Thursday, January 27, 2011

What should have been said theatre: Joel Osteen interviewed by Piers Morgan (homosexuality)


Well once more Joel Osteen has been on TV and once more he's left a nasty taste in the mouth of all those who are truly born again believers and at the same time angered the LGBT community.  The crazy thing, is that during the interview I found myself torn.  On the one hand I applaud Piers Morgan for doing what other interviewers have yet been unable to do and that is to get Joel to actually mutter the word 'sin'.  Good on ya.  Further I, with Mr. Morgan, wanted desperately for Joel to just be clear.  Get deeper into what he actually believes and just be clear.

Now, on the other hand... I agreed with some of what Joel said.  Emphasis on the word SOME.  Let's pick this apart discerningly with the goal of helping believers and homosexuals alike better understand the issue... and hopefully in the process we can clear up the mess Joel made and complete his statements RIGHTLY!

Is homosexuality a sin? Yes.  It is not the created order of God.  It is the product of a fallen world, with fallen people, who act on their fallen sinful nature.  Further, it is harmoniously condemned in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Leviticus 18:22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.

Leviticus 20:13 If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.

Romans 1:26–27 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

1 Corinthians 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,

1 Timothy 1:9–10 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine,

On that point, that homosexuality is a sin, I completely agree with Joel.  His next statement was that the church, however, picks certain issues and sins to bash on.  I agree with him on this as well.  Some so-called Christians do this and it is wrong.  It is not right to isolate one sin and label it as worse than others.  All sin is sin and all sin is damning.

Those churches that focus on hatefulness towards one issue or another are in error, and need to be called to repentance themselves.

Joel then says that homosexuality "isn't God's best".  God's best?  No, homosexuality is sin... it isn't so simple and trite as it not being God's best... no sin is God's best.  The issue with sin isn't the fact that it isn't "God's best"  The issue is the consequences due to us all for sin... 

He goes on to say that sin means to "miss the mark".  Actually, according to Romans 3:23, sin means to fall short of God's glory.  Romans 3:23 - 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

We have to look at two key things in this verse from the Greek.  The Greek phrase ‘fall short’ is hustereo (  It means ‘to lack’, ‘to fail to reach the mark in obtaining something’.  Now, the Greek word for glory is doxa (dox.ah).  It refers to the magnificence and splendor that belongs only to God.  The Kingly majesty that belongs only to Christ.

Now put that all together and we can best understand this part of our text this morning that our falling short of God’s Glory isn’t just some small shortcoming.  It isn’t as though we were close to perfect but missed the mark just a tad.  Oh no, it is much worse than that.

We lack completely and totally the requirements needed to even stand before God, let alone be innocent before Him.  That’s the severity.  THAT'S what sin is!

Joel is still failing to preach the Biblical Gospel.  I would submit to you that Joel is not loving for neglecting to preach the full Biblical Gospel, he is a cruel individual for it.  It was wicked of Joel to label homosexuality a sin and then not explain sin better and then not explain Jesus and forgiveness of sin.

God did NOT tell us to judge people's salvation.  But we are to clearly define what sin is according to what God's Word says.  We are to clearly define sin and what the implications of sin are and show everyone... everyone, not just the homosexual, but everyone that the God's perfect standard (His Law: Exodus 20).  Reveals their sin to them and declares that they will be held accountable for it!  Hebrews 9:27 - It is appointed a man once to die and then the judgment.

At mark 3:31 Joel comes the closest he's ever been to the Biblical Gospel, although still far short.  What he should have said to Piers is that it isn't just that the homosexual is a sinner, it is that WE ALL ARE!  We are all sinners and every last one of us is going to stand before a Holy God in judgment and we will either be punished for our sins or we will enter into Heaven having had our sins forgiven and paid for in this life by Jesus Christ and His blood shed on the cross!

The homosexual or the liar or the thief or the murderer or any other person isn't going to hell just because of one issue... they are going to hell because of ALL their sin... 

James 2:10 - For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.

Then , at mark 3:52, Piers asks Joel... what would you say to a homosexual if they were there right then.

Joel says "I don't know that I understand it all"

What might have been a better answer that actually spoke to the Scriptures he is claiming to live by so much?
How about, 'Piers, what I would have said is that homosexuality is a sin just like all other sin.  And the Bible says in Romans 6:23 that the wages of sin is death.  I would plead with my homosexual friend and tell them that they are going to die one day just like every other person ever born.  And on that day they will stand before God accountable for their sin.  And any "good" or "nice" things they did on this earth won't be what He judges them by, it will be by His perfect standard.  His Law... and since they've broken His law just like everyone else, they will be guilty.  And God, being a good and Holy Just God MUST punish them and send them to Hell where their sins have put them.  But that God being rich in mercy and great in LOVE sent Jesus Christ to redeem them from the curse of the Law.  That while they were yet dead in their sins, Christ died for the ungodly so that if they will repent.  He will be faithful and good to forgive them.  Not because they are a person who deserves forgiveness because none of us do.  But because He is a good God who has done an amazing thing in Jesus Christ.'

Then, if I were Joel, I would have just said that I would plead with that homosexual or with Piers or any other sinner to give sober thought to the Word of God and consider their sin... and when the weight of their sin became real to them so much so that they realize they have offended and transgressed against the God who gave them life, to flee from that sin and throw themselves on His mercy for forgiveness and He will forgive.  John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that He sent His Only Begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish but have everlasting life. 

What a fantastic promise made by God, that all those who call upon His Name, with a repentant heart, shall be saved!

That concludes this episode of "What should have been said theatre."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pastor's Bookshelf: Holy, Holy, Holy: Proclaiming the Perfections of God

Holy, Holy, Holy: Proclaiming the Perfections of God is a profound look at God's Holiness as seen in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  How our Trinitarian God is intrinsically Holy and Just in all things.  This book drove me to my Bible (as any good theological book should) and left me once more in awe of the God whom I serve.

God is Holy.  He says so of Himself and proves to be so in all of His works.  How many of us truly understand (at least from what we can understand) God's Holiness?  In His Holiness we find the reasons for His grace, mercy, love, and even His wrath and justice. 

Written by such great men of the word such as R.C. Sproul, Thabiti Anyabwile, Allistar Begg, D.A. Carson, Sinclair Ferguson, Robert Godfrey, Steve Lawson, R.C Sproul Jr., and Derek Thomas.

Each author brings a unique perspective to the table as they look at everything from the Holiness of God to how it should look when applied to our lives and even take you through how it should look as we endeavor to raise our children in the ways of the Lord. 

Absolutely fantastic book and I highly recommend it to ANYONE.  It is deep enough to challenge students of the Word but written simply enough that even a new convert will be able to understand the concepts outlined.

You can purchase this book from Ligonier Ministries.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Not ‘Change the Question’ – Find the CORRECT Answer…

Recently an article was posted to a Baptist association website in my area.  It proposes that we ask certain questions to figure out better strategies of how to do ‘effective’ church more or less.

There is a fundamental flaw to the line of thinking set forth in the article.  The problem with most churches isn’t that they are asking the wrong questions but rather they are coming up with the wrong answers.  They come up with the wrong answers because they are seeking answers from a man-centered point of view.

By God’s grace I’ll address the issue without pride and I think the best way to do that is to take apart the questions line by line and suggest the answers that should be invariably the same across the board whether you are a large church or a small church.  There discussed and proposed questions are marked as Question #1-9, and then my proposed answers follow.

Question #1:  “Not long ago, I had a conversation with someone about some issues in that person's home church. Here are the some of the questions they were asking: Why are people leaving our church”

As with any question in life at all the first place we should seek an answer is the Bible.  What are some possible BIBLICAL reasons that a person or family might leave our church fellowship

Reason #1 - Perhaps those individuals were false converts or non-believers to begin with.  We’ll start with a worst case scenario.

1 John 2:18-19 - Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.  19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.

John is writing to the churches over whom he has apostleship and they were obviously concerned over the departure of some of the members of their fellowship.  These individuals, whom John says are among the antichrists that will rise from time to time, were likely Gnostics who had never been born again to begin with.  They were either unbelievers who had crept in to deceive or false converts who had never truly repented and trusted Christ and so they were easily susceptible to false teaching of any kind.

What do we do with those types that leave because they don’t like the truth of the Gospel that is being taught from the pulpit?  We absolutely do NOT pass judgment on them and assume that while they may be yet unconverted they are beyond God’s grace.  This simply is not true.  No one is too sinful to be redeemed by our Sovereign God.

If they have left and it is because they are false converts it is better for them to leave lest they store up more wrath for themselves on the Day of Judgment (Romans 2:5).  If they are unwilling to repent, it is better that they not sit in church pretending to be Christian.  God desires sincerity in worship (Isaiah 1:10-20).  That does not in any case permit us to write them off.  We should continue to love them and definitely continue to share the truth of the Gospel with them imploring them to repent and be reconciled to Christ.  Not so that they will rejoin our fellowship and our numbers will stay high, but because we are chiefly concerned about their eternal welfare.

You may be asking, how do we know if that is the reason they left?  Is it our place to make that call?  Well I would say use extreme caution on these grounds.  Rather than trying to figure out if that is the exact reason they left, take John’s word as a possible reason that they left and let it motivate you to a deeper compassion for them.  Keep in mind though that if your end goal is getting them back in the pew, it will be sniffed out and your efforts are in vain.

Another possible reason, on the flipside of reason #1, would be:

Reason #2 - They left because they ARE born again believers and your church ISN’T striving to proclaim the Biblical Gospel.

2 John 10-11 - If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting;  11 for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.

