Thursday, August 17, 2006

Verse of the Day

This passage has an interesting condition, don't you think?

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
Colossians 1:21-23

No Good Churches Around

Dear Pastor Lawyer,

As a parent with three young children and two older children, we have always attended fellowships that emphasized Christian individualism. Recently however, because of sermons and books we’ve read we’ve realized that being Covenantal and Reformed is the Biblical way to the Christian life. The problem is that we can’t seem to find a like minded church in the town where we live. Do you have any suggestions for us?


Hi Willils,

The good news is that I understand your situation. Sometimes the church can be a pretty sad situation.

Here's what I suggest: begin by drawing near to God. Read your bible, read books, listen to tapes, read them in front of the family, read them with the family, listen to the family read them to you (ability appropriate of course), etc.

Next, continue to embrace the liturgy of your current church, teach your kids, love them, hug them, take them on dates, let the new Reformed life that you say you believe flow out your finger tips all over your family. Above all, love their mother. Make it very obvious that you are loving her. Take her on dates, bring her flowers and gifts for reasons and for no reason. Study her, lift her up to God, make her (by your love for her) the most beautiful woman in town.

Also, pray that God would give you good fellowship. Look for it at work, at play, at church, at other churches, everywhere you go. Ask God for fellowship and then look for it.

Do you know of any other Christians in your area who would be interested in having a Bible study or with whom you might possibly start a church one day? Begin meeting with them and dreaming and praying with them for your community.

Don't be divisive at church, rather be winsome. Be wise, pick your battles, be a good example of godliness for your children. Pray for your older children. Did I mention taking them on dates? Don't push them, let them see the changes in you. Let them want what you have and ask about it.

Pray also for a new place to worship. Pray also for a way to move to wherever there is a good church. Consider extending the distance you are willing drive to go to church. Ask God to reveal to you a "way" to get better fellowship.

Don't forget Cornelius and the Ethiopian eunuch. God brought people to both of them in their times of need. He can do the same for you.

I hope this helps some.

Mike Lawyer Christ Church, Moscow

PS -- Where do you live? Maybe we know somone in your area to hook you up with.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Verse of the Day

When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me, "Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.

Proverbs 4:3-7

Verse of the Day

Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.
Proverbs 3:3

Monday, August 14, 2006

Another Way: Church Discipline

Dear Pastor Lawyer,

I have a friend who blew up at me the other day for no reason at all. After I tried to reconcile with him by telling just how wrong he was to treat me that way, he blew up again and is now telling all our friends what a terrible person I am. I’ve talked with him alone, should I follow the Matthew 18 passage and take two other witnesses with me so that we can get this mess straightened out?

Out of fellowship in Cinci,

Hello OOF,

Relationships can be tough can’t they?

Instead of taking your friend to church court over the whole affair, I would suggest that you ask one of your church elders to look into the matter on your behalf. You should know that he will not just take your word for the situation, but will follow the wisdom given in Proverbs 18:17 and explore the situation with your friend to see if you account is exactly what you represent. This does not mean that you are lying, or that your friend didn’t do exactly what you said he did, but before your elder gets involved, he should check out the other side of the issue.

Oof you should know that Matthew 18 is not the only passage in the bible that talks about how Christians is supposed to relate to other Christians. We all desire perfect relationships in the body of Christ, especially in our particular little corner of the body. But sometimes this isn't possible because people are, well, people.

Other passages that might apply are:

Romans 12:17-21 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." 20 To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

This verse tells us that at times it will be difficult, if not impossible to live in fellowship with other folks (there is no stipulation as to whether these be Christians or non-Christians). This can be due to a number of things: their immaturity, our immaturity, or either party's pride, etc. When two people don't get along, for whatever reason, it is generally not only one party that is to blame. For this reason folks need to check into things very thoroughly before making any firm judgments.

Either way, the passage does not say that when one Christian has a difficult time with another Christian, he should automatically take him to church court. It says he should strive to be at peace with all men as far as it is possible. If he can’t settle a dispute he might very well just let it go. What he should never do is take matters of judgment into his own hands and seek revenge on his brother. Instead it says the offended brother should let God deal with the other fellow's heart. Moreover, the offended brother should not only not attack his offensive brother, he should aggressively love his brother and thus love him into fellowship.

Here are a few more passages that might help you as you wait to see what your elder finds out:

Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.

Proverbs 17:9 He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

Proverbs 19:11 Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.


1 Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

I don’t mean to imply that you have done anything inappropriate by talking with folks other than your friend and I about this situation. My point in bringing up these verses is that as far as you are concerned you should probably let the whole issue drop. You should let your love for your friend cover his sin against you. If you don’t, you run the risk of becoming bitter and we all know that a bitter root will eventually cause a whole lot of nasty damage (cf. Heb. 12:15; cf. Deut. 29:18).

Until your elder gets back to you with your friend’s response to the whole situation, you need to love him and let it go. When your elder gets your friend’s side of the situation, he will either come to you to straighten it all out, or the three of you can get together, or you can have a couple of elders get with you to help hash it out.

Please know that your church leaders don’t like to have the fellowship broken any more than you do, but they also know that we live in a world full of sinners who are all working on living with other sinners. Please have patience, don’t let your friend’s behavior harden your heart and cause you to sin. Instead you should take the high ground and let love cover a multitude of sins.

Blessings brother,

Pastor Lawyer

Verse of the Day

Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.

Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.

When a man's folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the LORD.

Wealth brings many new friends, but a poor man is deserted by his friend.

A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will not escape.

Many seek the favor of a generous man, and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts.

Proverbs 19:1-6

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Quote of the Day

The image of a "ewe Lamb" in the following quote is a reference to the description of Uriah's wife when Nathan confronted David with his sin.

(…Yet in a tender moment when I told Brenda [the author's wife] that I wanted to treat her like a “ewe lamb,” she felt honored rather than offended.)…As Bathsheba was precious to Uriah, your wife is your precious one, your only one. She lives with you and lies in your arms. She’s to be cherished, not because of what she does for you, but because of her essence, her value to God as a child born in His image. You’ve been entrusted with the priceless essence of another human soul, so precious to God that at the foundation of the world He planned to pay His dearest price to buy her back again…When you look deeply enough into your wife’s eyes, past the pain and hurts and fights, you can still find that little ewe lamb gazing back, hoping all things and trusting all things.

[Arterburn, Stephen, Fred Stoeker, and Mike Yorkey, Every Mans‘s Battle (WaterBrook Press, 2000), pg. 197

Verse of the Day

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

2 Peter 1:3-7

My Sister; My Bride

How beautiful you are, my darling.
Oh, how beautiful!
Your eyes behind your veil are doves…

Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon,

Your mouth is lovely…

All beautiful you are, my darling;

There is no flaw in you…

You have stolen my heart, my sister; my bride;

You have stolen my heart

With one glance of your eyes…

How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride!…

Your head crowns you like Mount Carmel.

Your hair is like royal tapestry;

The king is held captive by its tresses.

How beautiful you are and how pleasing,

O love, with your delights.

Song of Songs 4:1,3,7,9-10; 7:5-6

Friday, August 04, 2006

Unconvinced About Certain Sins

Dear Pastor Lawyer,

As I was reading my Bible the other day, I came across this passage: "Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor erers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10) I know some people who come to our church who fit into some of these categories and I can't believe that the loving God that I serve would keep them out of the Kingdom because they live in ways that he created them to be. What do you think?


Dear Unconvinced,

Many people join you in your response to this passage. To begin with let me ask you this: Are you upset that all of the categories are on the list, or are you just upset that one or two are on it? Most people think some of the characteristics on the list ought to be on it, but that the ones they are participating in, or those that close friends are experiencing, should be kept off the list. This is because most of us think we are in some sense special and should be allowed to do what we want to do. At the same time we understand why other people's sinful behaviors should be denied. People tend to think their own sin is too important for God to think badly of, but other people's sin is too terrible to enter the Kingdom of God.

The problem, however, isn't with the list. It's with our understanding of our place in creation. We think we are the center of the universe and God ought to cow down to us or hit the road. We aren't upset when he lets us have our way, but as soon as he stands for righteousness, or justice, or holiness, or purity - look out! "Who does he think he is, anyway?" we ask. Well, he thinks he's God and he thinks we're not.

When you break the list down, you see that each one of the behaviors on the list is exactly opposite of some fundamental aspect of our humanity. Several of these things affect our human uality (fornication, ery, effeminateness, and homosexuality), created by God to operate in a particular manner both for our health and wellbeing and for our correct relationship to and with God. Many of the others affect how we trust in God for our sustenance and love him with our whole hearts and minds and strength (idolatry, covetousness, drunkenness, swindling, reviling, and stealing).

You mentioned that God created us this way. In a way, you're right. God did create us sinners. We sin because we are like our head, Adam. But God also commanded us not to participate in the behaviors on this list (and a few others, by the way). He said that if we do, we will suffer his wrath and will be cursed with eternal Hell. On the other hand, he says that if we want help with our stealing problem (or whatever) we can call out to him and he will help us. It will be on his terms of course, he is still God, but he will come to us if we seek him with all our heart. So, we are created sinners, but we've been commanded not to sin. We are held responsible for our sin and accountable. We are guilty of sin, even though we are all born that way. But there is a solution to the dilemma. We can cry out to God from the depths of our misery and ask him for relief and forgiveness. He will hear and he will heal. But we must remember that he is God and we are not.

I hope that helps,

Pastor Lawyer

Verse of the Day

It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.
Psalm 118:8
This verse is the central verse in the Bible, it is situated in the central chapter in the Bible, sandwiched between the shortest chapter in the Bible (117) and the longest chapter in the Bible (119). I just thought you might want to know.

Quote of the Day

Some people resist overlooking offenses and settling disputes by arguing, “I have my rights—and it wouldn’t be just to let him off so easily.” Whenever I hear this comment from a Christian, I ask, “Where would you spend eternity if God administered justice that was not tempered with mercy?” The answer is obvious: We would all be condemned to hell. Fortunately, God does not treat us as our sins deserve: To those who have trusted in Christ, he is compassionate and merciful—and he expects us to treat one another the same way. As Jesus taught, “be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36; cf. Micah 6:8; Matt. 5:7; James 2:12-13).

[Kenneth Sande, The Peace Maker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict (Baker Books, 2004), pg. 92]

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Fathers and God

Dear Pastor Lawyer,

I grew up in a family where everything was always topsy-turvy. My father drank a lot and could never seem to hold a job. He wasn’t home much and when he was, he beat us kids a lot of the time. He also treated my mother terribly. My question for you is, how can I love and respect God the father when every time I hear the word father, I cringe and want to run away and hide?

Thanks, Confused

Dear confused,

You’re right when you assume that there is some kind of correlation between God and your father. One of the reasons God created the family was so that children and others could see how God and his people are supposed to function together (e.g. The Bible says that the father represents Christ and the wife represents the church — Ephesians 5:22ff.). When a child sees his father, he is supposed to see God. Thus, fathers represent God to their families. If the father is a godly man, who loves his wife and children, and who cares for them by loving them and disciplining them, his children’s view of God will be more accurate than those of the man who abandons his family for his own selfish gain. In both cases the family has a view of God: the former have a good idea of God, the latter a terrible one.

There are a couple of things you need to keep in mind as you think about these things. First, no father is perfect. This means that everyone’s view of God is a bit skewed. God did this on purpose so that we wouldn’t worship our fathers, thus becoming idolaters. He wants us to look past our fathers to him. Dads are like neon lights that point to God. When the light works well, the view is good. If the light is dim or sends the wrong message, our understanding and ideas about God are off.

Second, since no one is perfect, you need to realize that your father could never have been a perfect father. He could have been better, yes, but he wasn’t. This means that you are going to have to forgive him for his sin and go on with your life in Christ. Let me caution you here that you need to study God’s word so that you get an accurate view of how your father should have been rather than a “gut feeling” about how things ought to have been. You may be holding things against your father that were not sin and were not even wrong. This leads me to the last thing to keep in mind.

You’re going to have to do some serious Bible study to learn about how God really is and how fathers should really behave. Then, as you come across passages that describe God in ways that differ from your own experience, you can forgive your father and change the picture you have about God to fit the Biblical ideal rather than the one your father gave you. As you do this, your view of God will become more accurate and your feelings about calling him Father will change as well.

Blessings on you as your image of God grows and changes,

Pastor Lawyer

Quote of the Day

The medical tes because the urge to drink feels like a disease. It feels like something else takes over when alcohol is available. For those who never struggled wit hit, it is easy to say that alcoholism is a self-conscious, immoral decision. But for those who experience it, it feels like anything but a decision. If there is a decision being made, it feels as if it is a disease that does the choosing…

But there is more to the popular disease approach. If you have ever been to an AA meeting, you know that while the use is always spoken of in disease terms, the cure is decidedly moral. There are no medications dispensed or surgeries to be had. You arrest the course of the disease by saying no. You both give up your will to a higher power and determine, with the help of others, to live an abstinent life. According to the AA tradition and the disease , you are not responsible for the cause but you are responsible for the cure…

If the solution does not involve a technological or chemical corrective, that is strong evidence that our problem lies in the area of our choices and commitments, not our bodies or brains. It must. Otherwise abstinence would not be enough to tame the disease…

The Bible says that we first choose our addictions, and only then do our addictions choose us.

[Welch, Edward T., Blame it on the Brain (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1998), pg. 186, 190, 191]

Verse of the Day

Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I will be blameless, And I shall be acquitted of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:13-14