Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Year in Review

And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”  (Job 1:21, ESV)

We continue to pray asking God to give us a baby who will live to be born; one that we can raise, like we are doing with the first seven He has blessed us with.  I’m another year older, and hopefully another year more mature in the Lord and learning to trust Him completely.  This year I’ve wondered what He’s doing many times.  Yet, what other choice do I have other than to trust Him?  I read a helpful book this year that God gave me just before facing another trial.  It is called Trusting God:  Even When Life Hurts by Jerry Bridges.

Probably the biggest news in our lives for 2010 is that God blessed us with a church.  But before I get to that, let me fill in the back story.  At the end of last year, great frustration had set in.  We longed to be back in Texas.  There was a small IVR company, owned by a former colleague of mine.  I spent two days on site looking at their systems.  I sat through several weeks of webcast training in the evenings.  I heard nothing but compliments on my past experience.  Although we never did discuss salary and benefits and such, I had several verbal promises that he was going to bring me onto the team “next month.”  The agreement was that I could work anywhere I wanted.  So the plan was that I would work from home in Oklahoma, put the house on the market, then when it sold we’d move out to some land in Texas, close enough to drive into Dallas on Sunday morning to attend Dallas Reformed Baptist Church, but far enough out to have some acreage and some animals.  To this day that company has not told me “no.”  I’m sure if I sent off another email to him, I'd receive the same response of, “We’re almost ready…probably next month…don’t worry, we’ll call you.”  Now, I don’t know my friend’s company’s financials.  Maybe they just don’t have the work for me right now (or all last year).  But for whatever reason I believe the Lord has intervened and kept us here in spite of a willing(?) employer and certainly a willing employee.  2009 had been extremely stressful in terms of church.  I don’t want to disparage any of the families with which we formerly worshiped, as we continue to see most of them today and I consider them to be brothers and sisters in the Lord.  Yet there were reasons that God was calling us out of that assembly and to a place where my family would be under the care of church elders.  In any case, as we ended 2009 we were visiting churches.  There are several good churches in the Oklahoma City area.  Yet we didn’t seem to “click” in the places we tried.  I still have a conviction on family integrated worship.  Many of the very good churches still had age segregated Sunday School.  Because my friend Robert had joined Stillwater Presbyterian, we visited there for several weeks.  I read several books on believer’s baptism and infant baptism.  I value that time of study as it opened my eyes as to some of the reasons why Reformed Presbyterians baptize their children.  Although I was not convinced to the point of changing the views I have held throughout my Christian life, I read some very convincing arguments with John Calvin’s views being perhaps the strongest out of his Institutes of the Christian Religion.  At the end of the day my believer’s baptism views had not changed, so I continued to seek a church for our family.  For several weeks we attended Classen Road Baptist Church in Norman.  This was quite a drive for us.  But the pastor there, Julian Horner, was one of the most humble guys I had ever met.  His preaching was very good.  Like the other churches in the area they had an age segregated Sunday School.  However, we were never made to feel bad for keeping our children with us in the adult class.  We made several friendships there, including a dear brother named Rick Cortez.  He led the music there and would often sing directly from the scripture.  Though I don’t get to be with either of these brothers much anymore, I still hold them in high esteem.  Unfortunately as I was considering joining this church, the church crumbled from within and disbanded.  So our search continued.  In all our searching, the church that I kept considering was Northwest Bible Church.  Again, this is another strong, doctrinally sound church in the Oklahoma City area.  Pastor Alan Conner is an excellent teacher and he became a friend as well.  However, I just never quite felt like this was the place God wanted us.  They did have a strong youth program with Sunday School classes for all the children.  That very well could have been part of my uneasiness.  Family integrated worship is a strong conviction of mine.  If you do not share this conviction, please don’t let these comments dissuade you in any way from visiting Northwest Bible.  I have great regard for Pastor Conner, and I pray the Lord’s blessing upon Northwest Bible Church.

