Pastor’s Viewpoints, “My Story”

“My Story”
By the Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” 2Corinthians 5:17
So, what’s new? God gives everyone He raises from death to life new desires, desires for Him!

My new desires began on January 29, 1986. On that day, God snatched me from the pit of hell. It was a normal day. But, on my way to my office that day, I was broad sided by a semi-truck. 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 see the beauty of Christ. My only thought was to run to Him. I testify that God did not drag me into His Kingdom. No, the thought of running from Jesus never entered my mind. My desire was and continues for Him! The words of Jesus burned into my heart. “UNLESS one is born again he CANNOT see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 (ESV)

Before that day, I had no such desire for Jesus. Oh, I thought that I was a good person, most people do. I believed, as long as I was better than most, surely, God would welcome me. After all, doesn’t the Bible say that God is love? (1John 4:8) Yes, 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 only extends mercy on the basis of the merit of Jesus Christ, His perfect life and perfect sacrifice.

Before my “accident,” I never knew the one true God. I was dead in my sin. Before God’s act of free grace, I thought all this “born again” stuff was for the weak minded. God pierced my heart with the truth that spiritually dead men live for themselves. After the accident, I was unconscious. I couldn’t have saved myself. I couldn’t even get out of my hospital bed. Before God’s action, I didn’t know 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 was only responding to His action.

Beware, there is a persistent false teaching that if one believes he will be born again. How foolish! Worse, it is the height of manipulation 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, Genesis 3:22-24. God alone acted and saved me!

As I look back through the lens of God’s word on His action in saving me, I realize every aspect of my life is a 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.” (ESV) The words of Jesus, 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.” (ESV)

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

In writing this, I am declaring my total reliance upon God. I believe the God who saved me has spoken and continues to speak in His word. I believe His word is without error and absolutely reliable because He is. I believe that His word is clear because He desires to be known. I believe that His word is sufficient for all faith and practice. God’s word revealed how He saves His people; how He continues to save His people; and that He has promised that He will bring His people to glory!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Speak for our Children”

“Speak for our Children”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
January has been designated as “Sanctity of Human Life Month”. I believe it is necessary to hold the fact that God has sanctified human life before us. It is especially necessary for the Church that calls herself “Christian” to speak for those who are unable to speak for themselves! These unborn babies present an opportunity for the Church to declare the truth of the sovereignty of God over human life. He has authority to give life and to take it away.

Politicians regularly cry to protect children to demonstrate their compassion. They frequently use the term “gun violence” when an atrocity occurs, and children are involved. Yet, they conveniently make no mention of the largest loss of children’s lives. The staggering fact is that since 1973, more than 62 million babies have been killed through abortion in our Nation and 1.7 billion world-wide. In this day of so-called scientific enlightenment, denying that the life of a human being begins at conception would seem to any reasonable person to be unbelievable.

In the interest of our children, I stand with those who say, “Let’s stop the violence.” Indeed, let’s stop the violence right now and stand for the sanctity of human life. Christians are accountable to the God of life to speak out against the evil of abortion.

Why do so many Christians speak strongly for the sanctity of human life? The reason is that God is for life. The truth is, He sanctified human life.

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 called His people to be light in this dark world. Christians are to stand for the truth, not only in the circle of believers, but also wherever God has placed them. My concern is that so-called Liberal Christianity has joined the culture and allowed the discussion to be based upon the spurious issue of “Reproductive Rights” or a woman’s right to choose rather than the fundamental issue of human life. Whether you are a Christian or not I urge you to speak for those who have no one to speak for them. The statistics demonstrate that the most dangerous place for our children is in the womb!

Abortion not only sacrifices our children but scars our Nation and harms physically and emotionally every woman it touches. Yet the God whom we worship is merciful. There is forgiveness and healing in Jesus Christ.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Power of God”

The Power of God
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

When Jesus began His public ministry He said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:15

The Apostle Paul in writing to believers declared that the gospel is the power of God for salvation, Romans 1:16. He also told the believers in Corinth that those who were being saved stood in the gospel, 1Corinthians 15:1.

Those who profess Christ are called by God to preach the gospel to themselves on a regular basis. Christians know that all life is in Christ through repentance and faith in Jesus as He is offered in the gospel.

