Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I've been reading—and thoroughly enjoying--the biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, fittingly entitled "Bonhoeffer.” The book tells of an occasion, in 1928, when he was visited a church in France and noticed many "heavily burdened people," and how they were naturally disposed to prayer. He remarked, "Nothing is so at odds with prayer as vanity." Prayer is for the needy.

It is the realization of our needs that drives us to our knees. Jesus told a parable of a Pharisee and a Publican. The self-righteous Pharisee prayed, not to God, but to himself as he acknowledged his superiority. The Publican cried out to God, "God, be merciful to me, the sinner!" (Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisee had supposed he had no needs and did not pray (at least not to God). The Publican saw his need and cried out to God in prayer.

God knows we are needy creatures. His exhortations to us to pray speak to our neediness: "But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God" (James 1:5); "Let us therefore draw near...that we...may find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:5); "casting all your anxiety (anxiety=worry about needs) upon Him, because He cares for you" (1 Pet. 5:6).

It is quite possible for any of us to be misled regarding our true condition. The Laodecian church wrongly assumed themselves to be in "need of nothing" (Rev. 3:17). They would not have been a praying church. James chided the proud, "You do not have, because you do not ask" (James 4:2). A spirit of humility is essential to prayer. Humility is honestly assessing ourselves in view of God’s holiness and our sinfulness. In humility we realize that God is perfect in all of His attributes. In humility we realize we "fall short” of His perfection.

Humility is not native to sinful soil. It is by the Spirit alone that we—as proud, rebel sinners--were brought to the point of humble trust in Christ for salvation. It is by the Spirit that we now recognize our total dependence on Him. The believer in Christ is “already” perfect with regards to his position (Col. 2:10), but “not yet”—and far from it—with regards to his practice (Phil. 3:12). An awareness of the dichotomy between the "already" and "not yet" is reason enough for us to pray. A Spirit-borne passion for growth in Christlikeness burdens our hearts and instructs our prayers . A Spirit-borne compassion for others causes us to intercede on their behalf (Col. 1:28; Rom. 10:1; 2 Tim. 2:1-4).

Needs of every kind surround us and threaten, at times, to overwhelm us. We are needier than we think that we are. The extent of our sin problem is greater than we realize. The spiritual opposition we face is stronger than we think. God’s purpose and plan for us in Christ is “exceeding abundantly” beyond what we can imagine (Eph. 3:19-21). Prayer is for the humble inasmuch as they alone appreciate the gravity of the task at hand. They know that the things that need to be, cannot be, apart from God’s intervention (John 15:5).

Prayer is for the needy and for those having faith in God. "Faith is the assurance of things of things hoped for" (Heb. 11:1). Prayer exercised in faith trusts in God and His readiness and ability to respond to our need. God says, "Ask and it shall be given to you" (Matt. 7:7). Asking is such a simple thing--a person in need asks of someone who is able to meet the need. God is able, more than able. The angel declared to Mary, “Nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). God is indeed able "to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask" (Eph. 3:20). He is well-pleased to respond to the requests of His grace-needy children (Rom. 8:32). He is glorified in His abundant provision providing both “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.”

God exhorts us to "draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:16). Needy souls need look no further. God is on the throne—and it is a throne of grace! He knows all about our troubles. He bids us to bring them to His throne—to cast them upon Him (1 Pet. 5:7). From His presence He freely dispenses both mercy and grace. His provision can never be exhausted. He will not turn His children away (James 1:5). We have the freedom to come at any time in any place with requests both great and small.

I have it in my mind that the throne of grace—like a stream in a populated desert--ought to be well-attended by countless souls. But in pride, the thirsty refuse to go. They wander about frantically searching for some other source of refreshment. It is sinful pride that keeps them from the obvious. But it is the Spirit who humbles them and drives them back. And they find, in Him, “rivers of living water” to satisfy their innermost longings and needs. Are you needy? If so, prayer is for you!

Pastor Jerry

Thursday, January 20, 2011


This excerpt is from the book "Bonhoeffer" and is his commentary on the preaching he heard in New York City: "In New York City they preach about virtually everything; only one thing is not addressed, or is addressed so rarely that I have as yet been unable to hear it, namely, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the cross, sin and forgiveness, death and life."

1 Cor. 2:2, "For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified."

Sunday, January 9, 2011


If you have listened to the news yesterday you know that there was a shooting in Tuscon, Arizona, at a community open house hosted by congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Six people were killed, thirteen others were shot (including the congresswoman), outside a Safeway store, by a mentally unstable man.

Among those who were killed was a 9 year old girl, Christina Taylor Green. She had just been elected to her school’s student council. She had gone to the gathering that she could learn more about her government. Ironically, she was born on September 11th, 2011--the date of her birth and of her death, from this day forward, will both mark tragic days in the history of our country.

We should pray for the families of those who died and those who have been shot. Some of the wounded are still in the hospital. Some have suffered wounds in their souls that only God can heal. May the God of all comfort give comfort...

Not a day goes by without hearing of some tragic act of senseless violence in which innocent people are killed. These events are not far removed from us--just this past week the police chief of Rainier was killed in another act of senseless violence.

In the months to come we are going to hear again about how we need to do something to stop the senseless violence that is occurring in our country these days. Some will say that there is a need for better gun control. Others are already saying that something needs to be done to change the nature of political discourse in our country. Still others will argue that there is a need for better security at such events and gatherings--though acts of violence happen today in malls, businesses, schools, churches--no place is exempt..

None of these things strike at the core of the problem. “We have met the enemy and it us” said Pogo, the cartoon character. And it is true--it is us. Since the fall of man, man has been killing his fellow man. Since Cain killed Abel--senseless violence has characterized man’s existence on planet earth.

We were warned, long ago, of the nature of things to come in these last days. 2 Tim. 3:1-5, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gospels, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God...”

And I don’t intend to take a lot of time here, but I just want to say that people, government officials, news media people, and others are going to suggest a lot of things to try to fix what is happening in the society in which we live. I just want to say--ahead of time--that any solutions that fail to address the sin problem that exists in the heart of man--are not true and lasting solutions.

The problem is sin and there is but one solution for sin--the person and work of Christ. "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15). He transformed Saul, "a violent aggressor," (1 Tim. 1:13). and made a great missionary and Apostle out of him. Paul's example of sacrificial love was superceded only by that of Christ Himself. Christ alone can bring about such a transformation! He alone can forgive sin. He alone can transform sinners into saints. He alone offers true and lasting hope to lost sinners.

Paul spoke of the "glorious gospel of the blessed God" (1 Tim. 1:11). He used such language because he himself experienced the life-transforming power of the gospel. That is why we glory in Christ and in His work on the cross. That is why we are compelled to preach the gospel message from this pulpit. That is why God has given to every believer “the ministry of reconciliation.”

2 Cor. 5:18-20, “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely; that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Chirst, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

We are great sinners. Christ is a greater Savior. In Him alone we have a confident hope. We, believers in Christ, have been commanded and are privileged to hold forth a message before the “crooked and perverse generation” in which we live. We are to do so with a sense of urgency--as if lives depended upon it--because they do.

Pastor Jerry