Categories
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.

Categories
Lord's Day Liturgy

Wise in His Own Worship

Perhaps one of the most response-provoking visits of our trip to the United Kingdom was an unscheduled stop for Sunday morning worship at a church in Coventry, England. Our coach driver had a friend who attends the church there and, though that friend ended up not being there, we enjoyed a different service than most of us are accustomed to.

Everything was different, and similar, all at the same time. Most of our students, however, saw more of the differences than the similarities. We sang a few of the seven-eleven songs—songs with seven lyrics repeated eleven times—and that is not an exaggeration. There was nothing heretical said, though it was comparatively light.

We had quite a conversation on the coach following the service that continued over the next day or so. Of course our church has been working to develop our liturgy, to deepen our understanding and practice of worship, and some of our youth had not really experienced Church Lite.

It was fantastic, in one way, to hear their critiques. Where was the sense of sin? Where was the repentance? Was the service attempting to manipulate emotionally? How did the preacher connect his points? Were his illustrations appropriate?

The Bible urges us to watch others and consider their conduct. The Proverbs are full of persons to observe, most of whom we should avoid. In 1 Corinthians 10 Paul admonished believers to not be like the entire generation of disobedient.

But, the primary point of all this is to remind us to repent. Look at them, and think about what I am doing wrong, how I am sinning, how I need to grow up. It is the wrong way to appreciate our emphasis in worship on sin and repentance and be best at criticizing others who don’t do it like us.

Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
(Proverbs 26:12)

Categories
Lord's Day Liturgy

Convicting Clarity

According to the Bible some practices are more profitable than others during the assembled worship of a church. Paul emphasized the value of prophetic utterance over tongue-talking in 1 Corinthians 14. He esteemed speaking “to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation” (verse 3). Such profit requires intelligibility, using language with discernible meaning communicated to minds outside of the speaker’s. Such manifestations build up the church (verse 12).

What is edifying clarity for the church is also a convicting clarity to unbelieving visitors.

But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you. (1 Corinthians 14:24–25)

Truth, like light, reveals hearts, and the clarity brings conviction, possibly consolation in Christ, but not comfortability. The outsider–one outside of Christ, not a part of the church–is convicted, accountable, exposed, and humbled as God’s Spirit works. This reaction enables him to confirm that God is present.

An unbelieving guest may or may not hear more than one voice, but he should be able to watch the response of the church to truth understood. The believers’ hearts are exposed and they humbly fall on their faces to worship God. The outsider is convicted by seeing the insiders convicted.

Our weekly confession of sin is part of our corporate witness. When God is really among us, we are not running from conviction and accountability but rather responding to it. A whole church falling on their faces will be a potent proof of God’s presence.

Categories
Lord's Day Liturgy

The Gunk on Our Glasses

What is the purpose, could we even say benefit, of planning a time in our worship service every Lord’s Day to confess our sins? Is our focus on sin a way of worshipping sin? It’s certainly not meant to be. Is worship with a focus on our sin a guilt-producing event? “You probably haven’t felt as bad as you should have this past week, sinner. Don’t you realize what a worm you are?” Did God created us and then reveal all the ways we’ve failed so that He could rub our faces in it? “You will never be Me. You will never be as good as Me.”

God’s law does reveal that all of us have sinned and fall short of His glory. We have broken His Word and failed to reflect Him properly as image-bearers. His Word cuts and convicts. His Spirit grants mourning over and repentance from sin. But all of this is a blessed burden because it brings us to know Him better. That is the purpose and the benefit of confession: that we learn more about who God is.

Worship is an expression of love for God. Confession of sin, and the process to get to that confession, reminds us of the holy and righteous character of God. His holiness is part of His excellence, a reason for highest praise. His holiness is part of His beauty, a reason for deepest admiration. Our sin not only blinds us from seeing Him, sin also makes us think something other about Him. If we ask Him to open the eyes of our hearts so that we can see Him, confession is cleaning the gunk off of our glasses.

The exhortation to confession–no matter the specific subject or if that particular week’s address pierces your conscience–is an act of theology reminding us that God is holy. He calls everyone to worship Him, but in order for us to worship Him rightly, we must worship Him as holy.

Categories
Lord's Day Liturgy

The Whole Row

One attribute of God in Genesis one that isn’t always mentioned by commentators, theologians, and preachers is that our God gives. All of creation is overflow. He doesn’t make anything because He needs it, or so that He could take something back from it, or so that He could have servants who will do work He finds distasteful on it. Look at the creation story less as an answer to scientific questions and more as an answer to sociological questions. If this is God, and He made us to bear His image, what should we do?

There is no relationship under the sun unaffected by that constant catechism. But since we have a parenting seminar coming up at the end of this month I thought I’d take a moment to apply creation theology to dads and church. How do Genesis 1, parenting, and liturgy fit together? Is there application for fathers when they recognize that creation sings the Father’s song?

God made us to be particular kinds of people. We are worshippers, but even how we worship should show something of what He’s like. For example, He is a God of order. Our worship should not be chaotic, but should include structure and regularity. Also, God is a God who gives. God gave a place for men, God gave food to men. He gave us stars and seas, fruits and veggies, birds, bugs, and birthing bovine all for man to receive with thanks and joy. God made it all and gave it to man.

That means, among other things, that dads should give to their kids, and the corporate meeting of the church for worship is no exception. Give a place to sit, maybe the squirmiest one right next to you. Give attention. Give direction. Give an arm around his shoulder or a pat on her back. Give a small piece of candy (one they won’t choke on, and maybe unwrap it a bit pre-service if necessary). Give some paper to color. Give encouragement. Give example.

You may need to plan how to make church sweet. But shouldn’t you? I’m not talking about turning your pew into an amusement park. I’m talking about dad leading in giving in such a way that the kids receive these ninety-plus minutes as good. This isn’t just to keep them quiet. This isn’t just because God takes worship seriously. It’s because we are showing what God is like even now.

What are you showing? How are you helping to lead your family in joy? When we think about it that way, who needs to grow up most? It isn’t only our kids, it’s the whole row.

Categories
Lord's Day Liturgy

THIQ Obedience

Most Christians probably don’t need another acronym for our spiritual walk, and yet a well-applied acronym can slow down unraveling strings when we’re in the fray. YMMV but, at our house, we’ve written a certain acronym on our “heinie remindie” tool (AKA, “the rod”) to remind us all about obedience.

What is obedience? Oftentimes a child who asks the question knows the definition, he’s filibustering to save his fanny. In order to avoid the need for a word study in the heat of a disobedience, we talk about obedience that is THIQ: total, happy, immediate, and quick. Admittedly, that may not be the best logical order but IQTH doesn’t quite roll of the tongue.

THIQ obedience is total, doing everything that was assigned. It is happy, cheerful, without anger or tormented countenance. It is immediate, not traded for an obedience to be named later. And it is quick, not poky, dawdling, or meandering.

I mentioned THIQ obedience that we describe to our kids during corporate worship because worship is one of the best times for parents to model THIQ obedience for our kids. Where should they learn how to obey? They learn as we correct and train them, yes, and they learn by watching us. Our obedience and our worship should be THIQ. Our confession before God should acknowledge when it isn’t.

Are we worshipping totally, whole-hearted and fully engaged? Are we worshipping happily, gladly and without burden? Are we worshipping immediately, that is readily, when He calls, or when we’re ready to get around to it? And are we worshipping quickly, running with our hands on the worship battering ram, or are we just out for a Sunday stroll? If we’re not THIQ, let’s show our kids how we want them to respond when they disobey: humbly confessing our sin and seeking forgiveness promised in the gospel.