Isaiah 41.10 - Real, Honest, Faith

Isaiah 41.10 - Real, Honest, Faith

Imagine a Mega-church pastor, the best-known preacher in the English-speaking world, being vulnerably transparent? Meet Charles Spurgeon. At just 22, married only 10 months, a new father of twin boys – thousands came to hear him preach. One fool in a massive crowd yelled, “Fire!” And in the stampede from a fire that wasn’t 7 died, 28 seriously injured. Spurgeon never fully recovered emotionally. For three weeks following he was in an asylum under suicide watch. Many expected he’d never preach again. We all know he did, masterfully. And in God’s mystery, tragedy made him a more sensitive messenger. He called, “Jesus the Chief Mourner…our man of sorrows… ordinary mourners…sip at sorrow’s bowl, but He drains it dry.” From “Spurgeon’s Sorrows” by Zack Eswine, (Christian Focus, 2014) – a great read!

Isaiah 45.7 - Theodicy in Theophany

Isaiah 45.7 - Theodicy in Theophany

It seems a cruel coincidence to study Revelation 6 when death and destruction has cut deeply into the Philippines. Is God really holy and loving? Scripture is clear that God is sovereign. He has willed the existence of both good and evil, all for His own glory. “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things” (Isaiah 45.7; Proverbs 16.4) Theodicy is the study of the problem of evil – it’s both a philosophical and pastoral struggle. Whatever God's ultimate reasons for evil, far from being unconcerned, we know He came down at the costliest expense imaginable. The only innocent One was put to death on a cross. "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:18) He who knew no evil became evil on our behalf. “By way of Theophany, he, personally and painfully, resolved the problem of evil for eternity. Do we really need to know more than that?” (Scott Oliphint)

Isaiah 58 – True Fasting

Isaiah 58 – True Fasting

In the Scriptures fasting is coupled with sorrow and mourning, often in response to sin. Ezra, Nehemiah and Daniel threw themselves into periods of mourning, weeping, fasting and praying when they heard news of the sins of their people. In Isaiah 58 we see clearly true repentance is more than just acknowledgment of sin and a request for forgiveness. We must walk away from our sins – break their habitual practice. True fasting demands sharing our food, our home, and our clothes with those in need. In this God promises mourning turns to joy, darkness to light, brokenness to healing, weakness to strength, drought to fertility, waste places to strong cities, and even fasting to feasting. Our prayer focus this week as a church is Asia.  With the cataclysmic blow to Japan in the forefront of our minds, let us not forget the rest of this vast and diverse geographic region. This is the most populous and least evangelized region of the world! May God be gracious to send joy, light, healing, and hope to all the peoples of Asia.

Isaiah 62.6 - Let us pray for the Church and for the world…

Isaiah 62.6 - Let us pray for the Church and for the world…

Let us pray for the Church and for the world, and let us thank God for his goodness. May the leaders of our country rule with justice. May righteousness be our shield and our protector. May the country be at peace; and the people be blessed. May the herds increase; and the fish in the lakes be many. May the fields yield abundantly; may the harvests be great. May all artisans and traders see the benefit of their labours. May we and our enemies turn from strife and seek peace. May the strength of the Lord support all who are sick. May the Lord’s love comfort the bereaved, the oppressed, widows, orphans, and the lonely. May the paths and roads of the world be swept clean of all dangers. The Lord of mercy is with us.  Amen. – from the Liturgy of the Church of the Congo

Ezekiel 11.16 - What is Going on Here!?

Ezekiel 11.16 - What is Going on Here!?

Long ago Nebuchadnezzar sought to extend Babylon’s global footprint by enlisting the best and brightest from around his world for service. Today the brightest and best from nations far beyond Babylon are here to study in China’s universities. And just as the Lord of the Hebrews had a purpose bigger than Nebuchadnezzar; the Lord of His Church has a grand kingdom purpose for many who will return to be leaders in more than 100 nations of the world. They are here for us to serve. With the motto “Gathering, Growing, and Going” we rejoice to see many find, follow, and bear fruit for the Lord Jesus Christ in ZGC today. And we hear great things about the impact our alumni are making all around the world. Do you want to reach the far corners of the earth? It is now just a subway ride away.

Daniel - Endurance and Escape

Daniel - Endurance and Escape

The long life of Daniel reveals much about our walk with the living God. Of course, the well-known headlines of the book are memorable moments; like when “a fourth man walks in the fire” and delivers our three friends; or when Daniel slept comfortably with the lions; or the night the hand of God wrote regime-change on the palace wall. But there were a lot of mundane moments in between. There were years of study when the four young Hebrews learned Babylonian culture better than the natives. There were long years of civil service amidst idolatrous empires where Daniel modeled integrity and long-distance obedience. He was honored by the Babylonians, who respected him greatly, but they knew the God of Israel held Belteshazzar’s ultimate allegiance. The long and complicated final chapters of Daniel’s book matched his long life – confident in his God, trusting Him with life’s questions.

Daniel 1.1-3 - Where Am I?

Daniel 1.1-3 - Where Am I?

This summer I traveled ‘memory lane’ through my home state of California. St. Luke’s Hospital in San Francisco, born there 63 years ago! What? Now it is California Pacific Medical Center!? Clark Jr. High School in La Crescenta…now a magnet school!? Montrose Community Church - where I was baptized as new Christian at 17…closed!? My old friends…moved away…dead…yikes! Going back home seems impossible! The book of Daniel…young people dragged far from home…their homeland demolished…a lifetime in exile. But those Hebrews were filled with hope. The believer’s home is not seen by looking back, but looking forward. We never get the full picture from earth. But we know the Maker who has prepared a place for us. Enoch and Elijah got there abruptly. But most of us get there like the Maker’s Son, death that leads to life. Lift up your heads, true home is on the horizon.