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Plausible Arguments…

So I’m continuing on the train of thought I drifted onto yesterday. Today my heart rests on 2 Corinthians 10-11. These two chapters speak directly to issues that I have wrestled with of late. As someone who loves the Word, and loves the church, I read with interest, and sometimes dismay about things that occur in the larger Church world. There is no doubt that the terrain can be treacherous. But as one who takes seriously the term “faith seeking understanding”, it is a journey I must make.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on such matters by any stretch. But I just need to vent for a few minutes…

Paul used the phrase “super apostles” to describe the leaders he is speaking about in this passage. He called these men false apostles and deceitful workmen. They denied Paul his legitimate claim of apostleship because he refused to “burden” the Corinthians while with them and instead sought assistance from other sources or from the work of his own hands. They “boast[ed] the way the world does” and “enslave[d] and [took] advantage of” the Corinthians. They asserted their authority to take from the Corinthians and proclaimed themselves worthy by commending themselves to Christ.

How applicable to ourselves today! Paul reminds us that the enemy can masquerade as “an angel of light”. Deception is so deceptive because it is so subtle. The enemy never shows his hand until he has robbed you blind. He is a master of trickery and sleight of hand. Why do we expect him to raise a banner announcing his arrival?

In Colossians 2:2-4, Paul prayed that the believers in Colossae would “reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ.” His desire was that no one delude them with “plausible arguments”. This is an important phrase. Plausible means they sound reasonable on their face and therefore can be accepted by those who do not discern and dig. There is always a sliver of truth that makes the argument attractive enough to be considered. An outright lie would be found out to quickly. The enemy has used subtly since the beginning…his tactics never change.

As I stated yesterday, false teachers and the teaching they promote is not something we only have to concern ourselves with from outside sources – the problem will also come from within. Paul called on the Ephesian elders he addressed in Acts 20 to protect the flock; he charged Titus and Timothy to do the same; and he himself did likewise. Paul had no patience – and no kind words – for those who preached “another Christ” to the churches. And he exhorted the elders of the churches to have the same mind as he.

This is no less true today. We are still assaulted by “plausible arguments” that are just as lethal and worthy of disdain as did the early church. How many times are we warned in the New Testament that this would be the case – and yet we shrink back from holding any firm stand on issues of doctrine? Those who decry debates about doctrine as unnecessary, unloving or divisive have in my view underestimated the power of the enemy as he seeks to dilute the Gospel message. It’s all about unity – and indeed it should be. But how can we be unified in anything other than truth? If false teaching proliferates unchecked for the sake of unity, that is not true unity. We are sanctified and unified by the truth. Jesus is that truth; but we must be clear about what we mean when we say that. Otherwise, we will be tossed back and forth by every wind of doctrine.

I just had to get that off my chest…

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Even among us…

Last night I was reading in Act 20. In this passage, Paul has called the elders of the Ephesian church to meet with him before he departs. He knows this will be the last time he will ever see them again on this earth. In this their last meeting, he warns them that “fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock” (v. 29). This sounds scary enough, that there will be forces from the outside that will come in and tear the flock apart. But for me, verse 30 is even scarier: “and even among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” Not only from without, but from within, there will be those who will teach false doctrine that will draw believers away.

Paul never shied away from calling out false teachers. He did not worry about tone, or political correctness – his concern was preaching the Gospel and protecting the flock from false teachers. Why have we become so relunctant to do likewise? Does not the Word clearly warn us that false prophets and teachers will rise up? And that, if it were possible, even the elect will be led away by them?

More on this tomorrow, but this is really bothering me. That we seem to care so little about being faithful to the truth of Scripture in these days…the Word told us it would be this way, but it still makes me sorrowful… .

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2011 in A quick note

 

Hungry Satisfaction

“…that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the depth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge…” (Eph. 3:17-19 ESV)

One of my favorite worship songs is “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us”. When I consider the great love God has for us, I am amazed. How vast is this love…nothing can measure it or come close to describing the riches found in God’s love. As our verse suggests, this love surpasses knowledge; and yet we can indeed know of this love.

This implies two things: first, this knowing is more than mere intellectual assent. It is not simply knowing about His love, or His great acts of mercy and grace; it has to do with experiencing those things, acknowledging them as true toward and about you. God’s love is for you in Christ Jesus. But secondly, even as we know this and come to know more deeply, we will never exhaust the depths of it. It is so wide, so deep, so high…it is more than we can ever grasp.

This brings to my mind the phrase “hungry satisfaction”, which sounds like a contradiction. But this is what I mean: even in the knowing; even in knowing that in Christ is true meaning and fulfillment; even in knowing His love is our anchor and foundation, our purpose and peace; the hearts longs to know more of this love. As we are assured of His love, we long to grow closer still.

