I concluded another Introduction to the Bible course for Bryan College last night. We finished our discussion of preaching, and discussed the very practical uses of God’s Word. After teaching how God uses His Word (salvation and sanctification of sinners), I went through a list of uses for believers. Without a doubt, God’s Word is useful (2 Timothy 3:16)! I am so thankful for the incredible gift of God’s Word, and for how much He has used it in my life. That’s why I continue to seek to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through daily interaction in the Word of God. Last night I shared the following quote from George Mueller: “I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man may be nourished…I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God and to meditation on it” (from Desiring God by John Piper). Question: Did you strive to have your soul happy in God this morning? I read Matthew 16 and contemplated that Jesus—the Christ (16:16)—was worthy of my complete attention and life-long pursuit (16:24-28). What did you read?
Two years ago
On a very special day
Jesus sent another gift our way.
Cascade Array was born.
For a special reason
We hoped that she would come on July 24, 2008.
And in the gracious timing of the Lord, she was not late!
A grandfather she never knew had also been born that day.
July 24th was Grandpa Wehse’s birthday!
And so, a very special date this has become
To celebrate a father and a daughter, just some
Of the many blessings of my life.
Happy Birthday, Dad. I wish you were here
To laugh at Cascade and share
in all of the celebrating.
Your grandaughter is amazing.
Happy Birthday, Cascade! I’m glad that you’re here
To make us laugh and cause joyful tears.
You’re such a gift to this family.
Come, Babies, come close and see
And then hear what I often say:
“I love you everyday.”
After two heavily doctrinal sections (what we have labeled Hebrews, chapter one and two), the author of this great letter became very practical. Baptist theologian John Gill wrote, “The apostle having discoursed, in the preceding chapters, concerning the dignity of Christ’s person, and his wondrous grace in the assumption of human nature, and suffering in the room and stead of his people, exhorts the Hebrews in this to a serious consideration of him, attention to him, and faith in him, and constancy in it;” (John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible citation from e-Sword [Version 7-7-7; Rick Meyers]). I believe that Dr. Gill is correct in his assessment of this chapter. The author did indeed desire for his readers to (1) take a serious attention to and consideration of Jesus, (2) believe in Jesus, and (3) continue faithfully in that quest. Due to the fact that this author also lived the quest, he deeply grasped its’ difficulty. This explains the inclusion of the thirteenth verse in the context. We all need encouragement lest we allow ourselves to become hardened by sin. I need you to repeatedly remind me that Jesus Christ is superior to anyone or anything. You need me to challenge you to perform regularly scheduled heart surgery. We need one another. When is the last time you specifically aimed your efforts at a brother or sister in need of nudge toward Christ. Does a name come to mind right now? Send an email. Toss a text message. Pick up the cell phone. Care enough to contact.
Quoting from an Old Testament passage twice, the author of Hebrews challenges his audience not to harden their hearts (3:8, 15). The original word for harden in this text connotes that the action taken by the subject is to begin immediately and continue into the future. They were not to allow their hearts to harden, and they were to remain vigilant in that exercise. In other words, they were to perform regularly scheduled heart surgery. Though two millennia removed, we, too, must keep a close watch on our hearts (Prov. 4:23). If we do not, we will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:13). Our sins, and the sins of others—whether it directly or indirectly affects us—both disappoints and discourages us. As a Christian, I may be freed by Christ from the penalty of sin, but I still very much experience the power and presence of sin. Sin is in me. Sin is in you. Sin is in our children. Sin permeates our planet. I suppose this is why a wartime mentality is needed if we are to remain tender to the Lord when we hear His voice (the same passage in Hebrews, chapter three, which mentions the word harden also includes the condition: “Today, if you hear His voice”). Of the many activities I am about this day, I am indeed hearing His voice. I read Matthew, chapter twelve this morning. Right now, I am meditating upon Hebrews, chapter three. In my regularly scheduled heart surgery, it is of vital importance that I consider Jesus (ponder His excellencies [even in comparison to Moses]) and enter God’s rest (striving for reality while allowing the peace of God to guard my heart [see Philippians 4:7]). If you are a believer, that is your quest as well. Reflect upon it. Meditate upon Him. Fight sin.
While teaching Hebrews, chapter two in Sunday School, I mentioned that we should not veer too far from the Gospels. It is in the Gospels where we both see and hear the Lord Jesus Christ. We find Jesus announcing the arrival of the kingdom (Heb. 2:3 [see Matthew 5-7] and God’s certification that both the Messenger and the message were legit (Heb. 2:4 [see Matthew 8 & 9])! After a sermon that many have described as “the greatest sermon ever preached” (Jesus’ sermon on the mount [Mt. 5-7]), Jesus performed “signs, wonders and various miracles” (Heb. 2:4). If you have the opportunity, read the eighth and ninth chapters of the Gospel of Matthew. After announcing the arrival of the kingdom, King Jesus easily proved His identity! After amazing the multitude with His teaching (Mt. 7:28), He amazed His disciples (Mt. 8:27) and awed the crowds (Mt. 9:8). He touched and healed a leper (Mt. 8:3), healed a sick servant from a distance (Mt. 8:13), restored health to an ill mother-in-law (Mt. 8:15), drove out demonic spirits (Mt. 8:16), calmed a storm (Mt. 8:26), allowed a paralytic to walk (Mt. 9:7) and raised a dead daughter Mt. 9:25)! That’s my Jesus! He said remarkable things, and He performed remarkable deeds! The admonition of Hebrews 3:1 applies to each of us today: “fix your thoughts on Jesus” (NIV [NASB: “consider Jesus”]). I hope this entry has helped you to do just that! My friends, don’t veer too far from the Gospels, for in the Gospels Jesus and His message are both communicated and confirmed!
