Archive for the ‘ learning things. ’ Category

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.”


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.

a story and a paraphrase


Azusa Pacific Man Choir of 2008-2009 fame (i'm top left corner with my thumbs up)

The first two weeks of my summer were spent on a tour with Man Choir of Azusa Pacific University fame. The choir has 70 guys enrolled.  Here are two documented days of our tour that I wrote down for you. Why these two? Because they deal with Mormonism. Please read on. VERY fascinating stuff I must say.

Christian Church

Waiting to sing in the Christian Church in Utah

We woke up early. No surprise there. We left for Red Hills Southern Baptist Church in Red Hills, Utah at 9am.  The couple that invited us to the church were graduates of APU. Sweet couple. Well the drive was nice, mainly because I got a bunch of sleep.  It’s hard not to fall asleep to the drone of the highway… oh, and hours of driving. =]  We arrived at 4:30pm pacific time and our performance was at 6:30pm, but in reality by crossing the Arizona/Utah border, we crossed over into mountain time, loosing an hour (AZ doesn’t recognize daylight savings… too bad they’re missin’ out), so it was really 5:30pm. We were way late.  We had an hour to eat, set up the risers and sound system, and get our tuxes on.  Not much time for that, but we got it done just a little past 6:30pm.

This concert was special for a specific reason. Utah is believed to be the Promised Land for the Mormons. Because of the heavy population of the Ladder Day Saints (LDS), these Baptist church members experience a unique type of persecution.  It’s a type of discrimination. Of segregation.  People treat them cruelly and rarely make eye contact with them.  I’m sure the implications of this discrimination are much more far-reaching than you or I can fully realize. I have not yet experienced persecution on any level, so far as I can remember.
Well there wasn’t a whole congregation of people like there was in Arizona, but the few that did show up were full of joy and sincerely thankful for our visit.  They were encouraged that 70 men would come and sing for them. That was an encouraging stop for me. Praise Jesus.

That night we stayed in a Marriott. Again, praise Jesus.


Waking up early again, we were served a complimentary breakfast by the hotel.  The next stop would be a public high school, which ironically enough was 90% Mormon.  Whatever.   It was interesting to see them respond to our songs. Most of our repertoire doesn’t coincide with LDS theology at all, (which I’ll touch on in a sec)…  but the kids were impressed and responded positively, and ultimately, Christ was proclaimed (Philippians 1:15-18).  The choral director even invited us to sing a few songs for his beginning choir.  Awesome. It was an interesting gesture, and for me, an unexpected one. Thank God that we were so well-received and that we were able to penetrate this Mormon-believing school with the truth of Christ’s Word.

The Marble-Painted, Soft-Wood Pillars.

The postlude to this high school experience was even cooler, for lack of better words.  Man Choir took a tour of the Mormon Temple Square.  THE Mormon Temple Square in the “Promised Land,” aka Utah…=]. Yyyeah. Well, we split into two groups and received a formal tour of the Square grounds.  We got to see the first tabernacle built by the first Mormon pioneers to America.  The entire building was constructed out of a type of soft-wood (the name of the wood escapes me), including the pews and the pillars; however, because the pioneers didn’t like the way the soft-wood looked, they painted the pews to look like hard-wood and the pillars to look like marble. The pillar pictured below is soft-wood, not marble. Weird? Yes. Their completely legitimate justification: They want the temple to look its best for the Lord. Well, I guess, amen to that. We toured a couple more insignificant buildings in the Square, then later ended up with the other group in the Mormon Tabernacle. The way in which the building was designed is unique.  Picture a football field. That’s how long the temple was. A huge organ at the front of the room took up 10% of the building.  Also, the ceilings were designed in such a way to allow the choir and any speaker to speak or sing without the use of any microphones. Perfect audible sound in the entire building.

The Organ… yep.

