Colossians 3:12-17

What a blessing to partake of Christ’s ministry among us this past Lord’s Day! His living Word, so faithfully preached from Adrian Donato in both the morning and the evening, was rich indeed. Hand in hand with the passages that Adrian preached from, the following truths are always relevant and necessary for us as Christ’s people:

Colossians 3:12-17 (ESV):
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another,forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 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. 

You are often in my prayers, with much gratitude,


The Unstoppable Work of Jesus Christ

The work of Jesus Christ, in saving sinners to the glory of God, is unstoppable.  No man can extinguish heaven’s fire!


The Pharisee Gamaliel, though he was no follower of Christ, was given insight to understand that, “…if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail.  But if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them.  You might even be found opposing God.”  (Acts 5:38-39)


Beloved, though Jesus Christ and the gospel has been under constant attack from rebellious and unbelieving enemies, He can never be stopped, extinguished, or conquered.  He lives and He reigns, as His word testifies, and as He will throughout eternity.


What comfort and courage this truth should bring to every Christian!  Though as God’s people we can, and will be, often mocked, ridiculed, rejected, marginalized, threatened, harassed, and even beaten and killed, absolutely NO ONE who opposes God will win!  Jesus is real, He does reign, and the Gospel is true.


Let us then all the more boldly seek the Lord, be pure, do good, preach Christ, and fear not, being convinced and confident that, “…there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name (Jesus) under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  (Acts 4:12)


Because He lives, and is returning,


John 1:14-18 (ESV)

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side,he has made him known.

God’s Good Authority

Contrary to our natural, negative perceptions of “authority”, God’s perfect and good authority in Jesus Christ is the outworking of His holy love.  And the goal of His love and authority is to promote mankind’s greatest pleasure and joy in His glory.  Thus to submit to God’s authority is to taste of His love and goodness, and to know true life in Him.  And to rebel is to reject that same love, goodness, and life.  This is why Peter, throughout his first letter, is continually exhorting believers with statements like, “…as obedient children…be holy in all your conduct” (1:14-15); “…be subject for the Lord’s sake…” (2:13); “…honor Christ the Lord as holy…” (3:15); “…entrust [your] souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” (4:19); and “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God…” (5:6).


Jonathan Leeman offers these thoughts:  “What a hellish lie has made humans despise the idea of authority!  Divine authority grounded in holy love does not sap and steal the truly human from the human – just the opposite.  It creates the human, and it authorizes the human to participate in, or mimic, that which is most satisfying – the divine life.  The call to obedience is nothing more than a call into the pleasure of consciously imaging a perfect God.   The rule of God’s love, his call to obedience, is a commissioning – a great commissioning.  God equips us with all the tools of consciousness and creativity that we need to image him; he hands us the planet and then he authorizes us to go about living, loving, building, singing, conquering, investigating, caring, and speaking in such a way that his glory is manifested and displayed.”  (from The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love, Crossway: 2010, pg. 145)


Beloved, what great mercy God has poured out upon us in the Lord Jesus Christ!  Though we were rebels and under His just wrath, he has forgiven, cleansed, justified, reconciled, and restored us under His holy, good, loving authority!  Submission to him – his commands, and his will in our circumstances – should be our greatest delight, as ever more deeply we “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8; 1 Pt. 2:3)!


How I love you in the love of Christ!


A Note from Haiti

Devastated by the effects of false teaching from cults, peddlers of the prosperity gospel, and Pentecostalism, Haiti is in great need for pastors to be equipped and encouraged as Christ-exalting shepherds who can exposit God’s word. My hope is that men will be raised up and trained, churches will be strengthened, and the Gospel will spread in this spiritually dark and troubled land.

