Category Archives: spiritual thoughts

We Cannot Be Silent

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For the last three years, my husband Philip Dhinakar has been commuting to work by train. This has enabled him to read, something he has always loved doing.  Here is his review of a book that he especially thinks people should pick up and read.

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One of the books I enjoyed reading this year is “We Cannot Be Silent” by Dr. R. Al Mohler. This book is about the sexual revolution that is happening today in America. Dr. Mohler clearly explains how they got there and how Christians should respond to the current situation.
Nearly six chapters are dedicated to tracing the history of the ongoing sexual revolution. Dr. Mohler does not mince words. He shows that that opposition to the Christian understanding of sex and marriage did not start with the arrival of same-sex marriage, but rather the seeds for this were sown by heterosexuals who did a very good job of weakening the structure of marriage in the last century and by Christians who accepted that without protest.
He shows how quickly this revolution has taken place. He compares the U.S. presidential election in 2004 and 2012. In the 2004 U.S. presidential election, no fewer than eleven states held a referendum to ban gay marriage and not even one failed. In 2012 it was the reverse—not even one effort to define marriage as the exclusive union of a man and a woman succeeded.
He also shows that this moral revolution was the result of an organized strategy by a very small group of devoted activists. It was an eye opener to me. The very thought of how those people did that sends a shiver down my spine.
In the last chapter, he deals with 30 hard questions. That chapter alone is worth the price of the book. You may not agree with all his answers but the way he carefully answers the questions shows his pastoral heart.
Readers like me—living in a different corner of the world that is New Zealand—may not be familiar with the judicial system and the constitution of the United States. However that should not stop one from reading this book. The revolution which swept the United States has slowly spread across all Western nations and it is going to hit Christians in these nations as hard as it has hit Christians in the U.S. and we should know how to respond.

Grace Community Church

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Going to Grace Community Church to listen to John MacArthur preach was a great deal to us, up there along with going to Disneyland and Universal Studios. Hero worship is disgusting and John MacArthur, the Pastor of this church is just a man. However, we respect the work that he has done in the Church of Jesus in our day, both in reaching people for Christ and also in edifying believers around the globe.

Philip was the first person in our circles to hear about him; this was in 1981. He had some old books, one I remember was about the work of the Holy Spirit, that John MacArthur had written back in the day. So we deem it a privilege to have been able to come and hear him, someone who has played a big role in moulding the way we think about the things of God.

We decided to attend the second service, at 10:30 a.m. As we have done these last couple of days, we used Uber and got dropped off inside the church campus.

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The Master’s College Collegiate Choir and Orchestra presented several Christmas numbers. It was beautiful. The Pastor, John MacArthur led the service. At one point he asked the ushers to give Welcome booklets to visitors. [Visitors were invited to the Welcome Center, where they could have some refreshments and also receive one of John MacArthur’s books. We did go later on and we did get a book, which was nice.]

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After the music was done and it was sermon time, the choir and orchestra left the stage. John MacArthur began his sermons on John 17 today, and after the elaborate introduction, he covered Verse 1.

Introduction
We know that Jesus prayed constantly during His time on the earth; the gospels tell us He did. But we know precious little about what the content of those prayers were. Here in John 17, we have 26 verses of Jesus’ prayer. This prayer is plain and yet majestic, just as it is at once simple and profound.

The passage may be divided into three parts:
Vs 1-5  Jesus prays for His own glory
Vs 6-19 Jesus prays for His disciples
Vs 20-26 Jesus prays for all believers

The petitions Jesus made of the Father in Vs 1-5 have been answered. The rest of the prayer is ongoing. Indeed, Jesus is our high priest and intercessor,and continues to intercede for us.

Verse 1
John MacArthur than continued to explain Verse 1, speaking about each of the phrases in bold font below:
When Jesus had spoken these words, a he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, b the hour has come; c glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you    (John 17:1 ESV)

Immediately after the service, we were greeted by a lovely couple—the Rosenbaums—seated behind us.

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They showed us the Welcome Center before leaving. After a cup of coffee in the Welcome Center, we went to the Book shop, where I met a sweet Indonesian girl called Sylvie. We bought some books to keep as a remembrance of this day, as well as some to give away as gifts for others.

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We took a few final pictures outside

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We spent the rest of the afternoon in Citadel Outlet. We could not help thinking that the Outlet Mall in Katy TX is nicer, and everything had been more reasonably priced.

