I want to be like this man:

After receiving a letter from Nancy Hasseltine that she would not consider Adoniram Judson her suitor until she had the consent of her father, Mr. Judson wrote this letter to her father:

“I have now to ask, whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the one who left his heavenly home, and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion, and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with the crown of righteousness, brightened with the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Saviour from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?”

After reading this, her father basically said, “Nancy, it’s your choice.”

Josh Garrels

Original creativity is impossible. It’s impossible because we are products of our culture, which in America, is unfortunately pop culture. I mean, take Pocahontas and Avatar for example; however, I believe that every once in a while, gifted individuals are able to push past this wall of pure creativity-blocking evil, and create something that, at least, maintains the refreshing appearance of uniqueness.

Josh Garrels has a been a constant in this category, at least as I’m calling him to it. His music is different. He is not trying to impress, entice, show off, or conform by being non-conformist, like so many of the modern “indie-folk-rock” groups of today. He isn’t seeking fame and fortune. He’s just trying to create good art. His combinations of melodies, harmonies, choirs, and acoustic instruments (both percussive and melodic) are beautiful. Every track explores a new territory of music, pushing the bounds of both modern and traditional artists and looking for new and fresh ways to communicate age-old truths about redemption and timeless personal love narratives. Okay. Enough. Download his new album. It’s called “Love & War and the Sea in Between” and has 18 songs. … oh, and it’s free.

Click HERE  to download his album.

Music from Mason Jars

Meet “Mason Jar Music.”  I can’t stop listening/ watching this stuff.  It’s art.  It’s beautiful.  Take a couple moments (maybe a lunch or snack break??) out of your busy day to watch some of these videos.  Make sure to watch them in full screen (HD if possible), preferably with your headphones.

If you want to know more about what they do with their music, click here.

Meanwhile, enjoy your break:

Relevant Calvin

I’m finally on Easter Break!  You know what that means? I get to read! So, I’m reading a sermon by John Calvin called Pure Preaching of the Word, and I have found it to be especially enlightening in light of recent arguments about Heaven and Hell.  This is a hefty passage from the sermon, but I think that you’ll find yourself enjoying what Calvin has to say.   May the Gospel of Christ on the Cross, his resurrection and gift of the Holy Spirit refresh and renew you this season.


2 Timothy 2:16, 17, 18

But shun profane and vain babblings; for they will increase unto more ungodliness.  And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymeneus and Philetus;  Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.

We have already shown that St. Paul hath, not without cause, diligently exhorted Timothy to follow the pure simplicity of the word of God,without disguising it. The doctrine which is set forth to us in God’s name, to be the food of our souls, will be corrupted by the devil, if in his power : when he cannot destroy it, he blendeth things with it, in order to bring it into contempt, and destroy our knowledge of the will of God. There are many at this day, who put themselves forward to teach: and what is the cause of it? Ambition carrieth them away: they disguise the word of God: and thus satan goeth about to deprive us of the spiritual life.

But this he is notable to accomplish, unless by some means the doctrine of God be corrupted. St. Paul repeateth the exhortation; that we must shun all unprofitable babbling, and stay ourselves upon plain teaching, which is forcible. He not only condemneth manifest errours, superstition, and lies, but he condemneth the disguising of the word of God: as when men invent subtleties, to cloy men’s ears; bringing no true nourishment to the soul, nor edification in faith, and the fear of God, to the hearers. .

When St. Paul speaketh of vain babbling, he meaneth that which contenteth curious men; as we see many that take great pleasure in vain questions* wherewith they seem to be ravished. They do not openly speak against the truth, but they despise it as a thing too common end base; as a thing for children and fools; as for them, they will know some higher and more profound matter. Thus they are at variance with that which would be profitable for them. Therefore, let us weigh well the words of St. Paul; vain babbling; as though he said, if there be nothing but fine rhetoric, and exquisite words, to gain him credit that speaketh, and to show that he is well learned, none of this should be received into the church; all must be banished.

For God will have his people to be edified; and he hath appointed his word for that purpose. Therefore, if we go not about the salvation of the people, that they may receive nourishment by the doctrine that is taught them, it is sacrilege: for we pervert the pure use of the word of God. This word profane, is set against that which is holy and dedicated to God. Whatsoever pertaineth to the magnifying of God, and increases our knowledge of his majesty, whereby we may worship him: whatsoever draweth us to the kingdom of heaven, or taketh our affections from the world, and leadeth us to Jesus Christ, that we may be grafted into his body, is called holy.

On the contrary, when we feel not the glory of God, when we feel not to submit ourselves to him, when we know not the riches of the kingdom of heaven, when we are not drawn into his service to live in pureness of conscience, when we know not what the salvation meaneth which was purchased by our Lord Jesus Christ, we belong to the world, and are profaned. The doctrine which serves to mislead us in such things, is also called profane. Thus we see what St. Paul’s meaning is: to wit, when we come together in the name of God, it is not to hear merry songs, and to be fed with wind ; that is, with vain and unprofitable curiosity; but to receive spiritual nourishment. For God will have nothing- preached in his name, but that which will profit and edify the hearers; nothing but that which containeth good matter.

But it is true, our nature is such, that we take great pleasure in novelty, and in speculations which seem to be subtle. Therefore, let us beware, and think as we ought; that we may not profane God’s holy word: Let us seek that which edifieth, and not abuse ourselves by receiving that which hath no substance in it. It is hard to withdraw men from such vanity, because they are inclined to participate in it: But St. Paul showeth, that there is nothing more miserable than such vain curiosity: ««For they will increase unto more ungodliness.” As if he had said, my friends, you know not at first sight what hurt cometh by these deceivers; who go about to gain credit and estimation among you, and with pleasant toys endeavour to please you: but believe me, they are satan’s instruments; and such as in no wise serve God; but increase unto more wickedness: that is, if they are let alone, they will mar the christian religion; they will not leave one jot safe and sound. Therefore, see that you flee them as plagues; although – at first sight, the poison which they bring be not perceived.

Every one of us should suspect himself, when we have to judge of this doctrine. And why so? Because, (as I said before,) we are all weak; our minds are altering and changing; and besides, we have a foolish desire that draweth to things which are unprofitable. And therefore let us beware that we do not satisfy our own desires. Although this doctrine may not seem bad to us at the first view, yet notwithstanding, if it has not a tendency to lead us to God, and strengthen us in his service, to confirm us in the faith and hope that is given us of everlasting life, it will deceive us in the end; and prove to be but a mixture which serveth no purpose, except to take away the good which we had received before.

To be short, those that have not this in view, to draw the world to God, and build up the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he may rule among us, mar all. All the labour and pains they take, but increases their wickedness: and if they be suffered to go on in this way, a gate is set open to satan, whereby he may bring to nought whatsoever is of God: although this is not done at the first blow, yet we see the end is such. To express this the better, St. Paul adds, “Their word will eat as doth a canker.”

‘The word “eat,” mentioned here, is not commonly understood; it is what the chirurgeons call, on eating sore; and what is also called, St. Anthony’s fire: that is to say, when there is such an inflammation in any part of the body, that the sore eateth not only the flesh and sinews, but the bones also; in short, it is a fire that devoureth all: the hand will cause the arm to be lost, and the foot the leg ; unless at the beginning, the part that is affected be cut off: thus, the man is in danger of losing his members, unless there be fit remedies provided for it; in this case we should spare no pains, but cut off the part affected, that the rest be not utterly destroyed.

Thus we view it here. spiritually: for St. Paul showeth us, that although we may have been well instructed in wholesome doctrine, all will be marred, if we give place to these unprofitable questions, and only endeavour to please the hearers, and feed their desires. Seeing we understand what St. Paul’s meaning is, let us endeavour to put this exhortation into practice. When we see men go about, endeavouring to turn us aside from the true doctrine, let us shun them, and shut the gate against them. Unless we take it in hand at the first start, and entirely cut it off, it may be as difficult to control, as the disease of which we have spoken.

Therefore, let us not be sleeping; for this is a matter of importance; it will prove a deadly disease, unless it be seen to in time. If this exhortation had been observed, things would be in a better condition at the present day in Christendom. For this doltishness of papistry, is but the vain babbling spoken of by St. Paul. Even those who would be counted the greatest doctors among them, who are of many years standing, yea, and have spent their whole life in it, think upon nothing but foolish prattling; which serveth no other purpose than to lead men astray: as no man knoweth what they mean. It seemeth that the devil hath forged this language by a miraculous subtlety, in order that he might bring all doctrine into confusion.

It is plainly perceived that they have conspired to do contrary to that which St. Paul hath in God’s name forbidden. For they that have thus turned the word of God into a profane language of barbarous and unknown words, shall be much less able to excuse themselves. Many there are that would gladly have pleasant things taught them ; they would make pastime of the word of God, and recreate themselves thereby; thus they seek vain and unprofitable teaching. They would bring errour, contention, and debate into the church, and endeavour to bring the religion we hold into doubt, and obscure the word of God.

Therefore we must be so much the more earnest to serve God, and continue constantly in the pureness of the gospel. If we have a desire to obey our God as we ought, we must practise that which is commanded us, and pray him to cleanse the church from these plagues; for they are the devil’s instruments. This might be applied to all corruptions and stumbling-blocks invented by the devil; but it is here spoken of, concerning the doctrine whereby we are quickened; which is the true food of the soul.

Hope you enjoyed that.

Ephesians 5:6

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

First Official Prayer and Support Letter

Hi friends and family!

First off, this is long. I apologize. Okay, now you can read. =]

This is my first of many prayer letters you will be – Lord willing – receiving in the coming years. I’m writing this note mainly to ask for your prayer and to let you know where I’m at in terms of graduating, my degree, and future plans!

This afternoon at 4:00 pm, I have my first of two interviews here at Azusa Pacific University for a program that the Office of World Missions (OWM) offers called H.I.S. Years (hearing, investing, serving).  7-10 applicants are chosen from the pool of 20 who submitted the application.

To give you some insight and explanation surrounding this important interview, let me begin. If you are reading this, the odds are that you most likely know that God has placed in me an immense desire to reach the unreached people groups in the world with God’s redemptive plan of salvation, the Gospel.  I have spent the last three years as an undergraduate student majoring in Theater Arts and minoring in Philosophy.  God has so incredibly blessed me by condensing a top-of-the-line four year undergraduate education program into three, significantly reducing my loans for tuition (which as it stands is a little under $40,000/year), and further enabling me to fastidiously get to the field to “fill up what is lacking in regards to Christ’s afflictions” (Colossians 1:24) and to fulfill my ambition for preaching the gospel not ONLY where Christ has been named, but also “to preach the gospel, NOT where Christ has already been name, lest I build on someone else’s foundation.” (Romans 15:20)

In 2007, the Lord struck me with a sense of my finiteness and short period of time I have here on this earth, “For [I am] a mist that appears for a little time and vanishes,” and I need to redeem the time and pursue the Kingdom of God, not only here and now in the comfort of my relatively easy American life, but also in places where they have zero access to any resources that would even remotely point them to the Gospel.

Graduating this coming spring, I will have $43,000 in student loans in my name.  This is fantastic considering what it would be if I had taken on all four years.  However great this financial success may seem, it is still a heavy financial burden to bear and would most likely stall me from getting to the field for several more years.  As it now stands, I was planning and will continue to move in the direction of New Tribes Mission and attending their 4-year long cultural/linguistic acquisition and Bible school as well as Mastering in Education and quite possibly Intercultural Studies elsewhere using an online degree program.  This is not to mention the years I will be spending paying off my school loans before any of this can even begin to take place.  This is where H.I.S. Years comes into the picture:

H.I.S. Years is a two-year cross-cultural program designed for seniors seeking to serve cross-culturally after graduation.  It provides them with emotional and spiritual support during their final year at the school, financial assistance through means of paying student loans during the two years of service, and an assigned mentor to each student preparing to enter the cross-cultural mission field.  It is designed to give students an opportunity to serve in a missionary role in a cross-cultural context in order to prepare them for full time ministry abroad.   Ultimately, being accepted into this program would enable me to get to the field in the most efficient and time-redeeming manner that is accessible to my faculties.

My request is that you pray ardently for me this afternoon and as often as the Lord puts it on your heart.  Pray that the Lord would vindicate His Holy name as I explain the passion that he has put inside of my heart for the supremacy of his glory among the nations.  Pray that he would continue to humble me over and over and that I would joyfully accept it without bitterness or complaint.  Pray that my answers to these questions would be a reflection of the power of the Gospel and not my abilities, desires, or hopes for my own life.  Pray also for direction in the next 10 years.  My plans are at a conceptual and tentative stage, but I’m willing to take other avenues to reach the destination that I prayerfully know the Lord has for me.  And be praying if God would have you support me in anyway He sees fit in the years to come.

I love you all and pray that this letter finds you joyful, encouraged, and delighting in the Lord.



The “Lure” of College (from last semester)

So, my cynical junior self wrote this post last semester when I thought the world was caving in around me.  I never finished it, so it’s quite undeveloped, but I think that it definitely had some potential.  I’ve learned quite a bit in the meantime, naturally, and will most likely post a response later.  From what I can tell, the main ingredient missing in this well-written critique, now that I look at it, is grace.  What do you think:

After attending college for any number of years (albeit, one-and-a-half, personally), you might notice an assortment of unofficial bandwagons that are immediately at your disposal.  Some of these include items, hobbies, pass-times, classes, and even causes.

There are plenty of them.  Longboards, ultimate frisbee, intramural sports, hipster clothing styles, weight (yes, weight), clubs, and the list goes on and on

For instance, almost everyone would agree that the chances of a person owning a Sector 9 Longboard after 3 weeks into their first semester of college are ridiculously high compared to pre-college years.  Most college-goers would accept this as fact.  Another adoptive bandwagon that has even enticed myself on more than one occasion is the pass-time commonly referred to as ultimate frisbee.  Yeah, sure, we all play ultimate outside of college too, but are there intramural teams that predominantly reign supreme outside of college campuses?  No.  Whether it’s an intramural or just a pick-up game, you can always find groups of people playing this on campus somewhere.

Now, this brings me to my next bandwagon.  It’s called “love.”  Fortunately, I was able to avoid this one altogether, for the most part.  You see, the drawbacks to this bandwagon are broad and all-encompassing, due to the extremely broad definition of the term.  And, unfortunately for the Christian community, it can all to easily become a buzz word… in my opinion, it already has.  The drawbacks actually allow you to be safe with your faith, allowing you to not step outside of your comfort zone (or if they do allow you to step outside your comfort zone, it’s only for a very short allotted amount of time).  They include causes like Invisible Children, and TOMS shoes, and short-term, VBS-saturated, prayer- walking mission trips, and other popular mainstream awareness programs that are readily available to all who have a few bucks to buy a t-shirt.  They, ultimately, eliminate the gospel message of salvation and replace it with feel-good-about-yourself copout deeds that can be done from the safety of your facebook account or three week adventure trips outside the US, ultimately undermining the very love that they wish to share with the world, replacing it with a selfish shallow love that is meant only to make the “doer” feel good and have a rich “spiritual experience.”  If you are a college student and you are not a part of one of these organizations, are not participating or supporting one of these short-term mission trips, or are not helping to bring our nation into an equilibrium of wealth, than you are looked down upon as being heartless and void of love.  This is what confuses me though:  I understand why these types of causes and organizations would be so popular on a secular campus, but why are they predominant on Christian campuses, such as APU?  These programs are just hitting the surface of the water, in my humble and yet strong opinion.

In my estimation, one of the main human drives and desires is to be a part of a movement that is outside and bigger than yourself.  This, as I understand it, is the corollary between the numbers of people flocking to social justice causes (and the like) and the reason for them doing so.  Think about it.  If we are going to be downright honest with ourselves, we can attribute this to the reason behind all religious movements around the world, INCLUDING Christianity.  Unfortunately, I have a blatant example:  Haiti Aid has been HUGE everywhere, including Azusa Pacific University, as it well should be; however, when a predominant chapel leader says something to the effect of, “I know that a lot of you guys are praying for the people in Haiti, but for those of you that want to step out and do something… ” I might get a little worried.  What this chapel leader just told a congregation of college students was that prayer isn’t equated with actually “doing something” to help Haiti.  I’m sorry, but the crux of the Judeo-Christian faith holds that the only way for God to start interceding and changing things here on earth is if we acknowledge that we can do nothing and only he can bring about change.  But you see, when our religious fervor is lacking, when we feel we haven’t done enough with our faith, when we feel like God is distant and we need to do something to get the “good [I might as well say emotional] feeling of God” back, we resort to scrounging for other things to fill the void that only Christ’s message of salvation and reconciliation can.  This is my explanation of the need to be a part of anything outside of ourselves.

Again, I must clarify that I in no way am opposed to social justice or the potential good it can facilitate.  I want to make the observation, though, that if you have probably read this far, you either completely agree with me, or you are shaking your head at how intolerant and ignorant I am.  This brings me to my next point:  I cannot speak against “love,” because of how broad a term “love” is.  If I do, I’m the bad guy.  This word masquerades itself as the all-encompassing “love is all you need” idea.  What we have on our hands is the new hippie generation, without the sex and drugs (well… more or less).

Alright, it’s unfinished, but I was tired of having it sit in my drafts folder for months.  What do you think? Am I right on? Should I be more gracious? More understanding? Something you disagree with vehemently? Let me hear it!

Craig S. Keener

Excerpts from one of the introductions to the New Testament Cultural Background book I’m reading:

Translating can be difficult, as anybdy who has studied a foreign language can testify. Some words do not translate directly in a single term; sometimes a word or phrase can have several different meanings, and the translator has to decide which meaning is best for particular  context. There is also more than one way to express an idea in English once one decides what it means. Those of us who have read the whole New Testament in Greek can testify that the same problems obtain there as in any other text we might try to translate. A random check of any passage in two or three Bible translations will verify the difficulty: no two translations will match exactly (otherwise, of course, they wouldn’t be separate translations).

When Bible translatos go into other cultures they face difficult questions regarding the meanings of words and phrases. For instance, some translators had to explain “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (Jn 1:29) for a culture that had no sheep and thus no words for lambs. The culture did, however, have pigs, and used them for sacrifices. But if they translated it “Behold, the Pig of God!” (which does not ring nicely to our American ears, and certainly would have offended ancient Jewish sensibilities even more), what would happen when they had to translate passages in the Old Testament where pigs were unclean but sheep were not? Perhaps they could best solve the issue by putting a footnote in the text and by translating with some combination of words that communicated the concepts best as possible in their language, like “hairy pig.” Old Testament translators have had to resort to similar methods when rendering the Hebrew words for different kinds of locusts into English (Joel 1:4; 2:25). English does not have enough different words for locusts to match all the Hebrew terms, perhaps because the many varieties of locusts were nomre of an issue for the Israelites than they are for most of us.

Go Craig.

the dash between the dates

Andrew, my roommate, and I just had a profound conversation about bucket lists.  My philosophy:  It’s not the things you haven’t done, but rather, the things you have done that make your life meaningful.

I’m reminded of the movie UP. I believe this clip will explain it better than I can:

The conversation carried on and he decided, “Too many people write bucket lists.  It’s the ‘Here’s what I need to do in order to make my life meaningful,’ people that don’t get anywhere.  But it’s the people who say, ‘My life is meaningful, but here is a fun list of to-do’s that one day my kids, grandkids and signifciant others can look back on and say, ‘That was a good time,” that get the most out of life.”

I completely agree.  I’d love to go to Scotland, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Italy, Israel, China, and maybe Africa (I know right… so countercultural). I’d love to to go skydiving, be on a Michael Jackson Music Video (welp… ), live for a month like “Man vs. Wild,” be a regular on a one-hour comedy television show, perform on broadway, meet Meryl Streep, and possess telekinesis.

I am not focussed, nor am I wasting any of my time hoping to ever have the opportunity to experience any of these things.  Ultimately, these are just things I’d like to do.   It’s similar to saying “I want to eat an entire truckload of ice cream and have the magical power of not getting sick or gaining a pound.”  Yeah, I know.  You’re thinking that has nothing in common with my previous list because obviously you can’t eat an entire truckload of ice cream and have the magical power of not getting sick or gaining a pound.  That’s not the point.  The point is this:  If I set my sights on something that might not ever happen, if my goal is to experience X, Y and Z before I die, I set myself up for disappointment.

