Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hark the Herald Angels - Part 6

Today as we continue our meditation on “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” we look at the stanza that contains these lines:

Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.

In this section of the song, the author brings together several passages of scripture. The reference to Prince of Peace of course comes from Isaiah 9:6 which is a prophesy about Christ. In that verse we read, “And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” As we mentioned in one of the previous posts, he is referred to as Prince of Peace because he is the one who has broken down the barrier between ourselves and God and made peace. In have Colossians 1:20 tells us that he made peace through the blood of His cross.

The next phrase is not so familiar to most of us. In the book of Malachi, the prophet is foretelling an awful day of judgment that is to come and then he writes this in 4:2. “But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings.” All of us have sinned against God and have fallen short of his glory. In order to avoid the judgment that will one day come to us, we need the One who provides “healing.” It is only through Jesus Christ that we can safe in that day. He is the one whose righteousness was perfect and only if that righteousness is given to us will we be able to stand before a holy God. That is exactly what Jesus Christ offers to provide for any and all who would trust Him.

Finally, the author refers to life and light being brought to all. John writes in John 1:4, 9, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.” Paul picks up that theme in his letter to Timothy where he writes in 2 Timothy 1:9, 10, “who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

If Christ had not come, we not know about the darkness in which we were immersed. But Christ’s coming brought the good news that there is light and there is life and there is hope. He grants all of it to us freely in Christ simply by trusting in and believing in Him.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hark the Herald Angels - Part 5

Consider today these lines from “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing”.

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.

The man Jesus Christ was also God. That is the straightforward assertion of the Christian faith. Jesus Himself said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” (John 14:9). He also said, “I and My Father are one.” (John 10:30) After the resurrection of Christ, He appeared to a group of disciples. Thomas was missing from that group and when he was informed by the others that they had seen Jesus alive, he said that he wouldn’t believe it unless he could actually stick his fingers into the wounds in Jesus’ body. At a later time Jesus showed up again and told Thomas to feel his wounds. Thomas response was, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:27)

While here on this earth, Jesus looked like any other man, but He was God “veiled in flesh.” Paul writing to the Colossian Christians says, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” (Colossians 1:10ff)

Later he writes “In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9) And then the author of Hebrews writes, “In these last days [God has] spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Hebrews 1:3)

These are the descriptions of the one about whom those angels sang. This is the one whom the shepherds and wise men came to see. He is the incarnate Deity.

Paul told his hearers that God “has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained.” We have one life to live and after that comes the judgment, the evaluation of our lives. As you think of the Christ of Christmas, remember that He is the one who is going to evaluate you. Have you committed yourself to this one who left heaven to become a man so that you could be rescued?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hark the Herald Angels - Part 4

Continuing now our mediation on the song, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”. Consider with me the lines: Christ the everlasting Lord; Late in time, behold Him come, Offspring of a virgin’s womb.

In John 1 we read, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Later in the same chapter, John writes, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The Bible teaches that the second person of the trinity, which John calls “the Word”, became flesh. The communication of God somehow was made human. How was that accomplished? Centuries before Christ came, the prophet Isaiah wrote, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” The name Immanuel means “God with us.” So what the prophet foretold was that a virgin would conceive a child and this child would be God living among us.

The virgin conception of Jesus Christ may be one of the most ridiculed propositions of the Christian faith. How can such an event occur? Where do the male chromosomes come from? No species of animal other than some of the most basic forms can produce offspring without a male. These are all valid questions, but they stem from the desire to find a natural explanation for something that is not natural. When Mary was told what would happen, she herself asked how this could be. Christians maintain the truth of the virgin conception of Christ because that is what the Bible teaches. The God set out for us in the Bible is capable of anything. This God created everything there is with the word of His mouth and so it is nothing for him to create a child within a virgin’s womb.

The conception and birth of Jesus, the Son of God, took place at the right time. Galatians 4:4 tells us that “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His son, born of a woman, born under the law.” God has a perfect plan and even though He is outside of time, He is able to work in time to accomplish His purposes. In this case His purpose was to send His only son so that He would ultimately die to pay the sin debt of anyone who would trust Him in faith.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hark the Herald Angels - Part 3

We’re continuing our series on Hark, the Herald Angels Sing. Today we look at the line, “God and sinners reconciled.”
To reconcile means to reestablish a close relationship or to settle or resolve a conflict. What is the conflict between God and us that needs to be settled? What is the close relationship that needs to be restored? The Bible tells us that God created us in his image, but that we, rather than enjoying the fellowship and communion that we had at the beginning, rebelled against him and incurred his wrath against us. The Bible tells us that God is a just judge and that he is angry with the wicked every day. (Psalm 7:11) It further tells us that his wrath abides on everyone who has not believed on the Son of God.
Why these strong terms? People today tend to believe that God is pretty benevolent and benign. He just loves everyone and hopes they try to do better so that the world will be a better place.
You see, God is a just judge. He cannot just overlook crimes against his reign. What would you think of a judge who was so kind that he let murderers or thieves go free because he was hoping they would do better and that they would eventually mend their ways? Wouldn’t we consider such a judge to be impeachable for having allowed crimes to go unpunished? In the same way God cannot just overlook sin. What we call minor infractions, God calls rebellion against his just reign.
Because of this sin and rebellion, a chasm has appeared between God and man. If he is angry with the wicked every day, then something has to be done to reconcile us to each other.
This is what Jesus Christ has done. He willingly came and bore the just wrath of God against sinners. Having satisfied the law in this way, God is able to credit us with Christ’s righteousness and thus be reconciled to him. This doesn’t happen automatically, however. A person must acknowledge his sinfulness and rebellion and accept God’s generous offer of reconciliation through Christ. All of this must be believed.
Look at what God says in 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Hark the Herald Angels - Part 2

We’re continuing our look at Hark, the Harold Angels Sing as our hymn of the month. The line we’re looking at today is “Peace on earth and mercy mild.”
The phrase “Peace on earth” is quoted a lot at Christmas time. Sometimes it is quoted with great cynicism because we look around and see very little peace. In fact the song, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day by Henry Longfellow contains the stanza:

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

What the angels said to the shepherds as quoted in Luke 2:14 is “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” The announcement is being made that a savior has been born. We need a savior because of the fact that we have sinned against God and there is nothing in ourselves that we can do to rectify the situation. But God suddenly sends the announcement to some poor shepherds on a hillside in a tiny country. The announcement comes by means of a multitude of angels giving mankind the good news that someone has been born who is a savior. In other words he is the one who will rescue us from our primary problem – a death penalty hanging over our heads because of sin and rebellion against God.
This announcement of peace is not a declaration that there will be peace among the people of the earth immediately. It is an announcement that there is a peace available with God.
Isaiah the prophet wrote in his book (9:6) that this child who would come would be called the Prince of Peace. The Bible tells us in Romans 5:1 that having been justified we have peace with God. This peace is available, but it is only available to those who have been justified by faith and it is available through our Lord Jesus Christ, the one who was born on that first Christmas.
What does it mean to be justified? It means to be declared righteous by God. Our sin is a serious problem to God. It’s not just some light thing that God can dismiss with the wave of his hand. Our sin requires punishment and Jesus came to take that punishment himself so that we could be declared righteous. God has announced that this “swap” is available as a gift, but it must be accepted, received and believed by faith.
Paul writes in Romans 10 that his people, the Jews, “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
He goes on in verse 9, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Paul told the Philippian Christians that he wanted to be found in Christ, “not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.”
So on that first Christmas, an announcement was made that a savior was born, a child who would provide peace between God and all those on the earth who receive him as savior and trust God to give them Christ’s righteousness as a gift of his grace.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Memorization Monday - Resources - The Holy Spirit

1 Corinthians 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Our Lord Prays for His Own

Here is an excerpt from "Our Lord Prays for His Own" by Marcus Rainsford that I thought was encouraging. He is talking about the prayer of Jesus recorded in John 17.

Our Lord, as we have said before, is in this prayer committing His people to His Father's care. As the High Priest appeared before God on the day of atonement with the names of the tribes on his shoulders and on his heart, so Christ presents Himself before His Father. It is the voice of "the only begotten Son of God" that speaks. It is the voice of the Lamb of God even now on His way to the altar of sacrifice, and He thus prays, "Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name".

They are wonderful words; they breathe nothing but love, and grace, and truth, and tenderness. He brings no charge against them, He finds no fault with them, He hints at no deficiency; and yet we know they had many faults, many deficiencies; the disciples were not angels, but men. Hitherto they had not been great saints, but on the contrary very feeble ones, not persons of high attainments, but "slow of heart to believe," and ready to halt; not very eminent for any grace, and at times full of failure and of corruption; but the Lord takes no notice of this in all His prayer. Our Lord Jesus Christ is a great Savior, and a divine Mediator; He is full of grace and truth and love; He is exactly suited to the need of His people, whether as regards their sins, their corruptions, their miseries, or their temptations' and the whole of His dealings with them have been, are, an ever will be one grand display of abundant mercy; this prayer, expressing His thoughts, revealing His purposes, uttering His will and His anxieties concerning them, are sufficient evidence of this.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Hark the Herald Angels - Part 1

A few days ago I introduced Hark, the Harold Angels Sing as our hymn of the month. I chose this hymn for December because I wanted to connect what the lyrics say to what Scripture says and hopefully in the process edify my own soul as well as to encourage anyone who might read this.

So let’s begin by thinking about the line “Glory to the Newborn King”. As we know from reading Matthew 2:2, the wise men from the east came to Jerusalem inquiring as to where the king of the Jews was to be born. They knew from the signs they had seen in the heavens that such a king was to be born about this time. The officials immediately went to Scripture and found a prophecy in Micah 5:2 which reads, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the one to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” That announcement had been made roughly 700 years prior to the birth of Christ, yet these men were able to go to this prophecy to accurately tell the wise men where they should look.

During approximately the same time period as Micah, God used Isaiah the prophet to write, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice.” This prophecy can be found in Isaiah 9:6-7. It too was written about 700 years before the events actually took place.

Then just prior to Mary’s pregnancy, the angel Gabriel had come to Mary and among other things he told her about her son, he said, “the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.”

When Jesus’ birth came, the angels announced this special event by glorifying God in the highest. After all these years God had fulfilled the promises He had made and sent His son, who among other things would be a king whose kingdom, once established, would never end. Let’s not get lost in all of the hubbub of Christmas and miss the opportunity to bring God glory for the newborn king.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Hymn of the Week - A Debtor to Mercy Alone

A debtor to mercy alone, of covenant mercy I sing;
Nor fear, with Thy righteousness on, my person and off’ring to bring.
The terrors of law and of God with me can have nothing to do;
My Savior’s obedience and blood hide all my transgressions from view.

The work which His goodness began, the arm of His strength will complete;
His promise is Yea and Amen, and never was forfeited yet.
Things future, nor things that are now, nor all things below or above,
Can make Him His purpose forgo, or sever my soul from His love.

My name from the palms of His hands eternity will not erase;
Impressed on His heart it remains, in marks of indelible grace.
Yes, I to the end shall endure, as sure as the earnest is giv’n;
More happy, but not more secure, the glorified spirits in Heav’n.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Presumptuous Sins

In one of David’s prayers, recorded in Psalm 19:13, he says this, “Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression.”

A presumptuous sin is one that is done willfully. To presume means to assume something is true in advance without any evidence to support that assumption. People presume upon God in many ways. Probably the biggest way in which we do this is to presume upon the forgiveness and grace that God promises. People sometimes knowingly and willfully sin against God counting on the fact that God has promised to forgive all sins.

According to Scripture it is true that God has promised to forgive all sins of those who come to Christ in faith and trust Him as their savior. If this is so, why is it wrong to presume upon that forgiveness?

In David’s prayer, he suggests that such sins can gain dominion over a person. The sin becomes the master. Paul, in Romans 6:15 Paul asks the question, “Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?” His answer in the next verse is revealing. He says, “Don’t you know that whoever you yield to in obedience, you are that one’s slave.” If we yield to those presumptuous sins, we are in effect making those sins our master.

Another reason David gives for his request is so that he will be blameless and innocent of great transgression. Blameless doesn’t mean perfect. It means that there is nothing there that will stick when people try to attach blame to him. Presumptuous sins are a great transgression against God and when they become known they give people something to blame us for. In so doing the testimony of Christ is damaged and the Gospel is diminished in peoples’ eyes.