When we entered the Temple Sqare, Harold, being the complete smooth talker that he is, talked the elders into letting us sing ONE song in the Tabernacle. Of course we pushed the envelope and sang two. A little background before I go on. First of all, there are unspoken ranks in the Mormon church. The 2nd Organist of the church is higher “ranked” than the elders.  We were singing on the Organist’s practice time; rather, he was allowing us to sing on his practice time.  I believe are second song was Pentatonic Alleluia/Holy, Holy, Holy, and one of the elders realized that it didn’t jive with LDS doctrine. He came up to Harold and said quietly, “Thank you, that’s enough,” and we then sat down. The organist PLAYED the song we JUST SANG (‘Of the Father’s Love Begotten) on the organ! HOW COOL! We gave him a standing “O” and asked him to play another… he agreed to only if we would sing more for him =D!! We agreed. =] WE SANG 5 MORE SONGS!!! Elder’s power usurped by the Organist. That’s God’s legit supremacy for ya. Here’s a few vids of us in the Tabernacle (Listen to both of these all the way through! You’ll miss the cool parts in both. AND listen at the very end of each… there’s about a 3 second delay. That venue was legit):

Now for some Mormon History. =] I’m just going to post this as a summary. I might be wrong on some parts, but you’ll get the general idea. If any Mormons read this, please feel free to correct me.

General Warning: I in no way support or condone or believe any of this history to be true.

Mormon Origins:

  • 13th tribe of Israel – Tribe of Mannaseh
    • Lehi was the prophet of this tribe
  • Israel becomes upset with Lehi’s teaching; Lehi has four sons – older sons included Laman and Lemuel and younger sons included Sam and Nephi
    • Lehi prophesied destruction and captivity of Jerusalem by Babylon
    • Israel didn’t like it -> God told Lehi and family to go to wilderness
  • Eventually, an angel revealed to the 4 brothers that Nephi would be chosen by God to lead family after Lehi’s death
    • brothers didn’t like this, especially Laman
  • After his father’s death, Nephi built a boat and took the whole Lehi family to the Americas, where they established a homeland
  • Lamanites escalate to violence causing Nephi to move his family elsewhere in the Americas
    • family of Lehi was then segregated
      • Nephites
      • Lamanites
  • Nephites eventually became wicked and rebelled
    • civilization dwindled
    • the moment Jesus was crucified, many natural disasters occurred around the world. One bein ghte “dust”-ification of all the Mormon monuments and cities… =|
    • when there were only 2,500 Nephites left, Jesus appeared to them (supposedly one of his appearances after he was risen)

      Jesus appears in the Americas

      Jesus appears in the Americas

  • Jesus then proceeded to spend many days with them
    • organizing the church
    • teaching them the gospel
    • blessing them
  • The last two Nephite were a man named Mormon and his son, Moroni
    • before dying, Mormon documented the history of the pioneers on golden plates
    • Moroni finished the last bit of history after the death of Mormon

This time was known as the “great apostasy” in which no new revelations from God’s prophets were heard, simply b/c there were no prophets (they had all been killed by the Nephites).

  • skipping ahead to 1819, Joseph Smith arrives at the scene
    • 14 years old, mind you
    • couldn’t figure out which church to attend… =\
    • stumbled across the book of James – “if any lacks wisdom…”
  • Smith goes out into the woods to pray
    • encounters 2 figures of light
      • The Father and Jesus Christ  – “the churches he seeks attendance at are false”
  • Smith later encounters the angel Moroni (yes, Moroni became an angel somehow) who give Smith revelations
    • shows Smith where the golden tablets are, which he then proceeds to interpret (by means of divine “inspiration”)
  • After he translated the plates, they go missing

TA DA! The End! Since then, the president’s (likened to the Pope of the Catholic Church) of the Mormon churches have taken liberties to divinely change “rules” of the Mormon church. The most recent rule change: Mormons may now drink caffeine, as long as it is cold. Psht!

Pray for these people. They need to be healed of their blindness to the true trinity known as God. The Alpha and Omega! The only God of everything. The Great and Mighty. Most of all, love them. That’s where true understanding and reconciliation take place, and with this comes the openness to hear the Word of truth! Thanks for reading. Comments?


“christian” holy wars and the social gospel

Interesting. I’m reading this book called ‘Foxe’s Book of Martyrs,’ and Mr. Foxe just informed me of the medieval inquisition which included the Papal Inquisitions.

As you can probably guess, the book is about Christian persecutions as they’ve happened throughout history, starting with the early church, much like dc Talk’s ‘Jesus Freaks’ that was published some years ago.

