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Holidays and Holy Days (Part 2)

The following article is a guest post by Dr. Michael LeFebvre, Pastor of Christ Church in Brownsburg, Indiana, author of Singing the Songs of Jesus: Revisiting the Psalms, and Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary Board President. 

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Several years ago, I wrote a post for Gentle Reformation called “Holidays and Holy Days” (link here). In that article, I described the roots of the Christian Calendar—including holidays like Easter and Christmas—in the Levitical holy days of the Old Testament. The point of that article was to explain why some churches like the RPCNA uphold the Lord’s Day Sabbath (which the New Testament continues to exhort) while not observing extrabiblical holy days like Christmas. The New Testament does not institute Christmas as a holy day, and in fact the Old Testament Levitical festivals (on which the “Christian Calendar” was based) have been discontinued in the New Testament. With due respect for the sincerity with which many hold Advent worship services each December, there is actually significant reason to question the celebration of Christmas as a church holy day.

That being said, there is every good reason to affirm the place of Christmas in the calendar of American, civic holidays. And to celebrate it as a civic holiday (but […]

Onboard with a Transgender Flight Attendant

This past summer I flew a number of times. On one international flight, as I boarded I was met by a friendly, female flight attendant. As I passed by her to go to my seat, in my mind I did a double take. I realized that the attendant was not a woman, but a man dressed as one. It was pretty obvious.

His face was broad and his voice was husky. Those qualities could easily have been attributed to genetics or a cold. But as I took my seat in the row closest to first class (love the legroom there), other things stood out that made it clear this attendant indeed was a man.

He served the first class passengers warmly and played the part of a hostess quite well. Yet he could not overcome certain things. His thick Adam’s apple protruded. When he walked, he swung his hips just like a man might do imitating a woman, sadly painful to witness. When talking with a seated passenger, he would lean over them with too much intensity and eye-batting. He would then respond to something they said by flipping his long hair back over his shoulder like a teenage girl might do. Observing […]

What’s wrong with the Occult?

I’m giving a talk this evening to some of the young people of our Presbytery about the Occult, so I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone today… Eastern Presbytery CY members look away now!!

 

In his introduction to The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis wrote ‘There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.’ Lewis makes the point that the Devil is perfectly happy with either of those extremes – both suit his purpose very well. The apostle Paul says in 2 Cor 2.11 that we are not ignorant of the Devil’s tactics. The occult is one of his many tactics to ensnare human beings, and so we should be aware of it dangers.

 

What is the Occult?

The word ‘occult’ means ‘secret’ or ‘hidden’. Occult practices have to do with gaining secret, hidden knowledge and using invisible powers to control things in the world. This knowledge and power comes from the unseen, supernatural world. All kinds of practices fall under label ‘occult’, such as fortune telling (in any of its many […]

An Old Christian Model For New Church Growth

Chat in Corinth

‘Have you heard about the latest Church Growth Model in Corinth? The latest preachers in Acro Creek think they’ve nailed success! O.K., it’s a little alternative, and it’s the opposite to what Paul said (but then again, for some strange reason, he seems to have cancelled his announced visit – some lame excuse about an unforeseen turn of events)! Yet, we cannot help but notice, it does seem very popular: it appears to be working! They’ve definitely had results! The crowds of pagans are flocking! They’re going to extend their buildings! Even better, there’s no suffering, so perhaps we should give it a go.’

Model for Ministry

If that was the chat in Corinth, it would explain Paul’s loving determination to put the record straight, and turn Corinthians back to the Cross. Having explained the nature and glory and hope of the Ministry of the New Covenant, he commends his urgent appeal, by the model minister he is. Effectively, he says, ‘this is how to do the work, this is the Christ’s model for church growth’, as we make our appeal, 2 Corinthians 5.20, ‘Be reconciled to God.’

“We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed, […]

The Importance of Practical Religion

‘The Gospel is at stake! You must not budge an inch! Peter, brothers, Barnabas, you’ve got to change your practice!’

Is that how it happened in Antioch, with Paul’s face-to-face rebuke of Peter, where he refused the spare the blushes? The truth of the Gospel was endangered by behavior that was disconnected from principle (Galatians 2.11 & 14):

“But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned …But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of Gospel, I said to Cephas: ‘If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile, and not like a Jew, how can you force Gentiles to live like Jews.”

