Veiled Thoughts

“Perhaps nothing is more mysterious than a veil or curtain.”So began my last sermon on the mystery in Ephesians 3:1-7.And so begins this collage of “veiled thoughts” today.

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In society, mystery is caused by a lack of evidence or facts.In Scripture, mystery is caused by a lack of spiritual insight.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

God not only created light.He created darkness also.He is Lord of both.So says the prophet Isaiah.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Men cannot figure women out because of what women veil.Women cannot figure men out because of what men reveal.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~He who would obfuscate the clarity of Genesis 1is not qualified to teach Sunday School,let alone adults in higher education.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The great temptation for the preacher is the desireto be heard rather than for the congregation to listen.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~It is the wise man who understandshow the word gentleman is formed.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sin always starts with a lie.It will only end when the lies cease.

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Some might view the election asSmooth Talk versus Straight Talk.

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A new twist on an old saying at our house?Better smiles with a lizard in handthan tears with two 30-feet up our backyard tree.

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Even in the “greed-filled” game of Monopolythe losers are not allowed just to print more money.

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Take a quarter and notice that its edge is milled.Find out why.Then you’ll […]


Sicut Sagittae

Sycamore Covenant Academy (SCA), an academic and discipleship ministry of our congregation, opened its doors this week to start our seventh year. We are more excited than ever, as we have over fifty students with several of them being from new families (some from surrounding areas such as Peru, Marion and Indianapolis) participating. It has also been encouraging to see the Lord provide great teachers and courses to offer. Plans are underway to offer once again our Hope for Today Tutoring twice a week to underprivileged children in the neighborhood. Watching our own youth sit down with these youngsters and read the Bible to them, pray, and help them grow in their reading skills was last year, and will be again this year, fun to watch.

I am also excited and thankful for the new logo you see (click it to go to the SCA website) that Susan Spiegel designed for us that captures the essence of this ministry. We feature a sword and a shield because our theme statement reads this way:

Raising Our Children in the Fear of the Lord
Arming Our Children with the Knowledge of His Word and World
Sending Them Out to Possess the […]


Beating the Jonah Syndrome

As Hurricane Gustav churned in the Gulf of Mexico a few days ago, reports circulated that it could grow into a monster Category 5 storm. I, like many others, kept tuning in to find out if it would strike New Orleans with more or greater force than Katrina had done three years ago. So great was the possible danger that it caused a major political party to cancel its campaigning for a day. Yet Gustav weakened, its center headed west of New Orleans, and it only struck the city with a glancing blow. The cameras trained on the levees, which showed the angry sea waves sloshing over the top, were not able to deliver stunning pictures of their collapse and the re-flooding of this city. So though the winds of political campaigning have picked up again and are blowing as strong as ever, thankfully the winds of Gustav died down and the city of New Orleans was spared.

At least that last phrase in the sentence above is what one is expected to say publicly. If the truth be known – and here is where you may lose any respect you might have had for […]


I am the Lord’s!

This past Sunday, after a year of special preparation, five teen-aged young ladies professed their faith publicly at Sycamore Reformed Presbyterian Church. Centering my preaching on Isaiah 44:3-5, where God promises the outpouring of His Spirit upon the children of believers, I reminded the congregation that what we were witnessing in these covenant youth was a powerful working of God. Though these young ladies have grown up in nurturing homes, my theme was that “the church needs to learn to anticipate and celebrate in the protective salvation of covenant youth in the same way it rejoices over a dramatic conversion.” These young people were not justified by their family nor by their age. Rather, they have been justified by faith in Christ as the Spirit of God has worked in their lives according to His promises.

Because young people growing up in the church often have difficulty expressing their testimony, as the “normal” testimony paradigm is of a dramatic conversion, we have put together a “Covenant Child Testimony” worksheet to help them. Through interviewing their parents and looking at God’s work through generations, it is designed to help them identify God’s active influences in their own lives. […]


Rolling in the Light

A blogger’s inner musings:

What about reviewing some of the great books I’ve been reading – Rutherford’s Letters, Keller’s The Reason of God, Owen on sin, etc.? Naw, certainly someone else has done it better – just use them in preaching. Hey, what about false unity at the Olympics? Ministry of the youth? Intern outtakes (catchy name but might make Bill and Jason mad)? Nope. Nope. Nope. Maybe another time (especially the one on interns). Could write about my final breakfast with Lindsay before college. No, too personal. But her lifting her iced coffee to her mouth and sucking her spoon thinking it was a straw sure was funny. Hey! There’s an idea! Funny things this summer…

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Last week I visited Bill Scott, a member of our church who is now a double amputee, at the nursing home where he lives. After nearly dying twice earlier this year, the Lord has amazingly raised him up. Bill was in good health and spirits, and is looking forward to his 70th birthday next month. It was a glorious, unseasonably cool August day, and as we visited Bill was sitting in his wheelchair as I reclined on a bench out in front. As we […]


On Our Twenty-Third Anniversary

To my beloved wife,Miriam.For in you I see.

Our blissful union,What sweet communion!God’s fragrant rose of Sharon to me,My lily in life’s valleys,Your love is better than wine.For in you I see no other could be mine,In you I know a love where hearts twine.

The Blessed Union,O what fierce Communion!God’s King over His bride,Our Lion strong made the Lamb slain,Your love is stronger than death.For in You we see the enemy slain by mere breath,In You we know love without width, height or depth.


Are You Taking Care of Business?

On Saturday, July 26th, I participated in the funeral of George Todd, a family friend and the father of Angi Hindman, a former member of our congregation. With Angi’s permission, the message I gave at the funeral is below.

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Are You Taking Care of Business?
Psalm 116:15

I had the privilege of visiting George and Bev a little over a week ago, on Thursday, July 17th. George was in the hospital then, waiting to undergo the test that eventually told him the cancer had spread into his body. After that time with them, I had left town and upon my return had actually planned to visit with George again this very day. Instead, on Monday it became clear to George and the family that the end was drawing near more quickly than they had anticipated. He requested of his family that I share with you what we had discussed. So I come today as a minister of the Word of God to testify to you what I witnessed in that hospital room and with a sense of being commissioned by George himself to tell you these things. This I consider not only a tremendous privilege, but […]


Forgiveness in Rwanda

In the first months of our marriage, Miriam and I signed up to support a child through Compassion International, a ministry that with a few dollars each month provides needy children around the world with food, clothing and Christian teaching. I still remember excitedly opening up the packet with Miriam and seeing the picture of a little boy from Rwanda named Hahirwabimera (we nicknamed him “Wabi”) that we had been assigned. Compassion personalizes its ministry by sending regular updates, pictures and letters from the child, and assists you in corresponding back. Over the next few years we enjoyed developing the relationship with Wabi and found great joy in seeing his smiling face and reading his cute letters.Yet this relationship with Wabi came to an abrupt end in 1994. When Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana’s plane was shot down leading to his death, the civil unrest and tension that had existed in this country from centuries of tribal tensions exploded. The majority Hutu tribe enacted a genocide against the Tutsi tribe and Hutus who had been unloyal to the president’s leadership. In the course of four months roving gangs killed between 800,000 to a million of their neighbors. Think of it – […]


92 Years and Psalm 92

Paul Faris, a founding member of the Sycamore congregation, will celebrate his ninety-second birthday next week. As I reflected on Paul’s influence on my own life, I wanted to share it with members of the congregation who might not know Paul but are benefiting from the ministry he continues to have here. I thought perhaps this would encourage others as well.

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Paul was raised as a Covenanter, coming from generations of Farises who have been in the Reformed Presbyterian Church. As his grandson James Faris, pastor of the Southfield RPC, tells it, for at least ten generations in his family line the men have alternated in their vocations between farmers and pastors. James and his grandfather fell in the “pastor” generations, so despite growing up on a farm in Dennison, Kansas, Paul went into pastoral ministry. He graduated from the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 1944. His “official records” indicate that he served three congregations (Quinter RPC and Sterling RPC in Kansas, and the Lisbon RPC in New York) over the more than forty years he was in pastoral ministry. The recognition by the […]


On Compassionate Conservatism

In April I had the privilege of sitting in a meeting where Marvin Olasky, editor of WORLD magazine and author of The Tragedy of American Compassion, met with a dozen or so leaders of inner-city ministries in Indianapolis. He had featured several of these organizations in another of his books, Compassionate Conservatism (see Chapter 3 “Indianapolis: How Government Should Work,” especially pages 65-80), which was published in 2000 and has a foreword by our current president when he was still governor of Texas. In essence he was revisiting these ministries, as the presidency of Mr. Bush draws to a close, to evaluate the impact of the compassionate conservative movement on them.

Mr. Olasky told us that the conservative movement has in large part been a failure. He believes it has failed because the approach by the current administration in Washington has been contrary to the core principles they claimed to represent. Rather than using poverty-fighting tax credits or vouchers to decentralize such things as care for the needy and education, more and more government control has been enacted. The lack of the use of the veto by the president has bloated the budget. The […]