Tag Archives: Abraham

Gospel Centered Worldview: God’s Plan for His Church

In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Romans 4:18-21

“…and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:18-19

This is the next in this series of posts for church leaders about a “Gospel Centered Worldview”, and how we must lead God’s people from that frame of reference. Today, we look at how that worldview informs our perspective on the future of the church.

killing christiansMaybe you heard, ISIS is killing Christians. Social media has raised much awareness of it (which, by the way, is perhaps furthering the terrorist’s agenda more than our own agenda). But, in case your own Facebook page is not exploding with those images and stories, I recommend your checking out (and supporting) Voice of the Martyrs, a ministry which does an amazing job of helping us know how we can be praying for the persecuted church all around the world. I also strongly recommend Nik Ripken’s The Insanity of God for a deeper understanding of the spiritual privilege of being persecuted for righteousness’ …

The God App

Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. Genesis 15:13-15

And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.” Exodus 2:9-10

God appI can only imagine the despair and hopelessness that would set in after 400 years of affliction, and generation after generation born into slavery. Even with amazing stories of God’s work among and through their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, the Hebrew slaves in Egypt had to have lost their hope in the God of their fathers. After some 400 years of virtual silence, there had to have been a strong feeling of God turning his back on them, or even abandoning them altogether. And the tiny miracle of Moses’ life being spared and being raised in Pharaoh’s palace would likely have been completely missed or overlooked by the vast majority of those slaves. It would be 80 more years of slave labor before that tiny little miracle would even begin to bear fruit. Good news: God has a plan and in another 80 years or so, He will launch it!

When we (either individually or even as a church) find ourselves in such a hard season of slavery or hard work or otherwise feeling that God is …

Flying by Instruments

Thursday Re-mix:

…and I bowed down and worshiped the Lord. I praised the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road to get the granddaughter of my master’s brother for his son.  Genesis 24:48

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. Hebrews 3:1

cockpit instrumentsFor pilots, learning to fly by instruments is an important skill.  It is what a pilot must do when all the other more conventional ways of “getting your bearings” fall by the wayside.  When darkness and weather and confusion and chaos make it difficult to figure out which way is up and which way is down, all a pilot has left is the cockpit instruments.

I was reminded of that when I found myself preparing a lesson from the story of Isaac and Rebekah.  It is a story chock full of ancient culture about betrothal and marriage and what seems to our modern world to be a horribly flawed and archaic and unromantic matrimonial system.  At first glance, it is not an easy task pulling relevant truths out of this story…truths which we can apply to our lives today.  It would be easy to read this unusual story about marriage and lose your bearings trying to find a lesson.

For example, Abraham sent his servant off to a faraway land to find a wife for his (Abraham’s) son.  O.K., not gonna learn from that…for so many reasons.  The servant chose a blood cousin of the groom to be the bride…this would become a pattern for this family.  Not gonna use that lesson either.  The bride’s family blessed her, saying, “May your offspring possess the cities of their enemies!”  Um…no.  Then there is …

Good News and Bad News for Your Church

The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. Ezekiel 18:20

I have good news and bad news for your church and for mine. The good news: no matter how many wrong choices your church may have made in the past, God is still willing to work through you today, if you will humble yourselves and seek after Him. The bad news: you get little credit for the amazing things in your church’s past…it is your current testimony that matters. This generation of your church will stand alone in its effectiveness.

standing aloneEzekiel was dealing with the first group of Hebrews exiled to Babylon. They were the young, best and brightest of the Hebrew society. They were the intelligent, creative, young leaders. Before the exile, they had their whole productive lives in front of them. But now, it was all for naught. For all practical purposes, their productive lives were over. They would now spend the rest of those lives in exile. No surprise, then, they felt “robbed”…and they blamed their parents. They blamed the stiff-necked, rebellious nature of the generations before them for their current sad state.

The irony is that, for generations now, those very Hebrew people had been living off of the “favored” status of their own forefathers before the Lord. They had all the stories of a mighty God who had faught their forefather’s battles and who had miraculously saved them time and time again. They were living off the very spotty righteousness of their forefathers. “God promised our father, Abraham…we are his favored people.”

Do you see the pattern?…

Laughter in the Hallways

Tuesday Re-mix – 

Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” Genesis 21:6

“I always want to pastor a church where there is laughter in the hallways.” Those were some of the very first words I ever heard my pastor speak.  Some sixteen years ago, when I had the privilege of making the very nervous “first contact” with him as a candidate in our church’s pastor search process, these words were a part of his vision for how a New Testament church should look.  And in keeping with that vision, his very first sermon at our church was from Genesis 21…Sarah’s laughter and what it teaches us.


There is supposed to be laughter among God’s people.  It is a sign of healthy relationships, of inner peace, and in some cases, of faith.

There is, of course, more than one kind of laughter.  There is laughter that is about how ridiculous people can be.  There is laughter that is nervous.  There is laughter that is pretense.  But the kind of laughter I am talking about is laughter which comes from amazement of what God has done or of what God is doing.  It is the same kind of laughter Sarah talks about in Genesis 21.  You see, God had made a promise to Sarah’s husband Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation.  That promise came when Sarah was already 65 years old.  Twenty-five years later, at the ripe old age of 90, Sarah is still without child.  She was now long past the child-bearing years and was living in a culture where few things were more humiliating for a woman than to be barren.  Surely, she (and her husband) were the subject of plenty of whispers and …

Languages of Worship (The Biblical Illustration)

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him. Genesis 12:7

David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might… II Samuel 6:14

Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. John 12:3

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death… Philippians 3:10

My first post on this topic (and by this title) was  here.  Think of it as an introduction.

If you have ever had to plan a corporate or “gathered” worship experience for a diverse group of people, you know how challenging it can be.  This person prefers hymns, that person prefers choruses.  This person loves  Power Point, that person hates it, and so on and so forth.  And it is those differences in preferences which have contributed to what we call the “worship wars” troubling so many of our churches today.

I believe those differences can be sorted out into two categories.  Some of them have to do with cultural upbringing.  In that respect, the preferences are learned languages which we have developed over time.  I grew up singing hymns so I have developed a love for them, a preference.  Others did not grow up with them and find them to be difficult to understand.  They prefer a more “user friendly” chorus.  This category of preferences is very …