Thursday, December 28, 2017

Will the REAL Mary please stand up? (pt. 2)

Will the REAL Mary please stand up?
"Mary is the test of how well a Christian has accepted the gospel...Our understanding of Mary reveals everything about how we understand Jesus and his saving work." Catholic theologian- 2001.

As we continue the narrative of Mary as found in the Gospel of Luke we need to explain what Mary we are talking about.  Is the Roman Catholic Mary- the Mary of Scripture?

In order to present a fair critique I have read a number of Roman Catholic books.  In his book on Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God; In the Word of God Hahn writes, "I wrote this book so that my fellow Catholics would never be ashamed of their supernatural mother as I was once ashamed of my natural mother when she came to take me home from school."

Later he writes, "If you could have created your mother and preserved her from original sin, would you?  Would you?....Of course, you would!  But could you?  No, you couldn't! But Jesus could and Jesus did!"

On page 161 while flying on a plane Hahn pictured Mary patting me on the head and saying, "Don't worry so much about defending me.  Just love me and love my Son, and where you fall short, WE'LL make up for what you lack."

This Sunday our miniseries on the Biblical Mary continues.  Part one of this series can be downloaded free of charge here.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

God's SIGN of Salvation

Lake Country Bible Church's special Christmas service is today at 10:15 AM; (no adult/children's bible study hour). 

On this Christmas morn will sing/hear some triumphant worship songs and consider Isaiah 7:1-16, "God's SIGN of Salvation."

We are still coming off the afterglow of last night's Candlelight service! Jesus truly is worthy of His name(s). Merry Christmas!

The King of kings/ Salvation brings!
Let loving hearts enthrone Him!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Gift of Gifts in a Year of Countless Blessings

"The Pulpit"
A Gift of Gifts in a Year of Countless Blessings-  Throughout 2017 the Lord has showered me and my family with "grace up grace" of which all we can say is "thank you Jesus!"  One of the most unexpected blessings came to me this year all the way from Bakersfield, California in the form of a "dream pulpit."

Backstory: A few of my closest friends live and serve in "Bako."  Namely, Gabe and Staci Woodward and Pastor Steve Swartz.  Outside of my home church Grace Bible Church is one of my favorite places to worship and preach.  This past year Pastor Steve invited me to come and preach three sermons during a Sunday-Bible Conference.  It was my joy to preach to such a hungry (1 Peter 2:2-3) congregation.  After one of the services I commented to Steve how amazing his "sacred desk" is.  I said it is the nicest and most preacher-friendly pulpits I have ever preached from.  He explained that a member from the congregation custom made it for him.  Special features included "ostrich skin" on the surface of the pulpit to keep one's sermon notes from sliding.

Steve went on to say, "I will introduce you to him so you can let him know how much you enjoy it."  Long story short, this dear brother said he would love to build me (a guest preacher) an exact replica if I would be interested.  Interested? Yes!  But the cost of such a great piece of architecture- not to mention the challenge of getting it from the West Coast to the Midwest seemed insurmountable.  Many months later on August 4th, 2017 my "gift of gifts arrived!"  As I have testified before on this blog Christmas has come early and often for me this year.

The Pulpit-  Two of the most sacred pieces of furniture in any Christian sanctuary are the Communion table and the Pulpit and here's why:  The communion table holds the bread and the cup (which symbolize the body and blood of the Savior, Jesus Church); while the "sacred desk" holds the inerrant Word of God.

The Word-centered Pulpit has been called "the throne for the Word of God."  This fits the language of Scripture where in 1 Peter 4:10-11, the apostle Peter writes,

Friday, December 22, 2017

Candlelight Service 2017

2017 Candlelight Serve at Lake Country Bible Church
A special thanks to all who served last night at our annual Candlelight Service.  It was a Christ-exalting night as we worshiped the true "Light of the world."  It certainly helped me to re-center my own heart around the One who is worthy of His name.

Our evening fellowship was also a real blessing.  I/we appreciate all of you who made this be an extra special night.

Our (Sunday) Christmas service will be at 10:15am (with no Adult Bible Study).  Join us at Lake Country Bible Church

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Will the REAL Mary Please Stand Up? (pt. 1)

Catholic's "venerate" Mary above all "saints."
With their being over 1 billion Catholics worldwide evangelicals cannot speak of Mary without qualifying what “Mary” they are talking about.  Hence our current series, "Will the REAL Mary Please Stand Up?"

During this series we will ask and answer the following questions:  Is it appropriate to "venerate" and to "sing and pray" to Mary?  Is it unbiblical to refer to her as “OUR mother?”  “The second Eve?”  “The new Ark of God?”  “The dispenser of all graces?”  “Our intercessor?”  “The Holy Queen of heaven?”  "The comforter of the afflicted?” & as “our Co-Redemptrix?

I recently read Catholic apologist Scott Hahn's book, "Hail, Holy Queen:  The Mother of God in the Word of God."  All of these titles are found throughout Roman Catholic literature.  Should evangelicals "devote themselves" to Mary as Pope John Paul II did?  

We also need answers to these questions:  Was Mary SINLESS  Did she remain a virgin (AFTER the birth of Christ)?  Was Mary taken up to heaven like Enoch, Elijah, and Elisha were? Most importantly, can you defend your position from Scripture?  Do your doctrinal convictions rest in the authority of God’s Word alone; OR are they deeply rooted in tradition and in the decrees and pronouncements of men?

Should Protestants distance themselves from the biblical Mary?  If not, how would God have us view her today?

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Men's Leadership Training and Discipleship

2017-18 LCBC Men's Leadership 
Once a month a band of brothers gathers together for fellowship, biblical instruction, and small group time.

This Saturday we hope to come together for super session #4.

Our men will have read chapters 6-7 in Steve Lawson's "Made In Our Image: What Shall we do with a 'User-Friendly' god?"  Chapters 5-6 of MacArthur's, "the Master's Plan for the Church."  Chapters 7-8 in Stuart Scott's, "The Exemplary Husband (plus the workbook)."  And chapter 6 of Timothy Witmare's "The Shepherd-Leader: Achieving Effective Shepherding in Your Church."

Please pray that God would use this ministry to make us more Christ-like leaders and more faithful men of God.  Ephesians 3:21

The 3 Key Words of Biblical Prophesy

Let's keep it real.  Prophesy and Eschatology can be difficult subjects to grasp.  As such, American evangelicals are tempted to not study large portions of sacred Scripture. 

