10.27.2009

Where I've been; where I am

I recently rediscovered the Bayly blog - 2 brothers and pastors in the PCA.
Their last 3 posts were especially close to home.

This one is on Rob Bell a pastor in Grand Rapids, MI, close to where I grew up. Brace yourself.

This one is on the latest unfaithfulness in the CRC at Calvin College, my alma mater. Ouch.

This one is on Doug Wilson. Surprising stuff in here. In case you're wondering, I basically agree with Tim Bayly. There are disingenuous people out there who warn you (like they are your friend) that associating with guys like Wilson could marginalize you... and then they turn around and marginalize you themselves. Contrast this with the courage to speak loudest on the most intense cultural-pressure-point issues.

10.26.2009

Your daily Calvin

Don't forget my summarized daily reading of Calvin's Institutes over at
calvinreadings.blogspot.com

The Lord and Giver of Life

Based on Ezekiel 36:25-27

Without the Holy Spirit this meal is useless. He unites us to Christ as he gives us faith. He makes us members of His body, sharing in Christ. That union brings all His benefits to us. We receive His righteousness; His death covers our guilt. We are justified, we are being sanctified. He seals and assures the truth of all this in our hearts. He gives us these sure and concrete signs of His Fatherly favor and kindness toward us.

The Spirit is poured out on us and He restores the years the locusts have eaten. The Spirit is the Omnipotent God, equal and power and glory to the Father and Son. And His unique work is giving life and times of refreshing, a new heart, through the Word, the waters of baptism, and this meal.

This should give us hope in the midst of any situation. God can straighten any crooked heart in your life. He can smooth out any relational wrinkle you have. So this meal not only looks back to the cross; it also leans into the future, to the time when Jesus comes to judge the world with equity, and set all things right, when He drinks of this cup with us in His Kingdom.

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The Spirit's Work

On Pentecost, the Spirit did His work of making the apostles bold to speak the Gospel of Christ. He did His work of making the people understand and take to heart the sermon Peter preached. He granted repentance of sin and faith in Christ, He gave joyful fellowship and communion together with His saints, a devotion to the apostles’ teaching in the word. This is what true repentance looks like, not just in the emotional moment, but down the road.

The question is the same for us. Are our lives characterized by repentance, or self-justification? Faith in God or self-reliant pride? Joyful fellowship, or at-a-distance criticism and judgment? Devotion to the Spirit’s teaching in the Word, or assuming we know what it says and going with our gut?

The Spirit cuts hearts to the quick. Let Him cut into yours now. This Jesus, whom you crucified by your sins, God has made Lord and Christ. This reminds us of our need to confess our sins.

5/31/09

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10.20.2009

Divorce and death defeated

Based on Hebrews 12:22-24

You are not just in this room, gathered and assembled together as Covenant Heritage. The Word tells us that our assembling is greater than any rebuilt earthly temple ever could be. Being at Sinai when God spoke from the mountain His 10 commandments, that isn’t as awesome as this. Being in Jerusalem and worshiping at the temple before its destruction, that isn’t as great as this. For you have come to the heavenly Jerusalem. You are gathered with the angels in heaven, with all the saints who have gone on before us, from Peter to Cyprian, Alfred, Augustine, Tyndale, Bucer, Edwards, your faithful family members. You have come more importantly, to God the Judge, to Jesus the mediator. And the last thing mentioned you now hold a token of in your hand. You have come to the blood of sprinkling. That blood was shed on earth, on the cross, but it is remembered and brought to heaven. The living, resurrected, body and blood of Jesus ascended to heaven and sits right next to the Father. The divorce between earth and heaven has been undone. Jesus is the ladder between them, the new and living way. Sin, death, and divorce are defeated by Christ. You HAVE COME to heavenly Jerusalem. We are at one with the Father. And that is changing things on earth. One day all wrongs here will be set right. Believe this. Eat and drink of the bread from heaven to strengthen your hope.

