Convictions


When I drive home from work, I’ve often got the Bible on, because BBN radio plays the daily Bible reading right around then.

And sometimes, things that I hear just strike me.

We all lose our way a little. God uses moments like that to re-direct us.

Hearing a classic Fundamentalist verse on the radio like Psalm 12:6-7 can remind us to stay in God’s word.

Or we can hear a verse from Isaiah about the people honoring God with their lips, but their hearts are far from them.

That’s God giving you a wake up call.

We are in an onslaught to conform to a horrid and sinful world. I mourn for the world of my youth, when things weren’t anywhere NEAR as bad. I cannot imagine trying to raise children today, where they face constant indoctrination by the world. “Live this sinful lifestyle!” The world urges today. Think things were bad in Biblical times? We’re about to by-pass that.

But the world presses us, too. The world tempts us too.

Because some guy who writes for Logos released his own book against the King James Only movement, Logos has been running almost daily articles on their home screen about “Why you should never rely on one translation”, etc.

I have to stay steadfast, encourage myself to not let that get to me, because it’s one of my weak areas. I’d love to be able to research using other translations – but I know there’s a problem there, and that we’re using Gnostic-Arianist texts to translate our modern Bibles. I know that Unitarians exerted a lot of pressure in the 19th century to move away from the texts Christianity has ALWAYS used in favor of these Arianist texts written by heretics.

I read things almost daily about “christian Unity” from people urging me to be united with people whose doctrinal stances reveal them to be anything BUT Christian.

A few years ago, political expediency caused a lot of American Christians to run to embrace a cult. We accepted Mormonism and “don’t you dare criticize a fellow Christian!”

Well, I wasn’t. I was criticizing a false religion, a false Christianity that worshiped a false Christ. The devout followers of Joseph Smith will not wake up in Heaven, suddenly free of aberrant doctrines. They worship a false Christ, and they’ll wake to a torment they denied their whole lives. It’s a tragedy, and if you were one of those who encouraged unity with Mormons, you’d better do some serious repenting and prayer. you just might have to explain why you never witnessed to them!

We all get sidelined. We all get distracted away from God. This world’s good at it. Satan’s had a lot of practice at it.

If I don’t stay firm and committed, I’ll be quoting from the RSV, and citing Rick Warren.

Allow God to convict you. Allow God to remind you to be faithful and true. If you listen, God will keep you from trouble, from backsliding.

The key is that- when God is speaking, listen.

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The Best Bible Software


Bottom line article. Not a lot of reading today. Thank me later.

Best Bible program hands down…

Logos.

Best Bible program for MAC…

Accordance. Or use a Windows Simulator and get Logos.

Best Bible program to look up strange things in the Bible…

Bible Analyzer

Best Fundamentalist Bible program

Swordsearcher

Best Free Bible Program

Bible Analyzer

Best phone Bible app

Logos

Best free Bible program with a large number of free addon books…

E-Sword.

Best Bible software to own if you worry about someone editing your Bible without your say-so…

Quickverse 2010

The illustration by Eugene Peterson is a good example of why I hate sermon illustrations

Studying The Bible with Olive Tree Bible software


How do you study the Bible with Olive Tree Bible Study?

It’s really hard and time consuming to do it.

Olive Tree is meant as a Bible READING program. They add tools like Strong’s, because if they don’t, people won’t get it.

So, all I have in Olive tree Bible Study 6 is just what’s free. I’m too busy spending money on Logos to really buy anything for Bible Study 6. You have ONE window. ONE.

I mean, that’s even more of a set back than the earliest Window’s based Bible programs!

Really!

This program shouldn’t have gotten as popular as it has.

Anyway.

Let’s try this.

Read your Bible portion for the day. Select a word, and right click. Choose “look up”. It will give you the option to look it up in every Bible dictionary you have. If you haven’t spent any money on this, it’ll default to Easton’s. Not a bad Bible dictionary, really. I find a lot of the entries between Easton’s and Smiths are word for word the same.

Okay. Easton’s opens. Copy the relevent parts of it you want to remember. One of the keys of Bible Study I have consistently taught is that if you learn something, copy it to a notefile.

So close Easton’s. Select the verse and right click on it. Choose “note”. When the note window for that verse appears, paste into it. Close the note unless you want to add some thoughts to it.

it’s now under “My stuff” – “Notes”.

That’s pretty much all you can do with it, unless you start spending money.

Can you study the bible with it?

Yes.

Will you learn a lot with it?

Heaven’s no.

Is it worth the price (free)?

Sort of. I mean, you can get better Bible programs that are free. If you’re just looking for free, Bible Analyzer runs it into the ground and buries it. E-Sword is slow and clunky, but far better. Even theWord is much better than this!

My advice on this program – skip it. In my opinion, Bible Study 6 is the worst Bible program I’ve ever used since my first MS-DOS Bible program in 1995.

If you want something for your phone, get Logos Basic for your laptop, and the Logos Bible phone app for your phone. That way, what you look up on your phone away from your computer is synchronized with your laptop.

Should Babies Be Baptized?


This is a simple enough question, with a simple enough answer.

The key to it is understanding the purpose of Baptism.

You must be born again.

Baptism is not part of that.

Baptism is the sign, a public statement that we indeed identify with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

It is a sign of a changed life, that our first act after receiving Christ as our Lord and Saviour is to be baptized publicly.

We’re letting everyone and everything know we are obedient to Jesus Christ as Lord.

Repent. Be Born Again. Get Baptized.

That’s the sequence.

So, tell me…

How can an infant make that statement? How can an infant make that choice? Are they really capable of deciding, “I am a sinner, and only Jesus Christ can save me”?

Taking a baby to water and gently dripping or sprinkling water on them does really nothing more than irritate a baby. To baptize a baby is exceptionally dangerous, because Baptism requires immersion of the entire body under water. Anyone who does this to a baby deserves a lengthy, lengthy prison sentence.

The confusion lies in 1). Whether or not Baptism saved you (it does not), or 2). if the baby is already saved because of predestination, and is being baptized in response to that (it’s not).

Jesus did not walk through Israel saying, “You’re all saved anyway.” He didn’t meet people and say, “Fear not, O man, for thou art one of the elect, and therefore predestined to paradise.”

He went through Israel preaching repentance. And He commanded us to repent and be baptized. There is no hint whatsoever in Christ’s teachings that anyone is predestined to Heaven. There is no hint whatsoever that anyone who is Baptized is saved. The thief on the cross was not baptized, yet he was saved.

We are not saved by works, lest any man should boast. We are saved by grace through faith.

If you cannot recognize your sin, repent, turn to Christ and beg forgiveness – you are not saved.

So why then does Protestantism wash babies or sprinkle water on them and claim this is baptism?

It’s not. Babies should not be baptized.

Really, children probably shouldn’t either, because childhood professions of faith tend to be proven wrong years later.

Only believers in Jesus Christ who are born again should be baptized.

How Are We Saved?


This could be a short article, or a very, very long one.

Common thinking world wide holds that we must do more good deeds than bad to go to heaven.

Unfortunately, this violates simple logic and Biblical truth.

Sin חַטָּאת separates us from God. Chattat (sin) is to miss the mark, to err, to fall short. The first use of Sin is Genesis 4:7.

“If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.” (Genesis 4:7, KJV)

Ignoring the entire concept of whether we inherit the curse from Adam or not, let’s examine the result of one sin. The very first time you knowingly sinned. You stole something. You lied. You lusted. You…whatever.

The most famous explorer of this of course is Ray Comfort, who takes everyone he meets through a series of questions. “Have you ever told a lie?”

“Yes.”

“Have you ever stole anything, even if it was just a pen?” I add cough drops to that list, because everyone takes cough drops!

“Yes.”

“Have you ever lusted in your heart over another person?”

“yes.”

“Then by your own admission, you’re a lying, cheating, stealing lustful sinner, and your sins separate you from a thrice-Holy God, with no chance to get into Heaven.”

A lot of Christians hate Ray Comfort, but you’ve got to admit, his method there is bulletproof. Anyone who denies stealing even a pen Ray has an answer for: “You’ve already told me you’re a liar, so…”

The point here is – one sin separates you from God. Forever.

God is the ultimate Holiness. He is utterly perfect and Holy. No sin can enter His presence. Once sin has polluted your hands, you are FOREVER powerless to remove that. If you do evil, you will burn in Hell forever.

Any attempt to cleanse that is polluted by your own sins. So, it doesn’t matter if you do 10,000 good deeds and sin 5,000 times – you sinned once. You are destined for torment day and night forever and ever in the Lake of Fire.

“God is Love! A loving God wouldn’t send me to Hell!”

