Friday, January 27, 2017

No Plea Bargain

Yesterday I fulfilled my civic responsibility by answering the bell for jury duty in the 16th district court. After gathering with perhaps 60 other potential jurors and waiting around for a couple of hours my name was called to ascend to the courtroom for questioning and potential selection to a jury. As the group of 25 or so potential jurors walked into the courtroom, we could see the defendant talking with his attorneys. Eventually we could hear him say “I’ll take it” and I had a sense we might be going home early. What had happened is that as the possibility of a trial got to be real. He decided he wasn’t going to take his chances and opted for the plea bargain. Sure enough a couple minutes later the judge came out, thanked us for coming and being part of the judicial process, then dismissed us.

My experience in the courtroom made me reflective of the heavenly courtroom and our worship service this past Sunday. When it comes to the great heavenly tribunal there is no option of a plea bargain. We cannot agree to a lesser charge, for a lesser sentence. In the words of Habakkuk, the eyes of the Lord are too pure to look upon evil (1:13). Our only hope of surviving the Lord’s judgment is to be declared righteous. And our only hope of that is through the work of Jesus Christ our mediator/substitute. Which brings us full circle to last Sunday’s declaration of forgiveness from 1 Peter 2:24, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” In Christ no plea bargain is needed. We are declared righteous!

Friday, January 13, 2017


While it is true that we are all different in many ways, we can safely say that we all share a commonality in facing temptation - daily. Often we think of temptation in terms of obvious vices, drink, sexual sin, spending, gossip, etc… And to be sure these temptations are a battle! But each of these temptations proceeds from a deeper root, a root which Satan, the tempter, is always seeking to sever. Ann Voskamp has wisely said that “all fear is but the notion that God’s love ends” (One Thousand Gifts, 161). I think that we do no harm to the truth expressed here by stating that all temptation is but the notion that God’s love ends. From the beginning, whether Adam and Eve, Noah, Jonah, David, Jesus or us, Satan has sought to tempt us by creating fear and causing us to question God’s love for his children. Thankfully we have a Savior who has both showed us the way forward in the face of temptation as well as stood in our place withstanding the temptation that we so easily succumb to.

Friday, January 6, 2017

A Comprehensive Whole

How is the first week of 2017? How many times have you started to write a 6 before catching yourself to write the 7? I am excited for 2017 and our life together at Christ Church. As I reflected last week, there is so much to be thankful for, even as we wait on the Lord to guide and sustain us.

Looking toward 2017, one of the things that has caused much excitement in our collective life is the prospect of church planting. We are right to be excited about planting. Church planting is not a growth strategy, nor is a method for dealing with overcrowding. Rather, church planting is one of the best ways to reach new Christians and people who are outside of a regular participation in the means of grace. Church planting creates fresh Gospel opportunities, unearths new leadership, and a whole host of other benefits.

But while we are right to be excited about church planting, or foreign missions for that matter, we must realize that they are part of a comprehensive whole that we call church. Our church life envelops everything from planting, to missions, VBS, clothing the needy, standing for justice, systematically sharing our faith, and other outreach endeavors. But it also encompasses coming in the foyer, greeting our friends, sharing joys and heartaches, studying the scriptures, praying. In short our life together is a comprehensive whole, a whole that needs comprehensive nurturing.

Getting a bird’s eye view of this comprehensive whole is the goal of our January series. Along the way we will address questions like: What is the goal of our life together? What kind of people do we need to be to sustain ministry that truly glorifies God? What kind of structures will best support this all-encompassing ministry?

This week we will begin by hearing from Rev. Mika Edmondson, lead pastor at New City Fellowship OPC here in GR. Mika will be both preaching (from Ezra 2) and sharing with us during our Adult Institute time. As a church planting pastor, Mika will be sharing his vision for what God is doing in our greater GR community while pointing us to the Glory of the Lord, a glory which our God has promised us is on the move!

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. (Habakkuk 2:14)