October 14, 2014

There are some books worth nabbing. First, Elise Fitzpatrick’s Found in Him: The Joy of the Incarnation and Our Union with Christ is $0.99 for Nook and Kindle. Union with Christ is one of the most important but least understood doctrines there is. When Your Husband Is Addicted to Pornography: Healing Your Wounded Heart is free for Nook and Kindle. Who Am I: Identity In Christ is a free audio book. This book is written by Jerry Bridges and read by Alistair Begg.

One Thing I Want My Kids to Remember About Me is a good reminder for all parents.

In case you were wondering, pot really is bad for you.

Nancy Guthrie writes about The Best Things About the Boring Parts of the Bible.

Let Your Dim, Sin-Stained Light Shine Before The World. ‘Nuff said.

Paul Tripp’s words are directed toward pastors, but what he says is good for all of us. If nothing else, you will gain insight into the mind of the pastor.

“We can put it this way–the man who has faith is the man who is no longer looking at himself and no longer looking to himself. He no longer looks at anything he once was. He does not look at what he is now. He does not even look at what he hopes to be as the result of his own efforts. He looks entirely to the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work, and rests on that alone. He stops saying, ‘Ah yes, I used to commit terrible sins but now I have done this and that.’ If he goes on saying that, he has not got faith. Faith speaks in an entirely different manner and makes a man say, ‘Yes I have sinned grievously, I have lived a life of sin, yet I know that I am a child of God because I am not resting on any righteousness of my own; my righteousness is in Jesus Christ and God has put that to my account.’” ~ D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Like Hen’s Teeth

January 28, 2014

This past Sunday Pastor Bob finished working his way through the book of Matthew in Sunday School. He walked his class through Matthew 28:17 which says, “And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.” This verse is saying that some doubt the truth about Jesus and his resurrection. Who are the some? The preceding verse says, “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.”  The plain reading of the text means that some of the eleven disciples after the resurrection, while they are eyeballing Jesus, still doubt the resurrection.

This simply highlights the impossibility of generating faith on our own. Even in the presence of clear evidence, some of the disciples doubted the truth concerning Jesus. Think also about the Jewish leadership. They knew that Jesus had promised to rise from the dead. Because of this they wanted a guard posted at the tomb. What do they do when they find out about the resurrection? They pay the guards to tell a lie. To use an overused word, this is “amazing.” Even when the evidence is indisputable they don’t believe.

In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man begs Abraham to resurrect Lazarus so that he might go back and warn his family so that they will not also “come into this place of torment.” The last verse of that Luke 16 passage says, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” This is the truth expressed above. Let me put it this way: clear evidence does not create faith in God. Even if Lazarus were raised from the dead, it wouldn’t have an impact on the rich man’s family.

Where does faith in God come from? “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17). In other words, faith comes as people hear the gospel. Isn’t this amazing? The greatest of miracles will not change someone’s heart, but preaching will. How is it that preaching works when miracles won’t? One time Paul was preaching at Philippi. What happened as he preached the gospel? “One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul” (Acts 16:14). As the gospel is preached, the Lord opens hearts and implants faith. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” All of your salvation, including your faith, is a gift from God. Apart from his work in your life, you would have never believed in spite of clear evidence.

Belief in the work of Jesus is a clear indication that a miracle has occurred in your life. How we should rejoice. Also, it is helpful to remember that the primary means the Lord uses to create faith is the preaching of the good news. We should argue for the intellectual defensibility of the faith but at the same time, we need to articulate the clear message of salvation.

Keller – Why We Lie

August 22, 2013

I appreciate Timothy Keller’s honesty in this clip. He explains why he and his wife, Kathy, lie. We lie because we don’t trust God. Of course, this is the root of all our sin.


May 7, 2013

If you attend Bowman, this month’s newsletter should arrive today. Here is my contribution:

Dear Ones,

Many of you have followed our home ownership ordeal. It bothered me that Debbie and I are 10 to 15 years from retirement (if things continue as they are) and we have made no plans for a place to live after retirement. We don’t have a lot of money to invest partially because the IRS takes a huge chunk for Social Security. 15.3% off the top of what I earn, including the value of the parsonage, goes to Social Security. The bottom line is that it seemed to me that the wisest thing we could do was to buy a home. We would have a place to live when the dreaded day of retirement arrived and we would leave our children some growing equity. The elders have graciously allowed us to rent the parsonage and then bump our income by the amount of the rental income minus the property taxes.

When our offer on the house was accepted I emailed the elders letting them know. Scott Willems emailed back, “Wow!  Scary!!!  Sure you know what you’re in for?  Home ownership ain’t for sissies.” I responded, “I’m sure I don’t have a clue but I’m confident my brothers will help.” Both comments turned out to be very true.

I was attracted to the home we bought because it had a guest house. We thought one day after the guest house had been fixed up Deb’s mother could live there. It made sense to have her live right next to us. We could be at her side at a moment’s notice. It might have made sense, but as you know, things didn’t develop according to our plans.

Twenty-five days after we purchased the house, I walked in and heard water running; I knew that I hadn’t left anything on. Sure enough there was water running out of a light fixture in the hall ceiling. Needless to say, I was very surprised. Guess who came over and fixed the leak in the attic? That’s right, Brother Scott.

