A Fresh Look at Sunday

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It can be easy to take Sunday mornings for granted. For some of us, going to church is a routine developed years ago; for others, it is a fairly new part of our lives.

But I suspect for all of us there are times when we are tempted to “go on autopilot” – to attend out of habit and not reflect on what is happening when we gather as the people of God.

The following article encouraged me to consider afresh some of the amazing things that take place when the saints come together. I pray it will stir you as well.

The Wonder of Sunday Morning

I am looking forward to our time together this weekend!

–Pastor Greg

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Published in: | on March 25th, 2015 | Comments Off

One of the Respectable Sins…

First of all, Happy St. Paddy’s Day! Yes, I wore green, though in years past I usually forgot to don the one color most associated with my birth country. However, although I still somewhat petulantly believe that being born in Ireland should absolve one of having to wear green on St. Paddy’s Day, the drama that I receive (and pinches; that’s assault btw :)) have forced me to renegotiate my protocols.

That said, there is another day quickly approaching, which, if we’re honest, we pay far more attention to, in part because it involves something else that’s green: money! That’s right, I’m talking about everyone’s favorite day, Tax Day, April 15th, or the Ides of April as Shakespeare would have undoubtedly referred to it.

As Pastor Steve reminded us from Titus a few weeks ago, it is our duty as believers to honor the authority that God has placed over us, for as we do we obey and honor God. But the implications of this command are legion for our daily lives as Pastor Steve explained. One of the interesting related questions is, “What should our attitude be in the midst of honoring the earthly authorities placed over us?”

One of my favorite bloggers, Tim Challies, goes after this question in relation to paying taxes in this article titled, “Do You Pay Your Taxes Joyfully?”  It’s more than just resigning ourselves to do something as we inwardly despise the necessity.

I assume you pay your taxes, Christian, but…

Do You Pay Your Taxes Joyfully?

Thank God for His Grace!!!  May we be joyful in our obedience!

Geoff

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Published in: | on March 18th, 2015 | Comments Off

How to Honor the President

In this morning’s sermon from Titus 3:1-2, we discussed the responsibility of Christians to honor, submit to, and obey their leaders.

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

Paul gives a similar command in Romans 13, which he grounds in the fact that God is sovereign over all authorities and is the one who establishes leaders and governments.

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

Several people asked me after the sermon this morning what it looks like to pray for and honor our leaders when we disagree with them and their political views.  Someone pointed me to a helpful blog post by Mark Altrogge at the Blazing Center blog.  It is a short and easy read with some helpful instruction on how to pray for and honor our leaders.

I pray it is helpful to you in the pursuit of being the Christian citizen God has called each of us to be in the city of man while awaiting His glorious return!

What It Means and Does Not Mean to Honor Our President

To the Praise of His Glory!

Pastor Steve

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Published in: | on March 8th, 2015 | Comments Off

Burden Bearing

Paint CanRather than waiting until we can do something really “spectacular,” let’s daily be on the lookout for opportunities to help bear the burdens of others in simple, significant ways. I trust this post by Tim Challies will be a help as we seek to develop that servant perspective: An Extraordinary Skill for Ordinary Christians.

 

–Pastor Greg

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Published in: | on February 25th, 2015 | Comments Off

One of my favorite saints…

SpurgeonNope, not Drew Brees, though I like him. I’m speaking about those people who have surrendered their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ and acknowledged the finished work of the Son of God on the cross. When I say saints, I mean believers. And one of my favorite saints is C. H. Spurgeon. I know he’s a favorite of many folks out there, but I have only recently reacquainted myself with him.

I obviously don’t agree with everything he says, nor do I with any human but Christ, but I have been extremely blessed by the gift God gave this man to bring out the implications in a Bible text.  MandE

I recently purchased the edition of Spurgeon’s devotional, Morning and Evening, edited by Alistair Begg. It’s a wonderful little book, with short passages meant for Spurgeon’s congregation to ponder, based on a particular text. (I read this in conjunction with Scripture; I’m not advocating reading only devotionals.)

I wanted to share a line from this morning’s reading:”Afflictions are often the black foils in which God sets the jewels of His children’s graces, to make them shine brighter.” This particular morning’s section is in response to Job 10:2, and reflects on how the child of God responds to adversity. So. Good.

The entire section is available here.

Such a good reminder for me to see trials as they truly are. I pray it would be helpful to you.

Geoff

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Published in: | on February 20th, 2015 | Comments Off

Yeah, Well, But What About the Crusades?

In the background of this picture is what remains of a Crusade-era fortress just off the coast of Sidon, in present day Lebanon. Vestiges of battles long ago can still be seen today, and the on-going arguments of their causes and their lasting legacy also continue.

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Kevin DeYoung has recently written an article regarding the Crusades on the Gospel Coalition blog (Yeah, Well, What about the Crusades?). As Muslim and Christian relations are a hot topic these days, and since the Crusades are often used as an argument against the truth claims of our faith by unbelievers of all kinds, it would benefit every believer to have at least a cursory understanding of the Crusades. History can serve as a caution that our faith is not attached to any human leader or government, but is founded in the person of Jesus Christ, and we find who He is and what He demands in the pages of Scripture.

