“Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.” (Eph. 5:25)
“To love Christ involves loving the thing that He loves the most on the earth: the church! To profess love for Christ yet have no love or the church is a great contradiction!”
If you’re a church-goer or member, have you ever thought about why you attend? Do you go simply because you were raised going to church and it’s a tradition or habit? Do you go for what you hope or expect to get out of it? Do you believe church attendance is for the most part a good thing, but not necessarily required of a believer? What about joining as a member of a specific local church body? Continue reading
As we come to the end of 2016 and look ahead to 2017, I thought I’d share this poetic prayer from The Valley of Vision.
O LOVE BEYOND COMPARE,
Thou art good when thou givest,
when thou takest away,
when the sun shines upon me,
when night gathers over me.
Thou hast loved me before the foundation of the world,
and in love didst redeem my soul;
Thou dost love me still,
in spite of my hard heart, ingratitude, distrust.
Thy goodness has been with me another year,
leading me through a twisting wilderness,
in retreat helping me to advance,
when beaten back making sure headway.
Thy goodness will be with me in the year ahead;
I hoist sail and draw up anchor,
with thee as the blessed pilot of my future as of my past.
I bless thee that thou hast veiled my eyes to the waters ahead.
If thou hast appointed storms of tribulation,
thou wilt be with me in them;
If I have to pass through tempests of persecution and temptation,
I shall not drown;
If I am to die,
I shall see thy face the sooner;
If a painful end is to be my lot,
grant me grace that my faith fail not;
If I am to be cast aside from the service I love,
I can make no stipulation;
Only glorify thyself in me whether in comfort or trial,
as a chosen vessel meet always for thy use.
Most of the New Year messages we see offer wishes for health, success and prosperity, and that there be no troubles or sorrows in the year to come. This poem reminds me that, no matter what “If’s” I may anticipate in the coming year, my sovereign, loving Father has ordained it for my good, to sanctify me, and will take me through it for His glory. I pray that if you are His child, this will serve to comfort you as well.
The Gifts of the Magi and the Gift of God
“And they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).
Is gift giving a joy or a stress for you? Why is gift giving many times so stressful, especially during the holiday season? We may find ourselves worrying about things like: “Who should I buy presents for this year? What should I get them? When am I going to have time for shopping? How much should I spend? How can I afford this??” One reason I believe gift-giving can be so stressful is that our materialistic, commercialized culture imposes so many expectations upon us. The Bible provides many examples of gift giving and gives us some ideas about the proper motives and attitudes of giving. Some of these may be helpful towards making the giving of gifts more of a pleasure than a burden.
Matthew’s gospel account of the Christmas story tells of wise men, or magi, who came from somewhere in the East (possibly Persia, Arabia or India) to see the Christ child and offered Him gifts. In this account we can see several things about the wise men and observe some lessons about gift giving: Continue reading
“Orthodoxy has held for centuries that the cross is an essential of Christianity…If you take away the cross as an atoning act, you take away Christianity.”
In Dr. Sproul’s little book The Truth of the Cross, the author discusses the importance of the atonement to the Christian faith: essentially, without the cross there is no Christianity. In order to understand the need for the atonement, he insists that we really need to understand both the character of God and the nature of sin. As I’ve found with Sproul’s other books, he takes an extremely weighty and significant subject and makes it clear and understandable to the average Christian reader. He explains concepts and terms relevant to the atonement, such as ransom, substitute, redemption, covenant, propitiation, expiation, total depravity, imputation, and others. Continue reading
“Praise and thanksgiving is the work of heaven and he begins that work here which he will always be doing in heaven…None but the godly can praise God aright.”
A painting of Watson by Gustavus Ellinthorpe Sintzenich
The Puritan preacher/writer Thomas Watson (1620-1686) is considered one of our church’s honorary elders (in absentia), since we enjoy reading and referencing his books and sermons so much. A few years ago, we went through his book The Godly Man’s Picture at our monthly ladies’ breakfasts at my church, because of course the term “godly man” in the book’s title doesn’t refer just to the male species but is relevant to women as well. The book was very profitable and stimulated good group discussion about what it means to be a godly person. Although written some 350 years ago, the topic and illustrations are still quite valid and applicable to the Christian life today. Watson is a master illustrator, and as the title of the book states, he uses the Word of God to draw in some detail a portrait of what a godly person looks like, as well as what he or she is not like. Continue reading
“There are no greater riches than Christ, and you feel this especially keenly when they want to take Him away from you, when they forbid you to share these riches with people . . . But people need Him so much! Jesus—is there any name more dear to a redeemed soul?”— Georgi Vins
As Americans, we have enjoyed increasing freedom and prosperity as a nation over the past 200 years. While not every individual has experienced the same level of prosperity or opportunity, generally speaking, we are currently more privileged in many ways than the majority of the rest of the world. We often take our comfort and liberties for granted until we feel they are actually being threatened. We may look at other countries that have had oppressive governments, both in the past and the present, and worry that America could one day find itself moving in a similar direction. One such country that is often used as a comparison is the Soviet Union, the nation behind the dreaded “Iron Curtain.” Continue reading