Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Finish Well

By: Adam McClendon

Jim Peters began the 1954 British Empire and Common Wealth Games marathon at a blistering pace.  He ran the first 25 miles faster than any person ever documented at that point in history.  Then, with less than 400 meters left, he collapsed.  Over the next 15 minutes, in a confused and almost semi-conscious state, he staggered, fell, stood, and staggered for about 200 yards before collapsing and being pulled by the officials.  (Video of his collapse can be seen here [7:30-8:10]).

Stories such as this often reminds us of Hebrews 12:1b-2: “…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the found and perfecter of our faith….”


Philippians 3:14: “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

The reality is that our end matters a lot more than our beginning.  The goal line means a lot more than the start line. 

So, are we running to win?  Are we running to finish well?  Are we running in anticipation of hearing “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt 25:21b)?

What about our marriages?  So much focus is given on one day at the beginning, but what of the decades to follow?  Let us live in our marriages with the long term in view.

What about our leadership?  So much pomp and circumstance, ceremonies and praise, surrounds new CEOs and managers, but what of the days to follow?  Let us lead to make something that lasts.

What of parenthood?  So much patience and love surrounds the first few weeks, but then life hits full force.  Weeks, months, maybe years later, we have fallen into poor routines where children become a distraction to our latest sitcom addiction, requiring attention, and wanting to play.  Let us model Christ in our parenting keeping their spiritual future in mind.

What of our spiritual life?  So much passion was shown in our lives as new believers and so much disdain for sin, but what of future holiness?  Do we let that fire build in our lives so that the flame of God’s Spirit within us continues to grow greater and hotter, or are we like gas thrown on a fire that has lots of flash and heat initially but quickly vanishes?  Let us live with an increasing awareness of the impending return of our reigning King. 

Let us finish well.  Let us together commit our lives anew every day in anticipation of Christ’s return so that we might be found pure and blameless in the day of Christ Jesus (Titus 2:11-14).

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


By: Adam McClendon

We are conditioned for disappointment from a very young age.  Life just doesn’t always work out the way we want it.  Sometimes it’s because we have a skewed perception of reality, which is particularly true when we are younger, and other times it’s because reasonable expectations are genuinely left unmet.  Add to this general feeling of disappointment the reality of broken dreams and broken promises, and we often, subtly, and slowly develop a calloused undercurrent of mistrust.

Let’s be real.  We have grown up in a culture of mistrust where promises are made with crossed fingers and contracts have an infinitival number of exception clauses.  The marriage vow is now a lawyer away from ending, handshakes have been replaced with documents and signatures, promised inheritances and wills are changed, promotions are given to the “other guy,” and the price quoted is rarely the final price charged.    Politicians certainly haven’t helped: “No new taxes,” “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” “You can keep your health insurance.”

All this mistrust can easily slip into our spiritual lives and Christmas is a great time to reassess and re-establish our trust: not of man, but of God.  We are in a real danger of allowing the disappointments of life to discolor our understanding of God, versus allowing who God is to rightly enlighten our disappointments.  We must not transfer the emotions based on our circumstances to God; rather, we must allow a right perception of God to shape how we respond to our circumstances. 

The baby in the manger helps with this. 

Jesus’ birth is the fulfillment of a promise given in Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

This sign the Lord gave was to be a sign that God would be faithful to his promise to deliver his people from their enemy.  He would deliver them through Immanuel, which means “God with us.”  Jesus is the reality that God came to mankind and dwelt among us in order to defeat our ultimate enemies: sin and death. 

So, every time we see a nativity scene and we see that little baby in a manger, every time we see and sing the name “Immanuel,” we are reminded that while we live in a world of disappointment and broken promises, we have a God who is faithful.  He will fulfill his Word.  He will do what is right, even at great personal cost.

Let us together renew our hope this holiday season.  For, we can trust him.


Friday, December 20, 2013

Why I'm Not on Board with the Duck Dynasty Disaster

By: Adam McClendon

Okay, at the expense of upsetting a lot of people, here goes. 

