The Gospel has no small print

I visited Scotland last summer, including a wonderful 5-day trip to Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, where my wife’s parents live and where I used to pastor.

To reach my international return flight from London to Chicago, I had to take two internal UK flights with two different airlines, one from Stornoway to Inverness with Flybe, and one from Inverness to London with Easyjet.

Knowing the unpredictability of Scottish weather, even in July, I decided to pay for delay/cancellation/missed flight insurance on both these flights, at about $10-$15 per flight.

And sure enough, when the morning of July 6 rolled round, the fog rolled in, delaying my Stornoway-Inverness flight, and causing me to miss my Inverness-London flight.

Not a big problem, though. The flight was only delayed two hours, I was able to purchase a ticket for a later Inverness-London flight, and my international flight was the next day. I’ll just claim the insurance and get the $300 back in a month or so.

Terms and conditions
Three months, multiple forms, long delays, and many phone calls later, I still have no insurance refund, and won’t be getting one either.

I first tried re-claiming from Flybe, whose Stornoway-Inverness plane was originally delayed. Eventually, they told me that their insurance only covered flights going outside the UK, not domestic flights. “Read the terms and conditions,” I was told.

OK, I’ll try Easyjet, the Inverness-London flight I missed. They refused payment too, because I was not a UK resident! “Read the terms and conditions, etc.”

Both companies allowed me to purchase insurance knowing that their policies could not cover the flights I was booking. Flybe knew I was booking a domestic flight. Easyjet knew that I was not a UK resident. Both took my money. Both refused to payout. Both had small print excuses. Does anyone ever read these terms and conditions?

False pretenses
It’s not the money. OK, it’s partly the money – my wife I  could do quite a lot with $300. It’s mainly the principle, the injustice of taking money on false pretenses, and then using small print that they know no one reads to cover their tracks. Why advertise it as delay/cancellation/missed flight insurance when it isn’t, and why take money from people you know can’t re-claim it even if they do miss their flight?

American tourists be warned! Read the small print – although you probably need an attorney to understand it – and don’t trust the capital letter promises.

True and trustworthy promises
One upside of this little episode is that although my bank balance has decreased, as has my trust in human organizations, my valuation of the Gospel and trust in God has increased. As I was preparing a sermon last week on John 10:10 and Jesus’ gift of abundant life, I couldn’t help but rejoice that His CAPITAL LETTER promises are true and there’s no small print.

What a joy to be able to proclaim the good news of free salvation for sinners through Jesus Christ! No small print, no terms and conditions, no attorney required. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved. Full stop.

Check out

Can’t Complain
“The older I get the more I understand why Jeremiah Burroughs called his classic: “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment” —even Christians have a hard time to be content.”

Marriage with a chronically self-centered spouse
Brad Hambrick is one of the most practical counseling teachers I’ve come across. He gets beyond principles and concepts to down-to-earth, step-by-step help for the sinning and the suffering. And here are two short books he recently authored.

Cure for depressed teens
“Forget therapy. The way to beat teen depression is kicking the online addiction. Nina Strochlic on one man’s crusade to get kids off social networks and into meaningful relationships.”

Our Southern Zion and the Sovereign Grace of God
Tony Carter highlights the evil of churches owning slaves, but then notes: “God had greater and more glorious purposes, despite the oppressive and sinful intentions of many.” Read the post to find out how God brought good out of evil.

Do you know Tim Challies?
Someone who knows Tim Challies in real life gives us the inside story. You’ll want to read Tim’s latest post as well, Smilingly leading you to hell.

The Value of Quiet Husbands
“It’s too bad that the larger evangelical movement seems to value loud, upfront leadership as a more masculine trait. I’m concerned that the result is that strong women who want a godly husband may not recognize the power and wisdom of the quiet guy observing the group from the sidelines.”

URC Counseling Luncheon
If you’re in the Grand Rapids area, the United Reformed Churches invite you to join them at their Pastor’s Luncheon on Wednesday, Nov 7th, at Bethany URC (5401 Byron Center Ave., SW) from 12-1:15 to hear Dr. Jeff Doll speak on the topic of counseling. Jeff is the director of the Institute of Reformed Biblical Counseling and has a ton of counseling experience and wisdom.  This is a “bring your own lunch” event, but drinks and desert will be provided. Everyone is welcome especially pastors, elders, deacons, seminary students, etc.

What does an evangelistic sermon look like?

As regular readers will know, I’ve got a bit of a thing about evangelistic preaching, especially its relative rarity in the USA – at least compared to Scotland.

In that first post, I defined evangelistic preaching: “It expounds God’s Word (it is expository) with the primary aim of the salvation of lost souls (rather than primarily the instruction of God’s people). Obviously there’s a difference in content when a sermon is aimed at the unsaved more than the Christian. But there’s also a difference in the tone, in the pathos. An evangelistic sermon has a more urgent, pleading, persuading, and personal feel to it.

As many have asked me for an example, here’s a (far from perfect) attempt I made on Sunday evening. My fuller notes are here, my one-page summary notes are here, and the audio and video are here. Because I don’t use my notes in preaching, there are usually some differences between what I prepared and what I end up saying. Some of that is intentional, and some of it is plain forgetfulness!

My text was  the second part of John 10v10: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” My points were:

  1. Jesus gives abundant spiritual life
  2. Jesus gives abundant intellectual life
  3. Jesus gives abundant emotional life
  4. Jesus gives abundant social life
  5. Jesus gives abundant physical life
  6. Jesus gives abundant eternal life

One caveat, the church has the unusual tradition of stopping the sermon about two thirds of the way through to sing a Psalter, after which the pastor preaches his last point. I’m told that you eventually get used to it.

Check out

Faith, Work, and Vocation – as a Single Woman
Kristin Hansen wrestles with God’s calling, God’s providence, and God-given desire.

Answering the Call to Creativity
Dr Art Lindsley: “Answering the call to creativity requires a shift in the way we view the gospel and our role in transforming culture.”

Is grace the opposite of law?
“Jesus doesn’t want to be married to someone who’s life looks like a guest on the Jerry Springer show. No way! The bar has actually been raised. But here’s the glorious difference – God works in us to fulfill his higher standard! Because of the Holy Spirit, we are able to do far more abundantly than all we can ask or think…[Eph. 3:20].”

Depression strikes again: Leave me alone black dog
“Depression activist” Katherine Stone shares the painful story of her descent back into stress-related depression. One swear word appears twice, but I link to it because her honesty might help others avoid similar relapses.

Yes, we do judge a book by its cover
Gospel eBooks owner, Jeremy Gardiner, explains why he rejects 75% of all books in the first 3 seconds.

The 4G’s
So enjoyed these four short video testimonies to how God’s greatness, glory, goodness, and grace turned four lives around.

Children’s Bible Reading Plan

This week’s morning and evening reading plan in Word and pdf.

This week’s single reading plan for morning or evening in Word and pdf.

If you want to start at the beginning, this is the first 12 months of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

And here’s the first 12 months of the Morning or Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

And here’s an explanation of the plan.