Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Time For Prayer and Repentance

THIS WEEK MARKS a turning point in our national history. The Supreme Court will hear arguments to answer the question “Does the constitution guarantee Americans in all fifty states the right to same sex marriage?” It is crucial that we turn to God in prayer and confession. We should confess our national sins of materialism, godlessness, and idolatry, and we should lift holy hands in prayer for the future of America, GCF, and our families (1 Tim 2:1-7). Confession matters because Romans 1:18-27 informs us that the widespread acceptance of homosexual behavior is God’s judgment. He is judging the idolatry of self-worship, in other words, we love the “creature” more than the “Creator.” This means that our national problems are spiritual. They are not political. If the root problem is spiritual, the solution is also spiritual. It is a national return to God through repentance and faith in the gospel. Therefore, pray, pray, pray!

Since we are on this subject, here is a gracious, winsome blog by Kevin DeYoung explaining why the legitimization of homosexual marriage is bad for any culture. DeYoung defuses the fog of confusion that currently surrounds this subject. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Worldliness in the Church?

WHAT DOES WORLDLINESS  look like when it gets a foothold in the church? In his wonderful book, Embracing Obscurity, the author, Anonymous, paints an insightful verbal picture. 

“To be a success in the local church, apparently, you need to go to school to get your bachelors, M.Div., and possibly doctorate. Then you work your way up the ranks of a church, from youth pastor to assistant pastor, and eventually to lead pastor. Once you’re on top, your job is to grow your church to a successful number. One hundred will never turn heads, so you’re encouraged to “think big” and implement a “growth strategy.” You’re going to need at least four-digit Sunday attendance to be taken seriously at pastor’s conferences. Then, once you have a few thousand in attendance and blog , Facebook, and twitter platforms, you can go on to write books. Once you have a book or two on your resume, you can speak on invitation outside your flock. If you work hard enough, you can eventually retire and enjoy all the luxuries you’ve accumulated through your hard work and revel in your five-star reputation.”[1]  

Advanced degrees, large churches, writing  books, and speaking engagements are not bad. In fact, they are good things. The question is always motive. When they come to a pastor motivated by unselfish ambition, i.e. ambition for God's glory at my expense, they are are blessing to all involved. However, when we pursue these accolades out of selfish ambition, i.e. my glory at the expense of God and the church, they are sure signs that the "whore of Babylon" has invaded God's people. 

Let's purse  these, but constantly searching our hearts for the poison of selfish ambition, eager to put it to death no matter the cost to self.  

[1] Anonymous (2013-12-08). Embracing Obscurity: Becoming Nothing in Light of God's Everything (Kindle Locations 1014-1020). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Edwards On The Christian Life

JUST FINISHED DANE ORTLUND'S new book, Edwards on The Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God. I am a student of Jonathan Edwards. He has affected me more than any other christian thinker. I have read Ian Murray's bio once and George Marsden's twice. I have read all of Edwards' major theological treatises (except the Nature of True Virtue), some of them several times, and most of his printed sermons. I am not saying this to boast, but rather to put in perspective what I am going to say about Ortlund's new book. 

It is simply the best thing I have read on Jonathan Edwards and his approach to  the Christian life. It has something for everyone. A new Christian can read it profitably. The academic specializing in Edwards can also read it with profit. Why? It is more than knowledge. Ortlund's new book is soul-food. “The best Christian literature, notes Ian Murray, 'is not written for the mind and intellect alone; it appeals also to the heart, the conscience, and the will. A good book does something to us, something that God put first in the spirit of the author. A book should not simply convey knowledge; it should uplift us, it should make us want to pray, and we should rise from it with an ambition to live nearer to Christ and to serve  him better. Books of lasting value are books that feed the soul, and there is a ‘taste’ about them that lives on from one generation to another.”[1]

Dane Ortlund's prose meets Murray's specifications. It does something to the reader. It feeds the soul, and I can make no higher recommendation. My favorite chapters were the ones on beauty, temptation, the soul, love, new birth, as well as the conclusion on Edwards' weaknesses.  

Buy this book and read it. You won't be disappointed. 

[1] Murray, Iain, Banner of Truth Magazine, Issue 487, pg 5