Saturday, June 28, 2008

12 Sins We Blame on Others

By: Ben Reaoch

The following post is from the Desiring God blog by Ben Reaoch, pastor of Three Rivers Grace Church in downtown Pittsburgh, PA.

* * *

It started in the Garden. Adam said to God,

The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate. (Genesis 3:12)

The first man, caught in the first sin, turns to blame his wife. And he extends the blame to God as well! He implies that he would have remained innocent if God hadn’t put Eve in the garden with him.

The blame-shifting in the Garden continues today. Our proud hearts send us desperately looking for someone else to point to every time we’re confronted with our own sin. There must be someone else—our spouse, sibling, parent, boss, co-worker, pastor, friend, or God, himself.

We are so desperate to justify ourselves that we become irrational. Here are 12 examples.

1) Anger

I wouldn’t lose my temper if my co-workers were easier to get along with, or if my kids behaved better, or if my spouse were more considerate.

2) Impatience

I would be a very patient person if it weren’t for traffic jams and long lines in the grocery store. If I didn’t have so many things to do, and if the people around me weren’t so slow, I would never become impatient!

3) Lust

I would have a pure mind if there weren’t so many sensual images in our culture.

4) Anxiety

I wouldn’t worry about the future if my life were just a little more secure—if I had more money, and no health problems.

5) Spiritual Apathy

My spiritual life would be so much more vibrant and I would struggle with sin less if my small group were more encouraging, or if Sunday school were more engaging, or if the music in the worship service were more lively, or if the sermons were better.

6) Insubordination

If my parents/bosses/elders were godly leaders, then I would joyfully follow them.

7) A Critical Spirit

It’s not my fault that the people around me are ignorant and inexperienced.

8) Bitterness

If you knew what that person did to me, you would understand my bitterness. How could I forgive something like that?

9) Gluttony

My wife/husband/roommate/friend is a wonderful cook! The things they make are impossible to resist.

10) Gossip

It’s the people around me who start the conversations. There’s no way to avoid hearing what others happen to say. And when others ask me questions, I can’t avoid sharing what I know.

11) Self-Pity

I’ll never be happy, because my marriage/family/job/ministry is so difficult.

12) Selfishness

I would be more generous if we had more money.

Making excuses like this is arrogant and foolish. It’s a proud way of trying to justify our actions and pacify our guilty consciences. And it keeps us from humbling ourselves before God to repent of our sins and seek his forgiveness.

Consider James 1:13-15, which leaves us with no way of escaping our own sin and guilt. We cannot blame God, for he “cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.”

Instead, we have to accept the humbling truth that “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” This will end the blame game, and it will send us pleading for Christ’s mercy and grace.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Coal Basket Bible

The story is told of an old man who lived on a farm in the mountains of Kentucky with his young grandson. Each morning, Grandpa was up early sitting at the kitchen table reading from his old worn-out Bible. His grandson who wanted to be just like him tried to imitate him in any way he could.
One day the grandson asked, "Papa, I try to read the Bible just like you but I don't understand it, and what I do understand I forget as soon as I close the book. What good does reading the Bible do?"
The Grandfather quietly turned from putting coal in the stove and said, "Take this coal basket down to the river and bring back a basket of water."
The boy did as he was told, even though all the water leaked out before he could get back to the house. The grandfather laughed and said, "You will have to move a little faster next time," and sent him back to the river with the basket to try again. This time the boy ran faster, but again the basket was empty before he returned home. Out of breath, he told his grandfather that it was "impossible to carry water in a basket," and he went to get a bucket instead.
The old man said, "I don't want a bucket of water; I want a basket of water. You can do this. You're just not trying hard enough," and he went out the door to watch the boy try again.
At this point, the boy knew it was impossible, but he wanted to show his grandfather that even if he ran as fast as he could, the water would leak out before he got far at all. The boy scooped the water and ran hard, but when he reached his grandfather the basket was again empty. Out of breath, he said, "See Papa, it's useless!"
"So you think it is useless?" the old man said. "Look at the basket."
The boy looked at the basket and for the first time he realized that the basket looked different. Instead of a dirty old coal basket, it was clean.

"Son, that's what happens when you read the Bible. You might not understand or remember everything, but when you read it, it will change you from the inside out." That is the work of God in our lives. To change us from the inside out and to slowly transform us into the image of His son.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thinking Biblically

In its simplest definition, discernment is nothing more than the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong. Discernment is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth. In other words, the ability to think with discernment is synonymous with an ability to think biblically.

First Thessalonians 5:21-22 teaches that it is the responsibility of every Christian to be discerning: “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” The apostle John issues a similar warning when he says, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

According to the New Testament, discernment is not optional for the believer — it is required. The key to living an uncompromising life lies in one’s ability to exercise discernment in every area of his or her life. For example, failure to distinguish between truth and error leaves the Christian subject to all manner of false teaching. False teaching then leads to an unbiblical mindset, which results in unfruitful and disobedient living — a certain recipe for compromise.

Unfortunately, discernment is an area where most Christians stumble. They exhibit little ability to measure the things they are taught against the infallible standard of God’s Word, and they unwittingly engage in all kinds of unbiblical decision-making and behavior. In short, they are not armed to take a decidedly biblical stand against the onslaught of unbiblical thinking and attitudes that face them throughout their day.

Discernment intersects the Christian life at every point. And God’s Word provides us with the needed discernment about every issue of life. According to Peter, God “has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3). You see, it is through the “true knowledge of Him,” that we have been given everything we need to live a Christian life in this fallen world. And how else do we have true knowledge of God but through the pages of His Word, the Bible? In fact, Peter goes on to say that such knowledge comes through God’s granting “to us His precious and magnificent promises” (2 Peter 1:4).

Discernment — the ability to think biblically about all areas of life — is indispensable to an uncompromising life. It is incumbent upon the Christian to seize upon the discernment that God has provided for in His precious truth! Without it, Christians are at risk of being “tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14).

-- John MacArthur, Pulpit Magazine Blog, June 18, 2008

Monday, June 16, 2008

Rare Words

Paul Washer:

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Patriarch

"More noble than the valiant deeds of shining knights of yore,
More powerful than earthly plights that make the rich man poor,
More kingly than a royal throne or a lion with his pride,
Is he whose babes sleep well at night sure Daddy will provide.

There is a spirit in this land and Jezebel’s her name.
She’s calling you to leave your home for power, fun, and fame.
She wants your wife, your children too — she’ll never compromise,
Until your house is torn in two by listening to her lies.

But though a hundred thousand million men may fall prey to her lures,
And wives en masse leave home in search of “more fulfilling” chores,
Though preachers praise, and friends embrace, her pagan plan of death,
Stand strong and quit you like a man with every blessed breath.

Stand strong and rise, O man of God, to meet this noble call,
The battle is not new you see, it’s been here since the Fall.

Your wife is your helpmeet, my friend, and not another man’s,
So care for her and keep her far from Mistress Jezi’s plans.
Protect, provide, and give to her your undivided life,
This is the dear one of your youth, your precious bride, your wife.

And rally to those tiny ones who trust you for their care —
A lifetime spent discipling them’s a lifetime pure and rare.
For when they put their hand in yours and know a Daddy’s love,
You’re showing them a picture of the Father from above.

Look not toward worldly goal or gain, or for your liberty,
Look only into their sweet eyes to find your ministry.
Devote your heart and sacrifice and make your manly mark —
There is none so great as he who finds his call as patriarch."

—Douglas W. Phillips, Poems for Patriarchs: The Verse and Prose of Christian Manhood.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


by Andrew Murray (1794-1866)

"How is the Church to be lifted up to the abundant life in Christ, which will fit her for the work that God is putting before her? Nothing will help but a revival, nothing less than a tremendous spiritual revival. Great tides of spiritual energy must be put into motion if this work is to be accomplished. Now there may be great differences in what we understand by revival. Many will think of the work of evangelists like Moody and Torrey. We need a different and mightier revival than those were. In them the chief object was the conversion of sinners, and incidentally, the quickening of believers. But the revival that we need calls for a deeper and more entire upheaval of the Church. The great defect of those revivals was that the converts were received into a Church that was not living on the high level of consecration and holiness, and speedily sank down to the average standard of ordinary religious life. Even the believers who had been roused by it, also gradually returned to their former life of clouded fellowship and lack of power to testify for Christ.

The revival we need is a revival of holiness, in which the consecration of the whole being is to the service of Christ, and that for the whole life shall be counted possible. And for this there will be needed a new style of preaching in which the promises of God to dwell in His people, and to sanctify them for Himself, will take a place which they do not now have. When our Lord Jesus gave the promise of the Holy Spirit, He spoke of the New Covenant blessing that would be experienced—God dwelling in His people. "If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him." So Paul also writes: "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith... that you might be filled with all the fullness of God." With the Reformation, the great truth of justification by faith was restored to its place. But the other great truth of sanctification has never yet taken its place in the preaching and practice of the Church which God's Word claims for it. It is for this that we need a revival, that the Holy Spirit may so take possession of us that the Father and the Son can live in us, and that the fellowship with Them, and devotion to Their will and service shall be our chief joy. This will be in very deed a holiness revival.

