Faith is the beginning.....

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Prayer

Orthodox Prayer

O Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in
peace.
Help me in all things to rely upon Your Holy
will.
In every hour of the day reveal Your will to me.
Bless my dealings with all who surround me.
Teach me to treat all that come to me with
peace of soul and with firm conviction that
Your will governs all.
Grant me strength in unforeseen events. Let me
not forget that all are sent by You.
Teach me to act lovingly, firmly, and wisely,
without embittering or embarrassing others.
Grant me strength to bear the fatigues of the
coming day with all that it shall bring.
Direct my will. Teach me to pray. Pray You
Yourself in me.
Amen.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Tips on Assessing Worship Music

                                Criteria for Discerning the Usefulness of Praise Songs

Very excellent guidelines (not complicated!) for determining whether praise/worship songs are valid and Biblically based.

From: Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller

Determining the truth of what someone is saying is impossible if the person isn't actually saying anything. This is the great difficulty of assessing praise songs commonly used in the church. The nature of modern praise songs makes them difficult to make useful judgments regarding their fitness for use in the church's worship. Often the songs are written in sentence fragments, thought and phrases rather than a regular sentence with a subject, verb and object. Simple questions are often unanswerable: “Who is this talking about?” “What does this mean?” “What is the relationship between one phrase and another?”

When I was a child we would play a game on the 4th of July. Some smarty would take a tub of Vaseline and slather up a watermelon and toss it into the swimming pool. Dozens of kids would try to get it out of the water. Anytime you thought you had a hold of the melon it would squirt out of your arms. This is something of the difficulty in making a clear judgment about such ambiguous lyrics. (Of course this ambiguity is a big part of the problem.)

What is needed, then, is an objective method of judging the usefulness of a praise song for edifying the Lord's church and bringing the comfort of the forgiveness of sins.

The following criteria are offered for use in considering the usefulness of praise songs.


1. Jesus
“Is Jesus mentioned?”

          Yes             No              If yes, is it in name or concept?

2. Clarity
Is the song clear? Does it use sentences (with subject, verb, object) or sentence fragments?

                    10  9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2  1
           Very clear                       Obscure

3. Mysticism (Subjectivity vs Objectivity)
Is the song about the things that God has done (objective), or about my own emotions and experiences (subjective)? Does the song repeat the same phrases over and over in an hypnotic mantra?

                  10  9  8   7 6   5 4  3  2  1
             Objective                      Subjective

4. Law and Gospel 
Does the song proclaim the law in its sternness and the Gospel in its sweetness (the Gospel is the promise of the forgiveness of all sins won for us through Jesus' death on the cross)? Are law and Gospel rightly divided (and not mixed up)? Is the law presented as something that we can do, or does it show us our sins? Is the Gospel conditional (based on my actions, decisions, acceptance)?

              Yes             No           I can't tell

5. Is there any explicit false teaching?

               Yes            No

From: http://www.hope-aurora.org/docs/praisesongcruncher.pdf

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Excellent Discussion on Works vs. Grace For Salvation





A great commentary -- the question always remains: do we do the good deed to "prove" that we are saved? No, we are saved and thus, good deeds follow. From www.waytogod.org:  Go Here

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Unrepenting Repenter By: Jim Elliff

The Unrepenting Repenter

The believer in Christ is a lifelong repenter.  He begins with repentance and continues in repentance. (Rom. 8:12-13) David sinned giant sins but fell without a stone at the mere finger of the prophet because he was a repenter at heart (2 Sam. 12:7-13). Peter denied Christ three times but suffered three times the remorse until he repented with bitter tears (Mt. 26:75). Every Christian is called a repenter, but he must be a repenting repenter. The Bible assumes the repentant nature of all true believers in its instruction on church discipline. A man unwilling to repent at the loving rebuke of the church can be considered nothing more than "a heathen and a tax collector." (Mt. 18:15-17)

What is repentance?

Repentance is a change of mind regarding sin and God, an inward turning from sin to God, which is known by its fruit—obedience. (Mt. 3:8; Acts 26:20; Lk. 13:5-9) It is hating what you once loved and loving what you once hated, exchanging irresistible sin for an irresistible Christ. The true repenter is cast on God. Faith is his only option. When he fully knows that sin utterly fails him, God takes him up. (Mt. 9:13b) He will have faith or he will have despair; conviction will either deliver him or devour him.
The religious man often deceives himself in his repentance. The believer may sin the worst of sins, it is true; but to remain in the love of sin, or to be comfortable in the atmosphere of sin, is a deadly sign, for only repenters inhabit heaven. The deceived repenter would be a worse sinner if he could, but society holds him back. He can tolerate and even enjoy other worldly professing Christians and pastors well enough, but does not desire holy fellowship or the fervent warmth of holy worship. If he is intolerant of a worship service fifteen minutes "too long," how will he feel after fifteen million years into the eternal worship service of heaven? He aspires to a heaven of lighthearted ease and recreation—an extended vacation; but a heaven of holiness would be hell to such a man. Yet God is holy, and God is in heaven. He cannot be blamed for sending the unholy man to hell despite his most articulate profession (Heb. 12:14).

