Friday, July 21, 2017

Declaring Our Faith

In our everyday life we declare our faith in products and teams by the clothes we wear.  This past year for Christmas I received a Cleveland Indians hat, as well as a Pittsburgh Penguins hat.  When I bought gifts for my wife I bought her a Columbus Crew SC t-shirt, as well as a Pittsburgh Penguins t-shirt. 

My wife and I, like many other people in America – and around the world – declare our faith in our favorite teams by the clothes we wear. 

And even as we think of the clothes we wear, there are some team logos that we would rather not wear.  There are certain shirts or hats that we would really prefer not even to see in our closets. 

But when it comes to declaring our faith in Jesus Christ, what is the best way to do that? 

Interestingly enough, the Bible gives us two clear ways to declare our faith in Jesus.  The first way to declare our faith in Jesus is baptism.  In baptism, an individual declares that he or she is trusting in Jesus.  Baptism is the biblical means of making a public profession of faith in Jesus Christ. 

Baptism is the first way in which we make known to others that we are Christians.  Baptism is a one-time event in the life of a Christian. 

The second way which the Bible gives us to declare our faith in Jesus is the Lord’s Supper.  The Lord’s Supper is an ongoing or continual means of grace by which we declare our faith.  When we come to the Lord’s Table, we are giving evidence to our family and friends that we are still trusting in Jesus. 

We come to the Lord’s Table regularly declaring that we are sinners who have looked to Jesus in faith.  (There is more being said when we come to the Table.  But that much is at least being said.)

We declare our faith in Jesus through the ordinances of the church – baptism and the Lord’s Supper. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Glory in the Church

There is an old ditty that goes something like this . . .

To live above with saints I love
That will be glory
To live below with saints I know
That’s a different story.

This ditty certainly captures the experience that many people have with the church.  It captures the experience that many people have with professing Christians.  Unfortunately, we who name the name of Christ do not always live up to the name. 

But there is another side to the story.  For many times, those who profess faith in Jesus do live up to His name.  Many who profess faith in Jesus do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with their God (Micah 6:8). 

I have watched Christians change their evening plans just because someone at church needed a helping hand.  I have seen Christians open their wallets and pull out money to help others with a simple announcement that someone has a need. 

I have seen Christians develop friendships with new people who are very different from them just because they both believe in Jesus. 

I have known Christians who have fought their own temptations towards unjust anger, meanness, racism, and other attitudinal sins in order to be loving, and kind, and ethnically accepting because the gospel calls them to a new and better way of living. 

Yes. Christians are sinners. Heaven will be glorious.  But take a closer look at the church and see a picture of what God in Christ is doing this side of eternity. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

America the Beautiful

Over the last month my family has had the joy of making two different family trips.  One trip took us to Gettysburg, Washington DC, and Mount Vernon.  The other trip took us to Mississippi and Tennessee to visit family.  

Prior to those trips I have been down to Florida, into upstate New York, across the plains, and to the Northwest.  

As I reflect back on those many trips, I am thankful for the country which God has given to us.  

The land is beautiful.  The scenery is breathtaking.  That is true whether one stands on the coast and looks across the Ocean - whether the Atlantic or Pacific - or if one looks across the rolling plains.  The scenery is breathtaking when one looks upon the pines of the deep south or the towering trees of Oregon.   

The people are diverse.  Most of my friends are Anglo.  Yet, I have many more acquaintances of other ethnicities.  Most of the people I know are from the working class.  Yet, I have a few acquaintances who are from the upper class and even more from the poorer class. 

The freedoms are mind-boggling. And yet, they are easy to take for granted.  We can express our opinions.  We can speak out against our government without fear of execution.  We can stand in front of the White House and object to the way the President does things.  We can travel within this huge land without prior approval from the government.  We can gather for worship – or not. 

America is a beautiful land.