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Monday, July 25, 2016

J.C. Ryle - Prepared To Stand Alone • Book Review, Chapters 1-7

Since I had mentioned that I planned to read the book Iain Murray did, I've decided to do a review on the parts I have read up to this point.   I probably have only read about halfway through at this point.
Book Title:
J.C. Ryle
Prepared To Stand Alone
Book by Iain Murray

My personal summary of the first few chapters:

J.C. Ryle went from being a son of a well-to-do banker to a struggling minister, reportedly paying off money his father owed after one of his father's banks failed under mismanagement by someone else.

Before the bank failure, J.C. went to university, and he did very well, though perhaps he did not try as hard as he could have for a part of the time.

J.C. eventually became a Christian, and it seems that God used various people and His Word to draw Ryle to Himself.
When Ryle became a Christian, his family and friends were not happy with him.
He worked a bit in the bank, I think, and then he was working toward going into law, but eventually he was called to be a minister.
Since the money was needed after the bank failure, it seemed to be a good choice to accept the call.

Ryle visited people and cared for the flock, and he read and taught, though it's not like many pastors of today who went through seminary training first (though not all do today either).
Yet, it seems J.C. did actually learn some positive things at university or college that were helpful, though some at the school were going astray into left field around or after that time.

J.C. seemed to have some recurring health issues, which had some effect on his life and ministry.
He ended up going to a new church where he would receive more income, and he was able to meet a lady who must have seemed spiritual enough to be of interest, and he married her.  
I'm sure that the extra money was helpful both for paying his father's debt and to be able to afford a wife and family as well.

Sadly, his young wife died of ill health, but they did have a baby daughter before she passed on.
He married again later, and his second wife struggled with her health, and after a number of children, and disabling health for a number of years, she also died.
This was a very hard time for J.C.

Ryle was able to write a lot of tracts or booklets during the time he was at this second church, and he had some servants and relatives (not sure if they were his or his wife's relatives) living at the house, which I imagine helped him some in his taking care of the children (that is my thought anyway).

Now, as to my thoughts of the book at the point where I am currently:

Today I finished Chapter 7 of the book on J.C. Ryle.
Actually, a lot of the book is what Ryle wrote himself.
The book is not only biographical, but it goes over the history of some of the theological controversies and adversity that went on in Ryle's time.
The last part of Chapter 7 talks about Ryle's reading of and defense of the Puritans.
Certainly this book gets me more interested in looking at even more of what Ryle wrote in addition to what I have already read, and also, to be curious about some of the Puritans he read.

I would love it if one of my friends would do a blog post  for me that would be a very short biography or summary of the teachings of some of these Puritans.  Thomas Manton, or any of the others you really like.... Hint. Hint.

So, for all my bookworm friends (who did not already read it), you might just want to read this book about J.C. Ryle to find out all that I have left out!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Powerful Message From A Man With ALS

Josh Wandell was a beloved school principal in TN.
Josh was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS) a few years back.
He is not old, and he has a family.
I've followed his story on local news, so I have never met this man myself....yet his story is touching.
He talks about having faith over fear, but he also has talked about his faith in the Lord.

What really stands out to me is his openness about what he believes, and it still is refreshing that the news in Tennessee doesn't edit out all of the good stuff.
It has been 3 years, and Josh can no longer use his voice....but he still has a message - and it's a powerful one that I hope you will watch:

To read what he texted via his phone - see what was posted on WJHL.

Are you ready to die?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Responding To The Murderous Lies Of Hate

Last night, I was seeing people online posting that the shooter in Baton Rouge had been member of the "nation of Islam." I checked out his YouTube channel, but I didn't want to listen to everything to see where they got that from.  It may have been something he had been in the past.
Whether or not it's true, I was curious...right or wrong.

Let's just say that he was a foul-mouthed man with twisted his mind comparing the American Revolution....rebellion against Africans being oppressed. 
If he was speaking of actual Africa (where I think he may have been at some point), that would be true in some countries, ...but I'm sure he was also thinking of America. 
His twisted mind was hateful, yet sadly he thought it was logical reasoning.
It can be debated whether the Revolution was right or not.  
I personally believe that the king of England didn't have a right over a land that was not truly his own, but that's beside the point.

Reasoning, when it is unhinged with no moorings, is like the lies of the Serpent in the Garden.
It only takes a little twist to completely distort the truth.
That man did not even know what true oppression is.
He was blinded by rhetoric, lies, hate, and the evil one.
Tragically for those he victimized, he bought into a victim mentality.

Sadly, many indict the whole police force in every city and the entire justice system, and furthermore some even indict people simply for being white.  Yet, the justice system is no worse than they are.

While U.S. history had true oppression of black people (inflicting physical abuse, segregation, and slavery), many people it seems are full of hate against people who are just trying to do their job to the best of their ability. They would hate to be condemned without a trial themselves, but they do it to the police.

This country is guilty of disobedience and rebellion against God, but that is on the streets as well as in every profession. Any human justice system will have faults, just as every single human being sins.

The murder of millions of babies in the womb has happened in the U.S., and yet people shut their eyes and focus on supporting criminals and those who disrespect the authority who make life and death decisions hoping to save lives.
I realize there are some racist cops (and people need to stop believing the lie that all racists are white), since the police force is made up of sinners like the rest of us, and sometimes police can be unfair and calloused. They have a job that puts them in contact with criminals every day, and sometimes they struggle as anyone would - to separate how they treat innocent and guilty people.

Still, many of them want to save lives, be heroes, and they would risk their lives even for those who hate them. The police also shoot white people to save theirs and others lives, but people don't take to the streets.  They realize the cops have to make quick decisions....right or wrong.

Sure, when someone has been proven guilty, go ahead and write to authorities to encourage a just sentence.
If an officer is spouting racist comments, go ahead and report that individual.
I hope people will stop looking at the world through the lens of color.
A lynch mob mentality is ugly no matter who has it.

As a Christian, I need to remind myself to love people who hate, have compassion, & indiscriminately distribute the Gospel.
It especially hurts though, when professing Christians have been sucked into the we-they mentality.
I need to fight against that poison.
Sin can infect even saints, and it must be rooted out.

I shared my reaction to the Baton Rouge murderer's most recent video online, and I attempted to give a Gospel message.  This is what I said:
Twisted reasoning... the police aren't oppressors. They are people who give their lives in service for people of all shades of skin. Sure, there a few bad ones in the bunch, just like any of society, but most of them would risk their lives to save a life. Who do people call when a thief comes, a murder happens, a child is kidnapped, a person is raped, etc.? God created man in His image, and all colors came from the same parents. God will bring about ultimate justice for those who murder, and some people are quick to decide a police officer is a murderer without all the evidence or a trial...and usually they are wrong. They would be screaming injustice if the shoe was on the other foot. Justice applies to all, and God's justice means that unrepentant murderers spend eternity in Hell....all unrepentant sinners matter what their sin. Only those who repent and trust in Jesus (Who is fully God and fully man....sinless) will be forgiven and be treated by God as though they lived Christ's perfect life and their sin was placed on Christ when He died on the cross for sins. Sadly, the man who did this video, believed lies, and killed men created in God's image. I pray that some will read this and believe the truth while there's time. Please read the Bible....even the Gospel of John or Romans.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

From Despair To Prayer

There are times when I'm reading the Psalms, and I wonder why protection seems to be promised and happen for them....and then it doesn't seem to happen that way for many Christians.
Yes, sometimes I have negative thoughts, even though I don't want to be that way.

Christians do suffer and die at the hands of evil people.
Today though, I once again reminded myself, that this life isn't all there is.
Yes, Christians have suffered, do suffer, and they will continue to suffer....
but that suffering is limited to this life only.
It won't happen in Heaven.  We will be safe there.

Christians aren't immune to the effects of sin, but God has a set time and date for us.
We won't die a moment sooner than is in His plan.
Nobody can do anything to us outside of His will for us, and He will help us through when He does call us to suffer.

We see people being murdered in the U.S. and around the world.
Some of the people are Christians, and some of them are not.
Evil seems to be winning.  The culture even of America is in chaos, and it may seem like the evil will triumph.
Yet, we know their time is limited, and their day is coming.

For the LORD loves justice
And does not forsake His godly ones;
They are preserved forever,
But the descendants of the wicked will be cut off.
Psalm 37:28 NASB

There is a forever for those who trust in the Lord.
I may feel miserable and like I'm falling apart and a mess, but while I hope that things will turn around - I know God is my only hope.

