Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Manger

"From the creche to the cross is an inseparable line.  Chirstmas only points forward to Easter.  It can have no meaning apart from that, where the Son of god displayed His glory by His death."
~ John Donne

MERRY CHRISTMAS!  May you see the glory of our one true God in our Savior Jesus Christ this Christmas season.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Are Relationships Worth the Pain?

"Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable."
C. S. Lewis

Are relationships worth the pain?  Yes they are.  The alternative is unthinkable.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Just how Pro-Choice is America, Really?

"The idea that a bunch of pro-life rogue wingnuts have hijacked the agenda and thwarted the national will is a convenient, but fanciful, belief."

"A Rasmussen poll found that 48 percent of the public didn’t want abortion covered in any government-subsidized health plan, while just 13 percent did. (Thirty-two percent believed in a 'neutral' approach - though what on Earth that means is hard to say.)"

"Roe v. Wade was one of the few Supreme Court decisions that was out of step with mainstream public opinion."

"The choice argument is an analytical one, grounded in theories of privacy and the rights of the mother; the pro-life side has the case with instant visceral and emotional appeal: This is life we’re talking about."

"What do we do when caught between pro-choice discourse that, while it reflects our values, does not accurately reflect the full extent of our experience of abortion and in fact contradicts an enormous part of it, and the anti-abortion discourse and imagery that may actually be more closely aligned to our experience but is based in values we do not share?"

I STRONGLY ENCOURAGE YOU TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE.  It is written by someone within the pro-choice camp and I believe it is a startling and honest picture.  Al Mohler writes concerning this article in the New York Magazine that, "it just might be the most important article on this issue in recent history."

Read more: Just How Pro-Choice Is America, Really? -- New York Magazine

Read Al Mohler's blog article here:

Pressing on for life,


Fifteen Pro-Life Truths to Speak

A few of us are helping to get a pro-life group started in our area.  We do this out of love for our God and for people.  This Thursday we are throwing a party to raise awareness and resources for our local crisis pregnancy center.  So, the topics of abortion and pro-life issues are on my mind and thus I thought I'd post a resource from John Piper on this subject.  Maybe our Lord will use it in your life and witness in our labor of love.

"You will know the truth and the truth will set you free." - Jesus Christ

1. Existing fetal homicide laws make a man guilty of manslaughter if he kills the baby in a mother's womb (except in the case of abortion).

2. Fetal surgery is performed on babies in the womb to save them while another child the same age is being legally destroyed.

3. Babies can sometimes survive on their own at 23 or 24 weeks, but abortion is legal beyond this limit.

4. Living on its own is not the criterion of human personhood, as we know from the use of respirators and dialysis.

5. Size is irrelevant to human personhood, as we know from the difference between a one-week-old and a six-year-old.

6. Developed reasoning powers are not the criterion of personhood, as we know from the capacities of three-month-old babies.

7. Infants in the womb are human beings scientifically by virtue of their genetic make up.

8. Ultrasound has given a stunning window on the womb that shows the unborn at eight weeks sucking his thumb, recoiling from pricking, responding to sound. All the organs are present, the brain is functioning, the heart is pumping, the liver is making blood cells, the kidneys are cleaning fluids, and there is a fingerprint. Virtually all abortions happen later than this date.

9. Justice dictates that when two legitimate rights conflict, the limitation of rights that does the least harm is the most just. Bearing a child for adoption does less harm than killing him.

10. Justice dictates that when either of two people must be inconvenienced or hurt to alleviate their united predicament, the one who bore the greater responsibility for the predicament should bear more of the inconvenience or hurt to alleviate it.

11. Justice dictates that a person may not coerce harm on another person by threatening voluntary harm on themselves.

12. The outcast and the disadvantaged and exploited are to be cared for in a special way, especially those with no voice of their own.

13. What is happening in the womb is the unique person-nurturing work of God, who alone has the right to give and take life.

14. There are countless clinics that offer life and hope to both mother and child (and father and parents), with care of every kind lovingly provided by people who will meet every need they can.

15.Jesus Christ can forgive all sins, and will give all who trusts him the help they need to do everything that life requires.

You can see the original posting here:
Also, the beginnings of the Cherokee County For Life web page is here:
Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: 
May our Lord bless you as you live in service to others.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Advent Candles

Shelly and I desire to keep Christ the central focus of our household.  We are always on the lookout for ways to worship as a family and to attach meaningful symbols to our holiday celebrations.  Over and over agian we have been blessed by the ministry of Noel Piper.  Below is a short blog post that Noel has published on the topic of Advent Candles.

By Noel Piper

Advent Candles probably are the most common Advent symbolism of looking back to the days of waiting for the Messiah God had promised.

Various helpful schemes of symbolism can be attached to Advent candles, their number, and color. But here are the basics—one candle for each of the Sundays of Advent, and if you wish, a fifth for Christmas Day. Some people have a special candle holder arrangement, a wreath maybe. That’s nice but not necessary. The only requirement for using Advent candles is candles.

On the first Sunday, only one candle will be lit, then two on the second, and so forth. That’s the ritual. But if we want our Advent candles to be more than a centerpiece, we have to ask ourselves, “What makes these more than wax and wick?”

