Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"Fiery Trials? Don't Be Surprised!"






"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good" (1 Peter 4:12-19).
Yesterday while out making visits to our shut-ins I was involved in a 2 car accident. By God's grace no one was seriously injured. After I was removed from my vehicle the lady of the other vehicle became outraged. She wanted to know who was going to repair her car. Needless to say, I was not too concern about our vehicles, but more concern for her 4 year old who was visibly upset from the accident. I was able to tell her everything would be o.k. before the officers had me to sit down.
As I sit here this a.m mediating on the past 9 months of my life and the different situations I have encountered both spiritually, physically, emotionally, and financially I am reminded of the great promise God has given to His people from 1st Peter. Although, I will never understand many of the situations my family and I have been through or are going through I know that the infallible Word of "God is true and never changes" (Mal 3:6).
Therefore, why should I be surprised at my situation? All these things God has sovereignly ordained in my life to test, try, and purify my faith in Him. I am grateful to still be alive after yesterday's accident. I am thankful for God's hand of protection upon the other car, especially the little girl and her mother. I know cars can be replaced and repaired, but to see that little girl so upset was very disturbing. However, I am unsure what God is trying to teach me, right now. I am confident He is working, guiding, and preparing me for the work He has called me to.
As I reflect on the last 9 months of radical changes in the Beck household and now this... I am grateful for this time of year, as it causes me to turn my attention off of ME and to seek Him! The time of year where "dead things" come "alive." The time of year God's creation screams out the gospel to His creatures. I am grateful God chose to reveal His gospel to me through the foolishness of preaching of the death, burial, and resurrection (1 Cor 15:3-4) of Christ. Although things may look grim and I do not fully understand the purposes of them, I know Christ took the Father's full weight of wrath to fulfill God's Holy demands for ME. My sins have been "forgiven in Christ (Eph 4:32), I am free in Christ (Jhn 8:36), I have liberty in Christ (Gal 5:1), and I am joint heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17)." But, not only did Christ die, but "he was buried" (1 Cor.15:3) "carrying my sins far away, as far as the east is to the west, remembering them no more" (Ps 103:12). Yet, the grave could not contain him (Acts 2:24), Christ arose on the third day defeating death, hell, and the grave. Thus, Christ was "raised for MY justification" (Rom 4:24). Thus, causing me to repent and believe upon Christ is a glorious truth. It is what Matthew Henry calls "the gospel truth," that "ALL men everywhere should repent and believe" (Acts 17:30).
Have you repented? Have you turned to God in Christ by faith? If not you are under His wrath (Jhn 3:36) and your life is miserable and have no hope without Him. I urge you to seek Him, while He may be found (Isa.55:6). 
In conclusion, I am reminded, "life is tough, but God is good!" Being found in Christ, I have the greatest gift of all... That is the free gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus (Rom 6:23). My prayer is not that God would remove the difficulties from our family's lives, but that through them our family would be conformed more into the "image of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:29)", which He predestined us for. And that I not would find my identity in being a pastor, husband, father, or even in a car, but my identity would be found in Christ and Him alone. And that other believers who are going through trials, sufferings, persecutions in their lives today for the sake of following Christ, would by faith look to the lamb of God who was slain before the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8), for their great hope and promise. And as believers we can encourage and exhort one another unto good works (Heb 10:24), for the glory of God!


Friday, March 21, 2014

Guest Post by Pastor James Bell: "READ the Revelation"

A guest blog post by Pastor James Bell. Pastor James has served SouthSide Baptist Church in Gallatin, TN for 38 years. 


REVELATION 1-22: THE UNVEILING OF JESUS CHRIST!

Through the aged Apostle John, exiled and imprisoned, the Holy Spirit gave The REVELATION! The Revelation is above all else the UNVEILING OF JESUS as He is today! And in this grand unveiling of JESUS, we are also given much to HEED and much to OBEY! MOREOVER, in the Revelation we are clearly shown that no matter how bad the storms get on planet earth— JESUS IS STILL THE GREAT CAPTAIN of the good ‘ship’ earth! The risen, ascended, ruling from heaven King of Kings and LORD OF Lords will accomplish all of the Great Triune God’s good purposes!

