Whose Side Is God On?

Posted: July 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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In the year 1095 Pope Urban II proclaimed the first crusade to reclaim the “holy land.” For nearly 200 years until 1291, massive blood shed occurred in the “holy land” as the Catholic Church waged war upon the Muslims. 

Both sides claimed to have God on their side.

From 1861 to 1865 over 600,000 union and confederate soldiers died in the American Civil War. 

Both sides claimed to have God on their side.

2015 the Islamic State persecutes the Christian Church in South West Asia. 

Both sides claim to have God on their side.download

Even though they approve of, and celebrate, the murder of unborn children under the guise of “choice” and they celebrate  sexual immorality, through the normalizing of pornography and so called “same sex marriage,” America claims God is on their side. Their money says, “In God we trust.”

Funny. The Third Reich (Hitler’s crew) also believed that God was on their side. They even wore belt buckles that read “Gott Mit Uns”…or God with us…

God with us

Whose side is God on?

Claiming that God is on your side happens everywhere. And it is not always on such a grand scale as the Crusades, nor is it always between enemies like ISIS and the Coptic Church. Nor is it so blatantly obviously false as with Hitler’s regime or the current state of America. It also happens on a much smaller scale. Within congregations, under the same roof, between people in the pews…between brothers and sisters in Christ. 

I was recently emailed by someone who wished to remain anonymous, My friend and I are having a dispute.  He thinks (this way)  and I think (this other way)…[then a bunch of stuff about stuff]..He says that he is right, but I am sure that I am right. Who side is God on? {then a bunch of other stuff}…”

We have all seen it haven’t we? Some offence happens. Some sin, something, maybe a deal gone bad.  Maybe a disagreement, or something bigger. Who knows. One side flings some mud at the other, and the other side flings it back. Both claim to be right.  Both will not back down, refusing to remove the log from their own eye, while throwing mud in their brother’s eyes.

Both sides claim to have God on their side.

And it drags on for another day.

Both sides continue to demonize each other.

Both sides paint the other as evil caricatures, incapable of good, incapable of God’s love, pointing at, and talking about, the other’s specks, while failing to see their own logs, flinging more mud and dragging His name through it each time they scoop up another handful.

“Did you hear what he did?” 

“Can you believe her!?”

“She is such a…”

Then the Bible comes out… and they start to use it to bash each other, rather than admonish, rebuke, encourage, and build them up in love.

“Legalist.”

“Pharisee.”

“Lawless.”

“Corrupt.”

“Unregenerate.”

“Self Righteous.”

“Wolf in sheep’s clothing…”

“He has the Devil in him…”

Most of us are probably guilty of this to some degree. Let’s be honest. And if not, then almost certainly, we have witnessed it in some form. And the only solution to the problem, if you talk to either of the combatants, is that the “other side” ought to just give in and give up. Both sides wrap themselves up in the “arrogance of righteousness.” Self-righteous pride takes hold. Both sides are right in their own eyes.  Both sides claim to have “scripture to back them up.” 

Both sides claim to have God on their side.

We ought to be careful, when claiming that God is on our side.  What is the reason we think he is on our side?  Because we think we are right? Because we have such a great knowledge of the Bible?  Because of pride?  Is it because we think we are holier than the other person?  Smarter?  More educated? 

Why is God on one side and not the other side?

God is not on your side or my side because of anything we did, or didn’t do, no matter how “right” we think we are. And if we are dragging people through the mud, or flinging it at others in an effort to make ourselves look better, then we ought to look and see where we are really standing. 

Are standing we on God’s side?  Because God is on His own side. He is on Jesus’ side. None of us is worthy to have God on our side.

Some may point to Romans 8:31 or the many Psalms that show that God is for us.  And it is true.  God really is for us. But how is God for us?  To quote RC Sproul commenting on Romans 8:31,

“We can be confident that the Lord will do only what furthers our ultimate good. To do this, after all, is a logical consequence of the great sacrifice He made when He gave up His Son for us on the cross.  If He could do that, then surely He would never do anything that would make that sacrifice worthless. He would never deny us any of the blessings that are promised to us on account of Christ’s atoning work.”

