Car Chases & God’s Grace

Why do we watch high speed car chases? 

I’m not talking about those in the movies, though they are exciting in and of themselves. No, I’m referring to the helicopter or dash-cam views of police pursuits on the city streets in real time.  

It seems like every week you see another chase play out on national media.  Just last week there was a wrecked RV leading police through Los Angeles, and what got everyone watching was the fact that there were two dogs in the RV – and yes, both are fine.

Are we drawn to this because we want to see fugitives come to justice? 

Is there a darker side of us waiting for the fiery crash that may come at the end? 

Is this now our Coliseum, where we cheer and boo the gladiators in the arena, and watch until all is settled?

Maybe these events speak to our inner “fight or flight” instinct, and we’re watching to learn what we already know – running from your problems never works.

As I was pondering our obsession with chases this morning, I read from Isaiah 30 in my M’Cheyne Bible Reading plan.  Here, God is speaking to the people of Jerusalem though the prophet, warning them of the coming judgment for their rebellion, and telling them not to go to Egypt in order to escape judgment, thereby “adding sin to sin” and face greater ruin. The people were ready to fly to Egypt, to ride swiftly from the hand of God. God’s warning was clear, “your pursuers will be swift. A thousand shall flee at the threat of one…” 

Reading this is like watching the chase unfold. You say to the screen, “Don’t run!” but you know they’re going to anyway.

Still, in this midst of the warning, God extends a gracious promise  Isaiah 30 is beautiful in its promise. Even in the threat of coming judgment, God calls to His people, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength (Isa 30:15).”  Turn to me,  God is saying, find your rest, your salvation, and strength in me.  

From verse 19 on, the remainder of the chapter is God’s promise of restoration:

  • God will be gracious to the sound of your cry
  • Though the Lord gives the bread of adversity, your Teacher will not hide himself anymore
  • Your ears will hear him speak to you, telling you which way to go
  • You will turn from your idols
  • He will give rain for the seed, and bread, and produce, and livestock
  • There will be brooks flowing with water
  • The Lord will bind up the brokenness of His people and heal their wounds
  • You will have a song, and gladness of heart
  • The Lord will cause His voice to be heard
  • The enemies of God’s people will tremble before Him.

No one likes to see the lights in the rear-view mirror, or hear the siren calling them to pull over. Neither do we like the discipline of the Lord when we have erred. But with our Father’s discipline, there is always the promise of rich and redeeming grace, a promise confirmed for us in Jesus Christ our Lord.  Trust in His gracious promises, and know that resting in Him you will shall be saved.

From the Pastor’s Desk:

Here are some of the things I’ve been reading this week that I’d thought I’d share:

Don’t Be a Lazy Pastor: Lately I’ve been sharing articles on what the Pastor does, and how you can pray for your Pastor. Here’s another, from Desiring God, on the plague of the lazy Pastor.

PreachersNSneakers: Speaking about Pastor’s, there’s apparently a trend among some Pastor’s of wearing REALLY expensive shoes, clothes, or jewelry. Here’s an article about the trend – and just to clarify – my suits are all over 10 years old, and my most expensive shoes are the Brooks I run in.  I’m not saying I’m above the cultural trappings, but fashion is not mine.  Something I read a while ago, however, did lead me to stop wearing a preachers robe. One of the old Puritans stated that anything that separates you from you congregation, keeps you from your congregation.  If what your wearing, or the house your living in, or the car the pastor is driving is an extravagant leap from what the people of the congregation would have, there’s a disconnection taking place.

Can A Christian Lose their Salvation:  Finally, here’s an article by R.C. Sproul on the perennial question about one’s security in salvation.

A Sacrifice of Praise

“My offering, my food for my food offerings, my pleasing aroma,
you shall be careful to offer to me at its appointed time.”
(Numbers 28:2)

My daily reading plan has me currently reading through the book of Numbers, and, while I cannot say how many times I’ve actually read this book, I am always amazed at the new things that stand out to me.

I was struck this week with an early morning read through Number 29.  Here, God provides instructions to Moses on how the regular feasts and celebrations were to be celebrated.  The amount of blood and sacrifice is overwhelming.  Just consider the required offerings for the Festival of Booths. This festival followed the Day of Atonement, and was a week-long enacted celebration in which the people of Israel would live in Booths to remember and give thanks for God’s provision during the 40 years in the wilderness.  As a sign of their thanksgiving, sacrifices were to be brought to the Temple – a lot of them.

Here are the totals for the offerings: 70 Bulls, 15 Rams, 105 lambs (plus another 18 lambs for the regular daily offerings and the Sabbath offering), and 8 goats for the sin offerings. Imagine the quantity of blood, the smoke from the burnt offerings, the market for the feasts, the commotion of the celebration.  All of this, done each year, to be reminded of God’s mighty hand in delivering His people into the Promised Land.

Contrast this with how we bring our praise and thanksgiving to God in the new administration of the covenant in Christ. Christ has come as our high priest, and has entered the holy places on our behalf, “not by means of the blood of goats and calves, but by means of his own blood, thus securing eternal redemption” (Heb 9:12).  We, therefore, bring our sacrifices of praise to God, not in the blood of the bull or ram, but rather presenting ourselves, “as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our spiritual worship” (Rom. 12:1).

From the Pastor’s Desk

An Ordinary Red Brick Church – This is an excellent article about an ordinary church.  So often we compare ourselves to other churches in other settings and wonder why we’re different.  Here, the Pastor provides a great reminder that we are to celebrate who Christ has called us to be as a rural, Presbyterian, and Biblical Church.

Today in Church History – On this day in 337 A.D., Constantine, the first Roman emperor to consider himself a Christian, died. While Constantine did not bring Christianity to the Roman Empire, nor declare Rome a Christian state, he did issue an edict officially tolerating Christianity and summoned the Council of Nicea to settle the Arian dispute over the nature of Christ.

Theopedia – Here is a great resource I’ve been using for years as a Wikipedia for Theological topics. Theopedia is a growing online evangelical encyclopedia of biblical Christianity, a network of interconnected pages, constantly being refined and updated.

Free e-books – If you’re looking for something to read, and like reading on a Nook, Kindle, iPad, or other device, here is a website for you.  There are tons of free books ranging from classic Puritans and early church fathers to modern, contemporary, reformed writers.

Just Because… Here’s a video on the book of James