tohu va bohu Posts

We are citizens of Christ’s kingdom, which is a heavenly citizenship at the moment (Philippians 3:20), with implications for our time on earth, while we pray for His kingdom to come (Matthew 6:10) and for Him to reign and to reward His saints (Revelation 11:18).

There is a remaining battle, but the outcome is secure. “They will make war on the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful” (Revelation 17:14). By His blood He ransomed us as a people for God, and has made us “a kingdom and priests to our God, and [we] shall reign on earth” with Him (Revelation 5:10).

Jesus is our King, and we anticipate the establishment of His reign at the right time. And Jesus is also our Head, which means we already are under Him, guided by Him, and connected to Him.

Our relationship to Him as King means that His authority has dignity and dominion. Our relationship to Him as Head means that His authority is natural and unforced, and also permanently attached. “The Head automatically belongs to the congregation as the mystical body. It is inseparable from it” (Kuyper, Pro Rege, 291).

God’s power was on display:

in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:20–23)

We are citizens, we are members. There is no body without a head. We could not function without being joined to our Head. We remember what brought us into that supernatural and inseparable fellowship around the Lord’s Table.

liturgy

It’s exciting that it’s almost time for elections. Our state’s primary voting is due Tuesday, and there’s a sense of optimism that maybe enough of “the people” are exasperated enough to vote for change.

Our republic system of government, wherein we have the opportunity (in most cases) to elect our leaders, is a fruit of freedom, and that freedom is a fruit of free men, and free men are a fruit of the gospel. It’s not that voting is a Christian principle per se, but representative authority is God’s own idea.

Plus, to be able to participate in the election of those representatives, and persuading others to vote, may feel a little less futile. There is a sense of possibility for better among us on the cusp of elections. Of course, it seems likely that some of the reason why it’s so crazy is because some powerful people are trying to mess with the elections. Apart from repentance, we certainly deserve more judgment, no matter how we vote.

But the two most important elections occurred before our lifetimes. If you are a believer, God elected You to salvation. Who can bring a charge against you now (Romans 8:33)? The governor can only ruin your business, and your breathing, but he can’t ruin your eternal reward and inheritance. The most important election is when God elected His Son to the throne. Loud voices declare the reality in Revelation 11:15, and God’s people have been singing about it ever since Psalm 2.

Kiss the Son lest He be angry. He will inherit the nations. God elects everything that happens, and this is good news. Worship Him in His sovereignty, and continue to put your hope in Him, even as you put the marks on your ballot.

liturgy

4 of 5 stars to On Education by Abraham Kuyper

Fantastic. A lot of gems, and even more guts in this collection of various articles and addresses from Kuyper over his long career of loving, defending, starting schools, and supporting Christian education.

Goodreads

There have always been controversies around the Lord’s Table.

As early as the second century one of misunderstandings, or misrepresentations, was that Christians were cannibals, or at least that’s how CNN reported it. Eating flesh and drinking blood sounds more like Scythian warriors. Of course when Jesus instituted the Supper He was using an analogy about faith, but that doesn’t stop the slander.

In the days of the Reformers there were fights over how Christ is present in the elements. Amidst the Great Awakenings there were debates about who was allowed to participate; many were baptized into membership but not allowed to partake, which played a part in Jonathan Edwards being fired.

And in our day there is a marketing campaign of fear that would be applied to us: we are spreading germs and a deadly virus by handling food and by encouraging so many people to be so close. If you attending a “birthday party could be a death sentence” for someone else, which is what our governor said recently, then certainly our little religious ritual would be called anti-science, and selfish.

We aren’t oblivious to risks. We also aren’t oblivious to our possible selfishness. But not a single local or national or international expert, whether politician or physician or statistician, has given us reason to trust them. They certainly cannot be trusted to unite us, and they offer no salvation through safety or by sacrifice.

Our fellowship is in Christ. He is completely trustworthy, and true. We are at His table again to share all that we have in Him.

Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. (John 6:54–56)

liturgy

Church, let us pray.

Two Sundays ago I talked about praying, in particular, the case of praying for common grace in our culture. One of the passages that I think commends that idea is the beginning of 1 Timothy 2.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior (verses 1-3)

The start of the next paragraph continues beating the same prayer drum.

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling. (verse 8)

These sorts of prayers should always be made. Consistently our elders include prayers for our government in their corporate supplication. I always pray for our nation and unbelieving neighbors in my corporate prayer of confession for similar reasons. We believe that it is an appropriate time, a more desperate time, for the whole body to be called to prayer, even fasting.

Next Sunday evening (August 2) we have a scheduled service. Though we haven’t finished our series on Kuyperian spheres due to canceled services over the last few months, we plan to continue and extend those messages in the fall. But the elders desire to call the whole church to pray this week and then all together next Sunday night.

It will be different than our previous corporate prayer nights. We will concentrate prayers on our nation, our state, on the executive and legislative and judicial branches, on the upcoming election for various offices and laws. We will pray for grace, for them, for us.

I plan to fast for breakfast and lunch Thursday through Sunday. I would encourage you to join me in making devoted effort to prayer. May God help us.


For reminders about fasting in particular, here are two messages I preached about The New Wine of Fasting – Part 1 and Part 2.

liturgy

4 of 5 stars to The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald

Do you need a magical story about cultural corruption and decay confronted by a thirteen year-old boy with a mattock and courage? If yes, then this is it. Having finished the Wingfeather Saga last summer, I have to believe that MacDonald lit some of Peterson’s creative sparks. I’m glad I read it, highly recommend it, even without reading The Princess and the Goblin. My biggest disappointment was not finding out more about the Uglies, which Peterson’s whole plot actually aims to redeem.

Goodreads

Many pastors are not good for very many things. I would definitely include myself among them. One of my favorite things to do in the world, and I think I’m fairly good at it, is line diagramming the Bible in Greek. I’m not around a lot of people who could tell me I did it wrong (ha!), and I’m not around a lot of people who could care less.

One way that many pastors justify their limited skills is by elevating their skills as the ones that please God the most, the best. Studying the Bible is not just part of their vocation, it is part of their virtue, and if you were really spiritual you would go to seminary so that you could study like that, too, or at least feel bad that you haven’t. It’s a Protestant version of sacred/secular, it’s also just a version of pride. It’s particularly ugly pride, though, because it is pride in Jesus’ name, when pride is a reason He came, a reason He came to be killed so that our pride could be buried with Him.

I’m throwing my sort to the foot of the cross because I want to remind you to do the same thing. When we commune with Christ and commune together, we do not have communion because we all care about or have skills for or devote time to the same things equally.

Spurgeon once said that if a man would harbor a lot of ships, he had to have a broad shore, meaning to care for a lot of people he must widen his heart. There is always a temptation for our hearts to become more narrow, and for our fellowship to become more exclusive. There are lines, doors, irreconcilable differences, and even cases of church discipline, sure. But as a body we don’t just patronize others because they have different responsibilities, gifts, windows for their work. We depend on them.

We need one another as much as ever, and thank God He has given us one another in Christ, “that there may be no division in the body” (1 Corinthians 12:25).

liturgy

One of the hazards of exhorting a church-full of believers to confess their sin every week is that I usually don’t give an exhortation about every possible sin and I know that not everyone has committed the particular sin receiving attention. If the net is too loose, nothing is caught, and if the net is too tight, it might just be dragging up junk.

I’ve been especially mindful about this recently because calling other people sinners, or at least calling them evil, is popular. There are numerous assumptions slung out in our society that others are wicked, and numerous calls for others to confess their wrongs, and those calls are manipulative lies. The exhortations themselves are sin.

Here’s one example, followed by an admonition to the flock.

You can’t open up the Kindle app these days without seeing ads for books related to racism and Black Lives Matter. One of the books I’ve seen promoted the most is called White Fragility; it’s good business and a lot of businesses are apparently using it for employee training. Here’s one review of the book by Samuel Sey, White Fragility Is Pro-Racism, with a variety of quotes from the book, and wow. The author says that you do not need to have hatred in your heart to be a racist, in fact, failure to think about how racist you are is itself damning evidence. You must be anti racist, meaning that you must acknowledge your indifference to how oppressive you are, by definition.

But remember that God defines sin, that while it is possible to sin without knowing it, it most certainly is not appropriate for me to call something sin that you don’t realize if God hasn’t said it.

So in the church, be careful calling other people liars when you don’t know if they are lying. Be careful calling other people cowards because they don’t stand at your spot on the wall. Be careful calling other people proud because they have chosen a time and place/person to fight. Be careful calling other people indifferent because they aren’t as cautious. There are choices, such as eating or not eating meat, that aren’t the kingdom (Romans 14:17). Paul both rebuked Peter for a crucial time when he didn’t eat (Galatians 2:11-14) and rebuked the whole Roman church for judging each other both ways (Romans 14:3).

There are no commands in the Bible about masks or political parties or locations for worship. There are many principles, and we want to be wise and bold and loving and do what is best, fully convinced in our own mind (Romans 14:5). But while you seek to be provocative, seek to do it in a way that does not falsely accuse your brothers.

liturgy

I don’t remember the first time I thought about the possibility of starting a college in Marysville, but as the years passed and conversations happened and then a committee was formed, the question of what to name a college became more pressing. I mean, how could we have a Facebook page without a name?

We talked a lot about it at home. I didn’t doodle a bunch of names on the back of a notebook, but I do have a text file with over a dozen options. Once the committee was called to decide if we should start something, and that decision was affirmed, we spent a few months brainstorming and collecting and criticizing our ideas.

Something with “Kuyper” certainly seemed appropriate. The work of Abraham Kuyper has been especially helpful in knocking down dualism for our church and K-12 school community. Christ claims every college course just as much as every square inch in the universe. But, there’s already a Kuyper College.

We thought about something like the (New) Free College, since Kuyper started the Free University of Amsterdam. But in our day “free” refers to cost, not free from State control as it meant to Kuyper. How about a synonym for free, without the socialistic baggage? What about Liberty? Ah, right, I already went there.

We also love Marysville. We’re devoted to our city and want it to be a destination of sorts, which is part of the reason for starting a college. But, Marysville College or, The College of Marysville seemed like just about the least creative effort we could make. So then what about things Marysville is known for? Other than the homely fact of not having anything our own, the only historical highpoint is our water tower, and geographically we are near Mt. Pilchuck. “Water Tower College” was a dry run, and how many Pilchucks do we need? I suppose there is always “Premium Outlets College.”

Then one of our board members did some digging into Marysville’s origin story. The founder of our city arrived in 1872, established the first hotel, the first store, the first post office, and started the first school. The best accounts say that he named the city after his wife, Maria. And his name was James P. Comeford.

That was it: Comeford College. We do have a local park called Comeford, and the water tower stands next to the park. But the name connects us to the city, to the city’s start, and to a man who started a number of things in the city.

Thus far we haven’t found any reason not to name the college after him; he apparently didn’t start the first brothel, or vape store, or casino. But again, we’re loving on where we’re from, and praying that this new institution will make Marysville even more lovely, more Kuyperian, and more educated.

enculturation

4 of 5 stars to The Man in the Dark: A Romance by Doug Wilson

Just finished reading my first romance novel. It had lies, envy, manipulation, murder, fornication, suspense, guilt, and gospel.

Goodreads