The flame is a symbol of the one who is called “the light of the world.” We who follow him “will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

But we need to remember that our very young children will see only candles. No matter how much we explain the symbolism, they need some more years before they can comprehend it. That’s why I usually incorporate a manger scene into our Advent candle arrangement. Tangible is my guiding word. What children can see and touch, they might understand a little more clearly. It’s helpful for us adults as well. These candles are pointing us toward God’s gift of Jesus.

On Advent Sundays, we Pipers gather at the table for a meal and hear a word from the Bible before lighting the next candle. When the children were younger, each week’s passage probably would be one part of the Christmas story from Matthew or Luke. As they grew older, we expanded to include Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah’s coming. Then on other days, whenever we sit at the dining room table where the candles are the centerpiece, we light that week’s number of candles.

The light, brighter by the week, points us toward Jesus who has called us to be “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that [we] may proclaim the excellencies of him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

You can see the original post here:

The Doctrines of Grace

God, who is glorious beyond description, has lavished His love on undeserving sinners with whom I readily identify. The salvation of sinful people is an act of God’s grace. In it He is magnificently glorified. His mercy and love are magnified as he forgives guilty sinners and His justice and wrath are magnified as He demonstrates His hatred of sin by not merely ignoring sins but by Christ bearing His wrath. Many people have a difficult time accepting the understanding of God’s grace that is sometimes called Calvinism. The basics of the Doctrines of Grace can be remembered by the acronym TULIP:

Total Depravity: This does not mean that all people are as sinful as they could possibly be, but that every aspect of human nature is infected and affected by our sinfulness. This is man's natural condition apart from any grace exerted by God to restrain or transform him.

We were dead in our trespasses. (Ephesians 2:5)

The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:7–8)

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

Unconditional Election: God has chosen or elected some people to receive his grace of salvation based solely on the kind intention of His will and not on any condition met by the individual. In other words, God chose, before the foundation of the world, those that would be set free from the bondage of sin by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in repentance and faith.

He chose us in him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4).

As many as were appointed to eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48)

"I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. (Romans 9:15–16)

God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise. (1 Corinthians 1:27)

Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened. (Romans 11:7; cf. 9:11–12; John 6:37)

My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me. (Isaiah 43:10)

Limited Atonement: The atonement is the work of God in Christ on the cross whereby he canceled the debt of our sin, appeased his holy wrath against us, and won for us all the benefits of salvation. This atonement is available for all who will repent and believe. The atonement is available to all but will be effective for the elect bride for whom Christ died.

Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. (Ephesians 5:25)

I lay down my life for the sheep. (John 10:15)

I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. . . . And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. (John 17:9, 19)

Irresistible Grace: God in His sovereign grace destroys every barrier that would keep one from continuing in rebellion toward Him. This does not mean that He saves people against their wills but that He changes their wills so that they willingly receive Him.

Even when we were dead in our trespasses, he made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:5)

No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father. (John 6:65)

God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 2:25
Perseverance of the Saints: Those that God has graciously chosen and saved will continue in the fight of faith; God will work in them so that they persevere.

Those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:30)

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:27–28)

I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. (Philippians 3:12)

Salvation truly is an act of the grace of God. May you rest in Him and pursue Him.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

New Family Pictures

A few weeks ago we went to get some family pictures taken.  Here are a few of my favorites.

These photos were taken in Tahlequah by Cassy Pack -

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Twilight the Movie - How Should Christians Think About it?

I have to admit right off that I have not yet seen the movies or read any of the books.  I know, you're thinking, "then why are you writing about it?!?"  Well, I just finished listening to a radio podcast from Issues Etc. where the twilight phenomenom was discussed and I felt they handled the discussion fairly and biblically.  So what I'm offering here is a link to the pastor's website where he reviewed the series after watching the first movie and reading the books that were available.  I would encourage thinking Christians to read and consider what pastor Rick Stuckwisch had to say.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How Can I Answer Those Opposed to Christianity? The Columbo Tactic

"The belief in God is irrational."  "The Bible is full of errors."  "It is ridiculous to believe that Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven."  How can you handle questions like this?  One way to help steer a conversation in a positive direction is to use The Columbo Tactic.
"The key to the Columbo tactic is that the Christian goes on the offensive in a disarming way with carefully selected questions to productively advance the conversation. If you hit a roadblock when witnessing, ask a good question. There are three basic ways to use the Columbo tactic that can tame the most belligerent critic, each launched by a different question. Three uses, three questions:

1. To gain information and stay out of the "hot seat" - "What do you mean by that?"

2. To reverse the burden of proof - "Now how did you come to that conclusion?"

3. To indirectly exploit a weakness or a flaw in someone's views - "Have you considered...(then finish the sentence by offering an alternative view that gently challenges his/her beliefs, possibly exposing a point of weaknesss you uncovered in the answers to your first two questions. For example, "Have you ever considered that the existence of evil is actually evidence FOR the existence of God, not against it?")
This quote was taken from Greg Koukl's Ambassador Basic Curriculum, "Tactics in Defending the Faith" which can be obtained at his website,  Hopefully this will can serve you as you seek to be a faithful of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Monday, November 30, 2009

I'm Holding a Miracle

My friend Jason French wrote and produced a beautiful song entitled "I'm Holding a Miracle" to display the God-wrought miracle of human life.  Below is a video he made to go with it.  (By the way, the child quoting Scripture in the song is his son.)