This particular sermon tries to summarize Biblical Prophesy in 3 words.  These three words highlight two essential concepts. 

If you understand this message you will understand the crux of biblical prophesy and eschatology (the study of end times).  This sermon can be downloaded here   

If you choose to ignore these three key words you'll likely view prophetic Scripture as a 'riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma."

If one believes that all Scripture is inspired and profitable (per 2 Timothy 3:15-17) then WE MUST TEACH THE WHOLE BIBLE.  To ignore the Old Testament is not an option.  To avoid eschatology and prophesy is not right either.  Hence this current series at Lake Country Bible Church.

On September 17 we will also begin a new series during the 9am Sunday School hour on Rediscovering Biblical Manhood and Woman in view of the contemporary issues of the day.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Method to My (Expository) Madness: Pulpit Goals in 2017

Year in Review
For many months my faithful predecessor Sal Massa worked tirelessly through the sacred text of Revelation.  Unfortunately, he was unable to complete his verse-by-verse expository series of Scripture's final prophesy before his retirement in April of 2017.  In order to not leave the faithful flock at LCBC hanging- I decided to resume this expository series in Chapter 19, in large part, because the end of the story is the very best partJesus always seems to save the best for last, doesn't he?!? (note John 2 and Rev. 20-22)  Before launching into Revelation ch. 19f the Spirit has directed my steps in some unexpected ways.  I believe this falls under the banner of Proverbs 19:21 and 16:9, Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.  The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.

Pulpit Goals and Year in Review:  I began my new ministry with a stand alone sermon on "Satan's Strategies Against Christ's Church" wherein I lovingly warned the good people of LCBC of a few of Satan's sinister schemes.  In short, the Evil One would love to divide LCBC into various factions- "I am of Massa," "I am of Kolstad" (1 Cor. 3), etc.  I reminded the flock that Word-driven pastors are nothing more than "stewards" and "servants of Jesus Christ."  Jesus is the Lord of the Church and His inerrant Word is the final authority. Satan would also love for us to drift away from our biblical mission (note carefully Eph. 4:11-16; Col. 1:28-29; Matt. 28:18-20) and to alter the depth and direction of the church.  

In view of this initial sermon, we spent a month pulling apart one of the most important passages in all of ScriptureColossians 1:28-29.  This text reveals what a Biblical Philosophy of Ministry looks like.  These 4 core convictions are non-negotiable and much needed in an American context where "church growth theory" (subtly) dominates the evangelical landscape.  

The 4 components of a biblical philosophy of ministry are- 1) A Christ-centered emphasis;  2) A Teaching-focused church;  3) Leader's and members that are wholeheartedly committed to making mature disciples; (which goes against the trend of producing Heb. 5:12-14 pew fillers)  4) while maintaining the right balance; (i.e. maximum human effort yet total reliance on Him- v. 29).  A biblical philosophy of ministry helps the Lord's Church to stay on target (and to not get caught up in the latest fads- be it "social justice" causes, entrepreneurial methodology, etc).  Every congregation is prone to drift so this was a great passage to anchor my new ministry in.  

During my early months I also preached a summary message of Colossians, that was aptly titled, "HIM we Proclaim: The Sovereign Supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ."  As my family moved from IL to WI I preached a stand alone sermon from Jude 22-23.  This passage charges every believer to "Rescue Souls as 'Ministers of Mercy.'"  

After finally getting my feet underneath me as the new Senior Pastor at LCBC we turned our attention again to the biblical study of prophesy/eschatology; (in effort to demonstrate 'pulpit continuity' between me and my predecessor).  I reminded the flock of God that the main character in the Bible (and Revelation) is the Lord Jesus Christ!  Eschatology is intended to fuel our worship and to encourage persecuted saints to persevere until the end!  As such, it was only appropriate for us to study verses 9-14 and to passionately proclaim "Worthy Is the Lamb That Was Slain."  

Next, I summarized Revelation 6-18 and the coming Tribulation in two sermons.  In this vein, I preached a message titled, "Christ Our Propitiation and the Future Wrath of God" (Rev. 6-18/1 John 4:10) and another called, "Angels We Have Heard on High Tribulation Remix" (Rev. 14:6-11).

In August I preached a few overview sermons of Revelation knowing that the larger Body of Christ is quite divided over the finer intricacies of eschatology/prophesy; (all believers agree in the 2nd Coming of Christ and long for heaven).  I called these macro messages "Revelation Pop Quiz" parts 1 and 2.  I preached these sermons to ensure that everyone was on the same page before launching into the depths of Revelation 19-22.  

This brief review brings us full circle to a final foundational series that I started back in September 2017.  Before resuming the action in Revelation 19, which highlights "the Return of the King," I hoped to accomplish two things.  1) I desired to make an airtight (biblical) case for futuristic premillenialism (which is the doctrinal position of LCBC).  2) I also wanted to show the practical and theological benefits of studying prophetic Scripture.  Prophesy charts pundits need to be reminded of this.

I stated that the Biblical Case for Futuristic Premillennialism is supported by Seven Lines of Reason:

It's- 1) The Fruit of a Consistent “Hermeneutic.”

“Hermeneutics” is 'the study of the principles and methods of interpreting the text of the
Bible as to ascertain the original intent of the Divine/human authors of Scripture.'  
Note my sermon on 2 Timothy 2:15 and our message on the "3 Key Words of Biblical Prophesy." 

2) The Unconditional Promises in the Biblical Covenants.

Per my messages on the great Abrahamic Covenant (here and here) and the regal Davidic Covenant (here, here, here and here).  Our study of Luke 1 will eventually highlight the promises of the New Covenant (note Jer 31).

3) The Hope of the Old Testament Saints and Prophets.
Per my exposition of Hosea 3.  

4) The End Times Teachings of Jesus Christ
See the Revelation of Jesus Christ as unveiled in the book of Revelation (note also passages such as Matthew 23:37-39; 24-25).

5) The Progressive Revelation of the New Testament.
Note my recent expositions Luke 1.

6) The Unified Testimony of the Early Church.
Forthcoming Sunday School lesson.

7) The Invisible Hand of Divine Providence (throughout the ages).

Forthcoming Sunday School lesson.

