Welcome to our new pastor, Mike Srisam-ang, his wife Hannah, with their two daughters!
Let worldly minds the world pursue,
It has not charms for me;
Once I admired its trifles too,
But grace has set me free.
Its pleasures now no longer please,
No more content afford;
Far from my heart be joys like these,
Now I have seen the Lord.
As by the light of opening day
The stars are all concealed;
So earthly treasures fade away,
When Jesus is revealed.
Creatures no more divide my choice;
I bid them all depart;
His name, and love, and gracious voice,
Have fixed my roving heart.
Now, Lord, I would be thine alone,
And wholly live to thee;
But may I hope that thou wilt own,
A worthless worm like me!
Yes; though of sinners I’m the worst,
I cannot doubt thy will;
For if thou hadst not loved me first,
I thee had hated still.
– John Newton
How are believers to win the war against worldliness? God’s people are called to be holy; the repentance through which we are first saved is intended to become a lifestyle of repentance and separation from the fallen world around us. We must be careful to define what the “world” is if we are to properly understand what it means to be worldly. The “world” in the negative sense is not the physical creation, and it isn’t even really physical things (unless they are being used for sinful purposes). The world is the organized system of opposition to God and His rule, inhabited by fallen humans and demons, and expressed both in sinful attitudes/actions/desires/words and in the unique cultural systems and structures that manifest rebellion against God. One theologian wrote that the world is “the bad part of culture.” As such, separation form worldliness often includes separation from our culture, whether in attitude, affection, values, behavior, or even those much-contested things like dress, entertainment, use of money and time, etc. Read more
In his tremendous book The Messiah in the Old Testament, Walter Kaiser writes, “…the OT presents the concept of the Messiah and his work in the context of an eternal plan, which was unfolded before the eyes of Israel and the watching world. …the depictions [in prophecy] concerning the Messiah and his work comprised one continuous plan of God.” That plan, Kaiser writes, centers around God’s promise to Israel and the nations of all He will be and do for them in Jesus Christ. Read more
What benefit is there to following Christ? This is not an inherently inappropriate or selfish query. A Kantian ethic that argues total disinterest in reward or benefit is necessary for an action to be truly moral is foreign to sacred Scripture, which commands us to delight ourselves in the Lord and receive the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4). God wants us to desire good things, to desire Him, and to enjoy all His gifts—spiritual, material, eternal, and temporal alike—with lavish abandon. Read more
What is impossible for people is possible with God. Such a declaration—underscoring at least His omnipotence, if not His willingness and His love—is fundamental to a biblical portrait of God. We often think of God’s omnipotence in the context of overt miracles like parting the Red Sea or the Virgin Birth. But the Bible teaches God also demonstrates omnipotence in the saving of sinners. There are at least two reasons this must be the case. First, God is perfectly holy, and we are not; indeed, we cannot meet His high standard on our own and so we need a perfect alien righteousness that comes to us apart from our efforts or initiation. Second, our hearts are spiritually dead, rebellious, and God-hating by nature. How is this to be remedied apart from the sovereign, overcoming power of God? The answer, to the renewed mind, is obvious. Read more
Jesus came to save the lost. In His glorification between the Advents, He sends out His people to continue His saving mission: “As the Father has sent me, so send I you” (John 20:21). The professing church has existed for 2000 years and has had unparalleled institutional influence on culture, especially in the West. This has created many religious (to varying degrees!) but lost people. Some think they’re saved because they were baptized as a baby and have not killed anyone. Some think that God overlooks their sins because He knows no one is perfect. They have any number of excuses, rationalizations, and evasions to justify their unbelief, their external religiosity, and their refusal to come under full subjection to Christ through His covenant text. Read more
The United States, along with much of the West, experiences a unique, spiritually-charged state of affairs: No other part of the world has as enduring a Christian influence and history (though Africa was vibrantly Christian long before the gospel took full root in the West, the violent encroachment of Islam as well as lingering paganism obliterated Christianity in that region almost entirely until the modern missionary movement) while simultaneously having so thoroughly and aggressively apostatized from that privilege. While the influence of Christian theism on the West in general and America in particular is indelible and has shaped the consciences, worldview, and affections of millions of people, the current state of affairs in our fair nation is anything but open to a fully robust Christian worldview. While God is still at work, and not every place is equally capitulated to the spirit of the age, there is a deeply-rooted and harsh anti-Christ system that paints every institution and cultural endeavor progressively more bleakly. Read more
That God has a kingdom in both heaven and on earth, one over which He rules with uncontested sovereignty as Lord and King, and which is inhabited by all intelligences both human and angelic which have bowed the knee in obedience to Him, is the grand theme of Scripture. This kingdom was established in Eden; endured after the Fall in all those who yielded to Him in faith; narrowed to Israel and its divine unconditional promises in the majority of the Old Testament; was enlarged upon and would one day find ultimate consummation through the many prophecies that contributed to God’s total promise; was idealized in the reigns of David and Solomon (both being in different ways a type of the ultimate Messiah and Seed of David); clung to by the remnant before, during, and after the Exile; and was the hope of the thousands of godly, saved Jews through four hundred years of silence until God sent His final OT prophet, the Baptist, to prepare the way for His incarnation. The promised kingdom was near, John cried to the penitent thousands in the wilderness. Those men and women, along with Mary, Anna, Simeon, Joseph, Zechariah, Elizabeth, and many others were the godly remnant who had always carried within themselves the hope of complete fulfillment of all God had promised. They comprised the kingdom remnant in the time between the Covenants. Read more
Marriage is one of the most common and least understood relationships in human experience. Over its millennia-long history, no relationship has been more misunderstood, misused, abused, or twisted beyond God’s original intention. If we believe in a real devil (and we should), and that God ultimately designed marriage to be a deeply profound, physical portrait of His union with His people (and He did), then the myriad distortions and misuses of the marriage relationship ought to be understood as a direct attack on a gospel-proclaiming divine institution by the Enemy of God and men’s souls. We must also realize that this attack did not begin with the push towards homosexual “marriage.” At least in our own nation, an increasing secularization and undue emphasis on personal fulfillment reshaped marriage as an autonomous, inward-focused relationship revolving around the personal satisfaction and fulfillment of the individual parties, sexually and otherwise, rather than a one-flesh union designed by God to say something to the world about Him and that was positioned outward, towards the welcoming of new life. Read more