Salvation is not only God’s guarantee of heaven. Salvation is deliverance. God’s people are saved by God from God. When God breaks into a man’s life, He frees him from the bondage of sin. Those in Christ are set free to love God! Salvation begins when God declares a sinner right with Him. It continues throughout life and is consummated in glory. All of what God has done for us is in and through the gospel. The death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the revealed power of God!

Jesus gave two reasons for obeying His dual command in Mark 1:15. The first was the “time is fulfilled.” The second, “the kingdom of God is at hand”.

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

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

Jesus’ command was very specific. It centered on God’s rule and the gospel. Christians believe in the gospel. Why? The answer is simple and clear. “The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” Romans 1:16b. The gospel is the only means God has given for men and women to know Christ and have eternal life.

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

Therefore, may he who has ears to hear the Savior’s command, repent and believe in the gospel! “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8 Those who hear and believe know and live in the power of God revealed in the gospel!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Resolutions”

The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
This is the time of the year when I look back over the past year. I’m a “list person” so I make a list of all those blessings that the Lord has poured out on me, my family and our church. As I write my list of blessings, I acknowledge that I’ve forgotten more than I can remember. However, the greatest blessing that one can ever experience and never forget is the blessing of knowing God through His only Son, Jesus Christ. The blessing of salvation is the only one that sustains the one who has received it in the midst of all of life’s circumstances. I know that God did for me that which I was unable to do. He saved me by His grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone and my response is to worship Him!

As a “list person”, I also make a list of things that I would like to do for the New Year. This list contains my resolutions. When I look at my list, it often contains many of the same ones I made the previous year. Rather than look at unmet resolutions, I prefer to look forward making a new commitment to do them.

One resolution that is on my list every year is to be holy, always pursuing holiness.

This resolution is not unique to me. It is God’s will for everyone who is in Christ. Two things require explanation. The first is the meaning of being in Christ. The second is the meaning of holiness. Both the first and second are rooted in God. Those who are in Christ have been brought there by God and holiness is God’s work of free grace that progressively makes the one in Christ more and more like Him.

The Bible declares that those who are 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 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

In addition, 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 and He causes me to pursue holiness. I have the assurance that I am in Christ by my desire to obey Him. God has said that He confirms that I belong to Him by His Spirit speaking to my Spirit, Romans 8:14.

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 will cause 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 make the resolution to pursue holiness this year and all those that follow knowing that God is working in you!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Divine Manifestation”

The Divine Manifestation
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The Apostle Matthew recorded the visit of the “wise men”, Matthew 2. Tradition suggests that there were three wise men. Scholars are not certain of the number. It is suggested that there were more than three. The original word from which English translations of the Bible translate “wise men” is the word magi (magoi in Greek). The number three is likely assumed because three royal gifts were listed as being given to the Christ Child and Mary. “And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11

This narrative creates a great scene. It is usually part of depictions of the Christmas Story. Much has been written on the three gifts that the wise men gave to Jesus. Yet the main point of this episode in the life of Jesus is God’s will to manifest the Savior to gentiles. It is a foreshadowing of the universal call of the gospel to all men not only those of Israel.

These wise men traveled from the east. They were possibly from ancient Babylon or even further east. They may have been court advisers to kings who “read” the stars. God led these men to the exact location of Jesus’ birth. Pictures often show the wise men kneeling before the baby Jesus. But, it was more likely that they arrived during the time that Jesus was a toddler. Herod set out to destroy Jesus by killing all the male children up to two years old. He based his assumption on the timing of the visit of the magi.

An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to take Mary and Jesus and flee to Egypt. Joseph obeyed the angel of the Lord and they were far from the reach of Herod. This is one of many revelations from God that His plan of redemption cannot be thwarted by man.

The visit of these men holds an important place in God’s plan of redemption as it demonstrates what Isaiah prophesied under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6. In addition, Jesus said, “I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” John 10:16

The visit of the wise men has been viewed in the church as so significant that a special feast day was established. The feast of the Epiphany is celebrated in the church every January 6th. The word “epiphany” means manifestation. All who are in Christ know that God is not a respecter of nationality or social status. The Apostle Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28

Why is this divine manifestation so important? It is important because of who was manifested! Jesus Christ is the only Savior. He is the God-Man. He lived a perfect life and He offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice. God made Him known.

John’s Gospel says that the One who made all things came into the world and the world did not know Him, John 1:10.

After all the presents have been opened and family dinners have been enjoyed, receiving the truth of Jesus Christ is crucial. John wrote, “to all who received him (Jesus), who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13

The grace and mercy of God are so great that He chose to make known the truth to those whom He calls. None of us is capable of seeing the truth of Jesus on our own. We all depend upon God’s grace.

My prayer is that the word of Christ will pierce your heart and you may know the one who has the words of eternal life even Jesus Christ, God’s only Son.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Miracle of The Incarnation”

“The Miracle of The Incarnation”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
“Come expecting a miracle!” The likelihood of hearing some Word Faith teacher or Prosperity Gospel false teacher exhort people to come to some healing crusade is sadly good. Rather than listen to lies, read the Scriptures. They record genuine miracles. There are two which are supreme. One is the bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The other, equally significant, is the Incarnation.

The miracle of the Incarnation is God in the flesh. That is, God took upon Himself human nature. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

Centuries before the actual event, 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

God spoke through His prophets declaring the absolute necessity of the God – Man. It is a miracle that we are unable to thoroughly understand. We receive it as the 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)

First, 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 set aside His glory. No analogy is adequate to describe Jesus’ humiliation in the Incarnation and His crucifixion.

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 also has an implicit affect. The implication of the Incarnation, God with us is that those who are in Christ are joint heirs of heaven with Him. All those who are in Christ will receive exalted and glorified bodies like Jesus. God has promised that His people will see Him face to face. Now, this, the Incarnation is a genuine miracle upon which our hope rests praise God for Jesus, the God-Man.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Truth… Is It Important?”

“Truth… Is it Important?”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
It seems that every day a new story is breaking that reveal lies told to the public. It is amazing to me that some, possibly many don’t seem to care. Even and especially our leaders consumed with their own self-interest and power don’t care about truth and try to convince all of us that truth is based on perception, presumably theirs!

This troubling symptom of our American Culture leads me to ask, “Is truth important?” I am a Christian Pastor of an evangelical church. I meet people every day who are unaware of the truth or fail to see its relevance. I have talked with many over the years who live as though truth doesn’t matter. In other words, they live in denial!

I and every genuine Christian know the answer to the question of truth. The obvious answer is truth is important! It must be important because truth is reality. In order to avoid reality, men have developed the philosophy that there are no absolutes. Men suppress the truth in their unrighteousness, Romans 1:18.

The absolute that these deniers hold is that there are no absolutes. Within this philosophical system, the governing dogma, “there are no absolutes”, everything is relative. If you are thinking that this is the height of confusion, you’re right. It is illogical and disastrous.

There are many biblical texts that emphasize the absolute standard of God’s word, which is always true and reliable. Amos 7:8, “… The LORD said, “Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel; I will never again pass by them; the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”

The plumb line that God showed Amos was the word of God. This vision foreshadowed the coming Messiah. Jesus is the standard, the plumb line. He said that He is the truth, John 14:6.

As a result of this pervasive idea of relative truth, we must live in the awareness of being surrounded the liars and deceivers who say that truth is in the eye of the beholder.

Jesus said, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” John 3:19

Men will always seek to hide the truth so as to keep their evil deeds from the light of day. The Apostle Paul wrote this, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”

Truth is important and men lie. So, what are men and women of integrity to do? Jesus taught His disciples that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied, Matthew 5:6. Ultimately, the truth will prevail.

I believe that truth in the public sphere is a necessity. I also believe that those who are people of integrity have a responsibility to expect our leaders to tell the truth. The starting place is close to home. Jesus said, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes” or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” Matthew 5:37 Individuals of integrity are the starting point, especially professing believers in the Risen Lord Jesus.

Truth matters and it matters profoundly. It is absolute. Make decisions in life based on the truth, not on someone’s perception or opinion.

We are living in a critical time. Our nation is at a crossroad. Truth is one way and error another. Error and lies will only lead to disaster. Jesus said that the truth will set you free. We stand for freedom. Those who say that they cherish freedom should be truthful. Those who are truthful are men and women who know that there is absolute truth and live in accordance with it. Those who do should be held accountable to live what they profess. Those whose past behavior reveals that they are relativists should not be taken seriously, let alone be elected to public office or chosen to lead in the church.

Truth is indeed important! Our, your future depends upon it. You may try to ignore or suppress it. But, we will all stand before the truth, Jesus Christ and give an account for what we’ve done, 2Corinthians 5:10. He is ultimate truth and He expects men and women to live truthfully!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “What Are We Waiting For?”

“What Are We Waiting For?”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
“But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

God’s declaration through the prophet Isaiah is a promise for believers. The verse is in contrast to those who appear strong like youths and those who are powerful. Those who are strong in worldly terms will all grow tired and weary. But those who wait for the LORD will not only survive but will run because they won’t get tired.

God promised to deliver His people and the prophet Isaiah began Chapter 40 with God’s word of “comfort”. “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.” This Chapter of Isaiah is indeed comfort for God’s people because they are reminded of His sovereignty and the absolute truth of His word. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Isaiah 40:8 The “Servant” who would comfort and redeem God’s people, revealed in Isaiah 42 and following is Jesus! He declared that He was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, Luke 4:18-21. The Servant of God, Jesus, brought comfort which is the assurance of deliverance leading to glory for those in Christ.

Isaiah often wrote in the Prophetic Past Tense. That is, he saw future events as completed. When he wrote of judgment, he saw the total destruction of the wicked. He saw their final end. He used expressions such as, “The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” Isaiah 9:7

The end is certain. On the one hand God will establish perfect righteousness and on the other He will judge all ungodliness. There will be no escape for the ungodly. But He will also lift the curse of original sin and make all things new, Revelation 21.

For His people God has promised comfort, peace and glory. This is what we are waiting for! We know that God never fails to keep His word. His word declares He has claimed His people as His possessions, Isaiah 43:1. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:27-28

God’s people wait upon Him with eager expectation of the fulfillment of His promises. The promise now is comfort. We eagerly await His promise of final deliverance. These promises are for all those who belong to the LORD. Those who belong to the Lord wait upon Him. The word translated wait means trusting God now by obeying Him while waiting for His final deliverance.

Waiting upon the LORD is how Christians are called to live. It is an ongoing process. This principle is especially important during times of evil. We remember the reports of the evil behavior of radical Islamic terrorists. We have heard of the brutally evil behavior of an abortion doctor in Philadelphia and civil leaders who approve of the murder of infants. We see the effects of tornadoes, hurricanes, fires, and other events causing destruction and loss of life.

Evil behavior and disasters will be with us until Christ returns. The evil in the world done by men is a result of the fall of Adam and Eve. Disasters, natural or otherwise, will be absent from the perfection that God has promised when Christ returns. But for now, God has promised comfort. His comfort is the certainty of knowing that evil and distortions and disasters will come to an end. Further, God’s comfort is in knowing that He is walking through these evil circumstances with us. Those who believe that Jesus is who He said He is and rely upon Him have the assurance that nothing will ever separate them from the love of God in Christ Jesus, Romans 8:35-39.

The comfort is in knowing that His word is always true. He promised never to leave us or forsake us, Hebrews 13:5. By God’s grace, the experience of Christ’s work in our lives causes us to know that He holds us in the palm of His hand.

We wait for perfect justice and glory, knowing that we have peace with God in Christ, Romans 5:1. We wait with eager expectation and the assurance of glory knowing God’s promise. We wait persevering in faithfulness to His word.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Black Friday”

“Black Friday”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
“Black Friday” has become very well-known and even expected. Merchants trying to get a jump on Christmas shopping have coined the title, “Black Friday”. Our culture continues to push a secular agenda on all of us. Now the press of shopping is crowding out a time of personal reflection on the goodness of God. Black is an appropriate word not only for a shopping day but also to describe the drift of western culture.

Giving thanks is a reasonable response of Creatures to their Creator. Thanking God is inseparable from praising God. Praise and thanksgiving are activities included in biblical worship. Those who thank God acknowledge His mighty works and His attributes. We give thanks to the one who provides all things, is the Lord of all things, and is always good!

King David wrote Psalm 65 and it has been used throughout the history of the Bible as a song of worship. Verse 1, “Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion, and to you shall vows be performed.” King David under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit put everything into a right perspective. He declared that praise is owed to God! Praise is the verbal declaration of the mighty works of God and His character. We are Creatures and we are in debt to the Creator. Surely professing Christians know that they are called to remind themselves that all we have and all that we enjoy has been provided by the hand of the sovereign God. We remember God’s mighty acts recorded in the Scriptures as we gather with brothers and sisters in Christ in corporate worship. It is expected that we will not keep those acts of God to ourselves. Praising God not only is required but it is the means to experience true peace in the midst of a black culture.