The Moravian community (at Herrnhut) owed its birth to a holiness revival. There were gathered together a number of Bohemian refugees, and along with them a number of Christians of different sects. It was not long before disputes arose, and Herrnhut became a scene of contention and divisions. Zinzendorf felt this so deeply that he went down to live among them. In the power of God's Spirit he succeeded in restoring order and in binding them together in the power and devotion of Jesus Christ and of love to each other. More than once they had remarkable manifestations of the presence of the Spirit, and their whole life became one of worship and praise. After they had for a couple of years been having their nightly fellowship meetings, they were lead to the consecration of the whole body to the service of Christ's kingdom. It was in this holiness revival that the Moravian missionary idea was born. When John Wesley visited them he wrote: "God has given me the desire of my heart. I am with a church whose conversation is in heaven, in whom is the mind that was in Christ, and who so walk as He walked. Here I continually met what I sought for-living proofs of the power of faith, persons saved from inward as well as outward sin, by the love of God shed abroad in their hearts. I was extremely comforted and strengthened by the conversation of this lovely people."

A holiness revival! What was the great evangelistic revival in England through Whitefield and Wesley but this? They had together at Oxford been members of the "Holy Club". With their whole heart they had sought deliverance from the guilt of sin, but also from the power of sin. When their eyes were opened to see how faith can claim the whole Christ in all fullness, they found the key to the preaching which was so mightily effectual for the salvation of men. What John Wesley did for the Methodism, General Booth, and his disciple, did for the Salvation Army. Looking at the material on which he had to work, it was amazing how, with his teaching of the clean heart and full salvation, he was able to inspire tens of thousands with a true devotion to Christ and the lost. There may be great differences of doctrine, but no one can be blind to the seal God has set upon the intense desire to preach a full salvation and an entire consecration.

A revival of holiness is what we need. Such preaching of the claim that Christ has on us, shall lead us to live entirely for Him and His kingdom; such an attachment of love to Him as shall make His fellowship our highest joy; such faith in His freeing us from the dominion of sin as shall enable us to obey His commandments; such yielding to the Holy Spirit as to be led by Him in all our daily walk—these will be some of the elements of the revival of true holiness for which the Church must learn to seek as for the pearl of great price.

And how is it to be found? It will cost much prayer. It will cost more than that - much sacrifice of self and of the world. It will need a surrender to Christ Jesus to follow Him as closely as God is able to lead us. We must learn to look upon a life like Christ's, having the very same mind that was in Him, as the supreme object of daily life. It is only when a prayer such as Robert Murray McCheyne's becomes ours, "Lord make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be", and begins to be offered by an increasing number of ministers and believers, that the promise of the New Covenant will become a matter of experience."

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Shaping the Minds of the Youth

This article on Youth Specialties is from Lighthouse Trails Research blog:

Source: Understand the Times with Roger Oakland

In the late 1960s, two youth workers in their twenties, Mike Yaconelli and Wayne Rice (who happened to be working for Youth for Christ at the time), wanted to change the way youth ministry was viewed and approached. They self-published a small booklet called Ideas, began talking to senior pastors and churches, and in 1970 held their first conference. They called the company Youth Specialties. Interestingly, the late theologian Francis Schaeffer attended their second annual conference.1 Schaeffer would be very surprised if he had known that thirty years down the road this young, sprouting organization would become one of the major catalysts for the emerging church movement.

Just a few years after Youth Specialties was launched, Zondervan publishers took notice of the two men's work:
Youth Specialties' passion for youth workers caught the attention of Zondervan Publishing House in 1974. Zondervan came to YS and said, "You guys are weird and unpredictable. We want to put your books in bookstores," recalls Mike. Zondervan was very Dutch, very Grand Rapids, very conservative--but hey, they believed in our mission!2
Zondervan's interest in Youth Specialties would only increase, and over the next thirty years, the two companies would publish over 500 resources for youth workers. It is worth mentioning that Zondervan became the property of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation in 1988. Murdoch's corporation, also owner of Fox News, has been a major catalyst for Purpose Driven Life and now, we see, for the emerging church through Zondervan. This is significant in light of Rick Warren's relationship with Murdoch. Warren says he is Murdoch's pastor;3 it is clear that both he and Youth Specialties benefited from a corporation that had a net profit of 21 billion dollars for the 2004 fiscal year,4 and whose founder (Murdoch) received a "papal knighthood" from Pope John Paul II for Murdoch's donation of "large sums of money" to the Catholic church.5
In 1984, as Youth Specialties grew and its circle of influence spread across the country, Zondervan signed a co-publishing agreement with Youth Specialties. Eventually, there was the National Youth Workers Convention, the National Pastors Convention, and another 100 seminars throughout the year around the country.

