Lessons in Sanctification from a Cat

IMG_0438I never wanted a cat.  As a boy I never had a cat or desired one.  I never imagined that as an an adult I would own a cat.  But, I married a cat lover.  Donna never imagined not having a cat.  After many catless years, I gave her a cat for Christmas.  I still don’t have great affection for cats, but I love my wife very much.  We named our cat Sophie.

We have had Sophie now for almost two years.  I admit that over this period of time I am more confused than ever by cat lovers.  I get having a dog.  Dogs are lovable, they greet you with joy at the door when you come home, they forgive quickly when you step on their paws, and desire to live close to you every day. 


A Tribute to My Brother

Jeff & RobertToday my brother is celebrating his 55th birthday.  As part of that celebration I wanted to share some thoughts about my “little brother.”

Robert and I are only 18 months apart in age.  While we were growing up that resulted in intense competition about everything.  There were many basketball games that ended in anger over our competition.  In high school we played for the same soccer and basketball teams at the same time.  During practices the Landis’ brothers were highly competitive – with each other!

As we got older it became apparent that we were very different.  Robert is really good with his hands and turned to carpentry and construction.  My wife can attest that my hands seldom accomplish what my brain desires.  She wishes I had some of Robert’s gifts. 


Living in a Post-Christian America

Courtesy of Flickr

Courtesy of Flickr

Over the last couple of months those committed to a biblical worldview have been greatly distressed. First, there was the Supreme Court decision making same sex marriage legal in all states. Then, more recently, were several videotapes of representatives of Planned Parenthood discussing the harvesting and sale of fetal organs. Both of these events raised questions of where our country is headed and how Christians ought to respond. Below are some biblical points to help us as we seek to live faithfully in a post-Christian culture.

We should not be surprised when unbelievers act like unbelievers. According to the Scriptures, unbelievers are living in rebellion against God and His Word. They have rejected the Lord and His

Word as their standard. Romans 1 teaches us that God’s response to this has been to give unbelievers over to the consequences of their rebellion. Therefore, we should not be shocked and surprised when unbelievers think and act like unbelievers. We should be pleasantly surprised and thankful that unbelievers do not more consistently live out their rebellion.


Introduction to the Five Points of Calvinism

tulip - 5 PointsThis morning at Covenant I am beginning a five sermon series on what has been called, The Five Points of Calvinism. Among reformed and non-reformed people there is a great deal of misunderstanding of the background of these five points, as well as the meaning of the five points. I will seek to explain the background in this article.

Looking at the title one could reasonably assume that the Five Points were written by John Calvin. But in actuality, Calvin died fifty-five years prior to these five points being formulated.  But they do reflect the teaching of Calvin during his long career in Geneva.


Scripture Speaks to That

Open BibleToday Pope Francis will issue an encyclical that will focus on the environment. There will be outcries from some who are opposed to his environmental views. But there will also be negative cries about the Pope getting involved in politics. My response is, “Why not?”

I am not defending the Pope’s positions on the environment. He and I probably disagree on some key areas. But I am defending his speaking out on the issue. I believe that those who want the church to be silent on issues other than religion have mistaken notions about the church and Scripture.


Some Benefits to Being Presbyterian

Church with steepleMany Christians today see denominations as a necessary evil or something to avoid. It is more and more popular to change church names to hide one’s denominational association. I want to present another perspective – why I believe being part of a Bible practicing Presbyterian church has great benefits.

I am a pastor in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. But the reasons listed below apply to any church with Presbyterian church government that takes it seriously.

Here are some benefits to being Presbyterian.

Protection from authoritative or tyrannical pastors

We would like to think that all pastors are godly, humble, and seek only that which is best for the flock. But reality and experience tell us that is not always the case. There are pastors who lack wisdom and plow ahead with no accountability. There are pastors who demand their way and will breech no one second guessing them. There are pastors who will drive out of the church anyone who appears to be opposed to them.


Have You Told Your Story?

IMG_0349Recently I had the opportunity to visit my Aunt Anne in Minneapolis. I knew that this would be my last visit with her. She was dying and was in hospice. Thankfully she was very alert and we had four wonderful days together that I will never forget.

Psalm 78 is a story in the form of a song that covers redemptive history up to the time of David. Asaph wrote the psalm in order to convey to future generations the great work the Lord had done for his people. History was not written down then as much as it was passed on orally from generation to generation. Around fires and tables families told stories so that new generations would know.