Committing presumptuous sins on a regular basis should cause one to question his own salvation. Paul, at the beginning of Romans 6 writes, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” A few verses later he says, “Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.” Certainly we know that Christians sin. John wrote in his first letter, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”

I’ve been challenged by David’s prayer in that he was bold enough to ask God to keep him from presumptuous sins. He knew he was weak and needed the strength of God in order to stand. Are we any stronger than David whom God called a man after his own heart? As Christian men who desire to be faithful, let’s acknowledge our weaknesses and seek God’s help in avoiding this kind of sin.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Hymn of the Month -- Hark! the Herald Angels Sing

This song is one of my favorite Christmas songs because it contains so much teaching that is faithful to Scripture. One of the reasons for music is given in Colossians 3:16 "...teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs..."

Over the course of the next several weeks, I hope to have us take a look at the lyrics of this song, written by Charles Wesley, to see what we can learn about ourselves and our God.

Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”


Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ, by highest Heav’n adored;
Christ the everlasting Lord;
Late in time, behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.


Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.


Come, Desire of nations, come,
Fix in us Thy humble home;
Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring Seed,
Bruise in us the serpent’s head.
Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.


Thursday, December 02, 2010

Do We Really Want to Know God's Will?

I was reading in Jeremiah 42 the other day and came upon an incident with God’s people Israel that I think has application to us. The country was on the verge of an attack by the Babylonians and the people came to Jeremiah and said, “Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the Lord your God for us, for all this remnant—because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us— 3 that the Lord your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do.” Jeremiah told them that he would check with God to see what they should do next. The people affirmed their commitment saying that whether it is good or bad they would certainly do what the Lord commanded.

Jeremiah came back from the Lord with the message that whatever else they did, they should not flee to Egypt to seek refuge there. They were to stay put and not be afraid of the king of Babylon. If they stayed and trusted God with the results, they would be eventually built back up; but if they fled to Egypt, God would pursue them there and they would face the destruction that they feared.

When Jeremiah told them these instructions from the Lord, their response was, “You are lying to us. We will not do what you say, but we will flee to Egypt.”

In these days we don’t go to a prophet to find out what the Lord has said. We go to the Bible. The Bible has everything God wants us to know to enable us to live faithful, obedient lives. And yet aren’t we sometimes like those people? We may go to the Word of God to find out what we should do, or we may counsel with a pastor to get sound biblical advice and then when we don’t like the answer, we do our own thing.

Let’s be faithful and honest in our efforts to work our way through this life. Let’s seek God’s guidance with a sincere heart actually desiring to follow the will of God once we know it. And then, when we come to grips with what God is actually commanding us to do, let’s follow through and do it in faithful obedience.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Blog Update

It’s the first of December and it is snowing here in Michigan. We have had such a nice autumn that I thought maybe we would skip winter this year, but it looks like that’s not going to happen.

I’ve just entered a new phase of life called retirement. After having worked for the same school district for 41 years it’s quite a change. My goal is to use this time to involve myself in the lives of others to help further their growth in the Christian life. Paul told the Philippians in 1:25 that since he was staying here on earth his ministry would involve working for their progress and joy in the faith. Paul also wrote to Timothy to tell him that what we’ve learned as Christian men should be passed on to other faithful men who would be able to teach others also. I’ve made these my goals as well.

So that’s the purpose of this blog and associated ministries. My goal is to share what is on my mind as it relates to what the Bible teaches about living life for the glory of God. If you share that goal, be sure to join in the conversation. This blog has been here for a long time, but because of the busyness of life, I haven’t been able to communicate as much as I had wanted to. Now with more time available and I hope to have more active communication.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A Prayer of Confession on Election Day

A Prayer of Confession on Election Day*

O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. We have not listened to those who preached your word faithfully to our President, congressmen and all of us here in the United States. To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the people of America, to the inhabitants of our cities and to all our people both here and abroad. To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our President, our senators and representatives and to all of us because we have sinned against you.

To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us in his Word. All the United States has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. And the curse and oath that are written in your Law are against us because we have sinned against him. In spite of the fact that we are vulnerable to the judgment of God, yet we have not entreated the favor of the Lord our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth. Therefore the Lord has kept ready calamity which we rightly deserve, for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works that he has done, and we have not obeyed his voice.

O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from us. Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon us. O My God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our plight. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord pay attention and act. Do not delay, for your own sake.

*In the midst of a national crisis, the Old Testament prophet, Daniel, spoke a prayer of confession on behalf of his people. Daniel was not guilty of the sins which he confessed, yet he confessed them on behalf of the people of his nation. It provides a model for us as we consider how we could pray for our nation. I have taken Daniel’s prayer as found in the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible and paraphrased it for us as modern Americans to show how we can take a biblical prayer and use it as a model for our own praying. (Daniel’s prayer is found in Daniel 9:4-19)

Monday, November 01, 2010

Memorization Monday - Challenge - Go

2 Corinthians 5:19, 20

That is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hymn of the Week - Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners

Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Savior, makes me whole.


Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.

Jesus! what a Strength in weakness!
Let me hide myself in Him.
Tempted, tried, and sometimes failing,
He, my Strength, my victory wins.


Jesus! what a Help in sorrow!
While the billows over me roll,
Even when my heart is breaking,
He, my Comfort, helps my soul.


Jesus! what a Guide and Keeper!
While the tempest still is high,
Storms about me, night overtakes me,
He, my Pilot, hears my cry.


Jesus! I do now adore Him
More than all in Him I find.
He hath granted me forgiveness,
I am His, and He is mine.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hymn of the Week -- O Master Let Me Walk With Thee

Yesterday as I was out working in the yard, I heard the chimes of the Church of Christ playing their selection of hymns as they do every day. I wondered how many people know the words of the hymns that are playing because typically they are old ones that people don't sing much anymore. Yesterday, the one that stuck in my head was this one: O Master Let Me Walk With Thee.

O Master, let me walk with Thee,
In lowly paths of service free;
Tell me Thy secret; help me bear
The strain of toil, the fret of care.

Help me the slow of heart to move
By some clear, winning word of love;
Teach me the wayward feet to stay,
And guide them in the homeward way.

O Master, let me walk with Thee,
Before the taunting Pharisee;
Help me to bear the sting of spite,
The hate of men who hide Thy light.

The sore distrust of souls sincere
Who cannot read Thy judgments clear,
The dullness of the multitude,
Who dimly guess that Thou art good.

Teach me Thy patience; still with Thee
In closer, dearer, company,
In work that keeps faith sweet and strong,
In trust that triumphs over wrong.

In hope that sends a shining ray
Far down the future’s broadening way,
In peace that only Thou canst give,
With Thee, O Master, let me live.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hymn of the Week -- The Solid Rock

  1. My hope is built on nothing less
    Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
    I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
    But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
    • Refrain:
      On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
      All other ground is sinking sand,
      All other ground is sinking sand.
  2. When darkness veils His lovely face,
    I rest on His unchanging grace;
    In every high and stormy gale,
    My anchor holds within the veil.
  3. His oath, His covenant, His blood
    Support me in the whelming flood;
    When all around my soul gives way,
    He then is all my hope and stay.
  4. When He shall come with trumpet sound,
    Oh, may I then in Him be found;
    Dressed in His righteousness alone,
    Faultless to stand before the throne.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

How To Study the Bible

My wife and I were out driving the other day and tuned in the radio to Grace To You, a program featuring the Bible teaching of Dr. John MacArthur. He was teaching on the topic of how to study the Bible. I have been a Bible student a long time, but found the teaching very helpful and encouraging.

For those of you who would like to study the Bible, but are having a hard time getting started or are doubtful about your ability to study it, I would strongly encourage you to download this series and listen to it. It might be just what you need to spark an interest in digging in for yourself.

You can find the link page from Grace To You here.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Memorization Monday - Challenge - Go Mark 16:15

The purpose of Memorization Monday is to encourage people to memorize verses from the Bible. The categories are taken from a scripture memorization program published years ago by The Navigators.

Mark 16:15 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Hymn of the Week - Praise My Soul the King of Heaven

Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven;
To His feet Thy tribute bring!
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Who like me His praise should sing?
Praise Him! praise Him!
Praise the everlasting King!

Praise Him for His grace and favour,
To our fathers in distress!
Praise Him still the same for ever,
Slow to chide, and swift to bless!
Praise Him! praise Him!
Glorious in His faithfulness!

Father-like, He tends and spares us;
Well our feeble frame He knows.
In His hands He gently bears us,
Rescues us from all our foes,
Praise Him! praise Him!
Widely as His mercy flows!

Frail as summer's flower we flourish:
Blows the wind, and it is gone.
But while mortals rise and perish,
God endures unchanging on.
Praise Him, Praise Him,
Praise the high eternal One!

Angels, help us to adore Him;
Ye behold Him face to face:
Sun and moon, bow down before Him;
Dwellers all in time and space,
Praise Him! praise Him!
Praise with us the God of grace!

by Henry Francis Lyte

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Teens Becoming Fake Christians

An article on CNN caught my attention the other day. It was titled, "More Teens Becoming 'Fake' Christians". If you are a Christian parent of a teen or if you are one of my teen readers, it would be worth your while to read through this article as well as the links I've posted below.

What especially caught my attention as I perused the article was the phrase, 'moralistic therapeutic deism." Why would an expression like this catch my attention? Because it is a phrase that I have heard Dr. Albert Mohler use many times on his radio broadcast in describing a disturbing trend among American teens and twenties.

What is happening is that true Christianity is being replaced with something that sounds "christian" but is indeed far from it. And now I see that the trend is significant enough that even a liberal news outlet is picking up on the story.

Has your teen or have you yourself slipped into this belief system? Moralistic, therapeutic deism is basically evidenced by these beliefs:

1. “A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.”
2. “God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.”
3. “The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about ones self.”
4. “God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when He is needed to resolve a problem.”
5. “Good people go to heaven when they die.”

I have to say, as one who works with teens all the time, that this is in fact what most teens believe. But this is not the Christianity taught in the Bible. The Bible teaches that:

1. A God exists who created the world and is sovereign over it. As the king he expects all people to submit to His rule in their lives.
2. God does want people to be good and nice, but He also wants them to be holy, just and righteous in all of their thoughts and deeds. God says, "Be holy because I am holy." (1 Peter 1:16) He also says that if a person keeps the whole law and yet violates any part of it, he is guilty of the whole thing." (James 2:10)
3. The central goal of life is to glorify God -- that means to make him look good in every way possible. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
4. God is involved in every aspect of life and he wants His creature to acknowledge that by being thankful to Him for all that he has provided and to worship Him supremely at all times.
5. Only perfect people go to heaven. And since no one is perfect, all are under the condemnation of God. However, God came to this earth as a man in the person of Jesus Christ and took upon himself the condemnation of God at the cross. As a result, anyone who believes God about this and trusts Christ's substitution on his behalf is granted the righteousness that Christ had as a replacement for his own personal guilt. (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:5)

The religion of moralistic, therapeutic deism is a far cry from the Biblical view that I have just described.

For further analysis of this belief system, let me refer you to an article by Dr. Mohler which you can find here:

The article on CNN that caught my attention can be found here:

Author: More teens becoming 'fake' Christians -

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What Can Save our Souls?

I've been away from blogging for a while because for some reason life has been incredibly busy. I had hoped to be able to post at least three times a week, but haven't come anywhere close. I will be retiring from my job in a few months and so I hope to make it more of a priority to share things that I have discovered in life that can help us be more faithful as Christian men.

Each month I try to focus on a verse that becomes a theme for my thinking and praying. For the month of October I've chosen James 1:21 which says, "Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls."

A few verses later in his book, James tells us that one of the key ingredients of true religion is to remain unspotted from the world. Now be honest. Isn't that a difficult thing? I think we men tend to get stained with filthiness and wickedness. It's tough to keep our thoughts pure. It's tempting to be looking at things we shouldn't be looking at and allowing our minds to be engaged in all sorts of wicked things even when we may look pure and upright on the outside.

This verse is both a challenge and encouragement to me because it tells us lay aside filthiness and wickedness. Paul says in the book of Romans that sin shall not have dominion over us. Therefore we have the ability with the power of the Holy Spirit to lay these things aside. Furthermore, we need to receive the meekness the Word of God implanted in our souls. We need to read, memorize and meditate on it because out of His Word flows eternal life. Think about that last line in the verse. It is able to save our souls! Many people are looking for "the answer" to life's meaning. It's not that complicated really. The Word of God, implanted in our souls has the power to save us.

So let's lay aside all of the junk we've been thinking about or involving ourselves in and take in the only real solution that is available to us -- God's Word.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Memorization Monday - Challenge - Go

John 20:21 Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you. As the Father has sent me, I also send you."

Monday, August 30, 2010

Memorization Monday - War a good Warfare

1 Timothy 6:11, 12 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Memorization Monday - War a good Warfare

2 Timothy 2:3, 4 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Hymn of the week -- How Vast the Benefits Divine

By Augustus M. Toplady

How vast the benefits divine which we in Christ possess!
We are redeemed from guilt and shame and called to holiness.
But not for works which we have done, or shall hereafter do,
Hath God decreed on sinful men salvation to bestow.

The glory, Lord, from first to last, is due to Thee alone;
Aught to ourselves we dare not take, or rob Thee of Thy crown.
Our glorious Surety undertook to satisfy for man,
And grace was given us in Him before the world began.

This is Thy will, that in Thy love we ever should abide;
That earth and hell should not prevail to turn Thy Word aside.
Not one of all the chosen race but shall to Heav’n attain,
Partake on earth the purposed grace and then with Jesus reign.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

All Things for Christ -- Especially the Church

Off and on over the last several months I have shared excerpts from a book I'm reading called "Our Lord Prays for His Own". This book is a devotional study of John 17. Again this morning I was challenged and encouraged by something the author wrote.

First a little background -- In John 17:6 Jesus prays concerning his own, "Yours they were, and you gave them to me; and they have kept your word." The discussion in today's excerpt relates to the fact that we were given to Christ. There is a lot to mull over in this short section so I encourage you to take some time and think about what is being said here.

Colossians 1:16 tells us that all things were created for Christ. So the author writes ...

Now, all things were created for Christ; the greatest thing created for Him is His Church. The worlds were created for Him; there would have been no creation, but that Jehovah purposed Christ should have a kingdom. The heavens were created for Him; there would be no heaven, or heaven of heavens, but that Jehovah purposed that His SOn should have a kingdom; but "the church" is more than the kingdom, more to Him than earth and heaven. Angels were created for Christ; no angel would ever have winged his way through infinite space, but that it was Jehovah's purpose that His Son should have attendants: but the Bride is more than the attendants. Whatever be the thrones our blessed Christ is to occupy; whatever be the dominions He is to possess; whatever be the principalities over which He is to rule -- He will give us "to sit with him on his throne, even as he also overcame, and is set down with His Father on his throne."

Christ was set up as Lord of the universe; but His people are "the members of his body" -- His own flesh and blood, and "No man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church" (Eph. 5:29) All other creations are from without; the Church, in some mysterious way, is from within.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Hymn of the Week -- Whatever My God Ordains is Right

by Samuel Rodigast, 1675

Whate’er my God ordains is right:
His holy will abideth;
I will be still whate’er He doth;
And follow where He guideth;
He is my God; though dark my road,
He holds me that I shall not fall:
Wherefore to Him I leave it all.

Whate’er my God ordains is right:
He never will deceive me;
He leads me by the proper path:
I know He will not leave me.
I take, content, what He hath sent;
His hand can turn my griefs away,
And patiently I wait His day.

Whate’er my God ordains is right:
His loving thought attends me;
No poison can be in the cup
That my Physician sends me.
My God is true; each morn anew
I’ll trust His grace unending,
My life to Him commending.

Whate’er my God ordains is right:
He is my Friend and Father;
He suffers naught to do me harm,
Though many storms may gather,
Now I may know both joy and woe,
Some day I shall see clearly
That He hath loved me dearly.

Whate’er my God ordains is right:
Though now this cup, in drinking,
May bitter seem to my faint heart,
I take it, all unshrinking.
My God is true; each morn anew
Sweet comfort yet shall fill my heart,
And pain and sorrow shall depart.

Whate’er my God ordains is right:
Here shall my stand be taken;
Though sorrow, need, or death be mine,
Yet I am not forsaken.
My Father’s care is round me there;
He holds me that I shall not fall:
And so to Him I leave it all.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Oil Leak -- A Little Perspective

I'm a math person and the other day I heard someone compare the amount of oil spilled into the gulf to the comparable amount of oil it would be in a bathtub. I was skeptical of the numbers and since I love to work with numbers, I thought I would do my own calculation.
Now nothing about these findings should be construed to minimize the financial, emotional and environmental impact of this spill on the people in the gulf or the nation as a whole. Eleven lives were lost, thousands of jobs were lost, billions of dollars of economic damage has been inflicted and the environmental impact is huge. But nevertheless, there needs to be some perspective on the amount of oil which has leaked into gulf.
So here goes the math part. According to CNN on 7/28/10, the total amount of oil leaked was 220 million gallons. According to the website, the volume of the gulf of Mexico is 643 quadrillion gallons. That's 643 with 15 zeros after it.
Before I go on, we need a little math lesson for those who forgot their high school math. In order to keep from using such long numbers, I'm going to use notation that just tells us how far to move the decimal point one way or another. For example, instead of writing 220,000,000 for the number of gallons of oil, I'll use 2.2E8. That means, to see the actual number you would move the decimal point 8 places to the right and fill in zeros along the way. If the number after the E is negative, like this 5.1E-2, that means move the decimal to the left. In my example the number would actually be .051 because I had to move the decimal 2 places to the left.
So here goes the math. If you want to see the bottom line, go down to the very bottom. Otherwise follow along with me on my math and maybe you'll find I made a mistake along the way somewhere.

Amount of oil spilled =2.2E8 gallons
Water in gulf = 6.43E17 gallons
Water in my bathtub when filled to the brim = 22 in. x 15 in. x 50 in = 67 gallons

Fraction of oil in the gulf= 2.2E8 / 6.43E17 = 3.4E-10
Use that fraction to figure gallons of equivalent oil in the bathtub = 3.4E-10 x 67 gal = 2.3E-8 gal
Change that to quarts by multiplying by 4 because 4 quarts in a gallon = 9.1E-8 quarts
Change that to pints by multiplying by 2 = 1.8E-7
Change that to teaspoons by multiplying by 96 (there are 96 tsp in a pint) = 1.7E-5 tsp
Change that to drops by multiplying by 120 (there are about 120 drops in a tsp) = 2.1E-3 drops

That last number turned into a number you would recognize is .0021 drops of oil. That is about 2 thousandths of a drop! That means you take a drop of oil, divide it up into a 1000 little droplets and use 2 of those in your bathtub. That is how much oil proportionately has spilled into the Gulf of Mexico.

No wonder CNN is reporting that they can't find the oil.

