Pastor’s Viewpoints, “They Meant Well?”

“They Meant Well?”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
“They meant well?” The question is necessary because we, the church included, evaluate actions by stated intentions. It is very rare that anyone would express evil intentions to explain his actions. It is my general observation that no matter the depth of depravity or lying that we observe it is mitigated by professed good intentions.

As a Christian, I know that the Bible clearly declares that only God knows the heart of man. The heart is used in Scripture to describe that which motivates men to do the things that we do. David was declared to be a man after God’s own heart, 1Samuel 13:14; 16:7. God knows the heart of man. Godly intentions proceed from a pure heart. A pure heart is one that has been changed by God, Psalm 51; Ezekiel 36; 2Corinthians 5. Yet one who has been changed by God is continuously being changed. The new desires that God gives in regeneration continue to desire God more each day.

Professed intentions must therefore take a secondary place for Christians as we discern right and godly actions. Jesus said that “You will recognize them by their fruits,” Matthew 7:18. Christians are to be discerning. Those who profess Christ are professing the One who is Truth. Those who profess Jesus declare Him to be the Lord of their lives. Christians submit to the Lordship of Christ. Submission to His Lordship means to live under His word! In common terms, Christians are accountable to God to “consider the product.” That is, Christians are to discern truth from error. Christians live in response to the grace of God in Christ that caused them to see the Kingdom!

Yet when I survey the churches surrounding us, I fail to see Christians discerning truth from error. Rather, I see Christians being led astray by the false gods of our age. One particularly damaging false god is the god of prosperity. Christians and the leaders of churches worship at the altar of prosperity.

The intentions are often professed as being good. Leaders are expressing the desire to attract people to their churches. I actually heard a pastor say that we need to show people the success of programs in the church so that “they may see the return on their investment.”

I thought, why continue to write about God, His holiness, His majesty, His sovereignty, etc.? It seems that God’s self-revelation simply falls to the ground. Churches still pursue men by pleasing men. What’s the point?

I am convinced that God holds pastors, like me, accountable to faithfully declare His word. My responsibility before God is, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season;” 2Timothy 4:2. As God called Ezekiel to be a watchman, Ezekiel 33ff, He has called each minister of the gospel to guard the flock. “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” Acts 20:28

I speak to those who claim the title, “Pastor- Teacher”. I also speak to those who profess Jesus Christ as He is offered in the gospel. Pastors/Elders are to guard and care for the sheep by rightly handling the word of God. All Christians are accountable for what they hear, James 1:22. For the church to be the church God must be the object of our worship, not men. For the church to be the church, the word of God must be read and preached, not skits that entertain or snappy testimonies that elevate experience over truth. For the church to be the church, wisdom must be understood to be the right application of God’s word. For the church to be the church, regenerated men called by God to preach must pursue godliness and holiness.

May church leaders repent of the insistence on applying methods and programs to attract people, to grow their churches bigger and submit to obey the Great Command, Matthew 28:19-20. May every professing Christian not stand for man-centered preaching and ministry philosophies and seek to glorify God in all actions in and outside of the church!

Finally, I am reminded of Paul’s words l to recognize that men will seek to love themselves and be led by those who appear godly, but deny its power.” Paul said avoid such people.” 2Timothy 3:1-5

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Time to Remember”

“Time to Remember”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Current events, the selection of the Republican candidate for President, the insistence that man can determine gender, the myopic understanding of Islam as a “religion of peace” sold by major media outlets have brought to mind the necessity of remembering whose is in charge.

God has ordained civil governments, without exception. God made us male and female. Islam is a theocracy originated by a false demon-led prophet. The god of Islam is not the one true God who has revealed Himself fully in the Person and Work of His Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, the God-Man!

This cultural drift towards man-centeredness and the deception of the evil one is not new.

Nebuchadnezzar, the king of ancient Babylon thought himself to be a god. He was the prototype of man-centeredness. Everything, he thought, revolved around him.

Three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego demonstrated an unyielding reliance upon God. They were willing to be burned alive rather than worship the false god erected by the king, Daniel 3.

God demonstrated His sovereignty and 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 a ruler claims for himself, 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 and He will have the last word. Men will continue to make pronouncements arising from the desire to be god. But, the truth is there is one God who is holy, sovereign and eternal. There will come a day when King Jesus returns and all men and women will be judged. Those who think that they are god will be assigned a place in the Lake of Fire, the place of bearing the eternal wrath of the holy God.

It is necessary to remember the sovereignty of God. Listen to current news and events. We are experiencing the breakdown of the rule of law in our nation. We have 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 abdicated their responsibility and turned their backs’ to their promises made to hold our civil servants accountable. We are fooled into electing men and women who promise to be something that they are not; who say they will do things that they will 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. His behavior was like a wild beast. Nebuchadnezzar was humbled by God.

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.

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 God. He declared his submission to the true God worshiped by Daniel, his three friends, and every professing Christian. Pray that the truth is proclaimed by every Christian Church!

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 govern accordingly.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Remember who’s in charge”

“Remember who’s in charge”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Have you ever asked yourself, “Who’s in charge of _______ (you fill in the blank)?”

Rather than answer this question, we want to fix the blame. We blame everyone from society as a whole to God. We blame everyone except the actual perpetrators. Concerning fixing the blame, there are still some who blame America for 9-11. The fact is evil men flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, murdering thousands. We’ve seen murders committed in a movie theater by an evil individual. We’ve seen horrific videos of evil men beheading people in the name of their god. Still further, we’ve listened to reports of Islamic terrorists murdering concert goers in Paris. We have leaders who are more interested in photo ops and their legacies than fulfilling the duties that they swore to keep! We are found asking ourselves, “Who’s in charge?”

It is reasonable, even necessary to investigate evil events. It is prudent to seek ways for the prevention of such evil in the future. But, placing the blame in the right place or studying prevention still does not answer the question, “Who’s in charge?”

All reasonable people must affirm that God is in charge of every circumstance and event or He is not God!

The Bible reveals the character of the true God. The Bible is God’s self-revelation. He has revealed His character by way of declaring His attributes. One of God’s attributes is His sovereignty.

Years ago, a man in a church that I served was concerned about using the word “sovereignty”. He said no one understood that word anymore. My response to him was that we shouldn’t stop using words because people may not understand them. Rather our response would be more edifying if we explained the meaning of important words such as sovereignty. It is this word which provides the answer to our question. We know God is in charge because He is sovereign. Jesus said “All authority in heaven and earth” had been given to Him, Matthew 28:18. The Prophet Jeremiah wrote that no one could even speak unless God has commanded it, Lamentations 3:37.

God not only revealed His sovereignty by declarative statements such as Matthew 28:18 and Lamentations 3:37, but He also revealed it through historic narratives. One such timely historical narrative is recorded in Daniel 4: 34-37. The human author, Daniel, a faithful worshiper of God, recorded an incident that involved a king who thought he was the be-all and the end-all. The king’s name was Nebuchadnezzar. He was a ruthless man, king of the ancient Babylonian Empire. This king had a very confusing dream about a huge tree that “a holy one from heaven” ordered to be chopped down. God empowered Daniel to interpret the dream. Daniel’s interpretation predicted that the king would be humbled until he acknowledged the one true God. The tree in the king’s dream was him.

After a time, because of the king’s pride, God drove him mad. He made him act and appear animal-like. At the time appointed by God, the king’s senses returned to him. Daniel recorded what the king said. Nebuchadnezzar said this about God, “His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and He does according to His will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay His hand or say to Him, “What have You done?”’

This radical statement was spoken by a pagan king. The king was humbled by God and caused by Him to see the truth. He declared that all creatures are under the sovereign authority of God. He rules over every man’s actions and He holds him responsible. This great and mighty ruler who thought he was a god was used by God to declare His eternal rule.

All too often, God’s sovereignty is qualified by man’s will to submit to His rule. The Bible says God will make even the mighty submit to His sovereignty either now or when Jesus returns. God is sovereign whether or not man submits to Him. God’s rule is absolute. God is in charge regardless of whether we think He is or not! Jesus is Lord of lords and King of kings, whether we believe it or not. This is our comfort in the face of evil and adversity.