From The Pastor's Desk
"For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things to Him be the glory forever." Romans 11:36
From The Pastor's Desk
A Plea to the Christian Wife: Being a HelperNov-04-2013
I have recently been involved in helping several couples mend their struggling marriages. I wanted to share a simple observation with you. In Genesis 2:20 after all of the animals (and their mates) have been paraded in front of Adam the Bible comments, “But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.” (ESV)
First, Adam’s best included a helper that was compatible (fit). Both animals and/or human isolation are inadequate. They are evaluated by God as “not good.”
Second, Adam’s deficiencies were not sinful. Adam, at this point, had not yet sinned. Therefore, Adam did not need a wife to help him overcome sin or compensate from some sinful masculine tendency.
Third, Adam needed someone to help him fulfill his God-given obligations. These obligations would have included (1) be fruitful and multiply, (2) subdue the earth, (3) have dominion over the animals (Gen 1:28).
Frankly, just working through these three implications would take a long chapter in a book. However, let me make some applications for marriage today. Compatibility is not so much about helping your spouse overcome sin as it is helping him to engage the tasks that God has created him to accomplish. Namely, a wife’s primary role is to draw her husband into a greater and more thorough obedience to God. When a wife becomes a barrier to her husband’s obedience then she has thwarted the very purpose of marriage. Plainly put, wives ought to promote and energize their husband’s love for the Lord rather than becoming competitors of the Lord. Your husband should read his Bible, go to church, encourage other believers, and train his children better because he has you as a wife. Ask yourself, “Will my husband have a richer reward when he sees Jesus because he married me?”
The Necessary JesusApr-06-2012
Before time began the death of Jesus has been certain, as certain as our sin. When God created man he had already determined that he would rescue this wicked creature through the violent and bloody death of an innocent man. This innocent man was to be broken on the cross by the very race of rebels that he came to save.
What we recognize about the events of this horrendous-beautiful moment must be a small and incomplete picture. We are like kindergarteners who try to imitate Da Vinci ’s Mona Lisa with crayons. We only draw the biggest, boldest lines in cartoonish figures. The death of Christ is architected by the Sovereign Father who sent Jesus as the incarnate Son of God to live, suffer, die, and then be raised again. This is a salvation that angelic beings have yet to understand in all the ages since the NT was written. In this moment history is so full, God’s plan is so complex, and our savior so infinite that there will never be a full reckoning of all that happened to our Savior in his death and resurrection. Yet, despite all of this complexity, despite our inability to anything but the simplest sketch, despite the inability of angels to understand all of the events of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection we are still duty bound to learn more about this event and its consequences.
Matthew 16:21 records, “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
I want to briefly point out to you the misery of this verse. Jesus begins to help his disciples understand that he “must” go. This word must is a word of necessity (lit. “it is necessary”). Jesus was under divine obligation. This was the Father’s plan. This plan was firmly set in the unchangeable will of God who works all things according the counsel of his will. This is no happy certainty. Jesus will stand before the prospect of his crucifixion and plead with his Father saying, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me.” The Father’s infinite loving response echoes back, “It is necessary.”
Why was this necessary? Notice that Matthew’s record says that Jesus began to ‘show’ his disciples. I take this to mean that he was instructing them in the prophetic passages of God’s message in the OT. This death was something that the boy Jesus, the God-man, had been learning from birth as he read the Scriptures. His own death cast a long shadow over the life of this innocent man. Convicted before birth because God had said, “Guilty!” He was on death row for his entire life. God’s prophets said so.
What was necessary? In this verse, Jesus lists four major events that were necessary for him. These shape the broad contours in our simplistic, crayon drawn work. The first (1) is that he had to go to Jerusalem. Consider his reception—“Son of David!” they cry. Palm branches, shouting, and a crowd greet Jesus as he enters his capital city. This should be his coronation (cf. 1 Kings 1:38). Yet, when he arrives at the temple to be anointed with oil and crowned king, no one welcomes him. Rejected. This was necessary. (2) Those who should have anointed him were the elders and chief priests and scribes who caused his suffering. Jesus spends this last dark week serving others and preaching the message of God. On Friday silenced him. (3) They killed him. They would not let him be their king! This too was necessary. There is one more necessity, one more event that Jesus taught to his 12. He taught them that (4) it was necessary that he be raised from the dead on the third day. And so, Jesus raised by the power of the Father—the same Father that was “pleased to crush him” (Isa 53:10). But he is alive today because it was necessary that he be raised. It was not possible for sin to hold him because he is the Almighty King—and on that day death died (Acts 2:24; 1 Cor 15:26).
Can an Unbeliever be Good? (3 of 4)Feb-11-2012
(see the posts below for previous posts in this thread)
This is an interesting question to ask, and the answer is more challenging than just a “yes” or “no.” Let me begin by asking the question, “Whose definition of good are we using?” I think that if we can answer that question we can quickly come to basic and accurate answers.
1) A generic, societal good is well within the grasp of all people. I think that this aspect of goodness is easily answered by Paul’s assertion in Romans 2:14 “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires…” In essence, the unbeliever follows his own conscience and does what is good or he rejects his conscience and does what is wrong. This conscience is reflected in the almost universal human ideals against murder, theft, rape, etc. It is also the basis for much societal good like a son obeying his father or a husband loving his wife. Is this good? Yes.
2) A Godward good is not within the grasp of any unsaved person. Here the standard is much higher. The standard bearer and judge is God. I am presuming that this good is will result in God approving with eternal reward those people whose thoughts, emotions, and actions that have resulted in his glory. I think that this type of “good” is solely within the domain of those who have the Holy Spirit’s aid in the performance of such activity. Let my give a litany of scripture verses that may attest to such a limitation of good works away from the unbeliever.
a) Romans 3:12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.
b) Ecclesiastes 7:20 Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.
c) Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
d) Isaiah 64:6 We are all like one who is unclean, all our so-called righteous acts are like a menstrual rag in your sight. We all wither like a leaf; our sins carry us away like the wind. (NET Bible)
e) Ephesians 2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins
f) Colossians 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh…
g) Romans 8:8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
There are two closely related reasons for this lack of ‘goodness’ in the unbeliever. 1) The unbeliever has a heart that is tainted by their own sin and rejection of God. Everything has been corrupted by sinner’s own heart. This seems to be the explicit reference in Isaiah 64 where even those religious activities that Israel would offer to God were consider polluted and unacceptable to God. Their hearts were offering to God unacceptable worship so that while the activity itself was good the person and the activity are ultimately condemned before God because the hearts offering this ‘righteousness’ were evil. Romans 8 suggests in a similar fashion that the unbeliever is unable to please God. This helps us to see the second aspect of the problem of an unbeliever doing good. 2) The unbeliever does not have the ability to do good because his heart is corrupted by sin and is unaided by God’s Spirit (even the unbeliever cannot do good without God’s Spirit, but we have the Spirit!). This is the meaning of the term flesh in Romans 8, it means the person who does not have the Spirit of God. So that the person without the Spirit is “unable to please God.” Ephesians and Colossians say that all men are born in a state of spiritual death. All of us are unable to please God except by his gracious Spirit’s work. Romans 3:12 simply says, “There is none who does good, not one” and so the answer to this side of our question must agree with the Scripture. “No” an unbeliever cannot do good in the sight God.
A profound gratitude to God for his work in us who believe should be the response of every believer to this thought. I am able to serve and please God by grace alone! (Philippians 2:13) ~ Thank You, God!
Why Questioning God’s Word is Satanic…(2 of 4)Jan-30-2012
(See the post below this for the initial post)
1) Defining the Problem
Let’s agree at the beginning that there are two types of questions that you can ask. There are great questions that come from a heart of faith. Faith and intellect are inseparable twins. Faith without knowledge is foolishness and biblically impossible (Rom. 10:9-17). So asking questions that are intended to bring about knowledge concerning God is good. You are asking a question that will help your faith to grow. This is good.
