Tag Archives: God

Behold Your God — It is Worth It

14 Jun

We are now in the middle of week three of Behold Your God. Many people are really enjoying the study and are growing through it. Others may be beginning to struggle with the daily work that needs to be done to get the most out of this study. Let me encourage you this morning to keep going.

Keep going because you have the time. Almost everybody reading this has the time to do this study. If you are reading this article but say you don’t have the time, stop reading blog articles and that should free up time right there. Set aside one TV program each day and you’ve got it. Set aside social media for 30 minutes and you’ve got it. Take it with you to work and do it at lunch. There are dozens of ways to make it work. You’ve got the time. Will you take the time?

Keep going because you can understand this material. You are intelligent and capable. Don’t sell yourself short. The mind is an amazing thing. It can develop and improve with use. Yes, you will have to think. Thinking is a huge part of Christianity (Rom. 12:2, Col. 3:1). You can do it. There may be things you don’t understand. That is ok. Don’t lose the benefits of the rest of the study because you can’t understand a few things.

Keep going because knowing God is the most important thing in your life (whether we know it or not) and this study can help you grow in significant ways.

Persevere, my friends. Great treasure is found by the one who digs in, not by the one who waits for it to fall into their lap.

 

 

Ramblings on a Saturday Night

12 Jul

I was too hot to stay inside. After sweating to the 80’s on the treadmill (yes, I’m old) I decided to come out on the front porch to see ol’ Super Moon. He’s really something, full and bright, so bright you can see the dark spots (there’s a sermon illustration in there somewhere).

There is a cricket hoedown going on out here but not much else. No, wait. A loud motorcycle just rolled by. Now some talking I can’t make out. Ever wonder why people seem to talk louder at night? Maybe you’ve never noticed that.

I know I should be sleeping. I’ve got to preach tomorrow. But I find I’m so excited that sleep is hard to come by. I know some of our members won’t have trouble sleeping tomorrow around 11 am. I’ve learned that what I’m excited about doesn’t always excite other people. Generally, I can brush it off. I tell myself they’re old or I’m just not their favorite person to listen to and that’s OK. But then I beat myself up sometimes. If only I had a better preacher voice. If only I could be more persuasive. If only. But then all my onlys seem so small when I think about the One I get to talk about. Surely He can make His own way in the world and He surely does. That He chooses to use any of us in any way is pure grace and that He actually does use us to impact others is proof that He is a miracle-working God.

Still though, it is a broken world, there’s no way around that. Joel Osteen’s shiny smile just doesn’t work in the world of cancer and famine and senseless crime. There’s got to be a deeper victory in this thing than a good parking space at the mall. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. How do we live in this world which is so filled with pain? We can surely ignore the pain. But we know deep down in our hearts that the pain of this broken world is always lurking in the shadows ready one day to pounce on us. And we know the moment we try to insulate ourselves from pain we’ve abandoned the great commandment to love God and love neighbor, for how can we truly say we love another if we don’t stand with them in their pain? So ignoring pain doesn’t cut it.

We can try to fight the brokenness. There is much to commend this approach. It is an act of caring to fight evil and sickness and pain or to provide support for those who are experiencing these things. But it is also exhausting. Ultimately, the pain is too big for us. As much as you try, you can’t care for everyone and the ones you care for you can’t care for equally. Further, the pain we fight often fights us, as we see the brokenness of the world the brokenness of our own hearts is revealed. Bitterness is often the companion of the activist, of the servant. “Why isn’t anyone helping me? Where is God? I thought this service thing would be more glamorous.” Souls shrink in the fight for good. There just aren’t any people in the world like Clark Kent. Nobody’s walking around with a big “S” on their undershirt just waiting for the right moment to save the day. None of us is saving the day. No one. We’re not even saving our own day. The only reason there are a thousand Self-help books on the shelf at Barnes and Noble is because we can’t help ourselves. Our efforts fall short time after time. How many times have you resolved not to give in to that bad habit?

So much pain and suffering. Where is God?

Here is the good news, the only good news worth living and dying for . . . God is here. He has entered this world of suffering. He left the glories of heaven to take on human flesh. He emptied himself by taking on flesh and becoming a servant. He humbled himself by dying, even dying on a cross. The brokenness of the world has been undone by Jesus who, out of love for the Father and us, entered the broken world and suffered the utmost punishment, bearing the sin of the world. We don’t have a God who created and then allowed His fallen creatures to go their own way. We have a God who entered the suffering of His fallen creation to redeem it. And redeem it He did. It is not complete. But the empty tomb and the Spirit are the foretastes of the coming reality. This is not the end. No matter what happens in our country or in our churches or in our own lives . . . the Lord reigns. He will put everything, including death and suffering, under His feet.

This is the God who is worthy of worship, an almighty God who is good enough to come suffer in your place. So worship Him today. Come with a sense of excitement to worship. Enter in heart and soul to song and prayer and sermon. Look for people to encourage in the things of God. Let your life be taken up with God, not only on Sunday but every day. Because a day is coming when there will be no Super Moon, no sun, only the light of God making all things new.

The Slide Toward the Death of a Church

4 Mar

“The first step down for any church is taken when it
surrenders its high opinion of God. Before the
Christan Church goes into eclipse anywhere there
must first be a corrupting of her simple basic
theology. She simply gets a wrong answer to the
question, “What is God like?” and goes on from there.
Though she may continue to cling to a sound nominal
creed, her practical working creed has become false.
The masses of her adherents come to believe that
God is different from what He actually is; and that is
heresy of the most insidious and deadly kind.”

A.W. Tozer

Mitt Romney’s Statement About God

18 Oct

In Tuesday night’s debate, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney gave the following answer to the question “What do you believe is the biggest misperception that the American people have about you as a man and a candidate?” —

“Thank you, and that’s an opportunity for me, and I
appreciate it.

In the nature of a campaign, it seems that some campaigns are
focused on attacking a person rather than prescribing their own future and the things they’d like to do. In the course of that, I think the president’s campaign has tried to characterize me as – as someone who’s very different than who I am.

I care about 100 percent of the American people. I want 100
percent of the American people to have a bright and prosperous future. I care about our kids. I understand what it takes to make a bright and prosperous future for America again. I spent my life in the private sector, not in government. I’m a guy who wants to help with the experience I have, the American people.

My – my passion probably flows from the fact that I believe in
God. And I believe we’re all children of the same God. I believe we
have a responsibility to care for one another. I – I served as a
missionary for my church. I served as a pastor in my congregation for about 10 years. I’ve sat across the table from people who were out of work and worked with them to try and find new work or to help them through tough times.

I went to the Olympics when they were in trouble to try and get
them on track. And as governor of my state, I was able to get 100
percent of my people insured, all my kids, about 98 percent of the
adults. I was able also to get our schools ranked number one in the
nation, so 100 percent of our kids would have a bright opportunity for a future.

I understand that I can get this country on track again.
We don’t have to settle for what we’re going through. We don’t have
to settle for gasoline at four bucks. We don’t have to settle for
unemployment at a chronically high level. We don’t have to settle for 47 million people on food stamps. We don’t have to settle for 50
percent of kids coming out of college not able to get work. We don’t
have to settle for 23 million people struggling to find a good job.

If I become president, I’ll get America working again. I will get us on track to a balanced budget. The president hasn’t. I will. I’ll make sure we can reform Medicare and Social Security to preserve
them for coming – coming generations. The president said he would. He didn’t.”

Now the phrase I have highlighted and underlined will be troubling to some Christians. The Bible is clear that while all people are created by God not all are His children. We become children of God by being united to God through faith in Jesus Christ (see John 1:12; Romans 9:8; Philippians 2:15; 1 John 3:1). So Romney’s statement is wrong according to this biblical definition of the phrase “children of God.” Further troubling is his use of the word “same.” It is indeed true that we are all created by the same God, for there is only one God. But to say that we are all children of the same God serves to flatten out and render as unimportant our religious distinctives, as if the same God is being worship by Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Mormons. This is demonstrably false because if this were the case God would be presenting Himself in deeply contradictory ways to different peoples of the world. There is no unifying center to world religions that points to one God behind them all. Further, in the view of most major religions, eternal issues are at stake in the key distinctives between them.

Does this mean Christians should never align themselves with those of other faiths to find practical solutions to societal problems? No, certainly I think there is a place for strategic alignment, but where this becomes problematic is when my cooperation with others forces me to devalue, diminish, or deny my own faith distinctives. I would have preferred Romney to draw the straight line our Founders drew when they spoke of being endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. If he had something like, “My passion probably flows from the fact that I believe in God. And because I believe God made us, I believe human life has great value and that we should do all we can to help people, from the youngest to the oldest, 100 percent of our people.”  This kind of a statement affirms belief in God without flattening that belief so that faith distinctives are made to seem unimportant.

There is a kind of general appeal that can be made to God’s existence which can motivate the actions of people from a variety of faiths but it is not found in the idea that humans are all one big family but that humans are all created by God. It’s is God’s authority rather than our common humanity that is the decisive factor. This points to the difference between God-given self-evident rights and self-created rights that come by the consent of society. If we are to speak of God in general terms at all, it is better in my judgment to speak in this way rather than in ways that serve to water down religious distinctives that many people hold dear and which in fact are eternally significant.

Charles Spurgeon on the Sovereignty of God

15 Nov

From Spurgeon’s Sermon on Matthew 20:15 . . .

There is no attribute more comforting to His children that that of God’s Sovereignty.  Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that Sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that Sovereignty overrules them, and that Sovereignty will sanctify them all.  There is nothing for which the children ought more earnestly to contend than the doctrine of their Master over all creation — the Kingship of God over all the works of His own hands — the Throne of God and His right to sit upon that Throne.  On the other hand, there in no doctrine more hated by worldlings, no truth of which they have made such a football, as the great, stupendous, but yet most certain doctrine of the Sovereignty of the infinite God.  Men will allow God to be everywhere except on His throne.  They will allow Him to be in His workshop to fashion worlds and to make stars.  They will allow Him to sustain the earth and bear up the pillars thereof, or light the lamps of heaven, or rule the waves of the ever-moving ocean, but when God ascends His throne, His creatures then gnash their teeth.  And we proclaim an enthroned God, and His right to do as He wills with His own, to dispose of His creatures as He thinks well, without consulting them in the matter; then it is that we are hissed and execrated, and then it is that men turn a deaf ear to us, for God on His throne is not the God they love.  But it is God upon the throne that we love to preach.  It is God upon His throne whom we trust.

May it be so for us.  May this be the God we love to preach and to hear preached.  May we trust in our reigning King.

The Video Clip: “Couldn’t be more beautifully designed.”

19 Sep

In yesterday’s sermon, while talking about the many ways God has demonstrated proof of His existence, I referenced a National Geographic video I saw a few months back which showed a group of scientists marveling over the lung structure of the giraffe.   What you will see in this video is an unguarded moment of honesty followed by the cover of presupposition.

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