We are living in a day where unfortunately more churches are concerned with being hip and trendy over being Christocentric.  They are more in love with the a soft gospel that doesn’t mention sin or repentance and rather they proclaim a gospel that says, ‘Get saved and life will be great.’  That type of Gospel doesn’t save because it isn’t true (Galatians 1:6-10).  It may well be that the answer to your question begins with you examining everything your church preaches and teaches and does in ministry through the lens of Scripture.  Does everything you preach point your flock away from sin and towards Christ?  Does it bring man low and exalt God?  Are you proclaiming sound doctrine even though it isn’t always popular (2 Timothy 1:12-14)?  If not, you’ve just identified the reason that faithful Christians are leaving your church.  The response, repent and get on the Biblical program (Mark 1:15) then go and be reconciled to that person and tell them of what God has shown you in His Word.

Question #2: “How can we get those that left to come back?  What’s the problem?”

At the risk of being accused of being cold hearted and uncaring, can I just say that if reason #1 is true then you don’t want them back.  Until they repent and are converted they are not going to be anything but a cancer on your fellowship.

If reason #2 is true then you won’t be able to persuade them to come back until they see proof that the church has changed to a more Christ-centered direction (and not MAN-centered)

Question #3: “Now, I am not suggesting that those are not legitimate questions. I am suggesting there is a question that is more powerful. Why would anyone want to come to our church? That question is not a criticism (unless we can't come up with a single answer for it). It is a way of refocusing.”     

Why indeed?  Why would anyone want to go to any church?  Well several reasons might be suggested and depending on your understanding of who church is being done for, you might come up with a plethora of answers…

That being the case, there must be an equalizer.  A standard starting point that all true churches must filter this question through.  Scripture is that starting point.  After all, the first thing a true church must affirm unwaveringly is that ALL Scripture is infallible, inerrant, and God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Some great foundational Scriptures to help a church begin assessing the health of their church might be:

John 21:15-17 - So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.”  16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.”  17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.

Romans 1:16-17 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”

1 Corinthians 2:1-2 - And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.  2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

1 Corinthians 10:31 - Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Ephesians 4:14-16 - As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;  15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,  16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

1 Timothy 4:16 - Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.

2 Timothy 1:7-14 - For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.  8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God,  9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,  10 but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,  11 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher.  12 For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.  13 Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.  14 Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.

Jude 3 - Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.

Do you see a theme just in those few verses?  What is the most essential thing in a church?  Sound doctrine.  Without sound doctrine, without sound teaching and preaching, how can you proclaim the Biblical Gospel?  Answer:  You can’t.  Without preaching the Biblical Gospel, no one will be saved Romans 10:14)!

Church is for the Believers, not the unbelievers… Do we want the lost to come?  Absolutely and we don’t want to do anything that hinders them from coming… but the primary role of the church is discipleship within its doors, not evangelism.  When Jesus gave the Great Commission He told us to “GO”.  That implies leaving our home, leaving the comfort of the four walls of our church to take the Gospel to a world that is full of lost and dying people.  The church should be welcoming and loving towards the lost person who comes to their church, but never ever ever at the expense of the truth of the Gospel (Galatians 1:6-10).

If anything we do that lost person a tremendous disservice when we water the truth of the Gospel down for their sake… We need to speak boldly to them, lovingly, explaining from every angle that we can muster about their sin and the just wrath of God due to them for that sin (Romans 7:7)… we need to proclaim to them with awe and reverence the great love of God for sinners, that He sent His only Son to die on the cross and take the full wrath of God… that whosoever would believe on Him would not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16, Romans 3:25, 1 John 4:10).

Question #4-8:  What do we have to offer ... What do we do well ... What are our strengths ... What sets us apart ... How is God "showing up" in our church?

Applying the above Scriptural principles, it should be a piece of cake to answer these.

What do we have to offer? Sound Biblical teaching and training of disciples. (Christocentric Discipleship)

What do we do well? Preach the unadjusted Gospel of Jesus Christ

What are our strengths? Strive to be a church that reflects Jesus Christ and shines His light in the world.

How is God “showing up” in our church?  I must confess I must wonder if God finds this question insulting… if those whom God has drawn unto Salvation, purchased by the Blood of Jesus Christ… if they are gathered together… God is there… Not that the people are God obviously… but we have the “Helper” the Holy Spirit to guide us and lead us… Again, our goal is how we can best glorify God… where do we find how to glorify God?  The Bible!

Question #9: Imagine what we might learn if we asked a new church member, "What drew you to our church?"

If the answer coming back from this “person” isn’t that they were drawn there because we love Jesus and we love truth and because of the love Christ has shown us we loved them… I don’t see any reason to take seriously any other answer…

The last paragraph read “Do you think it might empower our people if they heard that their lives and ministry investment actually impacted someone's life in a positive way? Do you think it might help us know how to be good stewards of our resources if we found out what ministries are truly having an impact (and maybe which ones aren't)? Do you think it might assist in the assimilation process if new members saw themselves as valuable resources to help the church expand its ministries rather than new blood (and money) to support current ministries?”

All of those questions are terribly man-centered… And as far as “assimilating” new believers…  let them join, be a part of your fellowship and enjoy worship and discipleship with the brethren… but be oh so cautious before putting a new member or new believer into leadership quickly… 1 Timothy 3:2 warns that new converts in leadership roles can easily become conceited and if so they can fall under condemnation.  Now, in fairness, that verse is specifically referring to the role of Elders in the church, however, I think it is a wise principle to apply in any leadership role.

