Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Gospel

It's the end of an old month and the beginning of a new one.  That means that I'll be reading all the articles in Tabletalk back to back. 

June's issue is about Evangelism.  So far, my favorite articles are by Robert Godfrey and Ed Stetzer.  Godfrey describes what the Gospel is and does to people and in the end, we find out that the Gospel is none other than Jesus.

On those lines, Ed Stetzer refutes the phrase, "Preach the Gospel and if necessary use words."  He says to use words because they are necessary.  Francis never said that line and probably would not have believed it.  Romans 10:17 is clear that you need to preach words to awaken hearts to the Lord.  And once again, he explains how it is good to let your actions match your words, but too many use the word Gospel like it's a verb.  Gospel one another.  When really, this Gospel is none other than Jesus and what he did for us.  What he still does for us.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Alarm

Charles Spurgeon delivered this sermon, the Alarm, sermon 996, and mostly, no matter what he says, I always feel so much happier after reading Charles Spurgeon.

This sermon had good points but I think it was kind of extreme.  Spurgeon, like so many evangelicals, seems to think we can only truly love God if we react to him in church as if we were at a football game with our team winning.

I kind of agree because God does win, and we must be so excited that we can't hold it in.  Still Spurgeon only understands extroverted reactions.  When I show my love for anyone or anything it's usually not jumping up and down and hollering.  I usually reflect that when I just sit and bask in the goodness of God.  I'm savoring the moment and feel so happy when that happens. 

But whether introverted or extroverted, all those who claim Christs name need to enthusiastically share their love with the world.  We are not to be asleep in the pews or stuck in some ivory tower.  Christ is to be praised as we declare to the world what he has done for us.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Breaking Peter

This is based on last week's article in Tabletalk called "Broken but Remade."  It was so wonderful because it went right along with the lesson I taught in Children's Church: the account of Jesus forgiving Peter after he had risen from the dead.

Harry Reeder's article is about the many times Jesus broke and remade Peter.  The first is when Peter had been fishing all night.  He was worn out, but Jesus asked him for some fish.  Begrudgingly, Peter sent in his net which was so full that the boat almost sank.  Instead of swelling with pride, Peter bowed in worship to Jesus saying, "I am a sinful man." 

2. Jesus walked on water.  Peter wanted to try it.  Peter did try it, but then the storm picked up and he started getting scared.  He took his eyes off of Jesus and then he sank.  Jesus declared, "You of little faith."  Again, Peter was broken.

3. Then there's the time at Caesarea Philippi where Jesus asked his disciples who he was, who do they say that he is?  Peter got the answer with "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."  Jesus gives him a pat on the back and explains that he only got that answer because of the Holy Spirit.  That didn't faze Peter just yet.  Jesus then started to talk about his crucifixion, and Peter decides to rebuke Christ.  Christ has to call him Satan to make him realize that his role as Christ is to die on a cross to take the punishment that all believers deserve.

4.  Finally, Peter declares that he will follow Christ to the death.  Christ declares that Peter will deny him three times before sunrise.  Guess what?  Peter denies him three times.  Now, Jesus is alive again and appears to the disciples on a beach and tells them to fish again.  After another boat-breaking catch, Peter jumps into the water with his clothes on and swims to the shore.  After breakfast, Jesus asks Peter 3 times if he loves him.  The third time, Peter is ashamed because he had denied Christ three times.  He let Christ down.  But Christ still uses him to gather the church together and get Christendom started at Pentecost.  And Peter finally believes enough to not sacrifice his salvation to save his skin, but eventually gets crucified upside-down for Christ.

Have I ever been broken and remade?  If so, do I still work to save my own skin, or am I willing to face shame for my belief in Christ, that salvation is by him alone?  I am broken.  I just look to the Lord for my remaking.

Friday, May 25, 2012


So, my brother graduated high school today.  I got to drag him across the stage wearing my seminary cap and gown.  It was so nice to wear the Geneva robe again today despite the Georgia heat.

I can't believe that I got dissent for wearing the blue hood with Erskine's colors which are the same as Salem High School's.  I got inside the school, and no one even noticed.  In fact, all the teachers had their masters degree outfits and I looked so much like the kids who had Beta Club stoles.

But I walked with pride on the football field showing the world that I am older than 19 and older than Andrew, though much shorter.  And I still don't understand why John Mayer would want to run through the halls of his high school.  I never want to be back in that place.  However, I would like to be back at Erskine.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Redoing worship

I would really like to start leading worship in church again.  I want to get away from 7/11 songs you could sing to your boyfriend and sing songs with real theology and verses and chorus.

