Matthew R. Perry

Archive for November, 2006|Monthly archive page

Update on Dad (11.30.06)

In Uncategorized on November 30, 2006 at 12:39 am

I wanted to give you an update on my Dad’s recuperation from his injuries (click here if you are not aware of what happened).

When my family and I went to see him over Thanksgiving, he looked great! He possessed a very positive attitude and his mind was as sharp as ever. He is learning how to walk with a walker, and Mom told me he took 35 steps today. He has set for him a release date of December 22nd — Holly’s birthday. The way he’s moving, I know he’ll do it!

God kept Dad around for a reason. If nothing else, Dad seems to be playing the part of George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” He now realizes how truly rich he is with his family and his church and that he helps all of us have a wonderful life as well. Our goal is to make these years that God has left for him happy years. Dad has worked so hard his whole life to provide for us, it’s time now that we as his family take care of him.

So life on that front is looking much, much better. Thank you for your prayers. Keep them coming!

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Why All The Angst Against Calvinism? (Introduction)

In Theology on November 29, 2006 at 12:46 pm

From reading the far too large amount of blogs and from reading our Baptist state newspapers, one would surmise that the great plague of our Convention is not unfaithfulness to Scripture but those who hold to the Doctrines of Grace — also known as Calvinism. Jerry who moderates the SBC Outhouse noted in the comments section of a blog entry called “Hubris, Hubris, Hubris!!!” that “no SBC seminary president should ever be a five-point Calvinist.” One fellow in our state Baptist newspaper lamented all the hyper-Calvinists in our SBC who are dividing our churches. And in probably the most distasteful of all responses to Calvinism (or should I say the misunderstanding therein) goes to Dr. Ergun Caner, President of Liberty Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, VA, who comes up with a spiteful book cover entitled “A Potter’s Hatred: Learning to Love the Hatred of God — a Celebration of Reprobation.” Dr. Caner and Dr. James A White of Alpha Omega Ministries were to debate Calvinism vs. non-Calvinism. Yet the debate never occurred and Caner ended up sadly representing Liberty University with his rhetoric and misrepresentations of the Doctrines of Grace. More on that in a later post.

Our first inclination should be to step back and say, “Hold on! We need to clear up some terms here to cut through this myriad of misconceptions.” Over the next few days, I’ll spend some time dealing with one misperception at a time. But my desire is to show that Calvinism is not a pox on humanity nor a plague in the church, but comes from some rather ignored portions of Scripture. We have this tendency to either glance over Scriptures that we find offensive or we tend to redefine some rather concrete terms to fit into our mold.

Next: Misperception #1 — Calvinism says that God is mean.

A Trinidadian Pastor Wishlist Update (11.28.06)

In Missions, Trinidad & Tobago on November 27, 2006 at 10:59 pm

Our tenth book was recently added to the number of books we plan to take to help Trinidadian pastors advance the kingdom. The most recent purchase by one of you in blogdom was “Systematic Theology” by Wayne Grudem. Thank you again!

To view the wishlist and possibly contribute, click here.

Go From Grieving to Gladdening the Holy Spirit

In Uncategorized on November 26, 2006 at 11:38 pm

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

While this verse likely connects with verse 30, it truly can connect with all of these already mentioned — our sin and our unrighteousness grieves the Holy Spirit. And with this we see that all those critics who say that the Holy Spirit is a force or simply a source of energy must deal with the fact that the Holy Spirit grieves and weeps thus demonstrating his personhood. When we see wicked behavior and sinfulness in others, it is difficult, but when we see our children engaged in this, it cuts right to our hearts.

If you look back at verse 27, you see the connection there as well. If you grieve the Holy Spirit of God, you give the devil a foothold. Yet, we are not to grieve but to gladden the Spirit of God — why? — because we “were sealed by Him for the day of redemption.” Ephes. 1:13-14 says, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, [14] who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” The seal is his personal mark of ownership — his seal of approval, if you will. John MacArthur notes:

How can we grieve the One who is our Helper, Comforter, Teacher, Advocate, Divine Resident of our hearts, and guarantor of our eternal redemption? How can we ungraciously grieve God’s infinitely gracious Holy Spirit? He has done so much for us that, out of gratitude, we ought not to grieve Him (Ephesians, 189).

Did you notice that every one of these issues deals with human relationships? And do you see how they can tear down unity and fellowship even among believers? Bitterness and anger are like piranhas in the Amazon that can debone a horse in thirty seconds — anger does the same thing.

St. Francis of Assisi penned a prayer that has brought comfort and motivation to millions throughout church history:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
when there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand,
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying [to ourselves] that we are born to eternal life.

Types of Words That Tear Down

In Devotional on November 26, 2006 at 12:34 pm

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:29, ESV).

Many of you heard in the news about Michael Richards’ stand-up routine at a comedy club over a week ago. Richards’ claim to fame is his role of Kramer in the sit-com Seinfeld. His body of work is impressive, but his two and a half minute rant that was filled with racist and hate-filled vocabulary has hurt his career terribly if not ruined it. This demonstrates the power of words — they can either build up or tear down.