By the Lord’s grace and your faithful support, I received the opportunity to minister God’s Word in Haiti again this Fall. This ministry trip is being coordinated in conjunction with Pastors of the Caribbean, led by Thomas Herrera who was present among us this past Lord’s Day. Additionally, I will be co-teaching and preaching with Pastor Lance Gentry from Austin Bluffs Evangelical Free Church in Colorado Springs, CO. First, I will be preaching for a two-day pastor’s conference at Iglise Evangelique Bethesda de Madeline, near Cap-Haitien (Sept. 27-28). This church is led by Pastor Julio Jean-Gilles, whom I met during my previous trip in 2012 and with whom I have since grown in friendship through the Lord’s doing. I will also be preaching at Pastor Julio’s church on the Lord’s Day, September 29. Afterward, I will be teaching at the Faculty of Theology, a Haitian pastoral training center (Sept. 30 – Oct. 3). I will be posting updates on my Facebook page throughout the duration of my trip, so please feel free to check for posts there.

Meanwhile, please pray for God to use His word to bear much fruit for His glory (Jn. 15:8), encourage Haitian pastors in faithful Gospel ministry (1 Tim. 4:12-16), and bring greater health and strength to Haitian churches (Titus 1:5). Please also pray for both Lance and me to be faithful in the remaining details of our sermon and teaching preparations, and that we would be bold in proclaiming God’s word (Eph. 6:19, 20). Praise God for the provision of approximately $2,100 from your generous donations and the yard sale fundraiser, and please pray for the provision of the remaining $400 needed to meet our $2,500 goal. I appreciate your prayers for safety in all travel details and logistics, and especially for God’s spiritual and physical provision for my family while I am away.

Thankful for your prayers, support, and partnership in the ministry of the gospel,



Patience and Kindness in Love

It is humbling to consider the following contrast.  On the one hand there is me, a confirmed sinner, who can so quickly be impatient and unkind toward those who offend me. On the other hand, there is God, the eternal, holy, sovereign ruler, who is “… merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” (Ps. 86:15)  God is extravagantly rich in patience and kindness to sinners like me.  Amazing!  Truly, what hope would any of us have if God Almighty responded to us the way we so often respond to those who hurt and injure us?


God’s infinite patience and kindness has been poured out upon us through Jesus Christ (Titus 3:4-7).  As we grow in the knowledge of His love for us, by faith, so we must be all the more faithful in being instruments of His love to others – especially our brothers and sisters in the local church (1 Cor. 13:4).  In God’s perfect providence, it is the very sins and weaknesses of our brothers and sisters that become the occasion of genuinely displaying the supernatural love of Christ.  Thus we must learn to look beyond the offense of our brother or sister, to the need of their soul.  We must seek to bless them with the patience and kindness of Christ.  None of us can do this on our own, but God gives us the power through His Holy Spirit.


Beloved, in this way God’s excellencies in Christ are all the more displayed through us (Eph. 3:8-10) , and the unity of His Spirit is all the more preserved among us (Eph. 4:1-3).  The process is often hard, difficult, and painful.  But oh, what wonderful fruit God bears for His glory, and the joy of His people (Jn. 15:8-11)!


I’m so grateful for each of you, and the privilege of growing in these matters together as a part of RCG!


Singularly Fearing Christ

Every child of God knows what it is to be tempted and troubled by the fear of man.  Threats real and imagined abound, and the fear of man can wreak great havoc in our souls if it is allowed to penetrate.


How kind and good of God to speak to these very fears, and to make so clear how they are to be resisted.  The answer is as profound as it is simple: “fear God, not man”.  Quoting from Is. 8:12-13, this is Peter’s main point in 1 Pet. 3:14-15, “…have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy…”.


G. Campbell Morgan (1863-1945), British pastor, and predecessor of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones at Westminster Chapel in London, provides these helpful insights:


“The simple meaning of the injunction is that at the very centre of life there is to be but one Lord, and that is Christ. To do this is to ensure the unification of being, consistency of conduct, and accomplishment of purpose. We are divided in our own life, inconsistent in our conduct, and ineffective in our service, when our loyalty is divided. This is so self-evident a truth that it hardly seems necessary to argue it. Nevertheless, while holding the truth theoretically, how constantly we are in danger of failing to live by it!  Other lords are permitted to invade the sanctuary of the heart, and to exercise dominion over us. Our own selfish desires, the opinion of others, worldly wisdom, the pressure of circumstances, these and many other lords command us, and we turn from our simple and complete allegiance to our one Lord, and give ourselves up to the false mastery of these things.  The results are always disastrous. We become storm-tossed and feverish; our conduct is not consistent; our work is spasmodic and devoid of power. Therefore the urgency of the injunction. To hallow the heart by excluding all other lords save Christ Himself, is to be strong, true, and effective. His knowledge is perfect, of the heart, of the circumstances, of the true way of life.  To be governed by many lords is to be in bondage to them all, and to be desolated by their conflicting ways. To be in bondage to Christ, is to be released from all other captivity.” (from Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible)


What comfort and courage is found in singularly fearing Christ!


Because He lives,


May We Each Be Found Faithful

It was a privilege to attend the Memorial Service for Steve Fernandez this past Saturday.  Tim and Willie Ingrum joined Laurie and me, along with over 1000 other folks.  Though the service of course concerned Steve, the distinct focus was on the Lord Jesus, and His gracious work in and through Steve’s life.  Video of the entire service is online here.  It was lengthy (2 ¾ hours!), but very edifying and encouraging.


Among many biblical truths that have been on my mind regarding Steve, one of the prominent ones is 1 Cor. 3:5-9:


5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.



It is right to honor and appreciate the people whom God uses (1 Thess. 5:12-13), but it is equally right to worship and adore the God who uses people (Rom. 11:33-36)!  As every single believer is a unique steward of God’s varied grace 1 Pet. 4:10-11, He calls us to faithfully labor and serve together for His glory in Jesus Christ.


By God’s grace, Steve was a marvelous example, albeit imperfectly, of Christ-exalting faithfulness.  May we each be found so faithful, until the day that Christ returns, or we go to be with Him.


Because He lives,


To Live is Christ, and to Die is Gain

As most of you know, our brother Pastor Steve Fernandez entered glory in the presence of Jesus this last Sunday evening, March 31.  What a way to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior!


By God’s power, Steve faithfully lived, and often quoted (even in his final days), these words from the Apostle Paul in Phil. 1:21 – “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  To strengthen your understanding and embracing of this powerful resolve, let me encourage you to read, think upon, and pray through the following:



Brothers and sisters, each of our lives on this earth will one day end, either by death, or our Lord’s return.  May the Lord enable each of us to truly live with this same Christ-exalting resolve!


Because He lives,


Enduring Injustice for the Sake of the Gospel

The issue of how we Christians respond to unjust authority is of vital importance regarding our testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  As we’ve recently seen in Peter’s exhortations to slaves in 1 Pet. 2:18-20, believers must be more committed to our responsibilities before God, than our rights before men.  Entrusting ourselves to God’s faithful care and eternal justice, we must endure unjust suffering for the sake of the Gospel.  We must likewise resist the temptation to pour our energies into fighting to change unjust social structures, lest we inadvertently destroy our Gospel-witness in the process.


Citing NT scholar William Mitchell Ramsay, Pastor Steve made these observations in his helpful paper on the topic of slavery in 1st century Rome (please email if you’d like a copy of his paper):


“Had the NT endeavored to overturn the socioeconomic structure of Rome, the Gospel of salvation would have been so obscured in the melee, one could wonder, in human terms, whether the Christian faith would have survived at all. Spreading true liberation from the tyrant of sin was and is the great aim of the NT and, regardless of the historian’s assessment, no Christian can deny this purpose was not worth abandoning to revolutionize Roman society” (p. 28.)


Beloved, God calls us to a living hope that eagerly awaits our heavenly inheritance in Christ (1 Pet. 1:3-5).  We must avoid the danger of fixing our hope on the things of this world!  In God’s design, it is the increasing evidence of this heavenly hope that becomes our greatest evangelistic tool, as Peter clearly implies in 1 Pet. 3:15.  This is the true grace of God friends, stand firm in it! (1 Pet. 5:12)


Rejoicing in Christ,


Submitting to Governmental Authorities

Beloved, God clearly wills for His people to submit to and show respect for governmental authorities (1 Pet. 2:13-17; cf. Rom. 13:1-7; Titus 3:1-2).  Certainly, the words of our lips are a big indicator of just how submissive and respectful we actually are.  In a country and culture that makes a national pastime (and a lot of money!) of bashing, reviling, vilifying, and mocking our political leaders, Christians need to resist the temptation to go and do likewise.  This does not mean that we ignore the serious issues of our day, nor that we fail to “speak the truth in love” in clear, courageous, winsome ways (Eph. 4:15; Col. 4:5-6; 1 Pet. 3:15-16).  But in all our speech and conduct, everywhere and all the time, we must ever seek to magnify Jesus Christ and the hope of the Gospel.  In the power of the Holy Spirit, we must imitate our Lord and Savior:


He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.  (1 Pet. 2:22-23, ESV)


May God help us to live humble lives of willing, joyful submission, that the greatness of His excellencies would all the more powerfully be proclaimed from our lips (1 Pet. 2:9.)


Growing with you,


Continue in Prayer…

As news regarding the tragedy in Newtown, CT continues to saturate the media, I want to encourage you to continue in prayer for the Lord’s provision and purposes in the lives of all who have been impacted.  In particular, keep praying for the pastors and members of Newtown Bible Church.  God has given them a unique and difficult context in which to minister the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the families, community, and first-responders of Newtown.


Likewise, be alert and responsive to opportunities the Lord brings your way to share the hope of the Gospel with those you interact with.  Many questions and burdens are on people’s minds concerning what happened last Friday – may God give us all grace, wisdom and boldness to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15; Col. 4:5,6; 1 Pet. 3:15).


Because He lives,


Sing to Him a New Song

The Lord calls His people to sing to Him a new song (Ps. 33:3; 149:1). The sense of “new” relates to new, fresh impulses of gratitude and praise in our hearts as we consider the greatness of God and His works.  One implication is that even when we sing old songs, there should be a newness in the way our hearts are resonating with the truths we’re singing.


I think of this often this time of year, when we’re given to sing so many rich and familiar Christmas hymns.  And I pray that for all of us, the glorious truth of what the Father accomplished when “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14) will be all the more fresh, amazing, and song-provoking in our lives.  What great, living hope He has called us to in Christ (1 Pet. 1:3, 133:15); and what cause we have for always singing new songs – even when facing grief and sorrow.  And what cause we have to proclaim His life-giving excellencies to those still in darkness (1 Pet. 2:9-10)!


Speaking of rich and familiar Christmas hymns, I recently came across some fresh arrangements of many of these classics by a group called Folk Angel – you might check them out.  Beyond wishing that these guys would smile (like they’re actually joyful…), I’ve been blessed and encouraged by their music!  A few personal favorites:   O Little Town of Bethlehem;  Joy to the World; Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus ; O Holy Night; and a “new, new” song called God With Us.


Rejoicing and singing on with you,


Let the Redeemed Give Thanks to God!

It is right and fitting that God’s people give thanks to Him for His steadfast love and saving work!  Scripture exhorts us to this over and over again (Ps. 33:1-3; Col. 3:16-17; 1 Thess. 5:16-18; etc.).  Gratitude certainly for temporal blessings, but all the more for God’s powerful mercy in redeeming us from the bondage and penalty of our sin!


To spur on your thanksgiving this Thanksgiving, let me encourage you over the next few days to read and meditate on (perhaps with your family and/or friends) Psalms 104, 105, 106, and 107.  These four Psalms provide a sober and joyful historical tapestry of God’s dealings with people through much of the Old Covenant time.


  • Psalm 104 – History of Creation and the Flood
  • Psalm 105 – History of the Patriarchs to the Conquest of the Promised Land (Abraham through Moses)
  • Psalm 106 – History of Israel in their Land until the Babylonian Captivity
  • Psalm 107 – History of the Return to the Land from Exile


In all this we see the glorious truth ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ:  God is able to save to the uttermost those who humbly call on Him in faith, and to likewise bring complete destruction on all who arrogantly rebel.  Great comfort for the redeemed; great terror for the wicked!


If you’re in town this weekend, I look forward to gathering with you on the Lord’s Day.  Just so happens I’m planning to preach from Psalm 107 – “Let the Redeemed Give Thanks to God”!


Thanking Him with you,



P.S.  Chris Tomlin’s song Forever gives expression to these truths (just ignore the image of “airbrush Jesus” midway through the video!).

Post-Conference Reflections

It was a great joy to share in all the Lord had for us this past weekend at The People of God Conference, with Jonathan Leeman.  Many of you were able to attend, and many of you also served as volunteers in a variety of capacities.  I also know many of you were praying for God to bless the ministry of His Word at the conference, and bear much fruit for His glory (Jn. 15:7,8).  My heart is filled with thankfulness to God for each of you, and for His provision in all that occurred over the weekend.


Even if you weren’t able to attend, all of the audio from the conference is now available online at our church website.  Likewise, Jonathan’s Sunday morning sermon from Ps. 68, “God’s Good Authority and the Church”, is available here.  These are great resources to benefit from – be sure and tell a friend or two!


It is a great blessing to share life in Christ with you in this local church called River City Grace.  May God help us all, individually and corporately, to continually grow in His priorities and purposes for us as His people.


Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”  (Ephesians 4:15-16, ESV)


For His glory, and your joy in Him,


On Presidents and being the People of God…

Like many, my initial reaction to the news of President Obama’s re-election was a deflated “ugh”.  For many different reasons, the results of yesterday’s voting was very disappointing.  Naturally, all of us now wonder what the next four years will look like, and what this means for the present and future of America.  (Dr. Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, shares some post-election thoughts here.)


The main question for us is clear:  As Christians – the “people of God” (1 Pet. 2:9,10) – how are we to think and live in an increasingly God-despising, Christ-denying, sin-loving culture?  The answer is equally clear from all of God’s Word:  we’re to live by faith in God and His salvation in Jesus Christ, obeying Him through the power of His Spirit whatever our circumstances, faithfully proclaiming the Gospel to those around us, with our hope fixed on the eternal glories He has called us to in Christ.  These truths are prominent in the letter of First Peter, and throughout the New Testament.  In short, God’s people must live as “sojourners and exiles” in this world (1 Pet. 2:11).


God sovereignly reigns (Ps. 103:19), and He has ordained the outcome of this election.  We can be sure that He is not surprised or troubled, but that He is powerfully working everything after the counsel of His eternal will (Eph. 1:11).  And as the transcendent, holy King of Kings, He will bring eternal judgment on all His enemies, and eternal salvation to those who trust His mercy in Jesus Christ.


Beloved, we are the people of God.  Our identity and calling is bound up in our citizenship in His kingdom, not the kingdoms of this world.  May we be resolved afresh to live and love together as His people, humbly testifying of the reason for the living hope we possess (1 Pet. 3:15).  We may indeed suffer now, and more in the future, but our eternal inheritance in Him is secure (1 Pet. 1:3-9).


Rejoice, the Lord is King!


On Superstorms, Trembling, and the Fear of God…

By now, you’re undoubtedly aware of Superstorm Sandy, which slammed into the Northeast at the beginning of this week.  Just a few of the numbers regarding the impact of this storm are hard to fathom.


The power of God displayed through His creation is astonishing.  Whether with earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, tornados, hurricanes, etc., this much is clear:  God can bring sudden, shocking, comprehensive destruction whenever and wherever He chooses!  There is no escape from His authority, and there is no successful questioning of His counsel.

“He loads the thick cloud with moisture; the clouds scatter his lightning. They turn around and around by his guidance, to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the habitable world. Whether for correction or for his land or for love, he causes it to happen.”  (Job 37:11-13)


Have you recently considered Job, a righteous man who suffered much in God’s good design (see Job 1-2)?  In all Job experienced, he never cursed God.  But he did question Him…a very foolish thing to do!  Yet in mercy and grace, God brought healing rebuke to Job, first through Ellihu (Job 33-37).  Then God Himself spoke to Job, interestingly from “…out of the whirlwind” (Job 38-41).  Fortunately Job listened, repented, and tasted God’s favor afresh (Job 42).  Job came to understand the truth of Elihu’s words:

“Therefore men fear him; he does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit.”  (Job 37:24)


Beloved, don’t be wise in your own conceit!  Ours is not to proudly question God’s works and His ways with the storms He causes.  Rather, we are to tremble before Him, in the joyful, secure hope of His saving mercy in Jesus Christ.  Pondering God’s dealings with Job, songwriter Wes King asks the right question:  Do You Tremble?


Learning to tremble with you,


Longing for Spiritual Milk

As we considered this past Lord’s Day from 1 Pet. 2:1-3, Christians should possess a consuming, passionate hunger for God and His Word – like that of a newborn for his/her mother’s milk.  Peter uses this rich word-picture to illustrate the intensity of this hunger.  While the imagery of hungry babies is not directly referring to the spiritual immaturity of believers, there is a clear contrast between the proportionate greatness of the mother, and the smallness of the baby.  And the baby is desperately dependant on what only the mother can supply.  Baptist pastor F.B. Meyer (1848-1929) has given these helpful insights:


“The metaphor is a very touching one. This world is but the nursery in which the heirs of God are spending the first lisping years of their existence, preparatory to the opening of life to full maturity yonder in the light of God. The most advanced among us, in knowledge and attainment, are, in comparison with what they shall be, only as babes. The furthest stretch of vision, the most perfect conceptions of the intellect, the fittest expressions of truth, are but as the untutored thoughts and babblings of babyhood, compared with what is to be in the mature life which beckons us yonder.”  (Tried by Fire: Expositions of the 1st Epistle of Peter, Nabu Public Domain Reprints, p. 71)


Brothers and sisters, it is good for us to recognize God’s infinite greatness, and our great smallness before Him!  And the more we do, the more we’ll humbly “…long for the pure spiritual milk.”


Learning to shrink and grow with you,


Stewards of His Varied Grace

Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power.  To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ…(Eph. 3:7-8, ESV)


These words from the Apostle Paul have been uppermost in my heart and mind over the last few weeks.  I’ve thought about them much with regard to the privilege of preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ in far-away lands, and also preaching Christ among us regularly at RCG.  Paul fully understood his ministry as a stewardship of God’s grace in Christ (Eph. 3:1-2).  And of course as an Apostle, this stewardship had the unique dimension of new revelation that God was giving through Paul (Eph. 3:3-13), which is now recorded for us in his New Testament letters (in connection with all of Scripture).


What’s clear from other NT truths is that this stewardship of God’s grace applies not only to those of us whom God has called and gifted for public preaching ministry, but to every believer.  Collectively, we are stewards of God’s manifold grace in Christ.  This means that collectively we are to faithfully proclaim and live in the unsearchable riches of Christ.  What a privilege!  Peter states this explicitly in 1 Pet. 4:10-11:

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:  whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.


Beloved brothers and sisters, this is our identity and calling as God’s people:  we are recipients and stewards of His varied grace in the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ.  And His intention in all the daily details of our lives – the particular joys, burdens, opportunities, griefs, and refreshments – is that we would grow by faith in the knowledge, display, and proclamation of His glorious grace…together.


So what a great privilege God has given to all of us!  May we humbly, thankfully, and collectively be faithful stewards of His grace in Christ, for the glory of His great name!


With gratitude and affection in Christ,


A Word from Abroad

How richly God has blessed us with the knowledge of His grace in Christ through His Word!  It is through the proclamation of His imperishable Word that He brings new birth to His people (1 Pet. 1:22-25),  and it is by His Word that He sustains and grows His people to fruitful maturity in Christ (1 Pet. 2:1-3).  Because of the life-giving, life-sustaining power of God through His Word, believers are to have a consuming hunger for His Word – like the craving hunger of a newborn baby for the mother’s milk ( 1 Pet. 2:2).


Beloved, I greatly miss being with you this month during my trips to Europe and to Haiti.  And I know Steve will miss you while He is in Zimbabwe.  But even as we go – through your prayers and support – to proclaim God’s imperishable Word to people in other lands, I rejoice in knowing that He continues to provide for your spiritual nourishment in His Word during our absence.


So I continue to thank God for you, and pray for your ongoing growth in the hope, power, and riches of the Gospel (Eph. 1:15-22).  And I also continue to “...commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”  (Acts 20:32)


Please continue to pray for myself and Steve in these extended  opportunities for the ministry of His Word – that it may indeed “...speed ahead and be honored…” (2 Thess. 3:1), among those to whom we are privileged to preach.


I look forward to being with you again on Oct. 7 in worship at River City Grace, Lord willing!


Grace upon grace,


Throne of Grace

Healthy, growing Christians are those who are increasingly aware of the presence and depth of their own sin.  But with this awareness, the Lord designs that we should trust and rejoice all the more in His provision for our sin through the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ.  What great, living hope believers have in the One who “…suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God…” (1 Pet. 3:18, ESV).


This great hope is expressed in the following words.  (This is a portion of a prayer called  The Broken Heart, found in the wonderful volume of Puritan prayers entitled The Valley of Vision.  The theme of this prayer has been put to music with the song To the Cross I Cling.)


Blessed Jesus, let me find a covert

     in thy appeasing wounds.

Though my sins rise to heaven,

     thy merits soar above them;

Though unrighteousness weighs me down to hell,

     thy righteousness exalts me to thy throne.

All things in me call for my rejection,

All things in thee plead my acceptance.

I appeal from the throne of perfect justice

     to thy throne of boundless grace.


Learning to live at the throne of grace with you,


Growing in Joy and Fear of God

At first glance, the Apostle Peter’s vision of the Christian life as involving both “joy inexpressible” (1 Pet. 1:8), and the need to “conduct yourselves with fear” (1 Pet. 1:17) seems to be utterly contradictory.  How are we to understand these seemingly incompatible dispositions of both joy and fear?


With good insight that regards the overall context and thrust of Peter’s first letter, Alexander MacLaren helps answer this question (from his sermon on 1 Pet. 1:17 entitled Father and Judge):


“Such carefulness over conduct and heart is fully compatible with all the blessed emotions to which it seems at first antagonistic. There is no discord between the phrase that I have quoted about’ joy unspeakable and full of glory, ‘ and this temper, but rather the two help one another. And such blended confidence and fear are the parents of courage. The man that is afraid that he will do wrong and so hurt himself and grieve his Saviour, is the man that will never be afraid of anything else. Martyrs have gone to the stake ‘fearing not them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do,’ (Mt. 10:28) because they were so afraid to sin against God that they were not afraid to die rather than to do it. And that is the temper that you and I should have.”


Continually growing in joy and fear with you,


Psalm 121 (ESV)

1  I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
2  My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6  The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 103:1-5

1  Bless the Lord, O my soul,

    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
2  Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.