Is that all church is to you – just a conditioned response – just a habit?

I won’t be posting this for a few days, but here are my thoughts from last Sunday morning.

Our home is located not far from a church that rings its bells 15 minutes prior to the commencement of worship and then again 2Pavlov's Dog minutes before. We don’t normally have an opportunity to hear the second set clarion because we have used the first to get us in our car to make the five minute drive to the church we previously attended.

However, our decision to be involved in the establishment of Hills Bible Church has meant that we no longer attend our previous church. And our worship services at Hills are currently held Sunday afternoons rather than during the traditional morning time slot. So now we hear both sets of church bells.

Perhaps it’s a Pavlov’s Dog thing. Every time we hear the church bells ring, we have a desire to get in our car and drive to church.

Is that all church is to us – just a conditioned response – just a habit? Is “church’ simply something we’ve done since childhood and we don’t know how else to fill our Sundays? Continue reading Is that all church is to you – just a conditioned response – just a habit?

God and Technology Video Series

Nathan W. Bingham writes in his blog:Video

The rise of technology has created many questions and concerns, especially for Christians. How does a Christian respond to technology? Is technology evil? How do we protect our children from sinister online influences?

Dr. David Murray has begun a video series examining technology with the first video entitled, The Digital Revolution . He has subsequently posted videos entitled,  God Created Technology Internet AddictionThe Internet: Three Choices and Internet Safety Training for Kids . I’m not sure of all the questions Murray will answer in this series, but so far it looks as if it will be a very helpful resource for Christians living in the 21st century.

These videos can be viewed on the Hills Bible Church website. Go to Resources/Videos and click on Dr. David Murray’s series.

Four Essential Christian Habits

There are four essential Christian habits for spiritual growth. Whenever one or more of these is neglected, the result is a Christian who chooses to stunt his or herDevotion spiritual growth.

1. BIBLE READING…

a. The Word of God is crucial to growing spiritually –  1 Peter 2:2

b. David described the value of God’s Word – Psalms 19:7 – 11

He also illustrated the blessedness and fortitude of one who meditated daily on the Word of God – Psalms 1:1-3

The Christian who wants to grow spiritually must therefore develop the habit of daily Bible reading…

– Such as reading through the Bible each year (about 3 chapters a day). Or perhaps the New Testament one year, the Old Testament the next.

— By feeding upon God’s Word daily, we receive the spiritual nourishment necessary to grow; have you developed the habit of daily Bible reading?
Continue reading Four Essential Christian Habits

The Shack – Oprah would love this book!

The Shack – a popular “Christian Novel” written by William Paul Young has been in the Top 10 sellers list for months.

The cover reads:

Mackenzie Allen Philip’s youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in and abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later, in the midst of his “Great Sadness”, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to the shack for a weekend.

Against his better judgement, he arrives at the shack on a wintery afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s world forever.

In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant, THE SHACK wrestles with the timeless question: Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain? The answer Mak gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You will want everyone to read this book.”

Well, I finally got around to reading this book of fiction, endorsed by Eugene Petersen. So that makes it OK, right? Continue reading The Shack – Oprah would love this book!

Martin Luther – Faith and Good Works

I received this in an email from a friend.Martin Luther Denkmal

“If they had a social gospel in the days of the prodigal son, somebody would have given him a bed and a sandwich and he never would have gone home.

There is a trend today that would put a new robe on the prodigal son while he is still feeding hogs. Some would put the ring on his finger while he still in the pigsty. Others would paint the pigsty and advocate bigger and better hog pens.”

It was her rather cynical comment concerning the ‘social gospel’ replacing the gospel of the Bible.

It reminded me of Martin Luther’s words about faith and the good works that flow from it.

Continue reading Martin Luther – Faith and Good Works

Can We Learn From This? Building a New Church

internationalLast Sunday I attended the church in which my wife and I were actively involved prior to moving permanently to Australia. In many ways things hadn’t changed all that much, but in others it is an entirely different church.

Located in one of Vancouver’s affluent suburbs, it had been a church made up almost exclusively of an Anglo/European membership. Many of those people still attend. However, in the twenty plus years we have been away, the community in which the church is located has seen a dramatic increase in Asian immigration, most of whom are young professionals. At the same time, an equal number of Asians with a less affluent background have moved into the area serving as domestic help both to the Anglo/European and Asian professionals. This latter group of new migrants has been attracted to the church through an ESL program run by volunteers from the church. Continue reading Can We Learn From This? Building a New Church

3 Components of Faith – C.H. Spurgeon

What is faith? It is made up of three things—knowledge, belief, and trust.
Knowledge comes first. “How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?” I want to be informed of a fact before I can possibly believe it. “Faith cometh by hearing”; we must first hear, in order that we may know what is to be believed. “They that know thy name shall put their trust in thee.” A measure of knowledge is essential to faith; hence the importance of getting knowledge. “Incline your ear, and come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live.” Such was the word of the ancient prophet, and it is the word of the gospel still. Search the Scriptures and learn what the Holy Spirit teacheth concerning Christ and His salvation. Seek to know God: “For he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” May the Holy Spirit give you the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord! Know the gospel: know what the good news is, how it talks of free forgiveness, and of change of heart, of adoption into the family of God, and of countless other blessings. Know especially Christ Jesus the Son of God, the Saviour of men, united to us by His human nature, and yet one with God; and thus able to act as Mediator between God and man, able to lay His hand upon both, and to be the connecting link between the sinner and the Judge of all the earth. Endeavour to know more and more of Christ Jesus. Endeavour especially to know the doctrine of the sacrifice of Christ; for the point upon which saving faith mainly fixes itself is this— “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” Know that Jesus was “made a curse for us, as it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” Drink deep of the doctrine of the substitutionary work of Christ; for therein lies the sweetest possible comfort to the guilty sons of men, since the Lord “made him to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Faith begins with knowledge.
The mind goes on to believe that these things are true. The soul believes that God is, and that He hears the cries of sincere hearts; that the gospel is from God; that justification by faith is the grand truth which God hath revealed in these last days by His Spirit more clearly than before. Then the heart believes that Jesus is verily and in truth our God and Saviour, the Redeemer of men, the Prophet, Priest, and King of His people. All this is accepted as sure truth, not to be called in question. I pray that you may at once come to this. Get firmly to believe that “the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s dear Son, cleanseth us from all sin”; that His sacrifice is complete and fully accepted of God on man’s behalf, so that he that believeth on Jesus is not condemned. Believe these truths as you believe any other statements; for the difference between common faith and saving faith lies mainly in the subjects upon which it is exercised. Believe the witness of God just as you believe the testimony of your own father or friend. “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater.”
So far you have made an advance toward faith; only one more ingredient is needed to complete it, which is trust. Commit yourself to the merciful God; rest your hope on the gracious gospel; trust your soul on the dying and living Saviour; wash away your sins in the atoning blood; accept His perfect righteousness, and all is well. Trust is the lifeblood of faith; there is no saving faith without it. The Puritans were accustomed to explain faith by the word “recumbency.” It meant leaning upon a thing. Lean with all your weight upon Christ. It would be a better illustration still if I said, fall at full length, and lie on the Rock of Ages. Cast yourself upon Jesus; rest in Him; commit yourself to Him. That done, you have exercised saving faith. Faith is not a blind thing; for faith begins with knowledge. It is not a speculative thing; for faith believes facts of which it is sure. It is not an unpractical, dreamy thing; for faith trusts, and stakes its destiny upon the truth of revelation. That is one way of describing what faith is.
Let me try again. Faith is believing that Christ is what He is said to be, and that He will do what He has promised to do, and then to expect this of Him. The Scriptures speak of Jesus Christ as being God, God is human flesh; as being perfect in His character; as being made of a sin-offering on our behalf; as bearing our sins in His own body on the tree. The Scripture speaks of Him as having finished transgression, made an end of sin, and brought in everlasting righteousness. The sacred records further tell us that He “rose again from the dead,” that He “ever liveth to make intercession for us,” that He has gone up into the glory, and has taken possession of Heaven on the behalf of His people, and that He will shortly come again “to judge the world in righteousness, and his people with equity.” We are most firmly to believe that it is even so; for this is the testimony of God the Father when He said, “This is my beloved Son; hear ye him.” This also is testified by God the Holy Spirit; for the Spirit has borne witness to Christ, both in the inspired Word and by divers miracles, and by His working in the hearts of men. We are to believe this testimony to be true.
Faith also believes that Christ will do what He has promised; that since He has promised to cast out none that come to Him, it is certain that He will not cast usout if we come to Him. Faith believes that since Jesus said, “The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everasting life, it must be true; and if we get this living Water from Christ it will abide in us, and will well up within us in streams of holy life. Whatever Christ has promised to do He will do, and we must believe this, so as to look for pardon, justification, preservation, and eternal glory from His hands, according as He has promised them to believers in Him.
Then comes the next necessary step. Jesus is what He is said to be, Jesus will do what He says He will do; therefore we must each one trust Him, saying, “He will be to me what He says He is, and He will do to me what He has promised to do; I leave myself in the hands of Him who is appointed to save, that He may save me. I rest upon His promise that He will do even as He has said.” This is a saving faith, and he that hath it hath everlasting life. Whatever his dangers and difficulties, whatever his darkness and depression, whatever his infirmities and sins, he that believeth thus on Christ Jesus is not condemned, and shall never come into condemnation.
May that explanation be of some service! I trust it may be used by the Spirit of God to direct my reader into immediate peace. “Be not afraid; only believe.” Trust, and be at rest.
My fear is lest the reader should rest content with understanding what is to be done, and yet never do it. Better the poorest real faith actually at work, than the best ideal of it left in the region of speculation. The great matter is to believe on the Lord Jesus at once. Never mind distinctions and definitions. A hungry man eats though he does not understand the composition of his food, the anatomy of his mouth, or the process of digestion: he lives because he eats. Another far more clever person understands thoroughly the science of nutrition; but if he does not eat he will die, with all his knowledge. There are, no doubt, many at this hour in Hell who understood the doctrine of faith, but did not believe. On the other hand, not one who has trusted in the Lord Jesus has ever been cast out, though he may never have been able intelligently to define his faith. Oh dear reader, receive the Lord Jesus into your soul, and you shall live forever! “He that believeth in Him hath everlasting life.”

