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Endurance Race

Posted by: David Carroll

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV)

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Picture a stadium in which you are running an endurance race. The stands are full of spectators who have previously been participants. They are cheering you on, giving you advice and inspiration. You are weary, not sure whether you can finish the race but you hear them imploring you to focus on the one goal, the finish line. They tell you to drop all the baggage you are trying to carry with you because you will not need it when you arrive. They know because they have already arrived. They tell you not to worry about the person to your left or to your right who seem to be getting ahead of you. The goal is finishing well, not defeating others. You take their advice and you start focusing on Jesus Christ. You realize that your weariness lifts a bit and you become energized with a power you can't explain. You begin to smile with contentment as it seems as if you are being carried along. You still feel the pain but realize it is but for a moment as you can see more clearly the rewards that lie ahead. People in the inner field start laughing at you as you seem to care little for the items you are leaving behind as you shed them. Their voices are dimmed as you concentrate on the One who made you and who gave His all for you.

But it's just good business

Posted by: David Carroll

Ezekiel 28:4-5 (NIV)

By your wisdom and understanding you have gained wealth for yourself and amassed gold and silver in your treasuries.

By your great skill in trading you have increased your wealth, and because of your wealth your heart has grown proud.

What is wrong with this picture? You've been successful beyond your dreams. People admire and respect you. You have arrived. But you know something is not quite right because you are not satisfied, you want even more. But the more never seems to be enough. You put up a front which people interpret as confidence, competence, and calculating. You begin to believe what people say about you, how smart you are, the self-made man. You fill your life with the best of everything the world has to offer. Soon you realize that all your toys just become burdens. Later you are shocked that someone might challenge your position, someone younger, smarter, more ruthless. What is the point of it all?

Let's hope you come to your senses before the following happens as Ezekiel continues his prophecy:

Ezekiel 28:6-8

Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: "Because you think you are wise, as wise as a god, I am going to bring foreigners against you, the most ruthless of nations; they will draw their swords against your beauty and wisdom and pierce your shining splendor. They will bring you down to the pit, and you will die a violent death in the heart of the seas."

Now I am not saying this is you, it is about Israel. But you can see the heart of God and the heart of man in this picture. How can you be satisfied? It was not the amassing of wealth that was the problem, it was the "heart has grown proud" that was the problem. See what Jesus says:

Luke 9:23-25 (NKJV)

Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?

Faith is Substance

Posted by: David Carroll

Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Faith in God is not a belief in a fairy tale. It is based on reason and on rational evidence. But it is not like God has written on the sky "I am God, and you are not." So why does God hide behind his creation and behind the logic and reason of our minds? It seems that he is hidden to those who do not believe and that he is obvious and manifest to those who do believe. Belief is an interesting concept when compared to knowledge. Do I know something to be true because I have seen it, touched it, or measured it the way a scientist would? Or do I know something because I have an inner voice, an unexplained peace, a vision which sees the miracle of creation, or best of all a changed life.

Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV)

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

God wants us to believe by faith and not by our physical senses. It is as if faith is a spiritual sense supported only by our mind and not by our physical senses. God wants it this way. At our core being we are spiritual not physical. Jesus said those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.

As it turns out, faith, which is a gift of God, is more real than the physical world. I think one day we will be surprised at what this world we live in is really like compared to eternity. It is just the shadow of the far more real thing.

2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

United we stand

Posted by: David Carroll

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NKJV)

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

When a person is saved, it is a matter between him and God. Even though it is an individual response to the calling of God, usually there will be a number of family and friends who will rejoice in the miracle that is the new birth. But it is possible and actually common that an individual in the privacy of his bedroom will kneel beside his bed and ask Jesus Christ to become his Lord and Savior. Regardless, a new birth, whether it is physical or spiritual will always be into a family. The church is the body of Christ, the family of God.

So even though we are saved individually our growth is a corporate matter. This verse tells us to encourage each other in love and ministry. It tells me that I can't have church by myself. When we come together for the purpose of worship and fellowship, we are building each other up.

Here is the intriguing part; we are to concentrate on this corporate activity more and more as we see the Day approaching. What day is that? It is the second coming of Christ. It is the consummation of all things into God's final plan for this earth and its inhabitants. Apparently it is important for us to increasingly build each other up as these end times approach. Perhaps it is because there will be opposing influences seeking to limit the influence of the church.

Standing in the gap

Posted by: David Carroll

Ezekiel 22:30 (NKJV)

So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.

This was the theme verse for the Promise Keepers conference during one season. This is the Lord speaking about not being able to find a single man who would stand up for the Lord and who would build a wall between his people and the influences of the world. This does not mean that there is no contact with the world. There is a gap in the wall. But that gap needs to be guarded. I have heard people suggest that if they as a Christian would go to work in some secular industry commonly known to be a Christian free zone, that perhaps they might be able to influence them. That is a seemingly noble but still foolish thought. Usually what happens is rather than converting the world, the world converts us. Our influence should be from behind the protection of a "wall." That might be a strong family with a father who abides in the word of God. Or it might be a strong church. Whatever it is, it needs to be a community with strong leaders who can protect and discern good from bad. I know, this sounds a lot like a Quaker community. Not at all; I am not saying we don't take advantage of what the world has to offer, but we should have the gift of discernment supported by Godly leaders and loving relationships.

Bloody Religion

Posted by: David Carroll

Hebrews 9:21-22 (NIV)

In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

Christianity is a very bloody religion. Many people are repulsed by the horror of it all. But blood plays a central role in the remitting of sins. In the past several days we've seen how the entire Levitical system is an acting out, a shadow of the real thing in Heaven. Jesus is the real thing. He did indeed shed his blood. What does the blood mean? The blood is the life of a living being. So two things: 1) Jesus was a man, a living human being, God in the flesh; 2) Jesus had to die, loosing his life, for our sake. Everytime blood was sprinkled around, it was a foreshadowing of Jesus' blood. The bible speaks of the blood's cleansing power. This can't mean cleaning the body; when Moses would sprinkle the blood around, everything must have looked a mess. The cleansing power is in what the blood represents: Jesus the sinless, perfect God-Man dying for us. This is the way to eternal life and any other way would be an insult to God making his own sacrifice of less value.

Hebrews 9:27 (NKJV)

And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,

We only get one chance, this lifetime. Don't be repulsed by the blood, it depicts the gravity of our sinful condition and what had to be done to atone for it. It was nothing we could do, only something God as a man who could sympathize with our condition could do. Cover yourself with the blood by trusting Christ alone for your eternal life.

They killed their own babies

Posted by: David Carroll

Psalm 106:37-38 (NIV)

They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons. They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was desecrated by their blood.

Psalm 106 is about national repentance. The nation of Israel looks back over its history and confesses all of its sins. It is hard to imagine how God's people could become involved with this shocking sin. The Canaanites practiced sacrificing infants to the god of Molech, a fertility god, that perhaps they might be granted a good crop that year. The horror of the scene is too much to dwell on. How could anyone do such a thing? Only if life had little value, unless it was your own life. The ultimate in selfishness, the opposite of love. I can't help but think about the innocent babies being sacrificed today. For what reason? Is it not the same as we see here in this verse? But you say "her life would be ruined if she were to have this baby." How did Jesus define love?

John 15:13 (NIV)

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

A ruined life, a laid down life? For a friend? Could you not do it for your own baby? You could turn that verse around and say "Least love has no one than this, than he save his own life at the expense of another."

I think there is a swelling movement towards the pro-life choice in our country today. The argument "it's just tissue" is no longer working with the advancements in sonograms of being able to see a baby at 11 weeks smiling and sucking it's thumb. I like the reductionism argument. When does it become a baby? At birth? Six months? Three months? There is no clear dividing line until you get to conception.

So what about that mother "ruining her life?" What did Jesus say?

Luke 9:24 (NKJV)

For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.

The Main Point

Posted by: David Carroll

Hebrews 8:1-2 (NKJV)

Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.

I was looking back over my readings for today thinking about what I wanted to comment on. This verse made me take a second look because it claimed to be "the main point." These are the kind of keywords you listen for in class while taking notes to help you study for the big the test.