Prayer: Father, strengthen us this day that we may know of the deep riches of Your love for us, and fill us with Your fullness we pray. Amen.

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2011 in God's Character, Quick Thoughts

 

I’d be happy if…

…fill in the blank.

What do you think you “need” in order to make you happy? We all have a wish list; my list would run something like this: a husband, a new car, losing weight.

Now, don’t get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with any of these things. It is only when I expect more from them than they can deliver that I get into trouble… 

Consider these verses:

Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

It is not the riches that are in view in this passage, but the heart. You can be rich and desire more and more; or poor and desire to be rich. That desire can drive your actions and inform your commitments; this is what can plunge you into ruin. It is the love of money that is a root of all kinds of evil…the more you love money and are committed to it, the more you will be willing to do whatever it takes to get it. This is what we much guard against.

But I think we can move that into other areas of our lives. Calvin informs us that our hearts are “idol factories”. We were created to worship. If we do not direct that worship toward God, we will not cease to worship; we will just direct that worship to something else. Whatever becomes something we think we cannot live without, or be happy without becomes an idol to us.

In the book of Ecclesiastes, the Preacher sought to find meaning and purpose. He sought it in the accumulation of things, in seeking and fulfilling every pleasure that floated through his heart. Then he sought it in the accumulation of knowledge and wisdom. And he came to this conclusion: all is vanity, a striving of the wind. Everything done “under the sun”, done with just this temporal time and place in view will ultimately fail to fill that deepest longing, for God has placed eternity in our hearts (Ecc. 3:10). Nothing temporal will satisfy that. If we place all our hope in these temporal things, we will be disappointed.

But if we find our hope, rest, security and peace in Christ, we can joyfully praise and thank Him for the many gifts He bestows on us as we live this life.

It is the Lord who fills our hearts with that which truly fulfills us. The psalmist reminds us, “The Lord is [our] portion; apart from You [we] have no good thing.” He is the anchor for our souls, the hope that will never disappoint.

Let us hope in Him, and find our “happiness” in knowing that He is faithful to do what He has promised.

Grace and peace…

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2011 in Devotional Thoughts, Faith, Purpose

 

Ringing in the new…

My mom used to tell me all the time: The older you get, the faster time flies. I didn’t believe her then…boy, do I now! We are a few short hours away from saying goodbye to 2010 and hello to 2011. Seriously, where did this year go? And is this a sign that I’m getting old…don’t answer that…(wink).

I can’t say that 2010 was boring; it was anything but that. It wasn’t all fun and games, but what year is? Life is a journey that is filled with twists and turns, and this year had its share of both. But God has been faithful to me in all things, and has brought me to a place of peace as I look forward to what lies ahead in the new year. 

Wherever this night finds you, I pray the Lord’s blessing over you as you ring in this new year. Grace and peace to you.

Happy New Year.

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2010 in A quick note, Short but sweet...

 

With praise and thanksgiving…

I have struggled to write this blog entry because nothing I seem to write says exactly what I want to say. The subject matter is so profound, it defies full expression in mere words. As I said in my previous post, I would never be able to express in words all that this season means, what we celebrate. No one can, really. It is just that amazing.

In the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, it is very easy to forget the reason why we celebrate. Gifts, food (my personal favorite…), parties and family gatherings can crowd out the very reason for this season. It is cliched I know to say that, but it is true. The lament of Charlie Brown a half a century ago rings true even today, and perhaps even more so: Can anyone tell me what Christmas is all about?

So instead of wracking my brain trying to come up with the right words to say, I decided to let the Word speak for Himself. Nothing expresses the beauty of Christmas any better than the words we have in Scripture, the words that herald the coming of the Living Word, the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ…

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God…in Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…

…And the Word became flesh and dwelled among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…for He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, the image of the invisible God, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power…

…In Him the fullness of Deity dwells bodily…and all things were made through Him and without Him was not any thing made that was made…He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own people and they did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God…

…for through Him God reconciled all things to Himself, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross.

This is He Whom we celebrate this day. May your Christmas be filled with thoughts, with praise, and with thanksgiving for the One who came and died that we might live.

Merry Christmas.

(Scripture references: John 1:1-18; Colossians 1:15-20, 2:9-10;  Hebrews 1:1-3 ESV)

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2010 in Christmas, Devotional Thoughts

 

A fascinating read…

This is a fabulous piece…

http://www.whitehorseinn.org/blog/2010/12/22/jesus-according-to-o%e2%80%99reilly-colbert/

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2010 in Bible, Blogs I Frequent

 
 
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