Friday, March 8, 2019

Prayer to Glorify God in Your Work

Last night we looked at the two ditches of laziness / procrastination and anxious toil. We said God calls us not so much to balance but to faithfulness in all the areas of life he has given us responsibility in. Here is a portion of a prayer from Calvin that you might make your own today as you try to apply what we learned:
O grant that we may bear in mind our office and our calling, and sincerely devote ourselves to Thy service, and so present to Thee our efforts and our labors that they name may be truly glorified in us, and that it may really appear that we have been engrafted into the body of Thine only begotten Son.
Lifting up Our Hearts: 150 Selected Prayers from John Calvin, Ed. by Dusting W. Benge, pg. 211. In the context he is praying that we would fulfill our royal as a "royal priesthood" of believers who represent God and serve him.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

"The Culture of Death Lurches Forward..."

The Senate failed to pass a bill that would protect babies born alive after botched abortion attempts. I encourage you to listen to Al Mohler's podcast "the Briefing"  from today (2/26/19). Listen to the section entitled, "The culture of death lurches forward: Senate fails to pass legislation that would protect the lives of children born alive."

He brings up some very good points. I'll summarize one here. Some Democrats argued that the law was unnecessary because, "Its proponents claim it would make something illegal that is already illegal” (Senator Patty Murray, see the Washington Post Article). If that is the case, then why does it matter if the law passes? If we all agree it is wrong to kill a baby who is born alive (infanticide), then what does one more law matter? The truth is that these senators do believe this law is an addition. The evidence is in the rest of Senator Murray's words. After what I quoted above, she goes on to say that the law would "do nothing except help Republicans advance their goal of denying women their constitutionally protected rights.” So which is it? Is it just a redundant law? Or is it something which might limit the right of a woman to end the life of her baby? In a day and age when a governor (of Virginia) publically states that a baby born alive would be made comfortable while the mother and doctor discuss if she wants her baby to receive life-sustaining medical care, laws like this don't seem too redundant.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

"The Struggle for Love" Sermon

I taught the "Genesis" Sunday school class this past Sunday. I was talking about it with Beth and she mentioned a good sermon by Tim Keller on the passage which I listened to and benefited from. I referenced it in my handout, but here is a link to it in case you weren't there and want to listen to it.

It deals with Jacob and his messed up relationships. Keller provides keen insight into the desires of the human heart from the Scripture. I hope you'll cue this one up on your list of things to listen to this week.


Also, I am not sure how you get your podcast or organize what you will listen to, but I have benefited from pocketcast. I got the paid version and can speed up things (which is nice...though you can't speed Keller up too much).

Also part 2, Grace Church has a podcast where we (Larry does it so thank him) post our sermon and some Sunday school media in case you miss a week and want to catch up.  Just search Grace Church of Tallahassee to find it.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Responsibilities of a Church Member: Relate Properly to Your Pastors

This might seem a bit self-serving. A pastor writing to say that members in the church out to relate properly to their pastors. So, is it self-serving? 

It is for Your Advantage

Hebrews 13:7 says,
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
The idea is that there is an advantage to rightly relating to your pastors. Even more specifically, to obeying and submitting to them. If your following them is characterized by godly submission, it will bring them joy rather than frustration and be an advantage to your soul. Pastors that don't have to spend excessive time dealing with unruly sheep can better shepherd the flock so that they thrive rather than merely survive. If all the pastor's work is remedial, it is impossible to build up the body and help you make progress in your knowledge and obedience to God. 

What Does it Mean to Obey and Submit?

To submit is to voluntarily place yourself under their authority and leadership. To be clear, the pastor's authority is the Word of God. So your submission to your pastor is governed by your submission to God. No human authority, which has delegated authority, ever supersedes God's authority in a person's life. So, if you pastor says to lie about something, you say, "You know I can't love you and God if I do that. I must obey God." 

Obeying your pastors doesn't mean
  1. You can't ask questions
  2. You follow them into sin
  3. They have authority over you in areas in which the Bible gives no doctrine or practice to observe. 
Let me give an example of the last point. You do not need to paint your house a specific color because your pastor says you should. Rod might say, "I like salmon for that front door, so paint it that color." You could, and should(?), rightly say, "Thanks for the suggestion, but I'm going to paint it white."  Now, if you decided to spray paint derogatory words towards your neighbor on the side of your house, your pastor rightly has the authority to tell you that Scripture requires you to remove them (of course there would be a further dialogue about what is going on in your heart and how to repent). 

