Slip Sliding Away

Slip Sliding Away

How does a soul, a family, a nation drift away from God?

The Faithfulness of God

The Faithfulness of God

Back behind the devil’s tireless efforts to trip you up, there lies the ever constant, never failing protecting hand of God.

Getting Your Point Across

Getting Your Point Across

Even the best of marriages are beset by communication difficulties. Part of our problem is that we leave so much unsaid in our communication…

For the Love of God

For the Love of God

Our Christian life will never outgrow our knowledge of God’s love. It is the root from which everything else grows (Eph 3:17).

Walking in the Light

Walking in the Light

How can you claim to be walking with God, if your life trajectory is constantly moving away from Him?

At the Father's Table

At the Father's Table

God has filled the simple act of eating with a significance far beyond the daily necessities of nutrition. A deep and abiding social instinct draws us to the table together. Though we can snack alone, we prefer to meal together. Food is the universal language of love, and dining alone feels like a deserted city, an empty church, a dark fireplace. Solitary meals may satisfy one hunger, but they inflame all the rest. 


Lighting the Fire

Lighting the Fire

When it comes to educating teenagers, the thing you have to remember is that it’s not so much about filling a bucket, it is about lighting a fire!”

No Open Windows

No Open Windows

Psalm 121:8
8 The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

Brigitte Macron, the French first lady, complained this week regarding the overly restrictive atmosphere in the White house, “Mrs Trump can’t do anything,” she whined,  “She can’t even open a window at the White House.” According to the Guardian's translation of Le Monde's French-language report, Brigitte continued, “She can’t go outside. She’s much more constrained than I am. I go out every day in Paris.”

My first thought when I read this was gratitude to our Secret Service. It seems they are actually concerned to keep the First Family alive. Every threat has been anticipated. Every avenue of attack has been closed down. Open windows represent a chink in the armor, a way for threats to enter, a risk factor threatening the atmosphere of safety inside the “Shield.”

My next thought after hearing Ms. Macron’s complaint was to think of our heavenly Father. He, too, has a “no open windows” policy around His children. No evil will be allowed near us (Psalm121:7), that is to say no unintended evil, unpermitted evil, evil that is not designed to work together for our good (Romans 8:28).

What an encouraging thought. An unseen protector has His eye on you continually. Before the President makes a trip from the White House, the agents spend up to 3 months planning every detail. But God has spent eternity planning your every movement. Life never takes Him by surprise. When things go “wrong” in our day, we sometimes say, “Stuff happens!” Life seems so unpredictable. But that is precisely what does not happen in God’s plan. Stuff never happens to Him. God has it all in His hands.  From Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things. He see’s every cell of your body. No hidden malignancy escapes his notice. The one who kept even the dogs from growling against Israel in Egypt (Exodus 11:7), keeps an omnipotent muzzle on the demonic forces who mean us woe. On His calendar, He marked the day you took your first breath, and He has marked the day, the hour, the second, you will take your last one. Every day in between is scheduled by kind providence. “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in His way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, for the Lord is the One who holds His hand.” Psalm 37:23-24). I have been meditating on this verse recently. Do you realize, Christian, God puts His heart into His plans for you. How this thought should silence every complaint. An old writer once said, “If I had the power of God there are many details I would change in my life, but if I had His wisdom and love, I would leave things exactly as they are!” Where in your life are you tempted to demur? Where is your soul tensing, resisting the massaging hands of God’s grace.  He is rubbing the knots out. At times, to be sure, this process will be painful. The key is to relax into the pressure. He means us well and is too wise to err, and too loving to cause His child a needless tear. Whatever befalls you this week. Remember God’s no “open window policy.” You are His beloved. Everything is in His hands.

A Trinity of Evil

A Trinity of Evil

In the book of Revelation, John speaks also of a Trinity from the pit of hell: The Dragon, His image— the Beast from the Sea, and the Beast from the land.


Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now

At the request of several of the young people, I plan to begin a short series this week looking at the book of Revelation in our youth Sunday School. I wonder could you explain its message to your children if they were to ask you?

Many Christians are understandably threatened by this book. It’s images are dark, mysterious, and often foreboding; they don’t know what to do with them. To make matters worse, much of the American Church has completely lost the plot when it comes to interpreting Revelation, preferring to use fanciful and highly imaginative interpretive grids in an effort to come to grips with its message. In the end, however, such attempts tend to conceal much more than reveal John’s original message.

In his fantastic book, The Triumph of the Lamb, Dennis E. Johnson proposes a number of bedrock principles to guide us as we make our way through John’s apocalypse. I list them here in the hope that they might help you in your forays into this book (which I pray will be more frequent and fruitful in the future than perhaps they were in the past!).

  1. Revelation is given to Reveal. God has not given this book to confuse us or to terrify us, but to help us see through the appearance of things, to grasp what’s really going on behind the scenes of history. The very word Revelation comes from the Greek “Apocalypse.” It means to unveil something hidden, to pull back the curtains so that you might see what is going on behind them.
  2. Revelation is a Book to Be Seen: The motif of a prophet “Seeing” something occurs fifty-two times in the book. To read his message aright, we must see what John is showing us (1:11). Building on this them, John includes a host of symbols in motion. Some of these symbols are quite dramatic: a dragon, a beast from the sea, a whore riding on a beast. One of John’s key points is to show you: things are not what they seem, his images are intended to show you things in their true colors! Christ has His bride, a pure virgin; and the Devil has the world as his whore (c.f.Revelation 12&17).  Do you see His point? The world may look pretty, but the reality is quite different.
  3. Revelation makes sense only in Light for the Old Testament: John writes as the climax of the OT prophetic tradition. Those of you enjoying (or enduring) our evening series on the Book of Isaiah will recognize John picking upon the God’s judgment against the worldly city “Babylon (Revelation 18). He lifts this straight out of the books of Isaiah and Ezekiel. Or you might think of the Trumpets, warning the world of coming judgment. Doesn’t this remind you of Israel blowing the trumpets around Jericho? John speaks of plagues being poured out upon the world, huge locusts devouring all around them, etc. It’s not hard to see the Exodus themes here with God sending plagues upon Egypt, and redeeming His people out from the world, after which they sing the song of Moses (Note the song of Moses in Exodus 15 & Revelation 15).
  4. Numbers Count in Revelation: John uses numerical symbolism throughout the book, particularly the numbers seven, ten, and twelve. Seven symbolizes completeness. Twelve is the number of the people of God. The number ten is significant when it numbers the dragon’s heads (12:3), and those of the beast (13:1; 17:12; cf. Dan 7:7), or when it signifies a brief, ten-day period of affliction to be endured (2:10). It can also be cubed to one thousand, symbolizing a vast number, size, or dimension (E.g. 144,000 sealed in heaven: 12 tribes of Israel X 12 Apostles X 1000, symbolizing the enormous number of people saved from the Old and the New Testament people of God, safely sealed by God for salvation).
  5. Revelation is for the Church under attack:The violence of Revelation’s visions is at times nightmarish. She faces danger on every side: physical threats, spiritual deception, and material seduction. Yet time and again, John sees a throne in the heavens. We must endure hardship as good soldiers of Christ Jesus. Those who do will be saved.
  6. Revelation concerns what “Must Soon Take Place. Daniel, you remember, was commanded to seal up the words of His prophecy (Daniel 12:4), John, by contrast, is commanded not to seal up his book, “For the time is near” (Rev. 22:10). There is much we could say here, but suffice it to say this: we must give due weight to the interpretive value of this principle-- Revelation gave first-century Christians insight into the purpose of God in their time and for their lives. Therefore we should read the book of Revelation with the assumption that God intended the first-century believers to get the message of the book, and so we should read its visions against the back-drop of Old Testament imagery, rather than forcing them into the template of twenty-first century technologies (E.G. Locusts=Apache attack helicopters!!! No they are an OT sign of the judgment of God— Read Exodus and the book of Joel) or politics.
  7. The Victory Belongs to God and to His Christ! The book climaxes in worship, with the Church singing songs of praise and celebration. It is not a book intended to cause you fear— if you know Christ as Savior! Read the end of it: WE WIN!

We live perilous times, tomorrow is uncertain, but the future is clear and bright. Christ shall have dominion. “Dark, dark maybe the conflict, but dayspring is at hand. Glory, glory, dwelleth in Immanuel’s land!” 

No doubt we will all face times when we lament, “I don’t know how this will end up!” But the book of revelation whispers, “Yes, you do! It will end with Jesus wiping all the tears from your eyes!” Take heart, little flock, the future belongs to Jesus, and because of Him, it belongs to us as well! Press on...

No Pain No Love

No Pain No Love

Pain is God's school bell, and one of the many ways He tells His children, I love you!"

Team Shepherding

Team Shepherding

The office of elder has deep roots extending back beyond the New Testament Church (1Timothy 3; Titus 1) to the time of Moses and Israel’s wilderness wanderings. God Himself intends these men to help Moses bear the burden of leadership, to be the Spirit’s earthly hands leading God’s people to the Land of Canaan. 

A New Commandment

A New Commandment

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another." (John 13:34)

Tradition's Quiet Beauty

Tradition's Quiet Beauty

"Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy o those who merely happen to be walking about."

Building a Bridge to Nowhere

Building a Bridge to Nowhere

How do you find a point a point of contact with those with whom you seem to believe nothing in common?

Culture Wars

Culture Wars

Beneath the surface of our culture, a war rages with deep roots. It’s as if the French Revolution and the American Revolution are happening all at once and in the same country. 

To Love Well

To Love Well

How can we learn to love well?

All in?

All in?

It is easier to lament a lack of zeal than to find its source....