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It was time to get to our hotel room, where we would spend our last night in LA. For Philip and I, this would be our last night in the United States.

“Evangelical” upbringing can be more hindrance than help

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To have been raised in an “Evangelical” setting is a blessing. No denying this. And yet, this very blessing can be a great hindrance to some.

I read the following quote from Dr. M. Lloyd-Jones, in a recent bulletin in our church. I found it both very thought provoking and in fact frightening.

Our ambition should be to have a heart which never knows bitterness, envy, jealousy, hate or spite, but is ever full of love. That is the standard: and I think at this point we often fail. We have only a negative conception of holiness, and therefore we feel self-satisfied. If we examined our hearts, it should promote holiness. But we do not like examining our hearts. Far too often those of us who rejoice in the name of “Evangelical” are perfectly happy because we are orthodox and because we are unlike those liberals or modernists and various other sections of the Church, which are obviously wrong. So we sit down complacent and satisfied, feeling that we have arrived, and that we have only to maintain our position. But that means that we do not know our own hearts, and our Lord calls for a pure heart. You can commit sin in your heart, He says, without anybody knowing it; and you may still look perfectly respectable, and nobody would guess what is going on in your imagination. But God sees it, and in the sight of God it is awful, foul, ugly, filthy. Sin in the heart!

While this quote shows us how our “Evangelical” background helps disguise sin during our walk in the path of sanctification, it can even hinder many from actually coming to the cross to be saved. Listen to Matt Chandler describe this problem during the Q & A session in the Desiring God 2009 Conference for Pastors. Do not let his humour take your focus off the gravity of the problem.

WHAT A MOUNTAIN MIGHT SAY IN PRAISE TO GOD

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A poem written by my friend Brent Rogers in Japan.

I praise You for the way You make me hard
enough to stand here for thousands of years
but somehow
soft enough that wildflowers
bloom in my ridges and crannies in the spring.

I praise You because You love beauty.

Even though You made me for the delight of humans,
I believe You also enjoy watching the wildflowers
bloom and the sunsets on my shoulders.

Thank You for creating the hawk and the eagle
who soar around my peaks, also praising You
in their own way.

I praise You for the snow that reflects the sun
and dazzles the eyes of the humans
who come to
enjoy their winter sports.

Even though I am a mountain of stone,
non-living,
inorganic,
hard.
I praise You that You have made me
a habitat for your living creatures.

I want to serve my Creator by any means.

If You need me to shelter Your courageous
saints in my caves some day, whether soon or
in the far distant future, I
only want to glorify, praise, and thank You
until mountains are no more.

You are Amazing, God!

Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy Psalm 98:8

Isn’t Christmas a pagan festival?

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The celebration of Christmas is often a matter of debate and unhappy discussion among believers.  Four years ago, I wrote a post called ‘Christmas – to celebrate or not,’ where I mentioned what John MacArthur and John Piper thought about this celebration. I also discussed what my own father (GB) believed.  In this post, I’d like to include something from R.C. Sproul’s thinking.

The most common argument against the celebration of Christmas is to do with its pagan origins. R.C. Sproul turns that very point around when he answers the question “Is the celebration of Christmas a pagan ritual?”

It just so happens that on the twenty-fifth of December in the Roman Empire there was a pagan holiday that was linked to mystery religions; the pagans celebrated their festival on December 25. The Christians didn’t want to participate in that, and so they said, “While everybody else is celebrating this pagan thing, we’re going to have our own celebration. We’re going to celebrate the thing that’s most important in our lives, the incarnation of God, the birth of Jesus Christ. So this is going to be a time of joyous festivities, of celebration and worship of our God and King.”

I can’t think of anything more pleasing to Christ than the church celebrating his birthday every year. Keep in mind that the whole principle of annual festival and celebration is deeply rooted in ancient Jewish tradition. In the Old Testament, for example, there were times when God emphatically commanded the people to remember certain events with annual celebrations. While the New Testament doesn’t require that we celebrate Christmas every year, I certainly see nothing wrong with the church’s entering into this joyous time of celebrating the Incarnation, which is the dividing point of all human history. Originally, it was intended to honor, not Mithras or any of the other mystery religion cults, but the birth of our King.  [Used with thanks from ligonier.org]

Galilee Galilee

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The Pharisees questioned the legitimacy of Jesus because He came from Galilee. How mistaken they were, because Isaiah specifically mentions Galilee in the great Messianic prophecy that we find in Isaiah 9:1-2.
Contrast this attitude of the Pharisees with that of Peter in the following passage:

He (Jesus) said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

Who do you say that Jesus is?
It is important for everyone of us to answer this 2000-year-old question: Is this Jesus the Messiah? Is He the Promised One who was sent to deliver His people (the Jews first and also the Gentiles) from their sins and from the anger of a holy God?

