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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Growing Oaks Or Ears Of Popcorn

"The church must claim again her ancient dowry of everlastingness. She must begin again to deal with ages and millenniums rather then with days and years. She must not count numbers but test foundations. She must work for permanence rather than for appearance. Her children must seek those enduring things that have been touched with immortality. The shallow brook of popular religion chatters on its nervous way and thinks the ocean too quiet and dull because it lies deep in its mighty bed and is unaffected by the latest shower. Faith in one of its aspects moves mountains; in another it gives patience to see the promises afar off and to wait quietly for their fulfillment. Insistence upon an immediate answer to every request of the soul is an evidence of religious infantilism. It takes God longer to grow an oak than to grow an ear of popcorn. It will cost something to walk slow in the parade of the ages while excited men of time rush about confusing motion with progress. But it will pay in the long run--and the true Christian is not much interested in anything short of that."

A. W. Tozer

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Winds of Change and the Changeless God

Note:  While I do not believe Baptists are Protestant Tozer's larger point is worth considering.

"The contemporary world is a result of radical changes down the generations amounting to revolution: the scientific revolution, the industrial revolution, the communications revolution, the philosophical revolution and the social revolution. Are we going to accept the belief that the Bible must be interpreted anew in the light of these developments? Are we going to allow ourselves to accept the doctrine that the prophets and apostles were mistaken about God? Are we going to allow society to tell us that the Bible is outmoded and largely irrelevant and must therefore be reassessed in the light of modern advancements? Has God changed? Are we going to accept it? Is there a change in the purpose of God? Have the changes in human society startled or shocked God? Must we, in order to remain intellectually respectable and have good standing with these who doubt the Word, humbly say, "Well, I do not believe in miracles"? Or have we got enough of our Protestant protest and courage to stand up and say, "I believe in miracles whenever God Almighty wants to perform them. I believe that whenever God wants to do anything that is out of the ordinary and contrary to or at least above the common processes of nature, He is able to do it. I believe the miracles of Jesus Christ were real miracles. I believe the miracles of the Old Testament were real miracles." Are we going to allow ourselves to be brainwashed along with all the rest? Or are we going to dare to stand and protest and be known over the country as being Protestant indeed? We would be people who refuse to adjust but who make the world adjust to us. When you adjust, you are dead. The same is true if a church adjusts to these ideas. If you adjust, you are done. But if you dare to stand, the world will adjust to you. I can promise you that. Not all will adjust to you, but at least some will."

A. W. Tozer

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Blessed Maladjustment

"The second prominent tragedy is that the gospel churches are confused and intimidated by numbers. They accept the belief that there has been change and that Christians must adjust to the change. The word used is adjustment. We must get adjusted, forgetting that the world has always been blessed by the people who were not adjusted. The poor people who get adjusted cannot do much anyhow. They are not worth having around. In every field of human endeavor progress has been made by those who stood up and said, "I will not adjust to the world." The classical composers, poets and architects were people who would not adjust. Today society insists that if you do not adjust you will get a complex. If you do not get adjusted, you will have to go to a psychiatrist. Jesus was among the most maladjusted people in His generation. He never pretended to adjust to the world. He came to die for the world and to call the world to Himself, and the adjustment had to be on the other side."

A. W. Tozer

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Virtue Of Giving Thanks

Psalms 100:4

With our national holiday we call Thanksgiving approaching this Thursday it is hard to pass up the opportunity to address the virtue of giving thanks.  Genuine thanksgiving is the result of a heart that has been renewed to see things differently.  Anyone can make a list of things they like in their lives and call them blessings and say they are thankful.  It is not that I am against listing the things for which we are thankful but I am saying that thanksgiving, the giving of thanks, is a much deeper concept than the ability to compile a list.

While we all consider the things we are thankful for this year let us carefully consider whether we are thankful people.

It is almost like thanksgiving takes place in a vacuum.  I am thankful degenerates into it makes me happy to have this or that or to have experienced this or that.  To be truly thankful necessitates recognition of a benefactor.  It is not so much about what we are thankful for as it is to whom we are thankful.  If we are not careful we can be thankful to no one for a lot of things, which really defies the essence of thanksgiving.

Our text even addresses this issue when it says:

                “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving”
                “be thankful unto him”

There is the recognition of both the blessing and the benefactor.  Only in this context can true thanksgiving be experienced.  It is not simply a matter of being thankful for things but being thankful to someone.  Giving of thanks without an eye to the provider seems shallow at best and selfish at worst.

So this week let us not only consider for what we have to be thankful but to whom we have to be thankful.  In other words, “be thankful unto him”

 I began, this week, to wonder if we start in the wrong place related to thanksgiving.  Having started in the wrong place it is easy to end up on the wrong place.   We start out thinking about what we have and end up being thankful for what we have.  The focus starts on what we have and ends on what we have.  Consequently we find it difficult to ever get focused on the one who gave us richly all things to enjoy.

 Maybe we should start out thinking about what we deserve.  What do I deserve?  Temporally or spiritually what do I deserve?  The Bible tells me what I deserve.  Let me set the stage by first asking a question.  Have you ever committed on single sin?  

 Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death . . . .
 Romans 5:12 - . . . .so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Revelation 21:8 - . . . . and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Because we have all sinned what we deserve is to die and burn in the lake of fire for all of eternity.  We don't deserve our last breath.  We did not deserve to ever see the light of day.

 When I realize what I deserve and compare that to what I have it is only then when I begin to realize that I should be thankful!   Not disaffected comparing what I have to what others have.  But thankful comparing what I have to what I deserve!  I should bless his name every day that I am not getting what I deserve!  (mercy)   I should bless his name ever day that I am in possession of so much that I don’t deserve!  (grace)

Genuine thanksgiving is not about a day.  Don’t misunderstand I am thankful to God that I live in a country that celebrates a day of Thanksgiving.  But, celebrating a day of thanksgiving does not make us a thankful people.  The sad reality is that the day of Thanksgiving has mutated into a day of indulgence.  Instead of the focus being on God it is on food and football.  Somehow as a nation we have come to believe that we can indulge the flesh make a show of bounty and at the end of the day consider our self a thankful people???  Is it really that noble to make a pretense of being thankful by feeding the flesh, both literally and figuratively and every other day of the year we have a murmur or complaint on our tongue.  I am not against food or football but we should be careful about spending a day pursuing those things and then believing because we called it Thanksgiving Day that we are thankful.

Genuine thanksgiving is about a lifestyle.  It really starts by learning to say “thank you” for kindnesses that people show us.  Not simply being thankful for what they gave us or did for us but being thankful to them!  Not a “thank you” that is required by etiquette but a thank you that comes from a heart that feels undeserving.  So often times we never take our eye off the gift and place it on the giver.  We love the thing but are not truly thankful to the benefactor.  We are thankful for things but we are not thankful to anyone.  Maybe this week we can find two, or three, or four people that we can communicate to in some manner and say to them, “I want to thank you for ________________!

I am talking about cultivating the virtue of giving thanks.

Ephesians 5:20 - Giving thanks always.
Psalms 34:1 - I will bless the LORD at all times.

Just learning to be truly thankful not just for things but to God and others remembering how undeserving we are.  Or, to put it another way, remember what we deserve!

We should be thankful to God for all that you judge to be good in your life.

James 1:17 - Every good gift . . . cometh down from the Father of lights . . . .
1Timothy 6:17 - . . . . the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; . . . .

Are there some good things in your life today?  Remember they come from God.  God gave them to you to enjoy.  But they came from him.  Remember what you deserve and then consider what he has given you.  And we have trouble being thankful to him???

 Acts 17:25 - . . . . he (the true God) giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

God has given you everything.  He has given you life.  He has given you breath.  He has given you all things. While you are being thankful for the all things you might want to be thankful to Him!   Be careful about developing a sense of entitlement that God owes.  He owes nothing, we owe everything!

We should be thankful to God for all that you judge to be bad in your life.

Are there some things you have judged to be bad in your life?  Probably.  Things don't always go right.  There are disappointments and trials, and tribulations.  It is important to remember though that we judge them to be bad.  We are not always good judges of such matters.  What we deem to be bad may in fact be good.  We certainly know that he intends to use it for good.

1 Peter 1:6,7 - Wherein ye greatly rejoice though . . . ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: . . . .
James 1:2,3 - . . . . count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations . . . .

Be careful about becoming embittered because of the difficulties, disappointments and discouragements of life!  Our minds must be brought into subjection to Christ so that everything that happens we can be found giving thanks.

Ephesians 5:20 - Giving thanks . . . for all things unto God . . . .
Notice giving thanks for (the gift) and unto (the benefactor).

Job is the prime example of giving thanks for everything one judges to be bad in their lives.  The rose on a prosperous godly man.  It set that same day on a destitute godly man.  His fortune and his family (children) lost.

 Job 1:20-22 – The Lord gave, the Lord taketh away.

We always want a Lord who gives but do not tend to be thrilled with a Lord that takes away.  We are thankful when he is giving, but what about when he is taking away?  At the end of the day when Job had lost everything we are told that he worshipped!

Job 2:9,10 – Shall we receive good at the hand of God and shall we not receive evil?  Great question posed by a great man!

Murmuring is a symptom that suggest the absence of giving thanks.  A couple of important things to note
about murmuring.

The Lord hears our murmuring.  Exodus 16:9 - . . . . Come near before the LORD: for he hath heard your
murmurings.  Don't think he does not hear it.  Just because you are talking or typing to someone else does
not mean he does not hear it.

 All murmuring is against the Lord.  Exodus 16:8 - . . . . your murmurings are not against us, but against the
LORD.  We think we are murmuring against the situation, the difficulty, the weather, the health problem, the
other person.  The Bible says we are murmuring against God.  It only makes sense.  Who do you think
allowed the situation, or the difficulty, or the weather, or the health problem, or the other person?  You don't
like what happening or what this or that person is doing?  Before you begin to murmur remember what you
deserve!  There is a reason why the Bible says in Philippians 2:14 - Do all things without murmurings and
disputings: . . . .

Complaining which is closely related to murmuring is a symptom that also suggest the absence of giving
thanks.  A couple of important things to note about complainers.

Complainers are people who walk after their own lusts.  Jude 16 - These are murmurers, complainers,
walking after their own lusts; . . . .

Complaining displeases the LORD.  Numbers 11:1 - And when the people complained, it displeased the
LORD: . . . .

Complaining can become chronic.  Psalms 77:1-3 – Refused to be comforted and I complained and was
overwhelmed.  Those who cultivate the virtue of giving thanks hardly ever refuse to be comforted,
complaining is kept to a minimum and they hardly ever feel overwhelmed.

Lamentations 3:39 - Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?  We might
want to think about this and in doing so we might find ourselves being more thankful to God and others. 
And it is just a few verses earlier where we find these sobering words in Lamentations 3:22 - It is of the
LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  Which brings us back to the
starting point and a vital question if we are to be genuinely thankful not just for things but to God.  What do I
deserve?  When you ask yourself this question be sure to remember that it is of the LORD’S mercies that
we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not!

In conclusion maybe this week we can preface everything that we are thankful for with the words, "I am
thankful to God for ___________"  Thereby shifting some of the focus from the blessing to the benefactor. 
And, maybe we can also communicate to one or two people every day by saying, "Thank you for

Saturday, November 05, 2011

I Met Him

It was forty-one years ago today that I met a man who I am certain passed my way on several occasions for he was know well by so many that my life revolved around at that early age.  For whatever reason I had never really paid him much attention, till that night.  Oh, I had seen him in passing and we had probably greeted one another but I moved on never stopping to consider him.  That night I did.

It probably had something to do with the fact that when I saw him that night he was bleeding and suffering on a tree.  It was a horrible sight. I had known for some time that this event was part of his history I simply did not rightly regard it.  That night I did.  I think in part it was because I realized that he bled and died because of me.  When I saw his suffering in that context my sin appeared more horrible than it ever had.  Even at the "innocent" age of seven if my sin required that sacrifice then of necessity my sin must have been a horrible affront to God.  I felt bad because of what my sin had occasioned.