In recent weeks we have gone, line-upon-line, through the opening chapter of Luke's gospel.  I felt compelled to do this for two simple reasons:  I) Because the "Song of Mary" and "the Prophesy of Zacharias" are rooted in the Old Testament covenants and look ahead to what John reveals in Revelation 19-22.  2) Because providentially we moved into the month of December.  Experience has taught me that American Evangelicals enjoy "Advent" themed sermons around Christmas time.  Luke 1 is a timeless treasure trove of truth related to the birth of the long awaited Messiah and the Savior of the world.  Plus, the Messianic titles, "Son of Abraham," "Son of David," connect the New Testament with the Old (and further demonstrates the relevance of our series on the grand covenants of Scripture). I felt staying in Luke 1 was a win/win situation.

In God's good timing we will eventually dive headfirst into the text of Revelation 19 and work through the conclusion of this great prophesy, verse-by-verse.  Until then, buckle your seat belts and enjoy the journey!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Who Am I? & God's Original and Marvelous Design for Manhood and Womanhood (2 Sam. 7 and Gen. 1-3)

On October 29th I provided biblical instruction from Gen. 1-3 concerning "God's Original and Marvelous Design for Manhood and Womanhood."  During our Sunday School sessions I try and share numerous illustrations of "these are days of our life" under the banner of "the worldly world" and "the compromised church."

This is a relevant series because so many professing evangelicals have embraced the so called 'wisdom of the world' especially in the arena of God's design for men and women and gender/sexuality matters.  The Church today needs to know what they believe and why they believe what they believe lest we compromise the truth on the alter of "relevance and progress."  The largest megachurch in our area has gone down this very path and the ripple effect is still being felt around the entire metro-Milwaukee area.

During the worship service I concluded our four part series on the David Covenant.  One cannot rightly appreciate the N.T. Gospels or the book of Revelation if they do not have a good grasp on the grand covenants of Scripture. Chiefly, the Abrahamic, Davidic, and New Covenants.  The title of this sermon is "Who Am I?"  This exposition of 2 Samuel 7:18-29 highlights the Believer's proper response to the covenant promises of God.

For Further Reflection/Application:
Spend some time this week reflecting on past mercies, present blessings, and future promises!  Write this list down and spend time in prayer and praise! (use 2 Sam. 7:18-29 as an example)

If we set our hearts and minds upon the God’s promises with greater regularity how would it impact our daily lives? How would it help us to cope with the difficult trials and tribulations of this present world? How should it impact our prayer lives? Our worship? Our time in the Word?

"I'm Just Not Getting Much Out Of My Preacher's Sermons..." (pt. 2)

What's a Christian to do if they are just not getting much out of their preacher's sermons In some cases, it may be helpful to share this loving concern with one's pastor.  If you choose to do this, provide a few specific examples to help your shepherd understand more specifically where you are coming from.  Do this with humility and bathe everything in prayer (Prov. 3:5-6). Having said that, before setting up such a meeting you should acknowledge that the difficulties your experiencing may reside as much in your own heart/mind, or in your own unrealistic and/or unbiblical expectations, as it does in the human mouthpiece of the Word (note 1 Peter 4:10-11).  One must evaluate each situation on a case by case basis.  Of course in many real world situations the matter is both/and rather than either/or.

Biblical humility should temper your criticisms with the honest acknowledgement that your pastor has invested 4-8 years of his life via bible college and seminary and to countless hours preparing weekly expositions.   I remind myself of this very principle when walking into a medical clinic. Before informing my doctor that "I don't think he's doing his job right and needs to do this or that" I realize that the few hours I spent on Web M.D. does not make me a "subject matter expert" in medicine.  That's not to say we should never question a doctor.  Some medical professionals are really poor in what they do and we would be foolish to not get a second opinion (or to find another doctor all together).

In this vein, if your preacher has not received received adequate ministry training he may need to "go back to school" before assuming such a huge responsibility as is feeding the flock of Christ (see John 21).  Note Clint Archer's helpful article on "should men go to seminary before leading the church of Christ.".

Having said that, those in the pew should be humble enough to listen to their pastor's thoughts knowing that he's likely spent hundreds of hours reading books on expository preaching, has invested thousands of hours listening to classroom lectures on theology, hermeneutics, counseling, Scripture, and homiletics, and probably benefits from many of the same well known preachers that you do.  What Christian doesn't love the preaching ministries of Alistair Begg, Steve Lawson, and John MacArthur?  

On this note, one of the present dangers of the internet and the proliferation of "celebrity pastors" is that some Christians expect their local church preacher to sound just like you fill in the blank; not realizing that God does not give "five talents" to every servant (Matt. 25:14-30) and has given each individual a unique personality/style.  If your preacher does not herald the Word as well as John MacArthur (join the camp), this does not mean that this brother has not been called to the ministry.   All believers are expected to be faithful stewards of the talents that have been sovereignly dispensed on them by the Lord of the Church (see 1 Cor. 12-14; 1 Pet. 4:10-11; 1 Tim. 3:1f).  In this same vein, if you expect your praise leader(s) to sing like Matt Boswell or Chris Tomlin, or to write arrangements like Fernando Ortega or Bob Kauflin, you are setting yourself up for being a church member who is never content.  Be biblically realistic and remind yourself that the power ultimately resides in the Word of God not in the heralds of His Word!

Monday, December 11, 2017

"I'm Not Getting Much Out of My Pastor's Sermons!" (pt. 1)

photo credit:
What's a Christian to do if they are just not getting much out of their preacher's sermons In some cases, it may be helpful to humbly share this concern with one's pastor.  If you do this, provide a few specific examples in order to demonstrate the "head to heart" disconnect.  Do this with grace and humility and commit the matter to prayer.  This kind of prayer plea is surely welcomed by the God of the Word who longs for His people to grow and mature in the faith through the public preaching ministry of the Word (Col. 1:28-29; 2 Tim. 3:15-4:5).  God also wants (we) pastors to grow and develop so that our spiritual "progress might be evident to all" (1 Tim. 4:15).  Assuming that the specific criticisms that you have are biblically valid, extend grace by giving your minister time to grow and develop accordingly.  In some cases, you may need to leave and find a new local church that regularly offers MEAT (as opposed to MILK) per the admonition found in Hebrews 5:12-14 and 2 Timothy 4:3f.

Having said that, before setting up such a meeting you should acknowledge that the problem may reside as much in your own heart as it does in the human mouthpiece of the Word (note 1 Peter 4:10-11).  James 1:19 says "Let everyone be quick to hear and slow to speak."  The context of this statement is a believer in relation to the Word of God (note also James 1:22f).  Before judging or setting up a meeting to voice our concerns we should first examine our own life and heart in the spirit of Matthew 7 and Galatians 6.  

In the past decade a few helpful resources have been written on the subject of expository listening.  These are welcome additions as thousands of books have been written for preachers; (My favorite's preaching resources are Preachers and Preaching, Rediscovering Expository Preaching; Famine in the Land; He is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World; and Between Two Worlds). 

Saturday, December 9, 2017

December 10th Worship at Lake Country Bible Church

This Sunday's worship service will feature the LCBC kids choir, many great Christmas hymns, our India short-term missions trip commissioning, and an exposition of Luke 1:26-36; "The Christ-Child's Matchless Superiority." 

 During Sunday School we will continue our study on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood in a Post-fall universe. SS starts at 9am and the worship service at 10:15am. Come let us Adore Him!  #LakeCountryBibleChurch

    "Fullness of grace in Man’s human frailty
    This is the wonder of Jesus.
    Laying aside His power and glory
    Humbly He entered our lost world.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Is Seminary Really Necessary Before Assuming Leadership in a Local Church?

D. Min lecture with Dr. MacArthur at TMS
Why Seminary? Is formal bible training really necessary before becoming a Lead Pastor at a local church?  Though there are a select few exceptionally gifted and uniquely committed, self-taught, Preacher-Pastor/theologians... such as the brilliant Spurgeon and D.M. Lloyd-Jones. In general, those called to preach (see 2 Tim 2:15; Titus 1:5f) should receive the highest level of seminary training available to them. Would you undergo surgery from a surgeon who hasn’t been to medical school? Why not?

James Montgomery Boice said if he knew Christ were returning in 4 years he’d instruct young men to spend 3 years in intense pastoral training (seminary) and only then preach!  Too much is at stake and church history has too many examples of well intentioned (unprepared) pastors, teachers, and evangelists who failed the Colossians 1:28-29 mandate because of sloppy exegesis and faulty interpretations. Good communication skill alone is not enough. Clint Archer makes some helpful points in his article posted below.

Here's a snippet of Archer's blog post, "The question of whether seminary is necessary is one that perennially resurfaces among those who sense the urgency of the need to preach and feel compelled to dive right in, but also understand the benefit of thorough training, and want guidance about the balance.

Monday, December 4, 2017

A Pastor's Worst Nightmare: Lessons From Acts 20

a Pastor's Worst Nightmare: Lessons from Acts 20.
After spending many years in Ephesus the Holy Spirit prompts the Apostle Paul to move on to new places of ministry service.  Before leaving, Paul charges the lay elders to protect the flock from error and half truth, to faithfully proclaim the whole counsel of God, and to lovingly care for the congregation (as he had).  In short, they were to imitate his faithful example! (1 Cor. 11:1)

As a faithful shepherd Paul hit the ground the running when the Spirit led him to Ephesus.  "From the first day" (Acts 20:18a; Col. 1:29) he shed "blood, sweat, and tears" for the sake of Christ and for the "edification of the church."  For the sake of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15), Paul was willing to "suffer hardship as good Christian soldier (2 Tim. 2:1-3; Acts 20:19, 23).  As a Word-dominated preacher, Paul "did not shrink from declaring ANYTHING that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house" (Acts 20:20).  Paul did all of these things as a steward realizing that he would give an account one day to Christ for all of these pastoral functions (Acts 20:24; Heb. 13:17; 1 Cor. 3).

Having faithfully served the church at Ephesus Paul could say that "he was innocent of the blood of all men."  In other words, he had taught them, discipled them, and cared for them in such a way that his conscience was clear and his hands were clean as he prepared to sail into new ministry waters.

In verses 27-38 Paul expresses what could be described as "a Pastor's worst nightmare."  Having given his all to advance the cause of Christ by establishing a strong, Word-dominated church presence in Ephesus Paul feared what might happen after he left themCompromise and mission drift is a major concern of every minister of the gospel who is led to retire or transition to a new ministry setting.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Worship at Lake Country Bible Church- December 3rd, 2017

    Lake Country Bible Church
    Join us this Sunday at 9am. We have a great nursery, plus Bible classes for children, teens, and adults. During our 10:15am worship service we will continue in Luke's gospel and consider "Striking Similarities Between Two Miraculous Births;" (Luke 1:26-38). We will also begin to sing some of the best worship songs of the season.  "At His feet we humbly fall, crown Him, crown Him, Lord of all!"

Sunday, November 26, 2017

November 26th, 2017- God's Loving Discipline & Gospel Grace

A rendition of Zachariah in the Temple in Luke 1:5-25
During our Lord's Day worship service we will continue our verse by verse trek through Luke 1.  The title of this AM's exposition is "God's Loving Discipline and Gospel Grace."  This final message of three highlights Luke 1:5-25, 57-66 (the birth account of John and the story of Zacharias and Elizabeth). 

In our adult Bible study hour I will highlight various "Points of Agreement between Complementarians and Egalitarians."  Though much divides those who embrace Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and those promote Evangelical Feminism today we also need to know what convictions we share.   In any theological dispute it is helpful to acknowledge any common ground you may have with the opposing point of view.

Post Script- In the weekly sermon handout I try and provide a list of questions for further reflection and personal application (see example below).

For Further Reflection/Application:
Have all of your transgressions and sins been washed clean in the blood of the Lamb?  (Meditate on the wonder of Isaiah 1:18; 53:1-23; and 55:1-3)

What did the preacher mean when he made a distinction between the eternal consequences of sin
and the temporal consequences of sin?

Some/many of the religious friends of Zacharias and Elizabeth assumed their barrenness was a
sign of Divine displeasure (see Luke 1:24-25; last sermon)- when it was not (see Jn 9; Job 1-2).

Having said that, sometimes our trials and difficulties are part of God’s loving correction (note
Hebrews 12:4-11). Do you evaluate your walk with God when the Lord allows trials to come
your way?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Indescribable Gifts: A Thanksgiving and Christmas Meditation

The phone rang.  The believer on the other line asked "If I was busy the rest of the afternoon?"  I explained that I had just come home after our men's leadership class and an outdoor work party at church, but that I was now free.  They invited me to meet them in thirty or so minutes. 

Upon arriving at the designated meeting place my family and I received an over the top gift that simultaneously met a pressing need.  It was one of those presents that you are at a loss for words as to how to express your appreciation.  In moments like this all you can say is, "Thank you, thank you, thank you!"  As the words come out of your mouth you realize that human words do not do justice for such gospel generosity

This real life story serves as a great illustration of 2 Corinthians 9:15 where Paul writes, "But thanks be to God for His indescribable gift."  Other translations say, "But thanks be to God for His inexpressible, unspeakable, too wonderful for words" gift! 

