The Coming of the King

April 10, 2022 in Bible - OT - Zechariah, King Jesus, Meditations, Uncategorized

Zechariah 9:9-10 (NKJV)

9“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey. 10I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; The battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.’

Have you ever been taught that while Jesus came as Savior in His first advent, He is waiting until His second to arrive as King? He is waiting, so it is said, to establish His kingdom on earth. If you have heard or even, like me, embraced that kind of thinking in the past or perhaps still do, then you may have a hard time understanding Palm Sunday. For Palm Sunday celebrates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as our King come to establish His kingdom. As Jesus entered the city, our fathers and mothers laid branches of palm upon the ground and sang psalms in order to fulfill Zechariah’s summons, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you.”

But if Jesus entered Jerusalem as King, why, some ask, didn’t He appear very kingly? Why is He lowly and riding on a donkey? Yet such questions reveal that we often allow the world rather than Jesus to define true kingship. For Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem to establish justice, to save His people, and to advance both the glory of God and the good of His people is the preeminent illustration of what it means to be a good king. What is it to be a good king? It is to be just and to bring salvation to your people; it is to be humble and lowly; it is to be a servant, to bring blessing and light to your people. And it was precisely this type of King that our Lord Jesus was and is. 

To our fallen nature this type of kingship can seem utterly ineffective. Among pagan nations, might makes right. Rex lex. The king is law. No king who comes to serve rather than to be served will be great; no king who places the good of his people ahead of his own personal interests will really be successful. Pagan nations extol those like Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar who push and prod and pursue their own glory. It is kings like that who accomplish great things.

But the prophet Zechariah extols the glory of our King’s rule. Our just and humble King will so rule as to destroy warfare from Israel and bring peace to all the nations of the earth, “I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; The battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations.” On the one hand, He eliminates warfare; on the other, He brings peace. And because He is a King of Peace, God promises to extend His kingdom throughout the earth, “His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.’”

So what of you leaders out there – what type of kingship have you been exercising? Whether you are a husband, a father, a mother, an employer, a foreman, a manager – what type of rule have you practiced? Have you demanded, cajoled, manipulated, and wormed your way to the top? Or have you been just, looking to bless those whom God has entrusted to your care? Are you humble, considering others’ interests more important than your own? Are you living as peacemakers showing all humility in the fear of God?

Reminded that we have been unrighteous kings and queens, demanding our own way rather than imitating our great King and willingly serving others, let us confess our sin to our Lord. And, as you are able, let us kneel together as we do so. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

Wisdom in the House of Mourning

January 30, 2022 in Bible - OT - Ecclesiastes, Meditations, Uncategorized, Wisdom

Ecclesiastes 7:1–4 (NKJV)

1 A good name is better than precious ointment, And the day of death than the day of one’s birth; 2 Better to go to the house of mourning Than to go to the house of feasting, For that is the end of all men; And the living will take it to heart. 3 Sorrow is better than laughter, For by a sad countenance the heart is made better. 4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, But the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

The last couple weeks have brought me face to face with death and given me several opportunities to go to the house of mourning. Yesterday I officiated a memorial service for Andrea Lundgren’s mom who passed away suddenly last week and this week I travel to Pennsylvania for the funeral of my friend Gregg Strawbridge who died suddenly of a heart attack at age 57.

Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes that as difficult as it is to face the death of loved ones and friends, there is a great deal of wisdom to be gained in the house of mourning. Better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting,” he writes. It is the one who takes time to consider his mortality who will grow in wisdom. So he writes that, Sorrow is better than laughter for by a sad countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. As challenging as facing death is, facing it imparts to us wisdom – and Solomon offers two central pieces of wisdom in this text.

First, the house of mourning reminds us that our character is more important than our comfort. A good name is better than precious ointment,” he writes, And the day of death than the day of one’s birth.” It is far better to seek character than comfort, better to have endured hardship and become wise than to avoid discomfort and remain a fool. At the end of our lives, all our comforts are gone. But what remains is the testimony of our character. Consequently, Solomon tells us, the day of death [is better] than the day of one’s birth.At the beginning of our race, when we are born, it is impossible to tell what sort of person we shall be. But when the race is over, when we rest in our graves, then our lives reveal what we valued and what type of people we were.