I now was truly afraid of going to hell.  I now realized for the first time that I can remember that not only was I going to hell but fully deserved to go to hell.  Yes, it was a frightening thought.  But if my sin required such suffering from one who was by his own testimony the sinless Son of God, then truly I deserved everything terrible I had coming to me.  I feared for my life and my eternity.  Hell was more real than it had ever been, because I had seen this man dying on a cross for my sin.

Yet, the marvel of it all is that very night when I met him at that frightful cross-roads called Calvary within a moment I met him again but this time he was standing outside an empty tomb.  He was alive.  He who had died was now alive.  There must be hope!  The tragedy of his death was followed by the triumph of his resurrection. Here was a man who had died because of sin and now was alive.  What must this mean for sin?

Before I left my knees I knew the answer.  Forgiveness and eternal life.  If I would trust his death, burial, and resurrection I would be given a pardon, I would be forgiven.  I did and he did!  I claimed the promise, he kept the promise.  I'm glad I met him that evening!

In the last forty-one years of life he has been constantly by my side, if I chose to walk with him.  If I chose not to I have always found him right where I left him.  I have never been able to leave him for very long.  I think this bears testimony to the fact that I really do belong to him.  I must be with him.  I cannot stand it when we are not walking together.  Never once when walking apart have I found him to be wrong and me to be right.  It has always, without fail, been the other way around.

What a friend he has been!  I have had forty-one years to learn of him and get to know him.  He has never disappointed me though I have often disappointed him.  It is some comfort to me that I cannot disappoint him without disappointing myself.

When I have been lonely his presence was real.
When I have been forsaken he has been true.
When I have been fearful he was my refuge.
When I have been sad he was there to cheer.
When I have been laid low he was there to pick me up.
When I have been confused he was there to straighten me out.
When I have been disobedient he was there to rebuke.
When I have been frustrated he was there to calm my heart.
When I have been tried he has been their to strengthen.
When I have been pressed beyond measure he has been there to offer relief.
When I have been brokenhearted he has been there to pick up the pieces.
When I have had joy he has been their to see that they were multiplied.
When I have been ready to give up he has been there encouraging to press on.

Simply put he has been there!  More than any other person.  More than wife, mother or father, brother or sister, son or daughter, friend or acquaintance he has been there.

So I thank God that forty-one years ago I met Jesus!  I met him for myself!  I really know him.  We walk together and talk together.  He is always there challenging, encouraging, rebuking and comforting and  I love him for it.  I love him more than I ever have but not near as much as he deserves!

If you do not know Jesus, if your life has not been turned from unrighteousness to righteousness through the repentance of sin and trusting in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ may I suggest that you open your bible and meet him at Calvary and face the horrible consequences of your sin and that you deserve hell a thousand times over.  If you will meet him there and follow his path to see him standing by an empty tomb you too can know him as I have.  If you will claim the promise through repentance and faith he will be sure to keep the promise to you as he has to me.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Turned The World Upside Down

The phrase comes from the book of Acts.  It was during Paul's second missionary journey in the ancient city of Thessalonica.  Already, the message of Christ was having a profound impact everywhere it was preached.  It did in a lot of ways cause an upheaval.  By the time this statement was made in Acts 17 the news of Christianity usually preceded it formal messengers, thus we come to verse 6 where Luke records:

And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; . . . . 

We read these words and stand in awe and admiration as we consider a ministry so powerful that the testimony of the unbelieving world is that they have turned the world upside down.  When have we really seen such a thing?  Oh, we live in a day of christian fads, flash in the pan Christianity.  It does not matter whether it is  the Moral Majority, Promise Keepers, Left Behind, WWJD, The Passion, Fire Proof, Purpose Driven Life, and memory fails me......but there have been others.

These movements or movies or books were destined to change the world or at least Christianity.  In some cases the world came by to watch for a bit and then moved on to whatever they were doing before.  In at least a few cases a few people made a lot of money.  Yet, the world remains right side up!

The problem is not the world.  The world is what it is.  The Scripture tells us the "whole world lieth in wickedness".  We should not be surprised that the world has no long term interest in Christianities hottest new novelty.  They don't even keep our attention???

Why is it that we don't seem to be able to produce a Christianity of which it could be said, they that have turned the world upside down are come hither also?  I think the answer is that we have not embraced a Christianity that has turned our world upside down.

It is hard to read Acts with an honest heart and not realize that first century Christianity was propelled forward by some people who had their lives turned upside down.  Therefore wherever they went they tended to have that effect.  Theirs was a simple policy of holy living married to a very direct style of preaching men must repent and trust the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ to escape hell and have the promise of heaven.  It was not palatable in their day either.  They suffered immeasurably at the hands of nearly everyone because of their total abandon for Christ.  Yet they persevered and managed to turn the world upside down because their own lives had been turned upside down.

Instead we have a Christianity that:

Goes to church when it feels like it
Tithes when it can afford to
Gives to missions when they can find no other way to squelch the guilt
Preaches the gospel......well......hardly ever
Never passes out a tract
Prays only when things are really bad
Struggles to find time to read the Bible
Has redefined holiness as legalism
Defined discipleship as having an extra bible study

In short, too many, myself included have not sufficiently had our lives turned upside down for the cause of Christ!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I Don't Understand

It is easy to be the kind of person that reads something in the Bible and to dismiss it in an off-handed way because it just does not make sense.  I don't understand why I should not be permitted to do a certain thing; or, I don't know why I must do a certain thing.  I don't understand why this or that is important.

There are lots of reason why we may not understand something.  Our prejudices, our personal experiences, our ancestry, our lack of knowledge can all contribute to a lack of understanding.  Sometimes it is as simple as we do not want to understand.  Understanding brings responsibility.  Responsibility creates accountability.  Accountability brings us face to face with a day of reckoning!

Refusing to understand does not diminish accountability.  What we should know we will be responsible for knowing.  When it comes to Bible truth and especially how we should live it is important to understand one of the primary components of understanding:  Obedience.  That's right, if we hope to understand we have to be willing to obey!

Psalms 111:10 provides us with this foundational principle of understanding.

". . . . a good understanding have all they that do his commandments."