The greatest gift of gifts is the Lord Jesus Christ.  "For God so loved the big bad world that He gave His one of a kind Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).  The eternal Son left the glories of heaven to give His perfect life as a substitutionary  sacrifice for sin (2 Cor. 5:21).  In coming, living, dying, and rising again the Son of God met our greatest need (Romans 3-5).  He paid off our debts.  He satisfied the wrath of God (1 John 4:10).  He brought us near again (Eph. 2:13).

Paul is not exaggerating when He labels this an "indescribable gift." 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

November 12th, 2017 @ Lake Country Bible Church

During our adult bible study I will continue our Rediscovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and contemporary events series.  The title of this eighth lesson is "Judgment, Mercy, and Hope in a Post-Fall Universe." Our primary text is Genesis 3.

In the worship service we will consider part two of the birth narrative of John the Baptist.  The title of my exposition is "O For Grace To Trust You More."  This sermon will cover Luke 1:5-25 (pt. 2).  You can listen to the message here.

After hearing the message I would encourage you to put feet to your faith throughout the week.  The follow portion of our sermon notes might help you do this with greater ease.

For Further Reflection/Application:
How is your prayer life? Is it constant? (1 Thess. 5:16-17; Matt. 26:36-26). Our anemic prayer
lives often expose our sinful self-reliance.

How are trials blessings in disguise? (2 Cor. 12:7-10)

“We have not because we ask not”…and sometimes we ask not because we lack the faith to
believe; (note Matt. 7:7-11).

Scripture also warns of a subtler danger of going through the right motions w/o exercising the
muscles of faith! Compare Acts 12 with Luke 1:18.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

India Missions Focus: Let the Nations Be Glad

"Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn't." John Piper- Let the Nations Be Glad.

"His authority on earth allows us to dare to go to all the nations. His authority in heaven gives us our only hope of success. And His presence with us leaves us no other choice." - John Stott

Would that God would make hell so real to us that we cannot rest; heaven so real that we must have men there, Christ so real that our supreme motive and aim shall be to make the Man of Sorrows the Man of Joy by the conversion to him of many.” - J. Hudson Taylor

"He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose" - Jim Elliot, missionary martyr.

"If I had 1,000 lives, I'd give them all for China."

"God uses men who are weak and feeble enough to lean on him." - Hudson Taylor

It's fall time again in Lake Country, Wisconsin.  This means the changing of seasons, majestic autumn colors, and LCBC's "Blessed to Be a Blessing" offering.  Leadership has determined to use our above and beyond love gift to support various ministry projects in India.  
India has a special place in the heart of LCBC.  Our founding pastor Sal Massa retired, in large part, so he and his wife could devote more undistracted time and energy into helping build up the Lord's Church in India.  In addition to this, multiple groups will be traveling to India over the next few months to come alongside various ministries and native church leaders.  Please prayerfully consider partnering with us this month as we seek to make Christ known among all the people groups of the world.  

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Word to Faithful Believers Who Bear the Weight of Unseen Shame

A Word to Faithful Believers Who Bear the Weight of Unseen Shame.

Sometimes it is difficult to live out our theology in the real world (see Psalm 73).  This is true for pastors as much as it is true for parishioners.  As Bible-believing Christians the Scriptures remind us that church leaders are merely servants and stewards.  Some plant, others water, but true spiritual growth is always God's doing (1 Cor. 3:5-9).   The glory ultimately belongs to Christ for every (truly) "good work" has His fingerprints all over it (Rom. 11:36; Eph. 3:20-21; Phil. 1:6).

When it comes to Christian ministry if a pastor's hidden ambition is to become a "who's who" of Christianity biblical compromise is inevitable.  It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that man-made growth can be achieved by following a series of slick marketing principles, by chasing down the latest ministry fads, and by skillfully implementing (mega)church growth theory.  The vast majority of ministries that are abnormally successful in terms of sheer size, numbers, and finances have succumbed to this (all too common) temptation.  Sadly, the "movers and the shakers" among us often host the major conferences wherein pastors like Hybels, Warren, Ferdick, and Andy Stanley lead other less successful local churches down this well traveled path of pragmatism.  Tragically, mile-wide churches that are an inch deep have become the norm, rather than the exception here in America (see Heb. 5:12-14; Col. 1:28-29; Eph. 4:11-16; and Rev. 2-3).  Spiritually vibrant, theologically sound, Word-driven houses of worship are increasingly difficult to find.  I know this because everywhere I move I hear this testimony among Bible-saturated saints.

It should be quickly noted, with thanksgiving, that there are exceptions to the norm!  For example, Charles Spurgeon, the so called "Prince of Preachers," pastored the largest congregation in the world without compromising the Word of truth.  Spurgeon was a theological heavyweight, a masterful preacher of Scripture, a courageous churchman, an intentional shepherd, a faithful mentor of men, with an evangelist's heart.  Today we think of faithful expositors in the mold of Spurgeon who pastor unusually large congregations; (think MacArthur, Begg, Dever, Pennington, De Courcy, Faberez, and Piper).  We should all be grateful for faithful church leaders who enjoy an unusual measure of ministry fruitfulness!

Having said that, the list of A-list conference speakers at even the most doctrinally sound events, such as Together For the Gospel, seem to suggest that the more gifted you are, the more books you write, the larger your platform will be!  "Ok great.  What's your point?"

The ministry rubber often meets the real-world road when a pastor finds himself serving in a church that is not growing (numerically or financially) like Kevin DeYoung or Matt Chandler.  You might even call this ministry "barrenness.The longer this pattern of numerical stagnation continues the greater shame pastors often begin to feel.  "God's hand of blessing must not be upon that minister."  In some cases, it becomes increasingly difficult for these brother-shepherds to attend pastors conferences wherein "the triumphs of ministry" are frequently recounted  by those who lead "really large and successful" churches.

In America, the temptation to preach shorter and lighter topical sermons, to stop implementing biblical church discipline (contra Matt. 18:15-17; 1 Cor. 5), to gloss over controversial subjects (such as same sex marriage, the holiness and wrath of God), to turn the worship service into a emotion-driven concert atmosphere is real.  The good news is that if I am describing your struggle you are not alone.

In the glorious gospel of Luke the Holy Spirit introduces us to a couple named Zacharias and Elizabeth.  This believing remnant of true Israelites are commended for their walk of faith and God-honoring piety in Luke 1:6.  By all accounts Zacharias went against the flow as a faithful priest in what had become a very contaminated religion; (I am referring here to 2nd Temple Judaism; Matt. 23).

Embedded in the details of this wonderful narrative we are told that Zacharias and Elizabeth carried a secret ministry burden

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

9 Marks of a Healthy Church

One of the most helpful books today on the Church is Mark Dever's, 9 Marks of a Healthy Church and it's companion volume, What is a Healthy Church

May all who love the Lord continue to pray for reformation and revival within American Evangelicalism understanding the "judgment begins with the house of God." (see also Jesus' word to 7 Churches in Revelation 2-3)

May we give our best to see the Bride of Christ grow in gospel maturity (Col. 1:28-29)

 I love your church, O Lord!
Her saints before you stand,
dear as the apple of your eye
and graven on your hand.

Beyond my highest joy
I prize her heavenly ways,
her sweet communion, solemn vows,
her hymns of love and praise.

 I love your church, O God,
the people you have called,
the church our blest Redeemer saved
with his own precious blood.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The End of Brutal Tyranny and Savage Tyrants

If you think Hitler or Stalin were the first tyrants in history- think again.  Since sin entered the human race through Adam (Rom. 5) brutal acts of tyranny from power hungry tyrants has brought untold sorrow and grief to the world.  From the merciless Egyptian Pharaoh during the days of Moses (see Exodus 1-11) to Pol Pot, to the present day reigns of Putin and Kim Jong Il.  Evil rulers proceed from bad to worse. 

As such God's people long for the return of the King (see Revelation 22:20)!  We anticipate his return for a slew of reasons.  One reason why we long for the 2nd Coming of Christ is that we know it will usher in a kingdom of righteousness and will eliminate brutal tyranny! 

In the gospel of Luke we're briefly introduced to King Herod the (not so) Great (Luke 1:5).  Herod's bloody reign lasted from 37 BC to 4 BC.  As a Roman appointed ruler Herod's diabolical deeds were somewhat protected so long as he "kept the peace."  As one studies history you find that Herod was a power-hungry, self-serving, brutal yet brilliant, political figure with an insatiable blood lust!

This shrewd snake was so paranoid that he murdered every potential threat and rival (real and imaginary), including his own wife and three sons.  His most infamous act of brutality however was his abortion-esq edict to murder every innocent son of Abraham under the age of two during the early years of the Christ child (Jesus).  Matthew 2 recounts this horrific act of  selfishness and self-preservation.
Tyrants in History

In view of history, past and present, may we continue to pray (Matt. 6:9-10) and long for the Kingdom of God on earth (see Revelation 19-20).  Psalm 2 reminds us of what is yet to come and tells us how we should respond.  Repent; Believe; Worship; and never Lose Heart- for the King of kings shall one day return.  In that day, he will right every wrong and will "smash to pieces" every power-hungry tyrant.  As we enter into Advent season let us sing "Joy to the World" with renewed vigor and passion. And may we continue to pray with the disciples and early church, "Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!"  "Marantha!  Come quickly Lord Jesus, Come!"

PSALM 2- The Reign of the Lord’s Anointed.

1 Why are the nations in an uproar

And the peoples devising a vain thing?

2 The kings of the earth take their stand

And the rulers take counsel together

Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,

3 “Let us tear their fetters apart

And cast away their cords from us!”

4 He who sits in the heavens laughs,

The Lord scoffs at them.

Monday, November 6, 2017

(Understanding) Righteousness In Three Words

Righteousness is an important biblical concept.  As unrighteous people it is difficult to get our arms around the absolute holiness of God (see for example Isaiah 6 or Revelation 4-5).

Pastor John MacArthur provides a helpful summary of this key concept using three words: Law, Grace, and Obedience.

1) Righteousness is defined by Law

You want to know what righteousness is? What it is to be right with God?  Holiness is defined by the Law.  The holy Law of God defines perfect righteousness (see Rom. 7).  Our Creator's holy character is revealed in the righteous Word of truth (see Psalm 119).  As we gaze into God's righteous Law it reveals our many blemishes and moral imperfections (like a mirror). 

We need to be opposed to the light of God's word to not affirm that "there is none righteous, no not one" (Romans 3) and that we "ALL fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23; 6:23).  This leads to a very important question: How are you going to be righteous? 

2)  Righteousness is empowered by Grace

First of all, righteousness is imputed to us by grace and then it's imparted to us by grace (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4). So righteousness is defined by law and empowered by grace.  We can't keep the law and therefore we must throw ourselves on the mercy of God.  His holiness becomes ours through imputation (2 Cor. 5:21).  By and through God's sanctifying grace we are empowered to keep the law of God and grow in godliness. The fruit of faith and love is obedience (Eph. 2:8-10).  This transitions us perfectly into a third key principle.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The God Who Remembers- Nov 5th, 2017 @ LCBC

During the AM worship service we will consider the wonderful account of Zacharias and Elizabeth and the birth account of John the Baptist.  The title of this introductory message is "The God Who Remembers!"  My exposition of Luke 1:5-25 can be found here

A sermon study guide is also available on Lake Country Bible Church's website.  These sermon notes are intended to help us drive home the practical significance of the message.  Scripture says we must effectual doers of the Word (not merely hearers).  It is the Holy Spirit's joy to help God's people grow in the knowledge and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here is a snippet from Sunday's note sheet.

For Further Reflection/Application:
Imagine what it would have felt like to have ministered faithfully as a believer (as Zacharias
and Elizabeth did) without any signs of deliverance or the fulfillment of many O. T. promises.
Do you ever feel discouraged concerning various N. T. and 2nd Coming Promises?
(note 2 Peter 3)

Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man that He should (ever) lie. Has God said, and will He not do
it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” How you answer these rhetorical
questions will not only influence how you live your everyday life it will also determine your
eternal destiny. I say this on the basis of texts like John 3:16-36.

Friday, November 3, 2017

These Entrust to Faithful Men, Who Will Be Able to Teach Others Also!

Lake Country Bible Men's Leadership- Track 1
The response to our men's leadership training and discipleship ministry at Lake Country Bible Church has been humbling and overwhelming both in terms of sheer quantity and in view of spiritual quality. Here is how you can partner with us in prayer.

In our opening super session I asked our band of brothers a series of questions.  A) Such as:  What are you guys thinking with regards to personal expectations and goals?  B) What do you hope to get out of these men’s leadership training and discipleship sessions?  C) Why did you sign-up?  D) Why this investment of sleep, time, and money?  E) In your estimation, what would a successful “class” look like?

Here is how the class answered.  I am confident these desires are of the Lord because they reflect the biblical ideals of Scripture.  Please join in praying that God would accomplish these 12 requests in the spirit of Col. 1:29; 1 Tim. 4:7-8; and Phil. 2:12-13.

1) We want to enjoy deeper fellowship with other brothers in Christ and to develop spiritual comradery.

2) We want to grow in the knowledge of God.

3) We want the Spirit to revive our hearts and to give us a deeper passion for Christ and a greater burden for lost souls.

4) We want the Lord to raise up another generation of Godly, Word-driven, Shepherd-leaders (organically).

5) We want to grow spiritually.

6) We want the Lord to strengthen our marriages and our families.  We want to learn what it means to be “exemplary husbands” that we might truly love our wives as the Lord Jesus Christ calls me to (per Eph. 5:22-33).

7) We hope to receive loving correction (Gal 6) in an individual way via our small group time.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Lake Country Bible Church: Personal Reflections on Our First Year

In twelve years of full-time pastoral ministry my first twelve plus weeks at Lake Country Bible Church have been the most rewarding months of my life (and some of the fullest).  For this, Andrea and I praise and thank the Lord!

Lake Country Bible Church
After nine challenging years of church revitalization, God (still) owed me nothing; for pastoral ministry is always a mercy.   Having said that, the difficult places and low valleys in pastoral ministry often help one to more fully appreciate the 'good times' and mountain peaks.  This is certainly true of our recent experience at Lake Country Bible Church.

Though Lake Country Bible Church is not the largest congregation in the area it is one of most hungry, welcoming, loving, and passionate ministries we have ever served in.  Evidence to support this statement abound:  From intentional acts of congregational kindness (1 Thess. 5:12-13); to active ministry involvement (Eph. 4:12; at Lake Country Bible 80% of the church serves in a variety of ministries); to an intense hunger for the pure Word (1 Pet. 2:2; when I accidentally preached for 60 minutes a few months ago I didn’t hear a single word of complaint minus my own); to a gracious compensation package (1 Tim. 5:17-18); to responsive hearts to biblical leadership (2 Tim. 2:2; 1 Cor. 11:1; Prov. 27:17; almost every single adult male signed up for an intense men’s leadership ministry that was recently started); to stirring congregational worship (Psalm 150).  With each passing week our praise list continues to grow!

Every time I speak with my predecessor (and founding pastor) Sal Massa I thank him for the privilege of succeeding him at such a special place. LCBC is not a perfect church (there is no such thing this side of eternity) but it’s certainly a very special church! This is not to suggest that there have not been any trials (for example our home in Illinois remains unsold), but these challenges have been small in comparison with the recent blessings. Andrea and I have repeatedly pinched ourselves when reflecting upon the Lord’s kindness in bringing us to Lake Country.

Monday, October 16, 2017

New- Biblical Manhood and Womanhood Series

New Class Starting 9/17/17
This Sunday all of our children/youth and adult SS classes begin at 9am at Lake Country Bible Church.

In my adult Sunday School class we will begin our "Biblical Manhood and Womanhood" series. 

In this class we'll answer many related questions, such as:  What are the biblical roles and responsibilities of Christian men and women?

What does Biblical manhood entail?

What does Biblical womanhood involve

How can we avoid the unbiblical extremes?

MEN, are we striving to be EXEMPLARY Christian husbands

LADIES, are you striving to be EXCELLENT Christian WIVES?

Single girls, do you know what masculine Christian virtues to look for in a potential future husband?

Single guys, do you know the roles and goals of a potential future wife?

Fathers are we modeling what a loving leader, a sacrificial provider, and a spiritual protector looks for our children?

Mothers, are a model of the commitments and virtues that are set forth in Prov. 31 and Titus 2?

Sunday, October 15, 2017

He Shall Reign Forevermore! (2 Samuel 7; pt. 3 and 4)

On October 15th we continued our series on "God's Original and Marvelous Design for Men and Women."  It is critically important that before we get into the more disputed texts, such as 1 Timothy 2:9-15 and 1 Corinthians 11, that we begin in the VERY GOOD beginning.  Paul himself points to the pre-fall plan of God as the biblical basis of his New Testament instruction.  This adult bible study series complements our men's leadership study of "the Exemplary Husband" and our ladies study of "the Excellent Wife."  These are vitally important issues.  Titus 2 says the testimony of the gospel is at sake!

During the worship service we will continue our exposition of 2 Samuel 7 which is one of the most significant passages in the entire Old Testament.   If you want to understand the New Testament, especially issues related to the end times (eschatology) then we need to know the First Testament.  The title of the morning sermon is "He Shall Reign Forevermore!"

Because I had way too much material for one sermon I preached a second exposition during a special evening service titled, "Follow the Yellow Brick Road All the Way Home."  This journey trace the major themes of 2 Samuel throughout the rest of the Bible.  The Word of God truly is one giant story (a interconnected metanarrative).  Sometimes we miss the forest for the trees.  This message is designed to help us so the grand design of heaven.

In order to help my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ drive home the implications of the inspired text I provide extended notes for further meditation and application (see below). 

He Shall Reign Forevermore sermon notes-

For Further Reflection/Application:
Are you jealous for the honor, glory, and reputation of your great God and King (like David
was)? Provide some examples to support your answer.

The great Covenants must be viewed through a biblical looking glass to see both near and far.  What was meant by this statement? (think back to last week’s “already/not yet” teaching)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

A Forever King & His Everlasting Kingdom (2 Sam. 7)

The Grand Covenants of Scripture
On October 8th, I preached a message titled "The Forever King and His Everlasting Kingdom." 2 Samuel 7 is the foundation of what the final N.T. prophesy of Revelation reveals (note esp. Rev. 19-20).  In this current series I am trying to help my congregation understand how the Grand Covenants of the O. T. is the base upon which the N. T. rests.   In the Old Testament we witness many great "promised made."  In the New Testament we uncover "God fulfilling all of His promises." One cannot fully understand familiar passages, such as Luke 1-2, without understanding jugular texts such as 2 Samuel 7.  It is clear that faithful Jewish teenagers, such as Mary, was firmly grounded in the Old Testament.  Such cannot be said of the Evangelical church today.  By in large we do not know our Old Testament Scriptures which goes against the spirit of 2 Timothy 3:15-4:2.

