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Can we fight all injustices?

Can we fight all injustices?

We live in a sad world. We turn on our TVs or read the paper, and we are bombarded by images that confront us emotionally and devastate our moods. So, we take action. We opine about the injustices around the world: orphans, widows, separated families, abuse, etc. We opine to draw attention to a cause, perhaps to our social warrior spirit, or even to a particular brand of politics.

Christians are justice seekers (Micah 6:8), but to what end does our justice-seeking apologetic hinder us from doing the basic and ordinary Christian thing? Just this morning I counted six items for discussion that would be considered heavy by any standard (and I am not counting the day-to-day horrors of abortion and martyrdom all over the world). Is it possible that we are justice fatigued to the point that the daily duties of praying, catechizing, singing, worshiping, dish-washing, diaper-changing, hugging, disciplining, reading, and everything else are relegated to a lesser domain? Are we creating a hierarchy of piety and justice?

“My cause is more righteous, and you should be ashamed of yourself for not caring or investing your time and keyboard to it.”

Before we apply justice, mercy, and humility to the major headlines of our day, we ought to begin right at our local kingdoms. Some will reply, “But we can do both. We can care about our homes and families and churches and also care about the national and international justice issues.” I submit that if you are an ordinary individual with an ordinary family with an ordinary job in an ordinary church, you will realize that the cause of justice most pressing is not starvation in Haiti, but your spouse in need, your fellow congregant who needs your call, or your close friend who just lost a child. Pursue justice by all means; carefully, wisely and prudently. But don’t let the “great” injustices blind you to those precious vessels nearest to you desperate to receive your mercy.

Is God Mr. No?

Is God Mr. No?

C.S. Lewis writes about a schoolboy who was asked what God was like. He replied that, as far as he could make out, God was “The sort of person who is always snooping round to see if anyone is enjoying himself and then trying to stop it.” I believe one of the reasons so many young evangelicals have abandoned the faith is because they have grown up in a faith that is more concerned about what the ramifications of law-breaking cultural codes or “holy” morals than the richness of the freedoms we have in Christ. To many, God is viewed as the cosmic “Mr. No.” But as St. Paul says, “God provides us with everything to richly enjoy.” Yes, there are commandments for us to keep, but within the parameters of God’s law, there is freedom. Christ has made us for this world, and this world is made for us. God is not trying to stop us from enjoying ourselves; He is trying to teach us to enjoy life more than we can ever imagine.

To be engaging means to ask questions

To be engaging means to ask questions

If a young man or woman wishes to be engaging, friendly, and edifying, then let him ask questions. If there is one trait that enrages me in young people is their ability to talk about themselves as the source of all knowledge and wisdom and their inability to be curious, uninterested in anyone’s life but their own. Jesus asks 307 questions in the Gospels. Some of them were meant to trap false leaders in their deceit, but many of them were meant to engage others, to reveal compassion for others, to enter into the story of others.

Practically, we can begin by teaching children to learn stories by asking for stories; teach them that there is no unknown guest in the home. You can train your children to ask one question about their guest or host. Learn by asking. Develop the skills of good questions and you will be engaged for life. Those who don’t ask doth think too highly of themselves. Ask and you shall receive. As one novelist observed: “The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.”

 

The Church Needs You Back

The Church Needs You Back

I know for a fact that there are some reading these words that have lost the emotional and intellectual attachment to Jesus of Nazareth. You have been hurt by the Church–a particular church, to be precise. People have mistreated you. You may have felt lost in the community when all is you wanted to be is found. God became distant, your prayers became monotonous, and the divine Gospel became mundane to your ears. I want to urge and press you to come back once more. Open your ears to the wonder of Jesus and his Bride. You may feel unworthy to return because of your sins and abandonment. But God calls you worthy and he bids you, “Come.” The Church needs you back because without you the celebration is put on hold. As one writer observed: “The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you.”

With Angels and Archangels…

With Angels and Archangels…

When the church gathers she gathers in a mystical union. Hebrews talks about how we worship in the presence of a heavenly Jerusalem; an innumerable company of angels. In the Fall of man, the angels escorted Adam and Eve out of the garden and angels with flaming swords kept our first parents from coming back to the garden. Now, Jesus has opened paradise for us and instead of keeping us from worship, the angels actually worship with us in this new Garden; they welcome us into the heavenly worship of God. As our liturgy says, “With angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify your glorious name evermore praising you and singing, Holy, Holy, Holy!”

