Sgt Charles Daniels, a NYPD police officer, got an unusual call in the early morning of August 7, 1974. Someone had spotted a man standing on a wire suspended between the two tallest buildings in the world, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre. He ascended to the tower roof by elevator, which took several minutes. In his words, this is what he saw:

I observed the tightrope ‘dancer’—because you couldn’t call him a ‘walker’—approximately halfway between the two towers. And upon seeing us he started to smile and laugh and he started going into a dancing routine on the high wire….And when he got to the building we asked him to get off the high wire but instead he turned around and ran back out into the middle….He was bouncing up and down. His feet were actually leaving the wire and then he would resettle back on the wire again….Unbelievable really….Everybody was spellbound in the watching of it.”

PetitPhilippe Petit, a petite Frenchman, had planned this illegal 45 minute stunt for six years, including taking aerial photos of the towers being built, studying the swaying of the towers, and designing a 200kg cable and a 25kg balancing pole that he would need to traverse the 61m gap. When asked why he risked his life he replied, “When I see three oranges, I juggle. When I see two towers I walk.” Fair enough.

Amazingly all charges were dropped and he was even asked to autograph the roof beam from which he had stepped onto the cable.

The only balancing act that I can think of that deserves more attention is the tightrope Christians need to navigate in their daily walk to Christlikeness: the balance of our responsibility and God’s sovereignty in sanctification.

Continue Reading…

Greatest StoryGod’s goal in all of His creative and redemptive work is to bring glory to Himself (Isa 43:7; cf. Eph 1:6, 12, 14).

This is expressed in His creation mandate to Adam and Eve, in which He commissions man, as those uniquely made in His image, to rule over the earth in righteousness (Gen 1:28). Man is to bring glory to God by their manifesting His presence as His vice-regent throughout all creation.

But immediately Adam and Eve fail in their commission. The serpent deceives Eve, Adam eats of the forbidden tree, and in that moment the human race is catapulted into spiritual death and damnation (Gen 3:1–7).

Continue Reading…

Part of stewardship is caring for what the Lord has entrusted to us. Elders and pastors have a stewardship to shepherd their people, and they also have a stewardship to protect their church’s property and resources (building, finances, etc.) from lawsuits.

When the same-sex marriage case was argued before the Supreme Court this year, the US Solicitor General, Donald Verrilli, said that if the court rules for same-sex marriage (which they did) then tax-exempt status for churches “is going to be an issue.”

With that kind of clarity, churches really have no excuse for being unorganized.

[As a side note, I’m old enough to remember when the mantra of the gay-rights movement was “don’t like gay marriage? Don’t have one!” Ha. Those were the good old days].   Continue Reading…

lg_heart_ascending_repair

massgeneral.org/heartcenter

A few months back, I was diagnosed with a genetic connective tissue disorder, called Loeys-Dietz syndrome. One of the common complications, which I have developed, is an aneurysm on the aorta near the heart. So, tomorrow I will have surgery to cut out that particular portion of the aorta and replace it with a synthetic one. It’s sort of like repairing a broken irrigation line, but a few bucks more.

But this type of heart-related surgery reminds us of a far greater need inherent, not to a small portion of the population, but all humanity. Prior to becoming a Christian, we are unable and unwilling to please God. The reason being goes deeper than defiant behavior. Our behavior is symptomatic of a dead spiritual heart.

Our diagnosis is not pretty:

Continue Reading…

July 8, 2015

Heart Surgery

by Jesse Johnson

Eric Davis normally blogs here on Wednesdays. He pastors Cornerstone Church in Jackson, WY, is married to Leslie, and has three daughters.

Eric Davis' Heart Surgery (Eric and Leslie Davis)

Last year Eric  found out that he was born with a rare genetic condition that affects his connective tissue. It’s called Loey’s Dietz Syndrome, and this condition has led to an aneurysm on his heart. His doctors at Stanford Medical Center have strongly recommended that he have an aortic root replacement–open heart surgery. His surgery is scheduled for tomorrow (July 9) in California. His recovery time is unknown, but will likely be a few months.   Continue Reading…

moving walkwayIn airports you find those long moving walkway conveyor belts that look like a flat escalator propelling you forward. Some passengers step onto the belt and remain static, allowing the rubber to deliver them to their destination. Others prefer to keep up a steady gait while on the belt, causing a unique sensation of warp-speed walking. Still others eschew the mechanism altogether and, like Amish conscientious objectors, choose to plod on resolutely next to the belt.

We all end up where we’re going but let’s face it: those who are serious about arriving sooner rather than later tend to be the businessmen who jog on the belt outpacing their fellow travellers by leaps and bounds.

Sanctification is not passive. We can’t sit sprawled on an assembly line as the Spirit fits us with the next Christian virtue. Yes, God is overseeing every tweak and turn of the process, but the more we cooperate the quicker (and less painful) the progress.

Continue Reading…

Rom. 1:16-32, 1 Cor. 6:9-11, and Jude 3-25

A Biblical Perspective on the SCOTUS decision

flag america and christianAfter Friday’s landmark SCOTUS decision many shepherds felt compelled to imitate the example of Jude.  Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.  For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (Jude 3-4).  Following in Jude’s footsteps I decided to take a week off from my regular expositional series through the gospel of John in order to address the Supreme Court’s nation changing decision.

These are dark times, there’s no denying it!”  In our own backyard my family hears beautiful hymns of the faith played on traditional church bells from only a block away.  We often hear great gospel songs like “the Old Rugged Cross” and “Amazing Grace.”  Yet when anyone drives by this same church they quickly observe a flashing “Gay Pride” rainbow flag that is proudly displayed on St.John’s digital billboard.  St. John Church of Christ wants everyone in Freeport to know that they are leading the way in the “Open and Affirming” church movement that is sweeping through our nation like wildfire.  Dr. Dutcher strongly believes that Lord himself wants every church, not just his own congregation, to join him in this progressive crusade.  They are certainly not alone in this!  Just like week Pastor Tony Campolo issued a statement saying he now “fully supports same sex marriage.”  Add to that, a recent article on Reuters which reports that close to 35% percent of “professing Evangelicals” now support gay marriage. That number represents a sixteen percent increase over a time span of just three years (though around 45% of the nation still believes homosexuality is a sin).

I do not know what it is like where you live but in our “conservative” city the local newspaper has provided Dr. Dutcher with free advertisement more times than I can count.  How is it, that one liberal pastor is given so much press coverage so he repeatedly promote his own religious and personal convictions?  St John’s “Unity Fest” for example was spotlighted three times in the month of June alone.  In sharp contrast, the congregation that I pastor is celebrating its 170th anniversary of ministry in Freeport on July 1st. We did not even receive one write up.  For all the talk about “dialogue” and “free speech” very few media outlets have given equal opportunities so that both sides can express their viewpoints concerning this controversial subject.  That’s strange seeing only 3.8% of Americans identify themselves as LGBT (per Gallup).

Needles to say, the moral trajectory of our nation is quite troubling.  I make this assertion on the authority of Scripture.  The goal of this article is to evaluate last week’s landmark Supreme Court decision from a biblical perspective.  As you have no doubt observed everyone these days has an opinion but only Being’s point of view truly matters. Continue Reading…

“For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake,
not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”
– Philippians 1:29 –

Phil 1;29This text, along with the rest of the New Testament (cf. John 16:33; 2 Tim 3:12; Jas 1:2–4; 1 Pet 4:12–16) establishes beyond a shadow of a doubt that suffering inevitably comes to the true believer in Christ. Last week’s Supreme Court ruling, which mandated all 50 states to redefine marriage, is a loud and clear statement that all who do not conform to the new (im)moral orthodoxy will not be tolerated in contemporary society. For those who submit to the authority of the Word of God, suffering, in one form or another, is sure to come.

But a question we need to ask is: Where does it come from? Does suffering originate merely in the hostility of the opponents themselves? Does it come from a random, chaotic, uncontrolled universe, so that we’ve simply drawn the short straw and need to make the best of things? Does it come from some impersonal governing force like fate, so that we just have to grin and bear it? Does suffering ultimately come from Satan or demons?

Ultimately, we have to answer, “No,” to all of those questions. Ultimately, suffering comes from God. You say, “How do you know that?” Well, for a couple reasons. One is that Scripture calls God the one “who works all things after the counsel of His own will” (Eph 1:11). “And we know,” Romans 8:28, “that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God and who are called according to His purpose.”

All things. Not just the good things. And not: “God turns all the bad things into good things for those who love Him.” God doesn’t just make the best of a bad hand He was dealt. He ordains all things for His purpose to glorify Himself. Joseph said that in Genesis 50:20: “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” Job says the same thing: “The Lord has given, and the Lord has taken away” (Job 1:21). “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity” from Him as well (Job 2:10)? And as Jeremiah stands in the rubble of the ravaged city of Jerusalem at the time of the Babylonian invasion, he asks, Lamentations 3:37, “Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both good and ill go forth?”

Continue Reading…

This past Sunday I spoke to the congregation at my church about the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling. Above is the 7-minute video, and below are the comments edited and formatted reading.

A few years ago the elders at my church asked the pastors to focus on equipping the congregation to deal with persecution. As part of our strategic plan, the elders wanted the members of Immanuel Bible to have a larger understanding of what persecution looks like globally, with an eye toward preparing our church for future persecution here in the United States.   Continue Reading…

scotus-GettyImages-478622912

media.nbcnewyork.com

Now that we Christians have had a few days to cool our jets a bit, we can reposition and recalibrate ourselves. Events like those transpiring last Friday provide opportune times of reminder for God’s people of our mission. When some of the more powerful human courts in the world express their fallenness, and the grandstands of culture erupt in praise, Christians are handed an occasion to be reminded of what we’re doing here on earth.

Humanity is still fallen. Jesus is still risen. Christians are still commissioned.

Being bestowed with every spiritual blessing from heaven means we have a responsibility to be a blessing on earth. One helpful place to go for biblical instruction on the matter is the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to the Colossian church. These believers lived in a culture which clashed with the biblical worldview. Things like homosexuality and unfriendly political stances were the norm. So, how did God, through the pen of the Apostle, shepherd his people to respond?

“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col. 4:5-6).

Overall, the idea is that when lost people do what lost people do, God keeps his church in their midst, as fellow-sinners (who have been saved by Christ), in order to wisely and humbly interact for his glory and their salvation.

Here are a few reminders to help us respond wisely as we live among the lost:

Continue Reading…