Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

October 31st . . . for much of America this day means dressing up and eating candy until you literally get a cavity overnight.  This is true for both the churched and the un-churched in many places.  However, this date means something different from some Christians (such as myself).  October 31st is Reformation Day; the day that Martin Luther took his stand against the Roman Catholic Church and nailed the 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church in 1517.  It was a day that marked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.  This 31st day means different things for different people.  I am not setting out to argue for or against the tradition of “trick or treating.”  My family has chosen to not participate most years; however, a recent conversation with my mother has caused me to consider an alternative approach to the day.  It was such a brilliant idea that I thought I would share it with those who may decide to join in the candy grabbing tradition.

Here is the idea:  When your children go trick-or-treating (assuming they want to treat instead of trick), use it as an opportunity to have a gospel conversation.  Take a Bible tract, church information card, or even a Bible to give to each person or home that you visit.  Instead of just getting something delicious that will only last a short while, present them with the bread of life that can sustain them for eternity.  There is no doubt that this kind of thing could (and should) be done every day of the year, but I believe that this day can be used and capitalized on.  Below are three reasons why.

This is the one time a year you have an open invitation to knock on someone’s door. 

            We live in a day and time where we are more and more inclusive than ever.  We are so busy in our lives that our homes have become a place of seclusion instead of a haven for friends and family.  Front porches are smaller, man caves are more popular, and many do not even know what a welcome mat is.  However, on this day, many openly welcome you to their home.  They welcome you to ring their door bell or knock on their door.  They do not run and hide as if you are a Jehovah’s Witness.  They eagerly wait for you with an open door and an open bowl of candy.  Can you think of a better time than this to bear witness to Christ by inviting them to your church, giving them a gospel tract, or giving them a Bible?  This is an open invitation.

This is the one time a year you can talk freely to a stranger.

It goes something like this; “Ding Dong . . . oh look at you.  Let’s see, we have a princess, a construction worker (who is actually Thor from the Avengers), and a little bearLet me give you some candy.  Now, just take one each . . .”  They have engaged your children in conversation.  A perfect stranger has given you the opportunity to speak to them, in their home.  How hard would it be for your older children to say, “Oh thank you so much and we would like to give you this card that has information about our church on it.  I don’t know if you know Jesus, or attend a church, but we would love to invite you to ours.  Thanks again, and God bless.”  Do you think that would leave an impression?  You don’t often want your children talking to strangers, but this is the one time of the year that they can benefit from the opportunity.

This is the one time of the year that you actually go out as a family to specifically meet so many different people.

Let’s face it, while many people may have the intention to go door-to-door in their neighborhood to talk to their neighbors about the Lord, most of the time they never get around to it.  Here is the perfect opportunity to kill those preverbal birds with one stone.  You are already going to be taking your children door to door, use it as an opportunity to witness to your neighbor.  Let you children see you do it, so that they can in turn learn how to do it themselves.  It does not have to be a formal thing, but by at least initiating a gospel conversation you may open an opportunity for later conversation with them.  If you are going out anyway, use it for the glory of God.

Will this be a new Halloween (Reformation day) tradition for my family?  I am not sure of that yet, but I love the idea of it. So, will you join in this year?  I am sure your church would love to supply you with the needed tools if you don’t already have them yourself.  Instead of just focusing on family fun this year, use it as an opportunity to not just make memories with your kids, but make an impact for the Kingdom.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

I believe that God is sovereign over all.  That means that He has infinite control over the smallest details of my life just as much as the big ones.  It is good to teach about this truth and it is good to believe this truth.  But when the truth of God’s sovereignty hurts us or takes us by surprise, it could cause us to bring into question the things that we once believed so strongly.

Consider these questions:

When a member of your family is tragically killed, is God still sovereign and good?

When your loved one is suffering to the point that you are praying for the Lord to just take them home, is the Lord still good?

When the sovereignty of God crashes into what would have been considered our happy Christian life, do we still see the Lord’s sovereignty as something to boast about?

Even in times of great trial, God’s control is something that we all should lean on and hold to. Below are three things to think about when dealing with God’s sovereignty and calamity:

The Lord Sympathizes With Our Pain

            We have a God that knows us perfectly, is always with us, and has created us uniquely (Psalm 139:1-18).  He is an intimate Father who cares for His children.  He sent His only begotten son, Jesus, to die in the place of murderers, God-haters, and adulterers.  His perfect Son was substituted for us, an unholy people.  Jesus not only died, He died the worst possible death, an innocent Man, crucified on the cross.  It is upon this same Jesus that we are to “cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (I Peter 5:7).  The Lord clearly cares for His people.  Some want to say that God’s sovereignty paints a picture of a malicious dictator.  On the contrary, when you understand how intimate God really is you will find Him to be less of a tyrant and more of a loving father.  When His plans run counter to yours, just remember that His love for you has not faltered.  Most of us never doubted our earthly father’s love for us even if we didn’t always understand his ways.  It should be the same with our heavenly Father.  We can rest in the fact that He sympathizes with our pain.  He gave up His own Son to be beaten and die because that was the only way to have His people redeemed.

