Tag Archives: father. God the Father

Baptized Children, New Life in God the Father Galatians 3 June 19, 2016 First St Johns

[for the audio version click on the above icon]

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who are born again, know God as their Father and cry out Abba to Him said … AMEN!…

Tony Cooke tells the following story: “…of a father of five children who came home with a toy. He summoned his children and asked which of them should be given the present. “Who is the most obedient one here? Who never talks back to Mom and does everything that Mom says to do?” He inquired. There were a few seconds of silence, and then all of the children said in one accord: “You play with it Daddy!”[1] This sounds like a father who actually gets it, I’m not talking about a mousey guy who just “yes dear, no dear”, but who is obviously modeling for his children what they need to know when they become parents and supporting their  wife, the mother of their children. I would bet that when he has an issue he and mom, work it out, how to truly model a godly father. That the children would be humble enough to acknowledge that dad does these things is a testament to how they’re being raised, they have enough discernment and respect to understand how things should be. As you see in the insert in your bulletin, Billy Graham writes: “A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”[2] I think you can make a case that in today’s society Dads are very under appreciated. Watch television, there’s always the clueless, detached father in the program. You do have to wonder if this is some sort of shot, not just at fathers, but at God the Father. I get it many people have “father” issues, and there are way too many “fathers” who have just punted on their responsibilities, but if you have a father who is trying to help you mature, trying to help you be a real person, is really not concerned with your little desires or your dramas, but will do whatever he can to help you to become a man or woman who has integrity, to become someone who wants to be strong enough to be there to serve others and his or her family, a dad who wants you to be devoted to God and to be all that God wants you to be, then you should be thankful for a father like that. That is what fathers are supposed to do. If you’re a man with children and you’re not doing at least these basics, I would really look hard at my life and decide if I’m truly serving my wife and my children. It’s very fashionable today for a father to think that mom knows what’s best in all circumstances and just concede their responsibility to her to their children. That’s just not true, God gave children a father and a mother for a reason, a man and a woman for a reason, because men and women are very different, but we come together as one flesh, as we vow to do when we are married, and then our differences are very complementary and help each other to grow and especially for our children to grow, to be mature, strong adults who do serve each other and the community they live in as God intended for them to be.

We tend to minimize how we pray the Lord’s prayer, “Our Father…” some say they have a problem because of some abuse or neglect of their earthly father.  Yes, I understand, there can be bitterness towards your earthly father, there can be bitterness towards lots of different people. We almost seem to encourage bitterness against a father, that it is somehow justified, while we try to get people to forget their bitterness towards others. The effects of bitterness and anger, and we always feel justified, but those effects damage us like any other bitterness, regardless of who you think has hurt you. We have a Father in heaven who keeps us from bitterness, who provides for us, blesses us, guides us and carries us through the trials of life. The Father who gives us the promise of life in Him in this life and to the perfect life we were meant to live, to life eternal in the resurrection. So when we pray “our Father who art in heaven”, it is to the almighty perfect Father, Creator and Sustainer of all, not the man who you feel has failed you. We may reject our earthly father, but we reject our heavenly Father to our eternal loss and regret. John quotes Jesus: “Jesus said to them ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here.” (John 8:42) I am truly sorry that anyone should be hurt, that someone should be in a situation where they are damaged in some way by the man who they should trust to do whatever he can for them, up to and including sacrificing his life for them. Fathers aren’t perfect, being a father I can certainly attest to that in my own case, but I think, along with probably the fathers here right now, that what I did was for the best of the child, albeit imperfectly, but that I would, without a second thought, give my life to protect my wife and children. We can overcome anything in the power of Christ, we can know how much our earthly father cares for us, or at least should care for us, but much more importantly, for eternal consequences, that our Father in heaven, who is far greater than anyone of us, does love us beyond anything we can imagine. We do, all of us, have a Father who will do whatever is necessary in order to save your life to eternal life, to true life in eternity in Jesus. I have no doubt that everyone here has a reason for some kind of bitterness, but in Christ, being guided by the Holy Spirit there is no bitterness that we can’t be healed in order to bring us into communion in Jesus “so that we might receive adoption as sons … God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” We can let bitterness about anything eat us up inside. Bitterness that will stunt our growth, isolate us from the world around us, give us an excuse to estrange ourselves from God the Father, continue to separate us from salvation in Jesus or we can; in joy, celebration, cry out Abba! Father! as we should do, that we have His promise, that we are protected by His infinite strength and His infinite provision. Our earthly father can only provide so much, but our heavenly Father can and will provide in every situation. Not to say He just hands us what we think we need, but our Abba, our daddy, our Papa, will provide what we need, when He chooses in His infinite knowledge and mercy when we need it, and no matter what, we will look back and realize how much we needed what He provided and in the perfect time that He provided it in.

