Tag Archives: religion

George Grant on Piety and Activism

“Activism without deep spiritual resources inevitably draws from shallow wells that soon run dry–it cannot long be sustained. This it ceases to be active. Piety without a forthright cultural agenda inevitably capitulates to the prevailing pressures of the world–it cannot exist in a vaccum. Thus it ceases to be pious.” -George Grant, The Micah Mandate, xiii

Evening of Goodness, Truth, and Beauty at Trinitas Christian School

Dr. George Grant exhorted and encouraged us this evening to conquer the world. This remarkably titanic vision, he argued, is actually grounded in the prayer our Lord taught us: “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” We need to start believing this prayer.

Grant sprinkled his optimistic talk with particular moments of history where darkness reigned, but yet God–in His mercy–provided and prepared men to embrace the challenge and plant seeds that would bear much fruit long after their deaths.

Among many contributing factors to the grim state of our culture, Pastor Grant argued that a pessimistic view of the world is very much guilty for what is transpiring in our midst. If we expect darkness, then why should darkness not prevail?

Grant’s magnificent rhetorical gifts coupled with his pastoral concerns and passion for the Church, and his loyalty to recover a Christ-centered education inculcated in us a robust vision for the world and the profound need to think futurely.

History has taught us much, but the knowledge of history without the formation of a future vision for Christendom is not the way forward. By embracing those true historical heroes, we have an inheritance that causes us to pursue and desire a world where truth, goodness, and beauty prevail and where Christ is all in all.

Here is my opening prayer for the evening:

Almighty and Gracious God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we give you thank for your tender mercies toward us.

We are grateful this evening  for the labors of Trinitas Christian School in these last fourteen years; for their commitment to training men and women to know biblical truth, and also to apply that truth in all areas of life. With Abraham Kuyper we affirm that “there is not one square inch that Christ has not claimed as His own.” We are thankful that You are the writer and master of history; nothing happens outside Your sovereign control. And this is why we commit this time unto you, for you have fashioned our ears to hear wisdom and our bodies to live by wisdom.

We thank you that in education You are forming us to be better lovers of truth and protector of that sacred inheritance given to us by our forefathers. With Chesterton, we affirm that “the true soldier fights because he loves what is behind him.” May our environment be bathed with the grace to know that we are not fighting for a vain cause, but for the future of our children and the glory of the Kingdom of God.

We pray for Pastor George Grant; that he might give us a greater vision for truth in our city, and that his words might cultivate in us hearts to desire truth for ourselves and our children.

May the truth of Your Word, the Goodness of your hands, and the Beauty of your majesty be with us now and forever more, through Jesus Christ, the world’s only Redeemer. Amen.

Howard Hendricks,1924-2013

.The famed professor of Dallas Theological Seminary, Dr. Howard Hendricks, died after serving at DTS for more than 60 years. You can hear his last sermon entitled the Ultimate Final.

Among his many publications, Wikipedia lists the following:

Books

Journal Articles

  • “Reaping the Rewards of Senior Ministry.” Bibliotheca Sacra vol 157 is 628, 2000. 387-396.
  • “Me, Myself, and My Tomorrows.” Bibliotheca Sacra vol 157 is 627, 2000. 259-270.
  • “Rethinking Retirement.” Bibliotheca Sacra vol 157 is 626, 2000. 131-140.
  • “The Other Side of the Mountain.” Bibliotheca Sacra vol 157 is 625, 2000. 3-14.
  • “Lord, Change My Children’s Father.” Fundamentalist Journal vol 5 is 2, 1986. 51-52.
  • “A Shirt for Timmy : Teaching Children to Pray.” Fundamentalist Journal vol 4 is 11, 1985. 53-54.
  • “The Art of Family Living.” Fundamentalist Journal vol 3 is 9, 1984. 39-41.
  • “Preparing Young People for Christian Marriage.” Bibliotheca Sacra vol 128 is , 1971. 245-262.
  • “Review of ‘Leading a Church School.'” Christianity Today vol 13 is , 1969. 31-32.

Communion Meditation: God Has Made It Clear

The good news of the Kingdom is that Christ has conquered the devil. But how He conquered is the important part of this text. He conquered Satan not by arguing with temptation, but by rebuking temptation with God’s Word.

He did not allow the devil to set the rules for the game. The rules were set long ago. We are not to give the devil the privilege of interpreting what God has made so clear.

We come to this table this morning with the full assurance that Word and Sacrament are clear means of grace for us this morning. God gives us His word for our nourishment and He gives us Bread and Wine as eternal signs that no temptation is greater than that which we can bear, but God is faithful and just to provide us a way to escape it.

