Popular Posts


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Simeon on self-esteem

What does your church teach about SELF-ESTEEM???  Hopefully, the following won't be completely new to you!

The subject is poverty of spirit and mourning, as Jesus spoke of in Matthew 5:3-4, and how that compares to the self-esteem movement of our day.
After being a Christian for 40 years, including over 30 years as a pastor, Charles Simeon wrote these words (in the early 1800s):

"With this sweet hope of ultimate acceptance with God, I have always enjoyed much cheerfulness before men;  but I have at the same time labored incessantly to cultivate the deepest humiliation before God.  I have never thought that the circumstance of God’s having forgiven me, was any reason why I should forgive myself;  on the contrary, I have always judged it better to loathe myself the more, in proportion as I was assured that God was pacified towards me…  There are but two objects that I have ever desired for these forty years to behold; the one, is my own vileness; and the other is, the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

John Piper wrote of Simeon’s attitude:  “If Simeon is right, vast portions of contemporary Christianity are wrong.”  And just to be clear, my friend, Simeon is right.

That wasn’t a one-time statement of Charles Simeon – it was his life.  He fled to the place of refuge, the place that so many today try to flee from.  He wrote:

"Repentance is in every view so desirable, so necessary, so suited to honor God, that I seek that above all.  The tender heart, the broken and contrite spirit, are to me far above all the joys that I could ever hope for in this vale of tears.  I long to be in my proper place, my hand on my mouth, and my mouth in the dust… I feel this to be safe ground.  Here I cannot err…  I am sure that whatever God may despise… He will not despise the broken and contrite heart”

After Simeon had served at Trinity Church for 50 whole years and contemplating the success he had had in ministry, he wrote “I love the valley of humiliation.  I there feel that I am in my proper place.”

What a stark contrast to so much of Christianity in our society, which is boastful, proud, and very much pleased with itself!  Many churches of today are more interested in promoting good feelings and self-fulfillment rather than encouraging poverty of spirit.

Dr. John MacArthur put it this way:

"Yet in the church today there is little emphasis on humility, little mention of self-emptying.  We see many Christian books on how to be happy, how to be successful, how to overcome problems, and on and on.  But we see very few books on how to empty ourselves, how to deny ourselves, and how to take up our crosses and follow Jesus – in the way that He tells us to follow Him."

Does this reflect your heart?  Your desire?  You may not "be there" yet, but is that the direction you're headed?  The direction you want to head?  If so, then you're on your way to what Jesus said in Matthew 5:3-4.

One helpful resource related to this is to read the prayers of the Puritans.  If you don't have one, get a copy of The Valley of Vision (Arthur Bennett, editor), which you can find in paperback form, or even in a bonded leather for less than $20.  It is one of the most important little books that the Christian can have.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Strange Fire 2013

Having now listened to all the messages Strange Fire 2013, I give it my high recommendation, and I encourage you to listen to at least some of the messages.

Grace To You has graciously put all the messages on their web site, in both audio and video form.

I've listed them below, and links are included.

In particular, I recommending listening to these:

#2. This may be especially interesting to the ladies, or those who suffer with physical problems and challenges.
#4.  Dr. Lawson does an excellent job of addressing what John Calvin said about this issue.
#7.  Tom Pennington talks about why we are cessationists, from the Bible.
#14.  This is a superb message that shows just how weak and counterfeit current Charismatic claims are, compared to the real sign gifts as found in the Bible.

The main link is here.

Here are the individual messages:

Strange Fire
John MacArthur
A Deeper Healing
Joni Eareckson Tada
Undervaluing Pentecost
RC Sproul
Calvin’s Critique of Charismatic Calvinists
Steve Lawson
The African Import of Charismatic Chaos
Conrad Mbewe
Testing the Spirits
John MacArthur
A Case for Cessationism
Tom Pennington
A Word from the Lord? Evaluating the Modern Gift of Prophecy
Nathan Busenitz
Is There a Baby in the Charismatic Bathwater?
Phil Johnson
The Devilish Puppet Master of the Word-Faith Movement
Justin Peters
Strange Fire Panel Question and Answer, Session 1
The Puritan Commitment to Sola Scriptura
Steve Lawson
Are We Preachers or Witch Doctors?
Conrad Mbewe
Charismatic Counterfeits: Do the Modern Gifts Meet the Biblical Standard?
Nathan Busenitz
Providence Is Remarkable
Phil Johnson
Spiritual Shipwreck of the Word-Faith Movement
Justin Peters
Strange Fire Panel Question and Answer, Session 2
An Appeal to Charismatic Friends
John MacArthur
An Appeal to Charismatic Pretenders
John MacArthur


