Thursday, July 28, 2011

Want a Great List of Questions to Test Your Faith?

Hope this is helpful to you. You can see this blog at

How Can I Know That I'm Not a Christian?

By Michael McKinley
6.24.2011 PRINT

In II Corinthians 13:5, the apostle Paul commands his readers: Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

OK, that seems straightforward enough. But what does it mean to examine yourself? What should you be looking for? How do you know whether or not you are "in the faith"? What is the "test" that we might fail? I wrote Am I Really a Christian? in order to try to help answer these questions.

Well, we should all hope that we pass "the test" (again, Paul's words, not mine!). And Scripture gives us a few things to look for that would indicate that in fact we are not "in the faith". A few examples:

1. You're not a Christian if you don't believe true doctrine: By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. (I John 4:2-3)

2. You're not a Christian if you enjoy sin: Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (I John 2:4-6)

3. You're not a Christian if you don't persevere: They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. (I John 2:19)

4. You're not a Christian if you don't love others: Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (I John 4:7-8)

5. You're not a Christian if you love your stuff more than you love Jesus: And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. (Luke 9:23-24)

Now, none of this is to say that our obedience somehow earns our salvation. But these are fruits of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit that the authors of Scripture clearly expected a Christian to be able to discern in their lives.

Next up, I hope to post some thoughts on how true believers can have assurance of faith. In the mean time, you can read the beginning of Am I Really a Chrisitan? here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

What We See At Church

I have said countless times and in countless ways, that God has never intended for us as believers to walk this life as Christians by ourselves. I thank the Lord for His Word that instructs us, that exhorts us, that reveals God to us. I also thank God for His Church! I thank the Lord that on Sundays and Wednesdays I see things about God’s grace that without my brothers and sisters, I would not notice. What I mean by this is similar to what C.S Lewis states in Four Loves when he speaks of a friend dying. To summarize it, he says that he fears because of the death of his friend there is a facet of God’s love he will not be able to fully see this side of Heaven. The point that this wonderful author is making, is that through God’s grace at work in the lives of different people around us, we see different facets of God’s grace and work that we may not realize.

I think about men and women in my life - some of them were converted out of horrible situations and others of them were saved at an early age and avoided much of the heart ache that sin brings. But both of these two extremes show me a different view of God’s grace. This same thing happens in my home, as I watch my wife and two boys. I have the joy of seeing grace at work in different ways - I have the honor of correcting my boys in some of the same sins that I commit. As I watch their response to correction with the Word and I speak with them, I am also speaking to myself. As I watch and listen to them talk through their thoughts, emotions or confess their sin, I see God’s grace and it exhorts me to rest on His grace all the more.

All of that to say, that when we walk in the doors of the church this Sunday and speak to our brothers and sisters, be on the look out for the various colors in the great spectrum of God’s grace at work in their life! Take a moment and share with them how God uses them to bless you and encourage you. Tell them about the evidence of grace that you see as God works in them and what it does for you. What a blessing it is for others to show us another view of the work of our great God!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Questions for a Godly Wife to Ask Her Husband

Well ladies, now it is your turn. The questions for the men were on the previous blog and now we have some for you. If you have never asked your spouse questions like this before, it can be uneasy and even scary. After all, you may read these and think: “I really don’t even want him/her to answer this!” But the best thing you can do when asking things like this, is simply let them answer and thank them for their honesty. The worse thing we can do is explain why we act a certain way, or “defend” our actions. Remember, you are asking and, usually because no one likes correction, your spouse is going to try avoiding the answer or not giving “the real answer,” but something easier. Just thank them and love them - our desire as Christian men and women should be to better glorify Christ. Our spouse is given to us as a gift, to help us better glorify God. Are you ready ladies?

- What is something I can do that makes you feel loved by me?

- What are some things I can say in front of our children that would make you feel respected and honored?

- How can I make your time when you come home from work more restful and relaxing?

- What are some things I say or do that make you feel like I am being disrespectful?

- What is your desired expectation for physical intimacy?

- How can I spiritually encourage you?

- How can I best care for you when you are discouraged?

- What is the best way to approach you if I feel our schedule is out of control?

- How can I support you in the discipleship of our children?

You can read the entire post at:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Great Questions You May Not Want to Ask, But Should!

In the past, I have shared some of the questions that I will ask our boys periodically during our family worship. Our boys have created some questions that they have asked us about themselves, which I may get them to compile for a future blog. I believe asking questions about what people closest to us see in our lives, and letting them reply freely without giving a great deal of feedback, is helpful. We can not and should not trust our own eyes to see blind spots and sin. A few weeks ago I sent our staff the link below, as just some questions to talk through with their wives. Because this particular blog is written for Pastors, I sifted through the questions and just wanted to suggest some for our men to ask their wives. On the next blog, I will have the top questions wives should ask their husbands. I hope you don’t just read these – but really take some time and ask these. Your marriage will be better for it!

-What can I do to make you feel loved and appreciated by me?

- What can I do to make you feel like I enjoy being with you more than anyone else?

- What are some things I can do to encourage you, spiritually?

- What can I do to help relieve the stress of life responsibilities?

- How can I best serve you in dealing with our children?

- What can I do to heighten your desire for physical intimacy?

- What can I do to make you feel our family is the priority over work?

- What can I do to help you grow in a love to serve our church?

- What kinds of moments when our family is together do you cherish the most?

The entire blog can be seen here:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Spare the Rod?

Below you will find a story that has made news recently – one that should bother any parent in general, but should especially be bothersome to a believer.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (CBS) -- A judge in Corpus Christi, Texas had some harsh words for a mother charged with spanking her own child before sentencing her to probation.

"You don't spank children today," said Judge Jose Longoria. "In the old days, maybe we got spanked, but there was a different quarrel. You don't spank children."

Rosalina Gonzales had pleaded guilty to a felony charge of injury to a child for what prosecutors had described as a "pretty simple, straightforward spanking case." They noted she didn't use a belt or leave any bruises, just some red marks.

As part of the plea deal, Gonzales will serve five years probation, during which time she'll have to take parenting classes, follow CPS guidelines, and make a $50 payment to the Children's Advocacy Center.

She was arrested back in December after the child's paternal grandmother noticed red marks on the child's rear end. The grandmother took the girl, who was two years-old at the time, to the hospital to be checked out.

Gonzales who doesn't have custody of the child or her other two children, is trying to get them back, but until CPS feels she is ready the kids are living with their paternal grandmother.

Okay, the government has done such an amazing job thus far from managing the national debt, to allowing the murder of millions of babies - and now they are attempting to regulate the raising of children? Our Minister to Families with Children and my wife have professionally worked with children who have suffered from the wicked sin of abuse and neglect. But, if you read the above story this was simply a spanking. That is all! Can I tell you that the Bible DOES NOT state that if I “spare the rod I spoil the child”. Prov. 13:24 tells me if I “spare the rod [I] hate [my] child.” I have heard countless parents say: “Well spankings do not work with little Johnny because they just don’t hurt him.” Well, spankings that don’t hurt, don’t work. Again, a little bit of discomfort on the bottom is the not the abuse that the world makes it out to be, and a spanking should NEVER be anywhere else or anything more! Also, spanking as a “last resort” with anger or frustration not only doesn’t work, it is sinful.

Prov. 19:18 tells me to spank while there is still hope. This shows that there is a time that spankings are not going to work, but there is a window that that is virtually the only correction a child understands. You can disagree, quote Dr. Phil, Oprah or any other expert; but the Word of God is extremely clear on this subject. Our children inherit a sin nature from us - they are cute, but they are fallen creatures and they have no hope unless they learn obedience and submission to authority. Our goal is to speak to the heart, to identify with them as sinners, to love them and pray with them, but we must discipline them. Thank the Lord we live in a country where spanking is still legal no matter what some judge says to a mom about the old days. Give me a break! Just some parting thoughts:

• We are shown throughout the Word that to not spank is to ignore the Word of God. To ignore the Word of God is sin.

• When I spank, I am to do it biblically with love, and not anger. When speaking to matters of the heart, I give my child an early illustration of God as our Father. Prov. 3:11

• Spanking should be done at the first point of disobedience. Not after I count to three or the kids break something. This may take years (it did with our youngest), over and over and one day a light came on and it was amazing how much the spankings lessened as they got older. But there were many days where all of us were exhausted emotionally.

• There comes a time that spanking is not appropriate. I know of parents who have spanked their 15 or 16 year old. Really? This usually would be done out of anger, frustration and an “I don’t know what else to do…” and I think in light of Prov. 19:18 there is a time when it is inappropriate.

• I have children under my care, but they are the Lord’s. I don’t get to do what I think is best in my life or in raising them when the Word of God is crystal clear.

Sorry to the activist performing as a Judge in Texas…I have a better Judge to whom I must answer!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Thanking God for His Great Work!!!

It has been such a blessing to watch God work in such an amazing way in our midst over the last several weeks. While it has been a busy summer, we have been so blessed to see not just activity, but service!

• Our Missions Team is setting up an outstanding Missions Conference in October

• We have a great number of people going on mission trips – which is incredible

• We had a fantastic number of volunteers for our VBS and a great turnout of kids – more than any we have had in the last several years! More importantly, we had a great number of those families report that they were unchurched - they are now prospects to reach with the Gospel!

• The large number of people we had on outreach last week was nothing short of outstanding!

This passion for missions and the lost is taking place everywhere from our children’s classes, where they have been studying great missionaries (many who suffered greatly for the sake of the gospel), to our Senior Adults who have started a Tuesday morning outreach ministry. Each Wednesday night our students are learning and praying for areas of the world where people are persecuted for their faith. We are even seeing missions in the form of adoptions taking place in our church - GLORY! All of this to say, these things naturally occur when the Gospel is gossiped! It happens when we become enthralled with the message of the glorious Gospel, not quick decision evangelism. Why? The goal is that name of Christ rightly being proclaimed rather than adding more “nickels and noses.”

May we live out the quote from Charles Spurgeon!

“Oh my brothers and sisters in Christ, if sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay, and not madly to destroy themselves. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.”

Thank our great Lord for the work He is doing in our midst!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Problem with Casey Anthony...

(I wrote this prior to the verdict of the Casey Anthony Trial)

I have watched only brief moments of the Casey Anthony trial but, just as many of you have done, I have listened to analysis of it by “experts.” Now, I am not going to spend time or space giving my opinion and view of why I believe this woman is guilty. I am hoping our judicial system works all of that out correctly. I do not pretend that I know what is going on in Ms. Anthony’s heart - I can not and should not attempt to do so. However, I do want to comment on what I see on the outside that is noticeably missing.

What is missing, from all outward appearances, is what is missing in much of our society - including in the lives of many professing believers. It is a word that is not stated very often, and when it is, it is stated with negative connotations. It is the word SHAME. I know all about the grief experts and their opinions, but as a parent, looking back at their life after their daughter goes missing and seeing one big party would exhibit some form of shame. If you believe she is innocent, then you can probably explain that if she exhibited shame visually the jury would draw the wrong conclusion and, I have no idea what she does or how she grieves in her jail cell. If you were to say that, you would be correct - but when we see her in the pictures having a party, there certainly doesn’t seem to be any shame. But in truth, shame is the last thing any of us want to feel. We don’t want to feel it when we say something, act a certain way or do anything wrong. We may expect this out of Ms. Anthony, but in truth you see little to no shame anywhere today for anything - including in the church.

I believe much of the problem when it comes to shame today, is we have redefined the word. In the wonderful book by Ed Welch When People Are Big And God Is Small, Welch says: “Shame was originally viewed as the result of a problem between God and ourselves. Now it is reduced to whatever prevents us from feeling good about ourselves.” If our actions are sinful, or words are filled with venom, you will seldom see us ask for prayer or help of any kind. But you let me “feel” unhappy, or feel mistreated, that is when we begin to ask for prayer, help and counsel. We do not deny God, we just distort God. We believe that His purpose should be to make us happy - He is here for us, not us for Him. So Jehovah is not our God, He is our genie. As long as life is good – meaning we live and do what we want to, what we “feel” like - we are okay. But if I get caught in sin, or if I get upset about something and I no longer “feel good,” then something is wrong between me and God.

See our problem is not that we hate sin, but that we love self. Our passion and expectation in the world and in the church, is that I want to feel “good about me” or uplifted when I worship, rather than an overwhelming understanding of God’s holiness and my wickedness. Don’t make me feel bad - don’t preach, teach, or talk to me in a way that confronts sin. Give me good news about ME. The problem with many today is the same problem as with Casey Anthony, they may not be as crazy, or as cold or calloused, but the bottom line is still same: I want to live and enjoy me. Anything that gets in the way of that is seen as a problem.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

An Excellent Wife Is Forged, Not Found

Below is an excellent blog found at by Jennifer Smidt. Last week, I put up a great word for all of us as men by Voddie Baucham... I hope this blesses our sweet ladies just as much.

An Excellent Wife Is Forged, Not Found
Jennifer Smidt » God Scripture Family Marriage Complementarian Gospel

I often believe my husband has not found an excellent wife. When he tells me I have been short with him lately, overreacting and snapping unnecessarily, I am discouraged at my lack of excellence. Impatience and disrespect have brought embarrassment to him on several occasions.

My task-oriented, performance-driven heart attempts to fix itself by making a list: An excellent wife cooks with organic food (not Velveeta), sews her own clothing (or at least irons her husbands shirts!), speaks only words dripping with grace (and not sarcasm) and reads her Bible for hours on end (okay, minutes?!).

The list brings more condemnation; concrete evidence that I cannot be an excellent wife on my own.

Forged not Found

While all of these things can be signs of excellence, they are definitely not requirements. Turning to Scripture for comfort and conviction, I am reminded: An excellent wife is not found but forged. No man goes out and finds a woman who is pure wife perfection and marries her. Neither of them truly know what that even looks like yet!

It is the character of God, and not our husbands, that can be fully and firmly trusted. Our core identity must be anchored in Christ alone.

A godly woman becomes an excellent wife as she understands she is made in the image of God, re-made in the image of Christ, and formed over a lifetime of repentance and redemption. Excellence is not measured by a to-do list; it is manifested in the life of a wife who knows Jesus intimately.

Bringing Shame

An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones. – Proverbs 12:4

When I humbly and honestly assess the times I bring my husband shame, I am sobered by its destruction. To bring rottenness to his bones means mine are already disintegrating with unbelief and bitterness. We bring shame as wives when we:

1. Focus on our husband’s sin

2. Think our way is better, prioritizing ourselves over him

3. Speak harshly to him or derogatively about him to anyone

4. Withhold blessing, prayer, sex, or encouragement of any sort in an effort to punish, manipulate, or “get the message across”

The wife who brings shame to her husband is the daughter who does not truly know and trust her heavenly Father.

If the wife’s identity is centered around her man, she will certainly deliver shame when he disappoints – as he will inevitably do. It is the character of God, and not our husbands, that can be fully and firmly trusted. Our core identity must be anchored in Christ alone.

Made Precious by Jesus

We are made precious by Jesus. This heart transformation is the basis for any preciousness that our husbands experience in us. It is not about what we do but what our precious Savior has done for us that graces us with the power to be excellent wives. We are helpless on our own.

Excellence is not measured by a to-do list; it is manifested in the life of a wife who knows Jesus intimately.

A godly wife understands that she is nothing outside of the saving grace of Jesus Christ and has no excellence apart from him. Christ’s grace and love are precious to her. Fueled by his riches, she will become a glorious crown to her husband as she helps, nurtures, and loves him from the depths of Christ’s righteousness in her.

It takes a 10-minute ceremony to become a wife. It takes a lifetime to become an excellent wife – one who understands that Christ’s shed blood on the cross is needed to offer excellence to our husbands.