Memorial Day

From Kevin DeYoung–

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, was instituted to honor Union soldiers who died in the Civil War. After World War I, the purpose of the day was expanded to include all men and women who died in U.S. military service. Today, Memorial Day is mainly thought of as the unofficial start of summer–a long weekend with a car race, playoff basketball, and brats and burgers on the grill.

It is always tricky to know how the church should or shouldn’t celebrate patriotic holidays. Certainly, some churches blend church and state in such a way that the kingdom of God morphs into a doctrinally-thin, spiritually nebulous civil religion. But even with this dangers, there are a number of good reasons why Christians should give thanks for Memorial Day.

1. Being a soldier is not a sub-Christian activity. In Luke 3, John the Baptist warns the people to bear fruit in keeping with repentance. The crowds respond favorably to his message and ask him, “What then shall we do?” John tells the rich man to share his tunics, the tax collectors to collect only what belongs to them, and the soldiers to stop their extortion. If ever there was a time to tell the soldiers that true repentance meant resigning from the army, surely this was the time. And yet, John does not tell them that they must give up soldier-work to bear fruit, only that they need to be honest soldiers. The Centurion is even held up by Jesus as the best example of faith he’s seen in Israel (Luke 7:9). Military service, when executed with integrity and in the Spirit of God, is a suitable vocation for the people of God.

2. The life of a soldier can demonstrate the highest Christian virtues. While it’s true that our movies sometimes go too far in glamorizing war, this is only the case because there have been many heroics acts in the history of war suitable for our admiration. Soldiers in battle are called on to show courage, daring, service, shrewdness, endurance, hard work, faith, and obedience. These virtues fall into the “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just” category that deserve our praise (Philippians 4:8).

3. Military service is one of the most common metaphors in the New Testament to describe the Christian life. We are to fight the good fight, put on the armor of God, and serve as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. When we remember the sacrifice, single-minded dedication, and discipline involved in the life of a soldier, we are calling to mind what we are supposed to be like as Christians in service to Christ.

4. Love of country can be a good thing. As Christians we have dual citizenship. Our first and ultimate allegiance must always be to Christ whose heavenly dwelling is our eternal home. But we are also citizens of an earthly country. We will stand before God not as individuals wiped clean of all earthly nationality, but as people with distinct languages, cultural affinities, and homelands. It is not wrong to love our distinct language, culture, or nationality. Whenever I’m at a ball game I still get choked up during the singing of the National Anthem. I think this is good. Love for God does not mean we love nothing else on earth, but rather that we learn to love the things on earth in the right way and with the right proportions and priorities. Love of country is a good thing, and it is right to honor those who defend the principles that make our country good.

5. This may be controversial to some, but I believe the facts of history will demonstrate that on the whole, the United States military has been a force for good in the world. Obviously, as a military power, we have blundered at times, both individually and corporately. But on the whole, the men and women of our armed services have fought and are fighting for causes that promote freedom, defend the rights of human beings, and reject tyranny. War is still hell and a tragic result of the fall. Praise God for his promise to one day end all human conflict. But in a world where people are evil by nature and leaders are not always reasonable and countries do not always have good intentions, war is sometimes the way to peace–at least the best peace we can hope for between peoples and nations this side of heaven.

So thank God for a day to remember God’s common grace to America and his special grace in enlisting us, poor weak soldiers that we are, in service to Christ our Captain and conquering King.

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Catechism Friday

Here are the next questions and answers from the Heidelberg Catechism for us to meditate and ponder on over the weekend.  May we consider our depravity and guilt before God and rejoice in what Christ has accomplished for us.

Q 3: From where do you know your misery?

A. From the Law of God.[1]

[1] Rom 3:207:7

Q 4: What does the Law of God require of us?

A. Christ teaches us that briefly in Matthew 22:37-40: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.[1] This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.[2] On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”[3]

[1] Deut 6:5; [2] Lev 19:18Gal 5:14; [3] Lk 10:27

Q 5: Can you keep all these things perfectly?

A. In no way,[1] for I am prone by nature to hate God and my neighbor.[2]

[1] Rom 3:10-12231 Jn 1:810; [2] Gen 6:58:21Jer 17:9Rom 7:238:7Eph 2:3Tit 2:3

Assurance!

Here  is a great little article on assurance of salvation.  So many claim to be saved but lack the grounds necessary for assurance.  Kevin DeYoung lists three signs from 1 John that would indicate that God has performed the work of regeneration in a heart.  Many claim to believe in Christ but then neither have holy lives or love for the brethren.  THE CONTINUED PRESENCE OF ALL THREE SIGNS would indicate salvation.  Here is the article:

Whenever counseling Christians looking for assurance of salvation, I take them to 1 John. This brief epistle is full of help for determining whether we are in the faith or not. In particular, there are three signs in 1 John given to us so we can answer the question “Do I have confidence or condemnation?”

