Jun 082015

By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast.

Job 37:10

I love the ice! Not the kind of ice that ruins travel on roads or the ice the weighs heavily on power lines, blowing out transformers and making power lines fall to the ground, causing power outages. But I love the ice on a frozen pond or at an ice rink. Actually, I love to play hockey! I learned to skate at age 5. Our pond in Cincinnati, Ohio, would freeze over in the winter. So me, my brothers, my cousin, and neighborhood friends played hockey. Every winter from age 5 to 18, I played as much as possible. One of our chief inspirations for playing was the 1980 Winter Olympics, when the US Men’s hockey team, a huge underdog, defeated the Olympic favorite, the USSR. Right at the height of the Cold War, the victory of the US men stunned the world. It has been called the “Miracle on ice.” We relived that game on ice countless times. I was 9 years old and remember the game like it was yesterday.

The Russians had beaten Team USA just two weeks before in an exhibition game 10-3! No one would have picked Team USA beat the Russians now in the semi-final match. After the first period of the game on February 22, 1980, the score was tied 2-2. The Soviets scored another goal in the second period, making the score now 3-2 going into the 3rd. Mark Johnson of team USA scored a goal with 11:21 left in the game. Just 1 minute and 21 seconds later, team USA’s Mike Eruzione, got free with the puck and shot it passed the Soviet goalie giving the USA a 4-3 lead! And yes, Team USA held the Soviets without scoring in the final 10 minutes to win the match. I have never seen such a sports celebration before or since in my life. It truly was the “Miracle on Ice.” Beating the USSR placed Team USA in the gold medal game and the US beat Finland to take the gold.

But enough of hockey! Let’s look to the Miracle of Ice! Where does it come from? How does it form in the sky? Who really controls the weather? Does man? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Only God does! That is what the Word of God tells us. Here in Job, ice is given by the breath of God and by His breath the broad waters are frozen fast. In Job 38:29, the Lord asks Job, “From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the frost of heaven?” Following a long string of God’s questions to Job, He can only reply, “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.” (Job 40:4-5) Job realizes that only a sovereign God controls all the weather, and the water in all its forms. Not one drop of rain, or mist, or frozen precipitation, falls apart from the sovereign will of God.

Last week, following the snow storm in the Southeast, the Governor of NC, Pat McCrory, was chided by a CBS reporter because McCrory dared to say that the climate is ultimately controlled by God and not man. The Governor of North Carolina is absolutely right. No where does Scripture say that man causes weather or climatic changes. No! Only God does that. Just ask the Russian ship that recently went to the Antarctica with scores of scientists to study global warming and got stuck in the ice! It took efforts from 3 nations to rescue them! If we read the Bible, we will learn that God controls the weather. Read Job 37. At His voice come thunders and lightning. At his command it rains or snows. At his bidding we feel the wind. By His will He loads the clouds with moisture. He spreads out the skies and balances everything with wisdom. When I saw the ice last week, I thought, “O how mighty, and wise and glorious is our Triune God. How powerful is He!” The miracle on ice is nothing compared to the miracle of ice! Let us praise Him today for His power and sovereignty and love! To Him be the glory forever, Amen! I love you all!

Pastor Bill

Jun 052012

Consider the work of God: who can make straight what He has made crooked?

Ecclesiastes 7:13 (ESV, emphasis added)

This is a jaw-dropping verse! I bow in awe and humility before the One True and Living God who is sovereign over all things.

In God’s gracious providence, He has allowed me to pastor the most wonderful and caring people in the world! Though we are small, the sheep at RBC are very significant and precious in God’s sight. Every single one is worth every sacrifice I need to make. My dream is that the Doctrines of Grace would fill these mountains through a faithful, Reformed Baptist Church. The people at RBC have given so much of themselves for the church as a whole and for me as their pastor. I write today with a heart burdened for our people. I sense the weight of helping our people through the crooked lots in their life.

