Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Hymn About Jesus' Family

Wondrous Priv'lege to Us Granted
Suggested tune: REGENT SQUARE (  Meter: 878787.  Based on Luke 8:19-21.  Words: William Weber, 2014. (song after sermon, adoption, union with Christ, family of God, the church, incarnation, new birth/regeneration, God's love, trinity)

v. 1
Wondrous priv'lege to us granted,
if to Jesus we belong.
Into Him are we engrafted,
if His name we call upon.
Blessed to be in Jesus' fam'ly,
give Him praise in joyful song.

v. 2
Jesus is our older brother,
in His mercy came to earth.
On an errand from the Father,
to bring many sons to birth.
Blessed are we in Jesus' fam'ly,
praise the Son of matchless worth.

v. 3
Father, You in love adopted,
rebel orphans sought to bless.
We were barred from Your blessed presence,
now in Jesus, free access.
God our Father, Christ our brother,
In His fam'ly we are blessed.

D v. 4
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
love from all eternity.
Father, help your church to model,
triune love for all to see.
Through the Son and by the Spirit,
form a loving family.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Meditation on Psalm 52:1

Why do you boast of evil, O mighty man?
The steadfast love of God endures all the day. (Psalm 52:1)

I was thinking about this verse today. At first glance it appears as though the second line has nothing to do with the first. But what we have is antithetical parallelism, with the righteous man implied in the second line.

Those who boast in evil, make a foolish choice when they could be boasting in the steadfast love of God. This steadfast love will last forever, in contrast to evil, which will come to an end, either at the end of man's life or in the eschaton. In this sense, it seems that the verse pokes fun at the "mighty man," who is really not so mighty if he or she is mortal! How foolish of man, whose breath is in his nostrils (dependent on God for each breath), to consider himself mighty.

But what exactly is the "evil" in view in this verse? Based on the context of the rest of the psalm, at least two of the threefold lust of 1 John 2:15-17 are in view, namely, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.

Lust, of course, excludes us from the love of God, for which we were made. It is something we need to put to death through Jesus' death and resurrection, for if we indulge our lusts, we cannot abide in our heavenly Father's love. May the Spirit teach us how to boast and abide in the love of the triune love, which Jesus has revealed to us and enables us to participate in.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Is Lust Always Wrong?

The struggle with sexual lust is not just common to me, but I am in my 45th year of the struggle, and I've learned something new that I think is a big help.

For years I struggled with this dilemma: How can lust be wrong outside of marriage but right inside of marriage? This question always lurked in the back of my mind for years, and has given me much grief. The problem seemed insoluble. It seemed impossible to solve.

Then I began noticing verses like this:
Galatians 5:24: And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
1 John 2:15-17: Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
2 Peter 1:4: For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 
1 Peter 2:11: Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. 

The thought finally began to dawn that maybe lust in all its forms, whether for money or sex or whatever, was always wrong! Maybe there was no safe haven where lusts are ok to indulge, not even marriage!

That brought me to the words of Jesus, where I noticed he did not add the caveat, except your wife in marriage:
"You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:27-28).

A superficial reading of this verse seems to say lust is ok, because, of course, you cannot commit adultery with your own wife! But Jesus here is ruling out lust toward all women, and vice versa, by not adding the caveat that it is ok in marriage. He says this because lust is fundamentally wrong and the opposite of love. Lust is self-grasping, but love is self-giving. Lust uses the other person and turns them into an object, but love respects the other person as a subject/person, and gives.

Of course, there is much more to say on all of this (for example, how is marriage a remedy to lust if lust is not something we are to indulge?), and it doesn't end the battle with sexual lust. But it is a good first step to identify the enemy and to be clear intellectually that lust is always wrong, even in marriage. This truth will never fly in the world, but then Jesus' teaching never does in a world characterized by lust, not love.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Ultimate Concern for Christian Parents

"If there is any concern that lies close to the heart of godly parents, it is their children. And rightly so, for children are precious pledges that God will demand at the hands of parents.

"Now, if godly parents ponder this fact, the will earnestly commend their children to God in prayer before they are born, and later they will bring their children with them when they come before God. Godly parents pray in particular that God would give their children pious hearts and the Holy Spirit, who will sanctify, govern, and guide them. This is the true foundation of their happiness; compared with this, wealth, skill, and prudence are to be deemed nothing."
  --Johann Starck, from "Starck's Prayer Book"
Top of Form

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Lust and Hell

"Lust and hell can both be defined by the same five words: the 

absence of God's love. This is why lust is so serious. If God's love 

constitutes man's origin, vocation, and destiny, then lust constitutes

the antithesis of 
man's very existence." --Christopher West

Friday, August 15, 2014

Christianity-Lite in Doctrine and Worship

What we have in our time is Christian-lite. Christianity-lite avoids or soft pedals three doctrines. First, it avoids teaching about the world. In fact, most Christians today could not even define the world, as the apostle John describes it, but also Paul and Peter. Second, Christianity in our era avoids teaching the truth that following Christ makes one unpopular, leading to insults, hatred, and worse. Third, Christianity-lite soft pedals sin. Even if sin is mentioned, it is rarely preached or taught in such a way that drives us to Christ for refuge.

Christianity-lite then affects Christian worship by fostering worship-lite. We gather together but cannot be bored by Old and New Testament Scripture readings or congregational prayers that have characterized the historic Christian liturgy. All Christianity-lite tolerates is lots of singing, something Jesus and his disciples are recorded to have done only once. Even then our songs can only be happy, and must be sparse with regard to biblical truth.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

"Act as If the Tomb Already Enclosed You"

"Alms and faith must not leave you.  

Remember that every day death is near, 
and act as if the tomb already enclosed you.

Do not care for this world,
since anxiety for the world and 
the desire for riches are
thorns that choke the good seed." 

--Paschasius of Dumium

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