3 Things To Consider To Have A Balanced View of the Holidays

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Time and time again, we Christians go into a dispute over how we consider the holidays and everything that goes along with it. So I’ll address three issues here for I consider them as the most common that spills over social media. In this way we can give a balanced view of the holidays and enjoy it for God’s glory.

Ground it with facts and real history.  What does a history lesson got to do in celebrating with the holidays? It is to save faces and our testimony as a Christian that is. Whenever the holiday  comes, there are Christians that have some objections to some holidays. They will post their rant over Facebook for everyone to read. Whether it’s the use of the word Xmas or the practice of having Easter eggs, to the date of December 25, all seems to be a big pagan conspiracy that will keep Christians and unbelievers blinded by Satan. 

Sadly some so-called pagan origins of different holidays and traditions that comes with it are standing on faulty speculations, conspiracies and a whole lot of sensationalism. Although some believers meant it with all honesty, well being honest is not enough, even if your pastor told it . Honesty AND a healthy dose of facts with a well researched history will do the work.  Let’s throw in the hat some logic to add sense and dispel conspiracies. Do you love truth and want to please God? Get the facts straight! 

Have a biblical view of drinking and eating. You cannot separate holidays without sharing a hearty meal with your love ones.  That completes our holiday experience of being together. So how can we have a biblical view of drinking and eating? One common thing to do is to do it for the Lord.

Although the Bible condemns excessive drinking or drunkenness, it doesn’t prohibit drinking in itself. Many will object with this (and get bashed) however the Bible made it clear and we shouldn’t teach what is beyond what is already revealed.  Let us not put our own teachings against those already been instructed in God’s Word. So Christians go ahead drink, if you can handle alcohol and be moderate in drinking.

Some good Christians I know view drinking as evil, but resorts to eating to make up for not indulging to it. So they turn to eating as a way of consolation over something they consider prohibited by the Bible. Like excessive drinking, excessive eating is prohibited in the Bible. Both falls to the word, gluttony. The Bible declares it sinful. So we should have a moderate way of feasting that will connect us with our family, have fun and glorify God.

It’s an opportunity to get some rest and honor God through it. Although some holidays here in the Philippines are not geared for Christians like fiestas or Ramadan, it is not something for Christians to be guilty of if it feels like those non working holiday are like making us observing those events. Rather drag ourselves to still go to the office (if possible) and seek consolation of having a double pay, we should rest and don’t feel bad about it. It’s beneficial to the physical and spiritual well-being. And God will be honored with your rest. That goes also to churches and ministries that have employees or workers. Don’t let your workers get caught in traffic because of the religious parade just because you don’t want to observe the holiday.

Another thing, churches and ministries should consider not grabbing the opportunity for holding some activities and programs during holidays. Rather that to rest and be with the family as a blessing, churches will likely have an event for believers that could have been set on other time or day. Let us keep in mind in those family gatherings, God might use your members to reach out his loved ones.

I hope this article brought some clarity on what we should do with the holidays. Believers should be reminded that these are not doctrinal errors but a matter of preference that Christians has as freedom to agree or disagree without being legalistic. In these non essential things, may we show grace to one another as Christ showed grace to us sinners. Isn’t that what a popular holiday in December is all about?

8 Favorite Quotes From the Book “The New Testament in Seven Sentences” by Gary M. Burge

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I always look forward for October because it’s our cottage prayer meeting at our house. Our cottage prayer meeting consist of having our church members come to our home, have a 30 minute devotion led by our pastor and the rest is  fellowship over a meal. October is also the birth month of my father in law, sister in law, wife and our daughter. So it’s fitting to celebrate the birthdays by having a cottage prayer meeting. This year will be held at my parents house. Aside from the birthdays it will be a thankagiving celebration because of how God sustains my father in law through his dialysis. Please consider praying for us specially that the gospel may be preach and God may open my relatives heart as they hear the message.

Anyways, here’s some quotes from book by Gary M. Burge, The New Testament in Seven Sentences, published by 10 of Inter Varsity Press. If you like these quotes, please get yourself a copy of this book by ordering at IVP.

