Internet Radio is in Immediate Danger! 

From the SomaFM website:

"The Copyright Royalty Board, a three judge panel responsible for the March 2nd ruling that set webcast royalties at their new increased rate, has denied all parties' motion for rehearing of the ruling on procedural grounds."

From Shoutcast.com:

"The Copyright Royalty Board in Washington, DC has more than tripled the royalty rates for webcasters and if left unchanged they will *KILL* Internet radio. These exorbitant rates go into effect on May 15, less than a month from now (retroactive to Jan 1, 2006!). Without Congressional action the majority of webcasters will go bankrupt and silent on this date."

Please contact your congressman to reverse this injustice on the part of major record labels and RIAA by going here: http://www3.capwiz.com/saveinternetradio/home/
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Where Was God During the Shootings Today? 

FYI, I talk about some graphic things from my life in this post:

I know that many, especially those who question the validity of Christianity, are asking this very question today. Where was God during such an awful tragedy? Or at the very least, why didn't He intervene if He is good and righteous? I want to start out by saying I completely sympathize with this question, because I asked that very question myself in the past. I went through a rough childhood where my mom had been hospitalized in mental institutions over and over. She had been sexually abused by her mother when she was a child and had severe mental disorders such as multiple personalities, bi-polar disorder, and dissociative disorder as a result of the abuse. Some of her personalities were suicidal and she would cut herself frequently. My brother and I had to hold her arm together on many occasions until the paramedics arrived. I can't count the number of times she had to be hospitalized during birthday's (mostly my brother's), the Christmas' she wasn't apart of at home, and other times that made life very difficult. In addition, there's the childhood trauma of going to psyche wards from a young age to visit our mom. So trust me, I know all about questioning the goodness and righteousness of God. I twisted off for a number of years in rebellion to God as a result of these things, taking drugs, hanging out with Satanists, and delving into all kinds of other wickedness. I asked myself where was God during the times I had to clean up my mother's blood from the floor? Where was God when she almost died from a gran mal seizure in my High School years?

I can say with confidence as well as hope that God was right in the middle of my personal tragedies and these shootings. How do I find any comfort from that? After I turned to Christ by His work in my life, I saw the very truth that is proclaimed in Job that John Piper articulates so well: I did not find comfort from God in secondary causes such as, "Satan was the one who did this, not God," or "God is fully love, therefore He had no part of this, so turn to Him," but rather, I found comfort in seeing that God ultimately is the One who permits or disallows evil and that He allowed it in my life to bring me to Himself. Most Christians at this point scoff at such a statement. "You are ascribing evil to God!" No, I am not. Are there not aspects concerning God's attributes we all agree on that we cannot necessarily understand how they work together? How about Jesus being fully man and fully God at the same time? How about the Trinity being three persons in one God? How about the predestining work of God unto salvation and man's responsibility for his sin? There's a host of these and we embrace them by faith.

So here is what I am saying: God is without sin and wickedness; and at the same time, in His sovereign will to bring about a plan that would bring about the greatest amount of glory for Himself, without sinning, He permits evil to occur. I am saying that He is sovereign and has enacted a plan we cannot understand. In the beginning of Job, Satan must ask the permission of God to perform wicked acts on Job and his household. God is the one who allows or disallows evil. Nothing happens apart from His sovereign will. Is God not omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient? Doesn't this reality bring us to the conclusion that God is there in the midst of the tragedy and has allowed it for His purposes? In the end of the book of Job, Job doesn't find comfort in secondary causes but finds comfort from the ultimate source and cause, God Himself. He says, "Therefore [that is as a result of what God showed him through the trials] I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know," and "I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes." Job saw that God was at the heart of his trials to bring him to Himself. And in seeing this kind of love, he saw how unbelievably unworthy He was to be showered with such amazing grace.