Paul tells us through the Holy Spirit to “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths.” That word “corrupting” comes from the Greek word sapros which means “rotten or worthless, not fit for use.” It’s the same word that is used by Jesus when he says, “It is not the good tree that bears bad fruit” (Luke 6:43). Just as we are to be wise about every dollar we give as the fruit of our labor (Ephesians 4:28), so too are we to be wise about every word we give to others. Our speech is our calling card to who we are. What we say is the currency that we use — and how are we using it? To build up, or to tear down? To bestow grace, or to corrupt?

Equalizers: Some use words as weapons to equal and level the playing field — often caused by bitterness. They crack jokes about someone else’ appearance, someone else’s mistakes, or any other perceived deficiency or shortcoming and use those words to point those things out in order to put them in their place. Sadly, this is the result of some subconscious shortcoming in the person telling the joke. Our speech should build up, not tear down in the guise of a joke or a rebuke that has nothing constructive about it. If you have to get a laugh at the expense of someone else, then it’s not worth telling — and would put 99% of the stand-up comics out of work.

Stabilizers. These are words backed by rage or anger — you feel you must speak these words to someone about someone or something to get it “off your chest” so you will feel better. These words may certainly make you feel much better than you did and may make your emotions feel more balanced and … well … stable. Yet while you may feel better, so does the weather seem better after a hurricane blasts through — yet it leaves untold damage in its wake.

Scandalizers. These are the words of a gossips and slanderers. In fact, if you read verse 31, you see the word ‘slander’ as an item we must put away. The word in the Greek is the word ‘blasphemia.’ You guess it, it’s where we get the word blaspheme. “Did you hear that so-and-so did so-and-so and thus so-and-so happened? But don’t tell so-and-so I told you because he might do so-and-so, so… there it is!” When say to someone “You fool,” Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:22 that endangers us to the fire of hell. Jokes that are at the expense of someone, whether their appearance, their intelligence, or any other thing that tears down rather than builds up has no place in the life of the Christian.

Tranquilizer. These are words which try to knock people out. In verse 31, we see the word, ‘clamor’ which deals with a shout or and outcry of strife with a public outburst revealing a loss of control. When you tell someone to “Shut up!” or to go to a place of eternal destiny that is not heaven or some other expletive and unrepeatable. Rather than a graceful and gracious word coming out, words that possess no love and no edifying nature at all come out.

Trivializer. These types of words are the worst. These are words that take words which are holy and sacred or deal with sacred themes and use them for things profane or vulgar. I call them trivializers because of what John Piper preached one Sunday:

These expressions trivialize things of terrible seriousness. It’s simply a contradiction to believe in the horrible reality of hell and use the word like a punctuation mark for emphasis when talking about sports or politics.

Words that are found in the Bible such as God, Jesus, Christ, hell, damn, or holy are not used for their sacred purpose, but are as Commandment #3 notes, used “in vain.” God tells us elsewhere, “You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:12, ESV).

Contrast this with Jesus who, in Luke 4:22, is described thusly: “And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth.”  Our words are to be a blessing that reflects our Lord Jesus Christ in us, not our own vain and bitter musings. 

We surely must be careful to be ones who are constructive, but also appropriate.  Not every word needs to be said, even if it is true.  You may say something totally true, but in such a manner that it hurts more than it builds up.  Going up to a friend and saying, “I think you look fat/skinny/ dumpy/(fill in the blank)” though it may be true, how helpful is it?  In fact, if you are one who says things like that, turn it around — would you like it?  If someone says to you what you say to others, how would you feel?  Better or worse?

Having said that, if we approach it in love and tell someone, “You know, this seems like a sinful and disobedient way to go — I love you in the Lord, but I must say, this seems like a dangerous path.”  This, though at first seems nosy and prying, will build up if this is from the Lord and led with love.

I’ll close with this:

Proverbs 25:11

    A word fitly spoken

        is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.

 

Proverbs 25:12

    Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold

        is a wise reprover to a listening ear.

 

Proverbs 15:23

    To make an apt answer is a joy to a man,

        and a word in season, how good it is!

 

Proverbs 24:26

    Whoever gives an honest answer

        kisses the lips.

Frank Gaebelein wrote:

Tongue control?  It will never be achieved unless there is first of all heart and mind control. . . .  When any Christian comes to the point of yielding to the Lord — in full sincerity, cost what it may — control of his thought life, the problem of managing his tongue will be solved, provided that suce a surrender goes deeper than the intellect and reaches the emotions and the will. 

Most of the problems with our speech comes from the root of being not only out of control with our emotions but out of God’s control.  In other words, the Gospel has not fully gripped our hearts.