And along these lines the Cherokee County for Life group is hosting a "Party with a Purpose" on Thursday, December 10, 2009 from 6 to 8pm.  This is a chance for like-minded people in our area to get together for the cause of life and support the babies of mothers who choose life.  The idea is to bring a gift for these children that will be donated to the Pregnancy Center of Tahlequah.  Please come join us in the fight for the lives of the unborn.

How Should I Share My Faith?

When we share should we share our personal testimony or the Gospel?  What do people need to hear?  The content of what we say to unbelievers really does matter.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Should Christians Suffer? Part 3

In the first two parts of this series I sought to demonstrate that suffering is both proper for Christians and good for Christians. But that is not to say that it is fun. In fact I don’t want to suffer and I’m sure you don’t either. But how are we to handle it? We will suffer; it is God’s will for us; so how should we respond when the rough times come?

How are Christians supposed to respond to suffering? Consider the following verses:

Romans 5:3, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces…”

James 1 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces…”

Colossians 1:24, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake,”

Acts 8:1-8, “And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. 4 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. 5 Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. 6 And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was much joy in that city."

How are we to respond? Respond with joy because you know that God is working something wonderful in our suffering and as it happens preach the Gospel!

You are going to suffer. I don’t know what form it will take but I know that God has good purposes in the suffering of believers.

Many people are familiar with the story of Corrie ten Boom. She and her family hid Jews during the Holocaust. They were eventually discovered and taken to concentration camps. Corrie faced incredible hardships but fought to look to Christ in them. She wrote a poem that paints a beautiful picture of the suffering of God’s children:

My life is but a weaving between my God and me,
I do not choose the colors; He works so steadily.
Oft times He weaves in sorrow, and I in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper, and me the underside.
Not till the loom is silent, and the shuttles cease to fly,
Will God unroll the canvas, and explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful in the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.
Will you endure suffering, even finding a joy in it, knowing and showing that Jesus is more valuable than all that life can give and all that death can take?

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose” (Jim Elliott).

Should Christians Suffer? Part 2

In the last blog I endeavored to show from Scripture that suffering is part of the normal Christian life, in fact it is God’s will for His children. In this posting I’ll seek to explore a bit of the purpose for the suffering of God’s people.

Why do Christians suffer? Why would God will that His children have pain when He has the power to stop it?

First I want to remind us that suffering comes in all shapes and sizes. In 2 Corinthians 4 Paul lists afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hungers, treated as imposters, being unknown, dying, punished, sorrowful, poor, and possessing nothing. Wow, not a pretty picture. And James simply says that we face trials of various kinds.

But again, why? Why do we suffer? I want to mention two big reasons for Christian suffering: 1. It is for our spiritual growth; and 2. It is for our Gospel witness.

1. For our spiritual growth:

Romans 5:3-4, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,”

James 1:2-4, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Hebrews 12:10-11, “he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Painful discipline from God is for our good.

Think about what Hebrews is telling us: without God-ordained struggles we won’t be very holy – very set apart. And notice what it says – it’s not fun BUT it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those trained by it.

Trials will come; will you be trained by them or fight against them? When you plant a seed what do you do? You have to break up the soil so the seed can go down in it. That’s the kind of picture we have here. God kind of breaks up the worldliness in us to implant His holiness deep within us.

And one last place I want to look at to see this idea is 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

How serious were Paul’s sufferings? They were massive as we’ve already seen. And yet what does he call them? “Light momentary affliction.” Compared to what he will gain his struggles are as nothing. But how can he think this way? Look at those last verses again – all the comforts in this world are not going to last anyway. He lived for what would last – “an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”

Again, we are reminded that suffering is part of normal Christian experience and it is designed for our spiritual growth.

2. Not only do Christians suffer for our spiritual growth but we endure suffering for our Gospel witness. When believers endure hard times with solid faith in the goodness of God in Christ Jesus unbelievers take notice.

Colossians 1:24, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,” – Paul suffered to bring the Gospel to people.

Acts 9:16, “For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” In order for the Gospel to go out it will take some discomfort. This doesn’t mean you go looking for pain but for the sake of God’s chosen people you are willing to joyfully endure pain.

In fact one church father, Tertullian, wrote that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. And we’ve seen this over and over again.

Many have seen the movie, The End of the Spear, that gives a brief picture of the missionary work and martyrdom of Nate Saint. Here we see a vivid picture of how God used the death and sufferings of His children to bring many people unto Himself.

Our suffering shows the world that Jesus is more valuable than all that this life can give and all that death can take.

Suffering is God-ordained for our growth and our Gospel witness. But is suffering easy and fun? No. Then how are we supposed to respond to it? We’ll look at this in my next posting.

Should Christians Suffer? Part 1

Suffering is part of life. Everyone suffers from time to time: deaths, illnesses, injuries, mistreatments, injustices, etc… But is this God’s will for His children? Are Christians meant to suffer?

In 1 Thessalonians Paul is concerned for his recent converts to Christianity because they are suffering great conflict, just as he had and just as he had told them they would. He is writing to encourage and strengthen them in their faith so that they will not be shaken. Paul writes,
“Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and God's coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know.” (1 Thes. 3:1-4)
We know that Paul had seen many come to saving faith and had been run out of town by a jealous, angry mob for preaching Christ (Acts 17:1-9). And here we see again Paul’s heart of love for these believers. He does not avoid the subject of suffering but he sees himself as a pastor who has a job of preparing his people to suffer.

For us, the topic of suffering is one we often avoid. I mean, no one wants discomfort and pain. And some even go so far as to teach that Christians are not supposed to suffer. They teach that if we are suffering then we have a lack of faith or have some sin in our lives. But is this true? Is suffering really from a lack of faith or is suffering supposed to be a part of the normal Christian life?

Christians do suffer, but why do they suffer? And since it does happen, how should we respond to suffering? Those are the three main questions that we are going to look at in this blog series: 1. Is suffering supposed to be a part of the Christian life?; 2. Why do Christians suffer?; and 3. How should Christians respond to suffering?

Is suffering supposed to be a part of the Christian life? Or is it a lack of faith? In other words, should Christians suffer?

Let’s think about it. Did the apostle Paul lack faith? How does the Bible portray him?

Philippians 1:21 “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Philippians 3:8 “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”

It would seem pretty clear that Paul did not lack faith, so then did Paul suffer? In 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 Paul describes some of what he had been through, “with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.”

Ya, I think Paul suffered.

Here’s the truth: suffering is God’s will. I’m just going to put up a few texts that I think show this truth quite clearly:

1 Thessalonians 3:3, “that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this.”

Philippians 1:29, “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake”

And think of the words of Jesus in Luke 9:23-25, “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”

Or in John 15:20, “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”

Or Paul’s words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:5, “As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

It is God’s will that His children suffer. It is not about a lack of faith, but in a sense you could say it is because of their faith.

BUT WHY?!? What is the purpose of Christian suffering? Why is suffering God’s will? We’ll look at the “why” in part two of this blog.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sexual Detox

Today, as you know, a guy needs only to turn on his computer and, within two or three clicks of the mouse, he can have unlimited access to unlimited amounts of pornography.  Today it is actually far more difficult to avoid pornography than it is to find it.
This quote comes from a helpful, free e-book by Tim Challies entitled, "Sexual Detox, A Guide for the Married Guy."  I just finished reading this and would now put it in my top two or three resources for our battle against sexual sin.  Tim does a phenominal job of showing the dangers of lust and pornography from a biblical perspective.  One of the best chapters, in my opinion, is entitled, "A Theology of Sex," where he does a masterful job of showing the God-designed beauty and intent of sex. 

Let's face it guys, lust and pornography are HUGE struggles with men today.  I say "today" because as Tim wrote, porn is far more difficult, in our day, to avoid than to find.  I have counseled numerous young men (and even not so young men) who struggle with the guilt and negative effects of lust and pornography.

Men, God has a better plan for you.  Not a plan of withholding something good and wonderful, but of helping you enter into something good and wonderful and helping you to avoid incredible guilt and pain.  I would urge you to give this little e-book a read (it's only 29 pages long) and enter into the blessing that our Creator has for us.

Sexual Detox A Guide for the Single Guy

Sexual Detox A Guide for the Married Guy

Two of the Greatest Words in the Bible

I am meeting with a young man and we are spending a few weeks studying the four components of the Gospel: God, sin, Christ, response.  This week we are spending our quiet times looking at what the Bible teaches on the topic of sin or the sinfulness of man.  This morning I was working my way through Ephesians 2:1-3 which says,
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
You gotta admit it's a pretty bleak picture.  But now this leads me to the title of this post.  Yes the state of humanity is horrendeous, but then you get to the first two words (at least in the English version) of verse 4, "But God."  But God.  There is no hope for mankind except in those two wonderful words - But God.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved... (Ephesians 2:4-5)
Those two words are so glorious.  They introduce this amazing God who saves His rebellious enemies through His own plan and work in the life, death, burial, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.  I pray you have seen the wonder and awesomeness of this God and respond to Him by turning from your own self-directed-way and placing your full hope in the Lord Jesus Christ.  And if you have already done this, that you would stand amazed again today.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Be Still

"Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth" (Psalm 46:10). I was reminded in my reading this morning of God. He truly will be exalted. No matter the turmoil around me, He is still in control and He will be exalted. I love the New American Standard version of this verse that says, “Cease striving.” There is a great rest knowing that God is unassailable and His purposes will stand. The challenge I see is to keep before me my purpose: to know Him and to glorify Him by enjoying Him. He is my “refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.” Oh how easy it is to look at the tumult and not look to Him with eyes of faith. He will be exalted. Be still.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Why Pro-Life?

When speaking with someone about abortion and pro-life issues, what can you say? Many people simply will not accept our Christian reasoning; they reject the Bible as God's Word and will not hear the truth of our arguments. I ran across a simple acrostic a while back that has been helpful for me in questioning a pro-abortion stance. The acrostic is "sled," S.L.E.D. I wish I remembered where I found this but here it is nonetheless.

Size: True, embryos are smaller than newborns and adults, but why is that relevant? Do we really want to say that large people are more human than small ones? Men are generally larger than women, but that doesn't mean that they deserve more rights. Size doesn't equal value.

