Category Archives: Pastor’s Blog

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Protestant Reformation”

“The Protestant Reformation”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
God used an Augustinian monk to bring about reform to the church. Martin Luther who nailed 95 theses on the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517, would come to be known as God’s “lightning rod”. Luther among others was raised up by God to correct the perverted teaching that had become part of the Roman Church. A Pope sent a cleric to Germany to raise money for building St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The cleric’s name was Johann Tetzel. His message was summarized by the saying, “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings the soul from Purgatory springs.”

Luther was outraged by connecting salvation to giving money. As Luther studied the Bible to teach it, the doctrine of justification by faith alone became clear.

God caused Luther to see that the gospel revealed the perfect righteousness of God which God imputes to a sinner. He does so only by faith alone, Romans 1:17 and 3:28. The Latin term is Sola Fides. Luther reportedly said that when he understood the doctrine of Sola Fides it was as if the gates of Paradise opened and he walked through.

In addition, four more biblical doctrines were recovered from the Scriptures. They are: Sola Gratia, by Grace Alone; Solus Christus, by Christ Alone; Sola Scriptura, by Scripture Alone and Soli Deo Gloria, to God Alone be Glory. The Five Solas reflect God’s plan of redemption. They had been taught by the church until the Middle Ages. Luther and the other Reformers recovered these biblical doctrines and rightly taught them as the “faith that was once for all delivered to the saints”, Jude 3.

The second Sola, Sola Gratia, means by grace alone. The Bible teaches that salvation is by God’s grace alone. All men are sinners, born dead in sin. We have inherited the sin nature of Adam. Genesis 6:5 and Romans 3:10-18 are two passages that teach man’s total bondage to sin. Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus makes this fact clear. Salvation is by grace through faith, Ephesians 2:8. Even the faith that Christians profess is a gift of God’s grace. Salvation from start to finish is solely by God’s grace.

The Protestant Reformers did not come up with new or novel ideas. They did not offer an alternative perspective on salvation but declared and taught the plain truth of God’s word. The Reformation was a providential blessing from God through which the church recovered the truth which the magisterial church had hidden.

Yet there was a main issue that concerned the great Reformers. It was authority. The Latin phrases Solus Christus and Sola Scriptura which mean respectively, by Christ Alone and by Scripture Alone, emphasize the rightful source of authority. The Reformers asked the Scriptures, “Who has supreme authority the church or God?” Of course, we would all say that God has supreme authority. The Bible reveals that God is absolutely sovereign. The Bible also reveals that Jesus Christ has all authority in heaven and on earth, Matthew 28:18. But the Reformers saw that the Church was usurping authority that belonged to God.

To state the issue of authority clearly, Christ is the King and Head of His Church. He exercises His Kingship and Lordship through His word, the Bible. The Bible is the ultimate authority of all life and salvation.

Of course there are many authorities over us. God established the church, civil government and the family. All derive their authority from God’s word. His word, the Bible is the ultimate Authority and Christ is the Supreme King and Ruler. Men possess a granted authority. When men usurp God’s authority, it is invalid.

The four Solas described above reveal God’s means of redemption. Men are saved by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone as God has revealed it by Scripture alone. The fifth Sola describes God’s purpose for redemption. Soli Deo Gloria, to God alone be glory. God’s own glory is His purpose. Everything is ordained by God for His glory. Isaiah 42:8, “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” And, Romans 11:36, “for from Him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” Life is not about us; it is all for God. Soli Deo Gloria! Pray that the Church would continue to teach these fundamental biblical doctrines.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Discouragement”

“Discouragement”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Discouragement is a common life experience. I’ve experienced discouragement and I’m sure that you have as well. Sometimes circumstances seems so dark that you think you’ll never be lifted out of them. Some who suffer with a chronic illness see no hope. The constant pain and suffering leads one to say, “I give up!” Perhaps your current discouragement stems from those who have been given a free reign to deconstruct our nation and re-make it as a socialist utopia (which doesn’t exist). It seems no one steps up to check their delusion.

The Psalmist repeated his discouragement in Psalms 42 and 43, three times. “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” In the midst of declaring his deep desire and desperate need for God, the psalmist recorded his state of mind. He was in the depths of discouragement and despair. He could do nothing but ask himself “Why?” I notice that he didn’t give an answer to the “why” of it but rather, he gave the cure.

The “cure” is to have a hope that is certain and there is only one certain hope. The psalmist declared the object of certain hope. It is God. He knew that God alone saves. God alone has promised to be with His people no matter what circumstance in which they find themselves. God has promised to bring His people to glory with Him. Jesus said that He was preparing a place for His followers and that He would take them to His Father’s Mansion in Heaven.

Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” God gives life to each one He calls to Himself. “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13

God’s children have certain hope because He has revealed that heaven is their home!

However, while we live in this world, one of the reasons we often get discouraged is unfulfilled or broken promises. We must remind ourselves of the futility in trusting in man. Placing trust in man or man’s systems will result in discouragement. Even the “best” of us may fail to keep our promises. God alone is always faithful. The Bible declares the truth of God’s faithfulness in the midst of man’s unfaithfulness. “If we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself.” 2Tim. 2:13

Knowing God and what He has said is our only defense against discouragement. For example, even though “our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” The Bible declares that “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” 2Cor. 4:16-17

In other words, whatever is causing discouragement God said that it is temporary. If you are in Christ, He is renewing you every day. He is preparing you for glory. God has given His people this certain knowledge so that all of the distortions of this world would not overwhelm them. As a Christian, I know that whatever I am facing will pass; and more, God is using every circumstance good or bad to prepare me for glory. Remember, God is faithful, and He will “never leave you or forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

As a child of God, I didn’t always look at the beginning of my hope. I’m speaking of the gospel. Paul wrote to Christians that “the gospel is the power of God…” Rom. 1:16. The Lord used every manner of adversity in my life to teach me that He revealed the means and certainty of my hope including my rising from discouragement. He revealed to me the gospel. That He saved me by Jesus’ blood and righteousness is not simply a past action, but the truth upon which I live. The gospel is God’s power to save. I am saved. I am being saved and I will be saved. There is no other power to lift me or anyone else out of discouragement. After all, God raised me from death to life. Will He not also raise me out of the pit of discouragement?

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Studying History”

“Studying History”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

“There is nothing new under the sun” Solomon, Ecclesiastes 1:9c
“Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” Edmund Burke (1729-1797)
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein

Each of these men reflected on the need to know history. History is God’s, story. History belongs to God. God ordains the steps of men, Proverbs 16:9. He has progressively revealed Himself through history. Therefore, it seems reasonable that there is great benefit in studying history. History is linear not circular. We may repeat past mistakes, but we are moving ever closer to God’s ordained end.

We realize great value in studying Church History because knowing past mistakes is an aid in avoiding the same ones in the present. Some Christians are led to think that the church only has a history that dates back about 150 years. But, the history of the church can be dated to the time of Abraham. The word “church” means those called out by God. This is what God did: He called a man, then a family, then a nation, then members of all nations of those who are in Christ through the gospel. It would seem obvious that much can be gained by studying the church’s history. The Church is not a parenthesis as some teach. The Church was in God’s mind in eternity. It was the Church for whom Christ died, Ephesians 5:25.

The church has a long history, thousands of years of men and women called by God to follow Him and thousands of years of some of them making the same mistakes over and over again. In the words of Albert Einstein, they could be defined as insane. Part of the reason for the insanity is a failure to consider the past.

It can be said that there are no new heresies. There are only old ones dressed up in new clothes. Essential doctrines like the Trinity, the divinity of Christ and the bodily resurrection have been under attack since the early days of the Christian Church. False teachers persist in re-dressing these heresies in new clothes and succeed in deceiving many. Currently, we are experiencing heresies concerning the nature of man and the believer’s union with Christ.

