I’ve heard certain evangelical ministers decry the “Dare to be Like Daniel” applications of the Old Testament. I understand their concern (that it boils down to moralistic teaching and hardly lifts up the Lord Jesus Christ) but I will risk going against their grain in this post. (Though I do intend to present Christ!)

The story of Joseph has been my favorite story in the bible since the Sunday School classes of my youth. I always identified with him because he was a “dreamer”. I have always, and I mean always, had very vivid dreams in my sleep. As I got older, more and more details of Joseph’s story came clear to me and I saw many more parallels between he and I. But the one’s that were most important I didn’t see. I mean this man had a character and tenaciousness in his devotion to God, that I can only yet hope to attain. But now I’m starting to realize why the Lord had me to identify with Joseph. And also why, in a greater since,  the demeanor of the Lord Jesus Himself is my goal. Let me explain…….

1. Like Joseph, I am the son of my father’s old age. (39) My dad didn’t love me more than my brothers, or my sisters for that matter, but I am the only one that he raised from birth to high-school graduation. I think that this is by God’s design because my dad became a Christian shortly before I was born. Therefore, he was saved while he was raising me. Seeing him study the bible constantly, and believing him to be the smartest man in the world, it caused me to develop a love for studying the word of God.

2. Jesus was His Father’s only begotten Son. He was special to His Father in ways that cannot be exhaustively explained. However,  He had the testimony, that “I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” (John 8:29) Though I have definitely not reached a point to be able to make such a claim, nor could I ever truly make it, I do desire to have the dedication to God the Father that our Lord had. Even if it means I lose family relationships. 

3. Like Joseph, God has decided to show me many things in that study for which, not just my brothers, but my mother and many others despise me. I have issued challenges to them all at different times to show me where I was wrong. They either copped out by saying, “I don’t won’t to argue” or “I’ll get back to you”. Well, I’m still waiting.

4. Jesus was rejected by His brothers until after His death and resurrection. He was truly despised and rejected of many men.  (Isaiah 53:3) According to Hebrews 12:3 he “endured such hostility by sinners against Himself”. And there is no doubt that at times this included His family. But His attitude was “whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.” Again, I desire to take this attitude as my own in regards to my allegiance to Christ and Him alone. (I request that those of you who are reading this pray for me in this area.) I desire to “go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.” (Hebrews 13:13)

5. Like Joseph was by Potiphar’s wife, many of my family members are falsely accusing me of many horrible things. I’m even having my motives and intentions for breaking with my father’s church and the entire COGIC organization questioned. They all believe that I am following men instead of God. And none of them would admit that if that man that I was following was them, then they wouldn’t have a problem. Like Potiphar’s wife, I believe that they may be convicted and embarassed by the progress in biblical knowledge that I’ve made so their only course is to invent and harbor false accusations and false assumptions. In the case of Joseph, we never see him pleading his innocence. (Though we can imagine he may of.) But we do see him enduring while receiving undeserved punishment. Trust me, this is a major area of struggle and failure for me. So another prayer request comes in here.

6. We all recognize that our Lord was falsely accused many times. He was falsely accused of speaking against the temple, threatening to destroy it (Matthew 26:61). He was falsely accused of falsely claiming to be the Son of God. (John 19:7) But according to Isaiah 53:7, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.” (see also Matthew 27:13-14) The very One who when rightly judged was found without fault (Luke 23:13-15) said nothing nor did anything to defend Himself that He might fulfill all righteousness before the Father, on behalf of all those who would believe on Him. (Again, I must insert yet another prayer request here. I’ve already asked several brothers personally for their prayers in regards to this. I chafe at false accusations. I practice self-defense all the time. But I won’t to be more like Christ in this regards.)

7. After all that Joseph suffered, right at the time that he had the upper hand on his brothers and in the many subsequent opportunities that he had where he could have exacted revenge, he had this to say: “”As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” (Genesis 50:20-21)

8. And here’s what the scripture declares concerning our Lord’s attitude toward His suffering, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame,… (Hebrews 12:2) He suffered greatly for the joy that was set before Him. And He refused to feel the shame that so easily overtakes me when I believe that I’m suffering wrongfully.

I want to close with a few texts of scripture:

Matthew 16:24-27

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny Himself, and take up His cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it  profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Luke 14:26-27,33

“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes; and even his own life, HE CANNOT BE MY DISCIPLE. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me CANNOT BE MY DISCIPLE…..So then, none of you can be my disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”

I ask that you pray with me that the Lord would apply all the correct attitudes demonstrated in all these verses to my heart so that I will willingly desolve any and all relationships that keep me from being the Lord’s disciple. Whether it be family, friends, mentors, etc. I want to have one-heart devotion to my Lord and Savior.

