Ships Ahoy for Jesus

Does every leading conservative pastor in America have their own cruise? I posted several days about Steve Camp’s Cruise, but now several have drawn my attention to the fact that the Pastors at Edgewood may have missed the boat! I ran across this recent option with R.C. Sproul. The wealth of Western Evangelicalism never ceases to amaze me. Sure we need to have times of rest and refreshment, but Cruises for Jesus? Google for a little while and I bet you can find a majority of the prominent Christian leader on a cruise sometime in the next two years. I have to admit that I would love to go on one of these for the enjoyment of it (You may have to forgive my pure selfishness, but if I do go on a cruise I will probably forgo any religious ones and just take it all in). I just see a real tension here though. Who can go on these trips to hear the gospel? The wealthy. Who are the pastors trying to attract as people they want to spend intimate time with on a boat? The wealthy. Who did Christ come to spend time with? The poor, and lowly. Are they all wrong? We can debate that until we are blue in the face, but doesn’t anyone else see the great difficulty with the wealth of western religion? Are our priorities where they ought to be?

A New Day in Indiana

From the Indy Star

The Indiana Senate opened its 2006 legislative session Monday with 20 seconds of silent prayer, voluntarily following a federal court order against sectarian prayer in the House. The Senate is not a defendant in the lawsuit that has forced the Indiana House to stop using prayers that single out Jesus.

In many ways it seems odd that it has taken this long for prayer in Jesus name to end in government. However, it is still a sad day for those who are Christians, and even for those who follow closely the intent of our founding fathers. Responses seem to vary among conservative Christians. Some may want to form some kind of boycott of the government or to form a group to defend our rights. I see some logic and truth in this, but seem to conclude that it goes more against the grain of scripture than with it. Rights in government appear to be more of an American idea than a scriptural idea. I fear many times in defending truth we violate other truths of Christianity. Others would suggest that this is only right for we would not want to be forced to sit under a Muslim prayer or a prayer to any other god. I have to admit that I see the logic in this argument and agree with much of it. I cannot conclude to accept this change though. As Christians we do not hold to another religion, but the one true religion. We do not worship one god while others may choose to worship another, but we worship the one true living God. We should not be content with saying we do not want to force others to have to sit under a prayer to God. So what is the answer? Pray! We cannot force others to worship God, it is an act of the Holy Spirit. We cannot trust in political groups to turn the hearts of men, we must trust in the Lord our God. I believe this new day, is a reminder to all believers that we need to pray for revival.

Floating Pulpits

As much as I enjoy Steve Camp and agree with his stand against CCM, this ad on his blog really seems ironic to me. A Cruise to discuss pulpit crimes? Pulpit crimes like using the ministry for personal gain and a life of ease? Making the truth more palatable? Using entertainment to spread the gospel?

I hope the Cruise goes well, and I know many popular and good speakers offer their own, but the combination of the topic and location seemed to ironic to pass up.

Application:

  1. All of us are tempted to compromise is some area. Satan is always at work and loves for us to compromise the truth in any way.
  2. We all have blind spots. As right as many of us think our theology and worldviews are, we all have chinkes in our armor. It is another reminder to be dependant upon the Holy Spirit and not our own understanding.
  3. Reformed Theology needs to go further than knowledge. If you truly believe in the sovereignty of God and salvation by grace alone it needs to impact all of your Christian walk. It must impact your Justification, Sanctification, Worship, etc. Having the right theolgy is not enough, it has to be applied correctly in all areas.

I have thought of a few other possible cruises and topics, none of these actually exist.

* “Get Out of Debt” featuring Dave Ramsey. Rates begining at $499 per person. Plus you must pay the $185 seminar fee for copyright purposes. If you would like to keep up on your personal money make over, wireless internet is available at $4.95 a day (You must first have a monthly membership to his website at $8.95 a month). T-Shirts and hats will be available at the duty free gift shop. Port fees not included.
* “The Discipline of Fasting” featuring John Piper and Donald Whitney. A seven day cruise all drinks and meals are included.

Psalm 4:7

You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.

This is to be true of all believers. The joy that Christ has brought into our lives is everlasting and full. It surpasses any other joy known to mankind. The joy that Christ brings surpasses any pleasure of sin. The joy that Christ brings exceeds any joy that can be shared by the unbelieving and believer alike.
This is also a reminder to us of how satisfying heaven will be. No one will get to heaven and say, “this is it?” No one will think, “I was expecting something different but this will do.” Right now in our family, we are anticipating a trip to Disney World. We have read many reviews of what to do with pre-schoolers. It is interesting to see how many people’s anticipations were disappointed at the character meals, and various attractions. There is no chance of this being true with heaven.
In all of this we must be reminded that we should not be disappointed with our relationship with Christ here on earth either. The psalmist was not in heaven when he made this claim, but here on earth. What Christ brings into our lives in the here and now also exceeds the abundant pleasures of this earth. This phrase ought to bring conviction to many, if Christ is so satisfying, why am I craving other things? Why do I want Christ, plus what the world has to offer?

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Here in America most wishful letters this time of year are addressed to Santa Claus or the North Pole. Fox Morning News did a story today about a Jewish custom where they send letters to God this time of year. They reported that they receive thousands each year, each used to be read but now with the volume they are simply stuffed into the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. Those that receive the letters at the Post Office told the reporter about their favorite letter. It was from a man in poverty that asked for 5,000 Sheqels or what equated to $1,000. The postal workers were so moved by the simple request that they all pitched in to give what they could and were able to deliver 4,300 Sheqels to the man. He then sent a thank you note to God that said, “Thank you God for answering my request, but next time don’t use those thieves at the Post Office. They only delivered 4,300 Sheqels.”

