Archive for August, 2014

Preparing for Motherhood

Preparing for Motherhood : The Inside Scoop on Your New Job

A useful little book that I got for the expecting mothers in our church, it is a useful tool as a pastor to use and pre-birth counseling.  It is short and readable and great to prompt discussion.  I appreciated the author’s emphasis on praying before the baby arrives.  The main emphasis of the book is actually on praying but it touches on different prayers for the parents-to-be and the baby.  Has practical wisdom here and there but always a reminder to the reader that the primary concern for a new parent for their child ought to be spiritual.  How I used it in our church is to have the couple highlight two or three things from it so that we can share about what they learn and also the couple’s discussion generated from the book.  A helpful resource.

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Purpose: To establish why Biblically we must be cautious and exercise diligent discernment in sending someone to seminary.

Operating Principle: We need to proceed with caution when we are affirming that someone is called to the ministry and therefore be cautious with those whom we send to seminary


Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands,and do not share in the sins of others.  Keep yourself pure.” (2 Timothy 5:22)

This laying of hands relates to empowerment of ministry in light of 2 Timothy 1:5-7: “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

Notice that rationale is given in 2 Timothy 5:24-25: “The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.25 In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever.

The purpose of not being hasty is so that we may know what their sinful tendency is (24) and also tendency of good deeds are (v.25)

Picture: We must not put someone who is still learning to ride with a Tricycle to a school to learn to ride a school bus. We need to work on him being able to ride a bicycle and drive a car first before we put him in bus driving school because even while in driving school he will be a danger to himself and to others!


  • We need to watch two things: Doctrines and character: “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.” (1 Timothy 4:16)
  • Given 1 Timothy 5:24-25 we are not just waiting to see the good side of a potential seminarian; we all sin and we want to see what he is like when his bad side come out; in other words, our true character comes out when we sin and we want to know about that side of him. But only time will tell…so we need to be cautious and give it time to evaluate someone’s character.
  • If there is doubt, we go slow rather than hasty.


  1. Caution #1: We must be cautious in sending someone to seminary since it is setting someone to be a teacher
    1. Point: Seminarians are already viewed not just a potential spiritual leader/teacher but already one in development.
    2. Picture: A person doesn’t go to` seminary and then becomes a teacher like how they put cars together in a factory; rather they are one already, and are being refined and improved in seminary. Think of it more along the lines of a coach working with an athlete that already has the “stuff.”
    3. Proof:
      1. Be warned: “Not many ought to be teachers…because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1)
        • Note we must be slow since we ought to love our brother that they not get judge by the Lord more strictly if they are not ready.
        • Note also that many ought not to be teacher which urges further support for slowing down.
      2. The need to slow down is even more important if his doctrine is not solid which then goes against 2 Timothy 2:15: “Be diligent topresent yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
      3. Keep in mind that some seminary students already are pastoring part time at a church already.
      4. Let us not kid ourselves: Seminarians are already seen as able to teach even in our own church, lest why is it a Seminarian can come to our church and in a short time already is given the responsibility in leading a Bible Study group?


  • Caution #2: Knowledge puffs up
    1. Point: We need to proceed with caution with seminary especially if we don’t know someone whether that person is prideful since this person enrolling in Seminary will further fuel their pride with knowledge. This need for caution is especially more so if we already know someone is prideful.
    2. Proof: Knowledge puffs ups: “Now concerningthings sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have  Knowledge [a]makes arrogant, but love edifies.” (1 Corinthians 8:1)
    3. Practice
      1. Is this person teachable with the knowledge he has now?
      2. How does this person receive correction of his knowledge? Is he humble about it, ignore it or become resistant?  This is a problem if the person is going to go to seminary and it is better that the individual does not go to Seminary.


