I’ll never be a Paul…

I’ve heard this over the years spoken by believers smothered by their weakness and oppressed by not only the world, by well intended but misguided fellow believers as well.

We are far more like Paul than we ever allow ourselves to realize.

  • When you stand for Christ, despite the sway of your family’s religious history.
  • When you seek to follow Christ, even though you were obstinate and slow to walk with him.
  • When you speak of Christ, even when it feels like you are alone.

At some point we allow the devil to chip away at our faith, lying to ourselves that personal perfection is the goal. It’s not, but in Christ we can be made perfect…

Stop letting your faith be shipwrecked, You are Paul, you are Moses, You are Abraham… they too were just as we are, men. They let their faith in God work with whatever and whomever they were to be whom God needed. So should we.

P.W. Martin

Gay Practice and that Pagan Context, By Doy Moyer

As the case for gay marriage continues to ramp up, we may wonder how those who are claiming to be Christians, but who also are advocating gay marriage, can actually believe that the Bible supports their views. We often hear that Jesus never said anything to condemn it. They seem to miss the fact that Jesus argued for marriage “from the beginning,” and that this was rooted in the creation of male and female (Matt. 19:4-6). He didn’t have to specifically condemn what the Law had clearly condemned in no uncertain terms.

However, the argument we are hearing even more is that the those passages that unequivocally condemn gay practice are in a pagan context and associated with the ancient idolatrous culture. These weren’t God-fearing gays who were in a loving and committed relationship, you see. These were pagans involved in ritualistic prostitution, and that, they would agree, is wrong.

We seem to argue, “that was just their culture,” for just about everything these days. The problem with this argument, though, connected to the passages that condemn the behavior, is that, as the saying goes, it proves too much. If it’s all based on a pagan context, then what about the other items condemned in the very same context?

In Romans 1, for example, Paul not only condemns “men with men” and “women with women,” he also condemns unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil, envy, slander, haters of God, the insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, being disobedient to parents, without understanding, the untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful.

Why isn’t anyone arguing that these are also in a pagan context, so as long as we take it out of that context, it is perfectly fine to be greedy, envious, and slanderous? As long as it’s not in a pagan cultural context, we can be insolent, boastful, arrogant, and disobedient to parents? In a different culture, it’s okay to be untrustworthy and unmerciful.

It’s the same context, and honesty demands consistency.

Further, the way Paul makes his argument is not just grounded in a pagan context, but it is grounded in creation. Paganism is a sign that people have forgotten the Creator, so they worship the creature. The reason they are doing what is indecent is because they have lost sight of God as the Creator, who alone has the right to determine proper relationships. Marriage doesn’t change the condemnation of “men with men” or “women with women” doing what is unnatural.

Let’s take 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. While pagan practices were certainly a part of the culture, bear in mind that in the very same context that gay practice is condemned, so is the practice of fornication, idolatry, adultery, thievery, covetousness, drunkenness, reviling, and swindling. Would anyone care to argue that as long as it is removed from the pagan context, it would be okay to practice adultery, thievery, and drunkenness? Why do they only pick out what has to do with gay practice to say these are just based in culture, while ignoring the rest?

One could just as well argue that Paul’s argument against fornication in the same chapter (1 Cor. 6:14-20) is based on ritualistic prostitution, so once we get away from that kind of context, it would be okay to practice fornication.

The same can be said for 1 Timothy 1:8-11. Those who practice homosexuality are right there in the middle of the unholy, profane, those who kill their fathers and mothers, kidnappers, liars, and perjurers. Who looks at that context and says, “Well, that’s just pagan culture, so in a different culture being a kidnapper would be okay”?

Taking any of these things out of a pagan cultural context doesn’t change the nature of the sin, nor does it change the consequences.

Let’s also recall that pagan practices are rooted in forgetting God as the Creator to worship the creature, as Romans 1 makes clear. When we understand that marriage is founded upon God as the Creator, and we see how God established marriage from the beginning, then we cannot argue that God ever intended anything other than male and female cleaving to each other, suitable to each other, becoming one flesh with each other.

When we ignore what is rooted in creation, with God as Creator, and begin to change the fundamental nature of God’s expressed intentions, then we have indeed become worshipers of the creature rather than the Creator.

Perhaps we are still in that pagan culture after all.

Note: I know that just as sure I post this, we will hear, “but we have to hate the sin and love the sinner.” Indeed, and loving the sinner includes a call to repentance for all of us. Notice, also, that I’m talking about the practice, not an identity. We cannot ignore what practicing any of these things in these contexts, pagan or otherwise, will do to our souls.

