Archive for August, 2007

Drawn Together by God and Grace

August 31, 2007

What draws us together to worship the Living God today?

It must be something far greater than merely sharing the same socioeconomic group or merely being thrust together by a common religious, political, and cultural interest. Our backgrounds are Roman Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian, and everything and nothing. We are married, unmarried and re-married. We are young, not so young, and, well, you know. To quote the great theologian Bill Murray: “There are two kinds of people in the world – those who like Neil Diamond and those who don’t.” Well, we have both kinds of people here today.

And yet with all our apparent similarities and all our real dissimilarities, we have been drawn together as one man to worship the Living God this morning.

There are only two real explanations. One explanation is simply God. God is sovereign. He reigns in heaven and earth, and He is drawing a people to Himself to worship Him as His new humanity in Jesus Christ. God in His providence ordained that we would gather as Providence Church and sustain His worship and His covenant in the world. God will keep doing this until Christ returns, so that His purpose of gathering all things under the feet of the risen Jesus will be accomplished in the world, for His glory.

But the other explanation is found in the passage that called you to worship: “The LORD opens the eyes of the blind; the LORD raises those who are bowed down.” God is good, and in His goodness He has brought you to Himself out of your blindness and out of your oppression. The gospel of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Savior has gloriously interrupted your life and exploded all your other plans, and now you are captive to Jesus for the rest of your life. And God has placed you with other fellow-captives of Jesus who like you have been raised up by His gospel, and God has thrust you together as one body with one heart and one mind to gather and praise Him for that grace by which you have been redeemed and constituted as the new humanity.

You are here because God reigns and because God redeems. So I call you to worship and glorify this glorious God. Come, let us praise His name and be transformed with His grace and goodness.

Ok Ok I Relent

August 31, 2007

Notice a nice beefy post coming right up.

Picking Up The Slack

August 31, 2007

Okay! You saw me give David a chance didn’t you? ‘Be the hero,’ I said; ‘save us from banality,’ I said. Alas, it is left to me to change my way and way of the blog…

In my devotions in the AM, when I get to work, I often use this little gem from Crossway Bibles, publishers of the ESV: “Daily Light on the Daily Path.” It is often edifying and gets me to open my Bible, which is a good thing.

The format is interesting. It takes various biblical texts and strings them together. Often this is called “stringing pearls.” It has the advantage of pointing you various texts in the Bible that may cover the same theme. It has the disadvantage of pulling texts out of context. But, again, it makes one go to the Bible and that is a good thing – – right?

The reason I write all of that is to point you to one passage in today’s ‘Light.’ Here is one section of the Bible that publishers quoted:

Is 43:25-26 “I, I am he
who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,
and I will not remember your sins.
26Put me in remembrance; let us argue together;

Lovely verses but what is the context? (more…)

Before David Posts Something Edifying…

August 26, 2007

Here is Rick Warren:

40 Ways to Increase Baptisms

# 20. Publicize the baptisms with posters around your church. Elicit “one line” testimonies from people who have been baptized, take an 8×10 photo of that person, and mount their photo and quote on a 2’x3’ foam board sign. Put this on a tri-pod in a visible area after the service where people can sign-up to be baptized.

Let the “its all about me” theme take root.

# 25. Always have the baptism pool warm and chlorinated before services.

This is particularly funny to me because all of my children were baptized when the heater in the baptismal pool was broken.  One daughter even cried, driving many away from obedience I am sure.

# 37. Give a follow-up booklet, a button, and a free gift for those who obey Christ’s command to be baptized.

I suggest cash.  Nothing says devotion like a Benjamin!

#39. When baptizing grade school children, have the baptizing pastor hold their hands lifted high after they come out of the water, like you would with a winner in game.

If possible have Queen’s “We are the Champions” or the theme from Rocky playing in the background.  Follow this up with a screening of the movie Beaches or Rudy.

Ahhh… Baptists.

al sends (HT: What?… Um via David M.)

Can You Love the Man While Questioning His Church?

August 23, 2007

I read Mike Adams’ column on Townhall.com.  Here is a guy who knows how to use satire while speaking to those in authority.  His biting criticism of the American university system, with its hard left politics and its humanist, feminist, anti-life, anti-real education agenda, hits its target with laser guided precision.  I highly recommend him to you. 

In this weeks column Mike addressed the emotional damage caused by casual physical relationships.  In the column he provides a link to his church.  Mike is a Christian and possesses a thoroughly Christian worldview, which is why I am so surprised by his church’s statement of faith.  Specifically, I am surprised by the last paragraph and more specifically by the last sentence of the last paragraph.  Here is that paragraph:

“Scripture is the final authority on all matters of faith and practice. This church recognizes that it cannot bind the conscience of individual members in areas where Scripture is silent. Rather, each believer is to be led in those areas by the Lord, to whom he or she is ultimately responsible. We believe the Statement of Faith to be an accurate summary of what Scripture teaches. All members shall refrain from advocating doctrines that are not included in the Statement of Faith in such a way as to cause dissension.”

Their statement of faith totals a little over 1000 words in eight headings (this paragraph makes up one of the eight headings).  So, they believe their eight paragraphs are an accurate statement of what scripture teaches and when you become a member you must refrain from advocating any doctrine that is not included in this document.  

I don’t know what they mean by the phrase “in such a way as to cause dissension”  but I am guessing that the threshold is pretty low.  Just a bit of observation from a guy who pastors a much smaller church 🙂

al sends

Troubled by Ole #1

August 22, 2007

Evangelist Dwight L. Moody once said, “I have had more trouble with myself than with any other man I’ve met.” You probably could look around the room today and point to someone who has given you trouble at some time. Perhaps a brother or sister even offended you this week. We live in a sinful world, surrounded by sinful people behaving sinfully all the time, and it is inevitable that we will brush up against someone in his or her sin and see it and be troubled by it.

