The Unreachable Demands of the Law of God 

"For whoever keeps the whole Law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For he who said, 'Do not commit adultery,' also said, 'Do not murder.' If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the Law." - James 2:10-11

Our culture is strongly opposed to any idea of eternal judgment, wrath, torment, and separation from God because of wrong deeds we have done. Most people would say, "Sure I've done wrong things. But I'm no Hitler. I've raised my family well, I've provided for them, I've helped the homeless, helped orphans even; I've given to charities, I've given to church. Sure I've done wrong things in my life, haven't we all? But surely those good things in my life will outweigh the bad, right? Surely the Lord or Saint Peter or whoever will let me through the pearly gates because I'm basically a good person."

When weighing our worthiness to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, it is natural for all of us to instantly begin comparing and sizing ourselves up to others around us or in history. We then deceive ourselves into thinking that since we personally don't see anything possibly worthy of eternal condemnation and punishment, then it must not be so in reality, objectively, outside of us. Yet, when weighing our worthiness or unworthiness, the Scriptures say nothing of the comparison of ourselves to others, but rather it compares us in relation to God and Him alone. Do you want to truly weigh your holiness (or lack thereof)? Then weigh it against the infinite holiness and majesty of God. Here is the place where you will see how far you fall short.

Now the unfortunate thing is that we have no ability naturally of ourselves to see the holiness and righteousness of God with which to compare ourselves to begin with, because we are spiritually blind and in fact we are, "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1). But that is why the Lord gave us the Scriptures, so that He can sovereignly reveal Himself, by His Spirit alone. We must wait on Him and His illumination though. Read More...
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Calvin: Man's Spiritual Blindness Shown From John 1:4-5 

"But we are drunk with the false opinion of our own insight and are thus extremely reluctant to admit that it is utterly blind and stupid in divine matters. Hence, it will be more effective, I believe, to prove this fact by Scriptural testimonies than by reasons. John very beautifully teaches it in a passage that I have previously quoted; he writes that: "Life was in God from the beginning and that life was the light of men; this light shines in the darkness, but the darkness comprehends it not" [John 1:4-5]. He shows that man's soul is so illumined by the brightness of God's light as never to be without some slight flame or at least a spark of it; but that even with this illumination it does comprehend God. Why is this? Because man's keenness of mind is mere blindness as far as the knowledge of God is concerned. For when the Spirit calls men "darkness," he at once denies them any ability of spiritual understanding. Therefore he declares that those believers who embrace Christ are "born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God" [John 1:13]. This means: Flesh is not capable of such lofty wisdom as to conceive God and what is God's, unless it be illumined by the Spirit of God. As Christ testified, the fact that Peter recognized him was a special revelation of the Father [Matt. 16:17]."

- John Calvin, Book 2, Chapter 2 of the Institutes, pgs. 278

All that to say: Regeneration precedes Faith and any understanding of spiritual things at all. God must open our eyes, our ears, open our minds and hearts if we are to ascend to the demands for understanding, true spiritual illumination, faith, and repentance in the Scriptures. What God commands of us He gives in Jesus Christ, including the very faith and knowledge to believe in Him. Therefore, anyone attempting to ascend to understand God of himself and his own devices will completely fail in this endeavor, for knowledge about God is revealed by God Himself. Darkness cannot reveal and ascent to the light. Rather the light illumines the darkness and causes it to flee from its presence. So it is with the Lord.
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Calvin: Science as God's Gift 

"Whenever we come upon these matters in secular writers, let that admirable light of truth shining in them teach us that the mind of man, though fallen and perverted from its wholeness, is nevertheless clothed and ornamented with God's excellent gifts. If we regard the Spirit of God as the sole fountain of truth, we shall neither reject the truth itself, nor despise it wherever it shall appear, unless we wish to dishonor the Spirit of God. For by holding the gifts of the Spirit in slight esteem, we contemn and reproach the Spirit himself. What then? Shall we deny that the truth shone upon the ancient jurists who established civic order and discipline with such great equity? Shall we say that the philosophers were blind in their fine observation and artful description of nature? Shall we say that those men were devoid of understanding who conceived the art of disputation and taught us to speak reasonably? Shall we say that they are insane who developed medicine, devoting their labor to our benefit? What shall we say of all the mathematical sciences? Shall we consider them the ravings of madmen? No, we cannot read the writings of the ancients on these subjects without great admiration. We marvel at them because we are compelled to recognize how preeminent they are. But shall we count anything praiseworthy or noble without recognizing at the same time that it comes from God? Let us be ashamed of such ingratitude, into which not even the pagan poets fell, for they confessed that the gods had invented philosophy, laws, and all useful arts. Those men whom Scripture, calls 'natural men' were, indeed, sharp and penetrating in their investigation of inferior things. Let us, accordingly, learn by their example how many gifts the Lord left to human nature even after it was despoiled if its true [spiritual] good."

- John Calvin, Book 2, Chapter 2 of the Institutes, pgs. 273-74

Isn't it amazing how something granted to man as a gracious and merciful gift (to sinners even) could be taken and used in the service of defaming and ruining His name and honor nowadays? One more example of the total depravity of man.
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Quotes from Calvin's Institutes 

I've been reading through John Calvin's magnum opus on the Christian faith lately, a piece of writing (whether people realize it or not nowadays) that has been one the biggest influences on the theological thinking of the evangelical Protestant church. I just wanted to share some choice quotes I have found recently and thought they might be encouraging to you.

"Whoever then heeds such teachers as hold us back with thought only of our good traits will not advance in self-knowledge, but will be plunged into the worst ignorance."

"Here then is what God requires us to seek in examining ourselves: it requires the kind of knowledge that will strip us of all confidence in our own ability, deprive us of all occasion for boasting, and lead us to submission."

"Nothing pleases man more than the sort of alluring talk that tickles the pride that itches in his very marrow. Therefore in nearly every age when anyone publicly extolled human nature in most favorable terms, he was listened to with applause."

"... But it does nothing but delight in its own sweetness; indeed, it so deceives as to drive those who assent to it into utter ruin."

- John Calvin, Book 2, Chapter 1 of the Institutes, pgs. 242-43

"If there is no good in us, if man is wholly sin from head to foot, if he is not even allowed to test how far the power of the will can be effective - how could anyone possibly parcel out the credit for good works between God and man?"

"Whoever is utterly cast down and overwhelmed by the awareness of his calamity, poverty, nakedness, and disgrace has thus advanced farthest in knowledge of himself."

"If it is the devil's word that exalts man in himself, let us give no place to it unless we want to take advice from our enemy."

"We should not rely on any opinion of our own strength, however small it is, if we want God to be favorable toward us, Who 'opposes the proud but gives grace to the meek.' [James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5]"

"These [passages] testify that no one is permitted to receive God's blessings unless he is consumed with the aware of his own poverty [before Him]." (My insertions for clarification)

- John Calvin, Book 2, Chapter 2 of the Institutes, pgs. 267-68

If you want to get this, the best version is the one edited by John T. McNeill which you can buy here: http://www.monergismbooks.com/Institute ... 16211.html . An amazing gift to the church!
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An Example of the Nonsense Plaguing Evangelicalism - Pyromarketing 

(Original): http://www.challies.com/archives/articl ... ting-a.php
(Archived): http://www.westerfunk.net/archives/chri ... en%20Life/

A friend of mine posted this link under an item I posted recently on Facebook and so I thought it was pertinent to read in itself. It seems secular marketers have moved more and more into the Christian publishing market, and as a result, we are receiving what we "want" to read based on statistical analysis, not necessarily what we need to be reading as believers. We need to take it back for the glory of God, not the glory of profit. www.monergismbooks.com is a great place to start.

It's not wrong to make money off of a venture in the Christian publishing industry. However, is that the driving motivation for your business? Or is it getting good literature into people's hands so they will grow in the faith? Pyromarketing techniques in evangelicalism are watering down the Gospel to where there is really no Gospel left at all that resembles anything of what the Scriptures say, or at the very least a three deep reiteration.

I would also like to add as a disclaimer that I do not believe Warren's book has done no good at all, because it is very likely some people read it who never would have read anything even remotely Christian who then later had a better explanation of the Gospel than Warren's at their local church (hopefully). So we have no idea what individuals may have been affected. To presume to know so is nonsense.

Now I would also say, along with Paul Washer, that those who say, "But I was saved through that method," that you weren't saved through it but probably in spite of it, because many of these methods have so butchered and skewed the Gospel that is beyond recognition of what the Scriptures actually say.

Regardless, this article exposes an area in our Christian culture that possesses an increasingly worldly modus operandi that really is anything but Christian if the Christian publishing companies are all about profit instead of growing people in Christ.
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Technologies and Services That Run the Westerfunk Operation 

Why is it I run these sites? Well, the main reason is for experimenting and having a sandbox to play in that is available on the internet. I test all kinds of new (and old) technologies in order to grow in the knowledge of my field. And trust me, it has helped a lot to have a hands-on environment to work in. With that said, here is a run down of the technologies I use to make my websites and servers work. This didn't happen overnight by the way :]

1) AT&T

They provide the internet connection at my house that I host my sites on. Yeah, it's just a DSL connection with a slow upload speed (thank goodness for html gzip compression!) and I don't get a ton of hits, so it works ... at least for now. I am essentially my own hosting facility (if you can even call it that with my overkill of three whole servers, one of which is an old laptop used primarily as an audio streaming server). Hopefully I'll be getting U-Verse one of these days and get the 1.5 Mbps upstream ... sweet.

2) DynDns.org

This company provides me with a free dynamic DNS (Domain Name System) account, so that when my IP (Internet Protocol) address changes on my home DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) connection, the DNS entry I use with them (westerfunk.dyndns.org) to perform a CNAME referal to on my other sites (i.e. www.westerfunk.net actually points to westerfunk.dyndns.org), is then changed automatically using a client that runs on my systems at home. The client goes out and checks my current public IP address every five minutes or so against the IP recorded in their database and updates the record if it is different (i.e. if it has changed).

All that to say ... this service makes it to where my IP address can change all day long and you can still get to my websites without a problem (except during the interval that the IP is being updated of course).

3) BIND DNS Server

This open source software has been around for a long time, I guess maybe since the inception of the internet itself back in the 70's. BIND makes it possible to point internet addresses (IP addresses) to hostnames that are easier to enter. So for instance, whenever you lookup www.davidwesterfield.net, your query goes to a DNS server on the internet (provided by your internet service provider usually) which then in turn queries my BIND DNS servers at the house (and one other anonymous location :] ). My BIND DNS servers then send a response back to your ISP's DNS server to tell it to tell you to go to a certain IP address to connect to my website. All of this happens in a matter of milliseconds whenever you lookup my sites. BIND is awesome and free. Read More...
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An Example of the Nonsense Plaguing Evangelicalism - "Marketing to Women" 

(Original): http://www.ecpa.org/wonderbrand/
(Archived): http://www.westerfunk.net/archives/chri ... rbranding/

FYI, in case you miss my point, it could theoretically be entitled, "Marketing to Men," and I would arrive at the same conclusion.

Whatever happened to just preaching and expositing the Word, in season and out of season? Seems to be out of season right now in our circles. Instead of relying on and trusting the Holy Spirit through well done exegesis of the Scripture to bring people into the church and ascribing to Him the proper role of making Christ attractive, we resort to consumeristic, fleshly, corporate marketing models and statistical analysis patterns to make Christianity "attractive" to a world that inherently hates Christ by nature ... this is really saddening. Instead we are neutering the Gospel.

