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Common Men; Uncommon Master

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Pastoral Thoughts

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?

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”

The Messy Must

For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. -1 Corinthians 11:18-19

The church takes a lot of heat and often gains a rather poor reputation for her internal strife. After all, shouldn’t followers of Jesus be the most loving, kind, loyal, friendly, or, most of all, nice people in the world? It sure seems like it. Even the unbelieving world holds us to a higher standard of morality and loving our neighbor than they do themselves, and why shouldn’t they? Continue reading “The Messy Must”

Flavel on the Death of a Believer

As temporal death is a penal evil, and part of the curse, so God inflicts it not upon believers; but they must die for other ends, namely, to be made perfectly happy in a more full and immediate enjoyment of God, than they can have in the body: and so, death is theirs by way of privilege.

John Flavel, Fountain of Life

ed. note: this particular quote is a favorite of mine for use in the funeral of a believer. It is also especially meaningful to me, as it was my use of this quotation which caught the ear of Pastor Eric Anderson, and opened our first conversation and subsequent friendship together, which has been of great value to me. -jr

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