Remember what I said at the outset. This in no way minimizes the impact that this spill has had on the lives and economies of people. But let's also remember how big the earth is and let's remember how big our God is that even though we have created a huge problem here, He has created a world that is capable of handling much of the abuse that we in our ignorance and sinfulness heap on it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Jesus My Glory -- A Puritan Prayer

I came across this Puritan prayer this morning and thought it was worth sharing.

O Lord God,
Thou has commanded me to believe in Jesus; and I would flee to no other refuge, wash in no other fountain, build on no other foundation, receive from no other fullness, rest in no other relief.

His water and blood were not severed in their flow at the cross, may they never be separated in my creed and experiences;

May I be equally convinced of the guilt and pollution of sin, feel my need of a prince and saviour, implore of him repentance as well as forgiveness, love holiness, and be pure in heart, have the mind of Jesus, and tread in his steps.

Let me not be at my own disposal, but rejoice that I am under the care of one who is too wise to err, too kind to injure, too tender to crush.

May I scandalize none by my temper and conduct, but recommend and endear Christ to all around, bestow good on every one as circumstances permit, and decline no opportunity of usefulness.

Grant that I may value my substance, not as the medium of pride and luxury, but as the means of my support and stewardship.

Help me to guide my affections with discretion, to owe no many anything, to be able to give to him that needeth, to feel it my duty and pleasure to be merciful and forgiving, to show to the world the likeness of Jesus.

From the Valley of Vision, a Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, page 24

Monday, July 26, 2010

Memorization Monday - War a good Warfare

Ephesians 6:10, 11
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hymn of the Week -- Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above

Sing praise to God Who reigns above, the God of all creation,
The God of power, the God of love, the God of our salvation.
With healing balm my soul is filled and every faithless murmur stilled:
To God all praise and glory.

What God’s almighty power hath made His gracious mercy keepeth,
By morning glow or evening shade His watchful eye ne’er sleepeth;
Within the kingdom of His might, Lo! all is just and all is right:
To God all praise and glory.

The Lord is never far away, but through all grief distressing,
An ever present help and stay, our peace and joy and blessing.
As with a mother’s tender hand, God gently leads the chosen band:
To God all praise and glory.

Thus, all my toilsome way along, I sing aloud Thy praises,
That earth may hear the grateful song my voice unwearied raises.
Be joyful in the Lord, my heart, both soul and body bear your part:
To God all praise and glory.

Let all who name Christ’s holy Name give God all praise and glory;
Let all who own His power proclaim aloud the wondrous story!
Cast each false idol from its throne, for Christ is Lord, and Christ alone:
To God all praise and glory.

Friday, July 23, 2010

What is the Gospel? -- Part 4

We are working through a discussion of the question “What is the Gospel?” Earlier postings can be found here. We’ve been discussing the fact that for the gospel to be accepted as the good news that it is, we need to understand the depth of the problem that the gospel is meant to solve. If we don’t think we have a problem, then we won’t be very interested in hearing the solution and it won’t seem like good news to us.

I posted several articles relating to the depth of our sin problem. And then, because it’s hard to wade through so much negative news at once, I summarized in part 3 how God has provided an external righteousness for us to replace our unrighteousness.

Because of the fact that there is a tendency in our culture to look at ourselves as pretty good, it is necessary to continue the review of God’s assessment. It’s not a pretty picture so read at your own risk, keeping in mind the good news that I began to unfold for us last time.

Genesis 6:5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Psalm 58:3 The wicked are estranged from the womb; They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.

Isaiah 64:6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.

Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?

Jeremiah 30:12 “For thus says the Lord: ‘Your affliction is incurable, Your wound is severe.

Matthew 15:18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.

Ephesians 2:1-3 you …were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

This represents a portion of those passages from the Bible that tell us of our predicament. This is why we need the grace of God and His gift of righteousness. We cannot produce it on our own and if we persist in offering God our own efforts as evidence on Judgment day, we will find ourselves being condemned because our own goodness can never measure up.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What is the Gospel? -- Part 3

Several weeks ago I started a series on the topic of “What is the Gospel?” You can access previous articles here. One of the difficulties in trying to explain why the gospel is such good news is that it’s important to understand the depth of the problem we have so that we will see that the Bible presents us with the only good news that will provide the solution we need. The difficulty in explaining the depth of the problem is that it is very depressing and it’s difficult wading through the bad news in order to get to the good news. So before we continue with God’s description of our predicament, maybe we should take a sneak peak at the good news God wants us to know.

Because God’s standards are so high and there is no way we can live up to them, God decided to provide us with the righteousness we need. This is what Paul refers to in Philippians 3:9 where he says that he wants to be “found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.”

This is also what Paul is teaching us about in Romans 3:20ff. “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ.”

God’s plan involves replacing our sinfulness with the righteousness of Christ. Our own goodness is not worth hanging on to. If we cling to our own righteousness, it will fall short of God’s expectations and we will end up being lost. But if we run to the Judge of the earth who has offered us His pardon, we will be given God’s righteousness as a gift, and that alone will meet God’s expectations on judgment day.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Memorization Monday -- Endure Hardness

Hebrews 12:3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Our Lord Prays for His Own

The book my wife and I are reading for our morning devotional is called, "Our Lord Prays for His Own" by Marcus Rainsford. It is a study of the Lord's prayer for His people in John 17. This morning's reading was based on John 17:6 "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word."

Here is what Rainsford writes:
How it must have amazed His disciples to hear such words! What a world of grace must have been opened out to their understanding! The Lord here reveals to them, and to us, the very secrets of His Father's heart. He opens to us all the purposes of the everlasting covenant, and points out the subjects and objects which it embraces. "Men" -- not angels, nor archangels -- but men, and sinners. "The men which you gave me"; the men--Your specially chosen and beloved ones among the sons and daughters of men. From whence were they taken? "Out of the world." It was not that they were better than others: they were "of the world"; they were "in the world"; they "had followed the course of this world"; they had been like the world, carried captive at his will by "the prince of this world"; blinded as to their understanding by the world and its glittering nothingness; guilty, "children of wrath even as others," condemned, enemies of God, no love for Him, no desire towards Him, no knowledge of Him; yet loved with an intensity that only God can be conscious of and given to the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved in Him with an everlasting salvation. "Thine they were, and thou gavest them to me." Seven times in this prayer Christ reminds His Father that He had given His people to Him.
Evidently He regarded this gift as the greatest proof of His Father's love to Him; even as the Holy Ghost teaches the believer to regard the gift of Christ as the greatest proof of our heavenly Father's love to us.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Everlasting Love

Last night at our men's Bible study at church, the teacher said that sometimes we struggle trying to do enough to make God love us more. He pointed out that if we are His children, God loves us as much as He loves Christ. He cannot love us more. And furthermore there is nothing we can do that will cause Him to love us less. Wow!

That made me think of a couple of verses.
In John 17:23 Jesus prayed, "I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me." (Italics added)

Jeremiah 31:3 "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you."

Monday, June 21, 2010

Memorization Monday - Challenge - Endure Hardness

1 Peter 4:12, 13 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Hymn of the Week -- Jehovah Reigns

Jehovah Reigns, Let Earth Be Glad

Jehovah reigns, let earth be glad,
And all the isles their joy make known;
With clouds and darkness He is clad,
On truth and justice rests His throne.

Consuming fire destroys His foes,
Around the world His lightnings blaze;
The trembling earth His presence knows,
The mountains melt before His gaze.

The heav’ns His righteousness proclaim,
Through earth His glory shines abroad;
From idol worship turn with shame
And bow before the living God.

Thy Church rejoices to behold
Thy judgments in the earth, O Lord;
Thy glory to the world unfold,
Supreme o’er all be Thou adored.

All ye that truly love the Lord,
Hate sin, for He is just and pure;
To saints His help He will accord
And keep them in His love secure.

For good men light and joy are sown
To bless them in the harvest time;
Ye saints, your joy in God make known
And ever praise His Name sublime.

Friday, June 18, 2010

What is the Gospel? -- Part 2

If the Bible is claiming to have the good news that we need for our salvation, what situation are we in that requires good news? Last time I mentioned that the core issue is sin, but not in the trivial sense that most people think. As I said last time, most people either dismiss the idea of sin altogether or trivialize it as though the sin “problem” is not that serious.

So with the underlying assumption that the Bible is true and actually explains God’s view of things, let’s see what it says.

In the very first book of the Bible, God explains how man was created. He gave him freedom and responsibility. As part of their responsibility, He gave them one commandment – not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As you know, Adam disobeyed that command and God pronounced a curse on Adam and Eve and their offspring. Death was introduced into what otherwise had been a living environment. The ground was cursed, animals were cursed and mankind was cursed. You can find this incident recorded in Genesis chapters 1-3. Paul writes in Romans 8:22 that all of creation is groaning under this curse.

Some of you are thinking, “Certainly he doesn’t believe that this story of Adam and Eve is true, does he?”

I think if we really want to understand the human condition, the condition of our environment, the condition of international relations and all of the other situations we face as individuals and as nations, we need to listen to God’s explanation. Yes, I believe that this story is true. It’s the only explanation that I can see that helps make any sense of what we see and feel and know.

We all know something is wrong. Even people who believe that humans are basically good realize that something is wrong. Our cities are in decay, family relationships are fracturing. People are addicted to many different habits that inflict physical and emotional pain on themselves and others. Governments are corrupt. Nature is violent and harmful in some of its outbursts. Only the Bible gives us a reasonable explanation as to why all of this is so.

So Adam’s disobedience resulted in God’s curse being on us. Here’s what Paul writes in Romans 1:18-22

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools,”

There is ungodliness and unrighteousness about us. Ungodliness means we are not much like God in the way we think and behave. Unrighteousness means we don’t act and think in righteous, or right ways. Because of that, God’s wrath is on us. Why is He angry with us? These verses tell us that we as human beings have suppressed the truth. We have pushed it down so that it we don’t have to look at it. He has told us that God has revealed His nature to each of us but our response has been that we don’t glorify Him or give Him His due for who He is and we have not been thankful to Him for what He has provided to us His creatures. I think you know this is so. Just think about what people say after something good has happened to them. Often they will speak of luck and sometimes will express thankfulness, but rarely will some thank God for His provision for their need. I had a man tell me today that He was incredibly lucky He found a job. Why are we so reluctant to give credit to God? When the apostle Paul was telling the people of Athens about the true God he said, “He gives to all life, breath, and all things.”

We live in a culture that is so sensitive to diversity and tolerance that we have a hard time thinking in the categories that the Bible uses. These are not religious statements that Paul is making. These are truth claims. In other words Paul is saying that there is a God and He is the one who gave life to us. He is the one who gives us our breaths each and every day and He is the one who gives us everything else as well. Yet we are not thankful to Him. This is at the core of our sin and the reason for God’s anger against us.

Why do we need good news? Because the wrath of God is on us. See John 3:36.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What is the Gospel? -- Part 1

As I mentioned last time, good news is only perceived as good news when it comes in answer to a situation that is discouraging or desperate. If we don’t recognize a problem or difficult situation, then good news is hard to accept or even pay attention to. It may still be good news, but it will pretty much be ignored.

God says that our main problem is sin. Right away some of you are turned off by that for one of two reasons. One response is something like, “It is so outmoded or archaic to even talk about sin. Nobody thinks about sin anymore except fundamentalist Christians.” A second response that often surfaces is this: “Yea, I know we sin. I mean, like, nobody’s perfect. But it’s not a big deal since my sins aren’t all that many or serious. I’m certainly not a murder or anything.”

Here’s where the ride starts getting a little rough. What I’m going to do now is to give us God’s assessment of our sin problem. Even that kind of statement is going to be problematic for some of you. How could we know what God’s assessment is and which God am I talking about?

The Bible presents us with the God that it claims is the true and living God. He is the only God there is and it is He that made everything for His own pleasure and glory. According to the Bible, there are not multiple Gods. Granted there are many ideas and religions each pushing their ideas about God, but the Bible asserts that there is one God and He, and He alone is the only one we are accountable to.

I’m going on the assumption that the Bible is telling us the truth and that its explanation of our situation and the remedy are the reality that we face. What I hope to present here is what the Bible teaches. Each one of us can choose to believe it or not. But the Bible has been accepted by millions of people as the word of God and I think everyone ought to at least listen to its arguments if for no other reason than to be knowledgeable about it. That way, if you are going to disagree or propose a contrary point of view, you at least have its claims accurately in mind. The best way to follow this discussion is to get out a Bible and look up the references for your self. That way you will be able to see whether or not the Bible says what I’m claiming it says.

