Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The B-I-B-L-E

Article:  The B-I-B-L-E

“The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me.  I stand alone on the word of God, the B-I-B-L-E.”  So goes the words of a popular children’s Sunday school song.  Can you remember singing it in class or at the Sunday school program?  It is a simple song, with a profound meaning that we hope will settle deep in the hearts of our children- reliance upon the word of God, and trust in the God of the word.

In Romans chapter one the Bible tells us that there are crucial aspects of God that may be known through an understanding of His creation, namely His eternal power and divine nature.  These aspects are demonstrated in creation and in the human conscience.  Through the creation we can see God’s power, creativity, ingenuity, design, and precision, while the conscience convinces us that there is a difference between right and wrong.  Not only does the conscience give us an inward nod of approval when we do what is right, but it also brings conviction when we do things that are contrary to the God who made us.

While the creation and conscience speak loud and clear about the existence and authority of God, there is much about Him that we would not know if it were not for His word, the Bible.  The Bible is composed of 66 books, written by 40 authors, over a period of a couple thousand years, using three languages.  All of its histories, poetry, wisdom sayings, and prophecies point to one singular theme.  They point to the coming of God’s Son, Jesus the Messiah, to this earth to love, teach, and die for the sins of the world.

In Christ we see the image of God in human flesh, the word of God spoken to us, the love of God expressed on the cross, and the forgiveness of God guaranteed in an empty tomb.  In prophecy, we see a God who can see and interact with the entire scope of human history, in the Law we learn of a God who has standards.  The Bible’s histories show us how God has worked among His people, and in Biblical poetry, we see the heart-aching beauty of a God who knows and cares about every facet of our existence.

I don’t know if you have ever heard of the “Pledge of Allegiance to the Bible”, but sometimes kids learn it when they go to Bible camp or vacation Bible school.  Its words summarize a heart of gratitude to God for His word, and a devotion to its study.  It goes like this:  “I pledge allegiance to the Bible, God’s holy word.  I will make it a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path, and I will hide its words in my heart, that I might not sin against God.”  Let me encourage you to take some time this week to spend a little time with God in His word.

Northwood Community Bible Church celebrates thirty years of ministry this August.  We are grateful to God for the many opportunities He has given us to worship and serve Him, and to minister to the people of our community and surrounding areas.  Have a blessed summer, and may God draw you ever closer to Him.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

At Graduation

Dear Sons and Daughters,

Graduation is now near.  We are proud of you, and the way you have grown over the years.  We are impressed with your accomplishments and aspirations, and we are anxiously looking forward to hearing of your success in the next phase of your lives.  We are welcoming you into a world that needs your help, your creativity, your ingenuity and your care.

I am sure you are going to hear a lot of good advice in the coming weeks- advice about careers, and wise choices, college and family.  Through all of your upcoming adventures, may I suggest that you are going to need a solid foundation to build your life upon, especially in challenging times.  Consider the following words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 3...

"... no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.”

God has laid a foundation of grace, upon which we live and move and build our lives.  That foundation is the love of God, expressed through Jesus Christ.  It is upon that foundation that we build in order to bless others and glorify God.  Let me urge you to present yourselves as a living gift to God.  Don’t be conformed to the rest of the world, rather be transformed and let God renew your mind so that you may do His will and allow Him to love others through you.

The world that you are entering is experiencing a great deal of confusion and chaos right now.  Politically, socially, morally, and financially, there are many who find their feet planted firmly in mid-air.  There is an old saying worth noting: “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything”.  Dedicate yourself to a good work ethic, seek to bless your family and community, make the most of the incredible gift of life that God has given you.  And most important, allow all of these things to draw you closer to the God who gave them to you- the God who calls to you, “Come, follow me…”

There is a big beautiful world out there.  Come and make the most of it with us!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Nearsightedness



When I was a boy, I used to ride my bicycle all over the place. A whole group of kids from my neighborhood would range across our end of town and beyond to find adventure and fun. I had a little trouble with my bicycle from time to time, as the leg of my pants would often get caught in the chain. Since I was so small, I usually ended up on the pavement scraped and mad at my “stupid bike”.

One day, I rode a few blocks from my house to the park, all by myself. I had a plan, I would turn my legs out from the pedals as they turned in order to avoid the pant-leg pinch. I made it to the park and played, and was riding back home, when I began to think of how awesome my plan was working! I looked down to watch how I was able to avoid the grasp of the bike chain, and I watched in amazement until I slammed into the back of a parked car!

Peter talks about building the wall of Christian character, maturing in the faith by increasing in knowledge, virtue, self-control, steadfastness, brotherly love, and more (2 Peter 1:5-8). He says that if those qualities are present and increasing in our lives we will avoid being ineffective and unfruitful in our knowledge of Jesus Christ. Conversely, he says if we lack these qualities, it’s like we are so near-sighted that we are blind.

