Monday, November 18, 2013


All during this holiday season, we will hear the words, “Merry Christmas!”  Yet, for many the hustle and bustle of activity, elbowing through crowded malls, elevating your balance on credit cards into the stratosphere—all this and more will lead some to be more on the mad side than the merry side.  Others will not be mad, but sad—due to a death of a loved one, a disappointment they have experienced, a disease they are struggling with, a dearth of financial resources, or other reasons—and their theme song is, “Blue Christmas.”  None can deny the very real struggles and strain that may arise during this time of year.  Yet, I believe we can still choose to rejoice in our Redeemer’s birth and express it with a sincere, “Merry Christmas!”

How can “Merry Christmas” be more than words?  The first twelve verses of Matthew, chapter two give us insight.

SEEK THE RIGHT PERSON (v.1-2).  The Magi came to seek the Savior.  They met Herod. They heard from some scribes.  There were a lot of important people around—including Joseph and Mary—but the singular pursuit of the Wise Men was the Christ Child.

Little children will be seeking Santa.  For adults, family and friends gathering together is special.  We have to race to this party or that function—grandma’s, our parent’s house, and so on. Just don’t forget that Christmas is about Christ—seeking Him.  If you get that relationship right, the others will take care of themselves.

SEE THE RIGHT PLACE (v.3-9).  The Magi didn’t travel to Rome and Caesar’s imperial palace, and even though they stopped in Jerusalem, they didn’t take time to visit the Temple, and didn’t stay any longer than necessary in the capital.  They came to Bethlehem—that obscure village—because that was the focal point of God’s activity.

Don’t feel like you have to be in the middle of the crowd this December to experience the work of God in your life.  We must not insist on being in a prominent place, but in the center of God’s will for our lives.  Is it possible we might encounter God in a soup kitchen at the homeless shelter?  Might we know more joy in Christmas by spending time with a widow, consoling her in her loneliness?  You might be surprised!

SET THE RIGHT PRIORITY (v.10-12).  The Wise Men worshipped Christ with exceeding joy!  They presented their costly gifts to Him.

If you seek happiness in the holidays as your goal, you may miss it.  Rather, a merry Christmas is a by-product of seeking the Lord Christ.  Remember what Jesus said about priorities?  “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

Merry Christmas!


Friday, November 15, 2013


So Abraham said to the oldest servant of his house, who ruled over all that he had, “Please, put your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell; but you shall go to my country and to my family, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” (Genesis 24:2-4 NKJV)

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.  Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. (1 Cor.4:1-2 NKJV)

Abraham's servant, Eliezer was sent to find a bride for Isaac.  He sets a standard for soul-winners: devoted, dependent, discerning and decisive. We are sent into the world as God's servants to seek those who will become part of the Bride of Christ.

 It will require devotion to our mission—this required much effort on Eliezer's part, but he was a faithful steward to his duty (24:1-11). 

No matter our effort, however, we must be dependent on God's might—Eliezer called on the Lord for aid (24:12-14).

We must be discerning in our motive—Eliezer wasn't out to find just anybody, but was looking for the one God had prepared to receive the appeal (24:15-16).   If we are motivated by just recording a decision, rather than making a disciple, then our motives are wrong.

Then, we must be decisive with our message. When the opportunity presented itself, Eliezer shared his heart, and called for a decision (24:17-28). He conveyed the urgency of the choice (24:29-60) and returned successful in his task (24:61-66) with a bride presented to Isaac.

What an amazing assignment God has given to us, empowered by His Spirit, to be used to summon His Bride into a love relationship with our Lord!

Friday, November 08, 2013

THE SHEPHERD’S STANDARD: The Control of Temper

“A bishop then must be…not given to wine, not violent…” (1 Timothy 3:2,3 NKJV)

Anger is a powerful emotion, and wrongfully expressed becomes a destructive force.  It is the seed of murder.

The pastor must not allow anger to get the best of him—to allow it to lead him to, “fight fire with fire.”  He cannot excuse a disposition toward being hot-tempered with, “That’s just the way I am,” because by the Spirit of God, he no longer is what he once was.

The NASB renders the word, “pugnacious.”  That is, beware the pastor who is always spoiling for a fight.  Doubtless there are things that will properly stir anger, but we must also channel that in a productive way, rather than allow the passion to channel us into igniting a fire that may consume a ministry and even leave a church in ashes. 

People will wrong us—that’s guaranteed.  Do not look to “settle the score.”  Give it to God to handle.  He is qualified to do so, and we are not.

HCSB has this as, “not a bully.”  You can be a bully without being in a literal fist-fight.  A pastor can do it with his words—berating and belittling people from the pulpit and in personal conversation.  It is never appropriate to use the Bible as a club to bludgeon people!

Charles Spurgeon told his Pastor’s College students, “Don’t go about the world with your fist doubled up for fighting, carrying a theological revolver in the leg of your trousers.”[1]

Some of the brethren would be well-served to heed this counsel. 


Lord of Love,
I know that we are in a battle.  Please remind us that our war is not with people, but with the power of the Evil One that moves them to rise up against us.  Help your preachers to never be bullies with a Bible!
In the Name of the One Who Reserves Vengeance for Himself,

[1] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 220). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013


“This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh.  Both the man and his wife were naked, yet felt no shame.”  (Gen.2:24-25 HCSB)

Marriage is a Divine institution.  The first wedding was performed by God.  It is the fundamental building block for society—and God laid the foundation.  As such, He ordained the parameters that make a marriage.  For millennia, there had been few questions about the meaning of marriage, but in our day, the relationships between people and ideas about marriage have become so distorted that the definition of marriage must again be reasserted.

Marriage is meant to be PURE.  We read of this first marriage and see a man and woman standing before each other with no shame.  There was no shame because there was no guilt.  Their relationship was pure.

The modern argument is, “Why, I wouldn’t buy a car unless I took it on a test drive!”  This is used to excuse hooking up, leading to shacking up, when what needs to happen is a guy needs to man up and if he loves a woman, give her a ring, wed her and only then bed her!  People are not cars to be “test-driven.”  Humans have memories and emotions—and all that is done wrong leads to guilt and shame, which rather than enhancing the possibility of a later successful marriage undermines it.  The foundation thus set with lust and not love, getting and not giving—so when the storms come later, as they surely will—the home collapses.

Another polluted way of thinking is, “If two people love each other, why shouldn’t they be permitted to marry?”  This is used to make a plea for homosexual marriage.  Clearly God formed sexual beings—heterosexual beings, male and female—and designed us in such a way that this is the only legitimate expression for marriage.  The physical union and procreation of the species requires a man and a woman.  Both of these are at the core of God’s design for marriage.

Marriage is meant to be PARTICULAR.  Adam and Eve—one man and one woman—were placed in a monogamous relationship.  This was always God’s design, and even though there are instances in the Old Testament where people practiced polygamy, it was never given Divine sanction, and the problems associated with the practice are evident.  Polygamy is something that is looming on the horizon as the next acceptable perversion of marriage, and has been glamorized in the media in recent days.  This is not marriage as God ordained.

Marriage is to be PERMANENT.  The HCSB renders it, “bonds to his wife” and that’s a great picture of the permanent nature of this union.  When you take two pieces of wood and bond them together, if you later try to break them apart, you do not break the bond, you break the wood.  How many broken homes, lead to broken hearts—and children are often the broken pieces when a marriage splinters.  Divorce is so destructive.  We realize that divorce does happen and it is not the unpardonable sin.  There are at least a couple of reasons given when it may be permitted, although it is never demanded.  Jesus said that a marriage break-up is due to the hardness of the heart—at least on the part of one partner, and often both to some degree.  From the beginning, God’s intention was for this institution to be permanent—a lifelong commitment ended only by death.
Marriage is to be PUBLIC.  Note the leaving of father and mother and the bonding of husband and wife—a public commitment is made where all can witness that a new family unit has been formed.  While it is true that Adam and Eve had no human parents, God used the occasion to establish the pattern and teach the principle of the public nature of a marriage commitment.

“It’s only a piece of paper!”  If two people “commit” to each other, then what’s the point of a legal proceeding?  An argument akin to this is, “What right does the government have to get involved in marriage?”

A public commitment is a legal proceeding.  Government has also been ordained by God for the preservation of society.  Government has an appointment by God to promote good and prohibit evil—its primary function.  The state thus should be a benevolent partner to the church in establishing solid marriages that produce a better citizenry, thus building a better society.  As the home goes, so goes the nation and the church—both profit, and both have responsibilities in regulating and commending marriage through their practices and policies.

Marriage is to be PHYSICAL.  The couple becomes one flesh, naked and unashamed.  Sex is not dirty.  God created it and made it good—very good!  There is a bond formed, an intimacy developed, an expression of love that cements a healthy relationship between the two.  The honeymoon may end in a week, but romance is to remain for a lifetime.  The best way to keep a spouse from seeking someone else’s arms is to hold them tight in yours!  God intends for this relationship to produce godly offspring that will impact the world for Christ.

This is only an overview.  A book could be written—and many of them have been.  But, these truths are drawn from the Good Book—timeless texts inspired by an unchanging God.  When Jesus taught about marriage, this was His authoritative text.  If I follow Christ, then I will submit to His teaching in every area—including marriage.

I have set before you God’s ideal.  We live in a fallen world.  Sin happens and it soon wrecked paradise.  The impact on Adam and Eve’s relationship and family was dramatic.  However, Christ came to redeem us from the curse of sin—in every dimension of life.  So no matter where you may be in your relationship, no matter the failings of the past, or struggles in the present, we can repent and by the grace of God move on.  This is our goal by the grace of God.