From the Lutheran Study Bible: “the Holy Spirit assures us that we are God’s children, redeemed by Jesus Christ and made full heirs of the promise to Abraham. … Christ earned for us the right to call God ‘our Father’ a prayer taught only by the Spirit.” But not only ‘Father’ but ‘Papa’, again from the Lutheran Study Bible; “Aramaic, for ‘Papa’ an address of special intimacy not typically found in Judaism.”[3] Paul is saying that yes, before you were under the Law, people were left to strive, for those in the world, without Jesus, they are left to cope with the world on their own terms, worse led by Satan to their own destruction. God, our Father, Abba, guides us as His children, watching over us as only God the Father can. We see in our Gospel reading the power of God. Jesus asked the man in Gerasenes what his name was. The man answered Legion, for many demons had entered him. Jesus obviously, not the least bit intimidated or impressed, after all this man was led by the demons to fall down before Jesus, to beg him not to torment them. Jesus, God the Son, because of His strength and power, showed how He protects His children, us, from the power and evil of the world.

Tony Cooke quotes Steve Farrar: “A godly father is the unseen spiritual submarine who lurks below the surface of every activity of his child’s life. A man who has put on the full armor of God and with that armor, goes to warfare on his knees for his children, is a force to be reckoned with we cannot be with our children 24 hours a day through our prayers we have the ability to affect situations even when we are not physically present. You may be undetected but that does not mean you are ineffective.”[4] As fathers given guardianship of our children, by God the Father, the most important thing we can do is to keep our children focused on God the Father that in our baptism in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we are His adopted children through our Lord Jesus Christ who died for us to bring us into our relationship with our heavenly Father. Christ earned for us the right to call God ‘our Father’, a prayer taught only by the Spirit.”[5] We give Him our thanks and praise for His sacrifice for us and so that we can live in relationship with “Our Father who art in heaven”

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom

[1]Tony Cooke, Tony Cooke ministries   http://www.tonycooke.org/holiday-resources/fathers_day/

 

[2] Billy Graham quoted by Upward Sports

[3] (Lutheran Study Bible p 2008)

[4] Tony Cooke, Tony Cooke ministries   http://www.tonycooke.org/holiday-resources/fathers_day/

 

[5] Lutheran Study Bible p 2009

Meekness and following the world’s lead Matthew 5:5

The world tries to shut the church up, by saying something to the effect: “Doesn’t Jesus say “the meek shall inherit the earth”? So that means you should just shut up and mind your own business because that what meek means.” Yea, No! And the last thing on earth we should be doing is listening to the worldly/secular about the Bible. They take a few isolated phrases (oh yeah, judge not blah blah blah…), think they really know what they’re talking about and throw those phrases around. As always, the secular is about an inch thick and a mile wide. Problem is too many in the church, who also don’t know what they’re talking about, who call themselves Christians but don’t read the Bible, don’t truly serve, just cave in to the secular do what they’re told and even have the chutzpah to tell others in the church what they should and shouldn’t do. Liberal Christians dismiss way too much in the Bible, have this sort of half-baked, groundless spirituality and try to sell that as real Christianity. This folks is the height of dishonesty, if you don’t really know what you’re talking about then do everyone, yourself included, and keep your mouth shut. Presuming to teach the church about Christianity is the height of arrogance, is called the sin of presumption.

Now I’m going to quote the Blackabys at length because this is the best explanation I’ve seen of what “meekness” according to Jesus, in the Greek, the original meaning actually is talking about in Matthew.

