For it is by grace you have been saved...

Sunday, April 4, 2021

An Easter Hymn

 Been a while since I posted a hymn, I think.  I've always been fascinated by those preachers of bygone days who would write their own hymns for the worship in their churches.  I don't do it a lot, and most of them I use borrowed tunes from older hymns.  But there are a couple that we actually sing on occasion at our church. 

I was up at 2am a few nights ago (a currently recurring occurrence), and had a few lines run through my head.  So, since I was awake anyway, I put together a few more lines and turned it into an Easter hymn.  We sang this in our Sunday morning service today, though I rarely make it known that it's something I wrote (until, of course, I then post it online for the world to see). 

Not the best offering, but it's from a heart of gratitude and worship. 

Resurrection Morn

My life was in such sorrow
No hope was given at all
No promise of tomorrow
Till I heard the Gospel call

The clouds of sin have parted
The shroud of death has been torn
New life in Christ has started
On this Resurrection morn.

Sin’s debt had built such a sum
The price I never could pay
Christ died to pay my ransom
And rose again the third day


Sometimes I still feel the weight
My sin seems to drag me down
But in Christ my fears abate
For He promised me a crown


If you know you’ve lost your way
And feel there’s no hope at all
Just look to our Christ today
And answer His Gospel call


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Jesus Christ and Him Crucified

 The world is in a mess.  If you hadn't noticed, you must not be paying much attention.  It's pretty frustrating.  

But what's more frustrating to me is the cry from so many for the church to address this or that issue.  Not in a biblical way, but in terms of bowing to this or that agenda.  Certainly the church ought to be involved in our world, addressing genuine needs, calling out true injustice and immorality, etc.  

Yet, we can't let that distract us from our central message, which is Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  Because in the end, the cross is the answer for all those other problems.  The only answer that can legitimately do anything about it all.  Only changed hearts.  Only through Christ.  

Here's the message from this past Sunday addressing all this and much more as we looked at The Death of Jesus.  

Monday, March 1, 2021

Strong Shepherd, Weak Sheep

 Sometimes we forget the simplest truths.  Like the one taught in the simplest of church songs. "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.  Little ones to Him belong; they are weak, He is strong."  We are weak.  Apart from Christ we can do nothing, we have nothing, we are nothing. 

There are several issues that brought this to mind recently, not the least of which is the example of the disciples in Matthew 26:30-35.  Seeing their overconfidence, being reminded of Christ's work, and thinking of the things we are currently facing as a nation, all remind me that while we ought to be bold and confident in the face of temptation and trials; we also ought to be careful.  We need to be sure our strength is found in Christ alone, and not our own ideas and agendas.

Well, for the rest of it, you'll have to watch this. 

Monday, February 8, 2021

How We Respond to Christ

 Not everyone recognizes Jesus for who He is.  Some deny Him.  Some want to speak of their own made up ideas of who He is.  It's a mixed bag.  And quite frankly, we can't control how others see Jesus. 

We can look to our own hearts and be sure that we are responding in faith, that we are watching our own hearts and actions instead of judging others, and that we are passionately worshiping and serving Christ in all we do. 

At the beginning of Matthew 26 we see several approaches to Jesus and His coming death, from God's eternal plan, to His enemies' plotting and betrayal, to a beautiful portrait of worship.  Again, my prayer is that we use this to examine our own hearts before our King.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Judgment is Coming!

 I know the world we live in hates biblical facts.  I know we all want to buy into the "believe-whatever-you-want" mentality.  Regardless, we can't escape the fact that Jesus is very clear about the judgment coming when He returns to consummate His Kingdom.  

One day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.  Some will do so with joy.  Some will do so with shame and dread.  But all will confess.  

As I've said before, and I say in this message, I don't talk about hell and judgment to scare people, to try and manufacture some emotional response.  I share that truth because it IS truth, and people desperately need to hear this truth.  Jesus is our only hope of salvation.

As we wrap up chapter 25 of Matthew's gospel, this truth is on bright display in the separating of the sheep and goats.  A more important message cannot be found.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Working While We Wait

 We know our Lord is returning.  We know His Kingdom will come.  We know all things will be made right. So we live in hope.  But what do we do in the meantime?

It's hard to be optimistic about things when in this world our new administration has...

  *committed themselves to furthering the slaughter of innocent babies...

  *worked to legitimize perversion and mental illness as normal by appointing a deranged man who thinks he's a woman to a national health care post, commanding women's restrooms to be opened to men, and forcing schools to allow men to compete against women in sports...

  *and includes "transgender faith leaders" to lead in a national prayer service.

