Lord's Day Liturgy

Making – or Breaking – Households

We’ve started sorting different groups in Titus 2, which, regardless of particulars, making divisions at all offends some today who want to define all their identity all by themselves. But God made male and female, and for that matter, He made young to grow old. He knows our stock strengths, He knows our typical sins.

Like men, women can be stereotyped, because they are a class, and Scripture shows us how it’s done. There are virtues naturally embodied by women, there are snares naturally tempting to women.

Women, by God’s design, make or break households and generations. Yes, God made men heads of house, God holds husbands and fathers accountable first, but that doesn’t change Eve’s power, or the power of her daughters.

Everybody feels it. Solomon had wisdom—and courage—to write these proverbs.

  • “a wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain” (Proverbs 19:13)
  • “it is better to live in a corner of a housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife” (Proverbs 21:9; 25:24)
  • “it is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman” (Proverbs 21:19)

By the time we come to Proverbs 31, we see the queen mother warning and instructing her son about what will make his kingdom great. She says,

Do not give your strength to women, your ways to those who destroy kings. (Proverbs 31:3)

A sinful woman — through her discontent, her selfishness, her anxiety, her fault-finding, her trivial disagreements, her hammering words — destroys families, nations, even generations. Ladies, fear the Lord, and confess your sins.

Lord's Day Liturgy

A Table for Our Health

While specifically written for older men (Titus 2:2), being “sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness” would be healthy for all Christians.

If your faith was fragile, if your love was out of shape, if your steadfastness was questionable, how would you increase them?

Among other things, our regular remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice at the Lord’s Supper should help.

Faith is personal, but in an accomplished fact, and even more, in a faithful Person. Trust Him who is the resurrection and the life.

Love is also personal, and when we wonder what it looks like, we look at the cross first. You are loved, nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ. His Spirit dwells in You, so love as you’ve been loved.

As for endurance, none of us have resisted sin to the point of bloodshed. And the only man ever to finish His race without giving in to temptation is Jesus. Jesus, who is the “author and finisher of our faith” (KJV), “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2). Remember Jesus, remember the joy He promises.

Here is a Table for our health, as believers and as the Body of Christ. Believe! Love! Hold on! Christ who is your life will return for you.

Lord's Day Liturgy

June Life Jubilee

As God’s people we will gather in a public park in front of city hall to sing and fellowship because of abortion laws. It is quite a thing.

It is a sin not to care about the destruction of those who can’t protect themselves. We will give an account to the Lord, so says inspired wisdom.

Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work?
(Proverbs 24:11–12 ESV)

We can’t opt out of the responsibility. That doesn’t mean that we all have the same tasks to do, but there is blood on our collective hands as citizens of the United States and as citizens of Washington State.

It is not comfortable to see the sin, the selfishness that kills, the arrogance that argues for abortion as “privacy” or as a “right” or that calls it “health care.” But we must see it.

There are pro-life groups that argue online, the abolitionists and the incrementalists. I don’t get making enemies of those who disagree about how many steps it takes. The fight is with those who don’t care, the fight is with our own convenience, the fight is with our own fear.

Our thanks to God for the overturning of one wicked law does not mean we’re done, but “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving [may our] requests be made known to God.”

Lord's Day Liturgy

Thankful Opposites

Because we are holding to the trustworthy word as taught, because we are receiving instruction in sound doctrine, because we work to guard against those who contradict it, we should give thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior, that we meet to share His Supper as the opposite of those described in Titus 1:10-16.

We are not insubordinate, but we submit to the Lord Jesus. We are not empty talkers, not windbags, but we know the eternal words that make wise for salvation. We are not deceivers, we have put off the old self and speak truth in love.

Our households are not upset, but they are set in order, sound in faith. We are not devoted to white space stories and human standards, but devoted to the truth. By God’s grace and Spirit and Word our minds and our consciences have been cleansed and are being renewed. We profess to know God and seek to honor Him with our works.

We are not detestable, but loved. We are not disobedient, but because Christ bore our sins in His body on the tree, we are dead to sin and living in righteousness. We are not unfit for any good work, but we’ve been qualified to share in the inheritance of the saints in light, walking in a manner worthy of the Lord.