God’s House of Healing

Healing is a highly liturgical act. Jesus demonstrates this in a variety of ways, and we too ought to demonstrate it. The idea of cessationism does not do justice to the normative function of the New Creation Church. Cessationism implies a form of termination from those acts which I believe are actually accentuated for us in this age. As I have argued elsewhere, John Frame’s language of semi-cessationism (or what I call transformationism) is a much better term to describe this theological concept. There is no doubt in my mind that those gifts– particularly healing–had a distinct function. Jesus was exorcising Satan, sickness, and sin. This is a form of healing the nations from demonic oppression. The Kingdom of God was coming by force. But this healing now takes on an ecclesiastical shape. Healing is still healing. Satan, sickness, and sin are still exorcised, but through the body and through unique functions of the body. Jesus’ healing ministry takes on a new form in the midst of the holy assembly.

What Jesus does in Luke is a model for what the Church does in Acts and throughout. The mission of the Church is bound up in healing the nations. But she does this through different means. She does this by upholding and supporting institutions that cherish God’s justice, by nurturing her people from brokenness to health, and from mourning to joy. The Church is a healing place. In worship, God’s people are experiencing the healing power of forgiveness and the constant pain of that divine surgery performed by the piercing Word of the Lord.

Liturgy is a form of healing. As Rich Lusk observed: “Liturgy is the ultimate form of pastoral care and nurture.” Why is it crucial to be in Church and of the Church? Because it is there through the different liturgical experiences that the soul and body are nurtured. It is there where theological medicine is given and where healing is found.

The Church also does this outside of her gathered body. She ministers healing through deeds of mercy. She provides healing to the divorced and widow. She prepares meals and brings joy to the recovering mother after birth. She provides healing through encouragement and exhortation. In short, healing is a highly liturgical act. The Church continues what our Lord started. She does this through means, through oil (James 5), through Word and Sacrament, through rebuke and rejoicing. The Church is God’s house of healing.

The Voice of Yahweh

In the Psalm we are reciting this morning we will hear a lot about the voice of Yahweh. Psalm 29 says some spectacular things about what the voice of Yahweh accomplishes. It literally transforms the landscape of the desert, makes animals rejoice, and makes us cry out His glory.

The words of God change the world. When he speaks the world respond. We will consider Luke’s account this morning of the baptism of Jesus and we hear those precious words uttered in the the baptism of Jesus from God the Father: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased!” The words of Yahweh are repeated also in our baptisms. In baptism God is affirming his love for his sons and daughters and marking them with His name. We are recipients of the blessings of the voice of Yahweh over us.

But also we hear the voice of Yahweh in this worship service. He invites us with the call to worship and He dismisses us with His benediction. The voice of Yahweh changes our lives. The Psalmist concludes:

Yahweh gives strength to his people;
             Yahweh blesses his people with peace.

And this is the purpose of Yahweh’s words: to give us all His peace. Let us then be changed as we hear His voice.

Prayer: May We reply to the voice of Yahweh with these words:

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,

to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might

and honor and glory and blessing!”

Receive our praise, O Gracious King Jesus Christ, for in your name we pray. Amen.

Homosexuality Brings Death!

Homosexuality brings death! The entire testimony of sacred Scriptures attests to this fact. St. Paul writes that they “dishonor their bodies among themselves.” Yet our culture continues to live as if it is simply a choice like any another. But some choices bring life, and others bring death. Again, homosexuality brings death!

This became even clearer to me today. As I began editing some work this morning at the office I received a phone call from a man I will refer to as “Bill.” Bill found our Church’s name when looking for a Reformed congregation in Pensacola. Over the years our small congregation has received a fair amount of traffic due to its status on google search as one of the first two churches listed under “Reformed/Pensacola.” I am thankful for this visibility. It has afforded me various opportunities to meet new people and interact with them on-line.

If you know anything about the Bible belt is that explicit Reformational churches are few in number. Bill comes from Los Angeles where the Reformed influence is even less. But by God’s grace, due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, he found himself in Pensacola for a day. He called wanting to talk to a brother. I listened attentively. Having exposed myself to a fair number of professional panhandlers I knew this one was different. Bill’s story was sincere and it offered no hint of deceit.

With my deacon being away and my associate pastor not available I called and told him that I would pick him up. I attended the funeral of a dear neighbor with my wife and left to meet him right afterwards.

As I arrived I immediately identified Bill. His 50 year old body could easily be mistaken for a 70 year old man. The truth is Bill is dying. He once was 250 pounds, but now he only weighs 130. Bill has AIDS and the doctor told him he only has six months to live. I introduced myself, helped him with his bags, and offered to buy him breakfast. He readily accepted, though adding he will most likely throw it up later. His body can no longer digest well.

