Thursday, November 30, 2023

On DW, KDY, Self-Owning in the Reformed Blogosphere, and Self-Owning in Our Own Lives

I chuckled as I typed "Reformed Blogosphere." It's a paper-weight sized snow globe—buried in the tiny pile of what is left of religion—in the cluttered attic that is America. The whole attic, taken collectively, has an inflated view of itself. But, even among men and history, it is not so big as it thinks it is. And before God, all of the nations are as a drop in the bucket.

If you don't know who DW is, you don't need to. There's nothing that he's said that hasn't been said better, by someone patently godlier, so that if the student will become like his teacher, you have better options. And if you don't know who KDY is, all you need to know for the purposes of this little note is that KDY made the "mistake" of writing an article about DW.

KDY noted that DW has a cultic following who follow DW's self-caricature in taking a flame thrower to anyone who critiques him. The article points out that as helpful as some of what DW has written might be, his fleshly demeanor and conduct should warn us off from becoming disciples, and that if we find ourselves attracted to that demeanor, then that should be its own warning sign about our own hearts.

Predictably, the DWdisciples immediately went scorched-earth, digging up things about the church that KDY serves, which predated him and which will outlast him unless the Lord grants a surprising reformation there. KDY is something that I am not, in part because his conscience apparently tolerates things in worship and ministry that mine wouldn't. So, this isn't a defense of KDY. It's just an observation that the response of the DWdisciples is something of a self-own. KDY said "this is how they tend to act." And they responded by acting that way.

True story: I was preaching on Rom 9:19–24 last night, roughly 24 hours after reading the KDY article. The introduction was crafted around the respondent in v19 thinking that he's come up with a such a clever argument, but that his presentation is actually such a revelation of his character that it ends up being a "self-own." I was very tempted to use DW as an illustration, because he's often had clever points to make (and only rarely are they as invalid as the rhetorical questioner in v19), but the cleverness of the point ends up being beside the point because his character is such that the presentation of it ends up being, before God, a self-own.

One great "tell" that we know little of the greatness and nearness of the Lord is that we still see ourselves (or anyone else) as very large. Genuinely knowing the nearness of the Lord will always compel us to make our lowliness known to all (cf. Phlp 4:5).

Another great tell that we know little of the greatness and nearness of the Lord is when first-table issues are smaller to us than second-table issues. When we obsess over statutes about how to treat each other but are largely unbothered by those laws of God that tell us what it is, specifically, to regard Him as holy when drawing near to Him.

DWdisciples rabidly attacking someone who says they tend to attack rabidly is a self-own. A sinner "finding fault" with God for finding fault with sinners is a self-own. Pride in a Christian is a self-own. Anything manmade or earthly in a church's worship is a self-own.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

The Need for Excellence in Worship—But What (Who!) Is the Excellence of Worship, and What Is it to Worship Excellently?

I was surprised to see an organization that I esteem promoting a conference on the need for excellence in worship that emphasizes music and aesthetics, featuring a hymn sing. 

I don't think anyone is for bad singing, bad lighting, casual dressing, slovenly grooming, or doing anything poorly in worship. But the excellence of NT worship is especially in heaven, and this is communicated by a simplicity on earth that says, "the great Excellence is in glory." 

In other words, "more outwardly attractive" is not the same as "more excellent," when God Himself has set for us the aesthetic of simplicity. NT worship is to be excellently simple in the congregation on earth

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.