No matter the cost!

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Posted by: Bro. Lawrence D. | February 14, 2009

Lord, Please Open Our Eyes!

Matthew 11:25-27 (emphasis mine, also see Luke 10:21-22)  “At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have REVEALED them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to REVEAL Him.'”

Luke 24:13-16;30-32 “And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. BUT THEIR EYES WERE PREVENTED FROM RECOGNIZING HIM…..When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. THEN THEIR EYES WERE OPENED AND THEY RECOGNIZED HIM; and He vanished from their sight.”

Don’t worry, this isn’t another attempt to beat Arminians over the head with the Sovereignty of God in salvation. If anything, I could spend paragraphs and cite hundreds of examples of the need for Calvinist to put into practice their professed beliefs. Rather, this post is to advertise the solution to a problem that seems to escape well meaning believers (that’s us) at times.

I have come to notice a trend in our day. Whether it be in the area of evangelism, preaching, or apologetics, many well meaning Christians have forgotten one major thing, IT TAKES A SUPERNATURAL WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN ORDER FOR ANY MAN OR WOMAN TO COME TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH, INCLUDING YOU AND I!

Take a personal survey of the latest or most popular evangelism method. Or how about the last sermon you heard on false converts. Or how about the last apologetic discussion you heard on the existence of God. How much emphasis was put on dependence in the Holy Spirit to take the method or information and apply it to the heart of the one who needed it? Can you confidently say that the “4-step method” of evangelism, the “exegesis/exposition” of the text, or the logical argument, were not themselves the feature star of each presentation? Wasn’t the attitude more in the line of “trust me this method works” or “faithful, accurate preaching is only sure fire way to ensure the church is pure” or “trust me, the atheists have no answer for this”?

Or what about the last theological debate you had with another Christian? How much were your emotions affected by the discussion? Was there any moment where you had distain for your brother or sister? Was there any moment where you judged them in your heart as possibly being unsaved? Was there a moment where the Spirit said to end the discussion but you had to get in another point? And once the discussion was over, did you mine your bible for prooftexts to use as belittling weapons against that person the next time the subject came up?

Now, while I definitely love the zeal of anyone who goes out and evangelizes (with just about any method) and I love exegetical/expositional sermons, and my personality just fits right into apologetics, (which sometimes leads to very unbecoming confrontations with other believers) none of these bear any fruit without the Spirit. How do I know? Well, it should seem obvious that since each of these is employed by us as fallible, sinful men and women, on our best day, we can no more be effective at changing the hearts/minds of men than we can at changing the rotation of the sun. But unfortunately it is not so obvious.  Even the apostle Paul had to remind the Corinthians, “So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. (I Corinthians 3:7)”

Sometime ago, I wrote an article entitled,  “Is my Ipod causing me to sin?”. But it wasn’t my Ipod. It was pride. It was arrogance. It was having a suspicious and judgmental heart. It was not recognizing that the Spirit was at work in me to come to the knowledge of the truth. It was folly. You see, the only thing that helped me to see that Albert Mohler, Matt Slick, John MacArthur, Paul Washer, etc. were wrong in the areas with which I disagreed with them, was the kindness of God giving me revelation. And guess what!? I yet have many blind spots! So therefore, my grace and mercy for these men should have been as vast as that that I desire and expect from Our Lord Jesus. Because again, it takes REVELATION and ILLUMINATION to make Christ and the things of Christ known to any of us.

So the next time you’re involved in a potentially contentious discussion with another believer or the next time you hear another believer (yes even a famous theologian or apologist) say something that you know to be wrong, instead of reacting with contempt, take a moment and ask God to be merciful to us all and open our eyes.

Posted by: Bro. Lawrence D. | February 12, 2009

Check This Out!

My Brother CJ has a great article over on his blog (Christ My Righteousness) entitled Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Race. Check it out!

Posted by: Bro. Lawrence D. | January 31, 2009

My Favorite Attribute of God

By far, my favorite attribute of God is His faithfulness. Now I don’t mean to start a debate. Nor do I expect anyone to one-up me on this one. This isn’t a matter of right and wrong but simply one of personal opinion. For me, God’s faithfulness is key.

Because God’s faithfulness is something that I personally experience, I am able to put full confidence in every other attribute that the bible tells me describes His character and nature. Again, for me, when it comes to trusting in God’s omnipresence, omnipotence, omnicience, love, righteousness, graciousness and holiness, everything is  dependent upon His faithfulness.

When God is faithfully present, powerful, knowing, loving, righteous, gracious, and holy (as He always is), then I can rest assured that I am in great care. I can rest assured that my decision (as influenced by Him as it was) to wager all my chips on His promises was not really a gamble at all.