Human nature wants to understand what it is to do.  God want us to do what we may not understand.  Having obeyed we will be blessed with the understanding.  The fact is some things in the spiritual world only make sense after we do them.

As long as we insist on understanding before we obey we can never have any real hope of understanding.  This is the reason so many Christians find themselves in a vicious cycle of mediocre living.  They have no passion, or sense of daring.  Their only commitment is to be different from their fathers before them but not different from the world around them!

We have raised a generation of practical atheist.  They say they believe the bible but they live like the world around them???  The decline was commenced when we began to insist on understanding before we obey.  Because we elevated understanding above obedience we will never understand and we will likely continue to more closely reflect the world around us than the bible we profess to believe.

We have robbed ourselves of the adventure of being a follower of Christ.

We have exchanged the scripture admonition of "the just shall live by faith" for the human philosophy of "the smart believe only what they can understand".  Which, by the way, tends to be very little!

It is time to raise a tribe of people who will not be afraid to march around Jericho, not because they understand but because they are committed to obeying.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Remembering What God Remembers

Psalm 103:14 reminds us of a sobering truth.  It is a truth that is easily side-stepped and often does not impact our self-assessment.  Yet it is foundational and we are told that God remembers it, even if we don't!

The verse actually tells us something God knows and something he remembers.

He knows our frame.  That is he knows how we are put together.  He knows because he did it.

Knowing our frame he remembers that we are dust.  This is a deflating reality!  We like to think we are a lot of things but dust does not often rank at the top of the list.  We forget we are dust, God remembers that we are dust!

One of the most amazing verses in the bible addresses this very truth.  We read it and go past it because we don't want to remember our humble origins because we don't want to be humble.

Genesis 2:7 - And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, . . . .

He knoweth our frame because he formed us.  In fact these two words "formed" and "framed" are very similar in nature.  God did not make man of gold, or diamonds, or silver, but dirt!  I never think of this event without remembering as a little boy taking the gumbo clay of the Texas Gulf Coast and making little clay men.  When they sat in the sun for a few hours they would become hard like rock.  God made clay men.  He made man of the dust of the ground.

The verse goes on to say in Genesis 2:7 - . . . . and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

So God took the clay man and breathed into his nostrils the "breath of life".  When God did so the clay man shudder and came to life.  The breath of God, the life of God animated the clay figure.  The eyes popped open, the heart came to life.  God imparted to his clay man what I could never impart to my little clay men.

The animation did not change the little detail that it was still the dust of the ground that had been formed by the hand of God into a man.  It was, we are animated dirt.

We wash it, and dress it, and comb it's hair, and adorn it with gold, silver, and precious stones.  We educate it, we refine it, and we cherish it and we forget that it is dust.  Forgetting it does not change it.  Remembering it might change us!  We might not have such a tendency to parade around if we remembered what God does!

Genesis 3:23 - Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

How The Apostates Do It

The following is from a message by C. H. Spurgeon entitled, Judas: The Betrayal

"Judas betrayed his Master with a kiss.  That is how most apostates do it; it is always with a kiss.  Did you ever read an infidel book in your life which did not begin with a profound respect for the truth?  I never have.  Even modern ones, when bishops write them, always begin like that.  They betray the Son of man with a kiss.  Did you ever read a book of bitter controversy which did not begin with such a sickly lot of humility, such sugar, such butter, such golden syrup, such everything sweet and soft, that you said, 'There is sure to be something bad here, for when people begin so softly and sweetly, so humbly and so smoothly - depend upon it - they have rank hatred in their hearts.'  The most devout-looking people are often the most hypocritical in the world."

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

What Will You Give Me?

The following is from a message by C. H. Spurgeon entitled, Judas: The Betrayer. 

(While holding out hand) Would you hold this for me while I go for a walk?"Let us notice the act itself.  He (Judas) sought out his own temptation.  He did not wait for the devil to come to him; he went after the devil.  He went to the chief priests and said, "What will ye give me?  Anything you like.  The Lord of life and glory sold at the buyer's own price.  What will ye give me?"  And another very prettily puts it, "What could they give him?  What did the man want?  He did not want food and raiment; he fared as well as his Master and the other disciples; he had enough; he had all that his needs could crave, and yet he said, What will ye give me?   What will ye give me?  What will ye give me?  Some people's religion is grounded on that one question - "What will you give me?"  Yes, they would go to church if there are any charities given away there, but if there were more to be got by not going they would do that.  "What will you give me?"  Some of these people are not even so wise as Judas.  There is a man over yonder who would sell the Lord for a crown, much more for ten pounds, as Judas did!  Why, there are some who will sell Christ for the smallest piece of sliver in our currency.  They are tempted to deny their Lord, tempted to act in an unhallowed way, though the gains are so paltry that a year's worth of them would not come to much.  No subject could be more dreadful than this, if we really would but look at it carefully.  This temptation happens to each of us.  Do not deny it.  We all like to gain it is but natural that we should; the propensity to acquire is in every mind, and under lawful restrictions it is not an improper propensity but when it comes into conflict with our allegiance to our Master, and in a world like this it often will, we must overcome it or perish.  There will arise occasions with some of you many times in a week in which it is "God - or gain"; Christ, or the thirty pieces of sliver"; and therefore I am the more urgent in pressing this on you."

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Self-love = Perilous Times

I Love ME!It has become popular even in Christian circles to propose that we need to have a healthy self-image.  We are informed that many of the problems today are the direct result of low self-esteem.  Our problem is that we do not love ourselves enough!  I am familiar with the arguments for such a position.  Twenty years ago I was moving in the direction of accepting that premise.  I was doing so because of the books that I was reading not because of what I was reading in the Bible.  It was something with which I was never completely comfortable.  It was a teaching that seemed destined to uproot my whole theological foundation.  It just seemed like all the intellectuals and "christian" authors and radio hosts were saying these kinds of things.  How could all these smart people be wrong.

When my whole theological outlook was on the verge of being influenced by this human philosophy I came across a book by Jay Adams.  He helped set everything aright in this area.  The things he wrote about this and other issues, while different from so much of what I was hearing seemed much more solidly rooted in Scripture.  I ended up reading about three of his books and several others that were written by people coming from a similar perspective.  Once again I was convinced I was on firm footing if not popular footing.