And what is our ultimate good?  Our ultimate good is God Himself.  He will bring us more of Himself as He makes us more like Jesus. Yes. God is for us. He promises to bring the work he started in us to completion. But he is not for our petty battles. He gave us the ministry of reconciliation, not the ministry of mud slinging. We are to love each other, as he loved us.  Forgiving each other, as he forgives us. God is for us, only as we are in Christ.  He sees Jesus standing in our place.  If you are member of the Church, if you are saved by Jesus Christ, then yes, God is on your side, or more precisely, God has brought you over to his side…  so let us be careful.  Perhaps, a better question to ask than, “Is God on our side?,” would be, “Are we in him?” “Are we in a Covenant relationship with Jesus Christ?” And if we are, then we get to be like Jesus and look graciously upon each other in love. 

Let’s do that!

Let’s take the logs out of our own eyes so we can see clearly to remove the specks in our brothers eyes.  Let’s put the mud away. Let’s wash our hands. Let’s encourage and admonish each other in love.

Let’s love each other…because…after all… God is on our side.

Are we on His?

God’s Bottle

Posted: June 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

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Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;
    all day long an attacker oppresses me;
my enemies trample on me all day long,
    for many attack me proudly.
When I am afraid,
    I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
    in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
    What can flesh do to me?

All day long they injure my cause;
    all their thoughts are against me for evil.
They stir up strife, they lurk;
    they watch my steps,
    as they have waited for my life.
For their crime will they escape?
    In wrath cast down the peoples, O God!

You have kept count of my wanderings;
    put my tears in your bottle.
    Are they not in your book?
Then my enemies will turn back
    in the day when I call.
    This I know, that[d] God is for me.
In God, whose word I praise,
    in the Lord, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
    What can man do to me?

I must perform my vows to you, O God;
    I will render thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered my soul from death,
    yes, my feet from falling,
that I may walk before God
    in the light of life. ~ Psalm 56

Psalm 56 is one of my favourite passages of scripture. It shows the tenderness of God. David is hiding from those who wish to harm him. From those who slander him and seek his life. So he cries out God, “Be gracious to me!”    David is fearful. He had no idea where to run to or who can help humanly speaking, so he runs to God. “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.”

David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, recorded this for not only his own benefit, but ours also.

This psalm always gets to me, especially verse 8.

You have taken account of my wanderings;
Put my tears in Your bottle.
Are they not in Your book?

“You have taken account of my wanderings;”

Each step he took as he fled and hid from his pursuers, every place he sat, every bush he hid behind, was not merely seen by God, they were worth counting. God took account of his child’s wanderings.

Wanderings!

Think about that!

What do we take account of? Money? RRSP’s? insurance? Benefits? God takes account of our wanderings…when we are confused, unsure, lost, scared, pursued by enemies….Every trial we face…he takes them all into account.

“Put my tears in Your bottle.”

This has always gotten to me.  When I really think about this I am utterly bowed down in awe. This is one of my favourite verses which reveals the tenderness of God. David so trusts God, in the midst of his fear, that he knows that God will collect his tears and store them in His bottle. David says, “Your Bottle,” not just any bottle. Not a broken bottle, not our bottle, not some lowly bottle…but God’s bottle.

His own bottle.

Like a winemaker would do with the finest fruit of his labour from the vineyard. David, inspired of the Spirit, is saying that your tears, those which you shed for affliction and for your sin are precious to the Lord, and he will collect them like a bottle of the finest vintage.  The tears of his children are like wine.  Your tears are like the finest wine!

“Are they not in Your book?”

This is not a question. David is not concerned that God might not take note of his pain. Rather, he is saying to God, “I know they are in Your book, I know You have taken account of these things that troubling me.” God will look upon our afflictions, our trials, our sufferings in mercy. He will remember our pain. The Lord is tender and gracious. It is amazing that he would care for us, that he would lower himself to know us, to suffer for us, you see Jesus died for us.  He bore our sins, he knows pain that he ought not to have known, cried tears he need not have cried, except for that he loved us…and he collects our tears in His bottle.

