Archive for February, 2016


John 12:37 says, But though He (Jesus) had performed so many signs before  them, yet they were not believing in Him.

We err greatly if we suppose that seeing wonderful miraculous things will ever convert souls. Thousands live and die in this delusion. They fancy if they saw some miraculous sight, or witnessed some supernatural exercise of Divine grace, they would lay aside their doubts, and at once become decided Christians. It is a total mistake. Nothing short of a new heart and a new nature implanted in us by the Holy Spirit, will ever make us real disciples of Christ. Without this, a miracle might raise within us a little temporary excitement; but the novelty once gone, we would find ourselves just as cold and unbelieving as the Jews.

The prevalence of unbelief and indifference in the present day ought not to surprise us. It is just one of the evidences of that mighty foundation-doctrine, the total corruption and fall of man. How feebly we grasp and realize that doctrine is proved by our surprise at human incredulity. We only half believe the heart’s deceitfulness. Let us read our Bibles more attentively, and search their contents more carefully. Even when Christ wrought miracles and preached sermons, there were numbers of His hearers  who remained utterly unmoved. What right have we to wonder if the hearers of modern sermons in countless instances remain unbelieving? “The disciple is not greater than his Master.” If even the hearers of Christ did not believe, how much more should we expect to find unbelief among the hearers of His ministers? Let the truth be spoken and confessed. Man’s obstinate unbelief is one among many indirect proofs that the Bible is true. The clearest prophecy in Isaiah begins with the solemn question, “Who has believed?” (Isaiah 53:1.)

We need to pray and keep praying that God would open the eyes and ears of the unbelieving and give them new hearts that believe and act.

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I had the privilege of preaching this morning on John 12:37-43. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Unbelief involves both human responsibility and divine sovereignty, and may, at times, look like belief.

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As a pastor, I want to have some knowledge of what’s going on with the media and technology used during our worship services, but I don’t necessarily want to be an expert (I might be asked to run the sound booth!).

Lights, Camera, Worshipby Greg Zschomler is a crash-course in media and technical arts (as they’re called). Brief, easy-to-read chapters on subjects such as video projection, video production, graphics design, developing a web presence, social media, strategic stage lighting, theatrical production, costume and makeup design, audio reinforcement essentials, worship planning, and the building of volunteer tech teams.

I knew there was a lot involved in all of these areas, but I had no idea how much. There are a number of good suggestions in the book which could be easily implemented. Before reading it, I was concerned that the material would only be applicable to large churches, but not small churches (like the one I pastor). Those concerns were addressed with the realization that the basic principles apply everywhere.

Lights, Camera, Worship! is a good and necessary book. Tolls lege!

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The death of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia is a serious blow not only to the Supreme Court, but also to the nation. He was a brilliant, strong, and well-spoken defender of the Constitution in its original authorial intent as opposed to it as a “living document” that can mean whatever a judge says it means.

He was also a man grounded in the Judeo-Christian worldview. He said, “God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools…and He has not been disappointed. Devout Christians are destined to be regarded as fools in modern society. We are fools for Christ’s sake. We must pray for courage to endure the scorn of the sophisticated world. If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.”

May we be in prayer regarding his replacement and our nation.


Charles Ryrie, retired theology professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, died this week. He was 90. Ryrie is best known for The Ryrie Study Bible – his magnum opus. Ryrie had a gift (and I believe it is a gift) of making complex ideas simple. His writings are user-friendly as we call them today.

The Ryrie Study Bible was the first study Bible I owned. The notes, introductions, and outlines were extremely helpful to me as I grew in my new faith in Christ. I no longer hold all of Ryrie’s dispensational  teaching, but that doesn’t minimize it in any way. I recommend his systematic theology, Basic Theology, but think it should be studied in comparison and contrast with other works.

Charles Ryrie was a gift to the church.


Bernie Sanders is upset that even though he’s won both a caucus and a primary, his opponent Hillary Clinton has more delegates than he does.

Uh, Bernie, that’s socialism: Something (in this case delegates) that you legitimately earned has been given to someone who didn’t. Hopefully you and you’re supporters will connect the dots.

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Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands is a fantastic book. Paul David Tripp has made the case that all of us as Christians, and not just “professionals,” are able to counsel others. The subtitle puts it well: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change. 

Near the end of the book, he says,

Two things always come to mind as I finish teaching this material. First, I am hit with the utter simplicity of biblical personal ministry. It is not a secret technology for the intervention elite, but a simple call to every one of God’s children to be part of what God is doing in the lives of others. It is living in honest, humble, redemptive community with others, loving as Christ loved, and going beyond the casual to really know people. It is loving others enough to speak the truth to them, helping them to see themselves in the mirror of God’s Word. And it is standing with others, helping them to do what God has called them to do. It is basically just a call to biblical friendship! It is almost embarrassingly simple: Love people. Know them. Speak truth into their lives. Help them do what God has called them to do. (Italics in original)

It took longer than normal to read this book because there is so much information in it, and so much to consider. It should be used as a textbook if it isn’t already.

At it’s foundation, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands is a book about discipleship. It answers the question of how we can help each other grow in godliness. Read this book. It may take you awhile, but read it!


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I had the privilege this morning of preaching on John 12:27-36. What follows is a one-sentence summary of my sermon: The death of Jesus Christ was authenticated by the Father, misunderstood by the crowd, has far-reaching results, and demands a response.

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This morning, I had the privilege of preaching on John 12:20-26. The following is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Because of His imminent death, Jesus taught clearly that we need Him desperately, salvation comes as a result of His sacrificial death, and discipleship involves self-sacrifice and service.

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Month in Review


In January…

I  read The Art of Prophesying by William Perkins. A 17th century Puritan’s instruction on preaching, the qualities of a minister, and the call to ministry. Just as relevant today as it was then.

read Who is the Holy Spirit?  by R.C. Sproul. It’s an excellent short book examining the basic biblical doctrine of the Holy Spirit.

We watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens with a very good friend, along with a dinner at Old Spaghetti Factory. A great evening!

read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. The book is a study of success – why do some succed and others don’t? The answer is counter-intuitive: it’s not always not the person who works the hardest and longest. I enjoy Gladwell’s books – they’re fascinating studies of human behavior.

baptized two young men – Steven and Jacob – at Cross Creek Bible Church. It was an honor to be involved and share this moment with them, their family, and the congregation!

prayed (and gave the benediction) at my second cousin’s Eagle Court of Honor. Only two percent of all Boy Scouts ever attain the rank of Eagle. Congratulations, Kevin!

One of our nieces began her stay with us as she interns at an architecture firm in downtown Portland. We’ve enjoyed it, and her, a lot.

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