Archive for March 10, 2012
Tags: Atheism, Bible, Calvary, Christianity, God, Religion, Religion and Spirituality, Voltaire
The atheistic fool. It’s said, “An atheist can’t find God for the same reason a thief can’t find a policeman.” Sometimes pride is at the core of atheism. Without a God, you become your own God, which means there’s no higher power than yourself! But the God of the Bible proves His existence in three ways: (1) Creation. Many people are in prison today who weren’t caught at the scene of the crime, and no one actually witnessed the crime. What proved they did it? Fingerprints! DNA! Creation carries God’s fingerprints and DNA. “Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name” (Isa 40:26 NLT). (2) Calvary. In creation you see God’s power, at the cross you see His love for you. In creation you see His hand, at the cross you see His heart. (3) Conscience. “Gentiles…even without having heard it… demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right” (Ro 2:14-15 NLT). Conscience is like having a Bible in your soul; no one was born without one. Voltaire, the French atheist, said, “It took twelve fishermen to build Christianity. I will show the world how one Frenchman can destroy it.” After Voltaire died, the home in which he had lived became Europe’s most famous Bible distribution center. Bottom line: Voltaire is dead; our God lives! Atheism is the greatest gamble of all. After all, what if there is a God and you stand before Him one day?
Tags: Christ, Christianity, God, Jesus, Peace, Peace With God, Religion & Spirituality, United States
It is not peace with God, but the peace of God. “The peace that passes all understanding” is the very breath of God in the soul. He alone is able to keep it, and He can so keep it that “nothing shall offend us.” Beloved, are you there?
God’s rest did not come till after His work was over, and ours will not. We begin our Christian life by working, trying and struggling in the energy of the flesh to save ourselves. At last, when we are able to cease from our own work, God comes in with His blessed rest, and works His own Divine works in us.
Oh! have you heard the glorious word
Of hope and holy cheer;
From heav’n above its tones of love
Are lingering on my ear;
The blessed Comforter has come,
And Christ will soon be here.
Oh, hearts that sigh there’s succor nigh,
The Comforter is near;
He comes to bring us to our King,
And fit us to appear.
I’m glad the Comforter has come,
And Christ will soon be here.
Tags: glory, God, Irvine, Lord, Pastor, Prayer, Presbyterianism, Psalm
Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness.
Psalm 115 opens with a striking bit of poetry: “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness” (115:1). Though God may richly bless his people, so that they appear to be glorious (115:12-15), the glory belongs to God and God alone.
Psalm 115:1 reminds me of an experience I had almost exactly twenty years ago. For several months, I had been talking with the search committee of Irvine Presbyterian Church about becoming their Senior Pastor. When the committee finally voted to choose me, I was thrilled. But I knew that their selection was not the end of the process. In a Presbyterian church, only the congregation can extend a call to a new pastor. So I had to be voted on by the membership of Irvine Presbyterian Church. This vote would happen at a congregational meeting on a Sunday, following worship services in which I was the preacher.
As you can imagine, I was very nervous as I got ready to preach my “try out” sermon. I wanted the people to like me, at least enough to vote for me. I wasn’t really afraid of not being elected by the congregation, but I was scared that I might receive a large number of negative votes, which would have been a blow to my confidence and self-image.
On the Saturday night before my big Sunday, I went to the church campus to pray. Nobody was there, so I could pray openly. As I walked around the church buildings, I began to ask God to help me, to bless my preaching, to open the people’s hearts, and to secure a positive vote. But the more I walked and prayed, the more I found my priorities shifting. At first I was praying for good things to happen to me. I was seeking my own glory, if you will. But the more I talked with the Lord, the more I began to desire his glory, not my own. I realized as never before that my calling to this church in Irvine was not about me. It had everything to do with God and his purposes for that fine church. Yes, I hoped to be blessed by God as the pastor of the church (and, indeed, I was blessed during my sixteen years there, far beyond anything I imagined on that night of prayer). But I found my heart yearning for God’s glory. I yearned for him to be lifted up in the Irvine church and through the church in the community. By the end of my time of prayer, I was praying along the lines of Psalm 115:1: “Not to me, but to you be the glory. Not to me, but to you!”
I can still become preoccupied with how people feel about me. When I’m a guest preacher, I often have to confess to the Lord that my gut instinct is to want most of all to be liked by the congregation. As I seek him and humble myself before him, God once again changes my heart, giving me a passion for his purpose and glory. He will do the same for you as you offer yourself to him.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: When have you felt a passion for God’s glory? How would seeking God’s glory make a difference in your daily life? In your work? In your family?
PRAYER: Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness. May you be glorified, Lord, in my work. May you be glorified in my family. May you be glorified in all of my relationships. May you be glorified in my earning and my spending. May you be glorified in my public life and my private life. May you be glorified in my church. May you be glorified in every bit of my life. Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness. Amen.
Tags: Business, Cash register, Internal Revenue Service, Jesus, Licensing, Microsoft, Money back guarantee, WinRefunds
To be honest, I wasn’t happy to be making another trip to the store. For the previous 4 weeks, my wife and I had been trying to get a refund for a bad refrigerator. As I spoke with the manager—again—it seemed that we were heading down another dead-end road. As we talked, I wondered if we would ever get our money back, but I tried to be gracious.
At one point the manager said, “By now, customers are usually yelling at me, but you’ve been so patient.” Then he said, “Let’s try something else.” He asked me some questions and punched some numbers into a cash register. After a short delay—and some stories about irate customers—the machine spit out a receipt showing a refund! Our appliance nightmare was over. “Thanks for being so good to work with,” he said as we parted ways.
While I think being nice when I didn’t feel nice helped in this process, getting refunds is not why we should show kindness to others. The real reason is that as Christians we are to reflect the light of Jesus (Eph. 5:8) on everyone—whether it’s an irate neighbor, a bumbling waiter, or a department store manager. Our speech and behavior are to be a positive witness (Eph. 4:29-32; Col. 4:6). Are you facing a conflict? Let Jesus’ light shine through.
Tags: Christ, God, Jacob, Moses
Change Occurs within Time but Is Not Caused by It
Saul the Persecutor became Paul the servant of God, but time did not make the change. Christ wrought the miracle, the same Christ who once changed water into wine. One spiritual experience followed another in fairly rapid succession until the violent Saul became a gentle, God-enamored soul ready to lay down his life for the faith he once hated. It should be obvious that time had no part in the making of the man of God. My purpose in writing this little piece is not to engage in an exercise in semantics but to alert my readers to the injury they may suffer from an unfounded confidence in time. Because a Moses and a Jacob lost the impulsive, headstrong sins of their youth and in their old age became gentle, mellow saints we tend to take it for granted that time wrought the transformation. But it is not so. God, not time, makes saints. Human nature is not fixed, and for this we should thank God day and night. We are still capable of change. We can become something other than what we are. By the power of the gospel the covetous man may become generous, the egotist lowly in his own eyes. The thief may learn to steal no more, the blasphemer to fill his mouth with praises unto God. But it is Christ who does it all. Time has nothing to do with it.