Christmas

I am preaching on the glorious transition from the OT to the NT on Sunday Nights right now. It is timely because the birth of Christ is the climax of this transition. I have been doing some study on Christmas and came across some great quotes from C.H. Spurgeon and John Piper. Spurgeon tackles why it is right for Christians to enjoy the Holiday Season, and Piper addresses the necessity of true belief in Christ’s Birth.

This is the season of the year when, whether we wish it or not, we are compelled to think of the birth of Christ. I hold it to be one of the greatest absurdities under heaven to think that there is any religion in keeping Christmas-day. There are no probabilities whatever that our Saviour Jesus Christ was born on that day, and the observance of it is purely of Popish origin; doubtless those who are Catholics have a right to hallow it, but I do not see how consistent Protestants can account it in the least sacred. However, I wish there were ten or a dozen Christmas-days in the year; for there is work enough in the world, and a little more rest would not hurt labouring people. Christmas-day is really a boon to us; particularly as it enables us to assemble round the family hearth and meet our friends once more. Still, although we do not fall exactly in the track of other people, I see no harm in thinking of the incarnation and birth of the Lord Jesus. We do not wish to be classed with those

“Who with more care keep holiday
The wrong, than others the right way.”

The old Puritans made a parade of work on Christmas-day, just to show that they protested against the observance of it. But we believe they entered that protest so completely, that we are willing, as their descendants, to take the good accidentally conferred by the day, and leave its superstitions to the superstitious.

Spurgeon again:
Now, I will just tell you the reason why I selected my text. I thought within myself, there are a large number of young men who always come to hear me preach; they always crowd the aisles of my chapel, and many of them have been converted to God. Now, here is Christmas-day come round again, and they are going home to see their friends. When they get home they will want a Christmas Carol in the evening; I think I will suggest one to them—more especially to such of them as have been lately converted. I will give them a theme for their discourse on Christmas evening; it may not be quite so amusing as “The Wreck of the Golden Mary,” but it will be quite as interesting to Christian people. It shall be this: “Go home and tell your friends what the Lord hath done for your souls, and how he hath had compassion on you.” For my part, I wish there were twenty Christmas days in the year. It is seldom that young men can meet with their friends; it is rarely they can all be united as happy families; and though I have no respect to the religious observance of the day, yet I love it as a family institution, as one of England’s brightest days, the great Sabbath of the year, when the plough rests in its furrow, when the din of business is hushed, when the mechanic and the working man go out to refresh themselves upon the green award of the glad earth. If any of you are masters you will pardon me for the digression, when I most respectfully beg you to pay your servants the same wages on Christmas-day as if they were at work. I am sure it will make their houses glad if you will do so. It is unfair for you to make them feast or fast, unless you give them wherewithal to feast and make themselves glad on that day of joy

Piper:

That is the question every one of us faces every Christmas. Is this story of the Son of God coming as a human, born of a virgin, living a life of sinless love, and dying for sinners that all who believe might have eternal life–is this story a creation of human imagination because we need it to be true? Or is it true, and therefore we need to believe it?

Things I am learning

  • I really don’t like Wal-Mart but I cannot stop shopping there. I have really come to enjoy Meijers far more, but the bottom line keeps coming down to price. I guess I am to blame in part for the fall of Marsh.
  • Home Depot is my favorite big hardware store. I did ejoy St. Matthews Hardware store in Louisville, but all the small ones are gone here Indiana now. We got our Christmas Tree and a Never Fail Tree Stand (bought at 9:30 last night after our tree decided to rest against the wall, while being poorly supported by our old stant) for only $21 total. I find that the people at Home Depot are easier to find than in Lowes and generally know what they are talking about.
  • I must be getting older because Wendy’s now tastes much better than McDonald’s.
  • Behr Pain is the best, buy it at Home Depot.
  • The Christian in Complete Armour is my favorite devotional.
  • Memories don’t last forever, I am already forgetting things I don’t want to forget.
  • IU Basketball may be back. We will find out tonight.

Gambling A Sin?

Through a recent post by Steve McCoy, a Southern Seminary friend, I recently found the blog of one of my SBTS Professors, Hershael York. He has linked a good article for thought on the issue of gambling. I can remember great debates in my business ethics classes at Cedarville on this issue. Many argued that it was no different than any other form of entertainment and that since it was never specifically forbidden in scripture, no one could call it wrong. I never bought that argument, and I think it takes several illogical skips in its logic. Here is the conclusion of the article found on Dr. York’s Blog.

Gambling shows no concern for God’s glory. A Jesus-follower should try to glorify God in everything (1 Cor. 10:31), and use his or her money to accomplish good for the kingdom (Matt. 6:19-21, 24). Gambling is not an act of faith but a game of chance. Paul wrote that “Everything that is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). The Christian life is to be lived in dependence on God to meet all needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19). Jesus wouldn’t do it. Can you picture Jesus sitting at a slot machine with a cup full of quarters? He was interested in doing His Father’s business, alleviating suffering and grief, not contributing to it.

We must be careful as Christians under grace and living in liberty, that we use this grace and liberty for the glory of God and the service of others.

Christian Outlet

Yesterday, we had a long drive back from my Papa’s funeral in Georgia. On the way back, Heather spotted a sign that struck us both as funny. It simply said Christian Outlet exit 50. “Christian” Outlet? What would one buy there? Are the Gladiator days coming back? Instead of paying full price you can get your own gladiator for 50-70% off retail! Or maybe for those single Christian Girls out there you could pick up a “Christian” husband for 50% off. Be careful though, all of the Christians at the outlet are refurbished. However they come with a guarantee, “Once saved, always saved, guaranteed for as long as you both shall live or eternity, whichever is longer.”