Dreams and the helplessness of ISIS

We all want control.  Americans especially want control.  We even have multiple departments of our federal government (CIA, FBI, Homeland Security, National Security Council, etc.) dedicated to the procuring, enforcing, and defense of the illusion of control for Americans and US interests.  But control is just that… an illusion.  Sometimes our ability to maintain the illusion lasts for a while.  dreamsWe secure health insurance and life insurance.  We pay extra for increased safety features on our vehicles and strap our children into car seats that could protect them from a nuclear blast.  Even our cigarettes have a disclaimer on them so that we know just exactly what we are putting on the line when we light up.  But eventually the illusion of control is taken away from most of us, sometimes violently so.  A car wreck, a job loss, a cancer diagnosis, a child’s unexpected sickness, a parent’s death can all tear away the idea that we are in control of our lives or of those that we love.

But some helpful reflection on something we all do every day, should help let us down a little easier…  Continue reading

Christian Accountability… not without its pitfalls

In my task of shepherding and learning how to be healthy member of Christ’s Church, I hear the word accountability tossed around frequently.  But since accountability isn’t something expressly set down in holy scripture, how do we even define it?  What should we expect from it?  What part should it play in the typical Christian’s pursuit of the mind and life of Christ?  Here’s an excellent and brief article that begins to answer some of these questions.

Another Helpful Word on Grace and Obedience

With the blogosphere boiling over with posts and responses and rejoinders to the responses concerning how sanctification works in the Christian life, I thought to myself, "Self, why don't you throw your hat in the ring."  And then, after cogitating on that idea for about... ohhh... a good three seconds I figgered the best thing was for me to simply list the the things I have found helpful, starting with the one I read about ten minutes ago here.   But rewind a few months and I read this and this as well and I'm waiting on the third part of that article with baited breath. [How does one bait their breath?  And why does that sound so gross?]  Rewind even further and I also found this and this helpful as well.  And if you disagree with me or those things I have found helpful, I will slay you like the uncircumcised Philistine you must be... charitably of course.

Polarizing Presbyterians

A couple weeks ago I attended the PCA’s General Assembly in Houston, TX and was pleased with the general measure of peace that characterized the work of the commissioners conducting the business of our denomination.  With Dr. Bryan Chapell as the moderator, our business was conducted with sobriety and cordiality, with an overall tenor of a passion for God’s truth and mercy.  A decent summary of our work, which ranged from resolutions concerning child abuse prevention and reporting to the adoption of a report that gave theological clarity to issues missionaries are facing in Muslim-majority cultures, has been posted here.

However, there was another Presbyterian General Assembly that met recently, and their story is one of sadness.  The Presbyterian Church (USA) is the largest Presbyterian denomination, yet like the proverbial dog returning to its vomit it appears to be repeating and entrenching its foolishness.  Below is a quote from this article that tells the unfortunate story of the PC-USA’s continued slide into cultural capitulation, impotence, and covenantal unfaithfulness.

Although church liberals love to insist their policies appeal to the rising generation, all of the available evidence indicates just the opposite. Liberalizing churches don’t attract young people, who, even if themselves liberal, tend to flock to churches they respect for not pandering to them. The same is true for racial minorities, who largely avoid liberal Mainline Protestantism in favor of ethnic or Evangelical churches.  Essentially, the PCUSA, by its votes this week, resolved to become even smaller, older, and whiter, creating a future that depends more and more on endowments instead of live people.

Memorial Day and the Martyrs

This morning churches all across our nation rightly recognized the value of those men and women who have laid down their lives so that we might live ours freely.  And without taking anything away from the right-ness of our remembrance, something always eats at me each memorial day weekend when in church.  I think between last year and this year I have finally found how to scratch my itch.  The thing that I think we forget, especially as Protestants, is that there are a whole host of people for whom we owe not simply our temporal freedom in this United States but our eternal freedom as well.  Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna.  Blandina of Lyons.  Bishop Valentine of Terni.  Saint Basil of Ancyra.  Bishop Proterius of Alexandria.  Saint Boniface of Germany.  Jan Hus.  Hugh Latimer.  These are just a small handful of the famous ones.  This doesn’t include the countless numbers of others whose deaths aren’t inscribed on any memorial wall nor made it into Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.  Think about all the Russian Orthodox priests killed by Stalin, those slaughtered in Uganda under the rule of Idi Amin, and the saints being martyred in North Korea today.  Yet, as the saying goes, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.  The churches that remembered those who died in the service of defending American freedoms find their very existence can be laid at the feet of those who were martyred for the sake of Christ… those who took up their cross and, in imitation of their Lord, laid down their lives.  So this memorial day, let’s not take anything away from our remembrance of our American brothers and sisters who have purchased our freedoms with their blood.  But let us also remember those Christians who laid down their lives so that the eternal freedom purchased by Jesus Christ might be brought to every tribe and tongue and nation.

The Real Worship War

The following is a paraphrased excerpt from Paul Tripp’s Dangerous Calling (139-140):

We come into worship in the middle of a war that we probably don’t recognize.  It is a war for the allegiance, the worship, of our hearts.  In ways we probably don’t understand fully, we have again and again asked the creation to give us what only the Creator can provide.  We have looked horizontally again and again for what can only be found vertically.  We have asked people, situations, locations, and experiences to be the one thing they will never be: our savior.  We have looked to these things to give us life, security, identity, and hope.  We have asked these things to heal our broken hearts.  We have hoped that these things would make us better people. So a war rages and we sit in worship like so many wounded soldiers.  It is a glory war, a battle for what glory will rule our hearts and, in so doing, control our choices, words, and behaviors.