Category Archives: Pastor’s Blog

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Sola Gratia (By Grace Alone, A Personal Story)”

“Sola Gratia (By Grace Alone, A Personal Story)”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

I was snatched from the pit of hell on January 29, 1986. The day started normally. But, on my way to my office at the Nuclear Power Plant in Crystal River, Florida, I was broadsided by a semi-truck. It occurred about 7:30 in the morning. I was told that the paramedics had to cut me out of my car. I awoke four days later in a hospital in Gainesville, FL with one desire and many broken bones. My one desire was for Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible. The God of truth and grace opened my eyes to the world and to His beauty. My only thought was to run to Him. There was no struggling on my part in deciding whether to choose Jesus. I didn’t have the C.S. Lewis experience of being dragged into the kingdom. The thought of running from Jesus never entered my mind.

Not long after the accident, Jesus’ words in John’s gospel burned into my mind and traveled to my heart. “Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3 ESV, italics added).

Let me be frank, before that day, I had no such desire for Jesus. Oh, I thought that I was a good person, as most people do. I thought that as long as I was better than most, the god of my making would welcome me. After all, doesn’t the Bible say that God is love? Surely it does! (See 1 John 4:8.) But the Bible also says that God is “holy, holy, holy” (Isaiah 6:3). I never thought about the justice of God. He never sets aside His justice. He extends mercy only because of the sacrifice of Jesus which alone satisfies God’s justice.

Before my “accident,” I never knew the one true God. I know now that I was dead. I used to think that all this “born again” stuff was for the weak minded. But the reality, the truth of what I lived was that dead men don’t do anything. I was unconscious. I couldn’t have saved myself. I couldn’t even get out of my hospital bed. On my best day, I didn’t know that I was lost and headed to hell. God had to act. He did, and I look back in amazement that He chose me! Yes, I responded to Him, but I only responded to His action. I often hear that if one believes he will be born again. How foolish! It is erroneous to tell people that we are made new creations by our own wisdom and ability. How can a dead person believe? The truth is “Ye must be born again” in order to believe! The Bible says: “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Every person is born spiritually dead. We are unable to reach out to God and live (see Genesis 3:22-24). God had to act to save me, and He did!

As I look back through the lens of God’s word at what God did to save me, I see every aspect of my life as part of God’s sovereign plan. Even when I didn’t know God, He was directing my path in accordance with His will. I thought that I was making choices. And I was, but my choices had already been planned by the Sovereign God. Think about this when you are wondering how you got to where you are: “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). The words of Jesus in John 6:44 make perfect sense as I look at my life in Christ: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.”

May I suggest a principle for life that may bring you comfort and assurance? I have been saved by God from God for God.

The God who saved me has spoken and continues to speak. His word is without error and absolutely reliable because He is. As a result, all experiences must be informed by Scripture and mine is not an exception. I have the assurance that I belong to God because He has said that assurance is of the essence of Faith (Hebrews 11:1).

My experience of God’s saving grace is an opportunity to praise Him. “The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20b).

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Justice or Mercy”

“Justice or Mercy”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

“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?” (Micah 6:8).

God spoke through the Prophet Micah during a time of prosperity. He required His people to do justice and to love kindness (mercy) and to walk humbly before Him.

This divine imperative is simple and bears repeating. Do justice. Love Mercy. Live with a right assessment of ourselves before a sovereign God. God said that this is good. In light of this clear declaration, no one needs to struggle to know what is good.

Our good God commanded His people to do justice. God’s people are accountable to seek and apply justice. As God ordained civil authorities, He placed upon them the responsibility to rule and govern justly. What then is justice? In part, justice is fair treatment based on the law.

Therefore, the application of justice requires a standard. Our civil government operates under such a standard. It is the rule of law. When authorities consider themselves above the law anarchy is not far behind. An orderly and safe society requires all citizens and their leaders to obey the rules of law that govern them.

So it is for the church. The authority of the church is under the word of God. Christ is the King and Head of the church. He exercises His Lordship through His word. Authority in the church is a granted authority. That which is just and right is determined from the Bible, the church’s standard.

The Bible teaches that to do justice is to do what is right. That which is just is right and fair based upon the standard which is the word of God written.

Micah 6:8 also declares another critical concept. The prophet called God’s people to love kindness. The original word is also translated lovingkindness, steadfast love, or mercy. The word reflects the very character of God. Justice and mercy are not opposite sides of the same coin. Mercy stands in contrast to justice. Justice applies the rule of law. Mercy is granted to lawbreakers. Justice is deserved. Mercy is underserved and can only be granted by the benevolent action of a ruler. Mercy and grace are the unmerited favor of God.

Following the revealed truth of God’s word, all men deserve justice. The just and right action of the holy God is condemnation. The Bible is clear on this point throughout. From Genesis to Revelation, God has revealed that all men are born spiritually dead. All men are born in bondage to sin. Sin is defined as lawlessness by the Apostle John (1 John 3:4). Adam’s sin is inherited by every human being. The Apostle Paul wrote that “sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).

Left on our own, we are all children of God’s wrath (Ephesians 2:3). It’s at this point that the cry “It’s not fair” is often heard. The offense of the truth causes men to define God in their own view. I’ve heard the statement, “My God is a God of love. He wouldn’t send people to hell. It’s not fair or loving.” My response is that the God defined in that statement is not the God of the Bible. God has revealed Himself as “Holy, holy, holy” (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8).

In the light of God’s holy justice, how can we hope to be saved? The apostles, prophets, and Jesus called people to repent and believe in the gospel. This is God’s ordained means to deliver men and women from this present darkness. The question that lays beneath God’s command to repent and believe in the gospel is “How?”. How are men born dead in sin able to repent and believe? The only possible answer is by God’s grace. God extends grace to those whom He chooses. God said that He will have mercy on whom He has mercy (Romans 9:15).

King David wrote Psalm 51. He was confronted in his sin. David did the only thing that is possible. He threw himself upon the mercy of God. This is the truth of man’s only hope. There are only two alternatives. You will either experience God’s perfect justice or receive His mercy.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “How the Mighty Fall!”

“How the Mighty Fall!”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
All earthly kings have a very high opinion of themselves. There was a king whose opinion of himself reached to the heavens. He thought so much of himself that he made a golden image for his subjects to worship. He commanded all people to worship the idol he made under penalty of death. This king’s name was Nebuchadnezzar. His acts are recorded in the book of Daniel.

The main revelation of chapters three and four of Daniel is the absolute sovereignty of the one true God. Yet, there are many lessons that apply directly to us. One is the example of the three Hebrews: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. These three men demonstrated an unyielding reliance upon God. They were willing to be burned alive rather than worship the false god erected by the king. Another lesson revealed to us through these men is the faithfulness of God. In the midst of the flames, one like “a son of the gods” was with them. God’s promise to be with His people, as declared in Joshua 1:5 and repeated in Hebrews 13:5, was demonstrated by His presence with the three men in the fiery furnace.

God revealed His sovereignty and His faithfulness, and the three Hebrews demonstrated saving faith in God. But there is more to learn. There is a timely lesson for all professing Christians. No matter what power rulers or public officials claim for themselves, we know that there is One who has absolute power and authority. Jesus declared that He has all power and authority in heaven and on earth (Mat 28:18), and He will have the last word. Daniel and his three friends lived under a foolish, pompous, and self-serving king, and they were fully convinced of the truth of God’s sovereignty.

Daniel was given a vision of the Son of God having all power and dominion (Daniel 7:13-14). Daniel saw in the night visions one like a son of man coming with the clouds. Daniel’s vision was a glimpse of the pre-incarnate Christ.

I find it necessary to remember the sovereignty of God as I hear current news and events. We are experiencing the breakdown of the rule of law in our nation. We have so-called elected leaders who appear to ignore the laws of our land. We have leaders who see themselves as being accountable to no one. There are others who have apparently abdicated their responsibility to hold their fellow civil servants accountable. We are fooled into electing men and women who promise to be something that they are not. Every day it seems that we are seeing our country coming apart at the seams.

The lesson learned by King Nebuchadnezzar provides hope for God’s people, those who place their trust in the only One who has all authority, Jesus Christ.

The king saw himself as the one and only sovereign ruler. No one could question or oppose him. He thought that he was the owner of the world. His was the greatest empire, and he believed it would last forever.

God confronted the king through Daniel. God said that the king would be driven from his kingdom and be driven mad. God brought Nebuchadnezzar to his knees!

One day when the king was surveying all that he owned, God humbled him. The king was made to live as an animal. His appearance was animal-like. He behaved like a wild beast. This once great king who thought he was above everyone and everything was humiliated.

We often pray that God would cause our leaders who have extreme pride, called hubris, to be brought to their knees. No one is too far from God. When we pray this prayer our motives are that those who are full of pride will repent and turn to God for the salvation of their souls.

King Nebuchadnezzar was caused by God to do just that. When the time determined by God was completed, the king regained his senses. The first words out of his mouth were praise to the One who lives forever. He declared the truth of the sovereign majesty of the one true God. He declared his submission to the true God worshiped by Daniel and his three friends.

I remember this factual story and I have hope. Place your hope in the one who will never disappoint you or leave you. Trust in God. He alone is sovereign. Pray that our leaders will learn the reality of God’s sovereignty and that they will govern accordingly.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Resolutions”

“Resolutions”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The first action of 2021 may likely be the same as that of 2020 and all previous “New Year’s.” The action of which I speak is making resolutions. We all tend to think in grand terms. Often, our resolutions fall by the wayside by February. I want to suggest a resolution that we should all seek to implement. May we all seek to “Do what is right!” Not simply what we “think” is right, but what is right.

There is an obvious problem in implementing this resolution. In order to do what is right, one must know what is right. There must be a standard of “right.” The absolute standard of what is right is the word of God, the Bible.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, that the believer is to take every thought captive to the word of Christ, 2Corinthians 10:5. Romans 12:2 is an exhortation to 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.” Believers are to be children of light, that is, Christians follow Jesus by living under His word. 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 only possible through God’s transformation. He has promised to change those whom He calls, regenerates and justifies. He does it by His word and Spirit. Doing what is right is the response of one who has been born again by the Holy Spirit in concert with God’s word.

That which is right proceeds from the attributes of God. He has revealed Himself as good, righteous and true. Those who seek to do what is right are in an intimate relationship with God. This intimacy is only possible by knowing Jesus, God’s only Son. As the Father is the source, knowing the “good” proceeds from intimacy with Him.

Doing the right thing is wise living. Wise living follows the way of blessing. The way of blessing is to obey God. Conversely, God said that a cursed life would follow the one who was disobedient. 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 following someone who commits to do what he thinks is right. First, know yourself what is right. Then do it.

Whereas God is the one working in a believer to do what is right, the believer is not an idle bystander. Christians live responding to the Spirit of God acting in them. God’s means to progressively change His people is the systematic, intense study of the Bible and the theology which proceeds from it. This is not only a personal endeavor but a corporate one. Each local church is accountable before God to “teach what is in accordance with sound doctrine”, Titus 2:1. Every believer is likewise accountable to invest in such a church.

The Apostle Paul addressed the barrier to growth in knowing what is right, 2Timothy 3. Paul wrote 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 described the visible church corrupted by those who only looked godly; those who sought to “tickle” men’s ears. He gave a timeless answer to the problem. Paul’s 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 to grow in knowing what is right as she faithfully teaches the Scriptures.

May you be a part of such a church. May you grow in knowing that which is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely and commendable. May all Christians keep this resolution for the glory of God!

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

“The Christian and the Culture”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The ongoing challenge to our free society provides, I might add compels Christians to think through living in an increasingly adverse culture. Over the centuries of Church History many have considered this issue, E.G. Tertullian, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin and others. This thought process is especially relevant for the Visible Church which sometimes encourages innovation motivated by new cultural norms. I am reminded of Jude’s admonition, “Contend for the faith that was once or all delivered to the saints,” Jude 3.

There have been five views embraced at various times in the history of the Church. For brevity I summarize them as follows:
1. Live against Culture
2. Blend in with Culture
3. Live somehow above the Culture
4. Live in a paradox with the Culture
5. Live seeking to transform the Culture.

To summarize, the question before all who profess Christ, which is to say the visible church which includes those who profess the true religion, and their children is: “What action should I/we take in accordance with my/our profession?”

To answer the question, believers appeal to Scripture. By definition, Christians live in accordance with a biblical/God-centered World View therefore, we see reality (truth) through the lens of Holy Scripture.

