Tuesday, November 27, 2018




Every Christian goes through dry periods. Every Christian goes through the valley of despair. Charles Spurgeon would suffer from severe bouts of depression, it was said of Spurgeon  by an artist who once tried to paint his portrait “I can’t paint you. Your face is different every day. You are never the same.” To be sure, the most popular preacher in the Victoria era was also one of the most burdened.
Spurgeon owned more than thirty books on mental health. He read about depression, wrote about depression, and suffered from depression. Spurgeon’s letters contain numerous references to his sinking spirits. He often called himself a “prisoner” and wept without knowing why.
“I pity a dog who has to suffer what I have.”

So, how do we deal with these dry times? These times when the clouds roll in and God seems so very far from us. As a counselor, I always tell others that their feelings can’t be trusted. Feelings are like the leaves blowing in the wind. Those who have no anchor are tossed to and fro by their feelings...feelings lie to us...feelings tell us that we have no worth...feelings tell us God does not care about us...feelings tell us that we will never know joy and peace again. 

What I know is that feelings lie. What I know is the anchor that grounds us is truth, the truth of God’s word is the anchor that will keep us moored to the dock. I’m always amazed at how much the Bible deals with our thinking process, like Philippians 4:8 “ Think on these things....” How about 2 Corinthians 10:5  Casting down human reasoning and all knowledge that is contrary to God’s thoughts.  This is how lying feeling are defeated, God’s truth must replace our old thinking patterns and when old thinking patterns are challenged and changed our feelings follow. 

Fellow Christian keep battling on. Keep fighting the fight. When those dark clouds of depression roll in flee to the one who is true and let his voice through the Scriptures be your anchor.

























Friday, February 9, 2018

The Inevitability of Sorrow



Everyone will suffer a broken heart sooner than later in life. We have all experienced the sting of emotional pain and sorrow. Fay Weldon expressed the inevitability of sorrow quite well when she said, “there's no such thing as old age, there is only sorrow”. Well maybe Miss Weldon overstated the degree of sorrow, but we can all agree that sorrow will find us sometime in this life.

Sorrow and happiness have to be understood from a Christian perspective. There is no other worldview that can make sense of pain, sorrow and the attainment of happiness in this life; it is only the Christian worldview that offers a satisfying answer.

Philosophers and men of all walks of life have struggled with the question, if God is good why do we have pain and sorrow in this life? Why does God allow men to suffer? We hear from Leo Tolstoy’s character Anna Karenina who once said, “I’m simple unhappy. If anyone is unhappy, I’m.” We can all identify with Tolstoy’s character, Anna, to some degree; for we have all tasted the same pain and sorrow expressed by Anna Karenina.

We can see this sorrow and suffering in the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis. We have the scene set: Adam and Eve are placed in perfect surroundings. They have all their needs met by the creator Himself. They enjoy each other’s love, warmth, and friendship. They have all the food they will ever need and they don’t even have to run to the supermarket to get it. It’s all right there. They have all of creation right in their back yard and the best thing of all they are in perfect fellowship with the God of creation.

We all know the story. Both husband and wife disobeyed the Creator’s direct command not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and baam, it all starts to unravel. Their relationship with God is estranged. The perfect paradise now becomes thorns and weeds. Adam and Eve are now estranged from each other. For the first time in their lives they experience sorrow. We do see God’s mercy and grace immediately, for God makes atonement for them. He provides a covering for them. Adam and Eve did what all mankind has been doing from day one --- they tried to fix the sin problem, the sorrow problem, on their own. They sought to make a covering for their sin with fig leaves, but God would not have it. Instead of Adam and Eve running to God, they ran from Him and sought their own remedy for their sin.

If we pay attention to our lives, and the lives of others, we find out that at the core of all existence is the desire to be happy. The problem is that man has followed in the same path as Adam and Eve. The truth is that man is not happy at his core and is still trying to find his own remedy for happiness. Just like Adam and Eve, man is not running toward God, but running away from God. This running away from God is the root of all man’s pain and sorrow.

How Man Seeks Happiness.

What seems to be an easy solution has eluded man from the beginning of time. Jesus gave us the path to happiness in his Great Sermon called The Beatitudes. In it, Jesus tells us that true happiness is gained by being poor in spirit. When man comes to the point that he realizes that happiness cannot be found inside himself or from anything in this world, he starts down the path to find what Jesus Christ can offer --- and that is life, abundant life. The paradox is when a man becomes poor, when a man senses his own sin --- it’s then when God’s conviction makes him feel poor, he can look to the provision that God has provided and that is the cross of Christ.

Instead of man becoming poor in spirit and looking to the One who can heal his brokenness, he gropes in the dark for an elusive happiness. Some seek this happiness in the Epicurean way. Sensual pleasure becomes for them the goal of life, but at the end it does not satisfy. Some seek happiness in their religious institutions, but in the end it does not bring happiness. Still, others seek fulfillment in philosophy and higher education but, again, it turns out to be a dead end. Christianity offers hope and fulfillment now and in the life to come. The Holy Scriptures offer the most precious of all hopes and promises: the hope that God will wipe away every tear from our eyes and we will never again know pain or sorrow (Revelation 21:4).

The world’s way to happiness and God’s way to happiness are certainly antithetical. The world is fixated on happiness and there are all kinds of voices ever present, calling out, telling us how to find happiness .Today, the smorgasbord of choices on ways to be happy abound. How happiness is defined by these many voices is different. For example BJ Gallagher and Mac Anderson in their book, Road to Happiness speak about happiness in this manner:

“Many of us tie our happiness to external factors…Or feel on the short-end of the stick when comparing our lives to those of other people. But, sometimes, appearances can be deceiving. In fact, freeing ourselves from perfection can be one of the keys to being happy with who we are. The truth is, if you can’t find happiness inside yourself, you’ll never find it in the outside world, no matter where you move. Wherever you go, there you are. You take yourself with you. This is the essence of happiness—learning to find inner contentment in any situation”.

Does the history of mankind teach us that man can be happy by simply finding happiness inside of himself? Is happiness really down in there somewhere and we just can’t find it? Or is happiness really just not there. Here’s the big question: Can man be truly happy and fulfilled apart from being in fellowship with his creator? This is where the Christian worldview comes in and speaks to the idea of happiness.

Think of man this way: He’s a created being was created with a purpose and that purpose was to glorify his creator and enjoy him forever. Apart from man fulfilling that purpose, he will never be happy. Man trying to be happy apart from his creator is like the man who lives his life in the cold, gray, darkness of self delusion; happiness will always be just a concept, a cloud, which he can never capture without being born into God’s Kingdom.


The Battle of the Mind

One can’t read through the New Testament without soon coming upon instructions on what to think and how to think. The Apostle Paul tells us that we are to literally cast down any imagination in our thought life that would be contrary to the knowledge of God. We are to have our thoughts trained to be in accordance with the very thoughts of God, as contained in His divine revelation, as found in the Holy Scriptures. The Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:15, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

The human mind and heart are battlefields. The description of the heart and mind of man, as given by the prophet Jeremiah paints a bleak picture. Here’s what Jeremiah, says of the condition of the heart: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (vs. 17:9)

The thoughts of God are high and pure. Every word of God is pure; he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him (Proverbs 30:5). When we train our thoughts to think God’s thoughts, we are lifted up and we work holiness into the very fabric of our being. We are commanded as Christians to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly in wisdom (Colossians 3:16). We see how far the world is from being happy and fulfilled in this life without being connected to God. The very thoughts and ideas of the natural man are wedded to the things of this life and rise no further than his carnal lusts and desires, but oh what a blessing the child of God has, he has the very words of the creator living inside him.

Albert Mohler sums up the life of the mind very succinctly in The Glory of God and the Life of the Mind when he says:

“In the end, Christianity honors the life of the mind, not because it celebrates the power of human intellect, but because Christ himself instructed Christians to love God with heart, soul, and mind. The fact that God would command that we love him with our minds indicates in a most profound and unmistakable sense that our Creator has made us to know him in order that we would love him and to seek his glory above all else. Understood in this light, our intellectual capacity and the discipleship of the mind are to culminate in the development of a Christian worldview that begins and ends in the glory of the self-revealing God of the Bible.”



The Good News

What is this good news? Where is this good news to be found? The good news is how man can find happiness and fulfillment and reconnect with God. I used the word reconnect because of the estrangement that has taken place by the fall. The Bible tells us “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We also read in the Scriptures that our sins have separated us from God (Isaiah 59:2).

The good news is that although we are estranged from God, although we are separated from God and although we have fallen short of God’s standards, He has provided a way for our sins to be forgiven and for our alienation to be made right. God has provided reconciliation for all who believe in His Son as their only hope of salvation.

The answer to all life is found in the person of Jesus Christ. On more than one occasion Jesus would ask, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is…But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:13,15) This is the one answer that we don’t want to get wrong: our life now and our eternal destiny depend on how we answer.

Where do we go to find the answer to this life or death question? There is only one source for that information, and that is the truth propositions as found in the Holy Scriptures as to who Jesus is. Now this truth can be found in the preaching of pastors, in books, and in others proclaiming the good news, but the source of their information was gotten from the Holy Scriptures. Martin Luther, the Great Reformer, said this about the importance of the Holy Scriptures:

“The neglect of Scripture, even by spiritual leaders, is one of the greatest evils in the world. Everything else, arts or literature, is pursued and practiced day and night, and there is no end of labor and effort; but Holy Scripture is neglected as though there were no need of it. Those who condescend to read it want to absorb everything at once. There has never been an art or a book on earth that everyone has so quickly mastered as the Holy Scriptures. But its words are not, as some think, mere literature (Lesewort); they are words of life (Lebewort), intended not for speculation and fancy but for life and action. By why complain? No one pays any attention to our lament. May Christ our Lord help us by His Spirit to love and honor His holy Word with all our heart. Amen.”

The good news of the Gospel is that it offers us eternal life now. The Gospel tells us that Jesus’ promise of peace is for this life now (John 14:27). Think about that offer of peace from the second person in the Trinity as you are going through the most painful of life’s experiences.
In the deepest of sorrows and pains in this life we have the offer of peace from the Prince of Peace. This peace is both experiential and conceptual. We hold onto and believe the promises of God as found throughout the Scriptures. One of the most prized of these promises that God’s people have loved and cherished down through the ages is found in the book of Romans:

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (8:28).

There is no earthly remedy for sorrow and pain that can stand against this precious promise of God to His people. The promise to God’s people in the midst of their pain and sorrow is that their present circumstances are working for their good, not only now, but for all eternity. We understand that the Christian thinks different; yes, his worldview is the antitheist of this worlds thinking. How could our present suffering and pain be working for our good? How can deep sorrow mean anything other than deep sorrow? Well for the Christian, God is using pain and sorrow to bring His children to be conformed to the image of His Son.

The life of the Christian is not lived unto himself; no, his life is lived to the glory of his creator. The Christian’s life is defined by dying to his own wants and desires, so in dying to himself, he finds his true life in Christ. The good news that the Creator offers man is to come and die to his own wants and desires and find his life in God’s purpose and Divine will. This journey of true blessedness starts at the cross and ends in eternity with all praise, glory, and honor going to the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of all who would believe. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.






















Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Inevitability of Sorrow and the Search for Happiness






Everyone will suffer a broken heart sooner than later in life. We have all experienced the sting of emotional pain and sorrow. Fay Weldon expressed the inevitability of sorrow quite well when she said, “there's no such thing as old age, there is only sorrow”. Well maybe Miss Weldon overstated the degree of sorrow, but we can all agree that sorrow will find us sometime in this life.

Sorrow and happiness have to be understood from a Christian perspective. There is no other worldview that can make sense of pain, sorrow and the attainment of happiness in this life; it is only the Christian worldview that offers a satisfying answer.

Philosophers and men of all walks of life have struggled with the question, if God is good why do we have pain and sorrow in this life?  Why does God allow men to suffer? We hear from Leo Tolstoy’s character Anna Karenina who once said, “I’m simply unhappy. If anyone is unhappy, I’m.” We can all identify with Tolstoy’s character, Anna, to some degree; for we have all tasted the same pain and sorrow expressed by Anna Karenina.

We can see this sorrow and suffering in the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis. We have the scene set: Adam and Eve are placed in perfect surroundings. They have all their needs met by the creator Himself. They enjoy each other’s love, warmth, and friendship. They have all the food they will ever need and they don’t even have to run to the supermarket to get it. It’s all right there. They have all of creation right in their back yard and the best thing of all they are in perfect fellowship with the God of creation.

We all know the story. Both husband and wife disobeyed the Creator’s direct command not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and baam, it all starts to unravel. Their relationship with God is estranged. The perfect paradise now becomes thorns and weeds. Adam and Eve are now estranged from each other. For the first time in their lives they experience sorrow. We do see God’s mercy and grace immediately, for God makes atonement for them. He provides a covering for them. Adam and Eve did what all mankind has been doing from day one --- they tried to fix the sin problem, the sorrow problem, on their own. They sought to make a covering for their sin with fig leaves, but God would not have it. Instead of Adam and Eve running to God, they ran from Him and sought their own remedy for their sin.

If we pay attention to our lives, and the lives of others, we find out that at the core of all existence is the desire to be happy. The problem is that man has followed in the same path as Adam and Eve. The truth is that man is not happy at his core and is still trying to find his own remedy for happiness. Just like Adam and Eve, man is not running toward God, but running away from God.  This running away from God is the root of all man’s pain and sorrow.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Dump the Christian Cliches




Today I’d like to deal with Christian clichés that have found room in the Christian church. First, what is a cliché? A quick Google search will tell you that a cliché is a phrase that betrays original thought or a trite, stereotyped expression, usually expressing a popular or common thought or idea that has lost originality, ingenuity and impact by long overuse. Now a cliché can be true or it can be false. I’ll just be dealing with those cliché’s that are false and leave the corny ones for another day.

One phrase that I’ve come across lately is that we are all theologians, it’s just a matter if you are a good theologian or a bad one. I like Titus 2:1 but you must say the things that are consistent with sound teaching. One sentiment you will come across if you’ve been in the church for any time is people don’t need more theology, they just need Jesus. We know the problem with this thinking is that it assumes that we can have Jesus apart from reference to theology or Scripture.

I’ve actually had people tell me that they don’t need all that Bible stuff, and they then tell me that they have Jesus, and that’s all they need. I always reply, which Jesus do you have? The Mormon Jesus, the Jehovah Witness’ Jesus or the prophet Jesus as found in the Koran.

Here’s the great danger in divorcing the person Jesus from the Scriptures…you end up with an idol which makes you an idolater. Now back to those Christian clichés that are false.  They divorce truth from the Scriptures which is always dangerous.

The one cliché that is heard often is let go and let God.  Let go of what? Let God do what? The danger here is that it relieves the Christian of any sense of duty or action that God tells him to take. For instance the Bible tells us to flee fornication, see (1Corinthians 6:8). The list goes on how we are commanded in Scripture to stop, start, or flee sin. How about, let him that stole steal no more, (Ephesians 4:28).  Do you see that the let go and let God has no Biblical warrant?

Someone might say, well we should let go of our worry and let God take care of whatever you are worrying about. That might work, but even here if someone is doing things that cause their worry they are responsible to get that area straight before God.

How about this one: God hates the sin, but loves the sinner. We really need to rethink this erroneous cliché. We are quick to tell those in sin that God loves them, but hates their sin. This may give non-believers a warm, fuzzy feeling but it is not true. The sin of the sinner cannot be separated from his person. Sin is not some abstract entity, no; sin is the very fabric of who the sinner is.

My theological concern is that the cliché is doctrinally ambiguous. It makes it sound as if God is only angry at some abstract entity, but God is angry with the sinner, see Psalm 7:11
 God is angry with the wicked every day. Sin is inextricably tied to persons…at the second death when the unbeliever is thrown into the lake of fire it will not be just his sin, no, it will be the sinner who will be thrown into the lake of fire.