I firmly believe we would begin to see a tremendous revival in this Nation if the preachers would all take the pulpit next Lord’s Day and begin to boldly, unashamedly, and lovingly proclaim the Biblical Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to their flock.

Yes, some will leave… they will. They will go out from the church because they were not a part of the true body of believers to begin with.  Some will likely be convicted of their sin and be drawn to repent and trust Christ for the very first time.  Either way, no matter what happens… Whether you have a church of 3, 30, or 300… God being glorified is your chief concern.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

How do we call ourselves a "civilized" people and yet allow this?

How can we claim to be so much more advanced than previous generations gone by and yet we allow the slaughter of over 4,000 babies per day in the United States alone.  May God have mercy on those who are committing these atrocities and may He Sovereignly choose to draw them unto repentance that they might repent of their sin, not just this but all their sin, and be forgiven by His matchless grace.  Placing their faith in Jesus Christ and hoping in Him alone for salvation.

Here me closely.  Abortion is murder.  Make no mistake.  However, if you have had an abortion... or you are the "doctor" (and I use that term loosely) who has performed an abortion, or the nurse that has aided one... or whatever your role... God will still forgive you.  You cannot out sin God's saving Hand.  Turn to Him this day and be forgiven.  He will forgive you not only for this, for this sin is not the only weight around your neck, but all your sin (1 John 1:9).  Jesus died to take the wrath of God for all your sin.  He is a sufficient and efficient Savior!

Trust Him today.  And to the Believers... rise up and proclaim the Gospel boldly in your communities.  The answer to the problem of rampant abortions is not going to be found in new legislation or hate campaigns... the only way lives and hearts will change is if God saves these individuals... God has called Christians to preach the unadjusted pure Gospel to the lost and dying world.  Let's get on it Christians, preach the Gospel to all that God might send a revival to our nation through the salvation of many!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Unbiblical Language Uses...

Ok, so what I would like you to do is post, in the comments section of this blog, a term or phrase that is unbiblical but is widely accepted and used in Christianity today.  Not words that describe Biblical theology, like the word Trinity, that just aren't spelled outright in the Bible.  But words or phrases that are NOT Biblical.  Please site the reason WHY you feel it is unbiblical and, if you would be so kind, suggest the phrase(s) that should be used and be sure to include verse references.  This should be interesting...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pastor's Bookshelf: The Jesus You Can't Ignore by John MacArthur

I am a long time fan of John MacArthur and so it should come as no surprise to anyone that knows me that I absolutely loved this book.  Again, sticking right with the Bible, John does a fantastic job of exploring all that the Bible says about the life and ministry of Christ.

This book is an insightful and eye-opening look into Jesus' earthly ministry.  Using Scripture, and Scripture alone, Dr. MacArthur opens the truth about Jesus' ministry and how He handled many different types of people.  It is very empowering to see how boldly Christ confronted false teachers and those who would today fall into the post-modern and emergent categories.  Empowering because as a true Christians in this era are criticized and even villified for taking hard stances on Scriptural truths.  

We are looked down upon by the post-moderns and nominal Christians for stressing the importance of sound doctrine and for defending the inerrancy of the Bible.  What the liberals fail to see is that without a right understanding of God and His Word you cannot proclaim truth.  That is to say that the Scriptures are the infallible word of God.  His revelation to us.  We must strive to understand this truth and defend any and all attacks on it.

The trend of subjective scripture interpretation and watered  down Gospel must be fought off strongly as a Shepherd fights off the ensuing wolves.  Because the world is so enchanted by subjective truth, especially when it comes to the Bible, many are following a Jesus that doesn't exist in Scripture.  Friends, if you follow a Jesus that it is not of the Bible, you follow a Christ that does not exist and cannot save you.  If you preach a different Jesus than Scripture, you preach a Gospel that does not save anyone.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Tithing - Part 2

So tithing is not a biblical practice or requirement for the New Testament church, why do we give?  Should we give at all?  And what did Jesus teach about giving and how much to give?

Matthew 6:19-21;24 - “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  20 “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;  21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also… 24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

He clearly teaches us that our value in this world is to be set on things above… not on money or possessions.  Children of God are to be a people of single-hearted devotion to God and God alone in all things.  So that is principle one in our effort to have a Biblical doctrine of giving.

Truthfully, if we were going to talk about Biblically following the word “tithing”, Old Covenant tithing, we would need to not only give 10th of our income but also of our land, crops, possessions, etc.  Tithing was a requirement for Jews under Moses in a theocracy.  As I said, most nations still practice a form of tithing today, only now it isn’t collected to show devotion to God, it is collected to run the nation.  We call it taxes.

