Tuesday, January 30, 2007
First, it is suggested that sinful anger is the 'moral sin,' because it deals with injustice, which often makes it particularly difficult to sort through.
The author of a three part series published in '97 and '98, David Powlison, recommended two test questions when I am angry about a situation or at a person for some perceived wrong.
1 - What does God say about it? It is sin? Or is it something that I project my own expectations and judgements on? Pastor Betters' sermon Sunday on Matt 7:1-5 really hit on this. Is it critical judgment or Godly discernment?
One example: Driving to church Sunday, I arrived earlier than usual - about 15 minutes before Sunday School was scheduled to start. As the parking lot attendant directed me to the very, very back row of the parking lot, I thought - Not Fair! I'm here early. Why do I have to park in the back of the lot? Immediately, taking the thought captive, I asked myself - but really.. what does God Word say about this? "The first will be the last?" The parable of the workers in the vineyard, perhaps? Before I could sin in my anger (or critical spirit), I was able to see that our church was in fact displaying the Gospel, even in the midst of the parking lot. Praise the Lord for this! And Praise God for those who arrive at the 11th hour and have a convenient parking spot to come in and worship! Maybe they're not even Christians yet or just started coming to church.
Righteous anger, on the other hand, thinks God's thoughts and deals with real wrongs - child abuse, for example, etc. Most of the time, our anger is selfish and sinful. However, if we are God's children, we will often be confronted with heinouos wrongs that result in anger.
2- How does God's Word say to react to the sinful situation? How can I react to anger in a Godly way? Again, Pastor Betters' sermon Sunday on Matt 7:1-5 - Get the plank out of my own eye first applies again!
In addition, one of the articles by D. Powlison gives another awesome perspective:
Too often I approach the person or situation as if I represent every party in the judicial system -- except the defense attorney!! (of course) I'm the prosecutor, judge, investigation, bailiff, jury, hangman! All at once. But what does God's Word say? Dr. Ryken preached about this in the January edition of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals broadcast - Christ is our advocate.
Jesus, who died for our sins, rose from the grave, ascended to the right hand of God, IS today - right now - all the time - our advocate- our defense attorney, interceding our behalf! He has given us access to the mercy seat, granted us His loving grace and made us heirs with Him in Heaven. WHILE we were still enemies, guilty of all transgression and deserving of eternal damnation, HE made intercession FOR us. Even now He intercedes for this big, huge pharisee (me) who seeks to hold trial against others who have not yet even received the glorious riches of His Amazing Grace.
So, even righteous anger demands a Gospel response: one that is centered on Glorifying God, displaying the Gospel, and resting on His lovingkindess, His patience, His holiness, His character, and His love. Praise God that He is SLOW to anger. Thank you, Jesus, You are the One on whom God's Wrath was pour out for me, for us, so that we might be set free - free to live the Gospel and not the law with one another.
more to come...
Thursday, January 25, 2007
- Luke 18:9-14 "He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Are we looking totally away from ourselves? When we see ourselves standing before the holy Judge, and knowing that to escape condemnation we must be found righteous in this all-knowing, infinitely-just court, what are we going to look to and trust in? On behalf of Jesus, for our justification we look not at or trust in what God has worked in us. But we look at and trust in Christ alone and all that God is for us in Him. May I live this Gospel in my life today.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Media setting up.
The president roles up after visiting DuPont.
The president visits with the troops.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
As I was reviewing the "Digging Deeper" questions for this week's "Treasures of Faith" Bible Study, I was prompted by the Day 6 question about Hebrews 10:19-25 to post what I hope would be an encouragement to others. Here is the passage of scripture:
- Hebrews 10:19 "Therefore, brothers (and sisters :), since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
I find it interesting that the author of Hebrews starts by saying that we should have confidence to approach God, to enter the Most Holy of Holies. Of course, that confidence is only confidence in the cross of Jesus Christ - the mercy seat of the Almighty Creator of Heaven and earth. Because, without His mercy upon us, we would be doomed if we saw God's face. The Old Testament tells us, without Christ, no sinner can see the face of God and live and also that all have sinned, there is no one righteous. In those days, there were only a handful of people who ever saw God's face (and lived): Abram, Jacob, Moses, and Job. And each of these only because of God's mercy on them. A "Theophany," according to Webster is:
a manifestation or appearance of God to a person.
Such theophanies, or appearances of God, only occured on very rare occasions, to very a select few prior to Christ. Today, in light of the Christ's life, death on the cross, resurrection and and ascension to the right hand of God, we now have access to the very face of God in Jesus Christ every day and all the time!
And when we meet together in our small groups to study God's Word and to lift one another up, this is the God-ordained "Theophany" that the Hebrews author is speaking of. We have the awesome privilege to enjoy God and share God with one another. Jesus said:
- Matt 18:20 "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst." (emphasis added)
The first article of the Westminster Catechism says that the chief end of man is to "glorify God and enjoy Him forever." What better way to depict the glory of God to a desparate world than by spending time in His presence with His people? And what better way to enjoy Him than by sharing Him with one another in a small group Bible study?
I was hoping these thoughts might encourage our "meeting together" again this Wednesday as we listen to Sharon Betters's third teaching and then at the end during our small group.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Inscribed: "To the Glory of God"
Commemorating the first English settlers.
The Ten Commandments on display in the reconstructed Jamestown church.
A reconstruction of the fort walls.
Statue of Capt. John Smith, governor of Virginia, overlooking the bay.
The park ranger, our tour guide, was entertaining and very well-educated on his military history of the American Revolution. Fascinating details and kudos to the French, esp. the Marquis de Layfayette!
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
It's like the whole country shuts down/slows down from Thanksgiving until after the 1st of the year - then it's bam! Oh, well. It should be interesting as I try to abide in Christ and endeavor to give all glory to God!
"'Amazing Grace', a major motion picture about the work of William Wilberforce will open in theaters across the country on February 23, 2007. It is based on the life of antislavery pioneer Wilberforce and John Newton, author of the hymn, Amazing Grace, who was one of his confidantes and who inspired him to pursue a life of service to humanity. To see clips and background on Wilberforce, Newton, and the move, go to http://www.amazinggracemovie.com."
5 Then He who sat on the throne said,
“Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” (NKJV: with my emphasis added)
'See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation;
the one who trusts will never be dismayed.'" - Isaiah 28:16
'Rock of Ages' by Augustus M. Toplady
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.
Not the labour of my hands
Can fulfil Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears for ever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Saviour, else I die.
While I draw this fleeting breath,
When my eyelids close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgement throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
For the first half of the week, I did house projects: I painted my kitchen cabinets! And I organized some of my downstairs rooms so as to do away with the ever-accumulating clutter! Pictures will be forthcoming of my 'new' painted cabinets. The very nice, retired professor who I bought my house from would not be very happy I'm sure, as he had the cabinets hand-crafted by a local cabinet maker in Kemblesville. The only trouble for me was that the wood was stained DARK, DARK brown and was just soooo depressing. So, by painting the doors and drawers an off-white semi-gloss, I was able to retain the excellent craftsmanship AND brighten the kitchen tremendously. A very prosperous endeavor, I hope.
Wednesday night began our spring semester of Bible Study, where we are studying "Treasures of Faith" which was written by our pastor and his wife, Sharon. Sharon is speaking to us for the first three weeks as we kick things off. It is very affirming to hear her share and to read their stories, as we learn that they are men and women just like us as far as the struggles in life and their need for reliance on our awesome, soveriegn God. I'm really looking forward to more of it.
The second half of this week Thursday-today, I spent in Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown, Virginia. Got a great deal online for two nights at a hotel there and the weather held up nicely. The hotel had a spa, indoor pool and sauna, which was a really nice way to relax.
As I toured Yorktown and read the historical background of that great battle - the turning point of the Revolutionary War, actually - I was so encouraged by Lafayette who came here from France to support the American effort. He said that he had searched his whole life to find "Glory" in a human countenance, and not until he met Gen. George Washington had he ever come close. The historical revisionists will have us forget the truth behind GW's 'glorious' countenance, but the president of Westminster Theological Seminary, Dr. Peter Lillback, reminds us in his most recent biography of GW, called "Sacred Fire," that it was his faith in Jesus Christ and the sovereign God of the Bible. I haven't read it yet (800 pages? or so), but plan to, knowing the significance of the body of his work.
Also, I found somethings interesting at Jamestown, while visiting the archeological museum and studying some historical background on the settlement. Jamestown, as the first English colony/settlement in the 'new world,' was primarily established to extend King James I's power and authority by fortifying a military presence in the 'new world,' by setting up the Virginia Company of London to establish an economy and legitimate trade prospects, and by establishing protestantism in the form of the Church of England - all to counteract the Spanish (who landed much earlier in St. Augustine). What I find the most peculiar to all of this is that much of what undergirded the purpose and mission of Jamestown seems highly contrary or contradictory to what the Puritan Pilgrims established at Plymouth Rock about 13 years later. By 1624 King James had revoked the charter and the colony moved east. Eventually, burned in a rebellion, Jamestown ceased to exist in 1698. Interesting study..
Sunday, January 7, 2007
original text and music by Martin Luther
1. A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper he amid the flood
of mortal ills prevaling.
For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.
2. Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right man on our side,
the man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabbaoth, his name,
from age to age the same,
and he must win the battle.
3. And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed
his truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.
4. That word above all earthly powers,
no thanks to them, abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours,
thru him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill;
God's truth abideth still;
his kingdom is forever.
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
Friday, January 5, 2007
I hang on thee; I see, believe, live,
when thy will, not mine, is done;
I can plead nothing in myself
in regard of any worthiness and grace,
in regard of thy providence and promises,
but only thy good pleasure.
If thy mercy make me poor and vile, blessed be thou!
Prayers arising from my needs are preparations for future mercies;
Help me to honour thee by believing before I feel,
for great is the sin if I make feeling a cause of faith.
Show me what sins hide thee from me and eclipse thy love;
Help me to humble myself for past evils,
to be resolved to walk with more care,
For if I do not walk holily before thee,
how can I be assured of my salvation?
It is the meek and humble who are shown thy covenant,
know thy will, are pardoned and healed,
who by faith depend and rest upon grace,
who are sanctified and quickened,
who evidence thy love.
Help me to pray in faith and so find they will,
by leaning hard on thy rich free mercy,
by believing thou wilt give what thou hast promised;
Strengthen me to pray with the conviction
that whatever I receive is thy gift,
so that I may pray until prayer be granted;
Teach me to believe that all degrees of mercy arise
from several degrees of prayer,
that when faith is begun it is imperfect and must grow,
as chapped ground opens wider and wider until rain comes.
So shall I wait thy will, pray for it to be done,
and by thy grace become fully obedient.
Thursday, January 4, 2007
whose confidence is in him.
8 He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit."
Psalm 8: 3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
9 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.
Wednesday, January 3, 2007
A song of ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.