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God Is Not Dead

December 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Friedrich Nietzsche first said that “God is dead” in the late 19th century. In 1966, Time magazine published an article chronicling the “death of God” theology of the 1960s. In the fifty years since, our culture has consistently lived out its belief that God is dead—not that He ever really lived, in their collective mind, but that His reality is not even worth debating anymore. For the Christless masses, God is dead because God is irrelevant. The Cross does no good, such people claim, because there is still evil in this world. The concept of “already but not yet” is lost on those who claim that “God is dead.”

The American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow could have easily argued that “God is dead” because of the death of his wife Frances followed closely behind by the serious injury of his son on a Civil War battlefield. In his grief, though, Longfellow rose above his sorrows and penned the beloved hymn, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Longfellow wrote:

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Though Longfellow could have lashed out at God and abandoned Christ, Longfellow rose above that to admit, “God is not dead, nor doth he sleep.” As Spurgeon puts it, “When you cannot trace God’s hand, you can trust His heart.” This Christmas, may we remember that our Lord Jesus Christ, God born Man, still lives today. In our despair, when all we see is the earth’s hate, may we remember that “God is not dead, nor doth he sleep. The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good will to men.”

Below is Casting Crowns’ arrangement of this glorious, comforting hymn.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Advent: A Time for Joy

December 14, 2010 Leave a comment

We at Calvary Baptist Church are celebrating the Advent in the weeks leading up to Christmas Day. This past Sunday was the third Sunday in Advent, Gaudete Sunday, the Sunday of Rejoicing. Bro. Blake invited me to preach the sermon that morning, and he gave me John the Baptist as my subject from Luke 3:1-20. You can listen to that sermon in its entirety here. Below is an outline of this past Sunday’s sermon:

  1. Luke 3:1-6. Contextually, the gospel comes at the time when Israel is under Roman rule.
  2. Luke 3:7-9. Before we hear the good news of the gospel, we must first hear the bad news about our sin and the punishment we deserve—the punishment we will receive if we remain apart from Christ.
  3. Luke 3:8a, 10-14. The response to the gospel is to repent and to then “bear fruits in keeping with repentance.” The three fruits that John the Baptist mentions are generosity, honesty, and contentment.
  4. Luke 3:15-16a. The gospel according to John the Baptist is not about him; it is about Jesus Christ.
  5. Luke 3:16b-17. Jesus Christ is both Savior and Judge. He both saves people and casts people into hell.
  6. Luke 3:18-20. The gospel will cost us our lives, if not physically, then spiritually, in that we must die to sin and live to God.

How will you respond to the gospel?

  • “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance”
  • Give generously
  • Be honest
  • “Be content with your wages”
  • Witness boldly for Christ (Matthew 10:24-39)
  • Count the cost of following Christ if you do not yet know him (Luke 14:26-33)
  • “Repent and believe in the gospel” for the first time and thus be saved (Mark 1:15)

May everyone continue having a blessed Christmas season as we celebrate the fact that our Savior came to this earth to live a perfect life, die in our place, and be raised for our justification so that we would be saved from our sins!

The Importance of Investing in Your Children’s (Daughters’) Lives

December 10, 2010 1 comment

I first heard this song on the radio shortly before Father’s Day, but Sanctus Real’s song, “Lead Me,” captivated me around the same time, and I forgot about this song. I heard this song again a couple of months ago on the radio and absolutely loved it and its message. This Wednesday, I heard it on the radio, and then they told me its title and songwriter/singer! Below is “Like That” by Eric Greene. He’s the Executive Music and Worship Director at The Summit Church of Birmingham in Trussville, AL.

 

Did you notice that last rendition of the chorus?

Won’t you pray with her?
Daddy, please stay with her,
And be there to hold her close when she’s afraid.
And 25 years from now, she will remember just how
It feels to know that her daddy loves her like that.
It means everything for you, Dad, to love her like that.

Eric Greene gets his lyrics from Scripture. God through Solomon in Proverbs 22:6 commands and promises: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” In Deuteronomy 6:6-7, God commands through Moses: “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” In other words, parents are to raise their children in the Lord continually. Or, as Paul says in Ephesians 6:3, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Parents, Church is a wonderful thing. Sermons are wonderful things. Both of these are commanded and ordained in Scripture, but God doesn’t want half-hearted, hypocritical obedience. The time we spend in church each week maybe amounts to 1/28th of our weekly time, and that is a very generous estimate of the time we spend singing worship songs and listening to sermons. Let me ask you: do you really think that giving God 1/28th of our time will lead to lives of godliness? No. Could God use that? Yes. But as he uses it, that time with him would by necessity increase! As many have said before me, “God loves us enough to take us as we are, but he loves us too much to leave us as we are.” God changes us. God conforms us to the image of his Son if we are truly his (Romans 8:29). Parents, God has ordained that you be the primary instrument of his grace to your children. Your children are your “heritage from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3).

Parents, when you stand before God and give an account of your life, what will your account look like regarding your children? Will our Lord say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21)? Or will you only be able to say, “I’ve wasted it. I’ve wasted it”?

As John Piper says, “Don’t waste your life.” I’m telling you, Don’t waste your children. Your salvation does not guarantee theirs. But God will use your faithfulness in discipling them in order to draw them to himself. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Or as Eric Greene sings: “25 years from now, she will remember just how it feels to know that her daddy loves her like that.”

Dads, it really does mean everything for you to love your children enough to pray with them, to stay with them, to hold them close when they’re afraid. You can never be perfect in this life, as the heavenly Father is perfect; but God calls you to be holy, even as he is holy. Show your kids the Father’s love. Pray with them, stay with them, be there for them. Love your children enough to invest in their life.

On just a personal note as an illustration, some of my fondest childhood memories are of going to play golf with my dad. He’s invested in my life (so has Mom, but this post is about fathers, primarily). He’s prayed with me before; he’s stayed with me in sicknesses and literally held me as I’ve gone through some particularly hard physical ailments (debilitating headaches and wisdom teeth surgery in particular, both this past spring). And that means the world to me. God shows us himself through his Word, the Bible … but dads, he’ll also show himself to your daughters—and your sons, as I can affirm—if you will show them his love by your actions. It means everything for you to invest in your children’s (daughters’) lives.

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