Sunday, July 22, 2007

What kind of judgment do we face?

Next time you get a speeding ticket try this: show up with your records of charitable giving. Bring your friends, neighbors, co-workers, children, spouse, et aliud with you to testify to how good you are in various aspects of your life. I really think it will work! Oh, Oh, here is another one: deny the authority, legitimacy, or existence of the court. There is a couple in New Hampshire that was recently in a standoff with the feds after being convicted of not paying taxes because they denied the existence of the law that required them to pay the taxes. And there were the dinosaur people in Florida that are in jail now for the same plan.
Really now, who would be dumb enough to try that? Yet that is exactly the plan that many people have in mind to do at the final judgement. Among other places Paul confronts this in his letter to the Colossians and Laodiceans when he says, “For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.”
We all understand this, right. If you speed or steal or murder, it really doesn't matter what else that person has done that is good, they are guilty. We often bridle to hear that some rich person gets off with a light sentence for DUI or tax evasion or some other infraction of the law because they have the ability to hire some great attorney for $500 an hour. Yet we instinctively feel that God is going to use this same kind of standard in his court.
We must remember that one of the great teachings of the entire Bible, Old and New Testaments is that God is the righteous judge. One day He will have every person stand before Him and He will judge them based on the wrong that they have committed and He will do it without partiality, without respect for different persons/stations in life or favoritism.
The good news is that we all have equal opportunity and access to hire for ourselves the greatest Advocate ever! Who could ever be a better person than the Son of God? What better person than one who never, ever even thought about transgressing any of God's righteous standards? And, the news gets even better! There is no retainer, no fee, no quid pro quo! All there is, is to ask Him to represent you at that tribunal.
That is the Good News. We can all have the lawyer that will get us off because He has already paid the penalty for our violation of God's law, for our unthankfulness and He can assure us of a good verdict! This is the message that we need to share with our friends and neighbors.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Do you Belive In Magic?

Two thoughts before I get into this one.

One: Yes, I cannot help but think of that old song that someone (?M&Ms?) used for a commercial back in the 70's or 80's.  A quick Google informs me that it was sung by a group with the inspired name of The Lovin' Spoonful.

Two: Yes, I heard that an obscure movie about some guy named Harry did come out this week.  I have been thinking about this post for a least a month.

Magic is one of those words that is pretty nebulous.  It can mean a lot of things in a lot of different contexts.  While some would object to using it in any Christian kind of sense it is in the KJV (you may find it as “magik”) so it must be alright.  Also, a lot of people have problems (understandably) with Hogwart's Magic but are not bothered by Aslan's or Gandalf's magic.  If you are oblivious to the references in the previous sentences then you probably ought to stop reading now.

I am not particularly taken with Potter but one thing I do like is that all the magic spells are just good ol' Latin!  And some of my favorite magical phrases are found in my Latin Bible.  But, I get ahead of myself.  What I am talking about here is the power of words.  The kind of words that when you hear them your heart leaps or your hair stands up.  Phrases that conjure up so much more than the sum of the words.  I want to share a few of my favorites and I would love to hear some of yours.  Yes, you, O Silent Reader.  I am attempting to draw you into clicking that little link that says “comment” and typing a few little words.  …Please?

Ecce homo!  Of course these are the words of Pontius Pilatus and they indicate the first vestige of the sufferings of Christ and are a small token of what is to follow.   This phrase is also powerful because where so many saw a mere man, some were starting to see much more and the whole point of the story is that this is no mere man being crucified!

“I Am”  This is perhaps the pre-eminent example.  First we see it in the story of Moses.  Then when they came to arrest Jesus.  What a power to make those wicked men step back by the mere speaking of the to be verb!

“But God…”  A common occurrence in the New Testament this phrase always catches my breath.  We often see it in the midst of a contrast between our natural condition and God's natural grace and mercy.

Lord Jesus Christ.  What a great truth is contained in these three little words.  The divinity, the humanity and the mission are combined in this name.  The whole gospel really is represented here.  That God would become man and die to redeem sinners is all encapsulated in that title for the savior!

Those are my four favorites so tell me about yours!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Gospel and Good Discipline

Many good churches are bringing back church discipline. There is a renewed teaching and understanding of the proper balance between confrontation and restoration. The Gospel is central to this balance. We must be confronted anew by the death of Christ because of sin and His resurrection to assure us of our new life in the Kingdom of God. Church discipline exists to call back erring brethren who are straying so that they can renew their life in Christ. It also exists to keep the church pure so that the Gospel message may be clearly heard in the world.
But there is another kind of discipline. Within the church members must hold each other accountable to live according to God's holiness. But between churches there is also a need for accountability. It cannot function exactly like discipline within the church but it still needs to exist. Think with me: a pastor is getting carried away with some fad. It is a fad that tends to blur and downplay the message of salvation. His fellow pastor friends see this trend and confront him. If he does not listen to them they cannot really call him up on disciple but they might end up separating from him. This separation should not be motivated by spite (“He didn't listen to me!”) or a false piety (“I just cannot be around someone like that.”) but by the Gospel. The desire to exert all our influence to bring that person back to the clear preaching of the good news of the Kingdom.
I believe much of the abuse of separation in Fundamentalism has been the failure to keep the Gospel as the central theme of separation. To maintain contact with those in evangelicalism who were really carrying out ministry in a manner that obscured the Gospel. We must separate from those who are not upholding the truth of scripture but we must leave the door open enough that we can continually call out to them with the Gospel, remind them of the need to stand and clearly proclaim the Good News and show by our love that the repentance and faith are at work to change our hearts.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Last July 4 was hot in Woodruff, SC.  I slept in since I did not have to go to work.  Also I was worn out from a late night party at Tom Williams house the night before!  About mid morning I was reading some blog articles.  I wanted to comment on one but I needed to have a account.  So I signed up for an account which meant I needed to have a blog name.  Once I had a blog I figured I would post something on it.  And that is how Standing on the Rock got started.

This is post number 37.  I have tremendously enjoyed the exercise of writing.  At the time I started I was midway through a professional writing course that I subsequently finished with an A.  One of my main goals was to continue writing to refine the lessons I learned in the class.  I feel that I have accomplished that goal.  I also wanted to get feedback from trusted friends on my writing.  In that goal I have not succeeded.  I have only seen a handful of comments from a fraction of the readers of this blog.  I do have several friends who faithfully read the blog and email me or personally tell me their thoughts on the articles.  I would like to see more online feedback however.  So that will be a goal for the coming year.

I never set out to compete with Tim Challies,  SharperIron, or the Pyros but I do look in on Site Meter from time to time to make sure that terrorists are not monitoring my words.  It has been amazing to see that people in Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, Ireland and all over the US have stopped by.  I hope that one thing I wrote might have an impact on some of these visitors.

So, being nostalgic and historic, this post marks the end of one year of blogging.  We will have to see what the year ahead holds!