Saturday, November 29, 2008

Chris’s Recommendations for Study Bibles

The Bible is an awe-inspiring book. However, we don't want merely to admire it; we need to understand it. -- John MacArthur

Below is a list of Study Bibles that I would recommend to anyone who wishes to mine the truths of the Word of God.

NOTE: I am only recommending versions and Study Bibles that I am familiar with and my recognizing them as worthy of consideration is not a blanket affirmation of what they teach. With all things man writes, the doctrine and conclusions contained in the notes of these study aids should be weighed in the light of Scripture.

  • KJV - Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible (AMG)
  • ESV - The ESV Study Bible (Crossway)
  • NASB - The Macarthur Study Bible (Nelson)
  • NIV - Ryrie Study Bible (Moody)
  • NKJV - The Nelson Study Bible (Nelson)
  • Reina-Valera - The Scofield Study Bible (B & H) SPANISH

Additional note: Some of these study Bibles are also published for different versions. For instance, the Ryrie Study Bible is available for the King James Version, New American Standard, New International Version, and the Reina-Valera. I have simply matched the version with the study Bible I feel suits it best.

There are also a slew of “specialty Bibles” such as:
The Evidence Bible: Irrefutable Evidence for the Thinking Mind
Holman Christian Standard Bible Apologetics Study Bible
NIV Quest Study Bible
NIV Archaeological Study Bible

These study Bibles are designed to aid the student in the area of Apologetics. As far as my personal favorite for study and depth, I have no choice but to recommend the less than popular:

NET Bible

Last, but not least, the internet has proved to be a great place to learn. Here is by far the most helpful site I know: http://www.bible.org/

Here is the bottom line:

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15, NKJV)

In the end, you don't need a study Bible as much as you need to study the Bible.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving and what to do for 364 days?

Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever (Psalm 136:26)

It is my prayer that our churches, and the good folks back East who take the time to read these posts, are people who give thanks to the Lord for all that he gives us!

  • In Matthew 15:36 we see the Lord Jesus giving thanks for the food and the miracle that is about to feed thousands.

  • In Mark 14:23, right before He tells His disciples that the wine in the cup is a symbol of the New Covenant in His blood, Jesus gives thanks.

Jesus Christ was one who offered thanks to God for His provision and mercy.

Paul writes to the Thessalonians church:

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16 - 18)

May God be praised.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

THE FACE OF RECONCILIATION

All Scripture taken from the NIV

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 - 21)

Paul says much about reconciliation in the passage above, but notice what it is in reference to: A NEW CREATION. He goes on to say that God “reconciled” (from the Greek word katallass┼Ź, which means “to change as reflex” or “exchange”) the world to Himself. Why would God need to do that?

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:6 - 11)

Why? Because we are enemies of God before trusting Christ! Read verse ten (10) again.

For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

How was man reconciled, or “changed or exchanged”, to God? The answer to this is JESUS! It was on the cross that the Lord Jesus Christ took the full wrath of God for sin. It was here that the former state of hostility toward God was transformed, or probably better defined, exchanged, into one of harmony. But this is not a practical reality for the non-believer. Read the following quote from Jesus Himself:

“As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:40-43).

But how can that be? The other texts we read say that man’s status is changed before God… doesn’t it?

NO.
Here is what it says: GOD CHANGED HIS VIEW OF US. We are no longer enemies of His with not opportunity to fellowship; He does not view man as un-savable. It was through the cross that that man is rendered SAVABLE. But this rendering does not save anybody. Personal faith in Christ is what saves.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8 -10)

To be reconciled to God is not enough. There must be a recognition that you are in need of a Savior. In essence, God must be reconciled to you!

Sin is not forgiven until personal faith in the propitiation offered at the cross is made. Just because God views you as savable, doesn’t mean you are saved. I will write more on this later. There are two things that must be said about reconciliation in closing:

1. As long as both parties are alive reconciliation is possible.

2. Jesus is alive, and there is still time to be reconciled.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sermon Run Through Video

I record myself running through my sermons on Saturday nights. I do this so I can work-out all the "kinks". Here it is.

(... and before I get any commnts about the hat... it was cold in the building and I was alone.)

video

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday Evening Commentary (Monday Edition)

What can I say? TODAY WAS GREAT (and so is everyday I might add.)

