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Showing posts from January, 2017

Our Name Changing God

Johnny Cash’s famous hit, “A Boy Named Sue” pokes fun at the significance of names. Nobody wants a name that makes others laugh at them or that reminds people of a negative historical figure. I recently preached a funeral for a deacon in our church with the middle name Adolf, a very popular name before World War II. Now no one names a child Adolf or Judas. This is why expectant mothers and fathers-to-be labor over the name of their progeny. When my wife and I were talking about names for our future children, I liked the name Clark for a boy, after my heroic great uncle, but my wife once babysat a Clark that forever secured in her mind the doctrine of total depravity. Likewise, my wife liked the name Autumn for a girl, but I knew an Autumn who would make you cringe whenever you saw her coming. Names carry a sense of one’s identity. This is why we name children after godly relatives, heroes of the faith, or that remind us of characteristics we hold dear. Why God Changes Our Names Yet in…

The Word that Sparked the Reformation

I’ve heard it said that one spark from a campfire can travel over a mile before burning out. But there is one spark that has managed to travel thousands of miles, even across oceans, and through five centuries of time and has spread a blaze across the world; this spark is the reformation doctrine of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. The word that sparked this Reformation is the word ‘sola’ or ‘alone’ in English. In his book Faith Alone:The Evangelical Doctrine of Justification, R.C. Sproul remarks, “It was the sola of sola fide that was the central point of dispute…Martin Luther and the Reformers insisted that justification is by faith alone. Rome affirms that justification is “by faith,” but not “by faith alone”’ (page 36, 122). How could such a small word carry so much weight and cause so much controversy? Because the word sola differentiated not between two different ways of understanding the gospel of Jesus Christ, but two totally different gospels alt…

When God's Will and Our Will Collide

We’ve all been there. You have your entire day planned out and all is smooth sailing…then it happens. Your car won’t start or you lose your keys or your baby has an allergic reaction and you’ve got to rush to the doc right now (me this week). In moments like this it is so easy to carry hidden frustration toward God because of your circumstances, but this would be a failure to trust His wisdom, goodness, and sovereignty over your life. We may seem more spiritual when life is all smiles and we’re sipping a Starbucks on a breezy, carefree day, but God doesn’t see it that way. What we call interruptions to our will are actually perfectly coordinated and strategic elements of God’s will being worked out in our lives. The Christian life, among other things, is a series of God-planned interruptions uniquely crafted to wean us from self and teach us to depend upon Him; the sooner we learn this, the better. This is because of the focus of God’s will and the unique possibilities of accomplishi…

Sleep: Keeping in the Guardrails

Sleep is great. Who doesn’t want to get a full eight hours every night and wake up feeling rested and refreshed? Yet most of us find this quite challenging, if not impossible. There can be any number of reasons why we don’t get a good night’s sleep: work demands, small children who often cry out at night, household chores that must be completed, our favorite TV show that comes on late, a guilty conscience or racing mind, or even a health problem. For those of us who don’t have as much responsibility, oversleeping can be a temptation: college students who don’t have class until 11am, the retired or unemployed who don’t have a boss waiting on them, or the self-employed who don’t have a fixed schedule. What can we do to avoid losing control of our sleep and this causing damage in other aspects of our lives? God’s Word teaches us to stay between two guardrails: too little sleep and too much sleep. The first guardrail, too little sleep, is found in Psalm 127:2: “It is vain that you rise u…

5 Prayer Helps for 2017

2017 is officially upon us and with a new year comes a fresh reminder that we desperately need the Lord’s grace to see us through or we’re doomed. A resolution to pray more in 2017 is a good one, but the problem comes when we don’t know exactly what to pray or the proper manner in which to pray. In 2 Chronicles 20, the author narrates for us a crisis moment in King Jehoshaphat’s life and his prayerful reaction. I see at least five principles we can draw for our own prayer lives from the situation found in 2 Chronicles 20. Set your face to seek the Lord When King Jehoshaphat was informed that a massive army of Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites was encroaching on the people of Judah, he responded wisely. We are told in 2 Chronicles 20:3b-4 that he: “Set his face to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah assembled to seek help from the LORD; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.” Instead of seeking help from another nation or a trusted bat…