Wednesday, May 9, 2018

4 ways doctrine impacts every day of my life (and why the church needs it)

By Scott Slayton

Recently I was in a restaurant and a Bible study group was meeting at a nearby table. The leader had a voice that carried, so I could have heard a good portion of the study, but the first thing I heard him say so captured my attention that I missed the rest of it. He said, “I love non-denominational churches because doctrine is not life-giving.”

I will set aside the comment about non-denominational churches not having a doctrine for another day. It was the other half of the sentence that knocked me out of my chair. “Doctrine is not life-giving.” I cannot think of anything more life-giving than sound doctrine.

“Doctrine” is a biblical word and the Apostle Paul shows us that sound doctrine is a good thing we should embrace. After all, “doctrine” refers to teaching and “sound” means something is healthy. Sound doctrine is a shorthand way of saying that teaching is healthy and good for us. This means it corresponds to what is true about God, life, and the world.

Sound doctrine is good for followers of Jesus. We need to know the truth, which means we must study the truth.

Here are three reasons you should commit to understanding good theology.


Every relationship is based on knowing and understanding each other. Since God knows and understands us perfectly, it is imperative for us to continue learning about who he is. Thankfully, God revealed everything we need to know about him in the Scriptures.

When we read and study theology, we come to a better grasp of God’s personal attributes and how he interacts with the world. We see how God revealed himself in the past through encounters with men and women in Scripture. For example, when he passed by Moses in Exodus 34, he proclaimed about himself, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” You cannot learn that about God by looking at a sunset. Also, think about his interactions with Job in the closing chapters of the book that bears his name. There, we learn that God is all powerful, has no competitors, yet is gracious and restores those who have been broken.

God also reveals his character through the teaching of the apostles and prophets. When we read Jeremiah 2 or Romans 8:28-39, we hear men inspired by the Spirit testifying to the attributes of the God who revealed himself to them. We learn about the justice, mercy, love, providence, sovereignty, righteousness, and grace of God from these letters and speeches.

In addition to reading the Scriptures, studying theology means reading books by solid authors who help us to better understand the Scriptures. While some might object to this as “the teachings of men,” if they shed light on the truth about God, good books are a chance to learn about our Father from brothers or sisters who have been walking with Jesus and studying the Bible longer and in greater depth than we have been.


Too often, Christian pit theological teaching against “practical” teaching. We know the problems we face in our lives and think that theology is ivory tower thinking that has little to do with solving real problems. We imagine that we can get the help we need for our lives from the Bible while avoiding the difficult thinking that comes along with theology.

The difficulty we run into is that most of the solutions to our “practical” problems are rooted in theological truths. How do you know how to love difficult people? The Bible tells us that we learn this by walking in love “as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.”(Ephesians 5:2) Paul roots something as practical as love in something as deeply theological as Jesus’ substitutionary death for us.

Paul does this in other ways as well. When he wants to show husbands how to love their wives, he points again to the death of Jesus. “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25) To show Christians why they should put sin to death, Paul reminds Christians of their union with Christ. (Romans 6:1-14) When he encourages Christians to forgive, he announces that God forgave them. (Ephesians 4:32)Theology is crucial to practical Christian living.


We want to see the gospel go forward and for more people to hear about and believe in Jesus. This means that we need to have more conversations about the gospel with people who do not yet believe. How are we going to have these conversations if we do not know and understand theology?
There was a popular “Christian” song in the late 1990’s titled, “Jesus Saves.” The gist of the song was that we don’t need to confuse people with weighty theology. We just need to tell them that “Jesus saves.” Sounds simple enough, but what if they ask “Who is Jesus?” or “What does Jesus save me from?” Now you find yourself in a theological conversation and you need good answers to those questions.

Many conversations about the gospel with people who don’t believe will involve dealing with objections to the gospel message. You can answer these questions superficially or you can do the hard work of helping people to get to the root of their doubts. Every objection to the gospel involves some aspect of theology. If they object that hell is cruel, you’ll need to talk about the holiness and justice of God. If someone wants to know why he can’t just be a good person, you’ll have to explain the righteousness of Christ and salvation by faith alone. These are theological discussions, but they make a deep impact.


I was a youth pastor when I realized I needed to be saved. To make a long story short, I made a profession of faith at a youth camp in middle school, immediately ran back to the things of the world, and through a series of difficult events started going to church again. I fell in love with the Bible and was convinced I should be a pastor.

While I was a theology student at a Christian college and a youth pastor at a local church, I started to doubt the reality of my profession of faith. Through this, I started reading about sin, salvation by faith alone, election, and the new birth. I came under intense conviction and slowly realized that I had never been saved.

The night it all came to a head, I asked myself what I would say to God if I stood before him on the last day. My answer started with everything I had tried to do in his name. In my heart, I realized my answer was rooted in a trust in my own righteousness and called upon Christ alone to save me.
Memorizing 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Ephesians 2:8-10 and thinking about important theological issues through the lens of my own crisis of faith led to my conversion. No one will ever convince me that theology is not important, soul-saving, or life-giving.

Theology is simply the way that we explain who God is, who we are, what is wrong with the world, what God has done to redeem us, and the future hope we look forward to. Studying and understanding theology will give every Christian a deeper love for God, a stronger walk with him, a greater love for the people around us, a stronger commitment to our local church, and an increased confidence in the message of the gospel as we talk to people who need to hear it.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

DTS Alcohol Policy - Cannot Disagree

Dallas Theological Seminary’s Alcohol Use Policy


Discretion is required for each member of the DTS family to walk in wisdom and grace as we respond to various expressions of conviction within the Christian community regarding the use of alcoholic beverages. The position of DTS is that Scripture does not prohibit the moderate use of alcohol, yet it warns against the dangers of excess. Therefore, members of the DTS community are asked to be cautious and discerning in their choices regarding alcoholic beverages. As physical-spiritual image bearers of the Triune God, we aspire to be known for excellence in Christlikeness and the exercise of moderation in all things.


As a community of believers in Christ, adopted by the Father, and indwelled by the Spirit, Dallas Theological Seminary faculty, staff, and students possess a unique opportunity to live in loyalty to the Lord, faithfulness to the Scriptures, and under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Within this calling and freedom, we recognize that the Christian community differs over the use of alcoholic beverages, with a range of positions extending from full acceptance to total abstinence. The position of DTS is that Scripture does not prohibit the moderate use of alcohol (Deut 11:13-14; 14:22-26; 1 Chr 12:39-40; Luke 7:33-34; 1 Tim 3:8; 5:23). However, the Bible clearly forbids drunkenness as well as the abuse of freedom that would cause others to stumble in violating their own consciences (Rom 13:13; 14:13-23; Gal 5:21; Eph 5:18; 1 Tim 3:3; Titus 2:3; 1 Pet 4:3-4). Because the Bible both affirms the appropriate use of alcohol and warns against its dangers, members of the DTS community are asked to be very aware and discerning in their choices. While members of the Seminary family are asked to exercise cautious freedom and discernment with the issue of alcohol consumption off campus, Dallas Theological Seminary premises and events will continue to remain free from alcoholic beverages, except for liturgical, ceremonial, medicinal, or other exceptional instances as approved by the administration.

In light of the differing convictions on the use of alcoholic beverages, each member of the Seminary family is urged to walk in wisdom and grace toward one another. Paul admonishes believers not to be characterized by conflict, divisiveness, or judgmental attitudes when promoting their preferred version of Christian conduct (1 Cor 8; Rom 14-15). As we walk together in the Spirit, the effects of His presence in our lives (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control [Gal. 5:22-23]) testify that Christ’s love for us compels us to live for the good of others, to model His sacrificial love to all people, and to unselfishly place the interests of others above our own (Rom 15:2; 2 Cor 5:14-15; Phil 2:3-4).

It is important to understand that DTS’s policy on the use of alcoholic beverages does not represent the only factor that should guide behavior. One’s ministry context plays an important role in choices regarding the issue of alcohol consumption—whether that involves the biblically defined use of or abstention from it. Seminary students, faculty, and staff are admonished to be faithful in their ministry context by submitting to the guidelines established by the leadership of their own local churches, denominations, parachurch ministries, or mission organizations (Rom 13:1-5).

Likewise, in public and global contexts, seminary board, faculty, staff, and students should understand they represent both the Lord and Dallas Theological Seminary, and they should therefore obey any local or national laws regarding alcohol consumption and consistently demonstrate sensitivity to cultural standards as representatives of the Church, the Seminary, and our Lord Jesus Christ, whom we seek to honor and serve.

All aspects of our lives serve as a testimony to the world and at the same time should build up the church. As physical-spiritual image bearers of the Triune God, we aspire to be known for excellence in Christlikeness and the exercise of wisdom in all areas of life—our sexuality, diet (whether food or drink), character, finances, ministry, relationships, work ethic, and doctrine. As the mission of DTS states, we exist as a community “to glorify God by equipping godly servant-leaders for the proclamation of His Word and the building up of the body of Christ worldwide” (emphasis intended).

Extended Note of Reference

In the days of ancient Israel, people commonly drank wine and beer (Heb. shēkār—long translated “strong drink”). The fact that Nazirite men and women abstained from wine during their time of special vow (Num 6:1-4) demonstrates how ordinary drinking wine was in biblical times. Consumption of these drinks took place at banquets, sacred meetings, times of worship (Gen 14:18-20), and weddings (SOS 1:2). Wine—a gift of God “to gladden the heart of man” (Ps 104:15), a drink used in the joyful worship of Yahweh (Deut 14:26), and a joyful part of prophetic portraits of millennial blessings (Amos 9:14)—was a normal part of daily living in biblical times. New Testament evidence is similar to that of Hebrew Scriptures. Our Lord’s first miracle was turning ordinary water into a lavish bounty (120 to 180 gallons) of the best wine (oinos) the steward at a wedding feast had ever tasted (John 2:1-11). The red wine at the Passover Seder and used during Christian communion speaks of the blood of our Lord Jesus (Matt 26:27). Paul encouraged Timothy to “drink a little wine” for health reasons (1 Tim 5:23). However, good things—even the best of things—can be abused. Thus, those called to leadership in the early churches were expected not to drink too much wine (1 Tim 3:2; Titus 2:3). Both wine and beer are subject to abuse, leading to drunkenness, wantonness, and ruin (Gen 9:20-21; Prov 20:1; 23:29-35), but it is important to remember that abuse does not make a good thing evil in itself.


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Good Old Days - Were They?

Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions.
—Ecclesiastes 7:10

By Ken Collins

     Life was easy in the fifties. Most of the shows on television were about cowboys. The good guys wore white hats and the bad guys wore black hats and it was easy to tell them apart. The good guys never did bad things, and the bad guys never did good things. The television shows that were not about cowboys were about happy, loving families, such as Leave it to Beaver and Ozzie and Harriet, or they were about superheroes, such as Superman, who was always on the side of right and his personal faults never tripped him up.
     But those days were not really so good, you only remember them that way. What you forget as you reminisce about the fifties is the terror of that decade. We began with the hysteria of the red scare and ended it terrified of the bomb. On the weekend, we went to the local school to see the latest fallout shelters, which if we had enough money, we could bury in our backyards so that we could survive the nuclear holocaust. No matter what town it was, everyone in it knew that they were the number one target on the Russians’ list. We stared up into the nighttime sky in fear and awe at Sputnik, the first artificial satellite ever to orbit the earth, and in our terror we flocked to the theaters to watch movies about oppressive invaders from outer space. In those days, a black family traveling cross-country to visit relatives had to sleep in the car, because ‘decent’ motels didn’t take colored people. Instead of eating in restaurants, they had to satisfy themselves with a specially designated take-out window, and they had to plan their route to avoid towns where the ‘decent folk’ didn’t like colored people driving through.
     Later we discovered that the actors who portrayed our domestic ideals on the television tube did not live them in their daily lives. They suffered divorce and went through child custody battles; they had drug problems, and George Reeves, who was the 1950’s Superman, ended his life with a gun to his head. Many of the he-men whose manliness we admired at the movies turned out to have been gay all along. The ‘decency’ that separated black and white in the fifties is now an unspeakable moral failing. Nothing turned out to be what it seemed at the time! Not only were our pleasures illusions, our terrors were as well, and as for the Communist Bloc we feared so much—it evaporated like a bad dream at the dawn of a new day.
     The sixties weren’t any better. We began that decade with the assassination of the president of the United States and ended it with the Viet Nam war and filled the middle with racial strife. The seventies contained the inglorious end to the Viet Nam war, the resignation of a president, and war veterans who were denied the glory we promised them.
I could go on and on, but my point is clear: the good old days aren’t good, they are just old. And so, Ecclesiastes tells us not to ask why the old days were better than these, because such a question arises, not from wisdom, but from amnesia.
     Would you like to go back to the fifties in a time machine? I don’t think so. Even though you know how things turned out, it isn’t a place most of us would like to live. Back then, hearing aids were the size of paperback books, there were no computers, television was only black and white, and there was no air conditioning in private homes. There was no Heimlich maneuver, no CPR, no open-heart surgery, and no effective treatment for epilepsy, depressive disorders, or migraine headaches. Remember whiplash? There were no headrests, seat belts, or airbags in cars, and most of the good highways had not yet been built.
     So why do we forget the trials, tribulations, and troubles of former times and remember them fondly? Why do we yearn to return to a time in which we lived in terror day and night?
We remember them as the good old days, because we know how they turned out. We have anxiety about the present age, because we do not know how things will turn out, and in being anxious, we reveal our lack of faith.

Jesus says,

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
—John 16:33b, 

And John says:

There is no fear in love, for perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
—1 John 4:18, 

     We fear the present age, because we do not know how it will turn out. We fear, because we do not believe that Jesus has truly overcome the world, and we fear because we do not love Him or trust Him as we ought.
     But if we truly believe that Jesus could die upon a cross and raise Himself up from the dead on the third day; if we truly believe that on the fortieth day He ascended into heaven and sits, alive and well, at the right hand of God, who is His Father, then why do we fear the present age? When we ride a roller coaster, we scream in terror in the middle, but beneath that terror we trust the management, that no true harm will come to us. If we can trust the management of a rickety roller-coaster ride, why can we not trust the Management of the Universe? When will we stop hiring false teachers to encourage our fears and to magnify our anxieties? We know from past experience that our fears are baseless and our anxieties are pointless. We know from past experience that the false teachers who encourage us to be fearful and anxious are working for their own profit and will end their own careers in scandal. Why then do we follow them and not trust Jesus? If Jesus rising from the dead is not enough of a sign for us, what will it take to shake us from our anxieties? What will it take to get us to stop luxuriating in our fear?
     For if Jesus can raise Himself from the dead, and if He promises to do the same at the end of the age for anyone who trusts Him, and if you truly trust Him, then there is no terror you cannot face. For even if you are defeated and cast down and betrayed and backstabbed and slandered—and even if you die and everyone forgets you—Jesus will give you triumph over all the terrors of this life. And looking back on these days, as you look back on the days of old, you will see that your terrors had no substance, your anxieties had no cause, and your trust was not misplaced.
     Why do you wait until the Last Day to enjoy this peace, which you now possess?


Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter Blessings | 2018

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me. Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." ...

He went away a second time and prayed, "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it,
may your will be done."...

So...he went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
Matthew 26:36,39,42,44

by Stanley Dalizu

     Palm Sunday has rushed by this week and many of us are reflecting on Jesus Christ's coming agony and excruciating crucifixion in payment for the sins of those who would place their trust in Him. Without these revealing passages, we may whisk away the magnitude of what Christ did, exchanging the thought of Christ's unfair and overwhelming advantage in obeying The Father.  The Creator, the King, the One who sustains and knows all things must have known how this would have all played out. He knows and understands beginning from end. He owns everything. He is all powerful. Yet, he chose to come down as a man and give himself a free ransom from the grip of evil and eternal death, in exchange for freedom and eternal life to all who would place total faith and trust in Him alone. It was nothing to him, right? I know of no better analogy than Alabama Crimson Tide Football. In terms of deciding an outcome of any given match-up against the Roll Tide, even the opponent knows the outcome. Or the courage of our fierce  Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen confronting the wickedness of Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy on that grisly D-Day - the largest seaborne operation in all military history.
    Quite often I fail to capture Christ's humanity. His deity and humanity are one of the greatest mysteries, but it sure makes a ton more sense in the adoption process. If Christ's prayer that night were any indicator, what He was preparing to do was an overwhelmingly big deal. And it's still the biggest deal in all of history. What he disclosed to his disciples revealed his vulnerability to how perplexing and anguishing his sufferings would be to him. He pleaded with the Father three times. This was clearly not from despair or distrust of His Father. As preached at our church last Sunday (not by me), "His humanity and divinity collided, and his divinity lead him to subject himself to the Father's will." The Gospels are emphatic that Christ agonized internally to the point of sweating blood (Luke 22:44). Certainly, the astonishing fact is that Jesus knew exactly what the outcome would be and He still accommodated himself to bear the iniquities which the Father had laid upon him. He never abandoned his humanness - or his Father's will.
    Beloved, all said, it is extremely uplifting to have your total support and encouragement in our comparatively small mission and trials. By His hour of suffering Jesus Christ had only betrayal and was denied the supports and comforts we get to enjoy on his behalf (Matthew 26:45-46; Luke 22:21;60-63). It is true that the many dear saints who have suffered much worse than any of us with the most terrible deaths and torments, still were without the same sorrows and consternations of Jesus Christ - some "called their prisons delectable orchards, and a bed of flames a bed of roses." The victory is in Jesus because He defeated death - He rose again! A short while ago we were able to sit in to hear the encouragement and exhortation of fellow and seasoned pastors to a new pastor being ordained. One of the great warnings taken from Joshua 1:6-11 was this: "True courage is the willingness to obey God's voice despite the cost and opposition, circumstances and emotions. God will ask you to take risks, but take courage and seize His assignments for you." Christ really did model for us how to live for Him, The Father, and the Holy Spirit, and truly there is no better way to live life. He hasn’t asked us to do anything He didn’t already do. May the power and grace of Jesus Christ richly dwell in your spirit, beloved.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Going Beyond the Gun Debate

By Jim Daly, President of Focus on the Family

Jim Daly has said what I have tried to articulate in my own heart. "We have a tourniquet-level problem – a sick culture, crumbling families, and an abandonment of basic values and decency – and we’re attempting to treat it with band aid solutions that do nothing to address the cause." 

Photo courtesy of

Last week’s extraordinary public debates about guns, both at the White House and at CNN’s Florida Town Hall, were highly emotional and contentious events. Over a week after the catastrophic carnage in Parkland, Florida, debate concerning what to do about it is raging red-hot, and understandably so. People committing violent acts with guns is a growing epidemic, particularly in schools. Since early January, in addition to Florida, there have been school shootings in Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Alabama, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
In response, students around the country have been marching in protest and sharing their thoughts, demanding that legislative action be taken to end the escalating violence. At the White House, Andrew Pollack, an understandably distraught father whose daughter Meadow was murdered in Parkland, Florida, pleaded with President Trump.
“How many schools, how many children have to get shot?” he asked. “It stops here, with this administration and me, because I’m not going to sleep until it’s fixed.”
These parents and students are asking reasonable questions. They figure that doing something is better than doing nothing.
It’s wise to examine existing gun laws and ask if there changes or additions that need to be made, and also ask whether the myriad of relevant laws already on the books are being adequately enforced. This is the role of our legislature. But if the debate starts and stops there, the heartbreaking and horrific events of February 14th will happen again.
That’s because at its core, the current debate has to be about more than guns. What’s being protested is a symptom of a much larger problem. You cannot legislate away evil. No laws on the books can change the human heart.
What these students should be protesting and discussing is the lost culture they’ve inherited from us. It’s a lost culture that mocks or ignores God and His timeless teachings, living for only carnal pleasures and temporary thrills.
These students now protesting are demanding we talk about and enact more gun control legislation – because we live in this lost culture where increasingly people can no longer control themselves.
History suggests that freedoms are taken away from people who cannot manage them.  This is how freedoms die, when a culture is no longer morally able to exercise those freedoms in a proper and responsible manner.
We’re living through a moral freefall, but few in positions of influence are willing to talk about it. Instead, we hear much talk about its symptoms (like gun violence), and many of these same people want to ban the very things that will lead to healing and revival.
Those with a fervent and sincere faith are mocked and marginalized rather than respected and uplifted for their deeply help religious convictions.
Vice President Mike Pence was maligned the other day by Joy Behar on ABC television for acknowledging that he prays for wisdom and waits to hear for guidance from the Lord.
“It’s one thing to talk to Jesus,” Behar told her audience. “It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you … That’s called mental illness … Hearing voices.”
It’s ironic that the popular television host is lampooning the idea of God communicating wise counsel. I would point out to Ms. Behar that Jesus preached against murder – yet many think it’s illegal for high school students to hear that teaching.
I also can’t help but note that many of those who are demanding more gun laws in an effort to protect innocent life find it entirely acceptable that 4,000 innocent lives are lost each day at the hands of abortionists. More than 55 million babies have been legally killed in the U.S. in the last few decades, and yet our societal elites seem genuinely befuddled why life is viewed so cheaply by those who resort to those shocking incidents of violence.
I realize this is a complex discussion, but let’s get it all out on the table. Where is the Left’s grief for these children? Senator Schumer (D-NY) was high-fiving his colleagues after blocking a vote on the pain-capable bill limiting abortion to the first twenty weeks of development. Most developed nations don’t allow abortion past 12-13 weeks.
What’s more, those who champion the ideal of families with both a mother and a father are regularly dismissed as being hopelessly out of touch with modern mores. Yet, six of the deadliest mass shootings committed in the United States since 2005 were committed by young men without fathers in the home. In addition, studies show that young men without dads are roughly three times more likely to carry a gun and deal drugs than those living with a father.
The opioid crisis is devastating the country on numerous levels. In fact, experts identify it as the primary factor in causing life expectancy in the US to drop for the first time in many years. At the same time, those of us who oppose the legalization of marijuana are somehow socially square and standing in the way of progress.
We have a tourniquet-level problem – a sick culture, crumbling families, and an abandonment of basic values and decency – and we’re attempting to treat it with band aid solutions that do nothing to address the cause.
It was John Adams who famously remarked that “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Was our nation’s second president foreshadowing our current crisis? Was he pointing to the fact that someday – maybe today – we would no longer be trusted with these freedoms because we can no longer control our wrong impulses to harm others?
President Adams was identifying the key issue which undergirds all our freedoms. I pray that we heed his warning. History is clear: godlessness and immorality leads to an outbreak of evil.


Sunday, January 7, 2018

What is your aim? Whose Glory is Your Goal?

What Is Your Aim?

By John Piper

Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. . . . And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17)

When you get up in the morning and you face the day, what do you say to yourself about your hopes for the day? When you look from the beginning of the day to the end of the day, what do you want to happen because you have lived?

If you say, “I don’t even think like that. I just get up and do what I’ve got to do,” then you are cutting yourself off from a basic means of grace and a source of guidance and strength and fruitfulness and joy. It is crystal clear in the Bible, including these texts, that God means for us to aim consciously at something significant in our days.

God’s revealed will for you is that when you get up in the morning, you don’t drift aimlessly through the day letting mere circumstances alone dictate what you do, but that you aim at something — that you focus on a certain kind of purpose. I’m talking about children here, and teenagers, and adults — single, married, widowed, moms, and every trade and every profession.

Aimlessness is akin to lifelessness. Dead leaves in the back yard may move around more than anything else — more than the dog, more than the children. The wind blows this way, they go this way. The wind blows that way, they go that way. They tumble, they bounce, they skip, they press against a fence, but they have no aim whatsoever. They are full of motion and empty of life.

God did not create humans in his image to be aimless, like lifeless leaves blown around in the backyard of life. He created us to be purposeful — to have a focus and an aim for all our days. What is yours today? What is yours for the new year? A good place to start is 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”


Glory Is the Goal

By John Piper

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:2)

Seeing the glory of God is our ultimate hope. “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2). God will “present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 24).

He will “make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory” (Romans 9:23). He “calls you into his own kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:12). “Our blessed hope [is] the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

Jesus, in all his person and work, is the incarnation and ultimate revelation of the glory of God. “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3). “Father, I desire that they . . . may be with me where I am, to see my glory” Jesus prays in John 17:24.

“So, I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed” (1 Peter 5:1). “The creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).

“We impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7).“This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). “Those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:30).

Seeing and sharing in God’s glory is our ultimate hope through the gospel of Christ.

Such a hope, that is really known and treasured, has a huge and decisive effect on our present values and choices and actions.

Get to know the glory of God. Study the glory of God and the glory of Christ. Study the glory of the world that reveals the glory of God, and the glory of the gospel that reveals the glory of Christ.

Treasure the glory of God in all things and above all things.

Study your soul. Know the glory you are seduced by, and know why you treasure glories that are not God’s glory.

Study your own soul to know how to make the glories of the world collapse like the pagan idol Dagon in 1 Samuel 5:4. Let all glories that distract you from the glory of God shatter in pitiful pieces on the floor of the world’s temples. Treasure the glory of God above all this world.

Source: “Solid Joys” - Daily Devotionals from John Piper. December 27 & 28, 2017,

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Responding Biblically to Racism

By Bob Lepine
Events in Charlottesville remind us that ultimately the solution to racism comes when hearts are transformed.
Do not be overcome by evil (Romans 12:21a).
There may be other words that describe what we all saw take place recently in Charlottesville, Virginia. But at its core, the demonstration of racism and white supremacy was a bold manifestation of the worst of humanity. It was evil.
As we think about our response to these events, and as we talk with our children about them, our thinking and our conversations should be directed by what we read in the Bible.
1. Racism is satanic. The source of all racism and white supremacy is the person the Bible describes as the father of lies (John 8:44). Racism is demonic. It’s diabolical. To believe that one group of people has more value or worth than another is the spirit of antichrist.
What the racists in Charlottesville were espousing puts them in league with the devil himself. It also grieves the heart of God.
2. The sin of racism is a sin against God Himself. It is God who created us in His image, after His likeness (Genesis 1:27). Every person on earth is an image bearer of God. So to suggest that any group of people is in some way inferior or sub-human is to blaspheme the God who created them. It is to degrade His image.
Racisim or hatred is a complete contradiction of God's character, and hinders one's ability to even know Him. First John 4:7 says, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love." This is a great principle to teach our children.
3. This kind of evil is present in your heart, too. As we find ourselves appropriately enraged and grieved by what we saw on our TV screens this past weekend, we should be sobered by the reminder that each of us is capable of this kind of evil.
Jesus spoke about this in the Sermon on the Mount when He said, “I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire” (Matthew 5:22). Beware of allowing your anger to stir in you a sense of your own righteousness. If you wind up thinking that you are in some way superior to the racists who were protesting, you will be falling into the same sin of superiority that they were manifesting.
4. Christians must publicly, humbly, and boldly stand against racism. Followers of Jesus should be at the forefront of the chorus speaking out against what has taken place. Especially when white supremacist groups claim that what they’re espousing is somehow a Christian way of thinking. There should be no equivocation on this. No nuance. We must speak clearly and forcefully in proclaiming that all men and women bear the imago dei—the image of God.
5. Overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21b). Outrage is one thing. But a culture is not transformed by feelings of outrage.
As David Nasser wrote this weekend, we should seek to turn our outrage into outreach. Ask yourself, What is one way I can tangibly express or demonstrate my love today for someone who is different than me? As one hymn writer reminded us more than a century ago, it’s not with sword’s loud clashing or roll of stirring drums, but with deeds of love and mercy, the heavenly kingdom comes. How can you turn your outrage into outreach today?
6. Be intentionally multicultural in your relationships. Our children learn about life and values and what matters most by how they see their parents live and the choices we make. We can tell them that God created men and women of all races with equal dignity and worth. And we should.
But do we spend time with friends who do not look like us? Are there any subtle ways we communicate that people who are a different ethnicity are somehow less valuable or have less dignity than we do? Are there proactive steps we can take this week to communicate to our children that just as God loves all people, so do we?
Ultimately, the solution to the problem of racism is for the hearts of men and women to be transformed by the good news that God has a great gift for all who will trust in Him. It’s the gift of grace—unmerited favor. It’s the gift God offers to unworthy, rebellious people. It’s the gift He offers to the racists who will repent and believe His message. It’s the gift He offers to the self-righteous person who thinks he’s better than others.
That gift of grace is a transforming gift. It makes men and women new people who are now alive to God as sons and daughters. It’s a free gift, given to all who will present themselves as slaves to God and to righteousness (Romans 6:16-18).
There is a day coming when racism will end, when a great multitude of people from every tongue and tribe and nation will gather together to join their voices to cry out, “Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever!” 
May God’s Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
We also recommend Russell Moore's article on this topic, "White Supremacy Angers Jesus, But Does It Anger His Church?" And for help with talking to your kids about racism, read "Teaching Children to Value All People."
Copyright © 2017 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.
Bob is a senior vice president and chief creative officer at FamilyLife, as well as the co-host of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife's nationally syndicated radio program. He is the author of The Christian Husband, and the on air voice for “Today In The Word,” produced by Moody Radio, and for “Truth for Life” with Alistair Begg. Bob also serves on the board of directors for the National Religious Broadcasters.
Bob and his wife, Mary Ann, live in Little Rock, Arkansas. Bob also serves as an elder and teaching pastor at Redeemer Community Church.