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Lord's Day Liturgy

Not Safe But Sane

As many of the men keep reading through Live Not by Lies there is more and more emphasis on how small groups kept many believers living under totalitarian regimes not safe but sane. Though everything was crazy outside, there was some normal, some reality, and even some freedom inside. The friendships and fellowship and the freedom to live were crucial not just so that The Faith, as in Christianity, could continue but so that Christians themselves could continue.

Our church is too large to be called a small group, and we have not been driven underground. But in many ways it is still crazy “outside,” and our fellowship is in faith and for our faith. We re-member (that is, all the members meet as one body) each week to remember the eternal work of God in time, His loving power and righteous kindness and the good news of Christ’s death for sinners. We are reminded of our unity with Christ and our unity with His Body.

If “modern liberalism’s goal” is “to free the individual from any unchosen obligations” (Dreher, Location 548), the goal of this Supper is to point us to the Savior who frees us from the burden of guilt and the anguish of separation.

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. (1 Corinthians 10:16–17)

This Supper is a sharing of lives, a present participation that is a life-sustaining good.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

Unbribable

Paul reminded the Corinthians that one day they would judge the world.

Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! (1 Corinthians 6:2–3)

By asking “do you not know” twice he signals that he had taught them this before, which means that it wasn’t a Christian 500 level course. While this judging was a future gig, it had present implications. Why would they keep embarrassing themselves by bickering in front of unbelieving judges? There was something about their future responsibility that wasn’t disconnected from their present relationships. They should judge better now because they will judge later.

It also seems to be true that it works in the other direction: judging now makes for better judging later. In Revelation 20 John sees some who are sitting on thrones, and part of their job is to judge (verse 4). There are others who are raised to reign with Christ, which includes authority to judge, who had refused to take the mark of the beast, even as it cost them their lives. This is exactly the kind of judge you want. These judges couldn’t be bribed or bought or canceled even if killed. They held fast to the truth. Ability to distinguish between right and liars was not just a glorification supplement.

As Christians, our future is one of being judges. Some of that should be demonstrated in our contracts and communication with one another. And a lot of it should be demonstrated in our consecration to the Lord and our confession of sin. When it comes to sin we should be unbribable.

As living sacrifices we “discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). We abound in “all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent” (Philippians 1:9-10). This faculty of judgment includes laying “aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely” (Hebrews 12:1). Recognizing the standard of God’s Word and applying it accurately to our own behavior is a just practice, and we are going to get lots of practice.

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Bring Them Up

Comeford College Information Night

There are a lot of reasons for this project we started, and there are a lot of people who could benefit from it. That means you should come to our Comeford College Information Night next Wednesday, April 28, 7:00pm, at The Table building at Reclamation Church in Marysville.

I thought about including a bunch of links to various articles I’ve read recently about the state of most colleges and universities, which is to say, to show how ridiculous higher “education” has become. These places are debt factories. They are immorality playgrounds. They are so liberal that you are not allowed to disagree. They are so scientific that you can identify as any gender you want; shoot, change as often as you change your major, more more!

We are trying to do something better, for cheaper, with actual flourishing for our students and our community. We want them to learn true and transcendent things and then have courage to live for the Lord of them.

“Christian college graduates typically have commitment, but not confidence. They have ideals, but not vision. Except for those going into the professional ministry, no one has laid out for most of them either the possibilities or the responsibilities of penetrating every area of our society with the message of Christ.”

—Robert Briner, Roaring Lambs

We are four weeks away from finishing our first year of classes. Our students have taken Astronomy, Greek (see a Greek “class” in the pic below), Old Testament Theology, Ancient Philosophy, Music Theory, and Great Books. We are making plans for classes to start again in the fall, and we have room for more students, including part-time students or auditors.

The Information Night is open to anyone who is curious, there’s no commitment. There’s also no required masks or distancing, but we will have some dessert. Check out the FB event page and then come see what we’re trying to do.


Want to read some more? Here’s a post on why we wanted to start a college, and here’s another on why we chose the name Comeford.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

The Beginning and the End

Which is the most important meal of the day? Is it more important to give your body fuel before going out to work, or to replenish your body after a hard day of work? Is eating what you do first or last? Does breakfast commence or does dinner consummate?