Let us praise him! Let us say with the psalmist,

“I must perform my vows to you, O God;
    I will render thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered my soul from death,
    yes, my feet from falling,
that I may walk before God
    in the light of life.”

God Has Given Us Over.

Posted: June 27, 2015 in Uncategorized
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Three years ago, when President Obama stated that he approved of same sex marriage, I got on my soapbox and wrote an article entitled “God is giving us over.”  In light of the recent rainbow on everything from the White House to my WordPress dashboard, I revisited that post.  I have tweaked it and edited it and retitled it, “God has given us over,” in light of the fact I cannot go on the computer without seeing this topic everywhere.

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As you likely know, history was made on Friday as the US supreme court ruled in favour of legalizing same sex marriages nation wide.  This should not come as a surprise, to anyone, and it is old news to those of us in Canada. in fact, it has been this way for a while here.

And it’s ok America, you won’t blow up…Canada is still here…for now…

There are Christians who claim that God is going to judge our society for this and for the selfish, hedonistic lifestyles we as western culture and society live.  True, he will judge us, but there will be no war to wipe us out, there will be no comet hurtling to earth, there will be no plague, no tsunami, no earthquake or nuclear events to punish us for the sins of society.  Yes, these things may still happen, and they are a result of the fall, but they are not the punishment for our temporal sins and shortcomings.

What we are witnessing in our world and in our society, with the US Supreme courts decision, with abortion being seen as a “medical procedure,” with euthanasia being legalized around the world, the ease of access to pornography, with the tolerant views of the world, with our societal love of violence, rape, and sex, with the “everything is permissible” attitude of the world…all of this is God’s “judgement” on our societal sins.

God has given us over to what we value – and what we value as a culture and as a society is simply this – ourselves.

We, as a society, value our own individualism, our own feelings, our own comfort, and our own pleasure, our own selfish desires above God.  In the name of equality we indulge our sins.  We indulge in sexual liberty.  We indulge in addiction.  We have told God to leave us alone. The “punishment” for this is that God is giving us over and letting us live in our “values” as a society.  God is giving us over to ourselves as it says in Romans over and over:

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

When we live in sin, when we adopt a sinful worldview, when we turn our back on God, when we say to God, “We do not want your law.  We do not want you. Leave us alone.” He will say, “As you wish.” He will give us over to these things.

As Christians we do not approve of sexual impurity, abortion, porn, addictions, abuse, and so on. In some instances we should push back against it, for example, in the case of abortion which we view as murder, but there will be no divine judgement on these people in this temporal life.  Sure, there will be consequences for sin, but God is not going to smite the lot of us.  No.  Each of us will be held accountable when we stand before the Lord on the day of judgement.  This goes for you and me, the heterosexual and the homosexual, the mother of 6 children and the mother of the aborted child.  The issue in the end will be simply this…are your sins covered through faith alone in Christ alone?  Where are your values?  In Christ or in yourself?

So how should we proceed as Christian’s on this issue of same sex marriage that is not only tolerated and accepted, but celebrated in our society? As Christians we have to realize that this is not an isolated issue. Neither is abortion or the host of other societal issues we Christians see as wrong. Each is simply a symptom of a much larger problem.  The real problem is that our society has abandoned God as it says in Romans 1:28

Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.

Attacking the symptoms will do nothing; we need to address the cause. Personal attacks on a homosexual person will do nothing to show them the love of Christ. Debating whether their lifestyle is right will get you nowhere. Posting rainbows on Facebook and saying that it is God’s sign won’t accomplish anything, unless you like debates that go nowhere.

So, how are we to proceed? Well, it is simple.

We are to present the Gospel in love.

Out of compassion.

We are to live as salt and light.

We are to treat all people as they are – that is, as image bearers of the almighty God.  We are all sinners.  So love the homosexual; love the girl who had an abortion, love everyone and show them the love of Christ – Why?  Because God has commanded us to Love.  What is the greatest commandment?  Love the Lord your God with all your heart soul and mind, and the second is like it… LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR AS YOURSELF. Be compassionate. It is not our place to judge those outside of the Church, but it is our place to present to them the cure. What is the cure for the current state of the world?

