Friday, February 28, 2014

Being Fitted Together

Paul uses this phrase of “being fitted together” and the process he is referring to is the same process which the Puritans referred to as “improving on your baptism.”  Having been identified with Christ and baptized into His body, He is now in the process of fitting you – fitting you for Himself and fitting you for one another – fitting you into the perfect holy temple in which He dwells.

It might be said that God is easily pleased with us, like a loving Father, but He is never satisfied with us – and so His ongoing work in us will always continue.  This fitting together, this work upon us – and therefore this time at the Table of our Lord – is all declaring that we are closer and closer to heaven.  The fact of the matter is that everyone is either being fitted for heaven or, in our rebellion, are insisting on being unfitted for it.

Either way, we are on a journey of what we are becoming – and that becoming is the work of God in us.  Welcome to the Table of the Lord where by faith you may enjoy being fitted more and more – for Him – and for your pleasure and satisfaction in Him – both for another week – and forever.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Discerning the Body

As we come to the Table on this Ascension Sunday, remember that Jesus rules as Lord and King over all.  Remember that He is the Good Shepherd and He loves His sheep – even the ones you might be having trouble with these days.  Being one with Christ means that we are also one together in Christ.

And this is what is meant by discerning the Lord’s body.  It is not a command to be able to rightly answer theological questions about the elements of the bread and wine.  In context in the book of Corinthians, Paul is admonishing, no, spanking, the Corinthians for eating in a way that is antithetical to what the Lord’s supper declares.

Do not come here with a hypocritical spirit – I love Jesus, but I hate some whom Jesus loves.  I love God but I hate my brother.  This will not be a good place for you to be.  Remember, we have been made one in Christ.  You cannot declare your oneness with Christ without declaring your oneness with all that are Christ’s.  As you come, you are declaring both.  Do so in faith and humility – Amen.

Sui Generis

"As a whole, the Bible is not an example of any genre of literature.  It is sui generis." - Frame, ST, p55.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Saved and Being Saved

Ephesians says, “by grace you have been saved” and that verb, saved, is a perfect participle, emphasizing the abiding consequences of God’s saving action in the past, as if Paul should say, “you are people who have been saved and remain forever saved.”

We come to the Table to partake of Jesus’ body and blood, not because we need to be saved again – that’s been done and complete – declared in your baptism.  We come because we have been saved to be continued to be saved – or to continue to experience our salvation, to be renewed in that salvation – to spread that salvation out into all the corners of our life – now – and this week – and for all eternity with Jesus.

Systematic and Biblical Theology

In his introduction to Part 2 of his Systematic Theology, Frame notes that while biblical theology looks at Scripture as a story or narrative, and systematic theology explores concepts such as the attributes of God and the hypostatic union of Jesus' two natures, the division between the two is somewhat artificial.  He argues that there is no reason why a systematic theology should not explore traditional biblical theological concepts and there is no reason why a biblical theology should not consider a systematic theology since, for instance, "the narrative presupposes a system of truth including these concepts." 

Amen.  Quit fighting you two.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Father and Mother at the Table

It is here, at the Table, where Your Heavenly Father provides a heavenly meal.  The Father provides His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is presented to us to be received by faith as we partake of the appointed elements of bread and wine.

In addition, we understand that these memorials are to be received here, in the church – and Paul instructs us in Galatians that the church is our spiritual mother. 

And so, here at the Table, we receive a meal that the Father has provided and that our Mother has prepared to give to us – and all in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.  Come and welcome to the family of God.  Come and welcome to Jesus Christ.

Food Weirdness

Hebrews 13:9 (NKJV)

9 Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.

Sometimes you just run across verses you think you've never read before.  In my NT readings this morning I ran across this verse and thought about all the weird diet fads that people are into these days.  Nothing wrong with a diet or eating "right" (whatever that means).  But here is the answer for what makes the heart healthy:  Grace.  Foods do not profit those who have been occupied with them.

