Believers Are Truly Aliens in this Life 

Ever since Dave Phillips went to be with Christ, I have been feeling more like an alien here in this life. The reason for this has a lot to do with the knowledge that Dave has gone home, his true home, to be with the Lord forever in glory. That's my home, this earth is not. What matters then? Christ. "To live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21). Everything is temporal here, but everything is eternal and perfected there where Christ is. Dave loved the things in this life that the Lord blessed him with, but He loved Christ more and desired to be with him more, because Christ is everything; He is truly lovely and He is life, and knowing Him is eternal life (John 17:3). Not knowing Him is dreadful and terrifying, because there is no good apart from Him. There is no life apart from Christ, there is only wrath and fury against you. Dave has been glorified in the Lord, something I cannot even begin to fathom. He's been made perfect because of Christ's death and resurrection. I've been thinking a lot more about heaven and being perfected in Christ, about no longer having a struggle with sin, but being freed from it! How wonderful. What an awesome thing to look forward to! The past week and a half or so, I have just been longing for my true home more. What a glorious day it shall be when I see Christ face to face, no longer living by faith but by sight! Dave has been finally conformed to Christ, and oh how I long for that day! Christ is my Savior, King, Lord, God, Stronghold, Strength, Deliverer, Righteousness, Rock, Fortress, Shield, Protector, my everything (Psalm 18:2). I have nothing apart from Him, even if I possess the whole world (Mark 8:36-37). I have found so much joy in knowing that Christ will rule one day forever and that I will go to be with Him because of His glorious work in my life through the cross. On the cross, He took my punishment on Himself, having become a curse for me, He then died, rose from the grave, ascended into heaven, and then at His pre-appointed time, applied the work of the cross in my heart by the Holy Spirit, that I would be regenerated from my dead, wretched, sinful soul that wanted nothing to do with Him, given the eyes to see and ears to hear the wonderous work and call of the Gospel, and He then gave me the gift of faith (provided through the cross) that I would apprehend Him and love Him (Acts 16:14). It is this truth that has set me free and given me life. God saved me, it is all His work, I was only a dead recipient, made alive by the Gospel. There is nothing I desire more than Christ. And it is this truth that Christ will ultimately conform me to Himself in glory that has given me so much hope in all my trials throughout my whole life. Dave is there in glory and perfected, no longer entangled in this mess of sin and corruption. And though I will miss him for a time, how wonderful is it that He sees the glory of Christ, right now!? The Dave we loved, talked with, interacted with, is now with the Lord. How I long to be conformed to Christ! This event has just driven me closer to Christ and desiring to be like Him, loving the things He loves, and hating the things He hates, and sharing the Gospel with others. Man I want to be there with Christ. He is my all and my wonderous God and King. He is so faithful and glorious. And it is through the cross that this has been made actual for Dave and will be made actual for me when I die and can be made actual for any of you who do not know the Lord, who do not know Him savingly. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave, that if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9). Then with this truth, do not be conformed to this sinful world any longer, but walk in the renewal of your mind (Romans 12:1-2), casting off sin by the work of the cross and look forward to the hope of the complete redemption of your soul at death, and the resurrection of your body on the Day of the Lord. O Lord, come soon, we love You and need You. Send Your Spirit in power that we may live lives pleasing to You. O Lord, teach us to love the things You love and hate the things You hate. Teach us and work in us, Father, to love and exalt Christ more than anything in this world. O Lord we are weak and frail sinners, corrupted by our wickedness and the vile that remains in our hearts. Cleanse us with Your blood, remove our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh (Ezekial 36:26) that we may live our lives in submission to Your sovereignty and rule over our lives, giving You glory in any and every circumstance (Philippians 4:12-13). O Lord, we are aliens in this life, and we should live as such, preaching Your cross and the redemption You have provided through it (Romans 10:14-15). Lord, as the song It Is Well with My Soul states, "Haste the day when my faith shall be sight." Let us always consider that our dwelling is not here, where moth and rust destroy, but where the great God of glory lives, where the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world lives! You are holy and glorious! There is none like You.
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The Justice of God 

Did God have to save anyone? Is God obligated to show mercy? Could He have sent everyone to hell? And would it have been right and just? These questions bring up the issue of God's justice. Being that God is holy, pure, sinless, just, and good, when sin enters reality as it has, God cannot be in its presence and He must render payment for all wrong done against Him and His glory in order to be just. So the question arises: Would it be just for God to render judgment to His creation that rebelled against Him? Absolutely. He could send everyone to hell and be totally right in doing that. This is a very important point to understand when approaching God in the Scriptures because many will assume that God is indeed obligated to show mercy. But this goes against the very meaning of mercy: not receiving what you deserve. We earned wrath. And He's in no way obligated or contrained by anything within His creation, including us humans. He didn't have to show mercy. God could have provided no chance for anyone to have been saved, we would have all stood before the judgment seat of God, and rightfully be sent to hell for our wickedness against Him. And we would know that it was right. Remember here that God must render payment for sin commited. So how is it that God can declare an unjust, unrighteous, wicked sinner like me to be just? How is it that God can now be in the presence of sinners at all? In order for God to be just in declaring sinners righteous, He Himself had to come in the flesh and live perfectly and die a sinners death and take the punishment for sin on Himself. Who was it that came in the flesh? Jesus Christ. He came in order that 1) God would be declared just and 2) that He would be the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:26). So God, pre-Christ, had passed over former sins, not rendering due payment for wrong done in declaring sinners righteous (Romans 3:21-26). If God passes over sins with no rendering of payment, then God is unjust. But in Christ, God is declared just because Jesus (the Son of God, equal with the Father) lived a perfect life, fulfilling the law of God, and by dying on a cross showed God to be righteous by taking the judgment of God within Himself on the cross. So first and foremost, God was declared to be just on the cross, and this is the single most important thing that occurred there, mainly because if God is unjust He ceases to be God and this cannot be. And of only secondary importance (though amazing and wonderful for us!), God declares sinners to be just by faith in Christ and is thus merciful in doing so. How is this so? He took the punishment, the just wrath of God, for the person who has faith in His blood. What is mercy though? It is not receiving what you do deserve. We deserve wrath, but in Christ, by belief in Him, we are made just. How amazing and incredible! So in summing up, God indeed does render all accounts paid in full in the end, either in the sinner or in Christ for the sinner who has faith in Him. He is just and does render due payment for sin done against Him. But it happens in one of two ways: it is either paid in the sinner for eternity in hell, or it is paid in Christ's death and resurrection, for the one who has faith in Him. God is "just, and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." So the question is not, "Why doesn't God save everyone for all time?" but rather, "Why does God save anyone at all? Why doesn't He just wipe us out right now and be done with it?" This magnifies the mercy and grace of God when you see that God could indeed have sent you and everyone else to hell (and will if you reject Christ) but made a way for salvation from hell in Christ, by placing your faith and trust in Him and His work, not your own. How wonderful!
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Built a New Server 

Well I finally got my new server going. I'm very excited and have switched over several of my sites (including this one) over to the new server. Here are the specs (yes I'm a nerd):

3.0 GHz P4
1.5 GB RAM
300 GB HD
128 MB GeForce NVidia
1000 Gbps NIC
Windows XP Pro
Apache 2.0.55 w/Proxy and SSL Functionality
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Double-Predestination: Misunderstandings 

The term Double-Predestination is somewhat misleading in my estimation. Though I do in fact believe this doctrine and all it entails (mainly based on the texts within Exodus of God hardening Pharoah's heart and Paul reiterating the point of that story in Romans 9), and because of the logical outcome that if God chooses some He inherently chooses to pass over others, the term seems to imply to many adamantly opposed to this doctrine that God, by His sheer decree, forces people into hell, and thus God would be unloving for doing so. This understanding of this doctrine is wrong and misses the point. God is sovereign, and yet man is responsible. This is a paradox. Both are true and yet they seem to contradict each other, but they don't. How you ask? Well, Scripture is silent, and thus, so are we. It is indeed a mystery. However, Scripture is very clear that apart from an inward change initiated and carried out by the Holy Spirit, all men would always exercise their will and choose to rebel against God, thus being deserving of eternal torment. We must remember that our will's, in addition to every facet of our existence is tainted and corrupted by sin. Therefore, if this is true, that man will always turn from God apart from His grace intervening in our wicked hearts, that means God must make an active decision to save some of the human race. But in saving some, God does not force the rest into hell. They choose to go there of their own volition, being "by nature objects of wrath" (Ephesians 2:1-3). With these unbelievers though, God sovereignly doesn't intervene to change their hearts and allows them to continue in their rebellion against Him, deservingly perishing. God cannot successfully and truthfully be blamed for their sin and their wicked disposition. So in one sense God is not active in forcing them into hell, but in another sense He is sovereign over all things and can do as He pleases with His own creation and is therefore active in that He always accomplishes His good purposes, as difficult as that is for us to swallow. So to sum up, God is active in saving the elect, passive in regard to the non-elect, lifting His restraint and allowing the wicked to continue in their natural state, in sin, rebellion, and unbelief, and yet God is sovereign over all of it and is active in all of it. As Tommy Nelson from Denton Bible Church puts it, to the unbeliever God says, "Thy Will Shall Be Done, " but to the believer God says, "Thy Will Shall Not Be Done, " and then intervenes with free, unmerited, grace provided through the cross of Christ, made effectual by the Holy Spirit, in order that the elect will repent and believe in Christ of their own, newly regenerated will.
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The Greatness and Sufficiency of Christ 

