Wednesday, April 29, 2009
1. Giving glory of God is the aim of my life. I worship God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. My passion is to please Him.
2. Worship is an everyday event in my life. Sunday is just the overflow
3. I confess sin every day. I am a sinner saved by grace. I am so good at sinning that even when I want to live the new life of Christ, I still find my desires drawn to my old life.
4. I fear no one, only God. Human beings may differ in their education, wealth, size of house, type of car, color of skin, but all human beings have a universal need to love and be loved. I try to give and receive love to everyone, everyday
5. Everyone deserves to be respected
6. God's word, the bible, is my source for wisdom, inspiration, and knowledge. I read it everyday and I will never be able to exhaust its message. I seek to conform my life to the commands of Scripture.
7. Christianity is a lifestyle not a creed; Christianity is about Jesus, not some comfortable tradition. Christianity is inconvenient-I am always called to deny myself and carry a cross.
8. The practice of Christianity begins at home. If I cannot show the face and image of Christ to the people closest to me, I am a hypocrite!
9. God will hold me accountable for the life I have lived, the people I have loved, and the way I have used my time, talents and resources.
10. I have only one precious life to live. I will not squander my life seeking empty pleasures, wasting my life on trivial pursuits, or selfish ambitions.
11. I read a book every two weeks
12. My wife is my greatest friend and confidant. My relationship to her seeks to model Christ's relationship to the Church. Ephesians 5: 22-33
I will share more on another occasion. What are some of the principles you live by?
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
The Christian Family by Larry Christenson
Families where grace is the place: Getting free from the burden of pressuring, controlling and manipulating your spouse and children by Jeff VanVonderen
Boundaries in Marriage by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
Heaven Help the Home by Howard Hendricks
Two Becoming One: experiencing the power of oneness in your marriage by Don and Sally Meredith
The Marriage Collection: Keys to make your marriage better by Fritz Ridenour
Love for a lifetime: building a marriage that will go the distance by Dr. James Dobson
Just in case you were not in church this past Sunday, I want to remind you that I am working through the Old Testament book of Malachi. I want to encourage you to join us to study this practical message from God each Sunday. Here are some of the things I said about Marriage and the responsibility of the husband:
Sociologist Andrew Cherlin has come out with a new book he calls, The Marriage Go-Round: The state of Marriage and the Family in America Today. In it he raises what he calls a peculiar paradox — we idealize marriage and yet we’re so bad at it. Mr. Cherlin, who is also the author of “Public and Private Families,” has taken upon himself the task of explaining and has come up with the following thesis: There are two powerful forces at war in America, a historic belief in marriage grounded in our religious heritage on the one hand and a foundational principle of individual freedom and a post-modern sense of the right to self-fulfillment on the other. When these values clash, breakup and divorce follow.
Here's my general conclusion:
If you are single- be careful who you marry:
Marry someone who is a believer in Jesus Christ. If you are single don’t engage in sexual activities outside of marriage; you are weakening your future relationship and breaking God’s will for your life.
If you are married and you are happy, praise God. Nurture your marriage. Your marriage relationship is more valuable than your relationship with your kids. Seek God’s grace daily for your marriage
If you are married today and you are not happy in your marriage, seek his grace. God is the one who started marriage. Pray together. Seek God together for strength in your marriage. Join a bible class and attend together. Seek counseling.
If you are divorced, You are greatly loved by God. Divorce is not the unpardonable sin. God wants to heal you of your hurts. God wants to help you avoid the mistakes of the past.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Those who are not sure of what I am referring to, the current language in our Book of Order or church constitution reads: Those who are called to office in the church are to lead a life in obedience to Scripture and in conformity to the historic confessional standards of the church. Among these standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of
marriage between a man and a woman (W-4.9001), or chastity in singleness. Persons refusing to repent of any self-acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained and/or installed as deacons, elders, or ministers of the Word and Sacrament.
At last year's General Assembly meeting in San Jose, CA, the assembly voted to send a proposed amendment to the denomination’s 173 presbyteries that would delete the current paragraph G-6.0106b (see above)—and replace it with a new G-6.0106b, which states, Those who are called to ordained service in the church, by their assent to the constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003), pledge themselves to live lives obedient to Jesus Christ the Head of the Church, striving to follow where he leads through the witness of the Scriptures, and to understand the Scriptures through the instruction of the Confessions. In so doing, they declare their fidelity to the standards of the Church. Each governing body charged with examination for ordination and/or installation (G-14.0240 and G-14.0450) establishes the candidate’s sincere efforts to adhere to these standards.”
There are similarities and major differences between these two statements and I think the presbyteries wisely voted to retain the current language. Please pray for the PC U.S.A. Thankfully, the future of this church does not rest with us; God is sovereign over all!
