It’s Just One Of Those Days

Summit of Mount Tam

Although I’ve had an idea for a blog post simmering on the back burner for a few weeks, various considerations convince me to hold off a little longer before writing it. This understanding that I should wait a while is terribly inconvenient at the moment because I can’t think of anything else to write.

Daily blogging has its disadvantages.

As I’ve said several times, days like today make me miss my old blog, which was all about me. Most of the time, I ended up writing about the Lord, but Read More »

Don’t Expect A Political Savior

Untitled-1Yes, Beto O’Rourke exposed the Democratic party’s agenda Thursday night. And yes, that agenda must keep genuine Christians from supporting any Democratic candidate. Please, as you read this article, know that I in no way want to discourage Christians from supporting voting. And adherence to Biblical  principles absolutely must shape what we do at the ballot box.

O’Rourke’s proposal to strip churches and Christian institutions of tax exemptions troubles me, but it in no way surprises me. I began this blog shortly after the Obergefell decision precisely because I knew the legalization of same sex marriage would inevitability lead to the persecution of Christians who believe the Bible. And no, I’m not a prophet. God didn’t speak to me or give me a vision, It’s simply a logical conclusion.

Beto O’Rourke did nothing more than Read More »

Can A Born Again Christian Do Without Church? (I Think You Know My Answer, But Read This Post Anyway)

Come To ChurchThe short answer is no.

Blogging isn’t conducive to short answers, however, and perhaps a longer answer would be more helpful than simply quoting Hebrews 10:25 as a definitive proof text. While that verse certainly carries all the authority necessary to teach that Christians need to meet regularly with their brothers and sisters in the Lord, looking at other passages can help us develop a fuller understanding of why we need to devote ourselves to a local body of believers.

In the interest of full disclosure, let me admit that John and I can’t attend our church during the winter months due to health concerns. And this past Sunday, the RIDE got us there late and picked us up early, completely depriving us of fellowship opportunities. But (and mark this point) we maintain contact with various people in the congregation, keeping accountable to the pastors and elders. We continue serving the church as best we  can while we’re providentially hindered (to borrow a phrase from Michelle Lesley) from making personal appearances and/or encouraging our church family.

Resisting the temptation to get on my soapbox about Read More »

What Constitutes A Glorious Day?

This past Thursday John and I went into Boston — for no other reason than to enjoy the perfect weather. After spending an hour at the Museum of Fine Arts, we went to Downtown Crossing, and wandered up Washington Street. We stopped at B.Good for lunch, where we shared the absolute best chocolate shake I’ve ever tasted. We then wheeled to Quincy Market to buy our annual bag of Ghriradelli chocolates and a 2020 Boston calendar before going down the Greenway to catch the early train home.

It was a glorious day!

Yet maybe calling it glorious trivializes the word “glorious.” As much as Thursday delighted us, it pales in comparison to the truly glorious day when Jesus will return for  His beloved Church. I don’t think I’m alone in failing to comprehend the thrill that day will bring. But I definitely know that when I see Him coming in the clouds, I’ll wonder why I ever thought a Thursday in Boston was glorious.

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The Gospel Can’t Be Shared Often Enough

Heavenly CrossNo matter how long, or how deeply, we walk with the Lord, we never outgrow the need to hear that Jesus Christ took our place on that cross, shedding His innocent blood in payment for our sins. As we mature in Him, of course we will pay attention to many other issues that Christians must face, as well we should. But we must keep the Gospel central in our hearts and minds as we glorify the Lord for His grace in saving us.

Some of you might disagree with this assessment.  You might even show me Hebrews 6:1-3.

Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. (ESV)

Of course, that passage actually refers to Read More »

Riches That We Forget About

Untitled-1

Growing older should have changed my attitude about life on planet Earth. In some ways, it has. As my physical body degenerates, enjoying pleasures like going to Boston and  creating digital artwork demands greater effort, thus diminishing the attachment to those activities. Pretty soon, I’ll have only memories of such things.

In a brief conversation with a friend Sunday, she and I agreed that the Lord probably allows increasing pain as we age to help us loosen our hold on this life. Obviously, there’s no Scripture to support that theory, but it sure encourages me as I age. It makes me confident that I’ll experience God’s kindness as He transitions me from this life to eternity.

But doesn’t the very fact that I need His help in order to release my hold on this life betray the shameful reality that I don’t comprehend the riches of God’s glory? I’ve been thinking about that possibility as a result of my time in the Word of God this morning, wondering if Read More »

The Local Church: Our Primary Priority For Serving The Lord

Flourishes02

As a Christian blogger, I spend a lot of time ministering to you — readers that I will only meet in heaven. The nature of my disability combined with my abilities as a writer make this ministry the most reasonable way for me to serve the Lord, and I praise Him for using me in this manner. If He draws you closer to Himself through what I write, all glory be to Him! What a privilege to honor Him simply by tapping on a keyboard and filling a computer screen.

I’m thankful for my pastor, elders and church family that affirm my blogging ministry and cheer me on each Sunday. And I hope that, second to honoring Christ, I represent First Baptist Church Weymouth Massachusetts well. The Outspoken TULIP isn’t an official ministry of the church, but I see many people I dearly hope that it serves as a representative of it.

In the past year, the Lord has blessed me with an opportunity to serve Him more directly through a ministry in this church. It’s a behind the scenes job, and very few people even know I do it. The obscurity, quite honestly, is the part I most Read More »

Jesus Asks Us To Do It

I don’t claim to be gifted in evangelism. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty lousy at doing it face-to-face. I feel comfortable with just about every other command in Scripture, but I see my shortcomings whenever someone reminds me that God has me here for no other reason than to proclaim the Gospel.

And my pastor issues such reminders in almost every Sunday sermon.

But I praise God for these uncomfortable reminders because I live in a world of lost souls who desperately need to hear that Jesus died for those who would believe in Him. Whether hearing the Gospel leads them to saving faith or confirms their hardness against Him, the Lord asks His servants to declare the message. So as long as I live, I face an unfinished task.

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Flashback Friday: Which All People Did Jesus Die For?

Originally posted April 25, 2016

Pink tulips framedThe doctrine of Limited Atonement seems contradictory to the Bible verses that talk about Jesus dying for all people. I had difficulty accepting the doctrine because of such verses myself, so I do sympathize with my Christian brothers and sisters who believe God’s Word refutes it. Consequently, I pray that I can maintain an attitude of humility as I demonstrate how to understand these Scriptures while still affirming that Christ shed His blood specifically for those who would believe in Him.

Obviously I can’t examine every verse that people use to support the belief that Christ died for everyone in this single article. And it would probably be tedious if I wrote a separate article about each verse in question. So I’ve decided to show you just one passage, which I believe offers helpful context. I will also explain how the passage fits into the broader context of the apostle Paul’s teaching. Once you see my hermeneutic in understanding this passage, I pray that you’ll apply it to the other Scriptures on this issue.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. ~~Titus 2:11-15 (ESV)

I see verse 11 as   clearly as you do. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,” it says. But verse 14 says with equal force  that He “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession.” This verse makes it evident that God has formed a particular group of people, distinct from the world in general, to belong exclusively to Him. Therefore Christ’s sacrifice only applies to this select group.

How does verse 14 then square with verse 11? Looking at Titus 2:1-10 provides the needed context:

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.~~Titus 2:1-10 (ESV)

Notice that Paul addresses a variety of sub-groups within the church in Crete. Although each sub-group has its own distinct responsibilities, they all function in ways that bring honor and glory to the Lord. Salvation crosses lines of gender, age and socioeconomic position. Paul affirms the same principal in Galatians 3:25-29.

Having once been a Jewish Pharisee who believed salvation was limited to his ethnic group, Paul delighted in knowing that  Gentiles could enter into God’s Kingdom through the shed blood of Jesus Christ (see Romans 1:16 and Ephesians 2:11-22). Titus 2:11, therefore, ties in with these Scriptures  (and others like them) to celebrate the glorious fact that Christ opens salvation to every race and nation. Salvation appears, not just to Jews, but to believers from every nation!

Praise the Lord that all who believe in Him, not just the physical descendants of Abraham, have the privilege of His salvation. We should feel humbled by His generosity to include us in His elect, mindful that we’ve done nothing to deserve His favor.

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God Doesn’t Restrict His Glory To Mountain Top Experiences And Neither Should We

Summit of Mount Tam
Photo taken from the summit of Mount Tamalpias in Marin Country, California

Often, we think of God’s glory in relation to the beauty of nature. As well we should! Scripture repeatedly makes that correlation,  leading us to follow its example. For instance, consider this beloved passage from Psalm 19:

The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
    and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
    whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
    and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
    which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
    and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
    and its circuit to the end of them,
    and there is nothing hidden from its heat. ~~Psalm 19:1-6 (ESV)

I well understand why this psalm proclaims that nature showcases God’s glory. When I lived in California, I loved going to Mount Tamalpias. How often I enjoyed the wheelchair accessible Verna Dunshee Trail at the summit of the East Peak! A few days before I moved to Massachusetts to marry John, my friend took me up to Mount Tam one last time. That afternoon had crystal clear weather that allowed us to look down the plummeting ravines and out across the San Francisco Bay. We looked down on the back of a hawk in flight — a heady experience, I assure you!

My friend savored the magnificence of the moment (as did I) before remarking with a baffled voice, “I just don’t understand how anyone can deny the existence of God.” I shared her sense of awe at God’s creation. Looking out from the mountain at the sparking waters of the San Francisco Bay, and then at the golden grasses and green shrubbery cascading down the mountainside, I couldn’t help seeing what a wonderful Creator I serve.

But I didn’t stop to think that the breathtaking splendors of Mount Tamalpias pale in comparison to the glorious God Who created them. To really appreciate His glory, we need to look at Jesus. The apostle John actually described Jesus in terms of God’s glory.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. ~~John 1:14 (ESV)

Jesus, the second Person of the Trinity, manifests God’s glory in a myriad of ways, most of which we won’t fully appreciate until we behold Him in His heavenly kingdom. Yet we see enough of Him in the pages of His Word to know His majesty. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John regale us with accounts of Him healing the sick, casting out demons and exercising His divine power over the wind and sea. They describe His sinless life, His authoritative teaching and His astonishing humility as He endured a crucifixion that He did not deserve. Most glorious of all, they describe His resurrection, which proved His victory over sin and death.

As we read God’s Word, we constantly see His glory in the Person and work of Jesus. And when we encounter Him, even the beauty of something like Mount Tamalpias seems trivial.

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