Spiritually speaking, when we get our eyes focused on the temporary matters of this passing world instead of the weightier matters of eternity, when we allow fear and doubt to rule in our minds, when we have our heads turned to mourn the sorrows of the past so that we cannot see the beauty that lies before us, we are functionally near sighted or even blind to the blessings God wants to bring to our lives. We become convinced that the demands of the here and now are all there is to think about, and we forget that God is calling shaping us for a much bigger purpose than we can even imagine.

Let us fix our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, and faithfully press on toward the goal of His high calling.



Tuesday, January 24, 2017

God's Temple

Article:  God’s Temple


"The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything." (Acts 17:24).

God does not live in temples made with human hands.  This is a surprising and profound statement when you consider that so much of the world has always believed and functioned as though the only way to be close to God or to hear from Him was to meet him in some holy place.  All over the world, and throughout history, humanity has sought to reach out to God and hear from him in churches, temples, high-mountain caverns, desert shrines, and all manner of sacred spaces.  The Bible, however, draws a distinct line in the sand when it regards the habitation of the Most High.

In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, the apostle Paul writes concerning a gift that God has given humanity- namely their physical bodies.  He writes to assure them of the sacred importance God places on the stewardship of our bodies.  This stewardship is primarily an act of worship to God.  He writes, “…do you not know that you body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?  You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.  So glorify God in your body.”  God did not only desire to dwell among men, He also desired to dwell within them in a relation of intimacy and fellowship.  That close relationship came at a high price, though.

You see, humanity is separated from God because of the sinful nature of our hearts.  There really is nothing we can do to bridge the gap between ourselves and God because our efforts fall short.  But God was able to reach down to mankind when He took on flesh and died to pay the penalty for our sins.  That’s what scripture means when it says we were bought with a price…that price was the life of Jesus Christ.  It is with an attitude of gratefulness and devotion that we respond to him in devotion for all that He has done.

Romans 12:1 instructs us to present our bodies to God as a “living sacrifice”, which is our reasonable act of worship.  When we devote our time and talents to the work of God, we are worshiping Him with the "living sacrifice" of our lives.  When we intentionally combat sinful habits and attitudes in our lives, we are worshiping Him with a “living sacrifice”.  When we simply acknowledge God and His lordship over our every day, we worship God with a “living sacrifice”.  We are invited by God to be transformed by His Spirit and made clean from the stains of sin and past brokenness.

God does not need anything from humankind.  He is God.  And yet, He has chosen to make His dwelling place, not just in some distant heaven, but here on earth within the hearts of His people.  He does this to reveal Himself to His people, and to show the amazing love He has for us.  Thanks be to God for this unspeakable gift!












Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Don't Waste Your Fear

Article:  Don’t Waste Your Fear

In my last article I shared with you some experiences that King David and the Apostle Paul had in dealing with fear and frustration.  Today I would like to continue the theme and encourage you not to waste your fear.  “Waste my fear?  I don’t even want to be afraid in the first place…how can I waste fear?”

First let me acknowledge the physical and emotional reality of fear.  Fear is a natural emotional response that human beings have toward a perceived threat.  It sharpens our minds and quickens our bodies to either fight the threat or flee from it.  However, overwhelming fear can also paralyze a person by causing them to retreat and emotionally implode.

You may have noticed in the Bible that it says many times, “Do not be afraid”.  In fact, that phrase shows up 33 times in the New Testament alone.  God isn’t being unreasonable when he tells us not to do something that seems to come so naturally, I believe he tells us not to be afraid for a reason…it’s because He is God, He cares for us, and He is there for us.  In other words, we shouldn’t dwell in fear, but rather use it as an opportunity to draw closer to Him.  Fear can lead us away from trusting in God when we let it take over and consume our thinking, but it can also drive us in a positive direction toward God when we ask Him for help amidst our dark times.

I would like you to consider the following ways in which fear might drive us to a closer relationship to God:

1.  Fear humbles us and drives us to our knees in prayer.  It takes humility to admit that our situations are above our heads and we need help from the Lord.  When we cry out to Him, He hears our prayer and is faithful to answer.  Psalm 34:15 says, "The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry.”  It has been said that there is no higher place than to be on your knees before the throne of God in prayer.

2.  Fear drives us toward fellowship with friends, family and other believers as we search for answers and help in our distress.  Hebrews 10:24-25 shows us a great example:  "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”  We network together as a family in order to encourage, instruct and keep one another going.

3.  Fear drives us toward the Word of God.  Such sweet words of wisdom and courage can be found in the Bible.  Millions turn to its pages every day for guidance, reassurance and blessing.  Finding God in the pages of His word tells us that He has not let us go, and that He cares for us.

Even though difficult times seem to tear us down and bring darkness to an otherwise beautiful life, God stands ready to hear and respond to the cry of our hearts.  Don’t waste your fear, allow it to drive you closer to the Lord and to those who love you.  Let it bring you to a greater dependence and trust in who God is and what He has done for us.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Firm Foundation

Article:  Firm Foundation


“Fear thou not, for I am with thee, be not dismayed, for I am thy God…”  Isaiah 41:10

Fear is a silent and deadly killer.  It may not bring immediate destruction to the body, but fear kills the inner man by crushing dreams, stifling happiness, and by persistently pushing the mind into a dark corner that is filled with unknowns.  Fear is used as a tool of the enemy of mankind to induce us to retreat from the great adventures of life, and to take our eyes off of the God of light and peace that desires that we should find our satisfaction in Him.

Psalm 42 is a masterful song, penned by David, who had endured much at the hands of those who hated him so much that they sought to end his life.  They pursued his destruction with all of their might, but David knew he could find hope in God- he knew that nothing would come against him except that which God allowed.  In this psalm, its almost as if you can actually hear him pacing across the floor, on one hand expressing his angst, and on the other hand reminding himself of God’s promises.  He asks himself, “Why are you downcast, oh my soul; why so disturbed within me?  Hope in God, for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”

When the apostle Paul was concerned with a physical ailment that plagued his life, he asked God many times to heal him and take away the weakness.  Perhaps you can identify with Paul’s desire to be rid of a weakness, fear, ailment, or other issue.  Hear what God said to Paul, and what He says to you and I when we struggle with our weakness, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Paul responds by saying, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Corinthians 12:9).  Not only did Paul decide to hope in God like David did, he goes a step further and builds his confidence in the fact that he is weak and God is strong!  Talk about turning the tables on weakness!

The hymn, “How Firm a Foundation” is a marvelous declaration of God’s provision of hope amidst the clamor and fear of our world.  Verse two says this:
“Fear not, I am with thee- O be not dismayed, 
for I am thy God, Will still give thee aid; 
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, 
upheld by my gracious, omnipotent hand”

For this reason we can hope in God, fear can be put in its place and put to its proper use.  Fear, loss, confusion and trial all have a place in bringing us to our knees so that we can finally look up to the God who loves us and seeks our benefit by providing himself as our hope.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Fine Line

I am not calling for a boycott!  No I’m not calling for a boycott, nor am I decrying the “soulless" state of American big business.  But I do have to tell you a story that I think illustrates a telling sign of the way our culture is gently closing its eyes to reality.

I was on my way to visit someone in the hospital, and I was concerned because I didn’t know if I would ever be able to see this person again after their recovery.  I wanted to leave something with them that could give them true help and comfort in their difficult season of life.  So, I stopped by a “big-box” store in town and went to the book section to see if I could find a gift Bible.  

I found the section I was looking for, and even found a set of shelves marked “best-sellers”.  Try as I might, I was not able to find a Bible anywhere on the shelves of the store—anywhere.  Finally, deciding to break manly tradition, I decided to ask for help from one of the store’s associates.  “Do you have any Bibles in the store?” I asked.  With a shrug, the the store’s employee told me they did not carry Bibles anymore.  She cautiously informed me that they had to “watch out for that fine line…”  What?  What fine line?

I am certain that she was referring to the current tensions in political and religious life in America.  And I am sure that she was doubtful of her own company’s decision not to carry such a significant work of literature, but I was looking in the Best Sellers section for a book that is clearly the best selling book of all time.  There is no thin line between the Bible and other books in print.  The line, in fact, is quite thick!

A December 2012 "Business Insider” article written by Jennifer Polland  cites a startling statistic.  She quotes writer, James Chapman, who gathered a list of the most read books based on book sales over just the past 50 years.  The Bible checks in at an incredible 3.9 billion copies sold in the last 50 years, with the second best seller, “Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung” coming in at 820 million.  That’s a difference of over 3 billion books!  Let me put this another way:  if you sold one copy of Mao’s quotations every second, it would take twenty-six years to sell 820 million books.  If you sold one copy of the Bible per second, you, your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren would be selling Bibles for 124 years!  

There is a reason that the Bible is the most loved and well-read book in all of human history.  The Bible is a book that God wrote by inspiring forty different authors from a variety of cultural backgrounds over a period of about 1,500 years.  It is filled with wisdom, romance, intrigue, prophecy, instruction, and correction that still applies to us today, and all of this serves the purpose of revealing to us the God who made us and loves us!  It tells a broken, sinful and hurting humanity of a God who can heal, forgive, save and empower for abundant living.

2 Peter 1:16, 19-21 says, "For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty….And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”


These are powerful words for us to admire about the Bible.  I pray you will find your answers in the Word of God, and that you will find hope and joy in the God of the Word!