Monthly Archives: June 2013

DON’T KNOW WHETHER TO LAUGH OR CRY

God’s Word is not open to our alteration and neither are biblical doctrines up for vote. God means all that He has conveyed in His Word and we are responsible to keep it clear and keep it all before us!

A HEAVENLY MANNER OF PRAYER

Anthony Burgess, the Puritan pastor (not the 20th century novelist), wrote deeply about prayer. While reading “A Puritan Theology” I came across this brief section which describes his reflections from Jesus prayer in John chapter 17.

Christ “lifted up his eyes to heaven” and prayed, says John 17:1.  From this, Burgess infers that all our prayers should come from a spiritual and heavenly heart.  The very definition of prayer is lifting the whole mind and soul to God.  “To pray is a far more difficult and noble exercise than most (people) are aware of,” Burgess says.  “It’s not running over a few words like a parrot.”  Burgess further explains heavenly minded prayer in the following points:

1.  It is necessary that the Spirit of God enable and move the soul to this duty (Romans 8). Without the fire of the Spirit, our prayers are like a body without a soul or birds without wings.

2.  A heavenly prayer must come from a heavenly heart that delights in heavenly things.  We should first seek God’s glory and spiritual blessings.

3.  Prayer is heavenly when it purifies and sanctifies the heart and affections for the enjoyment of God.

4.  A heavenly prayer stirs the heart to delight in heavenly things.  Prayer must not only be heavenly in nature but in its effects.  True prayer is like exercise to the body, making us more strong and active.  It is like the rich ship that brings in glorious returns from God.

From “A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life” by Joel Beeke and Mark Jones; pg. 380

FEELINGS

RC Sproul is one of the most revered biblical scholars of our generation who has written many shelves of books. Yet there is one book he has been tempted to write that has not found its way to paper (or for many of us to digital content). Sproul describes his idea in this quote:

“I have often been tempted to write a book by the title, The sensuous Christian.

“The sensuous Christian is one who lives by his feelings rather than through his understanding of the Word of God. The sensuous Christian cannot be moved to service, prayer or study unless he ‘feels like it.’ His Christian life is only as effective as the intensity of present feelings. When he experiences spiritual euphoria, he is a whirlwind of Godly activity; when he is depressed, he is a spiritual incompetent. He constantly seeks new and fresh spiritual experiences and uses them to determine the Word of God. His ‘inner feelings’ become the ultimate test of truth.”

“The sensuous Christian goes his merry way until he encounters the pain of life that is not so merry and he folds. He usually ends up embracing a kind of ‘relational theology’ (that most dreadful curse on modern Christianity) where personal relationships and experience take precedence over the Word of God. If the scripture calls us to action that may jeopardize a personal relationship, then the scripture must be compromised. The highest law of the sensuous Christian is that bad feelings must be avoided at all cost.”

From his book  “Knowing Scripture” 

NEWLYWED WISDOM

On the day Debbie and I were married; friends went around our outdoor reception with one of those big old clunky video cameras and asked people to share their advice for the newlyweds. After our honeymoon we received the fun gift of that video tape.

There were many words which meant a lot to us, (and a few that were forgettable). However two comments stood out to us. Actually it was one comment shared by two different people. Those two individuals happened to be our mothers! Without knowing what the other had said, they both gave the same advice which was to quote Ephesians 4:26:

 “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger”

Over the years there have been many lessons in our marriage that have been slowly (by me) learned. But I can say that we have been faithful to keep the wisdom of Ephesians 4:26. That by itself has protected our marriage from lists of offenses or hurts taking root and becoming bitterness.

Debbie in her wisdom, has taken this counsel a step further and faithful shares the words “I love you” before we go to sleep. When I have been in sour moods, those words are almost magical in the immediate affect they have had on my heart. I am reminded that yes I do love her, and I have only good reason to act that way.

I hope you will follow the good counsel of our mothers AND God’s word.

WEDDING THOUGHTS

On Saturday, my daughter Jillian, will be a bride. In the ceremony there will be a moment when she will appear at the end of the aisle and her groom will look upon her beauty with great love and appreciation in his heart.

In one of the amazing word pictures of the Bible, the Church is described as the Bride of Christ! And there will be a moment when all who are the redeemed will appear perfected and pure before the Lord Jesus who will shine in his eternal glory.

