I have created a little study guide for the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. It delves into the "meaning of life" and co stars great theologians like St. Augustine and Kurt Cobain.
If you are one who wants to understand what your purpose is, download it now.
(Note: Files are Microsoft Word docs)
Who cares about the gospel? That’s what I often wonder, especially when it comes to those in Ashland who are supposed to be ministers of that gospel.
It frequently seems that "Israel's watchmen are blind, they all lack knowledge; they are all mute dogs, they cannot bark; they lie around and dream, they love to sleep...They are shepherds who have no understanding." Isaiah 56:10
A service was held on the campus of Ashland University regarding the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Unfortunately, the meeting was a powwow of Catholics and Lutherans that shows us that a new reformation is needed.
If it would have been reported that the priests and pastors knelt together and repented of works based religion, lamented how they have cheated out God’s grace in salvation, wept over their having followed the doctrines of men, rather than the pure word of God, the service may have been something worth while.
If the Catholics would have been noted to have said, “Luther was right, we are justified by faith alone, and not by virtue of our baptism, acts of penance, sacraments, or other good works," that might have been reason to be hopeful.
If they would have announced that they are now looking to Scripture alone as the final authority for all life and faith and renounced the foolish edicts of popes and men, we may have had cause to rejoice.
If the priests would have declared that trust is to be in no other but Christ as the sole mediator between God and man, and all who cling to sacraments, prayers, priests, or anything else to bring them savingly to the Father have forsaken the true gospel put forth in Scripture...if that were said, there might have been common ground upon which to enter into worship.
But, so far as I can tell, nothing like that was said. Instead, there were dopey platitudes and silly side issues that had nothing to do with the true life giving gospel. It was more of a "lets hold hands and sing Kumbaya" moment, proving that no one cares about the fundamental concerns of the Reformation.
May God give us men who are willing to speak the truth.
The Las Vegas shooting is quickly fading from the media's headlines, and becoming "yesterday's news."
But before moving on, let's pause and think about what lessons we can learn from the tragic event.
1. Man is depraved beyond measure: President Trump called the shooting "an act of pure evil." This is perhaps more true than our president realizes. What would cause a man who had nothing more than a speeding ticket in his life to become a mass murderer? It is simple: He was a sinner. His heart was filled with the corruption of Adam.
While our president condemned the shooting with theologically precise language, we must remind ourselves that any heart not subdued by grace is filled with the same vileness.
2. God restrains evil to a significant degree: While man’s depravity is fundamental to his nature, we acknowledge that men are not as bad as they can be. The hearts of men are kept in check. Moreover, humanity does do some outward good (as is evidenced in those who went into the line of fire to help those who had been shot). This, we understand, is due to the benevolent work of God in the world.
3. Life is Tenuous: Those at that concert didn't know they were going to die that night. It came upon them like a bandit out of no where. In like manner, death looms over us all and may come quicker than we expect.
We ever need the reminder that our days on earth are numbered and death may pounce upon us at any moment. Thus, we should look heartily unto Christ and serve him like it is our last day on earth.
4. Life is precious: Monday morning hearts hung heavy with grief. Anger, sorrow, and disgust were in the emotional mix as well. But these emotions seethed only because man has inherent worth as an image bearer of God. The repulsion that many feel is a reminder that life is sacred and it should not be violated without just cause.
5. Evil is a Thing: Tragedies do not comport with our culture’s relativism. Postmodern America would like to say that there is no absolute truth and that right and wrong are phantoms of a bygone era. But when grotesque evils like this rear their ugly heads even the most radical relativist tips his hat to the fact that there is a God in the heavens who has set sure and defined boundaries for morality.
Give us grace to overcome
the sins we hold so dear,
Let us hate and sorrow them,
And live in gospel fear.
Mortify these wretched thoughts,
and purify our speech;
Rectify our putrid hearts;
Thy grace we do beseech.
Turn our feet from evil paths
and break our lust for sin;
Cleanse us in Thy righteousness
and change us from within.
Missions is near and dear to my heart as I have been a church planter and evangelist for the whole of my ministerial career. I came across these two resources this past week, each having a particularly pointed application to the work of spiritual renewal within a community.
Today after church I was asked by a young girl who has been visiting if zombies exist. She has obviously been watching too much tv. However, the question arose in the context of a discussion we were having on Christ's second coming. So I answered in this way,
The Bible says that there will be a resurrection at the end of time. When Christ comes again those who have believed and followed Christ will will be raised up in glory, with renewed bodies. They will enter into an estate of eternal bliss where they will enjoy life, wholeness, and happiness.
Those who have done evil, however, will be raised unto condemnation. They will be as close to a zombie as is humanly possible as they will not be glorified or made whole. They will be resurrected, but they will enter into an eternal state of death and dying. Their flesh will not be renewed like the saints. Rather the damned will be in a constant state of decay and the miseries of their sins will follow them for the duration of time.
Kindled Fire is dedicated
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.