Friday, October 31, 2008

Proverbia 2

Proverbs of Virgil

Sadness dwells alone
But encouragement has many friends.

Sadness has a way of rolling itselp up into a shell. Think of a potatoe bug. He is very sad. Aloneness, perhaps even more than loneliness, seems to be the domain of sadness. This is most especially true of there are not others in the immediate vicinty sharing the same sadness. If they are, then sorrow does have friends as well. Shared sorrows are a comfort.

Encouragement, on the other hand, makes many friends. Encouragement often fails in its aim to make one feel better, to move towards joy and happiness. The sad one is beyond being encouraged. The sorrow is too deep. The depressions is too far advanced. But encouragment still makes friends. When the sadness fades again into joy, the friendship of encouragement remains.

Exhortation-Civic Duty, Too

Our national election is this Tuesday, November 4. The talking heads have been reminding us now for nearly two years that this is the most important election that you have ever voted in. They continue on with various points as to why this is the most important election that you have ever voted in. Are they right? Is this the most important election that you have ever voted in?

Well, yes it is and why is this the case? It is the case because this is the duty that stands before you now. You cannot go back to the good old days. You cannot move ahead to the good days to come. You have your duty facing you right now and the duty that is facing you right now is always the most important thing that you can do.

Will the outcome of this election change the world that we live in? Perhaps. If the wrong man gets elected, will the free world cease to exist? No, not at all. Might God use this election to send us more chastisement? Likely, but that, too, would be a good thing. We all need regular chastening to remind us to be faithful, to be thankful and to be diligent in doing good.

So, what are the most important issues facing us today, tomorrow, Tuesday and Wednesday?

Today? Worship, love God and humble yourselves before Him. Enjoy Him now in practice for enjoying Him forever.

Tomorrow? Arise in the goodness of the Lord and get about your duties to Him, to your spouse, to your children and to your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Tuesday? The same as every other day, and do your civic duty, too.

Wednesday? To give thanks to the Lord, to pray for the President elect, to live quiet and peacable lives, working with your hands that you might have something to share with your brothers. Hoist a nice tankard of ale in thanksgiving to God that He has won the victory, again.

Elections, kings, presidents, come and go but the Word of the Lord and His Kingdom abide forever. Let us not fear man but submit ourselves to the One who really controls all of these things and means to use them to the glory of Christ in expanding His Kingdom to the utter end of the earth.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Communion Meditation-Imago Dei

John 17:20-23 20Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

The life of the Spirit is the life of community. This life of the community is the image of God. We were created in the image of God and that image, among other things, is the ability to have communion with God and with one another. To the extent that we have disunity with Him and with other human beings is the extent to which the image of God is marred in our midst.

Jesus prayed that we would display God’s image in our midst. This is the remaking of the world from that which was lost. Even in the garden, we see the fall of man and immediate disunion. Adam and Eve are hiding from God. They begin to blame others for their sins. Their son is at enmity with his brother. Discord and disunion become the paradigm of the life of man with man.

In the Trinity is perfect unity and diversity. In fallen man, diversity always creates disunity. Only in Christ can we once again find harmony and unity in diversity. This is what we do here in this meal. We are many, from many backgrounds, with many pre-conceived notions about God, about ourselves, the Church, worship, music, marriage, children and a host of other things. We are very different. But we celebrate that difference in Christ because to love others who differ with us is the exact thing that Jesus came to set right. Remember, I say, love them in Christ, because unity alone is not the goal. We cannot be unified outside of Christ and to be unified in Christ means to do what He says, obeying His Word.

We are many and we are one. This is God’s gift to us in Jesus and this is the truth that overcomes the world, even our faith in Christ and our love for one another.

Signs of the Times

Judging from the signs in my neighborhood, Obama will win in a landslide. His signs outnumber McCain five to one. But I don't think people always put their vote in the front yard.

Can't exactly remember the last time I put a politcal sign in my yard. I think it was when my friend, Paul Kimmel, was running for county commissioner in Idaho. He won.

I recently put a McCain/Palin sign in my yard. Republican headquarters did not have any Palin/McCain signs. I asked. I thought about putting the sign upside down with Palin at the top of the ticket but I figured my Obama loving neighbors might think I was trying to say 'down' with the ticket. So, I reluctantly put up my sign for McCain. I asked the Republicans if they had any Pro-life signs so I could make my choice of McCain/Palin more clear but in consistent cowardice, they didn't have any.

My sign disappeared last night. I found it down at the end of my walkway, torn in half and thrown in a pile of leaves. So, I went down to the Republican HQ and got two more. I suspect the angry Obama supporter to return, so I'll only put out one sign at a time. I'll tape by torn sign together and put it out, too. By the way, the signs are free now. They had been charging $2 for them.

The last few days before the election, I'll put up all the signs I have left just to give my bitter Obama loving neighbor a chance to work out their frustration on my signs.

I've heard some doom and gloom already from Christians, lamenting the sure retribution of an Obama victory. I intend to not particiapte in it, at all. I hope Obama does not win. But if he does so, I'll hoist a nice tankard of Ale to my commander in Cheif, the Lord Jesus Christ. I'll have a smile on my face and hope in my heart. He is able to lead us well. Of His Kingdom and Government, there shall be no end. Obama will come and go but the Word of the Lord will abide forever.

Palin and Guilt

I have tried to state clearly why I am voting for the Republican candidate for the first time since I voted for Ronald Reagan. The only answer is Sarah Palin. I know, we should vote for the man at the top of the ticket. And some of you are angry that we third party reform types would go weak in the knees at the threat of the Obamanation and vote for the Elephant. Well, wait a minute! Let me explain again.

I have no delusions that the Republicans will represent a Christian or even much of a Conservative cause. Economically, they cave too easily. While warning against the recent market meltdown, they did nothing significant to help educate America as to the folly of such policies employed to make Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae the dangers that they have become. At best, it seems, they put in a few words so that at the next election they could say that it wasn't their fault. But leading is more than getting elected. Now, in the midst of the meltdown, they offer the same sad solutions that the liberals offer, without standing on their own conservative principles. After all, you might here them thinking, there is an election going on.

On the moral issues, there are more Republicans than Democrats who oppose abortion and the homosexual agenda. We know that because these issues are now pretty much litmus tests for Democrats and you cannot get funded and elected without supporting the status quo. But the Republicans have acquiesced in the fight against these two immoral positions. They have been silenced in a culture where any dissent from the politically correct version is seen as hostile, intolerant, racist and neandrathral. But to stand against immorality is none of these things. Where are the Christian men and women Congressmen with backbones and hearts who still care about the truth?

Along comes Sarah. Why do they hate her so? No one has the guts to even say it. She gave birth to Trig. What does THAT say about an America that wants its women to act like men, including refusing to be responsible for the children that are created through their sexual acts? She represents principle, responsibility and life. Life, life for babies, life for Down's babies, life for children. THAT is what matters most, Christians!

We, too, have been silenced. We have been told that it is uneducated and a mark of a religious zealot to be a one issue voter. By whose standard! The liberals know that this one issue is the most important political demarcation between even HAVING a standard and not having one. We do have a standard. God hates abortion and He will not stand by idly while we continue to ravage our nation by killing millions of babies in the womb. National Review writer Kevin Burke has a great article on this point of natioanl guilt and the response to Palin here.

I am not arguing for Sarah so that we can get Roe v. Wade overturned in this next administration. That probably will not happen. What we do need,though, is revival in the hearts of American citizens. Sarah wakes up that realization. Some are very angry at her for it. Others mock her on other fronts because they will not even allow America's conscience to wake up to the fact that it has blood on it. They keep deflecting the issue, hoping it won't really be the issue. We need a moral rebirth. I take her candidacy as a blessing from a loving Father to show us our follies so that we might repent of them. Will we? Probably not, but I pray that we do so before God's mercy dries up and His exhoratations to repentance cease. Then we are really in for it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The New Creation

I hope by now it is very clear to us that we are in the new creation. We have in some way been inaugurated into the last days where the Lord Jesus is reigning until all His enemies are subdued beneath His feet. Of course, we do not yet see all things in subjection to Him, so we are going about the work of the kingdom until every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. It also seems clear that this kingdom work will not be done until the last of the last days when the Lord comes again to make the new heavens and the new earth perfect in the resurrection, revealing His bride without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.

Adam was in the garden and failed in his responsibility to adequately care for God’s creation. This had ramifications for all of us. One of the premiere and immediately recognizable ramifications was strife in the brotherhood. It began with Adam and Eve, themselves, as they began to make excuses before God, laying blame on others, pointing fingers. It was her, it was the snake.

And then it passed on to Adam’s children, Cain killing Abel, because he was envious of his brother. So, in due time, when God chose a people for His own, it was necessary for God to mark them out, to put a sign on them that they belonged to Him. And we see this in the days of Abraham, in the sign of circumcision.

Some argue that now we should not give the covenant sign to small children because they have not chosen to be God’s disciples in Christ. But was it ever so? Yes, for strangers. They could join themselves to the people of God through circumcision. But for the people of God, the sign was applied to all their infant boys at eight days old. They did not get to choose to be included in the people of God.

Furthermore, what was going on from the beginning, in the garden? Can we imagine what might have happened if Adam and Eve had not sinned? Would it have been necessary for God to mark out His own through circumcision? Likely not. All the children born of Adam and Eve would have walked in faith before the Father. All children would have been His and it would have been unnecessary to mark them in the foreskin of their flesh. This becomes clearer in the New Testament, when the requirement of circumcision is dropped and subsumed in the requirement of water baptism.

We should also keep in mind the normative pattern that was established in the creation and picked up in the covenant with Abraham and made explicitly clear in the New Covenant. We are children of our Father and this places obligations of faith and obedience upon us.

In the unfallen creation, Adam and Eve’s children would have grown up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. They would not have rebelled, nor had a reason to be kept from the trees of life. They would have had direct access to God, just as their unfallen parents did. Since they fell, the line of faithful children became suspect, mankind was in rebellion, and God had to step in to re-establish His covenant with man and delineate between who was His and who was not His. Once again, He created through water, separating the waters from the waters and revealing a new humanity in Noah and his family. Eventually, an earthly family that is to rule the world is revealed and promised in Abraham. That promise remained unfulfilled until the Lord Jesus was resurrected to rule the world with His innumerable host, the family of God, the Church.

Since God created the world through water, it is fitting that we are recreated through water, as well. The normative pattern is still working. Adam was to raise his children in the Lord. Abraham was to raise his children in the Lord and we are to raise our children in the Lord. In fact, in the Lord Jesus, the reversal of the fall makes this point all the more emphatic. As Adam’s unrebellious children would have perfectly followed God, so we would expect that the children of the new Adam would perfectly follow God. In an unfallen world, we would expect a one hundred percent success ratio in child rearing. All the children would love the Lord.

Christ is our second Adam, renewing, restoring and revealing the Kingdom of God on the earth. Jesus is the new Adam, the perfect Adam, the unfallen Adam. Remember that Adam, A-dam, means man, mankind. Jesus is the New Adam, the new mankind. He is remaking all that fell apart when Adam sinned. He is recreating mankind. He is restoring all things to the creation order. But He does this little by little, just as He revealed in the Scriptures. It is not accomplished all at once. So, it should not be problematic for us to see, for instance, that all the children of believers do not love the Lord. There are some exceptions. Some children fall away because the world is still a world in which sin dwells. Until the final resurrection, we will struggle with sin and the wars of our members. This will also be revealed in our children. But we should also expect God to be reshaping the world and the way that we think about and live in the world. The normative pattern of raising up our children in the Lord that was in the creation, lost in Adam, restored in Abraham and solidified forever in Jesus Christ, ought to be the way that we think about the world.

But I can anticipate an objection to this. If Christ is restoring that which Adam lost, someone might come to the conclusion that water baptism of babies and even of professing adults is unnecessary. Or perhaps simply unnecessary to the children of believers. They may come to this conclusion since we have no clear covenant sign between God and Adam. We do have a covenant meal with Adam but no clear covenant initiation rite.

Two possible initial covenant signs are the fact that man was birthed from the waters as the Spirit hovered over the face of the waters. And all children born from Eve and her children would subsequently be born through the waters of the womb. The second possibility is that man was formed from the dust of the earth. Man’s very nature as human, as dust men, may have been enough to covenant them to God. The third sign was the breath of man, having come from the breath of God. But all of these signs were normative signs, they were inherent in created living man, without the need for an additional external sign. Man was righteous in the beginning from the inside out. This image bearing nature was marred in the fall and restored in Jesus Christ. And now it is necessary for man to be renewed in his whole nature, so it is fitting that we can see this from the outward sign, circumcision or now baptism, and inwardly as the Spirit fills the man, making him a new creature in Christ.

But regardless of whether there was a clear covenant sign on Adam in the beginning, we have explicit language of the need of the covenant sign in the New Covenant. In fact, even when the Spirit falls upon believers in the New Testament, the response is not what modern evangelicals sometimes argue. Modern evangelicals might argue, “Why baptize them with water when they are already baptized with the Holy Spirit.” But in the Bible, the argument is “Who can refuse water the waters of baptism to such as the Spirit has chosen to fall upon?” Water baptism is necessary to mark the sons of the living God and the normative pattern in the Scriptures of both the creation and the covenant is that the children partake of it.

Thus, we gladly receive those that God has chosen and their children and we join hands with the Lord Jesus as He inaugurates a new humanity in the earth, bringing the little ones to Jesus that He might lay His hands upon them and bless them.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Election Day Prayer of Repentance

Our Father in heaven, we come to You to confess our sins. Our election of President is coming soon and our President will represent us. Father, forgive us that we are unable to place a godly choice before Your sovereign throne. May Your will be done.

We pray for Your mercy to our land. Remember Your saints, O God, and grant that we may live quiet and peacable lives in this land. Lead us to repentance in our homes and churches, forsaking our cowardly ways, comprising the word of God and not protecting Your people from false prophets and false shepherds. Renew Your people in their churches through faithful worship, the primacy of preaching and the authority of the Word of God. Make us boldly unapologetic for everything that You have said, for Your Word, Your Christ and Your Spirit are every bit true, though every man be found a liar.

Grant us repentance in the churches, the bloody churches, the effeminate churches, the compromised churches, the immature churches, the haughty churches and where we in this church fit into any of those groups, Father, grant us repentance.

We, in this church, are all Americans, and so, as citizens of this great and God blessed land, we are certainly guilty before You of forgetting that the Lord Jesus is King of the United States. We repent of this and submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom as the rightful ruler of these United States. America truly is great and this has been true by Your blessing. So, to the extent that we can do so, we humble ourselves and our nation before You, so that You can lift us up on high as a light set on a hill. Revive us, O Lord, in Christ’s Holy Name. Amen.

Exhortation-Election Day

Election Day is upon us. On November 4th, hopefully all of you that are eligible will cast your ballot. It is important for us to think about this correctly. What is our civic duty? How shall we act as citizens in voting and in submitting to the eventual outcome.

Do we deserve these candidates? Well, yes, most of them. I think we don’t deserve one of them and that is why I am voting for her. We live in a society that is full of itself. We have taught our children to be self-centered to the extreme for many generations now. We have taught them to be impatient, wanting the fruit of their rewards before they put in the hard work of their labors. To this extent, we have got in our leaders exactly what we have become in our homes and churches. The welfare state is merely what we have been demanding from our own parents for several generations. This should be no surprise. Spoiled citizens come from spoiled children. We really do need to put an end to both. And in this election, it seems that there is no candidate that will help us do that.

We must remember what more is at stake in this election. We have heard nothing about abortion in this election. We have heard nothing about the Sodomite agenda in this election. Why is that? It is because those who push these ungodly agendas have for the most part won the day. Conservative politicians and Christians have been shamed into silence. We must stop this cowardice at once.

Our current economic crisis is a fair warning from our Father in heaven that He hears the cries of the weak from the killing fields of the abortion clinics. He hears the lies of the homo-agenda-loving priests and pastors who call evil good and good evil. God hates these things and such men. And we should hate such wickedness in our land, as well.

I don’t know how you will vote. Certainly, voting for those who would positively promote the killing of children is directly contrary to Scripture. It is a sin. Don't do that.

I am imminently thankful to our God for putting Sarah Palin in a position where America is faced with the beauty, goodness and truth of embracing the life of a Down’s baby, baby Trig, and of helping her daughter embrace the child of an unplanned pregnancy that is immensely embarrassing and troublesome. In my opinion, this is more fair warning from God to America about doing what is good and right. I don’t think you have to cast a vote for the Republicans to be thankful to God for this. However, I am personally glad to vote for her and keep her in front of the remaining conscience of America and the world for as long as possible.

What we do need to do before this election day, is repent. Let us repent of our idolatries. Let us repent of our compliance and compromise in sin. Let us repent of our cowardice in speaking the truth, being fearful of men rather than fearing God. Let us ask for God’s mercy in this election and barring His mercy there, let us ask Him to bring repentance upon our land as we suffer under His chastisement.

Exhortation-Baptized Members

Today, we have the joy and privilege of a happy and important duty. We are receiving two households as members of Providence Church and we are baptizing seven children from four households. This is a most grand and exciting Lord’s Day.

In the exhortation to you on baptisms, I often tell you to remember your own baptisms as I baptize the child. What do I mean by this?

First of all, that you ARE baptized. You belong to the Lord. Furthermore, you must remember that God is your Father, the Lord Jesus is your King, the Holy Spirit is your teacher. Mixed in to all of this is a host of blessings and responsibilities. Think about them. Remember them. Where you have forgotten or been disloyal, repent and lay hold of Father, Son and Spirit as a true and faithful disciple.

Today, we also receive the Fergusons and Heids as members of Providence Church. I say to you, also, remember your own membership. You have promised to be good and faithful members of Providence, supporting the elders and deacons in their work, loving your fellow saints, esteeming them higher than yourself, sacrificing for them, committed to them by a solemn bond and oath before the living God and witnesses.

Again, if you have fallen in these oaths, having spoken ill of pastor, elders and deacons, having divided the body with complaining and grumbling, then stop that now. Repent of these false deeds. Renew your vows to the Lord in this church.

God is pleased to lavish His favor upon us. We rejoice with these families and these children. Let us commit ourselves to God and to them as we confess our sins before Him so that we might all stand before Him spotless in Jesus Christ.

Communion Meditation-Christ's Body

Each Lord’s Day we partake of the Lord’s Supper. We call the bread the body of Christ, thinking of Jesus’s body and we also call the Church the body of Christ, thinking of the bread as the one loaf that is the Church. Is this just a slovenly usage of language or does it reflect an actual reality? Certainly, we can see that those of us gathered here are not really the loaf that is laying on the communion table. Right? We think of the loaf as representing us just as we think of Christ being represented in the loaf.

In both cases, there is a reality that we must consider. The Church is the body of Christ and so the bread is both the church and the body of Christ. While all the parts are not equally interchangeable, the words DO reflect an important truth. Christ is the head of the Church, so He is part of the Church. The Church is the body of Christ, so she is one with Him. The body that is the Church is not separate from the head, nor is the head that is Christ separate from the body. Together, they are the body of Christ.

The Head and Body together make up the body of Christ. It is something more than simply saying that we are in Him and He is in us. In a very real way, we, as the Church, become Christ on the earth. That may make us a bit uncomfortable but it is both a glory and an immense obligation. God incarnated a man in Jesus and Jesus incarnates Himself in His Church, by His Spirit, in us.

There is a sense in which the very life of the Godhead is manifested in us, particularly made clear in the Eucharistic meal. The loaf is broken and eaten. The wine is poured and we drink it. So, the life of Christ is eaten by us and poured into us. While this is metaphor, it is more than that. This is a meal that we partake of by faith. And as we do so, we are exhibiting our faith in Christ to give us life, to animate us to the work that He has called us to do.

So, when we partake of this meal, we expressly do the Lord’s will. Doing the Lord’s will is our food just as it was the food of the Lord Jesus. In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

So, just as Jesus fed on doing the Father’s will, so, too, do we feed on doing His will. When we eat the bread and drink the wine, the Lord enables us to accomplish His tasks. We are joined to Him as those who believe His promises and proclaim His Lordship. We are also joined together as those who partake of the Lord’s will in community. This is very much more powerful than simply taking part with the Lord individually. In fact, the fact that we eat this meal as a community is a representation of and the actual presence of God’s Spirit in our midst. Our community, our communion reveals God the Holy Spirit in our midst. And revealing God in our midst, manifesting God on the earth and to the world, is the very task of the Church.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Time of Peace

A Time of Peace

At the table, in our home.
With the Lord and at His throne.
Fighting over; wrangles finished.
Rage and anger all diminished.

A time of peace; a time of love
No place for war; no place for hate.

In the assembly of the just;
No division, no unrest.
Favor others, step aside.
In this time of peace abide.

A time of peace; a time of love
No place for war; no place for hate.

Who holds his brother in derision,
The Church has split through his division.
One Lord; one faith.
Let fights abate.

A time of peace; a time of love.
No place for war; no place for hate.

Eat the bread and drink the wine.
The body, blood; the man divine.
Jesus died and we in Him.
In Christ renewed; birthed again.

A time of peace; a time of love.
No place for war; no place for hate.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Who is Your Savior?

We are in uncertain times. We daily endure more reports of banks and insurance companies in trouble. Many conservative minds are now saying that the economic situation is dire. Our President, Congressman and Senators are all warning of potentially calamitous events. Businessmen to the likes of Warren Buffet warn that even a $700 Billion government bailout may not be enough to keep back the economic Tsunami that is engulfing us.

Conservatives have been saying for a long time that these difficult times would come. We politically conservative Christians often nodded along with them, hoping for some wisdom to be applied to the government's never ending escalation of spending. But times were good and we, along with the rest of America, grew fat and sassy.

Certainly, America has been a wildly successful nation. We have been the most productive country in the history of the world. But we have also forsaken our first love. We like our things, our wealth, our ease. And we Christians are far richer and far more influenced by our affluence than we like to admit.

Maybe we will end up in a disaster. Recession? Who cares? But what if we end up in a 1930’s like depression or worse? Or perhaps this will simply turn out to be a big and needed market correction and we will simply have to get by with a reduced retirement plan.

But one thing is for certain, we need a correction. We need perspective. We need to love God more than our money. We need a Savior and it is not the Government, or Wall Street. Our Savior is Jesus and His Kingdom and His government is going to survive all the fuss just fine.
Let us confess succumbing to the fear mongers around us and let us place our hope in the only place where hope should be placed, in our God and His Son and resting in the grace and peace of the Holy Spirit.