So stay with me and we’ll work through this over the next several days and weeks.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Memorization Monday - Challenge - Endure Suffering

Philippians 1:29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Hymn of the Week - Great God of Wonders

Great God of Wonders by Samuel Davies

Great God of wonders! All Thy ways
Are matchless, Godlike and divine;
But the fair glories of Thy grace
More Godlike and unrivaled shine,
More Godlike and unrivaled shine.

Crimes of such horror to forgive,
Such guilty, daring worms to spare;
This is Thy grand prerogative,
And none shall in the honor share,
And none shall in the honor share

Angels and men, resign your claim
To pity, mercy, love and grace:
These glories crown Jehovah’s Name
With an incomparable glaze
With an incomparable glaze.

In wonder lost, with trembling joy,
We take the pardon of our God:
Pardon for crimes of deepest dye,
A pardon bought with Jesus’ blood,
A pardon bought with Jesus’ blood.

O may this strange, this matchless grace,
This Godlike miracle of love,
Fill the whole earth with grateful praise,
And all th’angelic choirs above,
And all th’angelic choirs above.

Who is a pardoning God like Thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?
Or who has grace so rich and free?

Friday, June 11, 2010

What is the Gospel? -- Intro

All through the New Testament there is reference to the Gospel. The core meaning of the word is “good news”. But it seems to me that in our day, what is proclaimed as the Gospel doesn’t seem to be particularly good news, even to Christians. And the problem is not the Gospel! Most people who claim one version of the Christian faith or another don’t seem to be particularly excited about what is billed in the Bible as good news. Most non-Christians don’t seem to think there is any problem that the good news would solve.

Good news is only received as good news when there is actual remedy for a real problem or struggle, and then only when a person realizes that there is a problem. If you go to the doctor for an annual checkup and, after checking you over thoroughly, he says that you are in good physical shape, you may be happy about that, but it probably is not a life-changing event. On the other hand, suppose you had some pretty severe headaches and a friend of yours said that his brother had the same type of headache and died six months later of a brain tumor. This scenario would probably set you on a course to find out what’s going on. If the doctor tells you that your headaches are from too much caffeine and if you stop drinking so much coffee, you’ll be fine. Your relief and joy in this situation will be much greater because your problem had a solution.

What the Bible gives us is life-changing good news. Paul tells us that the Gospel is God’s power for salvation. And what we all know we really want and need is salvation. So my plan for this series is to explain what the Bible says our problem or need is. It is not a pretty picture. But I think we really know that. And then we’ll look at God’s solution, which is really, really good news.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Your Brain on Computers

For a long time I have been concerned about the effect of over stimulation from electronic devices. There seems to be an increase in distraction and there is even some evidence of reduced productivity due to changes in the brain. A book I have mentioned before is Distracted by Maggie Jackson. Here's the link to a recent article in New York Times documenting the same thing.

As Christian men who want to be faithful, we need to make sure that we and our families use technology wisely. It is imperative not to allow these tools to take over our lives so that we are distracted from the really important communication that needs to take place in our homes.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Memorization Monday - Challenge - Be Strong in Temptation

1 Peter 1:6, 7 (NKJV)
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Hymn of the Week -- Lord, with glowing heart

This hymn is by Francis Scott Key, the same person that wrote the National Anthem of the U.S.

The words are somewhat archaic for modern readers, but I strongly encourage the effort it takes to think through what this song is saying.

Lord, with glowing heart I’d praise Thee,
For the bliss Thy love bestows,
For the pardoning grace that saves me,
And the peace that from it flows:
Help, O God, my weak endeavor;
This dull soul to rapture raise:
Thou must light the flame, or never
Can my love be warmed to praise.

Praise, my soul, the God that sought thee,
Wretched wanderer, far astray;
Found thee lost, and kindly brought thee
From the paths of death away;
Praise, with love’s devoutest feeling,
Him Who saw thy guilt-born fear,
And the light of hope revealing,
Bade the blood-stained cross appear.

Praise thy Savior God that drew thee
To that cross, new life to give,
Held a blood sealed pardon to thee,
Bade thee look to Him and live.
Praise the grace whose threats alarmed thee,
Roused thee from thy fatal ease;
Praise the grace whose promise warmed thee,
Praise the grace that whispered peace.

Lord, this bosom’s ardent feeling
Vainly would my lips express.
Low before Thy footstool kneeling,
Deign Thy suppliant’s prayer to bless:
Let Thy grace, my soul’s chief treasure,
Love’s pure flame within me raise;
And, since words can never measure,
Let my life show forth Thy praise.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

T4G-The Book's Back Cover

Those of us who had the privilege of attending this year’s Together For the Gospel conference in Louisville were given 20 books that we are encouraged to read over the coming months. I thought I would let you know the titles and authors of those books along with the quote from the back cover. These postings are in no particular order.

The Book: The Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne

"What Col and Tony have described here is exactly what I've been trying to do in my own life and in our congregation for years. According to this book, Christians are to be disciple-making disciples and pastors are to be trainers. Superb! This is the best book I've read on the nature of church ministry." ~ Mark Dever

"This book contains the kind of counter-intuitive ideas that, once encountered and embraced, make you wonder why you did not always think this way." ~ Phillip D. Jensen

"I have some new conversation partners as I ask myself, under the authority of God and Scripture, questions about the structure and ministry of my congregation: "Why are we doing what we are doing? Is the gospel central? Has 'administry' trumped ministry?" And more. As I ask these things, I am so deeply helped and heartened and humbled and corrected by the fidelity and wisdom of Colin Marshall and Tony Payne's profound little book that I can't but commend it to you." ~ Ligon Duncan

"Gospel ministry is about God's glory and God's people! This excellent book takes us right to the heart of authentic Christian ministry. Any church will benefit hugely from studying and acting on it." ~ William Taylor

"The Trellis and the Vine comes from a ministry so deeply committed to the recovery of biblical truth and the cause of the gospel. Its wisdom is invaluable. My advice: Keep a good stack on hand at all times, and put this book to good use." ~ R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

What is the Gospel?

Recently I was able to take a couple of Sunday School hours to review The Gospel with my class. I think we as Christians need to do this frequently because we begin to trust in ourselves rather than in the God who saves us by His Grace. Off and on over the next couple of weeks I'm going to be summarizing the content of that material for my blog readers.

If you want a copy of the notes, you can find them here.

If you want to hear the audio for the two sessions, you will find them here for part one and here for part 2.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hymn of the Week -- For All the Saints

For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Apostles’ glorious company,
Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!