One day at work, Robert Graham leaned over from the next cube and asked me, “Have you seen this church?”  He had GracePointe Baptist Church’s website up on his computer.  Robert was still very much involved at Stillwater, but he knew I was looking for a Reformed Baptist church.  I brought the website up on my computer (http://www.gracepointeonline.com/), downloaded a couple of sermons, and read over the beliefs and some of Pastor Jeff Brown’s blog articles.  Everything looked good, so we decided to visit the following Sunday.  Paton was sick that morning so Sheri stayed home with him.  We got there in time for Sunday School.  The pastor’s wife, Cendy, greeted us in the parking lot.  At that point they still had children’s classes.  However, I think there were fewer children in the church than we had in our family.  So I came in with my six (who were with me) children and sat down at the tables in the fellowship hall.  One thing that I thought was a bit strange was that several people had laptops.  I would find out later that most of the families use Logos Bible Software.  Everyone was very friendly.  The teaching was good.  This was in May.  We visited for five months before joining in October.  During that time, and even since then, we’ve witnessed the church grow with more families.  So that now the children outnumber the adults, I believe.  I found out that the pastor was beginning to have a conviction for family integrated worship as well.  So the presence of our family only helped him to move the church in that direction.  What I see at GracePointe is a family of believers who are serious about their faith.  There are men who discuss the things of God.  There are a couple of guys who go out and do street preaching down at Bricktown and sometimes at Oklahoma University.  And yes, there’s a large contingent of Logos users, of which I have “joined the club.”  I bought Logos in June and have really enjoyed it ever since.  When we first came, GracePointe had pews in the sanctuary.  Those have since been replaced by nice chairs and the white plastic tables that used to be in the fellowship hall.  There are power supplies mounted to each table so that members and visitors can plug in their laptops.  I take notes directly on the computer.  We have formed some very good friendships during our time at GracePointe.  The pastor’s family lives closest to us.  So we’ve gotten together with them more frequently than we have with the other families, although we really want to make a point to have each family over.  So as we come to the end of 2010, I’m happy to say that we are established in a local church with a legitimate, ordained pastor.  GracePointe is in the Southern Baptist Convention, and we are part of the Founders ministry.

I mentioned already the Logos purchase.  There’s another purchase I made this year which I have enjoyed immensely.  I bought a Kindle DX.  I have loaded it up with a lot of theological works.  I have the ESV Study Bible on it, along with McCheyne’s reading plan.  It rests nicely up on the treadmill as I walk each weekday morning.  In that manner I easily read my Bible chapters for the day while getting in a workout.  I’m also constantly finding books offered for free from Amazon.  Often these books are only free for a short time.  That’s how I got Jerry Bridge’s book that I mentioned earlier.  God in His timing provided that book just a few days before I would really need it.  For his birthday, we bought Justin one of the new wifi Kindles.  So now he can share all of my books on it at no additional cost.

There are so many things that have gone on this year.  Judging from the number of blog entries I’ve made you may not think so.  But the smaller number of entries is most likely related to the shorter amount of time.  In July we attended Vision Forum’s Baby Conference.  We enjoyed that very much, and we picked up the recordings so we can review what we learned there.

I also saw my friend Robert unjustly removed from his position at work.  We are contractors, and our contracting company was very helpful to him as they did not at all agree with the way this was handled.  I’ll not name names here.  However, our company assisted him in finding a position in another state with our same company.  What’s even better for him is that they are allowing him to work from home and continue to live in Oklahoma or wherever else he would like to live.  So this is another classic case of what the customer meant for evil, God has used for good and allowed him to remained employed, and work from home in the presence of his family (and new little baby!).  I miss him, though, as I continue to drive to the same office every day.

Finally, in October 2010, I started AnswerSoft. (www.answersoft.net)  Thanks to a lead from my pastor Jeff, who also owns On-Call Computer Services, I discovered Ifbyphone. (www.ifbyphone.com)  As most of my background has been in IVR development and call center technology, I saw this as a great opportunity to pursue a long time dream of mine, self-employment.  AnswerSoft is an official reseller for Ifbyphone.  I can save my customers money over what they would pay if they enrolled at Ifbyphone directly.  Additionally, I am also available to make any custom changes they need for their systems.  Ifbyphone technology makes sophisticated phone switch applications, like call center queuing, IVR, voice recognition, voice broadcasting, voice mail, call recording, and much more, available to the small business owner as well as larger corporations.  In this past this technology was very expensive.  So only large corporations could afford these systems.  Ifbyphone provides all of these services “in the cloud” and charges a modest monthly fee, bringing these very helpful technologies into the reach of the small business owner.  Jeff Brown has told me how much time and money his phone system has saved him.  One of my goals for 2011 is to bring AnswerSoft to a level of profitability so that I will be able to devote my full time working hours to AnswerSoft.  One of the exciting new applications I am working on is an accounts receivable collections application.  Using this application small businesses can set their phone system up to automatically make those undesirable calls, “reminding” their customers that they need to pay what they agreed to pay.  This is certainly a win-win application that is sure to save your company a load of time and money.

2011 looks to be another eventful year.  Brittney will be our first homeschool graduate.  Pray for her as she enters a new stage of her life.  I want to support her desire to develop her leatherworking skills.  She has been a great help to her mother.  I expect that that will continue as she contributes to the smooth running of our household until such time as God provides her a husband.

I thank the Lord for a good 2010.  I must say it has been much more enjoyable than 2009.  I pray that God’s will and His glory will reign supreme in 2011.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Quote from "Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts" by Gerald Bridges and Jerry Bridges

"We don't deserve one bit of God's goodness to us.  I once heard a speaker say, 'Anything this side of hell is pure grace.'  I know of nothing that will so quickly cut the nerve of a petulant, 'Why did this happen to me?' attitude as a realization of who we are before God, considered in ourselves apart from Christ."

