Posts tagged #PA

Why it is Best to Consider Yourself a Murderer

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Why it is best to consider yourself a murderer.

 

In the end, knowing that you are a murderer at heart opens the door to salvation.

 

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.[1]

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.[2]

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.[3] (RSV)

 

 What do you do when someone hits you, bumps you, insults you, or hurts you in any way? Or, make it simple, what do you think of the person who cuts you off in traffic?

When Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount he ushered in a new kingdom that turned the whole world upside down and inside out.[4] In his message he raises the standard of inter-relational ethics to impossible standards; well, at least impossible without God, but that is his point. He exposes the natural tendencies of the human heart and critiques the best that man can do with the help of laws to contain those natural impulses. Finally, he requires new attitudes that can only be found in the heart of a person who knows the love and grace of God and who has been transformed and equipped to live and love as a new creation.

Our normal human tendency, when we are slapped, is to escalate the violence. An accidental bump in the marketplace or an inadvertent word becomes an offense which leads to a grudge and becomes a feud which is passed on to the generations. The response to a slap is to find a baseball bat which leads to a bigger stick, and then a gun and finally, in the end, to murder. Murder leads to murder, family hates family, clan hates clan, and nations go to war long past the point where the original bump in the marketplace has passed into legend.

Understanding this natural tendency, God gave the ancient Israelites a higher standard of justice. In Exodus 21, the chapter right after the presentation of the Ten Commandments, God lays out a system of justice that was often summarized with verses 23 and 24, “But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” (ESV) Although the imagery is slightly gory, this simple statement is the starting point for any contemplation of justice. Rather than having an offense escalate, any system of justice should maintain a balanced system where the recompense for an offense is proportional and also satisfies the circumstance so there is no ongoing escalation of uncontrolled “repayments.”[5]
Jesus points to this view of the law as a useful starting point to overturn the self-righteousness of man. If someone hurts us, under the law, we want to pat ourselves on the back and say that we only took back what we deserved. “He slapped me, I slapped him. We’re even.”[6] At one level this is just; but Jesus has something so much greater in mind. In our normal, law-less mode we are slapped and we want to destroy our neighbor. Under the law we are slapped and after a slap back, we walk away hating each other. In the upside-down kingdom, Jesus wants us, when we are slapped, to return utter vulnerability in the hope that our response of grace will lead to a restored and improved relationship.

Jesus wants to set a new standard and a new goal. He wants the standard to be love matching God’s love and the goal to be new-found and restored relationship. In our natural state the goal is destruction and there is no hope of restoration or relationship, in fact, we don’t even seek it. Under the law we are slapped and we want to terminate the relationship on equal terms. The goal is to walk away hating each other but at least not making things worse. The best we can hope for is, “He slapped me, I slapped him, we’re even… the jerk.”

But in the upside-down kingdom Jesus wants us, in the face of an offense, to respond with love and get as compensation … nothing. Moreover, he wants us to offer more than what is expected or required. Instead of justice that is even[7], when someone hits us, he wants us to offer the other cheek also.

Let’s ponder why Jesus uses the image of a slap. Being slapped in the face is more than just painful, it is a challenge or an insult. It is an intimate gesture and a personal affront. Jesus raises the bar, using an image of a destruction of fellowship that is face to face, deliberate and coldly unavoidable. We know who struck us and we know the slap was delivered with a purpose. In return, the Godly response is not only that we don’t return the slap, which would be “just” under the law, but we don’t even try to defend ourselves against the indignity. We don’t seek to defend ourselves, because we have a new goal – restoration.

When someone strikes us, or insults us, or shuns us, or hurts us in any way, we are immediately placed at a relational crossroads. Our response will either end the relationship (or start down that road) or restore the relationship. Instead of being satisfied with the end of relationship, turning the other cheek means that we chase down the person who struck us and offer them a chance to try again and to not strike the other cheek. Our driving passion is to restore the relationship through the love of God with no immediate consideration given to what has been done to us or whether we have been hurt. There may be consequences or reparations or issues to resolve, but that is a later part of the process to be worked out later.

Even the most superficial evaluation of this upside-down way of living should stun us. Not only would this attitude transform all human relationships, but through careful assessment of our own selfish hearts, we immediately realize that this attitude is impossible to cultivate without a profound transformation, first, of our whole lives. We need a new understanding, a new perspective, one that overturns our natural way of thinking. We need our hearts totally transformed from self-centeredness to utter selflessness. Even our best actions and habits need to be re-directed as new fruit of a transformed concept of the goal of restoration. The action of turning the other cheek can only be the result of a revolutionized way of thinking and a heart that has been transformed by God.

Jesus knew this and made it clear as he ushered in the upside-down kingdom. He discusses murder as a way to reveal our hearts in a penetrating and inescapable way. We all know that murder is at the extreme end of relational destruction. Jesus uses murder because it is such an absolute that we all understand. He traps us because He he doesn’t want us to be able to somehow claim self-righteously, “I’m okay because I haven’t murdered anyone.” His new kingdom trap works like this; “If you even call someone a fool, that is the same a murder.”[8] This challenge does three things. First of all, we must realize that we are all guilty of murder – nobody can make the claim, “I’m okay.” To identify a murderer, we no longer need a dead body, the proof starts in our innermost thoughts.

Secondly, he pushes the ethical requirement off the scales (just like turning the other cheek). It isn’t good enough to not murder someone, you can’t even think ill of a person. This forces upon us a crushing implication – if we are not to think ill of a person, that means that we must think well of everyone. Jesus makes this clear when he talks about how to treat our enemies. Imagine someone who is deliberately pursuing your destruction. Not just careless, not merely thoughtless, not simply inconsiderate; the person wants to hurt you, destroy your reputation, take away your wealth and he is doing everything possible to carry out his harmful intentions against you. Jesus says, “Love that person.” <<Insert animated GIF of a jaw dropping here.>> And here is the shocker, to your enemy, to love your enemy, you can’t be careless, or thoughtless, or inconsiderate. It isn’t enough to merely not be offended – you can’t be indifferent. Your love needs to be thoughtful, purposeful, and deliberate. You need to do everything possible to carry out your loving plans to that enemy as he seeks to destroy you. Jesus wants you to pray for that person, give him your things, and invite him into your home. You don’t merely avoid your enemy, you chase after him to present your other cheek for slapping.

Thirdly, and this is true any time we see the standard of God, we are faced with our absolute helplessness and our desperate need for God’s grace to be in us and filling us. On our own we are the murderers, we are the enemy to those around us. Under the Law, the best that we can hope for is to produce a legalistic response where we restrain physical murder. But mere restraint will never free us from being murderers in our hearts nor will it free us to love anyone else no matter who they are. C.S. Lewis wrote a poem that brings this to life, As the Ruin Falls. In it he says,

 

“All this is flashy rhetoric about loving you.
I never had a selfless thought since I was born.
I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through:
I want God, you, all friends, merely to serve my turn.[9]

 

This is why Jesus tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. The only love that we can produce on our own is a self-centered, self-seeking, greedy love of Me. That is our natural state. Under the law we can (maybe) rise high enough to keep our external actions from revealing the inner selfishness. To love our neighbors and enemies, to turn the other cheek, to free ourselves from murder, we need to be transformed into people who are filled with the grace of God and live by it.

What Jesus said in these verses is hard to take. Most of us see ourselves as “really a pretty good person.” Human culture shoves this concept down our throats. We are endlessly pummeled with the message that we are “basically good” from psychologists, politicians and celebrities.[10]  It is pleasant and comforting and nice when people say this to us, because it is what we want to believe anyway. However, in our more private and introspective moments we sometimes admit that we have “made mistakes.” This statement is normally linked most logically to some kind of statement like, “but everybody makes mistakes,” which is supposed to justify our littler less significant mistakes. Or if someone presses us into a corner, we admit that we “might have done something wrong,” but in the perfect extreme defense we add, “well, maybe, but I haven’t killed anyone.” And at long last, we are finally trapped by the words of Jesus.

Physical murder is not the standard anymore. It is easy for most of us to keep from actual murder. But, if you murder someone in your heart, if you look down on someone, if you dismiss or disregard someone, ignore or show indifference, you are a murderer. And ironically our primary defense reveals that this is what we do all the time. We explain away our sins by comparing ourselves to someone else. In the end, we exalt ourselves in the condemnation of others. We see that we are a little bit wrong, but that other person is the real fool. Raca! If only those people were like me! Raca! That jerk cut me off! Raca! We condemn everyone as a fool every time they don’t meet up to our standards. And when we do that, we become murderers.

Jesus wants us to see ourselves as murderers because that strips away all of our self-confidence and self-sufficiency. If you see yourself as a murderer, you realize that you are worse off than your worst fears.[11] This gives us a desperate humility. We gain a new perspective of ourselves, a new perspective of others, a new perspective on our situation, and a new appreciation of our need for the grace of God.

Your new self-perspective, crushing as it is, puts you at the utter bottom of the moral stack, where you can finally be free and stop thinking so highly of yourself. You certainly can’t look at anyone else and claim that you are somehow better. From this point of view, when someone slaps you, the indignation is gone, because you know that you are a slapper, too. Still though, it is hard being slapped. How do we overcome?

The only deliverance from our state of desperate humility is through faith in Jesus Christ. He received the Ultimate Slap, the rejection of his own heavenly Father and the punishment of all the sins of mankind. He bore every insult, bump, anger, murder, hatred, and indignation, so that we don’t have to. When we look at Jesus and seize desperately upon his nail-scarred hand, we can finally find what we need to overlook the bump, terminate the feud, and chase down our enemies to offer them another swing at our cheek.

This blog was written by Charles Fox

[1] The Holy Bible: New International Version. 1984 (Mt 5:21–22). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Blomberg, C. (1992). Vol. 22: Matthew. The New American Commentary (113). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[3] The Holy Bible: New International Version. 1984 (Mt 5:43–45). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] It is important to note that all of these principles were already revealed in the Old Testament, the difference is that the nature of the kingdom changes when the King arrives.

[5] Please note that there is NO sense of punishment in this system. Compensation and restoration is the assumed purpose of justice. The goal is never to “make him pay for what he did.” Jesus, of course, pushes that to the limit in the Sermon on the Mount. It is valuable to note that as a culture moves further and further from God, this sense of proportion is increasingly lost.

[6] Which misses the point anyway. Even this view of law should awaken us to an “Aha!” moment. How does hitting someone back accomplish anything of value? Any opportunity for reconciliation, or to show the other person their fault through our grace and forgiveness is lost.

[7] At home, the natural tendency is that everyone gets the exact same amount of cake. The proper response is that if someone takes ALL of the cake and I don’t get ANY, that is ok. As Christians, our goal is not “what is fair in my eyes,” but sacrifice for the delight of others.

[8] A spoken word is more than just noise that comes out of our mouths. What we say reflects the profoundest beliefs and commitments of our hearts. When we call a person “Fool!” we are making a pronouncement of purpose and commitment. When we denigrate another, we are saying what we think they are worth, and what they deserve, and what we would do to them if we had the means. In the context of our discussion, it makes us the enemy who wants to destroy the person, that is, we are the murderer. Jesus nails us and our narcissistic world further when he uses the word “Raca.” Raca means empty, that is, you are “Raca,” you are nothing. This passive indifference that treats someone as if they are nothing is perhaps even worse than murder. Every human is of infinite consequence, and for us to dismiss anyone as meaningless is as far from love as you can get.

[9] C.S.Lewis, Poems, “As the Ruin Falls” (1st pub. 1964), pp. 109-110.

[10] The irony is that what they are really saying is, “I am a good person,” with no basis for such a preposterous claim. Since there is no way to prove this, the only remaining logic left is to make a claim that all people are good, and it is just the rare other person who has somehow gone wrong. Five minutes in the real world dispels the fantasy that bad people are “rare.”

[11] Jack Miller would tell us in church over and over – “Cheer up! You’re a worse sinner than you dared imagine, and you’re more loved than you ever dared hope.”

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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1 John 1:9-10: Christ’s Finished Work

I John 1:9-10: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. [1]

 John continues affirming sin and grace [2] in these final verses. Verse ten makes certain that you cannot deny sin and trust God and His Bible because denying sin throws away the Bible and its Divine author. [3] Simultaneously, the second half of verse nine portrays God’s forgiveness and cleansing as completed and not ongoing. [4] John’s language communicates that we need to grow, and makes definitive that the result of confessing our sins is a once and for all cleansing, forgiving, and purifying. [5]

 This is wonderful news for us because we continue warring with sin. [6] Nothing needs to be added to Christ’s finished work. Our sanctification does not earn salvation. [7] We strive to become more like Christ out of love for Him. [8] Today if you are in Christ you can face your challenges and grow in grace knowing that your standing before God never changes because He sees Christ’s light on you. [9] May that joy empower you.

This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] See blog on 1 John 1:7-8.

[3] Colin G. Kruse The Letters of John. General Editor: D.A. Carson. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2000), 66.

[4] Kruse, The Letters of John, 69.

[5] See Daniel B. Wallace Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament with Scripture, Subject, and Greek Word Indexes. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 473, 474, and 476. Also A.T. Robertson A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research Second Ed. (New York, NY: George H. Doran Co., 1915), 998.

[6] Romans 7.

[7] Galatians 2:20; Hebrews 8-10.

[8] Romans 8:9; Galatians 5:25; Hebrews 10:24; James 2:14-26; Revelation 3:22.

[9] Simon J. Kistemaker. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1986), 243-244.

Worth Reading

James 1:12-18

Do you come to our gathered worship service expecting God to speak to you through his Word? We encourage you to prayerfully read through the passage that will be preached prior to the service to help you prepare.

 

The Biggest Temple in Town

Many Christians aren’t allured in the least by spectator sports. God bless you. But for those of us who claim Jesus as Lord and also get hyped about our favorite teams, we need a regular soul-check. And especially at the onset of football season.

 

Love One Another With Brotherly Affection

Even if you hate sports you will love this story. Read/Watch it and, if you have children, share it with them!

 

Kids, Broccoli, and Jesus: Teaching the Gospel with Passion

Is Jesus the most important person in the universe? Absolutely. Is the gospel the most important message in the world? Of course. But when we leave it there, we are incomplete. Jesus is not just important. He is important and satisfying. Don't present Jesus just as someone kids should need. Present him as someone they should want. The gospel is the most thrilling news in the world about the most thrilling Person in the world. When our affections are ignited for Jesus, we will teach with passion and communicate with our words and attitudes that Jesus is not just important, he is better than anything else this world can offer.

This blog was written by Andy Styer

 

Posted on September 23, 2016 and filed under Devotions.

Westminster Shorter Catechism #90

Q: How is the word to be read and heard, that it may become effectual to salvation? 
A: That the word may become effectual to salvation, we must attend thereunto with
diligence, preparation and prayer; receive it with faith and love, lay it up in our
hearts, and practice it in our lives. 
1 Peter 2:1-2: So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like
newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into
salvation. 

As we continue to work through these ordinary means of grace, we come to a question that reminds us that we, as readers and hearers of the Word, have responsibilities. We must consider how we are to receive the Word read and preached. 

Starr Meade reminds us of something very true. She writes, "God's Word is not like a magic formula that makes things happen whenever someone uses it. We must read and hear God's Word in certain ways if it is going to be effective..." The catechism answer this week tells us of these "certain ways" that we are to read and hear the Word. First, we should be diligent in the reading and hearing of the Word. This means we need to read it and hear it preached often! The ministry of the Word, as we saw in last week's blog, is something that we need to participate in often. It's vital to both the conversion of new Christians, but also to the ongoing discipleship of God's people. Secondly, we need to prepare ourselves for the hearing and reading of God's Word. Prayer is the recommended (and probably the best) way to prepare for the reading and hearing of God's Word. Whether we are going into a worship service, or we are opening the Bible in our devotional life, our hearts need to be prepped to hear the Word of God. We can pray for the Holy Spirit's help here. We can ask for the Spirit to prepare and soften our hearts for what God is about to say to us in his Word, and we can ask the Spirit for understanding as we explore the words of the eternal God. Thirdly, we are to receive it in faith and love. We as God's people need to recognize that this is the Word of God! We receive it, trusting that God's Word is, indeed, trustworthy! B.B. Warfield, an early 20th century Presbyterian theologian, wrote about this often. He wrote about how we as Christians should come to the Word without a spirit of skepticism, but rather, in a spirit of faith, of trust, knowing that if God is indeed trustworthy, then his Word is equally trustworthy. We receive the Word in love, knowing that this is the revelation of our loving God, and he has been incredibly gracious to us in giving us his Word! Fourthly we are to lay the Word up in our hearts and practice it in our lives. This is what James is talking about in James 1:22, "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves". If we read and hear the Word prayerfully, receiving it in faith and love, then what logically follows is that our actions, the way we live, will slowly be shaped by the Word. And if we do not find our lives, our actions, our works, being shaped by the Word, then it begs the question, are we truly receiving it in faith and love? Are we truly laying it up in our hearts? Or, are we being "hearers only"?

If I can get personal for a moment, I must confess that too often, I do not do this kind of preparation when I read or hear the Word. And I'm certain that I'm not alone in this. But while this catechism reminds us of our duty and responsibility when it comes to reading and hearing the Word, we know that God's grace is still at work. We have this promise of Isaiah 55:11:

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

This blog was written by Andy Styer

 

Posted on September 21, 2016 and filed under Teaching.

Worth Reading

James 1:2-18

Do you come to our gathered worship service expecting God to speak to you through his Word? We encourage you to prayerfully read through the passage that will be preached prior to the service to help you prepare.

One Question to Unlock Your Evangelism

I doubt many Christians need convincing from Scripture that we’re all called to evangelize, to proclaim the excellencies of Jesus (1 Peter 2:9–10). Evangelism is the simple and supernatural telling, pleading, and inviting of people to turn from sin, and to place their faith in the one crucified to pay for sin and reigning now over the whole universe. In evangelism, we are telling people to run to Jesus.

But we often struggle with how to tell the good news, especially with where to start.

How a troubled Gulfport teen went from foster care to medical school

Shortly before he was taken to the shelter, Andrew had attended the youth group at First Presbyterian Church in Gulfport, where Russell is director of youth and church administrator. The friend who invited Andrew to church asked Russell if he would visit the teenager at the shelter.

God May Postpone Your Relief for His Glory

God is vitally concerned about his glory, about humanity recognizing him for who he is. This includes the people around us, observing us as we wait for deliverance. It also includes we who wait. Waiting on God is the essence of faith.
We shouldn’t be surprised. After all, Jesus didn’t get relief when he requested it. He didn’t get relief at all. The greatest display of God’s glory (the cross) involved God refusing relief to his own son. God was glorified in not showing compassion to Jesus so that his compassion could be multiplied to the nations.

God is vitally concerned about his glory, about humanity recognizing him for who he is. This includes the people around us, observing us as we wait for deliverance. It also includes we who wait. Waiting on God is the essence of faith.

We shouldn’t be surprised. After all, Jesus didn’t get relief when he requested it. He didn’t get relief at all. The greatest display of God’s glory (the cross) involved God refusing relief to his own son. God was glorified in not showing compassion to Jesus so that his compassion could be multiplied to the nations.

This blog was written by Andy Styer

Posted on September 16, 2016 and filed under Devotions.

Westminster Shorter Catechism #89

Q: How is the word made effectual to salvation?
A: The Spirit of God makes the reading, but especially the preaching, of the word, an effectual means of convicting and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith, unto salvation.
2 Timothy 3:15-17 And how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Jesus gave us a simple formula for Christian discipleship. Matthew 28:19 records the words of our Lord as he said, “therefore go and make disciples of all nations”. Now, too often, we act like that's all Jesus said. We hear the “great commission”, but we tend to neglect the instructions on how to carry out that commission. But Jesus did tell us how to “make disciples”. He continued, “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

What Jesus gave his disciples, and what he gives us today, is a simple “Word and Sacrament” ministry. Preach the Word and administer the sacraments (baptism here in the “Great Commission”, but as we see the New Testament church grow and thrive, we see that the sacrament of the Lord's Supper was and is just as vital to discipleship). Over the next several weeks, we're going to examine this “Word and Sacrament” ministry and see how it is truly effective for the spread of the gospel and for Christian discipleship.

This week and next, we will look at the ministry of the Word, particularly the preaching of the Word. This week's catechism reminds us that the Holy Spirit uses the reading, and especially the preaching, of the Word of God to convict sinners and lead them to repentance. The Apostle Paul reminds us of the effectiveness of the Spirit's work through preaching in Romans 10:14 when he writes, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”

It's interesting that, as we look at the history of the church from the time of the Apostles forward, the true revivals, the ones with long-lasting effects such as what we see in the book of Acts, or we see in the early centuries of the Church, or in the time of the Reformation, or during the Great Awakening, have all been based around the preaching of God's Word. It's almost as if Jesus knew what he was talking about when he said to make disciples by, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”!

But notice too, that the catechism doesn't just say that the preaching of the Word is useful for conversion, but also for building us up in holiness and comfort. And this is what Paul is talking about in our Scripture reference for the week. The Word of God is not only useful for conversion, but also for “teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete...” In other words, the preaching of the Word is a vital ministry for the whole of the Christian experience. God, through the power of the Holy Spirit working through the ministry of the Word, draws in his elect people, and then uses the same ministry of the Word, again through the power of the Holy Spirit, to conform his people to the image of his Son Jesus Christ. This is why Starr Meade writes,

The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to bring non-Christians to faith in Christ. The Spirit of God also uses the Word of God to cause Christians to grow in holiness. A non-Christian who never hears or reads the Word of God will probably not become a Christian. A Christian who never hears or reads the Word of God will probably not grow in holiness.

This blog was written by Andy Styer

Posted on September 15, 2016 and filed under Teaching.

Worth Reading

James 1:1

Do you come to our gathered worship service expecting God to speak to you through his Word? We encourage you to prayerfully read through the passage that will be preached prior to the service to help you prepare.

 

9/11, History, and the True Story

We will never know, this side of heaven, where 9/11 fits in the larger story God is writing. But our literature and our history testify that it does.

 

Kindness Changes Everything

Kindness is underrated. We equate it with being nice or pleasant, as though it’s mainly about smiling, getting along, and not ruffling feathers. It seems a rather mundane virtue.

But the Bible presents a very different, and compelling, portrait of kindness.

What Does the Bible Say About Transgenderism?

I have not begun to answer all the important questions about pastoral care, counsel, and compassion for the hurting and confused. But with the cultural winds gusting as they are, we cannot assume that Christians—even those in good churches—know what to think about gender or why to think it. Hopefully this brief post, and these three building blocks, can help us ensure the right foundation is in place. After all, the goal is not to build a wall to keep people out, but that God might build up his church in truth and grace that we can welcome people in, calling his image bearers to embrace the life that is truly life (1 Tim. 6:19).

This blog was written by Andy Styer

Worth Reading

Psalm 145

Do you come to our gathered worship service expecting God to speak to you through his Word? We encourage you to prayerfully read through the passage that will be preached prior to the service to help you prepare.

All of these will help prepare you for this Sunday:

God has a name, and he's given it to Jesus

. . . the claim of the New Testament is exactly that: Jesus Christ now bears the name Yahweh. And rather than detract from God’s glory, confessing Jesus as Yahweh magnifies it.

It takes a little bit of work to see this, however. . .

. . . as our God becomes that much more magnificent in the eyes of all, we will offer our praise to him, to his glory.

Singing Helps Us Feel the Gospel

God gave us singing to affect the things we love, to remind us of the things that are most important about what Jesus Christ has done to save us, to redeem us — those things are most important in life. We want to be amazed by those truths.

The Past, the Trinity, and the Community: Reflections on Race and the PCA

If we as a denomination long to delight in racial reconciliation, such truth-telling is required. To put it another way, the PCA needs confession and dialogue in order to live out the implications of our theological commitments. We need these things in order to pursue the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. What’s more, such truth-telling is an outworking of what it means to image our Triune God.

This blog was written by Andy Styer