Purpose Statement

My holy ambition is to bring glory to God through the study of His Word. I am passionate about the observation, interpretation and application of God's Word in our lives.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Scripture Memorization

Our associate pastor issued a call for the congregation to make scripture memorization a priority this year.  I know where a lot of Scripture is located but I don't have it memorized word by word.  I started this past week to memorize verses that I can more easily recall to mind when I need them  It has helped ease the emotionality in my life somewhat. I am grateful.  We need to trust in the promises of the Lord along with heed any warnings He gives. If we only trust the promises we can grow hardened to sin and make the Gospel self centered instead of God centered. If we emphasize the warnings we can become legalistic and paralyzed with fear.  With a healthy balance between the promises and the warnings we can walk more powerfully by the Spirit.

When I am afraid or discouraged, I can bring these passages to mind to challenge my thoughts. Our default position isn't the Scripture but our own thoughts which often flow from our wicked hearts.  We can learn to preach the Gospel to ourselves and take every thought captive. The proverb as a man thinks so is he is true.  We can choose to dwell on the flesh or we can choose to embrace the word of the Spirit.  I am grateful that the Bible gives much hope as we meditate upon Jesus and focuses our gaze upon the Lord. Someone once said that for every glance at ourselves we need to take ten glances at Jesus Christ. Memorizing His Word is a good way to do that!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Habit Change

I was talking with some ladies from my church today about habits.  Habits are long time patterns of behaviors or thinking that become automatic over time.  Unfortunately I have some very bad habits.  Some of which are nearly as old as I am.  It can be hard, very hard, to alter your patterns.  But there is hope.  If you have the Holy Spirit dwelling within you, change is possible.  It is not easy but it is possible. God's Word is full of encouragement for those who want to make things different.  We need to preach truth to ourselves throughout the day. Some of the "stinkin' thinkin'" has been in our heads for so long we don't even know we are thinking at all. The thoughts are there like deep ruts in a rural road.  The thoughts must be rooted out and replaced with new thoughts. II Corinthians 5: 17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."

Much of the success in changing habits lies in what you believe about God. His Word tells us what we need to tell ourselves. First, God is completely sovereign, infinitely wise and perfectly loving.  We can trust Him to help us. Tim Chester points out in his book "You Can Change" that He is also good, gracious, great and glorious. That means that God and  not us controls everything. No random molecule in the universe gets past Him. He takes away the fear of man. He is the ultimate source of all good and we can stop looking to other gods to satisfy.  We don't have to join the rat race to prove ourselves to anybody. If you are like me, there are habits to break.  It will take a lot of hard work but God is there as a very present help in times of trouble.  Please pray for me and others as we set out this year to resolve to change some things. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Compassion of Jesus Christ

I am studying Matthew in BSF and today's lesson was about Jesus feeding the 5,000.  Even though the disciples didn't want to minister to the large crowd Jesus insisted that they do something.  The Word said He compassion for them.  They were like sheep without a shepherd. I think the analogy of Jesus being the Good Shepherd is such a tender one.  For those who have read the books about shepherding the analogy is deep.  He does love people and is longsuffering toward the sinner.

The heart of God is love.  To love is to give something someone needs. That is exactly what Jesus taught His disciples to do on that day.  He had them gather what provision they had and then He blessed it by raising it toward heaven. He fed the huge crowd with some left over. The disciples learned that to be like Jesus is to show compassion and to meet needs regardless of how large they may seem.  The heart of God is to give. The greatest gift was to send His Son to die on the Cross for all who will believe.  Romans 8:32: " He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?"

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Sweet Time With Baby S

I had the opportunity to visit with the daughter and son in law of one of my best friends. Their son was born last week. I walked in and looked at the sweet bundle in his grandmother's arms. The first thing noticeable about him was his hairy head. It didn't take very long to figure out his gentle disposition and quiet nature.  The grandmother let me sit in the rocking chair and hold him. I nestled him against the front of my shoulder. I looked down and fell in love. What a perfect little child! He had long fingers and toes. His little body was perfectly formed and he slept soundly leaning up against my chest.  He did so for twenty minutes.