Level of Development: True, embryos and fetuses are less developed than you and I. But again, why is that relevant? Four year-old girls are less developed than fourteen year-old ones. Should older children have more rights than their younger siblings? Some people say that self-awareness makes one human. But if that is true, newborns do not qualify as valuable human beings. Six-week old infants lack the immediate capacity for performing human mental functions, as do the reversibly comatose, the sleeping, and those with Alzheimer's Disease.

Environment: Where you are has no bearing on why you are. Does your value change when you cross the street or roll over in bed. If not, how can a journey of eight inches down the birth-canal suddenly change the essential nature of the unborn from non-human to human? If the unborn are not already human, merely changing their location can't make them valuable.

Degree of Dependency: If viability makes us human, than all those who depend on insulin or kidney medication are not valuable and we may kill them. Conjoined twins who share blood type and bodily systems also have no right to life.

In short, it's far more reasonable to argue that although humans differ immensely with respect to talents, accomplishments, and degrees of development, they are nonetheless equal because they share a common human nature.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Elders' Meetings That Do Something

On his website Jim Eliff gives a great challenge for elders/pastors to consider:

Elders' meetings should not be an exercise in futility. Rather, to be effective for the church and interesting for the elders, some thought must be put into your time together.

Some suggestions:

1. Plan for meeting together more often and for a longer period of time.

We find meeting for at least four hours weekly is about right, 6-10 pm. Even then we find that we want more time. In fact, before one of our elders changed jobs, we would meet from 5-10 pm. The “once-a-month elders’ meeting” is the kiss of death for most elder teams. It usually means that the elders do not understand their responsibilities and are mere figure heads. Don’t die from pastoral atrophy.

We like to make our meetings enjoyable. We start out by eating an inexpensive meal together, for instance. We might do this in a restaurant or at one of our homes by bringing in pizza. Sometimes we include our wives, so that they can enjoy visiting with each other while we meet. Occasionally, the entire family of each elder joins us. The elders then pull aside in a separate place for their meeting. The meal cost is on the church in order to provide us extra time to be together. It’s a reasonable perk for hard working elders.

If a man cannot make this time commitment (and there is more ministry time needed besides this) then he should not be an elder. There are many good men who do not have the time to serve as an elder. You are not really pastoring people if you don’t do the work.

2. Challenge each other spiritually.

Again, if you only meet a short time, you will miss this important element. We sometimes ponder six characteristics of leadership: Character, knowledge, skills, affection, faith and enthusiasm. Give an honest report of your lives. Challenge each other with insights from Scripture and experience. Be honest. Repent in each other’s presence. Be direct with each other. Good men will love it. Petty men cannot stand it. But petty men are not to be elders.

3. Discuss the state of the flock.

I know that every church is not set up the same, but most healthy churches share actual pastoral oversight responsibilities among the elders. This usually takes means that a segment of the church is under each elder’s direct care, such as might be accomplished through home cell groups of some kind. For us, we divide the entire church into several “congregations” each led by a pastor. The congregations have between 15 and 35 people, depending on how new the group is. If you do not have such a breakdown of the church, it is nearly impossible to actually shepherd the people.

We find that taking some time to talk about issues among the congregations is our pastoral responsibility. We share our insights about how to handle certain problems that come up, or how to stimulate those under our individual “charge.” This takes quite a bit of our time together (usually 45 minutes to an hour), but it is well worth it.

4. Have an agenda.

Not everyone is organized. One of our elders is better at this than the rest of us. He enjoys putting together the agenda of items to work through each week. Find out who does this the best and let him lead you. Other elders can shoot agenda items to him by email or phone call so that he is fully prepared. This does not mean that all discussion is led by this elder, but only that he moves you through the evening. Forget Robert’s Rules of Order, which is great for running the legislature but lousy for running churches and elders’ meetings. The church is a family, not a nation. It is helpful for the group to make assignments with end dates for the agenda keeper to highlight to the group. Having an agenda makes sense, but don’t let the group slide into acting just like a management team at your work.

5. Actually pray for individuals and issues being faced.

The elders must be pray-ers. This is a portion of your time together that is so important it cannot be overlooked. It is not tacked on to the end of a meeting, but a major reason you are coming together. We find praying about “one item at a time” is best, with the freedom to pray as often as we wish. Sometimes we ask each elder to pray about members of his own group particularly. If necessary, we can walk and pray, or do something else to give us focus and keep us energetic.

If all the rest of the church prayed like the elders pray, how effective would your church be?

6. Study together toward a unified position on difficult issues.

This is the most often missed facet of elders working together. It is the responsibility of every elder to be “holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict” (Titus 1:9).

We’ve used this time for much profitable discussion concerning vital biblical issues. Our longest study actually lasted two years, more time than most will want to spend on an issue. But this study has turned into a book that we hope will be of great use to the churches. Usually a study on a particular subject will take months, however.

Start with reading over the biblical material on the subject of interest. For instance, you may wish to come to a conclusion about who should take the Lord’s Supper, or what the Bible has to say about the prerequisites for joining a church, or about women’s roles in the church, or about divorce and remarriage, or who is allowed to be an elder, or what the real responsibilities of a deacon should be. Once you have an issue that is of pastoral importance, try to find every biblical reference to it. Go through that material first as carefully as possible, painfully working through each word and phrase. Decide on a “scribe” who can take notes carefully.

Next, you may wish to read a couple of books on the subject, perhaps on various sides of the issue. There may be one or two elders who read even more broadly on behalf of the group.

Attempt to craft a position statement on the subject. It might be short or long. You should labor over the wording until you are all in perfect agreement, reading and rereading it. This is not wasted time. It serves to get the position deep into each elder.

Following this, take the men of the church through a biblical study of the subject. Read slowly and carefully through your position, looking up the passages and talking about every aspect. Listen to their input and reshape the document as needed. If it won’t fly among the men, it won’t fly in the church as a whole. If it is received on this level, it will likely be enthusiastically received by the church.

Finally, present the document to the church as a whole. Or, if it is a matter pertaining only to the elders, keep your findings in your own notebook of positions about various issues of leadership and oversight. When appropriate, post these position statements on your website. This will help incoming members and guests to understand better what is expected and what the beliefs and actions of the church are. It will also demonstrate that the church is interested in being biblical above being pragmatic.

Usually an hour and a half of our meeting is devoted to such study, or more if possible. One of our men is particularly good at shaping what we talk about into a draft to discuss and perfect.

You will find that elders will own these studied positions and will be able to carefully lead others with conviction and biblical insight.

7. Make these meetings non-optional.

Every elder must make meeting together a priority. Some men who travel might not find it possible to be in town for such meetings on a regular basis. Consider changing your travel schedule or stepping down from leadership. The meetings are too important to miss. It is disappointing to the whole team for one member to fail to be there. It often means that critical issues will be misunderstood.

There is much more to do as elders than meet together. But it is nearly impossible to do the work you are called upon to do without meeting. It would be akin to asking a man and woman to parent a family when they never talk about what is needed or expected. It simply cannot be done correctly without prolonged and intimate discussion.

Copyright © 2008 Jim Elliff
Christian Communicators Worldwide, Inc.
Permission granted for not-for-sale reproduction in unedited form
including author's name, title, complete content, copyright and weblink.
Other uses require written permission.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How Good Do I Have To Be?

Earlier this morning I was looking up various passages dealing with the sovereignty of God and especially those dealing with His choosing of people. Of course this led me to the book of Romans chapter 9. I was again blown away by this amazing God who does all things for His own glory. As I read I was struck by the words at the end of the chapter,
What shall we say, then? That the Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it tis written, "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame."

I was again confronted by the Good News, the Gospel. This is the good news that God can and does declare unrighteous people (me) to be righteous. A good standing before God is not something that anyone can work for. God alone is righteous and He alone can impute righteousness to us and He does not do it based on our merit but rather He makes the sinner righteous who is trusting in His Son. He alone gets the glory. None will stand justified before Him on their own merit. But to those who trust not in themselves but in Him who justifies, they are saved by grace through faith.

What an amazing God. Let my pride fall; I have nothing in myself of which to boast. Let my guilty conscience rest; I have been declared righteous before this holy God forever. Hallelujah!!! What a Savior!!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Wisdom From The Past: The Nicene Creed

One of the dangers I see in our generation is that we tend to try to discern what the Bible is teaching on our own without considering what others have studied and learned. Here is a good biblical summary of truth from antiquity (originally adopted in 325):

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

9 Ways to Know the Gospel of Christ is True

by John Piper

1. Jesus Christ, as he is presented to us in the New Testament, and as he stands forth from all its writings, is too single and too great to have been invented so uniformly by all these writers.

The force of Jesus Christ unleashed these writings; the writings did not create the force. Jesus is far bigger and more compelling than any of his witnesses. His reality stands behind these writings as a great, global event stands behind a thousand newscasters. Something stupendous unleashed these diverse witnesses to tell these stunning and varied, yet unified, stories of Jesus Christ.

2. Nobody has ever explained the empty tomb of Jesus in the hostile environment of Jerusalem where the enemies of Jesus would have given anything to produce the corpse, but could not.

The earliest attempts to cover the scandal of resurrection were manifestly contradictory to all human experience—disciples do not steal a body (Matthew 28:13) and then sacrifice their lives to preach a glorious gospel of grace on the basis of the deception. Modern theories that Jesus didn't die but swooned, and then awoke in the tomb and moved the stone and tricked his skeptical disciples into believing he was risen as the Lord of the universe don't persuade.

3. Cynical opponents of Christianity abounded where claims were made that many eyewitnesses were available to consult concerning the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

"After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep" (1 Corinthians 15:6). Such claims would be exposed as immediate falsehood if they could. But we know of no exposure. Eyewitnesses of the risen Lord abounded when the crucial claims were being made.

4. The early church was an indomitable force of faith and love and sacrifice on the basis of the reality of Jesus Christ.

The character of this church, and the nature of the gospel of grace and forgiveness, and the undaunted courage of men and women—even unto death—do not fit the hypothesis of mass hysteria. They simply were not like that. Something utterly real and magnificent had happened in the world and they were close enough to know it, and be assured of it, and be gripped by its power. That something was Jesus Christ, as all of them testified, even as they died singing.

5. The prophesies of the Old Testament find stunning fulfillment in the history of Jesus Christ.

The witness to these fulfillments are too many, too diverse, too subtle and too interwoven into the history of the New Testament church and its many writings to be fabricated by some great conspiracy. Down to the details, Jesus Christ fulfilled dozens of Old Testament prophecies that vindicate his truth.

6. The witnesses to Jesus Christ who wrote the New Testament gospels and letters are not gullible or deceitful or demented.

This is manifest from the writings themselves. The books bear the marks of intelligence and clear-headedness and maturity and a moral vision that is compelling. They win our trust as witnesses, especially when all taken together with one great unifying, but distinctively told, message about Jesus Christ.

7. The worldview that emerges from the writings of the New Testament makes more sense out of more reality than any other worldview.

It not only fits the human heart, but also the cosmos and history and God as he reveals himself in nature and conscience. Some may come to this conclusion after much reflection, others may arrive at this conviction by a pre-reflective, intuitive sense of the deep suitability of Christ and his message to the world that they know.

8. When one sees Christ as he is portrayed truly in the gospel, there shines forth a spiritual light that is a self-authenticating.

This is "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God" (2 Corinthians 4:6), and it is as immediately perceived by the Spirit-awakened heart as light is perceived by the open eye. The eye does not argue that there is light. It sees light.

9. When we see and believe the glory of God in the gospel, the Holy Spirit is given to us so that the love of God might be "poured out in our hearts" (Romans 5:5).

This experience of the love of God known in the heart through the gospel of Him who died for us while we were yet ungodly assures us that the hope awakened by all the evidences we have seen will not disappoint us.

Praise God for Pleasure!

Screwtape (speaking for the devil—"Our Father"—in The Screwtape Letters) says to one of his under-devils:

Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy's ground. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure. All the same, it is His invention, not ours. He made the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is encourage the humans to take the pleasures which our Enemy has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which he has forbidden.... An ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure is the formula.... To get a man's soul and give him nothing in return—that's what really gladdens Our Father's heart. (quoted in The Narnian, 189)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

How Not to Waste Your Life: Three Keys, Part 3

We've been looking at 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 and discussing three keys to not wasting your life.

1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.

The third key in this series is this:

Anticipate the Coming of Your Lord

Here is Paul’s great motivation. He lived in the reality that Jesus is going to come back.

But why is he calling the Thessalonian people his hope and joy and crown of boasting? Shouldn’t that be the Lord and not people? The picture here is that when Jesus comes back it won’t be just Paul and Jesus there but also these fellow Christians that God had used Paul to reach. It’s like Paul is saying, “When I see the Lord Jesus you are going to be my boast, you are going to be my joy, you are going to be the fulfillment of my hope.

Do you see this? This is our eternal reward: it is going to be the presence of people that we were responsible to lead to Christ, those that we influenced by our lives and our words and our praying. This is a call for us to spend our money, and time, and energy to reach people and love them and share the Good News of Jesus Christ crucified and raised from the dead, to share that with them. Look how he repeats this in v. 20, For you are our glory and joy. He’s saying, “You are it. You are what we live for in the presence of the Lord.”

Is it any wonder that Paul was successful. He lived in light of eternity. He live in the constant awareness that he would stand before God at His coming and he wanted to take as many with him as possible. He loved people, he understood his enemy, and he anticipated the coming of his Lord.

If you could begin to put those things into your life you will unlikely reach the end of your time saying, “I’ve wasted it.”

How Not to Waste Your Life: Three Keys, Part 2

How can we reach the end of our lives and not say, "I've wasted it! I've wasted it!"? In this series I'm exploring three keys that Paul speaks of in 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20, But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.

The first key we looked at was the need to genuinely love people.

Key #2: Understand Your Enemy
If you are going to be used of the Lord and not waste your life then you will come under satanic attack. I think that often in our culture we forget the reality and seriousness of spiritual warfare.

But how does satan hinder? The Bible shares many of his methods:
* He is the father of lies – so he lies and distorts the truth – Jn. 8:44
* He tempts believers – 1 Thes. 3:5
* He snatches the Word away – Matt. 13:
* He harasses, like he did to Job
* He disguises himself as an angel of light – 2 Cor. 11:14
* He accuses believers before God’s throne – Rev. 12:10
* He shakes up and distresses a life, like he did as he “sifted” Peter – Lk. 22:31
* He causes disease – Lk. 13, 16
* He possesses – Matt. 8:28
* He devours – 1 Peter 5:8
* He kills, he’s a murderer – Jn. 8:44
He has countless ways he can hinder and harm believers. Martin Luther said it well in a hymn, “For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe. His craft and power are great and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.”

Satan is all about attacking the church and church leaders. We saw this in Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5). And we read about it all over in Revelation in regards to the churches listed there in chapters 2 & 3.

Think about the scandals we hear about in regards to church leaders. Not that long ago we heard of an evangelical pastor who was caught hiring a male prostitute and buying drugs from him. And we know that Jesus said to Peter, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat (Lk. 22:31). And so here is satan focusing on Peter. And we know that Paul was given a thorn in the flesh that he describes as, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited (1 Cor. 12). Satan is always after church leaders.

And what does Satan want to do? Look at your text: he wants to hinder the progress. Hinder was a military term for tearing up roads or digging trenches to impede an enemy’s progress. Paul says that Satan is breaking up the road in front of him, “He has dug a bunch of trenches and I can’t get there.”

What are we do do?
Now, we have to ask ourselves, does this mean that Satan is too powerful? Should we run in fear? I mean why doesn’t Paul just say, “Satan I bind you!” Well to put it simply: because that’s not biblical. What we see in Scripture is that though Satan is opposing us, he is controlled by the providence of God. He can only do what God allows him to do and in the end even his hindrances serve God’s purposes. Paul’s thorn was used by God to show Paul’s weakenss and God’s strength. So here we have Satan successfully hindering Paul from going to Thessalonica but this could only happen because this fit in with God’s plans for the work that God had for Paul. James tells us, submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (Js. 4:7). No binding, just get close to God and try not to give in to the devil’s attacks.

So far we’ve seen our need to love genuinely people and to understand our enemy so that we will not waste our lives. Paul gives one other key, and we'll look at in the next post.

Until then, keep your eyes on Christ!


Just What is the Gospel?

THE GOOD NEWS (The Gospel)

The Good News is God's message for all people in all places. You can remember the Gospel by reminding yourself of these four points: God, man, Christ, response.

GOD – There is only one God and He has revealed Himself in the Bible. He is the Holy One, who is both transcendent and immanent. He is the creator of all and as Creator He has established the laws by which His creation is to operate, therefore He is the Lawgiver. As the Lawgiver He is also the Judge who will hold His creation accountable for their attitudes and actions.

MAN – All people have been created by God and for God. But man has rebelled against His Lord and stands guilty of breaking His laws (by lying, stealing, lusting, not honoring God above everything else, etc…). All sin must be punished and so man, on his own, stands guilty before God and without hope.

CHRIST – Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity and God’s Son, came to earth 2,000 years ago in human flesh to live the perfect life that people could not live and to die on the cross bearing the anger of God for the sins of men. He was buried and He rose from the dead three days later. He did this to display the justice and mercy of God in saving a people from their sins.

RESPONSE – The Bible tells us that we are to repent and believe. Repentance carries the idea of changing our minds, that is recognizing that we are guilty sinners and desiring to stop dishonoring the Lord. In repentance we seek to turn from our sins and in belief we turn to God. We believe that when Jesus Christ died that He took our sins with Him upon the cross and bore the wrath of God that we deserve. We believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that only through His sacrifice can we gain forgiveness of sins and eternal life. We are granted eternal life, not because we are good people, but because we are bad people who have been forgiven by the good God.

How Not to Waste Your Life: Three Keys, Part 1

John Piper relates the following story in his book, "Don't Waste Your Life"

For me as a boy, one of the most gripping illustrations my fiery father used was the story of aman converted in old age. The church had prayed for this man for decades. He was hard and resistant. But this time, for some reason, he showed up when my father was preaching. At the end of the service, during hymn, to everyone’s amazement he came and took my father’s hand. They sat down together on the front pew of the church as the people were dismissed. God opened his heart to the Gospel of Christ, and he was saved from his sins and given eternal life. But that did not stop him from sobbing and saying, as the tears ran down his wrinkled face – and what an impact it made on me to hear my father say this through his own tears – “I’ve wasted it! I’ve wasted it!” (DWYL pg. 12).

At some point in time we will realize what really matters in life. This will be either while we still live and can do something about it or it will be right after we die and see the reality of the after-life. I hoping for me and you that we won’t reach the end of our time here and say with this old man, “I’ve wasted it! I’ve wasted it!”

So what are we going to do? How can we gain the perspective and passion to live life to the fullest? I think we see this in the apostle Paul and we are going to look at a simple text that can give us some clues for not wasting our lives.

1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.

Key #1 - Genuinely Love People
The key in this first post is a call for us to love people. Paul loved the Thessalonians – truly, genuinely loved them, and he makes this clear over and over again in this text. This is in stark contrast to the Jews and false teachers who must have been questioning his love since he was still gone. Paul had only been there a few weeks before the Jews became jealous and formed a rioting mob and drove he and his companions out of the city (Acts 17).

He obviously had not wanted to leave. Look how he describes it, since we were torn away from you . The word used is the term for being orphaned. Paul was their spiritual father, or even earlier had described his care for them as (v. 7) But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. And here it’s like he had been ripped away from his children leaving them as orphans. That would break any parent’s heart.

Now what was Paul looking for? I mean, he said he endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face. He really longed and worked to be with them. Did he just want to come hang out and enjoy their company? No it wasn’t just friendship. In chapter 3 verse 10 he says, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith. He deeply cares for them and wants to see that they are helped in their walks with God. He doesn’t want them to fall away from the truth. what you see here is Paul genuinely loving, and genuinely concerned for these brothers and sisters in Christ.

What about us?
What we see for us is our need to genuinely love others. Do you really care about people? Are you seeing people around you as eternal souls that will either spend eternity with our Lord or away from His goodness, forever in His anger? For us to not waste our lives, we need to love others to the point that we are willing to sacrifice our time, money, and comfort to see them walking with Jesus Christ.

This is the first key to not wasting your life from our text in 1 Thessalonians. In the next two posts we'll look at the other two keys in the text; those of understanding your enemy and eagerly anticipating the coming of your Lord.

Until then keep your eyes on Christ,