The first sign is theological. You should have confidence if you believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God (5:11-13).  John doesn’t want people to be doubting.  God wants you to have assurance, to know that you have eternal life.  And this is the first sign, that you believe in Jesus.  You believe he is the Christ or the Messiah (2:22).  You believe he is the Son of God (5:10).  And you believe that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh (4:2).  So if you get your theology wrong about Jesus you will not have eternal life.  But one of the signs that should give you confidence before God is that you believe in his only Son Jesus Christ our Lord (4:14-16; 5:1, 5).

The second sign is moral. You should have confidence if you live a righteous life (3:6-9).  Those who practice wickedness, who plunge headlong into sin, who not only stumble, but habitually walk in wickedness–should not be confident.  This is no different than what Paul tells us in Romans 6 that we are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness and in Galatians 5 that those who walk in the flesh will not inherit the kingdom.  This is no different than what Jesus tells us in John 15 that a good tree cannot bear bad fruit and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.  So if you live a morally righteous life you should have confidence (3:24). And lest this standard make you despair, keep in mind that part of living a righteous life is refusing to claim that you live without sin and coming to Christ for cleansing when you do sin (1:9-10).

The third sign is social. You should have confidence if you love other Christians (3:14).  If you hate like Cain you do not have life.  But if your heart and your wallet are open to your brothers and sisters eternal life abides in you. One necessary sign of true spiritual life is that we love one another (4:7-12, 21).

These are John’s three signposts to assure us that we are on the road that leads to eternal life: we believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God; we live a righteous life; and we love other Christians.  Or we can put it this way: we know we have eternal life if we love Jesus, we love his commands, and we love his people.  No one of the three is optional.  All must be present for our assurance (see 2:4, 6; 4:20; 5:2). John belabors the same points again and again. Do you love God?  Do you love his commands?  Do you love his people?  If you don’t, it’s a sign you have death.  If you do, it’s sign that you have life. And that means confidence instead of condemnation.

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/

Trying To Find Commitment In The Church!

The word COMMIT means to give in trust or charge, to pledge oneself to a position, an issue or a question, and to bind or obligate. And what I have noticed is that the idea of commitment is no longer visible in the church.  There is very little commitment to the church among its members.

Take what God says in Hebrews 13:17, “ Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”

When we join a particular church we are COMMITTING ourselves to that particular place and those people.  It is a COMMITMENT akin to the marriage COMMITMENT.  We have pledged ourselves and we have bound ourselves to this church for better or worse.  We have COMMITTED ourselves to do everything we can to make this place and these people better and more glorifying to God.

Sadly to say, you don’t see that kind of COMMTTMENT concerning the church anymore.  Instead of obedience and submission to the leadership of the church, if we are dissatisfied we find another church. Instead of speaking to the leadership about what is dissatisfying, we stop showing up.  Instead of being obedient in giving, we question the distribution of funds and we cease giving.

I understand that is what is commonly done in our culture and in these last times but it does not make it right.  I have to admit that I have never seriously considered and studied this topic.  I grew up in this non-COMMITAL environment as well.  I have watched so many hop from church to church. I have seen churches deeply hurt by those who have grouped together to split from a church and go to other churches or start their own.

My question is where in the BIBLE do we see this happen.  Where do we see anyone in the BIBLE change churches because they did not like something the church did or did not do? Where do we read the Paul saying that church is dependant on our likes and dislikes?

I do understand that there maybe times when heresy may enter into the church and exiting that church may a viable resort.  But Biblically, it should be the last resort.  We should confront and try to correct the heresy.  The letters to the seven churches was a challenge to change the things that were amiss in the church not to abandon it. It was not an encouragement to leave Sardis and join Philadelphia.

The truth of the matter is that we do church according to our preferences.  If things are done to our approval and the leadership caters to me then I’m happy but the moment that ceases to be the case then I start the church looking process. So there is no obedience or submission to those who are placed in positions of leadership.  There is no COMMITMENT to the place or the people.

It does not matter how you slice it, moving from church to church is not Biblical.  In fact, I would offer that it is outright disobedience.  God saves us and then places us in a local assembly so that we can grow, serve, and glorify God.  And apparently joining the church was after much prayer for the leading of the Lord.   But then something happens and NOW God has changed his mind.  He wants us to go over to this church NOW. It is hard for me to have much confidence in a God that is so confused. What we are really doing is doubting God’s sovereignty in our lives and we doubt his power to change the various situations in our lives.  We think God could not want us to endure a difficult situation and that God does not have the power to change it.  So we bail and we find another church to our liking but don’t bank on us because when we get dissatisfied at the new church, we will find another one.

It seems here that God has placed us in particular place with a particular people and the leadership of that place is going to be required to give an account for our souls.  We are to be COMMITTED by obeying the leadership and by submitting to them.  When we fail to do this we are saying that everything centers on US and not on GOD.  It becomes about US and not about HIM.

So when someone wants to join the church what they are really saying is “Hey preacher, we would like to join your church until we get mad, tired, bored, dissatisfied, or until something better comes along.”  And it is sad, selfish, and not Biblical!  The Bible says be COMMITTED!

By lakeviewbc Posted in Church

The Cure for Lukewarmness!

Here is a good article that supports Sunday evening’s message concerning the cure for lukewarm Christianity being in our personal fellowship with Christ. Enjoy!

The Sinkhole Syndrome

by Donald Whitney

You know the story. A man has been a believer in Christ for decades. To all outward appearances he’s a man of Christian faithfulness and integrity. He has maintained a reputation as a fine example of public and private faithfulness to the things of God for decades. Then, without warning, it all collapses into a sinkhole of sin. Everyone wonders how it could have happened so quickly. In most cases, it soon becomes known that — like most sinkholes — the problem didn’t develop overnight.

Several years ago, this man likely had a relatively consistent devotional life through which the Lord often refreshed, strengthened, and matured him. But with each passing year, his busy life became ever busier. Increasingly he saw his devotional life more as a burden — a mere obligation sometimes — than a blessing. Because of the massive doses of Bible teaching he’d heard — in addition to the knowledge gained teaching church Bible classes himself — he began to imagine that he needed less private prayer and Bible intake than when he was younger and not as spiritually mature. Besides, he had so many other God-given responsibilities that surely God would understand that he was too busy to meet with Him every day.

One small concession led to another; one plausible rationalization led to the next, until the devastating day when a tipping point was reached and the spiritual weakness developed by too many private compromises could no longer sustain even the appearance of Christian integrity. And into the sinkhole fell his reputation, witness, ministry, and perhaps much more.

If you’re a strong, young Christian, passionate about the things of God, and you find it impossible to imagine yourself coming to such a condition: beware. This situation could easily be yours in a few years. The words of 1 Corinthians 10:12 are an apt admonition here: “Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.”

I’ve been in pastoral ministry for twenty-four years. For fifteen years I’ve been a professor of biblical spirituality. I’ve written several books and many articles related to spirituality. I speak on the subject to future ministers and missionaries on a daily basis in the seminary classroom, and in churches and conferences around the country almost every weekend. And yet I will freely admit that it’s harder for me to maintain my devotional life now than ever in my life. That’s because I’m busier now than ever. I have many more responsibilities than I had as a young man. And they all take time, time that must come from somewhere.

As the pressures of life increase and more deadlines loom, it becomes harder to maintain time for the devotional life. And herein is where the erosion begins.

At the outset it’s likely that very few will know when the hidden part of your spiritual life begins crumbling. Just as imperceptible movements of water underground can carry away the earth beneath long before anyone on the surface perceives it, so the pressures of life can secretly displace the soil of our private spiritual disciplines long before the impact of their absence is visible to others. The more public parts of a Christian’s life, such as church involvement and various forms of ministry, can often continue with little observable change right up until the awful moment of collapse and the hypocrisy is revealed.

I’m sure you’re already familiar with many factors that undermine intimacy with Christ. Realize that it’s almost certain that the “time-thieves” trying to steal from your time with God will only increase as the years pass. My hope is that this article will alert you to this subtle, creeping tendency so that it won’t overtake you.

Never be deceived by the temptation to think that with the increasing spiritual maturity you expect to come with age, the less you will need to feast your soul on Christ through the Bible and prayer. What Jesus prayed in John 17:17 for all His followers — “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” — applies to us all throughout our lives.

Jesus practiced what He prayed for us. While Jesus is infinitely more than our example, nevertheless, He is also our example of sanctified living, of life coram Deo. The Bible tells us that Jesus regularly attended when God’s people assembled to hear the Scriptures (Luke 4:16) and also that He would get alone to meet with His Father (Matt. 14:23). Jesus’ followers need both the sustaining grace that comes through the public worship of God as well as that which comes to us when we meet with Him individually.