- We had a great time practicing the music before Sunday School
- We had a great time in Sunday School
- We had a great time during the worship service
- We had a great quartet sing a great song during the offering
- We had a great passage of Scripture taught
- We had the great privilege of having a husband and wife be baptized
- I had a great nap
- We had a great time at the 5:30 prayer and fellowship time
- WE HAVE A GREAT SAVIOR!

As you can see… today was great.

Tomorrow will be too!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

On Wings of an Eagle

I had the privilege to both open and close an Eagle Scout ceremony today. It was really, really nifty. I was also asked to say a few words about following God’s leading in your life. I was given 3 minutes to do it too!!!

By the grace of God we got through with six seconds to spare. This is what I spoke on:

Eagle Scout is the highest honor a young man can attain in scouting. Well similarly, the honor of forever being referred to as “a man after God’s own heart” is probably one of the highest honor anyone can attain . . . period. King David has the privilege of holding that title and one of the things he wrote was this:

Psalm 1
1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.


O that we would seek to honor the Lord in everything we do. That we would seek godly counsel and be like a tree planted by streams of water. I am afraid that so many of us are not like the tree David write of, but are actually far, far from the stream.

May the Lord bless you as you seek Him and His will.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Last Week's Sermon Run Through

Below is a video recording of my sermon run through from last week.

I record myself so I can see where I need to inprove.

(Hey! Professional Baseball and Football players do the same thing.)

video

Here is the actual sermon (audio)

http://www.bethanybaptist.ws/counselor/assets/11-16-08%20-%20CJ.mp3

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fiduciary Psycho-Critical Crunch

I looked at the corporate giving for last week (it will be in the bulletin Sunday as usual) and I must say… I was a little taken aback. It seems that the fall out from the market hiccup that Wall Street is currently experiencing is causing problems right I our own back-yard. What are we to do? Here are three options:

  1. Run through the streets in a fit of rage shouting, “Someone do something and HELP THIS COUNTRY!”
  2. Call upon the only One who can actually do anything about our problems. (That would be Jesus)
  3. Nothing.

Now, you may think I am trying to be funny here, but I’m not. Option one seems to be the least appealing to me. Option two is the only option that has any weight to it at all. We are told to:

  • Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:7-8, NIV)

and…

  • Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21, NIV)

and let us not forget…

  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
    in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV)

The third option is, I’m afraid, the option most Christians choose to utilize. Nothing is what many do when faced with the situations they encounter. Nothing is what they get.

If you always do what you’ve always done, you can always expect what you always got!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sunday Morning Commentary (THE TUESDAY MORNING EDITION)

Well… there you have it. I have shown my hand, so to speak. Here’s the deal:

My wife and did not realize just how much help her grandmother was to us. I had not taken a "day off" in just over a month and my wife said "take a day off"... So I am now taking a day off. I thought Fridays would be the best, but it turns out that Mondays are actually best. I guess that is why so many pastors take Monday off.

So, that should explain why I haven’t posted in a while. Ok… and now for the commentary:

  • The Sunday School program at Bethany Baptist Church is not only something I think is great, but I have heard that many, many others think the same thing!
  • I was very encouraged to see so many people enjoying conversation before the service.
  • The musical portion of the service truly blessed my heart.
  • What can I say about the preaching? I know that I thoroughly enjoyed teaching it!
  • The Church Council met with potential new members after the service, to hear testimonies. WOW! I sure love hearing the testimonies of transformed lives!

All in all, I have to say that I was blessed this Sunday. Truly we serve a gracious and loving God.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Quiet Rebuke…

I don’t know about you, but I am having an amazing day! Finished my sermon earlier than expected, spent some time with my two eldest daughters, had a great time recording a member’s testimony on video, and had a very informational and edifying meeting this morning with the Youth and Adults Ministry Team. I was walking home earlier today and was just singing God’s praises. I then broke out in audible thanks to God for being so good to me. And then I stopped… motionless… as the Spirit of God touched me in a very, very humbling way. HE IS ALWAYS GOOD AND HE IS ALWAYS GOOD TO ME.

I remember what a professor of mine told me, “Matthew chapter 5 records the beatitudes… not the do-atitudes.” His point really made sense to me today!

Happiness is a state of being, and we are complete in Christ!

and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.
(Col 2:10, ESV)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Practicing what I preach!

Wow! Randy and I went fishing today at PCC. We have it on video and I must say that I was both enthusiastic about engaging total strangers on a college campus and dreading it at the same time. I am a big wimp when it comes to confrontation and this ranks very, very high on my “THIS IS CONFRONTATIONAL” list. The thought of those people going to hell having never heard a clear presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ made me swallow my pride and eclipsed the fear I had of men.

