Good afternoon brothers and sisters,
It is so delightful to look out my office window and see the sun shining with no threat of rain on the immediate horizon. Summer does not officially begin until June 21, but it feels like summer now and I’m certainly okay with that, as I suspect most of you are as well.
I’ve been reading a book recently entitled Learning to Love the Psalms by Robert Godfrey. I had no idea as to the complexity and the insight it took to arrange the Psalms in a way they are (divinely) arranged…and there is a pattern to their arrangement. Long have I been aware that the Psalms are divided into five books but I did understand the some of the emphases that are unique to each book.
Dr. Godfrey explains it this way. “Is the book of Psalms as a whole largely random in its order? It is just an anthology of poems that would mean that just the same if the poems were in an entirely different arrangement? It is tempting to think so. Even after many years of living with the Psalms, I did not sense any particular flow to the Psalter. In recent years, however, I have begun to see a structure in the Psalms. From conversations with faculty members, from reading books on the subject, and from my own study, I have begun to understand something of the development and movement of the book of Psalms. I do not feel that I have reached any comprehensive conclusions about the position of every psalm in the Psalter. But I hope that by conveying what I discovered, I can help others appreciate the Psalter and perhaps even advanced on what is done here.”
He has certainly done that for me. He has given me an even greater appreciation for the beauty and great value of the Psalter. In recent years the Psalter (the 150 poems or songs that comprise the Psalter) has increasingly become my lodestar.
At last month’s session meeting, the elders asked me if it would be helpful to preach only every other Lord’s Day.
Initially, I was reticent to do so, thinking that I would be shirking my duties and responsibilities. However, with their encouragement and recognizing how increasingly difficult it is to stay focused on the task in front of me…the preparation of a sermon, I acquiesced to their kind offer. Sooo, until my retirement date of July 31, I will preach only every other week. We will have other brothers bringing us God’s Word on the alternating Lord’s Days. This week David Franks will be in the pulpit for us. He always does a fine job. The Order of Worship is attached.
Isn’t our Lord so very good to us? For a congregation to unanimously elect to call a new pastor is, I would think, somewhat rare. There is very often at least one “malcontent” in the congregation who is never quite satisfied. But God moved in hearts of our congregation so that there was absolute unanimity. That is what we had prayed for and our Lord heard our prayers.
I’ve been in contact with the Moderator of our Presbytery, Danny Olinger, and we have a firm date on which the special meeting of presbytery will take place. That date is June 28. The location and time has yet to be finalized but we should be able to nail that down as well very shortly. Please pray for all the details that have yet to be worked out for a smooth transition.
· June 9 –Young Adults Fellowship Group
· June 10–Ladies Meeting
· June 15 –Young Adults Fellowship Group
· June 16–Adults Fellowship Group (westsiders)
· June 17–Adults Fellowship Group (townies)
· June 23–Neighborhood Fellowship
· June 25–Mike and Lili McCabe (missionaries to China)
· June 30–Feet ‘n Eat– Turkey Run State Park
The knowledge of Jesus Christ is the very marrow and kernel of all the Scriptures; the scope and center of all divine revelations: both Testaments meet in Christ…The right knowledge of Jesus Christ, like a clue, leads you through the whole labyrinth of the Scriptures.–John Flavel
We wept when we were born though all around us smiled; so shall we smile when we die while all around us weep. —C.H. Spurgeon
The mere fact itself that God’s will is irresistible and irreversible fills me with fear, but once I realize that God wills only that which is good, my heart is made to rejoice. —A.W. Pink
Trust in God, not explanations from God, is the pathway through suffering. —Ray Ortlund
The upside, to a sinner, is that an impersonal, amoral force makes no ethical demands on anyone. The downside, however, is that there is nobody home. —R.C. Sproul
The holiness of the triune God is the perfection, beauty and absolute purity of the love there is between the Father and the Son. —Michael Reeves
Sin doesn’t love us. It tries to use us, abuse us, enslave us, control us, and ultimately destroy us. Sin takes from us and gives nothing in return. —Tim Chester
LOVE IS NOT A FEELING
Carl R. Trueman
The recent open letter to Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School is a model for responding graciously yet firmly to wrong-headed attempts to address Christianity and the LGBTQ issue. After the school announced in an email that its alumnae magazine would in future carry notices of same-sex unions, a group of alums gently skewered the false alternative of love or Christian teaching, thereby demolishing the school’s argument for this policy change.
