More Thoughts About Thinking: It’s Deeper Than Raindrops On Roses And Whiskers On Kittens

Raindrops on a pink rose

Paul gave wonderful guidelines for how the Christians in Philippi should direct their thoughts:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. ~~Philippians 4:8 (ESV)

As I considered writing this article, I couldn’t help picturing that scene from The Sound of Music when Julie Andrews comforts the children by singing about her favorite things. She teaches them that simply remembering her favorite things keeps her from being overwhelmed by negative circumstances. And, to an extent, her philosophy actually does resemble the principle in Philippians 4:8, doesn’t it?

If we look carefully at Paul’s list of what we need to think about, however, raindrops on roses seem pretty trivial. Should we distill this beautiful verse of Scripture down to a mere slogan for positive thinking that Oprah Winfrey would embrace?

Continue reading

John Newton Explains Why Grace Is Amazing

When we think of John Newton, our minds immediately go to his beautiful hymn, “Amazing Grace.” But did you know that he wrote other hymns?

Yesterday I poked around YouTube a bit, not sure what hymn to feature today, and I came across one performer by Indelible Grace. I’m certain they updated the tune, but they apparently preserved Newton’s original lyrics.

Right away, I knew I needed to post it!

In this hymn, Newton walks us through the various benefits of Christ’s atonement, continually returning to the glorious truth that He has washed us with His blood. Newton gives lots of good doctrine throughout the verses, introducing each one as yet another reason to worship our wonderful Lord.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Keys To Discernment: Why Paul Wrote To The Colossians (Reboot)

Untitled-1

Last Monday I explained that I’ll repost the few Bible Studies I wrote on Colossians before I injured my back in February. I’ll add a few remarks to these articles where I feel they need further comment, so you really might find it beneficial to read them again. Once we’ve reviewed those studies, we’ll continue working through the epistle.

As a young Christian, I would get impatient when Bible Study teachers would spend time talking about the background to whatever book they taught. I just wanted to grab verses here and there that I could shoehorn into my immediate circumstances. Textual context only mildly interested me; I had absolutely no use for historical or cultural background, thank you very much!

So if you’re groaning at the title of this post, anticipating a boring history lesson about First Century Colossae, I understand. It’s not what you expected from a study on discernment.

Don’t close this article yet, ladies! You need to know that I’m writing a little about the background to this epistle precisely because it will enable us to see how Paul taught discernment without once naming the false teachers that he refuted.

Continue reading

Ancient Hymns Exalt God

For the past few weeks I’ve been reading through Psalms. I started doing so in response to COVID-19, eager to find encouragement in these troubling times. Indeed, many of the psalms do offer wonderful comfort as they point to God’s protection of His people in all sorts of affliction.

Psalm 57 begins with David telling the Lord about some of his trials. The early verses depict his despair as circumstances close in on him. Yet almost immediately he intersperses his statements of fear with his confidence in the Lord. He knows that only God has the power to deliver him from his encroaching enemies.

David wants more than simply his own deliverance, however. He wants the world to see God’s power, and to exalt Him. Verses 9-11 close the psalm with a prayer that God would exalt Himself above the heavens and spread His glory over all the earth.

When I read this ancient hymn during my time with the Lord a few days ago, I fondly remembered singing a portion of it as a praise song in the early 1980s. How beautiful to sing such an ancient hymn that centers on the exaltation of God!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Beyond Heavenly Wheelbarrows And Tennis Courts

Heaven's Glory

Eschatology intimidates me. Although I have been a Christian for a little over 49 years, I can’t take iron clad positions on when our the Rapture will occur in relation to the Tribulation or which saved people will live in the Millennal Kingdom. Many of you will undoubtedly be disappointed that I don’t unquestioningly follow John MacArthur’s pronouncements on these points. But I just don’t think I understand the finer points of eschatology well enough to take a stand on these two matters.

I’m not sure it’s necessary that I be an expert in eschatology, frankly. It’s an important topic, yes. But minds far more brilliant than mine have debated the details for centuries.

That said, I do have firm convictions about our eternal state. And I find much of contemporary evangelical speculation about heaven to be man-centered and silly. Furthermore,  much of what evangelicals say regarding heaven bears almost no resemblance to the Bible’s depictions of heaven.

My disability provides an extra opportunity to hear some of the foolish ideas people have about the eternal kingdom. For instance, friends often talk about Continue reading

The Incredible Hope Of Resurrection

SunsetApr10_2004Although Christians understand that Christ’s resurrection is absolutely central to our faith, many of us struggle to see exactly what it means to us personally. The atonement for sin through the shed blood of Jesus Christ makes a little more sense to us — we grasp the idea that He died the death that rightly belonged to us. But sometimes (if we’re honest), we have difficulty articulating the significance that His resurrection has for us.

Before going further, let’s remember that the most important reason behind Christ’s resurrection is His glory. While we most assuredly do benefit tremendously from the fact that He is risen, we must take care not to make it about us. As in everything, we need to keep our focus on glorifying and honoring Him.

