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At Your Table Gathered ‘Round

Abby and Trevor, my sister-in-law and now-brother-in-law, were married last Saturday. I had the privilege of praying in the ceremony for the Lord’s blessing on their marriage. After a few words of thanks to God and making requests unique to the new husband and wife, I prayed that the Lord would bless their marriage by blessing the table in their home.

God’s promises in Psalm 128 motivated the prayer, along with the ways I’ve seen him fulfill those promises in Christ at the tables of my in-laws, my parents, my grandparents, and now in our home for the last fifteen years. Some who attended the wedding requested the words of the prayer. I don’t have an exact record, but what follows is the essence of it reconstructed from memory and notes jotted the night before as I prayed in advance for the new couple. Please pray from the heart for this new couple and for all of our homes as you read:

Seven Phrases on the Ten Words

What’s THAT Have to Do With the Ten Commandments?

Have you ever had a conversation with a Christian about an ethical question where they said something to the effect of, “That’s a violation of the _insert number one through ten_  commandment.” And you responded with a “huh?!”

For the sake of example, here are some ethics-statements that Christians have said regarding ethics and their relationship to the Ten Commandments. You may have heard similar statements or have questions of your own :

Labor unions are violations of the Fifth Commandment (honor father and mother).
Angry outbursts are violations of the Sixth Commandment (against murder).
Going out for dinner on Sunday is a violation of the Fourth Commandment (Sabbath).
Playing state lotteries is a violation of the Eighth Commandment (against stealing).
Dressing immodestly is a violation of the Seventh Commandment (against adultery).
Singing uninspired worship songs violates the Second Commandment (no idols).
Birth control is a violation of the Sixth Commandment (against murder).

Again, the purpose of this article is not to attempt to answer the above questions or any ethics question that you may have. The purpose of this article is give you some principles to help you apply the Ten Commandments to some of the […]

Defining Corporate Worship

From a recent class on worship, we hammered out a brief, Biblical, working definition of what a local congregation should be pursuing as it worships the Lord as His holy temple here on the earth.  I simply offer it below with no comment save one.  The Bible makes it abundantly clear that when people worship the Triune God, their behavior toward others will become more Christlike.  Otherwise, they are not truly worshiping.

Corporate Worship is the Church’s 

Reverent & Obedient Service to God,

as Regulated by His Word,

in the Love of the Father,

through the Mediation of the Son,

by the Indwelling Power of the Spirit,

on the Lord’s Day and Other Duly Appointed Times,

Where We are Strengthened by God

to Love the Brethren,

Evangelize the Nations,

and Engage the Needy

in Preparation for the Consummation of the Kingdom.

Calvin’s Counsel on Gentle Reformation

While studying for a recent sermon series on the Lord’s Supper, I read an interesting passage in John Calvin’s 1540 treatise on that sacrament. Toward the end of his treatise (in the extract quoted below), Calvin discusses the controversy between Luther and Zwingli over the nature of the eucharist. As he reviews the unfortunate conflict between these great reformers, Calvin counsels his readers to pursue such matters of doctrinal reformation in a spirit of gentleness. He urges us to “hav[e] the patience to listen to each other in order to follow the truth without passion.”

It sounds like Calvin saw remarkable similarity in the sacramental theology of Zwingli and Luther. According to Calvin, much of the controversy that subsequently overshadowed their positions was due to poorly chosen words, fiery reactions, and a refusal to listen to what opponents actually intended once trenches had been dug. There is much wisdom in Calvin’s assessment of this historic debate. Perhaps if he were alive today, Calvin might himself contribute a post to a blog called “Gentle Reformation” with words like these for us to learn from. 

The New You …

Were you you when you were converted to Christianity?  Or, asking about the same idea from a different angle:  Are you you subsequent to your conversion?  Every Christian should answer with a resolute “Yes!” and “No!”  That’s the Bible’s answer.  As such, it is an ancient, unequivocal answer bearing not one iota of influence from postmodern sentiments about truth.  So what does this answer mean?  How does it make sense?  Let’s take our cue from Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 5:17. 

Sermonic Echoes

During my seminary days attending Covenant Fellowship Church in Pittsburgh, I was blessed to sit under the preaching of Pastor Ken Smith.    We witnessed people being converted, growing disciples, and joyful singing filling the sanctuary.  One of the means the Lord used to produce this spiritual vitality was, with much prayer assistance, Ken’s Biblically-sound, Spirit-filled, covenant-revealing preaching.  At times he would become so animated that a powerful point, followed by a dramatic pause, would echo in the sanctuary as well as reverberate in our  hearts.  I remember that conversations about the messages would follow after the service and throughout the week.

Some Long Overdue Audio Picks

For an engaging and lively discussion on church polity (don’t worry, you won’t fall asleep… I think), check out the following 9 Marks panel discussion, Polity Is For Everyone.
When I heard that James White and N.T. Wright were going to be discussing the subject of justification, I did a somersault (Or maybe I just quickly right-clicked my mouse on the download button).  Either way, I was thrilled with the prospects of hearing these two engage the subject.  And you should be too!  It is the February 9th episode of Unbelievable.   

Reformed Forum recently interviewed Melissa Kruger, author of the book The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World.  Covetousness is rarely discussed in our culture, but in this discussion, the subject is helpfully dissected.  It is both insightful and convicting, so beware my fellow materialistic Americans.  

For a smart and interesting conversation about freedom, check out What Does Freedom Require? A Conversation With Os Guinness.  This is hosted by Dr. Al Mohler.

Lastly, it would be nearly a crime not to draw attention to Piper’s farewell sermon.  After having served so faithfully, and after having had such a profound impact on so many lives (myself certainly included), I happily […]

Looking into the People Mirror

As Calvin taught in the opening of The Institutes of Christian Religion, we cannot truly know ourselves until we know God.  A corollary to that principle (though it must be stated more carefully) is that we cannot see ourselves accurately without the mirror of others’ honest and loving perceptions reflecting back to us.

For women, Joe Carter has written a great piece called 9 Things You Should Know about Female Body Image Issues.  In the post, he included the fascinating video below.  A forensic artist first draws women from descriptions of themselves, then sketches another portrait as other people describe them.  The contrast is stunning and revealing.

Ladies, be sure to read the post and especially the last point.

A Creative Marriage Thought

As we prepare to see a son and then a daughter wed soon (he at the end of May, she the first week of June), my wife and I rejoice over the Lord’s goodness to our children.  In so many ways we see how He has brought to them spouses who, designed by His gracious hand, complement them and will make their lives much more fruitful in many ways.  As I have been praying for them and reflecting on the first recorded marriage in Genesis 2:18-25, here’s a question I have pondered.  When the Lord God saw that it was not good for the original man, Adam, to be alone (Genesis 2:18), why did He bring the animals of the garden to him (Genesis 2:19)?

Clearly the Scriptures teach that it was to see what Adam would name them (Genesis 2:19).  Yet given the context of God recognizing that Adam needed a helper, and the Lord forming one for him immediately after this animal-naming process was complete, more is going on here.  Certainly Adam would have become more cognizant that he was created uniquely above all other earthly creatures, being made in God’s own image, and that would have led him […]