Now, even though tithing is not a New Covenant requirement, it doesn’t mean that we toss out giving all together.  Not at all.  Tithing, like many other things in Christ, has been replaced with a new principle that we can most accurately define as Grace Giving.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 - Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  7 Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Paul had instructed them not to be captive to covetousness but to trust God in all things and give FREELY, not under compulsion of Law, but freely.  We are not to give 1.) under obligation nor 2.) under compulsion.  Rather we are to give cheerfully as we purpose in our own hearts.  Paul says that God loves a cheerful giver.

Instead of a legal requirement to tithe, under the New Covenant we have the privilege and opportunity to give to the work of the Lord.  Now, under this covenant God has instituted the local church as being the place you give.  But it is not given to the church even though the church receives it.

When you give, you give it to God.  Truly you give it BACK to God because EVERYTHING you have money and otherwise already belongs to Him to begin with.  Your money, status, talent, time, family.  The church, then, is charged with the duty of stewarding the money received wisely and in a Godly way.  It should all be given to further the work of the church and the furtherance of the Gospel.

How much should we give if 10% is not the mandate?  Ready for this… I don’t know.  That is between you and God.  Each person can determine for themselves what they are going to give.  You are not required to give 10%.  You are, in Christ, encouraged to give freely as you purpose in your heart.  Cheerfully giving to the Lord.

Maybe 10% is what you can give.  Maybe it isn’t.  Maybe you can give 15-20% or maybe 10% is pushing you to the max.  If you are giving and worried that whatever percentage you are giving is more than you can afford, you cannot out give God, so rest knowing that God will provide for your need.  As a Pastor, it doesn’t scare me to teach this because I know that God will provide for the needs of this church regardless.  Giving is not, however, a promise of financial prosperity for you.  Just because you give doesn’t mean God will increase your money.  Sometimes giving of any kind, be it financial or otherwise, should hurt.  How much sacrifice does it take for us to give our time or money or whatever to something that takes little to no effort to do or costs us nothing?

You need to approach your money and say this is all God’s.  All of it.  You need to approach your marriage, kids, job, property, etc… the same way.  This is all God’s.  And so God, how can I use it to BEST glorify you?

All money is God’s, so as you determine what you are to give, seek His will to be sure you are stewarding your money wisely.  If you see this as a way of escape from giving at all, you are being tempted sinfully… Grace frees us from Law so that whatever we do, we do for Christ because of Christ out of our gratitude and worship for Christ.

You should approach your finances this way not only in determining how much you give to the church but also in how you steward the money in other areas.  How big a house should you buy?  Well, how big of a house do you NEED?  What car should I drive?  Well, what needs does your car need to meet for you?  Clothing?  Same question.  All of which are run through the filter first of what best glorifies my Savior in this expense or action?

There is no moral requirement for you to tithe 10% of your income, but, as born again believers, we should DESIRE to show our gratitude by cheerfully giving, as Paul says, “whatever we purpose in our hearts.”

Whatever we work out with God is right for us to give.  Paul doesn’t say that we shouldn’t give at all, in fact he says we should.  But we are under no compulsion, but encouraged to do so cheerfully.  Because we want to, not because we have to.

Now, who should we “give to?

Galatians 6:6 - The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him.

It directs us to financially meet the needs of and support those who are charged with feeding us spiritually.  That in this case would be the Pastor.  That includes also, this church’s ministries because it is your local church body, your local fellowship that is responsible for feeding you.

After you’ve given whatever you give to the church, I think it is good to give to any other source of feeding for us.  There are a couple of ministries that have been invaluable to me as tools of learning and training and Meg and I try to give when we can to them because they have been so beneficial to our feeding and spiritual growth through the years.  It should not take the place of giving to your local body, but it is good to do.

Your first priority in giving is to the local church.  This refers to financial giving.  Giving to the church in this sense does not include your time and service.  I’ve heard people say that they tithe their time to their church.  I think that’s dangerously close to a copout.  On the flip side, giving financially to the church is NOT the same as serving the church either.  Give your time to your church as you can and whatever financial support you can but don’t exchange one for the other.  Anytime your mindset in service or giving is to seek out whatever the bare minimum you can get away with is, you are really only cheating yourself…

Now, thirdly there are things like charitable giving.  That would include special offerings for something (Annie Armstrong, Lottie Moon, love offerings for guests)  Anything that you give over and above whatever you’ve purposes is the amount of your giving to the church but still is received by the church first is considered charitable giving.

Let’s make sure we are clear.  No where in the New Testament are we obligated to tithe.  If I told you that you were I would be not only lying to you but I would be putting a works yoke of legalism on you.  This is a dangerous thing to teach in a way, though it doesn’t scare me… because it could easily backfire on a church.  Some could say, well God directed me to no longer give the 10% that I thought I was obligated to give… God has told me to not give at all.

I can’t determine your number, but know that God knows and so I would encourage you to seek Him in the matter so that your conscience before Him is clear and you can testify before Him that what you are giving is what you can give.

Do I fear that giving will drop off as a result of saying this?  Nope.  I trust God more than that.  God will provide for the needs of this church through the giving of His Children, because true believers will not feel this an escape from giving but now hopefully prayerfully begin to see it as more of an offering of praise and cause for worship rather than a yoke.