What are the Substitutes for true Repentance?

1. You may reform in the actions without repenting in the heart. (Ps. 5 1: 16-17; Joel 2:13) This is a great deception, for the love of sin remains. (I Jn. 2:15-17; Acts 8:9-24) At this the Pharisees were experts. (Mk. 7:1-23) The heart of a man is his problem. A man may appear perfect in his actions but be damned for his heart. His actions are at best self-serving and hypocritical. What comes from a bad heart is never good. "Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh." (Jas. 3:11-12)
2. You may experience the emotion of repentance without the effect of it. Here is a kind of amnesia. You see the awful specter of sin in the mirror and flinch out of horror yet immediately forget what kind of person you saw (Jas. 1:23-24). It is true, repentance includes sincere emotion, an affection for God and a disaffection for sin. Torrents of sorrow may flood the repenter’s heart, and properly so (Jas. 4:8-10). But there is such a thing as a temporary emotion in the mere semblance of repentance; this emotion has very weak legs and cannot carry the behavior in the long walk of obedience. Your sorrow may even be prolonged. Yet if it does not arrive at repentance, it is of the world and is a living death—and maybe more (2 Cor. 7: 10). It is an old deceiver. Judas had such remorse but "went and hanged himself." (Mt. 27:3-5)
3. You may confess the words of a true repenter and never repent. (Mt. 21:28-32; 1 Jn. 2:4, 4:20) Confession by itself is not repentance. Confession moves the lips; repentance moves the heart. Naming an act as evil before God is not the same as leaving it. Though your confession may be honest and emotional, it is not enough unless it expresses a true change of heart. There are those who confess only for the show of it, whose so-called repentance may be theatrical but not actual. If you express repentance to appear successful, you will not be successful at repenting. You will speak humbly but sin arrogantly. Saul gave the model confession (I Sam. 15:24-26) and later went to hell. Repentance "from the teeth out" is no repentance.
4. You may repent for the fear of reprisal alone and not for the hatred of sin. Any man will stop sinning when caught or relatively sure he will be, unless there is insufficient punishment or shame attached (I Tim. 1:8-11). When there are losses great enough to get his attention, he will reform. If this is the entire motive of his repentance, he has not repented at all. It is the work of law, but not grace. Men can be controlled by fear, but what is required is a change of heart. Achan admitted his sin after being caught but would not have otherwise. Find his bones in the valley of Achor; his soul, most likely, in hell. (Josh. 7:16-26)
5. You may talk against sin in public like a true repenter but never repent in private. (Mt. 23:1-3) The exercise of the mouth cannot change the heart. Your sin is like a prostitute. You are speaking against your lover in public but embracing her in the bedroom. She is not particular about being run down in public if she can have your full attention in private. "Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?" (Jas. 4:4)
6. You may repent primarily for temporal gains rather than the glory of God. There are gains for the repenter, but the final motivation for repenting cannot be selfish. Self is a dead, stinking carcass to be discarded. We are to repent because God is worthy and is our respected authority, even if we gain nothing. Indeed, our repenting may appear to lose us more than our sin had gained. (Mt. 16:24-26; Phil. 3:7-8) And this is a test of true repentance.
7. You may repent of lesser sins for the purpose of avoiding the greater sins. (Lk. 11:42) We try to salve our nagging conscience by some minor exercise of repentance, which is really no repentance at all. The whole heart is changed in the believer. The half repenter is a divided man: part against sin and part for it; part against Christ, part for Him. But one or the other must win out, for man cannot serve God and mammon (or any other idol); he must love the one and hate the other. (Mt. 6:24)
8. You may repent so generally that you never repent of any specific sin at all. The man who repents in too great a generality is likely covering his sins. (Prov. 28:13) If there are no particular changes, there is no repenting. Sin has many heads, like the mythological Hydra. It cannot be dealt with in general, but its heads must be cut off one by one.
9. You may repent for the love of friends and religious leaders and not repent for the love of God. (Isa. 1: 10-17) A man talked into repentance may reform for the love of friends or the respect of the spiritually minded, yet do nothing substantial. If a man turns from sin without turning to God, he will find his sin has only changed its name and is hidden behind his pride. Now it will be harder to rout for its subterfuge. You have loved others but not God. And you have loved yourself most of all. Lot’s wife left the city of sin at the insistence of an angel and for the love of her family, but turned back. She had left her heart. "Remember Lot’s wife." (Gen. 19:12-26; Lk. 17:32)
10. ‘You may confess the finished action of sin and not repent from the continuing habit of sin. If a man is honest, he is a good man in human terms; but he is not a repenting man until the sin is stabbed to death. He must be a murderer if he would be God’s: "For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live." (Rom. 8: 13) God knows what you have done; what He wants is obedience. (Lk. 6:46)
11. You may attempt repentance of your sin while consciously leaving open the door of its opportunity. A man who says " I repent" but will not leave the source or environment of that sin is suspect. Though some situations which invite temptation cannot be changed, most can. A man who will not flee the setting of his temptation when he is able still loves his sin. A mouse is foolish to build his nest under the cat’s bed. "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts." (Rom. 13:14)
12. You may make an effort to repent of some sins without repenting of all the sin you know. The businessman learns to show concern for the needs of his clients, yet he batters his wife through neglect. Another gives his money in the offering plate weekly but steals time from his employer daily. Every man boasts of some sins conquered, but true repentance is a repulsion of sin as a whole. The repenter hates all sin, though he fails more readily in some than in others. He may not know all his sins, but what he knows he spurns. Repentance is universal in the believer; the spirit is willing even when the flesh is weak (Mt. 26:41).
Repentance and faith are bound together. A repenting man has no hope for obedience without faith in the source of all holiness, God Himself. In repenting of sins, he loses his self-sufficiency. God is his sanctifier. (Jude 24-25; 1 Thess. 5:23-24; 1 Pet. 1:5)
Repentance is a gift of God (Acts 11:19; 2 Tim. 2:25) and a duty of man (Acts 17:30; Lk. 13:3). You will know if it has been granted by the exercise of it. (Phil. 2:12-13) Do not wait for it; run toward it. "Be zealous and repent." (Rev. 3:19) Pursue it and you will find it; forget it and perish.