The second type of question is designed to undermine faith, raise doubt, and deconstruct reason. This is satanic. The lines between these questions can be a little blurry, but I will attempt to clarify the distinction. Let me give two basic examples. First a good question:
• How did God create the world?
- Or a similar question, but a doubting question-
• Did God really create the world?
Questions that are expressions of doubt are sin. Questions that are designed to promote doubt are sin. Questioning what God has said by asking, “is that true?” is sin.
On the other hand, questions that promote faith or understanding are good questions. So, when you already know what God says and you question whether or not it is true, you are sinning. If, however, you don’t know and you ask as a means of discovery about God or his truth…then you are probably okay in asking. The faithful person asks questions to grow, but he/she does this without doubting God’s Scripture, God’s character, or God’s authority. We know that whatever is not done if faith is sin and displeasing to God (Rom. 14:23; Heb. 11:6).
2) Satanic Strategies
John 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
2 Co. 11:13-15 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
For the sake of time and space (who reads long blogs anyway), I am only including two passages. There are many more. Let me summarize a few principles from these passages that may help in this discussion.
• The Devil’s main assault is against truth (the battle ground is your mind).
• The Devil attacks the truth with lies.
• Satan’s attack on the truth will be disguised and deceitful.
• Satan will present himself as though he were on ‘God’s side’—an angel of light.
• People will call themselves apostles of Christ, servants of righteousness, etc., but will in reality be satanic men and women. They will subtly destabilize the truth and promote lies.
Let’s ponder this for a moment. Satan’s people will attempt to present themselves as Christ’s people in order to gain access to the Christian. Their method of attack will then to be to undermine the truth since they speak lies like their father the devil. This is why the assault on the Bible by cults through the addition or subtraction of Scripture is by definition Satanic.
One is perfectly reasonable when he says, “I know God has given us His Word, but I would like to know how we received it, ‘How did God do this?’” One is knowingly or unknowingly an ally of Satan when he says, “Might there be books out there that are God’s Word too?” Or when someone says, “Couldn’t some of our books of the Bible not be Scripture?” they have expressed a sinful faithlessness. [I am assuming these questions are not used as a rhetorical device, but to express genuine doubt about what God has preserved as His Word]
3) Satanic Questions
Although the use of the term “satanic” may be off-putting, it is the right term to use. I was deliberate. A few Scriptural examples:
• Genesis 3:1 “Did God really say, 'You can't eat from any tree in the garden'?" [HCSB]
• Genesis 3:4-5 “No! You will not die," the serpent said to the woman. "In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." [HCSB]
Notice that assault is against what God had said—His Word. Initially Satan questions, ‘Did God really say that?’ This is an attack on the message of God. This sounds strikingly similar to what others have questioned, “Is it really in the Bible?” Again, as you look back at verse 4, Satan advances his strategy boldly to say that God has completely misrepresented the truth. Interesting. Satan calls God a liar! Finally, Satan lifts up an alternate ‘truth’ to God’s truth, “In fact, God knows…” First he takes away from God’s Word then he adds to God’s Word.
Isn’t this what Mormons do? Isn’t this what Catholics do? Isn’t this what Jehovah Witness do? Is that all God really said? He didn’t mean what you think he meant. In fact, here is our addition to what God originally communicated. Most ‘mainstream’ cults have not removed the Bible, but their additional documents are seen to be authoritative interpretations or addendums to God’s Word.
Let me add that at times Christians can become unwitting coconspirators with Satan and against God. Jesus rebukes Peter by saying, “Get behind me Satan” (Matt. 16:23)! Ouch. When we become Satan’s mouth piece of doubt, I think our Lord would say, “Get Behind me Satan!” to us too. I am not willing to say that Jesus’ comment was too harsh or unkind, are you?
Conclusion: I am sure Peter meant well, but keeping Jesus from his crucifixion would have condemned us all. Certainly this didn’t help Jesus obey and trust in the Father’s predestined plan for his crucifixion (Matt. 26:39; 1 Peter 2:23). Peter was still a Christian, but he was scolded accurately and kindly too. Let us make sure that our good intentions, our intellectual pursuits, our generosity towards those who have questions, or our thoughtlessness never cause us to become a mouthpiece of Satan. Our questions should increase faith, our discussions should encourage investigation into the Scripture, and our arguments/debates should sharpen our thinking. We should only speak so as to “build up someone in need so that it ministers grace to all who hear” (Eph. 3:29)
Is the Bible We Have Really Scripture? (1 of 4)Jan-27-2012
Recently I was deeply disappointed to find out that members of my family were involved in a debate in which foolish and sinful views, perhaps satanic views were advocated - it was not a healthy debate. I assume that these issues are real issues for many people so I decided to write on my 'desk' to address the theological errors. This is the first post addressing one of three issues that need to be answered. I will be direct for clarity, and anyone reading this should understand that I am doing so to aid understanding. I am not trying to offend any person, family or otherwise.
Issue # 1: "We really don't know which books are supposed to be in the Bible anyway..."
Let me answer this attack against the Scripture by first suggesting that adding or editing the Bible is in fact one of the DEFINING characteristics of a cult. Mormonism, Jehovah Witnesses, David Koresh, and Islam all have added to the Bible. The assumption made by these cults is that the Bible needs a little additional help. The Catholic Church teaches that tradition and the church fathers are authorities alongside of the Bible too. To be blunt let me agree with Scripture at the end of Revelation, "I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book" (Rev. 22:18; consider this, doubting of God's Words goes back to Satan in the Garden of Eden). I will suggest why we have a limited group of books in the Bible; this group is called a 'canon.'
Crossway's challenge for 2012: KNOW GOD. I think that our many problems often come because we don't know God. A deep disappointment in my life is that I find so much joy in sports, entertainment, relaxation, nature, my family and so little in God. These many wonderful gifts that bring happiness are supposed to lead me to love God. He is the one who gave me this life and its joys. Rather than loving the gifts, I should see these gifts as revealing the kindness and goodness of the Giver.
When I try to pursue happiness outside of God, I reveal a horrendous ignorance of the joy that only God can give. I would suggest that one of the effective ways to overcome sin is to become satisfied with God. David says, "Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you." (Ps. 73:25)
To listen to Sunday's sermon on knowing God please click on the link below
Three Revelations to Know God
Mark 6:34 So as He stepped ashore, He saw a huge crowd and had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then He began to teach them many things.
Okay so I just did a short study on the term ‘compassion.’ Its use in the Greek is only found 12 times in the entire NT (related terms would add up to many more occurrences). Of these 12 uses all of them are used to describe Jesus or they are used by Jesus in the teaching of a parable. Let me share two observations that I found interesting. First, the compassion that Jesus felt always caused him to move to help the needy. Jesus is never gripped with compassion only to pass on the opportunity to help the needy. Second, Jesus almost never acts with compassion without there being some spiritual value to his work. The outcome or situation in which he serves others out of compassion always culminates or accentuates his spiritual ministry to the people. If we, as a people, begin to reshape our lives to emulate the compassion of Christ we will see the need of others and be moved to help in a way that produces spiritual benefit for them and glory for God.
1) Giving help but failing to extend God’s grace is not compassionate.
2) A ‘feeling of sympathy’ with no help given is definitely not compassionate.
Oh, by the way, Jesus was frequently serving without being asked. Often, people are unaware of the help that Jesus could give when he moves to step in and help them in their circumstances. We should all pray, “God, help us to be more compassionate despite our self-absorbed world!”
The Duty of Morality in PoliticsOct-20-2010
Romans 13:4 For he is God's servant to do you good.
Our current series on "God's Views of the News" has stirred a few interesting comments from others and even our own church family. One statement that must be considered is this, "Our government should not enforce morality" or "You cannot legislate morality."
Really? Consider this logic by filling in the blanks, "Our government should not ___________." For instance, "Our government should not enforce laws against murder." Uhh, I am okay with that moral law. Aren't you? Or, consider the laws against the immoral activity of theft, violence against innocents, indecent behavior or speech. Our government governs all of these areas of morality. And it should!
