Does Prayer Changes Things or NOT?

Some believe that prayer is in the final analysis, praying what God has already determined that you would pray (Calvinism). However, a simple, not a simplistic, reading of Scripture makes palpably clear that while God has predetermined many things, He sovereignly chose not to predetermine everything, but to incorporate the prayers of His people into the contingent outcome. Continue reading →

Think About IT: Marriage Is Only Heterosexual

God instituted marriage (Gen 1: 21-25) to eliminate solitude (Gen 2:18), and for the only proper relationship for sexual intimacy and procreation (Gen 1:28; 1 Cor 7: 1-5).

According to Scripture, there simply is no such thing as homosexual marriage, and Christians should avoid speaking as if there is. Speaking of homosexual marriage does not legitimize homosexual relationships; rather, it vulgarizes the term marriage. If marriage were other than a heterosexual relationship, marriage would not exist because humans would not exist.

“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” Ephesians 5:22–25.

We Can Pray For Our Wife Today

Father forgive me for not loving the mate that you gave me as she so needs and deserves. Oh God, what grace for you to have given her to me. She has now for these many days walked the walk of faith with me. She has encouraged me beyond measure, made laughter my friend, reared the most wonderful children beyond what mere man can even imagine, and not faltered in our tumultuous journey.

You have used her to mold me into a better dad, husband, friend, and follower of you. Our differences have blessed me with peaks of unadulterated giddiness and challenged me to humility and holiness beyond what I could have ever imagined.

Her uniqueness has caused me to face my own sinfulness in ways I surely would have shunned without her, for truly marriage, although densely peppered with bliss and joy, is the crucible of exposing sin and drawing one to holiness if they desire, and I do.

I do so desperately want to love as you love. I want to love my dear wife far more than I do or can on my own; although I love her more than anyone other than you. I want to love her with the love of your glory. There is no woman on earth that I want other than the one you have most graciously given me, and for that I thank Thee; but I so want to love her as my Lord Jesus “loves the church.”

That I love her so passionately and singularly can only be attributed to what you have done in my life even though she is on her own so deserving of such love, for I am, without your work and constant convicting, healing, and growing, woefully incapable of such love.

I pray for her to know my love daily. Help me to encourage and accept her; may you fill her days with reminders of your love for her and how you have and are using her. Protect her from making decisions without sufficient thought and continue to enrich lives through her heart of joy, sacrifice for others, love of family, love of you, and bountiful and generous giving heart.

The Nature of Spiritual Warfare

If Scripture teaches anything about spiritual warfare, it is this; the more faithful you are to God and the more God uses you, the more Satan seeks to destroy your relationship with God, the work of God through you, and you.

It seems that the reality of God’s provision to enable us to withstand Satan’s attacks implies that if we do not use them, we will not be able to faithfully follow Christ and be used to God’s full potential for us to advance the kingdom (Eph :10-18). If this is not the case, then the provision of God seems to be optional and extraneous, which I for one contend that it is not.

Even worse, the end of Satan defeating us personally is that we not only fail to be used by God, but we become an instrument of Satan against the kingdom of God. We can find ourselves talking of God with family and loved ones, and yet, our very lives are Satan’s instrument to undermine our words and thereby hurt the ones we love the most.

We are not smart enough nor strong enough on our own. Seeking to fight our spiritual adversaries in human strength is to demonstrate that we are already defeated by having such a thought. If I think that I do not need filled with the Holy Spirit, the mind of Christ through the Scripture, and praying always, it is not that Satan may defeat me, but rather, such thinking is the evidence that I am already defeated. I have retreated to the foxhole of human ability, which is merely a spiritual grave.

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).