Our problem is not that we love ourselves too little or have a low self-esteem.  No! Our problem is that we love ourselves too much.  This premise can be often and plainly substantiated from the pages of Holy Scripture.  We really ought to be more concerned about self-control than self-image.

This morning in my Bible reading I was in 2 Timothy 3.  The first verse and first phrase of the second verse puts things in perspective.  "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, . . . ."  This should be a disturbing reality for proponents of self-love/healthy self-image.  Men loving themselves is put in a very disparaging light.  It is one, if not the first thing, that characterizes the perilous times of the last days.

In this passage loving one self is not presented as a virtue but a vice.  Consider its neighbors in the passage:  coveteous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.

What is interesting is how many of these expressions of wickedness can be traced right back to men being lovers of themselves.

What is true is that the last days are going to be perilous days and one of the main characteristics of these days it that men will be lovers of themselves.  What is tragic is that Christianity is a major catalyst of this destructive teaching.

Self-love = Perilous times!  Why would it not?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Sameness2.gifIn a world that is ever changing and in the midst of a people who clamour for change and in meeting the challenges of chaos and confusion that accompanies change the Scripture unashamedly declares in Psalms 102: 27 concerning God, "But thou art the same, . . . ."

The Bible is a treasure trove of comforting words but surely, at least for me, these five words "But thou art the same" serve as a beacon of hope and lighthouse of safety when we are tossed on a sea of uncertainty and change.

This timeless truth is expressed several times in Scripture.

Malachi 3:6 - For I am the LORD, I change not; . . . .
Hebrews 13:8 - Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
James 1:17 - Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Our circumstances change he does not!
Our relationships change he does not!
Our health changes he does not!
Our fortunes change he does not!
Our plans change he does not!
Our minds change he does not!
Our families change he does not!
Our friends change he does not!

He is the same!  For him to change would mean one of two things.  1.  He was getting better which would call into question his divinity.  2.  He was getting worse which would call into question his divinity.  As God he is perfect in all his ways.  He can not get better!  He cannot get worse!  He is the same!

Our views of him may change but he is the same.
The way we relate to him may change but he is the same.
Our understanding of him may change but he is the same.
Our fellowship with him may change but he is the same.

To hear some people talk you would think God is as morally confused and uncertain and undecided and unsure and unsettled and unstable as the passing fashions of this world.  All these things may be true of us but let us be careful not to impute our frailty upon God.  He is the same!

God is not morally confused, or uncertain or undecided or unsure or unsettled or unstable.  He is the same!

Quite frankly I love to have it so.  Being the same He is faithful and trustworthy.  If there is uncertainty it is in my own mind.  If there is confusion it is with my own understanding.

In a world where "change" is promoted as the test of intellectual acumen and true advanced thought it would do us well to remember the Bible says, "But thou art the same".

Actually I am not against all change.  We are not God and thus need to change.  The change that we need is a return to the old paths and to walk in the ways of our Fathers.  The change that is most proposed today is in the direction of accommodation of the flesh.  A change that mirrors the world instead of reflects Jesus and holiness is change in the wrong direction.

It is important that if we are going to change that it be in the direction of him of whom it is said, "Thou art the same".

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Revelation Of JesusChrist

Teh Revelation of Jesus Christ

A few weeks ago we began an expositional study through the book of Revelation.  I am as excited about this study as I have been any that I can remember.  There is excitement in moving in a new direction.  There is excitement in having an opportunity to restudy a book in the context of a greater foundation of knowledge.  Most of all there is excitement about the new perspective I am bringing to Revelation.  It is a perspective that I gained by reading through the book five or six times over about a month and a half (once out loud) and listening to it once on CD.

There seems to be a tendency to read the first line of the book (The revelation of Jesus Christ) and then immediately forget that premise.  While there is undoubtedly a lot going on in Revelation the purpose of the book is to unveil Jesus Christ.  In fact chapter one begins the process of doing just that.

Christ is the central figure.  Chapter one really introduces us to the focus and point of the Revelation.  Our tendency is to look at Revelation and see prophecy, to think about the content of the book in the context of its human impact.  During my study I hope to change that.  Such a view is, at its root, at odds with the book's stated purpose.  I do not mean to completely dismiss the human impact of the events that unfold in the pages before us but I do intend to shift the focus.  It is not so much about man as it is about Him.  It is not so much about man and his suffering in the midst of tribulation as it is about Christ and the unveiling of his glory, for He is worthy!

No sooner do we get past the personal messages to the seven churches of Asia before we are ushered into a heavenly scene that defies the imagination.  The song writer got it wrong.  You cannot only imagine!  Our imaginations are fallen and depraved!  The glories of that place and the one who rules there is beyond imagination.  Revelation is about his worthiness.

Consider the emphasis of chapters four and five:

Revelation 4:11 - Thou art worthy O, Lord
Revelation 5:2 - Who is worthy to open the book
Revelation 5:4 - No man was found worthy
Revelation 5:9 - Thou (the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world) are worthy to take the book and open the seals thereof
Revelation 5:12 - Worth is the Lamb that was slain

While we certainly see great suffering over the course of this book, we should not miss the great glory, the unveiled glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Chapter one point us in that direction.  Chapter one does not introduce us to the anti-christ, the different beasts that appear, the great whore, the false prophet, the two witnesses, the 144,000, tribulation saints, or angels.  Chapter one of the Revelation of Jesus Christ introduces us to a glorified Christ.

Throughout the text we should keep our eyes on him.  If we will all the unfolding drama will simply be on the periphery of our vision and will serve to glorify He who is worthy.

It is in Revelation where we see Jesus like we have never seen him before.

In the Old Testament we see him concealed in the folds of prophecy and we anticipate him.

During the course of the gospels we see him as one of us, we see what we were intended to be and we admire him.

At the end of the gospels we see him dying for us and being resurrected and we love him.

In the Acts we see him as the message for the world, and we preach him

In the epistles we see him explained and we study him. Revelation we see him revealed in glory and we worship Him!