Biblical praise requires knowledge of God and His mighty acts. Too often, we think that praising God is a spontaneous emotional act done by “Charismatics” or “Pentecostals”. Some might suggest that praise is “Letting go of our inhibitions and being led by our emotions”. Praise is rather an intentional act which begins in our minds. As we read and study God’s word, those mighty acts like the deliverance of His people from slavery in Egypt impress on our minds the absolute sovereignty of God. It reveals to us His grace. It demonstrates His providence. For those who have been born again, the Holy Spirit illumines their minds so that they may see and apply the truth of God. It is through this means that God sanctifies those whom He justified and gives peace. Biblical praise changes the worshiper thereby causing him to know God’s peace which passes all understanding, Cf. Philippians 4:7

The second part of verse one, “And to you shall vows be performed” aids in our understanding of genuine faith. Those who are intent on praising God are those who seek to be faithful to Him. A vow is a solemn promise. David wrote of the expectation of those who praise God to keep their promises made to Him.

When God breaks into the life of a man or woman, He makes that person a new Creation, 2Corinthians 5:17. There is an observable difference in one who has been born again. The Bible refers to this change as conversion. God changes the one whom He raises from death to life. Conversion is done by God instantaneously but continues throughout the life of a believer. The instant God converts a sinner into a saint is described as being brought from darkness into light by the Holy Spirit. The process of change that continues is what the Bible calls sanctification. Part of sanctification is profession. That is, when a believer is changed by God, he desires to declare his reliance upon Christ. Jesus said, “Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven…” Matthew 10:32.

Christian, in the face of the increasing secularization of our culture make it a priority to give thanks to the God whom we praise for His mighty acts and attributes in corporate worship on every Lord’s Day. May the assurance of knowing Him provide you with the peace that surpasses all understanding. “We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, the holiness of Your temple!” Psalm 65:4b “Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness!” Psalm 96:9a

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Giving Thanks”

Giving Thanks
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Every day I thank the Lord for the blessings of this life. I know that everything that I enjoy is from His hand. We all enjoy the blessings of our sovereign God. The Prophet Jeremiah wrote the reality of God’s sovereign actions in the midst of his suffering. Jeremiah said, “Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?” God has called His people to “give Him thanks in all circumstances”, 1Thessalonians 5:18

We are blessed in our country to have a day set aside for giving God thanks. You may know that George Washington set the day apart to thank God for His providence. Thank you is so easy to say, yet so often neglected.

Our tendency is to look at those things that are not of our liking and complain about them. It seems distasteful to thank God for even those bad things. But, that’s exactly what God’s will is for us. He said to give thanks in all circumstances.

One of the greatest celebrations in the Bible was a thanksgiving service. 1Chronicles 16 records King David preparing and implementing a celebration of giving thanks to God. The actual event that motivated David was the reminder of God’s covenantal promise made visible in 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 of the Covenant was designed by God and it 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. They saw the Ark of the Covenant as a constant reminder that God would be faithful to His promise made to Abraham and his seed, Genesis 17:7. The people of God were reminded that He provided their food in the desert. Jesus said that the Father knows what we need and He will provide for our daily sustenance. God’s people in the wilderness were fickle as are we. God gave them a sign of His leading them through Moses and Aaron. When rebellion broke out against Moses and Aaron, God caused Aaron’s staff to bud. God told Moses to keep that budded staff before the people to remind them of His chosen leadership. It became a reminder to the people of God that He was leading them and would protect them.

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.

The above gives abundant reasons for giving thanks. But, God is good beyond all measure. He has given us families, friends, provisions and above all the freedom to worship Him.

In addition, Christians have the Holy Spirit who testifies to their spirits that they are children of God, Romans 8:16. Believers have God’s constant presence leading and protecting them. Believers now have a clearer revelation of God’s working then did the church of the Old Testament. Christians, therefore, should have a greater desire to give thanks to God.

We have been given this opportunity to offer thanks and to take time for reflection upon the providence of God. Enjoy time with families and friends. Acknowledge the one who has so graciously provided all that we enjoy.

My prayer is that as you remember and give thanks you will be filled with the knowledge and love of God. He is the source of all that we have. “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 Thank the Lord God from whom all blessings flow!