Reprinted in entirety with permission. Copyright © 2013  Jim Elliff
See more at: http://www.ccwtoday.org/article/the-unrepenting-repenter

Monday, May 11, 2015

Defeating Discouragement and Doubt





How often it is that worldly concerns for us believers seem to overtake and consume us! I must confess I have struggled with this throughout my life. I am growing, however, in this area and find that it is grievous to God if I don't trust Him and His ability to provide for me; God desires that we trust/believe and not doubt, for it discredits His promises to us. He delights in our belief and trust! He would rather our thoughts be concerned with doing His will and reaching the lost. How much precious time we waste in our cares of this current life which lasts only as long as a flower -- here today, gone tomorrow. In light of eternity this helps put it in focus.

In Matt 16:6, Jesus said unto them, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees." The disciples were perplexed and thought Jesus was rebuking them for not bringing bread with them for the journey. But Jesus meant something entirely different - He rebuked them for not remembering that He had performed the miracles of the bread and fish for the multitudes that He had mercy on, thus reminding them that if He can feed thousands with only a few fish and loaves, how much more can he take care of them? Rather Jesus was warning them of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees. It had nothing to do with having no bread!

For further insight we find an excellent commentary on trusting the Lord in Matthew Henry's clear terms:

"O ye of little faith, why are ye disquieted for want of bread?’’ Note, To distrust Christ, and to disturb ourselves when we are in straits and difficulties, is an evidence of the weakness of our faith, which, if it were in exercise as it should be, would ease us of the burden of care, by casting it on the Lord, who careth for us."

"The aggravation of their distrust was the experience they had so lately had of the power and goodness of Christ in providing for them, v. 9, 10. Though they had no bread with them, they had him with them who could provide bread for them. If they had not the cistern, they had the Fountain. Do ye not yet understand, neither remember? Note, Christ’s disciples are often to be blamed for the shallowness of their understandings, and the slipperiness of their memories. "Have ye forgot those repeated instances of merciful and miraculous supplies; five thousand fed with five loaves, and four thousand with seven loaves, and yet they had enough and to spare? Remember how many baskets ye took up.’’