Friday, April 24, 2009
This is the challenge facing all who pray. Our view of God determines our response. Does God hear our prayers? Does God see how life is unfolding? Does God care? Unbelievers turn away from God for these very reasons. They do not regard the works of the Lord or the works of his hands (v.5).
But the God of Psalm 28 is not passive. God holds each person accountable. God will give to them (the wicked) according to their work and according to the evil of their deeds; … according to the work of their hands; [and] render them their due reward (v.4.
For this worshiper, God is utterly dependable, so he says, blessed be the Lord! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. (vs.6-7)
Re-read the psalm; notice how God is described. Knowledge of God is indispensable to a faith that does not buckle under pressure.
Heavenly Father, teach us more about your ways, your name, your reliability and your power to hear and respond to our prayers. Help us walk by faith and not just by sight. Amen.
The next verses (29:3-9) present seven wonder-filled statements about the voice of God.
• The voice of God is over the waters
• The voice of the Lord is powerful
• The voice of the Lord is full of majesty
• The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon
• The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire
• The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness
• The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth
Stop for a moment and think: we are called to live before and worship this powerful, indescribable God! He upholds his creation by the power of his word. Is our worship commensurate with the magnitude of God? So much of modern worship is tepid and dreary. Our ability to give full attention to the voice of God is muted by our limited, scripture starved imagination.
This Sunday when you gather for worship, and I hope you are making plans already to gather with God’s people, get beyond the music, the rituals, personal preferences, and really listen for the voice of God. Open your bible; read it; pray; confess any and all sin; ask God to prepare you for worship. And when you hear his voice speaking to you through Scripture, do what the psalmist says: shout Glory! v.9
The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
May the Lord give strength to his people!
May the Lord bless his people with peace!
Mighty God, forgive us for being so casual in the presence of your awesome power and strength. Thank you for being patient with us. Open our eyes so we can see you seated on your throne; open our ears so we can hear your terrible and strong voice. We bow down before you; you are our king forever. Amen
Monday, April 20, 2009
Father, the times in which we live are so discouraging. We are beset with mountains on every side. Thank you that you are bigger than all my problems, bigger, than all my fears, you are bigger than all my difficulties. Today, I seek your face, your wisdom and your strength. You are my confidence and you are my reward. Amen
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
Prove me, O Lord and try me, test my heart and my mind. He is like an open book before God and others. Read and examine my life. Then he says, for your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness. David points to integrity and honesty of life as it relates to his relationship with the Lord. His main goal is to please God. God is his audience. If he pleases the Lord then he knows he will be a solid person before people. This is how character is formed!
Because he walks with God relationally, there are certain places, certain things and certain people he simply avoids. (v4-5)
I love the last verse-12: My foot stands on level ground. Isn't this a great image of integrity? Solomon says for a man's ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and he ponders (or makes level) all his paths (Prov. 5:12). As we go about our lives in the coming days remember the words of Francis Bacon, the philosopher, its not what we profess but what we practice that gives us integrity.
Precious Lord, your eyes run throughout the earth examining the thoughts and attitudes of everyone. You know us from the inside out. Help us to shun all hypocrisy and attempts to win people over by being slick. Help us to walk before you in all honesty and humility. We have failed in so many ways; forgive us and let us now look unto to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. To you be all glory, amen.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Then one day, many years ago, he had an encounter with God. He was cleaning his basement and found some old vinyl records (this is how people listened to recorded music before CD's and iPods). One of the records he played spoke of how his sin led Jesus to the Cross and that Christ loved him enough to die in his place. This is the language of substitutionary atonement: Christ died for me. He said he was convicted by the Spirit and in his basement, he got on his knees, confessed Christ as his Savior and Lord. By this time he was weeping like a baby.
I came away from his house impressed that after so many years the blush of first love was still on him. He spoke of Christ as if he just met him! Personal testimonies are a powerful tool for sharing Christ with others.
Here is mine: Christ changed my life back in 1977. Early one Sunday morning I heard the song being played in my house, The Savior is waiting to enter your heart. I felt convicted by God about the condition of my life and my sins. I also felt drawn to Christ’s love and mercy. The song went on, there’s nothing in this world to keep you apart, what is your answer to him. That Sunday morning, in my bedroom, I knew that I was a sinner; I knew that Christ died to forgive me of my sinful ways, and I asked Christ to forgive me of my sin and lead me as Lord and Savior. That morning, I was born again by the Spirit of God.
Conversion is not about the drama of coming to Christ. A dramatic story of conversion from bank robbery, and a life of addiction are not required. Every testimony should have a clear statement about how sin alienates from God; and how Christ remedied the separation from God through his death and resurrection. Then talk about the difference knowing Christ as Savior and Lord makes in your life today.
