Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Dreaming of a White Christmas

Although the long winters can be hard at times here in New England, we get to experience the full range of seasons - long springs, warm summers, gorgeous falls and snow-covered winters. Usually around this time we have some snow. The past few weeks have been more like Florida than New England - temps as high as 60 F!

Lord willing we will get some beautiful snow for Christmas. Freshly fallen snow is one of the more beautiful sights in God's creation - so pure and bright - a picture of the perfect and complete righteousness of Christ imputed to repentant sinners by faith! (Isaiah 1:18, Psalm 51:7, Mark 9:3, Romans 5:18-21, 13:14, Revelation 3:5, 18)

Thank God for snow! May you enjoy a white Christmas and be reminded of One whose life and death make us whiter than snow!

God Bless, Paul

(this is a pict of our backyard last winter.)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Dramatic Reading of Hebrews 9 & 10

Paul charged Timothy to devote himself to the public reading of scripture (1 Timothy 4:13). Reading the word out loud with appropriate passion and skill is a very powerful means for encountering the living God and His life changing truth!

Check out this outstanding example from Worship Matters: Ryan Ferguson Recites Hebrews 9 and 10

I hope this inspires you to practice this at home and with the church. May we see more and more of the public reading of scripture!

God Bless, Paul

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Enjoying Repentance and Faith Today

I have been reminded lately of the essential experience for the Christian of repentance and faith. What we begin with at conversion we are continue in throughout our lives. To walk with God is to continually experience repentance and faith. But what exactly are repentance and faith?

Jesus said - "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1:15, ESV) and "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:17, ESV). Paul told of his mission as "testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ." (Acts 20:21, ESV)

John Calvin said "For while Christ the Lord and John preach in this manner: "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand", do they not derive the reason for repenting from grace itself and the promise of salvation? Accordingly, therefore, their words mean the same thing as if they said, "Since the Kingdom of Heaven has come near, repent." - JC, Institutes, Book 2, Chapter III.3 -J.T. McNeill, Ed.

How do repentance and faith relate? Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin. In order to reorient yourself to God you must believe that he is good and worthy and true, especially in regards to the gospel. With this you will also believe that sin is bad and unworthy and untrue in relation to God. We turn from self and sin and place our faith for forgiveness and righteousness and life in Christ alone. We can't have one without the other!

"Again, if we remember that repentance is turning from sin unto God, the turning to God implies faith in the mercy of God as revealed in Christ. It is impossible to disentangle faith and repentance. Saving faith is permeated with repentance and repentance is permeated with faith."- John Murray

"Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner out of a true sense of sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after new obedience." – Westminster Shorter Catechism

May you, today, by the power of the Holy Spirit, turn from that which is most vile (sin in any form) to enjoy and live for and depend on that whom is most glorious, worthy, faithful and enjoyable, the Triune God especially revealed in the glorious good news of Jesus Christ - his perfect life, his vicarious propitiating death for sinners like us and his universe-shattering resurrection to new life for all his people - even us!

God Bless, Paul

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Core of Contentment and the Secret of Sanctification

Have you ever been in a funk? Do you know what I mean - one of those periods of inexplicable discontent, despair and confusion? I recently found myself in such a state - once again. I had been aware of a number of things around me that weren't going the way I wanted - a $6,000 tuition bill, a broken furnace, not enough money for Christmas gifts, various overwhelming parenting challenges and some household maintenance we couldn't afford. - I found myself in a "funk".

My rotten attitude reached a peak when I was trying to pull out of the local gas station in our 6000 lb. Chevy Conversion van. Despite the well known Boston-driving maneuver of pulling halfway out into traffic, no one was letting me in. When I finally saw some daylight I gave the 5.7 liter engine all the gas we had and laid rubber as I fish-tailed my way into traffic - more out of frustration and sin than necessity. I knew my attitude was poor but I felt trapped in my funk.

After praying, reading the word and journaling in a desperate but confused effort to get out of my self-made mire, I got alone with God and cried out for help. The answer came not so much in a clear statement but in a fresh impression and reminder of what life in Christ is all about - my death, his life. And when I remembered this fundamental gospel message, it seemed that all my problems and unfulfilled desires miraculously turned from temptations to sin into opportunities to trust, enjoy and honor Christ - death to my selfish cravings and empty pride and life in Him and for Him by faith - I could feel the funk lifting!

Then the thought came to me - isn't this the very core of my contentment and the secret of my sanctification - my death, his life. Isn't this what the gospel is all about - my death, his life? Isn't this what maturity in Christ all about - my death, his life? Isn't this to be my joy and glory - my death, his life? I no longer dreaded my undesirable circumstances but was now trusting Christ to use them as he was pleased, even working death for me (that is my sinful self) but life in Him - death to my sinful demands but life in Him and His glory shining through his sovereign plan. I found myself content in Him and a good bit more pleasant!