Sometimes God's will is for things to turn around on earth.
Often when people repent, God has turned things around.
Sometimes He seems to calm things down enough to give a time of refreshment in the midst of storms.
God has done a lot of things for His people on earth, and obedience to Him generally has a positive effect for our lives (though sometimes it may bring suffering at the hands of those who don't obey Him).

Today I was reading in a book about J.C. Ryle, and it was talking about prayer, and it reminded me to pray ....and I especially thought to pray for others.

A flicker of hope and encouragement flamed up inside of me.
I'm not saying  that everything turned rosy for me, but it gave some renewed purpose and direction in that moment.
It isn't as if I haven't prayed before, but it made me think about how God used people who did pray more.

So, while looking at the seeming chaos around us, I want to encourage people to pray to God Who is still working and will not let us go even in the midst of trials.

Prayer can accomplish much, because God works through prayer.

Prayer for Christians bringing the truth to the lost, prayer for those who will repent and trust Christ, prayer for pastors to live and preach faithfully (Scripturally), for the suffering, for spiritual growth of Christians, for hope, for perseverance, for joy, for our love and trust to mature, for a better understanding of Scripture, for the imprisoned believers (or salvation for those who aren't believers), for discernment, unity of true believers, strong Biblical conviction in the church, and for peaceful hearts, etc.

If this life was all there was, then we would have reason to despair.
Yet we can feel despair at times as humans, and so we must remind ourselves to hope in God.
Even death is not the end.  Believers have an everlasting inheritance....forever...and in a place where we will literally be put out of our misery...yet not in death...but in LIFE!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Before the Dallas Shootings...

A sniper shot several police officers in Dallas, Texas. The people who were protecting people's rights to protest (even against themselves), gave their lives in service to these same people.

What some people may not know is that before the Dallas shootings, there was someone who was shooting in northeast TN reportedly reacting to the incidents publicized about officers and black Americans.

Possible Motive Behind Bristol Shootings

People, please stop assuming the police are always guilty of murder when you watch a news story blaming them for a death.

If you think that people should be considered innocent of a crime until proven guilty, then you should apply the same attitude to the police.

You don't always see everything from a video snippet.

It doesn't tell the full story.

And....when an officer is guilty, then they are often tried in court....and no...they are not always let off...if the officer is truly guilty.

Probably just one guy did the Dallas shootings, and one person shot people in Tennessee.

You see, we should never hold everybody guilty who's white, black, or a police officer, for what we think someone else did..

Also, we should try to work within the justice system and not take justice into our own hands.

On this earth, sometimes injustices do happen, but God will bring about true justice upon judgment day, and that either should make us happy or tremble.

Even those of us who have trusted in Christ to save us from sin and eternal death should not think lightly of sin.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

John MacArthur's Biblical Truth Bomb, Is There Proof of God's Existence, & Prepared To Stand Alone

Until the people of America repent & honor God, we cannot expect blessing. America needs the Gospel. We are a nation under judgment right now. We need repentance & mercy.

Some politicians, and educators, and even pastors are fiddling while America is burning. The Gospel is the only hope. - John MacArthur

John MacArthur spoke recently at the 2016 Western Conservative Summit at which Donald Trump had spoken a couple of days earlier.
I was live-streaming it online, and I was tweeting about it as I heard it.
He explained the kind of government that can receive God's common grace, but in America we no longer have that.  His message was confrontive and convicting, and it is the kind of message that was needed.  Yes, it was to an audience of probably professing Christians, but it is a message that all should hear. 

God uses His Words to convict & save people and not our arguments and cleverness to bring people into His Kingdom.  

In case people missed it, Phil Johnson gave a message "Is There Proof of God's Existence"   in June of this year.
I learned about presuppositional apologetics from Sye Ten Bruggencate.  You don't have to be an intellectual giant to understand it.  Phil and John MacArthur also agree with this Biblical apologetic, and the message Phil gave is worth a listen.

I recently got this biography of J.C. Ryle through Amazon, and I'm excited about it.  
I heard a biographical lecture about J.C. in the past, and I've read the book Holiness which is amazing for an intellectually lazy person like myself.  
I was both reading & listening at the same time for much of it, which helped me to focus.  
Well, I'm hoping the rest of this book by Iain Murray will be as good as the sample portion I read before it came out!   
If it is, you might see more about it later on my blog!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Hope And Fear Part 1 - Guest Writer Jim Wine

Fear and hope are similar, but opposite.

“Fear” is an expectation of future loss.
“Hope” is an expectation of future gain.

Since both of these are based on an expectation of the future, they are both based upon belief. What do you believe about the future?  This will determine whether you live in hope, fear, or just plain apathy.

Important: since no one can predict with certainty the future, both fear and hope can be extremely wrong or exactly correct.  The difficulty is in knowing whether your fear and/or hope are warranted. On what are they based? Truth or fiction?

Let’s face it: it is possible that both your fears and your hopes are both incorrect.  And, yes, it is possible that your fears and/or hopes are correct.

But how is one to know?  How can any person know with certainty what is going to happen in the future? This is certainly the key question. And there is an answer. Are you ready for it?

The answer is that there is only one being that knows the future. Only one. We call Him God. The Bible says that God knows every aspect of the future; every detail.  In fact, God knows so much about the future that it is impossible for Him to ever learn anything.  He simultaneously possesses all knowledge of everything that will be and everything that could be.  God can never be surprised. So, to say that “God knows the future” is an understatement. For God, in a sense, there is no “future” because all knowledge and all “futures” are immediately present in His mind. He never “recalls” anything. He never has to pause to try to remember anything. He doesn’t have long term memory storage. All knowledge is immediately present in His mind – and always has been – from long before time began.

At this point is ok to say “Wow!”  Truly God is amazing. He knows everything.  He never lies. He always tells the exact truth. And He is never wrong. Never. It is impossible for a being who has all knowledge and never lies to speak anything other than the exact truth. Even when He speaks about the future.

Now…back to “hope” and “fear.”  Remember that both of these are based upon an expectation of the future. Since we humans are often (if not usually) wrong in our predictions of the future, perhaps we should be a little more modest and humble in how much confidence we place in our hopes and fears. This is good advice, and we would be very wise to accept it – except for one great exception: sometimes God tells us what is going to happen in the future. Yes, that is correct!  God has recorded, in writing, some of the things that are going to transpire in the future. Since God can never lie, if we take the time to learn these things God has said about the future, then we can have appropriate levels of hope or fear, because such things will be based on the certainty of God’s promises. This is an amazing concept. And it is very personal to me. One quick story:

During the winter of 1988 I was sitting alone at night on the patio of our house in San Diego. I was thinking about the death of my daughter. Six months earlier I had witnessed her death in an automobile accident. I was alone and in pain. I had a feeling of such loss. Realizing that I would never see or hug or hold my dear sweet daughter again. That I would never see her smile or hear her laugh. The pain was like a giant wave. It overwhelmed me. I was buried beneath an unescapable expectation of eternal loss; The loss of my relationship with my daughter.

At that precise moment, I opened my Bible and read these words that Jesus the Son of God said in John 11:25

“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.”

Note that Jesus mentions something about the future.  He says “he who believes in Me will live – even if – he dies.” Someone who is a believer in Jesus; a Christian; someone who has placed their faith in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and walks in newness of life – this is the person about whom Jesus states this future fact.

Well, I knew without a doubt that my daughter believed in Jesus. She loved Him and prayed to Him and talked about Him. Her faith in Him was very real. So what was Jesus telling me about the future? Simply this: that I would, in fact, see my daughter again. That she would live again. That one day we would be reunited (because, you see, I am also a believer in Jesus!).

In that moment I believed what Jesus said. I realized that He spoke the exact truth about the future.

And I knew.

I knew that I would see my daughter again!

Poof. The fear was gone. The tidal wave of future expectation was blasted into oblivion. And in its place a certain joy began to blossom. A joy that has never left me. Because now I know something of what the future holds: the happy reunion with my daughter in the presence of Jesus. That is what we call “biblical hope” because it is based on the certain knowledge of God’s promise.

NOTE: grief and fear are different. Although my fear left me, my grief did not. The pain of present loss (grief) was still there and was very real. It still is. The fact is, that right now I do not have my daughter present with me, and the pain is still there.  The pain is reality. It cannot be called fear. Nor can it be called sin.  Grief and pain over actual loss are real. They are appropriate responses to suffering.

Right now, then, it is accurate to say that I have both grief and hope. But no fear. And the hope that I have encourages me to continue. This is wonderful!

But what exactly is “encouragement?”  How do we get it? And is it always correct? Is it possible to give false encouragement to others?  If so, how?

These questions will be considered in the next blog!  Until then, please try to find some things that God says about the future.  It is not hard!  Just look in the Bible! And may God bless you with great hope!