I want to give you a chance to share your testimony of how you came to faith in Jesus Christ and what knowing him today means for you. Use the comment line and simply share the following question: How did you become a Christian? What difference does Christ make?
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Read through Psalm 25, notice its treasure trove of rich biblical wisdom. For example, look at the phrase in v.1, I lift up my soul. Lifting the soul up to God refers to longing, desire, to set the heart on, to be greedy/desirous of something. Like David, do we have a longing for God?
The other nugget that caught my eye is in v.14: the friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him. Friendship speaks of intimacy, fellowship, companionship. It blows my mind to think of God as friend. As a friend, God promises to instruct us in the way we should go. I love the richness of this thought. What in this Psalm speaks to you? Share a few of the passages for everyone's benefit!
Lord, through your son Jesus, you promised that you would call us your friend. You showed the deep dimensions of your love for us by laying down your life. Now Lord, I pray that you would help me and everyone who read these words to walk daily in intimate friendship with you. Thank you that all this is possible through your son Jesus Christ, our Savior, who lives and reigns with the Holy Spirit, amen.
Monday, April 13, 2009
The subject of sin is vital knowledge. To say that our first need in life is to learn about sin may sound strange, but in the sense intended it is profoundly true. If you have not learned about sin, you cannot understand yourself, or your fellow human beings, or the world you live in, or the Christian faith. And you will not be able to make head or tail of the Bible. For the Bible is an exposition of God's answer to the problem of human sin, and unless you have that problem clearly before you, you will keep missing the point of what is says. Apart from the first two chapters of Genesis, which set the stage, the real subject of every chapter of the Bible is what God does about our sins. Lose sight of this theme, and you lose your way in the Bible at once...
From J. I. Packer's book, 18 Words: The most important words you will ever know.
This is an amazing psalm of David. The Lord God, who has dominion and ownership over all the earth invites us into his presence. However, as we come before God in worship, self-examination is critical. Only those who have clean hands and pure hearts; who have not lifted up their soul to what is false and do not tell lies will receive a blessing from the Lord.
If this is true, then worship is not about external mechanics, per se, but about internal preparation, self-examination, humility, repentance, and honesty before God. This is definitely not seeker sensitive but God sensitive.
The vision of worship in Psalm 24 is so different from worship in modern day America. We are preoccupied with music, is it traditional or contemporary? Did we finish on time? Was the sermon too long or short? Did the sermon make me laugh, or was it too heavy on the bible? The result is we are less aware of God's transforming work in our lives and more fixated on how worship makes us feel. So, whose worship is it?
Lord and King of the universe, we are blessed to worship you each and every day. Forgive us for turning worship, which rightly belongs to you, into an idol of our own making. The heart of worship is all about you. We humble ourselves and repent before your all-knowing presence. Help us to see you and abandon our selfish ambitions. Amen
Friday, April 10, 2009
Of course, when the Old Testament worshipers sang this Psalm they did not think of Jesus. They most likely thought about an individual lamenting and suffering at the hands of wicked and unscrupulous people. The gospel writers turned to this powerful Psalm to depict the innocent suffering of Jesus.
Today is "Good Friday," the day the Church looks back on the sufferings and sacrifice of Christ. He who knew no sin became sin for us. In that moment when he took on my sin and your sin, God the Father, in his holiness turned aside and could not bear to look at the sins of humanity piled upon his Son.In that moment of "divine abandonment" Jesus cried in anguish, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Compare Matthew 27 with Psalm 22. See how many ways the writer of Matthew drew on this Psalm to express the sufferings of Christ on the Cross. When you are finished doing this, complete your study by reading Isaiah 53.
Last night, we gathered with the faithful at First Presby, listened to a powerful sermon by Dr. Gary Smith about the sovereignty of God in the waning moments of Christ's life. All through his trial and crucifixion Christ submitted himself to the will of his Father. He could have unleashed 12 legions of angels to rescue him from his agonies but he did not. He gave himself up for the sin of the world.
Don't sit around the house today and soak in mindless TV. Gather up your family and attend a Good Friday observance either at First Pres. or some other church. Sing the hymns, read the passion narratives, listen to the prayers, hear the word of God proclaimed.
Remember, we have to go through the cross, the shame, death, burial, before we can get to Easter and the triumph of Christ over the grave! If you understand Good Friday you will be ready for Easter!
Dear Jesus, I love you, and I thank you for standing where I should have stood; for taking God's wrath for my sin. You paid the debt I could not pay. I owed a debt I could not pay. Thank you for rescuing me from the clutches of sin. I give you the rest of my days in full surrender and devotion to your great name. Amen
Thursday, April 9, 2009
God speaks through his creation, as in, "the heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims his handiwork." Creation tells a message about its Maker. Those who are observant will hear the voice of God.
God also speaks directly through his perfect Torah (Instructions). Think Moses on Mt. Sinai; think bible, words of Jesus, Old and New Testaments.