“The word Jesus used had a different meaning. His picture of meekness is that of a stallion that has been brought into subjection to its master…The stallion has lost none of its strength or endurance; it has simply turned these over to the control of the master.” (Experiencing God day by day Henry Blackaby, Richard Blackaby p 235) Meekness is in terms of submitting to God and His will, not the world’s. We have the power of Christ, yes we are supposed to be winsome, welcoming, encouraging. No the other extreme of the image of the church being “well you better just get everything together right now and be the perfect person, yada, yada!!” Well that’s wrong too, seems there’s always this middle that Jesus wants us in and we  either think we’re supposed to be just weak and stupid or we let the world convince us that we’re being bullies by proclaiming Christ. The middle is often too hard for people, yea even Christians. Most people like nice and cozy black and white. My experience in the corporate world, the military, government, school, church, there is no such thing as a black and white. There’s this place where you are supposed to leave yourself open to the Holy Spirit’s guiding and most of the time it’s not some nicey/nice vacuous cream puff. It’s hard to stand up for what’s right, I get it, but like the old saying “if it was easy everyone would do it”. Being a Christian isn’t easy, Jesus told us there is a narrow road, a narrow gate to salvation. Because the Holy Spirit guides us we know what that is and that is what we have to tell the world, even when obnoxious bores are telling us to shut up. They will, because they can’t tolerate the truth, they live in their own little fiction which leads to destruction and they don’t want to know the truth and they don’t want anyone else to either. “Meekness is not submitting to everyone around us, it is taking our direction from God. Meekness means a life submissive to the Holy Spirit…” Read the Bible, when people were standing for God they were not bashful about it. If anything they were very much asserting the truth of God, the truth of Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection, the truth of the Bible. And yes quite often, be it an Old Testament prophet, Peter, Paul, John they were not bashful and they were very assertive. I’m not saying for anyone to go out of there way to be obnoxious, but again that big gray area. You must know what you’re talking about, be serious about it, get past this gloopy, sweetey Christianity, assert that we are all sinners in need of a Savior, that we do need to understand that and repent of our sin. We need to be baptized, not our decision, but because the Holy Spirit has led us, we need to be instructed in the faith so that we can function as knowledgeable Christians, we need to regularly attend worship and grow in our fellowship and Christian maturity, we need to regularly receive the true Body and Blood of Jesus and we need to be open to the leading of the Spirit to witness to those around us about Jesus.

It basically means to be mature, strong, knowledgeable baptized sons and daughters of God, we call that being a “disciple” of Jesus. Just as anyone else in the Bible is. To be any less is to cave into the world, and to be faithless to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Christ saved us, He is the ultimate truth, the world is a lie, especially when it presumes to teach us something that it doesn’t even understand. This idea that a Christian is supposed to be a malleable cupcake for the world to push around is just not Biblical and it certainly is not going to serve anyone.

Serving, Service, Gifts, Talents

I don’t know why this bugs me, maybe I’m just not gifted, maybe I don’t serve effectively, or maybe I’m looking at the Bible and seeing that no one in the Bible made massive productions out of their gifts. I don’t even see where anyone can justify their opinion that there are those in the Bible who were especially gifted. It looks to me as though various people were empowered to perform a specific act in the context of the situation. If someone came to Peter for healing, Peter was empowered to heal, but he wasn’t at liberty to just wander around and heal at will. Jesus certainly was, but Jesus is God the Son through whom all creation came into existence. If He choses to heal, then He is certainly entitled to exercise His prerogative.

We are all called to serve, no question. That does not mean that we are empowered to do what we want with any gifts we’re given whenever we want to. In fact as a Lutheran, I would submit that the Holy Spirit puts us into the situations where He wants healing and empowers us to do so. Otherwise, we move along and follow His lead. There are way too many Christians out there (and I’ve talked to many of them) who are convinced that they are somehow specially gifted and entitled to go out and demonstrate those gifts. Sorry, but my “poser” antenna goes up when someone is talking to me in that way. Frankly, I immediately get the sense that this person really thinks it’s all about Him, that he is somehow special and that is why He is gifted. Satan can certainly gift you too. He gives you a gift to do something “good”. OK, lots of unsaved people do “good” things. But what’s Satan’s bigger purpose? Maybe to get you so obsessed with your “special” gift, and how “special” you are and start to separate you from Christ, after all, you don’t need Jesus, you have these special gifts. Hey, Satan really doesn’t care how he turns you from Christ, anything will work, so long as it’s not about Jesus.

This attitude is certainly prevalent among the “Name it and Claim it” types, the Benny Hinns, the Pentecostals, charismatics. These are people whose ministry is almost entirely about their emotional gratification, their “special” gifts, their speaking in tongues and very little about Jesus, grace, salvation, what the Holy Spirit does. No it’s really about what they do and the Jesus stuff? Well that’s a nice incidental.

Their entire schtick, worship seems to be like a carnival barker. They have to have a big crowd, yada, yada, hurry, hurry, come on in, see the great Jesus. Not so much seeing Jesus as seeing what He can do. Problem is not only did Jesus usually do healings in a very subdued, private way, He also told people to keep quiet about it. They often didn’t and were bringing people to Jesus as some kind of side show. Paul doesn’t even talk about performing any miracles, although it seems he did. He wasn’t interested in miracles, if Jesus was going to do a miracle through him, it was all about Jesus and nothing about Paul.

