1.31.2011

Pure, impolitic passion

Good post on the passion of Jesus

Peter Leithart

Not a good driving record for the last 3 years

Jesus is Lord of His wedding banquet, and of this meal we call the Lord’s Supper. And He defines it a certain way we must know about. Those content with their righteous high standards are often left standing outside, angry that God would let such sinners in. They don’t value the Lord or His feast highly, because they think they are already righteous. They value more highly their lands, their wealth, their oxen, their labor and skills, their marriage and family. They look to these things to get them by in life and think they don’t need the Lord’s invitation to Himself.

The blind and lame know they need Jesus. And Jesus is not about to turn them away. His standards are low for fellowship with Him. And it’s a good thing or you and I wouldn’t be here. You need not be ritually clean. You need not understand the Law in detail. You need not have been a model of piety for at least 3 years. All you need is to be looking to Jesus now to forgive and get you out of the mess of sin that you are. Come to Him not as  a valuable and righteous asset to offer Him – you have none. He gives you the only righteousness you have in Christ by the fruit of the Spirit. So come to Him as blind, lame and wretched, saved by God’s amazing grace. 

9/12/10

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Speak to them!

Jonah 3:10-4:3
"Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it. But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. So he prayed to the LORD, and said, “Ah, LORD, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!”


When Jonah ran away from God, he did it because he knew God was likely to forgive the Ninevites, and Jonah didn’t want that to happen. So he refused to speak words of warning to Gentiles, which could bring them to repentance. Using the fish, God makes Jonah speak those words. What will it take for God to get you to say or do what you need to, for those Ninevites in your life?


9/12/10

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Things I missed in Scripture

Matthew 20:17-23
Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.” Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him. And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.” But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him, “We are able.” So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.”

I never noticed that this request comes RIGHT after Jesus says He'll be betrayed, condemned, beaten and crucified. Zebedee's sons heard this, but their mother didn't. What must they have thought when she asked for this right after Jesus told them what would happen to Him! And then Jesus puts them on the spot with an oblique reference to what He just told them.

If you want to reign with Christ, you must die with Christ. Are you willing to let happen to you what happened to Him? Even if you are, you cannot expect the highest positions in His kingdom.

1.28.2011

Jesus our example for stewarding resources

The Son of Man who has received all authority in heaven and earth, has used His infinite resources to enter your suffering. He knows what it is to be hungry, to be in pain, to be misunderstood, to be rejected. He has used His infinite resources to bear God’s wrath for your sin as He was punished and rejected by God on the cross. He has used His infinite resources to set a table for you, to feed you. He wants you to be with Him, where He is, and He is sitting down to eat with Abraham Isaac and Jacob. They rejoiced to see His day. Will you sit and eat with them? They lift up the cup of salvation in gratitude for the great things Christ has done. Will you as well? How will you use what God has given you?

9/5/10

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Children in worship

We do not have a formal nursery here, as you may have noticed, because we believe it is best that all of our children worship the Lord with us. Parents can train children to listen carefully and sit quietly in worship. But we don’t expect 1 and 2 year olds to be as adept at this as 40 year olds, either. This results in a little extra background noise, and that is fine. We give to each other by not letting other children distract us, and by not letting our children distract others. The question, then, is what to do with the littlest ones when they fuss and distract from others around. We aren’t insisting everyone always be in this room, so please feel free to take your child to the lobby until they quiet down. But the goal is to get back to worship as soon as possible. Standing and rocking them in the back of the room is all right. Going in and out several times to train them is all right, and sometimes required.

I especially encourage you fathers to care for your children directly during the service. Give mom a break so she can worship and have a little more rest than usual. Raising children is a joy and a blessing, but even the most joyfully blest mom gets worn down after a while and needs a break. What better time to bless her with it than in worship? Little children are full of wonder and trust, and of such is the kingdom of God. But they also tend to fuss and whine at all the wrong times, and
This reminds us of our need to confess our sins….

9/5/10

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Wagner

One of my hobbies is classical music. Over the years, I've imported my library into iTunes and included composition date in the info. Now I am able to sort my 8.7 days worth of classical music by composition date, and I've listened straight through (takes 3-6 months) twice, now.

