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Pastoral Thoughts

(Almost) Too Hot to Handle, and Another Thing Not as Hot as You Might Think.

My family and I spent a very casual and relaxed Christmas dinner with my sister and her family, and somewhere in the mealtime conversation she asked me, “So what are you going to write about next?”

I said something like, “I don’t really know. Something other than suffering, for a change.” Granted, for us it’s been a year that has had a lot of suffering in it, and unlike the inimitable 17th century theologian/writer John Owen who was able to endure the death of ten children and hardly pen a public word about it, I’ve hardly been able to think or write about anything else. It’s probably getting old to hear the same thing over and over. So it’s time for a change. Continue reading “(Almost) Too Hot to Handle, and Another Thing Not as Hot as You Might Think.”

Merry Grown-Up Christmas!

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:3-4

Some of my fondest Christmas memories involve lying stretched out beside my siblings in the back of our ’79 Caprice Estate wagon, seats laid down to make a bed, Mom lying across the bench seat, asleep with her head on Dad’s lap while he drove all night through yet another Upper Michigan snowstorm. He promised to wake us up to see the Mackinac Bridge, and if we begged him, he’d drive on the grating in the middle lane so we could pop a door open and stare down at the water hundreds of feet below. Mom never really understood the joy of that gift. Never for a moment did I consider even it a possibility we wouldn’t arrived at Gramma’s safely. There’s not a blizzard in the world Dad couldn’t drive through, so when we hit one that was so bad he pulled off in Marquette to spend the night at the Super8, I still think it was probably more because he wanted to let us swim in the pool. Of course, we didn’t pack swim trunks, and ShopKo in Marquette doesn’t sell them in December, so as I recall we bought boxer shorts, swam in them. Good memories, happy days. Continue reading “Merry Grown-Up Christmas!”

Jesus, See My Bride!

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. – Paul

One of the enduring marks of the image of God found in people is the joy of creating beauty. When God created the world, He made a beautiful creation. The story of redemption is the transformation of that which had been uglified (to borrow a term from Narnia) into something gloriously lovely.

Even children love creating beauty. The first time those chubby hands awkardly grasp a crayon and scribble all over a page, they look up and say, “Look what I made!” and those innocent eyes are begging for your approval – “Oh honey, it’s beautiful! You’re an amazing artist!” Continue reading “Jesus, See My Bride!”

The Protestant Reformation

by Pastor Eric Anderson

 

In 2017 we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. October 31, 1517 is the generally accepted beginning of the protestant movement and renewal of the true church, when humble men and women Re-formed their lives worship and the church based upon The Gospel of Jesus Christ. All the Reformation gains were summarized by what we call the Five Solas. Continue reading “The Protestant Reformation”

Doctor’s Orders: Lloyd-Jones on obsession with polemics

The polemic element is of course important and it has its very definite place; it is good for the people. But I’m warning now against the danger of too much polemic. And I think this will be the danger when most of you begin. You’ve been struggling with rival theories and heresies and things of this description, and your mind is naturally full of this. But I say be careful that you don’t have too much of this. Why? Well the people, the bulk of the people to start with are probably not interested. A large number of them don’t even understand. Remember that, there are such people. Now I’m saying there’s a place for it; I’m saying that there mustn’t be too much. And of course you’ve always got a certain number in the congregation who are too interested in polemics and it’s very bad for them of all the people. They’re the people who will travel miles in order to hear a slashing attack on a man, on a theory, or all the rest of it. And as you know, men who are always polemical generally get a good hearing and generally get good collections also. But this is a real snare. Now I’m so concerned about this because I’ve seen good men ruined in this way, and I’ve seen good ministers ruined. I’ve seen great preachers ruined, I think, by this. Continue reading “Doctor’s Orders: Lloyd-Jones on obsession with polemics”

What’s up with the “Silly, Weak Women”?

For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. – 2Tim. 3:6-7

Paul must have hated women. Either that, or he was so entrenched in the unenlightened, oppressive, chauvinistic culture of the day he can be entirely disregarded as an irrelevant misogynist. Or so the ultra-tolerant and hyper-diverse entirely non-judgmental thinking of our era might say.

Why did he have to pick on the ladies, though? “Weak women weighed down with sins” isn’t very loving, especially coming from the guy who commanded women to keep silent in the church, submit to their husbands, and cover their heads. The translators in the employ of King James had the audacity to render this text “silly women,” so no extra points for flattery there.

So what’s the deal with these silly, weak, or gullible (NKJV) women? Continue reading “What’s up with the “Silly, Weak Women”?”

What is Job Thankful for on Thanksgiving?

First published Nov. 24, 2016

Thanksgiving, because it’s a yearly holiday, sort of lends itself to reviewing the previous year and giving thanks for the good things the Lord has done in our lives. Often it’s a remembrance of physical ailments overcome, occupational transitions accompanied by increased income, or other assorted and sundry triumphs.

But life is hard, and sometimes one arrives at Thanksgiving worse off than the year before. The diagnosis wasn’t good, the job didn’t come through, the marriage fell apart, the loved one died. And what I’ve noticed in years like that is the uncanny ability for the afflicted, the disappointed, and the frustrated to still be able to give thanks. Continue reading “What is Job Thankful for on Thanksgiving?”

Christian, If You Must Fight Your Brother, Do So, but Fight Fair.

there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another” Acts 15:39

The most famous intramural Christian quarrel in the Bible is probably the quarrel between Paul and Barnabas over whether or not to take John Mark along on their next missionary journey. It became so heated and severe that they parted ways over it. Fighting happens between the greatest of men, the most gifted of men, the sweetest of men (the Son of Encouragement) and the most humble of men (“by the grace of God I am what I am…”).

This isn’t an article to deal with how to avoid quarreling, because I’ve no doubt there’s plenty of material available for that. This is some thoughts about how one might actually quarrel, and quarrel well, even if it ends up with picking a new partner in ministry, or heading to a Mediterranean island with a rejected one. Continue reading “Christian, If You Must Fight Your Brother, Do So, but Fight Fair.”

Listen Fast; Speak Slow

…everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. – James 1:19-20

Make haste to listen. Be reluctant to speak. That means, I think, not that we should never speak, but rather when we do, our speech is enriched by much listening, making it meaningful. The opposite is reluctant to hear, hastening to speak, which is the style of the angry man.

Anger achieves nothing, at least in the way of the righteousness of God. Anger produces much speech, but it’s worthless speech, because, among other things, it hasn’t heard anything, and is, I suppose, shallow, misdirected, irrelevant, and by common appraisal, not worth listening to.

We live in a slow-hearing, quick speaking age. It’s the age of social media – the speech must pour forth like a river, lest the speaker run the risk of disappearing into the long-forgotten archives of 24 hours ago. Continue reading “Listen Fast; Speak Slow”

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