18 August 2017

This 'n' That

Summoning two of his disciples, John sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” (Luke 7:19)
Standing on this side of the cross, most of us of Gentile origin, we may easily overlook this bold question set forth by the disciples of John the Baptist.

"Are You the Expected One?"

The Expected One. What a name! Those Jews who knew and trusted their Scriptures (known to us as the Old Testament) were confident that there was a Messiah coming, because the LORD had declared this in no uncertain terms in His holy Word. Sadly, today there are still many who are waiting for the Expected One, for they are too blind to see that He has already come and is indeed coming again (Hebrews 9:28).

The Expected One. How could anyone miss it? How could anyone not see that Jesus was the Messiah? How good of our Lord to explain to the disciples on the road to Emmaus everything within the Scriptures concerning Himself (Luke 24:27)!

The Expected One. So many waited expectantly for His first coming. Today, we wait expectantly for His second coming, when justice will prevail and His children will be with Him forever. Are you eagerly awaiting His return?

Well, it would be fantastic if Christ would return right now, wouldn't it? Since that may not happen, why not wait while enjoying your week in review (kind of):

11 August 2017

This 'n' That

Use it as a vase today,
serve lemonade in it tomorrow!
I remember a pre-Pinterest world. I remember when people had opinions, likes, and dislikes, and decorated their homes accordingly. Sure, there were trends and fads, but if you didn't like chickens, then you didn't decorate your kitchen with chickens. It was that simple. No one judged you; no one cared. But now, if you don't decorate according to the latest Pinterest fad, well, clearly there must be something wrong with you. Don't like burlap and mason jars? Too bad. It's popular and it's on Pinterest, ergo, you must conform. (For the record, I have nothing against mason jars. It's just...they are everywhere.)

Well, this may help date your pictures to precisely the month and year they were taken, and your  home may always be up to date with the latest kitschy trinkets, but is it an enjoyable place to live? Some of my fondest memories are stirred when I sift through old treasures and find something that I remember sitting on our coffee table, or in our curio cabinet, not just for months until the next trendy wave came through, but for years. And it remained there so long because it meant something. It had sentimental value. It belonged to my mother, or my grandmother, or to my mother's grandmother. Those decorative items had a story behind them—stories I loved to hear and stories I still remember.

I often wonder if children today will be able to enjoy similar memories, or will their thoughts of their childhood home be empty and Pinterest-ified? To each his own, I guess, but I am thankful to have grown up in a Pinterest-free world.

It's easy to get caught up in the latest fads, whether it is clothing, furniture, cars, or decorating ideas. How many of us will find in a year or two that our "distressed" furniture now just looks, well, old and outdated?

Perhaps the saddest fad of all, though, is the fad of evangelicalism. There is no doubt that, in many parts of America, it is trendy to call yourself a Christian. It's cool to be #blessed and many eagerly hop on the bandwagon. Unfortunately, the bandwagon they are boarding is one of a false faith. It's supported by wobbly, damning doctrine and will not withstand the fires of persecution, which will indeed come. So how does the true Church respond? With the gospel. With the message of mercy and forgiveness found in Jesus Christ alone. We respond with the truth and let God take it from there.

Speaking of home decorating fads, I'm thinking about bringing back wall stenciling (just kidding). Now before you go de-Pinterest your home, why not first take a few moments to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

04 August 2017

This 'n' That

One of my worst nightmares has always been that I will be that person who holds up a line boarding a plane. That my boarding pass will cause the scanner to screech and flash red. That I will be left standing in a strange and obnoxious city watching my ride home literally fly away.

Well, a few weeks ago, it happened....most of it, anyway. Everything except the plane leaving without me. There's still no explanation as to the "ticketing error" that caused me to be the last one running to her seat. No one can explain why my boarding pass could get me through security but not through the gate. Suffice it to say I am exceedingly grateful for the Delta employee who worked quickly to fix it so I could board and we could leave as scheduled ("as scheduled" meaning the usual 30 minutes late, of course).

Traveling is always stressful, but this particular trip was a doozy. I am so thankful to the Lord for His protection and kindness throughout it. Little things like travel hiccups make you realize how wonderful the doctrine of God's sovereignty truly is. Almost late for that important meeting because the hotel goofed up? God wasn't surprised. Last minute flight change because crazy traffic won't get you there in time for your initial flight? God had that planned too. Very last minute panic when your boarding pass fails you? Yeah, God totally knew that was coming. If He promises to care for His children, then we know that what He's ordained is good and according to His perfect plan, even if it throws a massive wrench into ours.