 

Apologetics and Ecclesiastes, By Doy Moyer

“Vanity of vanities,” says the preacher. All is vanity.

How can life seem any less meaningful? “What advantage does man have in all his work which he does under the sun?” Everything just keeps happening over and over. One generation comes, another goes, and the cycle of life starts over. “All things are wearisome…”

But Koheleth was determined to find meaning in life. He sought out many avenues through which he thought he might find happiness. He tried wisdom, only to discover that “in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain.”

He tried pleasure. He withheld nothing that he desired from himself. Yet, at the end of the day, he realized that it was “vanity and striving after wind.” There was “no profit under the sun.”

He looked at the world and saw oppression, ugliness, grief, and death. Riches did not live up to its deceitful promises: “The sleep of the working man is pleasant, whether he eats little or much; but the full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep.” Power is not what it is cracked up to be. In the end, whether a person is rich, poor, good, bad, or anything else, we all end up going back to the dust. As is the fool, so is the wise man.

Looking at life from such an earthly perspective can lead to terrible despair. Koheleth looked at it all; he tried it all. He found nothing ultimately satisfying or meaningful – until he turned back to God.

Once this life is over, there is no coming back: “they no longer have a share in all that is done under the sun.” From the outside, it appears that man and beast are the same; they both die just the same and it seems as though there is nothing else. As far as an earthly existence, this is true. However, it is there where the likeness ends. What we cannot see with our eyes is that we have souls that do continue beyond the body. And it is this understanding that affects our grasp of the meaning of life.

“The conclusion, when all has been heard is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”

Knowing that God gives us life both physically and spiritually helps us to better appreciate our existence on this earth. Through God, we can learn to enjoy the simple things of life: the eating and fruit of our labors. We can engage in our activities with a cheerful heart, putting away the grief and anger that characterizes those who have no sense of purpose. It is crucial to remember our Creator if we are going to appreciate and enjoy life here and now.

The apologetic value of the book of Ecclesiastes is as relevant today as it was when it was first written. People are still searching for meaning. They try all the avenues available to them: knowledge, riches, power, pleasure, and anything else they can think of. But they still come up empty-handed. It is when they turn to God that they finally realize that life is not just about the “here and now.” It is about that which cannot be seen. It is about God. It is about our souls.

One day we will go to our eternal home. We will face the judgment of God. Will your life on earth have meant something then? Or will it have been a hopeless chase after meaning and value only to find that nothing makes sense apart from God?

Doy Moyer – doy@dmoyer.com

Have a great day

So, after dropping the kids off at their schools this morning, I needed to send a a text message. Siri and I normally can sort this out, but we have been having communication issues lately. No problem there is a McD’s on corner, I’ll stop there hash out the message and be safely on my way. In front of me a driver missed the turn into the Drive Up lane, so I dutifully paused and let them back up, and join the folks waiting in line.

I was poised to maneuver through the sea of cars at this point to my open spot when a gentleman in a red truck whipped up along side me. He was close enough that he was tapping on my window. I was concerned that maybe this good Samaritan had a pressing issue that involved me (like hey did you know your car is on FIRE). So I rolled down the window… at which point I was now listening to the long list of ways  I was of poor parentage, had made the worst life choices ever known to mankind, and was apparently the worst person ever.

You see while allowing that person to get back in line, I had (unbeknownst to me) blocked his departure from his parking slot. I am unaware of this shift in parking lot etiquette. I live the flow of the traffic law (and so does the rest of the world too). Wherein those who enter the flow are responsible for finding a spot to be part of the flow.

I responded with a quick, hey, Have a Great Day! and rolled that window back up. At this point since I was basically in line already it made perfect sense to get a Egg McMuffin sandwich. So with that in hand I proceed to a spot, sent off my message and was on my way. (I also got to say hey to my friend JT as well, so that a plus too)

SONY DSC

The cynic might point out that no good deed goes unpunished, for had I not let that other car back in, this would have never happened… but I’ll add this.

I’m just glad was there for him to vent to. Perhaps letting off some steam toward me will help the rest of his day. Oh, and grumpy truck dude, when I offer up prayers on the behalf of myself and others today, you’ll be on the list, I hope that great and wonderful things accompany your future.

 

6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 1:6 (NASB95)

The Problem of Private Lust by Connie Adams

Lust has gone public in America. No subject is too delicate for a television or movie script. Pornography is big business. Absolutely nothing is left to the imagination. Yet, this business would utterly fail were it not for the fact that it feeds the private yearnings of corrupted hearts. It is from this private cesspool of defilement that this flowing well of licentiousness comes. Polluted minds demand a diet of contamination to gratify illicit hunger. This creates a climate in which the problem only feeds itself.

No man ever rises above the quality of his own mind. One cannot be more perverse than his heart allows him to be. Conversely, pure and noble words and deeds first proceed from hearts that are pure and noble. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).

The potentiality of private lust was recognized by Jesus when He said, “Whoso looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). In this context Jesus not only condemned the act of adultery, but also the progressions of thought which culminate in this forbidden act. It is not wrong to recognize beauty. Some have a charm and grace which is at once attractive and appealing. But it is a far different thing to allow the mind to descend to the level of fantasizing about sexual relations with one we have found to be appealing. So then, the heart must keep a distinction between admiration and lust. It is in the heart that reserves are broken down and that schemes are devised to gain attention, then seduce the one who become the object of our obsession. Adultery committed in the heart, but which proceeds no farther, may not have the frightful consequences which the overt act does – – but it is still an affront to God and destructive to the character of the one who entertains it. Recognition of the wrong and repentance are surely required.

The problem is pervasive in our society. Many streams strive to erode a channel into our hearts to pervert them. Modern television programming, to say nothing of the movie industry, grind out a continual stream of coarseness, vulgarity, sexual innuendo and compromising scenes which could wear down the best defenses of the most godly were these allowed constant entry into the mind. The print media carry reports which often titillate the senses. Even television news programming often resorts to this device, I suppose to add what is conceived to be “spice” to an otherwise dry business. The music of our time, with incessant beat, preaches moral permissiveness and does much to break down convictions and moral reserves. Perhaps the two worst offenders in this area are today’s rock and country-western music. The lyrics are not even subtle. They are brazen. How can any of us listen repeatedly to such lyrics without being affected to some degree?

What about pornography? Is it nobody’s business what a person reads or views in hisown home? Should he have the Playboy channel hooked up to his cable TV? First, those who defend such right are the losers because they defile and debauch their own hearts to the destruction of their souls. Next, they contribute to a sordid business which promotes vice of every kind. Then, they run the risk of reaching a point where they cannot separate fact from fantasy and that can lead to criminal action. Unrealistic expectations develop which create disillusionment between spouses. The price for gratification of mental lust can become very expensive.

The divine mandate to “flee fornication” (1 Cor. 6:18) must surely include flight from whatever channels of thought might lead us to this tragedy. We must not be filthy dreamers” (Jude 8) with defiled minds. In contrast to that, “Unto the pure all things are pure” (Titus 1:15). It is not enough to root out impurity of thought. These must be replaced with that which is decent, ennobling, gracious, uplifting and pure. “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22). Whatsoever things are…pure…lovely…of good report…think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

Ultimately, the victory over private lust is bound up in the admonition of Paul to bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:5). Christ must not only be Lord of my external conduct; He must rule my mind. “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Rom 8:6). Paul wrote, “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (Rom 7:23). Folks, this is a war we must win. Shall private lusts conquer us, or shall we bring our thoughts into captivity to our Lord Jesus Christ?

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14). “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God” (Psalm 42:1).

Indeed, “a mind is a terrible thing to waste!” It was God’s purpose to put His law into our hearts and write His precepts in our minds (Heb 10:16). When the mind is so filled withthe knowledge of truth and right, then whatever thought-form is inconsistent with that divine system is rejected as repulsive. It cannot grow in unprepared soil. The antidote to private lust is a constantly growing knowledge of the will of God accompanied by an active life of service in which the fruits of righteousness may be seen by others.

Three “keeping it real” reasons why I won’t be seeing “American Sniper” in the theaters

1. As a busy father of 3 active kids, with a full time work, active lifestyle and the normal family life… Ask me how many movies I see in a year?  At the theater… We’re talking 1-3 on average… with 2 of them being something that all the family will enjoy.

2. I read the book, and books are always better. (no disrespect to what I have heard about the cinematography, directing or acting of this piece, but I am a book nerd. I also listened to Brandon Webb (who ran the training program that produced men like Chris) speak extensively about how inaccurate that segment the film is.

3. And really, is it a surprise that an “R” rated film is full of something worldly? As my friend Seth McDonald aptly noted the prodigious use of the “F” word fills the film does meet well with my desire to live beyond this world.

