Archive for January, 2018

Sermon in a Sentence


I had the privilege this morning of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga preach on the Elder Position Paper on Eldership (“What Are Elders and Why Do We Have Them?”). Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: Elders are a team of men in a local church who shepherd, teach, and pray for the congregation with a servant’s heart and attitude.

Read Full Post »


And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20).

“Make disciples” is the one and only command in Jesus’ Great Commission to His church (“go,” by the way is not a command – it’s assumed). How we make disciples can be summed up in three letters – E. B. and C. – taken from the Great Commission itself.

The letter E stands for evangelism. Making disciples, as we go, has to begin with proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world. The letter B stands for baptism. When people respond positively to the gospel and believe in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation, they’re to be baptized. So what about the letter C?

The letter C stands for catechism. I know, I know! Many evangelical Christians (especially those in non-denominational Bible churches, charismatic churches, and other non-Confessional Protestants) don’t know much about catechisms. If they do, they sometimes have an almost allergic reaction. But what Jesus says near the end of the Great Commission speaks directly to the purpose of a catechism.

A catechism teaches the basic doctrines of the faith in a question and answer format. That’s a tremendous way to teach a believer “to observe all that” Jesus commanded them.

In 2017, Crossway published The New City Catechism which is designed to accomplish just that – the discipling of believers in Christ. It contains 52 questions and answers that are meant to be memorized, recited, and learned by heart. The questions and answers are simple and understandable in an easy to read format. There are illustrations, Scripture proofs, and even answers that can be shortened in order to be more easily memorized by younger children. Importantly, helpful instructions are also provided.

Here’s the first question and answer: “What is our only hope in life and death?” “That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and in death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.”

I highly recommend The New City Catechism as a tool in the making of disciples – not just others, but yourself. Get it, read through it, and begin to memorize the questions and answers. You’ll be glad you did and you’ll grow as a result of it.

Read Full Post »


I had the privilege this morning of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga preach on John 18:25-40. Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: On his way to the cross, Jesus teaches us the truth is of utmost significance, external religion cannot reach the heart, and that he is in absolute control of the circumstances.

Read Full Post »


Into every life a little rain must fall. Into every life a little discouragement must come, too (sometimes a lot). Something you’ve put your heart and soul into fails. Someone you’ve invested in turns their back on you. A marriage, or another significant relationship, falls apart. You’re given a diagnosis that isn’t what you expected at all (and not in a good way). You’re passed over for a promotion – again. You read the email that begins with “there was a lot of interest in this job,” but they’re not interested in you. Christians aren’t immune from discouragement, either. Something doesn’t happen the way you wanted – something you’ve prayed about (a lot) and worked for. The result of all of these is the same, discouragement.

But what can be done about it? You won’t be surprised to know the answer is in the Bible! In Psalm 43, the sons of Korah tell us how we can deal with discouragement. The remedy comes in one verse in particular: “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” 

When we find ourselves discouraged, according to Psalm 43:5, we need to be honest with ourselves and God. Notice that the author didn’t hide the fact that he was “in despair” and “disturbed within” himself (another translation says “downcast”). His discouragement was real and he didn’t candy-coat it or deny it. God knew the state of his heart, so what could be gained from trying to hide it? None whatsoever. When we’re discouraged, we should say so – to ourselves and to God. But we can’t stay there.

When we’ve admitted our discouragement, the next thing we should do is look to God. The psalmist says, “Hope in God,” which could also be translated “put your hope in God.” Discouragement should cause us to take our eyes off of ourselves and lift them to God. If we continue to focus on ourselves (and gaze at our own navels), the fog of discouragement will never lift. But if we do the hard thing and direct our focus upon God, the fog disappears and we see things more clearly. Looking to God and trusting Him gives us perspective.

When we look to God in the midst of our discouragement, we should be encouraged. Why? “For I shall again praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God,” says the psalmist. No matter how bleak things look now and no matter how dark and thick the discouragement, know that the clouds will break and the sun will shine. There will be a time when you will “praise Him” once again because the soul-despair you’re experiencing will not last forever. God will have the last word and it will be good!

Discouragement – common to us all – is neither unstoppable nor final. Dealing with it requires us to be honest with ourselves and God, look to God, and be encouraged. After the rain falls, the sun shines – it might not be right away, but we can count on it.


Read Full Post »


I had the privilege this morning of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga preach on John 18:1-24. Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: On His way to the cross, Jesus was in complete control of the situation, protects His sheep, and is at peace with His Father’s plan.

Read Full Post »


Undoubtedly, one of the most important things we can do for fellow Christians is to pray for them. That’s true of pastors and elders – pray for those under your spiritual care. It’s true of parents – pray for your children. It’s true of grandparents – pray for your grandchildren. It’s true of every congregation – pray for your pastors and elders. It’s true of all of us – pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ!

Here’s what the apostle Paul wrote: “Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death” (Philippians 1:19-20).

The “this” Paul referred to was his house arrest in Rome at the time he wrote this letter to the church in Philippi. His circumstances could have been worse, but they were still bad – he could have been in one of the many Roman prisons. Paul’s circumstances caused  anxiety among the Christians in Philippi. They were worried about him and about the spread of the gospel. As a result, they prayed for Paul, for which he was profoundly grateful. We know, too, that he prayed for them. When we pray for one another, we go before God’s throne of grace in intercession – pleading for them and asking that God’s will be done and that He be glorified.

Let me give you some ideas of what we can pray for each other:

  • That they would grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18).
  • That they would glorify God in all things (1 Cor. 10:31).
  • That they would be transformed by the renewing of their minds (Rom. 12:2).
  • That the fruit of the Spirit would be developed and displayed in their life (Gal. 5:22-23).
  • That they would love God and others with all they have and all they are (Matt. 22:36-40; Mark 12:28-31; Luke 10:28).
  • That they would give cheerfully and generously (2 Cor. 9:6-7).
  • That they would walk in a manner worthy of the Lord (Col. 1:10).
  • That they would delight in the Word of God (Ps. 1:2).
  • That they would fix their eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:2).
  • That they would trust God with everything in their life (Prov. 3:5-6).
  • That they would have the boldness to preach the Word of God with boldness and confidence (Acts 4:29).

This is only a small list, but it’s a good place to start. You’d love it if someone were to pray these things on your behalf, so do it for others!

Read Full Post »

images (1)

I had the privilege this morning of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga preach on the topic of praying the Psalms (which kicks off Prayer Week). Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: In the Psalms, David teaches us to stretch ourselves in prayer, grow in prayer, and recognize our dependence upon God in prayer.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »