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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.

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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.”

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Lord's Day Liturgy

Self-Contradiction

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.

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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.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

On Being Blameless

The Bible speaks in a way that allows for us to call a man “blameless.” See Job, Noah, Daniel, along with the existence of the general category. That said, the Bible also tells us that even our righteous deeds are like filthy rags, and prior to our glorification we still need regular cleansing.

Elders in particular must be “above reproach,” the same idea as without blame, but we know no one is “perfect.” How are we supposed to fit these things together?

One part of wisdom is to see patterns, to look at the video rather than a still shot. It’s not exactly the same as just a “high percentage” of righteousness, with say a minority 5% of time spent in adultery. Weightier sins such as adultery or murder (or David who did both) take away a blameless status immediately even if that was one night in twenty years. Yet when a “blameless” man sins, even though it’s not a theological surprise, based on his usual practice it’s not what we were expecting.

Another part of wisdom is to see a pattern of humble and honest repentance. He should not be quick tempered, but when he does get angry, how quick is he to confess it? Impatience is not a virtue no matter how big his vision, but does he repent when his self-will steamrolls the group?

In John 3 Jesus teaches that “everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light lest his deeds should be exposed.” What is the opposite? It’s not “everyone who does righteous things.” Rather, “whoever does what is true comes to the light.” This reveals that when he did good it was by God’s help, and it reveals when He did not do good that he believes in Jesus for forgiveness and eternal life.

Walk before God (and men) in godliness and blamelessness.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

Be Careful Little Thumbs

In the last exhortation I urged you to consider what you consume, especially as relates to digital soulcrap. Today I exhort you to consider what you share, as well as for parents in particular to pay attention to what your offspring share.

Solomon gave timeless wisdom that applies to all modern social timelines:

Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise,
when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

Proverbs 17:28

A different though not inspired angle on the proverb is: it is better not to open your mouth and have others think you a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.

And so some reminders:

Foolish, even sinful, thoughts are not good, but when made public they have extra consequences. Every thought does need to be taken captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), most of them should not be let out.

Thoughts, and for goodness sake, pictures/selfies and videos/“velfies” that someone is willing to make public are likely not as bad as what’s being thought and done not posted. If the smoke is skanky, look for the burning pile.

An anonymous account could be chosen out of wisdom, an account hidden from parents could not be. To “sneak” on social media is a fool’s venture; be sure your posts will find you out (see also Numbers 32:23).

Not as public, at least not as instantly, but DMs along with texting and messaging apps can become someone else’s posts through screenshots in as few as five clicks. Be careful little thumbs what you send.

Let there be more conversations between parents and kids when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, by all means. And also outside of that context let there be much more closing of lips and force quitting of apps.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

Left to Our Own Devices

The righteous don’t walk in the counsel of the wicked, which by way of application means that they must watch out for the influence of “influencers” on the digital sidewalk. It used to be that you had to go over to a friend’s house for their bad influence to rub off, and your parents probably didn’t let you follow around someone five or ten (or more) years older than you to hang out on the regular. There were some practical limits that are still practical but aren’t as practically limited today.

This is really a world wide web of issues. I want to exhort you, as parents and as a church and as young persons whose phones are often more smart than you, to get serious about knowing who you are.

You are blessed when you delight in and mediate on the law of the Lord. You are blessed as those who have been baptized into Christ. You are baptized as a disciple of Jesus, initiated into the life of learning to obey Him.

All you who believe in Christ, you are dead to your sin. All you who believe in Christ, you are raised to walk in newness of life. And all you who have been learning and growing in walking in Christ, you should help your children remember their identity as image-bearers (male or female) and as Christians.

As young people mature, they get should be helped to mature, not by being given a screen and a social media account and left alone in their room with the door shut. That isn’t a recipe for disaster, that is disaster, it’s disobedience, it’s the way to make sure a profession is choked out by the cares of the world (see Luke 8:14).

It’s been said that you can’t outrun your diet, so also you can’t out-quiet-time your timeline. As bad company corrupts good morals, so bad Instagram/TikTok/Twitter corrupts eternal truth.

Don’t feed your kids chaff, and don’t let them become chaff either. Left to our own devices the wind will drive us away.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

The Habit of the Saved

This will finish our mini-series on Confession 101. We’ve been reminded that sin is bad, everyone sins, no one else makes us sin, and that my sin needs to be addressed first. Lesson #5 is: confess your sin to whomever you’ve sinned against.