What would happen to church participation and attendance if we acknowledged that simple truth? I think the reason so many Christians are flippant about Sunday worship is that they don’t know what happens in worship. Most evangelicals treat worship as a false sick day: “Well, if I miss Sunday I can always catch up next week.” This mentality harms the body of Christ and the theology of worship established in the Scriptures. When you come to worship, you are engaging angelic beings. Your humanity as male and female worshipers, as well as your presence matters. So, if you are ever distracted during worship, you have every right to be: there are angelic beings watching us, a great company in heaven is joining us in this sacred chorus. And if this great heavenly veil were to be opened up just a bit to our feeble eyes or if we were to hear angels and loved ones joining us in the great “Holy, Holy, Holy,” I think we would grasp a little more the extraordinary experience and magnificent act that occurs each Lord’s Day.

Psalming Like We Are Going to War

Psalming Like We Are Going to War

I remember the first time I heard a congregation sing a Psalm. It was a life-changing experience. My usual emphatic singing was silenced so that I could take in what was happening. I thought to myself: “I would go to war any day with this music in the background.” My friend who accompanied me on the trip called his wife immediately afterward and said: “Honey, these people sing like they mean it.” It’s been about 11 years since that experience and since then I have joined the angelic chorus of psalm-singers each Sunday, at home as often as we are able, with friends any time the opportunity arises and alone when I spot a hymnal near me. I cannot begin to tell you what this practice has done for my soul. It has brought me closer to biblical emotions rather than the sentimentalism of our day. And it has brought me closer to the heart of God. We will gather at 5:30 this afternoon to practice Zion’s songs.

“The Psalms are not only poetry in themselves; they are to be the cause of poetry in those who sing them, together and individually. They are God’s gifts to us so that we can be shaped as his gift to the world.” -N.T Wright

Psalm-Roaring

Psalm-Roaring

About four times a year Providence Church (CREC) in Pensacola,FL gathers for a special time of singing. In fact, we call it a “Psalm-Roar” to reflect the intense biblical fervor Christians should have when they sing Zion’s songs. We sing from five selected Psalms, eat and drink, and conclude with five more psalms. If you come from a Christian background where Psalm-singing is not practiced and are curious to experience it, we welcome you to join us at Northminster Presbyterian Church in Pensacola, Fl. We will begin at 5:30 PM on Friday (8th of June). If you would like to join us, please let me know. We would welcome you to roar with us! #20thwineandpsalmroar

Anxiety in the Home

The Scriptures warn us that worrying and anxiety are and will be constant temptations in our lives. But for those overcome by such high anxieties and worries, it is not easy to navigate such warnings. “Just trust” and “release your anxiety” can be helpful affirmations, but sometimes do not go to the heart of the matter. Anxiety can be rooted in a host of things, but what is important to know is that the spouse or the person who struggles and wars daily with anxiety controls the environment. An anxious husband/wife will control his environment and bring the household into the tension of his anxiety. He/she will expect others to join his anxiety as a way of soothing or sharing his own fears. An anxious leader creates a dangerous environment for grace to flourish. So, the first step in dealing with anxiety and worry is to affirm the power of such fears in your environment.

Eating at the Lord’s Table

Eating at the Lord’s Table

This morning we come to eat and drink of a meal that is different than any other meal. We may feast at the royal palace or the president’ private dining room, no earthly experience comes near the experience of eating with King Jesus. Jesus is not just here through the process of our memories of him. Jesus is here alive by the power of the Spirit ministering to us and calling us to his presence: man and woman, boys and girls, baptized in the Triune Name are welcome to eat and drink of this table. We are all covered by our Head Jesus Christ, and in him, we have abundant life.

Children’s Church?

Children’s Church?

Education must be a holistic endeavor. If that’s the case, then our children’s bodies and spirits need to be trained and nurtured. They need training that is intellectually rigorous and emotionally engaging. If you wish to be an unengaged parent, then your home gets the worldview you deserve. But if you see the world with biblical eyes, your children will see the wonder of creation as intended and taste and see the good of the Lord. This intentionality is the long-term view of parenting. It entails thinking through what kind of child you want to see at the age of 18.

If education is holistic, then education will–whether liturgical or academic–require a special parental effort. Teaching children to see the world means you are engaged with them in the exploration of the world. To train a child in the way that he should go requires parents who already know the way and are fervently seeking that way for their children. Christian education is anti-gnostic from beginning to end.