Tuesday, October 17, 2017

#MeToo advice for men

Husbands respect and protect your wife. 
Fathers love and protect your daughters. 
Fathers and mothers teach your sons to respect and protect women even if radical feminists say such a thing is sexist. Such feminism has done nothing but make everything worse. 
Brothers support and protect your sisters.
Brothers in Christ honor your sisters in Christ. 
None of this will happen if you’re supporting porn with your viewing. 
Viewing porn propagates the abuse of women, including the women you say you love. 
The abuse of women starts with men and could end there, by God’s grace.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Beware of the Grand (and eternally devastating) Illusion

I didn’t vote for Trump because I thought he’d be a poor president. I thought Hillary would be even worse. I still think both things are true. In my thinking we’d be getting what we voted for either way, and it wouldn’t be good, but we’d deserve it. Again, I still think that’s true. 
Regardless of the human who sits on the throne in this rapidly passing moment, the hearts of many people are still far from God and that’s what grieves me most. Who cares that it happens to grieve me? It's bigger than me. It’s man’s biggest problem. So after the last election I decided to follow a Facebook practice that avoids specific political statements and I am not intending to change that here, despite venturing perilously close to various land mines…this is just a short explanation of where I’m at, if you care. 
It’s no secret I’m a Christian and Scripture is my guide. I’m loyal to the Christ of the Bible FAR more than this or that political party. I have spent my life studying Scripture, so I’m not a novice about what it proclaims (yet I have so much more to learn). I am amazed by how many “smart” people haven’t actually read a book of Scripture, yet they reject it’s testimony. I have always shuddered at that kind of willful ignorance. People will trust current trends in a completely broken culture over the timeless testimony of God’s Word? It’s scary but that’s what people do. 
I have friends here that I love, even though we disagree on a bunch of things. I won’t stop loving my friends and family even if we never come to agreement. I don’t want to lose the opportunity to share Christ with anyone, so that’s why I’m choosing to say little about political matters- despite how everything seems to get politicized these days. To be clear, I speak out on moral issues because I think they transcend politics. I would argue most of the unrest experienced in our country is a byproduct of a time when everyone does what is right in their own eyes (see Noah’s day). 
Frankly, I don’t think the issues that have been getting people all crazy and upset are nearly as big as the problem of estrangement with God every person has because of sin. No president, pundit, politician, pop scientist, talk show host, preacher, or party has the ability to bring the redemption and liberty we truly need. Only Christ can bring what you actually need. Don’t get blinded by this fading world. Don’t succumb to the two-fold grand illusion that says all you see is what there is and if there’s anything after this life, we’re all OK. I’m not saying coming to Christ will make you apolitical, but it will help you see things with much greater perspective. 
Rest in the finished work of Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will see everything in a new light. You will be amazed by how the cranked and hyped up hot button issues of the day are really not that important. At the same time, if more people were renewed by Christ, you’d be amazed by how many of the hot button issues would actually be addressed and even solved (if God wills). 
In the end, if you think I’m a complete religious, loon, freak, fanatic and you’re right in your particular view of the world…then I’ll be OK too, because I’m definitely not wallowing in some kind of ignorant, joyless, mire. But if I’m right and you’re wrong?

Monday, September 25, 2017

Some Benefits of Expository Preaching in the Local Church

There are several types of preaching.Topical preaching combines various Bible verses that connect with a particular theme.Textual preaching uses a short text as a gateway to a certain doctrine or subject. These forms of preaching have a definite place in the life of the church and are fruitful because they teach Biblical truth.The form of preaching best for the long term health and maturity of a local congregation however is expository preaching. 

Expository preaching follows a careful interpretation process to extract the God-intended meaning of a Biblical passage to provide explanation and application in a contemporary way. Expository preaching generally describes a philosophy about how to preach God’s Word as well as a particular approach to individual Bible books and passages. Haddon Robinson provides a helpful definition of expository preaching-

“Expository preaching is the communication of a Biblical concept, derived from and transmitted through a historical, grammatical, and literary study of a passage in its context, which the Holy Spirit first applies to the personality and experience of the preacher, then through him to his hearers.” 

Another description of expository preaching comes from my seminary professor and preaching mentor, Bryan Chapell-

“The meaning of the passage is the message of the sermon. The text governs the preacher. Expository preachers do not expect others to honor their opinions. Such ministers adhere to Scripture’s truths and expect their listeners to heed the same.” 

Expository preaching in a local church setting usually means preaching through Bible books.  In my twenty years of expository preaching at Redeemer, I have preached through sixteen of the twenty-seven New Testament books and twelve of the thirty-nine Old Testament books. At this rate I should complete an exposition of the whole Bible by 2037.  😁 The benefits of such an approach are demonstrable. I can think of four in particular.

  • An expositional preaching ministry grows the congregation’s trust in and knowledge of Scripture. 
Rather than learning a topic and a list of proof texts, expositional preaching carefully teaches the content of the Bible to a congregation over time. This makes the congregation knowledgeable about God’s Word and it increases their trust in the wisdom of God revealed by Scripture. 