Keep At Your Work

In Devotional, Uncategorized on November 25, 2006 at 12:01 am

The Lord has given to every man his work. It is his business to do it, and the devil’s business to hinder him, if he can. So sure as God has given you a work to do, Satan will try to hinder you. He may present other things more promising. He may allure you by worldly prospects, he may assault you with slander, torment you with false accusations, set you to work defending your character, employ pious persons to lie about you, editors to assail you, and excellent men to slander you. You man have Pilate and Herod, Ananias and Ciaphas all convinced against you, and Judas standing by you, ready to sell you for thirty pieces of silver; and you may wonder why all those things come upon you. Can you not see that the whole thing is brought about through the craf! t of the devil? To draw you off from your work and hinder your obedience to God?Keep about your work. Do not flinch because the lion roars; do not stop to stone the devil’s dogs; do not fool away your time chasing the devil’s rabbits. Do your work. Let liars lie, let sectarians quarrel, let corporations resolve, let editors publish, let the devil do his worst; but see to it that nothing hinders you from fulfilling the work that God has given you.

He has not sent you to make money. He has not commanded you to get rich. He has never bidden you to defend your character. He has not set you at work to contradict falsehood that Satan and his servants may start to peddle. If you do those things you will do nothing else; you will be at work for yourself and not for the Lord.

Keep about your work. Let your aim be as steady as a star. Let the world brawl and bubble. You may be assaulted, wronged, insulted, slandered, wounded, and rejected; you! may be abused by foes, forsaken by friends, and despised and rejected of men, but see to it with steadfast determination, with unfaltering zeal, that you pursue the great purpose of your life and object of your being, until at last you can say, “ I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do.”

(HT:  Jeffery Hallmark, www.sprucelandbaptist.com)

Peace Prayer from St. Francis of Assisi

In Devotional on November 24, 2006 at 10:11 pm

st-francis-birds-2.jpgLord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
when there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand,
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying [to ourselves] that we are born to eternal life.

Penetrating Questions To Ask During Your Devotions

In Devotional on November 24, 2006 at 12:01 am

In perusing Monergism.com, I came across the page of George Whitefield.  I was intrigued by a link which read “The Twenty-two Questions Members of John Wesley’s/George Whitefield Holy Club Asked Themselves Every Day In Their Private Devotions More Than 200 Years Ago.” Here are the questions.

  • Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression than I am better than I really am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
  • Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
  • Do I confidentially pass on to another what I was told to me in confidence?
  • Can I be trusted?
  • Am I a slave to dress, friends, work or habits?
  • Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
  • Did the Bible live in me today?
  • Do I give it time to speak to me every day?
  • Am I enjoying prayer?
  • When did I last speak to someone else of my faith?
  • Do I pray about the money I spend?
  • Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
  • Do I disobey God in anything?
  • Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
  • Am I defeated in any part of my life?
  • Am I jealous impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrusting?
  • How do I spend my spare time?
  • Am I proud?
  • Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisees who despised the publican?
  • Is there anyone I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it?
  • Do I grumble or complain constantly?
  • Is Christ real to me?
  • My goodness! Praise God that He allowed these questions to remain! May they take up permanent residence in our hearts as we thoroughly examine ourselves!

    More Evidence for Traditional (Read: Biblical) Marriage

    In Uncategorized on November 23, 2006 at 6:00 am

    The November 20, 2006, edition of the Wall Street Journal gave an excellent analysis for the merits of traditional (read: biblical) marriage — that is, marriage between one husband and one wife for life. Thanks to Gary Bauer of American Values for passing this information along.

    35% of children in single parent households live below the poverty level. Cohabitation actually makes it worse, with 40% of children with cohabiting parents living below the poverty level. The percentage of children in married households living below the poverty level – 8%.

    11% of children in single parent households were found to have high levels of behavioral and emotional problems, compared to 9% of children with cohabiting parents. The percentage of children with high levels of behavioral and emotional problems in married households – 6%.

    23% of kids in single parent households have been suspended or expelled from school in the past 12 months and it’s the same for children with cohabiting parents. The percentage of children in married households suspended or expelled from school in the past 12 months – 10%.

    Given this information, it is still amazing that those who are for same-sex marriage ignore these statistics and the stability traditional (read: biblical) marriage provides.

    43rd anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis

    In Uncategorized on November 21, 2006 at 11:16 pm

    cs_lewis.jpgWhile the world mourns the death of John F. Kennedy, Christians worldwide mourn the death of Clive Staples (C.S.) Lewis. Author of such notable and influential works such as Mere Christianity and the Screwtape Letters, Lewis provided me with a fresh look not only at the Scriptures but also at the philosophy in which I lived my life. Here are some very worthwhile quotes by him — others may be found at http://www.brainyquote.com .

    A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.

    A man who is eating or lying with his wife or preparing to go to sleep in humility, thankfulness and temperance, is, by Christian standards, in an infinitely higher state than one who is listening to Bach or reading Plato in a state of pride.

    Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.

    If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.

    And my favorite…

    If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.

    Of note as well: philosopher Aldous Huxley along with JFK and C.S. Lewis passed away on the same day, November 22, 1963.

    Praise God for the tremendous contribution Lewis made to evangelicalism and philosophy.