Ancient civilizations died in part by embracing immoral behavior. Unfortunately, even some of our civil leaders have attempted to tweak old systems thinking that they somehow could make failed systems work. Socialism, for example, has had more failures than perhaps any other social/economic construct and yet, there is a never-ending list of politicians advocating it under different names and slightly different methods. We even see strains of it in the Church under the guise of social justice, etc.

I am concerned for the Church. I remember a sermon delivered by one of my heroes, James Montgomery Boice, as he reflected on what came to be known as the Church Growth Movement. He said, “Using Man’s methods yields Man’s results.” No matter how often we use Man’s methods with the best of intentions we still get Man’s results. May we not try to fill churches by being culturally relevant but “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” Jude 3

There are currently at least three doctrines now being challenged in the Church. The first concerns race. The Bible clearly teaches that there is only one race, the human race. Adam is declared to be the federal head of the human race, Romans 5:12-14. The second concerns reconciliation. The Bible declares that God has reconciled the world to Himself through Jesus Christ, 2Corinthians 5:19. The Church is to proclaim God’s reconciliation. He is not depending on us to be reconcilers. The third issue is justice. Micah 6:8 lays out God’s requirements concerning justice. It is a command. “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Christians are exhorted not to look on anyone simply in the flesh, 2Corinthians 5:16 Every human being has an immortal soul and there are only two destinies, heaven or hell. Man’s only hope is the gospel! Christians know and affirm that their identity is in Christ. ”There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Discernment is Necessary for Wise Living!”

“Discernment is Necessary for Living Wisely!”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
“I commit to do what I is right.” This is a commitment that all should make, especially those who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. We often shade that commitment by revising it. We equate, “I commit to do what I think is right” for committing to do what is right! It is a sign of our time that so many equate what one “thinks is right” as representative of goodness and virtue. A good and virtuous person would commit to do that which is right. Whether or not one thinks an action is right, in own my mind, is irrelevant. We should all seek to do what is right! Yet my concern is for the Church.

In order to do what is right one must know what is right? Romans 12:2 calls Christians not to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed by the renewal of the mind. The result is: “That by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Ephesians 5:11 points out that Christians were once in darkness but are now “light in the Lord.” Therefore, believers are to live as children of light, that is, to follow Jesus. Disciples of Jesus Christ are told that the “fruit” of living as children of light is “found in all that is good and right and true.” Knowing what is good, right and true is called discernment. Doing it enables wise living.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom”, Proverbs 9:10a. Being a “God-fearer” is foundational for wise living. God has revealed what He wants us to know of Him through His word written. Fearing God because He is the Creator, who made everything for Himself gives the right perspective for all of life’s choices.

The right application of God’s word is wisdom. Therefore discernment to know what is right requires knowledge of what God has said.

The Bible reveals that God is good, righteous and true. All three are attributes of the One True God. To know the One True God one must know His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. As the Father is the source, discernment only grows through a personal and intimate knowledge of His Son, Jesus. Discernment is a learned ability rather than a gift and is available to everyone who professes Christ.

Discernment leads to wise living. Wise living follows the way of blessing. God said the way of blessing was to obey Him. Conversely, He warned that a cursed life would follow the one who disobeyed Him. I have yet to meet someone who wanted to live a cursed life. Yet, by ignorance or avoidance of God’s word, we head towards destruction. Don’t be fooled by those who say that they will do what they think is right. Know what is right. Then do it.

The key to discernment is to know what is right, good and true. The method for knowing is not easy, but is a blessing. The method is the systematic, intense study of the Bible and the theology which proceeds from it. This is not only a personal endeavor. God has ordained that we grow in discernment and wisdom corporately. I am speaking of the necessity of growing in a church that teaches “sound doctrine”, Titus 2:1.

