Tuesday, March 29, 2016

"I am afraid to die."

This last Sunday I used a "loyal dog" illustration in our sermon at DPC.

That story prompted one of our church family members to send me the great story below.

As we prepare for a church family funeral tomorrow—giving thanks for the life of a man who will be mightily missed—I share it with you all now...


A terminally ill man turned to his doctor as he was preparing to leave the examination room and said, “Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the other side.”

The doctor was holding the handle of the door. On the other side came a sound of scratching and whining, and as he opened the door, a dog sprang into the room and leaped to the sick man with eagerness and joy.

Turning to the patient, the doctor said:

“If you know Jesus as Lord and Savior then you can be as wise as your dog.  He’s never been in this room before. He didn’t know what was inside. He knew nothing except that his master was here, and when the door opened, he sprang in without fear.  I know little of what is on the other side of death. But I do know one thing. I know my Master is there and that is enough….”

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Good Friday Reflection

Below is a portion of John Donne's haunting poem, "Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward."  

If you're like me, you probably struggle to fully enter into and appreciate poetry.  

Our time is too rushed.  Our souls are too flat.

And there is far too much attraction to "worthlessness" (as the prophet Jeremiah puts it, 2.5) setting up camp in our hearts.

But this is worth the effort to slow down... read every line until it's well understood... & meditate upon.

You will be ushered into a serious-hearted joy.  You will be brought into worship. 

But that Christ on His cross, did rise and fall,
Sin had eternally benighted all.
Yet dare I almost be glad, I do not see
That spectacle of too much weight for me.
Who sees God's face, that is self-life, must die;
What a death were it then to see God die?
It made His own lieutenant, Nature, shrink,
It made his footstool crack, and the sun wink.
Could I behold those hands, which span the poles
And tune all spheres at once, pierced with those holes?
Could I behold that endless height, which is
Zenith to us, and our antipodes,
Humbled below us? or that blood, which is
The seat of all our soul's, if not of His,
Made dirt of dust, or that flesh which was worn
By God for his apparel, ragg'd and torn?
If on these things I durst not look, durst I
On his distressed mother cast mine eye,
Who was God's partner here, and furnish'd thus
Half of that sacrifice, which ransom'd us?
Though these things as I ride be from mine eye,
They're present yet unto my memory,
For that looks towards them; and Thou look'st towards me,
O Saviour, as Thou hang'st upon the tree.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Our Loves & Our Politics

At DPC we talk a fair amount about re-centering our loves on Jesus Christ.  If our loves are indeed centered on Christ, all of our other loves will be properly ordered and properly strengthened.

If some other love has displaced Jesus at the center... be it work, spouse, football, money, children, our idea of being religious, our public image, entertainment, beauty, pleasure, etc... our loves will be all out of order and our lives will be all out of whack.

True discipleship and growth in sanctification must start with what we love.

Below is a link to an article that a PCA pastor in Kentucky wrote, applying this thought to this year's election cycle.  I recommend a thoughtful reading of it to you...


Monday, March 7, 2016

This May Feel Implausible At First

In Matthew 5, Jesus refers to his church as "the light of the world."

Think about that for a moment, being mindful of the local church you know best.  "The light of the world."  At first, this may feel somewhat implausible to you.

Let's think it through for a minute...

John Stott is helpful here: "The need for light is obvious.... The world is evidently a dark place, with little or no light of its own, since an external source of light is needed to illumine it.  

"True, [the world] is always talking about its enlightenment, but much of its boasted light is in reality darkness.... 'You are the light of the world.'  True, he was later to say, 'I am the light of the world.'  But by derivation we are too, shining with the light of Christ, shining in the world like stars in the night sky....

"What this light is Jesus clarifies as our 'good works.'  Let men once see 'your good works,' he said, and they will 'give glory to your Father who is in heaven,' for it is by such good works that our light is to shine.

"It seems that 'good works' is a general expression to cover everything a Christian says and does because he is a Christian, every outward and visible manifestation of his Christian faith.

"Since light is a common biblical symbol of truth, a Christian's shining light must surely include his spoken testimony.  Thus, the Old Testament prophecy that God's Servant would be 'a light to the nations' is said to have been fulfilled not only in Christ himself, the light of the world, but also by Christians who bear witness to Christ.

"Evangelism must be counted as one of the 'good works' by which our light shines and our Father is glorified....

"It is healthy to be reminded that believing, confessing, and teaching the truth are also 'good works' which give evidence of our regeneration by the Holy Spirit.  We must not limit them to these, however.

'Good works' are works of love as well as of faith.  They express not only our loyalty to God, but our care for our fellows as well.  Indeed, the primary meaning of 'works' must be practical, visible deeds of compassion.  

It is when people see these, Jesus said, that they will glorify God, for they embody the good news of his love which we proclaim.  Without them our gospel loses its credibility and our God his honor."

Does that seem implausible to you?  That Jesus was thinking about US when he was talking about the light of the world?

But I will tell you a deeper mystery...

Can you picture the crowd before whom Jesus first said this?

It was just a relative handful of Palestinian peasants.  In an enemy-occupied land.  Who very justifiably felt like they had little to no influence over anything.  And this was some 2,000 years ago.

And yet... as theologian John Frame once said, "Christians down through the centuries, for distinctively Christian motives, have vastly influenced western culture in such areas as help for the poor, teaching of literacy, education for all, political freedom, economic freedom, science, medicine, the family, the arts, the sanctity of life.

"Without Jesus, without his gospel, without the influence of his people, all these areas of culture would be vastly different and very much worse."  

You are the light of the world.

But here's a question for you... how do you plan to stay enlightened?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Key To All Of History

Larry King, the legendary talk show host, was once asked whom he would like to interview if he could have his pick from all of human history.

Think about that for a moment... George Washington?... Thomas Jefferson?... Hellen Keller?... Alexander the Great?... Charles Darwin?... Harriet Tubman?... Sigmund Freud?... St. Augustine?... Emperor Constantine?... Hippocrates?... Aristotle?... Galileo?... Christopher Columbus?... Pocahontas?... Isaac Newton?... Michelangelo?... Leonardo da Vinci?... Mozart?... Beethoven?... Sacagawea?... Gautama Buddha?... Homer (not Simpson, but the other one)?... Anne Frank?... Julius Caesar?... Hitler?... Napoleon?... Jane Austin?... Muhammad?... Einstein?... Lincoln?... Shakespeare?... Marx?... Martin Luther?... Genghis Khan?... Joan of Arc?...

The list could go on for quite a while.  And, if you enjoy the mysterious story of history, each possibility has its own fascinations.

Larry King answered, "Jesus Christ."

The questioner paused.  And then asked his follow-up: "What is the one question you would like to ask him?"

Larry King: "I would ask him if he indeed was virgin born, because the answer to that would define history for me."