Occupied, in the Greek, is parapateo, and means "to regulate one's life" or "to conduct oneself."  That's it.  Don't regulate your life or conduct yourself with foods.  Regulate your life and conduct yourself, busy yourself, with grace.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Planting New Worship Centers

As Abraham entered into the promised land of Canaan, the first thing he did as he went from place to place was to build altars to Yahweh.  These were the first worship centers – the public meeting places of the worshippers of the God Who declared that this Land was His and for His people.

As the Gospel has gone out all over the earth, one of the first things that faithful ministers and missionaries have done is to imitate Abraham – to build centers of worship – public meeting places that establish and declare the center of a new Humanity, a new way of living, the hub of Good News to all people.  We have followed along with that in the church plant of Emmanuel on the north shore of Lake Washington and we are helping to support a similar work in the north part of Poland, in Gdansk, with the work of Pastor Pawel Bartosik.

And all of this follows along and out of what we are doing right here in the beginning of our New Week.  For this is the First Day of the New Week.  And as we gather on this Lord’s Day we establish another public place of worship on the timeline.  We are declaring for this coming week Who owns the week ahead, Who owns the work that is before us, Who is King of kings and Lord of lords over all the houses of government in all of the decisions that will be made, and Who is Lord of every man, woman and child in and through every activity that will take place in the coming week.

We are declaring an absolute Lordship – the absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ.  We are declaring and celebrating the Good News that the world has been saved, that a New King rules from the right hand of His Father, and that grace and mercy, forgiveness and life are to be proclaimed to all creatures.  We are here at the summons of this King to have our covenant renewed before Him, renewing our vows, yet, but also His vows and promises to us – to you – each one of you Who would hear His voice.  Jesus Christ has called you to Himself.  Come and worship our God.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Elements of Death and Life

These elements, the Bread and the Wine, are declared by our Lord to be His body broken for us and His blood shed.  They are the tokens of His death on our behalf.  There was no other way to save us.  Hear that again – there was no other way to save you.

These elements, the Bread and the Wine, are declared by our Lord to be His body to be eaten, and the cup of the new covenant to be shared.  They are the tokens of His life, His resurrection life, and the fellowship of the Triune God with the new Humanity, the new way, the new creation, with joy, with love, with mercy, with peace.  This was the only way to bring us to such a life – and He did.  Hear that again – there was no other way to bring you such a life, and He did – for you.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Table of Death to Life

The Table of our Resurrected Lord was given to the disciples on the night He was betrayed – on the day before He was crucified – before His death.  God invites us to be joined with Christ in His death and His resurrection – and we are reminded of both at this Table.

His body broken and His blood shed – these are tokens of condemnation, of sorrow, of guilt and shame.  Why then would we want to take them – why would we want to partake of them?  We do so because the only way to participate in the resurrection life of Jesus is to participate in the death of Jesus.  Jesus is not dying here again, but we proclaim His death here again, that we might continue our ongoing life in Him because of His once-for–all death.

Death to life – humility to exaltation – Good Friday to Easter – your old life without Christ to your new life in Christ – and welcome to Jesus our Savior.

Theology Through Gospel Pictures

God teaches theology, not so much through systematic theologies, but through stories.  His stories teach us that we are to preach His gospel, allow no area of unbelief to rule in the culture, bringing every king and every thought captive to Christ.  And we are taught that victory has nothing to do with the size of the enemy, but rather with our faith in His promises.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

When Did This Happen?

It is amazing to remember that the institution of the Lord’s Supper occurred in this week of Jesus’ life.  The days of His passion.  In fact, it occurred on the very night of His betrayal and just prior to His crucifixion.

With love towards His disciples and with the cross before Him because of His disciples and the rest of us sinners, He gathered them together and sat down and had the Passover meal.  The Passover itself proclaimed the mercy of God – that a lamb would be sacrificed to pay for the sins of those who then would partake of that sacrifice.  It was all pointing to this week – it was all pointing to Jesus and the perfect sacrifice He was about to make.

And yet, as Luke records, Jesus said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”

As we partake of Christ at this memorial, we are being united to the One Who fervently desired to die for us that we would die in our sin with Him – and that, united in that death, would be raised with Him to the new life that we now enjoy and will grow up into – from now until the day of Jesus Christ.

Adoption, Sons, and Fathers

(Comments on Ephesians 1:5-6 from sermon notes) - 
Of course, first of all, we have to be recipients of this grace and peace.  And we are, but not simply judicially (“you are declared righteous”) or financially (“your debts are forgiven, your account has been imputed with righteousness”) but primarily interpersonally.  The plan was to adopt us as sons to our heavenly Father.  First, note that both men and women are adopted as “sons,” meaning with the same inheritance rights (v11, 14, Gal 3:26-29).  Second, human adoptions are only a shadow of this real adoption where we are actually given the Spirit of the Father.  Third and similarly, in a world of fatherlessness, we may be tempted to overlook the immeasurable blessing of having a heavenly Father.  Human fathers and human adoptions are like the moon to the sun.  If you only could see during the night and the moon was your defining experience of illumination, imagine your surprise when one day you saw a noon-day sun.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Table of Power

We do not come to the Table in order to receive that which we have not yet received.  We come to the Table in order to have opened for us, broken and poured out for us, that which we have received.  This is a place, a central place, where the prayer that Paul is praying is answered.  Here, wisdom and knowledge is given to us.  Or possibly more true than that, here Wisdom and Knowledge gives us Christ, the power of His resurrection, which is at the very same time already resident in us.

Here, we are made full.  And here, we are made the fullness of Christ who fills all in all.  Here, we declare and manifest to ourselves, to one another and to the world – we are the new Humanity, we are the new Creation, we are the ones bound in union and communion with the Triune God.  And He has come, He has sent us, He is sending us, to fill the world by His Word and Spirit.  Come and welcome to Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords.

Transcendence and Immanence

Frame (ST, pp41-42) chooses several texts of Scripture to show both God's transcendence (up there) and immanence (down here) - 

Deuteronomy 4:39 (NKJV)

39 Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the Lord Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.

Deuteronomy 10:14–15 (ESV)
14 Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. 15 Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day.

Joshua 2:11b (NKJV)
11 ..., for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.

Isaiah 57:15 (NKJV)
15 For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

Ephesians 4:4–6 (NKJV)
4 There is ... one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Clearly, the point is that we enjoy a God who is both sovereignly over and separate (transcendent) from His creation, and at the same time, covenantally and personally bound (immanent) to and in His people.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Let Them Come with Questions

Just like us, our baptized children should come to this Table.  The Lord loved to take the little children up into His arms and bless them, and He loves for them to come here to His Table and be blessed by Him as well.  Just as He wants them to come to Him through the Word, so He wants them to come to Him through His other means of grace, this Table being one of them.

One of the arguments used to keep covenant children from the Table is that they can’t understand the meaning of the Table.  But neither can they understand much of the Word at such a young age, and yet we all are in agreement that we are to read it to them and talk to them about it.  We are to expect and welcome questions from them about the meaning of the Word.  But don’t you see, it’s the same here at the Table.  They should come – and of course they should come with questions.  And as they come – or later today – or in your devotions this week – you should talk about their questions and find answers.

But now – are you in Jesus Christ?  Have you been baptized?  Then come and welcome to Jesus, to His Table, and to His discipleship program.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Has the World Been Saved?

Has the world been saved?  Are we living in the New Creation?  Has Jesus obtained His Lordship over all of heaven and earth now?  Is He Lord here and now?  Is this His kingdom?  Now?  These questions come to us as we look at the world of unbelief and rebellion around us.  These questions come as trial after trial, suffering after suffering, struggle after struggle befall us.  As Christians, are we simply to buckle down and ride the wave of the destruction of this world until Christ comes?  Or has He called us to believe and live something else?

What is it that overcomes this world?  Is there anything?  Look at the headlines, watch the new wicked legislation passed, the ungodly rulers in our midst, the hypocrisies in church after church, the liberalism and socialism inherent in denominations today.  What overcomes this?

