Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Man is born under the curse of being adamant there is nothing the God of the universe has said we can or should be adamant about. - Genesis 3:1; Eph. 2:1-3

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Guard Yourselves From Idols

We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. – I John 5:18-21 (ESV)

Beware of making an idol out of a quick, easy declaration of what are idols. Today one can read or hear all kinds of declarations of how things like sex, job, family have become idols. Those are gifts of God to be enjoyed. They didn’t make you turn from God. You did. At its root, idolatry is a false or diminished view of what God has revealed to be true about Himself, about His Son, about His Word, about us. Idols are not first material things; they are ideas.

That’s what the Apostle John is trying to tell his readers in his first epistle. A false/altered/diminished view of what has been revealed about God in Jesus Christ is what makes us idolators. He sums up his letter with the tender but forthright exhortation, “Little children, guard yourselves from idols” (5:21). Here are three false or idolatrous views from I John 5:18-20. Note, they contradict each other – multiple gods tend to do that when they compete with the One, True God!

#1 (v.18) – The idol of an insufficient Christ. This idol would have us believing Christ may be capable of forgiving our sins but cannot keep us from practicing sin or protect us from the evil one. For the true Christ and Spirit of Truth meditate on Jude 24,25; Romans 8:9-17.

#2 (v. 19) – The idol of sentimentality. This idol wants us to think people are basically good, and refuses to acknowledge the presence of the evil one – albeit limited and temporal presence (v. 19; 2 Thess. 2:7). It ignores the doctrine of man’s sinful nature. It dulls our minds to the humbling logic there would be no need of God sending His Son as a second Adam to fulfill His perfect law if the first Adam’s offspring were capable of doing so (Romans 1-5). Yet in love for sinners, that is exactly what God did; He has given us a victorious second Adam to represent us before Him!

#3 (v. 20) – The idol of uncertainty. This idol would have us believing truth is relative; life is best explained as a chaotic jumble of events and powers; therefore no one has the capacity let alone the right to say there is a standard of truth for all people. This idol will have you being adamant there is nothing to be adamant about! The reality is that Christ has come and given us understanding that while we may not have perfect or exhaustive knowledge, we can know Him who is true. There is a true God and there is eternal life.

I’m so grateful for a church family who help each other guard themselves from idols which cannot save!

Abortion doc cites less 'crunchy' techniques

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Of Marriage Vows and Mystery

Here are a few thoughts ruminating in my mind as I prepare to officiate at my son and his fiance’s wedding and Dawn and I soon mark 35 years of marriage.

Simple vows are being stated; their beauty yet to be seen.

A vow is a solemn oath. A pledge, a promise, a covenant. Marriage vows are not fancy words, flowery words. They do not draw immediate attention to themselves. Neither are they riddles, words of sly nuance or sophisticated definition. They are simple words. They are a simple pledge, a simple covenant. I, take you… For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer… till death do us part.
And herein is their weight, their significance: They speak to the future. Their beauty is yet to bloom. When Dawn and I were married in 1980 we wrote our own vows (fortunately our pastor fathers who together conducted the service, had the sense to have us also state traditional vows). At 20 and 19, under the spell of hormones and self-determined uniqueness, we made promises that would make a politician blush. Thirty-five years later, we not only can’t remember what we said, we’re grateful to have lost them. The beauty of wedding vows doesn’t show up in adjectives and adverbs spoken in a moment. Nor do they flower in the finery of the ceremony. A husband and wife carrying out their yes as yes and their no as no in a million little, grace-dependent ways--  till death do them part -- is where their beauty will be seen.
Our vows reflect God’s decrees; for there is great mystery

Marriage exists because God has decreed it to be. We are not following cleverly devised tales or practicing baseless traditions when a ceremony is held to unite a man with a woman. A father ‘brings’ his daughter to her husband just like God brought the woman to the man. When asked, the father of the bride says it is ‘her mother and I’ – the ones who created her -- who are ‘giving her to this man,’ just as God fashioned the woman for the man and gave her to him. With intentional, unmistakable clarity God blessed and created humans male and female so they would be fruitful and multiply. Therefore, the man says to the woman, ‘I, take you,’ because she is suitable to him to be fruitful. Likewise, she ‘takes him’ so they together may multiply. By God’s decree and design, the man knows she is for him; the woman knows he is for her: She is bone of his bones, flesh of his flesh. So it is according to the decree of God and the blessing of God they are pronounced “Mr. and Mrs.’ They shall become one flesh.

Our rebellion, our disenchantment, our tainted and warped desires are no indication God has changed His mind about marriage. Our messy, our miserable, our failed, our redefined – ours will not negate what God established for His purposes. What Christ said about marriage only heightens the clarity of what God declared from the beginning (Matthew 19; Mark 10). Adam Clarke said it well decades ago: “Christ will never accommodate his morality to the times, nor to the inclinations of men. What was done at the beginning is what God judged most worthy of his glory, most profitable for man, and most suitable to nature.”

The reason is for a mystery and it is great. The mystery is this: From the beginning God designed marriage between a man and a woman to be a picture of the relationship between Christ and His bride, the church (Eph 5:22-32).

Let that sink in.