So what of you? How will you be remembered? Have you been scrambling to get comfortable and neglecting your character? Have you been obsessed with your own cares and oblivious to the needs of others? Have you neglected the worship and service of your Creator? Have you decided to give up on your marriage oaths and divorce your spouse? Have you been consumed with bitterness and anger and frustration? Have you driven others away from you because you are so ungrateful? Then take heed: your character is far more important than your comfort.

Second, the house of mourning imparts wisdom because it reminds us that death is the end of us all. Millions of men and women have preceded us and millions more will follow; we shall all die. So why is it important to take this to heart? There is one simple reason: when we die, we will stand before our Creator and be judged for what we have done here on earth. The Apostle Paul reminds us, It is appointed unto men to die once and, after this, to face judgment(Heb 9:27). And the sober reality is this: none of us has character sufficient to face that judgment. We could spend every day in the house of mourning and never become holy enough to stand before God. Why? Because we have sinned, and our sins have separated us from God. Your sins, your character deficiencies, have separated you from God. Your greed, your lust, your anger, your covetousness, your selfishness, your bitterness, your worship of other gods – these things have separated you from your Creator and no matter how diligently you develop your character it will never be sufficient to deliver you in the day of judgment.

Your only hope, therefore, is a Savior. You need Someone to deliver you from judgment, Someone to endure the consequences of your sins so that when you die, which you certainly shall, you may be accepted by God rather than judged by Him. And now, hear the Good News: God has sent His only begotten Son to be that Savior. He has sent His Son, Jesus, to live a perfect life and to endure the punishment that we deserve in order that we might be reconciled to Him. The Bible declares that God made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him(2 Cor 5:21). 

The house of mourning, therefore, is the house of wisdom. Through the death of loved ones and friends, God our Creator reminds us that character counts far more than comfort. But He also reminds us that our own character is deficient and that the only way we can face death and judgment with hope is if we place all our hope in the flawless character and sacrificial death of our Lord Jesus Christ. Sorrow is better than laughter, For by a sad countenance the heart is made better. Reminded of these things, let us kneel and confess our sins, acknowledging our need of God’s mercy that we may have hope in the face of death. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the public confession found in your bulletin.

No Creed but Christ?

August 18, 2019 in Bible - NT - Matthew, Church Calendar, Church History, Creeds, King Jesus, Meditations, Temptation, Tradition, Uncategorized

Matthew 16:13–17 (NKJV)

13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” 14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”

Our culture has institutionalized the tradition of anti-traditionalism. It is not that “rebellion” is acceptable within our cultural milieu; “rebellion” has become our cultural milieu. From “Not your father’s Buick” to “Not your father’s Root Beer,” to “Just be yourself,” our culture expects each new generation to be different, unique, revolutionary. “Out with the old, in with the new,” we are told. “This is the evolutionary process.”

Unfortunately, we evangelicals have imbibed much of this cultural food, routinely wolfing down the latest fad. However, because we have a residual loyalty to the Bible, we often try to cloak our anti-traditionalism in pious language. Consider, for example, the sentiment, “No creed but Christ.” “All we want to do is focus on Jesus. Away with these other teachings and traditions! Away with the creeds!”

Such a sentiment is nothing more than the anti-traditionalism of our culture cloaked in pious language. A moment’s thought reveals its utter inadequacy: No creed but Christ? What Christ do you mean? Who is this “Christ”? Is he…

  • The literal offspring of God the Father & Mary as Mormons teach?
  • The greatest of angelic beings as JWs & Arians teach?
  • Simply a great moral teacher as liberalism teaches?
  • A spirit being who only appeared to be human as Docetism taught?

To say, “No creed but Christ,” in other words, is vacuous. We must specify which Christ we mean. And this is the dynamic we see at work in our text today. Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do men say that I am?” They respond, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  But then Jesus presses, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter confesses, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” And Jesus declares, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” In other words, Peter got the answer correct.

Jesus’ interaction with the disciples reminds us that creeds, doctrinal summaries of the faith, are inescapable. It is not whether but which; not whether we have and embrace a creed but which creed we embrace – the true one or the false one? It was this insight that led our fathers to compose creeds in the history of the Church – summaries of biblical teaching that answer the question, “Who is this God we worship?” They composed creeds such as the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Definition of Chalcedon, and then handled them down to us as a sacred trust. These creeds were attempts to distinguish truth from error, to combat various false teachings that tried to infiltrate the Church – Gnosticism, Arianism, Sabellianism, Docetism, and others.

So how ought we to receive these creeds? As we shall learn in our sermon today, we ought to receive them in thankfulness and then hand them on to the next generation. Rather than scorn the creeds with our arrogant mantra, “No creed but Christ,” we ought to thank God that He poured out His Spirit upon His Church and enabled our fathers to summarize faithfully the teachings of Scripture.

So what of you? Have you given thanks to God for these creedal summaries, treasured them as gifts from God, and considered how you might hand these on to the next generation? Or have you taken them for granted, mumbling through them each Sunday and largely ignoring the blood, sweat, and tears that went into their composition and transmission?

Reminded that God has been good and kind to His Church throughout history and has given us the creeds to lead and guide us in the proper understanding of His Word, let us confess that we have often taken these creeds for granted. As we confess, and as you are able, let us kneel together before the Lord. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

Exasperate the Enemies of God

April 24, 2018 in Uncategorized

John Calvin commenting on John 9:14 – Now it was the Sabbath…

“Christ purposely chose a sabbath day, which would give cause of offence to the Jews. He had already found, in regard to the paralytic, that even this work was open to misrepresentation. Why then does He not avoid the offence, as He could easily have done, save because the malignant reaction of His enemies would magnify the power of God? The sabbath day is like a whet-stone that sharpens them to inquire more eagerly into the whole affair. And yet what good does a careful and earnest examination of the question do, but that the truth of the miracle shines more brightly? Moreover, we are taught by this example that if we want to follow Christ, we have to exasperate the enemies of the Gospel, and that those who compromise between the world and Christ, so as to condemn every kind of scandal, are utterly mad, since Christ, on the contrary, knowingly and deliberately provoked the ungodly. So we should pay heed to the rule that He lays down elsewhere, that the blind and the leaders of the blind are to be disregarded (Matt. 15.14).” 

John Calvin, The Gospel According to St. John: Part One, 1-10, Trans. by T.H.L. Parker, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988) p. 245.

Pictures of our New Building

December 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

Just a couple weeks ago we had the privilege of dedicating our new church facility to the glory and honor of God. Below are some pictures of the building. Many thanks to all who helped make this a possibility. If you’d like to make an online donation to help us complete some other improvements click here. Blessings!

Is Mormonism Christian?

February 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

Letter to the Editor of the Coeur d’Alene Press
Submitted February 12, 2012


I get the unsettling suspicion when I read letters about the
Mormon question that the entire point is being missed. Many
Mormons respond to the charge that Mormonism is not Christian
by replying, “But we believe in Jesus Christ; therefore we are
Christians.”

The assertion of Christianity, however, has never been that
Mormons don’t believe in a person named Jesus. Quite
obviously they do. But then again so do Muslims, Unitarians, and
Jews.

The critical issue is not whether one believes in a person named
Jesus but what one believes about him. Who is Jesus? Historic
Christianity has always insisted that Jesus is God Himself in
human flesh, the Second Person of the Trinity. He is “God of
God; Light of Light; very God of very God…being of one
substance with the Father.” (Nicene Creed)

This teaching Mormons repudiate. Indeed, Joseph Smith went so
far as to ridicule the Trinity as “a strange god indeed.” He had
no desire to be associated with historic Christianity – according
to him all Christian churches are “wrong” and all their teachings
“corrupt.”

So let us be clear. Muslims are not Christians because they
teach Jesus was simply a great prophet. Unitarians are not
because they teach he was simply a great man. And Mormons
are not because they teach that he is a separate being from the
Father who earned his divinity by virtue of his hard work. If
Mormons want to believe that, that is their prerogative; but
don’t confuse others by calling it Christian.

Family Camp 2010

June 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

I will be speaking Labor Day weekend at our 2010 Family Camp. The camp is going to be held on Lake Coeur d’Alene at Camp Lutherhaven. Christ Church in Spokane, Holy Trinity Church in Colville, and Trinity Church here in Coeur d’Alene are sponsoring the event. If you would like more information, call the Christ Church office at 509-329-0314.