Thursday, April 24, 2008

How Jesus Saved Me

I hope all of the blog's readers have taken time at some point to read the entry on the right hand column of this page entitled "How Jesus Saved me." I used to have the "About Me" section toward the top of the page as it is by default in the Blogger template, but I didn't want the blog to be about me. So, when I moved that section lower on the page, I also moved the section containing my testimony lower with it.
However, my testimony about how Jesus saved me is not really about me. It is about Him. It is about the way in which He - as Great God and Savior - bestowed the grace of salvation upon me. So, to draw attention to His gracious work in my life so that He may be more fully magnified through this blog and so that God might be more fully glorified, I have included this testimony here to highlight what He has done in my life through His death and resurrection and my gratitude for His having done it!
The Lord graciously saved me when I was twenty years old and serving in the U.S. Navy. Although I had been going to church most of my life and wanted to know the Lord Jesus as my Savior, I believed that salvation was based upon my own efforts to live righteously and thus to prove my faith to God. This false belief was easy for me to accept, especially given several factors in my childhood. For example, I came from a broken home and experienced much isolation and loneliness. I just could not bring myself to believe that anyone could love me just as I was. This led me to frequent bouts with deep depression throughout my childhood and into my adult years.

However, through the witness of believers in my life, and through His Holy Word, the Lord opened my eyes to the truth that He loved me even though I did not and never could deserve it. He showed me that I could never earn His love and forgiveness, and that I didn't have to try. I praise God for His saving grace, by which He enabled me to trust in Him alone for salvation! Through his work in my heart, I came to understand that the Lord Jesus has done all that needs to be done for my salvation through His sinless life, atoning death, and resurrection from the dead.

If you do not already know Christ as your Savior, I pray that you will come to know Him too!

Ephesians 2:8-10 "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

The Bible teaches that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" and that "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 3:23;6:23). When it speaks of the "wages of sin," it is speaking of what we deserve for having done wrong in the sight of God, but it also teaches us about the "gift" of eternal life which we do not deserve. Thus God offers us freely through Jesus that which we cannot earn. He offers to do for us in Christ that which we cannot do for ourselves.

Will you put your faith in Jesus to save you from the punishment your sins deserve? He is willing to forgive you and give you eternal life if you ask Him. "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:9-10).

Monday, April 21, 2008

Help Being a Good Hearer of the Word

Solid Ground Christian Books has recently re-published Jay Adam's Be Careful How You Listen: How to Get the Most out of a Sermon. Here is a word about it from the author:
Preaching will never be out of date. And there are seminary courses without number to prove the point. But where can one find a course about listening for laymen? If it exists, I am unaware of it! Good listening is at least half of the equation when communicating God’s truth. Yet, no one seems to care about it. Originally, by publishing this book, I had hoped to do something to remedy this deplorable situation. But—alas—when it was published, the publisher went out of business and it was never advertised. Thus, through it, I never had the opportunity to offer the help that I had hoped it would provide. Now, at the request of Solid Ground Christian Books for a book that had gone out of print — and shouldn’t have — I am delighted once again to offer it anew to listening congregations.

While simple to understand, this is a serious book. It deals with one of the major problems of the modern church—and there are plenty of them! Yet, to my mind, few more neglected. Preaching lacks much today. It has succumbed to various nefarious influences. Even in Reformed circles there is need for rethinking the practices that, like barnacles, have attached themselves to it. These practices need to be addressed. But there is help for the preacher. Many, recognizing the problem that such accretions cause have been writing about them. But, while cracking these off helps greatly, it does not solve one of the major the problems with preaching. As most Christians know, much preaching produces little fruit. Thoughtful believers wonder why, week after week, even when the Word is faithfully proclaimed, so little change takes place in the lives of listeners. Many preachers are discouraged by this fact, and
congregations themselves often drift into a state of malaise.

