31 August 2009

Romantic Imagery in Worship Music

I've commented before on my lack of enthusiasm for romantic imagery that is so often found in contemporary worship music. I don't believe these lyrics a) accurately express how we should biblically worship and b) these lyrics chase men away from worship and therefore the church. A man should feel uncomfortable singing these lyrics. Look at it this way, if you can't see Stonewall Jackson singing these lyrics, neither should you. I appreciate the comments of Matt Redman in the video below.

29 August 2009

The Government

I shy away from government commentary on this blog, but this I just can't resist sharing.

(HT: Gene Long)

Lord's Day 34 Heidelberg Catechism part 2

Lord's Day 34

Scripture Readings: 1 John 5:21; Deuteronomy 18:9-10; Acts 5:29

Question 94. What does the Lord require in the first commandment?
Answer. That I, not wanting to endanger my own salvation, avoid and shun all idolatry, sorcery, superstitious rites, and prayer to saints or to other creatures. That I sincerely acknowledge the only true God, trust God alone, look to God for every good thing humbly and patiently, and love, fear, and honor God with all my heart. In short, that I give up anything rather than go against God's will in any way.

Question 95. What is idolatry?
Answer. Idolatry is having or inventing something in which one trusts in place of, or alongside of, the only true God who is self-revealed in the divine word.

For reflection and discussion:
What is idolatry?
Where do idols come from?

28 August 2009

Nine Factors

Nine Factors Contributing to the Resurgence of Calvinism:
1. Three Preachers: one from the 19th Century, one from the middle of the 20th Century, one who is still preaching today: Charles Haddon Spurgeon, David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and John MacArthur. A Baptist, a Presbyterian, and a Dispensationalist. - Lig Duncan

Read the other eight reasons here. It's a good read.

27 August 2009

Are You a Blogging Scoffer?

Are you a blogging scoffer? I was reminded just how serious this question is while recently listening to Tim Keller's address this year at the Gospel Coalition. While speaking of those who are religious idolators he notes two marks of the scoffer (Proverbs 1:22; 9:7-8; 13:1; 14:6; 15:12; 19:25; 19:29; 21:11; 21:24; 22:10; 24:9; 29:8). The first is that he is dogmatic and closed minded. The second is that he is always "disrespectful to opponents, always belittling, always mocking, always distainful." Keller points out that "the internet breeds scoffers" because traffic is increased to your blog if you're a scoffer. So, even if what you believe is truth, it is possible to make an idol of it.

Are you a bloging scoffer? Let us always consider this before we click publish and let us think biblically about how we are increasing traffic to our blogs.

25 August 2009

22 August 2009

The ELCA's Recent Decision

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported today, August, 22, 2009, the outcome of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s recent positive vote on welcoming gays and lesbians to the pulpit. This is distressing news of course to those of us who view homosexuality as sin. And what I also find distressing by those in favor of gays and lesbians in the church is their misrepresentation of the truth. For example, the article opens with a quote from the Rev. Paula Meader of Trinity Lutheran Church in Lakewood, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland), “ ‘Jesus accepted all the social outcasts of his time”…”So, it’s about time, according to her, for the church to do the same.” How true, Jesus did accept and associate with the outcasts of his time but not to condone their sin but rather to bring them to accept his saving grace. It is astonishing how twisted and altruistic the truth can become when some start to defend what they think is biblical truth that is anything but Scriptural.

Did Jesus condone the sin of the woman at the well because she had five husbands and was living with another man (John 4:11-41)? No, but he did talk to her to so she would see her sin and abandon it to live a life that would be pleasing to God. And how do we know what is pleasing to God? It is not what we think, it is not what sounds good or what is socially acceptable. Nor is it what tradition says or any combination of tradition and Scripture. It is Scripture alone (Sola scriptura) which is a Reformed benchmark.

Scripture clearly points out that homosexuality is sin. The most prominent place we find this is in Romans 1, verses 26 and 27, For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. You can try your best to wriggle out of that truth by doing any sort of interpretational gymnastics that you like but the teaching is clear.

The article goes on to quote the Rev. Don King who is openly gay, “I believe the ELCA is moving in a direction of justice and openness.” Interesting that the ELCA is not moving towards being Scripturally obedient, rather it is moving towards “justice and openness”. It must be asked then, who is defining justice here? If it is God then we must see justice in light of what he has shown us in Scripture. God has sent his Son to live a perfect life, be persecuted, die on the cross and rise again in three days for our sin. That is how God has carried out justice for all of mankind including homosexuals. If it is man defining justice, well, we see how justice is carried out, i.e., to accept openly rebellious sinners into the church and give them positions of leadership.

What should we be doing? Christians in the church universal should be openly embracing the homosexual community in an effort to win them to Christ so that they may repent and turn from their sin of homosexuality. That is truly showing openness to the gay and lesbian community and an effort to see that justice is accomplished biblically.

