Friday, January 28, 2011

Faith Sees the Light

"One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see."

Jesus, the light of the world, opens blind eyes to see his glory. I am grateful that he opened my eyes. We will worship him as the light of the world this Lord's Day.

Songs
Jesus Shall Reign (#51)
Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness (#400)
Arise My Soul Arise (#174)
Amazing Grace (#247)
Lord, We Bow Before Your Glory

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Genesis 26; Psalm 50
New Testament: Matthew 17

Sermon
Faith Sees the Light - John 9

Preaching Free Grace


David Brainerd described the preaching when God did a mighty work among the Indians in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

It was the principal scope and drift of all my discourses to this people, for several months together, (after having taught them something of the being and perfections of God, his creation of man in a state of rectitude and happiness, and the obligations mankind were thence under to love and honor him,) to lead them into an acquaintance with their deplorable state by nature, as fallen creatures; their inability to extricate and deliver themselves; the utter insufficiency of any external reformations and amendments of life, or of any religious performance, of which they were capable, while in this state, to bring them into the favor of God, and interest them in his eternal mercy; thence to show them their absolute need of Christ to redeem and save them from the misery of their fallen state; - to open his all-sufficiency and willingness to save the chief of sinners; - the freeness and riches of divine grace, proposed ‘without money, and without price,’ to all that will accept the offer; thereupon to press them without delay o betake themselves to him, under a sense of their misery and undone state, for relief and everlasting salvation; - and to show them the abundant encouragement the gospel proposes to needy, perishing, and helpless sinners, in order to engage them so to do. These things I repeatedly and largely insisted upon from time to time.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

No Entrepreneurs Need Apply

Good ecclesiology demands that there exist an awareness of, appreciation for, and deliberate connection to the flow of redemptive history....The goal certainly should not be to encourage young pastors to distrust or remodel what they have learned from faithful men.

 John MacArthur rightly challenges the contemporary thirst for novelty, individuality, and uniqueness in church planters today. The lesson applies, however, to all Christians in all churches. The goal is to be faithful, not entrepreneurial. The former promotes Christ, the latter puts self on center stage.


"Culturally Contextualized or Historically Connected?"


"Radical Individualism: A Good Trait for Young Pastors?"

Friday, January 21, 2011

I AM

Jesus not only claims "I am the light of the world," but he also claims, "I AM." Those who trust in him must trust in him as "I AM" or they are trusting in some other god. But the good news is that precisely because he is "I AM" he can give the light of life to all who trust in him. Join us this Lord's Day to worship our living LORD.

Songs
Come, Thou Almighty King (#63)
Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness (#400)
It Is Finished (#138)
Before the Throne of God Above (#177)
Give to Our God Immortal Praise (#53)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Genesis 25; Psalm 49
New Testament: Matthew 16

Sermon
The True God - John 8:12-59

Friday, January 14, 2011

Good Lessons from Some Local News

Carl Trueman discusses Ted Haggard's upcoming TV appearance.

Atrocious

Over 53 million unborn children have now been legally murdered in our nation.

"Believers" Stoning Jesus

"As he was saying these things, many believed in him. So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, 'If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples'" (John 8:30-31).

Later...

"So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple" (John 8:59).

Let's get this straight - If you do not abide in Jesus' word, then you are not a genuine believer. It is that simple. You may have "come forward." You may have "asked Jesus into your heart." You may have "made a decision to trust Jesus." You may even have been very sincere.

But none of that rises to the level of faith. Faith rests in Christ. Faith follows Christ. Faith obeys Christ.

Are you a believer? Join us this Lord's Day to hear what Jesus has to say about it.

Songs
O Worship the King (#46)
Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness (#400)
O for a Heart to Praise My God (#70)
O for a Faith That Will Endure (#593)
Praise the Savior (#17)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Genesis 24; Psalm 40
New Testament: Matthew 15:21-39

Sermon
True Faith vs. Temporary Faith - John 8:30-59

Country Music

Where I come from, country music is king. In the small town where my folks still live, country rules the airwaves in the public places and on the radio dials in the pickups. Rock'n'roll is a second-class citizen, and classical music is a foreigner. So, when I read this description of country by Russell Moore this morning, I couldn't help but note it on this blog. It is one of the best descriptions I have read.

Roots music, after all, is remarkably honest about things commercial music often doesn’t want to talk about: despair, loneliness, heartache, sin, redemption, sowing what one reaps. And in so doing, this music often unveils what it looks like to be, in Flannery O’Connor’s words, “Christ-haunted.” Often, in this music, there’s a Christian subtext but no Christianity. There’s some kind of redemption but no crucifixion. There’s grace, and grace abounding, but often grace that sin may abound.

This is how Wilie Nelson can end a concert by moving, without comment, from crooning “Whiskey River, Take My Mind” to softly singing “Amazing Grace.” The point isn’t that Willie does this. It’s that he knows stadiums full of concert-goers want him too.

In the music of the Bible Belt, we can hear something of what it means to be simultaneously the Publican and the Pharisee. It’s a religious identity, indeed a “Christian” identity, with a tortured conscience. That’s an awfully heartsick place to be.

Waging War on Women

Our society has been waging war on women for a long time now with practices like abortion, no-fault divorce, and so on. But now our degradation of the dignity of women is nearly complete - "Panel to Recommend Allowing Women in Combat." Of course, women have been in combat situations throughout the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, but there was at least a pretense of some kind of line that should not be crossed. That line is now going to be erased. Pay attention to the moral reasoning swirling around this issue. It is completely typical of a relativistic worldview. But of course, although it is sad to see such shallow reasoning, it is even more devastating to see womanhood degraded from something to be honored for its distinctive, God-given qualities to something to be thrown into the war-machine and ground up in the name of freedom.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Worshiping in Sickness

Huldrich Zwingli's response to his sickness during the plague in Zurich is a great example of faith clinging to God. Here are Philip Schaff's renditions of the poems Zwingli wrote at the beginning, middle, and end of his illness.

I. In the beginning of his sickness

Help me, O Lord,
My strength and rock;
Lo, at the door
I hear death's knock.

Uplift thine arm,
Once pierced for me,
That conquered death,
And set me free.

Yet, if thy voice,
In life's mid-day,
Recalls my soul,
Then I obey.

In faith and hope
Earth I resign,
Secure of heaven,
For I am Thine.

II. In the midst of his sickness

My pains increase;
Haste to console;
For fear and woe
Seize body and soul.

Death is at hand,
My senses fail,
My tongue is dumb;
Now, Christ, prevail.

Lo! Satan strains
To snatch his prey;
I feel his grasp;
Must I give way?

He harms me not,
I fear no loss,
For here I lie,
Beneath thy cross.

III. On recovering from his sickness

My God! my Lord!
Healed by thy hand,
Upon the earth
Once more I stand.

Let sin no more
Rule over me;
My mouth shall sing
Alone of thee.

Though now delayed,
My hour will come,
Involved, perchance,
In deeper gloom.

But, let it come;
With joy I'll rise,
And bear my yoke
Straight to the skies.

Communicating Your Substance to the Propagation of the Gospel

David Brainerd writes of an Indian woman who was recently converted:

She moreover inquired whether I was not sent to preach to the Indians by some good people a great way off. I replied, "Yes, by the good people of Scotland." She answered, "that her heart loved those good people so the evening before, that she could scarce help praying for them all night, her heart would go to God for them." Thus, the blessing of those ready to perish is like to come upon those pious persons who have communicated of their substance to the propagation of the Gospel.

Friday, January 07, 2011

The Light of the World

Joyful all ye nations rise,
Jesus, the light of the world;
Join the triumph of the skies,
Jesus, the light of the world.

So goes an American carol from years gone by. But if the carol singers recognized Jesus as the light of the world, the Pharisees at the Feast of Booths in Jerusalem (John 8) certainly did not. They wouldn't even consider the possibility that Jesus might be the light of life. Yet their obstinacy provides us with a perfect opportunity to see Jesus demonstrate the truth of his claims. Join us this Lord's Day to see the light.

Songs
O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing (#69)
Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness
'Tis the Christ (#150)
The Name High Over All (#31)
Our Great Savior (#434)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Genesis 23; Psalm 85
New Testament: Matthew 15:1-20

Sermon
I Am the Light of the World - John 8:12-30

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Arguing Like Conservatives and Liberals

I had an interesting experience this morning that I would like to share with you. It came from the conjunction of two online articles I read back-to-back, and I believe it serves as a great illustration of the different approaches of conservatives and liberals.

Before I share the illustration, I want to attempt to shed a little baggage. I know that I cannot use the words "conservative" and "liberal" without conveying a certain amount of implied moral criticism. But that is not my purpose in this post. My purpose is not primarily to evaluate but to classify. Accurate classification is helpful for proper evaluation.

As I skimmed quickly through my blog reader, I first read this post "Differences and Universals in Music across Cultures" by Scott Aniol. Next, I read this post, "Fomenting a Missional Revolution" by Steve Davis. The first is an example of arguing like a conservative and the second exemplifies arguing like a liberal.

Please note what I am not saying. I am not claiming that Scott is a conservative and that Steve is a liberal. I am not claiming that Scott is right in his arguments and that Steve is wrong in his arguments. One can argue like a conservative and be wrong, or one can argue like a liberal and be correct, in any given argument. Discerning this would require a further evaluation which I do not intend to do right now. My observation has solely to do with the way they went about arguing for their positions.

In a conservative mindset, transcendent order is always present, even if unseen. The conservative mindset thinks that "change may not be salutary reform: hasty innovation may be a devouring conflagration, rather than a torch of progress. Society must alter, for prudent change is the means of social preservation; but a statesman must take Providence into his calculations, and a statesman's chief virtue...is prudence" (Russell Kirk). Conforming to the transcendent order is the path of wisdom. In a liberal mindset, freedom is the fundamental good and the ultimate norm, with freedom being the option or ability to do as one wishes. Thus, tradition is not seen as a source of wisdom but as an impediment to progress. The change that must take place for the better is self-evident by simply looking at the imminent order. The liberal mindset assumes that man has the ability to get better by altering his education or environment and that it is (usually irrational) attachments to the past which inhibit men from making the obvious choices for improvement needed today.

If you have a moment, read the articles I referenced and tell me what you think. These articles seem to me to be clear examples of opposing ways of thinking and arguing - the former conservative, the latter liberal.

Who is right? That's an argument for another day, but I think we ought at least to be clear on how these men are arguing their positions.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

The Pursuit of Holiness

It was Christmas of 1992, during my sophomore year of college, that my father gave me the book The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges. My father's love for me was evident in his desire for my holiness, and I am eternally grateful for his training which helped, and still helps, a sinful believer like myself to strive for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

I grew in Christ through reading that book, and I would like to recommend it to you, as well. During the month of January Christianaudio.com is offering a free download of the audio version of The Pursuit of Holiness. If you have time while you are driving or while you are working in the kitchen to listen to some edifying and convicting material, then download the book and listen to it. Don't ever get to the point in your life where you forget the pursuit of holiness!