In the Adult Bible study/SS hour we are looking at God's Original and Marvelous Design for Men and Women (lesson 4). 

In the afternoon we will host my first "new members class" since becoming the new Sr. Pastor at Lake Country Bible Church.

For Further Reflection/Application:
What are some of the main features and promises of the Davidic Covenant? How do we
Gentiles factor into God’s purpose/plan?

“The LORDS’s irrevocable promise to David is reliable and guarantees the realization of His
purposes for His covenant community.” How does this strengthen your faith in God?

Sunday, October 1, 2017

God's Grand Covenant Promises, Israel, and Us (pt. 2)

Firm Assurance
For those who at times lack firm assurance in the promises of God this sermon from Genesis 15 and Hebrews 6 should strengthen our faith. 

This study of the Abrahamic Covenant is critical if we're to rightly interpret the New Testament (including the book of Revelation).

It is recognized by all serious students of the Bible that the covenant with Abraham is one of the
most important revelations of Scripture. This grand promise furnishes the key to the entire Old
Testament and reaches for its fulfillment into the New. In the controversy between pre-mill
proponents and amillennialists, the interpretation of this covenant more or less settles the entire

During the 9:00 Sunday School hour we will continue our study of "God's marvelous design for men and women."  A thematic study of Genesis 1-2.

For Further Reflection/Application:
When is the last time you doubted one of God’s promises?   How did you respond to these internal concerns? Did you take these burdens to God in prayer? What passages of Scripture assured you that everything God promised will come to pass exactly as He said it will?

Meditate on the practical significance of Hebrews 6:9-19a, Psalm 42, and Psalm 73.

What are some of your favorite Divine PROMISES? What about these promises makes them so important to you?

Some promises are meant to be shared not kept a .secret. God’s good promises in Christ are
intended to be shared far and wide.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Abrahamic Covenant, Israel, and Us (pt. 1); Genesis 12/Galatians 3

The Abrahamic Covenant; Genesis 12/Galatians 3
In His grace, God often accommodates our human weaknesses with Divine promises. In so doing, He alleviates our concerns while strengthening our gospel assurance. Personal reflections on Genesis 15. 

Looking forward to Sunday's exposition as we consider another encouraging layer of "God's Grand Covenant Promises, Israel, and Us."  Our exposition will begin in Genesis 12 and will conclude in Galatians 3:13-29.

During the Sunday School hour we will highlight Genesis 2 and explore how men and women are equal in dignity, value, personhood, and worth.

For Further Reflection/Application:
What are some of your favorite PROMISES in the Bible? What about these promises makes
them so special to you? 

How certain are you that all of God’s promises will come to fruition?

Some of my favorite promises for believers are Joshua 1:9; Psalm 37:4; Matthew 11:28,
28:10; Romans 8; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Hebrews 13:5.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

"The Church That Should Have Died"

Photo Credit:
"It looked like the church would die. The charts showed decades of decline. The roof was leaking, the congregation aging, and the former pastor had left in a scandal. The neighborhood was undesirable. There were a few bright spots, but you had to use your imagination to see them. The odds weren't good.

But they called a pastor. The pastor was an academic who had recently earned a Ph.D. from Cambridge. One of his references said that he probably didn't have what it would take to hold the pulpit. The pastor believed he should accept the charge, but he didn't expect that things would change very much. He thought he would stay a few years, pray and preach, and eventually leave to teach in a seminary.

One more wrinkle: in the middle of the seeker-sensitive and Willow Creek era of church, this pastor believed that the church should set the bar high for membership, and reach into the past. He cared more about biblical principles than business principles. He dug out the church covenant and statement of faith and hammered away at Baptist polity. Could a pastor like that swim against the tide and see the church move to health?

I attended that church this past weekend along with 160 or so church leaders. Over twenty years into the experiment, the church is teeming with young people. There's nothing fancy about the church: the pastor says that he aims for a mere church with few accouterments. The worship is simple, the songs old, the preaching long, and the expectations high.

Over a thousand now call themselves members of that church. Not just members, but active members. It’s also become a launching pad for church plants and church planters. They ignore virtually every principle of the church growth movement by holding Sunday School, Sunday morning and evening services, Wednesday midweek meetings, and two-hour member meetings complete with church discipline. They do all of this in an urban setting far from the Bible Belt, and yet they continue to bear fruit.

One of their leaders calls it Jurassic Park. The church looks like a dinosaur, but it's alive. You'd think that such a church would have gone extinct. It's shocking to see it not only alive but thriving.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility?!?!

Lake Country Bible Church is committed to preaching and teaching the whole counsel of God.  Our overarching goal is to bring everything into conformity with the perfect Revelation of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16; Psalm 19).  This includes our doctrinal convictions, our worship, as well as our daily lives (John 17:17; Psalm 119:105-112).  Our theology is built solely on the Word of God because Scripture alone is inerrant, inspired, infallible, and the source of Divine wisdom.  God speaks to us, both of Himself and His truth, through the Holy Bible.

Having said this, not all Scripture is as straightforward as John 3:16 or 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.  Peter makes this very assertion in 2 Peter 3:14-16; “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.” 
Passages such as Romans 9-11, Ephesians 1, and 2 Thessalonians 2 are but a few texts that require greater effort (2 Tim. 2:15) in order to interpret them properly.
The Bible teaches twin truths with regards to God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. Both are equally true.  The absolute sovereignty of God does not lessen or eliminate human responsibility and/or human culpability one iota. 

Concerning God’s absolute freedom to be God passages of Scripture such as Psalm 115:3 remind us, Our God is in the heavens and he does whatever he pleases “As our sovereign Lord, He does always as He pleases, only as He pleases, and all that He pleases.”

In reference to this holy attribute one author writes, “Our God remains incomprehensible and retains His simplicity. He tells us in His Word that He is not a God of confusion but of order. He is not at war with Himself. He is altogether good, altogether holy, and altogether sovereign. This we must affirm to maintain a biblical concept of divine sovereignty. Yet we must always balance this understanding with a clear understanding that God always exercises His power and authority according to His holy character.
He chooses what He chooses according to His own good pleasure. It is His pleasure that He does.  He chooses what is pleasing to Himself. But that pleasure is always His good pleasure, for God is never pleased to will or to do anything that is evil or contrary to His own goodness.

In this we can rest, knowing that He wishes for, and has the power to bring about, all good things for us His children.”  Note also Psalm 103:19; Psalm 66:7; 1 Chronicles 29:12.