  • Caution #3: While there is a place for growth, we must remember in light of the above that a person in seminary training for the ministry is not the place for those still taking “baby steps”
    • Point: This is not to say we don’t help people who need assistance with baby steps; we should help all believers! But we need to say he’s not ready for seminary at this time and help him simply just a member without the burdening responsibility of seminary and the expectation that comes with being a seminarian, etc.
    • Proof:
      • 1 Timothy 3:6: “andnot a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation [a]incurred by the devil.
        • Contextually this is talking about the qualification of an Elder.
        • This verse does apply to Seminarians since earlier we have established how Seminarians as a group can be called upon to pastor already.
        • In the Greek we see that the word “new convert” is a neophyte; he is new or young. Here this young is not just in reference to age but young theologically since there is nothing about being young in age alone that necessitate they will definitely fall into condemnation more than those who are old in age.  There are also those who are old in age who can be new convert and prideful as well, so this is talking about young in the faith and I would include a subset of it are those who are spiritually immature.
        • Note again that the concern in this qualification is driven by love since we do not want a Seminarian or a candidate to training to be an elder to “not becomeconceited and fall into the condemnation [a]incurred by the devil.
      • Practice
        1. Age in of itself is not an issue but this: Is the candidate for seminary a seasoned saint?
        2. Have we seen the seminary candidate being tested? If not, are we warranted to send them on the dangerous road of seminary training for the ministry?
          • Note 1 Timothy 3:10à “These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach.
          • While 1 Timothy 3:10 is primarily addressing the qualification deacons, note the word “also” that put elders also in the same group of those who must be first tested.


We must be slow and practice biblical discernment when we send someone to seminary.

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Unrelated author’s personal note: If you follow our blog, I want to give a personal update.  Much has transpired since I’ve been on vacation.  I think the Lord has changed me and my perspective in this unforseen event with our ministry while I was gone on vacation.  I think I have been challenged to grow deeper in Christ in a good way but much of it will never be told publicly.  Thank you all who have prayed for me online here this anonymous prayer request, in heaven you will know what was prayed for and that the Lord answered.


I thought I take some break from some heavy stuff from my personal life to talk about another heavier topic: ISIS.

There are weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq; it’s called ISIS.

Coming from the US what people are posting of themselves that is trending right now in social media is the ice bucket challenge; meanwhile coming from the Middle East what people are posting of themselves that is trending right now in social media are graphic video of people kicking the bucket. Obama’s action against ISIS is a drop in the bucket and I think it has to do with his intent early in his presidency to end the war on terror being on his bucket list.

Somebody online has asked me in light of my rhetoric if that means i’m for a military operation involving massive ground troops.  Here’s my thoughts:

I propose a better plan than massive ground troops: I think a better plan is to hit this new Islamic State where it hurts; hit them logistically. I am sure you have heard the military maxim: “Amateurs study strategy ; experts study logistics” you can’t wage war unless you have capital to support your army; I don’t care if you are a die hard radical but you can’t establish any state without beans and bullets; even extremists will start having low morale. The resources that ISIS have to finance their army is stolen goods from their victims and oil that they sell in the black market.  Concerning captured assets, these can only last that long since it will be used up and then there is a need to continually expand and find more victims.  But expansion itself is costly and unpredictable.  The biggest stable source of funding the war is oil  But who do they sell it to? It has to be someone that can refine crude oil. Turkey? Saudi Arabia? Kuwait? Turkey want to expand their own brand of Isamic Neo-Ottoman empire vision and I doubt it’s them; Saudis and Kuwait has been supporting those against Assad and their are many Wahabi sympathizers if not Wahabis Sunnis themselves that share this particular ideologically. I submit we disable their ability to process oil by means of Naval blockade of the oil, and the use of air bombing and Special Operations Forces against oil assets in ISIS hands.

We need to stop our not so covert effort at equipping the Free Syrian Army as well since FSA are terrible fighters and their gear keep on falling into ISIS hands.  Just look at the uniforms, weapons and heavy vehicles ISIS has.

Hopefully Iran and Russia would continue to be opportunists and arm Assad in Syria and Iraq, both countries whom ISIS are fighting.  If these countries continue to arm both those countries it helps us not to give up more of our military hardware.   Don’t forget Iran has a strong motivation to expand in their region and be pro-Shiites (which ISIS is against) in Iraq and Sryia; Russia also has renewed their influence in the Slavic states and the Middle East (Russia is pro-Assad with a naval base in Syria and trainers right now fighting in Syria and they just recently entered the Iraqi scene by selling attack helicopters and having “trainers” on the ground in Iraq to teach and carry out actual Attack helicopter sorties).

The only thing we need to do is destroy the oil capability of ISIS selling oil and we will see the end of cash flow sustaining their Islamic State and we will see their ability to field an army dwindle (insurgents need to eat too, have weapons and ammo, maintain the wear and tear of fighting vehicles, etc). This weakened ISIS will become more like a loose network of thugs and terrorists than an Islamic that it is now.  Then Iraq, Syria and the Kurds (who have now sold their captured oil to their ironic historic enemy of Turkey which is how the Kurds fund their fighting) can then finally have the opportunity to reclaim territory the next few months from ISIS although I don’t think full control will be possible but at least it will become something more like Pakistan’s federally administered tribal areas areas for terrorists than an actual Islamic state that it is now.

What do you guys think?

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Dear All,

My vacation is cut short early because of major ministry issues that cannot be disclosed.

This is probably the most personal I’ve ever gotten on blogging, but please pray that God will give me wisdom, will continue to be Sovereign over my will to do what is right and that Scripture guide me.

Please Pray.

I will not be on the blog quite yet or read all the beautiful and Godly posts quite yet with everything going on.

Thank you.

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Editor’s Note: I (“SlimJim”) am away in a family trip and this is a pre-scheduled post. cover50589-medium


This is the fascinating first hand account of an American Christian doctor doing work in Afghanistan who was kidnapped by the Taliban in 2012.  Dalip Joseph is an American of Indian descent (as in the country, not Native Americans) who has a heart for Afghanistan and made multiple trips there before he was kidnapped on December 5th, 2012.  A few days later Joseph was rescued in a daring raid by the US Navy SEALs.  Unfortunately the SEAL point man was killed during the operation.  What I found most interesting in the book is the authors’ description of the Taliban—the author does have some sympathy with some of his kidnappers and they even have discussion about America.  It is intriguing to see the human side of the lower level members of the Taliban.  Probably the most unusual part to the reader is the level of hospitality shown to Joseph by the Taliban, but this must be viewed in light of the fact that hospitality is built in within the Afghan culture.  Readers must make no mistake that the Taliban is an evil force out there when we are reminded in the book that one of the Taliban was nicknamed Butcher for the obvious reason for what he does to hostage while another Taliban was suppose to be the suicide bomber using the vehicle that Joseph was captured in.  The book was also personally enjoyable for me to read given his references to Southern California with places that I am familiar with; he’s a local guy!   As someone who is fascinated with reading the book for the military side of things, there’s also a remarkable account of when a Taliban commander giving a phone to Joseph to call a certain number to negotiate for money but it ended up being intercepted by the US and Joseph ended up talking to the US military who told him that they had eyes on him.  Talk about incredible (and frightening)!  The Taliban commander later asked him who did he talked to and Joseph told him he does not know—after all wasn’t the Taliban commander who gave him the number?  Fortunately the ordeal was for a few days and the SEALs came in to rescue him.  Because of the book’s discussion about the different guys and their personality, you get the sense that Joseph was sadden to see lives being killed—yet he understood that they went in to rescue him.  If you have ever read In the Presence of My Enemies of another Christian couple that parallel this hostage crisis with Islamic terrorist, you would like this book as well.  The book was such an interesting read that I read it all in one day.  The only concern I had with this book is the lack of the discussion about how does the Gospel applied to his situation.  There is no mention by the author to the Taliban that he was a Christian though he did say that he believed in the true God.  It hit me really hard thinking about how those Taliban next to him went to a Christ-less eternity.  Sobering actually.  With all the news of growing Jihadist movements and events in the Middle East with Christians, this is a timely account.  I recommend it.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by Thomas Nelson—W Publishing and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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Editor’s Note: I (“SlimJim”) am away in a family trip and this is a pre-scheduled post.  It is written by our guest Russ M.  He is currently in the Marines.


The purpose for writing this article is that of the issues of biblical versus unbiblical worldview. In some cases modern evangelicals have lost our identity. There is an identity crisis not realizing that our true identity is found in Christ and God’s word. We died with Christ 2,000 years ago and we also resurrected with Him that we now walk in the newness of life (Romans 6:4). As Paul stated, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…” (Galatians 2:20 NASB)

In light of our present world, the church of Jesus Christ has been relying on their own thoughts and ideas revolving around popular culture, that they seldom consider the words of Scripture. By failing to analyze common pop culture opinions without the accordance of Scripture we are vulnerable to the prince and powers of this world (Ephesians 2:2). Even the devil masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14 NASB), producing words of light that affects even Christians, because they do not guard their hearts with Scripture.

Though the war is won at the cross the battle still rages in the fight for souls. It is our responsibility. “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

How do we watch with all diligence?

By examining it, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1 NASB).

Shell of God’s truth stuffed with the Devil’s lie.


1. “Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship.”

Is Christianity a religion?

If you mention the word, “religion” in any circumstance with popular culture, almost automatically there are negative connotations associated with that particular word; in the Western civilization the word, “religion” has become a curse word. Words that associated with “religion” are as follows; narrow mindedness, blind faith, dogmatic, fundies, just to name a few.

But in laymen’s terms religion can be defined as, “man’s attempt to reach God”, like the ladder of Babel theology, which God cursed in Genesis 11. It is true that Christianity is not a religion because Christians are not attempting to reach God. Also, Christianity is God not attempting to reach man, but God purposefully saving specific men and women through the God-man Jesus Christ. While it is noted that Christianity is not a religion, is actually biblical.


Is Christianity a relationship?

The latter of the statement, “…it’s a relationship” is too generally stated. When our cultural thinks about a relationship they think about earthly relationships with feel-good sensations. Our culture relates a relationship with a father/mother parenting their children, they think about their best earthly friend on the planet, or some might even fantasize in creating an ideal relationship with a god to their likening; quoting words like, “Jesus is my homie.” With this broad terminology of relationship and the combination of not rooting our theology can be disastrous and can lead many astray worshipping a god of their imagination.

Everyone has relationship with the God of the universe. There are two relationships that God has with every individual on this Earth and is define in John 3:36

“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (NASB)

The one who believes in Christ Jesus has eternal life, and the one who do not has wrath of God abiding in them. Earlier in the 3rd chapter of John we see the characteristics of eternal life, “unless one is born of water and the Spirit,” in (John 3:5) and is sandwiched with, “unless one is born again” in verse 3 and “You must be born again in verse 7. Being born again is not just saying I have a relationship with Christ, but demonstrating new desires of holiness, desires of witnessing to the lost, and desires of becoming more like the Christ of Scripture. Another question that must be asked is, “What is a Christian’s relationship with sin? Do they love to sin? Do they relish sin? Do they enjoy sin?” If they do say yes then they are still slaves to sin. “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness” (NASB). Therefore, you can have a wrathful or eternal relationship; there is no grey area here.

It’s not justification through relationship? It’s Justification through faith in Christ trusting in the holy sacrifice. (Ephesians 2:8-9).

What kind of relationship should we have with the God of the universe?

“Christianity is not a religion; it’s more than a relationship. Christianity is about submitting to the lordship of Christ can conforming to His image daily. (Romans 12:1-2)”


2. “God loves the sinner, but He hates the sin.”

In my youth I recall this phrase being used in a Christian rap artist’s lyrics and in the preaching of the pulpit during an evangelistic crusade endeavoring to win the lost. But where do we get such theology? Do we get it from t-shirts? Do we get our theology from photographic memes? Or do we get our theology from the unadulterated truth found in Scripture?

Yes, God does love sinners (John 3:16). Yes Jesus came to seek and save that which is lost (Luke 19:10) Yes, Jesus is a friend of sinners (Mark 2:13-17). Yes all true, but the statement, “God loves the sinner, but He hates the sin.” is only half-true, and half-truths are nothing more than deadly lies.

But imagine if someone close to you were murdered in cold blood for no reason. Would it bring justice to say, “I love the murderer, but I hate the murder?” Does God really love the nouns, but hate the verbs? Does God love the thief, but hate the thievery? Does love the homosexual, but hate the homosexuality? Does God love the adulterer, but hates the adultery?

Yes, God does hate those actions, but He even hates those who commit does actions. Yes, God hates the sinner and the sin.

“There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.” (Proverbs 6:16-19 NASB)

When we look at these six things the LORD hates, they are all nouns, showcasing the body parts that connects to the sinner that commits the sins or verbs:  haughty (verb-sin) eyes (noun-sinner), lying (verb-sin) tongue (noun-sinner), hands (noun-sinner) that shed (verb-sin) innocent blood, heart (noun-sinner) that devises (verb-sin) wicked plans, feet (noun-sinner) that run rapidly to evil (verb-sin), and A false witness (noun-sinner) who utters lies (verb-sin)


Here are more verses that support God hating the sinners.


“The boastfull shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity.” (Psalm 5:5)


“The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked, And the one who loves violence His soul hates.” (Psalm 11:5)


Still in unbelief? Does God punish sin in hell? Or Does God punish sinners in hell? The corresponding NT Greek word associated with hell is Gehenna, occurring 12 times in the NT Scripture, 11 out of the 12 came from Jesus own mouth. No sin is in hell, but only sinners weep and gnash (Luke 13:28), not sin.


There is no beating behind a bush around this, this timeless truth is uncomfortable yet when sinners are confronted with the gospel they will either cling more to the cross of Christ or continue to live an unrepented anti-God lifestyle.


We are naturally God-haters from the moment of conception, but once a sinner recognizes their exceedingly sinfulness, then they will see how amazing grace really is, because they were formerly wrath abiding citizens, but now are children of light, they will truly see the love of God, and they will abide in Christ through trails, tribulation, persecution, and even death.


We must not have an itching ear virus lecturing to our felt needs; bad theology runs rapid with the gross amount of false teachers. Let us go back to the word of God and sift any lumps of coals and be careful to examine the words that you hear in pop culture. Let us not be lax and test everything with the Scripture. “[The word of God is] more desirable than gold, yes than fine Gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.” (Psalm 19:10 NASB)

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On August 11, 2014, Robin Williams was found hanging in his bedroom by his personal assistant in Tiburon, in Northern California.  He was pronounced dead by those who arrived at the scene.  Williams is considered a comedian icon who is praised as the king of comedy who knew how to make people laugh.  But a huge turn of events changed his life.  The king of comedy who tried to keep everyone happy later became a victim to the fiery darts of this nemesis: depression.  It’s a sharp blade that slowly cuts through the soul of a man.  If the man has no shield to protect him, this sharp blade will move deeper into the human soul in order to take captive the mind of man.  Please pray for the family during this difficult time.  May the Gospel of Christ makes its way to the family so they can taste the power of the Living Water.

Depression is has played a prominent role in many of my counseling sessions.  I have seen the bad and ugly side of it.  The only hope I believe is the Great Physician who prescribes the right medicine to those who are willing to schedule an appointment of Him.  If you are in the Valley of Vision, come to the Lord because He will comfort you.  No one can comfort and bring hope to the soul like the Great Physician.  He knows the human heart and human nature.

The most experienced psychologist or observer of human nature knows infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the Cross of Jesus. The greatest psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot grasp this one thing: what sin is. Worldly wisdom knows what distress and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the godlessness of man. And so it also does not know that man is destroyed only by his sin and can be healed only by forgiveness. Only the Christian knows this. In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner. The psychiatrist must first search my heart and yet he never plumbs its ultimate depth. The Christian brother knows when I come to him: here is a sinner like myself, a godless man who wants to confess and yearns for God’s forgiveness. The psychiatrist views me as if there were no God. The brother views me as I am before the judging and merciful God in the Cross of Jesus Christ.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community

A relevant prayer concerning this heavy melancholy is vividly described in this prayer from one of the puritan prayers from the The VALLEY OF VISION: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotionals.  This prayer touches the core of the spiritually depressed man and women.


Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
     where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
     hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox
     that the way down is the way up,
     that to be low is to be high,
     that the broken heart is the healed heart,
     that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
     that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
     that to have nothing is to possess all,
     that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
     that to give is to receive,
     that the valley is the place of vision.
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
     and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
          thy life in my death,
          thy joy in my sorrow,
          thy grace in my sin,
          thy riches in my poverty
          thy glory in my valley.

Ancient prayers concerning this problem is also documented in the Bible.  See Psalm 119:25-32.  Real emotions from a man’s soul that is an melancholy state is here documented for us too see.  I remember preaching a message from this passage and it was comforting to me.  Please watch how the psalmist responds:


25 My soul cleaves to the dust;
Revive me according to Your word.
26 I have told of my ways, and You have answered me;
Teach me Your statutes.
27 Make me understand the way of Your precepts,
So I will meditate on Your wonders.
28 My soul weeps because of grief;
Strengthen me according to Your word.
29 Remove the false way from me,
And graciously grant me Your law.
30 I have chosen the faithful way;
I have placed Your ordinances before me.
31 I cling to Your testimonies;
O Lord, do not put me to shame!
32 I shall run the way of Your commandments,
For You will enlarge my heart.” 

The psalmist understood that the only help, the life vest for His soul as it is drowning in the sea of melancholy, is the transcendent Word of God.

Here are some other helpful sermons from the once bonafide and renown doctor who later became a preacher because he wanted to operate on the inner man: Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  He produced many sermons from his series on Spiritual Depression that I encourage you to listen if you or someone you know is experiencing depression.  The Doctor deals with this problem boldly, truthfully, and lovingly.  I have listened to more than four of his messages from this series and they have been phenomenal expositions.  May it help you as it has been of great value and help to me.

Spiritual Depression

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