My take on the ferocious prayers of the Psalms is that Christians shouldn’t skip over them, nor should we pray them exactly as they stand.  My reasoning is summed up in one word: Jesus.  The gospel of Jesus is the supreme fact of the universe, and so we must learn to interpret all things in light of the gospel.  And by all things I mean all things, including the world around us, the Bible, that big book called Psalms in the middle of the Bible, and all the imprecations therein.

So, you find yourself on the receiving end of terrible evil.  Or you’re grieved and angered upon seeing how others are oppressed.  You turn to the Psalms to find a voice for your anguish.  And there they are—a short outburst here, sustained smoldering there—cries to God to do violence to his enemies.  I gave examples of these prayers here, and I argued that it’s okay to pray these prayers, provided we pray them in light of the gospel, here.  So what does that look like?  How are you, as a Christian, to pray these prayers? Read the rest of this entry »

How do you pray for the young man who date-raped your daughter?  How do you pray for the terrorist?  How do you pray for the kids at school who are pressuring your son to try drugs?  How do you pray for the uncle who is abusing you?  How do you pray for those unreached people who tortured and killed your missionary husband?  How do you pray for government officials who authorize the persecution of Christians?  When you suffer evil, how do you pray? Read the rest of this entry »

[One of our church members, John Bates, wrote a meditation on Psalm 22 following the sermon last Sunday. I asked John if I could post it, and he gave me permission. May God use it to inspire your worship of Christ. – Pastor David ]

Seldom do we look at the psalms to lead our meditations through the passion of the Christ. The words that dripped from Christ’s lips, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” were not just a mere utterance of the sacrifice receiving the weight of the sin of His people. These were the words of King David in his prophetic psalm written 1000 years earlier.

The psalm that the dying Christ spoke, directing the bystanders to be witnesses, paints a picture of pure suffering and humiliation with such vivid details that mirrored the event unfolding at the cross. The scoffers, as they shook their heads and proclaimed, “He trusts in the Lord, let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!” were written by David but played out on Golgotha. Those bulls of Bashan with gaping mouth like a raging and roaring lion were the children of Israel calling for His death. David said they would divide His garments and cast lots for them, and so the soldiers did. How strange were David’s words as he talked about piercing hands and feet, long before the morbid minds devised this means of execution. Who would suffer these pains of death far beyond David’s imagination, who would be the one poured out and dried up, broken and frail? Christ was proclaiming, “It is I! I am fulfilling the prophecy of David.”

Yet David’s psalm does not end with the echos of the suffering. For if one is astonished by the accurate description of the sufferings, then one would have to explode in exuberance in the hope of the resurrection. Through Christ’s suffering and death comes life in salvation through the resurrection. For David said, “He has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted.” Oh, there is HOPE! “The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord!” In his resurrection He has inherited the Kingdom, and we become the subjects and the children of the righteous King. David said, “Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation; they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.”

So another 2000 years from the fulfillment of the suffering, I urge you to be witnesses and partakers in the hope of the resurrection and prepare to proclaim to the next generation the hope we have in Christ. His suffering had to be incredibly horrid, in order for His salvation to be ever so glorious.

“It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” has never been one of my favorite Christmas carols.  I stumble over a couple of things in the song, one being the commonly sung tune.  Critiquing a tune is subjective, I know, so I don’t expect anyone to agree with me.  Let me just say that I don’t think a song about the angelic announcement of Christ’s birth should make me envision the congregation joining hands and whistling one of the verses.  And it certainly shouldn’t make me think of roller skating.  The other thing I struggle with is the idea of winged angels singing, when the Scripture says nothing about wings or singing.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying…. (Luke 2:13).

And then I heard Sara Groves’s version. Read the rest of this entry »

“Hug your kids, kiss your wife, and give thanks to the Lord”

When I read that 58-character tweet, I immediately clicked ‘Follow’ on the Twitter profile.  Here is a man I can learn from, I thought.  Here is a man who appears to have a profoundly biblical perspective on life.   True, the tweet by itself doesn’t express anything extraordinary.  But then you hear the backstory.

R. C. Sproul, Jr.’s wife died less than a year ago.  And at the time of the tweet — September 30 — his fifteen-year-old daughter was about to die.  Shannon, whom R. C. affectionately called Princess Happy, was born with a brain disease called lissencephaly, which left her severely impaired.  (That’s Shannon and R. C. in the picture above.  You can watch a short video of Shannon here.)  Shannon passed away three days later.

Two deaths in the immediate family within a year.  Layered grief.  Sorrow upon sorrow.  That’s quite a backstory.

Over the last month R. C. has shared some of his grief on Twitter, and the blessing to me has been immeasurable.  I have benefited so much from his thoughts that I wanted to share them with others.  What follows is a compilation of numerous tweets over the past month related to R. C.’s suffering.  His journey through the valley of the shadow of death can instruct and edify us all. Read the rest of this entry »