Happy Father’s Day

When I think of my parents and Annie’s parents, I know I am blessed. It is not often that a married couple like us can boast and thank the Lord for giving us godly parents that love the Lord.

So, when I see and read God referring to Himself as the Father, I am aware that my own Dad and Annie’s dad are not perfect examples of what God is like, but they aren’t inadequate either. They both give me glimpse of my Creator.

The passage that comes to my mind when I think of my Dad is Deuteronomy 6:6-9 – “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” My Dad bleeds the Bible. His ability to recall and integrate Scripture into life is unparalleled. He loves God’s Word more than man’s word. His relentless pursuit of knowing God inspires all who he shepherds as a pastor, befriends, and reaches out to. I am happy to have him as a Dad.

The verse that comes to my mind when I think of my father-in-law is Proverbs 20:7 – “The righteous who walks in his integrity – blessed are his children after him.” My father-in-law could be summed up with the word integrity. It suits him well as a man above reproach who serves as an elder at his church. He served in law enforcement for decades and kept his faith and testimony in the recurring challenges and temptations of evil. Both of these men are role models for all young men.

They are worthy of our admiration and a “Happy Father’s Day!”

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The 3 Moms In My Life

In Proverbs 31:10, the writer (maybe Solomon?), asked, “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.” These kinds of women are rare. You won’t find them in every home or church building. The writer, if it was Solomon, had about 1,000 women in his palace (300 concubines and 700 wives) and he didn’t see the virtues of a godly woman often.

So, it makes sense that when you find such a woman, that you honor her. This isn’t just a Mother’s Day kind of thing, but it’s a Proverbs 31:28, 31 kind of thing – “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her…A women who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.”

In the spirit of those verses, I want to give honor to the three mothers in my life. I can answer the question of Proverbs 31:10 because there are women of great virtue in my life.

First, there is my mother, Susan Heck. My mom possesses the faith of anyone listed in Hebrews 11 and the energy of the Apostle Paul. She is either on the move to disciple someone or in her home pouring herself into memorizing or studying God’s word. She is not idle. In fact, we joke about the turntables you put in a kitchen table called the “lazy Susan,” because that is most certainly not my mom. She continually shows us kids and grandkids commitment to God’s Word, love for mentoring others, and a dedication to dispensing wisdom when God allows, and I love her for it.

Second, there is my mother-in-law Kathy Greene. When I married Annie, I had no idea what I was getting myself into when it came to joining Annie’s family. I knew her mother a bit, but not near as much as I do now. What Kathy possesses that is rare in other women I see is discernment. She can process conversations, news reports, passages in books she is reading, and immediately get to the heart of the issue. Perhaps, that is why she is such an effective and often-sought-after biblical counselor. She loves helping people solve their problems and has deep empathy for people in her life, and I love her for it.

Third, there is my own wife Annie (short for Andrea). I get to see her “up close and personal” every day as she mothers our 3 boys. And it blows me away with the kind of intentionality she has with our kids that I have never seen in anyone else. She shepherds them in the way that Psalm 23 describes. In fact, I have often thought that if God allowed women to be pastors (and that’s another subject for another time), that Annie would be a far better pastor in the church than me, because she has a natural bent towards taking people where they need to go and inspiring people to love God and His Word, and I love her for it.

I am blessed with these 3 women. I have found the virtuous woman…threefold.

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What About CEO’s?

Have you heard the term CEO as a reference to those who attend church on Christmas and Easter Only? There is a segment of society that will not come to church the other 50 Sundays of the year, but on Christmas and Easter, you can expect they will be present to boost your attendance.

Image result for christmas easter onlyWhat motivates such a section of society to attend on these 2 Sundays? What could possibly compel someone to attend on Christmas or Easter?

I cannot imagine these are genuine believers who are attending on these 2 Sundays only and then avoiding the other 50 Sundays. This Christian CEO would be living in violation of passages like Hebrews 10:24-25.

I suppose some might come for the gimmicks or the giveaways that, unfortunately, some churches will use as a bartering chip to get people to come to their church service.

I do have one theory, and it is a Scriptural one. Perhaps CEO’s are coming to church to ease their conscience. Yes, their conscience.

We all have a conscience. The conscience is our moral awareness of right and wrong (II Corinthians 5:11). Whether we are redeemed or not, we have a conscience and the better it is informed by Scripture, the more likely we are to have a conscience that aligns with God’s will.

But that doesn’t mean that a conscience of a non-Christian is wrong. In Romans 2:12-16, the Apostle Paul says that every person has the law of God written in their heart. This means that every human being has an internal “notifier” of what is pleasing to God and what saddens God.

Now certainly, the more we deny God, the harder our heart becomes and the more likely we are to sear our conscience and be abandoned to our depraved thinking (Romans 1:18-25).

So back to my question – why do we have CEO’s today?

I believe, somewhere in the heart of every man, he knows He was created to worship (Mark 11:17; John 4:0-24; Revelation 22:9). This is why idolatry is so easy – because it is a form of worship. Until we give ourselves to Christ as our Lord and Savior, we will continue to produce idols. Like John Calvin said, our hearts are an idol factory.

CEO’s exist because worship is their designed purpose.

I am thankful we have CEO’s because it is one more opportunity to proclaim the reconciliation of God to every man (II Corinthians 5:19-20). And thank the Lord that there are evidences of His design in His creation in both redeemed and unredeemed humanity.


If Christ Is Not Raised (Part 7)

As Christians, we are people of hope, because Christ accomplished something we couldn’t accomplish – a perfectly righteous life and an acceptable sacrifice of death and resurrection. And this guarantees us salvation if we call upon Him as Lord and Savior. But if that stone remained over the entrance to the tomb, and Jesus stayed wrapped in his garments, and His body decayed and He never rose from the dead, Paul says, “we are of all people most to be pitied.”

That may be the ultimate example of wasting your life. Charles Spurgeon said, “To be born into the Christian life, which gives great pain and sorrow, would be a miserable thing if it were not compensated by the hope of glory that we have in Christ.”

The sad reality is that many are living without hope!

Many refuse to acknowledge Jesus as Lord so there is no reason to hope past this life, and there is no comfort in death. They are living as if they resurrection didn’t happen.

Here is our hope – “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (I Cor 15:20). And it’s because of truths like this that we can sing refrains like this

“Christ alone; cornerstone

Weak made strong; in the Saviour’s love

Through the storm, He is Lord, Lord of all.”

If Christ Is Not Raised (Part 6)

If Christ is not raised, there is no eternity in heaven – “Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished” (I Corinthians 15:18).

Paul says, “If Christ didn’t raise from the dead, then everyone who has died claiming to be a Christian, won’t enjoy eternal life with their Creator but either eternal condemnation or annihilation (depending on how you translate that word “perished.”) Either way, it’s not eternal life with God in heaven … and that’s awful.

We might believe one thing and end up somewhere else. There would be no future of any kind. In fact, our whole existence – past, present and future – is pointless.

R.C.H. Lenski writes about this predicament of ours without the resurrection –

“They love and die without God and hope in this world. But it is still more pitiful, because it is far more tragic, to have a great hope in the heart throughout life, to shape the whole life according to that hope, to crucify the flesh, to war against temptation, to bear the cross, to suffer reproach and many other ills for the sake of this hope, and then in the end to have that hope turn out to be an iridescent bubble, a vacuous dream. This is Paul’s commentary on a Christianity that exists for this life only without regard to what is to come thereafter. Yet this is the type of Christianity that not a few seek to popularize at the present time. A Christianity without a risen Christ and the sure and certain hope of our resurrection from the grave, whatever men may say in laudation of its moral influence and its good works, is worse than none.” (I-II Corinthians, pg. 658)

Imagine the anger and despair if you woke up in hell and you were able, in between the reverberation of pain and suffering, able to converse with another sufferer and asked him, “What happened? Why are we here?”

Imagine in between the tears of pain, that person responded to you, “Jesus didn’t really conquer death. His skeleton is still in that tomb. Salvation was not accomplished. We are here for good!” Can you think of any worse news than that?

Let me illustrate this another way. Remember the death of a loved one that knew the Lord. Remember the glimmer of hope and encouragement you found in knowing that you would see them again in glory. It helped the pain subside a bit knowing that their departure would not the end of your being with them.

Well, if Jesus didn’t raise from the dead, that hope and encouragement has been all erased. There will be nothing but terrible silence when they are put into the ground.

If Christ Is Not Raised (Part 5)

If Christ is not raised, we are still condemned by our sin – “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (I Corinthians 15:17).

Is there any worse news than this? If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, our “sins” still condemn us. We would still have to face the consequences of our sin and death. When Jesus was speaking to the religious leaders, he told them he was going to leave earth and the consequence of their rejection would be this – “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come” (John 8:21). Paul is saying, “If Jesus didn’t raise from the dead, that will be you too – regardless of how much good works you accumulate.”

One of my favorite Gospel verses in Scripture is II Corinthians 5:21 – “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” But if Jesus didn’t raise from the dead, the truth would really be this – “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, but WE WILL REMAIN IN SIN, because HE FAILED TO ESCAPE THE GRAVE.”

How about John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”? If Jesus didn’t raise from the dead, we’d read, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, but HIS SON DIED AND COULDN’T DEFEAT DEATH, so WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM IS A LIAR, and WILL PERISH AND NOT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE.”

How about Romans 8:1 – “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”? If Jesus didn’t raise from the dead, we would read that verse this way – “There is therefore STILL condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

And you could even read Revelation 5:9 this way – “You (referring to Jesus Christ) ARE NOT WORTHY to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain and BURIED AND YOU REMAINED THERE, and your blood was not ransomed for people from every tribe and language and people and nation.” In fact, that verse wouldn’t even exist, because Jesus would still be in the grave!

Without the resurrection of Christ, we are still condemned. His death would have accomplished nothing. At best, it could have been made into another movie about a hero who loves the people he died for. But there would be no atonement, no justification, no sanctification and no glorification without Jesus defeat of death and raising from the dead. There would be no rescue from sin.