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Archive | The Church

Sins of Cyber-Speech

Does the following sentence make sense to you?  “I found a BFF on FB with my Droid App; his blog made me LOL so hard I had to Tweet.”[1]  If so, you are plugged into the lingo of our digital era.  The philosophical trends and technological advances in our day combine to make our words both abbreviated and multiplied.  Acronyms abound as many millions of people broadcast terse bits of social or self-referential commentary; at the same time, online journals provide limitless space for linguistic catharsis.  The ability to share information with so many people can be used in wonderful ways, but there are also significant dangers associated with ever-expanding mass media.

God’s Presence

Too few churchgoers are aware of the significance of entering into the sanctuary with the people of God.  If only they recognized God’s presence is there, not because of the building but in the people assembled, how different things would be!

When Solomon dedicated the temple, the Lord gave a special manifestation of His presence as the offerings were made.  “It happened that when the priests came from the holy place, the cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD” (I Kings 8:10-11 NASB).  Not only is this account historical, in that it reminds us that the temple in Jerusalem was to be the place where God dwelt among His people.  This manifestation of God’s glory was also prophetical.  In the priests being driven out because of the presence of the overwhelming glory of the Lord, the Spirit is indicating a time was coming when the Levitical priesthood would no longer be necessary in light of the glory that was to be manifested.  As the Lord promised, “The latter glory of this house will be greater than the […]

Honor Such Men: Rich Johnston’s Thirty Years of Youth Ministry

Next week, the Great Lakes-Gulf Presbytery of the RPCNA will hold its annual spring meeting. The nominating committee will submit a slate of candidates for various committees and offices for the coming year. For the first time in some thirty years, Rich Johnston will not be nominated for youth secretary. The vote will probably be quiet and ordinary, but it will formally conclude a most-extraordinary three decades of ministry to the young people of this presbytery.

An Elder Must Be Hospitable

The Great Lakes-Gulf Presbytery of the RPCNA meets later this month. In a recent Facebook discussion, I suggested that a certain student of theology would show good judgment by bringing a bag of candy to share at the meeting. Jokes about bribes popped up instantly because the elders will be voting on student theology exams; it was all good fun. Of course, bribery is utterly sinful, but it’s a good idea for students to bring a bag of candy to share. Why? Because it’s portable hospitality, and 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 both say that an elder must be hospitable.

My Rocky Mountain High

Over the holiday break my wife and I spent a delightful extended weekend in Colorado.  While journeying through the streets of Colorado Springs, one of our hosts pointed out the new marijuana shops that have opened up since the legalization took effect.  All I can say is that some may get their “Colorado Rocky Mountain High” from cannabis, but ours came from the creation and especially the church!

What majesty is not only seen but felt as you drive or stand along the towering Rockies!  The quietness and the power overwhelm, humbling you beneath their splendor.  We spent a few days with our dear friends John & Angi Hindman and their family in Longmont.  One day we drove up into the mountains to Brainerd Lake, with plans to hike around it a bit.  But by the time we arrived the temperature had plummeted to single digits and the winds blew strong.  So we remained in the van, enjoying the view as we partook of a hot soup and snack picnic.  On the way back down, we happened upon the scene of a bull moose lumbering across a snow-covered field.  As I had driven all over a park in Canada a few […]

Holidays and Holy Days

Christmas is just a few weeks off. Most churches have Christmas trees up by now, and many ministers started their Advent sermon series this past weekend. Christmas–like Easter and the other holy days of the Christian calendar–has been so widely embraced by protestant churches, that not to incorporate them into the church worship schedule seems either strange or downright block headed.

I am one of those pastors who still believes the church should not include these holidays in the worship calendar. But I also don’t want to maintain that distinction in stubbornness or merely out of fondness for “old style presbyterianism.” So, I thought I’d take a couple of paragraphs–speaking for myself at least–to explain why I still believe this is a matter of biblical conviction.

First of all, there is one religious calendar that goes all the way back to the creation: the weekly religious calendar. God appointed the sabbath day as a religious day to be observed weekly. The Ten Commandments reaffirm that this weekly day of worship sets the cadence of life for God’s people. The New Testament also continues to call us to weekly sabbath (or, Lord’s Day) worship (more on this, later). The weekly religious calendar is biblical, and continues in […]

The Goal of Gospel Preaching

Too often the pastor, in writing his sermon for the Lord’s Day, falls into the thinking that the goal of his preparation is just getting the message done.  That’s not the true end of gospel preaching.  Thinking that way will lead to boredom and even death in the pulpit, not life.  He needs to think of what the ultimate goal is to be.

Neither is the goal – and here I tread on far more delicate ground – simply that of conversion.

I know I could be misunderstood in this.  Yet hear me out.  By its very definition, gospel preaching should be evangelistic.  Indeed, the earnest preacher should long for a baptism by fire to be poured out on sinners’ hearts while listening to his message and to see many won to Christ through it. On this side of heaven, can there be any greater joy than hearing the Lord has taken the word you have preached and used it to cause a sinner to repent?  If angels rejoice over this, then helping them to do so should be the pursuit of the minister.

The Blog to End All Blogs? A Post-Election Plea

Many thanks to Barry York, James Faris and Nathan Eshelman – and by extension to Dr. Joel Beeke! – for your heartfelt articles pertaining to the national elections (forgive me if I missed any authors!).  Thanks for being willing to step into the virtual minefield of this volatile topic with  the courage of your convictions as well as the kindness and humility which demonstrate your sincere love for Christ and desire to serve Him.  Thanks for leading by example in ensuring that Gentle Reformation is able to address fiery topics with the fruit of the Spirit.

Now that the election is over,

An Election Day Prayer

After much rigorous discussion on the election, how about some quiet praying today?  Whether we agree with one another or not about certain matters related to voting, this offering by Dr. Joel Beeke should be an encouragement to all of us as we pray.

Given the seriousness of the matters before us, please let your comments either be silent affirmations or amens.

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Our Father, Lord of heaven and earth, Thou art very great. We praise Thee for Thy name is above all blessing and praise. Thou canst do immeasurably above all that we ask or think. Thou hast made the heavens and all their host, the earth and seas and all that fills them, and the angels of heaven do worship Thee.

Thou hast blessed our nation with an abundance of food and wealth. Thou hast revealed Thy law and gospel in Thy Holy Scriptures. Thou hast sent Thy Son to give His life a ransom for many. Thy servants have testified to our people.

Yet, O God, our land is bathed in the blood of innocents. We have taken Thy gifts, and made them our idols. We have hardened our hearts, and listened not to Thy commandments. We have turned Thy holy […]

The Art of Forgiveness

Just as looking through a telescope the wrong way makes big things seem small, so we often look at our sins in this manner.  One way we minimize sin is to place more importance upon the act of our sin rather than the one offended by our sin.

Let’s say I painted a picture of you and displayed it publicly.  If someone came along and drew a mustache on my painting of you, that would only be a slight offense because I am no artist.  Believe me, the painting would not look like you anyway.  Perhaps the mustache would even be an improvement!  Now let’s say someone was able to get through all the security of the Louvre art museum in Paris, lift the bulletproof and light-proof glass, and draw a mustache on the Mona Lisa.  An outcry would rise the world over.  Why?  A master artist and his work would have been insulted.  Though it is the same act, the consequences are much greater.