Therefore, I'm attempting to put together another song index for my computer of good songs.  Songs with meaning.

You can see a song here:

There's this band I like called the Autumn Film.  Here is one of their songs:

Turns out their band is comprised of Christians who do hymns under the name Page CXVI.  How cool is that?  It made me love this band much better.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


I need to thank God again.

I'm thankful for my church family.

I'm thankful for the other churches that I visit.

I'm thankful that I have a team for Children's Church prep now and not just me.

Thank God for God.

Thankful for friends of friends.

Thankful for disagreements though they are painful.  They help lead to solutions.

Still very much thankful for my cats.  I moved their litter box to the bathroom and keep the door open and they still stay upstairs and love on me.

I'll be more thankful when they discover that the litter box is not in that corner anymore, but till then, I'm thankful my friend suggested some kind of mat.  Let's see if the newspaper works.

Thankful for my brother's caretaker and my housemate Mary.  She helps so much and keeps me informed on the goings-on in my church.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Hiddenness of God

The other day I was on Ligonier and I read about The Hiddeness of God.  I thought it was a really encouraging article and fairly non-controversial about how Christians should not be discouraged when the world hates them, but to find security in your identity in Christ.  I posted it on Facebook

So commenters thought I was obviously meaning that we should keep our Gospel a secret and not reach out to the world.  Or to not love as Christ loved.  Those arguments have nothing to do with the article.  But if you try to explain, words fail.

But then, I think, I don't mean to brag, but a majority of my week is spend reaching out to the community through both Refuge Pregnancy Center and now Project Renewal.  Oh, and Shepherd's Staff even though I'm more a spectator there.

But the pregnancy counseling is proof that you can tell people what they need to do until you are blue in the face, and they will still come in again, pregnant again, and even having had an abortion.  Do I hate these people?  No.  My heart aches for them.  But unless the Holy Spirit moves, you can't change the people.  You must not let that discourage you.

This goes for the rest of life, too.  You just keep doing things for people and rely on the Lord to change hearts and if you don't see results, rest knowing that you obeyed God and that you have your identity in him.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tabletalk gleanings

This post won't be long.  I'm still rejoicing over last week's interpretation of communion doctrine.  Jesus really is inside us during communion, but he brings us to him.

This week, they mused over Christ's return and session at the right hand of God.  This means that when Jesus ascended to heaven, he began his rule of the world immediately.  He's not waiting for the right moment to build a Jewish kingdom on earth.  We Christians are the completed Israel and he rules over us now. 

I'm just ready for him to come back and completely erase evil.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Dogwood

I sat staring at a dogwood.

It was in the monastery abbey, their Easter display, and it looked like it was suspended in mid-air.

Later I looked and it was simply wedged between a column's crease.

If you were Moses, you would probably get up to look at it.  It's not on fire but it's hanging from what looks like nothing.

As I kept looking, God reminded me that Moses was 80 years old when God called him to lead Israel.  That was relatively young back then, but it's still a long time.

Then there's Paul.  Jesus saved him on the road to Damascus, and he then trained for 3 years and spent some time in Arabia.  It was 15 YEARS before Paul started his first missionary journey.

This is encouraging for young ministers who still live at home, see really slow progress in their students' learning, and sometimes don't even really feel like they run the youth program.

Moses was 80, and Paul waited 15 years before he started doing something major.  If you feel like your ministry is at a snail's pace, just think of those guys and praise the Lord that you don't drink from a fire hose.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Resurrection and the Life

Teen Sunday School went good.  I was the only teacher yesterday, and I had my two kids and taught them about Lazarus.

We read the first 11 verses of chapter 11, and I was taken aback by how Jesus acted.  It was quite odd.  If your best friend was sick and you had the power to heal him, what would you do?  You'd probably go heal him.  But Jesus waited two more days and even told his disciples, "I'm glad I was not there." (v 15)

It's one of my favorite passages in the Bible, but I'm still in awe of God's methods.  The disciples didn't know what he was doing, but Jesus had a plan that would lead to his greater glory.  How about us?  What if something happens that really makes us mad at God?  Do we get mad and give up?  Do we doubt?  I have doubted, but Mary and Martha and all the disciples did the right thing.  They still followed Jesus, even if it meant death, and they took their frustrations to him for him to sort out. 

