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Lord's Day Liturgy

Standing with Our Christian Brothers in Canada on What God Says about Sexuality

At the beginning of every calendar year I take a few Sundays to preach through some reminders about our liturgy of corporate worship on the Lord’s Day. I’ve got one more message to give in the 2022 mini-series, and it will be about worship and sexuality.

I preached on this connection in 2017, under the heading of worship for spouses which included some male/female, leading/following observations. I also had a lot to say about Kuyperian sexuality about a year ago.

That said, you may know that there’s a pretty big hubbub about the C-4 bill that recently became law in Canada. Apparently any “conversion therapy” for gender and sexual sins is now criminal. So a number of Canadian pastors plan to preach about it this coming Sunday, against the law, on purpose.

John MacArthur sent an email to all the Shepherds’ Conference list calling pastors in the US to consider joining in the stand. You can read more about it and watch a 3-minute video from him here. Jared Longshore also has a 8-minute video here.

I asked our elders what they thought, and we all agreed for me to go for it. As I wrote above, it won’t be the first time that we’ve dealt with the subject, but we think it’s appropriate, not just to support our Christian brothers, but to exalt the glory of God in the gospel that calls sinful men and women to repentance that they might be truly glorious and fruitful reflections of their Creator.

Of course there’s more to say, which, Lord willing, I’ll do this Sunday. In the meantime, pray, and feel free to ask any questions.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

Our Cup Overflows

There are two types of good jealousy in the Bible.

The first good jealousy is between the covenanted. God is jealous over His people; He is, in fact, a jealous God, angry if His people worship and glorify another god. “You shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exodus 34:14; Deuteronomy 4:24). Similarly, a husband is jealous over his wife (Numbers 5:14); he is lovingly but fiercely protective if she gives her spousal attention and affection toward another.

The second good jealousy is like a gravity to the blessed. Paul wrote that he magnified his ministry to the Gentiles in order to make the Jews jealous (Romans 11:13-14). The blessings given by God through the gospel were obvious and made the God of blessings desirable.

Jesus connected the wine in the Lord’s Supper to the covenant: the “cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). We who participate do so by faith, in exclusive relationship with the Father and He is jealous for our communion. He desires it. He purchased it. He ordained it. He is here for it.

And when we come, we are getting something that not everyone else gets. It is good to be near to God (Psalm 73:28), and He’s given us grace that opened the way and draws us near in joy (Romans 5:2).

We have been sharing communion as a church now for 11 years, and how much thanks we have for the Lord’s faithfulness to us and the fruit He’s grown among us. He has prepared a table before us in the presence of our enemies, and our cup of blessing overflows.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

Puddleglum Is Not an Epithet

Don’t spend time regretting your sin, repent from it right away. There is more to say.

Jesus said, “blessed are those who mourn” (Matthew 5:4), and this sorrow is over sin. There is a type of good conviction, a “godly grief” that is appropriate. But grief feelings are not the goal.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief….For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:9-10)

If/when confronted, don’t try to pacify the other person with your coat of many bad feelings. Not only is this wishy-washy, it’s also not confession. It is also not gospel. This is like lowering your head and waiting for someone to hang a millstone around your neck.

Regret and sorrow and humiliation isn’t where we’re trying to get to. We hope to get out of all that by confessing our sin, to be comforted (Matthew 5:4), and then to turn away from it. Don’t just say that you regret something, resolve to stop doing it. You regret to be sitting in the mud puddle. No, brothers, get out of the puddle, or your britches will still be sopping and soiled. Puddleglum is an entertaining, even edifying, fictional character, but not a worthy epithet for Christians. You who believe are forgiven because Jesus died, and you can rejoice and obey because Jesus lives.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

Weekly Fellowship

One day we will know without a doubt what God’s favorite part of our worship is. One day we will worship Him face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 John 3:2), and some of the things we do now in these mortal bodies by faith will no longer be necessary. Perhaps that gives us an angle to evaluate our current liturgy, the means and the end.

In the resurrection a call to worship will be as unnecessary as the sun is to define the day (Revelation 22:5). Not only will the cycle of eternal life be different, but the divisions and distractions of our purpose will be removed.

In the resurrection we will be glorified, we will be finally conformed to the image of Christ, and so there will be no new sins to confess. We will not forget that we’ve been forgiven, but neither individually or corporately will we need Him to wash our feet (cf. John 13:10).

In the resurrection we will know the Word, and preachers will be given some other occupation. The Word is eternal, but we will not need teachers in eternity (consider Jeremiah 31:34). We will have The Teacher, but even then, celebrating truth will be different than sermonizing it.

And in the resurrection we will be in our eternal rest (Hebrews 4:9-10), not that we won’t have employment, but there will be no more charge for the battle even if there is more to build.

So, what we look forward to is unhindered, undiluted, undistracted communion with God. It is why He sent His Son, that Christ would bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18). This fellowship is what we remember and rejoice in during the Lord’s Supper in our weekly liturgy. The work of Christ is for our communion with God, and all our work comes from that communion. Our time together around the Table is just a taste of how good He is.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

See, Hate, and Leave

Repentance is a gift of God. Peter rejoiced that God gave repentance to Israel (Acts 5:31) and later the apostles rejoiced that God granted repentance to the Gentiles (Acts 11:18). God sovereignly lets us see sin in its ugliness and gives us a heart to hate it and leave it. That is a gift.

Repentance is a discipline. You can get better at it, and the more mature you are, the less the time you’ll need between sinning and then acknowledging and turning from that sin.

