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The temple destroyed . . . God’s people captive . . . distress of every kind on every hand . . .
Those are the conditions under which the writer of Lamentations 22 wrote:
His mercies never end, they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
Do you believe it, Christian? If not; why not? May I suggest a reason?
You have trouble singing the hymn based on this verse because you don’t look for those mercies every morning! Jeremiah (the probable author of these words) looked—and he found! If you are on the lookout, you too will do so. How about it? Do you need a coffee “fix” in the morning, or a wake-up call to explore God’s mercies?
Is it because you see the need in the church today? Is it because of some situation that you were involved in where you saw that counseling was not provided when it ought to have been? Is it because you have always had a desire to minister to others? Is it because you like to be authoritative and tell others what to do? Even from these few suggestions, obviously, you can see that there are many reasons why someone might want to counsel; some laudable, some not. What are yours?
Perhaps you don’t even know why you are becoming interested—couldn’t spell out the reasons out if you were forced to do so at gun point. There simply may be something about counseling that entices you that you are unable to articulate. Perhaps you believe that you have gifts that seem to point you toward counseling. Whatever the reason—or reasons—you ought to sort them out. Why? Because the time will come when you will have to ask yourself whether or not your reasons are sufficient to sustain your interest in counseling. Counseling can get wearisome at times. It can become demanding, discouraging and time-consuming. It is in times like those that a proper, biblical...
Paul didn’t (see 2 Cor. 4:1, 16 HCSB). He didn’t, even though he had greater reason than you probably do for giving up (see vs. 7-15).
What kept him going on and on and on in spite of his trials? He tells you later in the chapter. Even though trials were wearing him out physically, inwardly he was being “renewed day by day (v. 16).”
Now why would God pour strength into him that way? Because he had the proper outlook, for one thing.
Here’s what he said:
What is happening to me is momentary, light, affliction. (v. 17).
How could he say that after all he underwent? He compared it with what was yet to come.
What was that? In contract to each of those three words, he looked forward to
an eternal weight of glory.
That’s what we all need—the belief in what God says awaits those who serve Him.
Peter opens his second letter with these words:
May grace and peace be multiplied to you
He wishes for blessings for his readers using the Greek (grace) and Hebrew (peace) salutations. What a marvelous introduction to what follows!
But how does this come about? Here Peter launches out beyond any ordinary salutation saying,
Through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord
Thereby, he doesn’t leave us a vague hope of sorts—no, he gives direction as well: we can receive grace (unmerited favor, mercy, help) and peace (tranquility and well-being) through knowledge.
Ah . . Christians need knowledge. Probably one of the greatest lacks in our day is genuine knowledge. Too many try to get along with a sheer paucity of it. How much knowledge do you have?
But it’s not just any old kind of knowledge he has in mind—what is in view is knowledge of God and His Son, Jesus Christ. First, the knowledge of the Gospel (how that Christ died for all those who would trust in Him as Savior) and then, knowledge of all the things that Jesus has commanded (Mt. 28: 20).
Have you even checked out the ...
Let’s just face the facts. Today, many Christians do not think attending church is that important. In the past, Christians believed that actively being a part of a church body was absolutely necessary to one’s faith. There used to be an understanding in Christian families that unless one was deathly ill or there was a family emergency, you just never ever missed church. So what has changed and caused so many people to view the church as a disposable good instead of as an intricate part of one’s spiritual life?
Good to consider, especially for those of us who place a high priority on family:
The coming of Jesus Christ signifies the beginning of the ultimate expression of God’s presence with man. His very name – Emmanuel – means God with us, or God among us. John 1:1 tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In verse 14, John writes, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. This dwelling has the idea of dwelling in a tent. Christ “tabernacled” among us. God had been with Israel in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple, but now God the Son, by adding to himself a true and perfect human nature, was tabernacling among mankind in the most intimate way yet. God was in the presence of men as a man. This is why John adds to verse 14, “And we beheld His glory”.
