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I am a Warrior for Christ

November 20th, 2011 Comments off

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The Substitute Gospel

September 1st, 2010 Comments off

The following is an excerpt from an introductory essay written by J.I. Packer back in 1958 for a piece by John Owen called, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ written in 1648.  Oh how true these words are…even today!

“There is no doubt that evangelicalism today is in a state of perplexity and unsettlement. In such matters as the practice of evangelism, the teaching of holiness, the building up of local church life, the pastor’s dealing with souls and the exercise of discipline, there is evidence of widespread dissatisfaction with things as they are and or equally widespread uncertainty as to the road ahead. This is a complex phenomenon, to which many factors have contributed; but, if we go to the root of the matter, we shall find that these perplexities are all ultimately due to our having lost our grip on the biblical gospel. Without realizing it, we have during the past century bartered that gospel for a substitute product which, though it looks similar enough in points of detail, is as a whole a decidedly different thing. Hence our troubles; for the substitute product does not answer the ends for which the authentic gospel has in past days proved itself so mighty. Why?

We would suggest that the reason lies in its own character and content. It fails to make men God-centered in their thoughts and God-fearing in their hearts because this is not primarily what it is trying to do. One way of stating the difference between it and the old gospel is to say that it is too exclusively concerned to be ‘helpful’ to man – to bring peace, comfort, happiness, satisfaction – and too little concerned to glorify God. The old gospel was ‘helpful’, too – more so, indeed, than is the new – but (so to speak) incidentally, for its first concern was always to give glory to God. It was always and essentially a proclamation of divine sovereignty in mercy and judgment, a summons to bow down and worship the mighty Lord on whom man depends for all good, both in nature and in grace. Its center of reference was unambiguously God. But in the new gospel the center of reference is man. This is just to say that the old gospel was religious in a way that the new gospel is not. Whereas the chief aim of the old was to teach people to worship God, the concern of the new seems limited to making them feel better. The subject of the old gospel was God and his ways with men; the subject of the new is man and the help God gives him. There is a world of difference. The whole perspective and emphasis of gospel preaching has changed.

From this change of interest has sprung a change of content, for the new gospel has in effect reformulated the biblical message in the supposed interests of ‘helpfulness’. Accordingly, the themes of man’s natural inability to believe, of God’s free election being the ultimate cause of salvation, and of Christ dying specifically for his sheep are not preached. These doctrines, it would be said, are not ‘helpful'; they would drive sinners to despair, by suggesting to them that it is not in their own power to be saved through Christ. (The possibility that such despair might be salutary is not considered: it is taken for granted that it cannot be, because it is so shattering to our self-esteem.) However this may be (and we shall say more about it later), the result of these omissions is that part of the biblical gospel is now preached as if it were the whole of that gospel; and a half-truth masquerading as the whole truth becomes a complete untruth. Thus, we appeal to men as if they all had the ability to receive Christ at any time; we speak of his redeeming work as if he had make it possible for us to save ourselves by believing; we speak of God’s love as if it were no more than a general willingness to receive any who will turn and trust; and we depict the Father and the Son, not as sovereignly active in drawing sinners to themselves, but as waiting in quiet impotence ‘at the door of our hearts’ for us to let them in.

It is undeniable that this is how we preach; perhaps this is what we really believe. But it needs to be said with emphasis that this set of twisted half-truths is something other than the biblical gospel. The Bible is against us when we preach in this way; and the fact that such preaching has become almost standard practice among us only shows how urgent it is that we should review this matter. To recover the old, authentic, biblical gospel, and to bring our preaching and practice back into line with it, is perhaps our most pressing present need. And it is at this point that Owen’s treatise on redemption can give us help.”

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Reflections from Haiti (Day 5)

May 23rd, 2010 Comments off

The fifth day we finished the house that we were working on since Day 3.  It was a bit more hot but not as bad as Monday.  The work day wasn’t too eventful as we buckled down and worked to finish the site.  That didn’t stop us from ministering to the people though!  If I recall correctly, the fifth day we had a lot more visitors coming by because helicopters were flying into the area and dropping off supplies, so a lot of the villagers were walking along the road.  More of our team mates went out this day than any other day I think, and we sang songs with them and played games, and shared Bible stories.

On one occasion I went out to take some pictures and talk to the kids as they were racing against each other and some of our team mates.  Once I got out there, I was asked to race, and so in spirit of cooperation I ran the race.  Little did I know that the boots I was wear pretty much makes it impossible to run in, and while all the kids were going to the finish line, I lost my balance and tumbled over and fell…  Pretty embarrassing, but I was surprised that even though the kids were laughing at me, they were helping me to get all the dust off of me.  It was a laughable moment, and took some pictures with the winner (who is incredibly fast).  His name is Pierre.

After we finished the house, we took a group picture with the home owner and all the Haitian’s that were working with us and a prayer.  I think that while God blessed us with great team unity, it also included the Haitian’s who were paid to work alongside with us.  Our team never excluded them during breaks, took care of them to make sure they drank water too.  They even bought us fresh coconuts the first working day.  So as we prayed we stood in a circle and held hands and prayed.  After we prayed, we all hugged and thanked each other for their hard work and dedication.

