one tiny soapbox: October 2007
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Wednesday, October 31

random (not so reformed) citation

Okay, so, I'm going to just post some words here that you may or may not agree with. I certainly don't agree with everything expressed. But, I do confess that it this moment in time, it has a certain appeal which I simply chose not to resist. Perhaps I'll take it down if I get enough protests from my more conservative Siblings. (If you feel the need to Rebuke me, be my guest...my contact info is to the right...)
This is a tribute to the nice guys. The nice guys that finish last, that never become more than friends, that endure hours of whining...about what *%@#$!*s guys are, while disproving the very point. This is dedicated to those guys who always provide a shoulder to lean on...who hold open doors and give reassuring pats on the back and sit patiently outside the changing room at department stores. This is in honor of the guys that obligingly reiterate how cute/beautiful/smart/funny...their female friends are at the appropriate moment, because they know most girls need that litany of support. This is in honor of the guys with open minds, with laid-back attitudes, with honest concern. This is in honor of the guys who respect a girl’s every facet, from her privacy to her theology to her clothing style...

...for the guys who accompany girls to bars as buffers against the rest of the creepy male population, for the guys who know a girl is fishing for compliments but give them out anyway, for the guys who always play by the rules in a game where the rules favor cheaters, for the guys who are accredited as boyfriend material but somehow don’t end up being boyfriends...

...I wish I could logically explain this trend, but I can’t. From what I have observed...and what I have learned from talking to friends...the only conclusion I can form is that many girls...claim they just want to date a nice guy, but when presented with such a specimen, they say irrational, confusing things such as “oh, he’s too nice to date” or “he would be a good boyfriend but he’s not for me”...But one thing I can do, is say that the nice-guy-finishes-last phenomenon doesn’t last forever. There are definitely many girls who grow out of that train of thought and realize they should be dating the nice guys, not taking them for granted. The tricky part is finding those girls, and even trickier, finding the ones that are single.

So, until those girls are found, I propose a toast to all the nice guys...the truth of the matter is, the world needs your patience in the department store, your holding open of doors, your party escorting services, your propensity to be a sucker for a pretty smile. For all the crazy, inane, absurd things you tolerate, for all the situations where you are the faceless, nameless hero, my accolades, my acknowledgement, and my gratitude go out to you. You do have credibility in this society...
(Here's the author's entire rant. WARNING! This guy's decidedly un-Saved, which means the excerpt posted here is significantly cleaner than what awaits you at the above link. Read at your own risk...)

ibcarlos, Reformed thinker

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Monday, October 29

good art (like good coffee) is hard to find...

~ 11/7/07 UPDATE: 'If it's on your heart to do so, please pray that the Lord will provide Erin with an opportunity for a job interview for a contract position and that the Children's Hunger Fund may even consider sponsoring her. Time is of the essence for Erin to get employer sponsorship and/or some work ASAP. Thank you, saints!' -Friend of Erin's, Julie Cha ~

Harder still at affordable prices!

As you can see from the images, my friend, Erin "Wooyeon" Park, is a talented artist. She's also going through some seriously hard times, financially.

So, if you feel at all inclined, please let a brotha know you might be interested in purchasing (or commissioning) any of her art. She assures me she's affordable, and doesn't price her work "pretentiously." And because of her tentative immigrant status, she's also in need of a corporate sponsor of her green card 'ASAP'.

Here's a link to more of her work. It includes her resume with contact info. (Please tell her I sent you.)

Thanks for considering!

ibcarlos, Reformed thinker

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Tuesday, October 23

on finding a good church...Part 2

I couldn't resist posting this "addendum" to my earlier post. It's an excerpt from another related sermon, in which the pastor further describes what a solid church looks like. I admit that at one point, I nearly cried.

The Truth is so beautiful to those who - by God's Power - love and embrace it...
Some people today think the church is a...is a place for unbelievers to come. I don’t believe that. There’s not one word in the New Testament that says a church service is to be designed for an unbeliever...not one word. That’s right. We don’t design church services for unbelievers. We don’t gather together for evangelism, we gather together for edification and worship and we scatter for evangelism. We don’t collect to preach over and over and over and over the simple gospel to figure out a way how to entertain unbelievers. That is not the purpose of the church gathering. The church gathers in order that it might corporately worship God and stimulate each other to love and good works. And it might be edified and accountable for the truth that it’s hearing and then it scatters to touch the world.

