Friday, July 29, 2011

Glad that He Is Gone

Have you ever considered that there are powerful reasons to be glad that Jesus left this earth and went to his Father? At first thought, it would seem to be better for us if Jesus was present with us bodily, but that thought reveals that we do not understand God's plan of redemption, nor how we participate in all of the blessings he has for us right now. Join us this Lord's Day to rejoice that Jesus left us.

Songs
Arise, My Soul, Arise (#174)
Doxology
The Solid Rock (#392)
It Is Well with My Soul (#371)
Praise the Savior (#17)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Exodus 2; Psalm 46
New Testament: Romans 1:18-32

Sermon
Rejoicing that Jesus Left Us - John 14:25-31

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

No Substitute for the Church

Mark my words: it is absolutely necessary that Scripture's particulars again become normative among Evangelicals, and to that end, that we lead Evangelicals back to the Church, Her Sacraments, the discipline of Her officers, corporate worship, and the proclamation of the Gospel by Her Apostles, pastors, elders, and deacons. This is the record left us in the New Testament of the Apostolic fulfillment of the Great Commission.

And if we are to return to Scripture in this way, we must show the error of those men and organizations who claim to be sharing Jesus, which is to say fulfilling the Great Commission, while studiously avoiding the very things our Lord Jesus commanded, starting with Baptism and moving on to that word "everything."

Tim Bayly doing a little fog clearing exercise.

The Old South as a Schoolmarm

...Victims of the confusions and frustrations of our own time turn with live interest to that fulfillment represented by the Old South. And it is this that they find: the last non-materialist civilization in the Western World. It is this refuge of sentiments and values, of spiritual congeniality, of belief in the word, of reverence for symbolism, whose existence haunts the nation....

Looking at the whole of the South's promise and achievement, I would be unwilling to say that it offers a foundation, or, because of some accidents of history, even an example. The most that it offers is a challenge. And the challenge is to save the human spirit by re-creating a non-materialist society. Only this can rescue us from a future of nihilism, urged on by te demoniacal force of technology and by our own moral defeatism.

The first step will be to give the common man a world view completely different from that which he has constructed out of his random knowledge of science....What man thinks about the world when he is driven back to his deepest reflections and most secret promptings will finally determine all that he does....

Distinctions of many kinds will have to be restored, and I would mention especially one whose loss has added immeasurably to the malaise of our civilization - the fruitful distinction between the sexes, with the recognition of respective spheres of influence.

The Old South may indeed be a hall hung with splendid tapestries in which no one would care to live; but from them we can learn something of how to live.

Richard Weaver, The Southern Tradition at Bay: A History of Postbellum Thought, reprint ed. (Washington D.C.: Regnery Gateway, 1989)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

No Dogs or Pigs Allowed

The early Christian leaders known as the church fathers were exceptionally serious about the need for moral purity for a right understanding of Scripture. Here is Gregory of Nazianzus in his "First Theological Oration."

Not to every one, my friends, does it belong to philosophize about God, not to every one; the Subject is not so cheap and low; and I will add, not before every audience, nor at all times, nor on all points; but on certain occasions, and before certain persons, and within certain limits. 

Not to all men, because it is permitted only to those who have been examined, and are passed masters in meditation, and who have been previously purified in soul and body, or at the very least are being purified.  For the impure to touch the pure is, we may safely say, not safe, just as it is unsafe to fix weak eyes upon the sun’s rays.  

And what is the permitted occasion?  It is when we are free from all external defilement or disturbance, and when that which rules within us is not confused with vexatious or erring images; like persons mixing up good writing with bad, or filth with the sweet odours of unguents.  For it is necessary to be truly at leisure to know God; and when we can get a convenient season, to discern the straight road of the things divine.  

And who are the permitted persons?  They to whom the subject is of real concern, and not they who make it a matter of pleasant gossip, like any other thing, after the races, or the theatre, or a concert, or a dinner, or still lower employments.  To such men as these, idle jests and pretty contradictions about these subjects are a part of their amusement.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Spirit of Truth Is Here

Is it really possible to participate with Christ in his mission? Yes.

How? You have a 'Paraklete.'

Come rest and rejoice in him with us this Lord's Day.

Songs
Salvation! O My Soul Rejoice! (#291)
Doxology
Eternal Spirit, Praise We Bring (#207)
Come, Holy Ghost, Our God and Lord (#209)
Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah (#495)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Exodus 1; Psalm 31
New Testament: Romans 1:1-17

Sermon
You Have a Helper - John 14:16-17

Friday, July 15, 2011

Filled with the Fruit of Righteousness

Unlike most modern intellectuals, the church fathers recognized that good interpretation is most likely to flow from a good person. Patristic exegesis was, finally, a religious exercise. Right reading was a fruit of righteousness.

John J. O'Keefe and R. R. Reno, Sanctified Vision: An Introduction to Early Christian Interpretation of the Bible (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005), 23.

Living in Love

"If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him."
Jesus (John 14:23)

Songs
Come, Thou Almighty King (#63)
Doxology
Eternal Spirit! Praise We Bring (#207)
Come Holy Ghost, Our God and Lord (#209)
Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove (#211)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Genesis 50; Psalm 11
New Testament: Matthew 28:1-20

Sermon
Living in Love - John 14:15-24

The High Calling of Motherhood

On June 16 I linked to a good article about motherhood as a mission field. Now there is a follow up post which is just as good: "Motherhood Is a Calling."

The truth is that years ago, before this generation of mothers was even born, our society decided where children rank in the list of important things. When abortion was legalized, we wrote it into law.

Children rank way below college. Below world travel for sure. Below the ability to go out at night at your leisure. Below honing your body at the gym. Below any job you may have or hope to get. In fact, children rate below your desire to sit around and pick your toes, if that is what you want to do. Below everything. Children are the last thing you should ever spend your time doing.

If you grew up in this culture, it is very hard to get a biblical perspective on motherhood, to think like a free Christian woman about your life, your children. How much have we listened to partial truths and half lies? Do we believe that we want children because there is some biological urge, or the phantom “baby itch”? Are we really in this because of cute little clothes and photo opportunities? Is motherhood a rock-bottom job for those who can’t do more, or those who are satisfied with drudgery? If so, what were we thinking?

Do read the whole article.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Means of Grace?

The Christian Curmudgeon discusses why many Christians view historic Protestantism as something more like Roman Catholicism.

A "high view of the Church, of the ministry, of the Word and sacraments is historic Protestantism, but it sounds Catholic to many evangelicals today."

...Historic Protestantism sounds strange to evangelical ears because it believes the means of grace are just that – means whereby, with the blessing of the Holy Spirit, God’s grace enters our lives. 

Of course, there is much more to be said about "means of grace," but it is quite helpful to realize that American evangelicals in general are deeply mystical. Thus they have a difficult time making a connection between the grace of God and any external action. For all practical purposes, God is privately experienced "in my heart." Going to church, for example, is quite extraneous to the essence of my personal relationship with God.

Good News around the World

Pastor David Doran on teaching at Central African Bible College in Zimbabwe:

Our God is doing awesome things all over the globe for His glory! Seeing them firsthand is an amazing gift of His grace.

Read the whole thing, and be encouraged at the gracious work of the Spirit of God in Africa.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Read Wisely

"There is … the ignorance of those who have misread many books. They are, as Alexander Pope rightly calls them, bookful blockheads, ignorantly read. There have always been literate ignoramuses who have read too widely and not well. The Greeks had a name for such a mixture of learning and folly which might be applied to the bookish but poorly read of all ages. They are all sophomores."

Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren, How to Read a Book, revised ed. (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972), 12

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Friday, July 08, 2011

Whatever You Ask

Jesus has risen from the dead and has gone to the Father. From that honored position, he works to bring honor to the Father. For that very reason, he loves to do what his followers ask of him. He commits himself to do whatever we ask in his name. What an amazing commitment! Are you participating in the mission of Christ by asking in his name?

Songs
We Gather Together (#709)
Doxology
Lord Jesus Christ, We Seek Thy Face (#667)
Prayer Is the Soul's Sincere Desire (#669)
Jesus, Where're Thy People Meet (#666)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Genesis 49; Psalm 28
New Testament: Matthew 27:32-66

Sermon
Whatever You Ask - John 14:13-14

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

How You Worship God Matters

This article asks the question, "What kind of Christians do contemporary services produce?" As they say, that's a good question. Consider it.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Roused and Warmed with Desire

Each Lord's Day we read, just read, from the holy Scripture. Yesterday I was made aware of a great example of how we ought to listen to the Scriptures as they are read. These are the words of John Chrysostom (c. 347-407) in his Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistle to the Romans.


As I keep hearing the Epistles of the blessed Paul read, and that twice every week, and often three or four times, whenever we are celebrating the memorials of the holy martyrs, gladly do I enjoy the spiritual trumpet, and get roused and warmed with desire at recognizing the voice so dear to me, and seem to fancy him all but present to my sight, and behold him conversing with me. But I grieve and am pained, that all people do not know this man, as much as they ought to know him; but some are so far ignorant of him, as not even to know for certainty the number of his Epistles. ... [T]his blessed Apostle said to the Philippians; 'Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the Gospel.' (Phil. i. 7.) And so ye also, if ye be willing to apply to the reading of him with a ready mind, will need no other aid.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Don't You Understand Yet?

Teachers love good comments from their students. It demonstrates that the student is thinking carefully about what he is being taught. But in the final discussion with Jesus' disciples before he was crucified, Philip made a profound request of Jesus which made Jesus sad. Philip wanted to see God, which is the greatest vision any man can have (Rev 22:4). Why would such a request make Jesus sad? It revealed that Philip still couldn't see that he was talking to the Word made flesh.

Do you think that Jesus might say the same thing to you? Let's consider this from a different angle. Are you satisfied with seeing the Father in the Son? Does the revelation of God in Jesus fill your soul and control your life? How can it do so? Join us this Lord's Day to hear Jesus' words and be satisfied with seeing the Father in the Son.

Songs
Holy, Holy, Holy (#3)
Doxology
Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise (#23)
God of Earth, God of Sky (#24)
Praise Ye the Lord (#42)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Genesis 48; Psalm 73
New Testament: Matthew 27:1-31

Sermon
Satisfied with Seeing the Father in the Son - John 14:8-14