REVIVAL: WE CANNOT BE SERIOUS ABOUT GENUINE REVIVAL UNLESS WE BECOME SERIOUS ABOUT READING, HEARING, AND OBEYING that which is found in the last book of the Bible! MOREOVER, we are kidding ourselves in thinking that we can STAND FIRM and at PEACE in the midst of the storms present and/or the coming storms IF WE ARE NOT DEEPLY GROUNDED in the Grand Unveiling of Jesus AS HE IS TODAY! We must get serious about the instructions He gives to His saints in The Revelation!

Please do not slander the Holy Spirit by claiming that 'The Unveiling of Jesus' is HARD to understand and SCARY! The truth is that the primary messages of The Revelation are exceedingly PLAIN to see; and the primary truth of the book is MOST COMFORTING! The first recipients of The Revelation were TRIBULATION saints! God used John, a saint in great tribulation and persecution, to pen The Revelation! (Revelation 1:9) Historically, the Revelation has been and is a great source of comfort to persecuted saints. And since, “all who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution’— then, if I am living godly I am an especially good candidate for great blessings from The Revelation!

The Revelation IS scary to satan, demons, and all other haters of God! Doubtless, Satan does not want saints to enter into the profound comfort and instruction that God has in The Unveiling of Jesus!

Remember that The Revelation was written to persecuted Christians who neededsome encouragement, who needed to know that JESUS and not Rome was in command, who needed commendations, commands, and corrections. PLACE YOURSELF IN THE MIND-SET of one of those FIRST CHRISTIANS to receive The Revelation. Family members and other fellow saints were MISSING. They were not AWOL. No, they had been fed to the lions… or maybe banished like the Apostle John to slave labor on the isle of Patmos. Rome was MIGHTY. The saints were becoming fearful. Some were wondering if they were but fools. Some were already tolerating sin and apostasy. But at just the right moment, ALMIGHTY GOD INVADED the isle of Patmos by the Holy Spirit and moved John’s pen!
And when The Revelation was completed, somehow, God got the letter to the churches. Can’t you just imagine, the persecuted saints at Ephesus, meeting in secret… and a ‘runner’ comes in… they are startled and wonder, “Is he a spy?”No, he proves his credentials… He has just left the aged pastor and Apostle John and reports, “I have in my hand a scroll that God has given to John to give to the churches!” Amazed and excited, they listened as the entire Unveiling of JESUS was read! 

[You have NEVER read The Revelation as it should be read UNLESS you have read it STRAIGHT THROUGH IN ONE SITTING… and WITH THE MIND-SET of those who first heard it read!]

I promise you, that by the time the last ‘AMEN’ of the Revelation was read by the ‘runner’ from John— Well, words cannot capture the joy, the excitement, the hope, the repenting, THE REVIVAL that took place!  

URGENT PLEA: Let us so prayerfully READ, so seek to HEAR and so commit to OBEY the things written in The Revelation— that WE TOO WILL ENTER INTO A NEW DAY OF JOY, EXCITEMENT, HOPE, REPENTING… in other words— GOD SENT REVIVAL! 


THE UNVEILING OF JESUS CHRIST!

The Revelation is the glorious unveiling of Jesus Christ, the Sovereign Lamb of God. The Revelation 'unveils' what Jesus Christ is doing at this present time; what He will be doing in days ahead and the reality of His ultimate intentions.

READ THE REVELATION LOOKING FOR THE SOVEREIGN LAMB OF GOD!
1. Revelation, chapters 1-3 — The Sovereign Lamb is in Heaven working through His BLOOD BOUGHT REDEEMED on earth.

2. Revelation, chapters 4-19 — The Sovereign Lamb is in Heaven ruling and over ruling people and events on earth— KINGS AND KINGDOMS, PRESIDENTS, DICTATORS, and even events of this present hour. JESUS is MOVING THEM ALL toward that great and glorious day when He, the Lord Jesus Christ, will come back to this earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords! In the midst of all these events THE REDEEMED, [Be they Church saints and/or tribulation saints], EXPERIENCE THE WRATH OF MEN AND SATAN, BUT NEVER THE WRATH OF GOD.
3. Revelation, chapters 20-22— THE SOVEREIGN LAMB IS ETERNALLY enthroned and His holy Bride will be with Him in the New Earth and the New Heavens.NEVER FORGET IT: THE SUPREME, ULTIMATE GOAL OF ALL HISTORY IS A REDEEMED BRIDE FOR JESUS, COMPRISED OF THOSE REDEEMED BY THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB FROM ALL ERAS OF TIME.

READ THE REVELATION LOOKING FOR THOSE REDEEMED BY CHRIST!

1. Revelation, chapters 1-20— Those redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, GOD’S ELECT, Those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ— ALL through the Book of Revelation, those redeemed by the blood of the LAMB are seen on earth, moving through struggles and tribulations and martyrdom; and they are seen IN HEAVEN.

WHILE ON EARTH THE REDEEMED ARE the subject of man’s HATRED AND WRATH and Satan’s hatred and wrath. THEY ARE OFTEN PRESENT WHEN GOD POURS OUT SOME EXPRESSION OF HIS WRATH— AS WAS NOAH; AS WAS ISRAEL ON THE NIGHT OF PASSOVER; AS WAS LOT. BUT ALTHOUGH AFFECTED, THEY ARE PROTECTED AND NEVER THE SUBJECTS OF GOD'S WRATH.

2. Revelation, chapters 21-22— ULTIMATELY, OUR LORD’S REDEEMED ON EARTH become the Church completely triumphant in Heaven, the Bride adorned for Her Heavenly Husband, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Revelation has ESPECIALLY been given to encourage the true SAINTS OF GOD IN CHRIST who have always BEEN and WHO ALWAYS will be persecuted. Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulations, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33The Revelation could well be called Jesus’ commentary on John 16:33! The early Christians were being killed by the thousands.

And the Revelation came to them with a very powerful message: The Lamb is the Lion! He is supreme! He is sovereign and He is sufficient.

So it is no surprise that the Revelation is a book filled with praise songs exalting the Conquering Christ! Every line in the Revelation and every song in the Revelation encourages the Redeemed and reminds Christians of every age that God will have the last say! No matter what seems to be happening in the world—JESUS is supreme! He is sovereign and He is sufficient. MOREOVER, the Revelation is a reminder that joy is not the absence of suffering but the presence of God and confidence in God IN THE MIDST OF THE MOST TRYING OF CIRCUMSTANCES.

AGAIN, THE CHRISTIANS WHO FIRST READ THE REVELATION WERE BEING MARTYRED BY THE THOUSANDS. Certainly, they were a part of the New Testament Church. In the future, there may or may not be, but certainly there was no ESCAPE FROM TRIBULATION 'RAPTURE' FOR THEM OR FOR PERESECUTED SAINTS FOR THE LAST 2000 YEARS!

Instead, for 2000 years the Revelation SHOUTS, "BE THOU FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH; AND I WILL GIVE THEE THE CROWN OF LIFE;" AND LO0K AT THE GLORY THAT’S COMING! The Revelation gives needed re-assurance that Jesus is SUPREME, SOVERIGN AND SUFFICIENT. HERE IN 2014, couldn’t we use some of that same reassurance?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

An Open Invitation to "A Study on Church Polity."

You are cordially invited to this year's annual doctrinal teaching hosted by Pleasant Hill Baptist church. Each year PHBC offers a time of teaching from pastors on different topics. This year's  topic is concerning "Church Polity." This event is free and open to all.

When: Saturday, March 16th beginning at 9:45 a.m.
Where: Pleasant Hill Baptist Church
            3049 Pleasant Hill Church Road
            Orlinda, TN 37141
             (615)654-3335


The speakers this year will be:
Pastor Steve Hussung (Rich Pond Baptist, Bowling Green, KY):
 "Elders and History: Biblical and Church"

Pastor James Bell (Southside Baptist, Gallatin, TN):
"Elders and Deacons: Serving Together"

Pastor Brett Beasley (Second Baptist, W. Frankfort, IL)
"Elders and Congregationalism"

**There will be Q&A session after each speaker.
**Lunch will be provided by PHBC.

Monday, February 17, 2014

"Godly Sorrow vs. Worldly Sorrow"

A paper contrasting the difference between biblical repentance and the false teaching of penance.
Click the link below to read.

"Godly Sorrow vs. Worldly Sorrow"

Let me know your thoughts. Agree or disagree?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"Burn Out! Depression! Mental Illness! (pt.1)"

This article is from Pastor James Bell. Pastor Bell has served SouthSide Baptist church in Gallatin, TN for 38 years. I found this article a great blessing to me, especially in my pursuit in becoming a biblical counselor for the glory of God. I pray it would help you better understand the issue with mental illness and how the gospel is able to cure and give hope to the hopeless.

