All The Superlatives In The World Couldn’t Describe Him

Why would our perfect and holy God be pleased with our feeble attempts at worshiping Him? Even a lofty hymn like Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise — with its majestic lyrics and soaring music — falls short or adequately describing Him. Even if we mastered every language in existence, our words would fall terribly short of capturing His grandeur.

And yet He graciously accepts the praises of His people. He calls us to dwell on His attributes in order that we might focus on Him. Thus, hymns like Immortal, Invisible direct our gazes upward, filling us with wonder as we try to rehearse His innumerable splendors.

Eternity will fully reveal the Lord in all of His glory. No more will the tarnish of sin obscure Him from our sight! In some respects, the limitations of human language will melt into praise and worship far beyond anything that we could possibly imagine. At last, we will enjoy unhindered worship, praising Him with a depth and richness that eludes our current understanding.

Even then, our words probably won’t begin to describe Him.

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That’s Gratitude For You!

Many professing Christians acknowledge that Jesus died on the cross to forgive their sins.  Okay, that’s a start. But sometimes it seems as if they don’t understand the full implications of His death.

To put it bluntly, few of them really believe that, had they not been brought to faith in Christ, they would deserve eternity in hell. Indeed, few genuinely believe hell even exists. Nor do they honestly believe that their sins are serious enough to warrant eternal punishment.

Such a dismissal of a literal hell creates a casual attitude toward salvation, it seems to me. Consequently, the Lord’s sacrificial death doesn’t compel them to respond in adoring devotion.

But the redeemed sinner who grasps the truth that Christ snatched her from the jaws of hell responds much differently. Precisely because she knows the condemnation she deserves, she freely abandons her life to Him. She  knows she’ll never be worthy of what He’s done on her behalf. She simply wants to show her gratitude by living for Him.

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Luxurious Bible Study? Oh Yeah!

Bubble BibleWhen I hear the word “luxuriate,”  I generally envision a nice long bubble bath in a jacuzzi. Preferably by candlelight.  Chocolate and/or cheesecake should definitely be involved. Maybe even some soft music in the background, Hey: an old lady can dream, can’t she?

But I woke up this morning knowing that I would luxuriate in my favorite passage in all of God’s Word. I’ve been working through Paul’s letter to Continue reading

Apostasy Is The Hot Topic Now, But Should It Be?

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Last week it was Josh Harris. This week it’s Marty Sampson. Next week it could be another high profile Christian, or it could be someone you know personally. But someone somewhere will turn away from the faith, openly declaring that he or she no longer believes Christian teaching.

A number of solid believers have used blogs and podcasts to comment on these two most recent cases of apostasy, and they’ve all made some valuable points. Indeed, Scripture addresses the topic quite forcefully, particularly in the book of Hebrews. The author of that book wrote it as a response to professing Christians who reverted back to Judaism, warning them against neglecting their salvation. So the Word of God definitely sets a precedent for talking about apostasy. Therefore I appreciate the willingness of people to use current events to discuss the matter.

I worry, though, about this issue becoming too dominate in our thinking. In a perverse sort of way, it Continue reading

Praise God I Have A Place To Put My Hope

As John and I exited Boston’s Prudential Tower Wednesday, we started down Boylston Street toward the Public Garden. Just outside the door, I noticed a saxophone player.  Now, it’s not really unusual to find musicians scattered throughout the city, especially in areas that have a high amount of foot traffic. Most of the time, I pass by them enjoying the music momentarily. They’re part of Boston’s charm.

This particular saxophone player intrigued me because the first five notes he played sounded just like the first five notes of the hymn, My Hope Is In The Lord. I strained to hear whether or not he was actually playing the hymn, but I couldn’t quite tell. I rather doubt it.

Since then, I’ve been thinking about the hymn, and about where I place my hope. Certainly, this world offers little hope as it gleefully plummets toward its endorsement of sin at breakneck speeds. Christians who refuse to acquiesce to the demands of the liberal culture must expect increasing levels of pushback and eventual persecution. Even denominations that, a mere three years ago could be counted on to stand on the bedrock of Scripture have begun bowing to the world’s corrupt values.

We can’t hope in anything or anybody!

But we can hope in the Lord. And maybe our crumbling society reminds us to keep our hope fixed decidedly on Him. When we recall His sacrifice for us at Calvary, we can rest confident in His faithfulness toward us. Against the darkness, we can sing cheerfully that our hope is in the Lord.

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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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Not Your Typical Evangelical Prayer, But Paul Wouldn’t Have Been A Typical 21st Century Evangelical

Colossians prayer Think about the typical prayer requests that you exchange with your family and friends for a moment. Aside from praying for the salvation of loved ones, how many of those prayer requests reflect temporal concerns like health, finances, whom to marry or school. And I agree that matters like these do require prayer. Praise God for all the prayers that went up for John when he had cancer and a heart attack seven years ago!

But have you ever noticed how the apostle Paul prayed for people? I’ve been studying his epistle to the Colossians lately, and an early passage in Chapter 1 has made me examine Continue reading