Monthly Archives: January 2007

Instructions are for the Birds!

I am terrible at putting things together (toys, swing sets, shelves, bicycles, you name it…). It seems what should take about 30 minutes ends up consuming half of my Saturday. Why is this? I make no claims to be a handy man. I have found one common denominator as I have reflected on this—INSTRUCTIONS!

Just to be clear, I actually do read the instructions. I know better than to go off putting something together without those instructions by my side. However, I must admit that many times I have begun a project with great care to follow the instructions and then abandoned them for my better judgment. And who writes these instructions anyway? They are so hard to understand!

This Sunday at Redeemer we will be beginning a new sermon series entitled Wedding Preparations. This series will be 8 sermons on Paul’s first letter to Timothy. The main purpose of Paul’s letter is to provide instructions for the local church at Ephesus and beyond. So, in a sense these are wedding preparations. The church is the bride of Christ, and 1 Timothy helps us to understand what preparations are to be made for the wedding day. The title for the sermon on Sunday is Timothy, Preach the Gospel! From 1 Timothy, chapter 1.

How are you doing with the instructions? Are you aware of their importance and your need for their direction? Are you finding yourself straying away from God’s clear teaching? Does the Bible clearly address issues in the church like leadership, teaching, women’s ministry, false teaching and church discipline? I encourage you to join us this Sunday as we seek to prepare for the day of the bridegroom!

May the Lord keep His promise (Matt. 16:18) among us!

The Sharp Sword of Gospel Influence

What sort of influence do you have on those around you? Everyone has a certain influence on others, just as they themselves cannot avoid, in some sense, becoming like those with whom they share company. Do you actively seek to influence those around you for the glory of God?

David’s life serves us well as an example of how to influence people for the glory of God. He has time and time again shown that his faith in Yahweh is more than lip service; it is a calling that he is willing to die for. Again this week, we will see David’s influence on those around him (even the Philistines!).

This Sunday at Redeemer, Jim Hamilton will be preaching the message, David Rejected and Overcoming, from 1 Samuel 29-30. In chapter 29, we see David’s influence working in two main ways. First, the lords of the Philistines have picked up on the fact that David is committed to following “his lord,” even at the expense of their heads (29:4). They are ready to get rid of him! Secondly, we see David’s influence on Achish, the King of Gath. Notice his comment to David (in 29:6): “As the LORD (Yahweh) lives, you have been upright…” Has David’s loyalty to the one true God (after only a year and 4 months) had such an effect on this pagan King?

What about you? Do the people at your workplace know that you are a committed follower of Jesus Christ? Do you “inquire of Yahweh,” and become “strengthened by your God” the way that David does? Friend, if you are wholly committed to the Savior, others will notice and opportunities for the Gospel to go forth will abound! May God give us the ability to live out verses like 2 Corinthians 4:15—

For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

May God bring Glory to His Name through His people!

Church Membership Prevents Witchcraft?

Are you a member of a local church? At Redeemer, we have recently begun a new member’s class called Starting Point. In this class we seek to answer the question: “Why join a church?” Have you ever thought about it? Is there really any point? Is church membership just a “rubber stamp” or are there real benefits, privileges and responsibilities that come along with it?

This Sunday at Redeemer, we will be lingering over 1 Samuel 27-28, as Jim Hamilton serves us with his message David and the Philistines, Saul and the Witch. Saul’s true allegiance makes its way to the forefront again in this section of text. Would the anointed King of Israel have the audacity to resort to witchcraft to save his skin? Is there a real evil power in the world, or is that just for crazy people who believe in haunted houses? We will see another picture of the irrationality produced by sin, as well as Saul abandoned by Yahweh (28:6), and yet he seeks the prophet of Yahweh as an alternative (28:11). Does this make sense?

Perhaps you are wondering: “Ok, but what is the connection to the local church?” When Saul was afraid (28:5) and distressed, he turned to a witch. Where do you turn when life turns sour? Do you have a group of people who care for you and pray for you regularly? Do you resort to practical methods or isolation when trials come? Do you consider “religion” to be a private matter that you can handle on your own?

If you are a member of a healthy local church today, take a moment to thank God for His kindness in your life. If not, know that you were not designed to go through life alone. Consider trusting in Christ and joining a local church that is covenanted together to love, support and hold accountable its members. Join a church that seeks answers to life’s questions in God’s Word, not in practical methods that produce apparent results. We are seeking to be a people like that at Redeemer. We’d love for you to join us this Sunday as we seek to know and enjoy God through His word!

May God be Praised for Redeeming a Bride for Himself!

Meditation Hymn this Month

At Redeemer, we choose a song each month to serve as our “meditation hymn.” This is usually a new song that the congregation learns over the span of the month. It helps us to reflect over the sermon and the greatness of God before we close the service.

This month, the hymn is Sovereign Grace O’er Sin Abounding. You can listen to a clip here. It is great…Enjoy!

My Unique Birthday Present

I am grateful to have received many wonderful birthday gifts this year. However none have been as unique as my present from my friend (and poet/rapper) Billy Newhouse. Enjoy:

Brother T. Happy Birthday. Here is my gift to you.