Wrong answer. You’ve downplayed the holiness of God. Utterly Holy, utterly perfect, utterly loving. But sin is the spurning of that love.

And the only punishment is eternal wrath.

Yes, God is love. And He’s also the rewarder of good and the judge of Evil. You need to study the nature of the Sovereignty of God throughout Scripture.

“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, And your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2, KJV)

God cannot look upon sin. He cannot. He is Holy.

How then can man be saved?

He cannot.

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8, KJV)

“all I told is a little white lie!”

Guilty.

Sentence passed.

Eternity in flames. Gasping, crying, pleading, crying, as the flames burn. Hotter than you could ever imagine. No relief. No change. You see nothing in the blackness, as you suffer. Your body will twist and contort, trying to get away from the flames. And you cry out to God, but there is no answer. And in your hearing, you hear people crying out the most horrific phrase you ever heard…

“But I thought I was a Christian!!!”

“Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:4, KJV)

But there is hope.

“Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23, KJV)

Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? Ezekiel 18:31 (KJV)

Repentance is key. But it is not enough.

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: The chastisement of our peace was upon him; And with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned every one to his own way; And the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:5–6, KJV)

We repent. We cry out to Jesus Christ to save us.

Salvation is by faith that Jesus Christ will save us by grace. No works. No ceremonies. No “Asking Jesus into your heart”. Just a serious, desperate, “Jesus, please, save me!”

Jesus Christ answers prayers like that. He never turned anyone away who sincerely recognized their own sins. Repentance was always answered with “yes”. Excuses or self justification was always answered with “No”.

Nothing’s changed.

If you are unsure you’re saved, don’t let it wait. Get on your knees and pray right now.

Hell is real. And unless God declares you not guilty because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ, that’s your eternal destiny.

Methods of Effective Sermon Writing


It’s funny, one of the reasons I upgraded to Logos 7 was I wanted the Sermon writer. I’m too accustomed to the idea of writing sermons within the Bible program.

It’s funny because I almost never use it. It seems like once I sit down to write Godly things, I always open Thingamablog and write a blog article. Especially now that my job is making me very busy lately!

To write a sermon, it’s very simple. You spend a few days on it, poof, you’re done.

Well, it’s not that easy. The biggest eye roller to those in ministry is those people who think a Pastor only works one day a week. And even worse is the congregations who demand their pastor be bi-vocational.

If you want a part time minister, you’re going to get part time spiritual growth. God will not bless a church that does not pay their pastor well enough.

Paul explains it well that a Pastor who rules well is worthy of double honor – in other words, you pay him enough money to pastor full time – whatever that amount is in your location. In my neck of the woods, that would be $50,000 plus a full benefits package.

Paul says if the pastor is GOOD, the pay should be doubled. That’s what double honor means. I don’t need to do the math for you. You can hit X2 on your calculator yourself.

Independent Baptist pastors often make less money than a manager at a McDonalds. And then the church wonders why they’re small and having trouble getting members? Well, you’re not providing for your pastor, that’s why. God will not bless a church that violates this rule.

So, leaving all that digression aside…! How to write a sermon effectively?

Have a method for determining beforehand what you’ll preach on.

My old pastor insisted on Topical preaching. He liked that best. I prefer to use expository instead, but that’s not as popular for independent Baptists. Everyone thinks you’re a Calvinist if you do!

So, here’s a number of methods you can use to determine your text. I literally would know what to preach if someone hired me today to preach Sunday.

  1. Topical – use a topical Bible, such as Torrey’s or Nave’s. Start at A in the Topical Bible. All your major verses you can use are listed there. Preach until you reach Z, topic by topic.
  2. Expository by verse – Start with Matthew, and preach one pericope (Biblical unit of thought) at a time. My favorite method.
  3. Expository by date – this method, unpopular though it is, is actually the historical Early Church method of preaching. Jews use a Parshah system, a division of the Pentateuch into 52 weekly readings. Just look at the Chabad calendar hanging on your wall, pick a pericope within that to preach on. The early Christians divided the Gospels into 52 weekly readings as well in Bibles called “lectionaries”. Logos literally comes with about a dozen lectionaries, and you can buy more.
  4. Expository by Yearly reading – this one is where the entire church is on the same reading plan (hint – the pastor places it on his Faithlife church page, and every church member gets Logos Basic… your readings are set up for you), and the Pastor picks a pericope within the weekly reading. This makes a more engaged church, as the church will be doing the weekly reading and trying to guess what you’re going to preach about!