Again, what are we to do?  How does the church respond, and how are godly people to live in this sin infested world?  Well, by getting busy for the Kingdom.  As I said in my last blog post, that's our priority, even while we still stand for truth in this world, we work for the world to come.  Here's more from Sunday's message looking at Matthew 25:14-30

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Seek First the Kingdom

 In days gone by, I used to post on this blog much more often.  And in those bygone days, I would often address political issues and even support presidential candidates.  In fact, my support of one candidate actually got the attention of a St. Louis area newspaper, and once they picked it up, it actually led to me being interviewed by the New York Times.  Ahh, the good old days when I was marginally famous for a fleeting second. 

I still feel very passionately about political issues.  I still believe that for Christian people to be good citizens of the land in which they live, in this nation anyway, means being involved in the political process.  Voting to be sure, but even campaigning, writing letters to elected officials, etc.  It's also a very practical thing. If you aren't involved, I tend to think you lose the right to complain.

In more recent times, not only has my output on this blog decreased significantly, but in these highly politicized times, I've chosen to remain silent on many of those issues.  Again, it's not that my opinions are any less fixed, or honestly, that I have less of a desire to share those opinions.  I sort of believe that everyone is entitled to my opinion.  And in the days ahead, I make no promise that I won't feel that urge to sound off about an issue or two. 

My lack of posting on those issues comes down to two basic things.  One, because everything is SO highly politicized, because people are so hyped up about so many issues (some worth the hype, some not), and because it seems people are so easily offended, I'm just trying to be a bit more careful.  Again, not that I don't think some issues are worth getting pumped up about (abortion, the LGBT agenda, free speech, to name a few).  It's just that it seems no matter what you say, you end up making a bunch of people mad. 

 Not that I mind making folks mad.  Not really.  I mean, I like being liked as much as anyone.  It's just that if I'm going to make folks mad, I want it to be for the right reasons.  Which is the other basic issue I'm dealing with.  I've become more and more convicted of the simple truth that as a Christian in general, and a pastor in particular, I need to be focused on seeking the Kingdom first. 

Now, I understand that when Jesus uses that phrase in Matthew 6 during the Sermon on the Mount, He's speaking in the context of not being anxious.  Don't worry about food and money and other worldly things, don't let those things make you anxious. Instead, Jesus says, seek first the Kingdom of God, and all the rest will be provided.  So, politics isn't in mind at all here. 

And yet, there is a principle in the idea of seeking first the Kingdom and trusting God with the rest that does apply to every area of our lives.  Especially when we remember that as followers of Christ, our citizenship is in Heaven.  Our first loyalty is to our Lord and King, Jesus Christ.  And our first priority is the Commission He gave us to go and make disciples.  To share the gospel.  To see His Kingdom grow and expand in this world, even as we look to and long for the world to come.  

Sadly, too many have equated the Kingdom with this or that earthly nation, this or that political cause.  Too many have equated being a good Christian with being a good Republican or Democrat or Libertarian, or whatever.  And don't misread this.  I think there are some political issues and policies that absolutely should be supported/opposed by biblically minded Christians. For example, I don't see how any self-professing Christian could ever support abortion or those politicians who support it.  Likewise, Scripture is clear on issues of sexuality and purity, and we ought to be clear in our stand on those issues, as well as supporting politicians and policies who are in agreement with the Scriptural view. 

 And yet, the reality is my focus needs to be on the Kingdom.  Preach the Gospel.  Make disciples.  Because only changed hearts will change the world.  Seek first the Kingdom, and let God handle the rest.  Again, I'm not advocating holing up somewhere and ignoring this world.  I still encourage folks to be involved.  I still want to fight for my rights as a citizen the way Paul did in Acts 25.  

But I choose to focus my attention first on the Kingdom.  That's my true citizenship, and deserves my attention.  This world will pass.  This nation will pass.  My hope is not in presidents and policies.  The church has endured through so much worse, and will endure regardless of godless politicians and even persecution.  

In the end, the cry of my heart is the same as the church through the ages:  "Come, Lord Jesus!"

Monday, January 18, 2021

Be Prepared

 I used to be a Boy Scout.  Way, way back in the day.  As in before Scouts simply became a political tool.  But I digress.  As most folks know, the motto of the Boy Scouts was "Be Prepared."  Not such a bad motto.

As we've moved into chapter 25 of our study of Matthew, Jesus reminds us that being prepared for His return is a rather important issue.  He tells a parable which shows that not all who claim to be ready truly are.  And for those who are found unprepared when our Lord does return, the verdict is sad indeed.

Monday, January 11, 2021

An Overview from Olivet

 Some texts are just harder than others to deal with, interpret, apply, etc.  All of Scripture is perfect, so the difficulty comes from our sinful minds, not God's delivery.  Still, when it comes to things like eschatology in general, there are so many "sides", so many competing agendas, that it's sometimes a struggle to know where to come down. 

In our study of Matthew's Gospel, I've been dreading coming to the Olivet Discourse for this very reason.  There are so many various ideas of what Jesus is talking about in various sections of the text.  Good, godly men that I respect genuinely disagree.  So what's a guy to do?  Well, you'll have to tune in to find out.