My friend Travis Card,

His tests are pretty hard.

Palm trees in his yard,

Said ‘no’ to the National Guard.

He moved to Fort Bend,

Redeemer he attends.

He likes to comprehend,

The Scriptures to the end.

January 10th is his b-day,

Caraline, Calab and little Bray.

Are his little ones who like to play.

His bride is A-L-I-C-I-A.

The poem is pretty lame,

For a man of no blame.

Who’s always pretty tame.

Happy birthday, I proclaim!!!

Thanks Billy!

Yaheweh, King of the Nations

How can we posses a knowledge of the Gospel and not rejoice? The essence of the good news is that we are sinners, by nature children of wrath. God justly punishes sin because of His holiness. Instead of the wrath of God being poured out on deserving sinners, like you and me, it was exhausted on Jesus the Messiah, God’s Son. Now, not only do we have reconciliation to God, but Paul writes in Romans 5:11 that we are not only reconciled to God, but “we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Psalmist exhorts us to praise God, in the sermon text this week at Redeemer, in the following way:

Clap your hands, all peoples!
Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared,
a great king over all the earth.
He subdued peoples under us,
and nations under our feet.
He chose our heritage for us,
the pride of Jacob whom he loves. Selah. (Psalm 47:1-4)

Are you responding to God’s mercy in your life, or has it become common place? What does this passage have to say to us about the inclusiveness of the Gospel (to all nations, tribes, races, peoples)? What implications can we draw about evangelism from the exclusivity of this one king over the nations? Are you longing for others to worship and exult in God so much that you are willing to go or give to foreign missions? What about your neighbor next door who is from India or who looks different than you do?

May the Nations Rejoice and God’s people live in such a way that screams joy and satisfaction in the all powerful God!

A “Good” Offense

At my church we have recently been discussing our evangelistic methods and patterns. I want to recommend this blog by Mark Dever concerning the ways that we should contextualize the Gospel. We should speak in words that people understand and realize that the Gospel is not a shower curtain to be sold…

Enjoy!

(HT: Mark Dever, T4G Blog)

Battling Sin in the Local Church

The word gospel means “good news” right? How can we communicate the good news in an effective way at the local church level? Is there a balance that needs to be achieved between sin contemplation and gospel reflection?

These are questions that the elders at my church are seeking to answer. We want to be a place that clearly presents the gospel every week. However, we think that the best way to do that is to be repeatedly reminded of our own sinfulness.

One of the main ways that we seek to serve our people in this area is through the corporate confession of sin. We have a prayer of confession of sins, which is introduced by a pre-confession Scripture, for example: Psalm 51:1-4

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.

After the Scripture is read, the confession leader leads the congregation in general prayer of confession. Then the leader indicates a time of silence for corporate confession of sins. After a brief time of silent confession of sins, the leader concludes the prayer on a note of hope in light of the cross. Then the post confession Scripture is read by the leader. An example could be Psalm 51:10-12

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.

So, we take note and remind ourselves of our inability to please God (1), then (2) we corporately confess our sins, then (3) we rejoice in the cross and God’s promises made through His Word. We don’t want people to leave thinking: “Man, I needed encouragement and I really got beat up today.” We want them to leave saying: “Wow, isn’t God’s mercy great? He reached down and saved a sinner like me…or…I know that my only boast is in the mercy of God through Christ Jesus…Praise Him!”

This article, by Nico Van der Walt expresses well the importance of the doctrine of sin in our lives. He argues that we don’t have the Gospel when we are not biblical in our anthropology. He also shows the far reaching implications of a “sinless” Gospel presentation. Also, I recommend this article by Al Mohler on the subject.

So, if your church is going to be like the Thessalonians who “sounded forth the Gospel” to those around them; everywhere they went, sin must be reflected upon, repented of, and warred against.

The Gospel is Robust; let’s spend our lives exploring the depths of God’s grace through our dependence upon the atoning work of Christ on the cross!

False Repentance and David’s Mercy Again

Have you ever seen a counterfeit dollar bill? You probably have had one in your wallet or purse and never even realized it. They are so much like the real thing in size, shape, color and texture. However, when the proper tools are used, these bills are easily recognized by the trained eye.

Have you ever thought of repentance in this way? True repentance can easily be mocked in appearance by those who have been caught in sin. Intentions can seem sincere and emotions overflowing, until the pressure is removed. What then? This week at Redeemer we will see a picture of this “false repentance,” and the perils that ultimately await those who do not fear the Lord.

It was just in chapter 24 that we encountered David’s mercy in sparing Saul in the Cave. In fact, David was convicted about cutting the corner of Saul’s robe and repented to Yahweh. This seemed to spark repentance in Saul as he wept and seemed to realize his sin. But we will see this week, that Saul’s repentance was only skin deep. The title for the message this week is David Mercies Saul Again, from 1 Samuel 26.

Are you in a situation right now that requires true repentance? What might you need to confess to the one whom you’ve wronged? Are you thinking that no one will ever know? David clearly realizes that Saul will be judged for his treachery. He says that “As the LORD lives the LORD will strike him, or his day will come that he dies, or he will go down into battle and perish (26:10).”

May God grant us true repentance…that leads to life!