God doesn’t bless the person that legalistically tithes.  He blesses the cheerful giver.  God blesses you for giving, not for going back to the old covenant system of tithing.  His blessings may or may not be financial, but He blesses.  And I believe that God will bless me and the ministry He has called me to, again not necessarily financial, because I am not shrinking away from my duty to preach the Word of God, the whole counsel of God, to you truthfully and clearly.

If you are a faithful giver to this church and have just been calling it a tithe because no one had taught you different, that’s ok.  God knew and knows your heart in it.  Your heart is what is important in the giving.  But I would just suggest that this may be one of those areas where our language needs to be cleaned up.

You don’t tithe, you give.  Giving is a gift.  Giving is of your own compulsion.  You don’t owe the church money.  If you owed the money, then it wouldn’t be a gift.   When I pay the bill collectors that I owe money to I never feel like I’m doing them a tremendous favor by paying them.  I feel obligated to pay because I am… I owe them.  And perhaps I even pay them a bit grudgingly, ha!

Show me a person who is thankful to God for saving them and I’ll show you a person who loves the church and desires to be involved in service and in giving what they can to the ministry of the church and the furtherance of the Gospel.

Tithing Revisited (or Tithing - Part 3)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tithing - Part 1

Coming off of the time of year where Americans spend the most money and typically accrue the most unsecured debt, I thought I'd begin the year with a blog post about tithing... 

Thing that we need to note is that the tithe is NOT unique only to Israel or Christianity in general.  It was practiced by several ancient nations and in some forms most nations still practice it today.

Quite simply the tithe is the practice of giving 1/10th of your income or property as an offering to God.  As far as Biblical history goes, the practice of tithing predates even the Mosaic Law.  The first recorded tithe is found in Genesis 14.  Abraham had just returned from rescuing Lot and destroying the Mesopotamian Kings… when he came back he went to the “Valley of the Kings” where he met with Melchizedek, who was the King and High Priest at the time.  

Melchizedek greeted him and they began to celebrate the victory and worship God for the victory and it says that of their spoils, Abraham gave Melchizedek 1/10th. That’s the first mention we see of a tithe and it doesn’t seem to have been anything that required Abraham to give it.  He seems to have simply offered it as an act of worship.  

Later in Genesis 28:22, “This stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.” – Here we see Jacob promising God 1/10th of all he received, money, animals, etc…  Still he was also doing this under no compulsion but simply out of gratitude to God.

Now, it isn’t until we get to Leviticus 27; that we see tithing prescribed in detail in the Law of Moses.

Under Mosaic Law, Israel was required to pay the following tithes.
- Tithe of the seed of the land – Leviticus 27:30-32
- Tithe of the fruit of the tree – Leviticus 27:30-32
- Every 10th animal of their herds and flocks to the Lord – Leviticus 27:30-32
- A tithe was to be given to the Levites because they did not receive a land inheritance like the other tribes had. The Levites, in turn, were to offer a heave offering to the Lord.  That accounted to their tithe and what was left was their payment for their work in the tabernacle.– Numbers 18:21-32
- A vegetable tithe was taken to Jerusalem – Deuteronomy 12:5-7, 11-12, 17-18
- A cattle tithe – 2 Chronicles 31:6

By the time of the Exodus, no tithe is mentioned, the closest reference to required giving we have there is found in Ezekiel 44:29-30 where a giving of the First Fruits is required.

The Prophet Malachi instructed Israel to bring their tithes into the storehouse in order to enjoy the Lord’s blessing.  Malachi 3:8-12 - “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.  9 “You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you!  10 “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.  11 “Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the Lord of hosts.  12 “All the nations will call you blessed, for you shall be a delightful land,” says the Lord of hosts.

Regardless of the type of tithe being called for, they all were given for the purpose of running the Nation of Israel.  From governmental affairs to the Levites, caring for orphans and widows…

Deuteronomy 26:12-13 - “When you have finished paying all the tithe of your increase in the third year, the year of tithing, then you shall give it to the Levite, to the stranger, to the orphan and to the widow, that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied.  13 “You shall say before the Lord your God, ‘I have removed the sacred portion from my house, and also have given it to the Levite and the alien, the orphan and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed or forgotten any of Your commandments.

All tithes were an acknowledgment of God’s ownership of all things.  It was an expression of gratitude to God by His people.

Now, in the New Testament the word tithe and tithing is only a few times.  
Matthew 23:23 - “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.

Luke 11:42 - “But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.

Luke 18:10-14 - “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  11 “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  12 ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’  13 “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’  14 “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Hebrews 7:5-6 - And those indeed of the sons of Levi who receive the priest’s office have commandment in the Law to collect a tenth from the people, that is, from their brethren, although these are descended from Abraham.  6 But the one whose genealogy is not traced from them collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed the one who had the promises.

