Friday, December 27, 2013

All Nations Will Worship

Jesus left us with instructions to make disciples of all nations. We look forward to the day when "all nations will come and worship" the Lord, because his "righteous acts have been revealed" (Rev 15:4). 2013 has been a year in which HCBC learned to worship in such a way as to teach the nations to worship, and we will close out our corporate worship for the year with a recapitulation of the glorious truths that enable us to exalt Jesus as the saving Lord in all of life. Jesus is Lord!

Songs
God Himself Is Present
Come, Children, Learn to Fear the Lord (tune: Azmon)
Come, Ye that Fear the Lord (tune: St. Thomas)
Psalm 150

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 12:1-16; Psalm 150
New Testament: Luke 24:36-53

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work series: All Nations Will Come and Worship - Revelation 15:3-4; etc.

P.S. Don't forget our business meeting and prayer meeting in the afternoon. There is no better way to finish the year than in united prayer!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Seeing Grace and Truth

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, 
and we have seen his glory, 
glory as of the only Son from the father, 
full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

Friday, December 20, 2013

O Worship the King

When the King of kings was born, God miraculously moved pagan magi to worship him. All the while the petty tyrant Herod, after hearing the very word of God on the matter, could only feign worship in a frantic effort to kill him. The revelation of the Ruler forces upon us the issue of worship. How will you respond to Jesus?

Songs
Joy to the World (92)
O Holy Night (100)
Away in a Manger (112)
To Us a Child of Hope Is Born (114)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 11:16-35; Psalm 147
New Testament: Luke 24:13-35

Sermon
Worship the King - Matthew 2:1-12

Friday, December 13, 2013

Education and the Knowledge of the Holy One

The entire book of Proverbs is a book on education. How could it not be, if it directs us to the knowledge of the Holy One? Join us this Lord's Day to learn.

Songs
Hark! the Herald Angels Sing (90)
Angels from the Realms of Glory (111)
The First Noel (98)
Silent Night! Holy Night! (109)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 11:1-17; Psalm 146
New Testament: Luke 24:1-12

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work series: Education and the Knowledge of the Holy One - Proverbs

P.S. While we are on the topic, you should check out Douglas Wilson's Why Christian Kids Need a Christian Education. The Kindle edition is only $2.99.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A View of Education in Boston in 1708

The City, a publication of Houston Baptist University, reprints a portion of a letter which accompanied Cotton Mather's book The Education of Children, published in 1708.

A good school deserves to be call'd, the very salt of the town, that hath it: And the Pastors of every town are under peculiar obligations to make this a part of their Pastoral Care that they may have a Good School in their Neighborhood....

But we shall never long retain the Gospel, without the help of Learning....

My Fathers and Brethren, If you have any Love to God and Christ and Posterity; let Godly Schools be more Encouraged. Let Well-Ordered and well-instructed and well-maintained Schools, be the Honour and the Defence of our Land. Let Learning, and all the Helps and Means of it, be precious in our Esteem and by Learning, let the Interests of thy Gospel so prevail, that we may be made wise unto Salvation. Save us, O Our Lord Jesus Christ. Save us from the Mischiefs and Scandals of an Uncultivated Offspring; let this be a land of light, unto Thou.


You can see it here.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A View of Education near Boston around 1646


2. Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the maine end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3) and therefore to lay Christ in the bottome, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and Learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisedome, Let every one seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seeke it of him (Prov. 2:3). 

3. Every one shall so exercise himselfe in reading the Scriptures twice a day, that he shall be ready to give such an account of his proficiency therein, both in Theoreticall observations of Language and Logick, and in practical and spiritual truths, as his Tutor shall require, according to his ability; seeing the entrance of the word giveth light, it giveth understanding to the simple (Psalm 119:130).

From Harvard College's Rules and Precepts

Friday, December 06, 2013

Money and God

In our sermon entitled "Loving Wisdom," based on Proverbs 8, we said that wisdom entails being able to connect every aspect of life with Jesus Christ. We are going to continue our search for this kind of wisdom this Lord's Day by considering our money and the knowledge of the Holy One. How can we seek Christ in all of our producing, using, exchanging, and giving material goods? Join us to find out.

Songs
O Come, All Ye Faithful (88)
Angels We Have Heard on High (89)
What Child Is This? (103)
Who Is He in Yonder Stall? (120)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 10:11-36; Psalm 145
New Testament: Luke 23:44-56

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work series: Your Money and the Knowledge of the Holy One - Proverbs

Friday, November 29, 2013

Political Proverbs

What does worship have to do with politics?

Quite a bit, actually.

This Lord's Day, we will engage in that most political of all Christian activities, gathered worship, and while we're at it, we will gather wisdom from Proverbs about politics.

Songs
Ye Servants of God (#44)
Jesus Shall Reign (#51)
Crown Him with Many Crowns (#52)
Joy to the World (#92)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 10:1-10; Psalm 144
New Testament: Luke 23:26-43

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work series: The King and the Knowledge of the Holy One - Proverbs 16:10-15; etc.

Friday, November 22, 2013

All the Way Good

What is life in Christ really like? It is as rich as the earth and as glorious as the sun. It is good, all the way down and all the way up.

How do people know that? By our thanksgiving.

Join us this Lord's Day to give thanks to our good and great God. Our sacrifice of praise will be based upon Psalm 105, as everything for which we thank God is participation in his great work of redemption leading toward his eternal kingdom. I encourage you to stir up your hearts for this service by recalling all of God's goodnesses to you.


Psalm 105:1-6--A Call to Praise the Lord
Praise Ye the Lord #42
Psalm 105:7-11--The Lord's Covenant of Promise
Psalm 105:12-15—The Lord’s Faithful Protection
Psalm 23b
Psalm 105:16-24—The Lord’s Mysterious but Good Providence
Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah #495
Psalm 105:25-38—The Lord’s Powerful Deliverance
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel #87
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross #137
Psalm 105:39-45—The Lord Keeps His Promise So His People May Dwell in His Presence
Look Ye Saints #163
Psalm 24b

Sermon: Abounding in Thanksgiving - Colossians 2:6-7; 3:15-17; 4:2-6

P.S. Don't forget that we will cap off our day together with a Thanksgiving Feast, enjoying all of Christ's gifts to us!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Words that Give Life

"A gentle tongue is a tree of life" Proverbs 15:4 tells us.

Who among us does not have an inner desire for that paradise that was lost where we walk and talk with God? Thanks to the work of Jesus Christ the Lord, the ultimate Paradise will be ours. Yet even now we hear whispers of that place of peace and joy whenever we encounter a gentle tongue. May our church be a place where the Spirit of God breathes through our gracious speech.

As we gather this Lord's Day, we will seek the wisdom to work out our worship through our tongues.

Songs
Psalm 95
We Plough the Fields, and Scatter (#704)
Come, Ye Thankful People, Come (#708)
Now Thank We All Our God (#5)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 9:1-23; Psalm 143
New Testament: Luke 23:1-25

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work series: Life-Giving Words and the Knowledge of the Holy One - Proverbs 10:11; 15:4, etc.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Giving and Receiving the Knowledge of the Holy One

We want to know God and make him known. Our worship is for that very purpose. Seeing God for who he truly is as he has revealed himself in his Son by the Spirit leads us to respond to him in holy love and joy, and to communicate that joy to the world around us. We are here to make disciples, and our worship directs that work.

But the book of Proverbs won't let us rest content with generic or hypothetical responses to God. It forces our worship out into how we conduct ourselves in the highways and byways of life, making real choices about how we will live and building a real culture of faithfulness. This Lord's Day, we will see how our worship connects to our life in our families.

