All posts by LouTiscione

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Remember the Main Thing!”

“Remember the Main Thing!”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

The Church acts wisely when she keeps the main thing the main thing. The main thing is NOT providing protection from contracting Covid 19 nor is it the Marxist mantras of social justice and Black Lives Matter. The Main Thing is the gospel! Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:15 (ESV)

The gospel should be every Christian’s focus. The urgency to preach the gospel is foremost in every church that professes Christ as her head! God’s ordinary means to reach the lost is through preaching the good news of God in Jesus Christ, Romans 1:16; 10:17; 1Corinthians 1:18-2:2.

Jesus said the reason for His public ministry was to preach, Mark 1:38. His message was clear. “Repent and believe in the gospel!” Both verbs are in the imperative mood and present tense. The imperative is the mood of command. The present tense describes current and on-going action. Therefore, both repenting and believing are current on-going actions commanded by God.

Jesus gave two reasons for obeying His dual command. The first was the “time is fulfilled.” The second, “the kingdom of God is at hand”.

The first was a reference to Daniel’s prophecy, Daniel 9:25. It was confirmed by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 4:4. This time of fulfillment was in fact the time set in eternity by God for the Messiah’s arrival on earth. Jesus read Isaiah 61:1-2a in the synagogue, Luke 4:18-21. Jesus said He was the one prophesied by Isaiah who would proclaim the “year of the Lord’s favor”. In other words, Jesus declared that at His coming God was commanding men and women to call upon Him and be saved. The Apostle Peter boldly told the religious leaders in Jerusalem ,” there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” Acts 4:12 (ESV).

The second reason given by Jesus was not separate and distinct from the first. The Kingdom of God, namely the rule of God was at hand. Jesus the King and Lord, the one who rules all things, was physically in the midst of His hearers. The King who rules all men and has absolute authority commands repentance and faith! (Matthew 28:18; Mark 1:15)

Repentance and faith go hand-in-hand. Repentance is a change of mind, a turning away from sin. Faith is trust in the object who is Jesus. When God converts a sinner into a saint He gives two gifts. One is repentance. The second is faith. Those converted by God turn away from sin and turn to Jesus. Paul explained the action of the converted sinner. “So you must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:11 (ESV) Both God-given gifts continue throughout every Christian’s life. We live in Christ repenting and believing, turning from sin while relying upon the perfect righteousness of Christ.

Jesus was very specific. He commanded believing in the gospel. Christians believe in the gospel. Why? The answer is simple and clear. “The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” Romans 1:16b (ESV)

I’m sure that you’ve heard that the word “gospel” means good news. So what’s the good news? It is, “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” 1Corinthians 15:3-4 (ESV). This is truly good news because we all deserve to go to hell. But, God who is “rich in mercy”, Ephesians 2:4, chose some for heaven. The only way to heaven is through Jesus as He is offered in the gospel! That is relying upon the only begotten one, Jesus, not born but eternally proceeding from the Father. Those destined for heaven rely upon Jesus’ perfect life and His perfect sacrifice for sins. This reliance is not by our strength and power. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit working in us. The gospel is good news because God applies it to those whom He has chosen.

Therefore, he who has ears to hear the Savior’s command, repent and believe in the gospel! “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8 (ESV) This is the Main Thing!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Christian and the Government”

“The Christian and the Government”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The church in the Old Testament lived under a theocracy. That is, both the church and state were one. God anointed kings. Civil laws and religious laws were one and the same. Today we don’t live in a theocracy. In fact, there is only one society in the world that is considered a theocracy. It is Islam. As you may know, in Islam-controlled countries the civilian population lives under religious law.

In the New Testament, God revealed three circles of life over which He rules: the family, the church and the government.

The Apostle Paul wrote of the Christian’s relationship to civil government. “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Romans 13:1 (ESV)

The first principle under which Christians live in relation to the civil government is to submit to the governing authorities. “To be subject to” is to live under by submitting oneself to authority. This command is crystal clear. Yet what if the governing authority is evil?

Before answering this, it is necessary to understand the historical context under which Paul wrote this letter. The likely date for the writing of Romans is approximately 57 A.D. At that time, the Roman Empire was ruled by Nero. Nero’s rule was between 54 and 68 A.D. One need not do a great deal of research to discover the behavior of Nero.