Instead of telling the sinner that God hates their sin but loves them, share the gospel with them. The good news that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners from God's wrath.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Real Battle is Within









To borrow the words of the Apostle Paul the Christian life is a fight. Why? What are we fighting? Well, it not so much what, but who are we fighting. I think any Christian who has journeyed long enough knows that the battle is inside of him. The battle, the real war is not outside somewhere, but in his very being, in his own mind and heart.

Let me define the battle for us. This battle cannot be won with guns, and swords. This battle cannot be won at the ballot box or by what political party is in charge. This battle cannot be won by our friends or our families or even us; and this is because the enemy is sin, and sin can only be defeated at the cross.

The Bible from front to back tells a story of how man fell. From Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden to the final uprising of man in the book of Revelation we see man is in a bad way. Some of the language used to describe man throughout the Bible is really quite disturbing. Jeremiah tells us that the heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). Jesus said from within the hearts of men come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder and adultery (Mark 7:21).

The Christian knows this battle all so well. The fight can be tiring at times and frustrating. Just when you think you have a victory up comes that ugly old man reminding you that you will need God’s grace until the Captain of the battle calls you home for final rest. Recall the words of Jahaziel as he encouraged King Jehoshaphat; do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s (2 Chronicles 20:15).

Think about that. Think about what the Apostle Paul said when he humbly confessed that when he is weak Christ is strong (2 Corinthians 12:10). Paul even delighted in his weaknesses. Why would anyone delight in their weaknesses? Well, Paul found out that when he was helpless against sin, and that sin was much bigger and stronger than his will to fight it, he realized at that moment that Christ was big…that Christ was strong, oh what a blessing Paul discovered.

Scottish pastor Robert Murray McCheyne left us with on quote that has become quite famous, and for good reason. It goes like this: “For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ.” This quote is short and will sticky and it can keep us from discouragement and tiring in the fight against our own sin.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Social Justice Gospel in no gospel at all.




Something has been galling me of late, and that is the Social Justice Warrior gospel that is now pervasive in our modern church culture. This movement is not new, the phrase “social gospel” is usually used to describe a Protestant Christian intellectual movement that came to prominence in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
"Those who adhered to a social gospel sought to apply Christian ethics to social problems such as poverty, slums, poor nutrition and education, alcoholism, crime, and war. These things were emphasized while the doctrines of sin, salvation, heaven and hell, and the future kingdom of God were downplayed" (got Questions?org). Let us be clear, Jesus did not come to help us get along or teach us to take care of the poor or to restore ‘social justice’. To some, this assertion is a bold stroke, since they have been told just the opposite. When we view the gospel and the mission of the church as just restoring social justice we are left with a different gospel than the Apostle Paul preached. Paul even said, "but though we or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let them be accursed (Galatians 1:8).

These are very strong words by the Apostle. He used the word accursed to be applied to those who preach and teach any other gospel than the gospel that he preached and taught. I'm writing today to proclaim that the Social Justice gospel in "another" gospel than the gospel of the Apostle Paul.

This may come as a shock to some, but Jesus did not come to heal the sick and feed the hungry.
You can eliminate every single thing Jesus ever said in his life about the poor and social justice, and still you will not undermine his main message one bit. The whole of the Old testament's sacrificial system... and all the Old Testament prophets point to One who was to come to feed the hungry...to give sight to the blind, but if this is understood in the physical sense only the gospel is missed.

Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well that the physical water that you drink will quench your thirst for a time, but the water that I give you will quench your thirst for eternity,see (John 4:4-26). Jesus told the crowds after he feed them that you seek me for the bread that is temporal, but Jesus claimed, I'm the bread of life, whoever partakes of this bread will live forever, see (John 6:25-59).

Jesus did heal those with physical maladies for sure, but that is all the Social Justice Warriors see, but the deeper meaning of those physical healings pointed to a spiritual healing that would come in time at the cross...His death, burial, and resurrection. I think the prophet Isaiah sums it best when he prophesied about Jesus' first coming, he said, But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).

God did not send His Son to suffer and die on a cross for social justice, no, He sent His Son to satisfy His justice so that a way could be opened for sinful man to come before Him and be in fellowship with Him for eternity.

Every Christian goes through dry periods. Every Christian goes through the valley of despair. Charles Spurgeon would suffer from sev...