In that moment, our Savior’s heart will be thrilled, because the great purpose of his humility and sacrifice will be complete. He will welcome us with delight as we enter an eternity of love and harmony with him.

“Hallelujah!
For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”   Revelation 19:6-8

When we look at ourselves, or our churches – we see a lot of messiness and a long list of needed improvements. However, we should also see ourselves and our church as Christ does; as those who are even now being prepared to live in joy with him.

Oh, Praise Him! And rejoice in the great purposes of our Lord and Savior. How could he feel this way toward us? Because HE is so glorious!

May we see the church with the eyes of Jesus. And may we learn to abide in this indescribable love which holds us forever.

GRADUATION DAY

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by Debbie Huber

Today our youngest child Elyse graduates from high school.  I remember when she was young and I was feeling overwhelmed with raising three children that others would say to enjoy it now because time goes so fast. Even though I believed them, it did not seem real because of the busyness of the moment. So here we are today, on the verge of a new phase of our lives – and it really did go too fast.

Elyse is the daughter who would always give hugs.  She would chatter persistently on every car ride, happily maintaining the conversation even if no one else was talking!   I remember times when I may have been too busy for hugs or talking and those are regrets now, but God has given me a gracious daughter who still seems to enjoy hugging and talking to her mom.  She is a joy to Kyle and me with her constant sweet smile and encouraging disposition.

God is revealing to us the gifts he has given to Elyse and it is exciting to begin to see how God will use them for His glory.  He has provided many godly influences in our church, from the Sunday school teachers to her friends in the youth group to give her a love for missions and serving others.  I am excited to see how God will use her passion to be a sign language interpreter to reach the deaf community which is considered by missions’ organizations to be an unreached people group.  Christian deaf ministries estimate that only 1 percent of American deaf children will attend church as adults. Less than 7 percent will ever have the gospel presented to them in a way they can understand.   

We know that her future is in God’s hands and much of the day to day responsibility of raising her is done for us. I am praying that this will cause me to have an even greater love for and a dependency on spending time in prayer and God’s word because He loves her more than we do!  Because she is now an “adult”, it will not stop us from being a strong influence for godliness in her life.   We will encourage her to use the gifts God has given her and we will do all we can to lovingly help her.  We will still strongly encourage her in spending time with God and serving Him faithfully in church because there are few voices in the world that will do that.  We will speak the truth in love if we see that she is pursuing a sinful path.  But we will trust in our great God who plans for Elyse are greater than our plans.

Congratulations Elyse!  We love you.

SERIOUSLY THANKFUL

Matthew Henry (1662-1714) was a pastor in England who authored one of the most famous commentaries on the Bible ever written.  Three centuries later, this 6 volume set is still a helpful tool for understanding and applying the Bible.

While on his way to preach in a country church, Matthew Henry was stopped and robbed by a highway thief.  Afterward in a desire to always have a thankful heart toward God, he wrote these words in his diary:

“I thank Thee first because I was never robbed before;

second, because although they took my purse they did not take my life;

third, because although they took my all, it was not much;

And fourth because it was I who was robbed, and not I who robbed.”

May we be as mindful that in Christ we have abundant reasons to be thankful; and may we also recognize the beauty of a thankful heart.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 6.17.13

Prepared for Great Things”  1 Timothy 2:1-7

“First of all” pray

This opening phrase tells us this is a beginning place

The intent is more than casual prayer: “Lord Bless today. Amen”

Paul mentions four types of prayer in v1

We are being asked to go beyond prayer at meals, or for help

We are being asked to become prayerful people

Our prayer is to include “all people”

Love for God never asks us to do the least we can for Him

So then praying for all people is more than “Lord bless everyone today. Amen”

Yet, we cannot literally pray for every person

We are to pray for all kinds of people 

People outside our circle

People we don’t understand

People who annoy us

We are to cultivate the habit of praying for the people who cross our path throughout the day

This approach to life changes more than those we pray for

Praying for all people changes our agenda for all people

Praying for all people gives us God’s heart for all people

Our prayer is to include “kings and all in high positions” (v2)

This is for the broad sake of the gospel

When governments are just, society has led impediments to the gospel

When life has less turmoil, we are less distracted from serving

The kingdom of Christ and his gospel is the great purpose we serve

Our life is in biblical focus when that purpose makes our heart say ‘Amen’

Whether or not we like our place in life, the gospel is needed where we are

This encouragement toward prayer, is to lead us to God’s heart (vs 3-4)

If we don’t pray for what is on God’s heart, then we don’t share it

If our lives are not preparing for what God wants, then we are not pleasing to him

Are you getting the sense of urgency of this passage?  