Christ is our only hope in life and death. There is no satisfaction, no joy, no true everlasting happiness apart from Christ. God has spoken to us through creation. But more specifically, He has spoken to us in His Son, Jesus Christ, through His word, the Scriptures. What may be known about God, His eternal nature and His divine attributes, are clearly displayed to all in His creation (Romans 1:19-20). But we must know more in order to be saved because of our plight in sin. And God has spoken to us, loud and clear, in His word, the Scriptures, loudly proclaiming that through faith alone in Christ, His death and resurrection for your sins, you can be justified before the Father, that Christ's perfect account is imputed to us when we believe in Him. We then stand justified because of Christ's cross, His atonement for our sins. God has spoken to us in His Son (Hebrews 1:1-4). And not only does He save us for all eternity through faith in Him from sin, death, and hell, but He also is our comforter, our intercessor, our great High Priest while we are still in this world of sin. When trials, temptations, and pain come our way, our first inclination is to turn to people first for hope and comfort. And though it is necessary to obtain comfort from friends and family, the comfort they can provide is finite and limited. So our first response to pain and trials must be to turn to Christ and then secondarily, turn to people. He is the great Physician, the great Care-giver, the great Counselor (Hebrews 4:15). There is no one that satisfies like Christ satisfies. During the past several days, I have found my hope and comfort in Him alone. Christ has strengthened me through fellowship with believers for sure. But they cannot provide the true fellowship I need from Christ alone. Though I desperately need fellowship with other believers, I need Christ 10,000 times more than I need them. And He gives me fellowship with Himself through their fellowship. But if I go to them alone and not to Christ, I will be left dry. I must fly to Christ first and then to believers fellowship. I could be stripped of all earthly things and Christ would satisfy me because He is my Rock, the great King of kings and Lord of lords. There is no one like Him. The point of trials is that we may turn from our sin and turn to Christ, for the unbeliever and the believer. For the unbeliever it's a call to repent from sin and believe in the name of the Son of God, that you cast your all upon Him and His sufficiency. For the believer it's a call to trust Christ all the more with every facet of your life, that in everything you set aside all idols, hope, and trust in anything that's finite and contingent, and cast yourself upon the free grace and infinite mercy of Christ. As strange as it is to the natural mind, both blessings and trials are mercy from God. Yes even trials are mercy, and given in order that we may turn from sin, and trust in Christ alone. Where else can we go in seasons of suffering? What other hope is there? What other name under heaven is given to men by which we must be saved but by the name of Christ? I have found nothing in this world, not even relationships, not even marriage, to satisfy my soul as Christ does. He has been just astoundingly faithful and proven Himself true over and over again, in order that I must throw myself upon Him. He is lovely, holy, righteous, beautiful, trustworthy, all-encompassing in His glory.
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"It Is Well With My Soul" ... Horatio Spafford 

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!


It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Written in 1873 by Horatio Spafford. Music added in 1876 by Philip Bliss.