Tacitus, a Roman Historian who lived during Nero’s reign wrote of some of Nero’s atrocities. “Before killing the Christian, Nero used them to amuse the people. Some were dressed in furs, to be killed by dogs. Others were crucified. Still others were set on fire early in the night, so that they might illumine it…” (Annals 15.44) I include this as evidence that we are not living in the most evil of times in our nation, especially concerning the world’s persecution of Christians. Yet we must face the fact that more and more Christians are facing increased persecution.

None of this is a surprise to God! He is sovereign over all the affairs of men. He ordains those who are in authority both good rulers and evil rulers. He ordains everything for His good purpose. But, God is never the author of sin. He ordains all things and that includes the evil behavior of second causes. We refer to those second causes as evil men.

The principle outlined in Romans 13:1 is not a sliding scale. That is, it is an absolute standard. Christians are to submit to the governing authorities because God has ordained all authority.

God has given instruction concerning what believers are to do when forced to submit to a human authority that commands that which is opposed to God’s law. For example, when a ruler commands killing for evil purposes, we who profess Christ are to obey God rather than man, Acts 5:29. In so doing we must understand that the evil ruler will likely execute his own wrath against us. I immediately think of those who resisted the Nazi mandate to exterminate the Jews. Many were executed by the Nazis for harboring Jews. Now this is an extreme picture. But it serves to remind us of consequences for doing what God requires. Jesus told His disciples not to be surprised when the world expressed hatred for them because it hated Him first, John 15:18.

So then, from God’s word here are several things He has commanded concerning the Christian’s relationship with Civil Government:
1. Believers are to submit to the governing authorities.
2. God ordained civil authorities for the good of all.
3. Civil authorities have a granted authority under the Sovereign God.
4. Believers must obey God rather than man when man’s laws conflict God’s Law.
5. Christians are to “pay to all what is owed them…” Romans 13:7.
6. Christians are to live in peace with others to the extent that we are able, Romans 12:18.

As citizens of the United States of America, we live in a nation that God chose to bless with a government that is by the people and for the people. Our submission to the governing authorities is expressed by obeying the rule of law. We elect government officials to make laws and enforce the laws constitutionally enacted. Therefore, choose leaders wisely. Above all, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God…” 1Peter 5:6 (ESV)

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Where is the Church?”

“Where is the Church?”
The Rev. Louis B. Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
We’re watching our “house” burning down, and I ask, “Where is the Church?” The “house” is our nation and the “fire” is Marxism.

However, here is God’s call to His Church: James 4:7 declares, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (ESV) 1Peter 5:8-9 states, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” (ESV)

Submit to God and resist the devil. Resist the devil while being firm in your faith in God. These are timeless exhortations given to the Church. Yet, as the saying goes, “When you’re up to your neck in alligators it’s hard to remember that your mission was to drain the swamp.” It takes perseverance and patience to keep your mind fixed on your purpose. It takes trusting in the power of our Sovereign God to cause you to focus on doing His will.

The culture is relentless. Passions of the flesh are overwhelming. Some in the church have acquiesced to the pressure of culture and have sought to find the good in evil. Some seek to find reasons to justify the evil. Some have concluded that we, the biblically faithful members of the Church are to blame. It is, they say that the hardline, unloving adherence to God’s word that has prompted the evil behavior we are experiencing. Church leaders conclude that the Church needs to be relevant and avoid alienating herself from the culture.

If indeed we are the Church, we are aliens to the culture of man-centeredness. Genuine believers are citizens of heaven. We are not of the world, though God has ordained that we live in the world for His glory. God’s command to His Church is to be holy, Leviticus 11:44; 1Peter 1:15-16. He has issued a dire warning to those who would call evil good and good evil, Isaiah 5:20.

So, what ought the Church be? The Church is God’s called out people. He has set us apart to Himself. We are a royal priesthood to declare His excellencies. He called His people out of darkness into His marvelous light. In this current climate, it is especially important for the Church to be the Church! We dare not make excuses for the evil men do. We must be clear about our heavenly citizenship. We must never compromise the truth or negotiate with evil.

The sixty-four-thousand-dollar question is “How is the Church to be the Church?”

Above all, believers must remember that they belong to God. It is His Church. He is sovereign over everything. He has ordained all things that come to pass. He is good and only does good. The evil that we see is under His sovereignty and we know that He will use it to accomplish His good purpose and judge evil.