There is “one God”, and there is only one way to him (vs 5-6)

To think there are various ways to God, denies Him (Acts 4:12, John 3:36)

To say God’s judgment will not fall, mocks Christ who paid our “ransom”

No other way can save us, because only Jesus paid the penalty for our sin

There are pressing implications in these verses

1.  Prayer prepares our life to serve God

Prayer is not to inform, convince or move God

Prayer will shape, refocus, strengthen and encourage us!

2.  Prayer has impact

Prayer doesn’t move God, but He does use it (James 5:16)

Prayer brings change, grace, blessing and answers

3.  We are not serious about God, if we are not serious about prayer

How can we be, if prayer is communication with God, and God has told us to do so?

4.  God wants us to be part of amazingly and wonderful things

Your Church is not trying to bug or burden you, but to awaken us

Jesus did not overstate the value of the Great Commandments, which tell us to love God and neighbor

Part of our Ministry Action Plan is that all of us become disciple-makers!

This means we intentionally taking part in reaching and growing people for Christ

Don’t we recognize that to neglect these things will rob our life and cause us regret?

There are people in our life who need the gospel now

DANGEROUS DEBRIS

I was reading an article that described how Earth’s oceans and orbital space are becoming littered with debris. The effect of this debris is not merely in the ugliness of trash floating by to spoil someone’s romantic dinner cruise. Ocean and space debris can be large and rather solid, with the capacity of creating the same damage as a highway encounter with a fallen tree.

The purpose of the article was to mobilize attention and action to stop the madness and clear up the mess. While I can appreciate those concerns, my mind was led down another path. It immediately occurred to me that this condition is exactly what sin does in our lives. It produces all sorts of debris that not only “uglifies” life; it also produces all sorts of damaging collisions as the fruit of our sin careens into the paths of those around us.

When sin fills our life it does more than corrupt our hearts. It bangs and bruises other people as well. Our life becomes like a big old truck overloaded with construction trash that’s driving down the highway oblivious to the fact that debris is bouncing out onto the road and into traffic.

 Sin is a mess

 Sin is ugly

 Sin is destructive

 Sin is dangerous

 Sin spreads like cancer within us and like the flu around us.

Learn to hate sin, and let’s always starting with our own. Be anxious to find out about our sin. Be honest about the evil of our sin. Confess our sin. Repent of our sin.

Rejoice that Jesus Christ paid for the guilt of our sin (if we have trusted in him as Savior and Lord).  Be encouraged that Christ has conquered the grip of sin. And be confident that Christ has sent the Holy Spirit to empower us over sin.

It’s bad enough that debris swirls around in our oceans. We don’t need to trash our own hearts.

GOING TO CHURCH IS AN ACT OF WAR

If you are a parent trying to get your kids and yourself ready to arrive at church on time and in a fairly civil mood, you may relate to the title of Pastor Daniel Darling’s blog article. “Why Going to Church on Sunday is An Act of War”.

Although we can relate to the struggle that sometimes comes with getting to church, Pastor Darling has a different principle in mind. He points out that we serve a King who has a Kingdom and this Kingdom is not merely in disagreement with the kingdoms of our world (and in our heart), they are in open warfare. Darling says,

“go to church so you can tell the world, by your actions, by your praise, by your not being somewhere else, that there is another King. And he’s worthy of your worship together with other citizens of His kingdom.”

You may have never thought about your decision to show up at church (or to your small group) in this context, but it does help us to consider that there is far more at stake than the reasons we often consider as motivation to go or not.

This perspective not only involves whether or not we are faithful to attend our church, it should make us mindful of our attitude and involvement once we get there!

I found Darling’s thoughts can be applied in many ways to our participation in church life. You can read all he had to say here.