Family relationships are the center of a life of joy and gladness or a life of sorrow and pain, and they will be either one of those to the degree that they are the site of mutual giving and receiving of the knowledge of the Holy One. Join us in that loving knowledge this Lord's Day!

Songs
O Father All-Creating (#727)
Give Ear unto God's Holy Word (#729)
O Lord, Behold Us at Thy Feet (#730)
Lord, How Delightful (#726)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 8:1-26; Psalm 142
New Testament: Luke 22:54-71

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work series: The Knowledge of the Holy One in Your Home - Proverbs 10:1, etc.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Life with God

Climbing the mountain of the first nine chapters of Proverbs has given us a desire for the good land of life with God. But now we need to map out the territory a bit more clearly if we are to know where we are going in our quest to know God. We will do this, by God's grace, this Lord's Day as we draw together crucial insights into the knowledge of the Holy One which will guide our worship and our work as a church.

Songs
Praise Ye Jehovah (4)
Psalm 23a
Psalm 23b
I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord (224)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 7:54-89; Psalm 142
New Testament: Luke 22:39-53

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work series: Faith, Fear, and the Knowledge of the Holy One - Proverbs 1-9

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Read "Charity and Its Fruits" and Practice It

If love is so great a thing in Christianity, so essential and distinguishing, yea, the very sum of all Christian virtue, then surely those that profess themselves Christians should live in love and abound in the works of love, for no works are so becoming as those of love.

Do not make an excuse that you have not opportunities to do anything for the glory of God, for the interest of the Redeemer's kingdom, and for the spiritual benefit of your neighbors. If your heart is full of love, it will find vent; you will find or make ways enough to express your love in deeds. When a fountain abounds in water it will send forth streams. Consider that as a principle of love is the main principle in the heart of a real Christian, so the labor of love is the main business of the Christian life.

Jonathan Edwards, Charity and Its Fruits

Today, over at the Religious Affections Ministries website, Scott Aniol has posted my recommendation that every believer read this book.  You can read the book recommendation here.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Gentle Love

Love will dispose men to meekness and gentleness in their carriage toward their neighbors, and not to treat them with passion or violence or heat of spirit; but with moderation and calmness and kindness. It will check and restrain everything like a bitter spirit; for love has no bitterness in it, but is a gentle and sweet disposition and affection of the soul.

Jonathan Edwards, Charity and Its Fruits

Friday, October 25, 2013

Come to the Feast

Through the prophet Isaiah the Lord promised a day of peace and joy in which he himself would provide a banquet of life for all peoples.

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. (Isaiah 25:6)

When the Lord gave of himself in the person of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, he called upon all men to seek true food.

Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. (John 6:27)

That true food was none other than Christ himself.

I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. (John 6:35)

Wisdom invites us to this feast this Lord's Day. Come to know the Holy One. Come to know true life.

Songs
Holy, Holy, Holy (3)
Come, Children, Learn to Fear the Lord
How Lovely, Lord of hosts, to Me (Psalm 84)
On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand (649)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 7:18-53; Psalm 141
New Testament: Luke 22:24-38

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work series: The Knowledge of the Holy One - Proverbs 9:1-18

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Humble Love

Love will dispose to walk humbly amongst men; for a real and true love will incline us to high thoughts of others and to think them better than ourselves. It will dispose men to honor one another, for all are naturally inclined to think highly of those they love, and to give them honor; so that by love are fulfilled these precepts, "Honor all men" (1 Peter 2:17), and "Let nothing be done through strife or vain-glory; but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem other better than themselves" (Phil 2:3).

Jonathan Edwards, Charity and Its Fruits

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Just Love

If men have a sincere love to their neighbors it will dispose them to all acts of justice towards those neighbors--for real love and friendship always dispose us to give those we love their due and never to wrong them. "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor" (Rom 13:10).

Jonathan Edwards, Charity and Its Fruits

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Chalcedon in the Cradle

This past Lord's Day we had some great theological discussion going on at church. Here's a snippet of one conversation.

Boy #1 (4 years old) mused: God is a nickname for Jesus.

Boy #2 (5 years old) responded indignantly: God is not a nickname!

Boy #3 (4 years old) said with finality: Jesus IS God.

We love hearing the young ones learn to speak of our Lord. We love passing on the faith, complete and entire, that God has graciously given us. To that end, this past Lord's Day we officially adopted the creed of Chalcedon as an official part of our church's confession of faith. May not only our young ones but also the whole world come to know Jesus Christ as perfect in Godhood and perfect in manhood, truly God and truly man.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Loving Wisdom

Walking the path of the "strange" woman is the model of the foolish way that leads to death. So what's the alternative?

The alternative is a different woman, strong and beautiful. Whoever finds her finds life and will know God's delight.

Join us to seek her tomorrow!

Songs
O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing (#69)
Jesus, the Name High Over All (#31)
How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds (#39)
Be Thou My Vision (#462)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 7:1-17; Psalm 140
New Testament: Luke 22:1-23

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work series: Loving Wisdom - Proverbs 8

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Exalted on My Abasement

"Love to God will dispose us to walk humbly with Him, for he that loves God will be disposed to acknowledge the vast distance between God and himself....A true Christian delights to have God exalted on his own abasement, because he loves Him."

Jonathan Edwards, Charity and Its Fruits

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Your Will Be Done

"Love will dispose our hearts to submission to the will of God, for we are more willing that the will of those we love should be done, than of others."

Jonathan Edwards, "Charity and Its Fruits"

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Essential Virtue

"In [1 Corinthians 13] we observe that something is spoken of as of special importance, and as peculiarly essential in Christians, which the apostle calls charity. And this charity, we find, is abundantly insisted on in the New Testament by Christ and His apostles--more insisted on, indeed, than any other virtue." 

Jonathan Edwards, "Charity and Its Fruits"

Friday, October 11, 2013

Enough Already?

Alright, alright, we've heard this before. Enough already. Why does the father in Proverbs keep harping on the wicked woman? Does he think his son is stupid?

If any "son," including us, thinks this way, then he doesn't understand the way of wisdom. The repetition is an invitation to meditation, to understanding, to prudence, knowledge, and discretion. I don't believe that the Holy Spirit gives us this particular, repeated example accidentally.

In order to be formed in the way of wisdom, to have our desires trained and aimed at the true knowledge of God, we need the repetition that we will hear from God's word this Lord's Day. Join us to hear and respond to our God!

Songs
God Himself Is Present
Psalm 33
Come Ye that Fear the Lord
Now Thank We All Our God (5)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 6:13-27; Psalm 139
New Testament: Luke 21:20-38

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work series: The Way of Wisdom - Proverbs 6:20-7:27

Friday, September 20, 2013

Three Life Lessons

Three life lessons we all need--
1. Don't get caught as security for others' debts.
2. Don't become a sluggard.
3. Watch out for the worthless man who sows discord.

Join us this Lord's Day to learn how our faith in Christ steers us away from these potholes.

Songs
All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name (#38)
O Lord, Behold Us at Thy Feet (#730)
Come, Children, Learn to Fear the Lord
Ho! Ye that Thirst (#678)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 5:1-10; Psalm 136
New Testament: Luke 20:19-26

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series: Three Life Lessons - Proverbs 6:1-19

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pictures of the Flood

The Denver Post has a great collection of photos of the flood. Not the biblical one, just the Great Colorado One.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Some Links for End of the Week Reading

If you are looking to fill a few spare minutes with some edifying reading this Saturday, here are few link for you to check out.

"Indulge Me in a Parable" about modesty, by Rebekah Jankovic

"Public Worship" by David de Bruyn, good preparation for tomorrow

"Paradigm Shift" by Kevin Bauder, on the radical secularism American Christians now face. A quote:
For at least three generations, American Christians have tried to teach their children the meaning of Christianity by offering them fun and games. This program has left increasing numbers of young people unable to resist the perspectives of secularization. The American church has won more and more young people to less and less Christianity. If the world is finally about to show its brutality, how can children be instructed so that they will shine as lights in the darkness? How will future generations of Christian leaders be equipped to shepherd their flocks through the savage days to come?

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Talk

In our text this Lord's Day, the Holy Spirit sits us down and gives us "the talk." Yes, I mean that talk, the one every father needs to have with his son. If we are going to have the wisdom to work out our worship, then we must become skilled in the area of sex. We must know how to walk the path of life as male and female, and we must know how to avoid the path of death. It is the difference between an intoxicatingly joyful life and an excruciatingly painful death. This is a crucial and timely word for a world that is foolishly being led astray.

Songs
Praise the Savior (17)
Psalm 119b
Psalm 119d
Called unto Holiness (226)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 4:21-49; Psalm 32
New Testament: Luke 20:1-18

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series: Wisdom and a Woman - Proverbs 5:1-23

Friday, September 06, 2013

Old Paths, Bright Paths

In our continuing pursuit of wisdom, which is really nothing other than a drive to know the Lord in all of his glory, we come now to Proverbs 4, where the father passes on to his sons the wisdom which his own father taught him. There is a multi-generational vision of faithfulness to enjoy from the Scriptures together this Lord's Day!

Songs
Come Ye that Fear the Lord
Praise Ye Jehovah (4)
We Rest on Thee (600)
On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand (649)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 4:1-20; Psalm 135
New Testament: Luke 19:28-48

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series: Old Paths, Bright Paths - Proverbs 4

Freedom to Make Disciples

For all my homeschooling friends (and others who want to listen in)

As you have probably heard, police stormed the house of the Wunderlich family near Darmstadt, Germany, and took their children. Their crime was homeschooling.

Meanwhile, here in the United States, you are allowed to homeschool. However, it seems that some people consider you to be a very bad person if you do not send your children to the public school. I encourage you to read this "manifesto" and see if you are not convicted and cut to the heart by the powerful reasoning demonstrated by this astute thinker.

Just in case you are wondering, that last sentence was tongue in cheek. But this really is serious...if this article is supposed to represent the level of education produced by the public school system, then I wouldn't send Darwin's great-great-granddaddy there. Thankfully, there are a great many graduates of the public school system who do use their reasoning powers in ways vastly superior to the author of the manifesto. (If you do read the manifesto, then you really should read this sharp response by Christopher Tollefsen.)

Education never has been and never will be religion-neutral. Our contemporary form of public education is structurally secular. You can read the Bible and pray in the public schools all you want to, and you will still be training up young people in a secular worldview, for the public educational system in our nation, like the political system, attempts to cordon off faith into the private sphere. With mounds of paperwork and hours of screen time, it tries to bury the fact that faith is involved in all knowledge. But confessing that Jesus is Lord, which is the fundamental confession of faith of the Christian (Rom 10:9), is structurally incompatible with the religion of secularism. (For a couple recent thoughtful engagements on this issue, see "Do Christian Kids Need Christian Education?" and "Classical Christian Education and Public Witness.")

Christian education is one of the most comprehensive disciple-making opportunities available to us in the United States, not only for our own children, but for all the people we interact with, if we use it well. Let us take the opportunity while we have it.


Thursday, September 05, 2013

We're Looking for a Few Dead Women

I'm glad someone has the courage to speak the obvious. Lt Col (Ret) Robert Maginnis explains why it is simply foolish to put women in ground combat units. You can watch his speech, "Deadly Consequences," here.

But let me say a few more words about why merely accumulating facts against women in combat will not work in our nation right now. We need to have situational awareness. What kind of situation are we in, and what response does it call for?

We are not in a situation of ignorance in our nation. We are in a situation of rebellion. We are not dealing with simpletons. We are dealing with fools. It is not merely that the powers that be, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are ignorant of the realities of combat and of the physical capabilities of women. If that were the case, a few history lessons or visits to some battlefields should clear things up in a hurry.

But that will not suffice, for we are dealing with a fundamentally religious issue. The powers that be really will make our daughters pass through the fire to Molech, or Equality, or Freedom, or whatever name they want to give to their god, for that is necessary to their pagan worldview. We have already slaughtered millions of babies. What's the brutal death of a comparatively few women going to matter, especially when it is "for a good cause"?

This is just one more front in the war against God's image. He created us male and female, and it is good. Yes, in a sin twisted world, we perceive reality, including our sexual reality, as in a fun house mirror. But Jesus has come to untwist the world, an in him we see what we were meant to be.

Here is where the church has her work cut out for her. We must lift high the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus as the antidote to the slaughter of our women. His resurrection is our hope of new life. The grace of the Spirit flowing out in love renews us as real women and real men, even as we await the coming of Jesus' kingdom of righteousness and peace. Of course, accepting this message means repentance for all of our woman-degrading idolatry. But repentance is the answer to rebellion. Christians must demonstrate that the message of the cross is what America needs if she is to cherish the life of her women.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Life for Your Soul

We live in what has often been called a "culture of death" and it does seem that we are hell-bent on proving that description true. But Christians are here in this world to show forth a culture of life, and we will seek that life together this Lord's Day. Join us!

Songs
God Himself Is Present
O Thou in Whose Presence (451)
How Lovely, Lord of Hosts to Me (Psalm 84)
There Is a Happy Land (722)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 3:27-51; Psalm 134
New Testament: Luke 19:1-27

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work series: Inheriting Grace and Glory - Proverbs 3:21-35

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sanctification in Christ Is Glorification Begun

Do you want to grow in grace?

Walter Marshall (1628-1680) gives sound counsel in The Gospel-Mystery of Sanctification.

I have summarized the main points below.



Direction One
That we may acceptably perform the duties of holiness and righteousness required in the law, our first work is, to learn the powerful and effectual means whereby we may attain to so great an end.
The scope of all is, to teach you how you may attain to that practice and manner of life which we call holiness, righteousness, or godliness, obedience, true religion….The holiness which I would bring to you is spiritual, Rom vii.14. It consists not only in external works of piety and charity, but in the holy thoughts, imaginations, and affections of the soul, and chiefly in love; from whence all other good works must flow, or else they are not acceptable to God….
The second thing contained in this introductory direction, is the necessity of learning the powerful and effectual means, whereby this great and excellent end may be accomplished….This is a very needful premonition: because many are apt to skip over the lesson concerning the means…as superfluous and useless. When once they know the nature and excellency of the duties of the law, they account nothing wanting but diligent performance; and they rush blindly upon immediate practice, making more haste than good speed.

Direction Two
Several endowments and qualifications are necessary to enable us for the immediate practice of the law. Particularly we must have an inclination and propensity of our hearts thereunto; and therefore we must be well persuaded of our reconciliation with God, and of our future enjoyment of the everlasting heavenly happenings, and of sufficient strength both to will and perform all duties acceptably, until we come to the enjoyment of that happiness.

Direction Three
 The way to get holy endowments and qualifications necessary to frame and enable us for the immediate practice of the law, is to receive them out of the fullness of Christ, by fellowship with Him; and that we may have this fellowship, we must be in Christ, and have Christ Himself in us, by a mystical union with Him.

Direction Four
The means or instruments by which the Spirit of God accomplishes our union with Christ, and our fellowship with Him in all holiness, are the gospel, by which Christ enters into our hearts to work faith in us, and faith, by which we actually receive Christ Himself, with all His fullness, into our hearts. And this faith is a grace of the Spirit, by which we heartily believe the gospel and also believe on Christ as He is revealed and freely promised to us in this, for all His salvation.

Direction Five
We cannot attain to the practice of true holiness by any of our endeavours while we continue in our natural state and are not partakers of a new state by union and fellowship with Christ through faith.

Direction Six
Those that endeavour to perform sincere obedience to all the commands of Christ, as the condition by which they are to procure for themselves a right and title to salvation, and a good ground to trust on Him for the same, do seek their salvation by the works of the law, and not by the faith of Christ, as He is revealed in the gospel and they shall never be able to perform sincere and true holy obedience by all such endeavours.

Direction Seven
We are not to imagine that our hearts and lives must be changed from sin to holiness in any measure, before we may safely venture to trust on Christ for the sure enjoyment of Himself and His salvation.

Direction Eight
Be sure to seek for holiness of heart and life only in its due order, where God has placed it, after union with Christ, justification and the gift of the Holy Ghost and, in that order, seek it earnestly by faith as a very necessary part of your salvation.

Direction Nine
We must first receive the comforts of the gospel, that we may be able to sincerely perform the duties of the law.

Direction Ten
That we may be prepared by the comforts of the Gospel to perform sincerely the duties of the law, we must get some assurance of our salvation, in that very faith whereby Christ Himself is received into our hearts: therefore we must endeavor to believe on Christ confidently, persuading and assuring ourselves, in the act of believing, that God freely gives to us an interest in Christ and His salvation, according to His gracious promise.
Observe diligently, that the assurance referred to is not a persuasion that we have already received Christ and His salvation, or that we have been already brought into a state of grace; but only, that God is pleased to graciously give Christ and his salvation to us, and to bring us into a state of grace, though we have been altogether in a state of sin and death until this present time….
The assurance referred to is not a persuasion of our salvation, whatever we do, or however we live and walk; but only in a limited way, through mere free grace in Christ, by partaking of holiness as well as forgiveness, and by walking in the way of holiness to the enjoyment of the glory of God. We shall not heartily desire or endeavor to assure ourselves of such a salvation as this is, if we be not brought first to see our own sinfulness and misery, and to despair of our own righteousness and strength, and to hunger and thirst for the sanctifying as well as justifying grace of God in Christ; that so we may walk in the ways of holiness to the enjoyment of heavenly glory.
Beware of thinking so highly of this assurance as if it were inconsistent with any doubting in the same soul.
…The reason why we are to assure ourselves in our faith, that God freely gives Christ and salvation to us particularly, is not, because it is a truth before we believe it, but because it becomes a certain truth when we believe it, and because it will never be true, except we do….

Direction Eleven
Endeavor diligently to perform the great work of believing on Christ in a right manner, without any delay, and then also to continue and increase in your most holy faith; that so your enjoyment of Christ, union and fellowship with Him, and all holiness by Him, may be begun, continued and increased in you.

Direction Twelve
Make diligent use of your most holy faith, for the immediate performance of the duties of the law, by walking no longer according to your own natural state, or any principles or means of practice that belong unto it, but only according to that new state which you receive by faith, and the principles and means of practice that properly belong thereunto; and strive to continue and increase in such manner of practice. This is the only way to attain to an acceptable performance of those holy and righteous duties, as far as it is possible in this present life.

Direction Thirteen
Endeavor diligently to make the right use of any means appointed in the word of God, for the obtaining and practicing holiness, only in this way of believing in Christ, and walking in Him, according to your new state by faith.

Direction Fourteen
That you may seek holiness and righteousness, only by believing in Christ and walking in Him by faith, according to the former directions, take encouragement from the great advantages of this way, and the excellent properties of it.

Sanctification in Christ is glorification begun, as glorification is sanctification perfected.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Seek the Lord

Looking forward to another great opportunity to seek the Lord together tomorrow.

Songs
Salvation! O My Soul Rejoice! (291)
Amazing Grace (247)
O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus (249)
Hark! the Gospel News Is Sounding (293)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 3:1-26; Psalm 133
New Testament: Luke 18:31-43

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Seeing the Source

We are going to see a certain vision, therefore, brothers, which neither the eye has seen nor the ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man (1 Cor 2:9)--a certain surpassing vision that excels all earthly beauties of gold, and silver, of glades and fields, the beauty of sea and sky, the beauty of sun and moon, the beauty of the stars, the beauty the angels, all things, because it is from this that all things are beautiful.

Augustine, Fourth Homily on the First Epistle of John

Holy Desire

The entire life of a good Christian is a holy desire.

Augustine, Fourth Homily on the First Epistle of John

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Getting Ready to Go

I have the privilege of speaking at a couples' retreat at Three Seven's Ranch this Friday and Saturday. I'm truly looking forward to the fellowship and the time in God's Word. Before I take off, let me share with you the info you need for our Lord's Day worship.

Songs
Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing (243)
Jesus, in His Heavenly Glory (170)
Arise, My Soul, Arise (174)
Thine Be the Glory (162)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 2:1-34; Psalm 132
New Testament: Luke 18:18-30

Sermon
Richard Barber will bring the Word to us.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Intended to Know Him

For of what use is existence to the creature if it cannot know its Maker? How could men be reasonable beings if they had no knowledge of the Word and Reason of the Father, through Whom they had received their being? They would be no better than the beasts, had they no knowledge save of earthly things; and why should God have made them at all, if He had not intended them to know Him?

Athanasius, On the Incarnation, section 11

Hypostatic Union and Theotokos

Nestorius thought it improper to speak of Mary as the mother of God. He had some valid concerns, but his response created other problems, namely, dividing the person of Christ. Cyril of Alexandria was quick to spot these problems, and here is his response to Nestorius' arguments.

...we say that the unique Word of God himself, who was begotten of the very substance of the Father, whois true God of true God, the Light of Light, through whom all things came into being, both things in heaven and things in earth, coming down for the sake of our salvation, and humbling himself even to emptying, was made flesh and became man. That is, taking flesh of the the holy Virgin, and making it his own from the womb, he underwent a birth like ours, and came forth a man of woman, not throwing off what he was, but even though he became [man]by the assumption of flesh and blood, yet still remaining what he was, that is, God indeed in nature and truth.

We do not say that the flesh was changed into the nature of Godhead, nor that the ineffable nature of the Word of God was transformed into the nature of flesh, for he is unchangeable and unalterable, always remaining the same according to the Scriptures. But when seen as a babe and wrapped in swaddling clothes, even when still in the bosom of the Virgin who bore him, he filled all creation as God, and was enthroned with him who begot him. For the divine cannot be numbered or measured, and so does not admit of circumspection.

So confessing the Word united hypostatically to flesh, we worship one Son and Lord Jesus Christ, neither putting apart and dividing man and God, as joined with each other by a union of dignity and authority--for this would be an empty phrase and no more--nor speaking of the Word of God separately as Christ, and then separately of him who was of a woman as another Christ, but knowing only one Christ, the Word of God the Father with his own flesh....Neither do we say that the Word of God tabernacled in him who was begotten of the holy Virgin as in an ordinary man--lest Christ should be thought of as a God-bearing man....

We do not divide the terms used in the Gospels of the Saviour as God or man between two hypostases, or persons, for the one and only Christ is not twofold....All the terms used in the Gospels are to be referred to one Person, the one incarnate hypostasis of the Word. There is one Lord Jesus Christ, according to the Scriptures....

Since the holy Virgin gave birth after the flesh to God who was united by hypostasis with flesh, therefore we say that she is theotokos....

("The Third Letter of Cyril to Nestorius," translated by Edward R. Hardy in Christology of the Later Fathers)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Ad Fontes Re: Theotokos

We've been learning (here and here) about who Christ is, in particular, in light of the Chalcedonian use of theotokos, "God-bearer," about Mary. Now it is time to go back to the sources.

Why did Nestorius oppose the term theotokos? He explains in a letter to Celestine of Rome.

We have found no slight corruption of orthodoxy among some of those here, which we have treated with both sternness and gentleness. It is no small error, but similar to the corruption of Apollinaris and Arius,blending together the Lord's appearance as man int o a kind of confused combination--so much so that certain of our clergy...err like heretics, and openly blaspheme God the Word consubstantial with the Father, as if he took his beginning from the Christ-bearing Virgin, and grew up with his temple and was buried with [it]in the flesh; they even say that his flesh after the resurrection did not remain flesh, but was changed into the nature of Godhead. To speak briefly, they refer to the Godhead of the Only-begotten to the same origin as the flesh joined [with it], and kill it with the flesh, and blasphemously say that the flesh joined with the Godhead was turned into deity by the deifying Word, which is nothing more nor less than to corrupt both. They even dare to treat of the Christ-bearing Virgin in a way as along with God, for they do not scruple to call her theotokos, when the holy and beyond-all-praise Fathers at Nicaea said no more of the holy Virgin than that our Lord Jesus Christ was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary--not to mention the Scriptures, which everywhere, both by angels and apostles, speak of the Virgin as mother of Christ, not of God the Word....

Many of those who had gone astray have by the grace of the Lord repented, learning from us that what is born is properly consubstantial with the parent, and that it was to the creature of the Lord's humanity, joined with God, of the Virgin by the Spirit, that what was seen among men was committed. If anyone wants to use this word theotokos with reference to the humanity which was born, joined to God the Word, and not with reference to the parent, we say that this word is not appropriate for her who gave birth, since a true mother should be of the same essence as what is born of her. But the term could be accepted in consideration of this, that the word is used of the Virgin only because of the inseparable temple of God the Word which was of her, not because she is the mother of God the Word--for none gives birth to one older than herself. (Translated by Edward R. Hardy in Christology of the Later Fathers)

You can plainly see that Nestorius' concern was to uphold and defend the orthodox doctrine of Christ. He fought against a real error, namely, deifying the flesh of Jesus. But in doing so he misconstrued the union of Christ's divine and human natures. According to Nestorius' reasoning, it was only Christ's humanity which was born of Mary, although this humanity was indeed "joined with" Christ's deity. By doing so, he created a fissure in Christ's person. In my next post on this topic, I'll put up Cyril of Alexandria's response to Nestorius.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Why?

I hope you have never lost the child-like wonder of that question because it is going to come in handy this Lord's Day. See you then!

Songs
All Creatures of Our God and King (#59)
I Sing the Mighty Power of God (#19)
This Is My Father's World (#61)
Psalm 1

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 1:28-54; Psalm 131
New Testament: Luke 18:1-17

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work series: The Blessing of Wisdom - Proverbs 3:13-20

God Gives Himself

Grace

is one of those truths that is a bit like silver--easily tarnished and covered with grime. When Christians talk of God giving us "grace," for example, we can quickly imagine that "grace" is some kind of spiritual pocket money he doles out. Even the old explanation that "grace" is "God's Riches At Christ's Expense" can make it sound like stuff that God gives you. But the word grace is really just a shorthand way of speaking about the personal and loving kindness out of which, ultimately, God gives himself.

Michael Reeves, Delighting in the Trinity

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Is Science or Scripture Top Dog?

Galileo thought it was science, according to E. A. Burtt (The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science), who described Galileo's view in this way:

"God knows infinitely more propositions than we, but yet in the case of those that we understand so thoroughly as to perceive the necessity of them, i.e., the demonstrations of pure mathematics, our understanding equals the divine in objective certainty."

Burtt went on to say,

"It was this religious basis of his philosophy that made Galileo bold to declare that doubtful passages of scripture should be interpreted in the light of scientific discovery rather than the reverse. God has made the world an immutable mathematical system, permitting by the mathematical method an absolute certainty of scientific knowledge. The disagreements of theologians about the meaning of scripture are ample testimony to the fact that here no such certainty is possible. Is it not obvious then which should determine the true meaning of the other?"

He quotes from Galileo's Letter to the Grand Duchess (1615):

"Methinks that in the discussion of natural problems, we ought not to begin at the authority of places of scripture, but at sensible experiments and necessary demonstrations. For, from the Divine Word, the sacred scripture and nature did both alike proceed....Nature, being inexorable and immutable, and never passing the bounds of the laws assigned her,...I conceive that, concerning natural effects, that which either sensible experience sets before our eyes, or necessary demonstrations do prove unto us, ought not, upon any account, to be called into question, much less condemned upon the testimony of texts of scripture, which may, under their words, couch senses seemingly contrary thereto....Nor does God less admirably discover himself to us in Nature's actions, than in the Scripture's sacred dictions."

The question at all times and places is "Who is our final authority?" Galileo, as many before him and many after him have done, turned in the wrong direction.

Friday, August 02, 2013

In All Your Ways Know Him

Just about three weeks ago, a teen from our neighborhood was shot with a .45...right in the hinder parts. The bullet entered one side of his body, traveled completely through to the other side, and then curved around his hip and came to rest in the front of his thigh. Amazingly, the bullet only damaged muscle and fatty tissue. No bones and no vital organs were touched, although the doctor solemnly warned him that he came within one centimeter of having a colostomy.

But the real tale to be told is how this dangerous event came to pass. Contrary to his mother's instructions, this young man sneaked out of his house in order to go to a party. A police officer stopped him and his friends as they were walking to the party, warning them that it was close to curfew. They lied to him, told him that they were on their way home, and promptly proceeded directly to the party. While there, with the liquor flowing freely, a gang of teens arrived outside the party house. Immediately an argument ensued, and some of the teens from the party ran inside talking about getting the guns. This scared the young man, and he tried to flee the scene with a friend. But as he left the house, the gang outside thought he was one of the group they were fighting with, and they opened fire. He escaped with his life - barely.

Proverbs 3:7-8 says, "Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your navel and drink to your bones."  Thinking he knew more than both his mother and the policeman nearly cost this young man his life.

But the point of the text we will consider this Lord's Day is bigger than, "Listen to your parents," although that is certainly part of it. It is ultimately pointing to a relationship with the Lord. What is the way to life, to real life and true joy?

Join us this Lord's Day as we resume our consideration of Proverbs 3:1-12 and see the blessings that flow from trusting, fearing, and honoring the Lord.

Songs
O Worship the King (#46)
Call Jehovah Thy Salvation (#499)
Be Still My Soul (#500)
Take My Life, and Let It Be (#560)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 1:1-27; Psalm 130
New Testament: Luke 17:20-37

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series: In All Your Ways Know Him - Proverbs 3:5-10

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Gain

"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Philippians 1:21

So grateful for the grace of Christ shining through the lives and testimonies of the folks from Colonial Hills Baptist Church.

You will be drawn to Christ if you take time to watch this video:

"Church talks about bus crash."

More on Theotokos

Following up on the information I posted here, the lecture below by Fred Sanders on "The One Person of Christ" is really good at explaining the significance of the term theotokos, "bearer of God."

Enjoy!


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Absolute Physics

In E. A. Burtt's judgment,

For Newton, then, science was composed of laws stating the mathematical behaviour of nature solely--laws clearly deducible from phenomena and exactly verifiable in phenomena--everything further is to be swept out of science, which thus becomes a body of absolutely certain truth about the doings of the physical world....Science is the exact mathematical formulation of the processes of the natural world. Speculation is at a discount, but motion has unconditionally surrendered to the conquering mind of man. (The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science, 226)

So which is it? Is physics a "god's eye" view of the world, or is it "subject to fashion and whim"? Here we have the difference between the project of modernity and the aftermath of its collapse.

"We are gods," said modernity.

But we found out we don't know so much as we thought.

"Ok," said post-modernity. "We are still gods, just capricious ones."

I, for one, am glad to repent of this non-sense and trust in the triune God of steadfast love and faithfulness.

Love from Beginning to End

"Nothing is of the nature of true virtue," Jonathan Edwards said, "in which God is not the first and the last."

Edwards' biographer George Marsden explains. "God is love and the source of all love. True love, true benevolence, is love that resonates with God's love and is in harmony with it. This conclusion, Edwards pointed out, is a necessary implication of 'the preceding discourse of God's End in Creating the World.' God's very being is 'love and friendship which subsists eternally and necessarily between the several persons of the Godhead.' The ultimate end or expression of creation is as an expression of that love. Intelligent beings are created with the very purpose to be united in love with the Godhead. And to be united in love with the Godhead means to love what God loves, or all being."

Jonathan Edwards: A Life (p. 467)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Theotokos

A couple weeks ago at our business meeting we had some good discussion about the Creed of Chalcedon (451), specifically regarding its statement that Jesus "was born of the virgin Mary, the mother of God, according to the manhood." I'd like to give a little more information here on the blog, starting with a statement from Philip Schaff, the eminent 19th century church historian.

In his work The Creeds of Christendom, Schaff had this to say about this description of Mary as theotokos. First, he explained the original intent of the term.

"The predicate θεοτόκος , the Bringer-forth of God,...is directed against Nestorius, and was meant originally not so much to exalt the Virgin Mary, as to assert the true divinity of Christ and the realness of the Incarnation."

Next, he noted how the term is used in context.


"It is immediately after qualified by the phrase κατὰ τὴν ἀνθρωπότητα ( secundum humanitatem ), in distinction from κατὰ τὴν θεότητα ( secundum deitatem ). This is a very important limitation, and necessary to guard against Mariolatry, and the heathenish, blasphemous, and contradictory notion that the uncreated, eternal God can be born in time.

Third, he explained the importance of the assertion that Mary was the bearer of God. This is really the heart of the matter, so I have put it in bold.

"Mary was the mother not merely of the human nature of Jesus of Nazareth, but of the theanthropic person of Jesus Christ; yet not of his eternal Godhead (the λόγος ἄσαρκος ), but of his incarnate person, or the Logos united to humanity (the λόγος ἔνσαρκος )." 

Schaff illustrates this by looking at Christ's crucifixion.
 
"In like manner, the subject of the Passion was the theanthropic person; yet not according to his divine nature, which in itself is incapable of suffering, but according to his human nature, which was the organ of suffering. 

Last, given the history of the church since the time of Chalcedon, Schaff gives a warning."There is no doubt," he says, that terms like this "have greatly promoted Mariolatry."

(This work is available online here.)

To sum up, the question  behind the term theotokos is, "Who did Mary give birth to?" The answer is that she gave birth to the God-man Jesus Christ. She did not give birth to merely a human nature, for Jesus Christ is one person "to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably."

A Father's Delight

When a father delights in his son, he trains his son to enjoy what is truly good in life. He trains him to enjoy a relationship with the Lord. This Lord's Day, we will see what that training looks like, and the blessings it brings.

Songs
God Himself Is Present
How Firm a Foundation (#610)
Trust and Obey (#525)
Psalm 23b

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Leviticus 27:16-34; Psalm 129
New Testament: Luke 17:1-29

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series: A Father's Delight - Proverbs 3:1-12

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Smooth

In F. Scott Fitzgerald's intriguing novel, The Great Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan has one absolutely bewitching attribute - her voice. The narrator Nick Carraway, upon being re-introduced to his cousin, picks up on it immediately.

Daisy made an attempt to rise...then she laughed, an absurd charming little laugh, and I laughed too and came into the room.

He can't stop talking about her voice.

She laughed again, as if she had said something very witty, and held my hand for a moment, looking up into my face, promising that there was no one in the world she so much wanted to see. That was a way she had. She hinted in a murmur that the surname of the balancing girl was Baker. (I've heard it said that Daisy's murmur was only to make people lean towards her; an irrelevant criticism that made it no less charming.)

In fact, he has to stop and dwell upon that arresting sound. 

I looked back at my cousin, who began to ask me questions in her low, thrilling voice. It was the kind of voice that the ear follows up and down, as if each speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again. Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth, but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget; a singing compulsion, a whispered 'Listen', a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour.

As it turns out, Daisy is a silly and superficial woman who cannot love men but only things. Nick himself concludes in the end, "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy--they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made."

Fitzgerald captured as well as anyone I know the mysterious power of the "smooth tongue" of women whom the wise father instructs his son to avoid like the plague (Prov 2:16; 6:24). The smooth tongue charms; it thrills; it intoxicates; it calms. It surreptitiously promises the world, but all that it delivers is death. The tongue of the excellent wife is full of wisdom and kindness (Prov 31:26), but there is no deceit or vanity to be found there (Prov 31:30). One of the great skills of life is to learn the difference between a voice that is beautiful and a voice that is dangerously smooth.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fashionable Physics

There is a popular misconception that science is an impersonal, dispassionate, and thoroughly objective enterprise. Whereas most other human activities are dominated by fashions, fads, and personalities, science is supposed to be constrained by agreed rules of procedure and rigorous tests. It is the results that count, not the people who produce them.

This is, of course, manifest nonsense. Science is a people-driven activity like all human endeavor, and just as subject to fashion and whim. In this case fashion is set not so much by choice of subject matter, but by the way scientists think about the world....

Paul Davies, Introduction to Six Easy Pieces by Richard P. Feynman

All the more reason to look to the One Who Is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Living Treasure

God is the treasure of our souls, and the pursuit of wisdom leads us to him. Christ is our life, and wisdom keeps us on the path of life. So what will the path look like? What are the blessings of this way of life?

We'll continue our exploration of Proverbs 2 together this coming Lord's Day.

Songs
God Himself Is Present
My Soul, Be on Thy Guard (#595)
He Who Would Valiant Be (#507)
Psalm 103b

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Leviticus 27:1-15; Psalm 128
New Testament: Luke 16:14-31

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series: Living in the Greatest Treasure - Proverbs 2:5-22

Friday, July 12, 2013

Real Treasure

High Country Baptist Church exists to glorify and enjoy God by knowing him and making him known. This Lord's Day we will discover what it takes to find that rare treasure. Join us!

Songs
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
Give Ear unto God's Holy Word (#729)
O Lord, Behold Us at Thy Feet (#730)
Be Thou My Vision (#462)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Leviticus 26:23-46; Psalm 127
New Testament: Luke 16:1-13

Sermon
 Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series: Finding the Greatest Treasure - Proverbs 2

Friday, July 05, 2013

Lady Liberty's Mother

While many focus on Lady Liberty this weekend, we will meet to hear the voice of a different lady, Lady Wisdom. Her counsel and reproof is available for all to hear, and without her, there will be no liberty. Join us this Lord's Day to hear the voice of wisdom.

Songs
O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing (#69)
Come, Ye that Fear the Lord
Psalm 33
Be Thou My Vision (#462)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Leviticus 26:1-22; Psalm 126
New Testament: Luke 15:11-32

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series: Wisdom Cries - Proverbs 1:20-33

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Grateful for America

"America, America, God shed his grace on thee...."

That's my prayer for the U.S.A. on this Independence Day. Although I am often critical of this nation, it is not a criticism born of indifference or hatred. This is my homeland, the land where my fathers died, and God alone knows all the blessings that have come to me because, in his providence, I am an American. I am a Christian first, and an American later, but after all I remain an American. I am a citizen of heaven first and only secondarily a citizen of America, but I am still an American. Today I want to express my gratitude to God for America.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Bearing Witness against America

I never tire of saying that we live in a fundamentally pagan culture. Until we get that through our heads, we will not bear witness rightly.

In light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Windsor, Peter Leithart has some wise words.

We’ve fooled ourselves for decades into believing that Christian America was derailed recently and by a small elite. It’s tough medicine to realize that principles inimical to traditional Christian morals are now deeply embedded in our laws, institutions and culture. The only America that actually exists is one in which “marriage” includes same-sex couples and women have a Constitutional right to kill their babies. To be faithful, Christian witness must be witness against America. 

God has his winnowing fork in his hand, and he’s ready to use it. There’s likely to be a lot of chaff, blown away like mist. But there will be a harvest. We’re being sent into an oven, but Jesus will crush the grain of the harvest so that, baked in the fire of the Spirit, it will become bread for the life of the world. 

Cause for despair? Certainly not. Cause for repentance and sobriety? Certainly.

Back in 1978, George Grant wrote in a letter,

It seems to me that Western Christianity is now going to go through a great purging of its authority because it was in the civilization where it was dominant that the worst form of secularity has arisen and is likely to become worldwide. Both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism are going to pay terrible prices...for the ultimate relation they maintained with that progressive materialism.

 But having recognized the awful truth and repented of our complicity with Americanism, the next step is not to take out our flame-throwers and start praying for God to damn America. It is rather to engage America in love, like our Lord Jesus Christ. This is our mission field, and if we love our neighbors, we cannot help but seek their eternal good. 

A crucial step in doing that is recovering the church as the pillar and buttress of the truth and the centerpiece of Christian identity in the world. Pray that as God purifies his church, she will once again become a vibrant witness to her glorious Savior.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Love Your Enemies

Love your enemies in such a way that you wish them to be brothers; love your enemies in such a way that they are brought into your fellowship.

Augustine, First Homily on the First Epistle of John

Friday, June 28, 2013

Wisdom Isn't Gained in an Hour

Some preacher I know is so long winded that he couldn't finish his text last Lord's Day. But that's ok. Wisdom isn't gained in an hour.

This Lord's Day we will continue our study of Proverbs 1:8-19, considering how to avoid the path of those who are greedy for unjust gain.

Songs
Rejoice, the Lord Is King (#13)
Come, Children, Learn to Fear the Lord
Psalm 1
May the Mind of Christ My Savior (#476)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Leviticus 25:25-55; Psalm 125
New Testament: Luke 15:1-10

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series: Hear, My Son - Proverbs 1:8-19

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Horse Sense

Proverbs is full of punchy truth. Cowboys were too, although they sure weren't inspired!

Enjoy these good cowboy sayings that are true to what Proverbs says about fools.

Some folks got no more conscience than a cow in a stampede.

Every jackass thinks he's got horse sense.
 
Some men talk 'cause they got somethin' to say. Others talk 'cause they got to say somethin'.

You can educate a fool, but you can't make him think.

A man who tells you he's no fool has his suspicions.

The man who knows the least repeats it the most.

Food for thought gives some folks indigestion.  

And one of my favorites:

Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction.

(From Savvy Sayin's)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Who Are You Going to Listen To? Who Are You Going to Walk With?

There are lots of voices clamoring for your attention--some with good intention, and some with evil. Because of that, the opening discourse in the book of Proverbs has some timely words for you. Thousands of years after those words were written, we still need to see how God's wisdom given through parents results in honor and beauty, protecting us from the ways of death. As you read the text in preparation for our service, ask yourself, "What does it look like to walk with bad people in the digital age? What does it mean to participate with people who use others for their own gain in 21st century America?" I invite you to join us as we seek the wisdom to work out our worship into all of life.

Songs
Psalm 95
Come, Ye that Fear the Lord
Come, Children, Learn to Fear the Lord
How Good Is the God We Adore (#738)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Leviticus 25:1-23; Psalm 124
New Testament: Luke 14:25-35

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series: Hear, My Son - Proverbs 1:8-19

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Day Late...

Yes, I'm a day late and a dollar short, but here is something to help you prepare to give God our all tomorrow. We are certainly rejoicing in his protection of our brothers and sisters from the fire this week!

Songs
Come, Ye that Fear the Lord
I Sing the Mighty Power of God (#19)
All Creatures of Our God and King (#59)
All Things Bright and Beautiful (#723)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Leviticus 24:1-23; Psalm 123
New Testament: Luke 14:12-24

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series: Fools Despise Wisdom - Proverbs 1:7

Friday, June 07, 2013

Worship Leads the Way

Who we worship and how we worship will direct our entire culture. Our worship will regulate our lives in relation to alcohol, anger, authority, business, benevolence, children, conflicts, discipline, friendship, future plans, health, hard work, laziness, lying, marriage, manners, money, parents, prayer, pride, priorities, serving, speaking, and work, to name a few aspects of life that we all experience.

All of these aspects I just listed are discussed in the book of Proverbs, where we find the wisdom to work out our worship into all of life. Proverbs takes the worship of the one true God and puts it on the kitchen table. There is no escaping its call to walk in the way of life. And it all starts with...

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.

We will press on to know the Lord together this Lord's Day as we transition from Leviticus to Proverbs in our series of sermons "Worship, Wisdom, and Work." See you there.

Songs
Come, Ye that Fear the Lord
O Lord, Behold Us at Thy Feet (#730)
Give Ear unto God's Holy Word (#729)
Psalm 148a

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Leviticus 23:23-44; Psalm 122
New Testament: Luke 14:1-11

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series: Worship Leads to Wisdom in our Work - Proverbs 1:1-7

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

A Hole in Our Hymnody?

I will be preaching from the book of Proverbs shortly, so I went looking for hymns that sing of the fear of the Lord. Strangely, I did not find many that deal explicitly with this biblical truth. There are many hymns that touch on aspects of the fear of the Lord, to be sure, since such a deep truth cannot help but connect to so many facets of Christian existence. But I did not find many that meditate directly upon the fear of the Lord. If the fear of the Lord is truly "the soul of godliness," as it has been called, then why do we not dwell upon it in song? Surely the Psalms set a good pattern for us here, as they regularly bring up the fear of the Lord.

Does anyone have some good suggestions for hymns that sing of the fear of the Lord?

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Presence and Pleasure of God

And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.

YHWH

Do you want that? If you want to know the presence and pleasure of the Lord, join us this Lord's Day for worship, as we press further in our quest to know the Lord and make him known.

Songs
God Himself Is Present
Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness (#400)
A Debtor to Mercy Alone (#614)
Amazing Grace (#247)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Leviticus 23:1-22; Psalm 121
New Testament: Luke 13:21-35

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series: Keeping Covenant and Our Worship - Leviticus 26

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Inviting Judgment

Inviting God's judgment is not a hobby for the faint of heart. But we can't avoid it if we want to see the Lord's salvation. Joe Rigney points out the right questions to ask in the culture wars.

Having done that, we should then begin to alter the sorts of questions that dominate our discussions of what it means to faithfully proclaim the truth. Instead of mainly asking, “How can we speak and live so that the world will listen?”, what if we asked “How can we speak and live so that God will act?” Instead of worrying about being counted worthy of respect in the eyes of the world, what if we labored to be men of whom the world is not worthy, living in such a way that God is not ashamed to be called our God? Instead of mainly pondering how to persuade a godless and passions-enslaved people that sex belongs in monogamous marriage and only monogamous marriage, what if we labored to faithfully and forthrightly declare the word of God concerning his design for sexuality: that marriage is one man, one woman, one lifetime, to display the riches and glory of Christ and his church, until the Great Day that we join in the Wedding Supper of the Lamb?

Read his whole post, "Turning Babel into a Beast."

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Quest of Love

We were created to dream the impossible dream. We are finite creatures created for Infinity. We were made for the knowledge of The Holy One. We were made to know Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which is eternal life.

This all-consuming love for God has one crucial correlate - we must love our neighbor as ourselves. There is no real love for God which does not entail love for the real people around us.

Perhaps the apostle Paul was meditating upon our text for this coming Lord's Day when the Spirit moved him to pen the words of Romans 13:8-10: "The one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments...are summed up in this word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."

Join us this Lord's Day to see how you can practically pursue the love of God by loving your neighbor.

Songs
Psalm 84
We Gather Together (#709)
Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild (#714)
There Is a Happy Land (#722)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Leviticus 22:17-33; Psalm 133
New Testament: Luke 13:10-20

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series: Neighbor Love and Our Worship - Leviticus 19

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Pure Love and Our Worship

In Leviticus 18 and 20, the Lord outlawed specific kinds of sexual relations.

Sexual relations...rather a hot topic in our current cultural climate, isn't it? But these texts do nothing to stimulate prurient interest in wickedness. To the pornographic mind, these texts are more like a club over the head than anything else.

At the same time, however, to read these chapters as primarily about prohibiting certain forms of sexual relations is to completely miss what they are driving at. At their heart, these texts are about holy love for the Lord and for our neighbor. Flowing from that holy love is a deep abhorrence for anything which would destroy the life of our neighbor in relationship with the Lord.

At the heart of holiness is love. Loving life means hating that which destroys life. Join us this Lord's Day to learn how to show pure love.

Songs
O Father, Thou Whose Love Profound (#29)
Doxology
Jesus Loves Me (#719)
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (#137)
Let Us Love (#483)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Leviticus 22:1-16; Psalm 50
New Testament: Luke 13:1-9

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series: Pure Love and Our Worship - Leviticus 18, 20 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Good Reading

Earlier today I pointed you toward a book giveaway, and now I'd like to draw your attention to a couple book recommendations I've posted on the Religious Affections Ministry website. You can find them here.

As always, check RAM's content regularly. In Scott, Kevin, Ryan, and David, you will find some the most thoughtful, gracious, and articulate proponents of conservative worship on the web today.

Book Giveaway

My sister-in-law Amanda is an up-and-coming writer, and right now Money Saving Mom is hosting a 48-hour giveaway of her first book, The Pursuit of Elizabeth Millhouse. Head on over there and enter to win! If you don't win a free copy, you can always purchase one at Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, etc. It is available in a Kindle edition, too.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Eating Blood

That surely sounds like a scandalous topic for a sermon. But if Moses and Jesus preached about it, I think we ought to as well. In fact, to a curious soul, it is an irresistible invitation to investigate the meaning. Why did God strictly forbid eating blood? But then, why did Jesus tell people to eat his blood? And of all things, what would this have to do with dwelling in the presence of the holy Lord? The world is stranger than we thought, but it is also more full of wonder.

Join us this Lord's Day to sup with God.

Songs
Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing (#243)
Doxology
Nothing But the Blood (#240)
To Calvary, Lord, in Spirit Now (#235)
Amazing Grace (#247)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Leviticus 21:1-24; Psalm 3
New Testament: Luke 12:49-59

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series: Eating Blood and Our Worship - Leviticus 17

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

A Reminder

In our current sermon series we have mined a shaft pretty deep into the old covenant laws. When you get that deep in the mountain, there is gold to be found, but it is also easy to forget what the point of all this mining is. So today I'd like to summarize a bit from an early sermon in this series to help us keep it all in perspective.

Jesus' Work and Our Worship


The centerpiece of God’s presence in the world today is found in the church, and our gathered worship is the pinnacle of his presence. The preaching of the Word is more potent than Congress, for God is present and speaking when his word is proclaimed. The songs you sing are more primary than the vote you cast for president. The proper worship of God is much more significant to our health and social well-being than gun control laws or fiscal cliff deals. In short, worship drives culture. Worship directs our work. We need the wisdom to work out our worship into all of life, so that we consistently proclaim Jesus as Lord. We want to make the true God inescapable in our own lives and the lives of those around us. We want men to know that he is the Lord. That is our goal for this series of studies from the Scripture. We want to gather new insights from the Word of God about how to worship God aright, drive that deep into our hearts, and then work it out of our feet and our fingertips. 

Our plan in this series of sermons is to learn from old covenant worship about how we ought to worship in the new covenant. Of course, in order to do this, we need to pay careful attention to the work that Jesus has done. As always, the good news of Jesus is central to our worship and our work. So, we are going to start with the epistle to the Hebrews in the NT, then we are going to go back to the book of Leviticus to give a fully biblical structure to our worship. Once that is done, I believe we will be better prepared to wisely live according to our new covenant relationship with God in our present day. We will study some of this on a very practical level from the book of Proverbs. 

We are like pioneers, clearing ‘new’ ground in order to become productive for the Lord. We want to build a culture of faithfulness, making the church the city of God that it is designed to be, calling the city of man to repent and trust in Jesus as Lord. 

We are going to walk briskly through the central section of Hebrews, and we will see that Jesus’ work transforms our lives into lives of true worship because   
Jesus is a superior priest (4:14-7:28).
Jesus is a superior priest of a superior covenant (8:1-9:28).
Jesus is a superior priest of a superior covenant who offers a superior sacrifice (9:1-10:18).
 
And so what we see as we round out the book Hebrews is that through Jesus we enjoy living in the presence of God (10:19-25; 12:18-29; 13:7-16). Jesus’ work sets the entire context for our worship, and his work is the reason we work on our worship.Without Jesus’ work, our worship is worthless. We may strive to get the details ever so right, but it cannot bring us to God. But at the same time, precisely because Jesus has worked, we can and must worship God acceptably. We must press into knowing him and making him known, responding to him gloriously as he reveals himself powerfully in our midst. Because he is our great high priest, mediating the new covenant, having offered the perfect sacrifice for sins, we are enabled to participate with him in the life of God.


You might be thinking, “Does it really matter all that much how we worship? Why do we keep working on it?” If we see it only as ‘getting it right,’ then working on how we worship isn’t all that much benefit to us nor is it a blessing to God. That is, if we see it in legalistic terms, then we might as well just forget about it and go with the flow of the culture. But if we see it rightly as pressing into full participation with Christ by his Spirit, then it will be a fountainhead of glory to God. It will lead to cultural and personal renewal, for Jesus will be exalted as the saving Lord as we worship him in spirit and truth. Jesus’ work transforms our lives into lives of true worship.