Theological Thoughts

The Dealer’s Prayer

The Dealer’s Prayer

Recently I had my first experience in a car dealership. The gentleman, kind enough, took us on a tour through the vast array of used cars. We had a budget in mind and we also had a fine mechanic whom we called if we had any questions (Thanks Eddie Hobbs in Pace) Our budget was conspicuously low in comparison to the 20-50K priced vehicles in the lot. But we were firm. We don’t believe in debt and we weren’t going to compromise our principle. Yet, the dealer was persistent. At one time when he pointed us to a vehicle with low mileage and in fine shape and ideal price. We called our mechanic and put the dealer on the phone with him. I couldn’t hear what the mechanic was saying to the dealer, but I could tell by the dealer’s face that we would run from the offer. And run we did.

The experienced wordsmith kept hinting at a certain car that may or may not have been sold. It was as if he was saying there is a hidden treasure in this cornfield and for the sake of the car gods I will find it just for you. And there it was. It was clean and charming. As the morning began to heat up so did his arguments; he wanted to close the deal. We were pleased with the hidden treasure–though wished he had revealed it an hour earlier. It was a fine car to suit our needs but we were not willing to pay for what he offered.

Still, my wife and I drove the vehicle while the dealer kept up with his well-tested pitches. “This is the vehicle for you. I know it.” “I’d buy this car if I could.” “This will fly out of this dealership in the next hour if you don’t buy it.” We walked into the dealership; happy with the vehicle, but still unhappy with the price and unwilling to compromise. So, the manager joins us. He doesn’t argue for the same vehicle. Maybe he sensed our unwillingness. “Would you all be comfortable with this car?” pointing to another vehicle in his inventory. It was in our price range. The dealer jumped up and acted rather surprised: “I had no idea this car was available.” It’s likely he didn’t–benefit of the doubt and all. We took a look at the offer, but when we sat inside the vehicle there were several immediate faults with the car. The dealer looked at us with evangelistic zeal and said: “All you have to do is say yes and this will be yours.” I’ve heard that line before somewhere. “Are you ready to take this home?” “Give us a few minutes to think,” I said. But at that stage, it didn’t take us long to conclude we were both exhausted from the three-hour altar call. We couldn’t go up and sign the dotted line. We couldn’t say the dealer’s prayer. I needed several hours to recover emotionally from that experience.

Calvin on Psalm 46

Explaining the significance of the psalmists’ first words in Psalm 46, Calvin writes:

…the faithful have no reason to be afraid, since God is always ready to deliver them, nay, is also armed with invincible power. He shows in this that the true and proper proof of our hope consists in this, that, when things are so confused, that the heavens seem as it were to fall with great violence, the earth to remove out of its place, and the mountains to be torn up from their very foundations, we nevertheless continue to preserve and maintain calmness and tranquility of heart.

 

Tyranny of the Unknown

Our tendency to isolate ourselves is grounded in several factors. One reason we usually avoid the company of fellow brothers and sisters stems from a stream of endless hypothetical situations about what might happen should I actively pursue community.

“But what if they see me as I really am?”
“What if they perceive me to not be as strong as they envisioned?”
“What if people’s examples challenge the way I do things?”

You see, fear leads to over-protectiveness/preservation of one’s aloneness, which means living together is crushed by the tyranny of the unknown. But you see, God wants you to jump into the sea of uncertainty when it comes to church life. It is good and right to allow yourself to be known; to taste and experience the mysteries of fellowship.

New Mercies: Communion Meditation

New Mercies: Communion Meditation

Long ago in a small little village, far away, there was a great fire. The residents frantically ran to fill up buckets of water attempting to minimize the damage to their little village. But the fire was all consuming. It spared nothing. The next day the villagers—exhausted from their labors—wept as they saw what remained from their belongings. “Everything we have is gone.”

The children, however, continued to play like every morning. The Father looked at them and said, “Don’t you know son that all your toys were burned down in last night’s fire?” The son looked at his father and said, “Father, you taught us that the Lord’s mercies are new each morning. Our toys may be gone, but the Lord’s mercies are not.” The father hugged his son and even as he wept he remembered God’s mercies.

The Supper is a new mercy for us each time we partake. It’s God’s gift when life is not what we expected it to be. At this table, mercy is offered. So, let us eat and drink.

Tough Parenting?

Tough Parenting?

