June 2009

Love, the Song of Solomon and Christ: a sermon series recommendation

(David) It seems to me that modern and ancient treatments of the Song of Solomon almost always fall entirely on one side or the other of a very broad spectrum of potential approaches.

Some (mostly ancient preachers and commentators) view the Song of Solomon almost entirely allegorically. They look at Song of Solomon and see only Christ, His love for His Bride and His Bride's love for Him and nothing at all of human romance or sexual union.

Others (mostly modern preachers and commentators) get all squirrely over the obviously sexual nature of the book and forget metaphor altogether in preaching and teaching from it.

No one ever seems to square the circle by fully acknowledging both the sex and the metaphor at the heart of Song of Solomon. Either it's Song of Solomon as sex manual taught by giggly-eyed graduates of the Young Life school of theology for whom any mention of sex serves the same function as the bell with Pavlov's dogs, or it's a droning dissertation on Jesus that has little to do with the actual text of Song of Solomon.

Register now for ClearNote's "Standing in the Gap" conference...

StandingintheGap(Tim) We're looking forward to hosting a number of you for the first annual ClearNote Fellowship conference, Standing in the Gap, to be held here in Bloomington two weeks from now, July 10-12. If you haven't done it yet, please register now and we'll look forward to meeting you and your children.

Online registration is available. And here's a PDF of the conference brochure for you to download. Message titles include, Who Will Stand?; Fight or Flight--True or False Contextualization; Cheap Grace; and Worship Wars.

We plan a refreshing time of fellowship, teaching, food, and worship. The whole family is welcome--we'll be child-friendly but we'll also provide childcare.

I hope you'll register now and join with us for the weekend.

If you'd like more information, please e-mail (Mrs.) Ali Trout at churchoffice at shepherdchurch dot com. Or, give her a call, Tuesday through Friday, at (812) 825-2684.

Serving Christ in Cedar Rapids, Iowa...

CedarRapids:Flood (Tim) Two weeks ago, our high school men and women went over to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to serve those trying to recover from the terrible flood the community suffered last year. Led by their youth workers, David Abu-Sara, Veronica Allen, Abram Hess, Emily Hess, and Ryan Schnitzer, they returned reporting that the governmental authorities were not particularly helpful to the residents, being better at red tape than getting things done.

The work done by the group was coordinated by church planters, Jeremy Knapp and Michael Langer, of One Ancient Hope (PCA). Our men and women were given a place to sleep in the basement of Hope Evangelical Church (PCA).

The Iowa Independent ran an article on the post-flood political problems and our group made the blurb under one of the pictures...

John Piper explaining his invitation to Doug Wilson...

(Tim) When John invited Doug Wilson to speak at one of his big conferences, I sent him an e-mail commending him for his courage. Like those who paid dearly for inviting Dad to speak after he publicly rebuked Bill Gothard in the pages of Eternity, John will pay for escorting Doug into the Reformed big top.

But like Doug, John has some courage and those who specialize in anti-Wilson bile should take note that, among men who are reformed pastors of national reputation, John stands with Doug. Why?

John released this video explaining his invitation. Forget the first three minutes or so. Just listen to the last few seconds and you'll get the straight dope. (And by the way, I do wish men would release a transcript of such video talks so we weren't forced to spend the time watching video to get their message.)

Over there...

(David) I've known that the PCA's missions arm (MTW) has worked in cooperation with at least one egalitarian national church in Europe for several years now. I hadn't known until Douglas Wilson brought it to light in this post that our engagement with this particular body has led to our giving it a newly-planted church so that it could immediately place a woman pastor (and her husband) in its pulpit.

Tim's and my dad once wrote that Billy Graham's practice of delivering new converts to Roman Catholic churches for discipling was like Christ giving His disciples to the Pharisees for training. Despite what I'm sure are similarly noble intentions, aren't we doing essentially the same thing in the PCA here?

Register now for ClearNote Fellowship's conference, Standing in the Gap, July 10-12...

SexualOrthodoxy(Tim) Two conferences to call your attention to:

First, online registration is now up and running for the Christ Church conference, Sexual Orthodoxy, to be held October 15-16 in Moscow, Idaho. Doug Wilson, Ben Merkle, and I will be addressing subjects such as: The Politics of Sodomy; Why Women Make Better Women Ministers than Men Do; The Politics of Fruitfulness; Family Government in the Church; Patriarchalism, Good and Bad; Sentimentalism and the Feminine Ethos; and Abortion: The Blood Sacrifice of Egalitarianism. Mary Lee and I hope we'll see you there!

StandingintheGap Second, online registration is also available for another conference I'll be speaking at soon--July 10-12--here in Bloomington, Indiana. (Download the brochure.) Please make plans now to join us here in Bloomington for the ClearNote Fellowship conference, Standing in the Gap. Message titles include, Who Will Stand?; Fight or Flight--True or False Contextualization; Cheap Grace; and Worship Wars.