A Christian Gives Up Right Of Ownership

In Romans chapter 6, Paul reminds us that we were once slaves to sin, having a skewed view of personal freedom. Through Christ we have now become slaves of righteousness, owing our life to the Lord.  If you, by faith, call upon the name of the Lord for salvation, you are giving yourself over to Him and His kingdom.  The Lord sometimes deems it necessary for His glory and His plan to shake up our life with what may seem like unbelievable tragedy.  We must remember that we signed up to have His will be done before our own.  Does this mean that we do not go before Him and petition for the life of our loved one?  In no way!  But in the end, we must remember that we have no right to say when a person lives or dies.  He is the architect of all of life.  He is the giver and taker of life.  When we give up our ownership for something better, namely a relationship with God, we must understand that God’s ways are so much higher and better than our own.  We are no longer the owner of our own life.  We have sold ourselves into the service of the One who is always good and faithful.  His ways are best and can be trusted.

The Lord Works All Things For Good

In times of tragedy some well meaning person may quote Romans 8:28 to you.  Paul said, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  While it may be a true verse, it may not bring much comfort to you at the time of a death or another heartbreaking situation.  The verse is, however, key for a broad, proper understanding of God’s sovereignty.  Sometimes in God’s goodness He allows us to see His master plan during seemingly terrible events.  Other times He does not.  The one thing we can trust in is that no matter if we understand all of life or not, He does.  By His very character He is always good.  He is long-suffering.  He is the embodiment of love itself.  Tragedy is a byproduct of sin most of the time.  It is hard to see the Lord working His sovereign will through a situation when clear sin is involved (murder, abortion, unjust firing from a job), but even then God in His wisdom truly is working all things for the good of His name and His people.

The complete sovereignty of God is a wonderful biblical truth.  It has brought my family through some tough times in recent months.  Holding to it does not promise you a life of complete happiness.  What it does promise is to bring a certain amount of peace within life’s storms.  We must always remember that the Lord is in control of the hard times in life and all the good ones, as well.  If you are ever tempted to be angry with God over a terrible situation, just remember all of the wonderful times that He has blessed you with, for those times were His sovereign hands at work too.  When the sovereignty of God collides with your happy little life remember that we can go to Him . . . that we can trust Him . . . and that we can fall at His feet and know that He is with us.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

As most of you know, The Supreme Court recently made a ruling allowing gay couples to “marry” all across America.  To many of us, we believe that this was unwise and more importantly, an unbiblical stance.  Marriage has already been defined by the One who created it in the first place.  He is the supreme Judge who is over the Supreme Court.  However, we as Christians need to realize that the country that we live in is much more akin to Babylon than that of ancient Israel.  Our neighbors are no longer the Brady Bunch, and we no longer live in Mayberry.  So, we need to know how to live and what to say in the present day.  We need to act as Christ to a people who are by and large Christless.  If Jesus was here physically, I believe there are 5 things He would say to the LGBT community.

  1. You matter to Me, because I created you in My image.

According to John 3:16, Jesus came to die for a people from every tribe, tongue, and nation.  No doubt, there are gays who exist within this spectrum.  We know that God has extended some portion of grace to all (although not specifically saving grace) for scripture says that “he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust,”(Matthew 5:45).  Every person is created in God’s image.  He loves His creation. Those who are homosexuals matter to God in the sense that He extended love to His whole creation. It is not a complete effectual love, but it is love nonetheless.  You matter in His big picture.

  1. I can sympathize with your temptation, for I was also tempted.

Jesus was tempted. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need,” says the writer of Hebrews in chapter 4:15-16.  Jesus hungered, thirsted, slept, and wept.  Satan even tempted Jesus.  However, in this temptation, He was yet without sin.  Temptation is not sin, but acting upon it is. There are those who have homosexual temptations, but those temptations do not become sin until it is acted upon either through lust or a physical action.  They need to realize that Jesus understands temptation, and through Him, they can have the power to overcome that temptation.  While that thorn in their flesh may never be completely taken away, the Lord can give them the power that they need to overcome temptation (I Corinthians 10:13).

  1. I want you to have true joy, not just temporary satisfaction.

Sin can be enjoyable for a season (Hebrews 11:25).  Why else would people do it if it was not enjoyable? It is desirous for their flesh.  An adulterer must enjoy a one-night stand.  A glutton must enjoy the over eating, otherwise they would stop on their 2nd helping.  But Jesus desires your holiness more than your happiness.  To be holy, one must be redeemed by the Lord.  This happens through recognition of sin, a repentance of that sin, and regeneration for the sinner by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, for the glory of God alone.  Happiness is fleeting, but the state of joy is eternal.  The only way to have eternal joy and not just temporary satisfaction is through Jesus.