When you encounter someone who is making a big production about their “gifts” I suggest you treat them very lightly. Too often this stuff is orchestrated, contrived, might I even say demonic. Too often these people show themselves to be phonies and have somehow managed to set up the show their performing. Satan is all about that, sure, all about the gifts and the results, nothing about Jesus who genuinely heals.

God does not respond on command, the only exception being Jesus and certainly Jesus could/can do miracles in His own power. Other miracles were set up because either God specifically sent the person, like Moses, told him what to do, how to do it and God did the miracle through Moses. Certainly you could make the case that God set up the circumstances for that person to be put in the situation to perform the miracle and they only lent their presence to the situation, the power of the miracle was all God’s.

Too many people presume to treat God like a trained monkey, working on command, that’s not how God works. That person should know that and wonder where else this supposed “power” is coming from. Let’s focus on the faith, grace and Word that God gives us and get over this idea that God has given us some kind of unique power. There’s nothing in the Bible that would indicate that He does. Does He give us gifts? Sure. Are they for our gratification or for His glorification? The correct answer, of course is, His glorification. If it is somehow working out otherwise, you might want to seriously question what is going on and if you have used your “gifts” to truly serve Him or just to draw attention to yourself because you’re “special”. You’re not and the more quietly and unassuming God uses gifts through you, in that usual paradoxical way that God works, the more that God will be working through you. You might not think that He’s performing signs and wonders, but in God’s usually subtle ways He may be using you powerfully if you trust in His will and not some idea that you are specially gifted.

 

Real Sciencetists who were also very real Christians

Great Scientists (left to right): Kirby, Pasteur, Newton, Carver, Maxwell, Kepler, Boyle, Bell
The greatest scientists—the ones most responsible for great discoveries—were creationists.
These include Kepler, Newton, Boyle, Bell, Kirby, Maxwell, Pasteur and Carver, among many others. Their numerous discoveries include physical astronomy, calculus, chemistry, electrodynamics, vaccination, and immunization.

They believed that, as scientists, they were “thinking God’s thoughts after Him,” learning to understand and control the laws and processes of nature for God’s glory and man’s good. They believed and practiced science in the same way that modern creationist scientists do.

Johann Kepler
Isaac Newton

Robert Boyle
Charles Bell

William Kirby
James Clerk Maxwell

Louis Pasteur
George Washington Carver

These men believed in the inspiration and authority of the Bible, as well as in the deity and saving work of Jesus Christ. They believed that God had supernaturally created all things, each with its own complex structure for its own unique purpose. More…

Free Creation News Publication Interested in more information about creation, evolution, and intelligent design? Want to know the latest take on scientific discoveries and how they affect our understanding of the Bible? Does science help us interpret the Bible or should the Bible remain the interpreter of science?

Keep up with these and other issues in ICR’s [Institute for Creation Research] monthly Acts & Facts magazine, a free, full-color periodical that deals with science from a biblical perspective. Included with your subscription is the devotional Days of Praise.
Johann Kepler
Physical Astronomy and Celestrial Mechanics
Johann Kepler is best known for discovering the three mathematical laws of planetary motion, dubbed “Kepler’s Laws,” that established the discipline of celestial mechanics. He revolutionized scientific thought by applying physics (then considered a branch of natural philosophy) to astronomy (then seen as a branch of mathematics).

Kepler defended Nicolaus Copernicus’ theory of heliocentrism and sought to reconcile it with Scripture. His Protestant beliefs won him little favor with the Catholic church, and the Lutheran church shunned him for his Calvinist sympathies. He was forced to relocate more than once to avoid persecution, as well as to escape political dangers from ongoing wars.

But Kepler stayed true to his faith, and his scientific discoveries earned him acclaim, legitimized the discoveries of his contemporary Galileo, and influenced generations of scientists that followed him.

“…and thou my soul, praise the Lord thy Creator, as long as I shall be: for out of Him and through Him and in Him are all things….To Him be praise, honour, and glory, world without end. Amen.”—J. Kepler, Harmonies of the World, 137.

These men believed in the inspiration and authority of the Bible, as well as in the deity and saving work of Jesus Christ. They believed that God had supernaturally created all things, each with its own complex structure for its own unique purpose. More…

Free Creation News Publication Interested in more information about creation, evolution, and intelligent design? Want to know the latest take on scientific discoveries and how they affect our understanding of the Bible? Does science help us interpret the Bible or should the Bible remain the interpreter of science?

Isaac Newton
Calculus and Dynamics
As a young scientist and mathematician, Sir Isaac Newton invented the generalized binomial theorem and began developing the mathematical theory that would later become calculus.

While working as a Cambridge professor, Newton’s work in optics earned him recognition by the Royal Society. And his 1687 work, The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, is considered today the single greatest work in the history of science. In it he described universal gravitation and the three laws of motion, derived from Kepler’s Laws.

His work at the Royal Mint earned him knighthood in 1705, and he was elected to the French Académie des Sciences, as well as serving as President of the Royal Society in 1703. But he was also a serious student of the Bible and published several theological works. After he died in 1727, he was interred in Westminster Abbey.

“Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done.”—I. Newton

Robert Boyle
Chemistry and Gas Dynamics
Robert Boyle conducted scientific research into air pressure, mechanics, and chemistry—which he believed should no longer be a subordinate study of alchemy and medicine. He criticized traditional alchemists and laid the foundation for the atomic theory of matter in The Sceptical Chymist, the cornerstone work for modern chemistry. During his travels, he visited Florence, Italy, and studied with the aging Galileo Galilei. He co-founded the prestigious Royal Society in 1663.

He was also a serious student of the Bible, learning the languages of Hebrew, Cyriac, and Chaldee so that he could read the text firsthand. He promoted Christianity in the East by financially supporting missionaries and Bible translation. Upon his death in 1691, he endowed a series of lectures in his will designed to defend Christianity. The “Boyle Lectures” are held annually to this day in London, a legacy of this remarkable man of God.

“The last service that, I hope…is to induce men to pay their admiration, their praises, and their thanks, directly to God himself; who is the true and only creator of the sun, moon, earth, and those other creatures, that men call the works of nature.”—R. Boyle, 1725, The Philosophical Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle Esq: Abridged, Methodized, and Disposed Under the General Heads of Physics, Statics, Pneumatics, Natural History, Chymistry, and Medicine, 149.

Charles Bell
Anatomy and Surgery
Charles Bell had particular interest in the nervous system, and he published Idea of a New Anatomy of the Brain in 1811, now considered the “Magna Carta of neurology.” Several discoveries are named for him, including Bell’s Nerve, Bell’s Palsy/Paralysis, Bell’s Phenomenon, and Bell’s Spasm.

His scientific endeavors convinced him of the existence and necessity of the Creator. Studying the human body, he realized how dependent people are on involuntary physical processes, and he saw close-minded reliance on reason as not only ignorant, but “worse than ingratitude.”

He was familiar with uniformitarianism, which influenced the development of Darwinism, and Bell thought science should be allowed to follow the evidence—even if it leads to a supernatural origin.

“When man thus perceives, that in respect to all these vital operations he is more helpless than the infant, and that his boasted reason can neither give them order nor protection, is not his insensibility to the Giver of these secret endowments worse than ingratitude?”—C. Bell, 1852, The Fourth Bridgewater Treatise on the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God as Manifested in the Creation: The Hand; Its Mechanism and Vital Endowments as Evincing Design, 14

William Kirby
Entomology
William Kirby and fellow British entomologist William Spence authored the four-volume An Introduction to Entomology: or Elements of the Natural History of Insects, considered the foundational work in the field of entomology.

With Spence, Kirby helped found the Entomological Society of London in 1833, to which he was appointed Honorary President for life. His vision of an Ipswitch natural history museum was realized in 1847, and he served as its president until his death in 1850.

“In no part of creation are the POWER, WISDOM, and GOODNESS of its beneficent and almighty Author more signally conspicuous than in the various animals that inhabit and enliven our globe.”—W. Kirby, 1835, The Seventh Bridgewater Treatise on the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God as Manifested in the Creation: The History, Habits and Instinct of Animals, Vol. 1, i.

James Clerk Maxwell
Electrodynamics and Statistical Thermodynamics
James Clerk Maxwell worked extensively with translating electromagnetic equations and the principles of color combinations. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1861 and published multiple papers on electromagnetism, heat, and physics.

Maxwell is held in high regard to this day in the scientific community, but few know or acknowledge his strong Christian roots or his faith in the authority of God’s Word. Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species (1859) was published during Maxwell’s lifetime. Maxwell wasn’t convinced evolution was a viable theory, and he wasn’t afraid to speak on the matter.