Hebrews 7:8-9 - In this case mortal men receive tithes, but in that case one receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives on.  9 And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes,

Reading through them all they have one thing in common… The are all without fail referring to the Old Covenant system.  In Matthew and Luke Jesus is chastening the Jews because they are keeping the Law in letter… keeping it in a legalistic way… making it a works based system… but they are neglecting the Spirit of the Law.  Paying tithes but caring nothing for their spiritual condition or anyone else’s.  Further they completely neglected true worship of the One true God.  They worshiped their own self-righteousness.

Plus, here Christ is reinforcing the Law that was still in place at this time given that this all took place in a pre-Pentecost time.  So tithing would have still been a Law requirement even during Christ’s life.  Christ Himself paid the tithes.  It wasn’t until Pentecost that we see the implementation of the New Covenant of Grace through the blood of Christ.

Then in Hebrews it is explained that Christ fulfills the requirements for those tithes.  Not only is Christ the fulfillment of all the OT Laws but He is also the perfect Great High Priest and He lives forever, reigning forever!

Nowhere in the New Testament are we commanded to tithe.  Nowhere.  A tithe is something that is required.  We aren’t under the covenant of the Law any longer… we are under a covenant of Grace in Jesus Christ.  The key word there to remember as we proceed is grace.

Matthew 5:17 - Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.

I came, Jesus said, not to abolish (in other words He didn’t come to contradict the Law by doing away with it) RATHER He came to fulfill it.  The Laws had been given to show that no one could completely be perfect and reach God’s standard, but Christ could and did.

Christ initiated the New Covenant at the Last Supper and it went into effect on the Day of Pentecost.  So when we are looking at Old Covenant requirements verses New Covenant requirements, we can’t distinctively look Old Testament to New but rather pre-Pentecost and post-Pentecost..

Part 2: New Testament Principles for giving

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

John Newton once said "I am not what I ought to be. Ah! how imperfect and deficient.  I am not what I might be, considering my privileges and opportunities.  I am not what I wish to be. God, who knows my heart--knows I wish to be like Him.  I am not what I hope to be. Before long, I will drop this clay tabernacle, to be like Him and see Him as He is! Yet, I am not what I once was--a child of sin, and slave of the devil! Though not all these--not what I ought to be, not what I might be, not what I wish or hope to be, and not what I once was--I think I can truly say with the apostle, "By the grace of God--I am what I am!(1 Corinthians 15:10)"

As 2010 draws to a close and we look towards the new year I have found myself dwelling more and more on this quote and the verse that inspired it.  As I look back on this year I hope to be able to find that I am growing more and more to be like Christ.  That I'm becoming less of what I used to be and more of what God has called me to be.  Of course it is easy for me to look across my own life and examine it only to find positive results.  "Self" is also a deceiver. 

Paul encouraged believers to "examine themselves" to see that they were in the faith.  2 Corinthians 13:5 - Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?

Examine ourselves by what?  By God's Word.  Obviously the entire Bible is a great source for examining one's heart.  If I had to pick a spot to begin in this pursuit, I would likely recommend 1 John.

Are you growing in Christ?  Are you abiding in His Word? Are you growing in love and compassion for others? Are you becoming more bold in your witness for Christ?  Etc... Etc...

Being that we are coming up on the new year many people will make resolutions.  Resolutions to lose weight, make more money, spend less money, save more money, workout more often, spend more time with friends, spend more time with family, quit smoking, drinking, etc...

While there is probably merit in those types of resolutions, some more than others, I wanted to encourage you to resolve this year to make it a practice of examining yourself DAILY by the Word of God. 

John 14:21-24 - “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”  22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?”  23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.  24 “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.

Growth in Christ for a believer is not optional, it's a way of life.  It's the practice of our life to desire to be more and more like Christ.  The One who became sin for us so that we might become His righteousness.  So that God could forgive us and adopt us into His family.

Are you growing in Christ?  Just some thoughts.  I encourage you to examine yourself to be sure you are in the faith.  If you should find that you fail the test.  Repent and trust in Christ now.  Be reconciled to God.  Look unto the Lord and be saved! (Isaiah 45:22)

Jonathan Edwards believed than rather a New Year's Resolution, that would like be forgotten quickly in the new year, that a life reformation was far more beneficial.  So He penned this list of resolutions to keep himself reminded of the calling placed upon the life of a true disciple of Jesus Christ.  I thought, for your benefit and mine, I'd post the list in its fullness.  Below you'll find a list of the resolutions that Edwards read once every week to keep his mind on his duty before God.

The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards (1722-1723)
 Resolutions 1 through 21 were written by in one sitting in New Haven in 1722.

Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ's sake.

Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad's of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.

2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new invention and contrivance to promote the aforementioned things.

3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.

4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.

9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.

10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.

11. Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances don't hinder.

12. Resolved, if I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.

13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.

14. Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge.

15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger to irrational beings.

16. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.

17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.

18. Resolved, to live so at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world.

19. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.

20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.

21. Resolved, never to do anything, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him.

22. Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power; might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.

23. Resolved, frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs and ends of it; and if I find it not to be for God's glory, to repute it as a breach of the 4th Resolution.

24. Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.

25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.

26. Resolved, to cast away such things, as I find do abate my assurance.

27. Resolved, never willfully to omit anything, except the omission be for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions.

28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

29. Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.

30. Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.

31. Resolved, never to say anything at all against anybody, but when it is

perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to, and try it strictly by the test of this Resolution.

32. Resolved, to be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that that in Prov. 20:6, "A faithful man who can find?" may not be partly fulfilled in me.

33. Resolved, always to do what I can towards making, maintaining, establishing and preserving peace, when it can be without over-balancing detriment in other respects. Dec.26, 1722.

34. Resolved, in narration's never to speak anything but the pure and simple verity.

35. Resolved, whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and also how the question was resolved. Dec. 18, 1722.

36. Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it. Dec. 19, 1722.

37. Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself: also at the end of every week, month and year. Dec.22 and 26, 1722.

38. Resolved, never to speak anything that is ridiculous, sportive, or matter of laughter on the Lord's day. Sabbath evening, Dec. 23, 1722.

39. Resolved, never to do anything that I so much question the lawfulness of, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or no; except I as much question the lawfulness of the omission.

40. Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking. Jan. 7, 1723.

41. Resolved, to ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better. Jan. 11, 1723.

42. Resolved, frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God, which was made at my baptism; which I solemnly renewed, when I was received into the communion of the church; and which I have solemnly re-made this twelfth day of January, 1722-23.

43. Resolved, never henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God's, agreeable to what is to be found in Saturday, January 12. Jan.12, 1723.

44- Resolved, that no other end but religion, shall have any influence at all on any of my actions; and that no action shall be, in the least circumstance, any otherwise than the religious end will carry it. Jan.12, 1723.

45. Resolved, never to allow any pleasure or grief, joy or sorrow, nor any affection at all, nor any degree of affection, nor any circumstance relating to it, but what helps religion. Jan.12 and 13.1723.

46. Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eve: and to be especially careful of it, with respect to any of our family.

47. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a good, and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peace able, contented, easy, compassionate, generous, humble, meek, modest, submissive, obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable, even, patient, moderate, forgiving, sincere temper; and to do at all times what such a temper would lead me to. Examine strictly every week, whether I have done so. Sabbath morning. May 5,1723.

48. Resolved, constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or no; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of. May 26, 1723.

49. Resolved, that this never shall be, if I can help it.

50. Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world. July 5, 1723.

51. Resolved, that I will act so, in every respect, as I think I shall wish I had done, if I should at last be damned. July 8, 1723.

52. I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age. July 8, 1723.

53. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer. July 8, 1723.

54. Whenever I hear anything spoken in conversation of any person, if I think it would be praiseworthy in me, Resolved to endeavor to imitate it. July 8, 1723.

55. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments. July 8, 1723.

56. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.

57. Resolved, when I fear misfortunes and adversities, to examine whether ~ have done my duty, and resolve to do it; and let it be just as providence orders it, I will as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but my duty and my sin. June 9, and July 13 1723.

58. Resolved, not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness and benignity. May27, and July 13, 1723.

59. Resolved, when I am most conscious of provocations to ill nature and anger, that I will strive most to feel and act good-naturedly; yea, at such times, to manifest good nature, though I think that in other respects it would be disadvantageous, and so as would be imprudent at other times. May 12, July ii, and July 13.

60. Resolved, whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I will then subject myself to the strictest examination. July 4, and 13, 1723.

61. Resolved, that I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it-that what my listlessness inclines me to do, is best to be done, etc. May 21, and July 13, 1723.

62. Resolved, never to do anything but duty; and then according to Eph. 6:6-8, do it willingly and cheerfully as unto the Lord, and not to man; "knowing that whatever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord." June 25 and July 13, 1723.

63. On the supposition, that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true luster, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: Resolved, to act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time. Jan.14' and July '3' 1723.

64. Resolved, when I find those "groanings which cannot be uttered" (Rom. 8:26), of which the Apostle speaks, and those "breakings of soul for the longing it hath," of which the Psalmist speaks, Psalm 119:20, that I will promote them to the utmost of my power, and that I will not be wear', of earnestly endeavoring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnestness. July 23, and August 10, 1723.

65. Resolved, very much to exercise myself in this all my life long, viz. with the greatest openness I am capable of, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my soul to him: all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and every thing, and every circumstance; according to Dr. Manton's 27th Sermon on Psalm 119. July 26, and Aug.10 1723.

66. Resolved, that I will endeavor always to keep a benign aspect, and air of acting and speaking in all places, and in all companies, except it should so happen that duty requires otherwise.

67. Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, what good I have got by them, and what I might have got by them.

68. Resolved, to confess frankly to myself all that which I find in myself, either infirmity or sin; and, if it be what concerns religion, also to confess the whole case to God, and implore needed help. July 23, and August 10, 1723.

69. Resolved, always to do that, which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it. Aug. 11, 1723.

70. Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak. Aug. 17, 1723