The cure is simply, yet profoundly, the gospel of Christ crucified and resurrected. Remember that it is much easier to judge someone from behind your computer, than it is to show them the love of Christ in person.

So, present the cure, the gospel of Jesus Christ, in love and to God’s Glory.

But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood —to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished –  he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

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Feeling bad about yourself? Feeling like God can’t possibly love you? I have been prone to doubting God’s love for me when I consider my own past sins.  I tend to put myself in the penalty box, like I can somehow pay some part of my crime. What about you? If you, like me, have doubted the love of God, if you feel like you need to penalize yourself, if you doubt his mercy and grace can cover you, just consider how great God’s Love and mercy truly are.

Look to the Bible and consider the depths of depravity stooped to by these “heroes of the faith” :

Abraham was a liar, disbelieved God, and slept with another women to secure a son and obtain for himself God’s promise.

Then there was Lot. Lot offered his daughters to be gang-raped, then he got drunk and slept with them.

Isaac was a deceiver.

Jacob was a deceiver, schemer and a cheater.

Noah got drunk and exposed himself.

Moses murdered a man, abandoned his people for decades, initially refused to accept his calling, and then disobeyed God in his pride and anger.

Samson…wow….

David, “the man after God’s own heart”, lusted, plotted, had an affair, sent an innocent man to his death, and likely suffered from depression.

Solomon puts Hugh Hefner to shame with his sexual shenanigans. He worshipped pagan Gods and wasted the prime of his life away chasing useless things.

Jonah ran from God and refused to accept his call.

Elijah had a temper, was moody, and had thoughts of suicide.

Isaiah was a man of unclean lips.

Paul, the self proclaimed chief of sinners, was a murderer, an engineer of genocide, and a persecutor of the church.

Peter was a hot -tempered, show-off who succumbed to doubt, and who denied his Lord.

That is quite the list of depravity. Don’t you think?  Yet the Bible tells us that each of these men are righteous.  That they were forgiven.  Not only were they forgiven of their sins, they were leaders in the history of redemption.

What is it you have done that you think God could not forgive you?

When you are feeling down, when you feel the need to put yourself in the penalty box for your sin, please don’t.  Stop looking at yourself, stop looking at others, look to Jesus Christ alone. He already went to the penalty box and served your time. For he bore the wrath for all of our sins in His precious body that was nailed to the tree. He defeated death. He rose, and He sits at the right hand of God. For you and for me. We have all sinned.  We have all fallen short of the glory of God. But God shows his great mercy to us in his Son, that while we were still sinners, he died for us. Now he desires that we extend the same mercy and grace to those around us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.  More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. ~Romans 5

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There were a lot of casualties in the wake of the Driscoll fiasco.

The one that I miss most is the modern Christian music, that was Cavinistic in flavour, that Mars Hill was producing. I especially miss Dustin Kensrue, who resigned from MH prior to the ship sinking. If you have followed me for any length of time, you may know that I have written a couple posts on him and have often posted his music on social media. He wrote a number of solid contemporary Christian songs, even one based on Lords Day One of the Heidelberg Catechism entitled, “My One Comfort.” And the song “Grace Alone” is among my all time favourite modern Christian songs.

So needless to say, I was really looking forward to his latest album, “Carry the Fire.”

It certainly showcases his talent, and there are allusions to his faith. But I would have loved to hear something that points more overtly to God. Overall I was disappointed in the album, not for his musicality, that is still great, but for the fact that there is no overt mention of God, Jesus, Faith etc. In fact, the album comes across as quite dark. If I had to play  psychiatrist, I would say that he was very hurt over the whole Driscoll fiasco.  This album certainly points to the darkness in each of us, he points to our sin and misery, but he doesn’t really show us the light from Christ, that which will redeem us from that darkness.

Artistically I give this album a 4/5.  I enjoy his style and this album does not disappoint, if you like indie or liked the sound of his last album.

