Gratitude Always for All Things

Ephesians 5:20 teaches us that an essential part of wisdom is "giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." The grammar of this verse links it back to 5:18, which indicates that the gratitude Paul describes is a result of being filled with the Spirit. This makes perfect sense, of course, because only ...

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The Truth About Calvin & Servetus

Haters of John Calvin (including many Christians) love to blame him for the burning of the heretic Michael Servetus, and they use the execution of Servetus to paint Calvin as a harsh, hateful, soulless Pharisee. But nothing could be further from the truth.--Because Servetus openly taught against the doctrine of the Trinity, he had already been cond...

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A Study in Contrasting Modes of Motherhood

"Here my son, take this musket and never disgrace it; for remember, that I had rather all my sons should fill one honorable grave than that one of them should turn his back to save his life. The door of my cottage is ever open to brave men, but always shut against cowards."--Sam Houston's mother when he left home to join the army"He's never hurt an...

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Aqueducts of Anxiety vs. Springs of Salvation

Isaiah 12:3 is a beautiful description of the limitless blessings of eternal life that Jesus provides: "Therefore with joy you will draw water from the springs of salvation." I pointed out all the water connections with the original Exodus, but there is also an important water connection within the book of Isaiah that helps explain the comfort and ...

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The Heart of Anger

The recent school shooting in Nashville tragically illustrates the principles we've been discussing in the adult Sunday school class over the past few weeks. In our consideration of the 6th Commandment ("Thou shalt not kill"), we talked about what murder means and what the murderer hopes to accomplish by it. Murder is almost always driven by anger,...

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Liturgical Evangelism

The structure of our liturgy—and that of most other ancient liturgical traditions—follows the pattern of God making or renewing a covenant (hence the name "covenant renewal worship"). This biblical pattern also serves as a summary of the gospel, and the cumulative effect of this sort of weekly liturgy gets the gospel deeply ingrained within us. In ...

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The Appeal of Pre-Millennialism

It's well known that Pre-Millennialism has a very pessimistic view of the future of history before the return of Christ. In that view, Jesus tried and failed to establish His earthly kingdom in His first coming and will not be able to do so until He comes again. Thus, the Devil is ruling the world, and history is God's Vietnam. Our only hope is not...

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Do Animals Go to Heaven?

Isaiah 11:6-9 raises the very interesting question of whether or not "all dogs/animals go to heaven". We have some indication that animals go to heaven (the word translated "living creatures" in Revelation is the Greek word for animals), but we have every reason to believe that there will be animals in the new creation. We don't know if every singl...

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How Much Do You Love Your Daughter?

Significant Dates Facebook became available to teens (age 13+) in 2006.Instagram was founded in 2010.The iPhone 4 was released in 2010. It was the first smartphone with a camera meant for selfies.Facebook bought Instagram in 2012, which drastically increased its number of users. Research Findings 1)  Social media usage is more strongly connect...

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The Failure of Psychology

Renowned Ivy League professor of psychology William Kirk Kilpatrick wrote in his 1983 book Psychological Seduction, "However good-intentioned and however nice, it is not at all clear that the psychological establishment knows how to help. Everywhere there are dark hints that the faith doesn't work. Despite the creation of a virtual army of psychiat...

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The Lord and His Tools

Isaiah 10 describes the Lord's use of the Assyrian Empire as His instrument of wrath on rebellious nations like Syria and Israel. Following this theme, my sermon focused on how the sovereign Lord continues to work out His purposes in and through the events and circumstances of history. This includes everything from international politics down to th...

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The Necessity of Personal Regeneration

Because of Jesus' sacrificial death and glorious resurrection from dead, God's future new creation ("the Regeneration"—Mt. 19:28) has erupted in the midst of this old creation (John 11:25-26; 1 Cor. 15:20-23). Jesus died in our Adamic flesh and rose again as the Second Adam, the firstborn from the dead and the head of God's new humanity (Rom. 5:12f...

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Isaiah as the 5th Gospel

During Advent and Christmas, be on the lookout for references and allusions to Isaiah in our hymns and carols. By my count, one-third (17 out of 51) of the sung portions of Handel's Messiah come from Isaiah. One might goes so far as to say that around this time of the year, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a prophecy from Isaiah. Isaiah h...

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Gratitude or Death

Life expectancy for Americans has been falling for the past several years, due in large part to a sharp increase in "deaths of despair" (click here). How is it that the most prosperous nation in history could be filled with so many people who are unhappy, bitter, discontent, suicidal, and generally do not care whether they live or die? As one pasto...

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Christian Education & Cultural Transformation

As I mentioned briefly, one very important application of my recent sermon has to do with education. I know full well that it's very unpopular to criticize government education (aka "public schools"). Most people around here (including me) attended public school for part or all of our primary education. Many people in our area (including many of yo...

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Emotions & Self-Deception

My recent sermon provided a biblical overview of what emotions are and what we ought to do with them. As I explained, emotions reveal what's in our heart. They serve as indicators of what we love the most and fear the most, which is to say that they reveal the object of our worship. One of the most common defense mechanisms that we are tempted to u...

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Bitter at God

I mentioned two things in Sunday's sermon that I want to develop a bit further: 1) Many are people ultimately bitter against God, and 2) Bitterness is not usually related to the size of the offense but to the proximity of the person who committed it. Often, we become bitter toward those closest to us over the pettiest little things because we belie...

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Regret & Grieving a Suicide

Encouragement to someone grieving a suicide: In situations like this, there are always regrets about what you could've done differently. In hindsight, of course you see things that you couldn't have known at the time. Think of something that you wish you would've done differently. Think of something that you believe would have made a significant di...

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Heaven Dissolved & Elements Melted (2 Peter 3:7-13)

In my sermon on Sunday, I disagreed with the popular idea that God is going to burn up this world, but I didn't have time to explain where that view comes from or why it's incorrect. To be fair, there is a biblical basis for that view in 2 Peter 3:7-13. On the surface, that passage really does seem to teach that this whole world--atomic "elements" ...

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Inspiration and Preservation

The Westminster Confession of Faith (I.8) states, "The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of the writing of it, was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all a...

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