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  1. Duane Arnold says:

    “The Spirit’s renewal of the Church is linked with the Spirit’s witness to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The way of truth along which the Paraclete leads is always the way that is Christ himself, as he takes the things of Christ and declares them to the disciples….At the present time there are attempts to understand Christian spirituality as an experience somewhat apart from the historical events of the gospel…in the apostolic age the events and the experience are interwoven….The Christians are justified by faith, they have peace with God, they rejoice in hope, and they rejoice even in suffering, because the love of God was poured into their hearts by the Spirit. But what is this love of God? It is the love made known in the death of Christ for the sake of the ungodly, and in that death the love of God himself was commended to men. The event of the death of Christ not only enables the Christian life, it provides its continuing motive and interpretation. ”

    +Michael Ramsey

  2. Michael says:

    “The faith to which we are called will always be folly and scandal to the world, it cannot be in the usual sense of the word popular; it is a supernatural faith and it cannot adapt itself to every passing fashion of human thought.

    But it will be a faith alert to distinguish what is shaken, and is meant to go, and what is not shaken and is meant to remain. When men today tell us that they revere Jesus but find God or theism without meaning it sometimes is that the image of God as we Christians in our practice present it is the image of a God of religious concerns but not of compassion for all human life, and it is just not recognisable as the God and Father of Jesus Christ.

    So too when men reject theism it sometimes means that they cannot accept in this shaken world any easy, facile assumption that the universe has a plan, a centre, a purpose. It is for us Christians to be sure that our faith is no facile assumption but a costly conviction that in Christ crucified and risen, in suffering and victorious love and in no other way, there is a plan, a centre, a purpose. In dying to live, in losing life so as to find it – there is the place where divine sovereignty is found and theism has meaning and vindication. ”

    +Michael Ramsey

  3. Michael says:

    There’s enough in those two quotes to fill this blog for a hundred years…

  4. em ... again says:

    i don’t know about a hundred years, but for certain those two posts of Michael and Duane are enough to fill my mind (and heart) for the weekend ahead…
    i’m copying them to meditate on when offline…
    thank you, both of you men of God (and Ramsey)

  5. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Those 2 quotes above are the reason that I keep bringing up – if the sermon is not Jesus for us and what he has done for us – it is not a Christian sermon.

    And it is not satisfactory to have the sermon be about Jesus – you know, like once upon a time there was this guy Jesus born in Bethlehem etc.

  6. dusty says:

    Great quotes guys, thanks

  7. Duane Arnold says:

    Bless you –
    +Michael Ramsey
    Michael Newnham

  8. Surfer51 says:

    MLD #5 is now Thomas Jefferson who deleted passages of Scripture to create his own satisfying Bible?

    The story of the virgin birth in Bethlehem just hit the editors floor…

    Better tell God it is not satisfactory for sermons.

    2 Timothy 3:16 New King James Version (NKJV)

    All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,

    But…I do understand. No one wants to be bored by a sermon. Jesus desperately loves us all and has done everything in His power to open the door to eternal life to anyone who has ears to hear and eyes to see.

    Blessed be the name of the Lord for He has saved our souls!

  9. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    You miss understand. There can be many biblical sermons – but what makes them particularly Christian.
    If you just tell the story of Jesus’ birth without preaching what Jesus did ‘for us’ then you have just performed a sermon on an historical event.
    So when someone preaches about marriage, raising kids, handling your money or any other endeavor in life, you can use Bible passages and you have perhaps given a Biblical message – but what makes it Christian?

    So I stand by my statement ” if the sermon is not Jesus for us and what he has done for us – it is not a Christian sermon.”

  10. em ... again says:

    ahhh, MLD… you have forgotten one thing (IMHO) every bit of the Bible builds a frame of reference… every bit of Scripture learned will, at some point, bring one an aha moment of cohesion and clarity – with one caveat: one must come as a learner with an honorable intent… and we do need teachers, good teachers

    and, IMV – truth be told, one does live a better life with Biblical standards as our guide whether we are Christians or not…

  11. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Em, that’s what Bible studies are for. Not sermons.
    Having a sermon base on David numbering his troops leaves you with only one thing —- how to be a biblical census taker.
    Giving people more information as building blocks to saving knowledge is not the same as a Christian sermon.
    A sermon must be Christ centered and cross focused.

  12. John 20:29 says:

    then MLD, if you are correct, we should do away with sermons and cut to the chase – either evangelize or teach the Bible – because all Scripture does eventually lead to Christ… even the Babylonian captivity points to the need for a Savior…

    not saying i’m right, but i think you might just have put the light on a flaw ….

  13. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Em, or we cut to the chase and point out the huge difference between evangelical preaching and Lutheran preaching. The Lutheran sermon is not an evangelistic event. Preaching Christ for you is to the Christian.

  14. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    very nice hymn for a Lutheran youth gathering a few years ago.

  15. JoelG says:

    Where’s the fog machine MLD? 😉

    Absolutely beautiful. A little taste of heaven.

  16. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    What I think is the proper way to serve communion.
    Served by the called servants of God. Note that the host is raised to eye level so the recipient sees it as the pastor says” this is the body of Jesus Christ, broken FOR YOU.
    Then as they move along note that the blood of Christ is poured down their throats as the pastor will say, “the blood of Christ shed for the forgiveness of YOUR sins.

    And i love the hymn as a reminder that we are partaking of this time of communion with ALL the saints around the world (the church militant) and with those in heaven (the church triumphant.)

  17. Jean says:

    I very much liked the Ramsey quotations. I would like to make a gentle criticism of this part:

    “It is for us Christians to be sure that our faith is no facile assumption but a costly conviction that in Christ crucified and risen, in suffering and victorious love and in no other way, there is a plan, a centre, a purpose. In dying to live, in losing life so as to find it – there is the place where divine sovereignty is found and theism has meaning and vindication.”

    Our “faith” and “conviction” is not something that Christians can gin up or manufacture for themselves. Telling us to feel and believe this way is IMO counter-productive. Preach to me the Law and console me with the Gospel and the Holy Spirit will convict me and give me faith (a rock and not sand).

    Otherwise, good stuff.

  18. Duane Arnold says:

    #17 Jean

    +Ramsey does not indicate the source of our faith and/or conviction… only the desired result. Of course, he is an Anglican, not a Lutheran… for which I am sure you forgive him…

  19. em ... again says:

    there is something about “dying to self” that isn’t easy to grasp… it involves love and it involves focus leading to a form of familiarity with something bigger and better (to put it mildly) than what the natural man carries… the easiest comparison might be to the surprising change that becoming a parent makes in one (not always instantaneous, BTW – sometimes it takes a little while for that infant to become more than life to us)…

    the more that one learns of and focuses on Christ, the dying to self is a natural result…
    not to be confused with the fanaticism that produces suicide bombers – a Christian’s dying to self, while it may entail sacrifice, is a constructive and soul strengthening approach to living ones life under the umbrella of Divine norms and standards
    a branch grafted into the vine only produces as it draws on the supply from the vine – but books have been written on the subject, yet we still scratch our heads and say, “it’s hard, I don’t get it…” so why am i pontificating? … again … 🙂

  20. Jean says:

    Maybe, instead of my #17 I instead should have written:

    “How do I love Michael Ramsey, let me count the ways…”

    I meant no offense and apologize for causing any.

  21. Michael says:

    “Our “faith” and “conviction” is not something that Christians can gin up or manufacture for themselves. Telling us to feel and believe this way is IMO counter-productive.”

    As I am immersed in Ramsey at the moment, I do not believe he was saying anything about ginning up faith.

    For Ramsey, a faith that didn’t reflect a living out of the Incarnation and the Cross was hardly a faith at all…a charge which in my mind indicts a great many today and a thesis I agree with more than I have words for.

  22. Michael says:

    I would continue this,but carpal tunnel has cut me down to one hand…my absence is not from anger.

  23. Jean says:

    Tomorrow is Good Shepherd Sunday, the 2nd Sunday in Easter. For anyone who doesn’t go to church or follow the historic Christian calendar, I commend to you the gospel reading of John 10:1-21.

    The Lord be with you!

  24. Duane Arnold says:

    #20 Jean

    No offense taken or meant… just have to defend our very small corner!

  25. Duane Arnold says:

    #23 Jean

    Should we prepare a prayer for the day asking God for more shepherds and fewer hirelings? I think some seminaries must have a course – “Hireling 101”

  26. Jean says:

    Thanks Duane. Honestly, I didn’t know Ramsey was Anglican until you mentioned it at #18.

    The only notable Ramsey I was previously aware of is Dave Ramsey. I assume they’re not related. 🙂

  27. Jean says:


    You have no idea. Stay tuned. I have a few things to say on the topic of your #25.

  28. Jean says:

    You have no idea as in “you have no idea how right you are.”

  29. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean… Oh, I have an idea… I’ve taught in some of them!

    +Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury… one of the great theologians to occupy that office. More than that, a friend and a mentor… I miss him very much.

  30. em ... again says:

    in agreement with Michael’s observation @ 21… i didn’t read what Jean observed either in the quote from Ramsey
    and joining all in praying for that carpal tunnel (would a new keyboard help?)

  31. em ... again says:

    cuz it’s open blog here… i found the following item interesting as it sounds like this fellow gets his material from the Phoenix Preacher’s blog site 🙂

    Director for Christian Worldview and Apologetics at North Greenville University, Dr McFarland gives 10 reasons why millenials are backing away from God and Christianity.
    (paraphrased his points a bit)
    1- eclectic – no brand loyalty
    2- breakdown of the family
    3- militant secularism media and schools “all faith merely expressions of subjective preference
    4- adults lack spiritual authenticity
    5- church is seen as irrelevant with no guilt for abandoning same
    6- “pervasive” cultural abandonment of ethical norms
    7- to be intellectual is to be a skeptic
    8- atheism is a popular fad ala Christopher Hitchesn
    9- Tolerance is the new god
    10- natural tendency of the young to have an inflated sense of their own intelligence
    “Finally, is it really any wonder that kids raised in the churches of 21st century America aren’t often stirred to lifelong commitment? Most churches are so occupied with “marketing” themselves to prospective attendees that they wouldn’t dream of risking their “brand” by speaking tough-as-nails truth.”

    while i think i agree with all of the above, i have to ask why is this new news?

  32. Michael says:

    I would disagree with most of his bullet points…and it’s not just the oft damned millennials that are leaving the church.

    I spoke with two of the best pastors I know yesterday and they’re hanging on for dear life.

    The church is basically a business these days…and the ethics are so low we have no moral authority to dare speak to the rest of the world.

    There are exceptions, of course…but the overall drift is awful.

  33. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    This is why I gave up talking to people based on my having moral authority. I talk to them on the moral authority of Jesus.
    I can’t clean up that good before talking to anyone.

  34. Jean says:

    My younger son visited the local mega church this morning. The sermon ostensibly was on the Great Commission. What he actually heard was a 35 minute membership drive, including attendance and baptism statistics for the previous year.

  35. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    The reason the church is having difficulty is that the culture prizes the loud preaching of the anti Christian message while almost banning christian discourse. But we will survive.

  36. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Jean, as long as they used a Bible verse that makes it a Christian message.

  37. Michael says:

    I don’t see it that way…we haven’t given them much reason to listen to us…but we will survive.

  38. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Well not if we allow churches to preach non Christian messages like Jean pointed out.

  39. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I don’t think the problem is that people are not coming into the church – there are plenty of people coming in. The issue is that the back door is wider than the front door. The church – the believers are tired of all the drivel coming from the American pulpit.
    It’s not bait and switch — it’s just all bait.

    On the front end, in all my years I have never heard an unchurched person say “I want to believe Jesus Christ is Lord, in fact I think I do, but this pastor 2,000 miles away in Cincinnati dropped his drawers with a prostitute so I can’t believe it.