Jesus is a type of High Priest, he is in heaven on the throne now doing ministry, and that throne is in a true tabernacle made by the Lord. There are three wonderful truths in this verse: Jesus' priestly service, His atoning sacrifice, and the heavenly sanctuary.

I said that wrong about Jesus being a type of High Priest; He is the only High Priest and men on earth are just the types. A priest is one who represents the people before God bringing an offering to appease the justice of a Holy God. What does Jesus bring? His perfect life marred by nail scars in his hands.

What is his service? He is continually informing the Father of the ones who come to the cross saying, "he's one of mine."

Reading Hebrews gives us insight into why God instituted the entire sacrificial system along with instructions to build a tabernacle. The heavenly tabernacle is the dwelling place of God. The earthly tabernacles are the temporary residences for God to dwell amongst his people. No doubt there are many wonderful mysteries contained in the details of the tabernacle construction specifications. The most profound mystery is that the current earthly tabernacle is made of flesh, the hearts of those who have surrendered to Christ. The earthly tabernacles are but a shadow and a copy of the heavenly; this is true even of the fleshly tabernacle for there is and will always be a Man of flesh and bone sitting on the throne of God, the man Christ Jesus--God incarnate.

He is praying for me now

Posted by: David Carroll

Hebrews 7:25 (NKJV)

Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

There is no one so bad that he cannot be saved. He is able to the uttermost. But we have to come to God through Christ. How does Jesus save us? He represents us before God. That is the ultimate in intercessory prayer.

I am blessed

Posted by: David Carroll

Hebrews 7:7 (NIV)

And without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater.

We say "Bless the Lord oh my soul." The Lord is gracious enough and loving enough to be blessed by our feeble attempts to bless him. But then the Lord blesses us with all that he has. All I can do is sit here in awed wonder. I am least and He is greatest. That still does not seem to adequately describe the vast gulf between Holy God and sinful man.

Born-Again...Again?

Posted by: David Carroll

Hebrews 6:4-6 (NIV)

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

This verse is controversial and has been used effectively to argue against the security of the believer, the idea that once a person is saved, he cannot lose his salvation. There are so many clear passages of scripture that teach the eternal security of the believer including the magnificent words of Christ in John 10 that it seems foolish to use this difficult passage to trump all the others. If you believe you can lose your salvation, then this verse must not be very comforting since it teaches that you cannot regain your salvation.

I can see how after having stumbled into serious sin that one could wish to be born again...again. That too is certainly impossible according to this verse.

The description given in this verse of the former state of the one having fallen away is unquestionably that of a born again believer, and seemingly a growing one. This is the testimony of a changed life which demonstrates the power of the Spirit of God. What happens if such a person becomes an apostate, living in sin again? The testimony is ruined and Christ has been subjected to public disgrace. There could be no restoration of the previous testimony. And why is that? For the same reason the boy who cried "wolf" is not believed. In the world's view, it is impossible to return to that fresh born-again state. Is salvation lost in this case? No, but rewards are. This is the solemn warming of this passage.

Notable Links

Posted by: David Carroll

Practice makes perfect

Posted by: David Carroll

Hebrews 5:13-14 (NIV)

Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

It makes sense that a newly converted Christian would not know much about the deeper truths of the faith. But just as we expect infants to grow and mature, we should expect Christians to do likewise. It is not right for a Christian not to grow. Some of the more difficult concepts of the faith, like dying to self, go against our natural inclinations, perhaps even appearing to be a bad thing. With maturity comes the ability to understand the difference and whet righteousness is really all about.

So how does one mature? By digging deep in to the word of God and then by putting into practice (constant use) what is found there.

Responsibility to warn

Posted by: David Carroll

Ezekiel 3:18-19 (NIV)

When I say to a wicked man, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself.

When God saves someone, He gives them eternal life. We teach that it is impossible to lose this eternal life once God has granted it. What's the point then of hanging around here if Heaven is going to be so much better? God has left us here for a purpose, to warn others of His wrath against sin, and to tell them the good news of Christ. Ezekiel had this dire and solemn responsibility to warn people with the words of God. In fact, he was held accountable for that warning--not for the effectiveness of it, but just for giving it. So too, I am responsible for telling others of the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. If I fail to do so, I'll have to give an account before God.