I never had children of my own.  It is always such a joyous thing to celebrate births and to be a small part of others' happiness. One wonders about what Baby S might be when he grows up. Who will he look like? It always overwhelms me to think about human physiology and how God forms each infant in his mother's womb.  Baby S was no exception.  Those twenty minutes were a delight.  God is so good. It is easy to lose sight of such things in a world gone mad. I am grateful to Him for giving me the chance to share a piece of the joy.  By the way his Mom looked radiant and his Dad had a calm sense of gratitude.  What a blessing.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Goodness of God

I started a study in the Psalms on the word "good."  I haven't looked up many references but it is interesting to note already that God's goodness is His character and not dependent on anyone or anything. His promised blessings of "good things" are often contingent upon conditions of the believer. For example, David said God gave him gladness in his heart, peace and safety (Psalm 4). But he was to tremble and not sin. Psalm 21 speaks of giving the king life and length of days and blessing of good things of life. The king was to be glad and joyful in the presence of the Lord and trust in Him always.

There are some recurrent phrases that give us insight into the good blessing of the Lord. "Fear the Lord" occurs a number of times. So does "praise" or "exult" the Lord.  We are to "taste and see that the Lord is good". He hears the righteous' cry. He delivers them out of their troubles. He is near to the brokenhearted and to those crushed in spirit.  He redeems the soul. The conditions stated in the same Psalm include bless the Lord, magnify Him, take refuge in Him, seek Him and depart from evil and do good.  Psalm 34 lists a number of promises of God interspersed with our responsibility to Him.  He sustains, grants the desires of our hearts, gives us the land as inheritance, orders our steps, delivers and saves. We must fret not, be not envious, delight in the Lord, commit our ways to Him and a number other of commands God gives.

Psalm 100 states that the Lord is good in verse 5. His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness is to all generations.  We must shout joyfully, serve Him with gladness, know that the Lord is God, give thanks and praise His name.  God is good but often His promises of blessing are linked to responsibilities we have to obey Him. I want to commit in the new year to be a more obedient and worshipful believer of the Lord who is good and does good!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Amazing Grace

I am in a book study with some single ladies from my church. The title of the book is "This Great Salvation, Unmerited Favor, Unmatched Joy." It is Gospel saturated. As such the chapter this week focuses on the wrath of God.  The subject of sin has been lost in our culture and unfortunately in far too many churches in our nation. Rather the focus is on self esteem and boosting our egos.  God's focus has never changed. As a thrice holy God His wrath is as J.I. Packer says "God's resolute action in punishing sin." R.C. Sproul has said that Christ's death on the Cross isn't only to save us from hell but more accurately to save us from the wrath of God the Father. The better you know how deeply sinful you are, the more true fear of the Lord you will possess and the greater your appreciation will be of His grace.

Hell is a frightening reality.  The Scriptural references are sobering. Much is said by Christ about hell. Much also is written about God's wrath at the sins of people. Don't be deceived.  God will express His anger and wrath at sinful creatures who refuse the Cross of Christ. Either Jesus bore the penalty for our sin or we will bear it.  Sin is so heinous to God it will take an eternity of punishment.  But there is hope.  God has sent His Son to reconcile us to a holy God.  The Father gave His Son to suffer the judgment due us.  Through faith in Jesus Christ we are declared righteous in the eyes of God. Not that we are righteous but God attributes Christ's perfect righteousness to our account and our sin to His. We deserve eternal punishment in hell but God offers eternal life through His Son.  Our need is not for greater self esteem, our need is for the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


There have been three births this past week of close friends.  It is such a wonder to me how atheists are forced to explain the miracle of birth. All the intricacy and detail of the infant somehow just occurs I guess as a random event because of evolution.  It is amazing to note the human body systems and how they function in sync. The heart and lungs, the liver and intestines, the glands, the brain, spinal column and nervous system all working together for life.  To think that there isn't a Creator behind it all is just plain nuts if you ask me.  (Not that anybody is asking-ahem).

Psalm 139: 13-16:
For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to You,
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

I used to be an evolutionist but since coming to the Lord I align myself with what the Scripture says is true about our origin.  It is far more comforting and frankly sensible to be formed by a Creator God. Random chance leaves me despairing and distressed. These young lives were formed by God and He has a purpose and a plan for each one. Congratulations to the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings and everyone else who will have a part in raising up the children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Zephaniah 3:17

There is a verse that has been very comforting to me during the past two years. Zephaniah 3:17 "The Lord your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy."  I struggle experientially to know the love of God but His Word states emphatically that the Lord loves His own. I have heard that the picture here is of God with His child tucked securely between His shoulder blades. Also the child who is snuggled upon His chest.  As I view the pictures of a newborn son of some friends, I am better reminded of this verse. Dad has the baby close to him and smiling. I think it captures the verse well.