God permits wicked acts and trials in our lives to bring us to Himself, just as the end of Job. Pain and tragedies are a call by God to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. These awful events that have happened today as well as those that occurred in my life, are as C.S. Lewis puts it, "God's megaphone to rouse a deaf and dying world." God gets our attention through pain. He sure did get mine, and then He used those very trials to bring me to Himself. Job's story is my story, though obviously not nearly as bad. This is why I am a Calvinist. GOD SAVED ME. I did nothing but rebelled. As odd as it may seem, the Scriptures speak of tragedies and trials as the mercy of God. That is the conclusion of Job himself. He spoke of things he did not understand, just as I did. We both questioned God, put Him in the dock, and said, "How can you do this to me? I do not deserve this!" No actually, I deserved so much worse. And then by God's grace alone, just like Job, I saw the beauty and majesty of God in the face of Christ in particular, and saw that He graciously brought those things in my life so that I could have the best treasure in all the universe, Christ Himself. And man how I despised myself in light of such grace, but only because I saw that I was truly accepted! I saw the depth of my sin and depravity and saw the light of the Gospel shining on me brighter than the sun. What wonderful grace! And I can honestly say I would not have had my life any other way even with all those awful things that occurred, because the beauty of Christ, His worth and value in my life personally, far outweigh having those trials taken away. The trials were bitter sweet; bitter because of my sinful flesh bucking against them, and sweet because of the sanctification I underwent to see and know Christ as a result of them. And now I can honestly say, "Praise God for His mercy in blessings and tragedy!"

Heed the call of God in this tragedy Today! Turn from your sin and whatever it is that is holding you back from God and embrace Jesus Christ that you may enjoy the greatest treasure in all the universe, God Himself. There is no one greater or that satisfied more.

Articles I used pertaining to this from John Piper:

http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibr ... _for_Good/
http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibr ... nt_Design/
http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibr ... epentance/
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The Doublespeak of the Politically Correct 

Here's a headline from www.drudgereport.com concerning what Sharpton has apparently said about Imus' racist comments : "SHARPTON VOWS MORE: 'It is our feeling that this is only the beginning. We must have a broad discussion on what is permitted and not permitted in terms of the airwaves'... Developing..."
http://www.wten.com/Global/story.asp?S=6361438

The same people who pound into everyone else freedom of speech when their view is at stake and who vow legal action when they feel they are being silenced, are the same people who seek to silence those who differ with their opinions. This no exception. One minute, Sharpton speaks about his and everyone else's right to say whatever they want, no matter what, and then in the next says we need to have a "discussion on what is permitted and not permitted in terms of the airwaves". This is the philosophical dilemma of the moral relativist. Relativism does not work, it cannot logically be sustained, it must contradict itself. And so it does as in this example. As long as you agree with his relativism, he has no problem with you; but as soon as you turn on him and state otherwise in any manner, you must be silenced. And he enforces this with a political vengeance.

For the relativist viewpoint to truthfully stand on this issue of freedom of speech, then Imus must be allowed to say whatever he wants on his own show without fear of being silenced. That does not make it morally right, but he has an opinion, he expressed it, and now he is being silenced by those offended parties involved. Sharpton and his whole entourage are bursting forth with philosophical worldview contradictions. What will happen in our society if the majority agrees that Christians should never witness or "impose" their worldview on others, excluding those they disagree with, and it becomes law? Where does it stop? It doesn't.

Every viewpoint logically excludes its opposing view. Everyone has a viewpoint whether they admit it or not. Everyone believes in something and believes it is absolute, even the secularist who claims a belief in nothing: that is a belief. If you exist you have some form of a belief about morality. It is inevitable. The moral relativist states that it is morally wrong to say another viewpoint is wrong. So what is this worldviews' opposing view? Those who state absolute moral truths exist and that other viewpoints are wrong. So in their worldview, anyone who says another viewpoint is wrong is excluded from any conversation with them. They are doing the very thing they believe is morally wrong! Those they disagree with are silenced. What's an example? Well, the Today Show. This past week, during the whole Imus debacle, they only had far-left liberal democrats appear as guests who adhere to this relativism wholeheartedly. And as a result, every question asked of the guests by the hosts were designed to intensify and solidify the relativist viewpoint on this issue. They excluded those they disagree with by not inviting them on, thus contradicting their own worldview. This is a form of passive exclusion to make it appear as if they are morally neutral when they are just as militant about their worldview as the most far-right fanatic. They just use the means of political power and control over the media to silence individuals instead of weapons and violence.

The only moral relativist that has a made a comment consistent with her own worldview in place during this whole thing was Rosie O'Donnell. http://newsbusters.org/stories/rosie_de ... node/11950 She basically is defending Imus' right to say whatever he wants on his show under the article of freedom of speech. She even says freedom of speech "is not a freedom if you outlaw certain words or thoughts, because then the thought police come and then before you know it, everyone’s in Guantanamo Bay without representation." Now while she's taking a jab at conservatives on the war, she has a point that is consistent with her worldview. Does she not?

Relativists position themselves as morally neutral, yet they are anything but that. They believe things are absolutely right and wrong like those who believe certain "truths" are totally wrong. When are people in our society going to see that relativism is a dead-end worldview? It cannot be successfully sustained as truthful, namely because it is absolutely wrong. I guess I'll be silenced next for saying anything about it now.
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God's Sovereignty in the Salvation of Men - Jonathan Edwards 

http://www.westerfunk.net/archives/theo ... 0of%20Men/

In reading over this sermon again, some of these applications in the life of the believer are amazing, and good to reiterate. These things cannot be stressed enough. God is to be glorified, revered, submitted to in His sovereignty. As Edwards puts it, "He demands it of you." In fact, he goes on to say, "If we go on contending with God about His sovereignty, it will be our eternal ruin." To call God "Lord" is the same as calling Him your Sovereign. If He is your Sovereign, the One who rules your life, then you must submit to the Scripture in this, as terrifying the truth of His absolute sovereign might and power in salvation may be. I have taken the titles for each of his applications and explained them so as to make them a little more accessible to people who may have a hard time reading Edwards' work (totally understandable).

By God's sovereignty in salvation, by God choosing whom He is pleased to save of His own free will, we learn:

1) How absolutely dependent we are on God alone for our salvation.

2) With great humility to adore the awful, terrifying, and absolute sovereignty of God.

3) To attribute our salvation to grace alone and no other reason in us or outside of God's grace in Christ.

4) What cause we have to admire the grace of God, that He should bind Himself by covenant to us whom He has chosen for salvation, that He should have mercy on any of us.

5) To guard those who seek salvation from two opposite extremes: presumption and discouragement.

----------------------------------------------------------------

1) How absolutely dependent we are on God for our salvation.

We are dependent upon Him even for our faith to believe in Christ. If the Lord has mercy on whom He has mercy, and hardens whom He hardens by His sovereign will, then exactly what is that mercy He has on some? Obviously it is salvation, but at what point does it start? It is the fulfillment of the great prophecy in Ezekiel 36:26-27 that says, "And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules." Specifically, He is merciful upon us by creating light in our hearts, cutting through to the very core of who we are, where our desires lie, breaking through with the light of the Gospel, and changing us from the inside out, not the outside in.

Prior to belief in Christ, we rejected God, and were dead in sin, enemies of God, turned away from Him, wanting nothing to do with Him. This is what a sinner is, someone who has rejected and profaned the name of God, by thoughts and intentions of the heart, manifested in evil works. The level of depravity in our hearts is so great, that it literally takes an act of God (the Holy Spirit) to give us willing hearts that submit to Him in love. Apart from this grace, we would pursue sin and its delights straight to hell.