  1. I want you to know that you are destroying your body and damning your soul

It is just a simple fact that STDs are rampant among those in this lifestyle.  Statistically, 70-78% of the LGBT community has reported to have had an STD.  Roughly 50% for all people, both gay and straight, who engage in premarital sex are said to have an STD as well.  Homosexual males are 116 times more likely to be murdered and 24 times more likely to commit suicide than their straight male counter-parts.  The decision to be gay often has lasting physical consequences.  But, more importantly than the body’s destruction, is the damning of your soul. It is true that we are ALL born into sin and choose to sin. This sin separates us from God.  The Old Testament law condemned homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22).  Jesus condemned it by alluding to the Old Testament sexual laws as perverse in Matthew 19 and Mark 7.  Paul condemns it by saying “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals . . .” in I Corinthians 6:9-10.  This practice, if unrepented of, will lead you to hell – because it is sin.

  1. I love to save those who are lost.  

Jesus loves to save sinners.  He loves to draw to Himself, gossips, idol worshipers, womanizers, and yes even homosexuals.  In writing to the Roman church Paul said, Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance,” (Romans 2:4).  You cannot remain in your sin and be saved.  It would not be loving to allow a sinner to keep sinning.  It would not be loving to remain silent about the truth.  However, it is loving to warn of the coming destruction for those who refuse to acknowledge the Lord.  To do this there must be a willingness to acknowledge sin, to turn from that sin, and accept Jesus as the Lord, Savior, and Master of your life.  He loves to save those who are perishing, and is willing to save all who call upon His name.

I believe if Jesus was still physically present here on earth, this is what He might say.  However, we as His representatives need to be willing to pass this message on to our neighbor, family, and co-worker.  Yes, this lifestyle is a sin, and because of that, it is not one that is simply an “alternative.”  However, we must recognize our own lostness, sinfulness, and inability to save ourselves as well.  We need to remember that the homosexual community is not our enemy . . . Satan is.  They need Jesus just as much as us.  We must be willing to engage them in a respectful manner and lovingly have this dialog with them.  Jesus will sort out their sin in the end.  Do we let them become a member in the church while practicing this lifestyle?  No, God forbid!  But, the church is a good place for them to be to hear God’s truth and either deny Him or be convicted by His Word.  So, let’s be sure that when we are talking to our LGBT neighbor that we do it in a way that honors God.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

Last week I wrote about some of the foundational movements in American Christianity and how they still influence the church in the U.S. even today.  The landscape of American Christianity can look bleak at times if we get caught up in all of the changes that are going on according to certain media outlets.  Recent research has shown a near 10% drop in those who claim to be Christians here in America over the past 7 years.  Churches, schools, business, and entire Christian denominations that once believed in and taught orthodoxy are now not only accepting gay marriage, but pushing to have it completely normalized and legalized.  Because of this diversion from our Christian moorings, some are looking for the stars to starting falling from the sky as is described in Revelation because of the seeming turn of America toward humanism, or at least major liberalism.  While a quick glimpse at American Christianity might seem scary to some, I see reason for much hope.  Here are a few.

The Millennial Generation:

This is my generation (those born in the 1980’s – 1990’s).  My generation is generally considered lazy, self-absorbed, and whiney.  There is some truth to this I must admit, however, there is so much more to us than selfies on social media, job hopping, and being restless.  Many in the millennial generation long for authenticity.  We can see though all the smoke and lights to see the heart of the matter.  I have seen many people in this generation going back to a stripped down version, simple church model, of Christianity.  They want in-depth Bible study, biblical preaching, authentic Christ-centered worship, genuine fellowship, and missions within the community.  For the millennial generation this is often done by having a mix of both hymnody and modern songs in worship, doing small group studies, and living missionally while doing it all.  These ideas were part of the original Reformation.  The Reformers wanted to be guided only by what Scripture taught, and not all of this man made stuff.  I see the heart of reformation within many of the millennial generation.  I see them leading their families in worship and discipleship. I see them seeking churches that teach scripture instead of drama.  I see them have a love for theology.  For this reason, I have hope for the state of the church in America.

The Great Pruning of the Church:

With every day that passes it seems that there is some new objection to Christian thinking and Christian living in our country.  Many have predicted that within the next 10 years the American church will look vastly different that it did 10 years ago.  Within the next decade we will know where most every Christian in the U.S. stands on the issue of gay “marriage.”  This issue will most likely drive those of the normative variety away from the church.  The church attendance may get small.  Church buildings may have to be sold.  There may be less money to hire staff, but this is not necessarily a bad thing in the long run.  For the church of America to grow it must be pruned.  Jesus said in John 15, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.”  For the church to grow, the dead leaves of nominal Christianity must be cut off.  While it may not appear to be pretty to begin with, the lasting results will beautify the bride in a way that is unimaginable to us.

The Accessibility to Biblical Teaching:

With all that is being said (by the media) in favor of liberalizing Christianity, there are still MAJOR voices crying out from the wilderness preparing the way, teaching with a prophetic voice, and a shepherding heart.  At no other time in history has the world been able to hear such great men of God proclaim God’s word.  At your fingertips you can hear John Piper, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Voddie Baucham, Steve Lawson, Matt Chandler, Alistair Begg, Kevin Swanson and a million other preachers.  These, along with many other less well known men, are standing on the truths of God and proclaiming it to the world.  Thousands upon Thousands of people gather each year to hear men like this herald God’s Word.  While the media may want us to think that men like this are in the minority, it simply is not so.  Because of the Roman Road of our day (the internet), sound teaching can be heard in this nation and all around the world.  One thing I know from scripture, God’s Word never returns void, and these mean are proclaiming it to the thousands.