“The consciousness of the presence of God is the only guarantee of true self-knowledge. Everything else is mere fiction, fancy portraiture—done to please one’s friends or self, or to exhibit one’s moral discrimination at the expense of character.”—J. C. Maxwell, 1858, A letter to the Rev. L. Campbell.
Robert Boyle
Louis Pasteur
Microbiology, Bacteriology, Biogenesis Law, Pasteurization, Vaccination And Immunization
Little was known about preventative medicine in the days of Louis Pasteur. Today, we owe all the discoveries in the fields of microbiology and immunology to his work. He shares the title of “father of germ theory and bacteriology” with German physician Robert Koch. He was a devout Catholic and was famously “regarded as conforming with the biblical account of the creation.”

At the time, Darwin’s theory of abiogenesis (or the idea that life was generated from non-life) reigned, but Pasteur’s systematic and exhaustive experiments disproved it, opening the way for germ theory. He had a rigorous approach to experimentation and wouldn’t make any claims until he had re-tested his hypothesis several times.

Two of his main contributions to science and medicine are the anthrax and rabies vaccines. His work set the foundation for some of the most important advances in our modern world. Pasteur was an experimentalist of the highest order, and his science was undoubtedly fueled by his faith.

“I see everywhere the inevitable expression of the Infinite in the world; through it the supernatural is at the bottom of every heart.”—L. Pasteur

George Washington Carver
Modern Agriculture
George Washington Carver revolutionized agricultural science with his cultivation of soil-enriching crops, such as peanuts and soybeans, to revive earth that had been depleted of nutrients from cotton farming. He discovered over 100 uses for the sweet potato and 300 uses for the peanut. He was offered many honors and substantial wealth from patents, but he chose not to patent his discoveries because it would take too much time and benefit too few.

Frugal in finance and humble in character, Carver was undoubtedly a deeply devoted Christian. He attributed inspiration of his work to God, and his studies of nature convinced him of the existence and benevolence of the Creator.

“If I know the answer, you can have it for the price of a postage stamp. The Lord charges nothing for knowledge, and I will charge you the same.”—G. W. Carver

Renewal of a great Christian Church

I’ve been the pastor of First Saint Johns for five years now (wow, I cannot believe FIVE YEARS!) OK, I’m better now, anyway, First Saint Johns really is a great, old downtown, almost cathedral. A place where God is truly glorified and has been for 140 years. It is also the focus on a “Renewal” effort, in order to rebuild a great temple to God.
Due to that I have done a lot of study and experimenting and while this is a message to someone else who is helping on this, I thought I would share this with the blogosphere.
While it might look like First St Johns has been a stuffy, tradition bound church, actually First St Johns “traditions” have been changed considerably in the last five years. While you might assume it has always been a liturgical type of worship, when I started there it was much more a kind of “folksy” as it were, contemporary, really wasn’t feast or fowl. I did not come to First St Johns with an agenda for liturgical worship, but the more I studied and also interacted with other ministries I felt that this is the way we should go. There was a lot of study and thought that went into this, there were no snap decisions and has been handled in a pretty subtle way, partly so that I could learn to do this better (and yea, I have a ways to go). Liturgical worship is not part of my experience, I did not grow up in any particular Christian tradition and my first years were in the United Methodist Church, so it’s not based on an agenda, but in terms of how are we best serving. I certainly could be doing some things in an unconventional way, but there again, I think the repetition of liturgical worship is built in to the worship in order to reinforce the point of the worship for the day. I would agree worship may appear to have a lot “stuffed” in and I’m not sure that’s the best way to go, but I really think a little overkill is more effective and I think it is effective in terms of overcoming years of downplaying Scripture in the church.
There is the issue in terms of using unfamiliar language, I’m not trying to intimidate, with liturgical language. But I think for too long the church has not challenged people, that it has made it easy and not made it something that was something important and God’s glory but that was supposed to be easy and therefore not even worth trying to understand.
I’ve done a couple of worship services, and planning to do it again, that walks through the service and explaining what it was about and why it’s done, something I try to stress for new members also. I really don’t think it’s an issue of “alienating” as much as including people in something that they should come to recognize as something so much bigger, more meaningful, that God does really change lives, His ways are not our ways, be a part of something that is God’s and not something that the church is, again, doing to lower itself into the world, but to raise God’s children above the world.
As I said in my sermon yesterday, worship in a more ancient manner ties us to the ancient church and also as a common factor with Christians around the world. I have seen a lot of current research that finds a desire in people, who, living in a period of such fragility, that we’re in, failure of institutions around us, the desire is for something that is stable, that has survived the centuries, that reaches to a massive number of Christians. Something that is solid, has stood the test of time and will move into the future.
The more we build that, establish that and project that, the more people will realize what they are not getting in their lives right now. During the Pentecost period, we do, mix things up a little. But during the high seasons, I want to emphasize the sacredness of those times and remind people of the important points of Christianity.
The reason why I resist a lot of praise songs is that the emphasis is changed from Jesus to the individual. One of the members of the congregation made an interesting observation (and I’m not really sure he supports liturgical worship), but he said that he’s always counted the number of personal pronouns in “praise music” and the I, me, mine always seem to dominate praise music. Hymns were written to be another way to convey the message of that day’s topic, too much praise music sounds nice, but there seems to be either little teaching or rather superficial teaching. I would very much like to do more with praise music. We’ve been trying to get a First Friday function ramped up to showcase Christian praise, I’d like to do other times of praise music, Erin Bode was at First St Johns a couple of years ago for an evening event. Believe me I love contemporary Christian music music, I have an extensive personal collection.
But it also raises another issue what you and I think of as contemporary Michael Smith, Amy Grant, Michael Card, and what older members think of, Gaither Band, is not what people today think of as contemporary “King and Country” “David Crowder” Modisha, which I also happen to like, but I’m sure you can see that kind of music would not go over big with the majority of people in the congregation. Gaither Band, would not be a big hit with younger members. I really am interested in any suggestions and if it really comes to pass that it would be doable to do a separate contemporary I would certainly consider it.
My reluctance there would be something that other churches have found in doing separate services for awhile, is that it tends to separate the congregation, segment it, instead of bring it together. We may not be able to avoid that since I would very much like to implement a separate Spanish speaking worship, but I honestly believe that at this point, more liturgical worship is what younger people are looking for in terms of stability and other factors that I could go into and would actually unite everyone in one method, vs, doing something that would be more pleasing to one group and would not speak to any other groups.
While I realize that these conclusions are not going to generate a whiz bang. upturn, I do believe that it has stabilized the congregation and given it something that can be shared by everyone and they can bring something that is rather unique into the world as a whole.
One other factor for me is this, I really do have to pick a lane with this church. We have been enormously blessed, and we are in relatively good shape, but we do need to stabilize on a common ground and take that into the world and trust that God is going to use this unified outreach and bless it to His glory and grow His church at First St Johns