This is a meditation exercise, not a push for the only answer. In addition to the reality that people’s bodies are different, and people have different preferences, the general question is not either/or. We do both.

Our communion at the Lord’s Table also works both ways, even as it reminds us to look both ways, back to Christ’s first coming and forward to His second coming. In our corporate worship, communion is toward the end in the liturgy, a crowning point. And though Sunday is the first day of the week, it is the end of the weekend, and we often come before Him spent, empty. We have not been working in order to earn our salvation, but we’ve been working because we love Christ and desire to please Him. The meal He provides satisfies and refills. He provides “the food that endures for eternal life” (John 6:27).

But also in our liturgy communion precedes the commission, as we are charged and blessed back toward our responsibilities. The supper is faith-fuel.

Are you weary? Come to Christ. Are you eager? Start with Christ. He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end (Revelation 22:13), He is life and bread, He has accomplished our salvation and He is the author of our faith that hasn’t finished its course yet, and He will raise us up on the last day (John 6:54).

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Lord's Day Liturgy

Live Not by Lice

A couple things came together a week ago Monday that produced this exhortation. At our school a few students were identified as having some little bugs in their hair. At our men’s group meeting we had our first discussion on a new book. It led to Jonathan’s comment that we should live not by lice.

That is really funny.

Not everyone thinks that lice is funny, and neither is living in a culture that loves lies and is run by liars and is trying to control us with lies. Lice is usually some measure of disruptive, lies are always some type of destructive. But how are we going to respond, and how do we want others to respond?

Annoyed? Anxious? Aggravated? Aloof?

What if we thought of the troubles like wind, and our lives like boats. Wind could totally knock us off course. If we know how to manage the sail, though, we might catch the wind and make quicker progress, which is not to say it would be easy. (As one example, our church has grown greatly in the last 12 months, numerically and spiritually.) Or if the hull of our boat was deep and heavy enough, the wind wouldn’t matter quite as much, even if it made a mess for all the other boats in the water.

In Psalm 52 Doeg lied and killed a bunch of priests. David said that the righteous response is to see what’s happening, fear God, and then laugh at those attempting their course without God (Psalm 52:6-7).

If someone isn’t freaking out as much as you, it could mean that they are ignorant, it could mean that their fear of God runs deeper than yours. Fear not man or what man can do to you or man’s lies, or, lice. Trust in the steadfast love of God (Psalm 52:8), and laugh well.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

Our Marveling Mechanisms

There is a simple way to avoid becoming bird food (Revelation 19:17, 21). There is a clear way to avoid being thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15). The way is the way of faith in the Lamb. He is the way and the truth and the life (John 14:6). Those who love the Lamb more than their own lives will conquer (Revelation 12:11), and cannot be captured or condemned.

This is not primarily a word of warning to fear the eternal torments of fire, though the threat is real. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians about the day

when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, (2 Thessalonians 1:7–10)

What I am calling us as Christians to do is to be preparing our marveling mechanisms. We will marvel at the Rider. We will marvel at the Lamb. We will marvel at His wrath. We will marvel at the banquet table of His love for His Bride, for us.

At that table there will be redeemed kings, captains, mighty men, free and slave, small and great. There will be Jew and Greek, male and female (Galatians 3:28). Who knows if we will recognize each other as old and young. What we hold onto in common is Christ. We are not merely fugitives from hell but sons of our Heavenly Father (Galatians 3:26). As many as of who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Galatians 3:27). We will all be in His presence and astonished by the glory of His might.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

Hectic Fever

I had a moment of providential connection at our small group meeting last Friday that, I believe, has application on a few fronts, for wisdom and courage and holiness, which are distinguishable fronts but also share the same heart.

We were talking about our Christian responsibilities in a world of lies and trouble and tyrants. This is where wisdom is so necessary, for sake or recognizing our situation and knowing how to respond. It reminded me of a phrase and condition I had read about: hectic fever.