  • An expositional preaching ministry grows the congregation’s understanding of systematic theology and Biblical theology. 
Systematic theology refers to studying Bible doctrines according to their subject like Christology, Eschatology, and Ecclesiology. Biblical theology refers to studying the chronological unfolding of God’s redemptive plan in Scripture. Both are bolstered as the congregation works through the books of the Bible expositionally as the main diet of Bible intake.

  • An expositional preaching ministry demonstrates the providence of God with timely messages.
Sermons subjects should not react to every cultural event or hot topic in society. A commitment to steady exposition will demonstrate God’s providential care for His people as He exposes us to all sorts of issues in His Word that many times align directly with something that is happening in the world. I have lost count on how many times the message of the text aligned exactly with some immediately relevant issue in the world. 

  • An expositional preaching ministry grows the pastors with the people. 
Your pastors study a passage all week with one goal- to faithfully communicate the meaning and application of God’s Word to you on Sunday. This preparation process means we undergo the Holy Spirit’s conviction and encouragement just before you do. This gives us passion to deliver the message on Sunday and to walk the road of sanctification with you. 

In my twenty years of preaching ministry I have become convinced that expositional preaching of the Word is the most potent way to administer this means of grace. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Dissing Osteen during the Houston floods is a smokescreen....

I could be wrong but I think people are jealous of Joel Osteen’s millions, so they jump on a seemingly manufactured story about his not opening the doors of their church for flood victim relief quickly enough. I don’t know the truth of the matter on that front because stories conflict and I don’t trust cheap twitter posts or the media to give us the straight on that front. The real crime of Osteen is his false teaching. People should know he doesn’t preach the gospel of God’s grace- which is our need for faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. If you're dissin’ Osteen but not dealing with the reality of your sin needing a remedy…you’re spending energy in the wrong place friend. Start looking more closely at the claims of Christ and less on the teaching and actions of a false prophet. By the way, I’m guessing the media has totally construed what Lakewood Church has actually done.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Hatred does NOT need to be taught. It is natural.

The Twitter world was set aflutter by former President Barack Obama’s tweet-

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion ….People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love … For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
Apparently this was the most “liked” tweet in Twitter history. It is a quote from Nelson Mandela.

Misunderstanding about mankind’s moral condition is one of the bigger blunders in human history. We simply must recognize the human heart is wicked and deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9) apart from God’s grace through Christ. The “big lie” is that man is basically good. He is not. We are not. Scripture teaches this AND human history illustrates the same over and over. 

Statements about man’s natural goodness garner many likes, retweets, and reposts in today’s moral climate. People want to believe in mankind so badly. Many think we can somehow will peace and harmony through positive energy transmitted by positive thoughts about the goodness of humanity. If we just talk positive enough about niceness and such...people will be nice. 

The base of our problem is the inherent evil of man. Hatred does not need to be taught, it is natural. Unlike Mandela's statement repeated by Obama (and embraced by so many)- love does NOT come more naturally to the human heart than the opposite-not this side of sin's entrance in to the human race. This is a Scriptural truth and a demonstrable reality. 

Any parent knows they don’t need to teach their children to be selfish or to lie or to get angry or to hate. It comes naturally.

If you correct a child when they sin and ask them, “Did your Mommy teach you to lie?” They always say "NO". They’re right. They sin because they’re sinners.

We are born sinners. So hate comes VERY naturally.We must learn to love. The only way this happens is through the grace of Christ.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. (Psalm 51:5)
Therefore, just as through one man (Adam) sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death to all men, because all sinned. (Romans 5:12)
And Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation… (Romans 5:18)

But thanks be to God-
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:7-12)

My prayer is for God to graciously grant a prolific spread of His gospel which promises new life for those who trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross. Part of the new life that comes through Christ is a realization about man’s actual nature and a humble reliance upon God’s grace to treat people like Jesus.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Try occasional walks through a cemetery

After mentioning my weekly walks through the cemetery next to our church, several members asked me if I really did that. The answer is yes. I just spent 35 minutes walking there tonight. Sometimes I google the names of people to find out their story. 

Cemeteries tell the truth to us all. I suggest a walk through one from time to time. 

For me, as a pastor, my calling is to prepare people for how they'll spend the massive, overwhelming, majority of their existence. Cemeteries remind me of sin's devastation. No one escapes physical death. Ignoring that reality is eternally foolhardy. Cemeteries drive me to the only One who defeated death. Frankly, I literally don't have time for the flawed opinions of others about something as serious as death. Only the risen Christ's Word is sufficient to reconcile what walking through a cemetery will conjure in your mind...especially when you see your father's headstone, which bears the same name as you.

A stroll through a cemetery on Saturday night holds me accountable to preach the gospel Sunday morning.

Woe to me if I don't.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Skeptics of the Church of Esquelito

Esquelito was the quirky side kick of Nacho in the epic film, Nacho Libre.  Nacho was a deist posing as a monk, who was concerned that Esquelito did not believe in God, but rather only in Science.

Indeed, for Esquelito "Science" was God. 