For more encouragement in trusting God for all of life, below is a wonderful message from non-other than Charles Spurgeon, the great preacher from the 17th century:

"Only be thou strong and very courageous." — Joshua 1:7Our God's tender love for His servants makes Him concerned for the state of their inward feelings. He desires them to be of good courage. Some esteem it a small thing for a believer to be vexed with doubts and fears, but God thinks not so. From this text it is plain that our Master would not have us entangled with fears. He would have us without carefulness, without doubt, without cowardice. Our Master does not think so lightly of our unbelief as we do. When we are desponding we are subject to a grievous malady, not to be trifled with, but to be carried at once to the beloved Physician. Our Lord loveth not to see our countenance sad. It was a law of Ahasuerus that no one should come into the king's court dressed in mourning: this is not the law of the King of kings, for we may come mourning as we are; but still He would have us put off the spirit of heaviness, and put on the garment of praise, for there is much reason to rejoice. The Christian man ought to be of a courageous spirit, in order that he may glorify the Lord by enduring trials in an heroic manner. If he be fearful and fainthearted, it will dishonor his God. Besides, what a bad example it is. This disease of doubtfulness and discouragement is an epidemic which soon spreads amongst the Lord's flock. One downcast believer makes twenty souls sad. Moreover, unless your courage is kept up Satan will be too much for you. Let your spirit be joyful in God your Savior, the joy of the Lord shall be your strength, and no fiend of hell shall make headway against you: but cowardice throws down the banner. Moreover, labor is light to a man of cheerful spirit; and success waits upon cheerfulness. The man who toils, rejoicing in his God, believing with all his heart, has success guaranteed. He who sows in hope shall reap in joy; therefore, dear reader, "be thou strong, and very courageous."

In closing may I mention a verse out of John 16:33 "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

Keep trusting our Lord! He loves you with an everlasting love!

Growing in Him,

Mountain Girl 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Offense of the Gospel

We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Focus on the Family Misses it and More...

The Christian ministry, Focus on the Family, has been on a downgrade for years. I have decided to bring attention to this destructive trend in so-called Christianity in which they are a strong voice. Their programs air multiple times a day on the radio here in Colorado so it is hard to miss them.

A while back Jim Daly interviewed Bono and with raised eyebrow I listened as he said things like, Bono is not your conventional Christian or something to that effect and that he had colorful language. Colorful indeed!! Bono is a hardcore anti-Christian man who thinks anyone who adheres to historical, Biblical Christianity is a Pharisee. He mocks us, in fact. But FOTF is willing to overlook that because he does so much good in the world...but not in the name of the Christ of the Bible, so why did they even give him an interview? It should also be noted that FOTF has been trending toward Catholicism for quite some time, which also includes Contemplative Spirituality, if they aren't already fully embracing the Catholic religion. That's another story for another time.

I think the final straw for me was the article on www.christianpost.com HERE where Jim Daly, the President of FOTF, defended his ministry reviewing the movie, Fifty Shades of Grey, by stating that it was necessary to warn the Christian public about it's evils...of course, to see for themselves just how evil it was, their reviewer, Paul Asay, of their "Plugged In" movie review SITE mentioned that it was his job to expose the dark by bringing a bit of light to this movie. As if the secular reviews weren't explicit enough he found it necessary to go see for himself. Huh?? I can remain silent no more!! What is further causing my blood to boil is his condescending response to someone who sent him an email that said, "....and I am troubled at the thought of sending one of your employees to go see it.” Asay responds, "I love this email. I so appreciate that he, and many other readers, worry about us over here. And pray for us, too. The sentiment and supplication both mean a lot." Uh-huh, I wonder if that would be his response to someone like me who says he is a hypocrite and how dare he present himself as being pious by watching the movie; a movie by the way, where if a Christian unknowingly (not likely) attended, within a very short amount of time, I'm guessing, would up and leave in protest, but not this fella, no, he was going to give a detailed account of the vile stuff. Shame, shame on him! At the end of his review he writes, "...It’s not very bright, this little light of mine. But in the darkness, every little bit helps. And I hope that my tiny light of a movie review might lead others to a better, brighter one." I think the verse in Luke 11:35 fits nicely, "Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness."

I wrote a response (some slight changes) to Paul Asay's defense on the Plugged In site..we'll see if my comment gets published, as well as on Christian Post in response to Jim Daly's article which was published. Here it is:

My blood boils when a Christian ministry defends an action that is clearly outside the bounds of Christian duty. It is the duty of the Christian to avoid any semblance of evil and the fact that Jim Daly is making excuses as to why their ministry went to the movie is unconscionable!! You should be ashamed of yourself! You are a hypocrite.

But then this is the ministry that defended interviewing Bono who happens to be a scoffer of the Bible. He twists scripture and mocks true, historical Christianity calling it Pharisaical. He has a trash mouth as well, but FOTF defends this man because he does so much in the name of philanthropy. Focus, you are a legalistic organization which puts the actions of people over and above their belief system. You are not promoting the interests of Christ but the interests of people who want a watered down version of the Gospel. The fact that you defend actually going to and seeing the movie merely for review purposes implies voyeurism and titillation. How dare you defend this, but one thing is for sure...you have shown your true colors.