I'm sick of hearing about Duck Dynasty situation.  Phil's comments were crass and poorly chosen, by the way, why in the world is he doing an interview with GQ and a writer who curses throughout the article he writes?  A&E overreacted as does everyone in secular-politically-correct society whenever a comment is made in opposition to homosexuality.  There are "thousands" of better opportunities for Christians to cry out concerning the intolerance of our culture.  Duck Dynasty isn't a battle I'm fighting for.

First, it's a secular tv show on a secular station, not a church.

Second, Duck Dynasty stars make millions of dollars as public figures and should have the common sense to know better than to speak so crassly in an interview with a paper that regularly crosses the lines of decency to sell magazines!

Thirdly, I personally do not want to be aligned with how Phil argued his point.  It wasn’t well done.

Fourthly, “professing” Christians consistently inappropriately attack people who believe differently than them and are often at times hypocritical in this area.

Fifthly, I don't know all of the Robertson's Biblical views, but would venture that I would take issue with a few important ones.

Anyway, go ahead facebook, twitter, and blogging world, continue to cry out and mark the demise of A&E.  They will just find another debase show to air in Duck's place.  Society will keep on.  Christian boycotts of Disney, Levis, and other major entities rarely work, because at the end of the day, we have short memories and don't take permanent stands as a whole. 

If you want to fight the culture concerning the homosexual issue and intolerance, there are thousands of better examples than this one! 


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

One of Those Weeks

By: Adam McClendon

Arrrgggghhhh.  Ever have one of those weeks where everything feels heavy, where your moods are as unpredictable as a cheap yo-yo, and you feel like a shaken bottle of champagne ready to be uncorked?

We’ve all been there, and lately, it seems that I’ve lived there.

How do we deal with it?  How do we “fix” this problem and get back on track?  After all, Jesus said that his yoke was easy and his burden was light (Matt 11:30).

Well, the answer is much more complicated as a whole than can be addressed here, but some reminders can help steady the boat.  A complication in this process often occurs when we spend so much energy trying to figure out whether these spiritual attacks or tests are coming from God or from the enemy.  The reality is that regardless of the source of the emotional upheaval in our lives, our responses are to be the same.  Here is a recommended approach.

First, we need to examine our lives for any habitual or blatant sins and repent if any are found.  Let’s be clear here.  Living in violation of our conscience results in emotional instability.  We cannot quench the Spirit and ignore our conscience and be left unaffected.  Intentional rebellion eats at our hearts like an aggressive cancer, robs us of joy, and produces incredible emotional volatility.

Second, we need to be faithful in the spiritual disciplines of Bible intake, prayer, and corporate worship.  Often, we don’t spend time in the word, prayer, or go to church, because we do not “feel” like it; however, in these times, that is the very place we regularly need to be.  We need to let God’s word settle in our hearts (Ps 119:11), we need to cry out to God more faithfully in prayer knowing that he is ultimately the object of our affections and the one we need (Heb 4:14-15), and we need faithfully to encourage others in the church and be encouraged by them (Heb 10:24-25).

Third, seek forgiveness and accountability.  Let’s be honest, when we feel this way, we can be obnoxious, inconsiderate, and mean.  We need to confess our sin and ask for forgiveness from our spouses, children, co-workers, or anyone else that we have hurt in this process.  We also need to seek a couple of people to hold us accountable to the fact that our feelings cannot be used as an excuse for outbursts.  We should also seek wisdom from them on better coping methods.

Fourth, we need to keep the “big 3” in check: exercise, diet, and sleep.  Our spiritual and physical lives are inevitably connected.  When we neglect or abuse our bodies, our spiritual life suffers right along with the physical neglect.  Exercise, diet, and sleep all impact our emotional states as well.  Be sure to exercise reasonably (2 or 3 times per week for between 30min and 1hr each), eat reasonably (be sure to eat enough, but not too much and reasonably healthy food), and sleep reasonably (too much sleep will add to depression and frustration, but too little will add to irritability).

Finally, stay the course.  Hey, the reality is that it takes time to cross the desert.  Sometimes, we just find ourselves in a tough season and we just need to set the sail and be faithful through the storm.  The season will pass.  We just need to be faithful and not allow our emotions or circumstances to serve as an excuse for wrecking our lives with sin and our relationships with anger.

Sure, there are a lot more factors involved and a lot of nuanced circumstances that might dictate additional courses of action, but as a whole, if we will keep these 5 things in view, we will find that the dawn will come more quickly than it would have otherwise.

Blessings to you as you seek to steady the boat and sail into the dawn.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Ground of Our Gratitude: Part II

By: Brian G. Najapfour
Brian G. Najapfour is Pastor at Dutton United Reformed Church and author.
For a brief bio on Brian see: http://biblicalspirituality.wordpress.com/brief-bio/.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love [mercy] endures forever (Psalm 118:1)

Do you know that if you and I are here today, it is because of God’s mercy alone? It is not because of who you are. It is not because of your education, or because of the fact that you are a good person. No! Remember the words of Lamentations 3: 22 & 23: “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness.”

Oh, let’s praise the Lord for His mercies. When you wake up in the morning, you wake up to welcome these mercies that are always new every morning. When you go to work, you go with God’s mercy. In your work place you work with God’s mercy. You come home with God’s mercy. You raise your children with God’s mercy. You go to work with God’s mercy. You sing with God’s mercy. It is all about God’s mercy! And, take note, according to our text Psalm 118:1, this mercy endures forever. Once it has been bestowed on you, it will remain in you.

There is a well known hymn based on Lamentations 3:23 (quoted above) that says, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” This hymn is by Thomas Obadiah Chisholm (1866-1960):

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father!

There is no shadow of turning with Thee;

Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not

As Thou has been Thou forever wilt be.


Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!

Morning by morning new mercies I see

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!


My fellow believers, we see this mercy displayed at Calvary when God sent His precious Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to be our mediator, to die for our sin, to redeem us from the curse of the law. That’s the mercy of God. And, the psalmist says in our text, give thanks to the Lord, not only because He is good, but because His mercy abides forever and ever. So, here we have the ground for our gratitude. Let’s remember the goodness of God and His mercy. And, let’s learn to trace all our blessings back to God, back to the cross, and to give Him thanks. Amen!

Managers or Ministers

By: Dr. Monte Shanks. 
Dr. Shanks is a professor with Liberty Seminary online.

I like baseball.  I played it when I was a boy, and so did both of my sons.  My sons even got to play baseball for their high school.  Nevertheless, there is one thing that is kind of silly about baseball teams.  It’s the fact that the managers and coaches are made to wear the uniforms of the players.  This is not the case in any other professional sport.  You would never see Bill Belichick wearing shoulder pads and cleats.  It just plain nonsense that baseball managers have to wear uniforms.  It’s not likely that Don Mattingly is likely to pick up a glove play 1st base, or pick up a bat in pinch hit for the pitcher.  Don Mattingly manages the players, he doesn’t play the game, so why make him wear a player’s uniform?

Unfortunately, the leadership of many churches function a lot like baseball managers, they don’t “play in the game,” they just “manage” those who do.  This is primarily the case because many elders of churches use up all their energies managing the church’s staff, the church’s grounds, the church’s facilities, the church’s finances, and the church’s policies.  Why is this?

I think it is mainly due to a misinterpretation of 1 Timothy 3:4-5.  In this passage Paul gave to his disciple Timothy the qualifications of a church “overseer,” which most scholars and Christians today understand as the qualifications of a pastor or elder.  In these verses the pivotal verb in both the NIV and NASB is translated as “to manage.”  However, the Greek verb “pro-is-temi” has other possible meanings, one of which is “to lead,” and it is most likely that this interpretation is the better reading for this particular passage.  The fact is that elders are primarily supposed to lead the church’s ministries, not manage the church’s staff and resources.

How do we know this is the case? Because Paul tells us that the evidence that a man will make a good elder is the fact that his children are obedient to his leadership.  A man who can parent his children so that they are functional and obedient is evidence that they can shepherd others as well.  Paul also wrote to Titus that elders must have “believing children” (Titus 1.6).  In other words, the family environment of elders must be of an atmosphere where they were able to lead their children to faith in the Lord.  Paul’s emphasis to both Timothy and Titus was that elders should be ministers to their families before they should be given the responsibility of leading the ministries of the church. 

Unfortunately, too many churches select elders not because they are effective ministers and teachers (1 Tim 3.2; Tit. 1.9), but because they are good businessman and are well liked by most people—therefore, they must be good managers, right?  Giving the leadership of the church over to men simply because they are well liked and appear to be good managers is a recipe for mediocrity, and possibly disaster.  Managers tend to focus on the proper and effective use of resources (i.e., policies concerning things).  Minister’s focus on people and “caring” for their conversion and spiritual vitality, which is what Paul stated was the ultimate purpose and concern for those leading the church—caring for those in the church (1 Tim 3.5).  And shouldn’t that always be the main function of any shepherd, caring for the flock?

Should elders understand the church’s budget, yes.  Should they have influence on the church’s policies, of course.  Should they take the leadership in the hiring of church staff, absolutely.  But far and away the most important function of elders is that they are primarily ministers.  In other words, they display the capacity to effectively exhort, enable, and equip others to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the “stuff” of ministry, and that what the church should be all about. 

You know there is one sure fire way to tell who the manager of a baseball team is—he’s always the one with the cleanest uniform.  Baseball players are never clean because they are the ones playing the game.  Their uniforms show wear and tear of effort, exertion, and teamwork, of striving for a common goal, and so it should be with the lives of those who serve as elders of any church. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Ground of Our Gratitude

By: Brian G. Najapfour
Brian G. Najapfour is Pastor at Dutton United Reformed Church and author.  For a brief bio on Brian see: http://biblicalspirituality.wordpress.com/brief-bio/.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good… (Psalm 118:1a)
The ultimate ground of our gratitude is not our circumstances, but God’s character. The ultimate ground of our gratitude is not our mood, but the fact that God is good. It is easy for us to thank the Lord when we are in a good mood, when we feel good. It is easy to thank the Lord when we receive blessings from Him. But, thanking God has nothing to do with what we receive from God. Give thanks to God. Why? Because He is good. Period! The fact that God is good is enough for us to thank Him regardless of our circumstances.  
The psalmist is calling us to thank the Lord for the fact that God is good. And, because God is always good, we always have a reason to thank Him. Even if He stops pouring out His blessings on us or on our family, still you have a reason to thank Him because He remains good. However, the problem today is that even in our gratitude we tend to be man-centered. We tend to thank God only when He gives us what we want.
Now, take note that the psalmist does not say, “Thank God for the many good things He has done for us.” So, in this context thanksgiving does not depend on God’s action, but on His attribute. We don’t say, “Lord, I will thank You if You do this to me; Lord, I will thank You if You answer my prayer; Lord, I will praise You if You heal my sickness.” My friend, even if the Lord does not grant our request, He still deserves our gratitude because He is good. His goodness is enough for us to glorify Him. There is a hymn that says,
Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered,
Thanks for what Thou dost deny!
Thanks for storms that I have weathered,
Thanks for all Thou dost supply!
Thanks for pain, and thanks for pleasure,
Thanks for comfort in despair!
Thanks for grace that none can measure,
Thanks for love beyond compare!
Let us cultivate this kind of attitude—to be grateful to God even in the midst of sufferings. And, let us remember that this attitude of gratefulness is a command; everyone is commanded to do this.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Did God Punish the Philippines with Typhoon Yolanda?

By: Brian G. Najapfour

Recently, Brian's native land in the Philippines was hit by a natural disaster.  Brian brings a unique, helpful, and biblical perspective to all of us during this time.

Brian G. Najapfour is Pastor at Dutton United Reformed Church and author.
For a brief bio on Brian see: http://biblicalspirituality.wordpress.com/brief-bio/.


In 2005, Hurricane Katrina claimed at least 1,800 lives. Commenting on this disaster, Pat Robertson, the host of the 700 Club, said that God was punishing Americans with this hurricane. In 2010, a powerful earthquake shook Haiti, killing more than 100,000 people. Again Robertson stated that this earthquake was a form of divine judgment. 

Recently my native land, the Philippines, was hit by Super Typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Yolanda. As of November 17, the death toll from this typhoon is now close to 4,000. Jim Solouki, a blogger, is convinced that this disaster was also a divine punishment. Solouki writes, “Did you know that God is punishing the Philippines for their tolerance of homosexuality, prostitution, Catholicism, and other sins?”

Did God Punish the Philippines with Typhoon Yolanda? I will answer that question by looking at Christ’s teachings concerning disasters as found in Luke 13:1-5. Let’s read this text:

1There were some present at that very time who told him [Jesus] about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.And he [Jesus] answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

In this passage Jesus gives at least five basic teachings on disasters.

1.   Jesus does not want us to think that those who die in disasters are worse sinners than we are.

There are two kinds of disaster mentioned in our passage: moral &natural.

a.   Moral (or man-made) disaster (vv. 1-3)

In verse one, some of the peoplein the crowds inform Jesus of the Galileans who were murdered by Pilate. We do not know much about this incident. But we can imagine that these Galileans went down south to Jerusalem to offer their animal sacrifices to God in the temple. At this time, Pilate was the Roman governor of Judea where the temple of Jerusalem was situated. For some reason, Pilate slaughtered these Galileans. Hence, we read in verse one that their blood was mixed with the blood of their animal sacrifices. What a horrible way to die!

Now, the people informing Jesus of this event believe that these Galileans died in this terrible way because they were exceptionally wicked compared to other Galileans. To correct their belief, Jesus asks them rhetorically, “Do you think that these Galileans [who were slain] were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way” (v.2)? The answer is, of course, no (v. 3).

In 2009, fifty-eight Filipinos were brutally killed in the Maguindanao massacre, also known as the Ampatuan massacre. Jesus does not want us to think that these Filipinos deserved to die in this manner because they were worse sinners than other Filipinos. He does not approve of making a hasty judgment upon the character of the victims of moral disasters. 

b.   Natural (or God-made) disaster (vv. 4-5)

The second kind of disaster recorded in our text is what we call a natural disaster. Let me clarify the difference between moral and natural disasters. A classic example of a moral disaster is the holocaust, or the September 11 Attacks. Examples of natural disasters include earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, tornados, typhoons, and others. In verse four, we encounter another type of natural disaster: the fall of the tower in Siloam. Look at verse four again:“Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?

Like the murder of the Galileans, we also do not know much about this event. However, the message of Jesus is clear: Do not think that those who were killed by the fall of the tower in Siloam were greater sinners than all the others who lived in Jerusalem. In other words, Jesus forbids us to think thatwe are morally better thanthose who were struck by Typhoon Yolandaand that they deserved it more than we did.


2.   Jesus does not want us to think that we are racially superior to those who suffer in disasters.

The informersin our text who came to Jesus were most likely from Jerusalem. Now lest these Jerusalemites think that the Galileans had a dreadful death because of their ethnicity, Jesus adds the incident of the fall of the tower. This natural disaster killed eighteen Jerusalemites. Here’s the message of Jesus to his audience: You, Jerusalemites, don’t think that those Galileans who were murdered were an inferior group of people. Don’t think that you are ethnically better than they were. Remember that even your fellow Jerusalemites also had an awful death.

To apply this message to us, the people in Quezon City, for example, should not conclude that they are better than those who live in Tacloban City, an area severely damaged by Typhoon Yolanda. Likewise, Jesus prohibits you, you who are not Filipinos, to think that you are better than the Filipinos because their land was hit by a powerful storm. Regardless of our nationality, in God’s sight we are all equal, for we were all created in his image.

3.   Jesus does not want us to think that disasters are absolute indicators of God’s punishment.

Among the first-century Jew was a common notion that the Galileans were massacred because of their great sin. Jesus; however, does not focus on the sin of these Galileans. Yes, Jesus does not deny the fact that they were sinners. But he denies the opinion that they died in an awful way because they had committed great sin. Thus, Jesus does not encourage us to think that disasters are definitive indications of divine judgment.

In Acts 7:54-60, we read about the stoning of Stephen. Some might say, “God must have punished Stephen for his sin because of the manner of his death—he was stoned to death.” Well, we know that Stephen was stoned to death, not because of his sin against God, but because of his faith in Jesus. In short, the stoning was not a sign of God’s judgment upon Stephen, but a manifestation of Stephen’s love for Christ.

