Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. ~2 Timothy 2:15

About Me

I am a young man who is following God's call into pastoral ministry. I have been so blessed with the privileges which the Lord has granted me. I am blessed to serve the Mt. Joy congregation in Mt. Pleasant, PA. I am constantly humbled and amazed at what the Lord is doing in my life.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Tackling Transgenderism

             The transgender movement has currently taken America by storm. There seems to be no way of escaping it. Just about every TV show and movie has to have at least one "trans" character. Those who identify as such are platformed and celebrated. In the past two years, at least one of those deemed "woman of the year" actually was a man who identified and sought to appear as one. More and more companies are headlining transgender people in their commercials and promotions. Transgender women (that is men who are choosing to identify as women) are unfairly dominating women sports and girls are having to deal with men in their locker rooms and public bathrooms now. Doctors and medical clinics are performing so-called "sex change" surgeries on children who want to be identified and seen as the opposite gender than what they are. Drag Queen story hours are popping up all over the place. I even heard that the most recent Country Music Awards featured a Drag Queen performance.

            Such a storm has come upon us fast as ten to fifteen years ago, the idea of a man identifying as and transitioning into a woman or vice versa was unheard of. Now, it is being presented to us as common place and natural. Who would have ever thought that the Olympic gold medalist on the Wheaties cereal box, Bruce Jenner, would later appear on the cover of Vanity Fair as a woman, calling himself Cailyn? And it doesn't appear that this storm will pass anytime soon nor that it will get any easier for us as believers as the culture more readily embraces this and seeks to force everyone else to get on board with it as well. More than ever, we need to understand what the Bible says about these issues and how we are to handle this movement and, even more importantly, the people who are caught up in it. This article is my attempt to help us do just that.

            Let's start with what Scripture itself says about transgenderism. The Bible is clear that it is God Himself who has determined and defined the two (and only two) genders that exist in humanity. Genesis 1:27 tells us that "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." These two genders have been designed to differ from each other in a way that serves to compliment the opposite one. The differences between the two of them are to be seen in the different roles and relationships God has given them to live out. For instance, it is God's intention for men to be the leaders of their family and His family the church (Genesis 3:16; 1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:23). Women, on the other hand, are to be the helpers of men, serving under their leadership and having a predominant role in bearing and nurturing children in a way that men cannot (Genesis 2:18; Ephesians 5:22, 24; 1 Timothy 2:12-15). David acknowledges and praises God that the Lord "formed my inward parts; You wove me together in my mother's womb" and that he has been "fearfully and wonderfully made" by Him in Psalm 139:13. That would certainly include the physical make up of his body with the specific chromosomes and hormones that determine his gender with the role he was to live out as that gender. And that of course is not just true for David but also for every one of us. Deuteronomy 22:5 specifically prohibits a woman to identify as a man in her appearance and a man to do so as a woman. They are to present themselves as the gender God has made him or her to be. The law even goes so far as declaring that God sees those who do such as being an "abomination" to Him.

            Transgenderism is a perversion of God's good order. To go against the gender you have been designed to be, whether that would be in identity or role, is nothing short of rebellion against your Creator. It is in essence saying to God, "I want to be who I want to be and not who You made me to be." The heart of every sin, whether that would be abortion, homosexuality, or transgenderism, is really the same. The desire to be in the place of God and determine things for yourself instead of submitting to what God has said about you and the way you are to live before Him. It all goes back to the Fall with the serpent's sly and sinister temptation that the man and woman would "be like God" if they ate from the tree that the Lord Himself had told them not to eat. They wouldn't need to depend on God to tell them what was good and evil. They would be like Him and know it for themselves. They could be their own God in that sense, determining what is right and wrong on their own. That same Satanic lie is exactly what those who identify as transgender are buying into when it comes to their gender.

            With the number of those identifying as trans growing, the likelihood of you encountering someone who presents themselves as a different gender than the one they have been given at work, in school, in your family, and in the community is greater now than ever before. The question is, "How are we to interact with them?" In many ways, you do not need to treat them any differently than any other unbeliever. We need to keep in mind that their transgenderism is merely a symptom of their lostness and rebellion towards God. In that sense, they are no different than any homosexual you may come in contact with, atheist, Buddhist, adulterer, liar, or religious person who has not been born again and as a result not repented of their sins and trusted in Christ alone for their salvation. You should show them the love of Christ and be sure to tell them about Jesus, calling them to repentance and faith in Him. I heard Ray Comfort one time talk about how we are to go about sharing the gospel with a homosexual, a Jehovah's Witness, a Mormon, and a Buddhist. And you know what? The message was exactly the same for each of them! It didn't change based on how their sin manifested itself in their lives.