What is faith? It is made up of three things—knowledge, belief, and trust.

C H Spurgeon

1. Knowledge Comes First.

“How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?” I want to be informed of a fact before I can possibly believe it. “Faith cometh by hearing”; we must first hear, in order that we may know what is to be believed. “They that know thy name shall put their trust in thee.” A measure of Continue reading 3 Components of Faith – C.H. Spurgeon

4 Essential Reasons to Study Doctrine

young man reading small bibleWe live in an anti-intellectual, anti-authority society, especially when it comes to religious matters. Ours is an existential (based on human experience) society devoted to the ‘warm fuzzy’ feel good, self-centered mentality that is so characteristic of the Post Modernist Era which has influenced  our nation—including much of the church.

As a consequence, the terms doctrine or theology are not very popular in Christian circles. In fact, they are often denigrated or belittled. We hear statements like, “We don’t need to know all that theological or doctrinal stuff. We just need to know Jesus.” Or, “Well, I am not a theologian and never expect to be. I just love Jesus.” But knowing and loving Jesus in truth is dependent on the teachings of the Bible. Doctrine is simply another name for teaching and theology means “the knowledge of God.”

Continue reading 4 Essential Reasons to Study Doctrine

6 Reasons for Prayer From Calvin

John Calvin…John Calvin

“…it is very important for us to call upon him: First, that our hearts may be fired with a zealous and burning desire ever to seek, love and serve him, while we become accustomed in every need to flee to him as to a sacred anchor. Secondly, that there may enter our hearts no desire and no wish at all of which we should be ashamed to make him a witness, while we learn to set all our wishes before his eyes, and even to pour out our whole hearts. Thirdly, that we be prepared to receive his benefits with true gratitude of heart and thanksgiving, benefits that our prayer reminds us come from his hand [cf. ]. Fourthly, moreover, that, having obtained what we were seeking, and being convinced that he has answered our prayers, we should be led to meditation upon his kindness more ardently. And fifthly, that at the same time we embrace with greater delight those things which we acknowledge to have been obtained by prayers. Finally, that use and experience may, according to the measure of our feebleness, confirm his providence, while we understand not only that he promises never to fail us, and of his own will opens the way to call upon him at the very point of necessity, but also that he ever extends his hand to help his own, not wet-nursing them with words but defending them with present help.”

Taken from Institutes of the Christian Religion (Book Three, Chapter XX)

15 The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.