In Job 1:18-19, we are told that Job’s ten children died froma natural disaster. A messenger comes and speaks to Job: “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”

Observe: A great wind (a natural disaster) killed Job’s children. Yet, because Job is aware that behind this mighty wind was God’s sovereign hand, Job does not hesitate to say that it is God who has taken the lives of his children: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away” (Job 1:21). From Job 1:6-12, we know that God allowed this calamity to test Job’s faith, not to punish him for his sin. Therefore, a natural disaster is not necessarily a direct result of personal sin.

Yes, there are instances in the Bible where we can conclude with all certainty that a disaster occurred as a direct result of personal sin. For example, we know that God rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire out of heaven in order to punish the people of these cities (Gen. 19:24). Hence, this particular tragedy was undoubtedly a form of divine judgment. We know this truth because God tells us in his Word.

Now, how about Typhoon Yolanda? Was it also a form of divine retribution? Did God punish the Philippines with this typhoon? The answer is simply that we do not know, because God does not tell us in his Word. Furthermore, it is not our business to know. Jesus does not want us to speculate whether God punished the Philippines or not. We cannot always understand why God does what he does. His wisdom is infinite, whereas ours is finite. God says in Isaiah 55:8-9:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

There is a song that says:

God is too wise to be mistaken

God is too good to be unkind

So when you don’t understand

When you don’t see His plan

When you can’t trace His hand

Trust His heart

4.   Jesus wants us to look at our own sin and not the sins of those affected by disasters.

The main message of Jesus in our text is repentance. Twice Jesus emphatically tells his audience, “I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (vv. 3 & 5). Notice how Jesus uses the two disasters in our passage to direct his listeners’ attention to the worst kind of death—everlasting death in the lake of fire. Jesus shifts the focus of the conversation from physical and temporal death to spiritual and eternal death. Therefore, for us believers in Christ, we must use the occasion of Typhoon Yolanda to talk to others, especially unbelievers, about eternity.

Dear reader, instead of discussing the sins of the victims of this typhoon, consider your own sins, for unless you repent of your own sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you, too, will perish.Again, instead of speculating whether God punished the Filipinos for their sins or not, focus on your own sins. Ask yourself, “Have I repented of my sins? Have I believed in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?” If not, God’s condemnation will remain upon you (John 3:18).  

5.   Jesus wants us to realize that nothing distinguishes us from the victims of disasters but the grace of God.

By calling his listeners to repent, Jesus is telling them that they, too, are sinners, deserving of death. As Scripture says, “[F]or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23) and “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Jesus, therefore, makes it clear to his audience that the reason they are still alive is because of God’s grace. I remember attending a conference in British Columbia in 2009. One of the speakers was Jerry Bridges, who was 80 years old at that time. Bridges is known for his classic book—The Pursuit of Holiness. Bridges mentioned something that struck me. He said, “What differs us from others is nothing but the grace of God.”

As we think of the victims in the Philippines, remember that we could have been one of them. What happened to the Philippines could happen where you live. Thus, thank God for graciously sparing your life. That we are still alive should humble us before God and make us appreciate more his grace upon us.

In his famous hymn “Amazing Grace,” John Newton says,

Through many dangers, toils, and snares,

I have already come;

‘tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,

and grace will lead me home.

Concluding Challenge

Let me ask you with love:

1.   Do you think that those who died in disasters were worse sinners than you are, or do you recognize your own sinnership?

2.   Do you think that you are racially superior to those who suffered in disasters, ordo you realize that with God there is no respect of persons?

3.   Do you think that disasters are always indicators of God’s punishment?

4.   Do you focus on looking at the sins of those affected by disasters, or do you seize the opportunity to examine yourself?

5.   Do you realize that nothing distinguishes you from the victims of disasters but the grace of God?

Finally, remember this: The super typhoon that ravaged the Philippines is a reminder that we live in a fallen world—a world corrupted by sin (Rom. 8:19-22). A disaster, moral or natural, shows the problem that exists between our Creator and his creation.Indeed, there is a problem between the Creator and his creatures. The solution to this problem is Jesus Christ—the only mediator between God and us. This sinless Jesus is the one who suffered “the strongest storm” from the hand of God, so that we sinners might be reconciled to God through Christ by faith.Do you have Jesus Christ?