Maybe this is why we are told in Revelation 1:3 - Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Enslaving Our Own Snare

Judges 2:1-5 almost seems to be ill placed on the hills of chapter one.  Judges one recounts for us the efforts of the Jewish people against the Canaanites after the death of Joshua.  It is, what appears at first glance, a remarkable record of conquest.  But the Lord's rebuke at the very beginning of chapter two forces us to go back and reevaluate what we have read.

It is a chapter that opens with the tribes of Judah and Simeon slaying 10,000 Canaanites.  It is a chapter that ends with Amorites forcing the tribe of Dan into the mountains.  A chapter that begins with the Israelites dictating to the Canaanites and ends with the Canaanites dictating to the Israelites reveals a problem somewhere.

There is a pattern that emerges as we follow the events a little more closely.

Judges 1:19 - Judah could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley.  (says who)
Judges 1:21 - The tribe of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites from Jerusalem
Judges 1:27 - Manasseh did not drive out the Canaanites but allowed them to dwell in the land
Judges 1:29 - Ephraim did not drive out the Canaanites but allowed them to dwell among them
Judges 1:30 - Zebulun did not drive out the Canaanites but allowed them to dwell among them
Judges 1:31,32 - Asher did not drive out the Canaanites but dwelt among the Canaanites
Judges 1:33 - Naphtali did not drive out the Canaanites but dwelt among the Canaanites
Judges 1:34 - The Amorites (Canaanites) forced the tribe of Dan into the mountains and would not allow them to come down to the valley.

Judah, could not drive the Canaanites out.  Benjamin did not drive the Canaanites out.  Manasseh, Ephraim, and Zebulun did not drive them out but let the Canaanites dwell among them.  Asher and Naphtali did not drive out the Canaanites but dwelt among the Canaanites.  The Danites were driven into the mountains by the Canaanites.

We read of each of these tribes putting the Canaanites under tribute, that is they enslaved them.  A great arrangement, right?  The Israelites were in possession of most of the land, they were prospering at the expense of the Canaanites.  This was a good idea.  Wrong!  It was a bad idea.  Again Judges 2:1-5 make this clear.  God was not happy with their foreign policy.

He reminds them in Judges 2:1  of his faithfulness to them.

He reminds them in the first part of Judges 2:2 of his instruction to them.

He calls them to account in the last part of verse 2.

"Ye have not obeyed my voice."  They were to drive out the inhabitants of the land, in fact they were to have no pity upon them.

"Why have ye done this."  It is as though God is saying to them after all I have done FOR you why are you doing this TO me?

No doubt their disobedience had seemed a small thing to them.  Disobedience to God is never a small thing.  In their seemingly small disobedience they had sown the seeds that would seal the fate of their theocracy.

Even a small step down is still decline.
Even a small departure is still departure.
Even a small apostasy is still apostasy.
Even a little disobedience is still disobedience.
Even a little backsliding is still backsliding.

What was the response of the people?

Judges 2:4 - They wept.  Were they weeping because of their disobedience?  Were they weeping because of the consequences of their disobediecne?  One is a godly sorrow that works repentance.  The other is a worldly sorrow that laments getting caught.

Judges 2:5 - They sacrificed.  Sacrifice is a good thing, but it does not take the place of obedience.  "To obey is better than to sacrifice."

Instead of weeping and sacrificing they should have been on the field of battle driving out the Canaanites!

Of course the judgment for their disobedience according to Judges 2:3 is that the Canaanites would be as thorns in their sides and their gods would be a snare unto them.

So they found themselves in the awkward position of having enslaved their own snare!

Have you, through some small disobedience, enslaved your own snare?

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Heritage Of Herod

The following is from a sermon preached by C. H. Spurgeon about Herod entitled, That Fox.

Italian  The Head of Saint John the Baptist  NG1438  The ...
"I conclude by showing you very sorrowful what became of Herod.  With all his good points he ended most wretchedly.  First, he slew the preacher whom he once respected.  It was he who did it, though the executioner was the instrument.  He said, "Go and fetch John the Baptist's head in a charger."  So it has happened with many hopeful hearers; they have become slanderers and persecutors of the very preachers before whom they once trembled, and far as they could they have taken off their heads.  After a time men dislike being rebuked, and they proceed in their dislike till they scoff at the things they once reverenced, and make the name of Christ a football for their jests.  Beware!  I pray you, beware! for the way of sin is downhill.  Herod feared John, and yet he beheaded him.  A person may be evangelical  . . . and yet, if he is placed under certain conditions, he may become a hater and a persecutor of the truth he once avowed."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

It Came To Pass

God's Biblical HeroesJudges 1:1 opens the book of Judges on a very somber note.  It is no doubt a day of national mourning for the people of Israel.

Joshua, their leader in battle, is dead.  Joshua is an interesting character.  He is one of those second tier Bible characters that is more well known than most but not as well known as some.  Joshua was a great man.  He is one of only two men, the other being Caleb, who actually lived in Egypt.  Their whole generation died in the wilderness because of unbelief that resulted in disobedience.  This is always the case.  It was Joshua and Caleb of the twelve spies that brought back a good report.  They did not underestimate the challenges before them but they highlighted the promise of God before them. They were, Joshua was, a man of faith.

Joshua had been Moses' right-hand man.  He was his assistant.  The bible says he was Moses' minister.  His skills for leadership had been nurtured in service to another man.  Joshua is always lurking in the background.  After the death of Moses, Joshua receives a call from God.  Joshua 5:13-15  It was a personal visitation from God on a par with a burning bush experience.

Joshua led the people over the Jordan river and to victory over Jericho.  There were many other victories after that initial one.  Joshua had taken to heart the admonition of the LORD to, "be strong and of a good courage."  Joshua was a great man who probably does not get his due for one simple fact.  He followed Moses.  I suppose it could be argued concerning Moses that a greater man has never lived.  Moses is clearly hovering around the top of the first tier of bible characters.  So Joshua lives out his days of service in the shadow of Moses.  Wouldn't it be nice if we all were afforded such an opportunity!