 

Calvinists Do Err: Superimposing Compatibilism & Determinism upon Extensivism

Paul Helm demonstrates an error common among Calvinists, which is to evaluate the cogency of Extensivist’s understanding of God’s salvation plan that includes man being endowed with libertarian freedom through the grid that compatibilism is prima facie true.[1] Rather than evaluating whether Extensivism provides a comprehensive, coherent and biblically consistent perspective. Continue reading →

New Book Available – The Vulgarization of Christ’s Church

My new book is available in paperback and Kindle, along with my other books at Amazon

The Vulgarization of Christ’s Church seeks to clarify and demonstrate the incalculable and injurious influence that progressive education has had and is having upon preaching, thinking Christianly, and the local church. Progressive education began at the turn of the twentieth century, replacing classical education with what is purportedly a science-based education, which necessarily results in scientism. This seismic shift in public education has not only affected what we learn but how we think. In order to enable the church to detect progressivism’s deleterious sway and protect herself by being equipped with the progressive revelation of God, and thereby counter the influence of progressive education of man, I seek to highlight some of the underlying intolerable essentials of progressive education. My major concern regarding progressive education is that the vast majority of Christians can be or are unknowingly facilitating the very philosophy of education and thinking in the church that will ultimately cause Christianity to be regarded as the scourge of modern society, which will immeasurably complicate the task of evangelism and discipleship.

In the companion book to this one, The Equipping Church: Somewhere Between Fundamentalism and Fluff, I explain the biblical model for the local church and how to build such a church.

Copies are available from the publisher at wipfandstock.com and amazon.com as well as the author, ronnie@trinitynorman.org.

Think About IT: Meanness—Not So Difficult

We need no divine empowerment to be harsh.

It seems to me that we do not need the power of Christ in our lives to treat others hurtfully, unkindly, or dismissively. Christians seem to possess natural resources sufficient for the task of insensitivity. Of course, even carnal Christians are wise enough to masquerade such strictness as a righteous refusal to compromise, but it is actually a walk in the flesh.

It is the ability to express genuine godly and sacrificial love, longsuffering, graciousness, compassion, and gentle understanding that requires the Holy Spirit. Human righteousness is devoid of biblical love and grace. Biblical grace, righteousness, and strength flow from the Holy Spirit.

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” Galatians 5:19–23.

Godly Zeal: Maybe?

Zeal is not the test of godliness, nor can zeal make one godlier.

Zealousness can even be a detriment to godliness if one’s definition of godliness is derived from the intensity of one’s zeal rather than the clear teaching of Scripture. Frequently we find people who claim to be Christian, and may very well be, zealous about what they believe to be the true priority or expression of the Christian faith.

They often have some scriptures to bolster their defense that their way is the way. But one’s level of zeal is not the determiner of whether something is a legitimate representation of the Christian faith, and this even when the cause is noble.

Godliness drawn from and defined by Scripture should define our zeal, but zeal can never define godliness.

“For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge” Romans 10:2.

 

A Prayer to Disesteem Me

I pray with John, “Oh that I might decrease that you might increase” (John 3:30). Let every compliment that I am paid because of my teaching, ministering, or helping people spiritually be immediately directed toward You, the rightful recipient. Let me not see myself as my friends or enemies see me, but only as you see me through the eyes of holiness, redemption, and grace.

Help me to see me last, lower than my peers, and may pride be immediately vanquished so that my mind may be stayed on You. May every compliment, every promotion, every success, every reward, every accolade, every accomplishment … cause me to give thanks to You the giver of all and never be a cause for boasting in me. And yet, may I ever so gently receive and direct those thoughts with regard to the giver so that my humility does not become false humility or hurt those whom You love and have been gracious through.

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;” (Colossians 3:12)

The Choice of Humility

Since we are not God, everyone will be humbled.

There are three kinds of humility in the Scripture. First is a false humility, which is fashionably demonstrated by the Pharisees of the gospels as well as their contemporary protégés. Second is a forced humility, which is the lot of all who choose to exalt themselves and follow their own lead. Third is a chosen humility, which is the radiance of Christ as seen in His humbling Himself to die for our ghoulish sins.

These may be seen in order in the following scriptures. We should avoid at all cost the first, and unfortunately expect the second because we are fallen humans; however, if we seek chosen humility, we will honor God and diminish the frequency of even the second.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence” Matthew 23:25.

“Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted” Matthew 23:12.

“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” Philippians 2:5–8.