• Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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  • September 2008
    M T W T F S S
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What Would You Ask For?

In that night God appeared to Solomon, and said to him, “Ask what I shall give you.” And Solomon said to God, “You have shown great and steadfast love to David my father, and have made me king in his place. O Lord God, let your word to David my father be now fulfilled, for you have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth. Give me now wisdom and knowledge to go out and come in before this people, for who can govern this people of yours, which is so great?” (2 Chronicles 1:7-10)

As a child, did you ever wish for Aladdin’s Lamp? What would have been your three wishes? Even adults have fantasies in which they imagine what it would be like to simply wish their problems away. Some of us have, at times, treated God like a magic genie. We pray as if making a wish. If God guaranteed you He would fully answer one of your prayers, what would that prayer be? Joseph Alleine addressed this issue in his “Alarm to the Unconverted” in 1671. His answer is very relevant for this generation:

If God would give you your choice, as He did to Solomon, what would you ask for? Go into the gardens of pleasure, and gather all the fragrant flowers there-would these satisfy you? Go to the treasures of mammon; suppose you may carry away as much as you desire. Go to the towers, to the trophies of honor-and become a man of renown. Would any of these, would all of these satisfy you, and make you to count yourself happy? If so, then certainly you are carnal and unconverted.

Converting grace turns the heart from its idols-to the living God. Before conversion, the man minded his farm, friends, pleasures more than Christ. He found more sweetness in his merry company, worldly games, earthly delights-than in Christ.

Now he says, ‘But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ!’
(Philippians 3:7-8)


As many of us look toward the upcoming election, the focus has been primarily on the economy and the war against terror. Let us not forget that the lives of unborn children continue to be terminated every day in abortion clinics across America. Jeff Jacoby writes:

“This is hardly the first presidential campaign to pit an antiabortion Republican ticket against pro-choice Democrats. Never before, however, has the difference been so stark. Obama advocates abortion rights even more sweeping than those enacted under Roe v. Wade. ‘The first thing I’d do as president,’ he assured the Planned Parenthood Action Fund last year, ‘is sign the Freedom of Choice Act.’ The measure would not only codify Roe, it would eliminate even restrictions on abortion that the Supreme Court has allowed-the federal ban on government funding of abortion, for example, or the law prohibiting partial-birth abortion. During last month’s forum at the Saddleback Church, Obama was asked when ‘a baby gets human rights.’ He fudged: ‘Answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade.’ But there is nothing hesitant about Obama’s abortion stance. As an Illinois lawmaker, he opposed a bill making it clear that premature babies born alive after surviving a failed abortion must be protected and cannot be killed or simply left to die. Even after virtually identical legislation-the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002-passed unanimously in the U.S. House and Senate, Obama continued to oppose the state version. On abortion, no presidential candidate has ever been so extreme. And when has a Republican ticket ever been so unabashedly antiabortion?”

Anti-McCain Photographer Doctors His Picture For The Cover Of Atlantic Monthly

Photographer Jill Greenberg was hired by the Atlantic Monthly to photograph the Republican presidential nominee John McCain. Greenberg then posted manipulated pictures from the photo shoot on her Web site. Of the final photograph given to Atlantic Monthly, she said “I left his eyes red and his skin looking bad.”

Greenberg took several backlit pictures, which she then manipulated and posted to her site. In one photo, she added blood oozing from McCain’s shark-toothed mouth. Atlantic Monthly editor, James Bennet, said Greenberg behaved improperly and will not be paid for the session. He said the magazine is also considering a lawsuit.

The Breakdown Of The Megachurch

The number of members or Sunday attendance is not an accurate measure to determine if the church is doing its job. Serious spiritual growth is not obtained through frivolous jokes and entertaining stories. The Word of God must be soundly preached even where the congregation must be challenged to a new level of thinking. New studies are currently verifying what disciples of Biblical truth have suspected all along. Cathy Lynn Grossman writes in USA TODAY that:

“You can create a church that’s big, but that is still not transforming people. Without transformation, the Christian message is not advanced,” says Ed Stetzer, head of Lifeway Research in Nashville, which did the Outreach study.

The unchurched remain untouched. While the number of people who say they attend at least once a week hovers around 30% year after year, the number who say they “never” go to church climbs. . . .

Many slide away from church to find other answers to their spiritual quest or another church where the preaching or music or family programs better suit their style.

“The megachurch story is not really about growth, it’s about shifting allegiances. People want to feel good about who they already are,” says Philip Goff, director of the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at Indiana University in Indianapolis. “If church is too challenging or not entertaining, they’ll move on.”

Many who do stick may be “spiritually stuck,” as well, according to an intense spiritual inventory conducted by Willow Creek.

The study, now being marketed to churches nationwide as a self-assessment tool, found many who attend church are not progressing from beginner believers to become “fully centered in Christ” – deep in Bible study, prayer and service.

In response, founder and senior pastor Bill Hybels has changed his sermons to more directly challenge worshipers at every level. Willow has launched a slate of dozens of Wednesday mini-classes focusing on spiritual growth, coached and mentored by the church. . . .

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