The Apostle Paul addressed the barrier to growth in discernment and it is recorded in 2Timothy 3. He wrote of the “last days”, those days between Jesus’ first and second coming. Paul said that people would be “lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.”

Paul was not describing the world in general. He was describing the visible church corrupted by those who only looked godly. He gave a timeless answer. The answer then was for Timothy to continue in what he learned and firmly believed. Paul reminded Timothy that all Scripture was breathed out by God and it’s the Scriptures which are able to make the believer “competent and equipped for every good work.” God’s answer remains the same. The visible church is the place for growth in discernment through personal and corporate study of all that is good, right and true.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Comfortable Confession”

“The Comfortable Confession”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

One of the most practical books of the Bible is the letter of James. James was the half-brother of Jesus. James may have written this letter as early as 40 A.D. In his introduction, James called himself a “bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” James did not consider himself to have a more special relationship to the Risen Lord Jesus than any other believer. His letter is often described as the “Proverbs” of the New Testament. The Epistle of James provides very practical insight for living the Christian Life.

Early in his ministry, the great Reformer Martin Luther called James a “straw epistle.” Yet in his later writings, Luther saw the connection between the Apostle Paul’s writing and James’. Specifically, whereas Paul defined the gift of faith through which God justified a believer, declared a sinner “right” with Him. James defined what that gift of faith actually looked like in the life of one who possessed it. James was not writing about earning one’s salvation, as Luther first thought. Rather, James declared the kind of behavior exhibited by one who possessed saving faith.

A “comfortable confession” is one that accommodates evil rather than exposes it. A comfortable confession of Christ avoids the attack of the evil one by ignoring it. Luther wrote this, “Also it does not help that one of you would say: ‘I will gladly confess Christ and his Word on every detail, except that I may keep silent about one or two things which my tyrants may not tolerate… For whoever denies Christ in one detail or word has denied the same Christ in that one detail who was denied in all the details, since there is only one Christ in all His words, taken together or individually.”

James 4:7 commands the one who possesses saving faith to “Submit to God and resist the devil and he will flee from you.” It is at the very point at which Satan and evil present themselves that the Christian is commanded to resist it, literally standing against it.

This is the point of attack at which the believer’s confession of Christ becomes uncomfortable. As the believer stands against evil, exposing it he or she is proving himself or herself to be a genuine follower of Christ.

The context of James 4 is critical in our understanding of the cost of following Jesus. The command to resist the devil comes after the proposition that friendship with the world is enmity with God, James 4:4. So then, the word of God puts before the believer the truth that worldliness is directly opposed to God. It is so opposed to God that He has said that to be a friend of the world is to be His enemy.

In accordance with the Epistle of James, a comfortable confession is one that is in friendship with the world and therefore at enmity with God.

I should say that God’s command doesn’t mean that Christians should go out of their way to be offensive! I believe that it does mean that whenever an issue is raised to a level of visibility such that it is put forth for all to see and declared to be the “right and loving” way, Christians are commanded to speak out against what is contrary to God’s word.

Attacks on truth such as redefining marriage, approving of alternative lifestyles, suggesting that abortion is a matter of one’s choice are all points at which Christians are tempted to have a comfortable confession.

When lies such as these are put forth as truth or when men and women suggest that the truth doesn’t matter or is relative, Christians are exhorted by God to expose the lie and the liar, Ephesians 4. It doesn’t matter if these attacks occur in the Church or the Public Sphere. God is sovereign over the government, the church and the family. Truth is absolute. All truth is God’s truth and He is sovereign over all.

The challenge is coming at an ever-increasing rate. Those of us who profess Christ are being confronted by evil. Men seem to regularly call evil good and good evil. God expects His people to act. We are called to be salt and light. Christians do not possess a comfortable confession. We are people who submit to God in every aspect of life. Caution, confession is meaningless unless it’s carried into the world!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “What is Praise?”

“What is Praise?”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
What’s so important about praise? It is necessary to define praise; to identify the object of praise; and to enable deep and critical thought of praise and worship. Look around our great city. We are blessed with an extraordinary number of churches. I suggest that the reason is that we are built for praise and worship. As written previously, “God made us for worship.” Worship includes the act of praising the object of worship.

Webster’s Dictionary defines praise as expressing approval or admiration. It continues the definition by including the idea of giving glory with God as the object. The essential ingredient in praise is that it requires an object.

Since the Garden, men have had the desire to praise. All too often praise was given to other men or places. The desire to praise has been built into us by our Creator. We will praise someone or something that we consider worthy. Praise and worth are intimately connected.

You might take a little test. Think about that which consumes your time and money. Then, consider whether the consumers you identify are worthy of your praise. In other words, would you choose to praise the one(s) to whom you give so much of your time and finances?

You may not agree with me at this point, but I am seeking to get you to think about worth. As you examine the definition it is clear that praise and worth are connected. The psalmist identified the greatest object of worth. Psalm 146, written by a man carried along by the Spirit of God, described a singular commitment to praise God! He said that he would declare praise to God throughout his entire life which he acknowledged was given by God.

Why would he make such a commitment? The answer is God alone is worthy of man’s praise! God alone saves man. Every instance of deliverance from oppression is by the sovereign hand of God. Only God is eternal. Opposed to this all men die. There are no exceptions. The only hope for man is God. Only God gives eternal life, a life that will never end. God raises the dead. He gives those whom He chooses eyes to see the truth, Jesus. Jesus defined eternal life as knowing the one true God and the One whom He sent, Jesus Christ, John 17:3.

In addition, we see injustice all around us robbing us of hope unless we look to God who is perfectly just. The Bible declares that He will execute perfect justice. And, the Bible, God’s word written, is always true and altogether reliable. The psalmist affirmed the holy justice of God and wrote: God “executes justice for the oppressed, (God) gives food to the hungry.” Jesus said that God the Father will provide everything that is needed for His children.

If this isn’t enough to convince you of God’s worthiness to be praised, then know that God is King. He rules all of His Creation. God’s absolute and sovereign rule of all Creation is not relative. That is, you may be thinking that I write such things because I’m a Christian Pastor. Indeed I am. And, not only do I write these things, but I actually believe them! But, to paraphrase a great philosopher, if something is not true for all it’s not true at all. God is the Creator and Ruler of His Universe. Jesus said that “all authority in heaven and on earth” was given to Him. God who made us for worship is the only worthy object. Praise, which is part of worship, is to declare the character and deeds of the object. As we understand praise in this way, we likewise know that God is its only worthy object.

I’ve come to the end. I’ve defined praise to be declaring the character and deeds of its object. I’ve hopefully made a case to demonstrate that God alone is worthy of our praise. And, finally, I hope that I’ve been successful in guiding your thoughts about this very important aspect of life, namely praise.

“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in you that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Why go to church (An answer needed now more than ever)?”

“Why go to church?”
(An answer needed more now than ever)

The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor of Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Over the years, I’ve asked professing Christians this question. Generally, the answers are I go to church because God commands it; I go to church because I want to worship with the people of God; or, I go to church because I want to be fed. Now more than ever, Christians need to have a clear biblical answer to the question, “Why go to church?”