Not much happened when we got back to the house, but later that night, one of the team members heard some kind of  worship service going on next door to our compound and wasn’t sure if it was a voodoo related.  So some of us went to check it out, and confirmed that it was a voodoo service.  I don’t think they sacrificed any people or anything like that, but it was disturbing to see the service going on about 100 feet from our house.  We decided to bring out our travel guitar and have our nightly worship outside where we could sing praises to God, and pray over the situation.  Later, one of the cook’s daughters revealed to us that one of her friends was actually murdered earlier that very same day because of some voodoo ritual/followers.  That’s just one of the things people (not necessarily Christians) are up against in Haiti, and like I said before, voodoo teaches and instills fear into lives of its followers, because if they don’t do something, a bad curse will be placed on them.  Christians on the other hand give hope in Jesus Christ and He gives salvation and grace to those who repent and believe in Him.

I think seeing this voodoo worship gathering helped me realize that when doing God’s work, we are bound to see and experience opposition, because  there is ONE person who will do anything to stop the work of the Holy Spirit, and if we aren’t seeing that opposition or persecution in a sense, then maybe something is very wrong.  I can only imagine why Paul would count the sufferings for Christ sake pure joy.  Maybe it’s because he knows that the sufferings are what confirms the work he is doing is being strongly opposed by the one who does NOT want God’s Kingdom to advance…  I hope this speaks to your heart, because as Christians, we will NEVER have it easy, and the moment we get to comfortable in our life, the harder it will be to follow and answer God’s calling and direction.  May we all seek suffering not for the sake of suffering, but knowing what we are doing is really God’s will in our life.

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Reflections from Haiti (Day 5) – ON HOLD

May 21st, 2010 Comments off

Hi everyone…I’m pretty exhuasted from everything that’s been going on, so I’ll post it up as soon as I can.  City to City Praise night tomorrow “All or Nothing” at CGBC!  Come worship with us at 7pm! =)

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Reflections from Haiti (Day 4)

May 20th, 2010 Comments off

God answered all of our team members prayers on the forth day because the weather the day before was making the working conditions extremely difficult.  The forth day weather was a lot cooler and more overcast, so we were able to get a lot more work done and be more efficient.  We still had to take regular breaks to keep from being dehydrated.  It actually rained overnight, so all the water we filled with debris came back.  We rode a tap-tap, which is like a truck converted into a taxi, and we sit on benches in the back.  The road to the house we were working on was almost impassable, because of the rain water basically converted the road into a river.  We decided to just push through and luckily we didn’t get stuck in the water.

The second day I went out with a couple team members to play and hang out with a group of kids, and then we shared with them the Creole tract, and went through the tract with them.  It was so neat to hear all these kids from 5-14ish reading the Bible verses in unison from the tract.  It may have been their first time every hear about the Gospel, and the thing about the Gospel is it holds power in itself, and we only need to be obedient and just tell the Gospel to those we meet.  I think there were 14 or 15 kids there that actually professed their faith and prayed the salvations prayer.  So praise God that we will see those kids in Heaven.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have Bible’s in Creole, but we told them to go to the local church that we were partnering with to clean up and demo the house we were at.  We continued to sing songs with them, and praised God right at the site.

Just before lunch, a little kid came up to me and I swear he looked so much like my sponsor child in Mozambique (his name is Bebito Pepa).  I took a picture with him, and he just sort of stuck around me during lunch and afterwards he picked up a shovel and started helping….it was soooo cute.  His name was Luis Alberto and I couldn’t catch his last name so I say his last name is Bebito =)

During a break in the afternoon, I was talking to a Haitian person, and all of a sudden he was asking me why did I come to Haiti, and I said basically that I wanted to help Haiti because it is in so much need.  And he seemed confused and asked “but why Haiti?”  I was caught off guard by his question, because I didn’t really realize that I could have gone anywhere else in the world to help those in need, so what made Haiti the place to go???  I responded to him that I follow where ever God calls me to go, and  felt called to come here to Haiti.  My answer seemed to satisfy me, but it didn’t dawn on me that he WASN’T a Haitian worker with our team like I thought he was (because his English was mediocre).  I don’t know if this man knows God personally, but I hope my answers and testimony of being there helped give him hope in God.

We quit work at about 2:30, but we got a lot of the debris cleaned up and moved.  there was still some rebars to cut and take down but we didn’t have the proper tools to do any of that, so there wasn’t much we else we could do.  I had ONE yellow disaster relief shirt for the ENTIRE week….so I had to hand wash it every day after we worked.

I can’t remember any encouraging sharing’s during dinner or our team debriefing, I forgot to bring my journal back home with me today.  I do remember that we sung worship songs again in the kitchen with the travel guitar.  It was a great time of worship.

Sorry my post is a little short today, since I didn’t have my journal with me, I didn’t remember anything else for the day.  Enjoy the pictures though, and if there are any important updates for day four I will edit this post!

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