More devolved or further away from God?

Someone responded to a post of mine, which was critical of evolution. I grew up mindlessly accepting the secular gospel, that evolution is just a given, a scientific fact and did not give it another thought. The writer/respondent wondered if instead of “evolving”, we were really “devolving”. In some ways man has, in some sense, become better. But in so many ways, the things that are truly important, we have become more depraved, more alienated, more fixated on the true object of our affection, that being “me, myself and I”.

Obviously evolution is a rather pitiful attempt to deny God and to create some kind of phoney paradigm where, given enough time over “millions and millions of years”, that somehow, completely by chance, an incredibly sophisticated environment, would create incredibly sophisticated beings, all by complete chance. (Unless of course you believe the outside of the evolution fringe which tries to convince us aliens came here and started the human race, if not the entire ecosphere. That of course begs the question how aliens came about, but the evolution fringe element really doesn’t go that far, and frankly doesn’t seem to think that deeply.) Most real scientists today are rejecting Darwinian evolution and are growing in their perception of a design of the universe that is more and more incredibly complicated. The idea that says that this happened all by accident is becoming more and more discredited.

I am certainly not anti-intellectual, but those who pose as “intellectuals”, seem to more and more be anti-intellectual. There seems to be this element that thinks that education is more of an indoctrination, a learning of essential facts in order to continue to maintain the status quo, instead of what true science is, which is to continue to question, There is not supposed to be a science orthodoxy, a faith system that dictates that these are “facts” and not to be disputed. But there certainly is a scientism faith system. At least a deistic system (like Christianity)provides for some kind of tangible reality of creation. But the evolution, fringe element, moves even more to the fantastic, when it’s high priest, if not Pope, Stephen Hawking decides ex cathedra, that obviously there has always been gravity and that is what continues to pull the universe together and kicks off the whole “Big Bang”. I’m not opposed to the “Big Bang”, if God chose to use that as His method of kicking off the universe great! What better way than in an incredible flash of light that rocketed out from a tiny bit of mass. But to say that it was somehow always present and self- perpetuating is a faith system that demands a great deal more faith than God the Father of our Lord Jesus, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

God created us to be perfect, we, represented by Adam, decided, that what He did wasn’t good enough, we wanted more and basically Adam waved God off and said, no it’s all about me and what I want. That is the break in our relationship with God. From there sin did and continues to break us down, drive us further from Him, because more and more it’s all about us. So yes, we are “devolvoing” in the sense that we are moving farther away from God and making ourselves an idol. The farther we are from the Father, the more it’s about us, the more debased we become and yes, more like a “survival of the fittest” versus the love for the Father being projected on all those around us and from us to everyone else. The whole evolution argument is about us justifying that it’s about us and that God doesn’t matter. We find out who does, because the farther we are away from Him, the more debased, sinful we become the less human and compassionate and more about me. We can either realize how far we’ve fallen and strive for reality of Jesus. Or we can keep tanking and wonder why things have become more evil.