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This hymn was writ­ten af­ter two ma­jor trau­mas in Spaf­ford’s life. The first was the great Chi­ca­go Fire of Oc­to­ber 1871, which ru­ined him fi­nan­cial­ly (he had been a weal­thy bus­i­ness­man). Short­ly af­ter, while cross­ing the At­lan­tic, all four of Spaf­ford’s daugh­ters died in a col­li­sion with an­o­ther ship. Spaf­ford’s wife Anna sur­vived and sent him the now fa­mous tel­e­gram, “Saved alone.” Sev­er­al weeks lat­er, as Spaf­ford’s own ship passed near the spot where his daugh­ters died, the Ho­ly Spir­it in­spired these words. They speak to the eter­nal hope that all be­liev­ers have, no mat­ter what pain and grief be­fall them on earth. - Taken from http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/i/t/i/itiswell.htm
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David Phillips (Life Stage 1 Pastor @ CCBC) Has Passed Away 

"...there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."
- Proverbs 18:24

"The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD."
- Job 1:21

"Frequently it is when we are crushed and devastated that the cross speaks most powerfully to us. The wounds of Christ then become Christ's credentials. The world mocks, but we are assured of God's love by Christ's wounds."
- D.A. Carson.

For all of you who have not heard, David Phillips, the Life Stage 1 pastor over the student ministries @ Christ Chapel Bible Church, passed away this morning in a car wreck on his way to preach at the main services. This has been quite a shock for everyone, but Jesus is Lord, and nothing happens apart from His will. That, in addition to many other things (the death and resurrection of the Son of God being the main thing), is our comfort in the midst of this trial. This is apart of His perfect plan that we cannot fathom. Romans 5, Romans 8, James 1, all of Job, and the Psalms come alive even more so during times like this. This is for the Lord's glory and the ultimate good of those who love Him. For me personally, as with many others, David Phillips played a huge role in my developmental process, spiritually and emotionally. As God's instrument, he was one of the main influences for me coming back to Christ after having turned my back on Him in anger for the things He ordained to happen to my family. In addition, Dave was one of the main influences on my theology. When Dave first came on board @ CCBC, one of the biggest things he brought in his teaching was Justification and what all that entails. Though I didn't know that at the time (as far as the particular doctrine), his teaching of this essential piece of the Gospel, was one of the biggest reasons for my change, to trust in and fall on Christ and His perfect righteousness, having taken my sin and it's punishment on Himself and having given me His righteousness through the cross. In addition to all of the doctrines he taught that are so essential to the Christian faith (5 Solas, Doctrines of Grace, Reformed theology), the one thing He brought that revolutionized my walk with Christ was his teaching on loving Him first and foremost above all other things, in all the facets of my life. Eating, reading, talking, thinking, in everything, do all things to the glory of God. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone). I was changed because I saw the practical, applicational nature of this in Dave. All of the theology undergirded that one thing, that one command even. He didn't just talk about theology in some stoic, academic sense alone, but lived it out, applied it in his life, and as a result, many lives (including mine) have been transformed by the Gospel of Christ, under David Phillips teaching. I thank Jesus immensely that He sovereignly brought Dave Phillips into my life as God's instrument of grace that I may live my life in love for Christ and pointing others toward Him. And Dave wasn't only my spiritual father in leading me back to Christ, but he then became an amazing friend of mine. Praise God for Dave's life, and praise God in his passing. I will miss him immensely, along with so many others, and I am deeply sorrowful for this loss. But what we mean for evil, God means for (designs for) good (Genesis 50:20).

Please pray for Dave's wife, Jen, as well as both sides of their families as they mourn this great loss. And please pray for the student ministries at Christ Chapel as students process this information. Pray that many unbelieving students would come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior, and pray that those who do know Christ would persevere and endure in their faith, to the praise of the glory of the grace of Christ.

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Services:

The Viewing will be held at Greenwood Funeral Home, Tuesday, Feb. 21 from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

The Funeral will be held at McKinney Memorial Bible Church Wednesday, Feb. 22 @ 4 p.m. with a reception following the service at the "Bubble" at Christ Chapel Bible Church.