5/24/09

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Putting away, and taking back

Based on Jeremiah 3:1, 8-10 - sermon on divorce

God searches our hearts completely. He knows every way in which we have been unfaithful to Him, committing adultery with other gods. We try to get out of our covenant obligations to God. He knows every lame resolution we make to ourselves or to others change, while still clinging to our sin. He knows all our pretended or exaggerated sorrow for our sin that we work up to convince ourselves that we will be forgiven. God put away Adam and Eve from the Garden. He cuts off fellowship with us outside of Christ. Our sin warrants divorce. But God in His mercy will take us back. He has shown us His mercy and favor in Christ at the cross. He provides us with the faith to believe in Him. He gives us a soft, faithful and repentant heart. This reminds us of our need to confess our sins.

5/24/09

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10.19.2009

For mother's day

Based on Rev 19:7-8; 22:17

The Church as mother

We are God’s children. He is raising us, preparing us for marriage, to live in His house forever. The Church is our mother, which helps prepare us, with the Spirit and the Word.

The Church has nothing to offer that doesn’t come from our Father

The Church is subject to her husband’s direction in the Spirit/Word

The Church teaches in the apostles’ teaching

Believers should honor and obey their mother the Church

Many Christians today try to do what naughty children do: go around mom and appeal to dad. But every wise father will ask, “Did you ask your mother?” If they already did, dad will take that child right back to mom, with admonishment to respect her: “What she says, I say.” Jesus Christ said this to all believers when He told His disciples, “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.” Does that mean we make infallible perfect judgments? No. It means believers should respect their mother church with more than lip service.

The Church is fallible, but to be followed and generally trusted, like earthly mothers.

She feeds and nourishes, communicates love and emotional security. The Church is to support its members, encouraging them in hard times, assuring them of God’s love for us in Christ.

She disciplines and corrects. The Church disciplines according to the Father’s teaching.

She is fruitful

She bears children – conversion and multiplying new spiritual life

She is productive – not idle until our bridegroom’s return
5/10/09

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Backsliding

Based on Jeremiah 3:12-13

We usually equate backsliding with apostasy. But it isn’t so much a major break as a gradual slide, as the word suggests. Backsliding comes as naturally as breathing, to all of us. We do not obey God, we scatter our charms to other gods. That means we seek our satisfaction elsewhere. We desire earthly things, thinking they will satisfy, but they don’t. This reminds us of our need to confess our sins.

5/10/09

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Without trying to

"What makes us think that we could worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness in the midst of our culture without shaking things up a bit? This is especially true in these disintegrating times. The more the kingdom is the kingdom, the more a longing world will ask questions about it.... The most effective way for the church to transform the culture outside her walls, discipling the nations, is to quit being a lobbying agency. The fastest way to change the nations is to quit trying to. I am not talking about the church turning inward in some impotent way. I am talking about the church being the church..."

10.16.2009

Cool Weather = Warm Woolies

The crisp air makes me want to snuggle up. Here's what's been flying off the knitting needles the past few weeks, ready to keep me and some loved ones warm from head to toe.


(Groovy Stripe Socks, Chunky Dean Street Hat, Vine & Leaf Beret, Chunky Braided Button-on Scarf, Herringbone Button-on Scarf.)

Tradition!

So in the October 2009 Tabletalk issue, Michael Horton explains the phrase "Reformed and always being reformed according to the Word of God." He explains for us that the first word refers to a static thing that was accomplished in the Reformed confessions. "We don't need to move beyond the gains of the Reformation." Doctrinally, he means. We got it. We're set. The "always being reformed" part refers only to our ongoing sanctification, not to new doctrinal truth we could learn.

There are many adjectives I want to use for this, but I'll restrain myself and just say this is... unusual.

I understand his point that the Reformed interpretation of Scripture is set, and different from Lutherans, baptists, etc. And that interpretation can't be a wax nose to fit any crazy idea. But he essentially makes tradition infallible, which he later denies. He allows for no doctrinal development at all. Are the confessions all we need to say, doctrinally? No. Sometimes we need to take exception, clarify, or expand, depending on who we are talking to, and why.

Fairest Jesus

Based on Psalm 45

The best thing for dealing with our sinful desire is not to try to totally suppress it, but to re-direct it according to God’s Word. We see in Ps 45 where our attentions and desires should be. We long for the coming of the King, the Bridegroom. We rejoice that He is blessed by God, that He has the sword and arrows and throne of strength, that He loves righteousness and hates wickedness, that He has more oil of gladness than anyone. He is our FAIREST Lord Jesus.

