Preaching from the Grave

A year ago today, Rockford lost a great man, Pat Clinton. Because of his service to Christ, he is one of those we are to “hold in high regard” (Philippians 2:29).  Pat pastored five different churches and spent his last years serving the needy at Rockford Rescue Mission. As a young pastor in Rockford, I will always remember the way that Pat welcomed me and loved me and gave me a bit of helpful advice.  Because his death wasn’t sudden, he was able to write his own obituary. Let’s let him preach another message from the grave. Pat wrote in his obituary, …

“After a two year battle with brain cancer, I graduated to heaven at 1:12 p.m. Monday, March 7, 2011. When I was 9 years old, I believed John 3:16 and received eternal life. As it says in Scripture, I am fully rejoicing in the wonders of the triune God. … It is my heart’s desire that each of you would come to love and trust Jesus Christ as your own personal Lord and Savior. His death and resurrection provided the way for us to have forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Inviting Christ to be the Lord of your life, seeking His merciful forgiveness, and believing He is indeed the Son of God will ensure that you also receive eternal life. … On my grave stone that will one day be shared with [my wife] are these descriptive words: “Lovers of Jesus Christ” and “Rejoicing & Waiting for You”. If you have never decided to love and trust Jesus as your Savior, don’t wait. It is the most important decision you will ever make.”

Sprinkling vs. Immersion

This Sunday I talked about baptism in my sermon. I told the (fictitious) story of the discussion between the Presyterian (who believes in sprinkling infants) and the Baptist (who believes in dunking adults). They were debating the merits of sprinkling vs. immersion.

The Presbyterian said, “Tell me this. You’re a Baptist. If a man goes into the water up to his knees, is he baptized?”
The Baptist said “No, he is not.”
“Well if he goes in up to his waist, is he baptized?”
“Of course not.”
“If he goes in up to his shoulders?”
“Not yet.”
“Well, suppose he goes in clear up to the top of his head, is he baptized then?”
“Yes!” the Baptist said.
“Ah,” said the Presbyterian, “you see, it’s the water on top of the head that counts!”



In any given football game, teams huddle before each play to plan their next play.  In a typical NFL game, this means that some 120-140 times you get to see this take place.  In the huddle, each player is told what they need to do. Then, they go out to seek to execute the play.  Sometimes it goes well.  Sometimes it goes poorly.  Nevertheless, when it’s done, they gather together for another play.

This is a bit like the activities of the church.  We gather together on a weekly basis to be reminded of our task each week:  to trust and obey.  We trust the Lord for His saving grace in our life.  We leave the gathering seeking to obey Him for His glory.  Sometimes the week goes well.  Other times the week goes poorly.  Nevertheless, we come back each week to regroup.

“Do not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25).

Fighter Verses

I finally did it. I bought my first App for my iPod Touch. In general, I have attempted to use any free software that’s available. I tell my children that $0.99 is too expensive (even for Angry Birds). But, I gave in this time. I purchased the Fighter Verses App from Desiring God for $2.99. And I am glad that I did. It has exceeded my expectations.

There is a group of us at church who are memorizing the Fighter Verses from Bethlehem Baptist Church. This App makes it easy to do. Wherever I am, these verses are available to me (and my family). Especially helpful are the way that the verses are set to song. These verses are especially chosen to help in the fight for sanctification, which is certainly worth $2.99.

Finding Your Way

My wife is from California. Moving to Illinois has been quite a transition for her. Apart from the differences in weather and traffic and season changes, there has been another transition which took her some getting used to. It was the sense of direction. She grew up in the hills of northern California, where she could always get her bearing by looking to Mount Diablo, which towered over the region. However, in Illinois she encountered the flat-lands. It took her some time to get used to other ways to detect north. Over time, she has overcome and is much better at directions than I am.

When it comes to reading the Bible, we don’t live in the flatlands, where keeping our bearings is difficult. There is a hill that helps us keep the course. It’s called Calvary, that place where Jesus died. As you read the Bible, keep your eye upon the cross, or else you will soon get lost. J. I. Packer said it well, “the traveler through the Bible landscape misses his way as soon as he loses sight of the hill called Calvary” (J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness [Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1990], p. 286).

Why Do You Obey?

When it comes to following Jesus, it’s not just about doing what He says.  Motivation behind the obedience is key.  Which statement represents your life?

    • “I obey; therefore, I’m accepted.”
    • “I’m accepted; therefore, I obey.”

The first statement is the crux of most religions.  People obey God (or their gods) to be accepted.  If they don’t obey, they won’t be accepted.   The second statement represents the Christian faith.  We are accepted in Christ through faith. As a result, we willingly obey His commands.  (See Tim Keller, Gospel in Life [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010], p. 16).

I encourage you to think long and hard about the differences in these two statements. They make all the difference in the world.