It’s not that we are self-consciously crushing our children’s spirit, it’s that we have deceived ourselves into thinking it’s good parenting. We may call it “tough parenting” to make it more justifiable. But it’s wrong on many levels. An example of this takes place in the midst of discipline. Discipline is a crucial moment in the relationship between child/parent. When we think that discipline, for example, is a one-dimensional exercise, we’ve forgotten how our Father in heaven deals with us (Heb. 12:6). All discipline is characterized by dialogue. When we discipline without engaging, we are acting as if we are unapproachable precisely when our children need to approach us the most.
 
(After discipline, hugging the child): “Son, I love you and want the best for you. What you did was wrong, and it’s my responsibility to protect you from loving the wrong. Do you understand what daddy is saying?”
 
Redemption from wrong-doing does not come through a series of one-sided acts but through a series of relational actions that bind parent and child together in the journey of redemption.
The Grass is Greener on the Instagram Side

The Grass is Greener on the Instagram Side

On social media you have the ability to add color effects to your pictures, thus making each picture fit a particular style of beauty. The grass looks greener on the other side of an Instagram picture. We generally see people and their backgrounds and assume things are well or that they have at least a healthy part of their lives figured out. Like cheap therapists, we determine someone’s life by their pictures on their profile.

We reinvent ourselves daily to make ourselves acceptable to the world. It’s easier to live by sight than by faith. But we should let faith set the scenery of our lives. And we ought not to live vicariously through someone else’s social media life. Further, we shouldn’t be fooled into assuming the other person’s life lacks their own set of problems and pain. This is deception fitting for our tech age.

Jesus’ exhortation to seek his kingdom and pursue righteousness is a needed reminder for our age. So, simply: be content with the house and yard God has given you. It may not have the fancy color effect as your neighbors’, but it’s what you need.

“I do not want to be noticed”

“I do not want to be noticed”

One of the most interesting comments I have heard from visitors over the years came from a young man in his 20’s. After he attended our church for a couple of weeks, he came to me after church and said, “I am going to look for another church.” Sheepishly, I asked why. He said, “I am looking for a church that I can attend without being noticed.” My response, which may have shocked him a bit was: “Well, I hope you never find such a church.” Thankfully, we had the opportunity to talk about this at a later time. But when you think about that rationale, we are to be shocked about what it is communicating. The Church ought to be a place where you are noticed, not only that but where you are edified and challenged.

The Lord’s Supper invites you to be noticed this morning. It invites you to taste and touch the means of renewal in bread and wine. In fact, as you come to this table, be grateful that you are noticed and rejoice that God has set his eyes and affection upon you.

CREC Statement on Sexuality

CREC Statement on Sexuality

July 16, 2018

The CREC affirms the Bible’s teaching on the creation of man and woman and the establishment of the marriage relationship as only between one man and one woman. There are two sexes, male and female. We stand against all attempts to confuse the Bible’s clear teaching in this area.

The CREC believes that Christians who struggle with various sexual temptations should receive ongoing pastoral care, including those who are tempted to engage in sexual perversions. At the same time, we believe that any teaching that combines LGBTQ identity with identity in Christ is completely unbiblical.

 We believe that encouraging Christians who face certain sexual temptations to identify as lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders, whether in sexually active relationships or not, is unbiblical, and further, that this teaching will have destructive effects in the long term, both for individuals who follow it and for any Christian bodies that accommodate it.

 We exhort all ecclesiastical bodies to declare the Bible’s full and clear teaching on sexual behavior, whether in desires or actions, and to encourage individuals to repent of sinful desires and sexual behavior as they turn to Christ to resist temptation.

 We encourage patient pastoral care for struggling individuals who repent of their sins and seek to be obedient to Jesus.

We exhort the broader Christian Church, and particularly Reformed Churches, to hold their churches and pastors accountable to faithful biblical doctrine and practice in all areas of sexuality.

Virgil Hurt

Presiding Minister of Council

Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches (CREC)

Handout for Lecture on the New Heavens and Earth with Dr. Steve Jeffery

Download the handout

Heaven, Pensacola – Handout – letter, cut final appendix

 

The Parental Voice

The Parental Voice

We do live in an age of luxurious education. We have well equipped teachers, well developed programs, insightful on-line training. But the danger of such luxuries is that we as parents think we are doing our job by simply exposing, dropping off, or turning on something non-harmful. We are wrong to think this way. Our children’s knowledge is to be fundamentally formed by our parental understanding of the world. We can’t replace others’ affection for our affection, others’ words for our words. Our children need to hear from us that Joseph was a faithful servant, that Ruth was a loyal bride, and that Jesus is the greater king. Others may say all these things, but we need to be the central communicators of those realities daily. We must be constantly communicating and challenging their loves and habits. In the end of the day, it’s our voices speaking truth in love they need to hear most.