From my sermon on childrearing this past Sunday:

And then we see it in Psalm 78. There the Psalmist wrote: “1 Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! 2 I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, 3 things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. 4 We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation [So, one part of parenting is that we are to open our mouths and tell things to our children; it’s not just provide them with clothes and food and education; it’s not just take them fishing or to the playground; it’s not just giving them memorable birthdays; it’s opening your mouth and telling them things; and what we tell them is more than “brush your teeth” or “early to bed, early to rise, makes one healthy, wealthy, and wise” or “make your bed” or “Did you get your homework done?” or even “I love you” or … we open our mouths and tell them of] the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. [We tell them of his attributes, we tell them he made the universe by speaking, we tell them he appeared in a bush as a fire without burning the bush, we tell them his name is ‘I am’ – that he always has existed and depends on no one for his existence and is life in himself, we tell them he made the sun stand still, we tell them he gave barren Sarah a child, we tell them he parted a sea for his people to cross over, we tell them he rescued his people from bondage and he can still do that, we tell them he used a little boy to slay a giant, and we tell them he forgave that boy when he became a king of his adulterous murderous ways, we tell them he is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, we tell them he by no means … we tell them he killed Uzzah for touching the ark and the sons of Eli for bringing a strange offering to him, we tell them he knows all things, upholds all things, gives life to all things, owns all things, sees all things, that he burns with love for his people and anger toward the wicked, that he has mercy on whom he will have mercy and compassion on whom he will have compassion, that he sent his only begotten Son to die on the cross for their sins and that their sins are many and they need a Savior – that’s what we tell them – are you telling your children the glorious deeds of the Lord? SS teachers are you telling your children the glorious deeds of the Lord? And are you telling them with ‘piercing’ conviction?] 5 He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, [That’s the Ten Commandments and all the other laws that when with them.] which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, [Now, there’s the command to teach God’s testimony (a story, a testimony – think of a testimony in a courtroom or a church service – it’s a story about what happened) – we teach them what happened and will happen, and we do so that they will put their hope in God; look at that phrase – what do you need hope for? Hope is needed when you need help, when things are tough, when things look bleak – so what do we want our kids to put their hope in when they are successful or when they are failures? When the cancer comes or when a big payday comes? When they make the winning shot or when they miss the winning free throws? When they ace the test or when they fail it miserably? When they are feeling strong or dying of disease? We want their hope to be in God. All other saviors are false and will leave us hopeless. Parents what do you think you are teaching your children to put their hope in on a daily basis?] 6 that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, 7 so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; 8 and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.”


what’s your goal?

From yesterday’s sermon:

Earlier I mentioned that you may have not asked the question, “What is my goal in raising kids? What kind of child am I trying to make?” You may have not thought about it (which would be a good indicator that you probably aren’t doing well with this – look, he who aims at nothing hits it every time – which means if you are not intentional about something, you will not accomplish it, including raising godly offspring). But here’s the thing: no matter how you answer that question, whether it’s with silence or a detailed program, you have a goal – it may be unstated or it may be written on every wall in your house – you may have written a song about it or it’s just assumed. But you have a goal for your kids and all anyone has to do is just see what you do with your kids.

Your life tells us what your goal is. What do your conversations with them sound like? What are you teaching them? Where are you hauling them all over God’s earth and what they doing when they get there? When you talk to them what do you talk about? Or forget for a moment your direct interaction with them, when you pray for them, what shapes your prayers? What do you pray about? What are you asking God for when it comes to them? When you think about investing in their future what is the plan? When you worry about them, what worries you the most about them? What keeps you up at night regarding your children? When you talk about your kids with other people, what is the topic of conversation?

Here’s the thing, I would imagine most of you here would agree with me that the goal of childrearing is to raise a disciple of Christ, to raise Jesus-lovers. I can’t imagine anyone saying, “No preacher, I am a follower of Jesus, but my chief goal is not that they follow Jesus, but rather what I want most for my kids is that they would make lots of money … or that they would be famous … or that they would discover the cure for cancer.” I don’t think anyone here would disagree with what I am saying and what the clear teaching of the Bible is on this. But the obvious question is does your life and all that you are doing match the biblical goal?

What is the all-consuming vision for your children that compels you and shapes your plans and desires for your kids? The point is that it needs to be bigger and better than happiness and affluence, wealth and health, nice cars and nice houses and nice education and nice & close to me, … Here’s what I know. We live in a world that compels us to live for the here and now, that compels us to live for temporary things, that exalts athletic prowess, academic achievement, good looks, popularity, financial success, comfortability, convenience, respectability [none of which are necessarily wrong and none of which are wrong to desire for your kids – please hear that], but if we are not careful we lose sight of what we are living for, our vision is easily clouded, and by extension the vision God calls us to have for our kids is co-opted by a less compelling vision; and beloved it is less compelling [winning a Nobel Prize is less compelling than living for Jesus in the backwoods of KY; being a prominent scientist is less compelling than living for Jesus in a place where no one knows your name; being at peace and happy is less compelling than finding peace and joy in Christ].

From my sermon on Responding to Gay Marriage:

Here’s the gospel message, as the church has understood it for thousands of years. There is one, true God, who is a perfect, intelligent being, good, wise, just, holy, loving, etc. He created man to bear his image and hold dominion over all the earth for the glory of God and for the good of the world. But man fell and in so doing corrupted the earth as he himself is corrupted. We are now born with fallen desires. But God, rather than casting off mankind, sent his only Son to live the life we could not live and pay the penalty we could not pay by dying on the cross and rising again. He now invites us to receive eternal life, God’s life in us, by turning from our sin and self (self-rule) and trusting in Christ for the cleansing of our sins. If we will do that we shall be declared righteous and thus be saved. Now, if the gospel message includes that response, that to be saved from your sins, you must repent or turn from your sin and self and trust in Christ to be your Savior – If the right response is like the apostles preached in Acts 3:19 “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,” [note that without turning from sin there is no forgiveness; it’s repent and be forgiven; Peter never says, “Just believe these things and God will forgive you.] And if repentance means what Paul preached in Acts 26:20, that we should “repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.” If repentance means what John the Baptist said was true, “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance.” [Luke 3:8] If Jesus was serious with this statement: And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. [Luke 9:23] If such a denial looks like what Paul said in Php 3:7-9 “7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.” If following Jesus means I have to give up my sin and my life and whatever I might treasure more than Christ, which might mean my desire to have sex with whomever I want to, then to affirm gay marriage is to put the gospel message at risk.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “When Christ bids a man come, he bids him come and die.” That’s what Jesus meant when he said in Luke 14:33, “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” The call to follow Jesus is the call to take the former self (with all his sinful desires and actions and the practice of being our own boss) and put him to death so that a new person can live. Yet that call to give up all is sweetened by this promise from Jesus who said in no uncertain terms in Mark 10 that whatever we give up to follow Jesus he will replace with something better 100 times over.

Let me be very direct with you about this. One problem we have in the modern church is that when we preach to gay people that they must be willing to give up their desire to practice homosexuality, that’s it going to cost them their orientation, they don’t in turn look at us and see us giving up near what they have to give up in order to follow Jesus. Don’t be surprised to hear them say: “I have to give up my identity or my orientation to follow Jesus. Do you see what that costs me? What has it cost you to follow Jesus?” And, listen, do you have an answer? What would you say? Can you point to something in your life and say, “This is the price I pay to follow Jesus.” If you can, you might need to do something costly for Jesus in order to prove not only to others that you are a follower of Christ but to prove it to yourself.

From my sermon yesterday:

But I would have you look at 1 Cor 6:9-11 once more. 1 Cor 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Look at that list. Look at those words – “shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” I can’t imagine harder words than those. But do you know what Paul wrote next: 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. “And such were some of you.” I can’t imagine sweeter words than those. Look, I’m sure all of us here have committed sins on that list at one time or another. I’ve been an idolater. I’ve been greedy. I’ve lusted in my heart. But the gospel tells me that was what I was, not what I am now. Once those sins were my identity. Not now. Once those sins were my life. Not now. It’s not that I don’t ever do those things but they aren’t who I am.

And who am I? I am a washed, sanctified, justified sinner and that’s a world of difference than just being a sinner. I’m in Christ and God does not recognize me as those things I formerly were, he recognizes me by his own son. Why? Because Jesus’ blood covers my sin and his righteousness covers my sin. I can imagine that some of you have sins in your past, perhaps sexual sins, and you still feel so dirty and guilty, but you are trusting in Christ … these are God’s Word’s to you: “And such WERE some of you” … not are. Live in the freedom that Jesus has won for you. You have been washed and you are clean. Live like it.

Friends, this is the gospel of Jesus Christ and it is a trustworthy saying, that Jesus came into this world to save sinners of whom we are the foremost. There is not one person here who is not a sinner, of whom it cannot be said that the wages for their sin is eternal death, God’s judgment. But the gift of God is eternal life for all who will repent and believe. So, the call to turn from your sin, whether gay or straight, is not hate or hate speech but love … love compels you to turn from your sin (whatever sin that is) and come to Christ, just as love would compel someone not to make a decision that would ruin their financial future or to step away from a dangerous pit or to marry someone that will destroy their lives. If you ARE one of those persons, lost in your sin, living in your sin, not trusting in Christ, holding on to your sin and not onto Jesus, then why not be moved from ARE to WERE. Why not be washed today? Why not ask Jesus to cleanse you by his precious blood?

From my sermon on Ephesians 5:22-33:

Romance and falling in love is a wonderful and beautiful thing. But friends, re-falling in love with your spouse, over and over, after seasons of pain or hurt or exhaustion, after bodies decaying, after wounding each other, after disappointing each other, after trial upon trial, after the newness has long wore off, after loads and loads of diapers, after miles going to and from ball games, is a profoundly more beautiful thing. Listen, when you are a young with flawless skin and fit bodies and no kids and no bills it’s pretty easy to fall in love. It’s really easy. It’s simple to fall in love. That’s why Hollywood makes so many movies about it and writes so many songs about it. But staying in love and remaining with each other after being disappointed or sinned against by the same person so often, that’s what Hollywood should make movies about … but they don’t generally.

Here’s an insightful and disturbing article.

From my sermon yesterday on Luke 12:31-34 …

Look, Jesus is not against investing. He’s against bad investing.

So, an Armani-suited, rolex-wearing, slick-haired man comes up to you and says, “I have an investment opportunity for you. Listen to this. Take all you have and I’ll invest it for you and you will lose every penny of it … and your house … and your car … and your clothes … and your beauty. All of it.” Now the Bible says this: “16 Be not afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house increases. 17 For when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him.” (Psalm 49:16-17)

And another man dressed in rags with bleeding hands and a bleeding side with a crown of thorns comes up to you and says, “I have an investment opportunity for you. Give me all you have and I’ll invest it for you and you will receive 100 times back what you gave me. 100 Times.” Now the Bible says this: “29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30)

Now, which one of those men do we believe?

Kingdom Pen magazine

Encouraging teens to write well, write purposefully and to always write for Christ.

Publican's Progress

musings and meditations from an ordinary husband, father, and pastor seeking to follow Christ