Saved By Works

I’ve been doing a lot of reading for a seminary class on the doctrine of salvation, so I figured I would share a particular insight that often gets overlooked when we talk about what Christ did for us:

Have you ever wondered why Christ lived 30+ years as a man? Why he gave up His recognized status as the Creator of the universe and endured mocking, sickness, pain, and poverty? Why didn’t he just come and die–get it over with, so to speak? Continue reading

Helping Your Teen Choose a Christian College

At this writing we’ve been traveling fourteen hours on our way to northern Wisconsin (and that’s after a six hour trip Sunday from Bethel to Pittsburgh). I’d like to suggest a few guidelines for you to consider as you and your teenager seek God’s will for college:

  1. Make the decision together.
    I know that you are attempting to wean your child toward independence and not more dependence. Some of the most critical decisions are upcoming for your teen/young adult: choosing a major, whom to date, marriage, first car, first job, etc. Rather than stating, “I’ve raised you right – now go out and live life,” remember this stage of life is definitely different than what your young adult has faced during their high school years. Even if you have really prepared them well for their adult years this stage of life can really throw a young adult some major curveballs. You, no doubt, have begun to loosen the grip and are allowing him or her to feel their independent status, but within the framework of freedom help guide them with biblical principles. It really is helpful if you can coach them through this decision-making process, not just for them to make the right choice, but also so that they will see you work through a difficult decision by biblical principles. Remember, mentoring is a part of the parenting process. Continue reading

So, Where Are You?

That’s the question I concluded the message with last Sunday night.  Where are you?  Exodus 1, where I preached last Sunday, opens with the location of God’s people.  While Abraham and Isaac wandered away from the best path for their lives by going “down to Egypt,” Joseph and his brothers were placed in Egypt by God’s sovereign hand.  They were right in the middle of the will of God.

The passage then descends into a dark and very dismal cavern of history.  God’s people are despised and put to hard, forced labor.  The amazing thing is that they continue to prosper. The point we made from the passage is that circumstances change but the brightness of God’s promises never change. I gave three other Bible characters prior to Exodus 1 who gave noticable reaction to the promises of God to them.  Continue reading

Convicting Questions

wesley-oxford-350James 5:16 exhorts us to confess our faults to each other. In our individualistic society, our personal sin struggles get pushed back into our private inner world, unknown to our fellow believers.

This is unfortunate, due to the fact that the church is designed for believers to help each other grow in Christlikeness. How can we effectively help each other if everyone keeps his struggles to himself?

John Wesley, an 18th century English evangelist, understood this tendency. So he set up a system whereby local groups of believers would regularly ask each other pointed and personal questions so that they could exhort, encourage, rebuke, and pray for one another more effectively.

As you read these questions, don’t just think about how you would honestly answer them. Ask yourself whether there is anyone in our church to whom you could answer these questions honestly: Continue reading

Fightings Within

kids_fightingAm I the only one who lives in a household where there is arguing and bickering?  Or am I supposed to keep that a secret?  Last week we had everyone write down “a few of their favorite things.”  Favorite things included praise, a clean house, a waveboard, orderliness, etc.  I wanted us to be able to identify our desires.  Why?

Continue reading

Armed Forces Reflections

ad_2009_armed_forces_small_blogAll I can say about last Sunday’s Armed Forces Appreciation Sunday is WOW!  It was more than I can find words to express.  Instead of rambling, maybe I will just list some “WOW’s” that stand out to me:

1.  The video of Ronald Reagan’s Veteran’s Day speech…WOW!  I was caught off guard by that.  I had not seen it though I knew we were doing a video.  The line that has gone through my brain dozens of time since then is when he said that a soldier that dies gives two lives, “the one he was living, and the one he would have lived.”  Those are stunning words of sacrifice.  Dr. Brooks leaned over to me after the video and said, “How can I beat that?”

2.  The looks on people’s faces during different events of the service…WOW.  I have never served in the military so the depth and content of my thoughts during a service like we had are much different.  I saw deep concentration on faces and people whose memories were going way back.  I saw faces with obvious pride in serving, and tears of memories and emotions so deep they could not be explained in words.

3.  All the music…WOW!  The Armed Forces Medley of songs is always a WOW!  To see men and woman stand enthusiastically when their song is sung is awesome.  Finishing with singing the National Anthem is the epitome of patriotic spirit.  The song before the message was stirring and emotional, “A Patriot’s Honor.”  Inspiring is a word not enough to describe it all.

4.  Dr. Ron Brooks, his preaching, his presence, his service for our country, his genuineness…its all a WOW!  Seeing a Vietnam Veteran in uniform preaching about “Heroes” and Christ’s sacrifice for us is a privilege most countries of the world cannot experience like we Americans can.  I am thankful that Dr. Brooks came to our church and for his friendship.

5.  Talking to Veteran’s after the service…WOW!  I talked with some WWII veterans in their mid and upper 80’s.  As a preacher I am able to open God’s Word freely every Sunday and throughout the week without fear.  It is sobering to think that God used these veterans to help keep our country free so God’s Word can can be unhindered.

Ladies Conference (already?)

Oh, no! I'll have the kids for the entire weekend.I don’t know how you (i.e. husbands) feel when the Ladies Conference rolls around each year. If you’re like me, there may be the feeling of being overwhelmed. I mean, how many times can I eat frozen pizza or food from a can in a given weekend? And think of the kids – my brain is almost in a state of overload and meltdown as I type these words.

Yet I find when my wife attends a conference that encourages her spiritually, like the Ladies Conference, she comes back refreshed, rejuvenated and reinvigorated. Ready to tackle life from a different perspective.

I think that this is part of my meeting the biblical requirements of being a 1 Peter 3 husband where the Bible states in verse seven, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life.” Part of the knowledge I must work with is knowing that my wife needs and desires fellowship with other ladies and encouragement from the Word of God. While I may have to eat a few pieces of frozen pizza or reacquaint myself with Chef Boyardee and his spaghettios, I believe the weekend is well worth the time and money to see my wife to be encouraged in the things of the Lord.

Now what would really top the weekend off after all that spiritual growth and encouragement is for her to come home Saturday evening to a clean house, empty dishwasher, kids already fed and a husband who will listen to her talk about everything that happened over those 18+ hours.

Just make sure to have the pizza delivery guy’s number nearby.