That means that confession of sin always starts with confession to God. God defines sin and disciplines sin. He is the One with whom we have to do. David once wrote, “against You, You only, have I sinned.” What David meant was that, by comparison, the stink of adultery and murder on earth didn’t compare to the stench of his offense against God in heaven. Every disobedient attitude and act is disobedience to God’s standard. We must confess our sin to Him and seek His forgiveness.

We do that at least once a week on the Lord’s day. Confession of sin to God is a regular part of our worship liturgy. But this isn’t Las Vegas; what happens here isn’t meant to stay here. We are learning to confess sin so that we would confess sin whenever we sin and to whomever we sin against. Sunday morning confession is more than practice, it is a pattern for all of our lives.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. (James 5:16a ESV)

Bitterness toward your wife requires that at least two relationships be reconciled, both the vertical and the horizontal.(1) Disrespect toward your boss requires at least two humble responses. Disobedience to parents requires at least two forgiveness requests. Confess to whomever you sinned against, God and men.

We ought not to think that the gospel heals relationships in theory. Forgiveness is not an hypothesis, it is promised by the Father, purchased by the Son, and applied by the Spirit. If you blow up at your spouse and confess it to God later on in your quiet time, that’s good, and you’re not done. The gospel enables us to get right with God and get it right with one another.

Also: seek forgiveness, or at least communicate that it’s been sought and given, in front of as many people as you sinned in front of.

Requesting and receiving forgiveness from men can’t save us, but it is the habit of those who are saved. We must confess our sin to whomever we’ve sinned against.


(1) It’s almost impossible to reconcile the multitude of theologically precise Christians, the kind who always make sure to cross the “t” in total depravity, who have never actually asked their spouse to forgive them.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

Second to None

We’ve gone over three of five lessons in our exhortation series titled Confession 101. First, sin is bad. Second, we all sin. And third, no one else makes us sin. Today we come to lesson number four: my sin is worst.

Because we live with and around other sinners and because we beat the confession drum around here at least once a week, we have to be creative in coming up with strategies to keep ourselves above others. One such strategy is to acknowledge that we sin, even to acknowledge that no one makes us sin, and yet to believe that our sin just isn’t quite as bad as the other person’s.

When we approach God to confess our sin by reminding Him, or just thinking to ourselves, that at least we’re not as angry as him or as gossipy as her, we’re still thinking about the wrong person. We should be thinking about whom? God. He is perfect in holiness. He is the standard, not someone else. We are to approach Him in humility, which isn’t happening if we’re still lifting ourselves over someone else.

To say that my sin is worst is not to say that it is categorically worse than Hitler’s sin. But I don’t have to deal with Hitler’s sin in my heart, I have to deal with mine. I can’t judge someone else before dealing with my own heart, so that makes mine sequentially worse, if not actually worse.

Paul exclaimed, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24), not “Wretched man that I am! But have you considered my cousin?” Paul declared that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (1 Timothy 1:15), not “Christ came into the world to save sinners, and I sure hope you are paying attention.”

I need to confess my sin first, second to none. Imagine how well we’d all get along if we raced to be that sort of ruthlessly humble about our own sin.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

In the Bag

We are half-way into a short series of confession exhortations under the banner of Confession 101. The first two lessons were that one, sin is bad, and two, we all sin. The third reminder is that no one makes us sin.

This is easy to believe right up until we get out of bed and have to interact with others. In the heat of disobedience every heart goes looking for the escape hatch. Since we learned that everyone sins, that means that you sin too, in fact, it must be your sin that caused me to sin. Another man’s sin, however, is never the cause of my own.

You may have sinned or you may not have but, even if you did, the most you could do is give me an opportunity to sin. You are not the boss of my soul and I cannot throw you under the confession bus for my sinful response.

Nothing outside a man ruins him. This truth is stated by Jesus in Mark 7:20-23.

What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person. (Mark 7:20–23, ESV)

Everything we need to make a mess we already have. The hot water doesn’t determine the taste of the tea, it just pulls out what was already in the bag.

Adam was the first contestant to play the blame game. When confronted on his disobedience, he blamed the woman and ultimately God Himself. “The woman You gave me…it was her fault.” When we apologize for sinning because someone else sinned first, we are still trying to make ourselves look better.

If a man couldn’t help sinning when another person sinned against him then we could never be saved. All kinds of people sinned against Jesus and yet He never sinned back. That’s good news since we needed a perfect substitute. We might be tempted to say, “Yeah, but He’s God.” True, and it’s God’s plan to make us like Him. We’re called to walk in Christ’s steps, which includes confessing that no one else makes us not.