Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Reconciling Child

(A 25th Christmas gift to the Fellowship in the Pass Church)

Oh, Hark! The herald angels sing
“Give Glory to the newborn King!
The Father’s own begotten Son
The reconciling had begun

For by the work of this dear child
We sinners lost were reconciled
Though helpless and ungodly be
The enemies of God were we

And yet in grace and proving love
He laid aside His rights above
To enter into time and space
And demonstrate redeeming grace

God to a virgin timely born
Humanity for Him was worn
She swaddled Him in cloths so fresh
His deity was wrapped in flesh

When shepherds on a hillside heard
The joyful news, the glorious word
For all the world good news received
The shepherds listened and believed

And came to see Messiah come
Who pitched His tent and made a home
With men on earth as man He dwelt
God’s condescending love was felt

He came so unobtrusively
An act of pure humility
Not as the world expected Him
The night was dark, the light was dim

Immersed in darkness was the earth
But light had come with this one birth
For those who would to Him submit
Eternal light in Him was lit

Then from the stable He would go
To Nazareth where He would grow
Into a man with favor found
In wisdom and in stature sound

A man who went round doing good
And though by most misunderstood
They thought He was an earthly king
Vindictive conq’ring He would bring

But this was not why He came down
For fleeting fame or man’s renown
Not even carnal infamy
Nor treasure’s temporality

He came to die—simplicity
Revealed in His humility
Obedient death was His to claim
That led to His exalted name

And so this reconciling child
Though born so pure and undefiled
By sin’s impurities innate
With man’s own weakness He’d relate

Becoming sin for us He could
Impart His righteousness that would
Make us acceptable to God
And far remove His wrathful rod

No other Name, no other One
Can give us life than God’s dear Son
Who on the cross in suff’ring so…
Determined love for us did show

The Father’s grace in Him replete
Where reconciling love did meet
And in His death salvation sweet
Redemption wrought—full and complete

Thus once again th’indwelling Word
Will tabernacle now as Lord
With men and women who receive
And penitentially believe

Oh would that all the nations could
With joyful hearts proclaim the good
Of God’s eternal saving Son
Eternal God, incarnate One

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Lethal Weapon

Sadly, I have become aware of a person in our church who is gossiping and slandering both the church and one member in particular. What a horrible, devastating testimony that is to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. In thinking about this grievous situation, what prompted me to blog is the rather sobering thought that followed: What if I stood and announced this week that we had learned of this situation and all the pastors and I were going to visit the person involved on the next day...without naming the person. (Here’s the sobering part) I wonder how many of the folks in church would spend a sleepless night of worry.

Isn’t that sad? Sad that a pastor would even harbor such a thought. Sad that the state of affairs in so many churches today would make that be a possibility. Sad that we do not recognize the horribly destructive power of the tongue. James and the writer of Proverbs warn us:

“Prov. 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.
James 3:8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.”

Gossip and slander are dreaded destroyers of the sweetness of the fellowship we have in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Scripture constantly reminds us of the serious nature of these sins:

“Prov. 20:19 He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets,
Therefore do not associate with a gossip.
Eph. 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
2Tim. 3:3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good,
Titus 2:3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good,”

Those who have been given over to a depraved mind are said to be gossips and slanderers in Romans 1:28-30.

So much harm is done by that little thing called the tongue. Yet it only reveals what is on the inside of the person. Jesus said:

“Matt. 12:34 “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.
Matt. 15:18 “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.”

Contrast this with the beautiful 15th Psalm which tells us that true worshippers of God do not slander with their tongues (v.3). Oh, how desperately we all need to hear the governing voice of the Spirit when we are tempted to gossip and slander. Let us all hear the solemn admonition of the apostle Paul: “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29)

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Blog Already!!!

Children are a blessing from the Lord. They are wonderful gifts from God for which we are deeply thankful. Okay, I got that out of the way. Sometimes they are N-A-G-S!!!!!
My kids won’t leave me alone about blogging. “Dad, you need to blog.” “Dad, I’m tired of seeing the same blog.” And on and on and on.

Then today one of them had the nerve to send me an article by Abraham Piper, entitled "6 Reasons Pastors Should Blog." Aaaaarrrrrrrggggghhhhh!!!!!

Alright, already! I agree with everything Abraham says. My problem is I just don’t think I have that much to say. One of my commitments when I got into blogging was avoiding the audacious arrogance of the notion that anyone cared what I had to say. Therefore, I wanted to stay firmly entrenched in the idea that I would only blog when I felt strongly about something or believed there was a need. And, as I have often said, the main purpose of my blogging is to encourage and build up the flock for which I am accountable.

I do think Abraham Piper makes a good point when he says that pastors need to write because it helps them think. That’s a given. But nowhere is it written, or even hinted, that we ought necessarily to publish everything we write.

Take it from me. You really shouldn’t care too much what I say. You should take everything I say as my opinion only. And where possible, you should weigh anything I say in light of God’s Word. That is the standard by which we must be measured in the truth of our words.

So, there!!! A blog already!!!! Now LEAVE ME ALONE!!!!!

(Of course, you know I love it when they ask me to blog. How great can God’s grace be to give me children who want to read what I have to say. I truly am blessed among men.)