Had God not sovereignly cut into my life and turned my heart from rebellion to love for Christ, I would be forever lost, and God justly would have sent me to hell because I would have chosen to go there. My natural bent was toward sin, and sin I did. No good proceeded from me (that was acceptable to God) until Christ intervened in my heart, giving me the eyes to see and ears to hear the beauty and call of Christ to salvation. God went in before my desires and changed them so that I loved Christ and hated the sin I was in. And so it continues to this day, imperfectly. God chose to change me from the heart, I did not of my own natural desires choose Him. God has to do a supernatural work in us so that we desire Him. Apart from this we are hopeless to believe in Christ because it foolishness to those who are perishing, and all of us who believe were at one time perishing, under the condemnation of God's wrath. Unless God intervenes with sovereign, free grace made possible through the cross of Christ, we are all hopeless. It is a wonder He has mercy on any, and yet what a merciful God He is in the Person and work of Christ! And this grace itself is sovereignly dispensed upon whom He chooses to dispense it. This is the conclusion of Romans 9:18. God does as He pleases in the heavens, and none can stay His hand or say to Him, what are you doing? (Daniel 4:35). We are absolutely dependent on God not only for redemption itself, but also for the faith in Christ to attain that redemption! (Edwards quote, paraphrased)

2) With great humility to adore the awful and absolute sovereignty of God.

This is not an easy teaching of the Scripture. It takes some people years and years to work through these things. It is one of the most difficult. But do not give up. God's design in it is to humble us, in order that we see God as THE LORD, the sovereign of the universe. We have nothing to boast in except the cross. This is exactly what that means. The cross saved us, it did not just make us savable. This teaching shows us the greatness of His power and the greatness of our need. And in seeing the level of our need contrasted by His sovereignty, and how it would have been right for God to let us go our own way into eternal darkness, we stand in wonder and awe at His glory revealed in the mercy of Christ on poor souls like us.

When Isaiah went before the throne of God in Isaiah 6, he was one of the most righteous in all of Israel. And yet, Isaiah's response before God was, "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!" He saw the sovereign might and power of God right before him, and he shuddered. He trembled in fear by seeing Himself in comparison to such majesty, might, and raw sovereign power, and he knew he should die instantly and justly before such a wonderful, terrifying God. Isaiah's only hope was the pure, absolute, sovereign mercy of God, and the Lord dispensed it to him. God is fully just and fully merciful all at the same time, what a wonder!

When Moses was in the desert on the side of the mountain in Exodus 33, he said to God, "Please show me your glory." The Lord's response to him was, "I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name 'The LORD.' And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy." The essence of the glory of God and the essence of His name is that He is sovereign (i.e. "I AM WHO I AM," (Exodus 3) and "I have mercy upon whom I have mercy" (Exodus 33), both being the essence of the name of God as explained by God Himself), and He reveals that sovereignty to fallen men in the dispensing of mercy upon whom He pleases by His good will and pleasure. We should stand in awe that this sovereign and powerful God whom we have provoked by trampling upon His glory does not obliterate us at this very moment for the way we treat Him. Praise God for the work of Christ to turn away this wrath against His people! And we know it would be right for us to be obliterated in hell forever. And yet, in Christ, He has shown us such wonderful mercy that words fail to describe. It is mercy beyond comprehension, so much that it will take all of eternity to unpack and we will never come to its end.

3) To attribute our salvation to grace alone and no other reason in us or outside of God's grace in Christ.

This is such an important thing to learn from God's sovereignty. Why did you believe while someone else did not who heard the same Gospel message? What made you to differ in your state toward God over someone who shakes their fist in rebellion to God and runs from Him at every turn? Was it something within you naturally? Did the desire for Christ originate in you? If it was within you by nature, how can you boast in Christ alone, and say, "All glory to God" for your salvation? I have hit on this before in other blogs, but this is so extremely important to stomp out our wicked pride and self-righteousness, especially among those who claim Christ as Savior. We have nothing we can boast in, not even our faith, as said above. It is Grace Alone that made us to differ from those who reject God. We would have and did, prior to conversion, reject God. It is the grace of Christ in the work of His life, death, and resurrection that makes us to differ from the unbeliever. We are no better, but are sinners saved by sheer free grace alone.

4) What cause we have to admire the grace of God, that He should bind Himself by covenant to us whom He has chosen for salvation, that He should have mercy on any of us.

How beautiful is the grace and mercy of God, when contrasted with His wrath and justice! When you see what you are being saved from, only then can you really appreciate the enormity of the work it took to redeem us and we see how great the character is of the Person who performed that work. And Christ is that Person! He stepped in the way of awful wrath so that we could have Him as our treasure forever. God's absolute sovereignty should cause us to stand in praise and tears at the mercy we have found in Christ. What a wonder God. To Him be the glory, now, and forever!

5) To guard those who seek salvation from two opposite extremes: presumption and discouragement.

God's sovereignty in salvation is meant to guard us from two natural extremes of the human heart: pride, or fear and discouragement.

We should never presume on the mercy of God, that we may attain to it whenever we so please. God is sovereign in the dispensing of mercy and if you put off the pursuit of salvation through Christ, you may never attain it. If you say in your heart, "Right now, I want to pursue what I want, and I'll get to God later," it may be He lets you go into eternity just like this, only with no hope of returning. Turn to God and cry out for Him to have mercy on you now! Today is the Day of Salvation. The Scripture says, "Today, if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts." Also, do not take advantage of the grace of God because it is infinite so that you can continue in your sin. Do not say in your heart, "Because God is infinitely loving, I can do what I want and he'll forgive me." There are strong warnings against this in the Scripture. It may be possible that because you care nothing for the things of Christ and continue in your sin unaffected by God's grace, you have not been truly converted. In fact that is likely the case. A converted heart is a heart that loves Christ and loves the things of God, albeit imperfectly. Do not presume on the grace of God.

However, the other natural extreme is to despair of any hope in salvation at all because of the greatness of your sin. God is almighty and powerful and able to save because Christ's blood is infinitely sufficient to cover a multitude of sins, no matter how great. He did not spread His arms out on the cross and shed His blood willingly for nothing. He did this very thing to provide payment for sinners who were without hope. To say that your sin is too great to be forgiven is to deny Christ as sufficient to save you. You are saying that Christ is unable to rescue you from the depth of your sinning. You are elevating your sin above the level of God and making it an ultimate thing. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved! His blood can cover infinite numbers of sins, no matter how big and how great.
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My Take on Global Warming 

The default response of conservatives seems to be one of ignoring scientific facts simply because global warming appears to be an issue taken on primarily by liberals (and if they don't fight the liberals at every turn on every issue, they may lose an election in the future, as if that was the end of the world). I think it is highly ignorant of many fellow conservatives to have such a bias that you cast aside scientific data and facts for the sake of political lines. Can we be reasonable together for once? The actual debate in the scientific world over global warming (where it actually matters) has nothing to do with whether or not the Earth itself is warming. The facts are indisputable: the Earth is warming (Read this Senate testimonial from the Director of the National Climatic Data Center, if you want facts; his understanding based on actual numbers is that global warming is caused by both natural occurrences as well as man's influence). The average global temperature is on an upward trend, and according to computer models, it will continue to increase this century based on many variables input into the equations that calculate these models. No reasonable, scholarly scientist debates whether or not the atmosphere is warming: it is in fact warming, based on mathematical calculations that are indisputable.

But here's the real question of the debate that not every scientist agrees on: is global warming being caused by man or is it a natural occurrence beyond the realm of our control (that is beyond the realm of being able to do anything about it), or is it both? The debate is not about IF the Earth is warming, but whether or not man is causing the warming through the emission of green-house gases (CO, CO2 and CH4). And I for one, along with many other scientists, including officials at the National Weather Service (what I would deem to be a very reliable source), do not believe man is causing the warming trend as many suppose. Some of them dispute that, however there are many who do not. Is it a mere coincidence all the planets in our solar system are increasing in temperature at around the same pace as the Earth (article)? Hmm, could it be the sun has increased its energy output at a greater rate than anytime in the past 1000 years, thus causing warmer temperatures here as well as on venus, mars, jupiter and all the other planets? Could that be causing a majority of the warming? Seems reasonable to me. And if that's the case, what in the world are we going to do about it by passing Senate bills that make global warming a national security issue?

Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with reducing pollution through progressive infrastructure changes (world-wide, not just in the U.S.), but that will take some time to migrate everyone off of the current systems we have in place (you cannot do this overnight, or even in a few years). I don't like breathing in toxic fumes everyday, nor does my asthmatic wife. So please, if we can reduce pollution, by all means, do it. My issue with the global warming craze though is the rashness of it all. In the twinkling of an eye, major companies, government officials, and others in our society are going green at every turn (what that even means as to how "going green" creates effective changes in the atmosphere, how there is a direct correlation to global warming, I have no idea). This just sounds like a marketing ploy to me to get you to buy their products, or vote for them, which is highly deceitful in my opinion.

Global warming is happening, but man may only be contributing to a very small percentage of the actual change in the global temperature. Should we stop polluting? Sure. But how are we going to create effective change at the industrial level, the place it matters the most for the global atmosphere? But even then, total green house gases (CO, CO2 and CH4) account for only 2% of the total of atmospheric gases. And of that, man is contributing a very small amount (something like 2% from what I've heard). So instead of being so rash and going from one extreme to another, maybe we should allocate most of our time, money and resources to preventing some of the catastrophes that may result from the indisputable rising temperatures instead of limiting any and everything within our infrastructure that makes our society run. "Going green" in every sector of the economy does not seem very effective. This is the natural tendency of man, to swing from one extreme to another. Again, hear me out in case you missed my position (because that seems to happen to almost every conservative I speak with about this): the Earth IS warming, but man IS PROBABLY NOT causing a majority of it.
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Bleak Future Ahead For the World: MoD Report 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/story ... 20,00.html

I cannot imagine what I would do if I had no hope of a future resurrection in Christ while reading this article. It could be these are simply nay-sayers, but regardless, even the scriptures themselves speak of a bleak outlook for humanity (that is apart from Christ who will renew all creation in the end). Even if we were to die from the world going into mass chaos, large mobs forming, and undemocratic, marxist-style forces emerging to govern us, our hope does not lie here and what we can obtain or hold on to. This is a very bleak report from the Ministry of Defence in Britain about the future state of the world.

However, if I read this without the proper Biblical lens through which we see the final end to which God purposed all creation, namely His glory, I would be full of fear. But despite whatever man says will happen, and even if it were worse than what is predicted in this report, the hope for all who call on Christ for salvation is that we will be made perfect in order to be with Him and enjoy Him forever. One thing we can count on in this life, as it says in the Scriptures: things will go from bad to worse in the last days. I'm personally convinced we have been in the last days since Christ ascended to heaven, and to not focus too much on eschatology, but rather focus on our future hope, the glory of God in the face of Christ that we will enjoy and be satisfied by forever. Because of His death, resurrection, power, and work in us and for us who believe, we are more than conquerors! This is our hope and reading reports like this simply make me want to flee to Christ and trust Him all the more, because it shows me how nothing can be trusted in this place for eternal hope. So in reading this, remember Christ and the hope you have in Him the whole time. Apart from Him and His joy made perfect in us through the sustaining of our faith in Christ, a bleak future remains here and forever for all humanity under His wrath and displeasure. May we flee to Christ for refuge no matter what the cost down the road!
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The Lord is Risen - Our Future Hope 

The world is in eager pursuit of perfecting this life by their own means, by creating some form of salvation on their own works and merit. This is the same story for both the religious and the secular. For the religious, their salvation is themselves, their self-righteousness and their works; for the secular, their salvation is their pleasure and pursuit of their own happiness apart from God. But we as believers in Jesus Christ know that everything in this life will inevitably fade, that we will ultimately die, and that we are completely hopeless to save ourselves by anything we can do, pursue any lasting happiness, or provide any meaning for ourselves outside of the Person (relationally) and Work (objectively) of Christ.