Many of us desire freedom to consider or to even act on our immoral impulses. We do not want a government that is omnipresent. I get that, but the slippery slope of government's overreaching, power grabbing, authority has always been a dilemma. This recognition is why our Constitution (and many other nations' governing documents) limit the reach and power of government. The possibility of abuse should not cause us to shy away from what is right.
So, what is right?
God has established and placed our government over us to be an agent of good. I would suggest that "good" at the least must communicate to us moral good. In other words, one of the government's primary duties is to enforce moral goodness on its people. You and I may differ on how government should enforce and legislate morality, but I do not think we should even be debating whether or not it should. God has already said that this is the duty of the government, it should be promoting good and punishing wrong.
So when you vote, consider that government was placed over us not to promote our financial well being, but to be an agent of moral good. Then consider which candidates presented on the ballot this November will best reflect the morality established in Scripture. I would suggest placing emphasis on those virtues or moral principles that are most important to God since it is doubtful that any one candidate will perfectly align himself with God's morality. Vote for our leaders who will be agents of good.
Pastors Need Church TooOct-05-2010
Pastors need church too. Church usually refers to the group of people who gather together under unity of faith in Christ. We all know that technically it is not the building or location, but we still fall into this habit. Considering church, most of us are too self-aware. We say, I wonder what blessing I will receive this morning from the worship or preaching However, I think many pastors are the polar opposite. They might say, I need to be on my game today so that I can be a blessing to others, my preaching needs to be good so that others can grow.
Understand that neither of these is horribly wrong or evil, but probably it is imbalanced if this is the only way that you think about your upcoming meetings with God's people. If pastors have a little of the I am eager to be ministered to attitude, and the rest of us would borrow a little the I must be a blessing to others attitude we might be more on point as a body.
On a personal level this happened to me recently. We have a gifted teacher of the Scriptures who teaches our Sunday night Bible study while I get to work with our church's children. I have to say that I have grudgingly agreed to minister to our kids out of need (no one else is willing and/or able). I would rather teach the adults. I would rather listen to our adult teacher. Okay, I would rather do a lot of things. And then, this mother speaks to me and says;
I hope you know what a blessing it is that our children get to spend time with their pastor. Many churches have a pastor who is so busy that he can never spend time, on a personal level, with the children in his church.
At this point I could feel the conviction of my arrogant and selfish I would rathers. In a few kind words, my dissatisfaction was shredded. My sin was revealed. Please God, give me eagerness to serve all of your people and give me an eagerness to be served by them. And so I have been reminded that a pastor needs church too.
Titus 2:14 He gave himself for us to set us free from every kind of lawlessness and to purify for himself a people who are truly his, who are eager to do good.
An Honest CreationistSep-25-2010
Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
The evolutionist says, I can prove it, and then defers to an ancient universe from which, by mere random chance our world came into existence and spawned a breathtaking variety of life. None of this is scientifically provable. None of this is able to be reproduced in a lab. No beneficial mutation or evolutionary advancement has ever been observed or reproduced. Simply put, there is no scientific reason to believe that evolution is a reasonable theory to explain our existence.
The creationist says, I believe it. God has recorded for us that from God, who had no physical expression, the entire universe was created. So that we believe our world was created from what is not seen, namely God. This is not provable, repeatable, or observable. Forensic science can aid in the search for truth. But ultimately faith precedes understanding. I believe therefore I understand.
Consider this, not only does the author of Hebrews tell us that matter was created by a non-material God, but also God created through a command, words. What unimaginable power!
There is no viable theory to explain the natural or supernatural creation of matter, the evolutionist has no explanation for these words in his system of belief: in the beginning a bang. If naturalism or empiricism explains everything, where did the matter that caused the big bang come from? The the first law of thermodynamics denies that matter can be created or destroyed. Therefore, we can never have a have the natural creation of matter. We are left with the conclusion that since matter exists there must be a supernatural explanation. Leaving the evolutionist with the necessity of a faith too.
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