With that, let's all breathe a sigh of relief that it is Friday and sit back while we enjoy the week in review (kind of):

01 August 2017

"Crammed Full of the Gospel"

I believe that those sermons which are fullest of Christ are the most likely to be blessed to the conversion of the hearers. Let your sermons be full of Christ, from beginning to end crammed full of the gospel. As for myself, brethren, I cannot preach anything else but Christ and His cross, for I know nothing else, and long ago, like the apostle Paul, I determined not to know anything else save Jesus Christ and Him crucified. People have often asked me, "What is the secret of your success?" I always answer that I have no other secret but this, that I have preached the gospel,—not about the gospel, but the gospel,—the full, free, glorious gospel of the living Christ who is the incarnation of the good news.[...]There ought to be enough of the gospel in every sermon to save a soul.

Spurgeon, Charles H. The Soul-Winner: or How to Lead Sinners to the Saviour. Kindle Edition, 42-43.

Further Reading
On the Dangers of Distorting God's Grace
When We Forget the Meaning of Grace
The Dividing Doctrines of Grace

28 July 2017

This 'n' That

I'm concluding listening through a study of the book of Genesis and, I have to say, I think I am going to miss these people! I have throughly enjoyed getting to know the men and women whose lives are shared with us in this book. Yes, I've read Genesis before, many times. Yet for some reason, through this read-through and the sermons with which I was following along, the book—and its characters—truly came alive.

In Genesis we have the story of creation, perfect and unblemished in its execution. We quickly see man fall, and just as quickly see God offer the promise of a Savior, a promise and plan that was determined before the foundation of the world.

We see God's power in the waters of the flood. We see God's sovereignty on full display throughout the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We see His provision and protection in the story of Joseph. We see the sins of men, and the grace, mercy, and faithfulness of God. In Genesis, we first meet our Maker, and we see that He is powerful, just, and holy, but He is also good, faithful, and true.

The exaltation of God that is seen in Genesis is truly immense, and to think that it is only the beginning of the book! This is why we love God's Word, isn't it? It reveals to us our great and glorious King and Savior. It reminds us of our fallibility and fallenness, yes, but it also reminds us of the goodness of our God. And it proclaims for us the way to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone. How gracious was God to give us this book? How dare we ever imply it is insufficient! How dare we question its authority! How dare we question its inerrancy and authenticity! May we instead thank our Lord for giving us such a clear proclamation of His ways, His will, and His wonders.

Well, the links below won't be nearly as edifying as an excursion through Genesis, but I hope you still enjoy your week in review (kind of):

24 July 2017

On the Dangers of Distorting God's Grace

The unrighteousness of men cannot nullify the grace of God.

This is a paraphrase from a sermon I recently heard, and I was struck by the importance of this simple truth. And yet, even in its simplicity, it is a truth far too often ignored in some Christian circles. It seems that, in our sweeping attempts to avoid the dangerous error of a "seeker-sensitive" mindset, we find ourselves swinging the proverbial pendulum too far in the other direction. As a consequence, we find ourselves stressing holiness and righteousness—and rightly so—but we find these being stressed at the expense of God's grace.

The Apostle Paul, in discussing this topic, posed the typical argument that one might hear when preaching the gospel of grace:
So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? (Romans 5:18-6:1)
And we, with Paul, heartily exclaim, "May it never be!" (Romans 6:2). Still, it behooves us to remember that the gospel is indeed a gospel of grace, and without that glorious, divine grace, no man would be saved.

21 July 2017

This 'n' That

I bought a power washer.

That thing is amazing.

My concrete has never looked so clean, and I have never enjoyed cleaning concrete or siding more.

The only question is—why did I wait so long to purchase one of these fantastic contraptions?

All of that cleaning makes me think of a terrifying passage of Scripture, though.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:27-28)
There's more to this passage, but I suspect you are familiar with it and, even if you are not, you get the idea. It's a pretty intense condemnation spoken by Jesus about those who are religious hypocrites.

We might clean up really nice on the outside, but have we taken a 2000 psi power washer to the inside?

Only Christ can perform such a powerful cleansing on us. Have we been cleansed by Christ, regenerated by the Holy Spirit? If so, then we are new creations in Him.

Still, in this world, and in our fallen flesh, we will inevitably find ourselves dirtied daily. But Christ offers cleansing even then.
Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” Peter said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” (John 13:5-10)
This is grace. Amazing grace. He saves us. He cleanses us. He graciously forgives us of our sin (1 John 1:9).

In response, we desire to serve Him. We desire to have our hearts and minds aligned with His and with His will. We pursue righteousness. We will all have our hypocritical moments, but may we, with the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, seek to mortify those with a mighty blow. May God forgive us for our unfaithfulness when He is so steadfastly faithful.

Well, it is Friday (hooray!), so please enjoy your week in review (kind of):