Tuesday, December 29, 2009


This excerpt is taken from Tim Challies blog on discernment.  He compares writing out long division with discernment.

We cannot simply leave discernment to the experts. Rather, we each need to learn to discern and we each need to grow in the skill of discernment. Like using a calculator for division, we can rely on others to give us the bottom line. But like doing long division, it is far better to do the work ourselves and to ensure we understand how to discern. The theological equivalent of using a calculator may be just Googling what John Piper or John MacArthur says about a certain topic and taking that word as law. It may be asking a parent or pastor and accepting what they say without further thought. We are all prone to want to get to the final tally without going through the intervening steps.

I think he makes a great point.  We are living in a "get it now" type of world.  That's why we have the 3G network from AT&T.  We always want answers faster.  That's why we have itouches or iphones, so we can get information on anything wherever we are and whenever we want.  If it takes more than 2 minutes to download, we think it's taking forever.

It's good to ask question and seek advice.  But I think that Tim hit the nail on the head.  Often times teenagers just want the right answer.  Here are some topics to help gain perspective...

Dating - How far is too far?  When should I be allowed to date?
Future - Where should I go to college?  What should my major be?  
Friends - Should I go to this party?  When coarse jokes are being told, should I walk away or say something to my friends?

These questions are good questions, but godly people could give you different answers for each one.  That's where you need to seek God's Word (and obey your parents) to use biblical discernment.

Here are a couple questions to help you use biblical discernment...

- Will this girl/guy/school/major/party help me to become more like Christ? (Eph. 5:1, I Cor. 10:31)
- How can I use this situation to love others? (I Jn. 4:18, Matt. 22:37-40)

You cannot take the word of fallen sinners opinions when it is not backed up with biblical principles.  Seek godly advice and seek God's Word.

Do you have questions about what is right or wrong or what you should or shouldn't be doing? Don't ask yourself "How close to the line can I get before I am sinning?", but "How close to holiness can I get?"

What are some other questions that you could use in discerning what is God honoring and what is not?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Where's the 'Peace on Earth'?

I went to foxnews.com and the top headline reads "Fight Isn't Over".  If you go to the 'world' section on usatoday.com, the devote whole pages to the war in Afghanistan.  If you've seen any Christmas movie there is always conflict.  Everyone hates Charlie Brown as the director for the Christmas play.  In "Elf", Buddy exposes the fraudulent Santa in the store and then they fight it out.  Even "The Muppets Christmas Carol", Scrooge forces  the rats to work late with little pay almost causing a revolt.

WHERE'S THE PEACE ON EARTH?  Did those angels get it wrong on the hillside when they told the Shepherds in Luke 2:14, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"  So wasn't Jesus suppose to bring peace to the earth?  Why is there still all this fighting?

Don't worry, the disciples thought that Jesus was going to stop all the wars and reign on earth at the Incarnation as well.  In John 18:10-11, Peter wanted to fight in order to keep Jesus alive, perhaps still not understanding what Jesus later told Pilate.  John 18:36, "...If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews.  But my kingdom is not from the world."

So if at the Incarnation, Jesus was not to set up His kingdom (which He WILL do in time) and instill peace on earth.  If He's not going to overthrow Rome so that the Jews can live in peace, what did the angels mean by "peace on earth"?

Through Jesus, we can have peace with God.  It is only through the shed blood of Christ that we can have forgiveness of sins (Heb. 9:22) and thus no longer be an enemy of God (Rom. 5:10).  So you can see that ONLY THROUGH CHRIST, you can be a friend of God, at peace with God, and no longer an enemy.

How many friends do you have are trusting in their own goodness to get them to Heaven?  Here's an illustration for you Lord of the Rings buffs.  Saruman (a double agent for Sauron) did lots of nice things for Gandalf, giving him advice and all that.  But finally we found out his true allegiance to Sauron.  Even though he was a nice guy for a while, he was still an enemy of Gandalf and all that was good.  Unbelievers can often fool themselves saying that they have enough good deeds to outweigh the bad deeds.  The deeds do not matter, because in their heart of hearts they are at war with God.

Let us pray that those who are enemies of God, can see how they can have peace.  What a great opportunity Christmas is to share about eternal peace with God.  You'd be surprise at how many people are searching for peace and just don't know how to get it.  I will pray that you will take the opportunity to share about peace with God during this Christmas season.

Merry Christmas>Christ came to earth>Lived a perfect life>Died for my sins (and yours)>Rose from the dead>Seated at the right hand of God>Will come back to claim His children>Praise the Lord!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Heathen's Greetings?!?!?!?!

Atheists are making a strong push to help "free minds" this holiday season.  It sounds like something out of The Matrix movies.  The Co-President of FFRF (Freedom From Religion Foundation), Annie Gaylor, appeared on the O'Reilly Factor last night to talk about the controversial billboards that are going up across America.  Signs that read "Heathen's Greetings" and "Yes, Virginia, there is NO God!"  Gaylor goes on to say confidently that there has never been any evidence of a God, so to teach this to you children would be indoctrinating them.  Gaylor wants children to make up their own mind and be freethinkers.  So I guess that she would suggest to parents never to teach their children anything, right or wrong, because it would be indoctrination.  I guess also, we should not tell our kids to put their coat on when it's cold outside or not to run in the middle of the street, or even put their tongue on the flag pole when it is 10 degrees outside because that would be indoctrination.

FFRF says that they're only trying to help free minds.  Question: Is there such a thing as a free thinker?  Can anyone truly be a free thinker?  The answer is no.  EVERYONE is influenced by someone else.  If someone decides that they will be an atheist, it is because they have been persuaded by other atheists.  If someone says that they want to be a free thinker, it is because they have influenced (indoctrinated) into thinking that is the way to go.  "Free thinkers" is just a phrase they use to try and show how religion traps you into living and thinking a certain way.

What Atheists celebrate this time of year is the Winter Solstice (Day with the least amount of sunlight for the year).  Gaylor claims that people have been celebrating the Solstice longer than Christians have been celebrating Christmas.  While I have no evidence to prove that is wrong, it seems that FFRF is not celebrating the Solstice but rather trying to keep people from celebrating Christmas.

Here's my thoughts:

1. Job 38:19-21 - I would like to ask Gaylor, "Surely you know who made it so that we would even have a 'darkest day of the year' and how the whole earth works.  I'm sure you were there when it all began...oh wait you weren't.  The only one who has answers is the One who has been there from the beginning...God."

2. Psalm 19:1 - The one thing that they are celebrating is the exact evidence that there is a God.  As the atheists are looking to the heavens this Winter Solstice, let's pray that they see the glory of God.

3. Ecclesiastes 1:9 - These arguments and beliefs have been here before.  They like to think that they are starting some new belief system, but they are not.  "There is nothing new under the sun."

I'll make a Christmas analogy to help us think through how to deal with this new form of atheism.  This is like getting the same thing for Christmas only it is wrapped in different packaging every year.  One year it is given to you in a plastic bag.  That's easy enough, just untie the bag and you're in.  Another year, you know it's the same gift, only this time it's wrapped up with wrapping paper.  This is a little tougher, it takes a little big of tearing and ripping, but the gift is still the same.  This year, it is put in this fancy bag.  You think it's going to be easy, but as you pull it out you find that there's a box that is covered in duct tape.  You'll have to break out a knife for this one, but the gift is still the same.

This is a new form of Atheism.  These new Atheists are more proactive in getting the word out there (i.e. witnessing) so that other people believe the way that they do.  There is a new book that is out written by Dr. Albert Mohler called Atheism Remix: A Christian Confronts the New Atheists.  I have not read it, but Dr. Mohler usually does a good job at dissecting the culture through a Biblical lens.

How would you share the Gospel with an Atheist?

Friday, December 18, 2009

To Tell or Not To Tell

ATTENTION: If you are a child under the age of 10 you need to be sure to STOP reading this post right now and to ask for your parent's permission to continue reading.

Now, let us move on. If you are a parent, you know the blessings that come with having small children. Their unending amount of energy and lack of concern and worry about everyday pressures is enviable. Children also possess something that many of us as adults have forgotten about our childhood - an imagination! At any time and at any place children can come up with some of the most unique games and imaginary circumstances. If you are parent, you will inevitably spend time teaching your children the importance of distinguishing between the reality of life and the imaginary things of this world. Such is the case with one of the most controversial subjects for Christian parents - the issue of Santa Clause.

There is no widespread consensus among evangelical parents as to whether or not it is right to tell our children about Santa Clause. 
To be quite frank with our readers here, I really do not find Santa Clause to be the biggest threat to us as Christians to having a Christ-centered Christmas. I think that the materialism, gluttony, impulsive spending, and a lack of focus on the Incarnation and virgin birth should be enough to keep all of us spiritually concerned in the month of December. 

C. Michael Patton has written an excellent piece on practicing discernment with this issue and as to what the 
real problems are for Christians during the month of December:

"Should Christians play Santa? I have no problem with it. Personally, I can’t bring myself to tell my children that he actually exists, but I have no problem with others who do and I have no problem singing Christmas carols that don’t involve Christ so long as Christ is the focus of our lives, not just our Decembers. If Christ is not the focus of our lives January-November, December is not going to make any difference anyway because, contrary to popular belief, December does not sanctify the rest of the year."

You can read the post in its entirety HERE.

NOTE: Personally, Christina and I do NOT tell our children that there is a Santa Clause. No, we do not believe that there is a biblical mandate for this and we would both say that this is an issue of preference and individual soul liberty rather than conviction. And NO, we will not debate or split hairs over a potential disagreement about this. Calvinism...yes...Santa....NO!!! We feel that it is difficult enough to keep young children God-centered during this time of year and with the inclusion of Santa Clause it just makes it that much more difficult. However, we do respect other Christian parents who decide to tell their children that there is a Santa Clause. I do not have a problem with that and I respect your decision.

With that being said...how many of our readers who have children would like to chime in on this? What do you do about the Santa Clause issue? How do go about explaining this or do you do what we do with the Santa Clause thing?

A Post by Pastor Mike in 2007

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Are you an adulterer?

I can see how Tiger's wife would divorce him after all of his adulteries.  I can see how Tiger would use Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) to give him an edge on the competition.  (Note: I'm not saying I condone it.  I'm saying how I can see how it would come to that.)

An argument was built on ESPN's 1st and 10, where two sports columnists discuss/argue different topics in sports.  An argument was brought up, which would ruin Tiger's reputation more, getting divorced or using PEDs?

An argument was made that using PEDs is worse for his reputation that a divorce.  Such a debate just goes to show you that divorce is not a rare thing in our culture.  In a Huffington Post article from Dec. 2008, they mentioned that marriages in the celebrity world were lasting longer than ever.  The divorces of 2008 ranged from the marriages lasting 4 months to 24 years.  They were greatly impressed with those lasting 24 years because the median divorce rate for the country is 7.8 years.

When watching the news on Tiger and his multiple adulteries with other women and now his wife wanting to divorce him, I can't help but to think about Hosea.  Remember, God told Hosea to marry Gomar (a prostitute) and he told Hosea that she would be unfaithful to him.  It was a picture of how Israel was unfaithful to God by seeking love/pleasure/happiness outside of God.

Today, the church is called the "Bride of Christ".  Do we act like one who is in a marriage relationship to our Lord and Savior?  How do we view our marriage to Christ?

I want you to think about how often you betray Christ with your thoughts or actions of desiring to find love/pleasure/happiness outside of Him.  Where might you search for it?  Video games, movies, internet, earthly relationship?  While these are not always evil and can make you happy for a time, they can become sinful and adulteress when we seek pleasure in them instead of in Christ.  Think about that.  Trying to find true happiness in a friendship, dating relationship, and even in marriage can be adulteress.

Believe me when I say, you can be happy and be loved even if you have no friends on this earth, never date, and never get married.  The Ultimate Love and Happiness can only be found in Christ.

Here's my challenge.  Where do you seek love/pleasure/happiness?  If it's in your pursuit of people or stuff, you are an adulterer...and you will never be satisfied.  If it's in your pursuit of Christ, you are a righteous person...and your joy will be made full.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What are you "Committed" to?

Think about the things or people that you are committed to.  Most of you teens (and myself) are committed to Facebook.  We will say, "I will never betray you O Facebook.  I will always go to you for wisdom, guidance, and so that people know that I am a fan of smiling.  Without you, I would not know whether Pastor Matt is feeling crazy today or whether Pastor Mike is still awake after 9:30pm.  I am in need of knowing what everyone else is doing at all times and Facebook.....i....i love you."

Commitment.  Can you be in a relationship and not be committed?  Sure.

You can be in a relationship with your parents, but don't obey them or respect them or go to them for advice.  You can be in a boy/girlfriend relationship, but at the first sign of trouble, you break up.  You can go to school day in and day out, but never turn in homework on time and sleep through classes. 