False alternatives are standard fare in contemporary Christian approaches to political issues, where “love”—a code word for whatever the political piety du jour may be—is set in opposition to “dogma” or “doctrine”—code words for whatever piece of traditional Christian teaching is deemed to be inconsistent with said political piety. Therefore, the Georgetown Visitation incident is emblematic of a larger problem: The school’s policy change does not represent a more Christian approach, but actually expresses the secular mindset in a Christian idiom. READ MORE…
Just Showing Up
What, if anything, is distinctively Christian about our work?
From time to time, I hear Christians ask this question. A good part of the answer comes from Woody Allen.
The filmmaker is credited with saying, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Or, to give it a Christian twist, 80 percent of “doing the Lord’s work” is just showing up.
Our God works through means. Often those means are us. For instance, if we want to see justice done on earth, we first have to go to work. If we don’t show up, justice typically doesn’t happen. READ MORE…
Are There Degrees of Sin?
Historically speaking, both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism have understood that there are degrees of sin. The Roman Catholic church makes a distinction between mortal and venial sin. The point of that distinction is that there are some sins so gross, heinous, and serious that the actual commission of those sins is mortal in the sense that it kills the grace of justification that resides in the soul of the believer. In their theology, not every sin is devastating to that degree. There are some real sins that are venial sins. These are less serious sins in terms of their consequences, but they don’t have the justification-killing capacity that mortal sins have.
Many evangelical Protestants have rejected the idea of degrees of sin because they know that the Protestant Reformation rejected the Roman Catholic distinction between mortal and venial sins. As a result, they’ve jumped to the conclusion that there are no distinctions between sins in Protestantism. READ MORE…
Three Approaches to Ecclesiastes
In my observation, Ecclesiastes is second only to Revelation in the number of competing interpretive approaches available to readers of the book. It offers a great case study in how perception can drastically affect both interpretation and application. This fact ought to motivate us to be as meticulous as possible in observing the text within its context.
I’ve found interpreters of Ecclesiastes to fall into three general categories, though there are subtle distinctions of flavor even within each category. For an excellent and thorough review of interpretive approaches to Ecclesiastes, along with a careful analysis of the text itself and its place in Scripture, see this helpful (though lengthy) article from the Kerux journal. READ MORE…
The Bible’s Three Big Lessons on Debt
The Bible has a lot to say about money, and for good reason. Money, we find, has a uniquely powerful way of exposing our hearts and displaying our priorities. Ultimately, we see that it comes down to a matter of loyalty: “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24). As Christians, we must love God rather than money, for “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” (1 Timothy 6:10).
As the Bible teaches about money, it warns about debt. In fact, it offers three big lessons on debt. READ MORE…
What We Lose When We Collapse the Four Gospels into One
The ordinary Christian adult would struggle to articulate why we have four Gospel accounts rather than one. Wouldn’t it be simpler if we only had one account? Do differences among the four accounts invite unnecessary doubt? Do similarities among the four accounts create unhelpful redundancy?
Many people read the Bible a verse or two at a time, simply looking for a quick dose of inspiration. They might think they’re faithful Bible readers, but they’re barely scratching the surface. They’ve been trained to read small sections—not entire books—of the Bible, and this practice negatively affects their reading experience.
As a father, I see how most resources for young children don’t teach them to read entire books of the Bible, especially when it comes to the Gospels. Children’s books about Jesus tell stories without saying which Gospel account they come from. Books that helpfully summarize the whole Bible, such as The Jesus Storybook Bible or The Biggest Story, collapse the four Gospel accounts into one as well. They don’t explain how Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John differ from and complement one another. READ MORE…
Retake Your Heart: Five Reasons for Fresh Courage
“Take heart.” Imagine hearing those two words, as the disciples often did, from the mouth of God himself in the flesh.
And yet how flat these words can fall when we say them to our own hearts. If only we could up and redirect our hearts. None of us wants to be down. Far too often, though, our hearts seem to lie beyond our reach, outside our control.
However discouraged you may feel, your flagging heart never lies beyond the reach of Christ. No matter how troubled, how unsettled, how fickle, how disoriented, how despondent, Jesus can handle your ailing heart. “There are many sorts of broken hearts,” says Charles Spurgeon, “and Christ is good at healing them all.” 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