Things have happened in my life, and Jesus still hasn't raised anybody that I know is dead, but I could not sleep at night not knowing that God has a greater plan around all that happens and that he knew every action I'd take before he created the world.  He will work it out somehow.  He is the Resurrection and the Life.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Mystical Union

I get more and more amazed at the theology behind the Holy Eucharist.  I knew a little of the Real Presence, that like the Catholics, the Presbyterians believe that Christ really is present in the sacraments. 

Now I have read Calvin's theology on it as told by R.C. Sproul.

First, I will cite Romans 10:5-8

Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: “The man who does these things will live by them.” But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming.

From quoting Deuteronomy, Paul notes that we cannot bring Christ down to our level.  We cannot raise him from the dead either.  Christ does all that on his own initiative.

Monday's Tabletalk discussed how Christ is in heaven yet all around us.  "According to the hypostatic union, Christ is both truly human and truly divine."

Then, people got confused about how he can be both.  So they had the Council of Chalcedon.  They discovered that "In the one person of Jesus, these two natures are perfectly united without mixture, confusion, separation, or division and each nature retains its own peculiar properties."

So Jesus the human had a body that was a real human body.  It could only be in one place at one time.  Jesus as God the Son is divine and can be in all places at once.  If his body is one place, his divine nature can be everywhere.  "Jesus's divine nature makes him always present with us...Thurs we can commune with him wherever we are."

This is in discussing the ascension.  Jesus had been with his disciples 40 days and then he rose to heaven in sight of all his disciples.  Therefore, his body is in heaven and stays on the throne in one place where he rules the world.  Here is the Coram Deo from Monday, "Since Jesus has a human body with all its limitations, it does not become omnipresent and distributed around the world in the elements.  Instead, as John Calvin explained, we are raised to heaven, where we feed on the whole Christ in his humanity and in his deity."  

So, the way Calvin has it systematized, in communion, Christ's body is not coming down in the bread and wine for us to taste.  Instead, he transports the souls of the true believers up to heaven where we can feast on both his body and his spirit.  This is mind boggling, and I am so glad I finally understand where Presbyterians stand on Real Presence.  It's so much better because Christ is completely alive, we are with him, and we are enjoying a kiss with him while still on earth.  We Protestants really do fail when we don't celebrate communion every week.  We don't get the full weekly dose of heaven.  Again, I'm so glad that God overrides our folly. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Another Paedo-Baptist Post

I was talking to one of my mothers who I have not talked to in a while.  She still goes to my old church even though she is going to see if they decide to leave the PCUSA before she goes somewhere else.  And if the current pastor will leave if that happens.  We pined over the good ole days when Smyrna actually screened their employees and before they canonized saints.  Then I talked about other Reformed Churches in the area.  I said, I'm so glad I'm not like other denominations and that I'm Presbyterian, pretending I'm that Pharisee in Jesus's parable.

Then she said, "the only thing I just don't like is infant baptism."  She had been Baptist most of her life.  She thinks it is more meaningful if kids remember their baptism.  I remember neither my baptism nor my conversion.  I remember dedicating my life to the Lord in middle school, but there's not a time when I remember not believing in God.  However, I do remember confirmation class where Martha taught us the book of John.  And I relive my own baptism every time someone else gets baptized.  It's like I can feel him or her entering the covenant community that is for both believers and their children.

Folks forget that this is how we baptized people for 1500 years.  Families were considered as a unit, not as individuals.  If the head of the house believed, then that made the rest of the members holy and they could all be baptized. (1 Corinthians 7:14) The Philippian jailer and his household.  Lydia and her household.  One bad byproduct of the reformation, besides the visible church falling apart (the invisible church never can fall apart) is people going so far to not be Catholic that they started insisting on individual rights and preferences instead of seeing how God wants all Christians to live as a covenant community on earth where if kids are not baptized they were cut off from God's mark.  Just like when kids weren't circumcised in the Old Testament, they weren't considered visible Israel.  You need to be in a visible church to be truly a Christian and you need to be marked by baptism, a circumcision without hands, from birth.  The Bible says nothing about an age of accountability.  Even if there was one, people these days drop the ball by baptizing their kids yet doing nothing to train them in the faith at home.  Or sometimes unwed mothers will baptize their kids without showing any repentance.  All denominations do the sacraments so wrong these days.

But praise God, he can override our mistakes and keep the invisible church together no matter what they argue over.

Your Head Asplode

I saw this short video on facebook and thought I would share it.

And this was on the internet.  Not on Answers in Genesis.  Not on Ligonier.  Just cool and simple logic.  Only the fool says in his heart there is no God.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Here is an article about introversion that fascinated me.  Top 5 Things Introverts Dread about Church.  It was one of those articles that made me scratch my head.  Am I really as introverted as I think I am or am I just used to this from being in church my whole life?

5. “Welcome! Shake a hand, give a hug, share a name!”

It is kind of awkward, even in small churches, but ours at Trinity is actually long enough to get some good conversation in.  I get to group hug all my kids and hug a few others.  It's not as bad as when I normally go to something social and I hide in a corner eating somethingUsually between Sunday School and worship I just pace because I can't think of things to say to people.

4. “Chelsey, what do you think?”

Chelsey wrote the article on introversion.  I'm not Chelsey but I've been asked that.  Even worse, I now do that to people.  It does render me like a deer in the headlights but it's nice that someone cared enough to get my attention.  I honestly don't mind this one.

3. “Let’s get into groups and pray aloud and/or tell each other our deepest, darkest struggles.”

I actually love this!  This one really made me wonder if I'm still introverted.  I love sharing my feelings and I don't like to keep secrets with the world.  What you see is what you get.  I don't share every gory detail anymore, but it's good for the kids to know their youth pastor struggles too or has fun outside of church with friends. 

2. Spontaneous Public Prayer

Okay, I do hate this one, also known has Popcorn Prayer.  Random people pray in no particular order extemporaneously, and I'm in a daze wondering if I should say something or if I speak will it be at the same time other people speak.  Will I be interrupted because I mumble and someone can't hear me?  As a church leader I do pray publicly, but it's usually orderly and I've prepped myself mentally.  Or I'm asked to pray at a meal and I just pray like I normally pray by myself.  Conversing with God.  But, I'm still jittery about praying out loud.

1. ”You should be more…”

Wow, I can't believe people actually say this to introverts.  It's never been told me.  Oh wait, I did say that to another introvert who was being reclusive.  It's bad to be an introvert and not understand other introverts.

And I still say I'm introverted as I still sit in a corner eating at social events and clamming up.  But I am more extroverted than most introverts.  I love people.  I love parties.  I love reading alone.  And I try hard not to use my awkwardness as a reason to neglect the people in my life.

Earth is not that old

Normally RC Sproul is in agreement with Answers in Genesis on the issues of evolution.  He's a strong apologist for the inerrancy of Scripture against folks who follow the Documentary Hypothesis and the Jesus Seminar.  He has a wonderful video series on Ligonier about the Isms of the 20th century.

I was kind of disappointed in his answer to a question about the age of the universe.  It's like to make peace in 5 minutes he gave an answer that would please everyone, probably not pleasing anybody.  I wasn't pleased.  I mean, theologians do interpret Scripture wrong sometimes, or all the time, but probably because they compromise with non-believing scientists who will not believe despite the coolest of logic.  Nobody ever questioned the earth being more than 4000 years old until the uniformitarians took over the paradigm in the 19th century. 

These people don't want to believe that a holy God will wipe out a whole planet of sinful people with a flood, leaving only 8 people alive.  So they erase the Flood story as a myth and then have to exercise their creativity to explain why the earth looks so old with science experiments that can never properly test the age of something when the tester does not know how it started.

But people want to believe they are better than they are and that God is so much kinder than he is, and so they must decide that the uncomfortable parts of the Bible must be reinterpreted.  This is why we have so much easy believism these days.

Thankfully, realizing that 5 minutes is not long enough to properly defend a young earth, the same video linked to the next best guy to defend a literal understanding of Genesis.  Second to Ken Ham, here is Al Mohler.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Three Stooges

I'm seriously thinking about going to see the new movie of the Three Stooges tomorrow.  It all started tonight when I went to see the Avengers with some friends, and it was sold out.  I thought since I didn't get to see a movie tonight, maybe I'll see a less popular movie by myself tomorrow when Dad has my brother.  I have no other plans other than possibly singing with the monks in their vespers tomorrow evening. 

I find it hard to understand that women wouldn't like the Three Stooges.  Kind of like Monty Python, there's usually a gender gap.  But I've loved them my whole life, my mom loved them, my brother's caretaker Mary likes them, but Dad goes off to see it with his girlfriend and announces to Facebook that women don't like the Three Stooges.  I've been in pain laughing at them so hard.  I think girls more my age like them.  Maybe ladies just aren't as lady-like any more.  But the Three Stooges movie is rated PG, and the Farrely brothers made it.  They can have some suggestive and crass movies like Dumb and Dumber, but Shallow Hal was a sweet movie, and I've seen other movies of them that were sweet.  And this one is rated PG.  I wonder how much garbage people cram into PG movies these days to impress the kids.  All I know is this would appeal to more my generation than to kids.