And to be sure, I could rattle of many, many, many instances where God has truly been faithful to me. From birth till now, there is not one instance where God has ever failed me. Sure, things haven’t always been rosey. I haven’t gotten everything that I’ve asked for in prayer. And no doubt I’ve been disappointed at times with His decisions for my life. But it hasn’t ever taken very long for me to see that He knew exactly what was best for me. I can now think of so many of those prayer requests that I’m glad He didn’t grant. I can think of so many of those decisions He made that I’m glad weren’t made in the direction I wanted them to go in.

But the greatest token of God faithfulness to me has been in regards to salvation. And although I’m a New Covenant believer, I can say like Moses in Deuteronomy 7:9; 

“Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;”

And the apostle Paul picks up on the truth of God’s faithfulness in relation to salvation in I Corinthians 1:9;

“God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Paul also founds the strength to endure temptation in God’s faithfulness in I Corinthians 10:13;

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of excape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

And in I Thessalonians 5:23-4 Paul prays for the believers confidently because of God’s faithfulness:

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.”

In II Thessalonians 3:3 Paul makes a promise to the believers there confidently because of God’s faithfulness. He writes:

“But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.”

Because of the faithfulness of God the writer of Hebrews (I vote for Apollos, sorry Big L, LOL)  admonishes and encourages those believers against apostasy by writing:

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;”

I could go on and on. The bible is full of instances where God is both described as being faithful and the believers hope is assured by God’s faithfulness.

Now rather this is also your favorite attribute of God or not, it doesn’t really matter. All I want you to do is that you would take a moment out of your day just to think about God’s faithfulness to you. Let your mind go back and forth over the many experiences you’ve had where you know for sure it was the faithfulness of God that got you through. If you get a chance, share that with another believer who you know is going through something. Maybe it will remind them of times in their own lives and encourage them in their present situation. Better still, share it with a non-believer. Maybe even one with whom you have already shared the gospel. Give testimony to the faithfulness of the One to whom you have entrusted your soul.

Who knows, by the end of today, you may also regard His faithfulness as your favorite attribute too!

I love you all! Be blessed!

Posted by: Bro. Lawrence D. | January 24, 2009

It’s Over My Head….I Guess?

Some of you reading this may be put off by the title. Because you have read things that I’ve written before or maybe you’ve even spoken to me over the phone, you may consider me a pretty smart fellow and are wondering what could possibly be over my head. Well, thanks for the vote of confidence but this one really has me stumped. What could this massive conundrum be? It is simply this:

WHY ARE THOSE WHO CLAIM TO BELIEVE IN THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD SEEIMINGLY GIVING UP THAT BELIEF SINCE BARACK OBAMA HAS BEEN VOTED INTO THE PRESIDENCY OF THE UNITED STATES?!

One thing that is leading me to this observation is the apparent abandonment of Christian parameters of speech and behavior towards the man by some professing Christians. If you search the “conservative Christian” blogs and websites you may notice that the subject matter of most of the publications, including podcast, is President Barack Obama. Even if not for the entire program, many do not fail to mention his inauguration nor how they feel his policies will “transform the very fabric of our society”.  You may also notice that 99.9999999999999% of the statements about him are negative. Not just about the man’s policies but about the man himself. You may hear descriptions of President Obama like, “weak”, “godless”, “ignorant”, “feminized”, and even “stupid”! I even heard one commentator describe his wife Michelle Obama, our new First Lady, as a bull dog.

You may also, like me, notice that people are trying really hard to make sure that you know that President Obama is not a real Christian. You may also notice that neither Presidents Bill Clinton nor George W. Bush received this much attention from these same people. So what’s going on here?

Now don’t get me wrong. I didn’t vote for President Obama and for several reasons. One, I don’t agree with his stance on abortion. Two, for all his talk of “change” he never said what he would change things to or how. Three, I wanted a third party candidate to make a good showing so that ,maybe we can eventually move away from the two party system where the winner being from one of them is a forgone conclusion. 

 

And let’s fact it, all of these individuals have a right to their opinion. They even have a right to express it. But biblically, if they are professing Christians, I don’t believe they are right to do so. Why? Here’s a couple of texts of scripture that governs our speech AT ALL TIMES: (By the way, yes I’m guilty of violating these texts)

Ephesians 4:29 (NASB) “Let no unwholesome word proceed from you mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification, according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

Colossians 4:5-6 (NASB) “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how to respond to each person.”

In both cases grace is enjoined. Since grace is undeserved or unmerited favor, then there seems to be no way around adhering to the imperitives of these verses. Even when the person being spoken about is found to be utterly dispicable, as these people find President Barack Obama to be, the Christian’s speech should not be affected.

But back to the “Sovereignty of God” issue. Most of the “conservative Christian” crowd are Calvinists. If anybody insist upon the sovereignty of God in everything, it’s the Calvinist. But lately I’ve been hearing the sovereignty of God being trumped by the fear of Obama. Those who are for Obama are accused of not only worshipping the man but also of being caught up in Obamamania. Well, I’m going to accuse those who are against Obama of being caught up in Obamahysteria! I’ve heard words like “frightened”, “fearful”, “devastated”. And phrases like, “he’s going to destroy America”, “God must be judging us”, “America no longer looks like the place I grew up in” and other such foolishness.

Now my only conclusion is that these same people have forgotten that God is sovereign. The same God that put Pharoah, Cyrus, Darius, Xerxes, Herod, Pilate, Ceasar, Nero, and even Hitler in power, is the same God that put Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2 and yes, even Obama in the office of the presidency. The very same sovereign God. All for His own purpose and His own glory. Just because the election didn’t go your way doesn’t mean that God has abandoned you. 

So relax Christian. God is still on the throne. 

Or maybe whatever point you were trying to make with all that needless negativity just went over my head…….I guess?!

Posted by: Bro. Lawrence D. | January 19, 2009

J.A.I.C. Update

This post is just meant to recount for you my experience in going to pray for the daughter of my co-worker.

I wanted to name this post “Trust in God Kills Impotence” or “Impotent Christian, yes, Impotent God, NO!” But I decided not to. The reason why is that I didn’t want to give the impression that I went to pray for the girl and subsequently took part in a book of Acts, entire household repentance, Holy Spirit falling experience. The fact is, most of what was accomplished there was probably most immediately visible in me instead of in the girl or her family.

The brother in the Lord (Bro. Jun) who went with me and I arrived at my co-workers home to find her gone and no sight of her daughter. My co-worker’s mother let us in and then proceeded to offer us some refreshments. Even though her English was not very good and heavily accented, she communicated to us that my co-worker would be back shortly. A few minutes later my co-worker called and I was able to speak with her. She let me know that she was about 25 minutes away and was sorry for the inconvenience. I let her know that it was okay and that we were glad to wait for such a serious situation. Soon after we got off of the phone, her sister arrived. She also offered us refreshments and then proceded to make small talk. We found out that she had recently left her job but that she was overall doing well. We also found out that she knew as much or as little as we did about her niece’s condition. In fact she had actually spent time with her niece over Christmas break and they had apparently had a good time. She told us that her niece “loved” scary movies and that upon her request she rented one for her. But the problems with the girl started after she returned home. (That piece of information, by the way, raised Brother Jun’s eyebrows and he was eager to consider it as possibly related to the girl’s condition. I myself was rather unconvinced. I guess figuring out how things got started was less urgent to me.)  The aunt said that when she heard what was going on she just figured that the girl had had to much excitement in their visit and was having trouble calming down. However, my co-worker assured her that things were more serious. Somehow praying or faith came up and I asked if she was a Sikh like her sister. She said yes. I asked how she felt about her sister inviting two Christians to come and pray for her niece. She said that because of her belief that all religions lead to the same God (which is consistent with Sikhism) it did not bother her at all. It was her view, and the view of my co-worker, that whatever would work they would try. I let her know that I would be speaking with her niece about Jesus Christ being the only Way and exclusively God. I told her that I was n0t intentionally offending her with this claim but that it was what I believed and that it was the only way out of this dilemna for her niece. She assured me that she would not be offended. At this time, Brother Jun excused himself to the restroom.

Just before I could continue any dialogue with the aunt about the exclusivity of Christ, my co-worker walks into the house. But she is not alone. With her are two men. Both are barefoot and dressed in robes and shawls. They were carrying what seemed to be a stool or an altar. I couldn’ t tell. Now my eyebrows were raising! I immediately wondered to myself, “what is going on?”! My co-worker came to me and apologize for the delay. I immediately asked her if there was going to be some type of ceremony. To my surprise. and chagrin I must admit, she said yes. I said to her that maybe the brother and I should leave and that in fact we were going to leave. She begged me to stay. She said that the men were priest from her temple there to bless the house and that they would only be there for a few minutes. At this time Brother Jun returned and she began to ask him, “What’s wrong? What’s wrong?”. Of course, he was confused by her questions. Then he saw the men and the look on my face. I told him what the men were there for and he seemed caught off guard but undetered. I told him that we should go to the car and then we excused ourselves. Outside I told him that I didn’t believe that God would work in this setting. It seemed completely antithetical for Him to do anything while the men were upstairs chanting away. The brother said that though it was odd we should not leave. So we stayed.

When we got back inside the grandmother and aunt were busy in the kitchen preparing a meal for the ceremony and other things. At this time, my co-worker went to get her daughter. In walks this girl who looks like she hasn’t slept or has only slept for days. She looked completely drained of strength. The mother sat her down on the love seat next to the couch we were sitting on. I asked how to pronounce her name. Then I began to speak with her. I wanted to let her know that I was not there to hurt her and that she should consider me a friend. I asked her what she knew about Jesus Christ. She said “I know that He killed Himself to save everybody.”. I responded, “He killed Himself?” To which she said, “I mean He was killed to save everybody.” I asked her if she believed that. She said yes. I asked her if she knew He was God. She said no. I told her “Yes, He is!” I then told her that He was her only way out of this situation and that He would help her if she asked. I then asked her if she wanted to ask Him to help her. She said yes. I asked her what it was that she wanted to ask Him and she said that she didn’t want to feel this way anymore. I asked, “Do you want to ask Him now?”. And then suddenly she said, “Jesus, I don’t want to feel like this anymore.” I immediately told her to bow her head and I bowed mine and began to pray for her. When I finished praying for her, I asked her how she felt. She said, “I feel light.” And the brother and I began to praise the Lord. Her mother and aunt both began to command her to say “Thank you Jesus!”. I was very surprised.

But suddenly one of the men from her temple descended halfway down the staircase and said something in their language. The aunt said to them that they must all go upstairs to participate in this part of the house blessing ceremony (which I found out actuallylast 3 days). I immediately wanted to protest. This little girl had just been touched by God’s Spirit. I’m not saying that she was saved. But whatever had been accomplished, I knew, was about to be ruined. They got up and proceeded to the staircase. The little girl protested but they ignored her. While they were upstairs, I voiced my concerns to Brother Jun and he concured but he knew there was nothing we could do. They came back down and I began to speak with the little girl again. Suddenly she fainted and all my fears came true. She came to a few minutes later and I asked her how she felt. She said that she felt good before she went upstairs but that she now felt the same as before we prayed. She even began to shake all over. I asked if she was cold. She said no. I asked if she was nervous. She said no. I asked then, if she felt that something else was controlling her body. To my disappointment, she said yes. She also said that while she was passed out she saw a face with an evil smile and no other features.

At this point I was honestly clueless as to what to do. I then opened my bible to Psalm 23 and had her read it. I asked her if she understood what it said. I explained to her the confidence that David showed in God and that she must show that same confidence in Christ for her salvation and for her deliverance from this affliction. I told her that each time she felt afraid that she should read this passage. I asked her mom if she had a bible in the house. She said no, so I asked if she had a pair of scissors. She got them from the kitchen. Brother Jun told me that I didn’t need to cut it out of my bible because he had one to give her in his car. He retrieved it and we marked out the passage for her. He added another passage for her from Philippians. I again began to speak with her about Christ when she suddenly fainted again. This time she continued to shake but she would not come to. Then Brother Jun began to give the mom and aunt his testimony and explain to them that they needed to call on Jesus themselves as he had as an atheist who was desperate for the healing of his wife from a brain aneurysm. He them prayed for the little girl himself.

We then got up to leave and as we approached the door the aunt began to exclaim, “Look at her face. Look at her face.”. We turned around to see the little girl snarling like a mean dog. Her face was really contorted. I asked the mom and aunt to move and I sat down and held the girl in my arms. I prayed to God to have mercy on her and then, in what seemed like a reversion to my Pentecostal days, I informed the evil spirit that it must leave her because she belonged to Christ. I know fellas but I was desperate. Suddenly, her body relaxed and she appeared to be sleep rather than faint. I told the mom and aunt to let her rest and to call me when she awoke. Brother Jun and I said our goodbyes and proceeded to leave. The grandmother came into the living room and grabbed me in a tight hug and said, “Thank you son, thank you.”. It was a very sweet moment.

We went outside and I just prayed again that despite the ceremony, which was still going on upstairs, that God would have mercy on the little girl.

That was Wednesday. I didn’t hear from the mother until last night at work. She informed me that the girl is doing a lot better but that she is still having fainting episodes and the evil spirit is still manifesting. I reminded her of our previous discussions of having one-heart devotion to Christ alone. I told her that she needed to consider it because it was the only thing that would help her daughter. I reminded her that her daughter felt “light” and that she didn’t want to participate in the ceremony. I let her know that I wasn’t trying to blackmail her but that unless she made a committment to Christ as God alone in her own life, things would most likely continue as they are with her daughter. I even told her that she should consider if God was allowing this with her daughter as a means to break the pride in her and cause her to “bow the knee” to Him. She actually agreed that it was a possibility. She even said to me that she knows that my prayers to Him worked. 

Even though I left out a few details of the entire experience, I think you get the overall picture of what went down. Personally, I learned a great deal about where I am in the Lord. I learned that I really need to be filled more with the Spirit and that I need to be doing the scriptures as much as knowing them. I learned that when it came down to it, I trusted the Lord to protect me against any dangers. I learned that it’s not about my abilities but His. I learned that even if I thought that I was “up to it”, I must always depend solely on the Holy Spirit for my strength. I also learned that God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.

Pray for the little girl and her entire family. Pray that a seed was planted in her that will one day grow into her being a witness in her family, for Christ. And also pray for me that the next time an opportunity to bring the light of Christ into anyone’s life, I will be better prepared and more eager to go.

Posted by: Bro. Lawrence D. | January 12, 2009

Just Another Impotent Christian

The title of this post describes what I feel like today. Let me explain.

I have found the following to be a common experience amongst most Christians. From time to time, we believers suffer from feelings of inadequacy. We fall into the mode of feeling as though we just don’t measure up. Sometimes this feeling is brought on by hearing a spiritually scorching sermon by someone like Paul Washer or Pastor John MacArthur. Sometimes it is brought on by seeing the activities of another believer and their zeal for good works. Sometimes it is brought on by reading a passage of scripture. Sometimes it is simply brought on by taking personal inventory of our lives in regards to “religious” or “spiritual” activity. We feel we don’t pray enough; fast enough; read/study the bible enough; witness enough; etc. Finally, we may resolve that there is, in fact, no “enough”. But that resolve does nothing for our feelings of inadequacy.

There is another dimention of this problem of the feelings of inadequacy. It is found when we look at the whole of the Christian faith and life experience and wonder if there is more. We look at the activities of those who followed the Lord from Genesis to Revelation. No matter what our “Cessasionist” brothers tell us about the rarity of such activity, we yet desire at some level at least taste of the power that was exhibited in them at times. Therefore, even if we come to the conclusion that there is more to being a Christian than what we are experiencing, then often times we have no alternative than to believe the problem to be ourselves. Sure, we read books like “Pagan Christianity” and agree with the author Frank Viola that the structure and place of our “gathering together” may well serve to add to our living below our privileges. Yet and still, the most honest of us are not willing to only look outwardly to find blame for our condition. We desire to know if there is really something that we are personally doing or not doing that is at the root.

So you may be asking, “Brother Lawrence D., what brought this feeling on today? And what do you think is wrong with you that is causing it?” Well I’m glad you asked.

Last night at work, I was approached by a lady that I work with who is a member of the Sikh religion. She told me that since she knows that I am a priest (pastor, preacher, priest is all the same in her mind) she felt that I was the one to talk to about her problem. In a nutshell, she felt that her daughter was plagued by an evil spirit. The little 12 year old girl was fainting at odd times, speaking with a different voice, hearing voices, seeing visions, dreaming prophetically, eating ravenously and even spirit writing in other languages.  The evil spirit even gave a name. To top it off the little girl could not remember any of the episodes. The mother was obviously very troubled.  She showed me videos taken on her camera phone of the girl in several of these states. She even showed me the writing that the daughter had done. To tell you the truth, I was convinced, as was the mother, that this was more than the “panic attack” diagnosed by the doctor.

You may not believe this but I was at a loss for words. Yep, Brother Lawrence D. couldn’t come up with words to comfort this poor mother. You see, when the girl’s mother and I first began to work together 3 years ago, we had a conversation about Christ being the only way. This was a proposition which she didn’t believe because as a Sikh, Jesus is a god amongst gods. They call them gurus. At the time I went all “apologetic” on her but in her mind, I was just another uneducated westerner who hadn’t studied enough. We didn’t discuss it much after that, however, a few times over the years she has come to me to request prayer for a sick relative or even herself. I remember asking her the first time she requested prayer if she would accept Christ as God alone if He healed her. She said no. She said that since He was one of the gods, she would just continue to “respect” Him and pray to all of the gods. 

But this time was different. To me, this wasn’t a time to put on my “James White” or “Matt Slick” Super Apologist hat and argue with her about the truth of Christianity. This little girl was in bad shape spiritually and her mother was still in the mode of considering Jesus as just another option. She had went to her “priest” and he couldn’t do anything so she decided she would come to me.

I explained to her that as a “priest” (as she understood it), I had no special power with God to guarantee her daughter’s well-being. I told her that power with God comes through a relationship with Him thru Jesus Christ. But she couldn’t understand or see that I was elevating Christ above all. In other words, she could affirm what I was saying and still be a Sikh. And she did affirm it. And since I professed to have this relationship myself, she felt she only needed to get me and things would be fixed. Now comes the part when I began to feel bad….

Years ago, as a Pentecostal, I would have immediately been eager to go to this lady’s house, slap some olive oil on her daughter’s forehead (and probably the walls of the house too) and start pleading the blood of Jesus. I would have seen the mother seeking me out for help as a clear sign that this is what God wanted me to do. I would have felt totally confident that God was going to move in a miracul0us way and that this lady was going to fall on her knees and cry out to God f0r salvation. The whole house was going to be saved. I would have went in there and commanded Satan to take his hand off of this child in the name of Jesus. With child like faith and ignorance, I would have proclaimed the victory from sun-up to sundown, if necessary. I wouldn’t have been prepared for defeat because, in my mind, it wasn’t an option.

But after hearing this mother’s sad predicament, I knew that that Lawrence was gone. Theology had killed him. Theology had told him that he had no such authority or power. Theology had told him to be logical and to consider that even if God did deliver the girl, she would be left in the same enviroment. Theology had told him that if he couldn’t find it in scripture, then it wasn’t proper to do. Theology had told him that he needed an apologetic argument not “mustard seed” faith. Theology had told him that no matter what compassion he may have felt for the girl, God was sovereign and that this must be the way He wants it. Sure I could pray but unless it lined up with God’s “perfect will”, I would just be wasting words. Yep, that Lawrence was dead and was killed by Theology.

Needless to say, I am heartbroken for this little girl. I want so desperately to go to that little girl and release her from the power she is obviously under. I want to be confident that God will be with me. Confident that I will not be like the sons of Sceva and be beaten back. Confident that I am operating in faith and not in emotion. Confident instead of fearful. I mean, here I am someone who claims to be intimately connected with the Creator of the universe and Ruler of everything in existence. I see one of His creations, a child even,  suffering under cruel torment, and yet I feel powerless to do anything about it. And worse of all, knowing I didn’t always feel this way.

Two things I ask of those of you who read this to pray; 1. Pray to God that He would direct me, even if through you, in what to do. And, 2.  Also pray, that I won’t become just another impotent Christian.

Posted by: Bro. Lawrence D. | January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

As with all time, just make it count… for Christ!

Posted by: Bro. Lawrence D. | December 29, 2008

Reject, Regurgitate or Reexamine

By observation and experience, I have noticed that people (including myself) usually have one or both of two responses to challenges as to what they believe. Either they reject the challenges outright as foolishness or they regurgitate the arguments with which they have been taught to respond, but both without real thought. But the more I read and study, the more I realize that most people (again, including myself) need to explore a third option, reexamination.

In the rejection and regurgitation processes we fail to realize that we may be as unsophisticated in the knowledge of what we believe as the person offering the challenge. We may know as little as they, concerning how we arrived at our conclusions. The definitions of the words that we use to defend our position my be as undetached from their meanings as our challenger’s “facts” are from reality. Therefore, in the minds of the knowledgeable, we actually end up being perceived as either paranoid, shallow thinkers (place in your mind the “Christian” most often depicted by Hollywood) or as complete non-thinkers (What the “New Atheists” would like to convince the world that we are). Either way, we give a less than stellar representation of our cause when we appear so robotic. A cause, by the way, which should be the cause given to us by Christ.

So the question remains, why aren’t we more eager and willing to reexamine what we say we believe? Why aren’t we more enthusiastic to stand firm on the foundation of study which we have done ourselves? Why are we so dismissive of  the idea that we ourselves are able, with proper time and effort, to arrive at solid, defensible conclusions concerning what we say is the truth? It seems to me that, at least in our own minds, it rids our opposer of the opportunity to accuse us of being mindless drones. It may be true that we come to the same conclusions. It may be true that we would use the same argumentation and site the same scriptures. But at least it would be with the inward assurance that it was from our own exploration of and reflection on, the issues.

There is one thing, admittedly, that I love to say when I am accused of “following men” or “repeating the party line”. Whether the subject is Calvinism or Eschatology, I take great pleasure to inform the one raising the accusation that I’ve never read anything by John Calvin, John Owen, Martin Luther or any other “reformer”, that is, that wasn’t being quoted by someone else. And I don’t own any of their literary works. I’m also, very, very, very unfamiliar with the “historic creeds”. I don’t think I’ve ever read or researched any one of them. And don’t even get me started on the so-called “early church fathers”. (By the way, didn’t Christ tell us not to call any man on earth “father”) Talk about a group of scattered thoughts. These men are almost as varied in the annunciation of their beliefs as the denominational landscape of the modern day Christian religion. Therefore, whatever positions are affirmed by these men or in these creeds, I can’t be accused of mindlessly following or “standing on the shoulders” of any of them. I’m not saying that the study of these “great men” or of these creeds is a waste. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t be consulted. But I am saying that I can’t be accused of xerox copying them. Which, let’s face it, is the standard in evangelicalism these days.

This “xeroxing” mentality is partly to blame for the rejection/regurgitation tendency. I mean who is Bro. Lawrence D. in comparison to John Calvin? But this is not all. There are also several other reasons why reexamination is often not pursued.

The first may be called the “apostaphobia”. So often, reexamination is met with the fear that because one is reexamining their faith, that one must also be prepared to abandon that faith. This is a fear that is mostly founded in sensationalism. We are all familiar with the so-called “former Christian” ( i.e. Bart Erhman, Dan Barker, etc.), individuals who upon reexamining Christianity, subsequently decided to abandon their “faith”. Not only are there just as many “non-believers” who have went through this process of reexamining Atheism or another religious belief system only to come out a “Christian”, but it should be clear that apostasy does not necessarily follow reexamination. Most people actually become further hardened in their beliefs. At least in my experience. I mean can’t we at least all agree that it takes a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit on the heart of any man in order for them to come to Christ? But this reality doesn’t stop men in the pulpits across this nation from warning you not to read “The Shack” (a fiction novel by the way), the Purpose Driven Life, or to utilize “The Message Bible”. Sorry friends, but if we’re going to promote the powerful work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of God’s people, then we can’t have a “no don’t read that!” reaction to “fringe” writings. We must, as the Apostles Paul and John did, balance warning against false teaching with a dependency on the Holy Spirit to guard the mind of the believer who is exposed or exposes themselves to it.

Another reason may be called “label-phobia”. We don’t mind labels that we choose for ourselves. (which may be why Christians are always trying to come up with new labels). But we despise being labeled by others. For instance, right now I am a monergist. I believe that the bible teaches monergism. But you may cause me to sin by calling me a Calvinist. I despise this label. John Calvin did not write the bible! He’s not mentioned in it by name! He is not one of “The Twelve”! He is the wrong J.C.! He is…Uh oh, sorry I was back in a COGIC pulpit for a minute there. Moving right along, lol! 

And because of this fear of being labeled by others, reexamination is often not done because it opens us up to some of the most hurtful labeling. Names like heretic, rebel, lone-ranger Christian, the afore mentioned apostate, cult member, or the worst for me, man follower. (There are some members of my family who would accuse me of blindly following Pastor John E. Coleman. If only they knew, right PJ?!) Either way, Christians are often very hesistant to buck the status quo. There really is no genuine encouragement in the Body for one to be “fully persuaded” in his/her own mind. So we end up with a group of what I call “RoboChristians”. (Go to the “search” box if you want to read my article on this.)

One more reason that I would like to mention is the fear of saying “I don’t know”. (Notice how all my reasons center around some kind of fear?) This particular fear may be the result of pride. It may actually reflect true ignorance. And worse of all, it may signal an inauthentic relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. So many, many people know about the Lord. So few, actually know Him. They hide behind “conservative” theologians. They learn the facts. They learn the arguments. They learn “what would Jesus do”? They learn how He would vote. They learn where He would and would not go for entertainment. They learn what He would wear. They learn where He would go to college. They learn how he feels about sports. But sadly, they never learn Christ! As I’ve written before, so many sermons today are calling for Christians to “examine” themselves. Sadly, many really just need to examine Christ FOR themselves.

All I really want to get across in any of this (and I hope that in dialogue more of this can be explored) is that the next time someone tells you there is no God, or they say that it’s all based in Astrology or Greek mythology, that there are no miracles or they ask you how you know that the bible is the word of God or that Jesus ever actually lived, don’t just reject the challenge offhand. Try not to regurgitate someone else’s reflections and answers. And please don’t be afraid to just say, I don’t know. Don’t just know the “what” but the “who, when, where, why and how” of your belief.

Simply put, it’s time to reexamine.

Posted by: Bro. Lawrence D. | December 22, 2008

Quote of the Day!

Today my daughter Patience (5) said that she wants to live her own life so that she can do what she wants. (Actually this is all in relation to wanting to sit in a seat at the dinner table without the booster. She’s a “big” girl now. Women?!) I asked her what she thought about living the life that Jesus wants for her. Suddenly my son Keyshawn (8) says,

“If you live under God’s roof, you should live by His rules!”

Nuff said!

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