I don’t want to minimize the role of the church in preventing spiritual shipwreck in the life of the believer. In this piece, however, I am writing to warn those who will increasingly be tempted to think that frequently meeting God with others can compensate for seldom meeting with Him alone.

There are seasons of life when our devotional habits may be providentially altered. But the general rule is that those reconciled to God through the cross of His Son need conscious, personal communion with Him every day until the day they see Him face to face. And the ordinary means by which He gives it is through the personal spiritual disciplines found in Scripture, chief of which are the intake of the Word of God and prayer.

Pursue the Lord with a relentless, lifelong, obstacle-defying passion. Resolve never to let your daily life keep you from Jesus daily.

http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/sinkhole-syndrome/

Mother’s Day

This Sunday is Mother’s Day and we are planning a special day in honor of these gifts from God.  I am planning on preaching out of 1 Kings 3 on Sunday and deal with the two mothers with the dispute over the infant child.  Solomon, who had been granted Godly wisdom, proved his wisdom in his settling of this matter.  We will try to unpack these verses and see what lessons they hold for us.

I hope to see you at Lakeview tomorrow!

Discerning Revival

There is a lot of interest in these days concerning Revival.  The people of God desperately need it and many are humbly seeking it.  But I am afraid in seeking it we latch on to anything that might resemble it. If it looks anything to what we think revival might be then we call it revival.  But is it revival? Clearly revival is a work of the sovereign God.  He must initiate it and He must inspire it.  Too many times what we “call” revival is nothing more than a man induced emotional event.  And those things will be exciting at the time but will quickly fade once the high is over.  However, real revival produces real and radical changes both presently and permanently.

The problem that I see is our discernment of revival.  I desire to see a genuine moving of God in the hearts of apathetic people.  And I understand that I stand in need of such a work of God.  But we must be able to tell the difference between the work of God and the work of man.  And that is not done with human reasoning, feelings or emotional leanings but with the Word of God.  God’s Word is the means by which we gain discernment of the reality of things.  The lens of God’s Word must examine all things spiritual.  So what does the Word of God say about revival?  Let’s examine Psalm 119.

In verse 25 the psalmist says, “My soul cleaveth unto the dust: Quicken thou me according to thy word.” Revival does not and will happen without the preaching and exposition of the glorious truths of the Word of God.  There can be an emotional, exciting, and exhilarating time without the Word of God but there cannot be revival.  So when I hear that a revival is going on and the Word has only been preached 1 night in the last week then I am skeptical about revival happening there. It is the Word that God uses to melt the cold and hard hearts of his people.  Not preachers or singers but the Word.  The Psalmist says “Quicken me according to thy word.”  The Word is what is used to bring life to our deadness and if we set the Word aside because it is not as exciting as some supposed personal revelation given to the evangelist or not nearly as entertaining as the singing group then revival is not going to happen.

If we trace every real revival work of God, we will discover it happened as the Word of God in a substantial way was expounded to the people.  And the result of revival is that they want more of the Word.  Not more gimmicks, singing, or excitement but more of the Word.  A love for Jesus is so revived in their hearts that they want to hear more from Him and more about Him.  When I hear, “There is revival going on and the Preacher is outstanding” then I doubt revival is going on.  Hearts that are revived to Christ see nothing of value except him.  Preachers, singers, churches, jobs, pleasures, nothing matters except him.

Psalm 119 has more to say about Revival and we will try to examine those in future posts.

Heidelberg Friday

Q 2: How many things are necessary for you to know, that you may live and die in the joy of this comfort?

A. Three things:[1] First, how great my sin and miseries are.[2] Second, how I may be delivered from all my sins and miseries.[3] Third, how I may express my gratitude to God for such deliverance.[4]

[1] Lk 24:46-47Rom 7:24-251 Cor 6:11Tit 3:3-7; [2] Jn 9:41,15:22Rom 3:9-101 Jn 1:10; [3] Jn 17:3Acts 4:1210:43Gal 3:13; [4] Mt 5:16Rom 6:13Eph 5:8-11Col 3:171 Pt 2:9-12

What If Satan Was In Charge?

What would things look like if Satan really took control of a city? Over a half century ago, Presbyterian minister Donald Grey Barnhouse offered his own scenario in his weekly sermon that was also broadcast nationwide on CBS radio. Barnhouse speculated that if Satan took over Philadelphia, all of the bars would be closed, pornography banished, and pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other. There would be no swearing. The children would say, “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am,” and the churches would be full every Sunday . . . where Christ is not preached.

–From Christless Christianity by Michael Horton