The children have been playing the Wii. The two moms and the wife are having a great time playing Scrabble. (I like that game as much as Jodi enjoys Trivial Pursuit!) I’ve been resting and performing maintainance on my computer. With a very busy week ahead, it has been good to have a first day rest. Many Americans live for the weekend. The majority of Americans believe that they are entitled to a 2 1/2 day weekend. The ideal is to leave work as early as possible on Friday, and do whatever they desire–preferrably nothing–for over fifty hours. If you think about it, it is impossible to find justification in the Scripture for such a life of leisure. God commanded His people to rest one day in seven (Ex. 20:9,10). Under the Old Covenant, that day was entitled “Sabbath.” Since the resurrection of Christ, the over-whelming majority of Christians choose to rest on the first day of the week–Sunday (I’ve got some friends who rest on Saturdays. I don’t judge them; they don’t judge me [Col. 1:16]). The important thing is that we all physically rest from our labors. If we are productive (home, work, church, community, etc.), we need a day to slow down, sipping rather than gulpping life. Today has been a day of sipping for me. I’ve been denying feelings of false guilt all day (I am not checking anything off my list!) I hope you also have had a day of rest this weekend! Monday comes quickly. Many people and tasks will be asking for my attention. I’m sure you sense the same. Thankfully, God is in our busy as much as He is in our rest. Have a great week!
I picked up John Calvin’s commentary on Hebrews this morning (Calvin + Coffee + Saturday morning = Life is good). As he discussed the importance of not drifting away from God and the gospel, he wrote, “God would indeed have His gifts valued by us according to their worth. Then the more precious they are, the baser is our ingratitude when we do not value them. In a word, in proportion to the greatness of Christ will be the severity of God’s vengeance on all the despisers of His Gospel.” Munch on that truth. The author of Hebrews tells us that we shall not escape if we ignore God’s great salvation (2:3). So–the question begging to be asked is: Are we neglecting Jesus? Are we drifting away (2:1)? The cure is also given in the first verse of this chapter: “we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard” (ESV). In other words, we must know and value the truth about Jesus Christ. If you are a believer, you know Jesus both subjectively and objectively. Hold tightly to Him. Do not allow yourself to slip away from Christ! Thankfully, God has given us gifts to help us value that which is most valuable. Some have called these gifts “the means of grace.” That list includes the Word of God, the local church, edifying books, Christian fellowship and God-centered internet websites. My friends, Jesus Christ is worthy of our passionate allegiance. Value Him. Draw closer to Him today. Stay by His side by faith. Thanks for reading!
In the whole scheme of things, finally seeing the driveway for Rhea County Academy paved isn’t a huge event. Blacktop over dirt won’t change the world. And yet–it is a reason for praising my sovereign and involved God. Last year, HE moved parents, students and teachers to raise the necessary funds to make this project possible. When school begins in a couple of weeks, we no longer have to dodge the ruts! For that, I am thankful. Shouldn’t we be thankful for the little blessings of life? I think so! On days such as today, I need to stop and count my blessings. If I really think about it, the list is long. God has been very gracious. He has not treated me as my sins deserve. Rather, He has lavished me with gifts–my salvation through Christ being the foremost gift! My list includes my awesome wife, my four children, family and friends, my church, our school, and on and on the list could go. As I strive to maintain a proper perspective today, I am praising God for pavement. For what are you praising God?
After working outside on projects all weekend, I am exhausted! Those who know me well will be amazed that I learned how to use a skill saw on Saturday! I used it again today (Sunday), and still have all my fingers and toes! We did accomplish quite a bit in preparation for my mom’s visit this week, and now we are tired! But we are also encouraged by our fellowship with God’s people this morning at church. I taught Hebrews, chapter one in Sunday School. In preparation for that lesson, we watched a John Piper clip on the supremacy of Christ from You Tube (it is a ten-minute exerpt of a sermon I witnessed live at a Desiring God National Conference [You can find the sermon in its entirety at www.desiringod.org). Good stuff. We were also edified (built up in our faith) through our pastor’s sermon on God’s judgement and grace in the world-wide flood (Genesis 6). God’s grace is truly amazing, and we continue to praise Him for all His has done, is doing and will do for His glory, our good and the building of His church. God is alive and well–sustaining us as we worked hard all weekend, and giving us rest as we paused to gather with His people and set our minds on things above (Col. 3:2). Monday is another day of labor. On Tuesday, I leave for Atlanta to pick up Mom at the airport. We are very much looking forward to our time together! I hope you have a great week! Thanks for reading!
Jodi and I finally watched the movie I am Sam (Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dakota Fanning, 2001). Have you seen it? It’s a good movie in that we found it both emotionally-engaging and thought-provoking. (If you are extremely sensitive to profanity, you might want to watch it via a filtering system.) The storyline is study of contrasts. One contrast which particularly stood out to me was Sam, a retarded man who very practically loved his little girl, and his lawyer, an over-achieving, over-committed working mom who had very little energy left for her son. After seeing such a visual message, I had to re-evaluate my relationship with my own children. Am I Sam? I know I should be! God has blessed me with some awesome kids who need me engaged in their lives. I try to be so, but appreciate gentle reminders from the Lord to stay involved, to be a dad, not just a father. What about the special children in your lives–your own kids, nieces, nephews, lil’ ones in your church or neighborhood–who needs your attention and time today? Be “Sam” to them.