Thursday, August 29, 2013

four years ago today

This is more personal than what I would normally share openly like this, but thought it worthwhile, hoping it would encourage someone, and give all glory to God.  It is the short version of my testimony for the last four years, of how the Lord has worked in my life.

Four years ago today, my boss told me that my position had been moved to another country.  Someone far away got my job.

In the IT (information technology) world, this sometimes happens.  Companies want to save money (which I can understand), and so when they find someone that is qualified (or halfway close) that they can pay a whole lot less, they do it.

Let me back up a bit. 
For 23 years, ever since I got out of college, I worked for the same company, doing mainframe software.  Eventually, due to a number of things going on there, I looked for and found a similar position in another company.  I realized that I was moving from a very secure position (because of my reputation), to being the new guy, and that I would potentially be the first to go should they decide to cut staff.  And that's exactly what happened.

After only 16 months at the new company, I was out of work.  "Honey, I lost my job."
My dear wife took it extremely well.  We believe in the sovereignty of God, including in things like employment.  Over the years, God had blessed us, and in our attempt to apply biblical principles for finances, we did have savings to last us for a while.

For a number of years, it had been my desire ("my plan") to retire from IT at around age 55 or so, and work for the church in ministry.  I had been ordained as an elder/pastor (in a "non-vocational" way) over 12 years previously, and pastoral ministry was something I wanted to continue to learn and grow in.

Well, instead of being 55, I was 46, and out of a job.  "My plan" wasn't working out.  What was God's plan?

I asked the church where I had been serving as one of the (unpaid) pastors/elders for 12 years (and attending for 16 years) if they would hire me part-time.  They did, and the drain on the finances went from a fire hose to a large garden hose.  More importantly, it was an opportunity that I had hoped for.

But after a year, the church told me the finances wouldn't allow continued support like that, and so again, I was out of a "job".  I continued at the church, of course, seeking God's direction.

To cut quite a bit out of the story, I ended up church-planting
two suburbs away (around 15 miles).  It was never my intention to compete with my previous church, and I didn't.  I don't believe sound churches should compete, but cooperate in ministry.  That was two years ago.

Today, two years later, Grace Bible Church of Allen (TX) is still very small, but still going.  My savings is long gone.  My modest IRA/401K has disappeared.  We sold our house, and some of the equity we had in it has been spent.  What would the Lord do?  How would our needs be met?

I never really wanted to get back into software, but always knew it was a possibility.  After being out of the industry for four years, a local company decided they wanted me.  So in a few days, my new job starts, and I hope it will be another ministry opportunity.  It's going to be a challenge, with paid "secular" work, continuing to be involved with preaching and church work, and of course a family with 7 children.  What's going to happen?  I really don't know.  But God does, and that's good enough for me.

I thank the Lord I lost my job four years ago today.  It sure hasn't helped the pocketbook, but in that time, I've learned much.  God had worked in my heart about evangelism.  I've gained a deeper love for the gospel.  I'm far bolder than I used to be, though there is still much room for growth.  Preaching each week is an honor and a challenge.  I wouldn't change a thing (except my sin).

No matter what comes, may Christ be praised, and honored, and worshipped.  "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." (Job 13:15a)

As I stated four years ago, in my final sermon at my previous church,
"Life is more than one’s possessions.  He who dies with the most toys – loses them all.  Saving money is a good thing, but we must never cling to what God has given us.  If the Lord wants to take me down to my last wrinkled dollar bill or my last rusty nickel, then praise be to Christ, because it is His dollar and nickel anyway.  If I were to die penniless, then at least there would be one way that I was like Christ."
Whatever may come, by the grace and strength of God, it is my intention and my commitment to serve the Lord in whatever way He ordains, for the glory of Christ, for the edification of saints, and for the conversion of sinners.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Aker AK-38 info

The Aker AK-38 (MR-AK38) is one of the best small amps, as far as portable, easy-to-carry amps are concerned.  I like mine!

Here is a bit of info, just for reference:

They run around $65-$90 new, available on Amazon, or via some eBay sellers.
Manufacturer's link is here.
Manual (pdf) is here.

The battery isn't a typical battery -- but you can buy a replacement here (price as of this writing, $15).  It looks like this:

You can also buy other accessories by going here, including:
I've even seen a RED one from one eBay seller.

A few other articles / reviews:

A few videos about the AK-38:
  • a short review of the AK-38
  • a video showing several being used, including using a "Y" cable to hook 1 microphone to 2 AK-38s, which worked great

This little "article" has lots of links.  In the future, some of them may become dead links.  (Sorry 'bout that.)  But hopefully, this will give you some useful info, some ideas, and encourage you to consider this little amp.  And if you're a proclaimer of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, get one, and use it to the glory of God.

(Are you forgiven?)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Worldliness in church leadership

"Worldliness is rampant in the church. The devil is not fighting churches, he is joining
Vance Havner
them! He is not persecuting Christianity, he is professing it. When many think the world is becoming more Christian, Christians are becoming worldlier. The friend of the world is the enemy of God and if we love the world the love of the Father is not in us." - Vance Havner

We are rightly concerned for the state of the church in our day.  We might point out a number of specific issues that tell us that the church is not what she ought to be.

I'd like to address just one area:  the holiness of her leaders.  Please hang with me...

A few days ago, a flyer came in our mailbox, advertising a big multi-campus "church" that is nearby.  Since I like to have a feel for what's out there that is local to me, I thought I'd check out their web site.

What I found was a fairly typical web site.  The doctrinal statement was a bit lite, but reasonably sound. 
Then I went to the leadership section.  It listed quite a few folks, since it seems to be a pretty big "church", and there was a bit of bio info for each person.  What was posted there was, frankly, fairly shocking.

Before I list what was a big concern, let me state something first.  Most of us, at one time or another, have seen things on a screen (TV, movie, computer, etc.) that are not appropriate.  Maybe it was accidental, or maybe it was even on purpose.  Maybe it was just questionable, or maybe it was WAY across the line.  But hopefully, such things should cause us to grieve over sin, to hate it, to confess it to God, and repent (turn away).  Our commitment must be to holiness, to view things that are honorable and of good reputation.

But on this "church"
web site, many of them openly admit to watching, shall I say, "filth".  It wasn't a matter of watching it, and then realizing it was trash, but watching it, and saying, openly, "it's my favorite movie" (or TV show).

What was there, exactly?

I've never seen "Seinfeld", but my understanding is that for its time, it was the raunchiest show on TV.  Which leaders from this "church" list it as their favorite TV show?  The Executive/Finance Assistant, the Spiritual Growth Pastor, the Children's Pastor, and the Technical Director.

Some of their bios also list a favorite movie.  What was there?

Well, the High School Pastor liked "Gladiator", which is rated "R" for extreme violence.

By far, the most common favorite movie was "Braveheart".  What do movie reviews say about that one?  Above the waist female frontal nudity, below the waist male frontal nudity (though from a distance), below the waist male backside nudity (clearly seen), extreme graphic violence, and significant profanity.  Just WHO from this church listed "Braveheart" as his favorite movie?  The Lead Pastor, the Weekend Programming "Pastor" (a female), the Children's Pastor, an Assistant Campus Pastor, and a Student Pastor.  It's not just that they liked this "R" movie -- it is listed as their favorite!

Just a couple more issues, before I close...

Some of the bios have a "favorite quote".  The Lead Pastor listed a quote from the movie "A Few Good Men" (rated "R"), which (according to reviews) is a movie that is riddled with profanity, including multiple statements of pure blasphemy, the taking of our glorious and holy God's name in vain.

