Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Connection Must Be More Than an Appearance

I had an unpleasant experience this morning. I went to retrieve my phone from where it charges overnight and discovered that its connection to the charging cable had been a farce. There it sat, looking like it was drawing new life by its line to the wall, but something was wrong at the point of connection. The phone itself was pleading for help, asking to go into "battery saver" mode.

It occurred to me that many a believer lives in "battery saver" mode because, in attendance upon the means of grace, he has not been engaging with the Lord Himself by faith.

Since God has appointed the means of grace as the actions of His worship, it despises His glory for us to come only superficially. We must give ourselves to Him, and receive Himself to us, as we offer up our souls in praying, singing, hearing preaching, etc. 

And if we are not doing so, we will find that this dishonoring of Him in the worship also has detrimental effects in our Christian walk. It is only through actual abiding in Christ that we have life to bear fruit. There are many strands of vegetation that appear to be on a vine that are not in the vine. But if our worshiping is a superficial farce, let us not be surprised to be in "battery saver" mode when the time for service comes.

For further reading: John 15:1–8

[Hopefully, in the time that it took to write this, "quick charge," has made my phone serviceable. Is there such a thing for the Christian life? By God's grace, I think He does it sometimes, but it is presumptuous to expect it apart from consistent, persistent, genuine looking to Him in His ordinary means]

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Another Biblical Evidence against Money-Collecting in the Public Worship (or "That Escalated Quickly!")

Some time ago, our Session studied, and had me preach through a series that the Lord much blessed to our congregation—a Scriptural theology of our public worship, in anticipation of some reformations. 

Monday, February 13, 2023

Why I'd Prefer to Hear the Spiritual News from Your Household (or Congregation) than the Spiritual News from Asbury University

I spent a few minutes with my children this morning describing my own experiences in 24+hour religious fervor times in which there was much class-skipping. I attended a sister school of Asbury, for 2.5 years. This occurred, triggered by a chapel service that suddenly wouldn't end, in two of the three springs that I was there. 

I wish that I had recorded it. We talked about what revivals looked like in the Scripture. We talked about how God worked them, and how people responded. We talked about the real holiness that believers live in real life. And we talked about what real worship is: Who defines it, Who leads it from heaven, by whom He leads it on earth, what the singing in it should be, what the speaking in it should be, etc.

We were just about to begin family worship together, and I wanted my children to bring to bear upon our worship the concluding applications in yesterday's morning sermon (an application about the genuine knowledge of God in worship and life) and evening sermon (an application about how we come to Him in worship and how we conduct ourselves in worship).

Friday, February 3, 2023

(WCF 3.2–4) Truth to Treasure: Predestination unto Life and Foreordination unto Death

 The following is my monthly contribution to Seventeen82 for February, 2023.

(WCF 3.2–4) Truth to Treasure: Predestination unto Life and Foreordination unto Death

3.2 Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions, yet hath he not decreed anything because he foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.

Does God know all hypothetical futures? Of course.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Please Pray for B———

Please pray for B——— to be given the new birth, saving faith in Jesus Christ, and repentance unto life.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Persistence in Holding Fast to a Person

 Joshua 22:2,5 (NKJV)

     2 and said to them: “You have kept all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, and have obeyed my voice in all that I commanded you. […] But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Persistence in faithfulness and obedience is a work that is never done. But it is more than a work. It is holding fast to a Person.

You Have Heard of Perseverance, and Compassion, and Mercy!

James 5:11 (NKJV)
     11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

Genesis 50:20 (NKJV) 
     20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.

Neither Job nor Joseph knew, in the midst of their trials, the purpose of their trials. But the Lord recorded them so that we might “hear” of them. In them, we hear the primary message: “the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.” And in them, we learn to look to God for the same thing that He produced in them “perseverance.” May the Lord give us the perseverance of Job! 

The Danger of Hearts Fattened upon Temporal, Earthly Things, Rather Than upon Christ

James 5:1–8 (NKJV) 
     1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you.
     Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 

When one is “rich” (v1), he is in great danger of having his treasure (v3) or nourishment (“fattened,” v5) be in something other than Christ Himself. How dangerous! As we prepare to meet the Lord of Hosts (v4, 8), let us learn to have hearts that treasure Him and are nourished by Him (v8).

Is Your Guru's Mouth Full of Christ?

One of the features of my life (maybe I'll write a bit about my life one day; it's my personal blog, after all) is trudging back and forth past the front desk at the gym in order to prolong my time in the sauna non-lethally, by means of the one drinking fountain in the entire building.

Yesterday, over the course of five of these trips in one hour, one of the fitness instructors was regaling the very patient front desk staff with her sagacious counsel on every aspect of life, health, fruitfulness, and fulfillment. Maybe it's a fitness instructor thing. Her mouth was full. Full of ideas. Full of techniques. Full of motivations. But it wasn't full of Christ. How refreshing it was to return to the oppressive climate of the sauna and find the streams of the living water of Christ again in the little calfskin book!

God's mouth is full of Christ. And if you have an earthly teacher and example whom you follow, I hope his mouth is similarly full of Christ. Since ministers of the gospel are called to be such teachers and examples, let our mouths always be full of Christ!

I know a thing or two about a thing or two. But I have learned, over the years, not to have my mouth full of everything that I know (Pr 14:33, 29:11). One reason is that I don't want to create other avenues for resistance, when so much of the flock's health and growth relies (instrumentally under sovereign providence) upon how they receive my words. Another reason is that I don't want to weaken by diffusion the flock's resting upon Christ through His means by their attempting to do many wise things, however prudent and beneficial they may be. But the biggest reason is this: I hope for my mouth to be as full of Christ as possible. It's more aimed at than realized thus far, but I do wish to be able to say,

"I resolved to know nothing among you, except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified."

Ministers, too, have those whom they listen to and those whom they emulate. I hope that mine will be those whose mouths are always full of Christ. Christ Himself. The glory of His person and nature. The excellence and effectiveness of all His works. The sweetness and gladness of knowing Him. The restfulness and invigoration of serving Him. Whatever is of Him. Let it just be of Him!

Is your guru's mouth full of Christ?