I have a few friends who knew Chris personally, From what I have heard, Mr. Cooper does an outstanding portrayal of him in the film. So I’m sure at some point I might rent the movie and fire up the ole’ TV guardian and give it a go, but until then, You can find me outside trying to keep up with my kids 😉

What shall we teach about Jesus’ birth? by Doy Moyer

PictureAt this time of year, some people, who may rarely otherwise do so, will think a little bit about Jesus. There are many errors that float around concerning Jesus at this time, but Christians should seize upon the opportunities to teach the truth. If people take this time to think a little about Jesus’ birth, then let’s teach the truth about it. While it is unlikely that Jesus was born on December 25th, the truth is that He was born at some time, and the implications of His birth are far greater than any particular time of the year. If they are willing to do so during this season, why not take people to the Scriptures and let them see the truth of what His birth means? Truth in its purest form will always debunk the errors that find their way into culture.

Yet our goal is not just to debunk errors. Our goal is to get people to understand what really happened so that they can appreciate what it means for their salvation. Here are some biblical points we need to be reminded of:
1. The birth of Jesus was the fruition of God’s plan from the beginning. Isaiah prophesied His birth (7:14; 9:6), and Micah named the place (5:2). The Chief Priests and Scribes understood that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem (Matt 2:4-5). This was no accident. Paul said it all happened “when the fullness of the time came” (Gal 4:4).

2. The birth of Jesus was necessary as God carried out His plan for redemption. Paul wrote that Jesus was born “so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Gal 4:5). He was born in order to redeem. Joseph was told not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife because the Holy Spirit had caused her to conceive. She would bear a Son, “and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt 1:21). God’s actions were planned and deliberate, and this plan included entering this world so that He might redeem and save the lost.

A few days after the birth, when presented at the Temple, Simeon held Jesus, and he recognized what this meant: “For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a Light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel” (Luke 2:30-32). Then Anna, a prophetess, “came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38).

If we speak of Jesus’ birth, we ought to think of redemption, salvation, and glory. These are continual themes of the Christian regardless of the season.

3. The birth of Jesus created very different reactions. Simeon told Mary, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed—and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35).

To the shepherds, angels spoke of glory to God and peace among men (Luke 2:14). The shepherds made their way to where Jesus was born. Their reaction was to praise and glorify God (vs. 20). The magi, who came from the east a bit later, sought for the Messiah, the King of the Jews (think about the implications of gentile wise men doing this). Their reaction was one of great joy, and they worshiped Him and presented gifts (Matt 2:10-11). Herod, on the other hand, sought to kill Him, initiating a terrible slaughter.

The reactions toward Jesus are similar today. People love Him or hate Him, but they cannot be neutral about Him. We can choose to glorify God, praise Him, and worship, or we can seek to destroy His influence. People still fall and rise because of Jesus. What shall it be for us?

Now here is what people need to know at this time of year: Jesus is not seasonal. Once done, we cannot pack Him back away in a box until next year. If we seek Him now, we must seek Him always. If we worship Him now, we must continue our worship through every season.

Salvation is not seasonal. Jesus was born to redeem us from sin. This is not about a cute little baby. This is about the God of heaven and earth becoming flesh so that we might be saved from our sins. Unless that message is stressed, we have merely turned Jesus into a seasonal commodity.

Let us never forget these true messages of the incarnation: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Doy Moyer

via: http://www.mindyourfaith.com/doys-blog/what-shall-we-teach-about-jesus-birth

Suggested Reading for Men: The AOM series on Pornography

As part of my ongoing work preaching and teaching about the Kingdom of Christ, I have seen more than my share of men and families brutalized by every type of addiction and destructive behavior. At the onset, I’ll say I don’t necessarily agree with every point that Brett makes. I do believe he presents a successful plan if you really want to change your ways in his last post.

If I can be of help to you, feel free to contact me @ 931.349.2492 or pwmartin@gospeldefender.com

Please Don’t Steal Hymns!, by Matthew Bassford

If you copy or distribute a copyrighted hymn without the copyright holder’s permission, you are breaking the law.  ALWAYS ask permission before copying or distributing!

New hymns and praise songs are exciting.  Nearly all of us who love the worship of God love the opportunity to “sing a new song”, and we are eager to introduce these new songs in our own assemblies and other devotional settings.  This eagerness is commendable.  However, we must make sure that our eagerness does not lead us to violate the law.

 

At the bottom of most modern hymns, there appears a notice that looks something like the following:

© Copyright 2014 by John Smith, Owner.  All Rights Reserved.

It indicates that the author has chosen to copyright the hymn.  Legally speaking, such a copyright notice is unnecessary.  Since 1989, United States law has provided that any creative work is automatically copyrighted, whether the creator includes a notice or not.  However, most hymnists include the notice anyway, to preclude the possibility of someone unintentionally infringing their copyrights.  As a practical matter, it is safe to assume that any work copyrighted 1923 or later is still under copyright.

Under Sec. 106 of Title 17 of the United States Code, the copyright owner has the exclusive rights to do the following:

  1. “Reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords.”  In other words, if you make a copy of a copyrighted hymn without the owner’s permission (whether by transcription or scanning, photocopying, etc.), you are breaking the law.  If you make a recording of a copyrighted hymn without the owner’s permission, you are breaking the law.
  2. “Prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work.”  In other words, if you change the words of a copyrighted hymn without the owner’s permission, you are breaking the law.  If you rearrange the harmony of a copyrighted hymn without the owner’s permission, you are breaking the law.
  3. “Distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership.”  In other words, if you photocopy a copyrighted hymn and pass it out at a singing without the owner’s permission, you are breaking the law.   If you e-mail a PowerPoint or PDF of a copyrighted hymn to a friend without the owner’s permission, you are breaking the law.
  4. “Perform the copyrighted work publicly.”  In other words, if you sing a copyrighted hymn in an assembly without the owner’s permission (which is presumed to be granted when the owner grants permission to copy), you are breaking the law.
  5. “Display the copyrighted work publicly.”  In other words, if you make a PowerPoint of a copyrighted hymn without the author’s permission, you are breaking the law.

Copyright law is civil rather than criminal, so there is no prison time attached to any of these offenses.  However, any of these actions gives the copyright owner grounds for a lawsuit.  According to 17 U.S.C. §§ 504-505, statutory damages may be as high as $150,000, in addition to court costs and attorney’s fees.

Now, on the basis of 1 Corinthians 6:1-8, neither I nor any other hymnist I know would sue a brother in Christ for copyright infringement, but it is certainly ungodly to treat our forbearance as license to violate the law!  According to Romans 13:1, God commands Christians to obey the law.  Copyright violators, then, engage in activity that is not merely illegal but also sinful.

The cure for the disease is simple.  Before copying or distributing a copyrighted hymn, always ask the owner’s permission!  In our digitally connected age, this is much less onerous than it has ever been before.  All the hymnists I know have e-mail addresses or Facebook accounts.

I have never yet refused permission to someone who wanted to copy or even to record one of my hymns, and (even though hymnists do have the Scriptural right to ask compensation), I have never asked a penny in return.   I also make the effort to reply to permission requests in as timely a fashion as possible.  Once again, this is generally true of the writers with whom I am familiar.  Alternatively, websites such as songsofthechurch.org have secured the relevant permissions from copyright owners and offer the opportunity to download clean copies for a nominal fee.

All hymnists write because we want our hymns to be sung.  However, we also want our work protected, from everything from innocent transcription errors to would-be editors who think they can improve our hymns by rewriting them.  Copyright is the legal means we have to make sure that the integrity of our work is preserved.  It is ethical, legal, and godly for all who want to use our hymns to honor those copyrights, and ignorance of the law is no excuse.  All of us should want to glorify God with new hymns, but we must make sure that we glorify Him with our actions too, by obeying the law of the land.

find more of Matt’s good work at: http://hisexcellentword.blogspot.com

2 Short Articles inclined to improve worship through singing to one another, (by Matthew Bassford) and an invite

The Performer-Audience Model of Worship

“In 1964, Marshal McLuhan famously opined, “The medium is the message.”  In other words, the content of a given communication is influenced by the context in which it is presented.  A news story in an evening newspaper is different than the same story on the 6-o’clock news is different than the same story read on a website.

This is familiar ground to every communications major for the past 50 years, but rarely do we consider its impact in the realm of the sacred.  In particular, the context in which a given hymn or spiritual song is used will shape that hymn’s very nature.”

Read More Here:

The Congregation-Participant Model of Worship

“Conversely, hymns used in the congregation-participant model will be like this:

  1. SIMPLE.  Performers may be skilled musicians, but the ordinary members of the congregation emphatically are not.  Indeed, every congregation contains those who do not enjoy singing, do not sing well, and only sing in the assembly because they believe God has commanded them to do so.  Most congregants are not able to read music.  They do not gather weekly for rehearsal; instead, they show up on the first day of the week and sing without preparation.  In a setting like this, only simple songs survive. A band can navigate a praise song with inconsistent meter and tricky rhythm; a congregation will train-wreck every time.  When the congregation has to actually sing interesting music, its love of interesting music diminishes greatly.”

Read More Here:

if you live near Cookeville, TN come join us for the 3rd Annual Summer Singing @ Jere Whitson Road

https://www.facebook.com/events/1431746897065404/

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