BURN OUT! Depression! Mental Illness! part 1
A growing number of evangelical pastors and Christian leaders are in agreement that depression and suicide are usually the result of mental illness and have little or no connection to faith, beliefs, personal choices, or behavior.
In this article, we purposely leave out several names and locations because we want to search for truth apart from personalities and apart from specific people, families, and churches who have recently been in the midst of deep emotional trauma. Please measure all the quotes and comments made by the plumb line of the Word of God!

I. Pastors/Church Leaders: Mental Illness is the root cause of depression/suicide …


1. “Depression is not a moral flaw, a character weakness, a lapse in faith, or an excuse. It is an illness...”
2. "____________, pastor of ________________ Baptist Church in ____________, was the exception. He told his congregation he was in treatment several months before his suicide. ____________, worship pastor at the church, said he only now understands depression is a mental illness.”
3. A Counselor of pastors reports, “I was rock-bottom, felt that I couldn't take it anymore, and had contemplated taking my life on several occasions…
I was suffering from ‘depression,’ a common form of mental illness… Only absolute perfect spirituality – without a single lapse – could ever make one immune to an emotional break-down… It's not a sin to be emotionally ill.”
4. “During ____________'s tenure at __________Church, [it] became one of the fastest-growing churches in ______________. However, he resigned as pastor…after admitting to an affair. __________, his wife…, filed a domestic-violence petition against___________ shortly after the admission, describing him as "unstable, erratic and suicidal." [He recently committed suicide.]
5. A different pastor who committed suicide: “A member of the church, described his pastor as a very caring, upbeat guy that cared for people, especially with the kids. He was a good man who inspired… and showed no signs of trouble financially or otherwise.
However, his family revealed that____________ suffered from manic depression and was on medication. [A friend confirmed that]Pastor____________ had struggled with manic depression and had emotional issues, and had sought treatment.”
*** Dr. Richard Land, (a respected, conservative Southern Baptist), in an interview with The Christian Post, said of a pastor who committed suicide:
"My friend was sick. He was the most kind, loving, humble, most genuine, loyal person I've ever met in my life and he was sick. He had a sickness and that's it. He had a sickness just like somebody who had cancer and it was a sickness that was beyond his control," he said. "This is a diagnosable, physiological, neurological condition. It is not an emotional state. It is a physical mental illness."

*** Ed Stetzer, (another respected, conservative Southern Baptist), in a special article for CNN addressed the question of Mental illness and gave 4 bullet points of action for churches: “Mental illness is incredibly destructive… So, what can we do as people of faith to address issues of mental illness
1. Churches need to stop hiding mental illness. 
2. The congregation should be a safe place for those who struggle.
3. We should not be afraid of medicine. … Counseling will naturally be a part of treatment. But if we are not afraid to put a cast on a broken bone, then why are we ashamed of a balanced plan to treat mental illness that might includemedication to stabilize possible chemical imbalances?
Christians get cancer, and they deal with mental illness. We’ve long seen the value in the medical treatment of cancer. It’s time for Christians to affirm the value of medical treatment for mental illness as well.
4. We need to end the shame.
Mental illness has nothing to do with you or your family’s beliefs…”

*** ALARMING statistics about pastors:  “Members of
the clergy now suffer from obesity,
hypertension, and depression at rates higher than most
Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants
has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen...”
40% of pastors and 47% of spouses are suffering from burnout, frantic schedules, and/or unrealistic expectations.
45% of pastors’ wives say the greatest danger to them and their family is physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual burnout.
45% of pastors say that they’ve experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence from ministry.
75% report severe stress causing anguish, worry, bewilderment, anger, depression, fear, and alienation.
1,500 pastors leave their ministries each month due to
burnout, conflict, or moral failure.

RESPONSE: Sadly, pastors are in the forefront of those who are failing to win the battle against depression.
[Just so you will know— this article is not written from a painless ‘ivory tower!’ I had many a secret but serious battle with depression and suicide in teen years; and for the last 45 years as a full time pastor I have had my own battles and tendencies— not made easier in seasons when the Church environment was, shall we just say, less than loving!] 
REALITY: The evidence is strong— many pastors and denominational leaders are in agreement that, generally, emotional/mental ‘break-downs’ are the result of the ‘sickness’ of mental illness;
AND THAT generally such ‘sick’ folks are no more responsible for these SICKNESSES than they would be for ‘catching’ the flu;
AND THAT such sick ones should avail themselves to psychological counseling and quite possibly to prescription drugs;
AND THAT such sick ones need an affirming, loving Church environment where their BEHAVIOR will not be examined for any possible sin or belief connections.
[It is worthy of note that several of the pastors who have committed suicide in the last few years were going to counseling and were taking prescription drugs.]
SAD REALITY: In all that I read from the pastors and church leaders I found NO GOSPEL.
I ALSO FOUND that anyone who does not ‘buy’ the teaching that depression is fundamentally only a ‘sickness’ in the same way as FLU is a sickness— such ones are basically CONSIDERED to be ignorant of the ‘truth’ of modern science and they are UNLOVING.
HOWEVER, as I continued to research I also discovered that there are growing numbers of Psychiatrists who do not agree with the pastors/church leaders!

II. Disorders are not a “Disease”

Yes, I know that there are many psychiatrists who would agree with the pastors. Indeed, such ones have successfully sold their unproven, non-scientific theories to the pastors and the multitudes!
As a result, on any given Sunday, from the pulpit to the back pew— many are relying on prescription drugs to handle life. Nevertheless, there is a growing voice from psychiatrists who are deeply alarmed and they are ‘blowing the whistle!’

Psychiatrists/Physicians admit—
Disorders are not a “Disease!” 

1. “No behavior or misbehavior is a disease or can be a disease. That’s not what diseases are. Diseases are malfunctions of the human body, of the heart, the liver, the kidney, the brain. Typhoid fever is a disease. Spring fever is not a disease; it is a figure of speech, a metaphoric disease. All mental diseases are metaphoric diseases, misrepresented as real diseases and mistaken for real diseases.”  “There is no blood or other biological test to ascertain the presence or absence of a mental illness, as there is for most bodily diseases. If such a test were developed … then the condition would cease to be a mental illness and would be classified, instead, as a symptom of a bodily disease.” — Dr. Thomas Szasz, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, New York University Medical School, Syracuse
2. “There are no objective tests in psychiatry- no X-ray, laboratory, or exam finding that says definitively that someone does or does not have a mental disorder.” “there is no definition of a mental disorder.” “It’s bull—. I mean, you just can’t define it.” — Allen Frances, Psychiatrist and former DSM-IV Task Force Chairman
3. “Virtually anyone at any given time can meet the criteria for bipolar disorder or ADHD. Anyone. And the problem is everyone diagnosed with even one of these ‘illnesses’ triggers the pill dispenser.” — Dr. Stefan Kruszewski, Psychiatrist
4. “Despite more than two hundred years of intensive research, no commonly diagnosed psychiatric disorders have proven to be either genetic or biological in origin, including schizophrenia, major depression, manic-depressive disorder, the various anxiety disorders, and childhood disorders such as attention-deficit hyperactivity. At present there are no known biochemical imbalances in the brain of typical psychiatric patients— until they are given psychiatric drugs.” — Peter Breggin, Psychiatrist
5. While “there has been no shortage of alleged biochemical explanations for psychiatric conditions… not one has been proven. Quite the contrary. In every instance where such an imbalance was thought to have been found, it was later proven false.” “No claim for a gene for a psychiatric condition has stood the test of time, in spite of popular misinformation.” — Dr. Joseph Glenmullen, Harvard Medical School psychiatrist
6. “We do not have an independent, valid test for ADHD, and there are no data to indicate ADHD is due to a brain malfunction.” — Final statement of the panel from the National Institutes of Health Consensus Conference on ADHD
7. “The way things get into the DSM is not based on blood test or brain scan or physical findings. It’s based on descriptions of behavior. And that’s what the whole psychiatry system is.” — Dr Colin Ross, Psychiatrist
8. “Psychiatry has never been driven by science. They have no biological or genetic basis for these illnesses and the National Institutes of Mental Health are totally committed to the pharmacological line. … There is a great deal of scientific evidence that stimulants cause brain damage with long-term use, yet there is no evidence that these mental illnesses, such as ADHD, exist.”  “In reality, psychiatric diagnosing is a kind of spiritual profiling that can destroy lives and frequently does.” — Peter Breggin, Psychiatrist
9. “There’s no biological imbalance. When people come to me and they say, ‘I have a biochemical imbalance,’ I say, ‘Show me your lab tests.’ There are no lab tests. So what’s the biochemical imbalance?” — Dr. Ron Leifer, Psychiatrist
10. “In short, the whole business of creating psychiatric categories of ‘disease,’ formalizing them with consensus, and subsequently ascribing diagnostic codes to them, which in turn leads to their use for insurance billing, is nothing but an extended racket furnishing psychiatry a pseudo-scientific aura. The perpetrators are, of course, feeding at the public trough.”— Dr. Thomas Dorman, internist and member of the Royal College of Physicians of the UK
 11. “No biochemical, neurological, or genetic markers have been found for Attention Deficit Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Depression, Schizophrenia, anxiety, compulsive alcohol and drug abuse, overeating, gambling or any other so-called mental illness, disease, or disorder.” — Bruce Levine, Ph.D., psychologist and author of Commonsense Rebellion
12. “Unlike medical diagnoses that convey a probable cause, appropriate treatment and likely prognosis, the disorders listed in DSM-IV [and ICD-10] are terms arrived at through peer consensus.— Tana Dineen Ph.D., psychologist
13. “Psychiatry’s claim that mental illnesses are brain diseases is “a claim supposedly based on recent discoveries in neuroscience, made possible by [brain]imaging techniques for diagnosis and pharmacological agents for treatment. This is not true.” —Dr. Thomas Szasz, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, New York University Medical School,
The above sampling of quotes from psychiatrists are quite revealing— especially in the light of the dogmatic statements from highly respected preachers:
*** Dr. Land: "This [depression/suicide] is a diagnosable, physiological, neurological condition. It is not an emotional state. It is a physical mental illness."—
*** Dr. Stetzer: “… if we are not afraid to put a cast on a broken bone, then why are we ashamed of a balanced plan to treat mental illness that might include medication to stabilize possible chemical imbalances? Christians get cancer, and they deal with mental illness. We’ve long seen the value in the medical treatment of cancer. It’s time for Christians to affirm the value of medical treatment for mental illness as well… Mental illness has nothing to do with you or your family’s beliefs…”
RESPONSE: Yes, multitudes have already ‘bought’ the counsel set forth by pastors and other Christian leaders.
These pastors and Christian leaders are promoting mere psychological theories- not science!
Most tragic of all is that NOT ONE OF THEM zeroed in on
the power of the gospel of Christ to give spiritual backbone to
saints in the midst of deep trials. They voted for an approach
laced with mind changing, life altering drugs which create more
slaves, zombies, and suicides than they do positive deliverance.

