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Simplifying Evangelism & Fellowship

Simplify! I’m not one for detailed plans, complicated procedures or more than 10 steps of anything. So I’m always looking for ways to make things more simple. This past week, in studying Psalm 34, King David helped me greatly in this pursuit by showing me that evangelism and fellowship aren’t two different activities of the Christian life, but one and the same. Let me explain. 

Guest Post: Ferguson, Staten Island, and Jesus Christ

Our friend, Daniel Howe, posted this thoughtful piece at his blog today. Daniel’s the pastor of Christ RPC in Providence, Rhode Island. Although written for his own church family, I suspect it will be of great help in evaluating and praying over our nation’s current turbulence.

Our church has at least two sets of pastoral needs. About half of those in worship on a given Sunday are African, and about half are American (mainly white), but right now, none are “African-American” – American-born black. I’m writing this note mainly to my church. I want to give you things to remember when you see ugly things happen as they have in Missouri (and, since I started writing this post, in New York City) over the last few weeks. Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island are all over the news, and if you use Facebook or Twitter, all over them, too. Recent events – the refusal of two grand juries to indict police officers in the deaths of unarmed black men – bring to our attention some of America’s most shameful problems and ugliest history.

On Stubbornness

Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.
Psalm 32:9

We don’t need to pretend that I know anything about horses or mules. All my information about them is secondhand at best. But we can take other people’s word when they tell us that horses need bridles to be steered and that mules are stubborn. So even without equine experience, God’s point in Psalm 32:9 is still evocative. Rather than simply telling us to stop being stubborn, He paints us a simultaneously humorous and devastating picture with a clear and simple point: when you resist God’s grace, you’re acting like a mule or a bad horse. You aren’t enjoying the living relationship He’s designed us to enjoy. You’re just pulling away from where God (graciously) wants you to go. 

Play The Longest Game

This coming Sunday will be my last sermon in a long series through the book of Revelation. As I’ve been considering some of the bigger lessons God has taught me through the series, I keep coming back to the importance of having an eternal perspective on this life’s ups and downs. It’s said that chess masters are often successful because they are playing beyond the current move. Instead of just wondering what the best next move is, they’re thinking about the next two or three (or seven or eight) moves and how their current move can be used in the long game of success. 

Don’t Drive Like My Brother

I hope you don’t think worse of me, but I’ve never been upset by a celebrity’s death. A movie star wrecks a Porsche? A comedian commits suicide? Doesn’t seem to bother me at all. Not that I’m glad about it or don’t understand why their families are grieving, but I’ve got a lot more hurt a lot closer to home without worrying about someone else’s tragedy.

That’s why I was surprised at my sadness yesterday to find that Tom Magliozzi died.

John Calvin on the Why and How of Fasting

Last Sunday night we studied Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount regarding fasting. One of the things that stands out is that fasting is nowhere commanded in Scripture, but rather is simply expected of those who follow the Lord. In preparation for the lesson, I found these paragraphs from Calvin’s Institutes to be of great help, especially in answering the questions: “Why should I fast?” and “What good does it do?”

Will all my sins be seen on the last day?

Will all my sins be seen on the last day?

A friend recently asked me this question. More than that, this question has been asked me of me several times in recent months. Christians, with good reason, want to know what we can expect on the last day. Several have asked me point blank, “When Jesus returns and judges everyone, will all of my sins be broadcast up on a cosmic-sized movie screen for God – and everyone else – to see?”

Some passages in Scripture seem to point this way. Revelation 20:12 speaks about the dead on the day of judgment being “judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.” And Romans 2:6 promises that God “will render to each one according to his works…” Verses like these give many the impression that each and every human will have the same experience on the day of judgment: having their every sin brought out into the light, to be seen for what they’ve truly done and who they truly are.

But is that what Scripture really teaches? Is that what believers in Jesus can expect? While there are many Biblical scholars who might disagree, […]

How I Love Your Law!

Oh how I love your law, it is my meditation all the day!
Psalm 119:97

 

Let’s admit together that this isn’t easy. We are born with a predisposition against God’s law. To the natural man or woman, God’s law is like the brightness of the sun to eyes that have gotten used to the dark. We avoid it. Really, we hate it.

But it should be different now, right? For those who have been brought to new life through the Spirit of Christ, our attitude toward God’s law should be better than hatred and rebellion. And a lot of times it is: when we’re on top of our spiritual game, we really do love God’s law. But when we begin to slip in our spiritual disciplines, or when discouragement and depression come creeping, or when we refuse to deal forthrightly with our sins, or when we listen too much to the world’s hatred of God’s standard – this is when our love for God’s law wanes.

So here’s some help. Here are a couple more reasons to love God’s law that you might not think about all the time, a couple more arrows for your spiritual battle to hold onto that love. 

Our New Morality

…that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine… (Ephesians 4:14)

It’s easy to be discouraged at the state of morality in our culture (or cultures, as the case may be), but slightly harder to pin down what exactly that morality is. The fact remains that we don’t live in an amoral society, because such a thing is impossible. Human societies will always be guarded by a morality. The real question is not whether morality, but which. We definitely have a morality and for the sake of the church’s future in this society, we need to more deeply discern the waters in which we swim.

My proposal is a new name for our new morality: Reactionary Morality.