God didn’t design the relationship between Christ and His bride around marriage; rather, before the foundation of the world He designed marriage to be a picture of Christ and His bride. That’s why God cannot alter marriage. It was designed to point to Christ and His blood-shedding, wrath receiving God-glorifying, covenant keeping love for His bride.

In less than a month, Dawn and I will observe 35 years of marriage. Youthful attraction and idealism have had their day. Romance is burnished by reality of aging bodies and one too many pieces of cheese cake. Delight is more learned -- flowing from a thousand gazes, a thousand touches, from a million words of kindness, and a million more silent decisions to forgive. Ecstatic memories are intermingled with groans of regret as our days together fly away. Grace, God’s grace, secured for us in Christ’s work on the cross, is far more sweet and significant. Far more known, really known, as necessary. Always.

So this brings us back to those simple vows. Ultimately, marriage isn’t about sexual pleasure, companionship or even bearing children. Those are all good, God-ordained gifts that come with the sacred union of marriage. But they aren’t ultimate. Ultimately, it’s about keeping covenant. It’s about us being a picture, albeit imperfectly, feebly, that tells of the unwavering allegiance Christ has for His bride.

I, take you… For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer… till death do us part.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Casting myself on the Only God who Is

“Remember this, and be assured; Recall it to mind, you transgressors. Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure'… Truly I have spoken, truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it. -- Isaiah 46:8-11

We do not give God authority over our lives. He has it whether we like it or not. What utter folly it is to act as though we had any rights at all to call God into question! We need to hear now and then blunt words like those of Virginia Stem Owens who said in [the] Reformed Journal,

        Let us get this one thing straight. God can do anything he damn well pleases, including damn well. And if it pleases him to damn, then it is done, ipso facto, well. God's activity is what it is. There isn't anything else. Without it there would be no being, including human beings presuming to judge the Creator of everything that is.

    Few things are more humbling, few things give us that sense of raw majesty, as the truth that God is utterly authoritative. He is the Supreme Court, the Legislature, and the Chief Executive. After him, no appeal. -- John Piper

Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever pleases Him. Psalm 115:3

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

On Poached Eggs, Seeing the Sun, Scribbling and What Lies Ahead

I delight in the reality that as our Lord builds His church He raises up men and gives them insight that others might have hope and be encouraged. One such man who has encouraged me is CS Lewis. Like every other man the Lord gives to His church, Lewis was limited and imperfect. Nevertheless it’s difficult not to find some nuggets in his writings that give off a holy echo of the abiding Word. I trust you will be encouraged by the following.

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

Jesus – Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word, and believes Him who sent me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life (John 5:24).


“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

In Him was the life and the life was the light of men… There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man (John 1:5,9).

“A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word 'darkness' on the walls of his cell.”
And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it (John 1:5).

 “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him (I Corinthians 2:9).

Never Try To Teach a Pig To Sing

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me and it is a safeguard for you. – Philippians 3:1

I have a very good friend who is having a major impact on me because he is a man who rejoices! And he reminds and encourages me to rejoice.

I don’t know about you, but like the Philippians I have to be reminded to rejoice in the Lord. I have to make a conscious decision to be happy in Jesus -- to be glad in the Lord. Paul writes that to be reminded is a safeguard -- reflecting on why I’m to be rejoicing and taking steps to rejoice protect me.
Here are some thoughts from Philippians I trust might remind all of us to rejoice.

First, rejoicing in the Lord confirms we belong to God. We can be a rejoicing people because “we are of the true circumcision” (3:3). Those in Christ have been truly set apart by the God of the universe as His own. We need no external mark or external religious act to complete what Christ has done for us. What Christ has done completely satisfied God. “We worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh” (3:3). Having believed, we have been sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise who is given as a pledge of our inheritance (Eph. 1:13,14). A rancher friend of mine talks about being branded by the Holy Spirit and that ‘brand’ forever identifying whose we are. Rejoice in the Lord!

Second, rejoicing in the Lord protects from demeaning Christ and despair. “Beware of the dogs, the evil workers, the false circumcision” (3:2). Don’t miss it: believing we have to add external religious acts to the finished work of Christ so as to be declared righteous before God suggests Christ didn’t get the job done. Theologically, it demeans Christ and dishonors God (John 5:23, 24; Gal. 5:2-6). Psychologically it leads to doubt and discouragement. Did you do the religious act seriously enough? Perfectly enough? Thoroughly enough? You shall be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect – that’s the standard (Matt 5:48). How’s that going for you? Rejoice in the perfections of Christ! Someone once said, never try to teach a pig to sing. You won’t be pleased with the results and it only irritates the pig. That’s what happens when we try to add religious acts to what God has declared finished; no one is satisfied. Rejoice in the Lord!

Third, to rejoice in the Lord is to have an upward call on our lives. Rejoicing in the Lord is great evidence we are motivated wholly by the risen, ascended Christ, and we’re not just a religious hack (3:4-16). Paul counted all his religious trappings as rubbish. All his religious earned income credit was tossed out in exchange for the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus His Lord. Rejoicing in the Lord is to be spiritually alive. Like Paul, we trust in a Person; we seek to know a Person; we desire for that Person to define everything about us. We rejoice in the Lord – pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Pastor Tedd