Lord's Day Liturgy

We Are Regulars Here

The unbelieving world has no definite standard, no supreme source, no consistent method, no reliable mirror for determining identity. Some lies sound more plausible, some uniforms look more popular, some complaints feel more cathartic, at least temporarily. The world has a mold (Romans 12:2), and the father of lies has offspring (John 8:44), but the template of hell is confusion, exile, and discontent.

Our Father gives us comfort, peace, and rejoicing. He tells us who we are, shows us in Christ what we will be (1 John 3:2), and seals us with His own Spirit as a guarantee of our eternal inheritance (Ephesians 1:13-14).

As a church we affirm identity in the waters of baptism, around the table of communion, and through the process of membership. Baptism is the initial ordinance of identify professed and affirmed, communion is an ongoing ordinance of identity by obedience, and membership takes over the responsibility of affirming identity from another local church.

When it comes to membership, a local church must remember that she is part of the universal church. A local church must also affirm those into membership who call on the Lord’s name and are part of the kingdom of Christ and God. A local church must affirm the identity of her members through shepherding and discipling and discipline. The church also comes together to the Supper; we are regulars here.

As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim that you are the people waiting for and hastening the day of the Lord’s return (1 Corinthians 11:26; 2 Peter 3:12).

Lord's Day Liturgy

Identity Requires Faith

Recognizing our identity requires faith.

Many of the ladies in our church have been reading and discussing a book about identity. Being a woman is part of one’s identity (if you are a woman), as is being a man. Recognizing that difference does not require wisdom, though in our day it does require honesty and courage. Some are young, some are old, and God speaks to the different glories of each kind. We are not all the same part of the body, we do not all have the same spiritual gifts. These categories, and others, belong with who we believe ourselves to be as image-bearers of God and as disciples of Christ.

I mentioned a few months ago the difference between optimists and pessimists, not regarding world history per se, but regarding personal sanctification. I want to cover that ground again from a different angle because identifying ourselves correctly affects our hope.

Christian, are you a sinner or are you saint? Are you guilty before God or justified in Christ’s righteousness? Are you a conquerer, or are you a coward, a compromiser, a loser?

Here’s the giveaway: if you are asking those questions, the answer is obvious. If you are not asking those questions, there is an obvious problem.

If you struggle to identify as a saint, knowing that you sin and that you have to repent from sin and that you hate sin, then the Bible commands you to identify as “alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 5:11). This is not telling yourself a lie, it is the way you reckon with having died with Christ to sin. If you see that you are wretched, and long for full deliverance from sin (Romans 7:24), then you must acknowledge that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Are you weak, are you groaning, then you should know that in all these things you are more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37).

This is not trying to convince yourself of something to make it true, this is the life of believing what Christ said is true.

It’s those who say that they don’t have sin who God identifies as liars (1 John 1:10). So speak the truth, confess your sin, as overcomers of the world by faith that Jesus is the Son of God.

Lord's Day Liturgy

A Bad Identity

I am not the first to register it, but I definitely want to repeat it: being a victim is a bad identity.

There are genuine victims. Some victims have been treated brutally. This is a world of sin, and sinners sin against others in wicked ways, and not always because the other person brought it on himself. Decisions are made that are unfair, contracts are broken, payments extorted, acts committed that really do damage others.

There are also bogus victims. Some victims have never been a situation that they couldn’t twist to find themselves into the victim’s role. It could have started with a small misperception turned into a federal case, it could be a complete misrepresentation of reality, a lie to cover your own conduct with a story that keeps throwing the bucket in the sympathy well. There are micro-aggression chasers, how-have-you-hurt-me-today journal keepers, and these demean real victims while doing no good for themselves.

Christians will be tested, reviled, beaten, lied about, discriminated against, and even killed. They will suffer, unjustly, and Jesus said: Don’t be surprised (1 Peter 4:12). Jesus also said: Rejoice (1 Peter 4:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:16; Philippians 4:4).

Jesus also became the ultimate sacrificial victim in order to give you a new name, a new identity. He laid down His life so that you could have life, not so that you could more accurately complain, with Bible references and everything.

If you are a true target of another’s sin, trust God. Repent from your sin, and obey. If you are tempted to blame your bad feelings on others, if you always see yourself as the Oppressed, if you find it easier to live by complaint than by faith with thanks, repent. Your identity is Whose you are, not what has been done to you.

The End of Many Books

You Who?

Why You Matter and How to Deal with It
by Rachel Jankovic

How could I not give 5 of 5 stars to a book dedicated to my wife?!

It is, though, in light of the dedication, sort of ironic that Rachel has an entire chapter against personality tests, while Mo enjoys them, and I’d say uses the insights she gets from them with great wisdom and charity.

I think the review by my oldest daughter and by my friend, Leila, are also helpful.

Though I’m not a woman, and have never wanted to identify as a woman, I am married to one, am a dad to three young ladies, and help shepherd a flock with many females who definitely will benefit from this book.

5 of 5 stars

Lord's Day Liturgy

Overactive Victimhood

One of our cultural contagions is overactive victimhood. Everyone is a victim of something and, once a victim, always a victim. This isn’t to deny longstanding results of being sinned against, or even the existence of permanent scars. It is to say that a person’s identity does not need to be in victimness.

Christians should be able to show how this is done and to provide a way to talk about identity according to the gospel.

When Jesus saves, He saves us into a new identity. Peter wrote:

Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:10)

Salvation changes our status. It gives us a testimony, and that testimony doesn’t deny the past. Our testimony acknowledges the past as the past on the way to affirming what is true now. We were lost, now we’re found. We we’re blind, now we see. We were dead, He has made us alive. We remember where we were in order to rejoice in who we are.

Of course we were not the only victim in our testimony. We were also the offenders in a previous situation. In order for our offense to be forgiven, Jesus had to die. Jesus will always be known as the sacrificial victim, but the victim who volunteered and who won. He is the “Lamb standing as though it had been slain” (Revelation 5:6). We will never forget His suffering, but His suffering will forever be a cause, not of sadness, but of celebration. His sacrifice purchased our eternal life. It belongs with His mercy that caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

We are the house of the Lord. We are His dwelling place, an assembly of those who have received mercy by the blood of the Lamb, and God is pleased to eat with us.