We know that God commanded His people to “keep holy the Sabbath Day.” The “Sabbath Day” was changed by the Apostolic Church to the First Day, Sunday. The Church refers to Sunday as the Lord’s Day. Each Lord’s Day is a celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The question is addressed to Christians, those who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Therefore, it is directed to those who have been born again by the Spirit of God. God ordains the salvation of His elect. First, He Effectually Calls a dead person to come to life. The effect of His call is Regeneration. All men are born dead in sin. God must raise a sinner from death to life. This is what Jesus said is being born again, John 3. The result of regeneration is Conversion, an instantaneous event that begins a process. That is, God converts a sinner to a saint. In doing so, He gives two gifts. One is the gift of faith and the second it the gift of repentance. Those gifts are exercised by those who receive them throughout their lives. The result of turning from sin and turning to Jesus is Justification. Justification is a legal term. God’s declares a sinner to be in right standing before Him only by the merit of Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God covers the sinner with the perfect life of Jesus Christ and transfers the sinner’s sin to Jesus. All this is called double imputation. After justification, God Adopts the sinner into His family. Those changed by God become heirs of His promise in Christ, namely heaven. Following adoption, God begins His work of Sanctification. Literally, as Justification covers the sinner with perfect righteousness, Sanctification is God’s action of making the sinner righteous from the inside out. In Sanctification, the sinner responds to God’s work in him. God promised to make us more and more like Christ. The end result of Sanctification is what is called Glorification. God promised to see us to glory. Every believer will be in glory in heaven. The comforting fact of glorification is that God sees us as already glorified. I would encourage you to read Romans 8:30 and notice that all of the verbs are in the past tense, even glorified.

Returning to the question, a Christian is one whom God has saved. God’s order of salvation revealed in Scripture is: God’s Effectual Call, Regeneration, Conversion, Justification, Adoption, Sanctification and Glorification. Each step along the way is by God’s action. In other words, a Christian is one who has been saved, is being saved and will be saved by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

Christians, those made “new creations” don’t go to church. Christians are the church. The visible church, the one we see, is defined as those who profess faith in Jesus Christ and their children. A more accurate question is “why should I attend corporate worship?”

Now we’re getting to the heart of the matter. God made everyone for worship. Men and woman will worship someone or something. To worship is to bow down to and serve the object of worship. The object of our worship is God.

The worship manual of the Old Testament Church and the New Testament Church, the book of Psalms gives the answer to my question. Psalm 122:1, “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”’ God places in each believer a desire to gather with God’s people to declare His praises and to hear Him speak both in the reading of Scripture and in the Proclamation of Scripture. As a result, believers are edified or if you choose to use this word, fed.

Yes, God commanded corporate worship. But, a believer grows as he understands that corporate worship is more than a duty; it is our desire! So then, has God filled your heart with a desire to worship Him with other believers?

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Foundation of Hope”

The Foundation of Hope
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

The psalmist asked himself a question that many have asked. He received God’s answer. His question was, “Why am I depressed?” God’s answer was because he had no hope! Psalm 42:11, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” ESV

What is this thing called hope? And why is it so important for men and women? Hope can be defined as an eager expectation of fulfillment of a future blessing. When people hope they are expressing trust in or reliance upon the one whom they believe will bring fulfillment. The definition of hope expresses our need to have it. Without hope, we wander aimlessly in life and are tossed around by every one of its circumstances. When we see no future, we naturally get depressed.

There are many expressions of hope. For example, one of my hopes is that my fellow citizens will think critically, especially when irrational or unsubstantiated statements are made. I also hope that we all will examine accomplishments rather than be impressed by rhetoric. We can all remember one who promised “hope and change” yet brought disaster in the form of a change and division that none of us wanted.

Like the hopes mentioned, there are endless arrays of temporal hopes. My hope of a thinking electorate may not come to pass. Yet, knowing that this hope is temporal I will remain positive because I have an ultimate hope which is eternal.

What is this eternal, ultimate hope? Reasonable people know that there is more to life than what is seen. This is not all there is, answering an old ballad. And as there is more to life than this world, there is a greater hope than our political, economic, or personal relationships can offer. It transcends this world and is far above and apart from it.

Ultimate hope is transcendent. No man can give it. In fact, we cannot even give it to ourselves. Only the transcendent being, God can give ultimate hope. The transcendent God, the one who spoke and created everything out of nothing said that ultimate hope is eternal glory. The Apostle Paul writing God’s words said “the mystery hidden for ages but now revealed to His saints” is ultimate hope. He wrote this clear description. Ultimate hope is “Christ in you the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27

It follows that God’s revelation of hope raises at least two questions. The first is easy to understand. Who gives ultimate hope? Clearly, God gives ultimate hope. The second is perhaps easy to see but strikes at the heart of man’s ability. To whom does God give ultimate hope? The former passage declares that ultimate hope is revealed to God’s “saints.” Now, it is necessary to understand what God meant by the word “saints”. Who are saints?

At this point, clarity is essential. Saints are not those who have departed this life and have been determined by some religious body to be holy people. Saints are those who have been set apart by God. Saints in the Bible are those whom God has chosen to be His.

A plain reading of Scripture allows us to see that God chose: a man, Genesis 12; a nation, Deuteronomy 7; and both Jews and Gentiles, Galatians 3. The fact of God’s choosing individuals to be His saints is declared by Apostles Paul and Peter, Romans 9-11 and 1Peter 2.

I have often asked myself why something so clear can be so confusing to some. The only answer that I can reasonably offer is that we do not like to think that God must choose us. We rather like to think that He needs our help in selecting the “right” people. However, it is only necessary to know what God thinks and has said.

The Bible’s clarity on this issue of ultimate hope and its recipients is the greatest comfort and assurance any man or woman can have. Since God gives it no man can take it from you. Much more should be said concerning God’s gift of eternal hope and Lord willing will. But in the interest of space and emphasis in this article I want to leave all who read it with this: God gives ultimate hope, which is eternal glory, to those whom He chose to be in Christ.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Four Most Confrontational Words”

“The four most confrontational words”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

“In the beginning God…” are the four words that upset my world. My hope is that they will upset yours as well! These words are revealed truth which can also be called reality. You know reality is that sticky truth that hits you in the face like a brick wall. Some may think that reality is what you make of it or believe it to be. Try standing in front of a brick wall and imagining that it’s not there. Then try running as fast as you can in the belief (even strongly held) that you’ll just pass through that wall. The result is obvious. So too is the confrontation of these four words.

Just like that wall, God’s words knocked me off my throne. A Christian can see the reality of these four words. The Holy Spirit who regenerates sinners also illumines their minds so that these words and all of God’s word can be applied. Yet, reality and truth are true for all or not true at all.

Genesis 1:1 declared clearly that there was a time nothing existed; therefore, God made everything out of nothing! Nothing existed in the beginning except God Himself. He spoke and all things leapt into existence. This God changed me. He made me a new creation. His words told me that I had no right to claim the throne of my life, to think that I was “in charge.”

In making me a new creation, He gave me new desires, specifically a new desire, a profound and deep desire for Him. The Great “I Am” is the only self-existent being. All things that exist proceed from Him. I am because He is. We know Him in Jesus who said, “Let Me tell you how to say Yahweh in Greek (I’m paraphrasing). It is Jesus.” (read the “I Am” sayings in John’s Gospel).

The confrontation came when I realized that He alone had the right to claim ownership of me and sovereign control of my life. There was no other reasonable response that a creature (me) could make to the Creator. Since all existence proceeds from Him, “In Him we live and move and have our being”, Acts 17:28 ESV, the claim of an absolute self-determination is unachievable.

At the risk of repeating myself, let me re-phrase. Before there was anything there was God. He chose a time to make everything out of nothing. Opposed to this is the view of eternal matter. A once great philosopher of the 21st Century said, “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” Acceptance of this view, in my opinion, requires a blind leap of faith into the dark rather than a step into the light.

King David said it best, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.” Psalm 19:1, ESV

Considering God’s confrontation of Man’s idea of an autonomous, self-directed control over life, the question must be asked. How do you or have you responded to the reality that you are not in control?

The critic might say that this view of reality is demeaning and renders men and women to be pawns. But just the opposite is true. Understanding that you’re not God and He is brings you to the profound realization that He has condescended to reach down and bless man above all creatures. David wrote in Psalm 8:5 about man, “You have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.” This supremely points to Jesus Christ but is significant for the entire human race.

You are free to ignore this reality. But, for the sake of repetition, it would be like ignoring the wall I mentioned in my introduction. So then, “How do you respond to the truth that you’re a creature made by the Sovereign Creator?

If you’ve gotten this far, I believe that another question has arisen in your mind. And this is a necessary question: “If God has sovereign, supreme authority, and control, why am I responsible for my actions?” An honest question deserves an honest answer. Much more should be said on the subject but let me suggest a beginning to the answer. A biblical principle, one grounded in logic is that God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility are not a contradiction. All men are responsible for what they do, there is no exception. Yet, God is sovereign over every action.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “All Life Maters”

“All Life Matters!”
(Especially babies in the womb)
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

Politicians convince people of the most amazing things simply by claiming that whatever it is will be in the interest of our children. I want to affirm the importance of children’s lives, in fact, I want to declare that all lives matter. Also, the importance of human life is not rooted in politics. The issue of life is a moral issue.

If we are serious about the importance of all life, we must address the most dangerous issue of our life. The issue to which I refer is abortion. The staggering fact is that since 1973, more than 62 million babies have been killed through abortion. Further, worldwide, almost 1.2 billion babies have had their lives snuffed out by the evil of abortion.

In this day of so-called scientific enlightenment, denying that the life of a human being begins at conception would seem to any reasonable person to be unbelievable.

I stand with those who say, “Let’s stop the violence.” Indeed, let’s stop it right now. Stand for the sanctity of human life. All people, especially Christians are accountable to the God of life to speak out against the moral evil of abortion.

God set human life apart and sanctified it!

Since, the mid Seventies, the “Progressives” have given government the authority to remove the right to life given by our Creator. As Francis Schaeffer wrote in 1981, “The dignity of human life is not some peripheral issue,” The Christian Manifesto. The value that a society places upon human life represents the overall worth of that society.

The protection of human life is not something upon which we can agree to disagree. It is not simply a political issue. The dignity of human life is an absolute! The right to live is given by God who is the source of life. He breathed into Man the breath of life, Genesis 2:7. Human life is sacred because the Creator, God made it so.

Secular Humanism has clouded the mind of our culture. In a culture where there are no absolutes, men make decisions based upon personal preference. Our culture is governed by moral relativism. Everything is considered relative. There are no absolutes except that there are no absolutes. Yet, the dignity of human life is an absolute.
Our very own Declaration of Independence stated clearly both the source of life and its inherent value. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Founders of our country declared that the source of life was God and that life is an undeniable right given by Him, therefore an absolute.
Further, when God gave the Law through Moses to His people, He included a commandment against murder, Exodus 20:13. The word translated kill or murder in the 6th Commandment is understood to mean the unlawful taking of life. Only God can authorize the taking of life. God’s highest consequence for the taking of life is the life of the one who took it.

The 6th Commandment is not only a prohibition for Man, but it reveals the character of God, as do all the Commandments. That is, God is for life not death. Jesus said that God is the God of the living, Matthew 22:32. Jesus also said that He is the life, John 14:6.

God has called His people to be light in this dark world. Christians are to stand for the truth, not only in the circle of believers, but also wherever God has placed them. My concern is that Christians will allow the discussion of human life to center on personal choices rather than moral absolutes. However, whether you are a Christian or not I urge you to speak for those who have no one to speak for them. Speak for the unborn babies. The statistics overwhelmingly demonstrate that the most dangerous place for our children is not in schools, crowds, etc. but in the womb.

May the God of life bless your efforts to speak for our children. Pray for the protection of unborn babies and their mothers. Pray that the Lord will cause more of our citizens to see God’s blessing of human life from the womb to the tomb. May He be glorified in all things.