–Pastor Dave

 

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Published in: | on February 10th, 2015 | Comments Off

Biblical Dating: Is there such a thing?

We have just started a short series on dating in high school on Wednesday night.  It’s been a while since we’ve gone through the topic together.  No matter how many times we walk through this topic, I’m always a bit surprised to find how much of the world has tinged or even taken over our understanding of relationships of any kind.  That said, there are a ton of biblically based resources out there to refute the seemingly universal understanding of dating.  I would like to share one that has been very helpful for years now to me in walking through this touchy topic with students and parents. There are others, but this one has been of particular value.  It’s bible-saturated and bible-driven, which is especially hard to find:

The Biblical Dating Series by Scott Croft

Scott Croft was an elder at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in D.C. for many years. If you’re wondering what biblical dating might look like, this article is a good place to start.  Either way, whether it’s for you or to help with someone else, I have found this biblical treatment, and its associated Q&A section, very helpful.  I hope it’s helpful!

Geoff

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Published in: | on February 5th, 2015 | Comments Off

The Will of God

Pastor Greg and I have been reading some of the early church fathers together and are currently reading works by Cyprian of Carthage. It is amazing to read the writings of Christians who lived centuries ago yet share the same faith. Cyprian was a church elder in the third century and actually had oversight over a number of churches in North Africa. This was during a time of intense persecution of the church and many cyprian-of-carthage1Christians were martyred. During all of this, in his Treatise #4 on the Lord’s Prayer, Cyprian spells out in chapter 15 what God wants from us as Christians. It is a beautiful explanation of God’s will for us and I am hopeful that it will move you the way it moved me to call on God for more grace to live according to His will –

“Now that is the will of God which Christ both did and taught. Humility in conversation; steadfastness in faith; modesty in words; justice in deeds; mercifulness in works; discipline in morals; to be unable to do a wrong, and to be unable to bear a wrong when done; to keep peace with the brethren; to love God with all one’s heart; to love Him in that He is a Father; to fear Him in that He is God; to prefer nothing whatever to Christ, because He did not prefer anything to us; to adhere inseparably to His love; to stand by His cross bravely and faithfully; when there is any contest on behalf of His name and honor, to exhibit in discourse that constance wherewith we make confession; in torture, that confidence wherewith we do battle; in death, that patience whereby we are crowned; – this is to do the commandment of God; this is to fulfil the will of the Father.”

Fight on!

Jon Peirson, elder

1Tim 6:12

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Published in: | on January 28th, 2015 | Comments Off

What is Your Problem?

IM000643.JPGWhen I was in college, I had a 1968 Mustang. It was a fun car to have, but as with all old cars, it had a lot of problems. This was back in the day when you could actually work on your car yourself with some patience, a little know-how, and a basic set of tools. I remember one time the car was having trouble starting. I replaced the battery. It was an easy job. I went to Sears, bought a new one, removed two brackets, installed it, and guess what? The car didn’t start. The problem wasn’t the battery. Then I replaced the alternator. This was a more difficult job. It was harder to reach, and I had to wrestle with the belt, but after losing both some skin off my knuckles and my patience at least once, I had successfully installed a new alternator. The car still didn’t start. Then I discovered the solenoid. Yep, that was it. If I had known from the get-go that this was the real problem I could have saved myself a lot of time, money, and aggravation. It was a learning experience. What did I learn? I learned that I did not want to be a mechanic.

Well, what’s the point? The point is, you can’t find a solution until you’ve correctly identified the problem. We live in a world that is broken. It is filled with people who are broken. When God made all things, he declared that it was good. When he made man, he declared that it was very good. But that is not the world we live in now. We live on this side of Genesis, chapter three. We live in a world that is not the way it ought to be, and we contribute to the state of that world. Cornelius Plantiga, in his book NOT the Way it’s Supposed to Be – a breviary of sin, takes 200 pages to describe what is sin, its nature, and its effects. He says that before the fall of man in Genesis three, the creation was in a state of shalom; that is, the creation was living and working as intended, and in harmony with its Creator. When sin entered into the world, that shalom was broken, things became what they were not supposed to be, and this is the reality we know today. When Christ came, he showed us how things are supposed to be, and through his work on the cross and his resurrection, he made it possible for us to enter into life the way it was supposed to be.

Everyone knows the world is broken–that things are not as they should be–but not everyone agrees as to what the problem is. Some say it is injustice or a lack of education or opportunity. Some say it is economic inequality, social and relational isolation, a lack of green space or public parks in urban neighborhoods, etc. The common thread in all these supposed problems (and the list is never-ending) is that the problem is perceived to be outside and not inside of us. There is a famous story about G.K. Chesterton once being asked by a London newspaper what he thought was wrong with the world. He very quickly and succinctly replied, “I am.” Now, the story may actually be legend, but it does catch the wit and attitude of Chesterton, and, more importantly, it gets it right. What is wrong with the world is found inside of us, not outside of us. Sin is the problem, and it’s universal, and it’s fatal. The Bible clearly teaches that all have sinned (Psalm 14:2-3; Romans 3:9-18) and all are deserving of God’s wrath (John 3:16-21, 36; Ephesians 2:1-3). But the good news of Jesus Christ declares that we do not need to bear the wrath of God ourselves. Jesus took our punishment upon himself, so that through him, we might have life (Ephesians 2:4-10; Acts 10:43; Acts 4:12).