“This is the mission of the church. This is the task of God’s people who have followed Jesus since his resurrection and ascension. We don’t simply equip people to go to heaven; we invest in kingdom building here on the earth.”

“…the Hebrew experience of God’s kingly rule had two dimensions. God ruled the present—sustaining nature and guaranteeing Israel’s present experiences in history. And God ruled the future—promising that his vision could see what was to come and his power could bring about his will. God ruled the future, and this meant he would decide how the future would unfold and how human history would end.”

“There is a difference between the experience of grace and recognizing it as a primary Christian (or Jewish) doctrine. The New Testament—from Jesus to Paul—wants to press us to return to first principles: that God has been working on our behalf throughout history and that this has been seen with pristine clarity in the arrival of Jesus.”

“The church that we know so well is thus not simply a collection of believers who have faith in Jesus. It is a community of men and women who are living out the mission given to Abraham four thousand years ago. The church is thus the “tribe of Abraham” now joined to a messianic mission that began with Jesus.”

Your identity was not exclusively anchored to what you believed intellectually about Jesus (though this was important). It was also anchored to a dynamic experience of God that could be quantified only with difficulty. As in Nicodemus’s conversation with Jesus (John 3), the Spirit is like the wind, which blows unpredictably. No one doubts its reality, but no one can calculate its movements.”

“The church in the New Testament is called the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27), which means not simply that the church belongs to Christ but that he indwells the church and gives the church its life. His Spirit indwells its members and equips them to sustain Jesus’ work so that it is not a cliché when we say that we are Jesus’ hands and feet in the world.”

“These Gospel writers believed that a colossal shift had taken place in Judaism—and in the world—and they are about to tell us what it is. And they knew it was going to be controversial. The Gospel writers do not shy away from the fact that whenever this story is told in full by Jesus, crowds are either won over or they are resistant and disturbed.”

“For the New Testament, the death of Christ was a turning point in history. God had shown his righteousness by achieving in Jesus our righteousness through a dramatic act of forgiveness on the cross.”

The Quotable Round-Up #115

rxrxbzuThere is new book that I would like to share with you that will hit the shelves on May. It’s from Jen Pollock Michel and the title of the book is Surprised by Paradox. I’m again involved with the book launching team and I’m happy to share the review and quotes from the book.  Surprised by Paradox will be released on May 14, but you can pre-order it on Amazon by clicking this link. While waiting for the release of the book, here are some great quotes from that book.

“Modernity gave us more certainty than uncertainty—or at the very least certainty in certainty. We’ve come to an unassailable confidence that mystery, by dint of inquiry and scientific effort, can be wrestled and pinned down and made to cry uncle. We are no longer victims of the unknowable: we are masters of our own understanding. The great modern lie is one of infinite human autonomy and control.”

As soon as we think we have God figured out, we will have ceased to worship him as he is. God, in his very being, is inscrutable and unsearchable. We do not approach God with the powers of logic, and should we try, we’re sure to stumble over the rock that is the crucified Christ.”

“We are tempted to look for God in the invisible, in the intangible, in the ethereal—and the God of Spirit is invisible, intangible, and ethereal. But the incarnation is also the death of abstraction. Salvation came through a body, redemption through a man. An unbounded, incorporeal God of Spirit clothed himself with flesh and entered the world of matter, never fearing that the act would sully his holiness.”

“The first sin was not only our love of the gift, it was our preference for the gift over the Giver. Sin distorted our relationship to the material world. Creation was no longer a means of knowing and serving and praising God, but a means of satisfying our own greedy appetites.”

“Life-changing encounters with God can begin with something as unremarkable as this: the unheroic decision to turn aside and pay paradox a little bit attention.”

“The paradox of God’s story is that He’s chosen to write it’s timelessness in the ticking heart of His Son and that he’s choosing to write it in our hearts too.”

“God solved the “divine dilemma” by sending his Son as a man, who would both pay the penalty for sin and reclaim humanity’s glory.”  

The Quotable Round-Up #96

npjl5idHeads up guys! time for some 7 awesome quotes from a Christian book. This time we shall enjoy quotes from “Rebels Rescued: A Student’s  If you were blessed by this book, please consider getting it on Amazon or at your nearest bookstore! Grace and Peace!