To be the Church, her members must know the one true God and Jesus Christ whom He sent, John 17:3. The practical application of knowing God is to live in intimacy with Him under His word. He has shown the way of blessing and He has declared that cursing is the result of disobeying His commands. Members of the Church are called to think critically. We are people who communicate with words. God has communicated to us using words. Never engage in debate with the culture without first defining terms. Liberal advocates of change tend to pour their own meanings into words and phrases that have traditional meanings. For example, the phrase, “social justice” has no connection with justice. It is an expression that means the movement to transfer wealth and power from one ethnic or economic group to another. In short the movement called the social justice movement is rooted in cultural Marxism.

Further, to be the Church is to pray! Prayer is the most significant thing the Church does as the Church. Sadly, weekly prayer meetings have faded out of practice. Yet, prayer is a significant demonstration of our trust and dependence upon God. God has commanded prayer. Prayer is the means by which God has chosen to demonstrate His providence.

May the Church be the Church growing in knowledge and dependence upon God who hears the prayers of His people and answers them in ways that are best for us and most glorifying to Him.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Who’s to Blame?”

“Who’s to blame?”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
A common malady of mankind is selective amnesia. When problems occur or plans aren’t working, or our lives are less than we think we deserve, our first impulse is to find someone to blame. The last place that we look is ourselves. No matter what the issue, political, church, home or society the cause of failure or dysfunction is sought outside of ourselves.

For example, our current social strife, motivated by so-called social justice, not reflective of justice social or otherwise, but rather based in cultural Marxism. Which is the philosophy that seeks to transfer power and money from one group to another in order to achieve a perceived equality. There are several stages through which efforts or movements such as this inevitably pass. One is called “reward of the non-participants”. Another is “persecution of the innocent”. Within each is an activity called “fixing the blame”. When a problem or event occurs, an effort ensues to fix the blame on a group. Individual responsibility doesn’t seem to matter. The important thing is to hold some group responsible. In this current movement the group that is always to blame is the so-called privileged group. People are segregated by race, gender, sexual orientation, biblical Christian, conservative or liberal. The oppressed groups are those who have been designated as “minorities” (an exception is women, declared a minority). The oppressors are those in the mainstream of our society, those who have absolute standards of morality and belief.

If you come across words such as “social justice” or intersectionality know that you are being drawn into a discussion to manipulate not to address truth. Some Christian leaders have tried to Christianize those terms, but their efforts are fools’ errands.

Social justice has nothing to do with justice. It has everything to do with the transfer of power and resources from the oppressors to the oppressed. Once designated to be in one group, it is a permanent designation.

Intersectionality is the term used to assign levels of being oppressed or of oppressing. For example, if you are a homosexual, black woman, you are in the oppressed group. If you are a white man who is conservative both politically and biblically, you are a member of the oppressor group. Each attribute intersects to elevate your level of either oppressor or oppressed.

Contrary to this new cultural Marxism, the word of God declares that there is only one group to which all mankind belong. This group is called the human race. Further, the word of God also declares that there is only one sub-group within the main group of the human race. All men are members of the human race. All men are born in Adam. God chooses some out of the human race to be in Christ, the last Adam. The idea of racism came out of Darwinian Evolution not Scripture.

Concerning the current activity of blaming groups, God assessed the individual’s desire to fix the blame and said, “What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? As I live, declares the Lord GOD, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine; the soul who sins shall die.” Ezekiel 18:2-4

God said to fix the blame, or deny responsibility was like a father eating sour grapes and his child experiencing the sour taste. God said that is not so. Rather each one is responsible for his sin. Denying our responsibility will not make it go away. We will all stand before a holy God and give Him an account for our own individual actions.

Focus on groups is neither biblical nor proceeding from “common sense.” Men and women are not identified by their pathology, gender, or the color of their skin. Men and women are either in Adam or in Christ. Our hope is not to pass power and resources to another group. Our only hope is the gospel which is the power of God unto salvation. I thank God that each person is unique. I thank God that there are many differences within the human race. Yet, I know that in Christ, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female,” for all in Christ are one!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Image of God”

“The Image of God”
(Why All Life Matters!)
The Rev. Louis B. Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford
Presbyterian Church (PCA)

The world tells us that our value and dignity are based upon our current or potential contributions to society. There are ethicists who teach that human life has no more intrinsic value than plants and animals! I hope that this shocks you. It should! Human life has been given a unique value by the Creator. In God’s eyes all life matters. Genesis 1:26a, “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…”

At this point, I think that I’ve probably lost the atheists or those who think that they are. Perhaps, even those who have embraced the evolutionary perspective that mankind is divided into categories of race have stopped reading here. But, here’s a news bulletin from the Bible. There is only one race, the human race. Human life is sacred because God declared it so. Human life is sacred from the womb to the tomb.

Even though this article is not about the existence of God, yet, His existence is the basis for the sanctity of human life. All men and women bear the image of God. No other creature has been given such a distinction. Man is accountable to God. We have been set apart by God. We are made to bear God’s image. One of my favorite Psalms declares, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” Psalm 8:3-4

The sense of the words of Scripture, Gen. 1:26, that declare men and women are made in God’s image are likened to objects viewed in a mirror. We are a reflection of God. Distortions of this idea have been offered over the years. Joseph Smith wrote that “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man…” Another famous or infamous personality teaches that God is actually a man who is six feet, two inches tall. He even goes on to describe God’s arm length.

Being grounded in the truth is the best defense against such false teaching. In other words, know the truth in order to recognize error. So then, what is the truth of being made in God’s image? It cannot mean that mankind looks like God in a physical sense, as those referenced above teach. God made us male and female! Both men and women bear God’s image. All reasonable people admit that men and women are not the same, nor do we all look the same.

Bearing God’s image means to have some of His attributes. Attributes are simply characteristics that define a being. Now I used the word “some” to qualify the attributes of God that we bear. We are not God! No man is immortal. No man is self-existent. No man can make the claim that he had no beginning. Yet, all men are able to: reason, think, and have limited knowledge. All men have a sense of right and wrong.

In bearing these characteristics, we are faced with our limitations. For example, we are able to think and reason. But, our knowledge is limited. We don’t always do what is right in spite of having the moral law written on our hearts. The Bible says that every intention of the thoughts of men’s hearts are only evil continually, Genesis 6:5.

Yet man’s sinfulness does not eliminate his dignity. God made man in His image, male and female He made them as recorded in Genesis Chapter One. Two Chapters later, the Bible records the Fall of Adam and the Woman. As a result, our God given attributes were marred by the Fall. We still have them. But we also have an inherited sin nature. Adam is referred to as the head of the Human Race, Romans 5:12ff. Along with the dignity of being human comes the responsibility for our actions before God.

Having said all this, the fact that we are sinners does not remove the dignity which God conveyed by making Man in His image. It also does not reduce our responsibility to exercise good management of His Creation.

Human Life is sacred because God made it so. Remember no man can change what God ordained. You have dignity and value because the sovereign God made you in His image!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Rule of Law”

“The Rule of Law”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The giving of the Law and God’s ordination of civil authority are two blessings of God that intersect each other.

The blessing of the Law is stated in Deuteronomy 11:26-28. It was given to the Church of the Old Testament. “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and the curse if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known.”

The Apostle Paul wrote to the churches in Galatia, “Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions…” Galatians 3:19. He called believers to “walk by the Spirit, Galatians 5:16. Believers live by the Spirit by applying the word of God in their lives.

He later wrote to the church in Rome, “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad…” Romans 13:3 He reminded the members of the church that God is the one who ordains all authority. Those who are in authority are His ministers for the good and welfare of all people.

In Deuteronomy 11:26-28 and Galatians 3:19 the focus is on the Law of God which is the word of God and more precisely the Ten Commandments.

In Romans, Paul was referring to civil authority and by implication civil laws. God is the one who ordains all civil authority. God’s purpose is to provide for an ordered society. Those who are governmental officers are God’s ministers for the good of all. They are charged with keeping order so as to promote good. As God is the source of all that is good, civil authorities and civil laws are subordinate to God’s law.

The Bible declared a situation in which there was a conflict between God’s law and man’s law. When the leaders of Israel commanded the Apostles to cease preaching the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Peter and John responded, “We must obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29

To help understand the importance of the Law and law in general, there are, what the Protestant Reformers called three uses of the Law as they are revealed in Scripture. The first use of the Law is to point to man’s hopelessness and his desperate need for a Savior. The second use of the Law is to restrain men who are untouched by any care for what is just and right unless compelled by hearing the dire threats in the law. The third use of the Law is to guide the life of a believer in pleasing God. These uses of the Law express what the Bible teaches in Exodus 20, the ten commandments; Deuteronomy 11:26-28, blessing and curse; Galatians 3 and 5, the purpose of the Law; and Romans 13, God’s establishment of civil authorities.

The intersection of the blessing of the Law and Civil authority is found in the second use of the Law. It is the means given by God to put bounds around sinful mankind. It is this use of the Law that is the foundation of every society. Without which no society will survive.

It is accurate to say, “All truth is God’s truth”, especially when speaking of the rule of law. Sadly, we are experiencing the disregard of law. We are flooded by news reports on the actions of anarchists. We see these criminals, law breakers on television. However, they are described by many civil leaders as good people seeking some so-called higher cause of social justice.

Apparently we have laws that don’t apply to all. Those who have been charged by the people to execute and enforce our laws only seem to do so selectively. We are living in a dangerous time. May it not persist!

We are blessed that our country was founded upon a principle that our government is by the people and for the people. Our founders understood God’s blessing of Law. I pray that all our citizenry would recognize our current situation for what it is, lawlessness. May we once again understand and apply God’s blessing of law. I pray that our laws will actually do what they were intended to do, guard those rights that God has given: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Are Men Basically Good?”

“Are Men Basically Good?”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Look around at our world, don’t you find yourself asking, “Where are the good ones?” If there was just one good man or woman who would act upon his or her goodness our world would surely look different.

The question of man’s goodness is fundamental. It is the foundation of knowledge concerning the nature of man. The answer to this question is one of the two main concerns of the Bible. The Bible is God’s revelation to man. It is concerned with the nature of man and God.

The basic question that all of us must at some point in our lives ask is, “Are men basically good?” Men’s desires are motivated by self-interest. From our politicians to leaders in business we are learning by experience what God revealed. We are seeing Genesis 6:5 and Jeremiah 17:9 reported on every day. The reality is that men are not basically good.

“The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9

I look to Scripture, seeking God’s revelation concerning the nature of man. The Bible declares that God created man and woman. God declared on the sixth day of Creation that everything He had made was very good. The statement “very good” means that everything God made was complete, perfect and there was harmony in all of Creation. The declaration of goodness included Adam and the first woman, later named Eve by the man. This was the condition of our first parents. The Bible teaches that this condition did not last. Genesis 2 ends with perfect goodness and Genesis 3 ends with Adam and Eve being banished from the Garden of Eden and being prevented from eating from the tree of life. The perfect goodness of Adam and Eve ended permanently.

Every human being inherits the sin of Adam. Therefore, man was no longer basically good. From the beginning God poured out His grace by establishing requirements for men to have a relationship with Him. The Bible reveals the holiness of God and the sinfulness of men. Only God is good, Luke 18:19. The One who made all things and called them very good is the only source of goodness, James 1:17.

God’s view of mankind quoted from Genesis 6:5 and Jeremiah 17:9 are inclusive statements. There is no goodness in man because of and since the Fall of Adam and Eve. The Apostle Paul affirmed this truth and quoted the Old Testament. He wrote “no one does good, not even one,” Romans 3:12.

The plain truth is that men are incapable of doing good because their hearts desire self. God spoke through the prophet Ezekiel and revealed the absolute necessity of His action to give man a new heart, Ezekiel 36:28.

Even though I know that the Bible teaches that men are not basically good, I still hope against hope that our leaders would do good. I suggest that you are thinking in the same way. We all look around us and think that all it will take to solve our problems is for one man or woman to actually do what is good in any given situation. I thank the Lord, that our founding fathers understood man’s nature. They gave us a system of government with checks and balances.

We’ve been blessed throughout our history to have a few leaders who sought to do what is right. I thank the Lord for the courage they demonstrated, and some are even now demonstrating. Still, men pursue their own desires which are not good; they are focused in their own self-interest. No sacrifice is too great for others to make in order for these leaders to get what they want. What they want is their own power. They use fear to manipulate others to accomplish that end.

Don’t be surprised by this behavior; nor be intimidated. Rather stand against the evil that men do. God has revealed that only those who are in Christ have hearts that desire to do good. Know that only those who abide in Jesus will bear the fruit of Christlikeness. Above all know that all good is from God with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Only God is good. Unto Him be all glory!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Why Should I Fear God?”

“Why should I fear God?”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
People have been subjected to many kinds of fear. The world is full of circumstances, not the least of which are diseases much like our current pandemic, that instill fear. We even fear the unknown. Perhaps, that fear is the most insidious. In our current crisis, we are given so much information that is purported to be factual that our minds imagine the worst and fear of what might happen paralyzes us.

I’m sure that you’ve noticed that some people use the lack of known facts to manipulate people with fear in order to accomplish their desired results. Yet there is a wise fear. There is a fear that is reasonable.

The plain truth is whether you are a Christian or not, fearing God is the wise and reasonable response of a creature to the Creator.

The Bible answers the questions, “Why fear and Who to fear?” God is the answer to both questions. Fearing God is the subject of much of Scripture. Three texts of Scripture come readily to mind that concern man’s response to his Creator. Ecclesiastes 12:13, Matthew 10:28 and 1Peter 2:17 provide the clear answer.

Solomon who was declared by God to be the wisest man who ever lived expressed his deepest thoughts concerning life. He had every opportunity for greatness. He had great wealth. He had absolute worldly power over his kingdom. He pursued every passion and desire of his flesh. After evaluating all of his pursuits, he declared them all to be like hot air, “vanity of vanities”, Ecclesiastes 1:2; 12:8. Solomon repeated the vanity of man’s pursuits in the beginning of Ecclesiastes and at the end.

Solomon’s conclusion concerning the purpose of life and all of man’s pursuits was: “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” Ecclesiastes 12:13

From Solomon, king of Israel to the Apostle Peter the fear of God was known and declared to be central. Peter wrote, “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” 1Peter 2:17

Peter wrote to the church and exhorted her members to be holy people, set apart to God. He encouraged them to behave as those who have been changed by God. He called Christians to honor everyone; to sacrificially love those within the household of God and to fear God. Their fear of God was demonstrated in their worship. Fear includes a sense of awe, trembling and reverence.

In the case of Solomon fearing God was the only reasonable way of life. Peter gave the members of the church God’s guidance for life. Yet, each writer based his exhortation on an underlying assumption.

The underlying assumption was given by Jesus. Matthew 10:28, Jesus said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” This is God’s answer. Men are to fear God because of who He is and what He can do. Jesus’ words provide clarity. Jesus said that only God has absolute sovereignty over His creatures. Therefore, we must approach Him with great humility. We are finite and He is infinite. We have limited power. He has absolute power. Jesus said that, “all authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.” Matthew 28:18

Only fools live in denial of the absolute power and authority of God, Psalm 14:1. Only a fool would risk an eternity in hell! Why should I/we fear God? We fear God because He is!

How many think that their lives are hidden before God? How many are blind to the truth that they are created beings? How many give explanations for creation that fit within their limited understanding? How many think that there is no God to fear?

Fear God because, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1

Everything you see around you is there because of our Creator God. We have been made to worship God. He is to be feared. He is the one who sent Jesus, His one and only Son. Jesus is the one who has the words of eternal life. Fear God! He is the One who ordained everything that comes to pass, everything! “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (ESV)

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Remember Life!”

“Remember Life!”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
“For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest
on the land allotted to the righteous,
lest the righteous stretch out
their hands to do wrong.” Psalm 125:3 (ESV)
Amid our current concerns over a virus, albeit a dangerous disease, I wonder how deep our society’s concern for life is? I think of the vast number of lives taken every day by the evil of abortion. We remember the more than 60 million plus babies that were not allowed to see the light of day. We remember leaders who have covered over evil by calling abortion the right to choose. We remember that God has set human life apart as sacred, Cf. Genesis 2:7, “Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” Men and women bear the image of God. God is for all life!

In fact, God ordained capital punishment in Israel for premeditated murder. Human life is so precious in God’s eyes that one who unlawfully takes it rightly forfeits his life.

We should not be surprised that those who believe in their hearts that there is no God would have such a self-centered and low view of life that abortion would be referred to as a woman’s right to choose. Whereas the fear of contracting a virus justifies closing our country and inflicting harm on our citizens.

Psalm 125 is called a Song of Ascent. Verse 3 declares that God restrains man’s evil. Further, psalms of ascent were used in the worship of God. The ascent was the act of going up to worship. Symbolically, as we worship the Living God, we lift our eyes to heaven from where our help comes, Psalm 121:1.

Psalm 125:3 quoted above is part of a song of worship. The details revealed include two unconditional promises to His people. Israel, the church of the Old Testament was promised by God to: always have a strong foundation for life and be assured of His protection. Verse 3 contains a conditional promise that God will keep evil from ruling over His people. The caveat is that God expects that His people would not “stretch out their hands to do wrong.”

We no longer live under a theocracy. That is, God has instituted Civil Government for the good and welfare of all people, Romans 13. Yet, believers ought not to take comfort in that this conditional promise of God no longer applies. God is holy. He never “winks” at sin. Sin is a direct offence against His character. He will never accommodate sin. Abortion is sin. It is first a sin against the holy God. It is also a sin against man and if His people do wrong, there will be consequences.

The Apostle Paul advised the Church in Corinth that judgment must be directed inside the church. He declared the truth that God will judge the world. Christians are followers of Jesus. We were made new creatures by God’s grace alone. Believers live under God’s word. Jesus Christ is the King and Head of the church and His word is her standard.

I in no way indorse those who would take the law into their own hands. Violence against abortionists can never be acceptable in defense of life. Those who would advocate such violence do more harm than any possible good that they may see. Yet I am calling Christians to be who they profess to be.

There are three actions Christians can and should take against the evil of abortion. First, Christians should pray for God’s protection of the unborn and for those who have been deceived to think that abortion is simply an acceptable choice. Second, Christians could support local pregnancy crisis centers financially and/or by volunteering. We in Weatherford have an opportunity to do exactly that. Grace House Ministries is a blessing to our community. I give the Lord thanks for their efforts in being used by God to minister to women and their unborn babies. Finally, Christians have been commanded to disciple the nations. We are called to be people of light. We know that the only way by which this evil can be purged from our land is by God’s grace in changing the hearts of men and women.

Remember life, all life, and never stretch out your hands to do evil (or support those who do)!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “No Words to Say”

“No Words to Say”
The Rev Louis B. Tiscione, Pastor
Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
There are circumstances in life that come our way that force us to admit that we have no words to say that explain the circumstance. Our Church Family and I have been thrust into such a circumstance. We have experienced the tragic loss of life of a dear friend and leader in our church. He leaves behind a beautiful family, a loving wife and two wonderful children in addition to many shocked relatives and colleagues in his profession. Our dear friend was a caring and compassionate man. He loved the Lord, trusted in Christ and sought to live his life as a faithful witness of the Risen Lord Jesus. He was blessed by the Lord with gifts of healing and comfort. He was an excellent physician who spent many long hours in the Emergency Room treating patients for all sorts of conditions.

My brother, friend and co-laborer in ministry was a godly example and I will miss him dearly. My thoughts are that my life and the lives of those he touched will never be the same. What can one say to bring comfort? What could I say to his wife and children who were living through this nightmarish event?

I was unable to come up with any suitable words. Everything seemed so trite and inadequate.

I’ve been asking myself, “What would he say?” I know that my dear friend is before the throne of God and being forever glowing in the inexpressible brilliance of the glory of God! But what of us who remain?

Immediately, Psalm 121:1-2 came to my mind. “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD who made heaven and earth.” My dear friend and I spoke of the reality of these verses often. We often said in dark situations, God is in charge! He is my hope. We look to Him because He is always faithful to His word.

This Psalm is part of the fifth book of the Psalter. The five books reflect the different stages of the life of Israel, the church in the Old Testament. Book Five is especially appropriate for our future hope of victory promised by God! Book Five includes Psalms 107-150. In general this grouping looks forward to a final restoration. The human authors thank God for His deliverance from captivity and look forward to the eternal reign of Christ.

In particular, Psalm 121 is entitled a “Song of Ascents”. This is a psalm sung by the people of God as they went up to worship God. It is significant as it draws the worshiper’s attention to the reason for his certain hope. Our hope, like the Old Testament saints, is in the God who created everything by the word of His command. He created ex nihilo, out of nothing. He alone is able to give us hope that is certain. He is the one who speaks words of hope, comfort and assurance to His people.

As I searched for words to say, God revealed that He has the words of eternal life! When many were deserting Jesus, He asked His chosen twelve disciples if they would do likewise. “Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.’”

Indeed, my dear friend knew this truth because God chose to reveal it to him. Likewise, I, now more than ever, remind myself of God’s grace in opening my eyes to the truth. God has spoken and His words are true, reliable, clear, and sufficient.

In the past, when my dear friend and I were confronted with the final enemy, death of a loved one, we would remind each other that we don’t grieve as others do who have no hope.

I read the words of the Apostle Paul with renewed intensity. 1Thessalonians 4:13-14, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”

God has the words to say! Brother, life won’t be the same without you here. I am grieving, but I will see you again!