Monday, December 13, 2010

Psalm 130

   “A Song of Ascents. Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities. ” (Psalm 130:title–8, ESV)  

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Why So Quiet?

I looked up and realized that I've not made a single blog entry for the month of November. Compared to 2009, 2010 has been a fairly "low volume" blogging year. No activity doesn't mean I'm sitting on the couch eating bon-bons. :-) Seven children have a way of keeping you on your toes. Besides that, however, take a look at the newest development:

AnswerSoft, Inc.

I've been pouring my evenings after getting the kids in bed into this. I think I've fixed all the broken links on my new site. If you find any please let me know.

I still need to spend a lot more time tweaking the site, adding more worthwhile information, and making it look nicer. Eventually I plan to start an IVR/telecom blog over on AnswerSoft's site.

BTW - If you have a need for a phone system (and what small business doesn't?) check out AnswerSoft. We use ifbyphone technology. AnswerSoft is an official reseller for them. Not only will you save $5/month vs. signing up with ifbyphone directly, but you will also get the personalized service of yours truly customizing your application to fit your needs. I'm also available for more in depth programming work. I use SQL Server 2008 with Visual Studio 2008, C#, .NET.

The "pizza demo" is going to be reworked here in the next week or so to utilize SQL Server technology. I'm excited and I can't wait to help you out with your own particular phone application needs.

Give me a call if I can help you out:
877-891-1836

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

AnswerSoft, Inc.

To see a little of what I've been up to lately, click on the image below.  If it's between the hours of 7:00 AM and 8:00 PM CDT you'll get to hear the phone greeting for my new business venture.  If it's outside of those hours, you'll be transferred to my voice mail box.

I can help with phone automation for your small business.  Click to call me!



Sunday, October 10, 2010

Read the Word in Context

In my morning reading this morning I came to the passage in Phillipians 4:13 that reads, "I can do all things through him who strengthens me."  (from the ESV)  Now I've been around long enough to know that this is a very popular verse.  It was a rallying cry in the "Word of Faith" type churches we used to be associated with.  And why not?  Who wouldn't want to be able to "do all things?"  Indeed, as I read this verse on my Kindle, there is a feature that tracks popular passages that others have highlighted.  This verse has been highlighting 113 times by those Kindle readers who own the ESV Study Bible.  The problem is that when you take this verse out of its immediate context it tends to promote selfishness and an attitude of desiring power, wealth, health, etc.  Quick, who can tell me what the previous verse says (without looking it up)?  Here is verse 12:

"I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need."

Wouldn't you know it, this verse has no recording highlighting.  Verse 11 gives us an even greater clue to the real meaning of verse 13.  "Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content."  The Holy Spirit, through Paul, is instructing us here on the virtue of contentment.  Read these passages again.  Paul is not saying that he has never lacked.  He is simply saying that the Lord has strengthened him through his times of lack and enabled him to be content in the midst of want.

So the next time you are suffering need or want and you are tempted to reach for this verse, remember what it is that God has promised you here.  It's not a magic gift certificate to enable you to "do all things" (walking on water...pulling coins out of the mouths of fish...healing eyes through the smearing of mud).  It is rather, an assurance that God will bear you up and strengthen His own in their times of trouble.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Theatre

When considering the following quote by William Law in regard to the Play House, it takes absolutely no imagination to apply this to the modern motion picture theatre.  Christians, the movie house is no place for God's people!  This quote is from his book entitled, "The Absolute Unlawfulness of the Stage Entertainment," available for free at:
http://www.feedbooks.com/book/3791

"So that one may with the same assurance affirm, that the Play-House, not only when some very profane play is on the stage, but in its daily common Entertainments, is as certainly the House of the Devil, as the Church is the House of God.  For though the Devil be not professedly worshipped by Hymns directed to him, yet most that is there sung is to his service; he is there obeyed and pleased in as certain a manner, as God is worshipped and honoured in the Church." - William Law, The Absolute Unlawfulness of the Stage-Entertainment, 1726

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Exposing the Word of Faith Heresy

Justin Peters will be at GracePointe Baptist Church in Oklahoma City tomorrow through Tuesday of this week.  (September 26-28).  GracePointe is located:


GracePointe Baptist Church
2209 N. Post Road
Oklahoma City, OK 73141


Justin Peters exposes the heretical "Word of Faith" movement, showing the antics of such TV preaches as Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, and so on.  Those who know me know that I came out of this type of church back in 2005.  I know the craziness in this type of movement first hand.  Justin's website is:  http://www.justinpeters.org/

You are all invited.  I'd love to see you there!  (Sunday 11:00, Monday and Tuesday, 6:30 PM)

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Legacy Ministry

This looks to be an excellent ministry.  Certainly some honored spokesmen.