Yet, our hope, and our only hope from now until all eternity, is that Christ has risen from the grave, to proclaim to all that He is Lord, God, King, Savior, High Priest, the great I AM, through which all things came into existence, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish forever but have everlasting life in Him. And we know that because He has indeed risen from the grave as the "first fruits" of those He has purchased (meaning He is the first of many who believe in Him to rise from the dead), that we who have trusted Him alone for salvation, will too rise from death to life on the last day when Christ appears to setup His throne. Praise God the Father for sending His Son to redeem those who could not redeem themselves! Praise Christ that He has overcome death by the life that is within Him! Praise the Holy Spirit for no longer dwelling behind the curtain in the Most Holy Place, inaccessible to us, but now He is dwelling within us through faith, and that itself (faith) provided by the atoning sacrifice of Christ to give us the ability, strength, and power to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord, the only one who ultimately matters. What a merciful God.

"Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me."

1 Corinthians 15:1-8 (ESV)

The Lord has risen from the grave, this is our future hope and is exactly why we can embrace suffering in this life as the molding work of God to conform us to Christ. We should in fact take joy in suffering because it is the mercy of God to make us like Christ, but we can only do this by rejoicing in the hope of the Gospel, that we get God Himself forever. Our hope lies not in this life, but in the next, the future resurrection where we will be forever blessed by Christ Himself, the main hope and gift of the Gospel. What a Savior and God!
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The Cross Work of Christ 

"The cross work of Christ is central to the Christian faith and its proclamation, because of who it was who died on the cross and what it was he did there. With the apostles the church affirms that it was the eternal Son of God, the Word who became flesh, the Lord of glory, who died on Calvary (Rom. 9:5; Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:8; 2 Pet. 1:1; John 1:1, 14; 20:28; 1 Cor. 2:8). Accordingly, in its best moments, the church has “gloried in nothing but the cross” (Gal. 6:14) and has “resolved to know nothing among [the nations] except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). It has done so even though it knows that the preaching of the cross is “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (1 Cor. 1:23). It has done so, not only because it knows that “God was pleased through the foolishness of preaching [the message of the cross] to save those who believe” (1 Cor. 1:18, 21), but also because it recognizes that the cross of Christ is “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:24). For Paul to characterize the cross of Christ the way he did in 1 Corinthians 1:24—”the power of God and the wisdom of God”—implies that God accomplished a truly great salvation through the cross work of the Lord of Glory. One can sketch the momentous outlines of that “so great salvation” simply by surveying what the New Testament epistles affirm about the “body,” “blood,” “cross,” and “death” of Christ, words which taken in their contexts represent that great work in terms of a sacrifice (see also 1 Cor. 5:7; Heb. 7:27; 9:26, 28; 10:10, 12, 14)."

- Robert R. Reymond A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith
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Be Killing Sin or it Will Be Killing You - John Owen 

I'm currently reading the book Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen which is actually a collection of three of his classic works on sin and temptation, Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers, Of Temptation: The Nature and Power of It, and Indwelling Sin. I've only scratched the surface of what Owen has to offer as far as his insights are concerned; so much can be gleaned from him expounding the scriptures.

One particular insight that has really hit me is the quote for this entry: "be killing sin or it will be killing you." Sin has waged war on the souls of men. And for the regenerate in particular, those who profess to be saved, there is no neutral place. There is no where to hide for a time from sin and its evils. Every day, every moment even, sin is at work, waging war on the members of our bodies. If we are not in a daily practice of mortifying sin by the Spirit, it is very conceivable that sin will gain such a foothold in your life and direct you to do things you never thought you would do, taking you further than you ever wanted to go. And so either you are killing sin or it is killing you. There is no third option, as many suppose, that if you just stop pursuing Christ and think of yourself as neither progressing nor backsliding, you are actually backsliding. Sin is so deceitful, that just like novocaine, it numbs your soul to the injury it is actually inflicting on it to where you cannot feel the damage it is causing to your soul. If every day we are not pursuing the mortification of sin in our lives, it is harming our souls, whether we see it or not.

"For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace." (Romans 8:6) How do we daily mortify sin in our lives? I mean we believe it is impossible for us in our flesh to conquer sin, do we not? The verse above clearly asserts this fact. Owen's answer: we mortify sin by means of the Spirit alone. If we attempt to mortify it by our own means, we may for a time hold sin back, but it will not get at the root problem in our hearts, where only the Spirit can go. Any attempt by man to mortify sin in his own strength is futile, which is why people grow weak and tired over time of pursuing holiness: they are doing it in their own strength, not by the Spirit. Romans 8 makes this clear. We can restrain sin for a time on our own, but simply restraining sin doesn't fix the problem; it will not supernaturally change us from the inside out and cut out the root sin has grown in our hearts. And eventually sin will quickly find its place right back where it was. The Spirit is the only means by which we can mortify sin. We will not eradicate it in this life, but by the Spirit, we can pursue true righteousness that gets at the heart of our sin problem. The Holy Spirit alone effects change in the life of the believer. All other forms of change will not last. But the Spirits' change lasts forever, unto eternal life even. "For the mind set on the flesh is death." Employing our own means of conquering sin, produces death, because it is self-righteousness, which fixes nothing, but in fact produces more sin. "But the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace." However, by employing the means of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us by the work of Christ on the cross, we can mortify sin by striking at the root.

This may sound abstract and distant from real life, but practically speaking, what this looks like is simply coming to an utter end of yourself, realizing you fix nothing of yourself and your works, but trust solely on God's work, by the Spirit, to change you. We are totally dependent on Him to change us. "Go on to maturity ... And this we will do if God permits." (Hebrews 6:1,3) We will grow in grace, if God permits. We are at His mercy. And how He desires us to grow, but not by our own works, rather His work, through His Son, in the work of the cross. We are at the mercy of God to change into godly people. And He is full of mercy, displayed clearly in the work of the cross. Throw yourself at the the feet of Jesus in desperation, because you are inadequate to cure your disease infested heart. I am a sinner of the utmost kind, and everyday, if I'm not fighting against sin by means of the Spirit, it is fighting me, and winning. And man do I feel it. Oh how we need Christ to change us! May we all fall on our faces before God, plead with Him to have mercy on us to change, and then look to the cross to see that mercy has already been given us in the Gospel. "Be killing sin or it will be killing you." But do this by the Spirit, not yourself.
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Whoa man ... talk about "1984"-ish Technology 

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id ... 20cameras/
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6524495.stm

This is freaky, particularly the parts about the cameras telling you when you are engaging in anti-social behavior. How exactly do you define "anti-social behavior"? So I assume eventually evangelism of any kind will be considered anti-social behavior (I mean it already is in many quarters)? Where does this stop though? Well, according to the track-record of mankind, it won't stop there; it will continue on until something awful happens and only war will stop it. England is becoming a surveillance society on a scale never-before seen except in books like 1984, where you are told from a person you cannot see what you should and should not do. And as cultural trends go in Europe, so will they be here eventually. We are already beginning to see more and more cameras at traffic lights in our society, but even more than that, we are seeing them in the public square where we are constantly being watched. Man, do we need to be careful ...
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