Church Newsletter 8-15-2018

Saints,

Isn’t it amazing how quickly we forget what the sermon was about? Isn’t it amazing how quickly the cares of the world drain our Sabbath joy?

Hoping to encourage you all, I am going to send out a newsletter on Wednesdays that will consist of “filling up the edges;” follow up to the sermon or excerpts edited out on Sunday morning, resources from around the web and a devotional to aid in your preparations for the next Sunday Service.

It’s important to slow down, quiet your mind and reflect on what we are learning as a church, as a church. There are a lot of distractions in the world but consider the following a point of renewal, which the whole church is participating in together. Pray for the recipients of this email and the worship service to which we are all heading together.

I pray that this is an aid to stay in touch with you all midweek, as well as, a way to “be of the same mind,” (Phil. 2:2).

Filling up the edges

The whole idea for the sermon titled “The Gospel according to Mark according to Peter according to Christ,” came from the idea the scriptures are a product of the Body of Christ. Jesus is the message, He first entrustred that message to men who would write it down. Jesus then preserved it through centuries of history. Finally faithful men died that it might be transmitted into English and the Lord blessed their effort by putting the gilded leather copy in your hands. Give thanks.

The following was edited out of the sermon do to time restraints but summarizes the whole sermon nicely:

John Piper explains “From the beginning of his ministry, Jesus was preparing for the transmission of his truth and authority to his church through authorized spokesmen who would teach with his authority, commit their teaching to writing, and leave a body of inspired writings through which Christ would govern his church until his return. Christ did this by calling, commissioning, and then sending the spirit to guide the apostles.”

The Word of God always intended to govern the church of God through words. Not just any words, words he arranged by the power of the Holy Spirit to be read and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is called organic inspiration and we can see through the transmission of the Gospel from Jesus to Peter, Peter to Mark and Mark to us, that this is indeed the case.

Theologian John Frame explains organic Inspiration this way; “God used all the distinct personal qualities of each writer. God used the differences of heredity, environment, upbringing, education, gifts, talents, styles, interests, and idiosyncrasies to reveal his word. The differences were not a barrier that God had to overcome. Rather, they were God’s chosen means of communication with us. God’s word is complex and nuanced, muliperspectival. God used the organic complexity of human persons and the diversities among persons to communicate the complexity of his own personal word. He used Human persons to communicate with us in fully personal ways.”

In Genesis God said he made man in His image, male and female He made Them. A community is the best image of the Triune God. The best written revelation of this God is transmitted the same way; through a community in all its diversity and unity.

Jesus was the first Christian preacher and He declared His kingship in word and Deed. Peter preached that same message as an eyewitness. John Mark Recorded it and compiled it for Roman Christians, all the while, Jesus the Lord, by the Spirit, was preparing a message for the whole world.

Mark’s task was to project Christian faith in a climate of uncertainty where martyrdom had been a reality. He selected and arranged the tradition to present the Christ who continues to speak and act meaningfully in the context of crisis. What was demanded by the Roman Christian’s situation was not a past word, descriptive of what Jesus had said and done, but a word from the present through which the Living Lord could be here and known. 

And so reading the gospel of Mark we meet the Lord Jesus here and now.

Around the worldwide web

The link is to the podcasts of Parish Presbyterian Church. #19 is Pastor George Grant’s first sermon on Mark and it is wonderful. I suggest you subscribe, if you like good podcasts or good sermons.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/parish-presbyterian-church-podcasts/id691474731?mt=2

Devotional

The Gloria

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will.

We praise you,
we bless you,
we adore you,
we glorify you,
we give you thanks for your great glory, Lord God, heavenly King,

O God, almighty Father.

Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son,
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us;
you take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,

with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father.

Amen.

 

Out Of Darkness

“What does God say in the gospel? He announces the most staggering free gift of all time. He offers total rescue (that is, Salvation) from the rebellious nonconformity to himself which is the root of all our guilt, misery and frustration, and whose bible name is sin. He promises a new, endless life of pardon, peace, moral power, and joyful purpose to all who are humble enough not to try and earn it, but simply receive it.

