Tag Archives: religion

On the Role of Worship

Toby Sumpter elaborates on the purpose of worship:

You see, this is actually the first work of the Kingdom here. This is where we lay our ambush; this is where we perform the great air war. This is where we drop our nukes on sin, death, and the devil. Before you fight the battle against anger tonight, before you fight the battle against lust tomorrow, before you fight the battle against laziness on Wednesday, before you fight the battle against lying on Friday, you begin here by asking God to wield His sword on your heart and mind through His Word. You begin here by singing your war songs, believing that God marches before you slaying your enemies, making your path secure. You begin here casting your cares upon the Lord asking Him to move mountains, asking Him to heal the sick, asking Him to remove tyrants, asking Him to raise up the humble and meek. You begin here by feasting at the Lord’s Table, eating and drinking the victory of the Lamb who was slain.

Abraham was promised Canaan, and the He went through the land building altars and calling on the Name of the Lord, and hundreds of years later, Joshua led choirs and trumpets to circle Jericho until the walls came tumbling down. We don’t fight with fists or swords or bombs. We fight by the power of the Spirit. We fight with the Word of God, and we wield the wrecking ball of the Spirit until the walls of unbelief and tyranny and slavery fall down. We fight now. We wage war now.

Brothers, We Should Stink!

Thabiti Anyabwile is at it again. According to Thabiti:

These days pastoral ministry has become more glamorous, fabulous, fashionable than ever. We hear nowadays of pastors driving expensive cars or being chauffeured, owning private jets, and living in opulent mansions. Once only the “prosperity preachers” and bona fide hucksters touted such lives; now your neighborhood “orthodox” super-pastor does the same. It’s all so pretty, perfumed with the world’s “best” of everything.

Pastoral ministry has lost its wilderness motif. She is no longer invested and involved in that labor of caring, shepherding, and defending the sheep. Pastors no longer live among the sheep for their sake, rather, they prefer the green pastures of the golf course, or spending time with the elite membership. Baxter would be shocked! How much time do we spend with your people? Do we smell like them? Do we stink because of their problems? Do our clerical clothes smell like their cigarettes? Thabiiti writes:

The apostle understands that shepherds should smell like sheep. The sheep’s wool should be lint on our clothes. Our boots should be caked with their mud and their mess. Our skin ought to bear teeth marks and the weather-beaten look of exposure to wind, sun, and rain in the fields. We belong among the people to such an extent that they can be called on to honestly testify that our lives as messengers commend the message. We should be so frequently among them that we smell like them, that we smell like their real lives, sometimes fragrant but more often sweaty, musty, offensive, begrimed from battle with the world, the flesh, and the devil.

What used to be a foundational feature of the pastoral ministry has now become a forgotten tradition. Perhaps we ought to smell ourselves at the end of our weeks, and ask whether our clothes have the scent of our people, whether they are messy from those long pastoral trips, whether they are stained from coffee, and whether they reflect the shepherd’s calling.

There are profound dangers in the “pastor as academician” phenomenon. All pastors are scholars, but all pastors must use their scholarship to comfort, encourage, rebuke, exhort, and love their people. Scholarship apart from the stinkiness of pastoral ministry is an unused scholarship.

So have we identified ourselves with our people? Do they know us? Do they know we care for them? What is our boast? Is it in the well-delivered homily? In our power and giftedness? If so, we need to change our clothes and put on those well-worn garments of a shepherd and truly cherish the aroma of pastoral ministry. As Thabiti concludes:

Brothers, we are shepherds down in the fields of life — and we should stink.