I can’t tell you how interesting and inspiring this book is.  These witnesses bring a whole new meaning to Colossians 1:24. Not recanting their faith even to the point of excruciating pain. Incredible and invigorating. Not only is it inspiring, but the facts are very intriguing as well.  Take the movie ‘Gladiator’ for instance.  The philosopher and Emperor, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (A.D. 162-180) was known as the last of ‘Five Good Emperors‘ of Rome.  You might remember him in the movie as the murdered father. He was responsible for the fourth general persecution against the Christians. Weird, right? He ordered and allowed (despite what wikipedia might tell you) countless horrible and unthinkable tortures.  Dang. He seemed like such a nice guy in the movie.

Now what I’ve just been reading is about the papal persecutions.  The history teachers leave out detailed information about these. ‘Christians’ were the villains; however, Christians were also the direct victims of these persecutions. Wait, what??

So before this era of Papal-ity (1208 A.D.), most of the persecutions against the believing church came from the pagan world. The church in Rome began to set aside scriptural doctrines such as holiness, piety, humility, charity, and compassion, and instead took up the sword along with pagan superstitions and practices. All of this in order to benefit the clergy of the Roman church.  ANY who disagreed with this doctrine (true Christians being the “any”) were labeled as heretics to the faith, and if refusing to recant “heresy,” were executed.

So now the world tells us that Christians were going around slaughtering heretics. False. Heretics were going around slaughtering Christians labeled as heretics. After all, 2 Timothy says, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”  Now we get into persecution and suffering.

Oh the agendas of the social gospel.  To be quite honest, Azusa Pacific University upsets me when it comes to this issue.  This idea of “preach the gospel always, and when necessary, use words.”


And unfortunately, I hear too much of this at Azusa. God is behind it, maybe. I’m sure it pleases our Savior that the needy are being cared for; however, I’m convinced he’s more concerned about their eternal futures. I feel like many students at Azusa (or the mainstream students anyways) are taking the easy road, copping out and buying shoes for kids, rescuing little children from enslavement, sending monetary savings to feed some others. THIS IS NOT THE GOSPEL! Let me quote a friend of mine:

What is happening today in our Christian culture is the thought that the application of the gospel is to simply come to the monetary assistance of those in need.  This is an aspect, but it is not even the central aspect, but a corollary of the gospel.  I fear that there is a growing belief that the preaching of the gospel to those who are sufferers of social injustice is secondary to the remedying of these people’s situation.  Or, to look at it another way, that the remedying of social injustice is the preaching of the gospel to those who are its sufferers.

Oh friends!  Do not be deceived! Let us not usher in temporal comfort but everlasting. Or at least couple social justice with Christ’s message of redemption.  One without the other is meaningless. More so social justice without the gospel (not all third-world countries are needy fyi). And do not be deceived into the thinking that “loving” can indefinitely take the place of “witnessing.” If you are afraid to share the gospel because it will offend… that’s the whole point. The truth is offensive. It’s edgy, difficult to cope with. God’s gospel was seen as heretical. Christ was seen as a blasphemer. “PREACH THE WORD!” (2 Timothy 4:2). It’s a command straight from the mouth of Jesus Christ who died for everone’s sins and beat the heck out of death.

And in terms of staying safe and protected from disease and sickness and third-world maladies:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall TRIBULATION, or DISTRESS, or PERSECUTION, or FAMINE, or NAKEDNESS, or DANGER, or SWORD? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death NOR life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8:35-39

Have I made my point clear? If you disagree or anything, I’d be happy to politely discuss it with you anytime. I have skype (milesgrimes), twitter (milesvincent), and aim (, and my email is

Let me leave you with one of my favorite quotes.

The world can do almost anything as well as or better than the church. You need not be a Christian to build houses, feed the hungry, or heal the sick. There is only one thing the world cannot do. It cannot offer grace.
-Gordon Macdonald

EDIT (6/13/09): In regards to the last statement/quote: The world can offer the avenue to grace. The means by which the grace is offered. Grace, the seed planted by the church waiting to be broken and made fruitful by the Holy Spirit.  The church: the workers who must usher in the harvest. Thank you Mr. Mark Montgomery =]

an important subject: worship

(Before I begin, I will refer to a man named John Piper. He is a common theme in most of my posts simply because I believe he is right on when it comes to many issues pertaining to how life should be lived according to the Word of God.)

What is the goal of the church?

