I've reached the end of November's Tabletalk. It has been wonderful going through deep covenant theology and tracing God's plan to send Jesus through all of history. The magazine ends with 4 articles.
The first is by J.D. Greear, "Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart." He recalls growing up and always going forward at the altar calls at youth camps just in case he had done something to fall out of favor with God. Later on, when he received real theology, he realized that he just needed to rest in the finished work of Christ. Most revivals will teach you that there is something you need to do to move forward with God. Christ says that he's done it all. All we do is repent before God and have faith that Christ did it perfectly and will lead us to all perfection.
"Ordinary Means" by Michael G. Brown. It seems today that "ordinary" is a bad word. People want the next big thing and to make names for themselves. This translates into how we do church. "In a world that values novelty, innovation, and relevance, the expectation is for pastors to appear hip, worship to feel amazing, and teaching to be useful for our most recent news feed of felt needs." We forget that we need to present church the way Christ told us to in Matthew 28:18-20. Our Head told us to make disciples of nations and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This involves teaching them what he has taught in his Word and administering the sacraments as constant visible reminders of God's grace in sending Jesus.
There is room for guitars and videos, but mostly, the church is supposed to be ordinary and to be faithful to what God has established. They must not go beyond preaching the Word, singing the Word, or eating the Word.
There was an interview with R.C. Sproul, Jr. Tabletalk asked him about how he became a Christian, received his call into ministry, and how he started Highlands Ministries and fights to save the unborn and their mothers from abortion. Highlands ministries was started as "an attempt to help Christians deal with the perennial and pervasive problem of worldliness in our lives." Instead of falling back into the world's pattern of earning money and climbing the corporate ladder, Christians have to constantly remind themselves of their identities in Christ. They must make "every thought captive" to their wonderful Lord.
He gives such a passionate plea for Christians to actually go to the abortion clinics and persuade the women to choose life. I have not done that and can't imagine myself doing it, but I do hope God will make me bold enough for that some day. Either way, Christians need to go because 1) abortion won't end until our hearts are genuinely broken. This won't happen until we see the scared women who desperately want to have a living child being led because it is inconvenient for their husbands or boyfriends to take responsibility for their sexual actions.
2) The abortion mills are the very gates of hell and that is where the Spirit moves in power. Women who are contemplating murdering their children or who have already done so are very aware of their sin and their guilt. It is the perfect time to lead them to Jesus and to his infinite and satisfying love.
3) True religion is visiting orphans and widows in their trouble. Who can be more widowed than a woman being led by the man who pretends to love her to murder her baby? Who can be more orphaned than the one who has been put to death by his or her parents?
"Catechisms for the Imagination" by N.D. Wilson. This is about like the article in last month's issue about imagination by Tony Reinke. People in America are driven by stories. We spend billions of dollars on movies, books, plays, and entertainment. Stories are fun and that is all that people desire. Fiction novels take young people out of reality and have them fighting evil and finding romance. The author himself attests to characters who are fixed and unchanging. He looks up to Faramir in Lord of the Rings far more than he looks to real men who he admired and who have disappointed him.
Stories create affection, fear, joy, love, hate, and relief. They are catechisms for the emotions and imaginations. They mold instincts and form judgments.
Stories are dangerous, and that isn't a bad thing. Let us lead our young people to be led by stories that lead to light and joy, and not ones that lead to dependence on a sparkly vampire boyfriend or a young lady led to a gladiator fight who eventually loses her nobility in the carnage.
"Establish their tastes in truth with stories that will root their instincts and loyalties in goodness and beauty."