The Goodness of Authority 
In a world that seems to have no concept of good authority, notions of authority and submission are quickly dismissed as power grabs and domination. However, in practice, we all know that authority exercised for the good of others is a great blessing. For example, children receiving the instruction and discipline of a godly parent keeps them from dying young and forms the training grounds which will enable them to grow into mature adulthood rather than out-of-control, self-destructive animals. 

God has designed it so that almost every person will be in positions of both authority and submission. We ought to exercise our authority with humility and the fear of God, knowing we must give an account to him. And we ought to submit to proper authorities with humility and trust in God knowing that we and those in authority will have to answer to God. 

When Authority is Abused

Sadly, in a fallen world authority does get abused. Jesus warned his followers not to be like the ungodly who often exercised power for their own gain (Mark 10:42-43). In addition, the elder qualifications prohibit a man from serving as an elder if he is "arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain," etc. (see Titus 1). 

We are given instructions for how to handle a pastor who is abusing his authority. Matthew 18 outlines church discipline and 1 Timothy 5:20 says that if an elder persists in sin, he should be rebuked in the presence of the church. 

A Church Member Submits to His or Her Pastors

So, as a church member, you are voluntarily placing yourself under a specific set of pastors. You can disagree at times and ask questions. But, be sure to submit to them. They must give an account to God for the state of your soul. Don't resist their leadership when they are godly men who are seeking your spiritual wellbeing and God's glory. If necessary, confront them in biblical ways. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

"5 Myths about Abortion"

This week is the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Perhaps you will have opportunities to speak on behalf of the weakest, most vulnerable members of our society. Here is a helpful article over at crossway from Scott Klusendorf entitled "5 Myths about Abortion" which might help.

Here are the myths he tackles (you should read the article for the answers):

  1. Myth #1: Christian pro-lifers impose religious arguments on a pluralistic society and thus violate the separation of church and state.
  2. Myth #2: Men have no moral authority to speak on abortion.
  3. Myth #3: The only way to end abortion is to preach the gospel because outside of Jesus, pro-life arguments make no sense to unbelievers.
  4. Myth #4: Pro-life advocates must take on a broader “whole life” agenda to legitimize their efforts.
  5. Myth #5: The call of the church is not social issues like abortion, but discipleship.

If anyone is willing to read his book, Stand for Life: A Students Guide for Making the Case, Saving Lives let me know and I'll get you a free copy (the catch is you have to agree to read it within the next 30 days). 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Are You Glorifying Jesus in Your Desire for Marriage?

John Piper deals with this issue on the most recent episode of The Ask Pastor John podcast entitled "Why is God Withholding Marriage from Me?".

Below are his main points and a few quotes.

The desire for marriage is in proper perspective when:

1. It is desired for Christ's sake. 

"St. Augustine prayed, “He loves thee too little, O God, who loves anything together with thee which he loves not for thy sake.” He knew from the Bible that it is not wrong to desire food, or drink, or clothes, or friends, or knowledge, or health, or safety, or marriage. It’s not wrong to desire that. And he wrestled with the question, When do these legitimate desires become sin? And his answer was that they become sin when they’re not for Christ’s sake."

2. The desire is shaped by faith. 

3. The desire does not result in cynicism and bitterness. 

"I think sorrow at the loss of innocent desires is not sin, not unless the sorrow overwhelms godly joy and sours into cynicism and bitterness and drags a single person into isolation and sin rather than friendship and service."

4. The desire does not diminish zeal to glorify God in singleness. 

"He [Paul]  loved partnership, he loved friendship, he loved people. He needed people. But he wished everyone could have the freedom of singleness for ministry that he had (1 Corinthians 7:7)."

5. Marriage is not seen as the key to happiness. 

"Let your desire for marriage be tempered and kept in proper perspective by this. Marriage is a temporary covenant, just as full of sorrows as singleness is, and pointing to a heavenly covenant, that single and married we enjoy."

6. That desire doesn't keep you from enjoying the family of God in your church, which is the family that will last forever. 

Monday, December 31, 2018

Resources for Meditating on Scripture

When I preached on Psalm 1 this past Sunday I mentioned the importance of meditating on Scripture. To use Thomas Brooks' illustration again:

It’s not the bee’s touching of the flower which gathers honey—but her abiding for a time upon the flower, which draws out the sweet. It’s not he who reads most—but he who meditates most, who will prove the choicest, sweetest, wisest, and strongest Christian.

If meditating is new to you, let me suggest visiting Dr. Don Whitney's website and downloading his handout on methods of meditating. Your goal is to deeply consider the meaning and application of God's word to your life. Often it results in memorizing what you are meditating on. Start small. Meditating is done with small portions of Scripture.

Click here to download his Meditation Methods handout (select it from the first list).