John Gill writes of this verse:

...there is a pleonasm of joy in Christ's heart towards his people, and so a redundancy in his expression of it; he rejoices with joy, and joys with singing; which shows how delighted he is with his people, as they are his chosen, redeemed, and called ones; as they have his own righteousness upon them, and his own grace in them; they are his "Hephzibah", in whom he delights; his "Beulah", to whom he is married; and it is his love of complacency and delight, which is the source of all the grace and glory he bestows upon them.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Complaining and Grumbling

I have been reading a book called "Notes to Self" by Joe Thorn. It is an excellent read. He writes notes to himself on such things as fear, doubt, idolatry and a whole host of other categories. His writing is short but precise.  One chapter that caught my attention is the one called "Stop Complaining." Scripture has much to say about grumbling and never is it called good by God. In fact if we truly believe that God is omniscient He hears every word we speak and even knows the ones we don't.  Thorn says sometimes we want to call it harmless venting.  But such a name is a lie and one that bothers God. Complaining doesn't please the Lord to put it in its most concise summary.

To complain is to undermine God's loving sovereignty in our lives. It is to tell Him that somehow He isn't doing right by us.  God grants many blessings of grace such as life itself.  The minor annoyances that come are way are usually the ones that trip us up the most. With tragedy we typically draw closer to the Lord. But in every day life we get confident in our flesh and are more likely to sweat the small stuff and grumble while we do.  It is also our reactions to the small stuff that most people see day in and day out.  It is hypocritical to say that God handles the big stuff but somehow isn't up to the small things about which we grumble. By bringing the Gospel to bear on every aspect of our lives--small and large--we can respond in ways that honor God.  God has purpose in the inconvenient and petty annoyances; He uses it to transform us into Christlikeness and thus deeper fellowship with the Lord.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

God's Sovereignty in Community

Today I spent a good part of my time with the children of some good friends.  One of the kids and I went for a walk. As we passed houses my younger friend named the neighbors who lived there. she explained how she had met the children in the given home. It was an interesting excursion in the sovereignty of God. She told of how when they first moved to their street one young boy introduced them to many others. I realized the providence of God in all the affairs of men. Nothing happens by chance.  All is overseen and accomplished by a living, loving and wise Father in heaven.  He governs the universe and all that is in it.

It is a ponderous thought and one quite frankly our finite minds can't quite grasp. Yet the Bible is clear about God's hand in the all the events of mankind. Think about it. He even controls the small things in our lives. He guides those people who come into our lives and also leads them out in His time. Our times are in His hands and no where else. He sets the boundaries of life for us. It is a comforting thought to the believer in Jesus Christ to know that the all wise, all knowing and every where present God is working on our behalf to accomplish that which concerns us.  Look around at the community God has placed you in and be grateful to Him for it. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Holiness of God

I am in a book study that meets on Friday nights. We are reading "This Great Salvation--Unmerited Favor, Unmatched Joy" written by C.J. Mahaney and Robin Boisvert.  The third chapter is all about the holiness of God. It is a sobering read.  In American Christianity I fear, as did the authors, that we have lost a sense of God's purity and separateness. It is because of watered down theology and praise songs that focus on the human side of Jesus so much as to exclude His divinity.  We have for the most part lost our sense of reverence and awe. The word "holy" has been largely removed from our vocabulary. We no longer speak of the Holy Bible, Holy Communion or Holy Matrimony. Even the Holy Spirit is often stripped of His nature and referred to as merely "the Spirit."

In the Old Testament God took lives, many thousands on occasion, for treating as mundane and worldly that which He deemed set apart. Whether it was the strange fire of Abihu and Nadab or the men of Beth Shemesh looking at the Ark of the Covenant (II Samuel 6: 19-20);  God dealt severely with those who profaned holy things.  Ananias and Saphirra in the New Testament lied to the Holy Spirit and died immediately.  When are we going to hear that preached in the Houston arena on a Sunday?

We need to be mindful of how serious God takes His holiness and our sin. Sinclair Ferguson said "The holiness of God teaches us that there is only one way to deal with sin--radically, seriously, painfully, constantly. If you do not so live, you do not live in the presence of the Holy One of Israel."