Theologically I give this album a 1.5/5 – which makes me sad since his last album was so God centred.

Overall a 6.5/10 (I gave it an extra point just cuz I like him and its not a bad album, just not as Christ centred as I was expecting.)

This is probably my favourite song on the album – but its not a Christian song…

One Christian Dad:

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I have been a vocal proponent of Two Ways to Live for a few years now, Using it in as an outline in my own personal sharing of the gospel. Dr. Van Raalte is correct, when we share the gospel, we have to use a redemptive-historical approach, that is, we must start at the beginning, “Starting with “Jesus saves” begs the question what he saves us from. Starting with sin begs the question whether God is responsible for it. But starting with the loving Ruler creating a good world gets matters off on the right track.”

Originally posted on Creation Without Compromise:

Where to begin?

Many Christians witnessing for Christ have wondered what to say first. Many pastors have likewise wondered what curriculum to use in their new members courses. Where do you start when the person you’re speaking with knows absolutely nothing about the Christian faith? Some suggest the gospel of Mark, others the gospel of John, still others the Belgic Confession, but one of the most successful starting points has actually been Genesis 1, 2, and 3.

Presenting the gospel? Many Reformed churches have held training sessions for their members using Two Ways to Live, a course developed by Philip Jensen, an Evangelical (Reformed) Anglican from Australia, and marketed by Matthias Media. This course begins with the truth of the good creation.

God is the loving Ruler of the world. He made the world. He made us rulers of the world under him. “You are worthy, our Lord…

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For those who could not make the Men For God Conference 2015, Joy To the World Ministries has graciously posted all the messages on Youtube. Here are the 3 messages by Conrad Mbewe on Ezekiel 22:30.

And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none. Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. I have returned their way upon their heads, declares the Lord God.”

Now I can’t read this verse without hearing his voice :)  I hope you are blessed by these messages.

Message 1: God’s Pressing Search For Men

 

Message 2: God’s Gracious Role For Men

 

Message 3: God’s Grim Displeasure With Men

 

 

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I first came to the Canadian Reformed Churches 18 years ago. I love her, but to be honest I didn’t like her much back then. Looking back, I would say at the time she was like a 14-year-old girl. Raging hormones and all. It was like she was asserting her independence, isolating herself in her room, and arguing with her parents.

Ok, so that is a bad analogy…but I am going to attempt to see it through.

What I mean is that the Canadian Reformed Church was, and still is, a young denomination. At the time I joined she was just hitting the teen years so to speak. Whether it is a person, or a church, there will be challenges that come with youth. Teen angst is well-known. A teen is searching to find her identity, asking, “Who am I?” and searching for answers. A teen wonders about her trajectory, what she will do with her future, who will she marry? Will she have kids, go to school, go to work? I am preparing myself for my own teens one day.

But she is not 14 any more.

She is growing up. Maturing.

She is developing into a beautiful young lady.

She is after all, the Bride. OR, at least, part of the Bride :) Beautiful, imperfect, maturing and loved by the bridegroom.

I love her deeply, despite her.

Looking at her now, it is apparent that the restlessness is subsiding.

Gone are the growing pains – for the most part,

Gone is the shallowness of her youth – for the most part,

Gone is the isolation of sulking in her bedroom.

In fact, she has opened the door to her room and, no longer argues with everyone, ok … just sometimes…but at least now she sits in the living room and engages with her family. Perhaps there is still a bit of an identity crisis, but like a young lady she has begun to settle down, she is still full of youthful zeal, but she is learning who she is, and how to relate with those around her.

She is coming out of her bubble.

She is showing the world the light that she kept concealed behind her bedroom door during her youth – the gospel of Jesus Christ.

All right. The analogy is over. Here is my point:
I am tired of all the haters on the outside who badmouth her for the sins of her youth.  I am disappointed when I hear those within her badmouthing her. The Canadian Reformed Church is growing up. She is faithful despite her weaknesses. She is faithful and preaches the richest doctrine. A love of the gospel and faithful preaching leads young men to want to preach it, and just look at the crop of soon to be pastors that is coming up in the seminary. Look at the expanding mission fields, the growing local church outreach efforts. The swelling membership. The sword she swings. The faithful preaching. She is not consumed with the mirror any more, and has lifted her head and is looking outward and showing the world the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ..

The Canadian Reformed Churches are still young, but she is showing the world the gospel of Christ. And though I am not of Dutch heritage like most of the members, I have learned that the staunchest Dutch Calvinists can be some of the most loving people you have ever met.

I love her, and I think…I need a tissue.

Did you hear the one about a Canadian, a Malawian, an American and a Zambian who all walked into a church? Turns out a conference broke out!

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From L-R: Fletcher Matandika, Tim Challies, Doug Nichols, & Conrad Mbewe. Courtsesy Tim Challies Facebook page.

This past weekend I attended the Men for God Conference. The speakers were Fletcher Matandika, Tim Challies, Doug Nichols, and Conrad Mbewe.  The conference was well attended for a first time event, with around 120 men. The venue was the Langley Free Reformed Church and was officially hosted by Joy to the World Ministries, which was founded by Fletcher Matandika. I am very happy that this conference happened, especially since I was not able to attend the one put on by men in the Canadian Reformed Churches (Reformed Men of Integrity) earlier in the year due to health reasons. It was awkward since I knew only a couple people, but in my introversion, it was actually kind of nice to be anonymous and not be asked, “Hey are you One Christian Dad?” Although one person did suggest I put “One Christian Dad” on my name tag…

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Conrad Mbewe Speaking on Friday Night. Courtesy of my phone…

Friday:

Friday evening opened with singing “Joy to the World”. Since it is associated with Christmas, that’s probably first time I have sung that song in the month of June. We sang a few more hymns and the singing was vibrant, god glorifying and simply wonderful.

The first message was by Pastor Conrad Mbewe. Who preached a sermon from Ezekiel 22:30, which says, “And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.” He actually preached 3 different messages on this text.   This evening’s message was entitled “God’s Persistent Search For Men.”  God is looking for men who will stand in the breach and not go with the crowd. It was a wonderful way to open the conference, and I finally understood after hearing him speak, why he has earned the nickname, “The African Spurgeon.”

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Doug Nichols speaking on Friday night. Courtesy of Conrad Mbewe’s Facebook page.

Next up was Doug Nichols, with a message entitled, “Garments For the Man of God.”  Reading from Colossians 3:1-14 he showed us how a man of God must put on the garments of a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, patience, forgiveness, and love.  Doug is a man from “sketchy” beginnings as an illiterate burglar and alcoholic, who was met by God in the midst of his sin, confronted with the Gospel, saved, and ended up serving 48 years on the mission field.  His catch phrase was, “Do you believe in the sovereignty of God?” He showed us how God moves people and events for his own purposes. He gave the challenge to us to be more and do more for God. He even asked us to join the mission field in lay capacities, because well, “It’s a lot cheaper to die in Africa!”

Both speakers challenged us to be more than we are, to stand in the breach, to go against the flow of society and its views on manhood, and to be men for God.  I went home that evening all fired up and looking forward to Saturday’s Sessions.

Saturday:

Saturday morning opened with a communal prayer meeting at 7:30am, which we were late for…

I needed breakfast…and the car needed oil…

For the first session of the day, Tim Challies preached a message on 1 Thessalonians 4, entitled “A life pleasing to God.” The focal point was on verse 11 which says, “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” Pastor Tim expounded on this and basically said that in spite of the books we all read that encourage us to be bigger, better, and do fantasticly over the top things for God, we don’t need to be radical for God, we can be ordinary.

Phew.

Because after the previous evening I was ready to move to Africa and do radical things for God!

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Fletcher Matandika, preaching on Psalm 86:11

Next up was Fletcher Mantandika who expounded on Psalm 86:11 which says, “Teach me your way, Lordthat I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” His message was entitled, “Men of One Holy Passion.” It was a convicting message that challenged us to pursue one holy passion – rather than all the “passions” that divide our attention, and take our focus off of God…passions like, money, prestige and lust.

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Tim Challies speaking on From Bondage to Freedom.