Now, unbelievers are blind to the reality of sin. Therefore, unbelievers cannot supply the solution to the problems of the world. Only the church, as it looks to and obeys the Scripture, can do this. I don’t mean to say that unbelievers cannot do good things. Unbelievers can be generous, they can dig wells and build hospitals, but they cannot address the root issues that branch out in all the tragic ways we witness each day. The best a society can do is create laws which prohibit evil and then prosecute those who violate such laws. However, the worst society can do is create laws which condone and promote evil and then prosecute those who violate such laws. And let me further clarify that it is God alone who can bring about the change. He graciously uses his people through the guidance and power of his word and his Spirit, but God alone can deliver a darkened and dead soul into the kingdom of his beloved Son. God alone can convict and convince a person that he or she is a sinner in need of a Savior.

Here’s my concern. In spite of thousands of years of human history that would testify otherwise, I still hear people say that man is basically good. Often in the midst of a political pep talk, you will hear someone extol the virtues of the goodness of man and exhort the crowds that if only we could come together in mutual understanding, we could make the world a better place. Hooey! I can understand why unsaved people say and believe this, but this is not what really concerns me. What really concerns me is that Christians believe this as well. This lie of the devil has crept into the Church and has sapped us of power. We will never see lasting change in our own lives, in our own battles with sin, until we humbly confess it is our main problem. Further, we can offer our culture nothing if we only offer them solutions that they can come up with in their own. Plantinga says it this way: “In short, for the Christian church…to ignore, euphemize, or otherwise mute the lethal reality of sin is to cut the nerve of the gospel. For the sober truth is that without full disclosure on sin, the gospel of grace becomes impertinent, unnecessary, and finally uninteresting.”

We must not forget what the Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthian church: “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-4)

–Pastor Dave

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Published in: | on January 15th, 2015 | Comments Off

Understanding God

BriefHistoryTimeStephen Hawking is the Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at Cambridge University. Debilitated for many years with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), he has nevertheless done much to make theoretical physics accessible to general readers. His A Brief History of Time defied all odds by becoming a worldwide bestseller despite the technical subjects it covered. He clearly is a gifted scientist and communicator.

A frequent figure on documentaries, Professor Hawking has again been in the news lately with the release of “The Theory of Everything,” a movie based on his life with first wife Jane Wilde. But what most caught my eye in recent weeks was not the movie publicity, but a NBC report of his interview with the Spanish newspaper El Mundo.[1] During the course of that interview Hawking clarified a comment made in A Brief History of Time, where he had said that discovering the unifying scientific principles known as the theory of everything would enable scientists to “know the mind of God.” In the El Mundo interview he made it clear that this statement was not to be understood as his believing there actually is a God:

 “Before we understand science, it is natural to believe that God created the universe. But now science offers a more convincing explanation. What I meant by ‘we would know the mind of God’ is, we would know everything that God would know, if there were a God, which there isn’t. I’m an atheist.”

 In that same interview he also said,

“In my opinion, there is no aspect of reality beyond the reach of the human mind.”

These are astonishing statements. Professor Hawking is indeed a brilliant theoretician, but the hubris reflected in these words is nonetheless staggering. The Bible makes it clear that not only is there a God, but his ways are incomprehensible to us. Consider these passages:

 As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number. (Job 5:8–9)

Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty? It is higher than heaven—what can you do? Deeper than Sheol—what can you know? Its measure is longer than the earth and broader than the sea. (Job 11:7–9)

Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand? (Job 26:14)

 God thunders wondrously with his voice; he does great things that we cannot comprehend. (Job 37:5)

 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. (Psalm 145:3)

 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9)

 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! (Romans 11:3)

 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 2:11)

Advanced degrees and impressive scientific learning do not ensure that we know or embrace the truth. As the Apostle Paul makes clear, our minds are hardened and veiled unless Christ intervenes. It is only when we turn to the Lord that the veil is removed (2 Corinthians 3:14–16).

Otherwise the sobering words from the opening chapter of Romans remain true for all who have not experienced this gracious, sovereign intervention on God’s part:

 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools (Romans 1:21–22)

May we humbly fall down and worship such an unfathomable God, glorying that he would make it possible for our sins to be forgiven so we can be in his holy, resplendent presence forever!

–Pastor Greg

[1] http://www.nbcnews.com/science/space/im-atheist-stephen-hawking-god-space-travel-n210076. Accessed December 17, 2014

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Published in: | on January 2nd, 2015 | Comments Off