Repentance is a blessing. If sin is what separates us from God–and it is, if sin is what spoils our consciences–and it is, if sin is what stops up the flow of joy–and it is, then repenting from sin belongs with reconciliation, cleansing, and a renewed spirit.

Every Lord’s Day we are brought to reckon with our need for repentance. The battle to mortify our sin is not finished, even though Christ’s sacrifice to atone for our sin is. As part of our worship we acknowledge that we, in our flesh, are powerless against sin, but that when we call on the Lord we will be saved.

It may be hard to rank the most important or necessary part of our liturgy. But our confession of sin belongs as part of our worship, and ought to be part of our walk.

Martin Luther captured this in the first of his 95 Theses:

When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said “Repent,” he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance.

To the Laodiceans, the Amen, said:

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. (Revelation 3:19)

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Every Thumb's Width

The River of Knowledge

I came across this pic in an article about keeping a digital commonplace book and wanted to save/share it here. At our school we talk about how We stand downstream in the river of Western civilization, and the Omnibus curriculum is one attempt to swim in waters.

The river of knowledge is as broad and fertile as the Nile, which is to say, full of nuggets of excrement, viral diseases, and the occasional crocodile. We don’t want most of this stuff to stick….

But the valuable concepts, ideas, and stories that drift our way are worth retaining. If we want to get compound interest on our knowledge, we have to stop all these precious ideas from draining straight back out the holes in our colander-brains.

How to Get Compound Interest on Your Ideas, Richard Meadows

There’s junk and treasure in the river. I thought the image above was worth collecting.

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The End of Many Books

The ONE Thing

by Garry Keller with Jay Papasan

A friend recommended this to me and, even though I’ve probably read too many books about productivity and time management and such, it still had some good reminders.

Good reminders included: Don’t play the part of victim, take responsibility and make your own choices. Pay attention to physical energy as a resource, and employ it at the right time. Schedule appointments to do the important work; block time on the calendar for the priority. Consider leverage, how smaller dominos/decisions can knock down larger ones if in the right sequence and gaining speed.

I would not recommend this book for a young person who probably can’t, maybe even shouldn’t, know what they are good for yet. “Sunk cost” bias is real, and wrong. A lot can be learned from trying different things, even failing at things, if the goal is maturity rather than speed.

Related, mastery and deliberate practice, which Keller promotes, do not relate equally in every area. This is an important distinction made in Range that really should be considered. Speaking of Range, it would be a much better book for young people, and the old(er) people who feel like they’re too late (for whatever).

All that said, the work of evaluating the ONE question is better than just drifting into regret. “What’s the ONE Thing I can do / such that by doing it / everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

3 of 5 stars

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Lord's Day Liturgy

Falling or Rising

When Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple for her purification and their first-born offerings, they met a man named Simeon. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die before he saw Israel’s Consolation, the Lord’s Christ (Luke 2:25-26). Simeon recognized the baby Jesus as the one, and took Him in his arms as he praised God. Then he told Mary,

Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel and for a sign that is opposed…so that thoughts for many hearts will be revealed. (Luke 2:34-35)

The incarnation divided between those who rejected Him and those who received Him (and most of His own did not receive Him, John 1:11). That means not everyone is welcome at His table. But He invites all those who believe in Him to come.

From the earliest days God revealed hearts. It’s why many hated Jesus. It is only by the gracious work of the Spirit that we have come to Him. He opened our eyes to know that we need a Savior from our sin. He gave us hearts of flesh that sensed the distance that our sin took us away from Him. God, in Christ, divided the world, and by His great kindness delivered us to be built on the Cornerstone.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

Blessed Bible Reading

The very first word in the hymnbook of the Old Testament is the word blessed: “Blessed is the man…” (Psalm 1:1).

The immediately following lines do not describe this man’s blessedness but rather his chosen source of information and direction. He does not spend time listening to sinners and scoffers. He doesn’t hang with them or identify with them on social media. Instead he delights in and mediates on the law of the Lord. He marinates his mind in God’s Word.

The blessing, more accurately, blessings plural, are found in the following verse.

He is like a tree
Planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
And its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:3)

The blessings of God are at least stability and fruitfulness. The blessed man’s roots are established and he is not easily moved by the wind. His source of life is abundant so he is not threatened by the heat. He bears fruit when it is time.

To be #blessed is not to be driven by fads or driven by fear or driven to doubt by the wicked chaff. Blessing grows out of our chosen meditation.

With the new calendar year about to start, why not consider a Bible reading plan to provoke systemic meditation? I know a lot of you are reading the #ToTheWord plan, which is great, and that starts and stops following the school year schedule. But if you don’t have another, you could try my favorite: the Discipleship Journal plan, with four readings twenty-five days a month, from four different parts of the Bible.

Whatever you choose, put yourself in the right place to be blessed by the Lord.

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Every Thumb's Width

WokEd

For whatever reasons, and I think by God’s grace there are probably many, the Christians I spend most of my time with are not trying to be woke. My impression is that many of them don’t even know that being woke is a thing, to pursue or to avoid. Yet I do read about it, have watched a pretty poignant documentary about its effects on business, and like many of the worst parts in our culture at large, have concerns about how the squeaky wheel demands to be praised.

Take for instance this article about “woke interlopers” (which sounds like a bad band name) who are “transforming” Christian higher education. It lists a number of (so-called) Christian colleges/universities that are working hard, apparently, to play the placating game. If only it were a game, not a power grab. By woke rules, there must be acceptance of the message (no matter how irrational) and acknowledgement of wrong (no matter how unprovable). Maybe there will even be the making of an Office of Diversity.

Our early, little, local higher ed effort doesn’t have these problems and may the Lord protect us from ever promoting such envious wokedness.