For the third session Tim Challies spoke on “From Bondage to Freedom”, which was an excellent message on the bondage of pornography. Using PowerPoint, he spoke on why Christians hate pornography and then walked us through three steps to freedom from pornography. Funny I thought there were 12 steps… Regardless of how many steps are used, the point still stands that this is something that is destroying our men, and we must wage war on it.  As John Owen said, “Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.”

After lunch Conrad Mbewe again exposited Ezekiel 22:30 with a sermon entitled:  “God’s Gracious Role for Men.” The gist of the message was that we are to be interceder’s.  We are to be prayer warriors.  Do we pray for our children, the church and the community around us?  Do our kids see us pray?  Are we known as pray-ers? Then I remembered that I kinda, sorta, skipped out on most of the prayer session that morning…oops.

For the break out session, I surprised my self by not staying inside to hear Tim Challies speak on the porn free family – who I consider one of my  mentors in the blogging world – but rather followed Doug Nichols, along with about 30 other men outside, where we sat under the trees and listened to him speak a message on 1 Corinthians 16:9, entitled “Wide Door, Many Adversaries.” I was brought to tears during this message – it is a good thing that we were outside as I had my sunglasses on. Doug spoke more about the mission field and how God sovereignly opens doors to share the gospel.  He showed us that while the way and the gate are narrow, once we step through there is a wide door for service to Christ. But if we do it, we will face many adversaries and sufferings for Christ’s sake. Satan does not want the gospel to spread! He gave us some resources on how to get involved in missions in various capacities.

I again wanted to go serve, suffer and possibly die for Christ in Africa…

Where is Challies when I need him…

Then we met back in side where Doug Nichols spoke on Colossians 1:27-29 which says, “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” The message was entitled, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Filled with personal anecdotes from his 48 years on the mission field, he did absolutely nothing to sway my desire to go into the ghettos of Manilla, the favellas of Rio, and poverty stricken areas of Africa to share the gospel and love of Christ with street kids and prostitutes.

I wonder what my wife thinks of all this…

The last message was Conrad Mbewe’s third sermon on Ezekiel 22:30, which was an uplifting motivational speech entitled, “God’s Grim Displeasure With Men.”  Yeah this guy does not pull any punches (and I was being sarcastic about the uplifting motivational speech part).  It was however a God glorifying call out to the men to be what God intended us to be. I have to say that after 3 sermons on Ezekiel 22:30, I cannot read this text without hearing Pastor Mbewe’s powerful voice and Zambian accent…

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Doug Nichols, Fletcher Matandika, Conrad Mbewe, & Tim Challies during the Q&A

Finally was the panel discussion Q & A to end the day. We all had the opportunity to ask them any question we wanted.  The questions showed that there was a desire to in fact be “Men For God.” My favourite question was from someone who appeared to be a recent convert who asked, “Can we lose our salvation?”  Fletcher Matandika took the mic and responded simply, “No.”

Most of us laughed.

Then he said, “Seriously, the answer is no.” And after a short pause he went on to explain why that is from the bible.

All in all this was a very good conference.  I came away with a renewed appreciation for my role as a husband and father, and my role in God’s World as a man. We now need to apply what we have learned here, and pray that we might become Men for God.

Making God the Priority

Posted: June 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

One Christian Dad:

A post about spending time alone with God.  From my wife’s blog – One Christian Mom :)

Originally posted on One Christian Mom:

A few years ago, I had a conversation with someone who asked me about personal devotions and time spent in Bible study. I remember getting a little defensive and also thinking the word “personal” was in there for a reason – this was personal and really, none of her business. But I replied truthfully (sort of). “Oh, you know, I really do try. But it’s hard with two kids, trying to run after them and their schedules, plus I DO work full-time. So it’s not like I can go to Tuesday morning Bible study.”

I heard this answer or similar words over and over. “We read the Bible together as a family every night. Even if it’s Sunday. We try not to miss that.” Again – the word “personal” was missing from the answer. “We attend a couples Bible study every second Wednesday, plus I go to Tuesday morning Bible…

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