This is our common faith, this is grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. Eat the bread and drink the cup in remembrance of the Lord.

Lord's Day Liturgy


There are two similar and brutal phrases in the pastoral epistles, both coming from the observation of the apostle Paul, both sharing the idea of multi-level communication.

[people will be] having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. (2 Timothy 3:5)

They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works. (Titus 1:16)

What does it mean to “deny” the power of godliness? It means to play at it, to pose when others are watching, but to collapse when the real decisions need to be made. All they have is “appearance” or “form” (NASB).

In the second case they “profess” with their mouths. It’s the same word as in 1 John 1:9 translated there as “confess” (homologeo). They’re saying they know, but not only do they show ignorance, their behavior is a refutation of their claim.

Both passages provide us with categories to recognize denial. There is form with power and form without it, there is confessing backed up by works and confessing that isn’t. The problem isn’t the appearance or the profession, the problem is the duplicity.

In his book The Reformed Pastor, which is an extended application of Acts 20:28, Richard Baxter wrote:

it will much more hinder your work, if you contradict yourselves, and if your actions give your tongue the lie, and if you build up an hour or two with your mouths, and all the week after pull down with your hands! This is the way to make men think that the Word of God is but an idle tale, and to make preaching seem no better than prating.

Self-contradiction is a danger for pastors, for parents, and for any who have only a partial profession.

Bring Them Up

The Summer of Raggants

The following are my notes for my final assembly talk at ECS.

On the first day of school I declared this The Year of the Raggant. We’ve made it to the last day, and here is the other bookend. I don’t have a short story, but more of a pep talk as you enter the short summer. Let this be The Summer of Raggants.

We want you to be awesome Christians. We want you to be the kind of Christians that people who aren’t Christians look at and think, ‘Those people have something different than me.’ We don’t want all of you to be the same, not just because boys aren’t girls but because God made all His people to do different things. And yet, there are some characteristics that every Christian student should have. That’s why we refer to them as the “other graduation requirements,” or, what it means to act like a raggant.

Do they apply only to school at school days or also to summer days? Duh, they apply to all time, including after you graduate. But while we work on helping each raggant develop these six muscle groups while they are here, what can/should you do over summer to keep getting more ragganty?

I’ve got some feet on-the-ground suggestions (which is good, since raggants don’t like to let others see them fly). Mr. Sarr and Mrs. Pakinas also helped with some of the particular ideas, which include things that a new first grader could do and the new seniors, too. Mrs. Herr made the colorful raggant, and Mrs. Higgins cut out these reminders you can put on the fridge or use as a book mark.

Stout image-bearers. Human beings are not meant to “do our own thing” or “decide who we are.” We are meant to reflect the likeness of God who made us. When we “behold” Him we know more what we’re to be. We become like who or what we worship. This is one reason why our worship on the Lord’s Day not only is for the glory of God but for God to give us our shape and strength.

Of course we see more about God in His Word. What a privilege to have our own copies. Every one of you can read now, so you could read a verse a day, or some of you ought to read more. If your parents let you, listen to Scripture; it’s free, and it’s forming. God’s Word is spiritual food. If you don’t eat, you will get weak.

Go to church and worship God every week, read your Bible every day.

Be patient, gracious, forgiving. These are godly, and ragganty. And for a test of your stoutness and braveness, tell all gossips to STOP IT.

This is first, starting with the first day of the week, so first in priority, and first in the list of raggant virtues. This is the most obvious way of honoring Christ: worship Him.

Copious producers. A producer is someone who makes things, you take some raw materials and create something else. You cause something that didn’t exist to become a thing!

I’m not saying that there’s no place to wind down and enjoy watching some TV/movies/YouTube or play video games as your parents allow, but don’t let that suck all your minutes away.

The blessed man is like a tree planted by streams of water, and as you reflect God more and more you will bear more and more fruit.

Make: dinner, cookies, paintings, Lego castles, blanket forts, science experiments, your bed (every day!)

Generous disciples of Christ. To be generous is to show a readiness to give more of something than is necessary or expected. It’s a way to show kindness to others.

