The Soundtrack of Scripture

April 24, 2012
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This is something you’ve got to read! Kevin DeYoung does such a great job explaining the whole of the Old Testament that I felt it only right to post the link and allow you to dive right in. Enjoy.

Apr 24 2012

Kevin DeYoung|5:51 am CT

The Old Testament Is a Story of Providence

The story of the Old Testament is nothing if not a story of divine providence. On every page, in every promise, behind every prophecy is the sure hand of God. He sustains all things, directs all things, plans all things, ordains all things, superintends all things, works all things after the counsel of his will.

This is not a small theme in the Old Testament. Providence is not merely an implied truth, deduced from a handful of obscure passages. No, the doctrine of divine providence is the soundtrack of Scripture. It is everywhere present even if at times you are not consciously aware of it. Like the book of Esther where God’s name is never mentioned but everything from a beauty contest (2:18) to a king’s insomnia (6:1-3) serve to advance God’s purposes. The God of the Bible is a big God who does not leave things to chance. He does not simply react; he predestines. He does not merely turn hard situations for our good; he ordains hard situations for our good. Our God is never confused and never caught off guard. His will, to quote Augustine, is the necessity of all things.

What is Providence?

Here’s what I mean by providence: “Providence is the almighty and ever present power of God by which he upholds, as with his hand, heaven and earth and all creatures, and so rules them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty—all things, in fact, come to us not by chance but from his fatherly hand” (Heidelberg Catechism Q/A 27).

Don’t’ miss all that the Catechism is saying. God’s power is almighty and ever present. That means it is limitless and boundless. In God all things live and move and have their being. Our God rules heaven and earth and all creatures in such a way that whatever befalls them—success or failure, blessing or adversity, life or death—no matter what comes and no matter the situation, nothing around us or to us or about us is the product of random happenstance. As Christians, we can be confident that all things come to us from the wise hand of our loving heavenly Father.

The God of Sovereign Sway

In the Old Testament, we see again and again that nothing is outside God’s control or his foreordination. The heavens and the earth were created because God said so. The floods came because God sent them. Sarah had a baby because God promised. Joseph was sold into slavery because God had a plan. The Israelites escaped Egypt because God delivered them. They inherited the promised land because God was with them. They were shipped to Babylon because God wanted to punish them. And the exiles returned because God stirred up the heart of King Cyrus to let them go.

Or consider the book of Job. In the first chapter, Satan is given permission to ruin Job’s life. So in one day Job gets four dreadful messages.  The Sabeans destroy the oxen and donkeys and their servants. A fire burns up the sheep and their servants. The Chaldeans make a raid on the camels and kill them. Worst of all, a wind storm rips through the oldest son’s house and all of Job’s children are killed. Now who is behind all this? Certainly Satan is to blame. Certainly the Sabeans and Chaldeans must be held responsible. Natural disasters also played a role. But somehow sending it all and behind it all-as the planner but not the doer of all these things-is God himself. Which is why Job’s response after these four reports is to confess: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (1:21). Later he cries out, in the midst of unthinkable pain and unbelievable faith, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him” (13:15).

People frequently struggle with suffering in the Old Testament and ask “Why?” There are many bewildered cries for help and not a few cries of despair. The Old Testament is full of lamentation. God’s people often struggle to understand what God is doing or why he has done what he’s done. But you never find God’s people concluding that God is not the sovereign hand appointing their struggles. The pain may be debilitating or the circumstances shocking but the assumption is still the same: this is from the hand of God. However much they struggle to make sense of suffering they never make sense of it by minimizing the sovereignty of God. When famine strikes the land of Judah and Naomi loses her husband and her two sons she says in her anguish, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me” (Ruth 1:20). She may struggle to see God’s purpose, but she does not doubt this was his plan.

The God of the Old Testament (and the New Testament for that matter) is a God with absolute power and sovereign sway over all things. “The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the people” (Psalm 33:10). “He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; he sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses” (Psalm 135:7). He shuts the mouths of lions to preserve the righteous (Dan. 6:22) and unleashes lions to judge the wicked (2 Kings 17:25). He hardens hearts (Exodus 14:17; Joshua 11:20).

God cannot sin. He is not the author or actor of evil. But we mustn’t say he simply allows for certain events to take place, even events full of sin and suffering, as if God had nothing to do with the cross (Acts 4:27-30) and has nothing to do with most of what transpires in our world. The sovereign will of God is more all-encompassing that we might imagine.

•    ”God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem” (Judges 9:23). •    ”Now the Spirit of the Lord has departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him” (1 Samuel 16:14). •    ”I am the Lord and there is no other.  I form the light and create disaster; I bring prosperity and create disaster; I the Lord do all these things” (Isaiah 45:6-7). •    ”When disaster comes to a city has not the Lord caused it” (Amos 3:6).

Even death is in the Lord’s hands.

•    ”The Lord brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up” (1 Samuel 2:6). •    ”There is no other god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life. I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand” (Deuteronomy 32:39).

From the big pictures to the tiniest details, the Old Testament teaches that God guides all our steps.

•    ”The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Prov. 16:33). •    ”A man’s steps are directed by the Lord.  How then can anyone understand his own way?” (Prov. 20:24). •    ”I know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his step” (Jeremiah 10:23). •    ”All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16).

Our God, Daniel says, “does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth” (Dan. 4:35). And in Isaiah the Lord declares: “I am God, and there is no other; I am God ant there is none like me.  I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times what is still to come.  I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please” (Isa. 46:9-10). God is God because he  has the power to do what he wants, the wisdom to carry it out, and the sovereign authority to immutably appoint whatsoever shall come to pass.

Power with a Purpose

But we must not forget that providence is more than the raw exercise of power. It’s certainly true that God has power and authority and sovereign sway over all things. But the doctrine of providence goes one step further and asserts that all this power and authority and sovereignty is for us. It comes from a loving Father who intends to do good for his children. It’s like that line from Chariots of Fire where Eric Liddel’s father remarks to a skeptic that God may (in a manner of speaking) be a dictator, but “Aye, he is a benign, loving dictator.” The power of providence has a benevolent purpose.

So how does the knowledge of providence help us? According to the Catechism, the answer is threefold: “We can be patient when things go against us, thankful when things go well, and for the future we can have good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing will separate us from his love. All creatures are so completely in his hand that without his will they can neither move nor be moved” (Q/A 28).

Let’s look at each of these three points with an eye to the Old Testament.

(1) “We can be patient when things go against us.”

Providence is not only believing that God is the one writing the world’s history, it’s also trusting that he is writing our story. And it’s a good story. When Joseph was in prison, when baby Moses was floating down the Nile, when Haman was plotting to kill the Jews who could have known what good God had in store for his people? But he always did, and always does. Can you find a story in the entire Old Testament of someone in great trouble who trusts in the Lord who finds out that their trust was in vain? Abraham, Joshua, Rahab, Ruth, David, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Daniel—the list goes on and on of godly men and women who trusted God in the midst of trial and discovered that providence was on their side.

No one can tell you exactly how things will turn out for you. I wish I knew when your crazy hard situation would turn around. But I don’t. No one does. But what we do know from the Bible is that God is writing a good story for you. Can you believe that? Do you trust him? You may say, “I’m in the middle of a terrible chapter. He has written a rotten plot twist into my life right now.” And that may be. The Old Testament is full of people lamenting such plot twists. But do not lose your patience. Do not lose heart. The story is not over. This is not the final chapter. God is a skilled Author and we can be sure he has penned a happy ending for us.

(2) “We can be thankful when things go well.”

Have you ever noticed there are a lot of songs and a lot of altars in the Bible? In the earliest days of Israel’s history the people made an altar when God did something amazing. At other points the people stopped to sing a song. The point was the same. When God’s people saw things going well for them they knew God was the reason. Of course, they forget that at times and assumed their bravery and their power were the causes of their success. But whenever the people or the kings were walking with the Lord, they were immensely grateful. They understood that good times were not just the product of wise leadership or a strong economy or brilliant military strategy. Their good times were God times, times where God in his providence had chosen to be transparently kind to them. God is always kind, but sometimes his kinds is especially obvious. It’s in these moments that the doctrine of providence reminds us to be thankful.

If you love the sovereignty of God, you should love to say thank you. Calvinists should be the gladdest people on the planet because we have more reasons to be grateful than anyone else. We know that no gift is an accident. No good thing comes to us by chance. Blessings are never the last link in a chain produced by libertarian free will. If you have a job it’s from God. If you have a family they’re from God. If you have a good church, that’s from God. If your life is made better because of cats or dogs or pizza or popcorn or ice cream or another birthday or new clothes or new friends or new health or a new baby, then give praise to God for he gave them to you. He’s better than Amazon. He gives you packages of new mercy every morning and the shipping is always free.

