The Miracle of Marriage

Every man should share the astonishment of Martin Luther, who wrote to a friend just before getting married:

I am going to get married. God likes to work miracles and to make a fool of the world. You must come to the wedding.

Men, it’s a miracle that you got married. Rejoice in the miracle of your wife today.

Theology: The Authority of the Bible

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What does it mean that the Bible is our authority?

In the words of Wayne Grudem:

All the words in the Bible are God’s words. Therefore, to disbelieve or disobey them is to disbelieve or disobey God. (Christian Beliefs, pg. 13)

The words in the Bible are from God himself. We aren’t allowed to decide if they’re true or to pick and choose which words we will obey. God decides what is true and right. Not us.

In 2 Timothy 3:16 we read:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…

Scripture is breathed out by God himself, and is our final authority for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. The words of scripture don’t conform to some external standard of truth. They are the definition of truth. Those things which conform to scripture are true, and those that don’t are false. In John 17:17, Jesus said:

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

The truthfulness of the scriptures doesn’t mean that the Bible reports all events with precision, scientific detail. It often uses round numbers (e.g. “There were 6,000 men”) or makes general statements (e.g. “He traveled a far distance”), but the general nature of these statements doesn’t make them any less true.

The truthfulness of the Bible does mean that it never affirms something that is false. If it did affirm something false, we couldn’t trust the Bible, and ultimately, we couldn’t trust God. That’s why it’s so crucial for us to affirm that absolute truth and authority of the Bible.

Because the Bible is true, we can place our full trust in it and wholeheartedly obey it.

Adapted from Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know

+photo by le vent le cri

Hoarders

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Have you seen “Hoarders?”  Only in America.  A show about people buried under mountains of possessions.

I guess one man’s misery is another man’s entertainment. It’s a sad program. What begins as a collection of say, Pez dispensers, becomes a life-sucking bondage to mountains of knickknacks and knitting needles. One good thing about watching the show is that it makes me want to get rid of stuff. Even good stuff. Like our furniture. Or my David Bowie tee shirt. Or our dogs. No, wait. I always want to get rid of our dogs.

The real problem with hoarding isn’t that we amass stuff; it’s where we amass it – here. Jesus actually commanded us to hoard – but in heaven.

MT 6.19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Jesus says to send our treasures ahead – as many and often as we can.  They’ll be waiting – all brand new and shiny. In heaven there are no moths, rust, or tarnishing.

So start hoarding to your heart’s content. Give to the poor. Share the gospel.  Help the weak. Your heavenly mansion has lots of room.

photo by elgin.jessica

My Daughter Has It Better Than Jesus

One month ago my daughter, Ella, was born. The moment she entered the world she was surrounded by care. Nurses hovered around her, wiping her clean and suctioning out her nostrils.

She was given a gentle sponge bath and placed on a warming bed. Her vital signs were constantly monitored and a pediatrician examined her the day after she was born.

Ella had it much better than Jesus.

“Think, women, there was no one there to bathe the Baby. No warm water, nor even cold. No fire, no light. The mother herself midwife and the maid. The cold manger was the bed and the bathtub. Who showed the poor girl what to do? She had never had a baby before. I am amazed that the little one did not freeze.” Martin Luther, Here I Stand

Better Than A Big Brain

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According to the Discovery Channel, British physicist Stephen Hawking is “the greatest mind on the planet.”

He believes in aliens, can teach us how to walk through time, and knows how the world will end.  So they promote their documentary called, “Into the Universe,” which aired on the Discovery Channel last night.

“To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational,” Hawking says, based on scientists’ belief that there are over 100 billion galaxies in the universe.

Hawking’s advice to us is to quit trying to talk to aliens. “We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet,” he says. Heck, I knew that back in the 60′s from watching Twilight Zone. I quit trying to contact aliens when I was 12.

I’d like to have a great mind. I’d take power and riches too. This world “boasts” in these things. But God tells us there’s something far better to rejoice in.

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” JE 9.23-24

I’d rather personally know the infinitely wise God than have the biggest brain in the world. I’d rather be weak and know the all-powerful One than rule a nation. I’d rather be poor and know the God who showers us with riches in Christ, than have the wealth of Solomon.

We should rejoice in these things:

That we know our God is “the Lord,” sovereign over every molecule in the universe. What a blessing to know the universe is not random. That things don’t just “happen” to us.

The Lord delights to practice steadfast love. If he were sovereign but not loving, this would be a scary universe. I wouldn’t fear aliens – I’d fear an unpredictable God. But our King’s infinite power is motivated and guided by steadfast love.

He always acts in justice and righteousness. God always does the right thing. He never does us wrong. And he’ll use his infinite power to bring about justice in the earth and blessing for his blood-bought children.

Aren’t you glad you know the Lord who is sovereign, loving, just and righteous?

Introducing: Redemption Stories

I love stories of how God reaches down and rescues sinners who are running from him. I love redemption stories. They inspire me to pray for those who don’t know Christ, and give me fresh faith in the power of the gospel.

This is the story of my friend, Tony Versacce. Tony was an angry, skeptical, atheist who wanted nothing to do with God. He openly mocked Christians and thought Jesus was a crutch. Then, in a series of incredible events, God brought Tony to his knees and caused him to be born again. It’s a story that will encourage you and amaze you. I hope it also compels you to keep sharing the gospel with others, even those who reject you.

Redemption Stories: Tony Versacce by stephenaltrogge

Sunday Is Coming (Part 2)

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This is part two of the series, Sunday Is Coming.

Why should you bother climbing out of bed and going to church? Here’s why…

To Give Your Gifts Away

God has given you a unique set of spiritual gifts, and these gifts aren’t primarily for your own enjoyment! In Romans 12:6, Paul says:

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…

Your spiritual gifts are not to be hoarded or let lie dormant. You’re to use them, to put them into action, to give them away. God has given you a unique personality and a unique set of gifts, and these are to be poured into other people, so that they may be built up.

In 1 Corinthians 12:7 we read about spiritual gifts:

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

God wants to do good to his people and his church through the gifts he’s given you. Don’t hold them back. Don’t let them atrophy by not using them. Spend your gifts on the church.

To Benefit From the Gifts of Others

The wonderful truth is, no Christian is a one man show. God has made us to need other Christians. He has deliberately withheld spiritual gifts from us and given them to others, to build us into and make us dependent on others. Using the illustration of the body, Paul says:

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”

Each of us is only a part of the body of Christ. And just as an eye can’t survive apart from the rest of the body, you can’t survive spiritually apart from the spiritual gifts of others. You need the brother who excels in encouragement, and the sister who is full of mercy toward others.

Apart from the spiritual gifts of others, you simply won’t thrive in your spiritual life.

Go to church to give yourself away, and go to church to receive the gifts of others.

Secretary’s Day!

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Or as it is now called Administrative Professionals Day.

At our church we have the 4 greatest secretaries in the world – Kathie, Madonna, Susan and Carolyn.  Here’s why they are so great.  They are:

  • Always joyful – they consistently radiate the joy of the Lord.
  • Warm and friendly – they are wonderful representatives of Christ and our church and make every visitor to the office feel welcome, from children to the copier repair man.
  • Servants – I have never once heard one of them complain or grumble, no matter what we pastors ask them to do, even if it’s something as menial as running out to get us some sourdough pretzels while we’re meeting.  (We don’t do this very often and when we do we always ask really nicely and promise them things like extra vacation time.  Of course we never give it to them).
  • Diligent and hard working – they go far beyond what the job requires, and are happy to do so.
  • Patient and long-suffering.  Mostly with me.

Praise God for secretaries serving unnoticed behind the scenes, advancing the gospel, using their gifts, serving their pastors and churches and bringing glory to the name of Jesus.

Thank your Secretary or Administrative Professional today.  Do something nice for them.  Stop by your church and thank her, or send her an email and let her know you appreciate all she does for the church and the Lord.

Sunday Is Coming!

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Do Sunday’s really matter, or is it just another day of the week?

Why do we go to church? Why do we make so much effort week after week? Why not just read the Bible in Starbuck’s by myself or take a prayer hike through the woods? Why all the fuss for some singing, some words from the pulpit, and a quick conversation with a friend?

Because Sunday is a sacred day. Here’s why…

We Proclaim the Power of the Gospel

Those who don’t know Jesus Christ live out their lives in a sinful bubble, hating and being hated (Titus 3:3). The world is ruled by cliques, divisions, racism, arrogance, and selfishness. But through the gospel, God is creating a new people for himself, a people bought with blood and united by the Holy Spirit.

When we gather on Sunday we are saying to the world, “Look what God is doing!” When Whites, African-Americans, Asians, bankers, construction workers, salesmen, homemakers, and nurses come together to worship, we are demonstrating the reconciling power of the gospel to a watching world.

We Proclaim the Death of Christ

In 1 Corinthians 11:26, Paul writes to the church:

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

To proclaim something implies that we are proclaiming to someone else. When we eat the bread and drink the juice/wine, we’re proclaiming to each other that Jesus Christ has shed his blood for the forgiveness of sins. We’re also saying to the world that the blood of Christ can wash away all their sins and bring them into covenant with God.

We can’t proclaim in the privacy of our living rooms. We take communion together, we remember together, we proclaim together. That’s why Sundays matter.

TO BE CONTINUED…