Like a Compass Points North

God takes His position as God seriously. He is not insecure or defensive, but He is jealous and promises to punish any who bow before knockoff gods. Commandment number one of ten made clear: “You shall have no other gods before me.” Worship of the LORD is to be exclusive; serve only Him. And worship of Him is to be done rightly: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image….” Worship of the LORD was to be unabridged, not limited by any distorted or dwarfish representation.

Why? The easy answer is that our Creator and Deliverer is infinitely worthy and deserves all our reverence. But that isn’t the only answer. Right worship is also important because men become like what they worship. Men were made from the beginning as image-bearers of God and true worship provides us with our bearings like a compass points north. Idolatry offends God, yes, and it also aims men in the wrong direction. The needle doesn’t need to be off by much before we’re soon headed off the cliff.

Failure to worship, or worship of another god, or off target worship of the true God, makes men miserable, not only because their God-given conscience is violated, but also because their God-given image is distorted. They cannot know truly who they are or what direction they should go because they believe and worship what is false. Even as Christians we can get lost a thousand different ways each week, so we confess our sin and get back to worship that keeps us oriented.

Mud All Over the Place

In John 13, Jesus began to wash the disciples feet as a demonstration of His love for them. When He came to Peter, Peter objected and, in a sense, we understand his objection because Jesus was the Master and the Master should be the one having his feet washed; He should not be the one washing. Jesus, of course, overcame Peter’s initial refusal, and then Peter reacted to the opposite extreme and told Jesus to give him a full-body bath. Jesus again corrected Peter’s misunderstanding by explaining that dirty feet didn’t necessarily mean his face was filthy.

The first lesson of John 13 is about service and Jesus taught His disciples to follow Him in this pattern of humility. But there is another issue as well, the issue of cleanliness.

We are Christians, and one of the things that means is that we are clean; our sins have been forgiven. Our body of sin has been washed in Christ. But our belief of this and our having confessed our sins for sake of salvation, does not mean that it was one confession and done. We, as Christians, get our feet dirty with sin. John teaches Christians in 1 John 1 that, for the sake of our ongoing fellowship with God and with each other, we must keep confessing our sins.

We ought to confess our sins each time we sin. And as a congregation, when we gather for sake of fellowship with God and each other, we do well to wipe our dirty feet at the door rather than track mud all over the place.

Love of the Congregation

Sometimes a minister tends to think too highly of himself as a clergy-man. He stands before the congregation; he, as God’s spokesman, pronounces the blessing; he is the holy person facing a congregation that is on a lower level. To prevent this attitude, it is well that he counteracts his sense of self-importance by affirming that he lives among brothers as a brother, and that he loves the congregation. May all God’s servants be of such a mind. Love of the congregation, and of brothers and sisters, is the highest incentive for administering that which is holy, and from which we may expect rich fruit.

—Abraham Kuyper, Our Worship, 116-117

How Important Is the Bible?

In this 18 minute video, John Piper asks and answers five questions about the importance of the Bible.

  1. What would happen if it did not exist?
  2. What would you give to have it or keep it?
  3. What does it make possible?
  4. How does it weather critics and detractors?
  5. How much effort should be given to spread it and preserve it?

He also references the ESV and why our loving of God and others depends on our thinking (about Bible truth).

via Justin Taylor

Inspiration

Series | Inside the Walls

Creation begins to make the case for the giving essence of God’s authority. The incarnation of His Son also demonstrates willing exposure of His sovereign Self. In both creation and the incarnation, God shows not only who He is, but also what His goal is with us: fellowship. The revelation of His Word is the third aspect that demonstrates the purpose of disclosed truth and the inviting nature of true authority.

Inspiration

The Scriptures reveal God’s righteousness and our unrighteousness. The law stops every mouth and makes every man accountable to God (Romans 3:19). None are righteous, no one understands, no one seeks God, there is no fear of God before our eyes (Romans 3:10-11, 18). The Bible exposes our weakness, our ungodliness, our rebellion, and our deadness (Romans 5:6, 10; Ephesians 2:1-3).

But the Word doesn’t see our deadness and mock us. It sees us dead and raises us to life. We “have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God, for ‘All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever. And this word is the good news that was preached to you'” (1 Peter 1:23-25). The Word wields authority for our life.

David wrote about the potency of special revelation to change us for good.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
Psalm 19:7-11

Paul wrote about the efficacy of “the word of His grace” to protect and establish us.

I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. (Acts 20:29-32)

The Word saves, the Word sanctifies, the Word builds. Authoritative truth seeks our good. Paul loved the truth, he wanted the Ephesians to be alert for the truth, and he gave himself ceaselessly and affectionately so that they might have the truth. Why? Because truth invites life. Revelation invites relationship with God (and with each other). Carl Henry’s second thesis was:

Divine revelation is given for human benefit, offering us privileged communion with our Creator in the kingdom of God. (God, Revelation, and Authority, Vol 2, 30)

That’s the authoritative Word at work for us, not against us or in spite of us or at a distance from us. Truth works and wins us. God uses truth to bring us into His true joy.

The Year of the Unexpected

I don’t mind the New Year’s resolution-making process. Reviewing the last year helps me to rehearse God’s gracious gifts and often brings His gracious conviction over things that still need work. Rather than make resolutions “proper” last year, I answered Ten Questions by Don Whitney. The following is my assessment.

Last night as I was talking with Mo, she asked if we could have less unexpected things happen in 2011. The idea still rings in my mind the morning after, so much so that I’m ready to pronounce 2010 The Year of the Unexpected. I realize none of us know what a day may bring forth, at least not exactly or with inerrancy. Nevertheless, things are much different at the end of this year than we expected.

The two most notable unexpecteds were our adoption and my resignation. Not ironically, our final court hearing and our final Sunday were the same weekend, the first in December. Both events culminated long processes. I could count the hours invested pursuing one and trying to avoid the other. I could also count every blade of grass in our yard, but the information wouldn’t be useful. Suffice it to say, much time was spent on both, time we expected to spend on other things.

I’ll blame some of my failure on the unexpected. The rest of the blame falls squarely on my undisciplined shoulders. You may want to reread the original questions and answers for context’s sake.

1. Fail. I did think regularly about 1 Peter 1:13. I did not do any extra study on eschatology; the end times walls are still weak. It really seems like I wrote about this a few weeks ago, not 52 weeks ago, so the desire is still strong. See also fail for #5. Hmmm…does it bode better for a dispensationalist world-view if my eschatology study is getting worse?

2. Depends. I prayed much for “the most humanly impossible thing” I wanted God to do this year. I believe He answered, but it wasn’t what I asked for in terms of outcome, though it was what I asked for in terms of clarity.

3. Inconsistent. It also seems unreal that an entire year has passed since formulating this desire. I did “explore” Sabbath dinner liturgy for sake of our family worship, but I definitely did not “establish” it. We’ll keep moving forward on this and it should mature.

4. Miss. Again. At least in terms of the journaling. Instead of three times a week, maybe I wrote a sentence or five a couple times a week, some weeks. I wasn’t consistent and it wasn’t what I had in mind. I did, however, complete the Chronological Bible reading plan. I prolly won’t be using that plan again.

5. Ding. As in, a ding in the diet. They say diets don’t usually work, at least not for long. I practically gave up on this near the end of August and will be rethinking digital intake.

6. Not applicable. I prayed every Tuesday for eleven months regarding a new missionary for our church to support. And I did a fair amount of thinking about it, including reading the probably two dozen emails I received from various friends with suggestions. So, I did do research, but I did not help the board decide on a new missionary before I left.

7. Ongoing.

8. Behind. I wrote that “I came late to the celebration table” and that I had much rejoicing to do based on how many reasons God has given us to rejoice. I keep learning, but it’s probably more accurate to say I keep fighting.

9. Improvement. I did read A Praying Life and appreciated it. With changes in circumstances and ministry circles, my daily prayer lists now need some adds and edits.

10. Hallelujah! As I wrote, Keelah is now a Higgins! Sometimes it’s hard to remember that it may, in fact, be the “single thing” that “will matter most in ten years” and perhaps even in eternity.

In this year of the unexpected, we tried to see God’s mighty acts in the world, fear Him, and laugh with Him. I expect 2011 will include more opportunities to do the same.