Generous might make you think of money, but most of you as students probably don’t have a lot of that. Christ didn’t give away money. He gave Himself.

We are Christ’s disciples, we are His students, His followers. So we follow the example that He left for us, and walk in His steps. We obviously can’t do all the same things Jesus did, but share the loaves and fishes you have. One thing we all have the same amount of is time. How will you be generous with yours?

Do the dishes (not just on your assigned night). Play with your siblings when they ask. Do something good for a neighbor.

Prodigious learners. Part of what we’re aiming to do is give you the skills and the exposures for sake of increasing interests to keep learning for the rest of your life. To be prodigious means to let it be BIG; Christ made a big cosmos, and He loves all that He made for us.

Reading is a way to do it, and it doesn’t have to be non-fiction. A good story can teach you lessons, even if it’s just some new vocabulary.

Read 3 (hard for you) books before September 4 (the first day of school, not that you want to think about that today). Learn a skill: guitar, drawing, volleyball, wood burning. Sometimes people say, Go big or go home. I say, learn big at home!

Thankful stewards. Thankfulness is appropriate, required, and good for you. There is nothing you have that you did not receive, from God directly or from God through another person.

As Mr. Sarr likes to remind us, thankful people are more fun to give things to anyway.

Handwrite a thank you note for every gift you get. Write a card for a gift you did NOT get. And you all are working on your penmanship anyway, right? This will give you a chance to show off your skills. Say “thank you” after every meal anyone makes for you. See if you can do it!

Jovial warriors. Jovial is a word that refers to being cheerful, like a king in his court, taking care of things without any worry on his face and gifting his people from his resources. He is glad and giving, even though all his projects aren’t finished. This is the kind of attitude to start the day with, not just to end when things went like we wanted.

Whether or not you are naturally so, call a T.O.: Try Optimism. When you’re assigned a chore you don’t like, when your plans didn’t work out, if you can do it without being snarky, throw your head back and say HA!

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14-15)

Refuse to complain, about the weather, the boredom, getting sick, the Mariners losing again. Practice LOL!

Raggants are high discipline, low drama summer rockstars. Summer break starts today, so start your summer stage of carrying and advancing Christ-honoring culture. May the Lord bless the next few months as The Summer of Raggants.

Lord's Day Liturgy

Obtained by Blood

Elders and overseers and pastors are all underworkers. Jesus Christ is the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4). He not only has the ultimate authority, He is the only one who has shed His blood for your sins.

The exhortation that Paul gave to the Ephesian elders was rooted in their recognition of whose sheep they were caring for.

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which He obtained with His own blood. (Acts 20:28)

Christian, you are not your own, you were bought with a price. You do not belong to a group of under-shepherds, though they are given by the Chief Shepherd for your good.

Remember Jesus Christ. Remember the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for His sheep. Remember His blood that has covered all your sins, blood that has made you Christ’s own.

Lord's Day Liturgy

Farmers Believe It

One thing that Bible people and farming people have in common is that both know the phrase: you reap what you sow. One big difference between Bible people and farming people is that farmers typically believe it.

Bible people are like, “but God is sovereign.” And, there is truth there. In fact, that’s how we can trust that we will reap what we sow. That’s how God made things to work, and that’s why His Word reveals the principle, along with page after page of example. Planting corn doesn’t turn into rows of bananas because “God is sovereign.”

One reason we plead, or hide behind, theology is because we don’t like what we see in the field. “That’s not what I wanted.” And, while we’re here for this minute, if you are ready to be honest, are you sure it’s not what you wanted a little more?

You wanted not to be uncomfortable — at least a little more, so you didn’t ask any hard questions to your kid, and after years of not upsetting them, they are more set in their ways. See how David “had never at any time displeased [his son Adonijah] by asking, ‘Why have you done thus and so?’” in 1 Kings 1:6. So when his dad was old, Adonijah decided he should be king. You say, “That’s not what I wanted for them,” except that you didn’t take the time to sow anything different.

You wanted not to be humble — at least a little more. You maintained your authority, so you thought, by your example of always being right, never repenting to them or in front of them. So you wanted some cushion, because your pride only looks good from a distance, and that’s what you got.

If you sow humility, you will reap stronger people. If you sow repentance, you will reap the rejoicing that comes with righteousness. If you sow taking responsibility, you will reap more who do likewise. If you sow patience, you will reap peace. If you sow peace, you will reap kids who learn how not to freak out.

Could there be a tornado? Are there things that are out of your control? Of course. But so is extra sun and the right amount of rain. The question still stands: what are you sowing? And if you can see that you’ve been sowing weeds, or allowing them to grow, repent and ask God to use your weeding, too.

It is very hard to plant—to pastor, to parent, to disciple—and grow a fruitful field. By God’s grace we will reap what we sow.

Bring Them Up

Dad Charge

Son, on your baby announcement, along with a tiny picture of your head (because, honestly, you weren’t really that cute of a baby), your mother put “May he shake the gates of hell.” It ended up becoming sort of a painful joke for the first few years of your life, as your mom and me regularly told people that we meant that you would eventually shake the gates from the outside, not immediately like a demon-baby from the inside.

But these many years later, by God’s grace, you have great love for God, great love for your people, and have already made a great impact everywhere you go. You are big, you are loud, you process out loud, and you generate a dizzying amount of ideas. And really, with usually just a tiny bit of refining, most of them are really great.

You are hard to ignore, and so you’ve often gotten grief from those who would like things to be a bit more quiet. They’d like to be undisturbed, and it seems to me, undisturbed in their apathy.

But while it’s true that you are a big presence, you have always had a big heart. Your aims and dreams for a professional sports career, even to build a castle, are for your people. If people held on long enough to listen to your castle de Marysville plans, they would have heard that your plans include a big parking lot and valet drivers to welcome your many guests.

You want to bring people in. You want to win them like Bricklebaum, with joy that looks better. You are a strong brother, a reliable friend, an attentive grandson, a fun uncle, an energetic teammate, and can make almost anything with cardboard and duct tape.

Of course you have more to learn, and only the Lord knows for sure what you will do and how much bigger you’ll get, but:

Son, don’t hold back.

Others may want you to dial it back. Some have already criticized and/or laughed at you. So be it, your legacy will be different than theirs. Fear the Lord, sacrifice for your people, hear feedback not criticism, keep up your walls like Babylon, and then don’t hold back.

May you never doubt that you are a blessing to your father and mother. You are my beloved son in whom I am very well pleased.

May you need a bigger hat to go with your cattle.

May your ideas be even bigger and your leading even louder and your work even more fruitful and your heart even more Christlike and your shaking of the gates of hell be even more effective.

Bring Them Up

Tip More, Boldly

The following is my graduation charge to the class of 2024 at ECS.

Good evening to our graduate candidates, their parents and families, Headmaster and school board and faculty, and guests.

ECS is less than a week from finishing our 12th year. Two of you have been here all twelve years (you are the majority of Muckle Eejits); only a few of the current juniors will be able to say by the time they’re done that they were here longer. It certainly seems like all four of you belong here, and it seems hard to imagine what it will be like next week without you all.

We are all here tonight because you have completed the work we asked you to do. You have read the pages, written the papers, sang your parts. And all of that is just a small portion of what you’ve accomplished.

As we celebrate what you’ve finished, my final charge to you before you move your tassels is to tip more, boldly.

Tip is the key word. I don’t mean tip as in give an extra 20% or 30% on top of the bill, though I do believe in generous gratuities. I definitely don’t mean tip in terms of giving little simplistic life-hacks; we could all use less of those tips. When I say — tip more, boldly — I mean, don’t leave whatever room you enter the way it was. Think of a Saint Bernard running into a tiny kitchen and stepping on the water bowl; you can’t ignore that.

Make a dent. Leave a mark. Tip the status quo over, and over.

This is not the same thing as destroying the good, but don’t hold back when you see how to make something better. Go ahead, poke holes in superficial stuff.

Here’s an example from your senior year. Together you all turned the school’s annual Reformation Day into Reformation week. Not only that, you added the school at home day and called the raggants to regroup for most of a Friday at a property 45 minutes away. You saw what had been done in previous years and thought that you could try something different, something bigger.

While a lot of that project was enjoyable, edible, and edifying, it was exhausting. Come to think of it, it probably was too much. Your ideas helped to clarify ideas from staff and teachers that, as it turns out, one day is actually enough, and keeping the costumes and competitions, the booths and bonfires on campus is a reasonable restraint. I don’t know how many more opportunities you’ll have like that. It gets harder to risk things as you get older. But, go ahead, and make people dial you back. Do things that make others write policies after you. Make them realize that they could do more, more is possible.

Tip more, boldly.

We could use some more people with ideas. An idea in this sense is different than opinions about how other people should do something, or stop doing something, or do what they’re doing differently. Ideas are thoughts about a course of action, an aim to make something, to do some good for others.

In the movie “The Darkest Hour” there’s a scene that tickles me where two old men are walking through government halls fretting about Winston Churchill as the newly appointed Prime Minister.

First man: “He’s an actor, in love with the sound of his own voice.”
Second man: “I love to listen to him. But we must never take his advice. He has a hundred ideas a day, four of them are good, the other ninety-six downright dangerous.”

But without endorsing everything he did, Churchill had conviction, which was crucial 80 years ago during WWII. All of you stood at Point Du Hoc together; you walked on the beaches in France. We remember the men. And we remember D-Day as one of the tipping points in world history and certainly for western civilization. Graduates, go ahead and have some more ideas with conviction.

I have been referring to this year at ECS as the Year of the Raggant. It didn’t take off in all the ways I hoped it would, but, one of the things that did not disappoint was how all of you acted like raggants. As seniors, you were an elite rumpus within the rumpus, making noise and causing commotion for the benefit of us all.

We talk about six characteristics of a raggant. We didn’t write them with you in mind, but top to bottom as a class you have modeled them the best so far.

Stout image-bearers, not stepping lightly like kittens, but with meaty paws like lions. Seniors, you have refined your rhetoric of roar and reflected a God who cares as you have cared.

Generous disciples of Christ, and here where it would be fine for you to leave big tips, as well as to cause big tips. But you have been generous with your time to hang out with underclassmen, to decorate for events, to give yourselves to others in Jesus’ name.

Copious producers, which you have done, not just in writing parodies about copious production. Go ahead, keep making baskets heavy, and write big books, annoy others that you know so much that it took so many pages and they just couldn’t put it down.

Prodigious learners, because we don’t always know what the next thing to tip is going to be, or even where the pressure point is. I want to come back to this in a moment.

Thankful stewards, and this has been a big part of why you’ve made such an impact, as Mr. Sarr noted in his comments. You’ve done your work with gratefulness, not grumbling. You’ve probably been given more things because it was more fun to do so.

And jovial warriors, laughing so that the other tables get mad, they’re bored and they’re made uncomfortable because you’re having such a great time. This isn’t being cheerful as a way to ignore problems, it’s being cheerful as you address them.

As I’ve considered your quad-rumpus, for all your ideas and big plans and finished projects, what really stands out, looking back, is that while you are not easily tip-able, all of you have been teachable. Mr. Sarr pointed out that your thankfulness has been evident, and teachability is like open hands to thankful’s overflowing heart.

You have been teachable, and so you are teaching others. You have received, and so you have things to give. You have listened, and so you have things to think about and more substance to your own thoughts. Even up to yesterday, you were seeking wisdom and willing to update your ideas.

Those who would be great leaders must know how to be ready listeners, eager learners, prompt followers. Those who would advance Christ-honoring culture must not only not reject it, but take the handoff. Your class has killed it in terms of impact on younger students and even on the faculty, because you never acted like you were being held back.

God has blessed you because of that, blessed you with hard-earned unity as a class as well as with deep influence on the school.

Go into every room, not like you own the place, but like you know the Lord who does. You are raggants. You are part of the rumpus. Be teachaBOLD. Tip more, boldly.

“Lives and generations and history are there for the tipping. You have hands. You have words. You have something. Touch the scales. Touch the least of these.”

—N.D. Wilson, Death by Living, 145

Turn the world upside down (Acts 17:6). Don’t leave it the same, you have not left ECS the same.