Finally, it was interesting that one of the Student Pastors listed as his most favorite people, Rob Bell, along with Bill Hybels and others.  One of his favorite people, in other words, is an outright heretic, false teacher, and apostate.  Way to go, Mr. Student Pastor.  (Might we wonder what those students are learning?)  [ed. note: 3 months later, Rob Bell has been removed, but other troubling characters are still listed as his favorite people]

To be clear, I'm not standing in judgment over anyone that has seen unholy things.  But when someone ADVERTISES the fact, openly, on a church web site, there is a problem, a huge problem.  Those of us that have seen similar things should be broken, ashamed, and repentant.

And if you don't believe me that all these folks in this one "church" advertised all this openly, you can see for yourself, here.

It is worth showing Vance Havner's quote again:
"Worldliness is rampant in the church. The devil is not fighting churches, he is joining them! He is not persecuting Christianity, he is professing it. When many think the world is becoming more Christian, Christians are becoming worldlier. The friend of the world is the enemy of God and if we love the world the love of the Father is not in us."
If Pastor Havner said that in his day, think what he would say about ours!

May God grant repentance and saving faith.
"I believe that one reason why the church of God at this present moment has so little influence over the world is because the world has so much influence over the church." - C. H. Spurgeon
See Kevin DeYoung's article ("Not Even a Hint") about this subject here.

Friday, August 23, 2013

evangelism at West End train station, Dallas, 8/22/2013

Here's a short video of our outreach on 8/22/2013 -- the video includes some pictures, and 3 short preaching video clips.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGk4rxDLF6c

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Is it right to charge for biblical counseling?

With the tremendous proliferation of biblical counseling (both real and nominal), the issue of charging counselees is becoming a bigger issue.  While I rejoice in true biblical (nouthetic) counseling, I am disheartened that some of them are imposing (or suggesting) a fee for such counsel.  I would like to address that issue.

In case it isn’t obvious already, I am firmly against charging money for biblical counseling.  That does not mean I’m against the people who do so, nor am I questioning their motives.  I love them with the love of Christ, and am happy that the Word of God is being effectively ministered in many areas.  I would, however, urge those who take money for such counseling to cease doing so.  Here is why.

First, the burden of proof should be on those that do charge money.  I don’t think that there is any legitimate biblical example of someone charging an individual money for godly counsel.  If that is correct, then charging is, by definition, either unbiblical at worst or extra-biblical at best – at least we certainly couldn’t call it ‘biblical’.  In fact, that is one of the strongest arguments for not charging.  Where in Scripture does that (charging) happen, at least in any way that truly justifies charging an individual a fee for biblical counsel?

Most of the Apostles were supported by the churches.  This is well and good.  Paul was supported some of the time (Phil. 4), but at other times he labored in a ‘secular’ job (Acts 18:3, 1 Cor. 9:6,18, 2 Cor. 11:7, 1 Th. 2:9).  As the transition to elders/overseers/pastors was made, some of them, too, would be supported by the church.  But receiving one’s support from one or more churches is far different than sitting down with a person or a couple and insisting on (or “suggesting”) payment before ministering to them.

Every Christian should be competent to counsel (at least to some degree).  We need to be in one another’s lives.  The one-anothers of Scripture are an important part of body life.  But would we dare to think that before exhorting brother so-and-so, we’ll ask him for money first?  Would an older woman, who is supposed to teach the younger women, ask for money for doing so?  Will we weep with those who weep, but only if they’ll pass some cash?  Will we bear one another’s burdens – for a price?

Or will we charge only in the case of formal counseling, which can take 8 to 15 weeks?  Or to put it another way, will we charge only the folks that are the worst off and have the most need?  The most needy, the down-and-out, the weakest sheep are the folks to whom we should give the most, not take the most.

Would Paul, while ministering from house to house, ask for money at each house?  Would he ask for money if he had to go back to a certain house over and over because they had significant issues in life?  Of course not!  I’m convinced the thought of doing so would be utterly repulsive to him.
Did Jesus, when someone approached Him with a problem, ever request funds?  The thought is so preposterous as to border on blasphemy. 

Perhaps a sample situation would be helpful.  In a church-based counseling center, a couple from outside the church comes in for marriage counseling.  We don’t know them, other than what they put on their PDI.  After a session or two, it becomes apparent to the counselor that one or both of them is not a Christian.  The duty of the counselor will be to continue to help with the marriage, as much as is possible, but even more importantly to communicate to them  the message of salvation from sin by faith alone in Christ alone.  In other words, they need to hear the gospel message.  Are we then in the business of selling the gospel message?  Are we charging money for giving the message of free forgiveness of sins?  This ought to be unthinkable!  It ought to shock us back to reality!  Since when does the church charge an unbeliever for telling him about Christ and explaining to him the message of free salvation?  Luther would roll over in his grave!

