Good evening brother and sisters…
Early tomorrow morning I, along with Elder Cameron Cox, will be heading for Springfield Ohio for the Spring Stated Meeting of the Presbytery of Ohio. That always makes for a busy week and that pattern has not changed for this week.
Sooo, I will be quite brief in this edition of Pastor’s Post-it.
I trust you remember that this weekend Daylight Savings Time kicks in. Yep, we lose an hour of sleep unless you get yourself to bed an hour earlier than usual.
This Lord’s Day we will be blessed to have Rev. Danny Olinger with us. In his former position as the Regional Home Missionary of the Presbytery of Ohio, Danny was hugely influential in shepherding us into the OPC. He personally mentored me for nearly a year in preparation for my examinations by the Presbytery Ohio. He presently serves as the General Secretary of Christian Education for the OPC. In that role, he has oversight for our monthly denominational magazine, New Horizons as well as the journal for church offices, Ordained Servant. His office also oversees the MTIOPC (Ministerial Training Institute) which provides ongoing training for ministers, elders and deacons. Those are just a few of the numerous duties which are part of his job description. He will be bringing us an update on the work of Christian Education as well as opening God’s Word for us. It is both a privilege and a delight to have him here with us. He is a most dear brother. The Order of Worship is attached.
· March 11 – Ladies Group
· March 13 – Session meets
· March 16 – Young Adults Fellowship Group
· March 17 – Adults Fellowship Group (westsiders)
· March 18 – Adults Fellowship Group (townies)
· March 24 – Neighborhood Fellowship
· March 25 – Ladies Group
· March 31 – Psalm/hymn sing
· April 1 – Adults Fellowship Group (townies)
· April 3 – Deacons meet
· April 7 – Fellowship Meal
· April 7 – Prayer service (immediately following Fellowship Meal)
· April 8 – Ladies Group
· April 10 – Session meets
· April 14 – Young Adults Fellowship Group
· April 15 – Adults Fellowship Group (townies)
· April 20 – Spring Feet ‘n Eat
· April 21 – Resurrection Day breakfast
· April 21 – Adults Fellowship Group (westsiders)
· April 22 – Ladies Group
· April 27 – Spring Workday (at the building)
· April 28 – Neighborhood Fellowship
You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled. —C.H. Spurgeon+
“Thinking Christian” should be a redundancy, not an oxymoron. —Albert Mohler
Nothing so clears the vision and lifts up the life, as a decision to move forward in what you know to be entirely the will of the Lord. —John Paton
The common, outward prosperity may be given to the wicked, who have their portion in this life, prosperity of soul is not. —Richard Baxter
Lord, the task is impossible for me but not for Thee. Lead the way and I will follow. —Mary Slessor
With each passing beatitude in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, it becomes more and more clear that a person cannot be a genuine Christian without have their attitudes and actions completely and radically transformed from the inside out. Regardless the extent of your exegetical gymnastics, there is no possibility of developing a theology of salvation by works from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5. In fact, it is quite the opposite. The beatitudes are shining reminders that when a person is saved by grace through faith, their life will begin to manifest attitudes of genuine humility, gentleness, righteousness, mercy, purity, and peacemaking.
In Matthew 5:9, Jesus states, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Jesus is not giving priority to how one might become a “son of God,” but is emphasizing that the likeness of “sons of God” have to their heavenly Father––for God is a “God of peace” (Romans 16:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 13:20). From the moment man was exiled from the garden in Genesis 3 because of sin to the climax of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s plan has been to bring about lasting peace between himself and man, and then between man and man. Paul describes God as a peacemaker in 2 Corinthians 5:19, “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” Therefore, since this is a characteristic of their heavenly Father, peacemaking should also characterize the “sons of God.” READ MORE…
The Training Ground of Sound Doctrine
For over a decade, I have been reviewing books that are of particular interest to Christians. While the vast majority of the titles I have reviewed are solid works founded on biblical principles, I am far better known for those occasional reviews of the very worst books in the Christian world. Sadly, these books that teach the worst are often the books that sell the best.
I do not relish writing such reviews. That’s partly because they meet plenty of backlash. But it’s mostly because I find writing them very sorrowful. It’s sorrowful to witness the church’s widespread theological ignorance exposed by these books’ popularity. Because Christians are not trained in sound doctrine, they wholeheartedly embrace error, often finding it more satisfying than God’s revealed truth.
There are many reasons that ignorance pervades today’s church. For decades, Christians have focused on felt needs rather than doctrinal truth. We have focused on immediately-applicable topical sermons rather than verse-by-verse exposition that unleashes the whole truth of God’s whole Word. We have ceased catechizing our children, building within them a solid, systematic foundation for their faith. We have emphasized Christianity as a relationship with God at the expense of Christianity as an established body of truth. In so many ways, we have focused on feelings rather than facts. We have attempted to make Christianity palatable by making it simplistic.
