May 24, 2013

B003D0TAM8.01._SX490_SCLZZZZZZZ_V190274968_Here are a few quick stops that I believe are worth your time.

Relationships are difficult. More specifically, forgiveness is difficult. Here Justin Taylor touches on the responsibility believers have toward those who have hurt them. This is well worth the time it takes to read it.

Most every believer battles depression and discouragement from time to time. Some believers are crippled by it. Here are 7 Tips from John Newton On Battling Depression.

I appreciate everything Justin Holcomb writes. Here he highlights the power of grace in the life of the believer.

Michael Horton is one of the premiere theologians of our day. His family’s roots are in Moore Oklahoma, and his brother and his family still live there. Mike grapples with the age old question of how a good God could allow this awful tragedy to take place.


May 21, 2013

B003D0TAM8.01._SX490_SCLZZZZZZZ_V190274968_Our prayers are with the folks in Oklahoma. For some, the tragedy must be almost overwhelming. Sam Storms, who pastors in Oklahoma City, responds to the tragedy. In a somewhat similar way, Al Mohler grapples with the task of reconciling God’s power and love with an event like this. I appreciate Job’s assessment of personal tragedy (Job 1:21): “The Lord gave and the Lord takes way, blessed be the name of the Lord.” He said God is behind his tragedy in some sense and therefore he praises Him. We can’t sort it all out be we can rest in what God is doing

How are we to understand Romans 7? What does the normal Christian life look like? Kim Riddelbarger helpfully clarifies the issue.

Many of us strive to be decent writers. I know of several in our church who are attempting to write a novel. Some of us just want to be able to string together a few logical sentences in way that actually says something. I’m always looking for ways to hone what skills I have. Justin Taylor who is an editor for Crossway offers four suggestions about writing well.

One of the best ways to become a good writer is to read a lot. Stephen Altrogge’s short works of fiction are free today for Kindle.


May 14, 2013

B003D0TAM8.01._SX490_SCLZZZZZZZ_V190274968_Here are some links for your spiritual digestion:

We have all heard that Abba means “daddy.” Is this true?

What about the History Channel’s recent series on the Bible? Is it factual? Andy Naselli offers his assessment.

Mark Altrogge weighs in on the importance of the first beatitude, spiritual poverty. Most of our everyday relational sins come from getting this wrong, thinking that other people are the problem and that we’re spiritually okay. If we understand the wickedness of our own hearts we’ll be amazed that we are treated as well as we are.

Here is a helpful piece by Kevin DeYoung about rhythm in our lives.

Dane Ortlund highlights Jonathan Edward’s take on Romans 8:28.

Though it is to the eternal damage of the saints, ordinarily, when they yield to, and are overcome by temptations, yet Satan and other enemies of the saints by whom these temptations come, are always wholly disappointed in their temptations, and baffled in their design to hurt the saints, inasmuch as the temptation and the sin that comes by it, is for the saints’ good, and they receive a greater benefit in the issue, than if the temptation had not been, and yet less than if the temptation had been overcome.


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

So often I’m enamored with the trivial.


December 10, 2012

B003D0TAM8.01._SX490_SCLZZZZZZZ_V190274968_It is no secret that my family and I really appreciate Duck Dynasty (You can watch episodes online. Don’t miss “I’m Dreaming of a Red Neck Christmas.” I’m tracking with Jase on this show.). It is the polar opposite of a show like Keeping Up With The Kardashians. I realize that my affection for the show says volumes about my own oddness and propensities. Here is an article articulating why America needs Duck Dynasty.

Tullian continues to flesh out the essence of sanctification. Once again, I encourage you to think through what he is saying.

Barnabas Piper discusses The tension of “God is good” and “It shouldn’t be this way.” This short article is very helpful.

This will only appeal to geeks like me …

One Week From Today

October 30, 2012

Last night the Lugg family gathered around the kitchen table and voted. We are one week away from Election Day. What follows is my newsletter piece that should arrive in your mailbox (if you attend at Bowman) either today or tomorrow. Our God has everything under control and we need to rest in this truth.

Once again it is time to elect a president. I dread election seasons like I dread dental visits. I know that they are necessary but they are so painful. I’m sure things could be much worse. Imagine what it must be like to live in a real battleground state, a place like Florida where you might actually have a sense that your vote for president really matters. No doubt, every imaginable medium is exploited, everything from TV commercials to automated phone calls.

While this election season is often frustrating, it is also special. In fact, the whole enterprise is wonderful. We don’t have a despot who once in office is almost never deposed; rather, we have a president who is elected every four years. Again, this is wonderful. It is easy to be perturbed at the buffoonish, arrogant comments that pervade the media during this election season, but again, how wonderful it is that we get to sort through the sewage and vote for the best possible person? While we might complain about the state of affairs in this great land of ours, when seriously questioned about a better place to live, we, to a person, would refrain from packing our bags when offered an alternate place to call home. We know in our heart of hearts that this is the best place to live. This is one area where the Tenth Commandment isn’t a problem.

So, given that there are no “For Sale” signs in our yards, how should we think about this election season? What follows in many ways reiterates much of what I wrote two years ago when we were once again moving through an election season. Again, how should we think as believers on the cusp of an election?

First, we pray for our country and our leaders. There isn’t anything more valuable than this. We do this because it makes sense and because we’re commanded to do so in 1Timothy 2:1-2. Second, not only do we pray for our leaders but we usually submit (Granted, there are times for disobedience, Acts 5:29.) to their direction, Romans 13:1-7. We pay a price if we don’t obey the government. Third, we are to honor our leaders, 1Peter 2:17. This can be more difficult than submitting to the government. Fourth, even though we often do not get our way, we still do what we can to affect our laws and government. We need to vote, write letters and sign petitions. God told the exiles in Babylon to “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare,” Jeremiah 29:7. Our effort to impact the political process is one way of seeking the welfare of our country. Fifth, remember that God is in control. The leaders we have aren’t in power by accident; rather they are in place because God put them in authority, Romans 13:1. God is still THE Ruler. It is always good to remember Psalm 2:1-4:

“Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.”

The laughing God rules over the vain pursuits of the nations. Finally, as Hebrews 12:28 says, we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Our real home isn’t northern California. We’re simply passing through. We’re strangers and exiles here, Hebrews 11:13. So as we enter the voting booth on November 6, let’s vote with light hearts knowing that God has already decreed the results and that ultimately the results will benefit his church. While elections are important, because God rules, we can rest in whatever outcome God has planned.



September 6, 2012

I you are like me, you loathe the years we hold presidential elections. First, the ads are incessant. Second, I feel like it’s being an A’s fan all over again. Your team never wins. That said, here is an insightful piece by Al Mohler. He helps his readers understand that now more than ever the election this year is about clashing worldviews.

One of the more perplexing issues in the Bible is God’s love. Does God love everyone, and if so, why does he sent the people he loves to hell? Kevin DeYoung summarizes truth found in Don Carson’s book The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of GodAs is often the case when thinking about theology, the issue is tricky.

For those of you pursuing a college education, here is some wisdom to keep everything in balance.

Life often includes spiritual storms. You know, those times when you face more temptation than usual to doubt God’s love and care. As you probably know, there is no magic formula or incantation that whisks us away from these dark times. Here is some encouragement for the next time the wind picks up from the south.

Help With Anxiety

August 28, 2012

(HT: Z)