Lord's Day 34 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 34

Scripture Readings: Exodus 20:1-17; Matthew 22:37-40; Mark 12:30

Question 92. What does the Lord say in his law?
Answer. God spoke all these words:
"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me."
"You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments."
"You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyonewho misuses [the divine] name."
"Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it."
"Honor you father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving to you."
"You shall not murder."
"You shall not commit adultery."
"You shall not steal."
"You shall not bear false witness against you neighbor."
"You shall not covet your neighbor's house; You shall not covet you neighbor's wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to you neighbor." 10

Question 93. How are these commandments divided?
Answer. Into two tables: the first has four commandments, teaching us what our relation to God should be. The second has six commandments, teaching us what we owe our neighbor.

For discussion and reflection:
Why are the commandments arranged as they are, i.e., our realtion to God first, then in our relations to others second?
Each of the commandments teaches what is ________ and what is __________.

20 August 2009

When You're Stressed

In this world of email, blogging, Facebook, MySpace, work, spouse & family, church, friends, children, and a never ending list of other assorted duties we often find ourselves feeling stressed. Being stressed leads to frustration, impatience, pettiness and flippant speech. It is helpful to remind ourselves of a few biblical facts that lead us away from stress and back to the narrow road of godliness.

In whatever situation we're facing, we can be strong and courageous:

...Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. Joshua 1:9

We don't face these situations alone:

...I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5

Knowing we're not alone we, therefore, have no reason to be anxious:

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Php 4:6-7 & Joshua 1:9 above.

Remember, the Lord is in control and guiding our steps:

I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Psalm 32:8

We can do all things and should do all things to the glory of God:

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Php 4:13

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Col. 3:17

Knowing all of these promises we have no need to be downcast but rather have every reason to rejoice:

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. Psalm 42:5
Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Php 4:4

Be joyful my friends and look to the Lord always for that is where our help comes.

18 August 2009

Lig Duncan on Reformed Theology

I thought this video was great. Clear, concise and to the point, it opens the door to understand the Reformed faith.

17 August 2009

T. David Gordon Sermon

Dr. T. David Gordon, author of Why Johnny Can't Preach, spoke at Redeemer Church yesterday. To download the sermon click here. Be blessed and enjoy.

15 August 2009

Lord's Day 33 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 33

Scripture Readings: Ephesians 2:1-10; Mark 7:1-13

Question 88. What is involved in genuine repentance or conversion?
Answer. Two things: the dying of the old self, and the coming to life of the new.

Question 89. What is the dying of the old self?
Answer. It is to be genuinely sorry for sin, to hate it more and more, and to run away from it.

Question 90. What is the coming-to-life of the new self?
Answer. It is wholehearted joy in God through Christ and a strong desire to live according to the will of God in all good works.

Question 91. What are good works?
Answer. Only those which are done out of true faith, conform to God's law, and are done for God's glory, and not those based on our own opinion or human tradition.

For study and reflection:
Why is conversion necessary?
What is the motivation after conversion for good works?

13 August 2009

Sermons Available

Redeemer Church (PCA) in Hudson, Ohio now has it's weekly sermons, delivered by the Rev. Scott R. Wright, PhD., available for download. Check it out here and take a look around while you're there. I welcome the feedback on the site.

11 August 2009

C.S. Lewis on Books and Reading

Lewis warned that "every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain maistakes. We all, therefore, need books that will correct the characteristic mistakes ofour own period. And that means old books." ...Lewis more clearly than modersn observed, "the charateristic blindness of the twentieth century...None of us can fully escape this blindness, but we shall certainly increase it, and weaken our gaurd against it, if we read only modern books (as quoted in A Manual for Officer Training by David W. Hall & Mark A. Bruckner, pg. 206).

What an interesting and insifghtful observation. Might I also add that we can never fully escape our culture, either. Hence we need to be cautious what we read and read those books from ages past that have stood the test of time. Bunyan, Owen, Hugh Martin, Bannerman, Flavel, Vincent, Guthrie, Watson, Sibbes and William Perkins are just a few authors we should focus on. And, as Lewis notes elsewhere, for every modern book we read we should read an old one. What are you reading today?

08 August 2009

Keller On the Lord's Supper

As we prepare for Worship tomorrow and if your church should be celebrating the Lord's table perhaps you can dwell on Keller's thoughts on the Supper in this video. Great stuff...

Lord's Day 32 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 32

Today we begin the third section of the catechism where we learn how the law shows us how we should live a life of gratitude in our salvation.

Scripture Readings: 1 John 3:10-15; 5:1-5

Question 86. Since then we are redeemed from our sin and misery by grace through Christ
without any merit of our own, why must we do good works?
Answer. Because just as Christ has redeemed us with his blood he also renews us through his Holy Spirit according to his own image, so that with our whole life we may show ourselves grateful to God for his goodness and that he may be glorified through us; and further, so that we ourselves may be assured of our faith by its fruits and by our godly living may win our neighbors to Christ.

Question 87. Can those be saved who do not turn to God from their ungrateful and unrepentant
Answer. Certainly not. Scripture says: "Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers,...thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers none of these will inherit the kingdom of God."

For discussion and reflection:

How does this view differ from the Roman Catholic view?
How do we avoid the temptation of falling back into some kind of works righteousness?

07 August 2009

The Drifting of Evangelicalism

For the last couple of years I've been reading extensively on church history and specifically on the formation and evolution of Evangelicalism. Don Carson has a new book coming out soon, so titled, Evangelicalism. As one who has learned a great deal from Carson I look forward to this volume as well. Take a look at the video below from The Gospel Coalition.


04 August 2009

Just Way Too Cool...

I thought this was just way to cool. Her big smile at the end says it all. Enjoy....

03 August 2009

"My Aim Is Never To Win Someone To Christ"

Interesting statement to be found in a book about evangelizing. I happen to agree with it. Why? As the author explains, it's difficult to go from nothing to a "decision" very quickly. Who is this author, you ask? It's Greg Koukl, author of Tactics, A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions. I'm not finished with this book yet but have found it a breath of fresh air so far.

Let's get back to his aim, he states that, ...It may surprise you to hear this but I never set out to convert anyone. May aim is never to win someone to Christ. I have a more modest goal, one you might consider adopting yourself. All I want to do is put a stone in someones shoe. I want to give him something worth thinking about, something he can't ignore because it continues to poke at him in a good way (pg 38).

At last, someone with a reasonable approach to evangelizing. He then goes on to recognize that in some Christian circles it's expected the Christian "close the sale." This is the sort of witnessing technique I was accustomed to hearing about in my youth and disliked it. Koukl counters with, You don't have to try to close every deal. I have two reasons for this view. First, Not all Christians are good closers. How very true that is. We are not salesmen for Christ, nor should we be. Many of us are not harvesters as Koukl points out, we are just ordinary gardeners. Here's the second reason....In most situations, the fruit is not ripe. The nonbeliever is simply not ready (pg. 39). Again, he nails it. He'd rather put a stone in a nonbeliever's shoe than try to take things too far, too fast. I agree.

On page 40 he offers the following, I encourage you to consider the strategy I use when God opens the door of opportunity for me. I pray quickly for wisdom, then ask myself this: What one thing can I say in this circumstance, what one question can I ask, what seed can I plant that will get the other person thinking? Then I simply try to put a stone in the person's shoe. I believe that to be wonderful and very wise advice. We often take to much upon ourselves. We must re-enforce in our minds that it is the Spirit who brings someone to belief. We are only the mouthpiece and often just one of many.

I truly look forward to finishing this book. It has certainly surpassed my expectations so far.

01 August 2009

Book Buys for July

Never under estimate what you might find in one of those discount stores. The Seven Sayings of Our Saviour on the Cross by A.W. Pink and An Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics by Silva & Kaiser were both a grand total of $9.99 in a local discout house. (The bad thing is that it had numerous copies of the Emergent Church stuff by McLaren, Sider and others.) Looking forward to digging into Tactics by Koukl. I'll have a post on that next week.

Lord's Day 31 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 31

Scripture Readings: Matthew 16:17-20; 18:15-20; Hebrews 13:17; Titus 1:5-9

Question 83. What are the keys of the kingdom?
Answer. The preaching of the holy gospel and Christian discipline. Both preaching and discipline open the kingdom of heaven to believers and close it to unbelievers.

Question 84. How does preaching the gospel open and close the kingdom of heaven?
Answer. According to the command of Christ: The kingdom of heaven is opened by proclaiming and publicly declaring to all believers, each and every one, that, as often as they accept the gospel promise in true faith, God, because of what Christ has done, truly forgives all their sins. The kingdom of heaven is closed, however, by proclaiming and publicly declaring to unbelievers and hypocrites that, as long as they do not repent, the wrath of God and eternal condemnation rest on them. God's judgement, both in this life and in the life to come, is based on this gospel testimony.

Question 85. How is the kingdom of heaven closed and opened by Christian discipline?
Answer. According to the command of Christ: Those who, though called Christians, profess unchristian teachings or live unchristian lives, and after repeated and loving counsel refuse to abandon their errors and wickedness, and after being reported to the church, that is, to its officers, fail to respond also to their admonition such persons the officers exclude from the Christian fellowship by withholding the sacraments from them, and God excludes them from the kingdom of Christ. Such persons, when promising and demonstrating genuine reform, are received again as members of Christ and of his church.

For reflection and discussion:
The "keys of the kingdom," how do we know what they are?
Name some areas where church discipline fails today and why?