I am so blessed to be able to sit under sound preaching of God’s word each Sunday. My pastor just began a new series through the book of Acts. As he was discussing verse 6 of chapter 1 he mentioned God’s timing. You know the verse. Before his ascension the disciples ask Jesus a question.
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6 ESV)
As my pastor pointed out, this question reveals that the disciples still misunderstood quite a few things. However, my attention was drawn to the disciples asking about something happening “at this time.” Jesus replies in verse 7.
He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” (Acts 1:7 ESV)
In his own eloquent way my pastor told us Jesus was telling the disciples to mind their own business. Continue reading
A common saying I hear today when someone has been going through an extended period of distress is, “They deserve some happiness.” The implication is, based on how bad things have been, it’s time for some easy living. The idea that we deserve some happiness is a gross misunderstanding of our true situation. No one deserves anything but God’s wrath and judgment. Anything we experience other than that is due to God’s mercy and grace, both the common mercy and grace he shows to all people and the special mercy and grace he shows to his elect. When it comes to believers that are enduring some type of suffering, many times the expectation is, when the particular difficult circumstances end, life will be better. After all, when Job’s suffering was complete God restored to Job twice as much as he had before (Job 48:10). This is not always the case, though. One of the churches mentioned in Revelation is an example of this.
So the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled 5 to 4 that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right; thus, making same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. We used to say much ink will be spilled but I suppose now it is more appropriate to say many bytes will be consumed over this. It is a sad day on the one hand and a day to rejoice on the other. I’m sad because marriage has been completely redefined. According to Scripture marriage can only be defined as the union of one man and one woman (Matthew 19:4-5). For the whole of human history, up until this generation, marriage has been defined the same way. So, it is folly for any government to legalize same-sex marriage since same-sex and marriage cannot coexist. By legalizing same-sex marriage the Supreme Court has redefined marriage, and, by extension, become the ultimate authority for the definition of marriage. When my wife and I were married, marriage was defined only as the union of one man and one woman. The definition did not include the union of one man and one man or the union of one woman and one woman. Including same-sex couples is a new definition of marriage not an expanded definition of marriage. The definition of my marriage originated with God. The new definition of marriage originates with the government.
Many churches have signs that display messages. Sometimes the message is the scripture passage and title for next Sunday’s sermon. Other times the message is announcing an event at the church. Many times, though, the message is meant to inspire or encourage the reader. Unfortunately these messages often cause me to sigh and shake my head.
When viewed in the light of Scripture, human arrogance is quite astounding. I mean to think that ignoring God, disagreeing with God, or trying to manipulate God is a rational thing to do simply displays the depth of our depravity. Continue reading
I imagine just about everyone has heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” This saying is common because often it is true. I have been to the Grand Canyon many times. I could describe it by saying the canyon is vast and colorful, and it is very deep, long, and wide. That is a valid description but, because the description is so subjective and vague, it is not helpful. How vast is vast? What colors make it colorful? How deep is very deep? A picture does a much better job of describing the Grand Canyon because a picture captures an image of exactly what is there. (Even a picture, though, does not compare to standing at the edge of the canyon and looking for yourself.) As useful as pictures are, God chose to give us his Word, not his photo album. We don’t need pictures to see how great God is since we see his creation, but we do need to hear from God to know who he really is. He must tell us about himself if we are to truly know him. What pleases God? What displeases God? What is his character? What is important to him?
Every year around Christmas I enjoy hearing Handel’s Messiah. Last Christmas our family had the privilege of hearing the Christmas portion of this glorious work at the Bruton Parish Church in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. The parish was established in 1674 and the current building was completed in 1715. The exterior is original and the interior was restored to its original look when Colonial Williamsburg began its restoration in the 1930’s. The church’s choir and orchestra did a masterful job, and it was wonderful to hear it in such a historic setting. As significant as was the setting and the experience, it was one phrase of the performance that for me was truly significant.
The Messiah consists of scripture compiled by Charles Jennens. George Frederick Handel took that text and composed the oratorio in 24 days. One of my favorite pieces in The Messiah is the fourth song, “And the Glory of the Lord.” I love the music, the harmonies, and the grandeur of the song, but that is not my main reason for my preference for this piece. The song is based on Isaiah 40:5.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. (Isaiah 40:5 KJV)
The last phrase is what I love, “for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” It emphasizes the power and certainty of God’s spoken word. Continue reading
With this post we are fully into the advent season. The day many of us celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is fast approaching. And yet, have you ever wondered why we celebrate Jesus’ birth on December 25th? Do we really know the exact day? Perhaps even in the darker corners of your mind you may be thinking, “If we don’t know, and if the Bible doesn’t say anything about the early church honoring this event, should we even be celebrating Christmas?”
Have you ever noticed how often precision is required? For example, phone numbers in the United States consist of 10 digits. To call or text a particular person you must have those 10 digits, and you must have exactly 10 digits. Eleven will not work. Nine will not work. Also, not only must you have the correct 10 digits, you must enter them in the correct order. If you have ever developed a computer application you know the necessity for precision. Software “bugs” are due to lack of precision. When you fly in an airplane you want the pilot to land precisely on the runway. Landing close to the runway or too far down the runway just won’t do. Remember Asiana Airlines flight 214 that crashed in San Francisco in July of 2013? The airplane came in too low and the wheels struck the seawall. The pilot was not precise. We want the walls square in our home, and we want other drivers to stay in their lane. Precision is many times taken for granted until lack of attention to detail causes a problem or a tragedy.
Let me begin by putting my cards on the table. I…am a Calvinist. Now, if you don’t know what that means, I encourage you to read the excellent and mercifully short book Five Points by John Piper. If you already know what a Calvinist is, and you also happen to call yourself a Calvinist, you may have noticed that it’s not always the most comfortable thing to acknowledge that fact. You see, all too often when we are asked the question, “Are you a Calvinist?” the conversation ends up going something like this…
- Random person: “Are you a Calvinist?”
- You: “Yes, I am.”
- Random person: “Wow! You actually believe that God is some monster who only chooses a few people to go to heaven and cruelly damns the rest of humanity to hell?! What kind of person are you?!”
- You (while the other person walks away from you in disgust): “What?! No! That’s not it at all! Give me just a second! I can explain!”
Of course, this isn’t always how it goes. I mean, every now and then we discover another Calvinist, right? Continue reading