            When it comes to a person's preferred pronouns, I don't think that we can use them for a couple of reasons. One is that it would put us in violation of the ninth commandment not to bear false witness (Exodus 20:16). To refer to a man as a "she" is participating in a lie because that is not what he is. Also, it doesn't help to affirm them in their sinful rebellion and will continually encourage them to wrongly identify themselves as something which they are not.  

            And concerning children who are confused over their gender, we need to point them to the goodness of God in designing for them to be the gender they are and not the other. It used to be that those with what was called "gender dysphoria," who thought that they were born into the wrong body, would be counseled to help their brain reconcile with the biological make up of their body. Now, our culture wants to do the opposite and seek to change the body to match the brain, causing more damage for them than either is realized or cared. One reason why so many teenagers are identifying as trans today appears to be more due to peer pressure than anything else. Their desire to be accepted and fit in leads them that direction. They see that those who identify as gay, lesbian, or transgender are applauded and promoted in the culture today and want that fanfare as well. They need to be directed to find true acceptance in God through Jesus Christ instead of the fleeting eyes of the world.         

            We may be in the midst of this storm right now but we have all that we need with Jesus and His Word to withstand it and help others who are caught up in it to find their true identity in Christ instead of a sinful identity the world encourages them to embrace. Let's seek to compassionately share the gospel with those who identify as transgender and boldly proclaim the truth of what Scripture teaches on this matter. Also, to display the goodness of the unique differences of male and female in how we talk, live, and interact with each other.


Love in Christ,

Pastor Lee

Friday, April 28, 2023

Why Baptism is Important

            Baptism is one of the ordinances that Jesus has called the church to continue to practice on an ongoing basis. An ordinance is something that Jesus has ordained for the church to keep observing until His return. Communion is another ordinance given to the church as well. In His Great Commission right before His ascension to heaven, Jesus commanded the church to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to keep all that I commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a). Baptism is a crucial component to our making of disciples and discipleship in general. If a church is not baptizing new disciples and disciples are not getting baptized, then, simply put, they are being disobedient to the Lord who says that we should do so. Because of this, the Reformers went so far as to say it is only where the Word of God is being preached and baptism and communion regularly practiced that constitutes a church. Any group of people gathered together without such taking place on a normal basis can be called anything else but not rightly a church of believers according to God’s Word.


            It is important to stress that the act of baptism in no way saves someone. Paul could not be clearer that our salvation is fully and entirely a result of God’s grace alone and not dependent on any work of our own whatsoever. He writes in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, so that no one may boast.” The thief on the cross is the prime example of someone who makes it to heaven without ever having his head dipped under the waters of baptism. All he had was faith and that was enough. Nothing more was needed for him to receive the promise of being with Christ in paradise.


Contrary to Carrie Underwood’s song, there is not “something in the water” that changes and transforms us. The change and transformation has already happened. What transpires in the water just shows it. Baptism is a sign or symbol of our salvation. It is an outward expression of an inward spiritual reality that has taken place within us. We could call it a living parable or picture of God’s grace in our lives. In the act, we publicly signify our being united with Christ through our faith in Him. Paul points out in Romans 6 that our baptism communicates our sharing in Christ’s death. “We were buried with Him through baptism into death” (v. 4). The being dunked under the water visibly portrays this. That we have died with Him, putting our old self to death, which is who we were before Jesus came into our life. In coming up out of the water, we show that we have risen with Christ to new life. (“so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life”) We are no longer the same person we once were. I heard about a rich business man who was all about driving the fanciest most expensive cars available and wearing the top of line suits that money could buy. His life centered on material things. After coming to faith in Christ, he began going to church and went up to the pastor to talk about being baptized. On the day of his baptism, to his pastor’s surprise, he comes wearing one of those Armani suits that he had been known for. The pastor told him that he didn’t want to be baptized in that. It would ruin such a good suit! The man assured the pastor that he absolutely wanted to go into the water with it on and that he was fine if it messed it up. He saw that suit as recognizing his old life in sin that is no more and was in his past now. He clearly understood the picture baptism is designed to convey.


When it comes to who should be baptized, Scripture is clear on this point as well. Only those who have been born again by the Spirit of God and as a result of such are trusting Jesus Christ alone for their salvation. In every single case of baptism that we have in the New Testament, we always see that baptism follows faith. There is not one clear instance anywhere in its pages of someone being baptized who was not a repentant believer in Christ. In Acts 2:41, it was “those who had received the word” who were baptized. It was when the Samaritans “believed Philip proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ” that “they were being baptized” (Acts 8:12). Many of the Corinthians we are told “were believing and being baptized” (Acts 18:8). This is the reason why we do not baptize infants or even recognize those who were baptized as such as ever having really been baptized. Babies do not have the capacity to understand the truths of the gospel and exercise saving faith. Therefore, they should not be baptized. I also think that a church should be cautious when it comes to baptizing young children. We need to be sure that they really do believe and are not just simply parroting their parents’ faith or seeking to please them with it. That they have truly been converted and have a real faith in Jesus all their own. It is wise to take some time to evaluate to see such fruit demonstrated before moving forward with baptizing them. Much harm has been done in baptizing some too soon who had not been born again where they grow up thinking that they are okay due to the fact that they have been baptized when they have yet to repent and truly trust Christ for their salvation. And how many were baptized as a small child who have absolutely nothing to do with Christ and the church today?


Baptism was seen to be so important as an expression of one’s faith in Christ that it is often coupled with the calls to repentance and faith. This is why when those who had heard Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost and were “pierced to the heart” by it asked what they should do in response to it were told to “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38).  Someone belonging to the church apart from being baptized or being baptized without becoming an active part of a local congregation is foreign to the New Testament yet unfortunately is all too common place today. That needs to change if churches today want to be biblical in all that they do.


Are you a believer who has yet to be baptized? If so, what is holding you back from it? Why do you continue putting off this essential proclamation of your faith? Why don’t you want to follow Christ in obedience? If you need to be baptized, I encourage you to consider attending the membership classes coming up to learn more about it. Or if you have any questions about this, please talk to me. There is such a beauty with baptism not in the event itself but in what it conveys and every believer should desire to display their faith in this tangible way. Those who have been baptized can look fondly over the memory of that special day and the picture that it paints of what the Lord has done in their life.



Love in Christ,

Pastor Lee

Friday, March 10, 2023

Appreciation for John MacArthur

Next to my pastor and mentor, Ken Dolan, probably no one has had more of an impact on my spiritual life and ministry than John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA and teacher of Grace to You Ministries. In fact, it was Ken who first introduced me to John's ministry. He probably gave me a book or two of his which led me to begin to listen to his sermons. Immediately, I was impressed by how he refused to pull any punches but would tell it like it is and the Bible says. He wasn't concerned about being "politically correct" or sugarcoating the truth at all as many popular preachers can be today. (Which is why he can be such a polarizing figure at times. Some people cannot stand how straightforward he is with the truth and him speaking up against certain issues in the manner that he does.) I remember hearing him saturate his messages with so much Scripture referencing a number of them by memory and praying that God would help me be able to do the same one day in my own preaching. (I'm not sure that I am there yet but it is still an aspiration!) Some of those messages of his have stuck with me over the years. I remember as a lonely seminary student longing for a relationship someday being comforted by his exposition of 1 Corinthians 7 on singleness and marriage. The clarity he provided on the passage being exactly what I needed to hear at the time as I would be waiting on God's timing for another 6 or 7 years or so. Also, in seminary, a point he made that to truly be about God's glory is to rejoice in the blessing that God gives to another pastor and his church instead of yours. That cut deep at the time and greatly convicted me. Such a truth is brought back to remind me today when needed (which is more often than I like to admit). And probably, the sermon I have listened to of his the most, the one entitled "The Theology of Sleep" where he preached on the parable of the sower and how our job as pastors is just to "sow the seed" of the gospel, go to sleep, and let God take care of the rest. In my moments of great discouragement when I may not be noticing as much fruit from my ministry labors, I play that message and listen to it again.

When his study Bible came out in the New American Standard Bible and was on sale while in college, I had to get it. I wound up cutting my theological teeth so to speak on his study notes. To date, I have now wore out two or three of them. A generous Christmas gift from the congregation where I was serving as interim pastor purchased the bulk of his New Testament Commentaries. (There were a few yet to be completed at the time which now I have acquired.) I continue to consult those commentaries whenever I am preaching something from the New Testament. They are so invaluable with the clear explanation of the text and practical applications of it. Many a time when I find myself stumped trying to figure out what something in the passage means, I can open the commentary to that page and read MacArthur's explanation and it finally makes sense. (And if not MacArthur, another John with the last name Calvin.) The Systematic Theology ("Biblical Theology") that he and the professors at his seminary put together quickly became my "go to" of the collection I have. It is by far the most thorough of all of them. It pretty much covers just about all that Scripture says on an issue and is just what you need when researching a topic. With all this said, I don't agree with MacArthur on everything. I would differ from him when it comes to the identity of the "sons of God" in Genesis 6, divorce and remarriage, and now view on the end times (eschatology). Nonetheless, I still value his perspective and know that he will make his argument backed up by Scripture to consider it.

One of my desires for a while was to be able to hear him preach in person. (It is always better to hear and see someone preach in person than on TV, the computer screen, your phone, or on the radio.) I got so excited when I heard that a local church in Maryland not too far from my seminary was having "An Evening With John MacArthur" a number of years ago. I got a bunch of free tickets for me and my friends for it before I asked any of them to go. Boy, was I bummed when they had to cancel it because the publisher of John's latest book at the time required him to do something for it. I thought that might have been my only shot at seeing him. California is quite a distance away and probably not feasible for me to ever make it out to. But thankfully, in God's good and gracious providence, I wound up being able to go to the Together for the Gospel Conference (T4G) in 2014 in Louisville, KY, where he was one of the main speakers. I was finally could see and hear him in person. He presented himself as an elder statesmen just getting up behind the pulpit and preaching what Scripture says and what it means by what it says. More likely, it will be the only time I will have that opportunity.

There are two things in particular about MacArthur that have probably encouraged me the most in my view and philosophy of ministry. One is his faithfulness at one place for such a long time. At this point, he has been serving the same church for 54 years and still counting. In a day and age where most pastors remain at a congregation for no more than 5 or 6 years and then move on to another followed by another, this is remarkable. It led to me wanting to have a similar longevity in my own ministry if the Lord would allow such of course. To labor for a number of years discipling families and pouring into them. I actually toyed around with the idea of becoming a seminary or college professor while in seminary due to my love of biblical scholarship and teaching. But I didn't like the idea of having the students for only three or four years and no more. Not being able to follow up with them much after that. What I have witnessed MacArthur do was much more desirable for me. At over 11 1/2 years at this point I have got quite a ways yet to go!

The second thing with his ministry that has greatly encouraged me in my own is his commitment to sequential expository preaching. That is preaching verse by verse through entire books of the Bible. In fact, God has granted him the privilege of achieving a feat that only a few have in history. Preaching through every single verse of the New Testament. (Though I do wish that he would preach more from the Old Testament. I try to give the congregation under my charge a healthy balance, alternating between preaching through a book from the New Testament and the Old. We need a robust understanding of the types, shadows, and prophecies of Christ there as much as we do the antitypes, substance, and fulfillment of Christ in the New.) MacArthur is actually the one who in a real sense showed me how to do this. I witnessed him do so week after week as I listened to his preaching. I may not have known that it was even possible to do that had I not come in contact with his ministry. Now, it has become my practice and I believe that it is the best way to ensure that I am proclaiming the whole counsel of God without neglecting any of the hard uncomfortable topics Scripture talks about.

And while my oldest son was not named after him, it could be said that MacArthur is one of his namesakes. One of the main reasons he is called "John" is due to the meaning of the name being "God is gracious," acknowledging that God has been gracious to hear our prayer for him (his middle name "Samuel" means "God hears"). But also it was to honor the rich legacy of the numerous theologians who loved the Lord and His Word throughout the history of the church who were named John which would certainly include MacArthur but not be limited to him. (I believe that I have counted up to 30 at one point from John the Baptist to John Calvin to John Bunyan and John Owen to John Charles (JC) Ryle to John Piper and John MacArthur.)

John MacArthur has been sometimes called the Charles Spurgeon or John Calvin of our time and I would agree with that. In many ways, he has been fighting a modern day theological downgrade much as Spurgeon had in his day and has the tenacity of Calvin with the same steadfast unwavering commitment to verse by verse preaching through books of the Bible as the French Reformer. (Calvin was SO committed to verse by verse preaching that when he came back to Geneva after having been forced out three years prior, he actually began preaching on the verse he had left off on when he had left!) His impact and influence will be felt long after he is gone much like theirs still are as well. At 83, I know that MacArthur is nearing the end of his race with his ministry closer to being completed. But I will forever be grateful for the gift that God has given His church with his preaching and teaching ministry. I know that I am not the only one who can say that. I would not be the minister that I am today without it. Thank God for His using this flawed weak man to impact so many lives with the gospel and may He continue to equip him for His work to be done through him in however many more days He has appointed for him! To God be all the glory!

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

What Revival Looks Like

             What has taken place at Asbury University in Wilmore, KY has a lot of people talking about revival right now. For those who may not have heard, following a routine chapel service on February 8th at the school, 20 students remained there to sing, pray, and share testimonies stating that they felt prompted by the Spirit to do so. A few hours later, the president of the college sent out an e-mail encouraging other students to join this impromptu continuation of the worship service. The number of students at the chapel service grew and kept everything going. This has now continued for the past couple of weeks with people from all over the country making a trip there to check out what is occurring or to participate in it. Some are quickly claiming that this is a genuine work of God being witnessed while others are expressing doubts and wondering if it might be no more than a mere emotional frenzy. It is not my intention to weigh in on that discussion here but I do think that it would be good for us to look at what Scripture says about revival and what one looks like when God in His good pleasure seeks to visit us with it.

            The Bible does not anywhere provide for us a clear definition for “revival” but we do have a prayer for it in Psalm 85 and several examples of it occurring throughout history. We witness some type of revival with the nation of Israel specifically under the reigns of godly kings Asa (2 Chronicles 15:8-16), Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 29-30) and young King Josiah (2 Kings 22-23), the returned exiles following the reading of the law by Ezra and the Levites (Nehemiah 8-9), even the wicked city of Nineveh in response to the preaching of judgment by the reluctant prophet, Jonah, and perhaps, what has rightly been known as the greatest of revivals on the day of Pentecost when 3,000 were brought to the Lord in one day and the church continued to grow and thrive in the days afterwards (Acts 2). In fact, it has been said that the entire history of the church in the New Testament is itself an account of revival. In our own nation’s history, we have what is referred to as “The Great Awakening” in New England influenced by the powerful preaching of Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, and George Whitefield. Basically, a revival appears to be a special work of God’s Spirit where the sanctification or spiritual growth of God’s people is greatly increased or heighted all at once and conversions of unbelievers are brought about in a greater number than usual. I’ve heard it described as a time when God accomplishes in a moment what He typically does in a much longer stretch of time.

            One thing we notice with all of the past revivals that I have mentioned is that they stemmed from the preaching of the Word of God. I pointed this out in the list of revivals in the last paragraph. Revival broke out among the returned exiles upon hearing the law being read and explained by Ezra and the priests (Nehemiah 8-9) and the revival in Nineveh came as a result of Jonah’s preaching (Jonah 3). Those 3,000 added to the church on the Day of Pentecost came right after hearing Peter’s sermon and having their hearts pierced by the Word he proclaimed (Acts 2:37). And I mentioned the preaching of Edwards, Wesley, and Whitefield which fueled “The Great Awakening”. While it wasn’t the preaching of God’s Word, the rediscovery of it in Josiah’s day is what led to the revival that occurred then (2 Kings 22:8-10). There has never been and cannot be a revival without the Bible. It is clearly the instrument that the Spirit of God uses to bring one about just as it serves as the instrument through which He always does His work. No one can be born again and brought to Christ without encountering the word about Christ somehow (Romans 10:17) No one is able to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ without continually reading, studying, and hearing the Word of God.

            Another thing we see about revivals is that they are all characterized by repentance. There is a genuine sorrow over sin that leads to an “about face” to turn away from it and live holy to the Lord. The moment that Josiah heard the lost book of the law read to him, he tore his clothes recognizing how much he and the people deserved God’s wrath due to their failure to be obedient to God’s Word (2 Kings 22:11-13). The entire city of Nineveh was so serious about expressing remorse for its sins that they even had all the animals of the kingdom fast and wear sackcloth to demonstrate such (Jonah 3:7-8). Weeping ensued when the exiles heard God’s law read to them (Nehemiah 8:9) and confession of their sins followed (Nehemiah 9:1-3). A clear mark of a revival is such repentance.

            People recommitted their lives to the Lord as a result of the revivals as well. They dedicated themselves to walk in obedience to God’s Word yet again, acknowledging that they had been failing to do so. In the case of the revivals which occurred for the people of Israel, this was demonstrated with a renewal of their covenant made with the Lord (2 Chronicles 15:12-15; 34:31-32; Nehemiah 9:38-10:39).

            One sure way to know if something is a work of God or not is who the focus is on. You can be certain that God’s Spirit is involved if the emphasis is on Jesus. A revival is always centered on Christ. Jesus says that the role of the Holy Spirit is to continually point to Him. He seeks to testify of Jesus (John 15:26) and glorify Him (John 16:14). The Spirit has been described as having a floodlight ministry, consistently illuminating the Lord Jesus Christ, drawing attention to Him away from Himself. This is why the Holy Spirit is more of a supporting character to Jesus as the main actor in the Scriptures He inspired to be written. If supernatural signs and wonders take center stage and are what are talked more about, then the movement being of God should be suspect. But if it is all about Jesus instead, it is a good sign that the Spirit is working.

            A fifth element of revivals that we see in the ones that God has brought about is a reformation of life and worship. When such a work of God has taken place, idols have been torn down and important practices that have been neglected have been reestablished (2 Chronicles 15:8; 29:20-30:1-27; 2 Kings 23:4-24). There is a notable difference in the lives of those affected. The effects of the revival go much further than an intense worship service lasting for a number of weeks. The returned exiles separated themselves from unbelievers they had covenanted with (Ezra 10; Nehemiah 9:2) and the believers in Ephesus burned their magic books (Acts 19:19). The community in which the revival takes place is impacted as well. A silversmith in Ephesus could testify to this as he as well as others dealt with loss in their business due to less people wanting to purchase the idols that they had been making (Acts 19:24-26). It is due to the revival occurring with the early church that it could be said that the believers were “turning the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).

            The last thing that needs to be pointed out about a revival is that it is determined and driven by God. In none of the accounts that we are looking at was the revival planned or orchestrated by man. It wasn’t placed on the calendar by the church or its leaders. There were no gimmicks or anything done to bring it about. Just the presentation and proclamation of God’s Word which God always uses to convict men of sin, convert unbelievers, and further conform believers into the image of Christ. It was clearly and completely the work of God to bless that in such an extraordinary way. Jonathan Edwards even described what took place in New England in his day as being a “surprising work of God’s Spirit.” It was certainly something that he never saw coming. In fact, I read that one of the sermons that was so influential in that “Great Awakening” was his famous “Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God” and the first time that he preached it to his own congregation, there were little to no response. The second time in another church had people literally hanging on to the seats in front of them for fear of God’s wrath and judgment on account of their sins, crying out before the message was finished, “What shall I do to be saved?”. (And supposedly Edwards delivered the message monotone without much inflection or emphasis at all!) What made the difference must have been the Lord Himself.

            While we certainly should long and pray for revival in our day, let’s not minimize or neglect the ordinary work of God’s Spirit that occurs every Lord’s Day when His people come together to praise Him and hear His Word proclaimed. We don’t need to flock to a college hours away where a revival is purported to be taking place to be revived spiritually. Such can and does happen every week, just not on as large of a scale. And what God continues to do in our lives as we participate in the means of grace such as praying, reading and studying Scripture, corporate worship, attentively listening to the preaching of the Word, and partaking of communion is just as important. And if the Lord would see fit to grant a revival, it is more likely going to be through an extraordinary blessing of the ordinary means that He uses. So, let’s be sure to continue to in those as we wait to see Him do an ongoing work in our lives.

Love in Christ,

Pastor Lee

Monday, January 23, 2023

The Perilous Pattern of Sin

            Have you ever noticed that there is a pattern of sin that Scripture presents for us? A common road that leads to the falling into temptation and downward spiral. We first SEE something that tempts us, that is followed by a DESIRE for it, and then we TAKE it to our peril. Eve’s sin began with her SEEING that the forbidden tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and DESIRABLE to make one wise and then she TOOK from the tree and ate (Genesis 3:6). Likewise, the sinful mixed marriages of the godly Sethites and ungodly descendants of Cain all took place when the sons of God SAW that the daughters of men were good in appearance; and they TOOK wives for themselves, whomever they chose (Genesis 6:2). Clearly implied in the text is that they must have DESIRED these ones for them to take them as their wives. Achan’s sin was characterized by his SEEING the beautiful mantle from Shinar and the shekels of silver and gold, coveting or DESIRING them, and then TAKING them (Joshua 7:21). Samson SEES a woman in Timnah and then asks his parents to TAKE her for him as a wife (Judges 14:2). Evidently, he had to have a DESIRE for her in order to want to take her for his wife. For David, his sin with Bathsheba began with SEEING the woman bathing and the DESIRE communicated in inquiring more about her resulting in him having his messengers TAKE her to him (2 Samuel 11:2-4). It is always the same pattern. One fixes their eyes on something forbidden that develops a sinful desire for it which eventually leads them to take it, committing sin.

            Perhaps it should be emphasized that what all these SAW was not sinful in and of itself but was sinful due to the fact that it was something that God had forbidden them from taking. It was something He expressly had indicated was off limits for them. The entrance ramp to the road to their disobedience was setting their eyes upon that which God had commanded them not to take. Keep in mind as well that Jesus says that adultery actually takes place in the heart with the lustful look at one who is not their spouse (Matthew 5:28). It has been said about our eyes, "At these windows Satan throws in those fiery darts which pierce and poison the heart."


            With this being the case, how careful must be with what we put before our eyes, especially those things which we may be more susceptible to be temped by? Don’t think that such does not matter or won’t have any effect on you. All of these sins started with an extended look at something. While we may not be responsible for the first glance at it, we certainly are for a continual fixation upon it. As Martin Luther put it, “Temptations, of course, cannot be avoided, but because we cannot prevent the birds from flying over our heads, there is no need that we should let them nest in our hair.” David would have done well to not have given Bathsheba another look or thought. There would have been no adulterous affair then or murder. He would have avoided horrendous sin and the pain which resulted from it. In fact, the sin would have been stopped right there in its tracks. Matthew Henry put it this way, "The way of sin is downhill; a man cannot stop himself when he will. The beginning of it is as the breaking forth of water, to which it is hard to say, 'Hitherto thou shalt come and no further.' Therefore it is our wisdom to suppress the first emotions of sin, and to leave it off before it be meddled with." There is wisdom in following Job's example to make a covenant with your eyes not to look at that which God had forbidden (Job 31:1).


            There is more to the simple children’s song than we realize that states “Be careful little eyes what you see.” The journey from your mind to your hand is shorter than you’re thinking. We need to guard our eyes and be very careful what they are directed to. Better yet, we should seek to fix our eyes on Jesus and cultivate a greater desire for Him to keep us from fixing our eyes on what God has forbidden and desiring it to lead us into sin. When our gaze is upon Him, we cannot look upon sin long but when our eyes our fixated on sin, we will not be able to see Him in His glory and will follow down that road to the giving into that sin unless we turn to look back to the Lord prior to. With the aid of God's grace, let's seek to "turn our eyes upon Jesus and look full into His wonderful face" so that the sins of this earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace" where we will not follow through the common perilous pattern of sin.


Love in Christ,

Pastor Lee

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

The True Wonder of Christmas

People often talk about the wonder of Christmas this time of year. The beauty and splendor of the season. All of the lights and everything aglow. The sights of the decorations and the smells of the food on the table. The spirit of gift-giving and being together as a family. The twinkle in a young child’s eyes on Christmas morning seeing the gifts under the tree. But the greatest and real wonder of Christmas is found in the words of John 1:14. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” What really should bring wonder to us this holiday season is the truth of the incarnation; God taking on flesh and becoming a man without any way ceasing to be God. Adding humanity to His divinity.


Take a moment to reflect on what this means. The eternal God became a mortal man. The Creator became part of His creation. As Augustine simply stated, “Man's maker was made man.” The infinite clothed Himself with finite humanity. The One who holds all things together would be held in the arms of His mother. The One whom all things are dependent upon became dependent upon others. The Sustainer of all things would be sustained in the womb and at His mother's breast. The Bread of Life would become hungry. The Fountain of Living Water thirsty. The One who fills all space and time confines Himself to the single space of Mary's womb, then a feeding trough for animals, Calvary's cross, and Joseph's tomb. The Divine Word cries without being able to utter a word. The King of kings and the Lord of lords leaves His palace of heaven to lay on a bed of straw. The One who knows all things increased in wisdom as He grew older. For that matter we could say that the timeless One Himself could be spoken of as growing! The all-powerful One becoming weary after a journey. The God who never slumbers needing sleep. The One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills becoming One who had no place on earth to lay His head. The One rich in glory becoming poor so that we who recognize ourselves to be poor in spirit can become spiritually rich. The very Author of life would die. 


Wow! Just let all of that sink in! This truly is the wonder of Christmas! Mark Jones has put it well, “The incarnation is God’s greatest wonder, one that no creature could ever have imagined. God Himself could not perform a more difficult and glorious work. It has justly been called the miracle of all miracles.” Who could have ever invented such an idea? That the God of the universe would become a man. And that He would become a man in order to save us from our sins and God’s wrath that we so rightly deserve. To enter into this dark messed up sinful world and undergo such inexpressible and excruciating suffering for the salvation of us sinners. There really is nothing quite like it. As J. I. Packer has said, “Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as is this truth of the incarnation.”


                As you go through this upcoming holiday season, be sure to make time to ponder this deep truth that we celebrate. Don’t let it get lost in the hubbub and busyness of things. You will want to do whatever you can to keep it central in all that you and your family do. If you want to have a more worshipful Christmas, set your thoughts on this. Keep coming back to it again and again to have a reminder of it. The wonder of all wonders! God becoming man in order to live the life of perfect obedience that we continually fail to live, die the death which we deserve on account of our sins, experiencing the full weight of God’s wrath, and rise again three days later to conquer death itself and ensure that all who believe in Him will be resurrected as well after death. Could there be anything greater for us to celebrate? Anything that could possibly top that in importance? I cannot imagine anything.


Celebrating the glorious and wonderful incarnation with you,
Pastor Lee

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Which Jesus?

