Gossip and the Supper

Several Sunday’s ago our church heard the annual gossip sermon.

This is the sermon where the preacher outlined in detail the sins of each particular family as they had been related to the elders during the course of the year, and each family was called to public repentance. OK, so it was nothing so juicy as that. Instead it was a sermon that outlined, in juicy detail, the magnitude of the evil of gossip and the destructiveness of this seemingly innocuous sin. The following was the accompanying meditation on the Lord’s Supper.

One of the slogans of our church is that weekly practice of the Lord’s Supper is the first step in church discipline—this meditation is a practical application of that principle. The text was Matthew 26:57-68 (Jesus’ trial).

In the grand scheme of things, Jesus died because the world is full of sinners and thus full of sin, but if we look at the order of specific events that let up to His death (how He came to be crucified at a specific time in a specific place by specific people), we see that Christ Himself was crucified because the Jews conspired to lie about Him, and the Romans were willing to let the lie pass.

Can you see how serious the crimes of the tongue? Liars and slanderers lied and slandered to kill the most innocent of all men—to kill the God-man. Sins of the tongue are no mere trifles. Consider that when you hear that Paul tells us that we take this meal to commemorate the Lord’s death until He comes. We commemorate this most tragic of all deaths as one brought about by false witness, by gossips.

[T]he Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

If you have unconfessed sin, confess it. If you have been convicted by the sermon today, confess those sins, repent, turn away, and guard your tongue.

But, how do you guard your tongue? Look at it this way: practicing the Lord’s Supper is not just an excuse for somebody to get up and give an extra little inspirational sermon—the fact that real food and real drink is involved here is because they have real meaning. As you partake of these elements meditate on them. Taste them, I mean that, taste them and remember what they feel like on your tongue.

Then, later this week when you are tempted to sin with your tongue you can remember that your tongue had a meeting with God this morning. This particular meal is a sign of ownership. Remember that all of your body, even its smallest part, belongs to Him.

Have you been convicted today? Then remember that as we proclaim the Lord’s death we also proclaim the kind of death that He experienced: a temporary death. Jesus died, but he also rose and ascended into heaven, leaving His Spirit to sanctify you as He intercedes on your behalf before the Almighty Father.

“In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’”

A Parable for Hyper-Calvinists

To those who say, “if God has ordained all things, then what does it matter if I witness since all who will be saved will be saved regardless what I do?,” you would do well to consider the parable of the talents:

For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Matthew 25:14-30

It matters a great deal what you do, for by either your obedience  or your disobedience to the commands of God, you testify to whether you are a son of God or of the devil. This is not to say that salvation is by works, but that salvation does not exist without producing works. Those who hold to this position say in effect, God is so powerful and so completely in control, that I do not need to obey Him. It is nothing more than rebellion dressed up as obedience.

Comments?

Pleased and Displeased Without Contradiction

II Peter 3:9 reads as follows:

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

And this is scripture and it is true, but what does it mean about God? I have heard people say that this verse means that God has no control over who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell. If it was up to God, no one would go to Hell, they say and then are left scratching their heads at the idea of omnipotence.

Becoming a parent has helped clear these thoughts up for me. My son is almost 2½ and while he is a sweet child, he is also a son of Adam and born into sin. Because of this, there are times where I see him being tempted and while it is perfectly within my power to remove him from the temptation or the temptation from him, more often than not, and for a multitude of reasons, it pleases me to watch him struggle, it pleases me to watch him fall, and then it pleases me to spank him. And it pleases me, because by faith, I believe that God is using this process in both my and my son’s life. But at that very same time that I am so pleased, it also displeases me that Gavin has struggled and that he has failed. But consider this: there is no contradiction in my pleasure and my displeasure. Instead they sit very neatly side by side and the one complements the other. And I am just a man. How much more complex must an infinite God be?

We cheat ourselves and God of something when we think of Him so simply. To me, it is no contradiction to say that God has ordained all things for his purposes, to say that He is not willing that any should perish and then to affirm Romans 9:20-23:

Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

What say you?

A Study of Romans – An Introduction

It can be commonly observed that it is quite rare for just one thing to be happening at any given time, or even for a single action to serve no more than a single purpose. Such is certainly the case with the writing of the book of Romans. While Paul is ostensibly writing a letter to the believers in Rome, God Almighty is also writing a letter, and it is to the whole world (and this letter to the Romans is but a small part of that larger composition). Simultaneous to all of this, and not separable in any way, is the fact that God is also speaking to every age to come and to every man that will ever read or hear His words, and this is the greatest part, through all of this, He is speaking with one voice and with one mind.

It is with this mindset that we must consider Romans, but before we do so, it is worthwhile to first consider ourselves. Every culture bears its own unique sins that hinder the acquisition of specific truth, and American culture is no different. Specifically, our society has little respect for those who are deliberate with their words, and this is a shame, because it has been said by wise men that Christianity is, in many ways, a religion of words. And don’t for a minute believe that you are not unaffected by your culture. If while reading some passage of Scripture, such as the salutation at the beginning of Romans or James, you have found yourself skimming or skipping words or saying to yourself something along the lines of “yada, yada, yada”, then you bear witness to this fact

What we must strive to remember each time we pick up the sacred word is that, unlike the works of men, Holy Scripture possesses no “filler material”. There is never a place in any of it where the author has dashed off an extra thought or two because he felt a sentence was too short, or a paragraph too lean. Instead, every word is a deliberate act, right down to the tense of the verbs.

Next week as we begin by considering the first seven verses of Romans, we must be sure to note how careful Paul is with his language, how precisely he defines relationships — he is a “servant of Jesus Christ”, but he is “separated unto the Gospel of God”, he refers to those “called of Christ” and also those “beloved of God”, and how he talks about grace and obedience. There is more than just information in these verses. Paul is teaching the Romans how a Christian out to think about grace, about apostleship, about the Gospel. He is teaching them about the nature of the relationship between God the Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and about its implications. And because God is the final author of this text, He is teaching us as well.

The assignment for next week is easy. Read Romans 1:1-7. Be prepared to discuss.

How to Shake Up the Republican (or Democrat) Party

I just want to say this, and then I’m going to bed. If you want to shake up the Republican party a bit, now is the time to do it.

Right now.

Tonight.

And here’s how you do it.

  1. Find a candidate who is as close to what you believe in as possible, regardless of whether you think he has a chance to win or not.
  2. Go to his website.
  3. Make the biggest donation that you can afford.

You have to remember this: Politics does not happen in a vacuum. People notice how much money people are raising, and they react to it. For instance, at the end of this last quarter when Ron Paul announced that he had raised $5,200,000, which was on par with McCain, which was half as much as Guiliani, people started asking questions like: How is someone who has been getting almost no mainstream coverage raising that kind of money? What is it about this guy that is getting people’s attention? Since that time Ron Paul’s mainstream coverage has increased dramatically. If he makes his December 1st goal of raising 12 million dollars, it will jump even more.

Presidential elections happen once every four years, if you just give $100 that’s nothing compared to what you pay for entertainment over that same period. Seriously, it’s time that people who say they have convictions start acting like it.

And if you don’t have any money, email this to someone who does!

Comments?

Restaurants, Chick Tracts, and the Ensuing Confusion that Invariably Came About

A while back, I went to an IHOP with a bunch of friends (who shall all remaining nameless, mainly to protect the identity of one of them) and we had a really great, horrible meal. What I mean by that, is our waiter was brand spanking new, possibly even his first night on the job, and we were four guys in no particular hurry. In a lot of ways, it was like dinner and a show. I’d also like to stress that we were very polite to him, only gave him a little good-natured ribbing – just enough to let him know that we really weren’t upset at all, and we tipped him well. Anyway, one of the guys also left him a tract along with the tip, and that was that.

Except it wasn’t. We were just a few minutes out of the restaurant when I realized exactly what specific tract my friend had left and what a newbie waiter might think of it. Here’s what the waiter saw when he came to the table:

Somebody Goofed

What I wondered was this: had this guy ever heard of the practice of leaving gospel tracts at tables before? Was his first thought, “You mean people have taken the time to print a pamphlet to give to waiters who screw up? Seriously?!? And why are there devils dancing and laughing on the cover?”

I didn’t have the heart to go back inside and explain…

Turning Our Nation Around II: The War at Home

If a man would change the world, let him begin with something that is right before his eyes, let him lead his home.

My church hosted a father/son retreat this weekend, and I was fortunate enough to attend several of the sessions. I came away with a deeper appreciation for the incredible relationship that fathers and sons have and for the primal nature of that relationship. Some of the highlights that were particularly relevant to the discussion at hand are as follows:

The story of the Bible and of this world is essentially the story of a Father working through His Son, of Jehovah God, accomplishing all things through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Children, when you obey your father, you are testifying to the fact that there is a God in heaven who must be obeyed.  Father’s when you care for and discipline your children, you are testifying that there is a God who loves and chastens those who are His own.

Children, when you disobey your father, when you roll your eyes and mock his authority, you are committing high treason against heaven. Fathers, when you take too lightly your children’s rebellion, when you wink at it and let it exist unchecked, you are tolerating witchcraft in your homes.

We also spent a lot of time in Deuteronomy 6, reading the Shema Yisrael, and asking ourselves what a family would look like if it built itself around the Hebrew concept of learning, around the idea of a father walking and talking with his sons, taking them with him everywhere that he can, letting them see the world through the lens of his knowledge and experience. And not a perfect father, mind you, or perfect sons. Through all of this, we were reminded that every son is challenged by being forced to submit to and learn from an imperfect father and that every father is similarly challenged by having to lead and discipline imperfect sons.

To my mind, this is the first step in turning our nation around, that of turning our homes back to God, putting away our childishness and our love of sin and the easy life.

What do you say?

Turning Our Nation Around

Children die because of their father’s decisions.

Do you believe that? Lately that phrase keeps popping into my head, pushing out every other thought, until all I can do is stop whatever it is I’m doing and pray for my nation, for myself, for my wife, for my son and my daughter, and for the children that I hope they will have one day. If this seems strange to you, let me at least try to make a simple case for why I’ve been thinking about this.

I hope you won’t think I’m being melodramatic when I say that I believe America has been headed in the wrong direction for some time now. I hope you still won’t think it when I say that if a nation heads in the wrong direction for long enough, it means that at some point, there will come a day when good men will die as a consequence. If you aren’t shaking your head in disagreement yet, then humor me one moment longer. If both of those statements are true, then among the people who will die, will be my children.

Children die because of their father’s decisions.

Do you believe that? And if so, what are you doing?

My First Political Contribution

Today I made a donation to Ron Paul’s presidential campaign, and I have to be honest with you, I’m not exactly flush with cash at the moment. But in that same honest vein, let me say to you that I have never been as excited about a political candidate in my, admittedly, short life.

What excites me about Ron Paul is simply this: in a day and age when most presidential candidates talk about what they are going to do for America or how they are going to make America into a better, safer place, Ron Paul talks about obeying the law of the land. He talks about obeying the Constitution. He talks about State’s Rights. He talks about liberty and describes it as the double edged sword of personal opportunity and responsibility it was meant to be. He talks about absolute right and wrong.

In other words, surrounded by a sea of pragmatists who would sell their children’s freedom to ensure their momentary comfort and power, Ron Paul is about doing what is right regardless of the consequences.

To steal a quote from the West Wing, the reason I am voting for Ron Paul in the primaries is because I am tired of it. Year, after year, after year. Of having to choose between the lesser of Who Cares. Of trying to get myself excited over a candidate who can speak in complete sentences. Of setting the bar so low I can hardly look at it. They say a good man can’t get elected president. I don’t believe that. Do you?

And that’s it in a nutshell. I think Ron Paul might actually be a good President of the United States. Not the lesser of two evils, not worrisome on some major issues, not the candidate who we have to vote for so we can keep Hillary out of the White House, but a good man.

And because I now have money involved in this, because I’m seriously supporting this man with more than words, I would encourage you to seriously, check him out.

God for a Day

Here’s a thought experiment for you. Imagine for a moment that you are given the infinite power of God to do with as you please. For all intents and purposes, you are God.

What would you do?

Think about it for a moment, and throw away your little answers, like “I’d bring about world peace”, or “I would end world hunger and eradicate disease”. That’s kid’s stuff. You’re God, remember, so what would you do? And don’t go and copy your predecessor either. You have to think of something completely original. In fact, throw out all the concepts that you have now and come up with all new ones. You’re God, and there is no idea of war unless you say so, nor is there the notion of peace, but that you make it to be so.

What would you do?

Seriously, think about it for a second.

If you’re like me, you’ll hit a wall very quickly. I have no idea, was my honest answer to this question. I lack the necessary traction to even process the question. Everything I know, every concept, every idea or ability to process an idea is framed by the One True God, Jehovah. I can only imagine within the framework that He has created. And that is exactly as it should be.

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (Hebrews 11:3)

As always, feedback is appreciated.