Niccolo Machiavelli described it in his book on statecraft, The Prince (AD 1532).

hectic fever…in its beginning it is easy to cure, but hard to recognize; whereas, after a time, not having been detected and treated at the first, it becomes easy to recognize but impossible to cure.

Machiavelli meant it as counsel to rulers to be wise in how they deal with disorder below them.

The same condition, however, was also referred to by Junius Brutus less than 50 years later in his Vindicia Contra Tyrannos (AD 1579).

For tyranny may be properly resembled unto a fever hectic, the which at the first is easy to be cured, but with much difficulty to be known; but after it is sufficiently known, it becomes incurable.

Machiavelli was looking down, Brutus was looking up, both ways could go bad. For leaders, and for those who would not be overrun by bad leaders, early wisdom and quick courage are advantageous.

But the image also applies regarding sin. The love of money is a root of all kinds of evils (1 Timothy 6:10), kill it quickly. There is a root of bitterness that springs up into great trouble (Hebrews 12:15), pluck it out. One too many glasses of wine? Too loose with your timecard, stealing from your employer? A small sin can grow into a devouring dragon. Be honest, be ruthless for your sake, for the body’s sake. As John Owen wrote, “Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.”

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Lord's Day Liturgy

The Price of Passion

It is good to remember where certain things come from.

The week between Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday is often called Passion Week. It’s called passion because of Latin, and in many copies of God’s Word in the first few centuries of the church pastors would preach about Jesus’ passionem, a Latin word meaning suffering.

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering/passionem of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. (Hebrews 2:9)

While most English speakers today think of passion as an intense desire, it originally referred to painful endurance. Jesus taught His disciples about it before it happened.

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer (a verbal form of passionem) many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. (Matthew 16:21)

That’s the background of the word passion. But this passion, this suffering, is the background for Jesus’ glory. It was due to His humble death on a cross that “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name” (Philippians 2:8-9). It is because of Jesus’ suffering that He is “crowned with glory and honor” (Hebrews 2:9).

And Jesus’ passion is the background for our joy.

Jesus loves you, and suffered to bring You to the Father (1 Peter 3:18). God loves Your sanctification, and His Son suffered to make it secure (Hebrews 13:12). God loves to share His joy with you. God sent His Son to suffer, die, and rise again to show it. How will He not with Him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)

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Lord's Day Liturgy

Know, Reckon, Yield

When I was a child I thought like a child, which meant I thought it was more common to be on fire. I say that because we were regularly drilled in the fire safety trifecta of: Stop. Drop. and Roll. Since fire feeds on oxygen, the emergency procedure aims to suffocate the fire. As it turns out, by God’s grace, I have never needed to apply these instructions, but they certainly have been memorable.

What I really wish is that I would have been similarly drilled as a disciple of Christ. There is a three-fold set of commands in Romans 6 that I would have used much more often, even daily, and numerous times throughout the day in dealing with sin and temptations to sin. The sanctification trifecta is: Know. Reckon. Yield.

We Know not only the truths of the gospel, but our union with Christ in the gospel events. “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Romans 6:6).

We Reckon or deliberately deliberate on this new reality. “So you also must consider (reckon in the KJV), from λογίζομαι, meaning count it to be so) yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11).

And then Yield to the new way. “Present (yield in the KJV), put at His disposal) yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life” (Romans 6:13).

Every believer has been baptized into Christ’s death, and we have been raised from the dead to walk in the newness of life (Romans 6:3-4). Are you hot with with offense or bitterness? Are you engulfed with guilt and regret? Are you consumed with anxiousness or doubt? Confess your sin, and then Know. Reckon. Yield. Today we celebrate Christ’s resurrection, and ours in Him.

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A Shot of Encouragement

Hauling Off

There is a new podcast in the world.

My wife and one of her good friends had been talking about the possibility of podcasting, and then were prodded by one of the young ladies in our church/school to record their first episode at her birthday party.

These are ladies worth listening to. Along with a guest, they talk about dealing with temptations to sin as a mom, and in particular as an intellectual or at least intellectually interested mom, and then finish off with some direction for younger girls on thinking about how they invest their attention dollars as sisters in Christ.

If you’re interested then listen, subscribe, and share.