I guess I'll see what happens.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

On Controversy: more babbleworthy post

This month’s Tabletalk magazine focuses on something I’m good at: controversy.  What I fail at however, is controversy to God’s glory, not so much my right answers.

First, Al Mohler notes that we need to call out heresy sometimes.  “The only way to avoid all controversy would be to consider nothing we believe important enough to defend and no truth too costly to compromise.”  At some point, we do need to defend our faith and the risk of losing friends.

The next four articles focus on a letter written by the hymn-writer, John Newton, called On Controversy.  Keith Mathison remarks how new Calvinists should be in a “cage stage” or simply locked in a cage until he stops being argumentative, when his conversations no longer degenerate into the “moral equivalent of the World Wrestling Federation.”  What mature believers should do is to consider whether the person in need of correcting is a believer or not.  Then we start by simply praying for him and to give him God’s teaching from Scripture, not your own opinion.

Robert Rothwell then advises to consider the people who will see your differences with the world.  Will they confuse meekness, humility, and love with never standing up for oneself?  We need to argue from God’s Word and not our own authority.

Then, Burk Parsons exhorts us to consider ourselves.  Are you engaging in controversy to be right, or are you trying to preserve the peace and unity of the church?

Ultimately, Sinclair Ferguson asks if we are arguing for God’s glory.  For myself, I need to pray at least one day before I decide to post some controversy on Facebook, and many times I don’t need to say anything.  I just need to share what God teaches in the Bible.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Lonely Nation

I start back on my Switchfoot blogging by just posting individual songs.  Today, is the first time I read Jon Foreman's meaning behind the song:

"Desperate times call for desperate measures. Over the course our time on the road as a band I have met so many amazing, beautiful, desperate, lonely people. We are the lonely nation. We are the disenchanted, the disillusioned- we are the remnant of lonely souls wanting more than anything that we can buy with this cold, hard cash. I wrote this song while we were playing a stretch of rock radio shows. I'd walk around near the back and just breathe in the loneliness- masses of lonely, scared kids. I remember thinking about the irony. Here you have this connected generation of online communities, IM, TM, myspace, and cell phones that grows more and more lonely every day. This is a song is still yearning, saying, "Don't settle, please, don't give up. Fight for only the true and the beautiful!"

How true this is!  When this Switchfoot CD came out in 2005, I was still mad at Switchfoot for going secular and hiding their religion.  It was also a year when many people were angry with George W. Bush for the war, making me angry with them.  I thought this song was about that.  I'm sure some of the other songs are about that.  At this point, however, Switchfoot is the only band who really knows what I go through.

I have a wonderful laptop with Facebook, Blogger, YouTube, and now Skype.  I can even e-mail.  I'm so lonely despite being connected to the world.  Maybe it's because now I put all my eggs in one basket and try to find fulfillment in my work, my friends, my church, when all of those are idols.  None of those are God.  This is why they don't satisfy, and this is why I'm lonely as I'm stuck on my couch.  Other people love the internet addiction, but it's enough that bloggers blog about that, on the internet.

The solution is to take my worries and concerns to God and find my identity in him.  If I get bogged down with work on the computer, I may need to get up and walk.  If I get bogged down over one person, I need to remember to call other people because there are other people.  If I get bogged down in some guy, I probably need to take a walk, and again call somebody else or just write it down in a journal and see how God will handle this.  My identity is in Christ, and for that reason, I don't need to be in this lonely nation.

Z is for Zip Line

So, I leaked into May.  Fine with me.  I decided to end with a zip line.  I've been on a junior version at Corn Dawgs where my feet even touched the ground.  I can't stay on the line any better than I can stay on monkey bars.  So with a new twist on an old cliche, I tells ya that life is like a zip line.  Not a roller coaster, but a zip line.

You are holding onto these handle bars, suspended over an abyss.  You cannot let go.  You need to get from one end of life to another.  Can you keep holding onto the bars?  At this point, I still can't tell where my handle bars will take me: whether I stay at Trinity, move somewhere or do something else.  Will I even survive to age 50?  I know I cannot hold onto the handle.  Thankfully, I have harness.  His name is Jesus.  He sends me the Holy Spirit to guide me through my decisions and so that I can directly communicate with my creator, and he strung up the line in the first place.  I just need to enjoy the ride.