The Legacy Ministry from Dan Romer on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Warren Holliman and His Chair

About three weeks ago we traveled to meet a very special lady from Arkansas.  For safety purposes I won't give you her name, but she is a cousin of mine whom I had never met in person before then.  She and I have carried on email and snail mail correspondence since 1998.  Her great-grandfather, Elijah Holliman and my g-g-g-grandfather, Warren Holliman were brothers and brothers-in-arms fighting for the Confederacy in the 41st Alabama regiment.  Here is Warren's picture:
Warren was born in 1835 and died in 1908.

Sometime, most likely after the war, he built a rocking chair for his young niece, Mary Elizabeth Holliman, Elijah's daughter.

The cousin I told you about is the granddaughter of Mary Elizabeth Holliman.  The chair was passed down in her family, and now it belonged to her.

This lady graciously gave me this rocking chair.  The rockers are missing, and the wicker seat does not look very strong, but this is a priceless treasure fashioned by the hands of my g-g-g-grandfather!
(My dear wife is taking the picture)

We spent about 2 hours at the Burger King on the Cherokee Turnpike.  That was our meeting place as we drove from Guthrie and she drove from Mountain Home, AR.


She showed us a lot of her family tree research that she and I share.  We had a great time and it was a pleasure to meet her after years of correspondence.

And I love the chair!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Empty Things

   “And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. ” (1 Samuel 12:20–21, ESV)

How often do we turn aside after "empty things?"  Empty things can be characterized as anything in this world that does not have eternal significance.  The King James bible calls them "vain things."  John Gill interprets this to mean "idols."  I believe that is a very good interpretation.  For an "idol" in this world is anything that would be the focus of your devoted attention, other than God Himself.

I constantly must teach my children not to dwell on "empty things."  We must be discussing things that matter.  There are some people with whom I can only discuss "empty things" because discussion of deeper things either offends or bores them.  Though you are certain to interact with people like this frequently, make a concerted effort to be in the presence of those who are serving the Lord, rather than the empty things of the world.

It is a time for introspection.  Are you more likely to bring up topics of sports teams, interior design, movies, clothes, or a thousand other meaningless things?  Or are you wont to discuss the things of God, expressing your love and devotion to your creator?  I've heard it said that you should never discuss "politics and religion."  Whoever said that is a mouthpiece of satan.  It is his design to keep you focused on anything but the Lord.

Our time is so short.  Make profitable use of the time you do have by devoting yourself to Christ Jesus' service.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Friday, July 16, 2010

Using Filters in Reporting Services

This is a technical post, but I discovered something very helpful today and I wanted to share it with whomever it may help.  I had a need within Reporting Services 2005 to display a table, and only display a line of text if a particular value populated at least one row of that table.

I didn't want to alter the stored procedure because I don't have permissions for that, and to request it and wait is more trouble than its worth.  So I wanted to handle this within Reporting Services itself.

I tried to use the "Count" function.  However, the Count function only returns the total number of values returned in the dataset.  I wanted to do something like this in the Hidden property of the table row containing my text:
=IIF(Count(Fields!ActionCode.Value=21)>0, False, True)

However, since Count only returns the total about of data it was always returning a false value whether ActionCode equaled 21 or not.

My solution:
I defined another dataset that queried the same stored procedure as my dataset used to populate my table.  However, in this dataset I clicked on the Filters tab.  In that field, I filter the data to only return records where the ActionCode = 21 (In the "Value" field, be sure to specify =21, because simply entering 21 treats it as a string value).

Now, back in the hidden property field I can use the "Count," but I specify the new dataset:
=IIF(Count(Fields!ActionCode,"dsCheckForRemoved")>0, False, True)

Now...since 21 represents a "removed" condition I only get back records in this dataset if that condition exists.

This gives me what I need and I can display that message independent of the other rows in the table.

Hope this helps someone.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Which Kindle?

For months now I've been saving for a Kindle.  However, all this time I was saving for the DX, mainly due to the fact that the DX had a native PDF reader.  A lot of the stuff I like to read is in the public domain and is readily available in PDF format.  This is mostly because they are scanned images of very old books.  Some of these books use the "old English" format where the letter "s" looks like the letter "f."

There are new developments recently announced by Amazon that have caused me to perk up.

First of all, the standard Kindle 2 now includes a native PDF reader on its own.  Plus they've lowered the price to $189!  What a deal:


Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G, 6" Display, White, 3G Works Globally - Latest Generation

They also have a new version of the DX out. And that price has been reduced as well! ($379)

Kindle DX Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G, 9.7" Display, White, 3G Works Globally – 2nd Generation

So, it seems like it's getting harder to choose between the two. The main (only?) advantage of the DX over the standard one now is a bigger screen, and more memory. The standard Kindle holds 1500 books. The DX holds 3500.

The other thing I'm really wanting to do is to access my Logos 4 library from it. I've heard that you can get to it through http://library.logos.com

I've got enough money saved to get the standard Kindle today.  So, should I take the plunge, or hold out for the DX?

Leave a comment with your opinion.  Also...click through the links above to check out the specs at Amazon's site.  If you buy through my link I'll get a small commission.

Thanks!
Mike

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Lord's Day

As we entered the building at GracePointe Baptist Church yesterday, Pastor Jeff  Brown was speaking concerning the Lord's Day.  As we were running a few minutes behind I didn't catch all that he was saying, but I spoke with him after the service and he confirmed what I thought he was saying.  I agree with Pastor Jeff that the Lord's Day is to be kept holy.  The world invents new holidays and loves to put them on the Lord's Day.  Yesterday was Father's Day.  Being a father of seven children, and teaching them the Fifth commandment, which is, Honour your father and your mother, I like Father's Day.  I like to call my own father and express my thankfulness to him for being a good father, particularly when I was growing up.  Yet, the focus yesterday should have been, as it is each Lord's Day, on our Heavenly Father.

It seems strange that the church does not appreciate the sabbath day that the Lord has given us for our own benefit.  Those who bother to celebrate the sabbath at all tend to complain that it is restrictive.  Yet the sabbath day is a picture of our rest in Christ.  I appreciate the way the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith regards the sabbath day:

Chapter 22

Paragraph 8. The sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering their common affairs aforehand, do not only observe a holy rest all day, from their own works, words and thoughts, about their worldly employment and recreations,30 but are also taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.31

30 Isa. 58:13; Neh. 13:15-22
31 Matt. 12:1-13

Brothers, this is a blessing!  Let us abstain from our worldly employments *and* our recreations on this day and spend the "whole time" in the public and private exercises of his worship.

The sabbath is not a legalistic standard by which we can measure our own holiness.  For indeed you do not gain any favour with the Lord by your consistent keeping of the sabbath.  Rather, this is a gift that God has given us.  One day in seven we are allowed rest and the complete devotion to the worship of our Lord without the normal everyday distractions that continually plague us during the rest of the week.

So then, let us earn our living the other six days.  Let us entertain ourselves, if we must, on the other six days.  But let us devote the Lord's Day to Christ Jesus, our glorious redeemer and saviour.  To Him be all glory, honour, and praise.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Win - Win Proposal

How would you like to earn anywhere from 1-25% cash back every time you shop on the internet?  I found a great way to do this.  It's a service called "ebates."  It's free to join and has hundreds of online stores, including my favorite - eBay!

I use this to bid on coins through eBay.  If you get a great deal on your bid, combined with your ebates rebate, you may actually get to buy silver coins at below melt value!

ebates has links to hundreds of other stores besides eBay as well.  You can also receive a $5 referral payment for each person you refer to ebates.  So you see that I do have a vested interest in recommending this to you.  :-)  However, I would never recommend it only because it benefits me.  I have used ebates for quite some time and I'm very pleased with it.  I know you will be pleased with it as well.  Additionally, they are currently running a promotion whereby if I recommend 50 people, they will give me an iPad!  I've been saving for one of those to use with my Logos bible software.  Enroll with my referral link, then refer people from your blog as well.

Here's the link:
http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=SQJZEJ8J0%2Bv8HiHdi0aVHg%3D%3D

Please click through and sign up.  It's totally free and will pay you back when you do your normal shopping that you would do anyway.

Thanks!
Mike

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

GOSPEL SONNETS - Chapter 5 - Section 2

GOSPEL SONNETS
By Ralph Erskine
Chapter 5

SECTION II. - A legal strain of doctrine discovered and discarded.


No wonder Paul the legal spirit curse,
Of fatal errors such a feeding nurse.
He, in Jehovah's great tremendous name,
Condemns perverters of the gospel scheme.
He damn'd the sophist rude, the babbling priest
Would venture to corrupt it in the least;
Yea, curs'd the heavenly angel down to hell
Who, daring, would another gospel tell. (1)
Which crime is charg'd on these that dare dispense
The self-same gospel in another sense.
  Christ is not preach'd in truth but in disguise,
If his bright glory half obscured lies.
When gospel soldiers that divide the word,
Scarce brandish any but the legal sword;
While Christ the Author of the law they press,
More than the End of it for righteousness;
Christ as a Seeker of our service trace,
More than a Giver of enabling grace;
The King commanding holiness they show
More than the Prince exalted to bestow:
Yea, more on Christ the sin-revenger dwell,
Than Christ Redeemer both from sin and hell.
  With legal spade the gospel-field he delves
Who thus drives sinners in unto themselves;
Halving the truth that should be all reveal'd,
The sweetest part of Christ is oft conceal'd.
We bid men turn from sin, but seldom say,
"Behold the Lamb that takes all sin away!"
Christ, by the gospel rightly understood,
Not only treats a peace, but makes it good.
Those suitors therefore of the bride, who hope
By force to drag her with the legal rope,
Nor use the drawing cord of conqu'ring grace,
Pursue with flaming zeal a fruitless chase;
In vain lame doings urge, with solemn awe,
To bribe the fury of the fiery law:
With equal success to the fool that aims
By paper walls to bound devouring flames.
The law's but mock'd by their most graceful deed,
Who wed not first the law-fulfilling Head;
It values neither how they wrought nor wept
Who slight the ark wherein alone 'tis kept.
Yet legalists "Do, Do," with ardour press,
And with prosperous zeal and warm address
Would seem the greatest friends to holiness;
But vainly, could such opposites accord,
Respect the law, and yet reject the Lord.
They shew not Jesus as the way to bliss,
But Judas like, betray him with a kiss
Of boasted works, or mere profession puft,
Law-boasters, proving but law-breakers oft.

(1) Gal. i. 7. 8.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

From the Inside Out

This past Lord's Day I was in a Reformed Baptist church and heard the Hillsong praise and worship song entitled, "From the Inside Out."  Since leaving the charismatic church in 2004/2005 I have primarily attended Reformed congregations where only hymns or psalms were sung.  I spoke to the pastor, and sought his permission to critique this song on my blog.  He revealed to me that there was at least one phrase in this song that he did not appreciate.  His suggestion in performing this critique is that we may find a way to transform this song espousing false doctrine into one which is biblically sound.  My desire is much simpler than that.  I propose that we scrap it, and stick with biblically sound music that has served the church well over the past centuries.

Here are the lyrics which I found freely on the internet.  I think "fair use" should allow me to copy them here for critiquing purposes.  My comments are in red.

A thousand times I've failed
Still your mercy remains
And should I stumble again
Still I'm caught in your grace

The author's point here is that God's mercy and grace is everlasting and continues to forgive us of our sins.  This is true.  However, the danger we must guard ourselves against is an antinomian attitude that our sins do not matter and we may break God's law indiscriminately without any concern of recourse.  Consider this passage from Hebrews 6:


For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
(Hebrews 6:4-6)

So, we should be extremely cautious to have an attitude of, "I can sin the same sin a thousand times over, and I can always count on God's forgiveness."  You may just prove yourself to be reprobate if these thoughts are yours.


Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending, Your glory goes beyond all fame

Is God's "light" the only thing that never fades?  What about His Word?

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
(Isaiah 40:8)
Now, one may claim that God's Word is the "light."  However, this does not seem to be what is referenced in judging from the context of the rest of this song.  The "light" seems to be implied from the first verse as His mercy and grace.


My heart and my soul, I give You control
Consume me from the inside out Lord
Let justice and praise, become my embrace
To love You from the inside out

This was the most troublesome verse to me when I heard this last Lord's Day.  First of all, we do not "give" God control of our heart and our soul.  He draws us to Himself.  To speak of giving Him control is to embrace an Arminian understanding of theology, hardly appropriate for a Reformed Baptist Church.  Secondly, what in the world does "consume me from the inside out Lord" mean?  Usually something that is consuming you from the inside out is a cancer.  It's a bad thing.  In trying to give the benefit of the doubt to this author I tried to think of any passage where consuming a person is referenced.  The best I could come up with is:

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
(John 6:53)
So we are commanded to "consume" Christ.  But nowhere are we taught to pray that He would consume us.  Thirdly, what is the emphasis of this part of the song?  (and it is the main part that is repeated over and over again.)  "I give..."  "Consume me..."  "become my..."  Words such as I, me, or my are tell tell evidence of who this song is really about.  Is it about Christ, or is it about "me?"  "I" seem to be the primary subject in this song.  There is a brief mention of longing for God's justice.  Believe me.  We should be loathe to cry out for God's justice.  I suggest that the author stick with the mercy plea in the first stanza.  God's justice demands hell for all eternity over a single sin.  Praise God that Christ has fulfilled the justice on our behalf.  Lastly, the words of "my embrace" and "love you from the inside out" are syrupy "Jesus is my boyfriend" type of "love songs" that real men would never sing.


Your will above all else, my purpose remains
The art of losing myself in bringing you praise

For someone intent on "losing myself" this author sure spends a lot of time singing about "myself."  

The rest of the lyrics are simply a repeat of what has already been said, typical of the "7-11" style of today's worship music (seven words sang 11 times).

Certainly not all hymns are praiseworthy either.  We must be discerning when we select what we will sing in worship to the Lord.  In critiquing a song such as this one, it becomes clear why some churches embrace exclusive Psalmody.  When only the Psalms are sung, we can be assured that every word is doctrinally sound.

I do not believe that it is necessary to sing only Psalms.  However, if we are singing songs that are outside the infallible Word of God, we must be diligent to make sure that those songs are faithful to the teaching of scripture and consistent with Reformed orthodox doctrine.  What we don't want to do is to bring false doctrine into the meeting of the saints.  We must constantly be on guard against that.  Most of today's music gives us ample "target practice" for critiques such as this one.  In my opinion, it is best left out of worship altogether.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Unbelief Worse Than Sodomy

For the past seven weeks each Lord's Day I am reading a sermon from James Durham (1622-1658) concerning Isaiah 53 to my family.  This is from sermon 7 of Christ Crucified:  The Marrow of the Gospel in 72 Sermons on Isaiah 53.  Speaking on the dangers of unbelief, Mr. Durham declares:

"It thwarts with both the law and the gospel.  It thwarts with the commands of the first table, and so is a greater sin than murder or adultery, nay than sodomy, though these are great, vile and abominable sins.  Which may be thought strange,yet it is true.  It makes the person guilty of it more vile before God, than a pagan Sodomite; the nature of the sin being more heinous, as being against the first table of the law, in both the first and second commands thereof; it being by faith in God, that we make God our God, and worship God in Christ acceptably. Next, it is not only a sin against the law, but a sin against the gospel, and the prime flower (to speak so) of the gospel."

Friend, repent of your wicked sin of unbelief.  Turn your eyes toward Christ and throw yourself on His mercy.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Word From God

Today I have a special treat for you. I received a word from God. It was just as plain as the text you are reading in this blog. To avoid any confusion, I'll let you know that the Word from God is only what is contained in the quotes below. So without further delay hear the Word that God is speaking to His Church. Thus saith the Lord:

"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;"

Isn't that good? Have you heard that before? You should have. It is Hebrews 1:1-2. What God is telling us in this passage is that wherein times past he spoke "new" words of revelation by the mouths of prophets, upon the closing of the canon of scripture the whole of what He has to say to us is contained in the pages of scripture. Jesus Christ is the Word made flesh.

So the next time you hear someone proclaiming that they have a "Word from God," what better come from their lips (or keyboard) next is only the text of scripture, and it needs to be in context (read the rest of Hebrews 1, and I think you'll see that I've not violated context here). Scripture alone is infallible, and is the only way God communicates with us, His beloved people.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tim Challies' Friend of the Blog

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Lighten Up!

Christian, have you ever been accused of being "too serious?" What is usually meant by your peers is that they want you to act as they act, generally flippant, and sometimes downright vulgar. Indeed, the Puritans were accused of this very thing, and those who would follow in their footsteps today meet the same label from a world that eschews anything that takes more thought than what we shall entertain ourselves with at this very moment.

I read the following text yesterday in my Bible reading plan. I noticed that the scripture also implores us to "lighten up." Yet, its meaning is quite different than the normal use of the phrase.

Ephesians 5:4-17 (English Standard Version)

4Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7Therefore do not become partners with them; 8for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9(for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

"Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you."

15Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Abraham Lincoln: Tyrant and Terrorist

Here's a video that tells the truth about the War for Southern Independence, and the lead aggressor opposing Southern freedom.




HT: http://reformedcovenanter.wordpress.com/2009/06/08/abraham-lincoln-tyrant-and-terrorist/

Friday, March 19, 2010

Samuel Davies Travel Mug

"The venerable dead are waiting in my library to entertain me and relieve me from the nonsense of surviving mortals." - Samuel Davies 1723-1761

I love this quote! I am now making it available on a high quality ceramic travel mug. Click here to view the mug and order online.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What Man Hath Joined Together...

...Let not man separate.

Hurrah for the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals for disallowing a lesbian divorce case in the state of Oklahoma. How can you issue a divorce for what was never a legitimate marriage? Legal Counsel Tim Tracey of the Alliance Defense Fund rightly asserted that this was a back door attempt to undermine the marriage amendment of Oklahoma that was passed by 76 percent of the voters.

Here is a link for the One News Now story where I originally read this:

Friday, March 12, 2010

Running to Bethlehem - Reformation21 Blog

Yet another good article on preaching Christ throughout the whole of scripture:

Running to Bethlehem - Reformation21 Blog

Posted using ShareThis

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Psalm 2

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, "Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us." He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, "As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill." I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
(Psalms 2:1-12)

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Matt Chandler on Making the Gospel Explicit

There is a tendency is Christian circles to assume that the Gospel is simply something that we embrace once, then move on to "deeper" things. I enjoyed this video of Matt Chandler where he declares that we must be explicit with the Gospel, not just assume that people, even believers, don't need to hear it.