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Amazing. On Friday, Dave posted the sermon he was going to give ...
Dave's MySpace Sermon Entry

Star-Telegram Article Article 2
CBS11TV.com Article
WFAA.com Article



"But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself."
- Philippians 3:20-21
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Definite Redemption 

Many Christians hear the phrase limited atonement and just cringe. "What a repulsive idea! How could you even propose such an idea?" The term "limited atonement" within Calvinism is very misleading though. I instead prefer the term definite redemption, or definite atonement. First of all, many against Calvinism imply we are stating Christ's death couldn't have saved everyone, that we are "limiting" it's power by making this assertion. This is just wrong. Christ's blood possesses infinite value because He is God and He is infinite, eternal. His blood has infinite worth, able to cleanse trillions upon trillions, infinite numbers of sins and sinners. Could His death and resurrection have saved everyone? Absolutely! What are we talking about though in terms of the limit? It's very simple. It's not talking about the worth of Christ's blood, but the scope of who it's applied to. What was the intention of the cross? To make everyone savable (a possible salvation if the hearer adds a response of faith to the call of the Gospel (a faith produced by their unregenerated human nature)), or to render certain the salvation of specific people, namely His children, the chosen, the elect? Was it to cover all sins except unbelief or to cover all sins including unbelief (i.e. rendering certain faith and repentance)? IF our doctrine of Unconditional Election is true, stating that God, from eternity, from before the foundation of the world, chose specific individuals without regard to their future works, faith, repentance, looks, smartness, or any other thing (hence the word unconditional), but that He chose them simply because of His eternal love (to which we humbly, undeservingly, and contritely answer, "Praise God!"), then what was the intention of the death of Christ? To make salvation merely possible or to make it certain? That is what this doctrine is about. I believe John Piper is very helpful on this ...

"The term 'limited atonement' addresses the question, 'For whom did Christ die?' But behind the question of the extent of the atonement lies the equally important question about the nature of the atonement. What did Christ actually achieve on the cross for those for whom he died? ...

... Which of these statements is true?

1. Christ died for some of the sins of all men.

2. Christ died for all the sins of some men.

3. Christ died for all the sins of all men.

No one says that the first is true, for then all would be lost because of the sins that Christ did not die for. The only way to be saved from sin is for Christ to cover it with his blood.

The third statement is what the Arminians would say. Christ died for all the sins of all men. But then why are not all saved? They answer, Because some do not believe. But is this unbelief not one of the sins for which Christ died? If they say yes, then why is it not covered by the blood of Jesus and all unbelievers saved? If they say no (unbelief is not a sin that Christ has died for) then they must say that men can be saved without having all their sins atoned for by Jesus, or they must join us in affirming statement number two: Christ died for all the sins of some men. That is, he died for the unbelief of the elect so that God's punitive wrath is appeased toward them and his grace is free to draw them irresistibly out of darkness into his marvelous light."

(Taken from "What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism" - John Piper and Bethlehem Baptist Church Staff - This sums up what I believe pertaining to Calvinism as well)

11-Part MP3 Audio Series on Calvinism by John Piper
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GAIM 1.5 

I installed GAIM 1.5 (an all-inclusive Instant Messaging program encompassing AIM, MSN, Yahoo, Jabber, IRC, SIRC, and maybe one other). I set it up yesterday on my server to see how it would work, and I'm a little disappointed. It worked fine for about 18 hours and then gaim.exe started pegging my processor at 99% I discovered this morning. So that's annoying. I can't have something running on one of my server's that's going to peg it all the time. So I'm back to using the regular AOL IM. GAIM is less memory intensive than AIM, but the processor issue is troubling. Another thing I don't like about GAIM is that it doesn't have the ability to setup certificates for encrypting your conversations. This isn't a huge deal and most people don't care about that, but in some situations, I don't want anyone I know, who is tech savvy, gaining access to my personal conversations with others. So this functionality within AIM makes it very difficult for others to capture your conversations. Other than those two things, I believe GAIM is great. I run it on my linux server and have had none of these problems. I guess the Windows build just doesn't like my environment or something.
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Update: DSL Hasn't Dropped Since the Fix 

I had my wife take the DSL filter just off of the modem and since then I've only had one minor problem (for like 10 seconds based on monitoring). Why don't they just tell you to plug your DSL modem straight into the wall and to not put the filter on it at the very beginning, thus bypassing all the tech calls to India and problems I've had? Argh, oh well. God is sovereign and it has been good in working on my sanctification, so praise Him for the problems (as if this was a real trial at all in the scheme of trials in the past and the trials of others). Well it was frustrating to me dern it :) But it looks like taking the filter out of the picture may have done it, so woo hoo! I'll keep all of you updated who even care to read this far about something that affects no one but me.
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