There’s absolutely no reason to not know what I’m about to preach on. I’m starting Sunday with Matthew 1. You’re starting Sunday with Romans 8:12-17, a character study on Aaron, or something from this week’s Bible readings.

See how enormously settling that is, to KNOW what I’m preaching on?

That relieves a million worries about “what do I preach on?”

Research

Now you have to research. Hopefully you own Logos Bronze, and have all the books that are in it! Research is now a snap.

First, check out the sermon guide in Logos. Right away you spot the main thrust of the passage – the sons of God, the children of God as a community of called out believers.

You can set that up as three points:

  1. who are the children of God?
  2. How do we know we are the children of God?
  3. Why are we children of God?

Now, the research starts.

The topical guide and the sermon starter Guide give you the information – much of it comes from the TSK and Matthew Henry, if you purchased those like I advised.

You need to do at least three word studies, just to make sure you have a grasp of the text. This is why you went to seminary. I think IFB seminaries often do the worst thing possible by dissuading Pastors from learning Koine Greek and Hebrew. Yes, we should use the King James – but the translators of the King James had no problems learning Greek! Here’s a bottom line statement – if you didn’t have a year of each language, you have not studied to shew thyself approved.

The passage contrasts flesh and spirit, so that needs to be a sub-theme.

Research in Logos is fast and easy – it’s just a matter of making a note file and dragging pertinent information.

Compile the information

If you arrange the major points of your sermon and the sub theme in a Logos sermon, it helps to show you the progression of thought.

Commentary – make sure to scan a good commentary. See, all this work is why the congregation is paying you so much. Make sure you do it! Really not that much work, just time consuming. Chew the meat, spit the bones, and drag and drop pertinent information into your sermon document. Read the BKC and Matthew Henry, and whatever other commentaries you prefer to consult.

See? The bones of the sermon are in place. You just have to write it out now! I like writing mine word for word. Others like preaching from an outline with notes in it.

Guess what? you just did that! If this is how you do the sermon, it’s done!

The Call to Not Pastor


One thing that is often unmistakable is the call to pastor.

You usually are confirmed by others. Not once, but many times.

SOMETIMES pastors feel threatened when the Lord raises up someone in a congregation to pastor. Now, pay attention to this part, because I’m going to say something often misunderstood.

When a pastor sees someone raised up within the congregation whom God has called, they sometimes feel threatened, and will try to dismiss that when the person asks the pastor. This way they are not a threat to the Pastor’s job.

Here’s what – in my experience – is the usual result. The church very quickly dies afterwards.

If you think you’ve got a call to the ministry, and you approached your pastor with it eight years ago and he pooh-poohed the idea, he may be right.

If you approach the pastor, and he dismissed the idea even though many other people keep confirming it and saying “you should be a pastor!”, and his ministry took a downturn, and the next pastor who came in was a wolf who wrested the church to destruction – then you were called and the Pastor either erred or was trying to keep you out because he felt threatened.

The Call to ministry is important. But it must be confirmed by others. If you, of your own volition, decided you needed to be in the ministry and got no confirmation from others, then yes – you are self willed.

I had planned on starting a church. I spent a lot of time and study making up the plans. I had confirmation from others. But my pastor retired, and handed the church to the associate pastor – and he ran it into the ground.

I prayed and prayed and prayed for this.

I’ve received zero offers to pastor a church full time. If I truly were called to the ministry, then I should have been led to a church that needs a pastor, or certainly, God would have led a Fundamentalist church to this blog, who would have contacted me and offered me a pastoring job. And Lord knows I’ve spent many a time in earnest prayer about it.

Recently, I tried searching again on the subject of pastoring. And about a year or two ago I ran into an article that listed the things to watch out for, things that identified wolves rather than shepherds. That article told me that if God wanted me in the pulpit, NOTHING would stand in my way.

So I concluded that this blog is the very ministry God wants me in – and probably no further.

Before you go and start a church in your garage – make SURE you are called to do this. Serving a congregation gives you greater responsibility, and you have much more to answer for. If you are not sure but wish, wait and see if others confirm it first. You DON’T want to pastor and find out at the believer’s judgment you were never called to pastor. That’s going to be a mighty uncomfortable moment of having to answer those questions you never were meant to answer.