Monthly Archives: July 2005

My Prayer for a God-centered Vacation


I am about to leave for a vacation with my family for a week. I am excited for many reasons. I will be able to spend some much needed time playing and loving on my beautiful children and wife! I am also praying for something amazing to happen while we are away…namely to be drawn together in the joy of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

I am praying, and hope that you would pray, that our vacation would not just be a time of relaxation and fun! (although we do plan on relaxing and having lots of fun)! I am praying for spiritual revival in my family. I’m praying that our devotion times would be spirit-filled (in the hotel room). I am praying that my children would become more aware of the power of Jesus; I’m praying that we could be revitalized before we trudge through a fall semester that may prove to be draining and demanding.

I guess my point is that vacations can be good and they can be bad. Believe me, I have taken bad vacations! Times when all we do is sleep late and gorge ourselves on food and watch 20 movies that have nothing to do with widening our souls (to fit a gigantic Christ inside)! Good vacations are like times when armies stop and regroup. They need to refuel, and receive more supplies for the coming war. (WE ARE IN WAR EVERY DAY…that war does not stop on vacation by the way). The battle plan needs to be re-visited. Everyone needs to get back onto the same page. Everyone needs to be reacquainted with their general, and have new confidence breathed into their lungs! The Bible is our blue print and our general is a joy giving, satisfying Christ.

One way that I am praying to be reacquainted with the joy-giver is to spend a week with Saint Augustine. What an amazing man! I’m going to be reading a small book entitled Augustine on Prayer, by Thomas A. Hand. Let me just read you a few excerpts from the life of this joy seeking man of God.

“To aim at the happy life, to wish for the happy life, to covet the happy life, to seek it and follow after it, is, I think, the business of all men.”

“But to know where to find this thing desired of all; that is disputed among them, that divides them.”

Augustine could never be satisfied with a little happiness now and then, “like splashes of color against the drab background of daily drudgery.” Fleeting pleasures could never satisfy his questing soul!

The only satisfaction for Augustine (and for you and me) could be found in God. He articulates in this way: “From all this it will readily occur to anyone that the happiness which an intelligent being desires as its legitimate object is the result of a combination of two things: namely that it enjoy the Immutable Good, which is God, without interruption; and that it know with a certainty that it is exempt alike from doubt as from error, that it shall abide in that enjoyment forever.”

So, we are not going on a vacation because it quenches the thirst of our souls (many people do). We are retreating to be replenished by the being that can satisfy our souls. May God be at the forefront of our vacations and our daily activities, and may we not waste ourselves on fleeting pleasures. We were made to stand against a glorious Christ and be dwarfed by beauty and majesty! That is true pleasure and enjoyment…and it glorifies God! Have a wonderful week!

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Tickling Ears; Deceiving Thousands

2 Timothy 4:3,4–“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

Joel Osteen is not the first public teacher to fulfill Paul’s prophecy in his letter to Timothy. However, since I minister in the Houston area, I want to publicly address this ministry for the sake of the people in my church and all who will read this blog (probably 3 people).

If you missed the interview with Larry King, I would encourage you to check out the transcript at: http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0506/20/lkl.01.html

Now, I also want to mention that apparently Osteen received a lot of flack for the way that he dodged clear questions by Larry King. So, he apologized to everyone who was offended…Check out his apology here: http://www.joelosteen.com/site/PageServer?pagename=LarryKingLetter

The main issue in the apology was Joel’s squirming around Jesus as the only way to heaven. When plainly asked if Jews and Hindus and others who don’t trust Christ would be saved, he said that “I don’t know.” This is called universalism and it means that all roads, religions and practices can lead to heaven. It is heresy!

Some of you reading this may not be familiar with the reasons that I am warning people of Joel Osteen. Let me list a few: (by the way, he did not apologize for these in the above letter)

  1. He does not preach the Gospel! He spends his entire sermons on self-help tips and throws some Scripture in at the end…Followed by an invitation to “accept” Christ. This obviously leads people to false assurance of salvation and a misunderstanding of the nature of grace.
  2. He does not mention sin. (that’s a big problem when you are a minister of the Gospel and the Gospel is about God’s restoration of a people who are SINFUL by nature). The Bible is clear that the wages of sin are death. Not to discuss this is to deny the authority of Scripture and pervert the Word of God. He claims that he does not want to condemn people so he avoids sin. 1 John 1:8 “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
  3. He takes no stance on abortion and same-sex marriage from the pulpit. See his reasoning on this in the interview. Basically he says that he interprets the Bible literally and that it is the inerrant Word of God. But–he does not mention abortion and same-sex marriage because they are political issues. (What does this say about his view of God’s Word? Public opinion trumps Romans 1?)
  4. He teaches a health and wealth prosperity gospel. In other words, the main goal of Christianity is to be blessed physically. (See article for more)
  5. He has a following of thousands! Thousands of people (57,000 + opening weekend) are attending Lakewood, thousands of people pack out arena’s across the country at his conferences and thousands more watch by television.

So my warning to you is not to be deceived by this false teacher. Do do say he is a “good preacher” with weak theology. Do not say that he is a “positive preacher” and I listen to him for a lift. Beware! This easy gospel is trapping thousands. Don’t trade “feeling good” for the truth. Perhaps I will write a review of the interview with Larry King in a coming blog, but for now, be warned! Test everything that you hear (including this article) and hold on to the good (1 John 4:1).

Darfur Awareness

As Americans we tend to become caloused to happenings in other parts of the world (myself included). The newest addition to our staff, Keith Strahan, is raising awareness for an area in the Sudan called Darfur. The following is an article that he wrote for the local newspaper.

Keith writes: “I wrote this article in hopes to raise awareness of happenings around the world. In this particular case of Darfur, a region of Sudan, I felt that it was necessary to gain the attention of people close to me. This article is not to diminish the other atrocities of our modern age, but to bring one forth in hopes that we as a people will dig and read to spawn a desire to bring the Gospel to lost and dying peoples.”

Over the past couple of months a situation that is taking place on the continent of Africa has caught my heart and attention. Many of you may be aware and are actively seeking help; some are aware but don’t know how to help; some are aware and don’t want to help; but for the most part we are ignorant of what is going on in Darfur. Darfur is a region of Sudan that is nestled in the West bordering Chad. If you do not know of the situation and the necessity for urgent action, let me give you an idea of what is going on.

It’s genocide. The Arab Janjaweed militias, backed by the Government of Sudan, have bombed and burnt the black Muslim population of Darfur from their homes. They’ve destroyed their crops and poisoned their water supplies. Now they’re preventing life-saving food and medicine from reaching them. The American Heritage Dictionary defines genocide as the systematic extermination of an entire national, racial, political, or ethnic group. The Sudanese government, along with the Janjaweeds, is specifically targeting this group of people. The claim by the rebels is that the government is favoring these Arabs over the Africans. So this is a government sponsored assault on a people group based on race.

Why isn’t anyone calling it genocide? Well, over 130 countries, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and most other European Union countries have signed an International Convention committing themselves to act to prevent genocide anywhere in the world. That’s why no government wants to call Darfur genocide. If any country does then the cost of that would be a joint effort to stop it. And with our country’s dealings elsewhere in the world and with French and Chinese oil ties in Sudan, many countries are reluctant to involve themselves. So, sadly it is left on the civilians to act and encourage our governments to see this horror and do something about it. Sad thing is, most see, and their foreign policy and political alliances cause them to turn their heads. Even American cable stations coverage of this conflict are far and few between. The only really reliable sources are from international news services such as the UK’s BBC and Reuters, the international equivalent of the Associated Press.

I’m not sure where your political philosophy of American interventionism lies, but I urge you to take time and consider. Over 1,000 people are dying every day. Over 400,000 have already died or are passed saving; the death toll could reach over 1 million. Time is not an ally. Disease and quite possibly military operations could increase this death toll more rapidly. I urge you to study and act. Read about this conflict and decide for yourself if these atrocities are worth your thought and action. Here is my fear, the same as from Hotel Rwanda, that “[You’ll] hear this, say ‘Oh, my God that’s terrible!’ then go back to eating [your] dinners.”

The only way now, without government help, to help prevent this, or at best alleviate some pain and suffering, will be to join up with some humanitarian efforts, particularly that of the Red Cross. Visit websites, like savedarfur.org, talk to me, call and e-mail your local representative and the President. But most of all, pray for these people, that this will give us an opening to share the Gospel of Christ. For that is the ultimate end.

Regards,
A. Keith Strahan

Treasures in Deuteronomy

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29 (NAS)

Most people that I talk to cringe when they see the sermon text to be found in the book of Deuteronomy. Many 1-year bible plans have been thwarted by this “daunting” book. The thing that I notice about these comments is that they are based on a very cursory knowledge of this wonderful masterpiece. So, before we go on, if you are one of the “Deuto-haters” out there, let this be a summons back to the Bible. After all, Paul was right when he said “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4 (emphasis mine).

It sounds like there is something very important for us in the book of Deuteronomy! What could it be? What could be so foundational that our perseverance and encouragement (and our hope of being saved) rest on these words of Moses? Allow me to list only a few:

  • We see who this glorious and majestic God is… He is a God that can turn an eleven day journey into a 40 year fiasco! (Duet. 1:2,3) He is a God that gives life and takes it away (Deut. 1:10; 2:14,15); He is a God who appoints the victories of rulers and armies and their demise (Deut. 2:9,12,24 ); He is a God who passionately burns against the wicked (2:34; 3:6; 9:14 etc.) He is a God that wants people to to have the heart to obey (Deut. 5:29); He is also the God that gives people the heart to obey (Deut. 29:4); He is a God that chooses who will be saved, not based on their merit, but on His love and electing grace (Deut.7; 9:6,7)!
  • We see how we should relate to this majestic God of the universe…
    1. Dads should teach their families the fear of Yahweh and all His ways so that they might love Him fully. (1:17, 6:2)
    2. We should worship this God! (7; 33:29)
    3. We should obey the LORD by faith! (8:6, 11)
    4. We should fear hell! (32:22)
    5. We should learn to feed on manna from heaven (8:3)
    6. We should not put our God to the test. (6:16)
    7. We should not have any gods before Yahweh. (wow, the whole book!)
    8. We should leave room for God’s wrath (32:41,42)
    9. We should bring the Gospel to all the nations and rejoice in our great salvation! (32:43)

Finally, Dueteronomy 29:29 carves out our task. Namely to leave the secret things to the Lord, but to pour our lives out gulping down those things that have been revealed to us! We must read God’s Word to know God! May we (my church, Baptists everywhere, and all Christians) be a people who delight in God’s Word!

I hope you find as much pleasure as I did in reading Deuteronomy. Read it over and over and over and over! Enjoy!

Why Blog?

I’d like to lay out a few main ideas that I have for this blog and make it clear why I am following the “blog-trend.” First, let me start with the title for this blog…I feel that it describes the existence of every human on the face of this earth. So, I hope that it serves as a reminder that we do not walk, talk, breathe, make plans, play golf, go to a job, go to church, read our bibles, or even pray apart from God’s sovereign hand. So may people be awakened to God’s goodness in their lives!

My prayer is for a God-centered world view, and I don’t want that to sound like a Piper quote. I really desire for people to know the majesty of our God. Too many times we settle for a god that is weak and blind. By God’s mercy may we be transformed! We swim in mercy! Romans 12:1-2 is my prayer for the people in my church and for anyone who might gaze on these words. But notice that we are transformed and not conformed to the world BY THE MERCIES OF GOD.

My life, as I’m sure is yours, is a story of mercy swimming. I will in future posts reflect on the goodness of God in my life. He has interrupted, hardened, blessed, taken away and made alive…Praise be to God! I want to encourage anyone who reads this blog to also be aware of a few others worth reading. First, I would like to heartily recommend Jim Hamilton’s blog. Dr. Hamilton is a great man. He has taught me much about the majesty of God and the worthiness of spending our lives studying to know Him. I will also say that Billy Newhouse has been a great encouragement to me, especially to blog…He is a great friend and a humble man of God.

May God continually provide us with oceans of mercy to swim in!