I personally think that John Piper answers this question in a very satisfying way:  

Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship does not. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever…The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God. ‘The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!’ (Ps. 97:1). ‘Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy!’ (Ps. 67:3-4)…Where passion for God is weak, zeal for missions will be weak. Churches that are not centered on the exaltation of the majesty and beauty of God will scarcely kindle a fervnt desire to ‘declare his glory among the nations’ (Ps. 96:3). Even outsiders feel the disparity between the boldness of our claim upon the nations and the blandness of our engagement with God.

I could stop here and say no more, but I think that we must define a few things in order for these series of statements to really sink in and be understood.

To begin with, church is not a building. Rather, church is fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ, wherever that may occur. Matthew 18:20 says 

 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.  

If two believers meet for lunch to fellowship together, that is church. Therefore, when you GO to ‘church’ on Sunday, you are participating in a larger version of church. The goal of this gathering, Piper hypothesizes, should be to worship the creator of all things and to bring everyone into the same “white-hot” worship of their creator. I completely agree with him.
But what is true worship and what does it look like?
Something that I have recently been convicted in my own life with is the showy-ness and public display of ‘worship’ manefesting a ‘holiness’ for others to see. I know that I am not the only one who struggles with this (the next few thoughts are addressing worship through song, one facet of many forms of worship). I hope that what I say next will spawn change and thought and conviction, rather than offend. I don’t know man’s heart like Jesus Christ does (But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’ -1 Samuel 16:7), but sometimes I can’t help but wonder what really is going on in peoples’ minds when they are closing their eyes, swaying back and forth during a song, arms fully extended as they try to touch the ceiling.  Personally, when I experience this going on around me, it REALLY distracts me from focussing on what I’m singing. Why must it be done? Does it ‘feel’ more worshipful? Worship should NOT be about a feeling, but rather, it should be about seeking to glorify and lift up the name of Christ.  I went to Hume Lake last summer, and the speaker made a most excellent point concerning worship.  He said that if you base your relationship with Christ off an experience you had once, your relationship will not last because experiences do not last. I completely agree. Again, does it create an experience that you can feel; feeling more worshipful? It certainly excludes everyone around the person, in that they are shutting off cooperate worship as a body of believers. The raising of hands and closing of eyes can be done in secret. God will reward you for that! Why? Because there is no one else to please in the room but him. You can have a very worshipful experience with God that way, but when you are with other believers, isn’t the point to fellowship in song with those around you? Otherwise no one would be there, right? Let me say as graciously as I can that raising your hands and closing your eyes is not a bad thing at all. What are out true motives when we ‘worship’ though? True worship is not a physical portrayal of glorifying God. In fact, in the OT & NT God rarely EVER mentions outward forms of worship. Worship can be outward, however; all forms of worship start in the heart and are portrayed through our actions. If that worship is portrayed as hands lifted high and eyes humbly closed, then praise God! I have been quite convicted in this area of my life for quite some time and struggle with humility often. Am I being to showy as I worship the one who fearfully and wonderfully created me? (I’m getting so far off the subject, but that’s ok). In a book called ‘The Screwtape Letters,’ C.S. Lewis dilineates a perfect scenario of the humility and pride issue: 

Our patient has become humble. Have you drawn his attention to this fact? All virtues are less formidable to us once the man is aware that he has them, but this is especially true of humility. Catch him at a moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection “By jove! I’m being humble,” and almost immediately pride – pride at his own humility – will appear. If he awakes to the danger and tries to smother his new form of pride, make him proud of his attempt – and so on, through as many stages as you please. But don’t try this for too long, for fear you awake his sense of humour and proportion, in which case he will merely laugh at you and go to bed.

So I guess the question that must be asked as we worship is this: Who are we displaying our “worship” for? Are we caring for the sick and hungry…and telling everyone about it? Are we closing our eyes and making sure we are in a place where everyone can see us? Are we questioning our motives as we glorify God?

Lord, please give us a heart of worship that only seeks to praise you and display glory for you alone!

prayer-making the connection

So next Wednesday I am speaking in my small group on meditation, prayer and memorization. I have had this post half written for literally 4 months (somewhere in that ballpark) and decided that i might as well just finish it since I’ll have to “study up” any way. I know this is REALLY long, but read till the end and you just my learn something. Soooo here she goes…

John Piper gave a sermon on this topic in 2003 called
Be Devoted to Prayer.
I encourage you to read it.

Let me also say before hand that prayer is not the only way God can speak to us. He speaks through His Word, our friends and family, our pastors, and even everyday occurrences that take place in our lives.