How can God make this offer? Through Christ’s death as a sacrifice for sins. How do we receive this life? By renouncing rebellion, and embracing the risen savior as our Master; the life is found within that relationship. What happens then? Increasingly we prove the truth of Jesus’ words, “He who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). ”

Growing in Christ. Packer, J.I. 104.

 

 

 

Sifting the Sons of God

Luke 22:31-32 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”  

Now a few things to note. Jesus uses Peter’s pre-Christian name foreshadowing Peter’s fall back to old ways of thinking. He also says Simon twice which is a Jewish rhetorical device signifying emphasis and sorrow like when Jesus laments “Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” in Matthew 23:37.

The circumstances of our life that result from sin and the necessity of its cure, grieves Jesus. He is not a doctor working on lab rats. He is a wholehearted and invested physician.

Also, the “you,” is plural. Satan desires to sift all the disciples, not just Peter.

Furthermore, Satan asks permission. Satan is God’s instrument. Satan only has the authority granted to Him by God. That should put our spiritual warfare against Satan into some much needed perspective. Dualism is a modern sin common in Modern Christianity. Satan is not God’s equal. Satan is God’s errand boy. Also, Jesus grants permission. Why would He do that? Why would a good God allow bad things to happen?

To sift wheat means to shake it violently, so that the chaff flows away on the wind and the wheat remains. Now, to be shaken violently does not feel good, but it does purify the wheat.

So here is the set up. Jesus tells Peter what is going to happen to Him and what the result will be. But does Peter take it to heart? Does it prevent Peter from going through it?

Satan asks to sift Jesus’ disciples and Jesus allows it because He wants us to be shaken, so that we will learn to cling to Him, the immovable rock, the solid cornerstone. That we might experience and know what we are incapable of and what He is capable of.

Cancer asks to sift us. Infertility asks to sift us. Doubt asks to sift us. The election asks to sift us. And God grants to them the opportunity to show us our weakness and show us His strength.

Most astoundingly, Jesus foretells Peter’s fall but also His return. Jesus knows that Peter will be sifted, will fall for a time but ultimately will prevail, he will “turn again” which means repent. Peter will be shaken to His very core but will stand strong.   Continue reading “Sifting the Sons of God”

Don’t Kill Your Wife With Curriculum

I want to tell you homeschool husbands a secret. Something you don’t know that, if you did know, would bring more joy and contentment to your home. I worked for two years at a Classical Christian School. I was in the staff meetings and homework planning sessions. The secret is: NO TEACHER, TEACHES THE ENTIRE CURRICULUM IN EVERY SUBJECT, IN ANY GIVEN YEAR.

You know why? Because the curriculum is a guide, its an estimation –  its an ideal. You teach to the student’s ability and understanding, not a strict, objective standard. For teachers there are things that arise like difficulties in some concept that requires a great deal more time and effort. There are illnesses and snow days. There are distractions. Every teacher gets in the final weeks of a school year and has to decide what is the most important concept or concepts to cover. Because there is always next year.

The ditches for homeschool families are either – viewing the curriculum as a mere suggestion and not covering most of it, or,  for most homeschoolers, the ditch hubby drives mom into where she MUST do all the curriculum in a given year. ALL OF IT.  This is the fear of being left behind, or undereducated. The ditch that looks at the money spent and and the professional looking syllabuses and wants to keep up with the standard.

But curriculum isn’t that kind of standard. Any given curriculum is going to outline more work than can be done in a year.

The thing with homeschooling is that depending on the number of kids, the amount of resources and the gifting of mom, you are making an exchange.

We have six kids. Five boys. We did the day school thing. But we exchanged all that rigor and professionalism and TIME because I would rather my kids get slightly less “professional” instruction, if it means they can get it done in 1/3 of the time and then go outside and build a tree fort. We exchanged seven  subjects for four because, its not the quantity but quality that matters. If my kids spend years and years reading their bibles but don’t do a science lab till they are sixteen, then amen.

Reading covers a multitude of sins.

Husbands, your wife doesn’t have to cover the whole curriculum. Its summer time. Its time for your kids to learn other things. How to mow the yard or build a birdhouse. How to change the oil in your car and power wash a sidewalk. Its time to perfect their sidewalk chalk art and lemonade mixing skills. Its time to learn that trampoline backflip and how to make a campfire.

Be like the good teachers. Look at what’s left, decide what’s the most important, teach it, then put it away and open a bottle of wine and let the kids read comic books.

Relax. Its not about getting it all done. Its about growing up to be Godly, competent learners. And the yard is calling, full of lessons that only come in this beautifully unique time of year.

Gratitude is the Serious Business of Heaven

“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” – Romans 1:21

How did they become futile in their thinking and foolish in their hearts? Not by denying that God exists, they can’t do that. It says quite clearly that they knew God. But how did they become futile in their thinking and foolish of heart? By not thanking God.

Mistakenly, we think that people are grumpy and ungrateful because of their unbelief. But the opposite is true. Grumpiness and ingratitude leads to unbelief. Ingratitude leads to futile thinking and a foolish darkened heart.

We have it all backwards. We want to lecture and instruct – but our mission in the world ought to be gratitude.

Christ commanded us to disciple the nations by teaching them about Christ, and we project our modern theories of education and psychology onto this. We think outreach in its various forms is a matter of head knowledge or behaviorism. We strenuously attack atheism, liberalism and Darwinism while instructing the masses in an ethic of noism. But the root problem of disbelief is ingratitude.

Jesus taught by example. On the night that He was betrayed, the eve of his trial and brutal execution, Jesus held up the loaf and He gave thanks. Broken hearted and teary eyed at the door of Lazarus, as the rolled away the stone Jesus lifted his eyes to heaven and said “ Father, I thank you….” Rejoicing in the Father’s abundant provision, he lifted up the single loaf and fish and gave thanks. Jesus taught by example and so should we. In the midst of excruciating circumstances. In the face of loss and tragedy. In the grip of miraculous blessing. Jesus was grateful. Continue reading “Gratitude is the Serious Business of Heaven”

Wives of Gold and Their Craftsmen

In Genesis, God says that it was not good that man was alone. Adam, upon meeting His wife, spoke the first recorded words of man – a poem: “this is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” Essentially, this woman is me.

Husbands, it is better that you are married. But we have to understand that marriage is not the reward for responsible men – marriage is the means for God to make responsible men. Without your wife you are incomplete.

And that completeness isn’t like icing on the cake. It’s not about having a cook or a housecleaner or extra income or something pretty clinging to your arm as you go about impressing everyone. A wife completes you because she brings into your life all the glorious qualities that make men higher beings than the animals, as well as, hardening us into creatures that are images of Christ. Marriage is the oven for soft clay. Marriage is a long obedience in the same direction and God uses it to shape men into little Christs.

Gentleness, Patience, kindness, self-control – all the things you need to handle the weaker vessel. And the weaker vessel is the weaker vessel like gold is the softer metal. Gold is soft so that it will be malleable –able to be shaped, molded and altered by the forces applied to into adorning objects of Beauty.

You are that force. So, by learning to shape that gold you are being shaped into a gentle, patient, kind, self-controlled craftsman.

Continue reading “Wives of Gold and Their Craftsmen”

Why Won’t God Hear My Prayer?

There is something we need to address in parts. Something that is difficult to hear, difficult to receive and against the spirit of our age. Against the pop theology so prevalent in the modern church, but it effects our fellowship with the living God and our day to day lives.

We pray and we feel like God doesn’t hear us. Prayer can be a source of doubt. The outrageous promises of Jesus in Prayer receive indignant uncertainty from most of us – mystified frustration from the rest. Continue reading “Why Won’t God Hear My Prayer?”