Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Article I cannot help but sharing

I read this article from the Wall Street Journal on Manute Bol, a former NBA player. I am appreciative of the writer's efforts in articulating the impact Christ should have on a life. It is rare to read this kind of stuff.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Road to nowhere

For the Christian, the pathway to sin is the road to nowhere, or at least nowhere good.

I was reading in a Baptist Confession of faith the effects of sin on the life of the believer.
  • Sin incurs God's displeasure
  • It grieves God's Holy Spirit
  • It diminishes our comfort
  • It makes us experience hardness of heart
  • It makes our conscience accuse us
  • It hurts others and brings a scandal to them
  • It brings God's chastisements on us
Having recognized all of that, it is still good to know that if we are true believers, sin will not have the last word, but Christ will give victory over sin! Repentance can be renewed, and faith in God can be pursued.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hidden in your heart

Growing up in a Christian home, I remember learning "Your word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against you." (Ps 119:11)

I remembered that verse when I read another verse from the Psalms today (40:10), "I have NOT hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation."

So, putting the 2 together, I should store up God's word in my heart, learning to treasure it. However, I should be ready to speak of deliverance, and God's steadfast love in public. So, while my faith should be and is very personal, it was never meant to be private.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Glad songs of salvation

I was reading in Psalm 118:14-15, which says that
"The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous."
I was reminded of yesterday's singing in our services where we sang things like...
  • In Christ alone my hope is found.
  • Lead me to the cross, where your love poured out.
  • You alone can rescue, you alone can save.
  • Come ye sinners, poor and needy, weak and wounded, sick and sore. Jesus ready stands to save you, full of pity, love and power.
  • Down at the cross where my Savior, down where for cleansing from sin I cried, there to my heart was the blood applied. Glory to His name.
  • Have you been to Jesus for his cleansing power? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Surely God is pleased and Christ is honored by glad songs of salvation, sung by those who are His!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What does it mean that God wrote His Word?

As I was reading/preparing last week, I read this verse, specifically speaking of the 10 Commands
Ex 32:16 - The tablets were the work of God and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.
Several places in Scripture we read of God's written Word (Ex 34:1; Deut. 31:9-13; Joshua 24:26).

What is the specific value of God writing His word? Certainly we learn from stories that we hear and that are passed down. But, I appreciate the value of the written word as Wayne Grudem expresses in Systematic Theology: "The reliability, permanence, and accessibility of the form in which God's words are preserved are all greatly enhanced when they are written down (50)."

I am grateful especially for the accessibility of God's written word. Even throughout history, the development of the printing press, and more recently the internet has given people the opportunity to read the very words of God in their own language.

I am grateful for ministries like Wycliffe and projects like One Verse, and the work they do in Bible translations for those who don't have God's written words in their language.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"What do you enjoy most about being a pastor?"

"What do you enjoy most about being a pastor?" That is the question a good friend asked me yesterday. It was followed by a lengthy pause.

I am not really good at superlatives (i.e. the most, the best, etc.). But, still there are some things that came to mind when I thought about that question (and a few more after I gave it some extended thought).
  • I think any time you are operating in the realm God calls you, you see more of Him and come to know Him better. That would be at the top of the list. My responsibility and privilege has drawn me into knowing Him better. I agree with Paul in Philippians 3: "I want to know Him."
  • I love being able to dig deep in Scripture and see fresh insights. I have been reading the Bible for as long as I have been able to read. I had 13 years of Christian school chapels, 4 years of daily Christian college chapels, plus seminary for 5.5 more years (that is not to mention weeks of Sunday School lessons, AWANA, and children's church). Still, studying and preaching gives me the opportunity to see things I have never seen before. What a privilege. It is even a greater privilege to share those with others.
  • I love the opportunity to invest in people's lives in a spiritual sense. Often I get to speak with those who have strong faith, struggling faith, and sometimes no faith or misguided faith. Hearing myself articulate my personal faith and hope in God and His Son Jesus never fails to bolster my faith.
  • I guess I would also add this: serving as a pastor gives me a front row seat to God's work in people's lives. As a pastor, I believe that God gives you a heart for the people who He has called you to serve. To live, love, and grow with them is a huge privilege.
So, there are 4. I am sure given a few more minutes of time would allow me to come up with dozens more.

Monday, June 14, 2010

10 things that stand out from the 10 Commands

I have taught through the 10 Commands on Wednesday night at church, and have been impressed in many ways by what I have learned by taking a fresh look at a familiar subject.

  1. God's rescue comes before He tells His people what to do. After saying "I brought you out of Egypt," he says, "You shall" and "You shall not."
  2. Each of the commands represent a host of sinful of activities. For instance, "do not kill" also speaks to anger, revenge, etc.
  3. The 'negative' commands have positive implications. So not only is there evil to be avoided but good to be done if we are to honor the spirit of the command. For instance, if we "shouldn't steal," we should be generous, hard-working, sharing people.
  4. The 'positive' commands have negative implications. Honoring our father and mother means we won't do certain things.
  5. Christ obeyed these commands perfectly. He fulfilled the law.
  6. These commands speak to a relationship. Four speak to our relationship with God, while the other six speak to our relationship with each other.
  7. Too often the commands are used as a club to use against non-believers. We get frustrated by 'godless people' who are commandment breakers, when in reality the commands were given to people inside the covenant.
  8. The world would be a better place if people lived by God's intention in these 10 words.
  9. There are big categories involved in these 10 commands: God's name, how we worship, how we spend our time, how we love others, how we behave with regard to the truth.
  10. God is good to tell us how to live and what He expects.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

As June begins

I am grateful for what God is teaching me. In no certain order...
  • I am re-reading Colossians and being challenged each time I read it. What a vision for believers and Jesus' church is laid out there.
  • I continue to delve into Exodus and see the heart of God in more ways than I can express. I have been challenged by our Wednesday night study of the 10 Commandments.
  • I am seeing more and more how I should pray rather than fix or worry.
  • I recognize often that I am not nearly as patient with my wife and my kids as God is with me. Lord, forgive me.
  • I have enjoyed some old hymns and some catechisms. They have been very instructive. There is so much over the course of church history that is so instructive.
  • I am looking forward to having hundreds of people on-site the week of VBS later this month.
  • I have begun preparing for a Bible study I am leading starting late this month on The Gospel-Centered Life.
  • I am more and more reminded of my inadequacies, and yet more and more convinced of Christ's sufficiency.
Teach me your ways, God, and help me to have a listening heart.