Listening this way really tunes your senses to the western canon of music, and it really strikes you when a new development comes along. Suddenly the music you've been listening to for the last week changes. This time through, I'm up to Wagner and Tristan and Isolde's Overture was WAY different than the Chopin, Liszt and Dvorak I'd been listening to. A deeper study of Wagner and this opera reveals some disturbing elements, but on the surface, the musical change is fascinating.

1.27.2011

On forgiveness


"Please forgive me, Jo; I'm very, very sorry."
"I never shall forgive you," was Jo's stern answer.... It was not a happy evening... something was wanting, and the sweet home-peace was disturbed. They felt this most when singing-time came.... [Jo] felt so deeply injured that she really couldn't quite forgive yet... "It was an abominable thing, and she don't deserve to be forgiven."

"Amy was much offended that her overtures of peace had been repulsed, and began to wish she had not humbled herself to feel more injured than ever, and to plume herself on her superior virtue in a way which was particularly exasperating."

[Mother, to Jo]: "My child, the troubles and temptations of your life are beginning, and may be many; but you can overcome and outlive them all if you learn to feel the strength and tenderness of your Heavenly Father asa you do that of your earthly one.... His love and care never tire or change... but may become the source of life-long peace, happiness, and strength. Believe this heartily, and go to God with all your little cares, and hopes, and sins, and sorrows, as freely and confidingly as you come to your mother."

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Communion as Plea

Sermon text - Psalm 119:169-176 - a cry for deliverance


This table gives a picture of a cry for help for deliverance according to God's Word. Jesus tells to remember him and proclaim his death by doing this. Partaking of this meal is a cry for help. We testify that we need the food God has.  We need god to accep Christs sacrifice on our behalf. We need a living relationship with His son or we are dead.

But we know by faith that we have been made alive, been made to hear his voice calling us to him, and so we come to his house, allow him to wash and feed us. This is the help we cry for and believe we will get. We worship him knowing he has broken down the enmity, reconciled us to him when we were still at enmity against him.

8/15/10

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Truth as food

The Pharisees wanted to advance God’s kingdom by keeping Jesus from healing on the Sabbath. They were really wrapped up around that issue, and it blinded them to what God was doing in Christ. They said healing was work and you can’t work on the Sabbath. They gave this interpretation more importance than other clear commands in the Word – to do good to those in trouble.

We can do the same thing, taking the way we think Scripture should be lived out, and criticize others with it, instead of feeding them with it. We confuse advancing the kingdom with getting others to see things our way. In our zeal to advance God’s moral standards in our culture, we can leave behind charity and grace, key elements in that very kingdom.

8/15/10

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The Work of the Pastor

Some honest stuff here. So much so that those who expect a veneer of piety over all things ministerial may be shocked...

"Prayer, example and precept, in that order, are the means of bringing up children and young folk in the faith (56)."


On visiting
"Happy is the minister who has trained his congregation not to expect to see him unless there is particular need, and who, when there is need, don't try to keep him in the dark as long as possible so that they may ostentatiously reproach him when he does find out.... If Christ has given you a love for people... then the fact of it is the important thing, not the showing off of it.... Far better that someone should ask for a word of prayer or a reading than that one should leave a trail of forced readings and prayers in a number of homes where it was not convenient.... I am never put out, although some who ask me hope that I may [be], by being asked to pray in a home. 'We had to ask him to pray; he doesn't know the first thing about his job!' In such a home they get a poor prayer. Who could pray in that atmosphere? I daren't pray what I think, which is, 'Lord, would you deal with this self-righteous lot who love to take the minister down a peg by showing how pious they are.'" (51, 53-54)

On hiding sin behind that pious veneer
"The more you gave yourself airs, the more sure I was that you were a fraud.... [In the church] the only sin is to hide your wounds from the doctor and nurse. And the true pastor's job is to strip all the fearful ones, however gently, patiently, faithfully, and all the hypocritical ones of their camouflage and cloaks" (53-54).
"A soul is never so much in private with God as when sitting in church being sifted, searched, corrected, fed and nourished by the ministry of the Word" (58).

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1.26.2011

On Pride

True confessions: I'm reading Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott.

"You are getting to be altogether too conceited and important, my dear, and it is quite time you set about correcting it. You have a good many little gifts and virtues, but there is no need of parading them, for conceit spoils the finest genius. There is not much danger that real talent or goodness will be overlooked long; even if it is, the consciousness of possessing and using it well should satisfy one, and the great charm of all power is modesty."

Page 92, chapter 7

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How to wait

Paul David Tripp is always good to read.
Here he is on what (not) to do when God makes you wait.

Sing!

Zephaniah 3:14-17
"Sing, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The LORD has taken away your judgments, He has cast out your enemy. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; You shall see disaster no more. In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: 'Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.'"

God calls us to sing, because He has dismissed our case from His court. Our guilt and our accuser are put away forever. And as He steps down from the bench He leads us from the courtroom to a grand reception with a feast laid for us. He washes us, strengthens us, clothes us, heals us, exalts us, all as He sings over us with His joy. Jesus knew all this, and was doing it, as He sang a hymn with His disciples at Passover and then went to Gethsemane and Golgotha. He leads us in worship of God the Father, singing over those he has redeemed, and also singing the psalms as a faithful son of God.

8/8/10

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Confess your own sin

Romans 1:24-26:
"Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature...."

Mankind has not honored God or given Him thanks, but gone off to worship other things. So God has let them go to chase their desires for unnatural relations. Men approve of those who do this. This is very obvious in our political culture, and recent court decisions from California. But part of our sin is to blame others when we are caught up in sin. If we are honest, the last verses of Romans 1 describe our own hearts pretty well, and yet somehow we all know the big sin Romans 1 condemns those other people for. Adam hides in the bushes and blames his wife. Aaron makes a golden calf and then blames the people. Today’s compromising church blames the liberals for our cultural decline. Let us confess sins of the world that are creeping into the church, instead of only condemning them. Let us repent especially of our own sins, that we might be salt and light, warding off corruption and darkness in our land.

8/8/10

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1.25.2011

Dealing with Gossip

Good post here about what to do when you start hearing gossip.
Nancy Wilson.

Anticipate the feast

Matthew 26:27-29
"Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”

This is one of the most overlooked sayings of Jesus during the last supper. We tend to think only of the cross in the past, and our sin in the present. But Jesus was thinking of His wedding banquet in the future. Even with the cross just hours away, He had joy set before Him, so He could endure that cross. And the joy He looked forward to was sitting down to eat with you, having you with Him in His Father’s house. So as we proclaim His death, we gain strength to fight sin, endure trials. And we do this seeing the final picture. Restored table fellowship between God and His sinful creatures. Restored table fellowship between believers. The recipe that looks like it’s falling apart will turn into a scrumptious feast when the master chef enters. The symphony that sounds awful right now due to the sloth and indolence of the players, will be glorious as the conductor takes the podium. And we long for that day. Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus.

8/1/10

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Be killing sin, or else...

Revelation 5:1-4
"And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?' And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it."


Before we can rejoice in our salvation, we must come to weep much over our sin. Before we anticipate with delight the joys of heaven, we consider the punishment of hell our sins deserve. Before we win the crown of glory, we carry the cross. As we celebrate the capture and demise of the beast, we must be capturing and killing all his spawn that sprout in our lives and families. Be killing sin, the puritan said, or it will be killing you. Let us weep much for our sin, leave it dead at the cross, and carry it with us no more. 


8/1/10

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1.21.2011

This is a great mystery


Just finished Mystery of Marriage, by Mike Mason. An elder statesman pastor recommended it a while ago, and I picked it up just before doing some pre-marital counseling. It's very different from the usual marriage book, and what a relief that is! It's a bit wordy and rhetorical, but also thought-provoking. Dealing honestly with the marital relationship, Mason also interweaves Christ's relationship to His people throughout, right at those "aha" insights into the husband/wife relationship.

I'd recommend this for those who have been married for 10 years or more, though it certainly can add depth to a pre-marital session, as well!

Here are some quotes.

"Closeness is bought at a cost... one's self" (81).

"People crave closeness with one another, but are repelled by the sin that such closeness inevitably uncovers in themselves: the selfish motives that are unmasked, the pettiness that spills out" (94).

"Shame is what a proud man feels when he has nothing left to be proud of" (130).

"For some people it may be difficult or disturing to have to admit that the flieshly body plays such a predominant, and even a preeminent, role in spiritual life. But... physical existence is the sphere in which spiritual truth must be worked out" (138).

"Sex must never be depended upon to establish love but can only grow out of it" (139).

"In marriage we do not give ourselves to a cause or a program or a belief, but to a person" (156).

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1.20.2011

Reconcile, or be right?

When two parties are at odds, each having wronged the other, forgiveness must be extended by each. Christ commands it. This means one should be open to trusting the other again, in the future, if not right away. The offender is not in a good position to expect that forgiveness immediately, and should be patient with the one he has offended. Wanting to be right, and known as in the right, quickly impedes obedience in this area.

Besides that thought mulling around, I also hit this, in "The Mystery of Marriage."
"Rightness, whenever it seeks to dominate, becomes wrongness, no matter how right it may be. Would we rather be right than happy?" (pg 165)

Things I missed in Scripture

Here's another one: Genesis 41, when Joseph is exalted in Egypt.
Pharoah gives him the daughter of Potiphera, a priest.
It's possible this is the same guy as the Potiphar he served at first.
Yes, that one was captain of Pharoah's guard, and this one is a priest.
But I think priestly and governmental functions weren't separate then like now.

If this is right, Joseph denied himself Potiphar's wife and was thus given his daughter instead.

1.19.2011

Adullam, redeemed

File this under "Things I missed in Scripture."

Genesis 38 - Judah "turns aside" to Adullam and takes a Canaanite wife, the beginning of his sin.
1 Samuel 22:1 - David, descended from Judah, takes refuge from Saul in the cave of Adullam.

Not only is Judah redeemed from his sin in Adullam, his descendants find refuge in the place where he sinned.


Also, Judah's line is continued in an insane way. God kills his first two sons by this Canaanite, for their disobedience. Perez and Zerah are born of the union of Judah with his daughter-in-law, when Judah thought she was a prostitute.

1.18.2011

Idols to destroy


Counterfeit Gods, by Tim Keller

Good book. Here are some highlights:

An idol of politics
"One of the signs that an object is functioning as an idol is that fear becomes one of the chief characteristics of life" (98).

Keller goes on to show how fear leads to reviling and demonizing political opponents, making a toxic instead of healthy atmosphere for political discourse. This comes from making politics an idol, for fear that we will lose political stability if our politicians and policies don't SAVE us. We can SAY politics isn't an idol for us all we want, but as long as we are driven by fear to read all those weekly newsletters, it's taken too high a place in our lives.


An idol of religion
"Making an idol out of doctrinal accuracy, ministry success, or moral rectitude leads to contant internal conflict, arrogance and self-righteousness, and oppression of those whose views differ" (p 132).

Some think they are not godly unless they are in conflict with someone in the church all the time. After all, we're supposed to "fight the good fight," right? Yes, but not carnally. Peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, both in your heart and in the body of Christ. If church conflict is normal part of its life, there is an idol lurking about. Turn your warring tendencies against THAT. Seek and destroy it.

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1.17.2011

Gracious, defined

Great article in Tabletalk, Jan, 2011, pg 46, on what made David great.

"David was a great man because he was willing to overlook others' sins but unwilling to overlook his own."
"David showed himself to be unlike the sons of Zeruiah who lived to hold grudges and settle scores."
"David knew how to forgive, and he knew how to repent, too... he hated sin but loved to forgive it."

We often have a hard time putting holiness and graciousness together. David is a pretty good example of how our Lord does it.

1.13.2011

Birth control

Does the Bible Forbid Family Planning?
A Biblical and Theological Evaluation of Mary Pride's Arguments Against Birth Control in Her Book The Way Home
by Jeffrey J. Meyers


I see I never wrote about this book when I read it about a year ago. This booklet or essay is a helpful and specific critique of Mary Pride's "The Way Home." It shows the flaws in the argument that Scripture requires no use of any form of birth control. Examples: That God is sovereign over conception does not forbid us to intervene in any way. Onan's sin (Gen 38) was not birth control. Procreation is not the sole purpose of sex, thus sex not open to procreation is not inherently sinful.


Good quote for a balanced big picture at the end: "We oppose the pagan, anti-familial posture of contemporary American culture and have no wish to promote it in any way. Having said this, the danger for Evangelicals, however, has been to overreact with a legalistic, extra-biblical rigor that in the long run will not effectively deal with the primary problem."


Birth control is not wrong for its being advocated by feminists. Neither is any use of birth control okay, just because it is not forbidden outright in God's Word.


4 stars.

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1.12.2011

Narnia - read the books

I'm a recently new subscriber to Touchstone magazine. Their latest issue has a feature article on Narnia, which is quite critical of the films. It has me thinking.

Is Satan pullling a fast one on us, neutering one of the most potent weapons for good produced by the church in recent generations?

Mainstream Christians think it is a great thing that Narnia is getting so much wider publicity, and that is good. But the article points out that the most important things in Lewis' Narnia that our culture needs to hear are removed from the movies. "When one refers to The Chronicles of Narnia, most people already think of the films, not of Lewis's own stories."

What if, in trying to bring Lewis' message to the culture, that message is distorted, and the movies instead proclaims the culture's own messed up values?

Could this be? Consider.
- The center of the first movie was Peter growing to learn that disobedience is a sign of maturity. Aslan helps, but is not the center.
- The second movie assumes that Peter can't adjust from king to kid and gets spoiled. But Lewis' whole point was that Narnia transforms the children to be virtuous in our world.
- Caspian and Peter blame each other and fight for prominence in the movie, but in the book they respect each other's positions.
- Susan and Lucy don't fight in the books, but do in the movies.

To sum up the Touchstone article, the movies remove the one value from the books that our culture most needs to hear: a respect for authority.

To the extent the movies get people to read the books and they are influenced by the books, I am thankful. But I'm not holding my breath.

Please. Read the book 5 times for every once you watch the movie.

Love transforms

I'm glad John Piper is back.

Leading the church


Driscoll summarizes church government and administration in this 100 page booklet.

Synopsis: Jesus is the head of the church. Elders are human leaders who follow Jesus and get others to, also. Women are not called to eldership for Biblical reasons. Deacons are helpers in the church to administer. Membership is important. Leadership teams need to vary their methods by the size of the church.

Pros:
Addresses elder training, relationships, conflict and duties in a thorough and practical way that doesn't make it some super-spiritual, impossible task.
Well reasoned argument for men-only eldership.

Cons:
Argument for women deacons.
Some mega-church marketing assumptions drives the leadership team administration section.

Highlight:
Page 23 - "To do his job, [the lead elder] must not have blind obedience or complete unaccountable authority. Rather, he must have the freedom, trust, authority, respect, honor, and suppor tof the elders and other church leaders to actually lead the church. If not, there can be no leadership; leaders will no longer lead the entire church working on behalf of the best interests of the gospel, but will become representatives of various agendas, departments, factions, and programs in the church."

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Governmental authority

Product Details
Book Review:
The Establishment and Limits of Civil Government: An Exposition of Romans 13:1-7
James M. Willson

The arguments of this book are:
1. Civil government is not exempt from criticism
2. Romans 13 gives the basic criteria by which to judge civil gov'ts.
3. If it doesn't meet those criteria, we may not give our allegiance to that government. To accept its authority and give it our allegiance is ungodly.
4. Those criteria involve acknowledging Jesus Christ as Lord explicitly.
5. America (in 1857!) does not meet these criteria due to the institution of slavery. This doesn't mean we stop working for good and peace, though.

There are some interesting interpretations in the book. We must submit to excellent authorities, not to the governing authorities (Rom 13:1). Juicy ones like that were a tip off to me that the author is overly biased against submission to civil authority, or that current events were skewing a natural interpretation of the text against such submission.

Willson makes some good points. I basically agree with 1, 2 and 5 above. Also, our government should acknowledge the Triune, Christian God, and does not. And God does not call us to submit to and follow evil governments like those described in Revelation 13.

But the author concludes that we only give allegiance and submit in conscience if a country's policies are obedient. He rejects the position that we submit wherever we can, to any and all laws that do not require us to sin. But when he raises the obvious objection of how Daniel could be faithful in Babylon, he says it is because he wasn't required to take an oath against the truth. This position is not consistent. When he mentions that Nero was emperor when Paul wrote this, he simply responds that God could not have meant for the Romans to submit to the beast of Rome. This begs the question.

He also leaves unclear what it means to withhold allegiance but continue working for good. No military service? Voting? What? I would agree with him that Christians in present America (1857 or 2011) should be less wildly enthusiastic about the greatness of their nation, given all the immorality we produce, consume and export. But I don't think I need to refrain from reciting the pledge of allegiance, so long as that allegiance is subordinate to our first loyalty to Christ, the ruler of every nation.

Willson argues against the extreme of blindly submitting to any existing government, no matter its policy, simply because it is there, to which I am also opposed. In doing so he falls to the other extreme of requiring too high a standard before submitting to a government's authority. This is inviting anarchy, which objection he mentions only to casually dismiss, as he does the travesty of the French Revolution.

We should submit to our government in every area we can, to any and all laws, even unjust ones by which God judges us. At the same time, we should work vociferously for justice in our laws. If we are so concerned to not be tainted with sin in our nation, we will not be engaged enough with people to really change them for the better.

Two stars.

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1.10.2011

Federal Vision

In response to a question about Federal Vision, I wrote the following.

Federal Vision (FV) is defined by its advocates here. I'd advise a close reading of this before reading what other people write about FV. Or if that's too late, letting this source document drive your determination of FV's soundness, instead of other people's hyperventilations.

My own summary: FV emphasizes and calls us to operate on the covenant God has given us to see and deal with (Word, sacraments, visible church), more than the secret decrees of God (election, perseverance, etc.). FV does not deny the latter, but sees pitfalls in trying to read the secret decrees in people sitting in the pew. God's covenant with us is objective (sacraments and actions) and subjective (inner heart of faith). FV again emphasizes the former without denying the importance of the latter. (This leads to the practice of children taking communion: they are objectively baptized, and their subjective experience of faith will be shaped/fed by the objective practice.) These objective/subjective pairs need not be pitted against each other.

FV also teaches that Adam before the fall could not strictly merit God's favor, because the covenant He set up already graciously gave him life. Obedience would have come from faith in God, just as it does for us.

Other issues like post-millennialism and higher liturgy in worship also play a part  in defining FV folks.


I consider myself a mild advocate of the above view. This means I agree with it, but don't think the world will end without my emphasizing FV distinctives in my local church and getting everybody on board.

The CREC does not have an official position on faith alone, other than to affirm it in the presbyterian confessions it endorses. We have this, from the FV advocates themselves in the statement linked above: "we are all agreed that no one is justified at any time because they personally have earned or merited anything."

Several presbyterian denominations have condemned FV, assuming or afraid that it denies or leads to denying justification by faith alone. This is not true. I appreciate their zeal for orthodoxy, but not their lack of charity in condemning people for holding positions they do not hold.

Sacraments are not required in addition to faith for salvation.  But we do expect sacraments to make a real, faith-building difference in the life of believers. Part of the FV emphasis is on the earthly things God has given us impacting our spiritual lives, rather than shutting out the world so as to better focus on the spiritual realm. We are trying to recover from a bad spiritual/earthly dualism.

Hope this helps.

1.01.2011

New Year's Day

After a snow storm of 12 inches kept us snowbound for several days over Christmas weekend, today we hit 60 and the snow all melted. Wife and parents went to the mall with daughter, so I took the boys to get presents-for-mom supplies (it's only the 8th day of Christmas, folks), and then to lunch at Plaza Azteca. Boys got a taste of bowl games (first 5:00 of Alabama v MI State). Then back home, and I cleaned out and fixed a gutter, raked the front yard, took Zach for a spin on his new bike, went for a run with Grace and Owen trailing on their bikes. Pizza Hut tonight, a bit of Fantasia, then Narnia for bedtime. Full day.

No preaching tomorrow. Church was cancelled last week. Looking forward to receiving the Word in worship tomorrow.