I invite you to look at--
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Sunday, August 14, 2011
[This essay of mine was published in the Allentown Morning Call on Friday, August 12, 2011.]
Monday, August 8, 2011
Monday, August 1, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
Psalm 95 connects two ideas that might not seem to fit together, worship and rest. How do they fit together? In the first place, only those who worship the Lord will enter into His rest. That is the primary thrust of Psalm 95. In the second place, our worship is not supposed to be a chore. It is part of our rest. The popular understanding of corporate, public worship has changed greatly in the past few decades.
2. Then we went through a phase that regarded worship as a performance on our part for God. We were giving God pleasure by our worship. Worship was our work, our effort, our performance, and God was the audience.
3. Now, I suspect that many people regard worship as a feeling produced in themselves, primarily by the music. For that reason, the musical portion of the service has increased dramatically in most churches because music stimulates feelings, and worship is all about feelings. First, we worship; then we listen to the sermon. The musical act of worship elevates our feelings. The sermon gives us practical advice. So the whole service is about us. That is the modern idea; even when people say it is not about us, it really is.
Worship is not just a feeling or simply a time of instruction. Worship is a kind of dialog or conversation in which we hear the word of God, and we respond to God with repentance, trust, praise and the offering of ourselves and our substance. If we are resting in Christ, the conversation is not a stressful, draining labor, but a renewing of the soul in the presence of Him who is our life.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Monday, May 16, 2011
Monday, May 2, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
The tsunami that wreaked havoc in Japan on March 11 raised the same question that every other natural disaster brings to the fore: Where was God? People want an answer in twenty-five words or less. God’s answer encompasses the entire Bible from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22, so any summary is necessarily something of a distortion. Nevertheless, I will try to point out a few biblical truths that are sometimes left out of the discussion. (I explore these concepts more fully in chapter 3 of The Beauty of God for a Broken World -- click for a summary of the book.)
1. When God finished creating the earth and its inhabitants, He pronounced the result “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Nevertheless, the creation was not yet in its final state, for God told Adam and Eve to “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28). The word translated “subdue” means to subdue by force. God placed the first couple in a perfect garden, but the world outside was wild. Men and women were given the task of taming the wildness, not only for their benefit, but for the benefit of the whole creation.
2. Hebrews 2:8, quoting from Psalm eight’s description of man, says, “You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” Then in a massive understatement the verse continues, “But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.” Because of sin, Adam and Eve and their posterity were not able to fulfill the divine command of Genesis 1:28. As God said to the man after the fall,
Cursed is the ground because of you;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you.
3. “The whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth,” but when Christ returns “the creation itself will be set free from its slavery corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21-22). So the final redemption of lost men and women will result in the transformation of the world. The creation will become all that it was meant to be.
4. In this present age earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis and droughts bring much misery and destruction. Both the good and the evil suffer such things, and no one is entitled to point a finger and say, “They must have been worse sinners than others” (Luke 13:1-5). We suffer individually and corporately because sin has alienated us from God, and God’s curse has prevented us from exercising benevolent dominion over the earth.
5. For the most part, scientists are able to describe the physical mechanism behind natural disasters. In the case of the Japanese tsunami, the Pacific plate of the earth’s crust is gradually moving under the plate beneath northern Honshu. When the stresses became great enough, the earth fractured and the sea floor rose by several meters.
6. The physical mechanism, however, is only part of the explanation. Behind everything that happens is the concurring power of God, “who works all things after the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11). God does not set aside the laws that He has built into His world (at least, not very often), but He works in and through them. He is the judge of all the earth, and if He chooses to settle accounts with human beings one by one or in larger numbers, that is His prerogative.
7. While we are rightly disturbed in mind and heart by the massive devastation of March 11, the Bible, with full awareness of such disasters nevertheless proclaims that God’s mercy is greater than His judgment (Exodus 34:6-7). That mercy is available to all who will repent and trust in His crucified, risen Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:4-9).