It is not always the fault of the preacher that this is so. The second element in the
preaching context is the congregation. Even good preaching falling on untilled ground that is full of weeds will be choked out. Our Lord was quite clear about that. It is because of the condition of the ground itself that much —perhaps, most—preaching fails. It is time that something is done about this. In this book, the thoughtful Christian who wants to learn how to get the most out of preaching will find specific, concrete help. In one sense, the book is a call for change in the listening habits of God’s children. In another, it is a handbook for how to change for the better. I hope that the right blend of exhortation and direction may be found in it for most Christians. It is my experience, that, while examining my own patterns of listening to the preaching of God’s Word in the light of Scriptural injunctions, I have improved
significantly, and I am convinced that any willing child of God can learn to listen better if he so desires. But that is the difficulty: so little has been said or written about the obligation to listen well, that the subject is virtually unknown and untouched. It is my earnest hope that this book will at least go some way toward making a difference. In the Scriptures, there is more instruction about listening than about preaching! Leave it to us sinners to reverse things, putting all of the stress on the latter at the expense of the former!

Now, ask yourself, "If I were asked to set forth principles of good listening and how to develop them, what would I say?" Perplexed? Rightly so. But, after reading this book, I trust you will be able to do so. And not only to articulate them, but be able to put them into practice. It is my hope that there will be boards of elders that distribute the book to the members of their flocks. I can think of few more profitable ways to expend the Lord’s funds than to do so or, at least, to make such books available in church bookstores or libraries. I can almost certainly assure you that you will readily find an empty space on the shelf for it.

So, I am pleased to be able to make this book available again (largely, for the first time), and I send it forth asking God to bless its use in the lives of many.

Jay E. Adams March 30, 2007

In the same vein, James Renihan posted a helpful entry today called How to Profit from Preaching over at the Reformed Baptist Fellowship Blog.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

American Idol Changes "Shout to the Lord" Lyrics



Notice that they remove the name of Jesus from the lyrics of the song. Instead of beginning, "My Jesus, My Savior," they begin the song with "My shepherd, my savior." So the song is robbed of it's Christological center and becomes a generic song that resonates with the popular trend of people referring to themselves as "spiritual" and as believing in "god" so long as that god remains undefined and tailor made to fit the idolatrous spirit of the age. The name American Idol really does say it all.

One hopes that any Christians who watch the show will realize what is happening, namely that the program is trying to win over Christians as viewers while at the same time rejecting outright any clear reference to Christ.

Friday, April 11, 2008

FinalWeb Adds Google Analytics

As many of this blog's readers know, I moved PastorThroop.com to FinalWeb last year, and I have been very pleased with their service and support.

But FinalWeb has just gotten even better, since they have stopped using LiveStats.XSP to track website statistics and have gone with Google Analytics instead.

I have been using Google Analytics to track the statistics for this blog since it began, and I have been very impressed with how simple the service is to use and with the valuable and helpful information it gives. But I was hesitant to try to add it to the code for the PastorThroop.com website for fear that I would mess something up. Well, FinalWeb has made it a simple process that literally took me two or three whole minutes to do! They have integrated the Google Analytics feature seamlessly into their Site Manager software.

FinalWeb is the best website building software I have found, and it just keeps getting better all the time. And it is a Christan owned company as well. If you are looking for a great product for building your own website for your family or ministry, I highly recommend it. And they offer a discount off of their Church/Ministry package for those who are members of the Shepherd's Fellowship.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Probe Ministries Highly Recommends 'Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed'

Ray Bohlin, President of Probe Ministries, has written a great review of Ben Stein's Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, in which he discusses the fate of three scientists featured in the film, who showed an openness to Intelligent Design, or at least did not show a bias against it. The three scientists are Richard Sternberg, Caroline Crocker, and Guillermo Gonzalez. The article is well worth checking out.

In fact, just about everything at the Probe Ministries site is well worth checking out! As some of you may already know, Immanuel Baptist Church, where I serve as an elder, supports Rick Wade, a Research Associate for Probe. I especially recommend checking out his many articles at their website. Also, several of his apologetic resources (both for e-Sword and in PDF) are available on the Downloads page at my website.