Why I Don’t See Tithing as the Pinnacle of Christian Virtue, OR as Something Legalistic
I first became aware of tithing as a teenager when my pastor preached on the importance of supporting the local congregation. His sermon drew on Galatians 6:6: “Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.”
As a new believer, I was already giving significantly beyond 10 percent to world missions and organizations working with suffering Christians. However, what I determined to do at that point was to give 10 percent to the church. I then sensed a vested interest in my church. By that time I understood what Jesus was saying in Matthew 6:19–21, in terms of storing up for ourselves treasures in Heaven, and when you give to something, where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. READ MORE…
Desperately Seeking Transcendence
The church, an institution whose existence transcends present history, struggles to offer its members its own chief good: transcendence.
The church is not made by men. It was not created by an agency. It has no earthly origin. The church is the brainchild of God. The church has existence for one and only reason: God dreamed it into being. God began it. God wanted it to exist.
As the people of God, the church is more about heaven than earth. It is not as if earth created the church. Heaven created the church. The church only lives at all because the Father willed to form a people for Himself by the blood of his Son and the sealing of his Spirit (Ephesians 1). Take away God, and there is no church. There is no worship. There is no people of God.
How strange, then, that churches would grasp after immanence in their weekly worship. How odd that churches would strive “to make people feel comfortable” in their services. There is nothing quaint and glancing about worshipping God in the Bible. Though we view worship in anodyne terms—dimmed lights and flaring guitars—biblical worship centers in holy duties: reading the Word, confessing our sin, singing hymns to God, sitting under the Word preached. These are not immanentist activities. They are holy, set-apart duties of the church. READ MORE..
How Do We Explain Talking Donkeys and Burning Bushes?
I’m completely committed to the authority of the Word of God and to all it teaches including its inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility. Unfortunately, I have this nagging doubt that I feel plagues me at times when I read certain portions of Scripture. It’s not a doubt caused by “apparent” contradictions and the like, but a reservation and doubt as I read the portions that seem like they could be straight out of a fairy tale—things like a talking serpent, a special tree, a burning bush, Balaam’s talking donkey, Samson slaying a thousand men with the jawbone of a donkey, a pillar of cloud and fire that went ahead of the Israelites in the wilderness, and so on. On top of that, there are the difficult passages that gnaw at the question of God’s goodness when he deals out justice. When I read Scripture with my children and things like these come up, I feel perplexed and even a little disingenuous as I try to communicate why these stories are true but why those in The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe are not. Could you help?
Thank you for your note. I appreciate your honesty. Please know that doubt isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. Doubt can be a sign that you are taking your faith seriously. I sometimes worry about Christians who have no questions. That can be a sign they aren’t paying much attention to their faith or the world around them.
You mentioned that you believe the Bible but sometimes struggle with parts that seem like they could be ripped from a fairy tale: talking snakes and donkeys, fish swallowing men whole then vomiting them up on land so they can preach God’s judgment, and stuff like the sun standing still for an entire day. READ MORE…
Has Christian Apologetics Failed?
In the past year, I have been writing extensively about the Jordan Peterson phenomenon and what the Church can take away from it. As I and friends of mine have observed, Peterson’s rise has been sparking a surprising and heartening renewal of interest in spiritual things generally and Christianity specifically. Pastors all around the world have reported that people, young men in particular, are literally wandering into their churches for the first time at a shockingly accelerated rate. By any standard, this is good news for Christians. But it’s sparked a certain amount of reflection, some of which I summed up in my last post on the topic, “5 Lessons Jordan Peterson Has Taught the Church.” Today, I want to look at one specific sub-question that Peterson’s rise has induced in some of my discussion circles: Has Christian apologetics failed?
To imitate Peterson’s signature style of question-answering, it depends on what you mean by “apologetics.” And it depends on what you mean by “failed.”
Because “Christian apologetics” is not a monolith, it’s important to make some distinctions when answering this question. Are we talking about Ray Comfort, Sye Ten Bruggencate, and Ken Ham? Or are we talking about William Lane Craig, John Lennox, or Ravi Zacharias? Are we talking about young earth and global flood apologetics, or arguments for the resurrection and the reliability of the gospels? Are we talking about general arguments for theism? Are we talking in broad outline about any attempt to “reason one’s way to God” within what some might pejoratively call a “modernist frame?” It’s not my intent to do a deep dive into all the various and sundry “apologetics cottage industries” here. My point is simply that context matters, and the answer to our main question will vary depending on which context we choose. READ MORE…
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
“In the sphere of religion, as in other spheres, the things about which men are agreed are apt to be the things that are least worth holding; the really important things are the things about which men will fight.” J. Gresham Machen
“When Christ calls a man – he bids him come and die.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer