A Heart of Gratitude

be-gratefulRomans 1:21 (ESV) 21  For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

This passage diagnosed the real heart problem that beset Adam and Eve and the whole of fallen humanity.  It is one that is at the heart of every sin of man, ingratitude. Some would say that the issue at the fall was pride. Here, in this passage in Romans pride is given its proper name, ingratitude. To have an unthankful spirit is relational pride.  It is to say that my relation with God and others is based in entitlement, “I deserve such and such.”.  It most often surfaces in a complaining and a critical spirit with our Savior and our relationships with others. We did not get what we expected and we define love by perceived blessings.  What is remarkably sad, is that we are most often blind to our ungrateful spirit toward God as well as others.

True thankfulness for the believer is rooted in the Gospel.  An act completed in the past with no regard to our worthiness, just His immeasurable grace and mercy (unconditional election) (Ephesians 1:17-19).  We have been and are recipients of our Lord’s attention every moment of our lives (Acts 17:28). Continue reading

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A Prayer for all Seasons

 “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Eph 3:14

“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and prayerdepth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” Eph 3:17-19

It has been rightly said that Christianity is not a religion but rather a relationship.  But it is not just a relationship in the ordinary sense of the word.  For with Whom the relationship is made is the very God and creator of the universe!

“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” Col 1:16-17

There can be no greater experience than to have a vital living relationship with Jesus Christ!  This being the case, any real relationship with Christ will have life-changing effects.  You cannot be rightly related to the Lord Jesus Christ without it having profound ramifications upon your life. The Apostle Paul understood this when he prayed that the church would experience an ever-increasing measure of that relationship. Continue reading

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How Deep is Your Faith?

Hedepthbrews 11:17-19 (ESV) 17  By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18  of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19  He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.

How Deep Is Your Faith? That is a question, that if you pondered it for long, just might bring a pause in our thinking.  We look to that subject as if it’s just a matter of we have faith. But faith unexercised soon just be comes proposition, not active. We would not give it a second thought if all that was required that we use it daily prayer and devotions and possibly waiting on the Lord for some simple request.  This not a question of quantity, how much faith, but a far more searching question of quality, how far will you go with God? What would God need to do to reveal, to test that question?  This is not an academic question.  It’s a question that brings us to full attention as we ponder the possibilities, as we look deep within ourselves.  It goes to the heart of our relationship with God and our submission to growth at any cost. Continue reading

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A Test Of Fidelity – Part 2

1 John 4:1 (NKJV) Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

truthThis admonition in our day falls on the deaf ears of the post-modernist. “Test the spirits? What makes you think anyone can test anything and arrive at ultimate truth?”, they argue. But, again, that is the clear command of the Scriptures as we are exposed to false prophets (cf. Matthew 24:11; Galatians 1:6-8; 2 Peter 2:2; Jude 3). John’s call to test the spirits is a call to the church of his day to understand that false prophets are the mouthpieces of hellish demonic forces and teachings and in particular in his day the heresies of the Gnostics. This is not a battle over intellectual ideas discussed over a cup of coffee at Starbucks but rather a fierce battle in which we face the most dangerous of foes who seek to destroy the very souls of men (Ephesians 6:12). This is a life and death battle of such proportions that it is hard for us to comprehend its scope. This is certainly not arguments over pendantics (how many angels can sit on the head of a pin) which have little to no consequence in light of eternity. Continue reading

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Strangers and Exiles

Hebrews 11:13 (ESV) 13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.

Hebrews 11:16 (ESV) 16  But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

In the old John Wayne movie, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” John Wayne calls an easterner,  Ransom Stoddard, moving to the harsh realities of the West, several times, a “Pilgrim.”  I think I love the way he said it best all.  But that is exactly what we as believers are, Pilgrims, strangers, exiles, in a harsh, unfriendly environment (Matthew 10:16).john-wayne

For the Christian, it is vitally important that we keep our fixed on eternity while we wrestle with the realities of a fallen world here. The writer of Hebrews is making this point as a matter of the reality of a walk of faith.  Israel walked in the Promised Land and never possessed it.  For the patriarchs were seen as passing through Canaan to a better place.

If we become attached to this earth we will soon find ourselves disappointed. This is not our home.  God did not save us for our own personal happiness, and especially to seek it here on this earth. Nothing in this life, including God’s most abundant earthly blessings, will give a believer the satisfaction and joy that come with absolute assurance of future glory. Continue reading

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A Test Of Fidelity Part 1

John 18:38 (NKJV) 38Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” …

In our post-modern culture the idea of absolute truth is seen as a position of arrogance.  The post-modernist sees truth, if it exists at all, as unknowable. “Discussion” has become truththe operative word and the height of intellect is the admission that absolute truth is unattainable.  So he or she is left with “their truth” which has equal value with any other truth.  It is completely subjective, untestable and denies the idea of exclusivity and leaves people open to moral relativism.

Of course this world view runs counter to that of Biblical Christianity (Psalm 110:5; 117:2; 119:142,160; John 1:14,17; 8:32; 14:6; 17:17,19).  The problem though, is that much of the Church is embracing the post-modern view.  Much of Evangelicalism has thrown out proclamation for discussion.  In its haste to become “seeker friendly” in evangelism we have engaged in conversation with those in darkness, as if they have some revealed light, and have left that which the Scriptures promises to honor, the proclamation of the Gospel, out in the cold.  The end result is a convictionless Gospel message that revels in uncertainty. Continue reading

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We are moving to a New Web Host

We will be moving our domain, menwithchests.com, to a different web host shortly. Once we start this transfer we will post on our Facebook page, “menwithchests” the move, and then movinglet you know once the domain has repopulated the Internet and we are up and running. We are making this move to improve and optimize our website and the user experience.

In that last week it has been very heartening to see the response to the revitalization of our blog. We are committed to bringing you helpful articles and solid reviews of Biblically solid books, etc.

This move will not only improve the user experience but make it more convenient for us to update the articles and the website as a whole.

We will also be making a some changes in the look and operation of the site as well in the next couple of days which will improve the mobile app in particular.

Once all this has occurred, accessing “menwithchests.com will be the same as it has always been.

Again,  thanks for your understanding and your support!

-Michael Holtzinger

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New Morning Mercies ( a book review)

Daily devotions are a real must in the spiritual life of a believer. Our devotional life should bring us into a daily encounter with God through His Word.  I realize that for those who take their devotions seriously, there are days that seem to be…well, a bit dry. That is the human condition.  But the necessity of time in the Word is a spiritual disciple that is essential for spiritual growth.

There are many devotional books out there to choose from and you may have struggled, as I have, to find one that will authentically challenge you and stretch you, and cause you to think critically about your relationship with Christ. Well, I have some good news for you.  The “Devotional” tab list several fine devotionals that you will find will cause to meditate throughout the day on the manna of the Word.new-morning-mercies

One such devotional book is; “New Morning Mercies,” by Paul Tripp.  His daily devotional is an expansion of his daily Gospel tweets.  They are so thoughtful I have considered setting up a twitter account just so I can read his Tweets.  They are concise, potent, sometimes painful, exposing our fleshly tendencies, always Christ centered and Gospel oriented.

Let me just quote a few random tweets that set up his devotionals:

January 22, “You and I don’t need to be rescued only from the idols around us.  No, er need to be rescued from our Idolatrous hearts.”

March 7, “It’s the heart that’s the problem.  People. Locations, and situations don’t cause me to sin;  they’re where the sin of my heart gets revealed.”

April 21, You obey not to get God’s attention, but because you have been the object of his attention since before the world began.”

September 2, “Grace causes us to be alive to God and causes our eyes to be open to spiritual realities we once had no capacity to see.”

Oh, and here’s today’s (November 10) “God is not satisfied with informing you about the work of his kingdom.  He transforms you to participate in the work of his kingdom.”

So, there’s a sampling and I hope that whet your appetite for a substantive devotional book.  There are others in the “Devotional” tab that are great as well.  You can click on the the above link and you will be immediately transported to the exact page in Amazon.com for purchase.

-Michael Holtzinger

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The Jesus of Postmodernism Has No Address

whichwayNot long ago I was out on visitation to visit a family who had recently visited the church.  But before I went out I used “Google Earth” to locate the address and print out a map.  I even went so far as to zoom in on the earth map to get an idea of what their house looked like.  I was confident I knew where to  go and had the right address.  That night it was raining and seemed especially dark.  But I was sure that between my research, printed directions, and GPS navigation I would find the right address.  I was really proud of myself for thinking ahead as I headed out that evening.   I just knew I would find the address and arrive on time for my visit with the new family.  All was going well until I came within striking distance of success.  As I was approaching their house, in the rain, I miss read a street sign and turned down the wrong street.  Even my GPS could not help at this point because I was so close.  But the house at the address I pulled up to didn’t look anything like the picture I had seen on “Google Earth”.  I was now a bit confused but proceeded to get out of my car and walk up the drive way for the visit.  Part way up my doubts grew stronger so I turned around and walked back down the driveway and up to the street corner to double check the street address.  I was on the wrong street!  The street I needed was a couple hundred feet away.

I wonder what would have happened if I had applied postmodern epistemology?  For the postmodernist there is no absolute objective truth.  Would the folks answering the door on the wrong street address have said, “Come on in, we’re as good as the folks two blocks away.  We’re just like them.”  Hmmm… I wonder how the family I was supposed to visit and was waiting for me would have taken that concept of truth upon my non-arrival?
Continue reading

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My Pastor Has been in … book for Three Years. Whew!

Pastor Holding Bible ca. 2000

It is hard now days to find solid churches where expositional preaching is the norm in the pulpit.  The  move to messages that address felt needs, or shorter surveys of books of the Bible are far more common.  And to add insult to injury, some have called their 6 week survey of a book, exposition. Don’t get me wrong, there is certainly a place for book surveys, but it doesn’t replace thoughtful, exegetical exposition.

Sound exegetical exposition takes care and lengthy study and the unpacking of that which has been exegeted for presentation in expositional preaching. Sound exegetical exposition seeks to glean the truth and intent of the author so as to convey the sense of the scriptures (Neh.8:8) and therefore the will of God.  The expositor becomes a slave to the text not the whims of his people and it diminishes his tendency toward pet hobby horses.

The most common objection I have heard launched at careful exegetical, expositional preaching is that it doesn’t expose the congregants to the rest of the Bible, especially if the pastor is spending three years, for example, in Romans. At that rate the pastor has hardly any time left to teach through or expose other passages to the listeners and give his people a more well-rounded view of the Bible.

This argument fails to see that any exposition of the Bible will of necessity require that expositor to cross-reference other scriptures. Any good and conscientious preacher will support his exposition by referencing of other verses and sometimes with in-depth treatment of the cross-referenced passages.   Let’s take the Book of Romans as an example.  Nearly, if not all the doctrines found in Romans are taught elsewhere in the Old and New Testaments. It would be difficult, if not impossible to give a clear exposition of Romans without proper treatment of the other Biblical references.  Hence, a large portion of the Bible would have been preached to the congregation and application would be clearly seen.

There are a great many advantages for expositional preaching:

  1. It necessitates a study of the Scriptures that is contextual  and therefore seeks to give the original intent of the author.
  2. It exposes the listener to other passages and sometimes whole books of the Bible on the subject being treated.
  3. It also, therefore, discourages dishonest treatment and interpretations.
  4. It disciplines the pastor to seek out original intent and sound Biblical hermeneutics.
  5. It is inductive by nature (exegesis – out of, instead of into.).
  6. It teacher the church, by example, how to study the Bible.
  7. It goes a long way in eliminating the accusation that the pastor preached a particular message in order to single out a person of group of people.
  8. It avoids” how-to messages that seek to meet the felt needs of others (therapeutic moralism).
  9. It honors the formal argument of the Reformation, Sola Scriptura, and places the preaching of the Word of God as central in our corporate and private worship.
  10. It guards against faulty interpretation and sets the foundation when deductive studies (ie. doctrinal, biographical, topical) are presented.

The best Biblical preachers of our day are all expositional preachers (John MacArthur, Steve Lawson, Al Mohler, the late James Kennedy, the late W. A. Criswell, R.C. Sproul, Dr. David Jeremiah, Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe, Dr. Allister Beggs, Dr. Mark Dever, the late J. Vernon McGee, and his mentor Dr. Harry Ironside, the late James Montgomery Boice, Martin Lloyd Jones, A.W. Tozer, and many others).

The Puritan movement was marked by some of the most extraordinary expositors America and Europe ever experienced ( Hugh Latimer, Thomas Crammer, Richard Baxtor, John Owen, John Newton, Jonathan Edwards, G. Campbell Morgan, and others).

Others, such as, the Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon, D.L. Moody, B.B. Warfield, F.F Bruce, and  are also notable expositors.

– Michael Holtzinger

 

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