Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pastoral Pings: When Seeing-faith Rises Up in Hope

18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4)

          Why did Abraham “believe against hope” that he would become the father of many nations? Answer: “as he had been told” by someone who could not lie.[1] Why did Abraham not weaken in his faith when he considered how old he was, or that his wife was both old and barren? First, because God gave him a promise; second, because he knew “God was able to do what he promised.”

          Abraham did not have blind-faith, because he had already witnessed God’s faithfulness in tangible ways. God was God, so God’s word was settled no matter what things looked like then, now, or ever.

          God’s children today do not have blind-faith. The Bible itself is full of incredible numbers of testimonies of real-life encounters with God, fulfilled prophecies, and promises for what is ahead. That is tangible. It is measurable by our material senses, and yet impossible to explain by merely material events.

          As Abraham waited patiently for the fulfillment of God’s promises, he does two things for us even now. First, he gives us an example of someone whose faith did not waver even though his eyes saw what appeared to be an impossible situation. Second, his life story, including all the development of the nation of Israel, their deliverance out of Egypt, their taking of the Promised Land, and their presentation to the world of the one and only Savior, are all tangible testimonies of God’s work in our world that encourage us to live by faith, even during the times when things once again seem to be impossible.

          Faith has far too many works of God to look at in space, time, and matter, to think that God will fail at a promise just because we have not yet seen it happen. As surely as God has proven himself in so many tangible ways throughout history, he can be trusted with all that he has promised his children for their future.

          Let us not be as those who grumble and complain against the Lord God of the universe just because our prideful little hearts can’t see anything happening in the here-and-now.[2] Let us be those who wait in faith upon the LORD, and find God’s strength empowering us to rise up as on the wings of eagles,[3] living in such confident hope of the things that are to come, that people will see this unexplainable hope within us and wonder why it is there.[4] If you live by such hope and faith through any trial you are facing, you can be sure that when someone asks you the reason for your hope, you will have plenty to share.

          From my heart,



© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)


[1] 17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. (Hebrews 6)
[2]And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness,” (Exodus 16)
NOTE: type in the word “grumble” in and see how many times God confronts his people for their grumbling and complaining against him, even after being witnesses to God’s awesome acts of deliverance and provision. People who say “I will believe it if I see it” take warning: if the people who witnessed God delivering them with ten plagues, leading them to safety through the red sea, and serving up bread and quail even when they had such bad manners in the asking, would still not trust him with the next impossible-looking situation, we cannot think that our own stubbornly unbelieving hearts would suddenly change their minds just because we saw a miracle. It didn’t work when Jesus did his miracles in such vast numbers right before the eyes of prideful men, and it won’t work now no matter how many things people see. God has done enough in his word to bring his children to faith. As his word says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Read the word of Christ and ask God for the faith that hangs on every word.
[3] “27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God”? 28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40)
[4] 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. (I Peter 3)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pastoral Pings: Angels and Saints; Fallen Angels and Sinners

          In my journey through Revelation, I have been confronted with the role that angels play in the service of God. I have ended up in Ezekiel where the prophet focuses on the Cherubim and their distinctive place in God’s heavenly kingdom. My conclusion is that these are incredibly mighty, powerful creatures that live to do God’s will.[1]

          One of the things that has helped me appreciate what God’s angels are able to do is this: “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him…”[2]

          Here on earth, we see Satan as a roaring looking for people to devour.[3] In heaven, we see the angels of God who are stronger and mightier than he is. How much they do for God’s people is beyond description, and needs nothing added of man’s wild imaginations. However, God has shown us enough of them and their work for us to know that those angels that stand with God are greater than those angels that have fallen.

          And so it will be in the end, that Jesus will come with his mighty, holy angels.[4] They will gather God’s children from all over the earth,[5] bring us into the eternal home Jesus has prepared for us,[6] and cast the devil, his emissaries, and his followers, into the lake of fire forever.[7]

          Let us neither worship nor degrade God’s angels. They clearly did not receive worship from anyone who felt the awe and fear of their appearance.[8] However, neither do they fit the contemporary images of cute little cherubs hanging from Christmas trees, or angel-figurines like magic-charms decorating our houses. They are ministering spirits that lead us to worship God, in contradiction to the fallen angels that seek to steal, kill and destroy humanity.

          I cringe when I hear any kind of reference to a loved one passing away and now blessing the angels with his/her presence in heaven; or people consoling themselves at the death of a little one by thinking that the child has now become an angel. Fact is that angels are angels, and humans are humans. Angels are either the mighty, holy, blessed ones who are with God, or the fallen, sinful, doomed ones that have followed Satan to their demise.

          At the same time, humans are either the holy ones of God, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, or they are the fallen ones, awaiting the same end as the devil and his angels. Human beings are either those who have believed in Jesus and so received eternal life, or those who have not believed in Jesus, and so are still under the condemnation of their sin.[9]        

          What we can bring together is the heart of human beings who know and love the Lord Jesus Christ, and consider the angels revealed to us in the Scriptures as those who stand with us to the glory of our Great God and Savior. We can stand in wonder at the place of angels in the paradise of God, while they long to look into the things to do with the salvation that has made us the sons of God.[10] Let us simply join them in worshiping, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”[11]

          From my heart,



© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)



[1] “Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!” (Psalm 103:20)
[2] Revelation 20:1-3
[3] I Peter 5:8
[4] “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:26)
[5] 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matthew 24)
[6] 1Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14)
[7] Revelation 20
[8] “Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.’” (Revelation 19:10)
[9] 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3)
[10] “It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.” (I Peter 1)
[11] Revelation 4:8

Considerations: A Home Worth Waiting For

The Bible begins with the description of the beautiful paradise God created in which man could begin to take care of the earth. It was full of life. It is the way God wanted man to experience life. The material world and the spiritual world were in harmony.

It then tells us how the ancient serpent, the devil, came in and lured man into sin, ruining the beauty of God’s creation, and bringing death, guilt, shame and fear into the world. People and earth have been deteriorating ever since. The material world and the spiritual world were now in discord.

The Bible then tells us about God’s gift of grace whereby he sent his Son into the world to deliver people out of their sins, to lead us out of darkness and into his wonderful light. Those he brings to faith in Jesus Christ are set free from the prison camp of their sin, but are now strangers living in a foreign land, longing to go home. During this waiting period, God’s children pursue the unity and harmony of God’s Spirit.

Finally, the Bible tells us that there is a new home being prepared for us in heaven, the new paradise that cannot be ruined by sin. Those who have left their sins now, turning back to their Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ, will be delivered from the foreign land of sin then. It will be even better than the beautiful garden God planted in the beginning. While God’s children wait, they sing their harmonious songs of hope.

Now, to help his children wait patiently for that coming day, God leaves us this beautiful prophecy of what is ahead. “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.’” (Revelation 21:3) Once again, God’s people will walk with him in the paradise of his presence.

There is much more that could be said about this. For today, accept that Jesus’ coming is worth waiting for, because it will usher in the paradise of the home he is preparing for us, which is worth waiting for.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Pastoral Pings (Plus): The Timeless Grace of God’s Gift of Love

          One of the things that many church-going people struggle with is the thought of how God feels about them when they are bad. They have difficulty accepting that God could love them when they are misbehaving, or when they are failing to live up to his expectations for them as people who claim to be the sons of God.

          I grew up as a child that always tried to be good to avoid bad consequences. This saved me from a lot of regrets that come with overtly sinful and shameful behavior. However, it also led me into the trap of believing that God’s love was conditioned by my behavior. Although I had received the Lord Jesus Christ by faith in his name when I was an adolescent, my early years as a Christian were characterized by trying to be a good Christian.

          What I learned some time later was that my faith could not rest in my being good enough for God and in the gospel of Jesus Christ at the same time. Did God love me because I was good, or was I expressing a goodness that came out of God’s love for me? Was God angry with me every time I sinned or failed, or had his anger been fully poured out on Christ against all the sins I would ever commit?

          What this came down to was this: did the gospel of Jesus Christ, and my life in the church, call me to be good in order to win God’s approval, or did it call me to discover the work Jesus did on the cross so that God could now approve me as holy and righteous in his sight only by faith in his Son?

          Another way I learned about this was discovering that I believed that God began to love me at the moment that I received Jesus Christ by faith. Yeeha! Suddenly God could love me! What I learned later on was that such a thing was impossible. God could not have set out on a plan of redemption that was motivated by his hatred of me and my sin, just so that, as soon as I received Jesus, he could suddenly love me.

          That would make the gospel something like this: “For God so hated the sinful world that his hatred of sin caused him to send his Son into the world as a sacrifice for sin so that whenever anyone sees this expression of hatred they would believe in Jesus and God could suddenly begin loving them.”

          The clear and undeniable message of the Bible is that God already loved the world (people from every tribe and nation, not just the people of Israel), and it was this love for the people of the world that compelled him to devise this plan to send his Son into the world as the atoning sacrifice for sin[1] that would propitiate[2] all his wrath against our sin,[3] so that he could then accept us into the love relationship that was in his mind before the beginning of time.[4]

          One of the clearest revelations of this truth, that the gospel of Jesus Christ is an undeniable revelation of the love of God for bad people, is what Paul recorded for us when he wrote:

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.[5]

          While many professing believers think that their weakness or sin makes God angry with them, or causes God to stop loving them, the truth is that God’s love predates time. Jesus’ death for sin was the expression of God’s love for the people he had chosen, being fully expressed and demonstrated on the cross while we were still sinners needing a Savior. At no time do things change so that God’s love becomes dependent on our good behavior. Rather, it is his love that covers over our multitude of sins[6] while transforming us more and more into the likeness of Jesus Christ “from one degree of glory to another”.[7]