We would do well to leave our father Adam’s lineage and brokenness and seek refuge in the Messiah’s house. This we do every time we partake of this meal. We act out that we want to be in His house and fed at His table.
5/3/09

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10.15.2009

Victory that feels like defeat, at first

I'm watching The Ten Commandments with the kids while Sara is downstairs hosting Ladies' Night at our church. Pharoah just commanded Israel to make bricks without straw, and I had a thought.

When Jesus died, rose and ascended, and sent the Spirit, things also got harder first. Persecution from the Jews, stoning of Stephen, whose face shone like Moses' did. But greater freedom for the church came 40 years later, as most of Israel died from disobedience in Jerusalem in 70AD. In the same way, greater freedom came for Israel when they entered the promised land.

Yet neither of these was a complete victory, as Christ has yet to come and consummate His kingdom...

10.14.2009

Making it right

Ephesians 2:12-16

It was our sin that caused the enmity from God to us. Where we are often angry without a good reason at others, God had every reason to be angry with us in our sin. But He initiated and came down to us to make it right.

Reconciliation was on Jesus Christ’s mind as He went to the cross to set it right with you. Reconciliation should be on your mind as you hold this cup – God has reconciled Himself to you in Christ. This Supper will also bring to the surface things you need to make right with your brother. Listen to the Lord prompt you as you sit at His table. I don’t believe you need to put the cup down if you become aware of a conflict. But you must resolve to set it right as soon as possible, instead of let it sit and fester. It may be painful to set right, but God didn’t leave His enmity with us alone, and stand apart from us. He so loved us that He gave His own Son, so we wouldn’t die but live forever.
4/26/09

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10.13.2009

The cup as gadfly

Based on Leviticus 19:9-18; sermon text: Matt 5:17-20

These words are just another way of saying what Paul says in 1 Cor 11; he rebukes them for having factions, for despising those with less, for communing unworthily by not discerning or regarding the other members of Christ’s Body. Notice especially vs 18: the second greatest commandment has a flip side: don’t hold a grudge but love your neighbor. If you harbor feelings of ill will toward any here, resolve now, with cup in hand, to set it right. I don’t say all this to bring guilt and condemnation upon you, but to show you specifically how Christ has fulfilled the Law for you. He loved His neighbor; we have a hard time doing so. He loved His enemies; we are tempted to think it a virtue to hate them. Christ reconciles us to God, by His blood, the symbol of which you hold in your hand. That cup is a gadfly to bring complete reconciliation. That cup is also assurance that you are set completely right with the Lord. It also removes all excuse to set things right with one another, and it paves the way for you to do so.

4/19/09

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Wisdom, wit and skill

From Hosea 10:12-13

These verses apply to our nation. We have cherished, produced and exported a selfish sensuality. We have used our liberty for license. We deceive ourselves that our way is right and we trust our government, or our markets, or our individual enterprise, more than we trust God’s mercy.

This all applies to each of us individually. We are each driven more by self-interest and by our senses than we want to admit. We seek ourselves more than service. We deceive ourselves that our way is right, and we trust our wisdom, wit and skill, more than we trust God’s grace.

This reminds us of our need to confess our sins.
4/19/09

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Socktober!!!

It's **SOCKTOBER** all you knitting fans! Get out those double point needles and get clicking!

My goal for Socktober is 3 socks (not 3 pairs). One pair was half finished upon entering this month, and I can happily report that this solo sock finally has its sole mate! Onto socks #2 & 3, a pair for my dear husband. He will be receiving this manly pair, called "Earl Grey," for his birthday this winter.

Anyone want to knit along?

10.12.2009

In the breaking of the bread

Resurrection Day - 1 Cor 15:12-26

The 2 on the road to Emmaus were hoping that Jesus was going to redeem Israel

Luke 24:30-31 - "Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him…. And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.”

Their hope had faded. They were going home, turning their backs on their expectation. But Jesus calls them back, explaining His suffering and death in the Word. Sitting down to bread with them. Notice he does the same thing in the same order as instituting the Lord’s Supper in the Upper Room during Passover. He took the bread, He blessed God, then broke it, as He gave it to them.

Jesus was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Let Christ be known to you in the breaking of the bread, in taking the cup

Let Jesus be known to you in His Word, dwelling in you richly

Let Jesus be known to you in your fellowship with one another

Let Jesus be known to your kids as you model His character for them

Let Jesus be known to your neighbors as you shine the light of the risen Jesus among them.

Let Jesus be known to the world, as you break and sacrifice yourselves for others, as Jesus did for you.

Let Jesus be known to the world, as you share the news of the great things Christ has done for you.

Let Jesus be known as you live His resurrection life.

Psalm 16:9-11: "Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

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10.08.2009

Locate the source

Based on Matt 21:9-16; Palm Sunday

God calls us to proclaim Christ’s death at this table. When the disciples and the crowds sang Hosanna to Jesus, they were doing more than praising God. They were doing more than praising Jesus. Hosanna does not mean “praise.” Hosanna means “save.” The crowds were locating the source of their salvation as they laid down their palm branches and coats for him to ride on. We here at this table do the same thing. Besides first bringing an offering, at this table we locate the source of our salvation: it is the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross. As they looked to Jesus to save them, so do we. They didn’t see the cross coming, but they trusted the right Person for their salvation. We don’t see many of our trials coming, either, but we trust Christ to see us through them. He is your life, your bread. He is your joy, your wine. God provides His Son for You to abide in, daily bread from day to day, morning to evening. Find your forgiveness in Him. Find your fellowship in Him. Find your flavor and your light in Him. Find your joy in Him.

4/5/09

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Toward them

Based on Colossians 4:5-6

Paul doesn’t tell us to walk in wisdom away from those outside in isolation from the world. He doesn’t tell us to walk with those outside, becoming worldly ourselves. We walk toward them. They are not of us, but we do not stay away from them.

We speak with grace, out of our joy and our longing for them to have that joy. We speak in a way that reveals the flavorful difference Christ makes. This calls for wisdom.

4/5/09

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Calvinist TULIP

Here is a wonderful introduction to the 5 points of Calvinism, TULIP.
It's only the length of a short article. 3-5 sentences explaining each point; 2-3 verses that make the point.

Condemn others; repent yourself

You've heard of the Jeremiad.

How about the Nehemiad?

10.07.2009

Debating End Times

Jesus, the blessed

From Matt 5:7-10

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Jesus extended mercy to us.
Isa 40:11 - He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.
John 8 – Where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Jesus is pure, glorious holiness. He told us at the first communion table with the disciples, “the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.” You sit at His table; the one who is pure, who gives you that purity, so that you too may see His Father, Your Father.

Blessed are the peacemakers. Jesus is the ultimate peacemaker. Eph 2:14-18.

3/22/09

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Shredded heart

From Joel 2:12-14
It won’t do to say that Joel calls us to repent on the inside, not on the outside. He does say to rip our hearts, not our clothes. But in the verse before He says to turn to God with fasting, which is an outward practice. In the church year, we are currently in the season of Lent. And whatever you think of lent, Jesus certainly expected that we would be fasting and mourning for our sin regularly. Not by giving up coffee or soda for 40 days out of the year, but by ripping up our hearts about it. Are you undone knowing you have unclean lips and hearts? That is exactly how God will meet you and restore you. You cannot come to Him negotiating His favor toward you. You have nothing to bargain with. But that is all right. God is full of mercy, grace and kindness, and He will leave a blessing behind Him.

3/22/09

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10.06.2009

Let it work

Matt 13: 31-33, 44-48

3/15/09

This table is one of God’s really big signs He gives us to show and tell us that His Kingdom is near, and what His Kingdom is like. Even while there are still enemies among us, He sets a table for us. We come in from the field from working in His vineyard and we find our plate and cup full, our inheritance secure. God can multiply the loaves and fish to feed the world, as His kingdom expands. Find rest under the shade of His tree here. Let the leaven of His spirit permeate your spirit, purifying and sanctifying your desires and affections for Him. Let the Table do its sifting work, weeding out your sin, weeding out faithless sinners. Most of all, Let the Father show you the great treasure to be found in His Son here at this Table.

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You have heard

From Matthew 4:12-25
3/15/09

Jesus rebukes Corazin, Bethsaiada and Capernaum, the 3 towns he visited most often during his ministry. They had the most opportunity to repent, having the most exposure to Jesus Himself. How much more is this true of us? We not only have the stories of Jesus’ ministry, but also of His death and resurrection, and the rest of the NT explaining, proclaiming and applying it all for us. We have Bibles galore, and many of us have heard the good news of the Gospel for years. The judgment is greater upon those who hear the call to repent, when they shrug their shoulders in response. When you come to church week after week, read your Bible day after day, it can become just the thing you do instead of the way God meets you and calls you to Himself. Don’t take this lightly. Anyone with more than 12 months exposure to Christ’s life and teaching is Capernaum. Although exalted for a time, it will be worse than Sodom and Gomorrah.

This reminds us of our need to confess our sins.

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10.05.2009

Dismembered; remembered

Communion Exhortation - 3/8/09

Rev 7:9-17

We proclaim the Lord’s death at this meal. Death brings division. Individually, body and soul are divided. Corporately, as the church, the body is divided between the church triumphant which we just read about, and the church militant, as we are on earth. Death divides. We soberly remember the punishment for our sin: separation from God. We gratefully remember that Jesus took it for us. He was the scapegoat, exiled from God’s presence. But the result of that exile was more life.

The result of Christ’s death is reunion, reconciliation. He has made the two into one new man, breaking down the separation at the cross. He was DIS-membered [cut off from fellowship, and forsaken by His Father], so we could get RE-membered into the body of Christ. Ultimately, we will see Him face to face without sad tears or fears, finally home. Countless thousands of us are there already. This table comes from that new world, to feed and nourish your faith, your sure hope that you will be there, too, still offering faithful, pure worship to Him, wherever you are.

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Call to confession - 3/8/09

Malachi 1:9-11

We have a selfish tendency to save the best for ourselves, when God asks us to save the first and the best for Himself. The world tells us to treasure Friday night and Saturday night, because then your time is your own. God tells us to treasure Sunday morning as His day of worship and rest, time given to Him; God tells us to treasure Monday morning, in our calendar, as an opportunity to serve Him, to multiply the resources He has given us to steward. Instead of serving and giving, we are tempted to cling tighter in hard financial times, right when people have the most need.

But we know how to work the system. We know how to give to the right people so that it profits us. We know how to work hard for our own benefit, not God’s glory. We know how to dress up to impress the right people, forgetting that it is God’s favor toward us that counts.

This reminds us of our need to confess our sins to God.

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10.02.2009

Jack O Lantern Grins


Tooth #3 bites the dust. It HAD to go. It was a dangler; you could see it wiggle when he talked, giving my son a less-than-refined look. But he wouldn't let me touch it to "help" it come out...that is, until I told him he'd get two mini-snickers if he let me pull it and he didn't cry!
I'm not the type of mom who saves teeth, locks of hair, or all that. I wouldn't have taken a picture either, but he wanted Grandma to see his dashing new look.

10.01.2009

Spontaneous Week

As hub and I sat talking over our paper-wrapped dinner out tonight, we commented on how quickly the week has gone by and how we can't really remember anything that happened.

Then I said "Oh yeah, that's right. We were spontaneous this week." Monday was "we're going to make Mycenaen pottery this week!" Tuesday the phone rang and we were off to the park within an hour. Wednesday: more ring-ring then out for dinner with friends. Today was It's-the-first-day-of-October-so-therefore-I-must-bake-endless-amounts-of-comfort-foods-NOW. I kinda like spontaneity. It fits my creative, shotgun approach to life.

The Left Brain half of us summarily ruled "From now on only one spontaneous event is allowed per week." Two seconds of silence, then I just about spewed Jamocha shake out my nose (but that's the kind of thing that wins his heart, so it'd be ok). So...should I put that on our weekly calendar honey?

We are such an odd couple sometimes! But I wouldn't have it any other way.