In 1 Corinthians there’s a very interesting comment the Apostle Paul says. And I think most people don’t even know it’s in there, you just kind of look past it. He’s looking at the Corinthian church which is just total chaos. He says, “Look...verse 23...if you’re whole church gets together and everybody speaks in tongues, what will happen if an unbeliever comes in?” Now isn’t that an interesting statement? He says, look...if you’re having church and everybody is speaking in tongues, what’s going to happen if an unbeliever comes in? You know what first hits me about that? The whole point of church isn’t for unbelievers. But imagine, one of them might even come...an unbeliever might come. It’s possible. I mean, it’s not as if it was the plan, right? You say, “What are you going to do if an unbeliever shows up?” Like what an odd thing, but it might happen. We don’t meet for unbelievers. If the unbeliever comes in and you’re all doing that, he’s going to say the people are out of their minds, everybody speaking in tongues. But if all are prophesying... What does that mean? That doesn’t mean some esoteric ecstatic experience, that means if you are declaring the truth of God, if they come in and someone is teaching the Word and declaring the Word, then an unbeliever is going to come in and he’s going to be convicted by the devotion of everybody to the Word of God and he’s going to be called to account by everybody, the secrets of his heart are disclosed and he falls on his face and worships God and says, “Wow, God is here.” You don’t...you don’t have to create some kind of a comfort zone for unbelievers and try to attract them to the church. But if they come and they eavesdrop on your worship, and they eavesdrop and they hear the Word being powerfully taught and there’s no power like the Word, sharper than any two-edged sword, and they see that you all submit to the Word and you’re all worshiping God, he’s going to fall on his face and say, “God is here. This is incredible.”

A few Sundays ago, some of you were there on Sunday night, I think it was before school started, a young man came into the baptistry, he was homosexual, dying of AIDS and said, “I wandered in the back of this church all alone.” And he said, “John, the first thing you did was stand up and you read the Psalm...a Psalm I never heard in my life.” And then he rattled off ten verses verbatim which he had memorized out of that Psalm. And it was about the chains being broken and the prisoners being set free and those who are on the edge of death being given new life. And he said the tears began to race down my face and I sat through that service and I watched a people who worshiped God and I heard that God was a delivering, healing, restoring, freeing God. And at the end of that service I gave my life to Jesus Christ. Three weeks ago. He said, “I not only have not had a homosexual encounter,” and they have sometimes as many as five a day, “but I have no desire for that and never had since the moment I gave my life to Christ.” We didn’t create a service for homosexuals to make homosexuals feel loved and comfortable. A homosexual eavesdropped on the power of the Word of God and the corporate worship of God’s people and he fell on his face to worship God.
(Click here for the entire sermon.)
~ ~ ~
ibcarlos, Reformed thinker

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on finding a good church...

Okay, so I haven't been doing a lot of original posting, lately. Oh well...I will sometime (dadgummit)!

But, in the mean-and-in-between, I have no problem sharing excerpts of some lucid Bible exposition. This one's on the matter of choosing a solid church. (There's been quite a profitable discussion on the subject - mostly back in August & September - over at the Pyromaniacs' blog. I urge you to check it out, though you'll have to do a bit of key-word searching to find all the related posts. Start with 'church', and work from there.)

It seems to me many people think they've got this area "covered," but, I'd invite us all to revisit the issue and examine it a bit more closely...
...how do you pick a church? Look, you come from a church, we all come from some church, you go to a church. The rest of your life you’re going to be involved in a church. The church is going to be the center of your life. It’s going to be...some of you are actually going to get married and have children. You’re going to raise them in a church. The church scene is frankly frightening. In the tens of thousands of letters that we get at Grace To You every...well every week, thousands a day, I would say that the commonest complaint that we receive is from people who cannot find a church where they feel the truth of God is honored and ministry is done in a biblical way. This is no small frustration.