  40. Michael says:

    The problem is when we hear the pastor who can’t keep his pants on preaching against the sexual sins of the culture…the backdoor beckons…

  41. Xenia says:

    Except there has always been adulterous clergy. The only difference is now we get to hear all about it, even the affairs of churches clear across the country.

    Anybody who claims to be a Christian who abandons church because of the doings of some far away church in some denomination that isn’t even theirs…. I say they are looking for a reason to quit church. They are in disobedience to the Lord and they are using a sinful pastor 2000 miles away as their excuse.

    As Duane said here a few days ago, Church is hard.

  42. Xenia says:

    On the other hand, if one’s own pastor is known to be in serious sin and nothing is done about it and he’s still the pastor, I would leave that church ASAP. The very next Sunday I would be at another church.

  43. Xenia says:

    50+ years ago a close relative got into a squabble with our pastor, over a triviality. This person decided they’d “Never set foot in a church again” and they were true to their word. What has their life been like? I have seen zero fruit of the Spirit. This person claims they are a Christian and I never contradict people who say this but I will say that willfully disobeying the Lord has been extremely deleterious to their life in Christ, if they even have one. I said at the time, as a mouthy 12 year old, that this person was just itching to find a reason to quit church and this poor hapless pastor gave them a reason.

  44. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    My point is that over the next 10 yrs no a single pastor showed moral failure, the rate of church population would not increase at all.
    What are we selling — moral goodness? Look at me how good I am. If you accept Jesus you too can be good.

  45. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I talk to my kid’s friends all the time. They never mention anything standing in their way to becoming a Christian other than they don’t need it or don’t want it.

  46. Xenia says:

    A few if my kids are unbelievers or teetering on the brink of unbelief and it has nothing to do with pastoral scandals across the country because they have been absent from the Christian scene for so long they don’t even know about them. These “big names” are total strangers to them. They do not read Christian blogs.

    They are unbelievers because they no longer see themselves as sinners in need of a Savior.

    A few things they give as excuses:

    1. They think there should be female clergy
    2. They are offended that sex outside of marriage is considered sinful
    3. They think you have to believe in YEC/ 6 literal days creationsim to be a Christian

    Not, these are not the real reasons they are not Christians. The real reason is they don’t want God. But these are the excuses they give.

  47. Xenia says:


  48. CostcoCal says:


    I’d like to bounce this off of you….

    If I teach/train my kids in the ways of God’s Word, to the best I can; from your perspective, what are the chances that they will or will not teeter to the brink of unbelief?

    Reading your post causes me to think about these things.

    Thank you!

  49. Xenia says:

    I am out in the non-Christian world all the time and believe me, there aren’t a whole lot of believers in the Environmentalist movement. Most of them abound in good works and are very careful in what they say or do. This is a perfect example of “salvation by works” because I don’t know what most of these people believe about an afterlife but it seems that most of them think they are going to some heavenly locale upon death because it should be obvious to everyone, even God if He or She exists, how wonderful they have been and how many sea otters they have rescued. They are not staying away from church because of pastoral scandals because they don’t know about them, for the most part, except the RCC abuse scandals. They got a lot of mileage out of those but it’s old news. They aren’t staying away because of milky non-Gospel sermons, either.

    They stay away because they hate the God of Christianity.

  50. Xenia says:

    Costco Cal,

    I don’t know. My husband and I did our level best to raise up our 5 children to be followers of Christ and we only have 2 that I am sure of, one maybe, one not too likely, and a loud agnostic. Most of their childhood was at Calvary Chapel and I do not blame CC at all because it was a good place for kids. We home schooled, etc. Some might say (the loud agnostic does say this) that we were extreme parents and they just had to rebel but I don’t think two of them were ever Christians to begin with and once out of the house, just became the unbelievers they already were. (The agnostic graduated from Calvary Chapel Bible College and no, I don’t blame CCBC.) So you can see my husband and I made a valiant attempt to raise the five as Christians.

    But ultimately, it’s an individual’s choice whether or not they want to follow God. You can’t force anyone to be a Christian, all you can do is give them a warm home environment, a good church experience, and plenty of instruction in the Faith. After that, it’s between them and God. Now all we can do for them is to pray for them and to live as non-hypocritical Christian lives before them as possible.

  51. Xenia says:

    The fact is, most people don’t believe they are really sinners. They may make a few oopsies, but most people today have a very high opinion of themselves and their goodness so the whole “Christ died for your sins” doesn’t make sense to them.

    Deep down I suspect they all know how rotten they are but the current culture discourages that kind of introspection.

  52. Jean says:

    I recall Dread several months ago saying something to the effect that people don’t want to hear about sin in church these days. Or, they are not particularly upset or worried about their sin.

    Another thing, and I think this is a progression from the Enlightenment, is that people do not take Satan and demons seriously, if they even believe in them.

  53. CostcoCal says:

    Thanks for the response, Xenia.

    “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” That is the stake I want to drive deeply into the ground. I also know that Jesus Christ had an apostate among the 12.

    I apply the blood of Christ and say, “Lord, have mercy.”

    Btw, what year did your child go to CCBC? I went with more than a few who are no longer Christians.

  54. Jean says:

    I wrote a proverb for myself, that I think anyone could find useful:

    “If you preach the Law to the applause of your listeners, you have a problem.”

    The Holy Spirit uses the Law to humble man and make him a sinner, so that he will turn to Christ for salvation. If your preacher just preaches about all the sin and evil that is being perpetrated outside the walls of your church by all the bad people out there…, then your preacher is just feeding the hypocrisy of his congregation, which does no one any good.

  55. Xenia says:

    Costco, I don’t know the exact years. She is almost 40 now and attended in her late teens maybe early 20’s? She went to the old campus in the mountains for the first year and Murrieta for the first year the college was at that location. <—- That should pin it down.

    She's in law school now.

  56. CostcoCal says:

    Exact same years I did. Last year on Twin Peaks and first year in Murrieta.



  57. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Is Costco Cal Xenia’s daughter? Tune in next week for the exciting conclusion! 😉

  58. Xenia says:

    Whoa, I never thought about that!

    (((( Costco! }}}}

    Please remember me on Mother’s Day.


  59. CostcoCal says:

    I surely hope they don’t remember me.

    P.K’s are the worst!

  60. em ... again says:

    good observations to think on here – as usual…
    “but we will survive” – amen
    Xenia’s observation on her children and her not blaming their childhood environment for their belief or lack of same = LIKE … i suspect she was a very good mom
    being raised in a church won’t make one a Christian – God doesn’t have grandchildren – even a trip thru a parted sea, clothes that wouldn’t wear out and manna falling from heaven fresh every morning won’t sustain faith in a Faithful God
    “oopsies?” … sadly, isn’t that how most of us see our sins (if we do see them) these days?

    the popular culture does condemn faith as either weakness or psychological displacement, i think … but, you know what else i think? 🙂
    i think that way deep down inside their soul’s psyche, every human has a reaction to the Faith of a child of God – a Christian – because that Faith is a living and powerful substance – we shouldn’t hide it as much as we do – even a foolish and clumsy Christian (like me) has an impact …. thinking, thinking, thinking

  61. Xenia says:

    Costco, I will ask her.

    By the way, she is a wonderful daughter. Apart from her unbelief, we couldn’t ask for a better daughter.

  62. Xenia says:

    Look at all these posts I have written this afternoon. Good grief.

    You can tell when I have a project that needs attention when you see me posting non-stop. I am avoiding getting down to work.

  63. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I don’t remember which thread it was on, but which NFL team are we Christians supposed to boycott for taking the girl hitter?

  64. Michael says:


  65. Costco Cal says:

    I wanna boycott ESPN baseball for having a woman announcer….And I have 4 daughters!

  66. Dan from Georgia says:

    And this list of boycotts we Christians initiate that are successful is impressive.


  67. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Darn, I was hoping it was the Rams so I didn’t have to root for them – they are painful to root for.

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