I memorized two verses very early in my Christian life. They are sort of my life verses - in theory at least - and they well describe what I am talking about. Listen to God's word -

"I have been crucified in Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Gal. 2:20 (ESV) - and

"For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this; that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised." 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (ESV)

God freed me from my funk by a simple yet powerful reapplication of gospel truth. Thank God!! All our trials turn from despair to joy when the truth of the gospel applied to our life reorients our world from self to Christ. May you find life and freedom from your funk through the wonderfully good news of the gospel! May the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ be the worst news for your pride and selfishness but the very best news for your joy and life in Christ!

God Bless - Paul

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Entitlement & Misery

I am not a morning person - at least not for the first 30 minutes or so. It seems like indwelling sin is awake as soon as the alarm goes off but my new nature is still sleeping until a half-hour has passed. It was this way this morning.

I was "down" and just not too happy about life. As I drove to breakfast to meet with my good friend Jeff I sensed the Spirit of God addressing me. It went something like this -

"Why are you unhappy?"
I guess because I want something and I don't have it.
"Do you deserve ______?"
"What do you deserve?"
Nothing. Well, worse - hell that is.
"What do you have?"
Jesus. Forgiveness, eternal life with God, his sovereign care over my life, a relationship with the most excellent being ever. ..... Oh how quickly I forget this. ..... Thank you God for what I have! Now I am happy!

I feel so much better!

I so often experience these struggles and so often need the reminder of the gospel.

I call this my entitlement attitude.

The gospel kills it and that's a good thing. May you be happy today not in having _____. But in having what you don't deserve, Jesus! May your entitlement attitude perish and gospel-centered gratitude prevail!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The End of the Beginning of It All

Wow - sorry for the 4 month hiatus from the blog. It is hard to find the time amidst the many time consuming blessings of walking with God, being a husband, dad, pastor and friend.

Anyhow, here we go.

We just ended a series from Genesis entitled, "The Beginning of It All". Wow a wonderful time it has been. I trust God has blessed others as much as I have been blessed studying this book. We so need the book of Genesis. In it we find, in story form, the following key truths:

1. The origin and therefore the purpose of all creation - God! (Genesis 1:1)
2. The purpose and uniqueness of mankind - imaging God. (Genesis 1:26-2:25)
3. The importance of resting in God's finished work - the Sabbath. (Gen. 2:1-3)
4. The original and future realm of man & woman - in the royal garden paradise with God. (Gen. 2:4-25)
5. The God given blessing of gender roles - manhood & womanhood . (Gen. 1-3.)
6. Our unique God given role - to work with & for God. (Gen. 1-3)
7. The tragedy of life apart from God - sin. (Gen. 3:1-20)
8. God's amazing promise - gracious & sovereign redemption. (Gen. 3:1-24)

This book is so much more than children's bible stories - it sets the themes for the entire rest of the bible. How rich the word of God is and how wise its Author!!

Spend some time in Genesis 1-3 and enjoy its riches!


p.s. You can access the audio files from this series at http://www.kingofgrace.org/SundaymessageFILE/genesis1t3/genesis1t3.htm.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Beginning of It All

We are beginning a summer series in Genesis 1-3 entitled, "The Beginning of It All". It's amazing to see in God's word the key themes of His glory, his covenant with man, the fall & redemption in Christ all appear in the first three chapters of the bible. We are excited to see what God will do through this series. Come visit us or check out the messages as they appear on the website.

Message for June 4th
"In the Beginning, God..." Genesis 1:1

Check out these resources as well:

The End for Which God Made The World - Jonathan Edwards

The Glory Is All His - John Piper

Van Til's Most Succinct Synopsis - Greg Bahnsen

Two Adams, Two Covenants of Works- Meredith G. Kline

Creation as Miracle or Blind Fools - Ed Walsh

The Days of Creation - First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, MS

The Framework Interpretation - Meredith G. Kline et al

Monergism Web Site on Creation - Many Excellent Resources

Gospel Centered Everything

We just recently finished a 20 month series from 1 Corinthians . Wow, what a book! Paul does a masterful job of answering the Corinthians varied questions and crises all from a gospel centered perspective. David Garland says the following about this:

“The cross, its wisdom or its effect, is also pivotal in every issue except the one concerning headdress. It is central to his discussion of factions (1:18-31, 4:8-13) but also appears in his discussion of incest (5:7-8), lawsuits (6:7), sexual immorality (6:20), marriage (7:23), idol meat (8:11), the Lords supper (11:26), spiritual gifts (13:1-13), and the resurrection (15:3). [1]

In light of the all pervasive influence of Jesus as Savior and Lord, how are we experiencing the message of the gospel? How is it functioning in our lives? How is the truth of Jesus as Savior and Lord impacting us in the nitty gritty of life? 1 Corinthians clearly leaves us with the impression that there is no question or concern where the good news of Jesus as Savior and Lord does not speak.

Further resources:
How should the gospel function in the life of the local church? - Mike Bullmore
The Functional Centrality of the Gospel in the Life of the Local - Mike Bullmore

[1] David E. Garland, 1 Corinthians, BECNT, Baker Academic, MI, USA, 2003, p. 17

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I Don't Know Him from Adam

Sorry for being off-line. I'm back.

I have been recently studying my bible and considering the importance of Gen 1-3. So often we breeze over these passages as almost trivial information best suited for children's Sunday school. At least I've kinda thought like that. I am beginning to see how important these three chapters are in determining the whole storyline of the bible. Understanding the Covenant with Adam (also known as the Covenant of Works) is key to understanding Christ, Christianity, Life and ultimately the trajectory of all creation.

Check out what Meredith Kline has to say on this: Two Adams, Two Covenants of Works. It may make you dizzy at first but invest the time - it will be worth it.

Let me know what you think.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

A Return to Greatness

American evangelicals seem very interested in revival. I live in New England and you can't go long around here without hearing from somebody about revival. Maybe it's our heritage of revival here that drives us to long for revival - Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, the Second Great Awakening, D.L. Moody etc., or maybe it is the sad awareness that every evangelical Christian in New England has of being a culturally non-existant minority. Regardless, I for one think there is nothing wrong with longing for revival. The only question I have is, "What are we longing for when we say, 'revival'" ? Are we longing for merely an intensified and more populous version of what we already experience in 21st American evangelicalism? More passionate worship? More relevant sermons? More fruit in evangelism? Greater impact on the culture? Growing churches? Political reform? Are these at the core of what we want or is it something deeper and closer to the heart of true revival? I submit that at the core of revival is the glory of God. Revival is a renewed knowledge, desire for and experience of the glory of God - the glory of God manifest in and through Jesus Christ and known by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Listen to what our forefather Jonathan Edwards reported of those thus affected in the Great Awakening:

"They speak much of their sense of excellency in the way of salvation by free and sovereign grace, through the righteousness of Christ alone; and how it is with delight that they renounce their own righteousness, and rejoice in having no account made of it....The supreme attention of their minds is to the glorious excellencies of God and Christ; and there is very often a ravishing sense of God's love accompanying a sense of His excellency. They rejoice in a sense of the faithfulness of God's promises, as they respect the future eternal enjoyment of Him....The unparalleled joy that many of them speak of, is what they find when they are lowest in the dust, emptied most of themselves, and as it were annihilating themselves before God; when they are nothing, and God is all; seeing their own unworthiness, depending not at all on themselves, but alone on Christ, and ascribing all glory to God."
Jonathan Edwards , A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God

May God bring such revival. May we long for this, pray for it and live for it. Let us return to the core of revival - God himself in all his glory as shown in awesome Son, Jesus Christ. Bring this sort of revival O Lord! Start with me. Start with my family, my church. Whatever the cost. More of You and less of me!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Islam and the Glory of God

Recent reading of the Oxford History of Islam by John L. Esposito has made me realize that Islam gets at least one thing right - the majesty of God. At the heart of Islam is the sense of "submission" to the will of the majestic One - God. "Muslim" means "submitted one" and "Islam" means "submission." While there are numerous areas where Islam veers from the truth significantly, this is one area where Christians should take heed. So often we focus on the nearness (immanence) of God to the neglect of His greatness (transcendence.) We mustn't neglect His immanence; but how often have we reduced Him to a sort of cosmic Santa Clause who will gladly let us climb up on His lap and give us a hug to make us feel better. Nothing against feeling better, nothing against God's tender mercy and love, but I think we can miss His incredible and unfathomable glory and greatness in our conceptions of His kindness and nearness .

It is not ultimately about us, it is about Him.

He alone is "I AM" - He is the source of all - He has created all things and He sustains all things, all for His glory. Yes, His mercy and love and tenderness is part of that glory but we mustn't domesticate God. His glory is unfathomable, His purposes are deeper than we can probe, His worth is endless. His holiness and wisdom are perfection itself. We can not know Him fully. Yet, He invites us to know and enjoy Him in His glory.

Let our lives be swallowed up, not in the pursuit of feeling good about ourselves but in the pursuit of glorying in that which is most worthy – God Himself. And let no Muslim outdo us in our sense and worship and submission to the transcendent One!

"Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?" "Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?" For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen." (Romans 11:33-36, ESV)

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Laughter is a sign of a joyful heart.

It can also be a sign of a humble heart.

If we really understand how amazing grace is, how amazing it is that God loves us in Christ, how He fully and freely forgives us and owns us forever, we should be able to laugh.

If we realize that we have nothing in ourselves to defend, that the cross has already fully condemned us and then fully released us from our condemnation, we should be able to laugh. We should be able to laugh at ourselves and all the idoisyncrasies and quirks so common to us all! There is much about life that is funny.

A constantly somber Christian is a contradiction.

Check out some funny stuff and laugh! http://www.savethewheel.com/melville/

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A Blog Worth Reading

I don't think I could possibly say it better than Mark Lauterbach. Mark pastors a sister church in San Diego and does an excellent job of communicating the biblical values that have shaped my life.

Check out his blog: http://mrlauterbach.typepad.com/gospeldrivenlife/