We plan a refreshing time of fellowship, teaching, food, and worship of our Triune God. The whole family is welcome--we'll be child-friendly as well as childcare being provided. I hope you'll register now and plan to be with us.

If you'd like more information, please feel free to e-mail (Mrs.) Ali Trout at churchoffice at shepherdchurch dot com. Or give her a call, Tuesday through Friday, at (812) 825-2684.

With gratitude to God

(David) I often tell the people of Christ the Word that if they're happy with me as their pastor they have only themselves to blame.

Find a worthy husband and you'll usually find a great wife. Find a faithful pastor and you'll usually find a great church which has incubated and formed her pastor. Sure, it's a symbiotic relationship--pastors also form churches. But it's almost impossible to overstate the influence godly, faithful church members have in the lives of their leadership.

And so it is with this blog as well.

An odor. Is it perfume?

(David) Reading this summary of this week's Presbyterian Church in America General Assembly by my friend, Joel Belz I thought rather sadly to myself, "He's whistling in the dark."

The news of closely divided votes on issues where there should be no division, of "prominent PCA churchmen" playing nice with each other while pretending to debate important ecclesial and theological issues, of 1100 PCA elders sashaying the streets of Disney World to the meter of "The Spirituality of the Church" as American courts legalize sodomite marriage is (what should I say? disturbing? mesmerizing? droll?) at the very least, typically southern presbyterian.

God has placed eternity in their hearts....

(David) Regular readers of this blog may be wondering about the source of the recent storm of angry comments. These comments are the result of a link to our blog from an atheist/evolutionist blog.

A few words about these comments and their authors...

God's Word tells us that creation by itself, separate from revelation, so demonstrates His reality and perfection that we are without excuse when we rebel against Him. He has, in the words of Scripture "placed eternity in the hearts of men."

Those who are commenting angrily on our blog are not God-deniers. The intensity of their hatred belies any claim not to believe in God. They understand and know God sufficiently to hate Him. God has placed the weight of eternity in their hearts and they suffer under it.

Tim and I have removed comments from the blog that blaspheme God. We will not permit His name to be dishonored here. We've left those comments that primarily attack us as men.

Jerram Barrs has done research; he's so brave; he's my man...

(Tim) It's a great help to have Jerram Barrs continue at his post at Covenant Theological Seminary. But not for the reason you'd think.

Rather, because having him such a prominent voice representing Covenant's commitments and vision gives fair warning what kind of education men and women don't get there...

A very light, well-priced, hardy laptop with a killer battery...

21QjlhHv6tL._AA280_ (Tim) Through the years, I've owned more Apple computers than I can keep track of, and at least fifteen of their laptops. Some months back I traded in a 15" MacBook Pro for the then-new 13" aluminum MacBook. It's been the best laptop I've ever owned, and I say that despite being about to receive a new 13" MacBook Pro from Apple because of the problems I've been having with it. The upgrade is, of course, at no cost and you can all learn the lesson that it's dangerous to buy the first iteration of a new computer body. But fear not, my problems are not documented on the web as being shared with many others.

It scared me to go to a smaller screen but my aged eyes have not experienced any additional challenges with the 13" screen. It was worth it for the smaller footprint and (especially) lighter weight. I take the computer everywhere and my elbow is quite happy having shed the weight of the 15" Macbook Pro. So weight, speed, screen quality, keyboard, great glass trackpad, long battery life, smaller and lighter AC adapter than the MacBook Pro, extreme ease of adding RAM or switching out the hard drive, low price, all topped out with the absolutely bulletproof aluminum unibody casing; all have made me a happy camper.

Still, there are two things I haven't liked...

More on disembodied brains at worship...

(Tim) Under the post dealing with the discipline of the soul through the body, a brother asked these questions:

It sounds like you all are saying that those who raise their hands in worship are somehow more spiritual than those who don't. At the very least the people who raise their hands are portrayed here as somehow more mature than the counterparts who don't. Can you not be a Pharisee if you worship with your hands raised or sitting quietly in the pew? It is the prayer of a righteous man that avails much, not necessarily the prayer of the man with upraised hands, if you get my drift. Personally in my prayers at home I may kneel, raise my hands etc., but at church I tend to be more reserved, not wanting to draw attention to myself.

What I'm saying is not that those who raise their hands, kneel, and stand in corporate worship are more spiritual, but that raising of hands, kneeling, and standing is obedient to Scripture, taught and practiced by the Reformers, gives glory to God, and is a needed discipline for our souls. I suppose such statements could be construed as making the case that those who have repented of being disembodied brains in worship are more spiritual...