Or what if the counselee is a Christian, but some of his primary problems are financial?  Surely financial difficulties are very common.  Are those who charge for counsel then guilty of adding to his financial burden, even though the counsel itself may be wise and biblical?  Would it not be better to freely share with him God’s wisdom for handling money? 

Christian ministry is funded by voluntary donations (biblical giving), not by demanding payment for services rendered.  This is how God ordained it to be.  Voluntary (sacrificial, joyous) giving to the local church, not mandatory fees or Christian taxation, should fund the work of the church (and provide for some of the elders/pastors who serve in the church).  A minister of the gospel may be supported by the church (as determined by the elders/deacons of the church), but he may not charge individual people for his labor.  We should never peddle for profit the inerrant and sufficient Word of God (2 Cor. 2:17).

To charge for counseling (or to state “suggested” donations) makes the whole situation look worldly.  The pagans/secularists charge (a lot), and they have built an industry that makes a lot of money.  They get away with it, so some Christians see it as an income source.  We are different than they are – our counsel is (radically) different, our goals are different, and the means must be different as well.

A man may rightly pay good money for business advice, financial advice, medical advice, etc, but he should never have to pay a fee for that which God gives freely – spiritual advice, godly wisdom, from a brother in Christ ministering the Word of Christ.

The gospel message, the counsel of God, the Word of the Most High, the precepts of the Lord, the oracles of the Creator, the instruction of Holy Writ, must be freely given to all who will hear, whether for salvation or sanctification.  To do otherwise is, in my opinion, blatantly unbiblical, even if the counsel itself is excellent.

Questions we may ask ourselves:

  • Is this a ministry, or a business?  Ministries serve;  businesses charge.
  • Is the counselor/counselee relationship a brother/brother (or sister/sister) in Christ relationship, or a professional/consumer one?
  • Could your counselee doubt your motives if you are charging him?  Could he if the counsel is free?
  • How does “above reproach” and “fond of sordid gain” (Titus 1:7) apply to this issue?
  • How would it look if the counselee paid cash to the counselor right at the beginning of the session?  Is paying by check to a “ministry” afterward really any different?
  • Would Jesus ask for money before (or after) ministering to someone?  Would Paul or Peter?
  • Would we freely minister to a poor brother who cannot pay anything?  If not, then we stand condemned already.  If we would, then why not freely minister to someone else who happens to have more money?  Can the brother with more funds not have the option to give freely according to what he has purposed in his heart, instead of pay a required fee?
  • Could there be a temptation to try to keep a counselee around longer than truly needed because he is an income source?
  • Does Revelation 22:17 apply to this issue?  It says:  The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.
  • What about Isaiah 55:1? “Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost.
  • Do the actions and judgment of Micah 3:11 apply to this issue:  Her priests instruct for a price…”?
Let us not be like the Old Testament prophets who were greedy for gain.
Let us not be like the secularists who counsel for a fee.
Let us not be like the shepherds of Ezekiel 34 who fed themselves.

Instead, let us freely give the message that was freely given to us.  Let us proclaim salvation and sanctification, Christian discipleship, without placing a financial burden on the disciple.  Let us minister the Word of God without requiring or even asking for money in return.


Sid Galloway wrote: "Should Biblical Counselors Charge Fees?" Galloway has addressed this issue in his article posted here.  The title of his web site article is the same as his NANC talk.  Galloway asks, "Is charging fees for counseling a reflection of Christ’s ministry, or could it be a cultural convention absorbed from the world’s business system?"  Galloway has italicized three words to emphasize what he addresses in the remainder of his article.  It is clear from his article that Galloway believes that it is unbiblical to charge for biblical counseling and that it smacks of the world’s business system.  (1999 NANC national conference)

To study: (OT) prophets who were greedy for gain
To study: shepherds who fed themselves instead of the sheep (Ez. 34)
To consider: increased legal liability because of charging