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Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Stand for Life!”

Stand for Life!”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

We continue to hear some of the most astounding things from politicians. Great concern, rightly so, is expressed over the plight of children being used as pawns to cross our Southern border. It is right that there is concern and compassion for the health and safety of the most vulnerable members of the world. But there is a great hypocrisy! Many of our civil leaders’ express concern for the children of people seeking to enter our country illegally. Yet, there is a segment of not only our country but of the world that is forgotten, not defended and for whom there is no expressed compassion. I’m referring to unborn babies, those human beings still in their mother’s womb.

The World Health Organization recently reported that the greatest cause of human death in the world was abortion. They reported that more than 40 million babies were killed world-wide in 2018 by abortion. Further, the staggering fact in our country is that since 1974, 60+ million babies have been killed through abortion.

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

In the interest of our children, I stand with those who say, “Stand for Life”! Christians are accountable to the God of life to speak out against the evil of abortion and take a stand for life.

Why should the Christian Church stand for the sanctity of human life? The answer is clear and simple. God is for life. He set apart human life 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 protection of human life is not something upon which we can agree to disagree. 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 authority over life.

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. I have written on the sanctity of human life for two reasons. The third Sunday of January is designated as “Sanctity of Human Life Sunday” and because of foreign children placed at risk during attempts of illegal border crossings.

I urge professing Christians to remember those who can’t defend themselves, the unborn. We are blessed to live in a country where we can legally speak for the unborn. The statistics overwhelmingly demonstrate that the most dangerous place for our children is in the womb. Therefore, speak up; stand for life!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Meaning of Worship”

“The meaning of worship”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
All men will worship someone or something. Our Creator made us to worship Him! There is a worship that is acceptable to God and worship that is rejected by Him. The Letter to the Hebrews exhorts believers to offer acceptable worship to God, “for our God is a consuming fire.” Heb. 12:28, 29.

One thing is clear. Biblical worship is an offering to God. God is the one to whom worship is given! He is the object of worship. He is the determiner of “acceptable” worship. Genesis 4 describes worship that God considered acceptable and worship that He rejected. God accepted Abel’s worship because he offered it by faith. Cain’s worship was rejected, Hebrews 11:4.

The secular world offers this definition of worship. It is defined in the American Heritage Dictionary, in part, as “reverent love and devotion accorded a deity, an idol, or a sacred object.” The source of the word “worship” “is an Old English compound word, “worth-ship.” It described the loyalty and obedience that a knight offered to his sovereign. In kneeling down before the king, the knight would bow his head, offering the back of his neck to the king’s sword. In so doing the knight was visibly displaying to the king that his life would be forfeit if he failed to serve the king.

In general, worship is foundationally about our primary relationship. It is about our relationship to God. He made us to worship Him. But because all men are born dead in sin, they seek to make their own gods in order to satisfy their need to worship. Even in the evangelical church, many have turned worship into a “felt need”. That is, worship is about us, entertaining us, having time with friends, or, purposed in making us “feel good.” John Calvin said this, “Every one of us is, from his mother’s womb, expert in inventing idols.” Acts II: 413

Therefore, within the Covenant of Grace, God declared that He alone is the one to be worshiped, Exodus 20:1-3. God said that His people were forbidden from bowing down to or serving any man-made image or likeness of God, Exodus 20:4-5. He declared that He is the LORD and besides Him there is no God, Isaiah 45:18. Further, any worship that is not based in God’s word is false and is idolatry, John 4:23-24.

“The light of nature shows that there is a God, who has lordship and sovereignty over all… and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served… But the acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by Himself…” (the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 21, par. 1)

Paul quoted the Psalms and wrote that no one seeks after God, Romans 3:11. God has made His existence plain for all to see by what He has made, yet men suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Man is eager to fulfill his God-given desire to worship and often does by erecting idols. Idols are those things that control how we live.

Normally, we don’t see people bowing down to or serving carved images. Yet, we must honestly reflect upon those things that we seem to value the most and serve. In other words, what things, experiences, or people do we love, honor or obey more than God?

When God is truly worshiped, the Lordship of Christ is acknowledged by submitting to His word. The words, love, honor and obey are relational words that describe our primary relationship. In this primary relationship, God is the one who established its requirements. Jesus said, “The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24

We know that worship is not only a weekly event. Worship is what we do every moment, every day of our lives. In applying the words of Jesus quoted above, God through the Apostle Paul, made the daily reality of worship clear to those who have experienced His saving grace. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12:1

May you gather with others who seek to offer acceptable worship to God each Lord’s Day.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Resolutions”

“Resolutions”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
This is the time of the year when we look back and look ahead. We look back over the year that is coming to a close and remember all those blessings. There are special blessings from God that have lifted our spirits and there have been challenges and even times of grieving that caused me to examine my life in Christ.

We look ahead to the New Year and make commitments to set goals and objectives in life. We’ve been told that if we don’t set goals, we’re assured of not meeting any! We set career goals and personal goals that concern our lifestyle and financial security. Yet, rarely do Christians think in terms of ultimate goals, goals that witness their position before God in Christ. Goals that testify to an eternal perspective.

I know that through all of the challenges and blessings God continues to change me and grow me up in Christ and I give Him thanks for it. Every year, my main resolution is the same. I resolve to persevere looking to Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of my faith, Hebrews 12:2. My ultimate goal, my resolution is that my entire life be used to glorify God and lift high the Name of Jesus.

This resolution is not unique to me. It is certain for everyone who is in Christ. It’s a resolution motivated by God in the heart of a believer. Using a theological term, this resolution is called sanctification. Sanctification is God’s work of free grace to make one whom He has justified more like Christ. This work of God is not optional. God will change everyone who is in Christ from the inside to make him holy. Holiness, sanctification, is God’s work to progressively make the one in Christ more and more like Him.

Those in Christ are chosen by God! “… He (God the Father) chose us in Him (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” Ephesians 1:4 Notice that God the Father acted by choosing men and women before He laid the foundation of the world. He chose them to be in Christ. This is all by the sovereign will and action of God. This truth revealed by God is called Unconditional Election.

So then, those who are in Christ are there solely by the grace of God, Ephesians 2:8-9. God makes Christians! It is necessary to be clear on what it means to be a Christian. A genuine Christian is a sinner chosen by God to be holy in Christ. God does this through the gospel. The gospel is God’s power to save, Romans 1:16. God raises a dead sinner to life and through God’s gift of faith the sinner places his trust in Jesus as He is offered in the gospel.

Salvation doesn’t end there. The ultimate resolution that will be kept is that Christians will be made holy. The Bible makes this statement, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful – for He cannot deny Himself.” 2Timothy 2:13 Further, God has said, “… He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

God’s will for those who are in Christ is holiness, 1Thessalonians 4:3. God will complete what He starts but those who are in Christ are not robots. Christians are exhorted to work out their salvation because God is at work in them, Philippians 2:12-13. I have been made a Christian by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. He causes me to pursue holiness. I have assurance that I am in Christ by my desire to obey Him. God confirms that I belong to Him by His Spirit speaking to my spirit, Romans 8:16.

It is a tremendous joy to know that you belong to God. He accepts us as we are and loves us so much that He will not let us stay that way. He causes His children to both make the resolution to pursue holiness and keep it. The Bible teaches that we will not be perfect this side of heaven. But, when we leave this life and enter the next, we will be absolutely pure, perfect and our holiness will be brought to completion.

May you by God’s grace make the resolution to pursue holiness this year and all that follows knowing that God is working in you!

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

“The Christian and the Culture”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The time for Christians to think deeply about how they are to live in a culture that seems to be decaying before their eyes is more important now than in more recent times. This is not a new phenomenon. Over the centuries, recorded in Church History, many have considered this important issue, E.G. Tertullian, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin and others.

Books have been written outlining various Christian Lifestyles. There are generally five views that have been put forth by Christendom. There is the view that Christians are to live against the Culture. Secondly, some say that Christians should blend in with the Culture. Thirdly, others maintain that Christians are above the Culture. Fourthly, there is a view that Christians and the Culture are in paradox, contradicting realities. And, fifthly, Christians are to seek to transform the Culture.

To summarize, the question before those who profess Christ is: “Should Christians express what they know to be true or simply co-exist?”

In order to answer the question, believers appeal to 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 15:8, 9. 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’s system is opposed to Christ and by implication it is opposed to those who follow Christ. The Bible is clear in declaring that Christians are in the world but not of the world, John 17:14ff. God has said to His people, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 3:20

Believers are aware (or should be) that following Jesus is counter- cultural. Also, 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 biblical way for Christians to live in this culture is to pursue holiness. God commands His people to be holy, Leviticus 11 and 1 Peter 1. Holy people live under the word of God. Holy people declare the truth of a holy God. Thereby, holy people are ambassadors for Christ.

Believers ought not be silent in a culture that calls good evil and evil good. For the sake of the “lost”, and more importantly the glory of God, the church must always declare the truth. God’s word is truth, John 17:17. I pray that all of God’s people would be so willing to speak the truth in love.

“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Imago Dei (The Image of God)”

“Imago Dei (The Image of God)”
The Rev. Louis B. Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

The world tells us that our value as human beings is based upon our current or potential contribution 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. I suggest that human life has been given a unique value by the Creator. Genesis 1:26a, “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” God said that we all bear His image! For the creature to bear the image of the Creator sets mankind’s value at an extreme level.

At this point, atheists have nothing to say about mankind. The fact is: there is a God. His existence is undeniable. He has made His divine attributes known by all that He has made, Romans 1:19-20. The Bible says there is no other reasonable explanation for the world around us.

But this article is not about the existence of God, directly. Yet, His existence is the basis for the sanctity of human life. The sacredness of human life proceeds out of being made in God’s image, the Imago Dei. No other creature has been given such a distinction. All mankind is accountable to God, the Creator. We have been set apart by God. We are made in 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 span.

Grounding ourselves 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.

Bearing God’s image means to possess some of the attributes of God, called communicable 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 don’t know everything, in spite of thinking we might. 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 men’s hearts is only evil continually, Genesis 6:5.

Yet man’s sinfulness does not eliminate man’s 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 the first man and woman. As a result, all of those attributes were marred by the Fall. We all still have those God-given attributes, but we have also inherited Adam’s 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 accountability we all have before the Holy God who set mankind apart.

Again, 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, Imago Dei!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Christian Life”

“The Christian Life”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
It was “in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians,” Acts 11:26b. At that time the term Christian was used in a pejorative sense. It was a title of derision. We now proudly claim the title “Christian.” Let us be clear on what it means to be a Christian, not simply cling to the title.

Perhaps, the clearest teaching on being a Christian is Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Mt. 5-7. Jesus taught His disciples the perfect Christian Ethic. Jesus lived what He taught. It would be accurate to call the Sermon on the Mount Jesus’ teaching on the economy of the Kingdom. Matthew recorded the event with precision. Jesus taught this ethic to His disciples. It is a general teaching that is meant specifically to those who have been born again. One must be born from above in order to profess faith in Jesus and thereby be a genuine Christian.

But looking to Christ’s perfect ethical standard serves to show Christians their total dependence upon the Spirit of God. Only Christ lived the Sermon on the Mount perfectly!

Luke’s use of the word “disciple” in Acts 11:26 is very helpful. Fundamentally, Christians are disciples. The word “disciple” means a learner and a follower of a master. Therefore, a Christian is a learner and follower of Jesus Christ the Master.

There is a side road that must be taken at this point in my article. The Bible teaches that followers and learners of Jesus Christ are made not born. In other words, God makes Christians. No one is born a Christian. The Bible declares that no one is righteous, no one even seeks God. The Bible describes all mankind as naturally children of God’s wrath.

Let me guide you to that “side road”. (A “side road” only in relation to this article.) Consider the biblical definition of salvation. Salvation is to be delivered by God from God for God. This important “side road” is necessary to understand the Christian Life. Put simply Christians live for God! We have God-centered lives. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth to hold every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 2Cor. 10:5.

Now back to our main highway, the Christian Life. We turn our attention to the parables of Jesus. Jesus gave a comprehensive view of the Kingdom through the parables. They teach us about the sovereignty and steadfast love of the King. They teach the necessity of living each day before the King expecting His return at any time.

As we read through the parables in Matthew’s gospel, we see them as cumulative. Each one builds toward a climax. The climax is the King’s final judgment revealed in the parable of the sheep and the goats.

Immediately preceding Jesus’ teaching on the final judgment, He taught about living in the Kingdom. That is, how Christians are to live under the Lordship of Christ. We call this teaching the parable of the talents. The Christian Life can be summarized with a single word. The word is investment. I’m sure you all know the story. In summary, Jesus compared the Kingdom of heaven to an owner who went on a journey and gave his property to three of his servants. They were given a specified sum of money, “according to his ability”, Mt. 25:15. The master then left on his journey, returned after a time and sought to settle accounts.

Two servants invested the master’s money and presented him with a return on investment. They hear the master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. … Enter into the joy of your master.” Unfortunately, the third servant hid the master’s money and had no increase to give to the master. This servant did not hear comforting words. He heard words of judgment.

The two faithful servants represent the Christian Life. Jesus owns everything. He is the Lord of lords and King of kings. He has entrusted His people with gifts and talents and yes, money. God’s call to Christians is: invest what you have been given for God’s glory.

The parable of the talents confronts and informs Christians. It confronts by causing us to examine our lives. We are asked if we are living for God. It informs by giving us a practical means by which we can live for God. We live for God by investing all that He has given in His Kingdom for His glory. S.D.G.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Advent”

“Advent”
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 and others 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 still applicable. 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 Season of Advent has begun. This year, Sunday, December 2nd marks the beginning of Advent.

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 The good news declared by Jesus was that the King of the Kingdom had come to earth.

In our country, perhaps in the entire western world, 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 having received. But, I am suggesting that we remember what we have received and from whom we received it. In response, offer acceptable worship to God in holiness, Romans 12:1; Hebrews 12:28.

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”. We seek to involve our children in the service both for their worship and education. 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 on Christmas Eve.

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, “The Providence of God”

“The Providence of God”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Anxiety plagues all of us. We would all like to live an anxious and worry-free life. Jesus said that Kingdom life is indeed worry-free! Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is Kingdom Life. It is how Christians are to live now. Kingdom life is impossible apart from the God who provides. Jesus is the only One who lived the Kingdom life perfectly.

The once popular song, “Don’t worry, be happy”, denies reality. It is for those who live for themselves. The song represents a philosophy of life. There are those who would tell us that reality can be created. They suggest that worry can be overcome by thinking happy thoughts, whatever that means. After we awake from our “happy” dreams, life with all its cares and worries is still there.

How then can God’s book, the Bible, that is without error and always reliable command believers, “Do not be anxious about your life”, Mt. 6:25?

Yet, God commands His people not to worry. This is not a denial of reality but an embrace of it. Specifically, God has revealed Himself as the One who always provides for His people. The reality that must be embraced is the truth of God!

Abraham, the father of all who believe in the God of the Bible, declared the truth of the providence of God, see Genesis 22:8, 14. The psalmist wrote, God “provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever,” Psalm 111:5. The Apostle Paul commanded the church in Philippi, “do not be anxious about anything,” Philippians 4:6.

What did Abraham, the psalmist and Paul know? It is clear as we read about their lives and what they wrote they were not ones who denied reality and simply thought happy thoughts. Abraham, for example, was in the process of obeying God by preparing to sacrifice his son, Isaac when he confessed trust in God to provide. Abraham embraced reality and he trusted God. He knew as Paul did that God would never be unfaithful for to do so would be to deny Himself! 2Timothy 2:13

The popular song quoted above was written by Bobby McFerin and was the number one song in 1988. It presents an apparently innocent and harmless suggestion. But on closer examination, we learn that Bobby McFerin didn’t originate the phrase. It was promoted by an Indian mystic, Meher Baba. Meher Baba considered himself to be the Ancient One and god. He believed that he was the real self within everyone. His view of himself was revealed by one of his recorded statements, “I have come not to teach but to awaken.”

Life in Christ is in direct opposition to that guru’s philosophy. God has not only revealed Himself but He has revealed propositional truth. We don’t need some self-proclaimed guru to find the meaning of life. The source of worry is not our lack of “happy thoughts” or not embracing the god within us. The source of worry is unbelief in God, the true God. The God who provides is the one who created all that we see. He is the one who ordains all that comes to pass. He is transcendent, not part of Creation. The Bible says, in Jesus Christ “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,” Colossians 1:20 and in Him we can have intimacy with God.

Bobby McFerin’s song concerns happiness. As we all know, happiness is very elusive. In the midst of anxiety and worry it’s nearly impossible to find happiness. The impossible becomes possible with God. The Apostle Paul gave advice to Timothy concerning the source of true joy which exceeds happiness. “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy,” 1Timothy 6:17.

Notice the connection between the providence of God and enjoyment. God provides and believers enjoy what He gives. You don’t need to search out some new age philosopher which really is old age, eastern mysticism. Only knowing the truth of God will bring joy, the joy that lasts forever. The God who provides is the only One who gives joy. He gives joy by revealing the truth of Jesus to your heart. Knowing Jesus is the only thing that will dispel the worry and anxiety with which we burden ourselves. So, glorify God and enjoy Him forever!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Acknowledge the Giver!”

“Acknowledge the Giver!”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17 Our nation has set aside one day to give thanks. Giving thanks implies that there is a giver. Whether God is acknowledged or not, we exist by His favor. We are particularly blessed to live in a country that sets a day aside for giving thanks to God.

We often experience things that are not to our liking and complain about them. It seems distasteful, even contrary to thank God for those “bad” things. It makes no worldly sense to give thanks to God for hardship. Exactly, it is nonsense to the world, but to those who have been changed by God it is wisdom. God has said to give Him thanks in all circumstances, Philippians 4:6; 1Thessalonians 5:18. Believers “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.

Thanking God is the response of one who has been changed by Him. Let us look back at one of the greatest celebrations in the Bible. It was a thanksgiving service! 1Chronicles 16 records King David’s organization of a thanksgiving worship service. It was motivated by 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. He declared that the Father will provide the needs of His people, Matthew 6:25-32.

God’s people in the wilderness were 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.

May your Thanksgiving Day be centered in giving thanks to God for the Person and Work of Christ.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Understanding God’s Forgiveness”

“Understanding God’s Forgiveness”
The Rev. Louis B. Tiscione, Pastor Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Matthew and Mark recorded Jesus’ healing of a paralytic. As significant and real as that physical healing was there was something more significant that is essential to all who profess Christ. That which is more essential is: Jesus’ healing of the paralytic pointed to His authority to forgive sins.

The Scribes thought, “This man is blaspheming,” Matthew 9:3 and Mark 2:7. Jesus knew what they were thinking. Jesus said, “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins – he said to the paralytic – “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.”’ Mark 2:9-11

The Scriptures are clear. Sin is a direct offense against God. Sin is defined as missing the mark of God’s perfect righteousness. The Westminster Shorter Catechism defines sin as “Any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.” The Apostle John wrote, “Sin is lawlessness.” 1John 3:4b All sin, no matter how minor, is a direct offense against the Holy God. In light of this truth, there are no “private sins”. God is always the offended party. King David made this truth clear in his psalm of repentance, Psalm 51. In the fourth verse, David wrote, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.”

That verse continues with these words, “… so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.” As you may know, David did not appeal to God for justice. He appealed to God for mercy. God is holy. David knew the truth of God’s holiness. Every Christian should likewise know that God is holy. God never “winks” at sin. We should also know that justice is what is deserved. All mankind deserves to go to hell. That is perfect justice. Since the Garden, all are born dead in sin. There was only one born sinless. He is the Son of God, the God-Man, Jesus Christ. He was born out of the normal course. His conception was of the Holy Spirit.

This is not my opinion. Although, I hold firmly to it. This is the word of God. “(We who are in Christ) were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:3c-5

The gospel is the power of God for salvation! Romans 1:16 The gospel is the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. He died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; He was buried; He was raised from the dead in accordance with the Scriptures, 1Corinthians 15:3-4. There is no other payment for sin, 1John 2:2. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness, Hebrews 9:22 (Leviticus 17:11). Jesus offered Himself to God in obedience. He offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice. His resurrection proves that His sacrifice was accepted by God the Father. The summation of the matter is, “For our sake he (God) made him (Christ) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2Corinthians 5:21 Jesus Christ bore our sins, each one, past, present and future. He experienced the full wrath of the Holy God in our place! In Christ, God’s perfect justice was satisfied.

All that is above represents propositional truth. These are God’s words of hope to His people! We know that they are true because God said it. We may or may not “feel” forgiven. But, if you are in Christ, your sins are forgiven.

There is an ongoing need to regularly read these truths. When God makes an individual a “new creation” in Christ his sinning does not stop. It has been said: ‘we sin because we are sinners’! Paul dealt with this struggle, Romans 7, justified yet sinner. The truth is our struggle with sin begins when God makes us a “new creation” in Christ. Because one is in Christ he recognizes his sinfulness. Those in Christ must live relying upon His finished work. Christians preach the gospel to themselves and confess their sins to God every day!