Jesus said, “If the world hates you, know that it hated me first… If you were of the world, the world would love you; but because you are not of the world… therefore the world hates you, John 15:18, 19. Jesus also told His disciples that they were His witnesses, Luke 24:48. Jesus gave the church a command. He commanded the church to make disciples of all nations, Matthew 28:19.

The reality that every Christian must face is that living the Christian Life will offend the world. Yet, we are not to live in fear of the world. Jesus said that He is the only one to fear, Matthew 10:28. He said in the same narrative, “Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:32-33

God’s revealed proposition is that the world is opposed to Christ and by implication it is opposed to those who live Christ. The Bible is clear in declaring that Christians are in the world but not of the world, John 17:14ff.

We who profess Christ are aware that following Jesus is opposed to our Culture. We are also aware that Jesus called His followers to be salt and light in the world, Matthew 5:13-16. We dare not hide what we know to be true or live in opposition to the truth of God’s word. Rather we are called to let our light shine… so that the world may see our good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven, Matthew 5:16.

Peter’s first epistle provides a clear application for living the Christian Life. “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” 1Peter 3:15

The Apostle Paul’s declaration to the Pastor Titus gives the church direction in standing for the truth of God. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.” Titus 2:11ff.

God has chosen to reach the lost through His people. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit’s work is to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment, John 16:8.

The way for Christians to live in this culture is to be holy people. God has commanded His people to be holy, Leviticus 11 and 1 Peter 1. Holy people live under the word of God. Holy people live openly before a sinful world. Holy people declare the truth of a holy God. Holy people are ambassadors for Christ.

It is unreasonable even to consider being silent when confronted by godless cultural norms. For the sake of the “lost” the church must declare the truth concerning lifestyles that God has declared to be unholy, sinful and an abomination to Him. Further, the Church is to stand for that which is good, right, and true and confront those who would call evil good and good evil, all for the glory of God!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Miracle of Miracles (The Incarnation)”

The Miracle of Miracles (The incarnation)
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Years ago, I remember sitting in our family room watching a Christian Television Program. The star of the show announced one of his future crusades by calling people to come “expecting a miracle”. The dictionary defines a miracle as a supernatural event.

Naturally, my interest was heightened by such an announcement. Contrary to this showman’s claim, there is a miracle that makes the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ a reality. Our hope rests upon the genuineness of this miracle. The miracle to which I refer is the Incarnation. The meaning of the Incarnation is God in the flesh.

The Prophet Isaiah predicted this miracle. “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14 God’s promise was fulfilled in 4 B.C. with the birth of Jesus. Matthew wrote, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us). Matthew 1:23

The Incarnation was so important that God spoke through His prophets throughout the Old Testament declaring the absolute necessity of the God – Man. It is a miracle that we simply cannot adequately understand, but we receive it as the absolute truth because God said it. Our hope of eternal life is real because the miracle of Jesus’ birth was real.

The Apostle Paul took the opportunity of rivalry and disunity in the church to declare both the explicit and implicit meaning of the Incarnation. “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11 (ESV)

The first explicit revelation is that the Incarnation is the ultimate definition of humility. God, the Creator of all, condescended to lower Himself and take upon Himself human nature. God came to earth as a man. All the while, He remained divine. He voluntarily set aside His glory. No analogy is adequate to describe Jesus’ humiliation in the Incarnation and His crucifixion.

Further, Paul wrote that Jesus was born of woman, born under the law to redeem those who were under the law, Galatians 4:4. Jesus was fully man, but a man without sin! Jesus was born without sin because He was born out of the natural course. He was miraculously born of Mary who conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Because of Jesus’ humility in fully submitting to the Law in obedience to God the Father even unto death upon a cross those who are in Christ are accepted by God because of His blood and righteousness. Apart from Jesus’ Incarnation we would never be able to have a relationship with God. The Incarnation led to the satisfaction of the Law’s demands! Because of His perfect sacrifice our sins have been paid for.

Second, Paul also wrote of Jesus’ exaltation. Because of His perfect obedience to His Father, even to death on a cross, God gave Him the name that is above every name. That name is Lord. The Father gave Jesus to be the Master of all that exists. Jesus said, “all authority in heaven and on earth” was given to Him, Matthew 28:18.

In summation, Paul wrote of God’s purpose in the Incarnation. Everything about the Incarnation is for the glory of God, the Father! The entirety of God’s plan of redemption is for His glory!

The Incarnation leading to Jesus’ resurrection has an implicit affect. The implication is that those who are in Christ have died with Him and are raised with Him. They are joint heirs of heaven with Him.

Christmas is a celebration of this miracle of miracles. Believers celebrate the one who set aside His glory, died for our sins, was raised and now rules all things!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord”

“Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Advent is a season in the Church Year that was instituted so that Christians would heed the warning of the Prophet Isaiah. “A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” Isaiah 40:3. Several hundred years later, John the Baptist came as God’s spokesman to call God’s people to prepare to meet the Messiah by repenting of their sins. He came in the spirit and power of Elijah, Luke 1:17. We are in this season of preparation. We are preparing to celebrate the historical and miraculous event of the Incarnation. God ordained in eternity that His Son would take upon Himself human nature and give Himself as a ransom for many. Jesus, the Messiah prophesied by Isaiah is the God-Man who came in the fullness of time.” He was born under the law to redeem those who were under the law, so that (God’s people) might receive adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:5

John’s message is timeless. Repentance is one of the two gifts God gives to His people at their conversion. The other is faith. Those who have received these gifts from God live them throughout their lives. That is, professing Christians are penitent people. We repent of our sins and confess them knowing that God has promised to forgive our sins and cleanse us from unrighteousness, 1John 1:9. Likewise professing Christians live in reliance on the person and work of Jesus Christ. He is the object of our faith. He is the holy one of God before whom we see the truth of our sinfulness and know that He is life.

The Church is in the midst of the Advent season. Have you been diligent in preparing to celebrate the Incarnation?

Jesus told us how we should prepare in light of John the Baptist’s declaration. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:15

In our country, perhaps in the western world as a whole, preparing to celebrate the Incarnation has been overshadowed by making sure that we’ve managed to buy gifts for family and friends.

I am not suggesting that Christians refrain from buying gifts for others. In fact, giving is an expression of those who have received. But I am suggesting that we remember what we have received and give in response to God’s saving grace.

As a child I remember that Christmas wasn’t fully realized until our whole family went to church on Christmas Eve. It has been our Church Family’s practice to celebrate Christmas Eve with a traditional worship service called, “Lessons and Carols”. It is a worship opportunity to remember God’s Plan to save those whom He chose. The service of Lessons and Carols was first used in 1918 at the Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge.

This 20th Century worship service’s purpose is to worship God by rehearsing God’s plan of Redemptive History. We read nine Scripture Lessons beginning in Genesis and ending with John’s gospel. As we hear from God, we respond in song with familiar Christmas Carols. Our aim is to turn our minds to God’s grace in saving His people. As God’s word is read, we are reminded that God established His plan of redemption in eternity. The Father and the Son made a covenant. The Son agreed to give His life to redeem those whom the Father chose before the world began.

If you have not thought of preparing to celebrate Christmas in this way, I would encourage you to begin. Celebrate the Incarnation by attending corporate worship on each Lord’s Day and especially if your church is gathering on Christmas Eve. All are welcome to join us on December the 24th at 5:30 PM in this worship celebration.

Jesus called all to “repent and believe in the gospel.” God has ordained that outside of the church there is no ordinary means of salvation. As you come to worship, come expecting to hear the good news that Jesus came and died for the sins of His people and that His work of redemption has been confirmed by His bodily resurrection. This is the gospel by which you are being saved, if you receive it in faith and live by it. 1Corinthians 15:1-4

May this season of Advent be one of holy preparation as you remember God’s incomparable gift of His only Son, Jesus.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Be not anxious”

“Be not anxious”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Philippi and said, “Do not be anxious for anything…” Philippians 4:6 He echoed the words of Jesus. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” Matthew 6:25

King David also wrote of the same principle of life for a believer. He said, “Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers!” Psalm 37:1

The Bible doesn’t only give prohibitions like this. The word of God also reveals positive action that is emblematic of one who knows the Lord. Worry has a positive action in contrast to it.

“Trust in the LORD… Delight yourself in the LORD… Commit your way to the LORD.” Psalm 37:3, 4 and 5. Trusting in, delighting in and committing to the Lord is the stark contrast to worry and anxiety.

The more I read and study the Bible, the more I am confronted by the majesty of God and His grace of giving His words such that they can be understood. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” 2Timothy 3:16-17

The clarity and efficacy of the word is essential in combatting worry and anxiety. God has said that the one who trusts in Him is not to worry or be anxious about anything. I find myself being anxious about many things. I worry about many things and God convicts me as His Spirit works in concert with His word to change me.

God is faithful even when believers are faithless, 2Timothy 2:13. Faithfulness is an attribute of God and God cannot deny Himself! Therefore, He will convict you when you worry and are anxious.

I admit that I often worry about the kind of world in which my children and grandchildren will live. I worry about the condition of the evangelical church that seems to be more in love with the world than her Head, Jesus. I’m anxious concerning chronic illness experienced by the ones I love.

The Spirit of God convicts me of my sins of worry and anxiety reminding me that the God who saved me is sovereign over all. He reminds me that Jesus has all authority in heaven and earth. He tells me that the church does not belong to any man, but to Christ alone. He said that even the gates of hell would not prevail against His church!

The sins of worry and anxiety must be confessed. They are sins for which Christ died. He already paid the penalty for these sins and every sin that everyone who belongs to Him has, or will commit.

It is pure joy to know that God has promised to forgive me of my sins if I confess them. He has promised to forgive my sins and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness, 1John 1:9.

There is no other way to combat the sins of worry and anxiety but to know the one true God. There is only one way. His name is Jesus. He is the God-Man. He has risen from the grave. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father ruling all things.

Please don’t misunderstand me. We Christians are commanded to contend for the faith. Those who know the Lord have a passion that the lost will come to know Him too. If we truly know the sovereignty of God, we will obey His command to disciple the nations. We will seek to equip ourselves to be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks us for a reason for the hope that we have, 1Peter 3:15

Likewise, we are accountable before God to be salt and light in the world. We are to be concerned about our witness. We should seek to make a difference in society for the glory of the God who promised to provide all our needs. We are expected to expose evil and seek to do good.

May the Holy Spirit convict you to trust in, delight in and commit your way to the Lord as you cast all your cares upon Him and then live it out!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “So, you expect to be trusted!”

“So, you expect to be trusted!”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Trust is a precious commodity. Once lost it may never be restored. People tend to develop trust in an individual in whom they see character. There are public figures who want to be trusted yet are held at “arm’s length” because of deceptive and weak behavior, as well as empty promises.

We know that character concerns a person’s morals and ethics. Character is developed over an extended period of time. We can look at a person’s past and make an assessment of how he or she will act in the future. For example, a person’s record of telling the truth is invaluable in determining that person’s character.

The biblical record of the lives of Joseph and Moses are examples of men of godly character. As you read their stories, the first thing that should come to mind is that these men are not perfect. The Bible does not fail to describe their faults as well as their virtues.

Genesis 39 is a significant part of Joseph’s life that reveals his character. Joseph became a successful man. He was put in charge of the household of an officer of the Pharaoh. We read that the LORD was with Joseph. Joseph had an ongoing relationship with the LORD. As a child, Joseph thought he was of special privilege. As you may recall, his superior attitude angered his brothers to such a degree that they plotted to kill him, but ended up selling him as a slave.

Years later, Joseph who walked with the LORD was blessed by Him. He became very successful. His character was tested at this very comfortable point in his life. The beautiful wife of the officer who entrusted his household to Joseph sought to seduce him. Joseph resisted and Moses recorded what he said. “… “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge… How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”’ Genesis 39:8ff

Nevertheless Potiphar’s wife persisted in seduction. The Bible records Joseph’s action to flee from her presence so definitively that she grasped his garment in her hand. The officer’s wife wrongly accused Joseph. Her testimony was believed which resulted in Joseph’s imprisonment.

Even in the midst of this injustice Joseph never turned from trusting in the Lord and pursuing godliness. Joseph’s life was a foreshadowing of Christ’s perfect life which is the absolute standard of perfect character. Jesus said of Himself, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29

In order to have the kind of character that Joseph had one must be humble. Humility is a virtue which enables the one who has it to rightly assess himself before God. Jesus said that He was gentle and lowly in heart. The word from which both gentle and lowly are derived can also be translated as humble. The Bible calls Christians to imitate God in Christ, Cf. Ephesians 5:1, in response to being made new creations, Cf. 2Corinthians 5:17.

The Apostle Paul wrote of Jesus’ humility in Philippians 2:6-11. Even though He was God, He did not consider Himself to be equal to God, but He humbled Himself by taking upon Himself human nature. Jesus’ humility extended to obeying the Father even to death upon the cross.

The human author of the story of Joseph was himself a humble man. Moses wrote of himself, “Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.” Numbers 12:3 The Spirit of God inspired Moses to write these words about himself when his leadership was challenged by two people who were the closest to him.

Like Joseph, Moses’ life demonstrated his trust in the LORD. Even when Moses sinned and God forbid him to enter the Promised Land, he endured the consequence of his sin and continued to obey God.

Character is the measure of a man or a woman. Behavior reveals character and it matters profoundly. Men and women of character are humble and can be trusted. Their character is seen over time.

A trustworthy person is a person of character. A person of character tells the truth and keeps his word. Jesus said, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” Matthew 5:37

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Happy Thanksgiving!”

Happy Thanksgiving!
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
We are blessed to live in a country that sets a day aside for giving God thanks. As you know, George Washington set one day apart to thank God for His providence. Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving Day to be a national holiday in 1863. He called for special prayer for all who had lost loved ones and for God to heal the nation.

We all have many things for which to be thankful, our spouse, our children, our church, our homes and our nation. Yet our tendency as sinful human beings is to see the glass half empty rather than half full.

We look at those things that are not to our liking or are less than desirable and complain about them. It seems distasteful, even contrary to thank God for everything, even those “bad” things. But that’s exactly what God’s will is for us. He said to give thanks in all circumstances, Philippians 4:6; 1Thessalonians 5:18. Believers know that all things work together for those who love God, those who are called according to His purpose, Romans 8:28.

Giving thanks to God is a response of one who has been changed by Him. It is informative to look back at one of the greatest celebrations in the Bible. It was a thanksgiving service! 1Chronicles 16 records King David’s preparation and implementation of a thanksgiving worship service. His motivation was the return of the Ark of the Covenant. David organized this great worship service to, “invoke, to thank and to praise the LORD.” 1Chr. 16:4 The Ark was a visible sign of God’s faithfulness to His covenantal promise made to His people.

The Ark contained the stone tablets upon which God wrote the Ten Commandments. There was also with the Ark in the Holy of Holies, the golden urn containing the manna from heaven and the budded staff of Aaron.

King David knew that the people of God needed a visible reminder of His providence. As a man of God, David knew that God’s people were commanded to thank Him. The Ark of the Covenant was a constant reminder that God would be faithful to His promise made to Abraham and his seed, Genesis 17:7. God demonstrated His faithful providence by providing food for Israel in the wilderness. Jesus confirmed God’s faithfulness. The Father always provides His people’s needs, Matthew 6:25-32.

God’s people in the wilderness were as fickle as are we. Even though God gave them a sign of His leading them through Moses and Aaron rebellion broke out regularly. As a visible sign of Aaron’s leadership God caused his staff to bud. God told Moses to keep that budded staff before the people to remind them of His chosen leadership. It continued as a reminder of God’s promise to lead His people by His chosen instruments.

Now, consider what God has given to us! We have been given God’s word written. We hear Him every time we read His word. Every Christian has been given the Holy Spirit who works in concert with the Word to change us and speak to our hearts. God has said that believers can approach His throne of grace with confidence because Jesus has given them access through His shed blood. As we come to the Father in our quiet moments, He has promised to hear us and to answer our prayers in ways that are beyond what we ask or think.

In addition, Christians are told by the Holy Spirit that they are children of God, Romans 8:16. Believers have God’s constant presence leading and protecting them. Believers have eternal security. Believers have been given a clear revelation of God’s plan of redemption in the Bible. Christians, therefore, should have a greater desire to give thanks to God. The Church of Jesus Christ belongs to Him. He is the head and king of the Church. The most fundamental reason to give thanks to God is His grace of adoption, Galatians 3:26-29. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” 1John 3:1

If you have been adopted by God through faith alone in Christ alone thank Him every day and set apart a time during this Thanksgiving Season to gather with His people to corporately thank Him for what He has done in Christ. Believer never cease to give God thanks for all His provisions.