On the twenty-sixth day after we purchased the house tragically Margaret went home to be with the Lord. With her passing, one of our reasons for purchasing this particular home went away. I’m sure down the road owning a guest house will be a good thing. Right now, it seems like a swing and a miss (to use a baseball metaphor).

Our big moving day was several weeks ago. Brain lent us his trailer and JohnMark his brawn. After an exhausting day we were for the most part living at 17005 Bowman. We woke the next morning still facing several more weeks of hard work finishing the move and getting the parsonage ready for a renter but grateful. One problem: the refrigerator for some reason didn’t live through the move. It was dead on arrival. Time to buy a new one whether we wanted to or not.

After we’d been in a week or so we noticed that our floor seemed to be transitioning just a bit. I talked to the guy who put our floor in and he seemed surprised. I decided to remove the bottom panel from the dishwasher just to see if something was going on. Sure enough, the dishwasher, which we never ran until we moved in, was leaking water. Another unanticipated, unbudgeted expense. Our lives are filled with unanticipated, unbudgeted expenses.

There are upsides to the leak. We found out about it on day when we had more emotional resources to deal with it. A few days earlier would have been very traumatic. Also, if it had gone undetected for a long time it could have led to a serious repair.

I realize that many of you have gone through, or are going through, far more difficult things. I can’t in anyway complain about what we’re experiencing. We are at the shallow end of the pool. However, I do hope this is the end of the line of our misfortune for a time. Here is our (yours and mine) truth: God is caring for us through all of this. God is always calling us (you and me) to trust him. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” We trust him enough to obey when the world models something else; we trust him enough to rejoice when our circumstances are saying something else.  We trust no matter what happens.


Pastor Mark


December 5, 2012

B003D0TAM8.01._SX490_SCLZZZZZZZ_V190274968_I’ve been sort of AWOL lately. I typically say I’m running two days behind. This week I’m three or four days behind. On an unrelated note, today is my wonderful wife’s birthday. I always say I married over my head. God blessed in inexpressible ways by bringing Debbie into my life. Happy birthday, Dear.

J.D. Greear interacts with a New York Times article about how people change. He hears and echo of the Gospel in the Times piece. Here is the concluding paragraph:

Not surprisingly, Brooks doesn’t end his article with a gospel proclamation. At least not completely. But he does close by reminding his readers that the most effective way to engender change is not by “bludgeoning bad behavior” but by “changing the underlying context.” In many ways, this is what the gospel does. The gospel is not a message to “go and do,” but a message that salvation has already been done. The underlying context has been changed. We are changed not by being told what we need to do for God, but by hearing the news about what He has done for us.

Mark Altrogge offers 13 Scriptures To Meditate On When Your Future Is Uncertain. Your future is out of your hands. Start meditating.

Speaking of an uncertain future, this website visualizes deaths and births in real time. Fascinating.

This video fits perfectly with the preceding reference to death.


August 20, 2012

I’m not fond of the word sanctification. It is a word like marathon, reminding me of something I’ll never do. I also realize that we are called to be sanctified. I’m called to work on running my “marathon.” Here Tim Challies reminds us that  sanctification is often best learned in community. No doubt he’s right.

This life is about waiting. We’re always waiting for something, or rather, for many things. This time of waiting is  trying. Putting this together, it is safe to say that we’re always being tried. Here Patrick Schreiner expresses his thoughts as his mother recovers from a significant bicycle accident. He helps us think about truth that helps us wait.

“The Apostle: The Life of Paul” is free for Kindle and Nook. Also, Dallas Willard’s “Renovation of the Heart” is free for Kindle. I don’t recommend Willard but many others do. It is hard to find grace in Willard’s writings.

(HT: DeYoung)

Belief but no Trust

August 16, 2012



HT: Mockingbird


Here is some wisdom about trusting God from Ray Ortlund:

“They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength.”  Isaiah 40:31

Trusting God is not comfortable.  It doesn’t belong in a Hallmark card picture — a colorful valley, a quaint village, a church steeple, with a sentimental slogan.  Trusting God can be extremely uncomfortable, even painful.

Rabbi David Kimchi, one of the early Hebrew lexicographers, defined the verb “wait” inIsaiah 40:31 with reference to the medieval German verb for “twist.”  That is, waiting on the Lord can involve tension and pressure and stress.  How could it be otherwise?  Waitingis pent-up irresolution.  It is not easy to wait trustingly for the Lord:

“Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, . . . so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he has mercy upon us.”  Psalm 123:2

“My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.”  Psalm 130:6

“I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.”  Psalm 143:6

My point is this.  You may be going through hell right now.  You may be bewildered, gasping, frightened.  But that doesn’t mean you aren’t trusting God.  It might mean you aretrusting God.

Isaiah really understood something.  He understood that it’s in this tension that our strength is renewed.  How so?  There is something about coming to the end of ourselves and our own strength and wisdom — that’s when our hearts finally crack open, and the love of God pours in.

When we have nothing of our own left, when nothing will suffice but that which is directly and immediately of God, that’s when God alone is our sufficiency, and we find him to be so.  He’s worth the wait.