Sure you can be in a relationship and not be committed.  Have you made "commitments" to something and then bailed because you wanted to do something else?

This is a constant dilemma for households, so I desire for you to think about these questions as a family.

- My son wants to be in church, but he really loves being on the sports team.  What do I do?
- My daughter wants to be in the play, but she'll have to miss Wednesday night. What do I do?

There are many other scenarios that can be played out.  What is it for your family? 

David was quite a busy guy.  Lots of things on his plate, being king and all.  He said, "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act." (Psalm 37:4-5) 

Whether you are involved in band, sports, or drama, we are to ALWAYS commit our ways to the Lord.  We are to ALWAYS delight in Him.  When you decide what you will be involved in this coming year, remember that you have an outstanding commitment already...to your Savior who purchased your life with the shedding of His blood.

Praise the Lord, He is always committed to us, even when we commit ourselves to others...He is ALWAYS faithful!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Back to School

For MP, this is their first day at school all week.  Not bad.  I wonder how all the kids will get back into learning mode after not being forced to learn for 5 straight days.  I remember coming back from Thanksgiving Break and sitting in the classroom.  I think the first week back was always a blur.  I had trouble focusing.  I forgot what assignments were due, if there was a test coming up or a quiz.  All simply because my mind was not thinking about school for about 5 days straight.  Since I didn't think about it, I lost track of what I needed to accomplish.  Once I was in school each day, I finally got back into the swing of things.

The same principle applies in our spiritual lives.  When you don't communicate with God (Devos/Prayer) throughout the week but only on Sundays or Wednesdays, there is a good chunk of time where you are not thinking the way God wants you to think.  Have there been times where you've felt "far away" from God?  Have you ever asked yourself, "Why does 'so and so' seem to always have a good attitude when things go wrong?"

When you are not in God's Word, you "lose track" of what you need to accomplish.  When you aren't praying, you are relying on yourself to make everything right...and I don't think I have to tell you how that turns out.

When you leave school for a break, you let your mind think about anything BUT school.  When you leave church on Sunday or Wednesday, do you do the same?  Wanting to think about anything but glorifying God or reading the Bible? 

Let me encourage you from Psalm 1:1-2 - "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night."

Never take a break from thinking biblically.  Never take a break from receiving counsel from godly people.  Never take a break from delighting in God's Word. 

Never take a break from doing what you are supposed to be doing each and every second of your life.


...now get back to your studies!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snow Day

On your snow day today, be amazed at how great God is.  Look outside...step away from the facebook and tv and look outside.  Try counting all the snowflakes as they fly around.  Did you know that Job 37:6 says that God orders the snow to fall on the ground?  Did you know that God creates each snowflake to be different?  Did you know that God knows the exact time every snowflake will hit the ground all around the world?  AMAZING!!!

The knowledge and sovereignty of God should always have us amazed.

Isaiah 1:18 - "Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool."

Have you ever had a bloody nose or have some blood get on your white t-shirt?  The blood ruins the shirt.  Isaiah says that our sins are as scarlet and red like crimson.  Sin, is like a stain on your heart that you can NEVER get out.  No matter how much you scrub with the stain stick of being kind to others or bleach it with giving to the poor, it will NEVER come out.  You will have that stain with you the rest of your life.  What is worse, that stain will cause you to be cast into the lake of fire.  And there is nothing you can do about it!  BUT GOD, who created the heavens and the earth, can take that stain of scarlet and make it as white as snow.  He can take away an hint that you ever had crimson on you at all.  He can take your heart and scrub it clean, and He does this by using...get this...the blood of Jesus Christ.  For it is through the shedding of blood that we have forgiveness of sin.  It is through the blood that we can have eternal life.

Trust in Him today.  Ask for forgiveness so that you can look outside at the pure white snow and say, "That is what my heart look like!"

Praise be to God who gave us this great picture!!!

Don't forget 10-11pm for Q & A Night on the Youth TEAM facebook page in the "Discussion" tab

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tiger Woods seemed to have it all

Tiger Woods was the first athlete ever to make $1 billion...yes, that's billion with a "B".  He is in a sport where he gets a lot of face time (no helmet), gets to travel to the most beautiful places in the world, all while hitting a ball and then taking a leisurely stroll....hit a ball take a leisurely stroll...make a billion dollars.  He is the most well known athlete.  Never caught at night clubs or bars, never wielding weapons, or with a posse that beats people up.  You might catch him at a sporting event, here or there, but nothing that would put him into the spotlight outside of the golf course.

Now, when you type in "Tiger Woods" into Google, the first additional word that pops up..."women".  ABC news is now reporting that there are 9 women that are linked to Tiger Woods.  SNL did a skit to poke fun at Tiger's alleged affairs.  So it is official, the "perfect", "hero", "nothing bad to say about him", Tiger Woods is now being seen as "scandalous", "womanizer", and "pathetic".

There are many different areas I can go with on this blog.  I could talk about how the world views marriage (allegations are that Tiger offered his wife millions of dollars to stay with him).  I could talk about the shame of sexual immorality.  I could talk about living above reproach.

The one thing I want to pull out from this post is the "lostness" of the lost.  Tiger seemed to have it all.  Wonderful family and all the money anyone could ever need.  The one thing that Tiger lacks...Christ.  Sadly enough, even Christians look at Tiger's life and say, "He had it all and then he blew it."  What?  He had it all?  What worldview are you living with?  Tiger has nothing.  If Christ is everything, then Tiger has nothing of value.

We asked a question in Youth TEAM a couple months back.  What would you do for $10 million?  Would you be willing to give up all your access to God's Word, church, and fellow believers to have that money?  What about $1 billion, like Tiger?  You CANNOT serve both God and money (Matt. 6:24).

Christian, what about you?  Are you jealous of others who have more money than you?  Are you envious of unsaved people who seem to have it all?  If you are, you are forgetting that you have the most precious gift that money can't buy.  You have eternal rewards being stored up for you in Heaven.  The High King of Glory will look at you and one day say, "Well done, good and faithful servant."  What are you living for?  Are you living for temporary pleasures that pass away?

I guess it comes down to one question.  Do you love God or money?  You have to pick one or the other.  What does your life show?

Pray that Tiger Woods will see his need for salvation.  Pray that he will come to Christ.  God often uses tragic situations in people's lives to draw them to Him.  Pray that God is doing this.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Repent and be baptized...for the forgiveness of sins?

Acts 2:38 - "And Peter said to them, 'Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

Mark 16:16 - "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."

These are the two main verses that people pull out in their effort to prove that you must be baptized in order to be saved.  And from the outside look of things, it would seem that they are correct.  But let's take a deeper look and use other verses to see whether this is true or not.

Let's take Acts 2:38 first.  The surrounding text (v.41) shows that people were only baptized AFTER they have received his word.  Also, if Peter believed that one had to be baptized in order to be saved, why did he not mention that in any of his other sermons? Acts 3:19 he said, "Repent therefore and turn again that your sins may be blotted out."  Acts 10:43 he said, "through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins."  Now if Peter truly believed that baptism is a part of salvation, he would be obligated to mention that each time he preached the gospel.  So, it is obvious that Peter doesn't believe that.  So how do we explain Acts 2:38? 

In the book of Acts you will often see people trusting in Christ and then immediately being baptized.  They would be baptized in large bodies of water (ALWAYS), which showed to all who were present (both saved and unsaved) that they were now identifying themselves with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This was so very important to do, because as Peter mentions in a couple of his sermons, these people were the ones who crucified Jesus.  They were mortal enemies of Jesus, but now after being born again, they needed to show that they are no longer mortal enemies of Christ, but now children of the Most High God.

I will take a shorter time to explain Mark 16:16.  This passage is actually a good verse to use to prove that salvation is only by faith.  Look at the wording. it says that whoever does not believe will be condemned.  So the focus of the verse is not baptism.  It is believing.  If baptism is a part of salvation, then Jesus would have said, "whoever does not believe and is not baptized will be condemned."  BUT HE DIDN'T, because salvation all depends on faith alone, through Christ alone.  Here are some additional verses you can look up that shows, that God's Word teaches salvation through faith and not works.

Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 10:9-10; 11:6, Acts 4:12, Isaiah 45:21-22, 2 Timothy 1:9, Titus 3:5...just to name a few.  Not to mention the example set in the Old Testament of the sacrifices all pointing to Christ's work on the cross for salvation...nothing about baptism.

If you have any questions or comments, let me know.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Why I Signed iThe Manhattan Declaration/i

Why I Signed iThe Manhattan Declaration/i

This is a very interesting document that I hope you all check out.  It is a declaration from many different religious leaders stating their position on marriage and abortion.