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The Pain of Charlottesville Reveals an Act of False Worship

The Pain of Charlottesville Reveals an Act of False Worship

You are what you worship. What happened in Charlottesville is a theological reaction against true worship. Racism and violence come from a people who have created a god in their own image. The god they created is a self-serving and self-consuming deity that devours the good, true, and beautiful and spits out a fully grown sin that leads to death (Jam. 1:15). It is a god that deceives man and allures him with the whisper of superiority. And fallen man eagerly bows before evil to taste a vaporous glory.

But the end of all false worship is death.

The God of all justice will restore man to true glory, and we who watch from afar the misery and injustice suffered by others must humble ourselves and bow down before the cosmic LORD who demands of all tribes, tongues, and people, “Come to me and worship at My feet for under my rule is true and everlasting life.” #Charlottesville #grieving

Supper Meditation

Supper Meditation

(On the Body; I Corinthians 6:12-20)

This table is given to people whose bodies have served other lords but have found refuge in the true Lord. This table is for redeemed bodies. This table is for those baptized. Baptism is the prerequisite for this table because baptism is the beginning of our commitment to live as unto the Lord in body and soul.

Loving Your Wife with Honor

Loving Your Wife with Honor

Jesus wants you to love your wife so much that she should be sad to see you leave and thrilled to see you come back home. Your marriage needs to be the coronation of self-sacrifice. The world needs to see Christian men unashamedly in love with their wives. Chesterton once wrote that “Marriage is a duel to the death which no man of honour should decline.” You didn’t decline. You took on the armor to serve her. Now fight! Fight wholeheartedly to the glory of God; for the good of Narnia. Get rid of the ring of selfishness in Mount Doom where harsh masculinity abides and put on Jesus–the God/Husband who gave and gave and gave to the point of death.

Hiding Behind False Piety

Hiding Behind False Piety

It’s easy to hide behind devotional language: “God is all I need.” “Just give me Jesus.” This language was used in pietistic movements throughout the 18th-19th centuries and is employed abundantly today as a way of manipulating the Christian to internalize his faith.

The piety of such words betray a fundamental need in the human soul: we are made for one another. We are made to be in each other’s lives; so that, to desire God is to necessarily desire the people God created. To be the foot is to need the other parts.The Head leads when the other parts work together and see each others’ need and purpose in the body.

Pastoral Self-Care Lecture

Pastoral Self-Care Lecture

At the 2017 Biblical Horizons’ Conference, I delivered a lecture on pastoral self-care. You can listen to the lecture free here.

I Believe Children Should Be in Worship, Now What?

I Believe Children Should Be in Worship, Now What?

You attend a big/small evangelical church and you are now convinced that children should be in worship. “I believe this,” you say, “but my church doesn’t. Now what?” I want you to be faithful to your church and there is a way of doing that while disagreeing with the general ethos of the church regarding children.

First, I’d encourage you to talk to your pastor or an available church officer. Ask them if there would be any problem with bringing your little children to church. Though they may oppose it, kindly affirm that you would like to try it for some of the reasons mentioned in previous posts. With few exceptions, they have all been accommodating.

Secondly, begin to prepare your children to sit with you in worship during the week (I’ve written about this. Send me a note if you’d like suggestions).

Finally, persevere. Be prepared for some initial difficulties. Training children at home is a long-term labor of love and the same is true at church.

Shame, Guilt and Worship

Shame, Guilt and Worship

Sin affects us in several ways, but the two primary ways are through guilt and shame. Now both ideas may appear very similar, but there is a fundamental difference. Guilt comes when we become aware of particular sins. David says, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse from my sin.” These are two ways of saying the same thing. “God, I am guilty before you.” David could point to his adultery with Bathsheba and make a direct correlation with his guilt.

Shame, on the other hand, is not as easy to detect as guilt. With shame, we can’t always identify what the wrong was, or we can think of many wrongs, though struggle to find which wrong leads us to shame.

As we come to worship this morning, it is likely that we are under the effect of both concepts: guilt and shame. The good news is that the many faces of shame and guilt take a blow when together we come to confess our manifold sins and wickednesses. We come this morning to seek God’s face where there is abundant life. God in His mercy is ready to cleanse you and wash you and rewrite your narrative of guilt and shame with the narrative of His love. Come and worship before Him.

Children as Distraction

Children as Distraction

When I was a pastoral intern, I remember someone approaching me after a service and confessing that she simply couldn’t tolerate little children in worship because of their noises. “They were a distraction,” she said angrily. I often think this is the way many evangelicals view children: as distractions. They are distractions at home, so we find ways to entertain them rather than engage them. They are a distraction at church, so we do the same.

The disciples rebuked our Lord because they believed that the children were a distraction to Jesus’ “real” ministry (Mat. 19:13). But Jesus rebuked the disciples and said his ministry is to draw little children to him and to build a kingdom through the faith of those little disciples.

When we send our children to another gathering away from Jesus’ central gathering in worship, we are creating a separate class within Jesus’ earthly kingdom. Even though our intentions may be pure, we may be thinking as the disciples did and thereby missing the opportunity for Jesus to place his hands upon them and bless them with His love (Mat. 19:15).

Exhortation to Worship

Exhortation to Worship

The Bible has a way of ruining our way. The Bible marks God’s territory in places we think belong to us. God marks his territory in worship today because His ways are higher than man’s attempts to worship him. So, this morning, I am urging you to believe.

What would happen if we worshiped like we believed it? How would our view of worship change if we believed we are mystically and mysteriously seated in heavenly places, or in some way judging angels and the world, or if we believed we were God’s treasured possession? Or what if we believed that the Spirit of God is hovering over us as He did in creation preparing to form us into something new today? What if we believed that these next 60 minutes will transform us in a miraculous way? What if we believed that as we begin to worship shortly, God is going to shape your humanity into His glorious image? What if we believed that by the end of the Supper you will gain heaven? What if we believed that Jesus is going to take your words and make them into something beautiful before the Father in heaven? Brothers and sisters, believe this and rejoice.

The Comedy of Worship and Crying Children

The Comedy of Worship and Crying Children

When Paul says we are “fools for Christ,” he is saying that the Christian faith is comedic. An unbeliever should find Christian worship humorous at some level. In fact, to be a Christian is to live in the comedy of God’s work in history. Think about it: God is using the cries of infants to frighten his foes (Ps. 8:2), and our Lord says that the kingdom belongs to little children (Mat. 19:14). What could be weaker and funnier than a kingdom/army of infants?

In short, worship is a humorous clash of old and young, crying and singing, male and female all together worshipping one true God. I have often said that worship is not a classroom. The ideas we have of people quietly sitting receiving information needs to be dismantled. Little children need to be with adults in Church because without them the kingdom gathered is an incomplete kingdom. While cry rooms and nurseries are good and right, institutionalizing children’s church while the big people meet elsewhere is unwise and unhealthy for the proper flow of the kingdom of God on earth.

When we participate in worship together–nursing infants, little children, teenagers, adults–we are participating in history’s great comedy where God joyfully defeats evil (Ps. 2) through the cries of the weak and strong.