Book Endorsement from Peter Leithart

Families are founded on death―the separation of a man and woman from their families of origin. Families end in death―the dispersal of children and finally the death of parents. Like seeds in the ground, families must die to bear fruit. There are hundreds of books on the Christian family on the market today, but few that get these basic truths right. The Church-Friendly Family is a rare exception. With biblical insight and pastoral practicality, Pastors Randy Booth and Rich Lusk show how the Father can use our families to fulfill the promises He spoke to our father Abraham.
―Peter Leithart

What the Blessed Man Believes About His Children

The blessed man will not accept what the world says about his children. He will believe what God says about his children. God says they are olive plants, holy and beloved. Thus, the godly man will water his children in baptism and fertilize them with the Scriptures and the Lord’s Supper, so they can bring forth juicy olives, full of the oil of the Spirit.

{Rich Lusk, The Church-Friendly Family}

Trinitarian Hospitality, A Parishioner’s Reflections

On reflecting on my sermon on Biblical Hospitality, one of my parishioners, Gracie Scott, offered some thoughts and applications based on her study of the issue framed by a Trinitarian model:

God, the three in one, is hospitably life giving, so how are we to be also?

Triune God – Father, Christ, Holy Spirit

FATHER: Breaths life into man (6th day)

Man: Gen. 1:28 Christians are to be fathers as well (parenting as a type of hospitality)

CHRIST: Justification, He awakens the soul through His blood

Man: Welcome the lost into our homes that they may see and hear the Good News (eating with the tax collectors who are in need a Physician, Mark 2:17)

HOLY SPIRIT: Sanctification – aids and speaks throughout our life after justification

Man: Fellowship with fellow believers. “Iron sharpening iron” (Prov. 27:17) throughout sanctification.

Another parishioner, Kandace Trotter, summarized in her senior thesis the contrast between selfishness and the God who delights in hosting:

The selfishness pervasive today does not take into account that God is hospitable, and each person of the Trinity acts selflessly toward the other, always serving one another in love (Smith 22, 41). Just as the Trinity is serving one another in love, so we should be serving with hearts overflowing with love. Hospitality is an act of physical and spiritual selflessness, so let us take this virtue and apply it in our daily lives, seeing that selflessness and hospitality flow out of love and respect for the Triune nature of God (Peterson 17).

Well done, ladies!

Mormonism and Joel Osteen

The same questions asked in the early church are being asked again in the 21st century. The Nicene Creed, a standard summary of Christianity, is threatened on a regular basis.

With the political scene heating up, and the Romney ticket becoming certain, the national debate is beginning to focus on the religious affiliation of candidates. This being the case, Romney’s Mormonism will take central stage again much like Kennedy’s Roman Catholicism in the 60’s.

Many evangelicals will taste the Republican pie certain of its bitter taste. However, they will claim its bitterness is tolerable. The more sophisticated evangelicals will argue that this is a necessary step, an incremental move that will bear fruit in the long term. The bottom line is Obama must go, and Romney is the likely candidate to assure this desired exit.

At the same time, there are a growing number of Christians who not only argue on the basis of Romney’s unconvincing credentials as a conservative, but also that his Mormon faith is unhealthy, and undesirable in the quest for a Christian republic.

Though many politicians play their religious syncretism with skill, Romney’s faith is unquestionably headed towards Utah. So, does this mean evangelicals need to back up in their creedal dogmatism? Or should they insist that a line is a line? Or did Athanasius die in vain?

Kennedy was quick to throw the pope under the bus. Will Romney do the same with Thomas S. Monson? Further, how will evangelicals undertake this theological analysis? Will they be able to distinguish properly between a non-Trinitarian and a worshiper of the One who is Three and One? These types of discussions will undoubtedly continue in the days ahead. Christians–many of whom I respect–have taken the “anything but” argument, and will push for a Romney presidency. If these evangelicals pursue this route–and there are many noble ones who will– may they be sure that they not confuse their Christ for an unknown god.

Mormonism–for all its moral qualities–is not Christian. Joel Osteen’s version of Jesus Christ is not Christian. His appeal to a broader view of Jesus–though politically savvy–is precisely the type of affirmation Jesus rejected. The Christian cannot afford to lose precision at this point. Our confession cannot be compromised:

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father,God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.