Yet we get to Judges 1:1 and we are told, "Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, . . . ."  I read that and I can only think, it always does.  It always comes to pass.  We should be thankful that is always comes to pass.  What we learn is God's work is not dependent upon one man.  It is God's work and he uses men.  It is always good for us to remember that we are instruments in his hand.  Our desire should be to be "fit for the master's use."

Men die and God continues his work.  Great men die but God's work does not!

Abraham died and God's program moved forward.
Jacob died and God's program moved forward.
Joseph died and God's program moved forward.
Moses died and God's program moved forward.
Joshua died but God still lives and thus it can be written "and it came to pass."

Therefore, let us soberly contemplate:
When those before us died, "it came to pass."
When we die it will, "come to pass."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


File:U-turn.png - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaIf my people, which are called by my name, shall . . . turn from their wicked ways . . . .
2 Chronicles 7:14

This is one of four things that God indicated the children of Israel would have to do should they find themselves in a backslidden condition and consequently forfeiting the promises of God.

The other three are: humble themselves, pray, and seek my face.  Turning from their wicked ways is last not because it is least important but because it is impossible without the prerequisites of humility, prayer, and seeking his face.  We are a long way from turning and thus we turn to redefining.

Wickedness tends to get redefined in every generation.  Churches over the last few decades have been far too willing to strike a deal with the world.  We don't want to offend, or be a bigot, or seem radical, or be uncharitable, or be guilty of legalism or isolate ourselves, oooorrrr be a disciple of Jesus Christ!  We too often would rather have the world happy with us than Jesus!

If we simply redefine wickedness we discover we never have anything from which to turn!  How handy!  All those wicked people out there need to stop their sinning, but we are not wicked.  Women and young ladies paint themselves up like Jezebel but we are not wicked.  We dress like the cocktail crowd and go to the dance but we are not wicked.  We go to movies and support the Hollywood crowd but we are not wicked.  We watch movies and programs on TV that would embarrass our grandparents but we are not wicked.  Women dress like men and men act like women but we are not wicked.  We spend hours a week doing what we want but have no time to pray and seek his face but we are not wicked.  We take our clothes off and go the beach or swimming pool but we are not wicked.  We add Christian to our music labels and call it good but we are not wicked.

Isaiah 5:20 says woe unto them that call evil good.  We never do that?!

If we really want the country to turn then we must turn.  We are waiting on the politics to turn.  We are waiting on the economy to turn.  We are waiting on the morality to turn.  We are waiting on the courts to turn.  We are waiting on the preacher to turn.  We are waiting on church members to turn.  We are waiting on something or someone else to turn.

God is waiting on us to turn.  He is waiting on me to turn.  He is waiting on you to turn.  We all should find something from which to turn, some wickedness.  Just admit it for what it is and turn from it.

Have a good and holy day!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Theocracy In Decline

A week ago Sunday evening I began a series through the book of Judges entitled Theocracy In Decline.  I had been thinking, reading, and preparing for the start of the series for at least a couple of months.  I am excited to be started.  I love to preach from the OT narratives.  There are so many practical lessons to be learned.

Judges chronicles the fits and starts of the only true theocracy the world has ever known.  The people being governed were God’s chosen people the Israelites.  The very ones, whom he had delivered from Egypt with an outstretched hand, led through and provided for in the wilderness, and promised them the land.  Their King was the true God, creator of heaven and earth.  They had a perfect law.  They had an established religion.  It was all right, except their hearts.

It was a theocracy in which the king (God himself) raised up men to lead them, or in the case of Judges men to deliver them.  But, there were no monarchs, no ruling families.  The tribe of Levi and the family of Aaron is about the closest we get to that.  The people were to be devoted to God and their leaders were to direct their devotion to God.  The problem is the people struggled with being devoted to God.  As such we have the familiar declaration beginning to occur in Judges 17:6, “There was no king in Israel.”  It was a phrase which ended several times with the statement that, “every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”

It is not technically that there was no king, but the King was not being sought and obeyed, so effectively it was as though there was no king in Israel.  It devolved into anarchy.  The last several chapters of the book bear out this reality when the religious and moral decay of the people is paraded before our eyes.

I found myself asking after reading the book several times, why Judges??  The question became pronounced and I realized before I started the series I would need to answer that question in a way that I could be confident of my conclusion.  Certainly it was not given just to unfold the exploits of a few men.  Of course it was not given for its entertainment value although it is certainly entertaining.  Judges as much as any book of the Bible is a book of war, intrigue deception, seduction, murder, civil unrest, pride and self-promotion.  It lacks nothing on that front.

The book covers a time period of approximately 400 years.  But it cannot be for the purpose of just filling up the space of 400 years.  There was 400 years between Malachi and Matthew when nothing is said.  There is about 400 years between Genesis and Exodus.  My point is it would not have been unheard of to allow 400 years slip by with little notice.

There is a lot going on in Judges.  It is not all bad.  There are some good things that happen here, as you well know.  Even some great things.  Some great men, men of faith are presented to us here.  There are some great acts recorded here.  I intend to give these men and women their due.  There were also some foolish things done by some great men.  Why Judges??  The answer is found in two passages one in Joshua and the other in 1 Samuel.

Joshua 24:14-18 – Therefore will we also serve the LORD; for he is our God.

1 Samuel 2:12-22 – Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD.

Judges explains how we get from the people saying we will serve the LORD for he is our God to the sons of the High Priest being sons of Belial and not knowing the LORD.

Judges explains how we get from the state of things at the end of Joshua to the state of things when we get to the beginning of 1 Samuel.  It teaches us about the downward spiral.  It gives us a 400 year overview.

A 400 year overview that begins with the death of a great man.

Monday, July 18, 2011


authority link building ideasLuke 20:1-8

In this passage a question rises about authority.  Who has authority?  What is the origin of the authority?

The chief priests and scribes wanted to know from whence Jesus received the authority to do "these things".  At the end of the previous chapter he had for the second time in about three years cleansed the temple.  Then in the first verse of the present chapter he assumed the place of a teacher in the Temple.