Both are important: the heavens declare a rather general message about God. If you want to learn specific things about God, his love, mercy, holiness, don't just listen to nature, listen to his voice through Scripture. Scripture is much more specific about God, Christ, Spirit, human beings, sin, salvation, and the end of all things.
Here's the million dollar question: why does contact with God's word transform some people and leave other people cold?
Here's my answer, and I would love to hear yours: the reason why the word of God has such limited impact on church goers has to do with desire for God. The deeper our desire and our need to know God, the deeper our engagement with God's word. What do you think? Are you in the Word? If you are, tell us how and why. If you are not, let's talk about your difficulties; we may be able to help and encourage each other.
Speaking God, my ears are clogged by the noise of my world: my earthly pursuits, entertainment, concerns, muffles your voice in my life. Forgive me. Help me to realize that without your words guiding my life, I cannot know you and I shrivel to the size of my empty, worldly life. Thank you that you are ever calling me back to your words and your life. Through your perfect words my soul will live! Amen
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
"One must hand it to the gay rights movement. They have taken advantage of a morally exhausted nation that tolerates so many things that used to be intolerable—from abortion, to easy divorce, to pornography. And they have attacked American traditions at their strongest points, from the military, to pressuring Disney to allow “gay days” at their amusement parks, to marriage."
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
David asks God to deliver his soul from men, O Lord, from men of the world whose portion is in this life. v.14
On the other hand, David, who personifies God's people declares, As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.
People far from God are satisfied with the world's temporary offerings; the godly are satisfied only in seeing God and beholding God's likeness. v.15
What brings ultimate satisfaction? My mouth says, THE LORD. But on a day to day basis my life often contradicts my words.
Lord, may my satisfaction be only in you, my Lord and my King. Amen
Monday, April 6, 2009
Someone has observed that there are three stages of Bible study that many students of the Bible pass through. The first is the “cod-liver” oil stage where they treat the study of the Bible like taking medicine. Although it tastes terrible, they swallow it anyway because they know it is good for them. The second phase has been called the “shredded-wheat biscuit” stage, dry but nourishing. And the third is the “peaches-and-cream” category, where reading and studying the Bible is eagerly anticipated and sincerely enjoyed. Which stage are you in? Romans: An Outline Study by Dr. Wesley Gerig
And since we are on the subject of reading, Dr. Al Mohler cites recent studies done by researchers that prove reading is actually good for your health. Read on to learn more...
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Which raises the question: Is it possible to be a Christian without knowing what you believe? Share your thoughts!
Friday, April 3, 2009
Palm Sunday Worship at 10:00 AM.
Maundy Thursday and Communion service at 7:00 PM-April 9
Good Friday from 12:00 to 3:00 PM
Easter Sun Rise service and breakfast 7:00 AM
Easter Service at 10:00
May this upcoming Holy Week bring us closer to Christ our Crucified and Risen Savior!
In Your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures forever more.
David trusts in God's ability to guide his life. He prays, preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, you are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.
The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot; the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; Indeed I have a beautiful inheritance. v.6
I bless the Lord who gives me counsel-this is so cool. If I ask, if I take the time and effort to seek God about the questions of my life, God will counsel me! In the night also my heart instructs me. v.7
I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. v8
In light of this truth, David says, therefore my flesh dwells securely. Even if I die, God will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let his holy one see corruption.
Precious Lord, on this 3rd day of April 2009, help us to rest securely in your guidance. May we seek your counsel regarding the perplexing questions of life. Thank you that you will make known to us the path of life. When we stand at the cross roads of life you will show us the way forward. Amen
Based on Psalm 16
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Your Pastor's goal is to preach systematically from the Old and New Testament books of the bible. I just completed a series of messages from Revelation.
I am now working through the Old Testament prophecy of Malachi. I am calling the series Renewing your spiritual passion: A Study in Malachi. Malachi preached at a time of enormous spiritual apathy; much like or times.
1. The people questioned whether God loved them
2. The priests were corrupt and careless in their calling
3. Marriage was no longer honored
4. People withheld their tithes
5. People were tired of serving God because the righteous suffered while the unrighteous prospered.
Come study the bible at First Presbyterian Church this Sunday; come and renew your passion for God.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
There are three Hebrew words for fool, and all speak of moral orientation rather than intellectual ability. The fool of Psalm 14 reflects someone who stubbornly rejects wisdom; the word lies behind the name Nabal. (Remember him from I Samuel 25:25?)
The phrase, there is no God, expresses not philosophical atheism but the idea that God, if he exists, takes no interest in human affairs and will not call people to account for their deeds.
Those who believe that God is distant, ineffective, powerless, will always see a corresponding moral and spiritual decline in their lives.
Could it be that this is what's wrong with our world?