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What is Man? (February 2019 Update)

What is Man? (February 2019 Update)

“What is man that thou art mindful of him and the son of man that thou dost visit him? For Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels and hast crowned him with glory and honor” Psalm 8:4-5. A biblical (as well as rational) view of man is that man is special and unique. His is different from all the animals in so many ways it is impossible to list them all. And these differences are not merely differences in degree. They are substantial in quality and in number.

So “what is man?” In Genesis, we are told that God created man “in His own image and likeness; male and female, He created them.”  What does this mean? For one, it means that God created man different from all the animals. Only man is said to be “created in the image of God.” In Genesis 9:6, God spells out the difference vividly: “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man.” Animals may kill animals; men may kill animals; but man may not take the life of another man for one reason: he is in the image of God. As much as you may love your cat or your dog, and even though they may feel like family, they are still animals. Only man is in the image of God. And that makes him special, unique and valuable.  (more…)

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Giving and Receiving (January 2019 Update)

I always remember telling my children: “Christmas is not about receiving; it’s about giving.” I hope it helped them to remember that God gave us the greatest gift of all by sending His only Son for us.  That’s the message of Christmas. But reflecting on this past Christmas, I think my annual reminder to my children was not totally correct. Christmas is about giving and receiving. We emphasized the giving because we wanted our children to focus on the people they were giving to, not the presents they were receiving. But Christmas is about giving and receiving. And sometimes, receiving is the hardest part. (more…)

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Teaching about the person and work of Jesus is one of the great privileges of being a seminary professor.  Nothing thrills my heart more than teaching about Jesus and what He did for us.  I had that privilege once again this month teaching Christology and Soteriology with Eric Oldenburg at Kiev Theological Seminary. The Bible is full of passages that remind us of His glory and the wonderful salvation He provided for us! Paul reminds us that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). John reminds us: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:19). Peter declares: “Christ dies for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). In Revelation 5:9, the elders fell down before the Lamb and sang a new song: “Worthy are you to take the book and break its seals; for you were slain, and purchased for God with your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” All of this makes us cry out with the angels: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing…. To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever” (Revelation 5:12-13). What a wonderful savior indeed!  (more…)

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Colossians 1:10 is one of my favorite verses. Many times we are involved in doing good things that are not fruitful for the sake of God’s kingdom.  Often it is difficult to tell if our labors are fruitful in the present and we have to wait to see fruit in the future.  Sometimes God gives us a glimpse of fruitfulness even in the present.  But it should always be our desire, not just to do good works but to be fruitful in those good deeds.  So Paul prays for the Colossians: “that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” That is our prayer also – we have much to do, but most of all, we desire to walk worthy of the Lord and to please Him in every way.  But especially that we might be fruitful in our work.  

April is a time of preparation, getting things ready for the fruit that is to come.  Sometimes it seems like a lot of work without seeing fruit.  But every now and then, God gives glimpses of fruit for His kingdom in every good work.  Here are a few glimpses of our work in April.   (more…)

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The Reason for the Season! … (December 2017 Update)

Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year since I became a follower of Christ.  I know that December 25th is not the day of His birth and I know that modern Christmas celebrations have become so commercial that it is often hard to find Jesus in them.  But I enjoy remembering and celebrating the fact that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father.” I also enjoy the lights that remind us that He is “the light of the world” and that “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never conquer it.”  So, for me, Christmas is a time to remember – and to celebrate.  Jesus is the reason for the season!  He became a man so that He could go to the cross and die for my sins.  And He arose from the dead and will come again someday! That is worth celebrating – but none of it would have ever happened without that one night in Bethlehem.  “For unto you is born, this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord!” (more…)

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John Calvin as a Pastor

John Calvin as a Pastor

Most people remember John Calvin as a theologian. He certainly was that.  But above all else, for almost all of his adult life, John Calvin was a pastor. Preaching and teaching the Word of God were the primary elements of Calvin’s ministry. Many times, he preached or lectured on the scriptures as many as 12 times a week.[1] More than anything else, Calvin regarded himself as an expositor of God’s Word.[2] In his last will and testament, which he dictated on April 25, 1564 shortly before his death, Calvin began by describing himself as a “servant of the Word of God in the church of Geneva.”[3]  He summarized his life by these words: “moreover, I declare that I endeavored to teach His Word undefiled and to expound Holy Scripture faithfully, according to the measure of grace which He has given me.”[4]  (more…)

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He Giveth, and Giveth and Giveth Again! … (November 2017 Update)

One of my favorite hymns is “He Giveth More Grace” by Annie Johnson Flint.  Many times when I am troubled or when God has supplied unexpectedly, I find myself singing some of the verse of this great song.  It was written by a woman who lived all her life in adversity but continued to trust in the Lord.  The song concludes: “For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!” (Full song is at the end of this Update).

As I think about Thanksgiving this month, I am brought back to this song – He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again! I have so much to be thankful for … a wonderful family, both here in Ukraine and in the states… dear friends that are as close as family even though we are separated by geography and by time… a warm house and a full garden… wonderful opportunities for teaching… seeing students who are living the lessons they have been taught.  But most of all, we are grateful for Jesus and the change He has made in our lives!  We are so blessed to be part of His family and even more blessed that “He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!”  Here are some of those blessings from this month…. (more…)

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