With the election of a president who has voiced skepticism about the Climate Change movement that has gripped so many in high governmental and industrial places, the debate about "Science" has been reignited. 

I suggest, for the most part, rather than saying "Science has shown..."or "Science has proven..." a more accurate to description would be-"Certain people applying the rules of scientific inquiry (hopefully) to a certain situation have come to postulate...."

Science (in noun form) rarely represents something as settled as those who use the term think or suggest. Just because "Science" is used to bolster a claim doesn't mean true science was actively engaged in...even if a chart is shown or the results of a certain study are quoted. 

The modern Climate Change movement seems absolutely certain the "science is settled" on the matter. If a person disagrees they are basically laughed at and marginalized. An article that came out yesterday revealing manipulation of data and negligence in the peer review process.  See the post here.  The post claims-

A high-level whistleblower has told this newspaper that America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) breached its own rules on scientific integrity when it published the sensational but flawed report, aimed at making the maximum possible impact on world leaders including Barack Obama and David Cameron at the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015

For those who think healthy skepticism is required to discern all claims about anything important, not to mention the modern "scientific" claims that usually have massive financial implications, the revelations of this article (which are not the first of it's kind) do not come as a surprise. One of the serious objective problems for the Climate Change movement is the pesky satellite data (that's right, DATA or FACTS) which appears to argue against the Climate Change movement message. The findings from the satellite data show an apparent pause in any kind of global heat up. This is indeed inconvenient data for the Climate Change industry...um...I mean...business....oops, sorry- movement.  Look up "The Pause" and read the entertaining defenses for why we should read the facts differently. If you are not skeptical about the religious-like defensiveness of the Climate Change movement after reading the arguments about "The Pause", you are truly lost in your trust and faith in Science. 

Cue immediate reaction from adherents to the Church of Esquelito. 

They will react on the basis of their credal commitments, some of which are like these:

Scientists don’t lie.
Peer review is key…
People who aren’t “scientists” really don’t have basis to judge.
Skeptics are deniers and not very intelligent (they don’t always say this one outright, but they definitely mean it and snicker about it in private).

Forgive the many who are skeptical about the multi trillion (by extension) dollar modern scientific industry. Objective proof of data manipulation and the outright neglect of the all important peer review process are the very reasons everyone should be on some level skeptical.  

By the way, skepticism is not equal with denial.  

The Church of Esquelito must defend it’s God, which is the thing so often called “Science” today.   For the rest of us- we’ll keep asking questions when we see repeated breaches in the sacred scientific system.

I predict the reactions to findings like revealed in the above article will prompt Trump-like attacks on the credibility of the source and the whistle blower rather than deal with The Pause problem. 

On a positive note, by the end of the film, Esquelito joined Nacho's deistic commitment, it seems.  Note his heartfelt prayer for Nacho early in this clip. Hopefully adherents to Esquelito's Church creed will convert too.  

A Free People- a recent letter to my church

Perhaps some of our older members can remember a more socially and politically contentious time in our nation’s history. The acrimonious year-long build up to the November election and recent inauguration of President Donald Trump was unlike any of the eleven similar cycles I recall. Christians had seemed quite divided in in their public opinions before the election.  These early days after the inauguration indicate strong division in the nation as a whole. There is a mixture of extreme fear and anger with some and a sense of relief and high hopes for others. Hopefully this initial furor will dissipate and there will be opportunity for the new administration to exercise sound leadership. Certainly not everyone will be pleased no matter how the new administration governs. Whatever the case, we should pray fervently for our leaders. 

Christians ultimately rest in God’s sovereignty and His providential watch care over all human affairs. If our study of Isaiah has taught us anything, it is about God’s people remaining devoted to Him no matter what the socio-political scene. God has a special love for His Church which compels us, by His grace and power, to be witnesses for His gospel and faithful in obedience to Him. As I have written and stated many times, churches like Redeemer will play an increasingly important role in our nation’s strength and vibrancy. Shaky times should encourage the God’s people to a renewed and steadfast devotion to the ministry of the Word and Sacraments. Certainly those who are well trained in the Word should be all the more involved by applying biblical principles in our social actions and votes but let us not forget where the transforming power lies- the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

The followers of Christ must rise above the political bickering and angry name calling so prevalent in our culture today. Scripture gives us clear guidance on how to navigate difficult social and political waters. The Apostle Peter writing at the time of one of the most despotic Roman emperors in history, gives very helpful instruction-

“Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor". - 1 Peter 2:13-17

The part about subjecting ourselves to the governing authorities is obvious enough. We should not miss what else the passage states. Christians are truly a free people. The gospel has liberated us. We are free from the penalty of our sin because of faith in the finished work of Christ. We are also free to obey God by His grace in our lives. By freely doing good as God empowers us, we will silence ignorant and foolish people. We are not an angry or fearful people.  We honor God-appointed human authorities but we do not look to them for our joy or sustenance. Whatever social or political climate may be prevailing, we have our clear instructions from God-Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Timely words for Christians on Inauguration Day 2017

Timely and instructive words to Christians from God's Word on inauguration day 2017

"Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme,or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor". - 1 Peter 2:13-17