Our God is very much a living God, to quote the Newsboys “God’s not dead He’s surely alive, He’s living on the inside, roaring like a lion”. He roars to give us the integrity, courage, strength to live a life that truly worships and strives to serve a completely holy, perfect, sanctified God. He made all creation so that we could live as very complicated beings in an environment that supports us. We continue the intellectual challenge of understanding His creation and also Him, in order that we might grow to be more like Him, and not to be about what it is that I want, what I decide is important. When we grow towards God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit we don’t “evolve”, but we become more like Christ. That’s our true goal, we’re not going to evolve that way, it’s going to be about having the faith that God gives us to trust what the Holy Spirit is doing in us and to proceed out into the world in God’s will, not ours.

There is no option to God, Hell is the default setting

I really do get tired of hearing this whiney argument; “How can a “good” God send anyone to Hell?”

Frankly I think you’ve answered your own question. He is not just “good” He is perfect, perfectly holy. Holy means sanctified and also set apart. God is far above anything of man, He is perfectly good and holy.  By its very nature, perfectly holy and good cannot abide sin, will not abide sin. By definition, if we are sinful, we cannot be holy. Sin cannot make itself holy, we do not have the capability to change our nature. Certainly God does. When we are born again in baptism, we become new creatures Paul tells us this. We have been born in the righteousness of Christ and because of that we can be perfect and holy and be in the presence of the Father. Why would God allow you in His presence when you essentially reject Him when you make yourself more important than God? You’re not and you are still very much a sinner, and God will not, cannot allow you in His presence. Why should He tolerate your unrepentant sin?  If you don’t meet His standards He’s not going to allow you into His presence and the only way you can meet His standards is to be in and covered by the righteousness of Jesus. Jesus paid for all of your sins and therefore has enabled you to be saved. The Father offered this as the only way to eternal life. Anything else is just out of man’s imagination and isn’t going to do anything for anyone. You’ve just made it up, how can it be anything else?

If God’s not going to allow you in His presence there is only one alternative.  This isn’t an exact metaphor, but if you don’t buy a ticket for the plane to Hawaii, how can you expect to end up in Hawaii?  As I said there’s only one other place, that is Hell. If you chose to be separated from God this is eternal separation.

Usually it’s the person who is stuck in their sin and just doesn’t want God. But they still expect a perfectly holy God to just accept their sin and allow them to continue to do what they want. That’s just living in denial, that’s just not reality. You need to get over yourself, you are not the final authority. Not everyone is here for your convenience, that especially includes God the Father. If these other things in your life are more important, how do you figure that God is at all concerned about doing it your way?  It’s just not about you, it is entirely about God.

God has given us a way, and that is the way we need to go and put aside our wants, our sin and focus on what God wants. No we are never going to be perfect, but we do need to be in God’s will in Jesus where the Holy Spirit works on us, and not leaving it up to our own whims, as if that’s the most important thing.

A loving God doesn’t send anyone to Hell. But I get it, it’s a one-way street for you! You expect God to love and fall all over Himself for you, but you just go out and continue to run the life He gave you right into the ground, just doing whatever your little heart desires. Wow they name streets after people like you, ya “one-way”. Please explain to me how that makes any sense.

They have a saying for that in boot camp “mama may have been that way to you, but you’re mama ain’t here. For those of us who are grown ups we realize that it was nice when mama let us have our way, but now we live in a very real world.  We can live according to God’s will and live a life of strength and faith, or a delusional world of our own that ends up in destruction. Time for you to grow up and be an adult, especially you men.  Whether they want to admit it, you have a responsibility to your wife and children to live that example as a man of God. Too many wives and children are lost because of weak men, that means all those guys who think it’s about the world and themselves. Ya, you! Snap out of it and get a grip, it’s only about God, it’s only the weak willed man who thinks it’s about him or anything else.

There is no “choice” the default is to Hell. You only have yourself to blame in that situation. So get over yourself and your prissy attitude “well if God loves me, He’ll do whatever I want…”  You may have had an over indulgent mommy, but now it’s real world.  If you reject God, the default is Hell, you sent yourself.