A “lot” is a word that describes all the things that God has ordained for our lives. The famous hymn, “It is Well with My Soul,” says it like this: “Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well, with my soul.’” As you can see, Horatio Spafford, the hymn writer, uses the word “lot” in reference to every circumstance, whether straight or crooked, that God has sovereignly ordained for us. Prosperity and poverty, health and sickness, triumphs and trials, have all been ordained by our loving Father. As we are learning in our catechism time, each comes not by chance, but by His Fatherly hand. Spafford’s words are very difficult to live out. Can I truly say that whatever God has ordained for me, it is still well with my soul?

Ecclesiastes 7:14 says this: “In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that (or “for the purpose that”) man may not find out anything that will be after him.” Oh the wisdom and power and sovereignty of God! God ordains all things so that we would constantly depend on him, because only He knows the big picture. We have no clue as to what might happen next. We can only guess what tomorrow will bring, and that truth reminds us that we are the creatures and that He, the Creator, rules.

I have been pondering the lots of our people (what God has ordained for us) and the entire ministry of RBC. I woke this morning to find an email ad for a reprint of an old Puritan book, written by Thomas Boston, entitled The Crook in the Lot. I found that I could download it on my Kindle for $.99. I quickly did, and as advertised, Amazon had that book in my hand in less than one minute! Then I began reading… and I couldn’t help but see that the message of this book was so desperately needed for me and our people. It is based on Ecclesiastes 7:13, the verse quoted above.

Only by the means of faith can we have a right view of our lots. Believers must “walk by faith and not by sight.” What does Solomon say here? The crook in our lot is His doing. Yes, you read it right. The crook in your lot is His doing! There is absolutely nothing we can do in our own power to make straight what God has ordained to be crooked. Boston says, “Such a view of the crook in our lot is very suitable to still improper risings of heart, and quiet us under them.” What are the improper risings of heart that you are experiencing right now? Only the biblical view of God’s sovereignty can quiet them. Listen further: “As to the crook in your lot, God has made it; and it must continue while He will have it so. Should you ply your utmost force to even it, or make it straight, your attempt will be vain: it will not change for all you can do. Only He who made it can mend it, or make it straight. This consideration, this view of the matter, is a proper means at once to silence and to satisfy men, and so bring them to a dutiful submission to their Maker and Governor, under the crook in their lot” (empahsis mine).

God designs our circumstances for His glory and for our everlasting good. He is faithful to conform us into the image of His Son. Do we want to become more like Jesus? Do we want to grow spiritually? As Beth and I were talking about these things this morning, she reminded me of a hymn written by John Newton. It’s one you and I should memorize and carefully consider. Here is “I Asked the Lord That I Might Grow,” by John Newton, author of “Amazing Grace.”

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, His face.

’Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer!
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
“’Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”

To my brothers and sisters at RBC, and to whomever reads this post, please read this carefully. God wants us to find our all in Him. Let your lot, which God has graciously designed, cause you to pursue Him with all your heart. Do we want to be like Jesus? This is the path. Yes, the Bible does say that if we trust Him He will make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6), but remember that Proverbs are not promises![1] They are general principles of life that are meant to guide us in wisdom and grow us in the fear of the Lord. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. Proverbs 3:5-6 does not mean everything will be smooth for us; it does not teach that if things are not smooth, then we must not be trusting God. This is a great error. God is sovereign, and He designs crooked lots in His wisdom. I will write about this more, but what we see in this world of sin is that God might straighten one thing and then make another thing crooked. He might ease your headache today, but the car might break down tomorrow, and then the headache starts again!

“Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him, how I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er. Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus, O for grace to trust Him more.” L. Stead, 1882.

I need grace to trust Him in my crooked lot. How about you? Let us cry out to Him together and love Him and trust Him more!

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[1] A prime example is Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he old he will not depart from it.” I have known many children that have been trained in the ways of the Lord that are not walking in God’s truth. God is sovereign over every heart. This verse is a general principle. It simply means that wherever our children go, their training goes with them. They can never escape the lessons that godly parents have taught them, but such teaching does not guarantee that the child will walk in God’s ways. Only God can change a sinner’s heart.