“Without God’s grace performing a divine heart transplant, everything in us seeks to rebel against God.” — Brian Cosby, Rebels Rescued: A Students Guide to Reformed Theology

“The consequence of sin, therefore, is death. But what about the little sins? Do those deserve death too? This is important. All sin—as the Bible teaches—is rebellion against God.” — Brian Cosby, Rebels Rescued: A Students Guide to Reformed Theology

“Reformed theology teaches from Scripture that, before God created the heavens and the earth, he has chosen—or “predestined”—his people to be saved for eternity.” — Brian Cosby, Rebels Rescued: A Students Guide to Reformed Theology

“One of the common objections to predestination is: “If God has already elected those who will be saved, then why evangelize?” It’s a good question and there are at least two primary reasons. First, we share the gospel because Jesus commands us to (Matthew 28:19). Second, we share the gospel because it is the means by which God saves his elect—through the hearing of the preached word (Romans 10:17).” — Brian Cosby, Rebels Rescued: A Students Guide to Reformed Theology

 “Apart from God’s grace in giving us new hearts to love him, we remain chained and imprisoned by sin and unbelief. There is no freedom apart from God’s work of grace and it’s grace precisely because his salvation is something we don’t deserve.” — Brian Cosby, Rebels Rescued: A Students Guide to Reformed Theology

“As a physically dead person cannot do anything that is physically productive, a spiritually dead person cannot do anything that is spiritually good. Being spiritually dead means that we are unable to respond to anything good. The issue is not freedom to do something, but ability.” — Brian Cosby, Rebels Rescued: A Students Guide to Reformed Theology

“Our hearts deceive us into thinking that the things of this world will bring great joy, only to be duped. Enjoying the pleasures of this world offer small joy—and oftentimes fake joy—compared to the enjoyment and satisfaction found in God.” — Brian Cosby, Rebels Rescued: A Students Guide to Reformed Theology

The Quotable Round-Up #86

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Howdy! It’s a great day to sit down, chill and sip your favorite drink! And while at it, add some awesomeness in your day by reading our latest collection of quotes.  This time we are featuring fresh quotes from the book “Good News: The Gospel of Jesus Christ” by John F. MacArthur Jr. And if you got stoked with these quotes, please get the book at your nearest Christian bookstore or on Amazon.

“The message of the gospel is the message of reconciliation. The alienated sinner can be reconciled to God. That’s what we pray for, it’s what we teach, and it’s why we live. Some even die for it. It is the unparalleled message of reconciliation with God through the work of Christ. We have been given the ministry of reconciliation.”

“The only reason God has kept us in the world is for the work of evangelism. Yes, we’re saved to worship, but God tolerates our imperfect worship on this side of eternity for the sake of adding to His kingdom. We’re also saved to be sanctified, but God tolerates our inadequate, incomplete sanctification to keep us here to evangelize. He endures all our consistent errors and failures because He has work for us here that we cannot accomplish in heaven.”

“The notion that God is a loving and compassionate Savior contradicts the core doctrines of the world’s religions. If you study the history of religion, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a savior god among them. When men and demons design gods, that’s simply not how they design them. Demonic religious systems don’t concoct deities anything like the God of the Bible. Instead, they generally range from indifferent to severely hostile.”

“We need to understand that reconciliation does not start with the sinner, or some cosmic cry that God responds to. We don’t have to ask God to accept the sinner—we don’t have to coax Him into it through pressure or praise. He is not reluctant to save. Reconciliation begins with God—it’s woven into His glorious nature.”

“We don’t sit in judgment of God’s judgment. The question is not, why did God send bears out of the woods to destroy a group of boys who yelled “bald head” at a prophet (2 Kings 2:23–24)? The question is not, why did the ground open up and swallow people whole for violating Old Testament law (Num. 16)? The question is not, why did God displace and destroy the idolatrous Canaanites? The question is not, why did God destroy the globe and preserve only Noah and his family? Those questions are easy to answer: the wages of sin—no matter how great or small the sin might seem to us—is always death (Rom. 6:23).”

“True reconciliation requires God’s forgiveness. The only way reconciliation can occur is if the offended party is willing to forgive and remove the barrier sin creates. The sinner cannot reconcile himself to God. Only the Lord can effect reconciliation by choosing not to count our trespasses against us.”

“We ought to cling to the vital doctrine of God’s sovereignty. But don’t ever let your view of sovereignty overwhelm or obscure the fact that sinners have a responsibility to respond to God—and we have a responsibility to beg them to do so. God accomplishes His reconciling work through—not in spite of—the obedience of faith from those He calls to be reconciled.”

 

The Quotable Round Up #13

As I have said last week, the recently concluded Manila International Book Fair proves that Filippinos love books and spirituality. It’s a great venue to share the gospel and let Christ shine. Although that is the case, I also observe that majority of teens and young adults go for romance and anime themed books. Adults are more geared towards anything spiritual. With this observation, I think Christian publishers should further strengthen their reach for teens and young adults. I hope and pray they produce more books that are gospel driven. Now for our weekly dose of quotes:
“Every believer is called to ministry. We’re called to see that all of the tasks of the kingdom take place-that the poor are ministered to, the gospel is proclaimed, the Word of God is taught, and worship takes place.”
–R. C. Sproul
“A means of grace is a tool or instrument that God uses to strengthen and nurture us so that we grow in conformity to Christ. We don’t always think about service as a means of grace, but we grow as we serve. The more we are able to serve in the kingdom of God, the more Christ like we become.”
–R. C. Sproul

“We know that God is not restricted to the building, but we are aware that this is a sacred hour that God has set apart and declared to be a holy time of visitation between Himself and His people. So we leave worldly cares and concerns for a while and focus on God. We come to hear a word from God, and it is the pastor’s responsibility to make sure what we hear from the pulpit is the Word of God, not pop psychology. The power is in the Word, for it is the truth.”
–R. C. Sproul

“The primary reason to be in church is to worship the living God, and for this we must bring a sense of reverence and adoration for His transcendent majesty.”
— R. C. Sproul

“Once we believe into Christ and embrace Christ, then we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who is, in reality, Christ in us. So the mystical union is that once we are born of the Spirit and are given the gift of faith and move into Christ, then we are in Christ and Christ is in us.”
–R. C. Sproul

“The whole basis for our relationship to God is grace. It is not something we earn or deserve or purchase. It is a gift.”
–R. C. Sproul

“The atoning death of Christ gave us a new, freer kind of access to the Father. Christ won for us peace with God and the end of estrangement.”
— R. C. Sproul

A.W. Pink on Holy Fear

Arthur W. Pink in one of his writings states:

It is true that believers are bidden to fear Him which is able to destroy both body and soul in Hell (Matt. 10: 28), yet it should be pointed out that there is a vast difference between fearing God and dreading eternal punishment: in the parallel and fuller passage Christ added, yea, I say unto you, fear Him (Luke 12:5)-not fear Hell. one of the covenant promises which God has made concerning His elect is, I will put My fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Me (Jer. 32:40), and that is a filial fear, a respect for His authority, an awesome veneration of His majesty; whereas the fear of the unregenerate is a is a servile, anxious and tormenting one. The holy fear of the righteous causes them to be vigilant and watchful against those ways which lead to destruction, but the fear of the wicked is occupied only with destruction itself: the one is concerned about evils which occasion God’s wrath; the other is confined to the effects of His wrath. But the exercise of faith and the operations of filial fear are not only principles which regulate the saint: the love of Christ constrains him; gratitude unto God for His wondrous grace has a powerful effect upon his conduct.

(Eternal Security: It’s Opposition by Arthur W. Pink)

6 Things the Gospel is NOT

Here are some common misconceptions about the gospel today. If Jesus Christ will ask you what the gospel is, what will your reply will be?

  1. The gospel is NOT about going to heaven– that’s half the story. The gospel is getting God Himself and making much of Him.
  2. The gospel is NOT about good works– good works salvation nullifies the saving grace of God and gives man warrant to boast there achievement to the face of His Creator. If salvation by works is true, then how much work does it need for you to be saved?
  3. The gospel is NOT about religion– I hear a lot of people taking about religion as if their religion suffered and died on the cross. Religion was mention a few times in the Bible sometimes in a negative light and has nothing to do about salvation. For those people I direct you to Psalms 22 and 53.
  4. The gospel is NOT about prosperity– many popular preachers today preach that if you accept Jesus you will be wealthy and healthy. That’s good but it’s unbiblical. Also you’ll end up blaming God for not having what you want.
  5. The gospel is NOT having good character– humility, selflessness, altruism are by means good traits. Man should have these characteristics. But that is not the gospel and it won’t even guarantee you everlasting life.
  6. The gospel is NOT about you– the gospel is all about Christ. It’s about God’s mercy and grace. You don’t have any part from election to glorification.

So what is the gospel? The gospel is about Jesus Christ and his finished work in the cross. You can’t add or lessen it. All you have to do is accept it as a gift. Looking at yourself by God’s standard (The 10 Commandments) you find that you can’t measure up. God is holy and just. And you’re not. God call it sin. It’s our rebellion against Him. Every sin we committed (will commit) deserves eternal separation. That’s why there is hell. But God is so rich in mercy he made a way for us to be saved. He sends Jesus Christ to die on our behalf that we might stand blameless before God. We don’t deserve mercy. God won’t accept you unless you repent and believe the gospel.  Cry for His mercy today. You won’t be guaranteed another day.

(Originally from my Facebook Notes, 1 September 2011)

Book Review: The Attributes of God: A Journey into the Father’s Hear Vol. 1 t by A.W. Tozer

It’s such a blessing to be able to read great books. I got two of them last week at PCBS (Philippine Christian Bookstore). One is “The Attributes of God” by A.W. Tozer and the other is the much anticipated book by John Piper simply titled “Think”. I’ll post a book review on Pipers book by next week, but for now, let’s put “The Attributes of God” into the fray.

When books about doctrine comes to our minds we dismiss it as an avalanche of cold theological jargons ready to make rampage which those made of steel theologians on ivory towers will appreciate. But not with this book by Tozer. Leaping out of the beginning pages are his joy over these attributes. I think Tozer, when delivering these series of sermon (for which this book came), is enthusiastically ecstatic over the pulpit. It’s a surprise for me to find how joy on these subjects from the early chapters of this book. Christian Hedonism anyone?

While the subject of attributes is something hard for us to grasp, Tozer puts forth his fatherly pastoral care in painstakingly letting you comprehend it not just by mind but by your heart. He is gladly serving solid scriptural food but he carefully “mashes” it up for you to easily digest it, without losing its vital “nutrients” essential for the Christian. Being spoon feed by Tozer of these subjects doesn’t let you stay dependent on letting him feed you all the way rather makes you want to grab the spoon and feast on the spiritual meal yourself.

Tozer doesn’t just put forth his fatherly love over this book but still maintain the “20th century prophet” mark in every page. He reproves the church that need to know more about God and be sensitive over Him. Also sprinkled with solid biblical teaching that will reinforce subjects like salvation and many others. Such a sweet blend of these styles of conveying doctrine makes your read a delight for the mind and heart.

Just a reminder though, like any journey there are some uphill climb and rugged terrain for readers. As you walk to chapters you’ll find some of it. However, in the end of it all, a bright horizon awaits everyone who makes patience a virtue. Half of the book is a study guide prepared by David Fessenden.

Notable Quotes:

“Justice is not something that God has. Justice is something that God is.”

“Mercy, however, is God’s goodness confronting human guilt, whereas grace is God’s goodness confronting human demerit.”

“When the grace of God becomes operative through faith in Jesus Christ then there is the new birth.”

“The judgment of God is God’s justice confronting moral inequity and iniquity.”

“The goodness of God is the only valid reason for existence, the only reason underlying all things.”

“If God was willing, it was the happy willingness of God.”

“Christianity is a gateway into God.”

I commend OMF for putting out this book because this kind of truth is badly needed for the church today. We need to know Him more than anything to draw near to Him and find everlasting joy. Available at National Bookstores and Philippine Christian Bookstores for P 250.00 get your copies now.