I recently took a week off for our family to spend time with my parents (and other relatives) in Montana. We soaked in the sun, caught up with family, played with dry ice, floated down a river on tubes, spent hours in the car road-tripping, joined thousands of others to tour Yellowstone, saw Old Faithful erupt (three times), saw elk, bison, and grizzly bears, and did much more. So we packed in a lot in a week’s time. One scary moment was losing track of our daughter among the throngs of people at Old Faithful. Thankfully, she was with others in our group. At least I’ll have a sermon illustration the next time I preach from Luke 2:41-52.
I actually like coming home from vacation, so I was glad to be back. But it was a restful time away from our usual responsibilities here in Alaska.
This past Lord’s Day our Sunday School class watched the next-to-last episode of the video series The Protestant Revolt. If you haven’t seen it, or if you missed an episode, click on the link and you can stream them for free. Sunday’s video was on the martyrs of the Reformation. The bravery of the men and women of the Reformation who were willing to die (sometimes in horrific ways) for the sake of Christ and the gospel is incredible and humbling. By God’s grace, the worst of times can bring out the best in believers.
At the morning service I preached from Luke 3:1-14, focusing on John’s message of repentance. Though John didn’t understand that Christ would not bring an immediate judgment upon the wicked (the judgment he preached will come when Christ returns), nevertheless his message is just as urgent for us today. Apart from repentance there is no salvation. And true repentance will always bear fruit (vs. 8, 9), fruit that corresponds to the very individual ways that we have sinned against God (vs. 10-14). Though a command, repentance is also a gift of God’s grace (2 Timothy 2:25). Therefore, like Augustine, we must pray that God will grant us the very thing he commands (“O Lord, command what you will and give what you command”).
Since we celebrated the Lord’s Supper, I ended with a brief meditation on the sacrament. As well as the prospect of judgment, God’s kindness leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). As we see the kindness of God in the broken body and shed blood of Christ for us, may God grant us hearts filled with a readiness to turn from sin and towards our merciful Savior.
At the evening service we learned about the keys of the kingdom (Matthew 16:19) from Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 31.
Here’s an encouraging message from Michael Reeves on the power of God to bring light out of darkness. This was the first time I’ve heard a recording of his preaching, but we’ve been blessed reading his (and Tim Chester’s) book Why the Reformation Still Matters for our Theology Class.
And here’s a quick introduction to the Heidelberg Catechism if you’re interested to learn more about it.
Soli Deo Gloria!