QUESTION: Is there no longer any place for a Biblical faith? Is there no longer a place for the GOSPEL of God which EMPOWERS saints to win over even the deadliest of mental/emotional/spiritual sins and demons; and/or over the mysterious trials of life?
III. FOR 2000+ YEARS — LONG BEFORE THE PSYCHOLOGIZERS CAME ALONG — THE GOSPEL WAS AND IS POWERFUL AND TRANSFORMING!

Charles H. Spurgeon told his students, "Fits of depression come over the most of us. Usually cheerful as we may be, we must at intervals be cast down. The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyous not always happy." Yes, he rightly understood that depression is not necessarily traceable to personal sin. He wrote, "Spiritual darkness of any sort is to be avoided, and not desired."  
But he also wrote, "I note that some whom I greatly love and esteem, who are, in my judgment, among the very choicest of God’s people, nevertheless, travel most of the way to heaven by night."
In Lectures to my Students, Spurgeon set forth reasons believers fall into discouragement or sadness and he offered Biblically based hope for those so overtaken.
[COMMENT: INDEED, in a fallen world, there are many ‘SPIRITUAL NIGHTS!’ 
Job had a few!! And we know that they were not rooted in any sin in his life.However, to win those battles he needed communion with God and to be teachable in the presence of God. He did not need humanistic Christian or secular counseling and/or drugs.
Be it Job, or Elijah, or Jonah, or Jeremiah— the solution to depression was found in FELLOWSHIP with and in humility before God.
Cain, who was angry and depressed— his problem WAS A SIN problem. He rejected repentance and things got worse! (Gen. 4:5-7) The Prodigal son had a sin problem. He repented, and things got exceedingly better, to put it mildly, Luke 15:11-24.]
Being well taught in the Word and ways of God, Spurgeon was clear that SUFFERING is a normal part of life in a fallen world:
"Even under the economy of redemption it is most clear that we are to endure infirmities, otherwise there were no need of the promised Spirit to help us in them. It is of need be that we are sometimes in heaviness. Good men are promisedtribulation in this world." Moreover, Spurgeon knew that one of the benefits of our various sufferings is that we "may learn sympathy with the Lord’s suffering people."
As we know, God moved the Apostle Paul’s pen to tell us that God "comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."(2 Corinthians 1:4)
THEREFORE, LET US ONE AND ALL: 1. Go to God. 2. Receive comfort. 3. Become a comforter!
Spurgeon had to deal with very severe physical pain from gout. It is known that he might be WEEKS AT A TIME in bed agonizing with excruciating pain.
On one such occasion he wrote the church family he served, "I have been brought very low… My flesh has been tortured with pain and my spirit has beenprostrate with depression. . . With some difficulty I write these lines in my bed, mingling them with the groans of pain and the songs of hope."
NOTICE: His testimony is encouraging and faith building. He had severe physical sufferings and he had ‘dark nights of the soul’ or depression/burnout. IN THE MIDST of the darkness and groaning he looked to the LORD and PRAISED HIM, regardless.
Thus, he was NEVER CONSUMED or destroyed by the pain, the depression, or the trials. 
Moreover, he did not allow these ‘circumstances and situations’ to become EXCUSES— not for himself nor for his students. To the students he said,
"These infirmities may be no detriment to a man’s career of special usefulness," "They may even have been imposed upon him by divine wisdom as necessary qualifications for his peculiar course of service. Some plants owe their medicinal qualities to the marsh in which they grow; others to the shades in which alone they flourish."
[COMMENT: In recent times as I looked back upon the difficult, painful circumstances of my youth — to which my responses in those days flung me into deep dungeons of depression, rage, and more — those times ultimately proved to be the best training for God’s calling upon my life. This reality astounds me.
DON’T MISS this awesome word and poem found on Joni Eareckson Tada’s website:
LET US NOT UNDER ESTIMATE PRACTICAL HELPS! IN SPURGEON’S CASE, he needed to learn to give his physical body rest.
WEEKLY: He often  preached ten times a week, answered a multitude of letters, taught in the pastor training school, administered an orphanage, did personal counseling, wrote for publications, entertained guests at his home, shepherded a church plus his own family; and ministered to his bedridden wife!! Thankfully, the church finally insisted on him taking vacations.
Thus, Spurgeon wisely taught his students,
"The bow cannot be always bent without fear of breaking. Repose is as needful to the mind as sleep to the body. . . Rest time is not waste time. It is economy to gather fresh strength."
On October 19, 1856, when Spurgeon was only 22 years old, he was preaching for the first time in the Surrey Gardens Music Hall in London. Literally thousands had gathered. Suddenly FIRE broke out. Seven people were killed and many injured. Spurgeon wrote,
"I was pressed beyond measure and out of bounds with an enormous weight of misery. The tumult, the panic, the deaths were day and night before me, and made life a burden."
AGAIN, BAD THINGS happen in a fallen world. The crushing blows can be beyond words. As to Spurgeon, because he was a man in Christ who would always turn to Christ for refuge, he was able to give testimony of HOPE:
"The fact that Jesus is still great, let his servants suffer as they may,piloted me back to calm reason and peace. Should so terrible a calamity overtake any of my brethren, let them both patiently hope and quietly wait for the salvation of God."
"The lesson from wisdom is, be not dismayed by soul-trouble."
YES, the circumstances of life can be as varied as the seasons of a year. Over them or other people we generally have no control.
We have various temperaments/personalities, as well as various physical ailments and/or limitations; along with emotional scars.
We have consequences from our own failings.
And sometimes, along come ‘mysteries’… situations and stuff which we do not understand.
Then there is the significant issue of the maturity of our faith.
And what of the ‘trying of our faith’ which is much more precious than the ‘trying’ of gold!!?
Spurgeon said,
“Any simpleton can follow the narrow path in the light: faith’s rare wisdom enables us to march on in the dark with infallible accuracy, since she places her hand in that of her Great Guide.
Bottom line: In responding to mysteries, failures, trials, troubles, tribulations, and dark nights of the soul— many are ready to excuse all manner of behaviors and point us to drugs.
Their message is popular and pleases the masses— but it leaves you without hope and deliverance.
I am thankful for C. H. Spurgeon modeling the freeing power of the GOSPEL. Let us follow, as he followed the LORD!  (Article, TO BE CONTINUED)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"The Tale of Two Deceivers"

We have all been victims of deception, whether it be from someone lying, stealing, or just being deceitful to us. Nonetheless, these types of actions can often leave us bitter and angry at that person or persons if it's not repented of and left with God (Heb.10:30). This is what we read in Genesis 30-31-- a tale of two deceivers.

Jacob's desire was to marry Rachel.  Instead, he was tricked into having children with Leah. As you read through chapter 30-31, Jacob ends up with 12 sons by 4 different women (Bilhah, Zilpah, Leah, and Rachel). Being the "deceiver," Jacob bargained with Laban to leave his presence only to shepherd his flock, allowing him to choose the livestock for himself. Thus, Jacob ended up with the best of Laban's flock and his two daughters. Genesis 31:20 says, "And Jacob tricked Laban the Aramean, by not telling him that he intended to flee."

Laban was just as much a deceiver or liar as Jacob was by making him serve him 20 years rather then 7 years for his daughter. Laban becomes drastically upset after Jacob flees and takes his daughters, livestock, and the household gods. Although Jacob was unaware of the household gods being stolen, it was Rachel who had stolen them. Not only were Jacob and Laban great deceivers, but even Rachel had shown her heart by being deceitful and a thief as well. 

However, in Genesis 32:36-42, Laban comes searching for his household gods and livestock. Jacob ends up having a heated discussion with Laban over the matter. Jacob is upset (Gen.31:36) by Laban imposing himself upon Jacob and his family, searching for his stolen gods that Jacob knew nothing about. Jacob pleas before Laban and reminds him he had faithfully served him, yet he was treated with disrespect and contempt.

After pleading his case before Laban, Jacob shares some insight we do not see from Laban or any other character in this narrative. Jacob tells Laban, "If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Issac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty handed. God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands and rebuked you last night."

In other words, God took a desperate situation (by man's eyes) filled with people's personal sin and brought about good for Jacob and glory to Himself. By the way, the Scripture is filled with narratives just like this one. Examples we see throughout Scriptures include Genesis 22 (Abraham and Issac), Genesis 50 (Joseph and his brothers), and Exodus 12 (Moses and children of Israel). But, most notably is the story of Jesus Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. Sinful man looked at the situation as one of desperation and hopelessness for this man who claimed to be God in the flesh, lived a perfect life, and unable to save Himself. Yet, on the third day, He rose from the tomb and conquered death, hell, and the grave, making satisfaction for all those who would believe upon Him.

What we can glean from Genesis 30-31 is: no matter how desperate you think your situation is; no matter who has tricked, deceived, or wronged you, God knows. He sees your affliction, your hurt, and disgust.  Flee to Him.  Seek Him, and He will comfort.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

"A Prayerful Plea to Know and Do God's Will"

This was my prayer for myself and the body of Christ at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church this morning:

Read and meditate on Colossians 1:9-14. 

“A Prayer for Pleasing God and Obeying God’s Will”
Just some devotional thoughts from this moorings' meditation. I pray this would be a blessing to you this morning.

The outcome for the child of God who seeks to know and do the will of God in their life. As you seek the will of the Lord through His Word "knowledge and obedience" (v.9) you will produce fruit. So, what are you producing in your life?

1) You will bear fruit in every good work; increasing in good deeds for other people (v.10)
2) You will be increasing the knowledge of God (v.9
3) You will be strengthened with all power; you will get stronger in endurance (circumstances) and patient (with difficult people) with joy. I don’t run from difficult people, rather we love them more with joy. (v.11)
4) You will give thanks to the Father for the glorious gospel, which saved you and caused you to now seek His will and obey His Word. Therefore,  you will increase in being thankful for the gospel(v.12).

How’s it going? Are bearing fruit in serving others?
How’s it going? Are you learning more of Him?
How’s it going? Are you being strengthened by enduring difficult circumstances? Are you bearing in patience with joy?
How’s it going? Are you increasing in your thankfulness to the Lord for the gospel of Christ?