Having made the point that His glory remains the primary point of His resurrection, we can also acknowledge its impact on us. Our eternal future in His kingdom comes about precisely because God raised Him from the dead! Apart from the resurrection, we would have no hope (1 Corinthians 15:17-19).

For the purposes of today’s article, I am going to particularly emphasize the teaching that Christ’s physical resurrection guarantees the physical resurrection of Continue reading

His Glories Now We Sing

Happy Resurrection Day! All of us are joyfully celebrating the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, as well we should! Those of us blessed enough to watch livestreaming services from our own pastors will hear various implications of His resurrection, and those who don’t have a church with such capabilities can enjoy the service from my home church, First Baptist Church Weymouth. If you miss the livestream at 10:30 a.m. EST, you can still play the video at your convenience.

Rather than posting a hymn exclusively about Christ’s resurrection this year, I’ve decided to post one celebrating the totality of His ministry and focusing on how His ministry glorifies Him as our matchless King through all eternity.

So often we emphasize the benefits Christ’s resurrection brings to us. That emphasis is entirely appropriate! But if we limit our appreciation of His resurrection to its effects on us, we forget that ultimately it is about His glory. This Resurrection Day, let’s magnify Jesus Christ, Who died and rose on high.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Keys To Discernment: A Portrait Of The Real Jesus

Untitled-1

False teaching invariably attacks, perverts or (at the very least) distorts the nature of Jesus Christ. Beth Moore, for example, reduces Him to a romantic playmate Who speaks directly to her and is “the bossiest thing.” For proper discernment, therefore, Christians must possess an accurate understanding of Christ’s nature.

Over the past few weeks we studied Paul’s prayer for the Colossian church to be filled with knowledge, wisdom and understanding. We also studied the way God qualifies believers to share in His inheritance.  As we closed last week’s study, we shifted our attention from the Father to His Son, and Paul now picks up the discussion with Continue reading

Keys To Discernment: Why Paul Wrote To The Colossians

Untitled-1

As a young Christian, I would get impatient when Bible Study teachers would spend time talking about the background to whatever book they taught. I just wanted to grab verses here and there that I could shoehorn into my immediate circumstances. Textual context only mildly interested me; I had absolutely no use for historical or cultural background, thank you very much!

So if you’re groaning at the title of this post, anticipating a boring history lesson about First Century Colossae, I understand. It’s not what you expected from a study on discernment.

Don’t close this article yet, ladies! You need to know that I’m writing a little about the background to this epistle precisely because it will enable us to see how Paul taught discernment without once naming the false teachers that he Continue reading

Flashback Friday: Beyond The War On Christmas

Originally published December 7, 2016:

christmas-crossThis is the time of year when many evangelicals complain about the “war on Christmas.” Admittedly, something inside me  cringes at the politically correct greeting,  “Happy Holidays,” causing me to rebelliously answer, “Merry Christmas!” I’d love to attribute my rebellion to a desire to follow the great Reformers, but it probably really comes from having been a young teenager in the 1960s.

Anyway, I do understand the feelings of those who take offense at the secularization of Christmas. I emphasize with folks who quote the cheesy line, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.” But sometimes I wonder if these culture warriors are more interested in “taking back Christmas for the Lord” than in the Lord Himself.

The practicalities of the Incarnation raise amazing questions. And the questions multiply, alternately intriguing me and frustrating me with the complexities of Jehovah, the very Sustainer of all creation (Colossians 1:17), depending on His mother for His basic needs.How could Mary and Joseph teach the Word of God (John 1:1-14) how to speak? How does a young couple raise God? Did  Jesus attend Hebrew School already knowing the Torah, and did He work to memorize the Psalms with His brothers?

Of course, too much speculation on such questions lead to apocryphal stories, tempting us to believe that the Bible isn’t sufficient to tell us everything we need to know about Jesus. Take care, dear sisters in Christ, to let such questions lead you to worship this Incarnate God, content not to understand the particulars.

That said, I’m going to ask one more question. When He ate the Passover lamb each year, did He anticipate that Good Friday afternoon when He would suffer and die as the Lamb of God Who would take away the sins of the world (John 1:35-36)?

Actually the answer to that one isn’t as important as its main point. The Second Person of the Trinity took on human flesh, becoming fully Man without ceasing to be fully God, laying aside His glory (but not His deity) for 33 years for one specific purpose. He came to be crucified.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~~Philippians 2:5-11 (ESV)

That death on the cross, mentioned in verse 8, offered atonement for sin which would apply to all those who would believe in Him. See John 10:11, Romans 5:8 and 1 John 3:5 for just three of many Scriptures testifying to His atoning work on the cross. Through His sacrifice, He allows us all to glorify God the Father.

Christ’s incarnation rightly fascinates us. But it should do so much more than engage our intellect with speculation. It should bring us to the   cross, assuring us of His grace to pay for our sin. And as we worship Him for dying in our place, perhaps we can be patient with well-meaning people who wish us Season’s Greetings.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin