Enjoying Life

DSCN6961So often the posts on this blog tackle very serious matters.  Even life or death matters.  Spiritual matters that may well impact our eternities.

It is my calling from God to preach His Word, undiluted and in all its fullness and glory.  It’s serious business!

But for those who may only get their impressions of me from this blog, or even from my sermons, I want you to know I actually do enjoy life.  At least most days I do – ha ha!

God has blessed me beyond measure with the most amazing best friend and wife a man could ever want.  And to our union, God has gifted us with two simply wonderful daughters.  Most days, our home is filled with laughter and silliness.  Granted, like all sinners in need of Jesus, we have our “moments.”  But all in all I am very happy when I’m hanging with my girls!  Blessed.

Recently, my youngest daughter and I enjoyed an amazing day out turkey hunting.  Now, to be sure, the first 5 hours of that hunt were spent in a pop-up blind.  By 11 am it was getting hot and uncomfortable.  We had only seen a few hens, and no gobblers.  But just as we were packing up to leave, things got crazy in a hurry!

Long story short we heard a distant gobble, which set into motion a mad scramble for us to get set up in a tree line to intercept him and/or call him toward us.  The picture accompanying this blog entry shows the end result!

Blessed.  In the right place at the right time.  My daughter made an incredible shot on a trotting gobbler, and then exclaimed “Thank you Jesus!”  It was a back-slapping moment, until I realized the other tom was still just standing in the field confused.  So I went ahead and filled my tag too!

Fun, fun, fun!  Blessed.  Not everything in life is deadly serious (well, I suppose our hunt was deadly on these two toms, but you get my drift).  God has given us so many little pleasures, hasn’t He?  I have often said that so long as I have Jesus, every other good in this life is just icing on the cake.  But oh, how my Savior seems to just keep layering the icing on that cake!

So, dear Christian, take some time soon to enjoy some of that Divine icing.  Our God is so good, even on our worst day.  We, dear chosen ones of God, are blessed.  Let’s not neglect to praise the Lord even for the “little” graces He lavishes on us in this life.

I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor – is the the gift of God” (Eccl 3:12-13).

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Stephen Cox - Sweet!

Of Drafts, Bathrooms, the UFC and Feminism

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Recently 1.5 million people signed a boycott of Target when it became public knowledge that the retail chain’s bathroom policy is essentially “anything goes.”

I signed it.  I encouraged others to do likewise.  But is this over-reacting?  Is the right of a citizen to use whatever bathroom or locker room he or she feels like using really worth making such a fuss over?

Well, only if you believe women and children are worth protecting.  Only if you believe God created men to protect women and children at all costs.  Only if you believe absolute truth exists and allowing a person to live in some kind of “alternate reality” (i.e., a lie) is actually not a loving, kind and commendable thing to do.  Only if you believe relativism leads to utter chaos and lawlessness in a society.

So, yeah, count me in as one of those who thinks this is a war worth fighting!

Some of us weirdo Bible-believing, Christ-exalting preachers actually predicted this very kind of thing after the SCOTUS put themselves in the place of God and redefined marriage.  Once that floodgate was down, look out America!  We have not seen anything yet.

And so already we are seeing absurd “laws” passed in states allowing a man with male genitalia to freely expose himself to my daughters in a public restroom!  Sexual predators are notoriously crafty and are 98% male.  Are we actually insane enough to think this will in no way backfire?  And, the reverse is also true.  A woman with female genitalia can now walk in and watch me urinate, and expose herself to me and any other men in that locker room or restroom.  Do we really need PhD scientists to tell us this might not be wise?  Are we living in that much denial about basic human nature?

Already we are seeing Congress begin to push for forcing our daughters to register with the selective service.  I suspect if this ever passes, assuming they do not offer a “conscientious objector clause,” I and many other Christian men will find ourselves on the wrong side of the law.  They may need bigger jails, or they may need to be prepared to draft all us 40-something Dads who will go fight in our daughters’ places!  Funny, I just read Judges 4-5 with my daughters this morning where we noted God mocks Balak for being such a coward that he insisted a woman go into battle with him.  But this is where a misunderstanding of true “equality” lands us.

We have become a society that wildly celebrates women bashing one another’s faces to bloody bits.  I’m not even sure we should celebrate men doing this, much less make a cultural icon out of Ronda Rousy.  But I guess Ronda is old hat now, since she was defeated by “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holly Holm.  And her pastor Dad was in the ring with her celebrating her violent victory over a fellow bearer of God’s holy image.  If the church has so lost its way in the matter of true womanhood, America is hopeless.

And let’s not forget that Fallon Fox, a biological man who self-identifies as a woman, recently was allowed to enter the cage to fight a biological woman (who happened to be an outspoken lesbian) named Tamikka Brents.  In less than 3 minutes, Fox fractured Brents’ orbital, gave her multiple concussions, and probably ended her career as a fighter.  One blogger / commentator hit the nail on the head when he wrote, “On Saturday September 13, 2014 in a ‘cage’ in the Springfield, Illinois Convention Center, a crowd gathered to watch something that happens thousands of times a day worldwide: a man battered a woman” (https://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2014/09/18/fallon-fox-why-hormones-dont-make-a-woman/).

Turns out feminism just cannot seem to get the “man” out of men, no matter how hard it tries.  This is all a sickening project, America.  Please wake up from your relativistic slumber!  If science was supposed to save us from ourselves, it’s failing miserably!  Interesting, isn’t it, how we place so much faith in “science” in matters that are actually not even observable (such as the origins of life and age of the earth), and yet reject clear, observable science in other matters (such as biological maleness and femaleness).

God save us!  For only You can!  Help us point all people to the God-man, the Man of all men, Christ Jesus.  Jesus took the wrath reserved for us due to our insistence on being our own gods, due to our insistence on defining ourselves however we want.  That’s what happened on the cross for all whom God would call to Himself and who would therefore call out to Him for redeeming mercy!  Is there hope for men, women, boys, girls, even those who are totally confused about who and what they are?

Yes!  His name is Jesus.  In Him, women find their true identity as women, and men find their true identity as men.  Want to read some amazing stories of the life transforming power of Jesus, even among the LGBT community?  Check out Brooklyn Tabernacle.  (www.brooklyntabernacle.org).

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Unchained!

Unstoppable_Church

And he [Paul] stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered” (Acts 28:30-31).

Thus concludes the Book of Acts.

Yesterday I preached the final sermon in our 18 month journey through the amazing history book of the early church.  Our passage was Acts 28:17-31.  We saw Five themes in the passage that actually serve as an excellent summary of the whole Book.

  1. The power of prayer.
  2. True fellowship.
  3. Human response to the Gospel and God’s sovereignty in it.
  4. The primacy of preaching.
  5. Jesus is the Savior and Fulfillment of the Old Testament.

It is very tempting, if we’re not careful, to get caught up in the dynamic characters of the early church.  Peter and John.  Phillip.  And then there’s Paul.  The last fifteen chapters of Acts chronicle Paul’s missionary adventures.  And no doubt Paul was an amazing man of God.  But that’s just it – he was only amazing because of God!  It’s tempting to make too much of Peter or Paul.  It’s our natural inclination to read Acts as if Paul is the hero or main character.

That’s why we focused our attention yesterday upon the grand truth that It’s all God’s Show, and God’s Show must Go On!  

The Holy Spirit would not allow Luke to end the Book of Acts talking about Paul’s amazing life or martyrdom.  No!  It’s not about Paul.  Rather, it’s about the Kingdom of God and His Christ!  Oh, how we need to embrace this truth in our own lives.  Our culture programs us to be so very self-centered.  So me-driven.  Oh how we need heavy doses of the Bible’s perspective.  God help us center our lives on You!

The last word of the Greek text of Acts is akolutos.  Translated in the NASB “unhindered.”  I like “unchained!”

What is unchained?  Paul?  No!  Paul’s literally in chains at the end of Acts.  It’s the gospel of the kingdom that’s unchained.  It’s the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ that’s unhindered.  God’s Gospel cannot be stopped!  We called the whole sermon series in Acts “The Unstoppable Church.”  But that’s only true so long as the church stays true to the Gospel Message that Holy God saves and forgives sinners only by the righteous life, the substitutionary death and the powerful resurrection of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

May we be given grace to renounce our selves and turn from our sins and trust wholly in Jesus alone.  May God’s Gospel truly be unleashed among us.  May we truly be able to say with Martin Luther:

“Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also, the body they may kill, God’s truth abideth still, His kingdom is forever!”

The Book about the birth of the Church ends with its powerhouse Apostle in chains and the gospel unchained.

Think about it.

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Taking God At His Word

GodFree as an audiobook in April, you will want to pick this book up. The ebook or soft cover book are also available this month for a donation of any amount Here.

“There is no other book like the Bible. It reveals a different kind of wisdom, comes from a different source, and tells of a different love.”
–Kevin DeYoung

Have you ever wondered if the Bible is really able to help you with your most challenging problems? Have you struggled through difficulty or transition and desired wisdom and insight from the Lord?

Kevin DeYoung explores the sufficiency of the Bible. He encourages us to search its truth, assured that Scripture provides all that is needed to live our lives rightly and contently, and to equip us for every good work.

Taking God At His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me by Kevin DeYoung is an excellent book about why we trust the Bible. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it.  At CBC were always talking about the Bible. We can’t get enough of it and in this short book you get introduced to many of the reasons why. DeYoung’s writing is fresh, engaging and thought-provoking. This little book is a very readable introduction to Scripture’s teaching about Scripture.  John MacArthur said, “This is a brilliant, succinct, yet thorough study of the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, based on what Scripture says about itself. Clarity and passion are the distinguishing marks of Kevin DeYoung’s writing, and this may be his finest, most important work yet.” I heartily agree. Reading this book gave me even more hunger to read the Bible. It is well worth your time.

Here are some great quotes to give you an appetite for this read,

“The Word of God is more than enough to accomplish the work of God in the people of God.”

“You do not need another special revelation from God outside the Bible. You can listen to the voice of God every day. Christ still speaks, because the Spirit has already spoken. If you want to hear from God, go to the book that records only what he has said. Immerse yourself in the word of God. You will not find anything more sure.”

“The Scriptures are our spectacles (to use Calvin’s phrase), the lenses through which we see God, the world, and ourselves rightly.”

“No one who truly delights in God’s word will be indifferent to the disregarding of it.”

“The most effective means for bolstering our confidence in the Bible is to spend time in the Bible.”

“You can think too highly of your interpretations of Scripture, but you cannot think too highly of Scripture’s interpretation of itself. You can exaggerate your authority in handling the Scriptures, but you cannot exaggerate the Scriptures’ authority to handle you. You can use the word of God to come to wrong conclusions, but you cannot find any wrong conclusions in the word of God.”

“God’s Word is final. God’s Word is understandable. God’s Word is necessary. God’s Word is enough.”

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A Pure Prom?

Jenna Plausky,

Prom Night.

Those two words strike terror into many a Christian parent’s heart.  We all remember what prom nights meant for us (at least for those of us going to prom in the 80s and 90s).  Prom meant:

  • Ridiculously expensive meals.
  • Ridiculously expensive tuxedos and dresses.
  • Gobs of make-up and revealing dresses on young women everywhere.
  • Gawking young men.
  • Dancing too close and too long, and to sexually explicit lyrics.
  • Boys groping girls was common place during my school dances, and that didn’t change at prom.
  • All night parties, and even some overnight “dates” that were guaranteed to involve sex.

So, now you may better understand why I am anti-prom!  My wife and I determined by God’s grace to raise our daughters in more godly ways.  It’s why we chose homeschooling.  Academics had little to do with it.  Purity, God-centeredness and gospel-drivenness compelled our educational choice.  And Prom.  Well, it wasn’t part of the plan.

But Saturday night, I watched my oldest daughter dance for hours with some of her friends at a Prom.  One of the young women in our church organized a Prom for homeschooling families.  I must say I was skeptical.  But in the end, I saw young women dressed beautifully and modestly.  Few of them had gaudy amounts of make-up.  The young men wore trousers and button-up shirts and ties.  Girls danced with their friends who were girls, and some of the boys joined in the fun.  There was no slow-dancing allowed.  Adult chaperons / parents were abundant.  Teens went home with their parents that night.

While I am not naive enough to believe that there was no lust going on in the hearts of those teens, I do know that the conditions to act on that lust or to feed that lust were simply not present.  Not permitted.

“Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to gratify its lusts” (Rom 13:14).

Now, some Christians would call me square.  Too conservative.  Too cautious.  Over-bearing.  Well, you don’t know the half of it!  I’m so weird that I don’t even believe in slow-dancing with my teen daughter.  I do not plan to have a “Dad-Daughter” dance at her wedding.  First because she now has been given to the headship of another man.  He gets the dance for the rest of his life now.  But second because I do not slow dance with any woman other than my wife!  I am not romantic with my teen daughter.  Daddy-daughter dances with elementary-aged kids are one thing, but expecting Dads to act romantic toward their daughters who are young women is, in my thinking, weird.

I’m not called to be romantic with anyone other than my wife.  And the very best way I can teach my daughters what real romance looks like is to give it to their mother lavishly!  They need to see romance only in the context of the covenant of marriage.  That’s where God designed it to be.

“I want you to swear, O daughters of Jerusalem, do not arouse or awaken love until it pleases” (Song of Songs 8:4).  

You don’t have to agree with my every whim or perspective here.  But it is worth considering how best we can model and instruct our children in true love and romance.  We must create circumstances, as much as it is in our power to do so, that allow our children to thrive in purity and to starve out that lust beast within.  And above all, we must point them to the Savior who took the punishment from God we earn with our every lustful thought.  It wasn’t just for our physical acts of sex outside marriage that Jesus died.  He died for our sin-sick hearts and minds that far too often rage with lust (Matt 5:27-30).

In the end, it’s not a dance with me or any other man that I want my daughters to most long for.  My prayer, my great desire, is that they would yearn for the eternal love of the Perfect Bridegroom.  His name is Jesus.  And He is more beautiful even than a home school Prom done well.

 

 

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