Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Church that Christ Set Up

Today was a busy day filled with work, “Alien vs Predator: Requiem,” filing an auto claim, and ended with some incredible fellowship. I just arrived home after chilling with some of my best friends. YC’s Mongolian BBQ and a good cigar set the evening’s scene that allowed for the discussions that were held. Our conversation ranged from the imperishable salvation we hold onto because of the powerful hand of God, to the necessity of the local church for Christian people.

Each of us at one point or another had a shaky view of the church at best. It took some immense trials and difficulties for us to discover the Biblical view of what role the local church should have in the lives of the saints.

Back in the day … (not too long ago) … I used to carry my Bible with me EVERYWHERE. I decided recently that that is something I am gonna do again, besides, who wants to encounter an enemy force-sensitive-user without your lightsaber of the Spirit? I certainly don’t! So tonight I brought my laser-sword with me, and it only took us a matter of moments before God’s Word was referenced. Doesn’t God’s Word blow you away at how relevant it is to every aspect of every topic? Amidst the course of our perusals, a text from Hebrews was mentioned that encouraged us greatly:

Hebrews: 10:19-25, “19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (NASB).

Verse 25 was the focal point, but notice the beautiful argument the author of the epistle makes as he leads up to it: “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus…” and “since we have a great priest over the house of God…” These are powerful statements! Whatever follows must truly be important.

The writer is, of course, writing to admonish Jewish Christians not to go on living as though the Old Covenant were in effect because Christ came to establish a new covenant with better promises. There were many Jews who, at one time, professed faith in Christ and were falling away. It was for this reason that the author was specific in his directions to not waver in our confession of faith. Practically speaking, he writes that Christians are to spur one another on to love and good deeds. Included in this are the local gatherings of the church. We are not to stop meeting together as a corporate body. Consider that it was Christ that established the New Covenant, and in this better covenant Christians were to actively participate in the church structure He set up.

One of the immediate benefits I experienced when I began attending the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church was the blessing of a relationship with my elders. They worked at getting to know me, and I them. This experience was what the same author also wrote in 13:17, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you” (NASB). It is presupposed, not only in the book of Hebrews but throughout the New Testament, that Christians know their elders, and that their elders know the members of their flock. Why is this so? Because elders keep watch over our souls as those who will give an account to God. I was listening to a sermon by an Irish Presbyterian pastor on this subject who, commenting on this verse, said that we can really assist our elders watch over us by our faithfulness in our participation in the church. This not only includes attendance, but I think can also carry the thought of service and time.

As the conversation began to wrap up, all of us were in complete agreement on one thing: the local church and fellowship within the corporate body are a great blessing from God, designed for our betterment.

Our God is remarkable in His care for His people, is He not?

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, December 27, 2007

An Evangelistic Outreach to Muslims

Dr. Oakley (aka Dr. James White) wrote a wonderful blog entry on Christmas Day that I am dying for you all to read. DrO took the time to offer an invitation to his Muslim audience to take a serious look at Christianity.

He pointed out something rather obvious last year that stuck with me, probably because I hadn't yet pieced this together: Islam is a religion dependent on disproving the claims of Christianity. Muhammad, a man 600 years removed from the time of Christ, made numerous claims about Christianity and about himself that completely contradict the Bible. And yet, Islam claims to agree with the teachings of the all the Biblical prophets, including Jesus Christ. It seems clear then that Muhammad ought to be tested by the same standard to which all the prophets of old were held: Deuteronomy 13 and 18.

Also, my parents gave me (for Christmas) DrO's first debate with Shabir Ally (the most prominent Muslim apologist in the English-speaking world), "Is the New Testament We Possess Today Inerrant and Inspired?" I've been very patient and have not listened to the .mp3's yet, 'cause I prefer watching debates on video. I'm thinking about getting some friends together to watch the debate, and perhaps in the future have a book study on Islam where we can discuss how to evangelize our Muslim neighbors - Answering Islam by Geisler came recommended to me by DrO. It was very helpful for me.

Anywho, Happy belated Christmas ya'll!


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Personal Log, Jean-Luke Piccard Style

“Personal Log – Stardate [Insert proper stardate format HERE]”

Four months ago from lasterday I asked Kaylee Rose to go out with me. Remarkably she said yes. Things on the Kaylee front are going incredibly well. She lights up my life.

For the first time I had the chance to decorate my house with Christmas lights. Nothing spectacular, but they look decent. I now know why every Christmas movie ever made pokes fun at the entire experience of hanging Christmas lights on the roof. As I stood on our roof I felt abundantly foolish, doubting every step. It was great and oh so worth it; Tim the Tool-Man Taylor would be proud.

Things at Desert Schools FCU are going well. I was promoted to the New Accounts Team, which keeps my interest and poses much more of a challenge. Rocking the financial universe is an experience I hope to continue for quite some time.

The month of December jampacked with weddings, parties, and family gatherings. There is so much going on that I bought a calendar for 2007-2008 just so I could keep track. I have tons of pictures to post from my birthday party, my Halloween party, the Jane Austen reenactment ball, Kaylee’s surprise birthday party, and so much more! If you aren’t a facebook user you really are missing out. Please add me to your friends list.

Okay, so I must know: what is everybody’s favorite Christmas vocal artist? Any guesses about who mine is?

Happy Christmas Season,

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

My View Has Been in the Works

It has taken me a few years but I think I’ve settled on a view of the war in Iraq. As of now, I do not support what our armed forces are doing in Iraq. Don’t mistake me for a liberal, however, because the reasoning that led to my conclusion is very different than that of Democrats. My view stems from one basic belief: a nation of Muslims cannot tolerate Democracy.

Throughout history, Muslims have been a warring people. They expand through aggressive means, killing those who are unwilling to convert, even killing each other – all in the name of Allah. The clash between Islam and the West today and over the past 14 centuries should be enough to for us to realize that Islam does not tolerate non-Islamic peoples.

Back in 2003, I thought our great nation did the right thing by invading and toppling Saddam’s oppressive regime. I vehemently disagree with the liberals that make the point that since we have not discovered any nuclear weapons our invasion into Iraq was a mistake. It is true that we have not found any nuclear weapons; what we have found are biological and chemical weapons like serrin gas. We know for a fact that Saddam was trying to obtain nukes and that he had threatened to use them against our ally, Israel. Add to that, Hussein had violated a dozen United Nations resolutions and was playing games with the weapons inspectors searching Iraq for w.m.d.’s. All of this pales in comparison with the intelligence of every nation of the world (including our own nation’s intelligence, and that of England, Germany, Russia and China), which all said the same thing: Saddam was presently in possession of nuclear weapons of mass destruction. But Saddam was equally bold in asserting that he did not have w.m.d.’s. What were we to do? Stand by and hope for the best? Were we going to trust the intelligence information of the civilized world, or were we going to trust the word of a known supporter of terrorism?

There was only one answer: in a post-9/11 world, where the realities of terrorism were ever-present, we could not afford to stand by while a madman, like Saddam, posed a threat to the civilized world.

And so we, with our allies, invaded Iraq.

A question might be rightly asked of me: When do you believe we should have left Iraq? If you will allow me to preface my answer by saying that I hold my particular view with the luxury of hindsight. I do not want to pretend that I could have done a better job than our President did, because I think he deserves our respect for doing the best that he could with the information that he had. Having said that, I would have had us leave Iraq shortly after leaving the government in shambles and ensuring that their military capabilities were demolished.

Another question might also be asked: Since we didn’t leave but rather set up a government in Iraq, when do you now propose that we leave? Even though I don’t believe any lasting form of Democracy will survive in Iraq (so long as it is run by Muslims), I believe that because we have committed ourselves to the government, we should give them our support for the time being. However, I do have trouble even fully convincing myself of this point. Feel free to offer persuasion =).

There you have it: my view on the war in Iraq =)

Until our next meeting,