(3) “For the future we can have good confidence in our faithful God and Father.”

Some of us know the Bible so well that we’ve lost wonder at what God really does for his people. We read Genesis 3:15 and God’s promise that a child from Eve will crush the serpent and we think, “Cool, that’s Jesus.” But we forget that God’s people lived with that promise unfulfilled for thousands and thousands of years. We love the story of Joseph, but don’t think about how he felt during all those years where his life seemed utterly ruined. We recall the promise to Abraham that he would be a great nation and get excited for our Sunday school lesson about trusting God, but don’t appreciate that Abraham and Sarah waited decades for their child to come and then they almost had to kill him and then Isaac’s twins go nuts on each other and then Jacob can’t get things figured out with his wives and then his sons keep acting stupid and then the family almost dies from famine and then comes slavery in Egypt and later exile in Babylon and along the way the line of David is almost snuffed out by Queen Athaliah and later the prophets seem to go silent and then the voice in the wilderness is killed by Herod and finally the would be Messiah gets crucified. At no point did the promise to Abraham look like a sure bet. It never looked like a done deal.

And yet here we are, children of Abraham, children of the promise, children of providence. God has been at work all along guiding, prompting, leading, steering, carrying out his purposes. And he will do the same for us. God is our Father. You are his son or daughter. He loves you. He wants you to grow up and be a mature man or woman. Like any parent, he only wants what is best for you. And unlike every other parent, he always knows what is best.

God Is Great, God Is Good

Don’t be afraid of the future. Don’t be anxious about trials. And don’t be nervous about blessings either, as if God will eventually wake up, realize you’ve been drinking spiritual Mountain Dew your whole life and start giving you spiritual broccoli to eat. Don’t worry that he’ll start balancing the scales to give you a little more suffering. There is no balancing of the scales with God. That’s the thing about providence. Our heavenly Father is always for us. He doesn’t make you pay for the fun stuff in your life with more and more pain. He’s only interested in your good, always interested in your good. He doesn’t vacillate between loving you and loathing you. His affections are set upon you and his providence is fixed upon your spiritual well being in Christ. That’s the story of the Old Testament and your story too-no matter what you’re chapter is like and how you would have written it differently.

Our God plans our way and gets his way. And his ways are always good.



Logical Argument vs Logical Fallacy

April 16, 2012
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As I perused a website, I came across a photo that really caught my attention. It quickly became clear to me that the Christian community and the science community can share the same view when it comes to a certain topic, and yet have a gulf wide difference using the same information as it pertains to another topic.

Logical arguments are arguments that cannot be argued without coming off as illogical, absurd, and intentionally stubborn. There are plenty of topics that both communities would agree upon and see no distinction. This is a good thing. Why? Because some folks may believe that Christianity and Science have never agreed on anything….and that is an incorrect view. Logical fallacies are arguments that are made with incorrect data stemming from illogical conclusions possibly under the guise of thinking one is right, and wanting the other person (or group) to agree. This is common between both communities because they hold to two different worldviews: one being supernatural and God-centered; the other being materialistic.

So as I share this photo with you, please be aware that the top sentence presents a logical argument that both agree upon. And the bottom sentence presents a topic that both disagree upon solely due to logical fallacies that are taught and proprogated throughout the “learned” schools, and sadly in homes and state agencies.

Yes the pro-life and pro-choice argument is a hot topic, and may never be resolved. I understand that. I’m perfectly fine with that. And I expect that. However, I do hope that people stray from erecting logical fallacies just so they can say they are right. It’s better to be say I don’t have a good reason for why I think what I do, I just do. I assume more respect would be granted that person.

Deo Volente

I’ll See Your Matthew 7 and Raise You….

April 13, 2012

“Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” said the author of the book of Judges. And we’re still saying that now. But there’s a huge problem now. Israel didn’t have king at that moment to act as judge. We have supreme courts left and right, and we even help to vote for our judges. But the problem is much deeper.

Our society over the years has played with epistemology of judgement. We have exhausted the basic understanding of the word, and replaced it with subjective and relative understandings under the guise of “to each his own.” But without an objective absolute, it leaves us inept to determine what is truly judging.

Only God can judge me is now the oft-quoted phrase thrown out. And those who say it are absolutely right. God is the final judge and He will judge. But the buck doesn’t stop there. Our own supreme court judges have every right to judge you. As do other court judges withhold that right. But Jesus is God, so He too will judge as John 5:22 makes clear, “the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son.” But the Spirit is God, so He too will judge as John 16:8-11 makes clear, “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”

So it is clear that the Trinity will judge. The word of God also judges as Hebrews 4:12 makes painfully clear, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” And it is because the word of God, aka the Bible, also serves as judge over mankind that we are able to use it for that very purpose. And it is here that we find the objective absolute definition of judging.

I’ve had some conversations with people, some Christian and some not, where it turned to a heated debate over not judging people. Ironically enough it was over Tiger Woods when his scandal hit the media frenzy, which led to his extremely private announcement/apology with some media and his mom present. In hindsight, there were so many issues with this discussion it’s not even funny. They judged me for judging him. I judged them for not judging him. They judged me for not obeying Matthew 7. I judged them for not understanding Matthew 7. And so on.

And so I now say to those who are so quick to quote that one liner in Matthew 7, I’ll see your Matthew 7 and raise you THE BIBLE. Why do I say that? Because the entire Bible is full of God judging people, and people judging people. Yet our society that plays fast and loose with terms likes to determine who can do what and when and how far. And too many of these people would refer to themselves as Bible-believing Christians. But in fairness, I don’t think they read the very book they claim to believe.

In the garden of Eden, God judged Adam and Eve and kicked them out of the garden. Would anyone say He went too far? No. As Noah’s sons disobeyed God, He judged them by scattering them all over the earth. Too far? Sarah judged Hagar because she didn’t like how Hagar looked at Sarah and treated Ishmael. So Abraham sent Hagar and his firstborn away! Moses got himself involved in a fight and judged who was wrong and killed an Egyptian. Look at Exodus 2:13-14. God judges Pharoah with plagues. God judges his people by giving them the Law abstaining them from living like the rest of the people. Fair? Yes. Too far? No. God kills the idolaters who worship the golden calf as He writes out the Ten Commandments. God judged Nadab and Abihu for incorrectly offering incense and entering the  temple. God judges Moses and kills him, then makes Joshua the leader. God judges all the inhabits of the promised land and kills them off so that His covenant people could inherit it. Too far? Saul judges David and seeks to kill him on several occasions. Samuel judged Saul for not heeding his command to be patient. God judges David and tells him to not build him a temple. God judges his people numerous times and sends them into exile. God judges his people and returns them back from exile. God and Job’s friends judged Job, and we all know what happened to him.

Ah, but that’s the Old Testament. Nobody knows that stuff. Or…..that doesn’t apply to us now. Show me some New Testament passages. Your wish I am happy to oblige.

Matthew 7:15-21 is a great passage to study. Let’s skim over it now: beware of false prophets…you’ll know them by their fruits (evil actions)…every tree that doesn’t bear good fruit is cut down and burned…so beware. Matthew 18:15-20 is also a great passage to study. The content is judging a sinner and how to handle the person. If they repent, forgive and restore. If they refuse to repent to everybody, throw them out the church. John 7:24 is part of 7:1-53, but the verse is pertinent to our discussion. “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgement.” In Acts 5, Peter judged Ananias and Sapphira for lying to the Holy Spirit and there they fell and died. In Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul gives quite the list of folks who will not enter heaven based on their behavior during this life. And one chapter earlier, he gives us a great scope of judgement to remember and apply. “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.”

I could go on but I’ll just list a few passages for you to read later: 2 Cor 13:5; Gal 2:11-14; Eph 4:32; Gal 6:1-5; Phil 2:3-4; 1 Thess 5:21-22; 1 John 4:1-3; 1 Tim 5:1-2; and 1 Cor 12-14. These show the wide gamut of issues that we are to properly.

So now longer should we ‘quickdraw’ others with thejudge not lest you be judgementality. Let us consider all that the Bible has to say on the matter and seek to be fair, honest, Spirit-led, and loving. In my previous example, I definitely acted like a noisy gong so I know I offered not one fragrant aroma that was pleasing to God during that discussion. I pray that won’t be said of you.

Deo Volente

Public Schools – Remodeling?

April 12, 2012
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As I think of remodeling, I typically think of starting fresh from the ground up. This is a necessity for a myriad of reasons. So as the public school system is discussed in this blog, it’s best to keep in mind my first sentence lest you lose sight of what I’m saying.

Most public schools are built from some system of philosophy. There is some main system of thinking that permeates that school from top to bottom, whether all the teachers are aligned with it or not. So this is where the discussion must begin. In the case of remodeling public school, I favor the process of shutting them down completely. Sounds harsh I know, but I shall give you my reasoning behind it.

The public school system is designed to indoctrinate the kids who are not able to attend private schools. The system is offered free to all who would like to attend. The system is governmentally controlled and funded. The system is designed to limit the parents’ involvement in the teaching scope of things, but lean on them for help in a social club manner (PTA). And the system’s screening process of textbooks along with teachers is in disarray.

Let’s start with indoctrination. First off, everybody does it. Everybody is for it. So that big technical term shouldn’t throw you off to immediately disregard my argument. The question asked must be, what philosophy is being taught to the kids? And the answer is….whatever the teacher wants it to be as long as it’s not ‘religious’ in a strictly Christianity speaking kind of way. Carpe diem is often taught by the faculty. Sounds fine, doesn’t it? Telling kids to seize the day (or moment) is great, but not without borders, which is often left out. So add borders, you say? Well the therapeutic style of teaching that has dominated the system for over 50 years, if not longer, doesn’t particularly like the ‘borders’ approach.

How about the ‘whatever philosophy you care to accept as long as it’s not Christian-based’ mentality? If you think that’s not in the public schools, you are sadly mistaken. Evolution is king in the system. You are your own gods. Master of your fate; captain of your soul. You control your destiny. That residue of ‘survival of the fittest’ oozes out of the teachers and aides onto the students. It even creeps into churches. For example, I attended a church that advertised this slogan as Christian: “my attitude determines my altitude.” Really? Where does it implicitly or explicitly say that in the Bible? (Feel free to run to your trusty concordance, but you’ll never find it). This indoctrination philosophy is so skewed that it screams out tolerance on one end, while screaming out ‘NO’ to Jesus on the other end.

But public school is free! Right. And when you get something for free, you are expected to think that you have zero right to complain. What’s expected of parents is to drop their kids off on time, dress them appropriately, make sure they taught their kids to mind their manners and do whatever the teacher says, sit still in class, pick them up on time, and help them do their homework at home without any questions. And that expectation is part of the unwritten code that’s passed out to parents when they initially sign up their kids. So because it’s free, then parents have no right to complain. After all, these teachers are doing parents a favor by teaching their kids, so the parents should be grateful. Am I the only one who’s heard this spew from a teachers mouth? So with free things like education, you just have to be thankful for what you get.

The system is funded and controlled by the government. Enough said. No seriously, that is enough. Parents don’t want the government telling them how to raise their kids but they’ll allow the government to tell them how their kids ought to be educated. The government also makes the rules on who can teach and for how long. Now the statewide tests are being implemented to (weed out) see which teachers are making the grade. So some of the “tenured” teachers are no longer untouchable (thank ya Jesus) but are held to the same standard as the rest of the faculty. And here comes those teachers who really don’t teach kids, rather they institute a cheating signal system for those state tests so as to keep the percentile where they must be in order for principals and teachers to remain employed. Enough said.

And because the government gets to make all the rules for these kids, guess whose legal guardian rights are minimized? The parents. The parents are for all intents and purposes shown a blueprint for how things will go at the school, and then shown the door under the guise of an open door policy. The system doesn’t abide by the ‘customer is always right’ philosophy. No no no….because there are experts on deck at these schools. And these experts know what’s best for these students. Getting the parents out of the teachers way is what’s best. But they are still needed in some fashion, so the social club is targeted to round-up all the parents to help organize a few things.

I have had the pleasure of being around at least 12 different elementary, middle, and high schools in my city so I am what some would call an ‘expert’ to discuss this. The textbooks are very poor and some are even inaccurate. I do not know how these textbooks are selected, but I can tell you that some of them don’t have correct information in them. I can also tell you that some of them are extremely old. Update textbooks seem almost impossible to come by considering the government would rather put teachers to the fire so as to fire them if they can, instead of giving ‘our future’ the most update and accurate information.

This is why I call for a public school withdrawal and destruction. The structure is bad. Do I think running a campaign of ‘woe is me’ from teachers or ‘well if more parents would step up and help’ from teachers or ‘if they’d stop making all these kids pass the state tests’ from faculty is the answer? No. We are missing the point if we think that a few addendum to the already dysfunctional system is going to correct it. We are missing the point if we think that charter schools are the answer. If the structure is to remain intact, while the interior is simply redecorated over and over again, then we can expect to continue to produce the low academic stats currently that have many states conceding to sending kids to school year round.

Should Easter & Good Friday Get Its Own Service?

April 8, 2012
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As Good Friday has come and gone, and Easter is but only hours away, I endeavor to share my thoughts with you all while risking the label of outcast. With that in mind, I do want to state upfront that I do cherish the biblical importance of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I try often to celebrate it, as I’m sure most do, outside of Good Friday and Easter. But I’m now questioning a few things.

I’ve had the luxury of spending a great deal of my Christian life in churches that typically share the gospel every Sunday morning. That is no small thing. I do know of churches that cannot say the same. (I also know of churches leadership that cannot clearly describe the gospel.) So as Sundays come and go, the gospel of God about Jesus Christ is presented to believers and non-believers alike on a frequent basis. And being that I’m in the Southern Baptist circle, that frequency of sharing (though sometimes added on as a wrap up) is readily noticeable.

And because the gospel is clearly presented, one can assume that the death and resurrection of Jesus as the main components are being constantly mentioned. Notice I said the death and resurrection are being mentioned. And most Reformed churches in America proudly state how every sermon leads to the cross. There are perhaps even non-Reformed churches that would say the same. As this is contemplated, one must ask what is celebrated and discussed on both Good Friday and Easter. Could it be the death and resurrection of Jesus respectively?

Again, I’m not knocking churches that have extravagant blowout services for Easter or double services for the ‘overflow’ of people who come. I’m also not knocking churches for having joint services for Good Friday. I just wonder why churches who say they preach the death and resurrection of Jesus on a faithful basis feel the need to make a big brew-ha-ha about it as the dates roll around on the calendar?

I’m aware that some scholars have addressed this in their own discussions over the type of worship they favor, namely the normative side versus the regulative side. That’s not my argument here necessarily. I just want to present a few thoughts I’ve had over the last couple of days.

Gathering on a Friday evening to mainly discuss the extent of the death of Jesus is wonderful, but is it necessary? Gearing up children (often unconverted) to sing Easter songs and read Easter speeches along with the adult choir’s a&b selection, creating man-centered worship, and other sometimes outrageous things added to the worship order, all to be followed by a sermon that mainly focuses on the death and resurrection of Jesus is both great and not all that wonderful, and surely isn’t necessary.

So I’m left to ask, should the church create two special services? Would it be so bad for the church to recognize the calendar in their announcements, and proceed to preach the sermon they had scheduled?

Now I’m well aware that this may come across as being against tradition, but why should that be a bad thing. Tradition shouldn’t be the norm and starting point. Tradition has at few points hurt the church. Going against the grain as long as it’s within the bounds of Scripture is a wonderful and necessary thing a church must do. Weighing why we worship the way we do has everything to do with what we believe the Bible informs us to do. And the culture will be impacted with the church’s decision….believe that. One’s attendance number and applause after every song and number of camera flashes on Easter Sunday does not equate plausible reasoning for having a special service nor success. It certainly does not resonate true worship as having taken place.

Let us always be willing to consider our worship and why.

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Oh My, That’s Not How You Learned Christ

April 3, 2012
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In the last few weeks, I have undergone several challenges yet have managed to wade my way through them. And when I say wade, I really mean admit my inabilities. I also celebrated my birthday, though I don’t feel one iota different. In the midst of all that has taken place, I simply want to post some scripture (from Ephesians 4) that continues to set me ablaze.

17 Now this I say and (AR)testify in the Lord, (AS)that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, (AT)in the futility of their minds. 18 They (AU)are darkened in their understanding, (AV)alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to (AW)their hardness of heart. 19 They (AX)have become callous and (AY)have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you (AZ)learned Christ!— 21 assuming that (BA)you have heard about him and (BB)were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to (BC)put off (BD)your old self,[f] which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through (BE)deceitful desires, 23 and (BF)to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on (BG)the new self, (BH)created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

May this passage warm you.

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