  • What?

a devout petition to God or an object of worship.

It seems so simple; yet books can be written on this subject -big thick books =)

Prayer is a privilege.
It’s not some whimsical act that should be taken lightly. Why?

3 Reasons

        1. You are talking to the God who created all things and desires our worship
        2. It is direct communication with God on a personal level
        3. We are commanded to do so (Colossians 4:2)

Before I begin quoting scripture here, I want to share what God taught me this past year. God in His infinite grace and mercy enabled me to go on a mission trip to Papua New Guinea over the summer. I was there for 10 weeks, preparing food for students there (Interface) and helping with maintenance around the campus when needed (the second half of the summer I participated in Interface). The staff there encouraged the hospitality team as well as the students to keep a prayer journal during our stay . I had never really kept a consistent prayer journal, but I thought I should give it a try. Thankfully, I was able to maintain my prayer journal (and still occasionally do). Well, a couple weeks after I had started journaling, I thought I would look back on what I had written, not to see if God had answered them, but just to reflect on thoughts and prayers that had been going through my mind earlier. When I started reading, I realized that not ONE of the prayers had gone unanswered! God had faithfully answered EVERY ONE of my requests! What an awesome God!! Starting with this experience, God would teach me that summer what prayer really is and how much weight it actually carries in our relationship with Him.

  • When?
    • Old Testament (pre-Christ)

Before Christ, the Israelites spoke to God through an Intercessor. These guys included Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and all the high priests of the Temple. Usually the communication with God was either hot or cold; complaints such as “We’re hungry and thirsty…so remind us why you brought us into the desert to starve to death…we were better off in Egypt,” were commonplace (Exodus 16:1-3, 17:1-3, Numbers 11:1-10, 14:1-4…and that’s not all); the occasional “Thank you Lord for delivering us out of SLAVERY,” was not (Exodus 14:29-33-15:1-21, 19:7 & 8). God of course would always provide for their every need, because he delights in providing, for, He is the Great Provider (Exodus 16:4 & 5, 17:5-7, Numbers 20:7-11, 11:31&32, Philippians 4:19). That’s a whole different topic, but this is a brief (VERY brief) example of the communication that commonly transpired between the Israelites and the Lord in the OT. They would complain to Moses (or whoever the leader might be at that time) and Moses would take their complaints to God. I will address the whole “intercessor” dealie a little later, but take note that Moses provides a detailed summary of Israel’s wants (not needs) to the Lord; not only does Moses let the Lord know what the Israelites are up to, but he also asks God to spare punishment on Israel (Numbers 14:17-20), asking God to spare them of their sins. Moses was the mediator between Israel and the Lord.

Another way in which the people of the OT communicated with God was directly. God would speak to them in dreams or even an audible voice as he did with Abraham, intervening before he sacrificed his one and only son.

Leviticus 16
God had commanded that once every year, a sacrifice be made for the sin of Israel. This sacrifice provided an atonement for the Israelites, a covering of their sin in the past year. There was no other way in which their sins could be forgiven, unless God had willingly credited righteousness to them as he did Abraham (Genesis 15:6), which was rare on account of the fickle beliefs of the Israelites. The observance of the day was an acknowledgment to God’s instructions and pormises and signified a belief and trust in Him. This Day of Atonement was to be an annual ceremony and was to be performed by the high priest Aaron (from the line of the Levites, one of twelve descendants of Jacob). So Aaron would take part in a ceremony ordained by the Lord in order that the Israelites sins be forgiven:

He shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and take its blood behind the curtain…He shall sprinkle it on the atonement cover and in front of it. In this way he will make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites, whatever their sins have been.
-Leviticus 16:15 & 16a

The Lord was very specific when it came to the ceremonies that took place in the OT. He made sure it was understood that Aaron was to be the ONLY person in the Tent of Meeting (portable tabernacle) while he made atonement in the Most Holy Place (or the Holy of Holies):

No one is to be in the Tent of Meeting from the time Aaron goes in to make atonement in the Most Holy Place until he comes out, having made atonement for himself, his household and the whole community of Israel. -Leviticus 16:17

In this way, and under God’s direct specific instruction lest we forget, Aaron made atonement for Israel’s sins. Moses and Aaron served as the “go-between” men for the Lord and His people. The Israelites could not come to the Lord whenever they pleased, or wherever they pleased for that matter; however, there is a stark difference and change in the way people would communicate with the Lord from the Old to New Testament (NT).

