The question came to us: How can you minister to a friend (professing Christian) who is addicted or becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol? How can you lovingly come along side them and help them avoid the friends they have been keeping who are negatively influencing them, especially when you only see them in person when you come home from college?
My friends speak of it. I hear distant reports of it. And I have seen it with my own eyes, more than once. It seems that wherever I turn, the same problem runs rampant in the pop Evangelical church. It is this: A segment of the leadership (and especially those who are looking to “enter the ministry”) begin criticizing another segment of the leadership, typically the pastorate. No, not quite. It isn’t full blown criticism, at first. Rather, it begins as merely a “concern.” “Holy sighs” are wed with anguished looks. Problems in the church as discussed and dissected at great length. Motives are scrutinized. Past incidents are exhumed and thread together into a tapestry of intrigue.
You all know the piece. Creepy pastel. Ghostly image. You can feel the anxiety when you look at it. Blood red and orange background. Swirly confusion.
This week Edvard Munch’s The Scream became the most valuable painting ever sold at auction. It reached nearly $120 million dollars. That price is more than all of the RPCNA’s combined annual budget- I checked! The total annual budget of ALL RPCNA congregations is 10 times LESS than what this painting sold for (check the Minutes of Synod for evidence).
Why should you care that The Scream sold for $120,000,000? I mean, why should a Christian care that a creepy pastel of a wavy anxious man sold for more money than most of us will see in a lifetime of toil and sweat?
What do our public prayers say about our view of God? What do unbelievers think when they are present in our worship services and hear our public prayers? More specifically what do unbelievers think we believe when they hear our public prayers?
President John F. Kennedy took the oath of office (another post, I am sure) as the 35th president of the United States of America, on January 20, 1961. Along with the oath of office (another post, I am sure) public readings were read and public prayers were prayed.
Among those in attendance was American novelist John Steinbeck. John Steinbeck wrote about his inauguration experience in “L’Envoi” a proposed, yet unpublished, ending to his travelogue Travels With Charley: In Search of America. As Steinbeck reflected on the inauguration he said the following concerning the public prayers:
“The prayers were interesting, if long. One sounded like general orders to the deity issued in a parade-ground voice. One prayer brought God up to date on current events with a view to their revision. In the midst of one prayer, smoke issued from a lectern and I thought we had gone too far but it turned out to be a short […]
Since several folks have raised the issue of why Christians celebrate the Lord’s Day on the first day of the week, I thought I’d write briefly about that issue.
Our Catechism says, “From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, God appointed the seventh day of the week to be the weekly sabbath; and the first day of the week ever since, to continue to the end of the world, which is the Christian sabbath” (Westminster Shorter Catechism 59).
The Sabbath, which is a creation ordinance, affirmed in the Ten Commandments, is perpetual and binding on all believers in all times and places (Exodus 20:8-11). The day in which the Sabbath is celebrated was moved from the seventh day of the week to the first day of the week with the resurrection of Jesus on that day. The practice of the Christian church throughout its history has affirmed this position. That fact, of course, does not make the practice biblical, but it certainly should give us great confidence that the early church was on to something. What was it?
Hope isn’t magical–at least not like we often think it is. Hope isn’t simply a peace about the future that wraps our heart in a down comforter without warning or forethought. Rather, hope is a Christian virtue, something to be pursued and found through Holy Spirit-powered discipline. And the type of discipline might surprise you.