             A lot of people talk about Jesus these days as He is a popular fixture in our culture. References to Him as well as portrayals of Him can be found in movies, TV shows, advertisements, and books. It is hard to find someone who hasn’t heard about Him or at least doesn’t have their own conception of Him. However, with all that said, we need to be cautious not to assume that everyone who is talking about Jesus is speaking of the same Jesus whom we trust and follow. Rather than just blindly accepting that someone who speaks of Jesus or claims to believe in Him has the right understanding of Who He is, we need to further ask the question, “which Jesus?” It very well may be a false perspective of Him which does not correspond to the truth of who He is as He has been revealed in God’s Word, the Bible.

             For instance, Muslims have a Jesus that they believe in but they view him as being a prophet just like Muhammad and that of a lesser status than him. The Koran emphatically states that Jesus cannot be said to be God’s Son and that he did not actually die on the cross but merely appeared to. The idea is that he swooned from all the suffering and became unconscious, being mistaken to have died. The Mormons view Jesus as being one of a multitude of gods and the spirit brother of Satan who did not make full atonement for people’s sins, leaving them with sins they need to atone for themselves. According to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jesus is not the eternal God but a created being, equivalent with Michael the Archangel. He is “a” god but not “the” God. There is also the Thomas Jefferson Jesus that some people believe in today. Our third president picked up scissors and literally went through the gospels and cut out anything supernatural that occurred in it. He believed that anything that could not be explained scientifically or naturally must not have happened. What this left him with was Jesus being only a good moral teacher. Not the sinless Son of God. And perhaps the most popular picture of Jesus out there today is what I would call “the tolerant inclusive Jesus.” A Jesus who is accepting of everyone as they are and being okay with whatever they want to do. This Jesus does not call people to follow him exclusively or to repent. According to him, we all are fine and don’t need saving. Just a little bit of guidance and encouragement to feel better about ourselves.

            All of these contradict the Jesus we encounter in the pages of Scripture who is the sinless Son of God, God in the flesh, both truly God and truly man, miraculously virgin born, really dying to atone for all of the sins of His people serving as their substitute sacrifice, and victoriously rising from the dead three days later to conquer death itself. And, as such, these groups mentioned above all wind up believing and following a false Jesus who, of course, does not exist.

            Now, you may be thinking, “While I realize that there are all these differences among these false religions and cults when it comes to Jesus, certainly you can’t be saying that it’s not the same Jesus in which they are referring to. They just got some of the details about him wrong. In the cases where he is presented on the screen or in some other book or advertisement and it doesn’t fully agree with the Bible, someone could still be introduced to Jesus even with these faulty descriptions of him.” Well, let me use an illustration to further communicate that these details in where they differ are so major that it actually doesn’t make sense for us to say that they are still talking about the same Jesus whom we know, love, worship, and follow. Suppose someone came up to you and asked if you were familiar with the man, “Lee Smith”. You more likely would probably say “yes” because you were thinking of your pastor who is writing this very article right now. Yet, as the person goes on and begins to talk about his pitching average and how they followed his career all the way from the Chicago Cubs up to his retirement with the Montreal Expos, and have all of his baseball cards, you would have to conclude that he is talking about a completely different “Lee Smith” than the one that you actually know. (The athletic ability or lack thereof of that one is nothing remotely comparable!) Why? Because the details are so very different and contradictory to the “Lee Smith” in which you are familiar that certainly you both cannot have the same person in mind, even though it is the same name. Such is the case with any portrayal or teaching of Christ which does not match up to what Scripture says about Him. They are so vastly different that we cannot say that they are talking about the same Jesus but have to recognize that it is another Jesus altogether.

            The reason this all matters is because the only Jesus who is able to save is the real Jesus we read about in the Bible. The “no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” is His name and not one of the same name with different characteristics. Jesus even says in John 8:24, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins. For unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins.” The “I am” ultimately is a reference to God’s divine name “Yahweh” revealed to Moses back in Exodus 3:14. So, if someone does not believe that Jesus is God as He claims to be with all the characteristics of Him, they will perish in their sins. They cannot be saved. Salvation is found nowhere else outside of the biblical Christ. Any so-called Jesus different than Him will leave someone damned in their sin with no hope of redemption. Hence, why it is essential that someone not only believes in Jesus but that they are believing in the correct Jesus.

            So, the next time that you hear someone talking about Jesus, or He is mentioned in an advertisement, or is portrayed on your TV screen, be sure to ask the question, “which Jesus?” and check to see if He matches up to the true Jesus described in Scripture who alone can save. Don’t just assume that it must be the correct Jesus. Watch and read with an open Bible in front of you to evaluate it. And only receive the One found in those pages.

With my love in Christ,

Pastor Lee