Who is Jesus to us? Whether Jew or Gentile, how we answer this question determines our eternal destiny.

While I put this song together, I think I felt some of the excitement that some Jews of Jesus’ day must have felt, when it dawned on them that this Jesus was indeed the Messiah about whom the prophets had foretold.

Lyric

They said:
“Out of Galilee, can Christ come? Search and see, for no prophet has arisen from that town.”

“In the past humbled He
Zebulun, Naphtali;
In the future He will honour Galilee!
Galilee! Galilee,
By the way of the sea,
By the Jordon,”
—So Isaiah said;
“They who walked in the darkness
Have seen a great light,
Overcoming the shadow of death.”

“MESSIAH JESUS, SON OF THE LIVING GOD”
The Father showed us—not flesh and blood.

Blessed are our ears and eyes
For they both hear and see
What numerous prophets longed
That they may see.

In Jesus began the fulfillment of all the Messianic prophecies of old and in Him shall they be completely fulfilled. He came for the lost sheep of Israel. But the promise is not only to them but to all who call on Jesus’ Name, for in Him shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

Credits
Words: Nahomi Dhinakar
Scripture texts: John 7:52, Matt 4:13-16, Matt 16:15-17, Matt 13:16,17, and Isaiah 9:1-2,
Uses popular Maori tunes—Hoki Mai and Pokarekare Ana

Piper invites Warren

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I am dismayed at the response from Christians, and Reformed ones at that, to the news that John Piper has invited Rick Warren for the Desiring God National Conference this year.  Do not get me wrong, I understand why everyone is concerned. But what amazes me is the lack of grace and the use of harsh language. If someone believes that John Piper is used of God, then let them be careful about what they say. Be critical, by all means, but in godly fear and love.

An example of a post that meets this criterion is Why John Piper Should Not Have Invited Rick Warren by Tim Challies, where he makes his case with good reasons and much grace.

But here is what Piper himself has to say about this invitation.

My take on this matter:

John Piper is perhaps my most favourite preacher, who has contributed greatly to my understanding of all things Reformed. He has a way of pointing me Godward in his sermons as no other preacher seems to be able to. I have not seen compromise in his teachings. About what he thinks of Warren, he is quite clear, graciously though,  that he does not see eye to eye on many matters. So I would just keep silent and observe. I trust Piper enough to know that he is going to be very careful in this matter. Even in this video clip, you can see the precision and abundant grace that make this man. Perhaps he is the Barnabas that we often-stuffy Reformed people badly need.

God can use Rick Warren as one of several catalysts to bring about another great religious awakening, but then He may not. Who can know the mind of God! You may say it is wishful thinking, but I feel as though we are on the brink of one. The influence of men like Warren and Piper is immense and the moves of these men may bring far-reaching results, good or bad.

Easy to confuse ‘closed and pharasaical’ with ‘uncompromising of the truth

I am a conservative reformed Baptist. I really mean this. I am a hymn-loving, modestly-attired (read ‘exposing only hands, face, and feet’), Sabbatarian, head-covering, will-not-use-gosh-and-golly, young-earth creationist, non-dispensational etc. etc. Christian. But I do not expect that if the western world is blessed with another revival, the harvest will comprise many like me. Ah, but shouldn’t we rejoice to see them all come in. And they will all conform on the essentials–justification by faith alone, by grace alone, and in Christ alone, the scriptures alone being the inerrant and infallible Word of God—He who does the quickening will make them conform. By and by, we’ll know them then by their fruits, their godliness and righteousness (and love and unity), just as we ourselves today ought to be known. To God alone be all the glory. If there is more of a likeness than in the bare essentials, then that is an added bonus to enjoy until we reach home.

I smile as I write this last line because I just  remembered  Pastor Alfie Orr (elder in our church) stressing that when the Lord comes, thankfully, we shall ALL be changed.

Click to go to video of Piper’s interview with Warren a year later.