So why am I not responsible for the e.ffectiveness of the message? Because the power is not in me but in the message which is the word of God.

Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

A Vision of the Holy

Posted by: David Carroll

Ezekiel 1:4-6,10 (NIV)

I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north--an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was that of a man, but each of them had four faces and four wings.

Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a man, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle.

Ezekiel is sitting or the bank of the river, and this incredible vision from the Lord comes to him. It is a vision of the Glory of the Lord riding around in some sort of strange, mobile flying contraption (forgive me for using such a term in connection with a holy God, but that accurately describes the picture I get) with wheels. Somehow, this portable throne of God is attended to by angelic creatures as described is the above verse.

The faces of these four creatures are described as that of a lion, an ox, a man, and an eagle. These four images are a reminder of the fourfold mission of Jesus when he came to this earth.

First He came as a king, symbolized by the lion. This is the perspective from which Matthew wrote his gospel. Matthew was a Jew expecting his king and he authenticates Jesus right to the throne of David by giving his genealogy through Joseph and King David back to Abraham.

Secondly, Jesus came as a servant, symbolized by the ox. Mark was a Roman, whose only understanding of gainful employment in his culture was that of a servant. A servant has no pedigree and so needs no genealogy which Mark did not supply is his gospel account.

Thirdly Jesus came as a perfect man who never sinned as portrayed by Luke, the Greek physician. Luke demonstrated Jesus' sinless humanity by giving his lineage through his mother Mary all the way back to Adam, the first man. In bypassing the seed of man being born of the seed of woman, Jesus was fully man yet untainted by the sin nature we inherit from Adam.

Finally, Jesus came as God in the flesh. The eagle represents Jesus' deity. John wrote a genealogy in his gospel too. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God."

This same sort of vision of the throne of God is found in the book of Revelation:

Revelation 4:6-8 (NIV)

In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come."

Don't ignore this

Posted by: David Carroll

Hebrews 2:3-4 (NIV)

How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

Look, God offers salvation from his wrath against sin. He saves those who will believe in Christ's substitutionary death, trust in Him and surrender themselves to His Lordship. This was all made very clear in the Bible. This message has been confirmed by hundreds of eyewitnesses to Jesus' own preaching. And most importantly it has been authenticated by God himself through miraculous signs arid wonders, the most convincing of which was Jesus' own resurrection.

Thank for Lord for your great love and compassion.

Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV)

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

God has Spoken

Posted by: David Carroll

Hebrews 1:1-3 (NIV)

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Prophets speak for God, but Jesus is the actual Word of God as John 1:1 says. This is the foundation upon which all of Christianity rests--that God has spoken to us. If God did not speak, then we have no religion and no savior. But He did speak; we have His words and they tell us who He is and what He is like and they tell us how we can know Him. And the answer to all these is Jesus Christ. That is the point of this book of Hebrews.

Jesus has had a number of jobs to do. First, He made the universe and everything in it. Second, he appeared numerous times to men of the Old Testament. Third, He came to this earth to allows to "see" the Father because he is the perfect and visible image of the invisible God. Fourth, Jesus not only made the universe but he currently maintains it as part of his current intercessory ministry. Fifth and best of all, Jesus job was to become a satisfaction for our sin debt owed to God. This verse speaks of it as a purification or a cleansing of our sins. Lastly, Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the throne of majesty in heaven.

Thus begins the prologue and the superlative affirmation of the superiority of Jesus Christ in the magnificent book of Hebrews.

Charge it to my account

Posted by: David Carroll

Philemon 10-11 (NIV)

I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.

Philemon 18 (NIV)

If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.

Onesimus was a slave of Philemon who apparently ran away and probably stole some valuables in the process. Paul met Onesimus and led him to the Lord and is now sending him back to Philemon a changed man.

In this short letter, Paul illustrates for us the principle of reckoning by which God justifies us. It is an accounting transaction that Paul acts out by charging to his own account any debts Onesimus owed to Philemon. The Bible speaks of sin as a debt--owed to God. Jesus took our sins upon himself effectively removing the barrier between us and God.

But that is only the debit side of the accounting entry. Not only did Jesus transfer our debt to himself, (here is the glorious part) He transferred his righteousness to our account.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV)

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Not because of anything I did

Posted by: David Carroll

Titus 3:4-5 (NKJV)

But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit

Here is a fundamental and succinct review of the good news of salvation. There are a number of profound doctrinal truths in this short passage. God is kind, He loves us. It not because of our works but because of his mercy that He saves us. The way He saves us is by regeneration and renewal. We call it the new birth.

The Deity of Christ

Occasionally, I'll hear from a member of our church who was visited by the Jehovah's witnesses and he will typically ask "how should I have responded to them?" The only point of correction I will make is to refer to several places in the Bible that make it undisputable that Jesus Christ is God. One of these places is right here in this verse. The major premise of the New Testament is that Jesus Christ is our Savior. In this verse we have a minor premise (logically speaking) that God is our Savior. The logical conclusion then is that Jesus Christ is God. However, my favorite statements on this issue are by Jesus himself: His "Before Abraham was, I AM" in John 8 and the "I and my Father are one." And then there is Thomas' exclamation of "My Lord and My God!" upon seeing the risen Christ in which Jesus did not rebuke him for calling Him God. There are many hundreds of other examples as well. The sad truth is that every cult has a distinguishing characteristic, that of attacking the deity of Christ.

Leave the dog's ears alone

Posted by: David Carroll

Proverbs 26:17 (NIV)

Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own.

My dog is just as lovable and sweet as he can be but whenever a particular young niece of mine gets around him, she can't resist pulling, poking and overall annoying my dog. He seems resigned, forlornly looking up at me as if to say "do I have to put up with all this?" A while back, she grabbed his ears and that was just too much for him; he snapped at her. He did not bite her and he does not growl at her but it was to say, "back off, enough already!"

I not sure the quarrelers in this proverb would be as patient as my dog was. When you get involved in a quarrel not your own, no matter the reason, you are liable to get bit, so to speak, by one or both of the parties involved. Think about it, quarreling itself is not a reasonable activity. We read a few days ago that we are to avoid foolish disputes. If you grab this dog's ears, it might be hard to decide whether you dare not let go or whether you dare not hold on--you lose either way.

SOA definition

Posted by: David Carroll

excerpted from Roger Sessions at ObjectWatch via Jason Tucker

An Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) is an architecture that defines how autonomous systems interoperate with particular focus on:

  • Asynchronous communications
  • Heterogeneous transport channels
  • Proof of identify
  • Error management
  • Workflow coordination

If two systems are autonomous, then they have no mutual dependencies. This implies that neither system interrupts its own work to wait for some other system to complete its task. This implies asynchronous communications. The first SOA principle is therefore asynchronous communications.

If two autonomous systems interoperate, then there must be a communications channel between the two that is independent of the technology used by either system. The second SOA principle is therefore heterogeneous communications channels.

If two systems are truly autonomous of each other, then there is a natural healthy mutual suspicion that must be maintained. In order to get beyond this, there must be a way for each system to convince the other that it is really who it claims to be. The third SOA principle is therefore proof of identify.

It would be great if everything worked every time. Unfortunately, things don’t always work. An architecture of interoperability must take into account what happens when things don’t work as well as when things do work. The fourth SOA principle is therefore error management across the systems matrix.

When multiple autonomous systems are communicating with each other asynchronously, keeping track of where we are in the overall workflow effort is much more complicated than when systems are working together synchronously. The fifth SOA principle is therefore workflow coordination.

A New Song

Posted by: David Carroll

Psalm 98:1 (NIV)

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.

Musicians and song writers are always writing new songs. What is their motivation? Usually they write and sing from their own experience. Here we are told to sing a new song to the Lord. Same reason. He has done marvelous things and that makes us want to sing about it. There is something about worshiping the Lord through song that connects our emotional being with our intellectual being. Not only do we hear and understand the words, we they are put together in such a way that stirs the heart.

I know I have always enjoyed listening to music. Before I was saved I listened to mostly rock music and some progressive country music. I still am fond of the old songs I used to listen to but I don't find myself listening very much. I want to sing a new song, a song about my experience with my Lord. I can pray to God, but I find that when I mix that with some praise and worship, I feel more connected.

Colossians 3:16 (NIV)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

Itching Ears

Posted by: David Carroll

2 Timothy 4:3 (NIV)

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

Some preachers are well known because they are gifted as great orators. Their message is hard hitting and biblically sound. My Pastor, Adrian Rogers, is such a preacher. His popularity is not with the world however; it is amongst Christians and primarily within our own denomination. In fact, I know a number of people who are really turned off by him, not because of they think he is a poor preacher, but because his message is uncomfortable. I know, I have been there myself, squirming in my seat as the Holy Spirit was convicting me through Dr. Rogers' preaching. I did not come to hear him because I had heard he was a great preacher, I actually stumbled upon him while flipping through the channels on television. I was drawn to the message of the good news of Christ and eventually surrendered my heart to the Lord.

There are preachers in large churches who are popular not because of the wooing power of the Holy Spirit, but because of the "wonderful" way they make people feel good about themselves. I am not saying that it is bad to feel good about yourself, but that it ought lo be based on the dignity you have as a born again, child of God. If we can be good without the life-changing salvation of Jesus Christ as Lord, then it may as well be a club as a church. It is the stark, convicting truth of our sinfulness that opens our eyes to our need for a savior. But that message doesn't feel good until it is acted upon. May God give you the grace to act upon it.

Ignorant disputes, gentle correction, Sovereign God

Posted by: David Carroll

2 Timothy 2:23-25 (NKJV)

But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth

Here is the Holy Spirit's analysis of the proverbs we looked at yesterday about answering a fool's folly. Avoid quarreling but don't be silent. I want this picture of the Lord's servant to be a picture of me. I like this person described here: gentle and patient teacher who takes responsibility to humbly correct those who don't know the truth and by human nature are opposed to it.

I must humbly point out how God is involved in such activity. The truth only comes from God and it only comes when He decides to give it. Jesus taught that we should repent; here it is God who grants repentance. Salvation is a sovereign act of God. Man has no claim to any part of it. In our humanness we naturally resist this truth. But even the faith to believe and the will to repent come from God.

The truth of the Holy Scriptures are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. [2 Tim 3:15]

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV)

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Notable Links

Posted by: David Carroll

A Fool's Answer

Posted by: David Carroll

Proverbs 26:4-5 (NIV)

Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself.

Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.

The book of Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings. How wise can it be to contradict yourself though? Which is it, answer the fool or not? These two verses are a classic "proof" that the Bible cannot be inspired, otherwise the author would not have so obviously contradicted himself. However, because this contradiction is so obvious and immediate, it deserves a close inspection. Let's analyze the two proverbs separately.

In the first proverb, we are told not to answer a fool so that we will not become a fool ourselves. The idea here is that being drawn into a fool's dialog would bring you down to his level. The verse says that answering a fool would cause us to "become like him." What are the fool's methods of argument? Anger, rudeness, speaking without thinking first. Using such tactics is certainly foolish and it is too easy to respond in kind. So here is some wise advice: don't fall into the fool's trap.

In the second proverb, we are told to answer a fool. This time, however, an answer is given to prevent the fool from thinking himself wise. The idea is that your silence would somehow admit defeat at the fool's "superior logic", giving credence to his folly. If that happens then the fool's behavior is reinforced and others might stumble, not discerning the truth. It is therefore a duty to correct, rebuke, and expose a fool. Such wisdom comes out of a love for truth and a love for others, including even a love for the fool.

So how do you unify these two seemingly contradictory bits of wisdom? I believe you must ascertain the situation, i.e. whether critical error could be propagated. Then, when warranted, carefully respond to correct the error in a kind, reasoned, and authoritative way.

One interesting point to note from the existence of such "contradictions" is that a short little proverb cannot be applied to every situation. A truth like "love your neighbor as yourself" applies to every situation. This is the distinction between wisdom and truth. Wisdom is applied truth. The situation may change, but truth never changes.

God is God

Posted by: David Carroll

Psalm 90:2 (NIV)

Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

I love the term "from everlasting to everlasting." We are stuck in this little blip of existence called time. God is in eternity. When we think of eternity, we tend to think of just a whole lot of time. This is wrong but it's about all we can come up with to describe eternity because we cannot grasp such a concept. Notice how the sentence uses the present tense to say "You are God." It does not say you were God before and you will be God after. Eternity is always in the present. My head hurts.

2 Timothy 1:8-10 (NIV)

So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord ... God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life--not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time...

In Second Timothy, we are told how we were saved before the beginning of time. That's another mind bender. We are commanded not to be ashamed to testify about or Lord. What's to be ashamed of? I think we are ashamed of humility. Such a powerful and awesome God requires us to have total humility and that goes against the proclivity of prideful little men of this world. I am not ashamed.

How to be Content

Posted by: David Carroll

1 Timothy 6:6-8 (NKJV)

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.

The feeling of discontent is misery. Here we are presented a different picture of contentment. It does not come from having an abundance of things. Paul says food and clothing is all we really need. Jesus said to his disciples:

Luke 12:22,30-31 (NIV)

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. ... Your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

You see, there it is, "seek his kingdom," that is godliness. And once you have that firmly in your sights, Jesus says everything else you need will be provided. Now that's a promise to take comfort in. Think about it, life is just temporary, our permanent home is in heaven, and there is nothing in this temporary world that we need in heaven, not even these old dirt bag bodies we hang out in. In fact, those bodies are the only reason we even need the food and clothing.

What a good picture of contentment the bible paints for us. But such good only becomes great when it is contrasted with it's opposite. Here's the other side of the picture which will highlight how wonderful godliness with contentment really is. Paul continues:

1 Timothy 6:9-10 (NKJV)

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Notable Links

Posted by: David Carroll

How to manage people

Posted by: David Carroll

1 Timothy 5:1-2 (NIV)

Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.

Here Paul is giving fatherly wisdom to the young Timothy who is now the pastor of a church. The pastor must know how to deal with people, how to motivate them and how to confront them. This is not much different than managing people at work. Typically a manager is promoted out of the ranks because of some outstanding performance or loyalty. Coming from the ranks, he is now put in an awkward position of having to direct those he once worked with and perhaps even those he once worked for. The biblical advice given in the above verse is worthy of heeding and will go far towards earning respect from those around you including your elders.

Each of the relationships with people are compared to that of a familial relationship. Treat elders as fathers or mothers. When you approach them with correction, it is done with great respect and love. The conversation with your father might go like this: "Dad, you know I have a great deal of respect for you and I highly value your opinions, but I want to be honest with you, I think you are not correct on this issue. Let me tell you how I think it ought to be..." Can you see how the approach would work with an older person in the workplace? You have given him respect, and shown you honor, and consequently earned the right to correct.

With an older woman, you would be gentle as with your mother. With another man your own age, you would slap him on the back like a brother and then turn the conversation to weightier matters. With a young lady, you would be gentle, firm but beyond reproach, looking her in the eye but withholding any touch that might be taken in the wrong way.

I'm not sure I could do any of these things correctly without a constant awareness of the abiding presence of Christ in my life. Paul continues his charges to Timothy with three important principles: 1) show no favoritism, 2) do not get pulled in to the sins of others, and 3) stay pure. You'd be hard pressed to find any better principles for dealing with people in the workplace than these.

1 Timothy 5:21-22 (NIV)

I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism. Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.

Wonders ahead!

Posted by: David Carroll

Jeremiah 33:3 (NIV)

'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.'

I have a curious mind about the world and how things work. I catch myself thinking from time to time that I might get a little bored in Heaven, what with all the harp playing and other musical activities there. I am not very talented when it comes to music. Then I am jolted out such silly worries when I read a verse like that above.

How could I ever worry about boredom when I will be able to sit at the feet of the One who made it all. Everything wonderful there is to know originated in the mind of God and--here's the unbelievable part--He wants to share it with us!

Attribute Value Template

Posted by: David Carroll

I just learned something about XSLT. It is called an attribute value template. For example, instead of having to use the following construction to create a link:

<a><xsl:attribute name="href">
<xsl:value-of select="@url"/>
</xsl:attribute>My Link
</a>

you can simply say

<a href="{@url}">My Link</a>

There is a lot of XSLT code I need to go clean up now...

New Covenant

Posted by: David Carroll

Jeremiah 31:31-34 (NIV)

"The time is coming," declares the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the Lord.

"This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the Lord. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the Lord. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."

The Lord says "I was a husband to them." What is the Church's relationship to Christ? His bride.

The Old Covenant was written in stone. Where were the tablets of stone placed? In the Ark of the Covenant. And where was it placed? In the Most Holy Place of the Temple. Why was it the most holy place? Because God dwelt there. What does God write the New Covenant on? Our hearts. And where is our heart? In our innermost being. Who is supposed to be dwelling there? The Holy Spirit of God. That makes a New Testament Christian the Temple of God.

There is only one way to know the Lord, that is through the forgiveness of sins. It is sin that separates us from the Lord. How do you receive this forgiveness?

Hebrews 9:15 (NIV)

For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance--now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

Is He calling you? Can you feel Him tugging on your heart? If He is, don't delay, you may receive the forgiveness of sins by putting your faith in Jesus Christ.

Galatians 2:16a (NIV)

Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.

Pray for those in authority

Posted by: David Carroll

1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NIV)

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone--for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

The Bible exhorts us, as a matter of first priority, that we pray for those in authority. This starts with our president and continues down to the local level. We are to pray even for those with whom we disagree. The clear goal of such prayer is so that we can live in peace, able to concentrate our activity on spiritual matters. Perhaps it will not always be like this. There is a connection with this goal of peace and holy activity to God's pleasure. He desires all me to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. How else can they do this unless they hear the message of the gospel.

I've heard my Pastor talk about how he and his wife pray for the President and the other leaders of our national, state, and city governments. I'm convicted, I am praying right now.

Bible Reading Plan Code

Posted by: David Carroll

Kevin asked about the code I was using to generate the reading plan. Here are some links to the source code and to the xml file of the Bible books and daily readings.

Enjoy!

God's plans for you

Posted by: David Carroll

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

What an encouraging verse! The context is that of the Jews returning from their captivity in Babylon, but the application is broad to include any of God's people at any time. God has a plan for you, and it is a plan that will help prosper you. It may not be the one you choose to live if you do not cooperate with Him. How can you get in on that plan? Call upon Him, pray to Him. Seek Him with all of your heart and you will find Him.

DataGrid.ColAutoResize

Posted by: David Carroll

ColAutoResize is an undocumented Private member of Datagrid. This is how to call it via Reflection:

Dim gridType As Type = grid.GetType()
Dim mi as MethodInfo = gridType.GetMethod("ColAutoResize", _
BindingFlags.Instance Or BindingFlags.NonPublic)
mi.Invoke(grid, New Object() {0})

Control.ModifierKeys

Posted by: David Carroll

If (Control.ModifierKeys And Keys.Control) = Keys.Control Then
DoSomethingElse()
Else
DoSomethingDifferent()
End If

Earn your keep

Posted by: David Carroll

2 Thessalonians 3:10-13 (NIV)

For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat." We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.

The context of this verse comes after tremendous prophecies regarding the end times. Can you see how some people could concern themselves so much with Jesus' return that they forget they need to be about their everyday life of working and paying the bills? I remember one preacher suggesting that there was no need in paying off your mortgage since we were all going to be raptured away soon. Paul deals with this problem head on. Spiritual activities should not preclude your secular responsibilities. Paul says, never tire of doing right, that is to say, never tire of pulling your share of the load.

OPML to HTML via XSLT

Posted by: David Carroll

I use BlogLines, the web-based RSS aggregator. I wanted to be able to use my subscription list on their site to feed my BlogRoll on my site. They make available a javascript based BlogRoll which makes a call to the BlogLines website each time a page is loaded, but I wanted to be able to cache the blogRoll information so that it was only refreshed once per day. The way I did it was to read my OPML xml data from their site using the following url:

http://www.bloglines.com/export?username=davcar

Then I applied the xslt transformation to produce my blog roll which is only refreshed once per day using ASP.NET's capability to cache user controls.