He wanted to eat at Waffle House. We found the nearest one and sat to eat. “I want three very, very crunchy pieces of bacon,” he asked. “Sure thing, sweetie,” replied the waitress in what must be a universal Waffle House lingo. As we waited we talked. I asked him all sorts of questions. “How in the world did you end up in a reformational church in California,” I asked. Bill attends a very small congregation started by a Master’s Seminary grad from Scotland who happens to know–as Bill refers to–“brother Ferguson” personally. “Sinclair Ferguson!” I replied? “Yes, that’s him!” Bill happened to run across a passionate evangelical at Starbucks one day and the two became friends and began to talk on the phone regularly. The young man was 29 years old and suffering from serious health issues. In the process he was able to introduce Bill to Reformed literature. One day Bill fell on his face and asked God to save him. “I knew at that moment that I was no longer a homosexual,” he said. The friend who introduced him to Christ died soon after, but not without changing Bill and his life.

Bill said that J.I. Packer’s book Knowing God was his all-time favorite. “I met J.I. Packer,” I proudly stated. His eyes lit up. “I also read R.C. Sproul…lots and lots of his books.” ” I also met him and sat under his preaching many times,” I said. “You don’t know how blessed you are,” he said. The truth is I don’t. I take so much for granted.

So here I was in Pensacola sitting across a former homosexual who dedicated his entire life to the abuses of a lifestyle that he himself describes as “deadly from the start,” and this same man–who only has six months to live–has a goal to re-read Calvin’s Institutes this year. “The sovereignty of God changed my life,” he said. He only has little time left and now is consuming whatever Reformed literature he can find. Beyond that, this same man is preaching the gospel to his former homosexual community who now shuns him. “They want me gone in L.A….they don’t want to hear my message,” he says. But Bill is a changed man. He is not going to stop now. His life is vanishing little by little, but he still finds the gospel invigorating and refreshing to proclaim.

Afterwards I took Bill to his motel and bid him adieu! “God bless you and thank you,” he uttered. God bless and thank you, Bill. Homosexuality brought and will bring you death, but Christ gave you a new life in this world and in the world to come. Amen and amen!

Children in Worship

Two fellow pastors have contributed to this important discussion. Pastor Rob Hadding writes:

One would be hard pressed to find examples in the Bible of where parents are instructed to exclude children from worship or the feasts. In fact, there are many places where the Bible explicitly instructs the people of God on how to include them. But, and this is the root of the matter, it is not our practice in American Evangelical culture to look to the Bible to see how we ought to be doing things. Rather, we look to the culture, asking the world for its wisdom. Where is our biblical theology of children? Where is our biblical theology of family? Where is our biblical theology of worship?

Pastor Toby Sumpter also touches on this in his piece, and concludes:

All I mean is that God designed worship to include other people and especially other little people, children. Real worship includes those people next to us, in the row behind us, and in front of us. It’s certainly true that without discipline or teaching, they can become distractions, but the fact that they are there, needing attention, smiling, waving, drawing pictures, and doing their own best to worship is glorious and nothing to be regretted or despised. And you, parents, if you are holding their hands and lifting your hearts to the Lord, then your worship is accepted. You are received, loved, rejoiced over by your Father in Heaven. You are worshiping, really worshiping.

It is time that we restore our little children to worship! They have been exiled long enough!

{For a more extended article on this topic, see Pastor Randy Booth’s Little Children and the Worship of God}

Sermon: Prayer, Time and the Transformation of the World, Part II, I Timothy 2:1-4

Text: First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

(1 Timothy 2:1-4 ESV)

People of God, this is the last Sunday of the Church Year. Last Lord’s Day I offered a short defense of the Church Calendar, and the importance of time and liturgy. As Christians we know that time is on our side because time belongs to King Jesus, and King Jesus has graciously given time to His Bride, the Church. The Church is called to use time wisely and cheerfully for the sake of the world. In other words, when the world asks “what time is it?” it is the Church’s role to let her know, not vice-versa. We set the agenda for the world, not the opposite. Now if we could only get Christians on board in this simple proposal, then we could expect some radical things to happen in the world. But what has happened instead? Well, by and large the evangelical, Protestant Church has followed the world’s calendar. She has borrowed money from the world, and now the world wants it all back with excessively high interest rates.[1] At the end of the day we look at each other in amazement and wonder why we are losing the battle. We have been undiscerning, and unaware of how the world functions. Why? Because we don’t know how the Church functions, or what her role is in the world. Let’s be frank: when we think about time, we think more about vacation time than Church time. And we are wrong! And the fruits of this is becoming clearer and clearer in our society. There is no sense of belonging. The youth are leaving in large numbers. They are tired of lights, skits, false transparency, and religious pep-talks. We are all guided by time, but what is happening is that by the time our children turn 18 they take time into their own hands. Continue reading Sermon: Prayer, Time and the Transformation of the World, Part II, I Timothy 2:1-4