It’s not that there are many...there aren’t many churches, there are lots of churches. It’s trying to discern what is a good church, what is a right church. And I want to help you with that. I want to talk about what a church should be. Now when I talk about this, you know you’re getting down to the core of where I live because as a pastor I have a great love for the church. I’ve always loved the church. Even as a kid growing up I loved the church. And Jesus said, “I will build My church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” It’s the only institution Jesus ever promised to build, the only one that He is building. And so we have to be committed to the church. But obviously not all churches are committed to what they should be. So let me give you some principles, okay? What you want to look for in a church. Not just now but certainly now and for the rest of your life. These are not unrealistic expectations. These are not methods, nothing to do with that. These are not formats. These have nothing to do with style. I’ve been all over the world, I’ve been in church from the high mountains of the Andes in South America, to a church...house church in China, to churches in the Middle East, to churches in Europe, to churches in South Africa. I’ve been all over the world. Everywhere I’ve gone I’ve been in churches and I’ve seen every imaginable kind of style of church. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about substance. Don’t look at style, it’s seductive. It’s, at best, style can only appeal to the flesh. Substance is what you’re after.

The first thing you look for in a church is a high view of God....a high view of God. And this one could spend his entire life discussing...a high view of God. Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Everything starts with fearing God. That’s the beginning of everything. And that’s...that’s crystal clear in Scripture. The holiness of God is the first and central element in the church. The glory of God, the exaltation of God.
(Click here for the entire sermon.)
~ ~ ~
ibcarlos, Reformed thinker

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Monday, October 8

a thorn from the Gospel rose

Many seem to think Jesus is like a cosmic bellhop. If you do, too...please have a read (watch your fingers & toes)...
How did you come to Christ? Did you come just saying 'Hey Jesus, if You can give me a happy life I'll take it.' How would you like to have a happy life? How would you like to have an abundant life? I have a wonderful plan for your life. Want to know something? God has a terrible, wretched, ghastly plan for your life, apart from Christ, and you only come to Him on His terms, not yours. So you come broken and contrite, shattered over your sinfulness, and He changes you immediately and gives you a new heart and you are different, you're salt and you're light and you're on a hill and the world can see, and you're distinguishable if you are really a Christian. And your life is characterized by righteousness which means you are going to want to obey [His commands] more than you want anything else and that's going to result in right thinking and right talking and right acting and right kind of worship, and right kind of relationships and you know immediately somebody is going to say 'Who can ever live like that?' Good I'm glad you got to that point. Because you can't, you want to know something, that's all impossible.

I can illustrate to you by looking at Matthew 19, verse 23, Jesus had just talked to the rich man, the rich young ruler, told him to go sell everything he had and give it to the poor, and then come and follow Him, and the rich young ruler loved his money more than he loved Jesus so he took his money and walked away.

Now watch what Jesus says. "Verily I say unto you that a rich man shall with difficulty enter into the kingdom of heaven, (24) And again I say to you [now listen to this statement] it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."

Now let me ask you something: can a camel go through the eye of a needle? You say 'well you don't understand, that's the Needle Gate,' that's not the Needle Gate, that is exactly what it means: it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to be saved. You say that's impossible! That's exactly what the Lord wanted you to conclude. Verse 25, "When His disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, (now if He would have been talking about some needle gate they would not have been amazed) and they said, who, then can be saved?" They knew He was saying a rich man can't be saved! That's what He was saying. Jesus beheld them and said unto them, I think you got the message boys, with men this is impossible. With God all things are possible. What was He saying? Just this: the standard is impossible, nobody, no time could ever be saved, but with God, it's possible. Do you see what He's trying to say, we don't have the resources on our own. We can't do it. And that's why you've got to be ready to strip that baggage off and cast yourself on the mercy of God and the rich man wasn’t willing to do it. He was willing to climb on the religious band wagon carrying his luggage of materialism and he couldn't get on with it. It was like trying to go through the eye of a needle with a hump-backed camel...impossible, that's the whole point.

The only way anybody ever enters the kingdom is when he realizes he can't and strips himself naked and arrives back at Matthew 5:3 broken in spirit and mourning and hungering and thirsting for a righteousness which is absolutely impossible for him to ever attain. You say but most people don't want to meet those conditions. You're right, most people want to go to heaven their way, that's right. They want to get on with all their crud; they are like a guy going on a trip with four bags. Here's worldliness, sin, Satan, and self, and they’re going to get on. And they are saying Jesus, I want the happiness you are going to give me I want to stay out of hell, here I come! There's a road for them by the way, go back to Matthew 7:13 and let me show you.
(Click here to read this sermon in its entirety.)

ibcarlos, Reformed thinker

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