In my initial naivety, I thought that there was only one simple single principle being taught: that we should lovingly, prayerfully, firmly, yet bravely, highlight hypocrisy publicly, if the Gospel is in jeopardy – of course we should do that, no matter who it embarrasses, for the love of Christ, with the hope of restoring brothers – but to bow to peer pressure, and create confusion about the Gospel, puts souls at eternal risk, so we cannot pass the buck!

However, on reflection, principial disconnection from practice […]

Is The Lid About To Come Off?

The last week has seen a progressively deepening crisis in Hollywood on both sides of the Atlantic. Celebrities, stars and Oscar Nominations Committees have disowned Harvey Weinstein with an air of disbelief and disgust. Prosecutions may follow for this most successful producer.

Now, today, on the BBC’s ‘Victoria Derbyshire’ program, new allegations, concerning the UK music industry have emerged. Sarah Bowden, a music manager, has spoken about a scale of endemic sexual harassment, abuse and rape which is “as bad if not worse” as anything Hollywood has to offer.

Perhaps, we might wonder, if guilty complicity of promotion-seeking stars, has led to a backlash – those who are ashamed are now seeking their revenge [though not in the case of Sarah Bowden, who repelled all approaches to her cost]. That still does not excuse the advances of these males. All godly, right-thinking, Christians, if not entirely surprised, should nevertheless be sickened by these criminal events.

These revelation, of course, may only be the first – we may well be about to witness the lifting the lid on a proverbial ‘can of worms!’ Can we really have expected anything else from the industry that was born and lauded by Al Freed and Ian Dury […]

The Road to Hollywood

The “open secret of Hollywood” is the talk of the town where I live. In the aftermath of a Hollywood empire beginning to crumble under weight of sexual scandal, it seems that everyone has always known that this is how Hollywood is run. It’s our open secret.

The church and the culture at large need to reconsider whether Hollywood ought to be telling us how to think and feel about sexual ethics. Have they earned the right to speak into our lives about what is right and wrong in the bedroom? Maybe there’s a better source for determining human sexuality than those who walk the red carpet.

“Hidden Los Angeles” reported today the above sculpture was quietly removed from one of the most famous tourist centers in Los Angeles (adjacent to the famous Chinese and Dolby Theaters on the walk of fame). “The Famous Casting Couch” was a sculpture at the end of a mosaic of quotations called “The Road to Hollywood.” The road to Hollywood leads to “the famous casting couch.” The casting couch is synonymous with rape and sexual favors in exchange for an acting role. More open than secret, it seems. 

Hollywood determines the sexual ethics of our nation as […]

Culture Care: Makoto Fujimura

Last week, the Trinity Forum hosted An Evening Conversation with Makoto Fujimura though Indianapolis Classical Schools at Herron High School. He spoke on culture care which is the subject of his new book Culture Care: Reconnecting with Beauty for Our Common Life.

You will find the whole hour and half discussion (linked below) thought provoking. Near the conclusion of this conversation he states:

“I’m convinced that one of the ways artists can lead into this [culture care] is to take seriously this call to spend time, if you are a Christian, immersed in the word of God…to dwell, behold, to receive…I love that… eat, love and pray, right? That’s’ what we supposed to do with the word of God, and we don’t do that enough as artists, I’m convinced, because I don’t do that enough. …If culture care is ever to happen, it has to be led by people who are doing that on a daily basis. Communities that are doing that on a daily basis. And churches that are committed to that and empowering artists to create and make things because God is a maker… I say in my book, knowledge cannot be knowledge until you make it into reality. It’s […]

Love your (Transgender) Neighbour as Yourself

The decision this week by English parents Nigel and Sally Rowe to remove their 6-year old son from primary school and homeschool him instead has started a media storm. Why the fuss? Because their reason for doing so was the confusion their son experienced when a boy in his class came to school dressed as a girl and was treated as a girl by all the staff. Pupils at this school are free to ‘change’ their gender from day to day as they wish.

This comes just a week after one of the UK’s leading department stores, John Lewis, made the controversial decision to remove signs identifying children’s clothes in their stores as either ‘boys’’ or ‘girls’’. They now sell dresses for boys and ‘gender neutral’ clothing.

There is no doubt that an extreme transgender agenda is being pushed and rapidly accepted by our culture. How should we respond as Christians? Al Mohler describes the transgender revolution as ‘…one of the most difficult pastoral challenges this generation of Christians will face.’

How should we relate as Christians to those who genuinely feel they are trapped in the wrong body? I’m not thinking here of those who have a passing sense of ‘gender incongruence’. […]