When Jesus came, he came not simply to dwell among us. He came to die for the sin that alienates man from God. In other words, he came to make it possible for us to live in God’s presence in loving communion. Because of the Incarnation, it is possible for humans to become...
Last time I wrote, I gave the first of three points that demonstrate the authority of the congregation. Here is a second way that the Bible describes the congregation exercising authority.
(2) The congregation is involved in the selection and election of deacons and elders.
That deacons are selected by a congregation finds clear precedent in Scripture. When the first deacons were chosen,1 the apostles told the church in...
These are good:
I’m a homeschooler, and creator of the Facebook group, “Schoolin’ Swag”. This past Monday, we hosted a huge giveaway event called the “Planner Palooza”, featuring over 25 prizes. It was a great event!
Well, I’ve been investigating planners for at least 3 years, and in preparation for the Palooza, I did research all over the web, looking for the best products I could find to offer. I thought I’d seen it all. Then I got an email from the Homeschool Buyer’s Co-Op and my life took a new turn!
The Co-Op offers “Homeschool Planet” (click <– that link to see a video!) exclusively. Right now there is an offer to check it out for free for 30 days. It looked interesting, and was totally...
Click here to listen (free streaming)! This is Ben Everson’s album, “A Cappella”…fresh and beautiful!
We’ll be blessed to have Ben and his family with us on June 29, 30…with a sacred concert on Monday, June 30th. Looking forward to it!
Roger Goodell and the NFL absolutely dropped the ball on the Ray Rice domestic violence situation.
Rice knocked his then girlfriend/now wife (what was she thinking? Does she have no one speaking into her life?) unconscious in a hotel elevator. He is now suspended for two games of the 2014 season.
Yes, that’s not a typo. He knocked his girlfriend unconscious in a rage and is suspended for two games.
By comparison, Terrell Pryor pulled some shenanigans to avoid an NCAA suspension and get in the NFL through the supplemental draft and got a five game suspension before he was ever in the NFL.
A guy named Robert Mathis got four games for taking some fertility drugs to help his wife conceive. Yes, four games for trying to start a family with your wife. Two games for knocking out your soon-to-be wife.
Using marijuana will you get you a whole year in the NFL, even in states where it’s legal to smoke marijuana.
So assuming the rational position that the punishment should fit the crime, and that we reward or punish based on relative significance, the NFL has declared that beating a woman unconscious is not as significant as trying to have...
The end of the week brings thoughts of the end of the age. At least for me it does, as I finalize a message for tomorrow on Matthew 24 and the Olivet Discourse.
A lot could be said about this passage, but what gets my keyboard going today is Craig Blomberg’s comments in the NAC regarding the identity of the “great distress” (NIV) in Matthew 24:21. He says,
The concept of a period of unparalleled distress (based on Dan 12:1) causes problems. If these two verses simply depict the horrors surrounding the war of A.D. 70, it is hard to see how v. 21 could be true. If they point to some end-time sacrilege, just before the Parousia, then it is hard to see how Matthew allows for a gap of at least two thousand years between vv. 20–21.*
I think he is correct that these verses cannot describe the war of A. D. 70. There’s too much history of violence to identify that event as “unequaled from the beginning until now, and never to be equaled again.” Not to mention, the Bible describes a period just before the end that is even worse than A.D. 70. It might be that A.D. 70 is a type of some sort, or a downpayment of sorts on that which is to come. But it is...
One last post on Hobby Lobby, and then I am done … at least for now.
The Detroit Free Press reports recently that some Democrats in Congress are making plans to pass a law to override the recent SCOTUS decision in the HL religious freedom case. That has apparently now been refused, as a mentioned in a previous post.
This article shows that people with microphones in front of their face still don’t get it. Here are three examples of the absolute falsehoods being propagated by people who should know better.
Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow says, “I am eager to work with my colleagues to make sure that women are making health care decisions in consultation with their doctor, not their employer.”
Perhaps she was out of the country and just got back and hasn’t had time to read the news yet, but there is nothing in this decision that has anything to do with women and their doctors. The women who work at HL are still completely free to consult with their doctors, to use whatever birth control they desire, and to have an abortion if they so desire. This decision...
Person 1: We have to outlaw _________, because too many people are getting killed.
Person 2: If we outlaw that, then people will just get it through other means that won’t be as safe and controlled.
Person 1: That doesn’t matter. We have to do it anyway.
If you put “guns” in the blank, you probably tend towards the liberal end of the political spectrum in the USA.
If you put “abortion” in the blank, you probably tend towards the conservative end of the political spectrum in the USA.
Both sides tend to support the things they like and oppose (at least in voice) the things they dislike.
I am reminded of this recently when I see that some in our Congress have introduced a bill to override the recent decision of SCOTUS in the Hobby Lobby case. Word is that the GOP has rejected it.
Can you imagine the outrage if someone had introduced a bill to overturn SCOTUS in the ACA/Obamacare case?
Turns out you don’t have to imagine it. We have seen the outrage of people on the left when the GOP (rightly or wrongly) introduced bill after bill to overturn Obamacare. After the...
At first, jilted US soccer star Landon Donovan chimes in on the US departure from the World Cup. Whether or not he should have made the team (and can any seriously doubt that the departure of Altidore would have been less substantial with Donovan available?), his comments are correct. Klinsmann failed in his strategy. You can’t tilt that heavily too defense at that level of soccer. You give up too many opportunities, and eventually, a mistake is going to happen. It might be a mental mistake, a field condition like a slip or fall, or an unfortunate bounce. But it will happen. Disappointing, not that they lost, but that the game was the kind of game it was.
At second, US goalkeeper Tim Howard has been showered with praise for his efforts in the match against Belgium, and he deserves it. He did a magnificent job. However, a goal keeper should not be making sixteen saves in a game. That, in itself, revealed a bad game...
Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 260–c. 340) is generally considered the church’s first real historian. Although he provides invaluable insight into the history and workings of the early church, Eusebius is often criticized for his selective record and especially for his rather generous depiction of Emperor Constantine (c. 272–337). Shortly after the emperor’s death, Eusebius wrote a panegyric in which he described Constantine in very positive terms while omitting some of the more negative details about his character and domestic life. In addition to his book on Constantine, Eusebius also wrote several other works including an account of the church’s first three centuries titled Church History. This too was not strictly speaking a critical work, but it is the earliest chronological description of the church in this period which is still extant. Without it, we would be much...
For a number of years the Seminary faculty has produced the Basic Library Booklist. It is updated every few years, and you can find the 2014 edition here. The Booklist has been specifically designed to answer the question of which books are the best on a particular book of the Bible or theological subject. In the case of commentaries, best means those that are the most helpful in exegesis and exposition, as well as understanding the overall argument of a book. The books are listed in order of importance. The first book listed is the one that should probably be purchased first, though it is doubtful that one commentary would be sufficient for adequate sermon preparation.
Besides commentaries the Booklist also rates books in systematic theology, historical theology, and practical theology. Check out the Booklist and let us know what you think.
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood—Acts 20:28
What does Paul mean in his speech in Acts 20 when he says that God purchased the church with “his own blood”? God doesn’t have blood. He’s a spirit. In fact, it’s precisely because God doesn’t have blood that God the Son became incarnate. Otherwise the human problem of sin and death could not have been solved. So, what is Paul saying here? Let me try to untangle this one by offering three of the more plausible solutions, one text critical and two interpretive.
A text-critical option. One solution to the problem is found in a handful of important manuscripts that read “church of the Lord” instead of “church of God.” For a list, see the online apparatus of NA28 here. As most recognize, however, the manuscript evidence for this alternative reading is pretty evenly matched with the manuscript evidence for the reading followed above by the NIV. What tips the...
Over the past month or two, I’ve put forward a few suggested reading lists in the field of church history. These lists have included surveys of church history, books on the history of Christian doctrine, books that discuss church history in specific areas of the world, and books related to Baptist history. In this last post of the series, I am going to recommend a few Christian biographies. There are so many good biographies available that it was hard to decide which ones to mention. Below is a list of six Christian leaders from the past 500 years with a recommended biography of each. If your favorite biography doesn’t appear in the list, feel free to mention it in the comments at the end of the post.
A few weeks back I offered a tribute to my dad for being a good parent to an unbelieving child (yours truly) by (1) being an agent of common grace, introducing me to “received laws” that God communicates generally to man in his image (language, logic, conduct, industry, etc.) and by (2) offering me the special grace of salvation and urging me to receive it. In his mercy God softened my heart in my late teens to receive the latter, but in the meantime, my parents were not stymied in their parenting efforts—they had plenty of common grace to pass along to their little pagan. They knew well that the world is filled with pagans of various degrees. Some pagans are morally upright, honest, industrious, law-abiding, and conservative. Others are immoral, dishonest, lazy, lawless, and licentious. And since I was at the time determined to remain a pagan, they deduced that a moral pagan was preferable to an immoral one. So they heaped common grace upon me and worked hard to make me the best possible pagan I could be.
Common grace, you see, is the sphere in which believers and...
I’m taking a little blogging break in July and early August so that I can focus on some other projects. God-willing, I’ll be back by mid-August.
The archives are open.
E.g., these two posts from 2014 have received the most views thus far this year:
These 30 posts from 2013 received the most views in 2013 (my favorites are #25 and #29):
Mark Wilson. Charts on the Book of Revelation: Literary, Historical, and Theological Perspectives. Kregel Charts of the Bible and Theology. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2007.
Check out this 32-page PDF sample, which includes the table of contents and many of the charts. But don’t skip over the first two pages of the PDF: the endorsements. The Revelation scholars who endorse the book include
David Helm. Expositional Preaching: How We Speak God’s Word Today. 9Marks. Wheaton: Crossway, 2014. 38-page PDF sample.
John M. Frame. John Frame’s Selected Shorter Writings: Volume One. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2014.
Recently, I was asked to teach at my church, Life Fellowship Church, in the Lake Norman region of metro-Charlotte, NC. We are in the middle of a month-long series called “Home Improvement.” I chose the topic of “Family Discipleship” as found in Deuteronomy 6. The 50-minute talk was transcribed and is now available in addition to the podcast. Here is the introduction to this message:
When I was a kid it was Father Knows Best. I wasn’t watching it when it came on
originally, but I saw the reruns. It was from the 50’s and I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and you could still see Father Knows Best. I grew up friends with the Cleaver family, Leave it to
Beaver, anyone remember him? And then in the 70’s we got Little House on the Prairie and we had The Brady Bunch. And in those homes, in a variety of ways, we saw reinforced values of what had been parenting and home life for generations in our country.
In the 80’s there was a little bit of a shift that turned into a tsunami of change as...
Take some time and read THIS interesting essay from the recent issue of Christianity Today.
I think this is a very good and reasoned argument for abstaining from alcohol. Not drinking has never been difficult for me — I didn’t grow up with it around me, I decided early not to imbibe, (once I make a decision on something — I’m completely bull-headed about it), I don’t trust myself and my tendency to get gun-ho about things, I’ve seen the utter destruction it causes in families and individuals, it costs more than I’m willing to pay and I don’t want the potential stumbling stone that it clearly is for some as I perform my responsibilities as a pastor and seminary prof. I’m as unwilling to say every use of it is sinful as I am to say every use of it is permissible. I just think it is mostly unwise — particularly in the life of a spiritual leader.
For my position, I’ve often been misunderstood. I don’t think it makes...