I was on http://www.wayofthemaster.com/botchaltarcall.shtml and I would like to share a few things with you all here:


(A few keys for those who don't want people saved in their altar calls)

  • Present an unbalanced message. Only let them see the heart-warming part of God’s character. Preach God’s love but leave out His holiness and justice. That way they’ll think He’ll let them into heaven no matter what.
  • Don’t mention repentance until they’re repeating a “sinner’s prayer.” Just get them to say, “I repent of all my sins” while they’re echoing you. They won’t know what they’re saying and they won’t count the cost.
  • Above all else, be dignified. Don’t get heart to heart with the people. They would get something out of what you said.
  • Skim over the gospel and push the prayer. Pretend the lost naturally understand what Christ has done for them.
  • Preach Jesus as a life enhancer not a life rescuer. Tell them how Jesus can improve their life but don’t show them Jesus as the only One who can save them from Hell. People will think if they reject Him they’re only losing out on a spiritual high.
  • Try to please the people instead of convert them. Tell them what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear.
  • Speak to sinners as though they were saints. They’ll think they’re God’s children instead of the enemies of God they’ve made themselves into because of their sin. You’ll give them false assurance and mislead them.
  • Don’t mention sin or man’s guilt. Resist the urge to explain what Christ came to deliver us from. Don’t show them their need for the Savior. Otherwise it may all make sense.
  • Tell the lost not to feel bad about their sins. That way you will work against the Holy Spirit who’s convicting them
  • Whatever you do, never mention Judgment Day. Your audience might take spiritual matters seriously.

There are more, but these make the point clear. We need to:

  1. Be saved ourselves.
  2. Have a love for people that eclipses our fear.
  3. Proclaim the coming judgment.
  4. Proclaim that Jesus is our substitute.
  5. AND PREACH REPENTANCE TOWARD GOD AND FAITH IN CHRIST!

Remember, when people reject Jesus, they are not rejecting you.

Excuses, Excuses

I have not been able to post here for a while. My dog ate my homework… and then he died.

Now… someone will read this and immediately say, “He doesn’t have a dog! What on earth is he talking about?” Ah! And there we have it. One excuse is as good as another. So what does this have to do with our connection to God?

In The Parable of the Talents Jesus says:

“Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
“ ‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
(Mt 25:24-30, NIV).

He could just have very well said, “My dog ate my homework… and then he died.” The result would have been the same.

We are entrusted with a very, very precious gift: THE GOSPEL. We all need to be good stewards and not offer excuses.

He who excuses himself accuses himself.
~Gabriel Meurier, Tr├ęsor des sentences

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran’s Day

Douglas MacArthur was an American General who commanded the Southwest Pacific Theatre in World War II. This is one quote that captures his view of the character of a soldier:

The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.

As I read that I can’t but help burst with gratitude and appreciation for the men and women who have put their lives in harm’s way for our freedom. Truly, freedom is neither free nor cheap. As the Gospel: The Lord Jesus Christ took our place, bearing our sin and taking upon Himself the just penalty of our wickedness. He died so that we can live.

Freedom is neither free nor cheap.

A special thank you to all the men and women who have fought for us.

Another special thank you to all the men and women who are currently fighting for us.

And yet another special thank you for all the men and women who will be fighting for us.

And to the those of us who are believers in Christ Jesus, Paul has a word for all of us: Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1 – 2, NIV)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday Morning Commentary (Evening Edition)

What a fantastic time we shared this morning! I heard some great reports about the Sunday School classes. This morning in Adult Sunday School II (the one I am currently leading) we looked at some of God’s attributes. Wow! There are some real challenges for every one of us as we contemplate who God is and who we are in light of who He is.

I just reviewed the whole service on DVD and I was so blessed by the ministry of music, the testimonies of the saints, the exposition of the Word of God and the baptism. Truly, God’s grace is greater than ALL our sin!

As for my bass playing… I need a lot more practice.

The Art of Bass

I was asked about a month ago to contribute to the worship team. It will come as a great relief to all that I was not recruited as a singer! Let me say this:

I am thrilled at the level of musicianship the youth praise team has.

Three guitarists, several singers, a piano/synth player… all top notch. That only left me with two options: Bass or Drums. As many of you know, I LOVE THE DRUMS! But as it turns out, I am not the only one. Come to find out, there are several folks here that play the drums, and play them very well!

So, long story short, I am playing the bass for the first time in about 4 and 1/2 years.

Cheers!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

More than an obsession

I have been reading a lot of Paul’s writing. One of the things that is obvious is this:

Paul was totally consumed with the person and work of Jesus Christ.

O, that we would have that passion.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Change is in the air


By now, I assume, everyone has heard the news that America is has elected a new president. There are many that are undoubtedly upset and others that are absolutely elated. My personal convitions and biases aside, let me stress the following:

The Lord is in control, not the president.
The Lord is in control, not the voters.
The Lord is in control, not circumstance.
The Lord is in control, not the media.
The Lord is in control, not fate.
The Lord is in control, not the economy.

When we view the world through the lens of the Scriptures, history has a different flavor and is far more digestible.

Psalm 93:1 (NIV)
The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty;

the LORD is robed in majesty

and is armed with strength.

The world is firmly established;

it cannot be moved.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Don't have a cow!

After communion yersterday I was asked the following question:

"Where did the cattle come from in Exodus 11:5 if they all died in Exodus 9?"

What a fantastic question! I racked my brain over this one and then, when I could rack no longer, I consulted some of my commentaries. This is what I found:

  • All the livestock must mean “most” because livestock appear yet in the next two plagues (vv. 9, 10, 19, 22, 25). The Open Bible : New King James Version, Includes Indexes., electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1998, c1997), Ex 9:6.

***We are going to have to disagree with the good folks at the Open Bible. It is easier to simply dismiss the clear claims of Scripture than to confront them.***

  • All the cattle of Egypt died refers to all the cattle left in the fields (vs. 3). This plague was a direct affront to the sacred bull, Apis, of the god Ptah and the cow goddess Hathor. KJV Bible Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1994), 134.

  • Since the next plague affects livestock also, this phrase must designate either “all kinds of livestock” or all the livestock in the field (v. 5 note; cf. vv. 18–19). Luder G. Whitlock, R. C. Sproul, Bruce K. Waltke and Moisš Silva, Reformation Study Bible, the : Bringing the Light of the Reformation to Scripture : New King James Version, Includes Index. (Nashville: T. Nelson, 1995), Ex 9:6.

***Here is where we must agree. Scripture is clear and this understanding honors both the Author of Scripture and the Author's intent.***

Sunday Morning Commentary - Monday Edition

Ok… here’s a recap as I see it:

  • Sunday School was great. I heard from many that Adult Sunday School 1 (Bill’s class) had a lot of fun looking… literally… at the Passover. The Sunday School teachers that work with the younger people also told me that the students truly enjoyed the lesson. More than that though, the Church was edified though studying the Passover.
  • The Music Ministry Team was phenomenal, as always
  • Personally, I was terrified Sunday morning as I looked out into the Sanctuary. (As I read more and more Scripture, I am finding myself to be less and less confident in my preaching…. That is a good thing.)
  • I don’t make it a habit of looking at the congregation as the elements for the Lord’s Table are being served, but I did this Sunday. I was moved as I say so many people examining themselves in light of the Light of God’s Word.
  • I am so exited as I think of all the things that God is doing around here.

    Blessings.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Saturday, October 32nd

I know, I know… there is no October 32nd… EVER. But I figured it would catch your attention.

Now, down to business.

I have done my best to keep myself from allowing this blog to be the arena in which Chris vents his frustration. Actually, I seek to let my frustrations and pains known to the Lord. But enough about me… let’s talk about someone else.

I distinctly remember a time in Miami when a dear, dear friend of mine and I got in a major argument. I was not a Christian at the time, so naturally I showed my fleshly nature and… well.. let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. When it was all said and done he and I parted ways for a while and you know what? We are very good friends to this day. You see, he and I would never have reconciled had we not taken the time to disengage from the situation for a time. If you and someone else, especially a brother or sister in Christ, are at odds, let me encourage you to do two things:

1. Reconcile as soon as possible, for everyone’s sake.

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (Ephesians 4:26-27, NIV)

2. Cast all your anxiety (worry, concern) upon the Lord for He loves you and He is the only One that can do anything about it.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:6-9, NIV)

It is when we are at our weakest that the enemy, the accuser of the brethren (Satan himself) makes his move. DON’T GIVE HIM ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY.

Finally, let me leave you with a final word of encouragement. The apostle Peter, in writing to the persecuted church in 2 Peter 3 ends his letter with these words:

. . . grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (2 Peter 3:18, NIV)

Shalom