Month: April 2020

Pastor's Blog

“She Waits”

My family and I recently watched “The Riot and the Dance: Water.” If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s streaming (for free) on VidAngel, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Our kids loved it, and Aimee and I found it quite moving. Here’s the trailer:


At around the 1:22 point in the trailer, you can hear a song start to play, a song that also features in the movie itself. That song is “She Waits” by the Gray Havens, and its lyrics are a poetic reflection on Romans 8:19-21: “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”

Here is the song in its entirety, followed by some of its lyrics:

Dressed in chains, now she waits
Looking back upon that day
When the dawn first held its gaze
Upon the son and the daughter’s face

But strange now it seems
Like some dark and distant dream
Still, she hopes and longs to be
Once again, and finally free

So she waits, she waits
She waits

So she waits, she waits
She waits

She’s seen empires come and go
Watched the kingdom’s children grow
Sparks and embers far from home
Born to shine, and to behold

‘Cause on her chain is a lock and the key
Is the radiance she will see
From the light that’s gonna be
Cast from the sons and the daughters free

She’s a captive ’til she sees
By the morning light
Redeemed sons and daughters

“She Waits” by Benji Cowart & Dave Radford

This song has gripped me in recent days. Not only is it beautiful and moving, but the way it portrays creation waiting is particularly meaningful in this season.

Most of us are waiting. We are waiting for the lockdown to be over. We are waiting for a cure for COVID-19 to be discovered. We are waiting for “normal” to come back to us again.

But in reality, this present pause is just one tiny part of a much bigger wait, a period of waiting which began in the Garden and continues to this day. It’s the waiting of creation. The waiting for all of God’s promises to come to fulfillment. The waiting for Jesus to return and His people to be resurrected and revealed in glory.

Creation does not wait for this alone. “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:23-25).

This waiting really puts our present waiting into perspective. COVID-19 will pass. That wait will be over in a relatively short time. But our real wait will continue: our eager “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

Are you waiting for this? Is your life built around this wait, shaped by it? This waiting is not like many other waits we’ve experienced here on earth. It’s not like waiting in line or waiting on hold. It’s an active waiting, a waiting that propels us to good works (Matthew 24:36-25:30, Titus 2:11-13, 1 Peter 1:13-21).

Today, creation waits. Our present circumstances present us with a beautiful opportunity to intentionally join in that waiting, fixing our eyes on what’s ahead and saying, in some of the last words in the Bible, “Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

Pastor's Blog

Christians and Conspiracies

By now, chances are you’ve heard some conspiracy theories connected to COVID-19. Some people have proposed that the virus was intentionally developed but let loose on the world accidentally. Others say it was intentional. Some have questioned whether COVID-19 is even real. Some say the sickness is a result of 5G radiation. Some day that the testing is inaccurate, far less people have the actual virus than we think, and the death tolls are inflated. Others say that far more people have the virus than we think, and the death tolls are underreported.

The sheer number of theories, and the way they contradict one another, should make us hesitant to hitch our wagon too quickly to any of these counter-narratives.

But there’s more going on here. As Christians, how should we be thinking of and approaching conspiracy theories in general?

I’ll admit that, in the past, I was a sucker for a good conspiracy theory. It didn’t take much to convince me that the government and the mainstream media were hiding the truth from us, and that we were all victims of subterfuge on a global scale.

My attitude changed when I began to study the Bible more intentionally and was confronted with its teaching about Satan. Consider passages like 1 John 5:19: “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”

Or Ephesians 2:1-3: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

The world system is being run by Satan. If someone doesn’t know Jesus, then they are marching to Satan’s drum, whether they know it or not. And this understanding makes conspiracy theories completely irrelevant.

Here’s why: people are following Satan and doing what he wants whether he’s using secret societies or not. Whether someone is a globalist or an anti-globalist, a part of the mainstream or the independent media, a deep state elite or a grassroots freedom fighter, a communist or a capitalist— if they have not been rescued by Jesus, they are lying in the power of the evil one and following his will.

For us as Christians, this means that we can’t get caught up with the conspiracy theories which enthral others. The theories may be true, or they might not be, but at the end of the day, “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:12), and we have the work of the Kingdom of Jesus to be busy with.

Furthermore, whether these conspiracy theories are true or not should have absolutely no impact on our obedience to Titus 3:1-2: “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.”

That passage does not say, “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, unless some guy on YouTube convinces them that the government is covering something up. Be obedient, until it threatens your comfort level. Speak evil of no one, and show perfect courtesy to everyone, except for that group which the conspiracy theorists are blaming all of the world’s problems on. Avoid quarrelling, unless you’re sharing inflammatory material online. Be gentle, unless you’re posting on Facebook.”

If COVID-19 is one big global conspiracy, it would not make a shred of difference for how God’s people should be acting and communicating in this time. As citizens of the Kingdom of Jesus, our marching orders are clear. This pandemic situation is not a time to get caught up in conspiracy theories, but a season to invest ourselves in the cause of Christ, using our interactions with others to reflect Him well and bear witness to the Truth which sets us free (John 8:31).

Pastor's Blog

Don’t Waste Your Quarantine

Updated May 3.

For many of us, this season of COVID-19 means lots more time at home than we’re used to. Families with small children may be on the prowl for worthy activities to fill their days. Hopefully you’ll find some help below.

Others of you, once the projects have all been caught up, may find yourselves with time on your hands: time you can waste, or invest wisely. I encourage you to use this time for the kingdom of God, and one way you can do that is by developing, learning and growing yourself.

Whatever your situation looks like right now, I offer you this collection of resources. Here you’ll find websites, books, podcasts, videos, and so on. Consider this informational; I don’t necessarily endorse the full contents of everything you’ll find here. However, I have placed things on this list which I have a certain level of trust for and which I expect to be helpful to you.

Also, this is just a start. I hope to keep this list updated.


Books and Online Resources

  • The Final Days of Jesus Video Series
    • “In this video series, well-known New Testament scholars explore the background and significance of the history-shaping events that occurred during Jesus’s last week on earth.”
    • Videos are about 5 minutes each.
  • Free Subscription to ESV.org
    • You’ve heard me talk about the ESV Study Bible a bunch. It’s now available online for free, along with a bunch of other fantastic Bible study resources.
    • Crossway is also giving away other resources for free at this page.
  • Creation and Marine Biology
    • This is a four-part lecture series from Dr. Gordon Wilson of “The Riot and the Dance” (see below).
    • The password to access is RIOTFAMILY


For Families and Children

  • “The Biggest Story” Short Film
    • Based on the excellent book by Kevin DeYoung, this 26-minute animated film walks through the big story of the Bible in a way that will captivate and benefit the whole family.
  • Big Picture Bible Crafts
    • Crossway is offering this as a free PDF. It is full of fantastic crafts and activities for children.
  • New City Catechism
    • A time-tested way to pass on the faith using a question-and-answer format.
    • Available as a free app, it comes with songs for children and devotionals and prayers for the whole family.


Podcasts

General:

For kids:

For women: