life, you will have been all of these."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Respectable and Godly Man

A few weeks ago, I heard someone mention that Proverbs 31 is the text commonly used when one teaches about the qualities of a godly woman, and that Job 29 should be the text commonly used when one teaches about the qualities of a godly man. I don't remember who made that point, but it was a good one.

Job 29 describes the characteristics of a man who received high praise from God himself. The Lord said of Job, "(T)here is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil" (Job 1:8).

What would prompt God to say such a thing about a man? Consider Job's description of his life at the time the Lord made those comments:

"...I delivered the poor who cried out for help,
and the fatherless who had none to help him.
The blessing of him who was about to perish came upon me,
and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy.
I put on righteousness, and it clothed me;
my justice was like a robe and a turban.
I was eyes to the blind
and feet to the lame.
I was a father to the needy,
and I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know.
I broke the fangs of the unrighteous
and made him drop his prey from his teeth...
Men listened to me and waited
and kept silence for my counsel.
After I spoke they did not speak again,
and my word dropped upon them.
They waited for me as for the rain,
and they opened their mouths as for the spring rain.
I smiled on them when they had no confidence,
and the light of my face they did not cast down" (Job 29:12-17, 21-24).

Job cared about the poor, the orphans, and the widows. He helped and encouraged the oppressed. He was consumed with pursuing a right relationship with God and with those around him. He aided the disabled, and actively sought out those who needed his help. He did not back down from a fight against those who would take advantage of others. He was a formidable foe to those who would harm the innocent and the vulnerable. When he spoke, his words were simultaneously weighty and encouraging.

In many ways, Job (like Christ himself) is the model of biblical manhood. The world needs more men like Job.

My goal is to be more like him, too.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

"Mockers" by Warren Baldwin

I discovered Warren Baldwin's blogs a few months ago. He quickly became one of my favorite bloggers. Check out to see a sample of his great work.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

God Treats Me Far Better Than I Deserve

"...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).

"(God) makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:45).

"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience--among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved--and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one my boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:1-10).

"For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:1-7).

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Passing the Torch

At, Paula Harrington wrote a touching tribute to her father's influence in her life. Then, she asked readers to write a "Passing the Torch" post about ministers or teachers who have made a positive impact in their lives. This is my attempt to meet her challenge.

I grew up attending Sunday school and worship services. When I was young, my parents were at church services every time the doors were open. They read Bible stories to me and my younger sister. They prayed before every meal. As an early elementary-age child, I remember my dad walking down an aisle at a church meeting in Inola, Oklahoma to be baptized. Our family helped start a small congregation east of Catoosa in the late 1970s. Before we had a church building, the congregation met in various homes...sometimes in our home. I had the advantage early in life of parents who taught me about Jesus. They instilled within me a respect for God and his word that stays with me to this day.

However, I did not become a Christian as early as one might have expected. At the age of 12 or 13, my parents divorced. My mother did not go to church anymore. My father would take my sister and me to worship services on Sunday mornings for the next few years (until I was old enough to drive), but Christianity was no longer a central part of our lives. I became the typical self-centered teenager. I had a Christian background, but I knew for certain that I was not a follower of Christ. I really was not interested.

Eventually, God captured my attention. Several key events occurred that changed the direction of my life. Someday, I may write more about those events, but today I will focus on one: John Hurn became the preacher for the small congregation that my family helped start. John was a different preacher than others I had heard. He was not a professional. He was a high school science teacher with a doctorate. In his spare time, he preached for small churches that could not afford to pay a professional preacher.

However, his secular job did not impress me. I was truly impressed with his Christian character. He would preach the Bible with concern and kindness. He wanted to be "conservative in doctrine and liberal in love" (as he once told me); and he achieved his goals. He would laugh and enjoy life like no minister I had ever encountered. He made Christianity more attractive to me than any preacher I had ever known.

At the age of 17, I could not resist the urge any longer. In large part due to John Hurn's influence, I placed my faith in Christ and turned to him for the forgiveness and hope I needed. On August 18, 1985, John Hurn baptized me in the name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Today, the influence of my parents and John Hurn remain with me. I continue to follow the early example of my parents in raising my son. Like them, I have also been involved in the start of a new congregation. Like John, I have attempted to enjoy life, to be kind to others, and to be "conservative in doctrine and liberal in love." I may not always live up to their standards, but their examples are constantly before me.

(On a side note, my mother returned to following Jesus after being away from him for 13 years. She continues to live for Christ today...17 years after returning to the Lord.)