The chief priests and scribes obviously believed they had authority to question Jesus' authority.  Jesus, instead of answering them outright, put another question on the table.  It was a question that also addressed the issue of authority.  It was a question about the baptism of John.  " . . . was it from heaven, or of men?"  Did John's baptism have divine authority or merely human authority.  It mattered!  It was a question that put the religious leaders on the horns of a dilemma.  To answer one way was to condemn themselves.  To answer another way was to be condemned by the people.  Answer:  We cannot tell whence it was.

Jesus seizes on their indecision and trumps their perceived authority by refusing to answer from whence he derived his authority.  The fact that Jesus engages the religious leaders concerning the issue of authority indicates that he understood the importance of establishing authority.  In this case it was not Jesus who exceeded his authority by acting but the religious leaders by asking.  In an attempt to call Jesus on the carpet they had the rug pulled out from under them.

Issues of authority are a relevant part of our every day life.

Clan life
Civic life
Church life
Craft life

Who has authority?
From whence is the authority derived?
What, if any, are the limits on authority?
Are there competing authorities?
Are there over-lapping authorities?
What are the boundaries of jurisdiction?
Is there a higher authority?

How we answer these questions concerning the different areas of life will determine our decisions.  The choices we make will ultimately be judged by He who has all authority and whose rule has unlimited jurisdiction.

Friday, July 08, 2011

As I Was Commanded

Flower policy keeps Vietnam Vet from honoring wife's grave ...Ezekiel 24:15-18 - Also the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke: yet neither shalt thou mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down.  Forbear to cry, make no mourning for the dead, bind the tire of thine head upon thee, and put on thy shoes upon thy feet, and cover not thy lips, and eat not the bread of men.  So I spake unto the people in the morning: and at even my wife died; and I did in the morning as I was commanded.

If we slow down and read the book of Ezekiel carefully we will find a number of things God told Ezekiel to do that leaves the 21st century Christian a tad troubled.  Before us is one of those places.  It is easy to read past it and fail to grasp the gravity of what Ezekiel has been instructed to do.

It can be summarized in short order.  God was going to take Ezekiel's wife and he was instructed to show no sign of mourning.  This is incomprehensible to our minds and we find ourselves on the verge of questioning God.  But to do so would not be productive and assumes that we could possibly know better than God.  This is not a conclusion with which I am comfortable.  He is in heaven and I upon earth.  He is eternal and I have been around 48 years.

While it may not be productive to question God's reason for the seeming madness the Scriptures answers the purpose for which God had Ezekiel do this.

Verse 24 - Thus Ezekiel is unto you a sign: according to all that he hath done shall ye do: and when this cometh, ye shall know that I am the LORD GOD.

This explanation may not do much to comfort our hearts but it does inform our intellect.  We at least know the purpose even if we don't understand the reason.

Ezekiel in so many cases became God's living object lesson!  Ezekiel, even though we are far removed from the intent of this prophecy concerning the nation of Israel, still leaves a lesson for us in his behaviour.

Verse 18 is striking.  So I spake unto the people in the morning: and at even my wife died; and I did in the morning as I was commanded.

Ezekiel had been commanded to do something that was very unnatural.  He was called upon to suppress the mourning for his wife.  He was in effect to go about his day as though nothing had happened.  He was not to weep, cry, or mourn.  He was to get dressed and go about his business.  This is a remarkable thing that he is being called upon to do.

What is Ezekiel's response.  . . . . I did in the morning as I was commanded.

Lord help me this morning and every morning to do as I am commanded.

Friday, April 08, 2011

The Prodigal Son - The Response Of Grace

The Prodigal SonThe demand, need, and desire for grace is for nought unless we have some confidence about the response of grace.  It is here in Luke 15:20-24 we make note of the response of grace, and it is glorious!

Verse 20 brings to our attention the reception of grace.  It begins with the son acting upon what he had determined to do.  "And he arose and came to his Father."  He didn’t just think about taking action, he did take action.  He returned to the very place where it had all went wrong.

While he headed in that direction he was not able to make it all the way before grace restores.  "But when he was yet a great way off."  He did not make it all the way back to the house.  "His father saw him."  It makes one think he was looking for him.  Grace is always looking and hoping for restoration.  Grace anticipates restoration.

The response of the Father is grand and glorious, "And had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him."  He assumed by his return that it was for restoration.  If he had been returning for more he likely would have been disappointed.  He was returning for less.  He had come home!

He smelled worse than ever.
He was humiliated.
He was in rags.
He was a physical shell of what he had once been.

He returned and grace received. 

In verse 21 we are afforded the opportunity to marvel at the recognition of grace.  The son stated his understanding of the situation just as he had rehearsed.  The gracious reception by his father probably made him realize even more how unworthy he was.  He was not returning as a son, but as a supplicant seeking employment as a servant.  As you will note he does not have a chance to speak the latter part of his resolve, “make me as one of thy hired servants.”

Then in verse 22 we see grace doing what it does best: Restoring!
"But"  What an important word in Scripture!  It is this very word that allows us to pivot from the desire for grace to the response of grace.  Not being worthy is the perfect opportunity for grace.  He did not return to be a son, but a servant.  His father cut him off in mid sentence.

"The father said to his servants, bring forth the best robe and put it on him."
The best robe for the worst of sons!  Grace!
Cover his shame and destitute state!  Grace!

"And put a ring on his hand."
Ornamenting the hand that had been lifted up in rebellion against God and his Father!  Grace!
Adorning the hand that had held the wine glass and embraced the harlot!  Grace!
Beautifying the hand that had fed the swine!  Grace!

"And shoes on his feet."
Restore his dignity.  Grace

Then finally in verses 23 and 24 we relish in the rejoicing of grace.

"And bring hither the fatted calf and kill it: and let us eat it, and be merry."
Remove his remorse!  Grace!
Restore his joy!  Grace!
Supply his need!  Grace!

"For this my son was dead."  This tells us how the father viewed him.  The alienation because of the boy’s rebellion was thorough.

"And is alive again."  This tells us how the father viewed him.  The restoration because of the boy’s repentance was thorough.

"He was lost, and is found."  We always rejoice when we find lost things.  Was lost, past tense.  Is found, present tense.  He is not what he was!  Grace!

"And they began to be merry."  This is a good and proper expression at the response of GRACE!