And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:3-6)

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Here are a few of my rough study notes from the sermon today. If you read them you will clearly see that they are in a much better order than they were presented. Some of you would like to dialog on this over coffee, sounds great!

The Sabbath and Legalism
1 Corinthians 8 & 10:14-33

Summarizing last weeks, let me give you a few things John Calvin concluded about the Sabbath that will be beneficial summations…
1. That during our whole lives we may aim at a consistent rest from our own works in order that the Lord ma work in us by His Spirit.
2. that every individual as he has opportunity man diligently exercise himself in private and pious meditation on the works of God and at the same time, that all may observe the legitimate order appointed by the Church, for the hearing of the word, the administration of the sacraments, and public prayer.
3. That we may avoid oppressing those who are subject to us.

At this point it may be well to bring up a bit of teaching on legalism.
In worship you can find many false religions clearly. But not so subtle is a twisting of God’s worship by liberalism or legalism. Liberalism is a bit more apparent, and yes legalism gets carried away. Case in point, the burning of bibles and other books that is planned for Halloween night by a Kentucky pastor.,2933,569121,00.html

What Paul writes of in his day with the Corinthians we also face today in forms of the previous examples. Now let us talk about meat offered before idols. It may seem strange to do so, but I believe it will have a great impact on what we are to study. You see, to some the Sabbath is just another day. They may treat all days as holy. (Mind you do they rest all days?) What we do want to avoid is legalism and a diminishing of the Sabbath unto drudgery.

Our Text is 1 Corinthians chapters 8 through 10.
Paul talks of our knowledge that idols are nothing ,and that meat offered before an Idol is nothing, so eat up. But also he notes that if it causes a brother to stumble he will eat no more meat. It is a cultural axiom, but also it is of giving up ones liberty in Christ for the weaker brother.

In chapter 7 he had been dealing with the teachings on circumcision. So our context is placing rules upon people that are unbeneficial, unnecessary, and hard to bear in the cultural context.

Chapter 8 begins with a discussion on knowledge and its perceived value against love. Now a summarization is that knowledge has its place, but without love it is nothing. Knowledge is always incomplete, but love can be full. Knowing God is far greater than knowing stuff.

The situation here dealt with meat eating. In the Corinthians letter to Paul there were two of these situations being dealt with. The eating of meat at a pagan temple, and the eating of meat at a home in which the meat may have been purchased from a pagan temple. It often would be sold at a cheaper price. Back then, the extra meat from pagan worship would be served at restaurants that were associated with pagan worship. A pagan ritual may have even been part of the restaurant services. Paul in chapter ten will illustrate that this is clearly wrong. But another issue needs to be dealt with for conscience sake, there arises the problem that meat offered to you in a home may have been purchased at the temple butcher.

We must remember the context these Corinthians are in. They existed their entire lives in a culture of superstition and idolatry. It would be so steeped in their customs that it would be part of their nature and often unrecognizable. I could compare this to a European I knew years ago who grew up in Germany. Strong in the faith, and upright in many ways. Yet, once in the Bible belt of the South, he had to face brethren who had a very strong opposition to him and his comfort with the occasional beer. There existed a stumbling block. (It existed in both parties of belief)

Verses 7 through 9 talk of the stumbling block that such persons may face. Not all understand. Some can see things for what they truly are, some will see them with the associations made upon it.

Another example I can give is that of a good friend of mine. He enjoys the music of U2. News interviews tell hey claim Christ as their savior. Though I am not as familiar with them as I once was, I hear they often have lyrics of moral uprightness. But for someone who struggles with a past of “rock music”, U2 may be a very real struggle.

Verse 9 grabs us with a very real truth of the cross, deny self. Do not be a stumbling block to your brother. (Mind you reason is implied here, if they want to think behaviors forbidden explicitly by the scriptures are permissible, they must be gently taught the truth) Your freedom in areas of life may very well be a detriment to others. Maybe its your affluence. Your shiny new car discussions may have serious problems for a brother who idolizes materialistic things.

Be cautious of taking Verses 10 through 12 into a legalist bent. They contain a bit of hyperbola. Paul is not saying he would never ever again eat meat, but only in the presence of the weaker brother.

Chapter nine covers a great portion of text that applies to us. Paul is forced to give a bit of his credentials in order to make a point. It is not bragging, its proper contextual teaching. He talks of who he is, what his rights are by extent, and how he is willing to live by the principal of scripture with great love and joy to deny himself for the weaker brother. With all his knowledge, he remains anchored that it is all worthless without love. “For as the excellence of actions depends on the fear of God and the integrity of conscience, so, on the other hand, there is no action, that is so good in appearance, as not to be polluted by a corrupt affection of the mind. “ John Calvin Commentary vol 20, p 280.

As we look at chapter ten, Paul resumes addressing the difficulties the Corinthians wrote about in dealing with the cultural context and worship within the church.

Verses 14 on through 22 illustrate a basic tenant, have nothing to do with pagan rituals. Christians are not doing right by “becoming all things to all men” if they participate in activities of offense to God “in order to win some” as some may claim. (Not the exact context here, but I hope you get the point) Paul implies that we need to use our God given logic and knowledge to make clear judgments upon right and wrong. It is not the meat that is the problem, it’s the participation in an act that denies God.

However, verse 23 and following talk of the liberties that we do have. We may eat meat, for it is nothing, but not if it would bother another under their difficulty of it having been once part of a pagan ritual. Paul gives a great summary for all of life. So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
1 Corinthians 10:31-33

As we live as new wineskins, Coram Deo, and that our existence is all for the glorification of God, let us do all to the glory of God.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Sabbath Day

The 4th Commandment
Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy.
Exodus 20:1-11 and Matthew 12:1-14

I have spent several years looking into the Sabbath. There are many many opinions. I bring this part to you out of a great concern that we are idolizing leisure above the worship of God. I have great concerns that on Sundays when we come to worship we are distracted, tired from the work week and running around, to the point that our efforts are displeasing to God and that we never connect with Him. In short I wonder, quite often about our real love for God.
As your pastor it is my hearts desire that all of us truly know God in a saving manner in which He is truly Savior, Lord, and Love.
With the mounds of notes that I have on the Sabbath, I have come to several conclusions. Honestly, I also have new questions. So in what I shall deliver over the next few Sundays, I hope to summarize for you some essentials. Let us remember a few key points…
• The Ten Commandments are more about Who God is than legalistic rules that no flesh can keep.
• God’s laws are meant for our benefit, leading us to Him and protecting us from evil.

First let us tackle the biggest concern. Legalism & Worship
Throughout the Old Testament is it undeniable that God repeatedly held the breaking of the Sabbath against the Jews. He often charges them with profaning His Sabbath. It was to be a time of worship of Him and of rest. God detests the sniffing at His name and the false pretenses of worship. It was this that was an early step towards idolatry of false idols. They may not have immediately left the Sabbath, they may have mixed Baal with their regular worship. But hand in hand they failed to worship God.
• Sabbath rest was not instituted until the Decalogue was given to Moses.
• In Genesis we never find a command for man to rest on the seventh day.
• Rest did have many benefits for Jew, animals, and slaves.
• In the NT, all the ten commandments are taught explicitly, with the exception of Sabbath rest. The early church did not keep the Sabbath, they kept the day of resurrection for worship.
• The Pharisees legalistically kept the Sabbath. They added commands that were not of the Lord.
• Jesus pointed out that the Sabbath was made for man, that doing good to others on this day was encouraged, and that the Pharisees had it all wrong.

Historically, in post reformation days, the Sunday worship became relaxed in “Merry Old England”. It was called such as the church started being the grounds of festivals and sports on Sunday afternoons. Yet it got out of hand. There were dong fights and gambling, and it became the focus of the day rather than the work of Christ.

Now, legalistically in our day and in the last 100 years, we have had blue laws and have sought to facilitate worship on the Sabbath un hindered. It was then thought that if a person worked on such a day that it would ruin our witness before others that we are Christians. (More will be covered on this in following weeks)

Now I fully admire and respect people such as Truett Cathy and his Chick Fil A stores which are all closed on Sunday. I also have this regard for Hobby Lobby for the same reason. If I owned a business I would do the same as they. But, I am not finding any command of the New Testament prohibiting Christians from working on the Sabbath. Now I do find some provisions to their life that need to be observed.
• They must not forsake the assembling of the believers.
• They must have some time of rest in the week for reflection and meditation upon the graces of God. (Implied by the church)


Me too. But like the Berean brethren, we must take what is taught us and put it against scripture to see what Scripture says.

Many of us have objections to alcohol. I do. However, some of those same people regularly give no regard to other commandments. I say, pass the pork.
Through the NT we often see Jesus bringing clarity to the OT regulations and laws. We now understand murder is on par with anger against a brother or name calling. We see that lust is on par with adultery. This then begs us to investigate how Jesus taught about the Sabbath. Seems to me most of His healings and work that we have recorded were Sabbath events. I find that wonderful.

Now Jesus did teach that if an ox went in a ditch on the Sabbath day that one would get it out. Adrian Rodgers once said that if the ox kept getting in the ditch either fill in the ditch or slaughter the ox. That is a good rational for those making excuses of why they neglect worship while acting “spiritual”.
But Jesus was showing the duplicity of the Pharisees’ treatment of the Sabbath. His intent was to say that it glorifies God to do good on the Sabbath.

And this brings me to my main point. The Sabbath is to full fill the two greatest commandments.
To Love the Lord your God (That is to worship Him) and
To Love your neighbor as Yourself (Do ministry unto others)
For we are created to glorify God, thus we are also to be lights unto a dark world that has yet to know Christ. The fulfilling of the great commission is to go into all the world, and how will the world know and believe our message? It is by the Spirit working in us that we love, not that we keep all the law. The scripture states…

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 1 John 3:14-16

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:7-11

Love is the evidence of our Christianity, not law. Yes if we love God we keep His commandments, But without the love, law is useless.

So let me give you a few things John Calvin concluded about the Sabbath that will be beneficial summations…
1. That during our whole lives we may aim at a consistent rest from our own works in order that the Lord ma work in us by His Spirit.
2. that every individual as he has opportunity man diligently exercise himself in private and pious meditation on the works of God and at the same time, that all may observe the legitimate order appointed by the Church, for the hearing of the word, the administration of the sacraments, and public prayer.
3. That we may avoid oppressing those who are subject to us.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Pastor Appreciation

I have noticed a bit of traffic in the blogasphere of people needing ideas for Pastor Appreciation Month. Here are a few very rough ideas to help you. And as a disclaimer, I do not post these for my church's interest or my own.

Pastor Appreciation Ideas

Pay off something he owes.

Give him a gift card to a store he enjoys.

Provide his wife with enough gift certificates to dine out every night for a week.

Bring a gift a day for all of October. It could be anywhere from a chocolate bar to a new MP3 player.

Give his family some time away.

Send him and his wife to Life Action Ministries “The Lodge”.

Have him go to the local men’s store and pick out a new suit, two ties, 3 shirts, and a pair of shoes.

Mow his lawn.

Rake his leaves

Give him a budget to redecorate his office.

If he collects something, provide a few items for displaying and additional treasures for his collection.

If he loves tools, find one unique and specialized for his hobby.

Pay for three free rounds of golf with a cart.

Get him a new gas grill.

Tickets to a sporting event.

Provide a book of letters of appreciation for what he does.

Fly in his kids for a visit.

Bring in one of his friends for a visit.

Buy him a grill pack of meat from the local butcher.

Figure out what items he would like to see done around the church building and get them completed.

Send his wife on a spa day.

Babysit the kids.

If he has little ones, supply a months worth of diapers.

Buy each of his kids a special gift to thank them for being PKs.

Provide a new desk or computer.

If they are in a parsonage, makeover a room for them.

Wash, wax, and detail his car.

Landscape his yard.

Provide a new set of lawn furniture.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

1 in 4 are Muslim

Woke up this morning to a Muslim world.

It is not a shock, but a shock of reality. The Fox news headline this morning, 1 in 4 people in the world are Muslim. We must understand what this means for our ever global butterfly effect world. Muslims, like Hindus tend to believe their faith so much it permeates every breath of being. It is their religion, their lifestyle, their faith and commerce. It is not a label, it is the sole ingredient of who they are. On the other hand, with “Separation of Church and state” we Americans have befuddled out lives by compartmentalizing such aspects. We box God up, and label the side “Break glass in case of emergency”. We call to Him on 9/11, and conveniently put Him back when the sports programming resumes. The church here and now is no different. God tends to partially effect one hour on a Sunday morning somewhere between coffee and lunch and a grumbling about the pastor or music. And I add, how do we ever worship Him in these circumstances.
Yesterday I was reading a family oriented “Christian” magazine that comes to our home. Flavoring the articles was a spice of legalistic mandate that assumed a destiny right of making America “a Christian nation”. I am all for Christianity taking on all facets of our lives and setting forth the code for living peaceably in the USA. However, to assume to force that mindset or legislate thinking without having made a reasonable case with each generation is at best arrogant.
With “The Church” being so doctrinally unstable and a buffet of variable theologies, we find that the church tries to be like the world in a sadly laughable way, all while telling the world to be like them. We “The Church” give entertainment like amateurs, counsel with drugs and boo hoo therapies ala Oprah and Phil, and festoon a creed of love with exclusiveism. We boast of our own numbers, which are inflated and only a half generation away from being completely opposed by those who once agreed.
So far I have been referring to the church in that mass grouping that Christian Bookstores seem to use, equating Jonathan Edwards and Joel Osteen, Luther and Joyce Meyer, Calvin and Warren. The grab for the dollar puts anything scented of the Bible into one mass pot and people blindly trust the playing pipes as authoritative and looking for their best interest. Most people could not biblically define a true church who even lead one.
Christ’s church, the true church is a rare gospel living group indeed. Its not those filled with activity, for even the active will one day cry out “Lord Lord did we not…” (Mt 7) It is those who know Christ that are the church. (Mt 7, John 17:3) The beauty for the true church is the promise of Christ that the gates of Hell will not prevail. Yet we tend to sit back and do nothing. Sad. For I am reminded amongst all the parables of our future that Christ taught about the ten virgins and the lazy stewards. Both stories shared the demise of those who when the time came were found to be lazy and doing nothing, only to be left to the outer darkness.
When a watchman sends a warning the people need to respond. Unfortunately our good pastors have said wake up, only to be drowned out by the noise of narcissism. Has it gone now so far that Fox News even sounds an alarm, only to be ignored?
Yes folks, it is a Muslim world.,2933,562101,00.html

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I often have a LOT of fun playing with the kids. SO here is a fun site that will amaze you. Its the Bible played out with Legos. If you ever have purchased these little foot piercing plastic pieces of imagination you will seen wonder how much it must have cost the builders to create their masterpiece. Enjoy. The Brick Testament