What overcomes the world?  John tells us in His epistle that whatever is born of God overcomes the world.  And then he says, “And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.”  It is by faith and faith alone that we can believe that the worlds were created by the Word, and only by the Word of God.  And it is only by faith that we can believe that those worlds have been redeemed, remade, renewed, re-created by the same Word – the Word Who was made flesh, Who came and died for the sins of the world, the One who came to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Of course you cannot see it.  But here is the question – is Jesus’ work done?  Is it finished?  What did He declare on the cross?  We do not come to worship only when we can see these things any more than Jesus waited to say “It is finished” only after the final consummation.  In principle, this sorry world, this sorry planet – and its inhabitants – are saved.  It is finished.  All of them should just come quietly and stop their yapping.  And we should come and worship with that kind of whiskey-gospel mentality, declaring things to be which cannot be seen as if they could be – until they might be asking if we took a few sips too many before morning service.  We didn’t.  It’s the nature of faith.  It’s the nature of grace.  It’s the good news of Jesus.

Tripersonal God

God's Trinitarian existence, Frame states, means that his attributes are interpersonal and not simply personal (Frame, ST, p39).  Our God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is Three Persons.    The personal part of personhood is not lost in the cosmos in some kind of thesis of God, some kind of idea that He has.  It is also not non-existent before God created anything with which He could have a personal relationship. This is very important.  God was not without an object to love, to praise, to give glory to, to communicate with, to indwell in eternity past.  He has always loved because the Father has always perfectly loved the Son and the Son the Father.  And so, to come to Christ, to be reconciled to God, is to come to personhood - to become a real interpersonal, relational person - finally and really.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

One of the Reasons We are Busy is that We are Supposed to Be

DeYoung finishes his little book with some wonderful balance about busyness - 

"The reason we are busy is because we are supposed to be busy...One of the reasons we struggle so mightily with busyness is because we do not expect to struggle...We simply don't think of our busyness as even a possible part of our cross to bear.  But what if mothering small children isn't supposed to be easy?  What if pastoring a congregation is supposed to be challenging?  What if being a friend, or just being a Christian, is supposed to mean a lot of time-consuming, burden-bearing, gloriously busy, and wildly inefficient work?..." - Crazy Busy, DeYoung, pp101, 103.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Sleep Deprived

"We regale each other with stories of great saints who got up at four or five o'clock in the morning to pray, forgetting that in the days before electricity most people went to bed soon after dark and woke up earlier in the morning.  Most of our heroes from bygone ages probably slept much more than we do.  Very few of us can survive, let alone thrive, on four or five hours a night.
By all accounts, we are sleeping less than ever before.  The average American gets two and a half fewer hours of sleep per night than a century ago.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 40 million Americans get fewer than six hours of sleep per night." - Crazy Busy, DeYoung, p95

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Strange Desire to Be Busy

"Peter Kreeft is right:  "We want to complexify our lives.  We don't have to, we want to.  We want to be harried and hassled and busy.  Unconsciously, we want the very things we complain about.  For if we had leisure, we would look at ourselves and listen to our hearts, and see the great gaping hole in our hearts and be terrified, because that hole is so big that nothing but God can fill it."" - quoted in Crazy Busy, DeYoung, p83

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Your Kids When You Are Stressed

"...One key question asked the kids what one thing they would change about the way their parents' work was affecting them. The results were striking.  The kids rarely wished for more time with their parents, but, much to the parents' surprise, they wished their parents were less tired and less stressed...The biggest weakness, according to the kids, was anger management." - DeYoung, Crazy Busy, p70.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Work of the Holy Spirit in Communion

Without the Work of the Holy Spirit at this Table, this becomes an empty ritual.  But because of the sealing of the Holy Spirit, because of His presence in you as you approach the Table, you will come and not only partake of bread and wine, but by the Holy Spirit, you will partake of the body and blood of Jesus.  His life is given to you because His life was given for you.

The means of appropriating this gift is faith.  You do not come to this table based upon your own merit – and you do not come to this table based upon fate.  Faith, the gift of God by His Holy Spirit, turned you to the Father, opens your eyes to the Father, and shows you all that the Father has provided for you in His Son, Jesus.  So come to this Table, prepared for you by the Father, come drawn by the Spirit, and through Him, find union and communion with Your Lord, Jesus Christ.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Where Do You Learn Such Grace?

Where do you go to see good being returned for evil?  Where do you go to receive grace in order that you might be able to bless those who persecute you, to forgive those who sin against you, or to give your life away for those who despise you?  Who knowingly blessed those who would betray Him, knowing God would bless such sacrifice efficaciously?

Where do you go to see this work itself out – where God is truly glorified and where good comes out of and from such suffering?  Who was ever smitten and afflicted so much while loving the world around Him?  Who gladly turned the other cheek?  Who could ever change you from the inside out so that you lived in such a way?  Where could you go to become a man or a woman who did so and did so gladly, from the heart?

All who are baptized are welcome to come here – to listen – and to receive.

Reminding God

At this Memorial Table, we partake of the once for all sacrifice that was given to us in Christ.  Just as God gave Noah the Rainbow as a promise that He would never again flood the world, so He gave the church the Reminders of His Grace – the bread and the wine – and this ritual of taking, thanking, breaking, distributing, and partaking – to be a memorial before Him of a Promise He would never break.

And that promise?  What has He promised those who are in Christ?  He has promised us that all of our sins, all of our trespasses – are covered by the blood, completely paid for in the broken body – in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  None.  We are commanded to come here and partake – declaring this truth to God Himself – who is pleased to hear this and to act accordingly.  And so if you are in Christ, baptized into His name – you are summoned to come and partake – to tell God again what He promised.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Worshiping the God Who Saved the World

We have come to worship Jesus Christ, Who came and died for the world.  He did not come to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.  We come to worship Jesus Christ Who accomplished all that the Father sent Him to do.

In Ephesians, Paul tells us that this victory was given in power to Jesus by the Father when He “…worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.  And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”  In Colossians, Paul tells us that Christ “…is the firstborn over all creation.  For by Him all things were created that were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.  All things were created through Him and for Him.  And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.  And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”

We are not to wait to see a world that is saved when our eyes tell us or the newspapers report to us that it is so.  We are to hear the Word of God and, like our father Abraham, we are to believe God.  To have faith is to hope in things which are not yet seen though they are declared to be by God.  And so, again, Paul says to the Corinthians, “Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh.  Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”

You have been summoned to come and worship this God, this Christ, the victor for His already accomplished victory over this world and this cosmos.  Who hopes for what he cannot see?  But what do we see?  We see Christ crucified and risen – and we come to celebrate, dedicate, and declare that glorious dominion and present reality to the world around – and to ourselves.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Submission Unto the Lord

"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord."  Ephesians 5:22

The word submission means “to put in subjection under.”  The command is given by the Lord to the wife and not by the husband to the wife.  She is to place herself in subjection under her husband’s headship, neither because he says so nor because he has earned it, but because the Lord has commanded it.  This is made clearer by the fact that a woman is to submit herself to her own husband and not to any other man.  She is to do this “as to the Lord” and you could compare this with those who visit, feed, and clothe the poor with Jesus’ teaching, “inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matt 25:40).  When she renders godly, Spirit-filled submission to her husband, she is doing it unto her heavenly Father.

At the Table with Melchizedek

On his way back from battle, Abram was met by the mysterious figure, Melchizedek, the king of Salem; he would be known as the king of righteousness and the king of peace.  Melchizedek came out with a gift of bread and wine – and this is the first time we see Abram eating and drinking in the land.  Before this, Abram, who had been promised a land, had found the land in a great famine.

Melchizedek, we learn, is also a priest of the most high God, and the New Testament teaches us that he is a type of our great High Priest and king, Jesus Christ.  Like Abram, we serve God by faith, we fight in the land to save our kinsmen by faith, and we find that our victories are due to our comrade, the greater Melchizedek, who after and because of our victory in Him, comes and offers us bread and wine.  This is a table of victory, a table of righteousness and peace – none of it attained by us – all of it given to us in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We are summoned to come and sup with Him here.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Reaping What You've Sown

Jesus says that a man will reap what he sows.  What have you been sowing this week?  Have you been sowing grace, forgiveness, laughter?  Have you been sowing hope and affection and purity?  Have you been sowing friendship, intimacy with your spouse, attention to your children?  Have you been sowing lessons given, spankings delivered, corrections to bad decisions – but all with a spirit of gentleness and spiritual qualification?  Then you will reap the world for you are one of the meek ones and Jesus said, Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Or, have you been sowing thorns and thistles?  Have you been sowing excuses for your sins, bitterness and pettiness when offended, whining and complaining when it hasn’t gone your way?  Have you sown bringing up old offenses when he thought they were forgiven, or finger-pointing when she thought you had told her it had all been let go?  Have you sown a little peek at porn here, a little inappropriate lusting there, a little giving in to the flesh again?  Have you refused to pour into your daughters, your sons, your wife, because you were just too busy – again?  Have you refused to study and meditate upon the Word, your source of light and life, because it just seemed so boring – again and again?  Have you sown gossip and malice, pride and contempt in your conversations with others about others?  Then Jesus says you will reap what you sow – and it will be a garden of thorns.  Relationships will crumble, your reputation will be ruined, your fortune lost – and it will be obvious to all why this has happened.

The answer, of course, is grace.  It is Jesus.  The only way out of such patterns is through the ministry of the Holy Spirit to convict us rightly of our selfish idolatries.  And it is grace when we become aware of such patterns, when we find ourselves hating them, when we confess them and walk away from them and get help from stronger brothers and sisters for them – and when we come here, to worship God, to find rest, to find revival, to find renewal – again and again and again.  When we own it all, then Jesus takes it all.  That is how grace conquers – that is how grace is sown again in hearts that are born again.

Your Marriage: Which Eschatology?

Many argue that our eschatological choices don’t make that much difference.  But I would argue that they are imbedded in the story of The Marriage and therefore imbedded in our own marriage relationships as well.  There are three main eschatological positions:  pessimistic, agnostic, and optimistic.  The pessimist says that Scriptures teach us that the Marriage fails and the bride falls into apostasy.  The agnostic believes the Scriptures are silent, or that there is only a picture of constant struggle between faithfulness and unfaithfulness and no promise of real maturity or victory.  The optimist teaches that the Scriptures declare that The Marriage will result in growing fruitful victory, dominion, and glory.

Which eschatological view describes your view of The Marriage?  Which eschatological view defines your  marriage?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Answer is Jesus

We serve a God Who declares things that are not as though they were.  We serve a God Who does not simply give it the ol’ college try, but Who declares that it is His intention to save the world.  We serve a God Who raises the dead.  We serve a God who makes all things new.

Now, on the one hand, it is not God’s intention for us to use this as a marketing campaign for the church – Come to church, it will make your marriage better, or, Come to church, it will make you more financially free and prosperous, or, Come to church, it will solve your loneliness problem or your depression.  Actually, coming to church, coming to Jesus, may increase some of those problems and maybe more – on the short end of things

Without preaching a health and wealth gospel, a false gospel, the Scriptures at the same time do promise that at the heart of all the world’s problems –and at the heart of all of your problems – the answer is Jesus.  Are you lost in sin?  The answer is Jesus.  Are you trapped in your fears?  The answer is Jesus.  Are the consequences of bad decisions haunting you?  The answer is Jesus.  Are you stuck in bad habits and bad relationships?  The answer is Jesus.  Are you ashamed?  The answer is Jesus.  Are you losing to temptation?  The answer is Jesus.  Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  Jesus is the Light of the World.  Jesus is the Wisdom of God, the Word of God, the Son of God – and Jesus is the Savior of the World – this World – your world.

And what does this Jesus say – "Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  Welcome to Jesus Christ – come and worship your God.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Preparing to Be the Choir

Music Camp was another success – thanks to Jordan and to so many volunteers who served the Lord and Trinity Church in this endeavor.  This is just one of many opportunities we make available to encourage all the saints to grow in their abilities to sing and to sing joyfully before the Lord.

When we have a choir up front singing a beautiful meditation, we can be tempted to think that they are the choir.  But they really are not.  They are a representation of the choir.  They are just a part of the choir.  If they were the choir, then we would be the audience – but that is not the way it is at all.  We are all the choir, the singing witnesses to the grace and glory of God – He is our primary audience, and the principalities and powers, even the rest of the world are the second.  God is on His throne, we are His temple, and the glory cloud is the voice of His people singing His praises.

Which is why it is so important that you do two things.  First, that you commit yourself to growing in your ability to sing – to sing skillfully, as skillfully as the Lord will allow, and that you sing in such a way with the congregation that together we shout the praises of God and His Word.  Second, it is so important that as we come to sing, if we are bringing His praise to His name, it does not matter how skillful we ever are – we must all come with faith – we must all come by grace – we must all come in the name of Jesus.  And just like you might need to clear your throat before you open it up to sing – so you might need to clear your conscience, confessing your sins, before you open up your voice with those praises.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Parental Anxiety

"We live in a strange new world.  Kids are safer than ever before, but parental anxiety is skyrocketing...
Parenting has become more complicated than it needs to be.  It used to be, as far as I can tell, that Christian parents basically tried to feed their kids, clothe them, teach them about Jesus, and keep them away from explosives.  Now our kids have to sleep on their back (no, wait, their tummies; no, never mind, their backs), while listening to Baby Mozart and surrounded by scenes of Starry, Starry Night.  They have to be in piano lessons before they are five and can't leave the car seat until they're about five foot six." - DeYoung, Crazy Busy, pp65, 67

Shaking Up This World...and You

Psalm 47 declares “All peoples clap your hands for joy to God in triumph shout – and – God is King of all the earth – and God rules the nations, God sits on His throne of holiness.”  The worship service is not, in the end, something we are invited to volunteer and join – it is a summons from the God of all the earth – to you and to everyone else.

With all the continuing happenings in our State and in our Nation with regard to the sodomite agenda, we are reminded that there is no real political solution to our problems, to our confusions, to our sins and blindness to the Truth and to the King of kings – there is only salvation – and yet – that salvation is itself a political solution – it is the solution.  All that we do here this morning – this is the solution.

We have come to worship the King of this land, the King Who reigns this year, the King of this nation, the King of this world.  Jesus Christ is the only salvation that is offered to men, to nations, to generations, to each and every situation in which a man or a community finds themselves.  He summons us to come to Him this Lord’s Day and He promises to shake things up because we do – as we do.  And so we must come with faith in God, faith in the one Who has declared the end from the beginning and Who raises the dead – for there is death to be raised in our midst.

But as we come expecting a great shakeup – remember that judgment begins here, in the house of the LORD.  We might be praying with great expectation that God is going to bring conviction to them out there only to find that He really intends first to deal with us – with our sins – with our lusts – with our perversions – with our secret sins – with our compromises with His Word and our lame reasons for doing so.  As He does, remember two things – first, He only does so because He loves us, He loves you, far more than you will ever understand – and second, this only proves His ability to bring salvation to the ends of the earth.  If He can remake us – surely He can remake anything.  And the resurrection of Jesus teaches us just that.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Staying on Mission

"If Jesus had to be deliberate with his priorities, so will we.  We will have to work hard to rest.  We will have to be dedicated to being disciplined.  We will have to make it our mission to stay on mission" - Crazy Busy, DeYoung, p57.

He then goes on - "The person who never sets priorities is the person who does not believe in his own finitude...Time may be our scarcest and most precious resource.  And we will begin to use it well only when we realize we do not have an infinite supply to use."

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Jesus Was a Busy Man

"Many of us are so familiar with the Gospels that we fail to see the obvious:  Jesus was a very busy man" - Crazy Busy, DeYoung, p54.