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Archive | Christian Living

God’s Presence

Too few churchgoers are aware of the significance of entering into the sanctuary with the people of God.  If only they recognized God’s presence is there, not because of the building but in the people assembled, how different things would be!

When Solomon dedicated the temple, the Lord gave a special manifestation of His presence as the offerings were made.  “It happened that when the priests came from the holy place, the cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD” (I Kings 8:10-11 NASB).  Not only is this account historical, in that it reminds us that the temple in Jerusalem was to be the place where God dwelt among His people.  This manifestation of God’s glory was also prophetical.  In the priests being driven out because of the presence of the overwhelming glory of the Lord, the Spirit is indicating a time was coming when the Levitical priesthood would no longer be necessary in light of the glory that was to be manifested.  As the Lord promised, “The latter glory of this house will be greater than the […]

A GenRef Podcast: Interview with Rosaria Butterfield & Ken Smith

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.

-Psalm 9:1-

Stories of conversion are a wonderful thing.

Through them God’s grace is set on display.  Here we see the mysterious workings of the Spirit.  God shines in a person’s heart the light of the knowledge of the glory of Himself in the face of Jesus Christ.  As a result, the person is transformed, mightily and to the core.  And while we do not behold this miracle directly, we certainly witness its effects.

What a wonder it is!

Recently Barry York and I had the distinct privilege of getting to hear firsthand one such story of God’s grace.  It’s the account of Rosaria Champagne Butterfield.  And it is nothing short of astonishing.

Rosaria could not have imagined she would ever wear the name “Christian.”  And yet, through a simple and rather unexpected letter from Pastor Ken Smith, a tide of events was set in motion.  Her world was soon turned upside down as she found herself meeting with Pastor Ken and his wife, Floy, grappling with the One whom she had so pointedly rejected, Jesus Christ.

In this podcast, we’re pleased to have both Rosaria […]

Some brief thoughts on wisdom

Part of my daily Bible reading has been through the book of Proverbs lately and tonight I happened upon a sermon of mine from Proverbs 1. Apparently I’m forgetful enough that my own sermon notes can help me just a few years later. Anyway, here are just a few thoughts about Biblical wisdom, specifically about God’s promise to make us wise:

Moving Signs

The “For Sale” sign went up.

The next day we had the first viewing.

Then the couple came back.

At the end of the day we had an offer we could not refuse.

We’re still in shock.  Though we realize the deal is not fully done until closing, selling our home that quickly was another “moving sign.”  Indeed, moving signs have been springing up all around us recently.

Church History for Breakfast

Church history is the last thing some people want to think about on any given day. But, you might actually be thinking about church history a whole lot more than you realize at the breakfast table first thing in the morning. My students seem to find history more palatable when they see that they are already familiar with it. So, let’s check out your breakfast menu; it might just whet your appetite for more history.

God’s Love and Evangelism

Recently I was asked by a young lady, a lover of the gospel as well as people, this question, “Does God love unbelievers?”  She obviously was wrestling with working out her theology which stresses the sovereign love of God revealed in Christ to the elect with the very practical matter of sharing Christ with unbelievers, which she is doing.  Surely the blanket statement “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” is too trite a thing to say to those bent on sin.  Yet she wondered if you can communicate in any manner God’s love to an unbeliever, knowing that the Bible says not only that God hates sin but that He “hates all who do iniquity” (Psalm 5:5)?

I answered her question with one of my own.  Would God ask you to love someone He is not willing to love?

For Christ does tell us quite clearly that we are to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44).  Then immediately after this command He offers the heavenly Father’s example.  God’s practice is to cause the sun to shine and the rain to fall on both the wicked and the just.  By alluding to God’s providence in this way, Christ was […]

Sweetening Our Praying

After adding the cream and sugar to my coffee, my wife, who usually prepares it for me, gives it a vigorous stir with a spoon.  That way the sweetness attaches itself to the coffee’s bitterness, making it palatable and pleasant to my taste buds inherited from my English forefathers.

I find prayer to be like that.  Often my heart, bitter with life’s sins, anxieties, and failures, needs to have some sweetness stirred in so that I can lift its cup up and pour out prayer unto the Lord. Thankfully, I have a friend who does that for me.

Jesus’ friendship stirs me to pray.  Likewise, it stirred our forefather Abraham to pray.

Lifelong Love

No one could ask for better in-laws than mine.  It is not only because they gave their beautiful daughter to an undeserving guy.  They have been ones who through the years have constantly encouraged us, supported our family and ministry through their labors and gifts, and given us invaluable counsel (to the point Miriam’s dad likes to call me Moses and himself Jethro).

Our children also could not ask for better grandparents.  They have been deemed “Papa and HooHoo,” Miriam’s mother being so named when the kids were little for her habit of calling out “Hoo, hoo!” when she enters the house.  When Papa and HooHoo come to visit, it is an exciting event.  Our children have always gone bounding out the door to greet them.  Not only do they genuinely love them, but they know treats and surprises will be found in their vehicle!  The days the grandparents are here are usually spent doing such things as planting flowers, helping with chores, working on crafts and projects, and taking trips to Meijer for groceries and “snoops” (treats).

Honor Such Men: Rich Johnston’s Thirty Years of Youth Ministry

Next week, the Great Lakes-Gulf Presbytery of the RPCNA will hold its annual spring meeting. The nominating committee will submit a slate of candidates for various committees and offices for the coming year. For the first time in some thirty years, Rich Johnston will not be nominated for youth secretary. The vote will probably be quiet and ordinary, but it will formally conclude a most-extraordinary three decades of ministry to the young people of this presbytery.

Gentle Answers: Revisiting the Iron Cage

A reader named Justin submitted the following question to our “Gentle Answers” feature found on the right sidebar.  My answer to him is below.

Barry,

I just read your post on the unpardonable sin entitled the “Iron Cage“.  I have struggled with this particular topic for a few years now.  A few years ago I indeed had not be watchful and been somewhat lax in my spiritual walk.  Because of an awful thought I had a few years ago, during that time, while reading the unpardonable sin passage in Mark I have feared that I have committed the unpardonable sin.  Ever since then I have feared that all that awaits me is eternal punishment and this terrifies me.  I have earnestly prayed for God’s forgiveness over and over but still feel anxiety.  I feel as if because of what I’ve done and thought, the promises of God no longer apply to me and He has left me and I can’t be forgiven for the things I’ve thought; I can’t imagine standing before Him and those particular thoughts being brought up; I hate them!  I noticed you quoted J.I. Packer in your post and I read that portion of his book Concise Theology […]