It is important to take note of the “Most Holy Place,” as I will be referring to it later on. It was also referred to as the Holy of Holies and is where God’s presence dwelt among the Israelites in the form of a cloud. The temple was made up of a courtyard where the sacrificial lamb was slain and where the priest could cleanse himself before entering the presence of God. Inside the courtyard was a kind of “building” that had two rooms. One called the Holy Place and the other the Most Holy Place. Between the two rooms was a thick curtain with a height of 18 meters and a width of 9 meters and about the thickness of a man’s hand which is about 4 inches. This was no ordinary window curtain. This was the equivalent to a wall; however, I will touch on this subject a little later.

    • New Testament (post-Christ)

Having been sent to the Earth by God, Jesus Christ radically changed the way that man would communicate with Him and His Father. Christ says in Matthew 5:17,

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets (OT); I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

Christ was sent to fulfill all that the prophets had written in the OT-concerning himself (Genesis 3:15) and concerning the way we would communicate with Him-and deliver the world from eternal separation from Him, His Father, and the Holy Spirit – the perfect unified trio – by dying in our place.

So we understand that there are two types of communication that transpire with the Lord: one in the Old Testament, before Christ, and one in the New, when Christ comes down to Earth.

  • How?

First off, as I quote the book of Hebrews, I want to say that it is a wonderful book to read for this topic and connects Christ to the OT in ways I couldn’t.

In the OT, the Lord spoke through an intercessor, as I mentioned earlier. He also spoke in dreams, through bushes, and even directly to people in the form of an angel or voice; however, after Christ fulfilled His mission to become the promised deliverer, this type of communication drastically changed.

There are so many verses that reveal the perfect picture of what transpired when Christ died on the cross. Remember the lamb that was to be offered as a temporary sacrifice in place of the death of the Israelites? In 1 Corinthians 5:7 it says

…Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

He was sacrificed on the cross, in place of us, so we wouldn’t have to die for our own sins, just as the lamb was killed in place of the Israelites. That’s why in Revelation 9 and John 1 it says “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” God was the priest and Christ was the sacrifice. But a quite different one than the temporary lamb that was used in the OT.

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins (this is after Christ, remember). But when this priest [Jesus] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. -Hebrews 10:10-12

The temple sacrifices became void of the ability to take away sin once Jesus became the perfect permanent sacrifice. Remember the Holy of Holies that the priest would enter to make the sacrifice? The Bible tells us that

Jesus called out with a loud voice,…”It is finished…Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last…he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. -John 19:30

When he had done this

The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. -Mark 15:38

Uh…tearing a curtain that is 4 inches thick is pretty incredible and totally supernatural; however, besides the externals, this event symbolizes so much more and brings me to my point.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body…let us draw near to God with a sincere hear in full assurance… -Hebrews 10:19-22

In John Cross’ book The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus, he puts it into layman’s terms. The “Scripture tells us that the Tabernacle curtain was a picture of [Christ’s] physical body. When he died on the cross, the curtain was ripped in two. No man could have tor the veil, but God tore it to illustrate Jesus’ body being sacrificed for you and me. As we put our trust in him, our sin is forgiven and we can boldly enter into God’s presence.”

Only was the priest allowed into the Most Holy Place. But when Jesus died and the curtain was ripped, God became accessible to all. No longer do we need an intercessor between us and Christ. No priest or pastor has to ask God for forgiveness on our behalf, as the priests did in the OT. We can now boldly enter the throne of God. That is what Paul means in Ephesians when he says

…you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. -Ephesians 2:13

As John Piper puts it in the sermon I mentioned earlier,

…The cross of Christ – his death in the place of sinners – is the foundation of all prayer. There would be no acceptable answer to WHY or HOW we pray if Christ had not died in our place. That’s why we pray “in Jesus’ name.”

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…

I would ask that as you read my posts, please examine what I say and not take what I have to share at face value. Should you come across a doctrinal issue or an error in objective interpretation that I have made in my studies, please, as a part of the body of Christ, admonish me. I want to present God’s Word accurately, not how I perceive it, but how He meant it to be perceived for the glory of Himself and the joy of all peoples.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And WHATEVER you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:15-17

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