We need to return to the solid, timeless truth of the Scriptures instead of worldly methods and trust Christ to draw people unto Himself. This reminds of the temple being used for monetary gain in Jesus' time. The Gospel is not a product. The church is not a marketplace. May we repent.
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Lord, Have Your Way in Me 

This is the last line in the chorus of a song we sing at church entitled, Lord, I Give You My Heart, by Reuben Morgan. I enjoy the song (though I typically have a hard time worshiping the Lord in singing about what I'm going to do for Him instead of what He has already done on my behalf at the cross, but I digress). Many times, it is very easy to just say the phrase "Lord, have Your way in me," without meditating upon its implications in our lives.

When we ask the Lord to have His way in us, it may be that He sovereignly decides to allow that which happened to Job to happen to us, or at least something comparable. Youch. Are we preparing now spiritually for this, before it happens, through Scripture studying, prayer, communion with God, and fellowship with other believers, which should all spill over into the unbelieving world around us through love and good works? And trust me, at some point trials will come, if they haven't already.

The lyrics right before this line, at least to me, can tend to soften this implication when they say, "Every breath that I take, every moment I'm awake ... Have your way in me." In no way am I criticizing the intention of the artist, Reuben Morgan, for I believe the intention in this lyric is good, and is a decent literary way of displaying our relationship with Christ. But it's just so nice and fluffy to sing about the air we breathe, the moment by moment nature of our relationship with God in Christ and what we're going to do for Him (you know, the whole WWJD/WHJD distinction - "What Would Jesus Do?" versus "What Has Jesus Done?" as a motivator for holiness?). Yet that last phrase in the chorus has vast implications in our lives. And these implications are thoroughly talked about in Scripture. Read More...
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Our Judgment Landing on Christ 

Tonight, I was reading through chapters three through five of Lamentations and Hebrews eight and I noticed a giant correlation between these chapters in both the Old and New Testaments. The lesson of Lamentations, or at least one lesson amongst many, is that God is serious about sin and its resultant judgment. If you test Him with your unrepentant sin, He will bring you to nothing, mercifully emptying you in hopes that you will see His faithfulness to keep you from pursuing that which injures the glory of God and thus you. Yet if you continue in it, He may be done mercifully intervening with trials that He means to move you toward repentance and faith and trust in Him and thus leave you to your sin. This is a frightening prospect and is in itself judgment.

This should give us great pause and reflection upon our own lives and the wickedness therein. We are depraved sinners, who, even in good things transgress His holy law with motives that are not set on exalting Christ and the glory of His grace in every way. We infinitely fall short of the glory of God. Praise Him there is mercy in Christ! But may we not be evil and abuse it to our detriment! We must be on our guard.

So the overall theme of Lamentations is that God does judge sin (being that the book was written in the aftermath of God's punishment against Jerusalem), even in those He had made a covenant with. Yet He is faithful to those who mourn their sin and seek Him, who wait on Him to act in their hearts and thus turn from those things which displease Him, only by His power. He is faithful to forgive us our debts, yet He is a just judge who rightfully acts for His own glory and name (for what in the universe is there that is better to stand up for than the glory of God and His honor?). Read More...
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Politics and the Gospel - Part 2 

After the election, in my own thinking, I have been working through how we as believers are to approach the preaching of the Gospel and politics. Particularly from the Reformed camp, I keep seeing two answers to this (broadly speaking, knowing there are probably more).

One answer is that we can do both Gospel-preaching and be politically active on issues such as abortion or feeding the homeless or whatever your pet issue may be, so long as the political activism does not eclipse the Gospel message. One example of this would be someone like William Wilberforce (mp3 audio biography) who fought to abolish slavery through legislation (something I am extremely grateful for).

But the other camp says we should not be politically vocal at all really for the sake of the Gospel, stating that all we need in culture is pure Gospel-preaching and living and the culture will change as the Lord uses that preaching and living as He sees fit to save people and move in the core of their being on these issues. At this point, I'm leaning toward this second response, though I sway back and forth. Read More...
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