Do not think I’m being “holier than thou.”  I recognize and acknowledge that I definitely have a tendency to come off that way; however, I think it is ultimately just a misunderstanding.  Naturally, each person is his toughest critic.  I am also a person, and therefore I am my toughest critic.  My short-comings are so numerous, I’d be a fool to to EVER say I was holier than the next man.  That being said, leave this notion at the door as I continue.

I used to want to go to Broadway.  That was my all-encompassing ambition.  Theatre.  My passion. My life’s dream and joy.  Transitioning from Broadway to the big screen.  These were all thoughts that consumed my mind.  They weren’t bad, nor are they bad.  Wherever I had made up my mind to go, I would share the gospel.  But God saw fit to direct me to the foreign mission field, i.e. cross-cultural church planting among the unreached people groups of the world.  I have gladly adopted this ambition as most precious in my life.  I can completely relate to Paul in Romans 15:20.  This passion replaced Broadway.
All other things pale in comparison to this ambition or goal, if you will.  And my goal pales in comparison to knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.

If I ever get to live or visit or see or do or experience any of the things on “my list,” it will be because God has allowed me to do them.  I will relish in the delightful time I will have.  But I will not intentionally make time in my life for anything trivial when compared to my life’s purpose, i.e. to make sure worship of the one true Lord is happening everywhere, to the glory of God the Father.  I am not going to plan trips to Ireland or Scotland (unless of course, this is where my honeymoon is to be), and no, I might not ever shake Meryl Streep’s hand.  But there will be no misconception in my mind of ever having the delusion to do so.

I’m writing too much and it’s late.  The Bible is the final voice of reason, so consider Paul’s wise words in Philippians:

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith- that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

And last but certainly not least:

“To live is Christ; to die is gain.”

While we still live on this earth, we need to be solely dependent on and solely focussed on Jesus Christ.  Dying is gain, because it means standing in the presence of the object of our lives and our faith.

OH! I almost forgot.  What does, “the dash between the dates,” mean?  Well, mine begins with 1990 and is to be determined;  1990 – ?

That dash is thin and short.  Consider James:

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little and then vanishes.”

We have just a little bit of time.  Don’t focus on the little things.  Focus on the eternal. Make the most of life.  Live Christ. =]

the uncritical temper

This is the most convicting piece of literature I’ve read in a while.  I think that Chambers pins the issue down.  Matthew 7:1.  No escape. Buckle up:

“Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Criticism is part of the ordinary faculty of a man, he has a sense of humour, i.e., a sense of proportion, he sees where things are wrong and pulls the other fellow to bits; but Jesus says, ‘As a disciple, cultivate the uncritical temper.’  In the spiritual domain, criticism is love turned sour.  In a wholesome spiritual life there is no room for criticism.  The critical faculty is an intellectual one, not a moral one.  If criticism becomes a habit it will destroy the moral energy of the life and paralyse spiritual force.  The only Person who can criticise human beings is the Holy Spirit.  No human being dare criticise another human being, because immediately he does he puts himself in a superior position to the one he cricises.  A critic must be removed from what he criticises.  Before a man can criticise a work of art or a piece of music, his information must be complete, he must stand away from what he criticises as superior to it.  No human being can ever take that attitude to another human being; if he does he puts himself in the wrong position and grieves the Holy Spirit.  A man who is continually criticised becomes good for nothin, the effect of criticism knocks all the gumption and power out of him.  Criticism is deadly in its effect because it divides a man’s powers and prevents his being a force for anything.  That is never the work of the Holy Ghost.  The Holy Ghost alone is in the true positino of a critic; He is able to show what is wrong without wounding and hurting.

The temper of mind that makes us lynx-eyed in seeing where others are wrong does not do them any good, because the effect of our criticism is to paralyse their powers, which proves that the criticism was not of the Holy Ghost; we have put ourselves into the posiition of a superior person.  Jesus says a disciple can never stand away from another life and criticise it, therefore He advocates an uncritical temper, “Judge not.” Beware of anything that puts you in the place of the superior person.

The counsel of Jesus is to abstain from judging.  This sounds strange at first because the characteristic of the Holy Spirit in a Christian is to reveal the things that are wrong, but the strangeness is only on the surface.  The Holy Spirit does reveal what is wrong in others, but His discernment is never for purposes of criticism, but for purposes of intercession.  When the Holy Spirit reveals something of the nature of sin and unbelief in another, His purpose is not to make us feel the smug satisfaction of a critical spectator, ‘Well thank God, I am not like that’; but to make us so lay hold of God for that one that od enables him to turn away from the wrong thing.  Never ask God for discernment, becuase discernment increases your responsibility terrifically; and you cannot get out of it by talking, but only by bearing up the life in intercession before God until God puts him right.  “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and He shall give him life for them that sin not unto death.” (1 John v, 16.)  Our Lord allows no room for criticism in the spiritual life, but He does allow room for discernment and discrimination.

If we let these search-lights go straight down to the root of our spiritual life we will see why Jesus says ‘Don’t judge’; we won’t have time to.  Our whole life is o be lived so in the power of God that He can pour through us the rivers of living water to others.  Some of us are so concerned about the outflow that it dries up.  We continually ask, ‘Am I of any use?’ Jesus tells us how  be of use: ‘Believe in Me, and out of you will flow rivers of living water.’

“Judge not, that ye be not judged.”  If we let that maxim of our Lord’s sink into our hearts we will find how it hauls up.  “Judge not” – why, we are always at it!  The average Christian is the most penetratingly critical individual, there is nothing of the likeness of Jesus Christ about him.  A critical temper is a contradiction to all our Lord’s teaching.  Jesus says of criticism, ‘Apply it to yourself, never to anyone else.’ “Why dost thou judge thy brother? . . . for we shall all stand before the judgement seat of Christ.”  Whenever you are in a critical temper, it is impossible to enter into communion with God.  Criticism makes you hard and vindictive and cruel, and leaves you with the flattering unction that you are a superior person.  It is impossible to develop the characteristics of a saint and maintain a critical attitude.  The first thing the Holy Spirit does is to give us a spring-cleaning, and there is no possibility of pride being left in a man after that.  I never met a man I could despair of after having discerned all that lies in me apart from the grace of God.  Stop having a measuring rod for others.  Jesus says regarding judging, ‘Don’t; be uncritical in your temper, because in the spiritual domain you can accomplish nothing by criticism.’  One of the severest lessons to learn to is leave the cases we do not understand to God.  There is always one fact more in every life of which we know nothing, therefore Jesus says, ‘Judge not.’  We cannot do it once and for all, we have to remember always that this is our Lord’s rule of conduct.

Oswald Chambers

Chambers, Oswald. Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. 1960 ed. London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1960. Print.

am i a soldier of the cross?

Why must Chris Tomlin and Hillsong (no offense) replace this beautiful literature by Isaac Watts?  And please don’t be deceived into thinking it’s about “cultural relevance.”  That’s not viable anymore since outreach is no longer fulfilling its intended purpose, as it use to.  Every member of our congregation knows the songs we sing in church.  They have been playing on repeat for the past 20 years.  I think it’s time to start thinking beyond the silly analogies of our generation such as “if God’s grace was an ocean, we’d all be sinking.

Oh, this song!  My favorite hymn.  What truth and boldness such as I have never seen in any of the worship songs of our time.  I am actually challenged every time I read this.  The “hymns” of our age are few and far between that ever challenge me and my walk.  The members of our churches need theology in their worship.  Christ saturated, challenging, and thought-provoking songs.  Not analogies.  Not emotion.  If our worship services are based off emotional experiences, the church in America will fail.

Experiences run out.  Feed the congregation theology in worship, and you will reap a congregation quenching for more of Jesus Christ.

Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His Name?

Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?

Sure I must fight if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord.
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.

Thy saints in all this glorious war
Shall conquer, though they die;
They see the triumph from afar,
By faith’s discerning eye.

When that illustrious day shall rise,
And all Thy armies shine
In robes of victory through the skies,
The glory shall be Thine.

-Isaac Watts

“Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity…” -Hebrews 6:1

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