Stories of Hope

Since the fall of last year, our congregation has been planning for three evangelistic services that we called Stories of Hope.  We gave this event this title for three basic reasons: 1) the messages came from the three parables that Jesus told in Luke 15; 2) we had a testimony shared by a member of the church that tied into the theme of the evening; and 3) we believe every person’s life is a God-given story in which the hope of the gospel is to be offered.

These meetings took place over the past three Sunday evenings and just concluded last night.  To give God glory for what we have seen Him do in our midst and to offer encouragement to others, I thought I would share the following.

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To prepare the congregation for this time, our pastors organized what they called “Mission Briefings” over the eight or nine months leading up to Stories of Hope.  They took time once a month in an evening service to encourage the church in such areas as praying specifically for friends, practicing hospitality, and asking kingdom-oriented questions. This training, along with regular exhortations through emails, announcements, and especially sermon references, stirred the congregation to be intentional […]


Ordinary Elders

When we think of the work of the elders of the church what are the primary duties that we consider? In the Book of Acts, chapter 6, the elders of the church are to devote themselves to the ministry of the Word and to prayer. These are the two basic callings of those who minister in the eldership of the church.

A few weeks ago I was privileged to participate in the memorial service of a Christian woman from another congregation. There were a number of ministers who participated, all reformed in conviction. The son of the woman, who had gone to her eternal rest, gave me a gift for participating in the service. It was clear that he knew me very well. As he was going through his mother’s belongings he found Session Minutes from a church where one of his relatives had served as a ruling elder in the early 1900s. The Session Minutes were from Roseburg, Oregon Presbyterian Church and they were dated January 7, 1917. Accompanying the Minutes was an old photo of the church building.


Call the Sabbath a Delight

In Isaiah 58.13 we have laid out for us the chief purpose of the Sabbath day: …turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honourable… honour it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly…

The central thought here is that we are to delight in and honour the Lord’s holy day. The word ‘holy’ means ‘set apart’, and that in two directions: on the one hand the Sabbath is to be set apart from the rest of week—we are not to use it to gratify our own desires and preferences. But at the same time, the Sabbath is set apart for God. In other words, the reason for setting it apart from other six days is so that the Lord will be the focus of the day. We abstain from the work and leisure pursuits of the other six days not so we’ll be bored for a whole day, but so we can concentrate on the Lord without distraction.

Isaiah spells out three things involved in honouring the day:

Not going your own ways. This probably refers […]


Raising Children

I was standing in the hallway of a church in Indianapolis.  I was in my late thirties, it wasn’t long after the birth of our fifth child, and I was talking with an older brother in the Lord.   “How are things with you, Quigley?” came the question.  “They’re good, but having five kids is demanding,” was my heartfelt response.  He took me by my jacket lapels, he’s a converted New York City Jew, shook me backwards and forwards, and said, “Quigley, it will only get harder – wait till they are teenagers and then older.”
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That was ten or eleven years ago, we’ve since had another child and what he said was true.  Things were easier when you could just speak, and they would trot after you in Pied Piper fashion.  In those days we were able to travel across the USA, having mastered the art of packing up in 20 or 30 minutes and then setting off.  There weren’t the range of issues that come with the teenager who needs to find themselves in a process that inevitably affects everyone in the family.  Everybody had their role and their responsibilities.  Yes, there was room for personality and diversity, but it was generally managed within acceptable […]



The Woman in the Parable of the Lost Coin

Last night our congregation held the second of three evangelistic services we are calling “Stories of Hope.”  I preached on the Parable of the Lost Coin from Luke 15:8-10.

Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’ In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

I made it clear that as we hear this parable, we are not to identify with the woman but the coin.  For the lost coin represents a sinner, and the theme I developed in the message was “A valuable item lost from its owner becomes worthless, but when restored the joy is multiplied.”

So though we are to see ourselves as not the woman but the coin, the question remains: “What does the woman represent?”  Some commentators think she represents the Holy Spirit, for her searching with her light is like the Spirit illuminating hearts with truth.  Others develop the […]


Represented, Sealed, and Applied

Last Lord’s Day our congregation had the pleasure of witnessing the baptism of a covenant child born into one of our families. When infants are baptized, parents take vows. We understand the obligation baptism places on parents, who present a child for baptism. But how does baptism make a difference in the child’s life?


Indiana’s Opportunity

Those of us living in Indiana live at a rare juncture in history. We made big news a month ago with our Religious Freedom and Restoration Act in the statehouse. The waters have calmed for now, and many people wish the whole episode would just disappear. Maybe the whole attempt to pass the RFRA was unwise on the part of the Christians who authored the bill. Whether it was or was not, proponents of LBGT rights have promised to press for more comprehensive protections in next year’s general assembly. Rare is the occasion when a people have the promise of a spotlight and the opportunity to prepare for eight months before taking the stage.

Fellow Hoosiers of various persuasions should take time to serious think through the possibilities and implications that are before us. Whether you are convinced that your side will win or lose the political contest, you will have many open doors for discussion if you live here that could powerfully impact our lives and the lives of those around us. Rather than run from the discussion, let’s embrace the opportunity set before us.

Marvin Olasky has long argued that Bible-believing Christians today are less like the ancient Jews in […]


The Wisdom of God Displayed in the Way of Salvation – Jonathan Edwards

“One end why God suffered Satan to do what he did in procuring the fall of man, was that his Son might be glorified in conquering that strong, subtle, and proud spirit, and triumphing over him. How glorious doth Christ Jesus appear in baffling and triumphing over this proud king of darkness, and all the haughty confederate rulers of hell. How glorious a sight is it to see the meek and patient Lamb of God leading that proud, malicious, and mighty enemy in triumph! What songs doth this cause in heaven! It was a glorious sight in Israel to see David carrying the head of Goliath in triumph to Jerusalem. It appeared glorious to the daughters of Israel, who came out with timbrels and with dances, and sang, ‘Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.’ But how much more glorious to see the Son of David, the Son of God, carrying the head of the spiritual Goliath, the champion of the armies of hell, in triumph to the heavenly Jerusalem! It is with a principle view to this, that Christ is called, ‘The Lord of hosts, or armies, and a man of war,” Exod. xv.3.  And Psal. […]


Poor Laws in an Age of False Beneficence

Whether it is teaching classes on mercy ministry or counseling with others on a case involving someone needy, again and again I find the church struggling to know what to do in helping the poor.  Often I start by telling folks that it is good they are struggling, because every situation will be difficult to discern.  Beware of the one who comes in with the quick, easy answer!

But then I also will ask, “What does the Bible have to say in cases like this one?”  People often fumble around a bit at this question.  Usually a mention of how we have an obligation to care for the needy or a reference to the story of the Good Samaritan is offered by the sensitive, tender-hearted ones on the one hand; and remarks about the poor needing to learn to work or how we cannot be giving handouts to every drunkard comes from the bolder, more stout-hearted folks on the other.  Too infrequently do I hear a reasoned articulation coming from the Scriptures that echoes with the proper Micah 6:8 blend: “to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

The location of this verse just quoted explains why.  Notice Micah 6:8 is in the Old Testament. […]