Well…it’s been a great week for nerds!!! Two highly anticipated sequels, and one new entry to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, debuted trailers. And they all look really good! And so I give you, in order of their calendar releases, the trailers for Ant-Man, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice…
2. Tim Challies on handling the seeds of divorce that are in every marriage.
3. Christian George shares how Charles Spurgeon almost quit the ministry.
4. USA Today says Sunday School will soon be dead and Ken Braddy says they got it wrong.
5. Here are 5 reasons we need to sing loudly at church from Keith Getty.
6. A list near and dear to my heart…the 10 best doughnut shops in America.
And here’s Blood, Sweat & Tears with Spinning Wheel…
God created the family when He made Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden. He gave them the joy of creating sons and daughters so that families would spread all over the earth bearing the image of God for all to see. Satan attacked the family through deception and continues to attack families. Why?
- Families are the foundational unit of the world’s cultures. Men and women come together as husband and wife and bear children and raise them. Within the home children learn values that will guide them into adulthood where they, too, will marry and have children. If Satan can destroy homes, or at least cause them to love anything and anyone but Jesus, society will crumble.
- Parents are models for children, either for good or for bad. While we believe that salvation belongs to the Lord, parents have been given both the privilege and responsibility to raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. If parents don’t model a passionate love for Jesus, it’s more likely that their children won’t either.
- Children will have a tendency to reflect the character and attitudes they see in their parents. If parents display the fruit of the Spirit and live out the wisdom of the Scriptures, their children will have a wonderful picture of what living for Jesus looks like. If parents pursue their own passions, then children will see that and probably mimic that behavior.
All of this is to say that sinful behavior can be passed down through multiple generations. Satan understands this, and thus his attack on families. Whether is the weakening of marriages through divorce, the redefinition of marriage, the breakdown of what it means to be a family, Satan can wage war through attacking and destroying families.
The good news of the Gospel is that through repentance of sin and trusting in the finished work of Jesus, families can be saved. Because of the Gospel we don’t have to be enslaved to poor examples in our past. Because of the Gospel, marriages can be salvaged and generational sins overcome.
This is why the ultimate battleground for saving families won’t be the Supreme Court, as important as those decisions will be. The battleground the church must wage war on will be house to house, apartment to apartment, man to man, woman to woman, and children to children. The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh. If we want to save families, we must take the Gospel to the streets with joy. We must be examples, not of perfect families, but of families who live out the Gospel in the home.
Let’s live out the Gospel to the glory of God and for the good of our cities.
One of the privileges I have as a pastor is helping people through counseling, and more specifically biblical counseling. For me, biblical counseling means helping people apply the wisdom of God’s Word to the struggles, difficulties, and/or decisions they are facing.
Why is it important that my counseling be biblical? I can think of a few reasons…
- While God has given me lots of wonderful lessons to grow me in wisdom, biblical counseling doesn’t depend on my wisdom but God’s wisdom. My experiences can sometimes offer folks insights to what they are going through, but God’s Word always speaks to every need of the human heart and life.
- Biblical counseling helps point people to the One who has made them and knows them better than they know themselves. We all have a tendency to deceive ourselves. But our Lord knows our thoughts before we think them and our words before we speak them. The Bible exposes our sinful hearts to the light of His grace.
- Biblical counseling is dependent upon the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit uses the Word to correct us, encourage us, and discipline us when needed. And when we fail, the Spirit reminds us that if we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We need the Spirit’s help through the Word to counsel others.
There are lots more good reasons to do biblical counseling. But one final question…do I do biblical counseling with unbelievers? And the answer is yes. Even though they don’t have the Holy Spirit or maybe even an understanding of sin and its effects, if people are coming to me for help they will hear me say I’m helping them from a biblical perspective. And God has been good to allow me the privilege of sharing the Gospel through these counseling sessions. So all my counseling, whether with believers or unbelievers, is biblical counseling.
Bottom line, biblical counseling with God’s Word as the foundation of these sessions is the only way I trust that what I share with those in need can really help them.
This past Sunday I started a new sermon series based on Peter’s life called God Uses Messy People. One of the passages we looked at was Luke 5:1-11. It’s the unusual story of Jesus telling Peter to put his nets back out in deep water after Peter’s long night of fishing with nothing to show. Although Peter communicates this fact to the Lord, he still obeys the Master and is rewarded with such a catch that the nets tear and the boats begin to sink.
Peter’s response to the Lord seems out of place in some ways. If this had happened to me, I think I would be overcome with wonder and joy, wonder at how the Lord knew to cast the nets again and joy at the large catch.
But Peter seems terrified as he runs and kneels before Jesus begging that the Lord would go away from him because Peter is a sinful man. So, this miracle doesn’t bring wonder and joy but terror to Peter.
I reminded our people that Peter’s response was similar to Isaiah’s response when he saw the Lord high and lifted up in His temple in Isaiah 6. When Isaiah sees the Lord’s holiness, he cries out that he is ruined because he’s seen the Lord although he is a man of unclean lips. Again, Isaiah is filled with fear, not wonder and joy in seeing the Lord.
Notice Jesus’ response to Peter in vs. 10, “Don’t be afraid.” And with those three words, grace was given to Peter by our Lord.
While Peter’s proclamation that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, is still to come, with this miracle of the great catch, Peter gets a glimpse of the veiled deity of the Jesus. And just a glimpse is enough to cause Peter to fear the wrath of God the Son (“go away from me”).
I marvel at the people who think when they die and stand before the Lord, they’ll glad hand the Lord, yuck it up with Him, and as good buddies the Lord will welcome them into His presence because they have been “good” people.
The reality is that like Isaiah and like Peter, when we see the Lord, we’ll be ruined because of our sin. But as the Lord did with Isaiah, and the Lord did with Peter, and for those of us who are trusting in Jesus alone for salvation, in our ruin we’ll hear Jesus say, “Don’t be afraid.” And with those words we’ll have the clearest understanding of what grace is really about, what propitiation is really about, what justification is really about, and how amazing a salvation we have through the substitutionary atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ.
May we live today with the joy that though we are sinners, because we are saved by His grace, even we hear Him say, “Don’t be afraid.”
Yesterday, I began a new 4-week sermon series on the life of Peter called Peter: God Uses Messy People. We looked at the call of Peter to be an apostle and how he responded to Jesus. You can listen to the sermon here (and the manuscript is there as well). The notes are below…
1. When we come to Jesus, we get a new identity. (John 1:29-42)
2. When we come to Jesus we see Him for who He truly is which means we see ourselves for who we are, but with hope. (Luke 5:1-11)
3. Even though we don’t know everything the future holds as we follow Jesus, we know Him as our greatest treasure. (Matthew 4:18-22)
I start a new 4-week series this morning entitled Peter: God Uses Messy People. The Scriptures for this morning’s sermon are below…
John 1:29-42 (HCSB) 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the One I told you about: ‘After me comes a man who has surpassed me, because He existed before me.’ 31 I didn’t know Him, but I came baptizing with water so He might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John testified, “I watched the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He rested on Him. 33 I didn’t know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The One you see the Spirit descending and resting on—He is the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and testified that He is the Son of God!” 35 Again the next day, John was standing with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look! The Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this and followed Jesus. 38 When Jesus turned and noticed them following Him, He asked them, “What are you looking for?” They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are You staying?” 39 “Come and you’ll see,” He replied. So they went and saw where He was staying, and they stayed with Him that day. It was about 10 in the morning. 40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard John and followed Him. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah!” (which means “Anointed One”), 42 and he brought Simon to Jesus. When Jesus saw him, He said, “You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which means “Rock”).
Luke 5:1-11 (HCSB) 1 As the crowd was pressing in on Jesus to hear God’s word, He was standing by Lake Gennesaret. 2 He saw two boats at the edge of the lake; the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, which belonged to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from the land. Then He sat down and was teaching the crowds from the boat. 4 When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 “Master,” Simon replied, “we’ve worked hard all night long and caught nothing! But at Your word, I’ll let down the nets.” 6 When they did this, they caught a great number of fish, and their nets began to tear. 7 So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them; they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, because I’m a sinful man, Lord!” 9 For he and all those with him were amazed at the catch of fish they took, 10 and so were James and John, Zebedee’s sons, who were Simon’s partners. “Don’t be afraid,” Jesus told Simon. “From now on you will be catching people!” 11 Then they brought the boats to land, left everything, and followed Him.
Matthew 4:18-22 (HCSB) 18 As He was walking along the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea, since they were fishermen. 19 “Follow Me,” He told them, “and I will make you fish for people!”20 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and He called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him.