God’s Will Cannot be Thwarted: 

God has promised to build His church.  We see this in Matthew 16 when  Jesus says, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  No matter what our government may try to do, even it is under God’s authority.  Christianity is still spreading in places like China and North Korea.  While our culture and government may try to change the church, the true church will survive and thrive.  Denominations may die.  Church attendance may drop, but the true church will go on and grow.  It cannot be stopped.  Now that is hope.

The American Church situation is by no means all doom and gloom.  There is so much to love about Christ’s bride.  There are many things that are beautiful and right.  However, you would have to have your proverbial head in the sand to say that things have not changed over the past 50 or 75 years.  While the changes may seem scary when we think of the immediate future, it should motivate us to practice our faith all the more.  It should motivate us to share the gospel openly while we still have such tremendous freedoms to do so.  Yes, there are some things that desperately need to change in our church, but praise be to God, I can see Him doing it on the horizon.  I love the church, and I have great hope for its future here in America.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

Before you reach for a pen, or steady your fingers to type a response to the suggestive title, I need you to know that it is not what you think.  I am completely against the idea of murder.  I do not worship Molech, nor do I support any idea of sacrificing people and or animals to appease a god.  It is a horrible and sinful thing when people do this type of occultic worship. However, I am talking about a spiritual human sacrifice of sorts.  We find this concept in Matthew’s gospel.  He writes,

 “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?’” – Matthew 16:24-26  

To be a true follower of Christ, we must first die to ourselves.  This is why I not only support, but constantly try to live, this human sacrificing lifestyle.  How do we do this?  How do you live a life as a follower of Christ in light of these radical commands?  These verses describe three ways we must die to self; I would like to briefly unpack them in hopes that you too will choose to live a life of continual self-sacrifice.

Deny Yourself:

To deny yourself means to put your desires second to God’s.  We are all selfish by nature.  We want what we want.  However, what we want is not always what God wants.  Before Christ, we wanted to be our own god in a way.  We wanted complete control of our lives.  But, to follow Jesus, we must first deny our sinful desires through faith and repentance by relying on His grace for our salvation.  It is no different once we are saved.  We must still deny our fleshly desires if they do not line up with God’s.  This is a daily task.  We must die to ourselves.  We must deny our flesh, and submit to the Lordship of Jesus.  The glorious thing about this is, eventually it gets easier.  When we deny ourselves, we start to take delight in the Lord as the Psalmist writes, “Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).  To deny yourself is to commit human sacrifice (the sacrifice of your oneself),  which is a requirement of the Lord.

Take up Your Cross:

The cross was a gruesome instrument of death.  Jesus was telling His disciples that if they were to follow Him that meant they had to surrender their lives to live obediently to Him.  It would identify them with Jesus . . . even unto death, to which 10 of the 11 true disciples would eventually succumb, through martyrdom.  This is evidence that they fully surrendered to Jesus.  The same type of surrender is required of Christians today.  We should expect persecution.  We should be willing to bear it, knowing that He is with us though it all and that He can sympathize with us.  Taking up your cross says that you have a life-or-death devotion to Christ.  I will live for Him with eternity in view.  I will die for Him for the glory of the King.  To take up your cross is to sentence yourself to death, but in doing so it identifies you with the One who overcame death in our place.

Follow Him:

Following Jesus is not just saying a prayer, going to church, and giving financially to a church or other Christian organization.  This type of Christianity would have been a foreign concept to first century Christians.  Jesus said for a person to count the cost before following Him.  To follow Him means to follow His teachings, and His example.  It means swapping your sin for His perfect righteousness.  Once His deposit has been made into your account, you are no longer your own.  You have been bought with a price.  You were once a slave to sin, but now have been made a slave to righteousness.  To follow Jesus means that you have submitted to His Lordship and live as a citizen of the Kingdom, but also as an heir to the throne. He said that following Him would cost you something.  In essence, it cost you everything.  So, to follow Him is spiritual human sacrifice.  You must die so that you can be raised up to walk in the newness of life in Him.

“Deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” “Deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  “Deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  This is the cycle of the daily life of a Christian.  This is the sequence of a disciple of Jesus.  If we want to follow the Lord, we must first die to ourselves.  This is why I believe in human sacrifice, and as a Christian you should too.   If you have never experienced this type of life, then I hope you die today . . . so that you can truly live in the grace that abides only in Christ, who died in the place of all who would ever call upon His name.  Human sacrifice is not only desired by God, but is necessary to know Him.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

Of all the hot button topics today, it seems none is hotter than homosexual marriage.  You can find examples of politicians, football players, actors, musicians, and even former mega church pastors (i.e. Rob Bell) chiming in with support for the normalization of homosexual marriage.  In fact, entire denominations have changed their doctrinal position to support this lifestyle.  In former days, Christians could attempt to take a neutral position on gay marriage.  However, it is so polarizing an issue today, soon (I believe within the next 5 years) we will know where everyone in the Christian community stands on this question.  I do not support the lifestyle of homosexuality for many reasons, and I am against making laws to normalize marriage between two persons of the same sex (the same goes for other marriage alternatives like a person who wants to marry multiple people or to marry an animal, etc.).  I believe the overwhelming evidence of scripture, church history, and nature is on my side.  The question I would like to answer then is: Why Does Biblical Marriage Matter To God, If It Indeed Does?

Consider these things:

Marriage is a picture of His love for us:

According to the Westminster Confession, the primary purpose of all life is “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”  I submit that this is also then the primary purpose of marriage, so the question becomes: What does a God-glorifying marriage look like?  The Bible has a lot to say here.  Scripture repeatedly symbolically refers to the relationship between Christ and the church as a marriage.  That relationship is seen in the Bride (The church) and the Bridegroom (Jesus).  In the well-known verse Ephesians 5:25, Paul reminds us of what Jesus did for His bride: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”  When dealing with a marriage, it is ALWAYS seen between one man and one woman in the Bible.  There is no counter-example.  The Word constantly shows us this picture from Genesis to Revelation.  There is a feminine person and a masculine person in this relationship.  Marriage is a picture of his covenant love for His church and that marriage is between The Man and his bride.

Marriage is part of the process of growing the kingdom:

Part of the original dominion mandate given to Adam and Eve was to “be fruitful and multiply.” (Genesis 1:28)  Furthermore, we see this same mandate after the flood of Noah. (Genesis 9:7)  We see it again when the nation of Israel is born. (Genesis 35:11)  No less than 7 times this phrase “be fruitful and multiply” appears in Scripture.  Additionally, children are said to be “a blessing” in Psalm 127.  Here’s the point: part of the way of growing the kingdom of God is through procreation.  It does not take a scientist to know that it takes a male and a female for this process to happen.  If everyone decided to live the homosexual lifestyle, then we would only be one generation away from complete extinction.  How are we going to grow a kingdom if there is no one here to grow it?  Being fruitful and multiplying is a gift and a command from God.  Nature itself testifies to this.  Homosexual marriage and the homosexual lifestyle are anti-natural, and they are anti-kingdom growth.

Marriage is something that the Creator has already defined:

Are we allowed to rename the Mona Lisa, or even the iPhone if we wanted to?  No!  Why?  Because we did not create them, the naming rights belong to Leonardo Da Vinci and Steve Jobs, respectively.  It makes sense that only the Creator has the right to define what something is and what something is not.  The Lord has said that the only true and biblical marriage that He recognizes is that of a marriage between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24-25).  Since He is the Creator of this world, He has every right to define what He created.  If I, or anyone else, tries to step in and take the place of God by calling something good that He has called evil (1 Corinthians 6:9), may they be cursed.  That seems harsh but those are not my words or my view, but God’s Words and His view.  May it be a loud warning for those who would dare do so (Isaiah 5:20).  If God has declared something holy, just, or right who are we to say otherwise?  He is the Creator and as Creator has every right to set the rules and regulations.  Hear me out, what is more amazing than the rules themselves is that He forbids things like homosexuality for the good of mankind.  He has declared marriage to be holy, good and beneficial only when it is between one man and one woman.  Anything outside of these confines is sin and is detestable to God.

Does marriage really matter to God?  I believe it most certainly does.  Do homosexuals matter to God?  They most certainly do.  They, like every other person in the world, still bear His image.  We as Christians should still love homosexuals as our neighbors.  We should still treat them with dignity, as we should every human being.  However, part of loving your neighbor is telling the truth to your neighbor.  If we really want to love our neighbor then we must love them enough to tell them that God has something to say about the matter of homosexuality.  He has offered them grace and mercy.  He has offered them salvation, but to gain these things there must be recognition of their sin.  There must be repentance of that sin.  There must be forgiveness for sin.  This is what a loving neighbor would say.  This is what a loving God has said.  This is what the God of marriage has proclaimed.  Marriage matters to God and it should matter to us as well.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B Burrell.

In 2012, the average American making 50k a year spent over $2600 on entertainment.  That is about $200 a month.  That is more than the average person gives to charity annually.  We are entertained in many different ways; movies, music, games, sports, etc.   Americans spend more time and money on entertainment today than any other nation in the history or the world.  We like to be entertained.  There is nothing wrong with being entertained.   In fact, if the Westminster Catechism is correct stating that man’s chief end is to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever,” then good godly entertainment is certainly one way we can enjoy Him.  However, not all (or even most) entertainment that we spend money on today falls under the “godly entertainment” category.  Let us not say, on the other hand, that all entertainment must be inherently Christian for Christians to partake in and enjoy.

Is it okay to watch and enjoy a football, soccer, or baseball game without feeling sinful?  Most certainly!  Nevertheless, there is also a way to watch these things and it be sinful, depending on your motive.  How are we to discern what to watch and listen to in the way of entertainment?  I believe the Philippians 4:8 test is the best way to do this.  Paul wrote,

 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Before you turn on The Game of Thorns or Downton Abby, and before you download that new Taylor Swift album, take this test and hopefully you will be able to see if you should be spending your time, money, and energy on it.  Before you do anything, ask yourself these questions.

Is it True?

Can this (movie, book, TV program, etc.) be found in God’s Word as something that is true?  For example, can you listen to a love song not written by a Christian? I would say yes, as long as it is something that lines up with the truth of God, and is not distorting it.  If it lines up with the truth that is found in scripture and your conscience allows . . why not?  Remember that all truth is ultimately God’s truth.

Is it Honorable?

This is to say, is it something that is honorable to God?  Is it something where people are making light of sex? Then no, this is not honorable. Is it a game that glorifies violence? Again, I would say no, that is not honorable. What about a book that makes you lust after its character?  Is that honorable? NO!  You get the point.

Is it Just?

Is this something that is in harmony with God’s Word?  What about music that is glorifying getting drunk or songs where the singer is bragging about themselves?  I don’t think these are things that are justifiable to the Lord.  And what about watching some kid being beat up on YouTube?  Sorry, I don’t think that is justifiable entertainment either.

Is it Pure?

Is this promoting good or godly morals?  Is the music video, TV show, or movie that is showing people making out in a provocative way okay?  The question is, how is watching this going to make you more pure?  Peering through a window watching a couple make out would be a good way to have yourself arrested wouldn’t it?  There is not much difference in watching it on TV.  If it is not pure, you do not need to be entertained by it.

Is it Lovely?

Is this pleasing, kind, or gracious?  Is it okay to read a good hearted story about someone overcoming adversity?  Sure, we all love to hear these kinds of stories.  Actually, it often points us to the gospel.  There are plenty of feel good movies and books that are not overtly Christian that fall into this category.  However, if it is not pleasing, kind, or gracious, then the Philippians 4:8 test would say to “not think on these things.”  It is inevitable that you will have to face things that are not lovely in your life, but to openly be entertained by them is a different matter.

Is it Commendable?

Is it respectful?  Is it of high character?  Is this something that you could recommend to your friends or a Christian family?  I love war movies.  My all time favorite is Braveheart (but only the edited version).  I have recommended it to many people over the years.  However, there are some songs, articles, TV shows, and movies that could never fall under this category that I have been sinfully amused by in the past.  If you would not be willing tore commend it to your pastor, there is a great chance the Lord would not want you to participate in being entertained by it either.

These seven questions have helped guide me into making better choices in entertainment for my family.  They apply to movies, music, books, and even sporting events.  I love all sorts of entertainment. So, if Paul can quote a pagan poet (Acts 17:28) and it become part of the canon, it seems to be okay to be entertained by things that are not distinctly Christian as well as long as they fall into the above listed guidelines.  The next time you want to run to the theater to watch the newest flick, or click to download the newest album on iTunes . . . take the Philippians 4:8 test first and see if it is something the Lord would be okay with.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

One of the worst things for a parent to go through has to be the death of a child.  I can think of few things more tragic than this.  While I have never experienced the death of a child after they have been born, I have felt the pains of death in miscarriage.  Statistics say that somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage.  If you have ever been a part of that 10-20 percent, you know the pain it can cause.  You know all the questions that you have asked.  Often you are left with more question than answers. Often, there are just no good answers to give for why your little child died in the womb.  For many, there seems to be no hope in the case of a miscarriage.  It felt this way for my wife and me for a while.  It seemed that few people had answers . . . and even fewer cared to talk about it.  But what we found out is that you can actually find hope in the midst of it.  I read several articles on the subject when we went though it a few years ago.  They were helpful, but I would like to offer the perspective as a husband and father who has witnessed it firsthand.

Hope in the Right Questions:

First, it is important to note that God is big enough for your questions.  Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  He desires for us to come to Him with our burdens.  He even asked His father if He could “take this cup” from Him before He went to the cross.  When a miscarriage happens, a part of the grieving process may be to ask God why.  That is okay; He is big enough to field that question.  But the key factor in asking that question is not to stop there, but to submit it to the Lord.  Jesus submitted to His Father’s will by saying, “not My will but Yours be done.”  Have hope that there are answers to your questions, even if you don’t find them when you are asking.  God knows.  This leads us to the second point where we can find hope.

Hope in a Sovereign God:

There are four people involved in a miscarriage: the child, the mother, the father, and the Lord.  It is not always easy to remember during time of great pain and sorrow, but according to scripture God is the giver and taker of life.  Death is ultimately a byproduct of sin.  Death hurts. There is no way around it.  But when you have an understanding that God is sovereign over both life and death, it should bring comfort to know that the death of that little child was not an accident.  We should rejoice that the Lord counted us worthy to have that blessing for even a day.  God in His highest ways knew that it was best for His purpose.  He does not say that we have to enjoy His plan (I am sure Job did not), but when we have a good understanding of who He is we can submit to it and find hope that He knows what He is doing . . . and that He loves us while doing it.

Hope That You Will See Them Again One Day:

According to where you fall in the “covenant children” spectrum, this point of hope can be controversial.  Time, and words, would fail me if I tried to give a complete biblical defense of why I think infants who die very young go to heaven when they die (look here for my defense).  However, I believe there is great biblical hope for a parent who is a believer that suffers a miscarriage that they will one day see their child in glory.  This is one of the reasons my wife and I named our child that we miscarried.  While the case for miscarried (and even young children) going to heaven when they die is not as black and white as something such as the divinity of Jesus, or the virgin birth, I still believe we can say with a high degree of confidence that if you are a believer, you will one day again be united with that unborn child.  What hope that should bring.

Hope For Healing For Your Wife:

This miscarriage was the hardest thing I have ever dealt with.  Part of the reason for the hurt was seeing the pain my wife suffered.  For weeks she cried, it seemed like non-stop.  I felt helpless to do anything for her.  It felt the pain of the loss, but not in the same way she did.  I found the best thing I could do for her was to pray constantly, have a listening ear, and be a shoulder to cry on.  While my words did not bring much comfort to her during the first few weeks, she has since told me that what spoke volumes to her was me simply showing my love in these other ways.  I must admit: that was a God thing.  I am a fixer.  But for this hurt . . . the fix was just holding her and letting her cry.  I had hope that the Lord would heal her broken spirit . . . because I knew that I could not.

Miscarriage is difficult.  It hurts.  But for the Christian, there is hope.  We have a Father who crushed His own son so that His people could have a hope.  We have a Savior who can sympathize with us in our pain.  Finding hope during the distress of a miscarriage it not always easy, but if you are willing to look . . . it is there.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B Burrell

Have you ever wondered what the day in and day out life of a Christian is supposed to look like?  We know the big commands like “Go and make disciples,” and “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength.”  However, we don’t have a lot of texts that show us how to do these things in the day-to-day life.  In my particular denomination (SBC) sometimes we have a tendency to elevate our foreign missionaries to a very high level.  If we are not careful, we can make them out to be “Super Christians.”  I do not want to downplay the sacrifice required of all of our missionaries, but I also want to be careful not to elevate them to a place that is not God-honoring either.  God has called every single Christian to certain standards.  He has called us all to do a certain job.  The missionary has no higher calling than the school teacher if God has called you to teach school for His glory.  So, just what does that normal Christian life look like for both the factory worker and the pastor . . . the missionary and the stay-at-home mom?

Watchman Nee, a church leader and Christian teacher who worked in China during the 20th century, wrote a book nearly 100 years ago entitled “The Normal Christian Life.”  In it he wrote, “I do not consecrate myself to be a missionary or a preacher.  I consecrate myself to God to do His will where I am, be it in school, office, or kitchen, or wherever He may, in His wisdom, send me.”  I believe there is great wisdom in this saying.  If we want to see what this looks like, what the “The Normal Christian Life” looks like, I believe we can look at Paul’s exhortation to the Christians in Thessalonica in I Thessalonians 4:1-12.  He provides three commands for them that are just as applicable today as they were 2000 years ago.

Be Pure (I Thess. 4:3-8)

To be specific, he tells them and be sexually pure.  The word Paul uses here for sexual purity covers every type of sexual sin imagined (if you want a list see Deuteronomy 22).  The Christian who lived in Thessalonica lived in a very sexually perverted society, which is not that different from the world we live in today.  His instructions to them were simple . . . God has called us to remain pure, and thus you need to remain pure in this area, even if your culture does not.  Today we need to be reminded of this as well.  Recently statistics have shown that over 50% of men within the church look at pornography on a regular basis, and 30% of pastors have admitted to having an extra marital affair with someone within the church.  These statistics are scary and very disheartening.  A person cannot have a growing and thriving relationship with God while being sexually impure at the same time.  The normal everyday Christian (From John Piper to Jimmy Wright) has been called to be sexually pure . . . day in and day out.  You want to be a disciple of Jesus? . . . Be pure.

Be Loving (I Thess. 4:9-10)

The second command Paul gives is to be a person who loves much and loves well . . . specifically to his brother in Christ.  They had been taught by God through scripture and the example of Jesus, as well as the example of Paul when he lived with them.  They had already been doing a good job of this, yet Paul tells them to do it even more.  If we want to know what a disciple of Christ looks like and how one is to act . . . it must start and end with love.  Why did the Lord give the spiritual gifts?  He gave them for the outbuilding of the church.  What is the greatest commandment and the 2nd that is like it? . . . Love.  If we want to live a normal Christian life we need to be a people who are known for our love.  People should know we are Christians by our love . . . our actions toward others.  A disciple of Christ is one who loves the Lord so much that they desire to show their devotion to Him by loving others.

