Good websites on Election

There are plenty more (which I will add in the near future).

 

https://www.gty.org/library/articles/A331

https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/pastoral-thoughts-on-the-doctrine-of-election

http://www.walkingwithgiants.net/salvation/election/jc-ryle-on-election/

Short article here:

 https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/how-do-i-explain-election-over-brunch

Good short book:

 https://www.9marks.org/review/book-review-does-god-desire-all-to-be-saved-by-john-piper/

Free download of  Dr. Piper's  book here:

 https://www.desiringgod.org/books/does-god-desire-all-to-be-saved

Posted on August 31, 2018 .

Sermon Notes on Election from Ephesians 1 August 26 2018

My notes have been reformatted here, but I hope the content is helpful and God-glorifying in our lives together.  

Monument Hill Church

“To the Praise of His Glorious Grace, Part II”

Ephesians 1:4-14 Page   976

August 26, 2018

Pastor Tom Clemmons

 

PRAYER

 

We were made to display the all-satisfying beauty and greatness of God by savoring him as the supreme treasure of our lives.” Help us to Grow in Grace together!!

 

WELCOME of Guests/Connect Card/

Scripture Reading is:  Ephesians 1:1-14          (976   in the Chair Bible)

INTRODUCTION

Last week I introduced the Book of Ephesians by saying that the Apostle Paul wrote this circular letter to new Believers churches in and around Ephesus.  Paul’s joy in the Lord overflowed into words of praise to the glorious God of His salvation.  Writing from his imprisonment in Rome, he had a passion to share God’s eternal plan for everyone – Jews AND Gentiles…so we are focusing on what Christians should believe as he unfolds the glorious riches of His grace found in Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Remember, a key theme throughout this book will be :

“You have received supernatural grace for the glory of God, so therefore, LIVE in supernatural UNITY to the glory of God.”  Look at that closely…

You and I, Christian, received grace…unmerited favor…for the glory of God…and when you and I realize that God would love us so much to guarantee our salvation…we cannot help but LIVE a new supernatural life…because He has changed us, and we live this new life together as Christians UNIFIED around WHAT?  the Gospel of Jesus Christ…we have the most important reality right…we live by faith in Christ, unified around a mission to bring Glory to God.

Please listen carefully, yes, I said we are to be unified in and around the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and now I am preaching on Election, which has historically been one of the most divisive Biblical doctrines throughout church history.  :o)

Church, it does not need to be divisive at all, because the Bible, which IS God’s word, clearly teaches that God is Sovereign, that He elects his family members in love, and that we are responsible to repent of our sins, believe the Gospel, and bear witness to others that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

As we jump into verses 4 through 6 this morning, may I ask you a question?  Are you teachable?  I was 33 or 34 years old when a few dear brothers showed me clearly that Election is a beautiful doctrine which has powerfully propelled them and missionaries and evangelists to go to the hardest places in the world to speak the Gospel because God can save anyone.  But our minds, if not led by the Spirit of God, try to rationalize, “Well, if God is Sovereign and has Elected His people, He doesn’t need me…and to that, I graciously and authoritatively say “He does NOT need you” …if you think He does, then you think too highly of yourself and perhaps that’s why you may not believe in the Biblical Doctrine of Election. (and it’s not all your fault, as we all have grown up in a secular culture which says you and I are the center of the universe -  that you’re Number 1!  Well if you’ve been told that lie all your life, it is very loving for me to burst that sinful bubble.  Life is not about you.  Life is about knowing God and loving Him and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ and loving others by telling them about Christ.   Please hear this:  our God is not a needy God…but in His LOVE He chose you, Christian, you didn’t earn your salvation nor deserve it, because before you were in Christ, you were in and of the world, spiritually dead in your trespasses and sin, more lost than you could imagine…and you were a slave to sin, and man-centeredness and selfishness…your heart was hard and dark…the Bible affirms all of that ( The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9 ESV) Everyone needs a heart transplant!  A New heart?!

But in LOVE our passage said, in LOVE He predestined you to be holy and blameless, child of God…and that is GRACE…not cheap grace but costly grace…and you can’t have grace without Election….let me unpack this Biblically…with Bibles open and minds and hearts open to hear from God’s Word, let’s learn some Biblical truth that can revolutionize your life and bring you great joy and peace in finally believing that God is God  - and you and I are not. As Jonathan Edwards once said, one day I fell in love with the Sovereignty of God.” Me too.  One day I hated the idea of God’s Election and the next I loved the sweet loving, Biblical doctrine of Election. That was over 20 years ago.  Thank God for a teachable spirit.  Let’s hear God’s Word again:

Ephesians 1:4–6

even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (ESV)

Paul praises God here that God CHOSE US in Him, that’s in Christ, BEFORE the foundation of the world….  Do you know what God is teaching us in His inspired Word here about Election…he is teaching us that GOD CHOSE us in Christ before the foundation of the world.  The Greek word ( for chose is  Ex -el- lex’-uh-toe) 3rd person singular  HE CHOSE...Show interlinear. 

1586 [e]
exelexato
ἐξελέξατο
he chose
V-AIM-3S

Yes, praise God He chose us because I wouldn’t have chosen Him first!  He Chose us and the Greek word for Predestined is (Phonetic Spelling: (pro-or-id'-zo) means Predestined… (Interlinear again??)  . I don’t fully understand why He did that but I know what His Word says...it says that we SHOULD BE HOLY AND BLAMELESS BEFORE HIM…IN LOVE…..He predestined us for adoption into His Family… Praise Him again!

Now do you consider yourself this morning to be holy and blameless before God?  That you haven’t sinned, you are perfect? Let me help some of you with an answer….you are not holy nor blameless for all of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…if you claim to be without sin you are a liar…1 John:1:10 says  10If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

BUT GOD CHOSE us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before Him…not sinner not liars… We need Someone who can forgive our sins…

And His Name is Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God.,…and the verse right before 1 John 1:10 is this:

 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) 

Either Christ will has paid for your sin and sins or you will.  You and I deserve punishment…you and I deserve Hell, and someone had to take our place...stay with me….

In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (ESV)

God’s word says that if you are a Christian today…you were predestined to become a Christian…chosen before the foundation of the world…and this was a loving act of God…according to His WILL….to the praise of his glorious grace…which cannot be earned by any works at all….right?  So His election of his people was and is a loving act…and those of us who have been saved by His grace alone have therefore obviously been elected…chosen by God…and the means by which you  heard the Gospel and repented and believed were determined by God…because none of you saved yourself….the person who shared the Gospel didn’t save you either, HOWEVER that beautiful person was God’s appointed means for you to hear the Gospel, be convicted of your sinful condition or total depravity before a holy God….and the Spirit of God convicted you of your sin and drew you to repentance and faith! 

Now, there was a lot there…l think it will be helpful to define some terms and then show you why election is Biblical and glorious and essential for everyone to understand:

Election is a demonstration of the sovereign love of God in knowing, choosing, saving, and safeguarding particular people to be members of his family forever, apart from any merit or credentials on the part of those chosen. 

Wayne Grudem captures this well in his Systematic Theology:

The doctrine of election tells us that I am a Christian simply because God in eternity past decided to set his love on me. But why did he decide to set his love on me? Not for anything good in me, but simply because he decided to love me. There is no more ultimate reason than that.

It humbles us before God to think in this way. It makes us realize that we have no claim on God’s grace whatsoever. Our salvation is totally due to grace alone. Our only appropriate response is to give God eternal praise. (687)

The godly bishop of Liverpool, England, J.C, Ryle wrote that:

The true doctrine of Election I believe to be as follows.

God has been pleased from all eternity to choose certain men and women out of mankind, whom by His counsel secret to us, He has decreed to save by Jesus Christ.

None are finally saved except those who are thus chosen. Hence the Scripture gives to God's people in several places the names of "God's Elect," and the choice or appointment of them to eternal life is called "God's election."

Those men and women whom God has been pleased to choose from all eternity, He calls in time, by His Spirit working in due season. He convinces them of sin. He leads them to Christ. He works in them repentance and faith. He converts, renews, and sanctifies them. He keeps them by His grace from falling away entirely, and finally brings them safe to glory. In short God's eternal Election is the first link in that chain of a sinner's salvation of which heavenly glory is the end. None ever repent, believe, and are born again, except the Elect. The primary and original cause of salvation, is God's eternal election.

But pastor, I was brought up in a church, perhaps even my own parents, who didn’t believe in Election.  ((I’ve heard it all before, “If God Chooses some to be Elect and not others, well that is unfair at best and evil at worst…and I don’t want to worship a God who is not loving.”  I want to help you today by showing you that God is loving in choosing His children. Much more loving than you and I.))

I know that The doctrine of Election is a difficult one for many people. I want to be gracious here, as I used to reject this doctrine myself, but then I saw it all over the Bible.  Yes, People struggle with the justice of the idea that God chooses some for salvation and passes over others. Some people argue that it is a matter of God's foreknowledge. God knows in advance which people are going to choose him, and therefore he responds by choosing them.

The Bible, however, is clear. God's love for his chosen people existed long before their birth, all the way back to the foundation of the world (here in Eph. 1:4-5). God does not love us because he foresaw we would love him. Rather, we love God because he loved us from the first

16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion,1 but on God, who has mercy. Rom. 9:16.  

Apart from God’s electing grace, you and I would never choose God because we are born sinners, totally alienated from God…the Bible says there is none righteous (Romans 3:10)…that means none - so we need any and all righteousness to come from outside of ourselves…we are incapable of saving our own souls…our will is fallen and sinful and we will always choose sin UNLESS God calls us by means of the Gospel of His glorious grace in Christ.

I will say this several times:   The problem is not with God’s election of His people,

the problem is with people who elect not to believe in God!

JC Ryle, godly pastor in England in the 19th century wrote that “The same inspired Bible which reveals this doctrine of Election is the Bible which contains the words,  SLIDE:  "Why will you die, O house of Israel?" "You will not come unto Me that you might have life." "This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." (Ezek. 18:31; John 5:40; 3:19.)

The Bible never says that sinners miss heaven because they are not Elect— but because they "neglect the great salvation," and because they will not repent and believe. SLIDE:  The last judgment will abundantly prove that it is not the lack of God's Election, so much as laziness, the love of sin, unbelief, and unwillingness to come to Christ, which ruins the souls that are lost.” (Old Paths, Election, p. 7)  GREAT little book!  I encourage you to read it if you have more questions on Election than I can answer in one sermon…or two…or three.

But what we really need to know about Election is whether it is taught in God’s Word or not?  That should settle it.  I also have more from that Election chapter by JC Ryle where he convincingly says that the Bible clearly teaches God’s election of individuals.

SLIDES:   Is Election in the Bible, or is it not? Does the Bible speak of certain people as God's Elect, or not? Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ says, SLIDE:  "For the Elect's sake the days shall be shortened." (Matt. 24:22.) "If it were possible they should deceive even the Elect." (Mark 13:22.) "He shall send His angels, and they shall gather together His Elect." (Matt. 24:31.) "Shall not God avenge His own Elect?" (Luke 18:7.) Hear what Paul says. SLIDES "For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified." (Romans 8:29- 30) "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's Elect?" (Rom. 8:33.) "God has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world." (Ephes. 1:4.) "Who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works—but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." (2 Tim. 1:9.) "God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." (2 Thess. 2:13.) SLIDE:  Hear what Peter says, "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 1:2.) "Give diligence to make your calling and Election sure." (2 Peter 1:10.) I place these eleven texts before my readers, and I ask them to consider them well. If words have any meaning at all, they appear to me to teach most plainly the doctrine of personal Election.  Now, are you ready to answer the question…

Does the Bible really teach election in other places…than Ephesians 1…yes!

Yes, this Biblical truth of God choosing a people to display His glory is not new.  We know that God chose the world for His glory.  He chose Abraham to bring a blessing to the nations in Genesis 12:1–3

The Call of Abram

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (ESV)

God Chose the nation of Israel that they might be a light to the nations. (Deut 7:6-8, 14:2, and Isaiah 42:6-8)

God chose Jacob and God chose the prophets….

God chose His Son to save His elect, to redeem His people. 

Jesus chose each of his 12 disciples to bear fruit and multiply:

John 15:16

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. (ESV)

Very clear in Scripture that God regularly chooses His people for His mission…He chooses individuals for His family…to be His adopted sons and daughters. If you’re a child of God, then praise Him that He chose you.  If you are not a child of God, then repent today…surrender your life to Christ, believe in Him and follow Him…and make your calling and election sure….  (“Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall” (2 Peter 1:10).

Our statement of faith says this about the Biblical doctrine of Election:

Full text of Article 5: God's Purpose of Grace

Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God's sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.

All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

Genesis 12:1-3Exodus 19:5-81 Samuel 8:4-7,19-22Isaiah 5:1-7Jeremiah 31:31ff.; Matthew 16:18-1921:28-4524:22,31;25:34Luke 1:68-792:29-3219:41-4424:44-48John 1:12-143:165:246:44-45,6510:27-2915:1617:6,12,17-18Acts 20:32Romans 5:9-108:28-3910:12-1511:5-7,26-361 Corinthians 1:1-2

  Let me briefly detail 4 of the blessings of Election for you” (( JUST SAY THE FIRST LINES mostly)  TIME??

1) Election eliminates boasting because Election means that salvation is solely from God. As Paul says here in Ephesians 1…

*He chose…He predestined…He has freely given…and all this is to the praise of His glorious grace.

Only Election gets rid of all grounds for boasting.  There is none righteous on our own, no not one!  (Romans 3:10)   We who boast, boast in the cross…boast in the Lord!  ("Let him who boasts boast in the Lord. 1 Cor 18:31 )  SLIDE  

2)  Another blessing of election is That Election gives assurance of salvation.  But what if it was the other way around?  Suppose our works played a part….well, then our eternal salvation would be as unstable as we are…we might be safe at one moment and lost the next, based on our merits or lack thereof

If you’re his son or daughter, if you are a child of God, God predestined that you would be before the foundation of the world…and He was sovereign over the means to save you.

3)  A Third blessing of Election is that Election leads to Holiness.  Some people not well-grounded in their Bibles say, “Well, if I am elect, then I guess I will be saved regardless of what I do or don’t do…so I’ll sin all I want to.”  Several problems with that sentence and unbiblical worldview…First, verse 3 says that election leads to holiness…so if you still are enslaved to sin then you may be Elect but not yet regenerate or saved…because once the Spirit of God indwells a Believer, a truly born-again Christian, then your “wanter”, Your desires, your heart, has been changed and you will no longer be satisfied in your sin,,,,you see, election to salvation and election to holiness go together..

I like what John Stott says about this, He said “Far from encouraging sin, the doctrine of Election forbids it and lays upon us the necessity of holiness.”

Let me take that a step further…church, if you are not growing in Christlikeness or holiness and you have no desire to grow in holy living, you are either not born again yet… or not elect…you are still in your sins…you must be born again, as Jesus said in John 3:7:

“Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’”  Jesus Christ

 Church the beautiful doctrine of Election leads to Holiness…after God saves you, then, you will desire to please Him and rid your life of sinful pride and ugly self-centeredness. 

4) and lastly, let me blow some of your minds…Election promotes evangelism….before I embraced the Doctrines of Grace over 20 years ago now, and particularly the Biblical doctrine of Election, I believed like many do, that “if God is going to save certain folks anyways, then he will save them without me.”  Well, if you know your Bible it doesn’t work that way.  He does Elect and just because He elects, it does not negate the fact that He chooses the means by which He calls His elect to faith.  One of the means that God uses is the proclamation of the Gospel to sinners BY THOSE of us who already believe -- Look at 1 Corinthians 1:21:   

For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. (ESV)

Dr R.C. Sproul famously said that:  We must never underestimate the importance of our role in evangelism. Neither must we overestimate it. We preach. We bear witness. We provide the outward call. But God alone has the power to call a person to himself inwardly. I do not feel cheated by that. On the contrary, I feel comforted. We must do our job, trusting that God will do his.

Again, church,  The problem is not with God’s election of His people,

the problem is with people who elect not to believe in God!

Election leads me to share the Gospel with everyone, even you today. The Spirit led ne to share the Gospel With two men this week. Bring up a spiritual discussion and see where God takes it!  We must tell the Good News. Tell someone that God can save you!  He can save anybody, the hardest person who is mean to people daily and the nicest person who also sins every day not knowing or acknowledging that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.  They both need to be saved. Is either Elect? I don’t know and neither do you!  :o)

And because we do not know who God has elected, we believe that He uses us as the means, the Spirit-filled means of witnessing to His grace and glory! 

and I guarantee you this…

When you pray for others to come to Christ, to be saved by God’s amazing Grace, you pray like you believe in Election.  Or else you don’t pray, and thus prove to yourself that you treasure this temporary world more than God.  PAUSE………

But I know most Christians pray, so let me repeat, do you pray for people’s salvation? Do you spend time asking God to save souls?”

 

I would venture to say that you do pray for lost souls.  Do you pray for God to save a friend, your neighbor, your co-workers, your family members, like a mom or dad, your wayward son or daughter, your grandchildren?

SO, When you pray for the salvation of a loved one or friend, who are you praying to and what are you asking Him to do?

Save them, right?  Do you ever pray, “Lord, please partially save my son by your grace and by his good works too?” or “Lord, Help the spark of good in him to increase to the point where he assists you in saving Himself?”   NO, that’s absurd and unbiblical right?  If you pray to God for someone’s salvation, (and I hope you do and also put feet to your prayers and love them and serve them in Christ’s name)…..then, when you pray, you are asking the Sovereign God of the universe to break through the hardness of their sinful heart and show them that they cannot save themselves.  You are praying to the One who can break the power of sin, and free them from the bondage of their sinful rebellious nature and give them a new heart!

Yes, God can transform the hardest of hearts, but you can’t!  And that’s why you pray….. you are trusting in the Electing Sovereign God of all love and grace and mercy and wrath to awaken a dead heart…a spiritually dead heart to come to life!

I love what Dr. J.I. Packer says about this very issue in his book, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, A great book which I highly recommend to all of you, especially those who want to share their faith in Christ more….He says,  SLIDE

“Do you pray for the conversion of others…if the answer is Yes, then that proves it, whatever side you may have taken in debates on this (Election) question in the past, in your heart you believe in the Sovereignty of God no less firmly than anyone else.  On our feet we may have arguments about it, but on our knees we are all agreed.”

And my prayer, like Charles Spurgeon’s, is that right now, upon hearing the Good News of the Gospel of Christ, that God will save His Elect and even Elect some more”  :O)

He is God! Yes, I know that He has chosen his family from the before the foundation of the world…but since I don’t know who is Elect in here, I live like everyone I meet Is Elect of God and just not Born again yet. This knowledge FUELS my passion for Evangelism!  How about yours?

Do you love Jesus Christ or are you ashamed of Him?  Do you love God, or do you love the world more than Godliness?  Yes, choose you this day whom you will serve… and who you will Love and Treasure in this brief lifetime

I will plead with you until my last breath to turn from your sinful rejection of Christ and surrender your life to Him…don’t waste your short life on earth pursuing things which will never satisfy your deepest longings…Only Christ can…Repent and believe this glorious Gospel to the praise of His glorious Grace today! 

May we pray?

Lord’s Supper! And Church Covenant renewal

1 Corinthians 1:18–31

 

Christ the Wisdom and Power of God

 

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

 

            “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

                        and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

 

            Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (ESV)

 

NOTES…needs editing

Professor Tom Nettles of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary…and I can vouch for this man’s biblical scholarship, he wrote this about Election and our evangelical belief in this biblical doctrine, to which our ancestors in the faith readily believed until the early to mid-20th century…DR. Nettles said:


Sinners, justly condemned and God's enemies, when left to themselves persevere in their hostile ways all the way to hell. In pursuance of his gracious purpose, however, God's particular love rests on certain ones to bring them to salvation (Ephesians 1:452:45). "Whom he foreknew (that is 'loved beforehand'), he also predestined" (Romans 8:29).

The confession rightly calls God's saving choice "gracious," for it operates for the good of sinners in spite of their infinite demerit. God's election cannot fail. He administers his decree all the way to the glorification of sinners and to the glory of his beloved Son.

"Just as He chose us in Him (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him." What more glorious end can be imagined than a predestination "to be conformed to the image of his Son?" (He is going to make that happen…our sanctification which is His will according to 1 Thess 4:3)

Election does not contradict the "free agency of man." When a person acts, he acts freely -- or exactly as he is disposed to act. While dead in trespasses and sins, he is a slave to sin. Sin reigns in his mortal body, and he has no desire for righteousness. (God’s righteousness. Christ’s righteousness…not our own)

Regeneration by the Spirit of God shatters the shackles of sin and its tyrannical power by creating such distaste for sin that the sinner repents. The Spirit implants such a desire for righteousness that the sinner turns to Christ, by whose blood and righteousness sinners may justly be accepted.

Thus, the elect person acts freely and in accord with a spiritual sight sovereignly induced by God's Spirit in accordance with God's electing purpose, when God's choice is manifest in the coming of the gospel with power. In this way, election "comprehends all means in connection with the end." (Eph 2:1-8Rom 6:1218201 Thessalonians 1:45).

 

Posted on August 31, 2018 .

Brothers: A joyfully-serious challenge for 2018

Good morning Brothers,

 

I hope you had a good Christmas day with family.  I'm sure many did and some, perhaps, did not.  Yep.  Reality.  This is what my calling is.  To tell the truth.  To bring up tough subjects.  And by His Spirit, I am called to bear witness to tough truths that we Christian men need to hear or be reminded of.

 

So, for those who had a joyful day with family, I say "awesome", and have you thanked God yet? Really stopped and knelt down and humbly thanked God for His grace? The reality is that some of our Brothers likely experienced a tough day.  Perhaps not even on the outside, they spoke with family, they carried on conversations with relatives, they even helped clean up perhaps, but inside....INSIDE, there was turmoil.  Old wounds surfaced.  New wounds were inflicted.  And a day of hopeful joy turned into a nagging sense that something is very wrong here.  

 

On this day after Christmas, God had me up early and thinking about many spiritual realities...mine and others.  No less than 5 men or families contacted me yesterday one way or the other....some with good news, some with questions, important questions, some with pain.  So I spent time last night and early this morning in prayer...asking God to give me His wisdom to share with others, because my wisdom is so inadequate compared to His.  This is my calling.  To stop and listen to God. to get up early to open His Word because I am a treasure hunter.  I treasure God's wisdom and find that I need more and more..."God, lead me to truth.  Give me your grace and wisdom so I might share it with others."  And as I read Acts 25 and 26, I heard from God.. I will share some of these nuggets of gold this coming Sunday, but for now, let me just say this...Paul told men "in power" that repentance is needed and then deeds in according with repentance were necessary.  True.   

 

Brothers, this is an excellent time to repent of what we haven't done in 2017 and to ask God to lead us into 2018 as godly prayer warriors, faithful husbands, engaged fathers, servant sons, leading our families spiritually.  We must not abdicate our leadership role to the culture.  God has called us to lead.  and this begins at home.  I sat all three of my sons down last night and had "the talk" with them...it was Spirit-led....because it was hard to launch the discussion really. The talk focused on what being a godly man is all about.  Not the first time I have done this, but I needed to speak into their lives again. I had their attention, which doesn't happen every day.  The talk was about a lot of things, being a godly man...dad's successes and failures in 2017...ya know, real life...real Christian life. Told them the most important thing they could do is to Follow Christ.  All else pales in importance.  Yes, life involves success and failure, and I prayed that God would give me wisdom...words to impart not just to their minds but to their hearts....how obeying God is the key to success in this life...and that rebelling against Him will destroy...many things - including their relationships.  I asked them to pray for me that I might lead well.  I shared some fatherly wisdom, and I hope that I stop and share more in 2018...time is short...and there are a few key moments when we can speak and know they are paying close attention to what we're saying.  Life is too busy.  We have to lead and intentionally STOP the "busy-ness" sometimes. 

 

So, I rambled some there but back to the point...Brothers we cannot be reactive to our present reality.  Can we be pro-active, godly men - godly thinkers and doers in 2018?  Not only in our homes but in our church family? God doesn't want our excuses, He wants our obedience.

 

Would you join me in repenting from being too passive in our daily spiritual leadership?  The stakes are too high to just coast into the deadly, worldly atmosphere we breathe and then react to what hits us...and them....our precious families.  God-given families.  God-given roles and responsibilities.  Well, what are we to do?  I say we FIGHT!  Put on the Armour of God.  And Lead...spiritually lead our homes and our church.

 

Ephesians 6:10–20...10 and 11 here

 

[10] Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. [11] Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

 

Let's be Doers of the Word. Pray. Read a Fighter verse or three. And then fight for joy in God, not sin. Call a Brother and ask him to stand with you. Join a Men's Bible Study. Read this (99 cents on Kindle and 3.99 paperback....our current Tuesday morning study...EXCELLENT!)

 

https://www.amazon.com/Absolute-Surrender-Andrew-Murray/dp/1546876154/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1514299548&sr=8-1&keywords=absolute+surrender

 

 

Absolute Surrender.  I just ordered 6 copies with a gift card I received, so it is Free to the first 6 men who email me that you want a copy. Powerful book. Or  Read the Bible Through in 2018....with someone else for accountability.  Humble yourself and ask your wife to forgive you for not spiritually leading the way God intended. Let's be men and lead with God's wisdom and power with us...filled with His Spirit...ask Him to fill you daily.  Trust and obey.   

 

Check this out: https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/what-does-it-mean-for-a-man-to-lead-his-family-spiritually

 

and I will be praying for you and me today....the battle is on.  Many are counting on us to engage...not disengage from this spiritual fight....this present reality!  Also, Look for an invitation soon to attend a special men's breakfast in January. We need you.  it is time to engage in the fight together!

 

God, help us to lead well, by Your grace. Your power. For Your glory.  And for our ultimate joy in following Christ....together!  

 

Thank you for reading all this....gotta run...time to engage.

Pastor Tom

Psalm 59:9–10

 

[9] O my Strength, I will watch for you,

for you, O God, are my fortress.

[10] My God in his steadfast love will meet me;

God will let me look in triumph on my enemies. (ESV)

Posted on January 1, 2018 .

Voting this Election? Yes, of course.

OK, I know there is much to debate about this election.  And I know that many Christians are bewildered.  Well, let me just say that while we still have the right to vote, we Christians should Vote!  If not, then whose worldview will be heard the most?  

There are many candidates in this election, and many state and local issues are at stake. We who have worldviews formed by the Word of God and His Spirit within us, ought to educate ourselves and vote in a way that glorifies God and loves our neighbor.  I wrote an email to our church family today, and I will copy it here.  Thanks for reading...and praying.  Remember, Christ will still be King on November 8th and 9th (and next January too)!  Come, Lord Jesus.

Good morning church family and friends,

On Sunday, October 2nd, we heard about the CarePortal Ministry during our Missionary Moment.  The Elders agree that this could be a valuable community ministry which will potentially reach many with the love of Christ.  Diane Bachman is our Point Person for this ministry and she wanted you to read this email before this Sunday:

Hi everyone,

Our church has chosen to support CarePortal's ministry. We will be joining a nationwide ministry helping those in need in our community, and El Paso County is the first in Colorado. You are welcome to check it out further at careportal.org

So if you'd like to join in this ministry, please turn in your name and email address this Sunday on the Note Card that will be provided in Sunday's Bulletin. You will not begin to be notified until November 14th. We will get a request from DHS and will forward it out through the email list. DHS will let us know if our church will deliver whatever is requested, directly to the family or to DHS.

If you have any other questions, please let me know. I look forward to seeing how God will use us to bless those in need in our community. All He asks is if we're willing to step out in faith. You can also email Diane at:  bachs4.db@gmail.com

Praying with you,

Diane

Also, this past Sunday I referred to the Colorado Voter Guide (Blue Book) which details all the state Amendments and Propositions which will appear on our 2016 Ballots.  It is important that we as Christians voice our godly worldview by voting.  There are many issues that will affect Christians in terms of religious liberty, the value of human life, etc... and our voices matter.  I have copied and posted a few links below to help us educate ourselves on these key issues and party platforms for the 2016 election.  I also included a link to a good article from Desiring God about voting as well.

While we know that Christ is our King, and we await the full experience of His Kingdom when He returns, we must live and bear witness to the world today. We are called by God to be His living and breathing witnesses to people everywhere who walk in spiritual darkness, blind to His glorious truth.  Let us not be ashamed of our Biblical convictions as we humbly share His love and truth with them.  One way to do this is to vote our convictions which are formed through our understanding of God's Word.  May His righteousness be treasured in our hearts and on our ballots. Please visit these links prior to voting.

https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cga-legislativecouncil/ballotblue-book

National Issues:   http://downloads.frcaction.org/EF/EF16I163.pdf

EXCELLENT READ:   http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/you-cannot-vote-your-conscience

Here's an excerpt... 

For Love of God and Neighbor

A proper, biblical understanding of the conscience should lead Christians in the opposite direction. Instead of washing our hands of the hard work of making difficult decisions, we should be eager to give voting its due diligence and offer up our leanings against the law of God for evaluation. The Christian’s conscience is tethered to God’s law. That means that the conscience always speaks to the summary of God’s law: love God and love your neighbor (Matthew 22:37–40), which is a helpful grid to consciously consider for any election: Which vote (or no vote) will be the truest expression of my love for God and desire for my neighbor’s good?

For His glory and our witness to the world,

Pastor Tom

  For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, (Acts 17:23-27 ESV)

THIS is also a good read for Colorado voters:  http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/29964

Posted on October 12, 2016 .

March Madness?

WOW...are you caught up in all the March Madness?  And I'm not referring to NCAA basketball.

 

I'm referring to all the political madness we have witnessed in March...and February...and....you get the picture.  While I have no desire to inflame you one way or the other about politics, as your pastor I feel obligated from time to time to present a theological perspective on our duty as citizens of America...and citizens, more importantly, of Heaven.  

 

If our little embassy of God's Kingdom at MHC is like many others across our land, people shows signs of being infected with March Madness.  While basketball upsets are common these days, we in Christ's church are not called to be upset with our neighbors or fellow believers.  So, in the Spirit of peace and thoughtful reflection, may I urge us to be charitable with those who may view the upcoming election a bit differently than we do? May we remember that while we have a duty to vote as citizens, our true citizenship is not of this world, and we are to lay down our lives (which includes our mouths and keyboards) for our friends and "Love our enemies" with Gospel truth and grace?

 

In that Spirit, I offer a thoughtful article from Christianity Today...I will reference it briefly, Lord willing, in tomorrow's sermon.  Please do not take it as a personal rejection or endorsement of any candidate.  I have chosen in my role as a pastor NOT to publicly endorse any candidate or party.  Yes, I used to teach American Government and majored in it in college with the youthful aspiration to complete my military service and run for Congress back in North Carolina...but then God.  God changed my heart, my "wants", and called me to lay down my life for the God-centered Gospel...to spread a passion for Him, not man-centered politics.  So while I will vote and cast my ballot as I always do for the person I believe will best lead our country with moral clarity and personal integrity (as well as Constitutional integrity), as your pastor, I say vote your Spirit-led personal convictions.  (You may want to come back and re-read that sentence AFTER you read this article below!)

 

As our church covenant declares, "May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all.  Amen."

 

Enjoy this thoughtful article and reflect on what being an "Evangelical" Christian means today:

 

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/march-web-only/theology-of-donald-trump.html

 

Grace and Peace in Christ together!

 

Looking forward to worshipping the Lord Jesus tomorrow with you on Palm Sunday,

Pastor Tom

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:3-8 ESV)

Posted on March 20, 2016 .

Are You Saved?

I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. (Psalm 101:3a ESV)

I debated writing a 101:3 fighter email to just the men of the church or whether I should just send it out to the entire church...so I did both through this Blog. ;o)

Good morning all...are you fighting the good fight of faith....or are you experiencing a rough week, month, life?  And your faith feels forced, hypocritical, or downright gone?  Are you saved? 

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13 ESV)

 

You don't hear that said much anymore.  "Are you saved?"  "Have you been born again?" At least that directly.  Our salvation is not based on a prayer we said a decade or three ago and it's surely not based on my spouse's faith or my parent's faith.  I guess sooner or later we all have to inspect the fruit in our lives...you know what I mean...the spiritual fruit.  

 

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. (John 15:8 ESV)

 

So, I guess we are are fruit-inspectors...of our own lives most importantly. We need to stop comparing our walk with another's walk. Look at the log in our own eye, right? So, what do you see...when you look at the fruit trail in the path behind you? Last month? Last year? Last 30 years?

 

Has there been a growing humility?  A growing sacrificial life?Laying down your life for your wife?  your family?

 

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. (John 15:13-14 ESV)

 

You are not a friend of Jesus if you don't obey Him...and long to trust Him, and prove to be His disciple...bearing much fruit (of the Spirit living in you)....so if you're not a friend of the Lord Jesus, do you know Him? Does He really know you?

 

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another. (John 15:16-17 ESV)

 

Do you love Him? Do you love your spouse? You will love (read sacrifice your life for) your bride if you know love Jesus. You can't "do your own thing" and claim to be a Christ-follower...if you insist in this brief life to follow yourself, I guess you're be a "self-follower" then? Deadly.

 

Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. (John 15:2 ESV)

 

So, you have a choice. If you know God, you follow Him. If you don't know God, you follow self. And you may be cut off...for eternity. Do our decisions reflect the fruit of the Spirit or the fruit of the world in our lives? Today.

 

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:19 ESV)

 

Or does it? How are we being salt and light TO the world? TO our families. If we aren't, maybe we aren't that salty because we care so little about knowing and pleasing God. Oh, I know we all have a lot of head knowledge...but that can just PUFF UP the pride that lurks in our hearts and will indeed destroy us. Does your knowledge of God produce a hatred for indwelling sin? ...if not, well, your knowledge is deficient and your heart may be very far from the God you think you know? A heart that has been transformed by the living God makes decisions on a regular basis that prove to others a real change has happened...by God's grace through a living faith in Christ. Fruit.

 

Love. Joy. Peace. You know the rest...oh, that list ends with self-control. Let's not forget that one. If you feel out-of-control, get help. Quickly. Call me. Call an Elder. Call a brother in Christ who loves you enough to tell you the truth and pray with you and hold you accountable.

 

Hear Christ...obey Him...and JOY...His Joy...will return to your life and you will bear good fruit...to eternal life:

So Jesus said to the Jews (and to us) who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:31-32)

 

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:20-23 ESV)

 

The question remains....are you saved? Your fruit is a good sign, one way or the other. It's really a life or death question. Pray. Seek God. Repent. and Believe the Gospel...follow Christ...this day.

 

Joy in Christ...freedom in Christ...misery in human pride,

Pastor Tom

He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30 ESV)

Posted on October 23, 2015 .

Eating for Joy!

May 5, 2015

Eating produces joy?  I suppose it depends on What you eat!

Has the Lord seemed near or far to you this past week?  Have we become bogged down in the muddy waters of earthly sin and indifference to One who can clear the fog of "busyness" and brightly burn off despair with joy and faith?  Yesterday, I read Jeremiah 15:16...check this out:

Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16 ESV)

Need to know the power of God in your life today? Eat the Word. Devour His truth. Relish His grace. Digest His ways. Walk in them.

Jeremiah 15 concludes:

Therefore thus says the LORD: “If you return, I will restore you, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth. They shall turn to you, but you shall not turn to them. And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you, declares the LORD. I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.” (Jeremiah 15:19-21 ESV)

Fellow Christ-followers, let us battle indifference and anxiety by wielding the Sword of the Spirit this day. The Word of God pierces us, cleanses us, and propels us to engage the world (and our families) with the love and grace of God.

Onward Christian soldiers...for I am with you to save you and deliver you, declares the LORD!

For His glory and our joy in Christ,

Pastor Tom

 

Posted on May 5, 2015 .

Fighting Cultural Decay with you!

Church family,

I wrote an email earlier to the men of our church....many thoughts were swirling around.  The LOSTNESS of the world is overwhelming at times, isn't it?  Evil exists.  But it will not win.  In two weeks, Lord willing, I will preach on Living by Faith, not Despair.  We are not called to anxiety or despair....we are called to fight the good fight of FAITH...and I believe FAITH in God's Future Grace! (2 Cor 9:8) Let's wield the sword of the Spirit and cast our anxieties on Christ.  Let us press on toward the goal for the prize....because there is still work to do here. 

I am concerned about what we watch...the heart of my 101:3 email to the men is about not putting anything worthless before our eyes.  That includes books and movies which pull men and women (and boys and girls) away from following Christ well.  Let us guard our hearts and minds and eyes and ears in Christ Jesus.  The pure in heart will see God (Matthew 5:8).  Let's agree with Jesus.  Let's make purity our passion.

This is what I wrote earlier today...a bit rambling, but the point will be clear at the end.

 

My pastoral heart is heavy this morning with the weight of man's depravity. This is not a time for the faint-of-heart or the casual Christian. ISIS atrocities. Lack of leadership.  Cultural rot and spiritual complacency.  

 

Where are the men who lay down their lives for their wives...and for truth...Biblical truth?  Well, I believe we have many in our church!  Praise God. We must fight the unbelief of covetousness and greed and despair daily.  The Lord is all over my heart and mind.  Pray for me that as I prepare and as I herald His truth that the Spirit of God would lead our church family to be bold witnesses to the grace and truth of God.  

 

I saw an Ad recently about a new movie based on a book entitled "50 Shades of Grey."  I had heard that the book was horrible, yet very popular, especially among women in our country.  This week I read an article about the upcoming movie, and felt that I should pass it along to you...and as spiritual leaders, perhaps God will use this article to help someone in your family (wife, daughter or other relative) or perhaps your circle of co-workers or friends.  The cultural decay is fostered along by ungodly books and movies like this one.  How can we fight the good fight of faith?  On our knees, praying for God to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness,  And by informing ourselves what filth is out there and combating it with Biblical truth...a Biblical worldview.  

 

Here's the article...read it and weep...and then pray to be filled with God's Spirit as we lovingly and boldly and humbly and spiritually lead our families and church in following Christ.

 

We Christian men are called to protect women, not abuse them.  Christ died for His Bride.  So ought we.

 

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thoughtlife/2015/02/how-50-shades-of-grey-harms-women-jesus-saves-them/

 

Come Lord Jesus,

Pastor Tom

I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil. (Psalm 101:3-4 ESV)

 

Posted on February 4, 2015 .

Veterans Day 2014

Veterans Day is a special day.  I was born one week before Veterans Day into the Air Force on a military base in Japan.  I have always liked Air Force blue.  My dad was an enlisted man who worked hard through the Air Force ROTC program at USC (that's South Carolina..the first USC) and became an officer in the mid-fifties.  He served in many different roles in and out of the military, but I knew him best as "Dad."  A humble man who loved our country and loved serving in the military...most days.  None of us liked it when he flew off to Vietnam, but we prayed more and longed for his return. By God's grace, a rocket missed him one morning but destroyed his hut.  We missed him at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but we trusted that he would return to us, and he did.  I respected him and wanted to please him.  He was my father - a role which defined him as a role-model for his three sons. He loved the freedom we have in America, and I dutifully watched the news with him many nights.  He told me one day that he thought it would be a good thing for me to apply to the Air Force Academy.  "Yes Tom, you want to go to college, Well, they will pay you to go to college there. And you can serve your country."  Or something like that.  I admired him and took his advice.  And God had a plan for me.  I used to dream about going all over the world, as I sat in my room wondering what to do with my life. 

The Air Force was certainly a ticket to get out of my little country town with three stop signs and two gas stations. One was run by a buddy's family from church, and it had a huge ditch beside it that I tried to jump on a mini-bike one Sunday afternoon.  That same Sunday afternoon I was supposed to be baptized at another Baptist church that evening. Ours didn't have a baptistry...what kind of Baptist church doesn't have a baptistry? The church WITH the baptistry was off Half-Hell road. I'm not kidding. As a prideful, sinful kid I was more than halfway there until God got my attention!  (I am thankful for the World War II veteran preacher...Pastor Greear from Philadelphia who came to our tiny church and preached the Gospel faithfully when I was 11.)  Well, back to the ditch.  I tried to jump the ditch with the small mini-bike and well, landed a bit short and flipped over the handlebars.  I was baptized that night...as I hobbled down into the baptistry with a badly bruised knee. At least my soul was healed a few weeks earlier, but it would take a bit longer for my knee to be healed. I didn't learn my lesson about dirt bikes, though...and later my collar bone would suffer a worse fate than my knee. God allowed me to to feel both the pain of my bad decisions and the horror of my sin early in life. Too many to list here. Praise God for his saving grace!

So, I left my idyllic rural upbringing and headed to Colorado in 1982.  I was nervous, but I knew my mom and dad were praying for me daily, and I actually felt God answer their prayers often.  Mom said that “I could do all things THROUGH CHRIST who strengthens me.”  I believed mom, dad, and God.  My hair almost disappeared, my jeans became a uniform, and I soon became a man. I actually liked the discipline.  I loved saluting the flag. Marching was cool, most days.  I didn’t like the yelling, but I prayed more.  Now MY uniform, not just my dad’s, had “U.S. Air Force” stitched on it.  I was where I was meant to be.

And I took an oath that was stitched in my heart.  It went like this, “I am an American fighting man. I serve in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.”  At 18 years old, I realized that my initial joy of being a cadet was a serious joy.  A Commitment.  I had joined a new team.  Was I ready to give my life for my country?  I took the oath, but I never dreamed that I may really have to give my life.  This was the 80s.  Ronald Reagan was President.  No one would mess with America! 

Well, the last stanza of the Fighting Man’s Code of Conduct goes like this, “I will never forget that I am an American fighting man, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.”  When I first spoke those words, I never dreamed that the Code would never leave my heart.  

I did see the world.  I did see the horror of war. And through it all, I trusted God.  I knew that He was in control of my days and my future.  I also discovered that a lot of people who curse God when all is well, seek Him when the bombs are falling and shots are flying by their heads.  I knew that life was short for some, and I wondered how many really trusted God. Seemed to me that it was a vital question to get right, if indeed life was short and eternity was long.

My obsession with eternity (and God) led me to honorably resign from the Air Force in 1991.  I still loved the Air Force, but God had called me on another mission, and I had to trust Him….again. And again.  My father, whom I loved, was not happy with me for resigning my commission to go to seminary.  I respected my father, but I had to joyfully obey my Father in heaven.  For three years I had prayed and sought counsel and fought many battles trying to know God’s will.  Pastor Dale had told me “Tom, if you can be satisfied doing anything other than being a pastor, you should do it.”  I love Dale to this day.  He was right.  Pastor John later confirmed this truth by saying to me "God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in Him."  Nothing and No one satisfied me more than God and His promises.  I knew my calling.  Life.  And eternal life.  With Him.  Wow!

I have many passions in life…but none compare to the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus and His will for my life.  Being a shepherd has been the most trying “vocation” I have ever had, and most satisfying.  Going and making disciples as a soldier in Christ’s kingdom demands one to embrace suffering souls, yet always rejoicing in the midst of the trials. That’s not just my calling, however.  It is yours.  Every Christ-follower is called to “Go and make disciples”…here, there, and everywhere.  

Yes, I believe that life is war.  Disciple-making requires a wartime mentality…spiritual battles are raging every day, people are wounded, faith wanes, and yet, God calls us to faithfulness.  “Fight the good fight of faith.” “Do not be anxious about life”  “Do not fear.” “Blessed are you who are persecuted for my Name’s sake.”  “The Lord is our Helper.” “Walk by faith.”  “I am the Resurrection and the Life.”  “Come Lord Jesus.”  And we press on in the trenches.  Onward Christian soldiers! 

Do you know a Veteran?  Thank him or her.  I thank my father, my father-in-law, as well as my grandfather and my great-grandfather for their service to our country. Thank God for all those who are willing to lay down their lives that others may live!  Sounds like a Christian to me.

For His Glory and OUR JOY in Christ our Lord...forever,

Pastor Tom

Acts 20:24

PS   I did not want this "Veterans Day Letter" to be all about me, but I know I shared some of my story with you.  Please forgive me if this appears to be too much about me.  As a laymen, I always wanted to know more about my pastors…but they usually talked and preached about God more than themselves – PRAISE GOD!  So, I write a few tidbits from time to time to help you know your shepherd a bit better.  We pastors are people too – with a real history.  And my history is a huge testimony to the grace of God. And by the way, my dad is now very glad that I am a pastor!  He is my dad...and also a brother in Christ.

I am grateful for all who have served our country and our Lord.  Please remember, we church members wear the “uniform” every day…we are identified as being on His team…we are His church.  We all have a story, some scars, and have experienced oceans of His grace. Thanks for reading this short story today, and remember…God shed His grace on thee!  Trust in Him.

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Posted on November 11, 2014 .

Growing for God's Glory!

203.  That's how many souls came to MHC this past Sunday.  A record for the new MHC which was launched in Sept of 2011.  We have over 100 active members now.  Lots of guests lately and many people are in the membership process! We do not have nor desire "inactive" members, which is an oxymoron anyway.  

We are Actively seeking to glorify God BY enjoying Him forever!  Where did I get this vision for life, for His Church, for every day?  The Bible.  (and also a pastor friend who showed this to me from the Bible...more from him later.)  God created us for His glory (Isaiah 43:7).  We are commanded to Delight in God (Psalm 37:4).  Yes, at His right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).  So in ALL we do church, we are to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31).  As He increases, we decrease. (John 3:30).  As He increases in our affections, sin decreases...the desire to sin is killed.  And Hebrews 12:14 makes our striving against sin most critical...as God threatens Hell to those who pursue sin regularly. We walk by faith in the promises of God as we daily step heavenward..  The reward awaits.  Hebrews 10 and 11. And then there is Romans 8 - perhaps the greatest chapter in the Bible. Why?  By the truth it contains, and it is God-breathed.  You can hear a summary below.

This Sunday you will hear how I arrived at this passion to glorify God in all of life.  This view of reality wonderfully stunned me in 1997, and I have never recovered. It's how God led me to pastor MHC.  It's why I remain here. I was introduced to some godly men who would later emerge as my heroes in the Christian faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3).  Here is a clip from one of them.  I pray that I will be as lovingly true and faithful when I am 68 years old.  I met him when he was 51.  I will be 51 in a month.  Oh, to so desire God and hunger for His truth, His Word.  

We are growing for God's glory AND our joy in Jesus Christ.  We want to be a mile deep, not a mile wide and an inch deep. We want to disciple all the Lord brings our way.  We are disciples and disciple-makers.  This is our calling. This is our joy.  So, come join us in our joyful pursuit of finding satisfaction in the promises of God, not the world around us. We are disciples.  We are Christ-followers. Oh, and here's Pastor John, my "pastor", if you will.   

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/when-god-himself-speaks-to-you

Click on this link above.  Read.  Listen.  Feast.  Meditate.  Pray.  And then Live.  For God's glory.  And your joy in Christ.  Today.  And forever.

Amen.

See you Sunday, Lord willing!  

Pastor Tom

Acts 20:24

 

 

 

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Posted on October 3, 2014 and filed under church.

Heaven is Real...for the Bible tells me so!

Heaven is for real.  So is Jesus.  Every word He ever spoke is real (true).  The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord!  

The Bible tells us God's truth (John 17:17, 2 Timothy 3:16-17). As we head into this Passion week, let's remember that life is all about knowing God and treasuring Christ, now and forever.  Resurrection Sunday is almost here.  Christ is Risen!  He has prepared a place for us Christians...where we WILL see the beauty of the Lord (Psalm 27:4)...that's HEAVEN!  And we do not need a 4 year-old to tell us that heaven is "for real".  Jesus told us that in the Bible.  He told the great doubter, Thomas, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed." (John 20:29)  Heaven will be all about the glory of God.  The Bible declares that in many places.  So, while good, wholesome movies can be "good" they also can be quite misleading about Biblical truth.  I listened to this brief message (under 5 minutes) from Pastor David Platt this morning, please check it out.  I agree with him on this wholeheartedly.  Heaven is for REAL, because the Bible tells me so.

http://mattcapps.wordpress.com/2014/04/11/david-platt-on-heaven-is-for-real/


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Posted on April 14, 2014 .

Praying for God's Power

Dr. John Piper is a hero of mine.  His writings and his life have inspired me often.  This morning I read another article that helped me tremendously.  Why?  Because he is always God-centered, Bible-saturated, and Christ-exalting!  He points me/us to God.  He exudes faith in the power of God and His word.  I needed this.  Do you?  Here is what I read:

I love strength. I love the word “mighty,” as in “Mighty Woman of God,” and “Mighty Man of God.” I love to hear that “Moses was mighty in his words and deeds” (Acts 7:22), and that Apollos was “mighty in the scriptures” (Acts 18:24).

I love it when Paul says, “Act like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13), or, “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6:10), or, “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1).

But make no mistake, the pursuit of this might is not the path to human power and pride. It is the path of ceaseless warfare with your own self. The greatest power in the world among human beings is the power not to sin. The power of holiness and love.

So if you are up for it, would you join me in these 15 prayers that you would be a mighty man of God or a mighty woman of God?

  1. Lord, make me so mighty in wisdom that I know and taste that the height of might is childlikeness (Matthew 18:4).

  2. Lord, make me so mighty in war that I defeat every impulse in my soul that destroys peace (Hebrews 12:14; Romans 14:19; Matthew 5:9).

  3. Lord, make me so mighty in my hardness against bitterness that tenderness of heart is not destroyed by wounds (Hosea 11:8; Ephesians 4:32; 1 Peter 3:8).

  4. Lord, make me mightily unbending and inflexible in my Christ-exalting resolve to bend and become all things to all people that I might save some (1 Corinthians 9:22).

  5. Lord, make my trunk and branches so mightily tough and impervious to wind and drought that I never cease to bear the fruit of gentleness (Galatians 5:23; James 3:17; 1 Peter 3:4).

  6. Lord, make me so mighty in serpentine discernment that I see every opening for dove-like love (Matthew 10:16).

  7. Lord, make me so mightily unmoved by the sting and deceits of injustice against me that I may feel and show the miracle of undeserved compassion (Luke 10:23; 15:20; Hebrews 10:34; 1 Peter 3:8).

  8. Lord, make me so mightily unyielding to the enticements of selfishness that from my heart kindness forever flows (2 Corinthians 6:6; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:12).

  9. Lord, make me so mightily unresponsive to the honeyed lure of self-pity that I may have ever-replenished resources to return good for evil (Romans 12:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; 1 Peter 3:9).

  10. Lord, make me mighty with ruthless courage to cut off my hand at every trace of greed that I may be content with what I have (Philippians 4:11; 1 Timothy 6:8; Hebrews 13:5).

  11. Lord, make me mighty with happy thoughts of child and wife and King to tear out my eye lest I betray their trust and lose the purity that sees my God (Matthew 5:8).

  12. Lord, make me so mighty against the powers of self-justification that I never lose the humility to repent and weep for my sin (James 4:9; 5:16).

  13. Lord, make me so mighty in resisting the bait of frenzied productivity that I never cease to enjoy the still waters of prayer and your sweet presence (Psalm 23:2; Isaiah 46:10; Luke 10:42).

  14. Lord, make me so mighty against the deadly undertow of self-reliance that I am never ashamed to trust your arm, like a child with his father, in every breaking wave (Psalm 37:3, 5; Proverbs 3:5; Galatians 2:20).

  15. Lord, make me so mighty in seeing and mighty in savoring the promises of your sovereign grace that in all my sorrows I might never cease to sing your praise (Matthew 5:11-12; Acts 16:25; 2 Corinthians 6:10; 1 Peter 4:13).

Thank you Pastor John.  To God be all the glory!

Posted on March 11, 2014 .

2014 - Really?

OK, it has been way too long since my last post.  Can you say busy pastor, the flu, and busy, busy again?  Pastors who care love their flock and love to feed their flock a consistent diet of the Word. I am preparing for Sunday at the moment. I read a good blog from Al Mohler, Prez of our Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and thought we all would profit by reading it.  So, my blog post is Southern's blog.  I hope you enjoy it.  Theology is good, especially good theology!  Pastor Tom  Driven by Acts 20:24.

 

http://www.sbts.edu/blogs/2014/01/15/part-2-the-pastors-calling/

Posted on January 17, 2014 .

Clearing the Fog

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The fog this morning reminded me that some men walk around in a fog of what to do help their relationship with their wives.  We courted them years ago.  We pursued them. And one day she said "Yes!".  The wedding was awesome, and 10, 20, 30 years later, we are sometimes not sure how to keep loving our wives daily....the fog of jobs, kids, responsibilities and stuff, etc...blind us to the beauty right in front of us...this morning.  Waking up beside the woman God graciously provided is a covenant joy!

I read this article early today...made me see more clearly how thankful we should be for our wives...and mostly for God.  He opened our eyes to lasting love.  Perhaps some of these things will help you walk in the light of His love...and delight in the wife of your youth.  Enjoy....

http://www.challies.com/articles/18-things-i-will-not-regret-doing-with-my-wife

Maybe you do all of these or only some.  But we all can do better.  Let us love well.  Like Christ.  And give up our lives for our wives.  That is a clear mission for today. 

Because we love our bride as Christ loves His,

Pastor Tom

 

Posted on October 29, 2013 .

The Winds of Change

The Holy Spirit.  I was reminded this morning that God is God, and we are not.  Oh, I know, you would never think of yourself as God, but unfortunately, many people live as if he or she is the center of the universe.  Ever wonder how someone can be so self-centered one day, and then, something happens in life, and BAM! he is others-centered, perhaps even God-centered. This change is not natural.  It is supernatural. 

You can't think or plead or cry your way into this change...this life of faith.  The Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, draws self-centered people out of the darkness of their mirrors and into the light of the Son.  Oh, I know that thinking and praying and pleading and crying may accompany the weight of sin's recognition, but the change happens miraculously.  The Spirit draws one into the light of Gospel Truth...Jesus Christ. The Wind blows where He wills...and redeeming light dawns.  Remember the words of the old hymn... 

 

         I know not how the Spirit moves,

         convincing men of sin,

         revealing Jesus through the word,

         creating faith in him.

 

I love that truth...that Spirit. He points us to life.  To Christ.  Today when I am out in the wind, I am going to remember the breath of God.  God, who is my life, my breath, and thank Him for the Wind that pushed me into His forgiving and gracious arms.  Oh, to repent and believe the Gospel.  Thank you Holy Spirit for revealing Jesus through the Word, and creating faith in me.  

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Posted on October 15, 2013 .

October already...Leaves and Lives

October 2, 2013.  Already?  It is going to snow in Colorado this Friday...at least that's what "they" say.  The trees are beautiful.  The leaves are stunning.  Seasons are changing. The clock is ticking.  Life is short. Eternity is long.  My thought life leads here so often, and I wonder why.  Perhaps it's because God has called me to pastor one of His churches.  True.  But I thought like this before I was a pastor.  Every one of us has 24 hours, but some days I think I only have 22.  You?  So, if we all have the same amount of time, we need to make the most of that God-given time.  "Time gets away from us" too often.  Let's spend time each day with God.  And with our families.  And with God's people. And with people who need the Lord. 

I was going to read and study this morning while I had my old van worked on.  Four people sat near me in the waiting room during the few hours...and God allowed me to spend time with them. The Spirit led me to casually share my life, my faith, and my church with them.  None of them were rude to me, and all four seemed pleased to have the chat...just passing the time, ya know.

I thank God for time.  And seasons.  And life.  And leaves.  And lives.  Let's spend time loving God and loving others by spending time with them. Especially those within the church.  You encourage others in the church with your presence and with your godly living.  Let's spend some time together this Sunday.  Looking forward to seeing you church!  Time to go for now.  Bye. 

 

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Posted on October 2, 2013 .

September Floods and the Mercy of God

It is Monday, September 16th.  I woke up today in a state of cold, misty rain after several days of flooding rains here in Colorado.  While the area around our home and church is relatively safe compared with those in Northern Colorado and in some mountain communities, I am reminded that life is short and hard and many are suffering.  I am also reminded that eternity is long. Eternity, like the present, can be intensely joyful or devastatingly horrible. It matters whether you know God or not. 

So, widespread flooding can cause folks to curse, or to worship, God. He is Sovereign and good, even, no especially, when life is hard.  Many ignore Him day-to day, until tragedy strikes...and then some want to blame him. They have no clue Who He is. We pray and weep and serve in the power of Christ's Name to awaken man-centered, earth-glorifying souls to rivet their attention and allegiance to their Creator...and Sustainer. 

What will cause people who love the present so much to think about the future...their eternal future?  A Flood?  An earthquake?  A Fire?  An illness?  Don't wait until a disaster strikes to know and love the grace and mercy of God.  He loves in the midst of the storms. The Bible teaches this over and over, so let us treasure God's Word together in the church...so that others may know and glorify God...in good times and in hard times.    And let us pray:

Pray (I copied and pasted  and slightly edited this last section from a Blog post by Dr. John Piper after he wrote a blog about another catastrophe in the world.)

And let us pray that in this catastrophe the Lord fulfills two purposes:

  1. That Christians repent of worldliness. “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).
  2. That Christians in Colorado and around the world would step forward with extraordinary, sacrificial love to show more clearly the mercy of Christ who laid down his life in the midst of the Father's judgment. The suffering and death of Jesus Christ for the sin of the world is the one place where empathy, aid, and answers meet. He invites everyone to come for all three.

O how fragile this life is. The world, and all its life-sustaining processes seem so sure and solid. They are not. One thing is sure and solid:

Let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe (Hebrews 12:28).

Ps  The sun is beginning to come out today in Colorado.  Let's Worship the Son of God!

 

 

Posted on September 16, 2013 .

The Spirit of September

OK...that was my attempt at a catchy title, but as we launch into September and school and fall ministries, etc... I wanted to talk with you about the leading of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit.  The third Person of the Trinity. He is often neglected by evangelicals...conservative Bible-believing Christians, and I feel this inattention must be addressed.

But Pastor, surely there are more pressing church issues to address!?  Perhaps there are, but if we do not walk by the Spirit, we will try to accomplish everything and anything in the flesh.  We are to glorify God, not man.   

2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.  1 Corinthians 2:2-5

Oh, may that be our daily bread. Lord, we need a demonstration of Your power, poured out in the lives of your people through the Spirit! Jesus said that the Spirit will glorify Him (see John 16:14).  As Christians, Christ-followers, may we glorify God as we daily are filled by His Spirit to do His will.  This will bring joy to us and glorify His Name in our church.

Breathe on us, Holy Spirit.  Looking forward to Sunday morning when we will take a Biblical look at the Spirit.  Let's prepare out hearts and minds. 

Grace and peace and power in Christ, 

Pastor Tom

 

Posted on September 3, 2013 .

Treasuring God's Word

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Last week I wrote down several verses that I should have memorized by now.  These verses are God's Word.  I remembered many of them, but a few I have memorized in KJV, some in NIV, some in NASB, and now most in ESV.  Yes, those are different English translations of the Bible.  The progression of the versions equates to my own journey with God's Word.  I now study, read, and preach from the English Standard Version (ESV).  The ESV study Bible is phenomenal, by the way! Check it out at www.esv.org 

So, I have been convicted to once again make it a daily habit to treasure God's Word.  You'd think every pastor is doing that, but the time demands can sometimes overwhelm daily schedules, so many do not.  I cannot let myself fall into the "I'm too busy to read or memorize God's Word today" syndrome. So, today, I publicly commit to treasure God's Word in my life every day.  I need His Word. Like I need water.  I desire Him and His wisdom over anything else.  I need to feed on the Word and then feed the flock.    

My verse today is Psalm 119:11.  I will also challenge my church to memorize at least one verse a week. I plan to put this verse on the screen this Sunday, where we will then say it together.  Why?  The church grows in the grace and knowledge of the Lord by knowing His Word...then we live it out as we soak in it throughout the day/week.  The Word creates and sustains the church, not vice versa. 

Lord, help us to treasure You and Your Word as if our lives depended on it.  They do.

 "I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."  Psalm 119:11

Posted on August 19, 2013 .