And we are always tempted to respond to the troubles caused by a brother or by a neighbor by growing sullen or bitter, or by lashing back in retaliation, or by withholding from them because we just don’t feel like they’re worth it, or by puffing up in scornful pride that I can’t believe that someone would treat me this way.

But the humility of Moody’s statement is the antidote. “I have had more trouble with myself than with any other man I’ve met.” If only we could see how desperately sinful we are ourselves, and if only we could see what a trouble our sin is to God in heaven, and if only I could see what others must put up with in order to love me.

We have come to worship this morning to draw near to the God of the universe, the God who is Father and Son and Holy Spirit, the God who is our covenant head and Lord, the God who spilled the blood of His own dear Son to redeem us for Himself. When we come to this God, we come and ask for forgiveness, aware of how wretchedly sinful our own hearts and ways are, and knowing such forgiveness, we forgive. We are free to love our brothers, knowing the great love of God in Christ.

Are you troubled by someone’s sin against you this morning? Forgive, for God forgives you much. Are you troubled by yourself? In the words of James, “Draw near to God and He [who is so rich in grace and bountiful in covenant mercy] will draw near to you. . . . Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

Come, let us worship the Lord together. We are the people of the Lord. Let us love one another and love our God.

Celebrating the Vertical and the Horizontal

August 22, 2007

We often speak of the Christian life as having both a vertical and a horizontal dimension. We are in relationship with God – that is the vertical – and we are in relationship with one another – that is the horizontal. We catch this way of thinking from our Lord Jesus Himself, who taught that the greatest commandment in the law is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and strength, and the second commandment is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Here is the sum of a life that pleases God.

Both of these dimensions of the Christian life come together here at the feast table of the Lord’s Supper. Here we are ushered into the presence of God to feast on His Son, who promised that if we eat His flesh and drink His blood we have life indeed. Here we are nourishing our relationship with Christ by enacting a memorial of His death for us, by which we are delivered from our sin and made worthy of Him and His glory. That is the vertical dimension. Your love for God is stirred by receiving Christ through the bread and wine.

But there is the horizontal dimension also. We are all one body, the body of Christ. You are knit together in love as you partake together of one loaf and one cup. You forgive as you have been forgiven. You serve one another in love. You give your life for the brethren. You are a more thankful people. Why? Because you are one body. Why are you one body? Because you partake of one loaf and are indwelt by one Spirit, the Holy Spirit of God. This is made real in wonderful ways here at this table.

So here is your Christian life. Here is Christ broken and spilled out for you and filling you with Himself and uniting us together as a body. How precious is the sweet grace of God in Christ Jesus. Delight yourself in Him, for He is your Savior.

Come, let’s taste and see that the Lord is good.

Robert Spencer Interview

August 20, 2007

Just a quick note…  I will be interviewing Robert Spencer today at 4:00PM on 1330 WEBY (DV).  Robert has written a book titled Religion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t.  He is also blogging the Koran on HotAir.com.   The most recent installment is “Blogging the Qur’an: Sura 4, “Women,” verses 1-16.”  Check it out.

 al sends

Working Through Stuff

August 19, 2007

A week ago we had the right reverend James B. Jordan in the pulpit of Providence Community Church.   It is normal for us to have a time of discussion about the sermon after the worship service and Reverend Jordan led that discussion as well.  We were having audio problems that day and neither the sermon or his discussion are available at this time.  I would like to get some discussion on one thing Rev. Jordan said though so here it is…

His sermon was on the use of symbolism in the bible and how we, as western Christians, have difficulty thinking in those categories.  It was quite interesting and gave me much to think about.  The discussion that followed challenged my thinking about one particular event in the Genesis creation/fall account.

What was the first sin in the garden?  I know that Adam represented all of mankind with his sin but in what way did Eve sin before Adam?  In particular was Eve sinning when she said, ” “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'” 

Here was Rev. Jordan’s take on the issue:  Eve learned the commandment from Adam.  She was his helper and worked with Adam to flesh out obedience to the command of God.  The phrase “nor shall you touch it” was simply applied theology (my term not Rev. Jordan’s).  She issued a good commentary on the law and it was not an adding to the Word of God.

I had never heard that interpretation before though I have since found that Calvin held to something not much different: 

“When she says, God has forbidden them to eat or to touch, some suppose the second word to be added for the purpose of charging God with too great severity, because he prohibited them even from the touch. But I rather understand that she hitherto remained in obedience, and expressed her pious disposition by anxiously observing the precept of God; only, in proclaiming the punishment, she begins to give ways by inserting the adverb “perhaps,” when God has certainly pronounced, “Ye shall die the death.””

And Matthew Henry as well:

“It was an instance of her resolution that she adhered to the command, and faithfully repeated it, as of unquestionable certainty: “God hath said, I am confident he hath said it, You shall not eat of the fruit of this tree;” and that which she adds, Neither shall you touch it, seems to have been with a good intention, not (as some think) tacitly to reflect upon the command as too strict (Touch not, taste not and handle not), but to make a fence about it: “We must not eat, therefore we will not touch. It is forbidden in the highest degree, and the authority of the prohibition is sacred to us.””

I am just curious about two things:  1)  Am I the only one who was taught that Eve sinned in “adding to the Word of God?”  2)  Is there a reformed teacher that holds that Eve sinned in this area?

This is not a like discovering election for the first time or anything; but I am wondering what else I don’t know…

al sends

Pensacola Christian College… a Missions Sending Organization?

August 17, 2007

This from the Tom in the Box News Network…  A disturbing trend to be sure.

Read it for yourself

al sends