 Be Diligent (I Thess. 4:11-12)

The last command that we see is a call for diligence among all of God’s people.  He says that we are to be diligent in living a quiet life, minding our own business, and working hard.  There are many commands throughout scripture that go along with these charges.  One of my favorites is found in II Thessalonians 3:10.  It says, “for even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” (This rule works great with children, by the way, when they don’t want to clean their room.)  Christians above all people should be a person that does not want to bring attention to themselves, but at the same time tending closely to what the Lord has given them to do as a vocation according Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  When we understand that our salvation is completely from the Lord and whatever we do we should give Him glory in . . . it should make us want to be diligent in it.  This is a normal everyday thing that the Lord has called us to.

Sometimes we over spiritualize what the Lord has called us to do.  Because we still battle with our flesh at times it is easy to let a bit of pride creep up in our lives and feel like we want to be noticed.  However, I believe Tim Challies has given some good advice when he said that we need to “Be content to be unremarkable.”  In a day and age when we elevate Christian pastors and musicians to a level that many believe they will never be able to attain it seems like a good time to remind us all that God may have called us all to different vocations . . . but He has called us all too certainly live the normal Christian life.  If you want to live a life that is pleasing to God you need to be sure to Be Pure, Be Loving, and Be Diligent.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

What Does Biblical Repentance Really Look Like?

Posted: November 24, 2014 in Bible
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In recent months there have been some pretty high profile men (Mark Driscoll, Doug Philips,Tullian Tchividjian) who have either stepped down from the pastorate, or have been asked to, due to different sins in their lives. A firestorm of opinions has since lit up the blogosphere and every form of social media. Some have said that these men have not met the biblical level of repentance while others defend these pastors by saying that they have gone over and above what scripture requires for repentance. If you have been a Christian for very long, I hope repentance is something that you seek to do regularly. If we sin much, then we need to repent much. Scripture lays out plainly what repentance looks like. We must be careful not to add to God’s Word, just like we need to be equally careful not to take away from it. Some might want to add a certain amount of works (or penance) to the biblical model, while others may try to water down the Word so much that a person does not even need to confess one’s sin to God. The Bible provides us with the right balance. There are three parts to repentance, no more . . . and certainly no less.

Repentance in the Mind:

For repentance to be a truly biblical response it must have its place in the mind.  Repentance means “a change in your mind.”  Isaiah 55:7 says, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” When we sin, we must come to an understanding that this sin is a violation of God and His law. The first step of repentance is recognition in your mind that you have transgressed a holy God. However, simply acknowledging sin is not full-on repentance.

Repentance in the Heart:

For repentance to be true, one must also be convicted in their spirit (heart) that they have offended the Lord by their sin. Paul writes in II Corinthians 7:10, “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.” Unless the Holy Spirit convicts you, there can be no repentance. Confession can happen without the movement of the Spirit, but repentance that comes from a “broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart” is what “God will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). When you come face to face with a Holy God in light of your sin, a broken heart is what the Lord delights in and accepts.

Repentance in your Action:

For true Biblical repentance to happen there is still a third part that must be accomplished. This is also the hardest one to accomplish (not possible apart from the Holy Spirit I might add). It is a change in your actions. One might know they have sinned in their head, and be convicted of it in their heart, but unless they physically turn away from that sin then they have not truly repented of it. Repentance is not just a change of mind, but also a change of action. It literally means turning a 180. Luke 3:8 says that we are to “bear fruits in keeping with repentance.”  In Old Testament times this might look like putting ashes on your heard and wearing sackcloth. There must be an action taken to turn away from your sin. That is not to say that we need to wear ashes or sackcloth, but this action is actually a response to the first two parts of repentance (in the mind and in the heart). Unless, however, this portion of the repentant pattern happens, true biblical repentance has not occurred in the life of the sinner.

John MacArthur has rightly said, “Repentance is not just a change of mind; it is a change of heart. It is a spiritual turning, a total about-face. . . It is an inward response, not external activity, but its fruit will be evident in the true believer’s behavior.” It takes all three parts of the pattern if a person wants to truly repent of their sin. We must never forget, conversely, that all of this is done by the work of God and not done on our own. We could never repent unless the Lord showed us our sin though His word. We could never repent unless the Spirit convicted us. We could never walk away from our sin unless given the power to, through Christ’s death to that sin. When considering what repentance looks like in the life of men like the above stated (or even ourselves) we need to be careful that we do not add man-made requirements to the person in sin. God has told us what repentance looks like. He does not take lightly someone adding to his word. Yes, there needs to be fruit of repentance, but let’s let scripture define this and not try to define it ourselves. On the other hand, God does not take lightly taking away from His divine Word either. Confession is not repentance (much to the chagrin of some of my Catholic friends). Simply being convicted in ones heart that they have sinned is not repentance. It is a complete turning from it (mind, heart, and deed).  Repentance is necessary it we want to please God. So, when we sin . . . let us be quick to repent from that sin.  When a brother is in sin, let us lovingly tell them of their need for repentance. If they do repent, then praise God for it and act accordingly. Don’t add to their reproach, but certainly don’t make light of it either. Repentance is a good thing . . . so let’s make sure that we do it the biblical way.

Soli Deo Gloria

Adam B Burrell