On the Night Before He Suffered

Tuesday is for Counseling

Light and Darkness

He knew he was going to die.

The one task he had to do before it happened was to prepare his best friends and family for the reality of a ticking clock that would end his life within 18 hours.

He knew their world would be rocked. 
He loved them.
He wanted to comfort them.
He knew they were confused.
He knew they were disappointed.
He knew they were dis-spirited.

In the midst of the horror ahead, he wanted them to be at peace, shalom.

So he crafted his words carefully.
He crafted them to be remembered.
He crafted them to explode with power when they were most needed.
He crafted them to show them the way forward out of the pain of what they were about to experience.

14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:1–6 (ESV)

A Benediction
So, in all your trials, in all your travels, in all the places of fear, and trouble, and confusion, and disappointment, and sorrow let your heart remember that He who died and rose for you is now preparing a place for you and He is coming back for you and He knows the way out of darkness and into the light. Run to Him. Run to Him like a child in danger runs to his father. Run to Him because H
e keeps all his promises. Trust Him. 

“Friday Night” Party Night

alcoholJust spent 20 minutes talking on the phone with a man I have never met who called up the pastor (me) of his father’s former church. He was emotional, drunk, broken, guilt ridden and longing, in the emptiness of all the choices that hollowed his life out, for a return to a more innocent time.

I was able to pray with him and give him my cell phone number. I gave him the name of a solid church in his area (about 60 miles away from here but closer to him).  I invited him to sit down and have a cup of coffee when he passes through this area in the future and assured him that I would be praying for him.

It was a sad goodbye. He’s alone. He’s hurting. And the odds are good, that when he sobers up, he will think that his phone call (if he remembers it) was silly or pointless. But the message of Psalm 4 is otherwise.

For a reflection on the goodness of sober choices see: “Friday Night” Party Night.

Two Visions, Two Futures.

Thought Provoking Meme

George Orwell and Aldous Huxley had two different visions for two different futures. They gave the world the world a choice between 1984 or Brave New World?

Which of those is a truer picture of our present?

Here’s a better, truer vision and future, . . .

Jesus’ return and reign.
(Click on the image for a more readable version)

Fact:     NOTHING is more sure than this: Jesus is coming again!

orwell-1984_vs_huxley-BraveNewWorld

Repentance and a Psalm of Salvation

Tuesday is for Salvation

Last week I preached on Psalm 6, David’s Prayer of Personal Repentance. Discussion of repentance always brings introspection.

Or it should.

And that led me today to think of a slam poem my son wrote.  He performed it and three others as part of a series of poems by a group calling themselves THE SACRIFICIAL POETS during a live show at the University of Nebraska. Only Christ can save and he saves those who repent and believe.

Everything We Believe in Submission to the Word of God

Tuesday is for Hearing the Word

We have in C.S. Lewis’s words, “a prejudice against older books.” That is a problem. Too often we cut ourselves off from the greatness of brothers and sisters who finished well and can teach us much. Here’s one of those voices from 164 years ago: (And perfectly in sync with our Duck Dynasty brothers!) 

Everything Taught Must be Examined by Scripture — J.C. Ryle

J.C.-Ryle_1-256x300J.C. Ryle,

A man must make the Bible alone his rule. He must receive nothing, and believe nothing, which is not according to the word. He must try all religious teaching by one simple test,—Does it square with the Bible?—What saith the Scripture?

I would to God the eyes of the laity of this country were more open on this subject, I would to God they would learn to weigh sermons, books, opinions, and ministers, in the scales of the Bible, and to value all according to their conformity to the word. I would to God they would see that it matters little who says a thing, —whether he be Father or Reformer,—Bishop or Arch- bishop,— Priest or Deacon,—Archdeacon or Dean. The only question is,—Is the thing said Scriptural? If it is, it ought to be received and believed. If it is not, it ought to be refused and cast aside. I fear the consequences of that servile acceptance of everything which the parson says, which is so common among many English laymen. I fear lest they be led they know not whither, like the blinded Syrians, and awake some day to find themselves in the power of Rome. Oh! that men in England would only remember for what the Bible was given them!

I tell English laymen that it is nonsense to say, as some do, that it is presumptuous to judge a minister’s teaching by the word. When one doctrine is proclaimed in one parish, and another in another, people must read and judge for themselves. Both doctrines cannot be right, and both ought to be tried by the word. I charge them above all things, never to suppose that any true minister of the Gospel will dislike his people measuring all he teaches by the Bible. On the contrary, the more they read the Bible, and prove all he says by the Bible, the better he will be pleased. A false minister may say, “You have no right to use your private judgment: leave the Bible to us who are ordained.” A true minister will say, “Search the Scriptures, and if I do not teach you what is Scriptural, do not believe me.” A false minister may cry, “Hear the Church,” and “Hear me.” A true minister will say, “Hear the word of God.”

– J.C. Ryle (1816-1900) taken from: Consider Your Ways: Being a Pastor’s Address to His Flock. 10th Thousand, Revised and Adapted to All Seasons. London: Hunt & Son, 1849.

Originally posted By Eric Young over at Reformed Bibliophile Accessed on December 2, 2013 at: http://www.erictyoung.com/2013/11/29/everything-taught-must-be-examined-by-scripture-j-c-ryle/

Suggestion:  
Regularly remind your congregation to trust the word of God, not you. Direct their hearts and minds and emotions to the power of God’s word, not your personality, gifts, or interpretations.

Coming: An Interview with the Author of a Book I Hope Becomes a Runaway Bestseller

Tuesday is for Counseling: A Great New Book

Matt MitchellOn Thursday, I will post an interview with Matt Mitchell, a fellow EFCA pastor from the great state of Pennsylvania. I’m not sure where Matt and I crossed paths but I have appreciated his ministry for some time. 

His blog, Matt-Mitchell.blogspot.com, is filled with pastoral insight and counsel that is wise, biblically sturdy and sensitive to the the hard realities of life. Plus, he loves C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, the Eagles, and reformed theology—I mean, what’s not to like with a guy with that collection of loves?

One of the greatest enemies of love and destroyers of unity in the body of Christ is gossip. Matt has just published a book called RESISTING GOSSIP and it is one of the books I think I will find myself recommending often this next year.

Just three weeks ago, at the annual meeting of Trinity Church, I announced that this issue of taking dead aim on gossip was going to be a major thrust of my preaching this year as we seek to become a church marked by

  • 1) Extraordinary Love,
  • 2) Extraordinary Faithfulness to God’s Word,
  • 3) Extraordinary Commitment to Prayer and
  • 4) Extraordinary Local Focus on reaching our neighbors.

I hope that you will “tune in” on Thursday for the interview and perhaps throw some questions at Matt on his new book.