So many people fighting against injustice etc are, deep down, profoundly angry. Their suppressed anger causes depression. Their anger fuels their passions and yet no matter how noble some of those pursuits may be, their anger achieves little. James 1:19-20 spells it out: “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (c.f. 1 Cor 13:1-3). It’s OK to be angry in many instances, but to stay angry and have a root of bitterness will kill you in the end (Heb 12:15-17). A heart filled with anger opens himself wide to Satan. Only patience, perseverance, hope, grace, humility, and truth accomplish the good and true things of God.
It has been some time (since October 2014) that I have written on this blog, and in the meantime I have come across a small but very influential book that has really shaken me up and caused me to think deeply about myself. Written by the Puritan John Flavel, it is called, Keeping the Heart: How to Maintain Your Love for God. Flavel uses Proverbs 4:23 as the basis for his reflection; it reads (NKJV): “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life“. Jesus said in His earthly ministry that all sins are sourced from the human heart and Flavel examines how the human heart must be guarded. Tragically in his day (and this is much truer in today’s world) people have not guarded their hearts, especially those in ministry. I know in my own heart there are things that I have not been vigilant over and God’s timeliness in giving me Flavel’s book is a sign of divine appointment. Flavel explores in about 30 pages the necessity of vigilantly guarding the heart and how to do so, and then discusses 12 different scenarios where the heart will be tested (time of prosperity, when others hurt you, etc).
One of the most sobering lessons for me was Flavel’s discussion of King Jehu of Israel: he did incredible acts of service for God. These were so impressive that at least 4 of his descendants also sat on the throne. However, Jehu’s acts did not issue from his heart: they were mere acts of externality (2 Kings 10:29-31). No matter how obedient he was to God on the outside, he still tolerated evil within. How sobering that is for God’s people and especially those in leadership! Praise God that He has sent me this sobering word from a man (Flavel) who has been dead for centuries. Below is Flavel’s prayer for a new heart, which I want to put here so others can pray it. And PLEASE go out and get your own copy of this book! It will shake and stir you, but through its sobering message will cause you to think carefully about your walk AND give you the means by which you can guard your heart. Nothing else is so important- it’s even more important than good theology and going to Bible college (as good as those other things are). For pastoral leadership it connects very much with the qualities of a godly leader in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1:6-8. Let us expunge the little foxes ruining our vineyards!
“Oh for a better heart! Oh for a heart to love God more; to hate sin more; to walk more evenly with God. Lord! Deny not to me such a heart, whatever Thou deny me: give me a heart to fear Thee, to love and delight in Thee, [even] if I beg my bread in desolate places”.
Here is a very inspirational interview by Jim Caviezel, the actor who portrayed Jesus in Mel Gibson’s flick, The Passion of the Christ. It’s very encouraging and Caviezel is a softly-spoken, genuine man who really loves Christ and understands that there is no glory (resurrection) without suffering (the Cross). Amazingly he survived a lightening strike on set and almost had a heart attack portraying Christ on the Cross.
The best part of the interview is about half-way through the vid, where he prophetically lambasts Christians for trying to be ‘cool’ to their non-Christian friends but not being distinctive for Christ (21:00 and onwards):
Recently my family and I have been going through some moments of change: now that I have almost completed my Bachelor of Theology we have been told that we need to leave by the end of this year. As such, I am assessing my options as to what part- or full-time ministry options are available. Although I want to pursue accreditation within the Baptist Church I want eagerly to ‘go into the field’ and start doing ministry. (If you know of anyone who might be able to give me such a ministry job soon, please let me know!!). In some ways this will be a bit of a challenge since I am, in particular, a Reformed Baptist. Baptist churches in Australia, generally, are theologically diverse and not many of them are Reformed. However, I am very much Reformed by conviction like the great Baptist preacher of the 1800s, Charles Haddon Spurgeon (who is one of my heroes of faith).
Being Reformed Baptist means, effectively, holding to biblical doctrines concerning matters such as salvation and so on from a Calvinistic perspective (i.e. God is sovereign over salvation and elects only a chosen group of people to be saved by Him). The core document that summarises such doctrines for the Baptist Church is the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith (the Second London Baptist Confession). For other denominations, there are statements like the Westminster Confession. For some Baptists, it is the 1689 confession. Spurgeon once described it thus, “This ancient document is the most excellent epitome of the things most surely believed among us. It is not issued as an authoritative rule or code of faith, whereby you may be fettered, but as a means of edification in righteousness. It is an excellent, though not inspired, expression of the teaching of those Holy Scriptures by which all confessions are to be measured. We hold to the humbling truths of God’s sovereign grace in the salvation of lost sinners. Salvation is through Christ alone and by faith alone”. Were I to work in a church this would be the kind of thing that I would teach my congregations.
If you are interested, here is the 1689 Baptist Confession in PDF (which I agree with in part).
Yesterday was a busy day for me. In the morning I taught on pastoral care, ethics, and apologetics concerning homosexuality at Sydney Missionary & Bible College. Then in the afternoon I went to New South Wales’ Parliament House; there I stood with American author Bill Muehlenberg and Christian MP Rev Fred Nile. The purpose of that presentation was to launch a book by Muehlenberg on homosexuality (see below) that contained my testimony on *coming out* of the homosexual death-style. (The book also contains the testimony of Anne Paulk, who came out of lesbianism and has become a friend.) Praise God for how He is using my testimony to bless others. Bill’s book can be purchased on Amazon.
One of the former presidents of the American Psychological Association has confirmed that ‘born gay science’ is indeed bogus, and nothing more than a product of political pressure having been applied to the APA in the 1970s:
Here’s a helpful and interesting article on how to defeat the spiritual bondages of homosexuality. The author deftly writes, “Love the sinner, hate the sin. Is this really the limit of our wisdom? … After loving the sinner and hating the sin, where does that leave us? What else do we do?” His article provides a superior strategy for overcoming the evil one with respect to homosexuality.