          Now, to tie this all together, we have this beautiful Scripture: “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”[8] God doesn’t love us because we love him, or because we are good enough to deserve his love. He loves us, has propitiated our sins through Jesus’ loving sacrifice, and calls us to now “…be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.[9]

          From my heart,



© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)


[1] “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17)
[2] Propitiate: to remove the wrath of God against our sin by removing the object of that wrath. When Jesus bore our sins upon his body on that tree, all the wrath of God against our sin was poured out upon Jesus Christ. When Jesus said, “It is finished!” he meant that there was no more wrath against sin to be poured out later on those who received the gospel. The wrath of God had been fully expended on Christ, so it was propitiated, or taken away from being poured out on those who received Christ by faith.
[3] 22For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3)
Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” (Hebrews 2:17)
“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (I John 2:2)
[4] Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1)
[5] Romans 5:6-8
[6] “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (I Peter 4:8)
[7] “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (II Corinthians 3:18)
[8] I John 4:10
[9] Ephesians 5:1-2

Revelation Video: Study 33 ~ The Four Living Creatures - Part 3

The more I study the four living creatures of Revelation and Ezekiel, the more convinced I am that our best response is the childlike wonder that does not need to confine these figures to a boxed-in interpretation. In this third look at these amazing revelations, we consider the first three chapters of Ezekiel in order to understand how his use of these figures helps us understand their place in John's recording of God's revelation.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Pastoral Pings (Plus): When Being a Pastor Breaks a Papa’s Heart

          Early in my ministry I was taught a very simple principle: people will measure my sincerity in ministry to them by the way I relate to their children. This tuned my heart to guard against any tendency to give adults preferential treatment because they had more to contribute to helping me lead the church. The fact is that a pastor is a shepherd, and the babies, children and teenagers are to feel as much like little lambs in the flock as any of the adults would ever experience.

          While I have sought to be as concerned for children and teenagers as I am for adults, and to have a heart that tries to sincerely join God’s work in every person I meet, even when it is looking into a baby’s eyes during bottle-feeding, this principle of ministry has had a look-in-the-mirror kind of effect. In other words, it has made me feel things about the way men treat my children.

          I suppose this is just normal development, that if I am called to be a shepherd who blesses little children after the example Jesus gave us,[1] that I would also desire to see other men blessing my children out of their own Christ-like love for everyone in their lives. Sadly, that has rarely been the case. Too many church-going men follow the pattern of sacrificing others on the altar of their own self-protection. God hates religions that sacrifice their children to their gods.[2]

          Under my Papa’s hat, the issue for my daughter is why the majority of church-going men who have ever had a personal relationship with her in the church have been so quick to discard her as soon as they are uncomfortable with a situation. The issue for my son is why men purported to be contributing to the leadership of the church would use his struggles as a means of judging and condemning his dad, rather than as an opportunity to band godly men together to help teenage boys survive the most difficult transition in life.

          Under my Pastor’s hat, one of the characteristics of my ministry has revolved around this simple question: why do so many church-going adults have the inability to give the love of Jesus Christ to people around them? Whether it is husbands who don’t know how to give Jesus’ love to their wives, parents who don’t know how to give Jesus’ love to their children, people in one congregation who can’t show any love to people from another congregation, or family members who don’t have enough love of Jesus to give to other family members, the issue is the same, that too many people who have been in the church for a long time do not know how to express Jesus’ sacrificial, lay-down-your-life[3] kind of love.

          I am sure that there are burdens that Pastors and Pas must carry as men who are after the heart of God. Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief in his sharing of our human condition.[4] It makes sense that men who are responsible for others would feel the same things. However, knowing that there are such burdens also sends us to God with a unique hope: we can lay our complaints before God, and know that he hears, receives, and answers us when we call to him in our heartaches for our children and our churches. Here are some examples:

          But I call to God, and the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.”[5]

          “With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord. I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him.”[6]

          One comfort that both Pastors and Pas must hold onto is this: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.[7] If we continually lay our complaints before the Lord our God, trusting him to work his “good, acceptable and perfect”[8] will in both our lives, and the lives of our children and churches, we can rest in the certain hope that we shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!”[9] and experience God himself wiping away all our tears and sorrows when we arrive in our eternal home.[10]

          From my heart,



© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)


[1] 13 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. (Mark 10)
[2] “For when they had slaughtered their children in sacrifice to their idols, on the same day they came into my sanctuary to profane it. And behold, this is what they did in my house.” (Ezekiel 23:39)
[3] “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” (I John 3:16)
[4] He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:3)
[5] Psalm 55:16-17
[6] Psalm 142:1-2
[7] Romans 8:28
[8] Romans 12:2
[9] Psalm 27:13
[10] Isaiah 25:8; “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)