Twelve years later, Youth Specialties partnered with San Francisco Theological Seminary to form the Youth Ministry & Spirituality Project.6 The following year, the young organization was awarded a grant by the Lilly Endowment.7* By this time, Youth Specialties had contacted the new emergent leaders and said they wanted to work together. Sharing many of the same spiritual affinities as Emergent, Youth Specialties hoped to help take the movement to the next level with more books, more conferences, and more growth.

In 2006, Zondervan bought Youth Specialties.8 After the purchase, Zondervan made a commitment that it would continue its support of the emerging leaders.

While Zondervan's role in helping build the emerging church movement cannot be minimized, it is not the only Christian publisher that has added force to the movement. In fact, most major Christian publishing houses have released at least a few books written by emerging church leaders or books that have an emerging spirituality bent to them.

The secular publishing industry has also played a significant part in the emerging church's tremendous success in getting their message out. In 1996, Leadership Network established a partnership agreement with Jossey-Bass (a large San Francisco-based publishing house), which would turn out to be most beneficial for both parties.9 Incidentally, Jossey-Bass had a close ongoing relationship with Peter Drucker, who sat on the Jossey-Bass board, and his Leader to Leader Journal is to this day published by Jossey-Bass.

Through this strong-arm publishing alliance of Jossey-Bass and Leadership Network, the handful of carefully selected young men (Young Leaders Network) began writing books, and with the Drucker/Buford marketing energies, these young emerging leaders became known world-wide in just a few years, so much so, that in 2005, Time magazine named Brian McLaren one of the country's top 25 "Most Influential Evangelicals."10

In addition to numerous books being published by the Jossey-Bass Leadership Network series, several conferences have taken place that have further propelled this movement. The secular Mother Jones magazine took notice of the young emergent movement and its benefactors, stating:
Postmoderns receive crucial support--financial and otherwise--from the megachurches. These postmodern ministries are loosely organized by the Leadership Network, a Dallas-based umbrella group for many of the nation's megachurches. It's the Leadership Network that keeps Driscoll's bohemian Mars Hill ministry in touch with the fast-growing, but more traditional, University Baptist Church in Waco by holding conferences and seminars. For the past three years the network has sponsored national conferences that bring together postmodern leaders.11
There is little doubt that the emerging church movement would not be what it is today without the zeal, backing, and efforts of Leadership Network, Rupert Murdoch, Jossey-Bass, Youth Specialties, Willow Creek, Peter Drucker, Rick Warren, Zondervan publishing, and the Lilly Endowment.

Bob Buford has stated that, "A few men can make a huge difference," and he adds, "[I]t has become my firm conviction that the way to affect multitudes is to Focus on the Few."12 With such a stealth backing, I can see why this would be true. But if these "Few" are preaching a different gospel, the "affect" on the "multitudes" could produce a terrible falling away from the faith.
If such a process does occur, what will it look like? Will it happen overnight, or will there be a seductive alluring over time? Will the youth be targeted? And what will happen to those who warn about this seduction? Will they be considered out of touch and narrow-minded, holding back new frontiers and tides of change?

For Christianity to be restructured, a spiritual paradigm shift of a magnificent strength and clever strategy would have to take place. It would have to involve all denominations, even ones that were once biblically based. While humans will carry out this shift, we know the Bible teaches that the battle we face is not against flesh and blood and that there is an evil one "which deceiveth the whole world" (Revelation 12:9). When man turns his back on what the Lord has said, nothing good can come from it:
Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. (Jeremiah 17:5-6)(From Faith Undone, chapter 2)
* In 2001, the Lilly Endowment awarded Youth Ministry & Spirituality Project another even bigger grant--$691,000.

1. Youth Specialties' 30th Anniversary: http://www.youth
2. Ibid.
3. Malcolm Gladwell, "How Rick Warren Built His Ministry" (New Yorker, September 12, 2005,
4. "News Corporation: Earnings Release for the Quarter and Fiscal Year Ended June 30th 2004," accessed online at
5. Steve Boggan, "Catholic anger at Murdoch's papal knighthood" (The (London) Independent, February 17, 1998).
6. From the Youth Ministry & Spirituality Project website:
7. "Youth Ministry and Spirituality Project Receives Major Grant," (Youth Specialties News, January 11, 2001).
8. Press release from Zondervan, Tara Powers, "Leading Christian Publisher Zondervan Acquires Ministry Organization Youth Specialties" (May 2, 2006).
9. "Leadership Network's Top-Selling Books and Why" (Leadership Network Advance, November 2005, http://www.pursuant
10. "25 Most Influential Evangelicals" (Time, February 7, 2005).
11. Lori Leibovich, "Generation: A look inside fundamentalism's answer to MTV: the postmodern church" (Mother Jones, July/August 1998).
12. From Bob Bufor'’s website: