Polka, Pirates, and Pontification

*I know I have not posted anything substantial for over two weeks. This post won’t change that. But a number of things around the internet stood out to me here on Reformation Day/Halloween that are worth posting to the Void if for no other reason than so I can find them later myself.

Paul Lamey shares the must-see Reformation Polka as well providing some links and ideas to get your Reformation day party started.

Albert Mohler explains the deal with Halloween.

Tim Challies made a good case last year for leaving the light on. This year he’s collected a passel of Reformation Day posts.

A couple years ago I wrote a few Reasons for Remembering the Reformation and then preached through the five Solas and five Reformers. The notes for those messages are not available but the audio is. And here is my list of Recommended Reformation Resources.

Changing tunes, my wife pointed this out as well, but if you happen to have a knitted turtle in need of a costume, look no further than Captain Knack Sparrow. Quite an elaborate creation and entertaining story by my sister.

Finally, though it is significantly less important than Luther’s 95 Thesis, if I were to nail something on a door today it would be the following rant: How can my local “Christian” radio justify playing Christmas songs already? On my drive home this afternoon I was almost asphyxiated when I heard “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” Are you kidding me? I thought Christmas music on Thanksgiving was early, but this is senseless. I don’t even think Johann Tetzel would approve.

The Art and Discipline of Ignoring

Mark Driscoll posted about our beeping, ringing, and vibrating merciless sovereign gods [link no longer good]. Key quote:

[T]here is a new spiritual discipline of fasting from technology to be mastered [so that] we can enjoy the life and people that God puts in front of us rather than ignoring them while we peck away with our thumbs and chat about nothing, which in the end is rarely as important as the people we are ignoring all around us.

In other words, you can identify what’s most important to you by what you ignore.

Miracle Mug

In July I made one purchase at our World’s for Sale. I affectionately call it my miracle mug.

The glory:

*

The guts:

*

In case you’re uncertain, the caption reads: “Enjoy the miracle of each new day” to which I would add an exclamation point! Consider how many Bible stories this 10¢ cup communicates:

  • the rainbow references the flood
  • the through-way illustrates crossing of the Red Sea on dry ground
  • the clean outside and dirty inside pictures the Pharisees
  • the “each new day” line reminds one of the morning mercies of coffee

If you think about it, it’s like a wordless cup…with words. I still pinch myself each time I use it. Perhaps one of the times I’ll pinch myself so hard that the cup will fall and shatter. And be assured, that future joy is preceded by the current joy of being able to delete these pointless photos off my iPhone.

Aspiring to Seek His Help at All Times

A cold “blog booger” on a paper plate collected some sentences from Calvin about God’s being due our adoration, trust, invocation, thanksgiving. I was laid low especially by my need for invocation, “the habit of the mind, whenever necessity presses us, of resorting to His faithfulness and help as our only support.”

Puritanic Rigidity Is not the Problem

Series | The Lord’s Day

Charles Spurgeon once wrote,

Ah, sirs! there may have been a time when Christians were too precise, but it has not been in my day. There may have been such a dreadful thing as Puritanic rigidity, but I have never seen it. We are quite free from that evil now, if it ever existed. We have gone from liberty to libertinism. We have passed beyond the dubious into the dangerous, and none can prophesy where we shall stop. (quoted by MacArthur, Ashamed of the Gospel, p.87)

Even though Spurgeon was specifically confronting the church’s general lack of holiness in the Down-Grade, I think the quote applies equally well to our modern day disregard for the Lord’s day.

Perhaps we don’t value the Lord’s day because for all our talk, we’re not that desperate for God after all. We treat the Lord as if He were dispensable and we take delight in other things. Maybe if we hadn’t been busy all week trying to drink from broken cisterns we would thirst for the fountain of living waters and come for a corporate drink on His day.

Still the discipline of celebrating the Lord’s day every first day reminds us how much we need Him and how important His Body is. I think that’s why John Calvin said about Sunday corporate meeting,

we adopt it as a necessary remedy for preserving order in the Church. (Institutes, 2.VIII.33)

This is especially so for those of us in student ministry. I am convinced that the first mark of a healthy student ministry is that we are part of the local church. We will always be sickly and weak if we do not participate and praise the Lord on His day with His Body in “big church.”

As we lay to rest this series on the Lord’s day, let me conclude with one final thought. My son Calvin is almost two. He doesn’t know a lot of words but he’s at least learned (his own version of) the names of all the people living at our house. Since he can’t call things by what they are, he identifies an item by the person who owns it. He’ll circle the room and point out everything he recognizes by who uses it: books, chairs, ladders, coffee cups, cars, whatever. The question is, if someone looked at how you spend your Sunday, who would they say owned it? You? Or the Lord?

A Week on the Merry-Go-Round

Series | The Lord’s Day

Obviously our whole lives are to be worship; worship is more than just a Sunday activity even though I’ve tried to make the case that there is something special about the Lord’s day. Not only that, there may be times when the best way for us to worship on a given Sunday means we might miss the meeting of the church. Yet I do believe our customary course toward the corporate meeting of the church on the first day of the week should be like water in a steep, downhill pipe.

Here’s the linchpin to the previous paragraph: The Lord’s day is a part of whole-life worship. Worship is not a one day a week activity, nor is there only one way to worship on that day.

Of course, that teeters the totter to the other side. In everything I’ve said so far about the Lord’s day, maybe it seems like we’re supposed to pause from life on Sunday for worship. In that case Sunday is like a big fat guy at the bottom of a seesaw, laughing at six little school girls of the rest of the week, suspended high above the ground. And to be sure, Sunday corporate worship is weighty. The neglect of the Lord’s day is a serious threat. That is, after all, why I parked here so long to preach and press and plead.

But the above paragraph is not my attempt at being “balanced,” it’s my appeal for being passionate. Sunday and the other six days are on not on opposite sides of a seesaw. Instead, Sunday is like that same big fat guy propelling those little school girls on the merry-go-round faster and faster till they squeal with delight. First day gathering isn’t an interruption of life for worship, it incites and impels whole-life worship.

That’s precisely why the Lord’s day is not a list of “can nots” and why occasionally our best worship may not be with the Body on Sunday and also why I still think the first day is the best day. So as we talk with each other/students/parents, let’s not be balanced about Sunday, let’s be passionate about worship.

Passionately Exult in Worship

Series | The Lord’s Day

This is the fourth piece of practical advice for how to regard the Lord’s day as the best day.

4. Celebrate

Isn’t this the whole point? Anticipation and participation and concentration culminate in worship. Sunday service is not a funeral, it is a solemn party of praise for our risen Savior! Surely there is a place for repentance, for mourning and sorrow over sin, but didn’t Jesus say those were the truly happy (blessed) people (Matthew 5:3-4)?

With Heart Integrity

Integrity and authenticity are buzzwords today. Some pastors are changing “church” because they feel like too many Christians camouflage their misery with polite, cheesy, Christianese speak; that’s not integrity. And I agree to some extent. We ought not pretend that everything is alright if it isn’t. That’s hypocrisy. But we also shouldn’t act like there’s no forgiveness and remedy our sin. That’s folly.

The heart is at the center of each piece of practical advice and at the core of each possible activity for the Lord’s day. Of course, genuine worship comes from the heart. At the same time genuine worship is commanded in Scripture. So how do we obey the command to worship if our heart isn’t right? It doesn’t mean that we worship superficially or that worship is out, it means we first need to get our heart in line for the sake of worship.

So if our heart isn’t right, let’s not act like it is. But if our heart isn’t right, let’s get it right by the gospel. That’s integrity.

With Multiplied Intensity

If all the other things are in order, watch out, Sunday is going to sizzle. There is something strong and resounding about an orchestra, even though an oboe could play the same song solo. And even though even one match catches fire, it will not burn with the heat and intensity like a whole heap of sticks.

There are multiple ways to articulate these four pieces of advice. Prepare your heart, be present, pay attention, and praise the Lord. Arrange your schedule, attend the services, adjust your spirit, and adore your Savior. Eagerly expect to worship, actively engage in worship, intently endeavor to worship, and passionately exult in worship. The important thing is that we celebrate the Lord’s day.