Saw this through Justin Taylor's blog.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Time

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.
- Isaac Watts

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Isaac Watts, 1707, text of 1709

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God:
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down:
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Two Days of Hands On Homeschooling - For Daddy

We are at the end of the second of two "snow days" that I received off from work. These days have been quite productive. On day 1, I got to work with Paton and Justin on their math. Today, I got to help Brittney dissect a crayfish (or crawdad, as I've taught her to say!). I also managed to pick up a generator at Sam's yesterday morning. I was on my way to the office when my friend and colleague called to tell me that the state offices were closed and I should go home. Well, Sam's wasn't too far out of the way, so after Sheri called to find out they had them, I swung by there and picked one up. It fit completely in the trunk of the Mercury! We recently bought that car from my dad, as it had belonged to my grandfather. Later that afternoon before the really bad sleet began to fall, I made a quick trip to Lowe's to pick up a power transfer switch for the home. So, I spent a couple of hours getting that hooked up today. This was in anticipation of losing power, which we never did. It's a great backup anyway, even if we don't need it during this snow storm. As I write this, the snow is still falling. Looks like we'll be shut in throughout the weekend as well.

Michael is in Texas with Sheri's mom. They rode the train down there. The plan is for them to attend the Ft. Worth Stock Show rodeo tomorrow night. Glad they're having fun. They've got a lot of rain, but at least they're not stranded at home.

Gotta run...homemade pizza's ready... It's great to have a grain mill, a dough mixer, and a wife and daughters that know how to use them.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Oklahoma Legislative Alert

Many of my readers are homeschoolers in Oklahoma. If this includes you, please read the following legislative alert I received from OCHEC.

------

Legislative Alert SB1403

Author Sen. Mary Easley

January 15, 2010

Senator Mary Easley, has pre-filed a bill for the 2010 session that would include the following language into law: "The parent or guardian of a child utilizing other means of education shall provide written notification to the public school district of residence of intent to utilize other means of education prior to the first day of each school year, or within ten (10) days of the beginning of the provision of such other means of education to the student."

OCHEC opposes this bill because, regardless of it's intent, it accomplishes nothing. It is unnecessary and is wasteful of both the parent's and state's time and resources.

Notification will not improve home educated students academically. Studies have consistently shown that there is no correlation between the amount of state regulation of home education and academic success.

Notification will not prevent parents from fraudulently claiming to be home educating their child. Oklahoma's laws regarding truancy and educational neglect have been reviewed and found to be adequate, when enforced. If there are parents willing to incur charges of truancy, they would certainly be willing to file a fraudulent notification. Scofflaws will continue to scoff at laws.

Please contact Senator Easley by telephone, email and/or mail and express your opposition to this bill. This would also be an excellent opportunity to contact your senator and ask that this bill be opposed. Contact information may be found at: www.lsb.state.ok.us .

Once the bill has been assigned to a committee, OCHEC will request that you contact the members of the committee and ask that the bill not be heard.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Small Group Bible Studies
































HT: http://www.extremetheology.com

The Pain of Miscarriage

Here is a very helpful Kevin Swanson - Generations program. I'd encourage you to give it a listen.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Psalm 77

This Psalm was read, expounded, and sung during the Lord's Day meeting today. It really ministered to me.

Psalm 77:1-20 (ESV)
(1) To the choirmaster: according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of Asaph. I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me.
(2) In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted.
(3) When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah
(4) You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
(5) I consider the days of old, the years long ago.
(6) I said, "Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart." Then my spirit made a diligent search:
(7) "Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable?
(8) Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time?
(9) Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?" Selah
(10) Then I said, "I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High."
(11) I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
(12) I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.
(13) Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God?
(14) You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples.
(15) You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
(16) When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid; indeed, the deep trembled.
(17) The clouds poured out water; the skies gave forth thunder; your arrows flashed on every side.
(18) The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lighted up the world; the earth trembled and shook.
(19) Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen.
(20) You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

What E'er My God Ordains is Right

What E'er My God Ordains is Right
Samuel Rodigast, 1675
Tr. by Catherine Winkworth, 1829-1878

1. What e'er my God ordains is right:
Holy his will abideth;

I will be still what e'er he doth,
And follow where he guideth:

He is my God;
Though dark my road,

He holds me that I shall not fall:
Wherefore to him I leave it all.

2. What e'er my God ordains is right:
He never will deceive me;

He leads me by the proper path;
I know he will not leave me:

I take, content,
What he hath sent;

His hand can turn my griefs away,
And patiently I wait his day.

3. What e'er my God ordains is right:
Though now this cup, in drinking,

May bitter seem to my faint heart,
I take it, all unshrinking:

My God is true;
Each morn anew

Sweet comfort yet shall fill my heart,
And pain and sorrow shall depart.

4. What e'er my God ordains is right:
Here shall my stand be taken;

Though sorrow, need, or death be mine,
Yet am I not forsaken;

My Father's care
Is round me there;

He holds me that I shall not fall:
And so to him I leave it all.

AMEN